Inside the Fish Bowl is Looking for Love

It’s now just the matter of days before the start of the season and, though the recruiting cycle has slowed down a lot with the start of camp, there’s still plenty of developments on Michigan’s front. That includes another top 2018 commitment possibly wavering, the staff’s chances at adding more Jersey flavor to the roster, and updates on some of the top in-state 2019 recruits that haven’t been getting much love thus far.

Fighting for Reese

While Michigan is looking good to add a big time prospect to the roster, in Delance, the coaching staff looks to be in a big fight for one of it’s top 2018 commitments, Lee County (GA) LB Otis Reese.

Since committing to Michigan all the way back in June of 2016, SEC powers have continued to heavily recruit the versatile linebacker. That’s been especially true for the in-state Bulldogs, who are looking to make up for the big miss on Aubrey Solomon in the 2017 class. And that heavy pursuit has started to really pay off this summer.

Though Reese has yet to say a single word to anyone about his recruitment in months, he’s reportedly made multiple visits to Athens this summer. But that’s not what has Dawgs247’s Rusty Mansell keeping a close eye on Reese, it’s his slience ($).

Mansell’s not the only reporter that’s been hearing about Georgia’s momentum in this race. As Rivals Chad Simmons, The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown, and Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz are all hearing similar things about this one being far from over.

At this point, this looks like it could go either way. His proximity to the UGA campus is a big help for the Dawgs but Michigan still has the long time connections in the coaching staff, especially Chris Partridge and Don Brown, as well as his close relationships with his former teammate, Michigan DT Aubrey Solomon, and his brother, Central Michigan DB Da’Quan Jamison. Not to mention his fit at Viper in the Wolverines defense.

This will indeed be a recruitment to watch closely, especially with official visits coming up. A return trip to Ann Arbor and a big year from his good friend in the Maize and Blue could do wonders for the staff’s chances to keep Reese in the fold. Either way, stay tuned on this one.

Back to the Jersey Shore 

There have been a couple states that have become favorites for Harbaugh and his Michigan recruiting staff over the last four classes. But there isn’t a state that UM planted its flag in deeper than New Jersey as the staff has signed seven recruits (six of whom were 4+ stars) from the state, including the best player to ever come out of the state and the first and only unanimous #1 overall player, DL Rashan Gary.

But what’s been going on in 2018?

Michigan has yet to land a commitment from a New Jersey recruit in this class, already missing on one of its top overall targets, S Shayne Simon, to Notre Dame. The staff also looks to have some ground to make up on its top NJ target, Don Bosco (NJ) DT Tyler Friday, who is another quiet prospect in terms of media coverage. And then there’s Nazareth (NJ) WR Jahan Dotson, who recently transferred back to his original high school, Nazareth, for his senior year, and has gone from a normal member of my BGRC to hardly even mentioned over the last couple of months. Could he be back in play again?

According to Scout’s Brian Dohn, if interested, Michigan could end up winning out for Dotson thanks, in part, to the lack of space in other classes ($).

Dotson is a player I’ve had in previous BGRCs and a player that I think would be a nice fit in the 2018 class. The staff doesn’t exactly need a receiver in this class thanks to its success in the last two classes but a speedy, shifty, slot/return man like receiver would work, and that’s exactly what Dotson happens to be.

Keep an eye on Dotson. If he officially visits Michigan this fall, like expected, and the staff is set on taking a receiver in the class, things could get interesting.

As for Friday, he’s a guy I’ve continued to feel pretty good about, even through all of the noise for both Penn State, Ohio State, and Rutgers (yes, for real). I’ve kept him in my class predictions and have kept my Crystal Ball prediction on Michigan. And I still don’t plan on changing that as there not only is plenty of time before Signing Day but once real football starts to get played, a lot of recruiting momentum fizzles for programs.

According to Dohn, Rutgers is a legit option in this race thanks to proximity to home but Michigan remains a big factor in his recruitment ($).

Dohn also spoke with Don Bosco Prep head coach, Mike Teel, about his recruitment, who mentioned Friday’s need to see the product on the field before making his decision ($):

(Friday) wants to see some results and change on the field,” Teel said. “For Tyler, he wants to see if progress has been made. It’s not about wins and losses, but you can watch a game and see how hard they compete and the talent level.”

With the likelihood of another poor season for Rutgers and the high possibility of Ohio State pulling back on its pressure because of the lack of space, I still like Michigan to win out in the end here. Those New Jersey connections and the chance to play alongside the likes of Gary, Solomon, Vilain and the rest of the talented defensive line talent could be too good to pass up.

Where’s the Love? 

Michigan’s start to the 2019 recruiting class has been stellar, to say the least. The staff has already received verbal commitments from two five star defensive lineman, one high four star offensive lineman, and a four star linebacker. And that doesn’t even include the highly rated targets the staff is sitting in fantastic position with early on.

But it’s not all flowers and sunshine in this class early on. There have been more than enough Michigan fans asking about some of the top in-state talent and why the Wolverines coaching staff has yet to fully engage.

The main name that is mentioned is five star Bellville (MI) OT Devontae Dobbs, for obvious ranking reasons.

My Crystal Ball is on Michigan for Dobbs and he was a member of my first 2019 recruiting class prediction. However, there’s a bit of wavering going on in those predictions as he’s let it be known on several occasions that his contact with the UM staff isn’t what he expected, on top of showing a lot of love to Ohio State.

Dobbs told Scout’s Josh Newkirk that he’s just looking for a little love from the staff and an invite to campus ($):

If they show interest then I’ll show interest back,” Dobbs said. “I’ll still consider them, but right now at the moment there is no communication between us.”

The “no communication” thing has been a familiar note in most of the Dobbs-Michigan reports. But what’s the real story behind it? This is something that could become one of the more interesting things to watch in the 2019 class. I’ll let Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz talk about it during his segment with 1050 WTKA Inside the Huddle’s Michael Spath (starts around the 6 minute mark):

Is there some collusion going on or is it just a simple miscommunication? Either way, it won’t matter on September 1st. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the staff throw the kitchen sink at Dobbs once midnight hits to make sure the five star lineman knows exactly how the coaching staff feels about him as a prospect.

One way to improve its standing with Dobbs could be through his teammate and friend, Belleville (MI) ATH Julian Barnett, who’s another highly ranked in-state prospect that hasn’t received a lot of “love” from the Wolverines just yet.

According to Lorenz, Michigan may need to not only offer Barnett but push for him to improve its chances with Dobbs ($). But is Barnett even interested in Michigan? He’s worn Michigan gloves in the past during games and looked like a guy who could fit at either wide receiver or cornerback for UM. However, he didn’t make the short trip to Ann Arbor in June for camp, which wasn’t the best sign for UM’s current standing. This is another recruitment that could change quickly once the direct contact can take place in September.

As for another four star in-state talent that has yet to receive an offer from the Michigan staff, Cass Tech (MI) RB Jaren Mangham is another name to watch moving forward.

Mangham is a curious case in the 2019 class. He’s another highly ranked player out of Michigan’s favorite in-state high school and looks like a great fit as either a power back or potentially in a fullback/h-back role as his mix of size and athleticism could be developed into a bruising offensive weapon. But will Michigan pursuit him? It’s still very early but Mangham is all ears, if UM comes calling, per his interview with TMI’s Josh Newkirk ($):

It would mean a lot, any offer means a lot,” he said. “Being an offer from Michigan, I’ve liked Michigan since I was little. So that would mean a lot if I got an offer from Michigan.”

If/when Michigan comes calling for Mangham, it’ll be hard to bet against the Wolverines. Thanks to his longtime love for UM, proximity to home, connections at Cass Tech, and (in my opinion) a very nice fit in the offense, it just seems like something that would be bound to happen.

Quick Hitters

  • When I first started to put this ITFB together, I had an entire section about former top 2016 target and Texas transfer, OT Jean Delance. There was plenty of smoke out there that looked like the former four star offensive tackle would end up at Michigan. However, that wasn’t the case. Delance committed to Florida yesterday. It’s unknown at this time if Michigan pursued him or not. Either way, that’s a nice get for the Gators.
  • Wolverine247 has been all over Don Brown’s peaked interest in 2019 Everett (MA) DB Lewis Cine. The long, rangy defensive back is a player that looks like an ideal fit in the UM defense and it looks like it may eventually come true for the #58 player in the class. It’s still early and there’s plenty of time to go but I’m very close to adding a Crystal Ball selection for him to Michigan. Look for him to be in my 2nd 2019 BGRC that’ll come out in September, as well.
  • Speaking of defensive backs, Michigan’s top DB target remaining in 2018, Cheshire Academy (CT) DB Josh Jobe, also happens to be one of the most sought after recruits in the class. And even though he’s been committed to hometown Miami forever, Michigan and Alabama are chasing feverishly, which looks like it may eventually work out for either Harbaugh or Saban when everything’s said and done. Jobe’s move to Cheshire  Academy in Connecticut is obviously huge for UM. Don Brown’s a legend in the Northeast and should have plenty of regional help in recruiting the high four star defensive back. Keep a close eye on Jobe this fall and winter with official visits coming up.
  • As for Crystal Ball talk, I did indeed put in my CB for the #2 overall player in the 2020 class, Millis (MA) OT Kevin Pyne to Michigan. This is going off of the Don Brown/Northeast connection, Michigan’s high need for impact tackles, and, mainly, The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown’s confidence in Pyne eventually ending up in Ann Arbor ($). There’s still a looooooong way to go but things look good early on. If my two 2020 predictions are correct, Michigan would land two of the top 11 players and the top two offensive tackles (at this point) in the class.

Photo Credit: Patrick Barron/MGoBlog

Garrett Fishaw