chance of bowl: 13.6%
Update 5/21: Linked to article on DC DT Reggie Ellis. Added KS TE Spencer Ladner, AL OL Antoine McClain, GA S Jamoris Slaughter (Scout article), FL OL Matt Patchan. Linked to Rivals roundup article w/ info on Cissoko, Fred Smith, Vaughn Carraway, newspaper article on Butler High in NC. Did some general cleanup with schools of interest and reorganized a couple sets with some new gray icons. Linked to Jonas Gray article. Does he have a frickin' offer or not? Linked to articles on PA WR Vaughn Carraway, NC S Robert Blanton, PA LB Shayne Hale, PA QB Terrelle Pryor, header on PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (no longer considering basketball), pictures of OH TE Kevin Koger. Moved IN OL Kurt Wermers and OH TE Brandon Moore to committed. Added TX CB Adrian Bushell. Downgraded Darrell Scott to red, removed FL DT Marcus Forston (was only on board because of single brief mention, does not appear to have any serious interest). Linked to articles on the commitments of Wermers (second article) and Moore.
Editorial Opinion: A lot of news this week, what with the commits and so forth and so on. Some questions posed by commenters:
Do we take a second tight end?
Very probably. The new offense uses a ton of two tight end sets and with the loss of Butler we'll have a senior Massey, the two '07 recruits, and the unimpressive McLaurin/Criswell combo, if Criswell isn't shifted back to fullback. As long as we stick with the zone game we should consider a second tight end a starter and recruit like it. I would expect Michigan to take either Tyler Hoover or Kevin Koger, possibly both if they think one can play defensive end.
How highly ranked is Wermers going to be?
I initially projected a standard three-star rating, but there have been some rumblings recently that he might end up a solid 4*, top 250 sort. Evidently he was impressive at a recent combine. I still think he gets only three. We'll see.
How many more OL?
Lots. I bet we take a full line and maybe a sixth player. At this point we're at 17 scholarships and there are some obvious candidates to not return for potential fifth years; this small class is now going to end up around 21 or 22 players, most likely. With only two recruits in last year's class and three in the class before it -- one of whom did not redshirt -- linemen are a huge priority. I would expect another tackle and one or two more interior linemen. There aren't any names that jump out at the moment, but I kind of hope enormous Oregon lineman Matt Lipski, who plans on camping, shows well enough to get an offer. He'd be a project but Michigan would have the time to develop him with Ortmann and Schilling looking likely to start over the next three years. Also, instater Rocko Koury has an awesome name and is beginning to build himself some buzz.
On to other stuff...
Gray! McGuffie! Running back controversy! So this Scout article claims an offer for Jonas Gray.
I think it is wrong. This continues to be the recruiting year's most puzzling subplot: like... WTF? An instate back with no apparent character or academic issues is universally acclaimed a top-100 player and Michigan refuses to offer at a position of need. Freaky, especially because Michigan only has three confirmed offers out, all to players extremely far away. Californian Darrell Scott is a longshot, and though Covaughn Deboskie seems interested he's being heavily pursued by a lot of schools and it would be foolish to put all our eggs in his basket.
That leaves McGuffie. All the circumstantial evidence points to promises being made by a Michigan coaching staff extremely confident in landing a promise-worthy back. The only guy that could possibly be is McGuffie. So I'm inclined to take this BP post kind of seriously:
Is a Wolverine, and has been for sometime.
I grab some videos and slap 'em up on the Fanhouse, because, dude. Seriously. A comment shows up like so:
Ok, here's the deal. I was on the same team with him this past year when he rushed for his 3,121 yards and 43 TD's. Im a Michigan fan so of corse Im trying to get him to wear the maize and blue, and sometime in November I think it was Michigan offerd him a full ride.
Later on in the season when I walked in to watch film of our previous game, our head coach saw my shirt (the day of the Indiana game) and we were talking about Michigan, and Sam looked at me and kept stating he's going to Michigan. Over time, he's repeated the same statements to me. And just last week he got my attention to let me know he's visiting Michigan in February.
(Comment sic.) Intriguing! But probably internets FUD. I follow up with the guy. I get a name and number that check out. I think it's legit, and I think in February we're likely to get a commit from McGuffie.
So... February didn't happen. But this is all playing out like Michigan has McGuffie on lockdown. This is the long way of explaining that I'm very confident on McGuffie. As always, FWIW. This might be a good time to point out this old Houston Chronicle article on him.
Wideouts! PA WR Vaughn Carraway still maintains us as a leader and is now beginning to pick up some impressive offers -- Tennessee the latest. Interesting note on his recruitment from Scout:
"Michigan is still at the top," Carraway said. "I've kept in contact with Coach (Steve) Szabo mostly. He said they haven't decided if they want me for offense or defense yet. I really like their coaching staff and the way they practice.
"I've been there a couple of times," he added. "I want to visit one time again before the season and then go again for a game. That will probably be my official visit."
Intriguing. With things seemingly goin
g very well for instater Fred Smith, Woolfolk/Herron teammate Daryl Stonum, and Ty Law-cousin Jonathan Baldwin, Carraway might fit into this class in the defensive backfield. He's 6'2" but only 170 according to that Scout article... a big corner? That would go some distance to explaining the paucity of corner offers out at the moment. Carraway wants to commit before the fall.
Scouting stuff. Rivals has a free article on MSNBC with a report on the recent PSU Nike combine that has a couple scouting reports for those looking for a clearer picture of a couple of our recruits. First, CB commit Boubacar Cissoko:
The best player in the bunch was cornerback Boubacar Cissoko of Detroit Cass Tech. The recognition as the top defensive back in the camp really came as no surprise. Many believed he was the top cornerback at last year's NIKE Camp in Columbus.
Cissoko, who is a Michigan commitment, was amazing in the one-on-one drills last weekend.
While many other cornerbacks in the camp played off the line, Cissoko got right up in the faces of the receivers and locked them up with press coverage. Some questioned how he would handle going up against taller receivers. He's only 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, but Cissoko had no trouble handling bigger guys. His technique and physical nature allows him to play much bigger than his size.
Reminds me of Arkansas CB Chris Houston, who was a delight to watch against Gamecock WR Sidney Rice during their matchup last fall. Houston's small but will line up right over your grill and fight you everywhere.
WR target Fred Smith:
Smith, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver, had a very good camp and performed well in the one-on-ones. He made one amazing catch on an out route where grabbed the ball and kept both feet in bounds, despite being tackled by the defender.
Smith might not be the fastest receiver around â€“ he's probably a guy that runs in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash â€“ but he runs great routes. If you get the ball in his vicinity, he'll catch it.
Smith also has a great college-ready frame that allows him to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage.
Jason Avant? I call everyone Jason Avant these days. But great routes and hands, big college-ready frame, not the fastest? Could it be anyone else?
Sargent! Interesting name at safety: Georgian Jamoris Slaughter. Slaughter on Michigan:
"I want to go where they'll help me with my future," he said. "I want to play in the NFL after college, so it would be great if they had a history of that."
Slaughter says that growing up, Michigan was his favorite team. "I guess I always liked their style," Slaughter said. "I always picked them when I played Madden. They have a great defense and I like how they blitz and zone a lot. You can really show your skills there."
Odd spate of Georgians with an abiding fondness for Michigan this year; Omar Hunter also counts himself a longtime fan. Normally I would be skeptical of his desire to come north, but he counts Notre Dame and Ohio State amongst his top five so he seems less bound to the south than most. We'll have some competition but it sounds like we've got a legit shot.
Similar story with TX CB Adrian Bushell, who has offers from Michigan, Florida (offering everyone), and Texas Tech and claims those three plus West Virginia as a top four.
Also there is this. Jim Stefani has an enormous post recapping Michigan's offensive recruiting to date and doing some projecting in the future. If you've got the time...
Yost Built has a scoop on the Michigan goalie situation:
Steve Jakiel has left school and won't be coming back next year. Hunwick is in, and it's reportedly not a one year thing. In addition, from what I've heard, Bryan Hogan will be coming this year, with the intention of winning the starting job.
Something had to be up once Hunwick was announced as incoming, and this is probably the best possible way for it to work out. Jakiel got a couple games when Sauer was really struggling earlier in the season and was awful. Hogan had his own struggles last year but had a nice season the year before that, actually forcing his way past Jakiel into the starting lineup; Jakiel was later traded.
So, yeah, Scout and Rivals are both reporting that Ohio tight end Brandon Moore has picked Michigan. Which is like, yow, man. Moore is a top 100 kid to both sites who started picking up major offers last summer, when Georgia dropped one on him. By November -- three months before the previous class' Signing Day -- he had picked up a Nebraska offer:
For much of the game, that player was 6-foot-6, 235-pound hybrid tight end Brandon Moore.
Thomas may not have known that Moore, a junior, has already received scholarship offers to play at schools like Georgia and Nebraska. But on the field, Thomas, 6-0, 175 pounds, cared little for Moore's credentials.
(Moore would be held to two catches for nine yards in that game. Frowns.) On or around Signing Day Moore's list would look like so:
Stanford, Nebraska, Georgia, Mississippi, Illinois, LSU and Clemson have already previously offered the Southwest Ohio standout, but he netted two more major offers on Wednesday.
That is a hell of a lot of attention. By the time of his commitment he had thirty-some offers, including Florida, Miami and Notre Dame. Kid is unmistakably big time.
One school who didn't offer, puzzlingly: Ohio State. They are having to pick recruits very carefully in a year of limited scholarships and a great deal of instate talent, but, um, Moore would appear to be one of the most highly coveted tight ends in the country. He's certainly got a higher profile than Toledo TE Kevin Koger, who Michigan and Ohio State are fighting over. The Buckeye Planet thread on Moore reads precisely like any internet discussion of Jonas Gray amongst Michigan fans: confusion, anger, rationalization, and overriding faith in the wise decisions of the God Emperor. (Except for that last one.)
So what do we have in Moore? A 6'6", 243 pound tight end -- he's definitely a tight end -- with "hands the size of tennis rackets" according to Jeremy Crabtree($) at Rivals. As a junior he wasn't targeted much, with only twenty catches (or 25, depending on the articles you read), but the vagaries of high school quarterbacking make evaluating receivers based on stats a dodgy proposition. ESPN has filed a suprisingly negative scouting report($) given the accolades and offers he's collected:
Moore is an impressive physical specimen and looks the part of a big- time college prospect. However, he is currently caught in the middle and a bit one-dimensional -- does not have the speed and elusiveness of a wide receiver and we have yet to see the in-line blocking skill of a dominate [sic] tight end. ... He is missing an explosive release, sharp route running (most are rounded) and the ability to create separation on cornerbacks. Although he is very athletic, he does not show the deceptive ability to slip by linebackers and settle in open space.
It does go on to say he's "dripping with potential" (so that's what that is -- phew) and has "some of the highest upside in the class," so there's that. You can see some highlights for yourself at Scouting Ohio, though they're unnecessarily small.
Update: Moore video now on Youtube so that it can be perused full-size:
Evidently, Michigan has received a commitment from Indiana offensive lineman Kurt Wermers. (I say "evidently" because Tom Lemming is apparently the source of the information and he has been wrong in the past.) The reader is invited to speculate on how much freely available info there is on moderately to not particularly hyped guards from Indiana. Yep.
We'll try to ballpark his potential anyway. As of now he has twelve offers, Michigan being the most impressive. UCLA, Purdue, and Iowa had also extended offers and Notre Dame was rumored to be looking at him "heavily," whatever that means, but hadn't followed suit. (There was one article that asserted a written offer from Notre Dame, but I think that was erroneous.) He's currently ranked #47 on Scout's Midwest Top 100, just ahead of RoJo brother Corey Johnson, tiny OH RB Darius Ashley (who might have a Michigan offer and does have a Tennessee offer), and PSL OLB Nick Perry (likely underrated)... that's probably on the 3/4 borderline. Rivals hasn't rated him in their initial Hot 250 or whatever it's called, so he's probably a 3 to them. ESPN hasn't gotten around to him. It's highly likely he ends up in the anonymous mass of three star recruits when all is said and done.
Upshot: nothing to scream in the streets about either way. Michigan needs linemen in quantity and picked up a guard. This is good. You'd like his offers and guru ratings to be a little higher -- this appears to be the second guy we've picked up who was waiting on an offer from either ND or OSU that didn't appear forthcoming -- but that's life. Michigan must have liked him quite a bit since they offered him two months ago; hopefully they're right.
The only other thing that's turned up was this article from nwi.com:
Imagine a phone ringing. It's Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr. Or Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. Or UCLA's Karl Dorrell. Or Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. Or Indiana's Terry Hoeppner. Or Purdue's Joe Tiller.
And every one of these big-time gridiron gods would get the same message.
One of these things is not like the others, yesno? Indiana football is at least four to six times bigger than Wayne Bennett in Brisbane!
There's not much else of note in there except a reference to Wermer's participation in an a capella group, which probably had a major influence on his decision if the horrible, locust-like proliferation of chipper instrument-free musical troupes on campus hasn't been violently stomped out in the years since I ceased attending class. And God help us all if it hasn't. Those suckers were nearing critical mass years ago.
So, yeah, there isn't much from the recruiting sites on Cronin but I did turn up some local newspaper items of note. First... guess which player in this photo is the Michigan recruit:
This appears to be the most effusive praise available for our new center:
Start with the Mayor's Cup - or at least that was the official title of the tournament. More accurately, it was the Ben Cronin Show, also starring some other Henninger players quite happy to gain city supremacy.
Cronin has been bent on domination ever since Proctor made him disappear on Dec. 19. A solid game against CNS three days later was followed by this Mayor's Cup display at LeMoyne College, where he pulled off back-to-back triple doubles against Fowler and Corcoran.
The final, in particular, had its own share of pathos. As you all know, Henninger and Corcoran were supposed to meet in the Section III football playoffs on Oct. 15 - before the forfeits, before Auburn showed up, and you know the rest.
From the early moments, when Cronin swatted an Elton Frazier shot, the 7-foor junior ruled the night. He had 18 points, 16 rebounds and 12 blocks, and four of his teammates reached double figures in scoring, too, most notably Mike Johnson, whose six free throws late sealed the 61-55 win.
Henninger is 8-1, and you can argue that Cronin is the central figure in the Class AA playoff race. With his size and growing strength, if he does this kind of paint job every night, the Black Knights can take the banner.
Evidently, the banner is a state championship thing. Henninger did not acquire said banner this year, falling to Proctor in the final. A month later, Cronin's team lost and drew some criticism from the same source:
Apparently, one headline-grabbing upset over a state top 10 team was not enough. F-M wanted more, and got it by imposing its collective will on Henninger - especially on the defensive side, where Ben Cronin vanished. ... Granted, Cronin's two early fouls hurt, but a great player should overcome those things. Henninger could not establish itself in the paint, and the Hornets took full advantage.
There was also a monster game against Fairport -- which sounds like it has a killer sailing team -- with 21 points and 19 rebounds.
All this means little given the context provided by the above photo. Cronin tall, others short, do good. Yay. But there were a couple encouraging comments yesterday from the proprietor of the aforementioned OrangeFan Syracuse blog:
Cronin is a good get for you guys. He's actually a very good athlete, but only picked up basketball relatively late - he was a hockey player until he grew so tall. That hockey athleticism and experience should suit him well once he grows into his body. Syracuse already has 4 centers on the roster, and Boeheim still wanted this kid. Congrats.
(Waggish commenters immediately asked if he had been a goalie.) I think I've already expressed my opinion on this kid, but to re-iterate: these are the guys Beilein has won with elsewhere and given his late entry into the world of recruiting Michigan (at least for the '08 class), he's probably not going to upgrade his recruiting in terms of stars until '09. So I'm much happier with this particular commit than Amaker snagging Coleman or Jerrett Smith, because Beilein's already proven he can work with this type of player and he isn't in his third year on the job.
The instate crop for '08 is very bad anyway, especially with Anthony Crater already committed to OSU. The only other guy who appears to be on the radar of Michigan or MSU is SF/PF Draymond Green, the one-time Kentucky commit who opened it back up when Tubby went away. There have been some breathless headlines re: Green of late on GBW, so maybe he's making headway there.
Update: Whoops! Forgot the local newspaper article on the commit:
"I feel it's the perfect fit for me," Cronin said. "It's a great academic school and I love coach Beilein. I'm sure he'll develop me as a player to get to the best of my potential. He develops his players and gets them to shoot it. I think he's going to make me a much better offensive player than I am right now." ...
[Henninger coach Erik] Saroney said he could see Cronin excelling in Beilein's system.
"I think he fits perfectly in that system," Saroney said, "and I say that despite the fact that we didn't use him like that last year, but college basketball and high school basketball are two different beasts."
Aussie Aussie Aussie! I think the most momentous thing that happened when I was gone was this bizarre thing you've probably already seen:
GAZING up at a huge locker-room poster of John Sattler, Lloyd Carr shakes his head as he's told the story of a 1972 grand final so fierce the bloody Souths captain was chaired off with a ripped Rabbitohs badge and a broken jaw.
You are probably wondering what the hell language this is. Well, it's Australian. Now you are probably wondering what the hell Lloyd Carr is doing in Australia. Well:
But this week Carr has done just that [envision the pad-free violence of Aussie Rules], after spending seven days with Souths at the invitation of co-owner Russell Crowe.
And now you're probably just wondering "what the hell?"
The man who brought you "Fightin' Round The World"...
... and Lloyd Carr are so happy together, Turtles style. No doubt this stems from Carr's deployment of Cinderella Man as a motivational tactic last year but... still. Weird.
And when even I have to get a small chuckle out of their gushing description of Carr...
Most Australians have probably never heard of Lloyd Carr. Not unless you are a fan of American college football.
There, in the wildly popular arena of US college sports, Carr is nothing short of a living legend.
As head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines since 1995, Carr is the "winningest" college football coach in the States and as big a name as they come.
Think Wayne Bennett in Brisbane. Then multiply by 20.
...certain other fanbases must have fallen out of their chairs. We're bigger than Wayne Bennett in Brisbane, bitches!
The Ann Arbor News has a take, as well.
Masbach. A little while ago this space had a brief blurb on the strange existence of former Michigan quarterback Scott Driesbach, who is now 30 and playing QB and LB(!) for Columbus in the Arena League. Now the Dispatch has an (unnecessarily hectoring at times) article on the star-crossed Michigan alum.
Also, the Boston Globe has an article on another player struck down by Mildly Peeved Dispenser of Extreme Fates to Michigan Quarterbacks God: Matt Gutierrez, now in possession of a two-year, 655k contract from the Patroits. Inevitable Tom Brady comparisons... go!
Recruiting aside: I removed PA LB Andrew Sweat from the board when he dropped Michigan out of his top five. It turns out we're not quite dead:
"I really like Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. And also Penn State and maybe LSU or Florida."
But we pretty much are:
Sweat went on to say that when he narrows the schools down to three, Ohio State will be a finalist, "Ohio State will be one of them. Ohio State and Notre Dame are one and two-equal right now. Then most likely I'll pick either Michigan or Penn State." From our sources, it will surprising if Jim Tressel and Ohio State don't land Sweat.
I'm not putting him back on the board, but be advised. Also of note from that post is this unsubstantiated nugget on totally shirtless PA LB Shayne Hale:
The other top linebacker prospect in the WPIAL is Shayne Hale from Gateway. PSI believes that he's a Michigan lean right now.
Hale hasn't given any indication he's leaning either way strongly elsewhere and I have no idea how much credence to give this blog, so take that FWIW.
Co-sign. Neal Pollack eviscerates ABC's NBA coverage and God almighty I agree. Everything from the consistently foo-foo theme music, which has gone from the Black Eyed Peas, Robb Thomas, Tom Petty, Pussycat Dolls -- can you find another collection of four "bands" in which the Black Eyed Peas are clearly in possession of the most street cred? -- to the awful announcing tandems to the standard ESPN-ization of the studio guys (before game five of Pistons-Bulls, Jon Barry, a man who is not SAS, said that Utah had "no chance" to take a 3-1 lead against Golden State and repeated it again with all the terrified conviction of a man reading a prepared statement provided by an Iranian mullah; you could almost see the black-hooded producer standing off camera and holding a gun to his child's head, Jack Bauer-style) to the infuriating -- INFURIATING -- tracking camera that makes it impossible to see a third of the floor, professional basketball on ABC is the worst production in all of sports. There is nothing positive about it. It actively detracts from the game in a way that single-camera indoor soccer or minor league hockey produced by Comcast Local do not have the resources to match. Whereas I'll watch just about any playoff game on TNT, unless the Pistons are involved anything on ABC is out of the question.
The camera is what really gets to me. I've spent 20 years watching basketball from the center court camera and I have never, ever thought "boy, I wish this camera was mounted on some sort of trolley and placed too close to the floor for anyone to see what was going on in the opposite corner." Everyone hates this thing. I do. Neal Pollack does. Bill Simmons (and Eric from Michigan) do:
â€¢ From Eric in Michigan: "Why did the NBA hire the director of 'The Blair Witch Project' to shoot the playoffs? It's nauseating to have the camera in constant motion."
Couldn't agree more. Trying to follow the action in Saturday's Spurs-Suns game made me feel like I had just dropped peyote with Tony Soprano. Did I miss the meeting where everyone decided, "Hey, the midcourt camera for NBA games just isn't cutting it anymore, our fans like it and they're used to it ... instead, let's use a really weird camera angle that makes them sick!"
Lord knows Salon sports guy King Kaufman has railed against it from the start. And as far as I know, no one has ever expressed any thing other than hate for the thing, real impassioned violent hate. I know whoever directs these things would like to be Roman Polanski or whatever, but know your role and show us the damn game. Practice your Coen Brothers shots on your own time.