Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, WR Jerald Robinson, WR DJ Williamson, WR Jeremy Jackson, and WR Ricardo Miller.
|Flower Mound, TX - 6'0" 229|
mgouser Drake painted the ugly off
|Scout||3*, #52 RB|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #50 RB|
|Others||Consensus #76 player in Texas|
|Other Suitors||Texas A&M, Arkansas, Kansas, Kansas State|
|YMRMFSPA||Leroy Hoard or Brandon Minor|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Tom interviews Hopkins. Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins. Commitment post.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. From the same town as hockey forward Chris Brown.|
If you liked Brandon Minor but thought he was too tall, too fast, and insufficiently bowling-ball shaped, you'll love Stephen Hopkins. ABC should bring Keith Jackson out of mothballs just so he can call Hopkins a "hoss" enough for the descriptor to be dubbed over every subsequent run in his career, NCAA XX style ("He used POWER").
Calling him a workhorse is almost insufficient: as a sophomore, Hopkins ran 322 times for Marcus. (They managed to cut him back to 275 as a junior.) People still do, though, with the Dallas Morning News going so far as to call him "the definition of a workhorse" as they named him the area's top back for 2010. He says the things that workhorses say, too:
"We ended up pounding the ball and pounding the ball," Hopkins said. "That was a great team we beat, so it's really satisfying".
All those carries added up to a grinding mountain of stats: 1,663 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore, 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior. In his senior year Marcus finally found a couple guys to share the load and Hopkins got a less frenetic workload, but still put up 1282 yards on just over 200 carries. As I was saying: hoss.
Stephen Hopkins is Brandon Minor, but moreso. ESPN doesn't use the word "Minor" but just about says so($):
Hopkins has big-back size with deceptively good feet and lateral agility. … Hits the hole fast and does a job getting north quickly; does not take a lot of wasted lateral steps but shows he can bounce it outside to daylight without losing a lot in transition. At his best when he plants and accelerates downhill behind his pads. … Difficult for smaller defensive backs to arm-tackle when he gains momentum through the second level. However, his high running style hinders his balance, often chopped down low, and yards after contact production. Opens his body to direct shots, which is concern in a high carry role at the next level. Can see and hit the cutback creases, but is not a natural pick and slide zone runner and may be limited to more downhill schemes in college. Shows good initial quicks through the hole but lacks great top-end speed when breaks free in the second level and an extra gear to separate.
Could you craft a better Brandon Minor scouting report than that? No. Also, Michigan's coaches, by way of Hopkins himself, say so:
"They told me I'm a lot like Brandon Minor and the other big backs they've played in their system."
And Hopkins says so too:
“I think I’m a pretty strong runner just like Brandon Minor is,” Hopkins said. “I’m a little bit bigger than he is, but I think I have a lot of the same attributes he does running the ball. He gets tough yardage, breaks first contact, gets a lot of yards after contact. I think I’m a lot like that.”
Jordan Kovacs woozily concurs after getting trucked twice in a row in the spring game. Also he probably says "momma."
We have established the equality of Brandon Minor and Stephen Hopkins, but there's more stuff too, stuff that makes Hopkins seem ever so slightly distinct. One: he's slower. More Hopkins on Hopkins:
Yea, it kind of gives me a disadvantage though too. Sometimes there’s a stereotype that I can’t run fast, but I’m going to improve on that. I recently ran a 4.6 40, so I want to try to get that down to a 4.5. I like that I’m bigger, and don’t want to lose that, but I want to get faster too.
Two: he has even more RAGE. An observer of the coaches' clinic scrimmage:
The guy is just a freaking monster and he breaks tackles. Now, I can’t say he can block, or knows the offense or can catch the ball. Plus, he fumbled twice (once he was hit at the handoff, on the other instance it might have been the QB’s issue). But man is he a tough tackle on the belly if he can get (even) a yard of momentum.
In several different reports, Rivals calls him($) "a physical, punishing back" who "never hesitates" and "goes for positive yardage on practically every carry," praises his($) "tremendous overall size" and ability to "always … fall forward after being tackled," and says almost the exact same things($) in a third game report. (A caveat: report two says "he would have to be a short-yardage and goal-line back in the spread offense run at Michigan" and says he'll probably be a middle linebacker, two things that betray a scant knowledge of both Michigan's roster and the blood-strewn area on the backside of the Michigan offensive line that appeared whenever Brandon Minor had fewer than six broken bits.) Minor was pretty good at getting forward but he was taller and skinnier and more prone to get lit up for running too high. It sounds like you'd pick Hopkins if you had fourth and one.
As a potential bonus, his coach claims he's good out of the backfield and with the blocking and whatnot:
"He's one of those classic downhill runners that gets stronger as the game wears on," Marcus coach Bryan Erwin said. "But at the same time, he does all the other things that you need from an every-down back. He can block. He can catch passes. Whatever you need him to do, he can do it."
A year later, Erwin would say he's "great" at both blocking and receiving and the "most complete back that I've ever coached." He also knocked down that criticism from Rivals above:
"He's a great inside zone runner, which in that scheme, he should do well," noted the Marcus head coach. "When they do get in the I-formation, he's going to be fantastic. He does both those things for us. We still run a lot of I-formation and he's tremendous on tall sweeps and off-tackle plays."
The locals were also impressed. A message board focused on 5A Texas football has a thread in which the denizens say these things:
He is a very impressive player. His size is rare with RBs today. He can run for speed and power. … Physically, he is ahead of the game for his age.
When we played them in 2007 we got the ball first and went 3 and out, or close to that. They then ran about 9 minutes off the clock and scored. Pretty much every series was like that. When the other team has the ball for 9 minutes of every 12 minute quarter scoring chances are few.
The guys is IMO the best back in the DFW area. … The off-season between his sophomore and junior year saw him put on some size and gain in speed. He has developed into a very patient runner that will wait for the hole to develop and then explodes. His power is unmatched by any back I saw last year. … Marcus added a inside/outside running game last year and was able to do that with Hopkins. The year before he was limited to getting his yards between the tackles due to not having the game breaking speed, last year that changed and Marcus was able to break the big one on sweeps, off tackles and power plays. One of his strengths is his ability to hold onto the football too.
With the crying need for a hippopotamus back on the roster and Rodriguez's RAGE-friendly belly schemes, Hopkins is going to be a tailback at Michigan all the way. In the I-formation he'll line up behind the fullback and iso like mad. In the spread 'n' shred he'll be the Owen Schmitt (who ran the ball some 57 times as a senior) to someone else's Steve Slaton. The coaches have told him he's not a fullback. He won't be. He will be a horse.
Etc.: With Hopkins looking like a four-year contributor, get used to this:
As a junior, went Biakabutuka (313 yards) in a heartbreaking loss to Southlake Carroll. There is a petition for one Stephen Hopkins to be signed to "Sporting Hinton" permanently. Doctor Saturday as emirate? Random quote:
"If you need me to pick up a first down in a short-yardage situation, I'm your man, but I don't want to be just a power back," Hopkins said.
Hopkins made the All State team in the largest Texas division… second team… and they put four running backs on each team. Everything's bigger in Texas.
Other guy named Stephen Hopkins: Guys named Stephen Hopkins have a rich history in American… uh… history. One of them was on the Mayflower and signed the Mayflower Compact; another was one of Rhode Island's signatories on the Declaration of Independence. Hopkins beats Jeremy Jackson hands down.
Why Leroy Hoard or Brandon Minor? Minor is obvious. As for Hoard: take it from the guy who is cited above as Practice Observer, who was talking with a guy who played with Leroy Hoard, knows Leroy Hoard, watched Hopkins practice, and said "that's Leroy Hoard."
Guru Reliability: High, I guess. No reason a four-year starter at a major Dallas school wouldn't get the crap scouted out of him. Everyone thought Minor was going to be a fullback, too, though, and none of them seem to realize that Michigan has run plays that people other than Steve Slaton can run.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Obvious, immediate contributor that fills a hole on the roster but unlikely to be a big star.
Projection: Fills a niche in the Michigan backfield that needs filling (see: worst play of the Decade #4) and will play this year. His worst case is the short yardage and goal-line back; his best case is Runaway Beer Truck next to a Vincent Smith.
In case the Forcier Transfer tweet going all Keyser Soze five minutes after it was posted…
…was not indication enough, Tom got in touch with Tate's dad, who laughed the rumors off:
Mike Forcier, Tate's dad, laughed at the transfer rumors. Said they aren't true, and he wouldn't support it anyways.
This tweet is still up.
Melanie Collins, meanwhile, has mastered the art of 21st century apologizing by admitting nothing, claiming her righteousness, and blathering insane nonsense:
Twitter is an outlet to post thoughts, provoke conversation & share info I'm hearing. I never once said there was any truth to Forcier rumor
No truth, just from a "very reliable source." This flies if your bio says you're a pathological liar. Collins's does not, unfortunately. Wait a minute… AH-HA! CAUGHT YOU RED HANDED, I DID.
I probably shouldn't have posted anything on a rumor that seemed specious enough to cloak it in the skepticism/fatalism I did, but I figured since she was and is a Big Ten Network "personality" that it was worth posting. Sorry about that. On a side note: message board folk should drop it since the chatter has degenerated into "I would do her so hard and then put her in an apron so she can make me a sandwich which is all women are good for help me I've never touched one." Don't post anything your mother doesn't want to read. Or my mother.
And Kelvin Grady has the last word:
NEVER A DULL MOMENT #period
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected] or tweet @varsityblue.
Trimming Lists, Planning Visits
WI RB Melvin Gordon (pictured at right, via the Kenosha News) may take an official visit to Michigan. It had previously seemed like the Wolverines were out of the running for Melvin, and this could be a sign that they definitely want a big back in this class.
Michigan is in FL RB Devondrick Nealy's top five ($, info in header). He's similar to FL RB Demetrius Hart, so if all goes well with Dee, I wouldn't expect Nealy to end up in this class.
NJ Slot WR Miles Shuler-Foster has a top 7 that includes Michigan. He seems to be one of only two slots (along with FL Slot WR Prince Holloway) that Michigan is pursuing. It's not a position of need, but Shuler's speed would be hard to turn down.
NJ TE Jack Tabb (who recently visited Ann Arbor) is ready to cut his list of more than 20 offers. Six schools, including Michigan, are guaranteed to make that cut, making up a de facto top six.
Last week, PA DE Deion Barnes named a top 5 ($, info in header) including Michigan. There might be another positive development in that recruitment, as Pitt, also in his top 5, picked up commitments from three defensive ends last week.
OH LB Sean Duggan has a top five that includes Michigan (along with Wisconsin, Boston College, Duke, and Virginia).
NJ S Sheldon Royster will try to visit Michigan before his senior season starts ($, info in header).
LA CB Daren Kitchen, who has long favored Michigan, will take an official visit for the Connecticut game ($, info in header). If receives a commitable offer on that visit, he could drop for the Wolverines.
PA DE Desimon Green committed to Pitt.
MD OL Donovan Smith has narrowed to a top 12 that does not include Michigan.
PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett committed to Pitt.
TampaBay.com covered the commitment of Tony Posada last week:
Leaving the state was a major factor, Posada said, as was Michigan’s reputation of producing offensive linemen. Two weeks ago, Posada said his mind was “99 percent” made up.
“That day I walked outside and it felt like it was 100 degrees out and I told myself, ‘I want to go to the snow,’ ” Posada said. “And when you go to Michigan and they ask what did you play and you say offensive tackle, people say, ‘Man, you must be good to play tackle at Michigan.’ ”
It sounds like the staff is planning to play him at tackle, which means any more OL commits will probably come from guards.
Tom spoke with FL OL James Elliott following his Michigan visit, and Elliott had nothing but positive things to say:
JAMES: Man, that was the most amazing school I've ever seen in person... We actually stayed a little longer than expected just so we could see everything, and meet Coach Rodriguez. We didn't realize he was in Seattle, so we wanted to stay to meet him. We got to see practice and talk with him about the visit. It was just great.
He named Michigan his leader ($, info in header), so what's the next step for Elliott? He holds an offer, but not yet a committable (i.e. Rodriguez-issued) one. With a few good OL targets remaining on the board, Elliott may have to wait to see how things shake out before he receives one.
FL DT Tim Jernigan, who has Michigan in his top five, is also Facebook friends with a couple of Michigan's coaches.
Local Fluff on KY LB Lamar Dawson. He's a longshot for Michigan, but a good season on the field could turn a lot of top prospects' heads toward Ann Arbor.
FL WR/S Sammy Watkins and his teammate, CB/QB Dallas Crawford (pictured at right), are both very interested in Michigan still:
Watkins is still considering a long list of schools, but says he was very impressed during visits to Michigan and Clemson.
Crawford says he'll wait until the end of the season to make a decision, but lists Michigan, LSU, Miami, Wake Forest, North Carolina, and West Virginia as his leaders right now.
Watkins plans to announce a top 5 before his season, and then put recruiting on the back burner for a while. Crawford was willing to go on the record and say the Wolverines stand atop his list. Landing him would help Michigan with Watkins.
MI CB Valdez Showers will announce a decision next week. The Wolverines are in his top four ($, info in header), along with Michigan State, Northwestern, and Florida. Though Showers grew up a Michigan fan, I don't think they're the favorite to land him at this time.
For more on several prospects, including GA S Avery Walls, check out Tom's weekly recruiting update.
The Distant Future. The Year 2016(!)
A physically imposing offensive lineman from Illinois grew up loving Michigan:
Swenson’s dream school is Michigan, but he also has his priorities straight. “The first thing is to get a good education,” Swenson said. “I want to go to a good school and play football. I’d like to study engineering or business.”
The issue? Kid's not even in high school yet. Erik Swenson's recruitment is a long way off, but assuming we all survive Mayan apocalypse, he's one to keep an eye on in the future.
In slightly-less-distant news, 2012 OH S Allen Gant (at right) is the latest prospect profiled by Sam Webb in the Detroit News.
Said Allen, "Before I just didn't have a very good idea of what Rich Rod and his staff were about, but after (the visit) I feel a lot more comfortable with them. I know that they're interested in me. They're on my radar with all the other schools that were recruiting me."
Gant is the son of former Wolverine Tony Gant, but he grew up a fan of the Buckeyes.
UPDATE: Professional hottie's tweet has disappeared. You can safely ignore the below, I think.
Um… so this person…
…has a twitter that says this:
Very reliable source telling me Tate Forcier requested a transfer from #Michigan this AM. NOT yet confirmed, will update as I know more.
I'd link it but I'm getting fail whales and am suffused with an overwhelming ennui.
Not to disparage smoking hot bikini models or anything, but I'd probably take Mike Rothstein's word over hers. Then again she has done some sideline work for the Big Ten Network—the entire reason this is credible enough to bother with—and Rothstein is not banging out strenuous denials and this is Michigan post-Bo so it's probably true and all she left out its that he's hiring someone to bash Denard's knee in, Tonya Harding style.
This is by user chunkums and it is ridiculous:
That is all.
Also it has two points at the moment and is the last straw for the new point system. Posbangs are free for everyone!
HAI GUYS WHAT'S—
No, just kidding. We're back to normal service except for the occasional outburst of spine-threatening sobs and pauses to shake the MGoFist at the sky.
So how screwed are we? Oh… I'd imagine pretty screwed. We've had to consolidate the "can Teric Jones/Michael Shaw/Denard Robinson/Will Campbell play corner?" threads in one big annoying glob of Kubler-Ross bargaining. But at least we've gotten some excellent paint action out of it:
From the Shredder, naturally.
Also there's this from Antidaily:
Even the house organs, who were busy dismissing the importance of Justin Turner's departure last week, admit this is a "devastating blow" to what was already a ramshackle Burmese lean-to of a secondary. Rittenberg says Woolfolk's name would have been "right at the top" of players Michigan could not afford to lose and asks if Pac-Man Jones or Charles Woodson have any eligibility left (answer compliance should absolutely not double-check: HELL YES). Orson breaks out Crazy Old Testament God; Burgeoning Wolverine Star goes with that damn owl again for some reason.
And UMGoBlog gets all scientific by ripping Dorsey, Turner, and Woolfolk off Michigan's roster in NCAA 2011 and seeing what happens:
|PASS YPG||PASS TDS||PPG||RECORD||RODRIGUEZ|
|Before||200||19||24.1||7-5||"I feel happy!"|
That last column is my addition. Obviously.
Io-wha? Yeah, you see what I did there. Black Heart Gold Pants got all huffy about the idea Iowa might be overrated. While I was wrong about how many defensive starters Iowa lost (it's three, not five) and this somewhat mitigates their situation, when you deploy the Mathlete luck graph in an attempt to argue you weren't that lucky last year, well, Braves and Birds treats you like it usually treats Stewart Mandel:
You know your argument sucks when you're fighting the notion that your team was lucky in 2009 and you cite a chart that shows your team to have been the second luckiest team in the conference. …
As a result of Iowa's inability to demonstrate its superiority over Arkansas State and Northern Iowa, every ranking system that accounts for data beyond record and strength of schedule pegged Iowa in the lower part of the top 20. The Sagarin Predictor had Iowa 17th. Sports Reference's SRS measure had Iowa 19th, as did Football Outsiders. In short, you can accept what reams of research tells us about football, which is that points, yards, and drive outcomes are a better indication of a team's merit and contain less noise than the final record itself. Or, you can reject all of that, put on a dumb hat, and wait to be punked by Fire Joe Morgan.
The chart thing's even better since it shows Iowa was seriously unlucky the year before, puncturing any argument that Ferentz has a knack for making chicken salad out of Stanziballs. Why is it that when I make a bleedingly obvious comment like "Penn State's quarterback situation sucks" or "Iowa was lucky last year and I am skeptical of them this year" people get all mad? Go ahead, predict Michigan's secondary will be a black hole of despair. I won't stop you.
Hockey guy but sort of the wrong year. Michigan's finally picked up another hockey commit, with 2012 forward Justin Selman picking Michigan a couple days ago. Selman joins Boo Nieves and Connor Carrick in that class; Michigan is still way, way short for 2011, with one guy currently scheduled to replace Michigan's extensive senior class.
As per usual with hockey recruits more than a year out from the draft, information on Selman is sparse. USHR has a positive note as one of a dozen or so "A" players from the '08 Select 15 festival:
-- 5’10”, 165 lb. Justin Selman. A smooth skating late ’93 from Upper Saddle River, NJ and the NJ Avalanche. He can make plays. Strong hockey sense. (White)
Selman- Great at faceoffs. Had a growth spurt and is suprisingly strong. Solid skater with the drive to score. doubt he goes to the O.
Justin Selman- 5 10 160- A great skater and an absolute wizard on face offs. He is physical and has grown a lot in the past two years. A young 93 and still is one of hte best in a strong 93 Atlantic district age group.
Selman is not really a pro prospect I guess but he is still a very good player who could receive consideration for 2012.
Fiutakin' it. Since this guy exists…
…and so does walk-on kicker and varsity soccer star Justin Meram, this Free Press typo (print) goes from pedestrian to "Evan Metrics" competitor:
It is always dangerous to taunt the embarrassing typo Gods—a couple of months ago I called PSU's Tom Bradley "Steve" or something—but, man, that was posted yesterday and passed around to great laughter and still hasn't been updated as of this post.
Expansion detail trickle. A couple more items from Delany:
- A ninth game likely wont happen until 2015 at the earliest, and…
- Straight geography is not happening when it comes to Big Ten divisions: “We didn't think there's any way we could achieve principle one [competitiveness] and two [rivalry preservation] if we were rigid about geographic contiguity. We are aware of geography, but we're not going to be driven by it.”
There's a rumor out there that Michigan and Ohio State will be split into separate divisions, which I find abhorrent because it necessitates protected cross-division games, which are dumb, and guarantees that Michigan will be elaborately screwed by that cross-division game being Ohio State, guaranteeing them a brutal schedule year-in, year-out as Ohio State and Penn State go play with Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, and Illinois.
Remember when… wingless helmets were the thing we were panicking about?
It was a simpler, more annoying time because everyone hysteria was unjustified. Here's to annoyance.
Etc.: Hoover Street Rag breaks down Michigan logos past. Seth Wickersham's ESPN the Magazine article($) is insider, it is also the second MSM article in the past couple weeks to break down the Michigan document dump months after Heads Should Roll. It's probably worth your time, though. I don't buy the idea that compliance couldn't dare escalate from their perpetual Labadie pings; that was a screwup on their part, though most of the problem lies with the bungling underlings and the system that allowed the bungling to continue so long.