Inside the Fish Bowl is Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Though Michigan’s 2020 football season has gone off the rails a bit, it’s somehow worked out in its favor on the recruiting trail. The 2021 class is nearly wrapped up as the staff looks to add at least one more dynamic commit to the class while the 2022 class is setting up for something really special.

Michigan’s 2021 commitments and their parents set up the biggest recruiting visit weekend of the pandemic ridden year. Though the coaching staff couldn’t be involved and the visitors couldn’t attend the game, they did their own thing which included getting together to watch that ugly game.

Check out a full list of the visitors, which included a large portion of the 2021 class that’ll be signing soon:

Bad Play Leads to Good Recruiting

First thought when having a bad season, fire the coach. Second thought, this is going to kill recruiting. Right? Not always. Especially not in a year like the ridiculous one we’re living in right now.

While fans look at a bad season as a reason to blow things up, recruits look at it as an immediate opportunity to make an impact.

One player that can definitely get that chance starting next season if he decides to become a Wolverine is 2021 Loyola (CA) CB Ceyair Wright, who made the trip from Los Angeles on his own dime to check out Ann Arbor for the first time.

And he clearly has plans to see it again in the near future:

Wright is the 75th ranked player in the entire country and at arguably the biggest position of need on the roster (outside of defensive tackle). And he sees that in Michigan’s early-season performance:

“I definitely think it’s an opportunity,” he explained. “I mean, everybody has rough starts. So, coming in as a DB, that just makes it seem like everybody is going to get an equal shot once you get there.”

Ceyair Wright, per TMI’s Sam Webb ($)

The opportunity to play immediately mixed with the on the field and off the field possibilities the University of Michigan offers has the Wolverines sitting in a good spot as Wright’s January decision date approaches. Good enough that, as mentioned above with his tweet, Wright already has another trip to the midwest in mind this December, per The Wolverine’s EJ Holland ($).

Notre Dame and USC look to be the biggest threats here while Stanford has hung around. Michigan offers a little bit of everything Wright has mentioned he wants out of a school.

Though the Wolverines may be neck and neck with the other blue bloods for the four-star, I’m not sure anyone will be able to pull him off the west coast. This will take a hell of a recruiting effort from the Michigan staff to pull off the win for the Space Jam 2 star.

Another first-time visitor that walked away very impressed with what Michigan has to offer despite the COVID season struggles was four-star 2022 S Isaac Thompson.

Thompson is the son of former Michigan State defensive back, Hickey Thompson who played for the Spartans in the mid-90’s. But this visit to the state was to only visit Ann Arbor. And Michigan looks to be the future landing spot for the four-star as his decision is coming soon:

It’s normally a good sign when a recruit announces a commitment date immediately following a visit to a top team on his list, not to mention a run of Crystal Ball and FutureCast predictions in from some of the top analysts around this recruitment.

If/when he joins Michigan’s 2022 class, he may not be the only defensive back in there for too long.

Dynamic Duo

This was a stacked recruiting visit but the two names everyone had their eyes on were the two five-star 2022 defensive backs, #3 overall Mater Dei (CA) CB Domani Jackson and #8 overall player Gross Pointe South (MI) CB Will Johnson.

Now, heading into this visit, a lot of people thought that Ohio State was in front for both Jackson and Johnson following some social media fun from the teenagers a couple of weeks ago. While OSU is clearly a top team for both, it was more talk than anything. And that showed during their visit to Ann Arbor even with the team’s poor performance.

“It’s all the same,” he said. “It was always my dream school. I would love to play there. It will never change. I’ll always feel the same… And I can go in there and start almost right away.”

Domani Jackson on Michigan’s struggles, per TMI’s Sam Webb ($)

Arguably the #1 player in the 2022 class, Jackson grew up a huge fan of the Wolverines while living in Ohio, referring to it as his “dream school”. That’s normally just recruit speak but this one is legit, as he’s been raving about his visit and what Michigan offers.

It was such a successful visit that he even came close to a commitment, per his interview with 247Sports’ Greg Biggins:

“I thought about it for sure, I loved it there,” Jackson said. “From the moment I got there, I fell in love with the place and got that special feeling people talk about. Michigan was my childhood dream school, everyone knows that, so to actually walk around the campus and be around some of the other recruits, it had me thinking.”

Domani Jackson on a possible commitment to Michigan, per 247Sports Greg Biggins ($)

Now, that doesn’t sound like normal recruit speak. Though neither Crystal Ball or FutureCast predictions haven’t come in yet for Jackson to Michigan, nearly every analyst looks to be leaning that way including 247Sports Steve Wiltfong and Greg Biggins, TMI’s Sam Webb, and The Wolverine’s EJ Holland.

Landing an uber elite recruit like Domani Jackson is going to be difficult but Michigan is in great shape even with a bad season going on. There’s a ways to go but there is one thing that could really help, and that’s the other half of the dynamic duo, who is trending heavy to the maize and blue.

The five-star in-stater, Will Johnson, is the son of former Michigan defensive back, Deon Johnson, who played for the Wolverines in the early-90’s. But the 2022 prospect has always kept his mind open to all schools. That doesn’t mean he still can’t fall for Michigan too, and that’s exactly what looks to have happened:

“It was a great weekend for me,” Johnson said. “I got to see a lot and connect with the commits and get a feel for all the guys. It was good for me and Domani to connect up there and get a feel for Michigan together for sure…I’m just gonna they could have something really special their soon.”

Will Johnson on his Michigan visit, per 247Sports Steve Wiltfong ($)

Something special, eh? That something special looks to be a potential package deal between the two five-star top10 cornerbacks. And, like the “dream school” talk, the package deal stuff is just talk 99% of the time between recruits. But this may be different as the two are clearly hitting it off:

“Yeah, we will be a package deal 100%. I will say 1000% about that. I honestly met him about a month ago and he’s a great player. He’s a ballhawk and I love how he plays. We would dominate on two different sides of the field.”

Domani Jackson on a possible package deal with Will Johnson, per TMI’s Brice Marich ($)

So, if that’s true, let’s play the hypothetical game. What if Will Johnson commits to Michigan? Will Jackson just jump on board right then and there? That’s what a package duo would do, right? Commit together?

That’s where the holes get poked in the whole package deal thing. However, it’s not for sure that the answers to those questions would be “no”. Will Johnson has had five Crystal Ball predictions come in from heavy hitters close to this recruitment including Wiltfong and Webb as well as 247Sports midwest analyst Allen Trieu and TMI’s Steve Lorenz.

The Dynamic Duo has over a year to make their final decision but don’t be surprised to see one come for them well before that. This situation will obviously be the most-watched piece of the 2022 recruiting class.

Where’s the Bad News?

Can the same positive news be said for top100 2021 RB Donovan Edwards? The West Bloomfield star made his way to Ann Arbor to meet up with the commitments and other recruiting targets to watch the game. Though that probably wasn’t the best part of that night.

The Michigan running game has been far from successful this year and the staff has gone with a full stable of options instead of workhorses. Question is, will that scare off a player of Edwards’ talent? While I don’t believe he’s the type of player that would be scared of that, this is definitely one to watch.

There are multiple reports out there of Notre Dame gaining some steam here including from 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong ($). That would be a horrible loss if Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish were able to steal another in-state from the Wolverines.

But there’s still time to see how that’ll go. Edwards is expected to wait until at least December to announce a decision. Notre Dame is a threat as is Oklahoma, Alabama and Georgia but he still clearly has an affinity for Michigan and the commits feel good about their chances, including JJ McCarthy.

This will be a nail biter until the ink is dry but I’m still sticking with the Wolverines…for now.

As for some real (potential) bad news, there’s one 2021 commitment to keep an eye on in terms as a potential flip. And that is American Heritage (FL) LB Jaydon Hood, according to The Wolverine’s EJ Holland ($). Miami and Minnesota are two teams Michigan has to watch out for there.

Quick Hitters

  • Prized 2021 commit WR Xavier Worthy didn’t make it to his 2nd Michigan visit for the Wisconsin game but is reportedly visiting Alabama for the Iron Bowl this weekend. Something to keep an eye on though I don’t blame any recruits for taking visits when possible this year.
  • Michigan clearly needs cornerback help in the 2021 class and there are two new names and a familiar one to keep an eye on, Howard commit and Sandalwood (FL) CB Jadon Canady and Duke commit and Westover (GA) CB Cameron Bergeron, as well as Penn State commit and Cass Tech (MI) CB Kalen King, per TMI’s Steve Lorenz ($).
  • Defensive tackle help is necessary too. So, Michigan looks to be going after a school that has already flipped one of its commitments in current Boston College commit and Washington (PA) DT Andre Porter, per TMI’s Brice Marich ($).
  • Also watch out for the staff to make another push for former top target and current Nebraska commit 2021 Lewis Central (IA) TE Thomas Fidone, according to TMI’s Steve Lorenz ($).

Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw