Inside the Fish Bowl Returns from the Holiday Break

Back from Michigan for the holidays, plenty is going on now that I’m back in Atlanta including the air conditioning (I mean, really?! It’s almost January). Speaking of January, Michigan’s first bowl appearance under Jim Harbaugh and the high school All-American games take place over the next two weekends which means there should be a lot of news coming out soon, including all of this:

UA All-American Game Primer

Every year Michigan has several top targets and commits in the Under Armour All-American game but seem to miss out on any of the players that will announce during the game. Well, it’s very likely that will change this year as the staff’s top offensive tackle on the board, North Mesquite (TX) OT Jean Delance, will be announcing his decision during the game.

I added Delance to my December BGRC after his official visit and now Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz is officially on board with that move as well as he’s put his Crystal Ball for Delance in for Michigan after speaking to a source close to his recruitment ($).

As for a top target they’ll likely miss on is DeMatha (MD) OG Terrance Davis as the staff has looked for awhile to be slowing down their pursuit as Delance became more of a legit option and spots became scarce. While Florida was seen as UM’s biggest competitor earlier on, he now looks likely to choose his home state Terps.

Delance and Davis are the top Michigan targets expected to announce though there are several other top targets and commits that will be playing on ESPN on Saturday, including Alief Elsik (TX) LB Dontavious Jackson who had a lot of good things to say about Michigan and Jim Harbaugh’s love of the Longhorn State in a recent interview and even said he’d be taking an unofficial to Ann Arbor:

At this point I still think Jackson ends up at Florida State or Texas but Michigan looks to have a real shot at landing him. It may come down to how that unofficial goes (if he indeed makes it) and how Don Brown does when he hits the recruiting trail after the dead period so, because of that, I won’t say this one is over just yet.

How about the #1 player in the country? Paramus Catholic (NJ) DL Rashan Gary had a dominant first day on the practice field and shared how close he is with Michigan commit RB Kareem Walker, which has to have UM fans feeling even better about their chances:

Though Gary has said multiple times that he does not have a leader, all signs continue to point to Michigan for the #1 player in the country when he announces his decision on National Signing Day.

Tough Decisions Ahead

When Michigan landed the commitment of Independence (TN) WR Nate Johnson, their 3rd wide receiver commit of the class, the receiver position became a position to watch closest as NSD nears.

There are between 4-9 spots available in the class, depending on decommitments and grayshirts, and several top targets on the board at multiple positions. That includes three receivers that have Michigan as their leader/tied atop their leader board:

  • WR Dylan Crawford
    • Crawford looks to be the staff’s #1 option at the position and the most likely to end up in the class at this point, especially with Oregon said to be filled up at WR with the addition of Eddie McDoom. If he indeed makes his announcement at the Army All-American game, I fully expect it to be to Michigan.
  • WR Donald Stewart 
    • Stewart is a forgotten target for most but is a name to watch very closely. Michigan has been in great shape with him for awhile now and it may all come to fruition during his official visit to Ann Arbor in mid-January. If room is available and he’s a take, it’s very possible that he makes his decision during/soon after that trip.
  • WR Keyshawn “Pie” Young
    • Young was expected to commit on December 19th but held off and is now expected to make his decision on NSD and it’s still expected to be to Michigan but there’s one big question: will that spot be available? At this point, it’s tough to see it remaining open.

The staff will have to make some very tough decisions in January. If Crawford commits, will they take another receiver? If so, will they take Stewart over Young? Does Pie Young’s ability to play both corner and receiver give him the upper hand? If they go the two-way player route, do they hold on to that spot for an elite target like ATH Jordan Fuller?

Stay tuned. Things will get very, very interesting over the next couple weeks.

Feeling More and More Confident About…

My December 2016 BGRC, especially several of the top targets on the staff’s board including:

  • WR Dylan Crawford
    • See above.
  • OT Jean Delance
    • See above but higher up.
  • DT Rashan Gary
    • See above between Delance and Crawford.
  • CB Lavert Hill
  • CB David Long
    • While the Washington recruiting analysts believe Michigan might as well give up on recruiting Long because this thing will be over when he officially visits UW after the dead period. Well, lets just say I’ll wait to see that one to believe it. We here at MGoFish have been getting a lot of positive signs for Long to UM recently and when you add in his recent Twitter activity along with what 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong has been hearing, I’d say UM has a slight lead at the moment. That January 15th visit could sway things towards the Huskies but at this point I’m sticking with Michigan.
  • LB Jonathan Jones
    • Jones is said to be a toss up between Michigan and Notre Dame but I’m sticking with UM. Not only does he have a better chance to play early in A2 but add in, according to The Wolverine’s Tim Sullivan, him making a trip to Michigan’s bowl practice a couple days ago and I like where the Wolverines stand going into the final month of the cycle.

Photo Credit: Saed Hindash | NJ Advance Media