well that's just, like, your opinion, man
Last season, Michigan overcame the loss of a pretty-close-to-All-American level player (in addition to a good sixth man) and barely made it into the NCAA Tournament with a conference efficiency margin of about zero. Fortunately the Wolverines found themselves on the right side of the bubble, but it took a Big Ten Tournament upset over Indiana, the conference champ, in a de facto road environment to sneak into the dance. That win – that shot – was definitely the highlight of the season. Michigan acquitted themselves decently enough in the NCAA Tournament, but familiar defensive woes doomed them in the second half against Notre Dame – a team that made the Elite Eight without facing anything higher than a seven-seed.
On the whole, it was a largely disappointing season. Michigan finished ranked 58th nationally in Kenpom – and the preseason projection for them was 17th. While injuries doubtlessly played a big role in underachieving, the Wolverines didn’t play well, even early in the season at full strength. The season divides into two distinct periods: with Caris LeVert, and without him. Even with him, U-M only split two games in the Bahamas against tournament teams and were clobbered by Xavier (at home) and SMU. Caris looked bigger, stronger, quicker, and more aggressive, but even a herculean effort against Xavier couldn’t keep Michigan in the game. LeVert couldn’t mitigate the team’s glaring weakness inside, though he usually did have Michigan’s offense running pretty smoothly.
Without him, Michigan made it to 9-8 (so, in addition to the first win over Illinois, Michigan was 10-8) in the Big Ten without suffering any would-be devastating upsets at the hands of the lesser half of the conference. Routs at the hands of Indiana and Michigan State at home within the span of a week were two more no-shows against top-tier competition. Wins over two physically imposing squads in Maryland and Purdue were the bright spots in conference play. Outside of those, the best thing you could say is that the Wolverines avoided losing games they really shouldn’t have lost and while that’s a good thing to be able to say, it’s not that great when that’s one of your top bullet points on the positive side of the resume.
Still, Michigan made the tournament, if just barely. Extenuating circumstances – Spike’s hips and Caris’s foot, namely – thinned the backcourt rotation and limited the team’s true potential, but at least they were playing better ball in March. The Indiana upset (truly a joy to watch in person at the Big Ten Tournament) got U-M in: clinging to a spot on the bubble felt like a deserving outcome. It was good experience for a team that was still pretty young – and has plenty of room to grow together.
While it was certainly a better season than 2015 (though similarly star-crossed), it was the second rough campaign in a row after the Big Ten Title / Elite Eight year. Shaking up the program felt necessary, and Michigan will have two new assistants, four outgoing transfers, and four new freshmen, two of whom need to play early. We’ll see if John Beilein – soon to be coaching his tenth(!) season in Ann Arbor – can make a jump after changing assistants like he did in 2011.
[some #tepid #Beilein #takes after the JUMP]
An Unexpected Twist
When an out-of-region prospect cancels a visit, it's usually a death knell for a program's chances of landing him. So, when top-100 AL WR Nico Collins didn't make it to the spring game, I assumed Michigan was out of the picture.
I was wrong. Collins got to campus last week, and he told 247's Georgia outlet he has a new leader in the aftermath:
"Right now, Michigan has caught my eye," Collins said. "I fell in love with them on my visit. They might be my leader - with Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson pushing them. There is just something more with Michigan - they have a plan for you after college - plus their football program is pretty nice."
We'll see if that holds once the post-visit afterglow has faded. Even if the pack catches up, Michigan is in excellent position; Collins noted two important factors are his relationship with the coaches and the quarterback situation at each program—M should fare well on both counts.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
|Hollywood, FL – 6'1", 225|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#46 S, #105 FL
|24/7||3*, #1326 overall
#90 S, #175 FL
|Other Suitors||Miami, USF, Louisville, CU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Teammate of Metellus and Bush.|
If you're the kind of obsessive who has a detailed impression of every recruit in Michigan's 28-man class, you probably think Devin Gil is transitioning from safety to linebacker once he arrives on campus. This was your obsessive author's impression, at least. It is also Don Brown's:
Devin played safety in high school but we project him to be an outside linebacker. Again, he's one of those guys with a unique set of skills and should also be a good pass rusher and blitzer. Settling him into one of those outside linebacker spots will be a big asset to us.
That impression turns out to be false. Gil has already made that transition. The senior highlight film above is one safety highlight to open and then all MLB. Gil was named to the Florida 8A All-State first team as a middle linebacker. By the time Gil took his official visit he was fully expecting to be a linebacker and had already reached 225. He is a linebacker, and he'll play linebacker. Linebacker.
Most recruiting services projected this was his destiny, but few checked back to see how they liked him after his senior year. Let's start with Scout, the lone service to rank him at his college position. Florida analyst Corey Bender:
…fierce when attacking downhill and pursuing the football. … active hands when taking on blocks. He's strong at the point of attack and even put a couple of blockers on their backside as well.
ESPN evaluates him as a safety but does mention his "linebacker mentality" and projects him as a box guy or OLB, so it's probably based off junior tape and not updated seriously since. Here are a few bits that seem relevant:
Physical defender who can disrupt and reroute. Does not show effective man coverage skills at this time. … will get after the ball carrier with a strong, physical presence. He can absorb blocks and shed in the box and looks very capable of being a box defender. He looks to intimidate his opponent with a little nasty in him. … Likes to hit, strong wrap up guy … good line of scrimmage player, can defend the flat and hook/curl zones and has the physical make-up to match-up with TEs/H-Backs.
Various Rivals evals are in a similar vein. This one is refreshingly blunt:
…had his share of both impressive moments and lapses on Saturday but the lateral quickness was on display. As was his ability to quickly change directions. Gil isn't going to win many track meets but the Miami commit has plenty of raw talent.
Other evaluations showcase the main reason to hope he defies recruiting expectations. He's a spread linebacker for spread times.
Gil showed a knack for covering smaller targets downfield. Gil recovers well for a linebacker and can change direction quickly for a prospect with solid size.
…added some bulk during the offseason but hasn't lost the quickness that allows him to run with most running backs and tight ends in space. During pass coverage drills he not only won reps, but came away with the ball on multiple occasions, including a one-handed highlight-reel interception.
…and then he was more or less forgotten about. It is possible he is LB/S diamond in the rough.
Gil is an OLB sort with good hands who can sift through trash and take on screens and the like. He's not that big and not that athletic and it's unclear whether he can cope with the upgraded competition level. I found this report from SBN's Miami blog to be uncommonly real:
One recruiting analyst I talked to said flatly "Devin Gil CANNOT play at Miami". A different recruiting analyst said "this is exactly the kind of hybrid player who will help take your defense to the next level."
That's where I am too. I like the fact that Michigan is taking a high school LB/S as an OLB; he may be able to hack it as a hybrid space player. But I cock an eyebrow when a highlight reel four minutes in length includes filler like fumbles that bounce directly to the subject and pursuit on which he cleans up a play someone else made. Gil's senior film above has a lot of that. It doesn't exactly jump out at you.
Gil's recruitment doesn't defy that tape, either. It was a lot like Josh Uche's: it began with a very early commitment to Miami and ended with a decommit and subsequent trip to Ann Arbor. Uche, who we'll cover next, was pursued by some heavy hitters. Gil not so much. Maybe that's an artifact of his quick switch from Miami to M; these days it's hard not to interpret that as disinterest from the school of sharks hovering below any P5-ish recruit.
The main way Gil defies the rankings—he's the lowest-ranked guy in the class per the composite—is by adding a bunch of weight and keeping his athleticism, which appears to be "not quite P5 safety but plenty good as a linebacker." It seems like he's started this process already.
Etc.: Devins love bucket hats. Seems like a very cheery dude, in the vein of Denard.
Why Denicos Allen? It's difficult to dig up HSPs in Michigan history because Lloyd Carr was so slow to adapt to the spread. There are few analogues for LB/S types at M. MSU has a number of them, though, and Denicos Allen is a relatively good comp. Allen is undersized at 5'11", 220. He was unheralded coming out of Hamilton HS in Ohio, and took a couple years of apprenticeship once arriving in East Lansing.
Afterwards he ended up a blitzing murderbot as an MSU SAM. The NFL didn't think much of him, but he was still a terrific college player and TFL magnet. Gil will have to hit big time to be the equivalent; Allen is a pretty good approximation of who he might be if he rolls double sixes.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. They obviously weren't paying close attention, but high profile guy on high profile team with thoroughly meh recruiting rankings does mean something.
Variance: Moderate. LB transition already underway and is a lot closer to plausible size at 225, but still kind of a situation where he's moving to a new position in college.
Ceiling: Moderate. Atheticism questions are likely to prevent him from being big time.
General Excitement Level: Not great. Gil didn't have many offers other than a flailing Miami program and M; he did hit some camps; he isn't a sleeper or unknown. All players can defy their rankings. I'm not seeing a ton of reasons why Gil will defy his.
Projection: 50/50 on a redshirt. The LB corps isn't much different from the secondary: both project to lose a lot to graduation and the draft, so some guys are going to see the field in preparation for 2017. Gil is a special-teams-ready guy who could be a competitor at a couple LB slots in 2017 and thus could play. He could also sit because he's not ready yet.
In 2017 and beyond he's going to have to fight through a lot of competition. At ILB, former teammate Bush is probably ahead of him. At SAM/HSP he's got to deal with Hudson and Uche and maybe Furbush, etc. It'll be an uphill battle for playing time as an underclassman. Projecting further down the road is tough since we have no clarity on what kind of guys get ahead in a Don Brown world; I'd be a little surprised if he could push through the competition to start.
Don't tell the SEC, but Charles Woodson has been on something of a satellite camp tour of his own lately, crossing the country to meet fans and talk wine. Woodson's the proprietor of Charles Woodson Wines, and he and director of operations Rick Ruiz have been holding events where fans get a chance to taste some of the company's offerings (like the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which made Wine Spectator's 2014 Top 100 list) and purchase autographed bottles of said wine. Woodson and Ruiz were in Ann Arbor for an event at the new Plum Market near North Campus yesterday, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Woodson for a few minutes to talk about some of his memories of Michigan.
If you're beating yourself up because you missed the event yesterday you should stop, but you're going to need to cancel your plans for this afternoon: Charles will be at the Plum Market in West Bloomfield (6565 Orchard Lake Rd.) from 4-6PM; there's no tasting event today, but you can purchase a bottle of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, get it autographed by Woodson at no additional cost, and ask that burning question you've had since '97.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Michigan?
"My favorite memories? I don't know. I mean, of course it all revolves around football, you know. [laughs] But really it was, let's say memories of dorm rooms all of us stayed in, because most of us were in West Quad or South Quad. So it was just the times that we all spent together in the dorms. We were all kind of close knit, especially your class. The times we spent together in our rooms, whether we were partying or whatever it was, it was always great."
The [annual West Quad v. South Quad] snowball fight?
"Snowball fight, mmhmm. And then of course the games. My first time running out in '95, running onto the field and kind of losing my breath that first game because I had been in the Big House before but never as a player, and all of a sudden I'm a player and it's like 'oh, wow.' Kind of the magnitude of it hit me. Then of course the Ohio State game with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, winning that game, the punt return, and the rose in the mouth. I'd say that's five things right there."
In that game, did you allow that receiver a free inside release to bait Stanley Jackson into throwing an interception in the endzone?
"Well, it wasn't deliberate to let him inside, but it was deliberate to undercut him because it was in the endzone and you're always taught, you know, in the endzone the guy's not running a deep route- there's nowhere to go. So you undercut the route and the quarterback threw it right to me, so it worked out."
Did you have a favorite defensive play call or coverage that you guys ran when you were in college?
"No, I didn't. I mean, it was pretty simple what we did. Either I was in man-to-man or it was Cover 3 for the most part. But I played on the wide side of the field most of the time so no, I didn't have a favorite call."
Was there any receiver you had a bigger rivalry with in college than David Boston?
"Uh, no. Yeah, he was the biggest. He was the one that talked the most noise, you know, on that team. He was their star receiver and of course me being on defense, it was kind of a natural thing. So yeah, he would have been my biggest competition."
How did you get into wine and winemaking?
"So I spent a lot time in Napa Valley as a result of being picked there. The Oakland Raiders' training camp was in Napa Valley, and so as a result of being there three and a half-four weeks every training camp I used to spend a lot of time in the Valley at different restaurants just kind of watching people interact with wine, and I became very interested in it. I decided a few years after that that I would get into it."
Team Gardens in Flint. If you're in the area and available this Saturday, the Alumni Association is working with Vincent Smith's Team Gardens to make a thing:
Each year, on Michigan Alumni Community Service Day, alumni clubs from all over the country give back to their local communities in a variety of ways. This year, our club is pleased to partner with Team Gardens #EATING Project to assist with the creation of a community garden at Potter Elementary School in Flint. Be sure to register for this event soon; attendance is limited to 35 volunteers and families are very welcome.
Plants! Plant them in planters, the plants. And the ground.
Go big or go bigger, home is just a distant memory. Michigan has now announced 28(!) satellite camps, including faintly ludicrous stops in Australia, Hawaii, and American Samoa—and Michigan will be at the latter two twice. I have a preview of Jay Harbaugh's future right here:
I have also traveled to and fro in time to acquire a piece of Jay's diary.
JULY 15TH—unnamed village 50 miles north-northwest of Almaty, Kazakhstan. The stink of refuse in the streets and the uncomprehending looks from the villagers wear on us daily. We say "football" ever slower only for the children to grab the balls and kick them about. The oblong shape does not bother them. They have never seen a soccer ball, either. I begin to wonder if they've ever seen a man-made toy.
Everything else is goats. Goat cheese. Goat moccasins. Goat yurts. Furtive in the streets, one day I think I see a goat wife. All is goats. We offer a class of 2019 wide receiver who does not know what a post route is, or his own name. We call him Goatley. He is probably a goat.
Tomorrow we're going to see the cosmodrome, for some reason.
JULY 21ST—Mons Olympus, Mars. There are no people here. We have been directed to form them from the dusty Martian soil. Every day I trudge up the ancient shield volcano to see if the crumbling forms have been imbued with a spark of life. They never are. I feel the radiation sleeting through space and Mars's thin atmosphere, into my bones. The nights are dark beyond belief.
In more ludicrous satellite camp news. The War On Rutgers continues. Our current situation: Michigan is ignoring Rutgers for the 150th consecutive year. Rutgers is offended that Michigan asked them to their Paramus camp because they didn't want to play second fiddle in their home state, so they announced a camp with Urban Meyer at the same time as Michigan's. I have a dank meme for this, you guys, that will prove I am hip with the snapchat youth.
Noted rappist DJ Khaled will ensure I remain relevant for decades
Only the dankest of memes will appear in this space.
Anyway, by flipping the bird to Michigan, Rutgers and OSU have annoyed a bunch of local recruits who now have to choose which set of coaches to get exposure with. New Milford assistant and outstanding name Preston Lawyer:
Unfortunate issue is that a lot of kids have had 3 or 4 days to register for the 6/8 Mich. camp, and won't be able to choose #Rutgers' camp
— Preston Lawyer (@CoachPrestonNM) May 10, 2016
It appears this has hit a vein of internal New Jersey high school politics, and that a number of NJ high school coaches are nuts. A NJ.com article quotes a number of coaches supporting the Rutgers camp with language that says more about the person speaking than the event they're commenting on:
"Obviously, Michigan wants to conspire with Paramus Catholic to do whatever they want to do,'' Campanile said. "So I don't think they're making friends from that standpoint with a lot of these schools. I really don't know what to say about it. But it is what it is. They're obviously aligned with those guys, and if that's what they want to do, it's their business."
I'm sorry if some of you experienced painful eye-rolling at that quote. There's plenty more in there if you're inclined. This guys sounds like a major piece of work. His brother in an assistant at BC, who will work the Paramus camp:
"I love my brother more than anything in the world. I just don't want anything to do with my kids going to a camp at Paramus Catholic.''
The good news is that per 247 this dude doesn't have a single recruitable player in either of the next two classes. The two other coaches in that article are from Don Bosco and St Peter's Prep, though, and that's going to be interesting: three of the top five guys in the 2018 class are at those schools and Michigan is thought to lead for the Ademilola twins and is up there for Tyler Friday. A dollar says at least one of these guys is hired by Rutgers in the near future.
This already happened. To you. As recently as it's possible for this to happen. Elsewhere in incorrect braggadocio:
"I may get myself in trouble for this: For people that want to come to Alabama and have a camp, I think it's great, because they're helping the quality of football in the state of Alabama," Horton told the Ledger-Enquirer. "(But) no one is coming to this state and getting a player from Auburn or Alabama. That's not going to happen. So hey, I'm for, if they want to come to our state and have it, that's going to help the quality of high school football."
Not quite Alabama, but Elysee Mbem-Bosse went to high school less than two hours away from Auburn, was widely expected to go to Auburn, and then Harbaugh went "yoink." Michigan's recruiting efforts are not going to have a material impact on any out-of-region school; pretending that Harbaugh can't go pick off kids you want is sticking your fingers in your ears and going "la la la."
Pack line is music to the ears. Quinn profiles Billy Donlon in a long piece. They key bit for people blanching at triple-digit Kenpom D efficiencies:
At Wright State, Donlon primarily played a true pack line defense (a variation of man-to-man), while showing some 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones over the years. His team ranked in the top three in defensive efficiency in five of six years in the Horizon.
Over the last three seasons, Michigan has ranked 9th, 11th and 10th in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency.
"He has a great basketball mind in general, but the way he coaches defenses -- that's kind of his thing," said AJ Pacher, a Wright State center during Donlon's first four seasons. "He did a lot of film, and a lot scouting, and he'd implement a lot of against specific teams in specific games."
The foul tension will be fascinating to see unfold next year. Here's hoping Michigan is a lot more annoying, a lot more effective, and autobench is at least somewhat warranted.
As a side note:
As Tuesday afternoon wrapped up, Donlon declined to answer if he'll serve as a sort of pseudo-defensive coordinator at Michigan.
Dank meme questions bros.
An easy way to get fired. Like a lot of coaches, Charlie Strong has a twitter hashtag he uses to announce commits, albeit anonymously. Would you believe the Texas guy for Scout has trademarked this hashtag and is now selling merch featuring it? You would not. But it happened anyway:
Texas officials were surprised Monday after learning that a reporter who covers Longhorns recruiting had trademarked Strong’s phrase in March 2015 and recently started selling #Letsride T-shirts.
Jason Higdon, the lead recruiting analyst for Horns Digest, filed two federal trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year to use the phrase on various sports apparel and wristbands.
If this guy had any connect with the coaching staff he doesn't have it any longer, and if the reaction to this news is any indication he might not have a job much longer. There is now a JasonHigdon.com run by one of the Barking Carnival guys, because the internet is like that.
Etc.: Mount Hot Take has been discovered. Excellent summary of the A&M twitter disaster. Ditto the Tunsil situation. Basketball has a home and home scheduled with UCLA. SMSB director appreciates Harbaugh's advocacy.
Baumgardner profiles David Long. Please have all future profile posted before the 2016 recruiting profile for that player, pls thx. Also profiled: Jourdan Lewis. Bama is comin' to our citayyyy. Don't hire the son of a famous coach before he's done something to prove he's not a total buffoon. See also: Derek Dooley.
Oh, man, it's about to get good. Before we get to the Sweet Sixteen matchups, here's a look at the results from the Miscellaneous Harbaugh region, which nearly featured a major upset:
#1 Good Shit, Jedd: 972 (52%)
#8 Exit Stage Right: 903 (48%)
#4 Head Scratcher: 973 (60%)
#5 Cringe Emoji: 651 (40%)
#3 Pffffffhahahaha: 969 (57%)
#6 What F-ing Happened: 723 (43%)
#2 Snow Crabs?: 1,005 (60%)
#7 Shoulder Slump: 678 (40%)
The first round nearly went chalk across all four regions. That should change as we progress to the next round, which features some brutally difficult choices—especially, as you might expect, in the Bad Times region. Here's your Sweet Sixteen; I finally figured out how to make each poll open in a new tab, which should make the voting process a lot less annoying.
THE GOOD TIMES
(1) Harbaugh As Grinch vs. (4) Harbaugh/Drevno Awkward Celebration
Def. Harbaugh Clapping 93% to 7% in first round
That moment when Harbaugh snaps from bored press conference mode to diabolical Bond villian mode makes this GIF for me.
Def. Harbaugh/Drevno Successful Fist Bump 56% to 44% in first round
Hypothesis: Harbaugh switches up his celebratory bumps/high-fives/daps at the last moment just to see if his assistants can adjust on the fly.
Drevno passed, but it got hairy for a moment there.
(2) Spring Game Grin vs. (3) "You're Really Good"
Def. Fist Pump 76% to 24% in the first round.
If anyone has ever been more content to be at a spring game, I haven't seen it.
Def. Rudock Hug-Like Substance 57% to 43% in the first round.
Harbaugh geeking out over how good Jabrill Peppers is at football is remarkably endearing.
THE BAD TIMES
(1) Rage Stripping vs. (5) Rage On The Run
Def. Hat Antics 88% to 12% in the first round.
Given the horrified reaction of John Baxter...
...we probably should've anticipated his departure for USC.
Def. Sheet Throw 56% to 44% in the first round.
The on-the-run, back-to-front hat removal is spectacular.
(2) Slow-Motion Meltdown vs. (3) WELL OKAY
Def. Intent To Deceive 79% to 21% in the first round.
Def. Plea To The Football Gods 86% to 14% in the first round.
...is the toughest matchup.
HARBAUGH IN ACTION
(1) Dr. Harbaugh vs. (5) Hype-Up Beating
Def. Pre-Snap Adjustment 80% to 20% in the first round.
The BTN is thankful they weren't showing the reverse angle.
Def. Green Ass Smack 55% to 45% in the first round.
"Now go out there and kick some ass."
"Coach, I need smelling salts."
(2) Punt Demo vs. (3) Harbaugh's Huddle
Def. What's The Call 86% to 14% in the first round.
...John Baxter is appalled.
Def. Ready To Play 57% to 43% in the first round.
From a pure visual standpoint, perhaps my favorite GIF in the field. The winged helmet remains untouchable.
(1) Good Shit, Jedd vs. (4) Head Scratcher
Def. Exit Stage Right 52% to 48% in the first round.
The GIF with a great story and not much action appears ripe for an upset after barely surviving the opening round.
Def. Cringe Emoji 60% to 40% in the first round.
This is essentially Cringe Emoji with a bonus headscratch, so it's no wonder this won by a comfortable margin in the first round.
(2) Snow Crabs? vs. (3) Pffffffhahahaha
Def. Shoulder Slump 60% to 40% in the first round.
A priceless reaction.
Def. What F-ing Happened 57% to 43% in the first round.