On Monday MGoBlog took a look at current commits unlikely to move up.
Rivals and Scout rankings are useful but imperfect, and early rankings are more imperfect still. Though Michigan freshman Taylor Lewan ended up a 4-star prospect to both major recruiting site, he entered his senior season virtually unknown. By the time final rankings had come out he was a four star well within everyone's top 150.
The following players look to be this year's Lewan and have some upward mobility this fall. Not all will move up, of course, but look for one or two of the below players to gain a fourth star, or, in Devin Gardner's case, a fifth.
MI QB Devin Gardner
|Ranking||DT QB #2||QB #6|
Why Here? Devin has been compared to Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young, so it stands to reason that he is highly-ranked. He took his team to the state championship game (in which the Vikings lost to East Grand Rapids), and put together a solid junior campaign both on the ground and through the air.
All of the recruiting sites like Devin, but none of them love him yet. Barry Brunetti is listed ahead of him among dual-threats on Rivals, and Gardner is still chasing that elusive 5th star on Scout.
Prediction: This isn't much of a prediction. Multiple Rivals analysts have stated flat-out that Gardner will be their #1 dual threat QB and comfortably in the top 100 when they take the Elite 11 into consideration. He has shown off his athleticism—and willingness to compete—by attending various camps and combines in the summer before his senior season despite his early commitment to Michigan. He has shown potential greatness at QB, WR, and even defensive back(!); his versatility is not in question. He killed it at the Elite 11.
Unless he completely tanks this season, anything other than 5 stars will be a disappointment for Devin.
SC QB Cornelius Jones
|Ranking||DT QB #24||QB NR|
Why Here? Cornelius Jones's junior season didn't go well. He got exposure during it, playing highly-ranked teams within the state of South Carolina in every game, but his team wasn't good. The competition (like Byrnes, the home of Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Willis, et al, who Spartanburg played twice) was. Jones ended up throwing just 1 touchdown to 12 interceptions.
Michigan extended an informal offer last April and followed through with an official offer in January. He was among the first QBs that the Michigan coaching staff extended an offer to, so they think highly of him despite the inexperience. There's something there.
Prediction: Jones' polish-to-talent ratio is very low, and his learning curve may be quick. A player doesn't have offers in the summer before his junior season if he's not talented (especially when he didn't even play as a sophomore). He's done much better in summer 7-on-7 camps, leading Spartanburg to a tournament final against Byrnes amongst a crowded field of quality programs.
Even if he can't prove his worth as a QB, the recruiting services might rank him as an athlete. If he can have a decent enough year in his senior season, he could end up a fringe 4-star guy. At the very least he should pick up a third star from Scout and get bumped up a bit in the positional rankings.
One heartening item: his high school coaching staff will have a year under their belt coaching as well. Last year was their first in Spartanburg.
TX RB/Slot Tony Drake
|Ranking||APB #16||RB NR|
Why Here? Drake is the sort of guy who can excel in the Rich Rodriguez offense, but isn't likely to be considered for a high ranking by the recruiting sites. He's a speedy little bastard who performs despite his diminutive stature, and probably wouldn't last long in the NFL.
Drake was productive as a receiver as a sophomore, but was relegated to a backup running back last year.
Prediction: He is at one of the right programs to have success at: Skyline routinely pumps out a talent, and is one of the most visible high school teams in the nation. The stage is set for Tony Drake to take a big leap forward.
Now he just has to perform. Being named second team all-district at WR as a sophomore proves he might have the skill to get it done. I was pretty dubious on Drake's ability to move up, but there is an the opportunity in front of him.
OH WR Jerald Robinson
|Ranking||WR #43||WR #68|
Why Here? Robinson hasn't gotten it done on the field yet. A bad QB situation may have played a role in that. He is also a multi-position player that nobody knows exactly where to place. Originally, most Michigan fans thought he would play safety. After an impressive camp performance, however, nobody knows quite where he will play. At the moment, it seems like he'll stay at wideout.
If the quarterback situation at Canton South doesn't get better, Robinson won't have a opportunity to produce. However, if it improves, he can move up with a much better year.
Prediction Sam Webb was really high on Robinson as the best wideout at Michigan's camp, which was also attended by the likes of Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. That alone indicates that Robinson is an talent deserving of 4-star status.
With impressive performances this summer—and hopefully a better season as a senior—Robinson will have a shot at getting a fourth star on Scout, too.
OH WR DJ Williamson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #106|
Why Here? DJ Williamson is unknown. Though he has a highlight film on Scouting Ohio, the recruiting services either don't know much about him or didn't deem him worthy of even a 3-star ranking until recently. Williamson committed early and has not attended any camps, so his exposure is very low. Scout and Rivals both have him at three stars (finally), but he is way, way down on each of their wideout lists.
There is upside here: Williamson has decent size at 6-1 showed elite speed by winning the 100m dash in meet after meet on his way to the Ohio state title.
Prediction: If Warren finds a quarterback to get the ball to him, Williamson's size and speed alone should boost him up to a high 3-star. Four stars is doubtful for a guy who hasn't put in the time at combines and camps.
MI WR/TE Jeremy Jackson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #78|
Why Here? The son of a coach, Jackson got early offers from the likes of Florida and Texas before ending his recruitment early. He is a polished player as a coach's son. He had good, but not exceptional stats as a junior.
Players who have received lots of coaching in their careers but aren't dominant in high school, usually don't have the physical talents to be elite players. And with Huron moving to a veer option offense, Jackson may not have a lot of opportunity to prove that he deserves to be ranked among the top players in the nation.
Prediction You may be taken aback at first by the fact that Jackson is listed as a WR/TE. Sam Webb has been saying on the WTKA recruiting roundup for quite some time now that Jeremy is still growing, and currently looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver. With Michigan's new focus on athletic tight ends, they might encourage a further move in that direction. Jackson may have more upside there, and if the recruiting sites make this change in position, he could move up to a 4-star prospect.
[Editor's note: I would have slotted Jackson in the other group; he's polished and slow-ish, two things that don't often result in big senior-year moves. Also: high school to run a veer. To be fair, Tim's basing his assessment on Jackson as a tight end.]
OH DE/LB Antonio Kinard
|Ranking||LB NR||DE #55|
Why Here? Kinard is the third in the trifecta of tweeners Michigan has committed on defense (the other two, Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz, were listed as “Stuck in Neutral”). He doesn't stand out on film more than most prospects, which leads to his 3-star ranking. And with two classmates a year older heading to Michigan, he probably got at his fair share of scouting.
But Kinard is athletic, as evidenced by his huge TD run in the game that I scouted with VB last year, and Duane Long also thinks he's got serious athletic ability.
Prediction: Kinard wasn't highly productive on a defense last year that featured current Michigan freshman Isaiah Bell roaming the secondary. You'd think that an imposing safety like Bell would give Kinard more opportunities to make plays, but he didn't. He has the athleticism, though, the potential for big time production is there.
Unlike Paskorz and Wilkins, I think Kinard is likely to stay at LB. Still, I think he'll be a low-4 or higher 3-star prospect. A big move is unlikely for a tweener.
OH CB Courtney Avery
|Ranking||DB NR||CB #23|
Why Here? Avery, a star for Lexington High School for the last three years, is not underexposed. The problem is that he has starred as a diminutive quarterback. Avery only started playing on defense just this past year, but couldn't go full time since he was busy tearing up opposing defenses on the other side of the ball. Now that he knows where he’ll play in college, that might change.
If Avery was a couple inches taller. He could be a Troy Smith clone (not that Smith was a giant) and use his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism to direct Michigan's spread offense. Alas, he's not, so unless he's used for the occasional trick play on offense, he'll be a corner for GERG's defense.
Prediction Avery has some of the best upside in Michigan's entire recruiting class so far. Local observer Duane Long thinks Michigan got "a steal." Avery is just one year into his new position, potentially still growing, and was deemed good enough by Michigan's coaches to receive an offer at camp after a week of personal observation. If he can take enough time off from blazing through opposing defenses, he should be able to move up in the rankings. Avery's a quintessential late mover.
I am in the process of analyzing our numbers for 2009 and 2010 for a diary post, and I was wondering what you think the preferred number of scholarships should be by position. Going through the allotment of 85 scholarships, I was actually surprised as to how many I had left over. I felt that all positions had adequate depth, and still had about 10 left over. In my opinion, I don't believe we need 5 quarterbacks, or 7 wide receivers and 4 slots, but the other positions seemed adequate, and it made more sense to me to give an extra scholarship to these positions than others.
My rough estimate is:
Offense QB 5 RB 7 FB 1 WR 7 SWR 4 TE 3 OL 15 42 Defense DE 7 DT 7 LB 12 CB 7 S 8 41 Special Teams K 1 P 1 2 Total 85
What do you think?
Thanks for your help,
That appears to be an ideal scholarship breakdown; if so it seems heavy on the linebackers and light on DL and CB.
If you hold a couple scholarships apart for kickers you have 83 spots for 22 starting slots, or about 3.75 scholarship per starter. A breakdown based solely on that metric, with the numbers rounded to the nearest whole- or half-number that makes sense, gives you the following (chart?) chart*:
|Pos||Slots||Ideal||2009||2010 (Est)||Pos||Slots||Ideal||2009||2010 (Est)|
|RB||1.5||5.5||8||8 or 9||DT||2||7.5||5||6 or 7|
|OL||5||19.0||15||14 or 15||S||2||7||4||6|
|Totals||11||42||42||44 to 46||Totals||11||39.5||32||41|
Impressions from the chart:
The offense isn't too far off ideal numbers now and won't push far above them next year. The biggest discrepancy between the "ideal" offense numbers and the existing team is about four offensive linemen who happen to be tailbacks. I don't think that's out of whack. Michigan's always carried six to eight running backs. They get injured lots. They get tired and platoon. They don't redshirt much. Meanwhile, with linemen their sheer number gives you more leeway. The proportions and numbers on Michigan's offense this year look about right to me.
You know, except for the fact that two of the quarterbacks are the Coner and Sheridan.
Next year Michigan will add three scholarships to the receiving corps at the expense of an offensive lineman (maybe) and/or a few defenders, but Jerald Robinson or Cameron Gordon or someone else could send up on the other side of the ball, which would bring the numbers in line with a reasonable distribution.
The defense, especially the secondary, is creepin' me out, man. I slanted the numbers a bit towards the offense and the current team still comes up about eight guys short, with the secondary alone accounting for seven of those folk. Great googly-moogly. If Justin Turner hadn't qualified I'd be freakin' out, man.
I'm not too worried about the low numbers at middle linebacker given the way college football is moving; you can see the disproportionate number of tweener guys in the OLB/DE numbers.
Next year the scary numbers should come up. I assume Michigan will take two more corners and at least one more safety; they graduate no one.
Michigan's operating at something like ten scholarships under the limit this year, and the defense has taken the entire hit. But said unit also graduates exactly two players, so even if this defensive class is only ten—less than half a class that will probably hit 22 or 23—the numbers should be a lot closer to even next year. And that's without taking possible position switches, all of which are likely to go from offense to defense, into account.
The upshot: yes, this class is a tad heavy on receivers—shock—but not to the point that it will be a major drag on available defenders going forward. This year's secondary, however, is last year's offensive line in terms of depth and huge scary dropoffs past the starters.
*(Notes on the numbers: in certain spots I moved players to positions other than the ones they occupy on the Depth Chart By Class. This mostly took OLBs to deathbacker, which for purposes of this chart I'm considering a DE. Herron and Evans were filed as DEs; Ryan Van Bergen was filed as a DT. You could probably move Banks or Patterson to DT, too. Also: Nick Sheridan was included in 2009 but not 2010; fullbacks are assumed to be walk-ons with one getting a slot at any one time.)
You can see in the pictures of the construction that the glass and brick structures that will be the club seats and suites in 2010 are almost complete (at least the exteriors). Do we think we'll see a huge change in noise level from this season to last?
Thanks, and Go Blue
This is a topic that comes up all the time and to which I can only say "I don't really know." Back in '07 some Russian guys ran out an oversized metallic dandelion-looking device at halftime of the Minnesota game and exhorted the stadium to cheer. "Taking measurements," they claimed. Either that's an elaborate coverup of a Russkie plot or it's true.
A few days later the Daily made this remarkable assertion:
When Navvab and his team took measurements during Saturday's halftime, they found that the sound - almost exclusively from the student section - was 100 decibels, or the equivalent of a chainsaw.
With the skyboxes, which will stand about 10 feet higher than the scoreboards and further enclose the stadium, the sound level of the stadium would reach 110 or 111 decibels, about the noise level of a loud rock concert, Navvab said.
Decibels are a logarithmic scale; moving ten decibels up is equivalent to doubling the perceived loudness, a jump too preposterous to believe. On the other hand, I've been high up in upper decks—it's like being in another world; all the noise just goes straight up—and I've long thought Ohio Stadium's relatively vertical construction helped them hold in sound. And Michigan's boxes are both very tall and angled in towards the field.
It'll definitely get better. How much only the Russians can tell you, and we evidently don't believe them anyway. One thing it's not going to do is replace a bunch of crabby down-in-fronters with drunk Cajuns. Michigan fans will remain Michigan fans, and with that comes a certain level of posh. Michigan Stadium doesn't get fired up much. When it does, though, it does a credible job.
The proof will be at next year's Big Ten Media Days; MGoBlog will seek out visitors from any and all close home games and ask if they thought the stadium had gotten noticeably louder.
It is time again to participate in Blogfrica's circle of life. We cull the herd, and then we welcome tiny mucus-covered baby voters onto the great plain of BlogPoll participation.
Three items: if you are on the "add" list and did not get an email from me, you should email me. If you did not hear back from me about not getting in, you should also email me. If you blog about one of the uncovered BCS teams, anyone in the Pac-10, ACC, Big 12, or the great wooly unwashed non-BCS masses, email me today and I'll consider you for last-ditch inclusion. SEC, Big East, and Big 10 blogs are currently out of luck.
And now on with the show:
The following blogs no longer exist and have been excised:
- SEC Football Talk (Auburn)
- ACC Football Report (FSU)
- Old Gold & Blog (Wake Forest)
- Bears Necessity (Cal)
- Varsity Blue (Michigan)
- Around The Oval (OSU)
- Mountainlair (WVU)
The following blogs didn't participate consistently last year or can no longer participate for reasons of time or conflict of interest and have also been excised:
- Deadspin (Tennessee – Clay Travis left)
- Texas A&M and Baseball In No Particular Order (A&M)
- TNABACG (Minnesota)
- Blue-Gray Sky (Notre Dame)
- Excuse Me For My Voice (Cal)
- The Enlightened Spartan (Michigan State)
Repeat: cut for voting his team too high whenever there was the slightest opportunity to. Do not let this happen to you, good voter. One week, or three, in a season is not an unreasonable thing. Getting or being in contention for the CK Award whenever your team was even plausibly vote-worthy—which hasn't been the case with State very often—is cause for ejection.
Also, Michigan voter Russ Levine fumbled Football Outsiders' blogpoll vote over to ND partisan Brian Fremeau.
- Gobbler Country (Virginia Tech)
- Eagle All Access (Boston College)
- Anton Azucar (Miami)
- From The Rumble Seat (Georgia Tech)
- WVU Pressbox (West Virginia)
- The Smoking Musket (West Virginia)
- Simon On Sports (UConn)
- Sox And Dawgs (UConn)
- The UConn Blog (UConn)
- The Bull Gator (South Florida)
- Beat Visitor (Rutgers)
- Eye Of A Panther (Pitt)
- Maize 'n' Brew (Michigan)
- The Wolverine Blog (Michigan)
- The Only Colors (Michigan State)
- SpartyMSU (Michigan State)
- We Will Always Have Tempe (Ohio State)
- Not Qualified To Comment (Illinois)
- Hail To The Orange (Illinois)
- Nittany White Out (Penn State)
- Smart Football (Purdue)
UPDATE: Hey, awesome I forgot an entire conference!
- Bears With Fangs (Cal)
- Coug Center (Washington State)
- Pitchfork Nation (Arizona State)
- House of Sparky (Arizona State)
- Over The Pylon (Ball State)
- One Bronco Nation Under God (Boise State)
- Red And Black Attack (Northern Illinois)
- All Pac 10 (Somewhat oddly, Tulsa)
Voter Distribution And Stats
The poll swells from 88 blogs last year to 107 this year. Breakdown by conference, with mid-majors regarded as another 12-team conference for purposes of vote balancing:
|SEC||ACC||Pac 10||Big 12||Big 10||Mid-Majors||Big East|
|Last Year's Count||21||11||8||13||19||10||6|
|This Year's Count||21||13||10||15||23||14||13|
|Blogs Per Team||1.75||1.08||1||1.25||2||1.17||1.63|
|Last Year's Share||24%||13%||9%||15%||22%||11%||7%|
|Share Of Total||20%||12%||8%||14%||21%||13%||12%|
|Ideal Share Of Total||16%||16%||13%||16%||14%||16%||10%|
The Big Ten and SEC remain over-represented, but less so than last year thanks to an influx of Big East and mid-major voters. Overall, the poll is 22% more balanced this year.
Teams without representation in the major conferences:
- SEC: Vanderbilt
- ACC: Duke, NC State, Wake Forest, Maryland
- Pac 10: Washington, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona
- Big 10: none
- Big 12: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State
- Big East: Cincinnati
Update 8/4: Linked to articles on MI RB commit Austin White, OH CB Terrence Talbott, FL OL Torrian Wilson, MI QB commit Devin Gardner (second), PA DT Sharrif Floyd, MI P Mike Sadler, OH S LaTwan Anderson, VA LB Aramidie Olaniyan, LA QB Munchie Legaux, MD LB Josh Furman.
Added CA CB Joshua Shaw.
Removed OH DE Marcus Rush (MSU), IL S Corey Cooper, MI P Mike Sadler (MSU).
Local content on OH DT Terry Talbott.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Slow-ish week.
Not many guys off the board this week. I excised IL S Corey Cooper, an Illinois commit who had expressed a desire to visit other schools possibly including Michigan at one point, because his commitment now appears firm. A couple of kids went off the board to MSU:
- OH DE Marcus Rush, who saw his position fill up when Paskorz and Wilkins committed. Last week I suggested that Rush's aborted trip to Ann Arbor would see M and Rush part ways; that happened fast and revenge-y, didn't it?
- MI P Mike Sadler got sick of waiting to see if Michigan would offer and committed to State. I hope Michigan knows what it's doing with WI P Will Hagerup, who appears to be choosing between M and OSU after a couple of on-campus visits coming in the next month. If Hagerup decides on EVIL, Michigan will be in the lurch at punter unless they successfully crawl back to Sadler or find someone else.
Weekly Semi-Creepy Devin Gardner Update
Nope, not this week either, as the Elite 11 reports continued to roll in. Scout's Scott Kennedy says he's "not as smooth in his release" and not quite as polished as some of the pocket guys—not surprise—but then gets into the serious praise:
"There were certain times when he might take a little bit longer to make a release and other times when he was getting the ball out a little faster, but he was still making all the throws. That is always the big question with the (quarterbacks) that are athletes. I've seen guys that are athletes that can't hit a 12-yard out route. If you can't make that pass, you can't play quarterback at the next level. (Gardner) can make that pass relatively easy. He has plenty of velocity on it.
"I went back and watched his (highlight) video, which I hadn't watched since March, and he is a different player. I told Devin that at the end of camp. I said, 'Devin, I watched some video and you're not the same guy.' If he was that same guy as a sophomore in college, he's playing receiver, tight end or somewhere else. That guy couldn't make the throws that I was watching Devin Gardner make with how he has progressed in almost a full year since he played last fall."
Allen Trieu echoes that assessment in the same article:
Gardner (stock up): "Gardner has gone from athlete to quarterback. Before, I always felt he got by on his raw tools and playmaking skills. Now, he has refined himself from a quarterback standpoint. He has improved his mechanics, accuracy and arm strength. There is still work to be done, but he is night and day if you compare his passes to this time last year.
Meanwhile at Rivals, we already knew Barry Every named Gardner the best QB at the Elite 11 and here's further confirmation of that:
"The comparisons to Vince Young and Terrelle Pyror are legit. He throws the ball better than them at the same stage. Camp instructor Matt James told me the three dual-threat quarterbacks at the event, Garnder, Bolden and Barry Brunetti, are the best three they have ever had at the Elite 11."
Bolden finished third in Every's Elite 11 rankings, while Boisture came in 12th (there were 12 participants at the camp). But Gardner is truly is the driver's seat now. If there is one thing in this debate that analysts and fans agree on, it is Gardner's superiority in games. The Michigan commit could separate himself from the other two even more this fall.
Also, Jamie Newberg said Gardner would "likely" be the #1 dual threat quarterback when the post-Elite 11 rankings came out while tackling Michigan in a mailbag question. He'll fly into the Rivals top 100; it's just a question of how high he ends up.
Michigan's lead for FL CB Rashad Knight has always been tentative since a Florida State offer is universally regarded a recruitment-ending event for Knight. But that didn't seem like it would come as FSU picked up a couple of DB commits and looked good for a couple of highly-touted folk. This complicates matters:
Pahokee CB Merrill Noel has switched his commitment from the good guys to go to Wake Forest. This should absolutely not come as a surprise to anyone, because he was going to commit to Wake Forest in the first place.
That blog post still lists Knight as a third option behind uncommitted prospects LaMarcus Joyner and Terrance Mitchell, FWIW, but you should be hoping those two guys commit to FSU.
Also in the erk category is FL OL Torrian Wilson. The last three or four times Wilson deigned to name a leader it was Michigan, so I'm not sure what to make of this SoFlaFootball article:
On the recruiting front Wilson is still not saying much other than listing what is an ever changing top five of Standford, Miami, LSU, Alabama, and Georgia. Wilson also denies the fact he is a silent commitment to the hometown Hurricanes, but a decision should be coming in the coming months.
Wha? Michigan goes from leader to not in a top five, and after Wilson spent like three weeks in Michigan this summer? I'm half-skeptical, half-depressed. Sometimes these things get corrected on follow-up articles; we'll see.
Recent Visits Go Well
Terry Talbott has 17 scholarship offers including Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, UCLA, Cincinnati, North Carolina State, Connecticut and Kentucky. Terrence has offers from some of the same schools.
"We definitely want to go to the same school," Terrence Talbott said.
Terry's offer list there is pretty nice. Given that and Michigan's severe need at DT I'd be in favor of both jumping aboard. Tom VanHaaren caught up with Talbott, Defensive Lineman Edition, for an interview last week, though Talbott kept things close to the vest.
Also, PA S Brandon Ifill made his end-of-July visit as scheduled and came back from it sounding like he had a leader. Tom VanHaaren on this here site:
"It wasn't the same, but it was the same excitement being around a college atmosphere. I mean, it's the University of Michigan. The tradition there is so much greater than any other school. (laughs) The Big House, there's no comparison to any other school, or stadium. That was the icing on the cake. Walking down that tunnel; I got chills. I wanted to put my pads on right there. Walking on that grass, there's been so many great players to play on that field."
Despite that promising quote and some others in Tom's diary, Ifill did not say the magic words about a lead or a commitment. He still claims to be relatively open and not in a hurry to commit any time soon. With PA CB and teammate Cullen Christian this year's version of Will Campbell—just commit, plz kthx—Ifill's likely to have another reason to jump aboard before signing day. Personal speculation: Michigan leads.
More Scouting Type Things
Duane Long, who's been in the Ohio recruiting game a long time, says Michigan's class is third in the Big Ten at the moment—fair enough—and has some encouraging words for some of Michigan's more obscure Ohio commits. He's also got some really out-there assessments. I'll skip the stuff on Gardner "not sold on [him] as a passer" because it appears based on junior film, compares Gardner to Pryor's senior film, and contradicts the widespread praise recruiting analysts have heaped on him since the Elite 11. It's expired analysis. The other bits:
I really like D.J. Williamson but I don't know if he is a Michigan player right now. He might be after this season but right now he is not. That could be an offer that makes it worthwhile to secure a foothold in Ohio with a program that has put a few players in maize and blue. Christian Pace is another player I would put in that category.
Fair enough on Williamson. He's been a mystery recruit for a while and didn't have much in the way of other offers. He does have Ohio state champ 100m speed, but that's about all we know about him. No sale on Christian Pace, though, who both Michigan and Florida State (home of former Rodriguez OL coach Rick Trickett) pursued heavily. He might not be a fit for every offense; he does fit in Michigan's.
On the other hand I think Antonio Kinard could be a steal. He is a big athletic kid who can run. I think it more likely he makes his mark as a DE than an LB. He is highly likely to get a good deal bigger. Courtney Avery is a steal. Flat out. No could be in there for him. Ken Wilkins is not the most athletic kid but he has really good straight line speed, strong and has a great body. He is a really good looking strong side DE prospect. Ricardo Miller and Jerald Robinson are big time athletes. Rivals has a four-star on both and it is well earned.
These are positive assessments and therefore I have no problem with them. But seriously folks: it'll be interesting to track Kinard and Avery's senior seasons to see if there's any correspondence between Long's assessments and the major sites' reality.
Yes Plz Linebacker Yes
Other than defensive tackle, linebacker is the spot at which Michigan's current class and future prospects are most likely to yield a disappointing final haul. So MD LB Josh Furman, who's tested off the charts at a series of combines but has yet to translate that athleticism to the field or his recruiting rankings, planning an official visit is important news. Virginia Tech and Maryland are two of Furman's other visits, with UCLA also in the running.
Michigan is extremely strong for Josh Furman. … Tony Dews has done a great job. They can't put it into words how good a job Michigan has done recruiting him. I think it's one to keep an eye on.
Furman's a safety/weakside linebacker prospect.
Anderson Of Debatable Relevance
OH S LaTwan Anderson has much confidence and is surprisingly forthright about his size:
“I’m probably going to end up playing it [corner] anyway. They always say that I’m 5′10″ or 5′11″ but I’m actually 5′8 3/4″ and I don’t think I am getting any bigger. A lot of coaches have seen me cover and I think I can just take a wide receiver out of a game which I think I can also.”
Michigan needs to get him on a serious visit; West Virginia is the heavy favorite. Though if Bill Stewart implodes and the job security looks shaky, you never know.
Nothing To See Here
Helmholdt put out kind of a weird article about how TX RB Tony Drake and OH LB Antonio Kinard, two of the least-touted recruits in the class, aren't thinking about bolting. Kinard:
“I still feel good about my commitment. Things have not changed at all and I cannot wait to go to Michigan,” Kinard said on Sunday. “I’m 100% to Michigan… forget those other schools.”
…which yay I guess. Sort of a "dog does not bite man" article. One small note of interest: Kinard says he's being recruited as a deathbacker like Paskorz and Wilkins, which would be a lot of dudes for one spot. More ammunition for this blog's theory that Wilkins is headed for strongside defensive end.
You are on the board for a reason, Olaniyan
Duke commit linebacker Aramide Olaniyan (Woodberry Forest, Va.) said he is still firm with the Blue Devils, but plans to visit Michigan and UCLA. "I like both coaching staffs a lot," he said.
Olaniyan camped at Notre Dame, too. He's as solid as Michigan's offensive line last year. For more check out today's interview with Olaniyan.
Etc.: LA QB Munchie Legaux is down to three: Oregon, Baylor, and Michigan. What a confusing list. Michigan's presence is probably window-dressing with Jones and Gardner in the fold. PA DT Sharrif Floyd has set two officials to Penn State and Boston College. He says he'll only take one more, leaving Michigan fighting… oh… the planet for that last slot. Floyd's never seemed particularly likely, and he still doesn't.
I recently spoke with VA LB Aramide Olaniyan about the importance of academics in his college choice and his recent decision to take visits to other schools. Aramide is a linebacker prospect currently committed to Duke, which is obviously one of the better academic programs in the country.
Olaniyan's current high school had a lot to do with his emphasis on academics. “I go to a private boarding school right now, and I usually have about 3 hours of homework every night,” he said. “I could’ve gone to a public school, but I really like challenging myself every day, and thought this was one of the best schools in the area.”
If you talked to 100 recruits, 90 of them would say that academics are important. Not many would really mean it. Olaniyan is one who means it. “I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, so I’ll probably major in political science,” he said.
When asked if he loved football or academics more, he said, “That’s a tough question. I don’t think there’s a single person playing college football that doesn’t want to make it to the NFL. I would say they’re about the same for me. I love both of them equally. If the NFL doesn’t work out, then I would love to have a great degree.”
If Michigan's strong program in political science isn't enough of a draw, then Michigan's new emphasis on hybrid players might help. Olaniyan's familiar with the position. “I actually play a hybrid linebacker position right now," he said. "Sometimes I have my hand down, and sometimes I drop back. Michigan is really the only one recruiting me for the hybrid, everyone else is really linebacker. I have talked to coach Dews about it, and we’ve stayed in good contact so far.”
As per usual these days, Michigan's commits are doing their best to recruit Olaniyan too. Austin White struck up a friendship with Olaniyan at the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 in Orlando. “We hung out a lot down in Florida," said Olaniyan. "Every time there was some down time, we were hanging out together, he’s a cool guy. He was telling me about Michigan, and how great it is, he was definitely recruiting me. I got his number, and we’ve stayed in touch.”
Olaniyan says he's still firmly committed to Duke despite his desire to visit other schools. “I just want to be in a situation where I know I made the right choice," he said. "I want to visit all the schools that I like, and weigh my options; just make sure I made the right choice. I don’t want to end up with any regrets, and I just want to know that I made the best decision.” The Blue Devil coaches know that he’s taking his visits and are confident that he’ll stay committed to their program.
Olaniyan plans to visit with Duke, Michigan, UCLA, and North Carolina. UCLA’s visit has already been scheduled for their game against ASU on November 21st. He’s not sure of the exact date that he will be visiting Michigan, but he knows it will happen.
My last question, to test his commitment, was what he would do if he really enjoyed any of his visit. “Well, I don’t know," he laughed. "If I like them better, then I’ll sit down with my parents, and make sure they feel comfortable. I’ll just take all my visits, and see where I stand, and how I feel about all the schools. We’ll see what happens.”
While Michigan fans can hope that current commits see their stock rise when Scout, Rivals, and ESPN update their rankings, players often stay stable or drop. In this look at Michigan's recruiting class, we'll see which guys have probably reached their maximum guru approval (or close to it).
MI/FL WR Ricardo Miller
|Ranking||WR #24||WR #19|
Why Here? When Michigan fans were told how good Miller was, it sounded like he was a shoe-in for 5-star status. Even the Florida rankings released by some sources prior to the release of Rivals' and Scout's official lists had him in the top 5 prospects in the state. However, when the major sites released their rankings he was a mid-4-star to both.
It's not from lack of exposure. Miller's situation (being a southeast player committed to a non-southeast school before the rankings came out) may have hurt him somewhat. Southeast recruiting analysts are likely to ding a prospect for being an early commit to a school from a different area of the country.
Prediction: Miller has moved to Michigan, so it will be an entire different set of eyeballs looking at him. If he blows up in the state of Michigan, it doesn't hold as much weight as if he had done so in Florida. Miller's move to Michigan probably helped him in terms of getting acquainted with the area, recruiting other prospects, and getting ready to enroll at the University. But it put something of a cap on his rankings. Miller will probably remain a 4-star.
FL S Marvin Robinson
|Ranking||OLB #11||S #10|
Why Here? Robinson has a lot in common with Ricardo Miller. Michigan fans have been hearing for years about how he would be a Locky McLockerson for both Michigan and 5-star status. He impressed at Michigan's summer camp as a rising sophomore, and ever since we've been hearing about how awesome he is. Eventually, the 2010 rankings came out... and Robinson was a medium-range 4-star. The only plausible explanation, given his apparent exposure, is that he just isn't quite as elite as we'd been hearing. If he isn't highly ranked by now, it's probably just not in the cards.
Prediction: He's listed at either OLB or safety, so if the premium sites can come to a consensus on his future position, it might help them figure out where he should be ranked. If he gets bigger, he could be an elite OLB prospect, but he has limited upside in the rankings at safety. Michigan has a perfect role for Robinson, either as a safety if he can keep his speed, a linebacker if he adds a bunch of weight, or as a hybrid if his physical development is complete. He doesn't have the speed that an elite safety his size would have (i.e. Taylor Mays). I think he'll top out near the higher range of 4-stars.
PA DE/LB Ken Wilkins
|Ranking||WDE #17||DE #31|
Why Here? Wilkins is much like Paskorz: a tweener that scouting services don't love. He's athletic and the services recognize at least that, giving him a 4-star ranking. His exposure should be pretty good at his school (trinity has produced a number of D-1 players over the years), so he is probably ranked where the services want him.
Prediction As a tweener, it's going to be tough for him to move up, despite the fact that his coach says he's more athletic than all of the D-1 prospects who have come through Trinity. Unless collects absurd statistics as a senior, Wilkins will probably stay right where he is: a low 4-star. The Quick DE position on Michigan's defense may be a more natural fit than conventional DE or LB spots. That should be encouraging to Michigan fans.
MI RB Austin White
|Ranking||APB #15||RB #17|
Why Here? White has torn through Michigan in the past couple years, but high school football in the state being what it is the competition has not been the best. Looking at Stevenson's results over the past couple years, it's not clear whether White's stats (which are very good) are a product of his team obliterating the competition or his exceptional talent.
Room to Grow? Literally, yes: White's a small guy who could use some time in the weight room. But he's also an established star at his school who's gotten a ton of combine exposure; there's no much secret about him.
Prediction: A good senior season can only do so much for White since he's smallish and proven. He may get looks at a RB/slot hybrid, and Rivals lists him as an all-purpose back, so showing off his receiving ability could give him a bump. But White actually moved down in the Rivals re-rank; not many do that and then bounce back up.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
|Ranking||WDE #36||DE #59|
Why Here? Paskorz is something of a man without a position. Half lineman, half linebacker, he doesn't fit into lots of schools' lists of needed prospects. Still, Paskorz has some physical talent, enough that the recruiting services know about him. The bigger question is whether he performs on the field for his school.
Prediction Especially if he grows enough to become a true defensive end, and puts together a productive senior year, he can move up somewhat. The sites have pretty different opinions of him, so he's might move one way or the other. Scouting services will never really be enamored with players that don't have obvious NFL potential. Unless he gets more athletic or bigger in an obvious way during his senior year, he's stuck where he is.
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
|Ranking||RB #80||RB #57|
Why Here? Hopkins has been solid, but not great, against high-level Texas competition. He has led his team to successful playoff runs in the past couple years. However, he lacks that one attribute that really sets him apart. He runs tough, but doesn't truck the hell out of guys. He'll get to the second level, but not outrun everyone in the secondary. He'll put a move on you, but won't make most defenders go looking for their jockstraps.
Prediction: Since he plays good competition in Texas, if Hopkins has a big season of any sort he could move him up. But he has the exposure and body of work that comes with being a two-year-starter at a big Texas program and hasn't gotten more three stars from the recruiting sites. He might move up a little bit if he's able to put in the offseason work to increase his speed or toughness, but I'd be surprised if he gets to a fourth star. He should end up a high(er) 3-star, not far from his current ranking. Note that Hopkins disagrees with this assessment, stating he's been told a big year will get him a fourth star.
OH OL Christian Pace
|Ranking||OC #7||OG #36|
Why Here? Pace's film is impressive. He is an aggressive blocker who will drive defenders into the ground. However, he is limited from being ranked any more highly by his height. At only 6-3—which may be exaggerated—he does not have ideal size for a guard, nor does he excel in pass protection. Pace's team success may not have much bearing on his ranking, so even if they improve from last year's finish, he won't reap much benefit. He will probably not grow. That will always limit him in the eyes of the recruiting services, regardless of how impressive his film is.
Prediction Even though Rivals scouts drooled over his junior film, they actually moved him down in their recent re-rank. If Pace has a dominant year blocking (and his Scouting Ohio film certainly indicates that he's capable of that), he could move up to low 4-star status, but he had a dominant junior year and didn't go anywhere.
Pace seems a lot like current Michigan center David Molk, who is a short but effective center. In the Michigan system, slightly smaller but more athletic interior linemen can still have success (again, see Molk).
LA Slot Drew Dileo
|Ranking||ATH #58||WR #27|
Why Here? Dileo has been productive in his high school career, but perhaps his ranking is held down by a few factors: 1) His team is routinely a behemoth in its small-division Louisiana competition, so it's tough to gauge individual talents at times. 2) He is a 5-10 wide receiver. 3) He is a white wide receiver. None of these factors are likely to change this year, so look out. He has limited upward potential - but as with lots of little guys, that might not mean detrimental things about his career at Michigan.
Prediction Like I said, if the scouts don't already know about Dileo, it’s not because he hasn’t been exposed. He is likely stuck in neutral as far as his rankings go. The situation from last year won't change, and barring an absolutely transcendent performance (which doesn't seem likely), he'll stay where he is. Worse still, other players might be able to move up and pass him down the road, dropping his ranking even further than its current level.