Now that all the hand-wringing is out of the way, let's give this kid the treatment he deserves as a Michigan commit...
|NR, Not in Database||NR WR||NR, Not in Database|
Conway has flown very far under the radar thus far. The national sites hardly knew who he was before tonight, but the local writers have been on him for a while. I'll caution you, nearly every link in this section is going to come from Scott M. Burnstein of the Oakland Press:
That all said, when the curtain finally does come down on Conway's HS football career in the fall of 2010, he could wind up being one of the best players in the county, not to mention the state, certain to earn offers to play at the next level. Maples head coach, Chris Fahr, believes right now, even minus the experience and exposure factor, Conway is one of the ten best players at his position in Michigan... he can go deep or across the middle. he's not afraid of contact like some other finesse wideouts his size/caliber and he's said to have big hands, a big heart, and a true passion for the game... Playing on defense, Conway has the potential to be a lockdown corner, already slated to take on the opposing team's best receiver.
He doesn't look fast on his highlight video, but Burnstein insists that he's got some speed:
Watch for a big game from Seaholm's Shawn Conway, a wiry and wicked speedy wide out that tore up a scrimmage against Divine Child last week
In fact, his speed can be compared to a fast animal! HIs jumping can be compared to an NBA Hall-of-Famer! His hand size can be compared to a notable ape of cinema legend! His reality can be compared to a guy with half an ear!:
I was out at Seaholm practice this morning and let me tell you, junior wide receiver Shawn Conway is the real deal holyfield. This kid runs like a gazelle, has hops like Kobe Bryant, and hands the size of King Kong.
Conway has not only outstanding physical skills (especially great hands), but also the ability to inspire others around him to greatness:
His breath-taking skill was evident during the practice session as he caught almost every ball that came his way, a lot of them in traffic, and displayed a magnetic leadership ability that drew the best out of the players around him.
Burnstein even has a great idea for a Christmas gift for Conway:
To Birmingham Seaholm's Shawn Conway, I would give a deadly-accurate quarterback to play with for his senior season on the gridiron next fall – this kid is the genuine article on the football field, not to mention the basketball court, and is undervalued because most of his surrounding Maples teammates have trouble competing at anywhere near his level of play
Christian Davis of CandGnews.com talked to Seaholm's coach, who singled out Conway as the key offensive player for the Maples. Side note - per the quotes above, I'm fairly certain coach Fahr's actual quote was "inexperienced." He had to sit most of his sophomore year after transferring from Cass Tech.
“He’s one of the most experienced players I’ve ever coached,” coach Chris Fahr said. “He’s tall, fast and very athletic, and makes a lot of great plays on the field.”
Conway also contributes on the basketball court, where he's known as an "athletic and wiry forward" who plays the wing and is an accomplished dunker. The message boards say he's an AAU teammate of 2011 Michigan Hoops commit Carlton Brundidge, but I can't find any confirmation.
True to his sleeper status, Conway had only one offer. He accepted the scholarship from Michigan as soon as he received it.
According to mgoMember m83econ, Conway didn't have a whole lot of production as a junior:
Conway had 11 catches for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns in 5 games last year.
For those curious why a seemingly (or "allegedly" for those among you who still don't believe it) talented player didn't rack up some more impressive accomplishments on the field, I'll leave it to recruiting guru Jim Stefani:
Conway is a fine talent who also happened to have the misfortune of not having a QB who could consistently get him the ball this season.
Stefani is one of the best at identifying high school prospects, so trust this guy's opinion. Seaholm's quarterback was a noodle-armed sophomore who was forced into the lineup by injury. He'll return in 2010, hopefully much improved from the experience.
FAKE 40 TIME
Jim Stefani credits Conway with a 4.5-second 40-yard dash time. As you'll see in the video below, that's... questionable. I'll give it three FAKES out of five. (Update: see below).
Junior year highlights, complete with horrid QB play.
(Note: look at those hands!)
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
People are quick to bag on this kid because he's an unknown with a junior highlight reel that doesn't exactly wow your socks off. Still, I think we're too quick to write him off (just as we're quick to deify every 5-star prospect we hear about with a short highlight video). That's not to say "hurr star system sux because braylon edwards," but we should allow him to at the very least be evaluated before condemning him.
Still, based on that video, the speed thing looks like it might be an issue, and makes me wonder if he'll move to tight end down the line (or even a defensive position). He doesn't have a whole lot of weight on his frame, so if he can do that without losing any more of his speed, he could end up being the next TE/H-Back/WR hybrid-type substance, a la Kevin Koger.
Unless he spends his senior year running past DBs and proving that he's ready to play immediately, Conway is almost sure to end up redshirting as a freshman, whether he ends up as a tight end or wideout. Under Barwis, he'll either get bigger or improve his speed for a year, while also learning the playbook. After that, he'll slowly work his way into the lineup, and is a serious "boom or bust"-type prospect.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan won't be taking any more sleepers in the receiving corps (assuming they look at this kid as a sleeper, of course). They have had a couple wideout-heavy classes in a row now, so they'll probably hold another outside receiver spot only for a top prospect, such as DeAnthony Arnett or DaVaris Daniels.
The class is now up to 3 commits in 14 spots. Though the total number is certain to grow with normal attrition, scholarships are at a premium in the class of 2011. Offensive line and the defensive front seven will probably (hopefully) be the main focus for a while now.
Tom talked to Shawn, so here's their conversation:
Tom: Were you at Michigan today for the junior day when you committed?
SHAWN: Yes, and they just offered today. Coach Rod offered me as an outside receiver. They saw me in the 7 on 7 last summer, and they watched my film, and they really liked it. They told me that they were offering two players at outside wide receiver, and that I was one of them.
TOM: Did you expect the offer was coming, or was it a surprise?
SHAWN: I had no idea I was getting an offer. I knew that if they offered I would take it. My dad was there, and he said let’s do it; so we took it.
TOM: Not a lot of people really know about you, how would you describe yourself?
SHAWN: I’m a hard worker, and I’m 6’4 with a 38 inch vertical. I tell my quarterback, if you feel pressure, just throw the ball up, and I’ll go get it. I’ll go up and make a play. My best 40 time was a 4.49, but on average it’s a 4.56
TOM: When will you be up at Michigan next?
SHAWN: I think I’ll be there next weekend. My team is going to play in the 7 on 7.
TOM: I know you play basketball, too. Is that going to be an option at Michigan?
SHAWN: Coach Rod said he wouldn’t mind if I tried to walk on the basketball team, so I will definitely try to do that. Carlton (Brundidge) plays on my AAU basketball team, he was the first one I called when it happened. He was just really excited, and he said we should room together. We’ll see, I’m just excited about all this.
|WHAT||Michigan v. Penn State|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
Feb 20th, 2010
|THE LINE||Michigan -8.5*|
|TELEVISION||Big Ten Network (Tom Hamilton & Greg Kelser)|
*Line provided by online sports betting site Sportsbetting.com.
When Last We Met
Michigan was simply horrible to start the game, missing the first 14 three-pointers they took. The local dining establishment where I was watching the game decided to turn it off for several hours of BCS Championship pregame, and by the time I needled them into turning it back on, Michigan was... playing well? Penn State had a 19 point lead early in the second half, but the Wolverines didn't give up. Laval Lucas-Perry and Zack Novak drilled some clutch 3-balls, and Michigan scored 48 second-half points, tripling(!) their output from the first half.
DeShawn Sims scored 25 points on 17 shots for Michigan (and was subsequently named conference Player of the Week), though Manny Harris had an off game, scoring just 13 points and collecting 3 rebounds in 39 minutes. On the other side, the Wolverines were able to keep Talor Battle in check, holding him to 9 points. Chris Babb was the only Nittany Lion in double figures, putting up 14 points.
Since Last We Met
The loss dropped PSU to 0-3 in the conference, and if you had asked anyone if they thought it would be another 10 conference games before they'd finally win one, they probably would have laughed in your face. However, they managed to lose to both Iowa and Indiana (at home, no less!), and sat at 0-12 in the Big Ten until they effectively ended the tournament dreams of Northwestern in Evanston on Wednesday night.
Michigan, on the other hand, wasn't able to solve Northwestern at home or on the road, and has gone 5-6 since beating Penn State. They've made steady improvements with a couple shocking leaps backwards over the course of the season, and are just another middling Big Ten squad.
If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Penn State: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Penn State Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. PSU Def eFG%||196||243||M|
|Mich Def eFG% v. PSU eFG%||216||148||P|
|Mich TO% v. PSU Def TO%||17||339||MMMM|
|Mich Def TO% v. PSU TO%||54||86||M|
|Mich OReb% v. PSU DReb%||258||2||PPP|
|Mich DReb% v. PSU OReb%||228||246||M|
|Mich FTR v. PSU Opp FTR||337||15||PPPP|
|Mich Opp FTR v. PSU FTR||12||276||MMM|
|Mich AdjO v. PSU AdjD||85||129||M|
|Mich AdjD v. PSU AdjO||63||101||M|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
The numbers are slightly more favorable to Michigan than they were the first time around, but they're still close enough that the Wolverines don't look like an overwhelming favorite by any stretch. Talor Battle is still the star for PSU, though the Nittany Lions' only win came when he stayed in the background and let his teammates do most of the work.
For the first time in a while (that I can remember), Michigan should have the slight advantage in their ability to shoot the ball. If Laval Lucas-Perry and Stu Douglass can continue the hot streak that started against Iowa, it could be a good day for the Wolverines. Michigan should be able to hang onto the ball, and they'll look to take it away from Penn State to turn defense into offense.
Penn State has finally shown they're capable of winning a Big Ten game, and doing so on the road. If Michigan tries to sleepwalk through this game, there's a good chance of allowing the upset. However, if the Wolverines get back to the disciplined defense they've played at times this year, they should be able to hold off Penn State. I still like John Beilein's ability to gameplan against an opponent he's already seen this year, especially on long rest.
Moderate ado about nothing. So some guy sued the regents for that "informal" meeting that went down a couple weeks ago that discussed either earth-shaking sanctions or lopping off the heads of the people in compliance who screwed up the logging, depending on which probably-baseless internet speculation you prefer. Many internet lawyers have weighed in on the suit. The consensus appears to agree with this university spokesman:
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald told the Daily the regents meeting didn't violate any regulations set forth in the Michigan Open Meetings Act.
Fitzgerald said at the time the meeting did not fall under the act because it was an “informal” meeting of the Board of Regents, not a “closed” meeting as set forth in the act.
Additionally, Fitzgerald said the meeting was not even classifiable as a meeting as defined in the act. The Michigan Open Meetings Act defines a meeting as “the convening of a public body at which a quorum is present for the purpose of deliberating toward or rendering a decision on a public policy.”
Fitzgerald said because the meeting was not subject to the act, no meeting minutes were kept.
There's also an interesting thread on the board from a guy who just had an in depth conversation with a newspaper editor who recently filed a similar suit:
a winner in this lawsuit would get access to the information and reimbursement for attorney fees. However, these cases can last months (my contact mentioned legal fees had exceeded $40k for one case) and the reason a singular person may not pursue this for the “freedom of information”. Also, it is possible a judge may not rule in your favor due to opinion on if the procedures where properly followed and you are simply out the money with no access to the meeting minutes. Again, if I have other litigation pending, maybe I take the chance. If not, I would be an idiot since, even if I believe I am 100% right, I risk that a judge does not see my side of the case. I am also either representing myself or have a lawyer doing some pro-bono work since I would not want to bankroll this.
Having just heard a significant amount of information on this type of lawsuit from my newspaper editor contact, I am curious to understand the real motivations here. I struggle with the idea that a random person who reportedly loves the program and is only motivated by that he “…hopes and prays the university officials follow the rules…”.
Even if the suit has merit, the results of the investigation are due to be announced in a month or so, long before the thing could wind its way through the courts, and the only thing it would turn up would be records of the meeting-type object that evidently don't exist.
Folk interested in who this Very Concerned Alum is need only hop in the super-stalky thread on the message board. He's a litigation-happy Granholm political appointee currently mulling a re-election bid. Media reports consistently mention his status as an "alum," but he's not really:
Education: Graduated 1997, Renaissance High School, Detroit; BA in political science, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 2002; nearly two years at Thomas Cooley Law School, Oakland University
No offense to any satellite campus alums out there, but that's like claiming you're an Illinois alum when you went to UIC.
Would this be fake? Dolphins beatwriter Armando Salguero is advocating that Miami snatch Brandon Graham at #12—something that could actually give me an NFL team to root for if Ted Ginn gets deported—and runs a quote or two from BG. This would shatter the FAKE scale if accomplished, even at a combine:
He expects to run in the 4.5s at the Indianapolis Combine next week. And he loves the idea of playing 3-4 outside linebacker.
"Oh yeah, I feel real good," Graham says about dropping in coverage. "I've been working on my hips, working on my drops every day in practice for Michigan ... With a little coaching from the NFL guys, I believe I can get it done."
Stephen Ross now owns the Fins, so if he's as terrible an owner as Daniel Snyder this is definitely happening. In other BG news, New Era scouting says the similarities between Graham and Lamarr Woodley are "almost scary."
Aw, come on now. I like Andy Staples a lot but re-ranking recruiting classes after a few years and trying to pass this off is ridiculous:
2. Boise State
Analysis: Want to know why the Broncos are such a trendy pick to bust into the BCS title game next season? …
So how did the evaluators at Rivals -- and Scout and SI and everywhere else -- so badly underestimate this class? Simple. Boise State doesn't have a huge fan base. There aren't as many potential subscribers, so, from a business perspective, it doesn't make sense to spend as much time evaluating Boise State recruits as Alabama or Texas recruits. That's probably the biggest flaw in recruiting rankings; the teams outside the traditional power structure can be vastly underestimated. Because if you look only at the teams that traditionally finish in the top 15, the rankings are usually pretty accurate.
While I agree that bigger schools get a fudge factor Boise State doesn't*, it's virtually impossible to compare this class of Bronco starters to any other because all it's shown is vast superiority to the rest of the WAC. Boise has played one BCS schools the last two years, and while the Broncos beat pretty good Oregon teams both years that is nowhere near the sort of baseline you'd need to make that sort of assertion. If Cincinnati had played TCU and Boise State played Florida, are we having this conversation?
*(If Jake Ryan had committed to Boise State does he have three stars today? Probably not.)
Going back to the inconsistent and inconveniently-located well? UMHoops and the Wolverine Blog have a two-part basketball recruiting Q&A session that's required reading if you're interested in the future of Michigan basketball. There's a lot of Zeigler talk, and most of it has the same understated foreboding I've got: I don't think he ends up at Michigan. Given that and the lack of an official offer to Jon Horford, I thought this part was the most interesting:
Would Beilein potentially look to dip into Europe for another prospect?
This is an idea that I have seen thrown around. It makes sense because Beilein has looked across the pond for talent before. At West Virginia he brought in German forward Johannes Herber, who started every game in his West Virginia career and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. A couple years back he tried to bring in Robin Benzing, a 6-foot-10 German wing but he came up one question short on the SAT.
If you were wondering, Benzing is playing well in the professional leagues in Germany and is a member of the senior German national team. His video might make you weep when you imagine him in a Michigan uniform but here’s some additional ESPN draft hype for you masochists.
Seriously: do not look into Robin Benzing if you have a hammer handy. Trust me when I say that after he couldn't get eligible at Michigan, he suffered a series of improbable injuries and is now a librarian. Under no circumstances type his name into Google. If you defy these proclamations, you are required to immediately watch this.
I might be wrong about this, but my recollection of Benzing's recruitment was that the holdup wasn't academics but his amateur standing. Though he himself had not signed a contract, he had played on teams with professionals. At the time this was a no-no in the eyes of the NCAA and a major problem for coaches looking to extract talent from Europe. By August, however, the NCAA will abolish this rule for most sports, including basketball. This will make it a lot easier to grab European kids, and since Europe specializes in 6'10" guys who play like small forwards it's a place where Beilein could make some hay. We might see Horford in limbo until Beilein takes a trip to Europe in early April.
I seem to remember Dommanic Ingerson being more clothed, but I though I have sympathy for the guy can't say this is a huge surprise:
It's still a surprise. You never expect the next link to have a picture of a man who once played basketball at your alma mater emerging from a lake, naked and surrounded by cops.
If I had to pick one Ellerbe-era Michigan basketball player who would end up emerging naked from a lake surrounded by cops it would be Tractor Traylor—who is an exception to the "never expect naked lake emergence from" rule—but Ingerson would probably be second. He epitomized Ellerbe's weird focus on players who had obvious emotional problems. Ingerson was the sort of uncoachable nightmare who would launch a three the instant he crossed half court, get benched for it, and do the exact same thing the next time he got in the game. If you're being nice you might term him an "enigmatic sophomore," as the Wolverine Blog does, but there wasn't much enigma there. He was just a guy who thought a 20% chance at three points was a good gamble and could not be dissuaded.
Ingerson was the epitome of a bad risk on Michigan's part, a mistake one that Ellerbe repeated two or three times a recruiting class. Remember Kevin Gaines? Maurice Searight? Avery Queen? Michigan loaded their roster with naked lake guys in the Ellerbe era; program and player invariably failed each other. If it was one guy here or there that would be understandable. It's the frequency and lack of success that made the late-era Fisher and any-era Ellerbe tenure so loathsome. Even when your problem children turn out to be pretty good basketball players they were often Traylor and Taylor sorts who were hard to root for, to say the least.
The obvious comparison given hoopla over the past couple weeks is Demar Dorsey and possibly Justin Feagin. Since no one got to see Feagin do much more than run an Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draw or four, it's hard to draw a comparison to the Ellerbe guys who Michigan fans got to be frustrated at over the course of a season, but he's a guy who showed up and promptly exited due to mutual failure.
It's in the numbers here. Michigan signed Demar Dorsey but they also signed Courtney Avery and a bunch of other guys who have shiny grade point averages and letters from Stanford. This Super Bowl featured Saints starting center Jonathan Goodwin, a starter around these parts several years ago who got into serious trouble for robbing a K-Mart and made it okay. It's about outcomes. Brian Ellerbe's were miserable. Under his guidance, the Michigan basketball program seemed like a misbegotten halfway house where troubled basketball players could come, make no effort at developing on or off the court, and spend a year of dorm luxury before that lack of care caught up to them.
That picture above says that Michigan deserved everything they got during their long period of basketball wilderness, not because of Ed Martin but because of Fisher and Taylor and Ellerbe and the list of guys from the mid-90s who could be in that shot, wondering how to keep his privates private when the cuffs go on.
Today, I'm reminded of a story.
It was during that  southern trek that he watched a University of Georgia baserunner try to score from second base on a single to center when a strong throw home seemed to beat the runner. When the umpire yelled “safe,” Michigan catcher Goodloe Rogers spun about and hit the umpire while players swarmed onto the field.
“Rogers was always getting into fights,” said Rickey later, in barely concealed glee. “I never could find out whether or not he started them, but he was always involved. We were down playing Georgia. I was on crutches as a result of a broken leg [a batted ball in practice had fractured a small bone in his foot]. Well, as usual, a fight started around home plate, and I hobbled off the bench and must have prodded several players with my crutches.”
Rogers, the team’s colorful, zany, and angry man - the sort of person Rickey always loved to have on his ball clubs - watched his coach in action.
“When the brawl was over, there lay B.R. flat on his back near home plate, his leg in a cast sticking straight up in the air. On of his crutches was found in the Georgia dugout. The other was in the stands.”
That came from an biography of Branch Rickey. It's been a rough year as a Michigan sports fan. Sure, volleyball was fun, but the last year has been one disappointment after another in the big sports that most of hang on to dearly.
Last year's opening day post at Varsity Blue came in a much different time. It had been a mild winter, and spring had already been starting to crack through to end the dreary season. Michigan was coming off 3 straight BigTen regular season titles. There was a warm feeling all around.
Every Opening Day, I have this tradition. I pray -- hard. One prayer for each loss in the previous season. It usually takes all day. But I think it's working. - Royals fan "Troy" in Liberty, Mo.
This year was something a little bit different. The Michigan athletics curse of 2009-2010 began to creep. After a dominant start in the BigEast/BigTen Challenge, Michigan started to struggle. Pitchers fatigued, players were injured, and ugly losses began to rear their head.
It ended up being a tough year, but as the saying goes, hope springs eternal. This spring is no different. Michigan has reloaded with the #18 overall recruiting class in the country, something nearly unheard of for a Northern program. The Wolverines return all but one major contributor to the 2009's best Big Ten pitching staff. Several key players have an extra year's experience.
This year we're hungry. Last season was a bad call by some crack-pot, home-cooking umpire from Georgia in 1912. This season is a fight for respect. Michigan is back at full health and they've got no other use for these crutches. Michigan is coming out swinging.
Weekend preview after the jump.