HAIR [Isaiah Hole/247]
As first reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by Steve Wiltfong, Michigan has picked up a commitment from 2017 Berrien Springs (MI) three-star DT Phil Paea, who visited Ann Arbor this weekend for the Spring Game. While Paea is ranked as the #13 in-state prospect on the 247 Composite, his offer sheet suggests he'll move up that list considerably; Paea chose the Wolverines over the likes of Notre Dame, Oregon, and USC. The Irish posed a particularly serious threat as Berrien Springs is only a half-hour away from South Bend.
Paea's commitment is an early feather in the cap for new director of player personnel Tony Tuioti:
A major factor in Paea's commitment to Michigan was director of player personnel Tony Tuioti, a Hawaii native who hit it off with the prospect on his first visit to campus last month.
"Coach Tuioti was a big factor in why my visit went so well," he told Wolverine247 at the time. "He really made me feel at home and showed me why Michigan could be a great place for me."
Paea is Michigan's tenth commit in the 2017 class and the first on the defensive line. He's also a cousin of current DT Bryan Mone; in addition to genes, they share similarly impressive hairstyles.
This post, along with Leonard Taylor's, will be updated in full on Monday, when there should be a good deal more scouting info available on both players.
How has the role of athletic director changed?
"Well, I don't know that the role has changed. The magnitude has grown in terms of salaries and the like but I think the people and the effort to really contribute to the success of these students on the student and athletic side is still there. So in the sense of the magnitude financially, particularly here, there's been a lot of growth.
"Actually, to your point, Drew, just this morning when I was in a meeting coach Berenson brought in an article from back in 1984 with the salaries of the coaches back then ,and he was looking for something and found it and thought I'd enjoy it and I did. At that time Bo Schembechler was making more than Don Canham, and it didn't surprise me. The amount he was paid surprised me back in that day compared to now, but I don't think things have changed much in terms of decision making, in terms of effort on the focus on helping these young people, the focus on helping them to produce success on the fields of play—I think those things are all still the same."
Is it harder though for an AD nowadays to take a backseat to more high-profile coaches?
"No, not for me. I never see it in—if you're truly a team there's times where I'll have to step to the podium and address things and there's times where coach Harbaugh and other coaches will be up front. I never have concern about who's in the front, who's in the back. As long as we're all in the same car moving forward I'm good with it."
"Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it."
Your thoughts on the extraordinary attention your old teammate Jim Harbaugh seems to draw, and how you see your role in working with him, overseeing him, [and] assisting him.
"Well, first and foremost, the Jim Harbaugh that I have known and know now is not the person who's out there seeking this for his own benefit. If the attention comes—it seems to come often—I don't think its…as I've talked to him over the last four or five weeks, it's nothing intentional he's doing to say, 'I want attention.' He's going to do things on Twitter, he's going to make the responses to questions the way he wants to do it, but there's nothing that he's doing to try to bring attention to him. I think he's doing what's in the best interest of the team.
"He's going to defend Michigan and Michigan football, and if that creates some attention, if the things he does to make this football team better create attention and that comes with it then he realizes that's just what's going to happen. He's doing it because—everything we've talked about that he's done he's doing because he thinks it's in the best interest of Michigan football, and for that, for me, I don't mind him getting the attention that he gets."
There's been a lot written about the transgressions, for example, or Syracuse and North Carolina in the Final Four. You've got a basketball program that's run by a guy that most people think is clean. What's the balance there? Obviously you want to win at the highest level but you don't want to get into those gray areas. How do you kind of walk that line?
"You do and you focus on doing the right things on a daily basis. And I'm not going to sit in judgment of any institution. They have people there that are trying to make sure that things are done the right way, and sometimes it happens that you don't. You deal with the penalties, you deal with the things that have to come out, and you move forward to get better.
"What we do is going to try and work at it on a daily basis to emphasize the things that are important. I tell people here all the time, we're here to focus on the academic success of our students; we're here to focus on developing them to win championships and compete for championships; we're here to develop them as young people and win and do all that within the rules, and lastly we're going to have fun doing it.
"I'm not going to comment or sit in judgment of other institutions because I know many of my colleagues across the country are trying to do those same things. Where there are issues you deal with them. You deal with them quickly and effectively and [inaudible because somebody coughed] so that they don't happen again."
[After THE JUMP: Satellite camps, whether there are changes needed in the department, Red's future, and the unexploitable Fitbit system]
2018 OH DE Leonard Taylor just pulled the trigger after Michigan's spring game:
— Leonard Taylor (@Lenny_T_20) April 2, 2016
Taylor is the teammate of OH LB Antwuan Johnson, Michigan's first 2018 commit, and an early top-25 prospect on 247, the only service with 2018 rankings at the moment. Scout doesn't have a list yet but does rate him a four-star DE; ESPN and Rivals haven't put up 2018 data yet. Validating that 247 ranking is an impressive suite of early offers including the big four in the Midwest (M, OSU, PSU, ND) and Tennessee.
He could end up on the DL or as a tight end; I didn't see any actual scouting at any of the sites yet. Steve Lorenz, who was predicting that Taylor might drop for Michigan, simultaneously warned that Michigan would have to fight to keep him. So keep that in the back of your mind; for now Michigan has struck first, and twice, in Ohio in the 2018 class.
I guess I need to include a SPOILER ALERT for those who weren't able to watch the live stream. If for some reason you want the ending of the Spring Game to be a mystery, and yet you still are on this blog, stop reading now. The full game re-airs at 9:30 on BTN.
Ty Isaac had the best night among the RBs. [Eric Upchurch]
The Maize team prevailed, 14-13, after a stunningly exciting finish for a Spring Game. After John O'Korn juked Mike McCray to cap off an impressive last-gasp drive for the Blue team, but the Maize defense stuffed a fullback dive by Henry Poggi on the ensuing two-point attempt to preserve victory. Your player of the game is Wyatt Shallman. I require no further justification than this:
I won't bother with a full recap, because SPRING GAME, but here are a few players on each side of the ball that stood out to me on first viewing—it was tough to follow line play from the box, so this is mostly going to focus on the skill positions and the back seven.
John O'Korn was at his best when on the move. [Upchurch]
Ty Isaac tallied 78 yards on ten carries, breaking off a few big runs on a night when none of the other tailbacks found much room to operate behind split-squad offensive lines. He ran patiently and chose the right moments to bounce runs outside. He's a major big-play threat with his speed/size combo.
The quarterbacks were steady, which is about all you can ask in a Spring Game, especially since the O-lines—which split starters between the two squads—were inconsistent in protection. Wilton Speight hit 5/6 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown; he added a six-yard rushing touchdown on a waggle and gained a first down with a 13-yard scramble.
John O'Korn didn't put up as pretty of a passing line, completing 6/14 passes for 93 yards, but he rushed for 28 yards and the late touchdown on seven carries. O'Korn did a nice job of buying time by breaking the pocket and picking his spots to scramble downfield. He also avoided any major mistakes. Shane Morris had an up-and-down showing at quarterback, hitting some nice throws but also hucking a pick to Dymonte Thomas in the end zone (more on that later) when he had a receiver open underneath for a first down. Morris moonlighted at receiver and picked up a 25-yard gain on the final drive when he got wide open on a mesh concept.
With Jehu Chesson out and Amara Darboh taking it easy, Grant Perry played the role of #1 receiver for the Maize squad and aquitted himself well. He beat a defender with a nice deep route that left Speight plenty of room on the sideline, then made an impressive catch—unfortunately, Speight's throw took him out of bounds. He had three actual catches for 30 yards; the reserve corners had a tough time sticking with him on intermediate routes.
TJ Wheatley had a drop over the middle, but he later hauled in a nine-yard catch and had impressive blocks against both Mike McCray and Jabrill Peppers(!) to spring Isaac for big gains. The hype train continues unabated. Ian Bunting looked pretty athletic on a 49-yard jaunt down the sideline after his defender got picked on another mesh route. Zach Gentry had a late 19-yard catch, though he's still far from ready to see the field.
Tyree Kinnel played well against both the run and the pass. [Upchurch]
Matt Godin stood out among the defensive linemen who played most of the game, taking advantage of getting lined up across from Juwann Bushell-Beatty—who had a rough go at left guard—to work his way into the backfield consistently. Taco Charlton also deserves a mention for blowing Grant Newsome back a few yards to stuff Isaac's first run; Charlton and Wormley both looked good before exiting early along with several other established starters, including Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis.
I liked what I saw from Mike McCray, who teamed up with Tyree Kinnel for a TFL that forced a Maize punt on a third-and-short run to the outside. Kinnel, meanwhile, looked great; he stuck with his mark in coverage and made a couple stops coming downhill against the run. If Michigan needs to put him out there at safety, he looks ready.
Speaking of safeties, Dymonte Thomas was not boring in the best of ways. On the interception against Morris, he covered a ton of ground to get to a throw intended for Jack Wanger at the back pylon—a perfect throw if Thomas weren't there—then held on after leaping for the pick. I didn't notice any coverage busts from him.
Jeremy Clark doesn't look ready to cede a starting spot to Channing Stribling. He broke up a couple passes, including one after blanketing Wangler on a streak route and forcing him into the sideline; Wangler was so well-covered that he couldn't gain separation even with an obvious push-off.
That's the best I could muster from first viewing in the press box. We'll have a lot more coverage in the week to come.
As One Does
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 1, 2016
It appears Jim Harbaugh is excited about the Spring Game. Or perhaps this weekend's slate of visitors. Or maybe he's just happy to be living the dream. Regardless, this is now my Twitter header photo. I called dibs. It's mine now.
2017 Spring Game Visitors
Steve Lorenz posted a full, free list of weekend visitors. Pretty much the entire 2016 class and several 2017 commits will be there, assuredly pitching Michigan to the uncommitted recruits.
Michigan will host a pair of running backs in top-50 USC commit Stephen Carr and New Mexico three-star O'Maury Samuels. Even with Kurt Taylor (who'll also be there) and AJ Dillon in the class, the coaches don't appears to be done recruiting the position. Carr might be a longshot; M looks to have a much better chance at Samuels.
New Jersey, as is now the norm, will be well-represented. Two Paramus Catholic four-stars, OLB Drew Singleton and DT Corey Bolds, have Michigan and Clemson out in front with the Wolverines presumed to hold the edge for both; while weekend commitments appear unlikely, M could solidify their standing atop their respective lists. Michigan will make their final push for four-star Princeton (NJ) Hun School DT Fred Hansard, who once looked like he was off the board but now is a distinct possibility to join the class when he announces his choice on May 14th. Three-star Bridgeton (NJ) ATH Markquese Bell included Michigan in his recent top ten and is also a decent bet to end up in the class.
The top center in the class, IMG-by-way-of-NJ four-star Cesar Ruiz, set off a potential commitment watch when he tweeted that "big news" is coming today at 5:30. He told Lorenz it wasn't recruiting-related, but Lorenz also noted that could be misdirection; I won't even try to venture a guess on April Fool's Day.
Other 2017 notables include top-100 AL WR Nico Collins, four-star IMG OLB Jordan Anthony, four-star IMG OT Robert Hainsey, three-star TX TE Major Tennison (Texas commit), and a trio of uncommitted in-state prospects: four-star DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, three-star DT Phillip Paea, and three-star ATH Allen Stritzinger.
One recruit has already wrapped up his visit this week. Three-star FL RB Mike Epstein, an Illinois commit, told MnB's Brandon Justice that Michigan made "a big jump" after he met the whole coaching staff and two of his high school's former quarterbacks, Jake Rudock and John O'Korn.
[Hit THE JUMP for 2018 visitors, new 2018 rankings on 247, an in-depth breakdown on AJ Dillon, and more.]
Jedd Fisch sometimes gives off a Peter Lorre vibe[Bryan Fuller]
On the roundtable this week:
- A lot of now-irrelevant Spike stuff.
- Hockey postmortem. Hire Mel.
- A spring game look-ahead.