Michigan Football: Watson Snub, St. Louis Connection Impact 2014-15 Recruiting

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIMay 20, 2013

Losing Kyron Watson could have a domino effect on Michigan Wolverines coach Brady Hoke’s future recruiting plans.

And a lot of that could potentially hinge on a St. Louis-area connection and what Watson, a 3-star-rated linebacker out of East St. Louis High (Ill.), has to say about why he chose Kansas over Michigan.

Harsh words could spread like wildfire to other recruits. A positive report could help open the door for other talent to make its way to Ann Arbor.

As Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com recently reported (subscription required), Watson has quite the history with 2014 Wolverines target Adoree’ Jackson, a 5-star-rated corner out of Junipero Serra High (Gardena, Calif.). Jackson grew up near East St. Louis in Belleville, just a few miles from Watson’s home, and is a close friend of Watson’s.

Now that we’ve covered those bases, we’ll get into the who, what, where and why of the whole St. Louis push that could produce up to three signees (2014 and 2015).


Who is Dwight Williams—and How Does He Fit With Michigan?

Dwight Williams has become a person of interest for Wolverines tight end coach Dan Ferrigno, who is also recruiting Jackson, a teammate of Williams at Junipero Serra, per 247Sports.com.

A 6’1”, 205-pound, 4-star-rated outside linebacker, Williams is the type of player that Wolverines defensive coordinator Greg Mattison could most definitely find a use for during the coming years.

Williams is the No. 5 OLB, according to Rivals, and the No. 7 OLB of the 2014 class, according to 247Sports.com.

Now, think of this: If Jackson gets negative feedback about Michigan from Watson, he would only be doing his friendly duty by letting Williams know about it, making Williams a suitor or casualty of the St. Louis-Watson relationship.

Ferrigno flipped Drake Harris to Michigan from Michigan State. Jackson is a heavy USC-lean, according to his 247Sports profile—matter of fact, the profile states that Jackson has a likelihood of 92 percent of committing to USC and an eight percent chance of giving a pledge to Florida.

Ferrigno may have the most challenging undertaking of any Wolverines recruiter during this phase of the game. He’s already shown the ability to sell the Michigan brand to a kid who’s bound and determined to attend another school. A healthy dose of why-you-should-choose-Michigan could reset the table for Jackson.


Introducing Terry Beckner Jr.

Terry Beckner Jr., an unrated 2015 defensive end, is a teammate of Watson’s at East St. Louis, and the same scenario applies in his case.

And since he’s presumably around Watson on at least a somewhat regular basis, stories about why Watson backed down from Michigan and chose Kansas could play a bigger role in his recruitment than in the case of Jackson and Williams.

At 6’4” and 260 pounds, Williams is similar in size to 2014 prize strong-side defensive end Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge (Va.), another sought-after Wolverines target. Should Michigan miss the boat on Hand, going after Beckner may be the next step. In fact, Beckner could be the backup plan. That’s not entirely clear at the moment, but it’s a logical connection.


The Twists and Turns

The aforementioned connection between Jackson, Williams, Watson and Beckner isn’t new. For years, recruits have communicated with one another, influencing decisions along the way. Winners want to play with winners, and as 2014 linebacker commit Michael Ferns showed with “Project 135,” internal recruiting is becoming all the more popular.

Ferns helped get 4-star offensive lineman Mason Cole (East Lake High, Tarpon Springs, Fla.) to choose the Maize and Blue. Derrick Green, a 2013 prize running back, was also subject to internal efforts via Cass Tech superstar David Dawson.

With social media at its peak, all it takes is a direct message, tweet-at or a line dropped on Facebook for these guys to get together behind the scenes and make things happen. Hoke is battling other coaches for the top players, but he also contends with technology. Making sure each and every recruit has a proper visit to Ann Arbor becomes increasingly important each step of the way. All it takes is a tweet or Facebook status for a prospect to express his joy or displeasure.

The St. Louis effect will impact Michigan at two key positions—linebacker and defensive end. The offensive line will probably be the bread and butter of Michigan’s success this year, but a developing defense always has something to do when it comes to championship runs, whether they’re conference or national title tilts.

Getting Jackson could be the deal-sealer in this situation. But first securing the pair of East St. Louis standouts—Williams and Beckner—could be the road less traveled and backdoor to Jackson’s commitment.

Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81


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