it's a major award
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, TE AJ Williams, TE Devin Funchess, and WR Jehu Chesson.
|Des Moines, IA – 6'2", 220|
|Scout||4*, #32 WR, #205 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #30 WR, #215 overall, #1 IA|
|ESPN||3*, #82 WR, #1 IA|
|24/7||4*, #26 WR, #199 overall, #1 IA|
|Other Suitors||Florida, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Okie State|
|YMRMFSPA||Aw, hell, Jason Avant|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Born in Sierra Leone.|
Amara Darboh is prime Rinaldi tear-jerkin' steak #2, a refugee who landed in Iowa and grew into a college-level wide receiver. He comes to Michigan with more recruiting hype, muscle, and sweet offers than Chesson, but lacks the lanky leaping ability that could turn Chesson into a premiere downfield threat if Michigan gets lucky. Darboh is less of a wildcard… but that doesn't mean he can't be a high quality option.
Here again we have some conflicting opinions. Unusually, it's his high school coach who's saying the things that are not rapturous($):
"He runs 4.42 but I wouldn't say that he's a burner by any stretch of the imagination," said Wilson. "He's a reliable guy that can make the tough catches for you. … he's a bigger physical presence. He's not a make you miss kinda guy."
That a kid can run a low 4.4 according to his coach and get called "not a burner by any stretch of the imagination" by his coach shows you the tao of FAKE 40 times. On the high school level these guys usually are burners, and coaches call 'em that, and call 'em that even if they aren't burners. Allen Trieu is also in the anti-Trogdor camp, or is he?
Body Control / Elusiveness with Catch / Hands and Concentration
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Above average size and speed ratio. Maybe not a burner, but has solid deep speed. Excellent hands, ball skills, and ability to go up and get the ball in traffic. He tracks the ball well and has good body control. After the catch he has good ability and is a pretty strong kid that can break tackles in the open field.
Speed is a negative, deep speed is "solid." Searching for negatives is a good sign, or just a confusing one.
A couple of other recruiting guys give the impression that Darboh could be one of those weapon things. Irish Illustrated's Tim Prister got hyped($) after ND's extremely early($)—like October of his junior year early—offer:
Excellent size and length help accentuate his deer-like athleticism with the football in the air. Shows nice balance maintaining his feet and running after catches for which he leaves the ground to make. Very fast - probably in the low-to-mid 4.4s - with an effortless running motion. Shows a consistent ability to run away from the crowd in pursuit.
We seem to be in disagreement about whether 4.4 is fast (hell yes unless you're hand timing Denard to run 3.8).
And Rivals's Josh Helmholdt provides the most singularly useless comparison ever($)
I loved Darboh's highlight film the first time I saw it. He is big, he is fast and he is a playmaker. Unfortunately film is the only thing I have seen on Darboh. …
Who does he remind me of? I'll go with a poorer man's version of Fred Rouse circa 2005. Both good-sized receivers with that wiggle to turn a screen pass into a big gainer. Let's hope Darboh has a better head on his shoulders.
Rouse was a five star who flamed out before ever seeing the field, so exactly no one has any idea what that's supposed to mean. But it's good, right? Five star.
247's Clint Brewster says "burner for his size," FWIW
Darboh shows exceptional speed as a bigger receiver and has another gear once he gets free from a defensive back. Quickness is another aspect that separates Darboh from his competition, as he consistently picks up big gains from short screens or pass patterns. Darboh shows excellent strength and athleticism by breaking tackles from smaller corners and staying up-right.
ESPN is also a little uncertain about whether he's a possession guy or something more, calling him "part playmaker and part possession player($)"
…combination of strength and quickness as a big receiver with a sturdy build, long arms and nice height… will be at his best working against zone and soft-man coverage. Is adept at finding soft spots in zone and creating passing windows for his quarterback when working out of the slot. Not afraid to go over the middle and will make the tough catch in traffic. …does an excellent job of adjusting to the poorly thrown ball …Has some wiggle in the open field …real upside as a red area target on slants and fades as he knows how to position himself and use his size. We are somewhat concerned about Darboh's top end speed.
They also knock his route-running skills; Brewster did the same. That flaw is easily explainable. According to his coach he came to his high school program a blank slate:
“He was very raw,” Wilson said. “He could run and catch the ball, but he didn’t know anything about running routes or blocking. He had little knowledge of football. We got the chance to teach him from ground zero, and that might have worked to our benefit.”
It certainly benefited Darboh.
“He didn’t have any habits,” Wilson continued. “He was like a sponge. He would take in everything and he wanted to learn and become better. He never shied away from the work.”
Darboh was focused on soccer until high school, FWIW.
Like Chesson, Darboh comes to Michigan with a horde of people chasing after him saying great things about his work ethic, character, and academics, and thus seems like a good bet to stick and a good bet to become whatever his potential will allow him to be. Like Chesson, Darboh picked up football late and has some work to do before he has the little things positions coaches obsess over. Also: refugee.
Unlike Chesson, Darboh is approximately the size the coaches want him to be already, which will ease his glide path onto the field. Both guys will be primarily outside receivers, with Chesson more likely to end up on the backside of a play running those one-on-one cuts that Junior Hemingway went deep on this year. Darboh will be the guy running square-ins under him, for the most part.
“I think he’s a passionate kid that’s working to become the best he can be,” Wilson said. “I think he’s willing to push himself. I know the coaches are going to push to make Amara the best player he can be, and the best person he can be. Amara takes a lot of pride in what he does, and I know he’s not going to settle in doing anything less than his best.”
As a senior Darboh brought in 48 passes for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns in just seven games (a dislocated shoulder cost him four), which is high-quality production, albeit against Iowa competition.
Why Jason Avant? I know, I know: I drag out the Jason Avant comparison and nobody ever ends up much like him. It is impossible to project those hands onto anyone else. But Amara Darboh is a bulky four-star type with good not great speed and a reputation for going over the middle. He is not regarded as the ultimate jump ball artist, he is well-regarded despite that, and he seems to have the sort of A+ character that Avant had.
It's either Avant or Greg Mathews, but it's hard to know how well Mathews would have done if he had real quarterbacks. His coach has another suggestion:
"He's a big, physical player," Dowling coach Tom Wilson said of his 6-2, 200-pounder. "I've seen him compared to Roddy White of the Falcons — a bigger guy that can run very well."
Roddy White's actually a couple inches shorter than Darboh and smaller as an NFL player, FWIW. Another comparison that seems plausible: recently departed Iowa WR Marvin McNutt, a 6'3", 220 pound guy who was killer on slants, generally unjammable, and a bit of a late bloomer after coming to Iowa at QB.
Guru Reliability: Moderate-plus. They're all in agreement except for ESPN's off-the-wall GTFO that I don't care about because this is the geographical area ESPN couldn't give two craps about. OTOH, no camps, it appears, and no All Star appearance, plus an injury his senior year.
Variance: Low-plus. Already college-sized, character is sterling. Does need to learn the craft; seems like the kind of kid where that's just a matter of time.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. "Not a burner," but looks like a high quality #2 in an ideal situation.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. If I could guarantee those Avant hands it would be MASSIVE, but those have proven elusive.
Projection: Getting some early practice buzz and likely to play with the uncertain state of the WR corps. Sounds like he'll have to work his way into the lineup with better routes and blocking, but has a reasonable shot at displacing second-string guys for playing time at midseason.
In 2013 will fight with Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller for the move-the-chains spot. I don't think Miller will be much of a threat given his interlude at TE, and Darboh has a huge advantage in athleticism. I'd give him the edge.
Several weeks ago Brian sent me an e-mail to say we're going to have a fantasy draft of Big Ten players called "The Draft Where Whoever Picks Denard Wins," and that I was on the clock. (Parts II, III, and IV)
People of the Earth: this is how you recruit for a fantasy league. Actually this is how if you're a college sports site editor you motivate your hypercompetitive (Michigan grads, remember?) staff to become insane experts on the rest of the conference right before football season begins. For that reason, despite quarterbacks chosen out of position and so so much snark, right now we feel as competent as anyone at putting out one of those All-Such-and-Such list things.
The draft is still going on and some of the picks we've made have yet to be revealed, however we have tagged enough positions at this point to post an official-ish pre-season All Big Ten team. There's a few specialists I'll include but won't reveal who drafted them. I'll also follow up either next week or later on this week with a "what we learned about the Big Ten" post that breaks down all the picks by team. This one's about the best by position.
Site note: We're bringing back jumps again so we can fit more content on the front page for you during the season. You see the "Read more" thing below this? CLICK THAT to get to the good stuff.
News bullets and other important things:
- Elliott Mealer would start at left guard if there were a game tomorrow. He plays faster, has better technique, and has more confidence.
- Pipkins was hurt during one-on-one drill. He is now fine and practicing in full pads.
- Justice Hayes is getting more reps. Hoke is hoping to develop him more.
- Roundtree is recovering well. Was in pads and running yesterday.
- Will Campbell is practicing at the 3-tech DT position. Richard Ash, Quinton Washington, and Ondre Pipkins are practicing at the nose.
- Team will be practicing at Ford Field today to simulate playing in an indoor stadium.
“Is everybody ready? Yeah? Good. Ahem. This is our 19th practice today [ED-S: He means of the fall camp, Mr. Rosenberg]. I think you can tell it’s the 19th practice in some good ways and in some ways that -- they’re starting to get tired of punching each other, hitting each other, you know, those things that go along with preparing for football. That’s the good thing about it. I think we’re making some progresson a daily practice when you look at where we’re at as a football team, where we’re at with trying to bring some guys who haven’t played much football at Michigan. We’ve got that in the defensive front, a little bit on the offensive front who haven’t played in games, really. So that’s coming along. It’s a little bit of a process to make sure that we’re getting all we can out of them without going over the edge. I think we’re making progress. I like how they’ve come to work every day. I’m happy, somewhat, where we’re at.”
[After THE JUMP, the questions.]
ANN ARBOR-- The fashion world is abuzz with enthusiasm after images of the 2012 Fall MGoShirt line were leaked last night. Less than twenty four hours after MGoBlog member and reported WikiLeaks contributor JeepinBen* published the images, UGP and designer Six Zero are proud to unveil the offerings with this official press release.
Without further ado, then, please welcome the MGoShirt 2012 Fall Collection (To get a closer look, or to order a shirt, please click on the corresponding image):
A bold and stylish ode to culinary delight, this tee celebrates the hunger we all feel as the season draws nearer... and the feast we shall all enjoy starting September 1st. Available in S-3XL.
The Flow, Brunettes, and more after THE JUMP!
The new Yost. Photos from inside the barn during its renovation:
The visual effect of those windows won't be as huge since games are invariably played after the sun goes down. It should be interesting all the same. Where do the NCAA/GLI banners go now?
(Via United States of Hockey)
Pipkins back on the field. The scare was only that. I have a good source who says it was just a stinger.
More Mealer. The Daily revisits Brock Mealer's ongoing recovery, finding this sign provided by Tom at Barwis Methods:
He's getting married. Article is a dust factory, be warned.
You guys should put together a banner. ND's secondary is verging on Never Forget territory with yesterday's news that projected starting quarterback Lo Wood* was lost for the season with an achilles injury. This leaves Notre Dame with two players on their roster who were recruited at CB. They've got a few more converted types.
The Irish Illustrated guys believe they won't move starting safety Jamoris Slaughter($) and will probably turn to true freshman KeiVarae Russell, a 3.5 star player who most sites ranked as a tailback (but did think he could play corner). Slaughter moves down to the nickel for them, FWIW.
*[Who you may remember as the nadir of Michigan's recruiting success against the Irish; Wood maintained Michigan as his leader for months before committing to Charlie Weis and Corwin Brown in June of 2009.]
Extra crispy? The Bylaw Blog thinks Oregon will get hammered by the NCAA for a blatant violation of the NCAA's prohibition against "impermissible scouting services" since Penn State means new era and the rest of the membership isn't afraid of getting nailed on vague technicalities since the NCAA now has a clearinghouse for permissible services. Intent is not relevant here:
What it means for Oregon is that even if the NCAA never proves that Oregon’s coaching staff intended the purchase of Lyles’ recruiting service to get them access to prospects or had much contact with Lyles, the school could still face severe penalties. All the enforcement staff might need to prove is that Oregon paid for a recruiting service that did not meet the requirements. The fact that prospects connected to the owner of the recruiting service enrolled at Oregon would be an aggravating factor.
Legally, the case sets up poorly for Oregon. Politically, the case sets up even worse. Oregon’s alleged violation can easily be cast as something most people want to stop: paying off a third party in order to secure a recruit’s enrollment.
I'm not hopeful but Infante knows this material a lot better than I do.
Adorable moppet is probably a part of a gang that smokes pipes and plots the overthrow of Kaiser Wilhem. State of Oklahoma, what is up?
Young Cooper Barton wore his favorite Michigan shirt to Wilson Elementary in Oklahoma City and was told it violated the Oklahoma City Public Schools dress code and was asked to turn the shirt inside out. According to the dress code, students are only allowed to wear Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or apparel from another Oklahoma-state school. …
"They should really worry about academics. It wasn't offensive. He's five," Cooper's mother Shannon Barton told News9.com. …
According to the television station, the dress code was created in 2005 as part of a way to rid schools of gangs and gang apparel.
Sounds like someone high up in the food chain of the Oklahoma City school system has a burr up his butt about Texas. Or this five-year-old passes for witheringly intimidating in Oklahoma.
Life imitates terrible jokes. Ace told you that camp sleeper commit Channing Stribling is "blowing up," as the kids say, after a strong two-way performance in his opening game of the season. But Tom just posted an article at Wolverine Nation($) that contains.. well:
“I see more Ohio State fans in my area than anything,” he said. “My pizza man came by and saw I had my Michigan shirt on and he said he was an Ohio State fan and yelled, ‘Go Buckeyes!’ ”
I don't even to know how to add anything here.
Etc.: STUFFING THE PASSER. Gasaway has an insider article on ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent NC State($). The Daily breaks down the hockey roster. I am extremely dubious of Guptill anywhere but the top line, but otherwise solid. Smart Football on packaged run/pass concepts. The NCAA is considering radically altering the structure of football staffs by allowing non-coaches to find and contact players. I'm not the only person who doesn't like Dave Brandon's vision for the AD.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the updated Rivals100 and Rivals250, the latest on Derrick Green and Leon McQuay III, Channing Stribling's first game of the season, and a creepily overzealous UGA fan.
Shane Morris Up, Everybody Else Down, Basically
The Rivals100 and Rivals250 were updated this week, and the big news is that Shane Morris has been bumped up to a five-star and the #17 overall player in the country. The rest of the changes weren't as positive for Michigan, however, as every other commit who was previously in the Rivals250 dropped save for David Dawson. Here's the whole list of commits:
- QB Shane Morris up to #17 (previously #22)
- DT Henry Poggi down to #58 (#52)
- LB Mike McCray down to #81 (#55)
- OL Patrick Kugler down to #88 (#73)
- OL Kyle Bosch down to #92 (#77)
- S Dymonte Thomas down to #102 (#95)
- OL Chris Fox down to #112 (#57)
- TE Jake Butt down to #132 (#118)
- CB Jourdan Lewis down to #150 (#147)
- OL David Dawson up to #165 (#171)
- RB Wyatt Shallman down to #206 (#182)
- CB Ross Douglas down to #232 (#222)
- DE Taco Charlton debuts at #233
- OL Logan Tuley-Tillman down to #241 (#235)
- LB Ben Gedeon drops out of Rivals250 (#237)
Most of the drops were minor, a result of prospects making their way onto the list or moving up significantly as opposed to an actual drop in performance; this is the case for anyone who stayed within 15 or so spots of their last ranking. Mike McCray and Chris Fox had mixed reviews at The Opening and other camp appearances, which likely contributed to their respective falls.
As for prospects of interest, VA RB Derrick Green fell one spot to #13 overall, FL DB Leon McQuay III jumped to five stars and one place behind Morris overall, and WR Laquon Treadwell is the first four-star and top-ranked receiver at #23.
"Good Feeling" = Bad Sign?
VA RB Derrick Green visited Georgia and Auburn over the weekend; while Georgia isn't thought to be a contender, Auburn represents Michigan's stiffest competition, and rumors swirled after the visit that Green was strongly considering a commitment. Much like the last time that happened nothing came to fruition, though that doesn't mean the Tigers didn't make a big impression:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 21, 2012
Green told Farrell($) after the visit, "I got the same feeling I got the first time I was there, a really good feeling," and mentioned that Auburn and Tennessee will get official visits; he's already set up an official to Michigan for the Michigan State game. Green doesn't claim a leader at the moment and it appears that his decision will largely ride on how his official visits go; he doesn't give off the impression that he's made a decision. That said, there's a good chance Auburn holds an edge at the moment.
In more encouraging news, newly-minted five-star FL DB Leon McQuay III told Tremendous that he plans to make it to a Michigan game this fall, likely against Michigan State. While the Wolverines are still outside of his top three, they were at or near the top of his list before taking Ross Douglas; if the coaches convince McQuay that he's still a top priority I believe they still have a good shot of landing him.
As for McQuay's teammate, WR Alvin Bailey, he's officially eliminated Michigan after excluding them from his top five. This shouldn't affect McQuay, as Bailey appears ticketed for Florida or UCF; neither of those teams are serious contenders for McQuay.
While Laquon Treadwell is still the leader in the clubhouse for Michigan's final receiver spot, it's too early to rule out AZ WR Devon Allen, who told Scout's Dave Berk that the Wolverines are in the running for an official visit ($):
“It’s not really final yet, other than I have an official set up with Arkansas. But I’m writing down a few games like Texas, UCLA, Notre Dame and Michigan, some of the games they’re playing when I hope to have a free weekend. I’m not 100 percent sure on my high school football schedule so I’m working on that.”
There's some stiff competition there, though given the list it looks likely that Allen leaves the Southwest. As always, Michigan has a shot if they can get him on campus.
Happy trails go out to VA DE Wyatt Teller, who chose Virginia Tech over Virginia last week. He mentioned Michigan among his leaders a few times but always appeared destined to stay in-state.
Channing Stribling Playing Well(-ing)
Stribling's interception, via his Instagram
When NC CB Channing Stribling committed to Michigan he was an unknown, unranked prospect who'd seemingly earned an offer on the basis of one strong camp performance. Many were concerned he didn't merit an offer over higher-ranked prospects like Delano Hill; if Stribling's first game of the season is any indication, those concerns will be dispelled quickly. ESPN's Kipp Adams led off his weekend impressions($) with the header "Wolverines pull off grand larceny":
He made several impressive plays Friday, opening the game by showing great leaping ability on an interception, making a shoestring catch on the sideline and sticking the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. With offers going out to underclassmen across the nation without colleges ever seeing them in person, the story of Stribling earning his offer by impressing the Wolverines staff at camp is refreshing.
In this humble writer’s opinion, Brady Hoke and his staff should be wearing ski masks when discussing Stribling on signing day, as they have stolen a gem from the Tar Heel State.
Scout's Chad Simmons named Stribling his top performer of the weekend($), an impressive feat considering he played alongside four-star WR Uriah LeMay and matched up against Mallard Creek's four-star WR Marquez North:
On the first play of the game Stribling went up on a pass that was underthrown and picked it off. That set the tone for this big game and Stribling continued to play at a high level for four quarters.
His play will reflect on Scout when we update his ranking later this week. Look for this Michigan commitment to make a move in the position rankings and to add a star.
He has great length, he plays the ball well, and he has the body to really add significant weight. His best football is ahead of him.
Stribling is only a two-star on Scout at the moment so that bump doesn't get him into four-star territory, though with a few more games like that against top competition he could make a push for that distinction. Tremendous caught up with Stribling to talk about his performance and he largely credited what he learned from Michigan's camp:
Improvements: "One thing I learned at the Michigan camp that was huge for me last night was switching up my stance. I was able to watch the quarterback while covering the receiver last night because I kept myself square with the quarterback off the line of scrimmage. While I'm turning and running with my receiver and I can see where the quarterback is looking. It's something I had never really done before to be honest. It changes my entire outlook because it allows me to play the run a lot quicker as well and I made a couple big hits early".
You can see video of Stribling making a couple of catches, laying a big hit at the line, and, er, not being involved in a play at his Hudl page.
None of Michigan's other commits played official games last weekend, though OH CB Gareon Conley had a touchdown catch and a one-handed grab in Massillon's scrimmage against South.
Your Moment Of Zen
If I told you a college football fan called a recruit's cellphone to ask him about decommitment rumors, would you believe me if I also mentioned said fan is from the SEC? Of course you would.
Last Thursday, [Georgia commit Steven] Nelson was contacted by a person who wanted to know if he had indeed switched his commitment from UGA to Texas Tech. They talked for about 5-10 minutes.
“I get phone calls almost every day from college recruiters and reporters,” Nelson said. “He called me up, and I forgot what his name was. The way he was talking, I thought he was a reporter, so I stayed on the phone. He was just trying to convince me to stay with Georgia, told me how good of a player I was, and wished me a good year.”
A fan then took credit at Georgia's Rivals board, attempted to blackmail said Georgia site, then defended his actions by posting, "Why are you so conditioned to think you have to have a press pass to talk to an American citizen?" There are no words, only exasperated Bunk gifs.
Slick Segue, Ahoy
Speaking of illegal recruiting contact, the invaluable John Infante of the Bylaw Blog details a potentially game-changing NCAA rule proposal that would allow non-coaches to scout and contact recruits, something that happens all the time anyway but behind the scenes. This would ultimately result in programs largely recruiting through designated directors of player personnel (think the college equivalent of an NFL GM) and recruiting coordinators while moving the burden of recruiting away from coaches, according to Infante:
The potential model of recruiting that develops is very clear. A general manager/director of player personnel will have a staff of recruiting coordinators who do much of the early grunt work in recruiting. They’ll watch film, gauge interest, rank prospects, and evaluate needs. The coaching staff will go see top targets in person, invite prospects on visits, and go see recruits at home or at school. The player personnel staff and the coaching staff will then meet to make decisions and send offers.
That would free coaches from much of the busy work of recruiting and let them focus on coaching their current teams. Player personnel will become the major track for aspiring coaches as well as a career path in its own right. Recruits may see more sophisticated and intense recruiting from a dedicated staff.
Infante mentions the possibility of staff limits to keep this from becoming a recruiting staff arms race; I think limits would have to be in place to prevent recruits from being completely inundated by calls/texts/etc. from an army of recruiting specialists. I actually like the proposal, however; it would likely give the up-and-coming Trooper Taylors a more fitting job description, make things easier on coaches and compliance offices, and lend more transparency to the recruiting process.