landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Rich Rodriguez met with the media tonight following the first day of fall camp. If you want the full audio, you can check out MVictors, but I've pulled out the important points below. The above photo comes courtesy of Bruce Madej. Your humbe blogger is just out of the frame to the left.
- Vincent Smith, David Molk, and Mike Martin were all in practice today. The only guy who was out for the spring that's still out is Will Heininger. Smith did not seem to be favoring his knee.
- A couple guys missed some team meetings today with summer school obligations. Those were mostly freshmen, but a couple upperclassmen as well. Michael Shaw was among those guys. There are a couple days next week before summer school is completely over.
- No word on who took the first snap at QB today, but "all three guys are competing." Denard and Tate have a bit of experience, but Devin is in great shape and wants to compete. In camp, they'll limit QB contact in order to avoid injury. If a quarterback separates himself from the pack, he'll be the starter. Tate is competitive, and will work for the job. Tate, Denard, and Devin all had good moments today.
- There's enough experience and talent at running back to win some games. Vincent Smith, Michael Cox, and Fitzgerald Toussaint were singled out. Stephen Hopkins should be able to fit the "big back" role that they're losing with the graduation of Brandon Minor. Kelvin Grady is playing both slot and running back. He's a full-time football player now.
- The offensive line is bigger and stronger up front. The idea that RR offenses only want little guys is inaccurate - as long as a player can move, bigger is better. Experience will help the OL be better - and it will allow them to install more of the offense much more quickly. There was only one bad snap from the centers today.
- The offensive and defensive lines look good (RR said Will Campbell looked "OK" before saying he didn't want to answer any more questions on individuals). There were no pads today, so it's too early to say how they'll be, but they look physical up front. The young offensive line is growing up, and this should be a deeper team up front.
- Young guys (even true freshmen) will have a chance to contribute at safety and corner. It will probably be tougher for D-linemen to contribute this season - but we'll know more once they're in pads.
- Within two weeks of practice, they should have a good idea of which freshmen will be able to contribute in the fall. The first full scrimmage in two weeks is a key to that: "The pads answer a few questions." This is a fast freshman class - including the guys up front. On top of that, they didn't make any big mistakes today - they're a bright group.
- "Will Hagerup will be what we thought." He's got a powerful leg and is a good athlete. He should be the starting punter.
Team and Schemes
- The team on the whole looks to be in pretty good shape. Some players are in very good shape, some are only in OK shape, and some are not physically ready for Division-1 football. "Goal and expectation" is to get everybody in very good shape. The expectations for freshmen aren't as high from a conditioning standpoint, but they were helped by making it in for summer school. Nobody that could be considered an "impact player" would ever show up to camp out of shape. The coaches ran a conditioning test at the end of practice, and there's just a handful of guys that are not ready.
- The team will practice in pads on Friday, and Sunday will be the first 2-a-day.
- This team has the ability to be faster than last year's team. The speed will be aided by players not having to think too much. The coaches might have tried to work on schemes a little too much today, causing the players to not play quite as fast.
- It's too early to compare the overall talent level of this team to the 2008 or 2009 teams. What this team does have is more guys who can contribute, particularly on defense.
- Practice is probably the best time to be a coach. It's good to be on the field teaching guys. The team is full of guys eager to learn.
- The continuity at defensive coordinator means everyone is already used to the scheme and personality. Guys being in the program for a few years also helps: They don't have to explain the process of practice to guys, and can worry about teaching football.
- They've been fortunate to be able to grant scholarships to some walkons each year Rodriguez has been here. They have a couple extra scholarships this year, but they don't like to announce which walkons receive scholarships because it makes the other guys feel unimportant. Earning the scholarship "is not the end of your goals, it's just the start."
- You know a program is improving when you are able to play poorly and win. Michigan obviously isn't there yet.
- When asked specifically about Woolfolk's comments on Tate: "I'm glad our seniors are taking some ownership and leadership in this team. They want everyone to work as hard as they have." When asked again, RR said it's good to see the seniors take ownership of this team (which sounds to me like a sign he doesn't think Woolfolk really did anything wrong). Everyone in the program ants to succeed, and they deserve a chance to enjoy their final season.
- Rodriguez can sense the senior leadership on this team. They've had player meetings, and come over to his house as a group, etc. They will be vocal leaders (moreso than last year), and they know they have something to prove.
- There will be two permanent captains for this team, and they've been announced: OL Stephen Schilling and LB Mark Moundros. On top of that, there will be two game captains for each contest "if they're worthy, which I think we'll have."
- When asked specifically about the West Virginia notice of allegations: "I'm talking about Michigan football."
- It's the head coach's job to handle outside distractions. As for the players, "they handle what's going on in Schembechler Hall." Players worry about getting their Michigan degree and winning football games. Michigan, the football program, and RR's family form a great support system that's helping Rodriguez handle the pressure of outside distractions.
- In regards to a certain report about a 2012 game against Alabama - "I believe those conversations are ongoing." When asked about what it might mean, Rodriguez remarked, "Ya'll tell me, do you think that would be fun?"
- Rodriguez would prefer that the players don't use Twitter and other social media, but if they like it, they can. It's the job of the football coaches and athletic staff to educate them, and remind them that they're not only representing themselves, but also the university.
- The phrase "winning cures all" is accurate, because it puts the attention onto the game, instead of other stuff. "Let's just limit the drama. Let's just keep the main thing the main thing."
- Rodriguez is strictly coaching this week. He'll worry about the NCAA hearing on the flight out there, and then it's back to coaching on Sunday.
- Rodriguez saw Brock Mealer walking today. When the team has their "beanie scrimmage" in the Big House, Brock will practice running through the tunnel.
- There's no real added sense of urgency to this season. Rodriguez has had a sense of urgency ever since he's been coaching - even as an assistant.
- When asked specifically about Ron English's comments from earlier this week, Rodriguez responded that they don't pigeonhole recruitable prospects on the basis of their economic status or family upbringing. Anyone you recruit must be committed on and off the field.
Editor's note: I moved this weekend and am currently on the floor two feet from the modem; I'll be out the rest of the day assembling the new place.
In two sections for balance: calls that went in favor of Michigan and calls against Michigan. Importance is somewhat… uh… important, but here we're looking for the biggest ref boners of the decade. Games that finish 60-7 don't make the cut but a terrible call in a game that's competitive does even if that call doesn't swing the game.
Spartan Bob is excluded since that was not an error.
In Which Michigan Is Bailed Out
5. Braylon's catch-like-substance against Washington
This set up the #2 play of the decade, in which Phil Brabbs nailed a 44-yard field goal to give Michigan a last-second win against top-ten Washington:
Despite its huge importance, this play checks in last because you can make a case that Edwards did bring the ball in and move upfield before it popped loose. It's at least close.
4. Armageddon bailout
This is not on the 'tubes, unfortunately, so you'll just have to take my word for it. From that game's UFR:
Herbstreit immediately bursts into a spiel about how that's obvious interference and I'm like 'no it isn't.' This ball is well underthrown -- Mario had burned O'Neal crispy -- allowing the S to get back into the play. He doesn't look, the ball hits him in the back or arm or something, and Manningham's progress is never impeded. This is the same kind of crappy call we've been getting on our DBs all year, and it's still crappy when it happens in our favor. (IN, 1, protection 2/2)
That was fourth and sixteen on Michigan's 44 with time running out in Football Armageddon and Michigan down ten; given the gift of new life on a pass interference call that didn't even see the defensive back touch the receiver, Michigan would score and get the opportunity to attempt an onside kick.
3. Bryant Johnson's inexplicable non-catch
The clip below contains back-to-back plays in the 2004 Penn State game; this entry deals with the second, when Bryant Johnson came up with a patented Zack Mills Hopeful Downfield Jump Ball, got not one but two feet in-bounds, and was somehow ruled out of bounds:
If Bryant was correctly ruled in-bounds Penn State would have been in game-winning field goal range with almost a minute left on the clock to set up a chip shot.
2. Illinois double fumble mishap
Fumbles are hard. But even so you these plays late in the fourth quarter of a game Michigan was trailing by three caused outrage in Champaign, then outrage in Ann Arbor after the Big Ten took the unprecedented step of apologizing for them:
Harvey was down. If your helmet hits the ground, you are down. (If anything other than your foot or hand hits the ground, you're down) Thomas was not. The two plays were separated by just one six-yard Askew run, and to this day whenever you're pretending you care about the Illini to an Illini fan they will bring this up. Unlike Penn State, they've got beef.
Michigan ended up losing this game but other than the dadaist Oregon-Oklahoma onside kick there has probably never been a worse call in college football. It's the 2008 Michigan State game and Michigan has a third and goal from around the ten. Steven Threet tosses a wheel route to Minor that's juuust a bit outside, Minor catches it but lands well out of bounds, field goal team comes on, and then the ref gets buzzed.
In the stands people are trying to figure out why. Multiple theories are passed around, none of which stick. As best we can figure there's a confusing television angle in which it looks like Minor managed to get a foot down that will be quickly shown false and we can get on with our lives. The call does not come. We are waiting too long for something not to be amiss. At this point, the replay official should be calling someone to double-check his insane rule interpretation, but he's not. He's just calling it down: Brandon Minor is in the endzone because his foot touched the pylon, which is "part of the endzone" in one part of the rulebook. Problem: in another part of the rulebook it is specifically declared not something that can make a catch in-bounds.
As the ref raises his hands sheepishly, 105,700 people in Michigan Stadium know that something has just gone wrong—everyone but the replay official. The Big Ten later admits error and promotes Jim Augustine to praetor.
This is number one because it's a perfect storm of ineptness: the call was right on the field and was overturned to be incorrect by the replay official
Specifically Omitted Non-Errors
Two seconds of whining lasts a lifetime. For the last time, Penn State fans: asking for time on the clock because the clock operator did not stop the thing after the ref called timeout is not a bad call. You know who thinks that? Joe Paterno, who called timeout on Penn State's last drive and then badgered the refs for two extra seconds on the clock and got them.
Heel-toe. In that same game, Jason Avant picked up a key first down on a pass on the sideline where his toe came down in-bounds an instant before his heel struck out of bounds. The NCAA rulebook is very generous when it comes to getting in bounds: if any bit of you hits in bounds, you are in bounds.
Correct. In last year's Notre Dame game, Armando Allen stepped out of bounds on a screen that looked like it went for a touchdown. Replay overturned the call and ND eventually settled for a field goal. Notre Dame fans complain about this.
Outrages(!) In Which Michigan Is Screwed
5. Bryant Johnson inexplicable catch
This should look familiar:
This is the first Bryant Johnson catch-type substance where Johnson hits the ground and the ball immediately flies out as he hits the ground. The ground can't cause a fumble but it certainly can cause you to not catch the ball, and Johnson never had control. On third and forever, this would have forced a Penn State punt and allowed Michigan a chance to win in regulation.
4. Sure, his entire body is in the endzone but maybe the ball isn't
This wouldn't have been an issue if Chad Henne hadn't fumbled the ball on the ensuing snap from the one-inch line, but he did so holy hell:
It is impossible for someone to be in that position after the play is over and to have not scored a touchdown. As a bonus, Notre Dame had twelve guys on the field and was not called, not that that would have prevented Henne from fumbling on the next play.
3. That's not even a phantom touchdown, it's a phantom run to the one
In the 2002 Notre Dame game, all manner of infuriating stuff happened as Michigan blew the momentum from their win over Washington in a 25-23 loss to the Notre Dame team that inaugurated the jokes about Field Goal Jesus. One of the non-field-goals was a touchdown-type substance by Carlyle Holiday in which the guy fumbled at the two (the two!) and still managed to convince the refs that he had entered the endzone ball-in-hand. Since Michigan lost and Notre Dame's version of Wolverine Historian is a slacker, there is no video of the dread event. It did make it into the game recaps…
Michigan committed another costly error when receiver Tyrece Butler fumbled at his own 24 and Holiday scored on a three-yard run with 23 seconds left in the half. Holiday appeared to fumble before reaching the end zone, but the officials still signaled a touchdown.
...in case anyone thinks I'm insane.
2. Domata Peko fumble rumble
I was at this game and after the replay official upheld the call on the field we complained so loud and long that an elderly Michigan State fan threatened us. But if any college fanbase was familiar with the intricacies of the tuck rule, it was that of the school which produced both Tom Brady and Charles Woodson. We had a righteous cause:
In the aftermath, rule books were delved into, laws specifically addressing the situation unearthed, and slack-jawed gaping disbelief retroactively justified:
When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward toward the neutral zone, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts the forward pass. If a Team B player contacts the passer or ball after forward movement begins and the ball leaves the passer's hand, a forward pass is ruled regardless of where the ball strikes the ground or a player (A.R. 2-19-2-I).
Michigan ended up with the win but it took overtime; without the error Michigan likely wins by somewhere in the range of seven to ten points in regulation.
1. If your elbow hits the ground and you're not Antonio Bass, you're down
1. If your elbow hits the ground and you're not Antonio Bass, you're down
This takes the cake because, like the Minor touchdown, it was a correct call on the field overturned by an inept or possibly insane replay official. It should be noted that it was karmically justified, as the refs had missed an ultra-rare Mike Hart fumble in the first half and the replay official then failed to buzz; there were also a couple of comically bad pass interference calls, one of which was seven yards downfield and saw Iowa inexplicably penalized fifteen yards. Iowa had a ridiculous call in their favor coming.
They got it. Antonio Bass came in for another of his Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draws. Though intermittently effective on the day, Iowa stoned this one, getting Bass in the backfield and flipping him almost head-over-heels. As Bass crashed to the ground his elbow hit first, causing the ball to pop loose. Iowa recovered, the refs on the field ruled him down, and then the buzz came. After five minutes of looking at Bass's elbow touch the ground first, the replay official awarded Iowa the ball:
Unfortunately, the clip does not show the many copious replays that showed Bass was down but the reaction of announcers normally loathe to criticize officials should suffice.
(Odd side note: all of these plays are from 2002 or 2005.)
Special Lifetime Total Lack Of Achievement Award
The 2005 Alamo Bowl, in its entirety.
5'9", 155 lbs.
Cape Coral, Florida
Prince is an athlete fit for Rich Rodriguez' system, and could fill a spot as a slot in the offense very nicely. Holloway is from Florida, but says he has no problem with distance. As for what schools stand out to him right now, he had this to say:
There's still some other schools I'm looking at, but West Virginia and Michigan are the top two schools right now. I'll most likely take an official visit to Michigan, I'm just not sure when.
I don't think he'll have a good grasp for where he wants to go until he takes his visits. I think West Virginia might have a slight edge right now, but like I said the visits will change a lot of what he's thinking. He would be a nice addition to the offense and return game. [Ed: If Michigan has room. Slot is not a big priority in this class.]
6'4", 247 lbs.
West Branch, Michigan
As everyone knows Anthony is one of Michigan's top priorities for this class. At first it seemed as if it would be a quick and painless courtship, and now it's likely to drag out to the end of the season. Zettel just came back from a visit to Penn State, and had a great time. As far as how his season will pan out, he said this:
I probably won't take officials to Michigan or MSU, because I've been there so many times already. I will most likely take official visits to Penn State and Iowa, though. I'll be at a couple Michigan games during the season, just not officials.
I understand his logic behind not taking official visits to either in state school, but I think it gives Penn State and Iowa a slight advantage, at least relative to where they were before. On an official visit the recruits get to spend the night and hang out with the players, go out at night, and really experience what it's like to be up there. He may have already done that at Michigan, but coming to a game doesn't give that same experience. I am still on the optimistic side though, and I think Michigan is still in prime position. He won't be making his decision any time soon:
My parents and I think it's best to wait until after the season to make a decision.
If Michigan wins, we're golden. If not, it will be a dogfight, or a lot of questions will need to be answered.
5'10", 185 lbs.
Fort Meyers, Florida
Crawford was up at Michigan for the spring game with wide receiver Sammy Watkins, his teammate. It was their first time up to Michigan, and it left a lasting impression for a few reasons:
When we went up for the spring game, it exceeded my expectations. I've heard about the great tradition at Michigan, but being up there and seeing it is a great thing. The campus, everything is great. I had the best hamburger I've ever had at the Brown Jug.
Good food on campus is a plus for Dallas. With the season approaching, it's almost time to start thinking about who's going to make the cut, and what schools are left.
My list right now is LSU, Michigan, Wake Forest, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Miami. I think I'll take all of my official visits. One of those schools I'll have to drop, so I'll drop it down first. I think Michigan has a very, very, very realistic chance with me.
The weather has been mentioned with Dallas, as it sometimes is with Florida kids, and possibly going to the same school as his teammate Sammy.
Weather doesn't really matter to me. It was 30 degrees at the spring game at Michigan, and that would probably be around the coldest game I would play in. Eventually you'd have to play someone up north, so that's no big deal. With Sammy, if it happens it happens. I don't know if it will, we gotta do what's best for us.
It should be noted that Dallas holds a 3.52 GPA, and said he's qualified with the clearinghouse. I haven't confirmed this, but there are rumors that Watkins may have grade issues that could prevent him from choosing certain schools.
Coach Frey has made a great impression on Dallas, and has developed a nice relationship as well. Crawford's high school coach is a Michigan fan, and believes that the Michigan coaches would treat him well, too. He appears to be a reason that the coaches have put LA CB Daren Kitchen on the back burner for now—Michigan is in great position with Crawford.
Dallas is probably going to wait to make his decision, but said it will also most likely be before signing day.
- Tommy Schutt - Tommy is a big defensive tackle (6'3", 300 lbs.) from Glenbard West in Illinois. If you feel like that school sounds familiar it's because that's the same school of 2011 OL recruit Jordan Walsh. Not only are they teammates, but they're good friends, too. Michigan will be one of the top schools that Tommy looks at, and his coach had some good news for the future:
My coach told me that Michigan will be offering me on September first. I know Jordan is very interested in Michigan, and if he went there it would have an effect on my decision.
September 1st is the first day that 2012 recruits can get written offers. A name to keep an eye on for sure, as he already has verbal offers from Illinois and Iowa.
- Vin Ascolese - Vin is an outside linebacker (6'2", 196 lbs.) from New Jersey. Ascolese was an attendee at the spring game this year, and has also taken visits to Penn State, Boston College, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma. Everything is still fresh in his mind, and he said the spring game was very energetic. The Michigan coaches say they like his size and athleticism, and are going to keep in contact with him. You can take a look at his sophomore highlights here.
- As I mentioned the other day, DE/LB Austin Traylor out of Ohio narrowed his list down this weekend. The list consists of (in no order) Michigan, Minnesota, MSU, Cincinnati, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Kentucky. A pretty broad narrowed down list, if you ask me. We'll see if Michigan decides to show him enough interest, they may wait to see how some other prospects pan out first.
- Don't expect OL Chris Bryant to make his decision in the near future. He loves Michigan, but told me he will be waiting to make his decision at least a few games into the season. He wants to see how everyone's season starts off before deciding.
You probably dismissed the idea of Michigan playing a huge nonconference game against Alabama in two years in Jerryworld as crackpot rumor-mongering of the sort the internet specializes in. Michigan's on the road against ND, leaving a maximum of six home games, it's transparently silly to play a college football game thousands of miles from either college, and Michigan hasn't played a neutral-site OOC game basically ever. It seemed instantly implausible.
But apparently it is happening. The contract is being signed Monday. Which is tomorrow.
The following details are unconfirmed but of interest since they come from an established source:
- Game is happening because a desperate Jerry Jones "overpaid."
- Michigan will be the nominal home team (important mostly for TV rights) and receive more money.
- There's no additional game scheduled and there may not be.
- Jones might be well-positioned to provide some advice on HD scoreboards.
This comes with a set of crazy conflicting emotions. Hurray awesome nonconference game, boo that it's in fricking Dallas in a corporate death star of an NFL stadium and not a home-and-home in Ann Arbor and Tuscaloosa. I guess that's what it takes for a lot of actual nonconference games to get done these days, but awesomeness of trip to Dallas to see M play 'Bama <<<<<< awesomeness of M-Bama home-and-home. On the other hand, awesomeness of M-Bama Dallas >>>>>>> awesomeness of M-BGSU anywhere.
[Note on sourcing: in this case I am going with one source, but he is a very established one.]
Falk never stops. Falk.
I'd look suspicious, too, kid. Via the SI vault, Desmond Howard dealing with the world's least enthusiastic autograph-seeker:
"Why don't you get out of that bucket of ice," I says, and he says "because you're wearing a Bulls jersey, a Phillies hat, and asking me to sign a Jaguars pennant. Also because I'm in crippling pain."
Score-o. Thanks to the largess of some guy who sold his company to Shell for just under five billion-with-a-b dollars, Penn State's perennial powerhouse club hockey team appears on the verge of moving on up to the big time:
Rumors and speculation have existed for more than a decade, but it finally appears Penn State is on the verge of building a new ice hockey arena near the Bryce Jordan Center and adding Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs.
“We’re close,” a source close to the situation told the Mirror on Thursday. “It won’t be long before we’ll be able to potentially make some kind of announcement. But it’s not a done deal yet.”
Close means within two months. Score. Penn State adding hockey would be the biggest positive development in college hockey since… uh… the shuttering of Division II gave D-I enough teams to expand the tournament to sixteen teams? I guess. If you even see that as a positive.
The existence of the Nittany Lions would bring Big Ten hockey into play—you need six teams to have an official Big Ten league—but extracting Minnesota and Wisconsin from their rich history in the WCHA is problematic. (No offense to the teams in the CCHA but I assume M, MSU, and OSU would leave in a hot second.)
There is the possibility that ripping flagship teams out of the CCHA and WCHA would see several weaker schools in those leagues fold, but it doesn't seem like a strong one. A WCHA anchored by North Dakota, Denver, and Colorado College is still a powerhouse full of good games. A few CCHA schools might be on shakier ground but the emergence of Notre Dame and Miami as powers with shiny new rinks would give the smaller conference a couple of anchors. Also, even if Big Ten teams play each other four times each they'll still have 12-14 nonconference dates to fill and will be able to keep up local rivalries.
Negotiating all that will take time; as it stands Penn State will be a member of the CCHA as soon as it fields a team. I'm betting the powers that be in the league had been informed that Penn State was laying groundwork when they rejected Huntsville's application.
(HT: Slow States. If you miss BSD's content from Kevin HD and RUTS, that's where they've relocated.)
Except with more Coastal Carolina. Slow States—which I don't think I'll be abbreviating, thanks, why don't you just name your blog Not Another Zimmerman Impersonator*—also looks at what a Penn State schedule might look like after the Big Ten goes to nine conference games by pretending ND is part of the Big Ten and looking at Michigan's schedules during the 12-game era. BCS opponents are bolded:
2002 – Washington (return trip), W. Michigan, ND, Utah
2003 – C. Michigan, Houston, ND, @Oregon (H-H)
2004 – Miami OH, ND, SDSU (11 games)
2005 – N. Ill, ND, E. Michigan (11 games)
2006 – Vandy, C. Michigan, ND, Ball State
2007 – [The Horror], Oregon (H-H), ND, E. Michigan
2008 – Utah, Miami OH, ND, Toledo
2009 – W. Michigan, ND, E. Michigan, Delaware State
2010 – UConn (H-H), ND, UMass, Bowling Green
Vandy isn't much but a couple of games against Utah were against vaguely(2002) to extremely(2008) BCS-caliber opposition
The assumption is that the best looking out of conference game gets the bump and Penn State's OOC schedule is going to look pretty sad. Thoughts related to this:
- Penn State's OOC schedule is already pretty sad.
- Michigan won't be able to dump ND and replace it with a tomato can without sparking a riot, so at least in their case they'll be upping the minimum number of BCS games they play over a span like this by four or five. Similarly, MSU and Purdue can't get away with three tomato cans, Ohio State is going to play at least one legit OOC opponent yearly, Illinois will likely continue its series with Missouri, and Minnesota will cast about looking for ways to fill Not The Metrodome. Indiana won't be able to replicate this year's mockery of college football.
- The net result will be more competitive games…
- …and probably fewer competitive games between conferences…
- …which is worth it if I don't have to sit through three MAC/I-AA games a year…
- …but Penn State fans will.
Solution: man up. Or have the legislature threaten terrible things unless you play Pitt every year like you goddamn well should.
*(Which is actually a great blog name for a technically-inclined fellow. Except for the acronym.)
Optimism is a disease. The readership of this here blog has predicted an 8-4 regular season according to the recent survey conducted by MGoUser "tpilews", with 84% predicting a win over UConn, 71% predicting one over Notre Dame, and so forth and so on. Despite being a home game, Wisconsin was declared the most terrifying opponent at 14%; other hypothetical losses come against Ohio State (31%), Iowa (35%), and Penn State (49%—a margin one vote VOTE OR DIE). As these things always are, it's too optimistic but that's life in August.
Divisions. None of this means anything, but:
- Joe Schad says the Big Ten will split into divisions with PSU and OSU on one side and Michigan and Nebraska on the other with a guaranteed M-OSU game, which is absolutely the worst-case scenario for M assuming the rest of that division is the Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin triumvirate of hate and Michigan State: Michigan is the only team in the league with guaranteed games against four of the six powers. Woo.
- Teddy Greenstein, who I'll remind you works for a newspaper in Chicago and is therefore about as accurate as the Bleacher Report (the latest crack reporting is random anonymous sourcing that Kentucky's top recruit took 200k), suggests they'll go straight geography.
Dorsey difficulty. Premium article, but the bit that's relevant($) is small:
If Louisville is having a hard time getting him through, all conspiracy theories about admissions doing anything other than what they had do can go out the window. RR should never have gone after Dorsey; hopefully Michigan's pursuit of him didn't cost them Tony Grimes or Sean Parker.
Etc.: Via the MB, UConn has lost linebacker/DE Greg Lloyd for the season. Lloyd was UConn's second-leading tackler last year and possibly their best defensive player. If you don't know this already, the Big Ten Championship Game will be played in Indianapolis, as was ordained by geography.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, and WR Jerald Robinson.
|Warren, OH - 6'1" 180|
|Scout||2*, #168 WR|
|Rivals||3*, #53 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #54 WR|
|Other Suitors||"interest" from Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, other mid-level BCS schools|
|YMRMFSPA||Ted Ginn if Michigan rolls a double critical hit|
|Previously On MGoBlog||No commitment post? Sorry. MGoThread on his track exploits.|
|Notes||Harding has sent Prescott Burgess, Mario Manningham, and classmate Davion Rogers to M recently.|
If you are looking for information on Warren Harding wide receiver DeAver (or, more commonly, DJ) Williamson, the internet will readily tell you he is fast. Picking one of a dozen articles about this year's Ohio state track meet at random yields the following:
Warren Harding's DeAver Williamson might well have earned the title of fastest man at the meet. The senior repeated as state champion in the D-I 100 (10.64) and also won the 200 (21.46). He also ran legs on two Harding relays, which finished third in the 800 relay and sixth in the 400 relay.
One wonders what a kid has to do at a track meet for the uncertainty about whether he's the fastest guy there to evaporate. Not only did he win the events where being really fast is important, but his 10.64 100 would have been faster had he not gone Usain Bolt at the end of it:
Anyway, if you give DJ Williamson some lycra and maybe a baton and tell him to run in a straight line he's excellent at it. The internet shouts this on every Google results page.
When it comes to the other stuff with the helmets and the changing directions and possibly getting blasted by some other guy with a helmet, however, it's remarkably hard to find out anything. For example, Scout's got all of five articles and not even the cursory scouting report they give most players. I'm not saying that DJ Williamson's scholarship offer is part of a plot to graft his legs onto Michigan's other incoming wide receivers—to a man strapping, polished types recruiting sites say move like garbage trucks—but I'm not not saying it either. We have a Life Sciences Institute, after all.
If Williamson's recruitment was not a diabolical plot to create the planet's first GMO wideout, he's going to have to put in some work to see the field. He started off with a fair amount of hype, finding himself #10 on Ohio High's early 2008 top ten list for his class, but as you can see above that was by far the high water mark for his stock. He was the only recruit in this class to get just two stars from Scout; he checks in as a low three star (5.5) on Rivals and fails to make their list of the top 100 wide receivers nationally.
ESPN does like him a lot($), though, so they're obviously right about his potential. Their primary takeaway is not surprising:
Williamson's greatest asset is his top end speed. This kid can really go and stretch the field. He reaches top gear in a hurry and is capable of not only getting over the top of defenders, but also making that first stab after the catch and splitting the seam as a homerun threat. He is a slashing type runner, not a jitterbug. Wastes little time establishing his intentions. He has quality size and the frame to gain significant strength and bulk over time. … Stabs and cuts with precision and has big upside to become a dangerous route runner for the next level because of his speed and ability to create separation.
The only downside is a "lack of natural wiggle"; correspondingly they have him just outside the top 50 receivers nationally. That's not spectacular but it's a far cry from #168 or We Can't Be Bothered. Meanwhile, someone get Lemming a paper bag:
Here is another WR with All American potential. The brilliant speed and athletic ability has not yet translated to difference maker but that could happen as early as this fall.
He catches the ball away from his body, can turn up field quickly, and can create after the catch. Very fast, his hands have really improved over the past year and he certainly shows the athleticism to excel in the college ranks. His leaping ability and long arms allows him to get his hands on the ball before the defenders do.
That's about it as far as guru descriptions of his game go, and that latter is unreliable given Lemming's excitability. There is a Rivals piece from before his senior year says "speed will never be an issue" with him but that he's "still growing into a natural receiver," FWIW.
However, whenever there's a Warren Harding kid on the radar of D-I colleges Buckeye Planet gets frequent visits from Worm02, an established close observer of the school. I will make a brilliant deductive leap and hazard a guess that he graduated from WGH in 2002. Worm on Williamson's situation:
He hasn't been able to light up the stat sheet because Harding had an athlete at quarterback the last two years. His arm wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Throw in scrambles, sacks, over/underthrows, etc., you have low production numbers. His film on Scouting Ohio is solid, but what you don't see is that in every game, even in Harding's big losses, Williamson got behind his defender the majority of the time. He's very difficulty to guard. Not as polished as Manningham, but he has a big upside.
[second post] D.J. has an awful lot of potential and yes, he does remind me of Manningham just a bit… D.J. has the tools to develop into a nice one, but at this stage in Manningham's career (5 years ago), not only did everybody in Ohio know who he was, but he already had the Ohio State's, Michigan's, & Florida's ready to offer him a scholarship.
… I'm not going to judge D.J. by what Mario accomplished, but I think that he (D.J.) can become an elite player sooner than later.
Worm does tend to look at the positives more than the negatives for Harding recruits so take it for what it's worth. One of the reasons Williamson's stock isn't high is that as a senior Harding picked up more of a pocket-passing quarterback and his production did not increase from the 36 catches and 376 yards as a junior.
He also brings up the obvious comparison when we're talking about a six-foot-ish lighting bolt of a receiver making the journey from Harding to Michigan: Mario Manningham. The YRMFSPA above goes for Ted Ginn instead of Manningham because Manningham was a brilliant technician of a receiver while Ginn, who was usually ranked as a corner and started out there at OSU, was and remains considerably rawer. Even so, Manningham is largely responsible for Williamson's instant commitment. Take it from the man himself:
He remembers vividly looking up to Manningham as a youth. “Growing up I wanted to be like him,” Williamson said. “But now since I’m there, I want to be better than him.”
In junior high, Williamson served as waterboy for the Harding football teams that Manningham starred on. “When they used to call timeout I used to always run to Mario first so he could grab my water,” Williamson said. “He was the star of the team. When he went to Michigan, that’s when I started watching college football a lot, and that’s when I really started liking football.”
Williamson's relationship with Manningham made Michigan his dream school, and not in the bastardized way people throw it around these days when they get friendly with a hostess on their official visit:
"I feel real good right now," Williamson said. "It's one thing to get your first offer, but this is a dream come true for me. I always wanted to go to Michigan, and now I'll have my chance."
“It came down to just always being a Michigan fan,” he added. “That’s what I always wanted to do… follow my dreams… follow my heart.”
At Michigan, Williamson will apparently start out as a slot receiver. That's what he told WTKA on Signing Day, anyway. That's a little odd to me since Michigan is well stocked there and Williamson is a 6'1" guy with blazing speed light on "wiggle," but his coach apparently thinks it's a fine idea($):
"He's a slasher. We used him a lot on bubble screens but he runs a 10.8 100-meter dash so he's some that we can use vertically too. He has great hands, is a good route runner and because he's a former tailback, he has outstanding vision and a real explosion once he gets the ball in his hands.
I really feel like he'll be a great matchup at the slot receiver position in Michigan's offense.That's the offense we're going to use this fall and we think he'll exploit linebackers and safeties that can't keep up with his speed."
Right: speed. Fast. Etc. DJ Williamson is fast.
Manningham, who currently plays for the New York Giants, plans to take full advantage of his role as Williamson's mentor. He didn't waste any time in doing so.
"I called D.J. shortly after he committed," Manningham said. "It feels good to know that I can have a positive effect on kids from my hometown, so I feel a responsibility to support them when they are doing good things. I'm very happy for D.J. and his family, and I'm going to make sure that I can give him any advice that I think that he needs in regards to Michigan."
Different side of a guy a lot of people didn't like much off the field. And game knows game:
The reigning 100-meter champ in the state of Ohio, D.J. Williamson couldn’t help but be impressed with Denard Robinson’s debut as a Michigan sprinter last week.
“He’s probably the fastest person I ever saw run,” Williamson said. … “He would beat me. I can’t even say he wouldn’t."
Why Ted Ginn? Ginn came in with epic recruiting hype, especially compared to Williamson, so a reminder about the nature of You May Remember Me From Such Players As is in order: this is just what sort of player we might expect if Williamson works out and not an attempt to equate the two.
Disclaimers done with, Ginn was a six-foot-ish track star who won state titles in the 100 and was a great college player mostly because he could run ridiculously fast in a straight line. His best high school mark was a 10.5, a tenth better than Williamson i he also spent the last ten meters doing elaborate shadow puppets. Williamson's 40 is also a tenth slower than Ginn's, but he's got a couple inches to the good.
Guru Reliability: Low. Major spread in the numbers, wide receiver with ugly quarterback situation, early commit who appears to have gone to zero-count-em-zero camps even as an underclassman.
General Excitement Level: Moderate? Has top-end savoriness but comes in with an impressive disconnect between his 40 time and his recruiting rankings that suggest Michigan either knows something others don't—or he couldn't be bothered to reciprocate interest because he wanted M so badly—or that Williamson is a serious project. Williamson will be an interesting referendum on Tony Dews.
Projection: If he's a slot, which I think is a weird spot for him to be, a holy lock to redshirt. Also pretty much a holy lock to redshirt if he ends up outside since there are three other freshmen who have been on campus since January. So: holy lock to redshirt. After that will start working in as an occasional deep threat as a freshman before the logjam clears for his redshirt sophomore season. At that point anything could happen.