Michigan Football Recruiting: Updates on 2014 Commits and Targets
National signing day is quickly approaching, and the Michigan Wolverines, yet again, have another potential top-10 class waiting to sign letters of intent on Feb. 5.
This tracker will provide the latest updates pertaining to the 2014 recruiting haul, which is headlined by all-around superstar Jabrill Peppers, a 5-star athlete out of Paramus Catholic (N.J.).
Drake Harris, a 5-star wideout from Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.), is also among the class that holds a No. 14 national ranking from 247Sports, which serves as the guide for player and class rankings within this slideshow.
Feb. 5, 2014
It's just now Wednesday, and NSD festivities are hours away. However, one thing is clear: There shouldn't be any drama with Jabrill Peppers, who yet again reaffirmed his pledge to Michigan by way of Twitter.
Y'all know what I say!! #GoBlizzyBlueManeeee💯— Breez (@JabrillPeppers) February 5, 2014
That's good news for the Wolverines, who could use some since they're likely not going to snag Malik McDowell from the grips of either Ohio State, Michigan State or Florida State.
Feb. 3, 2014
Defensive back recruit Jared Wangler is ready to get the show going.
Feb. 3, 2014
Malik McDowell to Ohio State?
A Scout.com writer thinks so.
Final visits are over. No change for me. Still see Malik McDowell signing with Ohio State. No inside info. Just seen Urb and LJ in the past.— Bill Greene (@BillBankGreene) February 3, 2014
Feb. 3, 2014
Well, kind of sounds like Michigan might be out of the picture. Information regarding Malik McDowell's decision was recently shared by Bleacher Report's Dave Regimbal, who covers Ohio State football for the site.
Feb. 3, 2014
One 247Sports expert is making an early 'Leek forecast:
Feb. 2, 2014
Malik McDowell to Florida State?
Fresh off a national championship, it seems as if the Seminoles are making way for a big landing. Could it be Southfield's 5-star defensive end who just visited with Michigan coach Brady Hoke?
Could it be the prospect who's visited Michigan State and is scheduled for one with Ohio State?
Could McDowell be on his way to the Sunshine State?
Could this NSD have any more twists?! Reports have indicated McDowell's strong interest in both Michigan and Michigan State. Don't rule out a photo-finish on Wednesday.
Interesting, http://t.co/WFjIG2vc6E story said Florida State trying to clear spot for 5star DE from Michigan, presumably Malik McDowell.— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) February 2, 2014
McDowell's choice will come on NSD.
The Noles have a shot at getting McDowell.
Feb. 1, 2014
It's almost here. Stay patient.
#Michigan's visit with Malik McDowell this morning reportedly went "very well." Confirmed that U-M is definitely still in it. Stories coming— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 31, 2014
Jan. 31, 2014
Hoke had an unofficial visit with Malik McDowell today.
Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com relayed good news for Wolverines fans on Twitter.
Malik McDowell visit with Brady Hoke went very well, per @JoshHelmholdt, but McDowell will still visit OSU this weekend.— Chris Balas (@Balas_Wolverine) January 31, 2014
Jan. 27, 2014
Drake Harris is the No. 7-ranked receiver of the 2014 class, per 247Sports, and he's also among the highest Rivals-rated receivers that Michigan has ever landed, per Michael Spath of TheWolverine.com (subscription required to view).
With a score of 5.9, Harris trails only a few former star-era recruits; David Terrelle committed in 1998 and holds the high mark with a score of 6.1. Tai Streets (1995), Mario Manningham (2005) and Daryl Stonum (2008) each scored 6.0.
Just a little food for thought as NSD approaches. Let the countdown begin...
Jan. 26, 2014
Malik McDowell, one of the prizes of the 2014 class, visited Michigan State over the weekend.
2014 DE Malik McDowell here at the Breslin Center on his official visit with both parents. #MichiganState— Rico Beard (@RicoBeard) January 26, 2014
The 6'7," 290-pound 5-star defensive end has been one of Brady Hoke's main targets. According to 247Sports, Michigan holds a slight edge over the rest of McDowell's potential suitors. The Southfield star would obviously strengthen Greg Mattison's defense, but he'd also be a prime addition in East Lansing.
Guess we won't know until NSD.
That being said, Lawrence Marshall, McDowell's teammate at Southfield, seems glued to the Wolverines, per MLive.com's Nick Baumgardner, who posted a wonderful feature on the talented 4-star DE.
Jan. 24, 2014
It'll be here...
As you anxiously anticipate NSD 2014, you may find yourself wondering one thing: What do I know about the upcoming class?
If that's the case, be sure to check out TheWolverine.com's latest preview series. The latest installment (subscription required to view) is on Noah Furbush, a 3-star linebacker according to 247Sports.
At 6'4" and 240 pounds, the Kenton (Ohio) prep boasts the weight of a fullback and the height of a receiver.
He's the No. 38-ranked OLB of 2014, but it'll be interesting to see if the Wolverines cement him there for four years. He's extremely athletic (watch him annihilate the option).
Defensive end could be a possibility, especially with a reported 4.78-second 40-speed (The Block M).
Jan. 20, 2014
OK, so let's forget the previous post in this tracker, because it sounds like things have changed for Michigan, namely its need/desire for running backs in 2014.
Sam Webb of, among many outlets, Scout.com, is reporting that an abrupt shift could take place. What does that mean? It means that the Wolverines may choose not to take a running back this year.
I don't have a subscription to Scout.com, but the teaser says enough:
Things change on a dime in the world of recruiting, and in the last 24 hours things appear to have done just that on the running back front for Michigan.
Jan. 20, 2014
Michigan's recruiting machine is alive and well.
With the uncertainty of Damien Harris' commitment to the 2015 class, it seems as if Brady Hoke is piecing together Plans A, B and maybe C, by offering 3-star running back Marlon Mack, a 3-star prospect out of Booker High in Sarasota, Fla.
According to his 247Sports profile, Mack runs a respectable 4.5-second 40-yard dash. That's not supersonic, but it's a step quicker than Jeff Jones' 4.69. Jones was committed to Minnesota but is expected to join the 2014 class in Ann Arbor.
Jan. 16, 2014
Have you ever wanted to see an infographic map that highlights football recruiting hotbeds?
Sure you have.
Bleacher Report recently took care of that. Give it a look.
Jan. 16, 2014
Michigan had a lot of committed talent in the Under Armour All-America Game and U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Among those fine talents were Drake Harris (UA), Jabrill Peppers (UA) and Mason Cole (Army).
Jan. 15, 2014
Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com (subscription required) recently posted an analysis of Doug Nussmeier's time at Alabama and how it should influence Michigan in 2014 (and moving forward).
In the piece, Sullivan cites O.J. Howard's development as a sign of great things to come for Wolverines tight ends.
In 2013, Howard, a true frosh, was a contributor to the running game. Blocking is an area in which Michigan ends must improve upon, but with Nussmeier, that shouldn't be a problem.
Jan. 12, 2014
Remove Vic Enwere from your recruiting wish list, Michigan fans...that is, if he was on it in the first place.
While committed to Cal, Enwere decided to entertain other options, with one of the biggest being an opportunity to play at Michigan.
Michigan fired Al Borges and hired Doug Nussmeier as the OC, and just a couple of days later, Enwere decided to stay put at Cal. There may or may not be a connection, but Enwere most certainly won't join Team 135.
Vic Enwere sticks with Cal over Michigan http://t.co/LW4McqovKP— Cal Sports Now (@CalSportsNow) January 12, 2014
Incoming linebacker Michael Ferns was granted digits.
Jan. 11, 2014
To an extent, the hiring of Doug Nussmeier will change Michigan's offense. However, he's quite familiar with the pro-style attack after stints at Auburn, Michigan State and, most recently, Alabama, where he handled OC duties for the Tide.
Sam Webb of the Detroit News believes Nussmeier will pay dividends on the recruiting trail. Michigan already gets top-tier talent, but having a Nick Saban-disciple will likely help matters for the better.
According to Webb, Scout.com's South Regional Manager Chad Simmons had the following to say about Nussmeier:
Nussmeier is a strong recruiter. He was a little overshadowed by guys like Kirby Smart and Billy Napier at Alabama, but Nussmeier played a big role in multiple big 2014 commitments for the Tide. He recruited different parts of the country including Alabama, Florida, and the Midwest area during his tenure. He was a big part of Bo Scarbrough's recruitment (four-star, No. 7 RB nationally, and Under All American this year) in Florida, and Derek Kief (four-star No. 43 WR nationally) up in Ohio among others.
He is known as a good communicator on the recruiting trail. I have had prospects and high school coaches tell me about his communication skills, how football smart he is, and how he gets his message across. He is someone recruits tend to speak highly of when they have face-to-face contact with him.
Nussmeier is the second post-RichRod era OC. He relieved Al Borges, who spent three years in Ann Arbor, of that post on Wednesday.
Jan. 9, 2014
Well, after reading Auden Tate's comments on Michigan football, I feel old.
Tate, a 6'4", 195-pound 2015 prospect, grew up watching Michigan football, per Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com (subscription required to view).
As expected--he's a teenager!--the Tampa Wharton wideout's "historical" view of the Wolverines was anything but historical, especially to (very early) '80s babies such as myself.
Tate said the following to Sullivan:
I grew up loving the Michigan Wolverines. I don't know why. I liked Mike Hart, Chad Henne, and Mario Manningham when they were there, so I just fell in love with Michigan. I haven't had any contact with them yet. My coach is trying to get in contact with them, but we'll see.
Reread that first part of the quote. Tate was running around in superhero pajamas while Hart, Henne and Manningham played.
Around the same time, I waited to turn 25--couldn't wait for those lower insurance rates.
Ahh, to be a kid again.
Tate seems to be genuinely interested in Brady Hoke's program, which picked up Doug Nussmeier as its offensive coordinator after letting Al Borges walk on Wednesday.
Keep an eye out for Tate, an unrated prospect who already touts college size.
Jan. 8, 2014
Remember Brady Pallante?
Yeah, the guy who was part of the 2014 class but not really...that guy.
Well, the "greyshirt" is more than happy to join the 2014 haul, which includes the one and only Jabrill Peppers. Who wouldn't be excited to have their name attached to a group led by one of the most talked about prospects since, well, ever...
Pallante, a 6'2", 285-pound DT out of Barron Collier in Naples, Fla. recently spoke to TheWolverine.com's Michael Spath about rubbing elbows with this year's talent (subscription required to view). With mixed emotions, Pallante is ready to get his career started.
I didn't like it [greyshirt] the more I thought about it because I wasn't even going to come in with all the other guys in my class. I was going to get pushed back and I didn't know if I'd ever feel like one of them because of all the experiences I'd miss out on.
In the summer, Coach Hoke told me that my scholarship situation could change. 'Injuries happen, kids quit, scholarships open up and that happens every year.' He said, 'You never know.' He told me to sit on it and wait, and let time do its thing.
Pallante will join Michigan in the winter semester of 2015.
Jeff Jones, a 4-star running back out of Minneapolis Washburn, has an offer from Michigan. That much we know. He's set to visit Jan. 31, but don't expect things to be a smooth ride.
No, Michigan State is going after him, too. Jones has "warmer" interest in both schools, but joining a program which won the Big Ten and Rose Bowl could be more attractive than rebuilding in Ann Arbor.
Michael O'Connor, a 4-star quarterback out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., isn't on the radar, contrary to recent reports (update further down this page). However, Michigan State is going after him. At 6'4" and 223 pounds, O'Connor embodies a typical Big Ten pro-styler.
Although it appears that he's looking past the Wolverines, be sure to keep your ears open for the latest news. He's a gem, and it's difficult to fathom a disinterest on Michigan's end.
Jan. 3, 2014
Technically it happened Thursday, but somehow Michigan's offer to Jeff Jones eluded this blog until Friday.
Anyhow, Jones is committed to Minnesota. He's a 4-star prospect, per 247Sports, out of Minneapolis Washburn High School. At 5'11" and 196 pounds, Jones isn't huge nor is he fast; he runs a 4.69-second 40, per 247Sports.
Michigan offered 2014 RB Jeff Jones today, MVP at the Under Armour All-America game.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) January 3, 2014
According to 247Sports, Jones has "warmer" interest in Michigan State, which beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl, and Florida, which suffered a horrendous 2013 season.
Jan. 3, 2014
During the past two years, depth at quarterback has been an issue for Michigan. With Wilton Speight entering and Shane Morris moving onto his sophomore year, the Wolverines will have a pair of signal-callers to challenge Devin Gardner, who'll be a senior and started 12 games in 2013.
Morris started in the bowl.
A lot of Michigan fans and media members entertained the idea of the Wolverines welcoming a transfer prior to the fall. That didn't happen.
A similar thought is circulating, but this time it surrounds Michael O'Connor, a 4-star Penn State commit. It once again seems to be open season for Nittany Lions recruits. Coach Bill O'Brien was hired to front the Houston Texans, leaving plenty of reasons to assume that players could rethink their decision to join Penn State.
O'Connor isn't jumping to Michigan, and Michigan isn't interested, per Steve Lorenz of 247Sports.
Jan. 3, 2014
Well, Michigan didn't get Leonard Fournette, who chose LSU on Thursday. But there is good news for a possible future back...
Damien Harris, a 2015 commit, was named Kentucky's Gatorade Player of the Year this past fall. So why not add another accolade?
Damien Harris of Madison Southern has been named to the 1st Team AP All-State football team. Congratulations to... http://t.co/1xPRVN1EhY— MadisonCountySchools (@NewsMCS) January 3, 2014
Dec. 31, 2013
This is probably going to be the final update of the year, so I'll make sure it's of the utmost importance.
Jabrill Peppers did a synchronized backflip with other recruits...OK...innocent enough. Take a look.
Did it look awkward? Painful, maybe?
Peppers says he's fine.
Dec. 31, 2013
Wilton Speight is the name of the week if you follow Michigan recruiting. The 6'6", 220-pound former Richmond Collegiate (Va.) star is reportedly tearing it up during Under Armour All-America Game practices, per Scout.com's Kyle Bogenschutz.
Speight could very well sneak into the race for the starting position in 2014. If one thing's clear, it's that Michigan needs to pass the torch to the younger pro-stylers and use Devin Gardner's athleticism at receiver. Speight's developed arm could become a major factor next fall when deciding the pecking order.
And not to be left out, Speight's wardrobe is making a few waves. Michael Ferns, a 2014 LB commit, approves of the super-hero kicks that Speight plans to wear during Thursday's UA All-America Game.
Cleats for the QB competition 😱😱😱 pic.twitter.com/pV5So1XZbF— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) December 31, 2013
According to Bogenschutz, Jabrill Peppers has also impressed during practices. Herm Edwards, who coaches the event, called Peppers the best DB he's seen in some time.
Dec. 29, 2013
Seven players, including Leonard Fournette, are set to make their college decisions during Thursday's Under Armour All-American Game.
Michigan isn't among the top running back's finalists, according to ESPN's Derek Tyson, who posted a notebook with his first impressions from the UA practices.
Wilton Speight, a 2014 UM commit, has posted several photos from the UA event to his Twitter account.
Speight told Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com (subscription required to view) that 2014 superstar Jabrill Peppers is 100 percent on board with Michigan and that Peppers isn't considering visiting any other schools, something that Peppers announced earlier in December.
There was a time when Jabrill Peppers wanted to take remaining official visits. However, after a day or so, he changed his mind. Brady Hoke spent some time with Peppers, who later reaffirmed his pledge to the Wolverines.
It was a sort of hectic November for Hoke.
Bryan Mone, a 4-star offensive lineman, shared a meal with Hoke in December. Needless to say, that table time likely served as a way to secure Mone, who committed in February.
The Wolverines missed on 4-star corner Parrker Westphal, who chose Northwestern over several other big-time Division I offers.
Mason Cole, a 2014 offensive lineman, took to Twitter to defend East Lake High (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) teammate George Campbell, a 2015 wideout who severed ties with Michigan in December.
Out with the old, in with the new: The elder version of this tracker has posts on each event mentioned above.
This position is 99.9 percent locked with Wilton Speight appearing to be the only scholarship quarterback joining Michigan this NSD.
The former Richmond Collegiate star enrolled early and should have an opportunity to showcase his arm in spring ball. As a junior, Speight tended to float his passes. Corrected as a senior, that's no longer a problem, as he flaunted a tighter delivery in later highlight videos.
Michigan wanted a running back for 2014, but then again, it didn't.
Once considered a real option, Jeff Jones reaffirmed his commitment to Minnesota after talks with Michigan stalled in mid-January. The 3-star running back possessed great field vision and ability to stay balanced under pressure.
Elusive enough to make plays, Jones' biggest knock was his lack of speed. He would have added a solid presence in the Wolverines backfield, which just lost Thomas Rawls, who was granted a release from the team in late January.
Michigan offered Marlon Mack, but that didn't last long either.
Don't expect a running back to sign...that's unless of course Hoke and Mattison whiff on Malik McDowell.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Drake Harris (4-star, 2014 UA Game participant)
Maurice Ways (3-star)
Freddy Canteen (4-star)
Ian Bunting (TE, 4-star)
One of Michigan's strengths in 2014 will be depth at receiver/tight end. The 2014 class will join a roster that includes Devin Funchess and Jake Butt—both emerging tight ends—and receivers Da'Mario Jones, Jaron Dukes, Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, among others.
Ways may be one of the more underrated Midwest recruits. Harris has a high ceiling, and Bunting should complement Funchess and Butt.
Potential, again, will be the buzz word.
However, experience will be amiss, as Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson and Joe Reynolds will no longer be with the team.
Darboh didn't play a down in 2013 due to a foot injury. Dukes and Jones saw minimal time. Chesson came on late in the season and showed great signs of athletic development.
Mason Cole (4-star; 2014 U.S. Army Game participant)
Juwann Bushell-Beatty (4-star; 2014 UA Game participant)
Filling Taylor Lewan's left tackle spot is the key, and Cole may be the best suited to do that--in the future, that is.
As of now, there are plenty of players in front of Cole, who should at least compete for solid reps during spring ball.
Malik McDowell (DE, 4-star; 2014 U.S. Army Game participant)
McDowell visited Michigan on Fri., Jan. 30, per reports. The weekend prior, he visited Michigan State. The Southfield star plans to visit Ohio State as well.
A true last-moment decision, McDowell's intent won't be known until NSD.
Lawrence Marshall (DE, 4-star)
Bryan Mone (DT, 4-star; 2014 UA Game participant)
McDowell, of Southfield, would signify a huge in-state victory for Michigan. Getting Marshall's prep teammate would establish another Bushell-Beatty/Peppers dynamic.
High school buddies often play well together at the college level; they know each other's tendencies and know what it's like to compete alongside each other.
Carter is likely headed to Alabama or another SEC school. Thomas' final three are Texas, Stanford and Ohio State, according to 247Sports. Williams will most likely stay down south. The Georgia product is expected to choose Auburn or Clemson.
Harris could end up at Michigan State. He has "cool" interest in the Wolverines and Spartans, but the latest buzz on Twitter suggests that he could sign with Mark Dantonio.
Michael Ferns (4-star, 2014 UA Game participant)
Chase Winovich (3-star)
Noah Furbush (3-star)
Morgan has "warmer" interest in Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
Undersized at 6'1" and 185 pounds, Fuller has one shot at playing for Hoke: his Detroit connection. The Wolverines have been successful with Motor City preps, and Fuller is known for his hustle.
Rose has "cool" interest in Michigan, per 247Sports.
Ferns is the obvious gem of the class, but somehow snagging Morgan away from the 35 other suitors could prove to be the move of the year in terms of linebacker recruiting for defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
Jabrill Peppers (ATH, 5-star; 2014 UA Game participant)
Brandon Watson (CB, 3-star)
Jared Wangler (S/LB, 3-star; 2014 UA Game participant)
Michigan lost out on Jackson, the No. 2 corner of the 2014 haul who seems destined for Southern California. But having Peppers could more than make up for that.
Wangler is versatile and could play a similar role as Dymonte Thomas, who'll be a sophomore next fall.
Smith would have been another great commitment to receive, but he's heavily considering Southern California, Alabama and Notre Dame.
Parker, an Oklahoma native, is considered as a Plains kind of guy; he has Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M knocking on his door.
Lattimore, a former Cleveland Glenville star, is considered an Ohio State-lean. He last visited Michigan in September. McGraw is probably bound for Oregon.
Secondary coach Curt Mallory loses Courtney Avery, but he'll have Jarrod Wilson, Blake Countess and Thomas, one of the most promising young cover men in Ann Arbor. Peppers should add immediate energy into the fold.
It's back to the drawing board. Next year's lineup could be comprised of sophomores and freshmen.
According to 247Sports, Michigan isn't actively seeking help in the punting or kicking departments.
Matt Wile (enjoy his 2011 highlight video) should assume Brendan Gibbons' post next season, while Kenny Allen could be the team's next punter, depending on whether or not Will Hagerup is reinstated to the program.
The kicking game is a work in progress. But Wile has a big leg, and Allen shrugged off an opportunity to play at Alabama and Oregon to walk on at Michigan. Those two should be able to handle duties accordingly.
As for return men, it's possible that a player such as Jamil Kamara, a 4-star athlete, could be brought aboard. Dennis Norfleet and Jehu Chesson could also be return options in 2014.
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81