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Friday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: Raiding The South

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NCAA Football: Michigan State at Michigan Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Officially Leads For Nico Collins

Courtesy of Mark Snyder and the Free Press, we have something more declarative in the race for elite wideout Nico Collins: Michigan leads, officially.

"They've always been the leader. They've always been up there from the first two times I went. Everything about Michigan. The coaching staff, it's a tradition-type school and just the vibe of the coaches, it's good."

Elaborating to AL.com, Collins has this to say.

"The gap, I'm not sure what the gap is (between Michigan and Alabama)," Collins said. "It's just that there's something about Michigan, and Alabama. And Georgia's always up there."

He's getting plenty of influence from Michigan commits, including top quarterback Dylan McCaffrey.

"Nico's awesome," McCaffrey said. "Obviously I really want him to go to Michigan. He's a great dude so I want him where he fits. I think he definitely fits at Michigan. I would love to spend four years with him."

Elaborating even further to Bleacher Report, Collins had this to say.

"There's a lot of stuff about Michigan," Collins told Bleacher Report. "That's an old-fashioned school…and the academics, they care about you after football, what you plan on doing after football. That, and football itself, plays a big role in that. … The coaching staff, everything is just set up right up there."

Rated No. 13 nationally among receivers in 247Sports' composite rankings, he opted to go public about the Wolverines' spot atop his list after a May campus visit and ensuing conversations with his parents.

"They really loved it, and I really loved it," Collins said.

247Sports’ Crystal Balls still point largely to Alabama, but the Crystal Balls have become increasingly unreliable as more and more people have access to them. Michigan is definitely in the lead, and fans have a lot of reasons for optimism as we head to Signing Day.

And what about the chance ($) to play alongside Donovan Peoples-Jones? “It’s up there, it could happen,” Nico said. “It’s a crazy duo - who to check, me or him?”

Other Wide Receiver Notes

A quick update, while we’re on the subject: DPJ told the Free Press this week that he plans on only taking official visits to schools outside the Midwest, since he’s already seen so much of the Big Ten schools. This isn’t really big news, and isn’t something to be worried over.

Also, he might trim his top ten to seven after The Opening; there’s a lot more in that link that’s worth a gander if you’re curious about his life outside of the recruiting context.

And, not very relevant to Michigan, but definitely worth including: five-star Joseph Lewis did this at The Opening yesterday.

Kai-Leon Herbert Commits

Many Michigan fans know of the Auburn running backs coach who predicted Michigan wouldn’t ever get a top recruit out of Alabama. (His name is Tim Horton, by the way, of coffee shop fame.) Now, Michigan fans celebrate every time a blue-chip from the south commits to Michigan.

The latest is four-star offensive tackle Kai-Leon Herbert, who pledged to Michigan with one of the best recruitment videos in some time. Herbert bolsters the depth at tackle, protecting Michigan in case it misses out on five-star New Yorker Isaiah Wilson. A commitment from Wilson would probably result in Andrew Stueber moving over to guard; otherwise, barring a decommitment, there’s likely going to be no more movement at this position the rest of the way to National Signing Day.

Now, this staff can focus on some other needs - specifically the interior offensive line, tight end, and the secondary. Harbaugh also seems bent on adding a little more to the defensive line and finding a top-flight running back, and another outside linebacker would be great, as well.

By the way, Kai-Leon says he is “1000%” solid to Michigan ($).

"I chose Michigan because they showed me the life after football. They talk to me like I'm just a person, not a recruit, and they didn't pressure me at all in my decision," Herbert said. "They need help on the offensive line with the seniors leaving and I feel I can come in and help out."

Let’s Talk Tedarrell Slaton, Jr.

So, it seems increasingly likely that Michigan will land T.J. Slaton, a five-star offensive guard out of American Heritage. There were some whispers for a while that haven’t come up in these pages that Slaton was considering a basketball career in college, and his Hudl page is certainly heavy on hardwood highlights. At one point last year he also reportedly said he preferred defense when playing football, as well.

While some of this might come up again later, I’d be far remiss if I allowed myself to echo some of the now-infamous NFL combine questions about work ethic and “love of the game” just because someone shows interest in anything outside of football. If Harbaugh gets a commitment from Slaton, and if Slaton commits to playing football, this shouldn’t be a concern.

What matters is this: he is a very, very special offensive guard prospect, and someone I wouldn’t bet against playing right away in college. He’s flexible for a big man with great pad level, he has strength and athleticism, and he’s got great lateral speed for pulling and getting his hands on guys in space. The guy will be a monster.

And with Michigan getting Kai-Leon, and Jim Harbaugh and Tim Drevno promising to mold Tedarrell’s sky-high potential into a long pro career at the position that suits his skills best, the odds are great that U-M can get a five-star at a critical position with early-impact ability.

Five-Stars Attending The BBQ

2018 five-star defensive end Micah Parsons (Harrisburg, PA) will be visiting Michigan for the August BBQ. Parsons is currently committed to Penn State, but there’s a chance that won’t stick. He’ll be visiting Happy Valley next week.

Meanwhile, 2017 five-star corner Shaun Wade (Jacksonville, FL) might be visiting ($) Ann Arbor, as well.

"I'm trying to get up there for the BBQ at the Big House," said Wade. "I'm just trying to figure out the travel plans."

"Michigan tells me they really need me as a player to replace some others. I am a big, long corner - something they don't have," he said. "I've mainly been talking to Coach Devin Bush and Jim Harbaugh. I really like their staff."

Other News & Notes

Updates of Ambry Thomas have come pretty regularly, even though the amount that’s actually changing with his status is probably much less. Still, he provides great quotes ($).

"I'm starting to understand their defense more every time I get up there," Thomas said of Don Brown's schemes. "It's going real smooth with them. Me and JD (Jourdan Lewis) have gotten some work in on the field. We talked about what they've been learning up there."

2017 three-star defensive tackle Neil Farrell included Michigan in his top six this week. The Mobile, Alabama native has offers from most every powerhouse in the country. Four-star corner Jaylon Redd (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) included Michigan in his top eight.

Meanwhile, 2017 four-star tight end Kedrick James (Waco, TX) said Michigan has a realistic shot ($) to land his services. James decommitted from Baylor at the end of May.

“Michigan’s team chemistry is unbelievable,” he said. “Also on the offensive side of the ball, especially with how they use the tight end, so that sticks out as well. Now that they have Coach Harbaugh, I’ve been keeping my eye on Michigan for sometime now.”

2018 four-star linebacker Victor Terry, out of Los Angeles Hawkins, was effusive as well ($) about Michigan, except when it came to the weather.

"Coach Harbaugh just has a lot of energy," Terry said. "The coolest coach I've honestly ever met before."

"I'm not even going to lie, I liked (Michigan) a lot. The coaches, I felt like they were interacting with me a lot and made me feel at home. The weather was just kind of cold."

Finally, MGoFish has some good links to share - five predictions for Michigan recruits at The Opening, and guesses as to who commit #19 could be. Happy trails to 2017 tight end Matt Dotson (Cincinnati, OH), who decided this week to be a Spartan.