I GET IT
Yesterday Michigan picked up a commitment, its 14th, from PA h-back/linebacker Christian Wilson. What follows is a comprehensive assessment of him based on that old standby, the Google search.
If you unwisely decided that "Dick Butkus fake* takes over a crappy high school team" was a good show to watch, you may remember Wilson as the injured captain of Montour on the show Bound For Glory. That didn't work out so well: Butkus, only paid for eight weeks, rolled out of town a couple weeks before Montour ended their season 1-8. Wilson's still angry about how he was portrayed on the show:
"(I was mad) because the way that they came out with it," Wilson said. "The show wasn't the way that they predicted it to be with all the drama. They basically turned it into what they wanted it to be, and that really wasn't what it was. That's what made me mad the most. It made me look like something I'm not."
Hurray benevolent ESPN overlords.
Anyway, Wilson's recruitment is somewhat odd. Despite a flood of early, prestigious offers (by May, Wilson had offers from...
The Demon Deacons have already offered as have Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Florida, Virginia, Clemson, Maryland and Louisville (first offer last September).
...and that number setteled around 40-50 in most articles starting around midsummer) he's only a mid-to-low four-star recruit to the guru services. Rivals ranks him #235 in the 2008 class; Scout pegs him at #292. ESPN is far higher on him, grading him an 81 and ranking him #107 in their ESPN150. Their scouting report($) projects him as a 240 pound OLB:
Flashes the speed to chase plays down from the backside with a great short-area closing burst on contact. That skill at 225 pounds is what separates him. He can generate force quickly for his size and bring the wood with him on tackles. In coverage, he shows his offensive experience by displaying great ball skills and awareness. Demonstrates fluid hips and athleticism in his turns and crossovers, but his instincts to read the quarterback and pattern match are what really stand out. ... At times, he plays stiff with lacking good change-of-direction skill. However, we are also talking about a college sized linebacker who can split out at wide receiver and stretch a defense. Wilson just needs time to polish up, and add technique to his raw skill. If a college team can be patient developing this kid -- they could have future stud on their hands.
Michigan, though, intended on bringing him in as an H-back in the mold of BJ Askew or Aaron Shea:
"I went to the Michigan spring game a while back and it was really cold," Wilson said. "It was like 30 degrees and they didn't get as many people out there as they thought. The coaches are really smart and they said they could see using me a lot. The want me for H-back and are one of the only schools that have already specified a position."
That may have changed recently, with Michigan changing its offer to "wherever":
Michigan initially recruited Wilson as a running back, but he's also considered as one of the Wolverines' top linebacker prospects. Wilson doesn't prefer one position over the other, but he says he's more comfortable on offense because that's where he's played his entire life.
Last year he played both ways; he'll do it again this fall:
The previously injury-plagued Wilson is stronger and healthier and focused on improving upon his junior campaign, when he rushed for 970 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also recorded a team-high 79 tackles.
I'm a bit less excited about the Wilson commit than I would normally be given his array of offers -- h-back doesn't seem like a position of huge import and there's a convincing case that Ohio State's pursuit was less than fevered -- but he's still a versatile player who has two ways to find the field, the size to be a Big Ten linebacker or fullback/TE, and some guru support.
Random things. This was mentioned yesterday but bears repeating. Wilson has some shiny-ass teeth:
People might be surprised to know that ... I brush my teeth like a million times a day.
Also, he's apparently the Antichrist** (and all this time I thought it was Jim Tressel):
Poems by Christian Wilson: 6 / 14 next poem >>
I Am The Antichrist
Flames licking at my body
I start to rise out of the depths
From darkness i shall come forth
And walk among you on your earth
Will you recongise who i am?
Will you bow down on your knees?
A gift i bring to you, its called pure hate
An emotion you have never known
This feeling do you like it?
If he sacks Jimmy Clausen the ensuing matter-anti-matter reaction will destroy the planet! Maybe we should keep him on offense.
"Bound For Glory" is the story of the Montour High School's quest to turn a losing football program into a winner under the direction of coach Dick Butkus, the NFL Hall of Famer. And that's the lie. Butkus is not the coach. He might be the coach on the TV show, but he's not the real coach of the Spartans. Lou Cerro is the real co
**(just to be clear, this isn't actually Christian Wilson. It's some 21-year-old emo kid with other masterpieces like "Anger and Pain," "Demons Inside of Me" and "Revenge of the Crow." But hell yes his suggested nickname is going to be "the Antichrist." )
PA HB/LB Christian Wilson has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Hey, wow. Mere days after I exhume an old piece that beat Stuart Mandel about the head for vastly misrepresenting Lloyd Carr's actions in the BCS voting mess an excerpt from his book restates this inanity:
Jilted Michigan coach Lloyd Carr blasted Meyer for his lobbying tactics, calling his comments "inappropriate," and pointed out, correctly, that had USC won, voters likely would have kept the Wolverines ahead of the Gators.
I say this again: euthanized koala bear. Ugh.
Bizarrely, Corn Nation has a positive review of the Mandel book that contains this sentence:
Consider "Bowls, Polls And Tattered Souls" as a highly concentrated version of [Mandel's] 'Mailbag" column.
Next to "is full of anthrax" I can't imagine a less appealing thing to say about any printed matter. And yet... a positive review. There's also this:
Say what you want about Mandel. Call him an idiot because he doesn't rank your team high or has a different point of view, but he knows how to kick-start a conversation.
Unfortunately, that conversation is usually "how is this person SI's most prominent college football writer?"
Pre-hindpsychology. Michigan and Ohio State's defenses both ended the year in the same fashion: giving up gobs of points and yards.
Kirk Herbstreit on one:
I really want to see where their defense is psychologically after the [final two games].
Kirk Herbstreit on the other:
I think the defense was embarrassed by [the bowl game] and will have a chip on their shoulder.
You're reading a Michigan blog and Herbstreit is an Ohio State alumnus, so I probably don't need to tell you that the former describes Michigan and the latter Ohio State. Ah, television analysts. I don't mean to jump unduly on Herbstreit here since everyone who's ever been paid to say anything about college football on ESPN breaks out similar rationales constantly, but just... yeesh. That's a perfect exemplar of the nothing fluff that passes for useful words constantly: defense A is shattered psychologically! Defense B has a chip on its shoulder! I've referenced this term in the past; Fire Joe Morgan pegged this phenomenon perfectly a while ago:
The day after a sports team loses in the playoffs, people suddenly have a lot of (typically intangible) insights as to why that team was always destined to fail in the first place. It's a combination of hindsight and psychology that I am deciding to call hindpsychology, because I am a fan of sports portmanteaus (or as I call them, sportmanteaus).
A perfect example of this is the infamous 51-day layoff that, since Ohio State got rolled, is cited as a cause of rust and woe that would have been time to get healthy and prepare had the Buckeyes won. Herbstreit doesn't actually have a reason for saying anything in the cited article, but he does have opinions that require justification so he drags out this junk. Said junk is handy because no matter the situation the team finds itself in, you always have some explanation for your wack opinion. Unless it's this...
"If I were ranking them I would probably put Penn State as the team to beat," he said. "(Quarterback) Anthony Morelli has a year under his belt. They have a great group of receivers and a solid offensive line, so the offense should be good."
...which is just plain unjustifiable aside from the incontrovertible fact that Morelli existed last year. (Note: I do think PSU will be a quasi-contender, but "the team to beat" == pshaw. He ranked them #7, his top Big Ten team, in his poll. A friend suggested that Herbstreit feels burned by his OSU-M rematch pimpage at the end of last year and is having his own personal backlash against the Big Two in an effort to recover some cred, a plausible theory.)
Another example of inanity passing itself off as analysis can be found at Gunshots.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Lloyd can be found in this enormous interview from Scholastic Magazine. Carr's full life history unfolds:
can remember right after Bo had hired me, Don Canham, the great athletic director here, always met with new hires. I'll never forget what he told me. He said, "Lloyd, there's only one way to lose your job at Michigan, and that's if you cheat. We run a program with integrity. So recruit hard, do a great job coaching, and you'll love this place." Of course, working for Bo Schembechler, who at that age, he was still a guy with a lot of energy and fire and passion. That experience provided me so many valuable lessons, many of which I never appreciated until I became the head coach. Because Bo was not only a great friend, he was a great competitor, and a great coach.
Note that "great" has seemingly replaced "tremendous"; I miss the old adjective.
Seriously? Via the M Zone comes this project to determine the most successful program of the last decade. The answer... Michigan? Uh. Not even I think that. The ranking was arrived at by combining hard facts -- winning percentage, conference and national titles (did you know Texas only has one Big 12 title over the past ten years?) -- and then adding in nebulous items like tradition and dirtiness and such. Michigan wins by a healthy margin largely because of said nebulosity, but the winning percentage stacks up against even Texas and USC over that timespan. And yet Carr is mocked relentlessly.
Crack investigative reporting! Free Press:
U-M tackle Long: Great player, no shot to win Heisman Trophy
Gap filling. There is not going to be an appreciable Appalachian State preview in this space, though after last year's Ball State near-debacle I assure you there will be a few brief, respectful paragraphs expressing deep concern at the possibility of humiliating defeat. So I encourage you to visit Varsity Blue or NKOTB Maize and Blog for your Mountaineer knowledge needs. 5'7" starting corner! Must... remain... respectful... Spock.
Revoke the offer! Bucknuts has an oft-silly column by "Mr. Bucknuts," but rarely does it get quite this ridiculous:
Many of you opined that OSU needed to recruit Sam McGuffie, a human highlight film (smaller version) and teammate of OSU offensive line commit JB Shugarts. Some folks at Bucknuts thought McGuffie was an even smaller version of Maurice Wells and not a Big Ten kind of pounder. But what do we know?
So, it was with more than middling interest that I read an e-mail from my new friend, Ronnie, who s
ent me the following unsolicited appraisal:
I really want to share with you some info on new Michigan commit Sam McGuffie. I know Buckeye fans are probably questioning why we didn't pursue this kid since he's such great friends with JB, but they shouldn't worry about it. I go to Cy-Fair with Sam and have seen him make his highlight reel plays since fifth grade. I'm a regular at games and I won't lie some of the things he does are jaw-dropping, but this kid just won't make it in the Big 10. I'm just barely 5' 10" and when I walk past him in the hallway I have at least an inch on him. He's really small and if Michigan plans to keep him as a tailback (as they said they would), he will just disappear on the bench. He's not made for a zone running attack, and won't be able to stand up to Big Ten caliber defenses. Me and my buddy always thought he would be best fit for a Texas Tech like offense where he'd be offset and would get to work mainly out of the shotgun. The recruitment of this kid is a perfect example of why Tressel has been pounding LLLLLoyd during his tenure as coach, he just makes better decisions. He knows who fits his system, and he develops them into world class football players, whereas Carr just goes for whoever's the flavor of the week. I'm also pretty good friends with J.B. Shugarts. I played on his AAU basketball team from 6th through 9th grade, and I knew early on even asa naive middle-schooler that he would end up being a great offensivetackle. I remember that he was 6'4" in seventh grade. I also remember always getting paired up with him during charging drills in practice and barely being able to get up after he plowed into me. I'd also like to mention that JB is one of the nicest kids you'd want to meet and has a terrific sense of humor. I know you may think it's weird that I wouldn't stick up for McGuffie,but my Buckeye pride shines a lot brighter than my Cy-Fair Bobcat pride. Thanks and keep up the good work. Ronnie
Now, there's someone very very close to the situation. Thanks for the op-ed, Ronnie...
What? A sixteen year old named Ronnie who spells "Lloyd" with five Ls thinks McGuffie is too small? Fie! We shall disregard the opinions of the Michigan, USC, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and many other coaching staffs who thought he warranted an offer plus the opinions of every recruiting site and tell this midget who ran for 3,200 yards against the toughest high school competition in the country to head to Baylor or Division II or Michigan State or something. Thank you for bringing this pertinent information to our attention, Ronnie. We shall call you Prodigal Scouting Ninja and bring you gifts of gold and jewels, yea.
Oh, and, um...
Perception still trumps reality when it comes to stats and the tight end position at Ohio State these past few years. Think not? Second example: Last year, the leading receiver as a tight end for Michigan was that Ohio kid, Mike Massey. He had eight receptions for 72 yards. And Ohio State's leading TE receiver? That would have been Rory Nicol, with 13 catches for 151 yards. So, when Michigan trotted out the old negative recruiting tactic that the TE's get the ball more in their offense, perhaps Kevin Koger and Brandon Moore should have done some better due diligence.
Not only was Mike Massey not Michigan's most prolific tight end -- Carson Butler had 19 catches for 166 yards -- he wasn't even second. Tyler Ecker had 12 catches for 155 yards despite missing half of the season injured. Total TE catches last year for Michigan: 39. For Ohio State: 15. Someone should certainly be doing their due diligence, but it isn't either of Michigan's tight end commits.
Etc.: Max Martin surfaces at Alabama A&M hilariously claiming that "homesickness" was the major motivator in his departure from Michigan; Marques Slocum's finally made it; cool USA Today article on the Wing-T of the Bellvue Wolverines -- the offense originated in Michigan and Bellevue is the former home of probable starting RT Steve Schilling.
Programming note: with the onset of the season, "Monday Recruitin'" may end up moving to Thursday. We'll see how it works out.
Update 8/20: Linked to articles on LA CB Robby Green, PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (second), PA HB Christian Wilson (useless; only linked to assuage potential fears), KS LB Arthur Brown, CA S Vaughn Telemaque, PA LB(DE?) Shayne Hale, AR WR Joe Adams, NC CB Spencer Adams. Removed SC OL Kenneth Page (dropped us), AZ OL Zach Schlink (ASU). Added FL S Karnell Hatcher, SC CB JT Floyd. Noted header from GBW: we are getting official from LA CB Robby Green (OMG shirtless).
There is an updated Scout 300. I also point out this Darrell Simmons article, but do not add to board. There is also another Wilson article, plus articles on CA DE Jamar Jarrett , OH TE Brandon Moore, PA RB/WR/KR Cameron Saddler, and AZ CB Marc Anthony.
Editorial Opinion: Page was one of those guys who drops Michigan's name amongst 20 other schools early in the year and there's never any follow up. Schlink, though, was a guy who was generally regarded as a decent possibility. Their departure from the board leaves the offensive line section very thin on potential additions. I still think that Michigan would like to add another player after only picking up two kids a year ago, but with Zebrie Sanders likely headed south and Vaughn Dotsy seemingly not getting much interest from Michigan of late the only player on the board who has an offer and seems even remotely possible is Tennessean Preston Bailey. Michigan will be scouring senior tape for another Huyge-like offer if Bailey doesn't commit.
On to other items. PA HB/LB Christian Wilson is down to Michigan and Rutgers according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is blue on the board; everyone expects him to commit sooner or later. Also, he's totally OCD:
People might be surprised to know that ... I brush my teeth like a million times a day.
Things are also looking good for CA DE Jamaar Jarrett (#234 and four stars to Scout, recently downgraded to three stars by Rivals after being a top 250 kid):
Those colleges in cold weather places will be heartened to know that Jarrett loves the snow, having lived in Ohio for a time. He has Michigan as No. 1 on his list right now because the Wolverines have recruited him the hardest, with Cal, Oregon and Nebraska also in his top four.
I think that's tenuous but it's good to lead. Between Jarrett, Shayne Hale (more on him next) and Nick Perry Michigan has an excellent chance of landing a couple of high profile defensive ends. Jarrett quote reminiscent of Conan the Barbarian:
"I love to hear the little girl noises quarterbacks make when they get hit," said Jarrett, who totaled eight sacks last season. "I just love to play football."
He lusts for the lamentation of your quarterback-women.
Meanwhile, PA LB Shayne Hale is now PA DE Shayne Hale:
The skinny: Hale is ranked one of the top linebackers in the country, but he has been switched to defensive end for this season. Gateway coach Terry Smith said the move is best for the team and also said defensive end is the position Hale likely will play in college. ...
What do you think of the position switch? It isn't a big deal. At first, I wasn't real happy. But once I got the feel and started making plays in practice, I thought to myself, "This might be my spot." So it's not a big deal.
Shouldn't affect Michigan's pursuit of him. Hale's cousin, mouthpiece, and possible package-deal partner Cameron Saddler was also featured in that ongoing "Blue Chip Chat" series. His article contains no news but does reveal Saddler to be a wag:
How tall are you? C'mon now. You know every time a reporter calls me, I lie and change it. But I have to start keeping up with my lies. A reporter called me the other day and said, 'How big are you?' I said 5-8. He told me the last time he talked to me, I told him I was 5-9. So I said, 'I guess I'm 5-9.'
There's also this cold-eyed appraisal of college recruiters:
Tell me what you think about college recruiting: You get a whole bunch of junk fed to you. Everywhere you go, coaches say, 'You come here, you're going to be the man.' The coaches are like used car salesmen. That's what they are. Everyone is trying to sell their product.
AZ CB Marc Anthony maintains three leaders:
"It's not 100 percent yet, but I'm probably going to visit Cal on September 1 for the Tennessee game," said Anthony, ranked by Scout as the nation's No. 32 cornerback. "I'm then gonna visit Nebraska on September 15 for the USC and I'm visiting Michigan for the Penn State game on September 22."
Anthony came to camp and got an offer off an impressive performance; his affection for the program seems plain:
"I think that Cal is gonna have a great year," Anthony said. "They are always pretty consistent and always do well. Same with Michigan. Michigan is always a top five team and I think this year they'll be competing for the national championship.
"I really like the Big Ten and I love the defense they play. Michigan is just a big-time program."
With last visit and a reported post-camp lead, Anthony is Michigan's best bet as a second corner in this class. Meanwhile, fellow western DB Vaughn Telemaque, a safety from Long Beach Poly (Donovan Warren's school), is deciding soon:
"I think I'm getting closer to making my decision, and I plan to this month with my teammate (DT) Jurrell Casey," said Telemaque.
Telemaque's only offers are from Rutgers, North Carolina, Oregon, and Michigan. He hasn't visited Michigan, somethi
ng that would normally disqualify him, but I don't think he's visited any of his offers save Rutgers, and he decided to commit in the next couple weeks before the RU offer. I think it's probably between ourselves and Oregon. Telemaque isn't highly ranked at the moment but seems to be upwardly mobile.
A few southern kids probably not worth getting your hopes up about to round out this week. FL S Karnell Hatcher has Michigan in his top five:
One school that Hatcher would really like to visit is Michigan. "I don't really know too much about them," he said. "But I know they've got great tradition and I've love to be able to go to the Notre Dame game (Sept.15). That would just be an amazing experience. I've heard it's a great place to see a game and the atmosphere is supposed to be incredible."
Other schools in the top five: Auburn, South Carolina, Miami, and LSU; other offers mentioned are all southern with the singular exception of Iowa. 95% of the time a southern kid listing Michigan alone amongst a wide array of southern teams is staying closer to home. Anything can happen with visit blah blah blah.
AR WR Joe Adams has a weird schedule. He's committing in two weeks. He has a top five of schools that are not Michigan. And yet:
"Michigan isn't in my top five, but I like them a lot too," Adams said. "I've always wanted to visit them and see what it is like up there. They have a great program and the coaches are really nice too.
"I think Michigan has a good shot to win the national championship this year."
Um... okay? Highly skeptical he even visits.
GA S Darrell Simmons was on the board early after expressing Michigan interest; I then dropped him after he was arrested -- at least, someone with his name was arrested -- earlier in the year. He still lists Michigan top five but has a strong leader in Miami; I'm not even bothering to re-add him.
Chances are less remote for LA CB Robby Green, who lists Michigan among seven leaders:
"It'll also be interesting to see how Michigan does this year too," he said. "They have a great team every year and should have a big season again. I know everyone expects a lot from them. The Ohio State game is going to be big."
A GBW article indicates in its header that Green will take an official.
Patch impresses. Our highest-drafted incoming hockey recruit at the WJC camp:
Max Pacioretty (MON) was impressive at the camp. He used his body and played with a lot of energy before missing the last game due to a minor injury to the stomach. "He was one of the best players in the games I have seen," commented Timmins.
Palushaj called out as someone who "might have to step it up a bit more"; other attendees not mentioned.
Orson Swindle, blogger for www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com, identifies this fan-made "Zoltan for Heisman" tee-shirt as proof of the recent online Heisman fever boom. When asked what the most outside-the-box thing in terms of pre-season Heisman hype he's seen, Swindle says, "Does this shirt count? Because it should, damn it. Zoltan Mesko is Michigan's very good -- but far from Heisman-worthy -- punter."
Yep, a punter.
Ironic or not, there's Heisman buzz out there.
I created the shirt, and there is no irony in it whatsoever. Perhaps he did not deserve it a year ago, but trust me, when he averages 58 yards a kick this year and coffin-corners every one inside the five he will be in NYC. And then he will be our space emperor, and perhaps then you shall feel the wrath you incurred by questioning his worth. Yea, Zoltan the Inconceivable will make you pay for your lack of faith.
Na ga da. Rumored Ohio freeview of BTN on opening weekend -- relevant as a possible thaw in cable-BTN relations somewhere -- is a no go:
"I'm sure Time Warner would love to offer the games for free," Big Ten Network spokeperson Elizabeht Conlisk said today, "but I don't think our other partners would be very happy about that."
This isn't a change in thinking. Conlisk basically said the previous report did not accurately reflect the conference's position on the issue. Conlisk was right though - a Time Warner spokesperson said the company would be happy to show the games without a deal.
Why wouldn't they?
Like... duh. "We're perfectly willing to show the games for free! Why does the Big Ten hate America?" Etc. More of the same from the Chicago News-Tribune's Teddy Greenstein:
What will I find on Comcast Ch. 255 this weekend?
A Big Ten logo. Although Comcast doesn't want to meet the BTN's asking price, it wants its customers to believe that it's striving to make a deal and carry the network.
However, it does sound like things are moving along on all fronts except one particularly relevant one:
"We remain in discussions with five major distributors," Delany said. "Some negotiations are pretty mature. Some are pretty immature, in particular those with Comcast. We're in the fourth quarter for our launch, but we're in the first quarter (in negotiations) with Comcast.
"We're totally committed to a broad-based distribution. They are insisting on a narrow sports tier distribution. That's not something we can concede to."
I fail to see how Comcast can possibly justify throwing the BTN on a sports tier (or, rather, not having it at all) if the network gets deals done with other providers. Comcast's only leg to stand on is the BTN having unreasonable demands; deals with other providers will establish a pricing benchmark and undercut the idea that the BTN doesn't deserve expanded basic placement.
I'm with Mark Tupper, author of the above piece (and "oracular Illini observer" in the words of the dear departed Big Ten Wonk). I'm willing to wait a couple weeks into football season to see if an agreement can be reached, largely because I'm going to be at all three games that have been mentioned as potential BTN games, but once basketball/hockey season rolls around I am gone if I can't get the BTN. I imagine droves of Michigan State fans will follow the same pattern.
No fumbles. Mike Hart talking about his lack of fumbles:
Etc.: somebody named Kyle Busch really likes Michigan. I do not know why this is significant. Jason Forcier is staying out of the Harbaugh thing. The Hawkeye Compulsion tracks down the whereabouts of Mike Hart.
WTKA was granted access to a Michigan practice and had interviews with Carr, Henne, and Ron English. Items of note:
- Carr confirmed that the shotgun had been implemented and would be utilized this year.
- Avery Horn has been impressive and may be the fastest guy on the team.
- You can take this whichever way you'd like, but Henne claimed Hart had been pulling away from Michigan defensive backs in practice. Either Hart is running around with a rocket pack strapped to his back our our secondary is going to be Spartan-esque this year. I choose to believe neither, given that the one thing our secondary does have without question is speed. Sears, Trent, and Brown are all reputed to be lightning quick, which is not something that's easy to screw up. Either he runs fast or he does not. Hart does not, they do. I call shenanigans.
- English, unprompted, called out Johnny Sears as a guy who's made great strides and has had a really good fall. Please be true. He also likes Will Johnson lots.
- DeBord said watch out for Mike Massey. Um.