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Friday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: As The World Turns

Bryan Fuller
Bryan Fuller

Donovan Peoples-Jones Visiting Regularly

DPJ spoke to TMI's Josh Newkirk ($) this week, and there were a lot of good vibes being thrown Michigan's way.

"It definitely sticks out that they want to satisfy my interests," Peoples-Jones said. "They know that I want to go into medicine. Preferably I want to be a sports medicine surgeon. So they are just helping me, showing me the ropes really. Showing me what I need to (see), and I appreciate that."

The more Peoples-Jones visits the Wolverines, he admits, the stronger his bond continues to grow with U-M's coaching staff and its players. .... "Right now I’m just at the point where I got to keep building it, and we’ll go from there."

Any way you slice it, it's hard not to really like Michigan's chances here. DPJ has been labeled the Rashan Gary of the 2017 cycle, but this one may be over before Signing Day.

Striking Gold In Mississippi

If you've been hoping for really big news to come out of the satellite camp tour - commitments, tangible momentum - this year's marathon has definitely come up short so far. However, the Pearl, Mississippi camp was intriguing, at least.

One of the big takeaways was five-star running back Cam Akers (Clinton, MS) getting a chance to meet Harbaugh for the first time. Shaking his hand, he said, "was really crazy to me" ($).

As of right now, Akers says his plan is to visit Michigan and Ohio State later this summer. And no matter which school he chooses in the end, Akers says how they treat his family during his campus trips will play a major role his commitment.

"Definitely recruiting my family, all the schools have nice facilities, all the nice stuff, the flashy stuff," Akers said. "That don't matter three or four years down the line. So definitely recruiting my family, feeling at home, feeling like it's a home away from home."

It's ironic and perfect that Akers plays it cool with 'the flashy stuff,' because he's got plenty of flash on the field.

The other big attendee was four-star linebacker Willie Gay (Starkville, MS), who, according to Josh Newkirk ($), "turned in one of the better camp performances you'll ever see." He spoke about the camp to Steve Lorenz ($).

Recruiting wise, Gay has Michigan in his top five. Unusual as it is for the Wolverines to be in contention for a player from Mississippi, Gay says it's because the Wolverines have fulfilled a promise from early on in his recruitment.

"They said they were going to make me a priority, and they have," he said. "They have recruited me really hard. I have a great relationship with their coaching staff and they showed today that they can coach you up at the next level. Before they offered me, they wanted to make sure I'd be interested and I told them that if they showed interest in me, I would to them and I have."

By the way, the video above of the guy playing all-out, you-know-what to the wall football? You might think that was the five-star Akers, but it was Willie Gay.

And finally, four-star 2017 running back Kylin Hill (Columbus, MS) said an offer would get him to visit ($) Ann Arbor, but he remains committed to MSU.

As The World Satellite Camp Turns

Kirby Smart participated in his first non-Harbaugh satellite camp this week, and the world did not explode.

Unlike Harbaugh's satellite camp tour, Smart didn't use the camp as a chance to sell himself and his program. He didn't hold a press conference, and didn't give a big on-field speech to the thousand or so campers. ....

"I'll be at a few of these, make an appearance, and make sure that we're there, showing our face, and doing a good job of promoting our university if our name's on it," Smart said last week in Destin at SEC meetings.

No comment.

Predictably, some of Michigan's recent offers have included more unranked players, like 2017 defensive end Donovan Winter (Orlando, FL) and unranked 2018 tight end Zach Sheffer (Ponte Vedra Beach, FL). Both spoke very positively of Michigan in separate interviews to Rivals.

"I love all of the coaches from Michigan," Donovan Winter said ($). "They treat me like gold already. The coaches here at USF really do too so it just felt good all day. They make me feel wanted. I'm trying to show them my best effort and I think I did well."

There's been a constant refrain in many of these interviews that Michigan treats recruits well, focuses on life outside of football and life after football as they get to know them, and recruits a wide range of players very hard. It has been a similar philosophy as the one taken by the Sound Mind Sound Body camps, which were almost banned a couple months ago. The Free Press explored the deeper values behind SMSB.

Kevin Vickerson, who played at Detroit King, Michigan State and eight seasons as an NFL defensive tackle, was brutally honest as he showed the players statistics and showered them with tough love.

Vickerson emphasized the need for players — who also came from Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, New York and Canada — to get a meaningful college education after he pointed to the dire prospects of NFL careers that average 31/3 years.

"Where do you stand?" Vickerson asked the players. "What are you when this game's over? All of you guys are going to be former football players soon. Some sooner than others. What will you fall back on then?"

Great, great stuff.

Chase Lasater Firmly Committed To Michigan

Michigan commit Chase Lasater spoke to Rivals in a very enjoyable interview ($). Lasater talked about hitting it off with Coach Harbaugh from the very beginning - even wrestling a little bit - and discussed where the staff views him.

"Originally I committed as a two-way player at linebacker and fullback," he said. "I really love playing linebacker but Coach Harbaugh likes me a lot at fullback. We made a little deal that I could play linebacker as well.

"I personally feel I'm a little better at linebacker. I think I'm solid on either side of the ball though. I enjoy linebacker and defense. I feel more at home there than at fullback but I just love football. I don't even care where I play but I'm glad I'll get a chance to do both. .... I'm working on my footwork and my agility. I feel pretty good about my straight-ahead speed but I'd like to get quicker with my side to side movement."

Kai-Leon Herbert Update

Herbert found himself in a strange position this week: attending one of Michigan's satellite camps, but not participating, he could not interact at all with the coaches. So he just watched from afar ($).

"I'm trying to see how [Coach Drevno] coaches other people, how that would fit me and everything," Herbert explained. "It's like I'm evaluating him."

Being able to attend a local satellite camp has helped Michigan stay in the race for the highly sought after offensive lineman. Herbert included the Wolverines in his recently released top six, but he still has not made it to Ann Arbor. That will change later this June when Kai-Leon attends the lineman camp.

And one of the biggest things for Herbert to assess when he's here? Coach Drevno.

"Really it'll be the relationship I can have with (the offensive line) coach," he said.  "Whether he is going to better me in life.  I want someone that is going to mentor me on and off the field."

Another attribute will be overall feel.

"How the atmosphere fits me at whatever school I go to," said Herbert.  "The environment with the coaching staff, players that are there now, how I'll fit in with the teammates. The scheme, the relationship with the coaches, teammates and atmosphere and academics as well."

Herbert added that he'd like to decide on a college this summer, so the clock is ticking for Michigan to get him on campus and make a good impression. If Michigan accomplishes that, it will also help them in their recruitment of Kai-Leon's teammate, five-star offensive guard Tedarrell Slaton. The two haven't decided to be a package deal, but Michigan is one of the few teams in the hunt for both players.

Other News & Notes: Big Enough For A Subtitle

One of the names regularly associated with Michigan is Cesar Ruiz, a four-star offensive lineman and Jersey boy playing at IMG Academy. Ruiz had listed his top 12, in order, with Michigan leading, at the beginning of April. He said this week that his top 12 is still intact, but a little more jumbled than it had been - whatever that means. Also, he's looking for a barber.

Markquese Bell spoke to Scout about his decision to go to Wednesday's Ohio State-Rutgers camp instead of the one at Paramus Catholic. The 6'3", 194-pound athlete out of New Jersey said not to read anything into it ($). "The head coach from Ohio State wanted to meet me, so I thought I would come here," he said, before adding, "It seems like every time I go to a school, people say, 'Oh, he's going to commit here.' You learn to block it out because I know when my time comes, I'll make a decision."

There have been a couple updates of when Darnay Holmes might want to make his college decision - first it was to be in June, then much, much later. He told Brandon Justice ($), however, that a decision might come at any time. I'll try to make this the last time I update the time frame with Darnay, unless it's extremely interesting.

A few more links: MGoFish goes into 1,000 words or more about the state of Michigan's cornerback recruiting; a very good read. Also, here's a piece on 2018 inside linebacker Teradja Mitchell.

MAC coaches are very complimentary of Harbaugh's approach with satellite camps. I'm no good with nicknames, but maybe we should start calling Kurt Taylor Bane. And three-star 2017 defensive tackle Corey Bolds released his top 12 yesterday evening, with Michigan making the cut for the Paramus Catholic player. This one has a very long ways to go still.