Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
Hello and welcome to the second iteration of our new feature, where we ask the MGoStaff a question regarding whatever Michigan fans happen to be obsessing about. As before we appreciate any suggestions for future questions. Participation is at will since people occasionally have more important missions to attend to. The team:
Agent Brian Johnson: Team leader. Specialty: hair styling.
Agent Ace Johnson: Demolition expert
Agent Seth Johnson: Specialist in disguise
Agent Heiko Johnson: Deadliest man in the world with a knife. Also knows a zillion old jokes his grandfather, a vaudevillian, taught him.
Agent Mathlete Johnson: Master of Kung Fu
Agent Blue in South Johnson: Token redhead.
And this week's question:
How do you see the receiver group playing out this year? Where does Gallon fall among Big Ten/National guys, how much do you see the young guys contributing in '13, and what can we get out of seniors Dileo and Jackson?
BiSB: Before you answer this, Brian, check to make sure that Jehu Chesson isn't in the room.
Heiko: Don't worry I told him not to come this time.
Brian: There is no room, there is only Zuul. This is the internet, man, so we know that both Chesson and the NSA are all up in here. anthrax pants This useless discursion is over. terrorism sandwich
Gallon is going to be the best dang tiny receiver Michigan's ever had. He's shifty enough to attract screens, jumpy enough to bring in fades, and quick enough to get over the top of guys trying to rein in his YAC. It's a conundrum if Michigan puts him to the boundary side of the field consistently since most boundary guys aren't going to be able to keep up with him. I keep saying this, but extrapolate 5 games with Gardner against 4 pretty good pass efficiency defenses (and Iowa) and you get about 80 catches for about 1300 yards; he was already the #4 receiver in the league last year. That's probably a little optimistic, but he should crack 1000 yards and be All Big Ten in some capacity.
Past Gallon, it's about the redshirt freshmen. Darboh is the key. I like Chesson a lot but he needs one more year to pack on the muscle before he emerges. Darboh is ready now, and showed off his skill on the first play of spring practice. He should be a slant merchant, more of a possession threat. Ideally you'd like to wait another year on him, too, but it is what it is. Dileo will also be a useful piece; I want him to double his catches, because I don't think he dropped a pass last year and he has both a knack for crazy twisting catches and staying on his feet afterwards.
There is a slight lack of depth that I hope Funchess covers up for; other than that it should be a solid B+ unit. jihad bacon
Mathlete: If Gallon can put together a full season like he did in the Gardner starts at the end of last year. He should easily have a first team Big Ten caliber season and have an outside shot at some level of All American recognition. His five game averages would have been the second best receiving season at Michigan in the last decade (behind Braylon's Biletnikoff season). Whether that can continue remains to be seen, but at this point I think there is a high likelihood that Jeremy Gallon will slip into the Top 5 Career Receivers in Michigan history in both receptions and yards.
Beyond Gallon, Dileo is what he is. A dependable secondary receiver. The key question is whether anyone can step into a strong second spot. After 11 catches in three years, the evidence is against it being Jeremy Jackson. That leaves Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh as the most likely candidates. Assuming Gallons production holds up at all, solid production from either of those two would be enough to make Michigan's wide receivers a great group in 2013.
BiSB: We probably all agree that based on the last half of last year, the leading receiver will be OMG Rocket Boots Cloaking Device Don Criqui Soul Eating McShortguy. Thing is, he's going to make 95% of his catches either within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage or 30+ yards downfield; I believe Brian termed this "hitch, hitch, hitch, see ya." The key is going to be finding an intermediate guy other than Funchess, and I think Darboh is that guy, but that's based on almost nothing other than specs. He looks more physically ready than Chesson to take over the role, and I see Chesson as more of a deep threat.
Dileo will probably do the same thing as last year; he'll vanish for a while, and then he'll come up big with a billion catches in some gritty game where no one can find open space unless they're my height. He'll also probably have a good amount of success getting lost in the secondary when Gardner goes on one of his crazy adventures in the backfield. Jeremy Jackson seems destined to battle Joe Reynolds for the Carl Tabb Memorial Totally Unsurprising Running Play After Personnel Change Award winner. Either Dukes or York will probably burn a redshirt for no apparent reason, because that is protocol. And as a wild guess, I'm gonna predict that whether we see DaMario Jones will depend on what happens with Justice Hayes. If he wins the third-down back role, we may see the frosh, but if there aren't gonna be enough snaps for Hayes (given the embarrassment of running back riches), we may see him back up Dileo in the slot.
Ace: I'm on break from writing words so here's a GIF that fits the general tenor of this discussion:
Heiko: All I know is Borges is really excited about Darboh. Apparently Darboh got injured vs. Purdue last year (incidentally he was blocking on a bubble screen), so he wasn't able to show off his skillz the rest of the season.
BiSB: Bubble screens: weak-ass pansy Bieber-ball. Also WAY TOO DANGEROUS.
Brian: For what it's worth, I've heard that (former?) walk-on Joe Reynolds is a real option as an outside receiver. Last year he graduated from Designated Guy Who Tips Run plays to pick up a few targets on long handoffs and the like; this year I bet he is the third option as an outside receiver (ie, slot Dileo is the #3 overall). I know the coaches like his blocking, and he showed some quicks on those screens. He's not likely to get any first-option snaps with Gallon/Dileo/Darboh/Funchess filling hypothetical four-wide formations, but between him and a developing Chesson there's some depth. dirty cat bomb
Seth: The NSA agents want to know why everybody's overlooking Jeremy Jackson. As you've probably guessed, the NSA works for Fred. I guess we are a bit optimistic that the other guys have finally distanced themselves from him that we won't see that one pass a game going his way.
Last year Marty Couvillan from cfbstats posted a megaload of receiver data based on how often they were thrown at. Football Outsiders' Bill Connellly made it into an end stat called RYPR (Target Rate x Yards Per Target x Passing S&P+ x Pass Rate). In this measure Gallon in 2012 was 14th in the country and tops in the conference:
|Player||Targets||Catch Rate||RYPR||B1G Rank|
I've already made my bid for Gallon to wear the #1 jersey.
Since the middle of the offensive line is going to be really young this year it's unlikely Michigan will be able to get by mostly on its running game. There will be a lot more passes and three-or four-wide sets, and we're replacing not just Roundtree's underrated production but Gardner's. All told there's something between 150 and 200 targets to be given out after the returning starters repeat theirs, and while a chunk of them will go to Gallon, Darboh should get something like 75 passes thrown his way, and Chesson stands to get something like 50.
If those guys aren't bringing them in at a 50% clip or higher you'll start seeing Gallon's usage climb into Marquise Walker territory, and more frustrating balls going toward to too-covered Jackson. My prediction is Darboh becomes that Junior Hemingway we've been missing, and Funchess is split out to the slot and doubles his production from last year. Gallon will draw a lot of attention and a lot of balls, which will put him on top of the conference in the old stats but drop him back to 4th-ish in RYPR. I expect at least one of the incoming receivers to burn his redshirt but I'd really rather they not—Jones is the most ready but the least needed, and Dukes and York both are skinny leaping dudes who need to put on muscle. Whichever of those two can block better right now, I guess. Darboh eats up the passes that went to Roundtree and Gardner last year, with similar results. Chesson does some stuff that makes us get really excited for next year. And we head into 2014 predicting the group will look like Indiana's (that's a good thing). Anarchy echelon nuclear roswell Glock 26 Spetznaz hamburger
assasssi- asassinn- assassinna- kill a guy.
It's that aimless day in mid-June when the NCAA releases their latest batch of APRs, trumpeting the ever-increasing numbers without examining what that might mean too deeply.
If you remember other posts featuring the books and the birds, you may remember that massive attrition in the early days of Rich Rodriguez threatened to leave Michigan in the doghouse, but that a 984 last year had basically put Michigan in the clear. The new goal: wait for that transition-wracked 897 to drop off the Multiyear APR and make Ohio State take their stupid-ass sign down:
asshats ain't come to play DESCENDING SORT
With an 981 this year Michigan is well on their way. Their constituent bits of the 951 they posted:
- 2009: 897
- 2010: 942
- 2011: 984
- 2012: 981
If Michigan puts up a number similar to the last two years in the 2013 numbers they will jump to 972 next year and 980-something the year after. OSU put up a 970 this year, FWIW.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi.
|Wexford, PA – 6'4", 280|
5*, #27 overall
4*, #82 overall
4*, #101 overall
4*, #97 overall
Notre Dame, Florida, FSU, Miami, PSU, Stanford, MSU
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Father was Steelers' OL coach, now HC at UTEP. You guys.|
Junior highlights (he is the left tackle or a DT):
Offensive linemen are notoriously the hardest players to project. Enormous long-armed bodies might not be able to "bend" and end up at Western Michigan. 240-pound tight ends might balloon into the top pick in the NFL draft despite playing at Central Michigan. Relying on sleepers and development has been good enough to send Wisconsin to the last three Rose Bowls. Etc. There is no such thing as a sure thing on the offensive line.
But if there is, Patrick Kugler is it. Let us describe the ways:
- SIZE: at 6'4", 280-ish as a freshman Kugler will easily approach the 300-pound range that NFL centers usually are.
- PEDIGREE: his dad was the frigging Steelers' OL coach, and he was so good at that UTEP hired him to be their head coach. His older brother plays center at Purdue.
- TOUGHNESS: played through a torn labrum to participate in a high school all-star game.
- TECHNIQUE: no doubt because of his pedigree, folks say he was "easily the most technically sound offensive lineman" at said high school all star game in which he played despite having a torn labrum.
I mean. Seriously. You guys($).
Sam Webb: … if you’re a scout in the stands, and you’re watching Patrick Kugler on the field, what do you see?
Patrick Kugler: “I would just say mean. I mean, people who I go against don’t like me very much. I try to be the meanest guy out there. My dad taught me that. Just, if anything, be mean. I just try to be mean all the time, and if you’re pounding them into the ground, they just don’t want to get back up. That’s my goal.”
Sam Webb: Have you ever been on the field against someone and done something to them, and said ‘oh man, I feel bad about that’.
Patrick Kugler: “One time. This guy, he kicked me the play before, and I just grabbed him by the face mask and ripped it off, but I mean, I felt bad about that afterwards, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.”
You guys. His dad's advice:
Asked what words of wisdom his father has shared with him, Pat said: "Be nasty. Don't let up until you hear the whistle."
Pat paused and added more sage advice he's picked up having spent his whole life around football:
"Maybe give 'em a little after the whistle. Kill 'em, basically."
When he committed to Michigan and word came out that he was going to play center that made so much sense to me, and then as this season developed with its missed blocking assignment fiesta I craved the presence of Kugler on campus as quickly as possible.
I'm weird. I love David Molk almost as much as anyone to come through this program not named Denard. I'm weird, but I'm not wrong. In the NFL, centers who can do all the things that make your offense work with their brains are a fungible commodity. In college, they are a treasure. See also: Michigan's with-and-without-Molk YPCs in the Denard era. I'm not wrong. It is only barely hyperbole to call Patrick Kugler the most important recruit in this class.
As you might expect from the son of an offensive line coach, Kugler is an advanced technician and nasty dude. Virtually every scouting report will start off praising his technique and IQ. A sampler:
- Bob Lichtenfels, Scout: "Kugler is a technician and he is nasty. He finishes his blocks and always plays to the whistle. He has great feet and gets to the second level as well as anyone. Very dominant at the point of attack. … very cerebral and is rarely in bad position. Very good knee bend and deceptively athletic."
- Allen Trieu, Scout: "great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player … bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it."
- An opposing coach: “He looks like an NFL guy playing with middle-school kids … You know he's a coach's kid. You can just tell. He's got great technique. He gets off the ball so hard. He does not look like he should run as fast as he does. You see kids that big and they're slow and gawky. But he's got great, great feet. I think he's in a class by himself. He stands alone.”
- Anonymous Rivals evaluator: "comes off the ball strong with good blocking angles and shows very little hesitation before impact on the defender. He does a good job of lowering his 6-5 frame to get under the smaller high school opponents he faces. … shows that he likes to put defenders into the turf with violence."
Kugler is not only the son of an O-line coach, but also one tough dude. … not unreasonable to think he can't easily fill out into a 300-pound interior lineman. He is a physical and tenacious run blocker. He does need to watch his pad level at times, but is able to play with good leverage. He does a good job of getting placement with his hands and being able to control defenders. He can deliver a good initial pop, but looks to have much better drive once he is into a defender rather than initial explosion on contact. He is able to create and maintain push with sustained leg drive and looks to bury the defender every play. He displays a good understanding of combo blocks and good pull/trap ability. He moves well in space and can get a hat on active second level defenders. … mixes good ability and heady play with a tenacious style to get the job done.
A lot of these scouting evaluations expect these high school kids to be NFL-level players based on junior high school film, and that's never more true than it is for OL. That's a highly positive evaluation with some minor, obvious issues—"does need to watch his pad level at times" is something you could put in every OL evaluation ever without raising an eyebrow.
Meanwhile, Scout's profile has our favorite Area For Improvement:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Kugler plays both sides of the ball for North Allegheny. He has excellent quickness and feet. He has good flexibility and change of direction which is displayed when playing defensive tackle. Kugler has the athleticism and reach to play tackle with the mentality of an interior lineman. He gets good leverage and push on both sides of the ball. Finishes blocks and easily gets to the second level - Scott Kennedy
I assume that area for improvement is based on the idea Kugler would end up as a tackle, which some of the sites projected him to early. All eventually came around to the idea he would be an interior lineman.
Importantly for a guy projected to center, all of those evaluations emphasize Kugler's ability to get to the second level. If your center can pull—and Kugler will be able to—that opens up additional options in the run game, and if he's good at moving to the second level your inside zone game ramps up its effectiveness. It's a key attribute for a center, and not necessarily one I've seen mentioned much in evaluations of offensive linemen.
"Intensity" is another word that comes up frequently. Tim Sullivan:
Kugler showed outstanding stamina, athleticism and effort while playing both ways, just about the entire night for North Allegheny…. In the second half, Kugler played like a man possessed. His intensity greatly improved and he showed his leadership skills while pushing his teammates to put the game away. He was displayed very good technique and footwork while pass blocking and he showed a very good burst when he was run blocking. Although he is most comfortable when pass blocking, he gets to the second level extremely quickly and looks like he will develop into an excellent run blocker.
“Once the game starts, he changes to a different level of intensity,” Walker said of Kugler. “One of the reasons why he was so focused on schools in the B1G is that he loves to run block. He’s a physical kid, and he wants to put people in the ground. He’s a very aggressive blocker.”
A Brady Hoke kind of guy.
As mentioned, Kugler drew heaps of praise at the UnderArmor game, where he was the headiest, most advanced OL there:
…easily the most technically sound offensive lineman in attendance. He adapted well to different pass-rushing moves used against him, knew where to place his hands, and listening to him talk to other offensive linemen and the coaches nearby, his high football IQ was apparent.
He quickly adapted to both interior OL positions, earning a start at guard while simultaneously being named the best center around.
Patrick Kugler, Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny
The Michigan commitment has manned the toughest position on the line in the all-star setting better than anyone else. Taking into consideration that it’s fast paced, with new install, very little time for connectivity among a line and in a setting that most certainly favors defensive linemen, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder has been reactive, fundamentally sound and shown excellent lateral quickness.
I mean. You guys.
David Dawson- Dawson and Patrick Kugler might be the two best lineman overall on the white squad. … Patrick Kugler- Kugler was as good as advertised in the first day of practices. Kugler won the majority of his one on one reps and did a good job in the team periods. Kugler had outstanding technique and showed very good lateral quickness. Kugler had a mean streak and was able to move opposing defensive tackles in the run game.
Based on that performance and Kugler's all-around profile, 247 would name him (and David Dawson) to their All-America team, calling him the nation's top center.
Kugler is another opposite-of-character-issue guy what with his dad. (A pattern emerges.) His prep coach confirms:
“He’s a young man that loves the game,” Walker said of Kugler. “He loves to compete. He does a good job of getting himself prepared and taking on leadership responsibilities. He does all the little things off the field to prepare. He’s a student-athlete all the time. He does what he has to do in the classroom, and carries himself well. He’s a good kid to be around, he has the right kind of focus and he’s not taking anything for granted.”
I mean, Kugler told various sites he actively hopes to redshirt, something I have never ever seen. He backed off a hard stance either way a bit later, but the desire is clear:
"I have no idea if they want me to play next year, or not," Kugler stressed. "Personally, I'd love to redshirt and get that fifth year of education, but if the coaches need me to play that would be great. I'm a team guy first, so whatever they need from me is what I'll do."
Kugler further stated he hasn't even looked at the depth chart because "Michigan was the school I fell in love with, so that never mattered to me." As of January he was at 285, with a goal of arriving in the 295-300 range. (Area For Improvement: check.) He was also scheduled for surgery on his labrum. That must have slowed down his workouts, but with a four-month recovery timeline by the time he arrives on campus he will be full-go.
That depth chart is ripe with opportunity, with only Jack Miller and a couple of walk-ons currently competing at center. With the labrum injury and Glasgow showing he can be good depth for the interior spots, a redshirt is still in the cards. After that, it's going to be a war on the interior.
"I saw it in his face," Patsy said. "As a mom, you know your kid so well, and I could just see his face light up with emotion. I could see it starting to happen."
“I can't grow facial hair,” Kugler said with great disappointment. “It's bad. I've been growing it a month, and it's barely noticeable.”
People might be surprised to know that ...? Me and my brother used to play ping-pong the morning before every game. It would be intense ping-pong. We would wake up in the morning and play before school on game days. I don't know why, but we would play at 6:30 or 7 in the morning.
Kugler popped up in a "Spartan Sizzling Seven" at the start of last year's cycle as one of the most likely players to end up at State. That list: Riley Norman (MSU, but for track and field), Jon Reschke (check), Kyle Bosch, Steven Elmer, Patrick Kugler, Ethan Pocic, and Greg Webb. One of seven is… well, it ain't good. Kugler in particular twisted the knife, visiting State a half-dozen times, then hitting Michigan once and abruptly ending his recruitment a day before he was scheduled to go to East Lansing again.
Why David Baas? High school tackle at 6'4" who moved to the inside, starting at guard before moving to center, where he was an Outland finalist, Rimington winner, All-American, and second-round draft pick. Topped out at 310 pounds, which is well within Kugler's range, and was a highly-regarded recruit who hit some high school All-American lists.
Guru Reliability: A shade less than exacting. Healthy, high profile player, All Star game, consensus. They are projecting a position move.
Variance: Low-plus. Only the facts that this is an offensive lineman and that there is a slight position adjustment—albeit one almost every interior lineman makes—hold this down from plain ol' low.
Ceiling: High. It is tough for centers to work their way into the first round of the NFL draft because they're just less rare than 6'8" guys just as agile. He could be a Rimington contender, though.
General Excitement Level: Very high. You guys.
Projection: Nonzero chance he emerges into a starting job in year one. Likely? No. Would I even regard that as a bad sign? Well… yeah probably. But not as much of one as you might think. It would be lovely if they could get a redshirt on Kugler and have Miller in front of him for two more years and get a couple of upperclass years from an eminently prepared guy.
If that does happen, Miller is going to be pretty good. If Miller does stay in front of Kugler, Kugler will likely compete at the guard spot opposite Kalis as a redshirt freshman. That will either be vacant (if Ben Braden wins the job and moves to tackle) or held by Graham Glasgow.
That I can't project this guy to definitely start until he's a redshirt junior says something about the burgeoning depth on the offensive line. Some of these guys will wash out from injury or lack of ability; this is inevitable. But the guys who do work out are going to be high four-star potential sorts who have lived up to it, and the competition to emerge is going to be brutal. That's how you build a kick-ass line.
The new logos are here! The new logos are maize! The new logo's maize will have nothing to do with the color of the athletic uniforms! The logo:
Modification of this in any way is punishable by death. They also invented a new font for this, which is called "Steve." Steve the font.
Watch it before the
NSA T3Media finds you. 50 interceptions:
Entrance of the Lambs. Good news for the baseball team, as Jackson Lamb (P/Civil War general) has reportedly turned down a third-round offer from MLB and will matriculate this fall. Lamb eventually went in the 20th round to Texas, so unless Texas ends up with a ton of extra money by not signing their top picks—baseball got serious about their slotting regulations recently—Lamb will anchor Erik Bakich's first recruiting class.
Over the weekend, Lamb led his Bedford team to a regional title. I'll let Ryan Autullo take it from here:
In exhausting both his pitch count and a mouthy opposing lineup, Jackson Lamb lifted the Kicking Mules to a 3-1 regional semifinal win over Taylor Kennedy. …
Lamb encountered control issues for the second game in a row, walking six batters and wracking up a whopping 146 pitches — exactly twice as many as Kuhr’s 73. Nevertheless, he didn’t allow a run until the bottom of the seventh, at which time Bedford was in front 3-0. An antagonistic Kennedy dugout made a point early and often to try to rattle Michigan’s Gatorade player of the year, mocking Lamb’s failure to locate his fastball and breaking into vociferous chatter typically seen in softball.
Well, I never.
Three more recruits went late and shouldn't be a threat to sign, but junior Michael O'Neill (Yes That O'Neill) got drafted by the Yankees in the third and is probably out the door.
If you get in, you see this. Despite featuring lot of non-regulation Ms, this business tugged a heart string or two:
Bring a fan to orientation. Trust me.
This changes nothing. Indiana made the College World Series, marking the first time since Michigan did it that a Big Ten team has made it to Omaha. This is what a cell phone looked like back then:
on the left, probably
It was 1984.
Meanwhile it has been perfect baseball weather in Ann Arbor for much of the past month, and Fisher sits empty when it could be selling me hot dogs and giving the BTN something other than Bret Bielema fishing tips to televise. The history of NCAA baseball has been Southern teams flipping the northern bits of the country off, and since that's never going to change the Big Ten should just play their own game with 25 scholarships and wood bats. Cheese 'em off real good, that would.
I mean, they could use the money cannon for something cool for once.
Ana-what-now? Apparently Trey Burke's pending, minor draft fall is being driven by data-conscious NBA teams:
"Sources say a number of teams that rely heavily on analytics have Carter-Williams rated higher than Burke," Ford wrote. "While both players look good in the various analytical approaches teams employ, Carter-Williams is coming up at No. 1 and No. 2 overall on several teams' reports. For teams that value analytics, that's a big deal.
"Finally, teams are always looking for upside in the lottery. Carter-Williams has extraordinary size for his position. He is a terrific athlete. He sees the floor as well as any point guard in the draft. His weaknesses -- primarily his shaky jumper -- are the only thing holding him back from being a top-5 pick right now."
Those numbers must be pretty advanced to be able to rank Carter-Williams over Burke, who finished second in the kPOY rankings because he was a huge-usage, huge-assist-rate, low-TO, high-eFG guard. IE: he did everything you could do well. Carter-Williams didn't even finish in the top 500(!) in ORtg because there aren't any barns in upstate New York he hasn't flung a ball past, shooting 44%/29% despite putting up only 20% of Syracuse shots while he's on the court.
Can any defensive ability top that massive gap? I get the upside thing—if MCW learns to shoot he will probably be a better NBA player than Burke despite their college numbers—but isn't that a huge leap to make? How many rhetorical questions can I stuff in a single paragraph? Four?
Trey is just like well, like, that's your opinion, man.
Old school, and OLD SCHOOL. Dooley catches up with a guy who uses "aught-three" to mean 1903:
“My dad played football at [M.A.C.] in the class of aught three,” Drake told me. “It wasn’t intercollegiate football; it was class team football. They beat each other up without headgear on the banks of the Red Cedar.”
Yeah, he went to State, but he was in town over the weekend for the Fantasy Camp. Here's Gerald Drake meeting Hoke:
Okay, Bleacher Report, okay. Even though you still pop up an exhortation for me to subscribe to your newsletter on literally every misbegotten visit to your website, I will link you for this from Miami commit KC McDermott:
AK: What's the Urban Meyer story?
KM: The Urban Meyer thing was just funny to me. He came to my school a week after I told his assistant that I wasn't even interested in them. I told him no to his face, and it's got to be one of the top five reactions of someone ever. His facial expression was just so funny. My coach was tearing up and had to go in his office to laugh.
AK: Talk more about coach Meyer's face when you told him no. Was he mad, upset?
KM: More like the state of shock where the guy has literally never been told no in his life. It literally looked like a kid the first time you tell him 'no, you can't do something.' It looked like he was a baby about to cry. It was so funny.
If you find a recruit willing to describe Dantonio as "about as personable as a rock, and not a shiny rock you'd find in a river, but like, a boring rock, like some limestone or something" I will link you again, Bleacher Report.
Etc.: My mom would get along with Laura Hoke. The sad status quo for ND-M. Michigan is a dog versus both MSU and OSU early. What Johns Hopkins means for B10 lax. Hype video. Surprise: the Big Ten won't go DIII if O'Bannon wins. Goodbye, Denard.
Hey kids. Ace is off and I step into the recruiting roundup breach.
Guest columnist Adoree' Jackson
Verily, let us discourse on the fine gentlemen of the Michigan recruiting class. Nay, ask me not your questions. Rather I will ask you which of the gentlemen has the most beatific smile. The world is all topsy-turvy this day! Ha-HA!
–probably what Jackson is saying right here
CA CB Adoree' Jackson talks about his fresh top ten with College Level Athletes, and would we be reading too much into a random interview if we noted that Jackson seems to know almost as much about Michigan's recruiting class as the assembled lunatics here?
"It means something because you wanna build a class that you feel comfortable with. For me and the (Jabrill) Peppers situation, that's a corner that's similar to me and we could do a lot of the same things, and if you just look at that you've got confidence on the other side. Like I said, 'me and Jabrill on the field, that's a scary sight.' You don't really think of having two great corners on the same team… that's rare."
"(Wilton) Speight at the quarterback position, you want somebody who's good so when you're practicing they can go hard at you and you can compete. As for Drake (Harris) as a receiver, he's a great receiver, so you just want to compete with them everyday, day-in and day-out. That's going to be a decision for me, making sure we have a great quarterback and great receivers. I want to make sure the receivers are sound so we can all get better."
Jackson spends a lot more time talking Michigan than any of his other schools, and while I still suspect that track is going to pull him away from Ann Arbor I get the vibe that he really likes M. Dollars to donuts they at least get an official.
Sam Webb's News article this week covered a lot of ground, some of it about Jackson's recruitment:
“I don’t think he’s leaning anywhere. I think he's extremely open to leaving the West Coast because he's not a West Coast guy, and he'll openly say, ‘I’m not a West Coast guy.’ He kind of brags about it. It's almost like he wears that with a badge of courage, so I definitely think he's open. I think so much of Adoree’s recruitment is going to be determined by how they do on the field. The Serra connection he has kind of tells me that USC kind of has the inside track.
Uber-WR Marquise Lee is also from Serra. Biggins says he's "extremely open" to leaving the West Coast, but that the local schools are still in it. IE, ain't nobody know things.
Challenge leads to visits
Kalen Ballage uses myspace and has a dumbphone. Kalen Ballage is from 2005. He is also a SWAG ANIMAL, of course. Kalen Ballage is an important recruit to get even if he is from 2005.
The Rivals Five-Star Challenge was held in Chicago over the weekend, which provided a couple of distant prospects the opportunity to check out the Midwest. CO RB Kalen Ballage told Rivals he'd visit Michigan on Thursday (and Michigan State afterwards, but lol). Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska, Washington, and Vandy are also involved.
AZ WR Jalen Brown is stopping by Tuesday as part of a Midwest swing that encompasses OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin. Brown wants to cut things down after that an a visit to some southern schools and pick pretty quickly after that.
CA WR/S JuJu "John" Smith was a guy who expressed interest in the Midwest early and has since dropped off the radar. Why? Dunno, as Smith told Rivals's West Coast guy that leaving the state remains a strong possibility:
The four-star safety said during registration day … that some of the major programs in the Big Ten appeal to him, among others.
When you mention Wisconsin, you are seriously serious about exiting. Smith mentioned he was "especially serious"—author's words—about Michigan and OSU. So that's good, but it's an uphill battle if USC decides to get involved:
“He grew up an SC fan. I talked to (another recruit’s) dad after they were at the USC-UCLA game last year, which was at UCLA. He said JuJu was openly cheering like you would not believe for SC the entire game -- in the UCLA student section."
That would be a first: a USC fan that gives a crap about cheering for USC.
On the other hand, USC isn't after him that hard right now and amongst non-USC options it sounds like Michigan is a strong contender, possibly the strongest:
I think [USC's lack of pursuit] made it more open. I think he is open to leaving. He loves Michigan, he likes Notre Dame a little bit, and UCLA has done well with him.
The 247 Crystal Ball is split about evenly between ND, UCLA, and USC, FWIW. IE: ain't nobody know.
And in "really lol wut" news, LA RB Leonard Fournette wants to visit Michigan!
"What I'm looking for is academics first," he said. "People-wise, I love great personalities. That's it. That's what I like about Michigan."
Has Fournette planned a trip to Ann Arbor?
"No, not yet," he replied. "I would like to take a visit up there. It would be during the fall, for an official visit."
I'm just… naw. Naw man, naw. We'll see if that gets scheduled before we move Fournette from total pipe dream to "so you're saying there's a chance." I'm leaving him in the pipe dream category at the moment.
In non-Challenge-related visit news, according to TomVH($) IL OL Jamarco Jones has planned his final visits: M Saturday, MSU Sunday, OSU Monday. Notre Dame appears to be out. The M Block reports that NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman is trying to decide between Michigan and Vandy for a visit this weekend
McDowell admits a leader sorta kinda probably
That's a really good disguise, Adoree', but I see right through it. Five stars have x-ray vision, which you know because you, too, are a five-star. See into my heart. Yes. It is a regulation block M the right color and everything. I can give you the hex codes.
-probably what Malik is saying right there
Five-star MI DT Malik McDowell weighed in at 6'6", 306 at the Challenge, which like whoah. Tim Sullivan described him as a "grown-ass man," so he'll pump in a hat trick against a Caribbean team sometime soon. Woo deep-cut Eddie Johnson references!
McDowell's been keeping things close to the vest after some early indications he wanted to commit to Michigan, but he finally came out and said he probably might have a kinda sorta leader($):
He confirmed all four were still high on his list, though one was the current team to beat.
"It's Michigan, probably … that's home," McDowell said. "They are kind of normal … they hang out at regular places. You think they would be all uppity, but they are down-to-earth."
Thanks, I think?
McDowell has tentative plans to visit FSU, UF, and USC. Probably. A decision doesn't seem to be coming in the near future.
OH LB Noah Furbush made a return trip to Michigan's campus last week, a sign of serious-serious interest that combines with Furbush's offer list—MSU, Mizzou, Northwestern, Tennessee, etc.—to suggest Michigan is in the driver's seat with him. Unless Northwestern gets all up in there, I guess.
Allen Trieu caught up with Furbush, who also recently hit up Purdue, and he had some weird things to say about his recruitment, specifically where colleges are projecting him($):
[At] Purdue, it's more of an outside linebacker. At Michigan, it's more of an inside linebacker. In our defense, we do a package where I line up to the inside a little bit, so I've experienced it a little bit."
I would be shocked to see Michigan sporting a 6'4" MLB. Either Furbush is a bit shorter than that and won't end up in that 250-260 range or he shouldn't be a generic three star. Or he's a SAM/WDE. Those are our options.
Trieu asked flat out whether Chase Winovich's commitment affected Michigan's pursuit of him and Furbush said he still had a spot. While Michigan's in on a couple more remote kids who are higher-rated*, I'd peg Furbush as the third LB in this class all. He would provide some drama in the MGoBlog Sleeper Of The Year competition, which is currently between Moe Ways and… Moe Ways because no one else meets the criteria. Hoke uber alles.
The distant future the year 2000 (and fifteen)
FUTURE'S SO BRIGHHHHHHT I GIVE IT SIX SWAG MATTISONS
Yeah, we're talking about it. Michigan's camp is coming up soon, and these days that's an opportunity for juniors and sophomores to draw notice. A number of guys will come in looking for offers, and there's a nonzero chance Michigan picks up its first 2015 commit at the camp. I mean, KY RB Damien Harris is just itching to drop.
June 16th can't come soon enough. I'm ready to be in Ann Arbor!! #Hail
— Damien Harris (@Damien_D1Harris) June 5, 2013
247's Clint Brewster has five more 2015 campers to keep an eye on for possible offers:
- VA CB/WR Garrett Taylor—Big time prospect with Stanford offer amongst others that aren't like whoah academics.
- GA OL Chuma Edoga—half dozen good Southern offers already.
- OH LB Justin Hilliard—brother of recent Hawkeye RB commit CJ, which might give the Hawkeyes a leg up except CJ is an Iowa running back and will be having a hand grafted onto his knee so he can keep playing at UW-Whitewater in two weeks. Looking like a big time prospect.
- OH S Tyree Kinnel—a strong lean if offered; would be a guy Ace and I would add to our Crystal Ball if he picks up an M offer. Just Ark/UK offer at the moment.
- MI LB/S Tyriq Thompson—son of Clarence.
Cleveland-area running back Andrew Dowell is also planning on attending($) after an impressive NFTC performance. He missed most of his sophomore year and is thus a little under the radar. Dowell has a twin brother David, a wideout.
We've already got five guys ticketed to M in what should be a small class, so as early as next week we could have a rough outline for what half of the Team 136 class looks like.
Elsewhere in 2015 guys, six-foot-eight PA OL Sterling Jenkins has emerged into a primo left tackle prospect in the 2015 class. He picked up a Michigan offer recently, competed in Chicago—an indicator he will be a top 100 prospect at the very least next year—and it sounds like he'll be a Midwest fight($):
"I plan to go to Ohio State and Penn State, then Michigan," he said. "Ohio State for the 19th [of June], Penn State the 26th, and Michigan around the end of July for their barbecue."
Jenkins isn't quite sure what the difference is between an unofficial visit and an official one… he's a ways from a decision. I wish his last name was Archer.
CA DE Keisean Lucier-South, a Crable-sized defensive end at 6'6", 215, has some nice early offers (Texas, Miami, Tennessee) and grew up a Michigan fan($):
“The school that I really want an offer from is the University of Michigan. That’s one of my favorite schools since I was a little kid and I’d watch them all the time. They have some of the top talent out there and the way they treat football is insane, like the Big House, or the rivalry with Ohio State. That might be the best rivalry in sports. It’s amazing there and that’s what I like about Michigan.”
Lucier-South is just outside the top 100 in 247's extremely preliminary rankings.
Oh and there's Minkah Fitzpatrick, a NJ CB who seems to be on the verge of a Michigan offer.
Clarkson Camp Scouting
That Webb article also touches on Wilton Speight and Drake Harris, who went out to Steve Clarkson's "quarterback retreat" in San Diego. Biggins gives both guys good reviews. Speight:
When I watched him this year and saw the physical way he carried himself, the confidence that he carried was crazy. He was literally like a different person. Now he’s a very confident guy. He kind of carries himself with a certain swagger. Not arrogance, but definitely very confident in everything he does. He’s more decisive in his throws. … I definitely like the progression. He has made huge strides.
He exploded out of his cut, the ball was overthrown, he jumps up, grabs it, and you’re like, ‘Who the heck is that?!’ Everything about the guy, just the way he moves -- you’re either born like that, or you’re not. He’s so fluid in his movement, and it’s so natural, where he doesn’t fight anything. I love the size, and he’s going to put weight on. He’s just a super athletic kid. A lot of times with those athletic kids, they’re not going to be super polished or catch the ball well, but he’s already pretty advanced. He’s an instant impact guy.
Harris is one slot away from five stars, and while Scout has evidently changed their policy of giving everyone in the top 50 the fifth star they went up to 42 last year (Adam Breneman), which is considerably less stingy than some other sites. Harris should get there eventually. Speight sounds like he'll stick as a well-regarded three-star.
Happy trails to VA DT Andrew Brown, who named a top eight in Chicago that did not include M.
Here's a DaShawn Hand vs Damian Prince vine. FL WR Artavis Scott says he'll "definitely" visit Clemson, Michigan and OSU this summer($), plans an Army game decision. We'll see if it gets that far. NJ CB commit Jabrill Peppers wins the 100 and 200 in NJ.
The time has come for the annual offseason series in which I provide a semi-analytical preview of Michigan’s opponents. Because of the relatively late start, I don’t think I’ll get around to writing up every team. So for those of you interested in Central Michigan and Akron, here is a super condensed version:
- 2012: 7-6 overall, 4-4 MAC; beat Iowa.
- Offense: QB-by-committee as of spring; senior tailback is 1,000-yard rusher; top wideout averages 20 yards per, which is Hemingway-like. O-line lost primo tackle Eric Fisher to the draft.
- Defense: Injured d-line, solid linebackers, meh secondary.
- Kind of like: A stiff punching bag.
- vs. Michigan: Would be a good opportunity for M to practice running power with new RBs. If the coaches anticipate needing Shane Morris this season (hint: they probably do), his redshirt should be burned here.
- 2012: 1-11 overall, 0-8 MAC; saved UMass from winless season.
- Offense: Crap.
- Defense: Crap.
- Kind of like: Crap.
- vs. Michigan: Assuming Morris loses his redshirt against CMU, this should be treated like a second spring game, i.e. give the starters a series or two, then bring in the backups.
My tears are real. You're not.
I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking you’ve probably done something wrong if you’re coming off a 12-1 season and the only things people talk about are fake girlfriends, "poor academic judgement," and flighty defensive tackles. Not to mention those rumors about your head coach possibly ditching you to be with someone else at some point.
Well. Let me assure you that it’s not you. You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not your fault love letters are most effective when written in 140 characters or less. It’s not your fault you’re not allowed to “retweet” someone else’s homework. It’s not your fault Eddie Vanderdoes thinks @BruinBoobs is a way better follow than @NotreDameBoobs.
And speculation about Brian Kelly’s imminent departure to the NFL is just hurtful gossip perpetuated by rumormongers who think that anything they say on the internet can be deleted before they get in trouble.
You see, a pattern emerges: Twitter is sabotaging your way of life en route to bringing down Western society.
Damn it all to hell.
Notre Dame’s 12-1 season was made possible by luck, good defense, a positive turnover margin, and absurdly bad refereeing. They lost to Alabama at the end of the season because, incidentally, they didn’t have any of those things.
Conventional wisdom says that Notre Dame can’t replicate that level of success this year because the things within their control won't be any better, and the things outside of their control will most likely be worse.
The defense will be great once again, but when you were No. 2 in the nation in points allowed there’s not a whole lot of room for improvement. Offensively, the Irish under Kelly have never been anything special. With question marks at nearly every position -- including QB now that Golson has been suspended -- it’s hard to see them doing much better in terms of yardage, and it’s even harder to see them hang on to that low turnover rate.
The schedule is relatively similar to the one they had last year. They host Michigan State, USC, and Oklahoma, and significant road opponents include Michigan, Pitt, and Stanford. As college schedules go, that's pretty rough, and they don't get any real body-bag games to take a breather.
Their defense will keep them in every game they play. Their offense will need a lot of luck, however, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like they used up the entirety of their five-year allowance last season.
This potato is really hot.
Golson is out. That leaves Rees, Hendrix, and incoming freshman Malik Zaire to jockey for the starting spot. Reports indicate that Rees has won the job already, which makes sense, but a lot can happen between now and September.
Rees, in case you've forgotten (how dare you!), is the prolific passer who started two years ago in Under the Lights. In fact he was so prolific he outshined Denard in the “throwing to the other team” category. I guess it's kind of his thing -- his first career pass against Michigan was a flea flicker interception to Jonas Mouton.
On the other hand, he scored the only touchdown of last year’s game against the Wolverines on a QB run, of all things.
If Rees starts, Michigan’s secondary will get a stiff but manageable early season test. Stiff because all things considered Rees is pretty decent. Manageable because the matchup nightmares that Notre Dame usually seems to have -- Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, Tyler Eifert -- are no more. Davaris Daniels (31 rec, 490 yards, 15.8 ypc) is the only potential weapon they have. We don’t know much about him because he wasn’t given too many opportunities last year. That’ll change with Rees at QB, and then we’ll see whether he’ll blow up like Jeremy Gallon or get beaned in the helmet like any Michigan State receiver not named Aaron Burbridge.
Formationally we’ll probably see a lot of shotgun and one-back with receivers spread all over the field. When Rees started in 2011, the run-pass split was slightly in favor of pass (33:36 attempts per game), but that was with guys like Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray. Expect that ratio to be biased more towards pass this year; I don’t think they can afford otherwise.
That's because the Irish run game will be thin. The starting O-line is solid, returning both tackles and a guard, but their depth beyond that is as dire as last year’s Michigan line. Any injury could spell the end of positive yardage on the ground, especially considering that there is really only one experienced running back on the roster, George Atkinson III (51 carries, 361 yards, 7.1 ypc, 5 TDs). No one seems to know whether he’s durable enough to last more than 10-15 carries a game. He could be 2011 Toussaint, or he could be a 2012 Toussaint. Either way, he's their only guy as of now.
At least having a competent and somewhat experienced pocket passer plays to Kelly’s strengths as a playcaller, so Notre Dame should be fun to watch regardless. Drives will end quickly and spectacularly, and Kelly will have plenty of opportunity to practice his Grimace impersonation.
What would an Irish defense be without Tragic Hero/Victim Manti Te’O? A lot less annoying/entertaining to hear about, and still very good. Expect to see them hanging out in opponent backfields on a regular basis.
Notre Dame defensive cordinator Bob Diaco runs a 3-4, which looks a lot like Greg Mattison’s 4-3 under but with slightly different names and concepts. The nose tackle in the 3-4 lines up directly over the center and is a monument to the law of inertia. The defensive ends are a lot like Michigan’s 5-tech and 3-tech; OLBs are like SAM and WDE; ILBs are like Morgan and Ross.
Responsibilities are interchangeable between a lot of positions because the front seven is built for a variety of zone blitzes. The secondary is the same.
So who should we worry about? All of the defensive linemen, to start. There’s DE Stephon Tuitt -- you know, shredder facemask -- who is a 6-6, 300-lb monster who had 12 sacks last season. There’s 6-3, 340 lb DT Louis Nix who has orbiting satellites. And there’s DE Sheldon Day who is kind of like Brandon Graham. Five offensive linemen are probably not enough to block these guys.
Then you kind of have to deal with the linebackers, a unit that returns everyone but Te’O. OLB Prince Shembo (51 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 7.5 sacks) is the guy to watch out for, but no one is really a slouch. Most of them are seniors. Most of them are very good. This is depressing to write about.
The secondary is really the only group with exploitable potential. Last year they were a freshman, a converted running back, and a converted receiver; this year they will be a sophomore, a converted running back, and a converted receiver. They held up just fine in 2012, however -- few opposing QBs had much time to do much of anything before eating turf -- and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to shore up the coverage thing should the front seven fail to generate pressure, if ever.
This team is kind of like: Roger Federer after a strenuous biceps work-out. Wimpy forehand, wicked backhand.
Vs. Michigan: One thing Michigan failed to do last year was sufficiently test the fragile Irish secondary. The Wolverines are much better equipped to do that this year, with the only problem being that secondary will probably be a lot less fragile. Still, it’s probably better than running into 300-pound defensive ends, am I right?
The way the two teams match up against each other gives every indication that this will be a very low scoring game, but crazy things tend to happen under the lights.
- Wins: Temple, @Purdue, Arizona State, @Air Force, Navy, @Pittsburgh, BYU
- Tossups: @Michigan, Michigan State, USC, Oklahoma, @Stanford