Inside the Fish Bowl is Batman

The Michigan football and recruiting staff has a very nice group of 2017 and 2018 recruits coming to town this weekend, including two 2017 defensive ends who could all very well end up as Wolverines when everything is said and done. On top of that, the staff is also making their rounds around the country and pushing for some new names on the board.

Check out the latest news and rumors on Michigan recruiting by taking a dip Inside the Fish Bowl:

Visiting Ends 

Starting with the anti-hero of the group, 2017 Episcopal (VA) DE Luiji Vilain made his move to the United States from Ontario (that’s Canada for you non-geographers) prior to his junior year of high school looking to help improve his football talents and offer list.

Well, mission accomplished.

Vilain is now a top 100 prospect on every recruiting site besides Scout (#203 overall) and holds offers from college football’s blue bloods, including Alabama, USC, Ohio State. While those teams all looked like good bets to land the talented pass rusher, the blue blood that’s standing out the most happens to be the Maize and Blue.

Thanks to multiple trips to Ann Arbor after camp trips to the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Detroit (see, Paul Finebaum, satellite camps are important) and an offer extended at the beginning of March, Michigan is in great shape. But that may be a bit of an understatement.

If you weren’t on the internet today, you may have missed myself and several other college football analysts put their Crystal Ball predictions in for Vilain to Michigan. This was a long time coming from myself as I first put Vilain in my first ever 2017 Best Guess Recruiting Class in March of 2015 and I’ve been hearing from multiple people that the offer from Michigan pushed the Wolverine back to the top of his list. But I wanted to wait to some more concrete evidence came out before submitting my Ball.

That evidence came on Thursday as The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown reported that Vilain was expected to visit campus this upcoming weekend. That’s always a good sign for a top target that’s making their decision in less than a month. Add in Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz and Steve Wiltfong receiving good enough news to put their Crystal Ball predictions and I was set.

According to Wiltfong, Vilain isn’t expected to make his decision until June 8th ($). But will he wait that long? Could fireworks go off this weekend? According to Brown, it’s not out of the question ($).

Whether Michigan receives a commitment from Mario’s evil brother this weekend or in early June, things are looking very, very good for the Wolverines here as they look to bring another All-First Namer into the fold.

To go along with Vilain, Michigan will also host newly uncommitted 2017 Central Catholic (OH) DE James Hudson this weekend.

Hudson spoke with The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich about his upcoming visit to Ann Arbor, what he’s looking to see and what an offer would mean to his recruitment ($):

It would be huge,” Hudson said. “That offer would be huge. I mean I’m only 45 minutes away from Ann Arbor, if that. I grew up watching Michigan a lot. Just to have an opportunity to play in the biggest stadium in college football is a blessing. No (I didn’t grow up a Michigan fan), but my uncle loves Michigan though. He would love it (if Michigan offered me).”

Though Hudson doesn’t hold an offer just yet, I’d be surprised if he left campus without one from the staff. He’s a big, physical lineman that has the frame to play all over the line with some more weight. And with the defensive end board being pretty wide open at this point, a great visit and offer could launch the Wolverines up his list.

If you thought that was it for the visiting defensive ends, Michigan will also host 2018 St. Joseph Regional (NJ) DE Dorian Hardy this weekend. On top of that, according to Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt, 2017 Southwestern Commencement Academy (MI) DE Deron Irving-Bey will visit Ann Arbor next week with his mother ($).

Searching for SAMs 

One position that the coaching staff is searching the continent for is the SAM linebacker. Right now, Jabrill Peppers is manning that position and it’s not only because he’s the best option but there’s also not that many options on the roster at the moment. And for a position so important for a blitz heavy defense like Don Brown’s, it’s a priority.

That is why it has been a priority on the recruiting trail and the staff has two more names on the linebacker board that look to be rising up the rankings by the day.

First mentioned by Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, a name to watch closely is 2017 Elkins (TX) LB Kenneth Murray. I was able to catch up with Murray to talk about his recruitment and interest with Michigan.

While he’s now at 14 offers overall (8 in the last 2 weeks), he let me know that all of the teams are equal at this point. But Michigan is definitely pushing hard and things are going well.

“(Things are going) Good, Coach Partridge flew down today just to see me and I talk to Coach Harbaugh on a weekly basis.” he said. “It’s a great program. I really like what they have to offer”.

As for what catches his eye about Michigan, he said education, scheme fit, the coaching staff and program history all definitely standout.

While he has yet to schedule his summer visits just yet, he did mention that he’s looking to make his decision before the start of his season. And with him telling me distance is “not a factor at all” and the coaching staff pushing hard for him, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him either visit Ann Arbor or meet with the staff at a satellite camp this June.

If the staff keeps pushing for Murray, they should at the very least be a finalist when he makes his final decision.

Another 2017 SAM target that looks to be very high on the staff’s wish list is Dunbar (FL) LB Shanon Reid. Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz was on this one as well, as Reid let him know that Michigan’s Don Brown and Chris Partridge are among the teams recruiting him the hardest ($).

At this point, these may be two of the names at the top of the SAM board along with Kenndale (TX) LB Baron Browning, Brookwood (GA) LB Leonard Warner and Southridge (FL) LB Brandon James. As for the other linebackers high on the board, things are still looking very good for Paramus Catholic (NJ) LB Drew Singleton and are improving with IMG Academy (FL) LB Jordan Anthony and Starkville (MS) LB Willie Gay.

Fighting Injustice One Podcast at a Time

If you missed it, on Wednesday, I tweeted about how I hope Michigan pulls out of the Baylor satellite camp on June 12th after another report came out about the football program’s covering up sexual assault cases involving their football players. I also ranted a bit about it alongside David Arnold on The MGoFish Show on Thursday.

Is it possible someone inside the program actually listened to me? Highly doubtful but since I didn’t see many other Michigan people talking about it, I’m taking a little bit of credit as, according to TMI’s Sam Webb, “Michigan’s participation is no longer certain” for the Baylor satellite camp ($).

This would be a big statement and move by Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan football program. There’s too much smoke coming out of Waco for there not to be flames soon enough. Working with them at this point is no-win situation with more trouble likely coming there way. So, here’s to hoping they go from un-certain to no thank you.

Quick Hitters

  • 2017 Starkville (MS) LB Willie Gay released his top 5 schools and, look at that, Michigan is included. The staff looks to have him high up on their list though it looks likely he stays in SEC country.
  • 2017 Roseville (CA) TE Jimmy Jaggers spoke with TMI’s Brice Marich about his recruitment and Michigan, which he mentioned that he’s looking to make a decision this summer and, from his comments, UM looks to be right in the thick of things ($). At this point, I’m leaning towards UCLA for Jaggers.
  • 2017 Glynn Academy (GA) ATH DeeJay Dallas released his top 5 on Thursday, which included Michigan. He also caught up with Scout’s Brandon Huffman and mentioned how he’s ready to visit Ann Arbor at the end of June ($). Though Miami (FL) looks like the favorites at the moment, Michigan is in this race much more than people realize. A great visit up north could be a game changer for Dallas.
  • 2018 Parkway North (MO) DT Michael Thompson recently received his offer from UM and told Scout’s Josh Newkirk that, thanks to that early offer, “Michigan is probably on top right now,” ($). It’s very early for Thompson and plenty of offers are likely to keep coming his way but it’s always nice to have an early lead.

Photo Credit: 247sports.com