Steve Lorenz, the brains behind the “Michigan Tremendous” recruiting website that catapulted him to stardom amongst Michigan fans, took a few minutes to talk to me about how Michigan’s recruiting class with fare.
Considering today is a pretty important day, he also touched upon that as well.
JH: Let’s get right down to business, the question everyone wants answered right now: Will Peppers be choosing Michigan? If so, how do you see him fitting in to the Michigan defense?
SL: It’s hard to imagine a situation where Peppers doesn’t commit to Michigan this afternoon and it’s been pointing that way for a while.
As far as his fit, I think it’s also hard to imagine a situation where he doesn’t see ample playing time his freshman year. This says a lot about the kind of talent he is when you consider the level of player Michigan has brought in to the defensive backfield the past couple classes. He’s been quoted as saying he’s not a fan of comparisons, but he reminds me (and a few others) of former LSU star Patrick Peterson. Linebacker size with track speed and the ability to play cornerback at a high level.
JH: If Peppers comes on board, how do you think it effects other blue-chippers like Westphal or Hand? Will his announcement make them want to take a harder look?
SL: It’s tangibly hard to measure how much of an effect he would have on some of these other players. It may speed up the timetable for Westphal, however.
One thing to maybe watch for is a couple of names who may have been off the radar popping back up. A blue chip, charismatic player like Peppers can attract other top players or at least get them interested enough to come to campus, which is where the coaches do their best work. Who those names are is hard to tell; could be anyone.
JH: I can’t remember being Michigan so successful recruiting in quite some time. Why do you think Hoke and company have had so much success in such little time?
SL: It’s really about what they do on campus. Since Hoke’s been on board, I can only think of a handful of prospects who have visited and not had the Wolverines in their top group afterwards. It’s about making the kids and their families feel comfortable; they’ll answer any questions, and oftentimes spend long periods talking to the players and their families when on the visits.
They’re also straight shooters when it comes to how a situation plays out. For instance, an offer is an offer with Michigan. When numbers dwindle, they may fill up at certain positions, but they will contact the player and his coach to let him know. There’s no “committable” and “non-committable” offer or anything like that. Little things like that have helped them develop a reputation with high school staffs around the country.
JH: Even though 2013 had a much greater number, is it fathomable that 2014 could be a better recruiting class on paper?
SL: Yes, because it could have more star power at the top. Michigan is likely to get Peppers and conceivably leads for Da’Shawn Hand, Malik McDowell and Montae Nicholson (among others) while being big contenders for safety Juju Smith and others as well.
Michigan’s future success will largely depend on the foundation of the 2012 and 2013 classes; they both are full of excellent players. If they get out of the gates hot this season and beat Notre Dame, things could really take off even more.
JH: Who’s the better recruiter, Shane Morris or Michael Ferns?
SL: I think the Project 135 idea concocted by Ferns has been a stroke of recruiting genius. He doesn’t have the colorful personality Shane had and wasn’t really even originally going to put on the recruiting hat. When he decided to, however, I think he knew it had to be something a little more unique. It’s the second straight class that I feel like Michigan has really set the trend in terms of players recruiting players.
For instance, if Peppers commits to Michigan tonight, imagine the publicity the Project 135 situation will get. It will be on national (sort of) television. That’s great for the class and the program in general.
JH: Realistically, who do you feel Michigan will wrap up the 2014 recruiting class with?
SL: Realistically? It’s recruiting. Nobody could end up at Michigan or all the top players they’re targeting could.
I’ve believed for a long time that they can win the Da’Shawn Hand sweepstakes. They’ve set a plan in recruiting him, and so far it’s been executed perfectly. He may visit for camp next month, and will take his official for the ND game. I think they can get it done.
I think Parrker Westphal will be part of this class, although his hesitance is at least noteworthy at this point. Still, it’s not enough to necessarily be concerned about.
Most believe Malik McDowell will end up being a part of this class as well. He’s a different kid; very quiet, doesn’t like the process much, but had a childhood affinity for the Wolverines and will likely want to play close to home for his family.
Other players that are decent possibilities are Montae Nicholson, Juju Smith and KJ Williams with players like five-star DT Andrew Brown and five-star CB Jalen Tabor as players with Michigan in their top group but likely have them trailing.
I’d say this; I think a Peppers commitment could change a lot of things for the better. Just how much right now is hard to say.
Make sure to check out Steve’s work over at the Michigan 247Sports website!