“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
Name: Mook Reynolds
Ht/Wt: 6’0" / 175 lbs.
Location: Northern Guilford - Greensboro, NC (2015)
Offers: Virginia Tech (COMMITTED), Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Duke, East Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee
Rating: ★★★★ .9024 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #263 NAT / #23 CB (247 Composite)
In the wake of the Shaun Crawford decommitment the Michigan staff identified Mook Reynolds as a potential replacement and offered him on June 11. Reynolds himself is currently committed to Virginia Tech, but has decided that he will look around just a little bit before finalizing where he'd like to play his college football.
Jamon "Mook" Reynolds was nicknamed by his mother as a baby and it has stuck with him his entire life. While his nickname might make you chuckle, his game and his confidence definitely will not.
"I think of 'Mook' as sort of an alter-ego on the field," he explained. "I am really physical, versatile, and will lay the wood to anybody. When people watch me play they will see me everywhere doing everything. I hate losing more than I like winning. I don't care what it's in, I live to win."
As a current Virginia Tech commit, Reynolds has been compared to former Hokie and recent first round draft pick, Kyle Fuller. At roughly the same size and with a similar skill set, the comparison seems appropriate.
The term "Virginia Tech commit" could be temporary as Reynolds has recently drawn attention from several big time schools, four of which he plans on checking out more closely.
"Michigan, Notre Dame, Georgia, and Tennessee are involved now," Reynolds said. "Those are my most recent offers but right now I'm still committed to Virginia Tech. I'm going to take my visits to those four schools and go from there."
Michigan recruiting buffs are well aware of the BBQ at The Big House. This year Reynolds will be in attendance on July 27th for the event, a plan that he set up through Coach Manning. Reynolds cited his relationship with the new cornerbacks coach as a reason why he's now so interested in the Wolverines.
"The relationship I have with Coach Manning is the only connection I have to Michigan," Reynolds said. "He's a really cool guy even outside of football. He's about his business and is really excited about coaching the corners. He loves Michigan football too and you can tell. He's cool."
Coach Manning isn't the only thing Reynolds likes about Michigan. He pointed out the program's rich history, legacy and tradition as other aspects that he appreciates.
Reynolds doesn't have any other visits scheduled at this point so it's impossible to say whether the BBQ visit will be a great first impression of the four programs or if it will have a lasting impression as one of his final visits. Either way, the fact that he has the Michigan visit in place before the others can't be a bad thing.
Even though his visits aren't all on the calendar yet, Reynolds knows what he's looking for and has a very level head when it comes to his approach to his recruitment.
"After I take my visits I'm really not sure how my recruitment will finish out. Only time will tell," he said. "If I do what's best for me, it shouldn't be a tough decision though. I'll just take my time with it. I know that I want to play early, I want to win, and I want to have a better opportunity to advance to the next level. I know those are lofty goals, but it keeps me focused."
5 – Trending Blue
4 – Solidly in a top 2-3
3 – Contender in a top 3-7
2 – Among large (8-15) group under consideration
1 – Let’s see if he visits before we talk
0 – Passing interest or none
Reynolds is currently committed to Virginia Tech but he didn't hide the fact that he'd like to look around. Right now it seems as if Michigan has as good a shot as any of the other four schools to impress and flip him. The BBQ visit will be big as usual for curious recruits and his relationship with Coach Manning also seems to be trending in the right direction. As the end of July approaches it will be interesting to see if he has scheduled or even engaged in any of the other potential visits. As he said, only time will tell.
Five-Star Planning Visit, Maybe Two?
2015 five-star CA CB Iman Marshall has mentioned Michigan as one of his planned official visit destinations. According to 247's Steve Lorenz, that's not the only visit to Ann Arbor in the works for the nation's #2 corner ($):
Yesterday, 247Sports National Analyst Ryan Bartow reported that Michigan is expected to receive an official visit from Long Beach (CA) Poly 2015 five-star cornerback Iman Marshall. Per his father, that will not be the only visit he will make to Ann Arbor as they are planning a late July visit.
"Yes, it's looking that way," the elder Marshall said. "It'll be a dead period between school and football after the Opening. That will be a perfect time for us to visit Ann Arbor."
Marshall is reportedly in frequent contact with freshman receiver Freddy Canteen; they worked out together during the offseason and struck up a friendship. It's obviously huge news that Marshall plans to pay his own way to visit campus next month.
In looking at Bartow's original report($) and a free Scout article on Marshall posted on Saturday, however, I'm a little skeptical the original planned official is set to go—when asked about which schools he plans to use officials on, he mentioned Florida State and Notre Dame, but not Michigan. That's not to say he doesn't plan on taking one, just that it isn't set in stone yet. Regardless, the planned July unofficial is a big deal.
The Latest On KLS
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South released a top 11 over the weekend; as expected, Michigan made the cut. KLS told Lorenz that he talks to Michigan "almost every day," and he's already hearing the U-M recruiting pitch from their latest 2015 commit ($):
"I hear from Alex (Malzone) and Darrin (Kirkland) almost every day," he said. "Chris Clark got in touch with me only a couple hours after he committed. I hear from Garrett Taylor quite a bit too. I know most of their guys will be at the Opening, so I'm looking forward to meeting them in a few weeks. We'll also all be taking our official visit the week of the Penn State game, so I'll get to spend some time with them then as well."
Clark wasn't kidding about wanting to get a jump start on recruiting before The Opening.
While KLS has called Michigan his "dream school" at times in his recruitment, UCLA is thought to be the team to beat, and after a recent trip to that other school in Los Angeles, another in-state threat looms, per Rivals' Adam Gorney ($):
"I'm starting to like SC a lot," Lucier-South said. "I'm feeling the vibe. It's kind of like the old SC when Pete Carroll was there.
"I think coach Sark is doing a really good job with the program and I especially like the d-line coach, coach Wilson. He's a great guy and he used to coach in Georgia and do big things so I really like SC right now."
While KLS told Lorenz that U-M "will be in it the entire way," it won't be easy to pull him from his home state.
Other 2015 Updates: Michigan, ND "Neck And Neck" For Bilal
Four-star IN LB Asmar Bilal entered his weekend unofficial to Michigan with Notre Dame at the top of his list. Per 247's Steve Wiltfong, he left with Notre Dame in the same position, but with new company ($):
The decision-making process just got more difficult for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Bilal, who would like to have his mind made up before the fall.
He says Michigan is neck and neck with the Irish moving forward.
“They’re both, I’m juggling with both right now,” Bilal said. “They both have a good academic program and good football program.
Bilal wants to make a decision before the fall, and he doesn't have any other visits scheduled right now, so this looks like a two-team battle, and U-M may have the momentum.
Michigan made a top group of six schools for four-star TX WR AD Miller, but they've got work to do to land an eventual commitment, per Rivals' Jason Howell ($):
"I'm favoring Miami, Arizona State, Cal, Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois, and I'm leaning towards those schools because they all give me an opportunity to play early, they all have great coaching staffs, and I get along with all the coaches, and I feel like all the academic standards are at a high level," Miller said. "They're good programs."
Three of those programs have begun to separate from the others.
"Yeah schools starting to take that lead are probably Miami, Illinois, and Cal," Miller said.
Yes, I also did a double-take at "Illinois".
Per TomVH, four-star Washington (DC) Gonzaga athlete Marcus Lewis, a Florida commit, plans to visit Michigan next month. He's listed in various places as a wideout, corner, and safety—I assume U-M would want him at corner to replace Shaun Crawford.
2016 Updates: Leads Don't Always Last
The last recruiting roundup contained the encouraging news that blue-chip 2016 OH OT Liam Eichenberg named Michigan as his leader after camping in Ann Arbor. That lead turned out to be short-lived:
2016 OT Liam Eichenberg just told ISD that after camping at #notredame yesterday, the Irish are his new leader. The reason? Harry Hiestand.
— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) June 22, 2014
Hiestand is ND's O-line coach, FWIW.
Per Steve Lorenz, Michigan is set to host a four-star receiver whose name I'm just gonna copy-and-paste, if you don't mind:
Suwanee (GA) North Gwinnett 2016 four-star wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe has set a visit date to see Michigan, he tells me.
"I am planning on visiting on the 24th of June right now," he said. "I will be visiting with my brother and mother."
Imatorbhebhe received an offer back in May.
247 updated their 2016 rankings. Tackle commit Erik Swenson moved up two spots to #231, while Messiah deWeaver climbed five spots to #238.
Happy trails to the nation's #1 overall 2016 recruit, TX OT Greg Little, who committed to Texas A&M.
6/22/2014 – USA 2, Portugal 2 – 1-0-1, Group G
I had an internship in Austin when I was in college, and fell in with some guys who played roller hockey in the parking lot. We were a motley crew; I was near but not quite at the bottom in terms of skill. This is always my critical point: I have to be obviously not the worst guy. I was at least fourth from the bottom here, which marks my personal athletic best.
We would take breaks because it was summer in Texas. During those breaks we would discuss how close we were to dying at that very moment, because we were engineers playing roller hockey in summer in Texas. But there was this guy. He had a ponytail and did not look like an engineer. He was not skilled either. When we took our breaks to pound water in our faces and discuss how narrowly we had avoided catastrophic death, this guy would be flying around the parking lot at top speed. He did nothing except take laps.
We looked at him like he was out of his mind. He kept skating. Endurance is rarely spectacular, but when it is, it really is.
Jermaine Jones probably doesn't know what hockey is, let alone the variety that comes on fake ice skates. He is nonetheless that guy, running and running and running even after he should fall over and expire. This has always been more or less true, but now that he's been well and truly released by the presence of Beckerman, he is something to marvel at. He's probably taking laps at halftime.
And then this gets into what it is to America. I read one of the pile of articles about how Klinsmann was or was not making American soccer more or less American and got irritated at various assertions but particularly this one…
"Largely due to an influx of continental players, the U.S. team has options now and is reaching beyond its previous identity, the way a toddler goes from a crawl to a walk. "
…because it just couldn't be more incorrect. The Influx Of Continental Players is basically Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones and the occasional substitute appearance, hardly unusual world-wide. Spain (Spain!) started a recently naturalized Brazilian striker. The US lost Giuseppe Rossi and Neven Subotic to Italy and Serbia, respectively. Meanwhile, the United States has long been on the lookout for anyone technically American, no matter how vague the connection. Having the son of a soldier stationed overseas on the team dates back to at least Earnie Stewart. The teams that won't poach a dubiously authentic Insert Nationality Here if given the opportunity start and end with Brazil.
But anyway I bristled at this assertion that the USA's surging fortunes were due to some unprecedented wave of educated foreigners to the point that I left a snotty comment, which was this:
There are all of two dual-nationals who are projected to start, and one of them is the most stereotypically American player in the 11: Jermaine Jones, a physical and endurance marvel who's about as creative as a brick.
And he is! You could not carve a more American defensive midfielder out of apple pie. He may as well be running around the field in a stovepipe hat, all industry and impossible running 80 minutes into a game played in a convection oven.
It's not often that you can see a guy playing sports and go "whoah" just because he's running in a straight line faster than the other guys around him. Those moments are usually reserved for the Denard Robinsons and Usain Bolts of the world. Even next to the indefatigable Bradley, though, Jones makes you marvel. When US shirts had descended into sheer, soaked clingfilm, Jones was still roaring around.
The US got their grip on the game, and this time it was Portugal dropping out exhausted as the US kept coming on. I said after the Ghana game that I had seen this before, and it does remain a real thing about this team: they will never stop coming.
Then friggin' Ronaldo had to go and do his Ronaldo thing—actually his un-Ronaldo thing—to spoil the party. If you had given me any odds that Ronaldo was going to doodle around and then fire in a shot from a bad angle that was still scary I would have taken it. Ronaldo doesn't cross. Are we rubbing off on people? I certainly hope not.
After it was over I collapsed on a stool, wrung out. I had not been there, but my legs, stomach, and assorted other vaguely aching bits would disagree with this assertion. Jones had fired in a piledriver of a goal that felt like it was coming as he and Bradley took turns calibrating their rifles in the first half; I had done a series of involuntary squats at chances squandered on both sides.
Thirty seconds from freedom; instead another lap. Okay. We have legs yet.
It happens. Stray into a comments section today and you'll get some dude screaming about how Bradley should be deported for overall suck, and I'm just like… no. Bradley managed to put a ball from two yards on to a defender's knee, sure. Here is The Best Player In The World afforded a chance from not quite the same range but not much further:
juuuuuust a bit outside
The number one rule of soccer is that it is hard and you mostly look dumb trying to do it.
The late turnover is also a thing that happens; Bradley had a poor first touch, then set up to wall off the Portugal player who was trying to get the ball off him. he found misfortune when that guy happened to be Eder, who is about 30 pounds heavier than anyone else on the field and made a play that was seemingly way out of his wheelhouse by deftly stripping the ball without fouling.
It still took three subsequent major errors and a perfect cross for anything to come of it.
If the above still had been the goal instead of the sad thing that transpired in the 95th minute people would be bitching about Dempsey and Beckerman, who conspired to turn it over and create a break. When you complain about something that happened after six more touches, none of which had anything to do with the initial turnover, you are just venting irrationally.
Bradley was much, much better in this game than against Ghana, opening up the Portugal defense with accurately placed balls down the wing and harrassing Moutino into a performance that lacked impact. A turnover well on the Portugal side of the field is just that: a turnover. Which happens.
The real question. What is even the point of Omar Gonzalez? Specifically brought in to deal with crosses late, Gonzalez ends up higher up the field than four other American players on the fatal break.
Gonzalez dead center, higher than Jones
If he is even with Besler in the center of a three-man back line he cuts that cross out well before it gets anywhere near Varela and everyone goes home happy. Instead he's somehow gotten dragged into the midfield. When Bradley loses the ball he is literally at the halfway stripe!
I don't get it. It makes sense to bring the guy in to clog up the box with about three minutes left. So why isn't he doing it?
Tactical shift, quicktime. The official lineup released by the US had Zusi on the left and Bedoya on the right, presumably because Bedoya's higher work rate and defensive ability would come in handy against Ronaldo. The fifth minute goal seemed to change that:
Bedoya left, Zusi right, after 5 minutes. Before that they were flipped.
After the US went down Zusi moved over to a spot where his right foot was better situated to have an impact. Note Zusi's tendency to stay tucked in so Fabian Johnson could bomb down the right, exploiting the space that Ronaldo refuses to track back on. For 94 minutes he was a liability.
Zusi then flipped back to the left when Yedlin came on, which is where the assist on Dempsey's goal came from, a sweetly hit short cross from his left foot.
Immense. Matt Besler just turned in one of the finest performances I've seen from a US center back in… ever? Possibly ever. Oguchi Onyewu has to get a mention here for battering out approximately a mole of crosses from Spain in the Confed Cup (oh man now I just thought about having Gooch in this game instead of Gonzalez and now sadness reins).
Other than that, Besler's high up there. Besler's positioning and instincts were impeccable here. The high point was probably the break he snuffed out at midfield just as everyone was getting their Ronaldo panic on. He was near flawless.
Immensely variable. Cameron, Besler's partner, had a major hand in shutting down Ronaldo all night. He also scuffed a clearance right to Nani for the opener and got beaten in the last minute. I don't know, man. Obviously both those things are very bad. But outside of those very bad things Cameron has been consistently good for the US, anywhere you put him. I think he'll put an admittedly game-wrecking performance behind him.
I mean, there's a poor clearance and there's a poor clearance that happens to be the absolute perfect ball to Nani. As with Bradley, I'm trying to chalk up Cameron's error on what it was instead of the result.
Are you five-foot-eight and fast as a guy with flaming pants? If so, stop playing basketball. Stop playing football unless you are Dennis Norfleet. You aren't making it big in either of those sports. Best-case scenario, the one in 300 million scenario, is that you are a role-playing freak show for a few years. It's not bad if you can get it, but you probably can't.
Soccer, though: DaMarcus Beasley is 5'8". DeAndre Yedlin is 5'8". All those terrifying buggers like Christian Atsu and various other Ghana midges are 5'8". Brazil brings on a 5'5" guy(!).If you can run all day and change directions quickly but tend to disintegrate on contact because you are a wee thing, get thee to the soccer field. For America.
The US wins the group with a win over Germany and finishes second with a tie. The prospect of a wink-wink draw with the Germans is there, as it would guarantee both teams advance and Germany would avoid (presumably) Belgium in the first knockout round. At the very least expect both teams to play defensively.
If the US loses things get into goal differential with the winner of the Ghana-Portugal game. Portugal would have to make up their 4-0 loss in the opener; Ghana just has to make up a one-goal loss. The US is out if they lose 1-0 and:
- Ghana wins by two goals, or
- Ghana wins by one in a goal blizzard (3-2 at least)
- Portugal wins by five
So root for Portugal in the other game. Barring unlikely outcomes, the US enters the final match with a two-and-a-half goal cushion on Ghana and a five-and-a-half goal cushion on Portugal.
That's still a pretty good situation.
The Germans are close to healthy. Right back Jerome Boateng was lifted at halftime of the Ghana game with a hip injury of some variety and may or may not be available. Thomas Muller took a nasty collision right at the end of the Ghana game but is not seriously damaged and should be fine for Thursday. Everyone else is good to go.
After a German walkover of Portugal, they struggled against Ghana. The 2-2 draw was closer to a Ghana win than vice-versa as the Germany D struggled to keep pace with Ghana on counters. Germany's outside backs were particularly poor at both ends, and not unexpectedly: both the starting right back, Benedikt Howedes, and Boateng's replacement, Shkodran Mustafi, are center backs at club level. Boateng is a bit more versatile but is still primarily a center back. (Germany's using Phillip Lahm as a holding midfielder for some reason—really makes you wonder if Germany would have both Jones and Johnson on their roster if they had not switched to the US.)
It's the offense bit that's worrying. Germany has about a half-dozen world-class attackers, and even though one's out with a pre-World Cup injury they've still got a pile of dudes more talented than anyone the USA's got.
Knowing they only need a draw, The US is likely to reprise their 4-2-3-1 from the Germany game in an attempt to keep possession for long stretches and remain compact at the back.
The rosters are here! The rosters are here! The big news is Blake Countess will be #2 cause…
(artist: Ted Watts)
That’s got to be a new legends number, right? Nobody got 11 or 21, FWIW.
The incoming freshmen were all bequeathed their digits as well. I give them here with a few notables to have worn the digit at that position in the past. I’ve chosen to include the freshmen who were here in spring; a list of just the fall arrivals is here, courtesy Wolverine Devotee. Burn these into your memory so that it will hurt more when they’re changed to Legends numbers in a few years.
|Ian Bunting||94||TE||6'7"||223||Matt Studenski was the last TE. Massey, Horn.|
|Juwann Bushell-Beatty||76||OL||6'5"||295||Steve Hutchinson, and Brandstatter|
|Freddy Canteen||17||WR||6'1"||170||Forgotten great end (1930s version of WR) Ted Petoskey. Personal fav Carl Tabb.|
|Mason Cole||52||OL||6'5"||275||Rod Payne. Schilling.|
|Michael Ferns||51||LB||6'3"||233||John Duerr and a Brackins. (Everitt on offense)|
|Noah Furbush||59||LB||6'4"||229||89-90 linebacker Alex Marshall. The Sarantos my friend dated.|
|Drake Harris||14||WR||6'4"||180||Closest I can think of to a receiver getting PT is Andy Mignery.|
|Lawrence Marshall||93||DE||6'4"||230||Hoban and Jackson in the '70s. I see 93 I think Sam Sword.|
|Bryan Mone||90||DT||6'4"||315||Norm Heuer was a DT. Feazell, Jamison, DeFelice.|
|Brady Pallante||54||DT||6'1"||255||Donnie Warner. Imagine if Rudy actually become a really good starter, and was real.|
|Jabrill Peppers||5||DB||6'1"||210||Jersey manufacturers, start your presses. Coleman Wallace is the best CB, competition is Whitley. Think Jabrill will keep it all 4 years?|
|Wilton Speight||19||QB||6'6"||230||The other Forcier. And Harry Newman's backup.|
|Jared Wangler||19||LB||6'2"||215||Early '70s "Wolf" safety Darrell Truitt|
|Brandon Watson||28||DB||5'11"||185||Early '90s hard-hitter Deon Johnson.|
|Maurice Ways||85||WR||6'3"||192||Curt Stephenson and Marcus Knight|
|Chase Winovich||58||LB||6'3"||216||Dave Brandon Endowed This Position With His Own Name Not Kidding Cornerbacks Coach Roy Manning. Also '80s OLB Keith Cowan|
Please only give this number to tiny safeties and huge running backs from now on forever kthx.
Heitzman Expansion Principle
This is the corollary to the Heininger Certainty Principle: a person, once removed from Hoke’s defensive line, will apparently grow 1 or more inches in height as his body adjusts to the difference in pressure. Heitzman is now listed 6’4”, one inch taller than he was in spring.
Didn’t spot any. Weights haven’t been updated yet.
Introducing The Kugler Scale™
slight mismatch here
After making a previous, short-lived commitment to North Carolina, newest Michigan commit Chris Clark wasn't taking any chances before making another pledge, checking out all of his top options before announcing yesterday he'll be a Wolverine. Clark ensured Brandon, in an interview posted here this morning, that this decision is final:
"When you look at recruiting, decommitting happens all the time. I'm not necessarily saying that it's the right thing to do, but when someone commits, later on sometimes it just doesn't feel right." Clark expressed. "I know because I've been there, but that's in the past for me. I'm very happy that it worked out like this and I ended up at Michigan. I'm sure people are going to be like, 'Well how is he not just going to do that again?' Well, I know now that I found the school that is right for me. I have now visited all of the schools that I'm interested in. There isn't another school out there that I'm interested in that I haven't seen. Michigan is the best school out of all of the schools that I really liked, that I was considering. Michigan's the spot, I'm not changing my mind. When I committed to UNC I hadn't visited Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. Now that I've seen them all, Michigan is the spot for me."
That nearly wasn't the case, according to Clark. The Spartans made a strong push on Clark's visit to East Lansing, just a day before he committed on his unofficial in Ann Arbor:
Honestly, if the visit didn't go how it went today, I was probably going to end up at Michigan State. Today just went so well. My mom and dad loved the coaches, as did I. I've known that for a while obviously, my relationship with them has been great for a long time, but today couldn't have went any better."
That's a solid 8/10 on the Kugler Scale™.*
Clark's commitment caught the attention of one of Michigan's top 2015 targets, five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who sent out a cryptic tweet when the news broke; he later elaborated to 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
One player who tweeted immediately regarding the commitment, and says it has an effect on his outlook with the Wolverines is five-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South.
"That's great for Michigan," he said. "Right now it definitely makes them more attractive to me. Michigan is a great school though; it is not a surprise that big time players want to play there."
Getting talented commits helps recruiting in and of itself; Clark's also on the record as saying he committed yesterday so he can get a head start on recruiting for Michigan before The Opening, saying he plans to get in touch with such prospects as Damien Harris, Miles Boykin, and Justin Hilliard.
[*Current U-M center Patrick Kugler, if you don't recall, visited East Lansing several times, looked poised to become a Spartan, took a trip to Ann Arbor, and committed to Michigan one day before another scheduled MSU visit. State fans, as you can imagine, didn't take too kindly to this.]
U-M Camp Makes Huge Impact On 2016 Recruits
Michigan's technique camp already paid off in the form of an offer to, and subsequent commitment from, four-star 2016 OH QB Messiah deWeaver. DeWeaver's commitment post focused almost entirely on his ability as a pocket passer, so I'll add this bit from Tim Sullivan's extensive scouting report ($):
DeWeaver is a true pocket passer, but he is slightly underrated as an athlete on account of it. While he'll never be a scrambler first, he does have the wheels to escape pressure and throw on the run (or even pick up a few yards on the ground if his team needs him to).
Meanwhile, after working closely with Darrell Funk and Brady Hoke during the camp, five-star 2016 Cleveland St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, whose recruitment is shaping up to be a battle of the Midwest powerhouses, told Lorenz he has a new leader ($):
"Michigan has the upper hand right now," he said. "They're a lot like St. Ignatius and I really liked working with the coaches yesterday at camp."
Notre Dame and Ohio State round out his top three. Encouragingly, Michigan's lead isn't a product of Eichenberg seeing them more than his other leaders; he camped at Ohio State last week for the second year in a row and took an unofficial to Notre Dame back in March, so he's had a chance to compare all three schools. Landing Eichenberg, who most experts peg as a future Buckeye, would be a coup.
Michigan also extended a couple new 2016 offers, including one to the son of the former boxing heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield, three-star GA RB Elijah Holyfield. The younger Holyfield gave his reaction to the offer to Tim Sullivan ($):
"Coach Hoke just told me that he looked over watching my film, and he looked at my film from camp," he said. "He said he really liked what I did, and that I could help out the program. Then he said that he wanted to offer me a scholarship.
"I was really excited. I told him thanks and everything like that. A Michigan offer is real big. It's always been one of the teams I grew up watching, and they have a long history that I know about. I'm really excited to have the chance to be a part of that."
While Holyfield isn't close to making a decision, Michigan has positioned themselves well to be in it until the end.
Speaking of famous names, Michigan offered a 6'6" prospect named... Michael Jordan. This MJ isn't a lanky shooting guard from North Carolina, however, but a 265-pound rising junior offensive lineman from nearby Plymouth High. Michigan is the first team to offer Jordan, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that it's too early to be thinking commitment ($):
With it being so early, making a commitment is not on his mind yet.
"Michigan has a very good program," he said, "but I have to decide that later. I haven't made any decisions yet."
If he eventually commits, that Hello post is going to be impossible to put together in a timely fashion.
ESPN 300 Updated
ESPN updated their top 300 prospects for the 2015 class, and the movement for Michigan commits was minimal:
- TE Chris Clark dropped from #104 to #108
- CB Garrett Taylor dropped from #106 to #110
- S Tyree Kinnel dropped from #182 to #188
- OT Grant Newsome dropped from #235 to #240
- MLB Darrin Kirkland moved up from #265 to #263
No change of more than six spots leaves little room for commentary.
In other news, 247's Ryan Bartow released a list of the 15 prospects who best fit the school to which they're committed, and Garrett Taylor came in at #10:
10. Garrett Taylor, CB, Michigan - High academics, storied tradition of producing big defensive backs, can play man and zone equally well. ... The fits don’t slow down for Taylor in Ann Arbor. He could develop into an All-Big Ten type of player for the Wolverines.
The list seems more focused on a school's reputation of putting players at certain positions into the NFL than anything else—playing man and zone concepts isn't exactly a signature scheme—so take it for what it's worth.
Weekend Visitors, 2015 Updates
Per Steve Lorenz, Michigan is hosting a few weekend visitors: commit Tyree Kinnel, 2015 four-star IN LB Asmar Bilal, and 2016 four-star DE Janarius Robinson. Kinnel should help the coaches try to close the gap between Michigan and Notre Dame, Bilal's (NTB) current leader, while Robinson will be seeing Ann Arbor for the first time.
Michigan's pursuit of five-star OH OLB Justin Hilliard looks like it'll be a fruitless one, unfortunately. Hilliard plans to make a decision within the next month or so, visited finalist Iowa—where his older brother will be a freshman in the fall—last weekend, and has final visits planned to Notre Dame and Ohio State, but he told Scout's Dave Berk that a Michigan unofficial is "possible but not planned" for now ($). Unless he finds his way to campus one more time, I highly doubt he commits to Michigan.
A visit to Tennesse allowed the Vols to replace Florida State in his top five, but four-star 2015 MD OL Pat Allen kept Michigan in his top group, per Rivals' Adam Friedman ($):
"My top five right now is Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee," said Allen. "I wouldn't say Georgia is the leader but they're really high. Ohio State and Georgia are tied for the lead. Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee are third, fourth and fifth. I really think my decision is going to be based off my visits. There are still some schools I want to see like Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan. Michigan might be my next visit."
That makes it sound like U-M has a decent shot to move up if they can get Allen on campus.
Talking to GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz, four-star Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson denied rumors that Michigan State is his leader ($):
Some rumors circulating indicating Thompson could have a leader in the form of the Michigan State Spartans, the Detroit product denied a leader of any kind, unsure of where these reports are coming from.
“I don’t know,” Thompson said. “I really don’t know what to say because I’ve heard so much.
“Somebody told me that there’s a rumor going around that I’m committed to Michigan State so, I don’t know what to say.”
He added that he plans to wait until after his senior season to fully focus on his recruitment, so Michigan has a lot of time to make their pitch to the in-state legacy recruit.
I Guess I Have To Acknowledge This Is Happening
— Anthony Hines III (@2017D1Prospect) June 18, 2014
In case you didn't gather this from his username, newly offered Anthony Hines is a class of 2017 prospect. Hines, an outside linebacker from Texas powerhouse Plano East, is currently a (very) early Mississippi State commit who, as you also may have deduced from the tweet, already holds 42 offers.
Michigan's camp produced another 2017 offer, as Tim Sullivan reported this morning that GA DB Jaymest Williams, a camp standout with early offers from Clemson and Georgia Tech, got the call from the coaches this morning ($).
The Wolverines have now sent out six offers to rising sophomores, including Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, younger brother of current U-M LB James Ross.
Happy trails to OH SDE Dre'Mont Jones, who surprised nobody by committing to Ohio State on Wednesday.
SBNation's Bud Elliott lists Michigan as the top school that needs to start winning more on the field if they'd like continued success on the recruiting trail, which... yeah.
|WHAT||USA vs Portugal|
|WHERE||Arena da Amazonia
|WHEN||5 PM Eastern
Via AO Augusta.
It's (probably) simple for the US: draw and don't get blown out by Germany and you're through. The best way to draw is to win, because then even if you don't win you still draw.
Now, about doing that…
THE THEM: RONALDO AND THE OTHER GUYS
Portugal fell apart like a Michigan running play against Germany, falling behind early, taking a straight red when Pepe lost his mind, and then slowly bleeding goals the rest of the 90. It was an hour and a half of a 3-yard TFL.
This means that Portugal will be desperate to go up early. They will attack like mad; the US has to weather that storm. The good news is that if the US gets a lead it seems likely that Portugal will deflate. They're a bit fragile, the Portugals.
From time immemorial Portugal has relied on a 4-3-3 in which the striker is more of a facilitator to Ronaldo than an elite threat himself; this means that forward surges from the USA fullbacks will seem promising until such time as the US doesn't have the ball, whereupon you'll be screaming GET BACK GET BACK at the teevee. With Portugal going balls to the wall for three points, a withering back and forth akin to the Turkey game beckons, albeit hopefully one with fewer free goals handed out.
GOALIE: If Rui Patricio, the designated starter is out, there will be another goalie who is probably slightly worse. But he's still a goalie.
yeah but "Beat It" was a hit
DEFENSE: Shot through the heart and various things are to blame. Pepe, the first-choice centerback who's real fast, took a red card and is out. Fabio Coentrao strained a groin and is out. Bruno Alves has some sort of hamstring issue and is "doubtful" for Sunday.
As a result, this looks rather appealing from a US perspective. Pepe's likely replacement is 33-year-old Diego Costa. If Alves plays this makes the Portugal CB pairing 1) old, 2) slow, and 3) forced to endure the punishing heat and humidity of the Amazon. They're good, of course. This is not an ideal situation for them. If Alves does not play, his replacement is Luis Neto, who plays in Russia and has nine caps to his name.
On the outside, Andre Almeida (not that Andre Almeida) is likely to replace Coentrao. A converted midfielder unsure about his positioning, he doesn't get forward that much… or at least hasn't in the last few games. That's a major downgrade from Coentrao.
Joao Pereira is the right back; he's the guy who dragged down the German dude to open the scoring in that route. He is a fixture at Valencia, and is more of a tough-tackling guy who won't do much surging forward.
MIDFIELD: Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles are highly likely. Meireles is the biker Viking you may have seen extending his index fingers at the referee on twitter:
some people saw middle fingers and went omg
His main asset is running around tirelessly and annoying people, like Jones. Zonal Marking notes that he "does everything reasonably well without excelling in any one category."
Moutinho is the primary link between attack and defense:
Ronaldo was the obvious star of Portugal's 3-2 victory over Sweden in the second leg of the playoff, but Moutinho's role was vital. It was his perfect through ball that laid on the first (although it would be wrong to give him too much credit for his positioning, given he was only there because he'd been writhing in supposed agony trying to get the game stopped). Still, having received the ball, his awareness and the weight of pass were exemplary.
In what often seems a broken team with six defensive players and three forwards, Moutinho's capacity to link the two parts of the side, both with his running and his passing ability, is critical. Efficient rather than flashy, he is the central intelligence that binds Portugal together.
That is even more true now with Coentrao out; the US should focus on applying pressure to him as quickly as possible, allowing anyone but Moutinho the time and space to try an incisive ball.
Those guys are the higher-placed of the three midfielders; the defensive midfielder could be Miguel Veloso, who played against Germany, or the 22-year-old riser William Carvalho. Veloso got pulled out of position constantly in the first gmae, but the Portugal coach tends to ride or die with the same set of guys. Would he ride or die after a 4-0 defeat? I don't know. The soccer internets seem to think Carvalho is a much better idea, as he is clever on the ball and has attacking upside. Portugal needs that in a game they must win.
FORWARD: I'll list the three main attackers here even though Nani's more of a winger, as Portugal has steadfastly stuck to a 4-3-3 in which the front three don't put a ton of work in on defense.
don't let this happen much please
Ronaldo is Ronaldo. He will hang out on the left wing and try to cut in; he'll shoot from all angles; he will flip from time to time with Nani to see if he can annihilate the other side of the US lineup a bit easier. Ronaldo's been dealing with tendinitis and hasn't been able to practice much, often limping off the field after 15 or 20 minutes with an ice pack on his leg. His fitness is in question; he'll be considerably more dangerous early. Oh, and he's lethal on free kicks.
Nani is Nani, except when he's not, which is a lot of the time. You could be forgiven if you thought his full name was The Mercurial Nani. He's a much more traditional winger than Ronaldo; he'll try to get in dangerous crosses most of the time, with occasional forays inside. Beasley should get to be more aggressive because Nani's crosses are more dangerous than the left-footed Atsu, and if Portugal goes with the guy they probably will they'll have much more dangerous targets in the box. He is capable of moments of magic.
With Hugo Almeida out, Portugal has generally turned to the strapping, Altidorean Eder as their center forward. He's a hold-up guy and aerial threat, very physical. The aging, wily Helder Postiga is another option, but in the heat one dollar says the 26 year old coming on gets the nod over the 31-year old who's struggled to see the field for his club of late.
Eder's a pretty good matchup for the US, as they've always been an outfit that deals with crosses well, and that's' where Eder is at his best.
The early goal and Altidore injury saw the US drop back into a 4-4-2 most of the night against Ghana instead of the diamond. A lot of that was just the USA's inability to keep possession. In a game that figures to feature the USA with more of the ball, I would expect something more diamond-y, but also more aggressive on the wings on offense as the US tries to pull Portugal out of shape. More about that in a bit.
DEFENSE: Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson.
No reason to change with the center backs turning in terrific performances, Cameron especially, and the backup options on the outside seeming scary. Chandler in particular has seemed to wilt when the temperature gets turned up. Though Beasley is much older he's used to he conditions as he plays in Mexico. He also weighs about 90 pounds and has never, ever seemed tired.
Alternatives include Brooks if Besler is not ready to go and a potential shakeup at one of the outside back spots. I think changes would be silly. They either involve exposing an untested player to Ronaldo or playing said player on the left, where they are uncomfortable.
MIDFIELD: Beckerman, Jones, Bedoya, Bradley
Bradley needs to be Bradley
Jones and Bradley are obvious; Beckerman is almost certainly going to be included as well, as the US can count on him to be in annoying positions when Ronaldo attempts to cut inside.
The fourth midfielder could be either Bedoya or Zusi. I think Bedoya will be preferred because he's more active defensively and has the pace to zip past Dempsey as he drops into the midfield, about which more later. Zusi would not be a huge surprise, as he quickly showed his quality once inserted with that corner. Zusi has a knack for long, defense-splitting passes that should be available. I expect both to play.
This might look more like a 4-2-3-1 as the US should be pressuring whoever Portugal's defensive mid is, especially if it is Carvalho. Meanwhile, expect Beckerman to shade towards Ronaldo's side with Jones providing more cover and less upfield surging than he has in the last couple games.
FORWARD: Johannsson, Dempsey
The "false nine" thing is popular because it drags center backs around. If Dempsey drops off the defensive line to collect the ball, Portugal is faced with a decision: give the USA's most creative player time and space or try to shut him down by running one of their CBs at him. Germany exploited this even when Pepe was available; without Pepe around it seems like the best way for the US to proceed is to have Dempsey drop back and flank him with two guys who can run past him when someone steps out to meet him.
Then you get things like this:
The biggest spot to attack Portugal is undoubtedly their left rear channel. This is the area of the field that is typically defended by Bruno Alves, Fabio Coentrão … and Miguel Veloso.
It’s the flaw of Bento’s system because Ronaldo tends to stay high and Moutinho tend to get pulled out to cover that space. This reverberates down the defense.
Germany incessantly attacked this area on Monday. (Has it been mentioned what a masterclass Jogi Low put on?). Thomas Muller’s haul-down came from there. The second goal (above) came from there and there was another quality chance knocked over the bar just by Götze.
Germany deployed this to good effect.
Low’s decision to play a 4-3-3 with a false 9 was incredibly insightful. While Pepe is fast, Alves is not, and Götze’s constant movement towards the midfield pulled Alves into a position that he could not recover from.
With Alves hurting, all the more reason to force Portugal players to step out into the midfield.
The wild guess here is that Dempsey is a striker who drops back and Johannsson comes in to dart past him; Johannson will also be the target of those long diagonal balls on which he should be able to outpace the center backs as Portugal's outside backs get forward. He's not a target forward but against a depleted Portugal back four he can have a similar effect as an outlet valve.
The other runner should rotate depending on the situation: Bradley, Bedoya/Zusi, and Johnson will all be candidates.
SUBS: Expect Wondolowski if the US needs a goal, and probably even if they don't. The combination of slowish, exhausted center backs and Wondo's evil, constant movement makes him a very attractive option. It's probably going to be a prematch plan for Johannsson to give his all for 60 minutes and then exit.
Whoever of Bedoya or Zusi does not start will probably replace the other as the US keeps its right flank fresh against Ronaldo.
The third sub would be context dependent: if the US needs a goal they would probably lift Beckerman for Diskerud. If they're in the lead they might not use it at all; if they do the introduction of Yedlin or Chandler would probably be the move.
KEYS OTHER THAN SCORING MORE GOALPOINTS
winger stops tracking Johnson, and that happened
Get Fabian involved on offense. But Ronaldo? The thing is: Ronaldo don't do D, so you can find a lot of room behind him and pull Portugal out of shape. That requires covering, and the US can do that reasonably well by sliding Cameron over—EPL rightback, remember—and keeping Beckerman shaded to the right. That also means Beasley has to stay back, but that's okay.
It's not ideal for Johnson to get caught upfield. The risks are worth it. Johnson is one of the USA's most dynamic offensive players no matter where he is. This is an opportunity for him to find a bunch of room, as he tends to cut into the very right-hand channel that Germany exposed so ruthlessly.
The US can cover for him. If you squint, it actually looks like this was the plan from day one: Johnson isn't terrific defensively; Cameron is the most mobile central defender the US has. As long as the US is cognizant of Johnson's surges they will be fine.
Wear out the center backs. Long diagonal passes into the channels will pull those guys into uncomfortable positions and wear them down. The US can get its pressure relief from Johannsson thanks to the setup here. Then they can bring in a poacher in an ideal situation.
Keep possession. The US was pretty dire at this after Altidore went out, and large parts of the problem were due to nothing other than US players making crappy passes. A repeat of that is an alarming possibility. It should be easier against a team that won't be inclined to press.
Avoid issuing dangerous free-kicks. They are extremely, extremely dangerous against Portugal. Ronaldo is crazy good at shooting from them, and Alves (if he plays) is a major danger on crosses from them. Easier said than done with the king of stepovers, I know.
TIE THE GAME. #tiethegame
SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES