Scout.com's Brandon Huffman on Dan Skipper: "He’s really flexible, has a lot of nasty, is really good in run blocking, and strong in pass protection." (Photo courtesy of Scout.com)
Michigan received some welcomed recruiting news Saturday when it added two more commitments to its 2013 class. The addition of Detroit Cass Tech stars Delano Hill and David Dawson, both four-star prospects, put the Wolverines back atop the recruiting charts.
Hill, the No. 24 safety in the country according to Scout.com, was previously committed to Iowa. Dawson, meanwhile, is the nation's eighth-best offensive guard and had been committed to Michigan for much of the year before opting to consider other schools last month.
With Dawson back in the fold, Brady Hoke and Co. again have pledges from five offensive linemen. That had long been mentioned as the positional limit for the class, but after the regular season concluded it quickly became clear that the coaches in Ann Arbor had reassessed their needs. They now appear open to increasing that threshold, and one of the newest targets is 6-10, 295-pound Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley tackle Dan Skipper.
A cursory glance at this talented youngster's measureables suggests he might be better suited for the basketball floor. Upon closer inspection, though, it quickly becomes clear that he is a football player all the way.
"Skipper is a mammoth offensive lineman, and for as big as he is, he surprisingly showed a good amount of athleticism and agility," said Scout.com national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman. "He's really flexible, has a lot of nasty, is really good in run blocking, and strong in pass protection. He's one of the rare big guys who plays like he's a tight end."
Seemingly because of his size Skipper did give basketball an obligatory try, but referees' penchant for calling him for an excessive number of fouls brought an abrupt end to his days on the hardwood.
"I never really enjoyed basketball," he explained. "I played last year in high school and that was the only year I played in high school. I was a little too physical (laughter). That's why I was always played football."
Change at Tennessee
It's atypical to find a gridiron prospect with Skipper's height that also possesses the athleticism, coordination and natural bending ability to play in the trenches. That's why some scouts believed Tennessee had gotten an absolute steal when it landed his commitment back in June. When the Volunteers fired then-head coach Derek Dooley last month, the three-star lineman decided to give other programs a look. That was all the opening Michigan needed.
"They came in after the coaching change (at Tennessee)," said Skipper. "Coach (Darrell) Funk came out to the school and we met with him. We got (the offer) confirmed the second time he was out before we set up the official. That was a few weeks ago."
"I like Coach Funk a lot. He is real straightforward."
That initial rapport with his would-be position coach went a long way toward convincing him to take one of his official visits to Michigan. Because the Wolverines weren't previously involved in his recruitment, he was largely unfamiliar with the program. That changed when he made his way to Ann Arbor last weekend.
"The Michigan visit went really well," Skipper told Scout.com. "I got in, watched practice, went out with some of the guys, and hung out with all of the recruits. The next morning, got up, saw central campus, watched practice, and sat down with Coach Hoke.
"I also met with the engineering folks. I liked them. They have an engineering lab specifically to help engineering students that are athletes and they had all these positive things that they are doing. They have everything lined up for each specific major and I liked the diversity of those majors.
"I like the academic side of things and the coaches. The players were really nice and I like a lot of the commits, so there's a lot to like there. My highlight was probably just seeing it all. It's a prestigious Michigan program (that's) full of history."
A number of Michigan's commitments were also on hand and they did their part to make Skipper feel at home. Running back pledge Deveon Smith was particularly interested in helping lure big linemen into the class.
"He is huge," said Smith. "Me and him bonded a lot. We were having fun; we were really clowning. I honestly think he is going to come (to Michigan). I hope and pray that he comes. That's a big boy and we're definitely going to need him on the offensive line. Hopefully he commits. We were all talking to him about it."
While his prospective coaches and teammates presented a compelling case, he still wasn't quite ready to switch his allegiance.
"I am committed (to Tennessee), but still open-minded to other schools," he told Scout.com. "(Tennessee offensive line) coach (Don) Mahoney came out. I liked him; he's a nice guy. And I've talked to (new Tennessee head) coach (Butch) Jones a few times, so it's just about building those relationships again.
"Right now I'm just trying to keep it open, build a relationship with the new staff, and go from there. I'm going to visit Ole Miss and Arkansas for sure."
Skipper currently plans to trip to Arkansas Jan. 11 and Mississippi Jan. 25. In the meantime he'll be gearing up to play in the Offense Defense All American Bowl on Dec. 30 and pondering the criteria that will help him determine his college home.
"A lot of it is going to be the atmosphere on the campus, the people, the players, the coaching staff, as well as it being a good academic fit," Skipper said. "Do they have the major that I'd like to do? It has to be the total package and not just something I choose for 13 or 14 games a year.
"(I'll commit) whenever I know that it's right, and it's the best choice for me."
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA.