there would have to be some to wash away
|WHAT||USA vs Ghana|
|WHERE||Arena das Dunas
|WHEN||6 PM Eastern
SO. IT IS TIME. I'VE GOT SEVEN LIVES LEFT, BUDDY
THE THEM: Bête noires
Quail and quake at the USA's World Cup nemesis: Ghana. The Black Stars' ongoing revenge for Freddy Adu has been sporadic but ruthless, just like their team. I took in their final warmup friendly against South Korea* and was mostly unimpressed, but Ghana just kept scoring goals despite my opinion of their overall play.
If you remember anything about the USA's previous matchups with Ghana, the way those goals went down will be no surprise: transition. Ghana's second was in fact a virtual replay of Ricardo Clark's disaster from four years ago, albeit with a much greater case for a foul. Of the four goals that the Black Stars have scored at the US's expense, two were derf giveaways in the USA's defensive third, one was a long ball over the top on which the USA's slow and aging 2010 central defense corps was exposed, and the fourth was a ridiculous penalty issued against Oguchi Onyewu.
Transition: avoid it at all costs.
With the theme and many of the players the same guys the US took on four years ago, Ghana will feel much like they did in 2010. This was not necessarily the case until an injury.
While Abdul Waris is not officially ruled out it seems unlikely anyone can recover from a torn quad in under a week. This rules out the 4-4-2 they ran a lot of in qualifying; expect the 4-2-3-1 that is world's default at the moment and what Ghana ran in 2010, with Kevin Prince Boateng ranging underneath Gyan. Via The Shin Guardian, a likely lineup:
GOALIE: This should be an area of advantage for the US; Ghana's probable starter plays in the South African league. 2010 starter Richard Kingson wasn't elite but was a much more established player, at least for Ghana.
DEFENSE: Projected left back Kwadwo Asamoah isn't as out of position as you may have heard—he's more of a wing-back for his club despite playing most of his time with the national team at central midfield. He is extremely dangerous.
The center backs are the same guys the US took on four years ago, and they're a bit foul prone and tend to get dragged out of position. South Korea was able to generate a number of dangerous chances that they couldn't quite finish as Ghana got pulled out of shape.
The right back plays in Tunisia, and is a little bugger at 5'7"; he's quick and gets in on opponents but might have difficulty with the USA's burly attackers.
MIDFIELD: You remember Prince-Boateng and Essien; though they're getting a bit up in years and Essien's had some injury problems recently. If you don't, Boeteng is the Ghanaian version of Bradley: a dynamic box-to-box midfielder who could easily be deployed as a holder but has found his niche further up the field. He will be the guy trying to get the ball off Beckerman or one of the central defenders.
Essien is a version of Jones… a much, much better version of Jones. Imagine if when Jones pressed forward he was a consistently excellent passer. Essien missed the previous World Cup and has dealt with injuries and declining form; after being a fixture for Chelsea for forever he moved to AC Milan in January and only had seven appearances.
Rabiu is a basic defensive mid.
Andre Ayew will be one of the wing midfielders; he's a regular for Marseille but a seemingly good matchup for DaMarcus Beasley, who was Ayew in a previous existence. The other will be either Ayew's brother Jordan or Sulley Muntari; Muntari is the better player but more of a central mid. If they go with Muntari it'll be on Asamoah to get upfield for with; unfortunately, he's plenty capable of that.
let's not this
FORWARD: Gyan. Guy is doom on a stick if you let him set up, and he has the kind of ability to take a nothing ball against a defender and turn it into a lethal shot. He's been playing in the Qatari league, too: Brazil is like a meat locker to him.
*[Previous friendlies are not helpful here; while they did get basically run off the field by the Netherlands the South Korea game saw ten changes—ie, everyone who played against the Dutch won't be playing against the USA.]
After a strong performance against Nigeria in a formation that makes sense for the USA to replicate, the expectation here is for the US to run out the same 11, and run the same Christmas-tree-to-asymmetric 4-3-3 formation.
DEFENSE: Beasley, Besler, Cameron, Johnson.
While the prospect of Portugal flipping Ronaldo to Beasley's side and just having their ubermensch plow Run DMB over is alarming, Ghana's Andre Ayew is a much more comfortable matchup for the USA's still somewhat makeshift left back. Ayew is a quick little bugger who Beasley can go toe-to-toe with, and not get outrun by.
Besler and Cameron draw the Gyan assignment; hopefully they'll be better equipped to cope with his speed and physicality. Last time out it was a 24-year old Gyan against 30 and 31 year old US center backs; this time Gyan is going up against guys almost exactly as old as him, and considerably more mobile. Consider the ill-fated Bocanegra-at-left-back experiment versus Cameron starting 74 of Stoke's last 78 EPL games, mostly at right back.
The tactics should be set up to shield the center backs from Prince-Boateng… most of the time. When the US loses its shape and they don't have their square o' protection set up, communication between the two center backs will be key. It seems like Besler is the designated guy to step up while Cameron sweeps behind.
Fabian Johnson draws either Jordan Ayew, he of the recent hat trick but previous indifferent national team career, or Muntari, who is left footed but more of a central midfielder. Either way he will surge forward and the US must be prepared to cover.
THIS IS MY BALL. THERE ARE MANY LIKE IT BUT THIS ONE IS MINE. MY BALL IS MY BEST FRIEND. IT IS MY LI—OH SHIT
MIDFIELD: Beckerman, Jones, Bedoya, Bradley
Beckerman, Jones, and Bradley are the key to this game. In possession, they have to give each other options and watch for Ghana's sporadic but incredibly effective pressing.
While Beckerman had one bad turnover in the Nigeria game, his entire career is built around being in the place he's supposed to be and playing the simple ball away from pressure to allow his team the opportunity to retain possession and build an attack. It's no exaggeration to say that this is the culmination of his career. The pressure will be intense.
Jones will rove as he is wont to do; his most important role in this one is as the break-in-case-of-fire axe, the USA's OH SHIT button. As such he definitely shouldn't be putting himself in positions like the on that occasioned his impressive 70-yard recovery run against Nigeria; he can range forward when warranted but he should be the one laying it off and waiting instead of trying to burst forward himself. Jones has always been a guy whose offensive ambitions exceed his grasp; that's the last bit of wildness the US would fear from him.
Bedoya's main role is to work for the team and provide width that allows Johnson to shoot upfield inside of him.
And Bradley. Here's Michael Essien. Be him, and outplay him. No problem. Part of the Clark disaster linked above was a four-years-younger Bradley putting Clark in a bad position. He's been a fixture at Roma, he's the guy the USA and his club team are built around, he broke the damn beep test. Now it is time to demonstrate that you are Michael Bradley and that means something.
This was Gyan-like
FORWARD: Altidore, Dempsey
Altidore's flash of brilliance against Nigeria is a hopeful sign; more hopeful yet is the consistently quality hold-up work he's put in against the Turks and the Super Eagles. He's put the ball on Dempsey's boot a number of times, and he has worked hard even when the ball wasn't going in for him. The US figures to boot it upfield more than they have been, so his ability to get down the channels* will figure in against Ghana outside backs who figure to get upfield.
Meanwhile, Dempsey has been off. He's been provided numerous opportunities to create something by Bradley and his first touch let him down consistently in the Send Off Series. He did have a near goal late against Nigeria that he created with fancy footwork; even on that it seemed like a layoff to Altidore for another tap in was the move. Dempsey's footwork earned him a penalty in the 2010 game against these center backs, and he should be a handful for the same gentlemen.
*[IE: run diagonally from the center of the field to one of the corners, hopefully getting and retaining possession and perhaps dragging one the the central defenders with you.]
SUBS: If the US is leading the only subs that make sense will be striker swaps. They're playing all their midfielders who have a defensive edge already. Pulling Dempsey, who doesn't work on defense much, for a fresh guy who can press from the front would make sense—Johannsson or possibly Diskerud.
Tied or behind, Beckerman could be sacrificed for either Diskerud or one of the strikers, with Bradley withdrawing and the US bombing forward with its centerbacks exposed; Zusi would likely come on for Bedoya.
KEYS OTHER THAN SCORING MORE GOALPOINTS
Don't get caught with the ball on defense. For all the talk about becoming more of a possession team, if there's a doubt against these guys, just punt it upfield. As much as possible, make Ghana try to break you down.
Don't get dragged too far out of shape without a really good reason. Looking mostly at Jones and Bedoya here, as they will be pushing forward and also have extensive defensive responsibilities. The 23 selected makes this even more imperative, since there's a high chance Beckerman takes a tactical yellow card at some point, leaving him exposed for however long he's got after that.
Defend and counter… mostly. Sit deep against a fast team, keep your shape, funnel them to the outside, and look to shoot upfield when the ball is turned over. The US has center backs who can make a long pass and two box to box midfielders who can carry it upfield. Look for a breakthrough while denying Ghana's break and then see if you need to make changes later.
Press high when afforded the opportunity. The US has a counter-attacking trick or two up its sleeve, as well. Bradley has a terrific knock for perceiving when he can dispossess a guy in a dangerous spot, and the US has generated chances the last two games off of that. Bradley's ability to disrupt the Ghana attack from the front is a major asset.
WIN THE GAME. #winthegame
SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Alternative Title: O’Bannon… You Came And You Sued For Injunction…
Alternative Alternative Title: Selling Little Bottles of OLB #9
The O’Bannon antitrust trial started this week, and because trials are fun and listening to the NCAA’s lawyers is amusing as hell, let’s talk about it. To properly understand this, we have to go back to the year 1890 and the passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act…
Sweet tapdancing hell we are NOT doing this again. We’re not going back to freeking nineteenth century.
Oh come on, this stuff is interesting.
I just died of boredom.
Fine. But we at least have to go back to the year 1995. Ed O’Bannon is the best player in college basketball; he averages 20.4 points and 8.3 boards and wins the Wooden award, and his UCLA Bruins win the national title. So that was cool. Then, a decade later, a younger relative showed O’Bannon a copy of EA Sports’ NCAA 2007, which contained some classic teams, including the 1994-95 UCLA Bruins. O’Bannon noticed that (a) he was in that game, and (b) he hadn’t been paid anything for his appearance in the game. This, he deduced, was crap.
But he waived his rights to get paid for that, right?
Indeed. All athletes, before they play a single second, have to sign a waiver that relinquishes any rights they have in their likeness. The NCAA can use any player’s image for whatever the NCAA sees fit, and owes the athlete nothing. In fact, as you may know, if players DO get paid for their likenesses during their playing careers, they get suspended for an entire season. No, wait, that’s pot. You get suspended for one half of one game. But still, athletes can’t get paid.
There is, however, a way to get around that waiver. If the NCAA violated the law in forcing O’Bannon and other athletes to waive those rights, the waiver are invalid. If only such a law was passed during the Harrison Administration (NNTHA) that Bolded Disembodied Alter-Ego would let me discuss…
Sigh. Fine, just make it quick.
|Other plaintiff's attorney|
WOO. The Sherman Antitrust Act makes certain anticompetitive behaviors by entities that have dominant positions in a given market illegal. It’s not against the law to create a monopoly, but if you have one, you can’t use it to restrain trade or hurt consumers. If you’re Microsoft, you can install Windows on 80% of all computers, and that’s not a problem. If you use that 80% market share to bundle everything with Internet Explorer so people won’t use Netscape Navigator, that IS a problem.
Yes, the problems of the 1990s were bizarre in hindsight.
And what exactly are the plaintiffs whining about?
When athletes start playing, they have to sign a waiver that surrenders all of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) rights to the NCAA. The NCAA can then use those rights however they see fit without compensating the athletes in any way. Two ways they use athletes’ NIL rights are in licensing for video games and licensing for live television broadcasts of games, promos, etc.
For video games, it’s a pretty easy case to make. The NCAA used to grant EA Sports the right to develop and sell video games with all of the FBS teams and players, and in exchange EA Sports would add a little depth to the Scrooge McDuck coin vault swimming pool. The NCAA has tried, half-heartedly, to argue that it is a coincidence that the rosters of every college team have every player with the appropriate height, weight, position, number, skin color, athletic characteristics, and general appearance. This issue bleeds over into other not-about-Player-X-but-definitely-about-Player-X stuff like jersey sales; sure, Michigan wasn’t selling Denard jerseys. But they were selling Denard jerseys.
The other issue is television rights. Right now, conferences sign television deals with networks, networks televise games, networks pay conferences large sums of money, conferences distribute that money among the member schools, and member schools give players… uh… the satisfaction of a job well done. O’Bannon is arguing that part of the value of those broadcasts are the result of the NIL rights that the players have to sign over to the NCAA.
[AFTER THE JUMP: More of what we're talking about here]
World Cup stuff. LET'S GOOOOOOO
Zonal Marking has previews for the entire group, and despite the late shift by the US they are right on point with theirs.
The holding midfielder could still be Jones, if Klinsmann is adventurous, but Kyle Beckerman came into the side against Nigeria, having also played there against Mexico, and is a much better fit. Playing at the base of a diamond is a specialist role, and Klinsmann is fortunate to be able to call upon Beckerman, who has been playing in that position for Real Salt Lake, where he is captain.
The 2010 squad was packed with youth, and therefore it’s no surprise that the majority of players have retained their places as they’ve gained more experience. But as Ghana’s reputation has grown, they’ve been forced to adapt to different challenges. When they were the underdogs, they could sit back, remain compact and counter-attack extremely swiftly. Now opponents are aware of that threat, they’re forced to become more proactive, but lack the creativity and incision to dominate games and score goals.
The Ghanian friendly against South Korea could not have echoed that evaluation more closely; Ghana spent most of the game watching South Korea play around with the ball and not quite score, and then they executed ruthlessly—and somewhat fortunately—on the break. This is a game in which hoofing it upfield under pressure is understandable.
Note that Ghana has probably lost wing/forward Majeed Waris, who tore a quad in that game. The guy who replaced him scored a hat trick, but Waris was first choice and played well in qualifying.
Portugal always have roughly the same style, roughly the same strengths and weaknesses, and roughly the same chance of winning the competition. It’s no different this time around. Portugal’s starting XI for World Cup 2014 is extremely similar to their starting XI for Euro 2012, and it’s a familiar story – solid defence, talented central midfield, dangerous wide players, no prolific striker.
Talented players everywhere, but guaranteed cohesion nowhere. It feels like there’s a World Cup-winning XI somewhere in this side, and if Low had infinite friendlies to work out who works well together, he’d eventually find the winning combination.
There is no possibility that this World Cup will cast itself in Garrincha’s image more than Pelé’s. But if his spirit could just touch it a little. If the next month could just remind us that FIFA’s agenda is not all that soccer can be.
And here's an excellent and informative breakdown of how the US played against Nigeria and how important it is to keep things tight at the back:
Let's compare things to other things. The perennial easy post is back in force thanks to the unfamiliarity of where soccer nations fit in everyone's pantheon. Crimson Quarry takes a swing at comparing World Cup outfits to Big Ten basketball programs:
The Fab Five was a phenomenon in the 1990s, and the Wolverines made two title games but lost. Meanwhile, Total Football was a phenomenon in the 1970s for the Netherlands, who also made it to two World Cup finals and lost both. Since then, both teams have made it to the finals another time, but lost in the process. In addition, both have recently had strong offenses with suspect defenses, and love to refer to their teams by the colors of their jerseys. "Hup Holland" is basically the Dutch equivalent of "Go Blue." Plus, the state of Michigan even has a city called Holland. It makes too much sense.
That's a swing and a miss, from my perspective. Argentina is where it's at: offensively enthralling, weak on defense, had a moment of glory in the 80s.
Speaking of Indiana. IU QB Tre Roberson is transferring:
"We appreciate and thank Tre for his contributions to our football program both on and off the field," Wilson said. "He is an outstanding player and a great young man. We wish him well as he moves forward with his career."
Normally that would be a who-cares blip but after last year when Roberson came in for Sudfeld and nearly drove Indiana to a win, not so much. Taking the dual threat option away from the Hoosiers makes their offense considerably less scary.
Wait, what? Jeff Goodman has a list of the best developers of talent in the college basketball coaching ranks. John Beilein slides in at #3:
3) John Beilein, Michigan Wolverines: He’s starting to churn out NBA guys lately -- Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., and Nik Stauskas, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III this year. “Player development,” said one NBA scout. “Bottom line. He works on players' individual games. There’s a lot of shooting, of course, but every practice he takes 20 or so minutes to focus on getting guys better.”
This makes plenty of sense, as Beilein's made a specialty of making three-stars into early entries starting with the Burke/Hardaway class, and with Caris LeVert on the horizon Michigan will have dumped six guys into the NBA in three years, only one of whom was particularly hyped when he committed—McGary.
That makes sense. The rest of the list… hoo boy. #2 is Ben Howland who is unemployed at the moment. #4 is Tom Izzo, because… uh… Draymond? I mean, when your list of top NBA developers has an entry that starts like this…
Izzo doesn’t necessarily churn out a ton of NBA guys
…you may want to re-evaluate your list.
Calipari also shows up, because he doesn't tear many ACLs.
That's one way to approach it. Miami has decided they can sell more tickets by getting people to go to fewer games.
It's basically a two-game package of the FSU game and the North Carolina game, comparable to Michigan's mini-packages with Penn State and anything else except incrementally more desperate.
Come on down. Sounds like the Michigan Elite Camp couldn't have gone much better from a recruiting standpoint. UMHoops caught up with Derryck Thornton, Jr.:
“It was probably my best visit, it was great,” Thornton reiterated. “The staff did a great job so that was one of my better visits, if not the best one.” …
“I’m going to wait for my dad to get back and we’re going to talk about that soon,” Thornton responded when asked if he’d think about committing early. “I’m not sure, but I think I’m willing to commit and make the early decision.”
Rivals echoes the confidence($) you might have on their message board—Thornton's dad responded to a question about whether Battle and Thornton will end up in Ann Arbor and got the response "high"—and I'm pretty sure one of the Thorntons—probably the elder—registered for a Scout account so he could assert that Thornton would not stay on the West Coast. It would be excellent to get a commitment by the end of summer.
Meanwhile, Tyus Battle was also impressed…
“Michigan was awesome, we had a great time,” Gary said. “Tyus really enjoyed the visit. The coaching staff is very thorough. We really enjoyed their presentation and the campus and the way they would use Tyus. Obviously, academically Michigan is something we like a lot.”
…but doesn't seem like he's anywhere near as likely to drop in the near future. The Big Blue death star looms:
“We’re trying to really focus on Kentucky right now,”Gary Battle told SNY.tv by phone. “That’s always been something we had planned to do and Cal had expressed some high interest in the kid and he’s always wanted to go and check it out.”
Battle will be a… wait for it… battle. If Michigan can secure Thornton, the two guys have said they want to play together. Battle's father:
“And for Tyus, I think a lot of guys want to play with Tyus but Derryck definitely, he’s an easy kid to want to play with as well according to Tyus. They were pretty excited about it cause they consider each other brothers and have known each other for a long time.”
Let's hope that package stays together. FWIW, Battle's father flat-out stated "I think Derryck's going to Michigan."
Given all this, it'll be interesting to see what happens on June 15th. Cassius Winston has checked the offer boxes and is pretty much a five star himself, and KY PG Quentin Goodin says he expects an offer too. If I had to bet, I'd say he ends up disappointed. Winston is on another level and instate. He probably gets one.
Hello, eh. Hockey announces their four late additions: Tony Calderone, Sam Piazza, Niko Porikos, and Alex Talcott. (They're still working on Zach Werenski's accelerated entry, it appears.) The release is the usual but it does give you some indication of where these guys might slot in on the depth chart. Talcott gets "depth" and "energy" mentions and Porikos is compared to Andrew Sinelli; they seem like guys for down the road.
"Tony comes here with the reputation of a player who puts numbers up and has a great shot," associate head coach Billy Powers said. "Offensively, we expect Tony to add to his game here. He's a skilled offensive player who has had two good years in the USHL"
"Sam is a defenseman who is not afraid to join the rush," Powers said. "He's got great offensive instincts and we're hoping that he adds some offense at the blue line. We're excited that Sam will have an opportunity to show what he can do early on."
…on the other hand, should compete for spots this fall. The four just announced join Cutler Martin, Dexter Dancs, and Dylan Larkin as incoming freshmen. Chris Heisenberg's listing Werenski as a 2014 recruit, but Michigan likely cannot announce that until he's on campus.
Three years after suffering a gruesome career-ending injury in 2005, former Alabama star Tyrone Prothro wrote a book, Catch & Hold. He wanted to include some action shots from his playing career, but upon contacting a university photographer he learned he'd have to buy the images from the school's website for $10 apiece. So, he didn't include them.
Uh… wow. I bet that's just for a download and doesn't even include redistribution rights. Athletes! Do we have a picture of you? You can use it for free. I would like to thank Kevin Trahan for blowing up the NCAA's constant assertions that "hey, you get stuff!" is anything approximating a legal defense.
Oh man. Ramzy instructs you how not to be an asshole to recruits. I do not want to get on the ol' high horse because I've seen my share of miserable awful things from Michigan fans—we have it just as bad—and the linked piece is a fine, fine intra-fanbase immolation. But… wow.
AIN'T NO REGULATIONS AGAINST CHILD BRIDES AMIRITE
Maybe 95% as bad.
Cool Story, Br-- Wait, That's Legitimately Cool
Michigan pulled in a commitment from four-star NJ OT Grant Newsome yesterday—his commitment post is here if you missed it—and shortly thereafter we learned you don't want to mess with Grant Newsome or anyone related to Grant Newsome:
Grant Newsome has a cool story, too. Dad was secret service during W. Bush presidency. Grant has eaten at the White House w the President
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Nor would you want to mess with his favorite historical figure:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) June 11, 2014
Chamberlain was a professor with no formal education in military strategy who nonetheless rose to the rank of brigadier general, earning the Medal of Honor for his heroics at Gettysburg, then receiving the great honor of commanding the Union troops for Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He later served four terms as the Governor of Maine. Solid choice, Mr. Newsome.
Fun facts that are actually fun aside, Newsome is now putting on his recruiting hat, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"(Recruiting other players to Michigan) is a role I plan to take head on," he said. "You want to surround yourself with the best players possible, and knowing you can have a hand in that makes me want to do what I can to help get some more top players on board. I think the #1 target for me right away is going to be Chris Clark out of Avon in Connecticut. I think he's a player that would be a great fit at Michigan and I know he's really interested in us. He's going to be the first guy I contact."
In addition to all of this, Newsome is a highly touted offensive tackle with huge upside. Consider me a fan.
no, not this guy. he can stop preaching posthaste.
We've been on the "don't tweet at recruits" warpath for a long time around here, but there no way I can't link Ramzy's evisceration of those who think they're somehow making a difference—or somehow better informed than the coaches—and while he mentions the Dick Costolo incident, most of it is a valiant effort to better his program's fanbase:
Fans of irony will love Jeff's twitter feed which - in addition to all of the assholery - is full of pleas from him to others begging them to stop tweeting at him. [Ed: Jeff deleted his Twitter account shortly after this article was published]
That's because tweeting at strangers and telling them what you would like them to do with their lives is creepy. Always. There are no exceptions to this rule, and those who break it are categorically assholes.
You'll have to click through to see Jeff's remarkable Twitter feed, as well as Ramzy using every possible form of the word "asshole" in truly glorious fashion. There's also a section on how to properly react to verbal commitments. Read the whole damn thing.
Surprise, It's A Running Backs Section
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick took a two-day trip to Ann Arbor this week, striking the pose in Desmond Howard's legacy jersey and receiving a downright understated Fred Jackson-ism, per Sam Webb ($):
“I spent a lot of time with the players just trying to get a certain feel for the place,” said Patrick. “Wilton Speight, Devin Gardner… a lot of them. I (also) spent time with Coach Nuss and Coach Jackson. They showed me a video of what they are going to be doing next year, and a video of what I’ve done in the past. They compared the two and showed me how I could fit in and stuff.”
“(Coach Jackson) said I remind him of (Tim) Biakabutuka.”
I'm not seeing "...but fast," and now I'm a little worried about Freddie Jax, you guys. Patrick added that the Ty Isaac transfer won't affect his opinion of Michigan, and the visit "definitely improved their chances." It's still going to be tough to pluck him from Florida (especially FSU), but this visit moved the needle, at the very least.
With the Sound Mind Sound Body camp underway, a lot of in-state prospects are giving updates on their recruitments, Cass Tech RB Mike Weber included. He told GBW's Josh Newkirk that the change in offensive coordinators made a big difference in his view of Michigan, and for good reason ($):
“When Michigan got the commit of Damian Harris, they kind of stopped recruiting me,” Weber admitted. “I guess that’s what their offense coordinator wanted. So Michigan wasn’t really on me like that. So I wasn’t really interested in Michigan. But when they fired their offensive coordinator and [Coach Nussmeier] came in, he kind of came straight to Cass and told me how he wanted me.
“So I am back on [with Michigan] now.”
Weber also said Michigan will receive one of his official visits. Michigan still lags behind his top three of MSU, OSU, and Wisconsin, but it feels like the gap is narrowing, and with how frequently he's been to campus lately that momentum may continue building.
2015 Linebacker Update
Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson has been considered a heavy lean to both Michigan and MSU over the course of his recruitment, and now he's saying the schools are in a dead heat, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It’s just hard to say, they’re so, they’re kind of neck and neck,” Thompson said of the two in-state powers.
“Michigan, it’s the legacy, the history. Michigan State it’s the defense, Coach (Mark) Dantonio and the way he focuses on the relationships with the players.”
If one program has a slight edge, it appears to be the Spartans; Thompson stated flat-out they're recruiting him harder than anyone. He plans to decide before his senior season begins, so it's getting to be crunch time if U-M wants to lock up a top-flight prospect who happens to be a Michigan legacy.
Four-star IN OLB Asmar Bilal told Wiltfong that Notre Dame is his team to beat, and he's taking a trip to South Bend with his mother on Thursday; Michigan will get a shot to impress mom and son, as well, as they'll be on campus on June 20th ($):
“Pretty much the same thing with Notre Dame,” Bilal said of what he’s looking forward to at Michigan. “Getting my mom involved and showing here what I’ve seen and seeing more. Coach (Greg) Mattison came down here twice so I want to go up there again. I want to get as much information as I can to further my decision.”
Wiltfong added that Michigan is "likely the biggest challenger" to ND.
Four-star UT OLB Osa Masina told The Wolverine "I still love Michigan," and he's trying to make it back to Ann Arbor for this summer's BBQ at the Big House, but there's also a note at the bottom from the UCLA Rivals site stating the Bruins appear to be the current favorite, and Utah is also a major threat ($). If U-M can't get Masina on campus this summer, I won't be too optimistic about their chances.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star OLB Daelin Hayes talked to Lorenz about his current comfort level with the coaching staff ($):
"I'm talking to Coach Singletary and Coach Jackson about once a week," he said. "I'm just working on building a relationship with their staff. I talk with them about different ways I can try to make myself better, and working on ways to build our relationship. It's just civil, regular talk. I can talk to them like I talk to my coaches at OLSM."
I'd call that a good sign.
The initial Scout 300 for the 2016 class came out this week, and Michigan's lone commit, Erik Swenson, ranks as the #8 offensive tackle and #86 overall prospect. So many prospects with early Michigan interest are on the list that it's best just to click through if you'd like to see where they land. The top-ranked in-state prospect is Hayes, who comes in at #67 overall, one spot behind...
OH OLB Brendan Ferns, brother of Michael, who just pulled in a couple major offers, per Scout's Bill Greene ($):
"Getting Oklahoma and Ohio State within seven days is pretty special, and it's kind of hard to believe," he admitted. "Things are picking up and it's been crazy, but fun for me. I think I'm going to concentrate on basketball the few days with my school team, so I'm going to put recruiting aside for a while."
"I won't be making a decision anytime soon at all, but it will be before my senior season, not my junior season," Ferns stressed.
That last quote is important, as U-M fans have increasingly wondered when Ferns will get an offer, especially as he adds offers from rival programs. There's plenty of time for Michigan to continue evaluating him, and the younger Ferns has said previously that the presence of his brother will be a factor if an offer comes through. Patience, grasshoppers.
2016 four-star OH WR Justin Layne took part in Michigan's basketball camp last weekend—he's still considering both sports for college, though he's leaning towards football—and he told Sam Webb two schools currently stand out for him ($):
Sam Webb: What schools have you offered you scholarships so far besides Michigan?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Miami, Florida and West Virginia.”
Sam Webb: Have any of those schools started sticking out for you yet?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State and…that is it for right now.”
A caveat is required: Layne grew up a fan of Ohio State, and if they offer expect them to leap into contention.
Another rising junior from Ohio, St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, placed Michigan in his top three, per Bill Greene ($):
"I would say Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan are my top three right now," he explained. "With Ohio State, it's obviously my home state and I love Coach (Urban) Meyer. It just feels like home for me when I'm here, and I will be coming back here again this summer to visit."
"Michigan has a great program, and (assistant coach) Greg Mattison is a great guy," he stressed. "It feels like family up there, and it's a lot like Ignatius in that regard. I will be at Michigan's camp on June 17."
The Buckeyes are considered the heavy early favorite, but Eichenberg said he's in no hurry to make a decision.
If you missed it, Brandon posted an update last night on U-M's latest 2016 offer, four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur.
Whenever you're feeling down about the football program, repeat this to yourself: At least we're not Florida.
Please be on his birth certificate RT @JimmyDetail: 2016 CB Greedy Williams picked up Texas A&M offer a couple of days ago.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 11, 2014
Sadly, it's not, but that's still the best nickname for a cornerback... ever? Leaning towards ever.
Name: Naseir Upshur
Position: Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6’4" / 232 lbs.
Location: Imhotep Institute - Philadelphia, PA (2016)
Offers: Arizona State, South Carolina, Arizona, Cincinatti, UConn, Illinois, Maryland, UMass, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Western Michigan
Rating: ★★★★ .9337 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #166 NAT / #5 TE (247 Composite)
Michigan has extended it's fourth offer to a 2016 tight end prospect in Pennsylvania product Nasier Upshur. Upshur has been in contact with the Michigan staff, Coach Ferrigno specifically, since his freshman year and today they came through with an offer.
My coach called me and told me congratulations first. He told me to call Coach Dan (Ferrigno) and he told me I was offered. I like Michigan a lot. Me and Coach Dan have a really good relationship.
Holding nearly 20 offers as a rising junior means Upshur will be able to go virtually wherever he wants, but right now his list is wide open. That being said, he does already hold Michigan in high regard.
I'm open to everyone right now but I think I'm going to start to trim my list at the end of the summer. Michigan will for sure make my first cut, they will always be there. Like I said before, me and Coach Dan have a great relationship. He's been seeing me since I was a freshman.
Coach Ferrigno has done a solid job forming a relationship as usual. Not only has he shown genuine interest, he's also been persistent as Nasier says that Michigan, along with Arizona State, Temple, and South Carolina, has been recruiting him most aggressively.
Naseir hasn't visited Michigan yet, but he will be in Detroit tomorrow for the Soundmind Soundbody camp and hopes to check out Ann Arbor while he's in the area.
At this point in his recruitment Naseir has visited Rutgers, Temple, Penn State, and Arizona State, and not surprisingly for anyone that has visited Tempe, the Sun Devil visit left a memorable impression.
As for the home-state Nittany Lions, Upshur enjoyed his visit but left campus without an offer. He does believe an offer is coming soon from Penn State and says that even though they are a bit later to the party than some, it's not hurting their chances and he has no problem being patient.
Upshur is a high character kid who fits the mold for the type of players Michigan chooses to recruit. He prides himself on the kind of person that he is and gives credit to one person in particular.
I'm from North Philly. A lot of bad things go down around my way but I manage to stay out of the way. I'm just trying to have my family right. I'm very close with my mom. She gave me the nickname "Pop" when I was little from Pumpkinseed and Poppyseed. (Laughs) Also my big brother, Quon Cook, keeps me out of trouble.
Michigan has done well with Upshur and as usual, his character appears to be one of the reasons why he was targeted.
5 – Trending Blue
4 – Solidly in a top 2-3
3 – Contender in a top 3-7
2 – Among large (8-15) group under consideration
1 – Let’s see if he visits before we talk
0 – Passing interest or none
If Upshur manages to check out Ann Arbor within the next couple of days after the SMSB camp, Michigan could very well become his early leader. He made it quite clear that Michigan will be in it for him throughout, but I also expect Penn State to be a player if they choose to offer.
THE GOAL OF DRAFTAGEDDON
The goal of Draftageddon is YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT DRAFTAGEDDON.
I'm hearing this is incorrect. I see. The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
- A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
- WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
ROUND 13 - PICK 2: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: Heiko lives!
Brian's decision to draft a, uh, third-and-long quarterback put an end to the staring contest between me and Seth. I'd like a full-time starter, thanks, and not of the Rudock/Stave/Siemain caliber.
Oh, look, it's the Rose Bowl MVP.
Connor Cook took the reins of an offense so laughable it was being outscored by its own defense, took a couple games to settle in, and proceeded to make the Spartan O downright respectable. He put up excellent numbers for a redshirt sophomore, averaging 7.3 YPA with a 22:6 TD-to-INT ratio. Those numbers were in spite of a receiving corps that didn't feature anything resembling a true #1 receiver, and didn't have much quality from there, either. Using Seth's pet stat, RYPR, here's what Cook was working with in 2013:
His #1 receiver performed like an average #2. His #4 receiver averaged 3.8 yards per target. The rest of it isn't so great, either. Click over to Seth's post and look at Michigan's 2013 receiving corps. Even with their lack of production from the #3 spot, the Wolverines were far superior.
BISB: /Microphone... getting so hot... must... let... go...
ROUND 13 - PICK 3: Jabrill Peppers, CB (and S/RB/WR/Nickel/WILL/KR/PR/BMOC/GGTK), Michigan
he will fix everything
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU) WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU) CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
BISB: I still needed a corner, a safety, a nickelback, a running back, and a wide receiver. So I took one.
Everyone is aware of the story of Jabrill Peppers. He is the highest ranked (and possibly the most highly-touted) recruit to hit a Big Ten campus in the last decade. If Sojourn Shelton is the prototypical field corner, Peppers is the archetypal boundary corner. Big for a corner at 6'1", 210 lbs, he hits like a linebacker but nevertheless shows sprinter speed and acceleration that translates to the football field. He's as quick-twitch of a human being as you'll ever find; he's basically Venric Mark. But after an 80's-style Rocky training montage. And five inches taller.
I know, I know. Recruiting hype stars don't matter never played a snap in college blah blah. Screw that. What are the usual concerns about freshmen? Physical preparedness, mental preparedness, and how the game translates to the next level. Physically, I'll defer to the unnamed assistant coach from USC:
"I've only seen two players in high school with a body like that," the USC coach says, "and both of them are named Peterson [Adrian and Patrick]."
As far as translating to the next level, watch the burst and acceleration in these two clips. Translation, my ass. I don't care what level of competition he's playing (though his competition is pretty good) or what kind of stuff doesn't show up on the highlight reels (though his full game cut-ups are equally impressive). This kid is basically a glitch in the physics engine. And sure, there's gonna be a mental transition, and sure both of my corners are young. Fortunately I have the best free safety in the Big Ten over the top to erase any youthful mistakes.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Seth drafts Troy Woolfolk, Ace with the Big Red Block.]