That's the type of camp we're talking about, right?
It's summer camp season across the country, with the Sound Mind Sound Body taking place in Southfield last week (and affording IL OL Jordan Diamond an opportunity to stop in Ann Arbor ($, info in header)). The Incredible Hoke was amongst the speakers.
Michigan's camp started Sunday, and runs until this upcoming weekend. The Free Press runs down Michigan's ongoing summer camp, including tidbits that FL QB Tyler Cameron plans to attend (and hopefully earn an offer), and OH QB Austin Appleby is in the same position.
MI TE Ron Thompson may visit Michigan this week. He and the coaches may get a chance to discuss whether there's still a place for him in the recruiting class.
Tom has a big list of camp visitors of interest.
Last Train out of Columbus
First, OH DE Tom Strobel committed to Michigan a week ago, then Kyle Dodson to Wisconsin, and finally Se'Von Pittman to Michigan State this week (after rumors he had tried to commit to Michigan's coaches a week ago). All three players were heavy Buckeye leans until Jim Tressel resigned.
Did something happen at Ohio State? Because they're sure hemorrhaging commits (and presumed locks to commit) lately. The AP explores the positive effects for Michigan of Ohio State's little difficulty following the rules:
"When I filled out Strobel's evaluation card after talking to [Tom Strobel], I wrote down, '95 percent going to Ohio State,'" CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "I thought he was a lock and I thought the Top 10 recruits in Ohio would all end up going to Ohio State. But now, with Tressel gone and so much uncertainty hanging over the program, I'm not so sure."
"There's no doubt he's going after Ohio kids," Strobel said, "and I think he's going to be able to get a few."
The article mentions that Michigan is in very good position for OH DE Adolphus Washington, teammate of WR Dwayne Stanford. Even Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is seeing openings with high-academic kids (he can't say names, but that's secret code for "Ifeadi Odenigbo").
It's pretty much for the past few months I've become really good friends with Tom Strobel and he said I would love it up there, he fell in love with it. Tom was up there last weekend and he was talking about me with the coaches, they were joking around saying we could be roommates. I think Chris [Wormley] will be up there too [TomVH: I confirmed with Wormley that he is visiting this weekend]. I'm closer with Tom, but I am friends with Chris.
This would be a huge recruiting win if Michigan's coaches could lock him down, and it would allow them to be very selective about other linemen for the class. With Chris Wormley visiting as well, and inching toward a decision, the turmoil in Columbus might help swing him Blue sooner rather than later (fingers crossed).
The OZone's Tony Gerdeman says that he expects another 5-star Buckeye to decommit this week. OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn is the only player who fits that bill, and has expressed Michigan interest despite his OSU commitment. Duane Long is having a panic attack about the coaching situation's effect on recruiting.
OH S Jarrod Wilson sat down with his coaches last week, and again on Monday. They're trying to decide whether Jarrod is ready to make his school choice between Michigan, Penn state, and Notre Dame. The next meeting takes place on Friday.
The process might end a little sooner than I expected. I can't wait to get up to Michigan to visit.
That certainly sounds promising.
MI CB LEVITICUS PAYNE(!!!) is still showing interest in Michigan. [Ed: With Standifer and Richardson in the class, the Payne train has likely... uh... sailed. Alas.]
Michigan is seeking at least a couple more offensive linemen in this class, an TN OL Blake Bars could be one of them. Tom talked to him about the process:
My top schools are probably Penn State, Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU, and Michigan. There are some other schools I would maybe want to consider, but that's my top group right now. We're focusing on visiting the top schools right now, and we really wanted to visit Michigan.
That was over the weekend, so no word on how it went, though if he's now closing in on a decision ($, info in header), hopefully well.
AZ OL Andrus Peat is one of the nation's top prospects, and he talked to Tom about his recent Ann Arbor visit:
I was really impressed with everything. I could definitely see myself playing there. I don't know when I'll make my decision, just whenever I feel right. I will probably take official visits and then decide after my senior season.
He plans to cut his list down to 5-8 schools now that he's visited some of his top options.
Michigan recently offered big GA WR Jason Croom, and Tom talked to his mother about the recruiting process:
From a parent stand point this is home, from an academic stand point it's great, and distance wouldn't matter because he would be surrounded by family. It's convenient. One of the [Michigan] coaches actually grew up in the same neighborhood as me and we didn't know it.
With family in metro Detroit, Croom is planning to visit Ann Arbor later this summer. HOWEVA, Croom claims that he'll only play in the SEC, so don't get your hopes up.
Friday Night Lights
In promoting the Big Day Prep Showdown (more about this event as Friday Night Lights approaches), MI CB Commit Terry Richardson talks about why he picked Michigan, and how he's preparing for his senior year.
They'll be opponents for this game, but teammates at the next level, and MI TE Commit Devin Funchess reps his future colors in the same video series:
He says he'll play both at the end of the line and split out in college, confirming the H-back hypotheses that people have raised on his position at Michigan. He played well at Eastern's 7-on-7:
He's long, lean, and runs good routes. We knew he could go up and get it, but what he did here that we hadn't seen as much, was display run after the catch ability. He caught a short out, turned upfield and out ran an entire defense on one touchdown. He'll have weight to add to become an effective tight end, but he's a matchup problem waiting to happen.
Definite tweener at this point. His teammate, MI WR Aaron Burbridge, doesn't give a whole lot of insight on the recruiting process, but does list Michigan first among his offers, for what it's worth. Burbridge impressed at EMU's 7-on-7:
In the championship game, we saw him catch five touchdowns in almost as many possessions, showing great explosiveness and outstanding ball skills. One of the scoring grabs was a wheel route he ran from the backfield and he was doubled on the play, but went up over two defenders to make the grab. He also had a great day at corner, intercepting several passes and breaking up many others. He is without a doubt, an elite talent.
Get those grades in order, my guy.
Also in the realm of the committed, but going one class into the past, the Ohio-Pennsylvania Big 33 Showdown happened over the weekend, and the Michigan East-West All-Star game takes place this weekend at Central Michigan. They'll get recapped in the final Friday Night Lights feature for 2011. Then I'll start looking forward to the 2012 class's senior year soon.
NY QB Chad Kelly, who had yet to receive a Michigan offer, committed to Clemson.
NC OL DJ Humphries is down to 5 non-Michigan schools.
TX OL Trey Keenan committed to Texas Tech.
OH DE Se'Von Pittman committed to Michigan State. There was a rumor that he had tried to commit to Michigan a couple weeks back, but told by the coaches to work on his academics before they'd accept a commitment.
NJ S Brandon Napoleon, who had shown some interest in Michigan, but didn't have an offer, committed to West Virginia.
Michigan's summer camp is a good opportunity for the coaches to get to know some underclassmen, and decide which to offer. One of those guys who recently received an offer was MI OL Steven Elmer, the subject of last week's Sam Webb recruiting column:
"While it is early, I see Elmer and Shane Morris battling it out for the top spot in the state for the class of 2013. Right now, because I've seen more of Morris and he has performed well at national settings, he has the edge. However, Elmer's athletic gifts definitely give him a shot to unseat the Warren DeLaSalle quarterback."
Trieu talked about the skills that make Elmer such a special prospect:
"Steve Elmer stands out on tape," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "He has fantastic size at 6-6 and 297 pounds, and has the type of athleticism, knee bend, and general coordination colleges look for in a prospect. He gets off the ball well, plays with good pad level, and appears to be a strong kid already. I'd like to see him finish blocks stronger and maybe play a little meaner, but as far as physical tools go, he has the goods."
Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame seem to be the top competition early in the process. Elmer is open to making an early decision if he finds the right place for him, and Tom talked to his dad about their thoughts on Ann Arbor.
A good performance at Michigan's camp netted an offer for OH LB Ben Gedeon (#, info in header).
MI RB Wyatt Shallman recently stopped in Ann Arbor for a quick camp visit (though he did not work out).
CO OL Chris Fox impressed at Michigan camp, and may receive an offer soon.
Great. Let's never do this again. Because it's June and someone had a pretty good idea for June, the Big Ten Network had its own awards show. They named Denard Robinson the breakout player and possessor of the "most dominant performance," that his 500+ yards against Notre Dame. Michigan 67, Illinois 65 was Game of the Year:
There wasn't much competition—the other candidates were Wisconsin's 13-point win over OSU and a basketball game.
Something interesting might happen next time. The NCAA hockey rules committee didn't do much other than the bi-annual point of emphasis about this or that (this time around it's hits to unsuspecting players and diving), but there are four interesting things under consideration for the next cycle:
- Four-on-four OT. This is "strongly" under consideration along with other methods to get a winner including a lengthened OT period. Shootouts will continue to be allowed, but support for mandating them is "limited."
- Awarding obviously imminent goals if the net is dislodged by the defense. This may be in direct response to an event at the Big Chill:
Michigan State did score, though. They put in a power play goal when a puck deflected high off Hunwick and fluttered to the goal line to be batted in, but a nanosecond before that happened Hunwick fell into the net and knocked it off. While the refs got the call right, it was totally unfair: you definitely scored, you didn't do anything to get the net off, and you still get nothing. They should probably change it so that if your goal is imminent when the defense knocks the net off you still get it.
I'm in favor, obviously.
- Dumping cages for visors. This is mostly to look as cool as CHL players. Red was in favor of this, IIRC, but I have a hard time seeing it pass in the safety-first NCAA.
- Allowing hand passes everywhere or disallowing them entirely. At first blush allowing hand-passes in the defensive zone only does look weird but I think this is one of those rules that evolved over time to be the least annoying option. Allowing a guy on the ground to slide a puck to a teammate for a goal seems ridiculous to me; banning defensive-zone hand passes will just mean more whistles since players will do it anyway. The alternative—an ugly turnover by a guy not in position to recover—is worse.
Sadly, the hockey rules committee remains ignorant to the existential threat posed by too many offsides whistles.
Hockey now plz. That exhibition against a Canadian team is going to be the most exciting exhibition against a Canadian team ever:
Brandon uber alles. I hope to yell "I CAN SEE YOUR PORES, WHICH ARE CALM AND EXCELLENT PORES, LET ME TELL YOU" at Jon Merrill next year.
Yost yesterday, Yost today, Yost tomorrow, Yost forever. It's kind of a duh statement to make after Yost has just had its fifth renovation since the mid-90s approved, this one a 14-million-dollar one, but Yost Ice Arena is not going anywhere. Red:
“I think Michigan has been really happy with our building and our program for the most part and they’d like to maintain that at this point,” Berenson added. “I think they like Yost so much that they don’t see a reason to build another building. And so, if we like Yost that much, well then why don’t we fix it up?”
This renovation costs twice as much as the other four combined and with the new scoreboard is a definitive statement Yost is the future for the hockey program for at least the next 20 years.
This might be surprising coming from a guy who is militantly pro-tradition, but I have some mixed feelings about that. A lot of Yost's sightlines are sub-optimal and the weird overhang from the club seats/press box means the last few rows are surprisingly bad places to see a game in a 7,000 seat arena. That'll be even more true next year when people stuck in those seats are peering at the 90's-vintage tube TVs used as a substitute for the scoreboards. Whenever I go to Munn I think "this is a nice building even if it is filled with zombie monks" because there are many fewer bad seats.
I'm not sure if this is even possible but if they want to maintain the building as is without it being so cramped they might want to think about lowering the ice surface ten feet or so, which would allow them to reclaim those rows at the back of the arena and make the seating steeper to provide better viewing angles.
Let's destroy college baseball to save it. Man, Jim Delany has some crazy ideas about college baseball:
Perception says the Big Ten doesn't care about baseball. But no administrator in America has pressed harder to revamp the system. Delany's biggest ideas:
• Adopt a national start date in March or April and move the season deeper into summer.
• Devalue the RPI, which favors Sun Belt schools.
• Ditch the current method of national seeding and return to regional qualification for the College World Series.
College baseball's answer: No. No. No.
Then, last summer, Delany formally proposed the CWS move from eight teams to 10, with the two new slots reserved for cold-weather schools. Cold shoulder again.
“I've got no more proposals,” Delany told the World-Herald. “I'm out of ideas. What else can we possibly do?”
There is one alternative. Delany expresses interest — though he hasn't officially proposed it — in an even bolder plan: Secede from the South. Form a new college baseball division. Compete for a different national championship.
"Hey, guys, I know you think this is insane and want to spit on my grave, which is in Transylvania next to Joe Paterno's, but wait until you hear these proposed Division names…
wait for it…
wait for it…
this is so exciting…
Leotards and Leopards."
The article linked above follows that list of wacky ideas up with a lot of Southerners laughing at Jim Delany and telling him he's killing his conference by not allowing oversigning. Southerners reading this post may have just involuntarily done the "just like football clapclaplclap" chant.
BONUS WEIRD ITEM: Jim Delany's first presentation to the NCAA about equity in baseball was made one day before 9/11. #coincidenceithinknot
(HT: The Bylaw Blog.)
Etc.: TSN's final NHL draft rankings are a little more down on John Gibson than most—he's 37th, one spot in front of OHL defector Lucas Lessio—but surprisingly include D commit Brennan Serville at #60. They don't have a picture or explanation for this, but that's quite a rise from Canisius commitment to fringe second rounder.
Doctor Saturday profiles Nathan Scheelhaase, the main reason Illinois is a potentially frightening opponent next year. Eamonn Brennan on Michigan basketball's sudden turnaround. The Daily profiles Zach Hyman.
If they can figure out you are doing something shady, you're in trouble.
Yesterday Oregon produced an FOIA data-dump that initially caused yawns. Important people on my twitter said "nothing to see here," so I didn't look. Then Doctor Saturday said it again:
And as far as NCAA violations are concerned, frankly, it seems there's not a whole lot to see there: Oregon paid its money, and received its materials, as do many other schools that use recruiting services within NCAA rules.
And then Doctor Saturday related what Oregon had bought with its 25 grand:
Amid the documents released by Oregon related to the football scouting services inquiry were 140 recruiting profiles of high school players under the heading "2010 National High School Evaluation Booklet." Above each individual profile, however, reads "Player Profile 2011." The related invoice cites the "2011 National Package."
A search of all the players listed revealed that virtually all graduated from high school in 2009 with a few graduating in 2010 or 2008.
And I'm all like wait a dang minute here. Oregon paid a guy $25k for perfectly useless information and it seems like people are reacting like this isn't a major violation on a plate. Andy Staples comes to the rescue, but even as he does he feels the need to point out paying 25k for nothing may not be against NCAA rules:
Even if the payment was for something else, investigators probably couldn't have proved the Ducks broke any 2010-vintage NCAA rule regarding scouting services. But that only holds true if Lyles produced something resembling a legitimate product. If Kelly or any of his coaches tried to pass off the booklet released Monday as legitimate, NCAA investigators might consider that a fib on the level of, say, claiming a recruit wasn't at a cookout at a coach's house when he actually was or, possibly, conveniently forgetting to mention that series of e-mails about the tattoo parlor. Ask former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel how those fibs turned out for them. It's relatively unclear whether any NCAA rule in 2010 could prohibit a school from paying a recruiting service $1 million, much less $25,000. But it's crystal clear that in 2010, the NCAA rulebook forbade lying to the NCAA.
Meanwhile in North Carolina, Greg Little's license plate thing gets even more bizarre:
Between March 9 and April 29, 2009 Little’s Dodge was issued 16 parking violations under three separate license plates. The car was cited three days in a row from March 30 to April 2, and each time had a different plate. On April 13, the car was cited twice, with two different plate numbers.
Many of these plates are "linked to a car dealer currently serving time in federal prison for money laundering."
Even more meanwhile, the Ohio BMV says there is nothing to see here with the Ohio State car purchases:
The BMV's 65-page report issued Tuesday said the certificates of titles for cars sold by Jack Maxton Chevrolet and Auto Direct to players and families accurately reflected the vehicles' sales prices.
This leaves Ohio State dealing with tattoos and memorabilia and nine guys with dealer plates instead of temporary tags and several other things besides.
The question the NCAA is going to have to answer soon is "how obviously fishy does something have to be before we punish someone?" Each of the three items above falls at a different place on the you-expect-me-to-believe-that scale:
- Actual car purchases by Ohio State people checked out by governmental organization: not that fishy in and of itself. Add the loaners and the memorabilia and the cuddly relationship and there's still a cocktail of NCAA violations, but the actual sale of vehicles that were apparently sold for book value or above in most cases is plausibly on the up and up. The sheer concentration of sales and murky value of used cars makes it unlikely there wasn't some extra benefits going on, but proving that seems required if that particular slice of the Ohio State issues is going to produce anything.
- Greg Little's ever-rotating license plate from guy serving time for money-laundering: there might be some level of plate and car swapping that is reasonably explained. Little clearly exceeds that and is hooked up with a guy who was in some dirt. Other schools monitor traffic/parking infractions closely; if UNC did so they would have ended up suspending Little a lot sooner. This should be the ground for a failure to monitor charge, one that will be part of a more general hammering for John Blake's clear knowledge of Marvin Austin, et al., and their magic carpet rides.
- Oregon paying 25k for perfectly useless paper: if you had purchased a $25,000 vehicle and found out it was in fact a rabbit, you would get your money back. You would instruct your credit card company not to honor the charge or sue or something. You would not go on your way, maintaining a positive relationship with the man who sold you a rabbit he told you was an Escalade. This is fishiness that should rise to the level of a major NCAA violation in and of itself, a clear quid-pro-quo with no plausible explanation.
The NCAA dared to make inferences in the USC case, something that forms the basis for much of the Trojan outrage surrounding the case. They made a leap of logic many fourth-graders could make. Oregon obviously fails the fourth-grader test. North Carolina likely does. In this instance, Ohio State does not; with the loaners they do.
Ohio State OL commit Kyle Kalis has been caught in the mix with the Ohio State allegations. He said that he was set to decommit from the Buckeyes until interim head coach Luke Fickell talked him out of it. Kalis then went on to say that he does have interest in Michigan and a few other schools. He told me tonight that he and his father will be visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: Is there any chance that you head up to Michigan this week for their camp?
KYLE: Yeah me and my dad are going up there this weekend to meet everyone for a visit. We're driving up Friday night then staying all day Saturday.
TOM: What prompted this visit? I know that you've been saying you are interested in Michigan, but why visit now?
KYLE: It's pretty much for the past few months I've become really good friends with Tom Strobel and he said I would love it up there, he fell in love with it. Tom was up there last weekend and he was talking about me with the coaches, they were joking around saying we could be roommates. I think Chris [Wormley] will be up there too [TomVH ed: I confirmed with Wormley that he is visiting this weekend]. I'm closer with Tom, but I am friends with Chris.
TOM: Is that important for you to have people that you already know there, too?
KYLE: Yeah, a big part of me liking Michigan is being able to come in with guys like Tom, maybe Chris [Wormley], being able to know that I'll practice with guys that are going to make me better.
TOM: I'm assuming your dad is an Ohio State fan too, what has he said about all this?
KYLE: He's actually not an Ohio State fan, he's indifferent. With him he's already been through this so he tells me to go with my heart. He's told me to get up there and talk with Coach Hoke, get up there and meet them in person.
TOM: What are you looking to get out of this visit
KYLE: The main thing is just getting a chance to sit down with Coach Hoke and a big thing is also to meet with the strength coach. I want to sit down with him and see his tactics. I also want to sit down with Coach Funk and maybe meet a few of the players.
TOM: Is this your first time up there?
KYLE: Yes, this will be the first time. Tom [Strobel] said when you get up there it's just a different place.
TOM: What's next after this? Are you taking any more visits?
KYLE: This summer I might get out to Auburn, Alabama, Iowa, or Miami. I probably won't get out to all of them, I want to enjoy my summer so we'll see.
Site business. Two things:
- I am getting married this Saturday in a top-secret location far away from any images of Fielding Yost. I am taking Friday and Monday off; Tom and Tim will produce content as per usual. If you've got a diary you want front-paged this would be an opportune time to post it. Content from me will be light this week because a bunch of friends I don't get to see will be in town, etc.
- I'm warning you about this a month ahead of time: honeymoon is in late July for about ten days and I am probably not even going to take my computer.
Your understanding is appreciated.
I'm partial to the rally pickle myself.
Mascot business. I took a rage day so that I wouldn't say anything regrettable in the aftermath of the mascot trial balloon, leaving the rest of the world to offer Dave Brandon a raspberry and Brandon to quickly clarify that while he is all seeing and all knowing he is very very wily and no mascot is pending. Even while doing so he leaves himself an out, saying it "may never happen."
Q: In retrospect do you believe that Brandon announcing the OSU game would be moving to midseason was really a super-clever way to get everyone outraged about it and therefore ensure it doesn't happen?
The M-Zone makes a compelling case that we should not. After that fan explosion we've had the uniform business and the mascot business and at about the same time we've had the night game business. (While I don't care that much about having a night game, it is a departure from tradition.) The evidence points towards Dave Brandon being so intent on "creating the future" that he has absolutely no grasp on what's important to the fanbase until everyone's freaking out about it.
Worse, he spends time belittling the kind of people who do really care. From the inbox:
Below response to my (very short and very respectful) email to Dave Brandon today asking him to reconsider a Michigan mascot. I actually responded to this, against my better judgment, and said that if there's a man in a furry wolverine costume on the sideline than it'll wind up being more life-changing for him than for me.
Please don’t be too concerned over this life-changing topic!
All will be OK…
Have a great weekend!
I'm not sure how this happened since Dave Brandon was actually on the team under Bo, but the current athletic director appears to have no more connection to Michigan's traditions than—wait for it—Rich Rodriguez.
I really care about what goes on inside Michigan Stadium; Brandon thinks this makes me a sap.
At least he's not alone.
Convenient timing. Meanwhile, one of the main counter-arguments against Old Testament kind of guys who like their coffee black, parole denied, and Michigan Stadium old-timey is that if we don't get that cheddar Michigan will be left in the dust by its rivals.
Presenting Michigan's 2012 budget:
For the proposed FY 2012 Operating Budget (described in detail on the following pages), we project an operating surplus of $11.4 million based on operating revenues of $121.2 million and operating expenses of $109.8 million. The budgeted operating surplus will be will be used to fund our ongoing capital needs and facility renewal projects.
Bill Martin's great accomplishment was killing the immediate cheddar issue dead without compromising the brand that packs the largest stadium in the country. Further squeezing starts to impact the uniqueness of the Michigan experience and erodes the reasons people shell out as much as they do.
Unfair and true and BERGKAMP. Here is Denard Robinson's 87-yard touchdown against Notre Dame last year, first narrated by Tom Hammond, then your inner monologue:
It's not fair comparing Tom Hammond to whoever the BERGKAMP guy is, but he does have a point. Maybe Americans get more confused about whether sports is serious business worthy of objectivity or not.
For a counterpoint EDSBS immediately goes to Sean McDonough, who's the first guy I thought of, too:
Q: Franklin is retired and Nessler is now on the NFL network, so is McDonough now the undisputed #1 college football announcer? I can't think of anyone I'd rather have doing a Michigan game.
Welcome to the field. The O-Zone reports on the latest edition of the Big 33 PA-OH All-Star game, in which Ohio annihilated Pennsylvania. Featured amongst the players of interest is WLB signee Antonio Poole:
Antonio Poole, LB Cincinnati Winton Woods 6'0” 195 (Michigan)
I think Poole may have been the most impressive defensive player on the field. He's only listed at 6'0” 195 pounds, but he sticks ball-carriers right between the numbers and they stay stuck. When he's in pursuit, he looks much bigger than he is. He certainly hits much bigger than he is. He may not be big enough to play linebacker in the Big Ten right now, but the Wolverines may not be able to wait.
That's true—WLB is currently Mike Jones and maybe Brandin Hawthorne.
Goalie zen part XVI. Red Line Report is down on this year's crop of goalies but they do have a solid #1. Prepare for the same scouting report you've heard several times before:
The clear-cut No. 1 guy is John Gibson, who combines excellent size and a calm demeanor in the most important games. He plays economically and is strong in the butterfly, using his long legs to take away the bottom half of the net. Gibson is a big netminder who plays big, challenging well and not leaving much space for shooters to look at. He's also calm and patient and allows the play to come to him. We like his mental strength and focus in clutch situations.
They don't like the other Gibson, so John is the only goalie they give a first round grade.
Etc.: Penn State blog Linebacker U interviews Tom for his perspective on Michigan and Penn State recruiting.
|Highland Park, MI - 5'10" 175|
|Scout||3*, #49 CB|
|Rivals||4*, #14 ATH, #6 MI|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #95 ATH|
|Others||3*, 88, to 247.|
|Other Suitors||Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana|
|YMRMFSPA||shorter Troy Woolfolk|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
There are also some seven on seven highlights out there.
Bear with me here: Raymon Taylor is a reasonably-sized local cornerback who made it clear Michigan his his dream school from day one. An example from June($), five months before he'd actually get a Michigan offer:
“Whoo… (Laughing)… yeah, Michigan. That’s probably one of the biggest the schools. That’s my favorite pick if I ever had an offer. So I would definitely enjoy going there."
Martavious Odoms, meanwhile, is a diminutive wide receiver from Florida who had probably never thought about Michigan before Rich Rodriguez was hired. Despite this, they're analogous recruits.
Both got a fourth star from one, but only one, recruiting service. Both got a smattering of decent but not-that-impressive offers. Both were amongst the first recruits to sign on after a coaching transition and are therefore good gets in context, but not quite thrilling in the wider view.
If Taylor contributes at the level Odoms has it will be a win from multiple perspectives: Michigan will have a member of the secondary and they will have other members of the secondary, which is incomprehensible but sounds pretty cool.
Taylor's recruiting saga was an odd one if only because committing to Indiana and Michigan in the same recruiting cycle is a rare trick indeed (though Jibreel Black just made a similar switch last year). Once it seemed like no Michigan offer was en route, Taylor leapt on the Hoosier offer despite the fact it was far from his best: Wisconsin, Illinois, and Cincinnati all offered a chance to do something other than lose miserably for his college career*. Taylor chose the ineffable lightness of Bill Lynch.
After Lynch got axed, Taylor maintained he was committed but started looking around a bit. Michigan renewed its interest and Taylor prepared to commit just in time for Rich Rodriguez to meet his own demise. Undeterred, Taylor hung around for Hoke to get his bearings, figuring the first order of business would be "oh God, the secondary." It was. He got an offer and jumped on it. Word got out quickly:
"I went to the (Briarwood) mall and a guy already knew about it," Taylor said. "He was working at a store and me, Devin (Gardner) and Denard (Robinson) walked in and he said something. It was a Foot Locker shoe store. It's great, like an hour after it happened. It was real time."
Before that his renewed final five was Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and… uh… Toledo. With the by-that-point-withdrawn Wisconsin offer that's a solid list worthy of a guy somewhere between Rivals' rating ("basically Blake Countess") and those of Scout and ESPN ("bler").
As far as what sort of player Taylor is, change of direction appears to be an issue. At least, I imagine so if this is the top of the head comparison from Touch The Banner:
He reminds me of outgoing senior cornerback James Rogers. Rogers was a standout receiver/running back with great speed in high school, but he wasn't all that sudden of a player. Much like Rogers, Taylor doesn't exactly make quick cuts but catches the ball well and can run away from opponents. One thing Taylor has on Rogers, though, is that he's a little more physical.
No offense to a guy who stuck out the last five years and probably that many position changes, but James Rogers is not a very hopeful comparison, especially when Taylor is a couple inches shorter than Rogers.
ESPN rates him as an athlete but says in their scouting report he has the most upside as a "fiesty, tough" corner:
Is slightly undersized, but plays big. Likes to get up in the face of the DB and alter routes and releases. He has adequate hips, can mirror most receivers on double moves and shows good body control and balance. Can turn and run with speedy receivers. Shows burst out of his back pedal and shows very good closing quickness when driving on the ball in front of him. Has sound catch up speed and shows good acceleration when the ball is in the air. Has good leaping ability which helps compensate for his lack of ideal height, adjusts well to the ball in the air and has excellent ball skills.
They praise his open-field tackling and willingness to get after larger ball-carriers while complaining a bit about "stiffness," albeit mostly on offense. It a positive review but when it comes down to the numbers, #95 ATH is kind of not so much.
Scout's Allen Trieu scouted him($) when he was an Indiana commit; he didn't get much action on defense aside from laying a couple of "big hits in run support"; on offense he showed the ability to pull away from the pack:
… he made several big runs and he proved he had the one thing people questioned: speed. He can definitely run, as he pulled away from a fast Tigers team.
Hoke echoes the stuff about hitting dudes:
Hoke signed five defensive backs, including four-star recruit Raymon Taylor, who, as Hoke as said, can “line somebody up and go through the middle of them, like you’re supposed to play the game.”
There is another non-Manball aspect to Taylor's game, and it's the reason a number of sites rated him as an athlete even as they projected him to corner:
"He's real versatile, an athletic kid; he played running back, played receiver," Highland Park coach Cedric Dortch said. "He played quarterback, returned kicks, did some of everything for us. It looks like he'll be playing cornerback there. He was willing to do whatever. But that's his mainstay, when he can sit down and challenge the top receiver.
In college that's going to amount to a shot at returning kicks and punts.
Another coach quote:
“Automatically, even as a freshman you could tell he had a special athleticism," Dertch said. "Then, the past couple of years, he’s put the work in.”
That work eventually got him to Michigan even if he let the veil drop early; hopefully Michigan coming around will make for a productive relationship.
*[In Illinois's case any period of not losing miserably would be followed by a 1-11 crater, but by God they'd lose that BCS game like a fortunate-to-be-there co-champion first.]
Etc.: Trieu, who rates recruits, says he's "underrated," presumably by the Scout hive mind and not Trieu himself. Rivals named him second-team at the Army Combine. Head to head with Arnett at the Michigan Showcase:
Highland Park, Mich., athlete Raymon Taylor, who just added offers from Wisconsin and Indiana, also had a fair bit of success guarding Arnett. The 5-11, 170-pound Taylor could legitimately be either a wide receiver or cornerback on the next level, and he worked both sides on Sunday. Against Arnett he opted to play bump coverage at the line of scrimmage, which worked well on some reps and not so well on others.
Another way in which he's analogous to Odoms:
“My dad and uncle always say, ‘You gotta get out the 'hood’…Some guys on the street come up and they’ll put their arm around you and say, ‘Don’t do what I did.’ I just always looked at it like I don’t want to be one of those guys on the street,” Taylor said.
Why shorter Troy Woolfolk? Corners are always hard for me because so many are off limits: I'm not comparing anyone to Woodson or Todd Howard because either is unfair. Meanwhile, most people including myself don't really remember how corners play because they're not involved that often unless they've screwed up, etc. I find myself going back to the Grant Mason well time and again whenever there's a shortish guy with decent upside.
I grab Woolfolk here because Taylor is a guy who's basically a three star with decent offers and good straight line speed with some questions about his ability to change direction. Woolfolk's got a couple inches on Taylor, but Taylor sounds like a better tackler.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy player who hit a fair number of camps and got senior-year scouting, but a large gap in evaluations across services.
General Excitement Level: Odoms-esque: moderate. Taylor seems to lack the physical ability to be a star but has enough to contribute as a third corner, possibly early, and should get a shot at returning kicks.
Projection: Will get an opportunity to play this year depending on how he does in fall against Countess and Brown; two of those three play as dime backs and special-teamers in preparation for the 2012 battle over Woolfolk's starting spot. The other redshirts. Long term he probably loses that battle because of numbers and Countess, but he's another reasonable bullet in the chamber at a position of great need.