i like 'em both
Obligatory Bo shot.
So. That hall of fame that we talked about. I went back and checked everyone's suggestions and have come up with this tentative structure:
Sports. This blog focuses primarily on football, basketball, and hockey, and since the end product here is going to be a career-encompassing column on the site the author of that column has to have experienced the career in question to write on it. Since that's me that unfortunately disqualifies the sports I don't get punched in the heart by.
In the event I or someone else who writes for the site does experience a sporting career outside the Big Three worthy of entry, we will play it by ear.
Eligibility. Anyone whose career finished up in 2005 or later in those three sports. There is no waiting period, but it will be tougher to get in in year one. How tough I can't exactly say. Looking over the list of candidates so far it seems like 2-4 a year across all three sports is about right.
There may be an old-timer's committee at some point to retroactively enroll folks like Charles Woodson. We'll see. Paging Craig Ross.
Entry process. Popular vote on the site. Registered users only to prevent bot spamming, but no point restrictions. Since I'm not entirely sure what the voting patterns are going to be like it's hard to set a definite threshold, but it will be a large supermajority—say 75%. People generally liked the idea of starting off higher and coming down as the player's career gets more distant.
Limits. No one has to get in any year, except this year when I'll declare the top vote-getter in each of the three sports to be an auto-entry.
Entry criteria. At this point in my internet career I know better than to tell the internet what to do, because the internet does not listen. But the end result here should provide some guidance. I can write a really swell career encomium for Zack Novak or Shawn Hunwick or Brandon Graham, but probably not Troy Woolfolk, star-crossed though he is, or Brandon Minor.
Overall greatness is part of the equation, but only part. There's also a heavy component of how misty it gets when player X is announced on senior day, assuming he makes it that far. Time served is necessarily a consideration—Max Pacioretty was pretty great during his one year but his quick exit makes it hard me to think of anything to say about him other than "was pretty great that one year." On the other hand, if Mike Comrie was eligible, hell yes. Woodson ditto. It's about a personal impact on you.
I don't know, man. Just close your eyes and use the Force.
Inaugural class. As previously stated, at least three. To keep the gate high and the candidate pool viable, the inaugural class will be a max of six.
End results. We'll have a page on the site that will serve as a home base; each entry will get a column that will be archived there. Under no circumstances is this to be told to anyone who gets in, and if you do for the love of God please don't tell me about it.
Candidates. To make things simple I am the candidate selection committee, albeit with much input from the crowd. I'll pick ten football, five basketball, and five hockey players from the time period to put up for nomination, put their pros and cons in a few posts, and then let registered folks have at the voting. I'm assuming there will be a bright line between yes and no, but I'll make more definitive calls when I have some data to go on. For now, here's an excellent list of candidates put together by Tom From AA. I'll have hockey up later today.
Photoshoppin'. I have no skills in this department, and this is the kind of thing that seems like it needs both a logo and maybe some special career-summing image leading these posts. Interested? Let me know.
Let's get to it. If there are strenuous objections to any of this, nothing's set in stone. Let me know.
Our long regional nightmare is over, as Michigan has finally* netted commitment #18 in the class of 2013. Scout's Allen Trieu broke the news this afternoon that Harper Woods (MI) Chandler Park Academy WR Csont'e York—first name pronounced "Son-Tay", according to Sam Webb—pledged to Michigan after receiving an offer yesterday while on an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor. York becomes the second receiver in the class, joining Jaron Dukes, and his stock is on the rise after a couple standout camp performances in recent weeks.
|3*, #67 WR||NR WR||NR WR||3*, 88, #69 WR|
As you can see, York is currently flying under the radar—ESPN didn't even have him in their recruiting database until today—with only Scout and 247 even bothering to rank him. Chandler Park isn't exactly a football powerhouse, however, playing in Michigan's Class B in the Charter School Conference, so he fits the profile of a sleeper recruit. Every service but Scout lists York at 6'3", with his weight at 185-190 pounds (Scout says 6'2", 180).
As mentioned above, York really burst onto the scene in recent weeks, earning offers from Michigan, Cincinnati, and Syracuse within the last 48 hours by excelling on the camp circuit. He was #5 on Barton Simmons's list of top performers at last weekend's Columbus NFTC,
where he took home wide receiver MVP honors [EDIT: Sorry, misunderstood Sam Webb's Tweet; he said York was deserving of MVP honors, but they actually went to OH WR Gary Brown]:
The 6-2 prospect took countless reps, winning most of them and showing great ball skills, route-running and mismatch size. York has impressed us in several different settings and he deserves a lot more college interest than he is receiving.
Simmons wasn't the only scout lauding York after last weekend, as he also made Scout's Bob Lichtenfels's top ten ($):
York made everything look so easy that we started to take it for granted. By the end of the camp his circus catches were looking routine. He is very smooth in and out of his breaks. Possesses very good ball skills and gets separation from the defender. He uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball. Smooth, gliding type of runner. Not sure how good his top end speed is, but he is very tough to cover on the short to intermediate routes.
As you'll see on his film, York's ability to go up and catch the football is excellent; while it's an easy comparison to make, he's certainly reminiscent of a slightly taller, skinnier Junior Hemingway. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt scouted York at April's NLA 7-on-7 in Pittsburgh, where once again he was amongst the top prospects ($):
There were several big wide receivers making spectacular catches downfield on Sunday, and maybe none as interesting as York. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, York is a great-looking, big wide receiver. His size gives him the ability to be physical with cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage, then go downfield and outmuscle them for the football. He made several spectacular grabs along the sideline and in the end zone, showing outstanding body control and a great pair of hands.
While I don't expect Michigan's passing game to continue to rely so much on the jump ball post-Denard, it's good to know that York could thrive in such an offense. He's also got the size and strength to be a very solid possession receiver. Allen Trieu has a free assessment on York's Scout profile:
Long, lean receiver who does a great job of tracking the football, adjusting to passes in the area and controlling his body to make tough and acrobatic catches. Has great hands and leaping ability. He's not a 4.4 guy, but has a solid burst and can create separation both underneath and downfield. He's not one who will give you a ton after the catch, but he has all the tools to be a productive college receiver.
York's strengths are listed as Body Control, Hands and Concentration, and Size, while his areas for improvement are Elusiveness with Catch and Speed. He sounds pretty similar to Dukes in terms of style of play; this coaching staff seems to have a specific type of receiver in mind unless they're track-star fast like Devon Allen or just plain elite like Laquon Treadwell.
York only held offers from Bowling Green and Toledo before Michigan, Cincinnati, and Syracuse joined the fray this week. Again, sleeper status here.
A quick Google search didn't turn up any stats. I'll update if I come across any, though judging by his film he scored a whole bunch of touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a 40 time, FAKE or otherwise. ScoutingMichigan has a profile for York with a self-reported 40 time of 4.52 (thanks to ScoutExile for pointing this out). If that's a hand-time it's in the right range given the scouting reports. If it's electronic, that probably merits a three FAKEs out of five.
Jump balls and touchdowns aplenty.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence is flimsy indeed, but York appears to fall into the same general category as Dukes: solid floor given his good size and hands, limited star potential due to a lack of top-end speed. Like Dukes, York will have every opportunity to see the field when he steps on campus thanks to Michigan's depth, as the only scholarship receivers on the roster will be Jeremy Jackson, Jeremy Gallon, Jerald Robinson, Drew Dileo, and this year's freshmen, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. The only remotely proven commodity among that group is Gallon, who will be a senior when York is a true freshman. Given York's current under-the-radar status, it's foolish to attempt to project beyond him having a shot to see the field. Luckily, I should be able to see him play at least once this fall and get a better feel for how he performs in a game situation.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has two receivers in the class, and they'll almost certainly take one more—Treadwell is the prohibitive favorite to take that last spot. After that, Michigan should have room for 4-5 more players, and the biggest area of need is at defensive tackle. Strongside DE is also a priority, and the Wolverines could also make a push for more help in the secondary. The last couple spots will likely be filled by the best players available, as Michigan now has that luxury after filling most of their major needs very early in the process.
*Tongue-in-cheek, obviously. Michigan could take one commit per month from this point forward and have a full class before the regular season is over.
Michigan's just done their annual slight tweaks to the hockey jersey, but they fed 'em after midnight and now they're getting kind of ugly and multiplying at an alarming rate. Michigan announced no fewer than five(!) different jerseys this fall.
The white home jersey have miraculously stayed the same; the road jerseys are now blue duplicates of the home:
Still not a fan of that out-of-place looking block M, but oh well. In marked contrast to the increasingly bepatched football jerseys, these are very clean. It could be worse.
The fugly Big Chill jerseys with the rabid hamster on them are back. I blame these things for the bumblebee Michigan State uniforms, BTW, and they are dead to me.
The fourth and fifth jerseys are for the GLI and I'm not sure how I feel about them until I see them.
There's also a version of these with the colors inverted. Note the lack of wings on the helmet. UPDATE: false alarm.
The operative theory here appears to be "if we put out five jerseys everyone will want to buy at least one." Next week they'll announce special NCAA tourney editions of all of these. They're identical, but when you put them someone shoots you in the heart. No sale! I only like that once a year!
For the record, my favorite iteration is from the 2008-2009 season:
I preferred the white and maize. Very classic looking, both of them. Though the Maize is kind of a Rangers ripoff, I'm okay with that. I'm hoping they come back around to something they like soon, as my jersey is so old it's got the university crest on the shoulders and was hand-knit by twelve-year-olds. Twelve-year-old Americans! Can I get a Triangle Shirtwaist shout-out up in here? No? Oh, okay.
Michigan goes into 2012 with the rarest of all birds (recently at least): a senior returning starter at quarterback. Since we can't count half a season from an injured Henne, the last time we saw this senior-type thing under center was the last time a QB wore 16: Navarre. It's been nine years!
History too has been a bit rough on senior QBs. Brady shared much of his last season with Henson. Todd Collins played almost as much as senior Grbac, who took away half of Michael Taylor's seminal season, who nabbed the bulk of Demetrius Brown's last year.
Since Bo's first year Denard is the 14th senior starter at Michigan. The other 13, by stats:
I'll save you some of the suspense: those are good efficiencies. And when that starter wasn't dinged it made for awesome seasons. Even counting '07, over these 13 seasons Michigan went 127-26-3, went to Pasadena 7 times (plus an Orange and Sugar and no bowl one year when Michigan finished 3rd overall), finished in the Top 10 of the Associated Press 11 times (avg finish: 7th), and won a National Championship. Small sample size and whatnot, but special years do seem to follow the seniors around.
Let's all shake our fists at: Chad Henne shoulder-hating god. Three shakes!
You also probably already figured that since players generally improve year to year, that senior quarterbacks are best. What I'm looking at here is whether there's maybe something about being a senior, whether its age, or whether that mythical senior tag has some weight. To the charts!
Click embiggens. The mythical senior tag didn't seem to do anything except as a function of experience. When broken up by age it wasn't any different than when broken up by how many passes he threw before coming. What age does seem to do is reduce variance. Look at the grouping of 5th year seniors (light blue). There's not enough data here to make a conclusion but I am intrigued by this concept of 5th year players producing no worse than a rating
A better way to decide if age or class means anything at all would be to use the Mathlete's database. Mathlete: you should do this some day: chart year to year improvement of quarterbacks and see what the progression curve looks like. What I'm doing here is just working with Bentley numbers for Michigan quarterbacks, since at least for these guys I can trust we know most of the exigent circumstances behind different swings. Just pulling returning starters and major contributors. In: John Navarre's 77 attempts in 2000, Tate Forcier's 84 attempts in 2010. Out: Drew Henson's 47 attempts in 1998. Show things:
|Year||Avg. Eff Change||Denard|
Denard's freshman to sophomore leap was high, not unheard of. Rick Leach leapt a ludicrous 76.1 points in efficiency between his freshman and sophomore years, a matter of going from 32% completions and 3 TDs to 12 interceptions to 47.6% completion rating and a 13/8 TD/INT ratio. Michael Taylor made a leap similar to Denard's between his Junior and Senior seasons (first and second as at least a part-time starter). Drew Henson, Jim Harbaugh and Demetrius Brown also had huge leaps forward as juniors. If you're smelling a trend, these were all guys who to varying degrees considered "mobile" quarterbacks.
The way efficiency is wired, a shift in TD/INT ratio, a shift in completion %, and a shift in yards per attempt. Big chart of returning passers (either starters or guys who got a significant amount of playing time the year before) so we can see if any one of these factors might stand out. Bolding numbers that I think made the difference:
|1976||Rick Leach, So||105||+5||+15.6%||+10/-4||+2.5||151.1||+76.1|
|2000||Drew Henson, Jr||237||+147||+9.4%||+15/+2||+3.0||159.4||+49.6|
|1985||Jim Harbaugh, Jr*||227||+116||+9.8%||+15/+1||+2.2||157.9||+49.6|
|1988||Demetrius Brown, Jr*||84||-84||+9.5%||-5/-16||+1.8||158.2||+45.5|
|1991||Elvis Grbac, Jr*||254||-12||+6.7%||+4/-4||+1.0||161.7||+24.5|
|1989||Michael Taylor, Sr*||121||-1||-1.1%||+6/-1||+1.1||161.2||+22.8|
|1974||Dennis Franklin, Sr||104||+37||+2.0%||+4/0||+1.0||146.9||+21.4|
|1996||Brian Griese, Jr*||61||-177||+4.0%||-10/-8||+1.8||137.7||+19.0|
|2006||Chad Henne, Jr||328||-54||+3.5%||-1/0||+1.0||143.4||+13.8|
|2003||John Navarre, Sr*||456||+8||+3.9%||+3/+3||+0.8||133.6||+11.4|
|1999||Tom Brady, Sr*||341||-9||+1.6%||+5/-6||+0.1||142.3||+10.6|
|1978||Rick Leach, Sr||158||-16||-2.4%||+2/-3||+0.4||145.5||+10.6|
|1993||Todd Collins, Jr*||296||+195||-1.5%||+10/+4||+1.6||149.3||+9.4|
|1973||Dennis Franklin, Jr||67||-56||+5.8%||-2/+3||+1.3||125.5||+8.8|
|2002||John Navarre, Jr*||448||+63||+1.6%||+2/-6||+0.2||122.2||+5.7|
|1970||Don Moorhead, Sr||190||-20||-1.4%||+2/-1||+0.1||105.0||+4.6|
|1996||Scott Dreisbach, So*||269||+163||+2.6%||+9/-6||-0.5||126.7||+2.8|
|1997||Brian Griese, Sr*||307||+246||+5.5%||+14/+4||-0.9||140.0||+2.3|
|2010||Tate Forcier, So||84||-197||+5.6%||-9/-6||-0.2||130.2||+2.0|
|1982||Steve Smith, Jr||227||+17||+5.8%||-1/+2||-0.3||125.1||-0.6|
|1983||Steve Smith, Sr||205||-22||-0.3%||-1/-5||-0.7||123.0||-2.1|
|2005||Chad Henne, So||382||-17||-1.8%||-2/-4||-0.3||129.6||-3.0|
|1990||Elvis Grbac, So*||266||+150||-4.7%||-8/+6||+0.1||137.2||-3.0|
|1994||Todd Collins, Sr*||288||-8||+0.7%||-3/+4||+0.3||146.0||-3.3|
|1986||Jim Harbaugh, Sr*||277||+50||+1.1%||-8/+5||+1.1||151.7||-6.2|
|2011||Denard Robinson, Jr||258||-33||-7.5%||+2/+4||-0.4||139.7||-9.8|
|1992||Elvis Grbac, Sr*||199||-55||-0.1%||-8/+6||+0.0||150.2||-11.5|
|2007||Chad Henne, Sr||278||-50||-3.6%||-5/+1||-0.7||130.5||-12.8|
|1977||Rick Leach, Jr||174||+69||+4.1%||+2/+1||-1.5||134.9||-16.2|
|1980||John Wangler, Sr*||212||+82||-4.8%||+8/+2||-3.8||131.9||-30.1|
|2001||John Navarre, So*||385||+308||+1.8%||+11/+12||-1.2||116.4||-30.8|
Bolded things of note: If I bolded the name or the amount of attempts you can just discount that guy since his year to year stats are thrown off by a huge difference in his role, e.g. John Navarre went from a guy who murdered MAC teams to full-time Big Ten passer who chucked things in the direction of Marquise Walker. Rick Leach basically learned how to pass a football (to his teammates). Henson and Harbaugh had matching junior leaps as they grew from leggy guy who might throw to polished passers.
Demetrius Brown had his numbers saved by Bo halving the amount of pass plays and going full-tilt option. Tom Brady stopped had a major turnaround in TD/INT as a senior, while Todd Collins and Jim Harbaugh went the other way. Johnny Wangler looks to have suffered (EDIT: was this when Carter injured? This is before my time.) his senior season, as YPA dropped terribly and completion suffered a little. I'm not sure Grbac's TD-INT ration can be explained by the similar loss of Desmond Howard—it's possible Dez's Heisman campaign simply separated itself from two similar yet pedestrian seasons.
What does this all mean for Denard? Most of the seniors touched up their games. Most had their big leaps as juniors, but I should point out of the 13 guys to make the biggest one-year leaps, 8 of them were redshirt juniors or seniors, i.e. Denard's age. Also working for him is running the same offense that he did last year. The transition ultimately came more to him than the other way around, though, so don't expect miracles. Working against him will be the loss of his favorite target, and the effective replacement of a tight end for a second back, which isn't always great for the passing game. Unless a deep threat emerges from the unknowns in the receiver corps, expect his YPA avg. to dip again, with a corresponding rise in completion % (something most seniors seemed to have done). I'd also venture Denard will cut down further on his interception and probably get his TDs up the same as Michigan's mite-y backs and receivers score more with screens. +4/-4 would be excellent. Meanwhile the team will win 10 games, place in the Top 10, and end the season in Pasadena, because that's what Michigan senior quarterbacks do.
A few weeks back, Ira from WTKA sent me an If I Was King article from a Penn State blog. Naturally, this got me thinking about what I would do if I woke up tomorrow and someone told me that due to a quantum something or other I was athletic director.
There are of course many things. I would let that hashtag guy go since he's supposed to be a public relations person but talks like a robot instead of a person, etc. But no one would see these changes. They may hear a deep rumbling basso laugh of evil. See it in their gameday experience they won't. So here are my top five-ish things I'd do in this alternate universe.
1. Start taking attendance, for both stick and carrot
three minutes to kickoff, check the packed endzone next to the students
One thing Dave Brandon and I are of one mind on is how gross it is for the student section to be half-empty at kickoff on certain gamedays. Since they're now scanning tickets they know who's coming early and who's coming late. They should start using this trove of data to reward behaviors they like and discourage ones they don't.
All season ticket holders, student or not, should start having an attendance score tracked. Max points are scored by being in the stadium 20 minutes prior to kickoff—bands—and something like 90% are scored by being there at kickoff, with a steep dropoff afterwards. For the first couple years Michigan does nothing with these except inform everyone of their score and their percentile range within their group (each different PSL level is a group w/ students separate) and within the entire fanbase.
Once they have a handle on the numbers they start making some use of this data with the students. Seating priority and away ticket and bowl lotteries are based on the score instead of straight seniority. Figure out the bottom 10% and set a threshold below which you can buy tickets but only at a full-cost rate. Take some of your pots of money and reward the most dedicated fans with reduced prices and special bonuses. What we're building is a religion, not a company.
For the folks paying full price there's not much Michigan can do. They're stretching everybody to the maximum dollar and at some point getting snooty about who you want on the list is going to result in no one showing up when you call out "next." But at the very least these scores should start adding to Victors point levels in some way, so that the guy who sat through the Ellerbe era at Crisler gets some credit for it.
Theme: Michigan's too focused on money as the end result of everything; they should make an effort to make the experience of being at a game better for everyone involved.
2. Stop playing the Penn State alma mater at every game
ignore the content of the song, project as 15 second clip
That would be "Seven Nation Army." I stole that joke from twitter.
Anyway. If Special K is going to run our lives for four hours every fall Saturday, the least he can do is not play the same six stadium anthems every other arena on the planet does. It is possible to both play music and build tradition if you pick something that you make yours.
Michigan accidentally did this when they picked a funky instrumental from a blaxploitation movie to lead Michigan Replay for 30 years. That worked because it was weird and ours and now I can't imagine our podcast without it; losing Across 110th Street was a traumatic experience that killed most of my interest in watching the Michigan Replay replacement (that and the internet making it a quaint relic). Special K should play that.
That should also serve as a lesson for any other in-game stuff. Make it weird, make it yours, stop playing "Sweet Caroline." Dump the overplayed Seven Nation Army and replace it with any of a dozen other White Stripes songs that would be equally or better suited. Make people think "Michigan" when they hear a song.
Michigan may have already tried this with "In The Big House," but the lesson there is never let a middle-aged white dude make a decision about music. Everrrrr. For it to be a beloved tradition people can't largely loathe it:
if anything this is kind since MGoReadership skews very young
Anyway. Figure out some stuff other people don't play that doesn't suck, play it at specific times so people get familiar with it, wait, and down the road you have a tradition.
Theme: By being different you can be loved.
3. Ask season ticket holders what they would like the schedule to look like, and ask them to pay for it
A corollary to this whole Alabama money debate is this: if it's going to cost extra to schedule a real opponent in a home and home, fine. When season ticket renewals are processed ask the people signing up if they would approve a surcharge for X games in X years against a BCS-level opponent in a home and home. Again, don't do anything with this information for a couple years as you gauge where you're at, then if you have a strong base of support for a more interesting schedule in those ND/OSU away years, announce that you're playing Team X and there will be a surcharge Y—or just price the ticket appropriately—for that year only.
You get permission to charge more in exchange for an exciting opponent; you bridge that gap between what a season ticket costs and what it's worth to scalpers.
Theme: Fans are more than teats to milk. We all participate in the decisions, and thereby become more invested.
4. Ask the Old Hat guys to do historical stuff for breaks
The one unqualified success in the modernization of the stadium experience has been the introductory videos produced by Old Hat Creative. Instead of filling dead air with Special K stuff it would be nice if Old Hat was tasked with producing 1-3 minute videos on Michigan history: Anthony Carter, the Virginia Kickoff Classic, Braylonfest, Tom Harmon, etc.
Basically MVictors: The Movie: The Short. The goal here is to do a little bit more than the occasional old highlight they've put on the board. Think little five-minute mini-documentaries about, say, the 1997 OSU game and what have you. You could play them in the nothing at the end of half time or split them across a couple commercial breaks.
Bonus: These can also be repurposed for Inside Michigan Football.
5. Think Carl Grapentine
This is more of a long-term feel than a specifically actionable thing one can do. If you don't know, Carl Grapentine is the PA guy at Michigan Stadium. If you've been to road games (or Michigan basketball ever) you know that he's a rare bird. Even Notre Dame's announcer burst out with something about how a rainbow had just appeared over the stadium—which was at least true—when Cam Gordon got torched for that billion-yard touchdown at the end of Denard's coming-out party a couple years ago.
Grapentine ain't havin' that. He's a just the facts ma'am kind of guy who brings boatloads of gravitas. He would easily win a presidential election contested between PA announcers. The Wings' Bud Lynch is another in that mold.
Many people have joked about The Brand The Brand The Brand in the past couple years as Brandon does whatever the hell he's doing with it. Mostly he's making it clear why we can't be Oregon. Say what you want about the Ducks' outlandishness, but damn if they don't communicate OREGON:
Even if the uniforms are incoherent, that is a coherent brand, one that supplanted a history of suck with success. Michigan has the opposite situation but they're just wobblin' around out there, claiming to be the home of tradition and coming out in no fewer than five different uniforms over the course of a season. That's not The Brand. That's the sad spectacle of a man going through a mid-life crisis getting "clunk" at da club.
Grapentine's the brand. Hoke is the brand. Refocus on that.
Theme: know who you are, instead of who the Knicks are.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Elite 11 and NFTC camps in Columbus, Ty Isaac officially narrowing his field to three, new offers for 2013 and 2014, and more.
Commits Excel in Columbus
Shane Morris, equally adept at deep bombs and photobombs (via)
It was a busy weekend for Michigan commits, as Columbus hosted an Elite 11 regional on Friday followed by a Nike Football Training Camp on Saturday. Shane Morris bounced back from a lackluster performance in April's Dallas Elite 11 regional, taking home MVP honors in the Columbus edition and earning himself a spot in July's Elite 11 finals, which take place in Los Angeles. Morris beat out a field that included Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire, Ohio State commit Jalin Marshall (who will likely play receiver in college), Northwestern commit Matt Alviti, and Purdue commit Danny Etling. Here's 247's Barton Simmons on Morris's performance:
1. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle – Good luck trying to pin a fear of competing on Shane Morris. Despite his lofty ranking and his early commitment to Michigan, Morris is at seemingly every event he can get to, eager to prove himself. On Friday he did just. He can put loads of velocity on the ball without digging deep, he showed great accuracy throughout the day and he has a smooth and natural composure in the pocket. Morris’ performance earned him an invite to the Elite 11 finals this summer.
“Over the past couple weeks Morris has been preparing to show he has more than just the big arm, and he proved that on Friday,” said Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt. “The opposite of overthrowing is trying to aim the ball, but Morris showed improved accuracy and spun the ball better while varying his speeds and trajectory.”
Michigan's star quarterback recruit wasn't the only commit to earn MVP honors over the weekend, however, as David Dawson (OL MVP) and Mike McCray (LB MVP) took home hardware from the NFTC. In fact, Michigan and Ohio State pledges dominated Saturday's event—of the seven players to earn invites to The Opening in Oregon, all were either future Wolverines (Dawson, McCray, Morris, and Taco Charlton) or Buckeyes (Marshall, Cam Burrows, and Billy Price).
Dawson in particular drew rave reviews, earning top weekend performer honors from 247's Simmons...
1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech – There were Michigan commits out in droves on Saturday, all wearing their Wolverine gear and waving the flag in Ohio State country but none represented quite as well as David Dawson.
A player with good length, Dawson showed good athleticism as an edge protector in one-on-ones but really separated himself with his finisher’s mentality. Dawson really fought to win his reps in one-on-ones and many of those reps he won with authority.
...and Rivals's Helmholdt ($):
Dawson capped off his MVP performance on Saturday by stoning defensive line MVP Billy Price in the final offensive line/defensive line one-on-one. Dawson has been dominant throughout the off-season, but this may have been his best performance to date. He was moving his feet better than in events past, and he channeled his mean streak well, even if he went past the whistle on a few plays. Dawson ended up with more pancakes than any other lineman we saw in the one-on-ones and physically manhandled the majority of defenders he faced.
Dawson also made Scout's Bob Lichtenfels's top ten list($) along with Morris. You can see footage of Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, and Charlton from the one-on-one blocking drills below, courtesy of Rivals:
Dawson's mean streak is on full display, as is Charlton's speed, though he also gets stuffed on one rep when the speed rush doesn't work out. You may notice that Tuley-Tillman looks a little ponderous and out of shape—he's been battling a shoulder injury that's hampered his conditioning and essentially forced him to block with one arm, so don't get too concerned.
Helmholdt listed Charlton as his #5 lineman at the NFTC, saying "offensive linemen could not handle Charlton's speed, but he also surprised them with his strength, even knocking Kyle Meadows backward on one rep." Meanwhile, Tim Sullivan provides evaluations for Mike McCray ($)...
McCray's ability to cover running backs out of the backfield had previously been considered a question mark, but it's one that he answered emphatically on Saturday. He was able to go stride-for-stride with all but the quickest tailbacks there, and showed the ability to not only blanket a receiver, but make plays on the ball as well. In edge-rush drills, he showed the ability to overpower running backs and tight ends, but also a quickness to go around them that's uncommon in a player his size.
...and Khalid Hill:
Hill impressed again on Saturday, with more athleticism than he's given credit for at times, precise routes, and as always, very good hands. He developed a nice chemistry with some of the quarterbacks in attendance, and although tight ends didn't get the ball much, he made the most of the opportunities presented to him.
Overall, it was quite a weekend for the Wolverine contingent in Columbus; Morris may have locked down five-star status, while Dawson and Charlton look poised to move up when the recruiting services update their rankings.
Speaking of which, Scout unveiled their initial 2013 team rankings, and it comes as no surprise that Michigan holds down the top spot, the first time that a school other than Texas has ranked #1 in Scout's initial release. Ohio State is at #4, Notre Dame #5, Penn State #12, Nebraska #17, and Michigan State rounds out the list at #20.
Isaac Down to Three, More 2013 News
Josh Helmholdt caught up with IL RB Ty Isaac after his latest trip to USC, and while this has been presumed for a long time, Isaac has trimmed his list to three schools ($):
"Right now, it's Michigan, USC and Notre Dame," Isaac said. "Among that group some are ahead of others, but I think it's down to them. Hopefully I can get this thing knocked out soon.
"If all goes well and nothing else comes up, hopefully I can get this done before my season starts, whether that be soon or in August. If not, I've got until February 2nd. I don't see it going that long, but if circumstances warrant that then so be it."
In good news for Michigan fans, Isaac also mentioned that a pre-decision trip to Ann Arbor "could take place in the near future." Considering his statements above, it's logical to think that the Wolverines are still in a very strong position to land his commitment, with Notre Dame probably on the outside looking in right now.
CA S Su'a Cravens will announce his decision on June 6th, his mother's birthday, and according to Scout's Lindsay Thiry he's narrowed his choices to five schools ($): USC, UCLA, Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio State. Rivals's Adam Gorney reports, however, that while Cravens will take a trip to the Midwest before his decision, he will visit just two of those Big Ten schools, though he won't say which one is out of the running ($). Regardless, USC will be the team to beat, and I have a tough time seeing him go elsewhere.
The Wolverines continue to send out wide receiver offers, with the latest going to FL WR Alvin Bailey, the high school teammate of five-star safety Leon McQuay III. Bailey tells 247 that he's feeling the time crunch of the recruiting process, and while he hopes to visit Michigan he might not get the chance ($). He seems like a player who will stay in-state, though a four-star at a position of need—not to mention a teammate of an elite prospect—is certainly worth an offer.
Quickly: MA DT Maurice Hurst Jr. will take visits to Michigan and MSU in the near future, then make his decision before the start of his senior season ($). Happy trails to TX DE Christian Lacouture, who surprised many by committing to Nebraska on Saturday.
M Leading for McDowell? Plus More 2014 Offers
2014 MI DE Malik McDowell continues to rack up the offers, with his latest coming from Notre Dame, and he also impressed at the NFTC over the weekend. The Detroit Loyola product recently named a top five of Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State, but one school might stick out above the rest ($):
The recruiting process is just getting started for Detroit (Mich.) Loyola class of 2014 defensive end Malik McDowell, with Notre Dame becoming the latest school to offer this past Friday, but Michigan may have already established itself as the school to beat.
“You could say that,” McDowell said after participating in the Ohio Nike Football Training Camp Regional at Ohio Dominican University on Saturday.
I've been hearing the same myself, though McDowell still wants to take visits—especially to the SEC programs—before coming to any sort of decision.
Michigan continues to send out offers to elite rising juniors. TX S Edward Paris, the #10 overall prospect in 247's early rankings, picked up an offer over the weekend ($). He'll be tough to pull out of the South, but says he would like to come up for a game in the fall. DC CB D'Andre Payne already has Virginia as his leader, but Michigan—amongst several other schools—threw their hat into the ring last week ($). Finally, Tremendous reports AZ WR Dionte Sykes picked up a Michigan offer a couple of weeks ago, and he'd like to take an unofficial visit over the summer.