Michigan Wolverines: Juwann Bushell-Beatty

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.

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.

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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Paramus, N.J. -- Five-star cornerback Jabrill Peppers and teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) were presented with their honorary Under Armour All-America Game jerseys Wednesday.

Peppers and Bushell-Beatty, both Michigan commits, are among the 90 players selected to compete in the event on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

[+] EnlargeJuwann Bushell-Beatty, Jabrill Peppers
Courtesy of IntersportJuwann Bushell-Beatty and Jabrill Peppers will are two high-profile commits in Michigan's 2014 class.
"I just want to thank my Dad for putting me into this game. This game has changed my life. Just being able to do what you love and allow that to pay for your college, that's just lovely," Peppers said. “… It’s truly and honor to play against some of the top players in the country. “

Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge says he is just as proud of what his star players have achieved both on and off the field.

“The thing about these two (Bushell-Beatty and Peppers) is you can see why they are chosen as they are physical specimens…and if you watch them play the game, you see how fast they are, how physical of big or explosive they are; but in reality what they have done both on off the field is why they are sitting up here and why I’m so proud of them.”

For Bushell-Beatty, an ESPN 300 offensive tackle, sees the game as another opportunity football has given him.

“I mean, a lot of opportunities have been opened by playing football that are great. Just this whole thing is really a blessing because not many people get to experience this,” Bushell-Beatty said. “From not playing football at all four years ago, and being where I am today is a great blessing. … Every last one of [my coaches] from the smallest part to the biggest part, they have had an effect on how I’ve gotten here.”

Peppers said the legacy of the game made his selection more memorable.

"It’s definitely a tremendous honor, just to be able to say I got to play in the same game as a lot of first round picks,” Peppers said. “You know Julio Jones, guys like that who played in this game and went on to have fantastic careers in college and be first round picks in the league. That’s what I plan to do, so it’s definitely a tremendous honor, it humbles me, I still have a long way to go and I just have to get better and better as everything continues to go along,”

And Peppers will get to show what he can do against the nation’s best.

“I just want to play. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in the Under Armour All-America Game. I've only been to Florida one time and just to go down there and play against the best guys throughout the country, do something I love to do, and just be able to prove myself before I prove myself in college … there is no better feeling and not a better experience than I can imagine right now.”

The 6-foot-7, 330-pound Bushell-Beatty echoed those sentiments and the fact of have Paramus Catholic teammates together at the game.

"I'm excited to just get the chance to go against some of the top recruits out there and have the opportunity to go down to Orlando with my teammate, 'Brill,” he said. “This whole thing is just a great opportunity. I just want to get out there, get a chance to play, get the chance to meet everybody and have a great time.”

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peppers is the No. 2-ranked prospect in the ESPN 300, and the No. 1 cornerback in the class. Bushell-Beatty is the No. 124-ranked prospect and the No. 10 tackle in the class. Both chose the Wolverines over a litany of big-name offers.
ESPN 300 standouts Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) and his teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty don’t know what it’s like to be a Michigan man.

But the two have a pretty good idea.


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Recruiting Roundtable: Camp surprises? 

June, 24, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Tom is on vacation this week, but before he left, we sat down to hash out a few recruiting topics. We didn’t invite in any outside writers this week, but we did throw in an extra question for good measure. This week, we look at the 2014 class and Michigan’s football camp.

1. Do any of the 2014 commits remind you of any current Michigan players?


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- On Monday, the ESPN 300 was released, as was an updated ESPN 150. The majority of Michigan’s class was largely unaffected, only experiencing minor moves throughout, though most of Michigan’s commits’ moves were down rather than up.

However, the Wolverines continue to have nine of their 11 commits in the ESPN 150, and many of their top targets remained in the top 100.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Now is a time when kids who are sports fans will need explanations for conference names.

They’ll want to know that at one point the “Pac” in Pac-12 (then eight) stands for the Pacific Ocean and that the conference held teams that were near that body of water, and that Arizona and Arizona State, being in deserts, isn’t just irony for the sake of conference humor. Or that the “East” in Big East didn’t initially imply “east of the Mississippi.” Or that something as simple as the Big Ten once truly had 10 teams.

But it’s a sign of the times, and conference realignment is a constant reality for today’s athletes. While the “Ten” in Big Ten is now a misnomer, it still lives up to the “Big” part, and the conference’s territory keeps growing bigger and bigger.


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WolverineNation Mailbag 

May, 28, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- What a three-day stretch. Sunday, Michigan gets its highest-ever ranked recruit (during the ESPN recruiting era). Monday was a day to honor our armed forces. And Tuesday … well … you get my mailbag. OK? All right, fine. Not quite the hype of the two days before. Let’s say Tuesday is the two-day anniversary of the Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) commitment. Better?

Anyway, it’s summer so let’s focus on recruiting in this week’s mailbag. Next week, Mike will take care of this so get your questions over to him (michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com or @mikerothstein). Until then, let’s answer some recruiting questions you guys have.

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The Wolverines have climbed the ESPN class rankings all the way to the No. 1 spot. The 2014 class for Michigan is off to a stellar start, but a lot will need to happen for the maize and blue to keep their position atop the rankings.

Here is a look at a timeline of the ascent to the top and what the coaching staff will need to do to stay there.

Michigan class rankings

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Braylon EdwardsTom Pidgeon/Getty ImagesHaving Braylon Edwards on the 2013 Michigan football team would provide a big receiver who can make big plays, take the pressure off Jeremy Gallon and add a colorful quote or two.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Every Thursday our writers sit down to talk about three issues related to Michigan athletics. Today, they take a look at former Michigan football greats, the potential of 2014 prospects and a wild card question about baseball.

1. If you could stick any one Michigan football player from the last decade onto the 2013-14 team, who would it be?


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While 2013 and 2014 have yielded excellent results on the recruiting trail for Michigan, it seems as though the two classes are very different in nature.

Michigan came out of the gates hot in 2013, moving atop the ESPN rankings for recruiting classes in the early going. The class had a lot of early commits, but the action trickled towards the end of the process. That led to the Wolverines dropping in the rankings, eventually out of the top five.


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WolverineNation mailbag 

May, 1, 2013
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Draft day, three commitments and Big Ten realignment approved. Who said the end of April is slow for football? Well, whoever said it was wrong, because this past week has been jam-packed with news and stories for Michigan fans. So, let’s talk about it.

Next week Mike will take care of the mailbag so send any questions you have to him: @mikerothstein or michaelrothsteinespn@gmail.com. Now, on to this week’s questions ...

1) Darryl G., Ypsilanti: Realistically, how excited can we be about either line next season?


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Brady Hoke loves football in the trenches. It all starts up front, and as long as he’s at the helm Michigan will emphasize recruiting along the lines.

So the fact Ann Arbor seems to have become a destination for the nation’s top offensive line talent is a major feather in his cap.


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Paramus (N.J.) Catholic lineman Juwann Bushell-Beatty was not guaranteed a starting spot entering his junior season. His football career began only two years prior, and there was only hope from the coaching staff he would lock down the left tackle spot during preseason camp.

A breakout junior campaign followed, and the ESPN 150 lineman now has double-digit offers.


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