Michigan Football: Recruits Dish on Wolverines BBQ at Big House Visit

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystAugust 3, 2015

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh walks the field between downs during the NCAA college football team's spring game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, April 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Tony Ding/Associated Press

The new Michigan Wolverines coaching regime enjoyed its first opportunity to host the "Barbecue at the Big House," an annual summer recruiting event dating back to Rich Rodriguez's tenure. 

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff welcomed several premier prospects from various recruiting classes August 2. The guest list in Ann Arbor included 4-star commits Brandon Peters (quarterback), Ben Bredeson (offensive tackle), Ron Johnson (defensive end) and Matthew Falcon (running back).

"It was a pretty great experience to spend that time together on campus in person," Falcon told Bleacher Report. "It was an opportunity to check out the school and football facilities we'll be sharing for four years. It was also a chance to get to learn a little bit more about everybody's backgrounds."

The day provided pledges and uncommitted Wolverines targets a chance to explore campus in detail. An expansive collection of athletes were split into groups and sent on "quests" based on clues that led them to various educational buildings and school landmarks.

"It showed us the non-football aspects of the university, which is huge because we're not just going up there to play football," Falcon said. "We got to see a different side of [the] university, including athletes and students who've gone on to do big things after Michigan. It's all important stuff to know since this is where a lot of us will be living for a while."

Some groups stuck to the basics, such as the library and dining hall:

Others were a bit more exploratory during the process, particularly a group led by Harbaugh himself. 

"Coach Harbaugh's group crashed a wedding, so that was pretty funny," Falcon said.

Fortunately, Peters caught this fantastic development on his camera:

While prospects like Peters and Falcon were already quite familiar with Ann Arbor, promising 2019 Detroit linebacker/defensive end Tyrece Woods Jr. caught his first glimpse of campus life.

"My first impression was great. I liked everything about it, and I plan to get back to Michigan very soon," Woods said.

He asserted that regardless of age, Harbaugh makes it a point to make recruits in each class feel welcome.

"Coach Harbaugh does a really good job trying to make a connection with every recruit he wants to bring into the program now and in the future," Woods said. "A lot of the older players who were there told me they had a stronger relationship with this coaching staff than when Brady Hoke was there."

For established Wolverines targets, Sunday was more about confirming earlier feelings rather than searching for new developments in Ann Arbor.

"This was a solidifying thing for me. I'm very confident in my commitment," Falcon said.

Michigan has surged to eighth overall in 2016 composite class rankings, further enhanced by a Sunday commitment from Maryland defensive back Sir Patrick Scott.

The Wolverines are one of just a few programs with enough possible pledges out there to challenge for a top-ranked recruiting class. Falcon said a pair of coveted targets were on campus Sunday.

"We're focusing on [wide receiver] Donnie Corley and [cornerback] Lavert Hill right now," he said. "I think Lavert is close, but neither of those guys have said anything yet. Those are definitely a couple players we want on the squad."

Hill committed to Penn State early this year, while Corley was previously viewed as a Michigan State lean.

“I had a great time,” Corley told David Goricki of the Detroit News. “I got there in the morning and had a chance to talk to recruits and their parents, then build relationships with the coaches. Coach Harbaugh is very energetic."

WR Donnie Corley is a key remaining target for the Wolverines' 2016 class.
WR Donnie Corley is a key remaining target for the Wolverines' 2016 class.Credit: 247Sports

New Jersey wide receiver/defensive back Ahmir Mitchell, who is expected to choose either Ohio State or Michigan, was also on campus.

Following his latest trip to Ann Arbor, Mitchell told Bleacher Report his decision date is "coming soon."

Another Wolverines target in attendance was 2017 safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell. The Detroit standout expressed excitement in Michigan's direction.

"Things are changing a lot there," he said. "Coach Harbaugh is creating a new culture to get everything on track and make Michigan a top dog again. He does a phenomenal job getting recruits to believe in those goals."

His Sunday experience included expansive time spent with secondary coach Michael Zordich, along with peers.

"It was a family atmosphere at the barbecue," Kelly-Powell continued. "We got to catch up with players and coaches we already knew and meet new people at the same time. I think everyone definitely enjoyed it."

Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake. 

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