LIST OF WWE PERSONNEL?!?
The chaos! Illinois finally came through on its promise to be an agent of chaos in the Big Ten title race by going on a 13-2 run to beat Indiana; the final bucket was a wide-open layup off an out of bounds play that went down when Cody Zeller lost Tyler Griffey. Court-rush: approved.
Here is John Groce screaming at a shirtless child I hope is not his.
I hope it popped out of a woman at courtside who was not even pregnant.
The implications are large for Michigan. Indiana has now dropped two league games and has visits to OSU, MSU, Minnesota, and Michigan on tap along with a home outing against the Buckeyes. Michigan's tough games left are @ Wisconsin, @ MSU, MSU, and Indiana. Advantage M. While OSU and MSU are proving they are going to have a say in this, the most likely outcome of the season is that the M-IU conference finale will see one team playing for an outright title, the other for a share. Last night's stunner—I think Gasaway will let me get away with that—shifts the outright half of that to Michigan. Viva Illinois chaos machine. Don't make me take this back after your visit to Crisler, kthx.
Meanwhile for, you know, the Illini: their quest to be an at-large team with an under .500 conference record is looking pretty good right now. Adding Indiana to their pile of skulls gives them the good wins of a top four seed and they've got a few more shots at adding to that pile. I think even 7-11 might get them in now. Beilein's bubble resumes with 20-12-ish teams were considerably worse since the Big Ten wasn't nearly as good and they didn't have a pair of nonconference wins on par with Gonzaga/Butler, and on Selection Sunday they were easily in.
- MICHIGAN 2011: 19-12 regular season, 9-9 Big Ten, best wins over 10-seed Penn State, Dayton-bound Clemson, 9-seed Illinois, 10 seed MSU (2x).
- HYPOTHETICAL 7-11 ILLINI 2013: 20-12 regular season, 7-11 Big Ten, best wins over (CTD projection) 3-seed Gonzaga, 2-seed Indiana, 4-seed Butler, 4-seed OSU.
That Michigan outfit ended up nowhere near the bubble, finding themselves in that 8-9 game against Tennessee. Bubble teams are weak yo.
So… who wants to play a John Groce team that consists of a bunch of shot-jackers who can burn your tourney to the ground if you catch them on the wrong day? That's nobody, especially not me. This time Michigan won't see them, though.
Oops. Will Sheehey got a technical late in the first half.
This is either the best thing ever or Bob Knight yelling at librarians, which is also the best thing ever. From Midnight Maize's erroneously named "Crap You Wouldn't Buy On EBay" series:
Someone purchase this and send it to Wolverine Historian.
Words are very unnecessary here.
OSU highlights. A comprehensive reel from MGoVideo:
That sequence of Sam Thompson block to Burke three to Deshaun Thomas missed three to deflected Stauskas pass to Deshaun Thomas three was all sickening lurches back and forth.
Also in OSU video bits, Five Key Plays.
OSU takes from Grantland. Mark Titus's power rankings spend a lot of time talking about how Ohio State should be about as giddy as you can be about a loss, lending credence to our "man OSU played well" meme. As for Michigan:
As giddy as I am over Ohio State's performance in Ann Arbor, a small part of me can't help but acknowledge the obvious — the Buckeyes played their best game of the season and Michigan still won. Similarly, Michigan didn't play very well at all at Indiana over the weekend, yet the Hoosiers beat the Wolverines by only eight. This is terrifying. Michigan is taking the best shots of some of the best teams in the country while not playing anywhere close to their best, and they're still tough to beat. They just have too many weapons, especially now that Mitch McGary is coming around. Very few guys in America can contain Trey Burke one-on-one, but if you decide to help too much to stop him, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, or Nik Stauskas will make you pay. The only hope in beating Michigan is to hope several of their players have off nights (like they did at Indiana). I guess you could also try to beat them at their own game and get into a shootout, but unless you're Indiana or Florida, good luck with that.
He cites Michigan's recent three binge as a source of concern. If they have to keep knocking down threes at a 50%+ rate to win games that will indeed be a worry. I tend to chalk that up to randomness and Tim Hardaway going nuts.
Also, all those makes obscured the fact that only 40% of Michigan's looks were from deep. That's only a little high. D-I takes 'em at a 33% clip and Michigan is at 36%. If Michigan had shot a D-I average number of threes against OSU we're talking about four shots migrating inside the arc. I'm not sure that's anything to get exercised about, especially after Michigan was right on the average against Indiana.
I do think he's got a point about Michigan getting deep-jumper happy at times. Like, say, the end of a tie game.
Also on Grantland, Shane Ryan puts up ten things about the game. I disagree that the Burke block was even close to a foul, as he asserts. The last one probably was, sure, but Michigan didn't win this game in regulation by five so whateva. Ryan does slam the heroball bit.
Revise your self-reality-checking. Michigan has gone from 5-1 against to 7-2 against in Vegas. They're now co-favorites with Florida. Also, add this great shot from John T Grelick to both Tim Hardaway's photo pantheon and the rapidly growing Stauskas pantheon:
And you could stand to update you wardrobe, too. Your media meme of the moment is something about Urban Meyer SECizing the Big Ten. The sole piece of evidence cited is increased recruiting budgets at a lot of schools. This is not much evidence. Michigan, the one school to keep pace with OSU's recruiting, actually saw its budget fall this year. Ohio State's is up marginally… and 9th out of the ten schools that responded. Meanwhile the schools that saw massive increases are Nebraska, which is an outlier since they just changed conferences and have gone national in an attempt to replace lost clout in Texas, and teams coming up to the Big Boy average without positive effect on their recruiting.
Nevertheless, the meme is on high today after Meyer said something about learning up his peers on the whole recruiting shazaam:
"Our whole conversation [at the Big Ten coaches meeting] needs to be about 'How do we recruit?'" he told the radio station. "When you see 11 of the SEC teams are in the top 25 that’s something that we need to continue to work on and improve."
He called the recruiting discussion "essential," and he'll spearhead it Monday.
Urban Meyer's perception of this meeting:
What everyone else hears:
This is what they hear all the time anyway.
Fitz! Running! A nasty dual break of Toussaint's lower leg results in running ten weeks after:
"Saw him running around -- I was shocked," Jackson said Wednesday. "The kid had a broken leg. Ten years ago, that probably wouldn't have been the case. But he was running around the other day and I don't know if they had him cut, but to me, that's tremendous progress."
As previously noted, the average recovery time of soccer players who suffered the same injury would see Fitz available for the season opener. While everyone's hyped about Derrick Green, it's nice to have multiple options—especially ones versed in Michigan's blitz pickup schemes. And putting a redshirt on DeVeon Smith might be nice.
File under extreme writer envy. Charles P. Pierce, writing on the Ed O'Bannon suit, summarizes one of the running themes appearing in this space for years in a paragraph:
By and large, the people charged with running our various sports conglomerates have proven through history to be as incapable of taking the long view of their own survival as the average brachiosaurus was. They blunder around, eating whatever comes under their noses, trampling the scenery and hooting loudly into the wind. They never see the meteor coming.
Writer jealousy: engaged.
Hugh Freeze going all Lance on us. Ah, youth:
I'm so irritated right now, so forgive me," the Ole Miss football coach said. "I've taken it about up to here with all the media and the Twitters and everybody."
Up next: 7 SEC championships, denials, dating Cheryl Crow, more denials, epic wristbands, tearful Oprah confession.
This Week In We Are Not Iowa. Michigan is trying to assemble a stripeout for… the Penn State game. In basketball. I don't think this will work. Next time go for the Brownian-Motion-Out, you guys.They're wearing 1968 throwbacks, which are actually 1968 throwbacks if the items they're selling on the MDen's site are accurate. As such, they are uniforms, no Z. I actually like them better than the current outfits.
Etc.: ESPN comprehensive photo gallery from OSU. You know what bugs me about the Magic thing? Magic averaged over eight assists per game. 17 and 7 is impressive; 17 and 8 is like whoah. Also whenever it gets brought up my feed fills up with Spartan fans contemplating a raid on Bristol. Kansas lost to TCU! Hoke doesn't like recruiting deregulation. Also, don't freak out about the video: that is not Chantel Jennings looking freakily like Samantha Ponder, it is Samantha Ponder.
The annual Detnews Blue Chips player interviews are a bit less interesting than usual. Reschke slams Urban Meyer, guys not recruited by Michigan are a little bitter, etc.
What is Hoke pointing at?
Option 1: Dick Vitale with stitches on his nose. Deadspin rumors are often just that, but I have it from the guy who was walking ahead of Dickie V when this occurred that the account of announcer meeting glass before the Ohio State game is mostly true. Variations: it happened more like an hour and half (as opposed to just-) before the game, and it was the glass next to the door (not the glass door itself) that transferred Dickie's forward momentum into Dickie's face in much the same way that air wouldn't have. Tirico behind him stood stunned for a moment before he registered Vitale was possibly really hurt. Staff sat him down in a side room at Crisler and then released him to do the broadcast, which given the circumstances I admit is pretty boss. Usefulness of this knowledge to you is minimal unless you were among those particularly annoyed by the inanity of Vitale's color commentary, but it is important if you are to fully appreciate this epic comment by suspected MGoReader "snoop-a-loop":
University of Michigan Emergency Department
Patient: Vitale, Dick 73M
Chief Complaint: "I WALKED INTO A PANE OF LAMINATED SAFETY GLASS! THAT THING WAS SOME OF THE HARDEST GLASS EVER! THERE MUST HAVE BEEN A MALFUNCTIONING SENSOR! COMPLETE REJECTION BABY!"
Option 2: I think he just recognized something and is like "hey that totally reminds me of…
I'm giving Max an epic basketball Hoke point for this photo essay that matches the iconic Fab Five pics to the 2012-'13 team doing the similar things. Judging by how long it took me to match the four above I figure this took quite a while longer than it looks. 100 more points to whoever can find a Game…Blouses from 20 years ago. Closest I can find so far:
Companion piece is GOLBOGM's well-written look at each of the main players (by position) on this year's team up through the Indiana game. He also put together a rundown of the remaining schedules among Big Ten contenders, though it needs an update after last night. Profile says this guy's only had an account for 11 weeks but I've seen him popping up with great comments in various threads, so keep an eye out for the guy with the Hoke RAWR '97 avatar:
LSAClassOf2000 wrapped up Basketball History Week with a comparison of the current team vs. all those since the last national championship squad. Before going on a charting binge he posted a direct statistical comparison of averages which I must front-page:
|Rebounds / Game||35.6||36.4|
|Points Per Game||71.9||77.8|
|Off. Rebound %||31.80%||31.40%|
|Def. Rebound %||68.80%||74.60%|
The mean of 1989+Fisher+Ellerbe+Amaker+Beilein-to-2012 is not a stat (I'm building a new hoops database which I intend to break that up a bit better), but this is how we feel about the basketball team in a nutshell. Free throws and offensive rebounding are sore spots but on par with our typical teams. Where these guys differentiate themselves is they make their shots and win the board battles on defense. Defensive efficiency is down less than offensive efficiency has run off the charts, and the result is 1 more point for every four (total) possessions than we're used to.
I am highly unlikely to devour something unpleasant. These SEC schools with sudden and inexplicable five-star windfalls need to be stopped says AC1997; getting Ole Miss to pee in a cup is harder than it sounds, replies Zone Left. I co-sign the thing about how it's hard for anyone but a journalist with an agenda to uncover evidence—players don't rat, fellow students have no interest in Bartman'ing their own teams, and everybody at the program level has dirt on everybody else. I'll add it's even harder to get a laughably incompetent and profit-motivated NCAA to investigate without tripping over itself, or to sanction to a degree that it's any kind of deterrent.
In this regulatory environment Urban Meyer is technically right in calling out the rest of the conference for its miserly ways. "…I mean we're giving out cars and cash all over the country and you can't match a few grand to a five-star receiver in your backyard?"
Mathlete pointed out yesterday that it's just the top of Mississippi's class that's noticeably different from their historical hauls. I take it as more circumstantial evidence that something was fishy about the top guys, since a "Freeze is just a better recruiter" or "players think Ole Miss is on the up" explanation should have seen a more even distribution of success. There was no across-the-board greater interest in Ole Miss this year among 4-stars, which is the greatest indicator that a program is recruiting at a higher level. Rather they got the same 3-stars they always get, and to that added a ridiculous success rate among the elite of the elite. If this happened naturally I'll eat something unpleasant—let's make it
the sleeve of an MGoShirt if no evidence emerges in the next four years because I'm not sure I want to bet the entire digestive tract on how poorly Ole Miss can cover their tracks a lemon because there's already a tag for that. I'm guessing what happened is like in Blue Chips, where Ole Miss decided to leap into a game they figured everybody else was playing, and got burned by Superman III- slash Office Space-level over-success.
Etc. Primer on Lacrosse opponents. Mock Rock videos—chatster points out that the native dance Sione Houma and the football team are doing is the Haka from New Zealand's Maori, but nobody knows where they got if form—perhaps Russell Crowe is hovering around the program again?
[Hit THE JUMP for the board stuff, and why I am suddenly a huge fan of Michigan's rowing team.]
PREVIOUSLY: The Offense
Following up yesterday's breakdown of the 2013 recruits on offense, here's a look at Michigan's defensive class—click each player's name to see their original commitment post:
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||DT||MA||3||4||4||3|
And now, some superlatives:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Linebacker
This class is pretty evenly spread across the position groups—an argument could be made for pretty much any group on the field. In an effort to avoid giving all of the awards to Dymonte Thomas, I'll go with the linebackers here. After 2012's big haul, Michigan only needed a couple of linebackers in the class, and they filled their two spots with a pair of very solid prospects in Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon.
The lone linebacker spot the 2012 class didn't cover was on the strong side, and McCray's size (6'4", 230 lbs.) and athleticism make him an ideal fit there. Gedeon, meanwhile, is a stellar athlete—he also starred at running back for Hudson—who should be able to cover the field sideline-to-sideline from the weakside linebacker position.
Honorable Mention: Safety, Cornerback
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Strongside DE
There isn't one, and that's the only hole in this class on the defensive side of the ball. After Michigan brought in three SDE-types in 2012—Matt Godin, Tom Strobel, and Chris Wormley—there wasn't a major need, especially with in-state standout Malik McDowell firmly in their sights for the 2014 class.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Dymonte Thomas
Defensive highlights start at the 4:22 mark.*
It's distinctly possible that no member of the 2013 class starts on defense next season, and that's a very good thing for Michigan. If one will, however, it's safety Dymonte Thomas, a dominant force in the state of Ohio at both running back and safety for the last three seasons. Michigan has to replace Jordan Kovacs, and if Jarrod Wilson isn't ready to step in at free safety, it's likely that Thomas Gordon will play there while Thomas slides in at strong safety.
Thomas may be the best pure athlete in the class—if he wanted, he could've easily been a four-star running back recruit—and he brings a very physical presence to the secondary. He should be an asset in run support off the bat and he has all the tools necessary to be solid in coverage, as well. Down the road, I think Thomas will be an all-conference—or even All-American—player, and it may be tough to keep him off the field this fall.
Honorable Mention: The only other play I see having a shot to start this year is Taco Charlton—he's an impressive player and the weakside DE spot is open to competition. That said, I don't see that happening unless Michigan gets hit by the injury bug.
*Also of note: those are junior highlights. His senior reel is well worth a look.
SUREST THING: Dymonte Thomas
See above. Frankly, I'm surprised Scout was the only service to rank him as a five-star.
Honorable Mention: Henry Poggi. Poggi may not be a superstar—he doesn't always explode off the ball on film—but he seems like a guy who should at least be a solid starter down the road.
BOOM OR BUST: Jourdan Lewis
I've seen cornerback Jourdan Lewis play in either a game or camp setting over a half-dozen times at this point, and he's an outstanding athlete who could conceivably contribute in the return game or even at receiver. When he played across from current Wolverine Terry Richardson as a junior, I thought Lewis was flat-out the better player—he's a little taller and is extremely good at making a play on the ball. After giving him a closer look this year, however, I noticed a couple holes in his game:
There are a couple major concerns I have with Lewis, however, that were on display on Friday night. He does rely on that recovery speed far too much in man coverage—if OLSM's quarterback had thrown that hitch on time, for example, I don't think Lewis would've been able to break up the pass. Then there's run support, where Lewis is very limited by his small frame; at his size, he has to be completely committed to throwing his weight around and tackling with proper technique, and I don't see that at this point. He tends to dive for an ankle-tackle and shies away from major contact—there's a stark contrast between him and Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit.
Lewis has all the athleticism necessary to be a very good cover corner, but he's going to need to add some weight, embrace the physicality of the run game, and refine his coverage skills if he wants to be a major contributor at cornerback. If that doesn't work out, he could flip to offense and be a playmaker in the slot, so his versatility gives him a lesser chance of flaming out, but there's no guarantee he'd stick there, either. I think Lewis is a prospect with a high ceiling, but he's going to have to work to get there.
Honorable Mention: Maurice Hurst Jr.—the athletic big man could wreak havoc on the interior, but he's got to learn to play low.
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Taco Charlton
When I drove down to Pickerington to see defensive end Taco Charlton's Central squad take on crosstown rival North (and fellow commit Jake Butt), I expected to see a raw pass-rushing specialist. Instead, I saw him play an instrumental role in keeping North running back Godwin Igwebuike (Northwestern commit) well below his usual numbers, sacrificing his personal stats to key on the run—and he still came up with 1.5 sacks:
Despite having a reputation as a pass-rush specialist, Charlton was instrumental in limiting Igwebuike on the ground, finishing with ten tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was largely tasked with keeping contain, and I don't recall a single instance where a running play got outside of him if it went to his side. While he sometimes allows offensive linemen to get their hands into his chest off the snap, he did a solid job of engaging and using his hands to shed blocks. He played a very disciplined game against the run, showed off a very high motor—especially impressive since he also moonlighted at tight end and on special teams—and always seemed to end up around the football.
As a pass-rusher, Charlton showed off more of a power game than what I've seen from him on camp film, getting his hands inside the blocker and bull-rushing to great effect. He still has that impressive speed around the edge and got pressure on a couple of speed-rushes, but for the most part he went right at his blocker—likely due to his contain responsibilities against the run.
Charlton has also really begun to fill out; Michigan lists him at 6'6", 249 pounds after he enrolled early, and he's got the frame to easily get up to the 270-pound range without losing his impressive quickness. I think he could factor into the weakside DE rotation as soon as this fall, and down the road he could be the edge-rushing threat that Michigan has lacked at DE for some time.
Honorable Mention: Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill. I've covered Lewis; Hill wasn't a guy I really focused on while watching Cass Tech since he was a long-time Iowa commit and there were so many D-I prospects on the field, but it wasn't hard to notice him anyway—he always seemed to find his way to the football and was a solid tackler once he got there.
SLEEPER: Channing Stribling
When cornerback Channing Stribling earned an offer—and subsequently committed—at Michigan's camp over some more highly-touted prospects (including eventual teammate Reon Dawson), he was a complete unknown despite coming from a football powerhouse at Matthews (NC) Butler. He was immediately pegged as an underrated sleeper, and after a senior season spent making big play after big play, it seemed like he was on the verge of making a huge leap in the recruiting rankings.
That never quite happened—Stribling ended up as a three-star across the board, so the sleeper label still fits. At 6'2", 170 pounds, he's very tall for a cornerback, and his playmaking skills were on display all year—in one game last fall, he had two receiving touchdowns, a defensive touchdown, and a kickoff return for a touchdown. If Stribling can fill out his frame and refine his coverage skills, he could be a very good corner; he's also extremely raw, and maintaining the quickness to cover college receivers at that height is no easy task.
Honorable Mention: Delano Hill
What better way to make the most uneventful signing day imaginable for a major college program even more boring throwing a bunch more numbers at you. You already know the narratives, now let’s take a look at the numbers.
Once again, I will be using my personal accumulation of the rating services for the numbers. Players are given a score at each of the four major recruiting sites and. A consensus #1 player gets 99 points all the way down to an anonymous 2 star getting a point or two. No points are awarded for moons, sorry Jordan.
New Members of the Hall of Highly Touted
Last year I created the Michigan Hall of Highly Touted to honor the top Michigan recruits by their incoming accolades and ratings. This year’s class features two players that crack the first team and another 3 added to the second team.
RB Derrick Green narrowly edges Kevin Grady for the running back spot, pushing Grady down to the first team flex spot, Darryl Stonum to the second team and Jason Avant off the board.
OL Patrick Kugler joins 2012 signee Kyle Kalis on the first team offensive line.
OL Kyle Bosch and David Dawson are on the second team. 3 of the top 10 rated offensive linemen Michigan has recruited in the last 12 years are members of the 2013 class.
TE Jake Butt has the fortune of playing at the position that has the lowest bar to entry on the MHHT and enters as the second team tight end.
S Dymonte Thomas was Michigan’s second commitment of the 2013 class and bumps ahead of Demar Dorsey as the top rated safety of the second team.
Position Group Notes
Offensive Line – without a doubt the marquee group of this class. Michigan’s six signees racked up 319 points which was easily the most acclaimed group in this class. Only Stanford’s absurd haul last year and Notre Dame’s class of 2006 were more highly touted entering college.
Running Back – Derrick Green pushed this group from good to great. Michigan’s running back class was a universal third behind Alabama and Ole Miss. Alabama’s loaded class was the best class since Pete Carroll lined up five star running backs year after year (2003, 2006 & 2007 to be precise).
Defensive Back – Michigan’s third strongest group was defensive back where they finished 7th nationally as a group and second in the B1G to Ohio St which signed the fourth highest rated group of defensive backs of the last 12 years.
Quarterback – Shane Morris’s senior year slide wasn’t any fun to watch but as a testament to were he started, Michigan’s one man class still finished 10th overall. Conference rivals Penn State earned the top spot nationally and was the only conference program in front of Michigan.
Wide Receiver/Tight End – The lowest rated offensive group still almost cracked the top 10, finishing 11th. LaQuon Treadwell would have been enough for the Wolverines to crack the top spot, but Ole Miss took Treadwell and the top spot. Notre Dame and Ohio State both edged out Michigan.
Defensive Line – The class of 2012 was a top 6 group allowing Michigan to focus on other areas for this class. The Wolverines finished 17th with LSU leading the way and Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska all exceeding the profile from Michigan.
Linebackers – Like the defensive line, Michigan was in a great position from 2012 on linebackers and focused elsewhere. Michigan featured a Top 10 average player rating but the limited quantity dropped them to 30th overall and near the middle of the conference.
National Team Rankings
As detailed last week, I am using a system that awards points to schools based on how their nth best recruit stacks up against other teams’ nth best recruits. Based on this here is my consensus Top 10 (the method is really only good at looking at the top classes) along with their player point totals using good ole’ fashioned addition.
|Rank||Team||Nth Points||Total Points|
Michigan wraps up the class tied for 5th with LSU, behind rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State, along with SEC powers Florida and Alabama.
Here is the chart for the top 3, Michigan and the two most interesting other classes.
Four of the programs, Alabama, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and USC recruited very well in the top 3-5 players of their classes. Alabama is able to then separate themselves from the field for recruits 5-15. Michigan and Notre Dame hold a consistent trend through the bulk of the class while the Buckeyes and Trojans finished somewhere between Alabama and the rest of the quality programs. Florida and LSU have trends very similar to Michigan.The reason I am not completely sold on Ole Miss’s class is that the depth really drops off quickly. After the top several recruits. There is a major devaluation of the Rebel recruits versus the other top programs.
The Rest of the Big Ten
If you follow recruiting much at all this year you’ve seen multiple mentions of the huge gap between the Big 2 and everyone else. Here is how the Future Big Ten teams fared in total recruit points accumulate in 2013.
|National Rank (Pts)||Team||Points|
You can oversign all you want and not get anywhere with totals like this. There is nothing about this arrangement that says the Big Ten is heading towards real depth.
The Accelerated Timeline
I haven’t been able to go back and add old signing dates, but based on BCS programs for the 2013 cycle, no team could compete with Michigan in terms of the speed at which this class was assembled. The average commit date for Michigan for the 2013 class was May 9th, nearly 9 months before signing day. Virginia Tech and South Carolina were the only other major programs to have their average commitment come in May. Of the top 20 programs, the five programs with the most late decision were all in the 11-20 range. Auburn was the king of late decisions with an average commitment coming two days before Halloween, which makes sense given the tumultuous season and coaching change they went through in 2012.
The biggest advantages for a fast developing class would seem to be the low drama signing day and a head start of the next season’s class. The no drama signing day was nice but hopefully the expeditious manner in which this class was assembled can yield some gains in 2014 and beyond. Otherwise, it might be worth it to go after a few more high end, late deciders, the only real gap between Michigan and the very top classes in 2013.
The Ole Miss Narrative
I don’t know if I felt like this got more traction around these parts due to losing long time Michigan lean LaQuon Treadwell and his instagram of Benjamins or just that the Rebels pulled in two really high profile recruits on signing day, but what originally looked like a whole lot of smoke seems a lot less suspicious to me after looking at the numbers. Aside from Treadwell’s quickly deleted picture, there are a number of signs pointing to Ole Miss being a legitimate player in the national recruiting scene.
Evidence #1: Their class isn’t as exceptional as its been billed.
ESPN called them a top 5 class and the top end is as good as anyone, but as good as the top was, as noted above, they very quickly return to their historical norms. So it then becomes a question of what happened with the top five or so recruits in the class. While back door dealing wouldn’t surprise me (it’s college football, nothing should surprise me) there did seem to be to be some genuine fluky connections surrounding some of their top signees.
Evidence #2: Hugh Freeze is a good recruiter
I don’t track assistants and recruiting, and with only full season as the head coach at Arkansas State, it’s difficult to track what he should be credited for. With that said, the class that signed as he was heading to Ole Miss, the class assembled during his only year at the helm was far and away the best class Arkansas State has had. The standard was low but the results do matter in context.
Evidence #3: Ole Miss’s class wasn’t as big of a deviation as has been claimed
Again, the top end is what is unique about Ole Miss’s class. Here is Ole Miss’s historical classes using the same format as the national leaders chart:
That is definitely a big gap. With that said, the Rebels’ 1,107 points were about 410 points higher than the average excluding this class. This ranks as the 19th largest spread in the last 12 classes and third largest of this year, behind Texas A&M and Alabama.
In fact the largest outlier of a class actually resides in the state of Michigan. Michigan State’s 2004 class was worth 1,072 points over 500 points higher than their historical average.
My personal take from all of this information is that I am less certain that Ole Miss had an unfair advantage in this recruiting cycle but still think it’s more likely that it happened than it didn’t. The class is unusual in its ability to draw elite level recruits and it is not easy to get 3 of the best 4 and 4 of the best 7 recruits your school has gotten in the last 12 years. Plus, its college football and college football in the southeast. If you don’t start with suspicion you haven’t been paying attention.
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + fullback.
This is the Signing Day Update. Certain recruits are added, NFL departures (or returns) are accounted for, and bowl performances are taken into account. Next update is after spring practice, which should see more significant movement.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Jake Long wannabe took second-to-last step to full clone by forgoing sure first-round status in this year's draft to return for senior year. Upside: shut off Clowney in bowl game, gives Michigan second returning starter, was All-American last year. Downside: has reportedly sold his twosie.
The Barbarian is Michigan's best defensive player and a lock for preseason first-team All Big Ten. Can change direction in a flash; consistently shocks opponents with his explosive acceleration.
Schofield came into his own midway through last year. Getting some NFL draft buzz now; shut down a talented SoCar bookend in the bowl. Could move to guard if necessary; ideally remains outside.
Groza semifinalist and hair enthusiast has turned his career around after early struggles. Hit 52-yarder last year en route to record accuracy for Michigan kicker. Likes brunettes and Keystone Light.
Should break out for real after a year to bulk up and work on his routes. Frequently targeted a year ago without effect, will need some outside threats to develop to truly annihilate defenses.
Former Rodriguez slot-dot is Michigan's leading receiver and should be again. Still a somewhat awkward fit as an outside receiver; a threat on end-arounds and screens. Punt return job may be up for grabs.
7. QB Devin Gardner, Jr.* [Last time: 12]
Late-season rankings slide of Shane Morris and solid bowl performance move Gardner from very likely to be Michigan's starter to a holy lock. No true freshman is supplanting him.
Safety attached to notorious six-pack has been a steady performer and a major contributor to Michigan's extreme lack of big plays allowed in the Mattison era.
Season surprise emerged into upper-echelon Big Ten nose tackle out of nowhere. Has the physical ability to be an NFL player. Requires your head, sorry, nothing personal.
Filled in admirably for Countess. Avery won't pass him, and it's doubtful any freshman will. Still needs to tighten up his zone coverage but has excellent size and athleticism for the position. Likely to move to boundary corner.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Most college-ready OL out of the Midwest in years probably could have—probably should have—started last year. If he does not ascend to starting job will have been beaten out by a classmate, freshman, or walk-on. Not happening; cue Imperial March.
Sticky-fingered Louisiana gnome proved his mettle in 2012. If a pass is physically reachable by him, will be brought in. Feet will motor afterwards. Lacks top gear.
Converted OL Michigan's best bet at inline blocking TE sort; needs to work on his technique in a serious way. Could near 300 pounds after an offseason in the weight room. Fears no fish.
Pressed into service as a started his freshman year before settling into perpetual third-best-corner-on-rosterdom. Will see half of the defensive snaps, covering slots and the like.
Major drop from last time out; was overranked to begin with since Bolden is pushing from behind. Excellent frosh play in bowl game puts job under a bit more threat. Realistically it'll be hard to move out of the MLB spot.
Kugler buzz sees Miller slide a bit as his competition will come in far readier than most to start from day one. Still seems unlikely a guy with a labrum injury can find the strength as a freshman to displace him.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
With Courtney Avery seemingly comfortable in the slot, Countess is likely to reclaim the field corner job he locked down midway through his freshman season… as long as he isn't hampered by lingering effects of his injury.
Early enrollee groomed as the Kovacs heir apparent as soon as he arrived, playing in certain nickel and dime packages as a freshman. Has not appeared on The Price Is Right, that's 'shopped, rookie. Marvin Robinson may challenge.
The only thing keeping Ross so low is classmate Joe Bolden; the two freshmen split snaps with veterans and played well. Ross seemed more instinctive and gets the nod here; had a great day against Northwestern and just needs 20 pounds to be a quality option.
IN A BATTLE
Yep: making the switch here, as Fitzgerald Toussaint now has to deal with not only DeVeon Smith but a 220 pound slab of muscle coming in with as much hype as it is possible to garner. Tailback is an immediate-impact spot.
Beyer has nosed ahead of Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia since he's a better run defender. Recruiting sites liked him best, too. Likely to split time with the other two contenders here even if given the green light as a starter.
Mountain-sized guard missed 2012 with a broken leg; will return for spring practice. Has to fend off freshmen and walk-ons, mostly. The non-Kalis guard spot will see a lot of intrigue.
Started to rack up meaningful snaps late in the year; will have to fend off challenges from Tom Strobel and possibly Chris Wormley and Jibreel Black, if he's not at three-tech. Injury-enforced retirement of Nate Brink means he's at least going to reprise his role this year.
Nominally in line to replace Will Campbell at starting three-tech but will be pushed hard by trio of redshirt freshmen, and may move out to SDE. May not have the size to start at his current position.
Someone large and leapy will have to pick up where Gardner and Roundtree(?) left off. Darboh did nothing as a freshman but seems likely to move in front of Jeremy Jackson and others to claim the other spot outside.
Stephen Hopkins' departure makes Kerridge the leader at fullback when face-smashing is called for; the additions of Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman may move Kerridge to the bench for periods of time when Borges wants pass-catchers at the spot. Houma?
Bowl suspension has Will Hagerup on thin ice, thin enough that it seems 50/50 he returns, at best. If Hagerup is out the door, Michigan won't miss much of a beat with Wile, who averaged 48 yards a kick in the bowl game. Picture may be slightly old.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—hopefully he redshirts.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint—worst. year. ever.
RB DeVeon Smith—most likely to fit what coaches want at RB spot
RB Dennis Norfleet—MOVE HIM BACK MOVE HIM BACK
OL Erik Magnuson—third option at tackle.
OL Ben Braden—rumor is they may give him a shot at guard with Lewan back.
C Blake Bars—if Miller is just too too small.
C Patrick Kugler—the chosen center, but labrum injury hampers.
WR Jehu Chesson—should be ready to go after redshirt in search of bulk.
DE Tom Strobel—oversized end coming off redshirt, should be quality run defender.
NT Ondre Pipkins—get thee to the technique hut, son.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—has the size, has the hype, has the ACL recovery process.
WDE Frank Clark—rotated with Beyer last year.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—seemingly the best bet for an impact pass rusher at the spot.
MLB Joe Bolden—needs weight, but coming off meaningful freshman PT.
SLB Cam Gordon—spots Ryan.
CB Terry Richardson—weight weight weight weight weight
CB Jourdan Lewis—will a Cass corner ever meet the hype?
S Marvin Robinson—not sure if he'll ever be reliable enough to play.
S Josh Furman—ditto
As the 2013 class wrapped up yesterday, Michigan landed its quarterback for the 2014 class, offering and receiving a commitment from Richmond (VA) Collegiate QB Wilton Speight. The Wolverines reportedly had Speight at the top of their board over OK QB David Cornwell and FL QB Michael O'Connor, and he jumped at the chance to be, at least for now, the lone quarterback in the class.
|NR QB||NR QB||NR QB||3*, 86, #23 PQB|
It is, of course, still early yet in the 2014 recruiting cycle—only 247 has ranked Speight thus far, naming him a three-star and the #23 pro-style QB in the country. All but ESPN (6'5") peg his height at 6'6", with a listed weight between 217 and 225 pounds, prototypical size for a pocket passer.
Evaluations are scarce at this point. Of course, the most important evaluation in this case is the one made by the coaches, and Speight passed his with flying colors last week:
The junior quarterback from Richmond (Va.) Collegiate showed off his skills to Michigan receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski on Friday. By all accounts, Speight did well.
"He was telling my coach that after five passes that coming down was worth the trip and everything he saw on my film was what he saw in person, which was what he was hoping for," Speight said of Hecklinski's evaluation. "It went really well. … In my opinion I threw really well. I threw one pass that was a little wobbly but I was just having a good time with my receivers. I thought I did completely fine."
Five days later, Speight had his first scholarship offer—clearly, Hecklinski liked what he saw.
247's Clint Brewster posted some impressions from Speight's film in the wake of his commitment ($):
Speight is a quarterback that can make all throws and also keep plays alive by dodging and breaking tackles in the pocket. Speight has a compact release, allowing him to make throws on time. Footwork is strength for Speight, as he shows proper steps on his throws inside the pocket and also has great mechanics when throwing on the move.
Being nit picky here, Speight can improve his throwing motion by following through on his throws and using his hips and legs to step into his passes better. Speight tends to throw off his back leg quite often, but gets away with it because of his arm strength at the high school level but could be a concern in college.
I largely agree with Brewster's assessment, though he fails to mention the hitch in Speight's delivery that will be apparent on film, and his arm strength isn't at a blue-chip level.
An important note: Speight was originally a 2013 recruit, but reclassified to 2014 after breaking his collarbone in the first game of his (first) junior season, per Scout's Kristin Kenney ($).
Michigan was Speight's first scholarship offer. He also had recent interest from Alabama, USC, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia; it's possible he was on the verge of several more offers if he'd remained uncommitted.
Some have asked for a new section in the commitment posts that mentions past players a recruit's high school has produced, so here you go. The Collegiate School hasn't produced a recruit above two stars on Rivals since 2002, but you've certainly heard of one of them: former NC State and Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, class of 2007. The only other BCS recruit the school has produced is current Virginia starting tight end Jake McGee.
Per VirginiaPreps, Speight threw for 2504 yards and 28 touchdowns while adding 235 yards and six touchdowns on the ground as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.73. Speight is definitely a pocket passer and doesn't look to have good speed on film, so that gets three FAKEs out of five.
You can also see Speight make some throws in a camp setting at the beginning of this video.
I'm very impressed by Speight's accuracy, both in the pocket and on the run. He doesn't have a cannon for an arm and has a bit of a hitch in his delivery, but he still looks like he can make all the throws, and his touch and ability to change speeds is impressive for a high school prospect. His arm will keep him from being a top-flight prospect, but as a three-star I think he could be underrated.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When Speight hits campus, Michigan will hopefully have Devin Gardner playing in his redshirt senior season, Russell Bellomy will be a redshirt junior, and Shane Morris will be either a redshirt freshman or a sophomore. Unless disaster strikes, Speight will be able to redshirt in 2014, and after that he'll compete with Morris for the starting job—he may be the one guy hoping Morris sees the field next year; if so, he could take over the job for two years even if he can't beat out Morris when he's at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has their quarterback for the class, and TomVH seems to believe they'll stop at one ($). I'd like to see the Wolverines take another and build some real depth, but at the moment this is looking to be a smaller class: attrition will add to this number, but right now there are around 15 spots for the class, with two already filled by Speight and linebacker Michael Ferns. Big priorities for the 2014 class include wide receiver and strongside defensive end.