2014 Recruiting: What’s Next? (Defense)

Michigan inked a very impressive 2013 recruiting class and the 2014 class in starting to take shape as well. So far the Maize and Blue have verbal commitments from Wilton Speight (3* QB – Virginia), Drake Harris (5* WR – Michigan), Juwan Bushell-Beatty (4* OT – New Jersey), Mason Cole (4* OG – Florida), Michael Ferns (4* LB – Ohio) and Brian Mone (4* DT – Utah). The Wolverines also picked-up Brady Pallante (NR DT – Florida) who received a greyshirt offer, which means he’ll count against either the 2014 class or the 2015 class depending on how the numbers shake out.

Defensive End (1-2)

Again, depth is being built especially at tDaShawn-Hand-Touch-the-Banner1he SDE position. WDE is coming along as well, but a blue chop pass rusher would go a long way into solidifying this unit.

Da’Shawn Hand – 6’5” 260lbs. Woodbridge, VA. The #1 guy on my board had a great visit back in March and has Michigan in his top 5 schools along with Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Hand is a absolute beast finishing his 2012 season with with 110 tackles, 16 sacks, 40(!!!!!) tackles for loss, two pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. He’s big enough and athletic enough to play either end position, or possibly even slide inside in pass rushing situations. He’s said a few times that the Michigan staff as a whole is his favorite, but the thought right now is that Hokies may have the slight edge. There is still a ways to go, but things look pretty good with Da’Shawn as of today.

Joseph Henderson – 6’4” 220lbs. Cleveland, OH. Michigan offered him a long time ago and things seemed to be a little hot at the time. He has visited UM at least 3 times, but I haven’t heard his name in quite a long time. In my opinion he’s waiting for an Ohio offer, so we’ll kind of see how it plays out over the next few months. He’d likely end up at the WDE spot, but might have enough athleticism to play the SAM position as well.

Lawrence Marshall – 6’4” 215lbs. Southfield, MI. The former Ohio commit will soon cut his list down to a few schools and although MSU might have a slim advantage, Michigan is right there as well. I’m not as high on him as some others, but he’s be a nice addition at the WDE spot. Marshall on weighs around 215 so a red-shirt would be likely.

Defensive Tackle (2-3)

Brian Mone – 6’4” 315lbs. Salt Lake City, UT.

Brady Pallante – 6’0” 270lbs. Naples, FL.

MMcDowell - MLiveI know I sound like a broken record, but the quality depth being build here is just awesome.

Malik McDowell – 6’6” 295lbs. Detroit, MI. Another beast of a kid who is still growing. I wonder if he’ll start being recruited as an OL down the road just because he’s so darn huge, but we’ll leave him as a DT/SDE for now. McDowell keeps his recruitment close to the vest and is pretty hard to read, but right now if I were a betting man I’d say Michigan has a pretty solid edge on teams like Notre Dame and Sparty. Last week he picked up two huge offers from Alabama and LSU so we’ll see if he visits the south in the upcoming months. I’m not sure why, but I don’t see him going too far from home.

Linebacker (2)

Michael Ferns – 6’3” 235. St. Clairsville, OH.

Maybe the deepest position on the entire team. Looking very strong for the future. With Ferns likely a MIKE, a SAM is the best case scenario for the second linebacker spot.

Noah Furbush – 6’3” 230lbs. Kenton, OH. Picked up a Michigan offer although I’m not so sure that it’s a committable one at this point. He looks like a solid player in his highlights, good at shedding blocks, good motor instinctive, not great speed. If the Wolverines lose out on Winovich he’s looking like the last feasible option at the SAM spot, at least at this point.

Kyron Watson – 6’0” 215lbs. East St. Louis, MO. A violent tackling machine. It will be interesting to see how this all goes, especially because the want of a SAM in this class. Kyron is scheduled to come on a visit on May 20th and if Winovich isn’t in the fold by then, a commitment would be quite likely. Would they take 3 LB’s?

Chase Winovich – 6’4” 205lbs. Jefferson Hills, PA. Grew up an Ohio fan and got his Buckeye offer a week before Michigan offered. He has visited UM twice and is coming up again on May 1oth for his third. Right now it seems like its 50/50 between UM and Ohio, so that final visit will be pivotal in his recruitment. He has longed claimed that Ohio is his “dream school”, but has yet to drop for the Bucks. IMO if he does not commit on that third visit in a few weeks he’ll be a Bucknut.

Cornerback (1-2)

A blue chipper who can cover half of the field would be HUGE for this team. A lock down corner could be the final piece of the puzzle for this defense.

Jalen Embry – 5’11” 180lbs. Detroit, MI. Jalen oJPeppers - Star Ledgernly has MAC offers at this point, but once he hits camps this summer that will likely change. Michigan could possibly jump in at some point, but if that were to happen it will probably be sometime in the fall. Just a name to keep an eye on.

Adoree Jackson – 5’10” 175lbs. Gardena, CA. Has consistently named UM as one of the schools that he is interested in. IF he does indeed make a trip to Michigan, it would likely be an official. By then, it could be too late for him.

Jabrill Peppers – 6’1” 210lbs. Paramus, NJ. Has a solid as can be top 6 of Michigan, Stanford, Alabama, LSU, Ohio and Notre Dame. Had a great time during his recent visit to AA. So much so that it catapulted the Wolverines to the top of his list. The one remaining visit that will for sure happen is a summer trip to Stanford, his former leader. After that visit happens we’ll all have a pretty good idea of where Jabrill is leaning. Peppers had long stated that he’d take a few officials and would make a later decision, but things have changed since that Michigan visit. He now says that he’s trying to bump the Stanford visit up to June and a choice could come shortly thereafter. Michigan has made a HUGE impression on him and are in great position.

Parrker Westphal – 6’1” 185lbs. Bolingbrook, IL. Ala Jordan Diamond and Laquon Treadwell, Westphal is the token Illinois kid who really likes UM, has visited Michigan 1,000 times and could potentially drop at any moment, but hasn’t for whatever reason. Apparently, his brother had a terrible recruiting experience and the family is just being cautious with the process which is understandable. Dollars to donuts Parrker ends up in the class, but I remain guarded. FWIW, neither Auburn or Ole Miss have offered.

Safety (1-2)

John “JuJu” Smith – 6’1” 185lbs. Long Beach, CA. Another very versatile athlete that UM is recruiting for safety. He has a current top five of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio, UCLA and USC and will take his time picking his school. Smith is currently concentrating on his track season and will worry about recruiting later. IF a trip to AA is in the cards, it will be this fall.

Montae Nicholson – 6’3” 200lbs. Monroeville, PA. Nicholson has visited AA a few times already and is quite familiar with the school. Things have been quite with him recently (been hitting a lot of camps), but he is planning on taking his time and possibly narrowing things down sometime this summer and I expect Michigan to make his short list.


Kalen Ballage – 6’2” 220lbs. Falcon, CO. Ballage is a freakish athlete who could be used at many positions on the field. I’m not sure if Michigan has decided where they want him at, but he could play running back, SAM or WDE maybe even more than that. The good news is that the Wolverines got in on him very early and kids don’t forget that. Hopefully UM can get him in on a visit in the near future.