Trieu: Harbaugh makes run at 5-star CB Iman Marshall

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

One of the first big splashes made by new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh on the recruiting trail was getting Iman Marshall (6-2, 195 pounds), a five-star cornerback from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly and one of the nation's most sought-after high school prospects, to set an official visit to Ann Arbor.

"I'm tripping to LSU and Florida State in January, but I've also decided I'm going to Oregon and Michigan," Marshall told Scout's Doug Kimmel at last week's Under Armour All-American Game. "My dad talked to Coach Harbaugh (last Tuesday) and I'm definitely interested in seeing what he is all about."

With visits left to take and places left to be seen, Marshall is planning on using all of the time he needs to make a commitment.

"I'm going to take these visits and then I'll make a decision and announce on Signing Day," he said.

While most analysts still consider the Wolverines behind other programs in Marshall's recruitment, getting him on campus is the start of making a serious run at what would be a major addition for Michigan. The class currently has only one defensive back commitment, Ohio native Tyree Kinnel, and he is projected to play safety, so a true cover corner like Marshall is a big need.

How good is he? Longtime NFL head coach Herman Edwards coached him all last week at the Under Armour game and offered high praise afterward.

"He's a special talent," Edwards told Kimmel. "There's a lot to like about him. His ball skills have been impressive. Marshall is a tough kid that plays with physicality. What I really like about him is he is always asking me and the other coaches good questions. You know a kid wants to get better when they are picking your brain. He'll be a good pickup wherever he goes."

Will that be Michigan? The odds still favor him staying closer to home, but there is little doubt that the addition of Harbaugh has greatly increased the Wolverines' chances.

"Coach Harbaugh going to Michigan is a game changer," Marshall said. "Obviously, he knows what it takes to get to the highest level. He has changed Stanford and the 49ers around."

Marshall is currently ranked as Scout's No. 2 cornerback and No. 11 player overall in the country.

Latest with Wheatley Jr.

For much of the early part of his recruitment, it seemed like only a matter of time before Buffalo (N.Y.) Canisius Prep tight end Tyrone Wheatley Jr. would commit to Michigan. But that speculation dwindled as schools like USC, Oregon, Alabama and UCLA rose up his list.

(Wheatley took an official visit to USC in December, and Oregon, Alabama and UCLA are on the schedule for this month.)

However, with news that his father, former Michigan running back great Tyrone Wheatley Jr., interviewed for a spot on the new staff in Ann Arbor, the questions about Wheatley Jr. and his interest in the Maize and Blue have started up again.

"I haven't really talked to them since the old staff left," Wheatley told Scout's Brian Dohn at last week's Semper Fidelis game. "Coach Harbaugh has a good track record. I don't know him personally, he hasn't recruited me, but they'll have a new staff, so I'll see what happens there."

Cole, Harbaugh connect

Michigan welcomed two freshmen from the 2015 class to campus early this week as quarterback Alex Malzone (Birmingham Brother Rice) and wide receiver Brian Cole (Saginaw Heritage) enrolled, went through orientation and started class in Ann Arbor. The two will room together and go through workouts, spring practices and play in the spring game with the rest of the team.

Cole's father, Brian Cole Sr., told Scout that he spoke with Jim Harbaugh and the plan is for his son to begin at wide receiver, but the door was left open for the possibility of him playing elsewhere.

Harbaugh reminded the Coles that Richard Sherman, who Harbaugh briefly coached at Stanford, initially committed as a wide receiver before moving to defensive back. Cole played running back, wide receiver and safety in high school and competed as a defensive back in last week's Under Armour All-American Game, but is ranked by Scout as one of the nation's top wide receiver prospects.

More information

Iman Marshall profile

Brian Cole profile

Tyrone Wheatley Jr. profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.