- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
Michigan did not secure commitment from any of the visitors at the Notre Dame game over the weekend, but it still can be deemed a huge success for recruiting.
The Wolverines not only won the game, but the entire athletic department put on an incredible show that impressed the recruits in attendance. Since there are only a few spots left in the 2014 class it was imperative that Michigan put on a good show for the visiting 2015 prospects.
The No. 1 ranked recruit, Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall), was on hand and said the whole weekend was something he will remember.
“We all thought it was crazy that they had Beyonce on the big screen and Eminem and all the famous people. It was like the Super Bowl,” he said. “All the recruits thought it was special, too, because that’s the last time they will play each other there.”
It was a great way for Michigan to see Notre Dame out in the last scheduled appearance between the two in Michigan Stadium.
Normally one game won’t influence a prospect’s decision one way or the other, but this type of atmosphere was different. The largest crowd ever at an NCAA football game (115,109) , laser light shows at halftime and an exciting game all made for something very memorable.
“Halftime was sick. It was almost like a concert, I’ve never seen anything like that,” ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Justin Hilliard said. “It definitely helped Michigan. I don’t know how that couldn’t help someone’s decision because it was crazy.”
Hilliard said the game was more than he thought it would be and since it was only his second time visiting a school for a game, the bar has been set high.
This game was so early in the season that any of the 2015 prospects who took in the game will now be comparing other visits to their time at Michigan. Depending on what games they attend, it seems as though it will be an uphill battle for other programs to compete with that event.
The Michigan commitments who were in attendance were capitalizing on the opportunity as well. Hilliard and Cornell were with some of the commitments, including 2015 commits Damien Harris (Berea, Ky./Madison Southern) and George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) during the game.
There was no sales pitch needed as everything in front of them spoke for itself.
"We were all basically talking the whole time. They weren't pushing anything on me, just normal stuff," Cornell said. "Towards the end they were saying that they're just waiting on me to join them. That they need that weakside defensive end in their class."
The main focus for the coaching staff was on the field, but they knew that this was a big recruiting tool as well. There was plenty of time spent before and after the game with recruits and that was another aspect that stood out to the visitors.
“The coaches came and talked to us before the game. That was my favorite part,” Cornell said. “They had a lot of big-name recruits and the coaches took the time to talk to every single player.”
Fans were expecting commitments to flow once the game was over, but a lot of the underclassmen are planning on taking their time with the process.
While no one pledged to the Wolverines, every reaction from the weekend has been nothing but positive. The weekend was described as crazy, exciting, unbelievable and unreal.
The final results will have to wait, but there is no doubt this weekend was a major step in the right direction for Michigan’s recruiting efforts. It might not yield immediate results, but there is a good chance it will play a major factor once the targets are ready to make their decisions.
“My expectations were met. There was more than I expected going into it and this kind of game can do a lot more than a normal game in someone’s recruitment,” Cornell said. “I felt really good about the visit. [Michigan] is in there for sure. They’re towards the top of my list.”