Commit Watch on Huge Michigan Visit Weekend

All of the expected visitors are now present and accounted for in Ann Arbor and the Wolverines began their full-court press last night with dinner at the renowned Chop House.'s team of experts have helped lay out Michigan's standing with each prospect heading into the visits. At least one stepped foot on campus as a strong commitment possibility.

Strong Odds of Flipping?

Jake Pickard, DE, Millburn, N.J., 6-6, 235

The offer from Michigan earlier this week may have been the one Pickard was waiting for.  That’s saying a lot considering the soft Wisconsin commit also holds offers from Oregon and Nebraska. Then there is Boston College and Syracuse… options that aren’t as high profile as the aforementioned two, but much closer to home.  There are a host of other suitors as well, but according to East Regional Manager Brian Dohn, Pickard has long had a dream of becoming a Wolverine.  That dream might be on the verge of becoming reality.

“It all seemed so clear for Pickard a month ago, but then Gary Andersen bolted Wisconsin, Syracuse ramped up its pursuit and then Jim Harbaugh became involved as Michigan offered. So, where do things stand? Pickard has long wanted a Michigan offer, and when his recruitment began more than a year ago it was close to being a given, if the Wolverines offered, he would be go there. Fast-forward to the present, and Pickard, who visited Syracuse last weekend, is visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. If he gets off campus without committing it will be a major accomplishment for Wisconsin and Syracuse. If he doesn’t wind up at Michigan it will be a minor miracle.”

Sounds like a commit watch.

Reuben Jones, DE, Lakeland (Fla.) Gibson, 6-3/225

If Pickard is the most like of the visitors to wind up as a Michigan commitment, it appears that Gibson may be second on the list.

“Fresh off a de-commitment from Nebraska, Jones is spending the weekend in Ann Arbor after recently reeling a scholarship from the Wolverines,” Florida Recruiting Analyst Corey Bender said.  “he 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior met with Jim Harbaugh, D.J. Durkin and Greg Mattison at his school earlier this week and the visit reportedly went "well".  What makes it interesting is that Jones announced his separation from the Cornhuskers just shortly after having an in-home visit with head coach Mike Riley on Thursday night. Jones hasn't officially named a leader in his recruitment, but it's hard imagine another team having the momentum that Michigan does right now. Michigan State and Louisville are also in the mix for his final official visit.”

Making Sure Right Choice was Made

William Lockett, CB, Manvel (Tex.), 6-0/185

The UCLA pledge could not hide his excitement over the news of his recent Michigan offer.  The presence in Ann Arbor of an NFL coach in Harbaugh, numerous NFL assistants (including two in the secondary), and the aura of Michigan made visiting the Maize & Blue a no-brainer for him.  And Lockett recently made it clear that he would head into the visit totally open to the possibility of flipping.

“I’m not going to say there’s anything in particular that could change my mind,” said Lockett.  “I’m going to be looking at how the feel is.  How do I feel at Michigan? How does the school feel around me?  How do I feel being around my host… and just do I feel comfortable going to that school? “Playing time.  Could I see myself getting on the field as early as possible?  Another thing is coaches.  How do I feel with the Michigan defense back coach?  (Do I) see myself building a relationship with them over the next four to five years?  I know Michigan is a great school, especially for what I want to major in, which is business.  I really just want to sit down with my mom… my mom met with Harbaugh today... (and talk about) if I could see myself going there, playing there.

“Right now I’m committed to UCLA, which is PAC-12.  Michigan is Big Ten.  I‘ve I just got to feel if I can transition to that kind of football that kind of environment.”

Matt Snyder, TE, San Ramon (Calif.), 6-5/235

This Nebraska tight end commit only recently took himself off the market, but found an offer from Michigan’s new coaching staff too intriguing to dismiss without at least taking a look first.  But the Cornhusker pledge insisted heading into the weekend that Michigan has its work cut out for it. Harbaugh & company clearly weren’t/aren’t discouraged by that.

“(Nebraska) Coach (Mike) Riley and his staff have been recruiting me for a while now,” Snyder said. “I would really have to fall in love the place. Michigan’s academics have always been intriguing. And really just the coaching staff. They need a tight end. Not all teams utilize one. They would really just have to blow me away. I’m sure they can, but I really just have to go experience it for myself. It’s going to be a judgment thing.”

“(Harbaugh) said he’s running the same type of offense he ran at Stanford with the tight end’,” Snyder said. “He talked about the tight end’s he sent to the NFL and how he’s trying to build up a tight end Army again. That’s very intriguing and good thing to hear.”

Nolan Ulizio, OL, West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West, 6-5, 285

That new Michigan offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Tim Drevno green-lit offering this Connecticut commit over numerous higher-rated prospects speaks volumes.  The magnitude of Michigan’s program and prestige compared to the others on his list may make this seem like a no-brainer choice for Ulizio, but that’s not necessarily true according to Ohio analyst Dave Berk.

“Ulizio taking an official visit to Michigan is obviously great news for the Wolverines,” said Berk.  “The visit marks a decision to step away from Connecticut and an open up his recruitment.  The Wolverines get the first shot with Ulizio, but it is not a slam dunk, as Kentucky and Pittsburgh could prove worthy foes for different reasons.  Ulizio understands the educational aspects Michigan offers, but with a handful of former high school teammates already in Lexington, Ulizio could still make a visit to the Wildcats.  Pitt offers a home away from home as Ulizio’s father travels each week to the Steel City for work and he has several family members living in the area.”

Reagan Williams, FB.LB, Jackson (Ohio), 6-3, 235

Williams is no stranger to Michigan’s campus, having visited Ann Arbor last March for the Minnesota basketball game.  The Wolverines opted not to move definitively on him then or in the months to follow.  When Stanford came forth with an offer in July he jumped on it almost immediately.  He hadn’t thought twice about his collegiate future since.  Then Michigan offered late last week and it at least gave him brief pause.  But like Snyder he insists luring him away from the school he is committed to won’t be easy.

“Right now I’m committed to Stanford and just exploring my options at Michigan,” Williams said.  “I’d like to have a decision be made before signing day to go ahead and let everybody know and let them sign.  I don’t know if I’m going to need to make a decision yet because I’m committed to Stanford.  I love Stanford and I’m solid this, and this is just an exploration and to see if they can sway me.  I’d like to have the decision made before signing day.”

Ground to Make Up

Chris Williamson, CB/ATH, Gainesville (Ga.), 6-1, 185

Williamson ranks as the hottest recruit on the visit list. Once considered a Peach State sleeper, interest in Williamson has skyrocketed in recent weeks.  His offer list has eclipsed 20 and schools have been jockeying for position on his visit list.  It was a coup for the Maize & Blue to get on that list, but moving up his leaderboard will require an outstanding visit experience this weekend.  The key to that may be his personal interaction with Harbaugh.

“Entering this weekend UNC leads for Williamson,” South Regional Manager Chad Simmons said.  “He had a great visit to Chapel Hill last weekend and then met with Fedora and Chizik on Wednesday this week. Fedora the head coach is putting a lot of effort into Williamson’s recruitment and that is impressing him.

Williamson took an official visit to Cal in December, North Carolina last weekend, and it appears that Florida will host him January 30th. Auburn and Georgia are in it too.

Diamond in the Rough?

Markel Bush, CB, Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic, 5-10, 185

A true sleeper, the strength of Michigan’s interest in Bush will become clearer this weekend.  Is he a true option if the Wolverines whiff on other prospects? Time will tell.

“Bush is one Sunshine State native who caught many by surprise when he announced his intentions to visit the Wolverines,” said Bender.  “He has yet to receive his initial scholarship offer. Bush is a teammate of four-star defensive end Shelton Johnson at Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic High School. The two visited with coach Harbaugh earlier this week, and Bush quickly scheduled a visit for this weekend. In addition to the Wolverines, Bush is garnering interest from UCF and Minnesota on the recruiting trail. Brown shows good awareness and instincts on the football field and rarely gets beat deep. If Harbaugh decides to pull the trigger with an offer, I imagine another school will follow shortly after.”

Big Man on Which Campus?

Zach Gentry, QB, Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado

Gentry is by far the most intriguing visitor in attendance this weekend. Why did the Texas commit open the door for Michigan when he slammed it shut on the numerous suitors that knocked before the Maize & Blue?  The silence from Gentry’s camp has caused a great deal of speculation.

One of the rumors out of Austin has Gentry looking around because of a pending change in offensive philosophy to more of a spread option attack.  When asked about the merit of such talk,’s Jason Higdon didn’t hesitate.
“Zero,” replied Higdon when asked about how veracious those claims were.  “He is a passing QB and (the Longhorns) want to pass the ball.  Now… if they don't get a passing QB and they have a spread type athletic QB then they adjust. That is NOT what they are trying or wanting to do, and they will not do that if they get a kid who can pass.”
Of course the recent visit of Texas A&M dual-threat quarterback commit Kyler Murray. Could that explain Gentry’s sudden willingness to listen to Michigan?

“It has nothing to do with Murray,” Higdon insisted.  “Absolutely nothing to do with him and everything to do with Gentry. This is all on him listening to other people talk about the Texas offense.”

Whatever the reason, the Wolverines have taken advantage of it. They can’t offer him the distinction of being the only quarterback in the class (Alex Malzone is already enrolled), but they can offer him zero questions about offensive direction/identity and a head coach who himself a standout quarterback in college and the NFL, and has a track record for developing quarterbacks as a coach.  Will that be enough to sway him?

Higdon puts the odds at 50/50.

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for post visit reaction for each of these prospects. In the meantime premium members can get the latest on Michigan's pursuit of Ohio State running back commit Mike Weber here. Not a premium member, click here.

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