Inside the Fish Bowl is Putting Out the Lawn Chairs

While the summer takes a minute to get started here in Michigan, the recruiting momentum for the Wolverines has the team in shape for a huge recruiting visit this weekend.

The 2020 class started off a little slow but has started to catch fire a bit. In the month of May alone, Michigan landed commitments from 3 four-star recruits in OL Zak Zinter, LB Nikhai Hill-Green, and (potential future five-star) DE Braiden McGregor, and a three-star addition in TE Matthew Hibner.

And that doesn’t even count the commitment from five-star 2021 QB JJ McCarthy, which could end up being a pillar addition to the staff’s recruiting efforts over the next three classes.

Just a couple of the notable names that McCarthy has already been recruiting for Michigan are elite 2020 WR AJ Henning, 2020 CB Henry Gray 2021 C Ryan Linthicum, 2021 OT David Davidkov, and 2021 WR Latrell Neville.

As for the 2020 class, the staff looks to be on the verge of a summer landslide of commitments with some of the top names on the board looking to make decisions before their senior seasons. And a whole bunch of them have visited or are expected to be on campus this month.

Though the 4th of July isn’t for a couple of weeks, I’ll have the lawn chairs out on the yard as fireworks look pretty likely to happen between now and then.

Eyes on the Skies

Michigan is sitting pretty with a handful of the staff’s top targets, most of which will or have visited Ann Arbor this month. And the hype for the weekend has already begun.

Last year, Michigan added eight commitments to the 2019 class following the staff’s mega recruiting weekend visit around the exact same day as this year. That included pledges from:

  • June 22nd, 2018
    • VLB Joey Velazquez
  • June 24th, 2018
    • TE Erick All
    • RB Zach Charbonnet
    • DT Mazi Smith
  • June 25th, 2018
    • CB DJ Turner
    • WR George Johnson
    • DE David Ojabo
    • S Quinten Johnson

The staff collected some of the main pillars of the 2019 class over a weekend. This year’s mega recruiting weekend looks ready to do the same for the 2020 class.

Check out some of the notable 2020 recruiting visitors expected on campus this weekend, including several names to watch closely:

ATH Eamonn Dennis (Worchester, MA/St. John’s)

One of the main names to watch this weekend. Dennis has received an avalanche of Crystal Ball predictions over the last couple of weeks. If you’ve watched his tape, he’s pretty much Mike Sainristil 2.0 in almost every way. He’s a lightning fast, versatile, offensive weapon out of Massachusetts that can be used in the slot or out of the backfield. So it’s easy to see why Michigan likes him and he likes Michigan.

Dennis told 247Sports’ Brian Dohn that Michigan was his leader ($) at the beginning of the month and will visit next weekend. No one should be surprised if he makes a decision during or soon after the trip.

RB Blake Corum (Laurel, MD/St. Frances Academy)

Corum has looked like a “when not if” target for Michigan for awhile now. He’s held off on making a commitment though all signs have pointed towards the Wolverines before his three teammates (Osman Savage, Micah Mazzccua, and Nikhai Hill-Green) committed to the program.

Michigan, USC, LSU and Kentucky made up his original top four but that looks to have changed. Like several names on this list, Ohio State may now be the main competition standing in the way of the Wolverines.

The Buckeyes had their chance on his official visit this past weekend, which looked to go really well. But with his official to Ann Arbor coming the following weekend, I still like the Wolverines here. It’s far from a lock but I’m not ready to bet against his well-built relationship with the Michigan staff, his fit into Gattis’ high tempo offense, and him having three teammates already in the class.

WR AJ Henning (Frankfort, IL/Lincoln-Way East)

The top name on the “want” list for both the fan base and Josh Gattis, Henning makes his way back to Ann Arbor since his trip with good friend and now Michigan commit 2021 QB JJ McCarthy. The same trip that McCarthy committed to the staff. Following that trip, Michigan looked to have the upperhand in the recruitment but following his official to Georgia at the end of May and his return trip to Crystal Ball favorite, Notre Dame, that Wolverines’ lead looked to have slipped.

However, following official visits to places like Notre Dame (the original favorite) and Georgia (one of the hottest teams on the recruiting trail and have you been to Athens?), the post-visit hype is always gonna be there.

Henning announced his intentions to make a commitment prior to his senior season so Michigan getting the final official visit here is pretty big. Expect the staff to have the red carpet treatment on deck for the offensive dynamo. Could he commit during the trip? According to another weekend visitor, 2020 WR Brendan Rice, it may have already happened (via The Wolverine’s Chris Balas ($).

WR Brenden Rice (Chandler, AZ/Hamilton)

Speaking of Rice and Balas, The Wolverine’s headman caught up with the son of the NFL’s greatest wide receiver, Jerry Rice. The four-star target is feeling the Wolverines and, according to 2020 commitment QB JD Johnson, the Wolverines are feeling Rice as well ($):

“If I were to release a top three right now, Michigan would definitely be in there for sure,” he revealed. “[While rating my interest level in them on a scale of 1-10], I am at a 10.”

Per Chris Balas/TheWolverine

Add in Rice also telling Balas that if he gets that feeling while at a school, a commitment will follow.

Rice is a more big bodied receiver than a lot of the other names on the board. As a west coast target, Michigan is the only non-Pac 12 team that looks to be in the conversation. Oregon and UCLA look to be the biggest competition here. But if this visit goes as well as expected, I won’t be surprised to see him part of this class sooner rather than later.

TE Theo Johnson (Windsor, Ontario/Holy Names)

The top Canadian prospect in the class and, in my opinion, the best tight end prospect in the 2020 class makes his way back to Ann Arbor for the big weekend, according to TMI’s Steve Lorenz ($). This trip is coming after just being on campus for camp earlier this month, where he worked directly with the Michigan coaches, per The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown ($).

This is another recruitment that I see Michigan winning out in the end. But it’s far from a slam dunk. Penn State is the Crystal Ball favorite, Iowa has the most recent official visit plus a great tight end history, and Georgia made a big impression on him during his official visit to Athens (remember, it’s hard not to like it there).

If you’re not familiar with Canadian geography, Windsor, Ontario isn’t very far from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Actually just 52 minutes on Google Maps from his high school to the Big House. That close proximity is a nice feather in Michigan’s cap and one that could be a big factor in his eventual decision.

S Jordan Morant (Oradell, NJ/Bergen Catholic)

One of the headliners for the June 21st monster visit, Morant is the nation’s top ranked safety (per 247Sports). Yup, Michigan could very well land the top-ranked* safeties in back-to-back classes. But it’s not a guarantee.

Though Michigan holds the heavy Crystal Ball lead over Penn State. The Nittany Lions have remained main competition for the New Jersey star, as well as Urban Meyer’s former team (Ohio State) and his future team (USC).

Morant visited Ann Arbor back in April, which was when things really turned in Michigan’s favor. He was on my first 2020 recruiting class prediction and I expect him to be on the rest of them from here on out.

VLB William Mohan (Queens, NY/Erasmus Hall)

According to Rivals’ Adam Friedman, Mohan will make his second trip to Michigan for an official this weekend ($). The four-star is the top Viper target on the board and another Michigan-Ohio State battle that the Wolverines look to have the upper hand in heading into this visit.

The Buckeyes have had a pipeline into Erasmus Hall but thanks to a visit at start of April, Michigan became the favorite. He quickly received a Crystal Ball prediction to the maize and blue from 247Sports’ Brian Dohn ($). That was followed up by a CB from TMI’s Steve Lorenz ($).  He now holds six predictions to Michigan and is another top target to pay attention to this weekend.

WR/TE Maliq Carr (Oak Park, MI/Oak Park)

The in-state jumbo receiver mentioned to TMI’s Sam Webb about the probability of him visiting Ann Arbor for the big weekend visit ($). And it could be a big moment in his recruitment.

Michigan had been the heavy favorite here for months. But the momentum has changed drastically in favor of Purdue as he looks to be one of Jeff Brohm’s top overall targets for the 2020 class. So much so that after his last visit to West Lafayette so well that the Boilermakers now control the Crystal Ball lead.

Is he still a top target for Josh Gattis and Michigan? Does the appeal to play football and basketball mean that much? Will he grow into a tight end? Will Batman save Robin? All that and more on next week’s episode of Inside the Fish Bowl. But in all honesty, this is a recruitment to pay attention to following this trip.

LB Mitchell Melton (Olney, MD/Good Counsel)

Melton is one of the biggest Michigan-Ohio State battles in this year’s class. The large linebacker out of Blake Countess’ old high school is a wanted man by the northern blue bloods as he’s a guy who can be used in multiple spots on defense.

According to Bucknuts247’s Bill Kurelic, Ohio State looks to have an edge at the moment following his official visit to Columbus this past weekend ($). With Michigan already being a favorite in this race prior to ever visiting campus, the staff has a nice opportunity to make a move this weekend. And it comes at the perfect time.

Melton spoke with The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown about his upcoming trip and mentioned his plans to make a commitment on July 3rd, giving Michigan the final chance to impress him prior to the announcement ($).

RB DJ Jones (Fayetteville, NC/Pine Forest)

According to TMI’s Brice Marich, Jones will be making his second visit to Michigan this weekend for an official visit ($). This is a return trip for Jones who made the trip up from Fayetteville, North Carolina to see Ann Arbor in April. A trip that went well enough for him to give the Wolverines an edge in his recruitment ($).

Though Jones may not be the most well-known name on the invite list, he’s a name to watch during this trip. If he’s a take for the staff and he gets that special feeling, look out.

DE Kris Jenkins (Olney, MD/Good Counsel)

One of the latest additions to the list, Jenkins is reportedly expected to make his official visit to town this weekend as well, per 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong ($), and is a name that’s been climbing up the Michigan board.

The three-star defensive lineman is a teammate of LB Mitchell Melton and holds offers from several Big Ten programs including Michigan State, Penn State, Maryland, and Northwestern, but the Michigan offer is his biggest on paper.

Finishing the Offensive Line

With Micah Mazzccua and Zak Zinter already on the board, Ed Warriner has himself two versatile linemen that can play multiple spots on the line. It looks like there are 2-3 more spots left for the line and the staff will be hosting three targets this month, two of which are some well-known Andrews.

Four-star OG Andrew Raym and four-star OT Andrew Gentry are well-known names on the Michigan recruiting front at this point. Arguably the two top offensive line targets on the board. Though Raym may be in a much better position for Michigan as he makes his way back to Ann Arbor just two weeks after his first visit to campus earlier this month.

Gentry also recently visited Ann Arbor but is a little different story. Michigan has had him at the top of their board from day one and he’s reciprocated the love. But the biggest recruiting hurdle for the Wolverines looks to be BYU as Gentry will take his two-year Mormon mission trip (most likely) after his high school career is over. He spoke with MaizenBrew’s Von Lozon about just that, his visit to Ann Arbor and his plans to make a commitment at the end of this month.

Michigan will have another chance to pitch both Andrews on joining the class this weekend while getting their first on-campus look at OT Jeff Persi as he makes his way across the country from California. UCLA looks to be the favorite here even without any Crystal Ball predictions but it’s not uncommon for Jim Harbaugh to win over the Cali recruits on their visits to Michigan.

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Photo Credit: Paul Sherman/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw