Here we are, the end of June. Right smack dab in the middle of summer, which represents a time of fun-in-the-sun for most civilians. For us die-hard sports fans, however, we are suffocating from a lack of sports related news. You can only watch diving catches in the out field on Sports Center so many times before figuring out the best way to gouge your eyes out (I’m a Tigers fan, but boy are these months long). With the lack in news, the next big thing to look forward to after the NBA Draft is The Opening, a Nike Sponsored, invite only football camp for the nations top prospects. Not only will one Michigan commit (Ian Bunting) and several targets (Touch The Banner) be in attendance, but one very important recruit will be making his decision during the event. That player, if you couldn’t already tell, is FL WR Artavis Scott.
Before diving into the discussion on Artavis Scott, I would first like to take a step back and look at the 2014 wide receiver picture. While trying to make this piece specifically on the 2014 recruiting cycle, I will say that WR recruiting for Michigan has been somewhat lackluster over the past few years, compared to other positions. We entered this class expecting Michigan to build on their recruiting momentum and land the blue chip receivers that they so desperately need. With three, potentially four spots for the group this year, let’s take a look at how Brady and co. have done so far.
Drake Harris debuted the wide receiver group in dramatic fashion. He committed to Michigan State on this day last year as a dual-sport athlete, visited Michigan, like, all the time, and then decommitted from the Spartans on March 11th. He then made the move that everyone expected, after switching his focus to only football, and committed to Michigan on April 14th. At 6’4” and 180lbs, Drake certainly fits the mold of a Blue Chip prospect. As the 3rd best receiver, and 39th best player nationally according to the 247Sports Composite, Drake is the complete package. He is noted for his smooth route running, deceptive speed, and ability to go up and get the ball. He will most likely play on the outside at Michigan, but has the speed to slide into the slot and create some interesting matchups inside. He is one of the top players in the state, and Michigan did exactly what they needed to do by protecting their backyard. Be excited, be very excited.
Only four days after Drake Harris joined the class, Michigan offered another in-state receiver in Maurice Ways. The offer wasn’t on the table long before the 3-star prospect jumped on it. Surprising no one with this move, the underrated WR quickly helped clear the picture for what to expect for this class. 247Sports has him listed at 6’4” and 195lbs, with a #62 ranking for WRs and #494 nationally. He may not have the star ranking that fans love to rave about, but don’t be misunderstood, Moe is a very big pick up for this class. I had an opportunity to see him perform at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, and had some very positive notes about the Detroit Country Day attendee.
First thing to note is that Moe in person looked at least all of 6’3”, and the 6’4” listing is very realistic. He also looks to be over 200lbs easily at this point, and seems to be a weight room regular. While Drake is the better prospect, Moe at this point would probably see the field first by having the better college-build. Since last season, he has really improved his footwork, and is all-around a more polished receiver. He looked quick in drills, and his hands were also very consistent. Moe represents another prospect for possession receiver that will also bring some speed to the area. I was happy to see him gain an offer back in April, and the hype has only built since.
With two spots filled and probably just one open, who will fill it? Let’s get the long shots out of the way first. Ideally from the long-shots group, Michigan would like to pick up OH ATH Marshon Lattimore. Kicker is, he plays for Glennville, which is Ohio State’s version of Cass Tech. Corey Holmes is a reported long-time Michigan fan, but it seems the coaches have recently decided to move in another direction, seemingly looking for a speedier, slot back. Malachi Dupre is a top-flight prospect with a Michigan offer, but a lack of mutual interest and Malachi being located in the heart of SEC country (LA), don’t expect anything to come of it.
Isaiah McKenzie was recently offered by the staff, but not much is known on the 5’8”, 160lb prospect from Fort Lauderdale, FL. 247Sports has him as the #145 WR, but that seems a little low given scholarships from schools such as Michigan, Notre Dame, and West Virginia. They have Isaiah with “Warm” interest in Michigan, along with five other schools. There’s not much more out on him regarding Michigan, but with the recent offer and mutual interest, he could be a player to keep an eye on down the road.
Breaking the mold of slot receivers left on the board is K.J. Williams, maybe? It seems like every week there is news on the staff either cooling on K.J., or still fully pursuing him. At 6’2” and 190lbs, he is definitely the biggest of the mentioned, realistic options. He is the 17th ATH and 216th player nationally according to the Composite. I took a look at his highlight tape a few months back, and didn’t walk away too impressed. He was good at everything, but nothing really jumped off of the tape. We have signed plenty of receivers that fit this mold in the past, and a change of pace receiver would be a much better compliment to Drake and Moe. However, he has been reported to having an exceptional summer on the camp circuit, so maybe my evaluation would be more optimistic if I were to see him now.
Another summer camp, another offer out to an under-the-radar prospect. Freddy Canteen was the player this time, although a few other prospects received offers as well, but they are irrelevant to this piece. Freddy is a student (we use the term loosely) at Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, MD. ECA is essentially an online school focused around a football program, so there are questions to how he could transition from that to a university like Michigan. Freddy is a 6’1”, 175lb WR rated as the 69th at his position and 551st nationally according to the 247Sports Composite. Much like Isaiah, there isn’t much out on Freddy. His school only played three games last year, so even footage is hard to come by. There is this little gem, put on by Freddy and his teammates at ECA though.
Freddy is noted for his exceptional footwork and route running, and from his short film looks to have the speed to play the position as well. Michigan is in his top group along with Rutgers and Tennessee, and he could be a very realistic option for Ann Arbor. The coaches got to see the young receiver first hand at their summer camp, so I would trust their evaluation over any of the recruiting sites. Depending on how things shake out with Artavis, Freddy would be my next probability to fill the position, and since the offer I’m starting to feel better and better about that possibility. There is someone I would like to see join the class over him though, and that is…
Artavis Scott, the Tarpon Springs, FL prospect is beyond my ideal player to round out WR recruiting for 2014. Coming in at 5’10’ and 175lbs, Artavis is 8th WR and 79th player in the nation. Simply put, Artavis is a playmaker. He is very explosive off the snap, runs sharp routes, and is an absolute nightmare in open space. Pairing him with Drake and a TE like Devin Funchess or Jake Butt, throw in a stud RB like Derrick Green and Michigan would have playmakers all over the offensive side of the ball. There really is no dispute about how bad Michigan fans want Artavis, it’s just a matter of how mutual the interest is. He has a teammate in 2014 OG Mason Cole already pledged to Michigan, and another one in 2015 WR George Campbell showing strong interest. At the beginning of their recruitment, it was stated that Mason and Artavis were a package deal, and while that could potentially be the case, it is far from certain. So what is there to know about Artavis’ decision?
The Opening is scheduled to take place from June 30th to July 3rd, and speculation has it that Artavis will announce his decision towards that back end of camp. His five finalists are Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami (FL), and Michigan. Until recently, Michigan was thought to be towards the top of that group, if not at the top, but that doesn’t seem to be the case now. Upon a reported great visit to Clemson, Artavis moved up his decision date to The Opening, moving everyone to believe that it’s because of the recent Clemson visit. The recruiting voices expressed on 247Sports’ site seems to support that belief, as Clemson now has 92% of the Crystal Ball predictions whereas Michigan only has 8%. Given the swing stated above, the outlook seems pretty bleak for Michigan. Add in the fact that Artavis backed off of the “package deal” statement after Mason committed to Michigan, and there is certainly skepticism in Ann Arbor. There are a few areas for hope though, and here they are:
- Michigan has been in on Artavis for longer, and Artavis has visited Michigan more times that Clemson.
- Artavis has one, if not two classmates heading to Michigan over the next couple classes, and they appear to have some influential power on Artavis.
- Artavis would be the only player that Michigan is bringing in at the slot WR position this year, and by far the best one of the group over the past few years.
- Artavis has been in constant contact with the other members of Michigan’s class, including super-recruiter Michael Ferns.
- While this is only speculation, the Clemson visit could have shown Artavis that Michigan is the right place for him, and motivated him to push up the decision date.
Keep in mind that we are trying to dissect a high schooler’s mind, and if recruiting has taught us anything, it’s that this process is anything but concrete. Chase Winovich made a close decision date after visiting Pitt, and although most had him ticketed to be a Panther, he ended up choosing Michigan. This is a completely different case, but there is still the very real potential that Artavis does the same. The only given is that which ever school he chooses will be getting an incredible athlete, which only makes this process more nerve-wracking. Stay tuned to BBR for the latest on Artavis Scott’s recruitment, as well as all things regarding Michigan recruiting.
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