Army All American linebacker Kris Frost plans to announce he choice between Michigan, Auburn and LSU on Saturday. (Allen Trieu/Scout.com)
The 10th annual Army All American Bowl kicks off in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday featuring many of the nation's most talented football prospects. At one point Michigan had commitments from two of the game's participants and was being considered strongly by three others. Now that Rich Rodriguez has been fired, where do the Wolverines stand?
Meanwhile, Michigan State target Aundrey Walker has been one of the more impressive linemen during practices this week. We discussed those topics with Scout.com midwest regional manager Allen Trieu, who is on the ground in San Antonio this week.
Sam Webb: Almost immediately after Rodriguez was fired Wednesday, we got word Army All American linebacker Lamar Dawson dropped the Wolverines from his list. Who is the other Army All American linebacker that the Wolverines are in on, Kris Frost? What did he have to say about Rodriguez's removal?
Allen Trieu: "He said it would definitely have some effect. It would have to. But he also is in a unique situation in that he started coming up to camp at Michigan before (Rich) Rodriguez was even there. He has always had Michigan on the brain and that was a school that he always wanted to go to. Obviously he would like it if Rodriguez was there, but you have to look at a school for more than that. I think it is going to have some effect but not too much. I still think Michigan is still the leader for him going into his Saturday decision."
Sam Webb: So you still expect him to make a decision on Saturday?
Allen Trieu: "Yep and he confirmed (Tuesday) that he would still be announcing between Michigan, Auburn and LSU at the game."
Sam Webb: How has he looked during practice?
Allen Trieu: "Kris Frost looks really good. I would say he is in contention for maybe the most athletic linebacker on the East squad. He is very fluid. He is able to drop into coverage. You can see where playing a lot of wide receiver has helped him in that respect. He has also stuck his nose in there and made a couple of big hits. He is not as big and maybe not quite as physical as a couple of the other guys, but he stands out athletically from this group."
Sam Webb: How has Michigan commitment Blake Countess looked?
Allen Trieu: "Blake Countess has been very good. I think he is one guy whose stock is up. The other analysts really like him too. Physically he does not stand out when you watch the defensive backs walk out of the locker room, but he has some of the best feet and some of the best technique out of any of the DBs here. A couple of times his lack of height has let a couple receivers outjump him, but he is always in an opponent's hip pocket. He can run with the fastest receivers here. He was able to keep up with five-star wideout Sammie Watkins on the field, which is impressive. I expected Sammie to blow right by him and Blake stayed with him and has done really well. That's the other thing that I've really liked about him is that he has jumped in there and really wanted to take on the best guys, Charone Peake, Sammie Watkins, all the five stars. You always see Blake jumping in there for reps against those guys. Plus he's a good kid. He's not talking trash on the field, that kind of thing. There is a lot to like about Blake Countess."
Sam Webb: Countess said long before Rodriguez's firing that he would stick with Michigan regardless. Is he standing by those words?
Allen Trieu: "Yes he is. He has been very brief about it, simply stating that there is going to be no change for him. He loves Michigan. It is where he wants to go. He picked it for more than the coaching staff and that's it there. There is nothing else to talk about. He has been very short and to the point that he is going to stay committed."
Sam Webb: How has Michigan target Wayne Lyons looked down there in San Antonio?
Allen Trieu: "Wayne Lyons has had a very good week. He's arguably been the best defensive back on the East team. You can definitely make that argument. He is a very physical kid. We came into the week projecting him mostly as a safety. He's shown that he could potentially play corner at the next level, though safety is probably still his best position. He is definitely the most physical defensive backs on the East and he has been one of the better ones in coverage all week.
Sam Webb: He's another one that planned to announce his decision this weekend. With the uncertainty at Michigan and Stanford -- two of his finalists -- do you still think that is going to be the case?
Allen Trieu: "I think he is definitely announcing this weekend. We have had a chance to talk to not only him, but his mom who is also down here and it sounds like the finalists will be Nebraska, Stanford, UCLA and Michigan."
Sam Webb: How much of an impact do you think the Rodriguez news has had on him?
Allen Trieu: "A big impact, actually. They said it would have an impact. I think it may be significant enough where he definitely will not choose Michigan now. I think that affects him more at the last second than a kid like Kris Frost who has really been moving towards a decision for quite some time now."
Sam Webb: If you had to guess on a leader for Lyons based on your conversations with him over the last few days, who would it be?
Allen Trieu: "I think it is either Stanford or UCLA. Coming into the week, I would have said Stanford, but now that there is coaching uncertainly with them, I think that that hurts them as well. I think it may be a little bit of a surprise, but UCLA would be the school he picks if I had to guess today."
Sam Webb: Dee Hart threw a little bit of a curveball down there in San Antonio this week saying that he was still committed to Michigan. What do you make of that?
Allen Trieu: "I think he is just creating last-minute suspense so that he can announce on Saturday and it'll still be 'must see TV' when he announces. I think word got out there about him switching his commitment to Alabama a little too quickly. I don't think he was ready for anything to be posted yet. I think the kid is just playing a little bit of a PR game at this point and will announce his commitment to Alabama (during the game)."
Sam Webb: Michigan State is strong with Cleveland (OH) Glenville lineman Aundrey Walker. How has the big man looked in practice this week?
Allen Trieu: "Aundrey Walker has been a very pleasant surprise. He is one of the guys that has impressed the most and has helped himself the most. I think he has played up to the level of competition here. Sometimes in high school we felt that he didn't always give maximum effort. Down here he is playing hard and showing that he can handle any of the defensive tackles on the East, which includes the nation top defensive tackle, Tim Jernigan."
Sam Webb: What do you think of Spartans' chances with Walker?
Allen Trieu: "He said that Ohio State was his No. 1 and then he kind of went back on it. I think Michigan State is right there with him, too, and those are the two that have the big lead on everybody else. I think Michigan State has a shot, but I still think Ohio State is the team to beat. If it is going to be anybody other than Ohio State, it will be Michigan State. I should also add that Walker said he was going to take an official to Michigan on the (January) 21st, but if Rodriguez was let go that he would consider taking it somewhere else. So we'll have to follow up with him, but if Rodriguez was let go then he probably wouldn't take it."
The Army All American Bowl takes place Saturday and will be broadcast live on NBC at 1 p.m.
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA