this may be of some local interest
After being out of pocket for a week, this should be a massive update. Check out Brian's offensive and defensive recruiting overviews to get the big picture, and don't forget to check out the 2011 Michigan Recruiting Board.
Many Michigan fans were expecting MI DE Brennen Beyer and/or MI OL Anthony Zettel to commit to the Wolverines by now, but it hasn't come to fruition. It's not a huge deal that neither has, as both planned to take in other schools before making any decision. Iowa is gunning for Zettel, and Beyer will visit Notre Dame for a junior day (as will Zettel, if I recall correctly). Both have been to Ann Arbor many times, and are still planning to make early decisions.
In more-ominous news, FL RB Demetrius Hart, long thought to be as close to a lock as possible, will make a decision soon - and the Wolverines are not in the running. He plans to choose between Auburn and Florida ($, info in header). Michigan's Rivals site says the Wolverines "have work to do" with him ($, info in header).
My take on the matter? It sucks, but what do you expect when the team has two consecutive losing seasons, there's a possibility of NCAA sanctions lurking, and the kid hasn't made it up to Michigan for any of his last 3 scheduled visits? If he makes it up for the spring game (now in doubt, obviously), Michigan gives themselves a chance to vault back into the race. Otherwise, Hart will commit to a school much closer to home.
On the other hand, he has longtime friend Ricardo Miller in Ann Arbor, and if his statements on Signing Day are any indication, Ricardo won't let his Wolverines lose a recruit without a fight. Even if Hart selects the Tigers or Gators, it may not signal the end of his recruitment, but there's still plenty of time to see how this will work out - especially if Rich Rodriguez's job security is solidified. Hart plans on taking five official visits even after his pending commitment-type activity, and Michigan will be one.
Sam Webb recaps the Michigan Football Showcase, at which MI WR DeAnthony Arnett and MI WR Commit Shawn Conway were two of the standout performers.
"[Arnett, pictured at right] went out and justified his high national ranking (Scout.com's No. 8 receiver in the country). He's silky smooth and one of the best double-move guys I've seen. He has great body control, fluidity and ball-tracking skills. He still needs to get stronger, but guys who try to press him have difficulties because he's so quick off the line and tough to get hands on."
"[Conway] came a little later in the day, but this Michigan commit made up for lost time," said Trieu. "He's every bit of his listed 6-3. He needs to add some weight but he has great athleticism and ball skills. I think he needs to refine his route running still, but he was more explosive than I was previously led to believe."
Conway pointed out IN CB Kenny Mullen as one of the best defenders in attendance, and Mullen said he hopes to hear more from the Wolverines. IL OL Christian Bryant, one of the more impressive campers at the event, has since publicly stated that he'd like a Michigan offer. A number of 2012 campers impressed as well. 2012 IL OL Jordan Diamond:
That's he already has been on Michigan's campus could provide an additional boost to a Wolverine recruitment that already held a bit of an early advantage. "It's been my favorite school since the sixth grade," Diamond said of Michigan. "I love it."
The impressive 2012 performances continued with a number of in-state guys:
Detroit Cass Tech teammates Terry Richardson and Royce Jenkins-Stone were among the top performers at cornerback and linebacker, respectively. Meanwhile, Detroit King tailback Dennis Northfleet and Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker James Ross were similarly impressive with their speed and quickness. Ross is currently commanding massive recruiting attention, and has already received offers from Michigan and Michigan State.
Ross will likely be the prospect we talk about most prior to the conclusion of his junior season. He and Diamond were the only 2012 prospects to make the combine's Top 13 Performers list. Allen Trieu has more on top performers in a free article on Scout. MGOBOARD BONUS: A few videos from the weekend.
At another combine of note, this one held by Nike in Massillon, Ohio, MI CB Commit Delonte Hollowell acquitted himself very well:
The ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, ran the shuttle run in 4.28 seconds, threw the power ball 39.5 feet and had a vertical jump of 33.6 inches. Hollowell also had a SPARQ Rating of 102.18, one of the highest at the combine.
If he continues to impress, it's likely that he'll end up a 4-star prospect. He's openly gunning for a spot in the Army All-American Game, and Rivals picked up a quote from him:
“It feels good to be committed to Michigan,” Hollowell said. “I have never felt better than when I committed to them. That is the best school right now for me. I don’t know about everyone else, but it is the best school for me right now.”
Sounds potentially ominous, though I don't think there's anything to be read into it. OH CB/Ath Doran Grant also did very well in Massillon:
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Watch List prospect ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, ran the shuttle run in 3.97 seconds, threw the power ball 37.5 feet and had a 41-inch vertical jump. Grant's 124.5 SPARQ was the highest of any athlete at any Nike combine this year.
He says Michigan State and Ohio State lead for his services.
A new, recruiting-focused, Michigan blog has come onto the scene lately, interviewing a number of Michigan prospects for the 2011 recruiting class. One such prospect is FL QB Kevin Sousa, who has a lot of positive things to say about the Wolverines:
He said if he were to be offered by Michigan he would "make them my number one choice" and that he "would love to be a Wolverine." He has been receiving mail from the Wolverines staff recently but hopes he or his mentor gets a visit or call from the staff sometime soon.
Don't get tooooo excited, as Sousa has said similar things to school-specific media outlets covering other universities as well, and did not mention Michigan in a video interview with ESPN. If he were to land in Ann Arbor, however, he'd be a valuable addition. He was All-Combine Honorable Mention at the Army Junior Combine, and the 1st-Team choice at quarterback for the Under Armour Combine in Orlando.
He did 20 reps on the bench press, almost unheard of for a quarterback, and his 4.8 laser time in the 40-yard dash was equally impressive considering Sousa's size -- 6-4, 220 -- and the fact that he had stretched his hamstring a bit during the run.
"Big Sousa, man .. I tell ya. He looked like a big stud out there," Waseem said.
As a relative newcomer to the sport of football (he was exclusively a soccer player until age 15), he's got lots of upside, and a bright future ahead of him. Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.
Michigan Sports Zone also has bunch on NJ Slot/RB/QB Miles Shuler, who holds a Michigan offer. They saw him at the New Jersey Badger Sports combine, where they came away impressed:
He is able to use his elite level speed to create separation from receivers. He is quick and shifty and can pivot without losing his top-end speed. Top corners at the event simply could not keep up with him. At one time he was double-teamed in the end zone and still came down with the TD. Shuler has "sticky hands" he is a consistent catcher with the ability to adjust to the ball and make a play.
That "elite speed" was also on display at a recent track meet, where he won the 55-meter dash with a 6.40-second mark. He's also run a 6.35-second time (best in the nation) this season. They also interviewed him at the event. ESPN was similarly impressed with Shuler's performance, as he owned the day's second-best SPARQ rating at 116.82. Michigan doesn't really need a slot this year but Shuler is a guy you make room for.
Other Creative Headline Involving New Kids On The Radar
Michigan has invited NV RB DaSean Martin to a spring Junior Day, though they haven't yet offered him. However, if he ends up garnering any bigtime offers, don't expect him to land anywhere other than Los Angeles:
"He told Kiffin, 'I'm your man. I will be coming here to play for you,'" said Bonanza coach Shawn Dupris, who accompanied Martin on the trip...
"I like everything there is about USC," Martin said. "It was fun going down there and meeting all of the coaches. It's a special place."
His only offer thus far is from Utah State, but he's bound to get more down the road:
He's regularly clocked at 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and has a vertical leap of 38 inches. Also, he squats a respectable 365 pounds and benches presses 265 pounds.
"DaSean is physically bigger, faster and stronger than other athletes," Dupris said. "He is a physical specimen."
Martin was named the Most Outstanding Athlete at the National Underclassman Combine as a sophomore and will get a chance to prove himself in late April at a Nike combine at USC. The invitation-only event is widely considered the premiere recruiting showcase on the West Coast.
As long as USC doesn't offer him, any big time schools to throw their hats in the ring might have a chance to grab this kid.
Michigan is showing interest in FL RB Chevelle Buie ($, info in header). The diminutive speedster, who could also play slot receiver, is thought to be leaning toward staying in-state.
Michigan is the only offer so far for FL WR Prince Holloway ($, info in header). In a year where they're only likely to take one slot, if any, an offer this early means that the coaches really like him.
Michigan has offered AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi. Hobbi is from Scottsdale, but attends a different high school (Saguaro) than did current Wolverines Craig Roh and Taylor Lewan, along with prospect AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena (Chaparral). Hobbi seems to be one of the hottest prospects in the west, picking up recent offers from UCLA, Notre Dame, and Washington.
According to TBO.com, Michigan has offered FL OL Tony Posada.TomVH says Michigan offered about a month ago, and shares Plant's team highlight video page, in which Posada is #75. Michigan is in Posada's top 3, and he hopes to visit Ann Arbor sometime this spring.
FL OL Zach DeBell plans to take a spring visit to Ann Arbor. He currently holds offers from Minnesota, FIU, and Central Florida.
IL OL Brian Bobek is considering a visit to Ann Arbor sometime this spring. He plans to make a decision before the summer, so Michigan's coaches had better hope he hits campus soon if they want to land him. From the same article, sleeper MI CB Alex Fine may head to Ann Arbor for the Night of Champions Junior Day this weekend.
IN OL Tony Springmann doesn't yet hold an offer, but he lists Michigan among his favorite schools, along with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Purdue. The last three have offered him.
FL OL Max Lang has been invited to Ann Arbor for a junior day.
I probably should have made this connection earlier, but I just found out that OH OL Chris Boles is the son of former Wolverine Tony Boles. Chris is a hell of a lot bigger than his pops (by about three inches and 120 pounds), but still loves Michigan. Should the Wolverines extend him an offer, it seems very likely he'd end up in blue. Wisconsin has already offered.
MD DT Kevin McReynolds is expecting an offer from Michigan soon, but plans to take his time making a decision:
"... My whole thing is I can only understand a de-commitment from the standpoint of a coach leaving or getting fired. Just to de-commit because you change your feelings, I don't think that's right....
"It's something you've got to think about every day because it's somewhere where you're going to spend the next four to five years of your life," he said. "Forget the next four, it could affect the next 40 years of my life."
Michigan would join OSU and USC among his biggest offers to date, along with the likes of Maryland, Kansas State, North Carolina, NC State, Illinois, New Mexico, and UTEP. Penn State also seems like a strong contender for McReynolds should they choose to offer. One of the reasons he likes Penn State is that they're a strong academic school, which certainly bodes well for Michigan's chances, especially since he intends to major in business.
Michigan has offered VA DT Corey Marshall.
OH DT/DE Kevin Williams is likely one of Michigan's top targets in the class of 2011, and he comes in for the Sam Webb profile treatment in the Detroit News. His coach certainly thinks he's one hell of a player:
"I knew he was special. I was telling people that he could have started at the University of Toledo as a junior in high school. My buddy (former high school teammate and current Nebraska head coach) Bo Pelini said he reminded him a little bit of Glenn Dorsey, who he coached at LSU. That's what people were kind of comparing this kid to. It's unbelievable when you watch such a good athlete. We also tried him on offense. He had 15 catches, three touchdowns. He's just an athlete."
Like, woah. High praise from a couple guys who might know. He grew up a fan of several schools (most notably Notre Dame, Michigan, and Michigan State), and wants to major in engineering. Williams plans to make a decision early enough to enroll at his school of choice in January.
OH DE Brad Carrico has Michigan among his top four schools, though he doesn't hold an offer from the Wolverines (he does have tenders from Notre Dame and Purdue, who are also on his list of favorites). From the same article, OH WR Devin Smith is favoring Michigan and Michigan State.
He's still only hearing from Michigan, but FL LB Kent Turene has picked up scholarship offers from Minnesota and Texas A&M recently.
Michigan has offered PA LB Ben Kline ($, info in header).
NJ DB Ronald Baines doesn't have any offers, but is hearing from Michigan, and he visited for one of Michigan's Junior Days earlier this spring.
Michigan has offered PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett. He plans to take his time before making any sort of decision.
NC QB Christian LeMay has once again updated his top 10 list, and Michigan is still not on it. He's making an early decision, so I think that's enough evidence to remove him from the recruiting board.
Fellow TX OL Garrett Greenlea, who was holding a Michigan offer, committed to Texas at their second junior day.
MI LB Lawrence Thomas, surprising nobody, committed to Michigan State last week. He was considered a near-lock to the Spartans, and that has come to fruition.
With no true recruiting update last week, MN CB James Farrow didn't even get a proper introduction before he heads somewhere else. He had a strong performance at the Michigan Football Showcase, but returned home and decided he wants to play for the Gophers, as did his father before him.
NJ LB Anthony Sarao committed to Stanford. He wasn't a hot prospect for Michigan.
Scout freebie on OH DE Bryan Baird. He's talking to Michigan, but any potential offer would probably be long down the road, as a backup plan. OH OL Matt Skura plans to visit Michigan a couple times, but doesn't yet have an offer. OH OL/DE Jack Miller visited Ann Arbor for the second junior day. AZ QB Brett Hundley is hearing from Michigan. Scout article on OH S Ronald Tanner tries to use a scare-tactic header that he's bound for Ohio State. He plans to commit early, but doesn't have a leader. No offer, but IL OL Patrick Flavin still has Michigan among his favorites. Michigan has offered 2012 MD RB Deontay McManus (HT: Bleed Scarlet). MD DT Darian Cooper is hearing from Michigan. FL S Steven Montgomery is hearing from Michigan.
Hello: Dave Brandon. Another media flurry with Dave Brandon's official ascension to the top job in the Michigan athletic department. Here's a jerko on Fox business acting all jerky:
I feel like that fat X-Wing pilot… "stay on messsage. Stay on message. Roghbaobahraraha"
Anyway, there were a ton of articles mostly rehashing what we already know about Brandon or reflecting on Bill Martin's tenure. There are a few relevant new quotes. The first is undoubtedly a response to a "what does Rodriguez have to do to not get fired?" question:
“Much like your boss, there’s a lot of different things you look at,” he told AnnArbor.com last month. “Certainly you need to see progress and some of that’s measured by wins and losses, but it’s also measured a lot of other ways. And when I’m in a position where I can evaluate as closely as I need to and I want to, all those metrics and all those measures will be clear between the coach and me.”
Brandon backed his coach then and on Monday reiterated his support for Rodriguez.
"He's our coach for this season," Brandon said. "There's nothing within the framework of the NCAA allegations that led me to believe that it should change his status as our coach."
Some people are making a deal out of Brandon explicitly stating "this season," interpreting it as an implicit threat. FWIW, I interpreted it as a way to avoid questions about Rodriguez getting fired in August or October or whatever. No one can scurry off to write an article about Rodriguez getting canned once Michigan goes in front of the committee.
Birkett asked some excellent questions that got stuck in a sidebar-type object. Advertising in Michigan Stadium? Very likely not:
"When I was a regent and this subject came up, we went out and did pretty qualified, professional, third-party research on the views of our fans, our season-ticket holders, the people who are the most important to us in terms of paying customers of the game-day experience at Michigan Stadium. And the research I saw at that time caused me to conclude that the thing that was the most objectionable, the thing that turned off the fan the most, was the idea that they would come to a football game and they would be blasted with advertising. ... I think it was Sam Walton who said if you don’t know what to do ask your customer. I asked my customers a lot before I make these kinds of decisions, and at least the last time I looked at the data our customers would tell us that they really didn’t want to go there and so I think we should be very, very careful and sensitive to that."
Unfortunately, Brandon is an anti-playoff luddite, but no one's perfect.
The city that time forgot. It's Toledo! I have no idea what the header is supposed to mean. Fearless Leader headed across the border into Toledo to speak at the National Football Foundation dinner, and he brought his zingers. Don't take my word for it, listen to the Blade's Ryan Autullo:
“It's good to be invited anywhere,” Rodriguez said, in the first of several zingers that drew laughter from the crowd.
Zingers. You see, Rudy? Part of that article is an interview with Rodriguez that hints at some maturity issues with Tate Forcier last year:
"I've told Tate as you get older I'm going to expect more out of you. I really think he's done a great job in the weight room the last six or seven weeks, but that's not an issue for him as far as commitment to football. It's everything that's encompasses being a UM athlete. Tate went through some freshmen trials with that and now it's time for him to grow up and go.”
"With that?" I could just be imagining things but that seems to be an indication that Forcier was somewhat less than dedicated at points last year. Supporting evidence: the Facebook explosion that led to the gut-churning week of transfer rumors. There's not a whole lot else that's new, but this is… odd to contemplate:
How would you describe your relationship with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel?
“We've got a great relationship. We got to know each other a few years back at various functions. Apparel companies will send you on a little week's vacation — the coaches and their spouses — so we got to know each other there."
Also, Orson responds to a Rodriguez quote on the media coverage of his program. First, Rodriguez being diplomatic:
The media coverage of your program has been tough. In your opinion, has it been fair?
"That's an interesting question. I've never really thought about it much. You understand it's part of the job. A lot of people say there's so much more media coverage [at UM] but really, at West Virginia, we had quite a bit of media coverage, and good media coverage.
Orson then brings down the thunder:
"Did RichRod just not grant us superiority over the West Virginia media?" Ann Arbor Media Scrutiny Force, assemble and strike for the Fourth Estate! <---most inflated sense of self-importance in any small media market ever and that includes Alabama football media oh yeah bitch you read that right. Rich Rodriguez has been appropriating office supplies at a breakneck, reckless pace AND WE HAVE FILM!
Final aerial. I really think these tempo-free aerials should be centered on the league average instead of 1.00, because this sort of looks like Michigan is totally average at everything:
They're not. Remarkably, Michigan's actually much better on defense than offense in the Kenpom numbers and I assume that a conference-only Kenpom would be even better since Michigan's early attempts to roll out the 1-3-1 were totally disastrous and the thing was scrapped entirely by the time conference play rolled around. The offense did not undergo any similar improvement, though Minnesota fans will be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I bet a dollar Michigan's two inexplicable outbursts against the Gophers are a major reason they're underwater defensively, and headed for the NIT despite checking in at a strong-for-the-bubble 35 in the Kenpom rankings. I'd feel bad for them except that "eeeeeh Gophers" cheer is irritating.
The next 2010, for now. Yost Built summarizes some recent recruiting news. The biggest item is news that spectacularly-named Ontario forward Matia Marcantuoni will definitely end up at Michigan if he heads to college. Marcantuoni is a potential #1 OHL draft pick and would team with Boo Nieves to make Michigan' early 2012 recruting class a spectacular one both on the ice and the back of the jersey. That goes double since Michigan is apparently hot after goalie Dalton Izyk in the same class. Izyk is a Nieves teammate and was the #1 goalie at the Select 15 camp this fall.
In re: Izyk and a couple other goalie names for down the road, Yost Built asks this question:
Izyk is an early-94 as well. Assuming he'd be scheduled to come in in 2012, that brings up an interesting issue: Would you go for a goalie for 2010, have him compete with Hogan as a freshman, start as a sophomore, and then compete with your youngster as a junior and senior, or would you roll with what we've got again next year and hope to get the kid to accelerate and come in as the starter in 2011?
That answer seems totally obvious to me: get a goalie this year and leave Hypothetical 2012 Goalie in the class of 2012. Goalies are erratic, tough to predict, and develop slowly. The last guy Michigan brought in early was Billy Sauer, who was flat bad his first two years (.898 and .896) before dropping a damn good junior year (.924) that ended with Nickelback and Creed in the Frozen Four. Hogan won the job as a sophomore, but even so Sauer's save percentage in 13 games as a senior was 0.921. Hogan had a .914.
Instead of going the Sauer route again, I'd much rather bring in a guy right now and have two viable goalies on the roster next year in case Hogan does not rebound from his poor play, have a sophomore in 2011, and then real competition past that. There are two good to excellent prospects out there in Jeff Teglia, the save percentage leader in the USHL, and probable mid-round NHL draft pick Joel Vienneau of the OPJHL. Neither is Jack Campbell but both have better pedigrees than Hogan, who had a save percentage of .889 on a good USHL team (they were 27-13-3 with Hogan in net and only gave up 25 shots per game; Teglia's team gives up 29) and did not get drafted. If Michigan can get either one of them, they definitely should.
Oy. Really? We divert you from your regularly-scheduled Free Press bashing for this from the News's Terry Foster:
Wolverine fans were thrilled that Beilein finally got Michigan into the tournament and acted like that was some major accomplishment. It isn't. If you are in the Big Ten you should have at least a 50 percent chance of making the tournament.
Meanwhile Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Oakland University and of course Michigan State have all played in NCAA tournament games since Michigan last did.
That's true for one of those schools, actually, and is something you mentioned in the previous paragraph. But thanks for playing. BONUS:
Sims will probably leave after this season and it will be interested to see what a frustrated Harris does.
What say you, page 25 of a Google image search for "fail"?
There's tossed off nonsense and there's a total ignorance of many things, including Michigan basketball and time.
(HT: Maize n Brew.)
The Postseason Before The Postseason
The Big Ten Tournament walks a weird line between being the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason. It also happens to be Michigan's only chance to, like, make the postseason (they do not plan to accept a CBI bid if they don't make the NIT). In Round 1, Michigan faces off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the 8/9 game, with a rubber match against Ohio State lurking if they should advance. Your full bracket, from the Big Ten:
To make the NCAA Tournament, the tall order of defeating Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Purdue or Michigan State seems to be necessary. Basically what I'm saying is that there are only a couple basketball games left this season, so try to enjoy them.
Lists: We Is On Them
"We" being only DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris, of course. The Official Big Ten All-Conference honorees include DeShawn Sims as a Second-Team selection and Manny Harris as a Third-Team nod. Manny was named to the official First-Team squad in the preseason. Ohio State's Evan Turner was named the conference POTY.
Other outlets making lists include the Big Ten Network's Big Ten Geeks, whose squad (first team only, plus freshman of the year) includes no Wolverines (HT: UMHoops). The outstanding Michigan State (durr: oxymoron, durr) blog The Only Colors determines the Big Ten players who are most valuable based on PORPAG, whatever that means. Points Over Replacement Player Per Adjusted Game decrees that DeShawn Sims is worthy of his Second-Team consideration, and Manny Harris was one of the great disappointments in the Big Ten this year. Players of note:
|Big Ten PORPAG|
|1||John Shurna (NU)||4.41|
|2||Jason Bohannon (UW)||3.96|
|3||Robbie Hummel (Pur)||3.75|
|4||Evan Turner (OSU)||3.59|
|5||Demetri McCamey (Ill)||3.23|
The stat is imperfect - it only covers offense, and defensive rebounding is one of Manny's great strengths - but it indicates that he has a lot of offensive work to do, and would probably be better-served by staying in college for his final season.
You'll notice that the search box has migrated down from the header to the right sidebar, where it slightly displaces the diaries and board. I've moved the site over to a Google-powered search that is a thousand times more useful than Drupal's defaults.
You'll also note a "Refine" section right under your results. Right now there's just one option that will provide you only message board posts. If anyone has suggestions for other potentially useful refinements, let me know and I'll try to implement them.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson.
|Youngstown, Ohio - 5'10" 178
|Scout||3*, #103 S|
|ESPN||2*, 68, #270 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Wisconsin, Kent State, Bowling Green, Air Force|
|Commitment post. Brief interview with Tom.|
|Notes||Cardinal Mooney puts out a lot of talent every year.|
Ray Vinopal is the second member of Michigan's Rodney Dangerfield duo at safety, a two-star who was a surprise commitment at a time when Michigan had considerably higher-rated prospects on the board. Rich Rodriguez took some time to defend his new deep safety on signing day:
I hope people don't get too hung up in stars. I don't know what Ray's star rating was. Ray Vinopal I think is -- you know, valuable a recruit as anybody we have, because of what we've seen and what we think he's going to bring to the table. And I'm very excited about Ray. He's a guy, again, that kind of came out of nowhere in some people's minds, but not in ours. Tony Gibson did an outstanding job of reciting Ray.
It's more of the same when it comes to gurus and the players and the quotes and the laven:
Vinopal said he doesn’t put much stock in Internet evaluations of his play, either.
“I use it as motivation,” he said. “I know what I can do, the coaches obviously know what I can do, that’s why they offered me. I mean, it’s Michigan and the Big Ten, they’re not throwing out offers because they want to be nice. There’s a reason behind it.”
There is also a reason that the internet folks are down on Johnson. The common thread running through Vinopal's evaluations is a lack of athleticism. ESPN's mostly negative take:
Lacks desired length and height as a high-point safety as well. He is an active run defender who will come down and fill hard; provides good secondary support. Shows adequate closing burst and makes solid contact as a tackler with better-than-adequate pop. Overall underneath range and speed is good but he does not fill with great downhill burst and sharp angles; loses outside leverage on the ball at times. … Lacks quick diagnosing and reaction skills which is a concern. Not a guy who projects well playing down over the top of slots in man coverage schemes and feel he could struggle mirroring/breaking down on quicker skill players in space.
At the time of his commitment I compared him to Jordan Kovacs; Touch The Banner also referenced Kovacs in its scouting report. Again with the small/slow bits:
And that's the problem I have with the Vinopal offer and commitment. When I watch him, I don't see a whole lot to fix. He's pretty technically sound. He reads plays well, he accelerates well, and you can see that he goes full-speed. He goes all out . . . and I'm still not impressed. He's not a great tackler. He's not extremely fast. He's going to get overpowered in the run game, outrun in open space, and outjumped in the passing game. When he gets to full speed, his running form goes completely out of whack, although that's something that may be able to be fixed.
Even folks who are trying to talk up Vinopal's potential tend to mention his general failure to be Adrian Peterson:
"Ray's a kid that when you look at him, he's always going to be underestimated because he's not as athletic as most of the Division I safeties probably are. But Cardinal Mooney guys are pretty darn successful. If you look at a guy like Kyle McCarthy at Notre Dame, he's probably not as big, as fast or as athletic as any other defensive back there [at ND] but he led them in tackles each of the past two seasons.
"Ray Vinopal could be similarly productive, and he has more speed than McCarthy."
I'm on the record as a big Kyle McCarthy fan—he and David Bruton were everything Michigan safeties were not the last couple years—but while McCarthy just put up a 4.65 at the NFL combine he also finished second amongst safeties in the bench press, three-cone drill, and shuttle. McCarthy is a big, athletic guy who happens to be a little slow. Vinopal is a considerably smaller player who many people knock for his lack of athleticism.
On the other hand, there are some indicators that Vinopal is actually pretty fast. He is a member of Mooney's state championship 4x100m relay that has won back-to-back state titles and will go for a third this spring. As a freshman in a (no doubt hand-timed and still probably FAKE) 4.5 40 at an underclass camp. He claimed a 4.41 electronic time to Sam Webb on signing day.
Afterwards, Vinopal was getting a ton of letters from all over, but none of them materialized into offers save for scattered MAC teams and service academies until Michigan stepped in. Wisconsin said he was "definitely an offer guy" after he hit their summer camp, and on Signing Day Vinopal did claim a late Badger offer. Other than that, the BCS was indifferent. Notre Dame brought him in for a visit and was considering an offer, as were BC and Pitt, but Michigan short-circuited that by picking up his commitment.
So. Previously I explained my bullishness on Carvin Johnson despite his who-dat status. Vinopal doesn't have any of those same indicators except maybe the late offers, and Vinopal's only got the one from Wisconsin. That doesn't match Johnson's three or four from programs like Tennessee. Vinopal got a small bump from Scout after committing to Michigan but actually lost ground at Scout. Rivals was unmoved. And there's no one out there other than Vinopal's coach…
“He is extremely physical, extremely explosive,” Fecko said. “He did some things where there were some balls, fades thrown up along the sideline, and it looked like they were going to be a completion and he was coming across just smacking people, dislodging footballs. A great run-stopper that was a sure tackler, and when he had his chance to lay a lick on you he definitely did.”
…saying the kid is someone who should have grabbed more attention.
Now… I feel bad, right? I read articles in which Vinopal or Johnson says stuff about people not liking them or needing to prove people wrong and I think that I am a person who they believe needs to be proven wrong—needed to, in Johnson's case. But the goal of this series is to assemble information and guess, and the information assembled doesn't paint a picture of a major contributor.
However, it is just a guess, and Michigan's long, inglorious history at safety is significantly crappier than, say, Wisconsin's. Or Iowa's. Or a whole section of Big Ten teams that put out good defenses with guys you've never even heard of. So maybe Rodriguez and company found a guy who can be Tyler jimmer-jammin' Sash. It's possible. McCarthy, an extremely successful college safety from Mooney, was a meh 5.5 three star to Rivals. These things are not stone.
Why Brandent Englemon? Small two-star safety who had poor other offers and average athleticism. Englemon is sort of a default comparison. And it should be noted that Englemon's presence in the program was a positive. He was an off-and-on starter.
Guru Reliability: High. Cardinal Mooney never lacks for attention and this year they had a big time running back in Braylon Heard, who ended up going to Nebraska, so Vinopal was thoroughly scouted. He was healthy throughout high school, too.
General Excitement Level: Low. If there's ever going to be a low, it's got to be a guy with Vinopal's offers and rankings.
Projection: Well. If Vinopal is ready he will play from day one. I don't think anyone expects that to happen since everyone on the roster will have more experience or better rankings. A redshirt seems likely and then a couple years of special teams time, at which point he'll have an opportunity to start as an upperclassman if he develops.
While North Carolina isn't quite the Goliath they have been in the past, Michigan did have to go into Chapel Hill and face the #12 team in the nation with what's been a suspect offense at best. It didn't turn out all that well. Michigan was swept on the weekend, losing two extremely close games on Friday and Saturday, and was blown out on Sunday to fall to 4-7 on the season.
Starting pitching on Saturday and Sunday just wasn't good enough to compete with the Tarheels, but there was some life shown by the offense.
Full Recaps and Series Thoughts after the jump
(photo to right from minervacat's photo stream)