Pryor. Nevermind. A Mike Farrell article on Pryor:
Pryor admits he was set to sign with Ohio State the day before Feb. 6, but a conversation with his father, Craig, made him think twice. His father wanted him to take another look at Penn State and take an official visit.
The previous optimism-like substance in this space was based on the idea that Michigan was the surprise choice on Signing Day. That was not the case, so that optimism gets a stake in the face. Pryor still maintains that Michigan is part of his decision process, but... uh... no. Michigan was not the choice on signing day and Pryor will not be visiting. One phone call a week from Rodriguez isn't going to change anything. He's going elsewhere, hopefully in someone's Corvette with NCAA investigators in tow.
Eeee? Barwis? John Ferrara:
"We're all going to be in really good shape, and definitely there's a change with his program," defensive tackle John Ferrara said, patting his chest. "I can already see it on myself. In four weeks, the change my body's gone through is amazing. It's a credit to this new workout system he has, a couple new things we had never done before."
2/17/2008 - Michigan 80, Ohio State 70 - NCAA bound, baby!
...is that we go like 4-1 the rest of the season, then sweep through Illinois, Michigan State, Indiana, and Purdue to grab a shock NCAA tournament bid. Being a sub-.500 team that actually kind of sucks, we're sent to the play-in game in Dayton. Seventeen thousand Michigan fans pack the arena to 150% of capacity as the Wolverines blow out Monmouth.
From there, it's pretty rote: one ho-hum victory after another and a second national championship banner. Michigan basketball fans go from abused to jaded and irritating faster than Bill Simmons. The end.
Or maybe not, but it's amazing what three consecutive wins will do for one's psyche, even if they're against utterly dire, mostly dire, and kind-of-dire competition. The last time we checked in on the basketball team around these parts the results ("I want to die," or words to that effect) fully warranted this blog's "emo" tag; nowadays you can visit your Michigan message board of choice and find multiple threads on how this team is so going to the tourney next year, which it almost definitely isn't.
While the bipolarity of fandom is a well-established phenomenon, bipolarity of basketball teams isn't. The last time Michigan played OSU they hung tough for most of the game until a crippling stretch late wherein they couldn't find a shot even close to "good"; the resulting drought lasted for a good chunk of the game's closing ten minutes and turned a narrow Michigan lead into yet another dispiriting loss. This time they continued scoring via turnover and steal and even the occasional drive to the hoop. A month ago against Minnesota they were so depressing it seemed Michigan would never, ever have a good team again; they have now won three straight.
Hell, midway through the first half against Iowa I got an IM from Black Heart Gold Pants impresario Oops Pow Surprise to the effect of "you have the worst basketball team in the known universe," which was true at that moment in time when the score was 22-7 and Michigan had 7 FGAs. I did not receive the corresponding "AAAAARGH AAAAAARGH AAAAAARGH" note during the 18-2 second half run that erased Michigan's deficit and staked them to a lead they would maintain for the rest of the game, but I sensed it in the cosmos so that was all right.
What happened to the clueless team from earlier in the year? Well, with Harvard spiraling its way towards last place in the Ivy League we can safely assert that it takes more than a couple months to organize a system at maximum entropy, and it takes more than a couple months to turn the smartest basketball team in the land into a confused gooey mess. The progress Michigan was decidedly not making from the Amaker era -- at points during the first Ohio State game the offense was indistinguishable from the random, purposeless ball movement of yore -- has all come in a rush.
So for now the future is bright. Check back in two weeks.
- Rushing the court? Seriously? Whoever started that should be given a swift kick in the appropriate place. I realize this is a beaten-down program, but Ohio State isn't ranked and is (now) likely headed for the NIT. It would have been much better to stay in place and deliver a "drive home safely" chant at the OSU retards occupying the upper reaches of Crisler.
- Speaking of, there was again an organized opponent student section, which, like... WTF. The athletic department has got to put a limit on the number of seats anyone can buy and spread these people out. They did provide a moment of terrific irony by chanting "asshole" at Rich Rodriguez during halftime. Buckeye fans will never change. I have a feeling we're on the downswing of the Well Behaved Buckeye Fan pendulum after the relentless focus OSU had on not being cavemen last year. As soon at that relaxes the slide begins; their pathological antipathy for Michigan is so deep-rooted it can go no other way.
- I say this every time I mention Thad Matta, but I don't think much of his ability to do anything except recruit. What was that 2-2-1 press? Kelvin Grady can't do that much yet but his handle has always been the best part of his game; OSU didn't execute a single effective trap off the 2-2-1 and gave up a lot of open looks because of it. And it was immediately apparent that the only Wolverine with even the vaguest hope of checking Koufous was Udoh, so why did OSU settle for a bevy of perimeter shots during the three-or-four minute window in the second half in which Udoh was on the bench? Zach Gibson comes in the game and Koufous sets up for a three-pointer. Uh... okay.
- Since 75% of college basketball is recruiting, it doesn't really matter.
- The Gibson conundrum -- he can't defend anyone and is the only backup post -- means that incoming C Ben Cronin is going to be key next year. He's 7'1" and ponderous, according to the gurus, but it's hard to ignore a stat line with 17 blocks on it even if this team photo indicates this isn't exactly downtown Philadelphia:
There's one guy on the team Cronin isn't a foot taller than. (Picture during Cronin's sophomore year, so he's probably less spindly now.)
- Michigan had four turnovers at halftime and nine for the game. I... uh. Is that legal? I don't remember.
- Eleven Warriors recap.
- Anthony Wright's emergence into a guy who can shoot and maybe be useful for 20 minutes a game is a huge boost to the program going forward. I don't think anyone was counting on him to do anything except be mini-Ba; now he's obviously the best SF on the roster. Faint praise, perhaps, but since the State game he's shooting 39.3% from three. Though can't really do much else at this point -- in that stretch of six games he has 28 three-point attempts and eight two-pointers, though he's made six of them -- no other SF on the team can do anything. Wright turning into a useful piece is like adding another Stuart Douglass to the recruiting class.
- Anyone looking for more extensive basketball coverage should check out UMHoops.com, a promising new blog with a self-explanatory name.
THE RESSONS AR MENY This provides conclusive evidence that State does rule all:
Stumble. I was looking for stuff on Darryl Stonum when I stumbled across this video of Sam McGuffie going for 6 TDs in his first-round playoff game:
None of those looked particularly difficult or anything, but FWIW. McGuffie's HS career would end the next week.
Draft Bits. Wolverines appear to be moving up the board: on ESPN Todd McShay mentioned Jake Long as the leading candidate to go #1 overall once the Dolphins decide Matt Ryan sucks, though not exactly in those words. Chad Henne's also supposed to be moving up into a solid second round pick; given the way these things work out I wouldn't be surprised if he snuck into the late first. Accursed shoulder injury.
He ran a what? I told you that guy was a 160-pound economics major. Yeah, so the football team held open tryouts yesterday. How did they go? Check the background of this picture from the Daily:
Add in one inexplicably hot chick and an international student that speaks no English and this looks like my EECS 380 class from back in the day. The Daily has a couple articles, one from an... er... "hopeful":
"We're just looking for athleticism," Hopson said. "We wanted to see how they moved their feet, their hips, and you can just put in the paper that you did fantastic."
I wouldn't have a shred of journalistic integrity if I omitted the fact that Hopson burst into a deep belly laugh after that sarcasm-laced response.
There's also a straight news story for your perusal with this awesome passage:
Some of Thornbladh's former teammates, including wide receiver Greg Mathews, quarterback Steve Threet and punter Zoltan Mesko, lounged on the pads behind one of the fieldhouse endzones and kept a running commentary on the performance of the walk-on candidates.
"Probably fun to see somebody else get pain delivered to them," Rodriguez said. "They got pain delivered this morning at 6 (at the team's workout). It's probably human nature to watch someone else suffer, especially when they were running gassers there at the end. That's probably the most enjoyable."
A reader who participated sent in this report:
Rich Rod held universal undergrad tryouts for walk-ons. It wasn't well publicized, but it happened today at Schembechler Hall. Don't know whether you care or not, but a lot of our coaches (ALL of whom were present) were fantastic guys. Rod congratulated all of us at the end even though most of us blew - it was an amazing gesture that I will never forget.
What I can vouch for is that Barwis is amazing. His presence is absolutely terrifying, he's so incredibly motivating that even in the brief time I was there I would have done absolutely any drill he made me do as hard as I could. He's a very, very special coach - you want to do exactly as he says because you're so very sure that it'll make you better. During the suicides that we did at the end, he singled me out because I was lagging and screamed at me; I've never willed my body to go faster ever in my life. Awesome.
Also got to meet a couple players that I think could contribute - there's a kid whose name I think was Caleb that I feel very certain may get at least a spring training spot - he was from Ohio and was trying out at RB.
It was an opportunity that I will NEVER forget.
Andrew C. (LSA Junior)
The net impact of the walk-on program is likely to be zero unless we have an Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God string of injuries at one position, but it's another symbol of change at Schembechler Hall. Rodriguez is open with information about the team, is expanding Michigan's presence with clinics and camps, holds open tryouts to laugh at undergrads, and wants to have a spring game somewhere or other for the publicity. The program seems fun and young again.
Hello, old friend. A brief bit of Weis-bashing for old times' sake:
Weis also plans to meet with various alumni groups he has cheesed off with his arrogance. Weis attributed the face-time plan to a new
NCAArule barring head coaches from evaluating prospects from April 15-May 31.
So he'll use the extra time to make nice with Notre Dame's grumbling alums. I've seen Weis walk away from conversations with people in mid-sentence. Harder to do that when you're the first Irish coach since Hugh Devore to lose to Navy.
Weis has resigned from playcalling duties with his typical humility, which was the entire reason
he was hired in the first place. I got some concerned emails about the Tenuta hire that I might address in an upcoming mailbag, but I'm not too concerned. Charlie Weis has proven a couple things so far: 1) he can recruit and 2) he's around the tenth percentile in terms of interacting with people in a productive way. Nothing's going to fix #2 unless Weis gets his brain trans-reversed by aliens, Steve Dallas-style.
Notre Dame is never going to be as entertainingly awful again as they were last season -- that was a once in a lifetime opportunity for schadenfreude -- but there's no way a good coach's team is that bad in his third season on the job.
Etc.: Rodriguez is studying up.
Swearing herein. Save the children.
Wednesday: at the Fanhouse I pick up an article from Tim Gayle and expound, once again, on the dodgy practice of oversigning, using Alabama's class as an exemplar of shady behavior. The past two days: everyone in the state who can write and has an internet connection responds.
Awww, that's not fair. I can't make a joke about Alabamans' inability to count or read when the Joe Cribbs Car Wash put up an excellent post about the situation. No, it appears the disease is restricted to Tide fans. Maybe that's why they have numbers on their helmets.
There are two separate issues here.
Issue #1. Alabama is unlikely to actually have the nation's top recruiting class because a large chunk of it isn't going to get to campus. This is an irritation I have with the guru rating services and not an issue with Alabama per se. The best example of this phenomenon was Auburn's class last year, thirty-strong and top-ten on signing day but reduced by a third by the time fall practice rolled around and decidedly not top-ten.
This is indisputable. We even looked up the numbers last year. SEC teams often sign guys with little or no chance to qualify, and their swollen classes end up looking better than they actually are. The average SEC team experiences an attrition rate double that of the average Big Ten team, but this is not accounted for.
Issue #2. Nick Saban has taken the concept of oversigning and stretched it unto its breaking point. This is a nasty, filthy practice only undertaken by a program that couldn't really give a crap about the idea of a mutual commitment between player and school.
Issue #1 is a personal quarrel with the recruiting sites and doesn't have anything to do with Alabama. Some of the angry hornets went "LOL" and contested that in unconvincing fashion; I'll let that drop. Issue #2 is what really riled, and I'll attempt to address some of the claims put forth by "coachbots," as the JCCW eloquently dubs them.
I don't see any substantive points in the posts at Third Saturday in Blogtober, the Capstone Report, or Tide Druid and won't address them directly. Since they're all chock full of personal insults and insights into my "obsession" with a guy who coached Michigan's third-biggest rival a decade ago, let me point out that each of the above-linked posts is a tribute to Alabama's fine educational system and its constant focus on things like grammar and knowing how to use spell check. Gentlemen, there are typos and there's you.
The voodoo math over at Roll Bama Roll, however, deserves a response:
Actually, this class really only included 30 signees, not 32. See, this is where, you know, actually following Alabama football closely -- as opposed to following it via the headlines and then heading off to your computer to piss and moan on your AOL blog -- really pays off. Two of our signees, wide receiver Chris Jackson and kicker Corey Smith, graduated high school early and actually enrolled this past January. Those two signees are thus back-counters, and are part of the 2007 recruiting class, not the 2008 class. As a result, just doing the basic math, our 2008 class effectively consists of 30 signees, not 32.
I love it when someone condescendingly makes a moronic "point." Yes, early enrollees are permitted to count against the previous class. No, that does not mean they are fairy players who don't take up a scholarship spot. The issue is Alabama loses fifteen seniors and brings in thirty-two players. This means 17 slots have to appear from nowhere. Early enrollment doesn't help that.
And that is even if you don't consider the fact that Wesley Neighbors may very well end up on a Bryant scholarship -- since he is most likely not going to play in his first two years on campus anyway -- and therefore he will not count against the scholarship limit this year. If that is indeed the case, as many expect, this class suddenly goes down to 29 players.
Anyone on scholarship and on the football team counts against the 85 limit.
Moreover, you act like Alabama and Miami are the only two programs to sign that many players, completely ignoring the fact that signing 30 or more players is a relatively common occurrence. This year alone, aside from the aforementioned two schools, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Minnesota, Ole Miss, and Kansas State also signed 30 or more players. In 2007, Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina all signed over 30 players, just to name a few. In other words, if you really think signing that many players is an aberration, you haven't been paying attention.
The fucking point is that fucking Alabama is going to kick kids off the fucking team for no fucking reason. The point is not that violating the NCAA's made-up limit is evil. The NCAA limit is there because the NCAA would like you to not kick kids off the fucking team, but for various reasons the rule's pretty easy to skate around. The issue is not 32 > 25. The issue is that 70 + 32 > 85.
There's more not easily blockquoted, but OTS contests the idea that many kids won't qualify by saying that "everyone has a very legitimate chance to qualify" and then immediately asserts three or four won't make it, then further asserts later that the estimate -- Tim Gayle's estimate, not mine -- that four to six guys won't qualify is "completely bogus" and "laughable."
Attention asshat: five players in this Alabama class will not be on the team this fall. That's that NCAA maximum thing. Maybe there's a grayshirt or two in there, but a about a sixth of the class is going to JUCO... whether they qualify or not. More kids qualifying only makes the oversigning dirtier.
There is a stupid paragraph about medical scholarships intended to combat the idea that they're shady, something I never advanced and don't think.
And then there's this:
And "forcibly extracted"? What are we doing here, pulling teeth? It sounds like it, anyway, with terms like that. In reality, players are going to leave and we all know it. Many of the former staffs' previous signees, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, do not fit with the current scheme and may very well end up going elsewhere. I guess since you are a Michigan blowhard, we'll call this Ryan Mallett Syndrome so it will hit a little closer to home. Others will simply leave because they cannot handle the Fourth Quarter Program. Either way, no one is being "run off" or anything sinister of the sort.
There is a difference between what's likely to happen at Michigan after spring practice -- a few transfers from kids that no longer fit in the offense -- and what has to happen at Alabama. Michigan will be operating under the 85 scholarship limit this fall and has every incentive to keep
those players around. They will be leaving of their own volition. Alabama has every incentive to dump guys. They flat out have to. If a kid is struggling with his academic eligibility how motivated will Alabama be to help him? If a player commits a petty offense how eager will Alabama be to boot him? If Nick Saban knows that by August he has to say goodbye to six kids and it's July and he's only got four down, then what?
I'll tell you what: someone gets it right in the ass.
That's why oversigning* is scummy. Attrition is bad, but tolerable when it's clear a kid who's transferring away is doing so voluntarily. If Mallett transfers to Arkansas because he likes the offense better, fine. Without oversigning we know that if he stayed the scholarship would be there for him. When you have to cram 91 kids into 85 spots, the very real specter of a push hovers over every jumper.
Though all scholarships are technically one-year commitments, in practice players are guaranteed four years as long as they remain eligible and keep their noses clean. There is one legitimate way to remove a kid from your team without some sort of malfeasance on his part: fourth-year juniors are commonly not offered a fifth year unless they are contributors.
'Bama has a few of these, but some of them are already accounted for and others are obviously going to return. By situation:
- Ezekiel Knight, Will Oakley, and BJ Stabler are all mentioned as medical scholarship candidates by Gayle; the six scholarship gap is only a mere six because they've been removed from the calculations already.
- Rashad Johnson, Nick Walker, and Antoine Caldwell are starters and will be back.
- OL Cody Davis is a candidate.
- WR Jonathan Lowe has academic issues; he's a useful returner who would normally return.
I went over the roster closely; these appear to be the only redshirt juniors on scholarship. Potential non-shady departures not already accounted for are, at most, two.
So what's Saban's motivation here? He has somewhere between five and a dozen scholarships to free up (the latter will only happen if the NCAA repeals the limit next week and OTS's prediction that I'll "eat my words" about players failing to qualify comes true). Is he going to help Lowe stay eligible? Is he going to shuffle the deck so that guys who could be eligible this fall are not?
The JCCW sums up:
So unless six guys have a fantastic conversation with a representative from their local congregation of Latter-Day Saints and take off for a two-year mission in Estonia, Saban's going to have to, well, tell six guys they're now responsible for their own $12,000 a year if they would like to continue receiving a college education from the University of Alabama. Given that any player Saban chooses to cut is likely to also be the sort of player he can't find a use for on the field (given that if you are useful, he will find a way to get you on the field, by golly), those scholarships and the education attached possibly carry even greater importance to the players in question than most of the team.
(And should take heart that the "whoops, seeya!" given to four Auburn players isn't as bad as it looks, as three of the four are fourth-year juniors.)
Maybe oversigning by one or two is reasonable, but not in the quantity seen at Alabama.
Now, Saban is not alone in this. In the blog post by Bruce Feldman cited in the Fanhouse post, Feldman asserts that schools can make incoming kids ineligible if they want to. I know of at least one player this happened to: erstwhile Michigan defensive end Eugene Germany, who signed a letter of intent with USC but "didn't qualify." He did nothing the fall semester, then USC asked him to take some classes at a local JC. He declined, did nothing further, and enrolled at Michigan the next fall. Germany got jacked because USC ran out of spots.**
This is a widespread issue. Unfortunately, I do not have convenient summary articles for Miami or LSU or USC. Oversigning should be halted. You should not be able to sign a player to a letter of intent unless that player is qualified and you can demonstrate where his scholarship is coming from. No one should ever be locked into a commitment that doesn't go both ways.
Does this happen in the Big Ten? Not really. Though oversigning was sort-of approved, you have to explain where the scholarship is coming from:
When the Big Ten made the change in 2002, it instituted a policy where teams could oversign by no more than three players, and DiNardo said a detailed explanation behind the oversigning had to be submitted to the Big Ten. The SEC is among the conferences with no guidelines.
As a result, very few Big Ten teams even attempt to oversign, and none by the margins seen here. (Minnesota and Illinois have brought in large classes the last couple years but had been operating well short of the scholarship limit before that.)
This should be universal NCAA policy, and already is in some sports: Michigan hockey could not sign probable first-round pick Brandon Burlon to a letter of intent this fall because they could not demonstrate where the scholarship money would come from. Football should follow suit. Now.
*(just to be clear for any morons reading this, we're not talking about going over the NCAA limit here, we're talking about signing so many guys that you are forced to remove a number of players from the team to meet your obligations.)
**(Germany got tackled from behind by a cop after stealing some chick's phone and then had a series of team rules violations; he transferred to a JC and is now at Arizona State, but he could have gotten his malfease on at the same time the rest of his high school class entered school.)
Last Weekend: Three points from Miami should have been four but alas, it was not so. Yost Built took a look at both games in detail (Friday win, Saturday tie) for those wishing to assign credit and blame in a more organized way.
What leapt off the page to me, from Friday's game:
The Miami players tried to criss-cross, but Langlais read the play, and picked off the pass. ... Langlais made a good pass to spring Kolarik in all alone. ... And a nice rush by Langlais. ... Palushaj's nifty stick work nearly resulted in another goal that was off a nice keep by Langlais. ... Langlais came up big as well. He picked off a pass at the end of the penalty, brought it into the zone, and threw one in front that nearly connected. ... Langlais had another gorgeous keep at the blueline. ... Porter's slam dunk goal off that beautiful passing play came off another great keep at the blueline by Langlais.
Langlais has gotten a lot of stick from fans for a few critical errors he's made, but he's been a fixture on the blueline for a reason. He's good. Maybe he makes a bad pinch now and then, but he makes up for it.
This Weekend: Lake Superior State. The Lakers are bad. Very bad. Do not believe the Daily article that claims LSSU is on a streak of some sort. Yes, the Lakers have gone 3-0-2 in their last five games, but more properly they're 3-1-2 in three weekends against Ohio State, Western, and Ferris. The Lakers appear to be incrementally better than the worst teams in the league.
This year the CCHA is a heavily stratified league with four teams (Michigan, Miami, Michigan State, and Notre Dame) in a first tier of teams headed for the NCAA tournament, five teams hovering at or around .500, and three teams getting smoked night-in and night-out. Lake State, along with Ohio State and Western, is one of the smokees, and though they're in 10th place their goal differential is the worst in the league.
Guess who's Lake State's leading scorer? None other than Zac MacVoy. MacVoy spent his freshman year at Michigan, playing in about half the games and racking up four points. When it looked like he'd be stuck on the bench for the rest of his career, he returned to juniors for a year. Now he's the Lakers' centerpiece forward. This is good for MacVoy, who from all accounts was a nice kid, but also speaks to the lack of talent in the Soo. If he was still in Ann Arbor he'd be kicking around Michigan's third or fourth line. Other than MacVoy the only real offensive threat is Nathan Perkovich, a strapping young lad who goes 6'5" and has soft hands but can't skate to save his life. He's the dangerman on the powerplay with eight goals.
Uber-goalie Jeff Jakatis, who stole a game from Michigan last year and should have been a Hobey finalist, is gone. In his place is an uninspiring platoon. Both Brian Mahoney-Wilson (good luck with the sieve chant this weekend, kids!) and Pat Inglis sport save percentages under .900.
Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Miami have all run up the score when opposing the Lakers, and this weekend should be no different. Expect a sweep; if Michigan can't get it they've blown the CCHA title.
Pairwise Matters. Michigan reclaims the #1 spot from Miami, but their hold on that slot is tenuous despite the head-to-head win. (If Michigan had not been jacked by Shegos and Langseth on Saturday, on the other hand...)
There's happier news elsewhere: current #3 UNH, #5 Denver and #6 North Dakota have no chance to win their comparisons against Michigan without a wholesale implosion. Only #4 CC has a reasonable shot at passing Michigan, and they've got an RPI hill to climb. The upshot: I think Michigan has locked down a top two seed and the right to play one of the small conference autobids even if they lose two more games, and probably three unless CC goes nuts down the stretch.
Other games of interest: Miami takes on Ferris State in Big Rapids. This may be the last opportunity for Miami to drop points with the Redhawks' final two series against two of the three awful teams in the CCHA. A split would give Michigan considerable breathing room down the stretch.
Michigan has a shiny 8-2-2 TUC record they'd like to see remain intact; you should be rooting for UNO -- currently the 25th and last team that counts as a TUC -- from here on out (this weekend they go up against Bowling Green). BU is hovering just outside the TUC zone and was swept by Michigan earlier this year; root for them as the season winds down. This weekend they take on shockingly terrible Maine.
Teams you would like to see do poorly: Northern Michigan, which is getting close to TUC status itself with its sweep of State and owns a split against Michigan, Colorado College, which is the only team other than Miami with a realistic shot at winning its comparison with Michigan, and Wisconsin. Yes, Wisconsin was beaten by Michigan earlier this year and Badger victories help the SOS, but the only way Michigan gets a friendly (and drivable) regional is if the Badgers bomb out of the tourney. If Wisconsin makes it, Michigan is getting shipped somewhere very far away.
BU over Maine
UNO over Bowling Green
Minnesota State over Wisconsin
You generally want any Michigan opponent to win. In the CCHA you would like to see State, Northern, and Lake State win since Michigan plays each four times, but you don't really want Northern to become a TUC. You can feel free to pull for Providence, Michigan Tech, and Minnesota, but only because Minnesota is definitely out of the tourney.
A disclaimer on the "You May Remember Me From Such Players As": YMRMFSPA is supposed to be a rough estimate of what kind of player the recruit could turn into if he pans out. It is not a projection. The players listed tend to be very good because no one knows what kind of player Doug Dutch is; we just know he can't get on the field. I am not saying that I expect Martavious Odoms to be Devin Hester, the best return man in the history of the NFL. I'm saying that Odoms is sort of like Devin Hester and if we roll a second critical hit on our critical hit roll he might be half as good.
End disclaimer. On with shew.
|Sugarland, Texas - 6'2" 180|
|Scout||4*, #12 WR, #73 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #7WR, #41 overall|
|ESPN||82, #14 WR, #71 overall|
|Other Suitors||Florida, Alabama, USC, FSU|
|Notes||Early enrollee. A couple highlights from Rivals; more, with bonus John Wienke footage for Iowa fans. An interview with GBW's Sam Webb. He's a funny guy. Pre-season interview with Stonum.|
Stonum is the second piece of Michigan's Houston-area skill position haul, a dynamic receiver who was universally acclaimed one of the country's top wideouts. Unfortunately, there's an odd paucity of data out there for such a highly-touted recruit; more on that later.
Stonum's commitment may have been locked up last February, when Michigan signed his Dulles High teammates Troy Woolfolk and Brandon Herron. Non-stop praise for the program from those two and soon-to-be Michigan commitment Sam McGuffie had the Wolverines atop Stonum's list consistently, though he would occasionally throw out scary quotes about everyone being even. These quotes were made doubly scary since the "everyone" included USC and Florida, both of whom offered and pursued Stonum heavily. When Stonum announced he'd be coming to Michigan over the summer, it was a relief.
Given the heavy interest from powerhouse programs and the universal top-100 rankings from four different sites, Stonum must be good. But there are no highlights floating around in the free areas of the web and no one willing to descend from the scouting mountain to tell us what to expect. There's this from veteran scout Randy Rogers:
Sugar Land Dulles's Darryl Stonum is a worthy apprentice for Michigan to plug in behind Biletnikoff Award finalist Mario Manningham.
"Stonum, I think, is special,'' Rodgers said. "He can also return punts, and he's 6-foot-2. He's just exactly like what Michigan's been playing with.''
This is good, but "special" does not constitute detail. We've got his height. All right, then. Maybe some highlights?
There are a couple more of better quality interspersed in this effusive interview with Stonum's coach:
(Side note: it appears these videos were uploaded by Stonum himself.) Though ESPN throws out weird evaluations with frequency, in this case they're the only game in town when it comes to a description of his game. Thus:
Stonum is one of the smoother players we have seen in this class and is a legit vertical threat. He is silky smooth for lack of a better term. He is very natural in terms of his change-of-direction skills and body control. Has fluid hips for a taller receiver and is a smooth route runner who doesn't have to gear down a lot when going into and coming out of his breaks. He is tall, has long arms and good leaping ability. Has shown the consistent ability to come down with the jump ball.
Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude. Now if we can just get the ball to him...
Guru Reliability: Maximal. They're all in the same ballpark, and they all say he's gooood.
General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.
Projection: If Carr was still in charge this would be easy: one season of blocking on telegraphed run plays followed by a breakout sophomore season. Under Rodriguez, Stonum will probably get more early looks, especially with only three other receivers on campus now. He'll play and may get up to around 20 catches.
|Klein, Texas - 5'9" 170|
|Scout||4*, #16 RB, #160 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #9 all-purpose|
|ESPN||80, #18 ATH|
|Other Suitors||BC, Wake Forest|
|Notes||Same city, but not the same school as OT Mark Ortmann.|
I have an inordinate fondness for players like Terrence Robinson. I was terribly excited about Marquis Maze, the small-school Alabama midget who temporarily a Michigan commitment last year and hoped that Pennsylvania midget Cameron Saddler would bring his kickoff-return exploits to Michigan. Though those hopes were both kiboshed, Rodriguez and company tracked down Terrence Robinson to fill the crazy-legged slot ninja spot vacant since Steve Breaston took his talents to the NFL.
I'm delighted. This is why:
There are other reasons, most detailed in the post that introduced Robinson to MGoBlog readers: he was named team MVP and MVP of the Klein area over teammate, top 100 prospect, and Texas commit Deshawn Hales. He outrushed Hales by some 1000 yards. He might be underrated because a transfer kept him out for his junior year.
So Breaston's up there as a comparison, and that seems close, especially because Breaston also had to make a transition from high school quarterback. Though Robinson will have an easier time in the spread 'n' shred, which will give him a lot of screens and carries from the backfield, there is the potential that Robinson is something less than a natural receiver. Fellow wonder midget Martavious Odoms might have an early edge on Robinson, about more which later, despite Robinson's higher rank in the eyes of the gurus.
Guru Reliability: High-ish. Only one year, but at a major school that got a lot of attention.
General Excitement Level: Moderate++. Like Martavious Odoms below, his size will likely prevent him from becoming an out-and-out star, but his impressive rise from unknown to four-star says he's talented.
Projection: Immediately in the mix as a returner and battles with Odoms to become the designated bubble screen and reverse guy.
|Pahokee, Florida - 5'8" 160|
|Scout||4*, #49 WR, #293 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #71 WR|
|ESPN||78, #56 WR|
|Other Suitors||WVU, USF, Miami|
|Notes||Pahokee's Big rivalry game is called "The Muck Bowl." State championship highlights. Why are they so fast? They chase rabbits. Literally.|
What is Martavious Odoms? Fast.
"Man, that number 83 (Martavious Odoms), they say he runs a 4.2 - I didn't expect him to be that fast," said Dion Lecorn, who lined up opposite Odoms much of the day. "I was playing both ways and I got tired and lost focus."
Lecorn played for Trinity Catholic, the team that beat Pahokee for the state championship in 2005. Odoms was a sophomore.
Odoms is also... fast. But with hands!
"You're talking about a kid who at the age of 14 caught a touchdown pass in the state championship game," Blustein said. "He owns three state championship rings and 60 percent of that offense Pahokee had this season was because of him. He demands double coverage. There's a lot of wide receivers out there bigger than him, but he's blazing fast. He's a jet with great hands. I remember seeing him make an over the shoulder catch against Glades Central that was just unbelievable. He'd be a solid No. 2 receiver for somebody."
This youngster can flat out scoot. Odoms accelerates as well, if not better, than any wide receiver/scatback we have seen in this class.
With that being said, he is more sudden and quick than he is fast in terms of top-end speed.
Shows good vision in the open field and displays excellent change-of-direction ability. Is shifty and elusive in space. Will consistently make the first defender miss. His ability to separate and explode off the cut or after the catch is awesome. Reaches top speed in a hurry and can stretch the field. He can also be dangerous on reverses. He has huge upside in the return game and gamebreaking open-field skills.
Ok. Quick. Jim Stefani:
An explosive and dangerous player who lacks great size but has everything else. He's quicker than a hiccup (4.12 shuttle as a soph), runs great routes, is strong for his size (14 bench reps as a soph), tough, athletic, goes vertical (34-inch vertical), blocks well and is a very hard worker. A real playmaker.
Fast! A contact very familiar with Florida high school football:
He's a tough SOB. Small cat, really tough, will remind you of Steve Smith. Very, very fast. I'm a huge Martavious Odoms fan, you'll love him.
You get the idea: Martavious Odoms is a tiny man capable of teleporting short distances. Highlights:
It's difficult to tell if this is a consistent thing, but Odoms appears to track the ball well on deep throws and has a knack for over-the-shoulder catches (this can be seen more clearly in the state championship game video linked above).
Odoms' Pahokee team competes in one of the smaller classes in Florida and dominates it. The 2005 championship for Trinity Catholic was preceded and followed by back-to-back Pahokee titles, the latest a 53-14 blowout in which Odoms had 5 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. Over the course of his senior season he had 41 catches for 936 yards -- almost 23 per catch -- and 10 touchdowns.
At one point he had an impressive set of offers that belie his kinda-meh final choices. (The Miami offer was basically a grayshirt, as they offered him a track scholarship with the intention of bringing him to the football team after this season.) Notre Dame was the first in March; they were quickly followed by Iowa. South Carolina and Rutgers joined over the summer, and then the floodgates broke: LSU, Oregon, Alabama, Tennessee, West Virginia, South Florida, and Auburn had offered by mid-October.
Oddly, Odoms seemed almost totally uninterested in recruiting until midway through his senior year, when he finally visited Auburn and started paring down his list. West Virginia, then the home of Rich Rodriguez, featured heavily (and, indeed, finished second for Odoms' services), as did USF and Miami. Odoms actually delayed his decision and joined Michigan's class a few days after signing day
Guru Reliability: High. Pahokee's a well-scouted Florida powerhouse with multiple D-I players and Odoms was well known from his freshman year.
General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.
|Trotwood, Ohio - 6'2" 156|
|Scout||3*, #89 WR|
|Rivals||4*, #44 WR|
|ESPN||76, #103 WR|
|Other Suitors||Purdue, Illinois, Nebraska|
|YMRMFSPA||Jason Avant on a starvation diet|
|Notes||Very excited about the medicinal properties of his newly-acquired snake oil. Video interview; Purdue commit feature from Rivals. Low-quality highlights.|
The recruit that caused Joe Tiller to call Rich Rodriguez a "wizard-hat wearing snake-oil salesman," Roy Roundtree finds himself at the heart of a thunderous West Lafayette-based controversy. But we're not in West Lafayette or anywhere in Indiana (state motto: "Probably not Ohio"), for that matter, so we don't care.
We do care about Roundtree the player. This assessment of Roundtree after his performance in the Kirk Herbstreit challenge seems about right to me:
The player that personally impressed me the most is Roy Roundtree. He has really evolved as a receiver over the last year. He burst on the scene as a junior and made some amazing catches, and that allowed him to build confidence in his abilities. He is absolutely fearless coming over the middle to catch the ball. He may not run a 4.4 forty, but of the games that I saw he most likely had best hands of any receiver that took the field.
Another brief scouting report in that vein:
He catches everything and he is elusive in the open field. The most impressive aspect of his game was his fearlessness coming acrossed the middle of the field.
He is really effective out of the slot using his size, quickness and savvy to find soft spots and get down the seam. He is tough and will go up and fight for the ball in traffic and isn't afraid to make the clutch grab across the middle of the field. His hands are soft and he catches everything-- shows good focus and concentration to track the ball and haul it in.
His ScoutingOhio highlight video (from his junior year) had a number of diving catches and a pair of beauty one-handers but little in the way of explosive cuts or deep balls. Roundtree was committed to Purdue and he seemed like a quintessential Purdue receiver: lacking physically in some way but a sure-handed possession guy who runs nice routes and can slice apart a zone. No wonder Tiller was pissed.
Though Roundtree is being brought as a slot receiver like Robinson and Odoms, he's a different sort of slot receiver and, if he works out, will fill a different role on the team. He won't be the recipient of any bubble screens, but will camp out in holes in the zone and use his long arms and leaping ability to flag down eight-yard passes on third and seven.
At 150 or 160 pounds it's unlikely Roundtree sees the field as a freshman; as he brings something no one else in this class (or the class before it) does he's got a good shot at filling a #2 or #3 receiver role once he puts on enough weight to prevent being snapped in half.
Guru Reliability: High. No reason they'd misevaluate a kid at a high profile school like Trotwood-Madison and he went to a couple of different camps on top of that.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.