This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
A long email about scheduling in parts:
1. Martin maintains that they need the revenue from the home games to help out with the budget. Seems to me Martin is running the department like a business. That being the case, if you own a business that has a number of different departments and some of those departments are not producing revenue, aren't there three options? 1. Try to increase revenue in the revenue producing departments, which he's trying to do. 2. Try to increase revenue/cut costs in those departments that are not producing revenue. 3. Ax those departments that are not producing revenue.
The third option is rather severe since it is college athletics we're talking about. So I'd be interested to see/know what Martin is doing to try and increase revenues in the other sports as well as reduce costs in the other sports. Hopefully, if Beilien keeps the basketball moving in the right direction that will help the revenue stream coming in from bball.
Michigan doesn't have much leverage via which to increase revenues in other sports. When you're trying to fill Crisler by selling five-dollar seats to nonconference games there's not much you can do to milk the season ticket holders without risking rebellion. And those home nonconference games aren't raking it in like a football game would. Hockey's about break-even now and stuck there; everything else, well… revenue is sparse.
As far as reducing costs in other sports: Michigan fancies itself to be Stanford of the East when it comes to its athletic department and wants each and every one of its programs to be competitive, many of them nationally. Mike Bottom, the swim coach, is probably making bank relative to his peers. Same with the women's soccer coach, who is late of the national team. For most Michigan fans the only benefit this produces is a ceremony wherein a bunch of teams you've never seen walk across the Michigan Stadium turf after winning the conference.
But they're not really the problem. This is a situation analogous to pro sports, where people complain about how much money the players are making as if it has an impact on ticket prices when in reality the relationship is reversed. Michigan has been very good at extracting revenue and that money goes somewhere. In 2003, Michigan paid athletic department employees a total of 19 million dollars. They budgeted 27 million for 2008. That's twice the revenue of one home game.
Would life be vastly different at major college athletic programs without the 12th game? No. Coaches would have slightly less spectacular salaries. The end.
2. The thing that gets me with the scheduling is why does he feel the need to schedule 1-AA schools? If he'd do the schedule a few years in advance, he probably wouldn't have to. With the ND contract, ND will be on the schedule for a while as well as a couple MAC schools. Why not look to the some of the other lower level D1 conferences for games? The lower level Conference USA schools, some lower level WAC schools and maybe some Sunbelt schools. I'm guessing a good amount of those schools wouldn't mind having a visit to Ann Arbor on their schedule to use it as a recruiting tool.
I understand the reasoning for wanting as many home games as possible, but waiting until there's less then a year away from the start of the season to finalize your schedule really leaves you with limited options. It's poor planning on Martin's part imo.
To the average fan there isn't much difference between UMass and Middle Tennessee or Memphis or San Jose State, and, honestly there isn't much of one to me. They're just teams Michigan should crush no matter what. They'll have a tepid crowd with plenty of no-shows, be televised on the BTN, and be immediately forgotten unless something terrible happens.
In that context, I understand reaching for I-AA teams. They're cheaper and the chance you get upset is lower. The issue here isn't really which overmatched team you bring in, it's the entire concept. People would be rolling their eyes just as fervently if it was Louisiana-Monroe or Idaho being kicked around as a potential opponent.
I can't speak to the poor planning, as I don't know the specifics of what's going on.
p.s. - If RR continues to be successful in promoting the spring game, could that help with freeing up money for home and homes? Even if you're only charging $10, if you get 60-70,000 people through the gate by the time you add on concessions, parking, etc. that's probably over a million dollars in revenue.
Probably not. Michigan got 50k this year for free… how many would they get if they ticked people off by charging?
I thought the big fix to the nonconference problem would come from television revenues, but Bruce Madej says that all revenues, including nonconference ones, are split evenly with conference members. So Indiana is making just as much from Texas-OSU as Ohio State. This is obviously a huge disincentive to schedule a real opponent.
This question is another question and not an insane leap from Scott above:
First, what differentiates an OL recruit/player from tackle/guard/center? Right or left side? Certainly some players can handle multiple positions, but how is their ideal position determined?
Second, why are slot receivers typically short? Isn't the key attribute being fast? Would an equally fast but tall player work just as well or better?
One: Mostly height. Ideal tackle height is from 6'6" to 6'9". Interior linemen can be much shorter: David Molk is listed at 6'2" and may be even smaller.
Why should tackles be so tall? Height usually brings long arms with it, and long arms help contain outside pass rushers and generally do wonders in pass protection. Michael Lewis tackles (ha!) the subject in The Blind Side:
The ideal left tackle was big, but a lot of people were big. What set him apart was his more subtle specifications. He was wide in the ass and massive in the thighs: the girth of his lower body lessened the likelihood that Lawrence Taylor, or his successors, would run right over him. He had long arms: pass rushers tried to get in tight to the blocker's body, then spin off of it, and long arms helped to keep them at bay. He had giant hands, so that when he grabbed ahold of you, it meant something.
But size along couldn't cope with the threat to the quarterback's blind side, because that threat was also fast. The ideal left tackle also had great feet. Incredibly nimble and quick feet. Quick enough feet, ideally, that the the idea of racing him in a five-yard dash made the team's running backs uneasy. He had the body control of a ballerina and the agility of a basketball player. The combination was incredibly rare. And so, ultimately, very expensive.
I've seen Jake Long, perhaps the ideal left tackle, in action and at no point did he remind me of a ballerina but set aside that bit of fluffery and there you go.
On the other hand, in the interior space is restricted. Unless something strange happens no one is going to run right by you, and therefore you can put guys who are just about as nimble but squatter and more powerful there. In a traditional running game* guards and centers would like very much to take a defensive lineman and blow him off the ball. That requires leverage: the #1 line cliché of all time is "low man wins". Being (sort of) short is a head start on being low. Think of Pat Massey, and then think of Terrance Taylor.
As far as right or left side: at tackle the guy on the left is the star because he's protecting the quarterback's blindside (unless that QB is left handed). So the best pass protection guys go there, the guys with the most experience and most ideal tackle physique. The guy on the right has a lot of responsibility there too but usually ends up being less slanted towards pass protection just because most teams don't have two Jake Longs.
*(What about Michigan? Michigan's more about cutting linemen off and getting guys in space against one guy who's not quick enough to cut up with you. Rather than driving the defender backwards your main priority is to either 1) get on the right side of him and prevent yourself from getting plowed into the tailback or 2) take your man's existing motion to the ball and shove him right past the action. Guards are still shorter because it's a lot easier to find a 6'3" guy with the requisite agility than a 6'6" guy.)
Two: The key attribute in a slot receiver is not raw speed but quickness. While a slot receiver is rarely going to get his tiny little legs moving at full cartoon speed, he is going to have 210-pound linebackers attempting to put their helmets through his ribcage plenty. Once you catch that swing pass or bubble screen, the ability to juke the first guy out of his jock is way more important than what your velocity is after ten yards in a straight line.
I'm sure Rodriguez wouldn't mind a 6-foot slot a la Peter Warrick, but those guys are rare. 5'8" guys with dreads who can teleport short distances are in better supply and less demand. So it's considerably easier to get the best or second-best 5'8" guy in the country, as Michigan did with Jeremy Gallon, than the best 6-foot one.
Some time ago I mentioned that the site's ability to email you registration information was erratic. It turns out there was some population behind aggressive ISP-level spam filtering that would scythe down MGoEmails before they reached people in this group.
An effort was made to fix this, and given the results of a group of test cases it appears to have succeeded. So: if you tried to register at any point in the past and were unable to get login information you can try again and this time it should work. If it doesn't, please email me.
The re-rank. More on Evan Smotrycz and the hype train a-buildin':
"I was pretty impressed with him; he's pretty tough," Daniels said. "I heard the rumblings about him. He was known as a guy that can really shoot the ball, and I hadn't seen him before so he was a priority guy for us." …
"I expected him to be able to shoot the ball well from deep," Daniels said. "I was surprised with how he attacked the rim and surprised with his toughness. Against Jayvaughn Pinkston, one of the tougher guys in the class, Evan more than held his own. He mixed it up inside, and I was thoroughly impressed with him."
It's getting to be that time when the scouting sites put their rankings where their mouths are, and the first vote is in. Scout has slid Smotrycz up to #17 amongst power forwards. He still a three star, but he's right on the verge of a fourth. The #16 guy, Melvin Tabb, is #73 on Scout's preliminary list of 75 kids, so Smotrycz is probably around #80. That's a big step forward from unranked and virtually unknown.
(Side note: one of the Rivals mods posted that Prep Spotlight shot Smotrycz all the way to #46 in their latest rankings, but there's no way to link—Prep Spotlight's website is defunct and it exists only as a magazine.)
The flameout. The Free Press considers Michigan's 2005 recruiting class, which turned into Mario Manningham, Terrance Taylor, and not much else. This is territory this blog has gone over in detail. The 2004 and 2005 classes, in summary:
Michigan got killed by back-to-back classes that saw a ton of attrition at key spots. Basically the only thing Michigan has to show from the 2004 and 2005 classes is the defensive line, which was Big Ten championship caliber.
The rest of the team? Is not.
By the time Rodriguez arrived at Michigan the excellent recruiting classes of the late Carr era had already been decimated, and few of the departures afterward were unusual. The attrition was worst on the offensive line, which was terrible early until finding some sort of footing as the season approached its merciful end. Speaking of…
The WTF. The Wall Street Journal puts together a piece on offensive line experience and its correlation with football success—strong—and just as you're bracing for Michigan to find itself on the face-punched list you get this shocking table:
|TEAMS TO WATCH||O-LINE STARTS||TEAMS TO WORRY ABOUT||O-LINE STARTS|
|Virginia Tech||100||West Virginia||25|
|Florida St.||86||Penn State||39|
Holy hotpants. I guess that's what happens when you return every single player on the line. A small caveat for the hope implied here: a number of those starts won't see the field as Ferrara and McAvoy get booted to the bench in favor of Huyge or Omameh.
Other bits of interest:
- If Penn State's offense undergoes an inexplicable collapse after returning Royster and Clark, the line might be why. Or the vast talent deficit at WR.
- If Notre Dame can't run the ball this year they never will.
- Remember how everyone was predicting one last bash for West Virginia followed by a swift, Bill Stewart-spurred immolation? Yeah.
The confession. File this under "things you already knew":
“Last year all I did was supervise. I was more of an observer,” Paterno said of his 11-2 team that lost to Southern California in the Rose Bowl. “I have a heck of a staff. Those two years I didn’t do much. Last year we had a pretty good football team, and I didn’t do much.”
So all those shots of Paterno sitting in the press box never talking into his for-show headset meant what we thought they meant: Tom Bradley is Penn State's head coach, and a pretty good one from appearances. (HT: EDSBS.)
The mocking. This goofy video put together by a bunch of kids is more entertaining than it has any right to be:
They also listed it as a reply to 'Jimmy Clausen for Heisman,' which never fails to rope me in for the whole 2:16.
The enemy. Sunday Morning Quarterback surveys the great gray menace:
This is definitely a "rebuilding" year with a lot of uncertainty on paper, destined for the fringe of the top-10 in all the preseason magazines -- and still, Ohio State is likely to be favored in every game except USC, with Penn State serving as the toss-up for the auto bid to the Rose Bowl (where OSU, for all its success, hasn't been in more than a decade). I'm willing to project a conference loss, although I don't know where it will come from if not the Nittany Lions, and another 10-2 effort will be hard for the BCS to ignore.
The whole thing is, as always, a good thing to spend your time reading.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, and OL Taylor Lewan.
|St Stephen, South Carolina - 6'3" 315
|Scout||3*, #19 OG|
|Rivals||4*, #8 OG, #213 overall|
|ESPN||82, #6 OG, #81 overall|
|Others||#82 overall to TAKKLE|
|Other Suitors||South Carolina, Tennessee, Clemson, Miami (That Miami), Alabama|
|YMRMFSPA||Hopefully Steve Schilling, guard version|
|Only the shame of absence.|
Quinton Washington is the only interior lineman in Michigan's 2009 class, and he's a good one. The first indication of this was his All Combine performance at the Army game. This led to a nice set of early offers headlined by recruiting heavyweights Alabama and Miami. Though Michigan followed suit quickly, they appeared on the outside looking in until they started telling him he was made of fairy stars and linebacker evaporation magic. Art Craig, Timberland's head coach, in the aftermath of Washington's official visit:
"To my understanding, he's their number one lineman they are going after in the nation. That's point blank what coach Rodriguez told me Friday night."
Hello! The coaching staff's excitement over Washington's potential also found its way into this Toledo Blade article. The coaches are described as "raving" over Washington while they had "nice things to say" about the tackles. Since the tackles are good-looking prospects in their own right, well… hello!
That official visit lingered with Washington until the day before signing day, when he finally picked a school. Craig on the major factor that helped him along to Michigan:
“I think Grey Frey is the difference in him going to Michigan. Coach Gibson was his initial recruiter, but he has met his position coach since March or May of last year, whenever they first came. I think that was a big play for them and for him.”
This is a major feather in Frey's cap, as Washington was widely believed to be headed to South Carolina for reasons economic. Washington on his long term goals:
Washington said he’s motivated to improve so he can provide a better future for his parents.
“They mean a whole lot to me,” he said. “They have to work so hard. I just want to make it. I want to make it better for my parents so I can give back to my parents someday.”
For Washington to come to terms with his decision for Michigan he's had to accept his parents aren't going to be there every weekend. Craig:
He said, "we’ve come to terms with the fact that they're only going to see me play probably a couple of times."
Michigan made an argument powerful enough to overcome a lot of structural factors pushing Washington to South Carolina.
As to Washington's talent: though the recruiting services weren't quite as enthusiastic as Frey the reviews were largely positive. ESPN rated him highest, naming him the #6 guard in the country and placing him in their top 100:
Washington has all the tools to be an outstanding college guard. At 300-plus pounds, he moves his feet like a lightweight (or at least a light heavyweight). … Consistently gets to linebacker level when he's left uncovered and usually finds the defender. Sometimes releases a little high, resulting in his feet coming together and a loss of balance. Shows good athleticism for such a big player and is fluid when pulling. … He's a powerful down blocker, destroying the inside man and often burying him in the turf. He's equally devastating on double-team blocks. … Big and mobile, Washington will be a hot commodity among college line coaches.
There's that theme again: athleticism. What Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield bring in 6'7" pass-protection packages Washington brings in a 6'3" linebacker-seeking guard's body. Later ESPN caught his performance at the Shrine Bowl and commented on that ability to get on those second-level defenders:
Washington played the whole game at right guard. We were impressed with his ability to drive block, his foot movement and ability to climb to the second level.
Bill Conley mentioned it too:
He is an impressive combination of strength and mobility. As good of blocker as he is up front, he is extremely fluid getting to level-two linebackers.
Given all those runs last year on which the line was creased but the gain was held down by poor second-level blocking, you can understand where the coaching staff is coming from when they say things akin to "Quinton Washington is the best thing that's ever happened to me."
Scout was the least enthused, giving him three stars. Washington's the #19 guard over there and the last four-star OG to is #13, so he's not even particularly close to that level in their eyes. I couldn't find any explanation for their point of view, nor for Rivals' uncertainty—they bounced him in and out of their top 250 all year.
“His feet are unbelievable for a guy his size,” Craig said. “He can reach you, he can down you, he can pull and go get somebody. He has unlimited potential.”
More from Craig:
"He's physically just so strong and quick at the same time," Craig said. "He's got good hip flexibility and moves well. And whatever you tell him, he absorbs it. He applies himself and he gets it the first time around."
"He has very quick feet and very good technique," said Timberland assistant coach Chris Pond. "He's very good with his hands and he's very strong."
Highlight reels of high school linemen are rarely useful unless you're a football coach, but since they feature 320-pound future collegians against 200-pound future accountants they are often hilarious. Washington hurls several gnats away from his body below:
May the gnats be as impotently annoying in college, Quinton.
Why Steve Schilling? I'd be lying if I told you my memory for Michigan guards goes farther back than the dawn of UFR. They've always been anonymous even when they were future NFL all-pros like Steve Hutchinson. So this comparison is flimsy, but Schilling's main asset is his mobility and hopefully his ability to maintain second-level blocks; Washington sounds like an even bigger version of this.
Etc.: Some more brief clips, though it's hard to make out which one is Washington in most.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. High variance.
General Excitement Level: High. It's clear the coaches were nuts about this guy and he's got the offers and recruiting mojo to back it up.
Projection: Though the coaches have suggested Washington might see the field this year—they think he's that ready—a redshirt makes more sense with Schilling's move inside solidifying the interior line. He'll have to fight Ricky Barnum to replace Moosman next year; if he loses that battle he'll be the odds on favorite to replace Schilling in 2011.
Well… yeah, so this LA WR named Drew Dileo committed to us over… uh… Tulane, Stanford, and Rice. He plays in the slot so it's not like a totally crazy commitment. Informative update coming.
Okay, so Dileo is a 5'9", 170 pound slot receiver from Louisiana. He's white.
Dandy Don, who must be taken seriously at all times about everything, ranks Dileo the states' 42nd best prospect. Tiger Rag is considerably more enthusiastic but wasn't exactly glowing:
19. Drew Dileo (5′9.5, 165, 4.5) Athlete Parkview Baptist HS - Dileo might not have as much bulk as some of the running backs in this class, but without question he has the heart. In 2007 he was selected as the MVP of the Class 3A championship game and in 2008 his role was not much different as he served as a running back, defensive back, and return specialist. Dileo’s size may be the only factor that keeps him from playing at the Division-1 level. However, there may be a team out there willing to give him a shot.
Heart: one gritty white guy descriptor ah ah ah.
ESPN's ranking is pretty meh but the writeup has some promise:
He is a good athlete with quickness and agility. … As a punt returner he fields the ball and accelerates while reading blocks on the run. Maintains balance even after being hit. Fights for every inch of return yardage and can make defenders miss in the open field. … Catches the ball easily in traffic and hauls in the pass even knowing he will be hit immediately after the reception. Can turn back across his body to make the difficult catches. As a slot, runs the counter and reverse to perfection. Hits and spins for extra yardage and is tough to bring down.
They end by suggesting he's "solid" and will be "sound" at any position he plays and "can be a very sure and productive player" and wow we're up to five gritty white guy descriptors (ah ah ah), four of which came in one sentence. Touch the Banner—which I have just discovered is run by frequent commenter Magnus—had a scouting report earlier in the year. In sum:
Dileo looks to be a low to mid 3-star player. He's a standout at a small school against weaker competition, but I question his ability to be fast enough or elusive enough to be a major contributor at the next level.
"Any way we can get him in open space," Guillot said, "we're going to do it. He has great vision and is great at making people miss."
No white guy descriptors from the coach. Score for you, Mr. Guillot.
Well, he picked up an offer from Stanford after Michigan extended theirs. Given the way Harbaugh is recruiting these days that's a respectable letter to have. But… uh. Yeah. The local paper's commit article also claims a couple additional BCS offers:
Dileo chose the Wolverines with scholarship offers from Stanford, Virginia and Northwestern (Illinois) as well.
So not just Tulane and Rice. Not LSU and Miami, either.
Dileo was a jack of all trades for his team, rushing for 760 yards on 102 attempts (7.5 per) and catching 21 passes for 315 yards. Rivals doesn't have full return stats but they do have him averaging 42.2 yards on kick returns(!); he had four touchdowns in the return game..
FAKE 40 TIME
4.5 is the number, which awesome NFL guys barely run at their combines. So probably not a guy who's other big offer was Stanford. I give it one FAKE out of three.
Highlights of last year's Louisiana 3A state championship game, of which Dileo was the MVP; he's #3:
Mmmm. Fumbles. Also: I think that reverse flea-flicker was in Super Tecmo Bowl.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Um. Well, this is not Kenny Shaw. Not to be a know-it-all but I'm not terribly enthused about Dileo's commitment. He's small, he's not ultra-productive or anything, and the other offers are teams Michigan should be recruiting on another level from with the possible exception of resurgent Stanford. Also, Fred Jackson's last obscure Louisiana wideout find was Laterryal Savoy, who Michigan took over Desean Jackson.
There are a lot of metrics that indicate Dileo isn't going to contribute. It's early in the year yet and maybe he'll have some sort of blowup senior year, but a guy like Dorrell Jalloh is probably Dileo's maximum upside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
They've got to be done at wideout, right? I mean: they've got five in the boat. Even if one—probably Jerald Robinson—is ticketed for the secondary, that's a lot of wide receivers in one class. I think they'd take one more slot if they really liked him, but that's unlikely.
As for the burgeoning class… well. One kid who has no major offers outside of Michigan is one thing. It's okay if the recruiting sites are enthusiastic about him, as they are with Robinson. But now we're up to like four (Kinard, DJ Williamson, Dileo, Tony Drake) players who don't have the offers or the rankings to suggest they're going to be anything more than serviceable if they work out. Trust the coaches and all that, yes, but at some point this goes beyond kids Michigan got on quick because they are awesome and just goes right to kids Michigan thinks they can get commits from after a 3-9 season.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, and OL Michael Schofield.
|Scottsdale, Arizona - 6'7" 272
|Scout||4*, #20 OT, #274 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #16 OT, #194 overall|
|ESPN||81, #12 OT, #148 overall|
|Other Suitors||Miami (That Miami), Minnesota, Arizona State, Oregon|
|Tom interviews Lewan and Roh.|
|Notes||Chaparral(Craig Roh). Dad played for Gophers.|
Taylor Lewan was virtually unknown until he transferred to Chaparral and his high school coach moved him to offensive tackle (he had previously been a defensive lineman; all of his video on the youtubes remains DL highlights). Three games later, Lewan was sitting on two dozen offers and getting called "the hottest prospect in the country" by the recruiting sites. (Example 1. Example 2. Example 3.) He was quickly bestowed four stars in the next re-rank, got an invite to the ESPN All American game, and embarked on a college visit tour featuring Minnesota (where his dad played in the 80s), Michigan, Oregon, and some local schools. Shortly after the Michigan visit, he committed.
That's a a whirlwind four months for a guy who had a single offer from Utah State when he attended the USC Rising Stars camp in July.
If your pattern recognition is good, or even adequate, or even sucky, you are likely to feel some sense of déjà vu as you read the upcoming scouting evaluations, random quotes from his coach, and so on and so forth. That's because Lewan fits squarely in a number of Rodriguez recruiting themes:
- Teammates. Craig Roh committed to Michigan the summer before Lewan blew up and was a major factor in his decision for M.
- Athletic offensive linemen. When this site profiled Michael Schofield it noted the kid ran track (hurdles!) his first couple years in high school and had a very respectable 40 time; Lewan, as you'll see, has a similar ability to move in space.
- Frame and upside. Like DE Anthony LaLota, Lewan is new to his position and still very raw. He's got a great frame to back on defender-crushing pounds but will need some time to do so; Rodriguez has faith in Barwis to get it done.
On with the talking. First, ESPN's scouting report:
He is a tall and lean kid with a good build, but he is lean for an offensive tackle and will need to work to add more bulk to his frame. He is a kid who plays hard and is very productive. He makes good initial contact and will flash the ability to generate power from his hips and when he does that he can drive a defender off the ball. He is a tall kid though that needs to watch his pad level and focus to stay low. He is very good with his hands as both a run and pass blocker.
… Will hop at times and open quickly, but displays the tools to be a college left tackle. Lewan has some parts of his game to keep developing and needs to add bulk, but this is a good offensive tackle prospect that also possesses nice upside.
This will quickly become the resounding chorus: development, bulk, upside. When Bruce Feldman took in the USC Rising Stars camp last year Lewan was in attendance and eye-catching, though obviously raw:
He is, of course, still very raw, and that certainly showed some times Wednesday. In fact, Lewan had a turn for his one-on-one rep just as Pete Carroll walked over and stood right behind the DE. Lewan got beat to the outside for a sack. Carroll motioned for Lewan to go again, this time against a different DE, who then beat the Arizona product with a quick inside move. Once again, Carroll had Lewan line up. This time, the third defensive end got the sack on a bull-rush.
Lewan looked disappointed but he didn't seem to stay down for long and went on to acquit himself pretty well the rest of the day. Later, he made a joke about it. "I guess that's why I signed up for the two-day camp."
Rivals also commented on Lewan's appearance at the camp, saying no one was "put together as impressively" from a "looks standpoint", which is a nice way of saying "needs development and bulk but has upside." His father noted his youth and inexperience at the time:
"He's just 16 and won't be 17 until late July," said Lewan's father, Dave. "He also is just learning the offensive tackle position. He was a defensive tackle, but he'll now be the starting left tackle for Chaparral. He's still got a lot to learn about the position, but everybody we've talked to has been very impressed with how quickly he's picking things up."
Lewan did get the hang of things as the season progressed. In the aftermath, he was named to Scout's All State team. The list constructor was enthusiastic: "had such a great season, I considered him for player of the year honors."
Now how about a barrage of quotes from his coach? When Lewan committed, his coach echoed the overall sentiment:
"That's the best athlete I've ever seen at offensive lineman," Chaparral coach Charlie Ragle said. "I was at ASU for a year (as a graduate assistant) and coached some good offensive linemen, some that are in the NFL. He's a better athlete than those guys. Not a better lineman yet, but a better athlete. He's just raw. His upside is huge."
“Michigan is getting, in my opinion, the steal of this year's recruiting class in the country,” Ragle said. “I know that's a bold statement to make, (but) this kid’s ability on the field won't be questioned. He's as good an athlete on the offensive line as I've ever seen.”
"He's as good athletically as any guy I have ever coached," Ragle said. "The thing that makes him so special is his upside when you think he's only been coached at the position for about eight months. But the one intangible that's most impressive is his nastiness --Taylor wants to burry someone on every play, and you can't coach that."
“I tell college coaches all the time: ‘you’ll be hard pressed to find a more athletic lineman than this guy.’ "
Charlie Ragle is somewhat enthused here. I detect a hint of enthusiasm.
So, yeah, this is a guy to stash on the bench for a year while he learns the Tao of Barwis. Then he is to be unleashed. Rodriguez as paraphrased by the Daily:
He’s physical, he can run … he’s got that type of body that we like to build on. … one of the best tackles we saw on film all year. … Father was an OL at Minnesota, so he knows what the Big Ten is all about
This Max Preps guy describes that body in… uh… a way. Definitely some sort of way or fashion:
Most 275-pound high school kids have flab, but Lewan looks like a strong dancer in tights.
And let's give the final tantalizing word to ESPN:
Lewan's development into a top-15 offensive tackle has been nothing short of amazing. We feel Michigan is getting an offensive lineman with perhaps the best upside we have seen at the position in recent years.
Okay, okay. All that sounds pretty freaking great but here's where I have to play party-pooper: redshirt freshman Dann O'Neill has disappeared into the background at Michigan, passed by Patrick Omameh and hardly mentioned on the recruiting sites outside of threads like "whatever happened to Dann O'Neill?" While O'Neill still has plenty of time to get his strength up and technique together, he's gone from the #1 OL recruit in his class to probably #4, as Barnum, Omameh, and Khoury all seem closer to the field.
Upside is just upside, and if you put it on the field you're not going to fare well. Lewan's got a ways to go and there are many pitfalls along the way from high school OT to Jake Long. Speaking of…
Why Jake Long? No pressure, kid! Well, 1) Lewan likes Long a lot and compares his game to the Destroyer of Ends, 2) by the end of Long's recruiting cycle he was a mid-four star who probably would have been in the same area Lewan ended up if the sites were ranking out to 300 back then, and 3) "perhaps the best upside we have seen at the position in recent years."
Etc.: Picture above regarded as "hott".
Guru Reliability: Moderate to high. All Star game appearance and a solid consensus, but that consensus is "we really, really like this guy's upside but can't rank him in the top 100 because he's only played OL for one year."
General Excitement Level: High. Good rankings, good kid, good fit. Not "very high" because it seems like he's got to do more development than most before he's college-ready.
Projection: Assured redshirt and then thrown into the tackle deathpit as a redshirt freshman; more likely his first shot at a starting job will be as a redshirt sophomore. It's tough to project offensive linemen with any confidence, but Lewan's athleticism will serve him well in Michigan's scheme and he's got a good shot at being a multi-year starter.