"This is really important to be here," Lewan said. "I'm here to give back and help out my teammate."
David Guralnick/The Detroit News
Continuing my theme of getting super-meta this offseason, I decided to take a look back at the MGoBlog recruiting recaps from the class of 2008—hello, blogspot!—and see how they stand up now that those players have either moved on from the program or are fifth-year seniors. 2008, of course, was the franken-class of Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez recruits, a bizarre blend of pro-style plodders and size-challenged spread speedsters. While it boasted 17 four-stars among 24 commits, finishing a very respectable tenth in the Rivals team rankings, the class would prove to be an unmitigated disaster, ravaged by attrition and marked with disappointment.
So, let's go back to a time when Michigan fans still held out hope for landing Terrelle Pryor—when these were written, still
holding out for a better contract mulling his decision a month after signing day—to spearhead this newfangled spread offense. Today, I'll take a look at Brian's offensive evaluations, and the defense will be covered next week. For reference, links to the original posts: Quarterback and Running Back, Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line. If you're anything like me, perusing those is a remarkably fun way to waste time.
Easy Joke Is Easy
With a major change in offensive scheme, Michigan was in desperate need of a dual-threat quarterback. Pryor was the ultimate prize, and Rodriguez was forced to hedge his bets with Justin Feagin, an under-the-radar athlete from Florida whose best offers were to play wide receiver at LSU or defensive back at Miami (YTM).
Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.
Namely, the inside of a courtroom. ZING! (Really, when it comes to the 2008 quarterback situation, dark humor is the only option lest you want to break down in tears.)
Ironically, it was his off-field actions that made Feagin one of the recruits Brian was "baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason," due to late-night workouts and multiple quotes expressing no concern about potentially having to compete with Pryor for the starting job. It was noted that Feagin required "a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback," which was readily apparent during his brief appearances as a freshman. Then came the cocaine stuff and subsequent boot, so we'll never know whether Feagin could've turned into a passable receiver.
I started following recruiting seriously when a friend showed me Noel Devine's highlight tape during my senior year of high school. Since I had little understanding at the time about how recruiting actually worked, I was bitterly disappointed when Devine seemingly had zero interest in Michigan (and vice versa), eventually ending up at West Virginia. I swore never to get my hopes up about highlight tape heroes again.
So the next year, when another atom-sized running back took the YouTubes by storm, I had little hope that this Texan doing heel-clicks on the backs of linebackers would even consider donning the Maize and Blue. Even so, I'd watch his tape on repeat, sharing it with friends whenever the opportunity arose; seeing their eyes bug while asking what in the hell they just watched never got old. This is what they saw [NSFW audio warning]:
Then, of course, the impossible occurred: Sam McGuffie signed with Michigan, though not before nearly shattering our dreams during a signing day flirtation with Cal. Brian, however, was nonplussed, proferring this muted reaction to McGuffie's inclusion in the class:
General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.
Oh. Unfortunately, you all know how this one went. McGuffie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, but also the durability of a paper bag. After finishing the season as the team's second-leading rusher, he decided to transfer closer to home, ending up at Rice, where he'll be a redshirt senior in 2012. Not exactly what we'd all envisioned when the guy who frontflipped over J.B. Shugarts at the Army Game hit campus.
McGuffie wasn't the only back in the class, however, as he was joined by two other intriguing prospects. Rich Rodriguez earned the "snake-oil salesman" moniker for snatching Roy Roundtree from Purdue (more on him later), but his other signing day surprise was pulling Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw away from Penn State. You'll never guess what Brian noticed on his film [emphasis mine]:
I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity.
And thus we find the origins of bouncebouncebouncebounce.
The final back in the class was a relative unknown from the football hotbed of Avon, Connecticut. Mike Cox's name required a disclaimer in the notes section of his profile—"Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)"—while his school's sporting pedigree invited a healthy dose of skepticism:
There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football.
Until reading the profile, I had completely forgotten that Michigan took Cox over four-star Detroit Country Day product and eventual Notre Dame commit Jonas Gray. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say that was a mistake, even though Gray wasn't a major contributor until his senior season. At least we got four years of stale dick jokes, though.
NEVER FORGET, Part Deux
Rodriguez's hire brought to Michigan the era of the waterbug slot guy, which promised to be great fun for a fanbase used to watching tiny track-star guys tear it up only for opponents. The recruit expected to come in and make a big splash early was four-star Terrence Robinson out of Klein, Texas, and all it took was one physics-defying play to see why:
Commits pulling Hakeem Olajuwon post moves at warp speed during a football game understandably cause a fair amount of excitement. Brian busted out the obligatory Breaston comparison and projected him to be in the mix at both returner and slot receiver. Robinson finished his Michigan career with one catch, two kickoff returns, and one punt return for a grand total of 94 all-purpose yards.
Michigan's other slot ninja was Pahokee's Martavious Odoms, whose profile contains endless testimonials about his rabbit-chasing speed. Brian's comparison is Devin Hester and also a version of Steve Breaston that actually catches the bombs:
General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.
Evaluation severely lacking in mountain goat blocking praise.
Despite the excitement over the tiny slot guys, the biggest expectations were reserved for consensus top-100 receiver Darryl Stonum, who chose Michigan over Florida, Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Breathless hype part one:
Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude.
And part two:
General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.
Stonum's production disappointed, even after it was discovered that he'd been playing half-blind and needed contacts, and his career came to an untimely end after a string of alcohol- and driving-related arrests.
The last of the four receiver recruits was Roy Roundtree, another Trotwood-Madison star whose projection was the closest to the eventual reality:
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.
Roundtree redshirted, then led the team in catches in each of the next two seasons, though this was more the product of the offense—Roundtree was the main beneficiary of QB Oh Noes—than him being a true #1 receiver, though he may be forced into that role this season.
The 2008 class also featured two four-star tight end recruits, though both came with significant question marks. For Brandon Moore, the third of the Trotwood trio, the question was whether he was the future star who earned top-100 rankings and big-time offers after a standout junior season or the potential bust whose stock slipped significantly during a disappointing senior year. Scout actually started out with Moore as their #98 overall prospect before dropping him all the way to three stars and the #43(!) tight end. The verdict:
General Excitement Level: High, with caveats. Moore is a boom-or-bust guy with much potential but a long way to go.
Projection: Great success, great failure, or somewhere in between. Specific cat is specific.
Barring an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2012, bust it is.
Meanwhile, Michigan took a head-to-head battle with Ohio State for Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, but it was unclear whether he'd stick at tight end or eventually make a move to defensive end:
It must be said: Koger is widely regarded a prospect of equal or greater merit at defensive end, and with Nick Perry's escape to Southern Cal Michigan finds themselves with one defensive end recruit across two classes. Though it's possible one of the linebackers -- most likely Marcus Witherspoon -- could end up with his hand down, Michigan is critically short there.
A down-the-line move was projected, but that was largely based on the assumption that Moore would pan out. Instead, it was Koger who'd get the lion's share of the snaps at tight end for the next four years.
Brian's O-line Knowledge Has Come A Long Way
One of the staples of the recruiting recaps is the "YMRMFSPA" section, in which Brian compares the recruit's style of play to a notable former player (usually a Wolverine, but not always, as evidenced by the Hester comparison for Odoms). With Michigan pulling in six offensive linemen in 2008, coming up with the proper approximation got a little difficult:
Dann O'Neill: YMRMFSPA Jake Long. No pressure.
Kurt Wermers: YMRMFSPA Matt Lentz?
Elliott Mealer: YMRMFSPA Matt Stenavich(?)
Rocko Khoury: YMRMFSPA Uh, that other un-touted guard person.
Ricky Barnum: YMRMFSPA Rod Payne?
Patrick Omameh: YMRMFSPA ????
Dave Petruziello and Leo Henige feel very neglected, man.
As you can see above, before Taylor Lewan was the Next Jake Long, that distinction went to Dann O'Neill, a top 100 recruit from Grand Haven. Not only was O'Neill quite a talent, his services were desperately needed along a thin offensive line:
Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.
Brian projected O'Neill to start "at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall)." Instead, he never played a down as a Wolverine, transferring to Western Michigan after his freshman year. He would eventually earn a start at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but as a member of the Broncos.
The other future washout on the line was Indiana guard Kurt Wermers, whose off-field hobbies were not exactly typical of a football player [emphasis Brian's]:
Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:
"Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field."
This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:
"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."
I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.
Wermers left the team before the 2009 season, saying he decided to transfer because Rodriguez was "bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd," and running the team like a business (Wermers signed when Carr was the coach, but obviously never played under him). It was later revealed that Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer, probably because he was playing WoW instead of going to class. Discipline issues: check.
The player who's actually panned out was the lowest-ranked among the six, Patrick Omameh, a two-star DE to Rivals and the #87 OT to Scout. There wasn't much comment on Omameh beyond addressing his sleeper status; speculation about his future position turned out to go 0-for-2:
There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.
As you know, Omameh is entering his third year as the full-time starter at... right guard.
Finally, Ricky Barnum peered into the future and got a serious head start on his future team's biggest rivalry:
Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.
Well done, Ricky.
|Detroit, MI – 5'9", 165|
|Scout||4*, #14 CB, #183 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #18 CB, #224 overall|
|ESPN||4*, 81, #5 CB, #68 overall|
|24/7||4*, 95, #12 CB, #142 overall|
|Other Suitors||Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, LSU, USC etc.|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Ace takes in Cass Tech games against De La Salle, OLSM, and Farmington Hills Harrison. Tim interviews him. Tim Hello post.|
|Notes||Cass Tech (all the people). Played in UA game. Lemming had him top 50.|
Terry Richardson is the short-ish to unbelievably short cornerback who comes out of Cass Tech every year.
Oh, fine. Here's all this other stuff.
Yea, Cass Tech did go unto Olympus and ask the gods for power unlike any Detroit high school had seen. And the Gods said to Cass Tech, "we will grant you a boon, but all things have a price." Cass Tech readily agreed. The gods provided a phone-booth-sized black cube with black trim and no reflective properties whatsoever. It came with a red button. Thomas Wilcher was instructed to press it at 3:30 PM every June 13th, whereupon a black door that was not there would slide upwards and a smurfy but unbelievably agile guy would stride out, covered in gross amniotic goo.
Cass Tech won a state championship last year. The price was watching all those smurfy corner types go off to college and not do much.
- 2008: Boubacar Cissoko is a top 50 player who heads to Michigan. He doesn't play well, possibly because he's going a little loopy, then gets in a bunch of legal trouble and ends up in jail.
- 2009: Teric Jones may be a running back, may be a defensive back, is definitely really small, starts at RB, gets moved to corner, gets moved back to RB, eventually stops playing football.
- 2010: Dior Mathis is a top 250-type guy who heads off to Oregon, where he's appeared in five games so far.
- 2011: Delonte Holowell goes to Michigan, where he types all-caps tweets and sees a little time as a freshman.
It's possible Mathis or Holowell will break through but their height (they are the smurfiest of the bunch at maybe 5'8" each) makes it hard to see either being a star; Richardson and 2013 commit Jourdan Lewis have yet to give it a shot.
So there's this background of skepticism about Terry Richardson because Michigan's taken the above plus a number of other Cass Tech guys over the years and only Thomas Gordon has really worked out. Even the generally rapturous coach quotes on offer are toned down. Wilcher:
"I think Terry is learning. He's learning what a big-time player's got to be. I think that if Terry keeps working, he'll be all right."
The recruiting sites do not share this skepticism, ranking Richardson higher than any of the recent Cass Tech defensive backs save Cissoko. Neither did college coaches, which pounded his mailbox with early offers. Richardson had all of the above offers a year before he put pen to paper. While the outlying offers may have been "visit and we'll offer (probably)" type deals, Richardson was four for four amongst Midwest powers. Coaches also thought he was legit.
Yes, despite the size. All scouting reports filed mention his size as a negative. Picking one at random, this from Scout's evaluations($) at the Under Armor game:
Richardson has some very quick feet and he may not be the tallest or biggest defensive back in this event, this young man can cover. He flips his hips well, he stays on balance, and he made great breaks on the ball on day two.
This evaluation is repeated everywhere. Trieu:
Not the biggest corner, but one who makes up for it with his understanding of the game, quickness and ball skills. Does a nice job of playing the ball in the air, and high points it, which helps him get over his lack of height.
Terry Richardson (Cass Tech CB/WR #9, 2012 commit): Richardson's coverage was a big reason why Shane Morris could never find a rhythm, as he was consistently right in the pocket of the receiver he was tasked with covering. … Though Richardson had been battling a leg injury since the regular season finale, and spent much of warmups on his own testing out the leg, he looked just fine once the game started, exhibiting the speed and hip swivel that make him a four-star corner prospect despite his small stature. He was also strong in run support, tallying four tackles, including a textbook wrap-up in space on a play that got to the outside quickly—he was alone on an island, but managed to drive through the ballcarrier and keep him from gaining any extra yards.
Ace's in-person guess at Richardson's height is 5'8".
You get the idea. If you don't get the idea, these links may help.
- Trieu again($): "showed the same quick feet, hips and aggressiveness we have touted him for for the last few years. For a guy who isn't as big, he does not back down from anyone and plays right up in receivers faces. "
- Tom Lemming: "Forget his lack of height. With his anticipation, timing and vertical leap, Richardson can play with any CB in the country. Explosive and confident, he‘s a lockdown corner and a five-star player with the ability to become a standout as a true freshman."
- ESPN: "Richardson lacks obvious size but plays and competes much bigger. … Knows where he is on the field with great awareness skills and soundly reads the quarterback, routes develop and expertly anticipates the pass. …Has tight, polished footwork. Very fluid and light in and out of his pedal and breaks underneath extremely quick without wasted steps in his transition. Closes the cushion extremely fast out on the perimeter with great quickness…. The area of concern when projecting for the college level is his size and ability to press, defend the jump ball and set the edge as a run supporter."
- 24/7: "Michigan commit Terry Richardson has to deal with size issues as well …. Richardson was in attendance on Saturday and he met his expectations. He has an ability to seamlessly turn his hips and change direction in coverage and when he has to turn on his burners, he can absolutely accelerate with any receiver.
If you're still confused about the composite of all Cass Tech cornerbacks, you may be the composite of all Buckeye fans. Stop tilting your head.
So… yeah. As a terrific athlete who can stick to receivers in space but is ill-equipped to take on a fullback, tight end, or galloping Wisconsin tailback, Richardson is a quintessential "field" corner. This means he lines up to the wide side of the field, a role Blake Countess took over last year. Richardson's been told that's where he he's headed, with a detour at nickelback possible:
Role at Michigan: "Well, to me personally, playing corner is just playing corner - I don't believe in any field side corner or the boundary corner. My role is to lock on the best receivers and shut them down. But pretty much they want me playing like the field corner - and maybe some nickel back, too - but pretty much field corner and punt returns/kick returns."
He'll slot in behind Avery and Countess. If he beats out either it's time to pop the champagne. He may pass Holowell and/or Taylor, depending on what Michigan does with their other guys. Talbott's evidently moved to field corner; Michigan may slide Taylor over there too to get more info on what should be a heated position battle in 2013.
As for the future, at some point you have to get over the heebie-jeebies about previous guys and look at Terry Richardson as just Terry Richardson, the guy everyone wanted and has exactly one drawback. He's a nice bullet to have in the chamber.
Etc.: Wilcher did get in a more typical coach quote:
"He's a great kid to be with, a great kid to talk to," Wilcher said of Richardson. "He's a great kid to be around, the kind of kid you want to love as a son. So that's where you get a chance to get the nurturing in, and that's where it comes in, to try to make him a better player, a better person."
Why Courtney Avery? Avery and Richardson have the same sort of frame, and while Richardson is higher regarded Avery has significantly outperformed his ranking to date. As a high school quarterback who played very little defense Avery was not well-scouted.
Avery's an excellent underneath corner with the quickness to get under slant routes but a lack of size makes him a guy you try to shelter from one-on-one matchups against the Michael Floyds of the world—you know, the ones Cissoko had no prayer against. It sounds like Richardson may be a bit faster, a bit quicker to react, and more likely to emerge into a starter on the outside, but he's going to seem a lot like Avery.
Guru Reliability: Very high. Healthy, projects to same position in college he did in high school, ton of camps, UA appearance, heavily scouted school. Only slightly negative indicator is a little spread in the rankings thanks to ESPN's excitement. That may be (read: is) a UA game effect.
Variance: Low. He's not going to get any taller and has few boom/bust indicators.
Ceiling: High. Like Jarrod Wilson, Richardson hovers around a B+/A- ceiling. The height, yes, the height. Seems to have everything else.
General Excitement Level: If you'd never heard of Boubacar Cissoko in your life everyone would be saying high, so: high. No reason to project that unfortunate trajectory on another kid. Richardson comes guru- and coach-approved.
Projection: Despite the minor twitter controversy launched when Richardson angrily denounced the idea of redshirting, he should probably spend a year watching. Without a year of weights and scout team action he'll be the same sort of olé-style tackler Avery was as a freshman. Meanwhile, Michigan returns both starting cornerbacks, their quality nickelback, Holowell, Raymon Taylor, and a rejuvenated Terrence Talbott.
With Richardson destined for field corner or nickelback he's not going to be a serious contender to replace JT Floyd in 2013, so the thing that makes the most sense is to let Michigan's six-deep* corners carry the load in 2012 and give Richardson another year of separation from Countess. This thinking may be Richardson's now as well:
Forced choice: special teams only or redshirt: "That's a real good question because I think that might be a high possibility and for me to consider my options. Well, honestly, if Coach Hoke needs me out there - I'll do it. But other than that, if I can have more time and get my body together and learn the system, then by next year I'd be ready to go. But it all depends on what Coach Hoke would want."
Richardson's best bet to avoid a redshirt would be winning a return job. Jeremy Gallon's back, so fielding punts seems unlikely. Meanwhile, the new kickoff rules may make returners not particularly relevant.
*[Thank you, Jesus.]
Beginning my freshman year (1998), we started referring to highly touted young cornerbacks for Michigan as the "Next Woodson." The first was James Whitley, a freshman who played semi-extensively in 1997 and looked good when the supporting cast made his job easy. We were quickly disabused of Whitley=Woodson in 1998 when Notre Dame shredded him.
This is of an impossible comparison; players who can reasonably be considered the best at their position ever don't exactly replicate. But we humans get sentimental about things we had and like to envision never losing them (there's some psychological term for this I believe) so we pretend like the new thing is going to grow into the old thing. It didn't hurt that after a few painful years of Whitley we got, if not exactly Next-Woodsons, a string of really good cornerbacks we could call Next-Woodsons:
Archived from MGoBlue.com
They were tall like Woodson, and came with very high recruiting accolades like Woodson. But the first thing we noticed about them was that as freshmen they were tackling kind of like Woodson. With Woodson as a freshman I remember being excited as hell because he really popped almost right away. I don't remember him against Virginia that year, but he was active every game thereafter and a star by the end of that season. We're not going to compare Blake to Woodson because he's not that. The question is whether he might be the next in the line of future NFL-ish dudes we had from Law through Warren.
Since pledging to Michigan in a deep and dark December when everyone figured Rich Rodriguez was unlikely to survive, then giving out quotes attuned to our particular type of arrogance, this was a guy we all liked. Countess, who's about 5'11 now, i.e. average height, started the last six games, and played his best one in the Sugar Bowl, suggesting enticing levels of future ability. (Photo: Upchurch------------->)
I don't think we were expecting such big things right away. Tim wasn't in the Hello: post:
After a redshirt year (or a year spending time almost exclusively on special teams), he'll slowly work his way into the lineup over the course of a couple years. He probably won't have a chance to be one of the starting corners until he's an upperclassman, but there are so many variables between now and then that it's hard to project.
Brian called him Courtney Avery++ and was more positive in the predictions:
Projection: His height will always be a hindrance but if I had to bet he starts for three years and ends up an All Big Ten sort of player. Will not redshirt since he's polished and will probably be better than anyone behind the starters on day one; solid favorite to take over for Woolfolk next year.
Nobody said "would bounce Woolfolk back to safety halfway through his freshman season en route to being Michigan's star field corner in 2012." Blake on Blake:
I know, I know: stats do not a cornerback's story tell. A tackle could mean a perfectly defended edge or a deep pass badly defended followed by a defensive back draped over the triumphant receiver. They don't say how often they were targeted or whether he whiffed on a key third down that cost the game. Anyway:
Countess is sized more like Todd Howard than the giants above him on this list, but in case you missed the play of a certain DB of Virginia Tech, corners his size can do just fine in college, even against Big Ten receivers. And in case you missed Blake in that game, he had eight tackles (six solo), so we're hardly talking about a pure cover guy. The stats do seem to tell a story beyond "just a guy playing cornerback," but they should not alone be trusted.
We really only have UFR data from two of these seasons, and since they're separated by four years this too is going to be fraught with inconsistencies. Here's Countess's 2011:
|12||OSU||2.5||10||-7.5||Could not deal with deep stuff by himself.|
|11||Nebraska||1||3||-2||Lost leverage on big run.|
|10||Illinois||3||2||1||Also had a jumped Jenkins PBU.|
|9||Iowa||4||6||-2||Great day except for the 44 yards that were all on him.|
|8||Purdue||1||2||-1||No one was really tested back here.|
|7||MSU||1.5||3||-1.5||Not Woodson yet.|
|6||NW||2||2||0||Beaten deep once, but also a push.|
|5||Minn||5||1||4||Think we may have something here.|
|4||SDSU||6||4||2||Not as rapturous as we thought but still pretty good, full stop.|
Not rapturous. Here's Warren, and remember, the 2007 scale is not comparable to the 2011 scale—the comments are probably more informative than the numbers.
|12||OSU||0||2||-2||Just the one PI.|
|11||Wisconsin||3||4||-1||Relatively tough day.|
|10||MSU||2||1||1||Still can't believe that PI call.|
|9||Minnesota||5||2||3||Minnesota attempted to pick on him all day and mostly came up empty. Already a standout, IMO, and poised to have a huge career.|
|6||EMU||5||1||4||Quickly becoming a typical Warren day: three instances of blanket coverage that become incompletions, one badly missed tackle. I'll take it.|
|5||NW||5||2||3||Big bounce-back day.|
|4||PSU||1||4||-3||Needs to work on his tackling.|
|3||ND||3||1||2||Long handoff whiff was disappointing; rest of it was pretty okay.|
|1||Horror||0||0||0||Came in for Sears|
Warren got in a few games earlier than did Countess but if Blake was 2nd on a depth chart when Johnny Sears was getting torn up by a I-AA team he'd have gone in as well. Likewise Leon Hall's ability to earn his way onto the field in the apparently strong 2003 backfield itself was an accomplishment. Donovan had some tackling issues in the UFR that I didn't remember; Countess did seem to do better holding the edge. What I'm looking at is Donovan's game against Minnesota, where he was targeted relentlessly and came out of that convincing Brian we had a Next-Woodson on our hands. Put that against Countess's first and second games, when, likewise, we had collective visions of Next Woodsonism when he was targeted by SDSU and Minnesota.
Overall the scant evidence from our eyes and available reviews suggest a guy probably in striking distance of the Next-Woodsons. If I told you this time last year that a guy already on the roster projected at the tail end of a group of Ty Law, Marlin Jackson, Leon Hall, and Donovan Warren, would you take that?
The blindfolded kick. Wolverine Historian repackages the nutso 2002 Washington game. If you're interested in reliving the #2 moment of the aughts, it's at the end here:
Also featured are Marlin Jackson turning in one of the best single-game cornerback performances I can remember and one of the most controversial calls of the decade.
Realignment bits. I know, I know, you'd rather talk about anything else, but it's late May.
Bit #1: the expanded SEC looks like it's going to a "6-1-1" model. That means you play everyone in your division, one crossover rivalry game, and then one rotating opponent from the other division. You play teams in that division once every six years. You see them at home less than once a decade. You are not in a conference with them.
Bit #2: always more, never enough:
Football and the lucrative TV dollars that come with it is a big reason why the SEC has more than tripled the money it’s distributed among its schools since Adams’ first attended the meetings in 1998, growing from $62.1 million then to more than $220 million last year.
The Big Ten has experienced similar revenue growth, and yet everyone's throwing aside century-old traditions for increments more. Shortsighted. SEC fans agree:
This seems totally sensible and not at all over-bloated.
A lot of red. This is important. It's Matt Hinton's All-America team:
First team is all red save for three LSU players, two Notre Dame players, and Taylor Lewan. And I guess Sammy Watkins and Jackson Jeffcoat are orange, red's slightly mellower cousin. Even the second team defense is almost all red save for the inclusion of PSU's Jerald Hodges and Purdue's Kawann Short. THIS MEANS SOMETHING.
On the other hand, for special teams excellence purple is recommended.
More of the baseball wranglin'. It's been a few months so it's time to check in with the revolutionary wing of the Big Ten: baseball. Kyle Meinke has the latest on the conference's proposal to play some games in the fall. Brandon:
“My understanding is it’s a great consensus around our coaches, a great consensus around our athletic directors, but we haven’t done as great a job as we need to of selling the other conference leaders and coaches to buy into that," Brandon said. "And we’re not totally sure why that is."
I'm pretty sure they are, actually. If they're not they should get some classes in ruthless self-interest from… themselves. Ask Delany to tell the Mark Shapiro fingerbang story again.
I still think the Big Ten should just leave the NCAA structure entirely, up the scholarships available, use wood bats, play a summer-oriented schedule that litters the BTN with content that isn't Northwestern's organic chemistry lecture, and try to establish itself a premiere development league. NCAA baseball is never going to accommodate the northern schools, so flip 'em the bird and spend some of that money to give the Big Ten footprint something to be interested in during May, June, July, and August.
FWIW, MSU got its first NCAA bid since 1979. It was the kind of pity bid baseball throws at Northern teams to keep them placated when they try to complain about all the stuff that makes leaving the NCAA make sense (MSU finished 5th in the Big Ten), but it was a bid.
CREEPER GUY NEVER LEARNS. Stop tilting your head, composite of all Ohio State fans!
I'm pretty sure that's why you're in jail.
Walton demonstrated some of the best handles in the tournament and always stayed under control. He rarely made bad decisions, and was stellar on both ends of the floor, bothering opponents with suffocating on-ball defense. He was comfortable on the wing in the 1-3-1 zone, displayed good recovery speed and was a vocal leader on defense.
Walton is lightning quick, and very unselfish. A pass-first guard, he easily penetrated and looked to kick the ball out, or found open teammates for easy buckets.
Irvin and Donnal also scouted at the link. Rivals also has a couple notes on Walton and Irvin:
Derrick Walton - 6-foot-1, PG, Detroit (Mich.) Chandler Park Academy, 2013: One of 2013's top pure point men, Walton is a skilled ball handler with a strong build and tremendous quickness on the break. A pass-first guard who always is looking to make his teammates better, Walton affects the game in a variety of ways. When you add in his scoring, which he can do from long-range or around the basket, as well as his on-ball defense, you can see why Rivals.com has him ranked as a four-star prospect. Since last August, the guard from the Michigan Mustangs has been committed to Michigan.
Zakarie Irvin - 6-foot-6, SF, Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern, 2013: A pure scoring wing who just keeps getting better, Irvin is deadly from long range off of the bounce. A long and athletic wing who can use the dribble to score in transition, he can alter the game with his physical tools, but it's his skill-set that stands out. Irvin has a smooth jumper that he's always looking to get off over defenders who sag off of him. Once he hits one shot, the Eric Gordon All-Stars forward can heat up with the best of them. Like Walton, Irvin has been committed to Michigan since last summer.
Fast? Jehu Chesson takes home a couple of state titles on the track:
He was first to the finish in the 100 meter dash in 10.77. He beat his rival Aaron Mallet of McCluer North in the 300 meter intermediate hurdles 37.77 to 37.86 and Mallet returned the favor in the 110 high’s, winning by a fraction, 14.14 to 14.15.
Chesson had precious few minutes to spare between the back-to-back hurdle and 100 meter events.
“We have special training for speed and endurance and we have great coaches and they stay on us all the time. I don’t know if losing to (Aaron) Mallet gave me special motivation. I respect his talents a great deal. When you come from Ladue, and you are the team’s only hurdler, you have to run with a chip on your shoulder. You can’t always be the best. There is always someone out there who wants to come out and beat you.”
Chesson's speed was the main knock against him in recruiting evaluations. If that's not an accurate knock, hello, nurse.
The beatings will continue until you arrive. The university has posted a job description for yet another athletic department MBA type*, this one tasked with cracking the whip, but all nice-like:
A recent U-M job posting for an assistant director of marketing position notes that athletics is establishing "a best in class student loyalty program" and that the employee would be responsible for overseeing the launch, "develop[ing] student profiles, rewards and redemption" and "develop[ing] strategies to increase student loyalty acquisition and engagement."
Ablauf declined to comment further on the loyalty program, saying "we haven't finalized a program and the details yet."
This is not cutting edge—and neither was my suggestion Michigan should do this. The article notes that MSU has been using this to give Izzone members priority for a long time. Penn State has a similar program.
This is long overdue. It was a problem when I was a student (and in the post-student "I'm still a student!" pretend phase), with drunk people arriving in the second quarter, forcing you to relocate, and then woozily departing in the third quarter. If you want student ticket deals, show up on time.
*[I wonder how many administrators the department has added since Martin left, and how much money we're spending on people whose great task is to paint #goblue on the field.]
I think this is the same thing as before. CBS has an update on the playoff stuff that suggests bowls will be used as hosts. They'll "float," which apparently means it'll depend on what the matchup is:
They do not want the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds having to “go on the road” in the semifinals. In other words, if the Sugar Bowl were anchored in advance to be a semifinal site, it would be possible that a No. 4 seed – say, LSU – would have the home-field advantage playing the No. 1-seeded opponent in the Superdome.
The discussion seems to center around the SEC and the Sugar Bowl. The conference has the most rabid fan following and its teams are in the closest proximity to New Orleans than the other conferences are to other major bowls. The Sugar Bowl has had a formal agreement to take the SEC champion since 1976. However, its relationship with the league goes back decades.
[Via] I have this crazy good idea for how to fix this: play the games on campus.
Slive hates the plus one, BTW. So… maybe don't expect that.
Etc.: Tremendous interviews incoming D Jacob Trouba. Tom Strobel will come in as an SDE. At 260 he's likely headed for a redshirt. Corwin Brown's mental state analyzed. Michigan is smack in the middle of Steele's chart of returning lettermen. Craig James is a walking margin of error.
Today's recruiting roundup examines new rankings from Rivals and 247, recaps the IMG 7-on-7 tournament, checks in on Laquon Treadwell and Su'a Cravens, and there's something about a letter that almost certainly won't draw any attention.
So Much For "Return To Sender"
2013 OL commit Logan Tuley-Tillman caused, shall we say, a bit of a stir on Saturday with a simple tweet reading "#goblue #beatohio". Oh, and there was a picture attached:
Well, that's one way to say you'd appreciate no further correspondence from your future school's rival. While I'm sure this has ruffled feathers on both sides of the rivalry, I must say I thought this was hilarious, a harmless statement from a high school kid having some fun and
fueling the fire stoking the flames turning up the heat non-fire-related cliche about The Game. Looking closer, there's a couple of details in the photo worth pointing out:
- The letter is unopened. It doesn't look like there was any middle step between "receive letter" and "light letter on fire".
- The luminaries at the Ohio State athletic department believe Tuley-Tillman lives in "Peroia," Illinois. So close, guys.
In other news, both Rivals and 247 updated their 2013 rankings. The Rivals100 was released this morning; here's the movement of current commits:
- Shane Morris drops from #16 to #22 (still a four-star)
- Mike McCray drops from #44 to #55
- Chris Fox drops from #46 to #57
- Patrick Kugler drops from #54 to #73
- Kyle Bosch drops from #60 to #77
- Dymonte Thomas drops from #77 to #95
- Jake Butt (previously #96) drops out of top 100
Notable targets include VA RB Derrick Green, who shot up to #12 overall and earned a fifth star, FL DB Leon McQuay III (#33), IL WR Laquon Treadwell (#39), MD DT Henry Poggi (#52), and CA DE Joe Mathis (#71).
While the drops across the board don't look great, it's important to remember that several prospects have been evaluated (or re-evaluated with more film or new info from camps) since the initial rankings dropped in February—early standouts aren't so much losing stock as they are being passed by those who have gained exposure in recent months.
Here's the movement in the updated Top247:
- Shane Morris drops from #18 to #22 (first four-star)
- Dymonte Thomas drops from #41 to #45
- Kyle Bosch drops from #42 to #46
- Chris Fox drops from #53 to #60
- Logan Tuley-Tillman drops from #82 to #85
- Taco Charlton drops from #86 to #90
- Ben Gedeon jumps from #255 to #171
- Mike McCray drops from #173 to #176
- David Dawson jumps from #199 to #196
- Patrick Kugler drops from #192 to #206
- DeVeon Smith debuts on the list at #231
- Gareon Conley debuts on the list at #234
Again, mostly minor drops here, with the notable exception of Ben Gedeon. Any disappointment should be severely mitigated by the fact that Michigan has 12 recruits on the list.
You Down With IMG? Yeah, You Know Me
Auburn Hills hosted last weekend's Michigan Elite/IMG 7-on-7 Regional qualifier, which featured Laquon Treadwell's Core 6 squad facing off against Shane Morris & Co.'s Maximum Exposure. Neither team took the title, though thanks to their IMG national title last year MaxEx gets an automatic invite to this year's national tournament, but several commits and targets were standouts. Treadwell earned top performer honors from 247's Steve Wiltfong:
A smooth route runner, Treadwell is a physical player that does a superb job of catching the ball away from his body and making catches with the cornerback draped on his back. Whether he was going over the middle, leaping over a defender, or catching the ball back shoulder, Treadwell was good for a few wow moments a game. He also has some yards after the catch ability. Defensively, he played safety and came through with several plays on the football.
Morris was #4 on the list due to a performance described as "methodical, accurate, and easy like a Sunday morning," an assessment that is Lionel Richie-approved. Jourdan Lewis, playing for MaxEx, was the #9 performer. Maize & Blue News, a new recruiting/news site started by Matt Pargoff (formerly of The Wolverine) has highlights of Morris (above) and Lewis (here).
The event provided the opportunity for everyone to talk to Treadwell about his recruitment, and he provided similar, if slightly differing, statements for the recruiting sites. He presented a chopped-down list to Pargoff:
“I’ll probably decide during my high school season,” he stated. “I’m still looking at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Illinois. That’s actually narrowed down a lot. There were a lot of schools on me. I just didn’t know what to do, so I just had to think about which ones I really wanted to go to … But I want to take some official visits.”
That list got a little bit smaller when Treadwell talked to Tim Sullivan ($):
Michigan isn't the only school still in play, but the list of serious contenders for Treadwell's services appears to be dwindling.
"Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Illinois," he said. "That's about it that I can think about off the top."
When he talked to 247's Steve Wiltfong, the list dwindled to four ($):
Treadwell says he remains in touch with about 10 college programs, and has four schools he’d currently have a tough time saying no to in Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“I’m looking at those four schools pretty hard,” Treadwell said.
Finally, Treadwell found a very roundabout way to name a leader, giving TomVH a top three of Michigan and... TBD ($):
He recently went on the record to say just where the Wolverines rank for him.
"In the top three," said Treadwell, who was in Michigan with his travel team for an IMG 7-on-7 qualifier. "That's the first offer. I love that school."
While he says some favorites have started to emerge, he isn't sure who else is on that list, so it's the Wolverines by themselves for now
Treadwell added that he plans to visit Oklahoma State on June 8th, and there's a chance he sees Oklahoma on that trip as well. He has no other visits planned. He also told GBW($) that he plans to take "probably, two officials" and said of Michigan, simply, "I love that school." Draw whatever conclusions you will from that.
The other big news of the week comes from CA S Su'a Cravens, a longshot for Michigan who is now an even longer shot, according to the Omaha World-Herald:
Five-star safety Su'a Cravens had been scheduled to unofficially visit Michigan and Nebraska next week in preparation for his June 6 decision date. NU, UM and USC were the three presumed favorites.
But the Vista Murrieta (Calif.) two-way star reportedly canceled both trips. Su'a Cravens father, Kevin confirmed the cancellation Sunday night.
“It's accurate,” he said.
According to Kevin Cravens, Su'a has final exams to take, and while the family initially thought he'd be able to make up these exams at a different date, the school, Kevin said, won't allow it. So no visit.
Despite the cancellation, Cravens will still announce his decision on June 6th. If he leaves the state of California, I'll eat two lemons.
Quickly: Michigan makes the top seven($) for AZ CB Cole Luke and the top six($) for Good Counsel S Kirk Garner. CA ATH Elijah Qualls tells GBW's Andre Barthwell that he plans to take an official visit to Ann Arbor ($). LSU leads($) for HI DT Scott Pagano. Magnus scouts VA RB Derrick Green at a 7-on-7 tournament. Tremendous gets a visit reaction from 2014 WR Jaylan Grandison.
A couple years back a Purdue fan ran across a number of Tom Harmon photos featuring him and his plane—the one that would later go down over the Amazon. Today's a good day to mention them again:
Happy Memorial Day. See you tomorrow.