From Portage Northern.
Because I am a modern person there is always time to catch up with twitter when the photographer doesn't need you, so on Saturday I periodically felt awful for Austin Hatch after his life endured a plot twist Lars Von Trier would have rejected as gratuitous. Words fail me in these instances; I'm not supposed to say the one thing everyone else says but here there's not another option.
So… yeah. There is a Caring Bridge site up for Hatch if you'd like to sign his guestbook. If you are the praying sort he's a great target. Michigan is reportedly working with the NCAA to provide whatever help they can. In the past the NCAA has allowed people like Ray Ray McElrathbey to get some help as he took care of his brother, so hopefully they'll allow a fund for Hatch. If that gets set up you will of course be informed.
This was inevitable. When Michigan took a grayshirt commitment from Kentucky safety Jeremy Clark it was inevitable an SEC partisan would take a swing at Michigan for doing so. The inevitable has transpired, so the inevitable defense must as well.
The whole grayshirting issue got dragged into the oversigning conversation because of Bernie Machen and Les Miles's "surprise, you have to move out of the dorm" hijinks with Elliot Porter. The former blasted grayshirting in a slightly confused editorial; the latter was a focus of the Outside The Lines piece that bombed LSU for its practices. It's never been a focus of the internet zealots except insofar as it's a symptom of the larger issue.
Clark knows what the deal is and still finds the grayshirt offer from Michigan preferable to his other options. There's nothing wrong with a mutually agreed-upon grayshirt whether its in the SEC or Big Ten.
Meanwhile in the land of excellent public relations. Ohio State wide receiver James Jackson has become Wayne State wide receiver James Jackson and isn't happy about it:
"They had an oversigning issue," Jackson said. "They had to free up a few scholarships, and coach (Jim) Tressel told me I probably wouldn't play and maybe Ohio State wasn't the place for me."
This quote could not be better designed for SEC fans tired of Oversigning.com, but it's a strange one. If that's the conversation he had and Gene Smith is telling the truth (yeah, yeah, I know) when he says this…
"Our policy is as James Jackson stated: As long as a student-athlete maintains his/her academic standing, behaves appropriately and handles his/her responsibilities, he or she will retain their scholarship. We have no proof of any conversation between he and former head coach Jim Tressel," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.
…then the rest of the article's focus on Jackson's misconception that he had a four-year scholarship is misplaced. What policy did Jackson state? It seems like an important quote related to Smith was omitted from the article.
From the context it seems like Jackson said he could have stayed if he was willing to give up playing time, but then why would he say this bit at the end:
"My main goal coming out of high school was to get a degree from a Division I program," said Jackson, who now attends Wayne State, a Division II school in Michigan. "If I had known they wouldn't keep me in school for four to five years, no matter what, I would have gone somewhere else."
If Tressel said he wasn't going to play and should think about a transfer but Ohio State was willing to sign the scholarship papers if he stuck around, that seems like a reasonable thing to do. The implication in the article is that they wouldn't. But it's never directly stated and it seems that even Jackson said something to the effect that they would have, except then he says they wouldn't. So… great job, Pat Eaton-Robb, you've confused the hell out of everyone.
Ohio State, meanwhile, has an outstanding alibi: from 2002 to 2010 they averaged 20 players per class, tied with Notre Dame for fifth-least amongst BCS schools and behind only the nerd factories at Georgia Tech, Wake Forest, Stanford, and Northwestern. If they are having "oversigning issues" everyone is, system fundamentally broken, etc.
Future relevance. Brady Hoke has said Michigan is planning on taking 26 kids in this recruiting class, which is five or six or seven spots more than they currently have. They've only got a couple fifth year seniors they can reasonably give the Firm Handshake, so unless there is a cavalcade of medical issues and other convenient transfers there are going to be some tense conversations that go like this:
BRADY HOKE: So how do you like Michigan despite never playing and never having any prospect of playing and being way too short to ever play?
SLOT RECEIVER: I love it. Angelo's hollandaise sauce, man. I put it on everything. I took a bath in it last night.
BRADY HOKE: /closes Angelo's by fiat
SLOT RECEIVER: And I am very close to getting my degree in astrophysics.
BRADY HOKE: /turns off the stars
If you can't tell, I'm uneasy about this. The system is full of perverse incentives; if the big conferences are really keen on student welfare above all they should move to a system where the only cap is on the number of signees per year, Title IX be damned.
High five! There are three Big Ten teams who can be perfectly happy that former NC State quarterback Russell Wilson has parachuted into Madison to fill the radioactive hole at quarterback that was the only thing standing between the Badgers and breathless, top-five preseason hype. They are the ones who don't have to play Wisconsin this year. Michigan is one of them. (West divisionmates Iowa and Northwestern are the others.)
In the past month we've seen Michigan's schedule go from relatively friendly to large, face-licking dog: Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor exited Ohio State, leaving the Buckeyes without a coach or experienced/not awful option at QB. Michigan State and Nebraska now have to face a souped-up version of the Badgers. If six things go right and Denard can fuse with Al Borges there's a possibility Michigan could get smoked by Wilson in the Big Ten Championship game.
In old news. Michigan has just about blown through its practice time penalties from the jihad:
"We're very close to the end," Brandon said. "We've done a really good job and picked up a lot of hours. We're well ahead of pace, and we're very close to being done."
Presumably they'll get through the remainder by the Western game, and then be in the clear.
Etc.: Chengelis not a fan of mascots. Andy Staples likes the graduate transfer rule. Former Florida linebacker Channing Crowder is all like "I was Terrelle Pryor except not subject to a federal investigation." Michigan State was really bad on passing downs last year. Golf course will allow groups to park for an extra fee, just like everyone said they should last year. Doctor Saturday features Brady Hoke in their "mandate for change" series and is pitch-perfect.
Michigan's athletic department again has an inexplicable, meaninglessly small amount of university support. I wonder what that is.
Though the senior season for Michigan's 2011 signees is long-gone, and we've moved our recruiting focus to 2012 (and even 2013), A few of Michigan's incoming freshmen participated in their last games as high schoolers over the past two weekends.
Three Michigan commits played in this game - all on the Ohio side, so you should be (kinda) glad to see that Team Ohio won by a lopsided 50-14 score.
According to Eugene Hankerson of GoBlueWolverine, LB Antonio Poole finished with 6 tackles and a sack, DE Keith Heitzman had 3 tackles and a sack, and DE/LB Frank Clark made 2 tackles (though the highlights embedded below certainly show Clark with a big sack at 4:40, and Heitzman scoring a rushing touchdown, so don't take Gene's numbers as gospel truth).
Keith Heitzman fluff.
Heitzman helped set the tone early as his pressure on Pennsylvania quarterback Matt Johnson led to Gabe Gilbert's interception on the game's first possession. Heitzman sacked Johnson in the second quarter, leading to a Pennsylvania punt from its end zone.
"Playing against the best I'm hoping will prepare me a little bit more for what's to come at (the University of) Michigan," Heitzman said.
Duane Long talks Big 33, and no surprise, he spends much of the time fawning over Ohio State commits (both because he's a slappy, and because OSU's players played very well in the game). However, he did manage to mention a couple future Wolverines:
A couple of Michigan kids were outstanding last night. Antonio Poole was the best linebacker in the game. He is a great fit for the hybrid position. Late offer Keith Heitzman from Hilliard Davidson was a major problem off the edge. If [OSU's Steve] Miller didn't have the quarterback dialed in, Heitzman did. It is hard to pick a best lineman in the game out of this lot. You could have picked Miller, [future Kent State running back Trayion] Durham or Heitzman.
Thanks to Eastern PA Football, we have highlights on the internet. You're looking at #2 (Heitzman), #15 (Cark), and #18 (Poole) in red.
There are a couple plays with a better view in this highlight as well.
MHSFCA All-Star Game
This is an East v. West battle in the state of Michigan, and this year, East reigned supreme by a 30-13 score.
LB Desmond Morgan (#48 for the West) was the only Michigan signee who participated, but a few former targets, including Penn State signee Anthony Zettel, also took part. Following the game, Morgan talked to the press:
“Overall, I thought we played pretty solid,” Morgan said. “We came in with a lot of heart and we held that up. We had three or four breakdowns on long balls and that hurt us. There are a lot of great players out here, and it was fun to play with them.”
The game aired on Detroit Public TV (and was streamed online), so video of it may turn up on the internet sometime soon, but I haven't found any yet.
It was a busy weekend for Michigan with both Chris Wormley and Kyle Kalis making it in to visit. With roughly ten spots left (Ed: Now 9!), remaining recruits are watching every move, and Michigan's coaches must be strategic in their actions. Here's a look at what's been happening and what could happen next. As always you can follow me on Twitter here, and if you have any tips or questions email me at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
Chris Fox (2013)
6'6", 297 lbs.
Fox was a standout performer at Michigan's camp this past week. The Michigan coaches liked the 2013 prospect so much that they offered him once he left.
I talked to Coach Hoke and Coach Funk and they offered me. I got a Colorado offer a few weeks ago, too. The [Michigan coaches] told me that I fit what they're trying to accomplish, and that I look like a Michigan guy.
Fox traveled all the way from Colorado to Michigan just to camp, the trip ended up being well worth the distance. Not only did he get his offer but he also started the foundation for a relationship with Coach Funk.
I'm definitely comfortable with Coach Funk and all the coaches there now. Coach Funk was out in Colorado and stopped by our school and I actually have some family that lives up in Michigan. I love Michigan, they have great football and it would be awesome to go there. Both my parents were born and raised in Michigan too. My family is kind of split in half with Michigan and Michigan State fans. Right now I've only heard from Michigan, MSU hasn't really contacted me.
The camp gave Fox a good look at how the Michigan coaches interact with players and a good feel for the campus.
I'd definitely like to get out [to Michigan] for a game this season. It would be great to get out there. I liked everything, the campus was incredible and the Big House is incredible. I don't have a list yet, I'm just going through the process with open eyes looking for my best fit. As of right now Michigan and Colorado are my top two because they've offered.
Now that he's been on campus and gained a level of comfort with the staff, he feels great about what Michigan has to offer and where he is in the process.
It just feels good to know that I have options this early and it feels good to know that I could go there. I'd like to make my decision before my senior year so that's probably what I'll do, sometime next summer.
Fox is a name that seems to be popping up all over the place now, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got some big time attention soon. Early offers for offensive lineman are usually good signs of talent level and Fox should be right up near the top.
6'4", 255 lbs.
Wormley made a visit up to Ann Arbor this weekend. He's been relatively quiet lately and generally doesn't like talking to the media. I did catch up with him via text to see how his visit went, and where he's going from here. He briefly said the following.
It went very well. Yes I definitely came closer to a decision. My family and girlfriend [went on the visit], and I loved every part of it, but joking around with the coaches was the best part.
I asked if he knew when he would like to make his announcement or decision and he said he will make it when it feels it's right. I can't imagine that it would be much longer though. This visit seems to have been a positive for Michigan moving him in the right direction, so we'll see when it happens.
LaQuon Treadwell (2013)
6'3", 190 lbs.
Treadwell is the younger teammate of 2012 Michigan commit Anthony Standifer. LaQuon accompanied Standifer on his visit to Ann Arbor and immediately saw what his teammate liked so much about Michigan.
Going in I expected it to be great and that's what it was. I think it was overall a great experience, the buildings, the field, and the coaches were great. The field and the academic center where you do all your class work were probably the best parts.
Since he's new to the process he feels that he benefited from Standifer's presence on the visit.
Anthony was asking most of the questions so I was picking off of him and just going off of what he was saying. I'll probably do what Anthony did and decide in the summer too. He talks to me about Michigan a lot and him being committed there helps them with me.
Their coach does not let them visit other schools or decommit once they have committed to a school, so he wants to make sure he gets it right. Treadwell has also been hearing from Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, and Vanderbilt.
16 17 commitments already in this class it seems likely that Michigan will have most of their spots filled by the time the season hits. Here's who's left and where they are in the process.
Offensive line (1-2):
- Nashville OL Blake Bars: Committed on Sunday.
- Ohio OL Kyle Kalis: Just took a visit to Michigan. He isn't saying much to reporters right now, but I did speak to him today. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes his decision very soon. There are a lot of rumors out there, but like I said he's not saying much in public so be careful what you believe.
- Illinois OL Jordan Diamond: Michigan is still in great position, as they always have been. Jordan's mother says that she's not sure when his decision will come but she wouldn't be surprised if he waited until after the season. He's gone back and forth so we'll just have to wait and see his final decision.
- Pennsylvania OL Adam Bisnowaty: His athletic director told me that ideally Adam would like to take a few official visits then decide. Adam has also been quiet (a theme here) but I should have something from him soon. He seems to be a forgotten name, but the Michigan coaches do really like him.
- Arizona OL Andrus Peat: I also reported how Peat's visit to Michigan went a week ago. Don't get too excited about Peat yet, I still think he ends up elsewhere but stranger things have happened.
- Washington OL Joshua Garnett: Recently put Michigan in his top eleven and told me back in May that he would like to take an official visit to Michigan, which he still maintains. I should have more on him this week, but spots remaining could end up being an issue here depending on timelines and decisions of his peers.
- Washington OL Zach Banner: The same can be said for Banner as with Garnett. Timing and space might hinder this, but we'll see how it plays out.
Defensive Line (2-3):
- Missouri DT Ondre Pipkins: He told me last week that he will be making a visit to Michigan in July or August, we'll see which one it ends up being. He also might choose to move up his decision, which is interesting.
- Michigan DT Danny O'Brien: Performed well at Michigan's camp this past weekend and told me the coaches were impressed. He also told me the Michigan coaches expressed that they want one interior lineman, which seems to be between Pipkins, O'Brien, and kind of Sheldon Day. I do think there is still a chance they could take both. O'Brien would ideally like to take a couple official visits, but is also watching what Pipkins does in his recruitment.
- Ohio DE Adolphus Washington: He and teammate Dwayne Stanford are still trying to reschedule their trip to Ann Arbor. Stanford told me they are waiting because of the Fourth of July holiday. I don't think we'll know how interested they really are until they visit. They both were very fond of Ohio State so it could be interesting how it plays out.
- Ohio DE Chris Wormley: As mentioned above Michigan is in good shape with Chris and he's going to announce when he feels he's ready.
- Ohio S Jarrod Wilson: I posted a few days ago that Wilson will be announcing in July 8th at 2:30pm EST per his coach's email and press release.
- The other prospects Michigan is recruiting like Bri'onte Dunn, Ron Thompson, Aaron Burbridge, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Alden Hill, EJ Fatu, and Sione Houma are still somewhat in limbo. Dunn, for example is still committed to Ohio State according to his father. His father told me Bri'onte would be at Ohio State's camp this past week and it looks like that happened. I still believe they're waiting to see what the sanctions are before making a move.
PA running back Greg Garmon told me that he received an offer from Ohio State this weekend. I was told that he worked out at camp as a defensive back and may have been offered as an athlete. It's interesting to say the least that he received an offer from them. He also told me that Michigan is still in it for him and that he, "Loves them."
New Jersey ATH Devin Fuller told me that he's not sure of the exact date but he would still like to make it out to Michigan this summer.
Michigan added to its already-impressive offensive line haul for 2012 today, picking up TN OL Blake Bars.
|3*, #38 OT||4*, 5.8, #34 OT||3*, 79, #56 OT||3*, 86, NR OT|
As you can see, the sites are basically in agreement about Blake: he's outside the top couple tiers nationally among offensive line recruits, but it still a solid player. Oddly, Rivals - usually the stingiest site as far as giving out stars - is the only one to give him the fourth star. He started in Scout's top 300, but has since moved out of it.
The sites are unanimous on Blake's height: he's 6-5. There is a bit of disagreement over how much he weighs, with ESPN saying he's all the way down at 260, 24/7 Sports just 5 pounds heavier, and the other two sites going up to 275.
As we so often do, let's kick off the evaluations with ESPN's profile comments:
Bars demonstrates good tough run blocking skills, showing the ability to dominate at his present level of competition. Has the height and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the BCS level of play; will need to add bulk to his frame over time... Although we see the need for refinement in all areas of pass protection this guy possesses the long arms and nimble feet which should be assets; flashes the ability to handle edge quickness. We like the nasty finishing attitude this athlete plays with; it's what we look for when evaluating offensive linemen.
They seem to be pretty intent on labeling him a tackle, though I had previously assumed (based on the other players Michigan is recruiting, along with his height) that he would probably move inside for college. Long arms tend to negate a lack of ideal height, in certain instances.
He's probably a little behind the curve in terms of technique as well, since he wasn't even a high school starter until last fall. However, his father is a former Notre Dame linebacker, and his older brother Brad plays for Penn State, so he does come from a football family. He talked a little bit about technique with the local paper:
“(Coach Mawae) has been helping us with our footwork,” Bars said. “He’ll come into the weight room and show us technique and introduce new drills to us that I know are going to make us a lot better. It’s such a great opportunity. Kevin is the man, pretty much.”
That's not exactly revealing about Blake's current skill set, but it does speak to a desire for improvement. His strength also seems to draw praise here and there, so when he adds another 30+ pounds of muscle onto his frame, he could be a very powerful player to go along with that nasty attitude.
There's precious little info out there on Blake, but it seems that the evaluations that do exist are more optimistic on his abilities than the 3-star ratings would seem to indicate. As we'll see in a moment, his offer list tells the same story.
Bars's offer list is quite a bit more impressive than you'd expect from a guy who's a generic 3-star to most of the recruiting sites. Clemson, Florida, LSU, Penn State, and South Carolina all have recent success either on the field or in recruiting (or both), and had shot this kid an offer.
In less-impressive offers, Arkansas State joins Boston College, Kentucky, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest. There are a couple pretty good programs in there, so his whole resume is nothing to sneeze at. He had interest but no offer from his father's alma mater, Notre Dame.
Blake is an offensive lineman, and therefore doesn't have stats. Montgomery Bell Academy went 9-3 last season, his first as a starter.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for Blake, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Blake is a prospect that seems to have plenty of upside, but at this time, he's far from a finished product. Seeing as how he's just finished his junior year of high school, that's no surprise. Still, it takes a redshirt year as a true freshman from "extremely likely" to "certain."
Following that redshirt year, he may still have a bit of growing to do. Adding 30-40 pounds or more is a tough thing to do while maintaining flexibility and agility. As a redshirt sophomore then, will be the first time he has the potential to really contribute. Fortunately for him, that season also sees the departure of a few linemen ahead of him.
As an upperclassman, he should get into the starting lineup, and his versatility (he doesn't seem like a left tackle, but almost any other OL position seems possible) will help him see the field.
He looks like the type of guy who will become a solid starter, but maybe not an All-Big Ten caliber guy, unless his physical development is truly impressive. His upside seems to be high, so if he can reach his ceiling, it could mean very good things for his future.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The commitment of Bars could mean a couple things: 1) he's higher in the coaching staff's eyes than we previously believed, 2) the staff doesn't feel good about their chances with some other top prospects, 3) the door is closed for other medium-range prospects, or 4) there are plans to tae more offensive lineman than we realized. The truth is probably some combination of those factors. No matter what the reasoning is, I'm guessing the coaching staff is done pursuing offensive linemen aside from Kyle Kalis, Jordan Diamond, and other elite-level linemen (i.e. Andrus Peat).
That means that, other than those guys, we shouldn't expect any offensive line commits any time soon, unless the staff uncovers a sleeper that they really like. Look for them to focus on defensive tackle and wideout, and once they fill those needs, they'll be able to focus on top prospects, regardless of position. Quarterback and running back are other, lesser needs for the class.
Ed-Tim: A really sad story, especially considering Austin has been hit with plane-crash tragedy in the past. Keep the entire Hatch family in your thoughts and/or prayers, if that's what you're into.
2013 commitment Austin Hatch, just weeks after verbally committing to play at UofM was seriously injured in a plane crash last night. His father and step mother died at the scene. Austin is in the ICU at Northern Michigan Regional Hospital. This article explains the crash with no names, and Dylan Burkhardt of UMHoops has been tweeting about it. Prayers to Austin and his family.
Indiana News Center provided an update on Austin's condition with the details coming from a family friend. To summarize, Austin is in a medically induced coma. He suffered a broken clavicle, ribs and a fractured leg. Along with that, both of his lungs were punctured and his skull was fractured. There is minor swelling in his brain, but doctors claim to have it under control. He is in critical condition, but doctors do believe they have control over the situation. Continued support and prayers from the Michigan family to the Hatch family.
Michigan has accepted a greyshirt commitment from KY S Jeremy Clark. Clark impressed the coaches at camp, but not enough to earn an immediate offer. Should he pick up a number of mid-level scholarship offers, I wouldn't expect this one to stick.
|2*, NR S||NR S||NR S||NR S|
Since Jeremy is effectively a member of the 2013 recruiting class (pending a decision from OH S Jarrod Wilson) and also very under-the-radar, this section should be brief. HOWEVA, with Brian unavailable, why not profile a guy who's basically a preferred walk-on at this point?
As you can see, the recruiting sites aren't so high on Clark. Scout is the only site with a ranking for him, and even that is a lowly 2-star. The sites are in accord there, and also on his size: He's a consensus 6-4 (ESPN says 6-2), with two votes for 205 pounds and two votes for 185 pounds. I'll go with 195 then.
Since there's nothing out there on the free webs, a paid article from Scout:
This 6-4, 175-lb. safety was the surprises of the day. He flashed good speed and EXCELLENT ball skills. He is a bit of a sleeper on the national scale because he grew four inches since last fall. Just as impressive was the fact that he soaked up the coaching like a sponge and just seemed to really be relishing the overall experience.
Of course it's in their best interests to talk kids up as sleepers, so take it as a grain of salt. It's sleeper bluster, but in the parlance of sleeper bluster, height, ball skills and coachability are nice compliments for any system.
Clark aso drew "plenty of attention" from Ohio State's staff at their camp ($, info in header), but apparently they didn't see enough to offer him. He is pictured OMG SHIRTLESS at right.
Most of Clark's full scholarship offers came from the MAC. Akron, Ball State, Central Michigan, Ohio, and Toledo were his offers from the Big Ten's JV league. NC State was his only other BCS-level scholarship offer.
His Rivals profile has junior year stats: 75 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 8 pass breakups. That's not a ringing endorsement of Scout's "ballhawk" characterization, but it's certainly not bad either.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals says 4.47. That is very fast. A kid with Clark's size is not an unranked prospect at this point in the recruiting cycle if he's actually that fast. I'm going to have to go with 4 FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
This guy is a greyshirt prospect for a reason. At one step ahead of preferred walk-on, it's tough to see him accomplishing much until very late in his career, as is usually the case for these guys. He'll greyshirt the fall of his first year (pay his own way and, if I'm not mistaken, not practice with the team), then join the squad as a redshirt freshman in the spring.
I see him being a special teams contributor as a redshirt junior and senior, and the type of guy who gets a few plays in the secondary, but not much more.
Of course, if he is the level of sleeper that Scout's recap above seems to imply, he could also blow up once he gets into college, and absorb all the coaching (and weight training, etc.) available to him, becoming a contributor by the time he leaves campus.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As a greyshirt, he doesn't affect much about this class. The needs are still offensive line, defensive tackle, wideout, and - with lesser emphasis - quarterback/running back.