Site business. Two things:
- I am getting married this Saturday in a top-secret location far away from any images of Fielding Yost. I am taking Friday and Monday off; Tom and Tim will produce content as per usual. If you've got a diary you want front-paged this would be an opportune time to post it. Content from me will be light this week because a bunch of friends I don't get to see will be in town, etc.
- I'm warning you about this a month ahead of time: honeymoon is in late July for about ten days and I am probably not even going to take my computer.
Your understanding is appreciated.
I'm partial to the rally pickle myself.
Mascot business. I took a rage day so that I wouldn't say anything regrettable in the aftermath of the mascot trial balloon, leaving the rest of the world to offer Dave Brandon a raspberry and Brandon to quickly clarify that while he is all seeing and all knowing he is very very wily and no mascot is pending. Even while doing so he leaves himself an out, saying it "may never happen."
Q: In retrospect do you believe that Brandon announcing the OSU game would be moving to midseason was really a super-clever way to get everyone outraged about it and therefore ensure it doesn't happen?
The M-Zone makes a compelling case that we should not. After that fan explosion we've had the uniform business and the mascot business and at about the same time we've had the night game business. (While I don't care that much about having a night game, it is a departure from tradition.) The evidence points towards Dave Brandon being so intent on "creating the future" that he has absolutely no grasp on what's important to the fanbase until everyone's freaking out about it.
Worse, he spends time belittling the kind of people who do really care. From the inbox:
Below response to my (very short and very respectful) email to Dave Brandon today asking him to reconsider a Michigan mascot. I actually responded to this, against my better judgment, and said that if there's a man in a furry wolverine costume on the sideline than it'll wind up being more life-changing for him than for me.
Please don’t be too concerned over this life-changing topic!
All will be OK…
Have a great weekend!
I'm not sure how this happened since Dave Brandon was actually on the team under Bo, but the current athletic director appears to have no more connection to Michigan's traditions than—wait for it—Rich Rodriguez.
I really care about what goes on inside Michigan Stadium; Brandon thinks this makes me a sap.
At least he's not alone.
Convenient timing. Meanwhile, one of the main counter-arguments against Old Testament kind of guys who like their coffee black, parole denied, and Michigan Stadium old-timey is that if we don't get that cheddar Michigan will be left in the dust by its rivals.
Presenting Michigan's 2012 budget:
For the proposed FY 2012 Operating Budget (described in detail on the following pages), we project an operating surplus of $11.4 million based on operating revenues of $121.2 million and operating expenses of $109.8 million. The budgeted operating surplus will be will be used to fund our ongoing capital needs and facility renewal projects.
Bill Martin's great accomplishment was killing the immediate cheddar issue dead without compromising the brand that packs the largest stadium in the country. Further squeezing starts to impact the uniqueness of the Michigan experience and erodes the reasons people shell out as much as they do.
Unfair and true and BERGKAMP. Here is Denard Robinson's 87-yard touchdown against Notre Dame last year, first narrated by Tom Hammond, then your inner monologue:
It's not fair comparing Tom Hammond to whoever the BERGKAMP guy is, but he does have a point. Maybe Americans get more confused about whether sports is serious business worthy of objectivity or not.
For a counterpoint EDSBS immediately goes to Sean McDonough, who's the first guy I thought of, too:
Q: Franklin is retired and Nessler is now on the NFL network, so is McDonough now the undisputed #1 college football announcer? I can't think of anyone I'd rather have doing a Michigan game.
Welcome to the field. The O-Zone reports on the latest edition of the Big 33 PA-OH All-Star game, in which Ohio annihilated Pennsylvania. Featured amongst the players of interest is WLB signee Antonio Poole:
Antonio Poole, LB Cincinnati Winton Woods 6'0” 195 (Michigan)
I think Poole may have been the most impressive defensive player on the field. He's only listed at 6'0” 195 pounds, but he sticks ball-carriers right between the numbers and they stay stuck. When he's in pursuit, he looks much bigger than he is. He certainly hits much bigger than he is. He may not be big enough to play linebacker in the Big Ten right now, but the Wolverines may not be able to wait.
That's true—WLB is currently Mike Jones and maybe Brandin Hawthorne.
Goalie zen part XVI. Red Line Report is down on this year's crop of goalies but they do have a solid #1. Prepare for the same scouting report you've heard several times before:
The clear-cut No. 1 guy is John Gibson, who combines excellent size and a calm demeanor in the most important games. He plays economically and is strong in the butterfly, using his long legs to take away the bottom half of the net. Gibson is a big netminder who plays big, challenging well and not leaving much space for shooters to look at. He's also calm and patient and allows the play to come to him. We like his mental strength and focus in clutch situations.
They don't like the other Gibson, so John is the only goalie they give a first round grade.
Etc.: Penn State blog Linebacker U interviews Tom for his perspective on Michigan and Penn State recruiting.
|Highland Park, MI - 5'10" 175|
|Scout||3*, #49 CB|
|Rivals||4*, #14 ATH, #6 MI|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #95 ATH|
|Others||3*, 88, to 247.|
|Other Suitors||Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana|
|YMRMFSPA||shorter Troy Woolfolk|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
There are also some seven on seven highlights out there.
Bear with me here: Raymon Taylor is a reasonably-sized local cornerback who made it clear Michigan his his dream school from day one. An example from June($), five months before he'd actually get a Michigan offer:
“Whoo… (Laughing)… yeah, Michigan. That’s probably one of the biggest the schools. That’s my favorite pick if I ever had an offer. So I would definitely enjoy going there."
Martavious Odoms, meanwhile, is a diminutive wide receiver from Florida who had probably never thought about Michigan before Rich Rodriguez was hired. Despite this, they're analogous recruits.
Both got a fourth star from one, but only one, recruiting service. Both got a smattering of decent but not-that-impressive offers. Both were amongst the first recruits to sign on after a coaching transition and are therefore good gets in context, but not quite thrilling in the wider view.
If Taylor contributes at the level Odoms has it will be a win from multiple perspectives: Michigan will have a member of the secondary and they will have other members of the secondary, which is incomprehensible but sounds pretty cool.
Taylor's recruiting saga was an odd one if only because committing to Indiana and Michigan in the same recruiting cycle is a rare trick indeed (though Jibreel Black just made a similar switch last year). Once it seemed like no Michigan offer was en route, Taylor leapt on the Hoosier offer despite the fact it was far from his best: Wisconsin, Illinois, and Cincinnati all offered a chance to do something other than lose miserably for his college career*. Taylor chose the ineffable lightness of Bill Lynch.
After Lynch got axed, Taylor maintained he was committed but started looking around a bit. Michigan renewed its interest and Taylor prepared to commit just in time for Rich Rodriguez to meet his own demise. Undeterred, Taylor hung around for Hoke to get his bearings, figuring the first order of business would be "oh God, the secondary." It was. He got an offer and jumped on it. Word got out quickly:
"I went to the (Briarwood) mall and a guy already knew about it," Taylor said. "He was working at a store and me, Devin (Gardner) and Denard (Robinson) walked in and he said something. It was a Foot Locker shoe store. It's great, like an hour after it happened. It was real time."
Before that his renewed final five was Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and… uh… Toledo. With the by-that-point-withdrawn Wisconsin offer that's a solid list worthy of a guy somewhere between Rivals' rating ("basically Blake Countess") and those of Scout and ESPN ("bler").
As far as what sort of player Taylor is, change of direction appears to be an issue. At least, I imagine so if this is the top of the head comparison from Touch The Banner:
He reminds me of outgoing senior cornerback James Rogers. Rogers was a standout receiver/running back with great speed in high school, but he wasn't all that sudden of a player. Much like Rogers, Taylor doesn't exactly make quick cuts but catches the ball well and can run away from opponents. One thing Taylor has on Rogers, though, is that he's a little more physical.
No offense to a guy who stuck out the last five years and probably that many position changes, but James Rogers is not a very hopeful comparison, especially when Taylor is a couple inches shorter than Rogers.
ESPN rates him as an athlete but says in their scouting report he has the most upside as a "fiesty, tough" corner:
Is slightly undersized, but plays big. Likes to get up in the face of the DB and alter routes and releases. He has adequate hips, can mirror most receivers on double moves and shows good body control and balance. Can turn and run with speedy receivers. Shows burst out of his back pedal and shows very good closing quickness when driving on the ball in front of him. Has sound catch up speed and shows good acceleration when the ball is in the air. Has good leaping ability which helps compensate for his lack of ideal height, adjusts well to the ball in the air and has excellent ball skills.
They praise his open-field tackling and willingness to get after larger ball-carriers while complaining a bit about "stiffness," albeit mostly on offense. It a positive review but when it comes down to the numbers, #95 ATH is kind of not so much.
Scout's Allen Trieu scouted him($) when he was an Indiana commit; he didn't get much action on defense aside from laying a couple of "big hits in run support"; on offense he showed the ability to pull away from the pack:
… he made several big runs and he proved he had the one thing people questioned: speed. He can definitely run, as he pulled away from a fast Tigers team.
Hoke echoes the stuff about hitting dudes:
Hoke signed five defensive backs, including four-star recruit Raymon Taylor, who, as Hoke as said, can “line somebody up and go through the middle of them, like you’re supposed to play the game.”
There is another non-Manball aspect to Taylor's game, and it's the reason a number of sites rated him as an athlete even as they projected him to corner:
"He's real versatile, an athletic kid; he played running back, played receiver," Highland Park coach Cedric Dortch said. "He played quarterback, returned kicks, did some of everything for us. It looks like he'll be playing cornerback there. He was willing to do whatever. But that's his mainstay, when he can sit down and challenge the top receiver.
In college that's going to amount to a shot at returning kicks and punts.
Another coach quote:
“Automatically, even as a freshman you could tell he had a special athleticism," Dertch said. "Then, the past couple of years, he’s put the work in.”
That work eventually got him to Michigan even if he let the veil drop early; hopefully Michigan coming around will make for a productive relationship.
*[In Illinois's case any period of not losing miserably would be followed by a 1-11 crater, but by God they'd lose that BCS game like a fortunate-to-be-there co-champion first.]
Etc.: Trieu, who rates recruits, says he's "underrated," presumably by the Scout hive mind and not Trieu himself. Rivals named him second-team at the Army Combine. Head to head with Arnett at the Michigan Showcase:
Highland Park, Mich., athlete Raymon Taylor, who just added offers from Wisconsin and Indiana, also had a fair bit of success guarding Arnett. The 5-11, 170-pound Taylor could legitimately be either a wide receiver or cornerback on the next level, and he worked both sides on Sunday. Against Arnett he opted to play bump coverage at the line of scrimmage, which worked well on some reps and not so well on others.
Another way in which he's analogous to Odoms:
“My dad and uncle always say, ‘You gotta get out the 'hood’…Some guys on the street come up and they’ll put their arm around you and say, ‘Don’t do what I did.’ I just always looked at it like I don’t want to be one of those guys on the street,” Taylor said.
Why shorter Troy Woolfolk? Corners are always hard for me because so many are off limits: I'm not comparing anyone to Woodson or Todd Howard because either is unfair. Meanwhile, most people including myself don't really remember how corners play because they're not involved that often unless they've screwed up, etc. I find myself going back to the Grant Mason well time and again whenever there's a shortish guy with decent upside.
I grab Woolfolk here because Taylor is a guy who's basically a three star with decent offers and good straight line speed with some questions about his ability to change direction. Woolfolk's got a couple inches on Taylor, but Taylor sounds like a better tackler.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy player who hit a fair number of camps and got senior-year scouting, but a large gap in evaluations across services.
General Excitement Level: Odoms-esque: moderate. Taylor seems to lack the physical ability to be a star but has enough to contribute as a third corner, possibly early, and should get a shot at returning kicks.
Projection: Will get an opportunity to play this year depending on how he does in fall against Countess and Brown; two of those three play as dime backs and special-teamers in preparation for the 2012 battle over Woolfolk's starting spot. The other redshirts. Long term he probably loses that battle because of numbers and Countess, but he's another reasonable bullet in the chamber at a position of great need.
It was an important weekend for offensive line recruiting with a total of six linemen on campus: Jordan Diamond, Andrus Peat, Chris Muller, Blake Bars, Trey Keenan, and Steven Elmer. New offers were also extended and camp has begun. Here's a look at some of the recent happenings and what a few recruits had to say about Michigan.
6'5", 270 lbs.
Michigan was always high on Keenan's list since his family is originally from Michigan. A summer visit had always been in the works for him and he finally got to take in Ann Arbor this past weekend.
All the places I've been to are southern schools and I've never really been to a place like Michigan. It's flattering to be here and see all the tradition and history in the buildings. They have national championships and all americans so it's pretty cool to be here.
This visit gave Keenan a better look at what Michigan really has to offer, and it also gave him a chance to meet face to face with the coaches.
We got to talk to everybody, Coach Hoke, the Athletic Director, Coach Funk. We took a tour of everything and you could definitely tell that the whole thing was a well thought out process. Every place has nice stuff and nice facilities but Michigan has so much tradition. I really felt welcomed, too, and I felt wanted and needed.
Feeling like he was wanted was something that really stuck out to Trey while he was on campus.
They only have something like eight scholarship linemen. We've been to places that have said they need linemen, but with Michigan it was major here. There's a chance to play early here and that is something really cool at a place like Michigan. I also really liked the strength coach and how he put everything. He talked about everything and how they individualize certain aspects.
So what's next for Keenan?
We're going to the morning session of camp tomorrow [Monday]. I'm going to work out with Coach Funk to get a feel for him and how he interacts with his players. We do have a short list right now and Michigan is on that short list. I don't want to say how many are on it yet. We're going to take the next week then talk about everything with my coaches and family. All my planned summer visits are done with so we'll figure out what's going to happen next. This visit did nothing but up Michigan's status though.
Like he said he plans on meeting with his coaches and family within the next week to discuss what's next. If I had to guess it would seem like he's getting close to a decision, and it seems like Michigan could be in good shape.
6'3", 325 lbs.
Kansas City, Missouri
Pipkins recently released his top seven of Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Florida. It's no secret that Ondre has ties to Michigan, especially with his father still living there. He has planned on taking a summer visit to Michigan all along and it looks like he has an idea of when it will take place.
I'll be up there in late July or the beginning of August. I just can't wait to see the Big House, somewhere that I can possibly live out my dreams.
I know that Pipkins has wavered on when he would like to make his final decision, but it seems like there's a chance that it could be sooner than originally planned.
6'6", 297 lbs.
Elmer was on campus today with his father and was extended an offer from the Michigan coaches. He's a 2013 offensive line prospect that now holds offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Mississippi State. It's safe to say he'll be one of the better prospects in the country come next year. His father told me a little about how the visit went today.
It was great, we took an unofficial visit before camp today. We got to meet with the coaches, Coach Hoke, Borges, Funk, and the fact that it was the busiest day for them and they got us in there says a lot. I told Steven that this will probably be as good as or better than anything he's ever seen so far, and we were very impressed.
Academics will be a big factor in Steven's recruitment and Michigan always seems to impress in that department with Shari Acho.
The academics was the best part of the trip. Shari gave the part that I wanted to hear the most and it was fantastic. She explained that when you go to the University of Michigan you are part of a select group of people and you don't really understand that until you hear it in person. She was trying to talk fast and squeeze it all in but I told her we can see everything else any time. If I could go back and talk more about the academics with her I would.
This is all happening very early, especially for an offensive lineman, so the family is still taking everything in.
Steven did really well at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. We really like the message that camp sends so we went out there for that and he did really well. There's obviously been a good amount of interest from what he did there and people have been watching the videos all over the place, too. My wife is actually going with him out to Notre Dame later this week. She hasn't seen Notre Dame. She needs to see that stuff too, and the academic pitch from places like Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The family plans on sitting back and watching everything play out. They plan on trying to get out to a few games during the season as well. I spoke more with the elder Elmer and will post more on Steven later in the week.
5'7", 151 lbs.
Wiggins was another 2013 prospect who had an outstanding performance at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. Following the event he was notified that he had received an offer from Michigan. He also reports holding offers from Cincinnati and Ohio State. He told me that he was very surprised to see Michigan jump in the mix.
My coach in Atlanta always talks about Ohio and Michigan players are real ballers. So I wanted to come up north and show my southern skills. I wasn't trying to impress anybody, just go out there and play. I really wasn't expecting the offers at all. I never really heard anything from them so I guess when they watched me in the one on one drills they liked me.
An early offer is definitely a good indicator of how interested they are. Wiggins also talked about his process and who he grew up watching.
My dream school was Florida State, but after Cincinnati offered me I had a long conversation with their staff. They made me really comfortable. I like how FSU uses their cornerbacks, and I know that Michigan is known for great talent at corner. Guys like Charles Woodson, I can't remember some of the other names but they're good for cornerbacks. From how I feel now I'll probably wait until after my junior year or during my junior year. I think I'll make my decision pretty early so I get my recruitment over with.
Wiggins told me that he plans on making it back up to Michigan very soon. I have a feeling that Michigan has made a very good impression on him and he wants to explore that further. There's a good chance Michigan is one of his top schools.
Arizona OL Andrus Peat discussed his visit to Michigan. I think this trip helped Michigan tremendously with Peat. He didn't know much about the city or university so this gave him a good look at what they have to offer.
2012 Georgia WR Jason Croom recently received a Michigan offer. His mother happened to be in Michigan and stopped by campus this past weekend. Jason will make it back up to Ann Arbor in August.
Here's a list of some of the visitors expected in for camp this week.
2013 Ohio DB Cameron Burrows could be hearing from Michigan soon. He hails from Trotwood Madison which is the home of Roy Roundtree, Mike Shaw, and Brandon Moore. He is friends with Roy and talks to him on occasion. Keep an eye on his name.
I reported last week that Ohio DB Jarrod Wilson will be meeting with his coaches again on Monday [the 20th] to discuss what's next for him. He's very quiet so they aren't sure if he plans on making a decision or waiting things out.
Ohio QB Maty Mauk told me via text that his decision should come in the next few weeks. He's been keeping everything close to the vest so I'm not sure where he's leaning, or who he's deciding between.
Illinois OL Jordan Diamond stopped by Michigan before he made it over to the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. He also made it back over to Ann Arbor Sunday morning for one more trip.
Massachusetts OL Eric Olson told me that his decision will likely come before the 4th of July. I think Michigan has a good chance, but he keeps everything quiet so we'll see what happens.
Nike and ESPN are hosting an event called The Opening that takes place in Oregon on July 5th to the 9th. It is invitation only and you'll notice some familiar names on the list. Anthony Standifer told me that he will likely be going, as will Ron Thompson and Danny O'Brien.
Arizona offensive lineman Andrus Peat (6'7", 305 lbs) is one of the top prospects in the nation, a five star to most sites. Peat decided to take a trip up to Ann Arbor this weekend and I caught up with him to see how the visit went. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: What was the reason that you decided to visit Michigan?
ANDRUS: Right now I'm just trying to get out to all the schools that I'm seriously interested in. I've been to Florida State, USC, and Stanford. I just wanted to get out to Michigan because they have a great tradition for winning and getting linemen to the NFL. I'm also going to Notre Dame tomorrow and then going back home.
TOM: Once these visits are done are you going to try to narrow things down based off of what you saw?
ANDRUS: Yeah, I'm going to cut my list to probably around 5 to 8 after I get out to these schools. By the end of the summer I'll make that cut.
TOM: To get to this visit to Ann Arbor specifically, what did you do once you first got there?
ANDRUS: When I got there I got to meet with the coaches, we toured the campus, and then saw the facilities. It was good to see everything, I was really impressed by the campus and the college atmosphere. It was a lot better than I expected.
TOM: I'm assuming you got to meet with Coach Funk, what did you talk about with him?
ANDRUS: He was saying that there's a great opportunity for linemen because they only have like 8 on scholarship, I think. It's a great opportunity to play early and they said they really like me. I definitely want to give them a good look.
TOM: Do you think this visit helped you get more comfortable with the coaches? Since you live in Arizona did this help make a better connection with the coaches?
ANDRUS: I think it helped me a lot to get to know the coaches better. Coach Funk was at my school a couple times so I'm familiar with him. It was good for me to get on campus though and see everything.
TOM: You said you have been out to places like Florida State and USC, how did this visit compare to those?
ANDRUS: It's definitely way up there. It was the biggest stadium I've ever seen, and I had a really good feeling about it. The whole atmosphere, the college town which I like, and the area was good. Talking to all the coaches and seeing the opportunity to play there, it was really good.
TOM: I know Michigan fans are curious, now that Nebraska is in the Big Ten, your brother Todd signed with the Cornhusker in last year's class. Is that going affect on you at all?
ANDRUS: I'm going to give them a look, but just because he's there doesn't mean that's where I'll go. I want to find the right opportunity for me and take a look at all these schools.
TOM: Do you think this visit helped Michigan at all, and when do you plan on making your final decision?
ANDRUS: For sure, I was really impressed with everything. I could definitely see myself playing there. I don't know when I'll make my decision, just whenever I feel right. I will probably take official visits and then decide after my senior season.
Michigan's defensive backfield, 1879-2006 RIP – Upper left: Box Safety; Upper right: Free Safety; Upper middle: Dime; Lower left: Shortside CB; Lower Center: Nickel/Spur; Lower Right: Wideside CB.
"Every setback is a setup for bad cornerbacks."
---Anonymous, as amended after watching Michigan for a few years.
Since you all failed so miserably at convincing me not to do a follow-up for the defense, here is Part II of my Predicting the Past series, where we measure optimistic expectations during the summer against cold hard reality, which hates us. With defense it's going to be less useful – if Hoke and Mattison are as blitheringly incompetent defensively as their predecessors then there's no point to anything anymore – so I'll spare some of the detail.
Either way, we are foraying into the defense of 2007-2010, so this is going to get very ugly very quickly. Some of you in the comments thought that last week's tale of offensive destruction and redemption was depressing. Well if that's depressing, this is going to be more like the kind of torture that requires a large white room and lots of sharp-looking instruments. You will be stabbed, axed, shot, cut into a million tiny pieces, and those will be stomped on. Then we'll do the linebackers.
Let's just get the agonizing part over with.
Inevitable, no. But as of June 2007, we were well on our way.
- Cornerback: Morgan Trent (Jr/Sr), Johnny Sears (So/Jr), Donovan Warren (Fr/Fr), Doug Dutch (Jr/Sr), Troy Woolfolk (Fr/Fr), James Rogers (Fr/Fr), Anton Campbell (Sr/5th)
- Nickel: Brandon Harrison (Jr/Jr)
- Safety: Jamar Adams (Sr/Sr), Stevie Brown (So/So), Brandent Englemon (Sr/5th), Charles Stewart (Jr/Sr), Artis Chambers (Fr/Fr), Michael Williams (Fr/Fr)
Incoming: Boubacar Cissoko, Brandon Smith
Expected: I skipped NCAA 2007 and '08, mostly because I loved the cover of '06, so I don't know how they (over-) rated our DBs. I do very much remember trying to keep the rosters of my dynasty kind of accurate as the years progressed, but by '07 feeling really stupid when re-naming and re-sizing a 5-star recruit to Stevie Brown. Yes, Virginia, in June 2007 we knew we were in trouble. Not so much trouble that we freaked about losing Chris Richards to the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, but such that the need for talent and bodies at these positions was the main theme of MGoBlog recruiting boards in 2006 and 2007.
More after the jump
Tennessee offensive lineman Blake Bars [6'5", 275 lbs, 4 Star] is on his way up to Ann Arbor for his visit that will take place tomorrow [Saturday the 18th]. Bars' name hasn't been thrown around as much as some of the other prospects Michigan is after, but that doesn't mean he's wanted any less. Blake told me about his recruitment and what lead to a slow start in his process. Here's a look at his film then the answers.
TOM: The fans aren't as familiar with you as they are for some of the other prospects. It seems like your name has shot to the top very quickly though, is there any reason for that?
BLAKE: Yeah, we didn't get any of our game film until late in February. Our coach just didn't give them to us until after the season in fear that we would focus too much on recruiting and not the program. We got it in late February and put together a highlight film, sent them out the schools and got really positive feedback. That's why it took so long.
TOM: That makes sense. Since you got somewhat of a late start, at least compared to the rest of the crop, where are you at in the process? Do you have a top group yet?
BLAKE: My top schools are probably Penn State, Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU, and Michigan. There are some other schools I would maybe want to consider, but that's my top group right now. We're focusing on visiting the top schools right now, and we really wanted to visit Michigan. We're headed down there right now.
TOM: Ok, and to talk more specifically about Michigan how familiar are you with the program?
BLAKE: We lived in Trenton [Michigan] for around 12 years. I went to a Lloyd Carr camp in Wyandotte once, but I can't really tell you much more than that, I was pretty young. We did go up to Michigan last year and took a brief visit. We have relatives in Ann Arbor and we wanted to look around the stadium. We're excited to go back up and meet the coaches and go on a tour.
TOM: Does Michigan have any advantage with all this since you have family there and you've lived there before?
BLAKE: I think my Aunt who lives in Ann Arbor is a pretty good recruiter. She always says that if I come to Michigan she'll have special things for me. She'll bake me cookies and cook for me. I like the fact that my family is there, and my mom's uncle actually played for Michigan, but I'm not sure how much it will factor in.
TOM: What coach from Michigan are you mainly in contact with?
BLAKE: Coach Smith is recruiting our area. He came out to watch me practice and he said he was pretty impressed. The offer came after that. He's a great guy and I'm excited to meet him. When I talked to him on the phone we got to talk to Coach Hoke which was pretty cool.
TOM: With this visit what are you looking to get out of it? Are there any specific questions you want answered?
BLAKE: Right now I'm just keeping an open mind about each school. When we see it tomorrow I don't know that I have a specific questions other than just hearing what the coaches have to say. I want to find out about the academic side of everything. I think I'm looking for a school that's well balanced, good academics and good athletics as well.
TOM: You said you want to visit your top schools, so how do you think this whole process is going to play out for you?
BLAKE: I think I'm looking to get everything done sooner than later. I want to make a decision before our season starts. We have a really good team this year and we have a good shot at states. Getting that decision out of the way will help that. We have the top five right now and we'll try to get it down from there.