"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."
Taco-ranked starters are far more likely than Glasgows [Fuller]
Every year, as college football recruiting becomes the only football thing left to pay attention to until spring, we are suddenly struck by an army of pundits so arrogantly attached to their "recruiting stars don't matter" narratives that they don't bother to care that math is against them.
Michigan typically gets taken to the woodshed in these articles for recurrently not matching recruiting expectations with on-field results. This discrepancy does exist beyond the normal J.T. Turners that everybody gets, and for various interrelated reasons: attrition spikes, spottily shoddy coaching, program instability, recruiting shortfalls. Anecdotally, there are examples I can point to, especially in the early aughts, when an otherwise two-star athlete was bumped to a three-star because Michigan offered. That explains less about how Wisconsin and Michigan State thrive on 2- and 3-stars, and more about how Michigan has recruited very few guys under a consensus 3-star.
However every time we find a new way to compare recruiting data to performance data, we consistently discover that recruiting stars handed out by the services correlate to better players. No, a 5-star isn't an instant superstar, but the 25-30 five-stars each season are consistently found to be about twice as likely to meet some performance metric (NFL draft, All-conference, team success, etc.) as the pool of 200-odd four-stars, who are consistently more likely to meet performance thresholds of the 400-odd three-stars, etc.
Today I present a new metric for proving it: starts.
|Example of raw data, via UM Bentley Library.|
ALL the Starts
My project over Christmas was to take the data from Bentley's team pages (example at right), scrub the hell out of it, and produce a database of who started what years, at what positions, at what age, with what recruiting hype, etc.
A few weeks back I released the initial results of my starts data. We noticed there were a lot of problems in that. I went back and did a lot of fixing, mostly just finding more weird errors in the Bentley pages I'd culled the data from, sometimes emailing the guys themselves to ask things like "Was there a game in 2001 that either you or B.J. didn't start?"
I think I've got it cleaned up now; at least the total number of starts for each season matches 22 players per game.
Recruiting By Starts
Starting in 1996 we start getting relatively uniform star rankings for recruits, though I had to translate Lemming rankings and such into stars (he had position rankings and national lists that line up with what we call recruits today). So I took the average of available star ratings of all players to appear on Michigan's Bentley rosters from the Class of 1996 through the Class of 2010, and put 'em against the number of starts generated. Guess what: recruiting actually matters.
|2- or 2.5-stars||29||271||9.3|
Even with Michigan's notorious luck, the 5-stars were expected to give you about two seasons of starts, compared to the 8 or 9 games you'll get out of a 2- or 3-star. That is significant, and offers a bit more evidence toward the general statement about recruiting stars: the higher the star rating, the more likely he is to be a good college football player, though at best you're at 50-50.
As for walk-ons, I've linked to the list of the 217 guys in that time period who made the Bentley rosters and weren't special teamers, in case you doubt me. The Order of St. Kovacs have accomplished great things for Michigan, but turning up one of those guys anywhere other than fullback has been rare indeed.
I'm going to try to use the starts data above to get predictive. The scatter plot of the 1996-2010 group was pretty linear so I'm just going to plug in a linear equation:
Expected Starts on Avg M Team = Stars x 5.30 - 6.35
And that gives us a reasonable expectation of Michigan starts to expect from a class based on their rankings:
click big makes
For the Class of 2011-2014 projections, I just guessed by hand, so those projections are going to be increasingly inaccurate once I'm predicting 2017 starters and whatnot.
The chart above has two stories to tell: 1) The strength of a recruiting class is strongly correlated to the value that class will produce in starters, and 2) the damage done by attrition to the 2005 and 2010 classes created ripple effects for several classes afterwards.
An Average Michigan Team:
By some quick averages I was able to get an average makeup of a starting 22. I took the average number of starts by experience (i.e. year in the program) for the classes of 1995-2010, adjusted those numbers for a 13-game schedule, then divided by 13 games to get an idea of what the starters ought to be against years of interest.
|Senior / RS Jr||7||5||4||8||8||6||8||9|
|Junior / RS So||6||10||5||4||7||7||5||6|
|Soph / RS Fr||3||3||6||2||1||2||3||4|
|AVG starter age||3.55||3.27||3.18||3.82||3.50||3.27||3.77||3.50|
By this the last two teams look extraordinarily young—about as young as the 2008 team or younger. The 2012 team by contrast seems like a wasted opportunity. FWIW I counted Devin, not Denard, as the quarterback, or it would have been even older. That fits the narrative: 2012 was a wasted opportunity, as a line with three 5th year seniors (two of whom were long-term productive starters) plus Lewan and Schofield was coached into one of the worst offensive lines in memory.
UM 0 MSU 1 EV 03:09 Haag from Cox
Brennan Serville shoots and misses, and the puck hits the boards and caroms around and out of the zone. Joe Louis Arena’s boards are known for being springy, and this is a good example of that as I don’t think the puck would come as far out of the zone in a different rink as it did.
Michigan is set up for an offensive chance, so they’re naturally behind when the puck enters the neutral zone. Michael Downing is back to defend and needs to work toward the middle of the ice to break up the impending 2-on-1.
I was critical of Downing diving on Twitter, but now that I’ve had the benefit of watching the play over and over again in slow motion I have to take that back. His job on a 2-on-1 is to take away the pass so that Nagelvoort can take the shooter, which is what he’s clearly attempting in the screen cap below. His dive fails because Cox delivers a perfect saucer pass over Downing’s stick. I used to try saucer passes in Ea Sports’ NHL series and was never able to execute one as well as this.
Nagelvoort has to adjust in this frame. His job has changed from taking the presumed shooter (Cox) to pushing laterally and covering the actual shooter (Haag).
Haag tries to hit the near-side corner. The puck hits Nagelvoort in the shoulder and is deflected up and into the corner of the net. Michigan’s goalies have terribly unlucky shoulders.
[After THE JUMP: Are teams allowed to go more than 20 minutes without scoring? I investigate]
Same business. I already wrote the column about John Beilein as MacGuyver, and this was more of that, except moreso. After ten minutes of post-game frustration, I have the same emotional reaction to beating Nebraska handily at home as losing in OT on the road to MSU down LeVert and Walton (and DJ Wilson and Mark Donnal and those five guys in the NBA): wow.
Once we have experience/players they'll get back to it. It's unfortunate they ended up on the wrong side of a couple of games that look like they'll prevent them from getting to the tournament. Let's see what the guys can do for the rest of the year and then go into next year with confidence. And so forth and so on.
MAAR/RAHK. In a meme:
MAAR had an efficient 18 points on 14 shots and a few rebounds. He didn't exactly fill up the box score—just one assist and one TO and a bunch of zeroes places other than points—but Michigan needs points more than anything else.
MAAR's ability to get to the basket and hit contested layups is a foundation for expanding his game. Once teams start to focus on him that will hopefully lead to more good looks for other people.
Autobench. In fact Michigan lost this game because MAAR picked up two first half fouls, leading to an extended period with Andrew Dakich on the court. Dakich played 16 minutes, attempted one shot, got one rebound, and turned the ball over once. Replace a few of those minutes with MAAR minutes and that's probably worth another few points—in his absence defaulted to posting Max Bielfeldt.
MAAR then finished with two fouls, frustratingly. I complain about this every time it happens but I'll keep complaining about it. Every year Beilein has one of the least foul-prone teams in the country, and every year he yanks an important player from the lineup for ten minutes because a guy who averages 2 fouls per 40 picks them up early. When that guy is a scholarship player who has some ability it's one thing. When it's a walk-on who was a few bounces of the ball away from a 16-minute trillion it's another.
I'm enjoying the scotch-tape-and-soda thing as far as it goes, but it is still frustrating to feel that you could have won this game if you'd just had faith a guy averaging 3.5 fouls per 4 could handle a few first-half minutes with two.
This is like timeout strategy with NFL coaches: even the best people are seemingly insane about it.
Assist drought. Michigan struggled through this game with a measly 8 assists (30% of their baskets). MSU was at 70%. That's the offense's struggle in a nutshell. There's a lot of one on one basketball and not much ability to find an open guy. Irvin actually led the team with three. That was the second straight game he'd managed that. Believe it or not, that's the first time in his career he's had back-to-back games of three+ assists.
Michigan has very little ability to penetrate without two of their big three, and unless MAAR develops into more of a point guard instead of a shooting guard that's going to persist. The offense's smoothness will require assists in the 15-18 range instead of the 8 number they've put up in many of their Big Ten games.
Irvin. A frustrating year from him, one in which he's suffered greatly from Michigan's general lack of shot generation. He's improved in that department, but he's gone from "zero" to "not much"; many of the shots he gets for himself are heavily contested bad ideas. As a result his efficiency went off a cliff. His assist rate remains well under 10 despite the recent surge-type event and he's not a plus rebounder on either end.
Early in the season I was hoping Irvin could become a "threes and" guy, whether that was threes and D or rebounding or shot generation. He hasn't really. It's not so much about the shooting. He's been hurt by Walton's evident lack of burst all season, and would no doubt be just as deadly as he was last year if he was getting the same shot quality. It's about how he tends to drift out of games when he's not scoring.
Center spot. Bielfeldt hit some shots but not efficiently; he rebounded but was generally overwhelmed by MSU. He did screen much better than we've seen the freshmen do this year—too often they are imprecise and the screen just wastes time instead of creates room.
Michigan needed Doyle to have one of those games in which he seems like a future star; instead they got some iffy defense (he was too aggressive in the short corner in the 2-3) and one shot attempt in 15 minutes. He is a freshman post and so will be up and down for the next two years; really would have been nice to get a Syracuse-like performance from him.
We saw some brief passages with Bielfeldt at the 4 next to Doyle and I wonder if that'll be more common going forward when Donnal gets back. Against low-usage Big Ten 4s, Bielfeldt brings more rebounding, and if MAAR can pick up spot PG minutes that might be a way to prevent the dual-walkon backcourt we saw at the tail end of the first half.
Fifth year though, right? Michigan does not have any recruits in the 2015 class as of now; unless they do there seems to be no reason to not bring Bielfeldt back if he's willing. I know he was thinking about heading elsewhere for his final year so that he could get some playing time… but he is getting some now and I don't see why that would not be the case next year as well.
just overheard an #Amaizing phone call!
— Jay Harbaugh (@JayHarbaugh) February 2, 2015
A "miscommunication" means that Deontay Burnett is not only not a Michigan commit right now, but won't end up in the class, period. The Wolverines won't go wanting for long, though. Jay Harbaugh's tweet indicates a commitment is imminent, and I'm hearing the same thing.
Since I may have just spent a good part of my afternoon writing up a commitment post, I'm holding off on Signing Day stuff until tomorrow, when I'll write up a primer for what should be an eventful day.
Williamson Announces Tonight
In unrelated* news, three-star FL ATH Chris Williamson will announce his choice between Cal, Florida, Michigan, and UNC tonight at 10 pm. Sam Webb talked to Scout's Chad Simmons before the weekend to get the lay of the land after Williamson's recent official to Ann Arbor:
Michigan has already cemented themselves in the game, they’re right there I think with North Carolina at the top right now in the top two. Florida beat out Georgia, an instate school for the final visit this weekend, so Florida I think is the third team.
As the weekend wore on, however, Florida picked up a lot of expert picks—I'd expect him to end up with the Gators.
*Not tongue-in-cheek—Williamson isn't the prospect referenced in the previous section.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
FOR SCIENCE! Bakers And Best compiled 36 different combinations of cereal and gatorade into POWER RANKINGS:
1. Trix with Cool Blue - This was the second one we tried and unfortunately it was all downhill from there. We had both assumed the ‘fruit’ flavored cereals would taste best and for the post part this was true. I’m not going to start eating this for breakfast, but if you asked me to eat a bowl of it I wouldn’t protest.
36. Frosted Cheerios with Strawberry Lemonade - We kept notes as we tasted. I ended up with 2.5 pages single spaced. My notes for this were relatively short, because we wanted to forget it ever happened and move on. They read, “NO. NOPE NOPE NOPE.”. It so grotesquely intensified the taste of the strawberry lemonade, which yes, as you’ll notice according to the rankings is worse than rotten chocolate yogurt.
Now you know. Interestingly, the "Cool Blue" flavor—blue is not a flavor—scored three of the top four combinations but finished 33rd when paired with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Anyone who wants to remain un-banned will agree Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the king of breakfast cereals.
Hey… uh… nevermind. Ace dutifully compiled a commitment post for three-star CA WR Deontay Burnette after various outlets reported he'd flipped his commitment to Michigan. That is apparently not happening.
WTF happened? Nobody really knows, but Sam Webb says that there was a "miscommunication"($) and that Michigan won't actually take a commit from him. If that sounds weird… yeah, it's weird. You'd think by this point anyone coming in with a pulse who wants to commit would be greenlit.
Hopefully that's a sign that Signing Day is going to be fruitful. Michigan does have an option in its back pocket in case things go south and they want to pick up a three-star-ish WR: Brother Rice's Grant Perry, an Alex Malzone teammate currently committed to Northwestern.
WHAT. So… the Super Bowl. I understand the nation is aghast at the decision to throw the ball from the one on second and goal when you have Beast Mode, but let's not forget that Bill Belichick—indisputably the greatest coach of his generation—had two timeouts in his pocket and was content to take them to the locker room if that's what it came to. He was bailed out by a terrific play, but it truly boggles that there is literally no football team in the universe that would not be improved by importing a 14-year-old who plays Madden 16 hours a day to work clock strategy.
That is no longer hypothesis, but fact. Yeesh.
Looked pretty good though. Can't really blame Wilson for the decision.
The thing about the INT is Seattle got what it wanted with play-call. Unbelievable break on the ball by Butler. pic.twitter.com/zNEfTn8NfZ
— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) February 2, 2015
What was bad was the placement: Wilson put the ball a yard behind his guy instead of a yard in front, allowing the DB to make a play on the ball. If the ball is out front the DB has zero chance at an INT no matter how well he reads the play. At best he breaks it up. But that's why not everybody is Tom Brady.
Not many options? Harbaugh's first game is against Utah, which is a much more interesting opener than they usually are. Utah underwent a spasm of turmoil last month, losing both coordinators and almost their head coach. They've found a new DC: Brent Pease, who's exiting retirement for the second time to take the job.
Hello: Partridge family. Michigan hires former Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge for that job a previous UV speculated was right up his alley. Partridge was apparently in Ann Arbor interviewing for four days before getting officially hired. NJ DT Rashan Gary, by some accounts the #1 kid in the 2016 class, is currently at Paramus:
Paramus Catholic features one of the top recruits in the country next year in junior defensive tackle Rashan Gary.
Not surprisingly, Gary recently received a scholarship offer from Michigan.
“Chris would never steer him to a school,” Russo said. “Rashan is going to go visit places in the spring. He has a lot of things set up. At the end of the day, if Rashan’s mom and him and his support staff here at Paramus Catholic feel like [Michigan] is the best place for him, then it is. He will do great wherever he goes.”
Hopefully that's in Ann Arbor.
Tom Brady, 2000. Via Dr. Sap:
Etc.: Left Shark is today's internet fave-rave. Michigan was unlucky at acquiring TOs last year, so that should help Harbaugh unless it doesn't. Chris Webber interviewed about his film projects. Josh Gordon writes a reply to his critics. Werenski 8, Connor 13 in TSN's mock draft.
The Seahawks pulled no punches talking about the NCAA.
[UPDATE: As Burnett tweeted later on Sunday, he's not committed to Michigan, and it appears he won't end up in the class at all. I'll post more on this in the roundup, but it's a strange situation.]
Rivals' Adam Gorney reports that Gardena (CA) Junipero Serra wide receiver Deontay Burnett flipped his commitment from Washington State to Michigan this afternoon after taking an official visit to Ann Arbor. He told GBW that Michigan's academics were a major reason for the switch in commitments:
“It’s a great place to be,” Burnett told GoBlueWolverine from the airport. “It’s a new coaching staff that would help me develop my game, and the Michigan degree is powerful.”
“The thing that stood out to me the most is the academic department.”
Burnett is the tenth commit in the 2015 class and the second who's expected to end up at receiver, along with in-state athlete Brian Cole.
|3*, #82 WR||3*, #59 WR||3*, 76, #139 WR||3*, 86, #97 WR||
3*, #85 WR,
All four services rank Burnett as a three-star, though there's a bit of a spread as to how good of a three-star he is—Rivals has him up at #59 at his position while ESPN has him way down at #139. They all agree he's got a relatively slight build; his listed size ranges from 5'11, 159 (Rivals) to an oddly specific 6'0.5", 166 (247).
Burnett was a late bloomer, going from a secondary target on his high school team to one of the better receivers in the West region over the last year. There was good reason for this—as a junior, Burnett played behind five-star athlete Adoree' Jackson (now at USC) and three-star receiver Jordan Lasley (UCLA). Scout's Brandon Huffman recently named him one of the five most improved prospects in the West from year one to year four:
Deontay Burnett - WR - Gardena (Calif.) Serra – Burnett emerged over the spring and summer as one of the top receivers out West. He has excellent quickness getting in and out of his breaks, has down field speed and can be a deep threat at the next level. He's also a natural pass catcher, very smooth in his route running and plays with surprising polish despite not being a full time starter until his senior year. He'll need to add size/strength but the natural ability is all there.
His breakout spring included standout performances at the IMG 7-on-7 West Regional and the B2G Elite Camp, and he capped off his senior year with MVP honors in the West Coast Bowl. Scout's Greg Biggins on Burnett's IMG performance:
Seems like every year, Gardena (Calif.) Serra has a receiver emerge over the spring. Last year it was Jordan Lasley, this year, it's Deontay Burnett. While Burnett may not have Lasley's top end speed, he runs well enough and was getting deep all tournament long. He's a natural pass catcher, a smooth route runner and is poised for a big senior year.
ESPN's evaluation notes his separation ability and ball skills:
Knows how to use his speed. Will change pace and burst to create a step on a defender. Is not only a talented receiver but demonstrates intelligence too. ...
Catches the ball well and naturally. He is comfortable reaching for a throw and also shows an ability to adjust while the ball is in the air. Will twist his body to make a difficult catch look easy.
They aren't as high on his size and think he's more of an intermediate threat than big-play guy due to a lack of top-end speed, though "he can make a defender miss."
Tim Sullivan got the rundown on Burnett from Rivals West analyst Adam Gorney after his commitment today:
"He's kind of wiry and athletic," Gorney said. "He's definitely not a power receiver kind of kid, but he's a kid that you can get the ball in his hands and turn him loose. At the B2G West Coast Bowl last weekend, they tried to get the ball in his hands and let him run He's always going to be that wiry strong kid - never a bulky receiver. He's not weak by any means - cornerbacks don't push him around - he'll put on some weight, but he never fills out that uniform.
"He has very good speed. He can get downfield - a big downfield threat - excellent hands. Once he adds weight, he'll work on consistently being able to bring it and deliver. If he does have a big game, he'll have to get used to it and not rest on his laurels, because he's only had a few big games at the high school level."
Gorney noted that a lack of opportunities as a junior and iffy quarterback play his senior season limited Burnett's exposure.
247's Clint Brewster provided a breakdown of Burnett's film ($):
Burnett is a patient route runner and does a nice job sticking his foot in the ground to get separation. He's good at selling his routes. Burnett is just a tad over 6-foot tall but he's got a long and rangy frame, making his catching radius very wide. He keeps a good relationship with his quarterback in scramble situations and finds a way to slip behind defenders. He's a hands-catcher that makes catches look easy, keeping the ball away from his body. Burnett has good moves and shiftiness after the catch but doesn't have blazing speed my any means. Has a nice hesitation move, and gets up to top speed quickly. He is a long strider that can eat up cushion by cornerbacks in off coverage.
Sullivan caught up with his high school coach, who praised his patience while waiting behind his talented teammates as well as his ability to track the ball:
"Early on, he was a quarterback in our system," Altenberg said. "I think that helped him pick up quickly when he moved out to wideout. The thing about him though, is he's one of the best ball-locators I've seen. He tracks the ball as well as any receiver I've coached. He has a natural gift for that - it's not an easy thing. He probably had five catches this year where he just jumped up and took it away from the guy in coverage, because he knew where it was going to be."
Burnett may not be a top-end prospect due his size and lack of blazing speed, but as a late pickup he's pretty solid—as you'll see on his film, he does a great job of tracking the ball in the air, and he's quick to get off the line and create separation on his routes.
Burnett had offers from Arizona State, Colorado State, Miami (YTM), Utah, and Washington State. He'd been committed to the Cougars since July.
Junipero Serra is one of California's top talent-producing high schools, especially at wide receiver. USC has been a major beneficiary—in addition to Jackson, who played both ways as a freshman in 2014, they pulled five-star receivers Robert Woods and George Farmer and four-star Marqise Lee from JS. The school also produced four-star WR Paul Richardson, who excelled at Colorado and will suit up for the Seahawks in tonight's Super Bowl.
After catching just 12 passes for 186 yards and two TDs as a junior, Burnett tallied 27 receptions for 545 yards and five TDs in 2014, per Rivals.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.69, which appears to come from a SPARQ event and therefore gets zero FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Burnett should get a chance to redshirt this fall to focus on adding strength and learning the offense; Michigan brings back the entirety of their receiving corps aside from Devin Funchess. Down the road, Burnett looks like a player who could find a role in the slot or on the outside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
While Michigan is running out of room in the 2015 class—they likely have five open spots at the moment, though that could get up to six or seven—it'll be interesting to see if they take another receiver, as Ole Miss commit Van Jefferson was on campus this weekend and there are rumblings he might want to join up, as well. Other needs include running back, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. TE Chris Clark, CB Iman Marshall, LB Roquan Smith, and RB Mike Weber remain the top targets left on the board.