...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Michigan has been on a roll with commitments so far with the 2012 class. What may be more impressive than the number of commitments is how they're getting kids to change their decision timelines. They've had a number of prospects that were thought to be waiting until after their season pull the trigger. That trend might continue in the near future. Here's a look at this week's happenings.
5'11", 185 lbs
West Roxbury, Massachusetts
Reeves has had Michigan and Penn State at the top of his list for a little while now, but he's decided to bring his top two public.
Penn State and Michigan are the top two. I know I'll be back up to Michigan in June. I'm really not sure if my decision timeline will be moved up or not. It probably depends on how my visits go.
Armani has said he wants to wait to make his decision, but he's also aware of Michigan's situation with defensive back offers and Terry Richardson's commitment.
I hope I can take my time with all this, so we'll see what happens. The coaches told me they want two corners and two safeties, and since Terry [Richardson] committed so early that plan kind of shifted up. They want me for corner, and Penn State said that I could play on both sides of the ball and special teams, so we'll see.
Reeves said the Michigan coaches haven't brought up offense with him, but you'd think they would allow him to try any spot where he can help. He said he'll try to clear that up with the coaches when he visits in June.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Michigan recently offered Gant, and he told me he will be up to Ann Arbor in roughly two weeks. The Michigan offer came with much excitement from both Allen and his father, former Wolverine, Tony Gant. The elder Gant talked to me about how this affect's Allen's recruitment and how he feels about his son receiving an offer from his alma mater.
As a dad I was so elated, I always wanted Allen to follow in my footsteps. I think he'll make his decision in the next month or so, and right now he's leaning towards Michigan. That's a dream come true to have him potentially go to my alma mater. As a former player for Michigan, we have to do it right the first time. We can't bring in anyone we don't think is going to contribute to the team. It doesn't hurt that Allen is my son, but if he can't play football, he can't play football. That's not the case with Allen, he can play. I'm just elated all the way around.
Gant also shed some light on his son's national ranking, and what a program would be getting with his son.
They're going to get a student athlete who's full of character and leadership. You have to look at those qualities, he has to be smart, be a student athlete, and be a leader. From the football aspect he reminds me of [former Wolverine] Keith Bostic, as far as his aggressiveness. He loves to hit, he's a big safety. An analyst asked me why he's not nationally known, and it's because we knew it would probably come down to Michigan and Ohio State. We never went to any combines or camps, so his name wasn't really out there that much.
Tony also mentioned the fact that he and Allen both know where they stand with the Michigan coaches, and where everyone else is at in the process.
We have to be aware of how many kids they have committed and who they're recruiting, but we know exactly where we stand with the coaches. We know that Michigan really wants him. We were going to sit back and wait until February, but that was basically from me. I went through the recruiting process in high school and my dad was dying. I didn't get a chance to enjoy the process. Early on I wanted him to travel a little bit and meet some of the great coaches, but deep down we knew he would stay in the midwest. Plus with a program like Michigan, they have the right to be selective. They go after the best, sometimes you can't wait until the last minute to make that decision.
Mr. Gant said that they have been hearing from more and more schools now that the Michigan offer has come through. Purdue, Nebraska, and Michigan State all came down since Michigan offered. Like his father said, I would expect a decision shortly.
6'4", 230 lbs.
Washington and his teammate WR Dwayne Stanford have been a hot topic lately. They have both expressed interest in Michigan, and while I still think Ohio State will be hard to beat Adolphus recently released his top five schools.
My top five is Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Kentucky, and Miami. Michigan is recruiting me really hard and I know they want to play young talent so that's why they're in there. Me and Dwayne are supposed to [visit Ann Arbor] this weekend.
That's the weekend of the 27th. A few months ago I would have thought Michigan wasn't really in the running, and even up until recently I wasn't sure how much of a chance they would have. I think there is some serious interest in Michigan from both prospects. Both plan on waiting to announce their decision at an All American game so there's plenty of time for Michigan to catch up.
Where does Michigan stand?
It's unknown for sure how many scholarships will be available come February, but the consensus is that there will probably be somewhere around 22. With that being said, Michigan is in great shape with:
As Armani Reeves said above, the Michigan coaches might take 2 corners and 2 safeties. They have Terry Richardson already on board, so that's one corner. Reeves said the coaches want him for cornerback. Wayne Morgan has Michigan as his outright leader, and can play either safety or cornerback. Allen Gant is a safety, and as I noted above could pull the trigger soon. The same goes for Anthony Standifer position wise, but he could decide to wait a little while before making his decision. I still think Michigan leads for Standifer though. Michigan leads for three of the four, and is in the top two for Reeves. Barring anything weird happening you will probably see 2-3 of these prospects in Michigan's class.
Ben Braden and Caleb Stacey are the two commitments on the offensive line so far. Michigan would like to take 5-6 for this class, and some have said that TE commit AJ Williams could move over to tackle if the coaches wanted him to. That's a luxury. They have positioned themselves well with kids like Jordan Diamond and Erik Magnuson, who happen to be the 209th and 34th overall prospects in the country to Rivals. Both are also four stars on other sites. Magnuson will take an official to Michigan and I have a feeling there's a very good chance he picks the Wolverines.
They also still have a chance with Zach Banner, since he has said he will take an official visit to Michigan. Colorado OL Paul Thurston recently visited Michigan and came away very impressed. There's a good chance that Michigan will make his final cut as well. Banner is the 31st overall prospect and Thurston is ranked 137th. Without even mentioning a few other prospects Michigan has a great shot with like Shane Callahan [191st overall] and Trey Keenan, Michigan has a shot with the number 31, 34, 137, and 209th overall prospects in the country all on the offensive line. That would quite the haul.
Commitments from Mario Ojemudia [hybrid DE/LB], Pharaoh Brown, and Matt Godin have given Michigan a solid start with the defensive line. They would probably like to add two tackles and another strong side defensive end to go with Matt Godin.
The name that seams to pop up the most for that position is Chris Wormley. Michigan is the leader for Chris, and he recently told me he thinks he's getting close to a decision. As mentioned above Adolphus Washington has Michigan in his top five, and it looks like they will get a strong look. Outside of those two Michigan fans are to be very excited about Missouri DT Ondre Pipkins, who's originally from Saginaw. I believe that Michigan has a very good chance with Pipkins, who is also thinking about moving his decision date up. He just won the DL MVP at the stacked Columbus Nike camp.
Instate DT Danny O'Brien was being recruited this weekend by the Michigan commitments at the Nike camp in Columbus. His recruitment has been interesting, so we'll have to wait and see what happens with him. Illinois DT Jaleel Johnson and indiana DT Sheldon Day are very much in the conversation, although I believe interest from Day could be slightly slipping. Ohio DE Tom Strobel was in Ann Arbor this past weekend, so he should probably be on this list as well. I'm in the process of getting a hold of Strobel to discuss the visit as we speak.
DT Jarron Jones is "committed" to Penn State for now, but says he will visit Michigan. His commitment is very soft at this point, and he's interested in checking out what Michigan has to offer. These are the likely candidates, as of now, to take up the spots for the rest of Michigan's defensive line class. As always I'll give you the "Anything can happen, so don't take this as 100%" warning. There are a few other prospects, like Georgia DE Jordan Jenkins who say they will visit that might move up. Until they visit though we'll keep this list as it is. Although Illinois DE/DT Faith Ekakitie was recently offered I'm not sure on how much interest is there yet from Faith. He'll have to get to know the program and coaches a little more before anything serious.
There is a "silent commit" right now on the defensive side of the ball. He's not sure when he wants to make it public yet, so when he gives the OK I will let you know.
DT Ondre Pipkins was named the D Line MVP at the Nike camp in Columbus. Here's some pictures of him, as well as Michigan commits Terry Richardson, Shane Morris, Mario Ojemudia, and James Ross at the event. Pictures are from ESPN Rise Flickr account. Someone asked me recently if Pipkins had made his top group public. He said it was supposed to be private, but an analyst ran with it so it's out there. Michigan is in very good shape with Pipkins, his visit in June will be pretty big.
OL Jordan Diamond told me that he will probably be making his decision sooner than expected. He wants to try to visit all the schools he's already been to one more time, then decide.
I don't know and don't want to know why it turned up pounds of shirtless man meat on page 1, but add "OHL" to things you should never search for on Google Images. "Existentialism" on the other hand, is quite entertaining.
Stacked somewhere in between the Oshawa Generals and Bowling Green was a letter with a block M in the corner. It contained a brochure for the University, a questionnaire, and the contact information for the coaches. Turns out, I had not been emailing coach Berenson at all, but now I had his real address. I emailed him and got a response from an assistant coach. He told me to call him.
WHAT?! I can call these people?! How was this not explained to me before? I had never bothered to email any other school and since the player must initiate contact, they couldn't reach out to me.
You don't know if Michigan will even offer you because it's too early on NCAA's schedule for anything like certainty. You are surrounded by people who want to see you in the OHL. You are drafted, and given a contract:
I sat down with the GM, who knew that I was considering college. He basically explained to me the benefits of the CHL, the education packages, and the unique experience of being a young local celebrity. He was very polite about it, but told me that if I was signing, he wanted it done within 2 weeks.
The diaries were blessed again with the concluding Parts II and III of JimLahey's epic personal tale that illustrates just how difficult it really is for hockey talent to cross the border, even for those who desperately want to play NCAA. Well written and poignant, with everything from twists to cliffhangers to a surprise ending, its plot is worthy of an episode of Law & Order. Except it happened to this guy. This guy: Diarist of the Week (again).
There was only one other diary this week, but it's a good 'un: ebv returned to do another analysis of correlation between defensive talent and performance, and also defensive experience and performance. Ganking charts:
Experience / Talent:
He used the Rivals depth charts so that's guys on the two-deep, not the starters. The comments had a lot of suggestions, and this overlaps with them, but I think there are a couple of factors that really need analysis more than average age and star-rating of two-deep:
- Size of classes over 5-year period. A 3-star who made the two-deep out of 108 potential defensive players recruited is probably going to be more qualified than a 3-star who made the two-deep out of 40 defensive players recruited.
- Run it again with just starters. The two-deep still includes a lot of guys who might not be ready to play, because the scholly limit and dress limit and whatnot. If the great teams have a 5-star junior or senior starting and two hyped freshmen backing them up, it won't show with an average age.
- Gimme a "worst starter" breakdown too. Xcalibur once tried to test that when Michigan was rolling out Kovacs at free safety and every team we faced began running most of its plays directly at Kovacs. If there's a "weak link" effect for defenses, that will throw off your performance metrics for the team defense.
- Related to above: Distribution?
5th yr Sr Sr / RS Jr Jr / RS So So / RS Fr True Fr Avg. Team A 3 5 5 5 4 2.91 Team B 9 1 1 1 10 2.91
You are looking at teams with very big differences. Team B can field a much more experienced starting 11, but any injury or bust or low-rated older guy means a true freshman is likely starting. Team A's distribution is far more likely to be seeing players in their middle years handling significant time. You can do the same thing with star ratings:
5-star 4-star 3-star 2-star Walk-On Avg. Team A 3 5 5 5 4 2.91 Team B 9 1 1 1 10 2.91
Any busts from B and you are starting a 2-star or a Walk-On. Distribution among the starters would tell us if there's a weak link effect too.
After the break (in honor of jg2112's poor scrolling wheel) I realign the NHL and suggest a playoff system.
The Michigan commitment train never stops. Back to the front page we go! Action since last rankings:
5-17-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Blake Thomas. Northwestern gains commitment from Joseph Jones.
5-18-11 Penn State gains commitment from JJ Denman.
5-19-11 Michigan gains commitment from Terry Richardson. Notre Dame gains commitment from Mark Harrell.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Watchlist||24/7 Avg|
Rivals has released their initial rankings, so instead of watchlist guys, I'm going on the 5-star system for them. Remember, currently-unranked prospects by any service receive 1 star.
Full data after the jump.
Slick. You have to give Dave Brandon this: when he says he's going to "create the future," he's not kidding. The future is very, very corporate, which means that while we have to deal with retro-futuristic horror gimmicks we also get a Crisler Arena that isn't a dank cave:
That's the key artist's rendering from the just-approved $52 million renovation of Crisler: a concourse that looks… like… nice. There's a bunch of other stills you can check out at UMHoops; the overall result should be an arena on par with the rest of the Big Ten. The program is already headed that way without recruits being able to talk into the swanky new digs.
While hiring Brady Hoke seemed questionable, it was nowhere near the level of bumbling required to give Brian Ellerbe the job or let the department fall into a situation where compliance reports simply weren't being generated. Hopefully that's part of the past even if Brandon continually refers to the Michigan athletic department as "I".
Reverse lockout. I was trying to will Darius Morris back to campus next year and therefore thought his decision to go this year wasn't a good one. In retrospect that's obviously wrong. Morris's strong pre-draft workouts have him solidly in the first round and even if that wasn't the case now was the time to strike with a lottery-scaring lockout keeping a half-dozen kids obviously in front of him in school:
Even though many felt another year at Michigan would improve his stock, Morris took the leap when players such North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Ohio State forward/center Jared Sullinger decided to stay in school.
That upped Morris' stock.
"That definitely played a part in my decision," Morris said.
Morris could get a lot better and not see his stock increase in a post-lockout draft featuring 1.5 years of lottery picks.
Of course, Morris could be having strong pre-draft workouts and still have the option to come back if the NCAA hadn't done away with that to make coaches feel better, or something. If Morris's strong pre-draft workouts were in fact crappy pre-draft workouts that locked him into the second round, boy would we be shaking our fists at the sky even harder now.
Also. Not that anyone who needs to be told this is amongst the people who can be reasoned with, but:
Once Morris declared, though, he experienced some backlash from fans who felt Michigan was primed to take a huge leap in 2011-12. But, he felt he was prepared for the criticism. He saw it happen with former teammate Manny Harris, who left last year after his junior season.
"It didn't get to me, I experienced it all my life," Morris said. "You do think about it, when your biggest fans instantly turn on you. It comes with the territory with the Michigan fan base."
That's probably not the best reputation for the school to acquire. I'm talking to you, 14-year-olds on twitter.
1889! Doctor Saturday was wandering along the Bentley's pages looking for anything that could conceivably be a precedent for Michigan's throwback-type uniforms when he discovered the raw sex that is Michigan 1889:
The dude in the middle claims to be a Ben Boutwell but is obviously time-travelling Devandra Barnhart. Also the guy on the bottom right is supposedly named "Horace Prettyman," which come on.
Nine games. BHGP has an excellent post on the pros and cons of the move to a nine-game conference schedule. One objection:
It still wouldn't eliminate the bodybag games. For all the lip service that's been paid to the notion that adding a ninth conference game would eliminate the games against the likes of Bumblefuck Tech that everyone hates -- no one has yet been able to offer up any clear examples of just how they would make the new system work. They want nine conference games AND seven home games (which is a non-negotiable point, according to multiple sources) AND they want to reduce the number of cupcake opponents that (most) teams play from two to one.
One man's objection to that objection via The Sporting News:
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Big Ten’s best attempt yet at following the SEC: Of 48 possible nonconference games, the Big Ten has 14 games against BCS schools — only five of which are road games (10 total road games among the 48). And we’re not done yet.
Most teams play three bodybag games right now. The Big Ten averages of just over one BCS opponent per team. Are those going to go away if a nonconference game is removed? Maybe somewhat but probably not much. Several of the games are perennials, anyone aiming for a national title is going to have to have a reasonable nonconference opponent just for the look of things, and these days the financial advantages of body-bag games and lower-tier bowls are nonexistent for teams on the bottom of the totem pole. The overall number of games worth caring about will increase. Maybe not on a 1:1 ratio, but significantly.
Machiavellian. Jim Delany sort of offhandedly mentioned he'd like to give football and basketball players—maybe even more than that—scholarships that cover the full "cost of attendance," which apparently they don't at the moment. Eyebrow Mount Doom speaks:
"Forty years ago, you had a scholarship plus $15 a month laundry money," Delany said. "Today, you have the same scholarship, but not with the $15 laundry money.
"How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?" Delany asked.
That's estimated to be another 2-5k per year per scholarship, which you can ballpark around 300k. That's chump change for big schools and a big problem for smaller ones. The usual hue and cry about a "level playing field" has been anticipated and argued with even though no one takes it seriously. (Right? I mean, find me a recruit who picked Conference USA over the SEC or the MAC over the Big Ten*.) This would no more upset the balance of power than having teams that pack 100k fans into a stadium play South Alabama.
Meanwhile, at big schools that's money that's going to coaches right now instead of guys putting their future health at risk (at least to some extent). They should totally do it, not because it's good for power conferences—it's exactly the same for power conferences—but because it's Justice(!).
*[Yes, I know some guys ended up at UCF or something. When the percentage of guys who end up at smaller conferences with legit options at a BCS conferences creeps over 1% then you can badger me. Imaginary pedant is so into pedantry.]
This is fun when it's not happening to you. Yes, it is.
Etc.: Mets Maize asks "is that my boner or yours?" about Brady Hoke's recruiting spree. Zach Hyman says he wants to stay four years, which everyone says. He was headed to Princeton, though, so maybe take that a bit more seriously than you would otherwise.
We haven't had a good uniform PANIC for a while, so… yeah… here's… this:
That, according to your favorite newspaper, resembles the "throwback" uniforms Michigan will don this fall. You'll note a few things:
your eyeballs are melting out of your sockets
…unless they were day-glo orange or something. I think MVictors would have notified us if this was the case by now.
there is a distinct resemblance between these monstrosities and the Big Chill stripey-bucktooth-weasel thing…
…in that both were obviously designed by Joad Cressbeckler. Doctor Saturday pointed me to this image of Michigan's uniforms down the years in which the only vague resemblance between the above and something from history is Michigan's 1891 uniforms.
we must have no taste if the Big Chill jerseys sold well enough for this to seem like a good idea.
Let's hope this a practical joke played on the Free Press as revenge, I guess. Get off my lawn.
Michigan has only offered a handful of elite running backs in the 2012 class. It's not a huge need for the coaching staff, but if they find the right back they could end up taking one. Marlington High's Alden Hill (6'2", 220 lbs) doesn't currently hold an offer but was asked to make an appearance at Michigan's camp this summer. Here's a look at Hill's film and where he's at in the recruiting process.
TOM: What's the most recent that you've heard from Michigan?
ALDEN: They were in school about three weeks ago. Coach Mattison came in to see me and Zach [Higgins]. He was telling us that we need to camp. Zach committed to MSU, so now they just want me to come. They're really interested and they said I'm one of their top five running backs.
TOM: Outside of Coach Mattison have you gotten a chance to talk with any of the other Michigan coaches?
ALDEN: I went down there for their junior day. I went back and got a chance to sit down with Coach Jackson. He said I'm glad you came back so that we could meet each other, and he told me that I was in their top five now because he likes my personality and everything. They'll evaluate me at camp, and he said I definitely have a shot.
TOM: When's the next time you'll be back up there? For camp?
ALDEN: I've been there twice, so yeah camp will be the next time I go. I have to call Coach Mattison to pick out a date.
TOM: Did you know much about Michigan before you went up there?
ALDEN: I went up there and I didn't know too much until I visited. There's a lot of tradition, and like the SEC they take their football seriously up there. Michigan is known for really living football. They play a lot of big games and a lot of great competition. I know Brady Hoke is going to turn things around, I like him personally. I think they have a lot of good coaches on staff and I like all of them. I really have nothing negative to say about them. It seemed like everyone was on the same page. Every one of them has the same goals in mind, to win a Big Ten Championship.
TOM: Overall how many offers do you have right now?
ALDEN: Seven. I have Toledo, Ball State, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, U Conn, Vanderbilt, and Boston College.
TOM: You had mentioned Zach Higgins as one of your teammates, but you have another teammate getting recruited also right?
ALDEN: Yeah, Zach Higgins committed to Michigan State. It's me, Zach, and  Dymonte Thomas. All of us are getting recruited now. If one school talks to one of us they talk to all of us. We've talked about going to the sam place. They both have been offered by MSU, and the coaches want to see me at their camp. I can't say it's going to happen though. Every kid's going to fit in a school a different way, you have to make sure it's the right fit.
TOM: Since you're a year ahead of Dymonte do you think you'll try to recruit him to whichever school you choose?
ALDEN: I'll definitely try to recruit Dymonte. I wouldn't be too serious about it, because I wouldn't want him to feel pressured.
TOM: I know you're a big back, is that basically your game, or is there more to you than size?
ALDEN: This week I weighed in at 225 pounds, and I'm 6-foot-2. When college coaches ask me, or they watch my film they say I'm a big back, but I have speed. I'm in track right now, and I run a 4.55 in the 40. I also have an 11 flat in the 100. Dymonte and I raced before and 3 out of the 4 times I beat him. He doesn't like admitting that though. I'm not a shifty back, I take one cut and go.
TOM: To go back to your overall recruitment, what are you looking for in the ideal school?
ALDEN: To me a lot of kids will say location, but for me it's wherever you'll fit in the best. What do they offer academically, how they want you to fit in the offense or on the team. I want to be a running back, a lot of schools offer you as a running back then move you to linebacker. I want to bust the line and pound the ball.
TOM: What does your timeline look like? You've mentioned checking out camps so I'd assume you'll take your time?
ALDEN: I've been telling everyone I want to wait. The thing with me is it's been up and down with offers. I feel like if you're going to college for four years you want to go somewhere you'll fit in well. It's like buying a house or marrying a girl, you make sure everything is right. It's the same thing as the coaches before they offer someone, they make sure everything is right. A lot of other kids pick and they don't realize other schools were interested. If I find a school that really likes me and I feel comfortable, then I would have no problem committing.