Trieu: Baron Browning tops star-filled cast at Michigan

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Baron Browning

Michigan’s official visit list for this weekend’s highly-anticipated game against Wisconsin averages out to a four-star recruit.

The list will include several players who are committed to other programs and a few kids the Wolverines are considered in the trail position for in their recruitments, so it will serve as an opportunity for Michigan to make up ground.

Five-star linebacker Baron Browning is one. Despite putting Michigan in his top group, analysts in his home state of Texas have Ohio State in the lead. The Buckeyes will receive the final visit from Browning before his Nov. 29 commitment date.

"My main thing is getting developed,” Browning said of his decision criteria. “I want to be a technician. I feel like there are a lot of areas I can be better in, so when I look into a school, I’m looking, as far as my position coach, if he can really develop me.”

A physical 6-foot-4, 230-pound prospect, Browning visited Michigan in the summer with his brother, Barry Browning Jr., who played for Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Browning is not the only five-star prospect expected to be in Ann Arbor this weekend.

Pensacola (Fla.) Booker T. Washington offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood was moved to the ranks of the elite after a dominant showing at The Opening Finals in July. An Alabama commit, his verbal is considered soft as he not only plans to visit Michigan, but Florida, LSU and USC after the season.

"Michigan has a need for offensive linemen and I really like the direction the program is going in,” he said.  I like coach (Tim) Drevno's track record with players too."

In addition to Leatherwood, Michigan also will have Aledo (Texas) offensive tackle Chuck Filiaga in for an official visit. Michigan was in the 6-foot-6, 335-pound senior’s top 10, but the official visit was not set up until recently. The expectation is that he will leave his home state, with USC a popular pick, but the Longhorns have risen of late and Michigan is now trying to do the same and move up his list.

Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills, a four-star prospect, will also be on his official to Michigan. He was scheduled to visit in August for the BBQ at the Big House but was unable to make the trip.

Of the official visitors, the two most likely, at this time, to end up in Michigan’s class are Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy center Cesar Ruiz and Paramus (N.J.) Catholic linebacker Drew Singleton; they both have been to Michigan multiple times before this weekend’s officials.

Players committed elsewhere expected this weekend, in addition to Leatherwood, are Miami Hurricanes verbal Chris Henderson, a four-star cornerback, Penn State safety commit Brelin Faison-Walden and potentially Arkansas running back commit Chase Hayden. Defensive end Donovan Jeter recently cancelled his official visits, including the scheduled Oct. 1 date for Michigan, after committing to Notre Dame on his visit to Sound Bend. At this time, the belief is that the firing of defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder will not change those plans.

In addition to Singleton, Michigan will have two other linebacker targets on official visits – Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar’s Shanon Reid and Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy’s Jordan Anthony. They will be joined by Bridgeton (N.J.) safety Markquese Bell.

Iowa City West wide receiver Oliver Martin will take his official visit to Michigan this weekend. Offered in the summer, Martin was in Ann Arbor for the BBQ at the Big House, but this will be his first time seeing a game at Michigan Stadium. He visited Notre Dame last weekend and the Wolverines are battling the Irish, home-state Iowa, Michigan State and Oregon for him.

In addition to these official visitors, a larger group of unofficial visitors is expected to make the trip. Many of them come from inside the state. Several Michigan commits, including defensive tackle Phil Paea, will also be in attendance.

California corner receives an offer

La Mirada (Calif.) cornerback Elijah Hicks (5-10, 170 pounds) was offered by Michigan on Tuesday morning. The Wolverines join a lengthy offer list that also includes Colorado, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and USC.

He officially visited Northwestern last weekend and will take an official to Notre Dame on Oct. 15. At this time, he has not set a visit up with Michigan.

More information

Baron Browning profile

Alex Leatherwood profile

Chuck Filiaga 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.