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Last Visit Last Laugh?
The biggest name on campus this weekend is Brentwood (Tenn.) Ravenwood WR Van Jefferson. The former Georgia commitment just pledged to Ole Miss last weekend, but it wouldn’t come as a major surprise if the Wolverines were able to flip him one more time. And that’s despite the fact that that Maize & Blue just placed the call to him on Wednesday. One of the big reasons is his connection to the state of Michigan.
Jefferson’s father, former NFL wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, spent eight seasons (2005-2012) as an assistant for the Detroit Lions. The last five of those seasons he served as wide receivers coach. That time obviously encompassed many of the younger Jefferson’s formative years. He began his high school career at perennial power Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s before transferring to Ravenwood for his final two seasons due to his dad being hired as the Tennessee Titans receivers coach.
The other reason why a flip wouldn’t raise an eyebrow is this clearly isn’t Van Jefferson’s first rodeo when it comes to abrupt changes of course in recruiting.
“Jefferson surprised many when he committed to Georgia over Ohio State and Tennessee at that time,” Scout.com South Regional Manager Chad Simmons said. “I never saw him as a true Bulldog commitment. He just didn't seem all-in with Mark Richt and UGA, so when the Ole Miss talk started late in November, it was not a shock. He then visited UGA and Ole Miss officially the same weekend in December. That’s when it started looking like the Rebels had the momentum.”
“He then visited Oklahoma, while still keeping his name on UGA's commitment list, January 16. Shortly after that visit ended the word leaked out that he was all but a Sooner commit. A day later he officially decommitted from Georgia and seemed destined to be a Sooner. He held off. Then he tripped to Ole Miss unofficially last weekend. The night he returned, he committed.”
“You see the common trend here? Who he visits last he seems to lean towards. Michigan has the last visit, so that could be good for the Wolverines. Ole Miss may be tough to beat because we know mom is on their side. The dad favored Georgia, and the mom, Ole Miss. So who favors Michigan? We may find it soon. This one has had many twists and turns, so it would not be a shock to see one more wide turn before signing day.”
Better Chance of Flipping?
Jefferson isn’t the only wideout Michigan is trying to swipe at the last minute. Also on the receiving end of an offer earlier this week was one of the most-improved pass-catchers in the West, Gardena (Calif.) Serra standout Deontay Burnett. The three-star receiver has been committed to Washington State since July, but after an impressive senior year he turned the heads of other power five schools like Miami and Arizona State (who also offered this week).
Washington State coach Mike Leach immediately sensed the imminent threat Michigan posed and did his best to defuse it.
"(Leach) told me this is how recruiting works,” said Burnett to Scout.com’s Greg Biggins. “He said schools will come in late, but said (the Cougar coaches) have been with me the whole time. He also talked about the offense at Washington State and how wide receiver friendly it is. He said they don't throw the ball as much in the Big 10 as they will at Washington State, and I really need to think about that.”
And if that was Burnett’s only consideration Leach may have headed Michigan off at the pass. But it sounds like there will be more to it in the final analysis.
“I think (the Wolverines) are in a good spot,” said Biggins. “A lot of people are pushing Michigan on him… not just for football but the academics. He had a great home visit (with Michigan Thursday night) and he likes Drevno a lot. He's excited to meet with Harbaugh and if the visit goes well, I think they get him.”
The Wolverines are also looking to bolster their cornerback ranks in this class, and one of the best bets is this weekend’s third official visitor committed to another school, Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer defensive back Jarius Adams.
“Though he's been verbally committed to Rutgers since July, Adams is giving Michigan a strong look with National Signing Day just days away,” Scout.com Florida recruiting analyst Corey Bender said. “Jim Harbaugh and company have had the opportunity to sit down with Adams and his family for an in-home visit, and are hoping to seal the deal this weekend”.
“The Sunshine State native is considering Florida Atlantic as well, who he visited just two weeks ago, but I truly think it's a Rutgers/Michigan battle when it's all said and done. With the Wolverines getting the last crack at him, as well as getting him on campus to see where he would be living the next 4-5 years, I truly think they have a great shot.”
Flipping Without Visiting?
Another cornerback target the Wolverines would like to have had up on a visit is Prattville (Ala.) standout Keith Washington. The three-star Cal commit had already exhausted his official visits when Michigan came calling with an offer earlier this week, but the interest from the Maize & Blue definitely got his attention.
“I hadn't really looked at them at all,” Washington said. “Now that Harbaugh is there they are showing me some attention. They called me up and said hey we want to offer you. “I'm still on Cal on right now, but Michigan kind of jumped in the mix. But as of right now I'm still strong on Cal. But that's a big time offer.”
“I know it's a big time program. Michigan is a powerhouse program, but as of right now I'm still on Cal... committed to Cal. That's where I'm going to remain.”
Those words didn’t stop Harbaugh from dropping by Washington’s school late in the week.
“Coach Harbaugh came by and said some great things, but right now I'm still committed to Cal.”
Are the operative words, “right now?”
It’s a reasonable question considering the fact the he has flipped once already (Washington committed to Duke last summer before opening things back up in the fall).
As always, stay tuned.
-- Michigan commitment Jon Runyan is also official visiting Ann Arbor this weekend.
-- Long Beach (Calif.) Poly CB Iman Marshall cancelled this weekend’s visit to Oregon.
According to Greg Biggins the race for five-star Michigan target Iman Marshall has tightened up. For details, click here.
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