The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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NOVEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 61   MICHIGAN RECRUITING the No. 81 overall player in the na- tion for the 2018 class and is looked at more as a receiving tight end at this point in his development. More and more Polynesians are becoming realistic targets for Michi- gan, and Gaoteote is another. As the No. 49 overall prospect in the 2018 class, the 6-2, 210-pounder is one of U-M's top linebacker targets in the entire country. He has a good bond with Michigan director of player per- sonnel Tony Tuioti and should be viewed a legitimate candidate to end up in Michigan's class. The following day, Harbaugh made a stop in Los Angeles for the game between Augustus Hawkins High and Dorsey High, which fea- tured two of Michigan's top over- all targets in the next two classes. Five-star wide receiver Jalen Hall of Hawkins is the No. 2 overall player in the 2018 class, and weakside de- fensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux of Dorsey has a real shot at being a five- star prospect in the 2019 class. Both of them hold Michigan of- fers and have said very good things about U-M in the past. Hall has been to Ann Arbor and loves the idea of playing for a coach- ing staff with such a strong NFL ped- igree. The 6-3, 182-pounder is go- ing to be in the discussion as the top overall prospect in the 2018 class and holds offers from virtually everyone including both local programs, USC and UCLA. I t ' s a s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n f o r Thibodeaux who could also be looked at as a candidate for the top overall spot in his class. The 6-5, 220-pounder also holds offers from both USC and UCLA, along with many other programs around the nation. He's very serious as a stu- dent and carries a 4.0 GPA. He hopes to study law and is very aware of Michigan's prowess in that area. Heading north from L.A., Har- baugh got a chance to stop in and see the nation's top overall prospect in Antioch High five-star running back Najee Harris perform in an Oct. 14 contest against Liberty. The 6-2, 222-pounder is an Alabama commit, but is giving Michigan a serious look and plans to take an official visit to Ann Arbor later this year. His bond with running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley and tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh could prove fruitful if things continue to trend in a posi- tive direction for U-M. Harbaugh wasn't the only coach from Michigan's staff on the road during the bye week. All of the as- sistants also headed out around the country to check in on some of U-M's top targets. Passing game coordinator Jedd Fisch and Jay Harbaugh were in on some of the California stops with their boss. Both Fisch and Jay were also in Littleton, Colo., to check on three-star athlete and Virginia Tech commit Dalton Keene. The 6-4, 220-pounder, the No. 5-ranked player in Colorado, is being re- cruited by Michigan as a tight end. Michigan offensive line coach Tim Drevno dropped in on five-star of- fensive tackle Jedrick Wills down in Lexington, Ky., as well as Mich- igan commit and offensive tackle Kai-Leon Herbert in Plantation, Fla. Herbert's teammate and fellow four-star senior offensive tackle Te- darrell Slaton was also part of Drev- no's observations. Drevno's counterpart, defensive line coach Greg Mattison swung through Kennedale, Texas, to get a look at five-star outside linebacker Baron Browning. The nation's No. 4 overall prospect was just in Ann Ar- bor for an official visit for the Wis- consin game and is still giving U-M a significant look. Michigan's linebackers coach Chris Partridge has been instru- mental in U-M's success in New Jersey, but during the bye week he was assigned to North Carolina na- tive Brelin Faison-Walden. The 6-1, 200-pound four-star outside line- backer from Greensboro Grimsley High is currently committed to Penn State, but after an official visit to Michigan for the Wisconsin game he has been identified as a top target. Finally, running backs coach Ty- rone Wheatley went north and south to see a couple of top targets. Lin- denhurst (N.Y.) Senior High, home of 2018 four-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert, and Clinton (Miss.) High, the school of 2017 five-star running back Cam Akers, both played host to Wheatley. Ruckert, a 6-6, 215-pound wide receiver/tight end hybrid is considered the No. 133 overall pros- pect nationally in his class, while Akers, a 5-11, 211-pound running back, is No. 12 in the country among seniors. All of the visits were observational in nature resulting in the coaches either watching practice, workouts or games if the schedules aligned. It may have been a low-key bye week for the players on Michigan's ros- ter, but the coaches were grinding as usual. ❏ On The Web For regular reports on Michigan football recruiting plus videos of U-M commitments and targets visit 2017 Michigan Commitment List Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School) AJ Dillon RB 6-0 228 Groton, Mass. (Lawrence Academy) Ja'Raymond Hall OL 6-5 255 Oak Park, Mich. (Oak Park) Kai-Leon Herbert OT 6-4 279 Plantation, Fla. (American Heritage) Joel Honigford OT 6-5 277 Sugarcreek, Ohio (Garaway Local School) James Hudson DE 6-5 271 Toledo, Ohio (Central Catholic) Corey Malone-Hatcher DE 6-3 246 Saint Joseph, Mich. (Saint Joseph) Ben Mason LB 6-3 230 Sandy Hook, Conn. (Newton) Dylan McCaffrey QB 6-4 185 Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Valor Christian) Phillip Paea OL 6-4 277 Berrien Springs, Mich. (Berrien Springs) Joshua Ross LB 6-0 219 Orchard Lake, Mich. (St. Mary's) O'Maury Samuels RB 5-10 190 Los Lunas, N.M. (Los Lunas) Andrew Stueber OT 6-6 305 Darien, Conn. (Darien) Benjamin St-Juste CB 6-3 185 Montreal, Quebec (Vieux-Montreal) Kurt Taylor RB 5-9 201 Covington, Ga. (Newton) Luiji Vilain DE 6-4 240 Alexandria, Va. (Episcopal) J'Marick Woods DB 6-3 198 Florence, Ala. (Florence) 2018 Michigan Commitment List Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School) Emil Ekiyor OL 6-4 315 Indianapolis (Cathedral) Otis Reese S 6-2 195 Leesburg, Ga. (Lee County)

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