Do you remember the nightmare recruitment of 2014’s #1 overall player Da’Shawn Hand? Just about every Michigan fan and analyst felt like he was a near lock to choose the Wolverines. But we all now know how that ended up. Question is, will it happen again?
Michigan has been in outstanding shape for 2016’s #1 overall player Rashan Gary ever since Jim Harbaugh took over the program. He’s visited Ann Arbor multiple times since the spring, including one where his mother tagged along and, according to all reports, she loved it, especially the educational aspects.
That is why the latest rumors of Gary starting to really favor the SEC is a bit of a shocker. Not because Auburn (the new rumored favorite) and the rest of the conference isn’t top notch but with all of the reports of his mother wanting her son to receive a great education as well as a defense that fits his playing style. And Michigan checks off both of those boxes while also having his former high school head coach and good family friend, Chris Partridge, on staff.
But, let me play devil’s advocate for a second and say Gary commits to elsewhere. Who will Michigan turn to to fill that much needed defensive tackle spot in 2016?
Well, there looks to be one obvious candidate as well as a new name that every should keep a close eye on.
First, the obvious candidate, Trinity (TX) DT Chris Daniels.
Daniels is one of the top defensive tackles in the class and has plenty of ties to the state and program. He played his freshmen year in Muskegon, Michigan, grew up rooting for the Wolverines and has family in the area. He also just visited campus for the first time on August 10th and came away very impressed. However, it looks like it will be very tough to pull him out of Big 12 country even though that Midwest trip opened his eyes up ($), according to 247Sports’ Taylor Hamm.
As for the name to watch out for moving forward, that would be St. Paul’s (AL) DT Darius Whitfield.
Whitfield is a new name to the Michigan recruiting world but happens to be one of the top defensive tackles in the country and the staff is starting to take notice. Recruiting coordinator Matt Doherty recently followed him on Twitter which is normally a good sign that the staff is starting to evaluate him to possibly extend an offer, and it would be a good time to do so.
When I asked him about his interest in the Wolverines, he was quick to say, “I would love a offer from Michigan” and with him planning on committing on October 13th, the staff may need to make their move soon.
But would that offer just be another to add to his list, which includes top choices South Carolina, Miami and Missouri, or would it mean more?
“It would mean a lot because a team from out there actually taking a chance on me stands out”. So, if Michigan is looking to get into the race for Whitfield, this would be a perfect time.
While I still believe Gary ends up choosing Michigan whenever he does make his final decision, the staff has some very talented prospects and possibilities on the board whether they miss on the #1 overall player or not.