landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Good morning everyone, and thank you for coming. Before today's very special announcement I want to acknowledge the University of Michigan Board of Regents. Their support, their dedicatio,n and their advice during this process was invaluable. Joining us today our region's Bernstein, Ilitch, Dietch, White, and Diggs, and I'm sure the others are busily at their day jobs and watching us on television.
I'm pleased to announce that I have selected Warde Manuel to serve as the next Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics at the University of Michigan. [/clapping.] My work here is now done. [/aughs.]
Warde will begin on March the 14th. Warde knows how to compete and succeed in the classroom and on the field. He is a three-time University of Michigan alumnus with a degree in general studies and a focus in psychology, a Masters in social work, and an MBA from our Ross School of Business. He was a University of Michigan student athlete in football and track and field and played under Bo Schembechler.
I want to thank interim A.D. Jim Hackett for his exemplary service to the athletic department and the University of Michigan. Jim, could you please stand up? [/clapping] For more than a year Jim served with a level of distinction and integrity befitting the University of Michigan's highest values. He accomplished a great deal in a very short time and leaves the department in wonderful shape. He brought us Coach Harbaugh, contract extensions for coaches John Beilein and Kim Barnes-Arico, a new apparel contract with Nike, and most importantly has upheld the high expectations we have for the academic, social, and community success of our student athletes on our 31 teams. Jim's willingness to assist with the A.D. search has helped me identify an outstanding successor.
In addition to him I also think the six other members of the search and advisory committee. I thank student government president Cooper Charlton for advice, and our search consultants Len Perna and Gene DeFillipo from Turnkey for their excellent work. We reached out and solicited broad community input and we set the bar high in our search for a permanent athletic director. We considered a large pool of outstanding candidates. Central criteria included a focus on the success and well-being of our student athletes in the classroom, in their sport, in the Ann Arbor community, and with respect to their health and safety; uncompromising integrity with an absolute commitment to play and win by the rules; competitiveness at the highest levels – at Michigan we strive for league and national championships, every team, every year; a passion for integrating athletics with the entirety of our campus community– we are at our best when our strengths as a university complement and enhance one another; respect and appreciation for the U of M's traditions, including the importance of athletics to our students, our alumni, and our fans. We were looking for an innovative but financially responsible steward for our self-supporting athletic department, and someone who can be a national voice for maintaining and enhancing the collegiate model of athletics.
Warde brings outstanding athletics experience to Michigan and embodies all of those characteristics and values. He has worked in our athletic department under former A.D. Bill Martin. Since then he has served as an A.D. at Buffalo and Connecticut, where his teams have won championships and dramatically improved classroom performance. Michigan athletics is celebrating its 150th anniversary this academic year and our University is gearing up to celebrate it's 200th birthday. Nowhere else are traditions of excellence in academics and athletics measured in centuries. The amazing accomplishments of our teams and student-athletes bring our community together in celebration of the values and success and we are known for worldwide: 56 team national championships, 307 individual national titles, 376 Big Ten championships, and 121 academic All-Americans. I have every confidence that our future will be even brighter, and Warde Manuel is the right individual to lead Michigan athletics into that future. Warde, on behalf of the Michigan family I welcome you, your wife Chrislan, and your family back to Ann Arbor. I look forward to working with you, and let me be the first to say to our next athletic director Go Blue.
[After THE JUMP: Manuel's remarks, in which I will butcher someone’s name and I apologize for that but I think he thanked the entire staff of the University and Google only gets you so far]
Jim Harbaugh presented Warde Manuel with a jersey. pic.twitter.com/FhYCUdNNtL
— Eric Upchurch (@EUpchurchPhoto) January 29, 2016
By all accounts, Warde Manuel won his opening press conference in a blowout. This is usually the way of opening pressers, full as they are of hope and barren as they are of data. There have been hopeful pressers for men so doomed that a nine-foot-tall skeleton with a scythe asked the first question. "HOW EXCITED ARE YOU TO BE HERE?" it intoned in the general direction of Paul Pasqualoni, "AND ISN'T IT ALL ABOUT THE KIDS?"
We've learned over the past five years that winning the press conference has an extremely low correlation with success. Jim Hackett deployed awkward MBA jargon; Dave Brandon sold me a vacuum with no return policy. We have also learned that hiring qualified people has a high correlation with success. Brady Hoke had one good year at BGSU; Jim Harbaugh has built program after program into towering Schembechlerian things.
Warde Manuel is mercifully, finally, obviously qualified. He has run athletic departments at Buffalo and UConn. Before that he spent years working his way up the ranks of Michigan's athletic department. At Buffalo he hired Turner Gill, the only guy to make Buffalo football even vaguely passable. At UConn he was presented Kevin Ollie and didn't screw that up. He hired ND defensive coordinator Bob Diaco to replace Pasqualoni, that after making a run at Pat Narduzzi*. He spearheaded a move to Hockey East for UConn hockey. Everything he's done in the public eye makes sense.
Incredibly, he is the first sitting athletic director to ever get the AD job at Michigan. That aversion to experience was common sense in Don Canham's time when the job of Michigan athletic director barely resembled AD at, say, Purdue. It was anything but by the early 90s, when Tom Goss bombed the department's finances and erected an infamous eyesore. But Michigan persisted with various businessmen, hitting on one who'd get things more or less right and one who would get everything vastly wrong.
The one who got things right, Bill Martin, erased a major deficit and put Michigan on a path towards long-term financial stability. In the context of the athletic department at that juncture, which needed money and classy architecture more than anything, a real estate magnate who built his company from the groud up was qualified. He was also Michigan, but he was qualified first.
Martin's main issue came where he was not qualified: a football coaching search. That search is not like other searches, and it seemed to veer chaotically from one goofy candidate to the next before landing on Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a superficially excellent candidate submarined by many, many things. One of them was the Michigan football host rejecting an organ transplant from a guy who grew up in the "holler."
Manuel has to undo some damage the guy who got everything wrong inflicted. A chunk of that is financial, as the department collected Executive Vice President types like they were limited edition pogs under Brandon. But thanks to Martin and the ever-rising tide of television fees, Manuel should be free to do the athletic department things he's done so well in his previous stops: hiring good people.
And if he references Fielding Yost and this Michigan of ours along the way, all the better. He's qualified first, Michigan second. Jim Harbaugh is also a combination of these things. The bright future of the football program is about to spread to the rest of the department, because the people in charge of things have reasons to be in charge of them.
*[Don't fret about Pasqualoni. His hire was one of the last acts of the previous AD.]
Plantation (FL) American Heritage TE Nick Eubanks wasn't a name on many best-guess lists, but after a late push by Michigan that culminated in an official visit this week, Eubanks pulled the trigger on a commitment yesterday. This is not a case of the Wolverines plucking an under-the-radar prospect away from lower-level programs; Eubanks chose Michigan over Alabama and Florida after the coaches convinced him they have the best program for a tight end:
"I chose Michigan because it's a better fit for me," Eubanks said. "I can play right away as a true freshman. It's best for my future and for my work ethic. Plus coach Harbaugh coached Vernon Davis so I know he knows how to use the tight end. Michigan showed me stuff I've never seen before. Not at Florida or at Alabama. How they throw the ball to their tight end. How they flex the tight end out and use the position as a hybrid. No other school I was considering does that. That shocked me and shook my mind."
Eubanks is the 26th commit in the 2016 class and the second at tight end, joining early enrollee Sean McKeon.
|3*, #29 TE||4*, #9 TE||
4*, 81, #2 TE-H,
4*, 91, #11 TE,
3*, #15 TE,
Eubanks' rankings are tightly bunched—if Rivals extended overall rankings farther, he'd be within the top 300—with the exception of Scout, whose middling three-star ranking is enough to drag his composite ranking onto the 3/4-star fringe.
Eubanks is listed at anywhere between 6'5", 215 pounds (Scout, ESPN) to 6'6", 230 (247). At this stage he's more of an H-back and giant receiver than a true hand-in-the-dirt TE, but he's got the frame to develop into the latter down the road.
While Scout is the outlier in ranking Eubanks, their free evaluation falls in line with other reports, and it depicts a prospect with quite a bit of upside:
EvaluationA tight end with a great frame and the ability to play on the line or to be flexed out. Has great length, he knows how to extend for the football, and he can use that to his advantage. He will fill out, add weight, and get stronger. Solid blocker, but can get better at the point of attack. More comfortable now flexed as a big wide receiver going out for passes. Has good athleticism. Solid hands, but he can be more consistent there.
- Red Zone Weapon
- Running Ability
Areas to Improve
- Blocking Ability
- Hands and Concentration
Eubanks has been firmly on the radar of the top southern schools for a while. Miami's 247 outlet talked up his potential after seeing him at the South Florida Opening Regional last February:
Eubanks is a top athlete at tight end. He moves very well as he goes through drills. When the footballs are flying Eubanks needs to improve his catching ability and concentration. The potential is there for Eubanks to be a special tight end.
In March, Alabama's 247 site listed him as one of three top early TE targets alongside four-stars Kaden Smith and Naseir Upshur, and of the trio they cited Eubanks as having the highest ceiling:
If you are looking for an upside prospect at the tight end position for 2016, there may not be one with a higher ceiling than Eubanks who is freakishly athletic with a frame to put on a lot of good weight. Eubanks names Alabama as his favorite school shortly after being offered in late February and the big target has an eye on the SEC in the early going.
By June, Eubanks got a bump into the Top247, with his prodigious upside noted once again:
Another new addition to the Top247 is Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage tight end Nick Eubanks. The big, athletic Eubanks is raw but he continues to develop rapidly. He's a basketball player that is still finding his way on the football field but his upside is as high as any tight end in the class.
In a big-time matchup last August, Eubanks outperformed a prospect with whom you're quite familiar in Heritage's 19-7 upset over IMG Academy:
American Heritage tight end Nick Eubanks was one of the stars of the game. He accounted for two of American Heritage's touchdowns with the second coming on a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown on the game's final play. The big basketball body out-played five-star tight end Isaac Nauta on the night and made himself very accessible all night long for his quarterback. Alabama is currently the Crystal Ball leader.
Florida-based Scout analyst Corey Bender posted a scouting report on The Victors Board in the wake of Eubanks' commitment; encouragingly, he notes that drops have become less of an issue over time:
Eubanks is everything that colleges are looking for in a modern-day tight end. He's a big, smooth athlete who can really run and rack up yardage after the catch. Eubanks is a legit 6-foot-5, and should really fill out nicely once diving into a college strength and conditioning program. He's a long strider that gets to his spot and sets a target for the quarterback. He does a good job of swinging his head around and making himself available.
He can continue to work on his consistency catching the football, but is much improved in that department from the last time I laid eyes on him. Eubanks put forth the effort and really spent time on his blocking over the offseason, but is more of a threat in the pass game at this stage in his career. He must continue to strengthen up his frame and packing on weight at 215 pounds,.
Overall, this is a tight end prospect with oozes with upside. Eubanks is a field-stretching tight end that fits perfectly in Jim Harbaugh's program in Ann Arbor. He gets up the field like a gazelle, and is equipped with good frame/measurables.
ESPN's evaluation goes into detail on Eubanks' ability to stretch the field:
Target with a clean release, possesses the top-end speed to threaten the intermediate to deep part of the field and present a vertical threat. Flashes ability to locate and settles into pockets working against zone and can use size to help create some separation but needs to continue to develop as route runner. Enough speed to rip off some yards after catch if gets a seam and adequate ability to make first defender miss.
Good hands with ability to extend for the ball. Displays very good body control to adjust to passes thrown off target. With height and leaping ability can be threat downfield in jump-ball situations.
Like everyone else, they say he needs to develop physically to be a plus blocker at the college level, and they believe he can be a productive mismatch-causer in the passing game.
Finally, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan sees him as a great fit in Michigan's offense:
It should come as no surprise with his lean build right now that he is most accomplished as a pass-catcher. He has outstanding hands, and is a good athlete. Those two combine to allow him to make plays downfield. He fields the ball cleanly, and turns upfield right away.
He is a size mismatch for safeties and a speed mismatch for linebackers - all the while possessing the frame to fill out and be a devastating blocker at the point of attack. He's a well-rounded tight end and it's no surprise to see a player with that skillset opt to play in a Jim Harbaugh offense.
Eubanks is an impressive athlete at the position; as long as his hands don't betray him and he maintains that athleticism while adding bulk, he should be very productive as an H-back and eventually tight end in Harbaugh's offense.
Eubanks holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, FAU, FIU, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Mississippi State, Mizzou, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Oregon, Rutgers, South Carolina, Texas, USC, and Wake Forest.
American Heritage is one of the top program in the state of Florida, with their most notable recent recruit being five-star Georgia running back Sony Michel. Michigan has already offered four 2017 prospects from the school: RB Kyshaun Bryan, CB Marco Wilson, and OTs Kai-Leon Herbert and Tedarrell Slaton.
According to 247, Eubanks had 23 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Eubanks has a SPARQ-verified, zero-FAKE 4.69 40 time, which is quite impressive for a tight end.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Even with AJ Williams gone, Michigan is pretty crowded at tight end, so Eubanks should be afforded a redshirt year before he's asked to hit the field. There will be ample opportunity for playing time in 2017, when Jake Butt will be gone; Eubanks will compete with Khalid Hill, Ian Bunting, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and Sean McKeon for a spot on the two-deep. His best bet to see the field early in his career will be as an H-back until he fills out and proves he can be a solid in-line blocker. If he lives up to his ample potential, he should be a versatile threat lining up all over the field.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now stands at 26 commits with one grayshirt and one expected departure still among that number. While WR Nate Johnson is apparently no longer an option for Notre Dame, his place in the class isn't a guarantee, either. That leaves Michigan with seven or so more spots to fill in the class.
The commitment of Eubanks explains why Iowa State suddenly looks like the destination for TE target Chase Allen, who announces his decision today. Michigan is still expected to push for four-star CA TE Devin Asiasi, who's both too good not to take and a potential package deal with four-star DT Boss Tagaloa.
Other top targets include DT Rashan Gary, ATH Jordan Fuller, CB Lavert Hill, WDE Connor Murphy, S Isaiah Simmons, WR Donald Stewart, WR/DB Pie Young, and K Quinn Nordin.
Here's the class as it currently stands:
Nick Eubanks completes this year's most llama-out-of-nowhere recruitment by committing while on a mid-week official:
— GIFTED1⃣ (@Yung2Tall) January 28, 2016
The Iowa State run on Chase Allen's crystal ball is now explained.
Eubanks a four-star to three services. 247 ranks him the #11 TE in the country and a four star; ESPN has him the #2 TE-H (they split their TE rankings) and a four star inside their top 300. Rivals has him a four star just outside their top 250. Scout is the only service to rank him a three-star.
A more informative update is coming.
Floating away [photo: Eric Upchurch|MGoBlog]
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) January 28, 2016
We had heard persistent rumors all season that Cole was on thin ice after mounting violations of a thing that probably wouldn't have been a thing if it happened just once. Or twice. Insiders last summer thought he was already on the rails but around bowl practices it seemed he'd finally put that behind him. Apparently it happened again after/during the bowl trip, and Cole got the Kelly Baraka boot sometime before last week.
Cole saw a little bit of action early on as a special teamer, and some snaps at slot receiver after Grant Perry had a bad first outing. After that he was either injured (Scout, 247) or deep in the doghouse (Rivals) depending on what service you subscribed to. Then around bowl season it seemed he was in the clear and practicing at safety according to comments by Royce Jenkins-Stone. It seems Rivals (and maybe all of them) got this one right.
Damage: The move to safety made plenty of sense; his elite athleticism was badly needed given Michigan's depth chart after next year reads Tyree Kinnel and whatever they get out of this year's haul. Plan on seeing at least one and probably two of the freshmen on the field as everyone tries out for the post-Dymonte/Hill era. And unless some players emerge there I wouldn't be surprised if the coaches were shopping the grad transfer ranks once they've seen the position shake out next spring.
Michigan now has 23 scholarships available. With three special teamers/former walk-ons they don't have to count until fall and seven in the 2016 class enrolled and back-dateable they're not going to have any trouble signing all the guys they want on Wednesday. Expected and the usual unexpected losses should make that a whopping 31(!) available spots for new guys before you have to worry if guys are going to be cut.
[UPDATE: Michigan has 24 spots right now with two to four fifth years who might go through spring trying to earn a spot. We expect 2-4 additional departures if Michigan does go to the 30 number that's been tossed around. -BC]
Announced announcements organized
ma'am may i have this hat dance
Your who-is-announcing-when primer:
- Sometime Friday: MO TE Chase Allen. Michigan, Nebraska, ISU.
- 7 PM, February 1st: NJ CB Jordan Fuller. Michigan, OSU, ND.
- 11 AM, NSD: MI K Quinn Nordin. Michigan, USC.
- Noon, NSD: CA TE Devin Asiasi. Michigan, USC, UCLA, UW.
- Noon, NSD: CA DT Boss Tagaloa. Michigan, USC, UCLA, UW.
- 1 PM, NSD: NJ DE Rashan Gary. Michigan, Ole Miss, USC.
- 2 PM, NSD: AZ DE Connor Murphy. Michigan, USC, Oregon, ASU.
- Unknown, NSD: MI CB Lavert Hill. Michigan, PSU, MSU.
- Unknown, NSD: FL WR Pie Young. Michigan, Louisville, FSU.
- Unknown, NSD: TN WR Nate Johnson. Michigan, Miami.
Murphy's mom in Michigan's corner
AZ DE Connor Murphy got home and gave a couple interviews. He told Brice Marich that his mom was all about Murphy committing right then and there.
“My mom loved the visit,” said Murphy. “My mom wished I would have committed right then and there!”
Brandon Justice also got in touch. Murphy said Ann Arbor impressed:
"Since my brother played in the Pac-12 and I live on the west coast, I've pretty much seen all of the schools I've visited before, but Michigan I was clueless about," he said. "I know it was rated the best college town, and it lived up to the hype."
This is a situation where everything looks good but there's no certainty. He did talk to an Oregon site recently for an article that was vaguely positive. Murphy will announce on Signing Day. He cancelled a planned visit to Alabama this weekend. USC appears to be the main competition.
Fuller tea leaves
NJ CB Jordan Fuller announced he would announce at 7 PM on February 1st. In-homes with his three finalists were completed yesterday, so word could leak out in the near future. Most say it's Michigan or OSU, with OSU a tentative but universal favorite. Fuller's recruitment is the inverse of Murphy's: expected to not end happily for fuzzy reasons.
In those circumstances a recent OSU offer is interesting. The Buckeyes, along with a couple other Power 5 schools, recently threw their hat in the ring for two-star Cinci commit K'Von Wallace. OSU is tight on numbers and was expected to take one more defensive back recruit. If that's related (and it is not necessarily so) that doesn't mean that OSU thinks they'll lose Fuller; it might mean they want to cover their bases.
Movin' on up with Bossiasi
Ace informs be that I should have made this BAWSEiasi because of rappists
Let's make a sportsmanteau out of CA TE Devin Asiasi and CA DT Boss Tagaloa because this is one package deal that seems likely to come to fruition. Yeah.
Anyway you'll never guess who the Washington 247 mods believe leads for them. Yep: Washington, and they will fight you if you believe otherwise. Interestingly enough, they're under the impression that Michigan is the competition here, and that was before the duo's official to Ann Arbor.
After that official Michigan appears to be picking up steam. Webb posted a slice of promising information late last night:
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 28, 2016
A poster on the 247 board has information very similar to Sam's*: word around De La Salle is that Bossiasi is telling people Michigan is the pick. DOTMAN, a mod there, also suggested Asiasi is trending to Michigan. Circumstantial evidence: Tagaloa cancelled a midweek visit to Cal, and Asiasi is not going to Alabama.
But even if Michigan is the favorite of both guys the trick is convincing Tagaloa's family to let him go across the country. A USC visit this weekend also stands in the way. Lotta ins, lotta outs here.
*[He was put under suspicion since he said something right after that Webb article, but he pointed out a week-old post in which he said something similar. Credible? I think so.]
[After THE JUMP: radical reshift of Michigan's WR/TE board, a few visits, best guess list.]