Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

October 3, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Tom VanHaaren

Chris G. (Niles, Michigan)

Big fan Tom. Thanks for taking time to answer questions on twitter as well. Two quick ones for you. I hear Jordan Payton has canceled a trip to OU, and is probable to cancel the ND trip. Good vibes for Michigan there. Any timeline on a decision for him? Also, there are rumors reporting Bri'onte Dunn is close to flipping to Michigan after the rough start OSU is having. Could you provide and confirmation of that rumor?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:05 PM)

There have been a lot of rumors about Payton lately. He did not make it to the Oklahoma visit, and he did not make it to Notre Dame yet.He is scheduled to be there in South Bend when they take on USC. So he is still planning on taking that visit. As far as Dunn, they were in attendance at OSU and could potentially make a visit up to Michigan. We'll see.

ThWard (Chicago)

TomVh: with the season underway and UM's space very limited, any reason to expect a commit in the near future, or do you think the players UM is waiting on will be making end-of-season decisions?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:09 PM)

It depends on timelines and other visits. WR Jordan Payton could be close, but like I just said he still plans on taking visits. I know a lot of people were excited about OL Zach Banner, but he wants to make sure he doesn't make a decision based off of emotions.

Jay (Ypsilanti, MI)

Is there a general consensus, among coaches and recruits, that things in Ohio are still "a mess"? Just how bad are things down there for recruiting purposes right now?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:10 PM)

I think Ohio prospects will always like Ohio State. Some of them understand that this is a different time for the Buckeyes, and that it's going to be rocky. With that being said, there are a few prospects that are concerned. The 2012 kids probably have more to be worried about than 2013, because they don't have as much time to think.

jaws (Grand Rapids)

What's the latest on Bri'Onte Dunn?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:12 PM)

I had an update on our message board the other day. Dunn was in attendance for the Ohio State loss, and they weren't particularly thrilled. He might try to set up a visit to Michigan sometime soon, but hasn't yet. He is trying to enroll to a school early, but still has one class to go to be able to accomplish that.

mattj (Grand Rapids)

In your opinion, which WR target will Hoke and Co. land and when?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:13 PM)

Since there are limited spots left it's really all about timing. A lot of the receiver prospects that are left haven't really set strict timelines yet. The guys that are left are Jordan Payton, Darius Powe, Amara Darboh, Monty Madaris, and Jehu Chesson. I think they have a realistic shot at two of those prospects. Payton is very interested, and Darboh should visit soon, either for Nebraska or OSU.

ChipsRLoose (MICH, MICH)

hello tom, how are you, love your writing. long time reader, first time questioner. anyway, after watching denard and devin on the field for that special package (lol package) on saturday, do you think gorgeous al borges plans on using that more? please advice. thanks tom.

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:15 PM)

In the post game press conference it definitely seemed like they were planning on either using that package more, or had some other packages planned for later in the season. I know Devin wants to be on the field more, so getting him in the game to contribute is good for morale.

ted sheckler (Portsmouth,ohio)

Any news on Jake Roh?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:17 PM)

Not yet. He is interested in Michigan, obviously, but there hasn't been much communication. The Roh family is working on getting film together right now. Craig told me the other day that he even thinks Jake is the best athlete of the bunch. Jake had 2 TD's and around 130 yards on ESPN2 just in the first half.

Aaron (Chicago)

Tom, any thoughts as to whether or not UM goes to 28 scholarships and if so likely candidates to fill out the class?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:18 PM)

The key here is where the extra numbers come from with scholarships. I think they're trying to get to 27 or 28, but I don't know how they'll do it yet. Likely from 5th year guys not getting re-upped on their scholarships and more transfers. As far as the rest of the class you will probably see 1 more OL, 2 WR, then a CB, RB to finish everything out. The usual names here apply.

JVO (Colorado)

What do you think of the way Al Borges has been running the offense?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:19 PM)

Mike Rothstein had a pretty cool article on Borges, and spoke with his parents about what he was like as a youngster. Apparently he's been drawing up offensive plays since he was little, and he says he still does. He's still creating. I think it's been good so far for a first year coach with a system/players that he isn't used to.

tommyz (livonia, mi)

Hey Tom, Maybe its just me but it seems all the people who were thinking O'Brien might be coming to Michigan are now thinking he is basically a Tennessee lock.Is your feeling the same?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:21 PM)

It's funny that there are so many rumors out there. I can't say too much here, because it's his moment. I will tell you that there will only be two hats on the table, Michigan and Tennessee. I wouldn't get too excited though.

Matty (Chicago)

Out of the WR's, who does Michigan have the best shot of landing: Darboh, Payton or Madaris?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:22 PM)

Madaris hasn't taken a visit yet, so I'd put him in the back for now just for that reason. He also seems to be pretty undecided at this point. I think Michigan has a realistic shot at landing both Payton and Darboh.

Griffin D. (Port Orange, Florida)

Hey Tom. I was just wondering what are the chances we land both Garnett and Banner? They both seem very interested in UM, but that would put us at 7 O-linemen in this class. Would the coaches accept commitments from both?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:24 PM)

I think it's very unlikely that Michigan would land both Garnett and Banner. I know there was a rumor that they wanted to be a package deal, but Garnett told me awhile ago that that wasn't the case. I do think Michigan has a good shot at landing at least one of them, though. Garnett plans to visit for the OSU game.

Tim Emmitt (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Hi Tom, commitments have obviously ceased since the start of the season. Do you think this is more due to the coaches focusing more on the season? Or, since we already have 22 recruits, are the coaches waiting to get the best recruits possible to fill the final spots? Thanks, Tom.

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:25 PM)

The fact that Michigan has so many commitments it kind of affords the coaches the opportunity to focus more on the season. That isn't to say they aren't focusing on recruiting, because they are. With roughly 4-6 spots left though the efforts are concentrated so it just doesn't seem like there's a lot going on.

Michael (Saginaw)

What's the latest with Yuri Wright? A lot of people are saying he will be in this class I'm not so confident. TIA

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:26 PM)

I've said this before, but until he visits I don't think anyone can gauge his true interest yet. He is very interested, but like I said I don't think that matters until he sees it for himself. Michigan has a good chance, but getting him on campus is step one.

Ryan (Chicago)

What postions do you think are some of the biggest areas that the 2013 class needs to and will address?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:29 PM)

Offensive line is going to be key again. I'll have to look at the exact numbers but I believe Omameh, Barnum, and Mealer are all juniors this year. That leaves Lewan, Schofield, Jack Miller, and Chris Bryant and this current recruiting class of 5 linemen so far. They'll need to add depth again, and probably take around 4-5 linemen for 2013.

Matt (Parker CO)

Is it still your impression that Dunn enrolls early if he can? I thought I heard him say that he wasn't anymore. If he did switch to Michigan getting him in early for the Spring game would be perfect

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:30 PM)

I kind of answered this in one of the earlier questions, but yes he is TRYING to enroll early. He has one more class to go to be able to. I can't predict if he does or not, obviously.

John (Ann Arbor, MI)

With the way the defensive line recruiting has gone so far, what type of early grade would you give the staff? There has been a lot of frustration over a lack of DTs, but it seems like this staff sees some DEs as future DTs. Who are the main candidates for this?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:32 PM)

To do my best Brady Hoke impression, "Well, uh, I think they've done a tremendous job, but, uh, there's still work to do." I think they've filled some huge holes and they got a lot of the guys that they really wanted. That's key. As far as moving to DT, I think Strobel or Godin would be able to move if they needed them to.

Dan (chicago)

tom, why isn't michigan trying to lock in a qb for 2012?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:33 PM)

They missed on the guys that they were really going after. I agree that a QB should be a priority, but there's no point in taking a guy just to take a guy. Meaning don't take a quarterback you don't really want just to say you have a quarterback on the roster. They have too many other needs to spend a scholarship on someone that might not contribute.

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:34 PM)

Just a quick reminder too, if you have any non recruiting questions please send them to Mike for his mailbag at

Neel (Plymouth, MI)

Tom, with Dan O'Brien seemingly a Tennessee lean, if it turns out he does go for the Vols, will the coaches go after another D-Lineman, or at this point aside from the 2 WR need, will they just go after the best available regardless of position?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:36 PM)

A lot of these answers depend on two things, quality and spots left. If they have a shot at a kid that they think is good enough, and if there's enough room then they might do that. However, at this rate I don't know that there will be room. There are a lot of other needs to fill.

Mike B (Chicago)

Any thoughts on UM's chances with Yuri Wright and the timing of his decision?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:36 PM)

I said this earlier, but I would wait to see what he does once he visits Ann Arbor. I don't think he really knows what he wants to do yet.

Ted Sheckler (Portsmouth,Ohio)

Do you believe that the 2013 class could be even better than the 2012 class??

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:37 PM)

It could be. ESPN hasn't released the ESPNU 150 yet for 2013, but with Shane Morris and Dymonte Thomas they have two prospects committed that are on the ESPNU 150 Watchlist so far. Michigan has three commits for 2012 total in the ESPNU 150, so they definitely have a chance at having a better class. Depends on how they finish the season, too.

Matty (Lincoln Park)

Has Michigan made up there mind of only taking 1 more OL? Whether it's Banner, Diamond or Garnett. What are Michigan's chances out of those recruits?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:40 PM)

I think they'll take one more offensive lineman and call it a day. They also have a shot at getting Michigan OL Dan Gibbs to take a preferred walk on role. I spoke with him the other day and he's going to wait to see if a scholarship becomes available, if not he'll most likely take the preferred walk on spot, which would allow them to get two more with spending only one scholarship. Chances right now are all depending on when they decide. Diamond wants to wait until the All American game, if the other two decide before then his spot won't be there.

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:41 PM)

I have time for a few more questions, and then we'll call it a day.

Cooper (Ann Arbor)

Has the OSU mess had any noticable implications on 2012 recruits out of the state of Michigan or Ohio yet? Are we seeing fewer top recruits with interest in the Buckeyes than we normally might, or is it too early to tell?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:43 PM)

It's an interesting scenario for sure. A lot of the Ohio kids love Ohio State, so some of them will stay because they're Buckeyes through and through. OSU will always recruit well, but there might be opportunities in 2013, like with Tom Strobel for example, for Michigan to make a good impression and swoop in on some kids that normally Ohio State would get. I wrote an article when we first launched comparing the top kids that Ohio State got in 2011 to how many they have in 2012 and it was a pretty big difference.


Is Michigan done with Pahokee (and Pahokee-type) kids? Or has the success of Vincent Smith given Hoke and Borges reason to believe that smaller, faster guys can be an important asset even in a traditional B-10 offense?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:44 PM)

They will recruit kids that they think are good enough to play at Michigan. Unfortunately for Pahokee they were already a low income area, and they got hit hard with the economy crash. If I remember reading correctly I think things are pretty bad down there right now, which would affect the population and school athletics.

Jeremy (Windsor Ont)

If Michigan gets Banner, out of Kalis, Magnuson, and Banner who would move to gaurd? Is there any chance any of the Olinemen might not pan out?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:45 PM)

I think you put Magnuson and Banner at either guard spot and put Kalis at right tackle, but that's just me. You could make an argument to let them battle out for each position, but I don't see Magnuson as a guard.

Eric (Ann Arbor)

Is Hoke going to hold out longer for top-rated commits in the 2013 class, or stockpile early again with a first-come first-served mentality?

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:46 PM)

If someone wants to commit that Michigan is high on, they will take them. I don't think it's a good strategy to wait for certain players when someone else wants to commit.

Tom VanHaaren
  (12:47 PM)

Ok, that's it for me. Thanks for joining me in the chat. I hope you guys are enjoying WolverineNation so far! We will be doing a Recruiting Mailbag next Monday and another chat the week after that, rotating every other week. Talk to you soon.