good luck with that
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, and TE AJ Williams.
|Farmington Hills, MI – 6'5", 229|
|Scout||4*, #8 TE, #221 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #14 TE, #9 MI|
|ESPN||4*, #5 TE, #3 MI|
|24/7||4*, #10 TE, #8 MI|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Nebraska, Missouri, Virginia, Illinois|
|YMRMFSPA||A less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner, or Kevin Koger|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Ace scouts Harrison against Brother Rice and Cass Tech.|
|Notes||Farmington Hills Harrison(Ojemudia)|
All kind of highlights from all the years:
He's also in the Cass Tech vs Farmington footage Ace got:
Has a hudl page.
Michigan's other tight end in the class of 2012 is as much of an outlier as their first—quasi-OL AJ Williams—but in the opposite direction. Farmington Hills Harrison's Devin Funchess is essentially a large wide receiver right now, a 6'5", 230 pounder who needs to fill out before he'll be able to block anybody but promises to outmatch any linebacker who is unfortunate enough to be put in one-on-one coverage with him.
To give you an idea of the kind of player we're talking about here:
- Touch The Banner compares him to Ben Troupe, the former Florida TE who received his way to All-American status as a "wide receiver with a tight end frame."
- TTB then follows that up with a "Carson Butler but sane" comparison, which is kind of like comparing someone to "Vincent Smith but tall."
- 247 goes with former Texas ball-vacuum Jermichael Finley, who entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore year and put up a 4.6 at 242 pounds.
He's a flex TE, a standup outside guy who can jump-ball a corner or outrun a linebacker or flip sides of the line and gamely fend off a linebacker maybe (but probably not yet).
The trick with these guys is having them get up to a weight where they can block a linebacker while still being faster than that guy, and that's hard to predict. Funchess has a shot at it, though. Multiple scouting reports project that he will easily hit the 240-250 pound range that most of the splashy NFL tight ends mentioned above end up at. Josh Helmholdt:
…has a frame that will easily allow him to play at 240 pounds - or heavier - in college without losing any of his speed or athleticism. He has an impressive presence running down the middle of the field and is a big, inviting target for his quarterback. A long and rangy athlete, Funchess is very fluid in his movements and has great ball skills.
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.' "
…and then mentioned that Funchess weighed all of 210—eight pounds less than WR Amara Darboh—at the game. He's listed at 229 on Michigan's roster, which seems like one of the more dubious weights available this time around.
ESPN liked him a lot, placing him just outside their top 150($):
…a kid who will contribute best as a pass catcher. He has very good hands and consistently uses those long arms to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. He displays very good body control and concentration to be able to adjust to the ball and make the catch in traffic. His height makes him a nice sized target, but he will also go up and high-point the ball which can make him a tough match-up for smaller defenders and potentially a nice target in the red-zone. He is not a kid that displays elite top end speed to run away from defenders and is a kid who seems to need to build speed, but he does have long strides and can cover some ground when runs and can help stretch the middle of the field.
He's an athlete who can get up. I mean…
…if NFL tight ends are now 6'5" Brent Petways, check. When Rivals caught him at the Midwest Showcase, the power forward reference came out:
The football does not melt into Funchess' hands quite the way it does for [Ron] Thompson, but the Farmington Hills Harrison product showed an unmatched level of athleticism. His background in basketball is apparent, especially when he is battling defenders for jump balls. Funchess goes up for a pass like a power forward pulling down a rebound, and at 6-4 with an impressive vertical, there are few defensive backs who will challenge him.
A couple of Funchess's catches from the International Bowl were balls that would have been filed "Tacopants" if thrown to a Martavious Odoms or even a Roy Roundtree. Check out 1:20 below for a McGuffie attempt that gets major air, and 2:00 for back-to-back catches that demonstrate how big of a target the kids is:
Funchess impressed Ace in limited opportunities to make a catch:
Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass… ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
At worst he'll be a hell of a security blanket. He could be a guy announcers call a "weapon."
Funchess might be as different from AJ Williams as it is possible for one tight end to be from another, but together they further reinforce two themes, one a flipping obvious Brady Hoke goal, the other an admittedly speculative but exciting guess at how Al Borges sees his offense in three or four years.
The flipping obvious bit: Michigan is going to be big. They're going to be big on the line, they're going to be big at tight end and have a number of tight ends, they're going to have big wide receivers. While Funchess is not big for a tight end, as a second tight end or a spread TE he makes Michigan's formations big.
The admittedly speculative bit is something first broached in the Williams piece: having guys like Funchess and Williams and Jake Butt and Khalid Hill plus fullbacks and spread backs like Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet allows you to whipsaw defenses back and forth between radically different formations, to poke at defensive weaknesses, to give your offense the sort of unpredictable variety that's made Boise State and Stanford so difficult to defend in recent years. Funchess makes you versatile($)…
… a kid that lines up at tight end, he lines up in the slot, he lines up at wide receiver… He does a lot of motion. He does a lot of things offensively, but also plays defense - kind of a defensive end/outside linebacker. He's very versatile, does a lot of things and is very athletic. He's got great size. He's a nice young man to have on your football team."
…and Michigan wants to use that($):
"Michigan told me today that they were talking just last night about different formations they could put me in," Funchess said. "When I came up there today, they were telling me how they could spread me out and use me as a stand-up receiver."
Increasingly, the meaning of "pro-style" offense is "whatever works against you (except running the quarterback)." See Tom Brady's shotgun-mad Patriots offense morphing into Tom Brady's dual-TE Patriots offense, or Drew Brees hitting Darren Sproles in space, or the Detroit Lions saying "huh, Megatron." Funchess is a key part of that kind of approach.
I involuntarily wince when I hear Michigan coaches talk about a pro-style offense because the last time that was in place around here the offensive coordinator literally ran the same #$*@ing play at the beginning of every game, but watching old SDSU tapes reassures.
Etc.: Thirty Devins agree: "we love bucket hats." Fun with chess! Someone once called him "The Funchise." I'm not sure if that's awful or something we should steal so hard. Tremendous interview. Drew Henson($) says "wow, first impression, looks like the real deal" and "will be an instant mismatch on LBs," whether underneath or vertically.
Why a less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner or Kevin Koger? Why tight ends went to Ohio State under Jim Tressel was unclear. Well, not that unclear: they went to win, and to block. And do nothing at all else. Stoneburner is the most recent example of a lanky, leaping tight end in the league, even if he is an amazingly underused weapon half of his 14 catches last year—more impressive when you consider that tied him for #1 amongst OSU receivers last year—went for touchdowns.
As for Koger, Funchess comes in with about the same hype and athleticism—Koger speared a couple of incredible catches in his time. Funchess will hopefully be less prone to dropping the easy ones.
The NFL guys listed above are also pretty good comparables but Michigan has not had a guy with his combination of receiving skills and athleticism in a long time. Maybe Jerame Tuman, maybe Bennie Jopppru but neither of those guys seemed to have the leaping; Koger didn't have the catching skills; Massaquoi didn't have the athleticism. Funchess could turn into any of those, really, but I don't think Michigan will be as crappy at throwing productive bulk onto big athletes these days as they were in the mid-aughts.
Guru Reliability: High. They all basically say the same thing.
Variance: Moderate. Going from 210-229 to a rippling 240-250 is always a process that leaves some exciting high school athletes plodding shells of their former selves. Other than that, seems good to go.
Ceiling: High. NFL potential is clear.
General Excitement Level: High. Poised to be Michigan's most productive TE since the waggle days, not only because of the shift in offense but because of his flexibility. He can play in big sets, spread sets, regular sets, etc. A ton of playing time beckons from day one.
Projection: The idea of a TE redshirt is fanciful, especially with Michigan hurting for receiving depth. He'll play. At first that will probably be in the redzone, where big sets are common and his length and leaping ability will make him an attractive target in crowded goal-line endzones. Will also feature as a Koger-esque H-back between the 20s.
Likely to be a four-year starter, or starter-ish type player in the vein of Courtney Avery, who may not "start" but plays just as much as anyone else on the defense not named Kovacs. I wouldn't put it past him to challenge Jim Mandich's all time TE receiving yardage (1489) given the situation he finds himself in.
Today's recruiting roundup features the initial 2014 Top247, the inspiring story of Dareian Watkins, Shane Morris's strange celebratory dance, and more.
I See Your Raekwon And Raise You A Draequan
Swagger advantage: Suleiman, barely
Given that it's the August before their junior year, it's way too early for a 2014 Top247, but I'll be damned if there isn't one. Michigan commit Michael Ferns* lands at #98, a four-spot drop from his placement in 247's early top 100. Other prospects with Wolverine offers:
- VA DE Da'Shawn Hand — #1 overall
- NJ CB Jabrill Peppers — #3
- LA OT Cameron Robinson — #4
- LA RB Leonard Fournette — #5
- TX S Edward Paris — #11
- KS OT Braden Smith — #12
- AL ATH Bo Scarbrough — #13
- MD OT Damian Prince — #14
- NC OT Bentley Spain — #18
- CA TE Tyler Luatua — #19
- OH LB Dante Booker — #20
- DC CB Jalen Tabor — #21
- MI DE Malik McDowell — #24
- TX CB Nick Watkins — #30
- FL OT Kc McDermott — #38
- FL DT Khairi Clark — #43
- FL OT Mason Cole — #44
- TX OT Demetrius Knox — #47
- TN ATH Jalen Hurd — #48
- TN WR Josh Malone — #60
- AT OT Casey Tucker (USC commit) — #63
- MO OT Andy Bauer (Mizzou commit) — #68
- IL OG Jamarco Jones — #82
- AZ TE Mark Andrews — #85
- MI WR Drake Harris (MSU commit) — #89
- MO OT Roderick Johnson — #91
- OH LB Michael Ferns — #98
- SC DT Dexter Wideman — #103
- TX S T'Kevian Rockwell — #115
- NJ ATH Kiy Hester — #128
- NC TE Jeb Blazevich — #164
- IL CB Parrker Westphal — #165
- TN OT Alex Bars — #168
- DC CB D'Andre Payne — #171
- SC TE Kevin Crosby — #181
- MI CB Damon Webb — #192
- IL TE Nic Weishar — #205
- PA S Montae Nicholson — #212
- MI OT Tommy Doles — #219
- TX S Brandon Simmons — #226
- OH DE Joe Henderson — #241
- GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. — #242
By my count, Michigan has offered 27 of the top 100 prospects and 42 of the top 247. That's... a lot. In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, the coaching staff is focusing on getting offers out to the top national prospects before focusing on evaluating and offering regional talent.
Of course, there are more important matters at hand. Namely, who are the Name of the Year (NOTY for short) candidates in the 2014 class? The class of 2013 had a very strong group, but I think it's surpassed by their younger counterparts. There is GA LB Raekwon McMillian for the Wu-Tang fans, though he may be one-upped by AL S Draequan Murphy. CA CB Adoree' Jackson tacks on not only the extra 'e', but a completely unnecessary apostrophe. LA WR Speedy Noil is an early leader for best nickname. LA WR Malachi Dupree easily beats out NC ATH Elijah Hood for best biblical moniker. The aforementioned T'Kevian Rockwell can't quite match FL LB D'ronzjiah Mathews(!) in the "let's come up with a name before my epidural wears off" category. I'm not sure what an Aggadoria Bowers is, but such a thing exists.
For my money, however, none of those can match the power of CA ATH Sulaiman Hameed, potential lost heir to the Ottoman Empire. If his nickname isn't "The Magnificent," I'll lose all faith in humanity.
*Great tidbit on Ferns: As pointed out in the comments of yesterday's FBO primer, he is not only Michigan's first recruit from Southeastern Ohio, but the only four-star prospect from the region in the Rivals era. This makes Michigan the only school to pull in a four-star recruit from each region in Ohio.
Now Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back
Part 2 of Shane Morris's Elite11 camp experience has been posted by MGoVideo. I would like to draw your attention to the 1:06 mark:
Fat Joe appreciates your support for the Terror Squad, but thinks you should dial it back a little.
Alvin Bailey: Still Probably Not Happening
Tuesday's update included a story on FL WR Alvin Bailey, who's looking to make his decision soon and has UCF as his stated leader. Things didn't look good for Michigan then, and they certainly don't now that he's picked up a Florida offer ($):
"Alvin was offered by Florida today and no he's not committing tonight and he's not going to commit tomorrow either," [Bailey's HS coach Sean] Callahan said. "He said he'd like to make his decision before September 1 and I expect he'll be a man of his word and get it done before then."
Callahan had said that Bailey was excited about the Florida offer but has a lot of thinking to do.
Any time such a vehement denial of an imminent commitment is required, it's usually a sign that one could very well happen. Even if Bailey still waits until September, it seems very unlikely that he'll leave the state, let alone go all the way up north.
OH ATH Dareian Watkins is a 2014 Michigan target and a freshly-minted member of the Top247. He also has a remarkable backstory, featured in this must-read article from Allen Trieu:
The story begins painfully, but through years of struggle, persistence and faith, and with the help of good people, it is headed full speed towards a happy ending. Dareian was adopted at 11 years old by Heath and Cheryl Watkins. He calls it the second biggest day of his life. The biggest is the day he was taken from his biological mother.
“I was at school and I got called down to the office,” Dareian said. “Thinking I was in trouble, I took my time. I saw a lady walk out of the office towards me and I didn't know what was going on. They had told me to go straight home after school and say bye to my mom. I didn't think anything of it. I got there and my mom was crying and I hugged her, then they pulled me away and said we had to go.”
The whole thing, obviously, is well worth your time. Watkins is one of those recruits you'll root for regardless of where he ends up.
Michigan sent out an offer this week to three-star PA LB Brenon Thrift, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). Thrift also has scholarship offers from West Virginia and Pittsburgh and says he'll look to visit sometime in the future.
IL DL Brian Allen, who has yet to earn an offer from the Wolverines, has Michigan in his top five with Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State, according to 247's Evan Flood.
Matt Pargoff continues his look at the 2014 class with a rundown of ten cornerback prospects to watch.
[Ed-Ace: Brian is out of pocket for the day, so you're stuck with me. Friday Recruitin' is coming this afternoon. If you're looking for updates on Ondre Pipkins, you can find those here.]
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, and OL Kyle Kalis.
|Cincinnati, OH – 6'6", 283|
|Scout||4*, #27 OT(!), #225 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #22 TE, #26 OH|
|ESPN||3*, #36 TE, #38 OH|
|24/7||3*, #24 TE,#36 OH|
|Other Suitors||Arkansas, Illinois, MSU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim.|
Sycamore’s Williams an expert on holes
- So, AJ Williams. The first thing you should know about AJ Williams is that the "holes" thing is about noodling:
Q: I heard you used the term, “noodling.” I’ve been watching this show “Hillbilly Hand Fishin’”….
A: “Hillbilly Hand Fishin’”! (says simultaneously)
Q: I’d like to see A.J. Williams on that show doing that.
A: It’s always been a dream of mine to go noodling. I can’t wait to do it. I have family down in Whitesville, Ga. We’ve got some pretty nice lakes down there. Hopefully, I can go down there and get some noodling done.
The second thing you should know is that noodling is sticking your hands into dank watery holes in the ground in search of catfish.
- The third thing you should know is that AJ Williams is an improbably-sized tight end, one who arrives in Ann Arbor the same height and two pounds lighter than tackle recruit Erik Magnuson, one who played right tackle for his high school team last year and did so well at it that Scout bumped him into their top 300 based on his potential there. He's here to block you, weakside defensive end who he has motioned over to. No, it doesn't seem fair, does it? Get used to it. It's called life.
Anyway, Williams's size makes him an awkward fit for TE at the services who continued to rank him there and his (still hypothetical but highly, highly probable) inability to scream down the seam for big yardage makes him a generic three star. But like a Matt Godin or a Martavious Odoms, just because you're not an NFL prototype doesn't mean you don't fill an important role.
- At Michigan, that role is obvious. His ESPN profile($) is almost exclusively about his blocking:
Williams is a big in-line tight end. He possesses good size for a high school tight end and is/can be big enough to be like an extra lineman on the field. … He is not the dominating drive blocker that his size might suggest… He is more a positional stick-and-stay type blocker. … You would like to see him throw his size around a little more and deliver more of an initial pop and better create push off the ball in the run game. He is adequate working up to second level and getting a piece of moving targets and needs to do a better job of utilizing angles.
And they're kind of meh about it, which fair enough. Scout's positive take is based on more recent data, though:
Power And Strength
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Williams showed as a senior that he is capable of being a high level offensive tackle. He could potentially stay at tight end, but we like his upside more if he were to stay at tackle. He's a strong kid who keeps his feet nicely and finishes his blocks. He does well when asked to move, pull, and work in the second level. He will have to continue to refine his technique and playing with better pad level.
Again you notice nothing about this "passing" business. This is because his high school team all but refused to do it. In 2010 Sycamore passed for 489 yards. In 2011 that fell to 300-some. Williams had two catches as a junior, and none as a senior (because he was an offensive lineman). So about the only thing we know about AJ Williams is how he is as a run blocker.
That is pretty good. He was first team All Ohio in the biggest division. Trieu said he had "rare physical tools" when Scout moved him up midseason, and an opposing coach talks about his prolific ability($) in two sports:
"The obvious thing that sticks out is it is so rare to be that big and be that athletic," Commins said. "A testament to his athletic ability is he was one of the leading scorers and rebounders in our conference during the basketball season and he just has terrific feet around the basket that are on display on the football field too.
"He's strong and powerful. I've seen him collapse an entire side of the defensive line, sealing off the outside running lane without any help from the tackle or guard on that side. He's a special talent."
Still, when TE coach Dan Ferrigno talks about him like so($)…
“He played tackle this year in an offense that runs the ball 97% of the time about so he wasn’t going to catch any balls but he’s a skilled athlete,” said Ferrigno. “You watch him, like I have, run up and down the basketball court and he is a skilled guy. Now, is he going to run like a wide receiver? No, but he’s got a role on our football team. He’s going to run well enough to do the things that we need to do in the passing game.”
…the three-star rankings make all the sense in the world. He'll have a role, he'll fill it ably, he will not ever garner any hype unless it's that of the "unsung hero" variety.
The tackle-or-TE question isn't much of one. Michigan's coaches have been adamant he is a tight end…
AJ Williams. He is listed as a TE and I wondered about the “talk” that he will end up at tackle. I asked Funk. He was definitive. “He’s a tight end.” Funk said “he can catch the ball, but we really need help at the point of attack at the TE spot and he’s a guy who might have some opportunity to play right away.” The message was clear (a) we need help at TE now, especially in the run game, (b) we sure as hell hope this kid can step up there soon and (c) no, we don’t have any thought of moving him away from the TE spot.
…and the depth chart is even steelier with its assertions. Fifth-year senior Brandon Moore is the only scholarship TE on the roster other than the freshmen and Jordan Paskorz, who just flipped from defense. Classmate Devin Funchess is about sixty pounds lighter than Williams.
He has a role at TE that is obvious and will persist through his career. He may have one at tackle, too—it's just that the need is far more obvious further outside. Michigan is about to be flush with highly-rated tackles. If Williams ends up competing there it is because an unexpectedly high number of them washed out. It's a backup plan for the program.
“I’ll catch some passes at Michigan,” Williams said. “I’ve got 4.8 or 4.9 speed in the 40.”
Why Reid Fragel? Fragel came out of Michigan when Rodriguez was running things; Michigan offered him as an OL and was told to talk to the hand. Now listed at 6'8", 298, OSU's moved him to tackle largely because they have no other options. He's played in every OSU game since his redshirt came off and has a total of 14 catches, about one every three games. Fragel is a lot taller (6'8") but, yeah, Reid Fragel.
Guru Reliability: Low. Healthy, but no one really has any idea how he'll do at TE and only Scout seemed to pay attention to his senior year.
Variance: Low. Seems like a lock for major playing time and will dutifully block guys trying to do things and catch a ball about every third game.
Ceiling: Low-plus. Is not Gronkowski. Maybe has some upside to surprise since he's been playing on a team that runs 97% of the time, though.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. I am very even keeled about this dude. He seems like a nice piece to have in the redzone and on short yardage. Very hard to see him ending up the sort of multi-level threat you'd like out of your hybrid offensive players, but can be a key bit of one of those multiple pro-style offenses that whipsaw you from GRAAAGGHHG 3TE SMASH to wispy three and four wide shotgun eeeeee. You know, like Stanford last year or SDSU under Borges.
Having that extra tackle TE gives you options; I remember OSU just saying "screw it" and lining up with literally an extra tackle for the large bulk of one of their streak games, and that going poorly for M. If he gives Michigan that option and provides a steady stream of quotes about noodling he'll be well worth the roster slot.
Projection: Won't redshirt. Will probably start the year behind Brandon Moore, but could pass him by midseason given how much Moore has played so far in his career. Will be used as an inline blocker and won't be catching much other than play action flares and short stuff, at least at first.
As his career develops it will be much the same thing. He'll be on the line, doing stuff and running outlet routes. There's a slight possibility he would move to tackle eventually, but unlike Fragel he's on a team that has been recruiting their pants off at that position and there probably won't be any need.
News broke earlier this morning that a Huron Valley Ambulance had been dispatched to Schembechler Hall for a potential spinal injury. It appears freshman defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins was the player in question, according to a short press statement from the athletic department:
Brady Hoke Statement on Ondre Pipkins
Ondre injured his neck during practice this morning. He had movement
in all extremities and was taken to U-M Health System for
precautionary reasons and evaluation.
In a case like this, it's obviously very good news that Pipkins has movement in his extremities. This story will be updated as more news comes out. For now, keep Ondre in your thoughts and prayers; let's hope this is all just precautionary and there's no serious injury.
UPDATE: A couple more details from AnnArbor.com's Kyle Feldscher, who was the first to report about the injury:
Spokeswoman: The call came in at 8:53 a.m. Pipkins was taken to U-M Hospital in stable condition as a precautionary measure (as reported).
— Kyle Feldscher (@KFeldscherAAcom) August 17, 2012
Other than that, not a bunch of new information. Sounds like Pipkins will be just fine and he's being checked out just to make sure he's OK.
— Kyle Feldscher (@KFeldscherAAcom) August 17, 2012
Programming note: Due to a poorly timed (but awesome) vacation, I was in California for the last several days. That's why Ace had to cover for me at Media Day and why *Jedi handwave* there was no coordinator presser on Tuesday. I'm back to provide uninterrupted coverage from here on out, though, so feel free to get off your tenterhooks.
News bullets and other important things:
- Just completed 14th practice; did some scrimmaging.
- Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson, and Erik Gunderson are all practicing at tackle.
- No decision yet on Fitz Toussaint.
- Roundtree's chances of returning for Alabama are "good."
- Matt Wile currently holds a slight edge for the punting job over Will Hagerup and Kenny Allen.
- Chris Wormley has not yet undergone surgery but will; as expected, will likely miss the entire season.
Football was being played.
“Thanks for coming. 14th practice, midway point, did some good things, did some things -- playing with a little better speed. I think the fundamentals and techniques that you always go back to. I think the guys are doing a pretty good job with that. I think we have to be more physical on both fronts. That’s not nearly solved yet for how we need to play, but for the 14th day, this is really grind right now and it should be because of the schedule that they’ve been on. You have to see how they respond. They responded pretty well to some situational things this afternoon, but as far as being ready for September 1st, we have a long way to go.”
By situational, do you mean scrimmage?
“It’s a little bit situations. You know, just give as many -- not a lot of plays, but enough to hear some football and those kinds of things.”
When do you plan to have a full scrimmage?
“Not until Saturday.”
Just wanted to ask about a couple Alabama guys: their QB McCarron and nose guard Williams. Thoughts?
“Well I mean, I think McCarron’s done a great job leading their football team. National championship quarterback. Plays with a lot of poise. The run game, he gets them in and out of the right places. They run the ball. He’s a very good leader. He seems to be on the field for them. Williams is a guy who’s disruptive. Somebody will have to contend with [him]. They have 10 teammates on each side of the ball, so they’re really part of a very good football team.”
Have you identified any backup tackles to Lewan and Schofield?
“You know, I don’t know. All those guys -- Ben Braden’s taken some snaps, Gunderson’s taken some snaps, Erik Magnuson’s taken some snaps. I don’t know I’d identify anybody who was it, I’d be honest with you, yet.”
Is it concerning that you have true freshmen at those positions?
“Yeah, always is. But it’s always -- those guys have to grow up fast. All of them are smart guys, and they’re coachable, so they’ll be okay.”
How many freshmen do you anticipate having in the two-deep on the offensive line?
“On the line? Oh maybe three. Maybe four.”
You didn’t get to spend much time with the freshmen earlier because they were in classes. What about now?
“Well they got out on Tuesday and today’s Thursday, so you still, from a learning and being comfortable with the terminology and what they’re asked to do, I think that part of it’s still early. I think they get through this week and into next week a little bit. You have a better idea. Can they play fast? Can they play with poise? Can they play with great technique? All those things are a part of it.”
Does anyone catch your attention in a positive way?
“Uh, you know, I would probably say they’re all -- I think they’re all working hard. I think they’re all eager. I think the talent level, the athleticism stuff is kind of what we’re looking at -- I don’t know. Not yet.”
Has Desmond Morgan made a leap this fall?
“Yeah, I think he did from spring and I think he has in the fall. I think he had a very good summer. He’s a driven, young man. And a very competitive person. I think the improvement of how he reacts -- he’s pretty instinctive. That’s why Yyu play as a freshman, because you’re an instinctive person and football player. And he’s pretty instinctive. I think the strength gains that he’s made, he’s a more powerful football player, linebacker.”
When do you make decisions on walk-ons getting scholarships?
“No we haven’t done that. It depends sometime before school starts if we’re thinking about that or if we have the scholarships.”
Are you thinking about it this year?
“Sometime before school starts.”
How has Fitz looked, and are you closer to making a decision on him yet?
“I have not, and he’s out there like the others running around.”
How do you plan to build cohesion as an offensive line while rotating three guys at left guard?
“What we’ll do is take a big part of scrimmage, practice situations, and keep playing a guy there so that there’s a comfort level between the left tackle and the center. I think Taylor can play basically with anybody because of his experience, and he knows more what to do. So that part of it, he’s pretty good so he doesn’t have to worry about himself as much as he does that guard.”
Has he been sort of an on-the-field coach?
“Yeah, he’s done a nice job. He’s done a nice job.”
When would you like to identify a starting offensive line?
“Oh, ten -- ten days before probably.”
Is that a rough guess? Why ten days?
“I think, you know, some continuity that we try to build consistently, but I think that’s part of it.”
Chris Wormley tore his ACL.
Has he had/will he have surgery?
“No. He has not and he will.”
“Sometime in the near future.”
How did he sustain the injury?
“Just playing football.”
Any plans to redshirt him?
“Most likely he’ll miss the year.”
You have three guys competing for the punting job. Has anyone stood out yet?
“You know, not really. I would give right now -- probably Wile had the better day. But we’ve got to be consistent day in and day out. Today I thought Matt stroked it pretty well. I didn’t think Will was as consistent, but he was better than he has been. Both of those guys were a little bit behind because they didn’t get as many reps during the summer, so I think they’re catching up.”
How confident are you with playing an inexperienced guy like Jerald Robinson, who has reportedly been standing out at the receiver position, on September 1st?
“I think we’ve got to put enough pressure on him and get him out of his comfort zone that you test them as best you can, and he’s got to go out there and do it. I mean there’s no other way besides going out there on that stage and doing it. We can put him on situations and test him and make him uncomfortable and see how he reacts. But at the same time, he’s just got to do it.”
What would you do to get him out of his comfort zone?
“Well you give him a lot of reps. You see how he reacts when he gets tired. You do some things coverage wise to beat him up at the line of scrimmage. Just trying to get him a little bit out of the comfort level.”
How is Roundtree doing, and what are his chances of playing the first week?
“He’s doing great.”
“I think they’re good.”
What is the clearing process for him to get back on the field?
“Him feeling better and the doctor feeling good and comfortable about it.”
Do you check up on him every day?
“Yeah he’s with a rehab specialist every day. We obviously communicate.”
What’s he doing physically at this point?
“With the rehab -- ”
Has JT Floyd progressed since last season, and how has his chemistry with Blake Countess developed?
“Well I think there’s a chemistry before JT and Blake. I think they push each other. I think the consistency is always something that we’ve got to keep having out there. That’s kind of a position where you’re on the island, everybody sees it when you falter, but I think they both improved. I think they both worked very hard.”
How do Blake and JT differ?
“That’s a good question. JT’s a little rangier, a little longer-armed, a little taller. I would say Blake’s probably a little more physical, you know, of the two. I think JT showed some physicalness a year ago, too. ”
Do you think that they feed off each other?
“Yeah I think so. I think that and Tom Gordon and Kovacs. Kovacs [is] kind of the field general, and it’s part of being a safety. I think they feed really well [off] each other.”
Can you get a sense for what kind of team you are 14 practices in?
Can you characterize anything about it so far?
“You know, we’ve got a lot we need to improve on.”
Do you like what you’re getting out of the seniors?
“They’re doing a good job.”
----------------BONUS PARAPHRASED PLAYER INTERVIEWS!----------------
- Likes his new position, prefers it to OLB.
- Technique-wise working on bull rush and a couple other moves.
- Says defense's strength is "technique." Weakness is "toughness." Needs to be "tougher."
- Father is a high school coach -- used to give him a bunch of pointers on technique, but now just watches the games as a fan.
- Family attends every game.
- Second year in defense, is picking up visual cues faster and therefore playing faster.
- Fitz's absence and return didn't affect running back practice. Fitz basically picked up where he left off.
- No sense of cutthroat competition between running backs -- they're all brothers and support each other.
- Loves watching film. Craziest place to watch film? In the shower. Did it multiple times last season.
I brought up the fact that he had only allowed one touchdown to opposing teams' No. 1 receivers all last season.
Floyd: "Which one? I just want to test you."
Me: "The Iowa guy? McNutt? It was either him or DeVier Posey." [I didn't remember exactly, but it was Posey.]
Floyd: "McNutt didn't score a touchdown on me!"
Previously: In-State Primer
Yesterday, I went over the schedules of Michigan's in-state commits, highlighting certain matchups for this fall's Future Blue Originals. Today's out-of-state primer is going to look a little different, mostly because I didn't want to embed 20-something tables into this post. Last year we got some great reader submissions of scouting reports, photos, and even video of Michigan commits for games I could not attend. We'd love to get even more of those this year, so I've compiled a couple of handy resources that should make this easy to organize.
View Future Blue Originals Commit/Target Map in a larger map
Say you live in—to take a completely random example—eastern Ohio, and you're wondering how you could help the blog. Well, wonder no more. The map above features the high school locations for each of Michigan's 23 senior commits, as well as Detroit Loyola (Malik McDowell) and St. Clairsville (Michael Ferns). If you live close to any of the above locations and think you could contribute a passable scouting report, mark it down on the...
Handy Master Schedule
...master schedule for each of Michigan's commits and select targets. It's a Google Doc that I've made editable by the public (please use this privilege wisely); as you can see, games I'll be attending are in bold, followed by my name. If you plan to attend a game and submit a report, photos, or video, mark it down in the same fashion. If you're willing, please also include your email; if you (understandably) don't want it on a public document, just shoot me an email, but please make sure to still mark the game you're attending so others know what's covered as well.
If you're one of those people who watches a lot of football but you aren't sure you've got the chops to do a detailed report, please contact me anyway; I'm happy to give a few pointers about what to watch for a particular position or prospect. If we get enough user-submitted reports, I'll either include them in each week's FBO post or compile them in a weekly feature.
Now, on to the primer itself, broken down by region.
Eastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania
CB Ross Douglas (2013 Commit), Avon High School, Avon (OH): Avon is coming off a 13-2 season that ended at the hands of Mike McCray, Cam Burrows, and their Trotwood-Madison squad in the Division II state title game. Douglas plays running back as well as corner for the Eagles, so there will be plenty to scout if you check him out.
LB Ben Gedeon (2013 Commit), Hudson High School, Hudson (OH): Hudson finished 10-2 in 2011, bowing out in the second round of the OHSAA playoffs. Gedeon does a little bit of everything, playing tight end, H-back, wide receiver, kick returner, and even quarterback. He might be the recruit I most wish lived three hours closer to Ann Arbor.
CB Gareon Conley (2013 Commit), Washington High School, Massillon (OH): Perennial powerhouse Massillon Washington had a down year by their standards in 2011, going 7-3 and missing the state playoffs. Conley managed to record four interceptions and nine PBUs last year despite playing much of the season in a cast; there's a good chance he'll be making big plays if you decide to head to a game.
RB DeVeon Smith (2013 Commit), Howland High School, Warren (OH): Howland's perfect 9-0 regular season in 2011 was spoiled with a first-round exit from the Division II playoffs. Smith has combined for just under 4,000 rushing yards over the last two seasons; if you're looking for a prospect that's easy to scout and will have plenty of opportunities to show his stuff, it's probably Smith.
S Dymonte Thomas (2013 Commit), Marlington High School, Alliance (OH): Marlington posted an 8-2 record in 2011, which wasn't quite good enough to earn them a spot in the state playoffs. Thomas rushed for 875 yards and 13 TDs as a running back while tallying 102 tackles and an interception on defense. In fact, I'd say he's the best guy to scout over Smith, but safety play is a little tougher to evaluate than a running back.
LB Michael Ferns (2014 Commit), St. Clairsville High School, St. Clairsville (OH): St. Clairsville finished 10-2 last season, going down in the second round of the Division IV playoffs. Ferns tallied 136 tackles at linebacker and also was a very dangerous weapon at both running back and tight end.
OL Patrick Kugler (2013 Commit), North Allegheny High School, Wexford (PA): North Allegheny advanced all the way to the state semifinals before suffering their first loss of the season in 2011.
TE Jake Butt (2013 Commit), Pickerington North High School, Pickerington (OH): Despite an 8-2 record, Pickerington North failed to make the playoffs last season. Butt starred at both tight end and defensive end, tallying 427 yards and seven TDs on offense and ten sacks on defense. I'm planning to watch North take on their cross-town rivals, who feature...
DE Taco Charlton (2013 Commit), Pickerington Central High School, Pickerington (OH): Central not only defeated North last season, they made it all the way to the Division I title game before falling to St. Ignatius. Charlton had 60 tackles and seven TFL as a situational player last year and should see his role expand this season.
WR Jaron Dukes (2013 Commit), Marion-Franklin High School, Columbus (OH): The Red Devils went 13-1 in 2011, losing only to Trotwood-Madison in the Division I state semifinals. Dukes contribted 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Marion-Franklin faces off against Pickerington Central on August 31st at 7:30 pm; I'll be in Dallas, so if someone could cover that game it would be a huge help.
Definitely Not The Columbus Area*
LB Mike McCray (2013 Commit), Trotwood-Madison High School, Trotwood (OH): Trotwood-Madison captured the Division II state title last season over Douglas's Avon squad to cap off a perfect 15-0 season. McCray had a big year statistically at linebacker—88 tackles, two forced fumbles, five interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns—and also contributed heavily at tight end. They open on August 26th with a televised game against Ft. Lauderdale University School.
*Apologies, Trotwood natives.
OL Kyle Bosch (2013 Commit), St. Francis High School, Wheaton (IL): St. Francis went 8-3 last season, falling in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Bosch earned all-area and all-state honors and should do the same this season.
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman (2013 Commit), Manual High School, Peoria (IL): Manual struggled to a 3-6 record last season. Tuley-Tillman will once again start at left tackle; his development is one to watch closely given his raw talent.
LS Scott Sypniewski (2013 Commit), Marquette High School, Ottawa (IL): Marquette finished just 2-7 last fall. Scouting the long snapper is probably quite unnecessary, but if you'd like to, it's a free country.
OL Chris Fox (2013 Commit), Ponderosa High School, Parker (CO): Ponderosa finished just 4-6 last season. Fox starred on both the offensive and defensive lines.
DT Maurice Hurst Jr. (2013 Commit), Xaverian Brothers High School, Westwood (MA): Xaverian Brothers went 6-5 in 2011. Hurst was a first-team all-state defensive tackle, and perhaps more impressively also toted the rock as a massive running back. Fat guy touchdowns, ahoy!
DT Henry Poggi (2013 Commit), Gilman School, Baltimore (MD): Gilman, coached by Poggi's father Biff, finished 10-1 in 2011 against an impressive schedule, with Henry posting ten sacks. This year Gilman opens against three powerhouse programs: Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (8/26), Our Lady of Good Counsel (8/31), and Don Bosco Prep (9/8). Any one of those games would be great to attend and scout.
CB Channing Stribling (2013 Commit), Butler High School, Matthews (NC): Butler capped off an 11-2 season with a run to the Class 4AA state quarterfinals in 2011. Stribling excelled on both sides of the ball, catching eight touchdowns as a receiver and intercepting six passes at corner. As one of Michigan's least-scouted prospects, I'd love to hear reports on him, as well.
If you're able to attend any games for the above players—or the in-state recruits, as well—update the Google doc and send me an email. I'll be in contact with those who express interest in scouting as the season approaches.