spoiler alert: i linked this
2018 OH DE Leonard Taylor just pulled the trigger after Michigan's spring game:
— Leonard Taylor (@Lenny_T_20) April 2, 2016
Taylor is the teammate of OH LB Antwuan Johnson, Michigan's first 2018 commit, and an early top-25 prospect on 247, the only service with 2018 rankings at the moment. Scout doesn't have a list yet but does rate him a four-star DE; ESPN and Rivals haven't put up 2018 data yet. Validating that 247 ranking is an impressive suite of early offers including the big four in the Midwest (M, OSU, PSU, ND) and Tennessee.
He could end up on the DL or as a tight end; I didn't see any actual scouting at any of the sites yet. Steve Lorenz, who was predicting that Taylor might drop for Michigan, simultaneously warned that Michigan would have to fight to keep him. So keep that in the back of your mind; for now Michigan has struck first, and twice, in Ohio in the 2018 class.
I guess I need to include a SPOILER ALERT for those who weren't able to watch the live stream. If for some reason you want the ending of the Spring Game to be a mystery, and yet you still are on this blog, stop reading now. The full game re-airs at 9:30 on BTN.
Ty Isaac had the best night among the RBs. [Eric Upchurch]
The Maize team prevailed, 14-13, after a stunningly exciting finish for a Spring Game. After John O'Korn juked Mike McCray to cap off an impressive last-gasp drive for the Blue team, but the Maize defense stuffed a fullback dive by Henry Poggi on the ensuing two-point attempt to preserve victory. Your player of the game is Wyatt Shallman. I require no further justification than this:
I won't bother with a full recap, because SPRING GAME, but here are a few players on each side of the ball that stood out to me on first viewing—it was tough to follow line play from the box, so this is mostly going to focus on the skill positions and the back seven.
John O'Korn was at his best when on the move. [Upchurch]
Ty Isaac tallied 78 yards on ten carries, breaking off a few big runs on a night when none of the other tailbacks found much room to operate behind split-squad offensive lines. He ran patiently and chose the right moments to bounce runs outside. He's a major big-play threat with his speed/size combo.
The quarterbacks were steady, which is about all you can ask in a Spring Game, especially since the O-lines—which split starters between the two squads—were inconsistent in protection. Wilton Speight hit 5/6 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown; he added a six-yard rushing touchdown on a waggle and gained a first down with a 13-yard scramble.
John O'Korn didn't put up as pretty of a passing line, completing 6/14 passes for 93 yards, but he rushed for 28 yards and the late touchdown on seven carries. O'Korn did a nice job of buying time by breaking the pocket and picking his spots to scramble downfield. He also avoided any major mistakes. Shane Morris had an up-and-down showing at quarterback, hitting some nice throws but also hucking a pick to Dymonte Thomas in the end zone (more on that later) when he had a receiver open underneath for a first down. Morris moonlighted at receiver and picked up a 25-yard gain on the final drive when he got wide open on a mesh concept.
With Jehu Chesson out and Amara Darboh taking it easy, Grant Perry played the role of #1 receiver for the Maize squad and aquitted himself well. He beat a defender with a nice deep route that left Speight plenty of room on the sideline, then made an impressive catch—unfortunately, Speight's throw took him out of bounds. He had three actual catches for 30 yards; the reserve corners had a tough time sticking with him on intermediate routes.
TJ Wheatley had a drop over the middle, but he later hauled in a nine-yard catch and had impressive blocks against both Mike McCray and Jabrill Peppers(!) to spring Isaac for big gains. The hype train continues unabated. Ian Bunting looked pretty athletic on a 49-yard jaunt down the sideline after his defender got picked on another mesh route. Zach Gentry had a late 19-yard catch, though he's still far from ready to see the field.
Tyree Kinnel played well against both the run and the pass. [Upchurch]
Matt Godin stood out among the defensive linemen who played most of the game, taking advantage of getting lined up across from Juwann Bushell-Beatty—who had a rough go at left guard—to work his way into the backfield consistently. Taco Charlton also deserves a mention for blowing Grant Newsome back a few yards to stuff Isaac's first run; Charlton and Wormley both looked good before exiting early along with several other established starters, including Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis.
I liked what I saw from Mike McCray, who teamed up with Tyree Kinnel for a TFL that forced a Maize punt on a third-and-short run to the outside. Kinnel, meanwhile, looked great; he stuck with his mark in coverage and made a couple stops coming downhill against the run. If Michigan needs to put him out there at safety, he looks ready.
Speaking of safeties, Dymonte Thomas was not boring in the best of ways. On the interception against Morris, he covered a ton of ground to get to a throw intended for Jack Wanger at the back pylon—a perfect throw if Thomas weren't there—then held on after leaping for the pick. I didn't notice any coverage busts from him.
Jeremy Clark doesn't look ready to cede a starting spot to Channing Stribling. He broke up a couple passes, including one after blanketing Wangler on a streak route and forcing him into the sideline; Wangler was so well-covered that he couldn't gain separation even with an obvious push-off.
That's the best I could muster from first viewing in the press box. We'll have a lot more coverage in the week to come.
As One Does
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 1, 2016
It appears Jim Harbaugh is excited about the Spring Game. Or perhaps this weekend's slate of visitors. Or maybe he's just happy to be living the dream. Regardless, this is now my Twitter header photo. I called dibs. It's mine now.
2017 Spring Game Visitors
Steve Lorenz posted a full, free list of weekend visitors. Pretty much the entire 2016 class and several 2017 commits will be there, assuredly pitching Michigan to the uncommitted recruits.
Michigan will host a pair of running backs in top-50 USC commit Stephen Carr and New Mexico three-star O'Maury Samuels. Even with Kurt Taylor (who'll also be there) and AJ Dillon in the class, the coaches don't appears to be done recruiting the position. Carr might be a longshot; M looks to have a much better chance at Samuels.
New Jersey, as is now the norm, will be well-represented. Two Paramus Catholic four-stars, OLB Drew Singleton and DT Corey Bolds, have Michigan and Clemson out in front with the Wolverines presumed to hold the edge for both; while weekend commitments appear unlikely, M could solidify their standing atop their respective lists. Michigan will make their final push for four-star Princeton (NJ) Hun School DT Fred Hansard, who once looked like he was off the board but now is a distinct possibility to join the class when he announces his choice on May 14th. Three-star Bridgeton (NJ) ATH Markquese Bell included Michigan in his recent top ten and is also a decent bet to end up in the class.
The top center in the class, IMG-by-way-of-NJ four-star Cesar Ruiz, set off a potential commitment watch when he tweeted that "big news" is coming today at 5:30. He told Lorenz it wasn't recruiting-related, but Lorenz also noted that could be misdirection; I won't even try to venture a guess on April Fool's Day.
Other 2017 notables include top-100 AL WR Nico Collins, four-star IMG OLB Jordan Anthony, four-star IMG OT Robert Hainsey, three-star TX TE Major Tennison (Texas commit), and a trio of uncommitted in-state prospects: four-star DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, three-star DT Phillip Paea, and three-star ATH Allen Stritzinger.
One recruit has already wrapped up his visit this week. Three-star FL RB Mike Epstein, an Illinois commit, told MnB's Brandon Justice that Michigan made "a big jump" after he met the whole coaching staff and two of his high school's former quarterbacks, Jake Rudock and John O'Korn.
[Hit THE JUMP for 2018 visitors, new 2018 rankings on 247, an in-depth breakdown on AJ Dillon, and more.]
Jedd Fisch sometimes gives off a Peter Lorre vibe[Bryan Fuller]
On the roundtable this week:
- A lot of now-irrelevant Spike stuff.
- Hockey postmortem. Hire Mel.
- A spring game look-ahead.
THE USUAL LINKS
This post has been updated.
— Brice Marich (@BriceMarich) March 31, 2016
Michigan kicked off a huge recruiting weekend a little early, securing a commitment from FL LB/FB Chase Lasater on Thursday night. Lasater is listed at 6'2", 238 pounds on his Hudl page, which until last night was the only thing resembling a recruiting profile on him. The four sites have now added his profile, and a couple have even posted scouting reports.
Lasater entered his visit this weekend holding only a Troy offer. Michigan really values his potential as a fullback, however, so they didn't wait long to give him a scholarship offer, and Lasater didn't wait long to accept it:
"Harbaugh saw me and immediately wanted to offer, so I committed," Lasater told Scout. "Well, I was expecting an offer already, just not that day. But I met Harbaugh, we talked for a few minutes, and then I told him I was ready to commit.
"He then told me that I can commit this second, and I was quite surprised, but I shook his hand and the deal was done. (It's a) great feeling. They can expect a hard-nosed, tough player who will make plays and not let them down!"
Lasater is Michigan's ninth commit in the 2017 class and the first at fullback. He should also get a chance to play linebacker; he best projects as a thumping lead blocker.
|NR ILB||3* FB||NR FB||NR FB||
3*, #25 ILB,
I have no idea how the 247 Composite came up with their ranking, but Lasater's only been given a cursory three-star ranking on Rivals, and they've yet to give him a position ranking.
All four sites list him in the same range as his Hudl page: 6'2" and ~235 pounds. ESPN lists him one inch shorter, which wouldn't be a bad thing if he ends up at fullback—he's plenty big and that would give him a little more leverage when blocking.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
With spring practice just about over and Michigan under 85 it's time to 1) check in with how the Hoke-Harbaugh transition is affecting the roster and 2) finally, thankfully drop that damn 2010 class from these posts. We will officially never talk about Demar Dorsey again. We're also moving past 2011 since none of those guys are on the roster any more. If you need to remind yourself of the final verdict on either of those recruiting classes, the December version of this post should suffice. In brief: "argh dammit" and "bleah," respectively.
Quality starters are bold, contributors italics. Walkons denoted with #.
25 players. Only fifth year seniors left. Brady Hoke class #1.
Devin Funchess, Willie Henry, Kyle Kalis
Enrolled (9): Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Ben Braden, Matt Godin, Chris Wormley, Jeremy Clark, Ryan Glasgow(#)
Played out eligibility (7): Jarrod Wilson, Sione Houma, AJ Williams, Mario Ojemudia, Joe Bolden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, James Ross.
Early NFL draft entry (2): Devin Funchess, Willie Henry
Injury(1): Kaleb Ringer
Transferred for PT (1): Ondre Pipkins
Academics/Not Being Nice (1): Dennis Norfleet.
Not offered fifth year (4): Terry Richardson, Allen Gant, Tom Strobel, Blake Bars.
Since December this class has shed four redshirt juniors who didn't see the field much, if at all, and lost Willie Henry to the NFL draft. That's not much of an impact on the overall results from Brady Hoke's first full class, which was downright terrific. If you add in walk-on Ryan Glasgow, exactly half this class panned out into multi-year starting roles, with five more guys serious contributors. If Michigan had put redshirts on guys like Ojemudia and Houma, who were little-used as freshmen, it would look even better.
The combination of player retention, strikes on sleepers (Chesson, Clark, Glasgow, and Henry were all generic-three-star-or-worse and are likely to go in the NFL draft) and sheer quantity makes this the best recruiting class in the past decade. And that's despite one of the five-stars in the class, Pipkins, failing to make an impact.
27 men. Seniors and redshirt juniors. Brady Hoke class #2.
Jourdan Lewis, Derrick Green, Logan Tuley-Tillman
Enrolled (17): Jourdan Lewis, Patrick Kugler, Dymonte Thomas, Shane Morris, David Dawson, Henry Poggi, Mike McCray, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, De'Veon Smith, Ben Gedeon, Maurice Hurst, Delano Hill, Wyatt Shallman, Channing Stribling, Khalid Hill, Scott Sypniewski.
Injury (3): Chris Fox, Jaron Dukes, Reon Dawson.
Transferred for PT (5): Dan Samuelson, Kyle Bosch, Derrick Green, Ross Taylor-Douglas, Damario Jones.
Academics/Not Being Nice (2): Logan Tuley-Tillman, Csont'e York
Since December this class has shed five guys. Dukes and Dawson took medical hardships and stayed in school; Green, Taylor-Douglas, and Jones all graduated and will land elsewhere as grad transfers despite having only been in school for three years. (Green and Taylor-Douglas did both enroll early.)
With three major exceptions this is another excellent class, featuring at least two high NFL draft picks and probably a few more. The problems:
- Shane Morris was a major risk after missing his senior season with mono, especially since there was no QB in the previous class.
- The WR class was mostly a scramble situation after LaQuon Treadwell opted for the money at Ole Miss. All three players have already left without making an impact.
- The offensive line class was gutted, largely by things outside of the program's control. Chris Fox's knee was never right after a high school injury; Bosch had personal issues; Tuley-Tillman got charged with a felony; Dan Samuelson couldn't hack it at this level. Only the latter was at all on talent evaluation or development.
Harbaugh papered over the first problem by bringing in Rudock and O'Korn; the other two positions look good… and dangerously thin.
Jabrill Peppers, Ian Bunting, Brady Pallante
Enrolled (15): Jabrill Peppers, Drake Harris, Bryan Mone, Mason Cole, Lawrence Marshall, Chase Winovich, Freddy Canteen, Ian Bunting, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Wilton Speight, Maurice Ways, Noah Furbush, Brandon Watson, Jared Wangler, Brady Pallante.
Transferred for PT(1): Michael Ferns.
Freddy Canteen may be on the verge of exiting, per Harbaugh.
Not much change for these guys yet. Early yet for many of them to make an impact, I did italicize a few kids who are likely to play roles this year. Ask again after this year.
The small size of the class is not hugely damaging since the two before had 52 kids in them and didn't suffer much attrition until right about now, but when you have such a small class you'd like it to be filled with more top-end guys. That wasn't the case, as everyone after Bunting on the list above is more or less a sleeper type. Seven shots in the dark is more or less expected when you take 25+; in a class of 16 that's the first hint that Hoke's recruiting was falling apart.
14 men. The Hoke/Harbaugh transition class. Harbaugh recruits denoted with *.
Zach Gentry, Tyrone Wheatley Jr, Keith Washington
Enrolled (13): Zach Gentry*, Tyree Kinnel, Grant Newsome, Alex Malzone, Ty Wheatley Jr*, Shelton Johnson*, Karan Higdon*, Reuben Jones*, Grant Perry*, Keith Washington*, Jon Runyan Jr,, Nolan Ulizio*, Andrew David.
Academics/Not Being Nice(1): Brian Cole.
This is a transition class and transition classes are rarely good. By this point Hoke's recruiting had truly imploded as the product on the field became too unwatchable to ignore. Harbaugh inherited just six kids who would end up signing LOIs, one of them a legacy and one a kicker.
Cole, the only top 100 recruit in the class, went up in smoke for violations of team rules before he could enter his second year. Michigan does appear to have a few strikes already in Newsome, Wheatley, and Perry, but the sheer lack of dudes in it and the 2014 class—just 30 players between the two—is worrisome for the next couple years.
It's worth noting that of all the players who left the team after the 2015 season, Cole is the only one who didn't take a medical hardship or get a degree. Anyone concerned about going too Saban should keep that in mind. When at all possible Michigan has fulfilled their primary duty to the departures.
29 men. Harbaugh class #1.
Enrolled (or about to do so): Rashan Gary, Ben Bredeson, Brandon Peters, David Long, Devin Asiasi, Michael Onwenu, Kareem Walker, Dylan Crawford, Lavert Hill, Ahmir Mitchell, Brad Hawkins, Ron Johnson, Carlo Kemp, Devin Bush Jr, Chris Evans, Nick Eubanks, Khaleke Hudson, Eddie McDoom, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Nate Johnson, Quinn Nordin, Josh Uche, Stephen Spanellis, Kingston Davis, Josh Metellus, Sean McKeon, Michael Dwumfour, Devin Gil.
Obviously only a few of these guys are even on campus yet and there is little to say about them as a result. LB Dytarious Johnson remains in academic limbo.