this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The last couple days have been a weird rollercoaster for Michigan fans debased enough to get really into recruiting like yrs truly. Denard Robinson, Adrian Witty, and Je'Ron Stokes were supposed to be in the bag; the defensive tackle recruits were anyone's guess, Quinton Washington was probably staying home, and Sam Montgomery was a longshot.
Then yesterday Stokes and Robinson were thrown into considerable doubt, Montgomery cut us, the defensive tackle recruits seemed gone, and everyone wanted to slit their wrists—which is completely ridiculous, I know, but it's not like I was immune. It made me morose; I concentrated on other things, like who you should root for down the stretch in college hockey. Recruiting: it's like herpes for your brain.
Today, Washington overturns the conventional wisdom and picks Michigan, both defensive tackle recruits seemed likely to stay—until recently, about which more in a bit—and what tide you can pick out in the chaos of information on Stokes and Robinson now appears to be trending positive. I've scoured message boards of a half-dozen teams, assimilated all the conflicting information flying around, and if you put a gun to my head and made me predict what was going to happen tomorrow it would look like this:
- Pearlie Graves: Michigan
- Adrian Witty: Michigan
- Denard Robinson: Michigan
- DeQuinta Jones: Arkansas
- Je'Ron Stokes: Michigan
Awesome! Oh no… what's that? It's horrible! It's orange! It reminds me of a phallus!
Not so fast, my friend! My confidence level in all those predictions save the one on Adrian Witty, about whom there appears to be little controversy, is incredibly low. Each of the four-stars have, intentionally or not, created a perfect aura of uncertainty about them. At some point in the last couple days I would have predicted every one of them to Not Michigan. The god of recruiting is Loki, and these men are his perfect minions. Should be a fun day tomorrow.
DeQuinta Jones. Eh, not coming:
“I could change my mind, but I’m leaning towards Arkansas. I’ll make a final decision (Wednesday),” said Jones, who took an official visit to Auburn in addition to Arkansas, Tennessee and Michigan. “Basically, I like everything about Arkansas. I really like the coaching staff.”
If Jones has an 11th-hour change of heart, Tennessee would appear to have the inside track. “I want to play SEC ball,” Jones said. “That’s what I grew up watching.”
So, yeah, that's not good. Also, if you think Rueben Randle was close with Ramgod you have to check this out:
Mark of the beast! Mark of the beast!
Denard Robinson. Robinson saw a huge surge in Florida optimism that ended with Florida, apparently, getting the boot. Luke Stampini of soflafootball.com thinks it's M:
Denard Robinson Deerfield Beach: Looks to be down to Michigan, Florida, and Kansas State. I think he chooses the Wolverines, but the Gators’ odds seem to be improving as time goes by.
Given the massive Florida surge followed by the implosion that's not the latest and greatest info, but it's still pretty recent. Most indicators here have returned to good. (HT: VB.)
Je'Ron Stokes. Well… let's just say the impression I've got is that when Stokes hung out with Will Campbell at the AA game they swapped ideas on how to cause the most heart attacks amongst internet nerds. Mission accomplished, gentlemen.
Tank? Illinois commitment Tank Carradine, the OH DE with the most kickass nickname of anyone in this recruiting class, is now former Illinois commitment Tank Carradine. Academics are the issue:
"He's going to sign with somebody," Martin said. "We knew some of the these issues going in and I was told that there's a possibility they could hold a scholarship for him once everything got straightened out. Now, everything's changing."
Michigan, Cinci, Kentucky, and NC State now comprise Carradine's short list. If Illinois cut him loose because they didn't think he could make the grade it seems doubtful Michigan will leap on him*, but if he's sitting out there after signing day—which looks likely—and Michigan's sitting around with an unused scholarship or two—which also looks likely—Michigan could sign him in the hopes he makes it in. They could use another DE in the class.
*(No slight to Illinois intended; Big Ten minimums are Big Ten minimums, is all.)
Rivals provides a helpful timeline for Signing Day announcements:
9:00 AM – Pearlie Graves LOI. (Presser at noon, so we might not be 100% until then but in all likelihood we'll know good or bad by then.)
11:00 AM – Deerfield Beach duo (Denard Robinson and Adrian Witty) announce.
1:30 PM – DeQuinta Jones announces and sends in LOI.
3:30 PM – Je'Ron Stokes (tentative) announces.
No word on Je'Ron Stokes, but that's looking decidedly unfriendly about now. [UPDATE: apparently it's 3:30 and we might not be dead. Viva recruiting!] Quinton Washington already committed and Sam Montgomery already cut M, so those five are the only guys we're waiting on unless there's some sleeper or snake oil going on.
I will be out of pocket until about noon tomorrow, unfortunately, but Tim from Varsity Blue will be operating the levers here. We'll have a CIL at around 11 or 12; this one will be a more heavily moderated Q&A-style one, not a free-for-all. TomVH may stop in.
ESPN's South Carolina recruiting site has a thread on its premium board entitled "Washington to…"
That South Carolina message board referenced on Friday just had a bomb go off in it:
QW to Michigan as per JC Shubert. …
Yep. He's gone. Close up the thread.
It's kinda sad that we can't lock up our own guys. We should be able to do this. …
Wish him the best but I really think we should have locked this guy in no matter who came after him. …
Damn....that's a blow right there. He was a crucial guy this whole time that we shouldn't have lost.
Waiting for confirmation but this looks pretty solid.
UPDATE: TomVH got in touch with JC Shurburtt of ESPN.com and he has confirmed that Washington has committed to Michigan. Divers alarums all around. Official presser is at 3PM.
UPDATE II: I'm not going to do a full-fledged googlestalk for Washington yet since I'll be doing one shortly as part of the recruiting wrap posts that will come regularly during February, but some rankings for you:
- ESPN: #82 overall, #6 guard, 82
- Rivals: #213 overall, #8 guard, 4*
- Scout: #19 guard, 3*
So two of the three major ranking services say he's a very good prospect with Scout saying meh.
Visit from some guy. Someone at TSN—the Canadian ESPN, eh?—took in the Saturday Notre Dame-Michigan game and reported back in volume. Yost did not burn his ears off:
t's been a long time since I last traveled to Michigan's Yost Arena to see a hockey game, as I did on the weekend, and it was about as much fun as I remembered.
The road trip weekend with longtime friends Geoff, Brian and Sparky was a blast, as the energy in Yost Arena makes it a must-see for hockey fans.
I remembered thinking that it was really cool to have a band playing Hail to the Victors during the game the last time I was at Yost (to see the Western Michigan Broncos upset the powerhouse Wolverines in the early 1990s) and it still seemed that way now as the combination of the band and student section kept things lively throughout and was rip-roaring during the third period.
It's kind of novel to have a third party report back without breaking down into tears after hearing Yost's PG-13 penalty cheer (which I still think should be stopped or modified but holy crap some people need to chill).
Elsewhere the guy claims that college hockey "stifles creativity," probably because he's watching a really good Jeff Jackson team. (He does disclaim with "at least on this night.") That's an annoying criticism, as college hockey has a rep for deploying little skilled ninjas that can't find a home in the rough and tumble CHL, or whatever, and that's used as a tool to bash the development potential of college hockey. But when you get a game like Michigan-ND, that's stifling creativity. You can't win.
Le sigh. This doesn't make me feel better and probably won't make you feel better, but Mike Spath has confirmed with CCHA officials that both calls against Notre Dame were incorrect. The first:
The official ruling from the CCHA is any puck directed in by a skate, regardless of intent, regardless of kicking motion or not, is not allowed. However, the call on the ice was a goal because no official saw the puck deflect in off the skate.
So that Miller goal earlier in the year was correctly waved off (despite what appeared to be an allowance for it in the rules) and the CCHA has basically declared all goals that come off an attacking player's skate to be null and void. Okay, the officials on the ice missed it—annoying—and they weren't allowed to use the angle that clearly showed the kicking motion—also annoying but not their fault.
It's the waved-off Michigan goal that really gets me:
The neutral-zone referee thought he saw the net come off and blew the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line. …
CCHA sources admit that the neutral-zone referee should not have blown his whistle when he did, remarking "You have to trust your partner and the deep-zone referee, in this case, was in the proper position to make the call. You only act in that manner if your fellow official isn't in position, if he fell down or is racing down the ice." So essentially, the official on top of the play did not blow the whistle and was rendered useless when the neutral-zone referee blew the whistle prematurely.
There's your two-referee system in action. Here it was actually the veteran ref, Brian Aaron, who assumed his partner six inches from the net couldn't tell if it was knocked off. And even if he didn't the proper action was to let anything not obvious go and review it later. The net never even trembles in the video. Very frustrating.
Meanwhile, Spath predicts Mitera plays against Ferris State and no sooner. He is "behind schedule" according to Red.
Wait, does this mean Scooter has cancer? New Big Ten director of officials Bill Carollo talked with ESPN's Adam Rittenberg recently. Naturally, the Brandon Minor touchdown-like-substance against Michigan State came up:
The good news is no one's died of cancer on that play at Michigan because the right team won the game. Had a mistake with replay given six points when we shouldn't have or vice versa and decide the game, it would have been a much bigger problem. So we were a little bit lucky.
Indeed, and it goes down with the Domata Peko fumble return as the most egregiously awful but thankfully meaningless touchdowns in Big Ten history. I still maintain that the league's policy of staffing the replay box with decrepit ex-officials is a bad idea. Sure, have some guy who knows the rulebook inside and out up there (or, in this case, doesn't) but pair him with someone still amongst the living.
History of shirtless creepy panic. Bleed Scarlet has an excellent piece on how recruiting came to be the way it is, and a roundtable I answered a few questions for. I'd like to highlight this idea cribbed from Vijay of iBlog For Cookies:
Do you favor an early signing period in college football? Would such a proposal help or hurt prospective student athletes?
Brian Cook - “Sort of. I’d like a nonbinding letter of intent program. You sign it and 1) you can’t take official visits to other schools and 2) other schools are not allowed to contact you in any way whatsoever. You can rescind it at any time up until the official signing date. This system seems a lot better than the current one — you’re not really a commit until you sign, and that has some meaning — but doesn’t lock players in any earlier than they get locked in now.”
Anyone see any issues with this setup? I think it's a bulletproof improvement on the free-for-all we've got going now.
Another quick roundup of goings-on:
SC OL Quinton Washington doesn't know what to do. It's either M or South Carolina for him, but there are sources on both sides declaring optimism. For his part:
Washington was supposed to meet with his coach Art Craig today at school but Washington did not come to school. "He's a confused young man right now," Craig said. "He's torn completely in half," between USC and Michigan. Craig said he and Washington are to meet Tuesday morning to discuss the situation.
Washington could announce whenever. Yesterday he wore a South Carolina hat on, uh, "Hat Day." Which I didn't know about. Isn't someone supposed to tell me when Hat Day is?
OK DT Pearlie Graves isn't going to Oklahoma. This is good, but it may not get us entirely out of the woods:
Tulsa East Central defensive lineman Pearlie Graves apparently no longer holds a scholarship offer to Oklahoma, according to the recruiting Web site Rivals.com. Graves, a four-star recruit,had been planning to take an official visit to OU this weekend. Instead, Graves will probably end up signing with Michigan, with whom he’s been committed since November.
Not sure whether the offer was pulled because he didn't visit or he didn't visit because his offer was pulled. However, Texas Tech is supposed to be pushing hard and the insiders are basically saying "I don't know."
SC DE Sam Montgomery cut Michigan.
Though I don't have any new public info on Stokes, Witty, Robinson, and DeQuinta Jones, a quick scan of any Michigan message board will reveal considerable pessimism or even downright panic at some last-second shifts in the recruitment of Stokes and Robinson; since Michigan was the presumed leader in both recruitments that's bad. That strong finish of 3-4 good prospects now seems like a longshot. Here's some Robinson fluff, though. (Via Varsity Blue.)
1. I'll be on WTKA at 4 PM today with John U Bacon. Recruiting will be a main topic of discussion, and we may get into other things.
2. I am going on a fairly ill-timed vacation starting Thursday that will last until the 15th. In my stead there will be a number of guest posters: Dylan from UMHoops, Tim from Yost Built, Tim from Varsity Blue, various Wolverine Liberation Army posters, MVictors, the Hoover Street Rag folks, and others. There should be content every day, and I'll be able to check in at least a few times throughout the course of my absence.