Cass Tech OL David Dawson is one in a long line of Technicians who have pledged to become Wolverines, including his junior teammate Jourdan Lewis. He's also one of five four-star offensive linemen in Michigan's 2013 class, with the versatility to play anywhere along the line. I got the chance to catch up with David yesterday to discuss his commitment, the Cass Tech pipeline, where he'll play as a freshman, and more:
ACE: What made you decide you wanted to commit?
DAVID: I committed because I had been up there three or four times before I had been offered. My mom liked the academics and I felt at home. That was about it. The coaches were down-to-earth, it wasn't like they were trying to be fake or anything. It helped that our cornerback [Jourdan "J.D." Lewis] committed, so that was good.
ACE: Having you and Jourdan commit seemingly within minutes of each other, how did that go down, and how did it play a factor in your decision?
DAVID: We were joking about it earlier that day, saying "do you want to commit?" Stuff like that. They pulled me into an office with Coach Hoke and I sat down and talked with him for about 5-10 minutes. He offered me and I told I want to commit, and then he hops up yelling and everything, Coach Jackson came in. We called [Jourdan's] name, and about a minute later they were screaming out the back, walking in smiling, saying he committed too. That was just a great day.
ACE: What else set Michigan apart from the other schools you were looking at?
DAVID: Like I said, it would be academics. Everyone always says not everyone goes to the league, so the academic part was a big part. Then the possibility of working with a lot of the high-caliber guys that we're bringing in right now who are going to be there when I get there, that also played a big part in my decision.
ACE: You mentioned coming in with those high-caliber guys in your class. It seems like you guys have really made a pretty strong connection, obviously being there for that huge visit weekend and then over social media. What's it like to be part of a class that's already so tight-knit—and also so talented—this early?
DAVID: It feels great. We were on that Recruiting Nation show, and I saw that a couple of weeks ago. I like that we target the offensive line a lot, we pulled in five four-stars, that's always great. There's Shane [Morris], a good quarterback, and we've got a couple guys from the city who are going up there, plus a couple guys from Ohio. It just feels great to be a part of this class.
ACE: Michigan already has five offensive linemen, including yourself, committed in the class. What have the coaches told you about where they see you playing at the next level, and where do you think you fit in best along the offensive line?
DAVID: Coach Hoke was saying that I could play right tackle or they looked at me at guard, but he says when I get there they'll put me at right tackle and see how it works out there because he likes my athleticism and my feet. I guess when I get there we'll see.
ACE: Coming from Cass Tech, that's obviously a pretty huge Michigan pipeline. Are you excited to be back at Cass and rejoining your old teammates this year?
DAVID: Definitely. It'll be good playing another year with these guys, before going off to college I'll be playing with J.D. and [Kenton] Gibbs and everybody, then going off to college I'll be back up there with Delonte [Hollowell], Terry [Richardson], and Royce [Jenkins-Stone].
ACE: You mentioned a few of your former teammates that are now at Michigan. Did you talk to those guys at all when you were making your decision? Did they help you at all coming to your choice?
DAVID: Yeah. It was great; they didn't pressure me, but they said if that's where you want to go, there's no point in waiting and stuff like that. Royce and I talked a couple times before I made my commitment. I told him I wanted to commit and he didn't believe me, so when I did he was just like, "congrats," and he still didn't believe me until I saw him up there at school.
ACE: You guys have a pretty high standard up there at Cass Tech after coming off a state championship last year. What's the expectation this year for the team and for you personally?
DAVID: For myself, personally, just to finish a strong year, possibly get into one of the All-American bowls. From a team standpoint, we should just focus on our first game in Brother Rice on August 25th, then we can take it week-by-week, but ultimately we'll be playing at Ford Field in Week 14.
ACE: After spending the last year down in Texas, what was it like having that experience for a year and what's different about high school football down there versus back up in Michigan?
DAVID: Being down there, they work more on your football IQ. We had class down there, we'd watch film all the time, we watched film of us practicing—they'd film practice and we'd go and watch film of what we did that day. The coaches taught technique every day and then you'd play against high-caliber athletes week-in and week-out. It's somewhat different than Michigan. We have high-caliber athletes up here but there's a lot down there. That's what I think separates Texas and Michigan.
ACE: Heading into this year, you're already going to be playing—there's already Khalid Hill from Detroit Crockett committed. What's it like not only having a Michigan commit on your own team, but competing against future teammates as opponents before you head off to college?
DAVID: I played against Khalid my sophomore year, when we played them for the district championship, I think. I got to block him when I was there at that time. Senior year I just can't wait for us to line up until the end, then we'll line up and shake hands because we can't wait to go to college. But right now we're focused on another state championship for Cass, so anybody that's in the way has just gotta deal with it.
ACE: Going back to your recruitment and talking about the coaches real quick, what set Michigan's coaching staff apart from the other coaches you were dealing with?
DAVID: Like I said before, when I go up there, it's not like they're putting on a show. You see what you get. That's how they act. I felt comfortable because Coach Funk, that's going to be my position coach for the next four to five years, so that played a big part in it. Then Coach Hoke, he's just a down-to-earth guy, he's very cool, and I just felt like I was at home up there at Michigan. Everything played out.
ACE: When you come to Michigan, what do you bring to the table? What do you think are your biggest strengths as a player and what are you working on before you get to the next level?
DAVID: I bring my aggressiveness, footwork, strength, and my run blocking skills to the table. I just need to work more on pass blocking. Also footwork, you can never work enough on footwork, so that's something I'll want to improve before I get there. I'm very coachable; Coach Funk will tell me something once and I'll do it. They also tell me I have a good mean streak. I just like to play football.
ACE: Sum up in a few words what stood out about Michigan, what your choice ultimately came down to.
DAVID: I felt at home up there. The coaches are down-to-earth, the academics, and they're bringing in the high-caliber athletes that they're bringing in. That played a big part in my decision.
|WHAT||Michigan at Penn State|
State College, PA
|WHEN||1 PM Eastern, Sunday|
|LINE||M –6 (Kenpom)|
NO REASON WOO
Penn State is in a race to be the Big Ten's worst team with Nebraska. Nebraska is winning that race according to Kenpom, but the Nittany Lions aren't far off. As is often the case with bad teams, they have one decent-to-good player who they massively over-rely on.
Hi. You may remember me from such players as Dion Harris.
He's Tim Frazier and across the 345 teams playing D-I basketball this year he's 12th in time on the court, 9th in percentage of possessions used, 95th in shot percentage, and 2nd in assist rate. Given all that it's a credit to his game that he's shooting 46% from two and getting to the line a lot. He can't shoot threes (28% on just a couple per game) and I'm guessing his conference numbers are uglier than the overall ones, but Penn State has no choice but to have him launch a ton of shots.
There's a massive dropoff to the second banana, 6'4" sophomore Jermaine Marshall. Marshall launches enough shots to crack the top 400 players nationally but shoots 44% from two and 31% from three with few assists and few free throws drawn.
Senior Cammeron Woodyard is a pretty amazing statistical package. For one, he's shooting better from three (37%) than he is from two (34%!). For two he's got a tiny turnover rate and this is enough to see his ORtg creep near Frazier's on decent usage. Sophomore Matt Glover is the other nominal starter; he's shooting 30% from two, 18% from three, and 52% from the line. He's 6'4". He's got a really high turnover rate for a low usage player. I'll be amazed to see him on the floor. Any time he shoots and it goes in you should throw a little fit.
Penn State's center is a three-headed one; no head edges above a 100 ORtg. Sophomore Sasa Borovnjak is the guy who's gotten the most time. He's a tiny usage player that does shoot efficiently on his rare opportunities but produces very little other than that. Freshmen Ross Travis and Jonathan Graham are basically the same player with a little more usage and a little less shooting. As rebounders, they're meh. And free throw-shooters, they're all terrible.
Penn State is 4-13 in the league with home wins over Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Purdue. That Purdue win was by 20 and stands out as the most inexplicable game in the league this year. The nonconference schedule was probably worse what with losses to Kentucky (by 38), St Joe's, Ole Miss, Lafayette, and Duquense. They did pick up a win over bubble team South Florida.
In the first meeting Michigan won 71-53 in both teams' first conference game of the year. Tim Hardaway ripped off 26 points on 10-11 shooting from two (he was 1 of 7 from three) and Penn State shot 39% percent with no one other than Frazier cracking double digits. To get there he had to take 18 shots and commit five turnovers.
Conference four factors:
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||44.5 12||54.0 11||49|
|Turnover %:||18.0 5||19.9 3||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||31.4 6||28.1 3||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||30.1 10||50.3 12||36.5|
Penn State can't shoot at all. They're last in the conference from both three and two, get more shots blocked than anyone else in the conference, and launch a low number of threes.
On defense, they give up a massive number of quality three-point looks. Opponents are shooting 40% from deep on 42% of their shots! Penn State is not good at basketball! At all at all at all! They're also allowing conference opponents to hit exactly 50% from two.
Feed Timmah. Given Hardaway's last game and his last outing against these dudes, Michigan should try to turn his status from "not as bad as he's been" to ON FIAH. Hopefully that does not mean contested three pointers. Given the numbers above it probably doesn't; Penn State probably hasn't contested a three all year.
Anyway, put him in a position to go to the basket and see what happens.
Get Douglass to slow Frazier with help from friends. Beating Penn State is making Tim Frazier score inefficiently, full stop. Michigan did an eh job of that in the first game and still came away with an easy win but if Frazier's points:shots ratio is over 1 in a road game there could be some uncomfortable moments if threes aren't falling.
Obligatory bit about threes falling. Seems like everyone else's do; Michigan hit 8 of 25 in the first go-round.
The Colton Christian show. With both Jordan Morgan and Evan Smotrycz suffering stingers against Illinois their availability is questionable. Beilein:
"We'll know more after (Saturday's) practice," Beilein said Friday. "All the guys who played heavy minutes (Thursday) are going to do very little (Friday).
"(Morgan and Smotrycz) have seen the trainers, and they've had rehab and we'll see how they feel."
It seems like they'll go. How effective they'll be is still in question.
If they're limited it seems like it's 6'6" bench magnet Colton Christian in line to get the spare playing time. Michigan threw him out there against Meyers Leonard and survived. Christian had a nice roll to the basket for a layup in the first half and had another in the second half wiped out by a dodgy-seeming charging call. As a bonus, he didn't get owned by Leonard, though that had more to do with Leonard's disinterest in the first half and exhaustion in the second.
If he's the third guy at the five against Illinois there's no way he's not against Penn State. All he has to do is not give up easy buckets and provide some rebounding/"energy". Given his opponents that seems doable.
Don't inexplicably reprise the Iowa game. If Michigan loses this it's going to be on them.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by six.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at Patrick Kugler's newly-released junior highlights, breaks down 2013 Ohio rankings, discusses visitors and new offers, and more.
Commits: Prepared For MANBALL
Patrick Kugler's junior highlights were uploaded to YouTube today, and as you can see above, Michigan's latest commit has no problem playing through the whistle. Offensive line highlights start at the 2:32 mark (though his D-line clips are well worth a watch) and largely consist of Kugler planting a defender into the turf, often several yards downfield. Speaking of Kugler, GBW chatted with him recently, and it turns out he didn't even need to meet Brady Hoke before being sold on Michigan (free article!):
Patrick Kugler committed to Michigan football program this past weekend without even talking to his future head coach Brady Hoke. That has since changed as the four-star offensive linemen finally caught up with the head man last night.
"He is really exactly how I pictured him," Kugler said to GoBlueWolverine about his phone conversation with Hoke. "He has very high energy. He is serious and very straight to the point. I like everything about him on the phone. I can't wait to go meet him actually."
You can't say enough about the recruiting job Hoke has done in a little over a year at the helm in Ann Arbor, but don't undersell what his assistants have accomplished; if Darrell Funk isn't on multiple end-of-year best recruiter lists, it'll be criminal. The fact that Michigan has its line class sealed up in February is largely his doing.
Bucknuts is counting down the top players in the state of Ohio, and Dymonte Thomas comes in at #4 while Jake Butt
cracks makes the list at #10. (I typed "Butt cracks" without thinking and then started laughing my ass off. Yes, I'm 12 years old.) Here is ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter on Thomas ($):
“He is outstanding on both sides of the ball. He is a no-brainer at safety. He could play tailback because he is so explosive. On offense, he will deliver a blow. But I think Michigan really does see him as a defensive back.”
And Porter compares Butt to a guy who would live in Michigan's nightmares if not for Denard Robinson:
“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”
Scout, meanwhile, has released their top 50 for Ohio. Thomas is #2—behind only OSU commit Jalin Marshall (ahead of Rivals 5-star DB Cameron Burrows)—Butt is #10, Jaron Dukes is #20, and Taco Charlton is #29. Other recruits of interest include RB DeVeon Smith (#3), LB Ben Gedeon (#11), LB Mike McCray (#13), CB Gareon Conley (#16), CB Darian Hicks (#19), TE Jake Matuska (#22), and WR Kevin Gladney (#23).
Chantel Jennings profiled Wyatt Shallman today, and a big reason why the big athlete from Catholic Central committed to Michigan was because they gave him the chance to play tailback. Expect him to bring quite the physical attitude to the position ($):
"[My grandpa] always talked about how power football and power running, downhill, four yards a carry, that sort of thing, that has always been Michigan's M.O.," Shallman said. "That's really what Michigan football is about. That's really what football is about, smashing heads."
Shallman is training with Mike Barwis on top of his regular workouts with CC; heads will be smashed.
Quickly: The Wolverine breaks down film of Logan Tuley-Tillman ($), and the evaluation goes along the lines of everything else you've read on him: great athleticism and drive, needs work on technique. TomVH on the reinvigorated recruiting rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State ($).
Weekend Visitors, The Linebacker Crunch, and More
As far as I've seen, Michigan has just two visitors lined up for this weekend: Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon (possible, not set in stone) and Indianapolis (IN) North Central OT/DT Darius Latham (both links $). Latham is an interesting prospect—he's adept on either side of the ball, though at this point the Wolverines would only take him at defensive tackle.
Gedeon, meanwhile, is one of the top linebackers in the Midwest, but there's going to be a serious crunch at the position. Michigan leads for Good Counsel LB Dorian O'Daniel, who's higher-ranked than Gedeon, and also for top-50 overall prospect E.J. Levenberry, and they could secure the commitment of Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray on March 8th when he announces. After last year's bumper crop, the only spot along the linebacking corps that really needs reinforcements is at SLB, where both Levenberry and McCray project. O'Daniel and Gedeon seem more like MIKE/WLB types; right now it looks like Michigan will only take two LBs, though it's possible that they grab a third if the numbers work out and a guy like Levenberry is looking to commit. All four are high-quality prospects, so this could become a first-come, first-served situation.
O'Daniel wasn't the only player to name Michigan as his leader this week, as he was joined by Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley, a four-star prospect ($, info in header). Conley plans to visit Ann Arbor on March 10th, and he wants to make his decision before his senior season; we'll see if things move quickly on that front, as he'd be the big (6'1", 170 lbs.) corner Michigan wants.
Quickly running through other players who named Michigan among their top x lists: Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton now has the Wolverines in his top five with Tennessee, Mississippi State, Penn State, and LSU ($, info in header). Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge DE Jonathan Allen named a top six of Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida and NC State ($, info in header). Five-star S/RB/LB Su'a Cravens hasn't narrowed down his list, but says that "USC, UCLA, Michigan and Washington are recruiting me the hardest right now," though he maintains that every school recruiting him is equal at the moment ($, info in header).
New Offers, Future Potential Visitors, and Happy Trails
A couple new offers surfaced for the Wolverines in the last few days. New Orleans (LA) Edna Carr TE Standish Dobard now lists a Michigan offer; he's a three-star recruit to 247, but is being pursued by most of the heavy hitters in the SEC. The Wolverines also recently offered Pendleton (SC) four-star DT Michael Hill, who's considering a summer visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
Several players are planning future visits to Ann Arbor. Here's the most recent list:
- Pittsburgh (PA) Seton-La Salle TE Scott Orndoff just decommitted from Wisconsin and will be on campus March 17th ($). He says if he likes the visit, Michigan will shoot to the top of his list.
- Tampa (FL) Wharton five-star CB Vernon Hargreaves III might be a tough pull from the state of Florida, but he's considering a summer visit ($, info in header).
- 247's #37 overall player, Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas DE Joey Bosa, is in regular contact with Greg Mattison and will likely visit Michigan and Ohio State in an upcoming weekend ($).
- Perhaps the top priority among DT recruits, Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi, has already visited Michigan twice but wants to see Ann Arbor again ($, info in header).
- Chandler (AZ) Hamilton CB Cole Luke, a four-star prospect, is thinking about swinging by Michigan and Notre Dame after planned spring trips to Texas and Oklahoma ($).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata DE Tashawn Bower is talking with Curt Mallory about setting up a spring or summer visit ($, info in header).
There are a couple happy trails to report. Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff's Adam Breneman, the top-ranked TE in the country, will announce his decision on March 9th at 7 pm. He has not visited Michigan, so you can rule the Wolverines out; this will likely be a choice between Ohio State and childhood favorite Penn State, and I expect he'll end up with the Nittany Lions. Meanwhile, Centerville (OH) OT Evan Lisle, who held a Michigan offer prior to the O-line spots filling up, committed to Ohio State after receiving his Buckeye offer last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles lineman Matt Miller, brother of Michigan center Jack, in the Detroit News; he could end up as a Spartan unless Michigan decides he's a good option at DT. Black Shoe Diaries recruiting analyst Jeff Junstrom notes an interesting lack of overlap between Michigan and Penn State recruits—only one of M's 13 commits held a PSU offer. Magnus released his initial TTB rankings for the 2013 commits.
Fab Five. Wolverine Historian continues to feature Fab Five games that officially may not exist anymore:
The inside scoop. Seth Davis did one of those ask-coaches-off-the-record articles that always feature a mix of insight and bitchiness and make for quality reading. The take on Michigan (emphasis mine):
Michigan: The Wolverines are dangerous because they shoot the ball so well and stay within their sets, but they can also lay an egg because they rely so much on threes. You almost have to play small with them because they force you to. If you have a big man, it's hard to guard them because everybody will step out and score. I don't think Tim Hardaway Jr. is a tough kid. He just wants to shoot jumpers. If you have a dominant person inside, you can go right at them because they're not real big. Hardaway has not had the kind of year we were all expecting, but he has an uncanny ability to make threes late even when he's not shooting well. Trey Burke is the best guard in our league, and Jordan Morgan is much better offensively than he was last year. They don't scare you defensively. They'll get after you and compete, but you can run your stuff and score on them.
The section on Ohio State also mentions that they're "probably kicking themselves a little for not taking Trey Burke," and the Wisconsin bit is all about how terrible and awful and disrespectful they are.
Maybe this whole standards thing isn't a huge deal. Remember when some guy said that unconfirmed thing about Brandon saying that Michigan wasn't going to compete with the SEC for things and stuff and would have standard like things and everyone was all like boo boo boo we want to recruit Manninghams even if they like smoking pot, like, forever and ever?
Yeah, that was in the long long ago when Michigan was striking out late in the 2012 class and hadn't secured a top five 2013 class like two weeks into that recruiting cycle. But, like, you know who we lost out to for a couple important guys? Stanford. This Stanford:
Haskins points out that just because a guy plays football doesn't necessarily mean he's physically tough. From a mental side, Shaw maintains the Cardinal's rigorous academic requirements forces the program to get determined people. "To be honest, it's built in for us," he says. "We can look [at] the physical toughness when you watch a kid play, but we're also finding out about that stick-to-it-iveness when we're asking them to re-take tests, take AP courses and make tough decisions to try and get admitted here. That shows dedication, toughness and perseverance."
That's from a long Bruce Feldman piece on Stanford's ridiculous-not-just-for-Stanford recruiting. The Cardinal is proving that you can avoid the flakes and still bring in monster classes. Michigan seems to be doing the same, and as long as Notre Dame isn't swooping in on the guys they want they seem like they'll be able to maintain that over the long haul.
First one, then the other. I've been pining for Urban Meyer's shovel option for a while now. You know, this thing:
It seems like a natural fit for Michigan for multiple reasons: it's just power blocking, which Hoke loves. It forces the defensive end to either cheat down on the pitch or potentially let Denard outside. If Denard makes a bad decision the potential for disaster is low—either he is running around for a small loss (or gain!) because he kept or he's throwing an incomplete pass. The main issue is finding a tight end who can run it, but if Michigan's throwing Hopkins on the field as an H-back sort he's got the chops to make that a viable option.
Once you've got that in the book, you could add bells and whistles like a quick cover-two beater on the edge to give that corner a problem he can't fix:
Michigan did run some run-plus-short-pass concepts like this last year…
…so this might be something to keep an eye on as Borges tries to get the most use out of Denard's legs in year two. Borges loves to add new stuff on the regular; it's 50-50 we see something like the above in 2012.
Speaking of Borges. He talks with Howard Griffith:
Money quote: "I don't want to have an offense with a name" because then people start running clinics on how to defend it.
Unintended consequences. The NCAA's recent adjustment of kickoff rules smacks of a public relations effort to assure people concerned about concussions that football is also concerned. The net impact of slightly changing 2% of a football game is going to be statistically zero when it comes to long term health outcomes, but it says to the world that the NCAA is Doing Something, so it passes.
It won't do much. It might not do anything since the NCAA made a change that seems counterproductive to its goals: it's changed kickoff touchbacks to the 25. This is supposed to encourage returners to take a knee. Instead it may encourage kicking teams to not put it in the endzone.
Florida State has one of the best kickoff specialists in the country, Dustin Hopkins. Last year his 29 touchbacks were a victory. This year some back of the envelope calculations by Tomahawk Nation suggest the Seminoles' optimal strategy on kickoffs from the 35 will be this:
LET'S RECAP - If FSU does indeed ask Hopkins to kick it just a little higher and a little shorter, we can realistically expect him to average the ball around the 2-3 yard line with a hangtime of around 4.6 seconds. This is enough time that the majority of the coverage team will be inside the 25 yard line, with the faster players being somewhere around the 20. One can expect first contact to be made somewhere inside the 15 yard line on average. If the return man dances or does not immediately run full speed after the catch, it could be even worse. It may be a common occurrence for many returns to fail to exceed the 10 yard line. That is epic.
85% of TN readers think that's the way to go. The NCAA probably just made kicking for a touchback a mistake. There's a good chance these new rules go the way of the Hated Clock Rules from about five years back.
Two options: idiot or fabulist. Good lord, Phil Birnbaum points out that the Berri study-type substance on NFL quarterback draft positions…
- Uses a regression to determine "expected" draft position instead of using, you know, draft position.
- Their regression on expected performance does show a correlation between draft position and performance, but it's not statistically significant, so they use that to say "there is no relationship between draft position and performance."
- Tom Brady alone accounts for 14% of the plays from quarterbacks drafted from 150-250.
David Berri is the worst statistician on the planet.
BONUS OHIO STATE SCHOLARSHIP SIGN UPDATE! With Jordan Whiting's transfer to Louisville the only scholarship business major on the team is a kicker.
Etc.: Another rat is poised to jump off Dooley's sinking ship. He's their recruiting coordinator and would be the seventh assistant to leave this offseason if he takes an equivalent position at Nebraska. Michigan NFL combine recap. Molk says things, people take offense, Molk seethes, repeat.