The Wolverine

February 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  football recruiting   football recruiting Sprint To The Finish T By Tim Sullivan here's an old saying that is common in recruiting circles: "Recruiting is a marathon, not a sprint." Miss on a highly ranked player early in the process? You can make up for it later by focusing on others and closing with another prospect at that position. U-M missed out with's No. 1 overall prospect in 2014, Woodbridge (Va.) High defensive end Da'Shawn Hand. Fortunately, the Maize and Blue started strong with commitments from other top players, including Paramus (N.J.) Catholic cornerback Jabrill Peppers (just two spots behind Hand in the nation), so the loss hurts but does not cripple the program. In fact, despite missing on Hand, Michigan's early success in the recruiting process gave the Wolverines' coaches the ability to treat the final month of the 2014 cycle — which ends Feb. 5, the traditional first Wednesday in February timing of National Signing Day — more like a sprint than almost every other program in the country. U-M's strategy is admittedly a little different. While programs like Alabama and LSU are still trying to chase a half-dozen four-stars from the Southeast leading up to National Signing Day, Michigan did the heavy lifting early in the process, and is looking only at a few remaining prospects. Minneapolis native and Minnesota commitment Jeff Jones,'s No. 7 running back and No. 44 overall player in the country, plans to visit Michigan at the end of January. photo courtesy The Wolverines' recruiting class consists of 16 commits, and projects to be one of the nation's smallest signing groups. As of Jan. 21, Michigan's class was ranked No. 25 in the nation, and though the small numbers will prevent it from reaching the national top 10 come Feb. 5, on a percommit basis, it should end up being very impressive. Southfield (Mich.) High defensive end Malik McDowell is the 2014 prospect that U-M fans have known about the longest. When he first popped onto the radar more than two years ago, he was a quick, strong 6-5,

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