Michigan Football Recruiting: Updates for 2014 Class
With 15 commitments already in the fold for its 2014 recruiting class, the Michigan football team is looking to put the finishing touches on its upcoming haul.
The Wolverines boast the nation's No. 16-ranked class, but landing their top three targets would see their ranking rise exponentially.
Several players who have given their verbal pledge to head coach Brady Hoke have been enjoying impressive senior seasons in high school and prep school. Updates on those prospects are sure to have the Maize and Blue faithful smiling.
Also, a new position is being recruited for the third and final spot in next year's crop. It may result in some new offers from Hoke and Michigan in the near future.
Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell
There is not a whole lot to report about the Wolverines' top two targets for their 2014 class. Defensive linemen Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell tend to keep quiet about their respective recruitment plans.
Hand took an official visit to Alabama over the weekend, which went very well. That wasn't surprising considering the fact that all schools roll out the red carpets for coveted prospects.
The nation's No. 1 overall prospect should still wind up at Michigan when all is said and done, though. Academics, comfort with the coaching staff and with his surroundings appear to be the determining factors for Hand. The Wolverines have a leg up on the Crimson Tide in the first two departments, while the latter consideration should be just about even.
Hand was impressed, to say the least, with Michigan's sports marketing program, so unless he decides on going into engineering, Alabama is pretty much a non-factor.
"Before, it was recruit, recruit, recruit. Now you're in my top three, so I want to get to know (the coaches) as a person," Hand told Mike Farrell of Rivals.com. "And then to see if I can live there."
The 6'4", 248-pounder will officially visit Florida on Nov. 9 and end the recruiting process on Nov. 14. Since Hand has never made a visit to Gainesville, Fla., the Gators are a wild card and the Wolverines' biggest threat.
As for McDowell, there has been a change of plans for his official trips. The 4-star end will visit Alabama, LSU and Florida after his high school season concludes, but his remaining other two visits are up in the air right now.
"(In addition to Florida, LSU, and Alabama), I don't really have a last two visits planned," McDowell informed Tim Sullivan of TheWolverine.com. "I might save the last two for (Michigan and Michigan State), but I might go out of state, I don't really know."
The Detroit native is tentatively set to decide at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, although things could change as the date draws closer. Michigan is still in very good shape with McDowell, however, it will face strong competition this winter.
Still on the Board
Outside of Malik McDowell and Da'Shawn Hand, there is one spot remaining for Michigan's 2014 recruiting haul. It originally appeared that the final scholarship would go to a defensive back, preferably a safety. Now it appears that Michigan's coaching staff will continue pursuing running backs down the stretch as well.
The top targets at safety are 4-stars John "Juju" Smith and Steven Parker. Smith is set to make an official trip to Ann Arbor for the Ohio State game while Parker will either join him or see the Wolverines face Nebraska. Once those visits are completed, there should be a better indication as to where Michigan falls in the pecking order.
Marshon Lattimore is still being pursued, too, with Ohio State very difficult for Michigan to beat for his services.
Meanwhile, Kalen Ballage and current Minnesota commit Jeff Jones are the names to keep an ear out for, as far as running backs go. The staff may choose to offer new players at the position, but for now, those are the prospects to watch.
Commitments Starring as Seniors
Several Michigan commitments have looked very impressive in their respective senior seasons. The most notable stars have been cornerback Jabrill Peppers, wide receiver Maurice Ways and quarterback Wilton Speight.
Peppers has 620 yards of total offense, seven touchdowns and has made 27 tackles on defense for Paramus (N.J.) Catholic High School. Those offensive numbers may not seem astronomical, but the nation's No. 2 overall prospect is averaging around eight yards per rush and 14 yards per reception. Basically, when the ball is in his hands, he is a game-changer.
Speight has thrown for 1,572 yards and 20 touchdowns for Collegiate School in Richmond, Va., this season. Ways' performance has been the most surprising, though. The 3-star prospect has tallied 31 receptions for 667 yards and six touchdowns for Detroit Country Day.
Linebackers Chase Winovich and Noah Furbush have been dominant in their final high school campaigns, too. The former has 57 tackles, 10 sacks and six forced fumbles while the latter has 76 tackles, including 16 for loss, and two fumble recoveries.
Pre-collegiate accolades will mean nothing once these recruits get to Ann Arbor, although their numbers are nothing to scoff at this fall.