Michigan seemingly needed a boost after firing head coach Rich Rodriguez in early January. Fans were restless with the process of hiring a new coach, and recruits were feeling the same. The timing of the coaching change most likely cost them a few commitments, mainly LB Kris Frost (Matthews/North Carolina) who in the end made his commitment to Auburn.
Michigan’s new head man Brady Hoke finally started to fill out his coaching staff, and hit a home run when Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator, and former Michigan assistant, Greg Mattison decided to join Hoke’s staff. The new coaches held their first recruiting visitor weekend the past few days and hit the ground running.
The commitments for Michigan started even before the weekend did when Minnesota commit DB Tamani Carter (Central/Ohio) made the switch for Michigan on Thursday. Defensive back has been a priority for Michigan with a ton of youth at that position, and Carter has the chance to fill a few needs at different spots. Carter was told by the coaching staff that he most likely will end up as a corner, but could also move to safety and help out on special teams. Michigan’s depth chart allows for movement and early playing time.
Hoke and his staff didn’t stop there either. Michigan offered Vanderbilt commit DE Keith Heitzman (Hilliard Davidson/Ohio) on Friday, and Heitzman decided he was a Wolverine on Saturday. The dominos seemed to keep falling after those two prospects made their decisions.
Instate DB Raymon Taylor (Highland Park/Michigan) committed to the staff on the same day as Heitzman. Taylor was made a priority by the new staff, and his speed and physical style of play fit right in with Greg Mattison’s scheme. Taylor had previously been committed to Indiana, but the coaching change there had reopened his recruitment. If you thought Michigan’s day would be done after Taylor and Heitzman, you were wrong. Michigan had filled two gaping needs on the defensive side of the ball, but continued their momentum on Saturday with another commitment.
This time special teams were addresssed when K Matt Wile (Francis Parker/San Diego) decided to be a Wolverine on his official visit. Wile is a 4.0 student, and kicked for the West team at the Army All American game. It seemed as though it was destined for him to land at Michigan at some point. Wile’s father, who was also an orthopedic surgeon for Michigan’s head coach Brady Hoke while at San Diego State, and grandfather were both Michigan graduates. The Wolverines went 4 of 14 in field goals for the 2010 season, so this was a big pickup for Brady Hoke.
Overall, Michigan landed four commitments in definite positions of need and, outside of Wile, all came from the midwest which Hoke noted would be an area of focus. The weekend was a success, but what is even more exciting for Wolverine fans is that it doesn’t seem to be over yet.
Two prospects that were also in attendance at the visitor weekend in Ann Arbor were LB Leilon Willingham (Mullen/Colorado), and LB/TE Frank Clark (Glenville/Ohio). Both prospects came away impressed with what they saw, and who they met. Clark is announcing this Friday (the 28th), and he’s down to Michigan, UNC, and MSU. Willingham has said that he has officially decommitted from Texas A&M and that he will take one more visit to UCF this coming weekend, then announce at signing day (he could announce sooner). Judging by their reaction to the visit, I would be very surprised if either didn’t end up choosing Michigan.
Outside of the visitors from this past weekend, OL Chris Bryant (Simeon/Illinois) also happens to be announcing his decision on Friday (the 28th), and is down to Michigan, Arizona, and Pitt. Michigan has been in great position with Bryant for quite a while, and most think he will end up choosing the Wolverines as well.
So U of M started the previous week off with 10 commitments and little excitement, and could now end this coming week with 17 solid commitments and plenty of hope. The coaching staff has had little time to work with, but have not wasted any time trying to fill holes in this class. They will try to replicate their efforts again this weekend when they host another handful of prospects in Ann Arbor. With roughly 21 spots to fill it seemed that they were unlikely to hit that number a week ago. Now it looks like they might have to do some number crunching to stay under.