Michigan gets yet another PWO commitment, this time from a cancer survivor

February 1, 2017 by  
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An inspiring story for Michigan fans.

On a great day for Michigan football, this is one of the best stories of all: Michigan has added 6’3”, 230-pound defensive end Ryan Veingrad out of Boca Raton, Florida as a preferred walk-on - just two years after Ryan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Veingrad was diagnosed two years ago after he discovered lumps on his neck. He underwent two rounds of chemotherapy and lost 35 pounds in the process, but somehow made it back onto the field during the 2015 season, less than one year after being diagnosed - inspiring his high school teammates with his ability to battle cancer.

“It showed me not to take things for granted, and to appreciate everything I have,” he said to WPTV.

Now that Ryan is fully recovered, he can focus on moving forward as a U-M student and getting better as a player. He visited Michigan’s campus last week and came away impressed with the opportunity to play football here.

"It was awesome," Veingrad told Wolverine247 of his visit. "Ann Arbor is a great place. The facilities I saw were all top of the line and the coaches made me feel at home."

And we’re certainly happy to have him here.

Final Grades: Michigan Football’s Recruiting Class, By Position

February 1, 2017 by  
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Well, that was awesome.

Quarterbacks: A+

Additions: Dylan McCaffrey

Exactly what Michigan needed and wanted at this position. Dylan committed early, helped the team get a massive wide receiver haul, and rather than providing drama the borderline five-star prospect went back to work and focused on getting better and helping the team. If Michigan found a way to have this again in 2018 somehow, count your lucky stars.

Running backs: B-

Additions: O’Maury Samuels, Kurt Taylor

It’s hard to be too disappointed when the conveyer belt churns out two more future play-makers, but Michigan’s class also featured A.J. Dillon for a long time and flirted with Najee Harris to no avail. But they didn’t really need to hit a home run here, with a deep and versatile crew already in town.

Samuels and Taylor both add a little more to that puzzle. Samuels is an exciting athlete with the kind of footwork and change of direction to get him on to SportsCenter one day. And Kurt Taylor is the complete package of quickness, refusing to go down, pass protection and receiving skills.

Wide receivers: A++

Additions: Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, Brad Hawkins, Jack Young, Evan Latham, Jake McCurry

Take the roof off for these guys, geez. I think we’re going to look back and remember this class for a long, long, long time. Fab Five, maybe?

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You really can’t go wrong with hyping up any of these guys. DPJ is a very rare talent athletically, and he’s showed some quick learning at shoring up the other aspects of the game. Nico Collins and Tarik Black are both huge, physically punishing, athletic freaks.

Oliver Martin and Brad Hawkins are stellar as well - Martin specializes in getting separation with his smooth route-running and Hawkins can go up and get anything thrown in his area.

Tight ends: C+

Additions: Chris Hanlon

With a half-dozen Harbaugh tight ends filtering through the program already, Michigan didn’t need to devote a scholarship to the position in 2017. And they didn’t, but still managed to add a talented prospect in Chris Hanlon. Expect the 2018 class to feature a few more big guys, though, as they try to flood the NFL with more Rob Gronkowskis.

Fullbacks: B-

Additions: Ben Mason, Tyler Plocki

This is some beautiful timing here, considering that Michigan is just one year away from having to replace Khalid Hill and Henry Poggi, once again overhauling the fullback position and turning it over to unproven talent.

That worked out wonderfully last time, as Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge were hardly missed in lieu of Hill and Poggi. For it to work again, Ben Mason and likely a few walk-ons will have to take advantage of a full year of weight-lifting and conditioning.

Offensive linemen: B

Additions: Chuck Filiaga, Cesar Ruiz, JaRaymond Hall, Andrew Stueber, Joel Honigford, Jess Speight

To be honest, the task was pretty close to impossible here: I think we all hoped this 2017 class would ‘save’ Michigan’s offensive line and give us a feeling that the problems they’ve had at that position for the last 10-15 years would be gone.

In truth, these guys may still do that, but it’s unlikely to come in 2017. Filiaga and Ruiz are definitely potential contributors as true freshmen, and JaRaymond Hall frankly doesn’t get enough love. Andrew Stueber is a guy the coaches have raved about and seems to be a terrific worker during the off-season, so there’s optimism there as well.

Is it a home run? No. No, it’s not, but it’s still a very good building block for the future.

Defensive linemen: A+

Additions: Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, Phillip Paea, Donovan Jeter, Kwity Paye, Sean Fitzgerald, Ryan Veingrad

Let’s start by breaking this up into tackles and ends, shall we? Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson, Deron Irving-Bey, Phillip Paea, and Donovan Jeter are all tackles, and it’s a huge group (literally) that made it to campus just in the nick of time. They’ll provide depth in 2017 and start being important parts of the rotation in ‘18 and beyond.

Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, and Kwity Paye are defensive ends who should provide solid run defense while increasing this defense’s ability to pass rush without having to blitz. (Of course, Don Brown will do that anyway, so good luck, opposing quarterbacks.)

Linebackers: A+

Additions: Jordan Anthony, Drew Singleton, Josh Ross, Adam Fakih

In the end, Harbaugh couldn’t add Willie Gay to the fold, but this is still a great group of players that boost up the team’s depth and athleticism at a position with plenty of bodies, but also plenty of questions, for 2017.

There aren’t many linebacker groups in the country as polished and athletic as this.

Safeties: A-

Additions: Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J’Marick Woods, Hunter Reynolds

I’ll be very curious to watch this position over the next few seasons, and these guys in particular. J’Marick Woods doesn’t jump off the page with his speed, but he is deceptively fast and also has great length and good physicality. He’ll be an annoying conundrum for opposing coordinators (and quarterbacks).

Jaylen Kelly-Powell, meanwhile, has a lot of experience covering defenders one-on-one and would be a tough blitzer to handle, so despite looking more like a free safety physically, I wonder if Don Brown will get the most out of him around the line of scrimmage.

Also, Hunter Reynolds is an exciting non-scholly player I’ll make sure to mention a little too often. He’s raw but physically talented.

Cornerbacks: A

Additions: Benjamin St-Juste, Ambry Thomas

I really like this duo. Ambry Thomas is an amazing player to watch, and St-Juste is also worth the price of admission for his obvious dedication to his craft and the technique of being a cover corner. I’d be surprised if both these guys didn’t end up being starters at some point.

Special teams: A+

Additions: Brad Robbins

As it turns out, Michigan wasn’t done with adding just Aubrey Solomon and Nico Collins today. Bringing a scholarship punter into the fold (let alone the #1 guy in the country) was a reassuring move for anyone looking at next year’s special teams depth chart; the great Kenny Allen is moving on and Quinn Nordin was the only guy on scholarship. That doesn’t necessarily mean bad things, but it was an unknown. Now, at least, there are numbers at that position in case something goes wrong.

2017 4-star WR Nico Collins commits to Michigan

February 1, 2017 by  
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Nico Collins has joined Michigan’s solid 2017 wide receiver class, which includes Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, and Brad Hawkins.

Class of 2017 four-star wide receiver Nico Collins has committed to Michigan.

The 6-foot-5, 195-pound wide receiver is ranked No. 136 in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports. He is the 23rd-best at his position and is the No. 5 player in the state of Alabama.

From Clay-Chalkville High School (AL), Collins chose Michigan over Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and others.

Collins has joined Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, and Brad Hawkins as members of Michigan’s 2017 wide receiver class.

Peoples-Jones, from Cass Technical High School (MI), is ranked No. 12 in the nation. He is the top-ranked wide receiver and the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan.

Black, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound athlete from Cheshire Academy High School (CT), committed to Michigan on December 14th. He is ranked No. 122 in the 2017 class. He is the 17th-best wide receiver and the top-ranked player in the state of Connecticut.

From West Senior High School (IA), Martin is ranked No. 170 in the class of 2017. He is the 28th-best receiver in the class and is the top player in the state of Iowa. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete committed to Michigan on January 30th.

After deciding not to sign or enroll with Michigan in 2016, Hawkins enrolled at Suffield Academy in Connecticut. The Wolverines continued to pursue the 6-foot-1, 200-pound wide receiver, and now Hawkins will enroll with the Maize and Blue. Hawkins is ranked No. 421 in the 2017 class and is the 63rd-best receiver.

During the 2016 season for Clay-Chalkville, Collins caught 43 passes for 865 yards and nine touchdowns. The Wolverines have a ton of depth going forward at the wide receiver position, especially after adding Collins to the 2017 class.

Michigan passing coordinator Pep Hamilton: ‘We’ll find a way to put our guys in position to make plays’

February 1, 2017 by  
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Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton spoke about Wilton Speight and Dylan McCaffrey.

Michigan passing game coordinator coach Pep Hamilton spoke on Wednesday at Signing of the Stars. He made comments about the offense, but specifically quarterbacks Wilton Speight and Dylan McCaffrey.

“I’m looking forward to giving Wilton (Speight) a chance to pick up where he left off,” Hamilton said. “I know that he didn’t finish the season the way he wanted to. You can’t teach experience. He played a ton of good football, as well as the rest of the guys who are returning in the offensive unit, which there’s only a few. We’ll find a way to put our guys in position to make plays.”

During the 2016 season, Speight completed 204-of-331 passes for 2,538 yards for 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound quarterback will return for the 2017 season, but will be without top wide receivers Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh, along with tight end Jake Butt. The trio of pass catchers have graduated and will be in the 2017 NFL Draft.

“We’re looking forward to Dylan McCaffrey and the group of guys coming in,” Hamilton said. “We’re looking for our guys to lead us to victory.”

To replace Chesson and Darboh, the Wolverines will look to many true freshmen wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, and Brad Hawkins. As for replacing Butt, tight ends Devin Asiasi and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. will fill his void.

The hiring of Hamilton was announced in December, as he replaced Jedd Fisch, who is now the offensive coordinator at UCLA.

2017 4-star DT Jay Tufele commits to USC over Michigan

February 1, 2017 by  
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After landing 2017 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon, the Wolverines missed on Jay Tufele.

Class of 2017 four-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele has committed to USC.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound athlete from Bingham High School (UT) picked the Trojans over Michigan, Ohio State, Utah, and BYU on National Signing Day.

Tufele officially visited Michigan in the team’s 41-8 win over Illinois on October 22nd. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh took a trip to Utah to visit the prospect in early December. In late January, Tufele earned a visit from Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown.

He is ranked No. 41 in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports. Tufele is the third-best defensive tackle and the No. 1 ranked player in the state of Utah.

Tufele played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 7th in San Antonio, Texas.

USC has defensive line commits in Marlon Tuipulotu (DT), Brandon Pili (DT), Jacob Lichtenstein (SDE), Hunter Echols (WDE), Terrance Lang (SDE), and now Tufele (DT).

Michigan offers and gets commitment from 2017 punter Brad Robbins

February 1, 2017 by  
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Brad Robbins has flipped from Nevada to Michigan on a scholarship offer.

Class of 2017 punter Brad Robbins has committed to play for Michigan.

Robbins is the No. 1 punter in the 2017 class, according to KornBlue Kicking. He committed to Michigan on National Signing Day and will be on scholarship for the 2017 season.

After losing senior kicker and punter Kenny Allen to graduation last season, redshirt freshman kicker Quinn Nordin is the only other kicker with a scholarship right now.

Robbins, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound athlete from Westerville South High School (OH), once scored on a 99-yard touchdown run. He was back to punt against Olentangy Orange High School and the snap was bad, so Robbins decided to run. When the play was over, the punter was in the end zone.

Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown speaks on Aubrey Solomon’s commitment

February 1, 2017 by  
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Don Brown mentioned the staff was on “pins and needles” waiting for Aubrey Solomon’s announcement.

Shortly after 2017 five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon committed to Michigan, defensive coordinator Don Brown spoke with ESPNU on National Signing Day about the big news.

“We were on pins and needles,” Brown said. “It’s a process that he was going through, and his family had to work through. We found out when the world found out, so we were pretty excited.”

Michigan, led by coach Jim Harbaugh, have went down to the south and picked out J’Marick Woods (AL), Kurt Taylor (GA), and Solomon (GA). The Wolverines could find themselves with another athlete from the south in 2017 four-star wide receiver Nico Collins from Clay-Chalkville High School in Alabama.

“Obviously, Coach’s theme is we want to be national recruiters and we want to be on the national scene,” Brown said. “It just furthers that goal and that mission that he has for us. We were excited we were kind of crack into the south, and we’ve got two players from there so we’re excited.”

Brown said that Michigan is planning to play Solomon and Rashan Gary side-by-side in the 2017 season. The duo have been given the nickname “Thunder and Lightning” by the coaches in Ann Arbor.

“Yes, that’s our plan,” he said. “For two years, he’s been one of the top guys on the board inside. It will be nice to see him (Aubrey Solomon) and Rashan (Gary) play next to each other at times, so we’re very, very excited about it.

“We’re excited about our whole class. We think we’ve addressed a numbers of needs, but it was a nice gift today, that was for sure. We are excited, and I like the way he handled it as well; he talked about academics — and how important that was to his family — and the athletic piece. We think that’s what Michigan needs. … We’re excited, there’s no question … he’s going to be a great compliment in our four-down system.”

This Is A Phenomenal Defensive Line Haul

February 1, 2017 by  
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Wide receiver will of course get all the attention, but DL is the stuff that builds championships. And this is a championship haul.

If there’s a ‘face’ to the 2017 class, there’s no doubt it’s Donovan Peoples-Jones. He’s the headliner of the Pipeline 9, Michigan’s top overall commit and the tip of the spear to one of the best receiving classes any school has assembled.

Last year, that ‘face’ happened to be Rashan Gary, and he headlined a quartet of defensive linemen that also featured Ron Johnson, Michael Dwumfour, and Carlo Kemp. But somehow, Michigan has found a way to match and even surpass what they added a year ago. And it’s all thanks to an 11th-hour addition by five-star Aubrey Solomon.

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Credit to Jim Harbaugh here for seeing water where others saw stones, and even as every Michigan fan wrote Solomon off, Michigan’s coach was hard at work trying to sway both Solomon and his family to buy in to what he was building. Solomon brings a rare combination of raw power and speed that will draw some apt comparisons to Rashan Gary; while he’s not as explosive a pass rusher, he’s still a bull in the middle who will be able to make the field in Year 1 and turn into an NFL talent down the road.

Today was the master stroke, but Harbaugh was building this class for years. He added Phillip Paea this April and Corey Malone-Hatcher and Luiji Vilain, two outstanding defensive ends, in June. In July, when James Hudson looked like an MSU lean, Jim Harbaugh turned up the heat and got him to commit to the Maize and Blue in August. Then came pledges from Donovan Jeter, Kwity Paye, Deron Irving-Bey and now Solomon.

What does this do for Michigan’s football team? It reloads a position where Michigan suffered heavy losses to the NFL Draft. It sets up an effective bridge year in 2017 thanks to remaining talent like Mo Hurst and Bryan Mone. But really the fun is going to start - in a big way - in 2018. That group will have a junior Rashan Gary, sophomores Aubrey Solomon and Luiji Vilain, and tremendous depth and experience across the board.

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Michigan’s defensive end rotation will be in full swing by then, too, giving Michigan a better pass rush than it’s had yet under Harbaugh. Michigan has added four four-star DE commits in the last two years plus a fifth - Kwity Paye - who’s flown under the radar a bit. Corey Malone-Hatcher is a tremendous two-way defender and Luiji Vilain is almost a five-star pass rusher.

Basically, watch out, college football.

The Michigan Man Podcast 358: John Borton of The Wolverine guests

January 31, 2017 by  
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Chatting with the long-time editor of TheWolverine.com

Today’s episode welcomes John Borton, long-time editor of The Wolverine, as the guest. Listen using the player below!

Michigan Football Recruiting: Final 2017 Class Prediction (Jan. 31)

January 31, 2017 by  
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One last look at how the class is shaping up before Wednesday’s signings are official.

Michigan Football sees its official end to the 2017 recruiting cycle on Wednesday, as does the rest of the country, with National Signing Day’s events upon us.

The Wolverines have all but a few pieces officially locked in, but the remaining ones are certainly notable.

Here is our final 2017 class prediction. (Commits are in bold, enrollees are bolded and italicized).

Quarterback

4* Dylan McCaffrey (Littleton, CO)

Running Back

4* O’Maury Samuels (Los Lunas, NM)

3* Kurt Taylor (Covington, GA)

Wide Receiver

5* Donovan Peoples-Jones (Detroit, MI)

4* Nico Collins (Pinson, AL)

4* Tarik Black (Cheshire, CT)

4* Oliver Martin (Iowa City, IA)

3* Brad Hawkins (Suffield, CT)

Offensive Tackle

4* JaRaymond Hall (Oak Park, MI)

4* Chuck Filiaga (Aledo, TX)

3* Andrew Steuber (Darien, CT)

3* Joel Hoenigford (Sugarcreek, OH)

Center

4* Cesar Ruiz (Bradenton, FL)

Defensive End

4* Corey Malone-Hatcher (St. Joseph, MI)

4* Donovan Jeter (Beaver Falls, PA)

4* Luiji Vilain (Alexandria, VA)

4* James Hudson (Toledo, OH)

4* Deron Irving-Bey (Flint, MI)

3* Kwity Paye (Warwick, RI)

Defensive Tackle

5* Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, GA)

3* Philip Paea (Berrien Springs, MI)

Linebackers

4* Drew Singleton (Paramus, NJ)

4* Jordan Anthony (Bradenton, FL)

4* Josh Ross (West Bloomfield, MI)

3* Ben Mason (Sandy Hook, CT)

Cornerbacks

4* Ambry Thomas (Detroit, MI)

4* Benjamin St-Juste (Montreal, QC)

Safeties

4* J’Marick Woods (Florence, AL)

4* Jaylen Kelly-Powell (Detroit, MI)

There are two big fish left on the board for the Wolverines in WR Nico Collins and DT Aubrey Solomon and based on conversations with multiple people familiar with the situation, Michigan is in excellent shape to get some good news from both on Wednesday.

Mekhi Becton is the wild card right now. It seems the staff is optimistic about their chances with him, but nobody can really put a finger on where he is leaning. Because of that, I decided not to include him in this final list.

The Wolverines should end with having the fourth-ranked class in the nation behind Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama.

Happy with this haul or have any questions? Sound off in the comments below and we will keep the discussing going!

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