chance of bowl: 13.6%
Kent State and Stony Brook celebrate CWS berths
The Big Ten's consistent rabble about college baseball's current format—a rabbling I also rabble rabble—looks a little less rabbly today now that not one but two Northern teams from who-dat conferences have made the College World Series: Kent State and Stony Brook. Kent State got a walk-off bloop single in game three to down Oregon; Stony Brook took out LSU.
Kent State won a regional featuring all-destroying Big Ten dual champ Purdue, taking out SEC #2 seed Kentucky twice along the way. Five of their six games have been one-run affairs of which they've won four. Baseball is very random—so random that it's remarkable a Big Ten team hasn't made it to the CWS on the strength of crazy bounces in the past 28 years.
Theory: the NCAA's introduction of "dead bats" in the past couple years has reduced scoring and made it more difficult for better teams to overwhelm their opponents by dumping home run after home run into the bleachers. Last year was the first year of the new bat regulations:
Auburn, which led the nation last season with 130 home runs, had hit just 32 as of May 8. Just up the road, Georgia Tech and its 122 home runs the year before have taken a nosedive down to 31.
On the whole, home runs have been cut nearly in half. Down 43.7 percent overall, the bandboxes that were making more noise than the House of Blues have fallen eerily silent. [ED: This article takes an odd, overwritten stance against bats that double as rocket launchers.]
The results are fewer games with ludicrous football scores and a lot more randomness in the national tournament. Maybe. Small sample size and all, but when bad pitches are 43.7 more likely to die in an outfielder's glove you get away with a lot more. College baseball is a lot less ruthless now.
If Michigan could get good at baseball again, maybe the national tournament would be less of an insurmountable hill to climb. About that…
You're looking at Michigan's vacant baseball job and these two teams in the CWS and wondering about poaching one of these dudes, KSU's Scott Stricklin (right) looks like a strong, strong candidate.
In eight years at Kent State he's won the MAC four times, won the MAC tourney five times, turned the Golden Flashes into the #3 overall seed last year, has reached two super-regionals and made the CWS this year. At 40 he'd be poised for a long run at Michigan. He came to KSU after a stint at an assistant at Georgia Tech, where he was the recruiting coordinator for a class ranked #1 by the relevant services. He's spent most of the last decade at a school in the same footprint as Michigan and must know the local landscape like the back of his hand. He seems to have all the bases covered. [HIKM]
Potential snags include Stricklin's status as a Kent State alum and possibly having to ward off interest from southern schools. It may be harder to get him than you might expect. Even so this seems like a spot in which using some of Michigan's giant pot of incrementally extracted money would actually pay off. Baseball coaches at MAC schools are not making enough money to turn up their noses at tripling their salary.
As for Stony Brook's coach, Matt Senk has been at Stony Brook for 22(!) years, the first decade of which was spent in D-III. Since moving to America East in 2002 they've had a losing record once, and since 2006 they've finished third or better every year with three NCAA bids. In 2011 they were 42-12 and 22-2 in conference but lost in the tournament and didn't get a bid; this year they are 54-13 (21-3) and scraped their way to the CWS as a four seed.
I'd rather have Stricklin since it's harder to tell if Stony Brook is just a big fish in America East that got fortunate; Stricklin had done better in conference and turned a MAC team into a national seed. While the Seawolves have been dominant in their conference that conference is weak enough to send a 42-12 team to the golf course. Senk's also a bit older. Forty-four isn't ancient, but it is another vote in favor of Stricklin… if Michigan can get him.
[SIDE NOTE: how great are Kent's old-timey uniforms?
Hello. I'm Ty Cobb, minus the racism.]
Today's recruiting roundup previews this week's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, reminds you why you shouldn't pay attention to every recruit's tweet, updates Kendall Fuller's recruitment, and more.
Move Along, Nothing To See Here
I underestimated you, MGoBoard. When I saw this tweet (later deleted by Logan Tuley-Tillman) come across my feed last night, I fully expected at least one thread bracing for the worst:
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) June 12, 2012
After half an hour of semi-rampant decommitment speculation, Logan broke the big news:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman (@LoganTillman) June 12, 2012
Let this serve as your regular reminder that breathlessly hanging onto every word in a recruit's twitter feed is a terrible way to live.
In more relevant news on current commits, I'll be attending the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Southfield on Wednesday and Thursday, which features a lengthy list of Michigan commits and targets. Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, David Dawson, Csont'e York, and Jourdan Lewis are the commits expected to attend, as is uncommitted CA DE Joe Mathis. There will also be the usual Cass Tech contingent as well as top 2014 in-state DE target Malik McDowell. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to write up this week, as I'm taking a vacation starting Friday morning and the camp runs all day, but I'll be updating on Twitter frequently.
Rivals released their 2013 rankings for the state of Michigan, and the Wolverines unsurprisingly dominate, taking four of the top five spots. Morris tops the list, followed by Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer, Lewis, Dawson, and Wyatt Shallman. York comes in at #8, one spot behind MSU commit Jon Reschke, and Hill sits at #23. Hill's placement strikes me as unusually low, especially since he comes in three spots behind a fellow tight end from Howell whose only offers are from Air Force, Bowling Green, and Western Michigan.
Kendall Fuller Update, Lists, and Visits
Fox Sports/Scout reporter Kristen Kenney caught up with five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller to get the latest on his recruitment in the following video, which strangely is stuck behind a paywall despite having embedding enabled:
Fuller mentions Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan as the four schools making the strongest push for him. He's got current or former teammates at all four: Stefon Diggs at Maryland, his older brothers at VT, Dorian O'Daniel at Clemson, and Blake Countess at Michigan. According to Fuller, a decision could come before the season if he's 100% sure of the school he'd like to attend. Fuller's fellow Good Counsel defensive back, Kirk Garner, also has the Wolverines in his top six.
Tremendous dropped off an intriguing tidbit in their notes column as FL CB Leon McQuay III says he's trying to set up a visit to Ann Arbor with teammate WR Alvin Bailey for some time in the next couple weeks. Getting Bailey on campus would be big, and in my opinion the prospect of McQuay making multiple visits in a matter of weeks is even bigger. Click through on the link to see Bailey's outstanding high-top fade in action.
Several prospects are narrowing down their lists as the season approaches. CA ATH Darren Carrington, one of Michigan's most recent offers, told 247's Clint Brewster that the Wolverines "in the top couple schools" that he's considering ($). Carrington appears to be waiting on some potential big-time offers, but also says that he'll try to camp at Michigan and plans to use one of his officials to see Ann Arbor. CA ATH Elijah Qualls, who Michigan is recruiting as a DT, has the Wolverines in his top seven ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller has his eye on four schools($): Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, and Notre Dame, though the two in-state schools appear to have a distinct edge.
Quickly: CA WR Sebastian Larue earned a USC offer this week, and he tells Rivals's Adam Gorney that he's spending the next few days pondering an early commitment ($). If he drops this weekend, it won't be to Michigan. GBW initially reported this week that Michigan offered OH ATH Caleb Day, but that report has been refuted by Rivals and later retracted by GBW. Happy trails to OH WR Kevin Gladney, who committed to Nebraska.
Brief 2014 Updates
...are very brief this week.
Tremendous gets a visit reaction from IN LB Brandon Lee, who checked out campus on Friday and enjoyed the trip.
Five-star AL ATH Bo Scarbrough will visit Ann Arbor later this month ($, info in header). Scarbrough is being recruited by all of the major powers, and while it's a tall task to get a recruit from Tuscaloosa, getting him on campus is a good start.
Four-star IL LB Clifton Garrett, who trains with Core 6 alongside LTT and Laquon Treadwell (among others), will attend July's BBQ at the Big House ($).
2013 commit Kyle Bosch has a younger brother in the class of 2015 who just picked up his first offer($) from Illinois. His name? Brennan Bosch. That won't get confusing at all for the Tigers fans among us.
The Ballad of Boubacar is brief and unfortunate
This is the second part of an in-depth look at the 2008 recruiting class, and more specifically Brian's recruiting profiles for that class. You can find part one, covering the offense, here. If you'd like to peruse the recruiting profiles yourself—a highly recommended time-waster—you can find links to each position group here. Without further ado, let's look back at the eight-member defensive class of 2008. This one's not for the squeamish.
Mike Martin Wrestles Not Mike Martin, Which Goes As Expected
Let's start with the good, yes? Mike Martin not only stands as the clear-cut best player in the class, but outside of two-star Patrick Omameh may very well be the only player to surpass expectations from when he hit campus. Those expectations, at least from Brian, were pretty high:
Guru Reliability: High.
General Excitement Level: High. The highlight reel is totally impressive, there are zero questions about work ethic or how in shape he is, and he's got pretty good guru rankings.
Projection: Will play in the DT rotation immediately, and will probably leap past Ferrara, Kates (if Kates remains on the team), et al to claim a starting spot once Taylor and Johnson graduate.
The remarkable strength that helped Martin excel for four years at Michigan was also on full display during his high school wrestling career, and fortunately there is video evidence of a young Martin perfecting his Hulk Smash. A Simmons-style running diary follows:
0:00 — Martin and his opponent—"Mo" is his name, judging by the cheers from people around the cameraman—jog onto the mat.
0:07 — Mo removes what appears to be an ankle tether, so maybe this is just an elaborate criminal punishment that almost certainly violates the 8th Amendment.
0:14 — Martin shakes Mo's hand. Martin releases his grip and Mo's hand goes limp, never again to function properly.
0:16 — The match begins. Martin begins stalking his prey, who ignores his coach's cries to "circle, circle!" and instead backpedals furiously to avoid Martin's grasp. Within seconds, Mo finds himself out of bounds.
0:36 — At the restart, Mo goes for an ill-timed high-five. Martin ignores this desperate plea for peace and immediately dives for a single-leg takedown.
0:44 — Mo manages to ward off the takedown, but once again backs himself out of the ring. When facing Mike Martin, this is not cowardice, but simply a display of proper survival instincts.
0:56 — On the second restart, Mo lightly pats Martin on the head. If you consult page 56 of your Worst Case Scenario handbook, you know this is the last thing you want to do when encountering a Mike Martin in the wild.
1:12 — Martin gets his hands on the back of Mo's head then explodes for a takedown, knocking Mo to the very edge of the mat. Mo sees an opportunity for escape and frantically crawls for the exits. Mike Martin is having none of that:
1:20 — As Mo's compatriots cackle at his misfortune, Martin assumes control and pins his convulsing opponent, ending this match with relative humanity.
1:50 — The two shake hands as Martin is declared the winner. Martin goes on to star at Michigan. Mo reattaches his ankle tether, vows to straighten his life out, and hastily seeks both physical and emotional therapy.
This Did Not Go As Planned, Part I
The first, and highest-ranked, of the Cass Tech Lollipop Guild line of cornerbacks was Boubacar Cissoko, a top-50 overall recruit to every site save ESPN, where he was outrageously(!) pegged as the nation's #28 corner. Regrettable statement goes here:
Guru Reliability: Maximal. The unified chorus: this is a perfect cornerback except he's 5'8".
General Excitement Level: High. Obvious physical limitation aside, the perfect corner.
Projection: Plays as a freshman and is starting next to Warren by his sophomore year.
Cissoko flashed promise as a freshman in 2008, even starting two contests. Then Michael Floyd and Golden Tate lit him up again and again in 2009 before Cissoko went on a crime spree that quickly found him off the team and then incarcerated. While Cissoko obviously never reached anything close to the potential that had Brian so excited, his recruiting profile did feature one bit of eerie foreshadowing [emphasis mine]:
A couple years ago, I watched [current Detroit Lions CB Chris] Houston and Arkansas play South Carolina. Redshirt sophomore Sidney Rice was the Gamecock's big star and Houston lined up nose-to-nose with Rice in eff-you press man on every single play. Spurrier went after him again and again; sometimes he won and sometimes he lost, but usually because Rice reeled in a perfectly-thrown fade. It was a fantastic individual battle and I came away impressed with both players. So did the NFL: Houston went with the eighth pick in the second round; Rice went just four picks later.
Maybe this isn't the most reassuring comparison, as Rice did end up with 7 catches for 128 yards and Arkansas lost, but... hey... free second round pick!
Michael Floyd vs. Michigan, 2009: 7 catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown. Somehow, the Wolverines won anyway.
Instead of 3-4 years of Cissoko stardom, this was the guy who ended up as a multi-year starter at cornerback:
Guru Reliability: High. No reason he'd be under the radar; offers about commensurate with ranking.
General Excitement Level: Meh.
Projection: Though he's being brought in as a corner a move to safety is likely given the above, where he'll probably end up buried behind Stevie Brown, Artis Chambers, Stewart, and maybe Brandon Smith until his junior year, at which point he might develop into a contributor.
If you read that and went "sounds like J.T. Floyd," give yourself a cookie. At least, "meh" was most everyone's general impression of Floyd until last year's Illinois game; his emergence as a reliable starting corner means he's surpassed most reasonable expectations for his career.
The final secondary recruit was safety Brandon Smith, whose guru ratings took a Marvin Robinson-like dive for very similar reasons:
Smith looks like a prototypical collegian at a strapping 6'2", 210, but the lack of big time offers is telling. It's easy to believe Smith could lure the gurus in with his impressive frame at various combines and inflate his ranking while leaving college coaches relatively unmoved.
Excitement level was only "moderate" and a move to outside linebacker predicted. Smith moved to linebacker, then announced his intention to transfer before the end of the 2009 season. He landed at Temple and is not listed on the 2012 spring roster.
This Did Not Go As Planned, Part II
Michigan's recruiting haul included four linebackers rated as four-stars by Rivals, providing promise of much-needed depth and versatility for the position group going forward. The class included New Jersey's Marcus Witherspoon (Spoon!)...
An explosive edge rusher who's probably too small to be a fulltime defensive end in college? Add four inches and some chicken legs and that sounds like Shawn Crable, who actually spent quite a bit of time as a defensive end anyway.
...as well as Youngstown product Taylor Hill:
What does Michigan have in Hill? The comparison above, Larry Foote, is a strong one. Like Foote, Hill is an undersized WLB who played his high school ball as a defensive end and specialized in getting into the backfield.
As you know, the Wolverines did not end up with new versions of Crable and Foote. Instead, Witherspoon hit a snag with the NCAA Clearinghouse and eventually signed with Rutgers, while Hill was on the team for all of one game before transferring to Youngstown State.
Fellow linebacker recruit J.B. Fitzgerald—"a good bet to be a multi-year starter"—also joined the ranks of the disappointing. Kenny Demens is the only class of 2008 linebacker to make a significant impact despite being pegged as a "low upside sort" and getting a less-than-complimentary player comparison:
Chris Graham may not be the most appealing comparison, but the elements are all there: a little undersized (I am of the belief the 6'1" frequently thrown around as his height is overstated), has difficulting getting through traffic, praised for his short range burst and thumping tackling. Graham never figured out how to play in control or get to the right place at the right time and was thus a disappointing starter; if Demens can play smarter he could be anything from a decent starter to a borderline all Big Ten pick.
Admittedly, that's a pretty accurate assessment. Now let's try to forget about the carnage of this class, which featured the legal adventures of Justin Feagin and Cissoko, not nearly enough Sam McGuffie YouTube magic, transfers from several critical commits, the hope that Witherspoon could mitigate the loss of Nick Perry to USC, and no Terrelle Pryor. Though, on second thought, that last bit turned out just fine.
Laser third downs and such. Wolverine Historian pays tribute to John Navarre, and even manages to get a still of the Buffalo Stampede selected as the introductory picture:
That's some youtube wizardry there.
Congrats on Olympic trials… and not dying. Michigan men's gymnast Sam Mikulak finished third in the men's gymnastics senior nationals and will appear at the Olympic trials as a result. He escaped a scary situation to do so:
Determined to make a good impression this weekend in St. Louis after missing last year's U.S. gymnastics championships with two broken ankles, Mikulak didn't flinch when he realized the parallel bars were loose.
After he had already started his routine.
"I thought the bar was going to fall and I was going to die," Mikulak conceded.
This comes a year after Mikulak managed to break those ankles on the floor exercise. Mikulak taped his ankles up and finished the meet because he only thought he'd badly bruised himself. The Olympic trials are in three weeks. USA Today has more on Mikulak's story.
Camp, basketball version. Michigan's Elite Camp was over the weekend, and while the effects were significantly less dramatic than last year's when the entire 2013 recruiting class was gathered, one Keita Bates-Diop was in attendance. Joe Stapleton on his appearance:
Keita Bates-Diop (2014, Wing, Illinois Wolves)
Keita was probably the only player in attendance who is a “lock” for a Michigan offer on June 15th. He didn’t appear to be in his element during the 5-on-5 scrimmages but his skillset was more than evident in the drill portion of camp. Everything he was asked to do he did easily. His concentration and coordination was on display and it separated him from his peers. During the 5-on-5 scrimmages Keita didn’t exactly stand out but did what his team needed from him in this guard-filled camp: he rebounded the ball well, finished in the post, and played smart defense. Bates-Diop’s performance jives with what we’ve seen this spring: he has all of the tools but needs to become one or two notches more aggressive within a game setting. Still, he was solid and definitely the best player in attendance.
As the blockquote says, Beilein only offers after that's officially allowed in four days. At that point you'll see Bates-Diop and a few others like Devin Booker get them. It doesn't seem like anyone will drop right away, but I don't think anyone other than maybe the coaches was expecting to get four commitments last June.
There was one surprise 2013 name to watch, a kid named Vitto Brown out of Bowling Green, Ohio who you may remember being the one tall guy in that video where Mark Donnal goes bonkers. He was impressive but remains a 6'7" post player. I'd guess Michigan keeps him on the radar in case they get more attrition than they expect. Right now they're full.
Camp, fantasy version. Both the Women's Football Academy and the Men's Football Experience also happened recently. Fluff video ho:
Also there is one for the men. The big news resulting is Devin Gardner switching to #12 and Drew Dileo possibly switching to #9. Angelique Chengelis participated. Money was raised. I have no comment about this.
Brady Hoke is irascibly old-fashioned about something. He's like that about everything, yes. Here's a specific instance:
"You can take all these stars and the way all these guys are rated and all that, and that's great for the fan base and the public," Hoke told reporters last week. "But we've had some pretty good players here that probably would have been two-star guys.
"Tom Brady probably would have been a two-star guy. He turned out OK, I think."
Could have gone better. Michigan lost to Army 27-6 in 1954. Newsreel footage of that:
That bomb is totally offensive pass interference.
This game would be Michgian's last loss against Army. Michigan won the next two years and then a couple times in the sixties; the two teams haven't played since 1962.
Lines. Some real actual lines from Vegas:
- +12 vs Alabama
- +1 at Notre Dame
- -6 vs Michigan State
- -2 at Nebraska
- -2 at Oho State
That Alabama line has gotten a little less depressing after periods where it was supposedly +14.5, though I'm not sure you could have gotten a bet on that in an actual casino at any point.
Most of these lines are in the "I don't have any idea" range. When team X is favored by less than a field goal that's basically a coinflip. Could be a nervous fall.
What's wrong with Fielding? Peregrine falcons have been named inconsistently:
After receiving hundreds of submissions through the university's Facebook page, four peregrine falcon chicks that recently hatched in a nesting box atop University Hospital have been named Bo, Fritz, Lloyd and Yost.
The university selected the winning names after inviting the community to participate an online naming contest. The names reference former head football coaches Bo Schembechler, Herbert (Fritz) Crisler, Lloyd Carr and Fielding Yost.
This drives me crazy.
Etc.: Caris LeVert signs a thing, is now official. Hockey will play Cornell at MSG on November 24th, the day of the OSU game. Glenn Robinson continues to throw down dunks. 2011 four-star C Brian Bobek leaves the OSU team after plunging down the depth chart. Red Hot Chili Peppers troll Columbus.
Michigan picks up a commitment and there's a change at the two-spot in this week's recruiting rankings. To answer your question, no, Indiana still doesn't have a commit. Yes, I'm pretty sure they still have a football program. Changes since the last rankings:
6-4-12: Penn State picks up Neiko Robinson.
6-6-12: Michigan picks up Scott Sypniewski. Penn State picks up William Fuller.
6-7-12: Notre Dame picks up Isaac Rochell.
6-8-12: Northwestern picks up Tyler Lancaster, Brad North, and Macan Wilson.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the four recruiting services (the previous four columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
|Detroit, MI – 6'2", 215|
|Scout||4*, #2 MLB, #111 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #9 ILB, #4 MI, #184 overall|
|ESPN||4*, 80, #9 ILB, #2 MI, #113 overall|
|24/7||4*, #25 OLB, #209 overall, #5 MI|
|Other Suitors||Alabama, Florida, Miami(that Miami), Oklahoma, MSU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Ace scouts Cass games versus De La Salle, Cody, and Harrison. Ace interviews him.|
|Notes||Cass Tech (everyone). Army All-American.|
Michigan's third Westside Cub in the 2012 class, Royce Jenkins-Stone is also the second consensus four-star linebacker and second Cass Tech kid covered in this series. As a recruit he's a lot different than his Police Athletic League compatriots, though: where both James Ross and Terry Richardson are praised for advanced skillsets and knocked for their size, Jenkins-Stone is an A-level athlete who needs some molding.
Jenkins-Stone's name first started popping up when he was a rising junior hitting the camp circuit all Cass Tech kids hit hard. Barry Every came back with this evaluation($) from the 2010 Columbus NTFC:
Royce Jenkins-Stone, 6-2/216, OLB, Detroit Cass Tech (2012 class)
Has quick feet, long arms and a great frame for adding more muscle mass. … Displayed tremendous lateral movement during the 10-yard boundary drill, basically taking away any chance of a running back just trying to hit the sideline.
CONCLUSION: Detroit Cass Tech has another future star in the making. He has the size and speed to become not only one of the top prospects in Michigan next year, but a national recruit.
That was borne out as Jenkins-Stone went on to a productive, aggressive junior year. He racked up 90 tackles and a handful of sacks as he spearheaded the Technicians' defense. When the recruiting sites started releasing rankings, he was first or second in the state; Rivals had him the only Michigan kid in their top 100. ESPN's evaluation($) was last updated in June of 2011 and serves as a snapshot of where his star was before his senior year:
Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. This guy is a strong knock'em back tackler who will punish ball carriers when the opportunity presents itself; should be very productive early as a special teams player. … Although we detect some hip tightness we see the flexibility, balance and agility necessary to play in space; does a very good job getting a jump on the ball; is quick to key and read, displaying a tough downhill attacking style vs. inside and edge running plays. Shows the playing strength necessary to shed blockers while moving through traffic; keeps leverage on the ball showing good change of direction skills. … Does a great job with run and pass blitz timing; has the explosive playing strength to beat blockers through gaps and put immediate pressure on the quarterback; is responsible for quite a few sacks and hurries. This guy has very good instincts; plays with the intensity and toughness necessary to create havoc anywhere on the field.
Allen Trieu's assessment is similar, listing aggressiveness, athleticism, and toughness as assets and discipline as a drawback:
Has solid size and good speed and athleticism. An aggressive player who is best when in attack mode and shooting gaps. Good ability in coverage, as he has good ball skills and length. Improved as a junior in reading plays, but can still have a tendency to over run some plays. Often times, he is beating blocks with speed and sheer aggressiveness, so he will have to learn to take on and shed blockers at the college level.
Unfortunately, since then his star has waned a bit. Cass got annihilated in their season opener against Harrison and Jenkins-Stone did not have an impact. Josh Helmholdt($) on that:
With a Rivals100 ranking, more was expected of Jenkins-Stone in his senior season opener, but the 6-2, 215-pound prospect did not disappear completely. He registered a couple tackles for loss and showed off great speed, but got bottled up too often and had trouble picking his way through traffic. Jenkins-Stone moves well in space and when he hits you, you're going down. He made a great play ripping the ball from a Harrison back to force a fumble in the second quarter. The awesome physical tools were still recognizable, but this was certainly not Jenkins-Stone's best performance.
Helmholdt followed that up with some commentary on why Jenkins-Stone dropped like a jenkins-stone in Rivals's postseason rankings revamp:
"As a junior, Jenkins-Stone played an aggressive, downhill style of football player and was all over the field. We saw him live in two and a half games as a senior, though, and he had lost that aggressive style and was playing back on his heels. Jenkins-Stone has also grown very little since we saw him the first time as a sophomore and that raises questions about his ability to add the necessary strength and bulk to play inside in college."
Much like the last time I saw him play, there was a concerted effort by his opponent to run away from him, but I must admit I was still disappointed by his performance overall. RJS has all the physical tools you'd like to see in a BCS-caliber linebacker, but it appeared either his effort or instincts were lacking at times (my, er, instinct is that the latter is more the issue, since RJS appears to be very into the game emotionally at all times)—this is no more apparent than in the third clip from the video, in which he bites hard on an end-around fake and leaves a huge gap for the quarterback to take off up the middle.
This is not to say that I don't think Jenkins-Stone is a good player—when he's aggressive, he does a good job of finding a way to the ball and either making a play or forcing the ballcarrier into the rest of the defense. I like the way he's able to shed blocks to get to where he wants to go, and his athleticism and size combine to be a huge asset, and if anything, he's just got to harness that athleticism and play more under-control.
A later game against De La Salle was better; Ace pointed out that RJS also got 22 carries as a meat-grinding tailback and that Cass Tech's reliance on him on both sides of the ball suggests his motor is excellent. Cass did claim a whopping 145 tackles for him as a senior. I'm a little skeptical of that since his numbers in the three games that were heavily scouted add up to maybe 15 tackles.
After his somewhat disappointing senior year, Jenkins-Stone fell out of top 100s everywhere but retained his guy-we-rank-and-give-four-stars status. ESPN and Scout continued to list him just outside of their top 100s, but ESPN still has a fire-and-forget tendency.
You may note the weird offer list, with huge national names but no Penn State, Notre Dame, or Ohio State. (MSU did offer, but they're going to offer any four-star prospect in the state every year.) That's probably the local powers wanting Cass kids to actually show up on campus before they seriously pursue yet another player headed to Michigan. The recruiting articles on Jenkins-Stone mention a planned Notre Dame trip, but are silent about the result of it—it probably never happened. The powers halfway across the country were tossing the offer out as a way to get interest.
The local heavies hesitancy was well-founded. RJS was the first Cub to commit, taking himself off the market in mid-April($) right after Kaleb Ringer. Like Richardson, he flirted with visits to some of the power offers he picked up but ended up backing off after getting a stern phone call about the consequences of doing so.
At Michigan he'll start out as part of the MLB/WLB battle royale. However, the depth chart suggests someone is moving to the strongside. With Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark poised to duke it out at WDE, Jake Ryan's only backup is actually older than him. Michigan is going to have to slide someone down.
With Joe Bolden looking like the heir apparent at MLB and James Ross too small, the prime candidates are Jenkins-Stone and Ringer… except Ringer is listed at 6'0" most places and is not regarded as a vertical attacking threat in the same way RJS is. Michigan had already moved Beyer when Ringer showed for spring practice and he was still playing on the inside.
If Michigan wants to start grooming a Jake Ryan replacement this fall, RJS is the guy. While most of the sites list him as an inside linebacker, various analysts note the possibility he'll move outside. More Trieu:
He is truly has the physical presence to play inside, and the athleticism to move outside depending upon where Michigan needs him and has the potential to compete early. An aggressive player who is best when in attack mode and shooting gaps.
From both a roster standpoint and a player fit standpoint, that seems like the move. Most of the evaluations above hint that he's better as an athlete who can operate in space instead of a play-reading, traffic-evading inside linebacker. SLB is the land of insane athletes who can terrorize quarterbacks and take on tight ends without having to worry about guards or seam routes, and that sounds like Jenkins-Stone.
“They’re getting a kid that is athletic,” Wilcher said. “A kid that has great hands, catches the ball well. Good feet. Strong and has great speed for the linebacker position. One that can cover backs coming out of the backfield. Michigan runs the same style of defense we run, so I think hell fit right in. He’ll know all the calls and all the gaps, and I think he'll adjust quickly.”
An old old Webb News article.
Why Jake Ryan? Ryan is an often-irresponsible (but getting better) vertical attacker around 6'2" who has filled out into the 230-240 pound range and spent his high school career terrorizing backfields as a blitzer.
It's not a fantastic fit because the recruiting services missed on Ryan thanks to his late emergence and he played as an OLB in a 3-3-5; RJS was an inside linebacker in a 3-4. It's still pretty good. If you were going to list three assets and a drawback for Ryan you'd be hard-pressed to deviate from Trieu's formulation of RJS above: aggressive, athletic, tough… and a bit undisciplined.
Guru Reliability: Very high. Healthy, heavily scouted, same (or very similar) college position, and an All-Star appearance.
Variance: Moderate. Does need to put on some weight, may end up a bit of a tweener between the inside and outside, and has some boom/bust potential.
Ceiling: High. Seems a notch below the nutso athleticism that would get him a "very high" but easy to see him topping out at an all-conference level.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. A little leery of the senior-year backslide a lot of responsibility on offense may have had something to do with that. Probably needs to make an adjustment to a position he hasn't played before. Doesn't seem as likely to hit his ceiling as Ross or Bolden, but still nice bullet to have in the chamber.
Projection: Jenkins-Stone is the most likely of the four incoming linebackers to redshirt. Bolden and Ringer came in for spring practice and Ross has a reputation as a guy who sees the game ahead of his years. Even if he makes the move to SLB Michigan has two solid options in front of him. Given the evaluations above, burning a redshirt for special teams activity seems highly inadvisable.
After a hypothetical redshirt year, RJS will find the linebacker depth chart largely in place. Only Kenny Demens departs after this year; with everyone else back it'll be tough to fight past Bolden, Morgan, Ryan, Gordon, et al, to find the field. He should get plenty of time on special teams and some garbage time drives. He'll probably find his way onto the two-deep as a redshirt sophomore and will be a prime candidate along with Mike McCray to replace Ryan in three years.
Yes. Michigan has a touted guy they shouldn't have to unearth until he's a redshirt junior. On defense and everything.