somehow we're only 124th
This Week in the Twitterverse takes a look at the social media happenings of the previous week, or whatever else I feel like talking about. Mostly I make fun of people who are better at things than I am. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited. Consult your doctor if this column lasts more than four hours. If you come across anything you think should be in next week's column, send it to @Bry_Mac.
I should be down as “@Bry_Mac plus 148,000”
Yesterday saw quite the interesting Twitter event. Michigan football's official Twitter account, @umichfootball, went private. Like a bouncer at the club, @umichfootball clicked the velvet rope tight, and they only allowed you in if you were on the uber-exclusive list of 148,600 followers of the account.
Seventeen minutes later, things were going pretty well.
And 13 minutes after that?
C’mon Twitter, you know I don’t speak Spanish
Talk about a failure. Something called #TUMHAYRANGRUPLARISALITAKIBI was trending ahead of #GoBlueVIP (Michigan football's chosen hashtag of the day). I Googled that phrase, and all it returned was, "the fingers you are using to type are too fat. Did you mean to search Special typing wand?" STEP UP YOUR GAME, super special @umichfootball follower people.
Still, for a college team to be trending worldwide on a Tuesday morning is pretty impressive, so you're probably wondering what they did to generate that kind of interest. Fear not, intrepid reader, for I have chosen to break all manner of local ordinance, state and federal law, Twitter mandate, and mattress tag proscription to bring you a minute by minute accounting of this private event. I may have to go Snowden for sharing this information, but that’s how I roll. Among the high points:
10:05 AM: Peewee Pipkins did his Hoke impression.
10:07 AM: Peewee Pipkins ran the stadium stairs for the remainder of the event
10:20 AM: A question-and-non-committal-answer session with Brady Hoke. A short sampling:
Q: What are the strengths of the team you have coming back?
HOKE: Welllllllll, we had several areas in which we executed pretty well, so we need to build on those. Beyond that, it's about performing and playing Michigan football in all phases of the game. Effort. Intensity. Gumption. Verve.
Q: What does the team need to do to improve over last season?
HOKE: Welllllllll, we had some areas in which we didn't execute, so we need to shore those up. Beyond that, it's about performing and playing Michigan football in all phases of the game. Effort. Intensity. Gumption. Verve.
Q: Coach, how's the team's health?
HOKE: We've got some boo-boos, a couple of ouchies, two recurring walk-it-offs, and a particularly nasty rub-some-dirt-on-it. We'll be fine. Next man up. Chick dig scars
Q: Can you give us an idea of how the depth chart will pan out?
HOKE: We've got a few guys, so we'll really know once we get the pads on in August. It's an open competition. The best player will play, regardless of age or experience.
Q: But surely you know a few positions already. Quarterback?
HOKE: Wait until fall. Open competition. Best man.
Q: C'mon, man. Left Tackle?
HOKE: Did I stutter? WAIT UNTIL FALL OPEN COMPETITION BEST MAN.
Q: Any update on Will Hagerup?
/Twitter shuts down
10:45 AM: Roy Manning posted a series of Instagram photos of Brady Hoke pointing at stuff.
11:20 AM: Greg Mattison gave a podcast lecture on the finer points of defending 4-verts out of a 4-3 under set. Don't even pretend you understood what he was saying. The takeaway seemed to be "to defend 4-verts out of a 4-3 under, be Greg Mattison or hire someone who is Greg Mattison."
12:00 PM: One randomly selected person won the chance to hold Brady Hoke's headset cord during an upcoming game (granted, this probably would have been a cooler giveaway under prior regimes)
1:20 PM: We saw a series of Vines of Taylor Lewan battling assorted animals. He took it to the black bear, but the moose fought him to a stalemate. Needless to say the donkey reps were pretty one-sided.
2:30 PM: We heard the debut performance by the OMG Shirtless Michigan Bell Choir. They played Carol of the Bells by Leontovych and Keep Their Heads Ringin' by Dre.
3:15 PM: Coach Hecklinski crank called Mark Dantonio pretending to be an elite recruit interested in committing to Michigan State, but only if Dantonio would sing The Victors while hopping on one foot. Sure it was mean, but Dantonio should have seen through this ruse. After all... elite recruit.
Good times, man. Goooooood times.
Dan Dakich has been known to be a little headstrong on Twitter, and this week was no exception. If you follow Dakich, you probably know that he enjoys a role as something of a media-critic-in-media, which is pretty fertile ground these days (if you don’t believe me, do a news search for ‘Aaron Hernandez and Urban Meyer’ or ‘Aaron Hernandez and Bill Belichick’). However, a recent Indiana University Sports Communication grad named Tony Adragna noticed the somewhat odd dichotomy that Dakich attacked “the Media” while being very much a part of “the Media,” and made a rather innocuous comment to that effect.
Notice the guy didn’t use Dakich’s Twitter handle, so he wasn’t actively trying to engage him in a fight. However, being a noted own-name-searcher, Dakich found the comment and responded on air. Awful Announcing has a nice summary of how things escalated, but the bottom line is that Dakich sorta threatened to blackball this poor kid from IU broadcast media:
And in fact, if you do something stupid enough I know the head of NBC, I know the head of ESPN, I know the head of CBS Sports. You want to get into that, all I gotta do is make one phone call and you're done.
And then, for some unknown reason, Dakich invited Adragna to co-host a radio show with him on his Indianapolis-based radio show. The kid accepted the offer and co-hosted yesterday, and Dakich gave him high marks:
I’ll let everyone draw his or her own conclusion about who acted well and who acted dickishly in this whole ordeal, but I think we can agree that if Dakich’s intention was really to discourage Twitter sniping of his character, holly hell did he do a terrible job of it. In fact, if you’re an IU grad looking to get into broadcasting, the best advice I can give you right now is to try to tweak Dakich. It seems to have given one kid’s career a nice little bump.
Honor among thieves
Not much is sacred in the rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State. The schools don't even refer to each other by their actual names. But some things have always been over the line, such as this guy, who has been retweeting stuff from Steve Lorenz that Steve obviously never said. Like this:
"@TremendousUM: Hearing Artavis Scott was arrested for dealing drugs yesterday, which is the reason Michigan pulled his offer"
— AthletesInSpace (@AthletesInSpace) July 3, 2013
"@TremendousUM: Hearing Hoke cooled and actually pulled Jones' scholarship offer due to off the field/academic concerns"
— AthletesInSpace (@AthletesInSpace) June 27, 2013
There's trolling, then there's libel. This, folks, is the latter. I encourage thee to report this gentleman for spam. I also congratulate him, @AthletesInSpace, on being named the TWITTER CREEPER OF THE YEAR OF THE WEEK. May your account be suspended, may your dog poop in your shoes, and may you mistake the salt for the sugar the next time you bake a pie.
Nothing to see here folks. Also, don’t look over there.
For those who aren’t regular readers of this column, (a) WHY, and (b) you might not be familiar with the saga of Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze. Long story short, back in February he challenged people accusing his program of impropriety to provide evidence or shut their yaps. Predictably, people emailed alleged proof, and a reporter FOIAed those emails. Yesterday Ole Miss told the Clarion-Ledger (a Mississippi paper) that they had concluded their review of those emails, and had concluded that none of them pointed to any NCAA violations.
The only problem with this self-congratulatory declaration of victory: Ole Miss only disclosed about two thirds of the emails they received. One of the reasons they gave was that “the NCAA requires institutions to keep information confidential while the matters are being examined.” In other words, they found no NCAA violations in these things, but they are still being examined by the NCAA or the school for potential violations. Ooooookay.
They also refused to disclose the emails because doing so would have a “chilling effect on future sources of information, thus frustrating our compliance and enforcement efforts.” I’m a lawyer with a pretty solid handle on typical FOIA-type laws, and I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a thing. They’re refusing to disclose emails that were sent to you by someone who intended to expose behavior on the grounds that by making that information public they would disincentivize future whistleblowing? Looks like someone needs to retake Gordon Gee’s Claim Everything Is Covered By FERPA 101.
The derp will be televised
Storming the field is a dumbass idea. You WILL be caught, you WILL be arrested, and there’s a non-zero chance that you will get absolutely owned. But with that said, if you’re going to be stupid, at least be creative. For example, the three girls who so annoyingly rushed the field in the 8th inning of a College World Series game at least had the decency to create a (since deleted) Vine of the incident. All that remain in the public record are a couple of stills from their escapade:
Like that machine in Twister, perhaps we need data from INSIDE the field-storm to understand why people do this stupid crap. And only by learning can we hope to prevent. Also, you might get proof that you were tackled by one of the cops from Reno 911.
Decided wardrobe advantage
Charlie Weis sent out this Vine of the Jayhawks’ new uniforms for next season:
But it’s Kansas, so does it really matter? It’s just a question of what these guys are going to look like on Sportscenter trying unsuccessfully to chase down players from other, more talented teams.
Hello gents. I've been out the last few days enjoying the natural beauty of and extreme numbers of mosquitoes on North Manitou Island:
Your move, Ohio
Protips: stay away from the areas of the island in the lee of the wind—surprisingly, the west side—and punch anyone who tells you bug bands work in the face. Then do it again, and ask them if they're wearing their getting-punched-in-the-face bands. They probably are.
Anyway, exodus was half pretty great, half a nine-mile Mosquito Death March and I kind of feel like I need a vacation from the ol' vacation. But here is a computer and here are open tabs so…
Annual bit on camp commits. It's that time in July when an under-the-radar prospect or two has committed after showing up at Michigan's camp and impressing, causing various message board folks to say that was a dumb move when Player X is out there. With the commitments of Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, Player X is Artavis Scott and/or Montae Nicholson, Parrker Westphal, Adoree Jackson, etc.
Leaving aside the fact that people complaining on message boards haven't seen these players do things, I think it's healthy to have a couple of camp commits a year. It shows that the coaching staff doing so is paying attention to that camp, that there's a reason for people to show out, and that the staff can evaluate guys on their own.
Amongst the Michigan fanbase camp commits have gotten a bit of a bad rap because late in the Carr regime they started leaning way too heavily on it and had erratic (at best) results. The camp guys from 2005 to 2008:
Rocko Khoury: Miss.
Mike Cox: Miss, though he did get drafted after transferring to UMass.
David Molk. Major hit.
Steve Watson. Miss.
James Rogers. Miss.
Troy Woolfolk. You could give him an injury INC, I guess. Lean towards miss there.
David Cone. Miss. Coner.
Quintin Patilla. Miss.
Mister Simpson. Miss.
Christ McLaurin. Miss.
Zoltan Mesko. Hit, but, like, a punter.
Mesko was the #1 punter in the country that year and can't be declared a camp find. Also, he's a punter. Leaving aside him, the record of camp commits is one indisputably great player in Molk, one contributor in Woolfolk, seven guys who flamed out—a few of whom had no business in D-I, let alone Michigan—and the special case of James Rogers, who did start on the worst Michigan secondary of all time. He managed to do that and suggest that he was also a miss.
- That's a symptom of imperial decline, but it shouldn't necessarily reflect on the coaching acumen of Hoke and his staff. If it helps, the vast majority of the above guys had zero other decent offers. Most had zero other BCS offers, period. Watson and Canteen both had offers from Tennessee and Rutgers. Little different situation.
Dumars. Dead to me. While I actually like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a selection at #8, the mere fact that Detroit's pick was between 7th and 9th for the fourth straight year is all you need to know about Joe Dumars, post-Rasheed trade. Dumars hasn't been able to put together a team that made the playoffs, but neither has he properly tanked. He signed Ben Gordon to a contract so bad Dumars had to dump a first round pick to get rid of him, he still has No Eyebrows on his bench, he traded Chauncey Billups for the corpse of Allen Iverson while offering Prince and Hamilton extensions, and he is now pursuing Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith in free agency for reasons known only to him, all so the Pistons can end up on the fringe of the lottery or exiting in the first round next year.
So, yeah, I do feel like I can say that passing on Trey Burke is a prime example of why the Pistons suck. This is just offensive:
Dumars said that in discussing the possibility of this decision as the draft progressed, he was reminded of when Indiana Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh drafted Reggie Miller ahead of Indiana University favorite Steve Alford in 1987.
Steve Alford went 15 picks later; Burke was off the board on the very next pick, taken by a team that trade up to get him. If Burke takes off in Utah… argh. Seriously considering attending the Palace for the Pistons-Utah game and rooting my ass off for the Jazz.
Pretty much the GRIII thing. One graph on Glenn Robinson's scoring says it all:
Couple that with his 13% usage and you have a guy who is… okay… bear with me… Brent Petway with a three point stroke. Robinson clearly has buckets more potential, but that is the profile of a garbageman exclusively. That the NBA would take that guy in the middle of the first round, well, see above on Dumars.
I agree with folks who say if Robinson was looking to maximize his stock he should have left this year. There are lots of reasons other than draft position to do things in your life, obviously, but if his numbers stay like that in year two his stock will drop precipitously. If he gets a lot better at creating his own offense, it'll rise—and Michigan will destroy. Yes please, sir:
I feel like people have only seen one side of my game, cant wait to see the shock on peoples faces when the see the real GRIII.
Backup plan. Dave Telep on Derrick Walton's game:
I went back and reread my notes from last summer. Some of the buzzwords included “winner,” “set-up man,” “reads defenses” and “thinks pass first.”
Walton is a point guard’s point guard. He’s a player who has a craving to win and will be an extension of his coach. Next year, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary will need the basketball. Walton, if he’s the player I believe him to be, will not only recognize that, but will allow them to be better scorers for the Wolverines.
Walton assist rate will be a stat to watch early in the season.
Hockey guys incoming. A couple of scouting reports on hockey's upcoming, much-needed infusion of talent and desire. JT Compher sounds like the right prescription, and how:
1. JT Compher – F – US NTDP – Michigan Commit
Compher has one of the highest compete levels I’ve ever seen, and while he’s listed between 5-10 to 6’0, we can all agree that Compher plays far bigger than his size. He slams into the tough areas of the ice with abandon and has an excess of offensive prowess not typically found in a player as willing to get his hands dirty. The Team Illinois product is a potential first rounder.
I'd seen Compher take on Michigan with the NTDP and started muttering on WTKA about how he might have to take on a lot of leadership tasks even in year one, and that's why: he goes and gets it every shift, something Michigan seemed to lack. The emergence of Andrew Copp mitigates that need. Still, there aren't a lot of options for second-line center period, let alone guys who bring a two-way energy. I bet he ends up slotting right behind Copp and playing a lot like him.
Meanwhile Tyler Motte is more in the little devious bastard mold:
…he has always been a very strong, agile skater. Motte also added quite a bit of grit to his game this year, showing a great compete level and making up for his lack of size by using his quickness and tenacity to win puck battles. He's also still got some pretty good offensive abilities, finishing second on the U18 team with 26 goals scored on the season.
The other impressive thing about Motte's season is that he seemed to turn in some of his best performances against the toughest competition he faced. He was arguably his team's best skater in a 3-3 tie against Minnesota early in the year, scored a pair of goals in an upset win over his future team, the University of Michigan. He also led the US in scoring at the World U18 championships, with eight points in seven games.
That's very encouraging. TJ Hensick types who are awesome college players without projecting too well to the pros (Hensick never made it in the NHL and just signed in Sweden) are the best guys to have in your recruiting class, and if Motte goes in the third-to-fifth round range he's projected and remains a guy who gets it done at the college level, thumbs up.
Wheeeee. A look at LSU's finances gives some indication as to where athletic departments are stuffing all of the money in a mostly unsuccessful attempt to hide it all:
The major reasons for the ticket price increases are to offset skyrocketing tuition, salary and employee benefit costs, Alleva said.
The athletic department must reimburse the university’s academic side for each scholarship it hands out — even paying the higher, out-of-state rate for non-Louisiana student-athletes. Alleva said tuition costs have been rising about 10 percent per year the past several years.
In addition to ever-rising coach and employee salaries, Alleva said the fringe benefit rate has gone up from about 22 percent five years ago to 39 percent for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
“If someone makes $100,000, we had to pay an additional $22,000 to the university for sick leave, vacation, holidays and their pension,” Alleva said. “Now that rate is going up to 39 percent.”
LSU's budget has gone up about 150% in a decade, but only because skyrocketing costs have forced it blah blah blah. The money just makes your suit look lumpy and there's a 20 hanging off your sock, LSU.
Etc.: UF assistant Brian White: if you walk into a room and Urban Meyer is going "ding" in a wheelchair, run. 2015 OH SG Luke Kennard was the main attraction at Michigan's team camp. Elite 11 now overrun by men who write business books. The NCAA title belt, a history. Nebraska has a place to play if it wants to add hockey. Endowing the #1 jersey killed it.
Every week we obsess about something. Is it just to drive ourselves crazy? Is it because you like roundtables and we're ready to promise anything to a 5-star reader? Are you sick of this rhetorical paragraph? Fine. Brian's out this week so here's the e-pinion board:
|Sad Seth||The genre of player with unrequited interest in Michigan. Unlikely to receive offers; will finally get to touch the banner at the Bar Mitzvah at the Big House.|
|Nefarious Acewardo||Player is a longshot. Popular opinion holds that they're likely to be too busy writing 10 Hello posts all at once.|
|Mathlete||Players in this category maintain exquisite data.|
|Happy Heiko||Players whom Borges has in a small group as a tenuous favorite.|
|Mr. Blue in South Bend||Player is either a verbal or his Twitter account betrays a solid Michigan lean.|
And the question:
Right up until Signing Day 2012 certain bloggers were perturbed that Dennis Norfleet hadn't been offered despite being Steve Breaston wrapped up a little ball of hometown wonder that dances in end zones before kickoffs. Are there any guys in the 2014 class that you're eyeing and kinda wish these coaches would go after?
Seth: Answer my mailbag questions Ace!
Heiko: Dominique Booth? He's that four-star receiver from Indiana whose name we saw a lot on recruiting updates not too long ago. It seemed like there was significant interest between him and Michigan, but then he sort of fell off the map. Apparently Hoke and co. never came through with an offer. Now he's predicted to go to Tennessee. So ... what gives? I get that he's not the 6-3 minimum that Borges demands of his receivers -- at 6-0, he's basically a midget -- but he'd be kind of perfect for slot, no? He looks pretty fast on film, and he's really good at catching bubble screens ... Oh wait. That's why we didn't offer. Never mind.
BiSB: It's hard to be too geared up over any unoffered/untargeted prospects given the current target list. The coaches are making serious runs at a dozen or so guys, almost all of whom are somewhere between elite and EEEEEEEEEE. That said, one guy I'd like see the coaches give a hard look (especially if they miss on Dwight WIlliams) is Drue Tranquill out of Fort Wayne. I know he's the trendy name right now, but he seems like a guy who could provide some quality depth at SAM or strong safety. He also has the potential to be a special teams demon. Plus, if Michigan doesn't grab him, you just know he'll end up at Michigan State or Purdue or Iowa and he'll be a thorn in Michigan's side for what seems like seven years.
I'd also like to see Michigan expand their search for a pure OT prospect and offer a guy like Alex Bookser or Andrew Mike. But again, I'm not second-guessing the coaches right now. Not when they're in the position they're in with Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell and Juju Smith and Adoree Jackson and... /breathes into a paper bag.
Ace: Through no fault of his own, Wilton Speight will be compared throughout his career to David Cornwell and Michael O'Connor, the two quarterbacks he earned an offer over in February after the coaches evaluated each prospect — Speight sealed his offer after a personal throwing session for Jeff Hecklinski. If the current rankings hold, his career will be pointed to by one side or the other as a critical data point in the "coaches vs. recruiting rankings" argument; Speight is currently the #22 pro-style QB (#370 overall) in the 247 Composite, while Cornwell (#4 PQB) and O'Connor (#13 PQB) are ranked significantly higher. (Speight has one major outlier, ESPN, which ranks him as the #5 PQB — he's no higher than #21 elsewhere. By the all-important Rank Our Guys The Highest measure, ESPN is your recruiting service of choice this year.)
Cornwell, who committed to Alabama last month, seemed especially keen on a Michigan offer; thus far his rankings, offer sheet*, and camp performances — Cornwell made the Elite 11 finals; Speight didn't after an up-and-down showing in regionals — indicate that he's the better prospect. I also think Cornwell's junior highlight tape is more impressive than Speight's, but I'm just a guy — Al Borges and Jeff Hecklinski are far more qualified to make that evaluation, obviously. I think Speight is a very good prospect and a good bet to start down the line; I'll also be very curious to see how Cornwell does at Alabama, and same goes for O'Connor at Penn State. I know this doesn't really answer the question — Michigan obviously isn't going to go after Cornwell or O'Connor at this point — but I think the coaches have done very well at filling needs and no other names immediately sprung to mind.
I do agree with BiSB that landing a quality OT would be very nice (this is a pretty obvious statement). As for Booth and Tranquill, I think Michigan has better fits for their system with Canteen (a taller slot at 6'3" but still very quick, and I think he'll rise in the rankings) and their current linebacker commits. I could see the coaches extending a late offer to Tranquill, whose film I like, if they miss out on Dwight Williams and Jimmie Swain; I'm okay with the coaches waiting on those two before using a spot on Tranquill when they're currently at a premium.
*An admittedly unfair comparison, as Cornwell earned most of his offers, including Alabama, after Michigan offered Speight — who had interest from several schools, including Alabama, at the time of his commitment. It's quite possible that Speight's offer sheet would be at least as good as O'Connor's if he'd stayed uncommitted.
Ace: Also, it's worth reiterating BiSB's point that recruiting is going so well these days that we're really picking nits here. No coaching staff is going to be perfect when it comes to whom they offer and bring in, and it doesn't really work that way anyway; gaining early commitments — yes, even from lesser-regarded prospects — allows the coaches to focus their late recruiting efforts on the Da'Shawn Hands and Malik McDowells of the world, and it's not like the coaches have much say about when certain prospects decide to make a commitment. Top-100 tackle Ethan Pocic is a great example from last year; he was a strong candidate to commit but wanted to take his time, Michigan filled up on the O-line early, and when an extra spot opened up Pocic had already committed to LSU. Michigan did a solid job of filling that sixth spot with Dan Samuelsen but certainly would've preferred Pocic, in a perfect world. So it goes.
Seth: I like Samuelsen, but then I'm also an unabashed lover of Nebraska's offense, which by the way won the sweepstakes for Zack Darlington, the next dual-threat Apopka quarterback. No, I'm not going there. I would go for Illinois quarterback Clayton Thorson. That's Northwestern's guy in this class. He's 6'4"/197 so he's way more Gardner than Denard. The entire Big Ten except for Michigan and Ohio State was after him. Speight is great, but I think it was a mistake to not recruit a quarterback in 2012 and would like another bullet in the chamber in case it turns 2015 and something's happened to Shane.
BiSB: I think armchair recruiters are more forgiving of the "process" misses like Pocic. Knowing how many spots will be available, and how many recruits they will need at each spot, is obviously pretty complex. Fans are much less forgiving of perceived "evaluation misses," even if the people doing the criticizing are working off of much less information than the coaching staff. If Cornwell turns out to be better than Speight, people will blame Borges, even though there's no reason to believe Michigan WOULD have landed Cornwell (also, people will overlook how good Speight has been for this class. See: Peppers, Jabrill). If Artavis Scott turns out to be better than Freddy Canteen, people will blame Hoke, even though Scott probably wasn't even a realistic possibility when they landed Canteen.
But back to the topic at hand, if this class shapes up the way we're hoping, I can't see any late offers (or lack thereof) that could cause anyone to bat an eye. Unless it's Speedy Noil. Yep, that's the new goal. GET SPEEDY NOIL.
Mathlete: It's pretty hard to argue with how this class has filled up and what's left on the board. Is it too late to offer Braylon's brother?
Catching Up, Three Commits Later
Michigan hauled in three 2014 commits in the last three days in Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson, and Noah Furbush — if you missed any of their Hello posts, simply click on their name. While I initially couldn't find any film of Canteen in game action, a poster helpfully noted (though I forget where and can't find the link) that he shows up plenty in ECA quarterback David Sills' highlight tape. The focus of the video is obviously on Sills, so we don't get to see Canteen's vaunted route-running; he does, however, make several impressive grabs — look for him in the #19 jersey:
That's a solid body of work for just three games, and is evidence that Canteen has the hands and ball skills to complement his footwork.
In a post-commitment interview with Sam Webb, Watson revealed that despite talking about committing together, he and Canteen actually decided to pull the trigger independently; he also threw out a juicy morsel about another offer ($):
“We’ve been talking about (committing to Michigan) since we got the offer,” said Watson. “Freddy was looking at a couple of schools, and I was kind of leaning toward USC and Michigan. I just wanted to go out to SC and see what that felt like. When I came back I talked to coach I just said, ‘I want to go to Michigan.’ Freddy called about two minutes after and said, ‘yo, are you committing tomorrow?’ I said, ‘yeah.’ He said, ‘oh yeah? Me too!’ We basically told Coach Hoke ten minutes apart.”
“It’s funny I just got the Tennessee offer this morning,” Watson later added. “I told him ,’it’s a little too late… I’ve already made up my mind to go to Michigan.”
Watson's coach had previously mentioned that a USC offer was forthcoming until he committed to Michigan, adding to the growing pile of evidence that he and Canteen are better prospects than their rankings would indicate.
Landing two prospects from Eastern Christian Academy gives the Wolverines a potential edge with 2016 ECA LB De'le Harding, whose coach said he earned rave reviews at camp, per Sam Webb ($):
“He is the best rising sophomore in the country,” ECA coach Dwayne Thomas said. “I took him to Tennessee’s camp he was dominant and he got an offer. I took him to Michigan’s camp and no one would have even known he was 14 years old unless I told them. They’re going to offer him. Brady told me, ‘coach, we love that dude.’ The defensive coordinator told me, ‘we love that dude.’ I’ve been doing this a long time. I coached in college for 17 years and I don’t blow smoke. He will be the best player I’ve ever had. I’ve coached a lot of great ones. I’ve got two at USC and one already committed; I’ve got them at Auburn… I’ve got a lot of kids over the last three years at a lot of places, and he will be the best one, no doubt.”
Harding already has offers from Tennessee and USC after dominant performances at their respective camps; he's poised to be one of the top players in his class, and a Michigan offer should come sooner or later. Canteen and Watson both say they'll be giving their younger teammate their best recruiting pitch.
With the commitment of Furbush, meanwhile, Michigan is looking for one more linebacker prospect, specifically an outside linebacker, to complete their 2014 recruiting of that position group. Four-star CA OLB Dwight Williams is rumored to favor Florida, though Michigan also has a good shot; he told 247 that he's locked in officials to Florida, Michigan, and Hawaii, and the Wolverines are speculated to be the Gators' biggest competition ($). Three-star MO OLB Jimmie Swain, the other most-likely target, told Rivals that he's looking to cut two schools from his top five to ensure he can take officials to each of his finalists ($). Michigan is joined in that group by TCU, Michigan State, Oregon, and Stanford; the two Pac-12 school have yet to offer, and it appears the Horned Frogs currently hold the edge:
"TCU is the only one of the top five I've visited already. When I went down there, I just enjoyed the campus and the team and the way they practice. Coach Patterson and I talk on a regular basis. I just loved what I saw when I went down there. Ever since then, I have just been all about TCU. I just loved the atmosphere and everything about that school."
Swain says he hopes to decide in September; his visit, should he make it, will obviously be of great importance if Michigan hopes to land him.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on a trio of five-star prospects, an overview of the 2014 running back situation, and more.]
2013 Eastern Christian Academy prospect Kenny Bigelow has already enrolled at USC.
I initially planned on covering football and basketball as well as recruiting in this mailbag, but enough of you sent in questions (thanks!) that I had to go recruiting-only; I may do a separate mailbag to cover the rest later in the week. On to the questions...
For a number of reasons, I'm not worried about this. If you haven't read the SI article on Eastern Christian Academy, it's highly recommended, and should allay some of these concerns [emphasis mine]:
Strictly speaking, Eastern Christian is not even a school but rather a club, with members who attend an online private school called National Connections Academy. "There is a lot of confusion," says Steven Guttentag, president of Baltimore-based Connections Learning, which is the parent company of National Connections. "Eastern Christian is not a school. It's a football training program that provides a site. National Connections Academy is the school. They're our team." Connections Education counts more than 45,000 students among its accredited private and public schools. Its students include everyone from prodigies at New York City's prestigious Juilliard School of Music to Olympic hopefuls, but Eastern Christian represents the company's first foray into team sports.
[T]he reputation of National Connections, and the fast-growing digitalization of U.S. education, affords Eastern Christian a degree of insulation from skepticism. The growth of charter schools and homeschooling have pushed the number of students in grades K-12 taking online courses well into the hundreds of thousands. "What you're describing is definitely unusual," says Allen Ezell, a former FBI agent who spent 11 years investigating diploma mills. "But this sounds like a proctored setting, with adults watching over kids as they do their work and take their exams, and in today's world that's becoming normal."
The NCAA, according to the article, considers National Connections "an approved nontraditional course provider," so there should be no issue passing their academic requirements. ECA and its predecessor, Red Lion Christian Academy, have produced several D-I recruits in the last few years, and as far as I can tell there's been no issue with the NCAA or the recruits' respective schools. An incomplete list:
- 2011 Red Lion DL Angelo Blackson is entering his junior year at Auburn, where he's expected to start for the second straight season.
- 2012 Red Lion DL Eli Ankou was accepted by UCLA and redshirted last season.
- 2013 ECA five-star DL Kenny Bigelow enrolled early at USC, so he's already passed admissions and gone through a semester of classes.
- Fellow 2013 ECA prospects Khaliel Rodgers (USC) and Jahmere Irvin-Sills (Miss. St.) signed with BCS programs. Michigan's coaches reportedly contacted Rodgers after David Dawson's decommitment last year, but he was solid to USC and did not receive an offer.
Michigan admissions could be a different animal — though UCLA and USC are both fine schools — but here's where my final point comes in: Brady Hoke, quite simply, doesn't take academic risks. None of his recruits have failed to qualify and the line of communication between his staff and the admissions department is strong; let's just say the athletic department learned from the Demar Dorsey debacle.
While we're on the subject of Canteen and Watson...
Ace! Love your writing, dude.
Question on Recruiting. I trust the coaches, I love the coaches. They've earned the right to pick who they want. But do you think it's a little weird to go so hard after a few guys so off the radar at this point in the process (the past 3 days), or do you think the coaches truly see that much potential in these guys, and got some steals? I know - hard to know when a guy only plays 3 games a year, but curious for your take.
The longer I cover recruiting and, on occasion, happen to stumble into some insider-y info, the more I realize that the coaches do everything — everything — for a reason. In fact, you don't even need insider info to know this. Just look at how the wide receiver recruiting shook out over the last few weeks:
- Artavis Scott visits Clemson for their camp, which runs from June 12th-14th.
- Freddy Canteen picks up his offer at Michigan's camp on June 18th.
- In an article released on June 24th, K.J. Williams tells 247 that his top three is Syracuse, Michigan, and Mizzou, in that order ($).
- On June 26th, ESPN's Brian Stumpf reports that Scott has moved up his announcement and will decide at The Opening, which is going on this week. Clemson immediately becomes his presumed destination.
- Freddy Canteen commits to Michigan on June 29th.
Even if we presume that Canteen is the third option among those prospects — and I'm not sure the coaches would put Williams above him, especially since they wanted a slot receiver — it's clear that the coaches saw the way things were trending with Scott and Williams and decided to make a move instead of waiting, which could've left them coming up empty on all three prospects.
Then we get into the fact that Canteen, along with Watson, had very good reasons for being under the radar, and earned their offers by performing for the coaches in person. The Wolverine's Michael Spath posted a great rundown of recruits who were offered at camp and committed to Michigan; there have been 23 such players since 2002 ($). Of those 23, just six ended up as four-star prospects, and given that fact Michigan has been quite successful in identifying overlooked talent:
Among the 23, 21 have already completed their eligibility, and of those, 10 started at least one season for the Wolverines. Multi-year starters include: LB David Harris (2002 class), [OL Jake] Long, [DL Will] Johnson, [OL Alex] Mitchell, P Zoltan Mesko (2005) and OL David Molk (2007).
Yes, the list of camp-offered commits includes such luminaries as David Harris, Jake Long, David Molk, and the Space Emperor (Of Space). NOT BAD.
With the increased pace of recruiting, it's easy to forget that the current rankings will look wildly different come February; the recruiting services still haven't had a look at every available prospect, obviously, and there's still a good chunk of camp season, next fall's actual football season, and the postseason All-American games to go. Especially at this stage in the recruiting process, it's best to trust the coaches, at least until there's any shred of evidence that they're not good talent evaluators (and all of the available evidence points in the exact opposite direction).
It's not as simple as this with most prospects — the coaches do their best to use everything at their disposal to evaluate a recruit, and how much they weigh each factor is largely dependent on the specific recruit. Camp allows the coaches to not just judge a player's size, potential, and technical ability in person, it also gives them insight into how quickly a prospect picks up on their coaching — they can judge coachability and character in a way that they obviously can't do with a highlight tape.
The problem with camp, of course, is that it isn't actual football — they're running drills without pads, not lining up and playing 11-on-11. That's why game film is still quite valuable. With guys like Canteen and Watson, who simply don't have much film available, the coaches have to lean more heavily on how they did at camp, but for most prospects that's not the case. I wouldn't say camp trumps film, nor the opposite; this answer is a bit of a cop-out, but it goes on a case-by-case basis, as the available information differs — sometimes dramatically — from prospect to prospect.
I know people pay probably too much attention to stars when it comes to recruits, but the recent conversation about what coaches saw in certain players bothered me because it was based on an inexact rating system. If you think about a previous QB battle, mgoblog has this to say:
"Projection: Even if Robinson doesn't pan out Michigan won't be moving him for at least two years and doesn't have the quarterback depth to redshirt anyone this year, so at the very least you'll see him reprise the Feagin role from last year's Minnesota game except with a definite possibility he'll throw. Going forward it'll be a battle between his electric athleticism and Forcier's polish, with Forcier having the obvious early edge because of his spring enrollment."
And remember the recruiting hubaloo around Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. This got me thinking, of those who have pledged to Michigan in the past few years which player(s) do you think have far outperformed their ranking?
I'm not sure the example used here is the best one for the question, since both Forcier and Denard were highly-regarded prospects, but there are a few from Hoke's first couple classes. In the 2011 class, Frank Clark looks poised to outperform his three-star rating; he may have done so already simply by seeing the field and contributing early. 2012 signee Devin Funchess was a borderline 3/4-star recruit and he showed tantalizing potential as a freshman; when a freshman gets put on school record watch — in this case, Jim Mandich's career mark for receptions by a tight end — it's safe to say he's performing at a very high level. Ben Braden is another player from the 2012 class who could easily surpass his three-star expectations; Braden has a good chance to start at guard as a redshirt freshman and eventually make his way out to left tackle. Jehu Chesson, Willie Henry, and Mario Ojemudia are a few other candidates from that class to make a bigger splash than their recruiting rankings would indicate, potentially as soon as this fall.
So, with the three recent commits and the 2014 class already up to 14 guys, does this mean it's all quiet on the (mid)western front? I know this class was projected to be in the teens, maybe up to 20 guys, and I feel like we've gotten there quickly. Is Michigan kind of done for the time being on the recruiting scene or will there be another push right before the season?
I'm tempting fate by saying this, but I think the pace of recruiting for the 2014 class is going to slow down now that camp offers have gone out (and been accepted) and most of the remaining targets are high-profile players — those guys are more likely to utilize the full process, take their officials, and make a late decision knowing that programs will leave a spot open for them. Da'Shawn Hand, Adoree' Jackson, Malik McDowell, and JuJu Smith all fall under this category, and I'm surely forgetting a couple other targets either slated for late decisions or taking the process slowly. It's possible that Michigan picks up a couple more commits before the season starts, but for the rest of the summer I'd expect as much action (if not more) from the 2015 class.
How do you see the 2014 recruiting class finishing up based on what we know today? — AC1997
I'm operating under the assumption that Michigan makes it to 20 spots in the class, even though for now there aren't that many scholarships available. With 14 current commits, that leaves six open spots. I'd expect those to be filled by:
- VA DE Da'Shawn Hand (not a lock by any means, though)
- MI DL Malik McDowell
- A safety, hopefully JuJu Smith (a longshot) or PA ATH Montae Nicholson (a much more realistic option).
- An offensive tackle. There isn't an obvious candidate here with Jamarco Jones committing to Ohio State.
- An outside linebacker. Of the players currently holding offers, three-star Jimmie Swain and four-star Dwight Williams are the most likely candidates. I'm skeptical of Michigan's chances with Williams (a presumed Florida lean), though, and Swain named Oregon and Stanford to his top five recently despite not holding an offer from either; if one of those two comes through, that could spell trouble for Michigan's chances. We could see a late offer go out here.
- The best player available that doesn't match the above. That could be Jackson, though I highly doubt he ends up at Michigan, or perhaps a running back — CO three-star Kalen Ballage is the back they appear to have the best chance of landing with Jonathan Hilliman leaning towards Ohio State.
I did not overlook Parrker Westphal, though that's not based on any insider info. The longer his recruitment stretches out, the less I think he ends up at Michigan, especially since he seems like a better cornerback prospect than a safety and the Wolverines just took a pure corner in Brandon Watson.
I was asked the other day which of the freshmen would redshirt and I was like "ooh I'll Hokepoints that." Then I realized I wrote something on this last year,.
What it is: redshirting comes from the five-to-play-four rule. As written:
14.2.1 Five-Year Rule - A student-athlete shall complete his or her seasons of participation within five calendar years from the beginning of the semester or quarter in which the student-athlete first registered for a minimum full-time program of studies in a collegiate institution, with time spent in the armed services, on official church missions or with recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. government being excepted. For foreign students, service in the armed forces or on an official church mission of the student's home country is considered equivalent to such service in the United States.
22.214.171.124 Participation after 21st Birthday - Any participation as an individual or a team representative in organized sports competition by a student during each 12-month period after the student's 21st birthday and prior to initial full-time enrollment in a collegiate institution shall count as one year of varsity competition in that sport. Participation in organized competition during time spent in the U.S. armed services shall be excepted.
This is the 2010 version of the 1996 version of the 1986 "prop 48" that codified a rule going back to one of the NCAA's original guidelines from 1910. One of the first rules of the fledgling Big Ten was to require a year of residency at the school before competing. As the NCAA reformed through the 1930s the five-to-play-four thing was codified. Nebraska legend claims the first redshirt (they would), when Warren Alfson asked to sit out 1937, his sophomore year. The term comes from the color of the shirt scout teamers at some team wore—too many schools claim to be the origin for us to know which it was.
2012 Update: Among last year's guys, Clark, Gant, Strobel, Wormely, Godin, Henry, Ringer (no longer with team), Bars, Braden, Kalis, Magnuson, Drake Johnson, and Chesson made it through with their redshirts intact. Wilson, Pipkins, Bolden, Ross, Norfleet, Funchess, A.J. Williams, and Darboh played often, and Richardson, Ojemudia, Jenkins-Stone and Houma had theirs burned on special teams or backup duties or because Frank Clark got himself benched for a game. Gardner received his medical redshirt, and Countess put in for what will almost assuredly be his. Hagerup will have 2013 count for him.
Michigan's Redshirting History
My data goes back to 1993 because that's how far back Mike DeSimone goes and I used him to extend my database beyond my fan memory.
|Class||Recruits||DNE||RS'ed*||% of class**|
* Those parenthetical +'s are medical hardship redshirts or mid-career transfer years, e.g. the three for 2007 are Woolfolk, Hemingway and Threet.
** % of those enrolled who redshirted as freshmen
DNE=Did not enroll
We're guessing non-qualifiers were a problem solved by the regime change and this staff's tendency to target guys who spend their weekends doing nothing but homework and helping old ladies cross the street. Anyway they happen before the redshirt decision is made so I've removed them from the numbers. We see some fluctuating, where anywhere between a half and 86% of a class is shirted. In chart form (click biggets):
As you figured, position matters.
Cornerbacks and running backs tend to play right away. Receivers, safeties, fullbacks and defensive linemen play if they're big enough. Quarterbacks, linebackers, ends and tight ends are shirted if possible while they bulk up. Offensive linemen nearly always redshirt.
Hype matters too. I only have average stars to whatever sites in my database back to the class of '97 but that'll do:
Predicting the Class of 2013
|Player||Pos (RS rate)||Stars||RS??||Reason?|
|Kyle Bosch||OL (96%)||★★★★||yes||Is OL. However early enrollee and 2nd in this class to play if needed.|
|Jake Butt||TE (78%)||★★★★||no||EE. Could use poundage but Funchess and Williams only guys ahead|
|Taco Charlton||DE (67%)||★★★★||no||Beyer's move to SAM puts Taco on the three-deep at WDE, a rotational position|
|David Dawson||OL (96%)||★★★★||yes||Is OL|
|Reon Dawson||CB (39%)||★★★||yes||One of them has to.|
|Ross Douglas||CB (39%)||★★★.5||no||EE and at least one of the young corners will play.|
|Jaron Dukes||WR (52%)||★★★.5||yes||Either he or York will probably play this year.|
|Chris Fox||OL (96%)||★★★★||yes||Is OL|
|Ben Gedeon||LB (67%)||★★★★||yes||LB depth is finally good enough we can RS these guys.|
|Derrick Green||RB (36%)||★★★★★||no||Probably #2 on depth chart right now.|
|Delano Hill||SS (56%)||★★★.5||yes||May crack the depth chart w/ M-Rob's departure but there should be enough guys ahead.|
|Khalid Hill||TE (78%)||★★★||no||They played Houma last year and Hill is a weapon Borges can't wait to deploy.|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||DT (55%)||★★★.5||yes||If one of QWash,Pipkins or Henry may need freshman NT, otherwise RS.|
|Da'Mario Jones||WR (52%)||★★★||yes||Is the slot of the WRs; there's two seniors there now (Dileo & Jackson)|
|Patrick Kugler||OL (96%)||★★★★.5||yes||Is OL but could be in the mix; if he's not ahead of both Miller & Glasgow he should shirt. Burzynski can be 3rd guy at C.|
|Jourdan Lewis||CB (39%)||★★★★||no||Corners play early, or get wasted on punt coverage.|
|Mike McCray||LB (67%)||★★★★||yes||See Gedeon|
|Shane Morris||QB (62%)||★★★★.5||no||Death to ACLs|
|Henry Poggi||DT (55%)||★★★★||yes||Is the more 3T of the freshmen, so lots of options ahead of him.|
|Dan Samuelson||OL (96%)||★★★.5||yes||Is OL, needs to develop as a pass blocker.|
|Wyatt Shallman||RB (36%)||★★★.5||yes||Will RS while they find a position for him.|
|Deveon Smith||RB (36%)||★★★.5||no||RBs play early, will pass Rawls by end of season as #2 thumperback.|
|Channing Stribling||CB/S (39%)||★★★||yes||Skinny and positionally unsure but probably will be wasted on special teams.|
|Scott Sypniewski||LS (96%)||n/a||yes||Glanda still here.|
|Dymonte Thomas||S (56%)||★★★★.5||no||Already the starting nickel|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||OL (96%)||★★★★||yes||Is OL, developmental prospect, a lock.|
|Csont'e York||WR (52%)||★★★||no||One of the receivers will have to play at least, York seems most polished.|