I generally like Stewart Mandel. But his latest mailbag is lazy, lazy, lazy. His piercing analysis of the Texas-OSU matchup is this:
"But I don't care who you are -- you don't go into the Horseshoe and win when Ohio State is good, especially not at night. Texas could conceivably turn around and win all the rest of its games -- yes, including Oklahoma -- but it's not going to beat the Buckeyes under the lights in Columbus, and neither would any other team."
Uh, unless you're Wisconsin last year. Were the Buckeyes "good" then? They finished 8-4, seems good. Come on, Stewart. That's the kind of sentiment you'd find a toothless 14-year-old pounding out in ALL CAPS on a message board where they think "scUM" is clever.
And then there's this analysis of the Michigan passing game:
"Now, had Gradkowski gone to Michigan or Ohio State (and assuming he even got off one of their benches), he'd be asked to run a conservative offense where he hands the ball off 35 times a game and, when he does throw, rarely gets the chance to go downfield (and if he does, he's probably throwing to some sick athlete like Braylon Edwards, who can turn poorly thrown floaters into completions)."
Oy. Welcome to 1990. How many guys like Howard, Toomer, Alexander, Terrell, Walker, and Edwards does Michigan have to showcase before it sheds its image as a run at all costs offense? Michigan's true freshman quarterback just threw for 2700 yards and 25 touchdowns. I could understand if this was Beano Cook talking, but Mandel seems like a guy who's actually watched football sometime after 1979.
The super weird thing is that paragraph came in the midst of a discussion about the MAC and how its lightly-recruited quarterbacks seem to outperform the Big Ten's. Mandel specifically calls out Navarre as an example of a guy who was "lapped" by the superior development of MAC coaching staffs, which is exactly opposite reality as I perceive it. Navarre's other D-I offer at quarterback was Northwestern and the man was a disaster as a sophomore. The fact that he evolved into an All Big Ten quarterback and an NFL draft pick (okay, by the Cardinals, so it hardly counts) was a tribute to Loeffler and Malone's coaching ability.
Michigan's offense is no longer old-school. I'd kill to see some old-school Michigan defense, though.
Update 5/29: Removed OK QB Sam Bradford(OK), AZ DE Jermaine Williams(ASU), VA WR Percy Harvin(not listing UM), NJ TE Joe Torchia(haven't heard anything about him in forever). Added PA TE Nate Bynum. Changed status of Darrin Walls based on several article titles--an old fashioned Michigan-Notre Dame battle now.
Link a heah.
Michigan's 2006 class will be a small one. And this year, we really mean that. The 2005 class was also supposed to be small, but a huge amount of attrition boosted it up to 23 recruits. Next year a huge amount of attrition might get Michigan up into the mid-teens. The departures of Lawrence Reid, Joey Sarantos, Ernest Shazor, and Alex Ofili leaves Michigan's projected senior class with just 10 players. Michigan is at the 85 scholarship limit at the moment.
That number will probably go up, perhaps sooner than later due to the uncertain status of Larry Harrison. Additionally, Michigan has three potential early-entry NFL draft candidates in CB Leon Hall, OLB/DE Lamarr Woodley, and WR Steve Breaston. It's doubtful any of those three players leave after this year but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Some players will not return for optional fifth years, others may transfer to schools with better opportunities for playing time. Expect a class of around fifteen players.
Michigan will focus heavily on QBs, LBs, and DBs in this class. Expect a smaller than usual offensive line class and only a couple players at the offensive skill positions.
A Note on "Stars": These are my guesstimates. Players don't have stars associated with them yet. When the recruiting services add them I'll adjust my ratings. (Update 6/1: Rivals has posted their ratings; still waiting on Scout. Rankings will be an amalgam of both with half-stars assigned as needed.)
A Note on Premium Info: No illict sharing of said material will appear on this site. Players are listed with interested schools in their profiles; this information is public. Commitments are by definition public. Any assertions as to schools in the mix, decision dates, or leaders I will back up with links to public information.
This is a work in progress, obviously, that will be updated a lot.
Note: All the updates were pushing down the board way down; I've shifted them to the end. The last two or three updates will still be displayed in this space.
Be sure to read the official mgoblog recruiting philosophy before committing suicide over anything you read here.
Needs: Michigan will take a QB in this class and pit him against Jason Forcier when Henne departs. Whoever Michigan picks up will have the opportunity to start as a redshirt sophomore so there is a good chance that an Elite-11 type QB will come aboard.
Update 6/29: The commitment of David Cone complicates things. Will Michigan really be content with one sleeper quarterback who runs the option in high school? Not to knock Cone--a camp offer with things seemingly looking good for FL super Tim Tebow indicates that Loeffler and company like Cone a lot--but he carries a much higher risk factor than a quarterback in a passing offense. Michigan will continue to recruit Tebow and the other quarterbacks with offers and will take a commitment if they can, but guys like Hartline or Hakes are probably S.O.L.
|David Cone||GA||***||Michigan||mgoblog on Cone here, team won GA state championship|
Committed Elsewhere: Zach Frazier (ND), Matt Stafford (Georgia), Sam Bradford(OU), Kevan Smith(Pitt), Jeremy Ricker(MD), Pat Devlin(Miami), Jake Locker(UW).
Running Back / Fullback
Needs: Almost none. Mike Hart, Max Martin, and Kevin Grady are all underclassmen and should form a Three Headed Monster of Doom next year. Apparently, three-star signee Mister Simpson is being brought in as a tailback as well. Michigan will probably take a single RB next year just to have someone.
Update 12/20: Carlos Brown's shock commitment likely closes the door for anyone who was considering Michigan previously.
|Carlos Brown||GA||****||Michigan||Duuude, shocker. MGoBlog on Brown; Rivals #32|
|Brandon Minor||VA||****||Michigan||people like want him and stuff; MGoBlog on Minor.|
Committed Elsewhere: James Aldridge (ND), Chris Wells (OSU), Luke Schmidt(ND).
Needs: Michigan has an embarrassment of riches at wide reciever after a two-year run of top-100 playmakers. This could be a year where Michigan forgoes a wideout entirely, but they'll probably take at least one. I would expect two only if a player they can't say no to wants to come aboard.
|Greg Mathews||FL||****||Michigan||Rivals100 (#91); camped all week; Orlando Sentinel article; verbal now soft as he has visted OSU and will visit FSU but seems likely to stick.|
Needs: Freakazoid athlete Carson Butler came in last year and Mike Massey has impressed as a redshirt freshman, so Michigan may not pursue tight ends heavily this year.
Committed Elsewhere: Nate Byham(Pitt), Dedrick Epps(Miami).
Needs: Michigan signed a second consecutive bumper crop of offensive linemen last year. With nine recruits over the last two years and a small class projected for 2006, Michigan will be very selective with its OL recruiting. Two or three players will likely come aboard, probably a tackle and a couple of interior linemen.
Update 4/10: Michigan will be taking at most one additional interior lineman after Boren's commit. With the depth they've built at G and C be assured that anyone who commits before February will be a prospect the coaches think very highly of.
|Justin Boren (G/C)||OH||****.5||Michigan||Rivals 100(#39), Scout 100(#28), mgoblog on Boren here; brief Scout interview.|
|Perry Dorrestein(T)||IL||***||Michigan||Scout article.|
|Steve Schilling||WA||*****||Michigan||high school nickname: "Wolverines." Helmet: Winged, Rivals 100(#25), Scout 100 (#4), Seattle Times article; Seattle PI article; News Tribune article; decides Friday, has dropped USC; Rivals "Breakdown" segment.|
Needs: Michigan pulled four top-100 jumbo athletes slated for the defensive line last year and will probably go easy this year. Marques Slocum and Terrance Taylor seem to be natural DTs. Eugene Germany and James McKinney are already around 270 pounds and could slide inside. Michigan may take one defensive tackle.
|Adam Patterson||SC||****||Michigan||Rivals 100(#91); Times-Democrat article; The State.com article.|
|Jason Kates||PA||***.5||Michigan||PSU offer; Lemming says he will commit to M.|
Committed Elsewhere: Jason Pinkston(Pitt).
Needs: Michigan will be looking for an edge rusher this year in the mold of a Woodley. Micah Johnson of Kentucky is a likely five-star who fits that profile very well. He actually plays MLB for his high school team at about 260.
|Adam Patterson||SC||****||Michigan||Rivals 100(#91); Times-Democrat article; The State.com article.|
|John Ferrara||NY||***||Michigan||mgoblog on Ferrara; NY Daily News article.|
|Greg Banks||CO||***||Michigan||Scout article; January enrollee.|
|Quintin Woods||MI||***||Michigan||Did not play football until senior year, but made quite an impression when he did. Scout article; Free Press article.|
Needs: Major. Scott McClintock and Pierre Woods will graduate next year. Lawrence Reid's career came to an unexpected end this offseason due to a degenerative neck injury. The only true linebacker Michigan signed last year was three-star Brandon Logan, who is undersized and far from a sure thing. Michigan will probably take three or even four linebackers this year. Fortunately, it appears that Michigan is in superb shape for a number of big-timmahs.
Update 6/29: With Mixon, Graham, and Patilla in the fold Michigan is either completely or almost done with linebackers this year. Michigan won't be offering any marginal prospects but would probably take a commit from someone like Jeremiha Hunter, Josh Tatum, or DE/LB Micah Johnson since Patilla and Graham could potentially play other positions (WR and DE, respectively).
|Brandon Graham||MI||*****||Michigan||Rivals 100(#19), Scout 100(#12), #1 player in Michigan; DetNews article; Rivals "Breakdown."|
|Cobrani Mixon||OH||****||Michigan||Scout 100(#84), Cinci Colerain(Mister Simpson, Connor Smith). mgoblog on Mixon here.|
|Obi Ezeh||MI||***||Michigan||ATH FB, commitment article.|
Committed Elsewhere: Eric Gordon(MSU).
Needs: Michigan signed three corners last year, one of whom--Chris Richards--will greyshirt, but that doesn't mean they won't be after more this year. Michigan hasnt recruited a blue-chip CB since Marlin Jackson. They'll be after a big fish this year.
Needs: With Nic Harris' last second switch, Michigan failed to sign a player at safety last year. Michigan will go hard after a couple this year, and are in good position for a couple of top national prospects in Myron Rolle and Taylor Mays. Rivals' preseason AA John Maddox is also a possibility; he attends Philadelphia West Catholic with signee Marques Slocum.
Update 4/5: Maddox has turned into a WR recruit and all-everything Myron Rolle has let it be known that he wants to be recruited at corner, leaving the safety position pretty thin on numbers. WR recruit Jamar Hornsby may play safety as well.
|Steve Brown||IN||****||Michigan||Rivals 100(#65), Scout 100(#92), ATH CB, Scout article, Scout commit article, first HS game.|
|Jonas Mouton||CA||****.5||Michigan||Rivals 100(#45), Scout 100(#42), has scheduled official, M in top 3; Scout article; Rivals' Greg Biggins says he's comin'.|
Committed Elsewhere: Taylor Mays(USC), Antwine Perez(USC).
Needs: Garret Rivas will be a junior next year. Michigan was looking around for kickers this year to walk on and accept a scholarship after his graduation. If one of those kickers accepts the partial walk-on offer, Michigan won't take anyone. If not, Michigan may look around for someone who will accept a similar arrangement. Punter is taken care of by ZOLTAN THE INCONCEIVABLE.
|Bryan Wright (K)||OH||**||Michigan||Full scholarship offer; mgoblog on Wright; article.|
Update 2/18: Added a bunch of tables. Should finish the remainder soon. New names all over. Definite assertions that Michigan leads for PA linebackers Dorin Dickerson and Jeremiah Hunter and is co-leader with UVA for PA CB Darrin Walls. Questionable assertion based on message board speculation that M and UVA lead for OH DL Antonio Reed.
Update 2/20: Tabled the rest of the charts. Added schools and notes for many prospects; still working on completing that. Added speculative M lead for Justin Boren based on NDNation poster claiming to be classmate (thanks to reader Jon Chavez for the tip).
Update 2/21: Moved Brandon Graham to commitments, added GA WR Chris Slaughter, NJ CB AJ Wallace, IN LB AJ Edds, NJ S Pha'Terrell Washington, and a few others.
Update 5/5: Added QB prospect Jeremy Ricker, removed two ND commits, moved several players to different positions.
Update 5/6: Added WR Jamar Hornsby, RB Anthony Elzy, DT Jason Pinkston. Noted that GA leads for WR Chris Slaughter. Noted that USC and M are listed as co-leaders for WR Andrey Baskin. Added link to some free video of WR Menelik Holt.
Update 5/8: Added CB Steve Brown and LB Thaddeus Gibson. Added speculative co-lead for QB Tim Tebow. Noted that PSU leads for WR John Maddox. Also noted that Gibson is down to UM and OSU.
Update 5/9: Added FB Luke Schmidt, OL Matt Carufel, OL Bartley Webb, LB Eric Gordon, LB Travis Goethel, LB Toryan Smith, CB Brantwon Bowser. Linked to free Demarco Murray video. Asserted that TE Dedrick Epps will likely commit at camp.
Update 5/11:Added DT Aundre Henderson, DT Jason Kates, LB Akeem Hebron, asserted that Justin Boren should commit within a couple weeks. Added link to Mitch Mustain's website (free video). Linked to Tebow's Elite 11 inclusion.
Update 5/13:Stopped pretending it was still April, added DE Brandon Spikes, CB Jovani Chappel, who I thought was already listed. Removed WR Wesley Lyons, QB Pat Devlin, QB Matt Stafford. Changed Cobrani Mixon's status after a scout article indicated that he was favoring the SEC. Added a bunch of scout links (suggest you look at the Steve Schilling pic--right out of Bo-era UM). Noted that FL leads for another QB--if he commits Tebow will head elsewhere. Changed Justin Boren's status to committed.
Update 5/16:Added note that Michigan leads for KY DT Corey Peters based on post from KY Rivals guru Jeff Drummond. Used header of Scout article to assert that Nebraska leads for CA WR Menelik Holt.
Update 5/19: Removed Jamie Cumbie after referenced article said he was down to ND and Clemson. Changed Cobrani Mixon's status again after free Scout article. Linked to Micah Johnson article in which he does not list Michigan among his top 7(!) schools. Bother.
Update 5/20: Removed IL WR Chris James after he committed to Illinois. Good get for Zook. Added note that AJ Wallace will attend summer camp. Added OH WR Robby Paris, OK QB Sam Bradford, GA DE Jermaine Cunningham. Removed QB Justin Burke; his profile no longer shows Michigan.
Update 5/27: Removed IN FB Luke Schmidt (ND commit), re-added PA QB Pat Devlin after Michigan people started talking about him again. Not to go all sour grapes, but I doubt Schmidt had an offer w/ the small class and a scholarship fullback last year. Added CA LB Josh Tatum.
Update 5/29: Removed OK QB Sam Bradford(OK), AZ DE Jermaine Williams(ASU), VA WR Percy Harvin(not listing UM), NJ TE Joe Torchia(haven't heard anything about him in forever). Added PA TE Nate Bynum. Changed status of Darrin Walls based on several article titles--an old fashioned Michigan-Notre Dame battle now.
Update 6/1: Rivals has released its initial five stars and top 100, and everyone's notes have been updated to reflect the new information. There are still a few "4.5" stars out there for guys who will probably be Scout 5-stars but not Rivals 5-stars; Scout usually gives out maybe 20 additional five-star ratings. I also rearranged them so the players are more or less in ranking order. Moved DeMarco Murray to RB from CB, Steve Brown to S from CB, Brandon Spikes from DE to LB.
Update 6/2: Linked to a very nice free Scout article on CA LB Josh Tatum. Says he has a top seven but declares that he will definitely visit three schools and there's a "90 percent chance" he'll visit Michigan and Oklahoma. Sounds like a top five to me. Normally I would write this guy off to USC but the Trojans have recruited a horde of l inebackers over the past five years, including a pair of five stars just last February. Also removed PA WR Aaron Smith. Added a link to a Patrick Rigan article on Rivals and a strange free article from a University of Cincinatti site on PA WR/LB Dorin Dickerson. The latter seems like good news, as Dickerson is quoted saying, "Michigan has definitely made that extra effort in recruiting me that not many other schools have."
Update 6/6: Removed WR Menelik Holt(Neb commit). Sigh of relief about Micah Johnson, who lists us as one of six in this article. Added NY WR Vidal Hazelton and VA WR Chris Bell.
Update 6/9: Linked to article in which GA DE Jermaine Cunningham names a trio of SEC schools as leaders. Added CA QB Jake Locker, who appears to be the first quarterback after the Big Four to get offered. Added note that Taylor Mays is making an August decision. Linked to War & Peace-sized Myron Rolle article.
Update 6/14: Removed CB Brantwon Bowser (ASU commit). Linked to Mike Hartline interview, yet another Myron Rolle article, and a Scout article where Hornsby declares Florida leader. Added LA CB Jai Eugene and MI S Ian Conyers. Also added CO OL Butch Lewis.
Update 6/16: Finally removed LeSean McCoy after reading this PA Homestyle Sports entry. Given the way things are going (Percy Harvin now lists UM along with USC and the three Florida schools and added UM immediately after I sliced him off), we should lead for McCoy in under a month until I put him back on the list, upon which he'll immediately commit to Buffalo. Also removed IN LB AJ Edds. Changed Jeremiha Hunter's status... Michigan has fallen back to the back. Updated some schools for other players, as well.
Update 6/21: Added FL OT Daron Rose. Linked Pat Devlin Scout article and Antwine Perez Scout article. Sounds like USC is the current leader for Perez but he has nice things to say about Michigan. Extrapolated from article title and Dorin Dickerson profile that he's down to Michigan and Pitt (probably). His coach is the father of Pitt QB Tyler Palko and he lives in Pittsburgh--it will be close. Also linked to Travis Goethel Scout article.
Update 6/22: Grudgingly re-added VA WR Percy Harvin. Removed LB Akeem Hebron, TX OL Chris Stewart, FL WR Tony Wilson, MI LB Eric Gordon (MSU commit), and PA WR Dorin Dickerson(Pitt commit). Noted that PA DT Jason Pinkston will announce Monday... probably Pitt again (wild speculation).
Update 6/25: Linked to Rivals Guru Mike Farrell stating that he believes that Virginia and Michigan are neck and neck for PA QB Pat Devlin. Changed Cobrani Mixon's status to commited. Linked to Neil Caudle article where he names Auburn leader--no surprise there--and CSTV video package (~5 minutes) on Antwine Perez.
Update 6/26: Added GA QB David Cone and MI LB Quintin Patilla. Cone apparently got a camp offer despite hardly throwing for his option-crazy high school team. Linked to two Canton Repository articles on OH QB Mike Hartline, who camped at both Michigan and OSU recently. Asserted that Harline will commit if offered. Removed OH QB Miles Schlister (no way he gets offered) and OH OL Connor Smith (trust me). Linked to GBW article indicating that OH WR Robby Paris has been offered. Added NH(!) FB(!) Scott Spyrka because of same article. Also linked to a couple of recent reports from the Pittsburgh Sports Report. Each covers multiple players. To sum up: UF, ND, UM for Darrin Walls, Jared Odrick has us in his list of 15, PA QB Kevan Smith may get an offer sometimes soon, we're there with Jeremiha Hunter but no longer a clear leader, and Nate Byham did not mention Michigan on his list of five schools. More Paris: check out kickass video here, and Buckeye fans wondering why such a kickass kicker of asses isn't interested in Ohio State.
Update 6/27: Added CA S Jonas Mouton based on this article. Linked to another Myron Rolle article and added VA RB Brandon Minor and FL WR Greg Mathews. Removed several commitments to other schools: PA DT Jason Pinkston, MN CB Kim Royston, PA QB Kevan Smith. Linked to Byron Isom profile indicating that UF and SCar lead for him. Changed Dedrick Epps' status--mgoblog called him a possible camp commit, which obviously didn't happen. Added Scout 100 members and adjusted some partial star ratings thusly. Moved Quintin Patilla and David Cone to committed.
Update 6/30: Linked to Sam Young article in which he declares his final seven schools: USC, Stanford, Michigan, PSU, ND, UF, and Miami. Noted that Antwine Perez' profile has him down to USC, LSU, and Michigan. Linked to a Chris Bell article--sounds like Michigan will probably at least get an official--and an interview with Myron Rolle and his father.
Update 7/8: Removed PA QB Pat Devlin, who committed to Miami. Linked to Steve Brown article. Added CA CB Devin Ross, removed OH WR Robby Parris.
Update 7/18: Removed DE Patrick Rigan (MSU), QB Neil Caudle(Auburn), DT Jason Kates (ceased listing us), DT Jared Odrick (ceased listing us).
Update 7/26: Linked to Sam Young article. Removed S Pha'Terrell Washington (Maryland), CB Brian Brighton (we aren't recruiting him), OL Matt Carufel (dropped us), S Stephon Hampton (we shan't be needing sleeper safeties), CB Jovani Chappel (not listing us). Removed QBs Mike Hartline and Sean Hakes. The chances of us offering a quarterback without a current offer are very low. Removed RB Anthony Elzy and added FB Obi Ezeh.
Update 7/29: Noted that Florida, Oklahoma, and Miami lead for NV RB DeMarco Murray. Noted that Miami leads for VA RB Brandon Minor, removed QB Jake Locker(UW), QB Mitch Mustain(no longer listing us), OL Conor Smith(Ohio State). Moved Butch Lewis from OL to DT. Moved IN S Steve Brown to committed. Linked to AJ Wallace article.
Update 8/2: Linked to Devin Ross article; in it he pretty directly states that a USC offer will mean a USC commitment... why haven't the Trojans offered the #2 CB in the country? Removed NY WR Vidal Hazelton, who has dropped us and AR OL Bartley Webb(ND). Linked to Darrin Walls article, added LA OL Doug Stroud.
Update 8/10: Removed NJ WR Andrey Baskin, who dropped us. Also removed DT Aundre Henderson, who committed to Minnesota... Minnesota? Linked to a couple articles, one in the Seattle Times on Taylor Mays and Steve Schilling, the other a Rivals article on Mays citing the Times article.
Update 8/12: Linked to Scout article header that asserts Michigan is in the top 3 for CA S/LB Jonas Mouton, removed PA TE Nate Byham(Pitt). Pitt is really cleaning up in PA this year. Added FL OL Jim Barrie, linked to free Superprep Taylor Mays article.
Update 8/25: Added NY DE McKenzie Matthews, noted that Myron Rolle announces September 1, linked to Steve Brown article (forced fumble an a 98 yard touchdown return!). Linked to Tim Tebow article, Det News article on the best players in the state this year featuring Patilla and Graham. Added OH OL Mark Jackson.
Update 9/1: Changed KY DT Corey Peters' status to reflect the fact that Auburn leads now. Added FL RB CJ Spiller, removed DE Byron Isom, WR Chris Bell, and WR John Maddox. Linked to another Peters article and a Toryan Smith article. Linked to Antwine Perez article that claims he is down to just USC and Michigan... no LSU. Removed Myron Rolle(FSU).
Update 11/15: Removed TE Dedrick Epps (Miami), WR Chris Slaughter(Auburn), WR Jamar Hornsby(UF), WR Carl Fisher(not recruiting), CB Darrin Walls(Notre Dame), S Antwine Perez(USC), DE Jerrell Herring(not recruiting), NC LB Brandon Spikes(dropped us), LB Josh Tatum (dropped us), FB Scott Szpyrka (playin' baseball). Added NY DE McKenzie Matthews, MI WR Dominque Douglas, IN DE Dexter Larimore, MN K Sam Buckman, IL OT Perry Dorrestein, TX LB Mike Morgan. Added Commits Greg Mathews and John Ferrara.
Update 11/22: Removed DT Corey Peters, DE Jermaine Cunningham. Added DE Jason Adjepong. Removed CB AJ Wallace and LB Travis Goethel. Added K commit Bryan Wright and removed K Sam Buckman--no room at the inn any longer.
Update 12/5: Removed Micah Johnson, who committed to UK. Also removed NV RB DeMarco Murray(dropped us) and FL OT Jim Barrie(not technically out but trust me). Updated MI WR Dominque Douglas's list to include Iowa... and then removed him when he committed to Iowa. Added OH QB Rick Stanzi. Linked to article with passage on NJ DE Jason Adjepong and article on new K commit Bryan Wright.
Update 12/12: Linked to Mike Morgan article where he names three leaders, none of whom are Michigan. Removed LB Toryan Smith(ND), moved LB/FB Obi Ezeh to commited. Added NY TE Andrew Quarless; profile indicates he is visiting this weekend. Noted that WR commit Greg Mathews moved into the Rivals 100 at #91 after their last update... no, I haven't updated everyone else's rankings. Cone also got a bonus star, he's now got 3.
Removed OMG SHIRTLESS TIM TEBOW.
Update 12/19: Added MI S Aaron Gant and MI DE Quintin Woods, removed IN DT Dexter Larimore(OSU) and re-added KY DT Corey Peters, who was apparently just offered. Reaction to the Larimore commitment? Removed WR Percy Harvin(UF). Added GA RB Carlos Brown as a commitment. Updated Jonas Mouton's school list based on a Scout article header: Nebraska is out. Final three are USC, LSU, and UM... where have we heard that before?
Also, here's a Daron Rose article.
Update 1/11: Removed OLs Mark Jackson and Doug Stroud (not being recruited), QB Rick Stanzi, RB CJ Spiller, DE Jason Adjepong(VT), CB Devin Ross, LB Mike Morgan, S Ian Conyers. Moved LA CB Jai Eugene to committed. Added SC DT Adam Patterson, who just visited. Also added LA RB William Griffin.
Linked to free Scout article on Thaddeus Gibson in which Gibson is very explicit about his intentions:
"I 'd say there's a 65-70% chance I'll commit to Ohio State over the other programs."
Mentally moving him to the "written off" bin. Also linked to Scout article on Brandon Minor. Minor is noncommittal in the article, though he does get off this totally awesome quote:
"Coach (Lloyd) Carr was here on Jan. 3, and Coach (Phil) Fuhlmer was here on Jan. 4," he said. "They both told me how much they wanted me and stuff. I know that Michigan got a commitment from another running back, but that doesn't mean anything to me, I'll go in and play wherever I go."
Update 1/13: Linked to Jonas Mouton article and Brandon Graham article. Removed WR Adrian Cannon, who apparently commited to Maryland, TE Andrew Quarless(PSU), and RB Knowshon Moreno(ceased listing us). Added TX QB Nick Stephens after a mention that Michigan had offered him in the Dallas Morning News.
Adjusted teams for RB/FB Brandon Minor(down to Michigan and Tennessee), OT Sam Young(ND, PSU, USC, M), and DE McKenzie Matthews, (M and Pitt with M leading).
Update 1/23: Removed OT Sam Young(ND), LB Thaddeus Gibson(OSU), RB William Griffin(with Minor's commitment there's no room at the inn for RBs). Moved RB Brandon Minor to committed. Linked to Steve Schilling article and Dallas Morning News blog entry(!) on TX QB Nick Stephens.
Update 1/25: Added QB Lee Mondol. Linked to McKenzie Matthews article. Moved OL Steve Schilling to committed. Added links to a Rivals feature called "The Breakdown" with high praise for both Brandon Graham and Schilling and a Free Press article on Quintin Woods. Also: a Seattle Times article on the Schilling commitment. Linked to Greg Biggins post on S Jonas Mouton that indicates he's coming to Michigan.
Update 1/30: Linked to a couple articles on DE Adam Patterson, Detroit News article in which Lemming asserts that PA DT Jason Kates will commit to Michigan. There's also an South Bend Tribune article with a mention that ND was going to pursue Kates after losing out on some high profile DTs. Linked to Columbus Dispatch article with reference to Peters (and Greg Mathews) and an older article. At the time it was written Peters was down to UK and Auburn. Linked to short squib in which Patterson's coach declares he's down to South Carolina and Michigan.
The madness! Does not stop! Here's Rivals' initial top ten for '07. Three Michigan recruits are on it: WI OT Josh Oglesby, MI CB Ronald Johnson, and TX QB Ryan Mallet.
Update 2/1 (final): Moved Patterson, Kates, and Mouton to committed. Removed Daron Rose, McKenzie Mathews, Corey Peters, and Lee Mondol.
I promised I would put up my basketball rules changes for skewering, and here they are. I've only got six of them, but if you'd like to you can mentally add filler like sexing Mutombo, etc.
1. Drastically slash the number of timeouts each team is allotted.
I hate basketball timeouts, largely because each team is allotted approximately a mole of them. Coaches can use them willy-nilly and still end up at the end of the game with enough of them to forcibly beat my interest in the game out of me. The end of a close basketball game is a series that goes like so: possession, timeout, possession, timeout, timeout, possession, timeout... timeout, possession, timeout, shotgun blast annihilates television.
Wouldn't it be nice if a team that had just been scored upon and now faces a tied game or a one point deficit with ten seconds on the clock just had to play, and couldn't run back to coachy for a lolly and and an intricately detailed out-of-bounds play? Yes, goddammit. Yes.
Teams should be given a small number of timeouts that should last them the entire game. Three sounds right. Three timeouts per game gives a coach a mindbending decision over whether to try to halt an opponent's run with a timeout or to hoard it like it's platinum crack for the end of the game.
2. Only allow them in dead-ball situations.
If you're not going to do the nuclear thing, then at least stop allowing them when they want me want to stab stuff. Currently anyone in trouble with the ball, whether they're trapped on the sideline or airborne and heading into the second row, just calls a timeout to save the possession. Nobody likes it when there's about to be a big mess of bodies on the ground and the very real possibility of a decapitating elbow being thrown and the officials rob us of our bloodsport by indicating timeout. Teams should be rewarded for putting the ballhandler in a tenuous position, not sent to the bench for orange quarters and advertisements for TNT's latest miniseries.
3. Remove the incentive to foul at the end of a game!!!!!!!!(!)
The end of a six point basketball game is a shameful thing. The trailing team intentionally hacks the team that leads and sends them to the line hoping that they brick a free-throw or two and so they can rush down court and jack up a three. This process is repeated until your eyeballs melt like the Ark of the Covenant was just opened in front of you. The last two minutes take fifteen for no purpose at all.
Teams should never be rewarded for breaking the rules. This isn't the same as saying that no one should ever intentionally break the rules. It's unavoidable that sometimes that'll be preferable to the alternative--like a breakaway in hockey or a defensive end killing your quarterback in football. But at least in that situation the team committing the foul is still being penalized. A team trailing by four with twenty seconds left is actually benefiting from fouling, as they are allowed to cling to some faint hope of victory.
mgoblog's proposed solution is that when a non-shooting foul in the last two minutes would result in free throws, that team has the option of taking the ball out of bounds with a fresh shot clock and a five second time runoff. Problem solved, remainder of game completely unaffected.
4. Explore the possibilities of electronic officiating aids.
One of the things that drives me nuts about basketball is the refereeing. It's inconsistent, to put it kindly. When I'm watching a game it's a $&!%#@ing crime. Basketball officiating bothers me more than the officiating in any other sport because it seems orders of magnitude more incompetent. As hard as it is to believe, it probably isn't. The nature of basketball forces the referees into a more prominent position than other sports because they're asked to make extremely close decisions several times a minute.
Relieving the burden on the referees to make decisions in more cut-and-dried areas will hopefully improve the rest of the game as well. A couple of chips in a basketball and a system that can determine its position and trajectory could entirely remove referee's responsibility for out-of-bounds plays and goaltending calls, leaving them unfettered, able to really focus on ignoring Chauncey Billups getting the prison treatment from five different Heat players.
5. Call flops as blocking fouls.
mgoblog despises diving in all its forms unless TJ Hensick's doing it, in which case it is beautiful gamesmanship. And though Reggie Miller's retirement lessens the need for a change significantly, the diving that remains in the NBA should be penalized when it occurs, not merely ignored.
6. Adopt college rules about technicals.
A technical foul has very little bite in the NBA. One foul shot. Whoop-dee-freakin-doo. That's a major reason that NBA players and coaches spend the entire game mouthing off to officials. (Other major reason: they deserve it.) Making the technical count as a personal and giving two foul shots would at least make people like Rasheed Wallace think twice before going volcano-style--though in Wallace's case it probably wouldn't make much of an impact.
That's six changes that I think would vastly improve basketball. None of them are reminiscent of Rock 'n' Jock in the slightest. One deserves every excessive exclamation point I saw fit to bestow upon it. Fire away in the comments section if you like, you may get me to change my mind... but there's no way any more than two or three of those exclamation points are going anywhere. Word to the wise.
Over Glen Mason's nine years in Minneapolis he has lifted the Gophers from laughingstock to respectability, but hasn't managed to get Minnesota over the hump and seriously threaten for the Big Ten title.
Many will tell you this is due to some sort of Spartanesque post-Michigan collapse. After all, over the past three years Minnesota is 18-2 before playing the Wolverines and 7-7 after. Unfortunately for lazy broadcasters, this disparity is the frontrunner for phoniest stat of the 2005 season. Most of those 18 victories have come against Minnesota's perennial slate of nonconference loozer schools. Minnesota's Big Ten wins over that timespan came over Northwestern (three times), Penn State (twice), and Illinois (once). Any slightly-above-average team would have had the same record before and after Michigan, because the teams that came before Michigan were bad and the teams that came after were not.
The truth is that Minnesota's failures have nothing whatsoever to do with some sort of mental malaise that sets in after yet another heartbreaking loss to the perpetual Brown Jug holders and everything to do with the fact that Mason has only put together half a team. Minnesota's offense has been a running juggernaut the envy of every old-school six-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust Big Ten traditionalist but their defense has been horrible, terrible, unwatchable, repulsive... pick up a thesaurus, start at "sucktastic," and point. You'll find something that's probably a little too nice.
This does not look to change this year. Other than a couple of solid players at defensive tackle the defense has almost nothing in the way of proven talent. It's possible that they could turn into a respectable unit, but it's possible in the same sense that Barry Sanders will suit up for the Lions again. The good news is if the Gophers' run game can adjust to not having a back with a roman numeral after his name, it will be lights out again. Laurence Maroney is a legitimate Heisman candidate and the fierce, experienced, and mobile line in front of him--led by Rimington favorite Greg Eslinger--should pave the way for a monster year.
So, more of the same? Perhaps. Minnesota has an X-factor this year in the form of 6'5" wide receiver Ernest Wheelwright, who has all the physical tools you could possibly imagine and a nasty habit of dropping extremely important catches. If he can morph from a deep threat into an everywhere threat and catch what he gets his hands on, Minnesota's offense could overcome their defense.
Unit by Unit
Rating: 3. Brian Cupito's role in his first year as a starter was mostly to hand it off to Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney. Occasionally he would be called upon to toss a bomb downfield or hit tight end Matt Spaeth on play action, which he did well enough despite statistical appearances to the contrary--a 47% completion percentage. That's an ugly number, but it isn't nearly as bad as it looks, since he led the Big Ten in yards per attempt with 8.0. He demolished the competition by averaging 17.1 yards per completion. He did this with a receiving corps that dropped a large number of catchable balls, too (more on that later). Cupito's first year as a starter was actually a rather good one.
Cupito has yet to show that he can be an accurate passer on the outs, digs, and slants that most teams use as the basis of their passing game, but that isn't his fault. He hasn't been given much of an opportunity to do so. Mason deliberately kept him away from danger to prevent interceptions. The caution worked, as Cupito threw 14 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions. The cost, though, was more predictability than a truly great offense can afford to have. Mason will open up the playbook a little more this year. Cupito will have to show that he's capable of handling it.
Rating: 5. Minnesota lost half of its two-headed monster at running back when Marion Barber III declared for the NFL draft but the Gophers return the better half of the duo in the explosive Laurence Maroney. If Maroney, finally the clear-cut starter, maintains his spectacular 6.2 yards-per-carry average and leads Minnesota into a race for the Big Ten title he will be a legitimate Heisman candidate. He will certainly have the horses in front of him to do so. mgoblog predicts Maroney cracks 2,000 yards this year and gets to New York.
Backups Gary Russell and Amir Pinnix both showed well in the spring game and will get their share of time spelling Maroney. The Gophers are excited about both young backs' potential and given the line they'll have in front of them, an injury to Maroney would be harmful but not devastating.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends
Rating: 4.Though Minnesota returns senior Jared Ellerson, its leading receiver from last year, this position is the Ernest Wheelwright show. Wheelwright is a 6'5" monster with deep speed and the ever-coveted big play capability. He burst on to the scene as a freshman, averaging 21.8 yards a catch and making several spectacular downfield plays. It wasn't all strawberries and cream, however, as Wheelwright dropped a number of catchable balls over the course of the year, including one that would have put Michigan away for good.
Ellerson's good, but Wheelwright has the potential to make defenses choose between leaving Maroney up against a seven-man front or chancing Wheelwright loping downfield, diminutive cornerback in tow. Neither of those is appealing in the slightest--if Wheelwright makes the Sports-Guy-Approved "Leap."
Tight end Matt Spaeth is 6'6", 270 and plays like an offensive lineman with soft hands. He's excellent blocking for Maroney and when he finds himself open will come down with the ball but isn't overly athletic for a tight end and sometimes has trouble getting open. Another good year and he will start getting All Big Ten consideration.
Rating: 5. The Gopher line has been paving the way for Maroney and company for a few years now. Center Greg Eslinger has been an All-American almost from the moment he set foot on the not-so-hallowed turf of the Hubert H. Humphery Metrodome. Left guard Mark Setterstrom and left tackle Joe Ainsile aren't far behind.
The right side of the line is less proven. Mike Nicholson, the projected starter at right guard, is a senior with eight starts over the past two years. The right tackle is sophomore Tony Brinkhaus, who is entering his first season seeing serious playing time.
Ultimately, though, the performance of the right side of the line will determine whether Minnesota has a great offensive line or merely a very, very good one. No team in the league can match the 1-2-3 combo of Eslinger, Setterstrom, and Ainsile, and Brinkhaus seems ready to fill in capably at the RT position. There's a reason Minnesota's been rolling backs off the assembly line like the Denver Broncos over the past few years, and it rests entirely on these players.
Rating: 2. DT Anthony Montgomery is a legitimate anchor in the middle and Mark Losli is a decent running mate for him. The Gophers were okay against the run last year despite having a weak set of linebackers largely because of the two defensive tackles holding their ground so well. I say "okay" instead of "good" because even though Minnesota finished 36th in the country in terms of raw yardage, that ranking was inflated by Minnesota's non-conference schedule and awful pass defense. When Big T
en teams tried to rush against Minnesota, they averaged 3.8 yards a carry--that placed Minnesota 7th in the conference. Montgomery and Losli are solid, but they aren't the kind of guys who are going to blow up many plays by themselves (13.5 tackles for loss between them last year). If the run defense is going to improve, it'll be more on the shoulders of the linebackers than the defensive tackles.
The defensive ends will be a major problem area. Last year 230 pound linebacker Mario Reese drew six starts opposite Darrell Reid, the line's only consistent pass rusher (7.5 sacks). Reid has graduated; redshirt junior Eric Clark--the man splitting starts with Reese last year--is slated to step into Reid's shoes, but how productive can he be? Clark's two sacks last year came against Illinois and Illinois State. Against good opponents he did very little. The other starting end will probably be fifth-year senior Keith Lipka, who has been so anonymous thus far in his collegiate career that Minnesota's 2005 season prospectus doesn't even mention him.
Rating: 2. This position group is a mess of moved players, inexperience, and questionable athleticism. The only returning starter, Kyle McKenzie, has been shifted from middle linebacker to the outside. The new man in the middle is walk-on Mike Sherels, who has very little experience. The same can be said for strongside linebacker John Shevlin. Minnesota fans will be relying on addition by subtraction here, hoping that the shuffling (new strong safety Brandon Owens, a linebacker last year, is a part of it) is a sign of the defensive coaches finding the correct places for these players instead of the alternative, blind panic.
Perhaps one of the three will emerge as a steady contributor who can occasionally make a big play, but asking it of all three is a significant stretch. Minnesota's going to be going into the season hoping to answer a lot of questions here, but it's doubtful this unit will be anything special.
Rating: 1. Minnesota's pass-yardage defense was one of the worst in the country, giving up 266 yards a game enroute to finishing 109th in Division I-A. On the surface the pass efficiency numbers aren't quite as grim--Minnesota ended up 67th--but a deeper look shows that Minnesota's opponents included some of the most aerially inept teams to be found: Wisconsin(99th in passing efficiency), Northwestern(95th), Penn State(110th), Illinois(82nd), and Illinois State(85th... in I-AA!). Gopher fans should take little solace in the passing efficiency numbers.
One of these years Minnesota will put together a decent secondary, but this one doesn't look like it, especially given that the line is devoid of pass rushers. Redshirt junior Trumaine Banks has started the past two years and steps into the departed Ukee Dozier's shoes at Minnesota's closest thing to a #1 corner. Banks was targeted early and often by opposing quarterbacks last year and made a fair share of plays (9 PBUs and two interceptions) but more often than not was beaten for completions. Sophomore Jamal Harris appears to be the leading candidate to start at the other cornerback spot.
John Pawielski returns at free safety while Brandon Owens returns to strong safety after playing linebacker a year ago. Pawielski is limited athletically and it remains to be seen whether Owens has the range to be a safety. They'll both rack up a lot of tackles but unfortunately for Minnesota, they'll usually be eight to ten yards downfield.
Rating: 2.Maroney split time at KR with Barber last year and Mason has shown that he's willing to risk his best players on returns if he believes them to be the best available. That may change now that the Gophers are relying heavily on Maroney as the number one running back, but frankly it doesn't appear to matter much. Despite deploying Barber and Maroney last year, Minnesota finished 89th in punt returns and 91st in kick returns.
Either it's problems with the blocking schemes or Barber just wasn't much of a returner (he returned all but one punt and more kicks than anyone else), but Minnesota didn't get any big plays out of the return game all year.
Rating: N/A. The departed Rhys Lloyd handled both the kicking and punting duties last year, and several redshirt freshmen are battling for one spot or the other. It's mgoblog policy not to wildly speculate on kickers, who you just don't know about until they step on the field.
Minnesota starts off with a couple of cupcakes in Tulsa (though that game, bizarrely, is at Tulsa) and Florida Atlantic but sandwiched between them is a Colorado State team that is usually half decent. Minnesota handled the Rams last year and will probably do so again this year but there's at least a chance that one will be competitive.
Minnesota got the short end of the stick this year in the Big Ten , missing Northwestern and Illinois. While the Boilermakers are laughing and preparing their New Year's Day bowl plans, Minnesota faces a Bataan deathmarch of a Big Ten Schedule with only Indiana and possibly Wisconsin looking like breathers, and Minnesota lost to both of those teams last year. The Gophers must travel to Michigan and Iowa, though they do get Ohio State at home.
Keys to the Season
Find a pass rush. It doesn't matter if it comes from blitzing three guys every play. As noted, Minnesota's defense will probably be very bad, and the best way for a bad defense to get off the field is by making a big play and forcing the opponent into a situation where he only has one option. A highly aggressive Minnesota defense might give up some big plays, but if they lay back there's a good chance the opponent will march down the field anyway. Minnesota should rely on the offense to cover up mistakes and pin those cute Gopher ears back.
Diversify the passing game. Minnesota's offense is going to be good, but if the Gophers find themselves in a game where Maroney is getting stuffed, they won't be able to sustain drives by tossing it 30 yards downfield. Cupito needs to read coverages and make throws ten or fifteen yards downfield to make the Gopher offense capable of putting up points against great defenses.
Find some kickers. Minnesota is going to need all the points they can get this year and at least one game will hinge on the leg an as-yet-undetermined redshirt freshman. It would be good if he was, uh, good.
Worst Case: Cupito doesn't improve much. Neither does the defense. Minnesota still detonates against teams with flimsy defenses but can't hang with teams that feature one good unit and one decent one and ends up going 3-5 in the Big Ten to finish 6-5.
Best Case: Cupito's second year as a starter is marked by increased consistency and Mason lets him throw over the middle more, which he is surprisingly effective at. Wheelwright sheds his case of the dropsies and becomes a combination of Mike Williams and Braylon Edwards. The Gopher offense goes nuclear, but the defense still manages to blow a couple games. Minnesota finally beats Michigan and rides into the Citrus Bowl, praying that Maroney returns for a senior year and a Rose Bowl run.
mgoblog says... Swap Minnesota's and Purdue's schedules and I'd be slotting the Gophers in a BCS bowl, but both Michigan and Ohio State look capable of throttling the G
opher run game and scoring enough points on the other side of the ball to beat them. Against Michigan the Gophers had one 80 yard touchdown run by Maroney--and 109 yards the other 38 times they tried to run. That was largely because of Gabe Watson and Lamar Woodley, both of whom return for Michigan. Minnesota didn't play Ohio State last year but the card says that anyone attempting to run against the Buckeyes this year will be going uphill.
The Iowa, Michigan State, and Purdue games will be dogfights. Their outcomes will depend largely on the effectiveness of the Cupito-Wheelwright connection and how much the defense improves, if at all. I think Cupito and Wheelwright will both take big leaps forward this year but the defense will not. That should still be enough to make it to 5-3 in the Big Ten. mgoblog predicts that Minnesota beats MSU and one of Iowa, Purdue, or Ohio State but loses to Michigan and the other two BCS threats. 8-3(5-3), 4th Big Ten.
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