University of Michigan Football
Unofficial Recruiting Page
News, Rumors, and Commentary
News: March-November '96
News: December '96
As expected, Michigan received signed letters of intent from all of its verbal commitments.. Michigan is still recruiting two players: WR Kenyon Rambo, who may visit Ann Arbor this upcoming weekend, and TE/DE and basketball PF Ryan Humphrey. Humphrey will probably wait until the late basketball signing date to make a decision; rumor has it that he will choose between Michigan, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
Overall, this is an outstanding class; it filled the major needs (interior OL, running back, cornerback) with potentially great players. The recruiting services generally rank this class among the top 5 in the nation and second in the Big 10 behind PSU.
The Big 10, overall, had an excellent year. Most rank PSU and Michigan in the top 5 overall, with OSU generally among the top 10 and Northwestern in the top 15-20. Some think MSU also makes the top 20, though two of their top prospects are unlikely to qualify academically and will have to sit out for at least a year. Combining the last two years, I'd say that PSU is #1, with OSU and Michigan very close for #2. These schools should all have the talent to compete for the Big 10 title over the next few years, but the conference will be very competitive as Northwestern, MSU, Wisconsin, and Iowa have also recruited well.
My take on this class, by position:
The interior OL was a key need in this class, and the coaching staff did a great job filling the need. This is a great group. I had this as an A+ but they did lose out on Kareem McKenzie (needed some room for improvement if they had signed McKenzie). This group stacks up with any in the country; in fact, it is probably the best group signed, followed closely by Penn State. Unfortunately, offensive line is probably the most difficult position to judge, so we'll have to wait and see how things develop (I guess that's true at all positions, but OL is particulary difficult to predict). I would not be surprised to see either Jason Brooks or Todd Mossa on the two-deep before the end of next season.
Didn't recruit a QB for this year as Drew Henson has already committed for next year, and QB has young depth to spare. I don't see this as a negative of this class in any way. By the way, the Ann Arbor News columnist that covers Michigan football wrote an article saying that Jason Kapsner has a very good chance at being the starting QB next year.
This was a funny year at RB. Michigan recruited a ton of guys, but ended up getting the top two RB's on their board in Anthony Thomas and Patrick McCall. Either could contribute immediately but watch out for Thomas - he will be the biggest TB on the roster in the fall. Nationally, there are a number of schools who have landed more than one top back, so it's difficult to compare; Notre Dame, Tennessee (if their signees qualify), and Florida State, should they get Travis Minor, will have classes with similar talent levels. Penn State could still creep in here if they get Antoine Womack to go with Omar Easy, but Womack may end up at Virginia.
Michigan signed one sleeper in Shawn Thompson; he's an excellent athlete, but it was disappointing to lose out on three of the top TE prospects in the country: Alvin Morrow, Chad Irwin, and Brandon Stephens. The grade could improve significantly if they can land Ryan Humphrey, though his intentions regarding basketball vs. football are not totally clear. Florida State cleaned up at this position with Morrow and Carver Donaldson.
Another position with no recruits. Again, not a necessary focus in this class given the signing of four receivers last year; however, I think the coaches would have liked to land one top receiver (e.g., Daryl Jones). Michigan may still have a chance at Kenyon Rambo; if he visits, I think the chances will increase significantly. Michigan does have one factor in its favor - Rambo is friends with RB recruit Patrick McCall, who is actively recruiting Rambo to visit. Nationally, you have to like Florida's WR class for both quality and depth; they landed Steve Shipp and Daryl Jackson, who some consider the top two WR's in the country.
This is actually a tough one to judge because of the flexibility of many of the recruits. For example, if Maurice Williams, Demetrius Smith, Jake Frysinger, and Kurt Anderson end up playing at DL, this could be an outstanding class. However, Williams will probably start out at OL and Smith at FB, so it's much tougher to judge. Alabama, Florida, and Florida State all did very well along the defensive line this year; Florida State's signing of David Warren may have been the coup of the recruiting season.
Another tough one to judge because of the flexibility between OLB and DE. The loss of Grant Irons was obviously disappointing; it is quite likely he'd have ended up at DE, in any case. I really like the speed of the OLB prospects (Anthony Jordan and Eric Brackins), and Kurt Anderson could become a great player, though he may play any of several positions. Nationally, I think that Penn State has the best class of LB's - Lavar Arrington and Ron Graham are the keystones of their recruiting class. Florida also did very well.
This group is also among the best in the country - the coaches landed a complete secondary. James Whitley will challenge for immediate playing time opposite Charles Woodson; the coaches love his potential on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Lloyd Carr mentioned in his signing day press conference that Whitley may return kicks this year. William Peterson is a player who was overlooked by many services as he moved around the country, but he has excellent speed and was one of the top players in one of the toughest high school football conferences in the country. DeWayne Patmon and Eric Rosel are both great athletes who will provide depth at safety. Nationally, I like the DB classes of Penn State, Tennessee, USC, North Carolina and Florida State - the rich got richer.
Michigan's recruiting class looks to be complete at 19 commitments. The remaining prospects:
- Brandon Stephens, a TE from Logan, UT, has committed to BYU over Michigan.
- Roylin Bradley has eliminated Michigan as he is a likely Prop 48; Michigan does not accept non or partial qualifiers.
- Kenyon Rambo is very unlikely to visit Michigan; he also has not qualified, and may not sign a letter of intent for some time so that he will have a chance to raise his test scores.
I have broken down the scholarship players for next season (an early start, but there have been a lot of questions about this). No guarantees of accuracy as players may leave, but this should be pretty close:
This is a total of 82 scholarship players; 11 will definitely be leaving, meaning that there will be at least 14 scholarships available. However, this is probably an underestimate. I will assume (sigh) that Charles Woodson goes to the NFL, which opens up another scholarship. Looking over the list of 17 redshirt juniors, I'd guess that 5-7 won't come back for a fifth year. This means that there could be 20-22 scholarships available next year, though obviously this could change depending on the number of players that are invited back for a fifth year. My hunch is that the classes will continue to average around 19-20 each year, which allows 5-6 redshirt seniors each season; there will obviously be some variation depending on departures from the team, etc.
OL Kareem McKenzie had an excellent visit to PSU, and (as expected) now lists PSU as his leader. He will probably make his decision between PSU and Michigan later this week. Lloyd Carr is expected to take an in-home visit with McKenzie this week.
DL Clint Hurtt has eliminated Michigan and will make a decision between Miami and Syracuse; most reports have him strongly leaning to Miami.
LB Roylin Bradley will visit Texas next weekend; he currently continues to list Texas A&M as his leader.
WR Kenyon Rambo did not visit this weekend. He is leaning towards not visiting, and is expected to make a choice between USC and OSU.
RB Lamont Jordan has reportedly committed to Maryland over Michigan, Rutgers, and Syracuse. Jordan has not yet qualified academically but had been offered a scholarship by the coaching staff.
Bob Fraumann, a LB from Illinois, has been asked to come to Michigan as a preferred walk-on; he is from a long line of Michigan graduates. Fraumann is an excellent student and is also considering Stanford and several Ivy League schools.
All in all, not a good weekend; Michigan is currently in second place for their three top remaining recruits (Bradley, McKenzie, and TE Brandon Stephens). The coaches will need to make up some ground to sign any of these remaining players..
Lineman Erin Huizingh has committed to Colorado. He could play on either side of the ball; Michigan was recruiting him as a DE prospect. Huizingh chose Colorado over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Kareem McKenzie is visiting PSU this weekend. This may very well come down to Michigan and PSU; while McKenzie listed Michigan as his leader prior to leaving for PSU, Happy Valley's proximity to New Jersey may give PSU an eventual edge.
Brandon Stephens, the TE from Logan, UT, is rumored to be favoring BYU over Michigan.
Grant Irons has officially announced his commitment to Notre Dame. According to older brother Jarrett, Grant wanted to blaze his own trail, and loved the combination of academics/athletics at Notre Dame. Although he played LB in high school, he will probably play at a DE position in college.
Another player that Michigan had been recruiting, Darcey Levy, a DB from Colorado, also committed to Notre Dame. I am not sure if Levy was offered a scholarship by Michigan; with commitments from Dewayne Patmon and Eric Rosel, Michigan has already filled its needs at safety.
Tight end Brandon Stephens visited this weekend but has not made a final decision. He may still take a visit to Utah.
Look for Michigan to focus its recruiting efforts on a few players to fill the last couple of scholarship slots. One is Roylin Bradley, the LB/DE from Texas, who is reportedly down to Texas A&M and Michigan. I still believe that the Aggies have the inside track. Vance Bedford visited Bradley this week. Kareem McKenzie will visit PSU; he states that Michigan is leading, but PSU will make a strong push as they are closer to home (New Jersey). Clint Hurtt, the DL from Milford Prep, is reportedly leaning to Michigan; it was rumored that he would announce this week after cancelling a visit to FSU, but he apparently is still planning a visit to Miami prior to making a final choice.
Michigan received a verbal commitment from LB Eric Brackins. Brackins is 6'3", 210 lbs, and runs a 4.6 40. He committed to Michigan over North Carolina after also considering Tennessee, Auburn, and Iowa. He was a participant at Michigan's summer camp, where he won the award for top linebacker.
If it seems like Michigan is recruiting a lot of linebackers, they are. However, Jake Frysinger will probably play DE, and Kurt Anderson could play DE, LB, TE, or even on the OL as he is expected to fill out his 6'5" frame. Michigan is still working on Roylin Bradley (still probably a longshot) and Irons (see below).
What's the scoop on Grant Irons? Good question. Rumor consistently states that he is committed to Notre Dame. Irons has not yet publicly announced his decision. I believe these rumors are based upon Irons telling another recruit that he plans to go to ND, but other players report that Irons said he would choose between ND and Michigan. SuperPrep is apparently reporting that Irons has committed, but this is being disputed by most other recruiting services. Thus, he may or may not have committed; it wouldn't surprise me at all, however, if he does end up at Notre Dame.
Free safety Quentin Jammer, of Angleton, TX, committed to Texas over Michigan. Jammer had listed Michigan as the favorite after his visit last weekend, but UT had been listed as his favorite up until that point. Michigan and Texas were both recruiting Jammer and DeWayne Patmon, and, as I expected, each got one of these two. I have heard that the Michigan coaches still have an in-home visit scheduled with Jammer.
Michigan lost another player to Texas, TE Chad Irwin of Baytown, TX. While it's not surprising that Michigan didn't land Irwin, it is surprising that he chose Texas, since various rumors had him favoring OSU or Arkansas, with Texas down the list.
RB Burnest Rhodes has committed to Texas A&M. This is not a major surprise given the commitments of Patrick McCall and Anthony Thomas; I'd be surprised if Michigan brings in any more RB prospects this year.
DB/RB prospect Bhawoh Jue of Chantilly, VA, one of the top players in Virginia, is rumored to have committed to PSU over Michigan and Virginia, but he has not yet made a public announcement. There are conflicting reports on this, though he should end the speculation within a week.
RB Jamal Lewis of Atlanta, GA, has pretty much narrowed it to Tennessee; he is expected to make an announcment soon. No recent word on whether he's going to qualify.
RB/DB Darcey Levey of Colorado has dropped Michigan; he will decide between Arizona and Notre Dame.
DL Kenny Smith will end up as a Buckeye or will stay south at Florida or Alabama. He is still attempting to qualify academically.
Now, the good/neutral news:
Michigan has gotten a verbal commitment from Eric Rosel, a WR/DB from Liberal, Kansas. Rosel is a tremendous athlete, and is listed as running a 4.5 40 and 10.3 100. He has great size and speed, but has been criticized by some as being more of a track star than football player. He does have great hands, and may play either WR or SS at Michigan.
Kareem McKenzie, who is scheduled to visit PSU next weekend, now lists Michigan as a clear favorite over OSU and Wisconsin. As I've cautioned before, McKenzie tends to favor the school he's most recently visited, so watch out for PSU making a late push. A side note is that McKenzie wants to be a lawyer, and Michigan's law school is one of the best in the country.
LB Roylin Bradley of Lamarque, TX, did not commit to Texas A&M during his visit this weekend. He will visit Florida St. and possibly two other schools before making a decision. He is currently listing no favorites. This is quite a surprise, as Bradley has always been a fan of the Aggies; as usual, it will be an interesting close to the recruiting season.
Grant Irons visited ND this weekend, and as usual, there are dozens of rumors flying around out there. Most seem to indicate that it is down to ND and Michigan, but I think that he will now sit down, sort things out, and make a decision. Sounds like a rational plan to me. It's pretty funny that this seems to upset recruitniks - but then again, we're all pretty much irrational for even trying to figure out what's going out there.
LB Eric Brackins, from Gatlinsburg, TN, is expected to make a decision between UNC and Michigan in the near future. He has been offered a scholarship by Michigan.
DL Clint Hurtt (another great defensive name) is also close to making a choice between Syracuse and Michigan. He has dropped Florida St. Syracuse has a big need at DL, but some rumors have him leaning towards the Wolverines.
DE/OL Erin Huizingh has in-home visits from the ND and Michigan coaches this week, and is expected to make a decision soon afterward between Colorado, Michigan, and ND.
Highly touted WR Kenyon Rambo currently has OSU as his leader over USC. He has not yet decided if he will visit Michigan.
Michigan has received 2 big verbal commitments in the last 24 hours.
The first is from San Diego safety prospect DeWayne Patmon. Patmon is 6'1", 170 lbs, and runs a 4.5 40; he is one of the top safety prospects on the West coast.
The second commitment, and one that fills a big need for Michigan, is a long awaited one from Anthony Thomas, a 6'1", 225 lb. running back from Winnfield, LA. Thomas, who runs a 4.5 40, is considered one of the elite RB prospects in the nation by most recruiting services. Thomas and prior commitment Patrick McCall were the top two RB prospects on the Michigan coaches board this year.
Michigan lost out on another RB prospect, Derek Combs, of Grove City, Ohio; he committed to OSU over Michigan today. Combs, who was one of the fastest players at the Michigan camp last summer, was more or less "discovered" by the Michigan staff at the camp, and his stock began to rise soon afterward. He went on to have a tremendous senior year, winning the "Mr. Football" award in Ohio. If he had elected to come to Michigan, he probably would have ended up at WR or DB; the same may happen at OSU.
A few other players that Michigan lost out on over the past few days:
- Damien Anderson, RB, Illinois, committed to Northwestern.
- Daryl Jones, WR, Texas, committed to Miami.
- Sam Hooks, LB, Texas, committed to Texas Tech.
- Reggie White, RB, Texas, committed to Oklahoma State.
Rumor has it that the Michigan coaches backed off of both White and Anderson because they felt that Thomas would commit, filling the available RB scholarships for this year. Another RB that had listed Michigan as his leader until the last couple of days is Burnest Rhodes of Terrell, TX. Rhodes now lists Texas A&M as the favorite.
The Ann Arbor News published a few statistics on Shawn Thompson, the most recent Michigan verbal. On defense (LB), Thompson had 78 solo tackles, 62 assists, and 6 sacks. In a run-oriented offense, he caught 35 passes for 489 yards and 11 TD's. He is an excellent athlete.
A few players have cancelled or are planning on cancelling their visits: RB Hodges Mitchell of Dallas, TX; RB Courtlen Johnson of Missouri, who committed to Colorado; and RB Ladell Betts, also from Missouri. The good news is that highly rated WR Kenyon Rambo may make a visit to Michigan on January 24th.
The rest of the current information about Michigan's recruiting targets seems too good to be true (it probably is - any reports I hear are likely to be somewhat biased towards Michigan). A quick rundown:
- Anthony Thomas is rumored to be leaning to the Wolverines. Lloyd Carr and Fred Jackson's in-home visit was delayed until today (bad weather in the Southeast). There is some hope that Thomas will commit tonight, but for now, the announcement is scheduled for Friday.
- In a surprise, Quentin Jammer, the outstanding FS prospect from Angleton, TX, is now thought to be leaning to Michigan. Texas had been a virtual lock, but he had a great visit last weekend. Another safety prospect, Dewayne Patmon of San Diego, CA, will also choose between Michigan and Texas. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Wolverines and Longhorns each land one of these prospects, particularly since Texas has recently landed a number of DB prospects (they do have a pressing need, however).
- Roylin Bradley, previously a Texas A&M lock, now rates Michigan and TAMU as equal. However, as I mentioned previously, he has yet to visit TAMU officially, which in my opinion favors the Aggies.
- I now hear consistent reports that Kareem McKenzie has Michigan slightly ahead of OSU. I have a feeling this will go down to signing day; he still has a visit to PSU on 1/31. It may end up as a toss-up between these three Big 10 schools.
- Jamal Lewis is now favoring Tennessee over Nebraska, with Michigan third (Okay, it's not all too good to be true).
Players that may announce this week:
- Eric Rosel (conflicting reports on his favorite between Michigan, Kansas, Oklahoma); rumor has it that he likes Michigan, but both of his parents are Kansas grads, and they want him to go to Kansas.
- Dewayne Patmon should announce very soon, possibly within 1-2 days.
- Derek Combs is expected choose between OSU and Michigan in the next few days.
Most of the remaining recruits still have other visits planned. Hope everyone got their fix! It's a fun time of year, isn't it?
Anthony Thomas, the star RB from Louisiana, will reportedly make an announcement this week; he may make his decision between Michigan and Nebraska today. The Michigan coaches are supposedly making an in-home visit with Thomas tonight.
Michigan's latest commitment is from Shawn Thompson, a 6'4", 220 lb. TE out of Saginaw, MI. I know absolutely nothing about Thompson; he was recruited mostly by MAC schools and Indiana.
Many of the players who visited this weekend have narrowed their choices to Michigan and one or two other schools. Among these:
- DeWayne Patmon (DB, Cal) had a great visit and has narrowed his choices to Texas and Michigan; he has friends on the Texas team, but Texas is rich in DB talent this year.
- Derek Combs (RB, Ohio) has narrowed his choices to Michigan and Ohio State. He may make a decision in the next few days.
- Roylin Bradley (LB, Texas) will reportedly make his decision between Texas A&M and Michigan. However, he has long been rumored to be an Aggie lock.
- Darcey Levy (RB/S, Col) will choose from between ND, Michigan, and Arizona; ND is the rumored leader, but he may not have been offered yet.
- Lamont Jordan (RB, Maryland), a rock-solid RB from Maryland, was offered, and will choose between Michigan, Maryland, and North Carolina.
- Kareem McKenzie (OL, NJ) had an excellent visit and has moved Michigan even with OSU as his top two. He has, however, tended to favor whichever school he has visited most recently; he will still visit PSU.
- Eric Brackins (LB, Tenn) has also been offered and will choose between North Carolina, Tennessee, and Michigan.
Grant Irons remains as enigmatic as ever. As he stated beforehand, he will take all of his visits (NW, ND this week) before sitting down with his family to make a decision. Rumor has it, however, that he was recruiting this weekend's other Texas visitors to attend Michigan.
Grant Irons has written a very informative article in the Houston Chronicle. It offers great insight into the recruiting process and the steps which taken to convince a recruit to attend a certain institution. There is also a profile of Irons which shows why he is one of the most highly recruited athletes in the nation. (I know many have seen this already, but I didn't have a chance to update yesterday because of the basketball game.)
I'll save myself some time and answer all of the e-mails (about 10 a day) I get about Grant Irons: I don't know where he's going. Any opinion I have is tremendously biased, as I tend to discount bad news (for Michigan) and blow good news all out of proportion. That's the nature of dealing with endless rumor and innuendo, I guess. The good news for fans of Michigan, ND, OSU, NW, and TAMU is that he should have a pretty good feel soon - should only be a couple of weeks, unless he's absolutely blown away by a visit at one school. I'm not too worried about the weather factor - it's pretty much the same in Ann Arbor, Chicago, South Bend, and Columbus. TAMU has an advantage here, but (no offense intended) this is counterbalanced by the fact that they generally don't carry the same academic reputation as the Big 10 schools or Notre Dame. By the way, I don't read anything about his school preferences into the article - he was very diplomatic and anyone trying to glean a favorite is definitely grasping at straws.
A few notes about this weekend
- The weather is ugly. The worst it's been in a long time - several inches of snow, gusting winds, and cold. It's like that everywhere in the midwest, though, and probably worse in South Bend and Chicago which tend to be colder and get more snow that Ann Arbor (something to do with the snow belt/lake effect, I think).
- Grant Irons took a one-day visit to TAMU on Thursday; he will visit Ann Arbor for the remainder of the weekend, will visit Northwestern mid-week, and then will visit Notre Dame next weekend.
- OL/DL Fred Weary has cancelled his visit; he will remain in the south.
- According to a Nashville radio station, athlete Austin Kemp has also cancelled his visit; he initally was being recruited as a QB, but will probably end up playing on the defensive side of the ball.
An update on some other players
- Conflicting reports continue to circulate regarding Jamal Lewis. Some feel that Nebraska is the favorite, while others say Michigan and Tennessee are the leaders.
- Another top RB being recruited by Michigan is Anthony Thomas. Most feel that Nebraska is the major competition, though Texas A&M fans are sure that Thomas is strongly considering them. He is visiting Colorado this weekend, and it may come down to a decision between Colorado, Nebraska, and Michigan. There are rumors that he may announce within the next week.
- Add Reggie White to the list of RB names that are shrouded in uncertainty; he had a great Michigan visit, but recent rumors suggest that either Oklahoma State or Texas is his leader.
- WR/Safety prospect Eric Rosel is apparently planning to visit Kansas now that they have a head coach; however, Michigan is still the favorite over NW and Kansas.
- Things are looking less bright for DT prospect Kenny Smith out of Meridian, MS. Some are reporting that he has dropped Michigan altogether, and may commit to Florida this weekend, while others say Michigan is still in the running. Either way, he may not qualify academically, so I don't have high hopes for Smith becoming a Wolverine.
- OL Jason Brooks remains firmly committed to Michigan. He may cancel his visit to Tennessee. There is no truth to the rumors that he committed to Colorado.
- Michigan is no longer involved with Antwan Randle-El, a great all-around athlete from Illinois; Randle-El wants to play QB in an option oriented offense, while most schools are recruiting him as a CB.
Anthony Jordan has become Michigan's 14th verbal commitment. Jordan, a 6'1", 215 lb. linebacker with 4.55 speed, made his final decision between Notre Dame and Michigan, though he was also recruited by Nebraska, Syracuse, Iowa, Rutgers, Miami, and others. Jordan is fully qualified with a 3.0 GPA and a 1080 SAT. Here is a link to the story in the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which says that Jordan grew up a Michigan fan.
There are rumors that LB Anthony Jordan from Jersey City, NJ was planning to commit to Michigan at a press conference today. I have been unable to confirm that this has happened. Bob Davie has taken an in-home visit, but Lloyd Carr has not; therefore, I would be a little surprised if Jordan announced for Michigan this early. There are conflicting rumors predating this one, some of which say that Michigan had not even offered him a scholarship, some that say ND leads, and some that say ND and Michigan are dead even. Jordan is 6'1, 215 lbs and runs a 4.55 40; he was 3rd team all-state in NJ this year on one team, and 1st-team all-state according to the AP. He is also being recruited by ND, MSU, Iowa, Nebraska, and Syracuse.