According to a text he sent to Tom VanHaaren, FL DT Richard Ash has committed to Michigan. Ash is a Pahokee kid, the fourth to sign on with Michigan in three years, and either a three-tech DT (ie: Ryan Van Bergen) or a strongside defensive end.
Early in the recruiting year he had a ton of tres impressive offers—Florida, Miami, USC—but his options dwindled as those schools filled up. He committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, but that was always shaky and Doc Holliday's departure to become Marshall's head coach was the final nail in their coffin.
More informative update on its way.
Defensive tackle lovers, rejoice! Michigan has extended the Pahokee pipeline into the Class of 2010 (Martavious Odoms was the '08 representative, and Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne hailed from the Muck in the 2009 class) by convincing FL DT Richard Ash to switch his commitment from West Virginia to the Wolverines.
|3*, #48 DT||4*, #24 DT||3*, 77, #52 DT|
The three sites don't quite agree on what they think of Ash's ability, and Rivals is definitely the outlier, as they give him 4 stars and say he's the 24th-best DT in the class. ESPN's evaluation:
Ash moves around the defensive line in high school and at this point he is a bit of a 'tweener between the tackle and end spot. He could start off in college as a defensive end, but in the long run we think he projects as a defensive tackle or...
Not too much evaluation of his ability, but rather just his eventual position. Scout lets Richard talk about his strengths and weaknesses:
“I’m quick off the ball. I have a good first step and have great hands. I use them good and have great technique. I like to play quick and fast.
“I want to run better and get faster in the forty. I’d like to be more explosive because that would help me get more sacks.”
So he's quick (understandable for a smaller DT), and claims to have good technique. He needs to get into better shape, from the sounds of things. Not sure how he can reconcile "I am quick" with "I need to get more explosive," but whateva. His coach, the improbably-named Blaze Thompson, praises his work ethic and athleticism.
Long story short: He's a moderate prospect with more upside (he's only played football since 9th grade) than immediate potential.
Update: duplicate effort here, but I've got some other quotes to throw in:
Ash was an obvious D-I prospect early; when he showed up at the Miami Nike camp Rivals' Barry Every praised his "great body structure and really long arms," calling him "easily the best-looking interior defensive lineman physically in the camp."
In June, the Miami Herald ranked him a meh 90th in the state, saying:
90. Richard Ash, DT, 6-3, 265, Pahokee: After a solid junior season, this gifted athlete continues to make a lasting impression this spring. Talking with college coaches, they just love his quickness, strength and knowledge of the game. Plays the run very well and knows how to penetrate the backfield. Has steadily become a major force for one of the premier teams in the state of Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel, on the other hand, had him the third best defensive lineman in the state and declared his "great speed" made him "special."
Ash went to Florida's camp and didn't do so well. This is from SoFlaFootball's Luke Stampini:
No one seems to know for sure [about Ash and UF], a lot of speculation. Some say UF has cooled on him, but I can't find a straight answer.
He came to UF's camp out of shape and tested poorly in the 40 and vert. He performed well in 1-on-1's, but certainly not to the level of Ronald Powell (All-World DE from Cali).
This is a theory that one Richard Ash also supports:
"I've been hearing things that Florida doesn't want me after I tested at camp because of my 40 and my vertical," Ash told GatorBait.net. "I did good in the one-on-ones but I guess the 40 and vertical lowered me on Florida's scale. … They didn't like me as much after camp. That's what I've been hearing."
Somewhat oddly, the USC offer came after the meh camp performances. Later, Stampini would follow up on that in response to a West Virginia fan:
I doubt [WVU pulled its offer]. Florida did for some reason (most believe poor 40 and vert at camp), but UF has had some screwy recruitments that I think will come back and haunt them.
Then FSU came out and said they dropped Richard as well, but it was interesting timing coming a day after Richard basically said he would not be going to FSU in an interview.
LSU and USC Trojans appear to want Ash to commit, and I thought WVU was in Ash's top 4 with USF also.
One defensive coach I've talked to loves the fact Ash has a good frame to add weight, long arms, moves very well for his size, is 16 yrs old still, and is from Pahokee. He feels he can take those characteristics, coach him up a couple years and have an All-Conference caliber player.
And a final scouting report from Stampini:
Well Florida and FSU offered him. UF really wanted him to commit early, but he went and worked out at their camp tested poorly, performed average and the Gators dropped him. Before that Ash did an article stating he wasn't going to FSU (for whatever reason he never liked them) and the next day it comes out FSU was no longer recruiting him.
Now Ash has all the physical tools to be extremely good, but it his motivation has come into question. If someone can get in his head to work hard, get in shape, go all out every snap, he could get paid to play the game. Sometimes lighting a fire under someones rear is easier said than done though. Another issue with Ash (and most of those Pahokee lineman) is his play did not improve from his JR year to SR year like most prospects.
So… yeah, the rollercoaster was understandable.
At one point Ash's offer list stacked up with anyone's. As early as May, when his stock was "exploding," he had 14 offers, some of them major. In June, Florida had offered and led. In early July, USC offered and moved into the lead. Plus when he committed the first time around he mentioned offers from Michigan, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, South Carolina, and UCLA plus a bunch of others. An absolute ton of schools were after this guy.
The weird bit is that when Ash committed these were the schools in his final five other than West Virginia:
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle also listed USC, Rutgers, Minnesota and South Florida as three schools he was seriously interested in.
What a bizarre list. USC plus three schools that are Lilliputian recruiters relative to the Trojans. And no Michigan, the school he would commit to in two weeks.
So what happened? It appeared a bunch of schools cooled off on Ash after some uninspiring camp performances. By September, Ash was reporting that USC offer but mentioning that he hadn't heard from them in a while. Florida turned off their interest more explicitly, as Stampini detailed above.
The UCLA interest was sincere and persistent, as he went on an official there. LSU brought him in for the Florida game, too, and West Virginia and Michigan were both hot after him. So not everyone was turned off, just the two programs who can basically pick and choose perfect prospects all day.
His high school stats weren't explosive but this is a defensive tackle. Junior:
Ash had 80 tackles, seven for loss, four sacks, and one interception.
FAKE 40 TIME
All three recruiting sites have Ash listed in the 4.85 to 4.9 range, so there's some internal consistency at least. That's a believable time for a defensive end, but since Ash is expected to move to tackle, and admits he wants to work on his speed, it's worthy of two FAKEs out of five.
Ash is a defensive tackle, and therefore doesn't have any fil... wha? Here's the Richard Ash highlight reel:
There are also some impressive senior highlights, but I can't embed them.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ash is not an immediate-impact type, and with Michigan's current depth on the defensive line, he won't be pushed into duty as a true freshman. A redshirt is in order to bulk up for the defensive tackle position or get into shape to be a big defensive end for 3-man fronts. Whichever position the coaches decide to let him play, he'll need a year under the strength and conditioning program to be ready to make contributions.
Ash is a boom-or-bust prospect. The up-and-down recruiting saga indicates a player with outstanding natural talent but some motivation and work ethic issues that USC and Florida don't have to take chances on. Thus the offers that ended up retracted. (The Florida State issue just appeared to be Ash not having much interest.)
Hopefully at Michigan he'll be more boom than bust, as he'll be around three other Pahokee kids who seem to be extremely hard workers—Odoms, at least, works like a dog on the field—and under the tutelage of Mike Barwis. If you end up at Michigan, you're going to end up working hard. He's also young for his grade, as Stampini mentions above, which gives him yet more upside. There's always a chance any prospect washes out entirely and Ash is farther away from his ceiling than really high-level prospects, but that ceiling appears to be about the same. If he puts in the work, he can be an all-conference player.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has two three-tech defensive tackles (ie, RVBs) committed with OH DT Terrance Talbott the other. That meets a major need since Van Bergen is coming up on his junior year and the only other player on the depth chart is fifth-year senior Greg Banks. Assuming that these guys don't decommit a la Dequinta Jones and Pearlie Graves last year, Michigan will have filled that spot with a couple of slightly undersized guys who will probably take a redshirt—Banks gives Michigan that luxury—and then start a long war to be the nominal starter once Van Bergen graduates.
Since MI DT Jonathan Hankins plays the nose, he is still an option.
Etc.: Maybe Ash ended up not committing to USC because he watched The Day After Tomorrow too much?
“I was worried cause they say they have earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires.”
How do any of those differed from riding out a hurricane in Florida?
“Oh, see that’s something I’m used to, I ain’t ever experienced an earthquake,” said a laughing Ash.
Christmas is in nine days and you haven't purchased an MGoShirt for your fish, you terrible person, you. Imagine how cold your fish are going to be on Christmas morning when you gather around the tree to open your presents or flop around in an terrifying, airless, alien environment. As the light dims in their eyes all they will be able to think about is how their death could express disdain for the state of Ohio…
…IN FABULOUS AMERICAN APPAREL!!!
Woo! The following shirts are now available in luxuriously soft, eco-friendly, creepily-modeled American Apparel sizes from XXL to XS:
Still in effect: free shipping on orders over $50 and 20% off all this month. Hail and Biff eating the mascots are also available as hoodies. Consume!
Short Update this week, as the recruiting class is getting wrapped up in short order. All updates can be found on the Michigan Football Recruiting Board. Next week's update will probably be of the "class overview" variety. After that, the focus is very likely to shift to the 2011 class.
One Of The Best Defense... Plays
For those who live under a rock, the heading references the gentlelady from Florida.
MD LB Josh Furman will announce his decision this Saturday at the Maryland Crab Bowl. He went on the local television sets to talk about the bowl itself, as well as his college decision and the extraordinary season he had at Old Mill this year. Furman's decision, between UM and Virginia Tech, is expected to go in favor of the Wolverines. He announces on the 19th.
Although FL DT Richard Ash committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, he visited Michigan the weekend of the 4th, and now Sam Webb has said on WTKA that he has a "strong gut feeling" that Ash will switch that commitment to the Wolverines. For those who don't regularly listen to the Recruiting Roundup (and I know it's become a lot more difficult since the WTKA website has been having technical issues for a couple weeks now), that means Sam has been told that this will happen, and it's not merely a guess.
Michigan will receive a visit from FL CB/S Rashad Knight later this winter ($, info in header). Knight was originally slated to visit for the Ohio State game, but missed his flight.
A commitment from Ash coupled with the presumed silent commitments from Grimes, Murphy, and Furman would bring Michigan to 27 members of the class, leaving one slot open for any of the various players listing Michigan—CA S Sean Parker, CA LB Tony Jefferson, MI DT Jonathan Hankins, TX DT "Big Tex" Beachum, etc—unless there's a decommitment or a kid who is far enough away from qualifying that Michigan pulls a scholarship offer. Of those players, Hankins has seems the most likely but is currently rotating like a pulsar, having declared Florida his leader and then suggesting that commitments to Michigan and then Ohio State were imminent.
Jefferson is supposed to be a package deal with CA WR Kenny Stills and has dropped Florida, leaving both players considering Oklahoma and Michigan, with Oklahoma the favorite. No one really knows what Parker's up to.
#Michigan commit Carvin Johnson told me LSU has not offered, and an offer from them would not change his commitment to Michigan.
Though Carvin's Rummel team failed to take home the State Championship this weekend, he was still named the game's MVP.
In other "committed safety championship game" news, Ray Vinopal comes in for some high praise from the coach of Columbus St. Francis DeSales, which dropped the Ohio State Championship to Vinopal's Cardinal Mooney team:
"Playing for Mooney, you know you're going to see kids that are disciplined, smart and technically sound, but you add in this kid's abilities and you really have something special," said Wiggins, who coached U-M's Patrick Omameh.
"You want to talk about a kid that can flat out run, though - Vinopal was probably the fastest kid we played against all season, and we had a very competitive schedule.
This goes right along with everything we've heard about Vinopal: well-coached, mentally ready to play the game. However, it also touts something that isn't usually praised, which is Vinopal's physical ability. Braylon Heard, Cardinal Mooney's feature back, is a West Virginia commit oft-praised for his speed, and DeSales also played a number of other guys with HIGHLY ACCURATE and not at all FAKE 40 times in the 4.4 range on Rivals. Very interesting point there, if it's not just lip service from Wiggins (which it may very well be). So far in this article we are seriously lacking white guy adjectives, though, right?
"He's tough and gritty - just a tremendous player."
Ah, that's more like it.
NC LB Kris Frost, a likely 4-star prospect in the 2011 class, is hearing from Michigan already.
"He's an energy ball," Butler quarterback Christian LeMay said. "He's always ready to play, ready to practice. I can't say enough about him. He's a piece of the heart of this team. He leads our defense."
I've added Frost to the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. (He's pictured at right, courtesy the Charlotte Observer's David T. Foster).
NY QB Ashton Broyld is getting attention from some schools as a linebacker, but he wants to play QB in college. Michigan is one of the schools that's talking to him (he was a 2009 summer camper), and he might be a good prospect for Michigan, if they can't get a top-top guy (i.e. Frost's teammate Lemay). That would give them a QB in the 2001 class, but leave open the door for an elite 2012 guy. For a little more on Broyld, check out his junior highlight film.
Is Michigan back in the game for OH S Latwan Anderson? I'll believe it when he visits. Michigan is showing interest in FL LB Darrin Kitchens. If that interest continues, I'll add him to the board next week. AnnArbor.com fluff on WI P Commit Will Hagerup. More talking about early enrollees. The list is no different than last time we talked about it. Everyone at the Shrine Bowl seems to think SC QB commit Conelius Jones is destined for wideout in college.
The lamentation of your women.
via user chunkums
He loves it. The lamentation.
All American. I'm pleasantly surprised that both recruiting networks named Brandon Graham to their All-America teams after he was snubbed by the first of the infinite lists that came out—FWAA or something. Graham and Zoltan the Inconceivable also feature on the AP's second team, which is nice. Zoltan got the second team nod at Scout, too.
This Drew Butler kid who stole first team honors and the Ray Guy award… well… probably deserved it. Before you stone me to death—a fate I willingly accept for such heresy—please let me note that Butler averaged almost 49(!) yards a kick and Georgia led the country with a 42.8 yard net average.
Expansion bits. Various notes and errata on possible expansion:
- Sentiment is running strongly against a move to the Big Ten at Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician with 56% opposed to a move versus just 19% in favor. In the comments the most commonly cited reason is John Boeheim, who is credited with assembling the Big East with his bare hands and would instantly quit if he had to play in a different sandbox.
- BHGP points out that the BFD with the CIC is post-grad Research I stuff, not necessarily undergraduate education, which Big Ten schools are supposed to look at as a necessary evil.
- Missouri's chancellor said MU would "listen" to the Big Ten should it come calling, so they will at least flirt with a Big 12 departure.
The useful comment thread from the Grid of Judgment has these additional bits of information:
- Pitt's got a monster endowment: $2.334 billion, according to unnecessarily precise poster Don. That's more than anyone in the league except Northwestern and Michigan.
- Multiple posters suggest that Nebraska is seriously pissed off you guys about Texas's reign as supreme unquestioned ruler of the Big 12 and could really give a crap about the rest of the league save for Colorado. Oklahoma already rotates off their schedule.
- Rutgers is apparently a mediocre school on the decline, which explains why there are so many kids from Jersey at Michigan.
And any thread on expansion comes with an increasingly preposterous series of candidate schools that make sense in no way whatsoever: Texas A&M, TCU, Toronto, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Auburn, Rice—seriously, someone suggested Rice—etc.
Virginia Tech seems plausible at first blush but after UVA fought tooth and nail to get them into the ACC lest the governor get out his pimp hand a jump to the Big Ten seems wildly improbable. They would probably be more willing to jump than any other ACC team since they could give a crap about basketball and don't have longstanding rivalries with anyone in the league. Last time I brought this up I mentioned Boston College as a crazy off-board option, and I guess they remain one. They bring a huge market with them but one that is slightly busy with other things, and they don't fit the Big Ten's huge public research university model. They would get tripped up by the Research One thing.
Pitt still looks like the strongest candidate by far. For people wondering about money, remember that Pitt can be slightly less marketable than the Big Ten average—which I don't think they are given their currently monstrous basketball program—and still be a major asset because of the championship game and increased profitability from the Big Ten Network.
As far as divisions go, there's no way to make them work geographically without turning into a version of the Big 12 on steroids by chucking Penn State, Michigan, and Ohio State into the same division. You also can't keep all the rivalries together if Pitt is indeed the pick. You try to split this into six team divisions:
Can't be done without murdering one traditional rivalry or the entire point of putting Pitt in the conference. Missouri is much easier, since you just throw them in with Illinois and Northwestern and put them in the Michigan pod.
I'd prefer an expanded status quo with a ninth conference game, guaranteed rivalry pairs, and a couple byes but apparently you have to have two divisions to have a title game, which is inane but true.
Heismens of all varieties. So the actual Heisman went to a good running back on an undefeated team instead of, you know, the best player in the country. Or even the best running back. A lot of this can be ascribed to the Heisman's bloated list of voters and their lack of accountability. I mean, seriously, here's a guy with a Heisman vote whose ballot read Ingram, Tebow, McCoy:
I never saw Gerhart play an entire game (we work all day Saturday and Saturday night) and only saw a few minutes of Suh’s game against Texas. I refused to vote for somebody based on highlights.
I'm impressed that this guy managed to spin his ignorance into a principled stance against voting "based on highlights" instead of taking a principled stand against voting based on the three football games he saw this year.
So hurrah for the Sports Blog Heisman coming out approximately correct by handing Toby Gerhart the trophy over Ndamukong Suh by one point. Here's guessing that everyone who voted saw Gerhart and Suh for at least one game. Not that bloggers are perfect. A few years ago when Rakes of Mallow was running its now-defunct version of the same thing, the winner was Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan, which ugh.
Of course. Here's Fielding Yost curling in a silly hat:
Etc.: Corwin Brown is out at Notre Dame. If there is an opening on the coaching staff, could he fill it? He doesn't coach LBs, unfortunately, but has slayed on the recruiting trail. Wonk asks "What Happened to Michigan?"
Schools that have been brought up at one time or another but are not worth a fuller discussion for various reasons.
Schools that would say no
Texas. Blame those Texas newspaper articles describing UT's flirtation with the Big Ten after the SWC exploded, but Texas comes up whenever this topic does. Despite the travel involved the Big Ten would do that in a heartbeat; Texas is a fantastic school that opens up copious television markets and is a national power in both football and basketball.
Texas would not, though. They are the master and commander of an entire conference with weak revenue sharing relative to the Big Ten. They have longstanding rivalries with virtually everyone in the Big 12 South. And their nationally competitive baseball program would be badly hurt by joining what's basically a mid-major conference.
Nebraska. Massive football tradition and geographically somewhat feasible but there's no way the Cornhuskers would give up a 100 years of rivalries for the Big Ten. Have no links to anyone in the conference.
Notre Dame. If the Big Ten is doing this when Notre Dame's NBC contract has six years to run, the Irish are not in the mix.
Schools that don't offer enough
Iowa State. Why on earth would anyone want Iowa State in their conference? No TV market and no success in either major sport. If Iowa doesn't want them, and I'm sure they don't, why would anyone else?
West Virginia. Tier III institution would probably get rejected by the presidents. Good programs in football and basketball but brings zero recruiting base and zero television market. If the only considerations were on-field performance they'd be the obvious #1 choice but all their peripherals are poor.
Cincinnati. Legitimate traditional basketball power (two national titles in the 60s to go with the Huggins era) and nouveau riche football school, but probably destined for a major drop with Brian Kelly out the door. Academically, a non-starter: it's a tier III commuter school.
Louisville. Geographically and athletically plausible but a tier III institution.
Rutgers. Hypothetically brings New Jersey and New York markets into play, except few really care about Rutgers when they're not good and they've rarely been good. Very rarely. Basketball program a nonentity; football was a nationwide punchline until the arrival of Greg Schiano, at which point they've had one standout year and a bunch of middling ones that end in nondescript bowl games.
Missouri. Geographically adjacent and has longstanding, if on-and-off, rivalry with Illinois. Good, not great, state school that would be the worst-ranked school in the league but not by much, especially after a post-CIC bump. Brings a new, large TV market into play. Also brings Don Draper with it.
Negatives: neither football or basketball is the sort of program that brings any wow factor, though the football program is a solid and developing one under Gary Pinkel. And Mizzou has been in the Big 8/12 since its inception. Fevered rivalry with Kansas and the sort of non-rivalry with Nebraska that saw Mizzou on the end of dozens of heinous beatings to the point where if Pinkel hadn't run up the score in the final year of Callahan he would have taken he would have taken heat for it.
Would Mizzou go? I mentioned them on the radio yesterday, at which point someone who grew up in the area called in to cast doubt on the possibility the Tigers would even consider leaving the Big 12. He certainly knows better than I do. On the other hand, some Mizzou folks have started a pro-Big Ten blog and the Rock M Nation thread discussing BHGP's discussion of a potential move is split down the middle. The local paper's Mizzou beatwriter, however, is adamant:
RT @Kevin_Baum What's your take on mizzou's chances of joining the big 10? ... To quote Dean Wormer, Zero Point Zero
I don't know. I expect that Mizzou would at least flirt with the Big Ten in an effort to get the Big 12's revenue sharing increased.
Pitt. Obvious natural rivalry with Penn State that makes the Nittany Lions less of an odd duck in the league both geographically and culturally. Brings another TV market, though Pittsburgh is an area that already gets the BTN. Rich tradition in football and has been intermittently decent over the last decade; basketball program has recently built itself into a national power but has little in the way of history.
Scholastically Pitt would be an average Big Ten team, which is very strong relative to other serious candidates. And there's no question whether they would jump or not: Pitt would kill to get in the Big Ten. They'd get to play Penn State, they'd get a ton more football revenue, the basketball would be fine, and they could play WVU out of conference.
Negatives: they play in a sterile NFL stadium that's usually half-empty, though a Big Ten fan with road-trip inclinations could view that as a positive. And adding Mizzou or Syracuse or whatever puts another state in the BTN footprint; Pittsburgh doesn't. And you could see this hurting Big Ten schools' Pittsburgh-area recruiting. Now players in the area can pick between the Big Ten or staying close to home; in the future they can have both.
Syracuse. Geographically somewhat awkward; football program has totally imploded since Paul Pasqualoni fell off. On the other hand, an excellent school (almost exactly on par with Pitt) with a powerhouse basketball program. Their location is a blessing and a curse: it's far away but also makes the Big Ten considerably more important in New York (state, not City).
Syracuse might like it in the Big East enough to shoot down an overture, though. They're decidedly more eastern than a lot of Big East schools.
Grid! Grid of judgment!
A legend: teams are graded on a 3 point scale, where 0 is
uncatchable a factor so poor it disqualifies the program in question, 1 is is an active detriment, 2 is "meh", and 3 is a positive. The "average" column does not include "willingness," since it's an attempt to judge the attractiveness of the teams only.
"Other sports" rankings derived from Director's Cup standings.
Your winners amongst the even distantly feasible: Pitt and Missouri, and Missouri is only distantly feasible. Both are clearly poor options relative to Notre Dame, but that ain't happening. Your projected 12th Big Ten school: Pitt.
I got a couple requests in the inbox for a take on Big Ten expansion after Barry Alvarez made a comment the other day about the Big Ten adding that elusive twelfth team. On the assumption that Alvarez was just making an idle statement and expansion was a distant possibility at best, I was going to dig up the post I made two years ago detailing pros and cons of various candidate schools and leave it at that.
But it appears that Alvarez was not just idly speculating:
It has been 19 years since the Big Ten expanded to 11 teams, and it appears the conference is ready to seriously explore moving to an even dozen.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was expected to release a statement later Tuesday to say the conference is ready to consider the addition of a 12th team.
That would be in about half an hour. It's time to update the above list, which I am in the process of doing right now.