It had been a while since a recruit's college decision entranced Michigan fans like Joshua Garnett's has done over the past weeks and months. Garnett is an offensive lineman out of Washington who has been rated as one of the elite players in the 2012 class. Most scouting agencies have not only listed him as a 4* recruit, but also as one of the top five players at his position in the nation.
The hype had been building up all week as Garnett announced he would make his decision on Thursday, January 27th @ 6pm. In fact, one Michigan recruiting site launched a live-blog that had over 4000 viewers at the time of the decision (pretty impressive for a high school kid's recruiting decision). The last recruit I can remember getting this type of hype from Michigan fans was Mitch McGary, Michigan's 2012 basketball commit who was rated #2 in the nation.
However, as time got closer, Michigan's chances with Garnett seemed to fade and ultimately he decided to attend Stanford instead of Michigan. Obviously, Stanford is one of the nation's finest schools and has assembled a respectable football program, at least as of late, so nobody can fault his decision. I think he will do good things at Stanford and wish him the best. The obvious factors appeared to be location (Garnett's from Washington) and academics. The University of Michigan has some great academics, but Stanford is...well...Stanford.
So, why am I writing a story about a kid who decided to attend Stanford? Well, the obvious reason is that a lot of Michigan fans cared about this decision, but also because this is a significant development for Michigan's recruiting this year. As most people know, most recruits have decided or will be deciding in the short future about their college destinations. With only a few weeks remaining until virtually every major recruit is committed, this development is pretty substantial.
The biggest implication falls with the recruitment of Jordan Diamond, a 4* offensive lineman from Chicago, who will be announcing his decision on February 3rd. Michigan is in good position to gain a commitment from Diamond, but with Caleb Stacey's de-commitment and Garnett's decision to attend Stanford, this announcement will be crucial. If Diamond decides to attend Michigan, the team should have some outstanding offensive lineman and depth in a few years. However, if he chooses to attend somewhere else (likely Arkansas), Michigan's "epic" class could start to fade into just a good class.
Now, I'm personally not one that gets into predicting where a recruit will choose, but I don't think there's anybody out there who doesn't think Michigan has at least a chance with him. However, with Stacey and Garnett's moves, I believe Diamond has become the most important remaining recruit to this 2012 class. Certainly, there are players who are probably more talented than Diamond, but if Michigan loses out on another "big time" offensive lineman, it could spell trouble in a few seasons. Michigan's 2012 recruiting class will be solid, whether Diamond commits or not, but if this team truly wants to stay in that elite status, getting top talent from guys like these will be crucial.
Let's hope he goes Blue.
Photo Credit: CBSSports