[Ed. A- David Nasternak, our hockey beat writer, did the heavy lifting in compiling this article and also helped author it.]
At some point today, Warde Manuel will sit down in his office overlooking Hoover Avenue and State Street, check his to-do list, and find an item at the top wholly unfamiliar to him as Michigan’s athletic director, a task that was also wholly unfamiliar to the seven men who previously sat behind his desk: hire a new men’s ice hockey head coach.
Most of the buzz on this site and around the local scene has been centered near Mel Pearson, Red Berenson’s longtime assistant turned Michigan Tech head coach. There is probably a good case for him (particularly if based on his teams’ Corsi over the past few seasons), and he might be a fine head coach and quality option, but there are also a couple of reasons to remain skeptical. We’re not saying that they cannot be ironed out or that he would not succeed as Michigan’s next head coach. We do think that there are other options out there to consider as well.
David talked to a handful of people and did a lot of digging. These are the upper-echelon alternatives that we think should at least be investigated. For the record, very established guys at programs that aren’t a step down from Michigan have not been included on this list, so you’re not going to find Don Lucia or Jerry York on here.
SUCCESSFUL COLLEGIATE COACHES
Norm Bazin, UMass Lowell
He’s only 46 years old and already has nine years of head-coaching experience and an additional 11 years experience as an assistant. Eight of his years as an assistant came at Colorado College; those years nearly killed him. Seriously. His incredible survival story is a must-read.
- Three years as an assistant at UML
- Eight years as an assistant at Colorado College
- Three years head coach at Hamilton College
- Six years head coach at UML
Over the course of his six years at UMass Lowell, he has: twice been named Hockey East Coach of the Year, won the Penrose award for Division I coach of the year, finished with a winning percentage >.600 each of the last seven years, won the regular season Hockey East title two of the last five seasons, won the Hockey East conference tournament three of the last six seasons (while making the final five consecutive seasons), made the NCAA tournament five of the last six years, won at least one game in the NCAA tournament each of those five times, and made the Frozen Four in 2012-13.
Unfortunately for Michigan, given all that he has been through and that he is coaching at his alma mater, he may be happy at UML. Regardless, he should be first on the list. He might be the list. And he’s young, too. Give him what he wants.
[After THE JUMP: other current collegiate head coaches, guys with Michigan connections, and a couple wildcards]
Michigan landed its second commitment in a four-day span with today's addition of three-star Atlanta (GA) Buford RB Christian Turner, who announced his commitment on Twitter. Turner visited Michigan last week between two trips to rival schools; the former had him leaning hard towards Notre Dame, while the latter, as is tradition, sealed the deal for Michigan:
Turner is the fifth commit in the 2018 class, joining IN OG Emil Ekiyor, MI DE Aidan Hutchinson, GA OLB Otis Reese, and GA DB Myles Sims. Yes, 60% of Michigan's class is comprised of Georgia recruits.
|3*, #72 RB||3*, #26 RB||
3*, #19 RB,
3*, 87, #29 RB,
4*, #30 RB,
Turner's early rankings peg him in the 20-30 range among 2018 RBs, with Scout as a low outlier. That's likely to change. According to The Mathlete's rank-by-offers method, Turner is the #10 RB and #161 overall prospect in the class. He's also coming off a strong performance in March's The Opening Atlanta regional that had Scout calling him one of the surprises of the camp.
At the Atlanta regional, Turner measured in at 5'11", 187 pounds. While not a huge back, he's got a solid build.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, class impact, and more.]
Welcome to random newsdump day! Harbaugh's press conference has two bits of information that are front-page worthy. Information #1:
Drake Johnson will not return to the Michigan football team, according to Harbaugh
— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) April 10, 2017
Johnson would have been a rotation piece in the backfield; they still have Evans, Higdon, Isaac, and Kareem Walker along with O'Maury Samuels arriving in the fall. On-field impact should be low. FWIW, this has been likely for a couple months now and Michigan recruited like it.
Before Drake Johnson fades into legend let us remember one of the greatest anecdotes of all time.
"I'm sitting in [Fred Jackson's] office, and there was a fridge right over there, and he's like, 'You hungry?'" Johnson said. "I'm like, 'No man, I'm not hungry.' So he's like, 'OK, I'm going to grab myself a Coke.' So he grabs himself a Coke and he sits down.
"He takes maybe two sips, and he's like, 'Hey Drake, you want something to drink?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm still good.' He's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself an orange juice.' I'm like, 'Dude, you have a Coke in front of you.' He says, 'It's fine.'
"So I'm sitting there, and maybe two minutes later, he's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself a drink,' and I'm like, 'Coach, you already got two drinks in front of you, man! Your thirst can be quenched by what's in front of you.'
"He says, 'I'm just going to grab myself some water. You want some water?' And I'm like, "Nooo, I have Gatorade in my hand, guy. It's fine.'"
Let him take up his place in the Jibreel Black wing of the Michigan Hall of Fame where we put all the folks who didn't have a huge on-field impact but were nonetheless delightful.
Jim Harbaugh says there has been some difficulty in Grant Newsome's recovery - thinks he will be back next year instead of this year
— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) April 10, 2017
Newsome's return was always 50/50 at best, and now it's probably 10/90. He does have a redshirt available, which he'll take, and hope to return as a redshirt junior next year. Michigan's looking at Cole, Bredeson, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Nolan Ulizio, and incoming freshmen for their two tackle spots.
Redshirt sophomore forward DJ Wilson announced he will enter the NBA Draft without hiring an agent.
— D.J. Wilson (@Lanky_Smoove) April 10, 2017
Mere moments later, sophomore forward Moe Wagner did the same.
— Moe Wagner (@moritz_weasley) April 10, 2017
By not hiring agents, both players have left the window open for a return to Michigan. They can participate in the combine and work out for individual teams. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is May 24th. Wilson has been projected in the mid-to-late first round in some mocks; Wagner's projections have been mostly in the latter half draft. It's quite possible, as occurs quite often with the new rule, that one or both ends up returning.
Michigan currently has one open scholarship for the 2017-18 season; departures from Wagner and Wilson could bring that number to three. They are in continued pursuit of five-star C Mo Bamba, who'd be the ideal replacement but also has Duke, Kentucky, and Texas in hot pursuit. The coaches are also looking into grad transfer options; they're in contact with Wright State guard Mark Alstork, Howard guard James Daniel, and Pitt forward Cameron Johnson.
Per George Sipple:
BREAKING: @umichhockey coach Red Berenson will address team at 3 p.m. Expectation is he will step down.
— George Sipple (@GeorgeSipple) April 10, 2017
Berenson is synonymous with Michigan hockey and at some point they should play in Berenson Ice Arena. But after missing the tourney four times in five years and having a very bad team this year despite a reasonable modicum of talent, it is time for a change.
Assuming this does not take a 180 in the next half hour we'll have a post about candidates to replace Red; a fuller appreciation is going to take longer to put together.
If you missed it, the hello post for GA CB/S Myles "Spider" Sims is up as Michigan continues its march to the sea. Sims is a lanky defensive back who could be a Jeremy Clark-esque corner or a safety with some man to man chops, a la Delano Hill. His coach:
"Obviously he’s a long kid and he brings a lot of size to the cornerback position, which allows him to play aggressively, and that makes it hard for guys to get the ball over his head," Reid said. "He’s a very heady player to go along with his ability. He’s very smart and has an extremely high football IQ."
Any time you have a guy with his frame people wonder if he can stick at corner; early returns are St-Justian in their shuttle-y goodness:
It will be tough to find a defensive back with a similar frame to the 6-foot-2 1/2, 173-pound Sims that has the same amount of quickness and length in the 2018 class.
The young man is nicknamed spider because of his outstanding wingspan. Sims has some unique qualities when you talk about the four-star's frame and ability to move, highlighted by a 4.00 shuttle at the recent Nike Football The Opening Regional in Atlanta.
I'd almost rather have him at safety since Michigan has recruited corners exceptionally well the last few years and it was a tremendous luxury for last year's #1 defense to be able to slide Hill down over a slot receiver when opponents would use motion in an attempt to unbalance them.
And don't put that keyboard down yet, Ace: Michigan might be getting another Georgian in short order. GA RB Christian Turner just took a Midwest swing through ND, Michigan, MSU, and Wisconsin. The swing promises to be decisive in his recruitment:
“I think I’d like to be committed by the end of the summer,” said Turner, who will have a better idea of things after this trip. “It’s not like it has to be that way, but if I feel comfortable with the school, I’ll make it this summer and shut it down.”
Given the radical shift in his crystal ball from Notre Dame to Michigan that happened shortly after his visit, that decision might be coming sooner rather than later. Knocking Tom Loy off an ND crystal ball is usually the sign of an imminent decision in someone else's favor.
Turner seems underrated; at about 500th on the composite he's out of even 3.5* range despite a heated Michigan-ND recruiting battle. The Mathlete has a rankings-by-offers system that has Turner 161st nationally, FWIW. Offers are inherently amorphous and this should be taken lightly; still an indication that recruiting sites might be doing a bit of catching up on him.
Quarterback board goes from two to three
Michigan's offered 3.5* AZ QB Tyler Shough, a 3* type with one top-250 vote from 247. Shough immediately fielded three crystal ball picks to M, and says he and his family are Michigan fans:
"Huge opportunity, I am very excited," Shough said. "Grew up a Wolverines fan."
Shough's father was born in Michigan.
"We have always loved them," he said.
Michigan is Shough's first big offer. This does mean that Michigan is at least uncertain about their shot at 4* NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson; it probably doesn't mean much more than that because DTRs recruitment is going to wrap up in the next few weeks. Shough won't have an opportunity to jump the line since he's unlikely to get to campus before that happens.
If Michigan hits the proverbial dinger on the visit, as they often do these days, they get DTR and no problem. If not, they'll take a shot at 3.5* FL QB Joe Milton, who will also be on campus this weekend. If Milton is not swayed from Florida, his currently projected destination, Shough is now a heavy favorite to be the QB in this class.
Instate OL class is loaded
MI OL Jalen Mayfield got a huge bump from 247 after they took in the local Opening camp at which Mayfield performed. He went from a generic three star to the #105 kid in the country:
He's only 255 pounds but Jalen Mayfield has a big future in front of him. At 6-foot-5.5, we're betting he grows into that frame and maintains his athleticism and more importantly his toughness and mean streak. He's now got a 93 rating and is ranked as the No. 105 player in the country. Michigan is considered the favorite.
Greg Frey's favorite thing to do is to take 255 pound dudes and make them into Dan Feeney or Taylor Lewan, so Mayfield is a terrific fit for Michigan's new OT/TE coach. A recent visit to MSU probably won't matter; Mayfield will return to campus for the spring game. He recently reiterated to Josh Newkirk that he plans on deciding at the end of the summer; he's got a loose top four of M, MSU, PSU, and Iowa.
Mayfield (and instate #1 Ryan Hayes) might end up squeezing out MI OL Antwan Reed, who recently told Rivals that he had a top three of Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Penn State. That's despite a relative lack of contact between Michigan and Reed:
“I haven’t really been in contact with the Michigan coaches since I’ve been back from IMG,” he said. “I might be heading there in a couple of weeks for a visit so I can reconnect with everybody – maybe over spring break."
Reed is a high upside prospect because he's super young:
Ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 19 offensive tackle, Reed is just 16 years old and won’t see his birthday till October. He’s just a pup with tremendous upside.
If Michigan isn't involved with him much they must feel very good about the rest of their OL board.
That sentence applies equally to MI OL Tyrone Sampson Jr, who continues to impress mightily:
1. Tyrone Sampson Jr., center – This is the second consecutive event that Sampson has not just impressed but dominated. He won't need to attend anymore because he earned his ticket to The Opening Finals on Sunday. Sampson is a making an argument as the best center in the country.
Many ominous things have been happening to the Michigan State football program over the last year, but #2 has to be guys like Donovan Johnson, Sampson, and Reed apparently escaping state borders without even token resistance from MSU. Or maybe #3. Or #4. Definitely top five. Somewhere between #3 and #9, surely.
More 2019 ratings, related grudgingly
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) April 9, 2017
247 came out with a full set of top 250 rankings for the 2019 class, causing the inevitable waves of panic as guys who were identified really early drop, sometimes dramatically. This is not because anyone changed their opinion; it's because a bunch more guys were IDed. Like MI CB Marvin Grant, for instance. He ended up #100, shoving everyone below him down a notch.
Anyway, the 2019 in-state crop looks like it will be a bumper one on par with the 2017 class, and Michigan is an early favorite to lock it down like they did DPJ and company. Members of the top 247:
- #55 OL Devontae Dobbs
- #88 OL Logan Brown
- #98 WR Julian Barnett
- #100 CB Marvin Grant
- #159 DT Mazi Smith
- #167 RB Jaren Mangham
While the class lacks a five star headliner at the moment that might not last much longer than it takes 247 to update Dobbs's rating:
2. Devontae Dobbs, offensive tackle – In Dobbs, I think we're looking at a potential five-star offensive tackle in the class of 2019. He has some reactive quickness that most tackles lack and his feet are outstanding. He's on his way to becoming a premier name in the rising junior class.
Another 2019 at that camp, albeit not an instate one, was IN DT Jacob Lacey:
1. Jacob Lacey, defensive tackle – He may not turn any heads walking in the door but when the ball is snapped, Lacy shows some really unique athleticism, powerful hands and the ability to flip his hips to beat offensive linemen. He was probably the most consistently effective defender of the day and he's only a class of 2019 prospect.
Lacey has a crystal ball heavily leaning to ND but recently told 247 that he'll be in Ann Arbor on Thursday despite not having an offer.
Also amongst instate guys of interest: MI CB MJ Griffin will visit this weekend. Early Indiana and Iowa State offers may indicate a gentleman whose recruitment will take off.
In not at all grudgingly related 2019 news, "Litchfield Ajavon" is either a crazy Orange Is The New Black/Wire mashup or a 40 year old man given magic powers to play high school football.
Either way dude is a high priority for name aficionados. He says he's got "very high" interest in Michigan, his first offer. He's probably a DB. Or a prison? I need to be able to say someone has been sent to Litchfield after a particularly salty pass breakup. Memories of Leviticus Payne still linger, mournfully.
Side note: dude was teammates with Luiji Vilain, which offers Michigan a link with him and holy God the names on that team.
3* OH LB Brian Asamoah took a visit to Michgian, said it "opened his eyes." May be upwardly mobile after a standout Opening combine in Cleveland; probably has to wait on Dallas Gant's decision before he'll be a take.
The aforementioned Logan Brown will make a spring game visit.
4* MD OL Rasheed Walker lands an offer.