In past years, Michigan’s recruiting classes were varying states of complete a week out from national signing day. Last year, U-M added five-star running back Derrick Green just a week before the beginning of the signing period. In each of the previous eight years, the Wolverines added a new commitment on (or in some cases, after) signing day.
The drama of the first Wednesday in February has become a national event, and usually the Wolverines participate. In the 2014 class, however, there seems to be only one opportunity for the U-M staff to add a new commitment shortly before the big day: Southfield defensive end Malik McDowell.
McDowell plans to make his college commitment on Feb. 5, and both U-M and Michigan State are in the mix. But they aren’t the only contenders.
“My top 4 colleges! Michigan, Michigan State, Florida State, Ohio State,” the 6-foot-6, 292-pounder tweeted Monday, before adding, “Not in order I don’t have a(n) order!”
McDowell has already taken official visits to East Lansing and Tallahassee — along with Florida and Alabama, which have been eliminated as contenders — and plans to take his final official trip to Columbus this weekend. Although he doesn’t plan to see Ann Arbor on an official visit, he has been on campus unofficially several times.
Should McDowell pick Michigan, the Wolverines will add a five-star talent to the fold at the 11th hour. He is the No. 26 player in the nation, capable of playing defensive end or defensive tackle. He would add to a U-M line haul that includes his Southfield teammate, three-star defensive end Lawrence Marshall, along with defensive tackles Bryan Mone and Brady Pallante.
If McDowell doesn’t pick Michigan, the Wolverines’ final commitment of the 2014 class will end up being Warren De La Salle linebacker Jared Wangler, who picked the Maize and Blue in June. Pallante, a two-star out of Naples (Fla.) Barron Collier, initially committed to Michigan in April as a delayed enrollee to the 2015 class, before joining the 2014 class in November.
Michigan’s late-drama-free class currently ranks No. 27 nationally according to Rivals.com, with 16 commitments. Adding McDowell would bump the group up to No. 16 nationally.
Tim Sullivan is the Football Recruiting Editor of The Wolverine magazine and TheWolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the Rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @TimS_Wolverine.