Hype Train Departures
News came out yesterday that 2017's top prospect according to the 247Composite, Louisiana linebacker Dylan Moses, is hoping to hear from Michigan in the coming weeks. It was a good sign that interest in the program is rising, but there are a lot of potential factors here for Jim Harbaugh as he decides how much to pursue the enigmatic high school junior.
Of course, one of the factors that will encourage Harbaugh to pursue Moses is talent. Moses is blessed with a good frame with the ability to deliver a lot of punishment, and his speed is deceptively dangerous for someone who spends much of his time guarding the run. Basically, think of Dylan Moses as your prototype, all-around interior linebacker. He's a downhill guy who can't be attacked easily by slot receivers.
A lot of teams will surely be after him, and Louisiana remains one of the most notoriously difficult places to recruit for outside teams (even though Moses is spending his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida, the Louisiana factor will probably still play a role). Still, it's interesting and probably not coincidental that Jim Harbaugh has already sent out offers to all of the top ten prospects in next year's cycle - all except the #1 prospect in the country.
Maybe Harbaugh is waiting to get to know Moses better - something he'll have a chance to do later this month, as Michigan's spring practice is headed to IMG. Maybe he's waiting for a special connection to form first. Then again, maybe he's waiting to pull out the old, Saban-patented 'late close.' Perhaps he's letting other schools woo him first before showing him a truly good university.
More maybes: maybe Harbaugh doesn't see Moses as a #1 recruit in the way the 247Composite does; that's certainly possible, as Harbaugh has gone so far as to visit the #2-ranked recruit, running back Najee Harris, at his high school in California, but hasn't gone to the same lengths with Moses. (Harris is currently committed to Alabama.) Maybe Harbaugh has a particularly big board of linebackers that he wants to stay in touch with and re-evaluate partway into the 2016 season, or he sees a much greater need at outside linebacker. After all, if some of Michigan's defensive end prospects don't work out, it's easy enough to turn them into thumpin' and effective center fielders - something that has already happened with freshman Reuben Jones.
Plus, Michigan has been recruiting West Bloomfield's Joshua Ross (brother to Michigan's James, and more of an outside 'backer like his brother) and Paramus, N.J. native Drew Singleton for some time. The Wolverines are thought to have a strong lead for both of those players. Michigan will probably still pursue another couple linebackers for the 2017 class even if both Ross and Singleton commit, but Michigan's staff might try to hold off and keep their options open with the remaining scholarships. National Signing Day is quite a ways away (once again), and they might find that only a few linebackers are sufficient while other positions could use an extra scholarship, like offensive line or special teams.
And, of course, as much as grabbing back-to-back top-rated recruits is an exciting prospect, Harbaugh's recruitment of Moses is not based around 247Composite rankings. There's an important matter of gauging interest from both sides and building the right kind of relationship - making sure that both sides match up philosophically, culturally, and academically along the way. There are a lot of things to figure out here still, and a whole lot of time in which to do it. So, don't go running for that train quite yet. The destination is something of a work in progress.
Hitting the Links Has A Rad Beard
Jim Harbaugh and Jim Hackett aren't done yet; they're looking to fundraise this week to improve some more parts of South Campus. Tom Brady will also be a part of the brain trust.
The Super Bowl was this past weekend, in case you somehow missed any mention of its existence. Devin Funchess had a highlight-reel play in said game.
Uh, well good luck.
The Land of Lincoln has two early five-stars for 2017: A.J. Epenesa, who's committed to Iowa, and Jeff Thomas, whose Crystal Ball is pointed toward Michigan. Thomas is small, short, and very, very fast.
It's hard to believe that the good vibes are back after that 2014 season. Now, blue-chip players are once again helping to spread the word about Michigan. Great second act for Michigan's pro-style revival.
In the previous article, Kareem draws a comparison to Eric Dickerson - so, here's a look back at the original thing. I'm not sure if it'll ever get old to look back at some of these old Hall of Fame running backs.
There are few concrete details out about Hank Hughes, Nebraska's D-Line coach, deciding to leave his post for other pastures. But this does give the Huskers an opportunity to move on up, and recruiting is an ongoing area of need.
I loved this piece from MLive on a pair of teammates, a Buckeye and a Wolverine, helping each other to succeed in the pros.
Not exactly an original observation, but MSU AD Mark Hollis has done a very good job there. A quirky fact about Hollis I dug up: he once proposed having four college basketball games happen simultaneously in Cowboys Stadium. Logistically, though, the event didn't prove feasible.
I found this video to be absorbing enough to include, even though it's a career recap instead of highlights. This past week, Orlando Pace was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I hope I'm wrong about Fuller turning into a nightmare down the line. Pridgeon, a juco offensive tackle that Ohio State picked up in this class, also looks like a potential starter for the Buckeyes. Also, this was a nice piece about Ohio State's job openings on the d-line, and I promise I'm not just linking to it because of that Instagram photo.
In the early going, it will be easier to recruit for that defense, and luckily for Maryland that's also the bigger need. You can bet Durkin will grab some two-way players as well. Also, a shout-out to the name Kingsley Opara.
Alright, let me pull out the Encyclopedia Britannica. Turns out, some types of sloths are actually amazing swimmers, and capable of holding their breath underwater for as long as forty minutes. Anyway, as I was about to say, this move by Chris Ash makes sense, but still is not a great sign. Kuhr's experience with wide receivers - his position before this switch - was limited to two years as the QB coach and receivers coach at the venerable Edward Waters in 2010-11, and four more years of wide receiver or tight end work at the high school level immediately before that. Meanwhile, Jafar Williams coached running backs for the last five years, but he also coached receivers before that and played the position as well. But at the very least, light resumes aside, this stuff shouldn't be getting sorted out in late January or February.
Maryland has stocked up on recruiters; it will interesting to watch this 2017 class take shape and read about who made the biggest impressions on the recruiting trail. And, it's not out of the question for Jim Harbaugh to steal one of Durkin's assistants later on down the road, if someone like Mike London or Aazaar Abdul-Rahim makes a big name for themselves and Michigan is looking for someone.