"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."
Last week I started playing with Lemming's recruiting information to see how national recruiting had changed over the last few decades. Too late for that article I realized I could actually take this study back more than a century using lists of historical lettermen published by various teams in their annual media guides. Using the same regional breakdown I tried to get data for the same six I used in the old decimated defense series—Michigan, MSU, Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, and Alabama—but only three had accessible info.
These are based on letterwinners, not entire rosters, so scholarship freshmen on the scout team aren't counted. It still gives us a picture:
Vestibulum ut maior
First the goofy things. The breaks in Alabama's lines are 1919 and 1943, when the Tide didn't field teams because too many players were fighting World Wars I and II, respectively. That big spike for Bama right before WWII is because they were used as an officers training base just prior to the war. Michigan got this same temporary—by 1943 those officers had shipped overseas—bump, but not as many registered since most came from the Midwest (e.g. Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch from Wisconsin).
Second the obvious things. Notre Dame's claim to be a "national" program is defended by the data. From the 1920s through the '70s their teams were fielded from between 30% and 60% by players from outside of the Great Lakes States (plus Iowa). Since the '80s about 65% is the new normal. Michigan and Alabama tracked pretty similarly as major state schools who kept to their home regions up until Bo arrived. Beginning in 1969 Michigan began a trend upward that finally settled over 30% of players from outside their region. Alabama remained a predominantly regional program until Nick Saban arrived.
I zoomed in on the years since 1964 so we can better appreciate how coaching changes affected the programs:
Tangere facere magnum
Ewww don't touch me. I trust you know who Michigan's and Alabama's coaches were in 1964. The late '60s were the last time Michigan was as regional as Alabama. That now seems in danger of happening again. Last year Michigan dipped to 25.67% and Bama peaked at 25.33%.
Michigan graduated five players from outside the Midwest (Dileo, Gallon, Gibbons, Lewan, and Qwash), and two more (Ash and Furman) aren't returning for fifth years, but they brought in nine this year (Peppers, JBB, Winovich, Pallante, Watson, Speight, Mone, Cole and Canteen) so I expect their total to climb a little for 2014. It's too hard to say what Bama's number will be since they still need to cut 10 or 11 players before fall.
Championships win defense. Carr's 1997 championship, Parseghian's 1966 one, and Saban's 2009 title were all followed by steep increases in national recruiting; of the 14 titles in that chart two (Holtz's in 1988 and Stallings's in 1992) were accompanied by drops in the % of roster made up of extra-regional players. Michigan's historical peak is 2000, three years after their only TV-era national championship and one year after their Orange Bowl victory. The great Hoke classes of the last two years were very local.
[After the jump, I test another culprit]
Position: Running Back
Ht/Wt/40: 6'0" / 185 lbs. / 4.41
Location: McKinney North High School – McKinney, TX
Offers: Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Colorado State, Michigan, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulsa
Ranking: ★★★★ .9092 (247 Composite)
The Michigan coaches have ventured into Big 12 country and offered RB Ronald Jones II out of the Lone Star State. On film this may be one of my favorite recruits to be offered in the 2015 class. This kid is flat out electric with the ball in his hands and knows how to churn out yards despite not being the biggest back Michigan has targeted. The second I saw his highlight I thought Jamaal Charles 2.0, who coincidentally also hailed from Texas. The coaches will have to work very hard to pull Jones out of Texas but to me he would be worth the effort.
With the drama-free events of Signing Day for the Michigan coaches taken care of before lunch, the staff decided to extend an offer to Jones once the 2014 letters had rolled in. Jones explained how he learned of his offer and where Michigan ranks among his other offers.
My coach told me that he got the call from Coach Funk and then just told me you’ve been offered by Michigan. It felt good you know, Go Blue! They are definitely up there for me with the rich tradition and history they have. I definitely like them. They didn’t sign a running back today so that may make for a good opportunity for me.
The state of Texas is a factory for D1 football players and even though Michigan recruits Texas pretty heavily, the only Texan currently on the roster is Russell Bellomy. With Jones being born in Georgia and raised in Texas since he was a toddler, I asked him about how he perceives the Michigan program.
I’d call my interest right now medium or steady. I’m trying to learn a lot more about the program, I know about Denard Robinson and how he was on the cover of NCAA. I remember Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Chad Henne, and that team. I know they got a lot of history. I know about Desmond Howard being on ESPN on Saturday’s. I actually know a lot about Michigan but it is far away and it might be an issue getting up there for like a junior day or a visit or something like that.
The lid wasn’t even on the 2014 class yet and already coaches, especially Michigan’s, were able to really focus on the 2015 class, so I asked Ronald about how he plans to approach the now current 2015 recruiting cycle.
I want to make a decision pretty early I guess. Right now I’m just focusing on getting stronger. I’m just trying to enjoy the process. I’ve already taken a junior day visit to Baylor, I’ve been to Oklahoma, and I plan on going to TCU for a camp too. Honestly I would really like to check out Michigan. I’m going to talk to my mom and try to set something up either during spring break or over the summer when I actually have the time, but yeah I really want to try and make it up there.
I try to stay neutral when it comes to expressing my interest in players due to the nature of what I do, but this kid is a big YES PLEASE. His film is beyond impressive and talking to him was no different. He was a well-spoken, humble-sounding, yes-sir type of young man. His knowledge of Michigan also caught my attention because that’s not something that recruits can usually spout off the top of their heads.
Michigan recruits aggressively in Texas, but Texans can be hard to nab because they have so many solid options within their home state and in surrounding areas. Jones, as you’d expect, grew up liking the Longhorns, has been to multiple games in Austin, and was receiving a lot of attention from UT before Mack Brown was replaced by Charlie Strong. Jones said he hopes to starting hearing from the new staff and thinks an offer could be possible.
If Jones puts enough effort into checking out Ann Arbor I’d give Michigan an outside shot at landing him, but as of right now I think he’s going to be nearly impossible to lure away from the likes of a sexy Baylor, a refreshed Texas, the now-big-time Texas A&M Aggies, a confident Bama-beater in Oklahoma, as well as hot programs like Clemson and Oklahoma State.
Ht/Wt/40: 6'3" / 212 lbs. / 4.67
Location: Andrean High School – Merrillville, IN
Offers: Illinois, Michigan, Purdue
Ranking: ★★★★ .8900 (247 Composite)
At the end of January I spoke with 2015 LB Josh Barajas after I had learned that Coach Mallory stopped by his high school. Barajas was impressed with Mallory, called Michigan a top program in the country, and felt honored that one of the coaches took the time to see him. At that time their contact was limited and the main purpose of the visit seemed to be to invite Barajas to the junior day event planned for February 23. An offer didn’t seem imminent and Barajas told me that they never even said the word "offer during their initial contact. Eight days later and Barajas held an offer from the Wolverines.
Barajas was beyond excited to learn that he had earned a scholarship offer from Michigan.
Today after school my high school coach told me to give Coach Mallory a call. I called him and he immediately gave me the good news! I was in shock. I didn’t expect it to come, especially this early. I am super excited. It’s a big step in my recruiting and I’m just trying to soak it all in. Coach Mallory and I get into a ton of specifics but right now he said they’ve offered me at linebacker.
Barajas also spoke about how he likes Michigan for reasons besides football.
I know Michigan is a huge program and just as big, if not bigger, academically. I know the atmosphere is absolutely awesome. I see Michigan fans everywhere. Obviously the most winningest program in the nation will have that.
"Most winningest"! Barajas doesn’t have any formal connections to the university but he does have a Michigan advocate in his ear.
My school's baseball coach is a HUGE Michigan fan so I hear from him daily. I haven’t ever been there but I plan to for the junior day at the end of February.
With just three offers in his pocket Barajas expects his recruitment to pick up considerably and that means patience will be important as he starts to narrow his list and ultimately closes in on a decision.
It’s a big decision so I think I’m going to wait a while before committing of course. I want to get a taste and a feel for a lot of colleges to make sure I really like the one I choose. I definitely think that Michigan will be in the mix throughout though.
The process is in the early stages for Barajas and with Michigan being early to offer and being his biggest to date, I think the Wolverines will be in it for his services. I learned that Josh is very close friends with Enoch Smith Jr., a 2013 Spartan commit, and that Barajas is also quite high on Sparty, so if they decide to throw their hat into the ring, they could become the team to beat.
McDowell's: Still Open For Business
Malik McDowell committed to Michigan State last Wednesday, so why is he leading off another recruiting roundup? Well, his mother still refuses to sign a LOI that will send him to East Lansing, leaving his recruitment at an impasse. Now it appears McDowell may not end up a Spartan after all; 247's Steve Wiltfong has the latest ($):
The elder McDowell says all four schools remain in play and that they are in the process of scheduling unofficial visits back to the Buckeyes, Seminoles and Wolverines campuses. He added a return trip to Michigan State is not necessary for the family.
“He wants Michigan State, he wants that,” Greg McDowell said. “I know he wants that.”
Greg McDowell says he’s fine with his son attending Michigan State if that’s what he truly wants, while McDowell’s mother Joya Crowe has yet to come around on the Spartans.
In case matters weren't complicated enough, the News' Tom Markowski caught up with McDowell's high school coach, who said the visits are "something his dad is wishing for, but Malik hasn’t said anything but MSU."
It still looks like Michigan is on the outside looking in, but it also looks a lot less likely McDowell will end up at Michigan State than it did just a few days ago.
New 2015 and 2016 Offers
A couple more offers went out in recent days as Michigan continues to go after more and more underclassmen targets.
Four-star 2015 IN ILB Josh Barajas (junior highlights) told Wiltfong he was "still in shock" shortly after receiving his Michigan offer ($). UPDATE: Brandon spoke to him. The Wolverines appear to have timed this offer well; despite fielding recent interest from Michigan State and Notre Dame, only Illinois and Purdue offered Barajas before Michigan. He's got visits scheduled to U-M, MSU, and ND in the next month.
Michigan also offered 2016 TX OL Greg Little, who's quickly transition from tight end to burgeoning tackle prospect, per Steve Lorenz ($). His offer list—which includes the likes of Arizona State, Baylor, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech—suggests he's one of the top tackle prospects in his class; while Little says he will try to visit Michigan, he could be a very tough pull.
PSA: Phones Can (And Should) Film Horizontally
Jabrill Peppers released the first of an unspecified number of YouTube videos documenting his visit to Michigan and why he chose the Wolverines. I haven't had the chance to go through the 15-minute episode above, but a quick scan reveals that arrrrrgghhh vertical video whyyyyyyyyy. Aside from that poor choice, however, this should be a very interesting watch.
In other commit news, here's a fun quote from 2015 CB Shaun Crawford:
On Wednesday, during an interview with Cleveland.com, Crawford was once again asked about his Buckeye offer and what it meant to him.
Without much hesitation, Crawford reached for a Michigan hat, put it atop his head and fully declared where his heart resides at the moment.
"I'm Michigan all the way," Crawford said. "Picking up the Ohio State offer was great.
"But they were a little too late."
Ali-esque rhyming dig right there. I like it.
Recently offered four-star NJ OT Grant Newsome told Sam Webb he will "definitely" visit Michigan and placed the Wolverines among the top schools he plans to visit ($):
Sam Webb: Aside from Michigan, do you know off the top of your head some of the other schools that you for sure are going to visit?
Grant Newsome: “I haven’t really set the list yet. I will probably be taking a visit to Penn State and Northwestern, maybe South Carolina. I think those are four I will probably take visits to but I really haven’t set the list.”
Newsome wants to make a decision before his senior year; with his recruitment picking up steam, Michigan looks to be a strong contender.
Another recent OL offer, 2015 PA four-star Ryan Bates, told Webb that new offers from Michigan and Michigan State will be compared to his current favorites, Penn State and South Carolina; that should happen soon, as he plans to decide in the spring or early summer ($).
Michigan made the top ten for four-star TX dual-threat QB Jarrett Stidham, though Texas Tech is still regarded as his early leader.
Scout updated their top 300 for the 2015 class. Shaun Crawford comes in at #65 (#8 CB), Tyree Kinnel at #220 (#27 CB), and Jon Runyan Jr. at #294 (#20 OG).
2/8/2014 – Michigan 67, Iowa 85 – 17-6, 9-2 Big Ten
Did you know it took like three hundred years for people to agree that they should not spell a lower-case F like they spell a lower case S?
I know it seems obvious enough that some under-typeface apprentice would eventually get into a life-threatening slap-fight with the over-apprentice about this issue, but the only people they could relate this life or death issue to were their immediate family. Since everyone got wiped out every five years by the epidemic du jour, the end result was a bunch of corpses and no progress towards anything resembling sense in written language. Which of course brings me to "welp."
"Welp" is unique amongst internet utterances, and that makes me love it. "Welp" is an expression of fatalism in the face of disaster. It maintains no sense of irony, mitigation, or aloofness. To say it is to say "this hurt me, and it is unfair and stupid, and now I am moving on."
Compare that to any other sentiment expressed by an internet meme in an effort to find a better one, like, morally. Go on. Go ahead. I submit that you have not found anything even in that category, let alone competing with it.
And this, of course, brings me to opponent three point shooting.
Michigan's defense is sinking like a stone in Big Ten and national rankings, and deservedly. When Roy Devyn Marble pulled up for an open transition three after a Michigan make, fuming was an appropriate response. (Silent fuming, or at least just twitter fuming.) Caris LeVert was standing next to Glenn Robinson in the paint; there was no reason whatsoever for a clearly-dangerous Marble to not be a priority.
But even so, come on man. A week after Yogi Ferrell was 8/9 from three, Marble was 6/10 and started 6/7; as a team, Iowa shot 59%. They started out 9/12. One game earlier, Iowa went 3 of 20 against Ohio State. They're dead last in threes attempted in the league for a reason.
In between these two games, Michigan bombed the Cornhuskers back to the stone age. I'm ready for basketball to resume being a game instead of an exercise in flipping a coin to see who gets a face-eating bear dropped on them. To some extent, you just have to say this hurt me and is stupid and let's move on.
To some extent. Michigan's latest struggle has further exposed Michigan's defense as a problem that is not going away. Michigan typically sticks Caris LeVert on the opposition's most dangerous perimeter player, and this has not gone at all well the past month. Michigan turned off Terran Petteway in their laugher, and Purdue does not have a dangerous perimeter player. The other three most dangerous players went off:
Gary Harris: 27 points, 5/9 from 2, 4/6 from three.
Yogi Ferrell: 27 points, 7/8 from 3.
Roy Devyn Marble: 26 points, 6/10 from three.
The thing that made Trey Burke Trey Burke is his general refusal to be removed from the gameplan. It happened, mostly against Aaron Craft. When it happened Burke would fume with hatred until he could stab his nemesis in the face. Sometimes that took a few weeks, as when Burke had 16 points, eight assists, and gave Aaron Craft in last year's OSU rematch. Sometimes it happened on the other side of halftime—ask Kansas.
So here it is for Stauskas. Is it going to be "welp, I guess somebody does put baby in the corner," or is it going to be a rain of hellfire upon all those who presume to check Nik The Great And Powerful? And here it is for LeVert: is it going to be "welp, that three went in" or is opponent going to get off a good three over your dead body?
It is crunch time. Let's see some lip curl.
GET YOUR HANDS UP. It was one thing for LeVert to play frustratingly far off the lightning-quick Ferrell, because Ferrell does just go by guys in a flash. Marble is good, but not that good, and open look after open look just got handed to him by miscommunication and other things. Caris has a bad habit of being in position with his hands down that practically invites guys to raise up over him.
Time to acknowledge reality. Devolving offensive responsibility from Stauskas is painful partially because it turns Glenn Robinson into a guy who's trying to create off the bounce. This doesn't work well very often. Against Iowa it was a complete disaster, as he had 4 TOs against one assist and was 1/7 from the floor. A couple of those were open looks generated by his teammates; the rest were heavily contested jacks.
There was one particularly illuminating possession on which Robinson gingerly prodded at whichever 6'9" guy was checking him and then dumped it off to Walton with the shot clock ticking down. One lightning-quick Walton crossover later he was in the lane getting fouled. Robinson had just tried a similar move; in comparison his looked like he was executing it in a tar pit.
Robinson can do good work coming off curl screens and on cuts, but the only time he should dribble in an effort to score the basket is off a post-up. This is completely fine as long as the team acknowledges GRIII's strengths and weaknesses and plays to them accordingly.
At least Irvin's heating up. 19 points for Irvin in 22 minutes, 4/5 from three, and he was able to take the ball to the hole in transition a couple times. He's slowly diversifying his game, and he does shoot a lot. He's putting up 27% of Michigan's shots when he's on the floor, and his eFG% is near 60%.
Emphasis on "slowly," though. Irvin still does almost nothing other than shoot in a box score. This is the third straight game he's recorded neither a TO or assist; he's got one assist in Big Ten play.
Crushed in McGary stats. Iowa blew Michigan out on the boards with 15 offensive rebounds. That's not a huge surprise against the fee-fi-fo-fum Hawkeyes. Worse is Michigan forcing only 7 TOs and losing steals 9-3. That is an 11 shot advantage handed the Hawkeyes; that's how you give up 1.33 PPP.
This was a game in which Michigan did really miss Mitch. Morgan only got 15 minutes and had zero defensive rebounds; Horford was better but still eh.
Caris steps up, again. As frustrating as LeVert's game was defensively, he was really, really good on offense, with 22 points on 17 shot equivalents. He's not in Stauskas's class as a distributor and he's not as efficient of a shooter, but he is a fine second option. It's just the "second" bit that needs work.
This guy. I knew we were in trouble as soon as this guy.
That guy is a mobile home court advantage. I wish to hire him to do his thing whenever I post something.
There's no way I'm recapping, uh, that on a Saturday afternoon. Consider this an open thread (as always, keep it civil) and try to keep in mind that Michigan bounced back pretty well from a similar outing last year.