Josh Falo Includes Michigan In Top 10
One of the top tight ends in the 2017 class, and the #59 player in the country according to 247Sports, Josh Falo (Sacramento, CA) included Michigan in his top ten on Wednesday after a successful trip to Ann Arbor. His recruitment is still pretty wide open.
A year ago, Jim Harbaugh swung and missed on his early tight end targets, but ultimately put together the top tight end class in the nation thanks to a combination of underrated talent (Sean McKeon), a Signing Day coup (Devin Asiasi) and an under-the-radar Devin Funchess clone (Nick Eubanks) who also committed very late in the process. This time around, Harbaugh and Michigan are hoping to wrap up the tight end recruiting a little sooner than before. Josh Falo isn’t exactly about to commit any time soon, but he is this class’s version of Naseir Upshur or Isaac Nauta.
So, while I understand why the excitement has been a little tempered, let me leave this highlight film here and point out that I like his all-around game more than either Nauta or Upshur from a year ago. They all have slightly different games; while Upshur was more of an H-back and Nauta a more traditional tight end, Falo is a tall, smooth athlete - a wide receiver who’s simply too darn big (6’5”, 227) to be classified as such.
Oh, another thing: Falo breaks down his recruitment for Bleacher Report.
Isaiah Wilson ‘Update’
I should warn you that we’ll probably continue talking about Isaiah Wilson quite a bit - he seems to be getting comfortable with the media - but the news from his interviews basically amounts to reading tea leaves. So, here goes ($):
These most recent Michigan experiences reconfirmed for Wilson why he has the storied program in his top five. They’ve also caused those observing his recruitment to wonder if the Wolverines have moved up his list.
Said Wilson, “my response to that question is, ‘Go Blue!’”
This part was a bit more interesting; he talked a little about his time at the BBQ, and said he hung out quite a bit with Grant Newsome and Ty Wheatley, Jr.
The day was designed to be more relaxed than typical unofficial visits, which was precisely why most of the interactions consisted of getting to know people on a more personal level. They did allocate at least some of the time for talking academics and football, but they were careful not to disrupt the tone that had been set. So in Wilson’s case the talk about how Michigan will lose three to four starters from the offensive line after this year was more a footnote to their discussions instead of the main idea.
“It came up, but they didn’t beat me over the head with it,” Wilson stated. “They know how to recruit.”
In a separate interview, Michigan commit Ben Mason (who reaffirmed he’s 100% committed) mentioned spending some time with Wilson ($).
“For me, it was just a great time to talk to some other people who are thinking about Michigan and I didn’t try to sell to anyone, but told people why I picked Michigan and didn’t try to pressure them or anything.
“I told them why it was a great place, how great the academics are, but other than that, it was just a great time. It was a family-style thing and there were carnival games, great food and couldn’t have been a better time. I was talking to Isaiah Wilson a lot and Jaylen Kelly-Powell. A lot of people there liked Michigan.”
“I can tell you that and I think in the future that there will definitely be a lot more people that jump on board.”
Another Michigan-MSU Recruiting Battle Gearing Up
Michigan may have secured the commitment of James Hudson III this past Monday, but the sparring between UM and MSU continues. The latest target: Oliver Martin, a 6’0”, 185-pound wideout. Martin visited both schools ($) this past weekend.
"Really liked both of them for completely different reasons," said Oliver’s father, Jeff. "Coach Harbaugh and Coach Fisch are awesome. I don't know how else to say that. I loved them, Oliver felt comfortable with them. ... Coach Dantonio is completely different than Coach Harbaugh, but is still likable and is respected."
"Both those schools having him feeling comfortable which is really good. That kind of makes things more difficult but a good problem to have. The comfort level he has with Michigan and Michigan State is pretty high right now."
Building A Poly Pipeline
“The first Polynesian to play in the NFL was offensive lineman Al Lolotai, a Samoan, who was a member of the 1945 Washington Redskins. The first Polynesian to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame was ‘Squirmin’ Herman Wedemeyer, a Hawaiian, in 1979. The first Polynesian to win the Heisman Trophy was quarterback Marcus Mariota, a Samoan, in 2015. And, Inaugural Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Inductee Junior Seau is the first Polynesian to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
The history of Polynesian players and the sport of football is an enjoyable and rich one, and there are more than 60 players currently in the NFL who have Polynesian ancestry. In adding Devin Asiasi and Kekoa Crawford in this past year’s class, Jim Harbaugh is tapping into that talent pool and building a family within a family here at Michigan.
That’s something 2017 commit Phillip Paea wants to continue to build ($).
"I'm hoping to start a ‘Poly pipeline’ for us in this class," he said. "I thought Henry (Bainivalu) had a really great time (in Ann Arbor during the BBQ). I think we have a very good shot with him. We already have a few Poly guys on the roster with Mone, Devin Asiasi and Kekoa. I'm hoping we can build off of that going forward with some other guys."
Michigan is currently recruiting DT Jay Tufele and RB Sione Heimuli-Lund out of Utah, TE Josh Falo and DT Popo Aumavae out of California, and OT Henry Bainivalu out of Washington for the 2017 class. Having a Polynesian connection already established here helps Harbaugh turn Ann Arbor into a home away from home for these players - and for their families.
"A lot of (last week’s BBQ) was about getting more and more members of my family a good look at Michigan and where I'll be playing at the next level," Paea told Wolverine247. "I'm really comfortable there and have been for a while. Everyone I brought with me loved it too. It was another really great and fun visit."
That level of enthusiasm, combined with a geographical and cultural connection also shared by Michigan assistant Tony Tuioti, will help with many of these recruitments. Harbaugh also has offers out to a couple Polynesian players in the 2018 class: four-star outside linebackers Palaie Gaoteote (Las Vegas, NV) and Solomon Tuliaupupu (Claremont, CA). There will be many more such offers as the ‘18 cycle really ramps up.
BBQ Strengthens Ties For Ambry Thomas’ Mom
There was a lot of good stuff in this Sam Webb piece for the Detroit News, and I encourage checking out the whole thing. But I also want to highlight something small and easy to overlook that’s actually quite brilliant:
“I’m going to start out with the food,” Thomas said. “The food was way waaay better than last year.”
Apparently, this year the food came from Slows BBQ, one of the more famous and highly recommended locations in Detroit. I’ve heard sky-high praise from a friend of mine, and it’s been on my to-do list to visit for a while. Having Slows BBQ at the Big House gives the event a little more pizzazz, and it also highlights a connection between Michigan and Detroit. Great, great stuff by Harbaugh.