Michigan beats Ohio State for 1st member of 2014 recruiting class, LB Michael Ferns
Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com
It appears the Wolverines are up to their same old tricks, after linebacker Michael Ferns decided to become the first member of Michigan's 2014 class. The Saint Clairsville, Ohio, prospect committed to Michigan on Thursday night, according to WolverineNation.It's too early in the cycle for Rivals and Scout to release rankings, but Ferns' impressive offer list includes elite national programs such as Notre Dame, Penn State, Oklahoma, Stanford -- and rival Ohio State.
Midwest recruiting analyst Allen Trieu, who ranks Ohio players for Scout, said he expects the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Ferns to be a four-star prospect.
"At this early point in time, he has to be considered one of the top guys in Ohio," Trieu said. "He had early offers from some of the elites, like a Michigan and Ohio State and Oklahoma, even before the summer started, so that speaks highly of him even at this early point in time.
"It's a good get, for the first one. Michigan continues to do well in Ohio. They continue to recruit top-end linebackers -- and you continue to beat your rivals on this one, which is the cherry on top."
Ferns' commitment signals continued recruiting success in Ohio for Brady Hoke.
The second-year Michigan coach said upon his hire last year he would concentrate his team's recruiting efforts in the Midwest footprint, and named Michigan and Ohio as the key battlegrounds.
Hoke, who hails from Dayton, has been immensely successful. His first full recruiting class in 2012 included nine players from Ohio, the most of any state -- even Michigan (eight) -- and his unfinished 2013 class features nine more.
Hoke benefited early in his tenure from the gifts scandal that rocked Ohio State and cost coach Jim Tressel his job. In fact, one of the Wolverines' two five-star recruits for 2012, Kyle Kalis, flipped his commitment from the Buckeyes to Michigan in the aftermath of Tressel's forced resignation.
But even since the hire of Urban Meyer, a heavyweight in recruiting, the Wolverines have continued to soar. They now have pledges for 2013 from Ohio's No. 1 player at safety (Dymonte Thomas), tailback (DeVeon Smith) and tight end (Jake Butt), as well as the top two players at linebacker (Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray).
Now, Ferns -- who held an Ohio State offer -- has extended that trend into 2014.
"It's going to cause Ohio State to try to build an even stronger fence around the state, around the top kids," Trieu said. "For a while, Ohio State was getting all the top kids. I think Michigan and Brady Hoke have been able to come in and win some battles, which didn't seem likely to happen before he got in there.
"Urban Meyer doesn't strike me as the type of guy who gets nervous about anything, but they've surely taken notice. It's poured a little more gasoline on the fire -- maybe a lot more gasoline on the fire."