...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
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.
RAM JAM! RAM JAM! also more video at Yost Built.
[Ed-M: A scoring forward? This is a mechayeh!]
I don't usually do full-blown "this guy just committed" posts for hockey players because the way hockey works right now they're either committing for way down the road and may not actually show up or are not that exciting. Either way there's a paucity of information.
This one's a little different, though, because Princeton decommit and badly-needed top-six forward Zach Hyman chose Michigan yesterday. Then his brother Spencer ju, a 2012 defenseman, committed today. Zach will be on campus this fall propping up Michigan's wonky offense.
While that might be a bit much to ask from a freshman, Hyman's not your ordinary freshman. A 6'2" forward, he was drafted in the fifth round by the Panthers last year and then proceeded to trash his league to the tune of 42-60-102 in 43 games. Like Mike Comrie and Mike Cammalleri before him, he subsequently won the CJHL player of the year award. Yost Built looked at the last decade of CJHL POYs, finding that seven of the ten put up 30 points as a freshman. (Okay, one did it at Sacred Heart.) One of the three to miss was eventual Hobey winner Junior Lessard; the other two both had 30+ point seasons as juniors before collapsing as seniors. If the award isn't necessarily a guarantee combined with getting drafted it seems to be a pretty good indicator. That goes double when the main competition for Hyman was UMD, BU, and BC. (If UMD seems like an odd suitor for a player committed to Princeton and looking at BU/M/BC, he probably considered them because he likes dyeing his hair a ridiculous blond from time to time, too.)
Hyman's decision to play in the OJHL may have depressed his draft stock:
when I go back in my records, it would seem that from Peewee hockey all the way up to Minor Midget, Hyman was right on par with Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Tyler Toffoli and just a notch behind John McFarland.
However, when I look at our rankings for this year’s NHL Draft, everyone but Hyman is slotted as a first-round choice. Hyman is listed as a third or fourth-round selection.
…to have a kid who was right there with Seguin, Skinner and Toffoli 20 months ago and now is separated by at least 200-plus spots seems a little outrageous. The only other rationale is that we, as scouts, consciously or sub-consciously hold a bias against a kid who pursues his dream of a degree from a U.S. college and for my money, that doesn’t seem right. This kid is the youngest captain in the league and put up 75 points as a sophomore and has coaches and teammates raving about his character and commitment but none of that seems to matter because he is playing at a lower level.
(No prizes for guessing the first comment is a caveman complaining about the lack of fighting in college.) Michigan fans more than anyone else believe a prospect can fade over the course of two years. Luke Moffatt and Tristin Llewellyn were supposed to be five-star type guys when they committed, for example. But in those cases the two weren't performing against USHL competition; Moffatt in particular was directly compared against the top forwards in his age group every night because they were his teammates.
Hyman's annihilated not very good competition and remains a question mark. These biased people think he's great:
“Zach would be the best Christmas present a lot of high-end Division 1 programs could ever get in May,” said Scott Luce, the Panthers’ director of scouting. “He’s in hot demand.” …
Said Anthony Miele, [ed: not Miami star Andy's dad, FWIW] the vice president of Hamilton’s rival Burlington Cougars: “Zach Hyman is one of the best goal scorers this league has ever seen.”
Added Marty Savoy, commissioner of the Ontario Junior Hockey League: “He’s one of those kids who keeps getting better every time you watch him play ... He carries himself like a pro.”
And so does this guy who's either unbiased or biased against him:
I recently took in a workout and this kid has devoted a lot of time in the gym to compete against the men of the Ivy League, but along with being an impressive physical specimen, he showed that he could really play this year as well by putting up 75 points on a decent Tier 2 team while showing he understands the game as well as any in the draft. His dad owns my chief competitor, ISS, so it pains me to say, but this kid may become the steal of the draft. Last year Riley Smith put up 75 points on a powerful St. Michaels Buzzer team and was a third-round pick of the Dallas Stars, and for our money, Smith isn’t even close to this kid in terms of upside.
Also the Sports Rabbi calls him a "true mensch," which I swear is not something I just made up.
Hyman's brother, Spencer, is a 6-foot defenseman who will come in next year. Apparently he decked Lucas Lessio with a single punch at some point and is nicknamed "the bus." With a 4-16-20 line in 49 games, he's not an offensive defenseman. That's about all there is on him; the most notable thing from the Yost Built post is that Tim didn't know "berserker" was a word. No fantasy RPGs for that guy.
Given the below BONUS it's possible Spencer is going to be a preferred walk-on. That's total speculation.
BONUS FOR MEMBERS OF THE TEAM: Zach Hyman's dad has a couple nickels to rub together. Once I went to a Pistons playoff game back when they went to the playoffs, got into the elevator with my crutch-bearing friend, and was joined by a bunch of fit, averaged sized-college dudes headed for a suite. I eventually realized they were Jeff Tambellini and a few other current players. (Bizarrely, the first guy I recognized was then career-backup Noah Ruden.) So that'll probably happen.
BONUS FOR HYMAN'S MOM: Zach was named the most gentlemanly player in the OJHL.
2014? Yeah, that's what Michael Spath is saying at the Wolverine: Allen and Alex Talcott are supposed to be 2014 commits right now. Dollars to donuts Allen will end up a 2013 recruit. I can't remember the last NTDP player with NHL prospects to do a post-grad year.
Though it seemed for a long time like Michigan would not acheeve dream of landing the top in-state trio of LBs Royce Jenkins-Stone and James Ross and CB Terry Richardson, fear not: Richardson sealed the deal today, completing the triumvirate.
NR CB, #195 Ovr
|NR CB, 150 Watchlist||
#3 CB, #31 Ovr
There is a machine hidden somewhere deep in Detroit that pumps out 5-9, 160-pound cornerbacks, and sends them to Cass Technical High School. Terry Richardson is the latest model, following Boubacar Cissoko, Dior Mathis, and Delonte Hollowell.
Richardson was a 2-seed in Sam Webb's March Madness recruiting column for the Detroit News. Allen Trieu on Terry's game:
The question with him is the size. He stands 5-9, 162 pounds, but he is an excellent football player with great instincts and excellent ball skills. His extensive offer list is proof that many of the top programs in the country have seen enough to say, 'We can overlook the lack of size.'
For the record, Michigan has commitments from 1-seeds James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone, 2-seed Devin Funchess, and 3-seeds Matt Godin and Mario Ojemudia, and is in good position with a couple other prospects. Michigan State has commitments from... none of the top 16. The report on Richardson is almost the exact same as the three DBs before him: excellent skills, except he's really short (he was a combine-verified 5-8 in 2009, but that's 3 years before he enters college, too). Trieu says he has the best ball skills of the Cass Tech lineage. Sam also profiled him in the fall:
"He's a natural at corner," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "He has tremendous instincts to go along with the quickness and hips to turn and run with receivers. He also has great ball skills. His main weakness is size. I'd like to see him add weight this offseason but his tackling this season has been solid despite that."
Terry's been putting on weight, as he claims he was only 130 pounds(!) as a sophomore:
"I believe last year I was around 130, and right now I am at 165," Richardson reported. "I feel way stronger. My press coverage is looking a lot better. That is something that I just cannot wait to work on this summer during camp season — being more physical in press coverage."
Moving along, Terry talks about himself on his Scout profile:
“I’m a big play guy. When we need a big play, I’ll come through and make it happen. I’m also smart and I can read routes and know what the offense is doing. I’m also always very composed and don’t get rattled. I want to be more explosive and get in and out of my breaks faster. I’m working on being more physically fit and getting stronger.”
Playing intelligently and building strength are HUGE needs for short DBs. Terry is a certified short guy. The only question about Terry is whether he can do those other things well enough to counter sub-optimal height.
It's relevant because all Cass Tech DBs are the same, so check out Brian's Delonte Hollowell profile for the general vibe on Terry, as well. Aside from the differences noted above, Terry is also a liiiittle bit taller than Delonte, and listed quite a bit faster.
Allen gave a little love to his offer list above, and here is a small sampling of schools who aren't too worried about Terry's height to offer: Alabama, Iowa, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, and USC. All of those schools have put guys into the league at the position in the past couple years.
Other offers include Arizona State, Cincinnati, Indiana, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Toledo, and UCLA. This is not some under-the-radar prospect. He had interest from Florida, Miami, Oregon, and Tennessee, and if those schools had extended offers, this would be as exciting a prospect as there is in this class.
Terry Richardson finished his junior season with 35 tackles and 12 interceptions on defense. Offensively, he caught 12 receptions for around 400 yards and five touchdowns.
Richardson had four interceptions, 16 breakups and 20 tackles as a sophomore.
Not bad. Cass Tech ran a spread offense of sorts (though Royce Jenkins-Stone got his share of carries at fullback), and Terry got a few receptions on that side of the ball. Defensively, the Technicians don't play a lot of teams that throw the ball much, and I wouldn't be surprised if those stats are a little... exaggerated.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout says 4.5, but none of the other sites have listed 40 times. Considering his Scout profile also lists a combine-verified 4.64 (actually not bad with laser timing), I'll have to give two FAKEs out of five.
You can also catch a couple glimpses of #9 in last year's Cass Tech FNL feature, where he impressed me a bit more than 2011 Michigan commit Delonte Hollowell.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Terry seems like a great corner, but on the other hand, Michigan has plenty of talent in the pipeline. Courtney Avery will be but a junior in 2012, and Blake Countess's class (also including Greg Brown, Tamani Carter, and Raymon Taylor) will just be sophomores or redshirt freshmen. Considering Terry is just a skinny little guy, a redshirt year is probably in order.
Following such a redshirt year, special teams time as a redshirt freshman is the expectation, before the graduation of Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott opens up a starting spot, for which he'll compete alongside whichever younger guy doesn't take the Woolfolk/Floyd starting spot in 2012.
I would guess Terry has a good chance at that spot, assuming natural development, or he at least gets a chance in nickel packages (though it seems Mattison's current plan is to play a bigger safety type in the nickel). By the time he's an upperclassman, Terry should be getting plenty of time in the rotation, and be a possible all-conference type in his final two years.
Though his size may limit him in the NFL Draft down the road (assuming he's not done growing - don't forget he won't even be in college for another 18 months), he still has enough other skills to be selected after the first round.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
I am shaking in my shoes trying to figure out what other defensive back is going to commit within the next couple days, because I sure don't have the "comes in pairs" post ready to go for another guy (although Shane Morris and Matt Godin started to break up the position-by-position lockstep).
You know the story by now - DT, RB, OL, and WR are the remaining needs. A QB would be very nice, but is no longer imperative, and the remaining slots can go to the best prospects, regardless of position