somehow we're only 124th
Joe Paterno's death was a hugely misreported fiasco of the sort that is inevitable given the speed of information in the internet age. This post is an attempt to provide a framework for existing in a world of uncertain information.
This is what happened: Onward State, a blog/online newspaper run by PSU students, reported Paterno's death based on an email sent to Penn State players that turned out to be a hoax. This was good enough for a local radio station and StateCollege.com. It hit twitter and was then picked up without attribution by CBS Sports. It took off from there once the imprimatur of a major news agency was on it. Black Shoe Diaries has a detailed chronology of the mass screwup if you're interested in details. Shirtless Mark Twain isn't sure if he approves of this whole business or not, but would like you to know that rumors of his rippling pecs have been sorely undersold.
It's a story about the internet screwing up in very understandable ways. Onward State had what seemed like reliable information, and it passed their threshold for reporting. It is not a good threshold, but not everyone has one these days. CBS's Adam Jacobi did something unwise and sloppy. Pagewhoring Huffington Post saw an opportunity for views and cares about nothing else.
We've seen this happen before when a newspaper intern replicates an internet rumor on one of the dingy blogs shuffled off into the corner of large metro papers: as soon as a rumor gets paired with header graphics associated with a real newspaper, everyone else is confirming it via "sources." In this instance, CBS's screwup was compounded because they didn't even provide a link to the primary source; Huffington Post did the same thing, but that's just their MO. Jacobi is a BHGP founder and should have known better.
I've screwed these things up myself. Earlier this year I erroneously reported that Kaleb Ringer had been booted from his high school team based on information that seemed solid but obvious was not. By contrast, a couple years ago I had the sense not to run anything about the serious car accident that Jon Bills and Mark Moundros were in despite having a ton of solid sources telling me about it. That seemed like a place to let journalists be journalists.
As I go along here that realm has steadily expanded. I probably won't report something like the Ringer thing again for a lot of reasons. Michigan playing Alabama is one thing to be wrong about; a high school kid's problems or lack thereof is another. This leaves windows open for crass opportunists like Ace Williams, but it's the internet. There's always going to be a bottom of the barrel.
Anyway, these things evolve naturally. As this site expands it has more at risk and becomes more cautious. People just starting out have little to lose and have not experienced the backlash from being wrong—or the frightening period between your post and official confirmation of it. Also some of them are total idiots.
From the user's perspective, the thing to do is maintain a Bayesian approach. Phil Birnbaum explains what that is:
Generally, Bayesian is a process by which you refine your probability estimate. You start out with whatever evidence you have which leads you to a "prior" estimate for how things are. Then, you get more evidence. You add that to the pile, and refine your estimate by combining the evidence. That gives you a new, "posterior" estimate for how things are.
You're a juror at a trial. At the beginning of the trial, you have no idea whether the guy is guilty or not. You might think it's 50/50 -- not necessarily explicitly, but just intuitively. Then, a witness comes up that says he saw the crime happen, and he's "pretty sure" this is the guy. Combining that with the 50/50, you might now think it's 80/20.
Then, the defense calls the guy's boss, who said he was at work when the crime happened. Hmmm, you say, that sounds like he couldn't have done it. But there's still the eyewitness. Maybe, then, it's now 40/60.
And so on, as the other evidence unfolds.
That's how Bayesian works. You start out with your "prior" estimate, based on all the evidence to date: 50/50. Then, you see some new evidence: there's an eyewitness, but the boss provides an alibi. You combine that new evidence with the prior, and you adjust your estimate accordingly. So your new best estimate, your "posterior," is now 40/60.
So if some guy with 50 followers claims Armani Reeves is headed to Michigan because Urban was late for his in-home visit, you might increment your 50% to 51%. If Mike Farrell says its 52-48 you might bump it to 52%, but if Farrell said he thought Reeves was definitely headed to Michigan you could push it up further. You base your confidence in the opinion on previous accuracy, with a list like this…
- TomVH/Sam Webb
- Established message board posters
- National analysts
- Random message board posters
- Raving lunatics
- People who don't know what football is
- Fictional races from another galaxy
- Hyperintelligent tacos
- Regular tacos
- Tacos that aren't too bright even for tacos
- Ace Williams
…and change your baseline confidence based on the information and your confidence level in it. This is something people do naturally, but too often the weight they put on the information is either 0 or 1 when it should be somewhere in between.
For purveyors of information, it's time to put an explicit confidence level on what you're relaying. My mistake with the Ringer thing, other than mentioning it at all, was saying something was the case when I should have said something less certain. When I got tips about the Michigan-Alabama game I erred by saying with certainty a contract would be signed on a certain date when the people involved with the thing probably didn't know that.
I try to follow a policy of revealing as much as I can about the nature any information I pass along without exposing a source, and that added transparency is necessary in an age when information—valid information—can come from anywhere or anyone. I still make mistakes. That's inevitable. I'm trying, though.
However, not even linking to the original report is a mortal sin. If you are going to run something based on someone else's reporting it is vital that you explicitly tell readers that. Otherwise one report from a little-known online news source turns into multiple reports, some of them from organizations with people paid to do reporting, and the echo chamber starts going exponential. If you do not link, you are telling people that you are reporting it, and when it turns out to be wrong you can't point the finger at anyone but yourself.
Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter's Prep junior Charlie Callinan is one of several wide receivers currently on Michigan's radar for the class of 2013. Callinan already holds an offer from Rutgers and his interest from several BCS programs in the Midwest and East Coast. The 6'4", 205 pound prospect is a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List, while 247Sports ranks him as the #15 player in New Jersey and the #49 overall receiver among the junior class. Callinan has been in regular contact with Michigan assistant Curt Mallory, and I had the chance to talk to him last night about the recruiting process and where he stands:
ACE: How is everything going in your recruitment? Which schools are going after you the hardest right now?
CHARLIE: Everything is going pretty good. Right now, coaches are coming through, making their stops, just talking to me and watching us work out. I'm in contact with a bunch of coaches and schools, so it's been going pretty good. The [schools going after me the] hardest right now would probably be Rutgers, Michigan, Michigan State, Boston College, South Carolina, UConn, and Virginia.
ACE: Do you have any early favorites out of those schools?
CHARLIE: I don't really know about favorites, but I'm definitely interested in checking out those schools. I could see myself at every single one of those, and I've heard a lot about all of those schools. I don't really know about favorites, but all of those schools are pretty nice.
ACE: Talking about Michigan specifically, which coach has been in contact with you, and what's your impression of the coaching staff and the school?
CHARLIE: I've been talking to Coach Mallory a lot, Curt Mallory. He actually gets on a personal level with you, we'll talk a lot and we'll talk about how the week is going and stuff like that. He'll talk about the school and all that—he's a good guy and I heard a lot about him, I've heard a lot about the program, so I'll probably make it up there for a visit and check it out, and I'll see how it is.
ACE: How did you junior year go in terms of your personal performance? If you know your stats off the top of your head, feel free to rattle them off.
CHARLIE: It wasn't that good—we're more of a running team, so I don't get many looks at receiver. I'm still the number one receiver on the team. I had 35 receptions for 550 yards and five touchdowns.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say are you biggest strengths as a player, and what are you looking to improve for your senior year and beyond?
CHARLIE: My strengths are [that] I can use my size pretty well, and I'm a pretty big kid. I'm about 6'4", 205, so I know how to use my size, and I know the game pretty well. I'll run really good routes and I'm just smart with the game, I can read coverages and all that. My speed is getting there, and I'm working on it, but next year that's what I'm mainly focusing on. I'm pretty fast now, but I really want just high-end speed. You can always get faster so I'll be working on that.
ACE: You mentioned Michigan as a possible visit destination. Are there any other schools that you're planning on taking a visit to at this point?
CHARLIE: Yup. On the 11th [of February] I think I'm going down to West Virginia for a visit, and then in the next coming month or so I'll be going down to Michigan State and maybe Virginia and UConn.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a potential timeline?
CHARLIE: No, I have no clue. A lot of my friends committed before the season, I know some kids who committed after, and they pretty much told me that you've just got to know where you want to go to school before you jump to any conclusions. When I realize what school I want to go to, I want to make sure it's the right school, check it out even deeper, then I'll make my decision. There's no really telling what it's going to be.
ACE: What's going to make you know that a school is for you? What are the factors that you're looking at when it comes down to picking a school?
CHARLIE: The environment around me, the team, how I get along with the coaches, pretty much the overall environment. I'm not going to go to a school where I can't really get along with the coaches—it won't be a fun four years or however many years. I'm just looking for a school where I can be successful, do well academically and just as well on the football field.
1/24/2012 – Michigan 66, Purdue 64 – 16-5, 6-2 Big Ten
Yo, dawg. I heard you like stress testing your heart. So we put the basketball team in an arena so it can either win or lose by two points unless it's getting crushed by Iowa(?!). Hope you enjoy stress testing your heart.
Seriously, though, the last five games:
- Northwestern: W 66-64 (OT)
- Iowa: L 75-59
- MSU: W 60-59
- Arkansas: L 66-64
- Purdue: W 66-64
If this continues massive swaths of Crisler will start keeling over, clutching their chests, whenever the clock ticks under five minutes. It's a hard life when you're a fan of a middling to good Big Ten team this year.
Michigan got the coveted road win, and now doesn't have to hear about their lack of such against good competition. At least not as much. I'm sure they'll bring it up. They stand atop the pile of skulls that is the Big Ten at 6-2. While that's not likely to last what with the murders row Michigan is in the midst of, if Hardaway can be the most recent version of himself they've got a shot at anyone even if Kenpom predicts a 17 point loss to OSU on Sunday.
Kenpom also predicts two more one point games. Keep the paddles handy.
Bullets that have been sweated repeatedly
Stu! I like color guy Dan Dakich a lot and thought he would point out that Michigan switched him onto Lewis Jackson late after he thoroughly trashed Trey Burke for most of the game:
Michigan’s defense was far from perfect due to its inability to contain Lewis Jackson on the pick-and-roll. Jackson sliced his way into the lane for 17 points on eight shots along with eight assists and was the catalyst for a Boilermaker offense that scored 1.09 points per possession.
Jackson was slowed by Douglass and Purdue settled into the four-minute funk that allowed Michigan to edge it. Dakich didn't mention it.
On top of that, Douglass had twelve points on eight shots, two steals, three assists, one turnover, and a couple of "Did Stu Douglass just do that?" moments. The first one, a hesitation move that got him an uncontested layup, reminded me of Chauncey Billups. He's earned his starting role.
Novak. Novak had four attempts and one three-pointer. He needs more usage. If Purdue can get its sniper eight attempts in this game Michigan should be able to get Novak at least a few.
Dakich did point out that Purdue was sticking to the corner shooters to the severe detriment of its interior defense and the numbers bear that out. Michigan shot just 14 threes (28% versus their average of 44%) and hit 58% from within the arc. Morgan was 5 of 7 and his two misses were point blank shots that should have gone down.
Hardaway! I was really frustrated with Hardaway in the first half—the accumulation of a lot of missed threes and poor decisions from earlier games and a few turnovers—and felt that resurface a couple of times in the second half whenever he'd miss or get into trouble on the interior. So I'm not the most balanced Hardaway commentator at the moment.
That said, if four turnovers are required for Hardaway to go 6 of 9 from within the arc, fine. I'd rather have his shots split 70-30 between twos and threes and for Hardaway's TO rate to shoot into the high teens (it's 12.4 right now) than the current situation. Hardaway didn't commit the requested charge. That's the next negative-indicating-a-positive step to take.
Now if the threes can just start falling… I mean, it's hard to believe the same player who shot something like 42% in the Big Ten last year is languishing at 27% this year.
Addition to the Hardaway face pantheon. Via UMHoops:
Depth! We have none. You already know this. Exactly one bench player had more than five minutes—Smotrycz—and there were some crazy plus-minus numbers associated with his entry into the game. Morgan was +18 in his time on the court, Smotrycz –16. There was about four minutes of overlap, FWIW.
Smotrycz entry saw the massive Purdue run on which the Boilers couldn't miss. It didn't seem like it was entirely his fault but it also seemed crazy to keep Morgan, who had a Stu-like game that was even better than a scoreline that looks pretty good already, on the bench for as long as Beilein did. If Michigan's going to wear down, they're going to wear down. They're getting just 22% of their minutes from their bench, which is 327th nationally. For comparison, they're about as starter-heavy this year as they were young last year.
I think we can agree this is not a good thing. It will get a bit better next year unless there is unexpected attrition—Hardaway is not going to be coming off a year he thinks represents his skill level, right?—what with three players replacing two. Then you've got Horford back, Beilfeldt off a redshirt, and hopefully some progress from Brundidge. They should have a pretty deep rotation everywhere save point guard.
I must not understand block/charge. There were two blocking fouls and a no-call that seemed totally ludicrous to me. The worst was when a stationary Hardaway took a violent shoulder to the chest; no call and the Purdue guy made an uncontested layup because his defender was looking for a license plate. A couple other Michigan attempts to take charges got called as blocks despite the defensive player's total immobility. You could hear Dakich's skepticism on one three-point play as the replay showed a totally stationary defender getting plowed and he said something along the lines of "uh… good job by that guy of not jumping directly into the player" as the replay showed a guy jumping almost but not quite entirely into a player.
There was also a Purdue bucket on which Smotrycz forced the driver to put almost the entirety of a size 14 shoe out of bounds that the refs missed. Michigan got one call that egregious on a Hardaway turnover magically transmogrified into a shooting foul by a ref who couldn't see what was going on since the players had their backs to him. Add it up and in a hypothetical world where the refs get everything right, Michigan wins by seven or so. I hate college basketball referees.
Dakich: thumbs up. Probably my favorite non-Raftery color guy at the moment, and I like Raftery for the atmosphere he brings a game, not necessarily the analysis. He's continually saying interesting things that make the dude watching at home understand a little more about basketball and he strikes a nice balance when he makes his criticisms. He's not a Knight-like crab but he'll point out that Jackson, for example, is getting into the lane way too easily.
Six Zero back with the January 2012 installment of:
This monthly offseason feature highlights some of the more famous personalities
here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll
get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light
on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF MGOPROFILE
(Scroll down to the MGoProfile section of the User-Curated HOF).
SIX QUESTIONS WITH ACE ANBENDER
BIG SHOES TO FILL: 1. Definition(expr.) when a job that was
done by a great person will now be done by someone new.
Ex: Bob was so well-liked and successful; The man
replacing him has some very big shoes to fill.
When the acclaimed TomVH packed up his bags for the bright lights of ESPN, Brian put out the call for his replacement. And, to our surprise, the position was filled rather quickly, by some guy named Ace who previously wrote at some other blog or something. As if other Michigan blogs exist, right?
Since then, Ace has quickly carved out his own niche, both interviewing prospective recruits and covering sporting events and pressers as well. His style and writing voice has blended seamlessly with the existing culture of the blog, and yet he clearly seasoned the official content in ways we have never tasted before. And all the while, he is omnipresent, and certainly his biggest day of the year will fall next Wednesday as we learn of the luckiest two-dozen plus young men who will get to call themselves Michigan Men. In celebration of next week's National Signing Day, Ace broke away from the phone long enough to sit down for this exclusive MgoProfile:
1. First off—in your own words, explain to us the responsibilities and opportunities of being the Recruiting Analyst at MGoBlog?
To be perfectly honest, I’m still trying to figure this out myself. I know the opportunities—a chance to cover the team I grew up watching, a huge amount of exposure for my writing, making great connections, and being a part of the best team-specific blog out there, to name a few. As for the responsibilities, I’m still trying to find a balance between recruiting and football/basketball coverage; Brian has given me a lot of freedom to carve out my niche, and I’m trying to figure out what that is right now. Making sure readers get enough information to be able to follow the important recruiting stories is my main goal, and if I can help them become familiar with the type of people Michigan recruits, that’s a huge bonus and something I really enjoy doing.
As for day-to-day stuff, I’m learning it really changes depending on the season. Football season is a grind, especially when I’m checking out a high school game (or two) on Friday and then turning right around and covering the Michigan game on Saturday, and it’s also incredibly fun. Transitioning to basketball—while trying my hand at UFRing games—has also required a fair share of work. I hear things ease off a fair amount in the summer, and I can’t say I’m not looking forward to chilling out a bit and taking a week or two off in there. At the very least, every day I’m either writing a post or gathering information for one (read: watching film, usually) while also monitoring any recruiting info and trying to continue building my contacts. Though there’s a lot to do, you won’t hear any complaints from my end—I know how lucky I am to be in this position.
2. What was the hiring process to become a FT member of the MGoBlog team? And what on earth is it like to have Brian Cook as your boss?
The hiring process went so fast I barely had time to absorb everything that was going on. I’ve checked MGoBlog on a daily basis going as far back as high school, so I noticed pretty quickly when Brian posted the job opening on the site. I’m pretty sure that was on a Monday morning, and by that afternoon I’d finished up my resume—tailored specifically for the job, since this wasn’t your normal job opening—and sent it to Brian. I heard back within a day or two that I was one of the finalists, and I interviewed with Brian in person that Friday. Before the weekend was over, he informed me I had the job, and from there I hit the ground running.
As for having Brian as a boss, it’s a different experience than with any other job I’ve had (though, admittedly, this is my first full-time job). Most of my interaction with him is through GChat, and he’s not telling me what I should be writing about on any given day—football season had a relatively rigid schedule, but that’s not the case right now. I initially was worried that I would have trouble getting feedback on my writing, but I’ve found that Brian is great about helping me out as long as I take the initiative to voice my concerns to him. I know Brian trusts me to get my work done, and at that point there’s no need to micromanage—if I need something, I ask him about it, and otherwise we’re both focused on taking care of business.
[Ed: remainder after jump.]
|WHAT||Michigan at Purdue|
|WHERE||Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, IN|
|WHEN||7 PM Eastern, 1/24/2012|
|LINE||Purdue -4 (Kenpom)|
Michigan starts paying debts incurred during their soft, home heavy opening stretch tonight against perennial tourney participant Purdue. This edition of the Boilers is something less than the Johnson-Moore led teams, which were widely hyped as final four contenders before Robbie Hummel's ACL was the first of all Purdue ACLs to GTFO, starting my favorite elephant-and-ligament-based internet meme:
Hummel will be picking up extra years of eligibility from now to eternity; right now he is a senior and the Boilers' leader. He's the only Purdue player to average more than 70% of available minutes and launches over 31% of his team's shots when he's on the floor. While he hasn't been a terrific shooter (42% on twos, 35% on threes) his extremely low turnover rate makes him an efficient high-volume player.
Diminutive point guard Lewis Jackson and sniper Ryne Smith are the other major parts of the Boiler offense. Jackson is a penetrator and setup man who gets to the line and shoots 52% from two. He isn't much of a three-point shooter but he's too quick for that to affect his game. Trey Burke's played well defensively so far and seems to have the quickness to stay in front of Jackson; if he can prevent the penetration that is the heart of Jackson's game that will go a long way towards slowing the Purdue offense down. Easier said than done.
Smith gets off more than six three-pointers per game and hits 43% of them. That is his role in the offense, full stop. He averages less than a two-point attempt per game.
Guard types Terone Johnson, Kelsey Barlow, Anthony Johnson, and DJ Byrd will also see chunks of time. Barlow is a 6'5" guy who is reasonably efficient with low usage; he gets to the line. He is likely to draw Hardaway defensively; last year he was frustratingly erratic and ended up suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team." Both small forwards seem emotionally volatile, so this matchup could go one way or the other quickly.
Johnson was Purdue's top recruit last year and had a bench role; he succeeds with "aggression." He is an exception to the rule for Purdue:
Of course, the one thing I haven't addressed yet is the abysmal shooting from the Michigan State game. Let's face it: aside from Barlow, Lewis Jackson, and Terone Johnson, we're a jump shooting team. If they are falling, we look good. If Robbie Hummel is 0 for 926,012,965 (approximate) we're not going to look good. Rob looked awful on Saturday and dejected as a whole.
The center position is a platoon of three underclassmen who have ridiculously small usage, very high TO rates, and mainly contribute with offensive rebounding. Hummel is the only other guy on the roster taller than 6'5". Purdue is a short team overall.
Purdue's conference schedule is an eerie inversion of Michigan's, with losses to Wisconsin, Penn State (by 20!), and Michigan State. They have beaten Iowa twice in two attempts, unlike Michigan. Both teams have beaten Minnesota; Purdue also has a win over Illinois.
Their nonconference schedule is kind of eh. They have a few victories over opponents in the bottom half of the Kenpom top top 100 (#61 Iona, #52 Temple, #76 Miami (That Miami)) and losses against #18 Alabama, #51 Xavier, and #133 Butler.
|Factor||Offense (Rk)||Defense (Rk)||Avg|
|Effective FG%:||50.3 130||47.6.0 125||49|
|Turnover %:||14.8 1||21.9 113||20.8|
|Off. Reb. %:||33.3 142||31.2 114||32.5|
|FTA/FGA:||36.8 158||37.6 206||36.5|
Purdue is middling at everything except taking care of the ball, at which they are the best in the country. Other tempo free stats that jump out are terrible free-throw shooting (63%), poor three-point defense, and a somewhat high rate of threes.
Hello more Douglass. Horford is still out so expect more small lineups featuring Stu Douglass against a team that is pretty small and appears to ignore their posts offensively.
Somebody other than Novak shoot straight. Or get it to Novak, but he's never going to be a huge usage guy. Michigan's two point shooting has still been pretty good in the tougher section of the schedule. The bleeding is coming from three, where Evan Smotrycz, Tim Hardaway, and to a lesser extent Matt Vogrich and Douglass are renovating Crisler brick by brick. Hardaway is averaging almost six threes a game and hitting 27%. Smotrycz has dropped ten points off his three point shooting in an awful slump; Douglass is at 33%, Vogrich 23%.
I'm not sure how much of that is random chance and how much of it is poor shot selection, but the trend is clear. Michigan is a terrific two-point-shooting team and launches 44% of their shots from three. That's just the offense. Michigan has to start hitting. There's not really another option.
Except for Hardaway. Hardaway has options. Good God, man, you are 6'5" and can jump out of the gym. Go to the hoop. I want Hardaway to commit a charge per game from here on out. If he gets an open three, fine, but no more of this contested jack stuff. His shot selection is becoming getting reminiscent of Manny Harris.
Watch Hummel self-destruct, or just destruct. Purdue's coming off a hammering at the hands of Michigan State in which Robbie Hummel went 0 of 11 from the floor. If that happens again Purdue is not winning. That is not going to happen again. Hopefully this won't, either:
Hummel has been very good against Michigan in the past and will be in the friendly confines of Mackey; do not expect a repeat.
If you're getting the vibe that terrible shooting from people you think are good shooters has plagued both teams, well, yeah. Whoever ends up losing this game is going to sink further into their ice-cold funk.
Keep Jackson out of the lane. As I said above, easier said than done but if Burke can D Jackson up like he did Jordan Taylor that is huge.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Purdue by 4.
With the Thursday Recruitin' posts getting lengthy and signing day just over a week away, we decided—with the help of some reader requests—that it would be best to do two recruiting roundups per week. So, welcome to Tuesday Recruitin', which should serve to wrap up the happenings of the previous weekend and set the table for the upcoming week. Thursday Recruitin' will now be moved to Friday and focus on any upcoming visits while catching up with the events of the week. This new setup allows me to get more recruiting information to you each week and should cut down on the total link overload that was quickly becoming an unwanted staple of my recruiting roundups. Anyways, there is much to discuss, so let's get this party started.
Caleb Stacey Decommits; How Will M Round Out The Class?
Caleb Stacey announced on Saturday that he was changing his commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati, citing a desire to stay close to home during college:
"When it came down to it, Caleb just wanted to stay closer to home," said Oak Hills assistant coach Kyle Ralph. "He's a Cincinnati kid, and as it came down to it, he was more comfortable staying home in Cincinnati."
In fact, Stacey actually got in touch with the Cincinnati coaching staff himself, as they had respected his pledge to Michigan and backed off from recruiting him. Stacey's decommitment leaves the Wolverines with 23 commits (four along the O-line) in the class of 2012, leaving up to five spots available. While Michigan looks to have a good shot with higher-ranked offensive linemen Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Alex Kozan, Stacey's absence will be felt—he was the only current commit projected to play center, a position of great need for the Wolverines, and only Kozan looks like he could fill that void.
This week will be huge for offensive line recruiting, starting with Josh Garnett's announcement on Thursday afternoon. Garnett has officially narrowed his choices to a final two of Michigan and Stanford ($, info in header), as expected. Michigan did get the last word, as Brady Hoke made the final in-home visit to Garnett on Sunday. I expect Garnett to end up as a Wolverine, though that's admittedly based on zero inside knowledge of his recruitment.
Hoke also has the final in-home visit with Kozan, who will choose between Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn. Kozan told GoBlueWolverine that he will announce his choice "right after the Coach Hoke visit," which is scheduled for this Friday ($). He claims no leader at this time, and Hoke has the chance to make a very strong pitch—with Stacey out of the class, Kozan could be the most important recruit left on the board due to his ability to play center.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce his decision on February 3rd—two days after signing day—between Michigan, Ohio State, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Michigan coaches have an in-home visit with him today, and he also maintains there's no leader in his recruitment.
Moving on to other position groups, two major targets formally decommitted this week: cornerback Armani Reeves from Penn State (same as Diamond link) and tight end Sam Grant from Boston College ($, info in header). Both could make their decisions as soon as this week. Reeves is now down to Michigan and Ohio State, and hosted Brady Hoke on Saturday before welcoming Urban Meyer—along with OSU assistants Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel—to his home last night. While some Buckeye insiders anticipated a commitment, none has come, and Greg Mattison will see Reeves tonight for his final in-home visit. This looks like a 50/50 tossup.
Grant, meanwhile, will likely choose between Michigan, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
A few happy trails: Yuri Wright found a home at Colorado despite recently being kicked out of Don Bosco Prep for his controversial tweets; Monty Madaris will decide on Wednesday, and he appears to be down to Cincinnati and Michigan State; four-star OL and soft Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson plans to announce his choice on Saturday between the Badgers, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC and Auburn ($).
Receiver Commits: Anything But Divas
You have likely read the story of receiver commit Amara Darboh, who lost his parents to the civil war in Sierra Leone when he was just two years old before finding his way to Des Moines, where he found a family and eventually became a four-star football recruit. Chantel Jennings profiled Michigan's other receiver commit, Jehu Chesson, on WolverineNation today, and the article is well worth the cost of ESPN Insider. I'll do my best to block-quote as little as possible, and encourage you to read the whole thing, which details Chesson's charity work—along with his knack for juggling—as well as his path to the United States ($):
In 1993 Chesson was born in war-torn Liberia in the middle of its first civil war. The country had broken into factions, and by the time the war was over in 1996, nearly 200,000 Liberians had died. Chesson moved from Liberia to the Ivory Coast, and from the Ivory Coast to St. Louis when he was 5.
He doesn't have many memories from that early in his life, but he saw on TV when Liberia fought its second civil war and the unrest that has come from it.
He could be angry. He still has family in Africa. His grandmother is there.
But Chesson said the kids have taught him how to forgive. He laughs when he talks about two young kids at the camp who fight and punch one another, but 10 minutes later they're playing with each other again.
He said that even though some of those kids have very little, they have the capacity to forgive, which some adults -- who've been tarnished by money or pessimism -- can't do.
"The best and worst part of it all is that I can ponder a question about why some are born into greatness and others never get a chance," Chesson said. "I'll probably never get an answer. But I can give of myself, which is sort of like working toward an answer."
The level of maturity shown by Chesson—as well as Darboh—would put many 30-year-olds to shame, and I'm very excited to see him don the winged helmet and, more importantly, get the opportunity to earn a degree from Michigan.
The Detroit News is rolling out daily profiles of the recruits on their Blue Chip list, and so far they've covered Terry Richardson, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Matt Godin, and Devin Funchess. Most of it is fluff—Richardson discusses his spirituality, Ross—like Ben Braden—played hockey, RJS wants to be a chef, Godin wanted to play QB as a HS freshman, and Funchess plans to become a coach—but for those doubting Ross's size and ability to play inside, he has a message for you:
"I believe my size benefits me," he said. "I'm quick to the ball. When I was at the Army (All American) Game, I was able to get to the ball quickly. I'm able to get through the holes. I make the reads, and at the snap of the ball I can step into those holes. Can I get stronger? Sure I can. And I will."
Ross said the U-M coaches have no plans to move him to another position and that he is slated to play weak-side linebacker.
"I'll be the linebacker that checks the slot receiver or the running back out of the backfield," he said.
We'll see in the fall if Ross is really 6'1", 220 pounds, as the article claims, but even if he's a little smaller I think WLB is the best position for him.
Quick 2013 Hitters; New 2014 (!) Offer
A quick roundup of the news on current junior prospects:
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who visited Michigan last weekend and holds an early offer, has the Wolverines in his top three with Florida and FSU ($, info in header).
- Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman revealed a list of upcoming visits on his Twitter; he plans to take a trip to Ann Arbor in March, and he's also got visits set for Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame. He's also looking at Miami and North Carolina for potential unofficials.
- In case you missed it, Michigan was one of several schools to recently offer Monaca (PA) Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, an early candidate for five-star status ($, info in header).
- Four-star Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt had the coaches drop by last week ($, info in header), and he says Michigan will be in the mix when it comes time to narrow down his list of schools.
- Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights ATH De'Niro Laster told Greg Mattison he plans to take an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor the weekend after signing day ($, info in header).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata four-star DE Tashawn Bower expects a Michigan offer soon after talking with Coach Curt Mallory ($).
- Sam Webb's weekly DetNews piece is on Lemont (IL) OL Ethan Pocic, who recently earned top offensive lineman honors at the Core6 Showcase in Westmont, IL, which also featured top junior linemen like Logan Tuley-Tillman and Colin McGovern.
- Happy trails to Trotwood-Madison cornerback Cam Burrows, as one of the top players in Ohio pledged to Ohio State last week.
Finally, Michigan gave out its second verbal offer to a class of 2014 prospect. Woodbridge (VA) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand picked up his sixth offer as the Wolverines joined Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, N.C. State and Rutgers. Hand tallied 21 sacks as a sophomore and earned district Co-Defensive MVP honors. Michigan's other sophomore offeree is also a defensive lineman, Highland (UT) DT Bryan Mone, teammate of 2012 pledge Sione Houma.