Michigan has made Josh Rosen's list of finalists, but the Wolverines will face stiff competition when he weighs his options leading up to a March 20 commitment ceremony. The 5-star Southern California quarterback told 247Sports writer Ryan Bartow he is considering at least three—and perhaps four—programs as the clock ticks toward a decision.
"My finalists are Cal, Michigan, UCLA and maybe Stanford," Rosen said.
Stanford is on the fringe for a sensible reason. Despite his status as one of California's marquee 2015 recruits, coach David Shaw and the Cardinal have yet to extend a scholarship offer.
His other three suitors have invested serious resources into the recruitment, including consistent contact.
"UCLA and Cal hit me up every week, Michigan too," he said.
Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke has to be happy about the fact Ann Arbor is the only place Rosen would consider beyond his state borders. He crossed off several intriguing options from an expansive offer sheet that features Florida State, Tennessee, Washington and Texas.
Still, having your team hat at a prospect's announcement doesn't mean a thing if he is lighting up the scoreboard for another program in the future. The 6'4", 205-pound passer is viewed as the kind of talent who can step in and compete for the starting job early in his career.
Make no mistake about it: Michigan is an underdog in this race.
The Wolverines extended an offer last May shortly after he was visited by members of Michigan's coaching staff. New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier spent the past two seasons coaching Heisman contender A.J. McCarron at Alabama and added an interesting dynamic to the mix in January.
Rosen unveiled his previous top four options in October, when Michigan was nowhere to be found.
"My top schools are California, Stanford, UCLA and USC," Rosen told Scout.com writer Hayley Elwood at the time (subscription required).
The Wolverines have made strides since then and now enter this final stretch firmly in place as a possible choice.
Rosen clearly understands how the team views him, but he hasn't visited campus, and that could be an indication of his desire to remain on the west coast.
Rosen has already established his star power in California. As a junior, he led St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower) to a state championship.
His gaudy statistics included 3,200 passing yards and 39 touchdowns. Rosen will enter his senior season as a proven leader for a perennial powerhouse program.
Rated the nation's No. 1 pro-style quarterback in 247Sports' composite rankings, his collegiate options are plentiful.
Cal earned a spot among his top choices despite a disastrous start to the Sonny Dykes era. The Golden Bears were winless against FBS opponents and finished the season 1-11.
Still, the team likes to sling the ball downfield on offense, and that's appealing to any quarterback. Cal ranked 10th nationally in passing yards per game (331) with true freshman Jared Goff behind center.
UCLA is an obvious frontrunner. There is an established relationship between Rosen and the Bruins, who will likely have an opening at quarterback next season if redshirt junior Brett Hundley heads to the NFL.
"Coach (Jim Mora Jr.) is a great guy, he's an awesome coach and he's had plenty of success," Rosen told 247Sports. "The offense they run is similar (to my high school offense) and the school is fantastic."
A commitment to UCLA would set the stage for a highly anticipated rivalry between star Southern California quarterback prospects. Ricky Town (Ventura) is rated No. 2 among pro-style passers and flipped his commitment from Alabama to USC in January.
Stanford remains in the mix despite a lack of commitment on the Cardinal's end. However, the fact that Rosen is ready to announce his decision sends a strong signal that he'll only compete in Palo Alto, Calif., as a visiting player.
That leaves Michigan, a squad still in search of its quarterback for the future. The Wolverines have also reached out to Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville, Texas), Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif.) and David Sills (Elkton, Md.).
Stidham committed to Texas Tech earlier this month, while Barnett pledged to Notre Dame in November. Sills offered his commitment to former USC coach Lane Kiffin in 2010, but is exploring other options with a new regime in place and Town on board.
Sills, a 3-star prospect, is scheduled to visit Michigan later this week, according to MLive.com.
The 2015 recruiting cycle has been a roller coaster for Hoke and company, who could use some positive developments. The Wolverines lost commitments from 5-star athlete George Campbell and 5-star running back Damien Harris during the winter.
Michigan would certainly regain momentum with a pledge from Rosen, but with UCLA and Cal in dogged pursuit, it's an uphill battle. Throw in the fact that he's never set foot on Michigan's campus, and the idea of Rosen in maize and blue seems outright far-fetched.
Michigan's Odds of Landing Rosen: 12:1
Prospect ratings and information courtesy of 247Sports.com unless otherwise noted.