Trieu: Michigan tries to sew up prime talent in recruiting

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Cesar Ruiz

Michigan’s regular season is now complete and the Wolverines await their bowl destination. The high school football season is also finished or winding down in many states, and with the contact period beginning, recruiting season is now in full swing.

December will be a key month for Michigan as there will be important visits as well as recruits committing.

Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy center Cesar Ruiz is planning to announce a commitment on Dec. 18. While he left room for that announcement to be pushed back to the Under Armour All-American Game, most expect the choice to be Michigan when it happens. Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh visited IMG on Tuesday.

El Cerrito (Calif.) offensive tackle Aaron Banks will commit on Dec. 9. Michigan will be at his school on Thursday. He took an official visit to Michigan already and might take one more before that commitment date. He has Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, USC and others on his list.

While a specific date is not set yet, Cheshire (Conn.) Academy wide receiver Tarik Black said a commitment announcement will come in “the next two or three weeks.” Fellow wide receiver targets Oliver Martin and Donovan Peoples-Jones could be announcing their decisions this month, as well.

Peoples-Jones said following Detroit Cass Tech’s state title game that “in the next month” was his target for making a commitment. An early-enrollee, he has more of a limited schedule than prospects who will not enroll in college this January.

Donovan Peoples-Jones

The same goes for Detroit King cornerback Ambry Thomas, who will also enroll early. Like Peoples-Jones, he won a state title over the weekend and will now be able to focus his efforts on coming to a decision before January enrollment.

Then there are the official visits.

Five-star, national No. 1 recruit Najee Harris, a running back from Antioch (Calif.), will take an official visit on Dec. 10, the same day fellow five-star Californian Darnay Holmes, a cornerback, has tentatively scheduled an official. Mobile (Ala.) defensive tackle Neil Farrell, who is committed to LSU, will also be there that weekend, and word is, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic linebacker Drew Singleton could visit then, as well.

In addition, two Michigan commits, safety J’Marick Woods and cornerback Benjamin St. Juste, who both visited other programs, are re-announcing their intentions. Both are expected to stick with Michigan. St. Juste, an Old Montreal native, took an official visit to Virginia Tech last weekend and Woods, from Florence (Ala.), visited Mississippi State.

With plenty of movement expected in the next few weeks, there could easily be decisions made that are unexpected, with new prospects coming onto the radar.

Twelve of Michigan’s 29 commitments in last year’s class came in December and January, and it was around this time that new names like Eddie McDoom, Joshua Uche, Michael Dwumfour and others went from off the Wolverine radar to suddenly on it.

Hold on to your hats, the home stretch to National Signing Day begins now.

Coaches start close to home

While Harbaugh made his way to IMG Academy on Tuesday and defensive coordinator Don Brown was headed to Connecticut to see offensive tackle commit Andrew Stueber, the Wolverine staff began this contact period in their own backyard.

Much of the staff was in Detroit on Monday. Among their stops was at Detroit King, where Thomas is a key piece of the 2017 puzzle.

Brown was at Dearborn Divine Child, where 2018 legacy defensive end Aidan Hutchinson holds a Michigan offer and quarterback Theo Day is a prospect Michigan is evaluating, as well.

Offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Tim Drevno was at Detroit Catholic Central. Among the prospects there are juniors Matthew Young and Cameron Ryan, both fullback-linebackers, and sophomore quarterback Austin Brown.

Committed prospects Phil Paea of Berrien Springs and Corey Malone-Hatcher of St. Joseph were also visited.

There will be a dead period of no official visits or in-school visits from coaches between Dec. 12 and Jan. 11.

More information

Aaron Banks profile 

Cesar Ruiz profile 

Najee Harris 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.