Mike Spath points out that doing an interview for the official site is a pretty good indicator he'll be back.
I'm back. To all three of you who missed the weekly user content post thank you for your patience as we got HTTV shipped, and then I unplugged and spent five days in the Canadian wilderness. There were loons, a bear, a moose and a bazillion bitemes, then I spent the ride home with a Space Coyote. This diarist of the week issued Part the Third of his awesome series on DG's spring game performance. A sample:
Play 13 - 4:50
Slants with a play action fake to get the LBs to clear out from the underneath zones. Very simple play…
The backside is actually more open on this play, but DG can’t know that because he is accurately going through his progression, which reads that the first man is open (which he is for a TD, good read). On the field side, the slot is more or less intended to clear out that underneath zone from the nickel back/ LBs/ safety by running an initial slant. He doesn’t run a great route but it isn’t too important. The outside WR then runs behind that to a news vacated area, which is also wide open.
These seem to be developing a theme: defense has the 3rd read wide open and gets pressure but the play never goes to the open guy because something short with a small window but higher in the progression order opens up first. I wonder if this is an effect of the defense knowing the offense, or an effect of Gardner's progression being slow, or as the OP seems to suggest, just one of those things. Coyote goes easy on Devin for doing what he's coached to do but I wonder if a senior with a lot of game experience will be more apt to go off the page and punish the defense for catching tendencies. It's may be irrelevant since our senior QB is a sophomore in West Coast passing schemes, but as Space Coyote notes a sophomore Henne once threw to the 2nd read on a very similar play to cap a last-play comeback win against Penn State.
Oy Boy! Last time saveferris penned a roll back the clock I asked for more, and we received. This time the quantum accelerator put us in the pads of Bill Taylor, c. 1971, when Michigan conquered space and Ohio State but couldn't defeat Stanford in the Rose Bowl. As could only happen here, there's an argument in the comments between a historian armed with knowledge of the weather that week and a member of the band who was on the field that day about the grass conditions in Pasadena. Upon further review:
Looks pretty dry guys. How the hell did you remember that? My mom was a junior at Michigan that year and swears she can't remember anything except studying and getting good grades (and how cheap coffee was at Blimpy's). Also trying to imagine MMB choosing a selection with such strong political overtones today.
A second leap was made by Blazefire to 2007 so he could warn us to not get too confident over last year's leap, but Henne/Hart injuries didn't make the defense give up 36 points to an I-AA team man.
In other postseasons that Michigan can get screwed in/out of, Stephenrjking and oakapple are playoff wranglin'. The former is a worth-reading discussion on poll bias and how any system that leaves the least up to human pollsters is probably the best for determining a champion. The latter also discusses qualification models like polls, a selection committee, and autobids, and makes a good point about this being a very different animal from basketball's selection committee, which has never seen a champion from the lower 50% of seeds.
Getting crowded down there. Our resident UMgradMSUdad says Nebraska recruiting is starting to shift from Texas (17 players in Pelini's first two seasons, 7 in the last two full classes) to Ohio with the move to the B1G. Since it's mostly 3-stars they're going after, long-term this probably affects Michigan State, which under Dantonio took a lot of the guys Ohio State passed on and fought Nebraska the most in this study, more than Michigan, which is competing more directly with the in-state juggernaut. It helps them that Pelini's from Cardinal-Mooney (Ray Vinopal) in Youngstown, which in my study last year came out very Penn State-ish. This was bound to happen to some degree by letting them in. Nebraska is a traditional powerhouse from a state that doesn't produce a lot of talent, so they're going to pull more from their conference footprint than contribute to it. If the net result is it hastens the Spartans' inevitable return to Spartiocrity I'm okay with it, but the Cornhuskers have traditionally built from the Big XII's footprint; if these players are more and more coming from the Midwest it's going to thin the ranks of the Big Ten. File under obvious.
Etc. The Blockhams is tackling the dog. Soon the dog will be killed by the baby tackler's perfect Kovacsian form and replaced with a shaggy dog named Brian who is working on his blog all the time (MAKE THIS HAPPEN!). Space wallpaper (of Space!).
Best of the Board
FAMOUS PEOPLE SIGHTED, INDUCED TO SAY STUFF
We had a few people attend the myriad traveling events football players and coaches do during offseason and come back reporting on the proceedings.
- Hoke at Agonis. Correspondent hart20 recorded Hoke's comments to a group of people in Dayton, Ohio, mostly on things from in and around Dayton, Ohio, that people from Dayton, Ohio, care about, like Ball State, Kaleb Ringer, and Roy Roundtree, but also the Gentleman's agreement (something about golf) and conference realignment.
- Woodson at Sunda. Reporting not-live from Chicago, we go to samsoccer7 and coverage of Charles Woodson's new wine. This was originally published on the boards on May 18 but I re-set the clock so it can get its time as a deserved diary. Some good stuff in there, my favorite being why he didn't do the Heisman after the punt return v. Ohio State. Sorry grapenuts, nothing about the wine.
- Steve Everitt at Golf Tournament. Brady Hoke's Pet Viking (glad I contributed at least one MGoMeme around here) in an MGoShirt: Ja!
- WHENCE THE DUAL-THREATS OF YESTERYEAR?
Whatever happened to all the 2009 (Class of 2010) Elite 11 QBs? Leaders And Best tracked them down and found way more washouts and transfers than projected starters. Devin Gardner is second only to Tennessee's Tyler Bray in guys on this list you'd want to have at this point.
FIFTH IN HEAPING PILES OF SCRATCH
This year's athletic department budgets as reported on their Title IX forms. I think the "subsidies" in there relate mostly to major stadium improvements. Anyway Michigan raked in over $122 million in revenue and spent about $112 million. Alms for the band indeed.
Join the following discussion points. My two cents added here as examples, and because I can get away with it!
- What the hell is Devin Gardner's number now?
Seriously, is it 12 or was that just a very mean joke to play on someone who has to pay per page edits to a printed preview book? I've heard Funchess is 19 too. People with information, please inform
- What would you do if you were Brian for a day?
Bring back negging so I could neg-bang everybody who complains about the lack of neg-banging.
- Which Big Ten team are you really glad you're not a fan of today?
MSU – Too good to not care, always knowing you weren't good
- What was your most memorable Big House experience like?
Imagine if you could wrap all that is Desmond Howard and being 11 years old into one afternoon.
- (It's too late but…) Think of funny names for the sponsor levels
Come for the humor. Leave for the lack of relevance to your life.
- Six funny press conferences
I approved this guy's concept for a daily board post even though the first was very Bleacher Report-y, figuring he had the drive to keep improving. Then it ended after two I guess. The first, eh, forget about it. The second: Tune in, if only for the chance to remember John L. Smith's pouty face. Every time I watch that I see my little brother, age 8, staring straight ahead, explaining how he's pressing the right buttons but the Nintendo's screwing it all up!
FINAL SOFTBALL UPDATE
The season ended against Alabama in the NCAA Super Regional (i.e. Round 2). But this is a game where pitchers dominate and we had two dominant freshmen. Memories: Everybody dancing to Amanda Chidester's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" coming-to-bat song, Caitlin Blanchard getting hit by a pitch to beat Louisville in the regional, going perfect on the season against OSU/ND/MSU, including a weekend shutout over Michigan State, and this:
YOUR MOMENT OF ZEN
(warning: may cause you to become trapped in amaranthine contemplation of Les Miles. HT: Orson)
Purdue Errata. Several MGoUsers, including one (TMill) whom I suspect is Travis Miller of Hammerandrails.com, pointed out last week that Ralph Bolden tore his ACL for the third time during the Indiana game. He's probably not going to be playing much football for the Boilermakers this season.
That pink thing in the middle = why the Boilermakers can't have nice things.
Also, Sean Robinson moved to linebacker, which brings Purdue's QB count down to a whimpy nine.
Standin' arrow straight.
Not that talented. HailtotheOrange.com recently wrote a post to dispel the myth that Ron Zook was a great recruiter who was otherwise a horrible coach. They go through the recruiting rankings during Zook's tenure and find that it started off strong before tapering off after 2008.
I don't know what he was pitching to kids when his team was in the gutter the first few seasons, but the 2006 class ranked 30th in the nation and 4th in the Big Ten.
2006, 2007, and 2008 were similar, and those were the years that gave them four-/five-star players like Martez Wilson, Arrelious Benn, Corey Liuget, and Graham Pocic (older brother of super 2013 LSU LT commit Ethan), not to mention some under-the-radar types like Whitney Mercilus and Mikel Leshoure.
2009 gave the them a bunch of guys who ended up transferring. Illinois spent 2010 at a three-star resort, which caused them to them dip below Tim Beckman's Toledo in recruiting class rankings (70th and 68th, respectively).
Conclusion? Whatever positive effects of the Beckman hire on the coaching and decision-making side of things may be mitigated by an impending "empty cupboard" syndrome.
But still pretty talented for now. ALionEye.com lays out the NFL draft stock of last year's defensive starters. Five returning players have strong draft potential.
Completely unrelated. ALionEye's list of top-five QB recruits in recent memory from Illinois includes one Jeff Hecklinski (emphasis theirs -- Aaron Bailey is their most recent QB commit):
In the last 30 years, I think the order of “top-5 Illini QB recruits” goes like this:
1. Jeff George
2. Juice Williams
3. Aaron Bailey
4. Nathan Scheelhaase
5. Jeff Hecklinski
Yes, our Jeff Hecklinski!
He ended up choosing Western Illinois State over the Illini, and there he became the second QB in school history to throw for more than 5,000 yards.
The actual preview part
Illinois's 2011 campaign began with so much promise. At one point the Illini were bowl eligible and 6-0 along with conference champ Wisconsin and Sugar Bowl champ Michigan. Ron Zook, who job had been under intense scrutiny for some time, was saved.
But then Illinois's offense stopped scoring, and the team stopped winning. They remained bowl eligible but fell to 6-6 and ended the regular season in disgrace after getting curbstomped 27-7 by a 3-9 Minnesota team. Zook fired; Beckman hired.
Beckman wasn't received by a whole lot of enthusiasm. Other names mentioned during the coaching search included Kevin Sumlin and Butch Jones; Beckman was not the sexiest of the bunch.
HailtotheOrange called him the "MAC coach du jour," which he was. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with hiring former MAC coaches.
CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW sonofabitch headset's not working again.
Beckman's 2011 Toledo team was one bad read away from upsetting Ohio State in the Horseshoe and ended the season tied at the top of the MAC-West standings.
Much like how the feelings of uncertainty following Brady Hoke's hire at Michigan subsided to cautious optimism, at least the blogosophere seems to have gradually warmed up to Beckman. He's off to a good start in recruiting, garnerning 10 recruits thus far including the aforementioned third-best Illinois QB recruit over the last 30 years. While recruiting success doesn't always translate to on-the-field success (see Zook, Ron (and yes, I will continue to stick to the idea that Ron Zook recruited well)), his track record indicates that he can coach.
Also, having 13 returning starters in 2012 including RS junior QB Nathan Scheelhaase certainly won't hurt his chances. Their B1G schedule sort of sucks, though.
- Sept 1, Western Michigan
- Sept 8, @ Arizona State
- Sept 15, Charleston Southern (this is a school?)
- Sept 22, Louisiana Tech
- Sept 29, Penn State
- Oct 6, @ Wisconsin
- Oct 13, @ Michigan
- Oct 20, BYE
- Oct 27, Indiana
- Nov 3, @ Ohio State
- Nov 10, Minnesota
- Nov 17, Purdue
- Nov 24, @ Northwestern
With seven home games, it's not the worst schedule ever, but visiting Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State on the road within a month can't be that fun.
Illinois looks to have one loss from the non-conference schedule and about three from its B1G road games. It has a shot at beating either Penn State or Purdue at home but probably not both. Minnesota is an enigma. Indiana will be a great midseason morale boost.
Illinois's schedule is as favorable as: A sunny day to a ginger.
X's and O's / Jimmies and Joes
Illinois ran a manbearspread during the Zook era with a mobile quarterback handing off to thumping tailbacks. Passing wasn't a huge emphasis, but when they had the talent, the Illini liked to go vertical.
Beckman probably won't change things up much on offense. He ran the spread at Toledo because that's what all the Davids do. I don't think he'll shy away from some of the manball things that he'll be able to do now that he's coaching somewhat of a Goliath.
At quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase (63.2 pct, 2110 yards, 13 TD, 8 INT) returns for his third year as starting QB. He's fairly mobile (624 yards, 3.3 ypc sacks included) and has an accurate arm. Not that I know a whole lot about quarterbacking, but my criticism of him has always been his inability to use his dual-threat abilities to his advantage. In all the games I watched of him last year, he was either obviously passing or obviously running. Unlike Denard or Braxton Miller, he wasn't very good at threatening one while doing the other.
Reilly O'Toole (59.7 pct, 270 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT) will be Scheelhaase's backup. While his numbers aren't impressive since he had only spot duty for most of the season, O'Toole proved himself a worthy second string at the end of the season when Scheelhaase struggled.
The Illini lose starters Jason Ford and Troy Pollard at running back, but I don't think Illinois fans were particularly happy with either of the two last season. In their stead Donovonn Young (451 yards, 5.2 ypc) will carry the mantle. At 6-1, 215 lbs, he fits the mold of his more productive predecessors.
Like at nearly every other B1G school, things get hazy at receiver. ALionEye is really high on sophomore Darius Millines (218 yards, 11.5 ypc, 1 TD) who sat out most of last season due to injury. Beyond him there's just a bunch of guys you'd give smack on the "possession" label if you were being polite. None of them really impressed during the spring game.
Offensive line is the real question for the Illini, though. A dysfunctional offensive line in 2011 was primarily to blame for their six-game losing streak, and they're not getting much help in 2012 with a couple departures and the returners unsure about their ideal position.
So there you have it. Terrifying offense? Hardly. By not being coached by Zook, however, they have the potential to be average.
This offense is as frightening as: A small rock. Fear level = 3. (1 = Threetsheridammit; 10 = Oregon/USC/Wisconsin Frankenoffense)
Chargin' from the gate.
Illinois has one thing going for it. It's called Chicago.
I'm being facetious again.
Also, defense. Against teams not made out of tiny track stars coated in butter, Illinois's defense has been pretty terrifying for the past couple years after a rennaissance under defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. It has been one of the best in the country in statistical categories like sacks and TFLs thanks to a ferocious defensive line that had first-round NFL draft picks with sweet names like Corey Liuget and Whitney Mercilus.
Unfortunately for the Illini Koenning is gone. Beckman offered him to stay, but he declined and instead left to become co-defensive coordinator at UNC, a position vacated oddly enough by new Ohio State DC Everitt Withers.
But that's neither here nor there. In comes new DC Tim Banks. While Banks doesn't have the greatest pedigree (2010-2011 Cincinnati was his most prominent stop), I am going to judge him only by whether he takes Koenning's system and ... leaves it the hell alone.
Also by whether this defense is any good in two years after all the current stars leave.
Michael Buchanan, on left
Defensive line will be anchored by DE Michael Buchanan (62 tackles, 8 sacks), who impressed during the spring game, and DT Akeem Spence (69 tackles, 2 sacks). It will be very good, and both are likely to be drafted at some point in the near future.
As an aside, ALionEye wants defensive line to be Illinois's thing:
I’ve always wanted us to have a thing. Wisconsin has a thing. Penn State has a thing. We need a thing.
But you already have a thing.
What is Michigan's thing, by the way? Oh right. The Team.
At linebacker Jonathan Brown (108 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 INT) will quarterback the defense from his station in the middle. Last year he and his fellow backers were a superaggressive unit, which probably explains why a middle linebacker has 8 sacks and 1 (knee to the nut-) sack. This made them prone to misdirection.
Maybe not so much on that second play, but nearly every other big Fitz gainer happened because of linebacker confusion or overpursuit.
Unless the Illini linebackers are getting coached differently this season, Borges would do well to use the same game plan with lots of spread and read option concepts.
Finally, the secondary returns both cornerbacks -- Terry Hawthorne and Justin Green -- despite losing all-purpose secondary player Tavon Wilson to the NFL. These guys were fourth in the nation pass defense last year, so even a modest dropoff in production would still make them very good.
This defense is as frightening as: A large rock. Fear level = 8. (1 = GERG 2010; 10 = Greg Mattison 2010)
Carryin' the weight.
K Derek Dimke (8/9) graduated. He missed once all season (42 yarder @ Penn State to tie the game), but it was the 42 yarder at Penn State to tie the game.
Otherwise Illinois was really bad on special teams last year. They had no return game, and they punted exclusively at inopportune times.
Yeah, that's how we all feel.
Overall record: 6-6 overall, 3-5 B1G ... maybe 7-5, 4-4.
Against Michigan: 23-10 Michigan. Don't ask me how, but it's probably going to be ugly.
Their chances of winning the B1G are as good as: A ginger trying to get a tan.
WHICH ONE OF THESE MEN IS WILL CAMPBELL? TRICK QUESTION
He is not correct. The result:
According to Ann Arbor police, Campbell was arrested after attempting to slide across the hood of a vehicle at 2 a.m. on April 7 in the 600 block of Church Street. An officer in the area could hear the sheet metal on the hood of the car buckle under Campbell’s weight — he’s listed at 322 pounds — and arrested the senior, police stated.
Campbell was intoxicated, according to police.
I'd hope so.
He's got a felony and a misdemeanor coming, which will obviously be pled down to some community service and a fine and Brady Hoke doghouse time. Will it affect his availability for Alabama? I'd say probably not, but we'll see.
Pro combat. I have not linked any of the brilliant Pro Combat uniforms being proposed by BHGP yet. Let me correct that error now with the MSU edition:
I'll be on the floor over here trying to breathe for the next twenty minutes. Here's the Michigan edition, which is terrifying in its plausibility.
Down that path we should not tread… RossWB of BHGP takes down the 6-1-1 model currently on offer from the bigger and worser SEC:
There may be reasons to expand -- money, exposure, money, prestige, money -- but short of a radical transformation of college football scheduling (i.e., more conference games, fewer games with money-spinning non-conference patsies) the end result is going to be fewer games against the teams that (for the most part) we've been playing against for a century. Fewer games against the teams that we know, against the teams that we love to hate. The overall advantages of adding Nebraska (probably) outweighed the costs (although I'm still bitter about the damage it's wrought on the Iowa-Wisconsin rivalry), but expanding past 12 teams would effectively be splitting the league in two. We'd be two leagues under one roof, with a rich, intertwined, and shared history... but a future that would share little but revenue statements and logos.
I'm done caring about money. No one gets the money. It does not go to players, it mostly comes from fans who are finding out exactly how much they will spend on this stuff, and it's not helping the league in its effort to compete nationally.
Take your annual story about the 26 million dollars that's being distributed, which is up X percent from Y dollars last year, roll it up, and use it to spank yourself. You've been naughty, droid putting out story about X million dollars. None of that money goes to anything other than an ever-expanding cadre of athletic department marketers and facilities for minor sports I'm indifferent to. I don't care if the TV contract is bigger. I do care that they've taken the OSU game and made it a cross-division game because they think maybe they'll get lucky once a decade and get a little more money. Football programs are not publicly traded corporations.
…but Brady says we will anyway. Hoke's opinion of where it's going:
“I think really in about three years you’ll see four super conferences, and I think the Big East will go away and maybe the ACC. But look, I’m just a coach. I don’t know all of it.”
The Big East has essentially already gone away, but I'm not sure how you get to the superconferences in the west. The Pac-12 would need to add Boise State and… then who? It seems like the best shot was annihilating the Big 12, leaving the SEC to pick up some pieces. Now you're talking about truly ludicrous geographic fits or extreme reaches on the part of the Big 12 and Pac-12.
Organizational side note. In the above post, Ross steals a Dawg Sports idea and suggests the Big Ten toss divisions entirely and instead play a schedule featuring three permanent rivalry opponents (Michigan's are MSU, OSU, and Minnesota) and rotate the other five games annually. The obvious problem with that is the NCAA's purposeless regulation dictating that championship games can only occur when your conference has two divisions in which everyone plays a round-robin.
If the Big Ten can work around that, it's interesting. The permanent opponents are not quite equitable—Minnesota's permanent rivals are Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan; Northwestern's are Illinois, Indiana, and Purdue—but it would mean Michigan would see the other opponents 5/8ths of the time (3/4ths if there was a ninth game) instead of the current system of playing some of the teams all of the time and others 40% of the time.
In the end, you cannot solve the problem without more games, as the SEC is finding out now…
So this is what things have come to.
@schadjoe LSU AD Joe Alleva said if Alabama wants to play Tennessee every year it could schedule a non-conference game
I wonder if Missouri’s AD still has the same rosy thoughts about how everyone in the SEC operates with the mindset of what’s in the best interest of the league.
I can’t speak for him, but if I still give a shit about college football in five years, I’ll be amazed.
…your choices are not playing the games, not playing the cupcakes, or coming up with a weird dynamic scheduling system. The guys in charge are going with door #1 because their brains are wired to believe they've got a quarterly report due Tuesday.
A year later, Jim Tressel has no ill will toward Ohio State
In other news, Mike Leach has no ill will towards bears.
This is not fluff? I really thought this article on Michigan's drop-in with the Navy SEALs was going to be fluffy fluff fluff but it's actually a detailed look at what went on that is worth a read. Example:
"Are you a better leader today than you were a year ago?" Harden asked.
About halfway through the players' answers, Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson offered a surprising response.
"I feel like I haven't grown," Robinson said. "For me to be the quarterback at the University of Michigan, I feel like I have to grow up a lot and be a lot more accountable."
Also it seems like Michigan is taking advantage of a soon-to-be-closed loophole here, as Schlabach adds in a sidebar that…
Michigan football officials told ESPN.com that Big Ten Conference compliance officials cleared their football team's recent senior trip to California because it involved leadership and life skills, which is permissible under NCAA rules. The Wolverines paid for the trip through a special fund in the athletics department's operating budget.
…so okay at least some of the money is going towards life skilling the players.
BONUS! The ND series has taken a turn, hasn't it?
Crane, who is from Arizona and served three deployments to Iraq, admitted to the Wolverines that he's a Notre Dame fan.
"Unfortunately, my team is Notre Dame," Crane said. "You guys have hammered them over the years. I'll try not to take it out on you on Friday morning."
should have sent… a poet
You 14-year-olds have no idea how good you have it in re: ND. Not so much with the MSU. There's going to be a point four or five years in the future when the student body has an inexplicably strong hatred of MSU.
UPDATE! I still don't care about 2014 football recruiting.
Wat. Via Midnight Maize, you can own this:
Whatever it is.
Chesson! I'm totally spoiling the surprise on the MGoSleeper of the year by constantly talking about Jehu Chesson, but oh well. Meinke follows up with Chesson in the aftermath of his impressive track performances and gets this quote out of him:
"It could just be a placebo effect, but I feel I can break tackles better because I have a stronger core," he said.
This is an impressive level of introspection from a high school kid, one the other quotes reinforce. Fast, tall, smart, and wears cool shades: good package.
Etc.: The USA took it on the chin from Brazil last night but at least Clint Dempsey's bitch please face is operating at full capacity. A national treasure, Clint Dempsey. Buckeye fan tweets at LTT collected. Nick Saban gets snippy. Graham Watson wonders if bidding out the title game is a bad idea because it's tradition to get ripped off by useless dudes. Les Miles rages against the LSU-Florida crossover game.
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.]