In isolation, Laval Lucas-Perry's exit from the basketball program is not a big deal. Last year his offensive rating and effective field goal percentages checked in lower than notable bricklayer Stu Douglass. For perspective, this is what Douglass managed in 2010:
Stu Douglass … had an eFG of 42.7 and an offensive rating of 93.9 with a 15% usage rate. If Stu Douglass was a team, he would be Southern, a 5-25 SWAC team with the same overall eFG%. And those guys have to average 20% usage.
Being less efficient on offense than a guy who is in turn less efficient than a 5-25 SWAC team is quite a trick, and not one that indicates fans are going to spend draft night two years hence punching the wall because you went in the lottery. As departures go, LLP's is more Kelvin Grady than Ekpe Udoh.
Unfortunately, that attempt to dismiss the impact of the departure overlooks one key item: this basketball team actually needed Kelvin Grady. I keep on this like a broken record, but the team's best three-point shooter in 2009 other than the departed CJ Lee was none other than Grady. Whatever deficiencies he had as a player probably wouldn't have kept him off the floor in a year when no one could dribble or find the backboard in three tries. Next year, the basketball program will need Lucas-Perry and won't have him. It would be nice if Michigan's program was the sort that could sustain the loss of a guy like LLP without blinking. It's not.
So LLP's exit does not come in isolation. It comes in the midst of this:
Last year’s off-season was the epitome of stability and optimism. I spent the summer blogging about which national reporter had Michigan in his preseason top 15 and how Michigan was hot on the heels on Casey Prather and Trey Zeigler. This summer is the polar opposite — the news continues to revolve around a mass exodus of bodies out of Ann Arbor. One early entry. Three assistant coaching departures. One dismissal. Just four returning players who have played in a collegiate game.
Add in the crippling transfer of a player already on campus that leaves one position shockingly bereft of experience and talent plus an early entry into a draft that has no interest in the entrant and the basketball program is acquiring a distinct whiff of whatever horrible thing has plagued the football team since Rich Rodriguez took the job. We went into 2009 hoping the football program would mirror the basketball program; we go into 2010 fearing the reverse. Beilein tossed Rodriguez a rope and started pulling him out of the quicksand only to find himself waist-deep in turnover, facing down an almost assuredly lost year spent trying to get a bunch of underclassmen to stop running into each other.
UMHoops calls the above an "ominous sign" and it's hard to disagree. Momentum may be a hugely overrated concept when it comes to individual games, but on a program level it's not. Michigan had an opportunity to establish itself an up-and-coming program last year only to totally blow it on and off the field. Now instead of enduring an understandable bump in the road as the last of the Amaker players give way to Beilein's recruits, the bump is the anomalous NCAA year that establishes nothing. It's a dead cat bounce. Now we've got as much kick as Penn State does over the last decade. Hoorah.
I've previously said that I think Beilein's going to get a fifth year no matter what happens in 2010 and that year six probably requires no more than an upward trajectory from whatever filthy pile of used needles the team spends next offseason in. The dismissal of one role player doesn't change that, but it does add to the pile of foreboding tidings surrounding the team and how likely it ever is to get off the mat and become consistently decent. That was Beilein's promise: consistently decent or better.
If it's hard to see that happening at the moment, it's equally hard to see how a Michigan administration is going to find anyone more likely to pull that off. They aren't going to hire a coach with the tiniest hint of skeeze. Trying to be a basketball power without skeeze when you're an hour an a half away from school with the country's best performance-to-skeeze ratio is almost impossible. And firing the head of the NCAA's basketball ethics committee a couple years after self-administering a stern talking-to for the first time in the history of your football program is going to be a bridge too far for the administration unless they have no other choice. Beilein will be handed every opportunity to get things moving in the right direction.
You can put together a scenario where Smotrycz is Pittsnogle II and Hardaway is a diamond in the rough and a roster pushing 6'6" average height is a tough nut to crack defensively and there's an NIT bid next year and an NCAA bid in 2011 and Brundidge comes in and is Rodney Stuckey and etc etc etc. You'd have to be a little daft to expect it, though. Michigan basketball looks to be stuck in this amazing limbo where there's little expectation of success for the next three years and little recourse despite that.
But have I mentioned Carl Hagelin?
Programming note: for the rest of the offseason, Recruitin' will shift to Thursdays, since it makes the schedule work out a bit better. We'll re-evaluate the scheduling in the build-up to the season.
All-time updates can be found on the Michigan Football Recruiting Board.
Jack Miller And Kevin Sousa Go Blue
Local fluff on Jack Miller's Michigan commitment, from the Toledo Blade. Jack plans to redshirt in his first year on campus, though he aims to make the travel squad. His commitment came on what would have been his father's 42nd birthday on Tuesday. More video on him, this coming from the Michigan Football Showcase.
The Orlando Sentinel covers the commitment of Kevin Sousa. Kevin says he's not concerned about playing early in his career, and will get time on the field once he earns it. If quarterback doesn't work out in Ann Arbor, he's willing to switch positions. I doubt that situation will arise. Scout also talks to Sousa in a free article. Here's Kevin's performance in the Lake Nona spring game:
That's even more impressive than his junior highlight. If he can put up the numbers this fall, Sousa is might end up as a four-star prospect to the recruiting sites. He's already impressed them in camps, now just needs to carry it over to the field. Now that he and his team have both moved past their respective first years playing football, that seems like to occur. He's attened a zillion Elite 11 camps this summer and is getting talked about as a potential selection there, too. Film breakdown from Touch The Banner.
Some of this will be a bit of housekeeping, eliminating guys that aren't really on Michigan's radar anymore, or guys who committed elsewhere that I haven't removed yet.
- MI QB Jake Thompson. He won't ever get an offer. Maybe Michigan's golf coaches should look at him, though.
- SC WR Charone Peake. Clemson commit.
- FL WR Ja'Juan Story committed to Florida.
- FL RB/Slot Javares McRoy. Switched from a soft Texas Tech pledge to a firm Gators commit.
- FL RB Chevelle Buie committed to Rutgers.
- MD OL Cyrus Kouandjio has not been mentioning Michigan.
- FL OL Trey Pettis. I hadn't realized that I failed to remove him from the board. He's a Florida State commit.
- AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena. Committed to Oregon.
- OH OL Matt Skura committed to Duke.
- IN OL Kiaro Holts committed to North Carolina.
- DC DT Kevin McReynolds has a top 12 without Michigan.
- VA DE/DT Corey Marshall committed to Virginia Tech.
- OH DE Bryan Baird committed to Ball State a ways back.
- FL S Alex Dixon. No mention of Michigan lately (or at all, really).
- SC S Pat Martin. Top/final four ($, info in header) doesn't include Michigan.
- MD S Brandon Phelps committed to Virginia.
- OH S Eilar Hardy committed to Notre Dame.
- OH CB Charles Perdue. Not in either database, and there's only been one story about him that I've seen.
TE Ray Hamilton committed to Iowa, and OH S Ron Tanner is expected to commit to Ohio State tomorrow, but I'll leave them both on the board for now. I'll go into more detail on Hamilton in next week's recruiting update. With Michigan's class starting to take shape, I'll be just a bit more willing to remove guys that aren't getting a ton of attention.
NC LB/WR Kris Frost made it to Ann Arbor last week, after many other planned trips fell through. Tom interviewed him, so I'll get to the big story first:
With Auburn, it's pretty close. Michigan is a school that I love a whole lot, and I always have. Auburn has put a lot of work in to recruiting me. Both of those schools seem closely related in how the visits went, and they're almost identical.
Those two sound like a very very solid top two, and he'll get a chance to visit the Wolverines several more times, to catch them up with the Tigers:
We're all planning on coming back another time before the season starts, this summer... With Michigan, we didn't really get the chance to get up to as much, so we're really trying to make up for that. I'm definitely going to try to make it up to two games during the season, too.
Now that we have that out of the way, let take a look at how he actually enjoyed the visit itself:
My family and I went out and looked at everything, it was great... [My parents] were worried I would get lost in the excitement. My mom and dad talked about that, and they said everything was great and more. They saw it wasn't too crowded, and that the attention on the football players is great... They really feel like learning is a top priority there, and it's not all about football to them. Obviously we all want to win football games, but there's more than that... Michigan really came off as a great place to live.
Very positive overall, I'd say. With at least three more visits before the end of the season, the Wolverines will have a serious chance to build up a lead for Frost's services. He also plans to visit some of his other suitors, as well. For the full update, check out Tom's interview.
GA S Avery Walls took a two-part visit to Ann Arbor last week - sandwiched around a quick trip to East Lansing - and came away impressed with the Michigan program. Sam Webb dropped the details in last week's Detroit News column.
"We discussed what the program was going through with a new AD coming to the school (in addition to) some of the stuff about him staying (at Michigan). It came out really positive. He really informed us on things that are going on because the news perception is different than what is actually going on... They have limited spots, but they said I was one of their top people so they said that they are going to keep my spot open for me."
He was also impressed with the facilities and - of course - Mike Barwis. Though his mother is an Ohio State alumna, it sounds like Michigan has a great shot. He plans to commit by the fifth game of his high school season. How does the kid describe his game?
"When coaches see me they say, 'He is not one of those big 6-2 safeties -- he is 5-11, 190, but he loves to hit,'" Walls said. "I grew up playing hockey, so I love contact. But I'm also fast. I ran a 10.65 100 meter, and we had the state champion 4x100 team than ran 42.39. So I can play corner or safety. At corner I like to get up on guy and get in their heads and be physical with them. At safety I like to come in from 10 yards out, punish the ball carrier."
Sounds like the Wolverines have an excellent shot, and I'd be willing to wager that they made his recent cut ($, info in header). In other news out of Georgia, GA DE Ray Drew is giving the Wolverines a hard look ($, info in header). I would imagine that the UM recruit he has a friendship with is Walls. Drew is a major longshot, though if Michigan has a good season, they'll stand a chance, as he doesn't plan to decide until signing day.
Added OH TE Frank Clark, who impressed at Michigan's summer camp ($, info in header). The Wolverines are definitely looking for a tight end in this class, so he might get an offer if they don't feel particularly good about their chances with anyone else. FL OL Tony Posada visited last week, and now has Michigan back atop his list ($, info in header). OH OL Ray Ball "has a good time" at Michigan ($, info in header). IL DE James Adeyanju visited Ann Arbor once more last week. KY LB Lamar Dawson took a three-day visit to Michigan last week ($, info in header).
Local fluff on NJ TE/DE Taques Franklin, who will officially visit Michigan.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi will visit Michigan in the next couple weeks ($, info in header).
IN OL Nick Martin should be visiting sometime in the future ($, info in header). He holds a Michigan offer.
TX LB Kellen Jones has set a timeframe for a decision ($, info in header). He was recently impressed by a visit to Arkansas, though The Recruiting Guy is notorious for making every kid seem like a lock for the Hogs, so take his article with a grain of salt. Jones also headlines Tom's weekly update, including visit and timeframe ideas:
Kellen originally wanted to commit before the season, but the offers started to come in, more and more, so we decided that it would be in the middle of the season. He's going to try to make it up to Michigan, but we're not sure when.
For more on Jones, as well as PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett, GA S Avery Walls, FL OL Tony Posada, and FL QB Kevin Sousa, check out Tom's update. Tom also published a full interview with Jones, who many presume to be a Michigan lean. When an interview starts with
I grew up a Michigan fan through my dad, and he grew up a Michigan fan, so yeah. He was a big fan when Jim Harbaugh was playing quarterback for Michigan. He loves the maize and blue, and he passed that on to me. I know The Victors song, and everything.
and ends with
Ok, make sure to tell the Michigan fans that my Dad and I say, Hail to the Victors!
Now that Sousa is officially Blue, I've added his teammate, FL RB Jarius Pace, to the recruiting board. Pace is a transfer to Lake Nona, and has to sit out the first two games of the year. His presence on the field will hopefully open things up for Sousa, allowing him to have a big year.
LA CB Daren Kitchen has been effusive about Michigan in the past, and he's still waiting on them to offer ($, info in header). Conventional wisdom says that it wouldn't take him very long to accept that offer.
The situation seems to be similar with IL OL Chris Bryant, according to a particularly revealing Scout header. The Wolverines are in his top six, and he talks about how cool it would be to be able to play for Michigan. Should Michigan offer, they stand an excellent chance to land him. He was impressive at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, as well as the Michigan Football Showcase earlier this spring, so an offer isn't out of the question.
In a free Scout article, OH OL Ryan Kelly places Michigan in his top five. He hadn't heard from Michigan for a while, but they've re-emerged on his radar. No decision is imminent.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012.
OH S Allen Gant, son of former Wolverine Tony Gant and a cousin of a guy you may have heard of called "Charles Woodson," recently visited Ann Arbor, and enjoyed what he saw ($, info in header). FoxToledo.com followed up on his recruitment:
Gant grew up an Ohio State fan, but his family is split down the middle between Ohio State and Michigan. One of those family members, cousin Charles Woodson of NFL fame, won the Heisman Trophy with the Wolverines.
Overall, Gant lists no favorites. He lists education and opportunity as his main priorities, hoping to make an impact sooner rather than later. However, his decision will come at just the opposite: later rather than sooner. Gant hopes to take time to evaluate all of his options before making a decision on the next step in what he hopes will be a bright future.
Michigan should have a good shot as long as they can perform on the field this year.
IL OL/DT Dan Voltz is interested in hearing from Michigan.
Michigan has verbally offered FL WR Avery Johnson. He favors a host of Southern schools, unsurprisingly, but there is plenty of time for Michigan to catch his attention. He's a big outside wideout, and Michigan will probably be looking to take only one in next year's class, depending on how 2011 shakes out. He is the younger brother of onetime Michigan target (and current LSU safety) Patrick Johnson.
I guess this ends the wondering about whether Laval Lucas-Perry will be granted that 5th year of his scholarship for the 2011-2012 year. Press release:
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, and DE Jordan Paskorz.
|Wyoming, OH - 6'2" 255|
|Scout||4*, #15 DT, #174 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #25 SDE, #26 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #45 DE|
|Others||#10 OH to JJHuddle.|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Indiana|
|YMRMFSPA||Brandon Graham if Michigan is super lucky|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post|
Ever since Lou Holtz retired, it's been something of a Michigan tradition to get a small boost to the recruiting class whenever Notre Dame's coach gets the axe. When Bob Davie got the axe, Michigan picked up Jeremy Van Alstyne. When Willingham followed three years later, Michigan grabbed Brandon Harrison.
But when Charlie Weis went to the great Dunkin' Donuts in the sky, it looked like a battered Michigan program would not have the opportunity to cash in with a four-star-ish prospect. Then Notre Dame hired Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and Jibreel Black finally took the visit Michigan coaches had been trying to get him to take for a solid year. A weekend later, he flipped his commitment from hometown Cincinnati to the Wolverines, keeping Michigan's opportunistic streak alive. (If only Notre Dame had hired a coach as clueless as their last three, but that's another show.)
The flip was actually Black's second of his recruitment. He originally committed to Indiana—where his brother Larry is a starter—last June before decommitting to sign up with the BCS-bound Bearcats in November. Along the twisting path of his recruitment he also grabbed offers from South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota, NC State, Illinois, and South Florida, amongst others—a solid selection of programs outside the top tier.
What he lacks in decision he makes up for with quickness and on-field production. Black led his Wyoming Cowboys—yes, like the college—to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the state semifinals, winning a Cincinnati-area player of the year award, first-team All-State recognition, and co-Ohio defensive player of the year after racking up ten sacks on the year.
Black was named to the South team in the Ohio North-South All Star game, whereupon he unleashed his inner beast upon the poor Northerners. He had three sacks, a number of additional QB hurries, and was named his team's defensive MVP after killing the North's last threat with a fourth-and-goal sack. OSU site The O-Zone on his performance:
The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”
And though this Dispatch article doesn't specifically mention Black, it might as well:
Every bit as deserving of the honor were the South's quick and nasty defensive linemen, who worked over the North's huge counterparts in dictating the tone of the game. North quarterbacks were on the run all night, resulting in turnovers and impossible third-and-long situations.
"From watching practices I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to handle them up front," South coach Mark Crabtree of Dublin Coffman said. "Our guys on the D-line are not gigantic, but they're powerful and explosive and play with a mean streak. We were really hard to block, and we gave our offense some pretty good opportunities."
In the aftermath, a few Ohio State fans were regretting the Buckeyes lack of interest. The kicker: Black did all this playing as a three-technique defensive tackle after spending his high school career at defensive end. To get that kind of pass rush from an interior spot is doubly impressive.
Given that performance it's not a surprise that Black is often described as a DE/3-tech tweener who could play either spot in college. Scout's Dave Berk:
"Black is a player who could line up as a defensive end or at the tackle position," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Dave Berk. "He's got great burst and will give all out effort on each play. He does a good job going lateral and shows great strength and toughness. With good size and speed, Black is still learning techniques and moves that will take his game to another level."
ESPN's evaluation also touches on the positional uncertainty:
On film, he has kind of a thick and squatty build with less-than-ideal height. He almost looks like a defensive tackle, but plays the end position well. He has a good get-off and though we would like to see a little more consistency he can get moving quickly.
This makes him doubly interesting given Michigan's increasing desire to be multiple on the defensive front. Michigan has a guy in Van Bergen with the flexibility to line up inside and out and that versatility, combined with the versatility of Mike Martin, should give Michigan the ability to flip through three or four fronts without missing much of a beat this fall. If that works out well, Black will be part of a second generation of DE/DT tweener folk whose flexibility is part of their attractiveness to the staff.
And now here's a bunch of stuff that makes you think Brandon Graham. The direct comparison from Touch The Banner:
When watching his film, he looks almost like a clone of Graham. He's short-ish and thickly built. Perhaps the best thing I see on film is the way he keeps his shoulders square to the line. Too many talented athletes in high school fire off the ball and shoot straight for the ball carrier, but college opponents will take advantage of that lack of discipline. His fundamentally sound positioning shows that not only is he coachable, but the biggest obstacle for him might be his strength and conditioning. He does play a little upright, but at only 6'2" and going up against tackles who are three to five inches taller than him, leverage shouldn't be a major issue. I'm sure Michigan's coaches will work with him on staying lower, being explosive, and using that leverage to the best of his ability, but that's not a big concern.
The indirect comparison via a guy who was basically Brandon Graham on a good defense from Black himself:
“I have good quickness and speed off the ball. I have good athletic ability too. I play kind of like (former Michigan linebacker and current Pittsburgh Steeler) Lamar Woodley - fast, strong and powerful.”
“I want to work on my moves off the ball,” he said. “And I want to get faster overall. I’m also working on my hips and flexibility.”
The things that aren't actually comparisons but just sound a hell of a lot like Brandon Graham, first from his coach:
“He was great for us, I’ll tell you that,” Barre said. “He’s extremely quick, cat-like quickness I feel like, and he’ll get after the passer. He’s physical, strong, relentless, has got one of those motors that’s always going. I think they got a great player.”
Then from JJ Huddle:
He plays with natural leverage and balance and can shed blocks. Strong enough to anchor against verses the run and explosive enough to rush the passer. Does a good job a feeling blocks and fighting pressure.
And some more bits of the ESPN evaluation:
Displays the ability to stay low and is very active with his hands. He can punch, separate and shed from blocks. He is able to work laterally and stretch the play. He is tough at the point of attack. Does a good job of playing from the backside, though we would like to see him squeeze down more. He is very aware and is able to take on and strong-arm pulling linemen. As a pass-rusher, he is ready to face and defeat backs once he gets into the backfield. He has good speed and a solid closing burst. … He works to attack that outside shoulder and use his weapons to knock the blockers hands down and turn the corner.
If there was one move Brandon Graham trademarked it was blasting the OT's hands down as he and his squat frame got underneath the pads of the opposition and blew into the backfield.
And, finally, a Brandon Graham comparison would not be complete without a mention of positive off-the-field qualities from his coach
"It's extremely important to have kids like that who work hard and set a good example," he said. "Some of the kids we have now who are getting looks from college programs have benefited greatly from the role model that Jibreel has been."
"I ran into the coach of that team [the South All-Star Team], Mark Crabtree, and he let me know how much he enjoyed Jibreel and what a great kid he was and what a great leader he was for their all-star team," Barre said. "As soon as he got there for practice, he took over a leadership role and was named one of the captains." …
"It's tough to compare his position to a quarterback or a cornerback like Ahmed Plummer, but he was certainly the best defensive lineman I've ever coached," Barre said.
We're about to get into this section, but: it would be preposterous to declare anyone to be the second coming of Brandon Graham after he became the bar-none best defensive lineman I've ever seen at Michigan, especially given Graham's monster recruiting profile, Black's middling-to-good version of the same, and a lack of interest from other Midwest powers. That said, Black sounds an awful lot like Graham, stem to stern, and that's something to get excited about. If he's 80% as good as Graham and goes in the second round, everyone will be delighted with the kid's career, and that seems like a distinct possibility.
Etc.: Just don't put this on your eyeblack, kid:
Indiana assistant coach Mike Yeager, Black’s lead recruiter, told Black earlier Monday that he will make a difference at Indiana.
“I can be the Michael Vick of Indiana University,” Black said.
Why Brandon Graham? Slightly undersized strongside defensive end with outstanding character and a tendency to make quarterbacks run screaming from his frequent appearances in the backfield. Now… obviously Black is considerably short of Graham's recruiting hype and Black is not likely to be a first round pick in four years. A poor man's Brandon Graham, then, which would be fine by me.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy kid but one who played at a small school, and one facing a significant split in opinion between ESPN and Rivals on one hand and Scout and the local evaluators on the other.
General Excitement Level: High-ish. Here's betting the negative evaluations would be more positive if they'd been made in the aftermath of Black's all-star game performance. He battled questions about level of competition through his recruitment and while he wasn't going up against BCS kids in the N/S game he was going up against the college bound, and he answered spectacularly.
Projection: Could play some this fall as Michigan will need someone to step into the rotation next year with the imminent departure of Greg Banks; could also redshirt given the two-deep at DE seems decent enough. If I had to bet I would say he plays as a backup to Van Bergen an occasional pass-rush threat in long yardage situations.
Apologies for the late content. My wireless card started acting funny this morning and I had to deal with drivers for the first time in a long while.
Hello. Every year I gather up a collection of the web's finest Michigan bloggers and scream and beg and plead and scream until they submit articles to me, which I lightly burnish and send to Maple Street Press, which puts it in a book which is then put on sale. Here's this year's edition:
- I do the usual preview of the team, this year with bonus excessive quarterback analysis.
- Jerry Hinnen previews the opponent schedule, except…
- Sam Eley, who used to run We Will Always Have Tempe, previews OSU.
- Johnny of RBUAS tackles Demar Dorsey, the phenomenon.
- Andy Reid, late of the Daily, interviews Fred Jackson about the jumbled tailback spot.
- Misopogon revises and publishes a version of the Decimated Defense you can send to all your friends who keep annoying you with their lack of context.
- Chris Brown of Smart Football goes in-depth on the 3-3-5's origins and setup; I evaluate how well Michigan's existing players will fit in their new holes.
- Craig Ross looks at the evolution of offense from the single wing to the spread.
- Michael Elkon takes a look at what actually predicts turnovers, why Michigan had two straight years of incredibly poor turnover margins, and what their prospects are for 2010.
- Jamiemac explores Michigan's re-entry into recruiting Ohio like mad.
- John Kryk surveys the history of Michigan's helmet stickers.
- Greg Dooley of MVictors recounts the story of Michigan Stadium's construction.
- And, finally, a bunch of the above others take cracks at answering the questions of the day in a Wolverine Roundtable.
It is 128 pages and $12.99. This is approximately ten cents per page, many of which have very nice pictures on them. One is even of Biff the Wolverine. If you don't purchase it, chances are you have a brain tumor which causes you to make bad decisions. Check if you have a chicken on your head and go see a doctor, but not before you purchase it. You can get it online or from bookstores across the state.
FL QB Kevin Sousa has become Michigan's quarterback for the 2011 class. His last name is pronounced like the home run-hitting Sammy Sosa, not "The Victors is the greatest college fight song ever written"-sayin' composer John Phillip Sousa.
|3*, #31 QB||3*, #21 Dual QB||3*, 78, #22 QB|
In addition to the above national rankings, the Orlando Sentinel calls him the #14 overall prospect in Central Florida. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's talk about his build. Heights on the three recruiting sites range from 6-2 to 6-4, and weights from 207 all the way up to 235. I would guess right in the middle on height, at a solid 6-3. The weights were actually skewed slightly towards the lower end, so I think 215-220 is probably about right. With a college weight training program, he should reach prototypical measureables.
Keep in mind when reading the descriptions of his game, that the majority of them basically say: "He is a prospect with tons of potential as a QB, but he is really raw." That is understandable, as Sousa didn't start playing football until his sophomore year of high school:
"He's an unbelievable, gifted talent and he just needed someone to pull it out of him. I tell everybody he's just getting his feet wet," says [Lake Nona assistant coach Anthony] Paradiso. "I found him roaming the halls (at Cypress Creek) when I first met him and he was just a soccer player.
"He never played football. I got him to buy into something, buy into the fact that he could be great."
In the age where kids are trained from the womb to be roboQBs, Sousa was a soccer player up until the past two years. This means upside galore. Now, on to the evaluations. First, from his ESPN profile:
He can make all the throws due to strength and when his feet are set he flashes a powerful downfield arm... Has very good feet and pocket awareness to buy second chances and is an accomplished scrambler that is adept at making things happen when the play breaks down. He has strength and elusiveness as a runner and can not only make people miss, but can also lower his shoulder and initiate contact in the open field to fight for extra yards.
And now, the negatives:
He is also very mechanical and not always a smooth passer with consistent fundamental delivery mechanics... Feet are not always in concert with his arm and as a result he will throw off balance and can miss the strikezone at times... Must learn to change ball speeds and touch depending on the throw and consistently lead receivers within a reasonable catch radius.
So, there's quite a bit to work on. The upshot:
There is no doubt that Sousa can remain at QB [though he could also play tight end or another position], but he will need to focus on the passing game, footwork, patience and settling in to being a passer that is a great athlete and not an athlete playing QB. Drill work, coaching and scheme familiarity will enhance his chances.
As expected: lots of potential, but raw. Coach Paradiso thinks that, as the rawness goes away with experience, Kevin could be something special:
"This is the best high school quarterback I have ever seen," Paradiso says, "and I've seen a bunch. I saw John Brantley (next year's UF starter) when he was at Ocala Trinity and Kevin has a much stronger arm. Now John was a lot more accurate, but that'll come."
On top of improving his accuracy, Kevin is (understandably) novice at reading coverages, something else that will come with more experience and coaching. At an Under Armour combine in Jacksonville, he told ESPN's Craig Haubert that accuracy is the biggest thing he's working on. He has plenty of time to polish that release, as football and weightlifting are the only high school sports he participates in. The Orlando Sentinel talks about how he performed at that event:
He did 20 reps on the bench press, almost unheard of for a quarterback, and his 4.8 laser time in the 40-yard dash was equally impressive considering Sousa's size -- 6-4, 220 -- and the fact that he had stretched his hamstring a bit during the run.
"Big Sousa, man .. I tell ya. He looked like a big stud out there," Waseem said.
The weightlifting thing is doing him right, it appears. He's been hitting up seemingly every combine in the nation, so here's a later performance, as told by Tom Luginbill:
Once again, Kevin Sousa (Lake Nona, Fla./Lake Nona) shows up to an Elite 11 regional camp and each time he gets better. In fact, this was by far his best outing and he is starting to really iron out some kinks in his delivery and become more smooth and fluid as a passer. Athletically he is ultra impressive, but there were times on Friday when he got his feet, timing and delivery to sync up and for that moment, was the best guy in the camp. He can do some things that are very impressive and with a redshirt year, some program is going to get a nice little gem.
This is about as ringing an endorsement you can get for an under-the-radar prospect. With college coaching, he'll develop some consistency, and hopefully get "feet timing, and delivery to sync up" all the time. Luginbill's colleague Billy Tucker echoes the sentiment, though giving special attention to arm strength and Kevin's ability to spin the ball.
He displays an excellent work ethic, according to Coach Paradiso, and has lofty goals for the near future:
"I plan on winning the Golden Gun for Elite 11 (accuracy) and being the top QB at Nike camp (Gainesville) and the Under Armour in Atlanta, as well," he said.
If he can continue to improve day-to-day as he has been, that just may happen. In that case, Michigan will have a serious, serious sleeper prospect in the fold - though he might not be a sleeper anymore by that time.
Sousa is also a good student, amassing a 3.5 GPA as a junior. He's interested in studying mechanical engineering, so he's made a good choice in the academic department as well.
Despite his production early in his football career, and the fact that he drew raves seemingly every time he set foot in a camp, offers were slow in coming for Kevin. By the time he committed to the Wolverines, he had offers from the likes of FIU, Middle Tennessee, and UCF in the lesser conferences, and BCS-level tenders from Illinois, Louisville, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. He also held a verbal offer from Miami (YTM). Colorado State was his most recent (non-Michigan) offer.
Sousa had been waiting for the Michigan offer for quite some time, so when it came, he immediately booked a flight to Ann Arbor, and made the commitment. He has been picking up momentum over the summer as he's impressed on the camp circuit. If he weren't an early commit, there's a good chance he could have ended up with several other solid offers.
Per his Scout profile:
Dual threat QB who threw for 1,346 yards and eight TDs, he ran another 916 yards [and 5 TDs -t]. Honorable Mention All State for 3A classification. Second Team All Central Florida by Orlando Sentinel.
That was but Sousa's second year ever playing football. The program being in its first year also means it's unlikely he had very much help. As both Lake Nona and Sousa himself get more football experience and coaching, he could explode in his senior year. In his first year, according to the Orlando Sentinel, he racked up some gaudy numbers in only seven games:
He certainly looked the part last year for first-year program Lake Nona. Sousa passed for 1,290 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for another 859 yards and five scores in the first seven games, but injured his knee in the eighth game and was done for the season. Not too shabby for seven games.
He did that at Cypress Creek High School before Lake Nona opened.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals pegs him for a 4.69-second 40 time. As noted above, the floor here is a combine-verified 4.8-second (laser-timed) 40. MGoUser Swenet1111 reports that his 40 times have been reported as 4.48, 4.56, 4.69, and 4.9, outside of that combine time.
As a dual-threat quarterback, those aren't unrealistic, and with a combine-verified time, it's hard to dole out the FAKEness. I give him one FAKE out of five. I fully expect to hear about him running 4.2-second laser-timed 40s sometime soon.
You can see how he performed in Lake Nona's spring game (which was reportedly impressive enough to solidify the offer), but a more comprehensive look comes from his junior highlights. Part 1:
...and Part 2:
Those interested can see how he's improved since his sophomore year.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Sousa has exceptional physical tools, but has yet to become a true quarterback. This is unsurprising for a kids who exclusively played soccer just a couple years ago (by the way, condolences on his mother's national side, Ivory Coast, being eliminated in group play at the World Cup). Fortunately for Kevin, he's stepped into what seems to be the perfect situation. Michigan has a pair of QBs that are two years ahead of him, and Devin Gardner one year up. That means he is a near-holy lock to redshirt and work on his skills for a year before he'll even sniff the field.
Assuming Gardner stays four years (which is likely at this point), Sousa will be behind all three quarterbacks as a redshirt freshman, then things get a little fuzzy. Does Denard switch positions, or get used only as a part-time QB if he's not the #1 guy? Does Tate keep up the family tradition of transferring if he doesn't win the job? Either way, Sousa's redshirt, at the very least puts him two years behind Gardner (assuming no redshirt for Devin this fall), meaning he could have mopup/backup duty as a redshirt sophomore, and come into his own as a redshirt junior.
With his physical tools and potential, as long as Sousa gets good coaching (we already know he has great work ethic), the sky is the limit. In his senior season, there's the chance he could compete for national awards and All-American status.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has their quarterback for the 2011 class. That means they're looking for very few skill players at this point. One running back (hopefully Demetrius Hart), one more outside wideout (likely AJ Jordan, or the Wolverines could hold out for Sammy Watkins, since a second wideout isn't a necessity), and a tight end (Ray Hamilton?) are still on the menu.
Once Michigan gets those skill players locked down, offensive line and defense become the highest priorities. 3-4 OL in addition to Jack Miller, along with an emphasis on linebackers should fill out the remainder of the class.