When a program hosts a big recruiting only event like the BBQ at the Big House, the staff issues invitations to their biggest and best targets on their board. That includes elite level, out of state prospects that normally wouldn’t be able to make it to campus for just a random weekend in the spring or summer. But there aren’t many recruiting events that can rival Michigan’s out of state visitors this Saturday.
Michigan will host multiple four and five star recruits out of the west coast, including the #1 overall player in the class and the #1 cornerback in the nation, both whom are coming to town from California. There are also two other expected first time visitors that I’ve included in my July BGRC.
For part three of my ITFB 2016 BBQ at the Big House preview, I’m breaking down the top 2017 recruits that will be making their first visits to Michigan on Saturday and where things stand with them and the Wolverines prior to the trip.
From California to Alabama, Utah to Iowa, the Wolverines coaching staff will host one hell of an out-of-state visitors list. With these prospects paying their own way to travel across the country, it shows how interested they truly are in Michigan. That includes the #1 overall player in the class….
2017 RB Najee Harris, Antoich (CA)
Harris is the top ranked player in 2017 and best running back prospect that I have seen since Leonard Fournette and one of the best I’ve seen in the last 10 years. Hands down. He’s that good. I’d compare his immediate impact on a program to what Rashan Gary is expecting to do this year in Ann Arbor. Come in and not only compete for a starting spot, but be a favorite to win it.
Could the two elite prospects end up being teammates? Prior to this week, I would have put Michigan’s chances at landing Harris at 0.5%. But now that he’s a confirmed visitor for the BBQ (first reported by The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown and Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz), odds of him flipping from Alabama to Michigan have increased significantly.
According to Lorenz’s sources, the four teams with the best chance to flip Harris are Michigan, Oregon, Cal and UCLA (no USC, which is who I believed was the top candidate) though Alabama feels better about their chances to keep him ($). On top of that, Lorenz is hearing that Michigan is “all in” on Harris ($).
Though I believe Harris sticks with Alabama, the fact that he’s paying his way to visit Michigan unofficially a month before he could have taken an official to campus says a lot. He’s clearly interested in UM and several reports have mentioned how interested he is in playing for Jim Harbaugh. Expect Jim and the staff to roll out the red carpet unlike ever before this weekend.
If this trip goes as well as expected, it should firmly put Michigan in the “top candidate to flip him” position.
2017 CB Darnay Holmes, Calabasas (CA)
While Harris is the top player in the class, Holmes is the #1 corner in the class and also happens making his first trip across the country from California to Michigan. Also, unlike Harris, I believe Michigan has a much better chance at Holmes at this point in time.
He’s been a member of my BGRC a couple different times thanks to the staff’s increased pursuit, the immediate playing time available and the fact that he’s lifelong friends with freshmen CB David Long. But this visit says even more about his interest.
According to a trusted source, Holmes would have already committed to Stanford if he were able to enroll early in Palo Alto. That says a lot. One, he’s clearly only looking at programs that he can enroll at in January and two, education is a big factor. Both UCLA and Michigan check off those boxes.
At this point, UCLA looks to be the favorite. But with this BBQ visit on the docket, I firmly believe Michigan will make a big time move for Holmes. And this won’t be the last time the staff will have their chance to impress him in person. He’s also expected to official visit next month for the Colorado game on September 17th.
2017 TE Josh Falo, Sacramento (CA)
Michigan is looking to take one more tight end in the 2017 class and all of their attention looks to be on one person: Josh Falo. The pass catching tight end out of Sacramento teamed up with the other top Michigan targets and commits on Team HyperCool at The Opening and seemed to build a bond with Dylan McCaffrey early on. Thanks to that event and the staff’s pursuit, Falo is paying his own way to visit Ann Arbor for the first time.
Falo was a player I included in my July BGRC because of the staff’s need for another tight end and his fit in the Michigan offense. And when you add in Alabama (one of the top contenders for Falo) adding TE Kedrick James this past weekend and, according to both TMI’s Josh Henschke and Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, look to be focusing on TE Major Tennison over Falo for their final tight end spot, I like Michigan’s chances even more.
While I don’t believe he would make a snap decision on his visit, I do believe Michigan could be the favorites by the time he leaves Ann Arbor, barring any craziness during the trip.
UPDATE: According to multiple reports, Falo was unable to make it to Ann Arbor.
2017 WR Oliver Martin, Iowa City (IA)
Martin is a player that has gained more steam on the recruiting trail in the last month than, arguably, any other recruit. That was 100% because of his performance at The Opening and what he did teamed up with the other top Michigan targets and commitments. And those UM recruits made him feel very comfortable.
From his connection with Dylan McCaffrey on and off the field to Drew Singleton putting up a video of himself pleading coaches to offer Martin to the reports that Michigan’s commits were telling the UM coaches to offer him, he’s clearly a wanted recruit. That was confirmed by the staff when they offered him before he even left Oregon.
With an offer in hand and both the coaching staff and recruits coming after him, I did some digging on Martin and found out that he’s not only a P5 football recruit but he’s also an All-American swimmer and D1 baseball prospect. Those reasons mixed with his connections at The Opening led me to put in my Crystal Ball for Martin to Michigan.
That CB prediction came prior to him locking in his BBQ visit. With him now expected at the event, I believe Michigan should make a big move on him this weekend. Doubtful a quick decision would be made but he’ll be a main target for the UM recruits and coaches throughout his first trip to Ann Arbor which means anything could happen.
2017 OL Aaron Banks, El Cerrito (CA)
Banks is a player that may be one to remember moving forward. Not only is he one of the top offensive lineman in the class, he also let me know that Michigan has a cheerleader in their corner in the form of his uncle, who is a “huge” Michigan fan. That has helped UM a lot here.
According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Michigan is “somewhere in the top three”, possibly “near the very top” for Banks prior to the visit ($). That’s obviously big news as it’s no secret that UM is looking to bring in a big, elite offensive line haul.
With four lineman already committed, visiting Ann Arbor this weekend alongside his mom and brother could be coming at the perfect time for both UM and Banks. Keep an eye on him moving forward. If the staff gets a good feel on him, he could vault to the top of their board.
2017 ATH Sione Lund, Salt Lake City (UT)
Lund is another recruit to watch during his first trip to Ann Arbor. Even though he’s been committed to Stanford since last November, Michigan is taking a hard run at him. Tim Drevno and Tyrone Wheatley have been in constant contact with him and were key components in getting him to make this unofficial visit.
As a player that could play running back, fullback and/or linebacker at the collegiate level, he’s a guy that looks to be higher on the board than some realize. Adding a versatile player like this to the 2017 class is something Harbaugh always seems to want to do.
If the staff puts on a show this weekend and pushes for him (I believe Tony Tuioti could be a big part of this), they could make a big move for Lund. Getting him back on campus for an official visit this fall could give UM an even better shot at flipping him from the Cardinal.
UPDATE: According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Lund is no longer expected to make it.
2017 Will Ignont, New Market (AL)
Ignont is a name that hasn’t received a ton of love from the Michigan recruiting world but may be a name to remember moving forward. He’s one of the highest ranked linebackers in the class and is good friends with UM’s other top Alabama targets, including commit J’Marick Woods. Those connections to the other in-state targets has clearly helped UM receive this visit as well.
Ignont told The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich that he thinks the trip to Ann Arbor for the BBQ will be his “best trip so far from what (he’s) heard” ($). Going into a trip with a positive attitude like that is always helpful. But it will be the recruits who help UM’s chances the most. Mainly Woods who told MGoFish that Ignont is one of his main targets to recruit during the event and believes UM has a shot there.
Auburn looks to be the favorite right now but Michigan is the dark horse in his recruitment. I’d still put money on him ending up in the SEC but a big visit and the addition of his three fellow Alabama targets that will be in attendance could sway momentum a bit.
2017 DE Deron Irving-Bey, Flint (MI)
Irving-Bey has been a prospect that hasn’t received a ton of publicity from the Michigan side of things as of late. The in-state product fits the role as a strong side defensive end that the staff is looking to add to this class but all of the momentum is with Michigan State. It doesn’t help that this is his first visit to Michigan.
My Crystal Ball is with the Spartans and I don’t believe I’ll need to move it even after this trip. However, I do believe the staff could make up some ground with a successful visit and letting him know they want him to be a part of this class. We’ll see if they can move the needle.
First time visits can go several ways. Most of the time, players just enjoy their time and go home without making any snap decisions. However, with a recruiting event as big as the BBQ and the likelihood of commitments taking place, there’s a chance one of these first timers sees everything they need to see. For recent history, just look at what happened with Aubrey Solomon on his first visit in June.
With so many big names expected on campus this weekend, make sure to stay tuned by checking in on MGoFish all week for the five part BBQ preview. Follow us on Twitter @MGoFish to make sure you don’t miss a single update.
Photo Credit: HeartOfAnnArbor.com
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