this may be of some local interest
Big Visit Weekend Ahead
Michigan is set to host a solid group of targets this weekend. Before getting to the full list, let's check in with three-star NJ OT Will Fries, who wrapped up a two-day visit yesterday and gave his reaction to 247's Clint Brewster ($):
"It was amazing I had great time," Fries told Wolverine247.
Is Michigan in Fries' top group now following the visit?
"Yes, they are."
The list of weekend visitors comes courtesy of reports from The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan($) and 247's Steve Lorenz($), unless otherwise noted. While there isn't a full-blown "buckle up" situation heading into the weekend, it's worth keeping an eye on a couple of these prospects:
- Five-star WI OT Ben Bredeson will be on campus all weekend, and this is a hugely important visit for Michigan, as this is likely his last trip to Ann Arbor before he makes a decision in early June. The Wolverines are in a top four along with Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and Ohio State; the Badgers appear to be M's chief competition.
- Four-star Farmington Hills Harrison DE Khalid Kareem told TomVH he'll take a weekend visit. Kareem has been a steady presence on campus since Jim Harbaugh arrived, but Michigan has plenty of competition from the likes of Alabama, Michigan State, and Notre Dame.
- Four-star IN WR Austin Mack will be in Ann Arbor on Saturday, a visit sandwiched between trips to Notre Dame and Ohio State this weekend, per 247's Bill Kurelic ($). Mack is expected to end up with the Buckeyes when he announces his decision on June 7th.
- Three-star ATH Kiante Enis and four-star all-purpose back Chris Evans will both make the trip from Indiana. Enis, a running back who could play a number of positions, already holds an offer. Evans doesn't, but he's expected to add one this weekend, and if he does there are rumblings of a potential commitment—his Crystal Ball immediately added several Michigan predictions after the visit was announced.
- Three-star Paramus (NJ) Catholic WR Donald Stewart already has Michigan at the top of his list heading into his first campus visit. Lorenz reports that while a commitment isn't expected to occur this weekend, one could come shortly thereafter.
- Three-star MN ATH JD Spielman is still getting his football recruitment off the ground after committing to Ohio State to play lacrosse. He's expected to choose football at the next level, and Michigan was one of his first offers for the gridiron.
- 2017 four-star QB Dylan McCaffrey and 2017 in-state DE Corey Malone-Hatcher will be in Ann Arbor, as well. Malone-Hatcher is visiting this weekend since he has a conflict preventing him from attending next Tuesday's in-state Junior Day, when the other seven in-state rising juniors offered by Michigan will all be on campus.
- 2016 commits Brandon Peters and Matt Falcon will assuredly have their recruiting hats on. Peters, especially, could help convince his fellow Hoosier State prospects to join up.
There's a notable omission: Four-star IN DE Auston Robertson previously planned to visit with Austin Mack, but his mother told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he'll be at Notre Dame on Saturday ($). Robertson is considered a Michigan State lean, and with his decision coming up on June 7th, Michigan's chances are slim at best without getting a final chance to impress him.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
"I just forgot we're allowed to pitch it because that happens so rarely, you know?"
This week we have a guest responder, Craig Ross, author of The Obscene Diaries of a Michigan Fan, and The Search for the Unified Theory (Football Version), neither of which he would actually encourage you to buy—as if that's going to stop us.
Craig also has an article about the weird as hell 1925 season in this year's HTTV, now available for pre-order in the MGoStore, and which we do encourage you to buy. Because his fan memory goes back to pre-Bump I thought he'd have a unique response from history that none of us young 'uns would have remembered, then he answered with a play we'd just as soon forget.
Special thanks to Wolverine Historian for making most of these replies possible. Prepare thineself for some youtubes!
Describe the weirdest play/sequence you can remember as a Michigan fan?
BiSB: Personally, I find weirdness in the mundane. It's the draw play on 2nd and long, or the corner who allows a receiver a free inside release on 3rd and 2. Like snowflakes, even the most typical, nondescript plays demonstrates the chaos of our very existence. Each is unique, and each is OH MY GOD PITCH THE BALL TO BREASTON YOU ARE TYLER ECKER AND HE IS BLACK JESUS WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THINGS HOLY DO YOU STILL HAVE THE FOOTBALL HE'S RIIIIIIGHT THEEEEEEEEERE.
Honorable mention for the Brandon Minor touchdown catch against Michigan State in 2008, when 100,000 people we all like,"uh, I'm pretty sure that's not how a pylon works, champ..."
[Hit the jump for two blocked punts in a row and people making top fives]
Previously: 1984 Miami
The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: We left off with Michigan's opening game from the 1984 season, so there's clearly some catching up to do. After knocking off #1 Miami, the Wolverines fell back to earth the next week with a 20-11 defeat at the hands of #16 Washington, and a few weeks later they'd suffer their worst loss when Jim Harbaugh broke his arm diving for a fumble against Michigan State. Michigan went on to lose that game, and with Harbaugh out for the season the Wolverines stumbled to a 6-6 record, their worst under Bo Schembechler.
In Natural Enemies, John Kryk laid out the stakes for the 1985 season opener against Notre Dame:
Never was a Notre Dame-Michigan game more pivotal for both teams than the one played at Michigan Stadium on September 14, 1985.
Michigan was coming off its worst season in 17 years, 6-6, and its fourth straight with fewer than 10 wins. Some critics were suggesting the game had passed coach Bo Schembechler by.
Notre Dame was coming off another mediocre campaign, 7-5, and coach Gerry Faust was entering the final year of a five-year contract. It was believed Faust had to take the Fighting Irish to a major bowl game to have any chance of staying.
Thus, for both teams, for both coaches, this game was the crossroads. The winner would spring toward the path of rejuvenation; the loser would turn back and battle the same old demons for yet another season.
The mood was so tense in the week leading up to the game that after Harbaugh threw a couple picks in a scrimmage against the first-team defense, Schembechler threatened to bench him for Chris Zurbrugg, who'd filled in for Harbaugh the previous season with middling results.
Despite both teams' mediocre results the year before, this matchup wasn't short on talent. Michigan had Harbaugh, Jamie Morris, and a pair of All-Americans in defensive lineman Mike Hammerstein and cornerback Brad Cochran. Notre Dame featured longtime NFL QB Steve Beuerlein (though coming off major shoulder surgery), a Heisman Trophy candidate at running back in Allen Pinkett, and future Heisman winner Tim Brown at receiver.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
THING THINGS: Hoo boy, this thing was full of Michigan loss déjà vu. Iowa leapt out to a 17 point lead without doing much of anything on offense. Nebraska came back without doing much of anything on offense, with the capper an 80-yard punt return against Iowa's dinosaur punt formation—one that followed a 43-yarder earlier in the game.
Iowa's tailbacks averaged exactly 3.4 yards a carry each with a long of 15 yards; Rudock completed half his passes for a bleah 6.1 YPA.
CHRONOLOGY THINGS: This was the week after Wisconsin.
[After the JUMP: duuuuude wat]
A Very Short Week
Many of us are returning to work after a long weekend, but one Michigan target will have an even shorter week than most. Three-star NJ OL Will Fries is taking a two-day unofficial visit to Michigan today and tomorrow, per Scout's Brian Dohn ($). Dohn considers this a huge visit for Fries; if all goes well, he could see Fries' recruitment wrapping up soon after the trip. The main competition for Michigan appears to be Penn State and Rutgers, with Northwestern and Duke also factors—Fries has maintained, and his top schools show, that academics are very important in his recruitment. That should help Michigan's chances as Fries gets his first look at campus this week.
Michigan may also get one last shot at impressing four-star Indiana prospects DE Auston Robertson and WR Austin Mack this weekend. Robertson has Michigan in his top three along with Michigan State (the heavy favorite) and Notre Dame, and he told TMI's Josh Newkirk about his tentative visit plans ($):
"Going to Michigan changed the whole game," he said. "It was better than what I expected. They just popped in my top-three right then and there. I got a pretty good relationship with some of the coaches down there. I might go down there on May 30th with Austin Mack. But I'm not sure yet. But I am trying to get to all three of the colleges before I commit. I'm also trying to bring my mom there so she can potentially see where I am going to play at the next level.
If Robertson makes the trip—and, critically, if his mother accompanies him—then Michigan has an outside shot at surpassing their in-state rivals. There's less optimism with regards to Mack, who's long been considered an Ohio State lock; he's even rumored to be a silent Buckeye commit. Both prospects will announce their decision on June 7th, so it's now or never for the Wolverines to make a move.
One confirmed visitor for this weekend is top-50 2017 CO QB Dylan McCaffrey, who'll fly in on Friday and stay until Sunday, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($). McCaffrey is a Stanford legacy—both his father, former Denver Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey, and his brother Christian chose the Cardinal—but thus far they haven't joined Michigan, Penn State, Colorado, UCLA, and Duke in offering him.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Fuller / MGoBlog
The 2015 season was a breakout of sorts for Spike Albrecht: the famously under-recruited junior wasn’t projected to start at any point in his four year career, but because of the injuries to Derrick Walton and Caris LeVert, Spike ascended to starter and became an indispensible presence on the court and one of Michigan’s most valuable rotation players. Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Aubrey Dawkins saw the biggest bumps in playing time after the injuries, but Albrecht increased his minutes per game from 26.2 to 38.6 (tied for the most on the team with Zak Irvin for games after LeVert and Walton were sidelined).
Spike showed off more playmaking ability than he had in either of his previous two seasons and became a Vine star with highlights like this:
Plays like that became somewhat common for Spike – Drew Hallett, who posted the Vine above, titled the play “Spike Nash,” something I wrote about at length after Michigan’s win over Syracuse in the ACC – Big Ten Challenge:
Spike attempted a behind-the-head pass (which, if memory serves, resulted in a flubbed Mark Donnal layup) and literally dribbled around the paint a few times in another game so far this season, but this play – a seemingly effortless play that was both audacious and completely necessary – in context, was something else. Firstly, Spike Albrecht is not, nor will he ever be, Steve Nash, a surefire Hall of Famer and one of the more exciting players ever to play the game. Still, there’s been a decidedly Nash-esque quality to Spike’s game this season, even if it’s a $29.99 photo print of an original masterpiece. It’s not hard to envision Spike Albrecht watching hours of Nash highlights on Youtube as a middle-school kid and trying out that nonsense at practice or on the driveway.
Spike’s going to be that guy eventually. He’s currently the elder statesman on the team, but he has almost two entire years of eligibility left in a Michigan uniform. He still has plenty of basketball to give – unlike several players capable of singular brilliance (the Nik Stauskases and Trey Burkes), he won’t be a fleeting season’s worth of memories. I suspect that we’ll have another two years of Spike attempting insane passes that look almost indifferent and while his moments of genius will be much fewer and further in between than those from the stars of the college basketball world, it will be incredibly fun to wait and watch what Spike will do next. At the very least, he’ll probably hit about 40% of his threes, he’ll probably post a gaudy assist-to-turnover ratio, and he’ll probably be a solid player at worst, on the whole.
Spike was one of the most visible silver linings in the wake of Michigan’s disappointing season – he’s an above-average player (particularly on the offensive end) compared to others in his role. To wit, he outplayed future NBA lottery pick D’Angelo Russell in Ann Arbor last year, scored 17 points in half of the national championship game three years ago, and clearly elevated his level of play over the course of the season. Incredibly, he’s played in 107 games as a Michigan Wolverine; Jordan Morgan holds the school record at 140 games and, if he stays healthy, Spike could claim that record as his own.
* * *
Old Man Spike
— LaVall Jordan (@LaVall_Jordan) April 22, 2015
Among the much ballyhooed (and eventually very successful) “Fresh Five” recruiting class, only two are left: Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht. It’s easy to see, even now, that the watershed 2012 class was instrumental in triggering the renaissance of Michigan basketball – they went to the national title game as freshmen (three started), won the Big Ten by three games as sophomores (with Stauskas and LeVert leading the way), and up to four will eventually be drafted into the NBA. Here are their individual accomplishments:
- Nik Stauskas – Second-Team All American (2014), Big Ten Player of the Year (2014), #8 overall in the 2014 Draft.
- Mitch McGary – Preseason First-Team All American (2014), South Regional All-Tournament Team (2013), Final Four All-Tournament Team (2013), #21 overall in the 2014 Draft.
- Glenn Robinson – Big Ten All-Freshman Team (2013), #40 overall in the 2014 Draft.
- Caris LeVert – Second-Team All Big Ten (2014), Preseason First-Team All American (2015).
- Spike Albrecht – Final Four All-Tournament Team (2013).
As it turns out, Caris and Spike will be the only two to finish out their four years of eligibility at Michigan and – for the first time in several years – the Wolverines will have two senior cornerstones. LaVall Jordan’s tweet above calls an interesting comparison to mind: Zack Novak and Stu Douglass were four year contributors and valuable leaders in their time at Michigan and, like Caris and Spike, were under-the-radar prospects added late in the recruiting process. Beilein’s had success in uncovering gems late – Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman come to mind – and they’ve made quite an impact at Michigan.
Albrecht and LeVert have obviously had very different careers, but there’s one interesting factoid that underscores the leadership role Albrecht’s in: Spike’s two years older than the next-oldest Michigan player (LeVert) and has several years of game experience. Because of prep school, Spike will be 23 by the time next season starts, providing a level of veteran leadership that was lacking at times this past season. Last year, he was unexpectedly called on to fill a big role and performed admirably – Spike was a captain as a junior and was eventually named team MVP. His hips were so badly messed-up that he had to have offseason surgery on both, but he played star minutes through the end out of necessity. Hard-hats, lunchpails, and all that.
Additionally, he’s the front-runner for the Robbie Hummel Memorial “That Guy’s STILL In College?” Award given to the Big Ten player who seems to have been around forever more than anyone else in the league.
After the jump, more on Michigan’s floppy-haired cult hero