Michigan has its second Signing Day commitment from a blue chip recruit hailing from deep in SEC country. After five-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon pledged this morning, Pinson (AL) Clay-Chalkville WR Nico Collins closed out the class by choosing the Wolverines over Georgia.
While Collins didn't quite have as dramatic a recruitment as Solomon, his took similar twists and turns; he was long considered a Michigan lock until a late Georgia surge that the Wolverines managed to overcome. He's the 30th commit in the 2017 class and the fifth at wide receivier, joining Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, Oliver Martin, and Brad Hawkins.
4*, #24 WR,
4*, #17 WR,
4*, 82, #21 WR,
4*, 92, #29 WR,
4*, #23 WR,
After Rivals briefly had Collins in five-star territory, there's now a strong consensus on his ability; all four sites have in a relatively tight range in both the overall and position rankings, with Rivals still on the bullish end and 247 on the bearish.
Collins is a tall, burly receiver. He measured in a 6'5", 202 pounds at The Opening finals last July.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, offers, video, and more.]
McKeon: still a freshman? [Eric Upchurch]
On redshirts. I don't know if this is a recent change or if it has always been this way, but the medical redshirt operating parameters I've been working with are incorrect. I've been under the impression that if you play at all after game #4 you are ineligible. That is in fact not the case:
The injury must occur prior to the start of the second half of the season.
The student-athlete must not have competed in more than 30% of the season or three contests, whichever is greater.
(FWIW, I looked this up in the NCAA's bylaw search engine to confirm. I am an exciting person with many rewarding pastimes.)
The NCAA rounds up if 30% of the season is not an integer, so as long as games played < 5 and latest game played < 7, you are eligible. For Michigan that means guys who played in four or fewer games and did not participate after Rutgers can get a year of eligibility back if there is sufficient medical documentation. I believe Michigan has assembled such documentation.
Classification of freshmen follows.
- Did not play: Brandon Peters, Kareem Walker, Stephen Spanellis, Ron Johnson, Quinn Nordin.
- Eligible for hardship year: Kingston Davis, Nick Eubanks, Sean McKeon, Carlo Kemp, Mike Dwumfour, Josh Uche, David Long.
- Definitely sophomores: Chris Evans, Kekoa Crawford, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, Devin Asiasi, Ben Bredeson, Mike Onwenu, Rashan Gary, Devin Gil, Elysee Mbem-Bosse, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Josh Metellus.
If the guys eligible for hardships get them that dials back the Great Halifax Redshirt Fire Of 2016 a great deal. The only burned redshirts that look wasteful in that case are Nate Johnson (who played just three games, but one was Nebraska) and maybe the two linebackers. Everyone else was either an important contributor or clear heir apparent needed in 2017.
We've moved the hardship-eligible folks back to the freshman column on the depth chart by class.
RIP Tirrel Burton. John U Bacon eulogizes:
Today, big time college football coaches are media stars, with thousands of followers on Twitter. They’re rich and famous, whether they should be or not. Even assistant coaches are millionaires. But it wasn’t always that way.
This week in Ann Arbor a few hundred people gathered to remember a college football coach who wasn’t rich or famous. But he’d earned the respect of everyone there.
Returning experience: nope! There was a spate of articles last offseason claiming that Michigan was low on returning experience; these were wrong because they believed the Michigan roster and its lack of announced redshirts. This year, though, I rather believe metrics like Bill Connelly's that declare Michigan to be #127 of 129 D-I teams in returning experience. Losing 9.5 defensive starters*, three OL, and your top three receivers tends to do that.
Other Big Ten teams way down the list: Iowa (#118), Nebraska (#122), and... yep, 3-9 Michigan State (#124). The most alarming aspect of last year's MSU outfit from the perspective of an MSU fan has to be the fact that they were not young at all.
Michigan doesn't play anyone particularly high up the list except Indiana, which just set their program on fire. It is notable that 2017 opponent Air Force—a charter member of the MGoBlog Never Schedule This Team list, thanks Dave—is dead last. Hopefully we don't get the bejeezus scared out of us again.
*[Mo Hurst was a starter in production if not actuality.]
It's been a while. Here's a Big Ten fight song medley from 1929. Chicago is included, and Michigan State is not, like God intended.
NFL scouting for various Michigan players. Many impressed. Jourdan Lewis:
Lewis used light feet, loose hips and excellent acceleration to blanket receivers throughout the practice. Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp (more on him later) was one of the few receivers to gain even a sliver of space on Lewis Tuesday and though he managed to catch one pass on the Wolverines' star, Lewis was there immediately to eliminate any possible yardage after the grab.
Lewis' agility and acceleration stood out in the afternoon but during the weigh-ins Tuesday morning it was his surprising length that proved a pleasant surprise. Though possessing just "average" height for the position at 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds, Lewis has disproportionately long arms (31 inches), which make him that much better suited to handling the massive receivers he'll face on the outside in the NFL.
Ben Gedeon - Michigan LB - Hard nosed, seems to be going faster than others at the spot / Instinctive / Not a playmaker but could be a strong special teamer
Chris Wormley - Michigan DL - Huge / great line from a scout 'his calfs are the size of goal posts' / prob a 1st rounder, needs to play mean
2. DE - Chris Wormley, Michigan - An ideal blend of size (6-foot-5½, 297) and speed for an NFL defensive end in a 4-3 system, nobody displayed better and more consistent pass-rushing speed in Mobile this week than Wormley. He's quick off the snap, good at splitting double teams and can get to the quarterback.
8. ILB - Ben Gedeon, Michigan - Yes, there was a lot of Wolverine representation on the North Defense. Michigan didn't finish No. 1 in the nation in total defense for nothing. Gedeon (6'1 5/8" / 247) was a standout against the run in all three days of practice. He's strong and physical with good instincts. He struggled at times on his pass rush drills, but he may be best suited as a two down inside linebacker who goes to the sidelines in passing situations anyway.
Smith, who gained 846 yards on 181 carries and scored 10 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines in 2016, has looked more elusive than he did in Ann Arbor. He also has proven he can catch. Add those traits to his blocking ability and his familiarity with pro-style protections after playing two seasons for Jim Harbaugh, and Smith suddenly looks like a mid-round pick a team can plug in immediately. And if the line in front of him is good enough, Smith could wind up on one of those lists.
Blue chip quarterbacks: many transfer. Dueling takes on the same subject on Signing Day eve from the Sporting News and Sports on Earth. The latter article is a just-the-facts-ma'am take on the recent history of blue-chip QBs:
It would be a mistake to call it an epidemic. Transfers have gone up in college football, and that's especially true at quarterback, where there are only so many starting positions available. The wave of transfers is often treated like a problem, but players switching schools to try to find a better opportunity for themselves is hardly an actual problem. (Coaches do it all the time.) The graduate transfer rule in particular has made transferring easier, as veteran players with degrees in hand can switch teams without sitting out a year.
The massive wave of transfers is undeniably a big story, even if it's overblown as a problem. While a lot of coaches and fan bases will be excited on Wednesday when blue-chip quarterbacks sign to play at their school, there's a good chance that those QBs won't actually finish their careers with the same team or deliver on the hype.
In fact, from 2007-13, more than half of four- and five-star quarterback recruits didn't finish their college career at the school they originally picked, whether it's because they transferred, were dismissed, switched to baseball or gave up playing football. (This does not include players who left early for the NFL Draft.) Likewise, just 44.1 percent of the 145 blue-chip quarterbacks signed from 2007-13 attempted at least 300 career passes for their original team.
The Sporting News article gets a bunch of huffy quotes from Brady Quinn about kids these days:
"It's almost like a generational systematic issue where kids feel entitled and they feel like they should have the opportunity," Quinn said. "They don’t realize that opportunity is earned. It's not given. That's kind of my issue with it. I don't know how you change it unless you change things at the levels below college."
As you might imagine, this caused some eyerolls in MGoSlack. There are two main reasons for the uptick in transfers: the grad transfer rule and the commercialization of the sport.
The first one should be obvious: a redshirt senior who would otherwise be out of luck can now transfer, degree in hand, to another school where he'll get a shot. Shane Morris counts as a departure; ten years ago he would have not been offered a fifth year by Michigan and would be done with college football.
The second is a little more winding, but when you've spent the last 20 years doing literally everything you can to maximize revenue with no other concerns do you really expect platitudes about loyalty to mean much? Recruits are told it's a business now, and, I mean, does it or does it not act exactly like a business? It does. And you'd be dumb to have loyalty to most businesses.
Meanwhile I wonder how many of those Bama transfers even had the option to return this season. One, certainly. Saban no doubt prefers a veteran option if Hurts gets injured. Three? No. The NCAA's overall cap on scholarships encourages movement. It's not a damn millennials thing, and it's certainly not a problem with high schools and parents. Move to a yearly cap with no overall cap and transfers go down immensely because there's no motivation for schools to prune kids who aren't panning out.
To blame the players, who are doing the things the system either tells them to or literally forces them to, is high grade paternalist bullshit. I love the smell of NCAA in the morning.
Harbaugh antics, year 3. I mean:
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh bumped into a familiar face on the recruiting trail in Iowa on Wednesday evening.
This meeting was significantly less painful for Harbaugh than the first.
Harbaugh tweeted a photo of himself and Dan McGivern, the man who he said was driving a mail truck that broke Harbaugh's leg nearly 50 years ago.
Just like wow man.
Etc.: Notre Dame blogs are bringing up Charlie Weis again, so that's fun. A look back at the 2007 Rivals 100, ten years on. Michigan guys do not feature heavily—that was the Mallett/Warren year where after the top two they barely got anyone. Toney Clemons was the only other top 100 guy. This is a good recruiting class. Lawsuit filed against Baylor is incredible. Charity Bowl opens early. Fouad Egbaria on the MSU game. Ryan Glasgow might land at the same place his brother did.
For the first time ever, the MGoBlog staff photographers covered all 13 Michigan Football games. In addition we covered Basketball, Gymnastics, Hockey, Softball, Signing of the Stars, The Nike/Jumpman Launch, and many other media days, press conferences, etc. It has been an interesting ride and we've loved every minute of it.
First and foremost, thank you to Brian, Ace, Seth, Adam, and David for all that you do to make our job possible. You guys are awesome!
Second, thanks to the readership of MGoBlog. Your support on the blog and through social media has been outstanding. We appreciate all of you…well most of you…well some of you. It's hard to believe that I have just finished covering my 6th season of football for MGoBlog. It has been an interesting ride thus far. I'm looking forward to many more seasons on the sideline.
I also want to make sure that we thank the other photographers who stepped in when one of us can not cover a game: Bill Rapai, Marc-Gregor Campredon, Paul Sherman, and Joseph Dressler. You guys have done a great job.
All that out of the way, I thought I'd share some of my favorite photos (from all of us) to come out of it.
MGoPhotographers Eric Upchurch, Bryan Fuller, and Patrick Barron
[After THE JUMP]
[Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette]
The sinuous path of Oliver Martin’s recruitment has reached its end with Martin’s Michigan pledge last evening. Martin seemed like he might commit to Michigan at any time this past fall; after appearing to be a Notre Dame lean, 247’s Crystal Ball moved in favor of Michigan before moving back to Notre Dame and finally ending solidly in favor of Michigan. Crootin! With all the buzz around his name, I decided to look for a full game to scout. Thanks to Friday Night Lights’ youtube account, we’re able to take a look at the 4A state title game.
It’s still better to have a full game than a highlight tape to scout, but there are times—as happened here—where there are extenuating circumstances that limit a player’s productivity. Dowling bracketed Martin all game, and it wasn’t until late in the second half that West would try to duplicate the one successful target they had in the second quarter by having Martin run deep ins. On top of that, Dowling’s pass rush was too much for West HS; their QB often found himself scrambling away from one or two un/partially-blocked defenders and flipping the ball to a nearby safety valve. Even so, there were impressive parts of Martin’s game worth noting.
[Note: Martin’s typically lined up at the bottom of the screen. The easiest way to spot him, though, is to find the guy in the knee-high white socks.]
[Hit THE JUMP for Martin’s scouting report]
Michigan reeled in one of their top remaining targets when four-star Iowa City (IA) West WR Oliver Martin announced his commitment on 247Sports, going public with a decision he'd already made.
Iowa City (Iowa) West Top247 receiver Oliver Martin was soaking wet.
Martin’s little sister Ruby, a world-class swimmer was in the pool getting her workout in as family surrounded the four-star recruit as he made the decision to play for the Maize and Blue.
Martin choose the Wolverines over Michigan State and Notre Dame, among many others.
The Spartans were, in fact, Martin's first major offer, getting in on him before he blew up at The Opening finals. Martin appeared destined to go to Michigan once they offered and began serious pursuit, then looked headed to South Bend when it appeared Nico Collins would take the last WR spot. Michigan rekindled interest as Collins looked more likely to stay in the South. At one point recently, 247's Steve Lorenz reported the coaching staffs at Michigan, MSU, and ND all believed they would land Martin. In-state Iowa was hanging around. Ohio State briefly emerged as a threat after Tyjon Lindsay's decommitment but Martin never made his planned official visit there.
After visits from Jim Harbaugh, the guy who once hit Jim Harbaugh with a mail truck, and Pep Hamilton, as well as a final trip to Ann Arbor, Martin decided to join the 2017 class. He's the 27th commit in the class and the fourth at receiver, joining Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Brad Hawkins. With the way his recruitment is trending, Michigan may very well add Collins to that number, too. They haven't had a better group of receivers in one class in recent memory.
4*, #30 WR,
4*, #35 WR,
|4*, 80, #60 WR||
4*, 97, #7 WR,
4*, #28 WR,
Martin was a relative unknown on the recruiting trail until a breakout performance at The Opening last summer, which took him from a three-star to a nationally ranked prospect in most places. Scout and Rivals settled on ranking him ~200th overall and there's an outlier on each side. ESPN has him as a four-star but well outside their top 300 (the last WR to make the cut is 41st in the position rankings), while 247 shot him into the top 100 after The Opening and moved him up again after the Army Bowl.
Martin is listed at 6'1" (or 6'0.5" in 247's case) and 185-192 pounds on all four sites. While he's generally regarded as a slot, he could play inside or outside in college.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, impact on the class, and more.]