The Wolverine

November 2016

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 66 of 83

NOVEMBER 2016 THE WOLVERINE 67   FOOTBALL RECRUITING PENN STATE — SEPT. 24 The game against Penn State marked the start of Big Ten play and with it the return of official visitors. Richmond (Va.) Benedictine School four-star in- side linebacker Ellis Brooks and Lo- ganville (Ga.) Grayson three-star run- ning back and Michigan commit Kurt Taylor booked trips to Ann Arbor for the matchup against the Nittany Lions. Brooks, a one-time Duke commit, stands 6-2 and weighs 240 pounds. He's considered the No. 8 inside line- backer and No. 230 overall player in the country, and is believed to be down to Michigan and Maryland. The official visit to Ann Arbor im- pressed Brooks and his family. The atmosphere caught his attention and he liked defensive coordinator Don Brown and linebackers coach Chris Partridge. It remains to be seen how hard Michigan will push for a commit- ment from Brooks, but if the staff does he might jump at the opportunity. Maryland is probably the frontrun- ner for Brooks because the Terps have been making him feel like he is a prior- ity for a long time. He knows he could play early in his career in College Park and one of his best recruiting relationships is with Maryland lineback- ers coach Matt Barnes. Brooks has been taking a slow, methodical approach to his recruitment. Mary- land and Michigan are his two most recent visits, but nothing else is on the hori- zon right now. The 5-9, 201-pound, muscle-bound Taylor has been committed to Michi- gan since Oct. 16, 2015, and has been on campus many times. The three-star back got a chance to see U-M in an official capacity for the Penn State game and couldn't have been more ex- cited about the experience. After witnessing the 49-10 beatdown of the Nittany Li- ons, he couldn't contain his emotions involved with the visit. "I am truly blessed to have over 30,000 fans screaming my name," he said. "All of that for a kid from Covington, Georgia." Before transferring to Grayson High in Loganville, Ga., Tay- lor spent the first three years of his prep career in the small, rural town of Covington. After the game was over, Taylor praised the Wolverines with a quote that he lives by. "The game was great. It was awe- some," he said. "Hard work is unde- feated. Go Blue." WISCONSIN — OCT. 1 With only three official visits in the books through the first four home games, Michigan opened the flood- gates for the contest against Wisconsin. The U-M staff hosted nine official visi- tors for the game against the Badgers, including three five-star talents. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy cen- ter Cesar Ruiz, Warwick (R.I.) Bishop Hendricken weakside defensive end Kwity Paye, Pensacola (Fla.) Washing- ton offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy inside linebacker Jordan Anthony, Lexing- ton (Ky.) Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, Aledo (Texas) High of- fensive tackle Chuck Filiaga, Fort My- ers (Fla.) Dunbar outside linebacker Shanon Reid, Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley outside linebacker Brelin Faison-Walden and Kennedale (Texas) outside linebacker Baron Browning all graced Michigan's sideline for the top- 10 matchup. A hard-fought, 14-7 win over the Badgers made for a home run weekend to host such elite talent. Ruiz, a New Jersey native, is now playing down in Florida, but the na- tion's top center has not forgotten his roots, which might just be enough to bring the 6-3, 313-pound lineman to Ann Arbor. "Those dudes got big," he said of fel- low New Jersey natives Rashan Gary and Ron Johnson. "I can definitely see that. Both of them have gotten really big. "They weren't on me about commit- ting or anything like that. They were just happy to have me up there, and they really wanted me to enjoy my time and take in the entire visit. "These official visits are something you won't forget, and they told me that. They tried to help me enjoy my time while I was in Ann Arbor." With official visits to North Carolina and Michigan in the books, Ruiz played it cool when asked just where Michigan is on his list after the visit. "Michigan is in a good spot," he said with a chuckle. "We are going to leave it at that but yes, Michigan is in a good spot right now." Ruiz is the nation's top center and comes in at No. 118 overall regardless of position. Boston College com- mit Paye was recruited by Brown when he was still the defensive coordinator for the Eagles, and now he is trying to bring Paye to Ann Arbor. As soon as he was offered, the 6-3, 245-pound three-star end got to work on setting up an official visit to Michigan and now he'll wait and see how the situa- tion plays out before decid- ing between the Eagles and Wolverines. "The coaching staff at Boston College is in a tough spot because if there's an- other losing season there's a possibility that the whole coaching staff could be Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette product Jedrick Wills,'s No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 16 overall prospect nationally, said his official visit for the Wisconsin game Oct. 1 put Michigan among his favorites. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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