The Ballad of Bryce McNeal

A series exploring the commitments (and subsequent decommitments) of Michigan’s lost members of the class of 2009. 

The Commitment
Michigan fans knew about McNeal for quite some time before he committed. He was offered in March, and the Wolverines quickly moved near the top of the list, along with the in-state Gophers. After being invited to participate in the Army All-American game, McNeal stated that would like to announce his final decision at that time. However, Michigan fans were given an early present when he committed on May 1st… or were they? He later came out and said he had not in fact committed to the Wolverines (though most fans believe that a silent commitment was given at that time). Within a few weeks though, on the verge of a visit to Ann Arbor, Bryce made a public commitment to Michigan.

The Decommitment
Over the summer, McNeal made some comments to the effect that he would like to take some visits to schools other than Michigan. The coaching staff, understandably, wasn’t so keen on this idea, and quickly informed him that, if he were to remain committed to Michigan, this was not an option. However, when October rolled around, he reiterated his desire to go on other campus officials, and thus began the souring of his relationship with the Wolverines’ coaching staff. He officially decommitted from Michigan on October 16th, and opened up the recruiting process to other schools.

The Impact
In the end, McNeal got what he wanted all along: an official commitment at the Army All-American game, in which he chose Clemson. Michigan obviously wanted to hold onto McNeal’s commitment, hence the restrictions on his being able to visit elsewhere, but he wasn’t such an important recruit that they just let him do whatever he want in terms of visits, while still remaining committed to the Wolverines (as they were willing to do with William Campbell, before his “decommitment”). McNeal’s spot in the class was filled by Je’Ron Stokes, a more highly-rated guy, and the rest is history.

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Recruiting Update: 1-5-09

Moved to Committed: 2009 MI DT William Campbell. Relief, joy, etc.
Removed: 2009 MN WR Bryce McNeal Clemson commit, 2009 MS DT Pernell McPhee, who signed his LOI with Mississippi State, and 2010 IL OL Christian Lombard, who committed to Notre Dame.

This weekend is expected to be a big one for recruiting. The Freep says:

West Monroe, La., defensive end Barkevious Mingo, an Army All-American; Greenwood, S.C., defensive end Sam Montgomery, an UnderArmour All-American; and Denard Robinson of Deerfield Beach, Fla., who Michigan is looking at for the quarterback…

Inkster wide receiver Cameron Gordon and offensive tackle Michael Schofield of Orland Park, Ill., are the only two Michigan commitments scheduled to officially visit for the Jan. 9 weekend. Three-star defensive end Bennie Logan of Coushatta, La., and three-star cornerback Demontre Hurst of Lancaster, Texas, are also scheduled to officially visit at that time…

Leesville, La., wide receiver Travante Stallworth (Auburn) and Lafayette, La., wide receiver Ricky Johnson (Arkansas) have scheduled official visits in Ann Arbor for the Jan. 9 weekend.

According to SoFlaFootball, Adrian Witty will also be in town:

“I’m going to Michigan on the 9th, Kansas State on the 16th, 17th, Florida on the 23rd, Middle Tennessee and FIU the following week,” said Witty.

And Sam Webb filled in a bit more a while back (caution: this is the oldest source, so it may be a bit out of date). He said on WTKA that Je’Ron Stokes will be in town as well, along with maybe Josh Hunter.

And that’s one full recruiting weekend. With no basketball game until Sunday morning, I’m curious as to what the recruits will spend their time doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went to a hockey game over the weekend, so if you’re interested in helping with the recruiting effort, get out and support the reigning CCHA champs, as well. Also of note: I’d assume the early-enrolling commits will be on hand for the recruiting visit, and it’s more likely that some of these guys have built up relationships with fellow members of the class of 2009. Will Tate Forcier, Big Will, and the gang be a valuable recruiting force for the rest of this class?

Look for another recruiting update later this week.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

Recruiting Update 1-2-09

Let’s start with the odd/potentially important news. 2009 OH CB Dale Peterman didn’t seem to be too high on Michigan’s radar. However, there is this random quote from a basketball article:

Only one player, Ursuline’s Dale Peterman, who is expected to announce early next week that he will be attending the University of Michigan to play football, fouled out.

Take that for what it’s worth (very little, if you ask me). To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t been offered.

All-League teams from the San Diego Area include a UM commit and a 2010 prospect:

Eastern League

First-team offense–Wesley Cody (Mira Mesa) Sr.; Tyler Gaffney (Cathedral Catholic) Sr.; Dana Barbaro (St. Augustine) Jr.; Allen Aguilar (St. Augustine) Jr.; Duante Jones (Patrick Henry) Jr.; Robert Forcier (Scripps Ranch) Sr.; Brennan Clay (Scripps Ranch) Jr.

Good for Tate, and I assume having him on the team will help with the recruitment of Clay, if Michigan wants him.

Not to be outdone, FL RB commit Vincent Smith was named his area’s Player of the Year.

Fluff on Michigan’s Ohio commits that are playing in all-star games this weekend. Justin Turner:

Projected as a defensive back once he gets to Ann Arbor, athlete Justin Turner (6-0, 186) of Massillon Washington is representing both Ohio and Michigan in the Army All-American Bowl. He is rated as the No. 25 athlete prospect in the country by ESPN.

Turner, ranked No. 7 in the state by Ohio High, was a two-way standout for Massillon at running back and at defensive back. He rushed for 1,380 yards and 11 touchdowns on 207 carries on offense. Defensively, he had 29 tackles, three interceptions (two for touchdowns) and a forced fumble for the Tigers (6-5).

Turner was a first team All-Ohio selection on defense in Division I and was also a member of the Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team.

Isaiah Bell:

Headlining the Ohio contingent in the Under Armour game is Youngstown Liberty safety Isaiah Bell on the Black Team. Ohio High ranks Bell (6-2, 200) as the No. 32 prospect in the Class of 2009 while ESPN has Bell as the No. 9 safety in the country and No. 91 player overall.

…and uncommitted prospect Marcus Hall:

Offensive tackle Marcus Hall (6-5, 290) of Cleveland Glenville was a first team All-Ohio selection this season in Division I and an Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team selection. Hall is rated as the No. 3 player by Ohio High magazine for the Class of 2009 and ESPN has Hall rated as the No. 11 offensive tackle in the country and No. 78 overall.

Hall is the highest rated player nationally from Ohio participating in the three all-star games.

He is considering scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Miami (Fla.) and Tennessee. While the Army All-American Bowl has evolved into a stage for players to announce their college choices about a month before National Signing Day, Hall does not plan on announcing at the game wanting to take all of his official visits before he decides.

2010 FL RB Eduardo Clements sounds like he may be a Miami of Florida lock:

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back with documented 4.45-second speed in the 40-yard dash rushed for about 900 yards this year in the hammer-hard competition of Dade County. His first scholarship offer was from Miami, something he savors.

“I mean, my first scholarship offer was from the Canes,” Clements told SN Today. “I was thinking about how my childhood favorite—that I was so up about—had just offered me a scholarship. It was great that people were looking at me and seeing how hard I work.”

He also sports offers from South Florida, Central Florida, West Virginia, Boston College, Iowa, Oregon, Rutgers, and a few others. He doesn’t plan to commit anywhere until his senior year, but it sounds like Miami certainly has a leg up on the competition.

Removed 2009 MN WR Bryce McNeal, a former commit. He announces his decision (already made) this weekend at the Army All-American Bowl between Oregon, Clemson, Minnesota, and Colorado.

Added 2010 FL OL Torrian Wilson. SoFlaFootball reports he has been hearing from Michigan.

2009 MI QB AJ Westendorp has earned a scholarship offer (info in header). This vastly decreases the likelihood he’ll walk on at Michigan.

It doesn’t sound like FL CB Jayron Hosley will be into the weather when he comes on his official visit:

The Michigan staff better have a hill and a sled for Jayron when he visits Ann Arbor Jan 16. He heard about the snow Michigan received a week or so ago and is not feeling that. “I heard they got a bunch of snow and some people even lost power, I don’t want that [laughing].” Michigan seems to be behind the 8 ball now, but like I always said, sell him early playing time. The early playing time, showing him snow actually can be fun [sledding is fun for all ages], and see where it gets you.

If you want to hear Jim Carty’s take on the William Campbell situation, head over to his site to listen to the audio from his weekly WTKA appearance. For the record, Sam Webb still thinks Michigan gets him.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

Recruiting Update 12-23-08

As always, the recruiting boards can be found directly to the left or right here:
2009 & 2010.

The first-draft Scout 100 for 2010 has been released. Obviously it will change a ton even before signing day, but certainly by the time any of these guys sign anywhere. For now, it’s just a helpful way to see who some prospects might be (of course, remember some of these guys will completely disappear, and some will merely be replaced by other guys).

Recent indications have been that 2009 OL Quinton Washington might be leaning to Michigan. Might he now be looking towards South Carolina as his favorite? I’m not familiar with the source, so take that FWIW. At least he’s not claiming a favorite.

From the same article:
MN WR Bryce McNeal‘s decision will be announced at the Army game. Obviously, I wouldn’t expect said decision to be for Michigan. SC DE Sam Montgomery‘s official visit will be some time in January, and FL CB Jayron Hosley‘s will be January 17th.

Not that I ever though Michigan had a chance with him, but maybe things are less dire than it seems with 2009 AL CB Dre Kirkpatrick? Michigan has been out to visit him, and it sounds like there might be a chance he’ll return the favor to Ann Arbor.

2009 FL K Commit Brendan Gibbons‘s high school coach is retiring, and there is one item of note:

He coached 29 All-State players and three All-Americans (Davey Ford, 1996; Abram Elam, 1999; and Brendan Gibbons, 2008), and 11 of his former players are playing college football.

Cardinal Newman is not much of a huge pipeline, for what it’s worth. Hooray Brendan, though.

Scouting report on 2010 TX QB Aaron Johnson, including season stats:

Quarterback Aaron Johnson is only 82 yards away from topping the 1,000-yard mark [rushing] for the season… The Lobos can throw; Johnson has passed for 1,505 yards and 15 TDs, but has been intercepted seven times.

So, he’s productive, but perhaps not as accurate as one might hope? Take from it what you will. Also, in today’s “non-relevant information” department, take a look at the weightlifting facility of Lake Travis, the team Longview will be playing this weekend. Yes, that is a high school. Also, here are some highlights of last week’s Longview game.

Want some fluff on 2010 FL WR/S Eric Dungy? It’s your lucky day! Standard “he doesn’t have an ego despite having an NFL coach for a dad” stuff.

Removed 2010 OH LB/DE Jamel Turner. He has committed to Ohio State, giving them a good start for a second consecutive year.

Another recruiting post will be coming within a couple days, because there’s a lot more information to share.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

2009 Recruiting Update 10-16-08

The Board.

Moved to Committed:

Moved from Committed:
MN WR Bryce McNeal. Decommitted Monday night.

SC S Devonte Holloman. The former Michigan target has decommitted from Clemson. Potential visits include Michigan.
TX S Craig Loston. Also a Clemson decommit. Michigan was in on him early, but they may not be a player anymore. He’ll get a little time on the board until we can figure out if he’s a viable target.

New Information:
MI DT William Campbell. He’s set his visits. Sam Webb reveals what they shall be.
LA DT Commit DeQuinta Jones. He’s looking around a little bit. Might it result in a decommitment?
AZ DE Craig Roh. His game this Friday will be broadcast over the internet. You can find it at aia365.com. Just as a disclaimer, I couldn’t gt this site to work properly during the week, so don’t get your hopes too high.
MD DE Jason Ankrah. Visiting PSU for the Michigan game this weekend.
MD LB Jelani Jenkins. He has trimmed to 15; Michigan is in.


A sort of state-of-the-recruiting class statement from Josh Helmholdt in the Free Press.
Not on the board because he’s technically still committed to Florida, but Nu’Keese Richardson still intends to visit for the Michigan State game next week.


Posted under Football

2009 Recruiting Update 10-10-08

The Board lives here. Going against the requests of commenters, I’m going to split up 2009 and 2010 updates for now. I think the main fear was that I would be giving less information as a result, but I think it will allow me to give more information on each class.

New Information:
MD RB Tavon Austin. Sets the state rushing record.
MN WR Commit Bryce McNeal. Planning to take visits elsewhere. This includes Florida (info in headers). His commitment appears to be soft, so keep an eye on him.
OH OL Marcus Hall. Selected for the Army Game. Michigan is likely on the outside looking in at his recruitment, however.
MD DE Jason Ankrah. Enjoyed Michigan visit.
MD LB Jelani Jenkins. Fluff relating to the ESPN2 game last week.
GA S/QB Donavan Tate. Plans on officially visiting Michigan. Odds of his choosing football over baseball are still pretty slim.
MD CB Travis Hawkins. Standard post-visit positivity towards Michigan (info in header). Similar vibes here (link same as above).
FL CB Angelo Hadley. Michigan is in his final four.

VA DE Will Hill. He is down to a final group that does not include Michigan, after canceling a UM visit last weekend.

Is that a potential walk-on I’m sensing?

Very Maryland-centric update today. Hawkins and Ankrah both seemed to really dig the Ann Arbor experience. Bryce McNeal’s softening of commit status is somewhat troubling, though I still expect that he ends up in blue.

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 9-11-08

All information (past and present) lives on the board.

New Information:
VA QB Kevin Newsome. Still nominally considering Michigan, though Forcier’s commitment pretty much shuts the door on the Wolverines re-landing him. More on Newsome: Michigan isn’t one of the 3 locks to make his top 5.
OK RB David Oku. Spoke less-than-effusively about his Louisville visit. This is recruiting-speak for “I couldn’t have hated it more.” However, he rescheduled his announcement for next Wednesday. Without having visited Michigan, the Wolverines’ chances seem pretty low.
GA TE Terrell Mitchell. Michigan is still on him.
MI DT William Campbell. Some more information on his decommitment, including that he plans to enroll early wherever he chooses. Re-recruitment article from the Freep. Sam Webb discusses Campbell in the Detroit News. Quoth the mother:

“He’s still basically committed to U-M, but I said there is nothing wrong with going to visit a few schools. There is nothing wrong with that.”

This doesn’t sound too bad. Also, the article says he won’t announce his decision until the Army game, which would contradict a recent assertion that he will enroll early.
NJ DE Anthony LaLota. Michigan and PSU are widely regarded to be his de facto top 2. Also, Scout indicates that he is likely deciding soon.
MI S Thomas Gordon. The Cass Tech player has said he’d be a near-lock to Michigan were he to get an offer, and now he has it (info in header). Is his commitment just a matter of time?
FL S Jonathan Scott. His brother transfers from OSU. I guess coming to Michigan would no longer let them engage in sibling rivalry.
MS S Dennis Thames. Fluff, including top schools (Michigan still up there). His injury will keep him out 4-6 weeks.

MI RB Hersey Jackson. He is out for the season with an injury. He hadn’t earned a Michigan offer, and needed a big senior year to get one. So much for that idea.

Like I said immediately in the wake of the Campbell “decommitment,” nothing has really changed for Big Will. When he was “committed” he said he’d take 5 visits and probably pick Michigan, and following his “decommitment,” he’s saying… that he’ll take 5 visits and probably pick Michigan. On that basis alone, there’s nothing to freak out about (if we didn’t really have him before, did we really lose him).

NC S Devonte Holloman. He will take visits other than Clemson. Typical “not including elsewhere-committed prospects” rules apply, but keep in mind that one of them will be to Michigan. He is planning to enroll early, fwiw.
MI WR Commit Bryce McNeal. A bit of fluffy stuff.
TX QB Commit Shavodrick Beaver. Don’t forget, he plays on ESPN2 in a couple hours.

Michigan Targets Visiting South Bend This Weekend:
NC OL Xavier Nixon (though he’s not on the board anymore, could a strong game from the Wolverines rekindle his interest in Michigan?).
SC DE Chris Bonds (have seen a “maybe” next to this one).

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 8-25-08

A midyear recruiting prospectus is on tap for this afternoon. For now, enjoy the recruiting update. Board can be found here, as always.

New Information:
MN WR Commit Bryce McNeal. On the news.
SC DE Sam Montgomery. He has narrowed his list, and will reveal top choices soon.
NV DE Keenan Graham. UCLA leads (info in header).
SC DE Chris Bonds. Article from The State about his past injuries.
AR CB Darius Winston. Sam Webb fluff from the Detroit News.
FL CB/QB Mywan Jackson. Apparently Michigan will give him a shot at QB, and he expects to narrow by one school this week.
GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore. Video fluff:

SC S DJ Swearinger. Tennessee commit.

Don’t forget, Brandin Hawthorne and Vincent Smith are announcing on Saturday. Don’t be surprised if they both don Block-M caps.

Keep in mind, this is the first week that the recruiting update comes before some official visits. On the docket for this weekend: CA QB Tate Forcier and AZ DE Craig Roh.

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 8-22-08

Huge update this week. There is actually more that will have to wait to Monday because this update is so JAM-PACKED. Anyway, here’s the board.

Moved to Committed:
TX K Anthony Fera.

A kicker category to the board. Thanks, Fera, ya jerk. Maybe in the light of more recent developments, I shouldn’t be calling anyone committed to Michigan a jerk.

Moved from Committed:
VA QB Kevin Newsome.

New Information:
CA QB Tate Forcier. August 30th visit (info in header).
GA WR Braxton Lane. Skipping football this fall to focus on baseball. Sounds unlikely he’ll hit the gridiron in college.
NC OL Travis Bond. His official visit is set for October 25.
VA DE Will Hill. Fluff.
SC DE Chris Bonds. Michigan and Notre Dame won’t move into his highest group until after he has a chance to see campus. They are still in his top 5.
OH DE Tank Carradine. Does he have an offer? He’s been working on his grades.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has set up 5 official visits, despite planning a decision before any of them. If Michigan is his choice on August 30, expect him to either forget about the other visits or not be given all the priviledges (i.e. having a spot saved for you) of a true commit.
OK CB Gabe Lynn. His friend (and former UM target) David Gordon is trying to lure him to Arkansas. Lynn’s junior highlights.

PA WR Todd Thomas. He may have trouble qualifying. That may explain why Michigan never really seemed interested, despite his early love for the Wolverines.

MN WR commit Bryce McNeal is a speed prospect, but is currently too skinny to be considered speed and size. Paging Mike Barwis, who will have McNeal built like an All-American in no time flat.
TX QB commit Shavodrick Beaver welcomes competition. I was so much more into this article when there was someone in the class for him to compete with.

Recruiting changes from the developing Newsome situation outlined here. On the defensive end front, Michigan still really needs people. Though Tank Carradine is now reporting an offer, his recruitment remains under the radar, likely because of qualifying issues of his own.

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 8-1-08

FL CB Josh Robinson. He plans to take a Michigan visit (info in header).

New Information:
MN WR Commit Bryce McNeal. He had been planning to take visits, but is now completely solid to Michigan (audio).
FL CB Jayron Hosley. Michigan is among those recruiting him the hardest.
AZ DE Craig Roh. His top 5 will come out soon. My uneducated guess is that Michigan will be in it.
FL DB Mywan Jackson. Reacts (quite positively) to his Michigan visit.
MD DE Jason Ankrah. Michigan is in his top 7.
AR CB Darius Winston. Though he has backed off his remarks that Michigan leads, his high school coach thinks this is still the case.

FL DE Ryne Giddins. Down to a final 6 that doesn’t include Michigan.
NC WR Jheranie Boyd. Michigan outside of his final 10.
FL OL Andrew Carter. Illinois commit.

I urge you to listen to the Sam Webb Recruiting Insider podcast (linked above in the Bryce McNeal section) from WTKA. It provides a lot of good information, and I should really do a better job of listening to it myself (fortunately, VB super-commenter RJ usually helps me out if something particularly interesting is said). Also, Michigan is probably. looking to take a kicker in the class of 2009. The primary candidates are TX Anthony Fera and FL Brendon Gibbons, but the recruiting process for a kicker will be pretty short, so I won’t bother to add them to the board. Just keep those names in mind.

Posted under Recruiting