5'9", 155 lbs.
Cape Coral, Florida
Prince is an athlete fit for Rich Rodriguez' system, and could fill a spot as a slot in the offense very nicely. Holloway is from Florida, but says he has no problem with distance. As for what schools stand out to him right now, he had this to say:
There's still some other schools I'm looking at, but West Virginia and Michigan are the top two schools right now. I'll most likely take an official visit to Michigan, I'm just not sure when.
I don't think he'll have a good grasp for where he wants to go until he takes his visits. I think West Virginia might have a slight edge right now, but like I said the visits will change a lot of what he's thinking. He would be a nice addition to the offense and return game. [Ed: If Michigan has room. Slot is not a big priority in this class.]
6'4", 247 lbs.
West Branch, Michigan
As everyone knows Anthony is one of Michigan's top priorities for this class. At first it seemed as if it would be a quick and painless courtship, and now it's likely to drag out to the end of the season. Zettel just came back from a visit to Penn State, and had a great time. As far as how his season will pan out, he said this:
I probably won't take officials to Michigan or MSU, because I've been there so many times already. I will most likely take official visits to Penn State and Iowa, though. I'll be at a couple Michigan games during the season, just not officials.
I understand his logic behind not taking official visits to either in state school, but I think it gives Penn State and Iowa a slight advantage, at least relative to where they were before. On an official visit the recruits get to spend the night and hang out with the players, go out at night, and really experience what it's like to be up there. He may have already done that at Michigan, but coming to a game doesn't give that same experience. I am still on the optimistic side though, and I think Michigan is still in prime position. He won't be making his decision any time soon:
My parents and I think it's best to wait until after the season to make a decision.
If Michigan wins, we're golden. If not, it will be a dogfight, or a lot of questions will need to be answered.
5'10", 185 lbs.
Fort Meyers, Florida
Crawford was up at Michigan for the spring game with wide receiver Sammy Watkins, his teammate. It was their first time up to Michigan, and it left a lasting impression for a few reasons:
When we went up for the spring game, it exceeded my expectations. I've heard about the great tradition at Michigan, but being up there and seeing it is a great thing. The campus, everything is great. I had the best hamburger I've ever had at the Brown Jug.
Good food on campus is a plus for Dallas. With the season approaching, it's almost time to start thinking about who's going to make the cut, and what schools are left.
My list right now is LSU, Michigan, Wake Forest, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Miami. I think I'll take all of my official visits. One of those schools I'll have to drop, so I'll drop it down first. I think Michigan has a very, very, very realistic chance with me.
The weather has been mentioned with Dallas, as it sometimes is with Florida kids, and possibly going to the same school as his teammate Sammy.
Weather doesn't really matter to me. It was 30 degrees at the spring game at Michigan, and that would probably be around the coldest game I would play in. Eventually you'd have to play someone up north, so that's no big deal. With Sammy, if it happens it happens. I don't know if it will, we gotta do what's best for us.
It should be noted that Dallas holds a 3.52 GPA, and said he's qualified with the clearinghouse. I haven't confirmed this, but there are rumors that Watkins may have grade issues that could prevent him from choosing certain schools.
Coach Frey has made a great impression on Dallas, and has developed a nice relationship as well. Crawford's high school coach is a Michigan fan, and believes that the Michigan coaches would treat him well, too. He appears to be a reason that the coaches have put LA CB Daren Kitchen on the back burner for now—Michigan is in great position with Crawford.
Dallas is probably going to wait to make his decision, but said it will also most likely be before signing day.
- Tommy Schutt - Tommy is a big defensive tackle (6'3", 300 lbs.) from Glenbard West in Illinois. If you feel like that school sounds familiar it's because that's the same school of 2011 OL recruit Jordan Walsh. Not only are they teammates, but they're good friends, too. Michigan will be one of the top schools that Tommy looks at, and his coach had some good news for the future:
My coach told me that Michigan will be offering me on September first. I know Jordan is very interested in Michigan, and if he went there it would have an effect on my decision.
September 1st is the first day that 2012 recruits can get written offers. A name to keep an eye on for sure, as he already has verbal offers from Illinois and Iowa.
- Vin Ascolese - Vin is an outside linebacker (6'2", 196 lbs.) from New Jersey. Ascolese was an attendee at the spring game this year, and has also taken visits to Penn State, Boston College, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma. Everything is still fresh in his mind, and he said the spring game was very energetic. The Michigan coaches say they like his size and athleticism, and are going to keep in contact with him. You can take a look at his sophomore highlights here.
- As I mentioned the other day, DE/LB Austin Traylor out of Ohio narrowed his list down this weekend. The list consists of (in no order) Michigan, Minnesota, MSU, Cincinnati, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Kentucky. A pretty broad narrowed down list, if you ask me. We'll see if Michigan decides to show him enough interest, they may wait to see how some other prospects pan out first.
- Don't expect OL Chris Bryant to make his decision in the near future. He loves Michigan, but told me he will be waiting to make his decision at least a few games into the season. He wants to see how everyone's season starts off before deciding.
You probably dismissed the idea of Michigan playing a huge nonconference game against Alabama in two years in Jerryworld as crackpot rumor-mongering of the sort the internet specializes in. Michigan's on the road against ND, leaving a maximum of six home games, it's transparently silly to play a college football game thousands of miles from either college, and Michigan hasn't played a neutral-site OOC game basically ever. It seemed instantly implausible.
But apparently it is happening. The contract is being signed Monday. Which is tomorrow.
The following details are unconfirmed but of interest since they come from an established source:
- Game is happening because a desperate Jerry Jones "overpaid."
- Michigan will be the nominal home team (important mostly for TV rights) and receive more money.
- There's no additional game scheduled and there may not be.
- Jones might be well-positioned to provide some advice on HD scoreboards.
This comes with a set of crazy conflicting emotions. Hurray awesome nonconference game, boo that it's in fricking Dallas in a corporate death star of an NFL stadium and not a home-and-home in Ann Arbor and Tuscaloosa. I guess that's what it takes for a lot of actual nonconference games to get done these days, but awesomeness of trip to Dallas to see M play 'Bama <<<<<< awesomeness of M-Bama home-and-home. On the other hand, awesomeness of M-Bama Dallas >>>>>>> awesomeness of M-BGSU anywhere.
[Note on sourcing: in this case I am going with one source, but he is a very established one.]
Falk never stops. Falk.
I'd look suspicious, too, kid. Via the SI vault, Desmond Howard dealing with the world's least enthusiastic autograph-seeker:
"Why don't you get out of that bucket of ice," I says, and he says "because you're wearing a Bulls jersey, a Phillies hat, and asking me to sign a Jaguars pennant. Also because I'm in crippling pain."
Score-o. Thanks to the largess of some guy who sold his company to Shell for just under five billion-with-a-b dollars, Penn State's perennial powerhouse club hockey team appears on the verge of moving on up to the big time:
Rumors and speculation have existed for more than a decade, but it finally appears Penn State is on the verge of building a new ice hockey arena near the Bryce Jordan Center and adding Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs.
“We’re close,” a source close to the situation told the Mirror on Thursday. “It won’t be long before we’ll be able to potentially make some kind of announcement. But it’s not a done deal yet.”
Close means within two months. Score. Penn State adding hockey would be the biggest positive development in college hockey since… uh… the shuttering of Division II gave D-I enough teams to expand the tournament to sixteen teams? I guess. If you even see that as a positive.
The existence of the Nittany Lions would bring Big Ten hockey into play—you need six teams to have an official Big Ten league—but extracting Minnesota and Wisconsin from their rich history in the WCHA is problematic. (No offense to the teams in the CCHA but I assume M, MSU, and OSU would leave in a hot second.)
There is the possibility that ripping flagship teams out of the CCHA and WCHA would see several weaker schools in those leagues fold, but it doesn't seem like a strong one. A WCHA anchored by North Dakota, Denver, and Colorado College is still a powerhouse full of good games. A few CCHA schools might be on shakier ground but the emergence of Notre Dame and Miami as powers with shiny new rinks would give the smaller conference a couple of anchors. Also, even if Big Ten teams play each other four times each they'll still have 12-14 nonconference dates to fill and will be able to keep up local rivalries.
Negotiating all that will take time; as it stands Penn State will be a member of the CCHA as soon as it fields a team. I'm betting the powers that be in the league had been informed that Penn State was laying groundwork when they rejected Huntsville's application.
(HT: Slow States. If you miss BSD's content from Kevin HD and RUTS, that's where they've relocated.)
Except with more Coastal Carolina. Slow States—which I don't think I'll be abbreviating, thanks, why don't you just name your blog Not Another Zimmerman Impersonator*—also looks at what a Penn State schedule might look like after the Big Ten goes to nine conference games by pretending ND is part of the Big Ten and looking at Michigan's schedules during the 12-game era. BCS opponents are bolded:
2002 – Washington (return trip), W. Michigan, ND, Utah
2003 – C. Michigan, Houston, ND, @Oregon (H-H)
2004 – Miami OH, ND, SDSU (11 games)
2005 – N. Ill, ND, E. Michigan (11 games)
2006 – Vandy, C. Michigan, ND, Ball State
2007 – [The Horror], Oregon (H-H), ND, E. Michigan
2008 – Utah, Miami OH, ND, Toledo
2009 – W. Michigan, ND, E. Michigan, Delaware State
2010 – UConn (H-H), ND, UMass, Bowling Green
Vandy isn't much but a couple of games against Utah were against vaguely(2002) to extremely(2008) BCS-caliber opposition
The assumption is that the best looking out of conference game gets the bump and Penn State's OOC schedule is going to look pretty sad. Thoughts related to this:
- Penn State's OOC schedule is already pretty sad.
- Michigan won't be able to dump ND and replace it with a tomato can without sparking a riot, so at least in their case they'll be upping the minimum number of BCS games they play over a span like this by four or five. Similarly, MSU and Purdue can't get away with three tomato cans, Ohio State is going to play at least one legit OOC opponent yearly, Illinois will likely continue its series with Missouri, and Minnesota will cast about looking for ways to fill Not The Metrodome. Indiana won't be able to replicate this year's mockery of college football.
- The net result will be more competitive games…
- …and probably fewer competitive games between conferences…
- …which is worth it if I don't have to sit through three MAC/I-AA games a year…
- …but Penn State fans will.
Solution: man up. Or have the legislature threaten terrible things unless you play Pitt every year like you goddamn well should.
*(Which is actually a great blog name for a technically-inclined fellow. Except for the acronym.)
Optimism is a disease. The readership of this here blog has predicted an 8-4 regular season according to the recent survey conducted by MGoUser "tpilews", with 84% predicting a win over UConn, 71% predicting one over Notre Dame, and so forth and so on. Despite being a home game, Wisconsin was declared the most terrifying opponent at 14%; other hypothetical losses come against Ohio State (31%), Iowa (35%), and Penn State (49%—a margin one vote VOTE OR DIE). As these things always are, it's too optimistic but that's life in August.
Divisions. None of this means anything, but:
- Joe Schad says the Big Ten will split into divisions with PSU and OSU on one side and Michigan and Nebraska on the other with a guaranteed M-OSU game, which is absolutely the worst-case scenario for M assuming the rest of that division is the Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin triumvirate of hate and Michigan State: Michigan is the only team in the league with guaranteed games against four of the six powers. Woo.
- Teddy Greenstein, who I'll remind you works for a newspaper in Chicago and is therefore about as accurate as the Bleacher Report (the latest crack reporting is random anonymous sourcing that Kentucky's top recruit took 200k), suggests they'll go straight geography.
Dorsey difficulty. Premium article, but the bit that's relevant($) is small:
If Louisville is having a hard time getting him through, all conspiracy theories about admissions doing anything other than what they had do can go out the window. RR should never have gone after Dorsey; hopefully Michigan's pursuit of him didn't cost them Tony Grimes or Sean Parker.
Etc.: Via the MB, UConn has lost linebacker/DE Greg Lloyd for the season. Lloyd was UConn's second-leading tackler last year and possibly their best defensive player. If you don't know this already, the Big Ten Championship Game will be played in Indianapolis, as was ordained by geography.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, and WR Jerald Robinson.
|Warren, OH - 6'1" 180|
|Scout||2*, #168 WR|
|Rivals||3*, #53 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #54 WR|
|Other Suitors||"interest" from Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, other mid-level BCS schools|
|YMRMFSPA||Ted Ginn if Michigan rolls a double critical hit|
|Previously On MGoBlog||No commitment post? Sorry. MGoThread on his track exploits.|
|Notes||Harding has sent Prescott Burgess, Mario Manningham, and classmate Davion Rogers to M recently.|
If you are looking for information on Warren Harding wide receiver DeAver (or, more commonly, DJ) Williamson, the internet will readily tell you he is fast. Picking one of a dozen articles about this year's Ohio state track meet at random yields the following:
Warren Harding's DeAver Williamson might well have earned the title of fastest man at the meet. The senior repeated as state champion in the D-I 100 (10.64) and also won the 200 (21.46). He also ran legs on two Harding relays, which finished third in the 800 relay and sixth in the 400 relay.
One wonders what a kid has to do at a track meet for the uncertainty about whether he's the fastest guy there to evaporate. Not only did he win the events where being really fast is important, but his 10.64 100 would have been faster had he not gone Usain Bolt at the end of it:
Anyway, if you give DJ Williamson some lycra and maybe a baton and tell him to run in a straight line he's excellent at it. The internet shouts this on every Google results page.
When it comes to the other stuff with the helmets and the changing directions and possibly getting blasted by some other guy with a helmet, however, it's remarkably hard to find out anything. For example, Scout's got all of five articles and not even the cursory scouting report they give most players. I'm not saying that DJ Williamson's scholarship offer is part of a plot to graft his legs onto Michigan's other incoming wide receivers—to a man strapping, polished types recruiting sites say move like garbage trucks—but I'm not not saying it either. We have a Life Sciences Institute, after all.
If Williamson's recruitment was not a diabolical plot to create the planet's first GMO wideout, he's going to have to put in some work to see the field. He started off with a fair amount of hype, finding himself #10 on Ohio High's early 2008 top ten list for his class, but as you can see above that was by far the high water mark for his stock. He was the only recruit in this class to get just two stars from Scout; he checks in as a low three star (5.5) on Rivals and fails to make their list of the top 100 wide receivers nationally.
ESPN does like him a lot($), though, so they're obviously right about his potential. Their primary takeaway is not surprising:
Williamson's greatest asset is his top end speed. This kid can really go and stretch the field. He reaches top gear in a hurry and is capable of not only getting over the top of defenders, but also making that first stab after the catch and splitting the seam as a homerun threat. He is a slashing type runner, not a jitterbug. Wastes little time establishing his intentions. He has quality size and the frame to gain significant strength and bulk over time. … Stabs and cuts with precision and has big upside to become a dangerous route runner for the next level because of his speed and ability to create separation.
The only downside is a "lack of natural wiggle"; correspondingly they have him just outside the top 50 receivers nationally. That's not spectacular but it's a far cry from #168 or We Can't Be Bothered. Meanwhile, someone get Lemming a paper bag:
Here is another WR with All American potential. The brilliant speed and athletic ability has not yet translated to difference maker but that could happen as early as this fall.
He catches the ball away from his body, can turn up field quickly, and can create after the catch. Very fast, his hands have really improved over the past year and he certainly shows the athleticism to excel in the college ranks. His leaping ability and long arms allows him to get his hands on the ball before the defenders do.
That's about it as far as guru descriptions of his game go, and that latter is unreliable given Lemming's excitability. There is a Rivals piece from before his senior year says "speed will never be an issue" with him but that he's "still growing into a natural receiver," FWIW.
However, whenever there's a Warren Harding kid on the radar of D-I colleges Buckeye Planet gets frequent visits from Worm02, an established close observer of the school. I will make a brilliant deductive leap and hazard a guess that he graduated from WGH in 2002. Worm on Williamson's situation:
He hasn't been able to light up the stat sheet because Harding had an athlete at quarterback the last two years. His arm wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Throw in scrambles, sacks, over/underthrows, etc., you have low production numbers. His film on Scouting Ohio is solid, but what you don't see is that in every game, even in Harding's big losses, Williamson got behind his defender the majority of the time. He's very difficulty to guard. Not as polished as Manningham, but he has a big upside.
[second post] D.J. has an awful lot of potential and yes, he does remind me of Manningham just a bit… D.J. has the tools to develop into a nice one, but at this stage in Manningham's career (5 years ago), not only did everybody in Ohio know who he was, but he already had the Ohio State's, Michigan's, & Florida's ready to offer him a scholarship.
… I'm not going to judge D.J. by what Mario accomplished, but I think that he (D.J.) can become an elite player sooner than later.
Worm does tend to look at the positives more than the negatives for Harding recruits so take it for what it's worth. One of the reasons Williamson's stock isn't high is that as a senior Harding picked up more of a pocket-passing quarterback and his production did not increase from the 36 catches and 376 yards as a junior.
He also brings up the obvious comparison when we're talking about a six-foot-ish lighting bolt of a receiver making the journey from Harding to Michigan: Mario Manningham. The YRMFSPA above goes for Ted Ginn instead of Manningham because Manningham was a brilliant technician of a receiver while Ginn, who was usually ranked as a corner and started out there at OSU, was and remains considerably rawer. Even so, Manningham is largely responsible for Williamson's instant commitment. Take it from the man himself:
He remembers vividly looking up to Manningham as a youth. “Growing up I wanted to be like him,” Williamson said. “But now since I’m there, I want to be better than him.”
In junior high, Williamson served as waterboy for the Harding football teams that Manningham starred on. “When they used to call timeout I used to always run to Mario first so he could grab my water,” Williamson said. “He was the star of the team. When he went to Michigan, that’s when I started watching college football a lot, and that’s when I really started liking football.”
Williamson's relationship with Manningham made Michigan his dream school, and not in the bastardized way people throw it around these days when they get friendly with a hostess on their official visit:
"I feel real good right now," Williamson said. "It's one thing to get your first offer, but this is a dream come true for me. I always wanted to go to Michigan, and now I'll have my chance."
“It came down to just always being a Michigan fan,” he added. “That’s what I always wanted to do… follow my dreams… follow my heart.”
At Michigan, Williamson will apparently start out as a slot receiver. That's what he told WTKA on Signing Day, anyway. That's a little odd to me since Michigan is well stocked there and Williamson is a 6'1" guy with blazing speed light on "wiggle," but his coach apparently thinks it's a fine idea($):
"He's a slasher. We used him a lot on bubble screens but he runs a 10.8 100-meter dash so he's some that we can use vertically too. He has great hands, is a good route runner and because he's a former tailback, he has outstanding vision and a real explosion once he gets the ball in his hands.
I really feel like he'll be a great matchup at the slot receiver position in Michigan's offense.That's the offense we're going to use this fall and we think he'll exploit linebackers and safeties that can't keep up with his speed."
Right: speed. Fast. Etc. DJ Williamson is fast.
Manningham, who currently plays for the New York Giants, plans to take full advantage of his role as Williamson's mentor. He didn't waste any time in doing so.
"I called D.J. shortly after he committed," Manningham said. "It feels good to know that I can have a positive effect on kids from my hometown, so I feel a responsibility to support them when they are doing good things. I'm very happy for D.J. and his family, and I'm going to make sure that I can give him any advice that I think that he needs in regards to Michigan."
Different side of a guy a lot of people didn't like much off the field. And game knows game:
The reigning 100-meter champ in the state of Ohio, D.J. Williamson couldn’t help but be impressed with Denard Robinson’s debut as a Michigan sprinter last week.
“He’s probably the fastest person I ever saw run,” Williamson said. … “He would beat me. I can’t even say he wouldn’t."
Why Ted Ginn? Ginn came in with epic recruiting hype, especially compared to Williamson, so a reminder about the nature of You May Remember Me From Such Players As is in order: this is just what sort of player we might expect if Williamson works out and not an attempt to equate the two.
Disclaimers done with, Ginn was a six-foot-ish track star who won state titles in the 100 and was a great college player mostly because he could run ridiculously fast in a straight line. His best high school mark was a 10.5, a tenth better than Williamson i he also spent the last ten meters doing elaborate shadow puppets. Williamson's 40 is also a tenth slower than Ginn's, but he's got a couple inches to the good.
Guru Reliability: Low. Major spread in the numbers, wide receiver with ugly quarterback situation, early commit who appears to have gone to zero-count-em-zero camps even as an underclassman.
General Excitement Level: Moderate? Has top-end savoriness but comes in with an impressive disconnect between his 40 time and his recruiting rankings that suggest Michigan either knows something others don't—or he couldn't be bothered to reciprocate interest because he wanted M so badly—or that Williamson is a serious project. Williamson will be an interesting referendum on Tony Dews.
Projection: If he's a slot, which I think is a weird spot for him to be, a holy lock to redshirt. Also pretty much a holy lock to redshirt if he ends up outside since there are three other freshmen who have been on campus since January. So: holy lock to redshirt. After that will start working in as an occasional deep threat as a freshman before the logjam clears for his redshirt sophomore season. At that point anything could happen.
Personnel & Schemes
- The quarterbacks need the quarterbacks to play faster and be "more fundamentally sound." They were freshmen last year, so they'll learn. Ball security is a big point of emphasis, but it's hard to work on that without full contact. The QBs were mostly live in the spring, but you can't risk them getting hurt in fall camp. It's a relief to finally have second-year players under center. That should help them with decision-making and ball security.
- Freshman quarterbacks are a little more prepared to come in and play right away. Part of that is the increase of spread offenses in high school, and also kids playing football year-round. The coaches don't want to play Gardner just one or two plays a game to waste a redshirt but if he can help the team win, he'll see the field.
- Mike Cox and Fitzgerald Toussaint have to step up at the running back position. Vincent Smith should be 100% after his knee injury, and the timeframe has accelerated for ACL tears with modern science. (note conspicuous lack of Shaw).
- Jeremy Gallon is mostly a slot receiver, but he might have a chance to play in the backfield as he learns more. Terrance Robinson and Kelvin Grady have the same situation. If they learn quickly in August, they have a chance to get some reps at running back.
- The offensive line is closer to where Rodriguez wants it to be, in terms of their physical makeup and experience. David Molk and Steve Schilling will be the leaders on the offensive line. Though Molk was a recruit under coach Carr, he was recruited by Rodriguez at West Virginia.
- Renaldo Sagesse, Greg Banks, and Adam Patterson have been contributors. They'll need to play bigger roles this year. Will Campbell got a lot of reps this spring and got better, but he still has a lot to work on. He needs to show up to camp in shape. Mike Martin is 100% healed from his surgery. He could be the most important player to defensive success. He's the most explosive, powerful big man in the program. He wasn't fully healthy at the end of last year, which might have harmed his performance on the field.
- If Mark Moundros wins a linebacker position, he probably won't continue playing fullback. He's not just at linebacker as a gimmick, and there's a chance he'll get minutes there.
- JT Floyd had a good spring, so the coaches have some confidence in him. Mike Williams, Cameron Gordon, Justin Turner, and Vlad Emilien (who missed part of spring with injury) will also contribute. JT Turner might still take a leap, and Cam Gordon has. Some true freshman defensive backs will still play. Cullen Christian and Courtney Avery will likely contribute at corner. Ray Vinopal, Carvin Johnson, and Marvin Robinson have a chance to contribute at safety. The numbers in the secondary are good, but the depth is very inexperienced.
- The kicker position battle in August will mostly be between Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen. Gibbons got in shape this spring, and improved. Will Hagerup should be the punter. Tom Pomarico should be the long-snapper, and Jared Van Slyke will probably be the holder on field goals. Rodriguez is much more comfortable with the returners and gunner on special teams.
- Kicking (particularly on field goals) and defensive depth are probably the biggest question marks going into the fall.
- Part of the reason for the defensive scheme change is to get guys thinking less and just playing instinctually. It won't be a West Virginia-style 3-3-5. It will actually be a lot like last year's D. The defense should be good this year, with much more available depth, and more consistency. It's insulting to the team to peg them as a squad that will have to outscore people.
- They're focusing on creating more turnovers defensively. They charted missed opportunities last year, and want to minimize those. Getting more guys to the ball should help with takeaways.
- Rodriguez and Athletic Department officials have met with attorneys to prepare for their meeting in front of the NCAA's infractions committee (August 13-15 in Seattle). There have been a couple run-throughs, including one with everyone who will be there.
- Michigan has done a good job preparing responses, and getting everyone ready for the hearing. All Rodriguez can do is be honest, and hope the committee sees his sincerity.
- As soon as Rodriguez gets on the plane to leave Seattle, his mind will be right back on two-a-days. It will be a relief to have it over with.
- Rich doesn't worry about whether his personal reputation is on the line in his meeting with the NCAA. That's something he can't waste energy on, he just gets prepared for it.
- There isn't an adversarial relationship between coaches and compliance personnel. They have a good relationship, but this process has forced a re-evaluation of some of their processes.
- The players report for camp Sunday night with a team meeting, and have their first practice Monday (August 9th). There will be a press conference following the first practice.
- Conelius Jones, Demar Dorsey, and Antonio Kinard did not end up at Michigan. Kinard and Jones might eventually make their way to Ann Arbor depending on how they perform at prep schools this fall.
- With a small senior class, it's important that they can be leaders. "We have enough guys in that class that they'll be vocal, and kinda take ownership moreso than the last couple years." The senior leaders know what's expected.
- Keeping agents out of the program starts with educating players and their families about the process. Players sometimes don't understand that it's selfish to take things before their eligibility is up.
- Many players haven't been in the stadium since it's been completed. They'll scrimmage there a couple time in August to get used to it. It takes getting used to new turf, and sometimes they even have to water them down.
- Rodriguez prefers to practice in warm and dry weather, so the players can get used to the heat. They want to practice just a couple times in wet weather.
- They'll plan for UConn during the month of August. They worked on it a little in the spring, and have built up "an extensive scouting report over the summer."
- For the first game, Rodriguez is making an effort to get all the former Wolverines that are currently in the NFL to come as honorary captains. They're trying to get a big group of them, as many as possible.
- It takes a few years for a program to be completely the personality of the coach. Players and coaches have to become comfortable with one another.
August isn't usually a hot time for basketball news, but a trip to Europe is fast approaching, and there's a little bit of other news surrounding the Michigan program. For video of John Beilein's press conference, check out UMHoops, where Joe posted the entirety of it.
A few guys are banged up, but all three are expected to be healthy by the time the team leaves for Europe.
- Evan Smotrycz broke his toe (playing wiffle ball!) a week before reporting to Michigan. He's practicing, but is not cleared for full-court drills. Once he's healthy, he'll pick things up very quickly.
- Colton Christian has a pulled hamstring.
- Jordan Morgan has another week to go in his rehab from shoulder surgery in the winter.
John Beilein gave some of his early impressions on Michigan's newest players:
- Tim Hardaway Jr. is focused, and he's learning things quickly. All of the other guys also had good coaching, but it's obvious that he's been very well-coached. He's playing at 190 pounds (though he doesn't look it, and I'd be surprised if this was true). He has a good attitude and wants to improve.
- Jon Horford is long and athletic. He has a desire to learn and be coached.
- Colton Christian will bring a physical presence defensively.
...and shared a bit more about the improvement from some of the guys we already know about:
- Matt Vogrich has shot the ball more consistently so far. He'll get a chance to be either a 2-guard or wing forward.
- Darius Morris has improved his leadership. It's tough for a freshman to be a team leader, so he's moving forward in that respect. He's also been shooting the ball well, and it's clear he put in lots of time individually.
- Blake McLimans is up to 240 pounds, after playing at 200 in high school. He's been getting a lot of time at center because the other options there have been banged up.
- This year, they'll have more opportunities to play Novak at a spot that plays to his strengths. They needed to play him out of position most of last year because they didn't have the bodies.
From my personal observations:
Jordan Morgan might need to work on his finishing. John Beilein joked that, at five push-ups a miss, "you're going to lead the league in push-ups." Blake McLimans looks a lot bigger than he did last year. Evan Smotrycz (at right) looks good, despite the toe injury. He's much broader than I thought he'd be, and he has good athleticism and a nice shot. Michigan fans are really going to like his game.
Novak and Douglass appear to be the vocal leaders of the team. I didn't see a huge change in Darius Morris's shot. It's clear Bacari Alexander is new around here. Beilein had to show him some of the drills before they could instruct the players. Ben Cronin (now a student assistant) had to help him out a bit, too. Still, Bacari's as enthusiastic as his Twitter account would lead you to believe.
The trip overseas is something that teams can do once every four years. It's a good experience from a basketball standpoint, and also culturally (four of Michigan's players had to apply for their first passports). To prepare for the trip, they are allowed 10 days of practice. They're doing 2-a-days for all of them, and today was #4. They'll have next week off and then have five more before they leave.
Former Wolverine Travis Conlan, who played professionally in Belgium before joining Michigan's staff as an Administrative Specialist, helped the team set up their games in Belgium.
The team will have to adjust to playing with a 24-second clock on the trip. They'll probably commit a lot of shot clock violations, Beilein admitted, but it will help them play at a faster tempo when they return.
Michigan's opponent for the semifinals of the Legends Classic on November 26th will be Syracuse. Georgia Tech and UTEP are in the other semi-final. The final pits the winner of the two games against each other at 8PM on Saturday the 27th, and the consolation game will be played at 5:30 - potentially during the Michigan-Ohio State football game.
Photos from Michigan basketball on Facebook.