Recruiting involves a lot of plot twists. A lot of sudden momentum for one team. A few decommitments. And a whole lot of drama.
During April, a lot of readers have questions about which players ultimately will choose Michigan.
The easy answer: We simply can’t predict who will have a ton of interest in the Wolverines come fall, winter or even this summer.
A lot of times, it’s sudden. Often, it’s a hastily scheduled visit that leads to a recruit’s newfound interest once he leaves campus.
We could go on and on with what can happen, but instead, let’s just tell the story of three players from Michigan’s 2017 class who weren’t believed to be considering the Wolverines in April 2016.
They wound up as Wolverines.
The point? To show how wild recruiting can be. That 5-star recruit that Michigan isn’t in on right now could end up committing by next month, the fall or even National Signing Day. It’s not easy, but trust the process.
Anyway, here are the three big names.
Lee County (Ga.) 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon commits, decommits, commits again
The obvious one is Aubrey Solomon, who last April was a 4-star defensive tackle with a national ranking of just over 200. By the time he committed to Michigan on National Signing Day in February, he was a 5-star, ranked inside the top 25 players in the country.
He committed to the Wolverines twice: once in July during a visit, and once in February, after having decommitted in August.
In April 2016, he didn’t even know he had an offer from the Wolverines. Seriously. Solomon didn’t know that he had the opportunity to commit to Michigan if he wanted to.
Sure enough, he traveled to Ann Arbor with his 2018 teammate Otis Reese – who remains committed to Michigan – and both committed to the Wolverines during that unofficial visit last July.
Often, getting a commitment from a player who didn’t have you on his radar takes a lot of work. But, for Solomon, once he found out he had an offer during his visit, he committed just a few hours later.
Of course, Michigan would have to work very hard to get him to commit again over Alabama and Georgia.
And this time last year, he probably didn’t even know that yellow is actually maize.
Aledo (Texas) 4-star OT Chuck Filiaga commits to Michigan during Army Bowl
A lot folks called this – outside of Solomon and Donovan Peoples-Jones – the most important commitment of the 2017 class.
And this one was an even bigger surprise than Solomon.
Chuck Filiaga was offered by Michigan in March 2016 – and he knew he had the offer – but nothing serious ever stemmed from it.
When I was in Atlanta for the Rivals 5-star Challenge in June, I had the chance to watch Filiaga live and interview him. During that interview, the California native who had moved to Texas earlier that summer was leaning toward USC, while still keeping serious interest in Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
Michigan’s offer was there, too, but I walked away from my talks with him that week thinking there wasn’t much of a shot for any school outside of those four listed for Filiaga.
Sure enough, Filiaga took an official visit to Michigan in October for the Wisconsin game.
That didn’t surprise me. He had seen the Texas schools, and could see them at any time, being so close to them now. And, being from California, he had seen enough of USC, too.
But, he hadn’t seen Michigan, and an official visit would allow him to do so for free.
He had a good one-on-one relationship with offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, who visited his school right before his junior season. The relationship, however, wasn’t anything we thought could win a recruit over.
Then, Filiaga visited Ann Arbor. He walked through the tunnel, and waiting for him was Drevno, who greeted him with a hug. And Filiaga looked around, looked at the gathered media, and did what he does best: flashed that big smile.
After that Ann Arbor visit, Filiaga was wrapped up. We knew he was going to inevitably decide on the Wolverines. And he did during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Quite the turnaround from barely mentioning the Wolverines in interviews earlier that summer.
Beaver Falls (Pa.) 4-star DL Donovan Jeter commits to Michigan days after decommitting from Notre Dame
Donovan Jeter was offered by Michigan in late February 2016. Michigan wasn’t scarce during the recruitment of Jeter. In a phone conversation with him in the early summer, Jeter expressed his interest in his NFL potential in Ann Arbor and talked about his good relationship with defensive line coach Greg Mattison.
But, in a list of his 10 top schools, Michigan sat in the bottom half, trailing the schools we thought had the best chance to land him: Notre Dame, Pitt, Penn State and even Alabama, which offered late but wound up in his top group.
On Sept. 19, Jeter committed to Notre Dame, two days after his visit to South Bend.
At that point, Michigan wasn’t really awaiting his decision. The focus was on other defensive linemen, as we all realized that Jeter wasn’t destined for Ann Arbor.
On Oct. 18, just about a month later, Jeter decommitted from the Irish. And, suddenly, the Wolverines had another shot.
That following weekend, on Oct. 22, Jeter visited Ann Arbor for Michigan’s game against Illinois. The next day, he committed to the Wolverines and enrolled early in January.
So, remember, it’s April and it’s recruiting. Anything can happen.