in town for free camps
By multiple, persistent request. Some time back the Hoover Street Rag pled for assistance, asking if anyone out in MGoBlog land had a copy of "The Victors" by a jazz singer named Pat Suzuki. Several people offered versions of this weird piece of Michigan apocrypha, the HSR's request was met, and I got a file containing the audio. At the time, however, the laptop's soundcard was on the fritz and I had no idea what was actually in my possession.
One thankfully persistent reader, however, has not let it drop. It turns out that the item in question is surreal. Its closest analogue in my experience is Marylin Monroe's infamous rendition of "Happy Birthday" directed at JFK; both are utterly transformative. And weird. And were undoubtedly undertaken in cocktail dresses.
Seriously. I was pretty annoyed by Josh Jarboe's sudden dismissal from Oklahoma for -- gasp! -- rapping, more annoyed when I read Bob Stoops' pre-dismissal quote to the effect of "sticks and stones," and just plain angry when the bitter old men at the Oklahoman smarmily applauded the about-face. So I wrote something to that effect.
I probably wouldn't have bothered, though, if I knew that SMQ was going to kick off his final week of amateur wordsmithery by dropping a bomb on the Typical White Middle-Aged Sportswriter villians referenced above:
Was it "the Internet culture" that asked him to act swiftly, with the full weight of his position? Every Day Should Be Saturday, the most widely-read college football blog on the Web, linked to the video with no call for discipline. The very mainstream-leaning Wizard of Odds, which broke the video's existence and posted the version that drew tens of thousands of hits last week, made no call for discipline. None called Jarboe a "thug" or described his freestyle efforts as "jabber." Who, then, is Stoops actually frustrated with?
The finger points squarely at the old men who don't understand the internet but feel free to blame it for all ills, real or imagined.
Maybe they need someone to degrade them. West Virginia has leapt up the Fulmer Cup scoreboard with a series of crimes spectacular and petty:
- Three players are caught with felonious, drug-dealing amounts of weed.
- Noel Devine and four other players got in a nightclub fight.
- Charles Pugh pulls a Kevin Quick and goes on a stolen credit-card spree.
- Evan Rodriguez beats up a girl.
- Kendall Washington breaks into a home, steals some stuff, and shoots a guy. He wasn't actually on the team at the time, FWIW.
When I initially noted this apparrent explosion of bad behavior, Washington was believed to still be on the team and his nine points brought the 'Eers into a tie for the lead. It turns out he was dismissed after spring practice. The points go away but this is a kid who had some major issues in high school; Rodriguez pursued and acquired him.
So, like... WTF? As I've noted before, West Virginia was not a big mover in the first couple years of the Fulmer Cup, scoring nine points total. Michigan racked up 15 points, all of them coming last year when Lloyd Carr's retirement was impending. Driven by the realities of recruiting players to West Virginia, Rodriguez brought in his fair share of... uh... characters but he largely kept them in check. Even Pacman Jones had but one incident, that as a freshman. From there on he was off the police blotter.
"Coach Stew" -- West Virginia fans are constitutionally incapable of using their coach's full last name -- has not had similar fortune. Why?
It's tough to scare the hell out of your players when you're obviously thinking "I can't believe I'm a Division I head coach. How much are they playing me? I get a whistle!"
I foresee this ending badly.
(Sidenote: in searching for Stewart pictures I came across this engineering dork LOL page:
Fatal error: Call to undefined function: graceful_fail() in /web2/dmblogs/docs/wp-content/blogs.php on line 77
Back to the future. Wolverine Historian has assembled Rick Leach highlights for your edification.
We're about to hit actual football season, which will severely curtail recruting coverage for 3-4 months. Monday Recruitin' will still exist and commitments will get the de-facto googlestalking, but recruiting content gets short shrift when Events are Transpiring. Before we go semi-dark, a snapshot of where Michigan's efforts stand to date. Check out the Recruiting Board for a more in-depth, more outdated version.
Commitments: Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. Both are highly rated dual-threat quarterbacks and both are needed. Newsome, rumored to be shaky, has recently reaffirmed his Michigan verbal.
Prospects: Californian Tate Forcier continues to show great interest in Michigan, attending the one-day senior camp earlier this summer and scheduling two in-season visits this fall. Florida's Eugene Smith continues to list Michigan in his top five when he has a top five to list.
Situation: Unless Newsome decommits (still a slight possibility) or Tate Forcier camouflages himself as a linebacker or something, Michigan should be done here, and with an A+ pair of players. No one can complain.
Commitments: Cass Tech RB Teric Jones is a three-star from Detroit; Fitzgerald Toussaint is a shifty, fast top 250 guy from Youngstown.
Prospects: Pahokee's Vincent Smith is all but committed; he's the tiniest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, and that's saying something. The only other player Michigan seems heavily involved with is high-rated Oklahoma scatback David Oku; most have him favoring Tennessee and Florida State.
Situation: They have to be done here after the pending Smith commit. I'm not too concerned about the low-ish rankings of Jones and Smith, as Rodriguez's system prioritizes different things than the recruiting sites do. More on this later.
Prospects: Despite complaints about a never-ending flood of 5'6" guys, Michigan appears to be done at the position. There are no midget receivers left on the offer board.
Situation: Gallon was temporarily a member of the Rivals 100 until his size knocked him out; he remains highly rated by them. He's the top star and quarterback for the preseason #1 team in Florida. He's a great pickup and may have been Michigan's first choice in the slot.
Commitments: Top-100 Minnesotan Bryce McNeal committed earlier in the summer.
Prospects: It appears Michigan would like one more outside receiver. The highest-rated guy they have a shot at is Californian Shaquelle Evans, a five-star guy who was reputed to favor UCLA earlier in the year but will give Michigan an official visit. PA WR Todd Thomas has previously claimed Michigan amongst his favorites or even his outright leader, but despite some guru approval Michigan does not seem to be reciprocating the interest. Instater Dion Sims wants to play basketball but is a MAC-level recruit in that sport; in football he's a loping downfield tight end. Michigan or Michigan State for him, probably.
Situation: Ironic that one of Rodriguez's top-rated recruits to date is the outside wide receiver whose days at Michigan were supposedly over.
Commitments: Rivals 250 OT Michael Schoefield, and that's it.
Prospects: Despite a couple of recent disappointments, there are a few good prospects on the board
- Chris Freeman, the gargantuan Trotwood-Madison tackle with one game to his credit.
- Cleveland Glenville tackle Marcus Hall, though the whole "Glenville" thing means he gets the red frowny face until he commits and maybe a little while after.
- Rivals 250 OT Brennan Williams, who has Michigan in a top six of elite academic schools.
- Californian Michael Philipp, about whom little is known.
Add it up and Michigan probably pulls one of the four above, most likely Williams (the recruiting sites are in disagreement about how interested Williams is, FWIW). They might add another three-star sort.
Situation: I was seriously concerned about numbers here, especially with the instate backup plan types (Mattias, Chapman, Fantuzzi, etc) lighting out to Indiana or the MAC or wherever, until I actually looked at the Depth Chart by Class. Michigan has no seniors on the offensive line and with Schofield will have 16 kids on scholarship this fall. How many more do you need? Maybe one or two. More on this later.
Commitments: Five-star DT Will Campbell committed way back at the 2007 summer camp; Louisiana DE/DT Dequinta Jones committed in late July.
Prospects: No one looks particularly likely to end up at Michigan, but a number of defensive end prospects continue to list them: Craig Roh, Anthony LaLota, Keenan Graham, Jason Ankrah, Chris Bonds, Will Hill. Roh is the highest-profile player who seems to have sincere interest.
Situation: Michigan should be done at defensive tackle; Jones weighed in at over 300 pounds at LSU's camp and has definitively established himself as an interior linemen. With two guys graduating and Slocum crapping out, Michigan needs two solid prospects. Check.
Defensive end remains the most troubling spot on the team. Tim Jamison graduates this year and Brandon Graham could bust out to the point where he's NFL bound, which would leave just four DEs on the roster, one of whom is positional vagabond and likely noncontributor Andre Criswell. Michigan needs quality and numbers here; unfortunately it's a terrible year in the midwest for DEs.
Commitments: Fringe four-star Jordan Barnes picked Michigan over Alabama, and it looks like both of Michigan's current safety commits are more likely to end up at outside linebacker.
Prospects: Like Vincent Smith above, Pahokee linebacker Brandin Hawthorne is all but committed; he's another outside linebacker type. Five-star Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins swung by Michigan for an unofficial; nobody knows where he'd like to go but anyone would make room for him. DeDe Lattimore is a three-star guy from Georgia who listed Michigan favorably, but it now sounds like he's probably going to stay in the south.
Situation: With two to four commits at a spot Michigan pulled in four guys at last year, they have to be about done. They'll make room for Jenkins; everyone else can go pound sand.
Commitments: Top 50 Ohioan Justin Turner is either a big, big corner or an excellent free safety prospect; camp commit Dewayne Peace is likely to end up on the defensive side of the ball.
Prospects: Michigan is probable leader for three-star Florida corner Mywan Jackson, the suspected leader for four-star Mississippi safety Dennis Thames and the tenuous leader for five-star Arkansas corner Darius Winston. Also hovering out there is Cass Tech quarterback Thomas Gordon, who's moving to safety this fall in an effort to land a Michigan offer; he's expected to get one and is further expected to commit as soon as Rich Rodriguez says "We'd like to offer yo-"
Situation: With three guys (Harrison, Trent, Stewart) headed out, 3-4 coming in is desirable. Michigan has plenty of targets it considers top-notch and should pick up 2-3. Not concerned here.
Commitments: None yet.
Prospects: Kickers Anthony Fera and Brendan Gibbons have been told one or both will receive an offer in the near future.
Situation: They obviously lack confidence in Bryan Wright and are searching for a backup plan -- or, more realistically, a plan, period. Fera and Gibbons are two of the top guys in the country this year/
FAKE QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD
Aiiiigh, three stars aaaaiiiiigh.
Well, yeah, lot of guys filling up the class who don't exactly have glamorous rankings or offers. I'm not too put out, though, and think there are two major reasons for the undercurrent of unease in the Michigan internet:
- Last year's recruiting class was a bounteous cornucopia of four-star-plus guys, with a whopping seventeen. This is above historical norms. 2007 had seven, one a JUCO. 2006 and 2005 had eleven.
- Ohio State's monster 2009 class, which is going to be a strong contender for #1 overall.
It looks like Michigan's recruiting is going backwards after a strong start and Ohio State is going to lord it over us. There are all those stories about how Ohio State is winning most of it's recruiting battles with Michigan that ignore the fact that Ohio State has always won most of its recruiting battles with Michigan because the vast bulk of them take place in Ohio. Dantonio got the drop on Michigan and it's that time every five years when Michigan State gets to a crappy bowl game with a new coach and picks up a couple instate recruits and the Tide Is Turning(tm). Steven Threet turfed a bubble screen. We're all going to die.
Meanwhile, Michigan is pretty much on track with what they always do. They've got eight four-star-plus recruits so far with about a third of the class to go, and there's reason to believe there might be some upward mobility in some of the disregarded -- especially if their last names are "Jones":
- Mike Jones missed half his junior year with injury.
- Teric Jones was also injured and was stuck behind another D-I recruit.
- ESPN loves Isaiah Bell, who's top-100 to them.
- According to an LSU contact, DeQuinta Jones did very well at LSU's camp and did so at around 300 pounds, which should remove the tweener tag he'd been saddled with.
IMO, there's probably going to be a net +1 on the four-star guys currently committed.
Secondly: don't care that Vincent Smith or Teric Jones or Jeremy Gallon gets only three stars (Gallon's three stars to non-Rivals outlets) because they're getting rated as tiny running backs or tiny receivers who couldn't swing it in every offense across the land. Michigan doesn't run every offense, it runs a very particular sort of offense that greatly appreciates the presence of little men made of the same material superballs are.
These are all the reasons I'm not that concerned.
The reason I am, a little bit: I would like a "big, thick joker" at linebacker, maybe two, to combat the nouveau-exotic offenses at Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. That's another question, though.
One offensive line commit aiiiiighh?
Theory: hello ex-tight ends. Michigan does seem critically short on the offensive line, but 1) there are no seniors this year, 2) they took a boatload (six) last year, and 3) there are six tight ends on the roster who may or may not like the idea of never getting any playing time and may or may not be well suited for the offensive line in Rodriguez's movement-friendly system. If someone like Steve Watson gets up to 270 or 280 he's an option; Brandon Moore is 6'6" and could fill out significantly once he's in Barwis' clutches.
It's obvious Michigan wants at another commit or two but they have been tardy to offer a number of guys, choosing to focus on only the four-star types in the area. Three-star camp types have been fleeing to MAC schools or Indiana at a rate that suggests Michigan isn't even asking them to wait so they can evaluate their seniors years film of them. They'll happily take a Schofield or a Zach Martin or an Andrew Carter, but aren't too concerned about getting run-of-the-mill guys in.
I'd expect one more in the class, hopefully Freeman or Hall (not likely) or Williams; if not it would be a snake oil job or some Omameh type who picks up a late offer after a growth spurt. Michigan will carry somewhere between 17 and 19 offensive linemen into 2009; I'm not that concerned.
Defensive end aaaaiiiigh!
The situation here is getting more and more problematic as defensive ends head elsewhere. At this point the only thing that makes sense is that Michigan intends to move recruits in the incoming class to defensive end. Strong candidates: Kevin Koger, JB Fitzgerald, and Marcus Witherspoon. I lean towards the bigger linebackers, as Michigan has five freshmen at the position (Brandon Herron redshirted) and is clearly targeting smaller safety-type linebackers as they go forward (Hill is a smallish, wiry guy -- though he played homewrecking defensive end in high school -- and all the guys they've picked up last year are little guys.)
This is concerning to some small extent. The linebacker commits: safety, safety, safety-sized WLB, 6'0 hypothetical MLB. (Jones, Bell, Hawthorne, Barnes, BTW.) The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball makes the most sense if you believe college football is going to be even more spread-dominated in the future and teams will have to put out "linebackers" that are closer to safeties and defensive ends who can run with quarterbacks. Michigan's recruiting appears to be forward-looking.
However, a number of Michigan's opponents are certainly not forward-looking. Wisconsin seems in no mood to go futzing with their bludgeoning ground game. Michigan State is embarking on a similar program. And Ohio State's default offense is ground-and-pound, though they will adapt to available talent.
Still, this spot reminds me of corner a few years back: Michigan whiffed on a bunch of guys, most prominently Justin King, and when their national-championship contender came together in 2006 there was one major achilles heel at cornerback.
Fall practice started yesterday. In marked contrast to years previous there was significant access granted, with reporters allowed to attend the first 30 minutes of the practice; there was also a press conference. Also in marked contrast to years previous, this apparently happened:
I'm trying to envision Lloyd Carr chest-bumping (or, according to the Free Press, "chest-butting") the starting running back. It's not working.
News items from Rodriguez's press conference:
- Mysterious long snapper George Morales, the last recruit to commit to Lloyd Carr, was present and accounted for today. Rodriguez even clarified his status: he's on scholarship(!) and competing for the backup(!!) long snapping job. The immediate reaction is, of course, WTF. Offering a long snapper a scholarship is totally unprecedented and seems a ridiculous waste of a scholarship. More on this later.
- Kevin Grady practiced; when asked about it Rodriguez said:
He's still suspended as far as actual games, but he's practicing. He's done enough to earn his status back on the team, but he's not done enough yet to warrant playing time, if you know what I mean. There will be some playing suspension, but that's yet to be determined. But he's out there working, and he's not working with the first couple groups.
- Junior Hemingway was still in a non-contact jersey after an injury in the spring. (According to Chengelis, it will be "a few days" before he's full-go.)
- Elliot Mealer did not practice and it's "doubtful" he'll practice at all this month. A redshirt seems assured.
- Molk, Johnson, Massey, and Brown -- all of whom had issues in the spring -- are fine now.
- Brown took snaps at QB.
- Freshman linebacker Marcus Witherspoon did not practice. Sounds like this is a Clearinghouse issue that should be resolved shortly.
- Carson Butler switched to #5; Justin Feagin is now #3. (Both players are sharing with defenders; this is okay as long as they're not both on the field at the same time.)
- Three freshmen were called out as potential contributors on defense: Mike Martin, Boubacar Cissoko, and JT Floyd. On offense, anyone at a skill position was mentioned.
There have been plenty of practice impressions bandied about -- concern about the quarterbacks reigns, shocker -- but it's a half hour on the first day of fall. Practice impressions should be reserved to the truly obsessive. Like me! I watched Rivals' video($) from the practice; nothing particularly stuck out except the editor's skill at whittling down what sounded like a pretty rough outing from the quarterbacks into five minutes of accurate balls. There was this one drill Shafer was having the linebackers sidle through an obstacle course, then scoop a loose ball, presumably in an effort to turn fumbles into touchdowns.
More on Morales. Rodriguez said that he signed in February. I'm a bit skeptical -- if so, why didn't they announce it with the rest of the signings? -- but also not, because the guy is on campus, way out of shape, and snapping. For dollars. Is this guy going to occupy a scholarship slot for the next four years?
I find that hard to believe and have concocted an alternative scenario: secure in the knowledge Michigan would have spare money this year, Carr offered Morales a guaranteed year of scholarship money to get him on campus but made it clear it was a one-year thing and future years would be doled out much like they are to other walkons: if there's an open slot, some kid gets lucky. Sort of like Reed Baker's scenario.
This is all probably moot. If this picture is any indication, he's going to explode in a shower of lipids the first time he comes within 100 meters of Mike Barwis.
No, he didn't. Either Adam Rittenberg must have looked at the wrong list or Michigan's deal with Adidas includes rocket-powered rollerskates, because this did not happen:
Walking through Michigan's weight room on the way out, I stopped to check out the team-high totals for several categories. Johnson tops the bench-press chart at 500 pounds, Taylor squatted a team-best 625 pounds and cornerback Morgan Trent ran a 4.13 in the 40-yard dash.
Morgan Trent is faster than he's given credit for (this is Trent running down some guy named Percy Harvin...
... which, like, dude) but no one runs a 4.13 unless he's just been thrown off a building. It doesn't matter. I guarantee you that Michigan fans on message boards say things like "LOL Morgan Trent runs a 4.13 so you'll like never complete a pass ever" all year, and when he gets drafted NFL fans will do the same. The Apocryphal Morgan Trent 4.13 Forty is now a part of internet lore, and it will never die.
Oooh, Barwis. Snippets of Barwis porn for your delectation. One:
The numbers on the jerseys were a little bit shorter and a little bit wider under the new Adidas material. The thinner men - including defensive lineman Terrance Taylor - were a noticeable shift in the tight-fitting jerseys.
Tight end Carson Butler looks great, slimmer and stronger. He should be a major asset for Rodriguez and the new starting quarterback.
"I asked them, 'Raise your hand if you're in the best shape of your athletic careers,' and I think they all raised their hands," Rodriguez said. "All of our team is in better shape. They got through the first practice, which was pretty intense. They got through it very well. The key for us is to continue to do that. We're not in game shape, but we're in better shape than we were in the spring."
Site note: I've added the Depth Chart by Class to the "useful stuff" navigation item and updated it to reflect the current situation.
Ladies. Hello. We would like to talk to you. No, we don't ever take these off.
Can anyone ID these gents? The guy on the left looks a little like Boren, but AFAIK the only guy on the team with dreads is Martavious Odoms, a freshman who never crossed paths with the family values maven. Don't bother with the one on the right, who's obviously John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever.
I read this thing called SEOmoz, which is a horribly named but quite good blog on search engine optimization and related things. Before Friday, if you had asked me what the chances are I'd ever mention it in this space I would have told you "zero point zero," but I'm wrong:
Fluent Simplicity compiled a list of brands who are on Twitter. The list is pretty comprehensive and is broken down into sector. It's interesting to see which major companies have a Twitter account. (I was especially amused to see that Michigan State has one. I imagine their tweets to consist of either "won the game. students rioting" or "lost the game. students rioting.")
Etiquette advice from a caveman. A couple people have emailed noting that newspapers have used quotes from the response to "my question" about tight ends from media day. It's really nice that there are people out there who act as defenders of the MGoFaith, but the question was asked in an open forum with a dozen people listening. Responses in that situation are fair game, as if it was a press confernece. It's not like I had an exclusive interview with Rodriguez or anything.
Also, Angelique Chengelis is really nice, continually got information no one else did during the Carr era, and helped Johnny land the Carr interview that features in Hail To The Victors 2008; she's the last media person anyone should be criticizing.
Yes, your math's wrong. By request of Dennis Dodd, who titles his latest blog post "please someone tell me my math is wrong": your math is wrong. This is your math:
According to my math (always a dicey proposition but hang with me, it's only a blog [SCREW YOU GOLLUM -ed]), the average college team ran 72 plays per game last season. Fine, great. The average NFL team ran 62.76 plays per game. That's with the 40/25 rule. That's also a difference of 9.14 plays per game. Multiplied by two teams thats more than 18 plays per game difference. ...
It looks to me like the NCAA rules committee is about to bastardize the game like it did two years ago when its misguided timing rules slashed something like 13 plays per game. The rules were adjusted last season and once again we had reasonable college football.
Your math completely ignores the biggest timing difference between college football and the NFL: on a first down, the clock stops until the chains are set and the ball is ready for play. This takes somewhere between 10 and 15 seconds -- looks like 12 is a good average -- and last year the average Big Ten game had 40.6 first downs. Approximately eight minutes runs of an NFL game clock that does not run off an NCAA game clock because of this rule change, which means a college game is 15% longer than an NFL game because of this rule's effect*. 72 is 115% of 62.76: virtually the entire difference the length of pro and college games is explained here.
Also, during the bastardized clock season you wrote an article proclaiming the Return of Defense, citing an amazing 10% decrease in scoring offense in a year when games were 10% shorter. You should probably not write things about the game clock.
Games will probably be a bit shorter because out of bounds plays will now have the clock wound after the ball is marked ready for play; the effect will be considerably smaller than 2005.
*(I think. I'm not sure whether I should be dividing 60 by 52 or 68 by 60. Statistician help? The latter would be 13%, FWIW.)
Coin. More dollars for the program:
The University of Michigan became the latest elite college athletic program to sell off a package of its media rights, bringing in $86 million through a 12-year deal with IMG College.
The deal, which runs through June 2020, marks the first time Michigan has bundled all of its media rights into one package and marks the continuation of a trend where colleges are hiring companies, such as IMG College, to maximize revenue from those rights.
That's about $7.2 million per year on top of the reported $5-7 million they're making from the Big Ten Network. Since Florida just signed over a similar suite of rights (that is: all the stuff Michigan is signing over to IMG plus the TV rights to everything except most football and some basketball games) to the same company for $10 million per, that seems like a pretty good deal. And it's not going to compromise Michigan stadium's zealous purity:
Throughout the negotiations, IMG College had to convince the school that it would protect the integrity of the game-day experience inside Michigan Stadium, known as "The Big House."
"We can increase the revenue and value of corporate sponsorships by doing things outside the stadium," Stultz said. "The more we talked about that, the more excited they got about it."
Etc.: Michigan is running a video countdown to the season; they're super fluffy but where else can you see images of guys doing hang cleans to rawkin' 80s guitar solos? Don't answer that question. Soon-to-be-ex AJC sportswriter Tony Barnhart has Auburn spread junkie Tony Franklin give key bullet points on why it, like 80s guitar solos, rawks. (Sidenote: the problem with newspapers offering voluntary buyouts is that often the guys with options -- the ones who aren't reprehensible -- say "okay" and the Terence Moores of the world cling to the lifeboat.) The Hoosier Report has old video of a 50s-era Michigan-IU game. The stands, they are not so full.
Update 8/4: Linked to articles on FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith (one, two), AR CB Darius Winston (second), FL RB Jaamal Berry, MD DE Jason Ankrah and MD CB Travis Hawkins, OK RB David Oku, MI S Thomas Gordon, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, FL S DeAngelo Hadley, FL CB Mywan Jackson, TN CB Marsalis Teague, MD CB Travis Hawkins, header on FL CB Mywan Jackson. Moved FL S Mike Jones to committed. Linked to video on FL WR Jeremy Gallon, FL RB Vincent Smith.
Also, an article on Michigan's recruitment of kickers from Helmholdt; not adding Jerome Swinton just yet but keep an eye on him, I guess. And WTKA's recruiting insider podcast has useful info on Bryce McNeal and FSU commit Willie Haulstead; also some interesting items on defensive ends and Mywan Jackson. (As per usual, some links from VB.)
Editorial Opinion: Safety Mike Jones looks to be just the tip of a three-star Florida commitment iceberg. A couple of Pahokee kids, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith, are announcing August 29th, but all indications are the "announcements" are a foregone conclusion. Josh Helmholdt:
FlaVarsity.com publisher Michael Langston, who has covered both Pahokee prospects' careers the past few years, feels Michigan is the team that has the best chance to land both players.
"With Vincent, it's the ties there, how he would fit into the system and the fact that Michigan offered him first," Langston said. "With Brandin, he feels comfortable with that staff and feels he can come right in and play linebacker or whatever position they are going to play him. There's no guarantees, but those are reasons why I think those two will pick Michigan." ...
Hawthorne said Monday that his decision will come down to Michigan, West Virginia and South Florida, but he also predicted that he and Smith would be playing together in college. Michigan is the one school remaining on both prospects' lists, so the writing appears to be on the wall.
The Facebook wall, more specifically. Varsity Blue:
Pahokee Blue Devils Brandon Hawthorne and Vincent Smith won't announce their respective college decisions until August 30th, but it appears as though Michigan has a very good shot at landing both. Several readers have chimed in to let me know that each has changed various aspects of his Facebook page to indicate impending commitment to Michigan.
We saw something similar with MN WR Bryce McNeal, who decked out his Myspace page with an eye-gouging Michigan layout and told at least a couple questioners he'd decided on Michigan; public disavowals were for show and McNeal ended up committing publicly -- more publicly, at least -- a few weeks later. You can pencil those guys into the class. (McNeal, by the way, has backed off on his official visit plans and now says he is 100% Michigan.)
So we can pencil those guys into the class. Hawthorne's a slightly undersized outside linebacker sort while Smith may be the smallest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, which is saying something. Pat Summerall narrates a fluff piece with some swanky junior-year highlights:
That kid might look like he's starring in an urban remake of "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" but he looks like he's going to break the sound barrier on a couple of those runs.
Keep your pencils out for FL CB Mywan Jackson , too:
Jackson has made unofficial visit to several programs this summer, including all of the major in-state programs as well as Louisville, Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina. Michigan, though, stood out above the rest.
"Oh, yes. Definitely," Jackson said when asked if Michigan was the best he's seen.
Jackson's actually a quarterback for his high school team but most everybody's recruiting him as an athlete with an eye towards making him a defensive back. He visited Auburn with a couple teammates this weekend; he may commit right quick or extend his decision a bit further into the fall.
Aaaand one more: some kicker. Though TX K Anthony Fera was reported to have an offer last week, it appears this is not the case and that Michigan is still deciding between him and some guy from, yes, Florida. Said guy is FL K Brendan Gibbons. Someone will get an offer soon and quickly commit:
"I went to (Michigan's) camp and I think I'm their number one guy," Gibbons told Rivals.com last week.
Fera also feels strongly about his chances of being Michigan's top guy. He reported Sunday evening that he had received an email from Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson saying the decision was down to two guys. If the lot is cast in Fera's favor, he is ready to make a decision.
"If they end up offering both of us at the same time and it is first come, first serve, then I will probably take it," Fera said. "But if they give me a week or two, then I would probably take that week or two and talk it over with my parents."
Add those guys in and Michigan is suddenly getting full before football season even starts. Jackson, Smith, Hawthorne, and Some Kicker Guy would be commitments 15 through 18; Michigan's current count of open scholarships for 2009 is 17. There will be further attrition before February -- probably four or five guys, if not more -- but spots are rapidly dwindling. There is an undercurrent of panic on the message boards about the three-star flood, especially in relation to Ohio State's monster haul. I'll address all that in a separate post.
Onto non-impeding-commitment news: a few weeks ago, five star AR CB Darius Winston decommitted from Arkansas and named Michigan his leader; unfortunately, in recent articles he's backed off that assertion. His coach still thinks he's leaning north, though:
"I know Michigan has come on strong as of late and if I had to guess I'd say that's where Darius is currently leaning," Smith added. "But Darius is really open to everyone right now."
Long way to go there, obviously.
Two Southern defensive backs have three-star ratings but pretty wicked offer sheets and are listing Michigan. First, FL S Angelo Hadley :
Another school whose tradition of great players impresses Hadley is Michigan. "They have great tradition too," he said. "They always have good defensive backs and I liked guys like Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard. They always have their players highly drafted and I like the new coaches. They seem nice and I definitely plan to take a visit there this fall."
If he's serious he'll schedule an official; that's up in the air. Meanwhile, TN CB Marsalis Teague has had some interesting conversations with Michigan coaches:
Most of the schools in Teague's top six are recruiting him for cornerback, except for Michigan which he says are liking him as a signal caller. "I love their new style of offense they are gonna run under coach Rich Rodriguez ," he said. "It's the same offense we run at my high school and they said I could play quarterback there.
"Coach Rodriguez says they need a guy like me to run his offense," he said. "But they are also looking at me for corner or receiver. I guess the defensive coordinator wants me for cornerback and the offensive coordinator wants me for quarterback. Either way they've got a spot for me."
Teague is 5'10" and I will bet anyone other than the coaching staff one million dollars that even if he commits -- unlikely as he has a Miami offer and has liked them since he was a wee tyke -- he never sees a snap at quarterback.
Bonus random Southern defensive back! This one's FL CB Jayron Hosley:
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez may also be on the verge of offering Hosley.
"They (Michigan) want to come see me play. They haven't seen me play in person; they've just seen my film. They are going to see a game and go from there. I think in September," said Hosley.
The two Michigan assistants handling Hosley's recruitment are Quarterbacks Coach Rod Smith and Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer.
Hosley's a Rivals 250 guy.
Michigan was expecting a commitment today, but not in football. Mike Jones doesn't care, as the three-star Florida safety dropped to Michigan today($). Informative update coming.
Informative Update: As previously mentioned, I would have preferred it if Jones was named "Frobozz Tamoshanter," as then he would not share a name with a popular rapper and a million other people. But I'm dealing.
Jones is a high three-star to Rivals. ESPN says "he should work for Craftsman" because he has the tools to play safety or outside linebacker, then spends the bulk of their scouting report talking about his blitzing:
Exceptional edge blitzer that has great timing and quickness; speed rushes by the offensive tackle before he can get set. Offensive backs can't or won't block him when blitzing off the edge; really creates havoc in the backfield. Does a great job of using his hands to shed blockers in order to get to the ball carrier. Likes to hit and really delivers when tackling but needs to be more consistent at bringing his legs.
They rate him a 77, which is the ESPN equivalent of a high three star. Scout is a little bit less enthusiastic than the other sites, giving him three stars and ranking him the #47 safety -- the last four star is #23.
All that is less than inspiring, but there are a couple good reasons he's down the list. An injury knocked him out five games into Edgewater's season (and by that time he'd collected 56 tackles, 8 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles) and he's not going to any of the camps on offer by recruiting sites. A couple months ago he basically resolved he'd be going to Michigan or Notre Dame, removing the need to hunt for more offers.
Speaking of: There's some confusion about whether or not Jones actually had a Notre Dame offer or not. He reported one earlier in the year, then reported he didn't have one after M/ND unofficials. But maybe that changed?
Edgewater safety Mike Jones committed to Michigan on Thursday, the day of his 18th birthday. Jones said he chose between Notre Dame and Michigan.
The safety said Michigan started recruiting him "from day one," and when the the Wolverines hired former West Virginia Coach Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia coaches began recruiting him. He said he had offers from Auburn, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Syracuse, Kentucky, South Florida, and UCF.
The other big offer on that list is Auburn; other than that pretty eh, so a Notre Dame offer would be of note. The only thing I can find on it is a guy named "RichmondIrish" on MSNBC saying that he "got an update" to the effect that "jones didn't get offered by ND, but said they are very close to doing so." There's some further chatter to the same effect. Those guys were probably lifting information from ND premium boards and their impressions are probably accurate. FWIW.
(Sidenote: Let's hope these guys are right: "roh [AZ DE Craig Roh] is going to be tough to pull from Michigan. he said they are his top school as of now." FWIW, Sam Webb was also very positive about Michigan's chances for Roh on WTKA a few days ago.)
One other note of interest: Jones intends to enroll early.
Editorial Opinion: Jones is probably destined for OLB and I'll move him there on the recruiting board. Yes, another three star from the South without offers from instate schools and I admit to being a little concerned by the prevalence of these guys, but that's another post. One happy note: given the injury it's possible he's underrated.