Though the dead period is still intact through the rest of July, college football recruiting was on display more than ever as the top players in the country made their way to Oregon for The Opening. And though Team Michigan aka Team #HyperCool was knocked out in the semi-finals of 7on7 play, they did go 3-0 against the OSU-heavy teams (2-0 vs LunarBeast, 1-0 vs AlphaPro) without their top ranked player Donovan Peoples-Jones, who was nursing a previous injury.
The 2017 Michigan commits and targets in attendance both had big performances and supplied plenty of news. But the biggest news of the weekend came from a 2016 signee…
Taking the Prep Route
After weeks of rumors, 2016 signee Camden (NJ) WR Brad Hawkins finally tweeted out his plans for the 2016 season:
I will be balling at Suffield Academy next year for a prep year 💯😎
— bhawk6 (@bradhawkins9) July 8, 2016
There have been plenty of nonsense out there about why Hawkins is going the prep school route, including shots taken at Brad by some real POS on Twitter. But, shocker, it wasn’t grades issues like some made it out to be. As Hawkins’ high school head coach, Dwayne Savage, told NJ.com’s Bill Evans that it was a previous transfer that held things up a little too long:
It’s nobody’s fault,” said Savage. “It just took longer than we thought, and he missed the deadline to enroll. So he would have had to pick another University or go to prep school.”
Savage also said that Hawkins is still committed to UM. For him to stay true to that commitment, he’ll have to re-sign with Michigan after his prep year is over. Not sure if that can be done this winter or it has to wait until next spring. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what exactly happens when he’s ready to sign with a program.
Isn’t (Hyper)Cooling on a 3rd WR
There hasn’t been a positional group on the 2017 board that has fluctuated more, in terms of spots available in UM’s class, than the wide receiver position. It was said to be one a couple months ago, then looked like two, got up to three or four even, and then looked to be two again as recent as two days ago. But, it looks like the fluidness of recruiting (possibly because of the Hawkins situation mentioned above) has shifted once again and three could be the magic number, as long as it’s the right three.
And all of them could have been on the same team at The Opening this past week.
Michigan has been in fantastic shape with Cass Tech (MI) WR Donovan Peoples-Jones for awhile and is now the outright favorite to land Clay-Chalkville (AL) WR Nico Collins. But it was their HyperCool teammate and fellow receiver who made the most headlines at The Opening, Iowa City West (IA) WR Oliver Martin.
Martin tested really well during the Ratings Championship and put on a show during the 7on7 tournament with Dylan McCaffrey at quarterback. He caught the eye of pretty much everyone in attendance and even some eyes across the country, including the Michigan coaching staff.
Remember when i said don’t be surprised if Michigan moved on 3-star Iowa WR Oliver Martin? Well U-M just offered him pic.twitter.com/Z7aXIwHjHc
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) July 11, 2016
Martin is a very intriguing prospect. Though he’s only a three star receiver (for now), he was one of the top players at The Opening thanks to his route precision and ability to get open. That performance should help him see a very nice rise in the rankings after the summer.
Check out some of his highlights:
— Tom Loy (@TomLoy247) July 9, 2016
— Keith Niebuhr (@Keith247Sports) July 10, 2016
He also got a video shoutout from a HyperCool teammate and possible future teammate:
— Drewski (@_DrewSingleton) July 10, 2016
As for Michigan’s chances, it’s still early and they’ll have ground to make up on expected favorites Michigan State and Iowa. But, if the staff wants him in this class, they should have as good of a chance as anyone thanks to his budding relationships with the Michigan commits and targets. Keep a close eye on Martin. With the offer in hand, it wouldn’t shock me in the least bit to see him visit for the BBQ next month.
Cooking for the Corners
The cornerback position is one that needs to be restocked more than most in 2017 thanks to the three top corners (Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling & Jeremy Clark) graduating and moving on. But, even with the big need, there hasn’t been a ton of talk about possibilities to join the class outside of current commit Cegep du Vieux (CN) CB Benjamin St-Juste and top target Detroit King (MI) CB Ambry Thomas. But it’s starting to pick up and the top two cornerbacks in the class are expected to visit Ann Arbor in the next month.
Calabasas (CA) CB Darnay Holmes
Holmes was a member of my June BGRC and, though it was a definite reach at the moment, I’m feeling a little better about it after the most recent news about his recruitment.
The five star corner spoke with Scout’s Greg Biggins about his recruitment and upcoming visits (yes, plural) to Ann Arbor ($), which was hijacked at the beginning by familiar faces Donovan Peoples-Jones and Ambry Thomas, one of whom asked “is he going blue?”:
MaizenBrew’s Evan Petzold was also able to confirm the plans to visit for the BBQ.
It’s no secret that things are starting to heat up more and more between Michigan and Holmes. If the staff is indeed able to get him on campus for both the BBQ and the official visit for the Colorado game on September 17th, they should become much more than just a top five team on his list. That’s especially the case if his longtime friend and likely host on both visits, David Long, is enjoying his experience in Ann Arbor.
As for the other top ranked corner that Michigan is starting to gain some steam with….
Trinity Christian Academy (FL) CB Shaun Wade
Wade is a name that Michigan is starting to gain more and more traction with as time goes on. However, there’s this one important thing: He’s been committed to Ohio State since January of 2015. But things clearly are starting to open up a bit.
Rumors started flying around out on there that Wade was planning on making a trip up north to visit Michigan for the BBQ on August 6th. I heard about those rumors but wanted to confirm them first before reporting them. Luckily, there’s a ton of UM recruiting reporters out there and they got to it first as the visit rumors were confirmed by multiple people, including The Wolverine’s Brandon Justice, who spoke with Wade about his potential visit and what the staff is trying to sell him on ($):
Michigan tells me they really need me as a player to replace some others. I am a big, long corner – something they don’t have,” he said. “I’ve mainly been talking to Coach Devin Bush and Jim Harbaugh. I really like their staff.”
Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz also heard from one of his sources about the potential Wade visit and the growing confidence within Schembechler Hall ($).
Like Lorenz mentioned, I still would be pretty shocked to see Wade in the Maize and Blue. Alabama looks to be the top candidate to flip him, if he leaves the OSU class, thanks to family ties to the Crimson Tide while Florida is another top option. But, this is recruiting and one visit can change everything, especially visiting for an event as big as the BBQ.
Riding the Roller Coaster
Each recruiting cycle is long and strenuous. It’s full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and flips and spins. It’s why, for the most part, it’s a full-on roller coaster. That’s especially the case for top programs, like Michigan, who recruit elite level prospects. And a couple of the players UM looked to be sailing smoothly with have are all of a sudden adding some drama to the ride.
For the majority of his recruitment so far, Paramus Catholic (NJ) LB Drew Singleton has looked like a safe bet to choose the Wolverines. His former head coach is the LB coach at UM, his former teammates and good friends are on the roster, and he’s visited campus more than just about every other out-of-state prospect.
Sounds like a done deal, right? Wrong. Take a lap.
Singleton did several interviews throughout the week at The Opening and didn’t show his hand to Michigan as much as most may have expected:
- He told 247Sports’ Ryan Bartow that Clemson has a “slight edge” at the moment ($).
- He told Scout’s Brian Dohn that the only official visit he has planned so far is to Alabama ($).
- He told Rivals’ Adam Friedman that he will visit several teams in July, not named Michigan ($).
So, that’s it. Bring out the tarp, cover the field. Turn the lights out, let’s get the bulldozers in here and turn this place into a parking lot.
Well, not exactly. In most of those interviews, when asked about Michigan, he raved about the Wolverines and his relationships within the program. TMI’s Sam Webb was also able to clear up one of the stories with Singleton about Clemson being his rumored leader now ($):
they’re one of my favorites.”
So, don’t worry just yet, Michigan fans. UM is still in great shape with Singleton and, if they are able to get him on campus for the BBQ, they should continue to build the lead I believe they have.
As for a fellow New Jerseyan who has long been a favorite to sign with Michigan, IMG Academy (FL) C Cesar Ruiz was a top performer at The Opening and was named to the Final 5 Offensive Lineman. He also made some headlines when he named a leader that wasn’t Michigan:
— Hank South (@HankSouth247) July 7, 2016
Ruiz told South that, though Michigan wasn’t going anywhere in his recruitment, Bama’s history of putting lineman in the league is a main reason he named them his leader ($). But could he just have been caught up in the moment and been misquoted?
Sam Webb was on the scene again to clear up the confusion. He spoke with Ruiz about the report and the nation’s top center cleared things up, saying that both Alabama and Michigan are at the top of his list ($).
Being the leader from start to finish for a top prospect is extremely difficult. And Michigan has been the favorite for Ruiz for over a year now. Hearing there’s a new team making a push is very common. But at the end of the day, I’m still expecting this one to end with his LOI heading to a fax machine in Ann Arbor, not Tuscaloosa.
Quick Hitters are Heading to the BBQ
- Though things looks to have cooled a bit between the two parties, 2017 Cheshire Academy (CT) WR Tarik Black tweeted out his plans to visit Michigan for the BBQ on August 6th.
- Michigan is looking to bring in a nice safety haul in 2017 and a name to watch closely is Grimsley (NC) S Brelin Faison-Walden. After having his previously planned visit to Ann Arbor in May cancelled by the coaching staff, who was out of town, BFW let me know that he will be making that visit up on the 6th for the BBQ. This is one to watch closely. If the staff pushes for him, they could become a much more realistic option when he makes his decision on August 16th.
- Another name not to forget on the recruiting board is 2017 Brighton (UT) ATH Sione Heimuli-Lund. That’s especially the case as he told TMI’s Brice Marich that he plans on visiting Ann Arbor for the BBQ as well.
Photo Credit: Erik C. Anderson/OregonLive