Inside the Fish Bowl is Setting Up Shop on the East Coast

While the Michigan football program had a decent weekend at the NFL Draft, plenty of the staff’s top 2017 and 2018 recruiting targets on the east coast put their talents on display at the Rivals and The Opening camps in New Jersey. That included several players who look to be favoring the Wolverines, including one who just may choose UM this week.

Commitment (Finally) Coming?

Michigan fans have been waiting for a commitment for awhile now, especially after The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown was hearing some buzz about a recruit, not named Ben Mason, expected to pull the trigger. Well, that has yet to happen as, whataya know, a high school recruit didn’t stick to a given timeline.

Recruits change their mind consistently. Whether it’s decision timelines or their chosen program, people that are shocked by this still blows my mind.


As I say that, Newtown (CT) LB/FB Ben Mason announced on Friday that he will be making his announcement on Tuesday and most believe analysts believe it’ll be to Michigan.

I left Mason out of my latest BGRC after it looked like he may choose Wisconsin thanks to their recruitment of him as a pure linebacker and UM targeting him as a fullback but now, he seems to be targeted by the Michigan staff as an athlete that can play either position. And that looks to be a pretty good idea as he was named the linebacker MVP at The Opening regional camp on Sunday:

Hopefully his camp performance helps temper some reactions from a (likely) commitment on Tuesday but, what am I thinking?, if Michigan takes another FB/LB, people will lose their minds.

If he does indeed pledge to UM, just know that he is a great fit for the program and what Harbaugh wants out of his players. On and off the field smarts, tough and versatile.

Ratings Equals Invites

Speaking of players who showed out at The Opening regional camp, two of Michigan’s less known 2017 commitments joined another little known commit as top SPARQ rating scorers in the entire class.

RB AJ Dillon

Dillon was named the Ratings champ at the camp, which gives Michigan their 2nd ratings camp champion to go along with their other running back commit, O’Maury Samuels, who still holds the top SPARQ score in the entire country. Dillon’s score has him at #8 in the country.

That score also earned Dillon an invite to The Opening: 

CB Benjamin St-Juste

St-Juste was the first commitment in the 2017 class for Michigan as he dropped right after landing his offer from the staff during their 2015 summer camp. And it looks like the staff may have found themselves a gem.

If he continues to put up numbers like this and have a good season on the field this fall, I don’t think anyone will doubt his inclusion in this class. Though the second part is still a question mark at this point.

More Garden State Campers

Michigan’s connections and prioritization of New Jersey meant that this past weekend’s camps were going to be ones to watch. And they didn’t disappoint as several 2017 and 2018 targets performed well and had good things to say about the Wolverines:

OT Isaiah Wilson

Wilson spent his weekend participating at both camps though he was much better at the Rivals camp than The Opening camp. However, from all accounts, he’s the real deal. Though raw and in need of more elite level coaching, the natural abilities are there and Michigan looks to be in great shape still.

According to 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong, this is a Michigan/Alabama battle ($). Wilson also caught up with Rivals’ Mike Farrell to talk about his recruitment and his locked in plans to officially visit Ann Arbor and Tuscaloosa:

S Markquese Bell

Bell is a player that I left off my last BGRC as Rutgers is a very real option to keep the two-way talent in the Garden State. But Michigan won’t go down without a fight.

A couple weeks ago, Rutgers was said to have the edge. However, like with all recruitments, things change quickly. According to 247Sports’ Ryan Bartow, Bell told him that Michigan now has the edge in his recruitment ($).

On top of that, according to Rivals’ Adam Friedman, Bell is planning on taking an official visit to Michigan ($). The UM staff will be able to make a strong move for him during his trip back to campus as he’s planning on making a decision after he takes his OVs.

If Michigan continues to push for Bell throughout the cycle, especially during the fall when Michigan and Rutgers should have very different seasons, I really like UM’s chances.

WR Tarik Black

As for a name that I did add to my BGRC, Tarik Black is a name to keep an eye on throughout the cycle. He’s been a fan of Michigan for quite awhile and the Wolverines have been near the top of his list since they offered last May.

Black spoke with Mike Farrell about his recruitment, including his top two teams, UCLA and Michigan ($):

OG/DT Joshua Fedd-Jackson

Fedd-Jackson is one of the top jumbo athletes in the class and, though he’s not a name that hasn’t received a lot of publicity from UM recruiting analysts, he’s a name to watch. Michigan’s early offer has definitely helped them out in his recruitment as he told 247Sports’ Ryan Bartow that UM and North Carolina are tied atop his list ($).

This will be an interesting recruitment to watch as he looks like he could be a great fit at either guard or defensive tackle, two spots that are up in the air at this point. Though UNC looks to be in good shape at the moment.

DE Luiji Vilain

Vilain has been listed on my last two BGRC’s but it looks like Michigan has plenty of ground to make up if they’re going to make me look smart.

The Canadian transplant told Ryan Bartow that he’s planning on making a decision in June out of five schools not named Michigan ($). However, Vilain told Mike Farrell that Michigan is among his top five and he’s looking to visit Ann Arbor ($).

So, which is it? Does Michigan have ground to make up? Are they in his top contenders before he makes his decision? With how high he’s been on the Wolverines throughout his recruitment, a summer visit to Ann Arbor looks like it could really change things for him, whether he’s committed elsewhere or not.

DT Corey Bolds

The next big defensive lineman out of Paramus Catholic has been a very familiar name on the Michigan recruiting front. He’s visited Ann Arbor plenty of times and with his ties to the roster and staff, UM has been a favorite for awhile now.

Bolds visited yet again for the spring game but, according to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, he has some “hurdles” to clear before he could end up at UM ($). Even with that being the case, Michigan is still in a big time battle here as, like it was with Rashan Gary and is with Drew Singleton, Clemson is a very legit threat.

This recruitment could come down to those “hurdles” as well as how each staff from Michigan and Clemson push for his pledge and signature.

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