landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
I'M NOT THROWING HAIL MARYS, I'M POSTIN' EM
If by now you haven't clicked on the thread that says "Jim Harbaugh starred in a 1990's video game commercial" I don't know what to say to you. There's a thread on our board that promises a video game commercial from the '90s starring Jim Harbaugh. Presumably it links to a video of said commercial. Presumably this video is the source of those eyeglow memes you've come across. Presumably you have already clicked and I'm talking into space. Except Harbaugh's already blown that up:
DEFINITELY WHAT I WANTED TO BE WHEN I GREW UP
8:30 a.m. Coats on hangers, children at desks
8:45 a.m. Attendance
9:00 a.m. Career Day intro
9:05 a.m. Desmond Howard
Career Day at my sons' school yesterday. They said I won. pic.twitter.com/ag36qs2syj
— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) May 12, 2016
Tough break for Victoria Gonzalez. https://t.co/hgfXz3x1fZ
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) May 12, 2016
9:35 a.m. Classroom revolts when Desmond is interrupted in the middle of his Green Bay career to introduce nutritionist.
Bringing the Heisman made sure he'd be memorable, but the Emmy too? That's just cold, man.
THE LOCKERS HAVE NUMBERS
The big reveal is Kekoa (Dylan) Crawford will wear #1 but the rest of the freshmen have also been tweeting their numbers. Many of them do not have numbers but have lockers with temporary 1s or 2s (or 9) on yellow sticky notes.
|"We're gonna need a bigger 3." –Hotel Putingrad|
New ones I was able to turn up from that thread plus a run through the Twitters:
- #1: Kekoa Crawford
- #3: Rashan Gary
- #7: Khaleke Hudson
- #10: Nate Johnson
- #22 David Long
Loving the Nate Johnson-Jeremy Gallon comparison. For the record, the yellow sticky notes were Eubanks (1), Mbem-Bosse (1), Asiasi (2), Lavert Hill (2), and Devin Gil (9). The other thing I noticed is the freshmen all have lockers separate from the rest of the team again. I believe Harbaugh reinstituted this last year to let the class form a bond.
As for #1, I'm glad someone will be wearing it again. It was cool that Lloyd made Braylon earn it but AC, McMurtry, Alexander, Butterfield, and Terrell all got to put it on as freshmen. And don't you dare say he's too small for it or I'll whip you with 40 gifs of Anthony Carter.
Of course none of them will ever be as great as the first receiver to wear #1 at Michigan, Tall Paul Goebel. If someone else doesn't beat me to it I'm going to write an HTTV special on him next year and calling it Number One. For now read his Wikipedia page.
DELAWARE IN THE C COLUMN
— The Review (@udreview) May 13, 2016
Rawak got mixed reviews in Bacon's book. She came to Michigan on a swimming scholarship in 1988 and stayed after graduation as an assistant for six years, covering 10 of a 12-year Big Ten title run. She then came back in 2004 to run HR, and was a rising star in Martin's administration.
Under Brandon Chrissi' staff increased from five to 60, and her responsibilities expanded to just about everywhere, including notably, PR director—without any training—just in time for the Shane Morris Incident.
On one hand the masses can't feel too bad about losing Dave Brandon's top lieutenant/hatchet man. On the other, Bacon clearly had sympathy for this competent, Michigan-loving person who was constantly being put in positions to fail by a boss she felt loyalty to. This seems like a departure both sides win.
Etc. This month in MGoBlog History Brian mostly disparaged over the Pistons losing to the Heat. Lacrosse tournament preview. Keep your eyes peeled for a softball preview; I'll bump that when it comes. This article by Ian Boyd is relevant to your interests. This PFF article is also relevant to your interests.
Your Moment of Zen:
Michigan announced its non-conference schedule today, and while there are certainly better home games than last season they may not do much to bolster Michigan's tournament resume when March rolls around.
Michigan's two marquee matchups are two-game home series against Michigan Tech, which finished 15th in RPI, near the end of October and Boston University, which finished ninth in RPI, in early November. BU is a young team that returns three of their top five scorers and managed to finish as high as they did in RPI despite a rash of injuries. Meanwhile, what Mel Pearson's done in Houghton has been nothing short of remarkable:
A one-off November road tilt against Arizona State, which finished 59th in RPI (out of 60), and a two-game home series against Lake Superior State are the real anchors of the non-conference schedule. It's nice to keep some of the old CCHA connections, but two games against a team that finished 44th in RPI makes that a series that Michigan has to sweep; if they do they stay put in RPI/PairWise, and if they lose a game or two they're in trouble.
Meanwhile, a two-game home series against Union and one-off road game at Ferris State are roughly comparable to games against Ohio State. An east coast road trip in late October has Michigan take on Vermont, which finished three spots below OSU in RPI at 35th, and Dartmouth, whose 22nd-place finish in RPI puts them one spot below Penn State. In other words, the only possible RPI boost in that portion of the schedule would come from Darmouth moving up two spots in RPI in 2016-17, and that's not likely to happen considering they lose three of their top six scorers and their top two goaltenders.
The Great Lakes Invitational features a guaranteed game against Michigan Tech and then a game against either Michigan State or Western Michigan; both finished in the mid-forties in RPI and are uninspiring second-round opponents.
Last season, Michigan overcame the loss of a pretty-close-to-All-American level player (in addition to a good sixth man) and barely made it into the NCAA Tournament with a conference efficiency margin of about zero. Fortunately the Wolverines found themselves on the right side of the bubble, but it took a Big Ten Tournament upset over Indiana, the conference champ, in a de facto road environment to sneak into the dance. That win – that shot – was definitely the highlight of the season. Michigan acquitted themselves decently enough in the NCAA Tournament, but familiar defensive woes doomed them in the second half against Notre Dame – a team that made the Elite Eight without facing anything higher than a seven-seed.
On the whole, it was a largely disappointing season. Michigan finished ranked 58th nationally in Kenpom – and the preseason projection for them was 17th. While injuries doubtlessly played a big role in underachieving, the Wolverines didn’t play well, even early in the season at full strength. The season divides into two distinct periods: with Caris LeVert, and without him. Even with him, U-M only split two games in the Bahamas against tournament teams and were clobbered by Xavier (at home) and SMU. Caris looked bigger, stronger, quicker, and more aggressive, but even a herculean effort against Xavier couldn’t keep Michigan in the game. LeVert couldn’t mitigate the team’s glaring weakness inside, though he usually did have Michigan’s offense running pretty smoothly.
Without him, Michigan made it to 9-8 (so, in addition to the first win over Illinois, Michigan was 10-8) in the Big Ten without suffering any would-be devastating upsets at the hands of the lesser half of the conference. Routs at the hands of Indiana and Michigan State at home within the span of a week were two more no-shows against top-tier competition. Wins over two physically imposing squads in Maryland and Purdue were the bright spots in conference play. Outside of those, the best thing you could say is that the Wolverines avoided losing games they really shouldn’t have lost and while that’s a good thing to be able to say, it’s not that great when that’s one of your top bullet points on the positive side of the resume.
Still, Michigan made the tournament, if just barely. Extenuating circumstances – Spike’s hips and Caris’s foot, namely – thinned the backcourt rotation and limited the team’s true potential, but at least they were playing better ball in March. The Indiana upset (truly a joy to watch in person at the Big Ten Tournament) got U-M in: clinging to a spot on the bubble felt like a deserving outcome. It was good experience for a team that was still pretty young – and has plenty of room to grow together.
While it was certainly a better season than 2015 (though similarly star-crossed), it was the second rough campaign in a row after the Big Ten Title / Elite Eight year. Shaking up the program felt necessary, and Michigan will have two new assistants, four outgoing transfers, and four new freshmen, two of whom need to play early. We’ll see if John Beilein – soon to be coaching his tenth(!) season in Ann Arbor – can make a jump after changing assistants like he did in 2011.
[some #tepid #Beilein #takes after the JUMP]
An Unexpected Twist
When an out-of-region prospect cancels a visit, it's usually a death knell for a program's chances of landing him. So, when top-100 AL WR Nico Collins didn't make it to the spring game, I assumed Michigan was out of the picture.
I was wrong. Collins got to campus last week, and he told 247's Georgia outlet he has a new leader in the aftermath:
"Right now, Michigan has caught my eye," Collins said. "I fell in love with them on my visit. They might be my leader - with Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson pushing them. There is just something more with Michigan - they have a plan for you after college - plus their football program is pretty nice."
We'll see if that holds once the post-visit afterglow has faded. Even if the pack catches up, Michigan is in excellent position; Collins noted two important factors are his relationship with the coaches and the quarterback situation at each program—M should fare well on both counts.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
|Hollywood, FL – 6'1", 225|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#46 S, #105 FL
|24/7||3*, #1326 overall
#90 S, #175 FL
|Other Suitors||Miami, USF, Louisville, CU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Teammate of Metellus and Bush.|
If you're the kind of obsessive who has a detailed impression of every recruit in Michigan's 28-man class, you probably think Devin Gil is transitioning from safety to linebacker once he arrives on campus. This was your obsessive author's impression, at least. It is also Don Brown's:
Devin played safety in high school but we project him to be an outside linebacker. Again, he's one of those guys with a unique set of skills and should also be a good pass rusher and blitzer. Settling him into one of those outside linebacker spots will be a big asset to us.
That impression turns out to be false. Gil has already made that transition. The senior highlight film above is one safety highlight to open and then all MLB. Gil was named to the Florida 8A All-State first team as a middle linebacker. By the time Gil took his official visit he was fully expecting to be a linebacker and had already reached 225. He is a linebacker, and he'll play linebacker. Linebacker.
Most recruiting services projected this was his destiny, but few checked back to see how they liked him after his senior year. Let's start with Scout, the lone service to rank him at his college position. Florida analyst Corey Bender:
…fierce when attacking downhill and pursuing the football. … active hands when taking on blocks. He's strong at the point of attack and even put a couple of blockers on their backside as well.
ESPN evaluates him as a safety but does mention his "linebacker mentality" and projects him as a box guy or OLB, so it's probably based off junior tape and not updated seriously since. Here are a few bits that seem relevant:
Physical defender who can disrupt and reroute. Does not show effective man coverage skills at this time. … will get after the ball carrier with a strong, physical presence. He can absorb blocks and shed in the box and looks very capable of being a box defender. He looks to intimidate his opponent with a little nasty in him. … Likes to hit, strong wrap up guy … good line of scrimmage player, can defend the flat and hook/curl zones and has the physical make-up to match-up with TEs/H-Backs.
Various Rivals evals are in a similar vein. This one is refreshingly blunt:
…had his share of both impressive moments and lapses on Saturday but the lateral quickness was on display. As was his ability to quickly change directions. Gil isn't going to win many track meets but the Miami commit has plenty of raw talent.
Other evaluations showcase the main reason to hope he defies recruiting expectations. He's a spread linebacker for spread times.
Gil showed a knack for covering smaller targets downfield. Gil recovers well for a linebacker and can change direction quickly for a prospect with solid size.
…added some bulk during the offseason but hasn't lost the quickness that allows him to run with most running backs and tight ends in space. During pass coverage drills he not only won reps, but came away with the ball on multiple occasions, including a one-handed highlight-reel interception.
…and then he was more or less forgotten about. It is possible he is LB/S diamond in the rough.
Gil is an OLB sort with good hands who can sift through trash and take on screens and the like. He's not that big and not that athletic and it's unclear whether he can cope with the upgraded competition level. I found this report from SBN's Miami blog to be uncommonly real:
One recruiting analyst I talked to said flatly "Devin Gil CANNOT play at Miami". A different recruiting analyst said "this is exactly the kind of hybrid player who will help take your defense to the next level."
That's where I am too. I like the fact that Michigan is taking a high school LB/S as an OLB; he may be able to hack it as a hybrid space player. But I cock an eyebrow when a highlight reel four minutes in length includes filler like fumbles that bounce directly to the subject and pursuit on which he cleans up a play someone else made. Gil's senior film above has a lot of that. It doesn't exactly jump out at you.
Gil's recruitment doesn't defy that tape, either. It was a lot like Josh Uche's: it began with a very early commitment to Miami and ended with a decommit and subsequent trip to Ann Arbor. Uche, who we'll cover next, was pursued by some heavy hitters. Gil not so much. Maybe that's an artifact of his quick switch from Miami to M; these days it's hard not to interpret that as disinterest from the school of sharks hovering below any P5-ish recruit.
The main way Gil defies the rankings—he's the lowest-ranked guy in the class per the composite—is by adding a bunch of weight and keeping his athleticism, which appears to be "not quite P5 safety but plenty good as a linebacker." It seems like he's started this process already.
Etc.: Devins love bucket hats. Seems like a very cheery dude, in the vein of Denard.
Why Denicos Allen? It's difficult to dig up HSPs in Michigan history because Lloyd Carr was so slow to adapt to the spread. There are few analogues for LB/S types at M. MSU has a number of them, though, and Denicos Allen is a relatively good comp. Allen is undersized at 5'11", 220. He was unheralded coming out of Hamilton HS in Ohio, and took a couple years of apprenticeship once arriving in East Lansing.
Afterwards he ended up a blitzing murderbot as an MSU SAM. The NFL didn't think much of him, but he was still a terrific college player and TFL magnet. Gil will have to hit big time to be the equivalent; Allen is a pretty good approximation of who he might be if he rolls double sixes.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. They obviously weren't paying close attention, but high profile guy on high profile team with thoroughly meh recruiting rankings does mean something.
Variance: Moderate. LB transition already underway and is a lot closer to plausible size at 225, but still kind of a situation where he's moving to a new position in college.
Ceiling: Moderate. Atheticism questions are likely to prevent him from being big time.
General Excitement Level: Not great. Gil didn't have many offers other than a flailing Miami program and M; he did hit some camps; he isn't a sleeper or unknown. All players can defy their rankings. I'm not seeing a ton of reasons why Gil will defy his.
Projection: 50/50 on a redshirt. The LB corps isn't much different from the secondary: both project to lose a lot to graduation and the draft, so some guys are going to see the field in preparation for 2017. Gil is a special-teams-ready guy who could be a competitor at a couple LB slots in 2017 and thus could play. He could also sit because he's not ready yet.
In 2017 and beyond he's going to have to fight through a lot of competition. At ILB, former teammate Bush is probably ahead of him. At SAM/HSP he's got to deal with Hudson and Uche and maybe Furbush, etc. It'll be an uphill battle for playing time as an underclassman. Projecting further down the road is tough since we have no clarity on what kind of guys get ahead in a Don Brown world; I'd be a little surprised if he could push through the competition to start.
Don't tell the SEC, but Charles Woodson has been on something of a satellite camp tour of his own lately, crossing the country to meet fans and talk wine. Woodson's the proprietor of Charles Woodson Wines, and he and director of operations Rick Ruiz have been holding events where fans get a chance to taste some of the company's offerings (like the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which made Wine Spectator's 2014 Top 100 list) and purchase autographed bottles of said wine. Woodson and Ruiz were in Ann Arbor for an event at the new Plum Market near North Campus yesterday, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Woodson for a few minutes to talk about some of his memories of Michigan.
If you're beating yourself up because you missed the event yesterday you should stop, but you're going to need to cancel your plans for this afternoon: Charles will be at the Plum Market in West Bloomfield (6565 Orchard Lake Rd.) from 4-6PM; there's no tasting event today, but you can purchase a bottle of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, get it autographed by Woodson at no additional cost, and ask that burning question you've had since '97.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at Michigan?
"My favorite memories? I don't know. I mean, of course it all revolves around football, you know. [laughs] But really it was, let's say memories of dorm rooms all of us stayed in, because most of us were in West Quad or South Quad. So it was just the times that we all spent together in the dorms. We were all kind of close knit, especially your class. The times we spent together in our rooms, whether we were partying or whatever it was, it was always great."
The [annual West Quad v. South Quad] snowball fight?
"Snowball fight, mmhmm. And then of course the games. My first time running out in '95, running onto the field and kind of losing my breath that first game because I had been in the Big House before but never as a player, and all of a sudden I'm a player and it's like 'oh, wow.' Kind of the magnitude of it hit me. Then of course the Ohio State game with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, winning that game, the punt return, and the rose in the mouth. I'd say that's five things right there."
In that game, did you allow that receiver a free inside release to bait Stanley Jackson into throwing an interception in the endzone?
"Well, it wasn't deliberate to let him inside, but it was deliberate to undercut him because it was in the endzone and you're always taught, you know, in the endzone the guy's not running a deep route- there's nowhere to go. So you undercut the route and the quarterback threw it right to me, so it worked out."
Did you have a favorite defensive play call or coverage that you guys ran when you were in college?
"No, I didn't. I mean, it was pretty simple what we did. Either I was in man-to-man or it was Cover 3 for the most part. But I played on the wide side of the field most of the time so no, I didn't have a favorite call."
Was there any receiver you had a bigger rivalry with in college than David Boston?
"Uh, no. Yeah, he was the biggest. He was the one that talked the most noise, you know, on that team. He was their star receiver and of course me being on defense, it was kind of a natural thing. So yeah, he would have been my biggest competition."
How did you get into wine and winemaking?
"So I spent a lot time in Napa Valley as a result of being picked there. The Oakland Raiders' training camp was in Napa Valley, and so as a result of being there three and a half-four weeks every training camp I used to spend a lot of time in the Valley at different restaurants just kind of watching people interact with wine, and I became very interested in it. I decided a few years after that that I would get into it."