alternate headline: man does job
Added NJ OL Jake Kaufman, FL RB Roy Finch.
Editorial Opinion: A much more manageable set of items this week. The big news was Michigan picking up a commit from Dallas Skyline RB Tony Drake, which was covered earlier. With three senior RBs and transfers from McGuffie and Horn, Michigan will be in the market for probably three tailbacks this year. Drake is a smallish zone slasher; expect one angry moose type and a wildcard to round out the class.
He will battle the evil Mingovians
Okay, words: Legaux is a dual-threat QB who's obviously from Louisiana; he's a member of the Rivals 250 and completed nearly 70% of his passes last year. Michigan is his first big offer and that article comes from Sam Webb. So, yeah, heuristics and all that: Michigan leads for a quarterback named Munchie Legaux.
Let's do this.
MN OL Seantrel Henderson is currently the nation's #1 recruit to both Scout and Rivals. He's a mountain in a helmet, and last week he visited Michigan. The trip went well:
Cretin-Derham Hall's 6-8, 300-pound junior offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson was especially impressed with an unofficial visit to Michigan the other day.
And this appears to be the barest outline of a leader for Henderson, albeit an undeclared one:
GH: Which schools do you like right now?
SH: I like all schools, I don’t have a top three or four — Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, USC, Notre Dame and Minnesota — those are some of the ones I like.
GH: Do you plan on taking all of your five official visits this fall?
GH: Do you have schools that you definitely want to go see?
SH: Michigan, for sure.
Schwing! There's a long way to go with Henderson—when you're the #1 recruit you can wait until signing day, or, like, a month after.
A couple things that may affect Henderson's choice are the fate of his friend JD Pride, who Henderson would like to go to school with, and the ability to play basketball in college. Pride, a dual threat QB, has a Minnesota offer and visited Michigan with Henderson.
A foot in the door
It's supposed to be a poor crop of defensive tackles this year, so this is welcome news:
An absolute beast is Johnathan Hankins out of Southeastern High School in Detroit, Michigan. He’s over 6-3 and 300, he dominates sort of like an ornery bear, a big one. Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State are after him, Florida’s offered.
A Florida offer for Hankins would be strange. IIRC Michigan is waiting on summer camp before deciding whether or not to issue an offer, and they've had plenty of opportunity to interact with Hankins. But the above-linked is part of Gator Country, the ESPN-affiliated Florida recruiting site, and is therefore likely to be accurate.
Despite the increased competition a Florida offer brings, I'd regard the above as extremely good news. Hankins has been rumored to be a Michigan fan and lean for a few months now, and if he's got the talent to reel in a Florida offer he's likely to pick one up from Michigan. Bonus: Hankins is a high school teammate of MI DE Will Gholston. Getting a commitment from him couldn't hurt in Gholston's recruitment.
Before: cute. Now: eh, not so cute.
An extensive Sam Webb article in the News on TX LB Caleb Lavey features this picture from the Lavey family archives:
Awww. Amazingly, Lavey comes up well short of the most adorable legacy-recruit-as-kid photo. Here's current Northwestern defensive back David Arnold, the son of former Wolverine Dave Arnold, a long time ago:
Those of you who managed to keep your brains from exploding should know that Lavey is now a 6'4" middle linebacker who racked up 200 tackles last year and has offers from Oklahoma, Penn State, Notre Dame, and others. He is no longer cute. This is good for his prospects.
Lavey hasn't come out and named a leader, but the unofficial visit and his dad's background have Michigan in good shape:
"I really like Coach Rodriguez," said Caleb. "He left me no doubt in my mind that he will be able to turn Michigan around. He's a great coach and a great guy. Me and my dad sat down and talked with him. We talked about the program and what his plans are. He has a great vision for Michigan and he'll be the coach that turns it around and turns it back into the national championship Michigan that it always has been."
Another trait that stood out was the vigor with which the players practiced. "It was just unbelievable how hyped up they were and how they were just getting after each other," Caleb reported. "It was great."
It still kills me a little that Arnold never got an offer; hopefully this one works out better.
Video of people and things
Rivals' move to Yahoo's video distribution system has been a godsend. Things are tagged and organized, they work cross-browser, and the free stuff is available for embedding. The old stuff was finicky—never worked in firefox for me—and way less functional. Yahoo FTW.
Anyway, embeds. This is FL RB Corvin Lamb, a teeny tiny jet engine from Miami Northwest:
Top five is a good place to be at that point; if there's a visit it'll get serious.
And while we're on video, please enjoy the most pointless content in the history of recruiting. It's highlight video of PA CB Cullen Christian's combine performance. Christian extends his arm! Is a certain height! Jumps! Continues jumping! Etc. The best part is that 1) this was evidently televised by Fox Sports, and 2) whoever did the televising thought his name was "Christian Cullen."
Etc.: M in SC RB Marcus Lattimore's top ten; MI QB Robert Bolden says he doesn't want to go "where they are recruiting two or three quarterbacks and have a bunch of guys already." The coming Gardner commit is probably the death knell for M's chances with Bolden.
I am the lyrical master. This would be 100% Pure Colombian Awesome but it features Toney Clemons, who seems like a cool guy to have around, front and center and is therefore a little sad. It remains the Coner dropping knowledge, though, so its Pure Colombian Awesome percentage hovers around 98%:
Dude. Cone just smoked Brent Petway. That's Febreze, people.
Spring practice photos. Yo.
I wish I could wager on this. Michigan has a new defensive coordinator, but it's the outgoing guy with a reputation, and the stats to back it up, as a blitzing mad scientist. This does not—cannot—dissuade sportswriters, though. There's a new defensive coordinator. Who is he? Anyone. Where is he? Anywhere. The hand moves of its own accord:
I also wish I could bet that this article would state the new scheme is "more aggressive." I wish this because I like free money:
The Wolverines hope the moving parts and the more aggressive scheme generate increased pressure from players other than star end Brandon Graham, who recorded 10 of the team's 29 sacks last fall.
Hurray free money.
Cliche aside, there are a couple of interesting nuggets in the above Rittenberg piece. A pithy summary of Greg Robinson's Big Idea:
"It feels like a 3-4," Ezeh said, "but sometimes we do a 4-3 look."
Michigan is using several players in a hybrid defensive end-linebacker role, including junior Marell Evans, sophomore Brandon Herron, sophomore Steve Watson and freshman Anthony LaLota, an early enrollee. Senior Stevie Brown, who started all 12 games at safety last season, is being used as a safety/strongside linebacker.
Robinson calls the hybrid the "quick" or "spinner," because you have to have a slightly goofy name for any nonstandard position in your defense. If it comes off and they can get production out of the spot, it's a lot less frightening to consider a defensive line of Graham/Martin/RVB with Patterson/Campbell/Sagesse/Banks backups than taking one of those backups and throwing them into the starting lineup.
Then your problem is getting production out of a true freshman, a guy who lost his job last season, a guy who's never seen the field, and a tight end, all of whom have never played this position before. Which good luck with that.
Rumors flyin'. It's Tuesday, so it's time for more Darryl Stonum transfer rumors. These have been debunked by someone close to the situation: Stonum. His myspace page issued a bulletin:
I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE!!!
People are speculating 24/7 and I just want to let you know I'm a Michigan Man!! This is where I want to be and I'm truly buying into Coach Rod's system. I know I will be something special on the field and I want to prove that here at Michigan. I love this program and you best believe that.
Or, at least, several people on message boards all over the place have replicated that; Stonum's profile is set as private and I'm not on the myspace.
Fly, fly, fly! Denard Robinson was named the second fastest recruit in all the land by Rivals sometime last year. Rivals was right:
Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.
Robinson's personal-best eclipsed the state standard for this year set by Byrd, a junior at Ida Baker, and it is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.
Even better is Robinson's reaction to his smokin' hot time:
''I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that.''
Robinson plans on running a 10.3 by states. By the time he arrives on campus he'll be from the future.
Saw that Rich Rod has an official facebook account, and has william gholston as a friend. Are there any issues with non-contact periods for recruiting and how facebook fits into that? I mean what happens if he posts on his wall? Does that count?
Well, one: there's a major misconception about dead periods. Even in the deadest of dead periods, limited phone contact (the standard once per week) is permitted. And mail, electronic or otherwise, is basically unregulated. Instant messaging, though is considered a phone call.
As for Facebook and Twitter… those are gray areas. They aren't illegal as of yet—obviously—and enterprising coaches always looking to increase their profile amongst potential recruits. Since Facebook and Twitter have broadcast characteristics—anyone can follow Rodriguez—I think they'll probably be okay.
On our forum, we have had a discussion regarding the physical size of Tate Forcier. Some people feel that due to his lack of weight and height, not to mention the size of his arms, he will not be able to withstand the hits in the Big Ten. What are your thoughts on this?
Any speculation on how injury-prone Tate Forcier might be because of his little toothpick arms would be just that: speculation. Some little guys seem to get injured all the time, like McGuffie and Hart. Others just keep on trucking without issue.
The coaches are obviously aware they've got a nasty combination of youth and lack of depth; indications are they'll protect Forcier as much as possible. Feagin's been running at quarterback in spring quite a bit and I think you'll see him and Robinson see duty in a quasi-wildcat* formation when they want to get QB carries.
Meanwhile, reports on Forcier say he's 1) elusive in the pocket and 2) effective throwing on the move. We might see a lot of moving pockets, and even when Forcier does bust out he's probably going to look to chuck it deep instead of take off. I meant those Drew Tate comparisons when I made them: smallish moxie-fied mobile passer.
Compare that to Threet, who was pretty fast in a straight line—see Wisconsin ramble—but had no change of direction and took a lot of ugly-looking hits simply because he wasn't agile enough to shield himself when it came time to meet a linebacker. When Forcier does run, which will be maybe a half-dozen times a game, he'll probably be at less risk than the ponderous Threet.
(Quasi-wildcat because, yes, they're QBs. But no, you shouldn't expect them to throw much or at all.)
What are the chances that Michigan will play one night game at home over the next 2-3 years? I would love to see Michigan Stadium all lit up for a home game v ND, MSU, or PSU. I don’t support the idea of playing “the Game” at night. Can you please tell me what your thoughts are on this subject.
I'll probably answer this every six months until I die, but there was hullaballoo about this on the message board a while back so my take, again: Michigan should pick one Big Ten opponent and always play night games against them, but never against anyone else. That would be a nice tradition that would hype up what might be just another conference game, and it wouldn't be too much of a strain on the AD or the police department or whatever.
My primary candidates were Iowa and Wisconsin, since they're both respectable programs and there's usually something to play for when they arrive in town. I would prefer Iowa, as Michigan and Iowa have a long history of friendly rivalry and cooperation dating from Bump's tenure as Iowa AD.
I was wondering, any reason why U-M under RR is now issuing the same number to two different players one on offense and one on defense. OSU did this last year with Pryor and Jenkins. Last year there were two # 3s on U-M with Feagin and Brown. This year's roster has two different #5s (Forcier and I forget who on defense it was) as well as twin #3s. Is this because coaches are promising numbers to players in recruiting now?
Love the site (and yes I know I have too much time on my hands),
Colleges often carry over 100 players, so it's impossible to have a roster without some overlap. The NCAA allows you to play as many guys as you want with the same number as long as only one of them takes the field at the same time, so it doesn't come up often, and if you switch positions midseason, like Carson Butler did, you can just change your number. So, yeah, it doesn't matter.
As far as why, I don't really know. Michigan's #1 is off limits now unless you're a supadupastar, which reduces the number of available (and always popular) single digit jerseys. And maybe the kids these days are pickier. I don't think it's a Carr-vs-Rodriguez trend, though.
Side note: My favorite number share in recent years was a couple years ago when Kevin Grady and one of the kickers shared #3, which was good for a special-teams doubletake a game.
Computer issues remain: this is Tom's doing, as per usual.
Texas running back Stephen Hopkins attends a high school with unfortunate uniforms. He's also one of a few bigger backs with a Michigan offer; he's also been offered by Texas A&M, Nebraska and Oregon. You can see him turn linebackers into goo at ESPN. Tom interviewed him over the weekend, and it sounds like Michigan is a strong contender.
TOM: So what schools are showing interest in you so far?
STEPHEN: Stanford, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M are a few off the top of my head.
TOM: Being from Texas, what schools are you most interested in? Is it important to stay close to home?
STEPHEN: I’m interested in all of them right now but I know the most about Michigan and Texas A&M. Distance won’t be a factor for me, I know that. I just want to go where I’m wanted.
TOM: You’re a bigger back already, and only a junior. Do you think that gives you an advantage going into college?
STEPHEN: Yea, it kind of gives me a disadvantage though too. Sometimes there’s a stereotype that I can’t run fast, but I’m going to improve on that. I recently ran a 4.6 40, so I want to try to get that down to a 4.5. I like that I’m bigger, and don’t want to lose that, but I want to get faster too.
TOM: Are you more of a physical back with your size, or do you try to stay balanced?
STEPHEN: I’m going to try to be more balanced next year. I think I can do other things besides hit. I really want to show what I can do this year, and hopefully let the schools know I’m not just a big back.
TOM: You’ve been to Texas A&M, SMU, and Nebraska so far. What stood out to you with those schools?
STEPHEN: I liked A&M the most, because I got the most attention. I don’t want that to sound bad, but I want to be a big part of the program, and make a difference. I don’t want to just be a role player.
TOM: What other visits do you plan on taking over the summer?
STEPHEN: I’m going to KU; my family is from there so that will be easy. I’m going to Michigan April 10th too. Besides that, I’m not really sure; it depends on how my visits before that go. My biggest thing with Michigan is how they’ll use me in the offense. I know they haven’t really had any bigger backs like me before, so that’s one thing I’m going to ask the coaches. Obviously it’s Michigan, so they have great facilities, and the environment is great, I want to see about some other parts too.
TOM: I know it’s early, but what kind of negative recruiting have you seen so far?
STEPHEN: I haven’t really heard any yet. No one has put anyone down; it’s been more focused on their school. I’m still deciding on whether or not I’m going to graduate early, so when I decide that I think I’ll hear more.
TOM: What’s going to make your final decision? What do you want from a school?
STEPHEN: I want to see how I’m used in the offense mainly. Most of the schools I’m looking at have good business schools, which is important. My main thing is how valuable I am to them. I want to be a big part, and I know I can make a difference.
TOM: Where does Michigan rank right now? Do you have a top 5?
STEPHEN: If there was a top, I’d say Michigan’s tied with Texas A&M. I don’t want to say too much, but I haven’t even seen them yet, and they’re definitely up there. I’m excited to see everything up there.
3/27/2009 – Michigan 0, Air Force 2 – End of Season
Naurato (left) and Lebler; Ariel Bond from the Daily.
Well, at least I don't have to make a tedious case that the way the NCAA hockey championship is determined is close to a random number generator. Reality has done that for me. Yost Built summarizes the chaos over the weekend:
-3 #1 seeds are out.
-3 #2 seeds are out.
-The only remaining #2 was down 4-2 with 40 seconds left in regulation. They scored with .8 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
-That wasn't even the latest a goal was scored to send a game to OT as UNH popped one in against North Dakota with .1 second left and won in OT.
-Cornell scored with 18 seconds left in regulation to beat Northeastern.
-A game was won in double OT on a shot that went through the net.
Hell, Michigan's loss against Air Force wasn't even the craziest thing to happen. Notre Dame got behind Bemidji State 4-0 and ended up losing 5-1. Literally the only team that adhered to expectation was BU, the sole one-seed to make the Frozen Four.
Today we stand at the edge of history, with Bemidji State—a team whose conference will cease to exist as soon as it is eliminated, if, you know, anyone bothers to do so before they win a national title—ticketed for the Frozen Four. Michigan outshot Air Force 44-13 and lost. In their next game, the Falcons were denied in double overtime by the above-mentioned shot that went through the net and was subject to a tortuous ten-minute review before it was declared a game-ending goal.
If ever there was a time for this particular youtube embed, this is it:
Does all this make me feel better? Well, yeah, kinda. When the misery was all Michigan's, it was weekend ruining. When Jeff Jackson (and the rest of the favored planet) can empathize, eh… that's single-elimination playoff hockey.
Travis Turnbull, who was this close to murdering a half-dozen people over the past couple months, probably disagrees.
I was actually planning on doing something else on Friday but the looming possibility of knife-twisting overwhelmed all. At this point I care about the hockey team as much as I care about football—for which you can blame/credit the back-to-back Yost regionals earlier this decade—and there is no point at which a football team finds itself at the mercy of the fates like college hockey teams do during the tournament.
Maybe this is an effect of the limited information we have in football. There are so few games that teams become their results; "deserved" doesn't enter into it. Teams become legendary because they win all their games, or in some cases win all but one and get lucky, and then that it. They exist as their body of work.
Hockey teams have a body of work, which is thrown into the pairwise blender and spat out somewhere else and then they show up and hope. I've mentioned this before: pucks bounce. And sometimes a seemingly harmless shot from the half-boards finds the millimeter of space the opposing goalie provides, and sometimes your first-round draft pick defenseman and senior captain gets walked and sometimes the team you're rooting for seems bound and determined not to score any goals that don't bore a hole through the opposing goalie and then you scream profanities and go mope until you fall asleep.
So ends Michigan's 2008-09 hockey season, and dude: lame. I wish I had something more enlightening to say about it, but when you outshoot the opponent by more than 3-1 and lose there's not much you can say except "goddammit."
Berenson himself drops the strange results from 97 (when Michigan had one of the great college hockey teams of all time and got bounced) and 98 (when a shell of the 97 team got hot in the tourney and won a national title) whenever someone puts a microphone in his face and asks him about his chances. I can almost rattle off his speech verbatim by this point: "the best team doesn't always win" etc, etc, etc.
But even if the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are old hat by now, this one had to be incredibly disappointing. Michigan was up 2-0 in the CCHA championship game, looking to extend their streak in non-controversial games to 21-1. Ninety minutes later the scoreboard reads Michigan 1, Opponent 7 and the season is over without anything to mark its passage.
The picture above says it all: what the hell was that?
- Man, that second goal was a killer. It's two-on-two coming into the defensive zone and Mitera steps up in a completely insane way, creating an unnecessary two-on-one. If he's been on the ice a month you have to play him and hope; I don't think that play happens if Mitera has another season of experience behind him instead of rehab.
- Well… next year. Primary flight risks are Summers, Palushaj, and Caprusso. If you made me guess I'd say Palushaj is gone and the others return. Seniors are Mitera, Turnbull, Miller, Fardig, and Naurato. (Also Sauer.) No offense to any of those guys, but that's two fourth-liners and two third-liners who occasionally got sucked up into scoring lines for physical presence along the boards and so forth and so on. Lebler and Winnett should be able to step into those roles, and then you've got a probable second-round NHL draft pick at power forward plus the U18 team's leading scorer.
The team should be very good again.
- Turnbull spent his last couple months in a Michigan uniform seriously pissed off (which was not entirely outside the bounds of reason), from the misconducts in the Ferris game to a wide variety of incidents with referees. I don't know why or anything, but it's worth noting.
The ding: minor. Sheridan's injury won't last much past spring:
Nick Sheridan has suffered a non-displaced fracture of his leg that will not require surgery. He will be out 4-6 weeks, and will be back with the team in time for summer workouts.
React to that as you will. I have absolutely no emotion relating to that news.
Drop the puck. Yost Built has ten things about Air Force for you before today's 3PM puck drop. As always, I'm petrified. There is nothing more terrifying that single-elimination playoff hockey, and nothing more shattering than that moment when the knife twists and the wrong red light comes on.
That's a lot of hamburgers. The Frozen Four is coming to Ford Field next year, which is a lot of seating for a college hockey game even if they, as planned, cut the stadium in half and put up temporary bleachers. They have changed the plan:
The NCAA announced today that the rink for college hockey's championship event will be in the middle of Ford Field next April, just like the basketball court will be in a couple of weeks.
There had been talk of putting the rink in an end zone and curtaining off part of the stadium because of crowd-size and viewing concerns.
Uh… thumbs down. Are you really going to get 70,000 people at the Frozen Four next year? In Detroit? Very unlikely even if Michigan makes it. This seems likely to be a debacle that makes the committee avoid Detroit for future events. Hurrah.
Adios. Toney Clemons' departure was handled with slightly more class than that of Mr. Plow:
"I was recruited in to play in coach (Lloyd) Carr's more pro style offense and that was an offense that allowed me to utilize my talents, using my size and speed combination to stretch the field, run precise routes and make plays down field in the passing game," Clemons said. "The offensive concepts were very different than the ones that coach Rod (is) running now and that was a system that I feel I could go into and thrive in. I gave this new system a chance thinking that I could switch lanes and use my athleticism to excel in the system but it just didn't work out for me, I just had a feeling that I wasn't what they were looking for."
By all accounts, Clemons was an outstanding kid—Breaston's cousin, so not surprising—and someone with talent in the right system. Hopefully he lands somewhere he can use that talent.
Sucker bets. Bruce Feldman checks in with Vegas to see if there's been any recent movement in the BCS championship lines. He finds one particular team surging:
Apparently, there's some enthusiasm for Michigan in Year 2 under Rich Rodriguez. The Wolverines went from being a 200-1 shot to win the 2010 BCS title game (on Feb. 3) to a 100-1 shot as of March 24.
Feldman cites the usual jump Rodriguez teams in year two, the six redshirted offensive linemen, and the Tate/Robinson combo at QB as reasons this might have happened. But all these things were true on February 3rd except maybe Robinson. I credit (blame?) drunk Michigan fans in Vegas after the Clemson game.
Here's an education, sort of. The Globe and Mail took a look at the CHL's education packages, getting some quotes along the way from Red Berenson:
“I think what's happened is that the Canadian Hockey League has done a good job of contaminating these kids in terms of their eligibility,” said Berenson, a Regina native and former NHLer who has coached in the NCAA for 25 years. “They're drafting these kids at 14 out in Alberta and B.C. and 15 in Ontario, so they draft them and get them excited about playing in the O [OHL] or the Dub [the WHL] and they bring them up and play them in a game and they're done. Once they've played a game, they've lost their [NCAA] eligibility.
“They can tell the kids they're getting everything they're getting in the U.S., but they rarely do.”
This is correct: junior players can get scholarships but only one year for each year they play in junior. Even sketchier, as soon as you sign an AHL or professional contract the money is gone. Heck, if you sign an ECHL contract you have one year and then the money is gone. Only 32% of CHL players end up getting anything at all.
Junior advocates will tell you this is still a good bet for future stars, and it may be for the tip of the pyramid, the top-ten picks who aren't long for any junior league. But once you take the numbers and start creating league equivalencies, 1) the USHL has the same quality of play as any of the Canadian junior leagues, and 2) college hockey is considerably tougher. The case that waiting for college hockey will delay your development has been blown up by the move of the USHL to tier one and the corresponding increase in quality of play. Junior now provides zero advantages unless you just don't want an education, which the CHL is happy to not supply.
Elsewhere in the hockey blogosphere, Tom Benjamin says Berenson is "full of shit" and proceeds to completely misinterpret the above quote:
Every young player knows that if he plays a game of Major Junior he loses his chance at an NCAA scholarship. This rule has not changed in recent years and therfore this rule does not explain why fewer and fewer Canadians are opting for the NCAA. It is happening because the CHL offers better opportunities - a faster route to the NHL and the scholarship program - now.
Berenson's not saying the kids don't know they'll lose their eligibility, he's saying the CHL teams are getting kids to play in a game or two when they're too young to have any idea whether or not it's a good idea, when they're really vulnerable to the far-off and unlikely dream of making the NHL. Mudcrutch has an excellent rejoinder, and Benjamin gets pwned in his own comments:
It’s also worth noting that the CHL’s scholarship program is a lot less financially generous than is a full ride NCAA scholarship. The fact that the “full ride” in the OHL is limited to first round picks from the Midget draft is outrageous - no wonder guys like Berenson are miffed. If it is about education, then you extend the offer to all players, not just an elite few whom you are concerned might bolt for greener pastures. It also takes at least four years to get a degree, not two or three, and the fact is that the CHL is usually only paying for two years for many of the players.
Junior is a scam, man.