Out with the old, in with the new. That phrase is always relevant in recruiting, and it once again has relevancy today. Now that the Dead Period is finished, college coaches can move into a new period-- the Evaluation Period. The newest time frame to conduct recruiting began today, and the restrictions on recruit contact is far less limited this time around.
"The Dead Period was longer than normal this year," said Allen Trieu, the Midwest Recruiting Director for Scout.com. "Usually it started right after the All-Star games. Having one week less this year makes this time a little busier than normal. The coaches have to get out on the road and see kids quickly then get back on campus by this weekend when a lot of schools have visitors coming. For Michigan, they also have a coaching clinic to be at this weekend as well."
As Trieu laid out, the time leading up to National Signing Day (February 5, 2014) always puts the coaches in a crunch for time, and this year is no different. The Wolverines staff was very active on the first day removed from the Dead Period, as nearly the entire staff took to the road and began visiting prospects.
The first priority for the Michigan staff was to send newly-hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier down to Kentucky to qualm any second-thoughts that 2015 five-star running back commit Damien Harris (Madison Southern/KY) may be having regarding his verbal to the Wolverines. It is no secret that Harris had a very good relationship with former Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges, so it is natural to expect some pause from Harris.
I recently spoke with 2015 safety commit Tyree Kinnel (Wayne/OH) regarding the status of Harris' pledge, and the impression he has doesn't very optimistic for the Wolverines in a story from earlier today.
"I just know that, well basically everyone knows, that he's on the edge," said Kinnel. "I think honestly that he'll decommit pretty soon just based on conversations I've had with him. Hopefully we can keep him here at Michigan. Even if he does go through something like George is, hopefully we can get him back to 100% Michigan."
This quickest way to accomplish this would be with a successful visit from coach Nussmeier, and it sounds like the new Michigan OC accomplished just that according to Harris' coach on Twitter.
The next task at hand for the staff was to continue to put the full press on uncommitted 2014 DE Malik McDowell (Southfield/MI). Michigan sent defensive coordinator Greg Mattison to continue to pitch McDowell on the Michigan brand. Defensive end commit Lawrence Marshall confirmed that the Wolverines' DC stopped by earlier today.
As the teammate of Marshall, the 6'7", 290 lb. McDowell is more than familiar with what the Wolverines have to offer. After taking a series of unofficial visits to Michigan and Michigan State over the past few months, McDowell is in the midst of taking his five official visits down south. After visiting Alabama and Florida last month, Malik will be visiting Florida State this weekend and LSU the next before finishing with Ohio State on January 31.
As of right now, Marshall and McDowell plan to officially announce their commitments on National Signing Day at the HYPE Center in Dearborn Heights, MI. In a recent story at Maize N Brew, Marshall touched on where McDowell might be committing to on February 5. To no fault of his own, Lawrence was not able to divulge too much.
"I really don't know what he's thinking about, but I think he's still choosing Michigan right now," said Marshall. "It will be a big surprise when he comes out with his decision. It's a mystery with him."
Keeping with the fast pace of the coaches' transition into the Evaluation Period, Michigan extended an offer to 2015 linebacker Tyriq Thompson (King/MI). While Tyriq is believed to be a Michigan State lean at the moment, the Wolverines may be able to fight back into the race for his services. One detail that bodes well for Michigan is that Tyriq, the son of former Michigan great Clarence Thompson, looks up to his father deeply and is very familiar with the Wolverines program. Tyriq even went as far as donning No. 17 for King this year, which was his father's number during his playing days at King as well.
As a converted safety, Thompson was forced to adjust to a new position and learn the in's and out's that come along with the position change. This new role, however, was one that Thompson embraced. In his first year at outside linebacker, Thompson dominated for King, racking up 142 tackles, 10 sacks, four forced fumbles and seven pass breakups. Tyriq is a composite three-star recruit according to 247sports, and is certainly an in-state prospect that Michigan is hoping to reel in.
"I got on the phone with coach Mattison and he was basically telling me that they would like for me to come play linebacker at Michigan," said Thompson. "They liked what I was doing so far and they want me to join the Wolverines."
As with any recruit who grows up as a fan of a certain program, Thompson was excited to hear about Michigan's offer. It was a moment that he described as surreal.
"It means a lot with me growing up as a Michigan fan," said Thompson. "With me getting an offer from Michigan, things kind of have to change. It wouldn't really call it my favorite right now, but it makes things a tougher decision."
While Thompson's decision on where he will play college football may have just become more confusing, one thing that is rather clear is Tyriq's ability to play in space. Thompson moved to outside linebacker at the beginning of his junior year at King, and this move has paid dividends thus far.
"This was my first year playing linebacker," said Thompson. "I think one of my biggest strengths is being able to adapt to multiple positions. I think linebacker has come pretty natural to me."
Another thing that may come natural to Tyriq is being on the Michigan campus. Thompson has been on both Michigan and Michigan State's campus this year, although he was brief in his summary of his visit.
"Going to both Michigan and Michigan State, I had a really good time and enjoyed the visits I took," said Thompson. Michigan and Michigan State are two completely different schools. With Michigan, the legacy and the history of Michigan is very strong. With Michigan State, I got a real sense of family up there."
Another highly-coveted prospect that Michigan would love to secure a commitment from is four-star athlete Brian Cole (Saginaw Heritage/MI). As of right now, Cole looks to be the Wolverines's top offensive target at wide receiver, although he could conceivably start at two other positions in college (running back and safety). Michigan sent defensive back coach Curt Mallory in to see Cole today, partly to ensure that he has a spot at Michigan whether he would like to play offense or defense.
After speaking to Scout.com's Jacob Nye, who also doubles as one of Cole's 7-on-7 coaches, it is clear just why the Wolverines are pursuing Cole with such intensity. As if the luxury of playing multiple positions isn't enough, Brian plays each position extremely well.
""Michigan would benefit from adding Cole offensively because of his play-making ability," said Nye. "When he has the ball in his hands, he has such a natural ability to see holes and make quick jump-cuts and one-step lateral cuts to get to the next level. He can be a big play guy or an every down guy. He is never caught from behind and he also has the confidence to make the play every time with the ball in his hands."
Thanks to his close involvement with Cole and his development, Jacob was able to provide an intimate perspective at what position would best suit Brian at the next level. If his answer doesn't make Michigan fans salivate, than nothing will. Also, check out Cole's highlight tape here.
"At the next level, I see him as a slot guy," said Nye. "He can use his quickness to gain separation from defenders and once the ball is in his hands, he will do the rest. Michigan could bring him on end-arounds to utilize him in space. He is the type of player that Michigan needs and hasn't had in a while. [Jeremy] Gallon was an excellent wide receiver and a very good athlete. However, Brian can do all the things Gallon did, and personally I see him doing much more. He can be an instant impact guy at Michigan, a guy that whether it's spring ball or fall ball, he will earn his way into the two-deep and soon starting rotation. He is too explosive of a player to leave on the bench, including on special teams. His versatility is rare."
On top of his off the charts athleticism, Cole is purported as one who carries himself like a Michigan Man, a quality that is very important to this coaching staff. As such, his demeanor off the field is as pleasant as he is talented.
"He can and will do anything asked of him," said Nye. "He has always had a lot of expectations that he set for himself, but he is a humble kid and a hard worker set on playing at the next level."
While this visit from Curt Mallory was very important, it is certainly not his last trip of the period. In fact, coach Mallory is just getting started. Yesterday, junior quarterback Nick Johns (Gonzaga/Washington D.C.) gave the heads up that coach Mallory would be in to visit in the near future. Johns has long been in touch with the Michigan staff, and he is ready to further develop this relationship.
"I really just want to get coach Mallory a little better," said Johns. "Hopefully we can talk about coach Nussmeier. I really just wat want to ask what he's looking for in a quarterback and what kind of system he is bringing in."
Johns, as well as junior teammate offensive tackle Richie Petitbon, is set to receive a visit soon. Other prospects set to receive a stop from the Michigan staff includes Justin Hilliard, Jashon Cornell and Keisean Lucier-South, all top junior targets on the Michigan board. Lucier-South will receive his long-awaited visit on January 22, which is the same day I believe he will be offered.
As with most schools, Michigan continually does a great job at following up on their offers. With five offers going out last week, it is only a matter of time until the Wolverines staff follows up each offer with its own visit. Michigan hasn't waited very long when it comes to doing just that with five-star cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick (St. Peter's Prep/NJ). Coach Roy Manning was out to see Fitzpatrick this morning, as well as fellow juinior quarterback Brandon Wimbush, Fitzpatrick's teammate. Michigan hasn't pursued Wimbush that aggressively up to this point, but that may change with the addition of coach Nussmeier. Here is a tidbit from an earlier story regarding Fitzpatrick's relationship with the Wolverines' staff.
"I had been talking to coach Manning for a while from Michigan," said Fitzpatrick. "Doing that, I had a chance to form a relationship with him out of all the coaches."
Coach Manning kept his nose to the grind in New Jersey and followed up his in-school visit with Fitzpatrick and Wimbush by visiting Michigan's crown jewel in the 2014 class, Jabrill Peppers. After reaffirming his commitment to Michigan last month, Peppers has shown a great degree of excitement for his college career to begin.
Love when The Michigan Coaches Stop By! Can't Wait Man I Swear.. #JustWaitOnIt👋— Breez (@JabrillPeppers) January 16, 2014
Although Michigan took to the road with gusto today, the staff made sure to check in on a few highly-touted in-state targets that sit pretty high on their board. While there hasn't been a lot of activity regarding the 2015 offensive line situation, one player that remains to hang around as a prospect-of-interest in David Moorman (Northville/MI). As is to be expected, Moorman is being pursued by both Michigan and Michigan State, although the Spartans look to be going after him a bet more aggressively. David has been on Michigan State's campus five times this year as opposed to Michigan's two.
Look for the Michigan staff to set another busy schedule of visits for tomorrow and the start of next week, as there should be a good handful of offers to follow.