- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
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.
The Under Armour All-American had been committed to Penn State, but decided to flip to the Wolverines after taking in Ann Arbor on Thursday with his dad.
“It’s something special. There aren’t many opportunities to play with your brother and play where your dad played,” he said. “Coach [Brady] Hoke was telling me that he played football with his brother and it was an experience he’d never forget. That meant a lot to me.”
Wangler was told that he will be able to play either WILL or SAM linebacker, since Michigan has different looks for its linebackers. His versatility, athleticism and ability to play in space will give him options at either position.
The decision to decommit means that Penn State is down one commit. With around four to five spots left in the Nittany Lions’ class, it seems necessary to look for a replacement. One option for coach Bill O’Brien could be athlete Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon), who had previously expressed interest in Penn State.
Wangler is commit No. 15 for Michigan, which means there is only room for a few more commitments. The Wolverines will likely see a class with 17 to 19 total prospects come signing day, and there are some big names still on the board.
Fournette doesn’t seem likely at this point but has stated that he would like to take an official visit to Michigan during the season. If that visit does happen, then there might be a chance, but LSU is going to put up a monster fight to keep Fournette home.
Outside of those two, Michigan is hoping to land in-state defensive end Malik McDowell, who recently transferred from Detroit Loyola to Southfield High. That is significant, because current Michigan defensive end commit Lawrence Marshall will now be his teammate. The two will be on the same line together, and Marshall will most definitely be in McDowell’s ear about picking the Wolverines.
Athlete John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook), Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway), teammates Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) and Erick Smith and Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks) are all also listing Michigan among their schools.
There is potential for the Wolverines to add three more ESPN 300 commitments to the nine already committed in 2014. If Michigan ends up with 12 ESPN 300 commitments and two in the top five overall rankings it would be tough to imagine the Wolverines not near the top of the class rankings.