Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, QB Denard Robinson, and K Brendan Gibbons.
|San Diego, California - 6'0" 184
|Scout||4*, #15 QB, #137 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #4 DTQB, #164 overall|
|ESPN||81, #14 QB, #144 overall|
|Others||#56 to Lemming, #133 to TAKKLE|
|Other Suitors||Penn State, Oregon, Florida, Nebraska|
|Quarterback Conundra. A diarist takes in Tate's final high school game. TomVH interviews Tate. Gun show. Mailbag 1. Mailbag 2. Tea leaves. Spring recap.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Younger brother of former M QB Jason Forcier. Personal site.|
Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.
Here's the world's most succinct scouting report($), via a story title from the Nebraska Rivals site:
Forcier Equals Accuracy
Indeed. Forcier's high school numbers were mindboggling, Colt McCoy-style things. His junior year he completed 77%(!!!) of his passes; at times you could have taken a shot every time a Forcier pass hit the ground and driven home in confidence. His completion percentage dipped this year, but there were reasons and compensations:
|So||157 / 221||1637||71.0%||7.4||10.4||17-4|
|Jr||164 / 213||2387||77.0%||11.2||14.6||21-5|
|Sr||208 / 326||3424||63.8%||10.5||16.5||23-15|
Forcier was given a much greater burden in his final year. That naturally drives down your numbers as the playcalling slants towards passing and defenses are being called with that in mind. Despite that, you can see Tate's YPC rise every year as the dinking and dunking receded.
The one glaring issue is Forcier's senior spike in interceptions. That's partially the increased attempts and partially what sounds like a sieve-like offensive line. In Forcier's final high school game he was sacked seven times in a 41-14 loss against Oceanside. An MGoBlog diarist took it in:
Tate throws a great ball. Unfortunately, his offensive line was horrible and never gave him any time to sit in the pocket and throw a deep ball. It would have been nice to see him attempt some down field stuff, but it was not to be. All of his passes looked sharp and accurate though. He also has a really quick release.
Forcier was often reduced to scrambling around and chucking it hopefully, which obviously led to the interceptions. Here's another piece of the Drew Tate comparison I've been beating into the ground for months now: Tate (Iowa Version) also saw a senior-year spike in interceptions as Iowa's offensive line regressed (they gave up an extra half-sack per game when Tate was a senior) and Tate took matters into his own hands more often. This tendency can be either wildly good or wildly bad, and threatens to do so on consecutive plays this fall. Only experience will teach Forcier what he can and cannot do at this level.
When not fleeing from virtually unblocked defenders, Forcier is creepily accurate. That was his calling card as early as November of 2007. Rivals introduces Tate:
Forcier, 6-1, 185 pounds can flat out spin the rock. We first saw him at the NorCal NIKE Camp two years ago following his freshman season and he was already throwing the ball better than just about anyone at the event. Mechanically, Forcier is nearly flawless and has everything you're looking for in a signal caller.
The quarterback takes a great drop, has a quick release and the ball comes out of his hand so effortlessly. There is no wasted motion in Forcier's delivery and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. He's very accurate and can throw on the run or outside of the pocket equally well.
At the Elite 11 camp, Forcier won the accuracy competition. Soon after Rivals named him the most accurate quarterback in his class. When Friend of Blog Craig Ross caught him at spring practice that's what leapt out:
Forcier’s arm is stronger than I thought it would be. Most of the balls he threw looked pretty crisp. He looked terrific in the drills. Running right or left he puts the ball on the money. I didn’t see him throw a poor ball.
Yes: Forcier equals accuracy. That's his one-word description. Weis equals corpulence. Tressel equals boring. Forcier equals accuracy.
Accuracy arises from good mechanics, which have been drilled into his head since he was tiny. Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith:
"I think he's got some of the best mechanics I've seen from a high school kid in a while," Smith said. "He's humble, and he's just willing to work. The kid's been playing football and winning games ever since he's been little."
You don't have mechanics like that, or two older brothers who got scholarships to Michigan and UCLA, without structural reasons pushing you towards that. Primary reason: Forcier's dad. A secondary one: Forcier's Tebow-esque homeschool setup:
On Fridays in the fall, Tate Forcier doesn't feel like going to school. The night's game is on his mind, and the quarterback for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego can't imagine studying a textbook rather than studying a defense.
No big deal.
"I'll tell my teacher, 'I have a game today,'" Forcier said. "He'll say, 'That's fine; you don't have to come.' And I'll go to my football school and watch film all day."
Aaaand the 17-and-under readership of this blog just passed out in joyous contemplation of such a thing. The flexibility in Forcier's schedule allowed him to pack in hundreds of extra workouts with Marv Marinovich, the father of one-time quarterback wunderkind Todd. Marinovich's assessment of his charge is strangely poetic:
"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."
A haiku version of this:
Tate springs off his feet
He bounds from side to side, and
So here's word two in our ever-expanding world's briefest Forcier scouting report: scrambly. ESPN's evaluation highlights it frequently:
Forcier lacks ideal height, but he makes a ton of plays with both his arm and feet. He has excellent speed for the position, but he's really a passer who happens to be athletic enough to run a spread or read-option attack with ease. … Has good mobility within the pocket, and pulls the occasional rabbit out of his hat when a play breaks down. Can sidestep the rush and has a very quick release. He isn't afraid to take off on the run. Can create second chances with his feet and pick up a first down. Often breaks containment, and can throw on the run to either side with very good accuracy. He's a timing passer who likes to get the ball out of his hand quickly. … Has ideal skills for his team's offense--excellent pre-snap reads, a quick release and great accuracy. … Shows a tough side and scrappiness when working to make things happen.
Forcier himself reinforces that scouting report:
"That's why coach Rodriguez recruited me," Forcier said after Saturday's scrimmage. "A lot of times, when the play breaks down, that's your job. Make a play."
Indeed, this youtube video is full of "oh my god what are you doing, stop doing that, arrrgh… touchdown?!" moments:
cough cough drew tate cough tate, drew cough.
Forcier's tutelage and longtime starting experience had him net an impressive set of BCS offers before he even showed up at the Army All-American combine as a junior:
The talented Californian barely showed up in time for registration, but had big news with Auburn, Penn State and Oregon sending offers within the last week to join the existing group of Wisconsin, Iowa, Stanford and Arizona.
Ironically, that article contrasts Forcier and Kevin Newsome, pigeonholing the former as a pro-style quarterback and the latter as a dual threat sort.
By the Signing Day a year before Forcier would actually put his name on a piece of paper, he had added to that list with offers from LSU, Maryland, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Florida would also throw its hat in the ring by June at the latest; Tate's personal site also shows offers—like, you know, the actual letters—from Tennessee, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, and many more. This is a lot of offers from impressive sources.
At that combine Forcier had some issues attributed, oddly, to the balls in use:
"I thought I threw the ball decent, I felt like I could have done better. I was getting used to the receivers and they did a pretty good job catching my ball. Overall I thought it went pretty well," Forcier said. "All quarterbacks like to have a certain kind of ball, some like the soft ones, some like the hard ones, and these were pretty hard. So you know we tried to adjust to them the best that we can.
"I have an advantage over some guys though, I've got big hands." [HEYO! –ed]
He did "nothing to hurt his standing" as a top 75 prospect… except apparently he did. So there you go. He dropped out of the top 100, but not far, and committed to Michigan about ten seconds after Kevin Newsome re-opened his recruitment, after attending the Utah game. And who could blame him after that?
Then, of course, came spring:
I just watched that thing again and it's pure sport porn; I sort of wish Ace had left in Forcier's three incompletions—one bad read, one Stonum drop, and one overthrown screen—so it wasn't a just a possibly-misleading highlight reel but was instead the whole spring performance. My favorite part is that little swing pass to Moundros on the rollout: Forcier's getting pressure from a defender, calmly positions himself, and puts a perfectly-led ball right in Moundros' arms, allowing him to turn upfield against the chasing linebacker. That is the sort of precision Michigan's offense was lacking last year.
In the aftermath this here blog was about as "eeee" over Forcier as it is over Mike Barwis:
Most encouraging development: The general existence of Tate Forcier. Forcier chucked one pass into a linebacker's pads but other than that was worlds better than anything Michigan's seen at quarterback since Lloyd Carr rode out of the Citrus Bowl on the shoulders of his team. Forcier was as advertised: quick and scrambly in the pocket, accurate on the run, worryingly small, &c.
…There was one overthrown screen and the shoulda-been interception, but other than that he was dead on. Unofficial stats had him 11/14 for 130 or so yards. That's worlds different from last year's spring game, in which both quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions to legends like Artis Chambers and everyone started panicking in earnest about what fall would bring. Forcier's first excursion as Michigan's quarterback could not have been more reassuring.
So, here we are.
Why Drew Tate? That's my go-to comparison and I'm sticking to it. Forcier is about 6', maybe 6'1". He's nimble and though he took off frequently in high school, in college he won't have as much of an athletic advantage and will mostly use his feet to buy time to throw downfield. He has the proverbial moxie, which occasionally gets him into trouble. The Tate comparison is eerily accurate, except maybe Forcier is better school and will be more accurate than the occasionally-erratic Tate.
Look, you can even listen to ESPN, which grabbed the most Tate-like NFL quarterback in recent memory when searching for a comparison:
Has a style similar to that of Jeff Garcia, another riverboat gambler who finds ways to get the job done.
I'm telling you. I tell you. This I have told you.
Guru Reliability: High. Forcier's been on the radar screen a long time with his father and his brothers and whatnot. Also, the final guru ratings above are spectacularly similar, with Lemming's strong endorsement the only one that finds him outside a narrow band centered around #150.
General Excitement Level: High, minus a pip or two. He's not Devin Gardner in terms of upside but those skills in this offense should provide an immediate boost, and I'd be surprised if he wasn't a four-year starter.
Projection: Here's me on a limb: I think Forcier will be the starting quarterback this year. Wow, this limb… it's very wobbly no it's not it's the ground.
Light day today due to Spain-USA. May we die with honor. Braves and Birds previews it for you.
Times and dates. A press release containing every exciting Big Ten matchup against Towson has been C&Ped into the diaries. Michigan games listed:
- Western Michigan at MICHIGAN, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Notre Dame at Michigan, ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Eastern Michigan at MICHIGAN, Big Ten Network, Noon ET
- MICHIGAN at ILLINOIS, ABC, 2:30 p.m. CT
Yes, Western Michigan at Michigan is a 3:30 ABC game. Woo! It's not like there's anything else going on but Jebus. If the rest of the schedule wasn't dire enough to get WMU @ M on ABC I'd put in my usual complaint about a home 3:30 start really impinging on my ability to see games around the country.
Also: was it widely known that the Illinois game would be a 3:30 ABC affair?
We were good except for the eighty yard touchdown we gave up six times. I couldn't dig up a specific instance of this concept in the archives, but I'm pretty sure at various times last year I described the defense as doing pretty well except for the four long touchdowns. Michigan wasn't a team you drove the field on, it was a team you mostly failed against until someone in the secondary or one of the linebackers screwed up and then you ran for a long time and got seven points. Sometimes this happened most of the day (Illinois), sometimes it didn't.
It turns out there are numbers to support this idea:
The most interesting name on this list is Michigan. They were seventh in Success Rates+ but 62nd in PPP+ [Points Per Play]. That suggests that they played pretty efficient defense overall, not giving up consistent gains, but the breakdowns they did suffer were large ones, and they gave up far too many big plays.
There aren't any helpful glossary links that explain exactly what goes into these metrics, unfortunately, so I can't tell you if they attempt to account for the terrible field position Michigan found itself in time and again, but even that can't explain all of this discrepancy.
So: the stats point a finger squarely at last year's safeties, with some bonus points accruing to the sloppy linebacking.
More metrics for good. The Free Press summarizes Steele's metrics on Michigan, all of which point in the right direction. Many of them will be familiar to readers of this blog:
- Teams coming off extremely negative turnover years improve 80% of the time.
- Teams who lose three or more close games than they win improve basically 80% of the time.
- Michigan returns many starters.
- And holy hell the offense has to be way better.
Steele predicts an improved season for the Wolverines, the fourth-most improved season nationally, trailing only Illinois, Ohio and UCLA. He also sees them in the Champs Sports Bowl against Miami (Fla.).
Raise your hand if you'd take that right now. That appears to be everyone.
Another bullet in the head. Man, this coaches poll thing… eh… not so good:
the Coaches poll is a different story. Only 5 of the 18 non-BCS teams have a positive average, meaning that the overwhelming majority of non-BCS teams drop further in the Coaches poll after a loss than the average team does. (It’s true that in general, the Coaches drop teams further for a loss than the AP, but not by that much – it’s a difference of 0.2 spots.) In fact, the Coaches dropped non-BCS teams more than the average in nearly 2/3’s of their losses. Looking at it one final way, all of the BCS teams combine for the average 0.0 in the Coaches poll – non-BCS teams combine for a -1.6 average, losing a spot and a half more per game than BCS teams.
And Carson went forth amongst the Hittites, and slew many, and gloried in the destruction, whereupon he was released from the football team to the annoyance of his high school coach. Minor PR fire at Detroit Renaissance arising from an interview with its head coach. First, the facts: Ren's Antonio Watts is being interviewed by "Hondo," who's a Spartan-slanted (and apparently unemployed now) TV guy the RCMB mocks.
First he references Carson Butler—"now with the Green Bay Packers"—as one of the major athletes in Renaissance's past, at which point Hondo asks why everyone loves Dantonio, at which point Watts says, in effect, "Dantonio shows up."
Then there's some garbled ungrammatical stuff from Hondo about the current Ren kids at State; Watts launches into this apropos of nothing—Hondo never mentions Michigan:
"I had two kids who went to the University of Michigan with Lloyd Carr and when Rodriguez took over last year, in my opinion they weren't done well. They weren't treated well. Carson had to leave early… to the NFL, and Andre Criswell, who's still up there, he's a graduate assistant who's not doing anything. And that hurt my heart. And I have a kid at West Virginia who's not very happy there. And I feel that."
Well, then. One: don't expect anyone out of Ren to go to Michigan in the near future. But let's not confuse this coach's slant with reality. Criswell is a great guy but he was the last guy in his recruiting class, a guy Carr offered on signing day because he had an extra scholarship. He came in as a fullback, never played under Carr in three years, and never played under Rodriguez. As mentioned, he's currently a grad assistant. I'm finding it difficult to see how that can be spun as anything negative. I'm even assuming his withdrawal from the program was entirely his decision: Michigan has extra scholarships this year. So what the hell?
And Carson Butler… well. Carson Butler is the most embarrassing program alum in the last decade. He punched a Notre Dame player last year. The year before that he participated in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, was kicked off the team by Carr, and only let back on after he managed to evade legal consequences. At the time it seemed clear that Carr would have rather washed his hands of him then and there but couldn't justify it since he was acquitted. On the field the guy was a false-start prone headcase whose interest in blocking was nil.
And the stories that have hit my inbox about him have been either hilarious or disturbing, or both. There's a typical Carson Butler story in that thread linked above; I've heard three or four others of similar vintage. Unless this is an amazing hoax, the guy is a sociopath who got far more consideration than he deserved from Michigan.
So over it. A couple of weeks ago, Rich Rodriguez called up a couple of guys in West Virginia in an attempt to bury the hatchet. Here's how that went:
My wife is not a sports fan.
Recently, though, she read the front page article by the Daily Mail's Jake Stump about Rich Rodriguez, the one where the former West Virginia University coach said how much he loved West Virginia and hoped the tension between him and hard-core Mountaineer football fans was fading.
Her observation after reading the article was, "Who is this man? What a pitiful, whiny, self-serving creature."
You, sir, have a very dramatic wife. Who likes adjectives.
Teeny tinies are the trend. Some of the roiling sea of consternation about Michigan's future is about the tiny wide receivers and their unsuitability for the NFL and that sort of thing. Maybe this helps?
Though there were no wide receivers taken in the first round in 2008, 10 went in Round 2, and a quick look at their first-year statistics paints an interesting picture. The success among the smaller guys was led by 5-10, 182-pound Eddie Royal of Denver, who embarrassed then-Oakland cornerback DeAngelo Hall in the season opener on Monday Night Football to the tune of nine catches for 146 yards and a touchdown. That was just the opening salvo in a season that saw Royal finish with 91 catches for 980 yards in 15 games.
Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson is another example of a small receiver having a big impact as a rookie. At 5-10, 175, he finished with 62 catches for 912 yards, but only two touchdowns. Even the surprise first receiver taken in 2008, 5-11, 184-pound Donnie Avery of St. Louis, had a stellar debut. He had 53 catches for 674 yards and three touchdowns, not too shabby for a 'rook.'
Meanwhile, all the big guys from that draft haven't done anything. Now, none of these guys are 5'2" or whatever Jeremy Gallon is, but they are in the range that of a Je'Ron Stokes. And if you're one of these guys you're probably going to go to the school that can best deploy your tiny windmilling legs, right?
Linked to articles on SC QB Cornelius Jones, SC WR Nick Jones($), DC LB Javarie Johnson, OH S Kurtis Drummond, FL RB Eduardo Clements, MI QB commit Devin Gardner, SC QB commit Cornelius Jones, LA QB Munchie Legaux, MI RB Austin White, AZ S Marquis Flowers, OH OL Skyler Schofner, GA DE Henry Anderson, FL RB Roy Finch, MI P Mike Sadler (more($)).
Removed TX LB Corey Nelson(dropped M), VA DT Evan Hailes (ditto), OH LB Jordan Hicks (basically dropped us), NC DE Gabe King (M not top 4). Didn't quite remove MI LB Daniel Easterly despite his Illinois commitment.
FL RB Eduardo Clements
A couple more guys Michigan was following on Twitter but weren't being followed by (Hailes, Hicks, King) hit the bricks, as per usual. Two situations merit a little more discussion:
- Cass Tech LB Daniel Easterly committed to Illinois. I didn't remove him from the board in case a Michigan offer would warrant further consideration by him, but he didn't show at camp. That signals a lack of interest in getting that offer, and I don't expect anything will come of it.
- TX LB Corey Nelson got dropped from the board after announcing a top five that had Michigan nowhere in it, but I re-added him after a weird article in which he claimed he would take an official to Michigan, which you can read a summary of at Burnt Orange Nation.
Third (Second?) Tailback
Various recruiting sites are asserting that TX RB Tony Drake is actually being brought in as a slot receiver, FWIW, though I think that determination will depend a lot on the composition of the roster next fall and is far from decided. So more tailbacks might be in order.
FL RB Roy Finch is a high-rated waterbug sort who Michigan has offered, but this article doesn't mention them:
Finch said Oklahoma and Stanford are “right up there” on his list favorite schools. However, he says his mind is not made up quite yet. “I really think every school is in the hunt,” Finch said. “I just really have to get down and visit some schools and find out what is best for me.”
Finch added schools won’t have to wait too much longer, though, before his decision is made. “When the recruiting process first started, I thought about prolonging it,” he said. “But now, I want to get it out of the way before the season starts.”
Blah. If Finch doesn't wait for officials he'd have to shell out for an unofficial to visit M; without that he's headed elsewhere.
MI RB Austin White has been rumored to be a Michigan lean for a while now but he's playing it cool in this article:
"I'm still not really comfortable with what I've seen," White said. "I'm going to LSU July 21 and check that out. I'll get a chance to talk to the coaches.
"I might hit a couple other schools too, but I'm not sure."
Michigan and Michigan State were hit on a camp swing, as was Illinois. There have been several reports reporting a significant, but private, Michigan lead, and I still feel confident White will be a part of the class.
And camp week's most unusual visitor was FL RB Eduardo Clements, who visited, claimed he would decide between Michigan and Georgia after he came back, and saw this written about him in the aftermath:
Apparently Booker T. Washington H.S. (Miami) standout running back Eduardo Clements got a big bug put in his ear when he got to Michigan on Tuesday. Clements reportedly has dropped FSU as his top team and has put Michigan at the head of the class. Clements cited the contrast in styles as his primary reason for this.
Okay: I don't think that's true. Clements was quoted elsewhere as being down to M and UGA, so that bit of information has to be regarded skeptically. But Clements has backed off his decision to decide, which is good since the conventional wisdom was that Georgia would lock this guy down if that came off. He's also added Miami back in. The best hope here is that Clements holds off for some fall officials.
Clements, by the way, is a Rivals 100 guy who was highly impressive at camp. He would be a ver' nice pickup.
One guy who it looks like will be on the outside looking in: MI RB Nick Hill did not get an offer after his camp trip. He did pick one up from State, which is a little odd given their offense and his size (a 5'9" Ringer is one thing, but Hill is seriously tiny). The running backs in state could fall out in the opposite fashion everyone expected, with White ticketed for M while Hill sucks it up and heads to East Lansing.
Michigan's locked down one interior lineman and remains in good shape with FL OL Torrian Wilson, who spent a full week($) in Ann Arbor recently. That wasn't all camping and whatnot, as he was visiting a local aunt, but he did take the opportunity to visit the Michigan campus a few additional times. Miami remains a threat but it's hard to see anyone else coming in for him; successfully locking him down would end Michigan's interior OL recruiting.
So that would take care of interior linemen, leaving Michigan to pick up one or two tackles. Obviously Highest Most Holy Priority of Priorities is MN OL Seantrel Henderson, but there are a couple other possibilities out there. OH OL Skyler Schofner has an offer but plans on waiting to decide:
"I'll probably make (a decision) after football season," the big lineman said. "Right now, I'm considering everyone. I can't be judging anyone right now (by games) on TV and all of that. I want to see for myself."
On the other side of the ball, Michigan does draw a mention from PA DT Sharrif Floyd in a post-camp AMP interview, but it sounds like Penn State, USC, and Florida are in better shape. Floyd does plan to take his officials and commit at the Army game, so you know the drill: get him on campus and there's a chance.
MI DT Jonathan Hankins, meanwhile, is an enormous puffy version of Hill. He camped but did not get an offer after showing his conditioning to be lacking. Michigan doesn't want to actually have Barwis kill and eat anyone, so that's an issue. Michigan might follow him into the fall after giving him instructions to get in better shape; at this point I don't think that's particularly likely. DT is going to be a hard spot to fill.
The Man Who Would Be Space Emperor
Zoltan the Inconceivable shuffles off this eligibility coil this fall, of course, leaving a yawning cavern at the punting position that no one will ever fill. But men will try… men will try.
There have been a couple other names thrown around at the position (specifically: WI P Will Hagerup and FL P Brandon Tarpley) but it's looking like MI P Mike Sadler is going to be the guy. He showed at Michigan's camp and did well:
“It went well,” he explained to GBW. “I was only there for the second day, as I had a prior commitment on the first day. But I punted well. I did have a shaky session in there, but I got right back at it, and people were impressed ... so it went well."
And this is about as blunt as recruits get:
"And," he added, "I’m hoping to be their guy.” …
“I’d be very humbled (if they offered). In terms of taking it or not, I’d have to think about it -- but they’re definitely my top choice right now. So things are looking good.”
Read: offer = commit. How likely is that offer? Well, they're going to take someone at the spot and Sadler's got some impressive offers—LSU and Alabama($), for two—so once Michigan sits down to talk about special teams offers it would be a surprise not to see Sadler issued a letter.
Ah, hell: this was obvious once Michigan took a commitment from Cornelius Jones but it hurts all the same:
ESPN reports that Edna Karr multitalented QB Munchie LeGaux (6'4-180) has Oregon atop his list at this time. Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ole Miss are all a step behind for the dual threat star. He plans on majoring in sports medicine.
Legaux will probably hit "Happy Trails" in the near future; with that and the abortive commit attempt of TX LB Holmes Onwukaife, Michigan's awesome name quotient looks to take a dive this year.
Ack Potential Future WR
So the assumption on SC QB commit Cornelius Jones is that if QB doesn't pan out we'll see him move. I was hoping safety, but that's not what he's been told:
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he would start Jones out at quarterback, and if that didn't work out, most likely move him to receiver.
“That would be okay,” said Jones, who has 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash. “I like wide receiver. But I'm looking forward to giving quarterback a try.”
Nice fake 40, BTW. Hear me now and believe me later: one of our zillion WR recruits will be in the secondary before the end of 2010-2011.
Weekly Gardner Porn-type Substance
Some fluff on the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp that happened a couple weeks ago strikes upon Gardner's performance:
The event was dotted with standout moments by numerous players, but none was more consistently dominant than Inkster's Gardner. He has staked his claim as the state's top player with outright dominance in camps and combines throughout the spring and summer. His Sound Mind/Sound Body performance was more of the same.
"We all know he's a great athlete and he showed that by doing very well at receiver in addition to quarterback," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "What has impressed me the most recently, though, is how much he has improved as a passer. His mechanics are like night and day from this time last year and his passes have much more zip. The work he has put in as a passer has paid off."
Gardner also played enough wide receiver to convince observers he was the best guy at that position there, too. Seven-on-seven video from Michigan's camp for you:
I should point out that from reports Gardner had a rough day overall in the 7-on-7. That's not wholly surprising—he still needs a lot of work with reads and routes he hasn't been getting in these camps—but also might retard what looked like a sure flight towards the top of recruiting lists.
Cracking Glenville(?) And Other Safeties
OH S Latwan Anderson also showed for Michigan's 7-on-7 camp, where he was utterly dominant according to observers. (Video if you're intrigued.) Michigan, Michigan State, and WVU have been Anderson's top three for a while, but in the aftermath of the camp that list has changed:
Highly recruited Glenville H.S. defensive back and Gridironstuds.com member Latwan Anderson has announced his Top 5 of: #1 West Virginia, #2 Michigan, #3 Georgia, #4 North Carolina and #5 Miami, FL. Anderson says this list is final “no more changes.”
That site is still not 100% reliable in my mind, but it's been pretty good over the last few months and there was a premium article confirm that so there you go. I'm not aware that Anderson has visited any of his top five aside from Michigan and WVU, and the two leaders are supposed to be close to neck-and-neck. Anderson was a WVU fan when he was younger.
(Meanwhile, SpartanMag's Matt Dorsey, who if you don't know is like Tom Beaver plus an enormous inferiority complex and minus any shred of dignity, says "Ohio State and MSU are considered the favorites." Whoops. OSU might be a factor if they offer, but State just got pwned.)
Another safety to keep an eye on is some guy from South Carolina named Detrick Bonner, who popped up for the first time in an AJC article claiming offers from about a dozen programs and… uh… this leader?
He had 11 offers as of Wednesday, favoring Michigan the most. But it’s clear he hasn’t made a decision and Clemson, where he has camped, made an impression on the 6-foot, 165-pound receiver.
“The fact that they gave me my own tour, they showed more love, I guess,” Bonner told the AJC.
ACK receiver, yes, but no: at Michigan he's a DB, obviously. This is the first I've heard of Bonner; often these weird one-off stories are followed up by others that never mention Michigan at all and a commitment to a school somewhere in the South, but if he's got a Clemson offer and still says M leads this one might actually be something to watch.
Finally, OH S Kurtis Drummond visited M and MSU and has some unsurprising leaders in the aftermath of that:
Officials are on tap.
Etc.: SC WR Nick Jones says South Carolina leads($), which okay. Not sounding good with GA DE Henry Anderson. AZ S Marquis Flowers disses USC camp because it's too expensive, so don't expect him to take an unofficial to M.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, and QB Denard Robinson.
|West Palm Beach, Florida - 6'0" 202
|Scout||3*, #11 K|
|Rivals||2*, #8 K|
|ESPN||77, #16 K|
|Others||#1 K to Lemming|
|YMRMFSPA||Kickers of Christmas Past|
Brendan Gibbons was Michigan's second choice at kicker after Penn State (and onetime Michigan) commit Anthony Fera. Fera may be rated higher, but has he ever smoked some fool?
Eh… maybe. Fera's a pretty big dude for a kicker. But it's not on the internet so screw that guy in the ear.
Kickers, who tend to melt down at the slightest provocation, are almost fruitless to project but Michigan might be better at picking out their guys than most since former M kicker Brandon Kornblue has begun carving a career for himself as a guru in the field. Kornblue held a bunch of camps and reported back positively on Gibbons:
For the first time this summer, the Kornblue Kicking School, run by former U-M kicker Brandon Kornblue, was Michigan’s primary camp for evaluating kicker prospects. The camp attracted some of the nation’s elite prospects. The top performer at the June 29-30 camp, according to Kornblue, was West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Neumann’s Brendan Gibbons.
Michigan duly offered and, as is usual when it comes to specialists, the offer was quickly accepted.
Gibbons's got a bigger leg than Michigan kickers of the recent past, having hit a 52-yarder in high school. Rivals says he possesses the third-strongest leg in the class. And though kicking guru Chris Sailer has a vested interest in pumping up one of his proteges, he echoes the big leg stuff:
He has a huge leg and gets the ball up well. Kicks off the ground for FG's and off the 1" for kickoffs. One of the strongest legs in the nation.
ESPN says… well… you see… he's a kicker:
He gets into his field goals quickly and has smooth tempo. Powerful leg and has kicked several field goals over 40 yards including a 52 yarder. Kickoffs average about 5 yards deep with good hang of about 4.0 seconds.
And though he didn't get a lot of work as a senior, when called upon he was accurate:
The 6-1, 205-pound Gibbons has had a strong senior season, converting 10 of 12 field goals with a long of 52 yards. He also has hit 93 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks, and most go out the back of the end zone. Gibbons leg strength is one of his best assets and he expects he'll be able to show it off early at Michigan.
"I hope I can start right away; that's my goal," he said. "I'm pretty sure both their kickers are seniors and that's what they want me to do, so I'll do it. Coach Rodriguez said I might have a shot at punting too."
That 93% touchback number is based on a higher tee and kicks from the 40, so don't expect that to be replicated at Michigan.
He at one point noted Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the MVP of last year’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl who had a drawn-out recruiting process that ultimately came down to the Buckeyes and Wolverines, “should be wearing blue.”
Gibbons isn’t just all show, though. He was consistently booming the ball on field goals and kickoffs during practice.
Even Penn State signee Eric Shrive took note of the leg:
Brendan Gibbons is the East kicker, and Shrive said he was teeing the ball up at the opposite 45-yard line and booting the thing through the uprights and onto the running track beyond the field. That's a 65-yarder with some distance to spare.
"Our kicker is nasty," Shrive raved.
So: Gibbons can kick it far indeed, and has at least two folks very much in his corner—you'll note Tom Lemming's ranking above. Michigan clearly preferred Fera, though, and so there were probably some consistency issues Gibbons had that Fera lacked. Either way he should be better than the dual-headed walk-ons of the past couple years. Or maybe not. This is a kicker, after all.
Guru Reliability: Low. Is kicker.
General Excitement Level: Is kicker.
Projection: Is kicker. And starts this year… how well I can't tell you.
lolfans. I don't mean to take a shot at Ohio State fans in this specific instance, but I did find this shocking development in the Jamaal Berry case funny:
Much was also made of the fact that Berry was listed at 5-8 in his arrest report, though Ohio State lists the incoming recruit at 5-11. While it’s true that height numbers are routinely inflated during both recruiting and college ball, it’s worth pointing out that Berry’s height (and weight) information may have came from his (two year-old) driver’s license and he’s grown the two to three inches since then.
"Oh no! Our star-studded RB recruit might not make it to campus!" was quickly replaced with "oh no! he might be way smaller than reputed!" Which, honestly, would be exactly my reaction if Rodriguez didn't appear to prefer his running backs bite-sized.
Drama. The Big 33 game—an all-star affair between Pennsylvania and Ohio—took place over the weekend, with Ohio winning on a one-yard dive by an offensive lineman. Fitzgerald Toussaint participated and scored twice on a 46 yard swing pass and a six-yard pitch sweep. You can see them for yourself (sort of) at 1:20 and 4:30 in this dramatic highlight video:
Needs more lightning bolts. That first touchdown was impossible to make out, so a couple of descriptions follow. One:
Akron quarterback recruit Patrick Nicely tossed a pass to Toussaint in the left flat where he cut back to the middle and outran the defense for a 46-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
The same kind of thing worked big for Ohio on its next try, three wideouts going deep to clear out the secondary and Nicely finding Fitzgerald Toussaint (Michigan) in the flat and Toussaint making open-field things happen for a 46-yard touchdown.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: where open field things happen.
I forget to spell you again. Every time I go a week or two without spelling "Smotrycz" I forget how to do it and end up typing all sorts of weird stuff in a vain attempt to figure it out, but Smotrycz is endeavoring to come up often enough to forestall this, which I appreciate. The latest events in Smotrycz's slow-motion summer explosion were the Rumble in the Bronx, at which this…
Evan Smotrcyz (6′8″ Jr. SF, Reading (MA) New Hampton Prep) This weekend, he showed again that he’s really come into his own as he continues to play well. He shot the ball well from long range and managed to be aggressive without forcing something that isn’t there. Besides his three-point shots, he scored on jumpers off the dribble and found openings to drive to score as well. The Michigan commit has had a solid spring.
(Note that he's shrunk a couple inches here.) …and the NBAPA, at which this…
The Michigan commit is not that athletic and his game isn’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing. Smotrycz, however, produces. He can score at all three levels and has to the tune of 13 points per game. He can also find the open man and has a penchant for coming up with 50/50 balls. He is not a prospect who everyone is going to love, but it is evident why coach John Beilein thinks highly of him.
…which actually seemed a little negative, as Smotrycz was voted to the camp's 20-man all star team (there were 80 prospects in attendance) and finished around tenth in scoring. It was a busy week for Brandan Kearney and Trey Zeigler, too.
Drafting. The NHL draft approaches and should see as many as six future Wolverines taken, though two of them won't arrive on campus this year. Both future-future Wolverines play on the same team: Rhode Island native Mac Bennett is a member of Michigan's loaded 2010 class, and forward Derek Deblois is currently scheduled to come in for 2011(!), pending early departures. The Providence Journal has an article breaking down their prospects. RLR's Kyle Woodlief on Bennett:
"Someone’s going to like him enough to step up and take him in the second round,'' probably from 45 to 50. Woodlief said that he does not like Bennett’s “lack of discipline in the defensive end. He’s more like a forward playing defense.’’
Bennett is a strong skater –– he has “jets,’’ Woodlief said. “He’s able to create odd-man rushes with his wheels,’’ he said, and “he can handle the puck at high speed.’’
Woodlief suggests, apropos of nothing, that Bennett should go to major junior. Thanks for nothing, Kyle. Deblois, meanwhile, is projected as a sixth or seventh rounder. Woodlief, again, provides the most bluntly interesting assessment:
“He really has soft hands. He knows where the back of the net is. Doesn’t really like to play in traffic, from what I’ve seen. His skating is slightly above average.’’
A Kings scout also chips in:
"He is a very good skater, carries the puck with much jump and deception. Works the boards, corners, goes hard to the net, has real nice hands, puck carrying, puck handling and passing skills, creative offensively, distributes the puck very well. Has to be a little bit more consistent game to game."
The article consists entirely of scouting reports, so there's plenty more at the above link. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
OH CB Courtney Avery, who had been committed to Stanford, picked up an offer after camping extensively at Michigan. And he's now committed($). Informative update coming.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|3*, #23 CB||NR||73, no position rating|
Well, then. This is a huge disparity.
Avery's not too far away from a fourth star on Scout—four stars go to the top #18 CBs—and since the lists generally expand as evaluators get more data, he could move up. For comparison's sake, one-time Michigan lean Lo Wood is Scout's #41 corner.
On the other hand, Avery's not even rated by Rivals and ESPN loathes him; a 73 is basically "welcome to the MAC, kid". I'm not sure what they're getting at with their review:
Avery is an exceptional athlete that his only limited by his physical size. He is light weight but has very good speed and excellent quickness. … Has good hips and can turn and change direction without any loss of balance or control. Shows the ability to play man to man coverage as a corner and can run stride for stride with the wideout on the takeoff route. Closes quickly on the receiver when playing zone coverage.
He's not huge or anything, but even as listed at 5'9", 165 that's not unheard of for a cornerback. There have been message board natterings suggesting he's now 5'11", but… uh… no. They measured him not three months ago and declared him 5'9".
One possible source of the disagreement: Avery is a high school quarterback. He's actually been Lexington's starter since he was a freshman. Check it:
A starter at quarterback since his freshman year, Avery completed 73 percent of his passes during the regular season (122-for-166) for 2,095 yards, 21 touchdowns and one interception and was the Ohio Cardinal Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
Dang. Too bad you're 5'9", kid. You might have been the teeniest starting QB ever:
"Courtney has been in the limelight for a long time -- he was our starting quarterback as a 14-year-old freshman --and to earn a scholarship offer from a program like Michigan, it's a great honor," Payne said. "Michigan had a transition year last year, but it is still a top 10 program nationally. They only recruit the cream of the crop."
Avery's also been Lexington's starter at point guard for about that long and was going to walk-on to the Cardinal basketball team. Anyway, all this means the majority of his focus in high school has been on quarterbacking, as we'll see when we get to his paltry defensive stats. Schools recruiting him are making projections. Michigan, having gotten an extended look at camp, is in a better position than anyone else to make that projection.
And at least some close observers of Ohio football think this isn't a MAC player at all. Duane Long, asked to comment on Michigan's offer to Avery by an Ohio State fan wondering about he and Swigert:
I think it is a great offer. I think Avery is a borderline Buckeye caliber recruit.
"He had a phenomenal workout at Michigan, which is exactly what we expected of him," Payne said. "He was the top defensive back there and he performed as such."
(Swigert is a "reach" for both schools according to him, FWIW.)
Avery's recruitment came to a halt in late March, when he committed to Stanford. His other offers then were of the MAC variety, but Jeremy Crabtree said he was "on track to land several Big Ten offers this spring," which was obviously true. Since the commitment he picked up offers from Vanderbilt and Louisville, FWIW.
Ohio State was looking at him, too.
As mentioned, not much at corner:
He made 19 tackles and recovered a fumble from his cornerback spot and was a first team All-Ohioan.
That honor despite the lack of stats is good, right?
FAKE 40 TIME
There's also Scouting Ohio video for you.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Yes, another three star and the attendant grumbling therein. You have to give the coaches some extra leeway with this one, though, as it is a camp offer based off a lot more than some game film. And given the strong position they're in with a couple of highly-regarded corners it's not like this is a flier.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan still needs cornerbacks, and in some quantity. Highly-rated PA CB Cullen Christian has maintained Michigan as his heavy leader for months now and should drop at some point over the next few months, and then there's Dior Mathis, Rashad Knight, and Travis Williams. I expect two, maybe three, additional corners.
"Michigan has great tradition. It's one of the best programs in the country and, academically, it ranks among the best in the country," said Avery, who carries a 3.7 grade point average and plans to study medicine. "Stanford has the best academics in the country and the football program is on the rise."
In addition to Stanford and Michigan, Avery plans to take official visits to Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Louisville. He won't rush his decision.
…this guy meant all the academics stuff everyone says.