|Houston, TX - 6'1" 210|
|Scout||4*, #12 MLB|
|Rivals||3*, #29 ILB, #69 TX|
|ESPN||3*, 79, #35 OLB|
|Other Suitors||Arkansas, Texas A&M, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim. Tom interviews him and gets some commit quotes. User tomcat sits next to him on a plane and is impressed.|
|Notes||Also a small white dude drafted by the Oilers.|
Those are senior highlights; there is also a junior reel.
Occasionally, Spartan taunting will cause the message board to recycle a discussion about whether non-alum Michigan fans are real Michigan fans and how the core, I-know-what-Great-Books-is folk should react to them. Kellen Jones's dad Sean is the answer to this question.
The elder Jones grew up wanting to play for Michigan but didn't end up a D-I prospect, but a decade or two after his playing career at Morehead State ended, his influence saw a kid from Houston want nothing more than to don a winged helmet:
Q: How did you end up at Michigan?
A: It was a dream offer from the get-go. My dad’s dream was to go there, and he passed it on to me. It’s Michigan — Big House football. It’s a great academic school with history and tradition, the winningest program in college football, so it’s an all-purpose fit.
Q: So you’re going to be living your dad’s dream. How thrilled is he?
(Dad Sean Jones played at Morehouse College, Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater.)
A: He’s so excited. I think he might be more excited than I am. He sings Hail to the Victors. He’s looking up the videos and all types of stuff.
The answer: come one and all, especially if you are a large and mean.
The Jones family's Michigan fandom saw Kellen select Michigan over a wide array of mid-level BCS offers of which Arkansas, Texas A&M, Stanford, and Missouri were the most impressive. Jones made a little bit of noise about opening his recruitment back up when Rodriguez was fired but a couple of phone calls from Hoke and Mattison and he was solid again.
As a result, Michigan has a slashing blitzer on the three/four star borderline who is badly needed. Like Morgan, scouting reports focus on his intelligence. Unlike Morgan, they also praise explosive athleticism. (Morgan's edge is two inches and twenty pounds.)
The best parts of Jones' game are his intelligence and instincts. He has a knack for finding the ball even if he has to wade through the trash. Furthermore, as a high school middle linebacker, he has experience playing the position, which ought to enhance the speed with which he picks up the college game. Once he finds the ball, he's a solid tackler who could be a devastating hitter once he puts on the necessary weight and refines some tackling technique issues.
His highlight film above helps confirm. It features a large number of plays on which Jones has to pick through trash or defeat blocks to get to the ballcarrier. This may be because of its extensive length—a lot of shorter videos leave out scraping plays because they don't often result in HERE COMES THE BOOM—but it may also be because a lot of high school linebackers don't do that kind of thing very often.
That's not to say he doesn't bring the boom:
“He’s just a violent football player. He’s going to leave his mark when he makes contact with you,” Kimball said of Jones …
[Kimball] describes a play not on the highlight film: “…the guy’s momentum stopped going forward instantly. It was amazing that they were both conscious after that hit,” Kimball said. “I don’t know how both of them got up and walked off the field. It was one of those types of collisions that looked like two diesel trucks running into each other.
“Poor running back, he didn’t see it coming, barely.”
“I love to hit, I love to hit,” Jones said laughing. “When the season starts everyone is excited. You hear the fans, the crowd and I love to make contact and knock somebody into the dirt.”
“As a linebacker, I’m very instinctive,” said Jones, who has a 3.4 grade-point average and plans to major in mathematics and engineering. “I’m very good on the blitz. I’m aggressive to the ball and I’m a great pass rusher. I’m very passionate about the game.”
Did you have a tingle thinking about a linebacker who understands what a tangent is? I did. This is a signal you have Asperger's disease even if it doesn't exist anymore.
… excellent athlete … Has the size for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. We like this guy's flexibility, balance and agility; does a good job with K&D run recognition skills however his strength is the ability to avoid contact and beat blockers to the point of attack with quickness. Moves through traffic very well with good change of direction ability; is able to keep leverage on the ball and is seldom out of position. Flashes downhill ability vs. the inside run but not the big tough inside linebacker type who consistently stacks at the point. … capable of creating havoc in the backfield against the run and pass. Is productive blitzing up the middle or off the edge; shows good timing with quite a few sacks and hurries. … The intense motor this player brings to the field results in big momentum changing plays.
Scout more than echoes the section on his effectiveness as a blitzer:
Amazing on the blitz, he is as instinctual as you can find. He has a feel for getting through blocking and getting in to attack the quarterback, also good at blocking kicks. His size is okay but it is not above average. Good speed he uses it to his advantage on blitzes and coverage. Does a great job of working through blocks.
All things being equal, Jones might be destined for MLB. Things are not equal, though. Michigan has two more years of Kenny Demens in the middle, a potentially solid backup in Marell Evans, and fellow freshman Desmond Morgan. On the weakside there's just Mike Jones and Antonio Poole. While Poole is about the same level of recruit Jones is he's probably 15-20 pounds lighter. Jones could—probably should—be on the two-deep at WLB the day he steps on campus. His long term future could be in the middle, but until Demens departs he's needed on the outside. His coach echoes($) that evaluation:
"I don't think he is going to be there yet to play inside linebacker as an incoming freshman - that's a pretty tall task for any freshman - but at outside linebacker I think he has the ability to come in and play pretty soon," Kimball said. "On the perimeter I think he can make a pretty good impact with what they are doing out there, and over time, as he develops the college bulk to him, I think he can progress into the middle."
That versatility will make it easy for Jones to be on the field early and often even if Brady Hoke is dead set on filling a four-deep at LB.
Etc.: Hanging out with Ray Lewis. Hanging out with… um… Rich Rodriguez. Watch him sign a piece of paper. Played in that "USA vs the World" game. Player of the Week feature from the local Fox affiliate. Extensive interview with The Victors Voice.
One more fawning coach quote($) for the road:
"I don't see how he could be close to maxed out, not because of his physical abilities, but because of his work ethic," Kimball said. "He's almost a straight A student and the strongest guy on the team, but he puts those types of standards on himself... he's really focused for a young man. He does not do anything half throttle, whether that is in the classroom, the weight room or on the practice field. He has a relentless pursuit of perfection."
Aw, hell, here's another:
“We’ve got some great coaches here, but it’s (Jones’) aggressiveness that’s really made him the player he is,” Kimball said. “We spend actually more time at practice telling him to chalk it back a little bit. … We had to tell him, ‘Hey, man, look, we’re just trying to get a look here, you’re running scout team defense of whatever can you maybe give us a better look, because we’re not going to face a guy like you the whole season.’”
Why Larry Foote? Foote was a slightly undersized linebacker (6-0.5, 240-ish as a senior at Michigan) with good athleticism who could get to the sideline and was at his best when sent on the blitz. He bounced between MLB and WLB; as a senior he annihilated all comers with 23.5 TFLs.
Here's an old scouting report($) from Scout leading up to his NFL draft year:
THE GOOD: Quick, athletic linebacker that flies around the football. Explosive first step moving to action, scrapes well laterally and pursues the ball carrier with speed. Effectively redirects to the ball carrier, displays a quick and fluid change of direction and shows excellent range in pass coverage. Gets depth on his drops, adequate footwork covering backs or tight ends off the line of scrimmage and can play in space. Works hard, plays with reckless abandon and goes sideline to sideline for 60 minutes.
THE BAD: Small, slow shedding blocks or rather easily moved out of his angle of attack. Lacks body control and may not have the flat out speed to be considered at strong safety.
Jones seems to have all of the good bits above and sheds better than Foote—at least against high school competition.
Guru Reliability: Fairly high. Spread in rankings is pretty large, but was healthy at a big school in Houston. Scouting reports are consistent; differences in opinion appear to be due to varying opinion on how well he'll be able to overcome a lack of size.
General Excitement Level: Slightly under high. Size is a limitation, though it shouldn't be a huge one if he doesn't end up in the middle. The experience, athleticism, intelligence, and desire to plant his face into your pancreas at speed all appear to be there.
Projection: Moved to WLB in his first week on campus and probably on the two-deep against Western. No reason to redshirt him with the linebacker flood behind him and Michigan will need him unless Mike Jones is unreasonably good for a meh recruit who missed last year with an injury. Will probably spend the first half of the season spotting Jones—remember that Thomas Gordon will see significant rotation as the nickelback—and then it's 50-50 he takes over the starting job a la Demens.
Long term I think he sticks at WLB since he'll be established there and some combo of Morgan/Bolden/RJS/Ross will turn into a productive middle linebacker. A potential four-year starter.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Notre Dame Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||379.69||61|
|Points Per Game||26.31||67|
|Yards Per Play||5.52||63|
|Yards Per Pass||6.84||75|
|Yards Per Rush||3.98||77|
|Playcall Distribution||1.16 Pass:Rush|
Notre Dame replaced an offensive genius in Charlie Weis with... another one in Brian Kelly. With a really young lineup, including a rotating cast of quarterbacks, the offense struggled. It wasn't particularly pass-happy either, as even adjusted for sacks, they only threw it 1.27 times for every rush.
Part of that is the quarterback issue. Three quarterbacks played for the Irish last year, including significant reps for a true freshman. With more experience at the position, the entire offense should improve, because all things considered, it was actually quite bad last year. The Irish only broke 40 points in one game, against Western Michigan.
Dayne Crist started the year at the helm for the Irish, but mediocrity and injury combined to give plenty of playing time to Tommy Rees, with a few reps for Nate "yes that" Montana. None of them performed particularly well, which generally spells doom for a Brian Kelly offense.
Rees seems like a better long-term fit for the system (and is obviously a couple years younger), so although Crist will probably still start, expect to see him Rees in the lineup from time-to-time. There are also a few viable backups, with redshirt freshman Andrew Hendrix joined by true freshman (and early enrollee) Everett Golson, a very good athlete who needs some seasoning as a QB.
|Notre Dame QBs 2010|
|Notre Dame QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 4/5. Based on past performance, this might be a serious overrating of the unit. However, Crist came out of high school with all the accolades, and as a redshirt junior, he should be rounding into form. Given Brian Kelly's track record with quarterbacks, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, and there is some material to work with on the roster.
Cierre Wood led the team in rushing last year, though he was part of a two-headed attack with Armando Allen (pictured at right), who completed his 12th and final year of eligibility last season. Pounder Robert Hughes, the team's third-leading rusher, also departs from last year's roster. That leaves Notre Dame with two options: either feed Wood the ball a ton, or hope another rusher emerges. With Theo Riddick finding a full-time gig at wideout, that means former Detroit Country Day (classmate of Kenny Demens) standout Jonas Gray is the best bet, or it will be a completely green player.
|Notre Dame RBs 2010|
|Notre Dame RBs Receiving 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Wood is a decent starter. Gray had some national recruiting hype but is still inexplicably waiting for his Michigan offer. He could be good, but the Irish lose too much here to predict that everything will be sunshine and lollipops [Ed-M: Unless you're a Notre Dame fan, in which case Wood will win the Heisman next year, unless Crist does]. There's a serious - nay, dire - lack of experienced depth, and if anything happens to Wood, there's a precipitous dropoff.
Do you mean with or without Michael Floyd? This is perhaps the biggest question for Notre Dame this season. The Irish's best offensive player by a country mile, Floyd has been oft-injured throughout his career, and is currently in limbo after a suspension for several alcohol-related arrests.
The other starting spots aren't in question. Theo Riddick is a 5-11 guy who can play outside or in the slot, TJ Jones is a similar player (though less explosive), and Tyler Eifert hopes to step up at tight end following Kyle Rudolph's early entry to the NFL. Eifert started about half of last season after Rudolph tore his hamstring. The only wideout the Irish lose is Duval Kamara, who didn't produce last year (despite being a starter) because he was so frequently injured.
|Notre Dame Receivers 2010|
|Kyle Rudolph (TE)||28||328||11.71||3|
|Tyler Eifert (TE)||27||352||13.04||2|
|John Goodman (TE)||15||146||9.73||0|
|Mike Ragone (TE)||3||32||10.67||0|
|Notre Dame WRs Rushing 2009|
|Bennett Jackson (CB)||1||20||20.00||0|
Grade Without Floyd: 2/5. Grade With Floyd: 4/5. I was tempted to raise the with-Floyd grade even more, because he's that talented (a 2nd-Team All-American projection by Phil Steele), but one man does not a receiving corps make. The other players in the Irish's stable haven't done a whole lot, and what they have done was accomplished with Floyd drawing attention away from them. If he's not on the field to do that, it could spell trouble - though improved QB play would help them out. If Floyd is on the field, expect improvement at every position, because the Irish had a young group last year, and they should progress normally.
If the Irish are to improve offensively this season, it will likely be along the offensive line. The one consistently meh part of Charlie Weis's offenses is looking to make a leap in year two under Brian Kelly after losing only one starter. That starter, Chris Stewart, was in the lineup for three years, but he'll be replaced with a former 5-star prospect in Chris Watt, a redshirt sophomore. The other starters remain unchanged, with redshirt sophomore Zack Martin at left tackle, Watt or true senior Trevor Robinson at left guard, redshirt junior Braxston Cave at center, Watt or Robinson at right guard, and 5th-year senior Taylor Dever at right tackle.
Grade: 4/5. The Irish weren't a great running team last year (in fact they were pretty bad), despite a slant toward the pass in playcalling. They were, however, pretty good in pass protection, finishing in the top 40 in sacks allowed despite their slight slant toward the pass. Replacing Stewart (who went undrafted and unnoticed by the NFL) with a very highly touted player in his third year of college should see no dropoff, and in some likelihood major improvement.
|Notre Dame Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||357.23||50|
|Points Per Game||20.23||23|
|Yards Per Play||5.13||37|
|Pass Yards Per Game||215.08||54|
|Yards Per Pass||6.35||28|
|Sacks Per Game||2.08||54|
|Rush Yards Per Game||142.15||50|
|Yards Per Rush||3.97||53|
So if the offense didn't improve by replacing one offensive guru with another, why did the Irish have reason for optimism this offseason? A defense that finally seems to have found its way after 5 poor years under Charlie Weis.
Brian Kelly brought along a switch to the 3-4 base defense, and with it a bounce back toward the middle of the pack. The pressure up front wasn't great against the pass or the run, with teams having average-ish success in moving the ball on the ground and not getting sacked. It was in the secondary that ND's defense really improved.
With another year in the system, and plenty of returning talent (who had the recruiting stars on their side, at the very least, coming out of high school), the Irish are looking to take another step forward on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Notre Dame's 3-man front returns both defensive ends, so the only question mark is at nose tackle. Ian Williams was a hot-and-cold starter who performed decently against Michigan last year, and Sean Cwynar will step in to fill his shoes. The depth is light, as redshirt frosh Louis Nix will be expected to step in and contribute immediately, and ND didn't pick up any DTs at all in the 2011 class. The Irish will have much better depth on the edges this year - though young - as they signed approximately every defensive end in the nation last year, including a few highly-recruied ones. Aaron Lynch enrolled early from that group, and impressed this spring.
|Notre Dame Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 3/5. If the incoming freshmen weren't, well, freshmen, I'd rate this group much more highly. It's a crapshoot as to whether they'll be able to step in and contribute immediately, so they can't be relied upon this fall. Defensive tackle is a very sketchy point. Although Sean Cwynar had nearly as many tackles as Ian Williams last year despite much less playing time, the depth is unproven and/or non-existent, with Irish kicking specialists having nearly as many tackles last year as returning backup DTs.
The Irish are all set on the inside. Star MLB Manti Te'o (pictured making a great tackle at right) enters his junior year with two seasons as a starter already under his belt, and his compatriot Carlo Calabrese will be a second-year starter himself. Darius Fleming, the team's most explosive edge-rusher, also returns, leaving only one open slot at the the outside linebacker position. Dan Fox and Prince Shembo will battle for that position, but I'm guessing the more physically gifted Shembo will take the starting spot (their stats were similar last year but Shembo brought much more pass rush, and is the younger player), and Fox will be a valuable backup. Steve Filer will also see increased backup duty on the outside, but depth on the inside is weak, as McDonald and Posluszny have been special teams players to date in their careers.
|Notre Dame Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 5/5. As Michigan fans saw in last year's game, when not being ridden into members of his own secondary by Patrick Omameh on spinach, Manti Te'o is one of the best defensive players in the country (a 2nd-Team All-American projection by Phil Steele). Carlo Calabrese is a returning starter who racked up some decent stats last year despite playing alongside Te'o, and Darius Fleming is also a returning starter who led the team in TFLs in 2010. That means the only possible question marks are the other outside linebacker slot, which seems to have two viable candidates, including one who was a great edge-rusher in backup duty last year, and depth, which seems very good on the outside, but limited on the inside. With the strength of Notre Dame's top three options, I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Notre Dame's secondary is led by three-time Zibikowski Memorial White Notre Dame Safety Award winner Harrison Smith, who was the Irish's second-leading tackler last season. He's joined by two other returning starters in Zeke Motta and Gary Gray. Robert Blanton wasn't a starter last year, but he got plenty of snaps on both special teams and defense, so he should be ready to step in for Darrin Walls. Nearly every other defensive back returns for the Irish, so this should be an area of strength.
|Notre Dame Defensive Backs 2010|
|Harrison Smith (SS)||91||9||1||2|
|Gary Gray (CB)||66||1||0||5|
|Robert Blanton (CB)||53||1.5||0||5|
|Zeke Motta (FS)||50||1||0||0|
Grade: 4/5. As mentioned above, Notre Dame was actually pretty good against the pass last year. They also lose practically nobody off that unit - Walls was only an OK player, and Blanton should be adequate or an upgrade - and gain a lot of experience, especially since it's just their second year in this system. Phil Steele projects Smith to be a 4th-Team All-American.
Both Irish specialists return from last year. David Ruffer will continue the kicks (he was very solid on FGs but weirdly mediocre on extra points) and Ben Turk is the punter.
|Notre Dame Kicking 2010|
|Notre Dame Punting 2010|
Grade: 3/5. Ruffer is a 4th-Team All-American projection by Phil Steele, but Turk is mediocre at best. The Irish were below average in net punting last year despite playing several teams that were pretty damn bad on returns last year.
I, for one, welcome our Nike overlords. After two straight years of using The Game to prove even Ohio State can look more ridiculous, Nike will strike again this fall, outfitting Michigan State in their Pro Combat line of jerseys for the October 15th tilt against the Wolverines. (Yeah yeah, those in glass houses and whatnot).
In fairness, going to Pro Combat might be an improvement from the OMG MODERN FONT look straight out of Any Given Sunday that Michigan State switched to last year:
...as opposed to going away from the classic look of Ohio State's traditional jerseys (/immediately feels dirty, showers).
We live in an age where the apparel companies are going to do what they do in search of the almighty dollar. Methinks it's best to just to just accept it and move along. It certainly doesn't hurt that I'm not nearly as "get off my lawn" about Michigan's night game jerseys as is Brian. We'll see if Adidas plans to make frequent use of cash-grab alternates, like Nike is doing.
[Ed-M: As Michigan fans, however many headaches we've had to suffer thanks to Adidas's neon-ish idea of "maize" is made worth it when we see our rivals come to school looking like their colorblind mothers got lost in the kids section at Target.
For those wondering why they don't just go with the classic 1960s thing, MSU's official site rules out the obvious Duffy-era look because they rocked that for ND in 2006 -- not that anyone noticed. You can't really do too much damage with MSU since they've had 9 significant uniform changes since 1993, but they already have a home alternate, so either they're scrapping that, or State will play just three games all year in their "home" jerseys. Oregon indeed.
Futzing with Ohio State's
classic helmet disco ball covered in bird poop for Michigan week is the kind of thing that can make the football gods remove their favors.]
Speaking of ill-advised Spartan doings. Justin Abdelkader jokes that he wishes to bomb Michigan Stadium:
This is INCONTROVERTIBLE PROOF that all Spartans are terrorists. Look it up.
Barbecue snobs are certain to clarify this is merely a "cookout." As you've likely noticed, Wednesday Recruitin' has been a little calm over the past two weeks, after a whirlwind late spring/early summer parade of commitments to Ann Arbor. A slow period should transition immediately into another action-packed (though not necessarily commitment-packed) period coming up soon, with next weekend's "Barbecue at the Big House" recruiting event.
Much more about it in next week's Recruitin' post, but if you need your fix now, Tom has an ever-evolving list of visitors up in the Diary section. Those not already committed to Michigan are of the greatest interest to us because, you know, they could commit. All this and MUCH MORE next Wednesday (they call that a tease, kids).
Why would anyone want to leave that state? Also regarding the barbecue, Eleven Warriors calls Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel "Ann Arbor's new favorite couple," but it is not supposed to be a gay joke - except there's no other way for it to realistically be intended. They could be Purdue commits for all I care, but what century are we living in where "hurr hurr u r gay" is still an OK insult?
If you Google "Kyle Kalis ACL," the first infinity results are of Ohio State message boarders wishing injury on a 16-17 year-old kid. Kalis has gone into (mostly) radio silence since his commitment, for fear of backlash. Ohio State fans bashing him for "poor morals" because he decommitted from a school that's about to get hammered for lying to the NCAA? Irony reading: high.
I'm not trying to pick a fight with Eleven Warriors here, but come on dudes, hold yourselves to a higher standard - which, to be fair, they usually do.
Godzillatron will be ours. Updates on the scoreboards? Updates on the scoreboards. Pictures can be seen at Michigan Stadium Aerials (also with updated photos of the hoops Player Development Center), and if you're into the "paint drying" thing, you can watch the assembly live on the internet at MGoBlue.
OK, so it's not quite as impressive as the mega-boards at places like Texas and... Minnesota... but it's certainly an upgrade over the recent past.
The QB my friends, is blowin' in the wind. Tate Forcier was told "thanks but no thanks" by Hawaii, of all schools, because his transcript is really that bad. The official mgoblog position is "hope he gets his life in order," but uh, is anyone still second-guessing David Brandon's alleged refusal to schedule a meeting with QB5?:
"I needed a certain amount of credits. The incompletes, I took care of those. Dave Brandon still wouldn't let me stay. He refused to even meet with us."
If Hawaii isn't even going to meet with you, Dave Brandon proooooobably wasn't in the wrong here. It sounds like you have more than "a few incompletes" to take care of.
Etc. The Big Ten goes in the wrong direction by going from 3 to zero teams on its preseason media ballot. Men's lacrosse picks up a top offensive coordinator - and tons of solid 2012 commits - including a football teammate of Erik Magnuson. Big Ten schools gettin' that paper, yo. Rest in peace, Jimmy Maddock.
This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the offensive side of the ball - the prospects whose games I'm most likely to attend this fall. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected], or post them in the comments of this post.
Harrison High School
Farmington Hills, MI
|Farmington Hills Harrison 2011|
|8-27||8PM||Detroit Cass Tech (@EMU)|
|9-23||7PM||@ Southfield Lathrup|
|10-6||7PM||@ Rochester Adams|
|10-14||7PM||OAA Crossover Game|
HS Position: Wide Receiver
Projects as: Tight End/H-Back
HS Position: Defensive Tackle
Projects as: Defensive End/Rush LB
Farmington Hills Harrison had plenty of success on the field last year, winning 14 straight game en route to an undefeated State Championship season in Michigan's second-largest division. Devin finished the season with about 33 catches for 800 yards, while Mario notched 127 tackles and 12 sacks from the DT(!!!) spot, also causing three fumbles.
Harrison looks to be strong yet again in 2011, with not only Funchess and Ojemudia back, but teammate Aaron Burbridge reeling in the receptions - I'll be keeping an eye on the #2 prospect in the state of Michigan, as he's a prospect for the Wolverines as well. Harrison does have to replace quarterback Tommy Vento (a preferred walk-on at Michigan State), but if they can find a signal-caller, the other pieces are in place for a deep run.
I should catch quite a few Harrison games, and their season-opener against Cass Tech is a must-see for Michigan fans, as Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson will be suiting up across the field. That game is August 27th at 8PM in Eastern Michigan's Rynearson Stadium.
Cass Technical School
|Detroit Cass Tech 2011|
|8-27||8PM||FH Harrison (@EMU)|
|9-2||3PM||@ Detroit Central|
|9-9||4PM||@ Det Southeastern|
|9-30||6PM||Crockett (@Det Osborn)|
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Middle Linebacker
HS Position: Slot Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
The Cass Tech Technicians (We're from Tech!) had enormous success last season for a city league team, falling in the State Semifinal game on a final-minute turnover to eventual champion Lake Orion. Tech sent four players to FBS teams following the season, including Michigan freshman CB Delonte Hollowell (Illinois, Toledo and W. Mich got the others). Royce rushed for 10 touchdowns, and added 90 tackles and five sacks on the other side of the ball, and Terry finished with 35 tackles and 12 interceptions, plus 12 receptions for 400ish(!) yards and five touchdowns.
Despite losing plenty of talent, Tech looks to reload with Terry and Royce as the leaders. Royce's fellow linebackers Ruben Lile and Laron Taylor both have multiple Big Ten offers, and DT Darryl Goldsmith is hearing from the MAC. There's talent in the 2013 class as well. The schedule sets up nicely, with the showcase game against Harrison leading into several Detroit teams whom Tech has dominated over the past couple years.
Aside from the season opener against Harrison, I should be able to make it to a couple more Tech games, many of which are conveniently scheduled during the day. The final two games are tentatively scheduled for Thursdays, which could mean more chances to check them out. [Ed-M: Bonus reason to go to a Tech game: their fan cheer is "Go Cass; Kick Ass!"]
Detroit Catholic Central
|Detroit Catholic Central 2011|
|8-26||7PM||@ Dearborn Fordson|
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Delphos (OH) St. John's|
|9-24||7PM||De La Salle (@Lake Shore)|
|10-15||7PM||Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-22||4PM||Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)|
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Tackle
Last year, the Shamrocks saw plenty of success, but lost in the State Quarterfinals to current Michigan freshman Brennen Beyer and his eventual runner-up Plymouth Wildcats. They closed out the season 9-3. Matt capped off a 66-tackle (28 for loss), campaign with All-Catholic Honors.
Catholic Central looks to rebound from a down year in 2010 (seriously, 9-3 is a down year) with a return to the state finals - they won the State Championship in 2009. Along with Godin, tight end Matt Doneth is a BCS prospect as a senior, and 2013 RB/DE Wyatt Shallman should be one of the top prospects in next year's in-state crop.
With Michigan's heavy recruiting of the Catholic League this year (James Ross attends Orchard Lake St. Mary's, and 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris goes to Warren De La Salle), I should be able to make it out to at least a couple of Godin's games.
St. Mary's Preparatory
Orchard Lake, MI
|Orchard Lake St. Mary's 2011|
|8-26||4:30PM||GR West Catholic|
|9-2||7PM||Toledo (OH) St. John's|
|9-16||7PM||UD Jesuit (@Ferndale)|
|9-23||7:30PM||Columbus (OH) DeSales|
|10-7||7PM||Warren De La Salle|
|10-15||7PM||@ Det Catholic Central|
|10-22||7PM||Prep Bowl (@Ford Field)|
HS Position: Fullback/Linebacker
Projects as: Linebacker
Last year, St. Mary's reached the State Championship game, but fell to rival East Grand Rapids (as the Eaglets so often do in various sports) on a goal line stand in the fourth quarter. The only other losses in the 11-3 campaign for St. Mary's came to another rival in Birmingham Brother Rice (once in the regular season, once in the Prep Bowl). James finished his junior season with 103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, and an interception last year.
This year, the Eaglets have to replace a Penn State-bound WR Allen Robinson, along with their starting quarterback Mike Koenigsknecht. The onus will fall on the run game and defense to bring the Eaglets back to the playoffs.
I should be able to make at least a couple OLSM games this fall, particularly when they take on other Michigan prospects.
Rockford High School
|9-16||7PM||Holland West Ottawa|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle
The Rams are a traditional football power in the State of Michigan, so only reaching the semifinals last year (they bowed out to Brennen Beyer's Plymouth team) was a disappointment. The 11-3 seaosn also included road losses to Howell and Canton in the regular season. Braden is an offensive lineman, so his didn't accrue any stats.
Expect a disappointing 2010 season to fuel a deep run for Rockford this year, led by Braden up front. His other bookend, Parker Ehinger, is off to Cincinnati this year, so the Rams need another big lineman to step up in their run-heavy attack. There has been a lot of talk this summer about how Braden impressed on the camp circuit, so a strong senior year could help him move into four-star range to the recruiting services.
Rockford [shows hand, points at left side of palm] is positioned across the state from most of Michigan's other commits (and, you know, Michigan itself), so it'll be rare that I get to take in one of Braden's regular-season games. However, Rockford should make a deep run into the playoffs, and I'll hopefully get to catch a couple there.
De La Salle Collegiate
|De La Salle 2011|
|8-26||7PM||AA Pioner (@Lake Shore)|
|9-2||7PM||Carman-Ainsworth (@Lake Shore)|
|9-9||7PM||@ Dearborn Fordson|
|9-18||2:30PM||@ Brother Rice|
|9-24||7PM||Catholic Central (@Lake Shore)|
|9-30||7PM||Inkster (@Lake Shore)|
|10-7||7PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-14||7PM||UD Jesuit (@Lake Shore)|
|10-21||7PM||Prep Bowl (@ Ford Field)|
Shane Morris (2013)
HS Position: Quarterback
Projects as: Quarterback
De La Salle has not been a power in the Catholic League, but they put together a good 2010 season, reaching the State Quarterfinals, where they fell to eventual champion Farmington Hills Harrison. The other losses in a 9-3 season for the Pilots came to another pair of Michigan commits in Detroit Catholic Central's Matt Godin and Orchard Lake St Mary's linebacker James Ross. Morris completed 102 of 180 passes for 1,150 yards, to go along with 14 touchdowns and just 2 picks last season.
De La Salle should be about the same this year as they were last year, but with another year of experience for their star QB, they'll look to get over the next hump. With a very strong junior season, Shane can make an early argument for 5-star status in the 2013 class.
Since he won't be hitting campus for another couple years, I'm not prioritizing Morris's games as highly as the other prospects. I plan to be in attendance (when possible) for a couple contests against 2012 Michigan commits.
Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to [email protected].
A whole lot of "defense will be better" diaries this week. Rather than steal their thunder, HIT PLAY to listen to my favorite song off my favorite album of all time, and once the strings and charts come in, start clicking things. (Mp3 courtesy of band's official page)
Your gentleman caller
Well, he's been calling on another
He loves his forbidden fruit
And as it dribbles down his chin
"Baby I've been drinking with some friends now how about a little kiss"
Rub his nose in it, what a mess
And he's playing dumb
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
I'm not looking for a lover
All those lovers are liars
I would never lie to you
You say you wanna get even
Yeah you wanna get your bad man good
Well, are you in the mood?
You bad girl
Does it feel good
Being bad? and get worse
do do do do do do do do
But in the morning
On the sober dawn of Sunday
You're not sure what you have done
Who told you love was fleeting?
Sometimes men can be so misleading
To take what they need from you
Whatever you need to make you feel
Like you've been the one behind the wheel
The sunrise is just over that hill
Whatever I said to make you think
That love's the religion of the weak
This morning we love like weaklings
The worst is over.
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
- NCAA Total Defense: 110th (of 120)
- NCAA Scoring Defense: 108th
- Rushing Defense: 95th, but that's just to set up the…
- Passing Defense: 112th
- Turnovers Gained: T-77th
- 3rd Down: 95th
- Red Zone: 87th
- Fremeau: 108th
The worst is over.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Western Michigan Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||411.67||34|
|Points Per Game||32.33||37|
|Yards Per Play||5.74||46|
|Yards Per Pass||7.22||49|
|Yards Per Rush||3.92||83|
|Playcall Distribution||1.23 Pass:Rush|
The Broncos ran a pass-heavy spread offense last year, putting the majority of the focus on QB Alex Carder and his stable of receivers. Part of the apparent balance in playcalling is a mirage, as the Broncos were one of the most-sacked teams in America, with Alex Carder and Tyler VanTubbergen going down 30 times on the year. Adjusting the playcall distribution to account for that, they're 1.42 passes per run. Their playcalling makes sense given that they were a decent team on a yards-per-pass basis, and god awful at running the rock.
Ever since Bill Cubit has been at Western Michigan, they've been a pass-heavy team, regardless of talent. Expect that to continue into 2011.
Alex Carder returns for his second season as a starter, though he's been in the program for four years (redshirted in 2008, backup in '09). It's fair to expect a bit of improvement going forward. One thing that could hinder that development? one of his top targets from last year, Juan Nunez, is out the door. He's also been hit plenty of times recently, as one of the most-sacked QBs in the nation (more about that in the OL section).
His backup, Tyler VanTubbergen, also returns. He got limited action in his redshirt freshman year. The third-stringer will be someone who has yet to throw a collegiate pass, be it a true freshman or a sophomore who hasn't seen any game action.
|Western Michigan QBs 2010|
|Western Michigan QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 3/5. It's fair to expect Carder to be a little better this year than he was last year, but with a depleted receiving corps, that may not show up in the box scores. He was also the team's most oft-deployed runner as well, and though he didn't put up good numbers (thanks in part to being sacked 2.5 times per game), he did lead the team in rushing TDs. He's Phil Steele's 2nd-Team All-MAC QB.
Tevin Drake was the team's leading rusher last year, despite being fifth(!) on the team in carries behind several guys who didn't get nearly his YPC. He did get enough reps that his high YPC is probably not a statistical anomaly, though his big games came against some of the worst competition on the schedule.
Aaron Winchester was the team's wholly-underwhelming workhorse last year, and it's odd to see that he got so many more carries than the other guys, considering he performed considerably worse. There could be some situational-use explanations for that, but if the offensive line was bad, it was bad for everyone, and he didn't even perform well against the dregs of the schedule.
|Western Michigan RBs 2010|
|WMU RBs Receiving 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Since everybody returns from last year, it's fair to assume this unit will perform better. I'd also imagine that the coaching staff will wise up and reduce the reps for Winchester while increasing them for Drake and Fields, who are no longer freshmen. That means more explosiveness and less... uh... ineffective player. Winchester didn't get it done last year, but kept getting the ball. The dude got 3.3 ypc against Nicholls State, for God's sake. He didn't account for a single touchdown all year! I think Fields is more built to take every-down pounding, and Drake may be more effective as a situational player (Phil Steele has pegged him as 2nd-Team all-MAC).
Last year's most prolific wide receiver will be a 6th-year senior, thanks to a medical redshirt way back in 2008. He was a Biletnikoff semifinalist last year, so Jordan White is the Real Deal. The problem is that the team's second-best receiver (immediately before a cavernous gaping hole to #2), Juan Nunez, has shuffled off after what seemed like an interminable career at WMU.
Robert Arnheim and Ansel Ponder will have to take much bigger roles in 2011, and since three tight ends with game experience are returning, might we see a bit more use of those guys?
|Western Michigan WRs 2010|
|Blake Hammond (TE)||9||113||12.56||3|
|Clark Mussman (TE)||7||98||14.00||0|
|Dallas Walker (TE)||9||58||6.44||2|
|WMU WRs Rushing 2010|
|James O'Neill (TE)||3||11||3.67||0|
|Dallas Walker (TE)||1||-2||-2.00||0|
Grade: 4/5. Jordan White was by far the team's most consistent deep threat last year, and the question becomes whether he can reprise that role without Nunez forcing the defense to respect the whole field. If Arnheim or Ponder can become consistent threats, it will open things up for the whole offense. On the other hand, neither has shown the explosiveness that Nunez brought, so it will be a tall task to fill his role. I do, howveer, expect improvement from the tight ends - maybe even enough to show off more two-tites packages. White is on Phil Steele's 1st-Team All-MAC squad, while Arnheim is on his 4th Team.
The Broncos lose three starters from last year's line, and we've already discussed its struggles from last year: couldn't run the ball and couldn't protect the passer. One of the returning players should be familiar to Michigan fans, as erstwhile Wolverine Dann O'Neill is a starter at right tackle. Left guard Anthony Parker was All-MAC in 2009, and is the other returner. The final three positions are serious question marks. JuCo transfer Tim Maka (a 25-year old who served on a Mormon mission) is expected to start at left tackle, while right guard should be manned by redshirt sophomore Terry Davisson, and Kevin Galeher should be the starting center.
Grade: 1/5. As mentioned above, the Bronco line was pitiful last year. Losing three starters isn't going to make it a whole lot better, especially when one of those losses is an All-MAC payer in left guard Phillip Swanson. Dann O'Neill and Anthony Parker are the only players on Phil Steele's All-MAC projections, a 2nd- and 3rd-teamer, respectively.
|Western Michigan Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||387.83||73|
|Points Per Game||23.83||52|
|Yards Per Play||5.72||74|
|Pass Yards Per Game||221.25||62|
|Yards Per Pass||7.52||88|
|Sacks Per Game||2.33||34|
|Rush Yards Per Game||166.58||76|
|Yards Per Rush||4.34||71|
Despite playing a pretty poor schedule last year, the Broncos defense didn't do a whole lot to instill fear in anyone. In fact, they were below average in just about everything except getting to the quarterback. With their top backfield demon (linebacker Dex Jones) gone, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the lineup can pick up the slack.
The other thing that Western was OK in was points per game, a product of a positive turnover margin - +0.25 per game, despite their awful O-line doing no favors on the other side - and some plain luck.
The Broncos return their top 7 contributors from last season, and these guys have plenty of experience. Edge-rusher Paul Hazel is the headliner of the bunch, but Deauntay Legrier's production could have been even better if he hadn't missed a couple games with injury. Drew Nowak holds down the middle, joined by Travonte Boles.
|Western Michigan Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 4/5. By all expectations, this should be a solid unit, if they remain healthy. The only player lost is a role guy who only got in a handful of times last season. The Broncos were in the nation's top third in sacks and close to that in tackles for loss, and though all that production didn't come from the D-line, they were certainly an important part of it. Nowak is a 2nd-Team All-conference projection by Phil Steele, while Boles and Hazel are 3rd-teamers.
So, the Broncos play a 4-2-5 defense, given the extremely low numbers of players who accrued stats from the position last season. Mitch Zajac is a multi-year returning starter, and the obvious headliner of the group. That leaves Chris Prom and Desmond Bozeman to fight it out for the weakside spot. I'll give the nod to Prom, as he accomplished a whole lot more last year. However, Bozeman is getting a little bit of press this summer, and could pass Prom on the depth chart.
|WMU Linebackers 2010|
|Waymon Ross (DE)||2||0.5||0.5|
Grade: 2/5. It's tough to grade these guys on the same scale as LB units with three players. This unit had one obvious standout, who returns, and a ton of roleplayers. As long as Zajac (on Phil Steele's conference 2nd team) remains healthy, the cast of characters at the other spot can probably rotate without much dropoff. Losing Jones's ability to get into the backfield, however, is a huge question mark.
Western played tons of defensive backs, and these guys built up the lion's share of the stats in the 4-2-5 scheme. They lose the top two tacklers in hybrid Jamail Berry and strong safety Mario Armstrong, along with corner Damond Smith, who was a starter before getting kicked off the team. Louis Toler at corner and Doug Wiggins at one of the safety positions are the only sure starters, with sophomore Demetrius Pettway or Keith Dixson getting one of the other safety positions. By my estimation, Raheam Buxton and Johnnie Simon will be the other two starters, at corner and rover, respectively. There is only going to be one backup on the roster with any significant game experience, so this unit is light on depth.
|WMU Defensive Backs 2010|
|Louis Toler (CB)||59||1.5||0||5|
|Doug Wiggins (FS)||55||1||0||0|
|Raheam Buxton (CB)||25||0||0||1|
|Johnnie Simon (Rov)||25||0.5||0||0|
|Keith Dixson (SS)||22||0.5||0||1|
Grade: 2/5. There are a couple accomplished players returning, but when a secondary loses the top two players from a defense that couldn't stop anyone from passing last season, it's unlikely that they'll be particularly good. With limited depth, they're also an injury or two from being in deep trouble, unless there are some unknowns ready to step up.
Both of Western's starters return from last year, and both were quite good. John Potter resumes kicking duties, and Ben Armer is back as the punter.
|Western Michigan Kickers 2010|
|Western Michigan Punting 2010|
Grade: 4/5. Both specialists were good last year, and it's fair to expect more of the same in 2011, or even some improvement. They're both 2nd-team All-MAC projections by Phil Steele.