this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Update 4/28: Various things on FL QB Eugene Smith, including a wild brawl and profile, 7-on-7 video. Linked to video of MI WR Hersey Jackson and OH OL Chris Freeman, articles on AZ DE Craig Roh (from VB), TX WR Josh Gordon, IN QB Morgan Newton, OK RB David Oku, MI WR James Jackson (plus OSU speculation), GA QB Donovan Tate, a couple interviews with MN WR Bryce McNeal, note on CA WR Shaquelle Evans. Moved VA QB Kevin Newsome to committed. Added NC WR Jheranie Boyd, SC DE Sam Montgomery (ESPN), NC OL Xavier Nixon, MI LB Jeremy Gainer.
Apparently we just offered OH OL Corey Linsley, but I'm not adding him because I'd need to make some sort of super-nefarious Eduardo if I did; ticketed to OSU. (Update: he committed.) Removed LA DT Chris Davenport (dropped us), MN WR Fritz Rock (no mutual interest).
There's also this ESPN article with notes on OK CB Gabe Lynn and TX QB Shavodrick Beaver.
Editorial Opinion: Huzzah for the nation's #2 dual-threat quarterback, and double-huzzah because Kevin Newsome's commitment appears to have accelerated the timetables for other Michigan quarterback targets looking to have a seat when the music stops. As Varsity Blue notes, GBW's Sam Webb floated the possibility that Michigan would have QB #2 in the fold by the end of the week on WTKA.
Candidate #1: Texan Shavodrick Beaver, who was looking all wrapped up for TCU until Michigan stepped forth with an offer and caused TCU message boards to implode. A quick read between the lines indicates Beaver's offered some highly pro-Michigan quotes to the paysites, and time may be short for TCU to make up ground. Rivals teaser($):
For four-star dual-threat quarterback Shavodrick Beaver, a decision may not be too far off.
Is Beaver Ready to Make the Call?
Initially Beaver looked unsure of himself and a bit shy as the Elite 11 kicked off, but as he moved into the second day and stayed for the NFTC event, Beaver began to just play and not think. His arm became more live, and you could see his confidence rise. He is still a project in the passing game, but he is one heck of an athlete and a dual-threat guy who will only improve as a passer.
He's not an afterthought.
Candidate #2: Californian Tate Forcier, he of the "we can get all the tight... WRs" myspace comment to Kevin Newsome. Forcier, of course, is the brother of former Michigan quarterback (and alternate universe starters) Jason. He's got a teaser of his own. The general opinion of the internet -- and something that's pretty easy to read between the lines -- is that Forcier is Michigan's #1 target now that Newsome has been secured, but if Beaver wants to commit they aren't willing to wait on Forcier. He might have to jump first.
Would he? There is some buzz that he actually would. Penn State is supposed to be a prime competitor for Forcier, which indicates a willingness to leave the West Coast and play in the Big Ten. As far as potential competitors go, a rudderless team that may or may not boot its coach this year or next and just finished turning Anthony Morelli from a five-star prospect into an "acutely undercoached," undrafted free agent is as good as it gets. UCLA and Oregon and some other West Coast schools are also in the running.
He reminds me of two different quarterbacks: Drew Tate and Jeff Garcia. Both were smallish scramblers with tons of moxie; Tate was exclusively a buy-time kind of guy while Garcia was prone to take off when it seemed like a good idea. Forcier is evidently in the latter camp with over 500 yards rushing last year.
Candidate #3: Floridian Eugene Smith. Smith was the subject of an immensely long article($) from FloridaVarsity.com, Rivals' program-agnostic Florida HS site, in which he had a lot of very nice things to say about Michigan. Smith seems like a nice, balanced kid in this video profile from the Sun-Sentinel even though his team gets in a wild "you don't come into the O.B."-style brawl towards the end. I believe that cost him and a lot of other players on his team three-game suspensions, but that hasn't stopped college recruiters from coming after him. Here's some fluff.
Smith is also a Rivals 250 member and is probably #3 on the pecking order behind Forcier and in front of Beaver. The catch with him is he does not seem inclined to make an early decision, so if all goes well Michigan will fill up before he gets around to it. At that point Michigan would have to mak
e a hard decision about whether to spend a third slot in this class on a quarterback and somehow manage to keep all three. That's unlikely. (Michigan may bring in a third player who they have promised a shot at quarterback before a move to wide receiver or defensive back; Murray is a QB all the way.)
Non-quarterback items. I lie. One more quarterback item:
Western Branch's Kevin Newsome could rank this weekend as one of his best.
Earlier this week, Newsome â€“ one of the nation's top quarterbacks â€“ verbally committed to play football at Michigan. On Saturday, Newsome led the Bruins' 400 relay to the large schools title.
The foursome of Jeffrey Artis, Tory Womack, Olimas Robison and Newsome ran 42.01.
It was the ninth fastest high school time of the afternoon. Nansemond River was in the same heat and ran 42.19 to place fourth.
Now: actual items about actual non quarterbacks.
Hopefully TX WR Josh Gordon is a really frickin' awesome player that Michigan hasn't had the chance to evaluate yet, because...
The Wolverines are definitely in the catbird seat here and Gordon went as far as to say, "if Michigan gave me an offer I'd commit."
...yeah. Gordon has offers from Texas A&M, Nebraska, Missouri, Arizona, and Houston and is a big (6'4") loping outside receiver type who would not compete with any of the zillion slot guys Michigan's recruited over the past few months; he plans on camping and will be a name to watch. Indications he might be kinda awesome follow.
He was amongst the most impressive wideouts at the Army All-American Combine:
Gordon, who checks in at about 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, [or 6'3" according to Rivals elsewhere or 6'5" according to Gordon himself... grade inflation -ed] was the most natural pass catcher of the bunch. He possesses soft hands and fluid movement. Defensive backs were helpless to stop him all day because he would either shield them from the ball with his body or leave them behind with precise patterns. Gordon also posted one of the top vertical jumps in the entire combine.
Gordon's performance was cut short when he got nicked up halfway through the one-on-one portion of the combine, but he had served notice long before that and should be one of the more heavily recruited receivers in the country before all is said and done.
He and fellow Michigan recruit Bryce McNeal were the receivers on the All-Combine team:
McNeal showed why he's already picked up some major scholarship offers with a strong showing throughout the entire combine. He was extremely effective in the one-on-one battles, and his combination between speed and hands make him a deadly target. Gordon was extremely impressive during the one-on-ones. He did go down late with a slight hamstring tweak, but that was about the only thing that stopped him. Using his amazing frame, he was a very difficult matchup for defensive backs, and he won almost every single one-on-one battle he went through.
Miscellania: this Houston Chronicle video of a 42-20 playoff victory doesn't have much in the way of spectacular Gordon plays but it is set to "November Rain," which has to be a first, and indicates that the Lamar mascot is some sort of horrifying version of Chief Wahoo in blackface; there's also this from Gordon's sophomore year, with two long catches, one a touchdown, the other a fumble, in a 17-16 loss for Lamar. (You know how I know Michigan's been recruiting a lot of kids from Houston? I recognize Sam Khan, the Chronicle reporter from these videos, on sight. "Oh, it's Sam Khan back to talk to me about a Houston-area high school football game," I think, and my mother weeps a little inside.) He claims to be feeling 'insubordinate' on his (shockingly tasteful) myspace page; he also claims to be 88 years old.
Speaking of Bryce McNeal, the Minnesota wide receiver floated up to #70 in Rivals' revised top 100, and I ran across a couple interviews with him at the "GopherHole," which is not Caddyshack porn but is rather a Minnesota fansite. One's from January and not that useful; the one from March, on the other hand:
GH: What are your top schools?
BM: I've been very secretive, all I can say is that Michigan and Minnesota are in the top 5.
GH: Tell me about your Michigan visit?
BM: It was nice out there, I was there for 4 or 5 hours on my way back from a 7 on 7 tournament in Akron, Ohio. I sat down and talked to Coach (Rich) Rodriguez for about an hour or hour and half. I also sat down and talked to Coach (Tony) Dews , who is the receiver coach. I sat in the receiver position meeting. I met the offensive coordinator, Coach (Calvin) Magee . I also talked to the strength and conditioning coach. They all seemed like good guys.
GH: Does it worry you that Rodriguez is in his first year at Michigan?
BM: No, not really. He comes from West Virginia which is also a good program.
GH: What did you talk to Coach Rodriguez about?
BM: We went over everything, football, life, and his experience with West Virginia, and also talked about where I sit in the offensive scheme.
GH: Where do you sit?
BM: I would start out playing the split receiver, and I would get a chance to learn the slot and other positions.
GH: Did he tell you you'd be able to play as a freshman?
BM: He said that if guys could come in and play well, they'd play. If you can prove yourself as a freshman, you can play. If you show them you can take on the offensive scheme, you will start, if not they'll red-shirt you.
GH: What do you like about Rodriguez? How does he differ from Brewster?
BM: He and Coach Brewster are actually very alike. When it comes down to talking to them, they're both energetic, good guys, and keep it real.
That block of M-related questioning is about 10x the length of passages on anyone else, probably a good sign. Also interesting that they're not looking at him in the slot. Also super-weird that he didn't remember Mike "Eeee" Barwis's name.
Later, McNeal mentions that his girlfriend, Tayler Hill, is also going through the recruiting process (the article does not specify for what; a quick googling shows she's a basketball player ranked #12 in the country) and that there's one school both are interested in. It's not specified, but it is mentioned that it's part of his "top three," which kinda implies that it's not either of the UMs. I know f-all about women's basketball but UConn's like the Darth Vader of it and she appears to be OMG tasteful nudity as a basketball recruit, so maybe that's it.
And you can interpret this however you want, but fellow MN WR Fritz Rock just saw his offer yoinked because he wouldn't commit. According to the GopherHole's main recruiting correspondent, Minnesota is looking for two receivers and has one already committed. Would you push a lower-ranked kid to commit, even going so far as to deliver an ultimatum, if you thought you had a real shot at McNeal? I dunno. That implies to me that Minnesota is getting a courtesy listing and McNeal is favoring Michigan significantly. This, of course, is speculation based on circumstantial evidence and should not be used as a justification to string me up should McNeal go somewhere else.
Rock, by the way, was dropped from the board since there appears to be little mutual interest between him and Michigan.
Other names are popping up; some clarifications and corrections:
- On the two instate Jacksons: Hersey is just now gathering his first offers from places like Central Michigan and Cincinnati and appears to be a three-star camp offer type if he ends up getting offered at all. James is fast as hell and has offers from M, OSU, Alabama, Tennessee, UCLA, and others, but was pretty close with the previous Michigan staff:
Jackson added that he might already be a Wolverine verbal if the former staff was still in Ann Arbor, "I got a really good vibe from the old coaching staff at Michigan. To tell you the truth, I probably would have committed there if they were still there. I have to get a better feel now for the new staff."
You'd think part of his desire to commit to Michigan was the school and all it entails, but Ohio State fans are pretty confident. Apparently Bucknuts has picked up not one but two current OSU players/recruits (WTF is up with OSU and players interacting with recruiting sites?) who feed their free board with information. They usually keep it vague enough so that the recruits they predict commits from don't get baby's special day ruined, but they've been accurate in the past; they're legit.
Anyway, both these guys have chimed in that they think Jackson ends up at OSU, as has Bill Kurelic. We'll see. Jackson is a small fast slot guy and might see a spot for him in Rodriguez's offense that only kinda-sorta exists at OSU. Looks like we have catching up to do, though.
That's what I'm saying. Pierre Woods' final season in a Michigan uniform remains a mystery to everyone, including his current coach. Asked about the difference between third-round pick Shawn Crable, now a Patriot, and undrafted Pierre Woods, Bill Belicheck seemed as befuddled as us:
BB: Woods was one of the top players in the country as a sophomore. He didn't play as a senior. You'd have to ask Michigan why they didn't play him, or maybe they thought they had better players. I don't know. That's a question they'd have to answer. Athletically, he was an astounding player as a sophomore. I think he got some... the same thing as a junior and then he didn't play much as a senior.
This is a semi-accurate recollection. Woods (68 tackles, 13 TFL, 7 sacks) was possibly the best player on Michigan's defense and an All Big Ten performer his sophomore year. But whatever off-field issues he had started then and his playing time was severely curtailed as a junior, only playing in nine games and seeing his stats dip to 22 tackles and 2 TFLs with no sacks. It was more of the same as a senior, only more maddening: just nine games played and 24 tackles but 9 TFLs and 2.5 sacks; when injuries to Woodley and Biggs left Michigan no other choice but to play Woods extensively against Iowa he had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, and a pass breakup along with a ton of other pressure. No reasonable observer could have thought Woods wasn't worth starting, if not on the defensive line -- where Pat Massey was busy moonwalking as Alan Branch played out of position at DE -- then at linebacker where Michigan's starters on the outside were the horrible sophomore versions of Chris Graham, Prescott Burgess, and Shawn Crable.
We don't know exactly what his problems were. Carr probably stretched his boundaries to the limit to keep him on the team and, in that, did him a big favor. But if he's on the team, and he's better than the other people who are on the team, what was the point of not starting him?
Belicheck went on to compare the situation to that of Tom Brady, but this is more of the same inaccurate legend-making that had him "not even a starter" in college. Brady had just under 80% of Michigan's passing attempts his senior year and while it's true Michigan played Henson from time to time, 30 of Henson's 90 attempts came in blowouts against Rice, Purdue, and Northwestern and another 28(!), oddly, came in a narrow road win over Syracuse in which Brady only had 10 attempts. I don't remember that at all; all I remember from that game was Michigan playing a frustrating, disjointed game and CBS providing the worst camerawork I've ever seen. Anyway, outside of that Syracuse game Henson had about 30 meaningful attempts. Which is kinda weird, sure.
!!!!! A lot of weird stuff went down at the draft this weekend. I'm not so arrogant to assume I know better than NFL people unless we're talking about Matt Ryan, but of the Michigan draftees only three didn't surprise me with their placement: Long, Henne, and Crable. I guess Manningham's slide is understandable with his status as this year's Wonderlic booby prize and obvious fondness for weed.
But things I just don't understand:
- Arrington going so low. Rangy, sure handed, and seemingly fast enough, I thought he was a little less proven than Avant and would be a third or fourth round pick when he declared; it quickly became clear that this was overrating him.
- Ditto Hart. He ran slow, as anyone on the planet could have told you would happen. Injury issues, etc; still thought he was a third-fourth round sort.
- Jamar Adams is undrafted. Ryan "Yards After" Mundy goes in the sixth round. Barwis be praised.
The Mundy thing is what really gets me. He was so bad that -- in my speculative opinion -- Michigan cut him loose after his fourth year in the program, which is unprecedented for a kid who's seen extensive time as a starter. Mundy squeezes himself into a rapidly-closing loophole and manages to transfer to West Virginia without penalty, where he becomes a decent starter on a good defense and is drafted. To play in the NFL. You know, the professional football thingy. If you could have bet on that last year, what would the odds have been?
Our dearest friend. A former NFL scout on new Arizona Cardinal FA Anthony Morelli:
"He has all the tools you look for in a QB; an athletic body, very strong throwing arm and far better movement then I had expected, but is acutely undercoached and unprepared for the job of being a professional QB."
"Acutely undercoached"... does anything sum up Penn State better than those two words?
Gentlemen. Hey, guess what?
Melvin Fellows had been the most prominent Ohio high school football player in the Class of 2009 to escape the grasp of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, but with a phone call over his lunch break today, Fellows changed all that.
The Garfield Heights defensive end informed Tressel that he was switching his oral commitment from Illinois to the Buckeyes, delivering a blow to the Illini and bringing OSU's growing class to 12 pledges.
Joe Tiller's full of crap.
Also full of crap, the Columbus Dispatch, which claimed Lloyd Carr facilitated Justin Boren's transfer to OSU:
"That's a lie," Carr said through school spokesman Bruce Madej.
Bleah. Sick day taken. Enjoy this 1/3rd of a UV; I'll be back monday.
I shoot them in the head.* UMHoops points to two pieces on St. John's transfer Larry Wright, a 40% three-point shooter from Saginaw who's returning home after two years in NYC. He'll be going to school somewhere in state, according to Eric Lacey:
"He told me he doesn't want to leave the state of Michigan," said Dawkins, who has already spoken to Oakland coach Greg Kampe about Wright. "So that's a good sign."
Wright is returning to Michigan because his mother has had serious back surgery and will attempt to get a waiver to play next year. Is he Big Ten caliber? Failing that, is he Michigan caliber? (ZING!) St John's hoops blog East Coast Bias thinks so:
St. John's fans are pissed. PISSED, because we're losing Larry Wright. He was on his way to becoming a cult hero; but unlike other fan favorites, this isn't a case of that scrappy walk-on kid who plays tough defense and just makes plays. Larry Wright was possibly the team's best scorer and certainly the most accurate shooter, and the justifiable focus of the fans/ message boards' "Free Larry Wright" posts.
There's much, much more in a gargantu-post on Wright; his game sounds like a good fit for Beilein's system:
As for Larry's game, he shoots deep shots in the flow of the offense and doesn't overdribble. If he doesn't have his shot, he looks for the next man. He tends to shoot from around the top of the key, but last year his some of his memorable shots from the corner (I think the Notre Dame game, his last shot was from the right corner? Correct me if wrong). When he gets the ball, he seems ready to shoot or drive, and if he's blanketed, he doesn't force it. he doesn't take his man off the dribble often, but he's probably quick enough to do so. ...
Larry Wright isn't the second coming. He is a role player, for sure, and limited in some ways; but that role is an essential one for every single basketball team; the guy who can score in bunches and won't hurt you in other ways on the court. He could be a potential star and with more regular time, I expect his outside shooting percentages to go up.
Michigan needs a shooter. Correction: Michigan needs 3-5 shooters. Wright appears to be a shooter and got 9 PPG in under 20 minutes in the Big East. He's going to a school in the state of Michigan. Git er done.**
*(reference explanation: I used to watch David Letterman in high school. Once, Laurence Fishburne was on the show promoting his latest gangster movie and somehow the conversation turned to if he preferred "Laurence" or "Larry," he obviously said "Laurence." Letterman asked "what do you do to people who call you Larry?" and Fishburne replied "I shoot them in the head.")
**(you have permission to shoot me in the head.)
Virginia quarterback Kevin Newsome has gone from "very probably a commit in the near future" to "guy who just committed." Divers alarums. Quote:
I really believe Michigan is the Godfather of college football and that's what makes the Michigan-Ohio State game so notorious.
Hopefully he will make opponents kiss the ring.
I since Monday Recruitin' was heavily focused on Newsome, let that suffice as his google-stalking. There is also this piece from Conquering Heroes that fills in some additional blanks. ESPN's opinion:
Newsome is an impressive overall athlete to watch. As a quarterback, he reminds us a little of Cameron Newton at Florida and while Newton has more height and is further along as a passer, Newsome is a better runner and athlete. ... He is a player that can make plays on the move rolling right or left. ... He is a "street-ball" type of QB right now, with very little polish. Mechanically, he can be very inconsistent-- gets by on athleticism alone. ... Footwork, timing and patience through his progressions will help his development as a passer.
Newsome is Michigan's third recruit in the top 50 and the first of two or three quarterback recruits they'll bring in this year.
Side note: I mentioned Tuesday that I thought both running back recruits would eventually pick up four stars; when Rivals released an updated 250 neither was present. This isn't surprising when it comes to Teric Jones, who is just a fast kid who went to a combine and will have to prove his ability on the field this fall. Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, has a body of work already and didn't make it. A pestered Rivals analyst suggested horrible grades might be holding his rating back, which is bad in two ways. One: it's likely bunk since that didn't stop them from rating Jerrelle Powe, who's in his fifteenth year of trying to get into Ole Miss, highly. They just don't think that much of his talent. Two: horrible grades, would obviously preclude him from matriculating unless he can get them up to NCAA minimums. Adjust your recruiting faces a little on the frowny side, and then be like "hey, we have a top-50 dual threat quarterback" and adjust them to Creepy Enzyte Guy levels.
They really should have cast J Leman as the scientist guy in "I Am Legend." Why? Obviously.
I mean no offense to the Great and Powerful Leman. He is truly wondrous. But -- not to be a heretic -- I think we have a challenger in for the title of Most Awesome Football Mugshot in the Multiverse.
The Mose Schrute beard, I think, is actually superior to the Leman mullet. Mullets are a pop culture trope. People sport them ironically, and if you are one of the three US households that gets Versus you can get your fill of them in the NHL. No one famous has sported a full-on I-churn-butter-by-hand Mennonite beard since Ulysses S Grant. Advantage Russell.
However, there is still the matter of the American flag tie. Russell's hellacious(!) pit stains are a worthy foe, but J Leman woke up on the morning of Illinois picture day and thought to himself "self, it's time to rock it the American Way." Russell just lives in Texas, where anyone wearing a dress shirt outside develops pit stains in 2.3 seconds.*
Russell has no offers yet, but is listing Michigan. Pray. Pray hard.
*(I resided in Texas for one summer; this is absolutely true.)