"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Still Tom doing these, obviously. Next up: Michigan's attempt to extend their rich history of guys named CJ.
CJ Olaniyan is a defensive end prospect from Warren Mott, and will be visiting Michigan this weekend. CJ has gotten national attention, holding offers from Michigan, Kentucky, Virginia Tech, and Oregon to name a few. As a junior he had 85 tackles and 9 sacks.
Take a look at our conversation, and the bold statement he makes about his recruitment.
TOM: You’re heading up to Michigan for the spring game, what are you most excited to see? What are you going to pay attention to the most?
CJ: I want to see the coaches mostly, and how the defense is coached. I haven’t gotten to see that yet, and that’s what’s most important to me.
TOM: Is anyone coming with you, or any other recruits you’ve been talking to about the game?
CJ: Martez Kelly might come with me, and there have been a few guys I’ve spoken to, like Austin Gray. [Probably not since he committed to Iowa since this interview took place. –ed] Everybody thinks it’s going to be a good time.
TOM: Have you been in contact with Greg Robinson, or any of the defensive coaches?
CJ: We just email really. I talk to the coaches about what kind of defense they run, and how I would fit in there.
TOM: What kind of defense are you familiar with, or what would you like to play in?
CJ: We run a 4-3. It doesn’t matter to me what kind is run at different schools. Just as long as I can play, and I get a chance to show what I can do.
TOM: You’ve been getting a lot of attention lately. What school surprised you the most, or intrigues you the most?
CJ: My coach gave me a break down of what was going to happen, and what schools would probably offer, so I haven’t’ really been surprised necessarily. He did a good job of prepping me.
TOM: Is it going to be important for you to stay close to home?
CJ: Not necessarily. I’m not going to look at that when I decide. It’s just going to be about where I fit in, and how comfortable I feel.
TOM: Is there a kind of pride thing with staying in state? Have you talked to any of the other recruits about staying in state?
CJ: Yea, I mean it would be cool to have my family stay, and to play where you’re from. I’ve talked to a couple of the instate guys about it. Austin Gray, and I talked about it before, and thought it would be pretty cool. I don’t know if they will or not, but we’ve mentioned it.
TOM: What are your strengths, what do you think you do the best?
CJ: I just make plays. I do what I’m told, and make the play. I would say my pass rush is the best part of my game though.
TOM: What areas are you going to try to work on this season?
CJ: I’m mostly going to work on my hand work with my stances, getting the right positions, and fundamentals down. I’m going to get bigger, so I always need to work on the fundamentals.
TOM: What’s your top 3 look like right now?
CJ: I think about everybody the same. I don’t want to name any tops right now, I’m not too sure.
TOM: When will you make your decision? Is there a possibility you could make one this weekend?
CJ: My goal is to have it done by the beginning of the season; the middle of the season at the latest. But, yea there’s a possibility one could come this weekend, I’m not sure yet.
Is there any hope of Michigan capitalizing on its NCAA appearance, where it could possible snag a decent current senior or a quality junior recruit?
I'm so tired of 2-3 star white guys from out of state. It's getting old. Darius Morris is a rivals 4-star (minor miracle), but it burns me to see a PSL junior like Keith Appling already fitted for green and white. Does Beilein even care about the PSL? Sure he recruited the 2-star stick-figure tall kid out of U-D Jesuit for next year, but that doesn't remotely count.
I guess my question boils down to, can he recruit?
Beilein can obviously recruit at some level. He's taken four separate programs to the NCAA tourney, unearthed Gansey and Pittsnogle and Joe Alexander and so forth and so on and has generally taken the Gonzaga-Butler route of finding under the radar kids who can play in his system. He can obviously do that, and that should be good for tourney bids most years.
But given the hostility above—way to enjoy the season, dude—I don't think that's the question. The question appears to be "can Beilein recruit like Izzo/Matta/whoever," and the answer is very probably not. That's what Michigan signed up for when they hired Beilein: low downside, low upside. Beilein's not the sort of coach to upset the instate balance of power or hire some random AAU guy for the privilege of getting your one-and-done kid. He's not that guy. He is a guy who will bring guaranteed respectability, likeable teams, and a host of tourney bids with some fun runs to the Sweet 16 or whatever. Michigan basically abdicated on being a powerhouse when they hired Beilein.
David Komer, who seems like a dick, might not like this. After Ellerbe and Amaker I'm fine with it. Michigan will build up a program over Beilein's career and then be in a position to swing for the fences afterwards. Fine.
That said, Beilein didn't leave West Virginia because he wanted to build Michigan into West Virginia. WVU is the kind of place only someone thoroughly down and dirty like Huggins can recruit to. As we saw with Rodriguez, there is virtually no instate talent and people from outside the state aren't exactly dying to go to Morgantown. Morgan's higher rated than any recruit Beilein's ever gotten. So is Matt Vogrich. Beilein probably disagrees 100% with the abdication stuff above and is going to go for bigger, better recruits than he ever landed at WVU. You can see the uptick from his first class to his second; 2010 promises to be another step forward.
As far as specifics: Michigan's 2009 class is done. They were looking at Aussie center Angus Brandt, but he committed to Oregon State. There are few recruits left and no one on Michigan's radar.
As far as 2010: we'll see. Michigan is in on a number of highly rated recruits, the most prominent being MI SF Trey Ziegler. Ziegler is ranked slightly lower than Manny was by the time his senior season ended and keeps listing Michigan strongly. There have been erratic rumors Michigan leads but nothing solid; he's a keystone recruit for Beilein. Michigan's also in on a few guys who either aren't quite as highly rated or don't seem like strong possibilities:
- Tim Hardaway Jr. and Morgan Moses are both 2/3 sorts who have visited and are strongly considering Michigan. Moses is a top 100 kid to Rivals but not Scout; Hardaway is a high three star and the son of that other guy named Tim Hardaway. Neither is white. This is probably not a surprise about Hardaway.
- Casey Prather is a mondo recruit listing Michigan who will visit but seems ticketed elsewhere.
- Will Regan is a skilled post guy hanging on the bottom of top 150 lists who's getting interest and offers from some pretty big schools now. He's from Buffalo, Beilein's old stomping grounds, and Michigan's supposed to be in excellent position.
- There's also this Evan Smotrycz guy, but he's an under the radar tall white guy who can shoot and will probably only serve to enrage you.
Getting Zeigler and another talented, non-role-player wing is extremely important in 2010. Michigan is (probably) going to have to replace Sims and Harris and no one they've recruited so far is going to be the sort of guy to get his own shot or draw the focus of the defense save maybe Morris. But let's see how things fall out before we shoot ourselves in the head.
Also: Appling? We're seriously complaining about Beilein losing recruits to Michigan State? Izzo has been to the Final Four five times! When Appling committed Michigan was still in the midst of a decade-long tourney drought and Beilein was just a new guy with no connections in state. If you insist on comparing Michigan's program to MSU you're going to be very disappointed, and that was obvious from the first day Beilein was hired. MSU is going to remain the dominant instate program until Izzo retires or gets hired by Alabama (which lol). Period. Michigan is going to have to build slowly; let's not be State football fans here.
Michigan Hockey Summers. (ZING!) Excellent Daily article discusses Chris Summers, named captain of next year's hockey team already, sort of buries the lead in the very last paragraph. Chris Summers sounds like a Berenson-bot in this reassuring quote:
“I think (Berenson) says it best: you’re preparing for a life after hockey,” Summers said Sunday. “There’s more to the world than just skating on the ice every day. It’s a game. It should be enjoyed. And I think that’s what a lot of players miss out on, that it should be fun.
“It’s unfortunate that it turns into a business once you get to the professional rankings, but that’s the way it is.”
That very much sounds like a guy who wants to stay. Some insider scuttlebutt confirms that but also says Summers is getting pressure from the Coyotes and is not a 100 percent lock. "80-20" was the number; I expect Summers to return.
The only time I'll ever say this. I wish this goofy Free Press error was a Drew Sharp column…
…because then its one sentence glory would be the best Sharp column ever. It's close to but not quite the best possible Sharp column. That's also one sentence, but the sentence is "I've been fired, put in a box, and shipped to Slovenia, where I will live out my days a simple goatherd."
Ways to feel old. Michigan has launched Twitter accounts for a dozen sports and plans to fill them with breaking news and stuff, which means they officially get the microblogging service better than I do. Here's the football feed.
Stop, please. Don Banks is running down NFL draft sleepers and Carson Butler features:
Only 21, the Wolverines junior opted for the draft in part because his role in Michigan's offense disappeared when head coach Rich Rodriguez brought the spread offense to Ann Arbor.
The spread offense might be 10% of the reason for Carson Butler's departure, with 90% being Carson Butler. At least Banks doesn't cite Butler's mad blocking skills, he just notes his tantalizing combination of size and speed. Too bad you can't put someone else's head on it.
(Also, the picture is of Charles Stewart, who shared #5 with Butler last year. I blame Getty, which occasionally mislabels things.)
Etc.: Michigan lands at #18 in Rivals' pre-pre-preseason basketball poll; don't know how you can even put a list together before the NBA draft deadline. Varsity Blue breaks down their basketball UFR numbers.
Some questions in the inbox about the events/time/date/style of the Spring Game. The details can be found on the official site. The summary:
- 8-10 AM: tours of the locker room.
- 9:00 AM: MGoTailgate(?). Tentative. Probably a fiasco.
- 9:30 AM: Gates open.
- 10:00 AM: Alumni game scheduled to start.
- 12:00 PM: Spring game-type substance.
- 3:00 PM: Baseball and softball games start at their respective fields.
Hopefully next year they'll bump things back a few hours to provide more time for pregame festivities. There is also a baseball game at 7PM Friday and baseball/softball games at 1PM Sunday for anyone in town or making an extended trip.
Parking is free except at Pioneer, where it's five bucks. The golf course is not open.
Is it a game? Sadly, no:
What fans won't see, however, is a true game among the 2009 players. Second-year Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said before practice Tuesday that Saturday's event will be a scrimmage in which certain proven players (like senior defensive end Brandon Graham) will see limited action, while others (like freshman quarterback Tate Forcier) may perform with both the first and second units to gain additional experience.
…and because he's the only healthy quarterback not named Cone. It'll probably be more like Michigan's final spring game under Carr, in which there was a controlled, unscored scrimmage that wasn't much fun. But Michigan's not really in a position to split into two competitive teams.
Weather? Should be quite nice. Currently projected to be 51 and sunny.
Event! Okay. It has been proposed that there should be an MGoBlog tailgate before the spring game. I am amenable, and Varsity Blue is also onboard. The current, extremely tenuous plan is to meet at 9 AM by the bus stop outside of Crisler. I fear that some guy will show up with emo hair and talk like people in Idiocracy speak and he will be set upon and eaten, but that's the chance you take.
I have no idea if this plan is feasible or not. At every previous spring game ever, it obviously would be because there would be no one else there but there's a chance people might be enthused this year or something and space might be limited. Also we need, like, food equipment beer etc. There is an official organization thread. Hopefully in a couple days it will come to some sort of consensus and I'll post final details later in the week.
I bet this is going to be a fiasco.
Dammit, Western. You've failed me for the last time. I don't know what's more surprising: friendliness between riot cops and State students or a girl at State who doesn't bleach her hair in an effort to look like a sad Midwestern version of a UCLA student.
Elsewhere in Michigan State getting housed, Orson obliterates the annoying "this will save Michigan" meme.
Name partisanry part two. Yesterday I pimped Barkevious Mingo in the Name of the Year competition several times. This is right and just. But a reader points out that we have another rooting interest: Iris Macadandang. Ms. Macadangdang is the #1 seed in the Crotchtangle regional and a recent alum. (An unusual one, too. How many people are involved with the College Republicans and Amnesty International?) She's in the sweet 16, where she is currently trailing Dr. Shasta Kielbasa.
Vote for Iris. Shasta Kielbasa is only around because of the "Dr." in front of her name and that's a title, not a proper part of the name.
(If you were wondering: yes, this section is a dense thicket of squiggly red underlines.)
Manny Harris is sticking to his story. Michigan's star wing has no current plans to leave Michigan this spring, following his sophomore season. But that doesn't mean he's totally ignored his future, either.
"It's an option, but not really that serious though," Harris said Monday regarding the buzz about him exploring his NBA options. "If it's something to look into, then I will, but I haven't even thought about it much. I doubt I'm going."
Okay, still not particularly worried and he should be back. Snyder does mention that Sims can put his name in and withdraw it without consequences since he's a junior. There's no reason for him not to, so he might apply, go to the draft camps and such, and withdraw.
He lurks. In the days of Gittleson there was a group of Michigan fans with thick necks and GNC memberships dedicated to the proposition that all men trained under Git were, well, gits. Or at least more git-like than they would otherwise be. One of their favorite talking points was that only two programs in the country used the machine-heavy High Intensity Training: Michigan and obviously archaic Penn State.
[PSU] Strength coach John Thomas brought a graduate assistant and some weight equipment into Holuba Hall. They did a session of manual resistance training, in which the GA did various exercises while Thomas used his strength and body weight to work him to failure. For example, the GA did pushups while Thomas pushed down on his back; the kid looked like he hated him for it.
The funny thing was that Thomas mentioned four or five times that he had learned some of these techniques "from a guy who's probably going to hate me saying his name, and that's Mike Gittleson." He looked over toward the opposite corner from me, as if Gittleson were over there somewhere. Of course, most of the coaches at the clinic were from Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey, so I don't know if anyone else recognized the name. But I immediately started looking for someone who might be Gittleson. I couldn't find him initially, but I eventually saw him. I spoke to him for a minute about resistance training, but I didn't mention anything about Michigan, since I thought that might bring up bad memories. Interestingly enough, when I got home and Googled John Duncan, one of the first hits I came across was this article in which ex-PSU players suggested that players were actually getting fatter and weaker under Duncan; those are the exact same criticisms that Gittleson suffered from fans, although I'm sure many S&C coaches face the same questions.
Penn State's been hugely erratic of late and it's impossible to tell why. They've had their share of throbbing destroyers on the lines, some excellent tailbacks and so forth and so on, so it's not like the old style can't produce some excellent players. But, hey, no one's ever accused Barwis of making them into anything other than indestructible death machines.
A delicious side note: at the open scrimmage TTB attended, freshman QB Kevin Newsome hit 3 of 15 passes.
Behind enemy lines. This is a bit strange for me, but, uh: I'm posting this weekly thing at Bucknuts now, keeping them up to date on various things Michigan. Oh, and mocking. Mocking it hard. Here's the first one. If you feel the need to bring a stone to the tailgate/disaster/fiasco, feel free.
Update 4/7: Linked to video of MI QB Devin Gardner, FL QB Jeffrey Godfrey, and FL CB Spencer Boyd, articles on SC RB Marcus Lattimore, TX RB commit Tony Drake, FL WR commit Ricardo Miller, OH S LaTwan Anderson, MI QB Devin Gardner (more), CA RB Brennan Clay, LA QB Munchie Leguax (more), LA S Ronnie Vinson, OH DE Jibreel Black.
Removed TX DE Jackson Jeffcoat (no interest in M), GA QB Blake Sims (Bama).
Moved MI CB Mylan Hicks to offered.
Article on Trovon Reed and Lache Seastrunk; I'm close to dropping both since there's been little recent indication Michigan is under consideration for either. Helmholdt article mentioning FL S Marvin Robinson and OH S LaTwan Anderson. Bizarre assertion that Michigan offered five-count-em-five kids at one Maryland high school.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
Lame development of the week: GA QB Blake Sims, publicly favoring Michigan and Georgia and planning a Michigan trip in the near future, committed to Alabama over the weekend. Sims was Michigan's best shot for a high-profile second quarterback commit in the near future. Not a huge deal with Gardner aboard.
Meanwhile, CA RB Brennan Clay says nice things to Michigan folk but in more neutral settings he expresses a clear preference for the West Coast. The latest is an "almost commitment" to Oregon. He lists M, plans a trip, and was a teammate of Forcier, so he remains on the board but I'd be super surprised to see anything come of it.
Happy Trails, High School Edition
Two transfers of interest:
- OH S LaTwan Anderson, currently favoring M, MSU, and WVU, is leaving St. Ed's because he "didn't like it real well over there" according to his father. Dreaded Glenville is the potential destination.
- FL WR Ricardo Miller is probably now MI WR Ricardo Miller, as his transfer to Huron is official. Miller plans to enroll early, as well.
You, Too, Can Go To Michigan, 5'4" AP Chemistry Student
Michigan has been offering and offering and offering and offering and offering; these days instead of having some kid say he'd like to go to Michigan and adding them to the board and waiting for an offer 90% of the guys who show up on the board do so because they say Michigan has an offer for them. I don't buy it. This is the last straw:
Michigan had a busy day on Thursday - offering five DeMatha [MD] football players. Michael Cooley, Lorenzo Waters, Ari Kouandjio, Marcus Coker and Jeff Knox all received offers from the Wolverines.
In a TLA, NFW. I don't think two guys who don't even have Rivals profiles are going to be amongst five kids Michigan offers in one go.
What is probably happening here: Michigan is chucking conditional offers out to all these kids with the clear implication that you are here on the pecking list and we will accept a commit from you in certain circumstances. In Devin Gardner's case those circumstances are "you do not shoot a hobo." In the case of random Maryland guy without Rivals profile those circumstances are probably "your father donates one million dollars moohahahaha /evil." (Or in reality: several other kids commit elsewhere first.)
Anyway, kid gets a warm fuzzy, kid gets to report an offer, Michigan can work their mojo, and (hopefully) no one hops on Marcus Lattimore's scholarship. Snake oil picture goes here.
You'll note that the reported offers locally are far more circumspect: MI DT Jonathan Hankins doesn't have one, nor did Austin Gray before he committed to Iowa. Anyone who's been to campus and is a threat to drop as soon as his sweaty mitts get a letter is being evaluated carefully. Random kids who haven't thought about Michigan for two seconds and aren't going to commit without a visit (and if they do won't stick to that commitment) get offers like candy.
DE Avalanche Aieee
No position has seen the offer avalanche more than defensive end. You can see four new additions above to just one removal. The board now shows fifteen offers to various folks, among them OH DE Jibreel Black…
Black estimated his scholarship offer total stands at 18. It includes Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Kentucky, South Carolina and a host of MAC schools such as Miami (Ohio), Ball State and Ohio University.
"I haven't started to narrow my list down yet," Black said. "I've just been focusing on our season."
…who's 6'2", 260, and may be a DT at the next level, which would be good since Michigan 1) needs DTs and 2) can't find anyone to offer at the spot. There had been reports that Michigan had offered PA DE Dakota Royer, but that same article doesn't mention Michigan in its Royer blurb. He's visiting many places, none of them Michigan, and is bumped down to red.
The guy most likely to drop soon is OH DE Marcus Rush, who's declared Michigan his leader and is coming back for a second official visit in less than a month. That bodes well. Rush is an OLB/DE sort destined for the spinner and my god we need a cooler name for that.
The most important recruit in the history of the universe since Barkevious Mingo has declared Michigan his leader over a vast pack of the country's finest programs:
Athletic signal-caller Munchie Legaux has Michigan as his current leader, ESPN affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports. In addition to the Maize and Blue, Legaux's holding scholarship offers from Virginia, Tulane, Louisiana Tech and Florida International.
Well, Virginia was good once, I think. No need to fret about Michigan's offer, though. Legaux showed at a local combine and did very well:
The top player at quarterback was clearly Munchie Legaux of Edna Karr. There were some questions about him coming into this combine about his ability to stick at quarterback on the college level, but he answered everyone of them. Legaux made all the throws – from the three step drop to the seven step drop to the quick slant to the fly route. He showed touch, arm strength, nice footwork, and he threw a nice spiral. He is thin and will need to add weight to compete on the next level, but he showed on Sunday that his future position is going to be under center. He was outstanding all afternoon when he knew a lot of eyes were on him.
The top player at quarterback was clearly Munchie Legaux of Edna Karr. There were some questions about him coming into this combine about his ability to stick at quarterback on the college level, but he answered everyone of them.
Legaux made all the throws – from the three step drop to the seven step drop to the quick slant to the fly route. He showed touch, arm strength, nice footwork, and he threw a nice spiral. He is thin and will need to add weight to compete on the next level, but he showed on Sunday that his future position is going to be under center. He was outstanding all afternoon when he knew a lot of eyes were on him.
He's also in the Rivals 250, so chances are he picks up some more impressive offers soon. Unfortunately, chances are his leaderboard changes then, too: it doesn't mean much to be leading that motley crew of midmajors—by which I mean "teams that should drop to I-AA"—and Virginia. If (probably when) SEC teams come calling the bet here is that Michigan slips into a leading pack and is eventually discarded.
The South Will Be Mentioned Again
Elsewhere in Louisiana, I'd considered LA S Ronnie Vinson a considerable longshot but he does have Michigan in a leading group:
However, there's not a whole lot of meat here:
“They have great tradition so I think they’ll be able to get things going again,” he said about the Wolverines.
Despite his offer from Michigan, he says he hasn’t really gotten to know the coaches very well yet. “I haven’t talked to coach Rich Rodriguez at all and am still learning more about them.”
Lousiana kid with LSU and USC offers… eh… still a longshot.
That's also the conventional wisdom on SC RB Marcus Lattimore, but he's going to take a while and he's got a curious pair of officials scheduled for a guy staying home:
Lattimore has 25 offers with the latest from Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. His top-10 list includes Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Duke, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina.
However, he says revisions could be made as new offers come in. “Those 10 schools will be my focus, but I’ve got to look at Penn State now,” Lattimore said. “That’s tradition there.”
Lattimore will take official visits to Penn State on Nov. 7 and Michigan on Nov. 21.
50-50 those officials actually come off. As of now, though, Michigan is definitely in the running. This is the second time Lattimore's asserted he'll take an official, so it's true until it isn't.
Love The Drake
TX RB Tony Drake is pretty fired up about his commitment:
Drake (5-9, 175), a Michigan fan since he was 5, rushed for 429 yards and three touchdowns in 2008 while splitting time in the backfield with James White. Drake, who averaged 7.8 yards per carry, chose Michigan over Georgia, Kansas, Texas and Boise State.
"I've always loved Michigan. I'm really ready to play against the Buckeyes," Drake said, referring to Michigan's top rival, Ohio State. "Playing Big 10 football is going to be really interesting. I think I'll be all right, because Michigan's offense is like Skyline's. We have the same plays."
Wouldn't get too hyped about the "chose Michigan over" section since I believe that's interest, not offers. Reinforcement for the Skyline-M offense conjunction, too.
The spread brings an interesting dynamic in recruiting: NFL coaches aren't big fans, but in high school the offense is even more ubiquitous than it is in college. Expect a lot of post hoc ergo propter hoc justifications from kids in the future. I committed to spread offense: I know all the plays. I committed to pro-style offense: I want to make the league. In reality kids are choosing based on academics. Never forget this.
Etc.: FL S Marvin Robinson coming up for the spring game. Will he commit? Eh, I'm betting he waits until football season is over because of his batty Buckeye head coach.