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Tuesday Recruiting Roundup: Engineering program stands out to five-star prospect

Michigan is coming on strong with a five-star and a couple of guys just outside the top 100.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Even though the Big Ten extended its suspension of visits for prospects, recruiting still marches on for Michigan in this unfamiliar landscape. New storylines are continually developing on the recruiting trail. Here are some of the latest.

Five-star OT still considering Michigan

The highest-ranked guy in the country Michigan still has a good shot with is five-star offensive lineman Nolan Rucci. The Pennsylvania native spoke with 247Sports’ director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong to recap the handful of schools he is still considering ($).

The biggest feather in Michigan’s cap here is the academics. Rucci wants to major in aerospace engineering in college, and Michigan can point to a recent player who completed the same path — Noah Furbush. To highlight that aspect of his program, Jim Harbaugh has pulled out all the stops.

“I’ve been on FaceTime with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and his staff and actually got a chance to sit down and we Zoomed the head of their aerospace engineering department along with coach Harbaugh,” Rucci said. “It was a cool experience to talk to those two because they’re close friends. Just being able to watch that dynamic and talk to them about how you can manage football and do that at the same time is pretty cool.”

Landing Rucci is probably still a long shot right now. Penn State, where he is a legacy, Wisconsin where his older brother plays, and Clemson are all vying for the No. 3 tackle in the country as well.

New commit strengthens chances with four-star OG

2021 three-star linebacker Casey Phinney’s commitment last week surprised most last week, but another reason to add him to the class has arisen in the time since. Phinney is teammates with 2021 four-star guard Drew Kendall, who has been a big-time Michigan target for a while. In a discussion with The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich, Kendall made it clear adding his friend Phinney definitely helped the Wolverines’ case ($).

“It does make me more interested in Michigan,” Kendall said. “Obviously I have a great relationship with Casey. I would say, yeah it does make me more interested. Getting to know coach Warinner and coach Harbaugh a little bit better during this time will be important to me.”

This was backed up by Phinney himself, who told Marich separately he would be working to get Kendall to join him at the next level ($).

“Making some good progress with him,” Phinney said. “We’re pretty close. (I’m telling him) just that there’s no better place that has high end football and high end academics and that he can go there with one of his best friends now.”

Boston College, where Kendall’s father played football, is probably the biggest threat to Michigan at this point.

Michigan reigniting interest with four-star LB

After landing three players from St. Frances Academy in the 2020 class, it’s fair to say the staff has a good relationship with the Maryland powerhouse. That led Michigan to offer four-star linebacker Aaron Willis more than two years ago.

There hadn’t been much contact, with Willis leaving the Wolverines off a list top schools a while ago. But Willis changed course recently and released a top seven group this week that included Michigan, somewhat surprisingly. TMI’s Steve Lorenz did some digging to confirm if the staff had been picking up their interest again in the blue-chip prospect ($).

Lorenz found the coaches have “really picked things up” with Willis, and he is obviously responding positively to their efforts.

Willis has an Alabama crystal ball prediction that was submitted a while ago, and the Crimson Tide were also included in the recent top group of schools, so they look to be the main competition.

Three-star CB still trying to figure out visits

Like every other prospect, the pandemic has screwed up Philadelphia three-star cornerback Tyreek Chappell’s plans to visit schools in the spring. One of the schools he was going to see was Michigan. He spoke with 247Sports’ Northeast expert Brian Dohn about how he’s approaching his recruitment in the wake of recruiting being suspended ($).

“I am going to wait until the coronavirus ends and then see about visits,” said Chappell. “I like the relationship I have with the coaches for most of my offers so far. I would go (to a school) for the campus, the academics and the coaches.”

Chappell listed several schools he was going to visit other than Michigan, including Texas A&M, West Virginia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Penn State and Pitt. About Michigan specifically, Chappell pointed to the efforts of cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich.

“I just talked to coach coach Michael (Zordich),” Chappell said. “His message to me is to go wherever I feel loved. I was planning on visiting them.”

Michigan should be a strong contender for Chappell whenever he can make visits again, and is a candidate to rise in the rankings, according to Dohn.

That does it for this week’s Tuesday Recruiting Roundup. Come back again soon for more recruiting news and updates!