fair point that
Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole.
|Paramus, NJ – 6'6", 320|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#33 OT, #11 NJ
|ESPN||4*, #142 overall
#11 OT, #4 NJ
|24/7||4*, NR overall
#23 OT, #10 NJ
|Other Suitors||UF, FSU, Miami, MSU, BC|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Has outstanding "what you talkin' about Willis" face. Paramus Catholic (Peppers)|
Bushell-Beatty is always going to be The Other Paladin, what with being the high school teammate of one Jabrill Peppers. It's not out of the question that a couple of teams recruiting him did so with an eye on Woodson 2.0. But Bushell-Beatty is a quality prospect in his own right, a four star on two sites and the top tackle who isn't one on Rivals. And he did have offers from two of Florida's big three.
That's because he's an enormous gentleman. Most evaluations start with that fact. Clint Brewster:
First off, Bushell-Beatty has outstanding size at about 6-foot-7 and 310-pounds. He has long arms and doesn’t carry a whole lot of extra weight on his frame. Bushell-Beatty has good flexibility and can bend for a 6-foot-7 player.
Scout's Brian Dohn:
Bushell-Beatty is big and long, and just getting around him is a challenge for some defenders. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder does a good job blocking down the line of scrimmage and also spinning the defender to open holes in the running game, but he is most impressive in pass protection. …
His arm length made it even more difficult to try and get around him, and once he was able to engage the defender, he didn't get allow him to get loose again.
Elsewhere, his coach calls him plain "humongous," an Under Armor game evaluation praises his "outstanding size with a good frame," and Brewster pops up again to say he's an "NFL sized offensive tackle with great range and physicality in the run game." This is his main appeal: if it works out you've got a guy the NFL will be lusting after.
His assets other than size are a little fuzzy. Some guys praise his pass protection; some say he needs to work on it. He does seem to be quite good at plowing furrows into the ground in the run game:
Had a physical punch in the running game and is able to get his long arms on defenders and lock into them. … Bushell-Beatty’s strength is the running game, where he can use his size to overpower people but he has the foundation to develop into a better pass-protector.
Tim Sullivan took in a Paramus game in person:
He can move exceptionally well, and has the agility you'd expect out of a play with a much slimmer physique. He runs, does a good job blocking down, and keeps his feet moving in run blocking and against the pass rush.
Bushell-Beatty also has plenty of strength. Though his upper body is disproportionately small compared to the rest of him, he shows off a good punch, and drives well with his lower body to open cavernous holes for his running back.
That offhanded mention of a disproportionately small upper body is a large part of JBB's appeal. Line coaches of all varieties are the Sir Mix A Lot's of the college football world. Their ideal prospect is a weeble, but they'll take humans who have exceptionally low centers of gravity for 6'6" behemoths. JBB is a wide, wide human.
True tackle types look ineffably weird; JBB looks weird. Long arms, an enormous waist, and a bottom-heavy build: like Logan Tuley-Tillman before him, Bushell-Beatty is straight off the NFL tackle assembly line. Er… midway through the NFL tackle assembly line. Actually rather close to the start of it. But they've got the frame together, and it looks great.
Like a number of Michigan's recent tackle recruits, he comes with a series of question marks. His body isn't where you'd want it to be, and while this is often the case for high school OL he's a lot further away than, say, Mason Cole. This was true as late as the UA game:
Bushel-Beatty carries a little too much weight and could benefit by getting in better shape, as his foot-quickness started to lag in the passing game as the game went on.
Tim Sullivan noted something similar:
Physically, he possesses the size and attributes (arm length, athleticism in his feet) to develop into a bigtime college player down the road, but he also showed up as an unfinished product. He needs to work on re-shaping his body to trim fat and add muscle. That will help him in a variety of ways: he will be more flexible, more able to capitalize on his quickness, and much better in pass-blocking.
And his coach says he's got to drop around 20 pounds:
Sam Webb: What is the ideal playing weight?
Chris Partridge: “Those college coaches know a lot more than I do, but I would guess that he should be around 305 – between 300 and 310. He is probably heavy right now. He is around 325 and I think he has to cut down a little bit, but those guys will handle it. They’ll get him ready. That’s their livelihood.”
Given recent precedent that should only take a year with Wellman. Getting to the right weight is only part of the process though; once your there they continue adding strength and subtracting body fat until you're out the door.
Bushell-Beatty is also raw. He's only played football for four years, with his first two spent on JV, so you get a lot of items about consistency and pad level:
Bushell-Beatty can improve by being more consistently aggressive on every play. He can benefit by having better posture and a flat back in his stance. He can also improve by keeping a lower pad level, particularly against many of the shorter defenders he will face.
When Bushell-Beatty gets it right he tends to hilariously bury players as you see in the video above; off the highlight film he's much more variable. Think of him as Willie Henry, high school OL. I mean:
While run blocking, Bushell-Beatty has a tendency to stand up right and that will cost him in a big way in college. He needs to have better knee bend, and not reach for the defender, which compromises his balance and ability to finish off blocks.
Strength is also something that needs to develop, and that will make him more explosive and punishing as a run blocker.
That evaluation finishes with a statement that he's going to need a number of years before he approaches a finished product.
The good news is that JBB is coming along as quickly as you'd hope a relative newbie would. When Sam Webb caught up with his coach midseason, Bushell-Beatty was on the verge of being held out because of injury but still performing above his coaches' expectations:
" We elected to let him go and he is playing awesome ball. I can’t wait until he gets healthy over this bye week to see him play. We counted two games ago that he had 12 pancake blocks. That’s insane!”
It can't be stressed enough how much improvement Bushell-Beatty made in the last year, and if he continues to make those strides he will play a big role at Michigan. Bushell-Beatty is a work in progress, and his length, his work ethic and his size make him an intriguing prospect.
His coach at the UA game thought he picked things up quickly but also threw in a bit of a worrying not related to what's currently his other major drawback:
“I can tell where he’s gotten better from yesterday to today,” Hegamin said. “So what that does say, at least is he learns quicker, he learns very fast.” …
“Honestly its just effort,” Hegamin said. “I just want to see him constantly be better at how he goes about his business on a daily basis.”
That "at least" in there gives you an indication of his preparation level relative to the other guys at the game.
At Michigan he's slated to be a tackle. Michigan needs him there what with his predecessors also in the boom-or-bust mold and his frame is one of his major assets. He gets considerably less attractive as a prospect if he's not using those long arms to fend guys off on the edge.
With Cole immediately sliding into a backup left tackle spot, it looks like JBB will live and die with his ability to play right tackle. (As always, we're ignoring the Shane-is-a-lefty thing for simplicity.) Fortunately for him it seems like he's got the skills for that spot. His UA coach:
“Definitely, in my opinion, he’s a right tackle,” Hegamin said. “He’s got that big, thick right tackle build, I wouldn’t even be surprised to see him at guard some because he’s a pretty big, stout guy.”
Another UA evaluator noted that while he played left tackle in that week of practice, long term he seems like a better fit on the right. In general that means he's more of a road grader than a nimble pass protector. FWIW.
The last word from Sullivan:
In the end, Bushell-Beatty was about what we expected: a very high-ceiling player who has his work cut out for him to reach that potential.
Put him in a meat locker for three years and see what you've got.
Why Logan Tuley-Tillman? Not ideal to grab a guy who hasn't seen the field, I know, but Tuley-Tillman was another bottom-heavy monster tackle with technique and weight issues who a lot of folks rated highly because his upside is top-notch. Other folks looked at how far away from his upside he was and gave him the three-star-meh ranking.
Tuley-Tillman had a much more dramatic weight swing that saw him adding weight upon arrival whereas Bushell-Beatty is going to have to cut some; either way both guys are high-quality clay to mold. And they've got hyphenated names. Is that like comparing Nik Stauskas to a white guy?
Guru Reliability: High. Everyone's basically saying the same things, uber-scouted high school, all star appearance. The spread in the rankings is an eye of the beholder thing for a guy who is very much a boom-or-bust guy.
Variance: High. Two plus years away from any reasonable chance of seeing the field.
Ceiling: High. NFL first round pick upside.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Add another lottery ticket to the tackle spots. JBB is a good bet for Michigan's situation, as he should not have to play until he is an upperclassman and if he does not make it they're likely to have someone else who does.
Projection: Obvious redshirt.
After, he's likely to have a long wait. Michigan has Magnuson, Braden, Tuley-Tillman, and Fox for two years after his redshirt, plus Cole. Whoever breaks through at tackle this year should keep JBB in the on-deck circle for another two years.
His first real shot should be as a redshirt junior, when one or two tackle slots are likely to open up when Mags and Braden graduate. No one can tell you if he's going to be the obvious choice or obviously not yet. Ask again later.
Available from jonvalk, with or without redemption.
Diaries: That and the Tour de France in three parts. Mich1993 did a table of comparison of 4*+ upperclassmen at various positions. In 2013 there were nine; this year projects to 14 and 2015 projects to 30 as the Hokesters grow.
THE GREATEST NOTHING GAME EVER
South Bend Wolverine asked the assembled masses to pick a non-rivalry, non-major game from Michigan's past that you just remembered very fondly. Weirdly he then says the Air Force game—you weren't terrified of losing to Air Force after getting wrung out by Alabama? Other folk picked moderately big games, like the 1999 Citrus Bowl. And State games. C'mon, this isn't nam. Here's rules:
Disqualified: lots of MSU and Notre Dame games. Penn State games when PSU was ranked in the top 10 at some point. Bowl games Citrus or higher. Last-second wins (AC's catch vs. Indiana, etc.) Things remembered for personal reasons.
My favorites were all games when things went totally better than expected. Like the first Nebraska Big Ten game, when Martin forced a pitch and at the end we were chanting "Beat Ohio!" Another guy mentioned 1999 Purdue, to which: YES THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
Tiller had been tearing up the league with the spread-n-Brees (47 pts vs UCF, 28 in a win over ND, 58 vs CMU, 31 vs NWern), and with all due respect to the legion of defensive backs from that team who are friends of this site, our secondary was a weak point. But not that day. That day Carr came out in a 3-3-5 and Todd and Whitley and Patmon and Tommy and B-Will decided to punish every receiver who dared come near them. The guy who remembered it being a nice day is wrong; it was rainy.
If we're extending to other sports, the Molly McGannon game. Whoever's idea it was to raise funds to name the student section the Molly McGannon Memorial Student Section, get on that already.
BRIAN GETS WINDY
Time to bust out the On the Road.gif
How's that for a geographic headline? Double-entendre baby. I should get paid for this. Like Brian got paid for taking his powerpoint presentation to a meeting of the grand association of Chicagoan alumni of Michigan. They also had Chris Balas; tell me you wouldn't pay to see Brian and Balas together, fielding questions about unspeakable things known only to the Fort.
Tentatively scheduled Monday the 18th in New York and Tuesday the 19th in Philadelphia, and currently talking to Cleveland. We plan on having a Marlin event at MGoPatio again this year, and something like that again at Notre Dame with Jared and the Sports Power Weekends trip, and Chicago again for Northwestern.
Pelini, not our Bo. Apparently he lost a recruit to Ole Miss the way people always lose croots to Ole Miss, and he decided to say/not-say. Then he blamed the parents. Don't you just love Pelini? I mean, he's kinda right: big-time recruits might be content with a scholarship and the benefits of playing in 100k stadiums, etc., but their parents who sank tens of thousands of dollars into training these athletes don't get diddly, and yet have a very large influence. Whatever happened with Cam Newton, nobody's disputing at least that his dad called asking for a ridiculous sum, correct?
Blame: the system, of course, but honestly if the players could get paid upfront, the bag men would still drop bags with the parents. As a solution, I'd just legalize that too: boosters can give money to whomever they please, so long as they report it, and maybe a portion goes to fund an NCAA branch that can police this stuff.
MICHIGAN SOUTH UPDATE
At 2:09 of this video Chad Henne throws a pass to Denard Robinson. Also in favor of your interests, they do a flash of Bortles and then a long segment on clearly-the-starter Henne, where Chad mentions they're using a lot more audibles (complexity favors the elders).
MICHIGAN OF THE ________
This design could be copied for any politically boundaried entity, really.
Your Moment of Zen
They weigh 12 oz. and they'll be in Ann Arbor on Monday.
Pelini forever. The day that Bo Pelini ceases being a Big Ten coach is going to be a sad one.
He screams like a lunatic, he makes jokes about his cat, he wears… that… and looks like he believes the camera is taking a piece of his soul with it. Joke's on you, camera! Ain't got no soul, he thinks. Oh and his offense is kind of a looney tunes spread triple option thing that is both modern and very Nebraska. I only wish he was still in our football conference.
Always the best thing out of media days. Mike Spath's anonymous chatter articles are quality as always and the defense one is free. An opponent on the tao of Countess:
"I thought Blake Countess was tough to play against. He's not real physical but he's one of those guys that knows what he does well and what he doesn't. And he sort of lulled us to sleep. We kept thinking that we could go at him and I think that's what he wanted because he stepped in front of two balls, picked one, and we didn't throw at him very much after that."
Countess had INTs against Minnesota, Iowa, and OSU last year, FWIW. The offense is paywalled, but I have to quote this bit:
"They were one of those teams that were tough to prepare for and not tough at the same time because they did so many different things. We had a lot of guys watching a lot more film the week before because they could run 75 different plays in the same game, but I think what stood out was that they didn't have an identity and they never had go-to plays so if you just played sound, technique-strong football, you were OK."
And that had a lot to do with Michigan's ups and downs. OSU did not play anything approximating sound football in their secondary last year and Michigan ate them up; Iowa is nothing but sound cover two and Michigan could do nothing.
The overall theme of that latter one is that opposing teams have a hell of a lot of respect for Devin Gardner since he did not die last year.
You could knock me down with a feather right now. Shock and alarm at unexpected news:
"Going in (to camp, there will be competition between Devin Gardner and Shane Morris)," Hoke said during his appearance on "Numbers Never Lie." "We've got great competition. (But) if we opened the season today, Devin would start for the Wolverines."
I will personally fight anyone* who sends me an email about whether Morris should start.
*[Offer not valid unless you are Ellen Degeneres.]
Ready to go. Ondre Pipkins is cleared and even more importantly, is apparently fit.
"He's done a nice job, he's made a lot of progress and he's passed the conditioning test and all those things," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said this week. "We'll probably be smart with him as we move forward, you know, especially on two-a-days.
"We'll (watch his) reps and those things. But he's cleared and ready to go."
Figuratively and literally massive for the defense. Article notes that Willie Henry is slated to compete with Pipkins at nose, but I'm hoping they figure out that they can start both those guys. We'll see.
'96 Colorado. I missed this game; remember sitting in a car listening to the end of it just terrified about the Hail Mary.
Well, no. No we do not. Hoke on the opener:
Brady Hoke says he gets some grief from alumni about having App State on the schedule. No one wants to see those highlights, he says
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) July 31, 2014
He didn't do it.
LEMON UPDATE. Aw man I am going to have to find like a video crew and a roaring fireplace.
Junior linebacker Joe Bolden was named the 2014 Meyer Morton Award winner. The Morton Award is given to the player who "shows the greatest development and most promise as a result of the annual spring practice."
Jarrod Wilson and Chris Wormley also pulled in awards.
The plan. After experimenting with Graham Glasgow at tackle it seems like Michigan is going to leave him at center:
When fall camp opens Sunday, though, Hoke says Glasgow -- who is suspended for the season-opener against Appalachian State due to an offseason drunken driving arrest -- will begin where he ended last year. At center, and likely with the first team.
"I would say he could (be with the starters at center) early in camp but then you’ve got to develop others," Hoke said this week at Big Ten media days in Chicago. "This is why, when you make decisions that don’t help the team, you find out how you hurt the team.”
If Glasgow does move that says more about Ben Braden than anyone else. That is an outcome I don't want to see, as that would be a major strike against a player who was hyped up as a physical marvel by many people a year ago.
It also sounds like the current plan is to leave Cole at left tackle for this year to provide a backup there. Tuley-Tillman and Fox are both likely to need another year before putting them on the field would be anything other than a major problem.
The rehab. Ondre Pipkins is cleared to practice at the start of fall camp
It could be worse, everyone! Man, Illinois fans are grasping at straws:
Tim Beckman came into this morning's press conference after a long bowl game-less winter and a 4-8 season record with only one conference win. But something was noticeably different about his speech this time. He finally seemed comfortable and confident at the podium.
… he hardly pauses or stumbles for the right words. His "uhs" and "ums" are fewer and farther between than in the past. He came off as a true leader and respectable speaker.
Well, I know that our coach starts every sentence with "well" and is not exactly Steve Spurrier. But there's going to be a post this year on an Illinois blog that says "we may have lost by sixty points but it seems like Tim Beckmann's dressing himself these days, so things are really coming along for us."
Unfortunate for Northwestern. Projected starting corner Daniel Jones is forced to retire thanks to injuries. Corner being the Wildcats' achilles heel since it ceased being "the whole team," that bodes unwell for the Wildcats and better for Michigan. Jones was lost for the year in the opener, so this is more Northwestern not getting that guy back than anything else.
The Daily makes the Daily show. You gotta put it in your click hole, nerds.
The most correct thing. This isn't relevant to anything but it is the most correct thing that's ever been said:
I spent five days in Las Vegas by myself earlier this month. If that sounds like your idea of paradise, let me stop you right there, because you’re wrong. Even though I know nothing about you, I’m fairly certain that five days alone in Vegas is enough to make anybody rethink their life. Five days in Vegas with friends or family is still probably four days too many, but being alone in Vegas is like finding out halfway through a party that you were invited by mistake. Everyone is having the time of their lives around you, and even though you were excited when you arrived, you’re just off to the side wondering what you’re doing there.
As someone who spent a week in Vegas by myself*, this is so accurate. I eventually just spent the money for wifi (this was back when wifi still cost money at hotels) and sat in my hotel room because being alone by yourself is so much more tolerable than being alone around everyone. Vegas by yourself: horrible.
The rest of this article is an entertaining Mark Titus piece on attending an NBA scout "school" and finding out just how horrible that job is. So it's sports! On topic! (Not on topic.)
*[Qualified for the WSOP during the heyday of online poker and couldn't hector any of my friends into railbirding me. WSOP was very large that year so there were four separate Day 1s for a quarter of the field and two Day 2s.]
Etc.: Arian Foster gives classic 'Sheed interview. 1985 Big Ten commercial might as well be from 1685. BHGP sent a horse to Big Ten Media Days. This is legit you guys. Hooray Michelle Beadle. Michigan unranked in opening coaches' poll.
Big Ten coaches really like the word "think." Derrick Walton transitioning away from being just a shooter. I found the only Penn State fan that doesn't loathe us with the fury of a thousand suns.
Fasten Your Seatbelts?
Four-star 2016 PA WR Cameron Chambers will announce his college choice tomorrow, and while he released a top five on Monday the overwhelming consensus is he'll pick between Michigan and Michigan State, the two schools he visited most recently. No one seems to have a good read on which of the two he'll pick, however, including his high school coach, per Scout's Brian Dohn ($):
"I really don't know what he wants to do," Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson. "I think he had a good time at Michigan, and had a great time at Michigan State. He was at Michigan for two days, and he said Michigan State was awesome, and he said the same thing about Michigan.
I haven't been able to find a specific time for the announcement tomorrow—I don't think Chambers has determined one—but I'll update if/when one comes out.
KLS Top Five: Michigan In, USC and ND Out
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South trimmed his list to five schools this week. Michigan made it, which won't shock anyone, but a pair of omissions might, per Scout's Greg Biggins ($):
On the recruiting front, Lucier-South cut his list down to a final five that consisted of Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan and UCLA.
"Those are the five schools that I felt most comfortable with and the ones that I felt matched my style the best," Lucier-South said. "It was really hard to cut Notre Dame and USC. Those two schools have been on me hard for a long time but I just felt like the five I choose were the best fits for me."
KLS had mentioned Notre Dame as a school he planned to see on an official visit, while USC is one of just two schools—along with UCLA—that he's visited unofficially. Now he's planning to take trips to each of his top five schools before a Signing Day decision.
Oregon and Oklahoma are relative newcomers to the party, though they could both very well be a major factor in Lucier-South's recruitment going forward. For now, UCLA and Michigan are generally regarded as the schools out in front.
More BBQ Reactions: Jalen Bates
Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article* is a great wrapup of last Sunday's BBQ at the Big House, and it includes some very glowing quotes from three-star LA DE Jalen Bates, who moved Michigan into his top five after his visit:
“(Michigan is in) the top five right now for sure,“ said Bates. “(The barbecue) was fun. It was one of the (most fun) times I’ve had. They treated me like family. All the coaches, they all treated me like they have been recruiting all their life. They all kind of flocked to me and they treated me like I was a celebrity. I liked the way they treated my family — all the coaches’ wives and their kids.”
“(Michigan assistant Fred Jackson) was like one of my uncles. It was like he missed me. We hung out almost the whole time. It was like I was out here visiting family, and I haven’t even met some of these people. It was cool.”
Bates had a September 19th decision date set before the visit, and he plans to stick to that timeline. A Scout article published yesterday appeared to indicate that Michigan was suddenly out of the mix, as it quoted Bates saying he'd choose between Mississippi State, Texas Tech, and Louisiana-Lafayette. While that is apparently Bates' top three, he insisted on Twitter that isn't a concrete top group, and Michigan is still very much under consideration:
Why would I kick UM out . Grew up watching UM. They just have a few negs & pos. That I have to weigh out
— Jalen Bates (@KINNG_MEE) July 31, 2014
One of those negatives is almost certainly distance from home, and getting Bates back on campus before his decision could go a long way towards convincing him that shouldn't be a huge factor. Luckily, Bates told 247's Steve Lorenz that a return trip to Ann Arbor is likely to happen ($):
"I am gonna try to get to a game before I decide," he said. "Michigan is probably going to get an official. They were already in my top five going into this visit and they really, really helped themselves on this visit. It was a real surprise how much I liked it there and how much fun I had. I know Michigan is great academically; top 10 in the country and top 20 in the world. They definitely stand out that way. I'm looking for a school and coaching staff that can develop me. That's the biggest thing for me. Wherever I go, I am ready to work as hard as I can; I want to play for coaches that can take that hard work and help turn me into a great player."
I like Michigan's chances if Bates follows through on that official; if he doesn't, I'd be surprised if he ends up straying too far from home.
*Strongly suggest you click through and read that whole thing, as there's a lot of good stuff in there I'm not bothering to reprint here since it's free and all.
Even More BBQ Reactions: Bredeson, Holyfield
Michigan got a nice leg up in the recruitment of top-50 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson when his older brother, Jack, committed to the baseball team while the family was in town for the BBQ. Per Lorenz, Bredeson is already planning a game visit, and he'll likely see the Wolverines a couple times on the road, as well ($):
Going forward, Bredeson does not look to make a commitment until sometime next spring or summer. A group of schools has separated themselves at this point with Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Ohio State being among those considered most at this point.
"It's a really good feeling to have such great programs wanting you to play for them," he said. "Right now, I'm looking at returning to Michigan for a visit when they play Penn State. I also might end up seeing them play at Notre Dame and at Ohio State this season as well. It will depend on how I am able to work my schedule because I have practice on Saturday mornings after my games on Friday. I'm hoping to make it work though."
The Penn State game, as expected, is shaping up to be Michigan's biggest in-season recruiting event.
2016 four-star RB Elijah Holyfield camped at Michigan this summer; he told Tim Sullivan that coming back for the BBQ—and bringing his mother and step-father—was actually his idea, which sounds pretty encouraging from Michigan's perspective ($):
"A couple recruits had told me about it, and I called Coach Hecklinski and he thought it'd be a good idea to get my parents up there, and I wanted my parents to see it also," Holyfield explained. "I really like Michigan a lot, so I wanted them to see it and see how they like it also. I thought it'd be a good time to come back up.
"Me and my parents got there the day before, so I got the chance to sit down with all the coaches one-on-one and talk to them. That really helped a lot. Any questions that my parents had, they were able to answer. It was really nice, I really enjoyed myself on the whole visit."
Holyfield said the trip "definitely helped Michigan" in his recruitment, and he indicated that his parents were also quite impressed. He might come back again for a game this fall.
Steve Lorenz reported that the top-ranked running back in the 2016 class, five-star New Jersey product Kareem Walker, will visit Michigan next week ($). While there will be tons of competition for Walker's signature, Michigan has a couple things going for them: they were one of the first programs to offer Walker a scholarship, and Walker's connected with fellow Jersey native Jabrill Peppers.
Congratulations to 2015 commit Darrin Kirkland, who accepted an invite to the Army All-American Game yesterday.
Happy trails to former commit George Campbell, who released a top ten that didn't include Michigan ($). The only two non-ACC/SEC schools to make the list are UCLA and... Maryland. Okay, then.
An off-the-radar name to remember: Darrin Paulo, a three-star 2015 OL from Sacramento, told Scout's Brandon Huffman that Michigan is under consideration for his final official visit spot ($):
“I know where I’m going to visit, but I don't have dates,” said Paulo. “Washington State, UCLA, USC and Oregon are the main four I know I want to visit. I think I will take all five though and I’m debating the last one in my mind. I’m still considering Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona State for the last one.”
Scout and Rivals both list Paulo as holding a Michigan offer. It seems unlikely anything will come from this, but it's at least worth noting.
One of the main themes coming out of Big Ten media days is that Michigan's locker room was massively divided last year and that this was a major reason for the fractured splat mess that Michigan's season ended in. (And pretty much started in.) Frank Clark:
"There's no point in yelling at someone. Yelling to another grown man isn't going to get you very far. You've got to have a certain level of respect for that individual. And if he respects you, then there's not going to be that type of level of disagreement."
The implication is that this is a change from 2013.
This is both unusual and not. You often hear about chemistry problems in the aftermath of an unpleasant season; lord knows that I have heard it and fervently believed it about Michigan hockey the last couple years. It is a standard trope whenever sports people have to talk to media before a season, up there with Leave Touted Freshman Alone and We Are Only Motivated By Our Haters. That it's emerged after Michigan's 2013 is no surprise.
The unusual part is the not-quite-on-the-record vehemence being directed at one particular player. That would be Taylor Lewan. No one wants to come out and say it directly, but read between any two particular lines about locker room divisions and they land squarely on him. The result: regular threads on message boards about what a bad captain he was and how unity will unify us all now that he's gone.
I am not buying this.
I don't come to praise Caesar here. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence that Lewan was a dick, from his role in the Gibbons mess to the still-pending assault charges to his increasingly unhinged behavior in last year's Michigan State game. When Mike Spath did his annual piece from Big Ten Media Day in which he gives players anonymity in exchange for real talk, a couple of them called Lewan out for being over the line:
"I don't know how that plays at Michigan, but if my teammates were doing that, it'd be like dead silence in the room, and everyone would know what he's really about.
"That's not the guy I want leading my team."
So yeah he's not exactly Denard. No one is disputing that.
That said, the NFL grabbed him in the first half of the first round. And his performance matched that during the year. He took piles of criticism because Michigan couldn't move the ball, all of it ridiculous since the guy next to him—sometimes both guys flanking him—were blowing the play as he executed his assignment.
You know what doesn't get talked about when you're winning football games? How much of a dick player X is. "Chemistry" is often an effect of other stuff, not a cause. Before the departures of CJ Lee and David Merritt tanked a Beilein team I would have gone with "always" in the previous sentence; nowadays you have to acknowledge that sometimes it is a real thing.
It's not likely to be a big factor in last year's collapse—insofar as a pile of rubble can collapse. Fracturing was always going to happen once that offense was so so bad and the defense got sick of running on the field after a three and out six times in a row. There was always going to be a falling out with the coaches after their ham-handed attempts to fix things made them worse. If Michigan's players weren't questioning what the hell they were doing on offense, there's about to be some bad news about their ability to pass classes at Michigan.
When [Hoke] arrived at Michigan in 2011, he routinely discussed that the group's seniors would carry the club. They'd be the backbone, and the team would be playing for them.
In 2011, it worked. Hoke's senior group was close and welcomed everyone in -- and the team won 11 games. In 2012, it seemed to work again. Even during the moments when the team struggled, it never seemed to unravel.
But with a mostly younger group in 2013, it never clicked. The team stopped fighting for one another, and became disconnected.
When did the team "stop fighting for one another"? During the Akron game like two games into the season? Or on the two point conversion that might have beat Ohio State at the end? It "worked" in 2011 because Michigan got lucky repeatedly; it did not in 2013 because they did not. The offensive line was a shambles against Notre Dame, but Gardner played out of his mind.
There is no narrative in which the fight goes out of Michigan. The pattern here is not one of increasing incompetence, but game-to-game variability: beat Minnesota with a good ground game, get that tackle over set annihilated by Penn State. Run the ball against Northwestern, get 150 yards of offense against Iowa, put up 41 on Ohio State in consecutive weeks.
They were up and they were down and that was mostly because they weren't any good and the offense was mismanaged. Taylor Lewan's affability was at worst 1% of a problem that started with Rich Rodriguez's offensive line recruiting. Losing him isn't going to solve a problem. Winning will.
You certainly know the man on the left, but do you know who's making the play on the right?
A couple weeks ago, I took a look at the most dangerous position groups Michigan will face on the 2014 schedule. Today, it's time to take a look at the best players, and this time around I took a team-by-team approach. In order of their appearance on the schedule, here are the dangermen who will be the focus of Michigan's game-planning in each of their regular-season contests.
Appalachian State: QB Armanti Edwards.
He graduated four years ago, you say? On an NFL roster, even? Well... I don't care. It's still Armanti Edwards.
Notre Dame: OLB Jaylon Smith
Smith is one of those five-star recruits who immediately live up to the billing. He started all 13 games as a true freshman last season, finishing third on the team in tackles (67) and second in TFLs (6.5) while generally looking like the Irish's best linebacker despite being surrounded by players with a lot of experience. He'll have to be the linchpin of Notre Dame's defense this year as the team tries to replace starting inside linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calebrese, who weren't all that impressive to begin with, as well as defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. With a standard sophomore leap, Smith could be good enough that his development alone overcomes the considerable losses in Notre Dame's linebacker corps.
Miami (NTM): WR/RB Dawan Scott
There's admittedly a dearth of choices from a team that went 0-12 in 2013, but Scott was a bright spot on an otherwise dismal Miami offense. His 15 yard average on 28 receptions led the team by over three yards. Until this season, he was actually listed at running back, and his 231 yards on 37 carries last season was good for second on the team. He's also a dangerous return man when given the opportunity, though the RedHawks reduced his special teams contributions last year as his role in the offense expanded. Miami does everything they can to get the ball in his hands, and given what's around him, that's as good a plan as any.
"It's Dres Day!" (!!!)
Utah: WR Dres Anderson
Utah's quarterbacks struggled last year, but that didn't matter much when they threw it to Dres Anderson, who led all Pac-12 receivers with an astonishing 18.9 yards per catch in 2013. It certainly helps that he can take a zero-yard pass and turn it into a 54-yard touchdown. The California native brings some explosive West Coast shit, and woe be upon the opponent that forgets about him.
Minnesota: CB Eric Murray
I guess I must acknowledge that Seth made one of the better picks of Draftageddon when he grabbed Eric Murray in the 18th round. While stats for defensive backs are often misleading, this chart speaks volumes about Murray's ability to play on an island with the best of them:
Minnesota runs a ton of man coverage, and they can largely get away with it because Murray makes life far easier on the rest of the secondary. At 6'2", 200 pounds, he's got the size to match up with just about any receiver and hold up well against the run, too.
Rutgers: DT Darius Hamilton
Hamilton is the type of five-star who needed a little time to marinate before starting to reach his prodigious potential; after a very quiet freshman year in 2012, he broke through as a sophomore, leading the Scarlet Knights with 11.5 TFLs and chipping in 4.5 sacks from the interior. He's got an NFL future, and he pairs with sophomore linebacker Steve Longa to give Rutgers at least a little star power on their defense. There may be a lack of high quality players on the roster, but Hamilton would be a big-time contributor on any of the teams on this list.
Penn State: QB Christian Hackenberg
While there may be more proven, experienced stars on the Nittany Lions—OT Donovan Smith and LB Mike Hull come to mind—there's little question the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has the most talent of anybody on the Penn State roster. Hackenberg has all the tools to be a first-round NFL quarterback: size, arm strength, accuracy, and pocket presence that belies his youth. The big question for this fall is how he'll deal with the loss of the outstanding Allen Robinson, who accounted for a massive 1432 of Hackenberg's 2955 passing yards last year. There may be a Henne-like step back for the sophomore signal-caller, at least numbers-wise, but with a great group of tight ends and that level of talent, he should be plenty impressive again this year.
Michigan State: S Kurtis Drummond
I'll let BiSB handle this one, since he would've inevitably chimed in anyway in the comments:
Along with Kurtis Drummond's 4 picks and 6 PBUs, he made 91 tackles from the free safety spot. That typically signals DOOM for a defense, so to put up those kinds of numbers in such a dominant defense is really impressive.
He doesn't just get to play center field, either; MSU's Cover 4 requires him to defend receivers in essentially single coverage all over the field, and he looks like a corner when he does so. He has great ball skills and can flip his hips and run with anyone in the league. That's him running stride-for-stride with Devin Smith.
Drummond is generally regarded as the top free safety prospect for the 2015 draft, which almost certainly will get him into the first round, perhaps even the top half. His play merits the hype.
Indiana: RB Tevin Coleman
I'm clearly getting lazy, because for the second time in a row, I'll let a big ol' blockquote do the explaining, this one from SBNation's Bill Connelly:
But the primary reason I can't worry too much about Indiana's offense is Tevin Coleman. Highlight Yards basically look at a runner's explosiveness once he reaches the second level of a defense. Combining that with Opportunity Rate (the frequency with which you reach said second level), we get a pretty good idea for what kind of back you are. Coleman's 35.9 percent Opportunity Rate was nothing special, but no one in the country was more explosive.
Of the 199 FBS players with at least 100 carries in 2013, only seven averaged 8.0 highlight yards per opportunity or greater. Boston College's Andre Williams and Missouri's Henry Josey averaged 8.0, Maryland's C.J. Brown and Ohio State's Braxton Miller averaged 8.4, West Virginia's Dreamius Smith and UL-Lafayette's Elijah McGuire averaged 8.6 ... and Tevin Coleman averaged 12.0. His average was 40 percent better than the second best. He had 14 carries of at least 20 yards (only 12 players had more), and he had eight of at least 40 (most in the country). He is unlit dynamite every play he's on the field.
Short version: daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Indiana may miss Tre Roberson's running threat as a change-of-pace quarterback, but their running game is still in good shape with Coleman toting the rock.
Northwestern: RB Venric Mark
Yes, we (justifiably) made fun of Seth for making Mark the first running back off the board in Draftageddon, but when healthy he's one of the most versatile and explosive players in the conference. When he played 13 games in 2012, Mark rushed for 1366 yards on 6.0 YPC, chipped in 20 receptions out of the backfield, and took two punt returns to the house. He only managed 31 carries last year before a broken ankle cut his season short; if he's back to full strength, though, he'll be right behind Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah (and right with Coleman) in the conversation about who's the best back in the Big Ten.
Maryland: WR Stefon Diggs
Another star coming off a season-ending injury, Diggs was on the way to putting up some eye-popping numbers in 2013 before a broken leg ended his campaign after seven games. In that span, he caught 34 passes for 587 yards (17.2 YPC) while averaging nearly 6.5 yards on a handful of end-arounds and 23.4 yards on 12 kickoff returns. He's every bit the explosive playmaker he was billed to be as a highly touted recruit, and the solid depth and talent among Maryland's receivers makes it difficult for defenses to focus too much attention on him.
Ohio State: QB Braxton Miller
Well, yeah, it's hard to argue with the two-time reigning Big Ten MVP, even with all the stars along OSU's defensive line. Miller boasted a 24:7 TD-to-INT ratio, improved his completion percentage and passing yardage for the third straight season, and rushed for 1201 yards on 8.0 YPC when sacks are removed—and he even made strides in taking fewer sacks, too. While the loss of Carlos Hyde will hamper the Buckeye running game, they've got several talented replacements at running back, and the constant threat of Miller making something remarkable happen should keep Urban Meyer's offense quite dangerous indeed.