Los Lunas (NM) running back O'Maury Samuels became the third commitment of a busy Spring Game weekend when he announced his pledge Sunday night. Michigan was the first major program to offer Samuels, whose stock rose quickly after an outstanding performance at the Dallas Opening regional in March. His visit sealed the deal:
“Man, it was fantastic,” Samuels told The Michigan Insider. “I loved the atmosphere. I loved the people around there. I loved the area. Their facilities were just great. I got to communicate with some of the players. They were nice. They told me how (things are) run things there at Michigan. I really like it out there. I got to talk to Coach Harbaugh and Coach Wheatley. We talked about how I could be their All-Purpose back for the 2017 class. They said they need one. “
“So I was like, hey, they need me. Why not?”
“They’re going to have a scat back, and all-purpose back, and a power back.”
Samuels is Michigan's 11th commit in the 2017 class and the third at running back, joining four-star AJ Dillon and three-star Kurt Taylor.
|4*, #23 RB||4* RB||NR RB||
3*, 89, #25 RB,
4*, #21 RB,
While they didn't hand out the same star rating, Scout and 247 both have Samuels in the same range in the positional and overall rankings—based on position rankings, Samuels sits just outside the Scout 300. ESPN hasn't ranked him at all. Rivals threw out a cursory post-commitment four-star rating but hasn't given him a position ranking yet; only 16 RBs in the 2017 class are ranked as four-star prospects or better on Rivals.
Samuels is listed in the 5'10", 190-pound rangs by three of the four sites; 247 gives him an extra inch. He's not a big RB; he's still got plenty of size for the position.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Three-star Berrien Springs (MI) DT/OG Phil Paea was the second of Michigan's three weekend commitments. A cousin of Bryan Mone, Paea holds an impressive offer sheet that includes the likes of Notre Dame, Oregon, and USC; it can be expected he'll move up from his current standing at the composite #13 player in Michigan.
Paea built an excellent rapport with Greg Mattison and director of player personnel Tony Tuioti. His comfort with the players and staff led to his commitment:
“Definitely it was the relationships around (Michigan),” Paea explained.” “It really means a lot. That was a big part of recruiting for me… the relationships with the coaches and players. The coaches, man… they’re great people. I would love to play for Greg Mattison. That’s what I want to do. Every time see him up here, every time I left… I just couldn’t pass it up again.”
Michigan State, Notre Dame—located a half hour away from Berrien Springs—and Oregon all stood out at various points in Paea's recruitment. Michigan overcame that with a couple of visits in quick succession. Before his commitment he had an unofficial visit scheduled to Oregon in a couple weeks; he told 247's Steve Wiltfong he's shutting down his recruitment and won't be visiting other schools.
“Now I can focus on school,” he said. “Get ready to play ball senior year and make sure it’s the best year I ever had and then get ready to be a Wolverine. I’m thinking about doing early enrollment to get to know the playbook and get settled in.”
Paea was the tenth commit in the 2017 class—four-star RB O'Maury Samuels since became the 11th—and he's the first defensive lineman.
|3*, #26 DT||3*, #13 OG||NR DT||
3*, 89, #25 DT,
3*, #32 DT,
Paea is ranked as a three-star to every site that's scouted him and he's close to four-star status—Rivals and Scout each have him one position rank away; 247 has him within four. Given his offers and his junior tape, he's a good bet to move up.
Paea has great size. He's listed at 6'4" (6'3" on Rivals) and 270-285 pounds. While Michigan is primarily looking at him as a defensive tackle, he could easily end up on the offensive line at guard or center:
“They’re looking at me on both sides of the ball, but I’m probably going to end up playing defensive tackle over there,” he said. “I’m a motor guy. Definitely I’m not going to take off any plays. I challenge myself and my opponents on every down.”
About that OL possibility: a current ACC head coach told Wiltfong he thinks Paea is a future NFL center.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
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Spring Practice Recap: Offense
Feelingsball to start. QB battle for real. Hello Ty Isaac. Wide receivers? Ace deploys the word "shambolic," and is not talking about the offensive line!
Spring Practice Recap: Defense
starts at 27:53
Backups mostly but we can still infer some things. Tyree Kinnel can play. Still on board with Jeremy Clark over Stribling. Mike McCray is major key emoji.
Gimmicky Top Five: Worst Adidas Atrocities
starts at 45:24
There are no surprises at the top. We do posit a darts Champions' League theme.
Inside The Crooked Blue Line w/ Steve Lorenz
starts at 55:02
Steve talks Michigan's recent commits and the massive visit weekend that just completed. We also remember Jabroni of the Week. Score. The very first ever will SHOCK you. Probably.
"Across 110th Street"
My Morning Jacket — The Day Is Coming
Blind Melon — No Rain
Planet Funk + A Pub Of Drunk Darts Enthusiasts — Chase The Sun
THE USUAL LINKS
Moments after the dramatic conclusion of the Spring Game, potential five-star 2018 jumbo athlete Leonard Taylor committed to Michigan, becoming the second touted rising junior from Springfield (OH) High School to join the class. Instead of working from behind for 2016 and 2017 prospects, Jim Harbaugh and Co. have made a concerted effort to hit the 2018 class in Ohio hard, and it's paid off with early commitments from Taylor and his four-star linebacker teammate, Antwuan Johnson.
One can never be too careful this time of year; so TomVH asked Taylor about the legitimacy of the commitment:
Also, just in case, I asked Leonard Taylor if the commitment was an April Fool's joke (I have to) and he replied with "hell no."
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 2, 2016
That is the correct answer.
|4* DE||NR TE||NR TE-Y||
4*, 95, #3 DT,
5*, #3 DT,
It's still early on in the process for 2018 recruits. Only 247 has complete rankings and they're being (understandably) stingy about handing out a fifth star—Taylor is ranked in what would easily be five-star range by Signing Day, to the point that he's given that extra star in the composite rankings even though they're just a replication of 247's rankings right now. Scout hasn't released full rankings yet but they still felt compelled to list Taylor as an early four-star recruit.
Taylor is a big athlete who could land at a number of positions; he's listed as a tight end, strongside DE, or defensive tackle depending on where you look. At either 6'5" or 6'6" and 240-250 pounds, he has a huge frame capable of holding a lot more weight. How he develops physically over the next couple years will go a long way towards determining his future position.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
First, a little feelingsball
Spring games are notorious for being a little data amidst an ocean of noise, so as always take everything here with a grain of salt. And this section isn't even a concrete observation about a player, so doubly so here. But… my favorite thing that happened on Friday wasn't a play.
It was the aftermath of the two-point conversion, when the white team poured onto the field like they'd just won the Super Bowl and blue team coach Chris Partridge roared off the sideline to have a Harbaugh-level conniption fit at the ref.
A couple other coaches reacted similarly, if not as dramatically, as Partridge; the white team organized at midfield for a photo. Wyatt Shallman headbanged like there was no tomorrow. Drake Johnson collapsed in a heap.
Drake Johnson collapses on the field after his team gets stopped on a potential game-winning 2-pt. conversion. pic.twitter.com/Beyur1LaIW
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) April 4, 2016
I tweeted to Ace that he should title the recap "Controversial finish mars Spring Game ending,"* because that was funny. It's only funny because it's kind of true.
This is a different thing now. Last year's team was good but it was still caught between being a program that apologizes for a tent stake and a program whose DGAF levels are off the charts. Judging from the reactions of everyone involved on both sides, the all-competition-all-the-time ethos has sunk in. That more than anything else makes me anticipate the upcoming season.
This concludes your feelingsball portion of the program.
*[He did not, and I was all like ಠ_ಠ.]
[After THE JUMP: position by position breakdowns of what we learned on offense]
Tonight's spring game obviously another primetime event, something new for the school. As you guys continue to do new things, how do you balance that with the tradition and expectations at a school like Michigan?
"Well, I think you try something, you see how it works, you see what it brings, what it brings to the team and the staff and what they're trying to do. I don't know the thinking of Jim as it relates to—we haven't talked about the spring game on Friday, whether that's something that he wants to do consistently or if he's trying something out this year and so we'll be there and see how it goes and see what comes of it and see what the feedback is from it, but it doesn't bother me that it's a nighttime spring game. The tradition's been normally, what, Saturday at 1 o'clock or 12 o'clock or something like that? You know, it's done differently at different places and this is something that he wanted to try and we'll see how it goes."
Speaking of night football, you recently expressed an affinity for football games in the daylight. Do you anticipate that that will influence schedules in future years, and some of your predecessors anticipated influence from the Big Ten wanting Michigan to play more night games—your thoughts in that area, too?
"It could be that we play more night games in the future. We talked about it this year as I was coming in and made the decision that this year we wouldn't have a night game at Michigan Stadium. You know, I was told—because I'm not a Twitterer—that I was getting heat because I said that I didn't like playing games at night, jokingly said that because if people would have heard the other part of what I said I said because I played for Bo, who thought you should always play at 12 or 1 o'clock. In my career as an athletic director and athletic administrator I played a lot of night games. I'm not against them, but in the discussions that I had with many upon walking through the door it was decided that we didn't want to play a night game here this year.
"So whether they'll be played in the future, I'm not against them. I think some of our fans like them, and I think I heard some of our fans that would prefer day games but I know our fans love Michigan football and whether it's played in the day or it's played at night they want to see our team have success.
"Last year we played a significant…I shouldn't say significant. How many night games did we play on the road last year? Three. I know the fans are interested in night games, but that's really taxing, particularly coming back late at night for the team, those kind of things. So we considered a lot before we said we wouldn't have a night game this year, but in the future there could be night games at Michigan Stadium in the future."
There's been a lot of talk two years ago after the Shane Morris concussion incident of increased safety measures and then talk about that here and there since then. Have you gotten a chance to evaluate those and do you have any plans for changes there?
"We're going to constantly evaluate the safety protocol for our student-athletes. It's something that we did obviously with that incident being so nationally prominent [and] that you do, but we're going to constantly look at the protocol. Not only in-game protocol but practice.
"I know coach Harbaugh and the staff and the medical staff are monitoring and talking about impact not only of concussions but injuries during practice. The coaches are constantly aware of how much practice and hitting is going on. They're monitoring that for the good of their team, of the individual student-athlete.
"The protocol is set but we're going to continue monitoring that to make sure it's where it needs to be for the safety of our student-athletes across the board. So yes, I'm confortable with where we are now and I'm comfortable that we will continue to evaluate all measures of safety for all of our student-athletes to make sure that it's the best that it could be."
How and when will you officially launch the Nike apparel, and for you, when you saw the Jumpman logo on football, is that cutting edge in your mind, that deal that was cut?
"Yeah. Officially Nike becomes our apparel supplier August 1st. We're proud of the relationship that we had with Adidas, but on August 1st we will officially again become a Nike apparel school and at that point in time the staff—I haven't had but I will have a breakdown of all the things that are being planned, but on August 1st, at that point in time is when we will celebrate the relationship or right around that date, don't hold me to it. But August 1st is the date we officially become a Nike school again."
[After THE JUMP: Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, them boys up for discussing committable offers and transfer policies]