Update 7/14: Linked to articles on FL CB Tony Grimes, LA WR Drew Dileo, FL WR Ricardo Miller, PA CB Cullen Christian (and PA S Brandon Ifill), OH OL Christian Pace, MI RB commit Austin White, CT LB Khairi Fortt, MI P Mike Sadler, CA LB Tony Jefferson, IA QB AJ Derby (HT: BHGP), MN OL Seantrel Henderson (second), OH LB Jewone Snow. Moved MI RB Austin White to committed.
Removed FL CB Spencer Boyd (ND), SC CB Detrick Bonner (VT), SC OL Eric Mack (SoCar), MD LB Troy Gloster, UT DT Ricky Hemuili, NJ RB Tony Jones, OH RB Erick Howard, MI WR Baquer Sayed. Also removed the three QBs in the "unoffered prospects" category. Moved CA RB Dietrich Riley to S, FL RB Nickell Robey to CB, PA RB Zach Zwinak to LB.
Editorial Opinion: Mildly busy week highlighted by the commitment of MI RB Austin White, which gives Michigan the top instate QB, RB, and WR in this class. On to the show…
I took the opportunity presented by Austin White's commitment to rearrange the RB board. Anyone with a defensive position got shoved to that side of the ball on the assumption that's where Michigan will recruit them in the future and a couple marginal guys got sliced.
- FL CB Spencer Boyd finally committed to ND, surprising no one.
- A couple of South Carolina guys committed elsewhere.
- MD Troy Gloster is down to West Virginia and Stanford, which is one screwy list if you ask me.
- M did not make UT DT Ricky Heimuli's top ten.
Michigan was a real longshot in Heimuli's recruitment, but not even making a top ten list is harsh. Gloster's a mid-three star linebacker, so none of this is particularly damaging. On to that damage, though…
MN OL Seantrel Henderson's recruitment has undergone an unfortunate twist in the last couple weeks. Last week he tentatively announced four officials, none of which were to Michigan, and said Florida State—still not Michigan—might be the fifth. This week:
Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson told ESPN affiliate Web site GatorCountry.com, "Florida, USC and Ohio State... its going to be one of those three. They play for championships and they put a lot of people in the NFL."
Wha? Okay, it's not final…
"It's not that I've closed the door on anyone. I'm still open but I've got some things that are important to me. It's going to be a tough choice but I'm going to make the right one whatever that is."
…but that's a huge shift from Henderson's previous statements and the widely held epinion that Michigan was a player on his short list and possibly even a tentative leader. Also there is this from MaxPreps:
In fact, one source close to the situation expects it to ultimately come down to OSU and USC, with Minnesota likely having already been ruled out.
Adding confusion to confusion, epinion merchants on M premium sites still say Michigan's a factor. So… yeah. Not dead yet in the same way Henderson wasn't in the bag earlier in the year, but chances haven't exactly gone up over the past couple weeks.
Oh, Right, That
I promised some more Christian Pace scuttlebutt in last week's Tuesday Recruitin' and then forgot all about it. Allow me to make amends. A reader sends this along:
A friend of mine is close to the Avon Lake football program. He's a former MAC football player, his kid is on the team, and he helps out with their off season conditioning program. He is not a cheerleader who is normally wowed by kids, but he confirmed to me last weekend that Pace is the real deal. He mentioned that Florida State was absolutely smitten with him. The FSU coaches actually told Pace that he is better than one or two of their starters today and would start for FSU in the 2009 season (as a 17 year old). That's obviously an over-the-top statement, but FSU clearly saw him as a guy who would play immediately and wanted him badly. I wonder if Rod is expecting Pace to at least be in the two-deep for the 2010 season, and thus encouraging the early enrollment. Otherwise, enrolling early just to be redshirted the next season seems like a form of self-torture. Especially for a recruit who had good coaching/training in HS and is relatively polished.
This jives with what the recruiting-mad Florida State fans at Tomahawk Nation told me: Rick Trickett was crazy about Pace, downright loony, and was really disappointed Michigan got him. Given the close association between Trickett and Rodriguez, that bodes well for his future.
What The… No. I Must Resist.
LA WR commit Drew Dileo comes in for the big fluff in his local paper, and you get one-count-it-one guess as to which current NFL player gets dragged up for comparison. Correct:
“He (Jackson) told us Drew reminds them of Wes Welker,” Simoneaux said.
The rest of the article has fascinating insight into Dileo's recruitment, including this remarkably self-aware statement:
“I know my profile isn’t as great as a lot of other kids’ around the country,” he said. “I know (Michigan) reached out there a little bit to get me. It’s not about proving anybody wrong. I just don’t want people up there to feel like I wasted a scholarship.”
Yipes. Hope he wasn't referring to this space, which attempted to be kind but was blunt in its assessment of Dileo's recruiting profile and the class composition when he joined up ("not terribly enthused"). Here will be a true test of Rodriguez's ability to unearth productive who-dats. They found the guy, they pursued him heavily…
“Of all the coaches that came through,” Parkview assistant David Simoneaux said, “Michigan was the most aggressive. They said they just had to have him.”
…and they got him. I hope it works out.
Unexpected In The Other Direction
Josh Helmholdt follows up on CA LB Tony Jefferson, who told ESPN last week Michigan would be on his list of official visits and USC was out. The article doesn't actually have any quotes, so let's just highlight this:
One reason Michigan likely has made a quick rise on Jefferson’s list is because of his desire to receive a highly respected degree. Jefferson committed to Stanford very early in his junior year, citing the Cardinal’s academic prestige. He eventually reneged on that commitment, but still is looking for a strong academic situation.
So there you go. Jefferson maintains no leaders.
Then there's this (now nearly week-old) article on FL CB Tony Grimes. Money quote:
"Michigan is going to be tough to beat," he said. "It's a great program. The networking is on point at Michigan and the alumni system is amazing. The coaching staff is building something great over there."
Schwing. Grimes isn't highly rated on Rivals but is Scout's #5 corner and the offers agree with Scout: Miami, Alabama, Georgia, and plenty others. Grimes visited earlier in the year and has scheduled a return trip for the Notre Dame game; that's the first official he's set.
And, yes, I am contractually obligated to highlight this quote:
"I was with Vladimir (Emilien)," Grimes said of his time in Ann Arbor. "That's my boy. He told me one difference (at Michigan) is once you get there, you are not just a piece of meat, you are a part of the family. That's something I can believe because he didn't play none of his senior year after he tore his ACL, but they didn't just cut him off. They kept his offer and he committed there. "
At this point I'd love nothing more than to never hear the world "family" in connection with Michigan football, good or bad.
More of the Same
PA CB Cullen Christian favors… yep:
When asked to name his leader, Christian said, "I like Michigan best. I feel I have the biggest bond with their coaches. I feel like it's a family there. Michigan is a great school."
Plz commit ASAP plz. Christian may bring along teammate and PA S Brandon Ifill, who's recently declared a top two of M and Maryland and will visit August 31st. Picking up Christian and Grimes would be a stellar 1-2 punch at corner.
Adios, Guy Whose Name I Just Figured Out
I had CT LB Khairi Fortt's name wrong on the board all this time, which is probably why he's got Michigan at or near the bottom of his top six:
"Penn State and North Carolina would be two visits," Fortt said. "But I have to go back over things. We visited 15 or 16 schools. I have to go back through my notes and pictures. I visited Penn State and North Carolina recently, so those schools are (fresh) in my mind."
Fortt does not see himself taking all five official visits.
"I might make three visits," he said.
Fortt tentatively plans an unofficial to Michigan in the next month, but M is clearly behind at least two schools and is just barely hanging on.
Etc.: I've been ignoring a lot of stuff on FL LB Jeff Luc because he's hardly mentioned Michigan and is expected to stay in state, but Sam Webb's been saying on the radio that he expects Luc will take an official. He also confirms that Khairi Fortt is not likely to end up at M. OH LB Jewone Snow doesn't seem like he'll get an offer. IA QB AJ Derby is still open. Commitment fluff on MI RB Austin White. Some MI WR Jeremy Jackson youtube interviews. Bo Schemblogger catches up with MI WR Ricardo Miller for a quick interview.
Ok, kids: it's that time of year again. If you have a blog that…
- has existed for at least six months,
- posts substantial, original content about college football at least 2 or 3 times a week, and
- is willing to disclose the author's favorite team
…you're welcome to apply for entry to the BlogPoll for 2009. The BlogPoll is a CBS Sports-sponsored college football poll that follows the same format as the AP and Coaches' do, except with way more transparency.
More information on the selection criteria is available, if you want it, and there is also a treatise on desired voter philosophy. If all this seems like fun, email me with your blog URL and (if it's not bleeding obvious) team affiliation, at which point I'll put you on the list. If you've already done this there's no need to do it again; I've got you in the hopper.
The secret cabal of blogpoll assemblers should have decisions in the first week of August; the preseason poll will come out a couple weeks before the season.
Former Michigan offensive lineman Kurt Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer to Ball State last week, sources told ESPN.com.
… But according to sources with knowledge of the situation, Wermers was already out.
His academic struggles would have prevented him from suiting up with the Wolverines. Wermers wasn't even enrolled in summer school at the time of his departure.
Wermers' comments now appear even more self-serving. She didn't break up with me, I broke up with her. And she was a whore anyway. Meet my new girlfriend, who looks like a horse. I mean, really: "I thought I'd get out when I could." Super.
(No offense, Ball State fans, it's just that you're in the MAC and all that. You're a very pretty horse.)
Ugh APR. My concern about Michigan's APR tickling the edges of the 925 cutoff is now increased: you get two points per player per semester, one for keeping them at school and another for keeping them eligible. Michigan got 1/2 for Threet in his final semester; they get 0/2 for Wermers, which makes his departure the equivalent of two guys.
Um, why would Wermers be in summer school? Weird little addendum from Rittenberg there at the end. Wermers left the team months ago and Rodriguez officially announced it in May. Obviously he wasn't enrolled in summer school.
Who is Deep Throat here? I'm sure Wermers' academic status is common knowledge in a certain circle of folks close to the program, any one of whom could be a source credible enough for Rittenberg to go with. I hope none of the coaches were peeved enough to be one of them.
The fortune cookie of articles. Does it seem like this description of Shaun Alexander's recruitment should end with "…in bed"?
Alexander drove through a snowstorm to Michigan, where the school’s recruiting hostesses greeted him in their standard-issued khaki pants and golf shirts.
A week later, Alabama representatives picked him up in a private jet. On the way to Tuscaloosa, the pilot slid over and let Alexander fly. Once on campus he was greeted by a group of sundress-wearing co-eds named the ’Bama Belles. The young lady assigned to Alexander was the reigning Miss Alabama runner-up.
I'm pretty sure I know what that infamous golf shirt outfit looks like (right):
Michigan has since replaced those shapeless… items with something more appealing. Maybe they allow the hostesses to wear something other than cotton garbage bags these days.
Michigan would get the last laugh when Ryan Pfluger shanked an extra point in the first overtime of the 2000 Orange Bowl, and in 2004 the NCAA would significantly restrict the ability of schools like Alabama to fete their recruits Paris Hilton-style.
Show me your jets. There's been a lot of scuttlebutt about how Michael Shaw's injuries saw his abilities decrease in his intermittently-impressive freshman year, but I believe this is the first confirmation of such a thing from the man himself:
"I remember the Minnesota game, and nine times out of 10 that's a touchdown," Shaw said, referring to his 48-yard run, which led to his season-best 71-yard day. "I broke a long run and got dragged from behind. It was then that I was like, 'I'm really hurting. I've never not been able to run, not been able to explode.' " …
"I had significant playing time last year," Shaw said. "With those two guys (Minor and Brown) in front of me, it's up for grabs, and camp is a great platform for me to show I can still play and I'm ready. ... I'm about 90%. I'll be 100% by camp."
Yes. Remember that Mike Shaw is also made of dilithium. Last year he fumbled and disastrously tried to bounce it outside a few times each, but when he wasn't forcing facepalms out of the fanbase he was slashing into the secondary and picking up 20 or so yards a couple times per game.
Shaw's unlikely to wrest the starting job away from the two seniors unless both succumb to injuries. A good sophomore year would see Shaw remain healthy, rip off the occasional long run whilst spotting the two co-starters, and throw down the gauntlet for anyone who presumes to challenge him in 2010.
More for the great leap forward. The latest effort of Football Outsiders' college guru Bill Conolly tackles tailbacks and has a number of data points relevant to Michigan. The stat in question is "Points Over Expectation." The brief summary: it's a metric that rewards you for rushing for lots of yards over many carries. It's something midway between YPC and yardage. (You can get a longer explanation at the link above.)
The notes of interest:
- Sam McGuffie checked in with the seventh-worst POE number in the country last year.
- Brandon Minor had the 12th-best POE number, and is the tenth-best returning tailback.
- Javon Ringer ran a lot, but to little effect:
Ringer was fourth in the country in rushing yards last year, but where did he stack up in POE? A whopping 137th, between Ball State backup Cory Sykes and Colorado backup Demetrius Sumler. Ringer's 390 carries merited a POE of -0.3, meaning an average college running back would have put up exactly what he did in 390 carries. While there is certainly skill (or at least good genes) involved in managing 30 carries per game without breaking down, it is unlikely that the skills Ringer possesses will in any way translate to pro success
In football numbers always require interpretation. Mine: the difference between McGuffie and Minor is partially, maybe even mostly, due to the radical improvement of Michigan's offensive line as the season progressed. The vast bulk of Minor's carries came in the second, effective half of the season. McGuffie was stuck running behind some super-confused guys.
But, man, the size of that gap is epic. Minor was more effective by leaps and bounds. This may something anyone who watched the two could tell you anecdotally, but if last year's Michigan's running game was the 12th-most effective in the country when Minor got the ball that's an accomplishment nearing magnificence. I've been making the case here that we should expect the rushing offense to take a considerable step forward this year; these numbers support that, possibly even to an extent I haven't dared suggest.
On Ringer: I think most people who saw a lot of Ringer would disagree with Connolly's conclusion at least somewhat. Ringer's lack of per-carry production was a product of extreme overuse, predictable playcalling, and being backed by the "threat" of Brian Hoyer*. I've also heard from a couple of educated Michigan State fans that the reason last year's Michigan State team had about one run play—power off tackle—was the ineptness of the offensive line. That's all they could do. He was not put in a position where he could succeed, and he managed to get drafted despite Dantonio treating him like a pack mule. Ringer has talent—probably not NFL-level, but you could say that about a lot of tailbacks with much better POE numbers.
It'll be interesting to see whether the repertoire expands next year or if they're the new Rock, Rock, Rock of the Big Ten. I lean towards the latter. Dantonio may have herded the cats at State into something resembling a competent defense, but offensive creativity does not seem like a specialty.
*(Brandon Minor gets to deploy all these excuses as well since Michigan ran two-thirds of the time when he was the feature tailback, largely because the alternative was having Threet or Sheridan throw. And yet… the numbers. I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while and then write "I will NOT predict 9-3" on a chalkboard 500 times.)
Ah, Doyel. I've previously called Gregg Doyel a junior-high version of Christopher Hitchens and that he remains, but goddamn if it isn't satisfying to read a Christopher Hitchens piece when his strident personal morality happens to intersect with yours. So, yeah, Doyel's latest is a rip job on the inane Meyer-to-ND meme personally started by professional provocateur Paul Finebaum, and I like it.
I want to highlight this bit:
Finebaum's source? He doesn't mention one. Because he doesn't have one. His source is either Spurrier's "rumor down there," or that vast empty space Finebaum calls his skull. …
the Meyer rumor won't leave. Newspapers in Gainesville, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., have written about it, all in the past six days. Why? Because of Spurrier. And Finebaum.
This is pretty much the exact thing newspaper partisans get upset about when a baseless rumor flies about the blogosphere, reproducing willy-nilly despite a total lack of evidence or credibility. This is not a bug unique to the internet. Like everything else, it just happens much more slowly in newspapers.
In a way it's even more likely to result in untruthiness. Scratch the right sort of Notre Dame, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan and eventually he'll say something along the lines of "lol, Shredriguez" because last year a West Virginia newspaper published an embarrassingly credulous story about Rodriguez invading the Sacred Single Hardcopy Room and destroying all evidence that West Virginia even had a football program. The thing in question takes on a patina of reality due to the institutional momentum behind such a meme—it in a newspaper, it must be true—even if it's purest crap.
Etc.: Terrific UMHoops post on the three-point line move and Michigan's bombing ways.
Coyotes second-rounder Chris Brown came in for some goalie-running praise yesterday, and today there's an Arizona Republic article that expands on the Michigan-Phoenix connection. The most newsworthy item comes towards the end, where the 'Yotes GM and Brown discuss their mutual plan for his development:
Maloney admits he would "stunned" if Brown spends four years at the collegiate level. …
"He needs some time, I hope it's sooner rather than later, but I'm hesitant to say because none of us can predict what's going to happen, but I don't see him - his game, his drive, I think is more suited to pro hockey than college hockey.
"But it's certainly not going to hurt to give him the practice time the next couple of years, and at one of the best programs in the nation, which is good."
So… two and out, in Phoenix's estimation. For his part, Brown says he's planning on four years… "right now." His quote doesn't sound like a guy who will be around in 2012, though:
The ultimate goal is obviously to get to the Phoenix Coyotes and the NHL, play year by year, talk to the coaching staff on both sides and see what happens," he said.
We are warned, not that a second-rounder leaving after two years is a surprise.
Elsewhere, Canadiens draftee Mac Bennett impressed:
The biggest surprise of scrimmage day was Mac Bennett. The 17-year-old high school player looked extremely comfortable on the ice, with poise to match his older peers.
"I'm pretty calm with the puck. I wasn't expecting to be as calm with it as I was here," said Bennett.
Timmins agrees, saying "Mac looks like he's been here for a couple of development camps. He has a lot of poise and ability for his young age."
I'm still a little jittery about Bennett and the CHL—not because I have any information or anything, just general paranoia. Feeding the paranoia is this article, which I missed when it came out right after the NHL draft:
If Charlie Henry has his way, Michigan recruit Mac Bennett will never play in Ann Arbor. … Henry feels that the young defencemen will develop faster if he skips college and plays for the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
"He has really good offensive skills, but he needs to improve on defence and he can do it with us," said Henry, who is general manager of the Olympiques.
Trevor Timmins, the Canadiens' director of player personnel, said he wouldn't presume to tell a player where he should go, but he did concede that the talent level in the Quebec league is higher.
At least it's the Q, which is something of a shambles relative to the OHL and doesn't have nearly the level of success at recruiting Americans away from collegiate commitments that a few OHL teams do. But if anyone's going to get behind the highly questionable idea that the overall difficulty of playing in the Q is equivalent to college hockey—where the vast bulk of the players are also undrafted but happen to be three or four years older—it's the Canadiens. I'll breathe easier once Bennett is safely in Cedar Rapids.
(HT: Yost Built.)
So ESPN spent the first five or ten minutes of College Football Live yesterday talking about how screwed Michigan was because "another player(!!!)" was leaving Michigan, never mind that Wermers' departure was officially announced two months ago. But you get a couple of quotes from a kid transferring into the MAC and the universe is ending.
I don't think it matters much in the grand scheme of things because only one thing—winning—matters much in the grand scheme of things. That does not mean it's not annoying as hell. The part that's still lodged in the ol' craw at the moment is that "not my crowd" statement. What crowd? By the time Wermers announced he'd transfer, the only Rodriguez recruits that had made it to campus were the guys he filled out Carr's last class with and the early-enrollers.
Those players are as follows.
2008: Ricky Barnum, Justin Feagin, Martavious Odoms, Patrick Omameh, Terrence Robinson, Mike Shaw, Roy Roundtree, and Taylor Hill. (I'm not including Brandon Smith and JT Floyd, who were technically uncommitted when the switch happened but were more Carr recruits than Rodriguez recruits.)
2009: Vlad Emilien, Tate Forcier, Anthony LaLota, Will Campbell, Vincent Smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Mike Jones.
Who constitutes the infamous crowd here? We're looking for players that don't fit the profile of a typical Michigan recruit. So not these folks: Hill transferred after about two seconds, Omameh is an engineer, Shaw was a Penn State commit who Carr had offered, Roundtree was a Purdue commit,—both were teammates of Carr commit Brandon Moore—Campbell was basically a Carr recruit, Emilien is an honors student, and so are LaLota and Jones. Both of LaLota and Jones were picking between ND and Michigan.* And Forcier is the younger brother of a Carr recruit.
I really doubt there was any culture shock from the arrival of guys from Ohio and guys who strongly considered Notre Dame. That's been the pattern of the program for years.
The remainder: the Pahokee guys, Feagin, Barnum. And I guess Terrence Robinson. It's hard to interpret Wermers' "crowd" in a way that doesn't mean poor black kids from Florida, and I guess Terrence Robinson.
Which is all the long way of saying that 19 year olds should offer pat, positive answers and shut up, lest they say something that gives the wrong impression.
*(FWIW, Jones' decision was easy since ND did not offer.)