Going Back to Cali: Michigan Looks for a BIG 2016 Haul from California

For those of you who do not like or follow rap music, yes, that title was a rap reference. Notorious B.I.G. to be exact. But unlike Biggie Smalls, some of Michigan’s top remaining targets on the 2016 football recruiting board actually call the Golden State home.

Back when Jim Harbaugh took over the Michigan program, most, including myself, believed he would heavily target the state he resided in for the past decade and change. However, after missing out on a couple top targets to the Pac 12 powers, it looked like the staff shifted their focus to the eastern time zone. And though they have done a fantastic job of picking up and becoming the favorites for several of their top targets over here, they always kept their eye on west coast.

While Michigan, New Jersey and Florida continue to look like their most fertile recruiting areas for the staff, California may soon be added to that list.

This weekend, the staff will be officially hosting three of the top 16 recruits in California (according to 247Sports’ state rankings):

  • #10 CB David Long (Los Angeles, CA/Loyola)
    • While Long is already committed to Stanford, his recruitment looks to be far from over. Harbaugh and his staff made him a #1 priority when they started evaluating the 2016 class and continue to see him in that light. With questions surrounding his admittance into Stanford and the UM defense playing lights out, this visit couldn’t have come at a better time.
  • #14 WR Dylan Crawford (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Santa Margarita Catholic)
    • Crawford is a name most Michigan recruiting fans know well. He visited last summer with teammate KJ Costello and both walked away absolutely loving the trip. While Costello ended up committing to Stanford, Crawford remained high on the Wolverines. Now, with his former (rumored) favorite, USC, in shambles and a high need for some electric/speedy playmakers at the wide receiver position at Michigan, like Long, this visit couldn’t have come at a better time. If things go really well, I wouldn’t be shocked to see UM land his commitment.
  • #16 DB Lamar Jackson (Elk Grove, CA/Franklin)
    • Jackson, unlike Long and Crawford, was a name that has continued to fly under the radar. Though he’s one of the best athletes in the country, he was seen as a long shot that was destined for USC. Well, that program is a mess right now and Jackson has continued to tell me how high he is on Michigan. Though it’s unknown if he’s an automatic take (I couldn’t imagine why not), I believe this official to Ann Arbor could vault the Wolverines into the lead position for him.

Along with the three official visitors this weekend, the coaching staff has already hosted one of the top outside linebackers in the state and country earlier in the season. They are also expected to receive official visits from four more of the top 13 players in the state. All of whom are “wait and see” recruits:

  • #2 OLB Mique Juarez (Torrance, CA/North)
    • The now former USC commit recently opened up his recruitment in the aftermath of the Steve Sarkisian firing. Though he’s a big time long shot, according to 247Sports’ Ryan Bartow, he was planning on officially visiting Michigan. We’ll see if he follows through with those plans.
  • #3 OLB Caleb Kelly (Freno, CA/Clovis West)
    • Kelly was one of Jim Harbaugh’s first official visitors at Michigan as he was in town in mid-September for the UNLV game. Though most thought having him in for his first OV was a bad sign, from all reports, his trip went off extremely well. It went so well that when he spoke with Scout’s Brandon Huffman about his Oregon official last week, he couldn’t help but to compare it to his trip to Ann Arbor ($).
    • It’s looked like a Michigan-Oklahoma battle for quite some time here and with the Wolverines pitching their NFL coaching staff and their 2015 on-field performance so far, they could be making up a lot of ground on OU, who most still believe are the favorites. The biggest question for him is, will there be room for him since he’s expected to make his decision on NSD? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.
  • #8 ATH Jack Jones (Long Beach, CA/Long Beach Poly)
    • Jones is one of the most versatile athletes in the country and could become a game changer at multiple positions in college quickly (he may need to bulk up a bit). Luckily for Michigan, the Harbaugh factor has him very interested in the Wolverines. He’s continued to let it be known that UM is a place he needs to visit and is very interested in. Like everyone else on this list, the Trojans issues are a big help here. While I still believe he ends up playing in the Pac 12 for USC or UCLA, if he does indeed take an OV to Ann Arbor, they could become a real player in his decision.
  • #9 TE Devin Asiasi (Concord, CA/De La Salle)
    • The top tight end in the state, Asiasi is a perfect fit for the Michigan offense. However, though the staff looked to be in good shape with him after offering early on, the distance may end up being more of a factor than originally thought. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, he and teammate Boss Tagaloa are expected to take an OV to Michigan this fall ($). Even if they end up making the trip, it looks like a pipe dream for UM to land him.
  • #13 DT Boss Tagaloa (Concord, CA/De La Salle)
    • Tagaloa recently named Michigan to his top five and is expected to make an official visit to Michigan this fall. However, like his teammate above, unless the staff absolutely blows them away on their trip, the chances of the De La Salle duo ending up in the Maize and Blue look slim, at best.

Will Michigan add any more California commits to the class along side QB/ATH Victor Viramontes? It’s in no way a guarantee but their chances continue to rise with each official visit.

Though they have a fantastic shot at Crawford, good shots at Long, Kelly and Jackson, and a punchers chance at Jones, just getting the word out to the future top targets and coaches about what’s being built in Michigan is a win for the program.

WARNING: SUPER CHEESY OUTRO AHEAD

That is why the Michigan coaching staff is going, going, back to back, to Cali, Cali……

Photo Credit: Sean Curtis/YouTube