It’s the offseason, but recruiting never stops in Ann Arbor, Mich., where Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines are building their classes of the future. Check Land of 10 daily for the latest inside the Michigan recruiting room.
Will Mallory will announce commitment Friday night
Out of nowhere on Friday morning, Jacksonville (Fla.) Providence TE prospect Will Mallory said via Twitter that he will announce his commitment Friday night at 8 pm ET.
Excited to be announcing my commitment tonight at 8 PM
— Will Mallory (@WillMallory_25) April 21, 2017
Just a couple of weeks ago, the 247Sports Composite 4-star was thought to be a lock to choose Michigan. Now, it’s quite a different narrative.
The Wolverines once led in large numbers, commanding every Crystal Ball Prediction for the Florida prospect.
Hours ahead of his commitment, though, the Wolverines legacy – Mallory’s father played linebacker at Michigan – would surprise us if he picked the maize and blue.
The in-state Miami Hurricanes unexpectedly have risen as a possible destination for Mallory in the last few weeks. We never saw them as the ultimate choice for him in the long run. In fact, many in the industry didn’t see any school snatching one of Michigan’s top targets – at any position.
Regardless, Mallory will choose between Michigan and Miami Friday night.
Here’s what we know headed into the decision.
What we know: Michigan’s side of things
Michigan’s tradition, its ability with tight ends and the fact he’s a legacy were the big reasons why the Wolverines led in the race for Mallory for so long.
We know enough to believe Mallory nearly committed to Michigan on one or two occasions, but fortunately for schools such as Miami, he didn’t. And now, Miami is the favorite going into the final minutes before his decision.
On top of that, according to a source near Mallory in Florida, he wasn’t a big fan of his position coach being an offensive line coach in Greg Frey. It probably has nothing to do with Frey as a person, nor his coaching philosophy. It’s just that he has been an offensive line coach, not a tight ends coach, and now he’s, well, both.
So, taking all of that into consideration, Michigan isn’t the favorite heading into the decision.
What we know: Miami’s side of things
We got some help from a trusted source near Coral Gables on what happened on Miami’s end that aided it in the race for Mallory.
Here’s what the source, who believes Mallory is headed to the Hurricanes, told Land of 10 ahead of Mallory’s decision.
“Miami prioritized Mallory early in the recruiting process and was able to build that relationship with him,” the source told Land of 10. “Late last cycle when other schools were chasing after their top 2018 targets, Miami sent tight ends coach Todd Hartley up to Jacksonville to watch Mallory play basketball – twice.
“That’s when the Hurricanes started to feel like they had found some momentum in the recruitment and they continued to sell him on the idea of being the next great tight end to come out of Coral Gables.”
Michigan didn’t put that same effort in. Maybe it couldn’t, due to distance. Traveling to two basketball games in Jacksonville isn’t as affordable from Ann Arbor as it is from Miami. Still, the Michigan camp wasn’t recruiting Mallory as hard as he’d have liked to have been recruited recently.
For perspective, it’s similar to Michigan’s recruitment of Corey Malone-Hatcher last year. He is from the west side of Michigan. Schools such as Alabama pursued him, but the Tide, or any school for that matter, couldn’t get the same face time with the in-stater as Michigan could.
With Mallory’s proximity to Miami, the Hurricanes staff has seen him more, talked to him more and so forth.
What school will Will Mallory commit to?
The mood of this column should give away who we’re predicting Mallory to choose on Friday night, but for safe measure we’ll put in writing who we’re choosing: Miami.
It’s been a weird recruitment, but if I had a dime for every time “weird” and “recruiting” were put in the same sentence … I’d be a rich recruiting writer.
But, if this prediction holds true as we expect it to, don’t fret, Michigan fans.
There are plenty of other options.
What other tight ends are on Michigan’s radar?
Here are some tight ends who could end up at Michigan, should the Wolverines miss on Mallory.
Missouri City (Texas) 4-star TE Mustapha Muhammad: The 4-star visited Michigan last weekend for the spring game. As of now, this one is all Wolverines. If National Signing Day were today, there’s no doubt he’d choose Michigan. But, with a lot of time to spare, his mind could change. Assuming it doesn’t, though, we expect Muhammad to commit to the Wolverines. To ease Michigan fans’ minds, Muhammad is the country’s No. 4 tight end, while Mallory comes in at No. 9.
Lindenhurst (N.Y.) 4-star TE Jeremy Ruckert: Michigan trails Ohio State for the nation’s No. 2 overall tight end prospect, but the Wolverines made up significant ground with Ruckert following his third visit to Michigan in March. This is a race that the Wolverines have set themselves up to win, but they face a tall foe in the Buckeyes. Ohio State has won most of the recruiting battles with Michigan thus far in the 2018 class.
Ponte Verda Beach (Fla.) Nease 3-star TE Zach Sheffer: A lot of buzz surrounded this 3-star and Michigan just less than a year ago when the Wolverines offered. Since then, it’s been a lot quieter between the two, but Michigan’s interest in Sheffer could be rekindled if Mallory chooses Miami. Sheffer is small for a tight end at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, but he plays with strong hands and is very vertical.