"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Additions to the commit list for the Maize and Blue means the rankings go on the front page. There was a ton of action across the league (plus future member and Michigan recurring opponent), with only Purdue and Indiana not grabbing any new ones.
Action since last rankings:
6-28-10 Notre Dame gains commitment from Ben Councell. Northwestern gains commitment from Matt Frazier. Illinois gains commitment from Reilly O'Toole.
6-29-10 Michigan gains commitments from Jack Miller and Kevin Sousa. Northwestern gains commitment from Zack Oliver. Wisconsin gains commitment from Derek Landisch.
6-30-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Nick Vannett. Nebraska gains commitment from Nicklas Sade. Iowa gains commitments from John Raymon and Ray Hamilton. Minnesota gains commitment from Samuel Oyenuga. Illinois gains commitment from Justin DuVernois.
7-1 Iowa gains commitment from Jake Rudock. Michigan State gains commitment from Joel Heath.
7-2-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Ron Tanner. Penn Satte gains commitment from Shawn Oakman.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings have been converted to their "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system, and ESPN uses grades out of 100.
|#1 Ohio State - 17 Commits|
Buckeyes pick up a couple highly-rated guys to stay atop the heap.
|#2 Notre Dame - 12 Commits|
Notre Dame picks up a commit and moves ahead of Nebraska on the basis of average ranking. They have a better average by all three services.
|#3 Nebraska - 13 Commits|
Nebraska picks up a kicker, which actually brings their ranking down to #2, as they're passed by Notre Dame. When a of their commits are ranked, they could move back ahead.
|#4 Michigan - 7 Commits|
Michigan picks up a pair of commits, helping keep them ahead of Michigan State. Don't be surprised if Sousa ends the year much more highly-rated.
|#5 Michigan State - 7 Commits|
Spartans pick up an under-the-radar DE in Joel Heath.
|#6 Indiana - 18 Commits|
Hoosiers still lead the way in number of commits, but their average ratings aren't so hot.
|#7 Iowa - 8 Commits|
Iowa had a couple big days in the middle of the week, but their average rating numbers didn't do so hot. Once all their commits are ranked, they should look much better.
|#8 Northwestern - 7 Commits|
Northwestern bumped past Purdue on total commits, even though their average ratings are slightly lower. Once their guys are fully ranked, this should look better.
|#9 Purdue - 5 Commits|
Purdue stays behind Iowa on the basis of fewer commits with about the same averages. They slide behind Northwestern, because the 'Cats have about the same ratings among their top 5 commits, plus two more guys.
|#10 Minnesota - 6 Commits|
Another week, another as-yet-unranked commitment for the Gophers.
|#11 Wisconsin - 5 Commits|
Badgers are seriously forming a recruiting class composed entirely of tight ends and linebackers. Behind Minnesota on the basis of fewer commits with approximately equal averages.
|#12 Illinois - 6 Commits|
The Illini are set for a big bump once all their commits are ranked.
|#13 Penn State - 1 Commit|
Slightly less lol Penn State, but still some.
Bigger, grungier, made of scraped anger. I've been guessing somewhat wildly that Mike Martin will move away from the nose tackle spot he gamely tackled a year ago. It makes sense in a ton of different ways; Adam Patterson's weird move inside also provides circumstantial evidence. If that guess is correct, there's good* news about the defense's stoutness. FSU blog Tomahawk Nation took a look at the general relationship between enormous angry men close to the opponent quarterback an defensive success, finding quite a bit of it. They then draw an arbitrary line at 1780 pounds (which they say 'one' might argue is arbitrary, so chalk me up as one of the ones) and suggest that being below that line is bad.
They then commit a superior act of link-baiting by relating this post directly to the readers here:
I broke down the Wolverines separately. Michigan comes in at 1828 lbs, which really bodes well for their defense performance this season. Last year they had a front 7 of 1720 lbs. Extremely impressive improvement and the second largest we have seen (Mississippi State +120). Even more so considering the move to a 3-3-5 hybrid.
That does assume that Brandon Graham is getting replaced by Will Campbell. (The three returning starters adding about twenty pounds each seems assured.) If that's the case, Michigan's front 3.5 can hang with anyone on a pure beef level; with Barwis's emphasis on good weight they should be even better on the BEEFCAKE level.
The secondary? Ask again later. Maybe Tomahawk Nation will come up with a way to make me feel better about that other than closing my eyes and hoping really hard.
*(Correlation does not equal causation but after the last two years give me a break here.)
Tom Crean: anti-Brewster. Brewster's twitter machinations establish the TRY FIGHT WIN endpoint of the CFB head coach twitter continuum. And while Crean isn't quite at the Weis point that marks the other end (Went to Bon Jovi concert with son/full stop/advised offensive linemen on awesomest Baskin Robbins flavors/full stop/story continues in next thirty-six tweets/full stop), he's not far off. Watch him bash anonymous opponent skeeze-merchant assistants, then entirely fail to repent and hit up the head men:
“Frankly some of the assistants we go against I wouldnt let valet my car. They either would lose the keys or drive away with it.” – June 29, 3:18 PM
“In all honesty there are some Head coaches that would be the same way. The ones that wake up on 3rd base and think they hit a triple kill me.” – June 29, 3:20 PM
There's no way Crean's talking about anyone related to the Michigan program, which is good and bad.
Given certain NCAA limitations -- talking to you, Trojans -- we're more likely to see a Big 12 North rivalry in Pasadena in the near term (Colorado-Nebraska) than Michigan-USC.
Even if USC is be facing down a two-year bowl ban, they're more likely to to end up in the Rose Bowl than a team that lost to Toledo by 16 and couldn't fire their coach because they didn't have enough money. That's only part of an extended section about how the Rose Bowl is just horrified that Utah might end up in it when the new Rose Bowl contract already all but guaranteed that a mid-major would be selected for the game sometime before 2014.
Dodd then goes on to wildly praise Larry Scott for adding Colorado and Utah to his conference, a move that is extremely debatable financially and athletically, because he had big ideas, and caps that by proposing Big Ten divisions that split Michigan and Ohio State. These are dubbed "lessons."
Skinflint. These numbers on football spending rounded up by Fanhouse and broken down into a convenient Big Ten list by Fight For Iowa…
- Ohio State - $32.30 million
- Iowa - $26.90 million
- Wisconsin - $22.71 million
- Penn State - $19.13 million
- Michigan - $18.03 million
…are so crazy as to be suspicious. Michigan's enormous renovation of Michigan Stadium was in its first year. They'd just hired Rich Rodriguez , paid most of his buyout, and were still on the hook for the Carr assistants who did not take other jobs. Despite all this, Michigan checks in fifth in Big Ten spending and barely manages half of Ohio State's outlay. Clearly, these numbers all come from a big database and have not been sanity checked. I wouldn't put much faith in them.
Irony ironically un-ironic. This is not ironic:
The major sticking point everyone points to is the quarterback situation. In fact, some people are calling it a disaster. Once you get past the irony of a Michigan blogger calling the Penn State quarterback situation a "disaster", step back and ask yourself, "Is it really that bad?" Yeah, ok, we have to break in a new quarterback this year. Welcome to college football where you have to break in a new quarterback every other year. Lots of teams plug in a new quarterback and have very successful seasons.
Irony is a fanbase that roars when Beaver Stadium's chintzy pregame hype-up declares "WE ARE PENN STATE… AND THEY'RE NOT" perpetually accusing another fanbase of arrogance. (Will Michigan EVER make a bowl again, BSD asks, totally oblivious.) Someone with grand recent experience when it comes to disastrous quarterback situations declaring a setup with a walk-on, a couple true freshmen, and Kevin Newsome—who even BSD admits "looked terrible" in the spring game—is not.
100% committed until tomorrow. An update on the status of 2011 hockey commit Alex Guptill from the man himself:
For the time being, Alex is committed to play for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League next season before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall of 2011. However, that may or may not change, following his meeting with Stars management in Texas today (June 30).
“Right now, I’m committed 100 per cent to the Waterloo Blackhawks,” Alex said. “I’m looking forward to stepping up in a little bit higher of a league and improving my game.”
Maybe "100 per cent" is not the best thing to immediately follow "right now," but it sounds like Guptill's strong preference is to play for Michigan next year. If the Kings had drafted him, that quote would be reason to worry. Dallas less so. Haven't had an update since, so we'll see.
Slightly good news? I'm not sure how much this helps but it certainly doesn't help. SEMO, one of the schools that's recently run into trouble for violating NCAA practice guidelines in a similar fashion to Michigan, saw an appeal shot down. But in the midst of saying nein they did also say this:
The presence of a coach before or after an otherwise voluntary workout may be inadvertent, or occur with no intent by the coach to confirm the student-athletes’ attendance or to otherwise engage the student- athlete in countable athletically related activities. Thus, while this committee does not set aside this finding, we note that this general statement in the report should not be construed as the mandatory interpretation of the relevant NCAA legislation without reference to coaches’ intent and other pertinent facts in a given case.3
The Bylaw Blog suggests that Michigan may argue that some of the impermissible events were still voluntary, though they'd obviously have to show that the presence of coaching-type folk had a legitimate purpose. Since they've already responded to the NCAA, that's not likely. It may be a further indication that Michigan won't get anything tacked on in August, not that Michigan seems to expect any additions.
Etc.: Six Zero interrogates MGoShoe, the poster with the highest signal to noise ratio in the history of MGoBlog. (SERIOUSLY)
In isolation, Laval Lucas-Perry's exit from the basketball program is not a big deal. Last year his offensive rating and effective field goal percentages checked in lower than notable bricklayer Stu Douglass. For perspective, this is what Douglass managed in 2010:
Stu Douglass … had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage.
Being less efficient on offense than a guy who is in turn less efficient than a 5-25 SWAC team is quite a trick, and not one that indicates fans are going to spend draft night two years hence punching the wall because you went in the lottery. As departures go, LLP's is more Kelvin Grady than Ekpe Udoh.
Unfortunately, that attempt to dismiss the impact of the departure overlooks one key item: this basketball team actually needed Kelvin Grady. I keep on this like a broken record, but the team's best three-point shooter in 2009 other than the departed CJ Lee was none other than Grady. Whatever deficiencies he had as a player probably wouldn't have kept him off the floor in a year when no one could dribble or find the backboard in three tries. Next year, the basketball program will need Lucas-Perry and won't have him. It would be nice if Michigan's program was the sort that could sustain the loss of a guy like LLP without blinking. It's not.
So LLP's exit does not come in isolation. It comes in the midst of this:
Last year’s off-season was the epitome of stability and optimism. I spent the summer blogging about which national reporter had Michigan in his preseason top 15 and how Michigan was hot on the heels on Casey Prather and Trey Zeigler. This summer is the polar opposite — the news continues to revolve around a mass exodus of bodies out of Ann Arbor. One early entry. Three assistant coaching departures. One dismissal. Just four returning players who have played in a collegiate game.
Add in the crippling transfer of a player already on campus that leaves one position shockingly bereft of experience and talent plus an early entry into a draft that has no interest in the entrant and the basketball program is acquiring a distinct whiff of whatever horrible thing has plagued the football team since Rich Rodriguez took the job. We went into 2009 hoping the football program would mirror the basketball program; we go into 2010 fearing the reverse. Beilein tossed Rodriguez a rope and started pulling him out of the quicksand only to find himself waist-deep in turnover, facing down an almost assuredly lost year spent trying to get a bunch of underclassmen to stop running into each other.
UMHoops calls the above an "ominous sign" and it's hard to disagree. Momentum may be a hugely overrated concept when it comes to individual games, but on a program level it's not. Michigan had an opportunity to establish itself an up-and-coming program last year only to totally blow it on and off the field. Now instead of enduring an understandable bump in the road as the last of the Amaker players give way to Beilein's recruits, the bump is the anomalous NCAA year that establishes nothing. It's a dead cat bounce. Now we've got as much kick as Penn State does over the last decade. Hoorah.
I've previously said that I think Beilein's going to get a fifth year no matter what happens in 2010 and that year six probably requires no more than an upward trajectory from whatever filthy pile of used needles the team spends next offseason in. The dismissal of one role player doesn't change that, but it does add to the pile of foreboding tidings surrounding the team and how likely it ever is to get off the mat and become consistently decent. That was Beilein's promise: consistently decent or better.
If it's hard to see that happening at the moment, it's equally hard to see how a Michigan administration is going to find anyone more likely to pull that off. They aren't going to hire a coach with the tiniest hint of skeeze. Trying to be a basketball power without skeeze when you're an hour an a half away from school with the country's best performance-to-skeeze ratio is almost impossible. And firing the head of the NCAA's basketball ethics committee a couple years after self-administering a stern talking-to for the first time in the history of your football program is going to be a bridge too far for the administration unless they have no other choice. Beilein will be handed every opportunity to get things moving in the right direction.
You can put together a scenario where Smotrycz is Pittsnogle II and Hardaway is a diamond in the rough and a roster pushing 6'6" average height is a tough nut to crack defensively and there's an NIT bid next year and an NCAA bid in 2011 and Brundidge comes in and is Rodney Stuckey and etc etc etc. You'd have to be a little daft to expect it, though. Michigan basketball looks to be stuck in this amazing limbo where there's little expectation of success for the next three years and little recourse despite that.
But have I mentioned Carl Hagelin?
Programming note: for the rest of the offseason, Recruitin' will shift to Thursdays, since it makes the schedule work out a bit better. We'll re-evaluate the scheduling in the build-up to the season.
All-time updates can be found on the Michigan Football Recruiting Board.
Jack Miller And Kevin Sousa Go Blue
Local fluff on Jack Miller's Michigan commitment, from the Toledo Blade. Jack plans to redshirt in his first year on campus, though he aims to make the travel squad. His commitment came on what would have been his father's 42nd birthday on Tuesday. More video on him, this coming from the Michigan Football Showcase.
The Orlando Sentinel covers the commitment of Kevin Sousa. Kevin says he's not concerned about playing early in his career, and will get time on the field once he earns it. If quarterback doesn't work out in Ann Arbor, he's willing to switch positions. I doubt that situation will arise. Scout also talks to Sousa in a free article. Here's Kevin's performance in the Lake Nona spring game:
That's even more impressive than his junior highlight. If he can put up the numbers this fall, Sousa is might end up as a four-star prospect to the recruiting sites. He's already impressed them in camps, now just needs to carry it over to the field. Now that he and his team have both moved past their respective first years playing football, that seems like to occur. He's attened a zillion Elite 11 camps this summer and is getting talked about as a potential selection there, too. Film breakdown from Touch The Banner.
Some of this will be a bit of housekeeping, eliminating guys that aren't really on Michigan's radar anymore, or guys who committed elsewhere that I haven't removed yet.
- MI QB Jake Thompson. He won't ever get an offer. Maybe Michigan's golf coaches should look at him, though.
- SC WR Charone Peake. Clemson commit.
- FL WR Ja'Juan Story committed to Florida.
- FL RB/Slot Javares McRoy. Switched from a soft Texas Tech pledge to a firm Gators commit.
- FL RB Chevelle Buie committed to Rutgers.
- MD OL Cyrus Kouandjio has not been mentioning Michigan.
- FL OL Trey Pettis. I hadn't realized that I failed to remove him from the board. He's a Florida State commit.
- AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena. Committed to Oregon.
- OH OL Matt Skura committed to Duke.
- IN OL Kiaro Holts committed to North Carolina.
- DC DT Kevin McReynolds has a top 12 without Michigan.
- VA DE/DT Corey Marshall committed to Virginia Tech.
- OH DE Bryan Baird committed to Ball State a ways back.
- FL S Alex Dixon. No mention of Michigan lately (or at all, really).
- SC S Pat Martin. Top/final four ($, info in header) doesn't include Michigan.
- MD S Brandon Phelps committed to Virginia.
- OH S Eilar Hardy committed to Notre Dame.
- OH CB Charles Perdue. Not in either database, and there's only been one story about him that I've seen.
TE Ray Hamilton committed to Iowa, and OH S Ron Tanner is expected to commit to Ohio State tomorrow, but I'll leave them both on the board for now. I'll go into more detail on Hamilton in next week's recruiting update. With Michigan's class starting to take shape, I'll be just a bit more willing to remove guys that aren't getting a ton of attention.
NC LB/WR Kris Frost made it to Ann Arbor last week, after many other planned trips fell through. Tom interviewed him, so I'll get to the big story first:
With Auburn, it's pretty close. Michigan is a school that I love a whole lot, and I always have. Auburn has put a lot of work in to recruiting me. Both of those schools seem closely related in how the visits went, and they're almost identical.
Those two sound like a very very solid top two, and he'll get a chance to visit the Wolverines several more times, to catch them up with the Tigers:
We're all planning on coming back another time before the season starts, this summer... With Michigan, we didn't really get the chance to get up to as much, so we're really trying to make up for that. I'm definitely going to try to make it up to two games during the season, too.
Now that we have that out of the way, let take a look at how he actually enjoyed the visit itself:
My family and I went out and looked at everything, it was great... [My parents] were worried I would get lost in the excitement. My mom and dad talked about that, and they said everything was great and more. They saw it wasn't too crowded, and that the attention on the football players is great... They really feel like learning is a top priority there, and it's not all about football to them. Obviously we all want to win football games, but there's more than that... Michigan really came off as a great place to live.
Very positive overall, I'd say. With at least three more visits before the end of the season, the Wolverines will have a serious chance to build up a lead for Frost's services. He also plans to visit some of his other suitors, as well. For the full update, check out Tom's interview.
GA S Avery Walls took a two-part visit to Ann Arbor last week - sandwiched around a quick trip to East Lansing - and came away impressed with the Michigan program. Sam Webb dropped the details in last week's Detroit News column.
"We discussed what the program was going through with a new AD coming to the school (in addition to) some of the stuff about him staying (at Michigan). It came out really positive. He really informed us on things that are going on because the news perception is different than what is actually going on... They have limited spots, but they said I was one of their top people so they said that they are going to keep my spot open for me."
He was also impressed with the facilities and - of course - Mike Barwis. Though his mother is an Ohio State alumna, it sounds like Michigan has a great shot. He plans to commit by the fifth game of his high school season. How does the kid describe his game?
"When coaches see me they say, 'He is not one of those big 6-2 safeties -- he is 5-11, 190, but he loves to hit,'" Walls said. "I grew up playing hockey, so I love contact. But I'm also fast. I ran a 10.65 100 meter, and we had the state champion 4x100 team than ran 42.39. So I can play corner or safety. At corner I like to get up on guy and get in their heads and be physical with them. At safety I like to come in from 10 yards out, punish the ball carrier."
Sounds like the Wolverines have an excellent shot, and I'd be willing to wager that they made his recent cut ($, info in header). In other news out of Georgia, GA DE Ray Drew is giving the Wolverines a hard look ($, info in header). I would imagine that the UM recruit he has a friendship with is Walls. Drew is a major longshot, though if Michigan has a good season, they'll stand a chance, as he doesn't plan to decide until signing day.
Added OH TE Frank Clark, who impressed at Michigan's summer camp ($, info in header). The Wolverines are definitely looking for a tight end in this class, so he might get an offer if they don't feel particularly good about their chances with anyone else. FL OL Tony Posada visited last week, and now has Michigan back atop his list ($, info in header). OH OL Ray Ball "has a good time" at Michigan ($, info in header). IL DE James Adeyanju visited Ann Arbor once more last week. KY LB Lamar Dawson took a three-day visit to Michigan last week ($, info in header).
Local fluff on NJ TE/DE Taques Franklin, who will officially visit Michigan.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi will visit Michigan in the next couple weeks ($, info in header).
IN OL Nick Martin should be visiting sometime in the future ($, info in header). He holds a Michigan offer.
TX LB Kellen Jones has set a timeframe for a decision ($, info in header). He was recently impressed by a visit to Arkansas, though The Recruiting Guy is notorious for making every kid seem like a lock for the Hogs, so take his article with a grain of salt. Jones also headlines Tom's weekly update, including visit and timeframe ideas:
Kellen originally wanted to commit before the season, but the offers started to come in, more and more, so we decided that it would be in the middle of the season. He's going to try to make it up to Michigan, but we're not sure when.
For more on Jones, as well as PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett, GA S Avery Walls, FL OL Tony Posada, and FL QB Kevin Sousa, check out Tom's update. Tom also published a full interview with Jones, who many presume to be a Michigan lean. When an interview starts with
I grew up a Michigan fan through my dad, and he grew up a Michigan fan, so yeah. He was a big fan when Jim Harbaugh was playing quarterback for Michigan. He loves the maize and blue, and he passed that on to me. I know The Victors song, and everything.
and ends with
Ok, make sure to tell the Michigan fans that my Dad and I say, Hail to the Victors!
Now that Sousa is officially Blue, I've added his teammate, FL RB Jarius Pace, to the recruiting board. Pace is a transfer to Lake Nona, and has to sit out the first two games of the year. His presence on the field will hopefully open things up for Sousa, allowing him to have a big year.
LA CB Daren Kitchen has been effusive about Michigan in the past, and he's still waiting on them to offer ($, info in header). Conventional wisdom says that it wouldn't take him very long to accept that offer.
The situation seems to be similar with IL OL Chris Bryant, according to a particularly revealing Scout header. The Wolverines are in his top six, and he talks about how cool it would be to be able to play for Michigan. Should Michigan offer, they stand an excellent chance to land him. He was impressive at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, as well as the Michigan Football Showcase earlier this spring, so an offer isn't out of the question.
In a free Scout article, OH OL Ryan Kelly places Michigan in his top five. He hadn't heard from Michigan for a while, but they've re-emerged on his radar. No decision is imminent.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012.
OH S Allen Gant, son of former Wolverine Tony Gant and a cousin of a guy you may have heard of called "Charles Woodson," recently visited Ann Arbor, and enjoyed what he saw ($, info in header). FoxToledo.com followed up on his recruitment:
Gant grew up an Ohio State fan, but his family is split down the middle between Ohio State and Michigan. One of those family members, cousin Charles Woodson of NFL fame, won the Heisman Trophy with the Wolverines.
Overall, Gant lists no favorites. He lists education and opportunity as his main priorities, hoping to make an impact sooner rather than later. However, his decision will come at just the opposite: later rather than sooner. Gant hopes to take time to evaluate all of his options before making a decision on the next step in what he hopes will be a bright future.
Michigan should have a good shot as long as they can perform on the field this year.
IL OL/DT Dan Voltz is interested in hearing from Michigan.
Michigan has verbally offered FL WR Avery Johnson. He favors a host of Southern schools, unsurprisingly, but there is plenty of time for Michigan to catch his attention. He's a big outside wideout, and Michigan will probably be looking to take only one in next year's class, depending on how 2011 shakes out. He is the younger brother of onetime Michigan target (and current LSU safety) Patrick Johnson.
I guess this ends the wondering about whether Laval Lucas-Perry will be granted that 5th year of his scholarship for the 2011-2012 year. Press release:
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, and DE Jordan Paskorz.
|Wyoming, OH - 6'2" 255|
|Scout||4*, #15 DT, #174 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #25 SDE, #26 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #45 DE|
|Others||#10 OH to JJHuddle.|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Indiana|
|YMRMFSPA||Brandon Graham if Michigan is super lucky|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post|
Ever since Lou Holtz retired, it's been something of a Michigan tradition to get a small boost to the recruiting class whenever Notre Dame's coach gets the axe. When Bob Davie got the axe, Michigan picked up Jeremy Van Alstyne. When Willingham followed three years later, Michigan grabbed Brandon Harrison.
But when Charlie Weis went to the great Dunkin' Donuts in the sky, it looked like a battered Michigan program would not have the opportunity to cash in with a four-star-ish prospect. Then Notre Dame hired Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and Jibreel Black finally took the visit Michigan coaches had been trying to get him to take for a solid year. A weekend later, he flipped his commitment from hometown Cincinnati to the Wolverines, keeping Michigan's opportunistic streak alive. (If only Notre Dame had hired a coach as clueless as their last three, but that's another show.)
The flip was actually Black's second of his recruitment. He originally committed to Indiana—where his brother Larry is a starter—last June before decommitting to sign up with the BCS-bound Bearcats in November. Along the twisting path of his recruitment he also grabbed offers from South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota, NC State, Illinois, and South Florida, amongst others—a solid selection of programs outside the top tier.
What he lacks in decision he makes up for with quickness and on-field production. Black led his Wyoming Cowboys—yes, like the college—to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the state semifinals, winning a Cincinnati-area player of the year award, first-team All-State recognition, and co-Ohio defensive player of the year after racking up ten sacks on the year.
Black was named to the South team in the Ohio North-South All Star game, whereupon he unleashed his inner beast upon the poor Northerners. He had three sacks, a number of additional QB hurries, and was named his team's defensive MVP after killing the North's last threat with a fourth-and-goal sack. OSU site The O-Zone on his performance:
The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”
And though this Dispatch article doesn't specifically mention Black, it might as well:
Every bit as deserving of the honor were the South's quick and nasty defensive linemen, who worked over the North's huge counterparts in dictating the tone of the game. North quarterbacks were on the run all night, resulting in turnovers and impossible third-and-long situations.
"From watching practices I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to handle them up front," South coach Mark Crabtree of Dublin Coffman said. "Our guys on the D-line are not gigantic, but they're powerful and explosive and play with a mean streak. We were really hard to block, and we gave our offense some pretty good opportunities."
In the aftermath, a few Ohio State fans were regretting the Buckeyes lack of interest. The kicker: Black did all this playing as a three-technique defensive tackle after spending his high school career at defensive end. To get that kind of pass rush from an interior spot is doubly impressive.
Given that performance it's not a surprise that Black is often described as a DE/3-tech tweener who could play either spot in college. Scout's Dave Berk:
"Black is a player who could line up as a defensive end or at the tackle position," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Dave Berk. "He's got great burst and will give all out effort on each play. He does a good job going lateral and shows great strength and toughness. With good size and speed, Black is still learning techniques and moves that will take his game to another level."
ESPN's evaluation also touches on the positional uncertainty:
On film, he has kind of a thick and squatty build with less-than-ideal height. He almost looks like a defensive tackle, but plays the end position well. He has a good get-off and though we would like to see a little more consistency he can get moving quickly.
This makes him doubly interesting given Michigan's increasing desire to be multiple on the defensive front. Michigan has a guy in Van Bergen with the flexibility to line up inside and out and that versatility, combined with the versatility of Mike Martin, should give Michigan the ability to flip through three or four fronts without missing much of a beat this fall. If that works out well, Black will be part of a second generation of DE/DT tweener folk whose flexibility is part of their attractiveness to the staff.
And now here's a bunch of stuff that makes you think Brandon Graham. The direct comparison from Touch The Banner:
When watching his film, he looks almost like a clone of Graham. He's short-ish and thickly built. Perhaps the best thing I see on film is the way he keeps his shoulders square to the line. Too many talented athletes in high school fire off the ball and shoot straight for the ball carrier, but college opponents will take advantage of that lack of discipline. His fundamentally sound positioning shows that not only is he coachable, but the biggest obstacle for him might be his strength and conditioning. He does play a little upright, but at only 6'2" and going up against tackles who are three to five inches taller than him, leverage shouldn't be a major issue. I'm sure Michigan's coaches will work with him on staying lower, being explosive, and using that leverage to the best of his ability, but that's not a big concern.
The indirect comparison via a guy who was basically Brandon Graham on a good defense from Black himself:
“I have good quickness and speed off the ball. I have good athletic ability too. I play kind of like (former Michigan linebacker and current Pittsburgh Steeler) Lamar Woodley - fast, strong and powerful.”
“I want to work on my moves off the ball,” he said. “And I want to get faster overall. I’m also working on my hips and flexibility.”
The things that aren't actually comparisons but just sound a hell of a lot like Brandon Graham, first from his coach:
“He was great for us, I’ll tell you that,” Barre said. “He’s extremely quick, cat-like quickness I feel like, and he’ll get after the passer. He’s physical, strong, relentless, has got one of those motors that’s always going. I think they got a great player.”
Then from JJ Huddle:
He plays with natural leverage and balance and can shed blocks. Strong enough to anchor against verses the run and explosive enough to rush the passer. Does a good job a feeling blocks and fighting pressure.
And some more bits of the ESPN evaluation:
Displays the ability to stay low and is very active with his hands. He can punch, separate and shed from blocks. He is able to work laterally and stretch the play. He is tough at the point of attack. Does a good job of playing from the backside, though we would like to see him squeeze down more. He is very aware and is able to take on and strong-arm pulling linemen. As a pass-rusher, he is ready to face and defeat backs once he gets into the backfield. He has good speed and a solid closing burst. … He works to attack that outside shoulder and use his weapons to knock the blockers hands down and turn the corner.
If there was one move Brandon Graham trademarked it was blasting the OT's hands down as he and his squat frame got underneath the pads of the opposition and blew into the backfield.
And, finally, a Brandon Graham comparison would not be complete without a mention of positive off-the-field qualities from his coach
"It's extremely important to have kids like that who work hard and set a good example," he said. "Some of the kids we have now who are getting looks from college programs have benefited greatly from the role model that Jibreel has been."
"I ran into the coach of that team [the South All-Star Team], Mark Crabtree, and he let me know how much he enjoyed Jibreel and what a great kid he was and what a great leader he was for their all-star team," Barre said. "As soon as he got there for practice, he took over a leadership role and was named one of the captains." …
"It's tough to compare his position to a quarterback or a cornerback like Ahmed Plummer, but he was certainly the best defensive lineman I've ever coached," Barre said.
We're about to get into this section, but: it would be preposterous to declare anyone to be the second coming of Brandon Graham after he became the bar-none best defensive lineman I've ever seen at Michigan, especially given Graham's monster recruiting profile, Black's middling-to-good version of the same, and a lack of interest from other Midwest powers. That said, Black sounds an awful lot like Graham, stem to stern, and that's something to get excited about. If he's 80% as good as Graham and goes in the second round, everyone will be delighted with the kid's career, and that seems like a distinct possibility.
Etc.: Just don't put this on your eyeblack, kid:
Indiana assistant coach Mike Yeager, Black’s lead recruiter, told Black earlier Monday that he will make a difference at Indiana.
“I can be the Michael Vick of Indiana University,” Black said.
Why Brandon Graham? Slightly undersized strongside defensive end with outstanding character and a tendency to make quarterbacks run screaming from his frequent appearances in the backfield. Now… obviously Black is considerably short of Graham's recruiting hype and Black is not likely to be a first round pick in four years. A poor man's Brandon Graham, then, which would be fine by me.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy kid but one who played at a small school, and one facing a significant split in opinion between ESPN and Rivals on one hand and Scout and the local evaluators on the other.
General Excitement Level: High-ish. Here's betting the negative evaluations would be more positive if they'd been made in the aftermath of Black's all-star game performance. He battled questions about level of competition through his recruitment and while he wasn't going up against BCS kids in the N/S game he was going up against the college bound, and he answered spectacularly.
Projection: Could play some this fall as Michigan will need someone to step into the rotation next year with the imminent departure of Greg Banks; could also redshirt given the two-deep at DE seems decent enough. If I had to bet I would say he plays as a backup to Van Bergen an occasional pass-rush threat in long yardage situations.