With the end of their bye week just around the corner, the Michigan staff is putting the finishing touches on their cross-country recruiting trips. Michigan has sent coaches to states ranging as close as Minnesota and as far away as Georgia, while covering many in between. From what I've gathered, Roy Manning (North Carolina and Virginia), Dan Ferrigno (New Jersey and Pennsylvania), Curt Mallory (Illinois and Maryland), Mark Smith (Tennessee) and Darrell Funk (Pennsylvania) have all visited various prospects and commits this week and their respective states are listed in parentheses. I will have a complete list of visited players up tomorrow hopefully, but let me just say right now- they've kept busy this week.
With the a pledge from the country's top wide receiver to help get the ball rolling on the 2015 class, Michigan has continued to search for another deep threat to lineup opposite of George Campbell one day. One player that has the potential to fit the bill resides in Glasboro, New Jersey, and has offers from 9 division one programs including Georgia Tech, Maryland, Penn State and locally Rutgers. The 6'5", 195 lb Juwan Johnson has spent a lot of his time this offseason working in the weight room to improve his physical skills to compliment his already above average football IQ and pass catching ability.
During a visit from Ferrigno on Tuesday, Johnson heard how the staff was very impressed with the physical changes he has undergone and would be sticking around to take in a practice shortly after. Johnson, who states that he is looking for a mix of a good education, playing time, and quality coaching, is very hopeful that he will receive an offer. "I'm a good fit for the team and I have good character," says Johnson. "I feel that there's a good chance they'll offer. If they are [looking for character] then I'm the man they are looking for." Since this is the first time he has heard from Michigan in a while, they have some ground to make up with the other ACC, Big Ten and SEC schools that have kept on Johnson, but he is looking to potentially visit Michigan after the season and closed our conversation with "I'll be there soon". Johnson is a big, athletic receiver that has shown big play capability and the toughness to go across the middle in high school. He is a composite 4-star on 247 and is having a big year. Looking for Johnson to be in the mix for Michigan for quite some time.
While most of the visits being paid this week are to 2015 prospects (save DaShawn Hand), Michigan has already begun looking around for a quarterback in the 2016 class. One of the first options that will receive a good look at the position is Jimmy Fitzgerald, signal caller for Centennial High School. Fitzgerald is leading a very young team that starts 9 juniors on offense, but Centennial is looking to secure a 3 game winning streak as well as a playoff birth with a victory tomorrow. Accruing year to date stats of 1,680 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and 450 rushing yards with 7 touchdowns, Fitzgerald displays the ability to challenge defenses in multiple ways. "I would say I'm more of a pocket passer with a strong arm and an accurate ball," said Fitzgerald. "When plays break down, I am athletic enough to get outside the pocket and make plays." On the other hand, though, he recognizes some areas that he is working to improve upon and shows a very humble side. "I need to work on field quickness and there is always room for improvement when it comes to accuracy and leadership."
As he is in the middle of a very successful sophomore campaign, Fitzgerald has heard from several Big Ten and Ivy League programs, shedding light on his intense drive to remain academically challenged. "I want to go to a school with great football, but also where I can earn a degree to set myself up for the next 40 years of my life." He also mentions that having a great relationship with his coaches and teammates is of the utmost importance as he will likely be spending most of his time around the company of his future team. With offers from Illinois, Yale and Harvard to his name, Fitzgerald's name is gaining traction on the recruiting trail and, to no surprise, he is approaching recruitment in a very studious manor and doing his due diligence. "I have spent the most time at Duke. I have a really good relationship with coach Roper and coach Cutliffe, and they are great teachers of the game. I also have good relationships with coach Cubit at Illinois and coach Johns at IU." Fitzgerald was drawn to the tempo of offense at Indiana as well as coach Johns, saying he "really loved the offense they put on the field". With Purdue, coach Shoop coached in the NFL as an offensive coordinator for the Bears and playing under a coach with NFL experience is a big plus in Fitzgerald's book. Duke has one of the top 10 business schools in the nation, which greatly appealed to Fitzgerald, as well as their beautiful campus and the impressive track record of coach Cutcliffe and Roper.
Since Michigan is just getting involved with Fitzgerald, other schools have already made an impression on the 2016 quarterback but there is so much time left that this shouldn't hurt Michigan's chances at all. Coach Mallory visited Centennial yesterday to collect Fitzgerald's transcripts and check in with Jimmy, and during the visit they discussed the possibility of a future visit for Fitzgerald. This sounds like a near certainty, though, as Jimmy mentioned he "cant wait to get up for a game". With not many names being thrown around at the quarterback position for 2016 at this point, Fitzgerald has an early opportunity to impress the coaches and looks to be doing so with an impressive season and pronounced drive both on the field and in the classroom. Keep an eye out for future visit updates from Fitzgerald.