We’re getting in the thick of things for the 2017 recruiting cycle. With high school seasons heading toward the finish line, a lot of recruits are close to making a decision. Here’s the latest with Michigan’s never-ending recruiting news cycle.
Cesar Ruiz update
It has been 2-1/2 weeks since Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy 4-star offensive center Cesar Ruiz took an official visit to Ann Arbor for the game against Wisconsin — where he saw Michigan get a victory over a top-10 opponent for the first time in 10 years. A longtime Michigan lean, Ruiz made it public he enjoyed the visit with the usual tweet with a couple of pictures that most recruits do after visits.
Most fans and media alike had a lot of confidence in the Wolverines’ chances with Ruiz before the visit, and nothing during the trip seemed to change their minds after the visit. I didn’t want to report anything I wasn’t sure of after the visit, although my 247Sports Crystal Ball has read Michigan for Ruiz since April. However, I got in touch with a trusted source on Michigan’s side of things, and I left that conversation more confident than ever that Ruiz chooses Michigan on Dec. 19 — his commitment date.
Ruiz is the nation’s top-rated center and the No. 66 overall prospect nationally. He’s originally from New Jersey and transferred to IMG Academy in the summer of 2015, further strengthening the school’s standing to be a strong pipeline for Wolverines’ recruiting classes.
Chuck Filiaga wants to return to Michigan
I interviewed Aledo (Texas) 4-star OT Chuck Filiaga on my weekly podcast about his recruitment, and more specifically Michigan. Ask me a month ago how I felt about Filiaga’s recruitment, all I can think about is USC, and how the Trojans are the absolute best option for him.
I am now confident that if the recruiting cycle ended today that Filiaga would choose the Wolverines. He visited the same weekend as Ruiz, and that put a 180 on his recruitment. And it doesn’t hurt that his mother was a huge fan.
“I loved every second of my Michigan visit. I watched Coach Harbaugh when he coached the 49ers, so meeting him was crazy,” he said. “I can imagine myself being on the team, and in that environment.”
Filiaga added that he wants to visit Michigan again, and plans to if he can figure out the logistics. He’s not too keen on giving away details on his recruitment, so he added a long laugh, smirk, and a “yeeeeah” when asked if he plans to return to Ann Arbor.
As far as Michigan’s confidence with him, a source said that the Wolverines staff is confident with Filiaga and at least one staff member he keeps in touch him every day. Filiaga, a Polynesian, has a great relationship with Michigan’s director of player personnel Tony Tuioti, who has been key in landing players out West as well as Polynesians such as 3-star DT Phillip Paea, the 35th-ranked defensive tackle in 2017 and a Michigan commit.
The source also added that if Michigan can get Filiaga on campus again before his decision, the Wolverines should land him. Either way, my 247Sports Crystal Ball now reads Filiaga to Michigan.
Aubrey Solomon nugget
Lee County (Ga.) 4-star DT Aubrey Solomon decommitted from Michigan Aug. 22. The infamous 247 report was that Solomon received a recruiting letter from Michigan spelling his name wrong, and thanking him for being on campus when he wasn’t. He didn’t like the taste of that, and decided to part from the class for the time being.
Solomon was the Wolverines’ most impressive commitment on defense in 2017 in my opinion, and is a huge loss — not only because of his talent, but the fact the Wolverines yanked him out of SEC Country was huge.
Michigan’s Chris Partridge visited Solomon’s high school on Friday to watch his game. After a good conversation with a source about Solomon’s situation, there’s a positive update:
I fully expect Solomon to take one of his five official visits to Michigan, and that should come sooner than later. Solomon still likes the staff at Michigan, and the Wolverines still stand a real shot to bring him back. They’ll have to beat out Georgia, which just lost at home to Vanderbilt while Michigan stands at 6-0. The Wolverines will have a chance, but must rebuild the relationship with one of the best defensive tackles in the country since they don’t have a realistic shot with any other highly touted ones.
The Najee Harris Project
Michigan’s staff went all over the country on its bye weekend to visit prospects such as Solomon, the collection of talent at the nation’s top program in Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, and more. But the biggest visit the staff took over the bye weekend was to Antioch (Calif.) 5-star RB Najee Harris. Harbaugh announced the homecoming queen at the Antioch game, which Harris likely loved. The relationship between Harris and Harbaugh continues to be as good as it gets.
A source told me: “Michigan has a very real shot.” Harris is currently an Alabama commit.
The visit to California helped, but there will be another visit that should do even bigger things — the same source said that Harris is expected to take an official visit to Michigan “very soon.”
In my opinion, Harris is the best running back prospect since LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Harris’s game is almost identical to Fournette’s . . . and Adrian Peterson’s, for that matter. To land him would be as big as the commitments from Jabrill Peppers in 2013 and Rashan Gary in 2016. Flipping Harris from Alabama to Michigan might make it even bigger than those recruitments.
Harris is the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect, just like Gary was last season. He’s expected to be an early enrollee, so his decision should come before December.