this may be of some local interest
When the Seattle Seahawks drafted Frank Clark in the second round of last weekend's NFL Draft, the obvious question arose: how would organization handle Clark's November arrest for a domestic violence charge?
The details of the arrest report were disturbing; Brady Hoke called the incident "unacceptable" while dismissing Clark from the program; at the NFL Combine, Clark engaged in an unsettling bit of victim-blaming instead of shouldering the full responsibility for his actions.* Clark pled guity to reduced charges in April. For an NFL team looking to draft Clark, due diligence was required; this wasn't even Clark's first run-in with the law.
On Friday, Seahawks GM John Schneider said all the right things about the organization's investigation into the incident:
“Our organization has an in-depth understanding of Frank Clark’s situation and background,” Schneider told reporters in Renton after the second and third rounds on Friday. “We have done a ton of research on this young man. There hasn’t been one player in this draft that we have spent more time researching and scrutinizing more than Frank. That’s why we have provided Frank with this opportunity and are looking forward to him succeeding in our culture here in Seattle.”
Schneider said, based on the team's investigation, he didn't believe Clark hit his girlfriend, and domestic violence issues were a deal-breaker when evaluating players. That revelation came as quite the surprise to many, including witnessess of the November incident—witnesses who, according to a bombshell report in the Seattle Times today, were never consulted by the Seahawks:
But the Seahawks made him the 63rd overall pick in the draft, saying team officials had conducted an extensive investigation of their own and felt confident that the 6-foot-2, 277-pound Clark had not struck his girlfriend. The team acknowledged on Monday that their investigation did not include interviews with witnesses other than Clark.
The police report describing the incident quotes Diamond Hurt, then 20, saying Clark punched her in the face. Hurt’s younger brothers are quoted saying the same thing.
When Babson and Colie found her, Hurt “was just laying there,’’ Babson said. “She looked like she was unconscious to me.
“The kids were saying, ‘He killed my sister!’ ’’
Colie added that Hurt “was on the ground, curled up and holding her head and stuff.’’
Both women gave written statements to police via email the following day. But they say they never heard back from anybody about the case until The Seattle Times contacted them on Monday.
The Seahawks didn't perform a thorough investigation. They didn't even perform a half-assed one. They talked to the person they wanted to play football for them, heard what they wanted to hear, and willfully ignored a great deal of evidence that directly contradicted their conclusions.
It's a remarkable failure that hurts all parties involved.
It's an unfortunate reality-check for the ever-increasing number of people hoping the NFL will actually take domestic violence seriously, instead of doing the bare minimum to avoid negative PR. I can't imagine how the victim must feel seeing Clark's new employer take her alleged assailant at his word and make no effort to get the full story, one corroborated by multiple witnesses.
It also does no favors for Clark. While his alleged transgressions—and his subsequent statements—leave little room for sympathy, he's had his day in court and isn't subject to further discipline from the NFL; he should be able to move forward with his career, ideally with the support of an organization that is there to help him learn from his past and become a better person.
Seattle's investigation and its backlash, which is only just beginning, cast that into serious doubt. If the Seahawks feel obligated to correct their mistakes with this investigation, Clark will be the one looking for a job, and while he has nobody to blame but himself for being in that position, that doesn't mean it's justified. Cutting Clark may save some face for the organization, but that's about it, and it certainly doesn't help Clark find his way to a better path. If Clark remains, on the other hand, Seattle's initial handling of this doesn't instill confidence they'll do a whole lot to support Clark's growth as anything but a football player.
The Seahawks hurt themselves, too—at the very least they're facing a major controversy, and at worst they'll cut a second-round pick before he ever suits up for them—but they've somehow set themselves up as the least sympathetic party in this most recent ordeal.
What's perhaps the most galling is how unnecessary this is. Clark's alleged assault was common knowledge heading into the draft, and most expected he'd still get drafted; I don't think the central issue here is with him getting a chance to play in the NFL, or even that he got selected earlier than expected for a player with his off-field history. What concerns me most is this: Seattle didn't take the issue seriously, no matter what they say, and in doing so they set everyone up for failure.
*Clark would later make a more contrite statement of apology (last paragraph). He still maintains he didn't strike the victim.
This was boss by James Ross. Read on to find out why it was pretty cool of Mattison too.
In football everything old tends to become new again. In last week's article on the Saban pattern-matching defense I alluded to how Alabama tried to use the same strategy Virginia Tech had against Ohio State, and got "85 Yards Through the Heart of the Southland" in their face. However Michigan had some success last year defending this same stuff from a base alignment. So I thought I'd explain how.
A quick refresher on what "3T" and "2i" etc. mean: A "technique" is the place a defensive lineman lines up relative to the offensive linemen:
When we say Willie Henry is a perfect 3-tech, it means he's good at doing things that you would do if you're usually lining up on the guard's outside shoulder.
They are numbered more or less from the inside out, but it gets confusing from having amalgamated many different coaches' terms for where a defender's hat starts. Like how a baseball diamond can comfortably accommodate all four sexual acts you knew of in 3rd grade, but once you're deep into high school extending the analogy leads to a lot of weirdness and disagreement.
Notice that there aren't names for lining up directly in a gap; you want your lineman to be "covering" (lined up in front of) someone to some goodly degree because in any scheme delaying an offensive lineman from getting downfield is a win for the defense. This will be important in a bit, but first let's talk about what OSU does.
By now I figure you know what the zone read looks like. Meyer does zone—and did so a lot more with zone guy Tom Herman at the helm than the heavy power stuff he ran at Florida—but at his heart he's still a Manballer. He manballs with the read-option…
…and he Manballs with regular old Power O from his spread sets. Here's what that looks like:
This was the same running game they used to pound defenses to death with Carlos Hyde, using the constant threat of Braxton Miller loping around the backside if you attacked that by crashing the middle, and dangerous vertical threats running downfield if you activate your safeties against it.
If Brian had UFR'd this I imagine he'd ding Glasgow –2 for getting blown five yards downfield by the double (and the refs for Mone getting held but that rarely gets called). Bolden had to watch for a backside cut but his path to the ball was blocked by Glasgow. The hold meant Mone couldn't fight off his block to stop the puller from getting into the lane, and Ryan can only pop that guy to restrict the hole.
But back up; why did such a good running offense need a hold and a good NT getting blown off the ball to gain its yards? Michigan made this hard by having two defensive tackles lined up over the guards. If Mone and Glasgow could hold their ground, Ryan and Bolden have a chance to stop this for a minimal gain. Two plays later they would, and it goes back to what Virginia Tech is doing with the old Bear.
[After the jump]
Another Week, Another Camp
247's Steve Wiltfong has a free recap of last weekend's Chicago regional for The Opening, which featured Michigan commit Brandon Peters and several top targets. Four players earned invites to The Opening finals, including Detroit King's Lavert Hill and Donnie Corley. Peters wasn't among them, nor was he MVP of his position group—that honor went to Messiah deWeaver, incidentally—after what Sam Webb described as a decent performance with room for improvement ($):
Michigan quarterback commit Brandon Peters showed impressive arm strength throughout the day, often drawing praise from camp instructors for the nice zip he put on the football. That said, his accuracy was up and down and he was high with many of his passes. He did find some semblance of consistency during 7-on-7 action at the end of day, during which he was much more accurate
You can see both the strong arm and the tendency to overthrow in the Vine from Lorenz above. In an article that also includes more detailed analysis from Clint Brewster, Peters gave a self-assessment to Lorenz:
"I learned a lot about my game today and what I need to do to get better," he said. "I need to work on how I use my lower body a lot better and have to develop a better consistency at keeping my eyes level as I scan the field. I thought I performed alright today but I definitely have some work to do."
Brewster's comparison for Peters at this stage is Sam Bradford; I'm sure Michigan fans would be just fine with his college career playing out in similar fashion.
Allen Trieu's top ten performers from the event is also worth checking out, as it's mostly comprised of Michigan targets. One of them, Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu, was the subject of a rather unfortunate mix-up, via Sam Webb on The Victors Board ($):
I've been getting questions on Mike Onwenu's weight. Specifically, did he weigh in at 360 lbs. I didn't see the scale, so I can't say for sure that he doesn't weigh that much. All I can say is he didn't look like he is 360 and he didn't move like he is 360.
It's my theory that he got mixed up with Juan Harris. That said if Onwenu is 360, then Harris is well over 400 (word was he currently tips the scales at 390 lbs.)
The photos confirm; Onwenu's on the left, Harris on the right:
Webb noted Michigan backed off their offer to Harris, which isn't at all a surprise given the above.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
It's happening. Hail To The Victors is fully funded with two weeks left to go. I credit Harbaugh more than anything else. Thanks all the same; we will still be taking pre-orders through Kickstarter through the 18th.
Hail to the king. Oh nothing just Harbaugh hanging out with the first lady and Ciara.
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) May 1, 2015
Soon he will start appearing in historically significant photos and no one will remember that he was not, in fact, present.
Also sick beatz yo
— Coach Erik Campbell (@ErikCampbell) May 1, 2015
Seriously. I want to know what a Jim Harbaugh stadium playlist sounds like. Other than silence and the sound of manliness.
Hutch points with the best of 'em [Paul Sherman]
Hail to the queens. Softball locks down its eighth-straight Big Ten title:
On Sunday, No. 3 Michigan softball won the conference's top spot outright, beating Penn State 9-2 to improve to 48-6. It was the program's eighth-straight championship and 19th all-time.
Christner hit a walk-off, RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning to score Sierra Romero from second and end the game via the run-rule. Christner finished the day 2-for-2 with three RBI, and 8-for-9 in the series.
They will host the Big Ten championship and should get a home regional.
It could be happening? Michigan rattles its defection sabers in an interesting direction:
Michigan's process of figuring out whether or not it'll stick with Adidas or sign with a new apparel provider is ongoing. And this week, Michigan athletic department officials saw a pitch from Under Armour at its headquarters in Baltimore, a university spokesman confirmed.
A meeting is just a meeting and could be held for reasons other than "we are seriously considering Under Armour." I wouldn't read anything in particular into that. It is a move that implies Michigan is seriously considering a change despite having a contract that gives them Most Favored Nation status.
As for UA's pull, they just signed Wisconsin and their Notre Dame contract is rumored to be very big:
Under Armour has proven it can pay big money, too, though, as the supplier reportedly signed Notre Dame to a 10-year, $90 million contract in 2014. Though Notre Dame has never publicly confirmed those figures.
If money is the only factor it won't be Nike, which tops out at about half that. And if we're talking about Adidas versus UA my preference is for the latter.
Congrats draftees. Devin Funchess and Frank Clark went in the second round; Jake Ryan went in the fourth. Seems about right for Funchess and Ryan. Clark's spot is interesting for multiple reasons.
He got booted for a domestic violence charge, then failed to follow the contrition playbook in the aftermath. If you thought this might make the NFL wary you may have also had hopes the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight was going to be interesting. Nope.
The other interesting bit: that Clark got drafted in the second round, period. He was always a pretty good player who flashed high-level talent; he was not the kind of consistent threat I'd think is mandatory for anyone to be drafted as a DE in the first two rounds. I mean, Alan Branch went in the second round. I didn't think Clark was anywhere near his level in college. The Seahawks evidently did.
It sounds like they did do their homework. Nick Baumgardner has an extensive article on Clark's draft spot:
He said Michigan's staff and personnel were "shocked" by the arrest, and maintained that the team got enough information from U-M's staff to allow the team to feel confident in taking a chance on Clark in the second round. He also explained how there were a number of teams who were prepared to take Clark on Friday night, possibly early in the third round.
"It was a process," he said. "I was there two days after it happened. Our area (scout) went through there twice. Our regional scout went through there twice. We spent several days there. The easy thing to do was to dismiss this. But, over time and I don't want to get into specifics of it, things became clearer and clearer in the evaluation process.
"We brought him out here, he met with our sports psychologist. But to be there at the time, to see the secretary's reaction ... it was, like 'wow.' ... You get a really, really good feel for the individual (in doing that)."
As I said before, Clark's got an opportunity for a second chance that not a lot of people get. I hope he makes the most of it.
Etc.: MLive has video from a recent AAU tournament featuring commit Austin Davis and target Brian Bowen. Gardner pre-draft interview. He landed with Tom Brady, which is not a bad place to land. The NCAA's mission is disavowed by the NCAA.
Jaylen Brown tells Scout that he has committed to California. Story coming.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) May 2, 2015
The lesson, as always, is that Tennessee is bad at having college sports. It would have been real, real nice to grab Brown but Michigan is still looking at a very deep roster that should see them have a nice 2015-16. C'est la vie.
Previously: Devin Funchess
We've reached the second day of the NFL Draft, and at least one former Wolverine—Devin Funchess—should hear his name called relatively soon when the second and third rounds begin this evening. Another Michigan player with some positional uncertainty is the next up in our draft profiles: Jake Ryan, who could find a home at either inside or outside linebacker in the NFL as a projected 4-5 round pick.
By The Numbers
Height/Weight: 6'2", 240
40 Time: 4.65 (combine)
Senior stats: 112 tackles (67 solo), 14.0 TFL, 2 sacks, 5 FF, 1 INT, 3 PBU
Junior stats: 30 tackles (23 solo), 4.5 TFL, 1 PBU (8 games, coming off ACL injury)
Sophomore stats: 88 tackles (57 solo), 16.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 5 FF, 3 PBU
By the end of his college career, Ryan proved very productive at two different positions, terrorizing backfields as a sophomore SAM and leading the team in tackles as a senior MIKE. He could end up at either of those spots in the NFL, and his versatility should help him secure a roster spot and make him a valuable backup regardless of his team's scheme.
While Ryan's combine numbers are merely average, his athleticism is more impressive on the football field. He closes quickly on the football and covers the field sideline-to-sideline, and when he's confident in his assignment he's very quick off the snap. Add in a relentless motor and good things happen when Ryan blitzes, whether off the edge or up the gut:
Ryan is usually a good tackler, though the above play does feature a weakness in that regard—he'll occasionally come in too fast and fail to break down in time to wrap up.
Ryan improved over the course of his career at diagnosing plays—something he had to re-learn a bit when he transitioned to the middle—and staying in his lane. He reliably set the edge as an outside linebacker, and in the middle he wasn't the type to jump over a gap and open up a cutback lane.
I'm no coach, but even I could see some of the ways Ryan worked around blocks—especially early in his career—and tell you he needs to work on his technique; Ryan takes the occasional false step, and while he got away with that a lot at Michigan, it'll be harder to cover at the NFL level.
I also have my doubts about Ryan's ability to play in the middle. While he had excellent performances his senior year against the likes of Indiana and Penn State, flawed and therefore predictable offenses, he struggled against more well-rounded teams. When offenses kept Ryan guessing, he was slower to diagnose plays, which mitigated his explosiveness off the snap; that often resulted in Ryan catching a blocker without the momentum to do anything about it:
While opponents had a very difficult time keeping Ryan blocked during his sophomore season, when he came off the edge, they had an easier time controlling him when he lined up in the middle. He's not always as physical as he needs to be when taking a block head-on, making it difficult to shed and make a play.
Ryan also had his issues in coverage, mostly with putting himself in the right spot in zone coverage. Given those problems, I think he fits better as a SAM.
Ryan's stock could be a whole lot higher if he hadn't essentially lost a year to a torn ACL before switching positions. Instead of establishing himself as an elite SAM or having a year of playing the MIKE under his belt, he spent much of his senior season still learning the finer points of playing in the middle.
On the plus side, his experience at multiple spots gives him versatility that's very coveted at the NFL level; anyone who can fill multiple roles while taking up just one roster spot is quite valuable. Ryan has the opportunity to add to that by being a special teams demon; he seems well-suited for that role.
Ryan has the size and physical tools to be an NFL starter. Whether or not he gets there depends on how quickly he can improve his technique and instincts.