Inside the Fish Bowl is Far from the Finish Line

Welp, National Signing Day week is here and, like expected, the class is far from being settled. There are several players still on the board, most of whom look to be favoring Michigan heading into their public announcements on Wednesday. So, the roller coaster will keep going until the last second.

Here’s the latest on where things stand with each target heading into NSD:

Iowa City West (IA) WR Oliver Martin

Out of every recruit left on the board, Martin is the most likely to end up signing with Michigan.

The talented receiver out of Iowa made his way back to Ann Arbor for his official visit this past weekend and, according to everyone, it’ll be a complete shock if it isn’t Michigan when he announces.

TMI’s Sam Webb’s gut feeling is on Michigan ($) and Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz saying that a commitment was possible during his OV but, either way, it would be a “significant surprise” if Martin signed elsewhere thanks to an outstanding in-home visit ($). The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown is on board with Martin to Michigan as well after speaking with multiple analysts and coaches ($).

While Martin didn’t drop during his time in Ann Arbor, Michigan is still very comfortable here. He’s the safest bet to join the class at this point. Though it’s not yet known when exactly he’ll be announcing his decision. His quiet nature makes me think this will be more of a twitter note situation than a big signing day announcement.

  • Confidence Level: 99%

Lee County (GA) DT Aubrey Solomon

Solomon is the highest ranked player left on the board and, arguably, the biggest need. And though you can never count out Nick Saban (especially after the Najee Harris recruitment), I’m still firmly riding with my Crystal Ball prediction to Michigan here as all signs continue to point towards a recommitment here.

According to The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown, sources close to Solomon believe the five star tackle is “all blue” ($). Brown also mentioned pretty much everyone around Solomon, including family and coaches, wanting him to head up north as well.

But Brown is far from the only one feeling UM here as Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz is hearing that confidence remains “very high” at Michigan ($) and TMI’s Sam Webb, though he’s not at the “gut feeling” just yet, agrees with Scout’s Allen Trieu that it’ll be good news for UM on Wednesday ($).

247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong is also sticking with Michigan here heading into the final decision ($), thanks in-part to the staff crushing their in-home visit. Though he won’t completely rule out Alabama or USC just yet.

Michigan still remains the Crystal Ball leader and has received 17 of the last 18 CBs, with 247Sports’ national analyst JC Shurburtt putting in the last prediction to Bama.

With Solomon letting it be known that he’s already made his decision and pretty much every recruiting analyst continuing to hear it’ll be Michigan, I’ll be expecting the Wolverines staff to receiver some good news at 10am on ESPN. Though, with his past, this is far from a slam dunk.

  • Confidence Level: 75%

Clay-Chalkville (AL) WR Nico Collins

For a couple weeks now, the smoke around Collins and Georgia has been building as several Crystal Balls came in in favor of UGA. And the increased pursuit of Martin made it look like the coaching staff was believing the rumors as well. However, though some have said otherwise, it looks like the staff is fully on board with taking both Collins and Martin as they’ve pressed for both recruits down the stretch.

And it looks like they’ll get both of them.

Going into his official visit to Athens this weekend, I was starting to believe the rumored silent commit was going to end up choosing Georgia. But with the latest news from Dawgs247’s Rusty Mansell following that trip, it’s looking like Michigan will win out in the end here ($):

Just finished off a OV to UGA and Collins is a man of few words here lately. Kipp and I are putting together as much as we can right now, but truthfully this is starting to feel that ends up somewhere else. That guess from me right now would be Michigan. That is not a final answer, but we are watching some things over the next 24 hours. This is one we definitely stay on top off much as we can.

After putting out that report, both Mansell and Kipp Adams switched their Crystal Ball predictions to Michigan for Collins. As did Steve Wiltfong, who is hearing very good things for UM thanks to the staff, Pep Hamilton especially, easing any worries for the Collins ($).

  • Confidence Level: 75%

Grafton Memorial (MA) DB Ifeatu Melifonwu

Melifonwu officially visited Michigan last week but an offer has yet to be handed out or announced yet. But that looks like it’s expected to come prior to/on Wednesday, if it hasn’t already. TMI’s Sam Webb believed that chances of him receiving the offer during his visit and likely accepting it were very good ($) while Wolverine247’s Isaiah Hole is also hearing an offer is likely to come soon ($).

247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong also mentioned that while he has yet to put in a CB prediction, he wouldn’t be surprised to see him join the class on Wednesday ($).

My Crystal Ball is on Michigan here. His decision is expected to come on NSD and I expect it to be for Michigan, unless UM doesn’t follow up with the expected offer. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear that Melifonwu gave the staff his word during his visit.

If you don’t know about Melifonwu, this is his older brother, who some believe Ifeatu will be even better than. He’s one of the fastest rising prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft thanks to his unreal athleticism a safety of his size. Sounds a lot like his younger brother’s scouting report:

  • Confidence Level: 55% (only this low because of the lack of known offer)

Highland Springs (VA) OL Mekhi Becton

Becton has moved from a likely addition to the class to a bit of a toss up as that official visit to Virginia Tech and their pitch to keep him close to home for his college ball.

The Hokies are far and away the Crystal Ball leaders after that visit but that momentum has deterred the Wolverines staff from continuing to push for the big man. The staff has made multiple visits out to Virginia to see Becton, including a trip to watch his basketball game:

According to Scout’s Michael B. Clark, that basketball visit was big for Becton and it looks like he is no longer favoring the Hokies as UM and VT look to be neck and neck heading into his decision ($):

At one point, Virginia appeared to be the leader. But the source told me he thought that was no longer the case. He said he believed it would come down to the Wolverines and Virginia Tech.”

Like Clark said, this definitely looks to be a toss up. It’s pretty much Michigan’s potential immediate playing time and academics against Virginia Tech’s proximity advantage. I doubt I’ll end up putting a Crystal Ball prediction in here but if I had to put one in, it would be in favor of the Hokies.

  • Confidence Level: 49%

Starkville (MS) LB Willie Gay

Gay’s decision will be the most interesting remaining target to announce on NSD as it’s a true toss up to who he’ll be signing with on Wednesday.

LSU is the Crystal Ball leader and looks to be Gay’s favorite heading into the decision but according to TMI’s Sam Webb, the Tigers may be the most unlikely of the final three to get his signature as it may be more of a Michigan-Mississippi State battle ($).

If that’s the case, this one is going to be too close to call. The Bulldogs have the in-state advantage and obviously have his mother on their side the most as every parent wants their kid closer to home. But, according to Webb, if it’s between UM and MSU, “Michigan is Willie’s #2” behind LSU ($).

But that’s not what everyone is hearing as Rivals’ Rob Cassidy believes it’ll be Mississippi State for Gay ($) while Wolveriner247’s Steve Lorenz doesn’t look to be too keen on UM’s chances either ($):

We’ve consistently reported that while Michigan is and has been a contender in this one, there’s been nothing to suggest fans should get their hopes too high up regarding the team’s chances. Georgia flipped four-star Monty Rice while we were in San Antonio for the Army game and my hunch that LSU would start trending for Gay came to fruition. He is going to be a tough pull for the staff.

This looks to be a complete toss up heading into the decision but I’m leaning towards the in-state Bulldogs winning out in the end here. But it’s not completely off the table that he could pick Michigan or LSU here. The immediate playing time in Ann Arbor is there and he’s been extremely high on the Wolverines since visiting back in the fall. And he’s continued to say the Tigers are at the top of his list.

I won’t be putting in a Crystal Ball for Gay.

  • Confidence Level: 30%

Other Names to Remember

  • Westerville South (OH) P Brad Robbins
    • According to Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz, Michigan’s Chris Partridge went out to see the Nevada commit and believes the staff may push for him ($). It looks like the pursuit will come down to how many spots are available after NSD wraps up. If a spot is available, he looks like a good bet to receive it and eventually flip from the Wolfpack to the Wolverines.
  • Parish Episcopal (TX) OG Gray Davis

Michigan will win some and lose some on Wednesday. But, at this point, it looks like it’ll win more than it’ll lose, and that includes adding some of the top players in the country. Who do you think will hit on and miss on? Let us know in the comment section below! 

Photo Credit: Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog