February 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Sam Webb

2012 recruit race on, and U-M has early edge on Chicago tackle

Jordan Diamond, a 6-foot-7, 278-pound junior offensive tackle from Chicago, already has a dozen offers to his credit, and more appear to be on the horizon. (Allen Trieu/Scout.com)

With signing day 2011 firmly in college football's rearview, the recruiting focus has shifted completely to the class of 2012. Verbal offers have already begun flying in for talented youngsters from coast to coast. That has certainly been the case for Chicago Simeon offensive tackle, Jordan Diamond. The 6-foot-7, 278-pound junior already has a dozen offers to his credit, and more appear to be on the horizon.

"He's one of only a handful of kids that we have as four-star prospects right now," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "I think he's at least in the conversation to go to five stars."

Diamond's talent became apparent to Scout.com analysts during a camp in Ann Arbor last February. Though only a sophomore at the time, Diamond shone brighter than many linemen one year his senior.

"Jordan Diamond made a case that he was the top lineman there," Trieu said. "He is built like an ideal tackle. He's long and lean and has athleticism to go with it. What was impressive about him was his nastiness. He was aggressive and really got into the opposing defensive linemen and looked to finish them. He still needs some technical work, but he has the tools to be a big-time college lineman".

Numerous college coaches agreed. In the subsequent months Illinois, Arizona, and Eastern Michigan extended scholarship offers. When fall rolled around the offer train picked up even more steam, with Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Notre Dame, and West Virginia entering the fray. Ohio State added its name to the mix just last week. Amid all those desirable options, though, one school holds the distinction of being his childhood favorite.

Michigan's edge

Said Diamond, "I'm most definitely still a fan of Michigan. No doubt about it -- Michigan is Michigan. I still enjoy watching those guys play. I'm in the process of getting some old film from Michigan. I'm really excited. They've got the old coaching staff back from when they won the national championship with Coach (Brady) Hoke.

"Coach Hoke came to (Simeon). He's a cool guy. He was kind of funny to me. He was telling a few jokes and got a little laugh in, but I didn't get a chance to hold a good conversation with him because of NCAA rules. When I get up there (for another visit) I will most definitely have a deeper conversation with him."

Hoke was also at Simeon to continue his courtship of Chris Bryant, a 6-5, 330-lb senior offensive guard. The Wolverines earned a commitment from Bryant, an accomplishment many believe will help Michigan land his young teammate. Diamond, though, warns against assuming his future is set.

"We talk about (going to the same school) all the time," Diamond said of he and Bryant. "A lot of people are saying that we are going to the same school just off the bat, but we also talked about being rivals with me maybe going to Ohio State, Wisconsin or Notre Dame. I'm just going to make my decision based on me on how I feel and just going by what is the best fit for me."

Spartans beckon

One school making a strong case for being that fit is Michigan State. A memorable campus visit to East Lansing last year combined with a strong rapport with former offensive line coach and new offensive coordinator Dan Roushar has the Spartans squarely in the mix.

"I really like Michigan State," Diamond told Scout.com. "Coach Roushar and I have good communication, and I feel there is chemistry between us. I know Coach Roushar is a great coach and he's capable of getting player into the league (NFL).

"I know that is a long way off, but you have to feel you can achieve your goals. I think a lot goes into the love a coaching staff has for its players. There will come times when you need to lean on your coaches, and I feel Coach Roushar is the type of coach I'll be able to go to and do that with. I've heard really good things about all the Michigan State coaches and look forward to learning more about them."

Return visits to Michigan State, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Notre Dame are all in the cards. Diamond also plans to venture out to as many other campuses as he can, all in an effort to thoroughly evaluate the programs and coaches courting him.

"I'll probably get a better feel on where I want to go just before the season or right after the season," he said. "The first part of the decision has got to be, am I comfortable there. I've got to find the right spot. Am I comfortable? Whatever places makes me the most comfortable, hands-down is going to be in the top five.

"Tradition plays a (part). Coaching staff and the players (do also). I've got to see what the players are like. If I can't build a relationship with these players, I can't play there. And I'll go anywhere to find what I'm looking for. I'm a family-oriented guy and I would love to stay home, but if it is far away and if it is in my heart to go get away, then I just might have to go."

The most likely scenario has this Windy City star playing his college football somewhere in the Midwest.

"It is kind of hard to make a top (list) right now, but I'm going to give it to you," Diamond said. "Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State and Notre Dame. As of right now, to be honest, everything is even. I got to compare Michigan to everybody else and I got to compare Wisconsin to everybody else, I got to compare Ohio State to everybody else."

"It is just even right now until I can compare everybody to (one another)."

Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA.

More Sam Webb