The Wolverine

June/July 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 57   MICHIGAN RECRUITING Kenyatta Watson both picked up Michigan offers May 2. Morris is a four-star offensive tackle measuring 6-5 and weighing 265 pounds. Wat- son is a rangy 6-2, 168-pound corner- back built in the exact mold as most of Michigan's other defensive back targets. The third offered Grayson sopho- more standout, Kevin Harris, might be the most intriguing of the trio as a 6-5, 206-pound outside linebacker. He's starting to gain a lot of mo- mentum on the recruiting trail, and Michigan is one program that took recent notice. Michigan inked two-star running back Kurt Taylor out of Grayson in 2017, which could've been as much about forming inroads into the pow- erhouse program as it was about landing him. Kennesaw (Ga.) Mountain sopho- more tight end Ryland Goede and Powder Spring (Ga.) Hillgrove four- star sophomore cornerback Jalen Mc- Collough also picked up offers from Michigan May 3. Goede goes 6-7, 240 pounds, and McCollough measures in at 6-1, 190 pounds and is a rangy, physical prospect at cornerback. Rivals.com Southeast recruiting analyst Woody Wommack lives in the Atlanta area and has seen first hand what Harbaugh and his coaches are doing in the state of Georgia, and can't help but be impressed with the efforts. "Michigan has made the state of Georgia a priority over the past few recruiting cycles and now all that hard work is starting to pay major dividends," Wommack said. "It's easy to say that you're going to push into an area and throw out some of- fers, it's another to actually sign elite talent out of the state. "After nabbing Aubrey Solomon in the 2017 class Michigan is start- ing even earlier, offering several 2019 players in the state, including those at traditional powerhouse Grayson. Often times being one of the first schools to offer goes a long way, and Michigan is doing a nice job with early evaluations and handing out offers to prospects who are likely to be elite down the line." Rivals.com analyst Chad Simmons also specializes in covering the state of Georgia, and he too touched on what it means to recruit a school like Grayson. "Grayson is loaded," Simmons said bluntly. "They went 14-1 a year ago and won the state title. They lost numerous players to Clemson, Duke, Georgia, South Carolina and other top programs, but they will have even more Division I prospects on the 2017 team. The scary thing is, many are in the 2019 class, so Gray- son will be loaded for at least two more years. "Michigan has currently offered four in the 2019 class, four-star line- backer Owen Pappoe, along with Morris, Watson and Harris. All of them are likely four-stars down the road. "I could see Jim Harbaugh offering at least one or two more at Grayson before too long, and if he could con- vince one to join him up north, it could have a big ripple effect." Harbaugh is definitely making big waves down south and Simmons has seen it first hand. "There is no doubt Michigan is more popular in Georgia than it probably ever has been in the dot- com era when it comes to football recruiting," Simmons stated. "It started almost a year ago with Jim Harbaugh when he headed south for multiple satellite camps in the Peach State. One of those was at Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County. It wasn't long after that camp that Aubrey Sol- omon and Otis Reese, star players at Lee County, visited Ann Arbor and committed to the Wolverines. That is what started it all. "Fast forward to now, and Michi- gan is sending offers almost daily over the last couple of weeks to pros- pects in the state." Simmons explains how word is starting to circulate more and more down south, and said that Har- baugh and at least one of his assis- tant coaches have definitely created a buzz down in SEC country. "I am constantly on the road at high schools, and I talk to at least a couple of coaches from Georgia daily over the phone or through text mes- sages and Jim Harbaugh and Michi- gan come up often," Simmons said. "Another name I hear a lot of is Chris Partridge. He is doing an ex- cellent job recruiting kids down this way. "The way Harbaugh and his staff recruit is well liked and respected here, the way he handles his players is noticed and the trip he took his players on to Italy is being talked about as well." While both Wommack and Sim- mons specialize on covering the state of Georgia, they also have their ear to the ground in much of the South. Simmons explains how Harbaugh's efforts are paying off in other areas south of the Mason-Dixon Line as well. "Overall in the South, Michigan is doing an excellent job of identifying talent early and not being slow to offer. They are making a lot of noise in this part of the country," Simmons explained. "Kids are excited about Michigan. They all know about Har- baugh's success at the highest level, and each kid speaks highly of the Wolverines. "Let's see how many more Har- baugh and Co. can pull out of the South in the coming years. He is off to a great start." ❏ On The Web For regular reports on Michigan football recruiting plus videos of U-M commitments and targets visit TheWolverine.com. Kenyatta Watson — a rangy 6-2, 168-pound cornerback who is currently committed to Florida State — is one of three Loganville (Ga.) Grayson prospects that picked up a U-M offer this spring. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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