At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Evidently, Michigan has received a commitment from Indiana offensive lineman Kurt Wermers. (I say "evidently" because Tom Lemming is apparently the source of the information and he has been wrong in the past.) The reader is invited to speculate on how much freely available info there is on moderately to not particularly hyped guards from Indiana. Yep.
We'll try to ballpark his potential anyway. As of now he has twelve offers, Michigan being the most impressive. UCLA, Purdue, and Iowa had also extended offers and Notre Dame was rumored to be looking at him "heavily," whatever that means, but hadn't followed suit. (There was one article that asserted a written offer from Notre Dame, but I think that was erroneous.) He's currently ranked #47 on Scout's Midwest Top 100, just ahead of RoJo brother Corey Johnson, tiny OH RB Darius Ashley (who might have a Michigan offer and does have a Tennessee offer), and PSL OLB Nick Perry (likely underrated)... that's probably on the 3/4 borderline. Rivals hasn't rated him in their initial Hot 250 or whatever it's called, so he's probably a 3 to them. ESPN hasn't gotten around to him. It's highly likely he ends up in the anonymous mass of three star recruits when all is said and done.
Upshot: nothing to scream in the streets about either way. Michigan needs linemen in quantity and picked up a guard. This is good. You'd like his offers and guru ratings to be a little higher -- this appears to be the second guy we've picked up who was waiting on an offer from either ND or OSU that didn't appear forthcoming -- but that's life. Michigan must have liked him quite a bit since they offered him two months ago; hopefully they're right.
The only other thing that's turned up was this article from nwi.com:
Imagine a phone ringing. It's Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr. Or Notre Dame's Charlie Weis. Or UCLA's Karl Dorrell. Or Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. Or Indiana's Terry Hoeppner. Or Purdue's Joe Tiller.
And every one of these big-time gridiron gods would get the same message.
One of these things is not like the others, yesno? Indiana football is at least four to six times bigger than Wayne Bennett in Brisbane!
There's not much else of note in there except a reference to Wermer's participation in an a capella group, which probably had a major influence on his decision if the horrible, locust-like proliferation of chipper instrument-free musical troupes on campus hasn't been violently stomped out in the years since I ceased attending class. And God help us all if it hasn't. Those suckers were nearing critical mass years ago.
So, yeah, there isn't much from the recruiting sites on Cronin but I did turn up some local newspaper items of note. First... guess which player in this photo is the Michigan recruit:
This appears to be the most effusive praise available for our new center:
Start with the Mayor's Cup - or at least that was the official title of the tournament. More accurately, it was the Ben Cronin Show, also starring some other Henninger players quite happy to gain city supremacy.
Cronin has been bent on domination ever since Proctor made him disappear on Dec. 19. A solid game against CNS three days later was followed by this Mayor's Cup display at LeMoyne College, where he pulled off back-to-back triple doubles against Fowler and Corcoran.
The final, in particular, had its own share of pathos. As you all know, Henninger and Corcoran were supposed to meet in the Section III football playoffs on Oct. 15 - before the forfeits, before Auburn showed up, and you know the rest.
From the early moments, when Cronin swatted an Elton Frazier shot, the 7-foor junior ruled the night. He had 18 points, 16 rebounds and 12 blocks, and four of his teammates reached double figures in scoring, too, most notably Mike Johnson, whose six free throws late sealed the 61-55 win.
Henninger is 8-1, and you can argue that Cronin is the central figure in the Class AA playoff race. With his size and growing strength, if he does this kind of paint job every night, the Black Knights can take the banner.
Evidently, the banner is a state championship thing. Henninger did not acquire said banner this year, falling to Proctor in the final. A month later, Cronin's team lost and drew some criticism from the same source:
Apparently, one headline-grabbing upset over a state top 10 team was not enough. F-M wanted more, and got it by imposing its collective will on Henninger - especially on the defensive side, where Ben Cronin vanished. ... Granted, Cronin's two early fouls hurt, but a great player should overcome those things. Henninger could not establish itself in the paint, and the Hornets took full advantage.
There was also a monster game against Fairport -- which sounds like it has a killer sailing team -- with 21 points and 19 rebounds.
All this means little given the context provided by the above photo. Cronin tall, others short, do good. Yay. But there were a couple encouraging comments yesterday from the proprietor of the aforementioned OrangeFan Syracuse blog:
Cronin is a good get for you guys. He's actually a very good athlete, but only picked up basketball relatively late - he was a hockey player until he grew so tall. That hockey athleticism and experience should suit him well once he grows into his body. Syracuse already has 4 centers on the roster, and Boeheim still wanted this kid. Congrats.
(Waggish commenters immediately asked if he had been a goalie.) I think I've already expressed my opinion on this kid, but to re-iterate: these are the guys Beilein has won with elsewhere and given his late entry into the world of recruiting Michigan (at least for the '08 class), he's probably not going to upgrade his recruiting in terms of stars until '09. So I'm much happier with this particular commit than Amaker snagging Coleman or Jerrett Smith, because Beilein's already proven he can work with this type of player and he isn't in his third year on the job.
The instate crop for '08 is very bad anyway, especially with Anthony Crater already committed to OSU. The only other guy who appears to be on the radar of Michigan or MSU is SF/PF Draymond Green, the one-time Kentucky commit who opened it back up when Tubby went away. There have been some breathless headlines re: Green of late on GBW, so maybe he's making headway there.
Update: Whoops! Forgot the local newspaper article on the commit:
"I feel it's the perfect fit for me," Cronin said. "It's a great academic school and I love coach Beilein. I'm sure he'll develop me as a player to get to the best of my potential. He develops his players and gets them to shoot it. I think he's going to make me a much better offensive player than I am right now." ...
[Henninger coach Erik] Saroney said he could see Cronin excelling in Beilein's system.
"I think he fits perfectly in that system," Saroney said, "and I say that despite the fact that we didn't use him like that last year, but college basketball and high school basketball are two different beasts."
Aussie Aussie Aussie! I think the most momentous thing that happened when I was gone was this bizarre thing you've probably already seen:
GAZING up at a huge locker-room poster of John Sattler, Lloyd Carr shakes his head as he's told the story of a 1972 grand final so fierce the bloody Souths captain was chaired off with a ripped Rabbitohs badge and a broken jaw.
You are probably wondering what the hell language this is. Well, it's Australian. Now you are probably wondering what the hell Lloyd Carr is doing in Australia. Well:
But this week Carr has done just that [envision the pad-free violence of Aussie Rules], after spending seven days with Souths at the invitation of co-owner Russell Crowe.
And now you're probably just wondering "what the hell?"
The man who brought you "Fightin' Round The World"...
... and Lloyd Carr are so happy together, Turtles style. No doubt this stems from Carr's deployment of Cinderella Man as a motivational tactic last year but... still. Weird.
And when even I have to get a small chuckle out of their gushing description of Carr...
Most Australians have probably never heard of Lloyd Carr. Not unless you are a fan of American college football.
There, in the wildly popular arena of US college sports, Carr is nothing short of a living legend.
As head coach of the University of Michigan Wolverines since 1995, Carr is the "winningest" college football coach in the States and as big a name as they come.
Think Wayne Bennett in Brisbane. Then multiply by 20.
...certain other fanbases must have fallen out of their chairs. We're bigger than Wayne Bennett in Brisbane, bitches!
The Ann Arbor News has a take, as well.
Masbach. A little while ago this space had a brief blurb on the strange existence of former Michigan quarterback Scott Driesbach, who is now 30 and playing QB and LB(!) for Columbus in the Arena League. Now the Dispatch has an (unnecessarily hectoring at times) article on the star-crossed Michigan alum.
Also, the Boston Globe has an article on another player struck down by Mildly Peeved Dispenser of Extreme Fates to Michigan Quarterbacks God: Matt Gutierrez, now in possession of a two-year, 655k contract from the Patroits. Inevitable Tom Brady comparisons... go!
Recruiting aside: I removed PA LB Andrew Sweat from the board when he dropped Michigan out of his top five. It turns out we're not quite dead:
"I really like Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame. And also Penn State and maybe LSU or Florida."
But we pretty much are:
Sweat went on to say that when he narrows the schools down to three, Ohio State will be a finalist, "Ohio State will be one of them. Ohio State and Notre Dame are one and two-equal right now. Then most likely I'll pick either Michigan or Penn State." From our sources, it will surprising if Jim Tressel and Ohio State don't land Sweat.
I'm not putting him back on the board, but be advised. Also of note from that post is this unsubstantiated nugget on totally shirtless PA LB Shayne Hale:
The other top linebacker prospect in the WPIAL is Shayne Hale from Gateway. PSI believes that he's a Michigan lean right now.
Hale hasn't given any indication he's leaning either way strongly elsewhere and I have no idea how much credence to give this blog, so take that FWIW.
Co-sign. Neal Pollack eviscerates ABC's NBA coverage and God almighty I agree. Everything from the consistently foo-foo theme music, which has gone from the Black Eyed Peas, Robb Thomas, Tom Petty, Pussycat Dolls -- can you find another collection of four "bands" in which the Black Eyed Peas are clearly in possession of the most street cred? -- to the awful announcing tandems to the standard ESPN-ization of the studio guys (before game five of Pistons-Bulls, Jon Barry, a man who is not SAS, said that Utah had "no chance" to take a 3-1 lead against Golden State and repeated it again with all the terrified conviction of a man reading a prepared statement provided by an Iranian mullah; you could almost see the black-hooded producer standing off camera and holding a gun to his child's head, Jack Bauer-style) to the infuriating -- INFURIATING -- tracking camera that makes it impossible to see a third of the floor, professional basketball on ABC is the worst production in all of sports. There is nothing positive about it. It actively detracts from the game in a way that single-camera indoor soccer or minor league hockey produced by Comcast Local do not have the resources to match. Whereas I'll watch just about any playoff game on TNT, unless the Pistons are involved anything on ABC is out of the question.
The camera is what really gets to me. I've spent 20 years watching basketball from the center court camera and I have never, ever thought "boy, I wish this camera was mounted on some sort of trolley and placed too close to the floor for anyone to see what was going on in the opposite corner." Everyone hates this thing. I do. Neal Pollack does. Bill Simmons (and Eric from Michigan) do:
â€¢ From Eric in Michigan: "Why did the NBA hire the director of 'The Blair Witch Project' to shoot the playoffs? It's nauseating to have the camera in constant motion."
Couldn't agree more. Trying to follow the action in Saturday's Spurs-Suns game made me feel like I had just dropped peyote with Tony Soprano. Did I miss the meeting where everyone decided, "Hey, the midcourt camera for NBA games just isn't cutting it anymore, our fans like it and they're used to it ... instead, let's use a really weird camera angle that makes them sick!"
Lord knows Salon sports guy King Kaufman has railed against it from the start. And as far as I know, no one has ever expressed any thing other than hate for the thing, real impassioned violent hate. I know whoever directs these things would like to be Roman Polanski or whatever, but know your role and show us the damn game. Practice your Coen Brothers shots on your own time.
2008 Syracuse-area center Ben Cronin is deciding tomorrow between Michigan, Syracuse, and... Buffalo(!):
I just spoke with Henninger High School coach Erik Saroney, who told me that 7-foot junior Ben Cronin will announce his college choice on Wednesday. ... Last year, he averaged 12 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks per game for the Black Knights.
Eight blocks? These are the things that are possible when you are seven feet tall and playing in upstate New York. OrangeFan iterates...
Seven-foot Henniger center Ben Cronin, off a visit to Michigan, reports holding an offer from Syracuse. Cronin is Class of 2008, and there is not a space available unless and until Southerland reclassifies to the class of 2009. I don't think it will matter in the end, though, as I suspect Cronin is going to Michigan. John Bielein has been on him hard at both West Virginia and now Michigan, and I think he is in the lead.
Mike Waters posts on his blog that Ben Cronin will make his announcement tomorrow. I'm betting it will be Michigan.
So that's good if it comes off and, given the alternatives are a Syracuse program that was hesitant to offer and Buffalo, it seems likely.
Update: Syracuse.com reports:
A source with knowledge of the decision told the Post-Standard today that Cronin will pick Michigan, choosing the Wolverines over Syracuse and Buffalo. Cronin visited the Michigan campus last week.
What can we expect from Cronin? The circumstantial evidence -- Beilein's been recruiting him for over a year -- conjures up the image of Jamie Smalligan for anyone who took in a WVU game this year. This is not the hypothetical new generation of recruits that Beilein has access to at Michigan that he didn't at West Virginia; he's not in the Rivals 150. The bad bit of Beilein having recruited this kid for a long time.
The good bit: Cronin should be a fit for the system. He's tll, a skilled passer, an improving shooter working on his three point range, a hard worker, unselfish, and... uh... plodding. Given that Beilein's working from behind the eight ball with much of the class of 2008, many of whom are already committed, it's a good pickup for a team that needs some post depth. Some may be concerned about Cronin's low profile, but I don't think Beilein's recruiting is going to pick up until the conference and the state get to see Michigan in action. Cronin should find himself somewhere in the range between contributor and starter after a couple years.
Update 5/14: Consistent and repeated pessimism at BP re: OH TE Kevin Koger has caused me to bump him up to blue. (There is also a poster who has to be a high school classmate of IL OL/DT Garrett Goebel ranting about woo OSU in that recruitment; don't know how seriously to take it.) Also downgraded PA OL Lucas Nix to red; seems the Pitt lean is for real. Moved Christian Wilson from LB to RB; he's been offered as a FB/H-back. Linked to articles on OH OL Zebrie Sanders, IL OL Graham Pocic, KS LB Arthur Brown, AZ OL Zach Schlink, GA DT Omar Hunter. Added AR WR Joe Adams.
Much rejiggering of DTs, much of it based on one of those GBW summary articles: MI DT Mike Martin has an offer and is widely presumed to be a lock; he's upgraded to blue. NV DT Lawrence Guy now has an offer and has Michigan in his top three; green. MS DT Cameron Wagner is downgraded to gray with the new offers out. KY DT Brandon Newman goes down to red; there has been much talk of him and Notre Dame.
Linked to articles on AZ RB Covaughn Deboskie (visit coming up), NJ S Will Hill (he speaks!), another on IL OL Graham Pocic, PA WR Jonathan Baldwin (amongst other PA recruits). Also here is another combine article. Removed OH LB Mike Zordich.
Linked to Jim Stefani's early Michigan top 25.
Editorial Opinion: Dios mio, man. There is much to get to.
Combines. Various scouting combines happened over the weekend, including a NIKE camp at Penn State. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an article of interest on the camp. Items follow.
PA WR recruit Jonathan Baldwin may be a five star, which is much higher than I thought he'd be rated:
Aliquippa tight end Jonathan Baldwin, Jeannette quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Hale, all considered five-star recruits, according to Rivals.com, did not attend. ... "This is a rare year in Western Pa.," Farrell said. "The (top players) obviously are out there, then it's completely loaded. Arguably, you have the top quarterback (Pryor) in the country. Arguably you have the top linebacker in the country in Hale and, arguably, the top tight end in the country in Baldwin. From one area, it's really rare."
(Though the article and Farrell continually refer to Baldwin as a tight end, Michigan is recruiting him at wide receiver.)
Return specialist Cameron Saddler is going to try to drag the aforementioned Hale along wherever he goes:
Gateway running back Cameron Saddler had a busy offseason, after picking up 12 offers and looking for more. The speedy Saddler, who said he and Hale are a guaranteed package deal, worked out with the wide receivers because he is being recruited as a receiver/return specialist.
Saddler, who was one of eight Gateway players to showcase their skills for college coaches from around the country, said he's not affected by the attention.
"No, no, no, pressure don't do nothing but bust pipes," Saddler said. "There's no need to stress over pressure because it isn't going to do anything. It's about how you perform when you step on the field."
Those never work out, but it can't hurt that Michigan has offers out to both and a pretty glaring need at kick returner.
Defensive tackles. Though the position doesn't seem like a huge priority going into the year, Michigan didn't pick up any last year and will probably be looking for a couple. A good bet to be one of them is instater Mike Martin, who just received an offer. Short, fast, and immensely powerful, Martin seems like a replica of Terrance Taylor, albeit one who will end up less highly ranked when things are all said and done. Also, Michigan has an offer out to Nevadan Lawrence Guy and features in his top three. GA DT Omar Hunter broke his leg, unfortunately, and may see his senior year threatened.
"The best football is played in the South, and I want to check it out,'' Pocic said. ''I've heard the mentality of the fans in the SEC is different from the Big Ten and other conferences. I want to see for myself.''
In another article he drops this quote:
"I grew up watching Notre Dame," he said. "I loved watching them on TV because they were always on and they have great tradition. But just because they are a school that I used to watch doesn't mean that I'm going to go there. That's not going to affect my decision at all."
The Michigan positives:
Pocic's former teammate, (offensive center) Dave Molk, signed with Michigan in February. "He's going there and is really excited about them," he said. "I love their o-line tradition and the Big House is one of the biggest stadiums in the Big Ten."
Color me skeptical when a player we're recruiting says Michigan Stadium is "one of" the largest stadiums in the freakin' conference. Pocic gets a Nefarious Eduardo.
Will Hill is, according to some, the top prospect in the country and he's been extremely hard for recruiting sites to get ahold of. The local newspaper managed to track him down after a meeting with Reggie Bush. (Note for NCAA violation spelunkers:
"He didn't talk to me about USC," Hill said. "He just told me to go to the place that I feel the best. He wasn't going to sell me and I respected that."
) The article gives the first indication that the internet rumors of genuine Michigan interest are legit:
"I have to see if I like the school," Hill said. "I have to talk to other players at the school."
While Florida and Michigan remain high on Hill's list, he is also fielding offers from Florida State, USC, Notre Dame, Miami and Virginia, where former teammates Mike Brown (the 2005 Hudson Reporter Male Athlete of the Year) and
Rashawn Jackson are.
"It would be great to play with those two guys again and I have a lot of relatives in Virginia," Hill said.
That's vague but likely to be all we'll get for a bit on Hill.
Deboskie! Personal interest in getting this Deboskie kid is rising given the schools in hot pursuit, his combine performances, and his kickass name. There's another copious Scout article on him that has a bunch of rehashed material. Of note to Michigan fans is an upcoming visit for him:
"I am going to Stanford for their junior day on Saturday," said Covaughn. "I am going to Michigan in June. In July my father and I are going to fly to Georgia Tech. From there we are going to visit Clemson and South Carolina. After that we are going to Florida for their Friday Night Lights camp."
So there you go. With Deboskie intending to enroll early and get his decision over by summer's end, that list plus UCLA would appear to comprise the list of serious contenders.
In-state rankings. I'm not exactly sure how much credence to lend Jim Stefani's rankings, but they do seem to correspond pretty well to those given out by the big recruiting sites so his Michigan Top 25 is an interesting first look at the instate talent. Relevant section for Michigan fans:
1 Boubacar Cissoko [commit]
2 Dan O'Neill [commit]
3 Jonas Gray
4 Fred Smith
5 Nick Perry
6 Michael Martin
7 Tyler Hoover
8 Corey Johnson
9 Charles Burrell [MSU]
10 Kenny Demens
For those scoring at home, Michigan has commits from the top two, is bizarrely holding off offering #3 but should have a good shot if it decides to send one, and is the presumed leader for the next four, all of whom have offers. Last year's instate fiasco appears to be a one-year aberration.
So I had already crossed a national border before it occurred to me that the explanatory post never got put up. So here it is: I was in Canada enjoying some R&R, cut off from the internets, and thus the posting has not occurred. I'm back in full effect tomorrow. Now if you'll excuse me, there's an internet to catch up on.