a terrible blight on our fine country
Will Campbell flew down to the Army All-American game yesterday and dropped a bomb on Michigan fans:
Although Campbell still denies a leader and maintains he favors Miami, Michigan, LSU, Alabama and Florida, in-state favorite Michigan now seems like a long shot. "I'm really looking to get away from here," Campbell said. "I liked my other visits and I'm thinking of seeing something new. I'm thinking about leaving Michigan."
He repeated this to a number of other people (one example); it's no fluke. Commence red alert and all that, OMG death etc etc etc. Then last night mods on the premium sites started posting items that ranged from cautiously suggesting Michigan probably isn't 100% out to "Campbell is coming to Michigan, but I will use my infuriating pidgin to communicate this."
The great hope here is that Campbell is attempting to add drama to a recruitment long considered a foregone conclusion even before a William Campbell showed up in the Michigan directory on the same day Tate Forcier, Vincent Smith, and the rest of Michigan's early-enrolling squad of folks did.
Is this a plausible hope? Eh… maybe. The Campbell recruitment is different than that of Nick Perry or Ronald Johnson. There was never any consensus on Perry's destination. Johnson was supposedly a Michigan lock but that information was solely provided by moderators at the premium sites and never had any outside corroboration. In Campbell's case we've had reports from random people about conversations with Campbell or his teammates or people close to the situation that indicated he was coming to Michigan. There's a ton of evidence out there, and even if that "evidence" is the shaky anonymous internet variety it's prolific enough that it seems credible.
But it's really hard to look direct quotes in the face and conclude they mean nothing. If Campbell was looking to inject drama into his decision, he's succeeded.
FYI: If you need that sweet, sweet content there are a couple recruiting posts below this one.
So I got two MGoChristmas images in the inbox. One is some serious M dedication:
(Click for big.)
And the other, well:
(If you need some background on this check out the Vicious Electronic Questioning with Brian Stouffer. And sit down. And maybe hire a lawyer.)
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a second quarterback recruit in the 2009 recruiting class. See you on the 29th.
Update 12/22: Linked to articles on OH CB Mike Edwards, SC DE Sam Montgomery, LA DE Bennie Logan, TX WR Josh Gordon, FL DE Pernell McPhee, MI DT Will Campbell, AZ OL commit Taylor Lewan, video of NC OL Travis Bond. Pictures of Justin Turner's Army Bowl press conference.
Added OH OL Henry Conway, FL LB Willie Ferrell, LA WR Travante Stallworth.
Removed VA OL Morgan Moses, LA WR Rueben Randle, FL S Angelo Handley (UNC), MD DE Jason Ankrah (Neb), TX QB Shavodrick Beaver.
2010 stuff: article on MI WR Baquer Sayed.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. We've discussed the fallout from the Beaver decommitment in a post earlier today; now onto the rest of the story.
Minor panic over the past week because Will Campbell wasn't talking much after his visit to Florida combined with minor panic about the effect of Scott Shafer's departure on defensive recruits, particularly Campbell teammate and safety commit Thomas Gordon, to create moderate indigestion on the part of Michigan fans who pay a little too much attention to recruiting. (Guilty as charged.)
Some antacid for your ulcers. Here's Campbell on the Shafer departure:
"It really doesn't affect me because my defensive line coach is still there," Campbell said, speaking of U-M assistant Bruce Tall, who also attended the banquet. "It also doesn't affect me at all because I don't know where I'm going. Even if I was still committed there, it probably wouldn't make a difference because my coach is still there."
To summarize in three words: good… bad… okay.
Also, on Sam Webb's Friday recruiting podcast he mentioned having talked to Campbell and did not get a vibe to be worried about. Campbell's final official visit took place over the weekend at Miami; he decides January 3rd at an All-Star game.
There's been a lot of gushing about Taylor Lewan behind paywalls, and while there's always a lot of gushing on the premium sites after anyone commits this particular gushing has a different tenor than most. ESPN's released some gushing of its own to the plebes, so take a look:
Lewan's development into a top-15 offensive tackle has been nothing short of amazing. We feel Michigan is getting an offensive lineman with perhaps the best upside we have seen at the position in recent years. The coach who helped mold him into the upper-echelon positional prospect he is today agrees.
"He's as good athletically as any guy I have ever coached," Ragle said. "The thing that makes him so special is his upside when you think he's only been coached at the position for about eight months. But the one intangible that's most impressive is his nastiness --Taylor wants to bury someone on every play, and you can't coach that."
This praise has gone above and beyond the run of the mill stuff I've seen in a half-dozen years with the recruiting sickness, and the bolded praise above comes from an entirely neutral observer at Scouts, Inc., not one of the guys on Michigan's premium sites*. Lewan's obviously got some weight and technique work to do, which is the reason he trails a number of other prospects at tackle despite having that upside; he's a guy to get excited about anyway.
*(This is not to say a guy like Josh Helmholdt won't give it to you straight about a prospect, but it's natural to be a little skeptical of fawning praise from someone affiliated with a school site.)
Back to Stallworth.
You're not alone if you got a Michigan vibe from Tom VanHaaren's interview with LA WR Travante Stallworth. A number of Auburn recruits committed to the Tigers with the idea they'd be playing in Tony Franklin's "Spread Eagle" offense, among them Stallworth, and they can't like the sound of this:
That could change when Chizik hires an offensive coordinator. Chizik emphasized his plans to re-establish a smashmouth brand of offense at Auburn.
The previous regime recruited most of the offensive recruits to run the spread offense. There are three specific players that could struggle to run a more traditional offense - receivers Brandon Heavens, LaVoyd James and Travante Stallworth. All three are 5-foot-10, and none weigh more than 180 pounds.
Geez, newspaper guy, way to call out specific kids and tell them they're not fits for their current commitments. Tiger fans appreciate it, I'm sure.
A relevant passage from Stallworth's interview:
TRAVANTE: Well, they [Auburn] fired the staff too, and I was real close to the TE/WR coach. I haven’t talked to anybody from Auburn since. My recruiting coordinator got fired, but he called me yesterday. That’s the only person I’ve talked to.
TOM: So what schools are you most interested in right now?
TRAVANTE: I’m highly interested in Michigan, I’m real interested in South Carolina, and I’m kind of interested in TCU.
Stallworth allows for the possibility of a commitment on a visit, and sounds like one of the better citizens available this recruiting cycle. He's a three-star guy to Scout and Rivals, but ESPN gives him an 80 (equivalent to a mid-to-high four star) and has high praise for him. He'd be a good pickup in the slot, which could use another player now that RB has taken a couple hits and a guy like Teric Jones might see his future in the backfield.
The other other guy who catches the ball.
TX WR Josh Gordon's story is a weird one: he, along with Bryce McNeal, was the best wideout at last year's Army All-America combine according to Rivals. He then repeatedly, publicly stated he wanted a Michigan offer and would commit if he got one. Then he got two stars from the recruiting services and started talking about Baylor. No, Baylor:
"It was real nice," Gordon said. "I was actually really surprised by how nice it was. They have real good facilities and everything was state-of-the-art, which I wasn't expecting. I didn't think it'd be that good of a football environment, but I guess this is the "new" Baylor they said."
Can you dance at "new" Baylor? Probably not. And Josh Gordon loves dancing. Anyway, with Michigan in search of an outside receiver sort they're getting back in Gordon's recruitment:
"I'm getting an in-home visit from some (Michigan) coaches this week," he said.
"I like Michigan because they are rebuilding their offense and have been recruiting me a lot more lately," he said. "I think I'd have a good chance to play early there and get the offense there going."
Gordon says he hopes that Michigan offers next week because he doesn't plan on waiting for the Wolverines much longer. "If they offer me this week then great," he said. "I'll take a visit there and see what it's like. If not, I'm just gonna focus on the ones I have offers from and move on."
That was a week ago and there's been no update on whether he got that offer, or indication he'll visit. Could be off the radar because of Christmas and all that; he'll be a guy to watch in the new year. I'll be interested to see how his recruitment, and his career, play out.
It appears that Glenville cornerback Mike Edwards has given up on the idea of an Ohio State offer:
While Edwards was impressed with his Cincinnati visit, he said he will at least make official visits to Michigan and Tennessee before selecting a college. Edwards has scholarship offers on the table from those three schools as well as Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and others. If he were to land an offer from Ohio State he would definitely visit the Buckeyes.
So that's top three for Edwards, a borderline four-star at a position of need. I'm still skeptical anyone from Glenville will sign with Michigan until Ted Ginn Sr is elsewhere.
Etc.: JUCO FL DE Pernell McPhee did not sign yet.
This was going to be a part of Monday Recruitin' but deserves its own post.
So: we're down to one quarterback commit. Rodriguez has a month or so to latch on to another one, though, and a number of attractive targets:
VA QB Tajh Boyd originally committed to West Virginia, but decommitted during WVU's season, probably right after he saw the Bill Stewart Face. He then committed to Tennessee only for Lane Kiffin to say "seeya" as soon as he took the helm. Since he got back on the market he visited Ohio State, generating strong rumors of a future commitment, and plans on visiting Oregon.
Can Michigan get in on a guy they were never really involved with in the first place? They'll certainly try. It might not matter much; ironically given the circumstances of his Tennessee situation, Boyd decommitted WVU in search of a place that would throw the ball more and (hypothetically) better prepare him for the NFL. Can Rodriguez convince him he's interested in throwing the ball more? You'd think so given that his other two quarterbacks are Threet and Forcier, but public perception is hard to change.
Damage to the class if M picks him up: Negative. Boyd his higher rated by everyone.
Chance M picks him up: Seems a long shot at this point. M can really sell opportunity here, though.
FL QB Eugene Smith is currently committed to West Virginia, so you know he must like the offense. He was on the board for a long time even after the Beaver/Newsome commits, and then still remained on the board after the Newsome/Forcier swap. He's got a longstanding relationship with the Michigan staff—I believe Calvin Magee is the main guy—and kind-of sort-of seemed to be favoring Michigan at points despite the scholarship situation. Then he committed to WVU a month ago.
Could he be open? Well, yes. Smith told a West Virginia radio program this when he announced his commitment:
I don't want to say I'm shutting the door completely. It will all come in due time. Wait till things get settled down and get my grades.
If Smith's door remains open and the vibe he gave off earlier is any indication… well, it's not like that state's opinion of Michigan could get any worse. One possible hindrance: FL WR Steadman Bailey—briefly a Michigan recruit in the summer—is also a WVU commit. But, uh, we've got a spot at outside WR, kid.
This is 100% speculation, but I got a weird Forcier-like feeling during Smith's recruitment; he obviously liked Michigan quite a bit. If he liked it as much as Forcier he would have leapt on an offer earlier, so this is no slam dunk. Still… I would not be surprised if Smith popped up on the radar again and took a visit.
Damage to the class if M picks him up: also negative. Smith is higher rated by everyone, too.
Chance M picks him up: Extremely strong for a guy currently committed to another school, or "not very good at all but we've got a shot." If Smith decides to take a visit I think we've got a pretty solid chance.
MD QB Raymond Cotton is an Auburn decommit mighty displeased by the Chizik hire. Michigan was not involved with him before his commitment, but, hey, I just broke up with my girlfriend what a coincidence you just broke up with your boyfriend do you want to grind on the dance floor here sign this it's a LOI.
Four-star quarterback lists Ole Miss on top
That's the headline of a Rivals article in the aftermath of his decommit, albeit one written a couple days before the Atomic Beaver detonated. Arkansas and Southern Miss are also up high; this guy has the geographical preferences of a guy from Georgia, not Maryland.
Damage to the class if M picks him up: Not insignificant but minor. Cotton's a guy on the three/four star edge and Beaver was generally better regarded. He's good enough to be a viable option, though.
Chance M picks him up: No idea. He's floating out there and Michigan's got an attractive spot open, but he seems set on the SEC.
FL QB Denard Robinson is current uncommitted and may be more of an athlete recruit than a quarterback. Florida and Georgia are both competing for his services but plan to bring him in as a WR/DB and I know you're thinking "ack Feagin can't throw" right now but Robinson is on another level as a recruit. He's a member of the Rivals 250, their second-fastest "athlete" prospect, a member of the ESPN 150…
Robinson and ATH Brandon McGee could be twins in this class as both are about 5'11, very athletic, quick and actually very accomplished passers, but it will take the right offense and coaching staff to commit to them as QB's as opposed to making the move to corner or wide receiver.
…and a four-star cornerback to Scout.
Florida has long been rumored the leader, and the Gators have offered him at quarterback. How honest is that QB offer? Eh… fairly legit, actually. Though Florida already has a QB commit in this class they did not take a QB last year and one of the two they took in 2006, Cameron Newton, is in hot water for stealing (and chucking) some kid's laptop.
Robinson really wants that QB shot and a early playing time. He's serious enough about both that he plans on visiting UCF in January; he will also visit Michigan. West Virginia is another candidate.
Damage to the class if M picks him up: Minimal. Robinson's 6-foot tops and probably not even that so is less of a true QB prospect than Beaver, but a QB offer from Florida is a QB offer from Florida is a QB offer from Florida.
Chance M picks him up: Not good; Florida seems the likely destination. One positive: he's taken his official to Florida and came back uncommitted.
Before you ask: yes, TX QB Tyrik Rollison is a top-100 recruit to Rivals and is a dual threat quarterback floating around uncommitted—you may remember him as the QB who was Not Beaver in the Beaver game televised on ESPN2 this fall—but at last update he had an offer from Colorado State and maybe Baylor and definitely not Oklahoma State. What does this say? It says "very unlikely to qualify" in big flashing red letters. I'm hoping that's not the case and Michigan gets involved; that doesn't seem probable.
There are a couple of uncommitted guys listed as dual threat quarterbacks in the Big Ten area: Dolapo Macarthy is from Merrillville, Indiana, and has an Iowa offer; Darren Jones is from Illinois and has offers from Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Both are three stars.
None of the four guys listed above seems likely. The chances any of the four commits to Michigan are below 50%, and probably below 35%. Then you're vaguely hoping Michigan gets involved with a guy from Texas who may not qualify or down to three star sorts. I'd take a three star sort, but let's not kid ourselves: this decommit is likely to significantly downgrade the results at the most important position in the class.
Right, so that is Shavodrick Beaver's myspace and he's been flat-out lying to the mods at Rivals and Scout:
Tulsa received a quarterback commitment Friday afternoon when Shavodrick Beaver announced he'd sign at the University of Tulsa.
Beaver, a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder, is from Wichita Falls (Texas) Rider High School,and has been ranked the eighth-best quarterback in the country by rivals.com.
Beaver had given a commitment to the University of Michigan, but switched to TU after a home visit by TU coach Todd Graham.
This seems like completely farfetched crap, but Rivals has an article with quotes($) up, too. WTF? This one really bothers me because for months Beaver's been called up and has said things like "I'm ten thousand percent committed!" Man up and admit you're wavering.
Michigan now needs to scramble for a second quarterback in the class. They've been recruiting FL QB Denard Robinson and may look to get involved with WVU/Tennessee decommit Tajh Boyd; expect Eugene Smith to get a phone call, too.
in percentages (or, better yet, in ± with a baseline of 5), how much is Scott Shafer's departure reflective of a poor fit as DC (and thus a tacit admission by Rodriguez that he was an unsatisfactory hire) vs. being indicative of the first the first flowering of potential panic by Rodriguez in the face of booster/fan/media displeasure (a la Auburn & Tony Franklin, as you've illustrated) on a scale that he was unprepared for. Please discuss.
Ninety percent "poor fit as DC." The Purdue game, which came when the team was 2-6 and had given up 35 points in three of the last four games, with the other game against Toledo, seemed like a breaking point. Michigan installed the 3-3-5, saw it backfire spectacularly, and from there the rift had formed and it was not repaired.
I put very little credence in the idea that coaches give half, or even a tenth, of a damn about what's said about them in the media or amongst fans. That's only relevant at the point where you get dragged into the athletic director's office and he says "some assistants go or you do." Michigan is a school that gave Tommy Amaker six years and would have let Lloyd Carr return for as long as he pleased no matter what happened against Ohio State: ultimatums did not happen.
Brian, you've probably already addressed this, but if 2005 was the Year of Infinite Pain, what was 2008?
I'm partial to the construction adopted by Auburn fans: 2008=DEATH.
Various questions on recruiting, all from one email:
How does the amount of verbal decommits stack up to other programs? This has to be a somewhat common occurrence throughout the country?
How does the number of decommits this year compare to other years under Carr? Or is this more than UM is used to?
I realize every UM fan in the blogosphere overreacts & is shocked when a kid decommits, but don't you think the coaching staff rates each verbal commit differently? When Newsome committed, I hope the coaching staff had him as a "soft" commit & were not shocked when he dropped us? As opposed to say when a Thomas Gordon committed - they coaches would have to believe this is a rock solid commit. I would think the coaches know what kids are not yet 100%, even thought they gave a verbal & still need some recruiting.sadf
Don't some verbal commitments nowadays constitute a "leader in the clubhouse" for a lot of kids?
- Newsome: not at all. Michigan replaced Newsome with an equivalent prospect in Tate Forcier. (Newsome started the recruiting cycle ranked way high but has dropped steadily since; he didn't even start for Hargrave this year.)
- Fera: little. Michigan replaced Fera with a near-equivalent in Brendan Gibbons. Also: kickers are crapshoots.
- Barnes: little. Guy is a three-star who is probably going to end up at Purdue for lack of better offers. Michigan can get a dozen of those kinds of players.
- McNeal: considerable. McNeal is a top-100 talent to everyone and Michigan is not going to replace that in this class unless they snake oil some kid unexpectedly.
- Campbell: either not at all or enormously, depending on whether he recommits.
Overall: there's a ding from the McNeal departure and if Campbell doesn't rejoin the fold it'll be a huge disappointment; other than that the decommit hullaballoo is a lot of hype with little impact.