This is our weekly roundtable, brought back from its offseason slumber because you really don't want to know what we are obsessing about in the offseason. If you ever have any topic suggestions, send them to seth at mgoblog dot com.
Sleeper player of the year? Who are we not talking about that we'll be talking about?
Brian: So not Wheatley then.
Ace: I’m partway into an answer that starts with a mention of Ian Bunting (not my choice) being an option because of our constant Wheatley hype.
Brian: And not Hudson then.
Ace: Options on the ground are very limited unless we’re allowing anyone who hasn’t been a full-time starter already. I was going to go with Dymonte Thomas.
Brian: I don't think I can do this if I can't talk about Wheatley and Hudson.
Ace: I wouldn’t veto Wheatley/Hudson talk even if I could.
Brian: A man needs a code. Can't talk about guys we're talking about. I will persist.
BiSB: Allow me to parse the rule: you can't talk about Hudson and Wheatley in general because your feelings are well known, but you CAN talk about them in the specific context of 2016, as such things are NOT known.
Like, Khaleke Hudson will invade and overrun Persia by the time he's a Junior, but will we see him as a true freshman toppling some minor Greek city-state?
Ace: Please let it be Sparta. #ancientdisrespekt
Seth: This is This Week's Obsession, not Nam. There are rules.
[After THE JUMP we actually do answer the question]
Lot of talent, lot of talent. CBS draft analyst Dane Brugler:
I've been watching #Michigan tape all morning and I'm not even halfway through the roster. Should have double-digit draft picks next spring.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) August 22, 2016
Per NFL scouts, Butt and Charlton(!) could be high first round picks:
I asked 6 NFL scouts for their top senior NFL prospect:
DL Jonathan Allen (2 votes), TE Jake Butt (2), DL Taco Charlton, CB Desmond King.
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) August 23, 2016
Juniors will pile in, of course, but if that holds to draft day both those guys would go in the top 15. I can't imagine it would—QBs and various other players at positions the NFL drafts higher than TE will emerge—but I be like dang anyway.
Todd McShay has Michigan third on his list of teams with the most NFL talent, and while having no idea what happened in the draft last year…
Last year, QB Jake Rudock (sixth round) was the lone Wolverine selected
…is not a great look for a draft analyst, ESPN currently projects seven players to be off the board by the end of the third round:
- #31 Jake Butt: "Has very good natural combination of size and speed to create mismatches. Adept at playing in-line (Y), flexed out (F) and split out wide. Very fluid for his size. … Gets overmatched physically at the point of attack by bigger defensive linemen."
- #33 Jabrill Peppers: "Good cover skills for a safety. Has lots of experience playing man-coverage both in the slot and on perimeter. At his best in man-coverage. Lacks elite fluidity in hips, but has quick feet and good burst. … Willing but could also be more aggressive at times. [ed: ?!?!?]"
- #39 Jourdan Lewis: "was in the hip pocket of Michigan State WR Aaron Burbridge (6th round pick, 49ers) hip pocket the entire 2015 game (stats are deceiving). Displays excellent body control and balance. Shows good deep speed on tape."
- #46 Jehu Chesson: "Very good speed for size and can threaten vertically. Gets from 0-to-60 miles per hour in a hurry. Has length and tracking ability to create matchup problems for average-to-smaller cornerbacks on 50-50 balls…. Excellent effort as a blocker. … Love watching this guy play the game."
- #56 Chris Wormley: "Excellent size and good overall strength. Shows snap in his hands and flashes ability to press offensive linemen into their backfield. … Tied for team-lead with 6.5 sacks in 2015 but 4.5 of those sacks came versus marginal offensive lines (Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers) and his sack versus Michigan State was a protection breakdown."
- #69 Taco Charlton: "Power-based bass rusher that does a good job of using his long arms and explosive power to get into offensive linemen's pads, and then grinds through contact. … Good but not elite first-step quickness. Solid lateral agility and redirect skills for size."
- #77 Mason Cole: "Better suited for pass pro inside. … Takes good angles and has very good range. At his best as a run blocker when on the move. Has the feet to consistently win battle for initial positioning. Lacks heavy hands and is erratic with hand placement."
In addition, De'Veon Smith and Kyle Kalis(!) are ranked as fifth-rounders. Smith has no scouting and Kalis's ("Good angles. Knows assignments. Solid job locating assignments in space.") appears to be about a different person.
You'll note the omission of Amara Darboh and Maurice Hurst from these rankings. Both those guys will be draftable by the end of the year. I'd be another member or two of the secondary get there as well.
Drake Johnson is the guy you should hit with a forklift. I mean, if it's absolutely necessary. Please don't run Drake Johnson over. Or anyone, really. Do not run people over with forklifts. Yes, fine, Hitler. In that unusual case where a zombie nazi is threatening children or whatever, go ahead. Even in that situation, are we really calling a reanimated corpse "people"? I think that's not people.
Sorry, no politics.
"The world could be falling apart, and doomsday could be happening, and I'd be like, oh, look, there's a nice flower on the ground," he says.
If it were anyone other than Johnson, such positivity would feel contrived and feigned. But then Johnson waves his arms, talking with his hands like a grand raconteur, and says something like, "There's always something good in every situation," and, dammit, you've got to believe him.
If I was Drake Johnson I would get business cards with "Grand Raconteur" on them posthaste, while looking very carefully for lurking forklifts.
Around the league. Things happening in opponent camps:
- Penn State seems set to replace Carl Nassib with a couple of older guys who had 1.5 sacks between them a year ago. You'd think that would be a dropoff, but Nassib came out of nowhere a year ago.
- PSU is considering starting true freshman Michael Menet, a five star guard type.
- Rutgers QB Chris Laviano "edged" a grad transfer brought in to compete with him. I mostly mention this because I had no idea this went down last year: "Laviano will have a chance to win over Rutgers fans who had no love for him last season when he went five straight games without a touchdown pass and lost his cool by blasting them on social media after interpreting boos meant for then-coach Kyle Flood at his own show of toughness in the middle of a career-best game."
- MSU has five "co-starters" on the DL. One of them is a 275-pound DT who grad-transferred from Nebraska, a second is a redshirt freshman, and a third is a senior DE with eight career tackles. If that doesn't presage a major dropoff despite the presence of Malik McDowell I'm going to throw a shoe.
- Per Urban Meyer, H-back Curtis Samuel is OSU's "number one playmaker on offense." Mike Weber is "close" to being named the starting RB; after Brionte Dunn was booted his competition is "nah" and "???." Malik Hooker and Damon Webb are leading to start at safety; sounds like Webb is still a little combustible.
- OSU may start true freshman Michael Jordan at guard. Jordan was a well regarded recruit but not so well regarded that you shouldn't expect Michigan to wreck that dude.
I'm sure everyone will handle this news calmly and rationally.
— Jalil Irvin. (@only1_lil) August 23, 2016
2018 GA OG Jalil Irvin is now Michigan's third decommit in the last two days, joining 2017 DT Aubrey Solomon and 2018 TE/DL Leonard Taylor.
Let's try to take a step back on this. Solomon is a big loss, without question; his initial commitment was a huge surprise and it was always going to be a tough battle to keep the nearby SEC powers, especially Georgia, at bay. I don't think anyone expected Taylor's commitment to stick pretty much from the moment he made it. Irvin is another Georgia prospect who committed very early in the cycle and is seeing his rankings rise.
None of these are all that surprising when taken individually. Having all three occur over the course of two days makes for bad feels and bad headlines, but Michigan will be just fine for both the 2017 and 2018 classes.
[I walked into the scrum mid-answer.] “Camp’s really been fun lately. I’m actually enjoying camp. You know, getting to spend time with the boys playing football. It’s crazy because usually different teams go do activities, but we just wake up, come down to Schembechler and practice. And that’s fun, to spend time with the boys.”
Do you think losing last year to injury changed your perspective on that, wanting to be back around and involved?
“Yeah. One thing that my injury taught me is just to be thankful. There’s people that can’t walk. I’m just grateful, grateful to play football.”
Obviously a lot of talent on the defensive line; you guys showed it last year. Do you ever think about if you were healthy, what it could have been?
“Yeah, I wish I’d be out there to be with the boys, but everything happens for a reason.”
With you back in the mix, can you talk about that depth a little bit?
“It’s really good. Coach calls it like he doesn’t really have starters, he has a two-deep group and everybody—basically anybody could play if [inaudible].”
Is it the depth that stands out most about the defensive line or is there something else that stands out to you?
“What do you mean by that?”
What stands out about the group?
“What stands out? We have a lot of veterans back, that’s what really stands out. We have so much leadership from the defensive line, and what’s really positive about the D-line is all the old heads we have.”
Why is that important? We know about the physical part of the defensive line, but the mental part.
“Mental part? Sorry, I’m lost.”
The leadership: why is that important as opposed to all the guys coming back?
“Oh, leadership! Because we have so many young guys—a lot of young guys. It’s good to have that leadership because it shows the younger boys what to do, and the vets throughout the whole thing have just been good leaders and everyone’s been backing them up.”
What’s Don Brown like to play for?
“Oh man, I love it. Coach Brown, he’s a fun coach you want to play for. I don’t know. Coach Brown, he’s just a great ol’ guy.”
What does he do that you like?
“He just brings the juice to every practice. In practices and in meetings he always has his juice. So much energy from Coach Brown.”
You talked about being thankful and you talked about the old heads a little bit. Do you find yourself in a position where you’re talking to the younger guys like, ‘Hey, don’t take this for granted.’?
“Oh yeah, definitely. Yeah, I talk to mostly all the freshmen. I took them in under my wing and just told them to be grateful because there’s no other place like Michigan. Everybody just likes and enjoys the struggle of being out there.”
[More after THE JUMP]
So it turns out the Georgia 247 post was the one to read into.
God Bless pic.twitter.com/Uub9inc0Da
— Aubrey Solomon (@AubreySolomon91) August 22, 2016
As Solomon said in the note, Michigan will get a chance to bring him back into the fold when he takes an official visit this fall. In the interim, the coaches will continue to push hard for four-star UT DT Jay Tufele, and we may see some names that haven't been mentioned around here in a while—Popo Aumavae comes to mind—pop back up on the board.
EDIT: 247 has an article up on Solomon's decommitment, and, well...
"A day or two ago, they sent my mom a card thanking us for going to the Michigan bbq, but we never went," Solomon said. "I do not know which recruit they were talking to, but it was not me. It was just a little heartbreaking, for me to supposedly be so high on their list, for them to confuse me with someone else. Plus they spelled both of my names wrong after I told them, but that was not the main issue. I guess they do not have tabs on me."
...that's not ideal. Solomon mentions his mom "loves" Georgia and that he didn't consult her before making his initial commitment. Even with the return trip scheduled, Georgia looks like a big favorite now.
Real, Live, Actual Football
— EliteFootballNetwork (@EliteFBNetwork) August 20, 2016
That's the good stuff.
High school football season is here, with scrimmages dominating the slate last weekend and the real games getting under way for the most part this weekend; the MGoCrew will be at the Prep Kickoff Classic on Saturday to see Southfield A&T vs. Detroit King and Cass Tech vs. Oak Park.
One Michigan commit performed so well last weekend that he's already earned a rankings bump on one site and could see a second follow suit soon. Four-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon ranked #207 overall on 247's (non-composite) rankings when he committed in June; after Barton Simmons saw his scrimmage, he's up to #110:
In Aubrey Solomon's first game of the year on Thursday night, he was totally dominant. The 6-3, 305-pound Michigan commit out of Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County showed outstanding motor, physicality and quickness in his team's win over Jones County High School. During a cycle in which the defensive tackle position doesn't have a lot of depth, Solomon is one of the rare interior defenders that would be among the best in the country in any recruiting class.
Scout's top analyst in the south, Chad Simmons, had a similarly glowing review:
Aubrey Solomon was a force against Jones County week zero in the Corky Kell Classic. He may not have had a dozen tackles, but he was consistently pushing offensive linemen backwards, pushing the pocket back, forcing the running backs to change their lanes, and forcing the quarterback to throw early Thursday night. Solomon has come into this season is great shape 295 pounds, and he played fast. He flashed great quickness off the ball and a motor that did not stop. He chased the ball, he had a key sack, and he was a force all night. Solomon is currently the No. 2 defensive tackle in the South behind LSU commit Tyler Shelvin — that could change.
Solomon looked great on the field. Off the field, he gave a 15-minute interview to 247 that requires its own section. Let's get to it after the jump.