We're going to keep rolling out a new big board every month or so, with the idea that we'll eventually be able to use this to track the 2014 recruiting cycle. I will attempt to update this in the style of Walter Football's mock drafts, if any of you are familiar. This means that order will change and periodic updates will supplement existing blurbs about prospects. As prospects commit to Michigan or elsewhere (assuming it is a strong verbal commitment, criteria subjectively determined by yours truly), they will be removed from the board. Other changes will be based off of Michigan's attrition, perceptual changes, practice buzz, game performances, prospect stock, and the extraterrestrial movements of Saturn's suns. That last one is a joke. For now.
When you're reading, keep a couple of things in mind; (1) Prospects are ordered based on a combination of talent, need, and affinity for Michigan. If I was just doing it off of talent, my list would look something like this. (2) There's a good chance that a majority of the class Michigan will sign next February hasn't even been offered yet, and isn't on this list (ED-June: Not really). (3) Needs will change depending on attrition during the following year, so the list is fluid.
With all of that in mind, read on, and let me know what you think in the comments!
I have a confession to make; I'm the worst ever. For the past month, I had convinced myself I had done a May update, when, in fact, no such thing existed. Indeed, the last update came in April, about 2 months ago, and a lot has changed since then. Never the less, here we are. Bear with me as I attempt to fix the errors of my past.
ACTUAL JUNE UPDATE
So, yeah. A lot has happened in the past 2 months. 4 kids from the top 10 list have gone off the board (including Drake Harris, previously #2, to Michigan). 3 members of the honorable mention group have committed to Michigan, and 1 has gone to Northwestern. It all shows how fast recruiting moves, and how clutch a May update would have been (shows self the door).
REGARDLESS, we're now down to but a few spots. Most projections have the class ending at about 16 spots, leaving room for 5 more kids. It is a near certainty that one of those spots will go to a defensive lineman and a defensive back. The other three spots will likely consist of doubling up on one of those groups, a wide receiver, and an offensive lineman. Or a linebacker. NUMBERS. They will be crunched. So, without further ado, here is our 3rd edition.
1. Malik McDowell- Defensive Lineman; Detroit, Michigan
JUNE UPDATE... Malik McDowell does not like the media (commercial or social, for that matter) very much. He's a quiet kid who only sparingly comes out and discusses his top group, who he's considering, and where he'll visit. When he does say words, those words often praise Michigan. Still, the relative dearth thereof makes updates sparse. Since March, he's visited Michigan and Michigan State. In the meantime, the 247 Crystal Ball is exceedingly positive for our likes.
MARCH.. I know a lot of people will have Drake Harris here now that he opened up his recruitment. Yes, WR is a huge position of need. Yes, Harris will be one of the best in the country next year. And yes, the additional schadenfreude from Sparty would be delicious.
However, McDowell's film/potential is too insane to pass up on. If he wasn't so raw, and if his competition wasn't so weak, I have to believe he'd have a shot at being a top 10 player nationally. It is a very, very rare thing to find a 300ish pound dude with that explosion and athleticism. In the past couple of years, we've recruited a lot of kids for the DLine that could best be described as 'solid, if unspectacular'. McDowell would provide an electrifyingly huge presence on the line that may not be seen in the state of Michigan for years to come.
2. Da'Shawn Hand- Defensive Lineman; Woodbridge, Virginia
If he were to decide today, all signs point towards Michigan, giving Michigan the top 2 prospects in the Rivals 100 ratings, a feat no other school has ever accomplished.
However, there seems to be no rush in his recruitment. Although he says he wakes up some mornings ready to end it, he seems to be doing things very systematically. Michigan may have the lead now, but they'll have to maintain it through a season of official visits, new suitors, shrinking availability in the class, etc.
APRIL UPDATE.. Hand made a visit the weekend of March 15th, and reports were very positive about his experience. As far as trends go, I think Michigan may be close to the top 2 with VT. A promising quote ($)..
"That dude knows his stuff. He got me thinking. I thought I wanted to do civil engineering, but I'm thinking that sports management fits my personality," he said. "He gave me so much information that I was blown away, he had me drooling. I wanted to join the class right then and there."
Virginia Tech does not offer a sports management major. Since Hand has made it abundantly clear that academics will play a huge role in his decision, this could really be a plus for Michigan down the stretch.
JUNE UPDATE.. After being left off this list in April due to his inevitable OSU commitment, Jones now makes a leap up to number three on the big board.
Over the past month there have been a lot of rumblings suggesting that, although Ohio remains in the driver's seat, Michigan sits close behind. Especially significant is that Michigan is reported to have Mama Jones in their corner. Perhaps what has Michigan fans the most excited, though, is that Sam Webb listed Jones in his 'best guess' list for the remaining 5 spots in the class. Webb is notoriously conservative (and generally accurate) when making predictions, so that was kind of a big deal.
As of right now, Jones just left Ann Arbor and is en route to East Lansing, before capping off the weekend with a stop in Columbus. He'll announce his decision on Thursday, June 27th. Here's Jones' twitter on how his visit to Michigan went.
MARCH UPDATE...At this point, I think Michigan is on the outside looking in for Jones. They were a bit late to offer, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ohio State is in the drivers' seat. However, he hasn't yet committed, so hope isn't lost yet.
Although Michigan has grabbed 10 linemen in the past couple of classes, only 4 of those are going to end up tackles (Fox, LTT, Braden, Magnuson). Following this upcoming season, they'll also be the only scholarship tackles on the roster. Landing Denzel Ward early on in the process was huge; he was a high upside player that could have time to develop behind the 4. With him no longer in the class, however, Michigan needs to pursue at least one other tackle.
4. Artavis Scott- Wide Receiver; Tarpon Springs, Florida
JUNE UPDATE.. Like the aforementioned Jones, Scott also rockets up the the big board after recent sentiments have been more and more in favor of Michigan. There seems to be one more spot open at the wide receiver position, and time is a critical factor here. In April, I said this about Scott:
If Scott decides before Michigan's summer camp, I think he'll end up a Wolverine. If he decides after, he stays in state at Florida.
I'd like to amend that a bit. If Scott decides before the end of August, I think he'll end up a Wolverine. If he decides later, I think he'll stay in state.
My thinking at that time was that Moe Ways would be offered at the camp and lock up the last receiver spot. Since then, it's become clear that there remains a third open spot at wide receiver, though I don't think that spot will remain open after August. Scott is scheduled to be in town for the BBQ at the Big House, where some believe he'll commit. As always, stay tuned to MaizeNBrew for the latest updates at that date draws closer.
APRIL UPDATE.. Scott, the teammate of '14 commit Mason Cole and '15 prospect George Campbell, is a bit of an enigma. Opinions on him are fairly split; some think he'll be one of the next commits, others think that Michigan doesn't stand a chance. An important figure in his recruitment will be his mother, who may or may not want him to stay close to home. ($) I tend to agree with the latter, and think he's more likely to end up at Georgia or one of the Florida schools. However, he will be in town for the Spring Game, so all hope isn't lost.
As far as ability goes, Scott is (in my mind) a much more explosive version of '13 WR Alvin Bailey, a Florida signee, who had some Michigan fans hoping for quite some time. I was never too high on Bailey, but I consider Scott to be the real deal. Landing Scott could provide Michigan with some depth in the slot after Gallon and Dileo leave.
JUNE UPDATE... K.J. makes his debut on the big board after quickly becoming a hot prospect following his offer from Michigan. The consensus four-star came close to committing to Michigan this past month, but held off. All's been quiet in Bethlehem for the past few weeks, but he's still very much in contention for the last WR spot in the class.
JUNE UPDATE.. Furbush also makes his debut on the board after seeing his recruitment take off in mid-May. Although he's being recruited as a SAM 'backer, the staff doesn't appear to have cooled off on Furbush even after the addition of Winovich. As of now, he's visited Michigan twice, and most signs point towards him ending up a Wolverine, although he may end up waiting too long for that to happen. Northwestern is also in strong position here.
7. Adoree Jackson- Cornerback; Gardena, California
JUNE UPDATE.. The aforementioned Sam Webb made waves by also including Jackson in his projected last five list. This came as a surprise to most, since Michigan didn't make Jackson's top five a few weeks ago.
However, a lot has happened since then. His teammate, Dwight Williams, has set up his official visit for the Notre Dame game this fall. He's been chatting up Michigan commits Jabrill Peppers and Michael Ferns a lot these past few weeks, especially the former. Based on what I've read, it still seems like it'll be a long shot to get Jackson in the class, but Webb's addition softens my skepticism. He's planning on touring through the Midwest schools this summer, when he returns to his home state of Illinois.
8. Kalen Ballage- Runningback; Peyton, Colorado
JUNE UPDATE.. Replacing Mixon and Hilliman on the top list is Ballage, a talented athlete out of Colorado who now looks like the most realistic option at running back in this cycle. He was scheduled to be in town this weekend, although I've yet to hear anything on how that visit went down. Still, he's talked up Michigan quite a bit, so this visit should go a long way towards shoring up the top spot on his list.
9. Darrion Owens- Linebacker; Orange Park, Florida
JUNE UPDATE.. A lot of Michigan insiders have been talking up Owens as one of the top targets left for the coaches. Unfortunately, it seems like UGA has developed the inside track on Owens after camping in Athens and receiving an offer.
Owens has the size and frame to grow into a SAM in college, but the athleticism (after playing safety in school) to play the WILL position as well. That kind of versatility could be important, as Michigan's need at linebacker might not be clear until next year, when the coaching staff evaluates how all of the players fit into their system following a full season of practices.
JUNE UPDATE... Nicholson has floated around this spot for the past few months because it doesn't seem like much has changed with him. He's one of Michigan's only offer recipients at the safety position, and most seem to have UM in the driver's seat despite his quiet nature. A year after taking Hill and Thomas, safety isn't a huge position of need, but adding Nicholson would be a nice luxury for the coaching staff.
APRIL UPDATE.. Nicholson is a quieter kid as far as media interviews go, so don't expect his to be a wild recruitment. Moves up as Mixon falls.
He's not the same explosive threat that Scott provides, but he'd be a solid option in the passing game.
Previous Spot: #9
Dwight Williams- Linebacker; Gardena, California
JUNE UPDATE.. A teammate of the aforementioned Adoree Jackson, Williams seems actually to be quite high on the Wolverines. Just recently he announced that he planned on taking his official visit for the Notre Dame game.
However, I think his timetable might exclude him from ending up in the class, and the coaches seem higher on Darrion Owens anyway. If he manages to visit some time during the summer, he might move up a bit on the board. For now, he'll stay here.
Jimmie Swain- Linebacker; Lee's Summit, Missouri
JUNE UPDATE.. Michigan recently offered Swain and made his top five, although TCU is thought to be the leader at this point. Swain seems to be in the preliminary stages of his recruitment, so his timetable may also prevent him from being a member of this class. Like Owens, though, he does provide a good deal of versatility with regards to which of the linebacker spots he could play, a factor that could be big down the road.
Garrett Dickerson- Defensive End; Oradell, New Jersey
JUNE UPDATE.. Michigan has been pursuing Dickerson for a long time, ever since offering him in November of 2012. Some schools view him as a tight end prospect, but Michigan and Stanford want him on the defensive side of the ball.
Since he has the frame which will probably see him develop into a strong side defensive end, and Michigan is heavily pursuing McDowell and Hand (with Marshall being a possibility on the strong side, as well), I think he's perhaps on the lower tier of targets right now. Because of that and his time table, I think he'll end up elsewhere, in spite of the strong relationship he's developed with the coaching staff.
JUNE UPDATE.. Westphal makes a precipitous fall on the board following the commitment of Peppers (lessening the need for a boundary CB), and his ever increasing time frame. If he were to decide today, I still think it'd be Michigan. However, I'm not sure he'll make that decision in time.
APRIL UPDATE.. This is only a slight move and one that has more to do with Hand than Westphal. However, a couple of things concern me. For one, many of the scouting services have come to a more realistic representation of Parrker's height (around 6' instead of the originally reported 6'1-6'2). That'll make a difference down the road.
Additionally, Parrker's timeline keeps expanding. While there were rumblings that Parrker could be dropping soon in the spring, he now plans to meticulously go through the process in the summer. Obviously, it's good for the kid to be sure of his choice, but the longer a Michigan lean (or any school, for that matter) stretches out his recruitment, the less likely it is he ends up in the class. As of now, I still think he'll end up blue. But a lot can chance between now and August/September.
Previous Spot: #4
John 'Juju' Smith- Safety/Wide Receiver; Long Beach, California
JUNE UPDATE.. Another quiet kid taking his recruitment methodically, Smith has planned his official visit to Michigan for the Notre Dame game this fall. However, as of right now, Michigan seems to be squarely behind UCLA, USC, and Notre Dame for his services. He'll have to have one heck of a visit for that to change.
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