Welcome to the newest and most patriotic edition of the Wednesday Michigan Recruiting Roundup! Keep your celebration going with some football recruiting news, which pair great with a hot dog and a cold beer.
This past weekend was the Nike Opening Finals, held in Frisco, Texas. This collection of the country’s greatest talent (from sea to shining sea) was the site of another commitment run. Three players in attendance announced their verbals to Michigan — running back Eric Gray, defensive end David Ojabo and safety Quinten Johnson.
This setting also allowed several of Michigan’s top targets to give updates on their recruitments, many of which are looking positive for the Wolverines. So, like tea in the Boston Harbor, let’s dive right in.
5-star defensive end willing to become a Benedict Arnold and join Michigan?
There has been plenty of discussion over Michigan’s pursuit of Zach Harrison, the 5-star defensive end who lives 20 minutes from Columbus. Many are trying not to get their hopes up with such a highly-rated prospect in Ohio, but Michigan has been doing all they can in order to pull him from his hometown team.
Harrison took his official to Ann Arbor two weeks ago, and that experience has shaken things up in his mind.
“I’m more confused than I’ve ever been,” Harrison told TMI’s Sam Webb ($). “I had a great time on both visits. There were good things about both visits and bad things about both visits.”
He also touched on the dynamic of living so close to a powerhouse school like Ohio State. “(Playing close to home) is positive and negative,” he said. “The positive is that I’ll be a hometown hero, everyone loves the Ohio State Buckeyes. Who’s not a Buckeye that lives 20 minutes from Ohio State? It’s also a negative because sometimes you want to get away from home and be on your own for a little bit. When your parents are 20 minutes away, it’s kind of hard to do.”
Harrison said he is still planning on deciding on his birthday, August 14. Harrison added, “If I wait any longer it’s not going to get any clearer.”
It will be in Michigan’s favor to push that back as much as they can. The longer Harrison takes to decide, the better it gives Michigan’s staff to make up ground and possibly push ahead.
The 5-star Battle for (Bunker) Hill
Michigan has been searching for an elite safety this cycle, and where else to look than the No. 1 safety in the country, Oklahoma native Daxton Hill.
In an interview with TMI’s Josh Newkirk ($), Hill talked about the love Michigan has shown him. “I loved it up there when I visited. It felt like home when I went up there...Just the way they treat me, cause I am far away they always stay in contact with me,” Hill said. “That really puts in my head that they really want me. Just being up there they showed me home, so it’s always good being up there.”
Hill has an official planned for Ann Arbor on September 15 for Michigan’s game against SMU. He took an official to Alabama this spring and is targeting Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Clemson for his remaining visits. Oklahoma is the Crystal Ball favorite, with 80 percent
4-star receiver willing to cross the Delaware River to play for Michigan
Michigan is dipping back into their favorite territory — Connecticut — to unearth gems and pursue 4-star wide receiver Cornelius Johnson.
Michigan has been targeting Johnson for over a year, before other programs had discovered him, and their interest is paying off now that he is performing on a national stage.
Johnson told The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb ($) about his feelings towards Michigan, “They’re definitely in the top five for me when I narrow it down. So, for them I really like the staff. I obviously like the facilities too, they’re crazy and amazing, but that’s who you’re going to be around the most, the coaches, who I like a lot. If I get to an official maybe I can see some more of the players socially. That’s important too because they’ll be your teammates.”
Michigan has a huge advantage in their favor; Johnson’s mom is an alumna and originally from Detroit. “She’s stressing, ‘Michigan. Michigan.’ She’s Go Blue,” Johnson said.
Anyone who follows recruiting knows that getting the parents on board is huge, and it looks like Michigan won’t have to try hard with mom.
Johnson says Notre Dame and Stanford are also locks to make his top five, with the former holding the only three Crystal Ball predictions for him. Safe to say academics won’t be an issue with the talented receiver.
4-star general of Lafayette possibly making another visit to Michigan
Surprise, Michigan is in the running for a highly touted defensive line prospect. 4-star defensive end George Karlaftis has kept his pledge to hometown Purdue despite heavy interest from top programs across the country. However, Michigan is in the best shape to flip him if coach Jeff Brohm were to leave for another job after a successful season in West Lafayette.
Karlaftis explained why he has kept taking visits, especially to Ann Arbor. “I’ve told coaches this too, I’m kind of (looking) for a backup plan, you know? Cause coach (Jeff Brohm) could leave or any coach in the county can leave and go somewhere else at any point and time,” Karlaftis said. “So kind of a back up and know they still care about me. And it would be fine to go there last minute,” he told TMI’s Josh Newkirk ($).
Karlaftis has been building a relationship with coach Greg Mattison, calling him “One of the best, if not the best D-line coach in the country.”
He also added that while he’s at The Opening, he’ll take the chance to talk to Rashan Gary about his decision to go to Michigan. Gary is helping out as an alumni coach at the event, and that chance to meet with Michigan targets is very valuable.
If Brohm does end up leaving, look for Michigan to be the school at which Karlaftis feels the most comfortable.
Is a 4-star wide receiver willing to give his John Hancock for the Wolverines?
Another top target at wide receiver is 4-star Kyle Ford, who has been lighting it up at The Opening.
The California native has made the trip to Ann Arbor before, and now is ready to come back in an official capacity.
“It’s a great college town, a great area, and (there are) great people around there. I’m just excited to get back up there and see Coach Harbaugh, Coach McElwain, and everyone,” Ford told TMI’s Sam Webb ($).
Ford also talked about who is in his top group. “I’m still (weighing) my options a little bit,” Ford said. “I think the main ones (are those) that I visited and (that) I take a little more serious like Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, I went out there and obviously I’m pretty high on them, USC, and UCLA. Those are just a couple of them.”
Given that Ford is a highly-touted wide receiver from Southern California, USC naturally holds all five of his Crystal Ball selections. However, insiders believe they are not really a factor, and schools like Michigan, Oregon and Colorado are in a better position to land him, showing that he is not afraid to leave home to play football.
Michigan has been on fire on the recruiting trail lately, and with just under 20 commits in their class, they clearly have been focusing on some remaining highly-rated targets to finish off what should be a rebound recruiting class.
Looking back, the June 22 weekend will be likened to the Battle of Saratoga, the turning point in a war for Michigan football greatness.
Now that you’ve caught up on all the recent news with Michigan recruiting, enjoy your cookouts and fireworks, and make sure to come back next week for more updates with the recruiting roundup!