Jon Runyan Jr. is not the typical case. He grew up a Michigan fan and his father, Jon Runyan Sr., was an All-America offensive lineman for the Wolverines. Runyan, a senior offensive guard at St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.), said he’s received mail from other schools since he committed to Michigan in June but he mostly ignores it.
Runyan is confident the Wolverines can “get back on the right track” and has a message for committed prospects considering looking elsewhere.
“Stay strong,” Runyan said. “It is Michigan. It’s the most winning program in college football, so they obviously know how to win. They have a big fan base. Just stick it out, and it’s going to be back to where it was and it’s going to be awesome.”
Others committed to Michigan’s 2015 recruiting class don’t appear to share Runyan Jr.’s optimism in the program’s outlook. Some prospects are reconsidering their pledges to the Wolverines in light of Michigan’s recent slide -- it has lost 10 of its last 14 games and appears in danger of missing out on a bowl game this season -- and the ensuing speculation about coach Brady Hoke’s job status.
Darian Roseboro, a four-star defensive tackle from Lincolnton, N.C., who committed to the Wolverines in late August, decided to renege on his pledge. Chris Clark, the No. 2 tight end in the class of 2015, tweeted that he plans to take official visits to other schools “based off of everything going at at (sic) Michigan” and that Hoke being fired would change everything. Other prospects, including four-star Lawrence Central (Ind.) High linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., who visited Notre Dame over the weekend, are assessing their options.
“A lot of them are keeping their eyes open,” said Tim Sullivan, the football recruiting director for TheWolverine.com. “They’re going to wait to see what happens at Michigan before they say, ‘Oh, I’m going to look around.’”
While there could be more defections if Hoke is fired, prospects who feel a strong connection to the program may be compelled to remain committed. Grant Newsome, a four-star offensive tackle who attends The Lawrenceville School (N.J.), says he thinks he would stay true to his pledge even if Hoke gets dismissed. Newsome, who committed in June, said he chose Michigan in part because of his relationship with the coaching staff but also because the school “had a lot to offer me.”
Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (Mich.) High quarterback Alex Malzone, who committed to the Wolverines shortly after receiving a scholarship offer in May, is another recruit who may decide to stay on even if Hoke and his staff are let go. “I’m still committed to Michigan,” Malzone recently told Mlive.com.
Of course, the biggest priority for Michigan is trying to win this season with current players. However, if the Wolverines turn over their coaching staff, the timing of the move and the hiring of replacements could affect the composition of the program’s 2015 class. With National Signing Day (Feb. 4) about four months away, a new coach would have to scramble to keep committed prospects on board and add others to replace those who renounce their pledges. Still, there are a number of prospects who would likely jump at the opportunity to play for the Wolverines.
“They’ll find guys that want to play at Michigan,” Steve Wiltfong, the director of recruiting at 247 Sports, said of the hypothetical scenario that a coaching change is made. “It might not be a class that Michigan fans are expecting to see, as far as rankings-wise.”
Ohio State managed to reel in the nation’s fourth-ranked class in 2012 even though Urban Meyer was hired as the program’s head coach less than three months before signing day. Meyer, who ruffled feathers around the Big Ten with his recruiting tactics, described assembling the ’12 class as a “sprint.” Yet Meyer was an atypical case.
“You don’t see too many schools do what Urban Meyer did on the fly,” Wiltfong said.
Michigan’s ’15 class currently counts 10 commitments. How many of those players will actually sign with the Wolverines -- and who will coach them -- remains to be seen.
Around the nation
- Sayreville War Memorial (N.J.) High’s football season has been canceled, superintendent Richard Labbe announced Monday night. The announcement came amid an investigation into hazing allegations involving team players.
A game between Sayreville and South Brunswick (N.J.) High last Thursday was canceled due to “serious unforeseen circumstances.” NJ.com later reported that the cancellation stemmed from a hazing incident that “went too far.”
The situation has been described as a culture of fear and intimidation, with one parent of a member of the school’s freshman team saying that his son and teammates would “stampede” to the locker room in an attempt to dress before the arrival of seniors, who would “push around” the freshmen. CBS New York reported last week that the hazing investigation is “of a sexual nature.”
Labbe said Monday a prosecutor informed him that the investigation was ongoing but that enough evidence has been collected to substantiate “incidences of harassment, intimidation and bullying, as constituted by the definition within the anti-bullying statute, that took place on a pervasive level, on a wide-scale level and at a level in which the players knew, tolerated and in general accepted.”
Former Sayreville assistant Charlie Garcia was arrested late last month after a police searched his car to find two boxes of steroids and 14 syringes. Garcia, who resigned from his position last week, is set to make his first appearance in court on Oct. 10. Labbe reportedly did not say if steroids had been sold to players or if they would be drug tested before their next game.
Sayreville has won three state sectional championships over the last four years.
- Ronnie Harrison, a safety from Tallahassee, Fla., signed his financial aid papers with Alabama last week. That affords the Crimson Tide unlimited contact with the four-star safety, but Harrison, who plans to enroll at Alabama in January, can still elect to attend a different school. It appears Harrison might be considering taking that route.
After a recent visit to Georgia, Harrison talked to UGASports.com about conversations with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt regarding early playing time and said that he could “see myself playing there.”
Harrison, who indicated he was looking to take other visits, elaborated on where he stands with the Tide. "Right now, I'm sticking with Alabama, but I have to get the right feeling and feel like another school is a better fit for me to flip." Keep in mind that Harrison, the No. 10 safety in the class of 2015, flipped to Alabama after initially committing to North Carolina.
- Long Beach Poly (Calif.) High beat Compton (Calif.) High 99-9 on Friday night. The Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer reports Poly coach and former NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce said he pulled his starters after the first quarter and played four different quarterbacks. "To be honest, I was shocked," Pierce said. "It was to the point kids wouldn't tackle." Poly is one of California’s strongest programs and features multiple Division I prospects.
Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
Five-star running back Bo Scarbrough has been cleared academically to enroll at Alabama in January, BamaOnline reported last week. Scarbrough signed as a member of the class of 2014 but did not enroll in the fall. Coach Nick Saban addressed the situation at the beginning of preseason camp. "We have an appeal in place because he is very close to qualifying," Saban said, according to AL.com. "That will take some time. We will have a plan (for him) at his high school for him to try and do the things he needs to do to finish and our goal is to get him here in January." Scarbrough was the No. 2 athlete and No. 16 player in the class of 2014.
- Nash Central (N.C.) High senior Houshun Gaines committed to Florida at a ceremony last Friday, only to learn that he had been duped. According to the Rocky Mount Telegram, Nash Central athletic director Michael Mosley said he believes Gaines was communicating on social media with someone thought to be a Gators coach. Gaines is being described as the victim of a so-called catfishing.
“When I talked to a coach, they told me they hadn’t spoke to Gaines in several weeks,” Mosley said. “I think he was talking to someone he thought was a coach. I guess he said (on Friday) that he had talked to a coach the night before, but they said he hadn’t talked to anybody on the coaching staff.” Gaines is a three-star prospect who holds scholarship offers from Miami and Virginia Tech, among other programs.
- Lake Nona (Fla.) High quarterback Tucker Israel broke the Florida state record for touchdown passes (127) in Friday’s win over Gateway (Fla.) High. The previous record holder is Wake Forest freshman John Wolford. Israel already owned the top state marks for completions, with 750, and passing yards, with 10,992. He committed to Clemson in February.
- Cordell Broadus is an uncommitted, four-star senior wide receiver who attends powerhouse Bishop Gorman (Nev.) High. He is also the son of famous rapper Snoop Dogg. Snoop partnered up with Flavor Flav, the rapper and protagonist of the TV show “Flavor of Love,” to write a song about the Bishop Gorman football team. The song, titled “Bishop Gorman Move Them Chains,” can be heard below. You should also check out Bishop Gorman’s hype video, which is equal parts cool and intimidating.
- St. Peter's Prep (N.J.) senior Brandon Wimbush flipped his commitment from Penn State to Notre Dame. Wimbush is the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2015.
Life decision, lot of prayer, a lot of soul searching made me re-think my goals. Thank you Penn State, but I'm commiting the Fighting Irish!— brandon wimbush (@BrandonW_7) October 7, 2014
- Central Valley (Pa.) High senior Jordan Whitehead committed to Pittsburgh. Whitehead is the No. 30 cornerback in the class of 2015.
- St. Edward (Ohio) High seniors Andrew and David Dowell committed to Kentucky. David is the No. 14 athlete in the class of 2015, while Andrew is the No. 29 running back. Jonesboro (Ga.) High junior Jordan Griffin also committed to Kentucky. Griffin is the No. 33 cornerback in the class of 2016.
- Hamilton (Ala.) High junior Denzel Mitchell committed to Ole Miss. Mitchell is the No. 7 running back in the class of 2016.
- UCLA picked up a pair of commitments. Winward (Calif.) School junior Breland Brandt and Oaks Christian (Calif.) junior Michael Pittman both committed to the Bruins. Brandt is the No. 2 weakside defensive end in the class of 2016, and Pittman is an unranked receiver.
- Federal Way (Wash.) High running back Chico McClatcher rushed for 397 yards on 19 carries and five touchdowns in a 70-24 win over Decatur (Wash.) High.
- Bedford (Ohio) High running back Chawntez Moss carried 39 times for 294 yards and seven touchdowns in a 55-36 win over Lorain (Ohio) High.
- Brethren Christian (Calif.) High quarterback Conner Miller completed 22 of his 34 pass attempts for 425 yards and eight touchdowns in a 53-53 tie with Aquinas (Calif.) High.
- Guyer (Texas) High quarterback Shawn Robinson passed for 320 yards and three touchdowns while adding 44 yards and a score on the ground in a 43-33 win over Northwest (Texas) High.
- Vance (N.C.) High running back Donnovan Spencer ran for 405 yards and four touchdowns on 30 carries in a 48-35 win over A.L. Brown (N.C.) High
All rankings according to Rivals.com