Michigan Wolverines: Jared Wangler

On the Michigan football team, the rich just keep getting richer.

The linebacking corps, which was arguably the deepest and most consistent position group this season, signed three more talented prospects on Wednesday and has an early enrollment already on campus in Michael Ferns.

Besides Ferns, the Wolverines picked up Noah Furbush, Chase Winovich and Jared Wangler.

Michael Ferns
John S ChristensenESPN 300 LB Michael Ferns leads a group of four linebacker signees that will make a position of strength even stronger.
Those four, in addition to the wealth the position already has, is very good news for the Wolverines. Between Desmond Morgan, James Ross III, Joe Bolden and Ben Gedeon at middle and weakside linebacker, and Jake Ryan at strongside linebacker, the 2014 class might not see a ton of early playing time, but it definitely gives the coaching staff plenty of options.

“I like their attitudes,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said of the 2014 signees. “I like how they attack the game.”

What he’ll really like, however, is how versatile each player seems to be. Hoke said he could see Furbush playing the middle or weakside linebacker position, while Ferns seems set at middle linebacker. Wangler, because of his athleticism and experience in high school (he also played safety) could play weakside linebacker or be moved over to strongside linebacker, which is where the staff anticipates Winovich will play.

However, all of this is just projection until the coaches are really able to spend time with each player. Ferns is on campus for spring football, so the coaches will have a good idea on his position, but the staff will have to wait for fall camp on the other three.

With how much the coaches relied on Ryan last season after returning from his ACL injury, and how much they expect him to improve during the offseason, that will be a very interesting position to watch. Brennen Beyer, who played the first few games at SAM, will be back and could take reps at the spot to give Ryan a break, but that job could also go to the youth.

“You can go about your SAM linebacker two different ways,” Hoke said. “You can go with a guy who has long arms and has a lot of range on him playing over a tight end. If you’re playing more 4-3 then you don’t have to have that kind of guy, or if you are still playing in an under front your SAM can play a bit wider, like the Vikings used to play. ... We have to see them running around a little bit and see what they do best.”

Furbush is the biggest of the signees at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. Hoke recalled the story of how he played his senior season with a cast on his arms before cutting it off by himself with hedge trimmers. Like Furbush, Winovich is also 6-4, but he’s a bit lighter at 215 pounds. Though Winovich is lighter, Hoke said his physical build reminds him of Ryan.

Ferns is shorter still at 6-3, 228 pounds. He weighs in similarly to Ross and Morgan but is two inches taller than both of them. Wangler is 6-1, 215 pounds.

Combined, the linebacking corps this season accounted for 31 tackles for a loss, including 12.5 sacks. The group also tallied nine pass break ups and seven quarterback hurries.

With all but Cam Gordon returning there might not be a ton of reps available for the 2014 class, but the coaches will play younger players if they step up enough, and the coaches certainly feel confident about this class. Even if they aren’t going to be players that start or contribute immediately, this class brings a tremendous amount of depth to the linebackers.
Brady Hoke will sign his fourth Michigan recruiting class Wednesday. Currently, the class sits at 16 commitments and the only real question mark still out there is defensive end Malik McDowell, who will chose between Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Florida State.

Hoke will address the media at 2 p.m. Wednesday, the first time he’ll be able to discuss these players publicly. Follow along on Twitter for updates throughout the day. Until then, here’s a primer to tide you over in your day-before-signing-day wait.

THE 2014 CLASS

Current ranking: No. 12 (16 commits)
Big Ten teams ahead of Michigan: Ohio State (No. 6, 22 commits)
Big Ten teams in the top 40: Penn State (No. 22, 24 commits), Wisconsin (No. 31, 27 commits), Northwestern (No. 35, 15 commits), Michigan State (No. 39, 20 commits)

Commits by position:

Quarterback: 1 | Wilton Speight*
Running back: 0
Wide receiver: 3 | Drake Harris*, Maurice Ways, Freddy Canteen*
Tight end: 1 | Ian Bunting
Offensive line: 2 | Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Mason Cole*
Defensive line: 3 | Bryan Mone*, Lawrence Marshall, Brady Pallante
Linebacker: 4 | Michael Ferns*, Noah Furbush, Chase Winovich, Jared Wangler
Defensive back: 2 | Jabrill Peppers, Brandon Watson
*denotes early enrollee, already signed letter of intent

WHAT TO KNOW

[+] EnlargeJabrill Peppers
Miller Safrit/ESPNThe Wolverines have been able to hang on to top cornerback Jabrill Peppers, which is no easy feat.
Dry spell: Michigan hasn’t received a commitment since Aug. 8, 2013 (Wangler). At that point, the Wolverines recruiting class was ranked No. 6 in the Recruiting Nation rankings. Between the on-field play during a 7-6 season and other teams stepping up their recruiting games, the Wolverines missed out on several top targets.

No. 1 at one time: Last April, when the 2014 class rankings debuted, the Wolverines were ranked No. 6. In May, Michigan climbed to No. 1. At that point, Michigan had nine commits, eight of whom were ranked in the top 150. Since that point, several Wolverines commits dropped in the rankings, and now they have nine commits in the ESPN 300. And when Michigan was the No. 1 class, the Wolverines were still in on several top recruits in the 2014 class. Of those big-name prospects, the only one to commit to the Wolverines was Peppers, the No. 1 cornerback in the country.

The players who chose other schools over Michigan were defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Alabama), wide receiver Corey Holmes (Notre Dame), Alex Bars (Notre Dame), wide receiver Artavis Scott (Clemson) and defensive back Parrker Westphal (Northwestern). The most troubling part of that is how the Wolverines had personal connections with so many of those players. Holmes grew up a die-hard Michigan fan. Bars’ older brother is on the Michigan roster. Scott is best friends with Cole. Westphal’s high school position coach played at Michigan. And yet, the Wolverines missed on all of them.

Top commit: Peppers. Not only is he the most important commit from an on-field standpoint -- he should be an immediate contributor for a struggling secondary -- but the fact that a 7-6 Michigan team could keep the commitment from the No. 1 cornerback in the nation says a lot about the relationships that were formed. He had offers from Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and almost everywhere else. He could have left for any school. But the fact that the Michigan coaches were able to keep Peppers during a tumultuous season can be considered more of a coup than getting Peppers committed in the first place.

Lineage: Wangler. The name should sound familiar to most Michigan fans. John Wangler was a quarterback for Michigan (1977-80) and is most remembered for his 45-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Carter that gave the Wolverines a victory over Indiana in 1979. Jared’s older brother Jack, a walk-on wide receiver on Michigan’s roster, will be a sophomore when Jared enrolls.

More and more depth: Linebackers. It looks as though the Michigan linebackers group is going to get stronger. This season, that group was the most consistent defensive position group for the Wolverines, and now they’ll add four more quality players. Among Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan, James Ross, Joe Bolden and Ben Gedeon, there won’t be much playing time for the taking, which means these players are going to be able to learn behind some very talented guys while also competing against them in workouts. Greg Mattison just keeps adding talent to the well he already has at linebacker, so look for this group to continue being the most consistent for the Wolverines in seasons to come.

[+] EnlargeBryan Mone
Courtesy of IntersportBy enrolling early, defensive tackle Bryan Mone could be in line for early playing time.
Early enrollees: 6. This is the second season in a row that Hoke has had six early enrollees. Last season, offensive lineman Kyle Bosch, offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman, tight end Jake Butt, defensive end Taco Charlton, defensive back Ross Douglas and defensive back Dymonte Thomas enrolled early. Of those six, three were big contributors this past season, which bodes well for the six who came in early this year. Speight adds solid depth at quarterback, but he likely won’t need to contribute next season. Cole and Ferns are in similar positions in that they’re both talented, but because of the depth in front of them, it could take them longer to earn playing time. The two guys who could be the quickest to see playing time would be Harris or Mone, as both come in at positions that could use more bodies and talent. Both will have extra time with their position coaches and with the playbook.

No commits: Running back. The fact that the Wolverines aren’t bringing in a running back in this class isn’t a huge concern. Between Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith (and Drake Johnson, assuming he recovers well), the Wolverines are in good hands for the next few seasons. However, after losing the commitment of running back Damien Harris, the No. 1 running back in the 2015 class, there's a bit of a concern considering he was going to provide depth. Including Harris, Michigan has offered scholarships to three running backs in the 2015 class.
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As the calendar year winds down, there is still plenty to talk about within recruiting. Big Ten teams have been on a roll on the recruiting trail as of late, and each program is hoping that continues into signing day.

Here are five things for fans to watch as we head into the holiday season.

Under Armour Game

There are six Big Ten teams represented in the Under Armour All-America game this year with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State all having commitments scheduled to play in the game.

The game will be played Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla., but there will be plenty to watch before the big game. The participants will go through tough practices and skill competitions leading up to the event, which always has some interesting storylines.

The practices put the best players in the country against each other, so it’s a good measuring stick of top prospects.


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The Under Armour All-America game is fast approaching and plenty of participants still have questions surrounding their recruitment.

The Big Ten has quite a few of those recruits in the game, so here is a look at five of the bigger storylines heading into the prestigious game.

Will Jabrill Peppers take visits?


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UA Game jersey tour: Jared Wangler

November, 14, 2013
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Senior outside linebacker Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle Collegiate) was presented his honorary game jersey Wednesday at his school during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of a three-month selection tour.

[+] EnlargeJared Wangler - Courtesy of Intersport
Courtesy of IntersportJared Wangler, a three-star linebacker, is committed to Michigan.
Wangler, a Michigan commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game presented by American Family Insurance, a nationally televised game featuring the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 Under Armour All-America Game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

“I’ve grown up watching the Under Armour All-America Game on TV, and so I’ve always looked at it as a goal I wanted to reach,” Wangler said. “Shane Morris, one of my teammates last year, played in this game said it was a blast, so I’m excited to go down and play. I know we have a couple of Michigan commits going down. I’m looking forward to getting to know them better, and getting ready to play college football.”

Wangler said the opportunity to play in the game is a tremendous honor when looking at the players that have played in the past.

“It’s definitely an honor. To be able to play in this game alongside some of the best players in the country, and the alumni of this game … the list goes on and on. And it’s just a tremendous honor to get to play in it,” he said.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Wangler is a three-star prospect and the No. 65 outside linebacker in the class. He committed to Michigan over Penn State, LSU, Cincinnati, Indiana and others.

Best Big Ten recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

Michigan and Ohio State both sit in the top 10 recruiting rankings this year after each landed top 10 classes in 2013 -- the Buckeyes were third, while the Wolverines were sixth.

That's why it should come as no surprise that the two schools have the top four recruiters in the Big Ten Conference for the Class of 2014 so far.

Here's a look at the top 10 recruiters in the Big Ten and why they deserve such high praise:


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Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline this weekend’s high school football games featuring Big Ten commitments and targets.

Prep Kickoff Classic:

The annual Prep Kickoff Classic begins on August 29 and runs through Aug. 31 and will take place at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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Big Ten recruiting storylines: Aug. 22 

August, 22, 2013
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Big Ten fodder is never hard to find, especially in recruiting. Here’s a look at a few programs that highlighted a busy recruiting week:

Cotton getting close

Linebacker Micquell Cotton (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon) has narrowed his list down to Indiana and Iowa State. The three-star back holds offers from both schools as well as Syracuse and Michigan State.

Cotton has visited both already and will take official visits this fall before making a pick.
The Cyclones have some appeal with a solid 2014 class that includes ESPN 300 wide receiver Allen Lazard (Urbandale, Iowa/Urbandale), running back Tommy Mister (Chicago/St. Rita) and a few other good looking commitments.

We’ll see where things stand after he takes his trips.

Iowa adds cornerback

Cornerback Josh Jackson (Corinth, Texas/Lake Dallas) committed to Iowa on Thursday. He confirmed his commitment in a text message.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior becomes Iowa's 13th commit and the unranked defensive back becomes the third player to be taken in the secondary in the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class. He joins cornerback Omar Truitt (Washington, D.C./St. John’s College) and safety Jyaz Jones (Dallas/South Oak). Jackson’s commitment continues the youth movement at Iowa, as six underclassmen will return next season from Iowa’s two-deep chart.

"I think it's going to be great," Jackson said. "With the guys coming in, we'll definitely make a big impact in the Big Ten and for the team."

Defensive end Torey Hendrick (Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA College) hasn’t broken down his top five yet, but the junior college sensation already knows one he’ll take a visit to Iowa.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Hendrick hasn’t set a date, but Iowa City be a destination. Expect Kansas to maybe earn a visit as well.

Hendrick currently has offers from Arizona State, Florida State, Kansas State, North Carolina State and Rutgers to go with Iowa and Kansas.

Lacrosse commit getting looks
Jason Alessi (Birmingham, Mich./Brother Rice) is committed to Michigan for lacrosse, but that might not be the sport he ends up playing in college as he is starting to get noticed for football as well.

Alessi is a 2014 defensive back who already holds football offers from Cornell and Air Force. He has heard from Yale, Harvard and most recently Michigan State.

The 6-foot, 170-pound safety took a visit to East Lansing last week and is now waiting for the Spartans to make a move. The coaching staff told him they want to watch film on his first few games this coming season and then make a decision.

If he has a good start to the season the Spartans might not be the only team to come calling.

Linebacker U looking again
Penn State has opened up its search to replace outside linebacker Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), who decommitted from the Nittany Lions before pledging to Michigan.

With Syracuse commit Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) already in the mix of candidates, Penn State has offered outside backer Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central). That means Northwestern has some company in landing the standout as Lee will travel to California on an official visit when the Golden Bears play the Wildcats on Aug. 31. Lee currently has a top five of Cal, Louisville, Northwestern, Oregon and Virginia Tech.

London a wanted man

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Big Ten lunch links

August, 13, 2013
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"College Football Live" and its Summer Tour stops in Columbus today. Joe Tessitore and Brian Griese will be at Ohio State checking in on Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and Co. Catch them throughout the day on "SportsCenter" and on CFB Live at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

To the links ...

Weekend Wrap: Big Ten 

August, 12, 2013
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There was quite a bit of movement in the Big Ten this past week, with offers, commitments and decommitments all over the conference.

Here is a look at the recent happenings around the Big Ten:

Biggest commitment:

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Michigan was initially only going to take three linebackers in the 2014 class, but that number is now at four. The Wolverines have landed the commitment of three-star linebacker Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), who will likely close out the position.

Wangler, whose father John played quarterback for Michigan, and brother Jack is currently a walk-on, said the offer from the Wolverines was something he couldn’t pass up.


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Big Ten recruiting storylines: Aug. 8 

August, 8, 2013
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Big Ten fodder is never hard to find, especially in recruiting. Here’s a look at a few programs that highlighted a busy week in this week in Big Ten recruiting:

Another Wangler on campus


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Big Ten lunchtime links

August, 7, 2013
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Happy Sea Serpent Day.
The latest version of the ESPN class rankings are out, and there are seven Big Ten teams within the top 40 classes.

With movement happening across the board, there are trends and stories developing, so Big Ten recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren give you a look at what to watch within the conference:

Trending up:

Tom VanHaaren: The number of ESPN 300 prospects committing to Big Ten schools. The number hasn’t started to increase yet, but there is a good chance it will. As it currently stands the Big Ten has 25 ESPN 300 commitments within its teams. That number is low compared to the 77 committed to SEC schools and 35 to ACC programs. However, there are roughly 18 ESPN 300 prospects still listing Big Ten programs, including No. 4 ranked Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) with Michigan, No. 1 inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) and more.


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Weekend Wrap: Big Ten 

August, 5, 2013
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Teams are headed into camp, but that doesn't mean recruiting will stop. While it wasn't an overly exciting weekend for Big Ten recruiting, there was a commitment, offers that went out and visits that took place. Now a few questions must be answered.

Here is a look at the weekend wrap on Big Ten recruiting.

Biggest news: Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) set his decision date for Nov. 14. Alabama, Florida and Michigan are his finalists, and each school will receive an official visit before he announces the final decision. The only visit he currently has set up is to Ann Arbor on Sept. 7 when Michigan takes on Notre Dame at night, but should have the other two set shortly.

Biggest commitment: Michigan State landed 2014 defensive end Robert Bowers (Columbus, Ohio/Walnut Ridge). Bowers held offers from West Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt and Purdue -- among others.

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