National Signing Day Primer

National Signing Day Primer

December 17, 2019
Darion Green-Warren

The early National Signing Day for the class of 2020 is coming up tomorrow, December 18, 2019. For the past few years, NSD has lost some of its luster when everything worked up to a froth in February. Now kids can sign in December or January. That’s good in some ways and bad in others.

But for our purposes, we want to know what’s going on tomorrow.

In short, no, I don’t think there will be. We will probably find out that there is a departure from the current commitment list, but not to one of the top-rated commits. The one who has garnered the most hand-wringing is safety Jordan Morant from Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic, who has taken a couple visits elsewhere. There has also been some concern that he would stay home and go to Rutgers. By all accounts he is expected to sign with Michigan.

Hit the jump for more.

I suppose I could have put this in the last section, too, but they’re called “surprises” for a reason. If I knew what was going to happen, I wouldn’t be speaking with uncertainty. Most of the questions are about two players:

  • QB C.J. Stroud: The Rancho Cucamonga (CA) Rancho Cucamonga product is a 4-star, the #2 pro-style quarterback, and #83 overall. All signs are pointing toward Ohio State, who received the most recent official visit. I don’t think it makes a ton of sense since OSU already has a highly rated QB (Arizonian Jack Miller) in the class, but obviously OSU has a more positive football situation overall.
  • CB Darion Green-Warren: The Harbor City (CA) Narbonne corner has been going back and forth between Michigan and USC. He doesn’t plan to announce publicly until the All-American Bowl in January, but things have a tendency to become public earlier than that. When he signs I expect to find out sooner than January, although probably not tomorrow.

For the record, I think Stroud goes to OSU and Green-Warren picks Michigan.

If Stroud picks the bad guys instead of the good guys, Michigan will be in a pickle. They had a solid quarterback committed in Phoenix (AZ) Pinnacle’s J.D. Johnson, but Johnson announced recently that he has to retire due to medical reasons. Michigan is in a rather dire situation at quarterback. The Wolverines did not take a QB in the 2012 class with seeming can’t-miss prospect Shane Morris committed for 2013, and that hurt them for several years. This is more like the class of 2011, which was a transition year from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke. That’s the year that Kevin Sousa decommitted in early December 2010, and Michigan had to scramble for a passer, eventually landing 3-star Russell Bellomy, whose career went poorly, even after he transferred to UTSA. Michigan has offered a grayshirt opportunity to Plainedge quarterback Dan Villari, who’s not very accomplished as a passer but at least has some position flexibility at 6’4″, 215 lbs. to potentially contribute at other positions if the QB thing doesn’t work out. Otherwise, Michigan could pursue Honolulu (HI) St. Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura, a current Washington State commit who plays with Roman Wilson.

The early signing period makes sense for low-rated players who get an opportunity at a big program or the school of their dreams. For players with some upward mobility like Villari, the best thing to do is wait until February (or later). De Laura, on the other hand, is committed to a school with a little bit of quarterback oomph since former Mike Leach quarterbacks are popular coaching targets, and Gardner Minshew of the Jacksonville Jaguars is the first Leach quarterback to really make a splash in the NFL. Nationally, people care way more about Michigan than WSU, but that doesn’t mean the QB development at Michigan is better.

Obviously, Michigan is not too concerned about defensive tackle going forward, or else they would have addressed it. They can’t talk about these players publicly until they sign, but I think it’s pretty obvious that they must have some plans to bulk up a guy like Aaron Lewis or Kris Jenkins, Jr. to play on the interior. The most obvious thing to do would be to extend new offers or push for guys within the state, but there’s been no such movement with guys like Southfield’s Bryce Austin (Purdue), who was offered by Michigan, and Dearborn’s Ali Saad (Minnesota), who wasn’t. I don’t expect the defensive tackle position to be addressed any further in this class.


  • 2020 Scholarship Count (LINK)
  • 2020 Offer Board (LINK)


  1. Avatar
    Comments: 115
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Dec 17, 2019 at 3:59 PM

    Thoughts on the DT situation? Smart? Will this work? Do you agree with this philosophy?

    Lewis and Jenkins each list at 235 lbs. To be effective, they need to put on 60 lbs to beat teams not named Wisconsin and Ohio St.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 183
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      Dec 17, 2019 at 11:31 PM

      you werent asking me but i agree with that approach, and actually prefer it, provided they also mix in a few bigger bodied DT prospects. a solid # of top DTs each draft enrolled at 260 or less. aaron donald was 6’2″ 260 as a prospect, geno atkins 6’1″ 260, fletcher cox was like 6’4′ 240, etc.

      many coaches look for later blooming, real deal athletes they can bulk up. obviously its great to land 300 pounders but theyve got to be able to move, and you definitely want them to be trending upwards (rather than early developers who plateau and then get passed when peers catch up).

      never hurts to be quicker and more explosive than your opponent and those traits seem to carry forward more consistently with lighter type prospects. if they like the games of guys like jenkins and lewis and think their bodies (mostly lower) will carry the extra weight, im all for it. similar thoughts re DE – its ok to take 6’3″ 205 speedy athletes every once in a while (like winovich or frank clark) hoping they develop into holy terrors, as long as the bulk of your recruits are standard size range

  2. GrandLake
    Comments: 95
    Joined: 8/22/2019
    Dec 17, 2019 at 7:53 PM

    Certainly hope there is someone grad transferring to help at DT. Position was a weakness last year and while Hinton showed promise, Smith barely saw the field. Even if Kemp returns the interior is still a big question mark if UM wants me o compete with Ohio and Wisconsin.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 19
    Joined: 1/16/2019
    Dec 17, 2019 at 8:18 PM

    This potential panic move of bringing in Dan Villari makes no sense, even if it’s a year before the scholarship takes effect. If something happens to the top 3 QB’s next year, what will a freshman Villari bring to the table? Would he be substantially better than the current walk-ons already in the system? Would he be substantially better than going wildcat? And is it worth all that to burn a scholarship for a promising 2021 class? As for the notion that he could potentially play another position — seriously, is that how we want to recruit our tight ends or receivers? Tell me Dan Villari runs a 4.5 40, and I’ll retract what I just wrote. I understand losing JD Johnson was a bad break (and very disappointing for the young man), but if that puts the staff into a panic mode where they lose sight of the bigger picture, then I have no confidence they will ever meet expectations.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3654
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 17, 2019 at 8:31 PM

      I disagree that it makes “no sense.” The problem is that it doesn’t make *enough* sense – for you. Obviously, there is upside here, and it potentially fills a gaping hole in the class (no QB).

      The truth is that when it’s this late in the cycle, you almost have to take a flyer. You’re not going to find some 4- or 5-star and flip them. I would rather take a flyer on a guy who can play several positions (QB/FB/TE/LB) than reach on a guy who’s limited to one or two. Tamani Carter didn’t do Michigan a whole lot of good in the 2011 class, and neither did Nolan Ulizio in 2015.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 19
        Joined: 1/16/2019
        Dec 17, 2019 at 9:12 PM

        I suppose you are right — I could have said it does not make enough sense rather than saying it makes no sense. I don’t see much upside at QB, but that’s just based on the limited reporting I’ve seen of this player’s skills. I do, on the other hand, see a lot of potential in the 2021 class, and I believe that’s when this player’s scholarship would kick in. I think the team needs to weigh his potential against a scholarship player they may have to forego next year. And can he actually play another position, or is it an assumption that a 6’4″ 215 lb highschool QB can be trained to play (and contribute at) another position? OK, let’s assume he can — then the next assumption is that he is a better bet in that regard than a 2021 recruit who actually does play TE, LB or whatever in highschool. You have more information than I do, so you tell me — is he a better candidate at one of those other positions than the players Michigan is recruiting in the 2021 class?

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3654
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Dec 17, 2019 at 9:19 PM

          I think he’s athletic enough to play another position. I can’t really say if he’s better – he’s playing QB while the other guys are playing TE.

          I think you’re looking at this a little bit skewed from reality, though. The truth is that in today’s climate, you’re only really getting a player like this for three years if he doesn’t pan out. These guys are going to transfer sooner rather than later if things aren’t going their way. Even a legacy guy like Jared Wangler paid his own way for his 5th year, because the coaching staff wouldn’t give him a scholarship after four years.

          If Villari doesn’t pan out by 2022, he’s almost certainly gone. If he’s a true diamond in the rough, we’ll be glad to have him for 2023 and/or 2024.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3654
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Dec 17, 2019 at 9:33 PM

          By the way, who are the best tight ends in the NFL right now? George Kittle was a high school WR and Travis Kelce was a high school quarterback. Both of those guys are probably in the top three or four, along with some guys who, yeah, were tight ends. Good tight ends are molded from a variety of positions.

          EDIT: Darren Waller (Raiders) was ranked as a safety by Rivals. Austin Hooper was rated as a strongside end. Evan Engram was a WR. So were Mark Andrews and Jared Cook. Dallas Goedert played 8-man football in high school.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 7
          Joined: 8/25/2017
          Dec 18, 2019 at 1:16 PM

          Not sure what you’re talking about with the 2021 class. Don’t they currently have all of 2 commits?

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 1903
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Dec 17, 2019 at 10:17 PM

    In today’s climate, if you can’t land what you want in recruiting, look for what you need in the Portal!

    “The truth is that in today’s climate, you’re only really getting a player like this for three years if he doesn’t pan out… “

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3654
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 17, 2019 at 10:34 PM

      You explore all options, but the portal doesn’t really provide what Michigan is looking for right now. They want a 2020 QB, and there are exactly 0 of those in the transfer portal at this moment.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1903
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        Dec 17, 2019 at 10:46 PM

        We want a HS class of 2020 QB. What we need is a QB for our roster in 2020, which can be found in the portal

        There’s a chance one of Milton/Mac transfer, leaving us with the winner and a RSFr… At that point, a portal guy would be a bit more optimal than a reach from the HS class of 2020

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