In the past, the majority of the BBQ at the Big House visitor lists are full of recruits who have been on campus before. The event has been used as a great way to bring back local recruits and wanted out-of-staters who have visited beforehand so the staff can remind them how big of a target they are to the them.
These return trips also gives the staff a chance to sway back momentum that may have started to go in another direction. And the 2016 visitors list has plenty of returning visitors, including the top player in Michigan and a couple prospects who the staff has some work to do with.
For part two of my ITFB 2016 BBQ at the Big House preview, I’m breaking down the players that are making return trips to Michigan that the staff is either looking to increase their lead for or sway momentum back towards the Maize and Blue.
Returners to Remember
There are a couple big timers that will be making their return trips to Ann Arbor for the BBQ which should Michigan make a nice move with each of them. That includes the top in-state player, two top offensive lineman targets and another top name out of New Jersey.
2017 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Detroit (MI)
The #1 player in the state and receiver in the class. He also is expected to make his 3rd BBQ visit to Michigan as a recruit and, for the first time, definitely seen as a Michigan lean. That’s thanks to his family connections to the University, his fit in the offense, his plans to major in the medical field and his double digit visits to campus. All of that as well as his internship at the UM hospital is why I put in my Crystal Ball for DPJ to Michigan in mid-May.
As a top 10 recruit overall in the class, it’s very unlikely he makes a decision prior to taking his official visits this fall. But, with him making his decision prior to January so he can enroll early at his chosen program, this BBQ visit should be another notch on Michigan’s belt in their pursuit of the elite receiver.
2017 OL Henry Bainivalu, Seattle (WA)
I’ve been one of the only people consistently talking about Bainivalu and Michigan over the last couple months. He’s been a part of my BGRC since May thanks to how interested the staff is in him as a prospect, him making an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor earlier in the spring on his own dime and the way he’s talked about the Wolverines ever since.
According to The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown, Bainivalu was expected to be at the BBQ but there were questions whether or not that was true after Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz heard that was no longer the case ($). Welp, Lorenz has now confirmed he will indeed be in attendance ($).
Getting a player from Seattle to make a 2nd unofficial visit in 6 months says a TON about where Michigan sits on his list. I fully believe UM is at/near the top of his list and the staff can solidify their place among the top contenders for his services.
Nothing concrete and all speculation/tea leaf reading but with the offensive line class filling up quickly, I wouldn’t completely rule out a decision from Bainivalu if he gets the green light and that commitment itch.
2017 WR Tarik Black, Cheshire (CT)
While Peoples-Jones and Bainivalu have been on my BGRC the last couple months, Black is a player that went from a normal addition to not being included since April. Though he’s been just off the list thanks to him continuing to show love to Michigan, especially at the satellite camp at Cheshire Academy where he and his parents showed up donning all UM gear.
Will be at the Michigan BBQ in August 〽️ #GoBlue
— Tarik Black (@LetmeRockk_) July 10, 2016
Making his way to the BBQ for his 2nd unofficial to Michigan (visited back in November), he’s clearly still very interested in the Wolverines. However, the staff has plenty of ground to make up here. Notre Dame and Stanford are said to be the favorites here with the Fighting Irish being the most likely landing spot. It’s not impossible to make up the ground on ND but with Collins and DPJ looking good to end up at Michigan, I’m not very optimistic here.
At one point or another, Michigan was favored for all of these prospects. Though they aren’t the clear cut favorites anymore, they look to be at least running 2nd for all of three of these guys. And this visit could sway things back towards UM quickly.
2017 DE James Hudson, Toledo (OH)
Hudson was one of the safest bets to end up in this class back in June but things have changed. According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, the staff slow played him at their camp in mid-June ($). Then TMI’s Sam Webb reported that he’s definitely a take for UM ($). Both stories could be true but, either way, he definitely looks to be a take now as multiple reports have come out of the staff pushing for him once again.
My Crystal Ball was on Michigan State but it’s not concrete. Though I believe MSU is the leader going into the visit, he seemed to love Michigan and the chance to play alongside Rashan Gary when the staff pushed for him. Though a visit to East Lansing is planned prior to the BBQ, and that could extend MSU’s lead even more, making it to Ann Arbor once again and getting love from the staff could sway things back towards the Wolverines.
2017 ATH Markquese Bell, Bridgeton (NJ)
Bell is one of the most versatile prospects in the 2017 class. He has the chance to play wide receiver, outside linebacker or (where I believe he ends up in college) at safety. And he looks to be a top target for the Michigan staff.
He visited Ann Arbor for the Spring Game and it quickly pushed Michigan to the top of his list, with some rumors out there of him possibly committing. However, he made it clear that wasn’t happening and, though the UM staff has continued to push for him, both Clemson and Rutgers have made a big run at him.
Rutgers looked like the expected landing spot when distance was said to be a factor. But that’s no longer the case, per 247Sports Ryan Bartow. Clemson is pushing and may have the momentum right now though I believe this trip back to Ann Arbor could sway things back towards the Wolverines heading into official visits, which he’ll see Michigan twice (@ UM vs PSU, @OSU vs UM).
A big BBQ visit could definitely be followed by a Crystal Ball to Michigan from myself.
UPDATE: According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Bell isn’t expected to make it to Ann Arbor this weekend ($).
2017 OT Isaiah Wilson, Brooklyn (NY)
Outside of Peoples-Jones, there may not be a player that Michigan fans want to see end up in this class more than Wilson. He’s a highly ranked offensive tackle that has named UM his leader in the past and continues to be a priority recruit for the staff. However, for the first time since last August, I didn’t include him in my BGRC thanks to the momentum swaying towards Alabama.
Could Michigan turn the tide with this visit? I believe so. Not only will it be his first trip to Ann Arbor since February but with the spots starting to tighten up in this class, especially at offensive line, the staff will roll out the red carpet and put on the full court press. Showing Wilson everything they have to offer and letting him know that he remains a priority should help sway things back to UM. And when you add in Alabama already having 4 offensive lineman committed (the total number they were expected to sign) and having a stacked depth chart, Harbaugh and staff will likely use that for their advantage when pitching the big Brooklyn tackle.
If the returns from his visit are as positive as expected, a Crystal Ball prediction could follow.
Out of the names listed above, I believe Bainivalu is a player to watch because of the circumstances but I’m not guaranteeing anything. It’s a huge recruiting event and anything can happen if anyone catches the commitment bug. Either way, I do believe they will become the out right favorites for a couple of them going into their senior seasons.
Make sure to stay tuned by checking in on MGoFish all week for the multiple BBQ previews. Follow us on Twitter @MGoFish to make sure you don’t miss a single update.
Photo Credit: YouTube/ScienceGeek
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