Overloading at Corner
I've seen the same question on Twitter and multiple websites: Is Michigan willing to take three corners in this class, despite only needing one? The short answer is yes, assuming the three corner are the right corners. The staff already has five-star Jabrill Peppers on board, but Peppers is capable of playing any spot in the secondary, making it easier to take multiple corners. Four-star corner Parrker Westphal has had Michigan at the top since day one; he's capable of playing the corner, nickel and even safety spots as well.
The only way Michigan would take three corners is if the third was a can't-miss prospect. The only two can't-miss prospects left on the board are five-star Adoree Jackson and high four-star Jalen Tabor, who probably won't end up at Michigan:
2014 DB Jalen Tabor told me today his current top five is Florida, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Florida State. #ESPN150— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 5, 2013
Jackson could end up at Michigan, although USC is ahead and he's still planning on visiting a host of other schools. He is very intrigued by the possibility of pairing up with another consensus five-star corner, and he looks like the only player capable of forcing Michigan to take three corners. This question can be answered with one simple recruiting cliche: there's always room for an elite talent.
Running Back Far From a Priority
Michigan will have six scholarship running backs on its roster in 2014. The Wolverines also lead for two class of 2015 studs in Damien Harris and Mike Weber, making the position even less of a priority than it already was.
What are the chances that a running back joins the class? I'd put it at around fifteen percent right now. Running backs holding Michigan offers in this class include:
LA Leonard Fournette (Consensus five-star)
CA Joe Mixon
AL Bo Scarborough (Alabama commitment)
NC Elijah Hood (Notre Dame commitment)
CO Christian McCaffrey (Stanford commitment)
PA Shai McKenzie
CO Kalen Ballage
NJ Jonathan Hilliman
TX Vic Enwere
So, we have three committed running backs, one who looks like a massive pipe dream, and multiple backs well outside of the Michigan recruiting footprint. Ballage is interested in the Wolverines and Hiliman has them in his top group, but neither of them are likely to end up in Ann Arbor. Mixon is being recruited extremely hard by everyone in the country, and Enwere and McKenzie aren't coming to Michigan.
In short, Michigan most likely won't find a running back good enough to take a spot away from a corner, linebacker or wide receiver.
Da'Shawn Hand Doesn't Care For Dead People or Ohio State
CBS' Bruce Feldman landed an interview with super defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, who had quite a few interesting things to say regarding his recruitment. He isn't phased by the comparisons of him to big-name defenders:
Q: How do you feel about the comparisons to the other (recent) No. 1 overall players the past few years, Jadeveon Clowney and Robert Nkemdiche?
Hand: It doesn't get to me. I'm my own person. That's what I want to be known as, Da'Shawn. Not mimic Jadeveon Clowney or Robert Nkemdiche. Those two are great players and all, but I just want to have my own stuff.
He also called a coach out on an utterly ridiculous offer:
Q: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you since you've been named the nation's No. 1 recruit?
Hand: Well, I ain't gonna say any names, but one coach told me that since I'm the No. 1 player, I'm gonna get to meet Michael Jackson. I said, "Isn't he already dead?" The coach goes, "Well, all right, you can meet Tito." I was like, all right. OK, I'm done.
It was crazy, but it is what it is.
That's just.. wow. Coaches don't really get out much, do they?
Speaking of things that don't amuse Da'Shawn Hand, you can add Ohio State to that list:
He's not going to Ohio State. Sorry, Urban. I'm also willing to bet that Ann Arbor has better food than Blacksburg; Mr. Spots, Zingerman's, Blimpy Burger, Pacific Rim... I could do this for days.
Jabrill Peppers: Real Life Comeback Story
Many people in life like to claim that they've struggled since day one, but Michigan commitment Jabrill Peppers has struggled more than they have:
Peppers added: "My mom instilled the right and wrong in me, but when it comes to actually keeping me off the streets, that was my brother. That's why I played so many sports when I was young -- to keep me busy because I knew that if I didn't have anything to do I was going to hang with the wrong crowd. I had a lot of friends that were doing that. That's why I thank my brother. I definitely wanted to follow in his footsteps and do everything he was doing. He kept me on the right track and I thank him to this day."
Unfortunately that gratitude can't be shown face to face. For years Curtis had diligently shielded his brother from the dangers of their surroundings, but no one was there to shield him. On Jan. 9, 2010 Curtis was fatally shot in the face while standing at the counter of takeout restaurant in Newark, N.J.
With his father in prison and his brother gunned down, suddenly the then eighth-grade Peppers was at a crossroads. It was at that point that he decided that his future would chart differently. If that meant moving to a different location and applying himself more academically and athletically, so be it.
Those are some serious obstacles to overcome in life. I highly recommend reading the article in its entirety.
Nike Football Training Camp: Columbus
Nike is doing its annual rounds, stopping in Columbus this past weekend. Scout touched on the top underclassmen performers, which included a few Michigan prospects:
Twin brothers Andrew Dowell and David Dowell of Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward are differently built. Andrew is a thick running back, David is a long, athletic receiver and corner, but had outstanding days and we believe both should end up as BCS prospects. This will be the year they get to show it on the field though.
Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison freshman Dezmond Fitzpatrick had us wanting to see his birth certificate as he has quickness, route running skills, hands and competitiveness beyond his years. Still a pup who needs to add size and strength, he looks like he has a very bright future.
Brian Cole of Saginaw (Mich.) Heritage already holds a handful of major offers and we can see why. He has good size, but is also very smooth and caught the ball well as a receiver. Some schools are recruiting him as a defensive back, but he looked the part of a BCS caliber wideout on Sunday.
We expected Danish exchange student Hjalte Froholdt to be big and athletic, but maybe a little raw, as he has only been in the states for a year, but the 6'4, 275-pound Warren Harding (Ohio) product showed he had some technical skills as well. He used his hands very well and also kept himself low and won the leverage battles. It was easy to see why he already has a handful of BCS offers.
We've got an interview with David Dowell for you all to check out.
ESPN has plenty of video from the camp:
DE Da'Shawn Hand looks the part of top overall player in the country. His tendency to stand straight up on the snap of the ball worries me a bit, but Greg Mattison can fix that in a week.
TE Ian Bunting looks more physical than I was anticipating. His frame is huge, his hands are massive and he moves well for someone who should generate his own gravitational orbit. The only thing separating him from consensus top-100 status is his health; a senior season without any injuries or surgeries should take care of those concerns.
LB Michael Ferns looks like a linebacker capable of playing all three 'backer positions. I'm still a bit concerned about his ability to play in space, but at least we know he's a beast.
Check the link for videos of WR/S Montae Nicholson, 2015 DE Hjalte Froholdt, 2015 OL Sterling Jenkins and 2015 CB Brian Cole.
General Notes and Multimedia Items
Five-star 2015 receiver George Campbell has been invited to Nike's The Opening:
That's a camp mostly for class of 2014 players, so it's impressive for Campbell to get an invitation. He's the best player on a roster that includes four-star prospects Mason Cole and Artavis Scott.
Massive defensive end Malik McDowell is in rare company, ranking as the sixth best player from the state of Michigan in the history of Rivals' rankings. He could become one of only a few players from the Great Lakes State to receive that ever-elusive fifth star.
Massive four-star 2015 offensive tackle prospect Sterling Jenkins holds a Michigan offer, and he's interested in the Wolverines:
Jenkins ticked off a list of some of his top offers.
"I have 11 offers as of now," he said. "Some of the ones I have include Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Temple, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt and West Virginia."
West Virginia was the first school to offer, followed by Virginia and Michigan.
"Michigan was one of my first big offers," Jenkins said. "It was definitely cool because I have talked to (UM assistant coach Darrell) Funk before. He told me how he was interested in me. He came in last year when I was a freshman."
He was one of the top offensive lineman at the NFTC this past weekend.
Jabrill Peppers is still faster than fast, clocking an unofficial 20.7 200-meter dash time at his most recent high school track competition. He was tired afterward:
Yes, people shoot videos of you panting on the ground when you're a national recruit who can run like the wind. But wait! He can rap, too:
I won't tell you that it's NSFW, because ISFW: Peppers raps clean.
Finally, Michigan long snapper commitment Scott Sypniewski has a message for his fans:
Michigan fans be ready for a long snap trick video #goblue— SNAPPERSCOTT〽 (@Sypniewski56) June 4, 2013
Only Michigan long snappers can amass more than 1,300 Twitter followers.