Michigan football picks up 6th Ohio recruit, 2013 class at 15 members with addition of CB Gareon Conley
This story was updated with comments from Scout recruiting expert Allen Trieu.
The Ohio pipeline continues to flow for the Michigan football team.
The Wolverines picked up a verbal commitment Saturday afternoon -- yes, another -- from Ohio cornerback Gareon Conley, according to recruiting service 247sports.com. Conley is a four-star recruit according to Scout, and the nation's No. 20 cornerback.
He is the 15th player to extend a non-binding commitment to the Wolverines, and the 12th in the past three weeks. The next closest Big Ten team is Ohio State at five.
Michigan didn't pick up its 15th commitment last year until defensive lineman Tom Strobel committed June 26. Strobel is from Mentor, Ohio, a little more than an hour's drive from Conley's hometown of Massillon.
Conley is ranked by Scout as the No. 16 recruit in Ohio. That gives Michigan four players in the top 16 of that state -- the same as Ohio State, although the Buckeyes' four are all in the top six -- and five in the top 20.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said upon his hire last year that he would place a renewed emphasis on mining Ohio -- his home state -- and he's shown an early acumen for it.
"They’re clearly targeting the state, and they are doing so with great success," Scout Midwest recruiting expert Allen Trieu said. "They have ties down there. Multiple coaches have recruited Ohio before, so they have those relationships and know what they're doing.
"I think it’ll keep going. I don’t see (that connection) slowing at all."
After Michigan averaged four Ohio recruits per class in the previous 10 years, it grabbed nine in Hoke's first full cycle in 2012. That's one more than the Wolverines signed from their own state.
Now, Michigan already has added six Ohio recruits for 2013.
One trend that has developed is, although five of Michigan's six Ohio commits rank among the state's top-20 players, only safety Dymonte Thomas held an offer from the Buckeyes.
It appears the schools have differing philosophies. Hoke is finding guys he likes and offering early, and also is casting a wide net (Michigan reportedly has at least 30 more 2013 offers out than Ohio State). Conversely, the Buckeyes' Urban Meyer has been slower to offer players, even in his own state.
Mike McCray, for instance, is Ohio's No. 2 linebacker, and his father was a captain for Ohio State. He received early interest from the Buckeyes, but no scholarship, so he accepted Michigan's offer last week before the class filled up.
"Kids feel that pressure right now because Michigan's class has filled so fast, and they don't want to lose their spot," Trieu said. "Like Conley, with his skill-set, he could have blown up over summer. But he didn't want to wait, and then get pushed out of the class.
"Michigan wants to get in early before these guys accumulate a ton of offers, and it's working out, obviously."
But what happens when Ohio State does begin offering these guys? Is there a chance Meyer could flip Michigan commits, as he has with several players elsewhere around the Big Ten?
"It's a possibility," Trieu said. "I think they're already working hard on Thomas, and he has the family connection (with cousin Bri'onte Dunn committed to the Buckeyes). McCray, his dad played at Ohio State and I think they may try to get in on him at one point.
"It's never safe until signing day next February."
Conley enters at a position of need after Michigan signed only one corner in the 2012 class (Terry Richardson of Detroit Cass Tech). He is the second corner in this class, joining Detroit Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis.
He stands 6-foot-2, which instantly makes him the tallest corner who plays for or is committed to Michigan.
"That's one of the things that jumped out at us right away," Trieu said. "He plays like a smaller guy. He's a fluid guy, and athletic. The thing you wonder about 6-1 or 6-2 corners is, can they change directions well enough to stick with smaller receivers? And he can do that.
"We put the film on, and he just jumped off the screen. He can really play."
Trieu said Michigan could be done recruiting at cornerback, but would add one more if the right situation surfaced. It already has an offer out to the nation's No. 1 corner in Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III, for example, and would certainly make room for him if he wanted to commit.
The Wolverines currently can sign a class of about 19, although that's expected to swell into the low-20s after accounting for seniors who don't return for a fifth year and other forms of attrition.