The Race For Baron Browning
Alright, it may be time to get a hype train going. (Careful, though, they can be dangerous.) Word is getting out that Michigan is one of the top contenders for five-star Texas linebacker Baron Browning. A source of Steve Lorenz at 247Sports ($) had this to say.
"Michigan's in his very, very top group. At worst they are running third right now. He had a great visit to Michigan and his brother's connection to Coach Harbaugh remains strong and has helped them."
Browning, whose 247Sports page has six teams listed as “warm” and five more listed as “warmer,” has been low-key about his recruitment with the media, and his approach throughout has been thoughtful and cool-headed. Michigan does have a lot to offer, on and off the field, and Baron seems to have taken notice.
As for Baron’s skill-set, he’s a Jabrill-like talent in that you could make a reasonable argument for a half-dozen positions. He plays pass coverage well, he’s an enforcer in the run game, and he shuts down the outside runs and sweeps. Baron is currently listed at 6’3”, 230, which is absurd since he runs around like a man 20 pounds lighter.
Most likely, Baron will be looked at as an outside linebacker, but that may change down the road.
Other Linebacker Notes
Steve Lorenz has also reported that Michigan is probably currently aiming for two more linebacker commits in this cycle ($).
Ben Mason is considered an ATH who will get his shot at linebacker right now. Browning and Singleton are a pair of versatile linebackers that could play SAM or WILL in Don Brown's defense, while Josh Ross is a classic MIKE that the staff remains very excited about.
Michigan, by the way, is still very much in the thick of it for Paramus Catholic linebacker Drew Singleton. Also, IMG’s Jordan Anthony will be making it up to campus very soon for the BBQ ($).
Anthony took an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor on April 1 for the spring game. That visit worked out well because he's going to be back again on his own dime for another unofficial visit.
"Honestly, I loved everything from touring the school to meeting the coaching staff, seeing the athletic facilities and everything they have to offer," he said. "I'm looking forward to the cookout [BBQ At The Big House]."
A name that hasn’t gotten mentioned here as much as those two is Will Ignont, a 2017 four-star linebacker out of New Market, Alabama. Michigan has made his just-released top four, though they seem to be running in fourth place. Ignont explains why he’s considering the Wolverines:
"Their coaches do a great job of recruiting me. I like Coach (Jim) Harbaugh. I think he's a great coach. Their players do a really good job of recruiting me.
“(Florence safety, Michigan commit) J'Marick Woods is somebody I've been friends with since I was little. We've known each other since third or fourth grade since I've been playing travel basketball against him, I always see him every time I went to Florence. We've always had a special bond and special connection and that's really a huge reason I'm considering Michigan.”
The rest of his top four consists of Auburn, LSU and UCLA.
Obinna Eze Won’t Make The BBQ
Obinna Eze will probably take an official visit to Michigan ($), but won’t be able to make the BBQ; given the time frame, this puts them a little behind in the race for the athletic 2017 four-star lineman. And given the fact that Harbaugh already has four commitments at offensive tackle, the odds of Eze joining the class at this point are not huge.
“Michigan has a really good academic school, which is something that I am interested in,” Eze said. “And they have a really good tradition of producing really good O-Lineman. I wanted to make it up there for the camp this summer, but I couldn’t make it up there because of personal reasons.
“I am really trying to take an official to Michigan. One of the problems, it is so far up north. So there is nobody to take me up there, you know what I mean? And official would be the perfect way to go check them out.”
Eze insists distance isn’t a factor in his recruitment, but there’s also the issue of time. If Eze doesn’t get a first impression of Michigan’s campus until a few months from now, there may be a couple other schools that have already made big headway. I think Eze’s recruitment is something to keep in mind on the (far) back burner; if something goes wrong, or there’s a decommitment, we can revisit it later.
Michigan Offers 2018 4* Running Back From Ohio
Yeah, it was a slow weekend. Still, Jaelen Gill is an interesting name to remember; he spoke about his interest in Michigan to Scout ($).
“It means everything,” Gill said of his U-M offer at The Opening Finals on Saturday. “It shows they are not afraid of coming after a Columbus kid. Which I like that, I like that a lot, I appreciate it. It’s a great school, I don’t have to worry about academics with them, and everything they are good. And Coach (Jim) Harbaugh is really turning everything around. It seems like everybody I see committing somewhere is going ‘U-M! U-M!’ That happens everywhere.
“I mean I am definitely always going to be interested in Michigan and definitely trying to get in a visit before the end of the summer.” ....
“Next I’ll probably try to checkout a game, I want see what it is like in the Big House,” he said. “It’s the biggest stadium in college in college (football), right? Yeah, when I walked in it was huge. I thought Ohio State (stadium) was big, that was big. I just want to see what it is like in a night game or whatever it is, and see how it rocks when it is game time.”
Gill reminds me a bit of Zeke Elliott - great at cutting and breaking away into the secondary - but with a thinner frame. We’ll see what regions of the country Harbaugh hits the hardest in 2018; but it’s always a good bet that he chases the talent in Ohio.
Other News & Notes
Since we talked about Browning earlier, I’ll throw this in for this week’s edition of ‘Michigan is doing pretty well’ and ‘a Harbaugh three-star is not a normal three-star’:
AJ Dillon's SPARQ score still impresses me; finished just behind 5* Cam Akers at 20 lbs. heavier. Also better than 5* LBs Moses/Browning— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) July 17, 2016
This is already a ridiculously good running back group committed for 2017; there’s a chance, of course, albeit a small one, that Dillon ends up at linebacker eventually.
Nico Collins has a pretty good chance ($) of making it to the BBQ; ditto for Aubrey Solomon.
Finally, happy trails to Kenedy Snell, who committed to TCU.