in town for free camps
Ah, I see you entrusted the future of your defensive backfield to Chris Richards
and Johnny Sears, and offered Carson Butler. You shouldn't have done that.
With the additions of two defensive tackles—the only sore spot really left in the class—the 2013 haul is starting to take shape, and this shape is looking pretty darn shapely. Granted we thought the same last year when thousands of 4-star linebackers and linemen burst out of their Ohio prisons to join the Wolverines, leaving—we thought—the staff several months to chase down a few 5-stars. Those didn't really materialize, and might not again. But it's just
November … August … Early JUNE (!) and there's 20 guys in the next class, and they're mostly blue chips, and unless ESPN has done something drastic to their scores I think an entire legion of superheroes just pledged to my alma mater.
If there's any doubt that Brady and Hokesters (this is a terrible name for our coaching staff) are killin' it on the recruiting trail, consider this is now the second year in a row that a board thread has been started to ask is this the Best Michigan Football Recruiting Class Ever?
M-Wolverine beat me to it, but the gold standard here is still 1995—in a word: CharlesWoodsonTomBradyeeeeeeeeee. Also Renes, the Williamses, James Hall, Tai Streets, Aaron Shea… That class was the core of the national championship squad and populated NFL rosters for the next decade. (SI Vault--->)
Putting Captain Hindsight on the sidelines for a moment, the anecdotal standard is 1998. That class was sterling at the top, headlined by Drew Henson (who had nine confirmed miracles by October of his senior year). Before pos-bang threads existed, the fanbase-wide giggle session from Henson playing catch with David Terrell in Central Park nearly toppled the young Internet. Marquise Walker (9th best player in the country overall according to Sporting News), Justin Fargas, Cato June, and Hayden Epstein were too considered Parade All Americans. LB/DL Dave Armstrong and LB Victor Hobson were close. Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and Bobby Burton of the National Recruiting Advisor named Michigan 1st in the land; Allen Wallace of Superprep put us behind UCLA because they had DeShuan Foster.
(Also in 1998, 548-year-old Brooks MacCleod Bollinger beheaded the Kurgan, won the Prize, and signed as a freshman with Wisconsin.)
The 2013 class isn't expected to be so rich at the top, and thus is unlikely to win the same beauty contest, but it's deeper, still naming high-three star types at the point of the list where '98 was tapering off into French Canadians. The ratings are bound to shift—down as do most early commits as more of their classmates are evaluated and placed on the board, and various uncommitted Top 25 recruits leap toward this year's shiniest object—but at this point there's already enough of it to start, you know, thinking about what all that promise actually promises.
Since '98 and other successful classes occurred before humanity shifted its considerable intellect from inventing things and pondering the meaning of our existence so we could figure out how teenagers work, there is no easily accessible written record from that era with which to compare, except the little from DeSimone. Certainly 5-stars and whatnots existed before 2002, but that's where the Rivals and Scout databases begin, so we shall too.
2002 to 2013 to Various Scouting Systems
Again, I'm throwing out hindsight for now because the Class of 2013s are currently 75 percent of their way through high school, an accurate assessment of their actual abilities not available until 2017 or '18. The class before them hasn't stepped on campus yet. Half of the class before that are redshirt freshmen right now. As to the rest, yes, individual players often vastly under- or out-performed their rankings. Insert usual essay about recruiting in the aggregate is legit yo.
You've seen the way I like to represent this before, putting the classes beside each other with heat-colored levels. I'm not sure if I explained why they're lined up that way; the idea is you can see how many blue chips (4-star and higher) on the left side of the mid-line, and assess how many depth guys and fliers (3-star and lower) you're filling in with. The yellow-green guys (5.7 to Rivals, 79 to ESPN) seem to be 40-60 to become solid Big Ten-level starters or better; the ones over the 4-star threshold something more like 55-45, thus I'm trying to represent a kind of mid-point.
Clicking embiggens, but you can see what's causing the excitement already: Scout is very bullish on the recruits Michigan has verbals from already, and ESPN has either dramatically changed their ranking system or somebody slipped them a press release about Shane Morris taking practice shots at Jake Butt. The numbers are on a Googledoc if you can see if/where I went wrong with this.
At this point we allow Captain Hindsight back into the room…
The captain says 2008 is going to be rough.
This is that column on the spreadsheet where I tried to reassign star ratings based on each player's performance. A 5-star is a major-impact player who probably got drafted in the 3rd round or better; a 4-star is an All Big Ten sort—the RVBs of the world, or a player like Kovacs who's a star but has an exploitable hole in his game (yes, Kovacs was added to 2008). A 3-star is a contributor but in a just a guy way, a 2-star someone we didn't want in there (think Savoy or Banks). The "NR"s are mostly injuries or early early attrition but not the later stuff; if we got a good look at what a guy can do I rated him, e.g. Mallett is still in there for 2007, since coaching change losses aren't likely to apply to us any time soon. This isn't supposed to correlate with performance; it's meant to see what recruiting classes yield.
What struck me most is how long we seem to have been going without those 4-star-like dudes, exactly the type of guys these last two classes have been filled with, and which characterized '95. I too hope some of the more epic blue chips we're after sign up, but even if they don't, the 20 guys in this class are already among the better ones signed in the last decade, and it's not out of the question that they may some day be the best.
Bo. Via MGoVideo:
Playoff bits. So now the Big Ten is saying "screw playoffs altogether." Jim Delany is advocating for the four best teams in any playoff that does occur, and everyone hates the system of voting we have in place now. Delany:
“Everybody recognizes that the present poll system is not a good proxy,” he said. “It’s flawed, it’s not transparent, it has people who have a stake in the outcome voting, it measures teams before they play a game.”
I hope Bill Hancock has a fainting couch.
At this point it's clear that most fans don't have the same priorities in mind as the people in charge of the leagues they're fans of—see SEC expansion—and arguing with them on the internet is pointless. It's like trying to communicate with sentient mushrooms. Their desires are so alien that attempting to comprehend them leads to you shooting railguns at a distant planet for no reason other than fear.
Whatever happens, we can be assured that everyone was in favor of it at some point. Even the generally sober folks employed by actual newsgathering organizations are getting peeved at this point. Adam Rittenberg:
"A computer doesn't have an eye," Delany said. "So an eye test is missing if there is an injury" or other issues with a contender. Delany also said the impetus for change is that the BCS "has been battered and criticized" and treated "like a piñata" for the past 15 years. So to reiterate: The Big Ten's No. 1 preference would be to keep a current system that everybody hates and which uses a totally bankrupt formula to select its teams. Gotcha.
Sentient mushrooms, man.
IRONY EXPLODE. Dave Brandon, one of the Big Ten's most prominent complainers about a playoff:
"Every change I have ever proposed has been met with resistance," Brandon told the crowd… "I don't care what it is, any change that's been proposed, this has been a culture that wants to resist it, because we all want to go back to the way it was when we were there because that's friendly and that's comfortable."
Notice how he switches back to "I" from "we" when he's talking about all the great stuff he does and not the fact that six different uniforms in a season may have been a tiny bit excessive.
No move. UConn's AD has restated that the Huskies will not move their return game scheduled for next year from their home field. That's fine by me but now the UConn bloggers are looking at the $2 million buyout clause and wondering if the game will ever be played. I'd guess it will since there's not a whole lot of time to find a suitable replacement, but Brandon's had occasional grumbles about the indignity of playing at such a place since he arrived.
UConn's ace in the hole may be their athletic director. They hired Michigan alum Warde Manuel away from Buffalo, so Michigan may be more willing to go through with things.
Incoming pointage. Those Indiana junior/senior All-Star scrimmages have kicked off and the first one featured a lot of the above-pictured activities. Glenn Robinson III was 9 of 10 from the field en route to leading his team in scoring. He also added seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Junior rep Zak Irvin was his team's leading scorer as well, though he didn't shoot as well as GRIII.
Pee and flee. A couple of OSU players are suspended indefinitely—or at least until they pick up their whatever misdemeanor plea bargains—for urinating on the side of a building, then taking off when the cops arrived:
Police in Shawnee Hills, Ohio, a Columbus suburb, spotted the two players and a third man not connected to the football team early Saturday urinating outside a restaurant near Stoneburner’s house, located just off the course at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Collins said the men dashed away when they saw a spotlight, unknowing it belonged to police. He said Mewhort and Stoneburner stopped about 40 yards away from the restaurant and did not attempt to hide.
This is not interesting—it's no defensive tackle Dukes of Hazzard attempt. I just wanted to call it "pee and flee." BONUS: these guys were peeing on the side of a building mere feet from a thicket dense enough to hide in. Sounds like they need to take OSU's Andy Katzenmoyer Memorial Drunken Decisionmaking 101.
Kind of good. A re-rank of the top 100 basketball prospects from last year finds Trey Burke in rarefied air:
5. Trey Burke, Michigan (84)
Along with Cody Zeller, Burke was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second team All-Conference. He and Zeller are also, comfortably, the top two freshmen returning to school this fall. Burke came out of nowhere (or, at least, the "obscurity" of the non-McDonald's All-American section of the ESPNU Top 100) to be a superstar do-it-all point guard for an NCAA tournament No. 4 seed. He scored often, he scored efficiently, he passed, and he took care of the basketball. The Wolverines' round of 64 loss to Ohio shouldn't alter the fact that Burke had a fabulous season. Michigan returns their three key players from 2012 and adds a pair of recruits capable of making an immediate impact. There's a reason expectations for 2013 are high.
Cody Zeller is the only guy higher than him who will be in college next year.
Like Coke, but fast. Drake Johnson tells a delightfully weird story about Fred Jackson to Kyle Meinke:
"I'm sitting in his office, and there was a fridge right over there, and he's like, 'You hungry?'" Johnson said. "I'm like, 'No man, I'm not hungry.' So he's like, 'OK, I'm going to grab myself a Coke.' So he grabs himself a Coke and he sits down.
"He takes maybe two sips, and he's like, 'Hey Drake, you want something to drink?' And I'm like, 'No, I'm still good.' He's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself an orange juice.' I'm like, 'Dude, you have a Coke in front of you.' He says, 'It's fine.'
"So I'm sitting there, and maybe two minutes later, he's like, 'I think I'm going to get myself a drink,' and I'm like, 'Coach, you already got two drinks in front of you, man! Your thirst can be quenched by what's in front of you.'
"He says, 'I'm just going to grab myself some water. You want some water?' And I'm like, "Nooo, I have Gatorade in my hand, guy. It's fine.'"
My thirst cannot be quenched by what's in front of me, Drake. What is satiation? THE MOMENT BEFORE YOU'RE THIRSTY AGAIN. Now let me tell you about how you are a taller, quicker version of Jim Brown. /dondraper'd
Suggestion box. Cover It Live has decided to charge out the nose for use of its product. Running Signing Day liveblog alone would now cost $300. It would have cost the site almost a thousand dollars last November. All this for a moderated chat system. This is clearly not a good use of funds, so I'll be looking for alternatives. Let me know if you know of any.
Etc.: Will Campbell's hood-crumpling registers in the Fulmer Cup. Pro Combat uniforms for Northwestern. More on Big Ten baseball's tough spot. NHL draft roundup from MHN. Holdin' The Rope on the Denard play. The first one. You know, that one. We need a nickname for it. Shoelace in the dirt or something. Mark Donnal invited to the NBPA camp. Can we stop giving credit to Jim Delany's amazing foresight when the conference he's piloting has won two national titles in fifty years?
Please don't take offense at clearly manufactured Queensbury-style smack-talk emanating from real journalists at ESPN. None of the journalists cares one whit about anything that is not the relevance of the serial comma in today's fast-paced society.
A week or so ago, Ohio State sent a recruiting letter to "Peroia, IL" that eventually reached the home of Michigan OT commit Logan Tuley-Tillman after the post office got done laughing at it. Tillman, perhaps following the example of Devin Gardner, burned the thing and put a picture of it on the internet.
Now that twitter has migrated off of college campus and Pitchfork enthusiasts, this ended badly. LTT fielded a number of misspelled death threats, Kyle Bosch sort of responded in kind, and the son of a federal judge put out a bounty on Tillman's knees that he eventually turned into a donation to the university of Michigan after he realized he was the dumbest guy in this entire scenario, and that this took some doing.
In an effort to prevent something like this from happening again, we've scoured Tuley-Tillman's social media accounts for other incidents in which he's burned something and posted a picture of the internet. By exposing these now, we hope to get any and all kerfuffles related to them out of the way before the young man arrives on campus.
These photos are absolutely not doctored, but if it turns out they were it was Heiko who created the images.
Tate Forcier's Homework
LTT on decision: "I felt that a six-foot wheeling gunslinger was what the CFL had been lacking after Doug Flutie's retirement."
OSU fans' response:
AL: "Them's so squiggly it makes my brains hurt."
RON: "You aten't got but one brain, Al."
OSU: "You have just received a bachelor's degree in logic."
Negative outcome: Lack of Devin Gardner redshirt.
Jim Bollman's Playbook
LTT on decision: "It's a complicated story involving subspace dimensions, but the short version is it threatened to suck the entire universe into an alternate physics where anything that leaves the ground explodes in a shower of viscera. This was revealed by Tate's answer to question 5.5, which I unfortunately had to burn to save the CFL."
OSU fans' reactions: Weeping joy.
Negative outcome: Happy OSU fans.
A Garbage Dump Full Of Tires
LTT on the decision: "The Big Ten needed a twelfth team."
OSU fans' response: Appointed Jerry Kill to coach it.
Negative outcome: Existence of Minnesota football.
East Lansing Couches
LTT on the decision: "All part of a diabolical plot to make MSU students look not very smart."
OSU fans' response: "We are aware MSU students are not very smart."
Negative outcome: Waste of time that could have been spent reading Chaucer.
LTT on the decision: "You have no idea how much I hate elves."
OSU fans' response: They cower under the great no-seeing Eye when a white-clad Hoke arrives from the East on the fifth day. [Memo to self: get Heiko to photoshop a see-no-Evil Tressel Sauron.]
Negative outcome: Huge rock lands on Antonio Bass.
LTT on the decision: "I'd imagine this one is self-explanatory."
OSU fans' response: Slow-motion NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, declaration that "Rocket Man" is the best song ever.
Negative outcome: 404 file not found
Random Bush In The Middle Of The Desert
LTT on the decision: "A man has to practice. Surely there will be no consequences arising from this."
OSU fans' response: "Can you give us an illustrated version of this thing?"
Negative outcome: Have you ever read the book of Joshua? Things got dark.
LTT on the decision: "PEROIA FOREVER WOOOOO SUCKIT CHICAGO."
OSU fans' reaction: "He never had the stones to play for Meyer. I don't see him burning down New York. Burning the city of Chicago to a cinder is the coward's way out."
Negative outcome: Millions of dollars in property damage, deaths, you know, that kind of stuff.
Today's recruiting roundup welcomes Maurice Hurst Jr. and Henry Poggi, updates the recruitments of Leon McQuay III and his teammate Alvin Bailey, recaps the Champaign NFTC, and more.
Michigan's 2013 Class, Now With 100% More Beef
Michigan added two four-star defensive tackles in three days, gaining commitments from Westwood (MA) Xavarian Brothers's Maurice Hurst Jr. on Saturday and Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi yesterday morning. You can check out their commitment posts here (Hurst) and here (Poggi). Much more has come out on each player since their respective commitments, so consider this a Hello addendum.
First, let's clarify positions. Hurst told GBW($) that he'll play both nose tackle and three-tech, but his main focus is the former, which makes sense with the addition of Poggi. Sam Webb revealed the staff's plans for Poggi:
Said Poggi, “I’ll start off as a 5-technique and then work into that three technique position. 5-techniques are around 280, then hopefully I’ll put some more weight on sophomore, junior, and senior year and be a 3-technique. Whatever plays out.”
The Daily's Zach Helfand
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think long term that’s realistic if he wants to play beyond college and be very good,” Shurburtt said. “If he were a 3-4 defensive end we were talking about, I think he’d be in business. But I think 4-3, that’s a stretch.”
Playing at tackle, though, Shurburtt sees an elite prospect.
“There’s defensive tackles across the country that either have a lot of heart or a lot of talent. Henry’s got both,” Shurburtt said. “[He is] the complete package of what you look for in a defensive tackle.
“He’s definitely an inside guy. That’s what gives him plus athleticism.”
I'd agree that Poggi's best chance at being elite is at tackle, where his athleticism stands out more, but as we learned with Ryan Van Bergen (and now with Jibreel Black), the differences between playing the five-tech DE and three-tech DT in Michigan's 4-3 under aren't vast. ESPN's Craig Haubert agrees that Poggi's best spot is on the interior and offers this scouting report ($):
He flashes a good get-off, but needs to be more consistent. He is tough taking on blockers and defending the run as he can play low and be active with his hands as well recognize and react well to blocking schemes. As a pass rusher he comes up field hard and though he needs to continue to further develop as a pass rusher he can make blockers work to try and stop him. He also plays with a motor and is a good physical tackler.
Scout's Brian Dohn takes a look at Hurst, noting he needs to do a better job of getting off blocks with his hands before coming to this conclusion ($):
Hurst’s greatest asset is athleticism. He plays fast, especially within the first few snaps of the ball, but he will have to show he can survive against the offensive linemen of the Big Ten. It will take him a year or two to get into the rotation at Michigan, but his athletic upside of the fact his father played in the NFL gives Hurst a tremendous starting base.
The message of caution is don’t expect too much too soon from Hurst despite his ranking as a four-star. The big payoff should be on the back end.
As long as the Wolverines are afforded the luxury of showing patience with Hurst and Poggi—and given the 2012 D-line haul, that should be the case—there's a good chance for both to develop into big contributors. Regardless of their on-field accomplishments, both appear to have their heads in the right place off the field. From Helfand's piece on Poggi:
“People say I’m making a four-year commitment, but I’m really making a 40-year commitment,” Poggi said. “The kind of degree I wanted to get was a degree that carries a lot of weight.”
And here's Hurst's head coach talking to Matt Pargoff:
“Mo’s a great kid,” said Stevenson . “He maximizes his abilities in the classroom and he also steps outside the box and contributes with some community service work. He’s been in some of our outreach programs. He’s spent time at homes for abused women. He spent some time going up to places where they feed the poor. He’s spent some time at a place where we go to provide company to the elderly. He’s a great kid who thinks outside of himself … His willingness to become part of those activities speaks volumes about him as a person.”
McQuay's Top III
FL CB Leon McQuay III has rapidly gone from longshot pipe dream to viable option since his May visit to Ann Arbor, and that won't change any time soon after he announced a top three of Vanderbilt, Michigan, and USC, according to 247's Barton Simmons. McQuay plans to make his choice on November 21st, so there's still a lot of time for changes, but this is huge news for Michigan.
What's the common thread between McQuay's top three schools? It's not so much the football—I mean, Vanderbilt—as it is what these schools can offer in the classroom, per TomVH ($, info in header):
Michigan, USC and Vanderbilt made the cut, and it's due largely to their music departments.
"Leon and his coach came up with the list. He's chasing the music thing and those three schools have the best music programs," said his father, Leon Jr. "If that's something that he's chasing then I can only be happy for him."
The younger McQuay is looking to pursue a major related to audio engineering/production, so Michigan's state-of-the-art studio could provide a huge leg up, though the music departments at Vandy and USC are also top notch. The program with the advantage here, surprisingly, may actually be the Commodores; McQuay initially expressed some trepidation about going to school up north, and USC has a very good chance of being full at defensive back by the time he announces.
McQuay's high school teammate, FL WR Alvin Bailey, recently narrowed his list to a top 15, but there's a sense that the Wolverines could be in a strong position for him as well given the good vibes coming from McQuay. Tremendous caught up with Bailey, who said he'll be up to Ann Arbor within the next couple of weeks, and he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a commitment if all went well on the trip. We'll see about that, but at the very least it's a big step to get him on campus.
Wilkins to Auburn?
Another top skill position target is TN RB Jordan Wilkins, who has stated his intention to visit Ann Arbor this upcoming Saturday. That may be up in the air, however, after Wilkins nearly committed to Auburn during a visit yesterday($, info in header)—it appears the only thing that kept Wilkins from making the pledge was the absence of his mother from the trip. Now his recruitment could wrap up imminently:
He plans to bring his mother to Auburn's campus in the next week or two. A decision could come soon after.
"I might take one more visit to Michigan on Saturday, but I might shut it down after that and make my decision," he said. "I want to get my mom to Auburn pretty soon, maybe next week...as soon as possible.
"Auburn is definitely at the top right now."
Even if he makes it to Ann Arbor, it doesn't look good for the Wolverines. VA RB Derrick Green is the other big priority at running back, and if they miss on him Michigan may very well be content with DeVeon Smith and Wyatt Shallman, especially if they can reel in a couple of receivers (say, Laquon Treadwell and a slot-type like Bailey).
Speaking of IL WR Laquon Treadwell, Michigan's top receiver target took home position MVP honors at last weekend's NFTC in Champaign, also earning top performer honors from 247's Barton Simmons:
1. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Crete-Monee – No wide receiver present on Sunday caught the ball with the kind of effortless ease as Treadwell. He inhales the football, making the routine catch look the way it should and adding plenty of spectacular catches to his resume as well.
Treadwell – who possess very good top-end speed and smooth route-running ability – showed the ability to lay-out for footballs on vertical routes and high-point footballs in jump-ball scenarios. In a year in which there aren’t a lot of no-doubt type receiver prospects, it’s hard to imagine many receivers better than him.
Treadwell competed against a potential future teammate in Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, who came in at #5 on Josh Helmholdt's list of top skill performers ($):
Lewis is an interesting dichotomy. Off the field, he is so unassuming, almost aw-shucksto the point that people may not even recognize him. On the field, he plays with a tremendous amount of confidence. His performance Sunday was very reminiscent of past performances from earlier this spring in that Lewis was always making plays on the football. He did drop a couple interceptions - rare for a prospect who is also an outstanding wide receiver - but made a couple as well. Sometimes Lewis gets too confident about his recovery speed and will take chances early in a receiver's route, but few receivers have shown the ability to burn him.
That level of instinctual play and athleticism from Lewis is something that really stood out watching him at Cass Tech last year, so it's no surprise to see him turning heads in a camp setting where he can really display those coverage skills.
Quickly: CA DE Joe Mathis maintains his three leaders($): Nebraska, Michigan, and Washington. CA WR Demorea Stringfellow is certain of two official visits($): Washington and Ohio State. Happy trails to five-star IN LB Jaylon Smith, who committed to Notre Dame, and NC WR Uriah LeMay, who pledged to Georgia.
Michigan offered FL OL K.C. McDermott this week, according to Scout's Mike Bakas ($). McDermott is a big tackle prospect at 6'6", 275 pounds, and he already holds offers from Florida, Miami (YTM), Ohio State, Wisconsin, and others. His father says he's looking to visit Ann Arbor and several other Midwest schools in July.
McDermott won't be the only summer visitor among rising junior tackles, as TX OL Demetrius Knox will visit both Michigan and Ohio State in June. Also visiting in June will be GA S Nick Glass, an early Georgia commit.
The Wolverines hosted a couple of visitors over the past few days. OH OL Jimmy Byrne didn't come away with an offer, but told Tremendous that the visit was a "10" on a 1-10 scale. IA OL Ross Pierschbacher also left without an offer, but told 247 that Michigan would "definitely be in consideration" if they came through with one ($).
Finally, Scout's Allen Trieu has a free primer on the Midwest players to watch in the class of 2015—yes, kids finishing up their freshman year of high school—if you're so inclined.
Inspired by A UConn version of this list spawned by this t-shirt:
I trawled the M-Den's website for the most ridiculous things you could own with a block M on them.
HONORABLE MENTION: A road version of the UTL jerseys that Michigan has never worn and does not even have the big central block M that was the main distinguishing feature of the UTL jerseys. A lace garter so that you won't "let your Michigan pride go by the wayside on your wedding day." A tie-dye tee. A pumpkin. A stuffed alligator(?!). Creepy pillow pet.
10. Michigan-Themed FOX Robot
It's the mascot of a television station that does not televise college football. Only this low on the list because they did a really good job with their futuristic robot winged helmet and it might transform into a car.
RECOMMENDED FOR: People who still think "Fringe" was a good idea.
9. Pet's First University of Michigan Cheerleader Dress
Pet's first University of Michigan Cheerleader Dress? You aren't content with being able to humiliate the dog—try to get a cat in this and you will end up with a handful of fur and blood—at all times other than when you are washing its college-themed cheerleader outfit. You need to have a backup Pet Cheerleader Dress for your squeaky little pretend husband in case there is a Pet Cheerleader Dress-related emergency. You know the dog is male. You don't even care.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Terrible, terrible people. Hitler had a dog. He never put it in a Pet Cheerleader Dress.
8. Camo Michigan Tee
The UConn version this had a shocking amount of tie-dye. Michigan has stayed away from most laughable fashion mishaps, but cannot escape the state's large number of hunters. So here's a camo t-shirt for wearing under six other layers of clothing when you go hunting in the winter… or for wearing to the Wal-Mart. You're just wearing this to Wal-Mart, aren't you? Nobody hunts in t-shirts.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Men whose trucks feature decals of Calvin pissing on a rival truck brand. Michigan State fans making parody videos.
7. Telepathic Dog Superhero Driver Cover
Very few Michigan-branded pieces of crap make any attempt to make their product actually look like a wolverine. Instead we get a steady stream of squirrels and bears and dogs. Usually the dogs aren't sent from another planet to use their super powers to fight crime on the golf course, though.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Superhero leagues short on cute animals or telepathy. Golfers who need a little telekinetic help for their slice.
6. Valve Stem Caps
As a diehard Michigan fan who is hard to shop for, I have acquired a spectacular amount of block-M-emblazoned crap I hide deep in a closet over the years, and these flabbergast even me.
This company must specialize in samzidat ways of expressing your loyalty to a particular college team. Stockdale: when your deep-cover Soviet infiltration mission is cramping your ability to express your college sports fandom. Other products in their line include subdermal block-M tattoos, Jim Brandstatter books encrypted so that they look like 1950s-era Russian novels*, and vodka made from potatoes cut into block Ms before fermentation.
*[Conveniently, the only modification needed was a search and replace from "Schembechler" to "Stalin".]
RECOMMENDED FOR: Valve stem enthusiasts. People you secretly hate and feel may be vulnerable to "what's the point of anything" existential paralysis upon considering these.
5. Michigan Themed Tree Face
Some things on this list are products sane people own pointlessly branded with college logos. This is not one of those things. It's a face you put on a tree. This face you put on a tree comes with a faux Michigan hat… that you put on a tree.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Crazy old bats who already have an army of tiny plastic deer in the yard. The criminally insane. Lonely ents.
4. Maize and Blue Lawn Flamingoes
Twenty bucks. Horrifyingly, they are out of stock.
The guy writing the copy on this isn't even pretending to try:
These Michigan Wolverines FlaminGO Fans make a great gift for that sports fan who has all of the ''Normal'' fan gear. A classic American icon with a new twist! Support your Wolverines in tacky style!!
Sincerely, Lane Pryce.
RECOMMENDED FOR: People who thought the tree face was a good idea.
3. Chili Powder. Yes. Just Chili Powder.
It's literally just chili powder:
Ingredients: Sun dried ground chili peppers, cumin, beef flavor, onion powder, garlic powder, chicken flavor, oregano, cayenne pepper, black pepper, habanero and jalapeno peppers.
No blue dye or anything. At least with bags of stuff or ketchup or whatever you get the effect of eating out of the Michigan theme container. Here you put the stuff in the chili the night before and leave the jar at home.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Nobody. This is the most pointless Michigan-themed product possible. Michigan-themed nothing is less pointless than this. A jar of nothing.
2. Terrified Ski-Jumping Wolverine Statue
A cool two hundred smackaroos. Incredibly, also out of stock.
The chime rang and the Estonian stood, sliding down the ramp to his destiny. His destiny would be 8th place or something. Wallace the Wolverine's was far less certain.
Wallace had a moment to consider the series of bad decisions that had led him, a proud and noble wolverine from Saskatchewan, to this place, a B-list ski jump event in Switzerland. He'd never even been to Fiji, and yet here he was, Fijan passport stapled to his fur, planks strapped to his feet, staring down at a 70-foot drop that flared up at the end. If only he'd… no time for that now. The chime.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Animal ski-jump sadism fiction enthusiasts.
1. Bladerunner Squirrel Sleeping Bag
One: it's not a wolverine. It's a flying squirrel. A flying squirrel wearing a futuristic helmet. Absolutely no attempt has been made to make this thing look like a wolverine. Two: given the configuration of these things you are inviting your child to slice open your favorite school's mascot and sleep inside it like it's a taun-taun, guaranteeing months of intestine-themed nightmares.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Parents who hate their children, want them to have an advanced understanding of the alimentary tract, or enjoy being woken up by cries of "OH GOD IT'S DIGESTING ME DADDY." Also pervs.
Alabama bangs, Michigan commit.
Michigan's next commitment has been the subject of much speculation since Maurice Hurst Jr. pledged to the Wolverines on Saturday and proclaimed he'd be joined by another imminently. Now the guessing game is over, as Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi has announced his choice to become the 20th commit in Brady Hoke's class of 2013, via GBW's Sam Webb. The consensus four-star is Michigan's second defensive tackle in the class, joining Hurst and defensive end Taco Charlton on the D-line.
4*, #15 DT,
4*, #2 DT,
|4*, 81, #23 DT||
4*, 94, #7 DT,
Poggi is univerally regarded as a four-star, and only ESPN doesn't consider him one of the top 150 recruits in the country. Rivals is the most bullish, putting him all the way up at #52 overall. All save ESPN list Poggi at 6'4" and between 260 and 270 pounds; ESPN is a serious outlier at 6'3", 245.
Football runs in the family for the Poggis; Henry's father, Biff, is his coach at Gilman, while his older brothers Sam (Duke) and Jim (Iowa) each earned BCS football scholarships. His father, for what it's worth, says Henry is the best player in the family.
ESPN's evaluation isn't particularly glowing, largely due to concerns about Poggi's size and potential status as a tweener ($):
As a D-Lineman he flashes a good initial burst, but is inconsistent and can be a beat slow at times. He does need to watch his pad level, but displays the ability to fire off the ball low and gain leverage. He is a hard nose player who can make good contact and be tough at the point of attack. He is active with his hands, but needs to do a better job of consistently separating from blockers. He is a coach's son and comes across as a fairly smart player who reads schemes well and can get himself in good positions. He is a physical and high effort player who works to get around the ball. He is a good tackler who tries to drive through the ball carrier and wrap-up. He does display some rigidness and could struggle in space to quickly re-direct and wrap ball carriers up. As a pass rusher he comes up-field hard. Will try and attack half-a-man and displays the ability to be violent with his hands. ... While Poggi looks to carry his weight well, he may be somewhat limited in the good size he can add making him an undersized D-Tackle or more of a swing player if he stays on defense at the next level.
Poggi will likely come to campus as a three-tech DT, but there's also a chance he ends up at five-tech DE if he can't add the necessary bulk to play on the interior. The criticisms about his technique shouldn't be of great concern; remember, he's a junior in high school and Michigan has three defensive line coaches to work out any kinks at the next level.
Rivals—unsurprisingly, given his comparative rankings—was much more positive in their evaluations of Poggi than ESPN; here's MDHigh.com's Wayne Yarborough after scouting a Gilman game last October ($):
At 6-4, 255, Poggi has a great frame; he's a tall, thick defender with a wide base, stout legs and broad shoulders. He plays with a low pad level, which makes him difficult to move off the ball. He also has tremendous upper- and lower-body strength, allowing him to collapse the pocket and toss offensive linemen around like a dog with a chew toy. Indeed, Poggi can be a bully up front; he likes to scrap inside and goes at it like he has a massive chip on his shoulder. What's more, Poggi is very nimble for a big man. He showed surprising quickness and closing speed on stretch runs and a relentless rush on passing plays.
Gilman assistant coach Hank Russell echoed the praise for Poggi's strength, pad level, and motor in a March article on MDHigh.com ($):
Henry (6-3, 250) is a big, country-strong lineman who moves extremely well for his size. He has quick, heavy hands and gets off blocks exceptionally well. He is very powerful at the point of attack and can [overwhelm opponents]. Then Henry has a non-stop motor; he just will not stop coming at you. [Fundamentally], he plays with a low base and consistently keeps his pads low. He has great lower-body strength, which makes him very difficult to move off the ball. He's just a tough kid to block; he can [occupy] multiple blockers and break through double-teams.
Russell also told Scout's Kristen Kenney($) that Poggi "plays with incredible passion and has a non-stop motor." In short, Poggi may not have ideal size for a tackle, but he has great strength and pad level, relentless energy, and very solid athleticism for a lineman.
Poggi chose Michigan over Alabama and also held offers from the likes of Auburn, Cal, Florida, Iowa, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and others. Needless to say, he's got a strong list of suitors.
Poggi recorded 49 tackles, 11 TFL, ten sacks, and a forced fumble as a junior in 2011.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 4.70 40 time for Poggi, which merits a three FAKEs out of five.
You can see some additional highlights in this video feature on Poggi in which he also answers a few questions. His dream prom date will be met with approval around these parts, I'm sure.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Here's where I get lazy and slightly modify what I said about Hurst on Saturday:
If he ends up at three-tech,
HurstPoggi should get a redshirt year since Michigan brought in Willie Henry, Matt Godin, and potentially Chris Wormley at the position in the 2012 class. After that redshirt year, he'll be in position for fight for time against those three and a senior Kenny Wilkins; given that he's got a higher recruiting profile than all the '12 recruits save Wormley, he's got a good shot at contributing as a redshirt freshman.
Hey, that worked. Poggi could also end up at strongside DE, where he'd be competing against Wormley, Tom Strobel, and Keith Heitzman for time. Neither position that Poggi projects to play has much at all in the way of upperclassmen, so he's got a good shot to make a relatively early impact regardless of where he ends up. That said, a redshirt year will likely be a necessity to allow him to add some good weight.
If Poggi comes in at the three-tech, I assume the coaches will see how Hurst holds up at the nose unless Michigan takes another lineman who better fits there.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines now have three or four spots remaining, in all likelihood. One of those is reserved for IL WR Laquon Treadwell, while it's becoming clear the coaches would like another defensive back in the class—MD CB Kendall Fuller and FL CB Leon McQuay III are the top targets, while AZ CB Cole Luke and NJ CB Nadir Barnwell are also possibilities. Michigan also is in the market for another running back—or at least an elite-level back—with the coaches pursuing VA RB Derrick Green and TN RB Jordan Wilkins.
I'd expect the class to be filled out with a receiver, running back, and cornerback, with the coaches taking a best player available type or possibly a strongside DE if there's another open spot. The options should narrow down considerably with so little room left in the class, a process we've already seen in motion along the offensive line and at linebacker.