Introducing some original reporting on MGoBlog: Tom VanHaaren is the official Recruiting Intern and will be publishing interviews with various prospects.
The Junior recruiting class for Michigan is starting to take shape, well before the current class has even wrapped up. As Michigan fans, we've heard of the speed and skill that a Rich Rodriguez built offense can bring. We are starting to see that take shape with recent commitments from Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. There's a good chance we could see more this coming weekend as well. I caught up with Jeremy Jackson to ask him what he thought about his season, other recruits, and Michigan.
TOM (MGoBlog): How’s your season going so far?
JEREMY (JJ): I'm trying to get to 5-4, that's a big accomplishment at my school.
TOM: What are your goals for this year and next year? Where do you want to be at when you go to UM?
JJ: I want to make the playoffs my senior year. They haven’t talked about speed, but my Dad just told me to keep working hard every day. I ran a 4.58 at camp, and I’d like to get that down to a 4.4 or 4.5. I want to improve my weight, and I can’t really improve my height at all, so I’ll focus on those. I’m assuming they want me to gain weight, they haven’t mentioned it. Rich Rodriguez isn’t influencing me on my speed either; it’s just a goal of mine. My route running and catching ability are my strengths right now, which helps.
TOM: Has it always been a dream to play alongside your dad?
JJ: I never really thought about playing with him coaching me, because he’s never coached my little league teams. It’s weird but it’ll be great.
TOM: Does your dad feel the program is moving in the right direction?
JJ: Oh yeah, he told me to look at this year, but don’t look at this year. He told me not to pay attention to the negative criticism, and don’t worry about any negative media. With this year and next year’s QB and recruiting class, Michigan will be fine. When I get there, they’ll be in good position. I just want to focus on High School.
TOM: If you were Rich Rodriquez right now, what would you tell recruits about the season?
JJ: Michigan is going to have the best facilities in the nation by 2010, Rich Rodriguez ran a great offense at WVU, he’s a winner, and it’s just a down year. And the defense, coach Schaeffer runs a great scheme. We’re going to have a great defense; it’s just a matter of time. Tate Forcier and Beaver are coming, and they’re both really good.
TOM: You have a strong tie with the team, but how do you think losing has affected some other recruits?
JJ: Seeing the season, they see other teams that are successful now; but they can’t look to see the future. They shouldn’t look for the future. It’s hard because a lot of people say things like “your team sucks.” That’s the worst part is when people say bad things about Michigan, other coaches and fans.
TOM: It seems like you’ve developed a friendship with Marvin Robinson and Ricardo Miller, do you guys talk a lot?
JJ: I Talk to Ricardo a lot, not Marvin as much. I talk to him and joke with him a lot. Not always talking about football, which I like.
TOM: Are there any other recruits from your class that you think would be a good fit, or that you really want on your team?
JJ: Christian Lombard, he’s a good lineman, I’ve been talking with him a lot. Dad wants me to talk to Travis Hawkins. I want to work on Dior Mathis and Devin Gardner. Ricardo’s been working on Lo Wood a lot; he’s been getting in his ear.
TOM: Florida seems to be the new addition to the pipeline, is there a buzz in Florida right now? What are the kids from Florida saying about Michigan?
JJ: They want to come. Look at Michigan's commits: Vincent smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Jeremy Gallon. It’s only going to get better. It’s going to spread. Ricardo’s from Orlando, he keeps working on kids. Michigan is going to grow there. Get real relationships with high school coaches. But people are always going to do negative recruiting; coaches are already talking to Ricardo trying to get him from Michigan.
TOM: Is there anything with the new Coaching staff that’s different from the old that stands out to you? Good or Bad?
JJ: Both staffs were nice. I see more energy from all the new coaches. Real fast tempo. The old coaches weren’t bad. The new coaches will be good though, everyone wants to win and they show it. I train with Barwis, he’s taught me how to train and eat. He’s a great coach. Barwis got me faster and stronger. He has speed training, it’s not really doing that much, you just learn how to run. They condition and lift hard, but the speed drills gets you faster, and it’s not too hard, but it works.
TOM: How does Rich Rod see you fitting in? I know you want to play early, has he said that’s a possibility?
JJ: Yea, just come up there and work hard every day. I have an advantage to learn all the plays; I’m going to ask my dad teach me the plays. My dad will help me with all the plays. Commit to the training. It doesn’t seem necessary to enroll early, I already have an advantage. I go home every night, and my dad will get in my ear if I don’t work hard.
TOM: It seems like Tate Forcier has a good chance of being your QB, have you reached out to him at all? What’d you guys talk about?
JJ: I talked with him and his brother Jason, I talk to Jason more. He’s excited. I talked to Tate about his brother and how I know him. I really like Jason, but my Dad said Tate is going to be good. My dad compared his arm to Chad Henne. He’s not going to sit around and run, he’s gonna pass more.
TOM: It seems like your class might have a chip on their shoulder coming in, or something to prove. What do you hope to prove or accomplish at Michigan?
JJ: I haven’t gotten that far. I know the juniors that are committed now; they all love Michigan and want to play there. The ‘08 class wasn’t Rich Rod’s recruits. 09 has gotten a little better, and ’10 is going to be killer.
TOM: Let me hear your pitch of why another player should choose Michigan?
JJ: Michigan traditionally has won the most games in college football, over 110,000 people are at every game, you’re always on national TV, there’s a great chance to play in NFL, the best coaches, best strength class, best facilities in ’10, the best education, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go here.
Swanky. Reader Paul Scudieri sends in this freakin' awesome jack-o-lantern:
Itchy and Scratchy. The MSU brawl has hit the papers; MSU defenseman AJ Sturges is the kid in the hospital. As for this weekend, this is your operative sentence:
Charges stemming from the fight have not been filed and would not be filed until the end of the week or early next week, Daley said.
Dantonio, meanwhile, on MSU's actions:
He also confirmed that the East Lansing Police investigation of an off-campus fight does involve football players and is "disappointing" to him. The next word on that situation will be when the investigation is complete and a decision is made on charges.
One whole dollar says the investigation manages to stay open until around 7 PM Saturday.
What? Dantonio on last year's game (which, for the record, is over):
No pun intended, but we were up by 10 with seven minutes to go. And you know what? It isn’t over and it still is not over.
What does that even mean? What can it possibly mean? This is the most mystifying thing to come out of Dantonio's mouth so far, and that's saying something. No pun intended.
Tape review. In a terrific piece from Adam Rittenberg at ESPN, he sits down with a couple Northwestern players and goes over game tape with them. The article is especially relevant because the tape they're going over is from the MSU game. Interesting bits:
Sutton also looks for team-wide tendencies when he reviews film. "Last week, we played against Iowa, and their linebackers read the pulling guards, they read the linemen," he said. "These guys center on the running back, so wherever the running back goes, that's where these guys go. They don't green dog a lot. They blitz a lot.
"They're a fast-flow team. As soon as they see run, they're going downhill."
Green dog is when linebackers blitz after recognizing a running back is in pass protection. "We look at D-linemen, too," Sutton said, "and so far, what I've seen from each of them is they just bull-rush. They don't try and spin. It's just to see if you can contain on the bull rush."
That was before the Northwestern game; later in the article the players discuss how MSU broke tendencies (or at least learned to not tip their plays) during that contest. There's also discussion about Michigan State's tendency to nail players after the whistle.
I'm a gunner. Yost Built, in discussing MVictors' extensive Dave Shand interview, provides an awesome story about the incorrigible Dom Ingerson and Tommy Amaker's response. (We've got a swear involved, so beware.)
I was sitting behind the Michigan bench at Crisler and Dom Ingerson jacked a three from about 3 steps behind NBA range, made it, and then celebrated so much that his man beat him down the court and hit a three of his own. Amaker immediately called time-out and got the team in a huddle. He started diagramming a play (no doubt something brilliant like "Pass the ball to LaVell Blanchard and have him dribble out the shot clock and brick a three") or talking to the team or something when, all of a sudden--and keep in mind it was dead silent in the arena at this point--he spins around, points at Ingerson and screams, "FUCK YOU!"
Yes, folks, Brian Ellerbe's recruiting was worse than Amaker's. Considerably worse.
Beat that dead horse beat it beat it beat that dead horse yeah
Gary Danielson keeps banging the anti-spread drum, although that may be because he's the only man in America you can call for a quote about how the spread is dumb. Some guy in West Virginia did—complete with Rodriguez slam, natch—and got a litany of quotes to the same effect.
I only bring it up because this seems like the exact worst argument you could ever make about anything:
Danielson said the spread's weakness was displayed late in the Illinois-Missouri season opener when Mizzou needed one more first down to seal the win, "and on third-and-3 they had nobody in the backfield to run the ball except (Heisman Trophy-candidate QB) Chase Daniel.
These are the ways in which this argument is the worst argument ever:
- This event never happened. The only Mizzou third and three in the fourth quarter came with just under 13 minutes left on the clock. (Daniel threw incomplete.)
- At no point was Illinois within a score of Missouri, so "sealing the win" isn't exactly of paramount importance.
- This game between two spread teams (with garbage defenses, sure) featured 94 points and over 1000 total yards.
Oh, wait, this might be worse:
"I don't mean we're going back to grind-it-out football. I think every team will have to have their four-receiver sets, but I think in the future coaches are going to realize they have to be able to hand the ball to the tailback, too."
West Virginia ran 76% of the time last year, Northwestern, etc etc etc.
A few days ago when I pointed out that nine of the top ten offenses in the country were "spread" offenses some commenters protested that any grouping of offenses that included Illinois and Texas Tech was too broad to be meaningful. I agree with that. HOWEVA, Danielson groups Missouri and West Virginia and Michigan all together; anything in a shotgun with more than two wide receivers is the "spread." This makes his argument the "spread" is on the way out obviously untrue.
If Danielson was specifically addressing the Rodriguez-WVU spread there might be a case to make, but he'd have to make it in a significantly less dumb fashion. A fashion like this:
When Rodriguez got to Tulane with Tommy Bowden they threw the ball all over the place, but (a) it was in Conference USA, (b) they were excellent at the 3-step passing game, but defenses are better at defending against those passes now than they were a decade ago, and (c) his downfield passing game left something to be desired. And in the years since, it's not that Rodriguez is at heart a running guy, it's just that was what worked and it masked some of the passing game deficiencies. When I study the route combinations, they do not appear to be designed conceptually, and instead are a kind of grab-bag of a few routes here or there. You don't see his schemes organized of horizontal, vertical, and triangle stretches.
That's Smart Football, and that's something to be legitimately concerned about. I'm not sure if we'll get a read on whether or not he's progressing in this area with these quarterbacks and this offensive line, but I plan on pinging Smart Football's proprietor Chris after the year to find out if he's detected any adaptations.
Removed PA WR Todd Thomas(Pitt), OH OL Marcus Hall(dropped us).
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Another quiet week, but this week will be a big one. The MSU game has an impressive list of visitors set up from both the 2009 and 2010 classes; at least one 2010 commit is expected and there might be a second.
But on to this week's stuff:
McNeal is gone.
I mentioned that I was of the belief MN WR Bryce McNeal was not likely to return to the fold, and others are in agreement:
McNeal, from Minneapolis Breck, will visit Colorado, California, Minnesota and Florida, with the Gophers holding the home-state advantage. The success Tim Brewster is having in his second season in Minneapolis has impressed McNeal, and inside word is that it will be hard to pull him out of his home state now. Some think Michigan still has a chance to get him back, but sources close to the program feel McNeal is gone.
I should also mention that there have been articles about LA DT DeQuinta Jones and TX WR Dewayne Peace stating they were something other than totally solid. Wheeee! Might be a bumpy ride as we approach Signing Day with negative bler bler around the program at its all-time peak.
Here's Peace looking 14 and talking about visiting Kansas and Oklahoma and such:
So, yeah, his "commitment" is more like "Michigan a declared leader." Sounds like he's probably going to stick, though.
I'm not sure how much lowdown Jamie Newberg has on Michigan's QB situation, but this would be weird:
Is Michigan done at quarterback with this recruiting class? I don't think so, and I am hearing that the Wolverines have an excellent chance at landing Miramar (Fla.) High standout Eugene Smith. USF is heavily in the mix, and some say Florida State has a shot at him as well.
Smith's been quiet in his recruitment and plans to take a decision to or close to Signing Day, so we won't know about him for a while. Given the current situation at QB (and the possibility for a couple of these recruits to play elsewhere) I would welcome a third guy in the class, but I don't know if Beaver and Forcier would.
FWIW, Newberg also reiterates the conventional wisdom on Will Campbell: he should recommit to M.
The 2010 news remains relentlessly sunny, at least. Michigan has commitments from WRs Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson already, and it sounds like they'll pick up a couple of guys to go against them in practice this weekend. One has already been discussed: Eagle Lake safety Marvin Robinson is widely expected to commit.
Here's Scout talent analyst Allen Trieu on Miller:
"Miller is kid who is shockingly put together for his age," Trieu stated. "He uses his strength to play a very physical game and blocks like a tight end. He also has good speed (4.5 in the 40) and has shown he can stretch the field. Certainly, when you talk about Florida juniors, Ricardo's name has to be mentioned right up there with the best of them."
And on Robinson:
"When I saw this kid at the Michigan summer camp two years back, I thought they had misclassified him as a sophomore-to-be," recalled Trieu. "He's built like an NFL player already, and the fact that he can cover ground well enough to play free safety is impressive. I cannot imagine there are many other kids out there with his size that can run, jump and catch the ball the way he does. It is easy to see why Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, USC and others have offered him this early. A kid that boasts those offers before the start of his junior season is definitely elite."
That's all old news, though. The new news is on another Floridian, one Lo Wood, a cornerback for Apopka (Jeremy Gallon's school) who is about as blunt as Robinson about his intentions:
“Michigan is my favorite and I sure hope they offer me. I just have always liked them. It’s big blue man and that great stadium. My teammate (Jeremy Gallon) is going there.”
He's expected to get that offer when he visits; he is one to watch for a commitment right then. Wood hovers around #10 in the extremely premature Florida state rankings for 2010 I've seen; this is another guy who will hover near top 100 lists when that time rolls around.
Here's Jim Stefani on Wood.
Moving in early.
Add FL S commit Mike Jones to the list of early enrollers:
“Oh yeah, my commitment is real strong. They have such a young team I feel I could come in and play because I have talent. And I’ll be enrolling early and be there for the spring.”
That brings the count to five; both quarterbacks and both Pahokee kids are scheduled to arrive in January.
Etc.: SC S Devontae Holloman has officially decommitted from Clemson and has M in a top four with three southern schools; SC DE Chris Bonds now looking like a longshot; a profile of NC OL Travis Bond.
The Po-lice? Dude, keep your hockey players away from the football team: several counties of the internet are murmuring about an incident in East Lansing that's something like a super-sized version of the Milano-Kampfer fight/suplexing. Supposedly there was a house party, a major brawl involving a couple dozen people, and police involvement. Since this is the internet, this could all be wrong—tomorrow a plesiosaur with a shotgun will figure in somehow—but there's been a lot of independent chatter on this. Something happened.
Will suspensions result? Was anyone more important than a tenth-string walkon involved? If Hoyer was forcibly benched would Michigan State fans even regard that as a loss? Stay tuned!
Let not the words you critique influence your argument. So last week I linked to a post from the summer which downplayed the possibility Michigan would reprise Notre Dame's hideous 2007 season, causing Rakes of Mallow to link to it and mock it:
I found it odd that no one in Wolverine Land could see what was coming this season. They witnessed what happened to Notre Dame all last season - a massive loss of personnel unable to be overcome by idiot fans screaming in the preseason "We'll still win nine games, we're [INSERT NAME OF SCHOOL HERE]!" - then looked that fate in the eye and made another asinine comment.
Of course, if Rakes had actually read the damn post:
So why won't this happen? First... it might. Michigan is unlikely to sink to the horrific depths Notre Dame did solely because of math -- hooray Gaussian distributions -- but failing to reach a bowl would be a real blow to the internet argument capabilities of Michigan fans. And that's totally within the realm of possibility.
A season like Tressel's initial foray at Ohio State -- a bleh 7-5 that would have been 6-6 without John Navarre's exceptional generosity -- is well within the realm of possibility. And by that I mean "is the most likely outcome."
So, yeah, Rakes has gone back to a post he would never have seen again if I hadn't brought up that I was wrong and then vastly exaggerated the degree of confidence I had in the season—and this was before I had any idea that Nick Sheridan would play extensively. Low, man.
Meanwhile, those levelheaded ND fans are saying Michigan "might have to fire Rodriguez this year."
I have been talking about myself. A Flint Journal writer with one o' them MLive blogs asked me a few questions, and I answered them.
Buckle buckle. The Daily Reports (via the LA Times) that Mitera's injury is the big one:
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Mitera suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Friday's first-period collision.
Mitera and his family still haven't made a decision about surgery. Wait. What?
“We really haven’t come to a decision yet,” Ken said. “It’s going to be another couple of weeks. We really want to look to the doctors’ advice and see what they feel is in Mark’s best interest in the long term.”
Can you play on a torn ACL? Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon moved up to an 0.5 Norris when he played (and ran for a 50-yard touchdown) on a torn ACL last year against Arizona, but the lingering memory of Dixon from that game is his knee buckling hideously at some random point—no one touched him—and Dixon's dad helping his crying son to the locker room.
So… yeah. Torn ACLs seem like a bad idea. Maybe it's different in hockey, but probably not. I'm guessing he goes with the surgery and is done as Wolverine. Sad face.
At least he can't whiff a block. Carson Butler is now a defensive end:
Earlier in the week, tight end Carson Butler , who has moved down the depth chart and is behind Kevin Koger and Mike Massey , asked to move to defensive end. …
"He ain't playing tight end, because Kevin Koger is the starter at tight end, and Mike Massey is the backup," Rodriguez said.
…"and we've got like ten other guys, too, thanks Lloyd."