Each and every recruiting cycle is long and strenuous. Things are never over until the ink is dry on the LOI which means those same things can change at the drop of a hat. This just so happens be the best and worst part for fans of recruiting. But the likelihood of a roller coaster recruitment mixed with elite recruiting staffs is why you can never completely count out a team, like Michigan, from pulling in a couple “surprise” commits on/right before National Signing Day.
Those surprise commits normally end up coming from states further away from the Great Lakes state for obvious reasons (inability to visit on a normal basis and lack of familiarity with the program). And one of the furthest states from Michigan, California, has become a top priority for the UM coaching staff. Besides their ties to the state, it’s not hard to see why the Golden State is a target for the staff when you look at the amount of talent in each and every class.
Talking recruits into playing their college ball all the way across the country and going from the West Coast to the Midwest is always tough. But that didn’t scare Jim Harbaugh off as Michigan signed three of the top Cali recruits in the 2016 class in WR Dylan Crawford, CB David Long and TE Devin Asiasi. All of which happened after the turn of the calendar.
Question is, can they do something similar in 2017?
Here are the recruits out of California that Michigan fans should keep an eye on up until National Signing Day:
1. TE Josh Falo
Out of Sacramento, Falo is a name that is starting to gain a lot of steam on the UM recruiting front. The staff has missed out on several tight ends in this class and looked to have turned a lot of their focus to Falo, who happened to camp with the staff at their Sacramento satellite camp in late June. From all reports, the staff was really impressed with the big man.
A tight end with his size and athleticism are perfect fits for Michigan’s offense. I fully believe the staff will make him a top target on the board moving forward which will be something to watch throughout the cycle. And that will likely start this week at The Opening where he’s a part of the Hyper Cool team that is full of Michigan commits and targets.
Oregon and USC look to be the top contenders right now but his fit in Michigan’s offense and Tony Tuioti and the rest of the staff’s pursuit should put the Wolverines right in the thick of things. An official visit this fall/winter could be gigantic for UM’s chances here.
2. DT/OL Popo Aumavae
Aumavae is one of the best jumbo athlete in the class. His size and athleticism gives him the chance to play either defensive tackle or along the offensive line at the collegiate level. Both of which are still needs in Michigan’s class. That is why the staff has continued to recruit him heavily.
Though he has yet to visit, Aumavae is a guy who has been very interested in the Wolverines for quite sometime. And they clearly have a shot at him as he’s either wide open as can be or has kept things so close to his vest that no one has even put in a Crystal Ball prediction on him yet.
A strong push from the coaching staff and an official visit this fall could put Michigan right in the thick of things alongside rumored top candidates, Washington and Oregon. Remember this name, especially if UM misses on Bingham (UT) DT Jay Tufele or a couple of their top offensive line targets. He could go from a top target to a priority quickly.
3. C Drew Dalman
Dalman is another player that projects to the interior of the offensive line and is a name to watch closely throughout the cycle. Not only is he the son of a former coach under Harbaugh (Chris Dalman at Stanford in 07-08) but he’s also at a high position of need in this class (center).
At this point, it’s not known if he’s a take at the position but he looks to be the #2 center on the board behind IMG Academy (FL) C Cesar Ruiz, who happens to be the #1 center in the entire class. He also happens to be a pretty safe bet right now though he has recently backed off of naming Michigan his outright favorite.
If the staff somehow misses on Ruiz, Dalman could quickly become a priority recruit for the staff. And if that happens, it’s hard not to see Dalman taking his talents to Ann Arbor. Just make sure you keep an eye on the center situation moving forward.
4. OL Aaron Banks
Banks has been a name that has faded off of the Michigan news cycle a bit as it reaches the dog days of summer point. Most of it has to do with the East Coast/Midwest guys getting most of the love. But don’t think the staff has completely forgotten about him.
There are several big named guys that have Michigan at/near the top of their list, including five star talents Poly Prep (NY) OT Isaiah Wilson and American Heritage (FL) OL Tedarrell Slaton. Though Banks may not have them at the top of his list, he has family connections to the program (uncle is a “huge” Michigan fan) and has mentioned visiting Ann Arbor.
Like with most of the names on the list, USC and Oregon are the two biggest contenders. But thanks to the staff seeing Banks at their Antioch satellite camp in late June and the staff expected to see him again this summer or fall, Michigan is right in the thick of things. Whether his visit comes later this summer (like reported by TMI’s Josh Henschke) or as an official this fall, it should give UM a real chance at swaying him off of the west coast.
California is full of targets for the staff, including the names above as well as top targets Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris, Calabasas (CA) CB Darnay Holmes, Summit (CA) RB Stephen Carr, Luther Burbank (CA) DE DJ Johnson, Bishop O’Dowd (CA) OT Alijah Vera-Tucker and Cathedral (CA) DE Hunter Echols. Make sure to watch out for both sets of names as the staff looks likely to land, at the very least, one player out of the Golden State in 2017.
Who will it be? Let us know in the comment section below!
Photo Credit: MaxPreps.com
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