Michigan rising in eyes of nation’s No. 2 receiver Stefon Diggs
Wide receiver is among the positions the Michigan Wolverines have been looking to fortify with their 2012 recruiting class, but with their scholarship allotment almost exhausted they have yet to secure any commitments. The odds of changing that are far from dire, though. Brady Hoke and Co. are in strong standing with four-star wideouts Jordan Payton (Westlake, Calif., Scout.com's No. 12 WR) and Amara Darboh (West Des Moines, Iowa, Scout.com's No. 25 receiver). Conspicuous in his absence from that "strong standing" list, however, had been Olney (Md.) Good Counsel standout Stefon Diggs.
Ranked the No. 2 wide receiver in the country and the No. 13 player overall by Scout.com, the five-star prospect had for much of the year held the Wolverines in high regard. That was due in large part to the presence of his friend and Good Counsel alum, Blake Countess. Then recently, as he prepared to trim his list from 11 to five, Diggs lamented the likelihood that the Michigan wouldn't make the cut because of their lack of demonstrated interest. But just as they were on the precipice of elimination, a bye week visit to his school suddenly vaulted the Wolverines back into contention.
"As far as Michigan's interest, it's a business and they had some concerns about me academically," Diggs admitted. "But I obviously showed that I can really do it. They saw the progress made and they saw how I'm going to make it. At the end of the day, I understand. It's all about making progress and I made a lot of progress. They recognize that and that I can make an impact at their school."
Though now on pace to qualify, according to his coaches at Good Counsel, the introspective youngster is far from content with his current improvement. Key in his college evaluation process is determining which of his suitors can best help him further his development both on and off the field. He sees Michigan as a definite possibility.
"(My coach and I) had a couple of conversations about Michigan," said Diggs. "It would be a great place to turn me into a better person. As of right now I feel like I'm not yet Michigan material, but I've got a lot of potential to be Michigan material. It would be a good fit for me."
That begs an obvious question: What is "Michigan material" in the eyes of Stefon Diggs?
"Blake Countess," he responded matter-of-factly. "Blake Countess is a great role model to me, doing all the right things at all the right times. He showed me that you always have to be accountable and responsible for your actions. It's growing up. I've matured over my four years at Good Counsel. I feel like I'm still in that process. I'm not perfect. I still make mistakes, but I'm still grinding. I want the best of myself and I think Michigan could bring it out of me."
Countess hasn't been shy in conveying that message to his former teammate. The freshman cornerback's advocacy has been instrumental in establishing Michigan as one of the favorites for Diggs' services.
"Blake is my close friend and his word is bond," said Diggs. "I take what he says (absolutely). He would never lead me in the wrong direction. When he says it, I take it to heart. I truly believe him. He speaks highly of Michigan. I respect Michigan a lot. They showed a spark in interest lately. I just look forward to opening the line of communication more and setting up a visit."
If the Wolverines eventually parlay that visit into a commitment, Diggs would very likely wind up as the highest-rated prospect in their recruiting class. Widely regarded as one of the most electrifying players in the country, this multi-positional star is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.
'Get cut, get lean'
"He has feet that would make a sewing machine envious, capable of making the quickest of cuts in traffic," said Scout.com director of scouting Scott Kennedy. "He has excellent vision (when lined up a running back) and good top-end speed. When spread outside at receiver, he shows enough ability to be there full-time. A natural with the ball in his hands."
"I kind of let the game come to me," Diggs added. "I really play off instinct mostly. I'm a 4.4 guy straight up and down, I'm 6-1, 185 solid, and I plan on putting on nine to 10 pounds. Not a really a lot of mass. I just want to get more muscle, get cut, and get lean."
That will only improve his already apparent readiness to be an immediate contributor at the college level. Michigan, along with USC, Auburn, California, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech, Maryland and Florida State are all offering that opportunity. And like Michigan, many of those programs have players with whom Diggs is already acquainted. Determining the victor from that crowd will come down to which of them distinguishes itself in a few other key areas.
"Part of (the criteria) is going to be playing time and location," he explained. "I really don't care about going far (from home), but that kind of does matter. I want to make sure my mom can get the games and make sure there are certain things in place for me to succeed in school. I like people staying on top of me and that kind of thing. I know it's college, but I need a little extra help sometimes here and there."
The full vetting of those attributes will take place during official visits. At the moment Michigan and Cal (whom Diggs indicated will receive first official), are the surest destinations. Talk centers around Auburn, Virginia and Florida as the favorites for the other three. That said, the announcement of his final five may wait until his season concludes. To this point the Army All American has kept recruiting on the backburner, choosing instead to focus his athletic attention on helping 10-0 Good Counsel roll toward a championship. After he has played his final high school game he will devote more attention to recruiting, but still plans take his time arriving at a choice.
"I'm thinking signing day or a couple of days before signing day," said Diggs regarding a target date for his decision. "I want to have a press conference. I'm not going to do it at the Army game. I'm not going to do it at my school. I'm probably going a press conference somewhere else with all my family there."