Trieu: Can Michigan flip big Ohio CB Tony Butler?

By Allen Trieu, Special to The Detroit News
Tony Butler

Ties to Michigan will help the Wolverines with cornerback Tony Butler, but the Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward junior told Scout's Bill Greene on Monday night that he is still committed to Pittsburgh, despite a Maize and Blue offer coming earlier in the day.

Butler's former high school coach, Rick Finotti, is now a director of football operations in Ann Arbor and put him on the phone with defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who broke the news to him.

"Coach Durkin said he was going to come out to the school this Friday, but he wanted me to know today that I had an offer from Michigan," Butler said. "It was a big offer to me, because Michigan is a great school, but I'm still committed to Pittsburgh. I need to talk to my mom and my mentor about this, because I know this is a great opportunity and probably tough to turn down, but I love Pitt."

The Wolverines have targeted some bigger defensive backs and Butler fits that mold. He is what colleges like because, in the event his natural position of cornerback does not work out, he has the length and size to move to safety. What has been made clear the last few months is that his improvement as a player has him as one of the Midwest's top prospects, no matter which position he ends up at.

"He's a bigger kid -- 6-foot-2, 195, almost 200 pounds, and I think he's being recruited by a lot of people as a corner, even though he looks like a safety, but he can flip his hips and cover," Greene said. "He was not as good last year up until about week 10, and they got into playoffs, and that five-week playoff run he was a difference-maker. He was tremendous."

After the season, Butler hit the camp circuit and recently ran up against one of Michigan's top targets at wide receiver, and once again showed his talent.

"I saw him at a camp in Cleveland," Greene said, "and he locked up (Farmington's) Desmond Fitzpatrick. Dez had some trouble with him. His size is a big asset, especially because he can play corner at that size, and if not, he can be a safety."

Ohio State will come to see Butler on Thursday, and a Buckeye offer could make things interesting, Greene thinks.

"He's committed to Pittsburgh and he really likes that staff and Pat Narduzzi's approach to defense; which kid wouldn't?" Greene said. "But an Ohio State offer would really be hard for him to turn down. I think Michigan will be a school that's hard to turn down. He wants to visit Michigan again, but he's going to honor his commitment to Pittsburgh at this moment. Still, I expect Michigan and Ohio State, if they offer, to be offers he will consider."

Stewart has additional offers from Illinois, Boston College, Iowa, Northwestern, Rutgers, Syracuse and more.

Wolverines offer another at Paramus Catholic

Michigan has been no stranger at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey the last few seasons. Jabrill Peppers is from Paramus Catholic, it's where Michigan is currently recruiting defensive tackle Rashan Gary, and current UM recruiting staffer Chris Patridge was the head coach there.

Now the Wolverines have offered junior wide receiver Donald Stewart, a sure-handed 6-foot-4, 185-pound target.

"Hopefully in May, my dad, my coach and I plan to make a trip to Michigan," Stewart said to Scout's Josh Newkirk. "I just want to take a tour of the facilities and the school. I know it's a great academic school. That's something that's going to be big part of my decision. I just can't wait to take a visit. I'm very excited right now."

First commitment in 2017 class

Michigan landed a commitment from Birmingham Brother Rice tight end Carter Dunaway, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound sophomore, and their first in the class of 2017. Dunaway's father Craig played tight end for the Wolverines and brother Jack is slated to be a preferred walk-on defensive end in the fall.

"I guess I always knew it would be Michigan," he said. "The offer was a surprise so I wanted to talk with my family first. I can't wait to be a Wolverine and follow in my brother and dad's footsteps."

Dunaway also played with Wolverine signees Alex Malzone and Grant Perry at Rice last season.

More information

Tony Butler profile

Carter Dunaway profile

Donald Stewart 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.