In The Hunt For Jay Tufele
A name that hasn’t come up much yet, but is worth taking a very close look at, is high-four-star defensive tackle and #1 player in the state of Utah, Jay Tufele (South Jordan, UT). Tufele is an amazing talent, and it just so happens that Michigan sits in his top three ($).
"Their coaching staff is so amazing," he told 247Sports. "They brought a satellite camp down (to Orem, Utah). It was fun getting to know everyone. Coach Jim Harbaugh, he's an awesome coach. I know their recruiting class is on the come up. It was amazing. Meeting every one of the coaches, they treated me like I was their own."
Michigan is battling Ohio State and Utah for Tufele’s services in a race that, according to Steve Lorenz, will be one of the more important recruitments for Michigan down the stretch ($).
“Most are going to assume that this will eventually become a Buckeye/Wolverine battle, but I have already been told by a great source that Utah should not be slept on here. They have produced some good defensive linemen in recent classes (as Tufele told Simmons) and the comfort factor staying close to home is something he will consider as well.
“Again, I really think this is a race Michigan can win. I think he is going to like what he sees when he visits Ann Arbor, whenever that may be.”
Let’s Talk Five-Stars
Let’s start this off with a very familiar name, Tedarrell Slaton. Michigan commit Kai-Leon Herbert gave a great interview to Sam Webb and Josh Henschke this week, and he spoke about T.J.’s ongoing recruitment ($).
"With T.J. he loved Michigan," Herbert said. "He absolutely loved it. I can't speak for him as a commitment wise but I can see him coming. He's still considering Clemson and Tennessee, all those other schools. But I like my chances with him, I'd definitely love to play with my right hand again."
There’s a lot more good stuff in there about Kai-Leon and Michigan if you have a Scout subscription.
Another familiar name is cornerback/receiver Darnay Holmes, the California product who’s starting to slow down and enjoy his recruitment process. He gave very positive statements ($) toward a lot of programs this weekend to 247Sports. Regarding Michigan:
"David Long’s up (in Ann Arbor) and he’s hitting me up constantly. He loves it. Harbaugh is up there. They have a great defensive coordinator, so they have a lot of things going on. Plus they’re sponsored by Jordan, so that’s something [I like] (laughs)."
I suppose you could try to read into the tea leaves here - he has a good friend at UCLA! Nebraska is like a family! O-H-I-O! - but honestly, it seems like this is something to put on the back-burner and check in on later - and, more specifically, probably early August, when Holmes will be attending Michigan’s BBQ at the Big House. A great visit then could give Michigan some separation.
A brief update about Cam Akers, the Mississippi running back who has recently been minted a five-star:
“Really just trying to get on campus,” Akers said to Scout’s Josh Newkirk ($). “That’s really just been the main thing. I got to try to plan to get up there. I’m trying to see if I want to go up there for a game or not to take an official. That’s ... really the plan right there.”
Akers is getting pursued by a lot of teams, but has made a good relationship with Tyrone Wheatley. Again, a visit could do a lot of good.
And, since the conversation about offensive tackles absolutely will not die, let’s talk about a pair of five-star tackles who are worth a mention: first Foster Sarell, a native of Graham, Washington who said this week ($) that an official visit to Michigan was “a possibility.”
"I talk to (Jay Harbaugh) more than everybody (on Michigan’s staff) because he recruits in the Northwest. He's a cool dude and nice with everything he says and I think he's doing a good job."
Jay's father Jim is also frequently texting with Sarell while Sarell's potential future position coach does his best to chat up the five-star talent as well.
"(Drevno's) awesome, he's really chill and a cool dude," Sarell said. "He came by the school and they're going to do big things over there, they've got some great recruits."
Another long-shot at the tackle position is Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola, FL), who is currently committed to Alabama but is still looking around.
"I'm checking out these schools but a big part of the reason why I'm taking an official visit is because I just can't get up to these schools," Leatherwood told The Michigan Insider ($). "Distance and stuff like that. Aside from USC, I did take an unofficial there and I liked it so I am going to take an official. The University of Michigan I'd like to see."
Michigan is on the outside looking in for both Leatherwood and Sarell, but they’re choosing to stay in the race and hope a stroke of good fortune comes along sometime down the road.
Moving on, five-star safety/general defensive weapon Devon Hunter (Chesapeake, VA) said this week that Michigan is fighting ($) to get into his top five, a list that he’ll release sometime later this summer. Again, this is an outside-looking-in situation for Michigan, which has not frightened off Harbaugh.
"He's a great guy," Hunter said. "Everyone knows about his coaching ability but as a person he's a great person too. I just love hearing from him and when he can hit me up he does."
"Most of their coaching staff is from the league so they know how to put guys in the league. They know what they're doing and they produce great players."
Lastly, here’s a little something on Michigan’s own Dylan McCaffrey, a terrific addition in this class and someone who has done an equally wonderful job recruiting for the university. He described his approach ($) to ESPN.
“I think a big part of it is just building relationships with (other recruits). They’ve seen the school, most of them. The guys that we want have seen the school, they know what it brings you, they know who the coaches are so I think a big part of it is building a relationship.
“Showing them that you would be a good guy to stay with for four years, because ultimately that’s what college football is, you’re with your team every single second. And I think it’s probably the biggest thing I’m trying to do. Obviously I’ll throw out a few Michigan facts out there now and then.”
McCaffrey could be a pivotal part of helping this staff land Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins.
Checking In On A Couple Linebackers
We haven’t paid an extreme amount of attention to four-star outside linebacker Drew Singleton, even though he remains one of the top targets on the board for the ‘17 class thanks to his athleticism and run-plugging ability. (By the way, if you enjoy Hudl highlights, you’ll definitely enjoy watching Singleton.) Singleton has been courted hard by Michigan and Clemson, among many others, and admitted this week ($) that Clemson “has a slight edge,” thanks to the Tigers’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Brent Venables.
"All I can say is he's the most transparent coach. What you see is what you get... He doesn't sugarcoat anything. He doesn't sell you anything. He's straight-forward. He wants me to be there. He's doing a great job recruiting me. The whole Clemson staff is doing a great job recruiting me."
As for Michigan’s Chris Partridge, who shares a connection with Singleton through Paramus Catholic, Drew had this to say.
“...to be honest, Coach Partridge isn't putting a lot of pressure on me because he knows there's already a lot of pressure on me because of the connections I have," Singleton said. "When I talk to coach Partridge we don't even talk about football or recruiting (because) it's about me getting better as a player honestly. It's not even about where I'm going to school."
Michigan commit Josh Ross is chipping in a little, too. He’s been recruiting Singleton at The Opening ($).
“They kind of set it up for me,” he said. “But Drew Singleton, he’s my roommate. I’ve been with him throughout the whole camp. When I recruit I really don’t nag them, I talk to them, I tell them how it is. I mean a person is going to choose where he wants to go. He’s a good guy, a cool dude and I hope he can come to Michigan.”
Meanwhile, another name that’s pretty familiar to Michigan fans is IMG product Jordan Anthony, a four-star outside linebacker and originally a native of Maryland. Anthony said Maryland’s ace recruiter Chris Beatty is recruiting him harder than anybody else, but he hears from plenty of top programs every week. Michigan continues to be in good standing with him ($), but they’re currently in a fist-fight with Maryland, Penn State, Clemson, and Oklahoma.
Michigan Commits, Targets Do Well At The Opening
I’ll cut to the chase here: there is no way I could possibly summarize or add anything beyond this fantastic article from Josh Newkirk and Sam Webb of Scout, which has Opening camp updates of Dylan MCaffrey, Josh Falo, Nico Collins, A.J. Dillon, Josh Ross, Benjamin St. Juste, and several more.
Quick Update on Cesar Ruiz
One of Michigan’s top remaining targets on the offensive line, four-star center Cesar Ruiz, spoke this weekend about reports that he was leaning toward Alabama ($).
“I didn’t say Alabama is my leader, but you know how that goes,” Ruiz said in smiling disbelief.
“Decision time is a long time away, so whoever the leader is now… the leader can change tomorrow.”
That begs the question… does he actually have a leader at this point?
“I have two,” he replied. “Alabama and Michigan. So it wasn’t wrong that Alabama is my leader, but I also had somebody else with them. (And there are) other schools up there fighting for that top school list as well.”
Ruiz is good friends with Brad Hawkins, but downplayed concerns about his interest in Michigan waning because Hawkins ended up going to prep school.
Other News & Notes: Stealing Some ACC Speed
Also, four-star athlete Markquese Bell, a New Jersey native, said on Friday he’ll definitely be taking official visits to Clemson and Michigan ($). Also, he is getting comfortable with the idea of attending school further from home ($).
Part of that may be because of his travel itinerary. After Markquese performed well at the Ohio State satellite camp in New Jersey, Urban Meyer’s been trying to get him to Columbus, which Bell will do right around the same time he takes in Michigan’s BBQ and a BBQ at Rutgers. Florida is recruiting him hard as well, and could get a visit.
Finally, happy trails to four-star offensive guard Robert Hainsey (Notre Dame) and four-star safety Grant Delpit (LSU).