The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
The California Of The Midwest
Between last weekend's Sound Mind Sound Body camp and the ongoing U-M technique camp, Michigan's had the opportunity to see many of their top recruits in person over the last few days. Among those prospects were two 2016 California quarterbacks, five-star dual-threat Malik Henry—who wowed at SMSB before making his way to campus on Sunday—and four-star pro-style QB KJ Costello, who also made it into town on Sunday. A beautiful spring weekend in Ann Arbor made Costello feel right at home:
Michigan is unreal... The weather feels like Cali
— kj costello (@kj_costello) June 15, 2014
NOBODY SAY A DAMN WORD.
SMSB: Malzone, Kirkland Stand Out
Michigan's two participating commits didn't disappoint in front of their future coaches at SMSB, as both Alex Malzone and Darrin Kirkland turned in outstanding performances. After not having his best showing on Thursday, Malzone came back with a standout showing on Friday that impressed GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
Malzone came to work on day two. Maybe, just maybe, having his future coach Doug Nussmeier in attendance was an added incentive as well. The future Wolverine looked sharp in drills and listened closely whenever Nussmeier addressed him. In the one-on-one portion of the camp, Malzone excelled. He showcased his arm – like always – and made nice precise throws. He doesn’t seem to mind the added attention of being Michigan’s quarterback of the future, even when everyone is watching. An overall great performance by the four-star prospect.
247's Clint Brewster concurred, saying Malzone showed he could "make all the throws" with excellent accuracy and solid velocity. He sounded even more impressed with Kirkland, praising his coverage and blitzing ability after giving rave reviews of his play against the run ($):
Kirkland Jr. immediately stood out among the defensive players at the camp because of how well put together he is. Kirkland has an NFL linebacker type of body with a thick muscled frame. You can easily point him out among the linebackers there. Kirkland was able to overpower running backs in one-on-one coverage and he doesn’t wait to attack. He plays with good body-lean and pad level to get underneath ball carriers and gain leverage. Kirkland isn’t going to Wow you with his athleticism or quickness but he plays so hard. He closes on ball carriers and takes the right angles because it seems like he wants to make the tackle more than the next guy. His intensity and technique is really what stood out to me.
Kirkland continues to sound like a prototype MIKE; it's gonna be fun seeing Brian try to come up with a YMRMFSPA for his recruiting profile that isn't David Harris.
[Hit THE JUMP for a couple happy trails, updates on a pair of 2015 running backs, where Michigan stands after offering Dele' Harding, a few camp offers, and more.]
6/16/2014 – USA 2, Ghana 1 – 1-0-0
HOW MANY EAGLES CAN INTIMIDATE ON THE HEAD OF A PIN
Clint Dempsey had just been kicked in the face, hard. He'd jumped to head a ball; the Ghana defender he'd made infamous 30 seconds into the game decided he'd challenge for it by kicking Dempsey really hard in the face.
It was obvious from the first shot that Dempsey's nose was broken, even more obvious in the post-game press conference. Someone asked him about it. He said he couldn't really breathe through the thing anymore.
At the time, though, Jozy Altidore had already done something bad to his hamstring and there was nothing for Dempsey to do but spit blood, shoot murder from his eyes, and carry on.
It turns out yesterday's post was unnecessary. All questions about how American USA soccer is under Klinsmann have been resolved in 90 minutes. The verdict: even when the guys still running when normal folk would be in a heap and pounding in the set piece goal are pretty much German, they are so, so American.
Anyone who's followed the US national team for a while can point to a game like that, a frustrating exercise in soaking pressure and trying to pop up on the counter. The US has a knack for bleeding profusely and winning games they have no business doing so via sheer doggedness. This game shoots to the top of that list, the blood and dogs list.
It'll take some doing to top it. They lost their main relief valve to injury 20 minutes in and were forced into a halftime substitution when Matt Besler tweaked his hamstring; by 70 minutes it seemed like half the roster was grasping a leg muscle when afforded the opportunity. When Ghana finally broke through ten minutes later, it felt like the floodgates were about to open.
Instead the US grinds out a corner by running real hard. I mean… if we are trying to move away from the cliché that national teams are avatars for their countries, trying to move away from the faintly ridiculous notion that a country that grows Michael Phelps in a lab is a plucky underdog… if we are attempting to have a straight-faced tactical conversation amongst serious people… I mean, you just can't. I can't.
I'm dying and Fabian Johnson manages to grit up a corner by being annoyingly effortful like he's the right back version of David Eckstein, and it doesn't matter that Fabian Johnson is pretty much German. I have been here before. I have seen this corner before in this game before; I know we've got some tall guys in there and even the guys who aren't tall, like Carlos Bocanegra, have a tendency to fling their head at the ball even if it's at a level where you could reasonably get kicked in the head.
I have been here before. I muster up every last bit of focus and try not to forget to stand. I have seen this on brutal Central American fields where batteries are flung out of the stands. Zusi stands over the ball. Zusi scored to tie Panama in stoppage time when doing anything but would have put Mexico out of the World Cup. They won that game a minute later, because what the hell, why not.
This is a thing they do. Frankie Hedjuk against El Salvador. Donovan against Algeria. The US played a friendly against Italy they won 1-0 because the ball refused to go in for the Italians and the US parlayed their moment into a goal. I have been here; they do this.
I am hoping against hope and remembering not to fall over; Zusi is kicking the ball, which is low enough and high enough and hard and curving into a dangerous area, and I have seen it before.
Must improve. The game got out of whack early because of the shocking goal and the Altidore injury, plus whatever the US screwed up to have big chunks of the team doing terrible things to their muscles. But they've got to do better in possession if the Ghana game is going to mean anything. Bradley in particular had a game far below his usual standard, tossing balls out of bounds.
When Bradley's off, the verve goes out of the US attack. Verve was almost beside the point here. I would have given a kidney for some extended spells of possession, but balls just kept getting plowed into the sideline. I don't know why. I do know that if they try to soak that much pressure in the next two games they're unlikely to get out of the group.
The goal. The bad one. It was mostly just one of those things that occasionally happen when you're watching the opponent have the ball most of the game; a good pass into the box and an excellent one-time backheel right into the path of a teammate, followed by an equal finish.
I've seen some people criticize Howard for getting beat at the near post. I'm not going to put any of that out Howard. Given the angle—Ayew was close to dead center—and the distance there was little he could do. Ayew's finish was brilliant as well. He hit it with the outside of his left foot, causing the ball to curl away from Howard from an unexpected starting spot.
Zusi should have tracked Ayew. That's the main problem. He's a sub; he should be tracking that run flat-out.
He did make up for it. Zusi's corner that led to the goal was perfect, driven, high enough to get over the guys he needs to get over, low enough for Brooks to get on top of it.
What in the flying hell. Pre-match I was thankful that a Swedish guy was the ref instead of someone from nowheresville who'd never taken on a match of that significance; not so much at halftime. Clint Dempsey's nose was broken by a flying boot applied to his face as he was three feet off the ground, an obvious straight red card for dangerous play. Boye, the same defender Dempsey turned into goo in the first minute, didn't even see yellow.
That in and of itself is unacceptable; then Jermaine Jones is hammered from behind mere minutes later and the guy who did it got an accidental boot to the head. That resulted in the same kind of aggressive physical action that saw Pepe sent off just a few hours before. Again, not even yellow.
Both the tackle and the reaction afterward are easily card-worthy. Ghana should have been down to nine men by halftime.
But hey, at least the US got totally boned by the refereeing in a game they won for a change.
Jones: the man. Tireless and active, Jones was the USA's best player on the night. He wasn't particularly helpful going forward, because he's generally not, but he was everywhere. Besler's first half was also excellent; hopefully he can return.
Obvious Ghana plan is obvious. Ghana spent most of the game isolating Christian Atsu on Beasley. For their troubles they got a bunch of crosses that didn't result in much.
There was that one terrifying Gyan header that Howard had to save despite the fact it was going wide, and then some shots that would have had to been as brilliant as the Gyan chance. Key passes were more balanced, with the Ghana breakthrough coming from the USA's right flank, at Zusi's expense:
please ignore the ones coming from the corners
Beasley coped, and only just. Here are defensive events from the outside backs and outside mids:
Tackles are green; Beasley(#7) had none; he had a pile of clearances and "recoveries," which are events when you get the ball after it's popped loose or someone sends it directly to you. He played off, didn't let Atsu by him, and let the crosses in. It was reminiscent of the Spain Confederations Cup game.
What now? Altidore's World Cup is almost certainly over, leaving the US in a difficult situation. With Eddie Johnson and Terrence Boyd left off the roster, there is nothing approximating a like-for-like substitute. Johannsson's the closest thing and the Ghana game was a good indication he's not much of a target guy at a World Cup level.
The USA's options:
- Use Johannsson like Charlie Davies. IE, have him run onto long balls to the side of the field, hopefully outdistancing the centerback he's matched up against. With Pepe out and Germany relying on the enormous but a bit ponderous Per Mertesacker, this is a viable option.
- Use Dempsey as a target guy. In this situation Dempsey leads the line with Johannsson or Wondolowski playing off of him. I am not enthused about this possibility.
- False nine time. The "false nine" you hear so much about is a striker who isn't really much of a striker. He often comes back into the midfield and then plays balls at gentlemen running past him. Dempsey is a potential fit in that role; he can maintain the ball if it's played into his feet; then Johannsson and Bedoya can be runners past him. That's yet another tactical departure, though.
I'm guessing they go with the first option, but I'm afraid we're about to find out that Jozy does a bunch of things you don't appreciate until he's not out there doing them. Keeping possession better than they did against Ghana is even more critical.
Portugal situation. They've been whittled down by injuries, which momentarily made US fans giddy until Altidore and Besler went out. Pepe is out after taking a red card; left back Fabio Coentrao and striker Hugo Almeida left with injuries that will hold them out of the remainder of the group stage.
Almeida's replacement will (probably) be Eder, a strapping gentleman who plays in the Portuguese league. He is in the Jozy Altidore vein: a physical guy with flashes of brilliance who is maybe a little lacking on the technical side. Almeida wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire, and Eder has made some impact when he's gotten in recently. That dropoff won't be severe.
On the other hand, Coentrao's replacement is a major step down. Coentrao is a fixture at Real Madrid and has excellent chemistry with Ronaldo; he was replaced by Andre Almeida (not that Andre Almeida). The other Almeida plays for Benfica, mostly in the midfield, and only moonlights at outside back. He's only got six caps.
Pepe's replacement is likely to be 33-year-old Ricardo Costa of Valencia. Costa drew into the lineup during Portugal's pre-WC friendlies when Pepe was held out as a precaution. Costa played about half of his club's games as Valencia finished 8th in La Liga. He's no pushover, but neither is he first choice at Real Madrid.
Group situation. The US is in good shape as long as they don't lose to Portugal. Win and they are obviously all but in. A draw is still looking pretty good. If the US and Portugal tie, then the situation based on the result of Ghana-Germany:
- Germany win. Ghana is eliminated; US advances if they either get a point from Germany (who knows they are through) or they lose and Portugal does not make up the goal difference against Ghana. That would require making up five goals.
- Tie. US and Germany enter final game knowing a draw gets both through, and Germany knows they are top of group. Desultory 0-0 draw beckons.
- Ghana win. The US would be at the top of the group but this is the most dangerous situation. Ghana would enter the final game with an opportunity to advance with a win over Portugal, and Germany would have to go all out to beat the US. A US loss then puts them in danger.
So root for the Germans against Ghana.
What if the US loses? Not all is lost but then things are much tougher. A win against Germany would put them through; a tie then puts your fate in the hands of the Ghana-Portugal game.
Click to big. Right-click to open in a separate window so you can reference it as you go.
A few weeks ago I promised to finish this piece on the differences for Michigan's personnel in the 4-3 over. Sorry.
Refresher: What's a 4-3 Over? What you're looking at are alignments of the front seven. The "under" shifts the defensive line away from the strength of the defense and the linebackers swing the opposite way to compensate. Michigan would often align this to the hash rather than the offense, shifting the DL toward the sideline.
The "over" shifts the line the opposite way, but not to such an extreme. The linebackers wind up centered over the ball, and the DL spread across the formation. There is nothing 3-4 about it except the nose tackle.
Last time I talked about how going from a base under to a base over will demand the WDE and 3-tech play a little bigger, the SDE can play more like a rush end, and the nose's job stays pretty much the same except he's now the backside DT. Now on to the second level.
Strongside Linebacker (SAM): James Ross/Royce Jenkins-Stone
The 4-3 under is tough to run against—often they wind up blocking the backside DE in hopes of getting something from a cutback, since it's hard for the LT to get to anybody else. That meant the WLB could be a free hitter
On inside zone that strongside (right) tackle is trying to get a free release. The 3-tech could get aggressive and slow him up but the danger of playing aggressively on the DL against a zone running team is you open up the backside. The faster the OT gets out to the second level the more room there's going to be for the running back to dodge around the DT. A SAM who can read IZ quickly will be all up in that OT's face, able to affect both frontside gaps without opening up the backside cut. Every half-second of delay on the SAM's part is another yard for the offense.
But the SAM can't get crazy-aggressive attacking the OT or the C gap because that tight end is an eligible receiver, and there's another receiver on that side of the formation who could be slanting or dragging. Since the guess is Michigan wants Jake Ryan to be aggressive in the middle, Ross will end up in a lot of zone drops or in man-to-man on the tight end.
The fit: The WLB in the 4-3 under that James Ross played last year isn't hugely different, but it wound up playing differently because Ross was constantly having to take on blockers thanks to Michigan's Jibreel-Black-is-a-NT stunt-a-thon. His quick-twitch reads will be an asset, and his speed and coverage ability will be also. Michigan State's defense had Denicos Allen blitz a ton from this position, and got away with it because the handsy press coverage took care of the slant/drag passes that punish it, and because they had Max Bullough to read and react at MLB. Ross will get to blitz more than he did as the backside linebacker, but I'm guessing Michigan would rather he be the read-react-hit-spill dude so Jake Ryan can go viking.
[jump for the other two spots]
A German coaches the US National team, and it's time for the World Cup. This combination results in people who don't know what they're talking about making big, sweeping generalizations about what it all means. The result: a rather spectacular 24 hours wherein the New York Times published a piece claiming Klinsmann was making US soccer less American and the Wall Street Journal published one claiming he was making it more so.
Meanwhile, Brits are whining that USA fans use their own lingo too much and shouldn't use correct lingo… in the same article. A classics professor is writing the de rigueur "Soccer is Un-American" article. (The premise of this brief piece is obvious, but if there is anything that is Un-American (there isn't), it's some fusty old twit in a tweed jacket getting the vapors about the Romans.)
This self-contradictory pile is all very American. One of my wife's most prized possessions is a keychain from the Eugene V. Debs Memorial Kazoo Night. The Eugene V. Debs Memorial Kazoo Night was held annually at Tiger Stadium until it was torn down. Labor people would show up at a baseball game to give each other trinkets and pay tribute to a guy who was locked up for protesting the USA's involvement in World War I. With kazoos, evidently.
The keychain created for this event at the national pastime of the most capitalistic society yet implemented reads "Lock Up Capitalist Lackeys." The United States contains multitudes.
One of these multitudes last washed his hair in 1976, several years before he was born. He brought an acoustic guitar to the World Cup. Another is here because his family was fortunate enough to emigrate from Haiti. Clint Dempsey's parents sold some of their guns to finance their kid's soccer career. Jermaine Jones is here because his dad was still in Germany 30 years after World War II ended. Michael Bradley is the spear-bald son of a spear-bald soccer coach. Matt Besler's just a normal guy.
The confusion about just how American soccer is, and how American USA soccer is, is based on a conception of America that erroneously excludes things. The US soccer team is a bunch of second or third generation immigrants and Americans who fell in love with the weird kicky game, because who knows why but go to hell if you want to tell me what to do.
If we didn't invent it we stole it, or are in the process of stealing it, and putting it in ourselves. We are less advanced in our assimilation of soccer than we are pizza. We are nonetheless coming.
If you hate it, oh well. No one cares, because the most American thing is: don't tread.
Note: With roundups of last weekend's Sound Mind Sound Body camp still being published, as well as various visit reactions from prospects currently on campus for Michigan's technique camp, I'm pushing back the recruiting roundup to tomorrow. Breathing into a paper bag in preparation for USA-Ghana may also have played a role here. Thankfully, I started writing this post last week.
I started writing up the 2009 offensive recruits as a whole, but I couldn't get past the first paragraph of Tate Forcier's profile before realizing the two quarterbacks in the class needed their own post. Hell, I couldn't get past the first sentence [emphasis mine]:
Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.
When this post was written, Forcier had already enrolled at Michigan and subsequently dominated the Spring Game—back when it actually resembled real football—in a fashion that caused junior-in-college me to make this video, and I'll admit it was no small thrill to see my name on this here site:
Then, of course, came spring:
I just watched that thing again and it's pure sport porn; I sort of wish Ace had left in Forcier's three incompletions—one bad read, one Stonum drop, and one overthrown screen—so it wasn't a just a possibly-misleading highlight reel but was instead the whole spring performance. My favorite part is that little swing pass to Moundros on the rollout: Forcier's getting pressure from a defender, calmly positions himself, and puts a perfectly-led ball right in Moundros' arms, allowing him to turn upfield against the chasing linebacker. That is the sort of precision Michigan's offense was lacking last year.
After a season of the Threetsheridammit offense, the fawning over Forcier's readily apparent potential was more than understandable. His accuracy and YPA for a high school quarterback were off the charts, as evidenced by... a (chart?) chart:
|So||157 / 221||1637||71.0%||7.4||10.4||17-4|
|Jr||164 / 213||2387||77.0%||11.2||14.6||21-5|
|Sr||208 / 326||3424||63.8%||10.5||16.5||23-15|
The disconcerting rise in interceptions and drop in completion percentage as a senior was chalked up to a heavily increased workload and a sieve-like offensive line, the latter quite apparent to those who watched him play that season. This brought forth a foreboding aspect to Brian's eerily on-the-money comparison to former Iowa QB Drew Tate:
Forcier was often reduced to scrambling around and chucking it hopefully, which obviously led to the interceptions. Here's another piece of the Drew Tate comparison I've been beating into the ground for months now: Tate (Iowa Version) also saw a senior-year spike in interceptions as Iowa's offensive line regressed (they gave up an extra half-sack per game when Tate was a senior) and Tate took matters into his own hands more often. This tendency can be either wildly good or wildly bad, and threatens to do so on consecutive plays this fall. Only experience will teach Forcier what he can and cannot do at this level.
As it turned out, we'd never learn if added experience would've reduced the considerable "no no no YES"/"no no no AAAAAARRRGGHHHHH" aspect of Forcier's game. As we all well know, he left school after being ruled academically ineligible for the 2010 Gator Bowl, by which time he'd lost his starting gig to Denard Robinson. A certain aspect of Forcier's schooling, at the time noted as a positive—his home-school setup enabled him to work with QB guru Marv Marinovich for hours upon hours—was probably not so positive:
On Fridays in the fall, Tate Forcier doesn't feel like going to school. The night's game is on his mind, and the quarterback for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego can't imagine studying a textbook rather than studying a defense.
No big deal.
"I'll tell my teacher, 'I have a game today,'" Forcier said. "He'll say, 'That's fine; you don't have to come.' And I'll go to my football school and watch film all day."
Ability to shred a cover zero or no, this doesn't really fly at U-M.
I swear I'll get to Denard soon, but first a couple more blockquotes. Marinovich's scouting report of his pupil was so oddly poetic Brian turned it into actual poetry:
"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."
A haiku version of this:
Tate springs off his feet
He bounds from side to side, and
Finally, Brian makes a most unfortunate typo:
Why Drew Tate? That's my go-to comparison and I'm sticking to it. Forcier is about 6', maybe 6'1". He's nimble and though he took off frequently in high school, in college he won't have as much of an athletic advantage and will mostly use his feet to buy time to throw downfield. He has the proverbial moxie, which occasionally gets him into trouble. The Tate comparison is eerily accurate, except maybe Forcier is better school and will be more accurate than the occasionally-erratic Tate.
With that out of the way, DENARD ROBINSON HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHTS AHOY:
Oddly, Denard's otherworldly running abilty wasn't nearly as prominent in those clips as you'd expect. There isn't so much as a hint of a run until nearly the two-minute mark. In fact, there are only a couple plays in the whole reel that really show off what he was capable of doing, probably because his offensive coordinator ripped the "OBVIOUS ROLLOUTS" page from the Al Borges playbook and left the rest. Denard's highlights are way better in theory than they are in reality.
I'm not sure there's better evidence of how much football offense has evolved even in the last half-decade than Denard Effin' Robinson running every play on his high school highlight tape from under center. In 2008, this may have gone unquestioned. In 2014, there'd be a federal investigation.
Denard's passing stats fell well short of Forcier's, as would be expected. Less expected were the rushing stats:
Oddly, Robinson's rushing yards weren't spectacular. He had only 538, which was fewer than Forcier had, though Forcier wasn't going up against big schools in Florida at Scripps Ranch. Does this indicate a Drew Tate Forcier-like tendency to run around in the backfield and then launch it deep? A couple of throws above and that yards per completion number indicate "yes", but he also breaks contain several times and takes off and those are just highlights so maybe he got sacked a lot for ridiculous yardage after running around like a headless chicken and I guess what I'm trying to say is we just don't know, dude.
We just have to go on the universal heavy panting about this guy's ability to outrun a cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Which, like, okay.
I'd say the first bit is explained by the highlight tape. About that last bit: Both the "cheetah in a Porsche..." and "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium" tags were fixtures on this site before Robinson ever got to campus. Even before he proved Mike Patrick's "broken plays are very dangerous" mantra in real time, this was totally justified.
Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.
Robinson's personal-best … is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.
Denard's reaction was even better:
''I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,'' Robinson said.
It comes as little surprise that a bolt of lightning recruited to play quarterback for Rich Rodriguez received comparisons to Pat White from everyone, Brian included. The excitement to see this athlete in that offense managed to rival the avalanche of Forcier hype even though Robinson didn't get the benefit of an early enrollment. Surely the blogger who set Sam McGuffie's general excitement level at "AAAAIIEEEE!" saw the nearly unlimited potential that would soon be realized in arguably the greatest QB rushing season ever:
General Excitement Level: Slightly under high.
We're no longer on speaking terms, boss.
Michigan basketball holds off on offering juniors until June 15th, whereupon they send out a wave. June 15th was yesterday; the wave:
NV PG Derryck Thornton Jr.
Of course. Thornton's profile has been building for years, as he adds a little bit of hype to the pile every time he breaks someone's ankles. By now you probably know the details here: assistant Jeff Meyer coached the elder Thornton, they've been on campus multiple times, they convinced Battle to come along for a four-day visit that coincided with Michigan's elite camp.
Thornton's made some noises about an early decision, first telling UM Hoops that that it was a possibility and then Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz that he was thinking of pulling the trigger($) during the very conversation in which he found out he got his offer. With his dad describing the visit as a "15 out of 10," Michigan is the favorite. It seems like he wants to confirm things with an official visit in the fall… on which he would be on a commit watch unprecedented in the recent history of Michigan basketball.
Thornton does plan a Kentucky visit in the next week or two that should result in a UK offer. Memories of Devin Booker make that fairly ominous, but if Michigan's still in the lead after that it doesn't seem likely anything will displace them. I have added "Derryck" to my spell check, FWIW.
PROJECTION: Thornton commits to Michigan on his official visit, which I bet a dollar will be for the PSU football game.
MI PG Cassius Winston
Winston has received much less attention from the Michigan internets than Thornton largely because he seems less likely to end up in Ann Arbor. He is just about as talented as Thornton, and his rankings reflect that—he's top 50 everywhere and pushing for five-star status some places. Observers at the elite camp thought he outplayed Thornton slightly, even.
Winston is not likely to make an early decision:
In his two remaining years of high school, Winston has plenty to refine in his game and several goals that he’d like to accomplish before thinking ahead to Michigan. He insisted that even if he gets an offer, he’d like to take in the whole process and then gauge what the next move will be.
At the point Winston does get serious about a commitment Thornton will either be in the bag, off the board, or in that state where the supposed leader has led to long for it to be a good thing.
PROJECTION: If nothing changes with Thornton, drifts elsewhere. If Thornton's head gets turned, Michigan turns the jets on.
KY PG Quentin Goodin
In a bit of a surprise, Goodin did get his offer. He checked the visit box with his own appearance at the elite camp, and he is just a notch below Winston/Thornton to the guys doing the rankings. Michigan may have felt secure enough to offer because Goodin's made no bones about where he wants to go if the opportunity arrives…
"I would definitely take the opportunity to play at Kentucky if I got it.”
…and by the time that gets resolved Michigan will have a good idea about whether or not they're going to close out the Thornton sweepstakes. Goodin says he won't commit until next August, so offering now is relatively risk-free.
PROJECTION: Commits to Indiana.
NJ SG Tyus Battle
Battle is a relatively new name, and a high-profile one with interest from Syracuse, Kentucky, Duke, etc. He visited with Thornton fro the duration of the elite camp, and that has put Michigan in excellent position, especially if they get a commitment from Thornton. Battle's dad:
“Michigan was awesome, we had a great time,” Gary said. “Tyus really enjoyed the visit. The coaching staff is very thorough. We really enjoyed their presentation and the campus and the way they would use Tyus. Obviously, academically Michigan is something we like a lot.”
This is not a slam dunk like Thornton seems, though: Battle went from Michigan to Villanova and will swing through Louisville and Kentucky in the near future. Thornton's top group appears to be Michigan and I guess some other guys; Battle is going to be a… battle. He gave Bogenschutz some positive quotes($), but nothing on the level of those Thornton is issuing.
PROJECTION: I don't know, man.
OH SF Seth Towns
yes that's Trey Burke's high school
Towns didn't have the best elite camp but Michigan still pulled the trigger anyway. Like Thornton, Michigan seems to be way out in front for Towns (Webb paraphrasing Towns($): Michigan "DEFINITELY number one"); like Thornton, Towns is not pulling the trigger immediately.
With the June 15 offer Towns's recruitment is a formality; as long as Michigan keeps their interest level high he'll be in the class. So expect a 6'7" or 6'8" shooter($)…
"As a player, his ability to shoot it is his strength, for sure," Always100 Ohio Warriors AAU coach Fred Moyer said in May. "He can get it off the dribble and go. His best attribute right now is getting it off the catch and a one-dribble pull-up jumper. That's money when it's on.
…Zak Irvin 2.0?
PROJECTION: Commits to Michigan by end of summer.
CA PF TJ Leaf
Leaf is a five star inside/outside big who could play the 4 or 5 at M. He's been on campus multiple times, with his most recent visit a brief trip up from Bloomington, where his AAU team was playing. Leaf's interest is sincere; he seems to have a relatively solid top four of Michigan, Indiana, UCLA, and Arizona. He told Scout recently that those were the teams recruiting him hardest, and dropped this quote on M:
"I just went to Michigan. I loved the coaches and liked the campus. It's a really good program."
That top four was the same in May, FWIW.
Leaf has previously said that one of the things that makes Michigan attractive is the certainty that Beilein be there for the duration of his career, something that is probably true at UCLA and Arizona as well. Indiana… maybe not.
Leaf plans a January decision after some official visits. The major question is "are Towns and Leaf mutually exclusive?" If so, Leaf will get pushed out of the class by Towns unless he changes his timetable. I don't think that's necessarily the case, as a 3/4 like Towns can coexist with a 4/5 like Leaf.
PROJECTION: No good feel for this one, but UCLA has a coach who isn't on the hot seat and Michigan is likely to have competition for his scholarship slot. So: UCLA.
OH C Jon Teske
Unless that's a small child I estimate Teske's height at 11 feet
Teske is the least-hyped of all the offerees. A consensus three-star, Teske fits the mold of Beilein big men: he's a developmental project with a soft shooting touch. Coach quote:
"The thing that he's got is that he can score and shoot the basketball," said Medina coach Chris Hassinger. "His skill development is maybe higher than the guys they have at the Division I level right now."
Teske may not be a three star for that much longer, as he picked up an Ohio State offer recently and is now being listed at 6'11"… and growing. Injuries have limited his exposure to date.
PROJECTION: If OSU goes after him hard they will probably get him, otherwise money is on M.