"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Prattville (AL) three-star ATH Keith Washington announced his decision to flip from Cal to Michigan in a ceremony at his high school this morning, and immediately faxed in his LOI. Washington, who mostly played quarterback at Prattville, will suit up at cornerback for Michigan. He becomes the 12th commit of the 2015 class and the first at his position.
|3*, #147 CB||3*, #26 ATH||3*, 75, #117 ATH||3*, 82, #118 ATH||
3*, #76 ATH,
Rivals is much more bullish on Washington than the other three recruiting services, which all have him well down the position rankings. He's listed at around 6'2", 170—great size for a corner as soon as he adds a little bulk.
Due to Washington mostly playing quarterback in high school, there isn't a ton on him as a defensive back. TideSports ranked him the #30 player in Alabama heading into the 2014 season and had this to say about his potential ($):
A tremendous athlete with excellent speed. Washington is a natural playmaker. He is dangerous on the offensive side of the ball and should become a great defensive back at the next level.
ESPN's rather scant evaluation covers his ability as both a receiver and cornerback ($):
Plays any skilled position he is asked to. Runs with it, catches it and defends from either the safety or corner spot. Is gifted enough that he can be thought of as either a WR or DB.
Is light on his feet, has balance, and can run away from defenders thus is a threat from most anywhere on the field. Also demonstrated as a defender he can run down a ball carrier. He makes plays.
The most complete scouting report comes from GoldenBearReport, Cal's Rivals outlet, which posted one after his commitment there ($):
Physically, he's long and lean; and he really doesn't have a frame suited for some of the physicality required of a safety. He's strikingly similar to Malik Psalms, with a wiry frame and really long arms. I'd venture to say that while their top end speed may be similar, Washington looks smoother than Psalms and has great acceleration. His ability to turn and chase is impressive with his closing speed. His height and long arms help him in press coverage and playing the ball, and he's a willing though unpolished tackler. He comes high into contact and gets away with it at the high school level, but will definitely need to add strength and technique to not only effectively bring down bigger and more physical ballcarriers in college, but also to disengage from blocks on screens or runs to the outside. Still, his athleticism makes him a natural in pass coverage. With the desire to be aggressive in contact seemingly already within him, the technique to do it well and do it right can be coached.
Washington will take some molding before he's ready to contribute, especially given his inexperience at the position, but he appears to have a lot of potential—6'2" corners with fluid athleticism don't come around that often.
Washington held offers from Cal, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (YTM), Mizzou, North Carolina, Northwestern, USF, and Wake Forest, among others.
Prattville has produced several FBS-caliber recruits in the Rivals era, most notably 2010 four-star Nick Perry, who started for the Tide at safety in 2014, and four-star 2012 athlete Justin Thomas, the starting quarterback in Georgia Tech's option offense.
Washington's stats mostly came on offense, where he passed for 1718 yards and 17 TDs and rushed for another 1201 yards and 20 TDs as a senior, per 247.
FAKE 40 TIME
Oddly, Washington participated in NFTC testing and did everything but the 40-yard dash. He did run an impressive 4.06 20-yard shuttle, indicating good acceleration and change of direction. His Scout spotlight lists a 4.3-flat, which gets four FAKEs out of five. He's fast, but that's elite NFL speed.
Defensive back highlights:
Full senior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Washington should redshirt while getting more acclimated to cornerback and add some strength. Only Blake Countess is set to depart after the 2015 season at corner, so it could take him a little while to work his way up the depth chart, though the move of Jabrill Peppers to safety opens up more of an opportunity. While there's not a lot to go on with Washington, he has all the physical tools to become an excellent player at the position.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now up to 12 commits and could take another corner if they desired should Jarius Adams want to join up. Other candidates to fill the remaining open spots are ATH Tyrone Wheatley Jr., DE Shelton Johnson, RB Mike Weber (everything seems to be up in the air with him), WR Van Jefferson, CB Iman Marshall, and LB Roquan Smith—the last two are longshots at best.
We're off and running:
— Adam Shadoff (@AdamShadoff) February 4, 2015
Sarasota (FL) Riverview RB Karan Higdon, who visited Ann Arbor last weekend, flipped to Michigan from Iowa this morning after it previously appeared he'd stay with the Hawkeyes. Higdon becomes the 11th commit in the class and the first at running back. According to Sam Webb, his decision won't affect that of Cass Tech RB Mike Weber.
UPDATE: Or not.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) February 4, 2015
|3*, #84 RB||3*, #45 RB||3*, 78, #70 RB||4*, 90, #29 RB||
3*, #40 RB,
Rivals and 247, especially the latter, are relatively high on Higdon, while the other two services have him as a lower-tier three-star.
Every site but Scout, which has him ten pounds lighter, lists him at 5'10", 180 pounds.
For a prospect who's made two earlier commitments (he also made an early pledge to USF), there's suprisingly little scouting out there on Higdon. Scout's Jamie Newberg has a free commitment capsule from when Higdon chose Iowa:
There is so much to like about Higdon. He’s pretty put together for his size. Higdon runs hard and is decisive. He’s not a dancer and you won’t see him going east-west but north-south. Higdon hits the hole and hits it hard.
Lets start from the bottom up. He has good feet, quick feet. Higdon has a strong lower body and runs with deceptive power. He’s thick up top and will only get bigger. I also like his vision. Higdon possesses good speed and quickness. He can also make defenders miss.
Higdon can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
A lack of top-end speed is Newberg's top concern. That's echoed in his ESPN evaluation, which likes his vision, shiftiness, and North-South running and concludes thusly ($):
Higdon is a productive inside runner with the burst to open up the run game outside but we do not see a big-play element at this stage. Could develop into an every-down back with added size and some growth but if that does not happen we see more of a complementary back who can fit into a number of schemes.
Hawkeye 247's Andrew Kulha has a detailed, free scouting report that you should check out in full. He's most impressed with Higdon's power and finish:
For as agile and quick is Higdon is at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds; he's still a very tough runner and you've gotta think that's what set him apart from other running back targets in the eyes of the Hawkeyes. He has strong legs that defenders bounce off of when trying to tackle low on him, he's not afraid to lower his shoulders, and he does a great job of using his off-hand to keep would-be tacklers off him. Whether it's a swipe, a rip or a pure stiff-arm, Higdon does a great job of using his off arm. He's almost too good at it, but we'll get into that later.
Higdon doesn't go down on first contact. In-fact, he runs through contact, which is something that you like to see from a running back prospect. He has a tendency to fall forward, which speaks to his awareness and maturity as a runner, and he has an above-average spin move that he utilizes to pick up extra yards.
Higdon may not be a home-run threat, but the rest of his game looks pretty solid; he might not wow you but he finds a way to get upfield.
Higdon held offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa Kentucky, Nevada, South Carolina, USF, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCF, and Wake Forest, among others.
Higdon is one of two three-star propsects to come out of Riverview, along with 2008 Central Michigan signee Jahleel Addae.
I couldn't find senior stats in a quick search. Scout says that Higdon rushed for 987 yards (5.3 YPC) and 15 TDs on 185 carries as a junior despite missing three games.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 4.5-flat, which gets four FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan has enough depth at running back that Higdon should be able to redshirt. From there he'll have to work his way into the rotation alongside Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith, Drake Johnson, and Ty Isaac. He could find an early role as a situational back before making a run at the starting job.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now sits at 11 commits, and despite the impending numbers crunch Webb stated they'd still take Mike Weber. Other potential signees include CBs Jarius Adams and Keith Washington, ATH Tyrone Wheatley Jr., DE Shelton Johnson, and WR Van Jefferson, with outside-at-best shots at CB Iman Marshall and LB Roquan Smith. Chris Clark already announced his decision for UCLA.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (far right) on his recent visit.
This post will be updated as new info comes in.
6 PM TUESDAY UPDATE: Added Shelton Johnson to the board.
7 PM TUESDAY UPDATE: Added Keith Washington to the board.
10 PM TUESDAY UPDATE: Added Karan Higdon to the board.
National Signing Day is tomorrow and the action gets started early for Michigan, as tight end target Chris Clark is slated to announce at 8:30 am ET. Here's eveything you need to know heading into the biggest day on the recruiting calendar.
The Current Class
Michigan currently sits at nine commits, headlined by in-state ATH Brian Cole—who's expected to end up at receiver, though he could also play safety—and New Mexico QB Zach Gentry, a recent flip from Texas. The list should hit ten by tomorrow; as you probably gathered yesterday, three-star Brother Rice WR Grant Perry, who was offered this week and decommitted from Northwestern last night, is expected to commit... well, any moment now.
The current list of propsects with offers and legitimate Michigan interest is down to eight prospects, including Perry. Here's the rest of the board, with their announcement time (if they've scheduled one) and my best guess at M's chances:
FL CB Jarius Adams (Rutgers commit) — 3-star, #125 CB, #1388 Overall (247 Composite)
Adams is a Rutgers commit who took an official to Michigan last weekend, and he's down to those two schools. He's actually expected to announce his destination sometime today, and it appears he'll stick with his current commitment.
CT TE Chris Clark — 4-star, #2 TE, #85 Overall
The one-time Michigan commit (and, previously, UNC commit) will choose between Michigan and UCLA at 8:30 am on ESPNU/WatchESPN. While Clark has been arguably the new staff's top target, insiders from both sides believe he's leaning towards UCLA. Of course, Clark's recruitment has been tough to predict all along, so we'll just have to wait and see.
TN WR Van Jefferson (Ole Miss commit) — 4-star, #11 WR, #108 Overall
Jefferson's recruitment is hard to pin down, as well. He committed to Ole Miss on January 25th, got a Michigan offer three days later, and took an official visit to Ann Arbor last weekend. Rumors swirled of a possible flip when he left campus, but a recent report from 247's Barton Simmons indicates he's expected to stick with the Rebels, albeit while leaving open the possibility that he'll change his mind.
CA CB Iman Marshall — 5-star, #1 CB, #4 Overall
The pipe dream. Marshall has long been expected to end up at USC and that hasn't changed despite a solid official visit to Michigan a couple weeks ago. Florida State is also a factor; after visiting FSU, M, and LSU, Marshall cancelled a planned official to Oregon. He's announcing his decision on ESPNU/WatchESPN at 4 pm ET.
GA LB Roquan Smith — 4-star, #5 OLB, #47 Overall
While there was a fair amount of optimism after Smith's official visit in January, spurred by his strong bond with DJ Durkin, that's all but vanished in recent days. Steve Lorenz reports that Smith is expected to choose between in-state Georgia and (of course) UCLA, with the Bruins the surprise favorite to land him ($). He'll announce at 11 am ET on ESPNU/WatchESPN.
MI RB Mike Weber (Ohio State commit) — 4-star, #9 RB, #78 Overall
The Cass Tech star has totally shut down communication with the media in recent weeks, and it doesn't seem like insiders on either side have a clear idea of what he's going to do. Since Weber sat down with Jim Harbaugh last week there's been increasing optimism from Michigan's end, however, and in the last day or so that's leaked over to the Ohio State side of things. We'll see.
NY ATH Tyrone Wheatley Jr. — 4-star, #12 TE, #312 Overall
Wheatley is another prospect who's gone quiet with the press, but an out-of-the-blue trip to Ann Arbor last week provided a great deal of hope that he'll join his father at Michigan. According to Lorenz, the team with the best chance of stealing Wheatley away from Michigan is, in fact, UCLA, who's come on strong of late ($). He's expected to announce around 3:15 pm ET tomorrow.
LATE ADDITIONS: FL DE Shelton Johnson — 3-star, #20 SDE, #364 Overall
Late Tuesday afternoon, 247's Clint Brewster reported that two sources are telling him Michigan has a legitimate shot with Johnson, who visited in January. Johnson is also considering Florida State (the presumed favorite) and Miami. He's high school teammates with Markel Bush, who could be in line for a late offer.
AL CB Keith Washington (Cal commit) — 3-star, #76 ATH, #954 Overall
This is a suprising name to add to the board, as Washington initially rebuffed Michigan and never visited campus, but I'm told he'll choose between M and Cal at 8:30 am ET.
FL RB Karan Higdon (Iowa commit) — 3-star, #40 RB, #478 Overall
Higdon will choose between Michigan and Iowa at 8 am ET, according to Hawkeyes247's Andrew Kulha, despite previously announcing that he'd reaffirmed his commitment to the Hawkeyes after taking an official visit to Ann Arbor last weekend.
Michigan has at least five open spots left in the class (assuming Perry takes a spot), and it doesn't look very likely that they'll get five players from the above group, so there's a decent chance we'll see a late offer or two go out, Dennis Norfleet-style. While the very nature of these offers make them pretty tough to predict, two names come to mind as potential candidates.
Unranked FL CB Markel Bush took an official visit a couple weeks ago; if Michigan misses out on Adams and Marshall, as expected, he could fill a need at corner. Bush doesn't hold any offers and would likely jump at the opportunity.
Cass Tech three-star LB/FB Michael Oliver, a Central Michigan commit, has come up as a potential late offer, and he could fill a need at either linebacker or fullback.
Mailbag: Late Game Threes, Basketball And Football Recruiting Reassurances, The Poisoned Chalice Of Access
Go for three against MSU?
Frustrated after the end of the MSU basketball game. Simple question...if you have the ball down 2 points, with the chance to take the last shot, wouldn't you give yourself a better chance to win the game by running the clock down and taking the best three point shot you can get within the last five seconds?
Simplistically, Let's say it has a 35% chance to go in, and that your win % if it goes in is 100%. The other option is go to go for a two point shot with time left on the clock. What are your odds of winning with that strategy? Much worse, right? I'm no math major, but to me the odds go like this:
- generously, a 50% chance of making the shot, which then...
- gives your opponent a possession to win. Call it 50/50 that they take advantage.
- even if they don't, all you get is overtime, which lets call another 50/50 shot.
Maybe you can run the numbers, but it seems like your win % is something like 12.5%. You need three toss ups to go your way.
I'll hang up and listen...
It's a bit more complicated than that.
- Michigan isn't just worried about what will happen if they score. They're also worried about what will happen if they don't. Michigan had 20 seconds left when Bielfeldt tipped the ball in. If that had gone the the other way they had an opportunity to force a turnover or get another bite at the apple in the event MSU did not knock down both free throws. Even an 80% shooter like Denzel Valentine gives you a shot at the game about a third of the time.
- Michigan's tying basket was a off an offensive rebound. Off a two, yes, but even if it was a three the ensuing putback is still worth two.
- Your chance at a putback is greater if you aren't shooting a jumper. In the NBA, shots within 6 feet get rebounded at a 37% rate; threes at just a 26% rate. (Threes are still better than long twos at 21%.) Albrecht's shot was a weird floater, one that saw Branden Dawson checking Bielfeldt at the FT line in an attempt to prevent a three—the nature of that shot greatly aided the subsequent putback.
- Your chances of an OREB are zero if you wait for a three at the buzzer.
- Last second threes are generally bad shots because the opponent is maniacally focused on the three-point line. Albrecht's three to bring Michigan within striking distance was a good example of the phenomenon. To get any sort of look he had to take the shot a few feet behind the arc. See also:
Given all that the decision is far less clear. I'd be totally on-board with an open look that came out of the context of the offense. I would prefer it to any non-gimme two. But waiting for a do-or-die three is not good eats.
I don't have a problem with the way regulation ended. In that situation the imperative is to have a good offensive possession, hopefully quickly, and Albrecht's quick take got a decent shot that put Michigan in position for an OREB without bleeding much time.
[After the JUMP: talking people off various recruiting related ledges]
Predictably, these metrics still have Wisconsin as the best team in the Big Ten, by far (source).
Fair warning: there’s going to be a lot of math in this post, so if you aren’t statistically-inclined, you might just want to skip this one. If you are, well, I hope you find this interesting.
After taking a look at consistency in last week’s Big Ten Hoops column, I wondered if there was a better way to quantify performance: that is, a better way to adjust a team’s performance based on their level of opponent. The idea is that a team’s performance – say, a game efficiency margin of +0.05 – should be more impressive against Wisconsin than against Rutgers; traditionally, that same performance would be +0.05 PPP against either team. I came up with an intuitive way to reflect a team’s performance based on their level of opponent.
Simply put, an individual team’s game score is the sum of these offensive and defensive equations:
Offense: ((Team’s offensive efficiency vs. Opponent X) – (Opponent X’s average defensive efficiency)) / (the standard deviation of offensive performance in Big Ten play)
Defense: ((Opponent X’s average offensive efficiency) – (Team’s defensive efficiency vs. Opponent X)) / (the standard deviation of defensive performance in Big Ten play)
It’s an intuitive metric: an adjusted offensive margin of 1 would be one standard deviation above the expected offensive performance given the quality of the opponent’s defense. By keeping offensive and defensive efficiencies separate, it’s a better way to determine the relative performances of teams on each side of the floor.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]
Grant Perry (foreground) warming up with Alex Malzone (#12)
After Deontay Burnett's coach jumped the gun Sunday in announcing a commitment to Michigan, one that fell through for reasons unclear, the Wolverines wasted little time in landing another wide receiver. Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice's Grant Perry announced his commitment this afternoon, becoming the tenth member of the 2015 class.
— Grant Perry (@TheGrantPerry) February 3, 2015
Perry, who'd previously been committed to Northwestern, is the second receiver commit (joining Brian Cole) and the second Brother Rice commit (joining Alex Malzone) in the class.
|3*, #59 WR||3*, #80 WR||3*, 76, #128 WR||3*, 85, #133 WR||
3*, #110 WR,
Perry is a three-star across the board, with Scout easily the most bullish on his abilities. All four sites agree that he's in the 6'0", 180-pound range.
By virtue of playing on a very successful Brother Rice squad and catching passes from Alex Malzone, there's plenty of scouting out there on Perry, including on this site. I watched Perry record seven receptions for 103 yards in an early-season victory over Warren De La Salle last fall:
Brother Rice WR Grant Perry (2015 target): Perry had an outstanding game, hauling in seven of his nine targets; one of those incompletions was uncatchable, while the second would've required a difficult one-handed catch. He and Malzone are clearly very comfortable playing with each other—they connected on several timing routes and when Malzone was in trouble, Perry was often the receiver working his way back to the ball to bail him out.
Perry runs precise routes and plucks the ball out of the air; he showed off soft hands. While he's not a gamebreaking athlete, he gets separation on defensive backs with sharp cuts and does a nice job getting upfield after the catch; he doesn't look like a major threat to juke a safety, but he finds a way to get solid yardage after the catch.
In a normal-sized class, I'd say Perry merits a Michigan offer, and even with the small class I wouldn't be surprised if he picks one up late in the cycle. The Wolverines could hold out hope that Perry, who holds a handful of MAC offers at this juncture, decides that he'd rather be a preferred walk-on at U-M, though with the way he's playing it wouldn't surprise at all if bigger offers took that off the table.
Scout's free evaluation lists size as his only weakness while praising his route-running, hands, and work after the catch:
Technician with quick feet who runs excellent routes, always seems to get open and has excellent hands. Rarely drops a pass and catches balls away from his body. Not a tall kid, but has added good weight and strength. Really improved after the catch as a senior. Fundamentally sound all-around, a competitive playmaker and a kid who will catch a lot of balls and move the chains in college. - Allen Trieu
Trieu listed Perry as one of the seniors on the rise in the Midwest after a strong start to the season. Just days ago, Scout's national analysts listed Perry as one of ten prospects expected to make an immediate impact in 2015. While that was when he was expected to end up on a Northwestern team in need of help at receiver, it still speaks to his polish as a high school receiver.
ESPN is skeptical of Perry as a big-play threat but really like his precision on routes ($):
Possesses a strong, smooth stride and plays with good lower body drive in traffic. Quick off the line and able to put immediate pressure on DBs with very good lateral quickness and change-of-direction. Is smart -- he finds soft spots and knows when to throttle down. Gets inside leverage and is efficient in scramble situations. A very nuanced route runner that is quick in and out of break.
They also praised his catching ability and projected him as a potential go-to guy—albeit a tweener Power 5 conference prospect—operating out of the slot.
After saying Perry finished just behind Good Counsel's Devin Judd for best receiver at Michigan's summer technique camp, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan scouted him multiple times over the course of his senior season, including a game against Detroit Country Day in which Perry caught eight passes for 133 yards and returned a punt 61 yards for a score ($):
What Perry continues to show this season is an explosive burst after the catch, allowing him to get downfield in a hurry and pick up yardage. For a 6-0, 185-pounder, that quickness and ability to gain yards with the ball in his hands will be important. ...
His punt return touchdown showed off his awareness of the blocking developing around him, as well as the speed up the sideline, to make big plays happen. It's been apparent that he can get open and catch the ball when it comes to him, and he's expanding his repertoire.
Perry seems destined for the slot, depending on how Harbaugh utilizes receivers in his offense, though his route-running and reliable hands could earn him a spot on the outside. I was thoroughly impressed by him back in September; he operated very intelligently within the Brother Rice offense, getting open frequently either on his initial route or improvising after a play broke down. He's also got a chance to contribute on punt returns, as he makes up for a lack of game-breaking athleticism by reliably catching the ball and working his way upfield.
Perry held offers from Northwestern, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Nevada, and Northern Illinois.
You're probably familiar with Brother Rice, which won three straight MHSAA Class 2 state titles from 2011-2013 under legendary coach Al Fracassa and produced 2015 early enrollee Alex Malzone and preferred walk-on Jack Dunaway. Their most successful recruit of the Rivals era isn't the highest-ranked—two-star Eastern Michigan DE T.J. Lang moved to offensive line and now is a starter on an excellent group for the Green Bay Packers.
Per 247, Perry caught 105 passes for 1727 yards (16.4 YPC) and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. Not bad.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a 40 time. He's got good initial burst off the line, and while he doesn't have blazing speed, he's pretty solid in the open field.
Single-game highlights from his game against De La Salle:
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
While Perry possesses the skills required to see the field early, Michigan is deep enough at receiver that he should be afforded a redshirt year. After that, he should work into the rotation in the slot, and I like his chances of being a significant contributor down the road, especially if Malzone eventually takes over at quarterback. While his size and lack of outstanding athleticism may keep him from being a superstar, he's got the ability to be a very reliable possession receiver who can break the occasional big play and also potentially make a mark as a punt returner.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Perry is the tenth commit in the class, and he may not be the last at receiver: Ole Miss commit Van Jefferson, who visited last weekend, is a candidate to flip on Signing Day. The most pressing needs heading into NSD are at running back, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. Michigan has five open spots to work with, and could potentially have one or two more with projected attrition.
For a much more detailed picture on the class outlook, check out the Signing Day Primer.