that makes one of us
The Wolverines are truly reeling them in now. Three new commits this week. To the front page again! Action since last rankings:
5-2-11 Michigan gains commitment from James Ross. Notre Dame gains commitment from Justin Ferguson. Wisconsin gains commitment from Bart Houston.
5-5-11 Northwestern gains commitment from Ian Park.
5-6-11 Nebraska gains commitment from Jordan Westerkamp.
5-7-11 Michigan gains commitments from Mario Ojemudia and Pharaoh Brown. Michigan State gains commitment from Evan Jones.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Watchlist||Scout Avg||ESPN Watchlist||24/7 Avg|
All rankings will be on the 5-star scale this year (when available) for easier comparing across services. Rivals rankings come out this week. Full data after the jump.
It's a commitment-palooza! OH DE Pharaoh Brown is the newest Wolverine. Also, I'm really going to have to practice spelling "Pharaoh" (not "Pharoah").
|3*, #45 DE||NR DE||NR DE||4*, 90, #10 TE, #14 Ohio|
There's alllllllllmost a consensus among the recruiting sites about Brown's size. ESPN is the outlier in height at 6-5 (all the others agree he's 6-6, except the guy quoted below), and 24/7 Sports is the odd site out at 230 pounds, whereas the others all agree that he's 220.
Though 24/7 Sports calls him a tight end, Pharaoh told Tom that he's a defensive player in Greg Mattison's eyes:
"I talked to Coach Mattison today, and then he put the head coach on the phone and they offered me right there. They said they saw my film and they really liked me."
Pharaoh said he plays quarterback, defensive end, and tight end but Michigan is recruiting him for DE.
He's a big guy, but to play at the next level, he's definitely got plenty of work to do in the weight room. There's not a ton out there on him, but Ohio recruiting guru Duane Long has talked about Pharaoh a couple times:
Pharaoh Brown is 6-7 and 215. He runs so well and is so long. Right now he prefers tight end which is very odd as he plays quarterback on offense. The way he plays end I don't know who would waste him at tight end. Yes, I said waste him. I like a good receiving tight end as well as anybody but defensive linemen are what win championships.
He's not sold on Pharaoh's apparent attitude:
I can tell you I did not consider him [for his projected 22-man OSU class]. He says he wants to play tight end. He is willing to play defense but he wants to play tight end. That is not good enough. We talk about defensive players mindset. He has all the skills to be a great defensive end but I can't put a player on defense who does not want to play defense.
But, like, the film, man. It is good. If he's willing to play defensive end, he's an outstanding player at the position. Despite not being in Long's projected Ohio State class, he's listed as one of the scariest to get away:
I have been very excited about Pharaoh Brown. My enthusiasm has been dampened a bit after hearing about his desire to be a tight end. No matter which side of the ball he lines up on he could come back to haunt us...
Long doesn't really have a whole lot to say about Brown's specific skills other than "they exist." His highlight video shows off great athleticism, but a lot of the plays feature some 5-7 white kid whiffing on a block, so don't read tooo much into some of it.
He's physically reminiscent of Terrelle Pryor in high school, though probably not quite that athletic (and he appears to be much worse as a passer). I'm a little surprised with Scout's ranking of him, but it's still pretty early in the process, so whateva.
Brown had a strong regional offer sheet, with a couple of national names mixed in. Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado, UConn, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan State, Nebraska and West Virginia are some of the more notable names on his list.
Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oregon also showed interest, but did not offer him.
Scout has junior year numbers:
Had 49 tackles (13 for loss), seven sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles as a junior. Also played quarterback.
The amazing defensive end/QB combo!
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the premium sites have listed 40 times. Default five FAKEs out of five.
I'm no professional scout, but color me very impressed:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
So he's not Ojemudia-skinny, but Brown is still going to have to really put on some weight to be a top defensive end at the next level. With Michigan's haul of defensive players in the 2011 class and so far this year, he'll be able to redshirt and do some work in the weight room.
After that he should get some work into the rotation as a freshman and sophomore. Kenny Wilkins, Chris Rock, and Keith Heitzman are good players, but somebody with Brown's athleticism is a rare treat, so I think he's able to pass at least one of them on the depth chart by his redshirt sophomore season.
As a redshirt junior, he'll burst onto the scene, acting as a disruptive force in opposing backfields. Depending on his production that season, he has the potential to even be an early entrant to the NFL Draft. He could have All-Big Ten potential by the time he graduates. However as a prospect with a lot of developing to do he has to put in the hard work to reach that potential.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The recruiting along the defensive line is going to get a lot more selective, especially at end where the Wolverines got two commits today alone. With Matt Godin announcing soon, and the likes of Chris Wormley (and a host of others from Ohio) still out there, Michigan has the opportunity to only go after the best.
Going forward, the needs are (as you know, since there has been a commitment post approximately every 20 minutes for the past month) quarterback, offensive line, defensive tackle, and some top offensive skill players. A couple defensive backs would be nice as well.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia, a teammate of current commit TE Devin Funchess, has joined Michigan's recruiting class with a verbal pledge.
|4*, #17 DT(!)||NR DE||NR WDE||3*, 89, NR WDE|
So, all three sites agree that Ojemudia is a defensive lineman (including Scout, which calls him a tackle(!)), but, uh, they don't list him with defensive lineman dimensions. Scout, which you may recall lists him at defensive tackle, says Mario is 6-2 and 220 pounds, and ESPN is in the same neighborhood, just four pounds lighter. Rivals and 24/7 Sports both say that Mario is 215 pounds, but Rivals is the most optimistic on his height, listing him at 6-3, while 24/7 Sports credits him at merely 6-1.
As you can see Mario is likely to be emblazoned with the "undersized" label throughout his career should he end up at defensive end. I assume that will indeed be his position, because seriously? Five linebackers?
He talks about his own game on his Scout profile:
“I have great speed. I’m very aggressive and I play hard and fast. I want to work on shedding blockers. I’m trying to get bigger and stronger too.”
That "great speed" should be his main asset, as it so often is among undersized linemen. Of course, it also raises a question of "if you're fast and little, why aren't you a linebacker?"
FHH Coach John Herrington on Mario's selection to the Free Press Dream Team:
"He is relentless on defense. He doesn't stay blocked, and he gets to the football. He has great potential. He will be a great college player someday."
Herrington and a couple of Mario's well-known teammates talk about his game in the Detroit News:
The 6-3, 215-pounder is undersized in the trenches, but his power and quickness mitigates that disadvantage. So, too, does his relentless aggression. "Mario is unstoppable," said Burbridge. "You never seen him blocked. Mario is a beast." Funchess agreed: "(Ojemudia) is just an animal. He just gets the job done."
"Mario just has a motor that is unbelievable," Herrington said. "Now, he is very quiet. We're hoping that he develops as a team leader, but he is so quiet that he really has not done that yet. As far as his game, he has got to get some size. He's about 215-218. If he gets up to college and he gets up to 245, he'll just be amazing. He could be a hybrid. We've never played him [standing] up, but he's fast and he could play an outside linebacker. I think he is better down, but he's always wanted to play up as a linebacker, so we'll see."
Allen Trieu also discussed his game:
"Mario Ojemudia is quick off the ball, aggressive, and disruptive. The main knock on him is that he's about 215 pounds and has been playing out of position as a tackle. I think he will be fine at end, though, because he's so athletic.
No mention of the height being a liability at the next level.
Central Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri, Stanford and Syracuse were the non-Michigan schools in pursuit of Mario. Not exactly a murderer's row, but Iowa has consistently turned middling recruits into NFL Draft picks, and Stanford is riding a wave of success without recent precedent.
Mario's junior numbers:
Ojemudia made 127 tackles on the season from his defensive end spot, including 12 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Ojemudia was a driving force behind Harrison winning their 13th championship in 2010. He was also one of only three underclassmen to be named to the Detroit Free Press Dream Team.
Those are some serious numbers, especially from the defensive tackle position, and on a team that has talent to share the tackles.
Other members of the defensive Dream Team are headed to Michigan (Brennen Beyer and Delonte Hollowell), Oregon (Jake Fisher), Florida (CB Valdez Showers), and Michigan State (Lawrence Thomas and Taiwan Jones), so to be one of two underclassmen on the team (along with fellow future Wolverine James Ross) is a big honor.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout and Rivals both say 4.65. That's quite precise, and considering both sites say the exact same number down to the hundredth of a second, it seems much more believable. However for a guy who's going to play defensive end in college, and is not a 4- or 5-star prospect, it seems a little fake. I deem it three FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Take a look at a picture of Mario. At any position on the field, he'd be due for a redshirt year. He's like the reverse Brandon Graham (way too big as a high school linebacker, whereas Mario is way too small as a high school defensive tackle) Thanks to a few solid Michigan recruiting classes along the defensive line, he'll definitely have that luxury.
Following the redshirt, another year of mostly bench time to continue adding mass and learning the offense is probably advisable. By his redshirt sophomore season, he should start to work into a bigger role in the rotation, and pick up some time on special teams.
As an upperclassman, he should be able to challenge for a starting spot, becoming one of the key players by the time he graduates. His height might limit him in the NFL Draft, unless teams see him as a 3-4 OLB.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has needs along the defensive line, but with a commitment from Matt Godin possible in the near future, spots could start filling up quickly, particularly at defensive end. The Wolverines can hold out for a top strongside end (Chris Wormley pls), and focus on defensive tackles.
Going forward the Wolverines also need more offensive linemen, a quarterback, and a wide receiver. Speaking of wideouts, Michigan has thus far completed two-thirds of the Harrison hat trick, with top in-state WR Aaron Burbridge the lone missing piece. Burbridge doesn't yet have an offer, reportedly because of grades.
Once Michigan starts filling in the needs listed above, they can truly narrow focus to only the top-top prospects, and try to reel in one hell of a recruiting class.
[ED: Moved to the diaries. This obviously took some work beyond the level of a standard post. ZL]
Part of UUDD’s argument is that player development (and, in particular, playstyle) is a driving factor behind the Big Ten outperforming (and the Big 12 underperforming) expectations with respect to defensive players and offensive lineman. Brian had an alternative/additional explanation: a combination of recruiting service bias and difficulty in evaluating high school lineman.
I think there may another element at work: scouting services overrating certain sections of the country and underrating others, particularly the Midwest. Rivals (the source of the rankings used) doesn't even have a Midwest analyst. Meanwhile, OL rankings are particularly inaccurate since many high school kids need to put on 50 pounds before they can play in college. The flipside—skill position players more easily projectable—sees a much, much lower spread amongst conferences. The worst-performing conference is the ACC at 94% of expectation; the best is the Big East at 108%. That's a much lower spread than you see in the D and OL numbers, one that looks like an even distribution distorted by a little randomness.
If there was a regional bias in recruiting rankings, hard-to-evaluate OL would be the place it would show up most prominently. I think there is. Your ratings are just wrong when Wisconsin has two four-star linemen in the last five years, as they do on Rivals. They are not evaluating linemen correctly. I'm not sure what Big 12's hole of suck on defense represents but I'd be more convinced it was a playstyle thing if they were running 3-3-5s or something. Going up against Blaine Gabbert and a bunch of other passing spreads doesn't make much difference to anyone but a few linebackers, it seems.
Not content to let our fearless MGoLeader’s assertions hang out there without poking around the data a little bit, I asked Mr. UUDD for his dataset* and set to work determining (1) whether Midwestern recruits are underrated by the recruiting services, and (2) whether offensive lineman are comparatively more difficult to evaluate.
Specifically, I looked at (1) whether non-5 star Midwestern recruits outperform the “percent drafted” expectations for their star ranking,** suggesting that Midwestern recruits are underrated, and (2) whether the spread is smaller among the “percent drafted” numbers for offensive line recruits relative to all recruits, suggesting that the rankings are relatively less accurate.
Midwestern Recruits Slightly Outperform Expectations
The first piece is that there is a bias by the recruiting services against Midwestern recruits because the services spend relatively less time and resources tracking the Midwest. That bias translates into lower recruiting rankings for Midwest recruits, resulting in underrating of those recruits. Chart:
|Recruiting Stars||Overall Percent Drafted||Midwest Percent Drafted|
Midwestern recruits of the 2-4 star variety slightly outperform draft expectations relative to their peers from other parts of the country. However, the sample sizes here are way too small to reveal whether or not this difference is significant.
Of course, the chart doesn't disprove my mildly paranoid belief that Midwesterners are consistently being slighted by the jerks on the coasts, so let's call this a win.
Note that the Midwestern 5 star recruits underperform the mean. This has no impact on the claim (5 star recruits can't be underrated), but it's interesting nonetheless. Really small samples for 5 stars is all the explanation I need.
Stars Matter Less for Offensive Line Recruits
The second piece is that the big boys are harder to evaluate because they are less prepared for college football than their smaller brethren. Offensive lineman in particular often need a redshirt and a whole lot of S&C before they can show potential. Thus, recruiting rankings for offensive lineman are less accurate because the evaluation essentially comes down to "he's big and does not apparently soil himself."
|Recruiting Stars||Overall Percent Drafted||OL Percent Drafted|
Once again, the data is consistent with the claim, but not at statistically significant levels. The spread between the chances of being drafted as a 2 star offensive lineman and a 5 star offensive lineman is much smaller than the spread for all positions. In other words, stars may matter less for the big guys, but we need more recruiting cycles to know for sure.
* Huge, huge thanks to UpUpDownDown for sharing his work. As I found out very quickly trying to replicate the dataset, the data is extremely difficult to cross reference because a lot of recruits have the same name or slightly modified their name during their college career.
** Note one small wrinkle in the dataset: players that are eligible to declare for the draft, but haven’t, are counted as undrafted. Thus, a number of players from the recruiting classes of 2008 and 2007 that will eventually be drafted are nonetheless included in the denominator, but not the numerator, in the percent drafted numbers.
Edit: More Fun
In response to comments, the following charts reflect the overall percent drafted for only the 2002-2006 recruiting classes, and the N values for each set. I agree that including '07 and '08 players that haven't declared isn't ideal, but I wanted to be able to compare apples to apples with UUDD's analysis.
|Recruiting Stars||Overall Percent Drafted|
|Recruiting Stars||02-08 Overall||02-08 Midwest||02-08 OL||02-06 Overall|
Akron Buchtel safety Jarrod Wilson (6'2", 190 lbs) has been relatively quiet about his recruitment lately. With around 15 offers already, Wilson has seen his recruitment steadily increase as we approach summer camps. I caught up with Jarrod's head coach and former Wolverine Ricky Powers. Here's a look at Wilson's film and what his coach had to say.
TOM: We haven't heard too much about Jarrod lately. I know he's kind of quiet, but do you know if he's close to narrowing his list down?
COACH POWERS: Jarrod is a smart kid, and I know he's planning on narrowing it down soon here. I don't know who it will all be narrowed down to, of course Michigan will be on the list. I think he'll have schools like Michigan, Stanford, and Notre Dame which shows you his intelligence.
TOM: What have the Michigan coaches been saying about him, and have they come down for an in school visit yet?
COACH POWERS: The [Michigan] coaches really like Jarrod. They're going through the process, making sure Jarrod knows that he's wanted and that they really like him. They haven't been down here yet, but I'm sure they will be soon.
TOM: To go back a little bit you said he's a smart kid, what all does that entail?
COACH POWERS: He's an extremely smart football player and a smart kid period. His football IQ is really high, he'll line everyone up on defense for us. We call him the quarterback of our defenses. He's probably going to be our starting quarterback going into camp, which I hope changes. Corey [Smith] is probably one of the best receivers I've ever seen, he's just a smooth receiver and his routes are flawless. I'm not just saying that because I'm his coach either, I really believe that. I also believe wherever they go they will both graduate.
TOM: You mentioned Corey Smith, Jarrod's teammate. I know they had originally said that they wanted to be a package deal and they were going to school together, is that still the case?
COACH POWERS: No, they're not a package deal. I think they wanted to do that at first, but one may not fit with the other. Corey is a great kid too, but he might have a different situation than Jarrod.
TOM: To add on to that, Jarrod does have a Michigan offer while Corey is still waiting for one to come through. Do you think they will end up offering Corey as well?
COACH POWERS: I don't think the coaches have seen a lot of film on Corey yet. I think they want to see without a doubt that he can play at Michigan. They want to see if he fits and is right for them first.
TOM: Since you are a former Michigan football player do you have any past relationships with the current coaches?
COACH POWERS: I know Coach Mattison, who is recruiting Jarrod. I've met the new head coach and I love him. His heart is in the right place and he knows what Michigan is about. One thing about Rich Rodriguez that not a lot of people get is that he did what he knew how to do and what he was successful with, it just didn't work though. I do think Brady Hoke is bringing an energy that Michigan has been missing for a long time. You can see how excited he is about it. Michigan has always been great and sometimes I've wondered if everyone is excited about it. I think he's in at a great time and I hope people understand what he brings to the table.
TOM: Is it difficult for you to separate being a coach for Jarrod and Corey from being a former Michigan athlete?
COACH POWERS: What I do with my guys, it's going to be their decision. I provide them with as much information as I can. Look, Michigan's not for everbody. The average guy can't go to Michigan. Can these two be Michigan guys, heck yeah. But I don't want to push them there because it's not my choice. If they ask me I would tell them my experience at Michigan. I know just seeing Coach Hoke I think Michigan is going to be an awesome place. Jarrod will be able to see that. He'll be able to look around and see that. None of these other schools are slouches either, they bring a lot to the table. I think Michigan is a special place, but they need to figure it out for themselves.
TOM: With Jarrod's recruitment, do you know if he has a timeline to make his final decision?
COACH POWERS: I think he has a timeline, but I try not to talk to him about it too much. He's quiet, but he's a great kid and he really will break down different things to make a decision. He'll make the right choice.
A continuation of the Wednesday post that covers the last three years and what's shaping up in 2012. Side note: light day today. Semi-vacation day.
2009: Dominance Type Substance
Chris Norman, Larry Caper, Will Campbell
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings|
|2009||2||8||1||1||4||1, 6, 12, 24||2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 20, 25|
(MSU H2H wins: Dion Sims, Larry Caper, Edwin Baker, and Chris Norman.)
Michigan State nearly swept the in-state four stars, though some of those were pretty iffy—Jeremy Gainer's offer list read "MSU, Iowa and crap"; Donald Spencer's read "MSU and… MSU." Others could be filed under "just one of those things," like Blake Treadwell being a Spartan coach's son. Others were no longer of interest to Michigan because of their offensive system.
That said, this year saw four players who Michigan wanted and seriously could have used go to Michigan State, more than the previous six years combined. Only one—Norman—was a Ren/SE kid. Michigan's instate recruits were three Cass Tech kids and Inkster's Cam Gordon; with the exception of Michigan getting the #1 kid in the state this looks like a complete reversal of The Natural Way Of Things.
2010-2011: Even Footing
Anthony Zettel, Will Gholston, Brennen Beyer
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings|
|2010||1||3||3||2||2||2, 11, 12, 22||1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 24, 28|
|2011||3||1||2||2||2||4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 25||1, 9, 10, 14, 26|
(MSU H2H wins: Mylan Hicks, Will Gholston (2010); Ed Davis, Lawrence Taylor (2011))
The last two years were a wash. Michigan State picked up four more head to head battles, all of them for Ren/Southeastern kids. Michigan won a few, mostly Cass Tech kids. The state continued to bleed talent outside its borders.
2010 was odd because three of the four-star prospects in state were quarterbacks. Michigan won the derby for Devin Gardner, then Robert Bolden picked Penn State; Joe Boisture was left over for State. By the end of the year it was clear he was massively overrated, and he's already left the program. Gholston and Hicks were in bad places for Michigan recruiting; Max Bullough was a legacy. CJ Olaniyan also picked Penn State. A bit farther down the list Michigan made a bad choice by taking Austin White over Nick Hill and inexplicably ignored eventual Iowa commit Austin Gray. Their on-again, off-again recruitment of Jon Hankins (and his presence at SE) eventually turned him off; he went to Ohio State and contributed there his first year.
Last year the top player in the state was again a Ren kid who went to State. DeAnthony Arnett flirted with instate schools but always seemed headed elsewhere; he ended up at Tennessee. Anthony Zettel was a lifelong Michigan fan that Rodriguez/turmoil/etc eventually blew. The next four guys ended up at Michigan; further down Michigan lost SE's Ed Davis to State and Jacob Fisher to The Process.
We don't have rankings yet but a head to head scoreboard will suggest some things.
Royce Jenkins-Stone, Mario Ojemudia, James Ross
Michigan commits: Ben Braden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, James Ross, Devin Funchess
Michigan leans: Matt Godin, Mario Ojemudia, Ron Thompson, Dan O'Brien*
MSU leans: Aaron Burbridge
*[O'Brien maintains Tennessee as his leader but Michigan is currently second with MSU nowhere in sight; if he stays instate he will be at M.]
The Natural Way Of Things returns.
With both schools seeking pro-style offensive players and running 4-3s on defense the evaluation gap has evaporated. Southeastern and Renaissance have no D-I players; even if they did, the "hurts my heart" guy got fired and the "Will Gholston lived with me" guy was hired by (surprise!) Michigan State to be a video coordinator. Those two factors were at play in six of the ten head to head battles Michigan State won over the last four years, and most people who follow these things closely think a couple of the exceptions are iffy. Tyler Hoover probably didn't actually have a committable Michigan offer and Michigan seemed to back off of Sims after they got wind of he and his dad's involvement with a laptop theft ring.
Hoke walked into a situation closer to those Michigan experienced at the beginning of the time frame covered here: Michigan has a number of very good regional recruits but few that are being recruited nationally. Of those guys two are at Cass Tech and a third is best friends with the guys at Cass Tech, leaving Danny O'Brien the only guy notching offers from way across the country who isn't extremely predisposed to head to Ann Arbor.
Still, Hoke locking down guys who should go to Michigan is an accomplishment. Michigan's downfall started when they failed to take advantage of the record bumper crop of 2007, losing "locks" like Ronald Johnson, Joseph Barksdale, and Dionte Allen and failing to swing any of the guys who were "locks" to other schools. Michigan lost CJ Olaniyan, Jon Hankins, and Dior Mathis two years ago. Last year Anthony Zettel escaped to Penn State, Jacob Fisher to Oregon, and DeAnthony Arnett to Tennessee. Those sorts of losses were far less frequent in the early part of the time frame here—from 2003 to 2006 Michigan missed on one top-three Michigan player they offered. Further down the list they had a similar strike rate.
Michigan lost its grip on instate recruiting late in the Carr era and failed to reassert it under Rodriguez. That was a combination of a run of talent at schools featuring guys who were going to funnel their guys to State come hell or high water, State legacies, and some guys on the margins of four stars. Without that confluence of factors, MSU was pretty much just MSU.
So: the question?
It seems likely Michigan will get seven or eight of the top ten-ish players instate. This is indeed unprecedented. In the long long ago when the Natural Way Of Things held, the state didn't produce enough talent for Michigan to offer the top five players, let alone the top ten. When it suddenly started producing buckets of talent huge chunks of it fled. So, like, Hoke uber alles.