I know that McDowell and Hand are the primary targets left for 2014. Are the coaches seriously considering Juju Smith or are they saving a spot for the 2015 class? - Zach Woodruff
Like you said, landing Malik McDowell and DaShawn Hand is the main focus for the staff in 2014, but if numbers allow for one or two more players in that class then it looks like Michigan has some options. Despite telling safety Montae Nicholson 'thanks, but no thanks' and effectively sending best wishes to Adoree Jackson at Florida, the staff is still pursuing a handful of 2014 kids that could end up in this class with some attrition in the coming months. The sexy names being thrown around are a pair of Glenville prospects in athlete Marshon Lattimore and safety Erick Smith. Out of the two, Smith makes the most sense in this spot since Michigan is passively recruiting another defensive back, but both would be welcomed additions- and likely would come in a package deal. It may be all or nothing for the Glenville duo and, unfortunately, they may both end up at Ohio State.
As you mentioned, Juju Smith is another possibility as well. Michigan is firmly in his top 5 and will receive an official visit Nov 30 for the Ohio State game, but it's hard to predict where he is leaning. The Christian atmosphere of his next campus is a major factor for Smith, and I'm not sure how well a liberal Ann Arbor campus fits into that picture. Although, Smith has mentioned that the Ann Arbor campus is nice, so Michigan has that going for them. Apart from those 3, though, the prospects of another addition to the 2014 class look bleak. Michigan has been quietly recruiting safety Steven Parker (Jenks, Oklahoma) throughout so far, but it doesn't look like things are too serious on that front. Parker is believed to be a heavy Oklahoma lean and it will take a lot to pull him from the Sooners.
Do you think that the team's uncertainty at offensive line and the pass rush will affect potential and current recruits? - George Felekides
While I don't think that the outing against Penn State (which Michigan nearly won) is enough to shake any recruit away from the Wolverines, this and another question regarding the verbals of commits shows that it is somewhat of a concern for fans this week. Even though Team 134 only recently incurred its first loss of the year, it was clear that Michigan was still struggling in a couple areas of the game that they'd like to have solidified- and if it's that obvious to fans, it's that obvious to recruits. However, judging by the reaction of Michigan recruits on Twitter, this loss did little if anything to sway their commitments. Targets at the game, though, may have come away from the 4 OT spectacle seeing the Nittany Lions in a greater light than before. With the struggles on the offensive line and pass rush specifically, this probably helps Michigan to some degree. Despite the impressive recruiting hauls of the past few years, it shows that young players can still make an impact early on given the staff's firm stance on playing whoever is most ready. If this means freshman and sophomores in the lineup, so be it.
Any updates on Malik McDowell's recruitment? MSU lean? - Dustin Grueshaber
We've talked about McDowell more lately around here than in the past few months, but the main thing to remember with Malik is that no news is good news- at least until the Army All-American game. His recruitment has all the makings of a bitter in-state battle with Michigan State, but the coaches are confident that McDowell will be in this class and the fans should be too. McDowell has been to both Michigan and Michigan State several times, and it is no secret that his parents drastically favor Michigan over the field. The academics at Michigan when coupled with the football program's success would be hard to overcome for any school, especially when you consider his parent's wishes. However, McDowell visited Michigan State once more this past weekend to get another look at the program. Malik's father, Greg, said that it was an enjoyable visit for his son and indicated that the Spartans were "up there", but did not sound like the visit was anything they hadn't been exposed to before. Malik is going to take his 5 official visits before this is over, and those 5 visits will be to schools that he has not had the chance to check out thus far- namely SEC schools. Despite this drawn out recruitment, Malik should be the last member of Michigan's 2014 class when National Signing Day rolls around.
After Runyon, will the coaches be extremely picky when choosing lineman? And how many will be taken? - Zach Woodruff
With the pledge from Runyon to kick things off, Michigan gave itself an ample of time to fill the 2015 class. It looks like Michigan will only have room for around 15* kids in 2015, so the staff was going to be very selective in the first place. As far as how many offensive lineman will be in this class, it looks like the magic number is 2. The recruitment of offensive lineman has progressed pretty slowly so far and it has focused around only a few names. The biggest target at this position is far and away Sterling Jenkins Jr. out of Bladwin High School in Pittsburgh, PA. Jenkins is a 4-star offensive tackle that has all the tools to be successful in college- he is big, has good technique in pass protection for his age and is an intelligent, well-versed student as well and he thinks very highly of Michigan. Jenkins has visited Michigan before and was recently in attendance for the Wolverines 4 OT battle with Penn State in Happy Valley, although he was watching from the opposite sideline. Michigan is in his top 4 or 5 and given the areas that he is focusing on when choosing a college, Michigan should be in good position to receive a commitment from Jenkins when the time comes.
After Jenkins, Michigan's board looks a little thin. There are, however, a few highly-talented kids that could end up wearing maize and blue if Jenkins commits elsewhere. Chuma Edoga, an offensive tackle out of Georgia, has been billed as one of the best lineman out of the South for this cycle. Edoga received a lot of initial interest from Michigan, but he has mentioned that communication has dropped off within the last couple months. If Jenkins moves out of the picture, Edoga would be a likely candidate to earn an offer.
Another skilled offensive lineman who is a bit closer to Ann Arbor and received some looks so far is David Moorman from Pinckney, Michigan. Being a local prospect, Moorman has made it out to both Michigan and Michigan State numerous times and thinks highly of both programs, as well as several other Midwest schools. After talking with Moorman, I get the impression that Michigan would be hard to beat if they came calling with an offer in hand, but anything can happen. With several interested prospects in the picture, Michigan should be able to land the target they want (which is Jenkins right now) given their recent success on the recruiting trail, but they have some options if things fall through up top.