Michigan has made great strides in not only landing in the top five of the 247Sports.com composite team recruiting rankings but also shooting for the top spot ahead of Ohio State.
The Wolverines have a chance to land a few other top-ranked commits, Los Angeles 4-star cornerback David Long Jr. being one of them. The nation's No. 7 cornerback and No. 65 overall player in the 2016 class, Long decommitted from Stanford on Friday and told Bleacher Report that Michigan and Washington were the two schools currently in front as he's reopened his process.
"I like the way their defense plays, in addition to all the NFL experience they have on staff," Long said about Michigan. "Not to mention, [head coach Jim] Harbaugh is one of the best coaches around. On top of that, the tradition at U-M of big-time football is only getting better with him running things.
"Meanwhile, while having great football, the academic aspect is just as good. It's a good balance of school, sports and social. Also, I have family in Detroit."
Michigan is in a good place to land Long, but Washington has just as much of a chance in this process. Additionally, the Huskies will have Long's final official visit the weekend of Jan. 15, which could serve as an advantage.
"[Defensive backs] Coach [Jimmy] Lake is developing corners up there," Long said. "[It] doesn't matter if you're a 2- or 5-star, he will get you better. I enjoy the city of Seattle, in addition to the way they conduct themselves as a staff. It's truly about the players' best interest. Also, they're really young and are going to begin to turn some things around soon.
"Not to mention, Seattle is a city that's up and coming with all the Fortune 500 companies around, and it's one of the top cities in America for jobs after college."
Long said he plans on making a decision sometime before the Feb. 3 signing day.
UCLA one to watch for Texas QB Starkel
Argyle, Texas 3-star quarterback Nick Starkel, the top-ranked uncommitted pro-style quarterback in the 2016 class, has been a topic of discussion since decommitting from Oklahoma State last week. Teams are making 11th-hour efforts in trying to land the Elite 11 finalist and Blue-Grey All-American.
One team to keep an eye on is UCLA. The Bruins offered Starkel, who started for the West team and helped defeat the East, 21-14, in Sunday's Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Bruins offered Tuesday and have been steady in recruiting the 6'3 ½", 186-pound quarterback.
"I like it. I think it's a great program with a really good coaching staff," Starkel said of UCLA. "Right now, it's fair game for everyone. No school is too big or too small, but I like UCLA a lot."
Starkel added that he also likes Texas A&M and LSU. He's been speaking with both schools, and while he has an offer from the Aggies, he believes an offer from the Tigers isn't far off.
UCLA, however, is hoping to end Starkel's recruiting next month. Starkel said he is taking an official to UCLA the weekend of Jan. 15. He added that he's looking to make a final decision sometime shortly afterward.
"It's been a little stressing, but I feel good about it all," he said. "Recruiting's picking up really fast; a lot of schools are hitting me left and right. I'm just going to wait and make sure I make the right decision."
After Daniels, more defensive help coming for OU?
With Euless, Texas, 4-star defensive tackle Chris Daniels giving his verbal commitment to Oklahoma last Friday, the Sooners' 2016 recruiting class got a much-needed jolt. Don't be surprised if things continue to trend upward for Oklahoma recruiting—particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Oklahoma in previous years has been a program to start slow and finish fast with recruiting. Daniels is the 14th commit of the class, but head coach Bob Stoops and Co. have their goals set on landing a few more standouts before national signing day.
Among the defensive targets highly interested in the Sooners are the California 5-star linebacker duo of Mique Juarez and Caleb Kelly. Others interested include 4-star defensive ends Brandon Bowen and Amani Bledsoe and 3-star defensive tackle Elysee Mbem-Bosse, who recently announced Oklahoma as one of his final five teams.
New Jersey ATH, former BC pledge reopens recruiting
Jersey City, New Jersey, 3-star athlete K.J. Gray called it a "business decision."
Monday morning, Gray announced on social media that he has decommitted from Boston College and will be exploring other offers. A 6'2", 195-pound athlete who can play cornerback and wide receiver, Gray has offers from Rutgers, UConn, UMass, Iowa, Syracuse and others.
Gray added that defensive coordinator Don Brown leaving to accept the same position at Michigan also played a big role in his decision to reopen his process.
"I decommitted because I did want to take more visits. At first, [Boston College] wasn't going to let me take visits," Gray said. "Plus, Coach Brown was a good recruiter for me. once he departed, I wanted to see what else was out there."
Gray said that although he hasn't received an offer from Michigan, he would entertain the idea of playing for the Wolverines. Gray also has interest in Maryland, as he attended the Terrapins junior day earlier this year.
"I want to look for a school with both athletics and academics," he said. "I want a coaching staff that cares about me and my family, as well. I'm just taking everything slow and seeing all my options."
Sleeper alert: Louisiana LB has great name, great game
Lafayette, Louisiana, linebacker James Brown wants to prove that the name is more than just a reference to the late, great "Godfather of Soul."
Brown showed his worth at Saturday's Blue-Grey All-American Bowl, making play after play and ultimately winding up with the game's defensive MVP award. At 6'1" and 225 pounds, Brown is a middle linebacker who loves to hit and could be a dynamic sleeper for the right program.
He is still looking for his first offer but has received interest from Oklahoma State, Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alcorn State and hometown school Louisiana-Lafayette. Last year, Brown recorded 74 tackles and forced seven fumbles, according to the Advocate.
Brown on Monday said he had 97 tackles and 12 forced fumbles during his senior season. He also had three fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles