With the Michigan coaching staff set to coach and attend camps all over the globe, it is clear Jim Harbaugh and company want to leave no stone unturned in recruiting.
The class already has some international flavor to it in the form of Canadian cornerback Benjamin St. Juste, and now the Wolverines look at add another top prospect from north of the border, defensive end Luiji Vilain.
Michigan has always had some success recruiting Canada with Tim Biakabatuka and Alain Kashama among the notables who have come south to Ann Arbor.
Vilain, originally from Ottawa and now at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., visited the Wolverines on Saturday. He had already been to Ann Arbor as a young prospect, but is now nearing a decision and the Wolverines likely got the last at-bat visit-wise before he announces his choice, and they hit one out of the park during it.
“I came in with high expectations, but I was still pretty blown away,” Vilain said. “It was really good. Everything was different. The vibe as soon as I get there, I felt that it was different. There’s change. I guess that’s the Harbaugh effect.”
The Wolverines now await his decision, which is likely to come early in June after he returns home to Canada and consults with his parents and his trainer, Victor Tedondo of Gridiron Academy.
Michigan is in his top three along with Virginia Tech and USC, two schools he has also visited and holds a close relationship with their respective staffs.
He noted that one of the highlights of this last visit to Michigan was his sit-down with defensive coordinator Don Brown. Among the topics they covered was how Vilain would be used in Brown’s aggressive scheme, which employs multiple alignments. The possibilities are plentiful, as an athlete of this size and skill can play just about anywhere.
“First of all, he’s all of 6-foot-4, 240 pounds,” Scout analyst Michael Clark says. “He’s one of the more physically impressive guys you’ll see at the high school level. He’s chiseled, super athletic, moves well, gets after the passer and can also play sideline to sideline. He’s the complete package at defensive end and might even be able to play outside linebacker in some schemes, but he’ll play at 260-270 and the sky’s really the limit.”
Clark also says Vilain is one of the more coachable kids he has come across in this cycle.
If he does choose Michigan, the Wolverines will add one more piece to a defensive line unit that has certainly received a boost in the last two recruiting classes.
“He’s a kid who’s going to be really hard to keep off the field,” Clark says. “It’s scary to think of him playing right beside Rashan Gary.”
Detroit cousins visit again
Michigan hosted Detroit Cass Tech safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell and Detroit King cornerback Ambry Thomas, both four-star prospects considered among the top recruits in the state, again on Saturday. Following the visit, Thomas reported to The Michigan Insider’s Josh Newkirk that the Wolverines were “at the peak” of his recruitment.
Among the highlights of the visit for Kelly-Powell was the opportunity to reconnect with a pair of former Cass Tech defensive backs who now patrol the secondary for the Wolverines in Jourdan Lewis and Delano Hill.
Neither player has a decision date set, nor do they have a narrowed-down list of schools, but Michigan is considered to be a top contender for both prospects.
Hudson one to watch
Scout analyst Bill Greene says Michigan fans may want to watch Toledo Central Catholic defensive end James Hudson closely over the next few weeks.
Hudson (6-5, 280 pounds), a recent decommit from Kentucky, was offered by the Wolverines on his recent visit and plans to return to Ann Arbor this summer after also visiting Tennessee, Miami and Alabama.
"My mom and dad were with me on the visit and they loved Michigan," Hudson said. "I would say Michigan was definitely one of their favorite schools."
A first team all-district selection a season ago, Hudson had 67 tackles (23 for loss) and 8.5 sacks as a junior. He also played left tackle on offense and could potentially project to offense in college, as well.
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.