Luiji Vilain Commits To Michigan
Michigan got its 14th commitment of the 2017 cycle this weekend, thanks to four-star defensive end prospect Luiji Vilain. Vilain is a great addition both on and off the field.
"He has a great passion and desire for football," said his high school coach, Panos Voulgaris. "Physically, he's flexible and explosive. He also plays low and with good extension. ... Luiji is the type of person who will both embrace the college community he joins and be embraced by his college community. He has strong core values and a strong work ethic both in and out of the classroom."
"(The decision was made) basically when I was talking to coach Mattison," Vilain recalled. "I was talking to him a lot over twitter and stuff like that, and established a relationship with him. We got real close. And Coach Harbaugh too. I decided to finalize it... to make my mind up and commit. I took the visit (on May 21st) as reassurance and I was proven right." ....
"I really want to get Donovan People-Jones, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and Ambry Thomas," he said. "Those are three guys that I think would really benefit us."
"I saw Ambry and Jaylen on my visit. They were there too. Pretty cool guys."
For a closer look at what Luiji brings to the football field, Tanner Wooten has you covered.
Picking A Fight With Alabama
Unsurprisingly, the top overall recruit of the 2017 cycle is a jaw-dropping talent, and five-star Antioch running back Najee Harris is one that Jim Harbaugh hasn't given up on, despite his commitment to Alabama. Harris gave an interview to Rivals ($) and said he will definitely be attending the upcoming satellite camp in his home town.
"I'm still open to everybody," Harris said. "I'm still trying to see what's best for me.
"I'm talking to some schools right now. Michigan, Ohio State, Cal, USC, Texas A&M - I can't really think of any others. I might be visiting Michigan, Ohio State again. It's crazy, I can't remember, I'm bad with memories. ....
"I live right around the corner so it would be dumb of me not to go," Harris said. "I don't hang out either. I hate spectating so I'll be on the field. I'll do that."
The attention has been pretty intense despite his year-long commitment to the Tide. Everybody has been trying to make an impression, but for the most part Harris seems intent on playing ball and avoiding the limelight. I don't think Michigan will ultimately land him, but I've been impressed with Harbaugh's tenacious recruitment of the young man.
Stupid smooth for a big back RT @bartonsimmons: #bama commit and No 1 player Najee Harris pic.twitter.com/omK4Eb9uKb— SYoungblood73 (@SYoungblood73) May 22, 2016
Meanwhile, Harbaugh is also going hard after four-star 2017 linebacker K.J. Britt (Oxford, AL), who has "warm" interest for Alabama, Auburn, and also UGA. Britt said he would like to make it up to Ann Arbor this summer ($).
"I like the way they recruit me," he said of Michigan's coaches. "Even though they are sort of far away they recruit me like I'm right down the road. I talk to Michigan all the time. It's big the way that they come at me.
"I talk to the whole staff a lot, really each coach. I'm probably the closest with Coach Bam [Richards]. They call me and stuff and just make me feel wanted. It's good to hear from them a lot."
There are a lot of "fronts" for Michigan in the 2017 class: Harbaugh is fighting to get into California, bolster in-roads in New Jersey and Detroit, and also poke around Texas a little bit more. Alabama is another state that has gotten a lot of attention from Michigan, but Harbaugh hasn't quite cracked that nut yet. A great 2016 season, one that's befitting of a top-five team, would do wonders with some of these recruitments.
A lot of Detroit players showed out and had great camps this week, including Ambry Thomas and Jaylen Kelly-Powell. Thomas confirmed once again ($) that he will be a package deal with JKP, and Ambry talked about how he's warmed up to Michigan over the last couple months.
"Michigan, I talk to their whole coaching staff a lot," he said. "Actually, me and Don Brown just got done talking. He knows what he's doing, that's one thing I can say. That man knows what he's doing. He knows what guys he wants, and luckily I'm one of those guys."
Speaking of Kelly-Powell, the junior was asked about a recent fashion choice ($).
Recently, friends filmed him wearing a Michigan shirt. A camp counselor shouted, ‘just tell everyone you're going blue!' when he was being interviewed.
"It was just a shirt," he said with a smile. "But my recruitment has been pretty good. I take it day by day ... that's the only way you can take it. Right now I've just got to finish taking my visits, go back home with my family and coaches and go from there."
Rivals also caught up ($) with 2018 pledge Antwuan Johnson, who said he will be taking visits to Alabama and Notre Dame. This shouldn't be too surprising or concerning, but we'll see what happens. Hats off to Rivals, by the way, for some excellent coverage this week at SMSB.
For more in-depth coverage of the camp, I recommend checking out this piece from 247Sports or this piece from MnB.
This should be fun. Let's start with five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson (Bellaire, TX), who had this to say about the possibility of going to Michigan ($): "Getting to play with another great defensive lineman like Rashan Gary gives a great possibility of me going to Michigan. .... The streak of putting up three goose eggs really stood out to me. And it was against legit teams too." It hasn't seemed like Wilson was a possibility for a while, but we'll see.
This is a good one ($) from Kai-Leon Herbert: "Teddarell and I talk about Michigan," he said. "He wants to go somewhere he can make a big impact. Michigan can be that for us." He is, of course, referring to his teammate, four-star offensive guard Teddarell Slaton. Herbert and Slaton will both visit Ann Arbor on June 17th.
Here's some fan service ($), courtesy of four-star 2018 athlete Jaiden Woodbey (Upland, CA): "I like the fan base at Michigan a lot. I know it's really amazing. I've actually been to the city before. When I was little I went to a track meet up there.... I think I was only 11 years old but I remember that it was really nice and stuff." Well, you're really awesome, too, Jaiden.
Next up ($), from five-star linebacker Baron Browning, out of Kennedale, Texas: "I can't speak too much on Michigan because I haven't been there. That's why I planned the [June 21] visit," he said. "Michigan could make a big jump after the visit." I know this isn't breaking news, since Browning is ranked one of the top ten players in the country, but this dude is seriously good.
Alright, this next one has a distinctly tart flavor. Three-star defensive end Trevor Kent (Pittsburg, KS) spoke to Rivals about Michigan continuing to recruit him after he committed to Northwestern ($): "I'm all set on Northwestern," he said. "I've told them that I have no plans of changing my mind. I haven't led them on at all, but they continue to recruit me." As for an upcoming satellite camp he plans to attend: "It will be nice to meet them in person, but I've talked to them enough over the phone that I know I won't change my decision."
Moving on, Brett Neilon, a four-star center from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, had this to say ($) after he committed to USC: "I know michigan will still come after me, and they made that clear," he said. "Michigan and USC are pretty neck-and-neck, so if something goes south with USC, then michigan will definitely get an official visit from me." Neilon's family is full of USC alums, so it might take a disastrous first season with Clay Helton to cause him to reconsider. But Michigan seems poised to take advantage if any number of teams has a poor 2016 season.
I definitely liked what four-star running back Kylin Hill had to say following his satellite camp experience ($) in Pearl, Mississippi: "With Coach Mullen, you get the same ole, same ole, I get to see them anytime I want to cause they are right down the road," Hill said. "It was more about talking to coaches that I never get to meet frequently, like [Jim Harbaugh] ... Hearing from the recruits like [Willie Gay, Cam Akers] and C.J. Avery, they tell me things about Michigan, it's exciting." Hill has yet to receive an offer from Harbaugh, but he sounded very receptive to the Wolverines.
And finally, we'll close with a quote ($) from Dorian Thompson-Robinson, a four-star 2018 dual-threat quarterback. "[Michigan is] a huge offer, with me growing up in a part Michigan household and watching them play every Saturday was a big deal," Thompson-Robinson said. "They have now jumped into my top ten and will probably be in my final five."
Offensive News & Notes
Four-star 2017 tight end Matt Dotson said that it's still a pretty even race ($) for everyone in his top three. Michigan, MSU, and Penn State are all fighting for the 6'5", 235-pounder.
Meanwhile, Michigan seems to have put on the brakes ($) for four-star tight end Jimmy Jaggers.
"Everything is good I guess," Jaggers said of U-M. "I don't talk to them too much lately. It's just kind of been here and there with Coach Jay Harbaugh. He was out at my school a few weeks ago. They keep me warm but that's about it. It feels like things have cooled a little bit. They aren't as full press things used to be but they're still recruiting me."
Jaggers has offers from Stanford, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Oregon. Michigan was once thought to lead for the young man, but they seem to be trailing here willingly in the stretch run.
Tim Drevno is apparently recruiting ($) cornerback Jaylon Redd as an offensive player. The four-star from California is a lightning bolt on the field.
And finally, Michigan made the top three for 2018 four-star prospect Emil Ekiyor. Ekiyor, a 6'2", 349-pound offensive guard from Indiana, has great athleticism and agility for a guy his size.