...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
You know by now that Chris Wormley has committed to Michigan and become the 21st commitment for the 2012 class. While he was the only commitment at the BBQ the event was a hit. Here's a look at reactions from some of the visiting prospects. As always you can follow me on Twitter @TomVH and email me any tips or questions at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
6'2", 295 lbs.
O'Brien has been listing Michigan as one of his favorites for some time now. This visit gave him a chance to get more personal with the coaches and other commits.
This visit definitely helped Michigan; I had a great visit. I got even more comfortable with the coaches and I'm good friends with a lot of the commitments so that was fun. I saw the locker room this time too, I never saw that before.
Now that he has taken this visit he will have to try to cut down his list even more and soon make a decision.
I'm going to think about my comfort level this week and where I'm at with everything. I have a top six of Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Michigan State, and Iowa right now. I'm going to cut that down to three and then take official visits to those schools. I know Michigan said they're only taking one defensive tackle, but if they want to take two I will still consider them if someone commits before me.
Danny has mentioned to me before that he knows the coaches have said they'll only take one, but he thinks there's a good chance they could take two.
6'6", 297 lbs.
Steve Elmer and his father have been on Michigan's campus a few times this year, and this time he got to bring his mother and brother along as well. I caught up with Steve Elmer Sr. to talk about their trip.
This visit was a little different because more of my family was there. My wife, Steven, and my middle son were all there. We got to spend more time with the coaches and their families. We actually got a picture with all the 2013 kids; Shane Morris, Wyatt Shallman, and Jonny Reschke. They all got a chance to talk.
While the Elmers didn't necessarily see anything that they haven't before they got to see things from a different angle this time.
We had a different perspective on everything. We took a normal tour that they would give to incoming freshman, maybe a little abbreviated. We went to all the athletic stuff, and I don't know if it was a coincidence but we sat with the Dean of Admissions and a couple academic people. We spent some time with Shari Acho, too. My wife didn't meet her last time so it was good she got to meet her.
This visit also gave them a better chance to catch some one on one time with Brady Hoke.
We got to spend more time with the coaches, which is important because we're looking for a comfort level. When we were at camp Brady Hoke was very busy and this time there were only around twenty kids there. There was about four or five occasions that we got some time to talk with the head coach. We met his wife too, and she is legitimately a genuinely nice person. They played some highlights, some things about Michigan, and then Brady Hoke spoke and got us all pumped up. The message was pretty much to restore the pride, that he's bringing Michigan back.
Elmer has already received a few early offers and will see plenty more roll in. While I don't think they want to drag his recruitment out the family wants to find the place that Steven feels is right for him, however long that takes.
6'3", 325 lbs.
Kansas City, Missouri
Ondre Pipkins' visit was one of the more anticipated by the fans. Ondre had told me prior to his visit that there was a chance that he could announce at the event. Obviously that didn't happen, but it doesn't mean it still won't. As you can imagine he was busy today, so when we spoke he kept it short and sweet. I asked him what the visit told him about Michigan and if he would be visiting again soon.
Michigan men take care of Michigan men. That means that they take care of you beyond football. And yeah, I'll visit again.
The important part about saying he'll visit again is that he's still in the state of Michigan for some time. So there is a chance that he will be visiting again while he's on this current stay in the state. We'll see what happens.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Reschke is a 2013 prospect fresh off of a Michigan State offer. He took in Ann Arbor today for basically the first time today as a recruit.
This was basically my first time there. The Big House was unbelievable. We were just saying how crazy this place is packed. We took a tour of everything, and I love the campus up there. It was great.
Jonny believes that this visit will help him not only get to know MIchigan better but also get closer to an offer from the Wolverines.
I talked to Coach Smith one on one. All the coaches really like me. Coach Smith told me he's going to take a look at some tape and that I should call Coach Jackson soon. If he doesn't answer then I should call Coach Smith. He didn't say that I was getting an offer, but he was kind of implying it, so I think it's close. After camp they had a dead week and then they put on this BBQ, so they need to regroup and start recruiting again.
The visit really helped with my comfort level though, and it was really cool to see all the kids together. Coach Hoke's speech was pretty awesome and then they played a video, too. I just want to play football right now after that.
As I mentioned Reschke has an offer from Michigan State, and that hit home with him mainly because of where his father went to school.
My dad played at MSU in 1979. It doesn't matter though; he's going to let me make my own choice. He wants me to play somewhere that I'll have an opportunity to play. I'm not going to wait until after my senior year, I want to get it done with. It will probably be around this time next year, I just want to check out all the places that want me during the spring. I'll also probably be back to Michigan for the Notre Dame game.
I believe at this point it's probably a Michigan vs MSU scenario right now for Reschke. We'll see how his recruitment plays out.
6'3", 202 lbs.
Isaac is a 2013 running back prospect that made it in for the BBQ this weekend. This was his first time on campus and he seemed to come away very impressed.
I've been talking to Coach Hecklinski and he told me to come out to the school. We went on a tour, met all the coaches, and I really liked it a lot. We talked to the coaches and most of them knew who I was. I was just happy I could get on campus and get a feel for everything. It was my first time there so I didn't know what to expect. I enjoyed it, I went up there not knowing much about Michigan but it really surprised me. I'm excited to go back and check it out again to get there for a game. This was different, I didn't know what to expect so it was good for me, I really liked it.
Isaac has now been out to Michigan, Illinois, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin. He says he will try to make it out to all the schools that offer and maybe a few more as well.
To me every school has a uniqueness about it. The way Michigan went about everything and the feel of everything was different. I'll definitely try to get up to games for the schools that have offered. I can't really give you a timeline for everything though, I'm not too sure when I want to make my decision. And to be honest I don't really have a list yet, that's the truth. Everyone wants the big schools, but I want whatever fits me the best, that's where I want to be. I just don't know yet.
It seems like Michigan has done themselves a favor after this visit with Isaac. They haven't offered him yet, but it seems likely that he will eventually receive one from Michigan.
This post is starting to get pretty long so I'm going to save a couple posts for this week. I'll have 2013 RB Wyatt Shallman's thoughts, WR Jehu Chesson, and RB Bri'onte Dunn. Bri'onte's father told me that this visit also helped Michigan with his son, I'll have more from them later in the week. I still think Michigan has a chance with him, I just believe he'll take his time with everything.
WR Amara Darboh told me that he's going to talk to his coach about his last MIchigan visit and his choices overall after camp. His camp ends Wednesday and he'll likely have a short list out soon after. He said that Michigan is up there on the list, but he still wants to have his guardians see what he saw at Michigan, and all the other schools he's seen as well.
I wanted to mention WR Monty Madaris. I had made a comment that because he wasn't visiting for the BBQ Michigan's chances to land a receiver will be pushed back, and that I thought Michigan was in good shape with him and Darboh. I said that not to imply that Madaris was 100% going to commit to Michigan, but that he had mentioned to me it wasn't out of the question. I didn't mean to say that Michigan was the leader and that they were definitely getting him. When I said that Michigan was in good shape I simply meant that they are in the top group for now. I receieved an email from a confused reader and figured I would share with everyone.
Michigan has picked up more commits, so that means we hit the front page. (Tons of) action since last rankings:
7-21-11 Iowa gais commitment from Ryan Ward.
7-24-11 Illinois gains commitment from Joey Warburg.
7-25-11 Iowa gains commitment from Michael Malloy.
7-26-11 Michigan gains commitment from Sione Houma.Penn State gains commitment from Jake Kiley.
7-27-11 Indiana(!) gains commitment from Gunner Kiel.
7-28-11 Michigan State gains commitments from Aaron Burbridge and Jermaine Edmondson. Indiana gains commitment from Jason Spriggs.
7-29-11 Purdue gains commitment from Andy Garcia.
7-30-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Jonah Pirsig.
7-31-11 Michigan gains commitment from Chris Wormley.
PLUS, Scout updated their rankings, so there's a little bit of movement there.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg|
*ESPN doesn't rate JUCOs, so Isaac Fruechte is not included in Minnesota's average, Darius Stroud doesn't count against Indiana's average, and Steffon Martin is excluded from Purdue's.
On to the full data, after the jump.
At long last, OH DE Chris Wormley has joined Michigan's class of 2012. He's been favoring Michigan over Ohio State over the rest of the field for quite some time now, and it's a good feeling to finally have him wrapped up.
|4*, #14 DE||
|4*, 80, #16 DE||
4*, 96, #3 SDE,
#3 Ohio, #57 Ovr
Rivals's ranking is the outlier here, and we'll explore a bit why that's the case in a moment. ESPN has him barely outside of their 150 (he's the #16 DE, and the #14 is 101st overall).
The premium sites are split on his height, between 6-4 (Rivals, 24/7) and 6-5 (Scout, ESPN). I would guess that the shorter height is a little closer to accurate, if only because Scout notoriously overrates height. As for weight, there's a wide range with 24/7 Sports all the way down at 225, while the rest of the sites are in the 250/255 range. Take a look at a picture of Wormley and try to convince yourself he's 225. 24/7 Sports is just wrong, yo. ESPN:
He is a kid with good size for a high school prospect with nice height and bulk. His current size may suggest he could out grow the end position and it is possible, but we feel he has the tools to stay at end for the long haul... He is a solid tackler. Wormley is also a good pass rusher. His quickness off the ball helps him, but once in motion he displays a good feel for getting to the quarterback. He is able to attack the shoulder and is active with his weapons and displays the ability to utilize moves like the club and rip as well as the push-pull and will also flash the ability to be able to counter inside.
Tremendous size and ability. Likely a strongside end, but could also play inside. Ideal five-tech. Turned it up another notch in terms of motor and consistent effort as a junior. When we saw him as a sophomore, he just overpowered his opposition. Last year, because I think he saw a few top prospects and, he started to turn up the intensity. He's a naturally massive kid and moves well for that size.
He is indeed naturally massive, to the point where some analysts were worrying he'd grow out of a natural position. Allen lists his strengths as "Disengaging Skills," "Size," and "Strength," while labeling "Lateral Range" as his only weakness. That speaks to a kid who has a lot of natural strength/ability, but isn't going to run anyone down from behind. As a strongside DE or even 3-technique tackle, that shouldn't be much of a problem.
Allen went into more detail in the Detroit News:
"He's a big-bodied kid who gets off the ball pretty well and is a good overall athlete for his size," said Scout.com Midwest Regional Manager Allen Trieu. "I think with his frame and growth potential, he'll be more of a strongside defensive end or five technique or defensive tackle in college. He's not your long, lean, wiry edge rusher like his teammate (Ohio State commitment) Kenny Hayes, but he can project to a couple different spots in a couple different systems."
For the record, he's listed at 6-6, 260 in that article. He's not going to be a terror off the edge, but certainly has the ability to be a pocket-closing defensive end or a defensive tackle who gets serious penetration.
I have seen great plays that put him at the top of others lists. I also see him disappear for long stretches. One game early in the year the headline had fans all worked up about Wormley because he had a number of sacks. In between you'd not know he was on the field.
In that article, Long said he wouldn't mind missing on Wormley, but he quickly changed his tune:
Wormley has moved into that must-have group with McMullen and Adolphus Washington... Washington and Wormley are the unstoppable ones. They are the ones that can dominate games. It is a matter of them letting it go on every play. That is what I see missing. If they are coachable kids, and there is every reason to believe they are, a coach can get them to bring it on every play, they will not be around college football for very long. Wormley is a manchild. His best plays look cartoonish with bodies flying all over the place in his wake. Such a great frame. He can get so much bigger. I don't think he has been in the weightroom much. He doesn't look like it. The word upside is everything in recruiting. Wormley is the epitome of upside.
Long also picked Wormley as one of his "starting 22":
Strong Side Defensive End - Chris Wormley, 6-4, 250, Toledo Whitmer. Wormley is the one kid in this defensive line class who brings me quickly to that most important word in recruiting, upside. Seeing him in shorts and t-shirt is when this kid really impresses the most. He is 250 and looks 225. Where his body can go and still be as athletic and fast as he is right now at 250 is what has everyone so excited about him.
Magnus disagrees with his physical appearance, but does agree on the motor:
First of all, if he was 250 as a sophomore, then he's 265 or 270 in his junior year. It looks like he put on some weight, and it doesn't necessarily look like pure muscle. Secondly, it looks like he's either favoring some part of his body or he just lacks aggression.
The lack of aggression is presumably something that can be coached up, or at least turned into less of a possible problem should Chris move to 3-technique tackle. Either way, there's a reason even the biggest Ohio State homers have been calling him a top-3 prospect in Ohio despite conceding him to Michigan for quite some time: this is an elite-type player to everyone but Rivals. The weird thing is that the local guys seem far higher on Wormley than national pundits, and I'll trust the guys that see him more frequently (especially since they're much higher on him).
The question is the consistency, and whether he can live up to his enormous potential. If he can, I think you'll see Rivals fall more in line with everyone else, and Chris will be a unanimous solid 4-star. The second big question about Chris is what position he ends up playing. Strongside DE and 3-tech tackle are the strongest contenders.
For a kid that we've been hearing about for the past 2-3 years (that's right, he was on the radar even as a freshman), it's a little surprising to see how few offers Chris has received. Of course, there's also a chance that some bigtime schools knew he was either Michigan or Ohio State-bound, and didn't bother sending him an official letter. For an Ohio kid, holding an offer from the Buckeyes is just about all you need to know in order to believe that he's a top prospect. However, the lack of offers is a weird question mark.
That said, he held offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, and his hometown Toledo. He also had interest but no offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Penn State. There's also a chance (as mentioned above) that some of these schools didn't have a definite position for him, and therefore didn't offer.
Scout has sophomore stats:
Had 59 tackles and 12 sacks as a sophomore.
Through three weeks of October last fall, he had 40 tackles and 7 sacks. I have not seen full junior stats for Chris, but he was named defensive player of the year in his district (ahead of his teammate, 2011 OSU signee Ken Hayes). He's also an elite thrower in track - pictured at right.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for Chris, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Chris has plenty of physical gifts, and it was surprising to see him not listed as a 5-star when the initial rankings came out, given how much we've heard about him. That means, of course, that the expectations are high.
With few strongside defensive ends on the roster right now (following the graduation of Ryan Van Bergen after the 2011 season), there's a good chance that he could step in and get some immediate playing time as a true freshman. He's probably not an every-down player at DE, but platooning with another player or two is not out of the question.
Following a freshman year that sees significant playing time, Chris will have an entire offseason to continue molding his body and learning the playbook. That means even more time as a sophomore, more likely as a full-time starter.
As an upperclassman, Chris should be a strong contender for all-conference and even All-American honors. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him leave college early to enter the NFL Draft.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Woo defensive lineman. Michigan still has needs at defensive tackle, quarterback, and receiver. Other than a true DT and a wideout, they can be verrrrry selective about who they accept commitments from. It'll probably be almost exclusively elite prospects from here on out, mixed with a couple sleepers that the staff is high on.
Hi. Remember me?
A day after narrowing his list to Michigan and Butler, 2013 Indiana wing Zak Irvin has committed to John Beilein's Alliance of Six Six Shooters. Michigan has pursued Irvin heavily since his name first popped up on recruiting radars and ended up picking M over the Bulldogs, Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue*.
At the moment Irvin is ranked in the 60-100 range that's becoming usual for Beilein recruits. He's #97 at Rivals and presumably just outside of ESPN's 2013 top 60—he has the same grade as #s 42 through 60. Scout's more pessimistic. He's outside their top 100.
Also like many of Beilein's recent catches, Irvin seems to be on the rise. But first BALLING ALERT:
Irvin's recent AAU performances have caused some to proclaim him a five-star-ish guy. ESPN says he's "almost unguardable" at the high school level because of his range and size, with a "great Division I basketball body" and a "skill level that separates him." Here's ESPN's Joel Francisco:
Irvin is a prototypical 3-man for the high-major level. He has a terrific frame and he’s very athletic, but it’s his ball skills that really caught our eye. He has a knack to score in a variety of ways from the 3-point line as well as off the dribble. He had a couple of notable drives to the basket and he converted a few legitimate pull-up jump shots with a defender right on him. Irvin is a top-30 prospect for his class with continued improvement.
Dylan of UMHoops, who scouted Irvin at Michgian's elite camp, thinks that's a bit generous. They've got more over there, including sufficient video to overwhelm your stick-shaking capacity.
Hypothetically, Irvin closes out recruiting for 2013 unless there is an early departure. Without attrition, Irvin's scholarship will be cleared out by giving Blake McLimans a firm handshake instead of a fifth year. However, Tim Hardaway doesn't seem like a four-year player at this point and it's unknown whether Austin Hatch will be able to continue his basketball career after the diverse and sundry tragedies he has suffered. Even if Hatch is able to play again, he may have to reclassify as a 2014 player. Michigan should probably go forward under the assumption he will not be available in 2013.
In the near future Michigan will try to land big fish Mitch McGary for 2012 and one of three or four point guard targets for 2013. If McGary wriggles free—which is likely—and Hatch does not recover miraculously, they'll have room for the PG and a flexible 2/3/4 sort.
*[At least that's what Rivals says. How heavily those Big Ten schools were actually in pursuit is unknown. For one, Purdue has already locked down 2013 wing and NOTY candidate Basil Smotherman.]
Hoke notes coming on Monday. Apologies for minimal editing, but I'm eager to leave the living hell that is McCormick Place.
Why does Denard smile playing football? "It's a game, and I enjoy playing it. Obviously I'm still playing, so I'm still smiling."
Even though there was a switch in offensive scheme, Denard said his first thought was to do whatever it takes to play. Denard doesn't worry about outside perception that he can't throw. He and his teammates know what he can do, and he'll show it on the field. The timing with receivers is looking good. "We've got some deep routes in there, and we have some routes where they can make a choice and get open. It's a good deal."
The biggest thing Denard has been working on this offseason is his footwork. "Keep my feet underneath me so I can make throws anywhere I want to throw it." Stepping up in the pocket is another adjustment he's making. Getting timing down with receivers is another area for improvement.
The team has been working hard all summer. They're getting bigger, faster, and stronger. "The seniors and I, we organized the workouts and 7-on-7s. That was a big thing for this year." Everybody was ready to participate in the offseason workout.
Denard never got to a point where he was leaning toward leaving Michigan. It was tough when Rich was fired, "That's the guy that recruited me, but at the same time, I was with my teammates and my family." David Molk and Ryan Van Bergen gave him the best advice, along with Mike Barwis. They told him that there's no better school or family than the University of Michigan. After he got fired, Coach Rodriguez told Denard to completely buy in to Hoke's system, and he would continue succeeding. It meant a lot to Denard that he told him to continue buying in. Coach Smith (now at Indiana) also told him to buy in 100%. "I bought into Coach Rod's offense, and I'm buying into this offense."
Brady Hoke's first message to the team was to hold each other accountable. "We're Michigan, and we're supposed to compete for the Big Ten every year." "What we've been doing lately is holding each other accountable." If guys aren't doing what it takes to win a Big Ten Championship, their teammates are on them.
The national attention is different after coming from a small town. "It's alright, it's good. I don't do crazy stuff anyhow" so it's not harmful. He likes being recognized around campus, too. It's easy to ignore media hype. "I don't too much care for the hype."
Asked about the Ohio State/Michigan State clocks: "We do have a countdown for the Western Michigan game, so that's the main thing right now. That's the main thing. That's a big game, we have to prove ourselves." Denard grew up watching the Florida/Florida State rivalry, but the Michigan/"Ohio" game is a much bigger rivalry. "It's the border. We fight for Michigan, and they fight for Ohio."
Denard was nicked up a lot last year, but "playing football, you're gonna have nicks and bruises, so you've gotta play through that."
"It's still going to be exciting, we've still got the guys we had last year." There are explosive receivers, and some good running backs. "I know all of them are gonna be ready to play."
Denard isn't usually a vocal leader, but when he has to speak up, he will.
There was no issue getting guys to come to workouts this year. There was pretty much 100% attendance at voluntary workouts, which was not the case last year.
"You get a feel for when you want to run and when you shouldn't run. If you see an open receiver, don't miss him. You want to get him the ball."
Despite last year's individual success, Denard always maintains drive to improve. "How I look at it is always work like I'm second string or third string." He plays and works out with a hunger to improve.
Denard isn't much of a celebrator, so he's not worried about the effects of the new taunting rules that can take scores of the table.
Denard has gained 5-10 pounds since last season.
"I did a lot last year. It's going to be hard to say I can do any more than I did last year, but I think I can do a little more, I can outdo what I did last year."
Low expectations? "They say the 1997 team was one of the teams that was underrated."
Whenever Darryl Stonum earns his way back on the team, he'll be welcomed. "I want him to be back on the team, but it's up to Coach Hoke."
The offensive line has gotten a lot bigger, but they're still mobile.
Denard's improvement: His arm has always been good, he can throw touch passes and the long ball. His arm strength isn't a question: he mangled one of Kevin's fingers with a pass in practice. It's still bent (pictured at right).
"I honestly feel like we don't have a #1 [receiver]." There are a number of guys that can step up and be the top target on a given day. Still sounds like a blessing and a curse to me.
"Dileo, he's deceptively quick." He did well on returns last year, and is now improving his route running and hands.
Jerald Robinson has good hands and body control.
The freshmen don't work out in the same groups as the returning players, and they can't participate in 7-on-7s due to their schedule. They've come out to play catch with some of the guys, though.
Chris Barnett is an established pass-catching threat, and Kevin's advice is to work on blocking. "It's a long season; if you don't play in the first game, you might play the fifth, sixth, seventh game."
In 7-on-7s, Koger is usually covered by Carvin Johnson or Brandon Herron.
Marvin Robinson is a big hitter. It doesn't take him a long run-up to build power.
Troy's return has brought some enthusiasm to the defense because he's a funny guy, and a fun guy to be around. JT Floyd is back as well. "Troy, he's a veteran, he knows where to be at, when to be there, he knows how to disguise coverages well, he drives on the ball really well.
Carvin Johnson is not the fastest, biggest, or strongest guy. "But he has a knack for making plays, he's always around the ball." Kevin has trust in the safeties to make plays.
There's a lot of competition among the linebackers, and there are spots up for grabs. Whoever plays the best in camp will earn starting positions.
Brandon Herron is a fast guy, and Koger has to beat him with technique, and Demens is a strong guy who you have to beat with separation, because if he gets his hands on you, you're done.
"Look at Wisconsin last year, look how many points they put up during the season. They ran a pro-style offense. They ran tight ends a lot of the time. It's proven that a pro-style offense can put up a lot of points."
The offense wants to control the tempo of the game this year. The defense is ready to get back onto the field whenever they need to, but the offense can control the ball.
Outside of Denard, Roy Roundtree and Junior Hemingway are some of the big play guys. Kevin jokes he'll be happy to catch any passes at all this year because there are so many good options for the offense.
Coach Hecklinski has done a good job with the receivers, making sure they do what they have to do.
A lot of the running backs haven't gotten much game experience, so it's exciting to see who will emerge.
There's been a lot of improvement since last year's defense. The seniors especially are working to leave the school the way they want to be remembered. "We've all been through it together. We know what needs to be done. We don't want to have any problems. We don't want to have it be like last year."
"At the end of the day, we don't want to say that Michigan beat Michigan." What happened in the past is gone, and they're excited about what's going to happen in the future.
Martin likes what he saw in the film from spring practice. Everyone looks excited to play defense, and get out on the football field. "There's a lot of worry; guys were doing a lot of thinking on the field." Now, guys are able to not think and simply execute their assignments.
On Greg Mattison: "The guy eats and breathes excellence." He's a great teacher of the game. Hoke and Mattison have credibility, and have proven that they know what they're talking about.
There's a big emphasis on being tough and hardnosed on defense. Hoke gets in the D-Line's faces specifically, because they're where the defense starts. Everything "starts and ends in the trenches." Previous Championship defenses at Michigan were defined by words like "toughness," etc.
Martin, Van Bergen, and a couple of young guys will get a lot of small-group attention from Coach Hoke in practice. Technique and fundamentals are stressed every day. Hoke, Mattison, and Montgomery are all on the same page and teaching the same things. Hand placement, footwork (down to the inches), hip movement, etc., need to be second-nature to the D-linemen, because they can't be overthinking on the field. The coaches are detail-oriented. They also are learning to adjust to the offensive formation without having to think about it.
"I've never seen more clocks in a building. I always know how many days there are until whatever game it is." It's a constant reminder of what is coming ahead. "We know what we have to do come September 3rd."
It's fun to watch film with Coach Mattison because there's active involvement by people, instead of a lecture-type format. They're always learning, and picking Mattison's brain. "Watching film and seeing me drop back, it just looks funny."
The four-man front makes it easier on the point of attack for the defensive line, because somebody is going to have a one-on-one matchup, and there are fewer double teams.
"His attitude and his mindset has totally gotten better." He was in a bit of a comfort zone before, where he wasn't constantly being pushed to improve, because he was a backup. Now he's being counted on, and has answered the call. He's a key component of the defense, as the 3-tech is a key part of Mattison's defensive scheme. "He answered the call and step up to the play. Q's been doing a great job behind him."
The team likes watching Ravens film, because it's a good comparison to what scheme they're going to be running. Otherwise, Mattison doesn't talk about his NFL success (HALOL Charlie Weis). Watching the guys who are the best at their positions helps the players realize what little things they need to do to improve. "I think all the guys are always picking stuff and trying to make their game better."
The defensive line is doing a good job at the point of attack, but their main room for improvement is making the second move and getting off a block to make plays in the backfield.
There's more accountability among players in the weight room this offseason. The new strength staff also puts an emphasis on getting bigger and reps to failure.
Player roundtable notes from Big Ten Media Days coming as soon as I can type them up. Hopefully 3500 words is enough to tide you over.
This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the out-of-state commits. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at Tim@mgoblog.com, or post them in the comments of this post.
Montgomery Bell Academy
|Montgomery Bell 2011|
|8-26||8PM||@ Louisville Trinity|
|9-16||7PM||Battle Ground Academy|
|9-30||TBA||@ Father Ryan|
|10-28||TBA||@ Pope John Paul II|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Tackle/Guard
Last year, Montgomery Bell Academy went 9-3, losing in the second round of the Tennessee High School State Playoffs. Since Blake is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note on the year.
This season, MBA plays many of the same opponents that they did last year, including Ensworth, who beat them in the playoffs (avenging an earlier loss). Blake is one of the key players on his team, and with a solid season, could see his rankings improve on the recruiting sites. Since he was a first-time starter last year, it's likely he'll show plenty of improvement now that he's gotten his feet wet.
Colerain High School
|10-7||7:30PM||@ Lakota West|
|10-28||7:30PM||@ Oak Hills|
HS Position: Linebacker
Projects as: Strongside Linebacker
Colerain is one of the traditional powers in Ohio High School football, and their 11-1 season last year is another example of that success. However, they lost in the second round of the State Playoffs to rival St. Xavier, ending not only their undefeated streak, but also their season. Bolden notched 90 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 interceptions in the campaign.
Look for the Cardinals to reload for yet another successful campaign, though five players went on to Division-1 colleges after graduation. They also have a tough schedule, starting with an inter-state game against Cocoa (FL), and including a game against fellow Michigan commit Caleb Stacey's Oak Hills squad.
I might get a chance to catch a game of Bolden's, but if not, you'll be able to watch the season opener on ESPN2, so be sure to tune in.
Brush High School
|8-26||7PM||@ Eastlake North|
|10-28||7PM||@ Garfield Heights|
HS Position: Quarterback/Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Wide Receiver
Brush struggled to a 4-6 record last year, with Brown one of the few bright spots at both defensive end and quarterback. He made 49 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 3 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles at defensive end. His quarterback stats are not available.
Brush is looking to rebound in 2011 with a stronger season, and the five close losses last year indicate that they may not be far from a breakthrough of sorts. Brown might switch from quarterback to wideout this year (as some 7-on-7 highlights might indicate), but will continue terrorizing QBs off the edge.
As an underexposed recruit, Brown is somebody that could see his rankings on the recruiting sites rise if he has a dominant senior year. His physical tools are impressive, and putting them to good use could see him rise to 4-star status on all the recruiting sites. It's unlikely that I'll catch any of his games in person this fall. I'm also not positive if the schedule listed by MaxPreps is accurate, as that double-dip against Twinsburg seems a little fishy.
Southview High School
|9-2||7PM||@ Toledo Rogers|
|9-9||7PM||@ Toledo Start|
|9-16||7PM||Napoleon (@ Northview)|
|9-30||8PM||Perrysburg (@ Northview)|
|10-7||7PM||@ Bowling Green|
|10-14||7PM||Whitehouse Anthony Wayne|
HS Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Strong Safety
Like Colerain, Southview completed an undefeated regular season - blowing out many opponents along the way - but was tripped up early in the playoffs, falling in the first round to Twinsburg (alma mater of Zoltan, All Hail Zoltan). Allen finished his junior year with 56 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles on defense, while also recording 20 receptions on the other side of the ball.
This year, Southview will look to take last year's performance to the next level, advancing into the Ohio Playoffs. Allen should be an important part of the defense and the offense if he can stay healthy (he's had hamstring issues in the past).
Since the Sylvania/Toledo area is not a long haul, I might be able to catch a couple of Gant's games in person this fall. With a healthy, successful season, he has a very good chance to move up in the rankings.
Salt Lake City, UT
Highland High School
|8-19||7PM||@ Salt Lake West|
|8-26||7PM||@ Cedar City|
|10-14||7PM||@ Salt Lake East|
HS Position: A-Back
Projects as: Fullback
Highland had a pretty successful 2010 campaign, finishing the year with a 10-4 record and running through the playoffs to a State Championship. Houma played a big role in that championship, rushing for 1200 yards and 9 touchdowns as the dive back in a flexbone offense.
As the reigning State Champs, Highland should expect to have another successful season this fall, despite the loss of a pair of 3-star players to the Pac-12 (Desmond Collins to Oregon State, Nate Fakahafua to Utah). Sione should continue to play a big role in the offense, especially since one of his backfield mates has moved on as well.
Since he plays a position where there are rarely any prospects rated higher than three stars, it's unlikely to see Sione rise that much in the rankings. Compounding that is the fact that he's slightly undersized for his eventual college position, and he'll have to turn in a very impressive campaign in 2011 to see his rankings rise (though he may be able to pass a fullback or two).
Since he's two timezones away, I think it goes without saying that I won't see any games in person this fall (though any readers in the SLC area who want to e-mail game reports, photos, video, etc. are more than welcome to).
St. Edward High School
|St. Edward 2011|
|9-2||TBA||@ Pittsburgh Penn Hills|
|9-10||7:30PM||Youngstown Cardinal Mooney|
|9-24||7PM||Tampa (FL) Jefferson|
|9-30||7PM||@ Youngstown Ursuline|
|10-8||7PM||Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep|
|10-15||7PM||@ Cincinnati St. Xavier|
|10-29||7PM||Cleveland St. Ignatius|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Guard/Tackle
2010 was a good year for one of the tradition powers in Ohio High School Football, as Lakewood St. Edward went 15-0 en route to a State Championship. That was quite the rebound from an extremely disappointing 4-6 campaign in 2009, especially since they played plenty of top competition. Since Kyle is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note.
This year should be interesting for St. Edward, as they lost 5 players to Division-1 ball (and another to FCS school Penn, which I guess technically counts as D-1). However, this year's senior class might be even better, with Kalis joined by a quartet of 3-star commits on the roster. The run-heavy scheme certainly should see success behind Kalis and fellow BCS-bound lineman Tyler Orlosky, who is committed to West Virginia. They have a hell of a schedule, with opponents from four different states.
Cleveland is one of the less-convenient potential stops for the Great FNL Tour of 2011, but I'm hoping to make it to at least one of Kalis's games. I'm not willing to make any promises though.
La Costa Canyon High School
|La Costa Canyon 2011|
|9-16||7PM||@ San Clemente|
|10-21||7PM||Rancho Buena Vista|
|11-4||7PM||@ El Camino|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle
La Costa Canyon had a decent season last year, finishing 8-4 and losing to Oceanside in the CIF Playoff Second Round. Since Erik is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note.
La Costa Canyon is looking to build on last year's success, and have another successful season, taking it to the next level. They did lose a defensive end to Kansas State, which one must assume will weaken their defense.
California is a little too far for an FNL road trip (forgive me), but if any San Diego-area readers want to help keep tabs, my e-mail inbox is open. Erik is already a very highly-regarded prospect, so unless he has a simply dominant senior year, displaying that he has NFL potential as a true left tackle, it's hard to see him moving up the rankings much.
Northmont High School
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Princeton|
|9-10||7PM||@ Cincinnati Moeller|
HS Position: Linebacker
Projects as: Weakside/Middle Linebacker
Northmont missed the State Playoffs last year after a trying season that included four blowout losses (to six wins). Despite team struggles, Kaleb performed pretty well, notching 35 solo tackles and 50 assisted tackles, while playing running back in goal line situations.
No recruited players graduated from Northmont, so this season has a chance to show some improvement. With Kaleb the key component in the defense, Northmont will look to build toward the State Playoffs in 2011.
Kaleb has a range of rankings on the recruiting services, with only Scout deeming him worthy of a fourth star. If he can turn in a physically dominant senior year, there's a good chance for him to rise in the rankings. His height will limit him a bit, but there's no reason he can't scrape into the 4-star range.
I'm hoping to make it to maaaaybe one of Kaleb's games this season, but with so many commits close to home, I may not be able to see him live. Also, there appears to be an error in the schedule posted on Maxpreps, as it shows two consecutive games against Fairmont.
Oak Hills High School
|Oak Hills 2011|
|8-27||TBA||@ Cincinnati La Salle|
|9-23||7:30PM||@ Lakota West|
|10-7||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Sycamore|
HS Position: Offensive Guard/Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Center
Oak Hills had a rough season last year, going 4-6 and missing out on the State Playoffs. Losses to Stacey's future teammates AJ Williams (Sycamore) and Joe Bolden (Colerain) were included. Since Caleb is an offensive lineman, he didn't register any meaningful stats last season.
This season, the slate looks pretty tough again for Oak Hills, but they'll certainly strive to improve upon last year's record. Once again, they close the season against Joe Bolden's Colerain squad.
Caleb is at an interesting point from a rankings perspective. He's a 3-star across all three sites, which unanimously rank him among the guards. HOWEVA, he's slated to be a center in college, and is expected to play that position for his high school team this year to help get acclimated. That means that not only are the recruiting sites going to be scouting him this fall, but they'll be doing it at a new position. Lots of moving parts means lots of opportunity to move in the rankings. Rivals and ESPN only rank two centers in the 4-star range, Scout ranks three (two of whom are committed to Oklahoma), and 24/7 Sports only bothers to rank one center at all.
There's a slight chance I'll see a game or two of Stacey's this fall, but again, there are plenty of other prospects much closer, so I make no promises.
Crete-Monee High School
|8-26||7:30PM||Thornton Fractional South|
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Lincoln-Way West|
|10-7||6PM||@ Rich Central|
|10-22||12PM||@ Rich East|
HS Position: Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback/Safety
Crete-Monee had a decent season last year, finishing with an 8-4 record and a loss to Danville in the third round of the State Playoffs. Anthony was a big part of that success, adding 44 tackles to his 9 interceptions and a forced fumble.
This year, Crete-Monee should be even stronger, with no players from last year's class even present in Rivals's database, much less committed to Division-1 schools. Anthony should be one of the squad's leaders, along with junior teammate WR LaQuon Treadwell, helping take their team to the next level.
Anthony has plenty of potential to move up in the rankings with a good season. He's been pegged as sort of a corner/safety combo by some recruiting sites, so showing that he has the necessary skills to be a high-level corner in college could boost his rankings. With excellent corner size, displaying his abilities on the field is all he needs.
I won't be wishy-washy about whether or not I'm going to see any of his games, as I plan to make exactly one: The night before the Michigan game at Northwestern, Crete-Monee takes on Rich Central. Convenient!
Mentor High School
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Strongside Defensive End
Mentor had an OK season last year, finishing 7-4 with a first-round playoff loss to Lakewood St. Edward (and Strobel's good friend Kyle Kalis) - bookending the season with losses to St. Ed. Strobel had 37 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and a sack for Mentor, and added a pair of fumble recoveries.
This year, the schedule looks just a bit lighter, so Mentor should put together a strong season. Strobel is the headliner of his team, and should be a team leader en route to a successful season.
Despite that, I don't think it's likely that Tom moves around much in the rankings, unless he puts together a monster year statistically (he was held back a bit last year by a trachea injury). A solid 4-star ranking is nothing to be ashamed of, and it seems likely Tom sticks in that range.
I'm not planning to make it to any of Mentor's games this year, but it's always possible that plans change.
Sycamore High School
|8-27||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Withrow|
|9-30||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Princeton|
HS Position: Tight End/Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Tight End
Sycamore had a mediocre season last year, finishing 6-4 on the season and missing out on the State playoffs. The season included a win over Caleb Stacey's Oak Hills but a loss to Joe Bolden's Colerain. AJ didn't rack up many numbers, instead serving primarily as a blocker.
Sycamore graduated a couple BCS-bound players, so it wouldn't be a surprise if their team took a sight step back this year. However, the schedule is a bit lighter with no Colerain, so perhaps they can put together a strong season.
AJ is in a weird position as far as rankings go. He's a huge tight end, but it doesn't sound like there is any plan to have him play tackle. Despite that, he rarely catches any passes. Unless he moves to offensive line (and is ranked there by the recruiting services) or Sycamore's offensive scheme changes to get him the ball a bit more frequently, I doubt AJ is going to move in the rankings.
I have no current plans to make it to a Sycamore game this year.
John R. Buchtel High School
|8-25||7:30PM||@ Massillon Washington|
|9-16||7PM||@ Akron Garfield|
|10-8||12PM||@ Akron North|
|10-21||7PM||@ St. Vincent-St. Mary|
HS Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Safety
Buchtel had a pretty good season last year, falling in the State Finals to Bishop Watterson. The 11-4 final record also included losses to a trio of Catholic Schools. Jarrod was a huge part of his team's success, reeling in 12 interceptions and returning 5 of them for touchdowns. He also had a 98-yard fumble return for touchdown. He recorded about 50 tackles on the year.
This year, Buchtel loses the services of wideout Corey Smith, who would be a senior, but is ineligible to play high school sports (he's participated in four previous years). One of Wilson's compatriots in the defensive backfield, Chevin Meadows, has moved on to Kent State. Despite that, Jarrod is one of the catalysts for his team's success, so there shouldn't be too much dropoff for the Griffins - though they have a brutal start to the year.
Jarrod has put up massive stats in previous years, so it's not a lack of production that is holding him back in the rankings. Because of that, I think it's unlikely he moves much, even if he has another huge year.
I'm not currently planning to attend any Buchtel games this season, but Akron readers are welcome to e-mail me.
Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to Tim@mgoblog.com.