The Wolverine

October 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 45 of 75

46 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2016 BY BRANDON BROWN F rom late August to mid-September, Michigan lost five commitments and the Wolverine fan base, along with the media, started to express concern for what was happening inside the re- cruiting offices at Schembechler Hall. Maintaining a commitment from a talented prospect prior to his senior year in high school can be a challenge, especially if the college he picks is not his childhood dream school. The players generally were just beginning their recruiting process when they an- nounced for a school. Those advising the player — coaches, parents and other family members — often want him to be sure about his decision and evalu- ate+- all his options. Other offers come in that were not on the table when the choice was made, and the player realizes he is missing out on being recruited — taking official visits, having college coaches court him and making his decision in a public venue. In some cases, the situation at a school may have changed and the player no longer is a good fit. A combination of those factors and other situations have played a part in each of Michigan's decommitments. Springfield (Ohio) High four-star tight end Leonard Taylor committed to Michigan while in Ann Arbor for the spring game in early April only to reopen his recruitment in August.'s No. 6 tight end and No. 118 overall prospect in the 2018 class seemed to be enamored by Ohio State even while committed to U-M, and now appears very likely to end up a Buckeye if OSU will take him. Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County four-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon fol- lowed in Taylor's footsteps later on the same day and is the biggest loss of the group. The 6-4, 287-pounder is the No. 4 defensive tackle and the No. 94 overall player in the country for the 2017 class according to When Solomon committed to U-M, it surprised a lot of people and looked like a major coup for Jim Harbaugh and his staff because of his location and impressive collection of offers, which included Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss and Ohio State. Now that he's back on the market, the in-state Bulldogs seem to be in the pole position and Michigan likely won't factor in his final decision. Solomon's decommitment came with a bit more controversy than the rest of the group. He received a let- ter from the Michigan recruiting staff thanking him for attending the BBQ at The Big House in early August. There was just one problem with that — Solomon wasn't at the BBQ. Coupled with the fact that both his and his mother 's name were spelled incor- rectly on the envelope, and Solomon simply didn't feel the love he thought he deserved from Michigan's staff. Just a day later, another Georgia product, this time in the 2018 class, decided that he'd rather have a look around than stay committed to U-M. Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson four-star offensive guard Jalil Irvin announced via Twitter that he was decommitting from Michigan. Irvin, the No. 5 guard and No. 141 overall prospect in the junior class ac- cording to, is originally from the Great Lakes State and has a lot of family in the Detroit area making his decommitment much more of a sur- prise than that of Solomon and Taylor. The 6-4, 265-pounder said he still plans to consider Michigan moving forward, but it's rare that a once- committed prospect joins back up with his former school. For about two weeks the bleeding stopped, but then on Sept. 9, Michigan lost two more verbal commitments. From the 2018 class, Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar three-star inside linebacker Antwuan Johnson backed away from his commitment to U-M. A few hours later, Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice senior three-star tight end Carter Dunaway did the same. Both decommitments came as a bit of a surprise. Johnson, a former team- mate of Taylor, had recently said that he wasn't surprised that his friend opened his recruitment back up and that he wasn't feeling anywhere close to doing the same. Dunaway, the son of former Wolverine Craig Dunaway and brother of current U-M walk-on Jack Dunaway, also seemed to be as solid as can be throughout his process. After the initial surprise of the decommitments wore off, it looked more like neither Johnson nor Du- naway were truly priorities for the U-M staff in their respective classes, which ultimately led them to look at other options. LET'S LOOK BACK Losing recruits is never a good feeling for fans or others who follow the process, but it does not mean that the sky is falling. Look at Michigan's 2016 class for example. A few prospects — Wayne (Ohio) High four-star pro-style quarter- back Messiah deWeaver, Southfield (Mich.) High three-star running back Matt Falcon and Downers Grove (Ill.) Downers Grove South four-star of- fensive tackle Erik Swenson — were still clinging to their commitments they gave under Brady Hoke when Harbaugh was ultimately hired.   FOOTBALL RECRUITING A Flurry Of Decommitments Should Not Be A Cause For Concern Springfield (Ohio) High four-star Leonard Taylor —'s No. 6 tight end in the 2018 class — was the first of five recruits to back off their original U-M pledges during a stretch from late August to mid-September. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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