Inside the Fish Bowl is Upgrading the Data Plan

Michigan kicks off the 2016 football season on Saturday with a well traveled Rainbow Warriors team that is coming off a beat down down under against Cal. But that’s not the only news this week as the 2018 college football recruiting trail has officially opened at the stroke of midnight on September 1st. And it got crazy right away.

Mad Data Surge

With 2018 recruiting now open for college coaches to contact recruits on a normal basis, parents and guardians all around the country may need to swing into their wireless carrier and look to upgrade their wireless data plan. Especially those who happen to have the nation’s elite on their plan, like several of Michigan’s top targets early on:

Bishop Gorman (NV) QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson

Newbury Park (CA) QB Cameron Rising

Bothell (WA) QB Jacob Sirmon

The Peddie School (NJ) QB Allan Walters

Chaminade (CA) RB TJ Pledger

Allen (TX) RB Kirby Bennett

Miami Central (FL) RB James Cook

Irvington (NJ) WR/ATH Jasiah Provillon

Chaminade-Madonna Prep (FL) WR/ATH Xavier Williams

Ridge Point (TX) TE Mustapha Muhammad

Lindenhurst (NY) TE Jeremy Ruckert

Desert Hills (UT) OL Penei Sewell

Gilman (MD) DT Thomas Booker

South Gwinnett (GA) DT Robert Cooper

St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) DE Nik Bonitto

Central Dauphin (PA) DE Micah Parsons

Harrison (MI) OLB Ovie Oghoufo

Allen (TX) LB Bumper Pool

Claremont (CA) LB Solomon Tuliaupupu

Cass Tech (MI) CB Kalon Gervin

Calabasas (CA) CB Bookie Radley-Hiles

Wesley Chapel (FL) CB Isaiah Bolden

Columbus (FL) S Josh Jobe

Prattville (AL) ATH Cam Taylor

Other Top Targets Contacted

Stay tuned as I’ll be adding more names as the information comes in.

Harris and Harbaugh

It’s no longer a secret that Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris is the running back target on the board. Michigan is all in on Harris even though they still in the running for Summit (CA) RB Stephen Carr and have three running backs already committed to the class. The BBQ visit was huge for UM’s chances but it’s his relationship with Jim Harbaugh that could end up being the deciding factor, if a flip ever happens.

The San Francisco Chronicle put together a really well done article on Harris which included some great stuff on the relationship between the #1 ranked player and the head coach of Michigan:

Even if Harris doesn’t end up in Ann Arbor, he’s become a Harbaugh fan.

“He’s dope,” Harris says. “Everybody thinks he’s weird, but he’s not weird. I like him a lot. He’s a funny dude. He’s cool.”

Right now, college coaches across the country are probably busy parsing those words, wondering if Harbaugh might have the inside track on the nation’s top running back. But it’s clear Harris has not yet decided.

Harris also talked about the first time he met Harbaugh, which included the UM coach telling him “you’re a beautiful young man!” and telling him he should pursue a career in movies, as well as comparing Harbaugh’s more laid back personality to Nick Saban’s strict style.

Will that budding relationship help flip him to Michigan? I think there’s still a ways to go for that move to happen but it’s clear that Harris likes what he sees in Ann Arbor, especially with the man in charge.

Still Sitting Pretty for Ruiz

While Harris and Donovan Peoples-Jones may be the sexiest names on the recruiting board, there may not be a player that Michigan needs to land more in this class than IMG Academy (FL) C Cesar Ruiz. The nation’s top center is at an extremely high position of need in this class and just so happens to have been favoring the Wolverines for the majority of his recruitment.

Ruiz spoke with TMI’s Josh Newkirk after his big win in IMG’s season opener against Grayson (GA), which included Ruiz talking about his interest in Alabama dying off and where things stand with Michigan:

Ruiz also spoke with Bleacher Report’s Sanjay Kiripalani about his recruitment and about how Michigan has been his longtime favorite:

With Michigan, they have been a longtime favorite,” Ruiz said. “I’ve got a lot of great people that I know there. I’ve got a lot of good, close friends there. I’ve got a great relationship with the coaching staff. That’s one of the schools where my position coach isn’t the only one recruiting me. The entire staff is constantly talking to me. It’s not an annoying thing. It’s more a quick text like, ‘How you doing?’”

Though the top center in the class continues to mention the likes of Oklahoma and North Carolina among his top teams, all signs continue to point towards Michigan here.

Names to Keep an Eye On

Michigan’s offensive line board looks to be narrowing down as the staff hits the football season. One name that looks to be high on that board that hasn’t received a ton of pub is 2017 Aledo (TX) OT Chuck Filiaga. The #112 ranked player in the class spoke with The Wolverine crew about his recruitment and interest in Michigan, which included where UM stands on his board and how much he speaks with several members of the UM staff ($):

I don’t have a top 10 or top five yet, and I’m really open to anybody and everybody, but Michigan is definitely up there,” he said. “I’m very interested in Michigan but I’m very interested in all of the schools and I’m getting to know the coaches on every staff.

“I’ve been in contact with Coach Tuioti for a while. I also talk with Coach [Jim] Harbaugh and Coach [Tim] Drevno a lot.”

Filiaga is clearly climbing up the staff’s board. If UM can get him on campus for an official visit, he’s a name to watch closely.

Another 2017 recruit to watch in the near future is Fitzgerald (GA) TE Lecitus Smith.

The Virginia Tech commit is a player that the staff looks to be keeping an eye on as they expand their tight end board. Josh Falo is the top target at the moment with Major Tennison hanging around as well but Smith is a player they could look to fill the H-Back role in the class. His size and playing style is similar to current Wolverines TE/HB Khalid Hill.

Quick Hitters

Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports