An onlooker or two literally fainting at something Gary does
this spring would be nice. [Bryan Fuller]
Our annual rite. The Question:
What do you want to hear out of spring practice?
Adam: There's depth on the D-line. Not "there are humans and they are large and they have played football before so yes, they are football players" depth. I'm looking for reports gushing about how much the backups have developed.
We've seen this a bit with Michael Dwumfour in last season's bowl practices. That assuages fears about NT depth a bit; Mone still has to stay healthy for a full season, but at least five-star Aubrey Solomon is available and, if his high-school highlights are any indication, ready to enter the rotation.
Every other spot on the line, though, is returning a starter with a fair bit of on-field experience and really unproven backups. Rashan Gary will start at SDE/Anchor, but he'll need Carlo Kemp or Donovan Jeter to spell him. Mo Hurst is the best 3Tech in the conference; positional nomad Lawrence Marshall or true freshmen James Hudson and Deron Irving-Bey are ostensibly his backups. Chase Winovich got to live out his dream and actually chase things down last fall, and if Don Brown's effusive practice reports are any indication then he should continue to do so this fall. There's a veritable stable of options behind him in Reuben Jones, Ron Johnson, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Luiji Vilain, and Kwity Paye; this group has a combined four games of collegiate playing experience. There's a ton of talent along the line, but it still has to be cultivated if Greg Mattison is going to have the eight-man rotation he prefers.
|Kemp has been around long enough now that we have a photo of him in the old jerseys. It’s time for one of those guys to emerge. [Fuller]|
Ace: Charles Matthews is hitting his jump shots. Wait. Shit.
/reaches over to Acebot
Ace: Okay, Cesar Ruiz is on track. With the depth at tackle in its current state, Michigan needs interior linemen to step up so there’s at least the option of shifting someone (probably Mason Cole) to tackle to get their best five out there. While there are a couple other bullets in the chamber in Jon Runyan Jr. and Stephen Spanellis, freshman Cesar Ruiz seems like the best bet to crack the starting lineup, whether at center or guard. He’s far from your average true freshman interior lineman: he played center, not tackle like most D-I OL prospects, at IMG Academy, so he’s already acclimated to playing on the interior. He was consistently talked up as the best interior lineman at the Under Armour All-American game. He’s got the build at 6’3, 320. Michigan doesn’t need him to be the star this year that he should become; it’ll be encouraging to hear that he’s on track.
[After THE JUMP: can you play tackle? No asking seriously do you have eligibility and really quick feet for your 6’7/310 frame?]
[Ed-S: NastyIsland=David Nasternak=our hockey beat guy and general doer of things.]
(Patrick Barron) It might look decently filled in, but the entire upper ring is tarped off
Did you watch any of the NCAA Hockey Tournament last weekend? Maybe. Probably not. Did you attend one of the Regionals? Hahaha. Did anyone? [see above picture] This seems…less than ideal. College hockey is fun! Local arenas and atmospheres are intense and intimidating. Couldn’t this sport tap into this energy and utilize one of the main positives that differentiates collegiate athletics from professional sports? I think so.
WHO GOES? 16 NCAA hockey teams.
The number of teams should stay the same. Does more than 25% of all of college hockey making the NCAA Tournament seem a little high? Sure, but the numbers work well and one of the repeatedly mentioned goals is to increase the growth and visibility of the sport, in general. So, 16 it is. Continue using the same selection method: Pairwise Rankings and Conference Tournament winners. Avoid conference matchups in the First Round, obviously.
WHY CHANGE? There are a few well-known issues with the current set-up:
Poor Attendance: A couple Regionals have better attendance than others. Generally, those in the northeast tend to do better because the distance between schools and sites is not as far. Sites with a participating host team also do a little better because there is a rooting interest. However, the random Midwest Regional in an AHL/NHL arena is usually…sparse. I have been to a few of these and it is not entertaining.
No Reward for Dominance: If a team has had a good season and managed to secure a #1 seed, there is no guarantee that their matchup or playoff site is to their advantage. The committee will try to place higher seeds closer to home, but…sometimes, teams are sent to Minneapolis and get paired with Minnesota in the first/second round. Or one of the schools from Boston. That seems like punishment. There have been countless debates about whether it’s better to be in a certain location or be a certain seed. This should never happen! Being a higher seed should always mean receiving a reward!
[Hit THE JUMP for David's elegant solution to the worst postseason in sports]
It's their team now. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
I'm not ready yet. A memorable season and the collegiate careers of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin are over; the postmortem will come when I've had a little more time to collect my scattered thoughts. In the interim, a six-part mailbag question about next season has sat in my mailbox for the last few weeks, and while I'm not quite prepared to look back, I'm ready to look ahead.
I'll get this caveat out of the way now: Moe Wagner and DJ Wilson haven't made decisions about their potential NBA futures. This post makes the not-entirely-safe assumption both will be back. DraftExpress' latest 2017 mock doesn't feature either player; in fact, only Wilson makes their 2018 projection. In Chad Ford's latest update, Wagner is a "stock down" after Oregon while Wilson held steady as a late first/early second projection who "most [scouts] think needs another year of school." There's a decent chance both stay. If not, there will be plenty in this space on the ramifications for 2017-18.
Now that we've addressed the elephant, here are one reader's most pressing questions heading into next season and my attempts to answer them.
Can X make the leap? [Bryan Fuller]
Will we have the necessary performance from a Lead Guard to succeed?
We can gush all we want about the big guys and the allure of Charles Mathews, but Michigan's offense has only reached its potential when there was a lead guard at the controls -- Burke, Stauskas, Morris (to a lesser extent), and the 2017 version of Walton. Can Michigan reach that potential with Simpson/MAAR having the ball in their hands most of the time?
Xavier Simpson came along at the perfect time. He got a year to learn from Derrick Walton, get his feet wet, and process the intricacies of John Beilein's offense. As a drive-first, shoot-second player, he'll step into the ideal lineup to fit his skill set. Simpson's iffy outside shot would normally put a ceiling on the offense; the Darius Morris squads topped out at 38th in offensive efficiency on KenPom. Those teams couldn't play five-out, however. With Wagner and Wilson, this team can and will.
That should leave ample room for Simpson to operate off the dribble. While we only saw flashes of his scoring ability as a freshman, it's worth remembering he was capable of scoring 65 points in a high school playoff game. As he got more comfortable within Beilein's offense, he began to display his playmaking ability, especially off the high screen. He showed no fear of the nation's leading shot-blocker in the BTT semifinal:
In the conference title game, he displayed a Morris-like ability to both see and make a pass from a difficult angle:
Simpson isn't going to be a dead-eye shooter like Walton; hopefully he can use the leadup to next season to refine his outside shot enough where he's at least not treated like Tum Tum Nairn. Regardless, I expect he'll be a relatively efficient offensive player because of his quickness, court vision, and the surrounding talent; he won't need to be the number one or possibly even nos. 2-4 scoring option. As long as he keeps his fouling under control he should be an upgrade over Walton as an on-ball defender.
I'm not entirely sold on Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman as a primary ballhander; he still seems to decide before he drives whether he's going to shoot or pass. He'll take on more late-clock possessions because of his ability to create decent looks for himself outside of the offense. Unless he has a major breakthrough as a pick-and-roll ballhandler, which isn't entirely out of the question, he'll still be better-suited as an off-guard. As I'll discuss later in this mailbag, however, I believe Eli Brooks is going to have a role on this team.
[Hit THE JUMP for Ultimate X Factor and much more.]
[Ed-Ace: As we begin to look to the next year of Michigan basketball, this is very much worth a front-page bump.]
Livers is an impressive passer from the top of the key. [Bryan Fuller]
As we look toward the future of basketball with the departures of Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin, I figured now would be a good time to examine one of our 17 incoming recruits in Isaiah Livers in the context of scouting/analysis as opposed to highlights.
This is similar to what I provide for college coaches in terms of depth, but perhaps not volume (this is a 2 game sample size from state playoffs, would likely provide coaches 4).
I broke this 4:23 clip into 4 segments:
a) Shooting - beginning to 1:14 mark
b) Ballhandling/Passing/Creating in Half Court - 1:15 to 2:58 mark
c) Post Offense - 2:59 to 3:50 mark
d) Transition Offense - 3:51 to end
3 point shooting numbers
Raw Numbers: 5/10 for 50%
Off the Catch: 2/5 for 40%
Off the Dribble: 3/3 for 100%
Off the Handoff Going Right: 0/1
Off the Jabstep/Isolation: 0/1
Midrange shooting numbers
Raw Numbers: 2/3 for 67%
Off the Dribble: 2/3 for 67%
Mechanics - True jumpshot with good elevation. Good mechanics on shot overall, but displays a slight kick in his legs at times that makes taking a balanced shot difficult. Good upper body mechanics, but release point is a bit late, causing shot to lack enough arch at times.
Off the catch - good shooter off the catch, difficult to block his shot based on elevation in conjunction with height/length. Will usually take a quality shot off the catch with a good chance of connecting
Off the Dribble - excellent shooter off the dribble going left. His ability to hit a stepback jumpshot off 1-2 dribbles from either midrange or 3 rates among the very best in the country for prospects of his size. Not as fluid as a shooter going right (common to many right hand prospects).
BALLHANDLING/PASSING/CREATING IN HALF COURT
Average to above average ballhandler for a prospect of his size. His dribble is hard enough to control the ball without threat of losing it when he has space to operate. His head is often down when he dribbles against pressure defense though, mitigating his ability to create for others because he doesn't see the entire floor. Doesn't have good enough first step acceleration to create separation off the dribble against guards/wings in a straight line. Doesn't display ability to change direction with the basketball when his defender beats him to the spot or helpside defense cuts off his initial straight line. Does not get all the way to the rim off the dribble based on lack of accelertaion and change of direction ballhandling. Prefers to go left with much more volume because that is where he is comfortable getting off his shots. Can get off his own shot going left off 1-2 dribbles. Not a real turnover risk when handling because he generally kicks the ball out when defender cuts him off or helpside cuts off drive after 2 dribbles. Not a high volume isolation/pick and roll prospect off the dribble at this point in his development in half court settings.
Very good passer from the top of the key and the free throw line area when he has space to operate and see the floor for a prospect of his size. Does a great job of leading teammates to open areas and gaps where they are in position to score. Better passer from stagnant position as opposed to off the dribble because his head is up and he can see over the top of the defense based on his size/height. Off the dribble, he is almost strictly a kick-out type prospect as opposed to a creator that will find bigs for easy dumpoffs once the helpside defense commits. Doesn't see the floor as well off the dribble. Would likely thrive as a passer at the FT line area against a 2-3 zone.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the offensive scouting report and a link to its defensive counterpart.]
We're back after a basketball-induced hiatus, and oh lord so many tabs. Some of this might be dated for recruitniks.
Hello pending for Myles Sims?
via Brandon Brown
Michigan has moved into what appears to be a strong lead for GA CB Myles Sims, fielding crystal balls from both local analysts and Lorenz. Brandon Brown also asserts that Michigan leads; it's a good sign that he got a bunch of photos from the Sims family, one of which is above. Sims's parents were both GM engineers so they've got a connection to the state.
The 6'3" Sims is "perhaps THE top overall target" at cornerback per Lorenz; he recently attended a camp in Atlanta and performed well:
Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake cornerback Myles Sims was the quickest defensive back at the event and he has a huge wingspan. Michigan looks like the team to beat.
Webb attended this camp and provides a more comprehensive scouting report:
6'3, 179 and really fluid. You wonder if kids as long as him are coordinated, if they have loose hips. The answer for Sims is yes, all of the above. He showed ability to break on the ball exceptionally well. Has really good football and ball speed, a really good jumpball guy. Wants to be a corner and looks like he could play it at the college level.
Webb also reports that 1) Sims plans a return trip to Ann Arbor this spring and 2) he wants to commit within a month. That would be Michigan, then.
If Sims really is a change-of-direction guy at 6'3" he's quite a find. Michigan could have two of those guys on the roster next year with tall-ass shuttle maven Benjamin St-Juste in the 2017 class.
Random mid-March visit weekends turn out to be important
Since recruitin's hiatus, Michigan's hosted number of high-priority targets. Amongst them is MI OL Ryan Hayes, the #1 prospect in the state. Hayes told Steve Lorenz that Michigan made a "big move" with him:
"Michigan definitely made a move," Hayes told Wolverine247 on Sunday night. "A big move. The visit blew me away for sure. I had never been to Ann Arbor or on Michigan's campus and it really, really exceeded my expectations."
He further reports that Hayes is thinking about moving up his timeline, which is usually good for the school that got the most recent visit. He's got an MSU visit coming up but the real competition appears to be Notre Dame, which has been a thorn in Michigan's side despite going 4-8.
4.5* NY TE Jeremy Ruckert, the #1 TE in the 2018 class, is closing in on a decision that many expected would be Ohio State. A visit to Ann Arbor may swing that. Lorenz reports that it's the "full expectation" that this is a battle between Good and Evil with everyone else on the outside looking in. Ruckert apparently doesn't talk to anyone, but Scout's Brian Dohn caught up with his coach. This sounds relatively encouraging:
So, when will Ruckert decide?
"He will know more once he gets back from Michigan," Lombard said. "I think that will give him more of a clear-cut answer. I know he wants to visit there. He was already there, but I know he wanted to give Michigan one more look."
Ohio State "definitely" led before that visit per Lorenz but a return visit to Michigan that could finalize his recruitment sounds like he's torn and trying to decide, hopefully by watching lots of Michigan TE film.
4* OH WR L'Christian Smith, a gentleman in the Funchess mold, was on campus two weekends ago. Michigan secured an official down the road per Lorenz, but I wouldn't get your hopes up too much here. He took an official to OSU this weekend and has another one scheduled in April. Kentucky somehow leads on Smith's crystal ball with 9 of 10 picks, all of which will be flipped elsewhere in the near future.
OH LB Dallas Gant is apparently the only guy on Michigan's board at LB right now; he was supposed to come in either last weekend or next and without any reports about him in my tabs I imagine that the visit is still in the future. Michigan was a little slow to offer Gant but they've picked it up significantly.
Lorenz reports that Michigan did well with FL OL Verdis Brown, who's from Chicago by way of IMG, and is now a major factor. Ohio State is the main competition.
Michigan leads for 3* FL S Sammy Faustin, per Marich, after a recent unofficial. Unclear if he is a take at this point. The other schools he's reporting offers from are in the Iowa State-Purdue-Virginia range. There were a number of kids who popped up in the last class, seemed on the verge of a commit, and then faded away. Not sayin', just sayin'.
No oars for you
Mayfield is presumably on the left
MI OL Jalen Mayfield decommitted from Minnesota shortly after receiving a Michigan offer; unsurprisingly he is now expected to end up in Michigan's class sooner rather than later. Lorenz reports that he is a take and that the Gopher staff believes he'll complete the flip process sooner rather than later.
OTOH, Brice Marich caught up with Mayfield himself; Mayfield told him that he won't be making a decision until the end of the summer. He also confirmed Michigan leads. The timeline is likely moot. Mayfield got an MSU offer before his Minnesota commitment, so the Spartans are not a factor. Going 3-9 will do that.
We've crystal balled Mayfield to Michigan because obviously.
Playing from behind for Thompson-Robinson
NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson and NV TE Brevin Jordan have an upcoming unofficial to Michigan in a couple weeks that appears to be Michigan's last shot at convincing them Ann Arbor is the place for them. UCLA lurks, with Webb asserting that he thinks the Bruins lead for both. UCLA is "trending" for DTR per Wiltfong.
Meanwhile, FL QB Joe Milton—also known as "the rest of the QB board"—picked up a Florida offer and is fielding crystal balls to the Gators. Milton has scheduled an Spring Game visit, though, and Michigan's doing pretty well with kids when they get them on campus. Have to think Harbaugh's quarterback whisperer pitch will be intriguing to any QB with an offer.
Well... whose fault is that?
Various and sundry schools are pursuing NJ S Shayne Simon, Michigan amongst them. He talks to Partridge "a lot" and relates that Michigan expects 14 guys to get drafted this year. He says positive things about a half dozen schools in this article, and then at the end an old beau appears to say some things:
Tennessee recently started showing interest in Simon, whose contact is former Michigan coach and Vols defensive line coach Brady Hoke.
"Where he's been at in terms of Michigan, and how he recruited Jabrill Peppers there, is (significant)," Simon said. "We've been talking lately about how they are on the up-and-up, and how football down there is different. They have whole different mindset down there, and just playing that competition is something that is intriguing."
If Tennessee, the "champions of life" school, has a whole additional level of intensity than Brady Hoke has known that rather explains why his Michigan teams degraded into self-poopin' protoplasm over the course of his tenure.
FWIW, Lorenz put in a CB for Simon to Michigan as they continue a "relentless pursuit."
Lists are narrowing, as they do
Many and they are debatably useful so here are some bullets:
- Michigan is top three for TX CB Gemon Green with in-state schools TCU and Texas; they've also offered Green's twin brother German. Gemon is a 3.5* on the composite ranked just inside the top 400. German is a generic three star at the moment. Why the discrepancy? German tore his ACL about a year ago. Newkirk asserts that the twins are a package deal, as they so often are. Michigan offering both should be looked at as a sign of seriousness.
- 4* FL OL Curtis Dunlap put Michigan in his top five along with Florida, OU, Arkansas, and Georgia. Dunlap is at IMG and has talked Michigan up a bit early in his recruitment.
- 5* CA WR Amon-Ra St Brown appears to have a loose top five of M, ND, Stanford, Cal, and Ohio State. (One of these schools is not like the others.) He's got brothers at ND and Stanford; he positively describes Harbaugh as "stern."
- Per Lorenz, 4* FL TE Will Mallory's loose top four consists of M, Georgia, Clemson, and Miami. Family ties are still projected to win out.
Webb reports that GA LB Otis Reese plans on taking various visits and has already been to Georgia. Michigan is on the docket "in the coming weeks," so I wouldn't look at this as the prelude to an inevitable decommit like Kai-Leon Herbert, especially with Aubrey Solomon in Ann Arbor. Webb:
He was out in his Maize and Blue cleats and gloves and was answering questions from numerous recruits about what Michigan is like.
I'd imagine some of these are team trips, as one does. Moving Reese decommit DEFCON from 5 to 4, but still relatively unconcerned.
IN OL Emil Ekiyor is probably at DEECON 3 right now after telling reporters that he hadn't actually had much contact with the staff recently. That's changed:
“I have been in a lot more contact with the staff,” Ekiyor confirmed. “I have been talking with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh lately and Coach (Tim) Drevno has been talking to me a lot, so our relationship is pretty good right now."
He's trying to set up another visit to campus, but he has three "locked in" officials so will remain a soft commit for much of the recruiting cycle. Those visits are to Alabama, Michigan, and Florida State.
Grudging 2019 section
MI CB Marvin Grant picked up Iowa and Michigan offers in short succession, which likely indicates he will be a four-star type when it comes time to decide these things for the 2019 class. Grant is at King, which has sent cornerbacks to Michigan in each of the last two classes; Trieu says Michigan is in a "GREAT" position early in a very strong in-state class.
Lorenz confirms a Steve Wiltfong report that Michigan leads for 4.5* KY DE Stephon Herron Jr after his recent unofficial.
5* GA LB Owen Pappoe is set to take an unofficial to Michigan next month. Guess who the coaching staff is comparing him to? You get zero guesses. You are still correct:
“[Partridge] talks to me every other week,” he mentioned. “He says they want to use me like they did Jabrill (Peppers).”
Michigan also offered IMG RB Noah Cain, the #1 RB in the 2019 class.
Trieu reports that MI OL Marquan McCall will be at the spring game; once thought to be a Michigan slam dunk, he's now a guy they'll have to "fight for." There is an absolute ton of quality OL in the state this year.
Offer out to 4* MO DE/DT Ronnie Perkins, says he's interested and "can't wait to meet" Harbaugh so a visit seems likely. Similar stuff with 4* TX DE Jarell Cherry: offer, no list, vague visit plans. Ditto 3* FL RB Jashaun Corbin and AL RB Asa Martin: offer, interest, etc.
4.5* FL OL William Barnes is another new offer but he's got a slightly less vague visit plan, "maybe this month" and if not by the summer. Barnes is from Apopka, which is Jeremy Gallon's high school alma mater.
GA CB Chris Smith will visit in a couple days.
CA QB and USC commit Matt Corral says he'll "probably" take officials to Michigan and Alabama. Expectations remain low. Lorenz calls this a "very, very uphill battle." Similar situation with CA QB Cameron Rising, an Oklahoma commit.
Adding Greg Frey to the coaching staff has allowed Drevno to more fully take on the role of offensive coordinator
Pep Hamilton and Drevno have a nigh telepathic connection thanks to their days coaching together at Stanford
Donovan Peoples-Jones appears to be everything he was advertised as being; Drevno said that with DPJ, “…there’s no letdown, man.”
Grant Newsome is not practicing yet
When asked about Grant Perry, Drevno said it’s an internal matter and didn’t elaborate further
Everyone is being rotated through different spots to find the best five (and the best fit) on the offensive line
Drevno praised Cesar Ruiz’s rapid processing of information and his ability to quickly get off the ball and to the second level
You’ve got a lot of new guys. What’s your impression through the first day of spring?
“Really good. They worked really hard. They’ve done a nice job in the classroom the last couple days. Like we’ve said, just in terms of the winter condition there’s some very athletic guys that we’ve recruited, especially at the wide receiver position and other places on the offense, so it’s been really good.”
The football classroom?
“Yeah, the football classroom in terms of just the last couple days we’ve met and it’s been good. And they carried it over into today, which is really nice to see just them doing it at a high level. They learn fast and can fix problems.”
Is Mason [Cole] going to be practicing at multiple spots to make sure you get the right fit as far as tackle and center goes?
“Yeah, we’re rotating guys through there and we’ll see who the best five guys are.”
[Hit THE JUMP for more]