Oh wait, yes it is. It’s mostly about the nation’s #1 player. Why? Well, because after his official to Michigan this past weekend, it has never looked more likely that he ends up committing, signing and playing for the Wolverines.
Ann Arbor is Becoming “Coney” Island
To land an elite recruit, like Paramus Catholic (NJ) DT Rashan Gary, you not only have to showcase your football program, faculty, town, and academics but you have to do it with the player and parent(s) in mind. That is what would set the winning program apart and that is what, from all accounts, Michigan did.
Quick Side Note: Rashan’s mother, Jennifer Coney, is THE contact person in the #1 player in the nation’s recruitment and every recruiting analyst knows it. So, if you want news about him, you go through her. And that is exactly what most were able to do.
According to her two part interview with The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb, Coney reiterated the other reports that it was the people of Michigan that sold her on the University, not the football team. Though, one person from the football team may end up being a main reason why UM now looks to be the favorite:
Chris Partridge… with Rashan going to Paramus Catholic… he knows me and he knows me well,” Coney said. “He knows the things I want to hear.”
When Chris Partridge was hired as the Director of Player Personnel and Recruiting at Michigan, most believe the Wolverines would be the favorite. But it’s not that easy. He needed to prove himself to Gary and his mother, and he looked to do that with flying colors.
As for other things Coney told Webb that stood out about their trip were the wives of some of the Michigan football staff and University’s faculty, his host Tyrone Wheatly Jr, specific professors, the football programs academic support staff, as well as the restaurants in Ann Arbor ($).
Webb wasn’t the only analyst to speak with Coney, as I included Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz’s in the last Inside the Fish Bowl, Rivals’ Adam Friedman caught up with Rashan’s mother as well.
Friedman was able to relay his conversation over to The Wolverine’s Tim Sullivan and, like Webb and Lorenz, heard nothing but great things about the trip ($). That included the feeling that it not only “went well” for the football player, but it also went “even better” for his mother as she now is even more comfortable with UM’s academics ($).
As for Friedman’s feeling on where Gary ends up playing college ball:
At this point it looks like he is going to Michigan.”
So, that puts Rivals’ Adam Friedman on the board. The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb on the board. 247Sports’ CEO, Shannon Terry, and Director of Recruiting, Steve Wiltfong, on the board. For those of who you read this website on a normal basis know I’ve been on the board for awhile now.
Are there any others? Yup.
After collecting all of the information, Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz has now thrown his Crystal Ball prediction into the pot soon after MGoBlog’s Ace Anbender jumped in as well, and MaizenBrew’s Anthony Broome followed suit.
So, if you’re keeping score at home, just about every top national and Michigan recruiting analyst is fully on board the Gary to Michigan train. The only thing that looks like could stop it is if Rashan completely falls head over heels in love with one of his remaining official visits. And while I won’t go as far to say that’s unlikely, I will say every other team looks to have a steep uphill battle in front of them.
The Other Top Target
While Gary is clearly the #1 target on the defensive board (and likely the board overall), I’ve believe that IMG Academy (FL) TE Isaac Nauta is and has been the top offensive target on the board. He’s arguably the best offensive weapon and most college ready player in the class and would clearly fit Harbaugh’s offense better than anyone.
But will the Wolverines have a shot at landing him? I believe so and have since well before he decommitted from Florida State. And with his official visit to Michigan coming up in two weeks, the staff is starting to ramp up the pressure on him.
According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Jay Harbaugh and company are “making a push” for the top tight end in the country. But will it be enough? Georgia, where he’s from and his parents live, has been seen as the favorite since his decommitment though, according to Scout’s Chad Simmons, TCU looks to be the favorite now because of his uncle living near campus ($).
So, who really has the upper hand in his recruitment?
Lets break down what he’s reportedly said to want in his college choice:
- Wants to play around family
- Wants to be a vital piece to the offense
- Strong academics
- Fun campus life
While TCU and Georgia are the rumored favorites, with Ole Miss making a late charge, I can’t imagine Michigan not blowing him away during his visit on October 17th for the Michigan State battle thanks to the total package they can offer.
Lets see how Michigan stacks up with his rumored “wants” out of a school and program:
- Him and his family are from Grand Rapids, Michigan and plenty still live in the state.
- Michigan’s offense features the tight end more than any other in the nation so far in 2015 (8 targets per game; Georgia is around 4, according to Jay Harbaugh).
- Michigan has the top ranked academics out of his top schools.
- Playboy ranked Michigan one of the top 10 party schools in the country.
- Michigan was his first offer and he was the first ever high school freshmen to receive an offer from UM.
Though UM has all of that going for them, you’d think the Harbaugh’s should land their top offensive target. However, it just doesn’t work like that. Though he’s been close with Greg Mattison for awhile now, thanks to his uncle playing for him at Western Michigan, sometimes it comes down to the little things, like girls and/or weather (example: Chris Clark).
Oh yeah, for those of you who put a ton of stock into Twitter activity, his latest follow was Chris Patridge.
So, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens during his official visit. I believe Michigan is more than just a finalist and will roll out the red carpet in a similar fashion to what they did for Rashan Gary. If things go as well as they did for Gary, I think the Wolverines will be sitting pretty with Nauta.
- 2016 De La Salle (CA) TE Devin Asiasi is another top tight end target but his official to Ann Arbor is now “up in the air” ($). Though with his teammate and good friend 2016 DT Boss Tagaloa naming Michigan to his top five and expecting to take an official to Michigan, it looks likely Asiasi visits with him.
- 2016 DeMatha (MD) OG Terrance Davis is still favoring Michigan and Rivals’ Adam Friedman still believes he’d choose UM if NSD was today ($). But with the spots starting to fill up in the class, he may need to hurry up to guarantee himself a spot.
- I quickly caught up with 2017 IMG Academy (FL) OL Cesar Ruiz and he let me know that Michigan is still contacting him regularly.
- 2017 Paramus Catholic (NJ) DT Corey Bolds let me know last weekend that, though he was unable to join his teammates, Rashan Gary and Drew Singleton, on the BYU visit he let me know he’ll definitely set up a return visit after his season.
- 2017 St. Viator (IL) TE Cole Kmet was offered by Michigan this week but stuck to his game plan and committed to Notre Dame today. Though, I doubt the Wolverines staff gives up on him that quickly.