Recruiting is a 365 day, 24/7 job and the lifeblood of any college football program. In the case of the Michigan Wolverines it means playing the high-stakes world of legitimately recruiting five-star players on an annual basis. Given the world the Michigan program lives in, any uncertainty or perceived future problems is going to be used against them.
With a three-game losing streak in hand, issues surrounding the handling of a concussed quarterback and speculation swirling around head coach Brady Hoke, we’re seeing the first cracks on the recruiting trail begin to happen this year.
According to a report by Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Michigan’s top-rated 2015 recruit, cornerback Garrett Taylor, is set to start taking official visits elsewhere. If there is good news in the situation, it’s that Taylor says he’s still committed to Michigan.
However, he’s taking official visits to the likes of rival Ohio State, in-state school Virginia Tech, Big Ten East foe Penn State and perhaps even SEC school Tennessee. Those schools are all on much more solid coaching footing and are all huge hitters on the recruiting trail.
It doesn’t mean Michigan is going to lose Taylor just yet, but it is clear the No. 10-ranked cornerback (by the 247Sports composite rankings) is going to be listening to what those other schools have to offer him one last time.
He had committed to the Wolverines in March of this year, but now it’s clear this season and the coaching situation are weighing heavily on his decision.
According to Snyder’s report, Taylor is doing more than just casually enjoying some official visits. These upcoming visits are all business for him.
“It’s a little shaky,” he said in a recent interview with Rivals.com. “I know people are bouncing ideas off of whether coach (Brady) Hoke is going to get fired at the end of the season or whether the coaching staff is going to stay there.”
He went on to say that his decision for the Wolverines wasn’t final and sounded relieved he hadn’t signed on the dotted line just yet.
“Thankfully, I haven’t signed any dotted lines, so nothing is set in stone,” Taylor said.
While one player is nothing to usually get too worried about, when it’s your No. 1-ranked player in the class to date, having him looking around because of where your program is, is a dangerous proposition.
Let’s not forget just how significant one recruit can be to the future of a recruiting class. Last season we saw that on full display, as athletic director Dave Brandon immediately doused any rumors of Brady Hoke being fired out as soon as word got out that 5-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers was going to start looking elsewhere.
A loss to Penn State this weekend under the lights in the Big House could just about seal Hoke’s fate as a lame-duck head coach. Yet, it could be the reaction to Hoke’s situation or lack of clarity that could force Brandon’s hand one way or the other.
Such is the power of the recruiting trail, and such is the need for Michigan to keep a Top 100 player on board.
(Photo courtesy 247Sports)