It is the storyline that won’t die.
Four-star Florida native Kai-Leon Herbert has announced he’ll be committing this Wednesday to either Florida, Miami or Michigan. I have a feeling that Herbert will go blue - his Crystal Balls indicate the same - but only time will tell. If that is the case, it bodes extremely well for Michigan’s chances with high school teammate Tedarrell Slaton, Jr., which is an interesting subplot in its own right. But we’ll save the discussion about gold-chip ramifications for a little bit later.
A commitment from Herbert would also give Harbaugh four tackles in the 2017 class - something that seems inevitable at this point anyway, no matter who those four might be. And while that might seem like too many, it is the fastest way to shore up depth short of adding an elite graduate transfer for 2016. Losing Demery Hamilton in the 2016 class, combined with swapping out the four-star Erik Swenson for three-star guard Stephen Spanellis, put Harbaugh in a bind here, and the early part of the ‘17 cycle has been all about getting out of that bind.
It seems unlikely that Harbaugh will push out one of the three-star commits in favor of someone like Isaiah Wilson. Stueber and Honigford are both solid to Michigan, at a position that became an area of concern because of recruiting attrition, and both fit the mold of a Harbaugh player. Harbaugh wanted a five-star who might have been able to play right away, of course, but he also ultimately wanted depth and stability. He won’t risk the latter to roll his dice on the former.
As for concerns about an eventual decommitment from Joel Honigford, an Ohio player who at one point was waiting around for an offer from Urban Meyer, those are probably unfounded ($).
"I know a lot of people think, 'oh well he picked Michigan to get back at Ohio State.' But, that's not true. I picked Michigan because it was best for me," he said. "People think 'Michigan was a backup plan,' but I would have picked Michigan, even if Ohio State offered and that's no lie. I am all in for Michigan."
He continued: "Obviously everything they have there stood out. The coaches and education, but there was just that one thing that I can't put my finger on that just felt right," Honigford said. "It felt like home."
So then, what to do if a five-star target wants to commit to Michigan? Five tackles would be a truly crazy amount to add in one cycle. However, the only five-star left on the board at this point with a realistic shot at landing at U-M is Isaiah Wilson, the Poly Prep star who has Michigan in his top five and is seriously considering Georgia and Alabama.
If Wilson does go blue, you have two tackles - Wilson and Stueber - that can move inside and play guard if need be. For those that might scoff at that, it’s worth pointing out that both of Michigan’s current starting guards are 6’5” or taller, and one of them is a former right tackle. Wilson and Stueber have the physical style to excel at guard, while also showing good footwork and positional flexibility.
Speaking of Wilson, by the way, the five-star had this to say about Michigan this week:
"I like to think of it as a five way tie between my schools that I've seen, that I've slated my officials for. But I'm still very high on Michigan and I like what the program is doing. I also like the coaching staff a lot. I feel very comfortable in Ann Arbor. But I also need to take my time with my recruitment.
"They're just special. They're special guys. I honestly haven't met a group like them - that's not to say that they're better than anybody else or that other people are bad - but that group is just a special group. With Harbaugh leading the way, and Drevno - we all know what he's capable of with his offensive lineman. Coach Wheatley is a great guy. Really down to earth, a real genuine guy. He has been to my school a few times. Talked about the little things. That whole staff is just a group of great guys."
So, moving forward, I expect Harbaugh to try to maintain his current commitments and aim for four additions overall. After that, things should start to settle down on the tackle front. Then we can turn our attention to the interior positions, where T.J. Slaton becomes a major talking point and Michigan is also pursuing blue-chips Cesar Ruiz and Robert Hainsey. Hopefully there is little drama the rest of the way.
Other News & Notes: Decision Time
Three-star linebacker Kenneth Murray will be announcing his decision August 10th; Michigan seems to be in the backseat to Oklahoma, Texas and A&M. Four-star tailback C.J. Holmes will be announcing at The Opening; Notre Dame is the heavy favorite here.
Scout sat down this weekend with four-star defensive lineman Hunter Echols. Echols spoke glowingly about Ann Arbor ($).
“I really enjoyed Ann Arbor,” he said. “The people are welcoming. They all love football out there. They treated me like I was already on the team even though I was just a recruit. The whole city just really enjoys football.
“As far as the coaching and the facilities… I love the facilities and tradition. It was nothing fancy as far as the weight room, but (they’ve signed with Nike/Jordan), so I know new heat is coming for Michigan. Just the (thought) of playing in the Big House… that’s the largest stadium in the country, so just to play in front of 114,000 every home game would be amazing.”
Another defensive lineman, James Hudson III, announced his top ten this weekend. Michigan was included, of course.
On to 2018 for a moment, three-star athlete Cam Taylor (Prattville, AL) sat down and talked about ($) a growing connection between Prattville High and Michigan.
"I really like it up at Michigan," Taylor said. "It feels kind of like home because I have a lot of teammates up there and Coach Bam is there. They’re trying to make me feel welcome and get me up there.
"They try to boost Michigan up. I’m listening to the hype. It’s impossible not to. I was up there for the Ohio State game and even though Michigan lost, it was still a great time."
Taylor had a chance to work with Michigan’s coaches at a Prattville camp, and came away very happy.
And finally, a very brief note on 2019 - no rankings exist yet for the ‘19 class, but someone that might turn out to be one of the top overall players of the class spoke to Rivals ($) and Maize n Brew this week about his friendship with Kurt Taylor and more.
"I really like Michigan lot," Owen Pappoe said to Rivals’ Brandon Brown. "I don’t know too much about them yet but one of my teammates, Mahari Stribling, his brother is Channing Stribling, so he tells me about Michigan all the time. Kurt Taylor is committed over there too so I’m trying to get up there with him sometime.
"Me and Kurt have been talking about going up there a lot. The next time he goes I'm going to try and go with him."