The Michigan Wolverines are setting up for a strong close, as college football recruiting heads into dormancy for the dead period.
This is one of the most enjoyable times of the year— maybe my second favorite right behind the three days of bliss that are the NFL Draft.
As I sip my second cup of hot chocolate on a day colder than Frosty’s bare white buns (18 degrees in Chicago right now), I’m mentally gearing up for the snowstorm of recruiting drama that’s about to be unleashed over the next two months. That’s the nature of the game with the recruiting dead period hovering over us.
Actually, let me preface this post by saying it was inspired by my friend and colleague Brian Stultz’s SEC Vibes, which is also published on Thursdays. This isn’t meant to steal his thunder, but I surely will turn casually to the side and sip this hot chocolate obnoxiously when my column compiles more readers … because it’s always “crootin’ season,” folks.
And as sure as I am that I still very much love my college nickname, “Judes,” I’m equally sure Mr. Stultz will drop a couple jokes about me sliding into teenage football players’ DMs. But, hey, that’s the life that comes with being a recruiting analyst.
*cue the David Caruso sunglasses CSI Miami intro*
Anyway, with all of that being said, the purpose of this column will be to empty out the notebook and drop all of the recruiting tidbits that didn’t make their way into stories of their own.
Things could get dicy, but here we go.
Ambry Thomas Committed to Michigan
For everyone who thought the Florida Gators were close to luring Thomas to Gainesville, just stop it. He was never going to Florida. I spoke with Thomas and Jaylen Kelly-Powell this summer in Ann Arbor — and with JKP at The Opening in Chicago — there was zero doubt they’d end up playing in The Big House. They’re cousins, and they’re going to be playing in the same secondary in maize and blue for the next three to four years. It was a lock they’d commit to Michigan then, and it’s coming to fruition now.
Future Michigan Commits
Dear Wolverines fans, if you’re worried about Ohio State being near the top of the 2017 recruiting class rankings, don’t sweat. Your commits are on the way. There are a handful of 5-star and 4-star prospects in line to commit to Michigan at some point within the next two months. Two of them will make 4-star quarterback Dylan McCaffrey a very, very happy guy.
Joshua Kaindoh Backs Off Maryland Pledge
I’m a huge believer in what D.J. Durkin is doing with the Terrapins, and believe he has them trending in the right direction, so this is a bummer for the Terps. Having said that, Florida State has to love its chances at landing the 4-star defensive end. Penn State is still there, and a Big Ten title certainly helps. But I like the Seminoles’ shot at landing Kaindoh.
Ohio State 5-Star Commits
When we spoke with 5-star quarterback Tate Martell on Tuesday, he expressed how huge it was when the Buckeyes landed 5-star outside linebacker Baron Browning. I had a gut feeling Browning would end up in Columbus instead of Tuscaloosa due to Alabama already possessing commitments from Markail Benton, Dylan Moses and VanDarius Cowan.
Now that Browning is pledged, look for him to help pull 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson and 5-star safety Jeffrey Okudah into the mix. Both Wilson and Okudah like Oklahoma a lot, and FSU is in the mix too, but there’s a movement going on right now. The Buckeyes are cleaning up, and they could land the most 5-star prospects we’ve seen one team get since Urban Meyer did it at Florida in 2007 (10).
Oregon’s Ducks Not In a Row
Whether or not the firing of Mark Helfrich was warranted is a separate debate. Regardless, it will undoubtedly continue to affect the Ducks on the recruiting trail. Three-star offensive tackle John Vaka decommitted from Oregon. Four-star cornerback Demmodore Lenoir decommitted from Oregon. Four-star defensive end Langi Tuifua decommitted fr— you catch my drift.
Don’t be surprised if Lenoir ends up at USC. Adoree’ Jackson reached out to him on Twitter after Lenoir backed off that pledge, so you know the pull to stay close to home is strong. Tuifua appears to be staying close to home as well, and BYU is now the frontrunner for him. Willie Taggart has a lot of work to do and may even try and pluck some of those USF commits away.
Dead Period Flips
I don’t think there will be many, but be prepared for some big flips. When we asked 5-star running back Najee Harris about what it would take for Michigan to flip him from Alabama, he refused to answer the question. He’s also visiting Ann Arbor this weekend — right before the dead period begins. A flip to the Wolverines would not, at all, be unexpected. He said he really didn’t care whether or not Lane Kiffin left the Crimson Tide, a statement that could be read as Harris tipping his hand.
It appears as though Florida is on the verge of flipping 4-star defensive tackle Cory Durden from FSU, and I think the Gators will pull it off. Here are a few other recruits who could flip: 4-star offensive tackle Navaughn Donaldson, 4-star wide receiver Omar Manning and 3-star quarterback James Blackman.
When I spoke with 4-star defensive tackle Breyon Gaddy, he was less than pleased — to put it nicely — with the coaching staff in Knoxville. He and his brother, Brandon, decommitted and are now being targeted by Florida. I believe they’ll both be Gators if their grades are up to par, but it says something for what’s going on with the Vols right now. A source close to 4-star athlete C.J. Cotman told me Tennessee pulled his offer because Butch Jones and his staff are seeking more experienced, older JUCO players to come in and play right away. There’s a strong feeling that all is not well in Knoxville, and we could see more signs of implosion as we go on.
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.