Michigan Football Recruiting: Tracking 2012 National Signing Day Targets

Joel GreerCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2012

Michigan Football Recruiting: Tracking 2012 National Signing Day Targets

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    Before Brady Hoke coached his first game at Michigan, he was already drawing raves for his instant recruiting success.

    In less than a month, Hoke had secured 12 additional commits to make the 2012 class a respectable one.

    With that kind of success, it's no surprise that Michigan's 2012 class will be one of the best in the nation.

    Just a few days remain for Michigan to add a few more recruits before National Signing Day, February 1. In fact, Michigan's last top prospect, offensive tackle Jordan Diamond, won't be deciding until February 3.

    Let's check the status of the final few remaining recruits and the 24 who have already committed. Then, follow along with us on National Signing Day as each commit signs his letter of intent.  

    We'll update each slide as the information becomes available. Remember, there will be a few surprises.

Jordan Diamond, Offensive Tackle, Simeon Vocational HS, Chicago, IL

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    The battle for Jordan Diamond's services is down to three schools: Michigan, Auburn and Wisconsin.

    Michigan fans believe the Wolverines have a good shot at acquiring the 6'6", 290 lb, 5-star offensive tackle.

    Rated the No 10 offensive tackle by ESPN, Diamond is a former teammate of Michigan freshman tackle Chris Bryant.

    "Chris is one of my best friends," Diamond told Scout.com. "It’s hard to turn down friendship.”

    Michigan recently lost the recruiting battle for offensive lineman Joshua Garnett, who committed to Stanford. That additional opening might just tilt Diamond Michigan's way.

    Considering: Michigan, Auburn, Wisconsin



Brian Cleary, Quarterback, University of Detroit Jesuit HS, Detroit, MI

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    Despite playing at the prestigious Detroit Catholic League, 6'3" quarterback prospect Brian Cleary was left out in the cold. 

    The University of Detroit Jesuit performer could be a walk-on or possible grey-shirt at Michigan. "He knows how to get the job done and comes through almost every time," says recruiting expert Tom Lemming. "He needs to add weight and strength but the arm and smarts are there." 

    Ranked by scout.com as the 158th quarterback in his class, Cleary is still waiting for his first offer.. 


    Has Not Made a Decision

Stefon Diggs, Wide Receiver, Our Lady Good Counsel, Olney, MD

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    The longest of long-shots, 5-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs has yet to commit. Diggs remains an interest to Michigan fans because he and Wolverine cornerback Blake Countess were high school teammates in Maryland. 

    It was first thought that Diggs would follow teammate Countess to Michigan, but academic problems put things on hold and Michigan might have soured on the idea. To make matters worse, the Michigan staff and Diggs were supposedly scheduled to meet at the school, but Diggs was on his way to California instead.  

    At this late date, Diggs has visited Auburn, California, Florida and Ohio State. Southern Cal and Maryland are also possibilities. Still undecided, Diggs has delayed his announcement until after National Signing Day.


    Committed to Maryland on 2/11

Alex Kozan, Offensive Guard, Valor Christian HS, Highlands Ranch, CO

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    A 6'4", 295-lb offensive lineman, Kozan chose Iowa over Michigan and Auburn, 

    The Semper Fi Bowl participant was another of the Ohio contingent offered by the Wolverines. Kozan is ranked as the 16th best guard in the nation by scout.com.

    As a high school junior, Kozan helped his team win the Ohio state championship while earning All-State honors.

    Verbally committed to Iowa

Sam Grant, Tight End, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, OH

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    Sam Grant, a former teammate of Michigan commit Kyle Kalis, verbally committed with the Oklahoma Sooners.  A former Boston college commit, Grant had a good chance to complete for playing time as a Michigan freshman.

    The loss of Grant, Joshua Garnett and Armani Reeves is a bitter pill for Michigan fans, but the Wolverines are still in line for 5-star offensive tackle Jordan Diamond, who plans to make his decision February 3. 

    Grant,  6'6", 250-pound tight end, is scout.com's 45th rated tight end in the nation.  He had early offers from Arkansas, North Carolina State and Indiana among others.

    Verbally committed to Oklahoma



Dennis Norfleet, Return Specialist, Martin Luther King H.S., Detroit, MI

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    Michigan received a commitment from Dennis Norfleet, a 4-star return specialist from Detroit King, late Tuesday night.

    "One of the most explosive players in the class," said Scout's Allen Trieu. "Norfleet has great acceleration (4.39 speed), open field elusiveness and a natural knack for making defenders miss."

    This fall, the 5'7", 165-pound Norfleet will compete for both return positions, before eventually playing some slot receiver and running back.

    Scout's No.19 rated running back in the nation, Norfleet de-committed from Cincinnati.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Willie Henry, Defensive Tackle, Glenville HS, Cleveland, OH

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    A late-comer to the recruiting process, Willie Henry hadn't made his way to Ann Arbor until last Saturday.

    With the Wolverines in short supply of defensive linemen, the 6'3" 275-pounder arrived just in time.

    Ranked as the 38th defensive tackle by scout.com, Henry will join former Cleveland Glenville teammate Frank Clark on the defensive unit.

    While he was offered by four Big East schools, Glenville coach Ted Ginn, Sr. thought he should get more attention.  

    “I don’t know why (people are just now talking about him)… I’ve been telling the world about him,” Ginn told scout.com. “Around here we are slow developing sometimes.  I think (as a junior) he played at times like (he played during his senior year), but they all mature a little bit more their senior year."

    The name Ted Ginn should be a familiar one to the Wolverines. Ted Ginn, Jr. was an All-American kick returner and receiver for Ohio State from 2004 through 2006 and his currently a return specialist for the San Francisco 49ers. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Armani Reeves, Cornerback, Catholic Memorial School, West Roxbury, MA

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    Before he took the Ohio State job Urban Meyer was often reputed to be the nation's top recruiter.

    Meyer proved it again Sunday night by landing Armani Reeves,  scout.com's sixth-ranked cornerback. 

    A first cousin of NBA star Charles Barkley, Reeves has all the tools, including 4.4 speed. 

    Reeves, who de-committed from Penn State last fall, had the Wolverines and Buckeyes as his final two choices. Ohio State apparently used high school teammate and Buckeye commit Camren Williams to reel in Reeves, who could see action as a freshman.

    Verbally committed to Ohio State

Blake Bars, Offensive Tackle, Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville, TN

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    From the list of offers, Blake Bars is hardly just a 3-star recruit. LSU, Florida, South Carolina and Notre Dame were just a few of the interested schools.

    One intangible could be his pedigree. Blake's father, Joe, played at Notre Dame. His brother, Brad, plays at Penn State. His grandfather, Joe, was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

    At 6'5", 275 lbs, Bars will play somewhere on the Wolverines offensive line. "Michigan wants me to play left tackle," Bars told Scout.com. "That's where they said they'd start me out and go from there."

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Ben Braden, Offensive Tackle, Rockford HS, Rockford, MI

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    One of many prospects snatched away from Michigan State, Braden is a well-rounded athlete who benefited from his ice hockey past.

    Ranked by Scout as the No. 40 offense tackle in the nation, Braden was one of seven Michigan recruits who made the Detroit Free Press Dream Team.

    At 6'6", 320 lbs, Braden has the size to play immediately but needs improvement on his pass blocking skills.

    Michigan's first 2012 commit, Braden was also offered by Syracuse and Wisconsin.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Jehu Chesson, Wide Receiver, Ladue Horton Watkins HS, Ladue, MO

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    Michigan continues to add height throughout the lineup.

    Jehu Chesson joins the Wolverines as a 6'3", 182-lb wide receiver. Ranked by Scout as the nation's No. 40 wide receiver, Chesson brings with him the reputation of an effective jump-ball artist, something of value considering Denard Robinson's fondness for throwing into traffic.

    Chesson, who completed his senior season with 53 receptions and six touchdowns, picked Michigan over Iowa and Northwestern.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Jeremy Clark, Safety, Madisonville North Hopkins HS, Madisonville, KY

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    Another solid safety candidate who has been largely ignored, Clark, who was offered by only one other Big Ten school (Illinois), has excellent speed (4.4) for a 6'4" frame.

    First committed as a grey shirt, Clark has now been awarded a full scholarship.

    While most would frown at a 6'4" cornerback, the 3-star recruit could at least be groomed as a possible nickel back.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Amara Darboh, Wide Receiver, Dowling HS, W Des Moines, IA

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    With the graduation of Junior Hemingway, Martavious Odoms and Kelvin Grady, it looked like there was room for a freshman receiver to get some early playing time. Now, with the unexpected dismissal of Darryl Stonum, the depth chart will be wide open. 

    At 6'2", 190 lbs, Amara Darboh will certainly have a chance to find a spot in the lineup. With 4.4 40 speed, and the ability to win 50-50 balls, Darboh should be quite an addition.

    Darboh, Scout's No. 32 wide receiver, was wrestled away from Kirk Ferentz and Mark Dantonio. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Devin Funchess, Tight End, Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, MI

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    When Brady Hoke arrived in Ann Arbor, the recruitment of Michigan and Ohio seemed to become his top priority. Positive results came early when Farmington Hills Harrison appeared on the radar.

    Harrison, Catholic Central and Cass Tech are three of Michigan's most respected high school football programs. Hoke has now left his footprint on each.

    Devin Funchess a 4-star Harrison tight end became a Wolverine last April before his teammate Mario Ojemudia committed in May.

    At 205 lbs, Funchess might need a red shirt year to grow into the tight end position, or he could play as a tweener receiver like Ricardo Miller who has ballooned from 205 lbs to 234 lbs. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Allen Gant, Safety, Sylvania Southview HS, Sylvania, OH

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    The son of former Michigan back Tony Gant, Allen could play both safety positions along with outside linebacker.

    Ranked by scout.com as the nation's No. 30 safety, Gant could even fill in as a wide receiver.

    The departure of Jim Tressel from Ohio State helped Gant commit to Michigan. Gant also helped bring DE commit Chris Wormley to Michigan.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Matt Godin, Defensive Tackle, Detroit Catholic Central HS, Novi, MI

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    Michigan's other defensive tackle commit is Detroit Catholic Central's Matt Godin, a 6'6", 265-pound Detroit Free Press Dream Team member.

    Godin is slightly undersized to play tackle in the Big Ten, but at 6'6", he could definitely add 15 pounds by the fall.

    Another academic whiz, Matt Godin was also offered by Duke, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin.

    Godin's high school team played in the state championship game but lost to Detroit Cass Tech.

    He was ranked by ESPN as the nation's No. 32 defensive tackle.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Sione Houma, Fullback, Highland HS. Salt Lake City, UT

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    In Rich Rodriguez' offense, the fullback rarely carried the football. The graduation of John McColgan leaves only one true fullback (Joe Kerridge) on the Michigan roster.

    Brady Hoke expects Houma to bring depth to the position where converted running back Stephen Hopkins will get most of the carries.

    Houma, a 5'11", 210-pounder, rushed for 1,211 yards before injuries curtailed his senior year.

    Ranked by ESPN as the No. 4 rated fullback, Houma has shown more versatility than the prototypical blocking back by regularly catching passes out of the backfield. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Royce Jenkins-Stone, Linebacker, Cass Tech HS, Detroit, MI

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    A member of Detroit Cass Tech's championship team, Jenkins-Stone has the ability to compete immediately at outside linebacker.

    Jenkins-Stone and fellow Michigan commit Terry Richardson bolstered a Cass Tech defense that allowed just 29 points in five playoff games.

    A U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant, Scout's No. 2 middle linebacker also played running back in high school.

    Jenkins-Stone and Richardson will play in the International Bowl Feb. 1 in Austin, Texas.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Drake Johnson, Running Back, Pioneer HS, Ann Arbor, MI

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    If he didn't play within 500 yards of the Big House, the Wolverines might have missed out on this talented running back. ESPN's analysis credits Johnson with good vision, the ability to shed tackles and enough talent to run inside and outside.

    He's rated no higher than an ESPN 2-star, but his 2,757 rushing yards suggest otherwise.

    At 6'0", 205 lbs, Johnson could be the big surprise of the 2012 class.

    A member of the Detroit Free Press Dream Team, Johnson was also a record-setting hurdler at Ann Arbor Pioneer.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Kyle Kalis, Offensive Tackle, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, OH

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    With Ohio State's NCAA problems at their peak last summer, Kyle Kalis de-committed from the Buckeyes and switched over to Michigan.

    It was another indication that Hoke was making inroads into Ohio, and the Buckeyes were suffering due to the investigation.

    Kalis, one of two 5-star Michigan recruits, might play offensive guard for the Wolverines.

    Offered by 21 schools including Alabama, Notre Dame and LSU, Kalis also stood out in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Erik Magnuson, Offensive Tackle, La Costa Canyon HS, Encinitas, CA

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    Some scouts foresee a red-shirt year for Magnuson, which isn't out of the ordinary for offensive linemen. The potential is unlimited, however, for the 4-star offensive tackle who's had a compelling set of offers.

    UCLA, Southern Cal, Boise State, Notre Dame, Miami and Oregon all had interest in Magnuson.

    Michigan's recruitment actually began unknowingly when Magnuson was recruited by San Diego State.

    "I met with the coaches when they offered at SDSU," Eric's dad told ESPN. "Brady Hoke was a down-to-earth guy."

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Mario Ojemudia, Defensive End, Harrison HS, Farmington Hills, MI

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    A second commit from Farmington Hills' Harrison, Ojemudia was also offered by Stanford, Michigan State and Iowa among others.

    Ojemudia projects as a defensive end, but as the Wolverines get bigger on defense he might gets reps at outside linebacker.

    The book on Ojemudia speaks mainly of his past rushing prowess.  Ranked by ESPN as the nation's No. 23 defensive back,  the 6'2", 220-pounder recorded 127 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Ondre Pipkins, Defensive Tackle, Park City HS, Kansas City, MO

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    With the loss of Mike Martin, Will Heininger and Ryan Van Bergen, Ondre Pipkins' arrival might be just in time. It's just a question of which defensive tackle position he plays. One look at his 6'3", 320-lb. frame and he probably could anchor the line all by himself.

    All kidding aside, he'll definitely make like easier for the Wolverines' other tackle, whether it be Will Campbell or Quinton Washington.

    Also offered by Florida, Ohio State, Alabama and Southern Cal, the 5-star commit is destined to be a star in the not too distant future.

    Pipkins is Scout's No. 7 ranked defensive tackle in the nation. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Terry Richardson, Cornerback, Cass Tech HS, Detroit, MI

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    Terry Richardson comes from a long line of Cass Tech recruits who have played at Michigan. This squad of Technicians was special, however, because they won their first state championship.

    Don't let his 5'9" frame fool you, Richardson was also offered by LSU, Alabama and Southern Cal.

    Rated the 14th best cornerback by scout.com, Richardson could be Michigan's next lockdown corner opposite Blake Countess.

    "Excellent competitor with a lot of moxie," writes ESPN.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

James Ross, Linebacker, St. Mary Prep School, Orchard Lake, MI

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    At 6'1", 215 lbs., James Ross may be looking at a promising career at outside linebacker.

    Currently ranked as the No. 7 outside linebacker in the nation, Ross will be a part of Michigan's best stocked position.

    A member of the Detroit Free Press Dream Team, Ross helped Orchard Lake St. Mary win a state championship. Ross was also a participant in the U.S. Army All-American game. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Tom Strobel, Defensive End, Mentor HS, Mentor, OH

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    Offered by Stanford, Northwestern and Vanderbilt, the 6'5" 260-pound defensive end shouldn't have trouble academically.

    Strobel is another Ohioan who escaped the Buckeyes' grasp.

    Ranked by Scout.com as the No. 12 defensive end in the nation, Strobel recorded 80 tackles as a senior including 15 sacks. Strobel has also been actively recruiting tight end Sam Grant and offensive lineman Alex Kozan.

    Verbally committed to Michigan

A.J. Williams, Tight End, Sycamore HS, Cincinnati OH

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    Williams will arrive in Ann Arbor as a 265-pound tight end and will be perfect for those two tight end alignments.

    There is always the possibility ESPN's No. 36 rated tight end could move to guard or tackle, but he has more than adequate pass catching skills. 

    Of course, Michigan is rather thin at the tight end position and Williams could provide some instant depth. 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Chris Wormley , Defensive End, Whitmer HS, Toledo OH

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    Chris Wormley is another Wolverine signee who was offered by the Buckeyes.

    A 4-star defensive end from Toledo, Wormley could possibly grow into a defensive tackle. There's a good chance he arrives in Ann Arbor close to 270 pounds.

    Partially due to the tattoo-gate scandal, Michigan began to assemble a group of close-knit Ohio athletes. Kaleb Ringer was the first to commit last April, and the parade continued.

    “(Kyle) Kalis, (Tom) Strobel and (Kaleb) Ringer… I talked to all three of them pretty much on a weekly basis,” Wormley told scout.com.  “We were all clowning around and having fun together.  I think we started our team bonding type thing.” 

    Verbally committed to Michigan

Joe Bolden, Linebacker, Colerain HS, Cincinnati, OH

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    Already the size of SAM linebacker Jake Ryan (6'3", 230-lbs), Joe Bolden took a large step toward proving he belonged on the collegiate level with a noteworthy performance at the Under Armour game. 

    An early enrollee, Bolden should compete for playing time at one of the outside linebacker positions this fall. 

    "I'm going there early to get bigger, faster and stronger," Bolden told Scout.com, "so I can get on the field as soon as I can. I don't want to take a year off." 

    Ranked by Scout as the nation's No. 4 outside linebacker, Bolden could easily grow into the role of a middle linebacker.

    Signed letter of intent and enrolled at Michigan 

Kaleb Ringer, Linebacker, Northmont HS, Clayton, OH

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    Kaleb Ringer's dad Kevin and Michigan defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery both played their college football at Iowa. The two former Hawkeyes reminisced during Kaleb's visit to Ann Arbor, and Kaleb naturally became sold on Michigan. Ringer, ESPN's the 23rd rated inside linebacker,  enrolled early.    

    "There are a lot of big-time names going to Michigan in my grade," Ringer told ESPN. "Everyone is competing there. On the field, I wanted to get the edge on the other commits and the other players at Michigan right now. It's not the right move for everyone, but it was for me."

    Ringer, who is the nephew of former Michigan State running back Javon Ringer, was also offered by Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

    Signed letter of intent. Enrolled at Michigan

Jarrod Wilson, Safety, Buchtel HS, Akron, OH

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    An early enrollee from Akron, Ohio, Jarrod Wilson has the skills to be a coverage-first free safety and a run-support strong safety. In his final season at Buchtel High School, Wilson was credited with 60 tackles and 12 interceptions. 

    Wilson could use spring practice to work at both safety positions. With a productive spring, he would challenge Josh Furman and Marvin Robinson for playing time.

    Wilson, rated a 4-star recruit by Scout.com, was offered by 14 schools, including Stanford, Notre Dame and Michigan State.

    Signed letter of intent and enrolled at Michigan