Though spring practices are upon us, the news coming out of Ann Arbor isn’t covering the team just yet. Thanks to new coaching hires and recruiting offers galore, there’s plenty to cover. So, grab your bathing suit and dive on in!
More Staff Additions
On top of tweeter beefing with, what seems like, the entire SEC, Jim Harbaugh has been busy on the coaching search trail.
First reported by The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb, former Gilman (MD) high school head coach Biff Poggi has joined the UM staff as an “assistant head coach in charge of special projects” ($). His exact duties are not yet known but he may need to have the program’s Director of Internal Communications Zach Eisendrath help him with his tweets moving forward:
ball team is headed south- doing work.#GoBlue. No crying.there is no crying in ball!!!unique opp to build team- wish every kid had this opp
— Biff poggi (@BiffPoggi) February 25, 2016
Another coaching addition that has yet to officially be announced was first hinted at by Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz and (basically) confirmed by 2017 OG Phillip Paea‘s visit pictures, Michigan looks to have hired former Cleveland Browns defensive quality coach Tony Tuioti.
As for a position that has not been filled just yet is the defensive backs position that was left by Greg Jackson when he took a job with the Dallas Cowboys. But luckily, it looks like it won’t be much longer until a hiring is made.
Though, according to multiple reports, both Washington Redskins quality control assistant and former Michigan grad assistant Aubrey Pleasant and University of Oklahoma’s defensive grad assistant Chip Viney looked like real options after their interviews, TMI’s Sam Webb is hearing Philadelphia Eagles assistant linebackers coach Brian Smith is the new favorite ($):
Chip Viney & Aubrey Pleasant interviewed for U-M’s vacant DB post, but hot name I’m hearing is former Philadelphia Eagles asst Brian Smith
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) February 25, 2016
If that’s the hire, it’s another great move for Michigan. Adding another former NFL coach that happens to have ties to defensive coordinator Don Brown should impact the on the field product as well as recruiting.
Ann Arbor: Recruiting Visitor Paradise
Moving on to recruiting news. Though Michigan has yet to host a “Junior Day” event in 2016 for the 2017 class (that’s always fun), the staff is either planning something really big this spring or is just bringing in caravans full of recruits from now until National Signing Day.
Here are just some of the expected visitors in the near-to-distant future, not including the group at the basketball game on Wednesday night:
- According to 247Sports’ Alex Gleitman, 2017 RB AJ Dillon will visit on March 22nd. I believe this is a recruitment to watch very closely. I’ve actually already added him to my latest BGRC.
- Per Scout’s Corey Bender, 2017 OC Cesar Ruiz will “probably” visit Michigan during his spring break. He also talked about how familiar and comfortable he is with UM in the video interview. I believe UM is and has been the favorite for quite some time here.
- Per Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, 2017 OT Tyler Beach will visit March 11th and 12th. This will be an interesting recruitment as Michigan pulled the top player and offensive lineman out of Wisconsin in 2016 (Ben Bredeson) and looks to have a real shot to do so again in 2017.
- Per Wolverine247, 2017 ATH Markquese Bell will visit this spring. Keep an eye on Bell. He’s from New Jersey and was pumped to land his offer from Michigan. If the staff pushes for him, I believe he’s a very realistic option to sign with UM.
- Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz was on the scene again to find out 2017 OLB Leonard Warner is expected to visit Michigan this summer.
- Per Bleacher Reports’ Sanjay Kirpalani, elite 2018 CB Christian Tutt is planning on visiting Michigan in the coming months. The staff will get a first hand look at Tutt this weekend in Florida as he’s one of the top sophomores at IMG Academy.
- Look out for newly offered 2017 OG Kevin Jarvis to visit this spring as well. I caught up with him for a bit but didn’t get half the response that 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong received ($). This is a player I believe Michigan could quickly become the favorite for after a visit to campus and a meet and greet with the staff.
Still Sitting Pretty for DPJ
Out of the entire 2017 recruiting class, there isn’t a bigger and more important target for Michigan than WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. The Cass Tech star is a top 10 player in the nation, the top player in the state, from a pipeline program in their own backyard and happens to have several family ties to the University.
Though this will be a very long and grueling recruitment, Michigan has some early positive signs. For one, he named UM to his top 10 list he gave to Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt. He also made a mid-week visit to Ann Arbor for the Michigan-Northwestern basketball game with a nice group of in-state recruits and friends. On top of that, Wolverine247’s Steve Wiltfong believes, in terms of a betting line, UM should be the favorites here ($).
Expect DPJ to take his time and visits, enjoy the process and have some fun. But at the same time, expect the Michigan staff is continue letting him know that he’s their priority for the class.
Taking on the Trojans
Pulling players out of California was a lost art for Michigan football during the dark period (2007-2014). However, like normal, in comes Jim Harbaugh to save the day. UM signed three of the top players out of the Golden State in the 2016 class (David Long, Dylan Crawford and Devin Asiasi) and has his eyes on a lot more in 2017. And one of the main targets is taking a liking to what Jimbo’s selling.
Now, Johnson along with his Hawkins high teammates have long been expected to end up playing for the Trojans but this is interesting. Michigan has been in on the trio (WR Joseph Lewis and 2018 WR Jalen Hall) for awhile now with both juniors showing UM love in the past.
It’s still pretty early but if the staff can get the trio to the expected Cali satellite camp, get them on campus this summer and/or get the juniors to Ann Arbor for an official visit this fall, they may be able to pull at least one of them away from the west coast.
Poking the Bear, Again
Jim Harbaugh has clearly pissed off the entire SEC with his satellite camps and spring break trips. Now, he’s attempting to poke the bear even more with his latest offers to top targets in Mississippi, Alabama and, of course, Florida:
- UM recently offered 2017 Starkville (MS) OLB Willie Gay who told Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, “I love everything about Michigan” ($). Landing players out of Mississippi is difficult for anyone not named Ole Miss and Mississippi State, though Gay is saying all the right things early on. I’d still be beyond surprised if he ended up at Michigan.
- Another linebacker to recently receive an offer from UM was 2017 Oxford (AL) ILB KJ Britt. And after one look at his highlight tape, quickly became one of my “fan favorite” recruits in the class. He caught up with The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown after landing his offer and told him though he’s high on Auburn, he’s familiar with Michigan’s newly found love for his home state ($). It’d be an amazing get for UM but, like Gay, I’ll put this at a low possibility.
- Michigan signed Columbus (FL) high school’s top defensive end in 2016 in Josh Uche and is now going after their top 2017 DE Guy Thomas. He caught up with The Wolverine’s Tim Sullivan about his interest in UM and though he’s not very familiar with the program, he’s looking to learn more ($). Louisville looks to be the early favorite here which means UM should have a very good shot at Thomas as long as they make him a priority and Uche can help sell him on the Wolverines.
Michigan may not end up with the three names listed above but Harbaugh and the Wolverines will land their fair share of SEC country recruits. That will happen. And it should only make the future camps and trips talk even more entertaining during the offseason.
Photo Credit: David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire