Inside the Fish Bowl is Ballin’ During the Dead Period

The mid-summer dead period is here but it didn’t come quietly as the eventful extended weekend on the recruiting trail included one commitment (OT Andrew Stueber) and two offered wide receivers committing elsewhere (Mike Harley to WVU and Maurice Bell to Colorado). While there weren’t any top ranked players to come off the board, Michigan fans should be celebrating the addition of Stueber.

Some star gazers hardly bat an eye at the Connecticut tackle’s addition but when you look at his size and style, all I see is an old school, Bo Schembecher-era offensive lineman. I’ll easily put Stueber in the running for most underrated addition of the class when it’s all said and done.

As for another player that could join Stueber in Michigan’s 2017 recruiting class, grab your swimsuit and make sure you’re covered in sunblock before diving Inside the Fish Bowl for the latest Michigan football recruiting update:

Blue Ballin’ 

With two linebacker commits in the 2017 class already and Paramus Catholic (NJ) LB Drew Singleton looking like a safe bet to join the class as well, most would think the coaching staff is set on adding only three linebackers this cycle. But that doesn’t look to be the case as they have also made IMG Academy (FL) LB Jordan Anthony a priority for this class.

And, like Singleton, I have put my Crystal Ball prediction in for Anthony to Michigan.

Anthony has been a player I’ve monitored for awhile as he’s looked like a legit option to be a part of this class since he made his way to Ann Arbor for the spring game at the beginning of April. Since that visit, the Wolverines have shot to the top of his list thanks to both the visit and the staff’s ramped up pursuit of the Maryland transplant.

According to his 247Sports page, Michigan’s Jedd Fisch and Don Brown made their way to Bradenton to see Anthony. He also told Wolverine247’s Steve Lorenz that he’s talking to Michigan “every day” ($). In that same article, Lorenz mentioned that the talented linebacker was “the next best bet” behind Singleton at the position.

That was a big reasoning behind the Crystal Ball but it wasn’t the only reason.

I caught up with Anthony recently and he let me know that he’s planning on visiting Michigan for the 2nd time this summer but the BBQ in August in the backup plan at this point.

“If Im not up there in July then I will focus on getting up there for the Cookout in August.” Anthony said about his plans to return to Michigan. He also talked about how he’s looking forward to hanging out and talking with his Team #Hypercool (aka #TeamMichigan) teammates at The Opening.

Spending extended time with multiple Michigan commits and top targets in Eugene followed up by a likely return visit to Ann Arbor later in the summer should be huge for the Wolverines chances here. Add in other factors working in UM’s favor, including the class filling up pretty fast among other things, and I believe Michigan beats out his home state Maryland Terrapins here.

I also added in my Crystal Ball selections for CB Kary Vincent to LSU, WR Cameron Buckley to Iowa and DB Jeffrey Okudah to Ohio State.

Tuf Battle vs the Buckeyes

As the 2017 National Signing Day shot clock is about to hit the 7 month mark, focus is slowly starting to shift towards who will finish with the better class on paper when the ink on the LOIs is dry.

While OSU has a huge lead already and is the safe bet to sign the top class on NSD and one of the best classes of all time, there are several top ranked recruits that the two staffs will battle it out for from now until February. That list of recruits includes WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, RB Najee Harris and CB Darnay Holmes. But there won’t be a bigger recruiting fight between the two programs than the battle for Brighton (UT) DT Jay Tufele.

Tufele is one of the top defensive tackles and overall players in the class. He also happens to be the name at the top of the defensive tackle board for the Wolverines and Buckeyes. And, at this point, it looks like he’ll end up signing with one of the two Big Ten East programs.

Ohio State has somewhat been the favorite over the last couple months as Tufele looks to have quickly built a bond with Urban Meyer and commit DT Haskell Garrett. But will his timeline work for the Buckeyes staff? A source believes 19 is the number for OSU and they’re already at 14 commits (13 if the kicker is grayshirted) with plenty of likely additions on the horizon, including WR Trevon Grimes, WR Tyjon Lindsey, WR Jaylen Harris, DE Chase Young and DB Jeffrey Okudah. On top of that, they have a real shot at adding CB Amir Riep, CB Jamyest Williams, CB Lamont Wade, OT Trey Smith, RB Cam Akers and DT Darnell Ewell (if they want him).

So, for you non-mathematicians, Meyer and his staff may have hold off on accepting other legit target commitments or will need to see departures from their current commitment list if they’re going to fit Tufele in the class. He’s clearly a top target for their staff but if numbers get even tighter, it’ll be interesting to see if they value a 3rd defensive tackle over an addition to another position.

But will Michigan really win out because he’s not a scholarship fit for Ohio State?

That’s not all that the Wolverines (possibly) have in their favor for Tufele. The recent trip to Utah for the All Poly Pride camp gave the staff the chance to work the talented tackle. That hands on experience, his chance to play alongside the likes of Rashan Gary and Aubrey Solomon in Don Brown’s defense, and the Polynesian presence in Ann Arbor (Tony Tuioti and Bryan Mone, specifically) give Michigan a very good chance in this race.

Tufele is expected to officially visit both Ann Arbor and Columbus this fall. Both will be visits to watch very closely.

Quick Hitters

Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski / USA TODAY Sports

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