In a tradition started by former Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez — one of his few changes that remains in the program today — the Wolverines will host their annual BBQ at the Big House recruiting event Sunday.
In past years, U-M has reeled in a number of commitments from the event, and this year could be no exception.
Several of U-M’s top targets, including Egg Harbor City (N.J.) Cedar Creek wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell, will be on campus. Mitchell has mentioned a timeline in which he would make his college choice before the end of the summer, and this visit — his second to Ann Arbor in two weeks — could put U-M in the driver’s seat.
All nine of Michigan’s in-state prospects holding scholarship offers for the 2017 class — dubbed the “Pipeline Nine” — should make it to campus, as well. That includes Detroit Cass Tech wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, the top in-state player according to rivals.com, and fellow four-star prospects Ambry Thomas (a cornerback form Detroit King), Donovan Johnson (a defensive back at Cass), Orchard Lake St. Mary’s linebacker Joshua Ross and St. Joseph defensive end Corey Malone Hatcher.
While Mitchell seems closest to pulling the trigger, U-M also is in strong position for Philadelphia Imhotep tight end Naseir Upshur. Although the 6-foot-2, 238-pounder has pushed back his commitment timeline to facilitate official visits (he initially planned to announce Aug. 8; now he’ll wait until after his season), Michigan is in strong standing and can further advance that when he’s on campus.
Formerly thought to have ruled out Michigan, Detroit King teammates Lavert Hill (a Penn State commit) and Donnie Corley also will make the short trip to campus.
Paramus (N.J.) Catholic five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary is the No. 6 overall player in the nation, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound behemoth and the top target on Michigan’s 2016 recruiting board. Gary has an academic obligation Saturday (an ACT prep course), but will try to head directly from that to Ann Arbor.
Even if Gary is unable to make the trip, the Wolverines have a lot to look forward to this weekend. The BBQ traditionally is an opportunity for the coaching staff to spend quality time with prospects and build relationships that pay off with commitments down the road.
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.