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Thursday Recruiting Roundup: The Drew Kendall saga continues

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Will Ed Warinner and company pull this off?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 16 Michigan State at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Normally during this time of year, we would be gearing up for the first weekend of college football and discussing all the recruits set to visit the Big House. However, these are strange times, and we unfortunately won’t be able to report on any of that this year.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any significant recruiting updates. In fact, we have a pretty important update on today’s Michigan Recruiting Roundup, so let’s get right to that.

U-M still in the thick of it for Drew Kendall

After Rocco Spindler committed to Notre Dame, all focus shifted to 2021 four-star offensive guard Drew Kendall, and rightfully so. The Wolverines had been recruiting Kendall even before Spindler committed to the Irish, so now it’s just a matter of sealing the deal with the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder from Dedham, Massachusetts.

The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb ($) reported earlier this week Kendall had a Zoom call with Ed Warinner and Josh Gattis to go over a couple topics of concern for him. The main concern being how Kendall would be utilized in the offense despite him being a lighter weight compared to other recent guards like Michael Onwenu and Ben Bredeson.

“They (eased concerns) by pointing out the sizes of starting left tackle Ryan Hayes, who was around 260 pounds when he arrived in Ann Arbor, and likely starter Karsen Barnhart, who was around 250 pounds when he arrived last year,” Webb wrote. “Both guys are tipping the scales these days at just over 300 pounds, which is exactly where Michigan wants them. Both were/are noted for their athleticism and were able to maintain it with the additional muscle mass. They are seen as ideal fits for Josh Gattis’ pro spread attack and Kendall was told he is in the dame mold. The comparisons apparently resonated a great deal.

Webb also reports the coaching staff presented plays to him they think he would excel in with Michigan’s offense. He went on to write, “(the coaches) think he is good enough to compete for time as soon as he is big enough.”

At this point, it seems like it is down to Michigan, Boston College and Stanford. Recruiting battles with those schools always tend to go down to the wire, with the most recent example being 2020 linebacker Kalel Mullings, who eventually signed with Michigan. We will see how this one ends, likely sooner rather than later.

U-M trying to flip four-star DT

The Wolverines are looking to add another guy or two at defensive tackle in 2021, with in-state four-star Rayshaun Benny being a good candidate to fill the need. We have talked about four-star George Rooks also being a consideration, but another player Shaun Nua has been targeting for a while is four-star Jay Toia.

Not much has been mentioned of Toia in a while because he has been solidly committed to Southern California since June 2018, but that has not stopped Nua and company from hitting him up consistently.

In a recent interview with 247Sports’ Greg Biggins ($), Toia explained what stands out to him the most about Michigan, including current depth at the position.

“Michigan is telling me I’ll have a chance to step in and compete for playing time as a freshman and I think the depth chart sets up well for me there,” Toia said. “I mean, all of the schools tell you that but looking at how many lineman they have, I do think I can come in and compete and that’s all I’m looking for is just a chance to play early.

“I have a good relationship with coach Nua, and I’ve done a few FaceTime calls with coach Harbaugh, too. I like both guys a lot, but coach Nua is my main recruiter and we talk all the time. He’s a good guy and a real good coach and someone I’ve very comfortable with.”

Toia also said he wants to try and visit Michigan “as soon as the dead period ends,” which means he is not looking to visit Ann Arbor on his own time and own dime. Or at the very least, he made is sound like he wouldn’t do so.

At the end of the day, I think U-M will reel in one tackle to round out its defensive line class, with the most likely candidate being Benny. Toia is still a long shot to flip, so while this may seem like an encouraging update, I would take it with a fine grain of salt.

U-M maintaining contact with four-star LB

The Wolverines have been dominant at recruiting the state of Illinois over the last couple cycles. If they hit on the aforementioned Brown and Morris, they will do so once again in the 2022 class.

But one player from Illinois they are also recruiting heavily in 2022 is four-star linebacker Sebastian Cheeks. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder from Evanston is being recruited by tight ends coach Sherrone Moore, who recruits the region for Michigan, and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary.

“They are both working to build a strong relationship with me,” Cheeks told TMI’s Marich ($). “(I talk with them) almost every week. Those guys are both down to earth and I believe I’ll maintain a relationship with both those coaches even if I don’t attend the university.”

He has also taken notice of Michigan’s recruiting in the Midwest, but especially in his area.

“I mean it’s a trend for a reason, coach Moore is great at recruiting this area and they love to take care of a lot of the Chicago kids,” he said. “Like I said, he’s down to earth and he doesn’t sugarcoat much. He’ll give it to you straight. You are able to be open with him as he wants to discuss more then football and just connect in different ways.”

I think the most telling quote above is when he said he would maintain a relationship with Moore and Jean-Mary even if he doesn’t go to U-M. It really goes to show how strong his bond is with those two guys, so it really sounds like the Wolverines have a good shot in this recruitment early on.

Cheeks, who is the No. 151 overall player in his class, also has offers from Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Northwestern, Kentucky, Boston College and more.

That’s all for this week! Come back Tuesday for another roundup.