Hatch. A very long ESPN article details Austin Hatch's situation, family, and dual plane crashes. Not blockquotable but recommended.
New tunnel. Via Maize on the MB, this is the new tunnel:
No longer will there be a hard edge, but the replacement is AOK.
Prepping for Mustaches for Michigan? Thought process: "I'm old. I'm old and bumpy and retired and don't have to impress anyone anymore… anyone except the bears I wrestle in the woods of the UP."
If a wizened old dude is punting for Troy this fall you know what went down.
I see you over there not caring. Discussion of the infamous, perpetually-closing "gap" between the basketball programs of Michigan and Michigan State descended into pure mockery of the Wolverines at some point during the Amaker era. Now it's popping up again what with the season sweep and Beilein snatching Derrick Walton before Izzo could even make a pitch, and this time it might actually have some merit.
The best way to check is through the actions of the rival. We've seen plenty of sarcastic congratulations for beating Michigan State's "worst team in a decade" (sounds familiar, that) and even more predictions of doom without Darius Morris, but have we reached the point where Michigan State fans might be protesting a bit too much about a lack of concern? Yes:
The upshot for Michigan State is that when you can hold off on offering a player like Derrick Walton only to lose him to a rival and still not have a major cause for concern, it's a testament to where your program and its recruiting have risen. So, again, great recruiting week for UM. "Boo-yah" to them, but, as Pete and others have suggested, there's more prospects like Jabari Parker, Drake Harris, Tyus Jones, Gary Harris, and James Young who should help to keep Michigan State's future recruiting success a likely proposition.
The upshot for Michigan is when you're causing the instate rival to reassure itself that everything is JUST FINE, THANK YOU, you are on the verge of having one of those… what do you call them… programs.
This hasn't actually impacted State much. Michigan's recent recruiting success has had little to do with MSU. Until Walton, no one in Michigan's 2011-2013 classes is a guy Michigan State had pursued. This was largely because it was MSU storming through the Midwest to pick up early commits from Costello/Kaminski/Valentine before Michigan could get a word in edgewise.
Now the pattern is reversed, but more importantly Michigan has put together a hell of a lot of talent over the next three years without having to overcome the Spartans. Both Michigan and Michigan State can be confident in their plan A recruiting by an established coach. Michigan is no longer under anyone's thumb.
Well, maybe. Early skepticism about Marell Evans's ability to contribute after not playing much at I-AA Hampton was muted by rumors he was injured, and via TTB Evans's coach confirms:
"That [lack of playing time] was definitely due to injury...he ended up re-injuring his foot. I think he actually first got injured up there [at Michigan] before he even came down [to Hampton], so he re-aggravated the injury...it was tough on him, as it would be for any young man."
Evans is even more important now without Kellen Jones. If he can be a capable backup for Demens that might give Desmond Morgan the luxury of a redshirt.
In case there was any question. Matt Godin is a defensive tackle, not a strongside DE:
Godin is listed at 6'6" and 270 lbs, but he said he would like to get up to 290 pounds by the time he gets to Michigan.
Pencil him in at three-tech. Also, Godin is looking to double his 28 TFLs from a year ago.
It could have been marginally worse. From Scott Dochterman's epic ten-part series on the Big Ten's divisional breakdown, there were actually worse options than "Legends" and "Leaders" on the table for the Big Ten division names:
“By the time we were done, we were really down to two categories: one that sort of described our geography, Midwestern roots and one that described our characteristics and mission.”
The divisional names that centered on the Big Ten’s mission included Scholar/Athlete, Academics/Athletics and Legends/Leaders. The 115-year-old conference has a storied history of on-field success with 18 Heisman Trophy winners and more than 50 College Hall of Fame players. It also boasts former President Gerald Ford as an alum as well as thousands of political, business and civic leaders.
We should just skip the preliminaries and rename the divisions "Dungeons" and "Dragons." We are the nerds of college football.
Even if the division names weren't going to be Bo or Woody as they obviously should have been I would have preferred Kinnick/Paterno or Stagg/Grange even if Michigan didn't feature because we would at least seem less likely to get our lunch money stolen.
(Dochterman HT: BHGP.)
All this and NBA bloodlines. Glenn Robinson III displays a variety of dunks:
BONUS THING I NEVER POSTED FROM FOREVER AGO:
Maybe he's Tim Hardaway's son, too. For a guy mostly known as a shooter Nick Stauskas can break an ankle or two:
Highlight video disclaimers apply but the sheer variety of drives there is encouraging. Stauskas can go left or right, deploys a crossover somewhere between effective and sick depending on its success rate outside highlights, and can spin his way to the bucket. He appears to favor his right hand to finish but there are a couple of nice baskets with his left in there, too. I even like the music.
Add 6'6" and three-point shooting and that's a nice pickup to go with Glenn Robinson III, who's been garnering steady praise of his own this AAU season. If Beilein can weather Darius Morris's exit the talent pipeline is in place to rip off a run of NCAA appearances… and maybe more. [ed: and then Beilein put together his 2013 class in about a month.]
BONUS FROM FOREVER AGO II:
King Eckstein. I made a joke about this Zack Novak article in the sidebar yesterday but managed to miss this spectacularly clichéd description of Chesterton's favorite son:
Novak, who helped establish a hustling, scrappy work ethic on a team that lacked grit and toughness, has played in 100 games, averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds.
That checks all the boxes, doesn't it? I guess he could have been described as "heady."
EVEN MORE NEWS FROM FOREVER AGO. If you missed it the first time around, a member of the Event Staff posted highlights from their annual meeting on the board about two seconds before I left for France. Items of interest to me:
The Stadium is no longer open to the public on non game days. This has been the during renovations but is now permanent policy. Tours can be arranged through the Athletic Dept.
Boo. I've been to the Stadium on non-gamedays a few times and it's always been fun, with kids and parents running around, trying to kick field goals, etc.
DB says night game is a test and it's for the fans and players. A bad experience would make this the only night game. Good experience = a night game per year.
If you hate night games you can do your part to never have them again by getting arrested.
DB confirms: design completed for filling out bleachers to top of scoreboard in south end. Capacity will raise to 120,000. Opponent tickets will be up at top next to scoreboard.
That latter bit is pure evil, or at least would be if the video board opposite you wasn't big enough to see. I'm a little skeptical they can sell 120k tickets consistently as long as the OSU/ND/Nebraska games are all home or away in the same season (and they refuse to schedule anyone interesting other than ND).
No number retirement due to large squads and number sharing issues.
Straws and lids are back
Sione Houma and Chris Wormley Go Blue
Local commitment article as UT FB Sione Houma kicked off the commitment pair on Monday, picking Michigan over offers from Utah, Washington, and Utah State. Another local article is a bit more fleshed-out. His high school coach insists he has the skills to play FB or RB. (HT: UMGoBlog). The Wolverine Blog talks about his development down the road:
Houma could be able to get up to 240 without losing anything…or maybe he won’t be able to surpass 225. It’s hard to tell at this point. If he can gain a solid 20 or so pounds, I’d be much more enthusiastic about this commitment.
Touch the Banner on his game:
he probably doesn't have the speed to break 50-yard runs or receptions, but he does have the ability to outrun linebackers and turn a 4-yard swing pass into a 10- or 15-yard swing passes. That skill won't turn him into a superstar, but having a fullback who can gain some yards after the catch will be a valuable commodity when Michigan runs split backs
For more on Houma check out Hello: Sione Houma.
OH DE Chris Wormley ended his actually-not-that-long recruitment (it felt much longer thanks to holding Michigan as a favorite for so much of it) at the BBQ at the Big House on Saturday - local article from The Blade. Go Blue Michigan Wolverine tackles "the motor issue" with Chris:
Although it may be a bum rap, Chris has been the subject of many sites discussing a low motor. Many very talented athletes gain this perception because the observer expects super performance from a super athlete.
The Wolverine Blog is withholding judgment until after this season:
All in all, it seems like his attitude changed. Obviously, the physical potential is there. But is he still the thrashing, crashing, mauling pass rusher we saw two years ago? He wasn’t last year, but things change. That’s why I’ll be watching his senior film more intently than any other recruits.
For more on Chris, check out Hello: Chris Wormley.
Cookout Quick Hits
MO WR Jehu Chesson talked to Tom about the experience:
We mostly talked about that and he was straight up with me and said that if two wide receivers commit then the receiver position is done. I feel like they're letting me know in advance what's going on with recruiting, which I like. I'm going to stay on my own track because I want to make sure I see all the schools I'm interested in.
Ha also said he'd have a narrowed list by the time school rolls around.
Quality fluff on preferred walk-on IL WR Bo Dever (far left in the photo above). His sister Morgan, a rising junior field hockey player, has also committed to Michigan.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins was making noise about nearing a decision ($, info in header) coming into the BBQ, but obviously his visit came and went with no commitment. Making that particularly odd is that it was better than he'd been expecting ($, info in header).
MI DT Danny O'Brien narrowed his focus to a top 6 coming into the weekend:
TrieuA Flint Powers (MI) DT Dan O'Brien's top 6: Michigan, Iowa, Alabama, Florida, Michigan State & Tennessee. In no order. More later.
He talked shop with Rivals readers Thursday night.
2013 QB Commit Shane Morris (center, in brown) gets some love at the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament. Ron Thompson and Dwayne Stanford (who was only available for some games due to AAU basketball) were among the top targets on his team. More on Morris.
2013 IL RB Ty Isaac was there ($, info in header).
2013 RB/DE Ath Wyatt Shallman was there, and told Tom what he thought:
This visit was pretty sweet, I liked it a lot. Anytime you go on a visit and get good food and get to go on the field it's going to help. Plus the coaching staff is awesome, they're all really funny guys.
Michigan fans were cautiously hopeful for a Shallman commitment, but he'll remain true to his timetable for now.
“He’s a guy who’s been kind of earmarked (by colleges) since his freshman year,” said Wright, who believes college programs view Gedeon as a linebacker prospect more than an offensive player at the next level.
Ben’s older brother, Alex, who also starred at Hudson, is captain of the football team at Harvard University. Wright said that could help the younger Gedeon navigate the recruiting process. as “his parents aren’t rookies to this situation. They know what they’re doing.”
Looks like good bloodlines from both a football and an academic perspective.
Since we've been focusing on the BBQ lately, some of this stuff may be just a little old. Phil Steele's top 200 prospects list is out, including a few Michigan commits:
- #33 Kyle Kalis
- #73 Royce Jenkins-Stone
- #74 Terry Richardson
- #91 Erik Magnuson
- #97 James Ross
- #161 Tom Strobel
- #163 Chris Wormley
- #197 Joe Bolden
A solid group of top-200 talent, though I'm surprised to see Magnuson that low.
Local fluff on MI DE/DT Commit Matt Godin. Relevant snippet:
While Godin said individual glory is not as important to him as team success, he also hopes to improve his statistical totals from last season. In 2010, Godin registered 66 tackles, 28 tackles-for-loss and two sacks. “I’m looking to double my tackles-for-loss, just get a ridiculous amount,” Godin said. “I’d also like to up my sacks to around eight.”
Godin plays defensive tackle for Detroit Catholic Central because he is the biggest defensive lineman on his team, but will likely play defensive end with the Wolverines.
Mixture of FNL-y stuff and future position news-type-substance.
Rivals fluff ($) on where OH DE Commit Pharaoh Brown will play in college.
Fluff on MI DE/LB Commit Mario Ojemudia.
PA RB Greg Garmon has Michigan in his final five, but not in the top three within that group. HOWEVA, that group may be shaken up by the axing of North Carolina coach Butch Davis. The Wolverines may have a chance to join Illinois and Iowa now. It does sound like he's been put on the backburner by Michigan's staff.
I feel a lot better with [the coaches]. They all seem like really nice guys and they have a great staff there. This visit helped Michigan a lot, and it also helped with my comfort level, so yeah... I think this is going to help speed up the process a little. I still want to take official visits, but there's certain schools now that I know that I fit in with, so it helped that part.
He's taking his time, but Michigan seems to be in good position.
Cal and Michigan seem to lead for CA WR Jordan Payton - and he may be nearing a commitment.
Michigan may be back in the mix for MD WR Stefon Diggs, as they were named to his top 15.
MI TE Ron Thompson plans to announce a decision on Friday at Lifting as We Climb Fundation's High School Media Day in Southfield. He seems solidly in "Sad Josh" territory at this point, so don't expect him to pick the Wolverines - although Shane Morris has been in his ear.
IL DT Tommy Schutt does not mention Michigan in a video interview with Tom Lemming. With Ondre Pipkins and Dany O'Brien both high on Michigan, it seems unlikely that he's an option for the Wolverines.
PA DE Noah Spence will cut his list to 7 soon (then to 5 within a month). Michigan's needs on defensive line are minimal at this point (aside from a true tackle or two), so Spence probably isn't a realistic option for the Wolverines.
Steve Wiltfong says Michigan is giving attention to MA CB Armani Reeves. As you may recall, Michigan and Reeves originally parted ways when the Wolverines landed other DB commits. Tom talked to Reeves, who sounds torn, because he likes Michigan but wishes they hadn't parted ways with him in the first place.
Onetime silent commit NY CB Wayne Morgan is not mentioning Michigan among his top schools. With limited spots, it's unlikely there's room for him anyway.
IN QB Gunner Kiel - notoriously quiet about his recruiting process - told ESPN that he planned to announce a decision before the start of his high school season. Shortly thereafter, he committed to Indiana. I'll fess up: I was secretly rooting for the Hoosiers (if not Michigan).
FL QB Bennie Coney committed to Cincinnati.
FL QB Tyler Cameron picked USF.
MI WR Aaron Burbridge committed to Michigan State, ending the Wolverines' hopes up pulling in the Farmington Hills Harrison triumvirate.
MN OL Jonah Pirsig picked Minnesota. With Michigan's current OL haul, I doubt he held a committable offer anymore.
OH DE LaTroy Lewis committed to Tennessee.
PA QB Damion Terry has Michigan interest.
TX WR Jake Oliver will "take his time" coming to a decision. He has Michigan interest, but with everyone in the Big 12 after him (and his dad on A&M's staff), it's tough to see him coming North.
Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis loves Michigan ($, info in header). That's infinity classes in a row with a D-1 corner out of Cass Tech.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Eastern Michigan Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||333.42||91|
|Points Per Game||19.00||108|
|Yards Per Play||5.05||89|
|Yards Per Pass||6.81||76|
|Yards Per Rush||4.07||72|
|Playcall Distribution||1.81 Rush:Pass|
Per expectations, Eastern was really bad on offense. Despite being below-average on a yards-per-rush basis, they pounded into the line almost twice as frequently as they passed (adjusted for sacks, they still ran 1.61 times for each pass attempt).
Where they were truly terrible, however, was the passing game. Their yards per pass attempt was slightly boosted by the rarity with which they actually threw it, but the efficiency number was amongst the worst in the nation.
Long story short, Eastern is bad at football (just you wait until we get to the defense).
Alex Gillett started every game for Eastern last year, but that's not to say he saw a whole lot of success: his completion percentage, yards per attempt, and interception percentage all range from mediocre to horrible. The one area that he did see success? The running game, where he led the Eagles on the ground.
Last year's backup, Devontae Payne, is no longer with the team, meaning that Gillett's backup will be a guy who has yet to play college football.
|Eastern Michigan QBs 2010|
|Eastern Michigan QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Gillett was bad last year (except on the ground), and now there is nobody else on the roster who has seen any playing time in college football. Gillett's legs are actually pretty impressive - if you remove sacks, he was near 6 yards/carry - so I gave him a slight bump. Still, as a pure passer, he has a long way to go.
The primary reason Dwayne Priest didn't lead the Eagles in rushing as a senior was an injury absence of three games. That did, however, give a few returning players a chance to step up. Official White Guy Corey Welch got the most carries, but he was outshined by freshman Javonti Greene on a down-to-down basis. Expect Welch to get some carries, but Greene should be the featured back. Dominique Sherrer and Joe Fleming should also get a few carries, and Sherrer chould even see a large role if he stays healthy. Despite all that, Phil Steele projects true freshman Ryan Brumfield to start, but color me a skeptic on that take.
|Eastern Michigan RBs 2010|
|Eastern Michigan RBs Receiving 2009|
Grade: 2/5. There's a bit of potential here, with the general EMU-ness of things dragging down expectations a bit. Javonti Greene has shown that he's ready to perform if given the opportunity, and Sherrer has shown off a bit of speed on kickoff returns. Still, this is a results-based grading service, and the Eagles haven't managed to get it done on the ground yet.
Kinsman Thomas was Eastern's most-used wideout last year, but still managed to gain a very-respectable 18 yards per reception. The second-most deployed wideout, Donald Scott, wasn't far behind. Unfortunately for the Eagles, those two combined for fewer than 40 receptions on the year.
With Gillett's favorite target, tight end Ben Thayer, graduating, the wideouts should see an increase in receptions, but will probably a regress to the mean in yards per catch. Garrett Hoskins (whose also-lofty YPC average is boosted by a 73-yard trick play reception) will step into the starting lineup, but it's tough to say whether a second tight end or a new wide receiver will step up to grab the last spot. Expect either Trey Hunter or Kevin Wheeler - who took an injury redshirt last year - to get the nod.
|EMU Receivers 2010|
|Ben Thayer (TE)||30||386||12.87||3|
|Garrett Hoskins (TE)||8||217||27.125||2|
|Josh LeDuc (TE)||17||155||9.12||1|
|Kyle DeMaster (TE)||3||19||6.33||0|
|EMU WRs Rushing 2009|
|Ben Thayer (TE)||1||32||32.00||0|
Grade: 2/5. The Eastern receiving corps has actually proven to be explosive, despite (or in part due to) their lack of opportunities. With three of the top 6 gone, however, those who remain are going to have to step up and maintain their past performance while getting more attention from the defense. I'll believe that can happen when I see it.
Eastern returns three starters (at least part-time) from last year, but there will be some position shuffling going into this fall. Andrew Sorgatz, who has started at left guard for the past two years, switched to center this spring, and redshirt freshman Campbell Allison is expected to take over his old spot. Bridger Buche has started two years at tackle, and will likely reprise his role from last year. Redshirt junior Korey Neal was a part-time starter at right tackle last year, and is expected to start once more (replacing longtime starter Dan Demaster). There are a few options for right guard, with Josh Woods and Orlando McCord strong options.
Grade: 1/5. Though the Eagles didn't give up a lot of sacks last year, a big reason for that is their heavy, heavy slant toward the run over the pass. Seeing as how they were unable to move the ball on the ground despite that emphasis, I'd say this unit was very weak. Losing two starters isn't going to help much, and I think they'll have to pass more (meaning more sacks) and not see much improvement in the ground game.
|Notre Dame Defense 2009|
|Yards Per Game||454.08||113|
|Points Per Game||43.92||118|
|Yards Per Play||7.26||120|
|Pass Yards Per Game||223.50||66|
|Yards Per Pass||9.00||118|
|Sacks Per Game||0.83||118|
|Rush Yards Per Game||230.58||118|
|Yards Per Rush||6.11||120|
Ladies and gentlemen, defensive guru Ron English!
The only thing Eastern wasn't absolutely terrible at was... having other teams feel bad for them, I guess. They faced the third-fewest defensive plays in the nation (the country's best defense, TCU, saw the fewest, with Minnesota right on their heels), but each of those defensive plays was practically a guaranteed success for the opposing offense.
The pass yards per game look alright... until you realize that teams simply didn't have to pass the ball, because they could get more than six yards every time they handed it off. All told, Eastern was in the bottom three of every metric that matters.
Terrible, horrible defensive team as they have been every year under Ron English, and every year before that.
As you might expect, the defensive line didn't exactly cover themselves in glory last year. At least three starters return alongin addition to a key backup. A pair of seniors "anchor" the middle in Brandon Slater and Jabar Westerman, with their classmate Javon Reese returning on one side. Junior Andy Mulumba will like come off the edge on the other end of the line, with Devon Davis and Brad Ohrman also in the defensive end rotation.
Undersized Kalonji Kashama (whose name you may recognize - he's the younger brother of former Wolverine Alain) can play either inside or outside, but since EMU needs more help on the interior, will probably do most of his damage there. Phil Steele is also high on incoming JuCo Devin Henderson, also an inside/outside guy.
|EMU Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 2/5. Nobody had more than 30 tackles for the Eagles last year (for comparison, Notre Dame's scheme - which only plays 3 linemen and doesn't expect them to make plays - had 4 guys over 30 tackles, and one over 60), and just about everyone struggled to get penetration. With another year of experience - and not that many key contributors from last year's roster departing - they should improve a bit, but to expect their progression to get anywhere better than "bad" is wishful thinking.
When your team was horrible at defending both the run and the pass last year and you lose your top two tacklers, both of whom were linebacker, you're in serious trouble. Marcus English, a multi-year contributor, seems like the only sure starter. So of course, Phil Steele predicts he'll be displaced by incoming JuCo Sean Kurtz. I think it's more likely that those two will combine at inside and strongside linebacker on the starting unit, leaving the weakside position to Steve Brown. Phil Steele also projects starting spots for a pair of JuCos (meaning his starting linebacker unit for Eastern is composed of 3 junior college players and no returners) Justin Cudworth and Blake Poole. If none of the JuCos can earn starting spots, it'll probably be Matt Boyd on the strongside as well.
|EMU Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 1/5. Jeeeeeeeesus this has a great chance to be a terrible defense, unless Ron English is some miracle-worker who has been sandbagging for the past two years. The returning ilnebackers bring very little to the table, as the two best players are out the door (without so much as a sniff from the NFL). Barring unprecedented individual improvement, or the junior college players stepping in as uber-sleepers, this unit should not expect much success.
Like linebacker, a bad unit lost a couple of its best players. Corner Marcell Rose and safety Martavius Cardwell both return, but the Eagles will have to replace the other two members of their secondary. Willie Williams, a strong safety/LB type, is expected to start at SS, and UCLA transfer Marlon Pollard will probably lock down the other corner spot. There's experience mixed in among the backups, much moreso than at any other position, especially since a number of JuCo players will be added to the mix.
|EMU Defensive Backs 2010|
|Marcell Rose (CB)||56||1||1|
|Martavius Cardwell (FS)||46||4||0|
|Willie Williams (SS)||35||4||0|
Grade: 1/5. Eastern Michigan's pass defense, despite losses, has to be better than last year's, if only because there's nowhere to go but up (the whole team had 2 picks last year!). Adding a player who was good enough to sign with UCLA out of high school should be a boost to a team starved for talent, but there's a long way to go to reach "bad," much less "mediocre."
Both EMU specialists from last year return. Jay Karutz will handle the punting (rugby-style, yo), and Sean Graham will reprise his role as the Eagles' field goal kicker.
|Eastern Michigan Kicking 2010|
|EMU Punting 2010|
Grade: 3/5. Neither Eastern Michigan specialist was particularly good last year, but at the same time, neither was a serious liability (and that's a big deal for a team where seemingly everyone else was a liability). With a year of game experience under each of their belts, it's reasonable to expect a bit of improvement.
[Ed: also check out Tom's Jehu Chesson interview.]
Detroit Catholic Central is the home of 2012 commit DE Matt Godin and 2013 RB target Wyatt Shallman (6'3", 248 lbs). Both were in attendance at Michigan's BBQ on Sunday and took in all the festivities. The event was probably more important for Shallman since his teammate Godin is already committed to the Wolverines. Here's a look at Wyatt's sophomore film and what he had to say about the event.
TOM: I know you're friends with a lot of the 2013 instate prospects, so did you guys all hang out at the BBQ?
WYATT: Yeah I was with the 2013 guys a lot. Shane [Morris] and [Jonny] Reschke. Their schools are two of our biggest rivals and usually Catholic Central kids wouldn't be caught dead with them. It was fun to sit down and not talk about high school football. It's interesting to talk about Michigan and to get a point of view from other teams about our high school. They're all a bunch of great guys, and they're all funny. Steve [Elmer] is a good guy too. He's a big dude; he's a beast. All of the 2013 kids are great.
TOM: Because of proximity I'm assuming you don't get to see Steve Elmer as much as the other guys. Was that your first time meeting him?
WYATT: The first time I ever met Steve I had heard about him during the season last year. I heard about some big dude and then I met him at the Notre Dame spring game for the first time. He's a teddy bear off the field but he's a killer on the field.
TOM: What was it like being out there with some of the guys that have committed already? Were they talking Michigan up?
WYATT: That was something that was interesting. A lot of the kids that were there today it's not like I knew them, I've played them though. Like James Ross. I know Danny O'Brien through Matt [Godin]. We were all just hanging out and playing catch out on the field and there was some chemistry with everyone. It was a different experience to get to know everyone in that atmosphere.
TOM: Since you're relatively close to Michigan have you been up there quite a bit, or was this all a new experience for you?
WYATT: I live twenty minutes away and the only time that I've really been there was to an Ohio State game in seventh grade, and also when I got my offer. This time we walked around campus, took a tour, and it was interesting to learn all the tradition and old things that are behind Ann Arbor. It's a cool little funky town. This visit was pretty sweet, I liked it a lot. Anytime you go on a visit and get good food and get to go on the field it's going to help. Plus the coaching staff is awesome, they're all really funny guys.
TOM: Since Matt Godin is your teammate and committed to Michigan has he been trying to recruit you at all?
WYATT: Matt and I, the recruiting has kind of cooled off because we're focused on the season. These visits aren't really the main attention right now. We start conditioning and two-a-days and we have our season right now to look at. He's been working hard though, and I'm really excited for his future.
TOM: With your recruitment do you really know yet what you're looking for?
WYATT: I don't know what I'm looking for yet, which is why I want to wait to decide. This isn't NCAA Football '12 where you can recruit a kid because he likes the college closer to home. There's a lot that goes into this, and there isn't one set thing that will make me go to a college. If it's the right fit for my family and I feel comfortable there then that's what I want.
Over the past two days Michigan has locked down the services of two touted 2013 players, IN SF Zak Irvin and MI PG Derrick Walton. The two commitments just about complete Michigan's recruiting for the next three years and, with the recent additions of Nik Stauskas, Austin Hatch, and Mark Donnal to go with ever-rising Glenn Robinson III, establish a new baseline for Michigan's ceiling under Beilein.
When John Beilein arrived at Michigan he'd never acquired a player ranked in the top 100 by the diverse and sundry recruiting gurus who translate AAU performance into college projections. Despite this, he'd turned West Virginia into a consistent tourney program and run to a couple of Elite Eights.
This made him attractive to Michigan. Since the Ed Martin thing Michigan has been erring on the side of caution. Beilein's reputation as a guy who could win without even glancing at the seamier side of basketball recruiting separated him from Brian Ellerbe, who seemed to seek out kids who were neither good at basketball or life, and Tommy Amaker, who recruited decently but could not coach to save his life.
Beilein's first class lived up to that reputation:
- UR Stu Douglass: one other offer, that from WMU.
- UR Zack Novak: one other offer, that from Valpo.
- UR Ben Cronin: one other offer from WVU.
- UR Robin Benzing: German.
Cronin's hip prevented him from ever playing and Benzing ended up a point short on his standardized test. Douglass and Novak have been important contributors but are obviously limited—their rankings and offers were on target. Benzing developed into a German national team player who's consistently been mentioned as a late-first or early-second round NBA draft prospect.
This was something close the script we expected when Beilein was hired. Michigan attractiveness relative to West Virginia should produce an uptick, though. Where is our uptick?
Mid-major sorts: 3
Touted recruits: 0
Outperformers: 0 (unless you count Benzing)
- UR Blake McLimans
- UR Jordan Morgan
- #100/#137 Matt Vogrich
- ~#60 Darius Morris
Uptick achieved: Darius Morris was Beilein's first-ever consensus top-100 recruit. Beilein identified Morris early and followed him around like he was a Grateful Dead concert; Morris held Michigan to be his leader throughout his recruiting process and picked Michigan over offers from Oregon State, Washington State, and USC. He proceeded to considerably outplay his ranking en route to becoming a two-and-done.
Matt Vogrich was regarded a pure shooter and given the last slot on the Scout 100 for having the purest stroke in the country; Rivals had him at the tail end of their 150. His offer list had a number of mid-to-low-level BCS teams (Stanford, ND, Wake, GT, Colorado). If not for Morris, Vogrich would have been Beilein's highest-touted recruit ever.
The rest of the class was not so much with the uptick. McLimans took a post-grad year in an effort to draw interest and did get Boston College and Georgia Tech offers, but his ratings were decidedly mid-major. Early commit Jordan Morgan was regarded a major reach even by Morgan's father; he had no other BCS offers.
Mid-major sorts: 2
Touted recruits: 1
Outperformers: 1 (Morgan)
- #84/59/#98 Evan Smotrycz
- #93/UR/UR Tim Hardaway, Jr.
- UR Jon Horford
- UR Colton Christian
Uptick sustained, with another guy around Morris's rankings in Smotrycz. Smotrycz was a non-entity when Beilein started recruiting him and committed just before a blazing AAU season that saw him leap high up lists—at one point he was a top 50 recruit. He came back to earth a bit before final rankings came out.
Meanwhile, Tim Hardaway, Jr., was rated on par with Vogrich but is playing on a much higher level. Horford is another mid-major sort who is moving towards contributing. His only other offer was from Providence. Christian was a very late addition who was headed to Tulane before a coaching change freed him up.
Mid-major sorts: 2 (Christian, Horford)
Touted recruits: 1 (Smotrycz)
Outperformers: 1 (Hardaway)
- #81/94/142 Trey Burke
- #73/98/106 Carlton Brundidge
- UR Max Bielfeldt
- The established pattern has gone from a single touted guy to one and a half touted guys to two, with one big body to develop in the mix. Michigan snagged Burke before another rise, this one spurred by a dominant high school campaign that saw him named Ohio Mr. Basketball; if anything it seems like he's underrated.
- Brundidge committed earlier and saw his rankings drop a little bit but still remains in the 70-100 range; Bielfeldt was a very late addition Michigan managed to grab over Illinois.
- Mid-major sorts: 1
Touted recruits: 2
This is where Beilein seems to ignite:
- #46/60/55 Glenn Robinson III
- #99/100/UR Nik Stauskas
If you believe the chatter coming out of this AAU summer, Robinson is due for another move up the rankings (he's already gone from a three-star to a top 50-ish guy) and Stauskas may as well. Either way this class is two solid four-stars who fit the system while simultaneously drawing attention from NBA folks. This class does not have the project/sleeper/mid-major recruits that have featured in all his previous classes, and it seems like if it adds anyone it will be national top ten recruit Mitch McGary. (Which they probably won't, but if they don't they don't have to add a random guy for roster purposes.)
Mid-major sorts: 0
Touted recurits: 2-ish.
It's too early for anyone to have a solid grasp on where this class is going to be ranked but Beilein has acquired a full class about a month after scholarship offers could officially be issued:
- PF/C Mark Donnal is on early top 100 lists.
- SG/SF Zak Irvin had offers from IU, Purdue, and Butler; two different sources have recently talked him up as a potential top 30 player in his class.
- SG/SF Austin Hatch's story is well known.
- PG Derrick Walton was set to visit MSU this weekend, whereupon he was likely to be offered. He's on early top 100 lists as well.
Even if the Irvin chatter is optimistic it seems like this will be another class full of solid top 100 guys well below the one-and-done range. That's three straight: a trend.
- Mid-major sorts: 0
Touted recruits: 3?
Time will tell how each of these guys develop, but it's clear that Michigan has gone from picking off late sleepers to identifying and acquiring their plan A targets. When the 2013 class is on campus the only players who can plausibly be identified as backup plans or reaches will be Horford—who seems like he'll at least be useful as a senior—and Bielfeldt. Everyone else will be a guy who Beilein was after hard early.
Sometimes that doesn't work so well and you've got Jarrett Smith and Ron Coleman on your team, but Beilein's track record when it comes to unplucked gems is unparalleled. See: every player at West Virginia, Morgan, Novak, Hardaway, Smotrycz, GRIII, and even Morris and Horford. Now that he's plucking gems other schools are interested in, well… as soon as Michigan figures out its point guard spot they seem Back. For now, and for a long time.
Notes from Brady Hoke's small-group interviews on Friday.
Pregame traditions: The Victors Walk will return this year. Brady has never touched the banner (he was already on the field as an assistant), but isn't yet sure if he'll do it going forward.
Captains will be voted by the team in the third week of camp.
Medicals: Teric Jones, Terry Talbott, Christian Pace are all done for their careers. Scholarship numbers: "I don't know... It's maybe 81 guys on scholarship right now.
On the #1 jersey: "They're going to have to earn it. And they're going to have to earn #2 after Vince [Smith] is gone." #1 will always be a receiver, and #2 will always be a DB.
"Football now at this level - for good or bad - is 12 months a year." It's hard not having coaching contact with the players in the summer, but he trusts they did the right work. "A guy like Denard who's played a lot of football and has a voice on our team, you give him that [summer leadership] responsibility." The strength coaches can help with workouts, but it's up to team leadership to hold guys accountable.
Strongest positions: "I think the wide receivers as a group, from what I can digest coming back, have done a good job. I think the O-line have done a good job." It's not fair to evaluate the overall talent level on the team at this point, but "I like our kids, how they've reacted to a transition." They're not a finished product at this point though. "We'll always have those discussions" about who will get serious playing time, but at the end of the day, the coordinators will get a lot of leeway, with Brady helping.
"I tell our coaches, when we start [summer camp] on the 9th, assume [the players] know nothing." They'll re-teach fundamentals to make sure everything is up to par. They didn't follow this approach following the 1997 season because they thought they could get by with three returning starters on the defensive line, and it backfired at the start of the '98 year.
Defensive line and offensive line are the two most important positions on the field. Everyone wants a great quarterback, but you can't move the ball (or stop the opponent) without winning battles up front. I think Al Borges [a QB-centric coordinator] would tell you that our offensive line has gotta be the lead for our football team."
Michigan is fortunate to have so many rivals. Lloyd did a great job handling the number of rivalry games, so Brady learned from him.
Possessing the ball, running it, and taking care of the football is an important part of team's success. "Mike Martin I'm sure would love to get zone-blocked all day long."[ed: bler.] The pro-style offense brings a different physical aspect that helps build team toughness. They need to hold onto the ball to help the defense, and the pro-style offense brings that. "We like points, don't get me wrong," they aren't going to hold the offense back from scoring, though, except in end-game situations.
Freshman contributors: "As we look at our depth, the two backs will get a chance. There's maybe some depth issues we have a little bit up front on the offensive line, there's maybe some depth issues on the defensive line." They might use freshmen to fill those roles, but he can't say which ones until he sees them play in camp.
"I think it's a shame - and I said this in my initial press conference - that we splintered or fractured, or whatever you want to call it, because that's not Michigan. We've moved forward from there." On "Michigan Man": There are just some guys who have integrity, love for Michigan, etc., that deserve the distinction.
"My expertise is not offense, and never will be. That's why we've got a great offensive staff." He meets with Borges about the offense twice a week during the season, and they discuss the offensive gameplan. "For me to go to Al and say 'we need to do this' ... that'd be a mistake." [ed: yes!]
The first thing Denard said to Brady was "Coach, I'm all-in." The value of a Michigan degree was important to his dad and him. He even said he'd help the team at another position if need be - but that didn't need to happen. Denard's speed is impressive, but his instincts and vision are great as well. "We're going to still keep some elements of what the spread gives you, because of his ability. But we're going to move to be pro-style offense, which he happens to be pretty good at that, too."
"There's no better running backs coach in the country" than Coach Jack. If they're three weeks into fall camp and there's still no starting RB emerging, then the concern will start to set in. He wasn't surprised or disappointed that nobody emerged in spring. They want to have one lead back carry the load (about 20-25 carries), and have a couple other guys help out with some carries. Stephen Hopkins can play both fullback and running back. He didn't shy away from blocking in the spring, which is encouraging. "Thomas [Rawls] is a bigger back who's got really good vision and balance and has explosion to him. Justice, I think he's got a real explosiveness to him, but also is physical enough to run over a guy."
"Kevin [Koger] I think is a guy who's on the line of scrimmage in some things we ask." There should be more tight end playing time available as well, because they'll use some bigger sets. Steve Watson has a great work ethic, and his skill set is a great complement to Koger. With so many tight ends on the roster, there will be some packages where they can get in and play FB as well, as an Aaron Shea-like position.
There are some pretty tough guys at wideout, which is where evaluations start for every position. WR blocking is crucial to creating big plays. "I think Junior has got a chance to be really a good player, I like Roy's work ethic, I like his attitude, I like Odoms's attitude. There's more guys there: Jerald Robinson has done some things that I'm a little more pleased with." He has matured, as players often do in their first couple years on campus. Junior has been doing great.
The players will weigh in at the start of fall camp. From the guys that have stopped by to talk to Hoke in his office, Taylor Lewan is 304. "By the time he's done, he'll be a 317 pound left tackle, or 320." All the other guys look pretty good. Molk is a bit bigger.
"I was talking to Bo a little bit - Pelini - and he had to build a confidence in the defense. We have to do that too, but the only way you do that is by stopping people." They still need to identify some guys who are playmakers, and put those guys in positions to succeed. That will take more than just fall camp.
Mike Martin has good movement skills, which is why they've been able to use him in different ways (along with his intelligence). That doesn't mean he is a perfect player, and they gave him some technique things to work on over the summer. Martin has the potential to be mentioned among some of the great defensive linemen at Michigan. He needs to improve using his hands.
Will Campbell has dropped 17 or 18 pounds - he was out of shape this spring. "Hopefully he doesn't eat it all back in the next 8-10 days." He has enormous potential that hasn't been realized yet. "Part of that is moving back and forth on both sides of the ball, and really finding a home. I think he's learning how to play up front, the expectations of how you have to play up front." He's had the opportunity to work with his teammates this summer, and hopefully he's taken advantage of that.
Craig Roh has matured, and has a better approach to the game now.
Jake Ryan can cause a lot of havoc on defense "because of the fanaticism that he plays with." He plays at a high level of energy, and the scheme needs to adjust to the personnel on the roster right now. "When you look at some of the different packages within a defensive scheme, I think there's some things he'll do a tremendous job with."
Kenny Demens is healthy now. He got scheme work in spring, just didn't do as much of the physical aspects because you want to be careful with shoulder injuries.
JB Fitzgerald needs to play more consistently to see significant playing time. "We'll have hopefully enough guys to have a rotation in there." They want to have guys playing hard for four quarters, which means depth is important. "He's had a really good summer, I'm sure of that."
Marell Evans did some pretty good things in spring practice, but there are some things he has to do better. "When you look at him from a guy who can be a good special teams guy for you, he fits that role. That's a big deal, because we need to play our best players on those teams also."
"I think Carvin [Johnson] had a good spring. He's a guy who is passionate and hungry and loves to play." He'll compete for a safety position. He's an intelligent competitor who likes to drop big hits. Courtney Avery had a good spring as well. "There will be a great competition between Woolfolk - because Troy'll be healthy - Courtney, JT Floyd will be healthy, and a young man named Greg Brown." Fall camp is important for Marvin Robinson, because he didn't get all 15 spring practices due to a class schedule. JT Floyd and Troy Woolfolk are both moving around fine and doing everything.
"We probably have more safeties than we do corners at this time, but it'll be fun to watch those guys compete." Corners need to learn to have a short memory if they get beaten.
Kicking will be resolved in fall camp. The young guy will be coming in (Matt Wile), but even during camp, they might not know because "kicking on State Street is different than kicking on Main Street." They won't know how guys kick in front of 113,000 fans until they get the chance. Dan Ferrigno will coach the kickers, and he's studied the fundamentals of kicking. However, they trust that the kickers are getting good advice from their external kicking coaches. "We're not settled in anywhere, honestly." There will be competition and expectations in fall camp.
Will Hagerup has an extremely good leg. "It's a weapon for you, and we want to make it part of our offensive package. From fakes and things that we might have to pooch punts." He needs to keep working on the finer points.
There are some candidates in mind for return duties, but it's too early to say who it might be.
Ohio recruiting: "There's a lot of familiarity, being from there." He's been recruiting there for 20 years. Michigan has 2 Heisman winners and plenty of great players from the state. Recruiting in the midwest is going to be an important part of the effort, but "also we're very fortunate that we're a global education." You can recruit nationally at Michigan, in addition to hitting the base areas. Georgia, Texas, Florida, California are other places to get talent. Big Ten Network is a good selling point for out-of-area kids, because it's nationally available.
Recruiting others' verbal commits: "We have a Signing Date for a reason, and that's the first Wednesday in February." In Brady's experience, the contact with soft commits has been from the kids reaching out, not the other way.
"Guys recruit well because they're honest and they work at it. Period. Michigan's not for every player. It's hard academically, and we're gonna have expectations of how you go to class."
It's tough to get junior college players into Michigan, so they won't really pursue that route. He didn't recruit JCs much at Ball State or San Diego State, either.
Jim Delaney's meeting with the Big Ten coaches on Thursday wasn't addressed specifically to Hoke and Fickell (whose schools he singled out in his speech at the podium), but to everyone, a reminder of the value of the Big Ten brand, and the importance of upholding that brand. "It's probably something that we all needed to hear to some degree. But at the same time, it's something that he felt - as the guy who leads this conference - he needed to make sure that we all were on the same page." Every conference commissioner that Hoke has encountered has taken advantage of similar opportunities. With so much change happening in the Big Ten (new coaches, new team), it was a good time.
Game day is more fun and easier with tough practices during the week. Even Hoke is hoping to have fun coaching.
It'll be a tough situation to play against San Diego State this fall, because there's a great group of kids there. They'll be a good team, with a 5th-year QB and a solid running back, and all 5 OL starters back. "Tremendous linebackers, that unit will be real solid for them." Rocky Long is a tough, no-nonsense coach.
Hoke is open to Full Cost of Attendance scholarships at Michigan, but there's a question of how far it goes. It is different from paying players, though. "I honestly don't have time to figure it out. That doesn't mean I don't care about it." It could create a bigger gap between the big and small schools. "Right or wrong, there's a division. We're fortunate because we're Michigan, with 110,000."
Hoke hasn't thought about proposals to raise minimum GPA requirements. [The interviewers tell him Bo Pelini and Kirk Ferentz said they support it, but SEC coaches were not in favor]: "I can't understand why" [Sarcastically].