FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill.
|Novi, MI – 6'3, 250|
4*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
OSU, MSU, Cinci, Syr
or Mike Alstott
or Tim Jamison
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Ace interview. Ace scouts CC vs OLSM.|
|Notes||Detroit CC (Mike Martin). Twitter.|
There is also a sophomore reel.
Wyatt Shallman is the weirdest multipurpose offensive tool Michigan acquired in this class, mostly because it took everyone—including me—about six months to believe he was an offensive tool at all. The recruiting sites considered him a defensive end before he committed. When 247 debuted its 2013 rankings, Shallman was #149 as a DE. On Rivals, he was in the same range at the same spot.
Shallman is at his best running North-South, and while he doesn't have top-flight speed, he does get to the second level of defenders in a hurry. When he reaches the back seven, he has a tendency to put his head down and try to bowl defenders over, which often works but also limits his big plays—to his credit, however, there wasn't a single run in which Shallman didn't fall forward for at least an extra yard or two.
I was impressed … with Shallman's agility. He's not going to utilize a lot of fancy jukes or spin moves, but his go-to move—the quick jump-cut as he approaches an oncoming defender—worked really well for him. Shallman isn't going to make a lot of guys completely whiff at the next level, but he's shifty enough to get defenders off-balance, and with his power that's enough to shed tackles—Inkster defenders were bouncing off of him all night.
…because guys who are near top-100 players at defensive end play defensive end, end of story. Catholic Central coaches had to make some hard decisions about Shallman when he spent most of his junior and senior years battling hamstring injuries; they used him mostly as a defensive end, exclusively so for a large chunk of his senior year. Tim Sullivan caught CC's game against Brother Rice and saw zero snaps for Shallman on offense. When ESPN noted him as a standout from the road last year, it was after a two-sack game on defense.
But Michigan isn't totally crazy here. Ace caught games from Shallman as a junior and senior and though he made a lot of progress as a DE, Ace still thinks he's best on offense. When OSU offered him, it was as an H-back. His trainer is Mike Barwis, and Barwis makes it sound like he's got potential:
"Physically, he's impressive," Barwis said of Shallman. "Kids his size tend to be sluggish and lumber, but he is very explosive. That isn't common." …
"If someone is looking for a big power back and they want to slam it down their throat, he can do that," Barwis said. "He's going to be a big, explosive, fast, power back. We did that with Owen Schmitt at West Virginia.
"You have your stealth speed back like Steve Slaton, and the next thing you know you give the ball to this tank and he's running a 4.6, hits you in the mouth, and he's gone."
In Michigan's case, they'll have Power A and Power B (and Power C, probably), but you get the idea.
ESPN went back and redid Shallman's profile last February, focusing almost exclusively on offense—and probably going off junior tape:
Has great size and athleticism for the fullback position at the major level of competition; in fact we definitely see tight end potential. … Shows good flexibility, agility and balance as a ball carrier; for his size, he displays good vision and quickness getting up into the line from a regular fullback alignment; can pick and slide while continually gaining ground up to the second level; flashes the wiggle to make first tacklers miss in space however he lacks the burst or second gear needed to clear traffic and break into open space. This guy is a tough between the tackles, power runner capable of moving the pile and shortening the game in the fourth quarter. Does a good job blocking off the edge; brings his feet, rolls his hips and blocks through opponents.
Receiving is the main area for improvement.
Shallman's coach echoes the ESPN eval:
"As a running back, he's got very good speed," Mach said. "He's powerful. He's got the ability to break tackles, not go down on the first hit and get the extra yard. I think he'll be a tough running back."
And Scout does as well:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Light on his feet for a big man, Shallman projects as a big tailback at times and a fullback at others. Is a good athlete who catches the ball out of the backfield well. Good lateral quickness and agility for a kid who's 245-lbs. Will need to continue to learn and improve as a blocker, but does a solid job in that department as well. Has dealt with some injuries in his career.
Michigan may actually be a little crazy, actually, because their pitch to Shallman was running back, emphasis on "run":
"A lot of these teams were saying H-back or possibly even tight end," Shallman said. "So when he said, 'We want you at running back, we want you at tailback,' that really struck home."
One thing the Michigan coaches really like about Shallman is his size. Jackson told Shallman that it was rare to find someone with a body like Shallman's who is as explosive as he is.
Later Shallman would slighly clarify that running back would be amongst a number of positions he would feature at:
What the coaches have told him about when/where he'll be playing: Running back, U-back position where I can play tight end, fullback, running back.
Months of Shallman insisting Michigan saw him as a running back eventually caused three of the four sites to rank him as one of the top fullbacks in the nation; Rivals, the holdout, tossed him in the ATH pile. He held on to a fourth star because of his potential as a pure athlete, and ended up the top fullback because nobody saw him as a tailback and fullbacks don't get four stars. It's a little incoherent, but I feel for the sites on this one.
So… defense. When Shallman committed Michigan was yet to acquire the services of DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, two highly-rated tailbacks who figure to push piles about as well as Shallman while bringing more big play potential to the table. Meanwhile, fullback/H-back is plenty crowded with Houma, Kerridge, and Hill currently also underclassmen.
Since the rest of those guys seem exclusively RB/FB types, it would not surprise to see Shallman move to the defensive end spot a lot of sites had him ticketed for before his commitment. There, he is probably the best fit at WDE. Notre Dame was recruiting him as a "CAT" linebacker, their equivalent in a nominally 3-4 system:
“They like me at the CAT linebacker position – which is kind of a linebacker/defensive end hybrid and a pass rushing specialist in their defense,” Shallman said. “They think my size and athleticism really translates well to that position.”
I'll spare you the digression on how ND's 3-4 isn't really that far from Michigan's 4-3 under down to the LB/DE hybrid, as that's beyond the scope of this post. SAM and SDE are also possibilities, with SAM more likely than SDE, where Shallman will always be undersized.
On defense, he's got pass-rush upside. Barwis shouldn't have dragged this guy out, but Barwis did so Barwis:
"The thing that makes him a unique prospect is that he's extremely quick twitch and explosive," he said. "Brandon Graham is a freak athlete, but Brandon is extremely quick twitch. This kid has that as well. Not to the degree that Brandon did when he went to the NFL, but I didn't see him when he was 15, either."
Josh Helmholdt caught DCC's 2011 opener (ie, Shallman's junior year) against Fordson, in which he impressed:
At times he looked to be protecting the leg, but mostly he went all out and looked sharp. His athleticism for a big prospect is outstanding and his speed is well above average for the defensive end position. We're still not sure if tailback is an option in college, but Shallman is definitely a high-end defensive prospect with a great motor.
Ace caught the OLSM game and came away with a glimpse at a mini-RVB:
Shallman is quick off the snap and plays much lower than he did last year, and he did an impressive job of getting leverage on his blocker and using his hands to break free; I didn't see him get pushed back more than once or twice on Friday. …
Perhaps most impressive was Shallman's ability to fight off blocks, as St. Mary's tried to cut him all night. He displayed great balance in fighting off low blocks; I don't remember him getting cut to the turf once.
Sullivan caught a game against an all-run Brother Rice offense:
Shallman had the strength to bull through offensive linemen - impressive for a guy who is probably not a lineman in college - and was able to two-gap his blocker on several occasions, maintaining leverage for runs that went to either side of him. On the pass rush, he was quick off the ball, and though he didn't have a wide range of moves to get by his blocker, he was able to harass the passer, even if it only resulted in one sack.
That' doesn't mean Shallman was perfect. … he was sometimes lackadaisical in pursuit down the field, and didn't show off a high motor. He also displayed only flashes of a killer instinct and defensive mentality.
Not sure if that's the persistent injury. Both of the other evaluations praise Shallman's motor.
The injury thing is a thing: after two solid years of hamstring issues you have to worry if that might become a chronic issue. Michigan might do well to give the guy a bit of an easier year just so he can get totally recovered before throwing him in the fire.
“I like anything that big, that strong, that fast,” Jackson said of Shallman. “I talk to a few people where he worked out and they said he is the most powerful guy that they have ever seen at that young age.”
This man must be a running back.
Why Aaron Shea? Well, yeah:
Hoke compared Shallman (who measures at a whopping 6-foot-3, 245 pounds) to Aaron Shea, a former Michigan fullback and tight end who went on to play in the NFL. The Wolverines like his ability to be multidimensional on the field -- someone who will be effective in multiple facets such as knocking people off the ball, catching out of the backfield and usage as a single back.
A (slightly) converted tight end, Shea was more on the Khalid Hill end of things, though. Shallman may find a niche as a pounding even-more-thunder back a la Mike Alstott or Owen Schmitt. Dare we say Toby Gerhardt?
Guru Reliability: Low. Most are in the same range but it's clear they've punted on actually ranking him by thrusting him into the FB spot like they did Brandon Minor. Meanwhile, extensive injury and a total lack of camps mean I don't put much stock in their rankings even if they do like the guy.
Variance: Very high. Could be anything from Mike Alstott to Owen Schmitt (minus the self-helmet bashing, probably) to Aaron Shea to Tim Jamison to Guy Who Doesn't Play At All.
Ceiling: Moderate? Doesn't seem to have out-and-out star potential anywhere, but could develop into a fringe All Big Ten player on either side of the ball.
General Excitement Level: Moderate? I punt. Likely to be a contributor somewhere, though.
Projection: I'd imagine a redshirt is likely what with the multiple injuries and lack of offensive snaps as a senior. He is in the range of guys who get drafted on to special teams, though.
After a presumed redshirt year, your guess is as good as mine. WDE appears to be in good hands for the next few years, but so does RB/FB. Is he going to take carries away from Derrick Green? Is he going to take U-back snaps from a considerably more advanced receiver in Khalid Hill? Given Shallman's athleticism the answers there are "maybe situationally." His best bet early is proving himself more of a dual threat than his challengers at U-back—ie, Kerridge can't be a threat as a receiver, Hill can't block, Shallman is less of a tipoff when he's in. Or playing defensive end. Or, I don't know, making omelets at Bursley. Multifunctional.
I'm back from parts unknown—okay, Phoenix—with definitive proof that TomVH, not myself, is the recruiting analyst with the vacation-commitment curse (or gift, depending on your perspective). It's been mostly quiet on the recruiting front for the past week, save for Michigan finally pinning down a big-time visit.
Roll Out The
Red Blue Carpet
LA RB Leonard Fournette would like some extra barbeque with his barbeque, please:
New Orleans (LA) St. Augustine 2014 running back Leonard Fournette has been talking about visiting Michigan for some time now.
On Sunday, Wolverine247 insider Steve Lorenz confirmed that Fournette, the Nations top running back, will visit Michigan for an extended visit next week.
This year's BBQ at the Big House is a two-day event slated for Saturday/Sunday; Fournette will arrive in Ann Arbor on Thursday and spend the weekend — accompanied by both of his parents, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($). Fournette and his family remain adamant that the nation's top back doesn't have any leaders despite everyone expecting the Louisiana native to stay in the Southeast. Michigan is still a longshot and I will continue saying that until there's very concrete evidence to the contrary; Fournette staying for a long weekend with his parents, however, certainly indicates serious interest.
Fournette won't be the only 2014 running back in attendance at the BBQ; Michigan has long been among the top schools for New Jersey three-star Jonathan Hilliman, whose offer sheet far outstrips his current rankings — he'll be in town this weekend, but the Wolverines have ground to cover, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
Hilliman's top five schools were, in no order, Ohio State, Alabama, Rutgers, Michigan and Vanderbilt but he already knows of one school that will make it to the next round.
"I'm going to cut down to three," he said. "Ohio State is still the leader. We're keeping in contact and it's easy for me to see how interested they are. I know Ohio State is going to make the cut and most likely Rutgers will also but I want to see how the visit goes. I'm not sure of which school will be that third one.
The BBQ gives Michigan a good chance to be that third school; Ohio State is obviously the team to beat. I'll have the full rundown on BBQ visitors on Thursday, once I've had a chance to settle back in and more recruits confirm whether or not they'll attend.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on early enrollees, the latest on Adoree' Jackson, and updates on several underclassmen, including Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and the two choice eliminations from his recruitment.]
Effective at the end of the season, Michigan's iconic equipment manager Jon Falk will retire.
Falk was formed in the strata underneath Ann Arbor sometime in the late Cretaceous era and unearthed by Fielding Yost during the construction of Michigan Stadium. Falk handed Yost a winged helmet, and was offered a job. In the intervening epoch he has equipped Michigan football players head to toe as they won more games than any other program, and at least part of this paragraph is factual.
Some more fact-like facts from the press release:
“I remember the day that Bo Schembechler interviewed me and said that working at the University of Michigan would present great opportunities for my career,” said Falk. “He offered me the position but I decided that staying home to care for my mom and grandmother was more important. My mom woke up at 4 a.m. and came to me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘Jon, you are going to Michigan. Bo and the University of Michigan are going to take care of you and this will be a great career move.’ As I reflect on my nearly 40 years at Michigan, I have been fortunate to work with some great coaches, administrators and thousands of players. After talking with Dave Brandon about my retirement, I realized that Bo and my mother were right. Dave and Michigan have taken care of me. I’m appreciative of all that I learned, was a part of and contributed to at Michigan. This is a special place and I will always love Michigan and Michigan Football.”
“Jon has given so much of his life to Michigan Football and we are all grateful to him for his dedication, passion and loyal service to our championship culture,” said head coach Brady Hoke. “He is a big part of this program and his colorful personality will be missed around Schembechler Hall, Michigan Stadium and on the road in opposing venues. We are happy that Jon will be able to enjoy retirement with his wife Cheri and family, but that is on hold until he helps us chase another Big Ten Championship this fall.”
Also, Cathy Schembechler:
Cathy Schembechler, Bo’s Widow
It is virtually impossible for any former Michigan football player from the past 40 years to talk about Michigan football and not have the name ‘Big Jonny’ pass their lips. He's easily the most important guy at Schembechler Hall that you can talk to today if you want to know about Michigan tradition. One of my favorite things to do when I go back to Ann Arbor is to sit in Big Jon's office and listen to him tell stories ... Bo stories especially. Even though I think he's softened up just a little over the years, he's still a man whose respect you have to earn, no matter who you are ... and he's loyal to a fault. His impact on and contributions to Michigan football will never be forgotten.
The full thing has many more quotes and is behind the jump.
[UPDATE via Ace: Falk talks retirement on mgoblue's un-embeddable video player]
Deal with it. Is this off topic? Yes.
my world cup future's so bright I've got to wear shades thrown at me by irate Salvadoreans
But it gives me a chance to mention that you guys who make college football topics—topics about OHIO STATE—and make them off topic are just as bad as a guy who makes a pokemon thread and declares it on-topic. This section has gone from off topic to META:.
Bombs away. Mike Slive took some soft shots at the NCAA during his SEC Media Days appearance, but he's got nothing on new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who just got off the podium at his conference's event. Choice quotes (or paraphrased quotes) from twitter:
- "Realignment will never be considered one of our proudest moments."
- Bowlsby says big conferences don't want to get rid of the NCAA altogether. That's true. They don't want to stage another softball tourney.
- Bowlsby's remarks are measured but aggressive about the NCAA's lack of innovation. Echoing Slive, sans historical references.
- "The time has come to think about federation by size and scope"
- "I really think we need to reconfigure the leadership in the organization."
- "It's time to reevaluate our core purpose."
- “I’m not critical of Mark Emmert. I’m critical of an organization that is just not very efficient.”
The glove has been removed, and used to slap.
Bowlsby's comments come on the heels of ACC comissioner John Swofford floating the idea of a "super division" that would separate the Indiana States from the big programs, allowing those larger programs to make changes that would make the enterprise somewhere between a bit and significantly less icky.
"That's a potential way of making a change that would basically retain the fundamental NCAA oversight and umbrella, if you will," Swofford said. "If the five conferences were to break off, I mean, that's a complicated move. You'd have to, in essence, duplicate the NCAA in some form or fashion, and then what does that mean for intercollegiate athletics? So if you've got another division, if that's the answer within the NCAA, you can maneuver and find an appropriate way, I think, to address those kinds of issues."
Dollars to donuts Scott and Delany follow up with agreement; these guys don't yawn without a focus group about it and if all three are taking potshots at Emmert and company, there was meeting. With cigars.
Next time read the wall? OSU starting RB Carlos Hyde is a person of interest in an assault that had twitter and message boards abuzz the last couple days. Not helping is Aaron Hernandez and the legion of guys itching to write COLUMNS about Urban's corrupting touch with youth, but the vibe I get is that it's pretty bad. "Sources" tell the Dispatch Hyde is gone, so… yeah. Bad.
Dude, next time read the wall.
I'll take "things you don't have to tell Brady Hoke recruits" for $1000, Alex
OSU is also looking into an incident with corner Bradley Roby in Bloomington over the weekend, the Dispatch says. He was arrested for "battery resulting in bodily injury." Not a good weekend for the Buckeyes.
If gone, Hyde will be replaced by Rod Smith, who's a lot like Hyde, and sophomore Brionte Dunn. The dropoff there would not be huge. Roby would be a different matter, since top-half-of-the-first-round cornerbacks don't grow on trees. Sounds like Roby's thing is more of a two-game suspension kind of thing, though:
Sources told The Dispatch he was asked to leave a bar after a disturbance, refused, and was subdued by bouncers at the bar before being taken into custody.
Unless that bodily injury is ripping a guy's heart out through his chest, he'll hang on.
Random old-ish thing. 1995 ad for M/OSU, amongst other things:
Tim Biakabutuka would go off for 313 yards in a 31-23 victory.
Well, maybe. Michigan and Ohio to face off in a high school all-star game, replacing both the intrastate Michigan game and the now-defunct Big 33 matchup. It's scheduled for June 14th, 2014, which is after the date when Michigan freshmen coming up for summer enroll, AFAIK. Apparently it can't be any earlier because the MHSAA, which remains as up-to-date as a Model T, will kibosh the eligibility of anyone who participates in such a thing before things like track end.
Michigan has always been a little iffy on letting their freshmen participate in such things, and I don't think they'll be fired up to put their recruits through a live-contact game six weeks before the season.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt.
|Detroit, MI – 6'2", 235|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#32 TE, #21 MI
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#8 H-back, #9 MI
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#31 TE, #14 MI
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Ace scouts East Village.|
|Notes||Transferred from Crockett to East Village Prep, FWIW.|
Recommend the John Woo-approved touchdown at 20 seconds. Also, Scout's Josh Newkirk put together a reel of his performances at one 7-on-7 tourney that's impressive both for its length and some of the catches Hill brings in:
We're in the thick of this year's crop of hybridized, NFL-style versatile offensive players. You know, the guys that will let Michigan crank you from a big formation on one play and flip to a four-wide the next with limited personnel switching. Khalid Hill will live in the heavier end of Michigan's formations, moving to and fro across the line of scrimmage, blocking and heading out into pass patterns. SB Nation has an excellent primer on Hill's job description I recommend you take in all of, but the short version from the man who kind of invented the spot himself:
This takes you back to [former Redskins Coach Joe] Gibbs' description of the modern H-back: "An H-back has to have good hands and be super smart."
Bonus items include bone-shattering blocking (taken for granted at the NFL level, I imagine) and the ability to get vertical from time to time; Hill hits on at least a few of these categories. According his coach, he has them all…
"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."
…but coaches tend to get excited about their kids. To the scouts!
The one he's definitely got: hands. Virtually every report I've collected praises them first off. 247's Clint Brewster:
The first thing that really jumps off the tape about Hill is his catching radius. He can scoop a pass up off of his shoelaces or go up and make a tough catch well over his head. Hill also has good arm extension when making a catch, not allowing the ball to get close to his body. Hill is quarterback friendly and really makes an inaccurate pass look easy to catch with his natural adjustments. After the catch Hill shows an excellent burst of speed and can really make a bigger defender miss a tackle or plow over a smaller one. Hill does a great job of getting vertical on seam routes when lined up in the slot or attached at the line of scrimmage. Hill runs precise routes, really getting good separation from his opponent with sharp cuts and head nods.
Regardless of how he lines up he can help move the chains as a receiver. He has good hands and demonstrates that he can consistently extend for the ball. … good quickness and is active with his hands in working to clear past defenders who may try and hinder his release. He is a solid route runner best suited as a short-to-intermediate target. He has solid speed, but comes across as a kid who is a little quicker than fast and doesn't look to possess the ideal long speed to be a vertical threat. After the catch he will quickly get turned up-field and fight for what he can get.
You'll note an almost total lack of blocking notes in both evaluations above, and that's for a reason: ESPN says that's an area that "could use some real development."
But back to the receiving. Ace took in East Village Prep's opener, in which Hill went for a 65-yard TD, and reported back:
Hill's first catch of the season was a slant route that he took 65 yards for a touchdown; the throw was slightly behind him, but he reached back and plucked the ball out of the air without breaking stride, then turned on the burners and outran the entire Oak Park secondary. It was a very impressive effort that showed off Hill's potential as a receiver.
Hill looked very comfortable working over the middle, whether he lined up at tight end, H-back, slot, or wide receiver; he's at his best finding open space in the heart of the defense. His hands look good as well, as he caught everything thrown his way, making sure to catch with his hands instead of his body. When running routes, Hill showed why he earned a Michigan offer.
That is a piece of skill Michigan fans have recently seen out of Drew Dileo in a guy 50 pounds heavier and a half-foot taller: a rare quality. But back to the blocking issues.
However, Hill ran into problems when asked to run block. He had a difficult time staying engaged with defenders and knocking them off the ball; on several occasions, he never found someone to block at all.
Is it good news that Hill was such a valuable receiver as a high school player that his blocking can lack so badly? Well… maybe. In hybrid land a lot of these guys get picked for the one skill they have because coaches think they can fix the other bit. As we learned with Funchess last year, though, a mismatch guy is only a mismatch if he can block.
Once Hill can do that, though, he has potential to "surprise" defenses. Another recurring theme in the evaluations is continued references to his surprising—always surprising—athleticism. Scout's eval:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
Hands and Concentration
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Stocky kid with surprising quickness and athleticism for his build. Very light on his feet, has great route running skills and ability to catch the ball as a tight end or H-Back. Soft, reliable hands and good run after the catch schools. Will have to learn to block potentially from the backfield as he may see time there in college. Not your traditional tight end at 6'2, but has the skills to be a matchup problem. - Allen Trieu
The ever-popular "size" area for improvement and more references to his developing blocking skills feature.
Tim Sullivan caught him at a 7-on-7 event:
He looks like a defensive lineman … but has quickness and speed that are bound to surprise those who think he's just a big man playing tight end, rather than a true athlete. He isn't going to run by many safeties, but makes quick, sharp cuts to get open in the middle of the field, or toward the sidelines as an outlet on some plays. He has the frame and leaping ability to make high catches over the middle - and the fearlessness to jump and make plays with his body exposed.
Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.
You get the idea. Let's continue attacking the horse, though:
Steve Wiltfong: "The sure-handed Hill knows how to get open, and was the go-to guy for Morris throughout the weekend."
Brewster at SMSB: "Hill does a great job getting in and out of his breaks. He did a nice job of getting separation from his defenders and snatching the football with his arms extended to not let it get anywhere close to his body."
Sullivan at the Columbus NFTC: "Hill impressed again on Saturday, with more athleticism than he's given credit for at times, precise routes, and as always, very good hands. "
Ace at SMSB: "Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body."
I declare this horse deader.
Hill camped as a junior, which got him on Michigan's radar. He won the positional MVP there, no doubt a help as Michigan evaluated him for their early offer. It didn't hurt that Hill and Shane Morris rolled around the 7-on-7 circuit on the same team, as Ace mentions obliquely above. Morris developed faith in Hill to the point that you can get a 3 and a half minute highlight reel out of one 7-on-7, as you see above, while other guys on the Max Ex team (like C'sonte York) can only squeeze out a minute and a half by adding some practice reps in.
As a senior, Hill may have added some blocking skill after a shoulder injury forced an interesting, temporary position move:
“Two weeks ago the A-C joint in my shoulder got sprained in a game and I couldn’t do anything but block, that’s the only thing that didn’t hurt,” Hill began. “So I told my coach to put someone else at tight end and I’ll play offensive tackle. Same thing happened last year when I hurt my knee- I moved to tackle. I just want to be on the field to help my team in any way possible. It’s all about the team.”
(File under The Pattern as well.)
Sullivan caught one of his later games and focused on his blocking, which was much-improved in his eyes:
[Hill] was far more aggressive and willing to punish defenders in this game, and played a big role in opening up holes. He also used his hands to prevent the defender from disengaging, which allowed him to seal the edge.
Hill still shows a tendency to get off balance at times in his blocking, especially on the edge. While it's unlikely to harm the team in any significant way, that can limit big runs if they break into the secondary. On a similar note, he was beaten in space a couple times, but given his athleticism, that should be an easy fix to make.
He still had issues making second-level blocks after coming off combos, FWIW, something Ace noticed when he scouted East Village as well.
So… Hill has some developing to do as a blocker, especially because most of his activity is going to be of the lead variety from now on, something he hasn't done much of yet. That'll delay his bid for playing time; once he gets that down he has the potential to be a guy linebackers swear to themselves about when they try to take a block and he flits by. Hill has the potential to be a premium piece of the offense when space gets constricted.
Etc.: Junior stats: 29 catches for 448 yards, six TDs. Lingo ahoy!
"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."
That's immediately post-commit.
Why Phillip Lutzenkirchen? Auburn's red-zone touchdown machine is the best I've got on the college level. Lutzenkirchen spent his days on the Plains blocking on short yardage and slipping out into uncovered pattern after uncovered pattern. His catching ability was superb for a guy his size and he brought enough wood as a blocker to convince AU opponents to sell out against the run, much to their detriment.
Lutzenkirchen is in the same height range but did top out at nearly 260 pounds; Hill may end up ten pounds short of that.
Guru Reliability: High. Lots of camps, and while there's a little divide in the rankings (Scout has him just a few players away from a fourth star; Rivals ranks him below an in-state tight end headed to Air Force) everyone says he's the same player.
Variance: Moderate. Will be a blocking back and guy who catches some short stuff, occasionally getting into a wheel route; blocking must develop.
Ceiling: Low-plus. While Hill can be a useful cog, that seems to be the limit. Does bring some potential as a consistent mismatch if he can learn to block, though.
General Excitement Level: Low-plus. Is kind of a fullback, and how many kind-of-fullbacks are going to be on this roster? On the other hand, seems like a red-zone efficiency piece, and who doesn't like red-zone efficiency?
Projection: Probable redshirt since most of the evals mention he has a long way to go as a blocker. He does fit the profile of a guy who will get time on special teams sooner rather than later, though, so nonzero chance he ends up covering kicks. A serious role in the offense will have to wait.
How long is a mystery. He's got Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge in front of him in terms of seniority, and Kerridge got a lot of playing time in which he showed some promise as a Kevin Dudley-style linebacker eraser… as a redshirt freshman. It'll be a battle for Hill to pass him full-time.
Situationally… yeah, there's room, especially after Gardner graduates and Shane Morris presumably ascends to the throne. A couple years down the road Hill will presumably be accustomed to blocking out of the backfield and his 7-on-7 running buddy will be looking for him in practice whenever they're on the field together.
Football is here, and it is beautiful. Two pallets filled with boxes with 55 books apiece arrived at Underground Printing's warehouse yesterday afternoon. The people with rush orders ought to be getting them in their mailboxes today. I've moved the writeup over to the diaries for now so all those who helped can remain standing and be recognized. If you happen to run into any of our authors, production folk, photographers, etc., celebrate these people. Hold a shindig in their honor, build a statue in their commemoration, and declare the day Eric Upchurch Day or Greg Dooley Day or Courtney Fathers Day, etc. Maybe bring a cloak and scepter to work today in case you need to drape one over them. Basketball-hockey is now in production and should be out around late September.
Diaries were weak this week. LSA's thing compared turnover margin to winning over time among too small a sample and offers no conclusions. The other was k.o.k.Law remembering the Ed Martin scandal and the '98 Rose Bowl before coming back to finish his trip to the hoops championship game story. Best to head to the board.
PEOPLE WHO PROBABLY ALREADY HAVE DAYS NAMED FOR THEM
If you're looking for MGoStaff next week, try Chicago. Big Ten Media Days are next week, and Brian will be in town to participate in an alumni group Q&A with Sam Webb and Gerry Dinardo on Wednesday. Yes the book will be there.
If you're looking for former players, try…paintball?
That is Vincent Smith, but those are not finger guns. People who helped support the Hope for Pahokee thing got to play a round with the Pahokee guys. I prefer to remember Smith jackrabbitting around as a freshman and finger-gunning and blocking like a mountain goat, not for his role as a supporting actor in how great Clowney looks when nobody blocks him.
DEVIN GARDNER: SEC SUPERSTAR
According to Bodogblog the SEC coaches were gushing about Devin at SEC media days. Obligatory Gardner doing stuff vs. an SEC team video:
GARAGE SALE DAY
Is today. Reportedly there were about 80 people in line before 8 a.m. to get first crack at Michigan schlock. I think Fuller is over there right now. Find him and throw a shindig.
SALUTE TO MGOSENIORS
Those who've been here since the site moved from blogspot, happy 5 years of Never Forget banners, Shavodrick Beaver news. Those who've been around since the before times will remember what it was like to live through the first coaching search. Aye, before there were sailboats there was utter panic and profiles in heroism and way more Flight Tracker. There was also the Fandom Endurance Badge, which props to the Glove for framing it.
Let's everyone Bruce Lee kick a Buckeye in celebration.
REVERSING THE O'BANNION EFFECT
You know how Beilein likes to get those younger-than-they-should-be guys like LeVert then cackle when they turn into 6'6 wingers. The other side of that is kids who get held back a year so that they're a year larger and more athletic while trying to distinguish themselves against high school and collegiate competition. This was going on at least as long ago as when I was a kid. Some of these kids then leap back to their correct grade if they've reached the elite mark, in order to get to the NBA sooner.
RIVALS MAKES A LIST, WE CHECK IT TWICE
MGoBlue.com put up a bunch of interviews with Michigan coaches of the various sports on Wednesday and fished a Michael Spath article out of it. Read it as "Michigan has five coaches ranked higher in their sport than Brady Hoke if anything before 2012 is a dark and mystical past." Red Berenson isn't even among the five. Frankly I'm surprised it's just that many. There are a bunch of coaches in college football's ranks who've won one or more national championships, built multiple programs to prominence, and have been simply doing it much longer than Hoke has. Meanwhile Michigan is an annual competitor for the Director's Cup because the athletic department shells out for the best of the best in many sports that SEC teams don't even bother playing. If we're not tilting to the sports people care about I don't know if Beilein would be first either; he is tops on their list because Rivals is a very "What have you done for me lately" kind of outlet. But if we're being serious about his, I mean: Carol Hutchins, Red Berenson, Kurt Golder. Chaka Daley didn't even make Spath's Top 10. Wrestling just brought in the country's top recruiting class.
Your Moment of Zen: