(Editors Note: Last month we began a series on Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class. Each month we will post what’s believed to be Brady Hoke’s top 10 targets. (As of now there are about 10 spots left in the 2015 class. The process, which will have fewer targets as it continues toward National Signing Day in February. We will also have a list of players “also in the running.” Those players are slightly off the radar or not quite suited for Michigan. Since last month’s article, QB Alex Malzone and Darrin Kirkland, Jr. verbally committed to the Wolverines. Feel free to comment or venture over to the message board and tell us why we’re all wet. Here is a link to Part 1).
The last thing Michigan coach Brady Hoke needed after a disappointing 2014 (7-6) was excessive drama with the 2015 recruiting class. Michigan has already suffered three decommitments, with only six committed at this time.
What’s worse, the three decommitments should become excellent football players on the college level. WR George Campbell, a 6-3 receiver, and RB Damien Harris are both nationally-ranked No. 2 at their respective positions, while CB Shaun Crawford’s fine performance at the Nike SPARQ combine earned him an invitation to the Nike Opening, a prestigious camp in July for aspiring high school seniors.
But don’t feel bad for Hoke just yet, even though his job might be in jeopardy if the Wolverines stumble out of the gate this fall.
Hiring respected offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier from Alabama and recruiting potential lockdown corner Jabrill Peppers (2014 class) from New Jersey just might point Michigan in the proper direction.
Add the surprise transfer of RB Ty Isaac to the Wolverines from Southern Cal and Hoke just might crack the tiniest of smiles. Isaac, who was the nation’s 8th ranked ball carrier in 2013, is a perfect fit for Michigan’s north and south attack. Even if he must sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules, he’ll be a redshirt sophomore in 2015. Michigan would have a backfield of Derrick Green, De’Veon Smith, Isaac, Drake Johnson and one or two others.
And if Michigan can somehow put even a decent offensive line together, we can count on a strong running game, and more time for QB Devin Gardner to relax in the pocket.
Hoke can also breathe easier because two of the decommits, Crawford and Harris, are good bets to re-commit.
At the moment Crawford intends to make a good showing at Nike’s The Opening camp: “Getting this invitation is awesome, and I’m still a little bit in shock,” Crawford stated.” It’s such an honor to get invited. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to compete against the top players in the country. I’ve watched it in the past, and it’s hard to believe I’m going to be a part of it.”
After committing to Michigan last fall, Crawford upset the Michigan staff by indicating that he was conversing with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and was thinking about visiting Columbus.
Hoke’s recruiting policy, as is well known by now, doesn’t allow commits to visit other schools. But since Crawford committed so early, you really can’t fault the kid from second-guessing himself. Especially with the unrelenting pressure from the Ohio State staff.
“I visited Michigan last December, and while they’re always on my mind, that visit just sunk everything in with me,” he admitted. “Every time I visit there I become more Michigan and more Michigan, and I will be there next Sunday for the junior day. I’m still looking at other programs a little bit, but I’m still loyal to Michigan.”
“I don’t talk with Coach Meyer at all, but Coach (Chris) Ash will message me on Facebook, but that’s about it,” Crawford said. “I haven’t really thought about visiting Ohio State all that much, so it’s not really a possibility.”
One clue that Crawford will eventually sign a National Letter of Intent, is that he’s been trying to bring his buddies to Michigan.
“I’m definitely going to be doing some recruiting,” he stressed. “We lost two big guys in this class, so I’m going to try to get two more guys to replace them. The process is long, and they might be back or they might not be, but I’m going to try to get the best players I possibly can to join me at Michigan.”
“I’m speaking with Justin Hilliard and Jerome Baker, and they’re both friends of mine,” he continued. “We also have a couple players at (Cleveland) St. Edward that Michigan is interested in as well.”
Harris. too, has a soft spot for Michigan since he’s conversing with the other Wolverines.
“I actually talked to new Michigan QB recruit Alex Malzone last night and this morning because I thought he was going to be here, but he told me he is not.” Harris said. “He told me that he’ll be going to the Elite 11 camp, hopefully, out in Oregon in ties with The Opening. Hopefully I’ll get to go and be invited and we’ll be up there together. We’ve just talked about me getting back up on campus, visiting at the same time so that we can start to develop a relationship between us. Because just as much as you got to get to know these coaches, you’ve got to get to know the players and recruits too. That’s a pretty vital part of this whole entire process. We’ve communicated. We’ve started to kind of build a relationship, friendship and we’ll just see where that goes.”
With each statement, Harris sounds more and more like a lock.
“I’ve gotten a chance to know (Michigan offensive coordinator Doug) Nussmeier pretty well, and we talk on the phone quite often,” Harris said. “It’s just that it was hard being committed and now transitioning to being decommitted when I wanted to see other schools.
“It’s not like they’re out of the mix; that’s not the case by any means,” Harris added. “They’re still up there with other schools. People don’t realize that there’s something that I love up there, and just because I’m decommitted doesn’t mean they’re right there with the other schools.”
The competition would be tough with Green, Smith, Johnson and Isaac already in Ann Arbor, but the 5-11, 205 lb. back isn’t ranked No. 1 in the nation for nothing.
The first table below contains Michigan’s six commits, while the second shows the top prospects of the 2015 class.
247 Composite Star Rank
Nat'l Pos. Ranking
|Garrett Taylor, CB||6-1, 188||4||7|
|Darrin Kirkland Jr., ILB||6-2, 228||4||6|
|Tyree Kinnel, S||6-0, 190||4||11|
|Jon Runyan, Jr. OT||6-4, 250||3||10|
|Andrew David, K||5-9, 165||2||4|
|Alex Malzone, PRO-QB||6-2. 200||3||11|
247 Composite Star Rank
Nat'l Position Ranking
Chance of Signing LOI
|Tyrone Wheatley, TE||Yes||4||10||Very High|
|Keisean Lucier-South, WDE||Planned||5||2||Medium|
|Darian Roseboro, SDE||Yes||4||8||Medium|
|Grant Newsome, OT||Yes||4||20||Very High (New Commit)|
|Justin Hilliard, OLB||Yes||5||2||Medium|
|Damien Harris, RB ||Yes||5||1||High|
|Brian Cole, ATH||Yes||4||4||Medium|
|Chris Clark, TE||Planned||4||2||High|
|Shaun Crawford, CB||Yes||4||9||Medium|
|Auden Tate, WR||Planned||3||47||High|
Also in the running: SDE Terry Beckner, Jr., OLB Josh McMillon, OLB Tyric Thompson, RB Jacques Patrick, WR George Campbell, WR Miles Boykin, CB Iman Marshall, WDE Kengera Daniel, ATH Jerome Baker, RB Michael Weber, WR Juvall Mollette
Bolded players linked to Sports-reference for expanded stats
Rankings in tables via 247sports ♦
Visits are courtesy scout.com
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer