landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
The 2011 Recruiting Board lives here.
Assume The Position: Tight End
It's been an eventful week for Michigan tight end recruiting with a couple recruits going off the board and a couple new offers going out. It's unclear how important a tight end will be to this recruiting class, but it seems like the coaching staff wants one.
FL TE Jeff Heuerman received a Michigan offer last week on an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, and he came away impressed with the school and Rich Rodriguez ($, info in header). Though he's a Michigan legacy (his father, Paul, played basketball for Michigan in the 80s), he committed to Ohio State on a visit to their campus shortly after.
MA TE Brian Miller also comes off the board, as he committed to Boston College.
The only remaining prospect who already had a Michigan offer and had shown serious interest in the Wolverines is OH TE Ray Hamilton (pictured at right), a junior day visitor that we haven't heard from in a while. With Heuerman and Miller off the board, he might be the #1 choice at the position.
According to recruiting guru Jim Stefani, NJ TE/DE Taques Franklin has received a Michigan offer. Rutgers also offered, and Jim notes that he is a 6-5, 220lb high school running back, which I didn't believe until I checked it out. That's a serious load to tackle.
Michigan has offered NJ QB/Ath Tanner McEvoy ($, info in header). He's a 6-5 white guy with a 4.7-second 40-yard dash time: not exactly your prototypical Rich Rodriguez quarterback. Rivals lists him as an athlete, so it's possible they could be looking at him for another position. The measurables say "Tight End" to me, so I stuck him in this section.
Other New Offers
He's been on the radar for a long time, and Michigan has finally offered WI RB Melvin Gordon.
The trio of schools join Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Washington State, Indiana, Michigan State and Cincinnati in extending scholarship offers to the 6-foot-2, 180-pounder...
Gordon is either a four- or five-star prospect (out of five stars) on most recruiting Web sites.
I hadn't realized he was that highly-regarded, and, uh, neither have the recruiting sites. Scout currently has him at three stars (#67 RB in the country), and the other two sites have him off their respective watchlists.
OH WR AJ Jordan, from the school that produced Roundtree, Shaw, and Moore, has a Michigan offer headed his way, according to Tom. He's a good-sized speedster, with a 14.3-second time in the 110m hurdles this track season. He's also expressed strong interest in a Michigan offer. Here's his highlight video:
Unfortunately, this new offer might have something to do with the fact that MI WR DeAnthony Arnett is now favoring Michigan State. It will be interesting to see how recruiting at the position plays out, since Arnett seems to be the #1 target (and still interested in Michigan, as long as they get the ball to the wideouts and win).
Also receiving an offer was FL DE Aaron Lynch. Lynch has offers from the likes of Alabama and Ohio State, according to Rivals, so he's probably a bigtime prospect.
Visits Past, Visits Future
A couple more wraps from the Spring Game visit weekend a little while back. First up, Sam Webb talks to FL WR Sammy Watkins (pictured at right) and FL Ath/CB Dallas Crawford in the Detroit News. Both seemed to enjoy the visit:
"They definitely moved up," said Crawford, the No. 29 cornerback in the country according to Scout.com. "When it comes to academics, there is none better than Michigan. They did not sell me a dream. They just said if you want to play, you have to come in and work. That's all I'm asking for is a chance. It was way better than I expected. I expected it to be a little plain up north, but it was pretty fun."
"I like (Michigan) a lot," added Watkins, Scout.com's No. 3 wideout. "I knew two or three (Michigan players) that we kicked it with at the dorms. They were pretty cool. And the team looked pretty good (during the spring game). They impressed me. The offensive lineman blocked well and they had all day to throw. They're young still, so it looks pretty good out there. "
Both are top prospects, with a great deal of success on the high school level:
Crawford was the Broxson Award winner as the Daily News' Player of the Year last year, and Watkins was the Offensive Player of the Year.
Watkins is higher rated prospect than Crawford, but both have a number of top offers. They are considering a return visit to Ann Arbor this fall. They are interested (but not committed) to attending the same school.
PA DE Deion Barnes, who was offered at the Spring Game, talked to Michigan Sports Zone about the visit.
He may not have a clear leader but there are some variables that are playing into Michigan’s favor, “The tradition, the support they give and all the past players who have gone into the draft and have been successful” are all some factors that are helping Michigan’s case according to Barnes.
Barnes will take his time with recruiting, and is more worried right now about improving his own game. If Michigan's season goes well, the Wolverines will have a good chance with him.
The next big visit weekend doesn't come until the BBQ at the Big House in May. We'll build up a more complete list as the date approaches, but there are a few tentative confirmations.
Of course, FL RB Demetrius Hart will return to Michigan for the event. Those who have been playing close attention know that there's a chance he'll commit at that time.
NC LB/WR Kris Frost, who wanted to go to the Spring Game but couldn't get plane tickets, will try to make up for missing that visit by attending the BBQ at the Big House.
The recent Nike Football Training Camp hosted a number of the South's best prospects last weekend, including brief reports on some fringe Michigan targets, like including FL CB Nick Waisome, FL S Wayne Lyons, and others. More prominent Michigan targets are also included, starting with a not-so-positive report on FL WR Ja'Juan Story:
Ja'Juan Story (Brooksville, Fla./Nature Coast Tech) may have built up the most hype out of any receiver in attendance, but he was inconsistent in his play and reps. During drills it was hard not to come away impressed with his long frame and great speed. He displayed his impressive wingspan and great hands, including making some nice grabs away from his frame. However, he was not the jump-ball mismatch we were expecting to see during one-on-ones and looked a bit rigid out of his breaks at times.
That hasn't stopped Story from earning and accepting an offer to the Under Armour All-American Game. And now for a more-glowing report on FL QB Kevin Sousa (pictured at right):
Kevin Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) also stood out in what was an impressive group of QBs at the camp. His underneath passes had good zip and the ball really came off his hand with some good RPMs at times. He fit several passes into tight spots and had nice rotation on his intermediate-to-deep throws. Sousa has raw arm strength and his mechanics can be shaky at times, but we like his upside when projecting for the college level.
Sousa also comes in for some fluff from the Orlando Sentinel.
Sousa found out Tuesday that he has been selected as one of the Top 100 QBs who are invited to take part in the Dreammaker Tour Finale, slated for Memorial Day weekend at Santa Barbara, Calif. The Top 7 QBs from this event will be selected to move on to the Super 7 Steve Clarkson retreat in Hawaii on the island of Maui.
Dream big, kid. For all we hear about his football prowess, there's precious little said about his recruiting. He plans to attend a Junior Day at Ohio State this week, and recently visited Florida.
Tom published an excellent diary on offensive line recruiting yesterday. I'll break it down in a bit more detail in the next Wednesday Recruitin', but for now, a couple notes on the position:
Though Ohio State already has commitments from four offensive linemen, they still want at least one more, and are considered the leader for OH OL Aundrey Walker. Though Walker attends known OSU pipeline Cleveland Glenville, he attended a Junior Day at Michigan earlier this year, and is teammates with OH QB Cardale Jones, who the Buckeyes aren't showing any love.
LA OL Trai Turner is open to playing either offensive line or defensive tackle. Michigan has needs at both, so that should help with his recruitment. He also wants to make an early decision sometime this summer ($, info in header). Though he's spoken positively about Michigan in the past (the Wolverines were among his first offers), getting him on campus for a camp or visit is important. His offer list keeps expanding ($, info in header), so there's also a chance he delays a choice.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi, who holds a Michigan offer, "likes the South," which could be a bad sign for Michigan's chances to land him. Texas A&M is his latest offer.
Tom reports that Troy Polamalu's cousin, PA S Maika Polamalu, is interested in Michigan, and will camp this summer. FL OL Max Lang wants to stay close to home ($, info in header), not a good sign for Michigan. UMGoBlog's Jon Jennings looks at Michigan's Florida recruiting for the 2011 class.
So I was painstakingly replacing all the <span> tags in Tom's latest diary and I thought to myself "self, surely there must be a better way to do this." Last time I checked, there wasn't. But some googling and pleasant surprise later, there is a better way. I've replaced the existing editor (YUI, if you care) with the latest version of CKEditor.
The killer app: take your nastiest Word document and c&p it into a diary post. You will note a distinct lack of weird fonts and start fragment/end fragment pairs. Ding dong. Ding dong indeed.
Other new stuff:
- Spellchecking as you go.
- Search and replace.
- A "maximize" mode.
There will be bugs and annoyances. The primary one I can see right now: embedding video has to be done in the plain text editor. I can shut the thing off for comments if people think that's the best idea. Let me know if you hate certain things and I'll set about considering them.
UPDATE: Ha-ha! Not really. It looks like it pastes beautifully, but that's just a tease. It loses your comment entirely. Sigh. That's a problem outside of the scope of the site; I am attempting to get it fixed.
High school All-Star games have started up once again, with Round Two consisting primarily of in-state or state-v-state contests. The Ohio North-South High School All-Star Game took place on Friday, with five future Wolverines participating.
The South team (featuring Jibreel Black and the Talbott brothers) defeated the North (featuring Courtney Avery, Antonio Kinard, and Jake Ryan) by a score of 23-20 in Ohio Stadium on the campus of Ohio State.
From a Michigan perspective, DL Jibreel Black (at right, file photo) was the top performer. He was named the defensive MVP for the winning squad, and made big plays when it mattered most:
Wyoming's Jibreel Black had two sacks to stop a North drive in the fourth quarter and help the South to a 23-20 victory in the Ohio North-South Classic Friday night at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Black was named the South's defensive MVP.
The entire defensive line for his team performed exceptionally, despite giving up mass along the front lines:
Every bit as deserving of the honor were the South's quick and nasty defensive linemen, who worked over the North's huge counterparts in dictating the tone of the game. North quarterbacks were on the run all night, resulting in turnovers and impossible third-and-long situations.
"From watching practices I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to handle them up front," South coach Mark Crabtree of Dublin Coffman said. "Our guys on the D-line are not gigantic, but they're powerful and explosive and play with a mean streak. We were really hard to block, and we gave our offense some pretty good opportunities."
The honor is double for Black then, who managed to be the best player on a defensive line that was so disruptive. That article incorrectly credits his two 4th-quarter sacks to Indiana commit Harrison Scott. The O-Zone offers high praise for Black:
Defensive lineman Jibreel Black (Cincinnati Wyoming) won the Defensive MVP with at least three sacks and as many pressures.
“It feels good,” Black said. “I’ve been working hard in the offseason to get ready, and it just paid off today. I tried to come out in the second half and make some plays for my team and get the win.”
The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”
Comparing him to Brandon Graham = yes plz. If he has the same work ethic as #55, he could be a special player in Ann Arbor. Una vez mas:
Jibreel Black is good. Pretty darn good. Unfortunately he’ll be suiting up for the Maize and Blue this fall. He had 2 key sacks on the last drive against the North and was the South’s Defensive MVP.
Black wasn't the only future Wolverine to show his stuff, however. In fact, despite all of Michigan's commits in the game playing on the defensive side of the ball, one of them managed to make it into the endzone:
He made the score 23-12 before North linebacker Antonio Kinard had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:36 left in the game.
No other Wolverine commits are mentioned in the articles recapping the game, but an MGoPoster did take in the action and reports back:
Courtney Avery- Played CB. Didn't start. Good in pass coverage, needs to work on some tackling.
Jake Ryan- Played ILB. Good hitter. Big kid. Did not look comfortable in pass coverage. Did not drop into his zones well. Was just staring into the backfield
Antonio Kinard- Played OLB (similar to Roh last year). 2 pt stance on the LOS. Listed as 220 lbs, looks skinny though. Played with good discipline and had an INT return for a TD when the QB was hit as he was throwing, the ball went right to him and he showed good athleticism to catch it and take it back 40 yards for a TD.
Terrence Talbott- Played CB. Did well in coverage. Looked like he made a couple breakups.
Jibreel Black- The South D played a 3 man front. He started at LDE. In the 2nd half he moved to NT and then RDE. He made a huge stop on Erick Howard on a 4th and 1 when he slanted inside the RT and hit Howard in the backfield. He had 3 1/2 sacks in the 2nd half...and probably 3 more QB pressures. As a NT, he ate up Jeff Myers (2 star recruit going to Toledo). It wasn't even fair. He will remind people of BG when you look at him. Has a great first step and a great motor getting after the passer. Had some trouble at the point of attack when the ball was run right at him.
The South MVP was Ohio State QB commit Verlon Reed... who completed as many passes to the opposing team as he did to his own team (one, for ten yards). He did run for a 37-yard touchdown, however. One source says he wasn't the MVP, but that's probably wrong.
The North team MVPs were Wisconsin WR commit Chase Hammond and WVU LB commit Jewone Snow. Eleven Warriors was there, and has a more Buckeye-centric recap of the game.
The Big 33 Ohio-Pennsylvania Classic takes place June 19th in Hershey, PA. Michigan has no players on the Pennsylvania roster (CB Cullen Christian dropped out of the game), but both Talbott brothers and Jibreel Black are listed on the Ohio roster.
On the same day, the Michigan East-West All-Star game takes place in East Lansing. No future Wolverines on scholarship are participating (all of them have already enrolled in Ann Arbor), but walkon WR Baquer Sayed will take part. There may be another walk-on or two on the rosters that we don't know about yet.
This weekend's critical series against Big Ten co-leaders Ohio State has a side story that deserves just as much attention as a battle for the Big Ten title. Michigan's greatest shortstop, Barry Larkin, will have his number 16 jersey retired on Saturday afternoon.
Barry was born in Cincinnati in 1964, a city that he would forever be tied to. He grew up and attended Moeller High School, a great school in Ohio sport history. It produeced not just Larkin, but Ken Griffey, Jr., and someone many Michigan fans hold dear: Gerry Faust. At Moeller, Larkin set the school record for batting average for a career at .482, hitting 12 triples and 11 homers, stealing 26 bases.
He would win the team MVP as a senior in 1982 and was drafted in the 2nd round by the hometown Cincinnati Reds. Larkin chose not to sign with the Reds however, and instead enrolled at the University of Michigan to play football. Yes, football. Following the 1982 season, he informed then coach Bo Schembechler that he would also be trying out for the baseball team. That was the last time Larkin would be part of the football team, as he became a regular immediately on the baseball squad.
On the diamond, Larkin made an immediate impact. The 1983 season would see Larkin named the Big Ten Tournament player of the year and make Baseball America's Freshman First Team. That season was also a College World Series for the Wolverines. In game one against Maine, Larkin had two doubles in a 6-5 win. Michigan would ultimately be eliminated by Texas in the semi-final. Michigan's final record was 50-9, the highest winning percentage by any Wolverine team ever.
That wasn't Larkin's last trip to Omaha. [Ed: continued after the jump.]
Rivals threw a picture of Stephen Hopkins on their front page a few days ago that the Big House Blog picked up on. In it, Stephen Hopkins looks alarmed:
What could be so terrifying to a 6'0" 230 moose of a tailback? Only one thing.
I present Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins. LSUfreek remains a genius.
When you do a Google image search for "sixteen" you get two types of results: the literally porny and the metaphorically porny. We're going with metaphorically. This is a wikipedia commons image used in the articles on "sausage" and "gluten-free diet."
So… yeah. As mentioned in Friday's UV, the big expansion news was exactly nothing and we can all resume our lives without feverishly plotting complicated ways to make a 16 teams have a meaningful championship with only 8-10 games at their disposal. Unfortunately for many, many people this comes too late.
First: Brian Fremeau points out that current NCAA bylaws demand you have at least twelve teams to stage a championship game. They also require that there are two divisions in which everyone plays each other and that the champions of those divisions play in the game. If we're blowing the world up here you can probably get this to change, but that's a hurdle for the more elaborate proposals.
Many people complained that anything other than something boring and unbalanced would never happen. Skepticism noted. Now please return to your crabholes and have crabfights with the crabwife. You are crabby.
(@ Right: the funniest thing that has ever been put on paper. Do you see what T. McCracken did there? I do. I do so hard.)
As The Only Colors puts it:
With 16 teams, I think you have to go with something like this--basically playing a multi-round playoff, but hiding the first couple rounds in the regular season. But I also hate to lose the familiarity of playing major rivals every year and being guaranteed to play everyone in the conference at least once every few years.
A lot of people suggested organizing the Big Ten into pods of four. Instead of two static eight-team divisions there are four four-team pods. Each year a pod is paired with a different pod, so instead of playing seven teams every year and eight teams very infrequently you play three teams every year and twelve once every three years. This is similar to what the WAC did when it was a 16-team monstrosity.
So keep the pods in the back of your mind as you ponder…
I came to the conclusion that the most feasible way to have a meaningful conference schedule was to play all your divisional games first and then have dynamically allocated crossover games against teams about as good as you. This appears to be a common solution, but most other people used the leftover games to stage an in-season playoff.
TOC's proposal is similar to the Totally Bats Proposal with the following exceptions:
- Four team rotating pods.
- There's one bonus game where the #1 in division 1 plays the #2 in division 2 and vice versa, followed by a championship game.
Feasibility: Leaving aside TOC's ludicrous divisions, which cleave Michigan from Ohio State and Wisconsin from their triangle of hate with Minnesota and Iowa? About as good as BTWC. Maybe better since there only 8 conference games still, but if the BIg Ten really goes to 16 they almost have to add a ninth conference game; at that point I'd be in favor of a tenth, bowl eligibility be damned.
Efficacy: I like mine better because it's a better intersection of the top teams.
Fun factor: Not crazy enough for me.
In-season Semifinals With Pod Divisions
Maize 'n' Brew proposes four team-pods like TOC. Conference schedules are a round robin in your pod and five games against other opponents that are "selected by committee." That's a little odd. I imagine they'd put in a rotation of some sort. The winner of each pod heads to a semifinal game. The remaining teams play another conference game.
Feasibility: would require major change to bylaws to pass. Otherwise similar to other in-season playoff proposals.
Efficacy: eh… too much randomness in your opponents for my tastes
Fun factor: About the same.
In-season Eight(!) Team playoff
MGoUser U of M in Tx proposes what's essentially an eight-team playoff with the top four in each division making it. Seeds are not exact because he attempts to even up the home games and priority is placed on avoiding rematches if possible. Since everyone keeps playing, there are still nine conference games for everyone. He also proposes the bottom eight have a similar tournament with some special bowl bid on the line; that adds a second championship-ish game on the same weekend as the actual championship.
There's another version of this from Tacopants that has four-team pods with two protected rivalry games outside of the pods, two more crossover games, and the eight-team in-season playoff. It does not use divisions.
Feasibility: worse than the backwards group because it requires the NCAA to approve a second championship-type game. Does violate the bylaw because two teams from the same division could make it to the final.
Efficacy: Eight team playoff ranks highly here. Playoffs make more sense as you add teams and remove games.
Fun factor: Good. Quasi-championship game would be kind of fun, if not that important.
Totally Impractical Stuff
And if I think it's impractical, everyone else does.
maddogcody suggests a divisional format where the last week of every season is a game against your counterpart in the other division at a neutral site that is another home stadium in the Big Ten. That's a really weird way to force everyone to travel an a guarantee of many empty seats.
The Mathlete suggests a wholesale reimagining of the BCS conferences that ends with five separate 15-team conferences that play an eight-team playoff at the end of the year. Individual conferences are broken down into five-team divisions that play each other and two or three opponents in the other divisions. Division champions plus one wild card make conference playoffs. This one requires 17 games for national championship game participants and for five different conferences to do the same thing. Too many cats to herd.
Boston College blog BC Interruption chips in with a question:
Why Stop At 16?
This is one of those questions where if they don't know, you can't tell 'em. BCI absorbs the entire Big East plus Notre Dame to create a 20-team league that operates as two separate Pac-10s. Michigan gets chucked in a division with UConn, Syracuse, Rutgers, WVU, Cincinnati, Pitt, Penn State, Michigan State, and Ohio State, never to play for the Little Brown Jug again. For a thousand reasons from "Cincinnati and Louisville in the CIC" to "gaaah," this thing is never getting off the ground.
Priorities and Conclusions
Any conference that bloats to 16 teams is going to have problems determining a real champion without resorting to some oddities. A plain old divisions-plus-random-crossover-games setup is going to make the other division feel alien and introduce scheduling quirks that promise to have a distorting effect on the conference title race. Virtually all solutions propose taking information from early in the season and applying it to the last couple weeks of the season so that good teams play each other, whether it's in the form of a playoff in all but name or a crazy World Cup group or divisions-plus-nonrandom-crossover-games. That seems like the only way to make a 16-team football conference functional.
And now I will stop talking about this for at least three months, promise.