That's what I'm saying. Pierre Woods' final season in a Michigan uniform remains a mystery to everyone, including his current coach. Asked about the difference between third-round pick Shawn Crable, now a Patriot, and undrafted Pierre Woods, Bill Belicheck seemed as befuddled as us:
BB: Woods was one of the top players in the country as a sophomore. He didn't play as a senior. You'd have to ask Michigan why they didn't play him, or maybe they thought they had better players. I don't know. That's a question they'd have to answer. Athletically, he was an astounding player as a sophomore. I think he got some... the same thing as a junior and then he didn't play much as a senior.
This is a semi-accurate recollection. Woods (68 tackles, 13 TFL, 7 sacks) was possibly the best player on Michigan's defense and an All Big Ten performer his sophomore year. But whatever off-field issues he had started then and his playing time was severely curtailed as a junior, only playing in nine games and seeing his stats dip to 22 tackles and 2 TFLs with no sacks. It was more of the same as a senior, only more maddening: just nine games played and 24 tackles but 9 TFLs and 2.5 sacks; when injuries to Woodley and Biggs left Michigan no other choice but to play Woods extensively against Iowa he had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, and a pass breakup along with a ton of other pressure. No reasonable observer could have thought Woods wasn't worth starting, if not on the defensive line -- where Pat Massey was busy moonwalking as Alan Branch played out of position at DE -- then at linebacker where Michigan's starters on the outside were the horrible sophomore versions of Chris Graham, Prescott Burgess, and Shawn Crable.
We don't know exactly what his problems were. Carr probably stretched his boundaries to the limit to keep him on the team and, in that, did him a big favor. But if he's on the team, and he's better than the other people who are on the team, what was the point of not starting him?
Belicheck went on to compare the situation to that of Tom Brady, but this is more of the same inaccurate legend-making that had him "not even a starter" in college. Brady had just under 80% of Michigan's passing attempts his senior year and while it's true Michigan played Henson from time to time, 30 of Henson's 90 attempts came in blowouts against Rice, Purdue, and Northwestern and another 28(!), oddly, came in a narrow road win over Syracuse in which Brady only had 10 attempts. I don't remember that at all; all I remember from that game was Michigan playing a frustrating, disjointed game and CBS providing the worst camerawork I've ever seen. Anyway, outside of that Syracuse game Henson had about 30 meaningful attempts. Which is kinda weird, sure.
!!!!! A lot of weird stuff went down at the draft this weekend. I'm not so arrogant to assume I know better than NFL people unless we're talking about Matt Ryan, but of the Michigan draftees only three didn't surprise me with their placement: Long, Henne, and Crable. I guess Manningham's slide is understandable with his status as this year's Wonderlic booby prize and obvious fondness for weed.
But things I just don't understand:
- Arrington going so low. Rangy, sure handed, and seemingly fast enough, I thought he was a little less proven than Avant and would be a third or fourth round pick when he declared; it quickly became clear that this was overrating him.
- Ditto Hart. He ran slow, as anyone on the planet could have told you would happen. Injury issues, etc; still thought he was a third-fourth round sort.
- Jamar Adams is undrafted. Ryan "Yards After" Mundy goes in the sixth round. Barwis be praised.
The Mundy thing is what really gets me. He was so bad that -- in my speculative opinion -- Michigan cut him loose after his fourth year in the program, which is unprecedented for a kid who's seen extensive time as a starter. Mundy squeezes himself into a rapidly-closing loophole and manages to transfer to West Virginia without penalty, where he becomes a decent starter on a good defense and is drafted. To play in the NFL. You know, the professional football thingy. If you could have bet on that last year, what would the odds have been?
Our dearest friend. A former NFL scout on new Arizona Cardinal FA Anthony Morelli:
"He has all the tools you look for in a QB; an athletic body, very strong throwing arm and far better movement then I had expected, but is acutely undercoached and unprepared for the job of being a professional QB."
"Acutely undercoached"... does anything sum up Penn State better than those two words?
Gentlemen. Hey, guess what?
Melvin Fellows had been the most prominent Ohio high school football player in the Class of 2009 to escape the grasp of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, but with a phone call over his lunch break today, Fellows changed all that.
The Garfield Heights defensive end informed Tressel that he was switching his oral commitment from Illinois to the Buckeyes, delivering a blow to the Illini and bringing OSU's growing class to 12 pledges.
Joe Tiller's full of crap.
Also full of crap, the Columbus Dispatch, which claimed Lloyd Carr facilitated Justin Boren's transfer to OSU:
"That's a lie," Carr said through school spokesman Bruce Madej.
Bleah. Sick day taken. Enjoy this 1/3rd of a UV; I'll be back monday.
I shoot them in the head.* UMHoops points to two pieces on St. John's transfer Larry Wright, a 40% three-point shooter from Saginaw who's returning home after two years in NYC. He'll be going to school somewhere in state, according to Eric Lacey:
"He told me he doesn't want to leave the state of Michigan," said Dawkins, who has already spoken to Oakland coach Greg Kampe about Wright. "So that's a good sign."
Wright is returning to Michigan because his mother has had serious back surgery and will attempt to get a waiver to play next year. Is he Big Ten caliber? Failing that, is he Michigan caliber? (ZING!) St John's hoops blog East Coast Bias thinks so:
St. John's fans are pissed. PISSED, because we're losing Larry Wright. He was on his way to becoming a cult hero; but unlike other fan favorites, this isn't a case of that scrappy walk-on kid who plays tough defense and just makes plays. Larry Wright was possibly the team's best scorer and certainly the most accurate shooter, and the justifiable focus of the fans/ message boards' "Free Larry Wright" posts.
There's much, much more in a gargantu-post on Wright; his game sounds like a good fit for Beilein's system:
As for Larry's game, he shoots deep shots in the flow of the offense and doesn't overdribble. If he doesn't have his shot, he looks for the next man. He tends to shoot from around the top of the key, but last year his some of his memorable shots from the corner (I think the Notre Dame game, his last shot was from the right corner? Correct me if wrong). When he gets the ball, he seems ready to shoot or drive, and if he's blanketed, he doesn't force it. he doesn't take his man off the dribble often, but he's probably quick enough to do so. ...
Larry Wright isn't the second coming. He is a role player, for sure, and limited in some ways; but that role is an essential one for every single basketball team; the guy who can score in bunches and won't hurt you in other ways on the court. He could be a potential star and with more regular time, I expect his outside shooting percentages to go up.
Michigan needs a shooter. Correction: Michigan needs 3-5 shooters. Wright appears to be a shooter and got 9 PPG in under 20 minutes in the Big East. He's going to a school in the state of Michigan. Git er done.**
*(reference explanation: I used to watch David Letterman in high school. Once, Laurence Fishburne was on the show promoting his latest gangster movie and somehow the conversation turned to if he preferred "Laurence" or "Larry," he obviously said "Laurence." Letterman asked "what do you do to people who call you Larry?" and Fishburne replied "I shoot them in the head.")
**(you have permission to shoot me in the head.)
Virginia quarterback Kevin Newsome has gone from "very probably a commit in the near future" to "guy who just committed." Divers alarums. Quote:
I really believe Michigan is the Godfather of college football and that's what makes the Michigan-Ohio State game so notorious.
Hopefully he will make opponents kiss the ring.
I since Monday Recruitin' was heavily focused on Newsome, let that suffice as his google-stalking. There is also this piece from Conquering Heroes that fills in some additional blanks. ESPN's opinion:
Newsome is an impressive overall athlete to watch. As a quarterback, he reminds us a little of Cameron Newton at Florida and while Newton has more height and is further along as a passer, Newsome is a better runner and athlete. ... He is a player that can make plays on the move rolling right or left. ... He is a "street-ball" type of QB right now, with very little polish. Mechanically, he can be very inconsistent-- gets by on athleticism alone. ... Footwork, timing and patience through his progressions will help his development as a passer.
Newsome is Michigan's third recruit in the top 50 and the first of two or three quarterback recruits they'll bring in this year.
Side note: I mentioned Tuesday that I thought both running back recruits would eventually pick up four stars; when Rivals released an updated 250 neither was present. This isn't surprising when it comes to Teric Jones, who is just a fast kid who went to a combine and will have to prove his ability on the field this fall. Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, has a body of work already and didn't make it. A pestered Rivals analyst suggested horrible grades might be holding his rating back, which is bad in two ways. One: it's likely bunk since that didn't stop them from rating Jerrelle Powe, who's in his fifteenth year of trying to get into Ole Miss, highly. They just don't think that much of his talent. Two: horrible grades, would obviously preclude him from matriculating unless he can get them up to NCAA minimums. Adjust your recruiting faces a little on the frowny side, and then be like "hey, we have a top-50 dual threat quarterback" and adjust them to Creepy Enzyte Guy levels.
They really should have cast J Leman as the scientist guy in "I Am Legend." Why? Obviously.
I mean no offense to the Great and Powerful Leman. He is truly wondrous. But -- not to be a heretic -- I think we have a challenger in for the title of Most Awesome Football Mugshot in the Multiverse.
The Mose Schrute beard, I think, is actually superior to the Leman mullet. Mullets are a pop culture trope. People sport them ironically, and if you are one of the three US households that gets Versus you can get your fill of them in the NHL. No one famous has sported a full-on I-churn-butter-by-hand Mennonite beard since Ulysses S Grant. Advantage Russell.
However, there is still the matter of the American flag tie. Russell's hellacious(!) pit stains are a worthy foe, but J Leman woke up on the morning of Illinois picture day and thought to himself "self, it's time to rock it the American Way." Russell just lives in Texas, where anyone wearing a dress shirt outside develops pit stains in 2.3 seconds.*
Russell has no offers yet, but is listing Michigan. Pray. Pray hard.
*(I resided in Texas for one summer; this is absolutely true.)
Achtung. This is kind of a silly way to attempt to get in touch with someone, but Johnny of RBUAS, I require you to email me.
Giddyup. Mon... er, Tuesday Recruitin' was heavily focused on one Kevin Newsome, Virginia quarterback par excellence and maybe probably soonish a Michigan commitment. More grist for the mill, this from established Buckeye Planet insider Unionfutura:
...he committed to them Monday. Kid is big man, looks like a LB.
All due caution is advised -- consarned kids with their internets -- but the underground buzz on this is getting overwhelming.
BONUS! I don't give this much credence but it might cause a Penn State fan or two to start bashing his head against the wall whilst moaning "no, no, no, no," so... what looks like a legit Tate Forcier comment showed up on Newsome's myspace page; a helpful reader forwards it along:
Aye bro! How sick would it be if we both went to Michigan? We could do like the florida thing with tebow an Chris Leak... Cuz dude if we both go there we could do some serious damage.
An we could get like the Tightest...
wait for it... wait for it...
Even if that is really Forcier chances are he heads somewhere else.
He fell into our laps. Memo to self: send Dave Wannstedt some mustache wax for Christmas. In the midst of an chaotic coaching search that seemingly had no real candidates after Greg Schiano turned Michigan down twice came salvation in the form of one disgruntled mofo from West Virginia:
Attorneys for West Virginia University have obtained new documents that show Rodriguez' representatives contacted Michigan on Dec. 11 to gauge their interest in him as their new head football coach. Three days later, Michigan officials met with the former coach in Ohio to start hammering out a deal.
So many questions! Jesus, what did Ed Pastilong do? What would have happened if WVU won? Miles? If not... perish the thought. Michigan didn't even have to sell the guy. He was just looking for a way out.
Stop me if you've heard this before. Buried in like 300 words of Ryan Mundy trying to justify going back to the school he spent 80% of his collegiate career at just because it's Michigan -- over it yet? no? how about now? no? -- is another Eeee Barwis quote:
[Mundy] was most grateful, though, for getting to know Mike Barwis, the director of strength and conditioning who followed Rodriguez to UM. Barwis is the reason Mundy made his return journey to Ann Arbor.
"If Mike Barwis was at West Virginia, I'd be at West Virginia. I have nothing against them," he said. "I was so pleased with the way Mike Barwis worked with me that I wanted to continue working with him to get ready for the draft."
Jake Long is Michigan's first #1 overall pick since Tom Harmon was pwning the Amazon. Congratulations. By my calculations, Long can now make over 200 million cheese sandwiches. But we're all Michigan fans here, so let's focus on the negative: Long is the odd exception to the general slide experienced in Michigan's offensive line production over the past few years.
A dossier of recently departed linemen who started:
- 2007: Jeremy Ciulla and Alex Mitchell quit football for medical reasons; before that were distinctively uninspiring. Medical reasons kinda suspected to be an allergy to Barwis. Adam Kraus is a three-year starter unlikely to get drafted. Jake Long can buy and sell you sixty times over.
- 2006: C Mark Bihl goes undrafted, as does Rueben Riley. Riley sticks on the Panthers' practice squad for the 2007 season.
- 2005: G Matt Lentz and T Adam Stenavich, three-year starters both, go undrafted. They've both been on a couple practice squads. G Leo Henige is undrafted and out of football.
- 2004: C/G David Baas is the first pick of the second round.
- 2003: C Dave Pearson is undrafted. He does manage to make Lions in 2006 but is cut soon thereafter. Tony Pape goes in the seventh round to the Dolphins; he's never started a game in the NFL.
- 2002: T Courtney Morgan starts ten (TEN) games. Obviously, he is not drafted. Neither is G Dave Petruziello.
Mysterious unexplained era shift!
- 2001: G Jonathan Goodwin goes in the fifth round to the Jets. Now a backup for the Saints, Goodwin has started 15 NFL games. C Kurt Anderson is undrafted.
- 2000: Jeff Backus, Maurice Williams, and Steve Hutchinson are all currently NFL starters. Hutchinson will be in the Hall of Fame. Slacker C David Brandt went undrafted but spent a couple years at the end of NFL rosters. Note that G/T Ben Mast also graduates this year; Mast was a starter in '99 but lost his job to Goodwin/Williams as a senior.
- 1999: T Chris Ziemann goes undrafted (I think) but makes the Giants in his first year, playing in eight games but starting none. That concludes his career.
- 1998: T Jon Jansen is a second-round pick of the Redskins and has started every game he's been healthy for for a decade. G Steve Frazier goes undrafted and does not make the NFL -- though he only started six games with Williams, Brandt, and Mast picking up the other starts.
- 1997: C Zach Adami is undrafted.
- 1996: C Rod Payne is a third-round draft pick but his NFL career is cut short by numerous injuries. G Damon Denson goes in the fourth round and spends three years with the Patriots. T Thomas Guynes -- who I don't remember even slightly -- is undrafted and spends one year with the Cardinals.
In the six-year block of time from 2002 to 2007 Michigan graduated 14 starters, three of whom were drafted. It's a little early to close the book on everyone's career in this timespan, but it would be really surprising to see anyone other than Long or Baas to ever start an NFL game.
In the six-year block of time from 1996 to 2001 Michigan graduated 14 starters, seven of whom were drafted. Five of those players are still in the NFL; four have been starters for between seven and nine years. Two have made Pro Bowls. One is probably going to be in the Hall of Fame.
This is a pretty stark difference that gets even starker when you consider that many of the undrafted-non-NFL sorts in the second group started for a year, or even less than a year, while the Jansens and Hutchinsons and Backi started for three or four. Meanwhile, the Suck Era often saw three years of starting from NFL nonfactors.
The thing that jumps out the most are the fates of Mast and Frazier, who saw their jobs come under severe fire from future NFL players. Can you imagine that happening at any time in the last five years? Absolutely not. The hallmark of the Suck Era was scrambling to find someone, anyone, to play the last couple spots on the line.
Leo Henige was operating on knees made of testicles and valiantly limped through a mediocre season that was in no way his fault. Alex Mitchell was pressed into service whenever he could be bothered to grease up and slide into his uniform. Rueben Riley played two years at tackle when he should have been a guard; for the last half of his senior year he was playing with a dislocated shoulder. Steve Schilling was hurled onto the field at least a year too early, and Justin Boren's saw the field as a true freshman -- the first time that had happened at Michigan since men hunted stegosaurus and JoePa was competent.
Is it a coincidence that Andy Moeller was appointed the Michigan offensive line coach in 2002? Can it possibly be? No. It's not all his fault -- linemen got fatter and less athletic as the program lost its edge, injured more often and softer because the injuries made the healthy off-limits; recruiting was increasingly erratic at identifying players who actually wanted to play football -- but a large portion of the blame falls on the position coach's head.
This is the wishful thinking of Michigan fans: Moeller was so bad and the linemen so coddled that despite the exit of the #1 pick in the draft and three other starters, there will not be a dropoff. Because whatever Greg Frey might lack in people skills he also might lack in suck. Note that Frey isn't the son of a former Michigan head coach who counts the current Michigan head coach a dear friend. He's not even a Rodriguez crony, having come to West Virginia from South Florida just a year before Rodriguez left for Michigan. He is here because of his performance.
Hey, it could be true.