Kellen Jones M bowtie FTW.
Improving the not LOI. Compliance people complain to each other on twitter about people who abbreviate the "National Letter of Intent" as "LOI" instead of "NLI." Apparently there are other LOIs. You have been warned.
In any case they should be heavily reformed. Right now they're one-way binds with silly timing that have created a cottage industry of kids who attempt to reserve their spot by being "committed, but open." Paul Johnson's opinion of this is similar to Artur Boruc's about corn:
What I’d like to see happen, but I’m probably by myself: if you have 85 scholarships, and you can sign 25 a year or however many you have. When they commit, they sign the papers and you stop. It would stop all the verbal commitments and all the hats. The guys who weren’t ready wouldn’t commit. You’d call their bluff. They couldn’t make their reservation. We’ll talk to kids all the time, juniors right now, who are committing. We’ll say ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
“Oh coach, I’m open.”
[HT: Get The Picture.]
I'm not really sure what the argument against early signing is. The way it's set up now everyone scrambles to get their class locked in on Signing Day, so someone like FL WR AJ King who has his scholarship pulled by Purdue is in a tough spot in his attempt to find a landing place. If he was signed, he'd be signed and hijinks both ways would be seriously reduced.
The Bylaw Blog has a few other suggestions, one of which I've made in this space before: the NCAA should implement a "no contact" agreement. That piece of paper would be non-binding but would allow the school specified by the player to contact the kid without restriction… and make it a violation for anyone else to. Official visits would also be off the table. That's a verbal commitment that actually exists and would help coaches figure out who's serious and who's just making a backup plan.
Heart-hurting. Remember that video of the Detroit Renaissance coach declaring Michigan's treatment of former Ren players "hurt his heart," thus explaining why Michigan couldn't get anyone out of there no matter what? Raise your hand if you're surprised that Ren's Lawrence Thomas recited the entire negative recruiting playbook:
"Why not Michigan? They had problems. There were some past experiences with other Renaissance players that I didn't like. Plus, Rich Rodriguez sent an assistant to our school to recruit me. He wouldn't even send the defensive coordinator, just an assistant. Then we'd hear that Rich Rod would be in Florida recruiting."
The Renaissance players were Andre Criswell, a last-second addition at FB who never saw the field and was kept on as a GA after leaving the team before his fifth year, and Carson Butler, the insane tight end who finally ran out of chances towards the end of Rodriguez's first year. Butler was treated so badly he stuck up for Rodriguez during the jihad. Michigan did as well by those kids as they could given the latter's hatred of nerds, be they in the wrong dorm room or playing for Notre Dame.
So… this was not a situation likely to produce a commitment even if Rodriguez showed up with every assistant he had, and one that would likely have continued under Hoke. Similarly, when Taiwan Jones complains about a lack of attention from Michigan during his visit to the UConn game he's complaining as a guy who had been a MSU commit for months already and who Michigan never even considered offering.
This continues the theme from these Blue Chip articles in the News since the beginning of time: Michigan commits asked about State say something short, polite and vague, State commits asked about Michigan rant about a lack of respect, and the guys towards the bottom of the list submit a tear-stained questionnaire because neither school thought they were good enough. This will happen next year, and the year after, and so on and so forth.
Adventures in re-evaluating wins. So… how about not losing to Iowa by twenty points? Yeah, got a whole new sheen on it today, that does.
I mention it by way of inserting this "Fran-graph" from BHGP:
Michigan's at the top and you can see the extreme focus on the rim or the three point line in Michigan's field goals. BHGP's Horace E Cow explains:
In men's basketball in the NCAA this year, players have made 34.5% of threes and 48.2% of twos. The average value, then, of a three-point attempt is 3*.345 = 1.04, and the average of a two is 2*.482 = .964. This fact has led many college (and pro) coaches to the reasonable conclusion that three-point shots are better bets than two-point shots, and that their teams should take as many threes as possible (Todd Lickliter was one of these coaches, actually).
Not all twos are worth less than threes, though: shots at the rim are usually made at a very high percentage (60-70%) and thus the average dunk or lay-up is worth 1.2-1.4 points, much more than the average three. Putting these two facts together (threes are better than most twos, but dunks are better than threes), coaches have developed what could be called a "hollowing-out" strategy on offense: threes and dunks are encouraged, anything in between in discouraged.
My first experience with this line of thinking was watching some Kentucky game back in the day when Pitino was coaching them and hearing the announcer go on about how Pitino loathed shots just inside the arc. Beilein's system is the logical extension of that thinking. Michigan's makes against Iowa: 14 threes, nine layups/dunks, and ten anything else.
If you can get it to work it's great, and it's not a strategy that seems to have a ceiling. One of this year's other proponents of the dunk-or-deep strategy is #1 and current opponent Ohio State. Because they have Jared Sullinger they aren't launching as many threes but both their 2PT% and 3PT% are off the charts—they're in the top ten in both nationally. They've got four guys who take a large volume of two-point shots, and two of them are shooting a Jordan-Morgan-like 59%. Ohio State's distribution isn't quite as extreme but it's essentially the same thing.
The slight difference between the programs is the ability to recruit Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas every damn year.
180 update. Media 180, Signing Day edition:
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class looks like unqualified success
- Brady Hoke earns first win as U-M head coach — in recruiting
- Brady Hoke's first recruiting class adds toughness to Michigan football team
And I'm not even looking at the Free Press, which remains dead to me. I can only imagine the tiny drawings of angels.
I like the one that says there's more toughness now. That's definitely true. Being not tough was the problem, not the secondary being old enough to drive only if they all stood on each other's shoulders in a huge trenchcoat. Also that's the same guy who wrote about the "impossible expectations" driving Tate Forcier away. Pete Bigelow needs to make up his mind about toughness.
[Disclaimer section: Hoke did an okay job, but nothing that should push opinions either way. Not going into the year down eight kids is good. Losing Willingham to Central Florida(!?!?) is pretty wack, but being in a position to say that's wack is impressive since Michigan was nowhere with that kid before Mattison showed up. Losing Jake Fisher makes the tackle depth chart terrifying. I also don't understand telling Rivals 250 receiver Devin Lucien, a guy who was seriously looking at Stanford and silently committed to Rodriguez during The Process because he liked Michigan's academics, "defense or GTFO." Even if you don't want Hakeem Flowers, Michigan had room for another five players and has no receivers in this class.
Meanwhile, most of the guys picked up were of the low-hanging fruit variety: guys who were committed to Indiana or Minnesota or Vandy and didn't have a ton of other confirmed Big Ten options (Heitzman, Carter, Taylor, Bellomy) or guys who had been openly coveting Michigan offers (Poole, Rawls, Taylor again) but didn't get them until later. TX TE Chris Barnett is the exception.
This class is a wait-and-see sort of thing. We won't know if these late pickups were players RR and other Big Ten schools misevaluated or warm bodies for a while, and we won't know about Hoke's recruiting prowess until the 2012 commits start rolling in and he's competing against Ohio State. Not that Rodriguez won many battles against OSU.
On the other hand, a quarter of the class won't fail to show up or wash out by the end of spring like the last RR class so that's cool. Snatching Frank Clark away from MSU despite his existence in close proximity to Ted Ginn is promising. Also: kicker. Hoke uber alles.]
Etc.: Thomas Rawls may be a member of the Jackson family. The awkward Hoke-Rodriguez video. Going back to the 4-3. Michigan finishes 21st in the Rivals rankings. Hoke's got 8 years before the deck stacks against him significantly. Don't play the Hoke "toughness" drinking game. Nutt greyshirt hijinks.
This is the front-page version of the post that lives in the "useful stuff" tab updated for 2011. Since Hoke announced Michigan would be running a shifted 4-3 I've changed the defensive depth chart to reflect what's likely to happen in spring. Defensive ends have been split into strong and weakside positions and Ryan Van Bergen has been moved back into the DT row on the assumption Michigan's starting DL reads Black-Martin-Van Bergen-Roh next year. Large sections of the secondary are wild-ass guesses we won't get resolution on until Spring.
Right now Michigan has 16 slots for the 2011 class and two players who are obvious candidates to not get fifth years, so with normal attrition they'll be in the mid-twenties again next year.
As far as the end result of The Process: Michigan is two scholarships short pending tomorrow's Willingham commitment, which right now looks like it won't go M's way. In addition, they're carrying Mike Williams—a likely medical redshirt—and at least two more players who could have not gotten fifth years after graduating this spring. Michigan forewent up to five additional recruits thanks to the awkward timing of The Process. They didn't sock themselves with USC scholarship penalties—they socked themselves with half of USC's scholarship penalties.
MICHIGAN FOOTBALL DEPTH BY CLASS 2011
|QB (3 + 0)||
|RB (8 - 1)||J. Hayes
|WR (8 - 3)||R. Miller*
|Slot (5 - 1)||J. Gallon*
|TE (2 - 1)||
|B. Moore*||K. Koger|
|OT (4 - 1)||T. Posada||M. Schofield*
|OG (4 + 0)||C. Bryant||P. Omameh*
|C (4 -1)||C. Pace*
|R. Khoury*||D. Molk*|
|DT (6 - 2)||
|Q.Washington*||W. Campbell||M. Martin
|SDE (3 + 0)||
|J. Black||W. Heininger*#|
|WDE (3 + 0)||
|C. Roh||S. Watson*|
|LB (12 - 2)||J. Ryan*
|K. Demens*||B. Herron*
|CB (9 - 1)||
|JT Floyd*||T. Woolfolk*|
|SS (6 - 1)||J. Furman*||M. Robinson
|FS (2 + 0)||
|P/K (3 + 0)||M. Wile||B. Gibbons*
projected starters in bold, returning starters in italics.
Allotted: 83 (Counting Kovacs and Grady as a scholarship players)
Recruits: Right now Michigan has 16 scholarships. There are two redshirt juniors who may not get fifth years if Michigan finds it needs a little wiggle room: Terrance Robinson and Mike Cox.
Latest Update: 2/2/11 – Updated for 2011.
Michigan has gained a commitment from TX TE Chris Barnett.
Hat! Dyed Beard!
|3*, #16 TE||4*, 5.8, #14 TE, #224 Overall||3*, 78, #20 TE|
The premium sites can't agree on how tall he is, with Rivals and Scout saying 6-6, but ESPN going all the way down to 6-4. Despite that, all three list weights within a few pounds of each other, at about 247. ESPN's evaluation:
Barnett is a kid who as a tight end can present a big target with his long and lean frame. He has good height and while he needs to keep filling out he has plenty of room to add size. He has good hands and displays the ability to use that reach and extend and bring the ball in. He runs solid routes and does a good job of finding the soft spots in zone coverage and being able to settle and get open. He is a tall kid who appears to need to build speed and displays adequate acceleration whether getting into his route or after the catch. He displays adequate leaping ability, but will go up and get the ball and that coupled with his size can present a tough match-up and a nice target in the red-zone. He is a tough kid who will fight for yards after the catch. He is not very elusive, but will lower his shoulder and try and fight his way through tackles. While he needs to add bulk and may not physically look like a in-line blocker, he is productive. One thing he does well is he gets hands on and gets good placement. He needs to improve his overall technique as a blocker, but when he gets locked on he is tough to beat. Moves his feet, but needs to watch his pad level and you would like to see him consistently deliver a good initial pop and use his lower body strength more. Works to stay with blocks. Displays upside as player who can stay in and help as a pass blocker. Displays the ability to keep a solid base and move his feet and mirror, but does need to be sure to bend more at the knees. Barnett has good size and the ability to be productive as a both a receiver and blocker.
Scout's comments... well:
The phrase 'chillin, but my swag's on full attack' can definitely be applied to Barnett's game out on the field. He plays under a controlled tempo until it is time for him to explode out of a break or plant a defender into the turf on a block. It is a great year for the tight end nationally and with the proper development and focus Barnett could end up being one of if not the best by the time he leaves college. He has the size and the tools.
Were they drunk when they wrote that lede? I lean towards yes. They list blocking, competitiveness, and route-running as his strengths, while saying he needs to improve his body control and strength. Rivals also evaluates his game:
On the Hoof: Tall, long-armed athlete is a bit thin in the chest and thick through the midsection. Barnett has a nice powerbase to go with long, thick legs. His build is similar to Stanford redshirt freshman Levine Toilolo.
Needs Improvement: Needs to reshape some of his bad body weight and improve his overall speed. Added upper-body strength will also improve his run blocking ability.
Most Impressive: Has very soft hands for a huge tight end and is a mismatch for shorter defensive backs. He also runs precise routes and knows how to use his body to shield off defenders from making plays on the ball.
Conclusion: His size makes him a candidate for early playing time, especially on passing downs and in the red zone.
They love his size and ball skills, while saying his speed, strength, and agility are just good.
Barnett decommitted from Arkansas to join Michigan's class of 2011 (he had previously decommitted from Oklahoma to join Arkansas's class), and the Razorbacks know what a good tight end looks like. "Bobby Petrino tight end" is like "Wisconsin offensive lineman" or "USC pro-style quarterback" in terms of recruiting cachet from a single offer.
The rest of Barnett's offers, then, should follow suit. Miami (YTM), USC, Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, and Utah are just a few of his more notable names. Despite "meh" grades from the recruiting sites, the offers say this is a big time tight end prospect.
The recruiting sites only have estimates for his stats, with ESPN having sophomore numbers:
Caught 25 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Rushed for 150 yards. Registered 130 tackles and six sacks. Missed three games following knee surgery...
And Scout bringing the senior year:
As a senior Barnett racked up 300 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Not exceptional numbers, but as with most high school prospects, it's hard to determine the quality of his team and the opposition, as well as his team's offensive style. Especially since tight end isn't a "glory position," those stats are nothing to sneeze at.
FAKE 40 TIME
OK, if these numbers are legit, this dude is a beast. Scout lists him with a 4.55 40-yard dash time, and Rivals says 4.52. Those are very good numbers for a wide receiver prospect, and much more so for a 6-6 250-pound tight end. Since both sites have such specific times, and since they're so close, I'm inclined to believe they might be legitimate. Still, that only knocks it down one spot to four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights from the YouTube:
I couldn't find senior highlights on Youtube.
OTHER PEOPLE NAMED CHRIS BARNETT
Apparently there's an MMA fighter named Chris Barnett. People REALLLLY like putting MMA videos on Youtube.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Though the Wolverines really needed a tight end in this class, that doesn't necessarily mean Barnett will get onto the field right away. Kevin Koger will be a senior this year, and if redshirt junior Brandon Moore can become a contributor, Michigan's top two TEs are locked down.
However, Barnett seems ready to play immediately, and though he can add a bit of strength and weight, he has the speed to make defenses pay for overplaying the run. I think he'll get a bit of playing time as a true freshman, splitting the #2 spot on the depth chart with Moore.
After Koger graduates, Barnett should see tons of playing time in Michigan's TE-heavy offense. By the time he's a junior, All-Big Ten honors are a strong possibility, and don't be surprised if he contends to be an All-American a a senior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has a true tight end in the class, leaving defensive tackle as the only strong need. Any prospects on top of that are icing on the cake, as Michigan has filled all of its other needs by now, and they're unlikely to run up against the scholarship limit. CO LB Leilon Willingham is the only known prospect left on the board.
Barnett is a great pull for this coaching staff, and they've gone well beyond showing they can recruit. With just a couple weeks of contact, they've reeled in a number of good prospects (Barnett, Antonio Poole, etc.) and continued the recruiting job Rich Rodriguez's staff did (Countess re-commitment, Taylor and Bryant commitments).
OH Ath Frank Clark has committed to join Michigan's class of 2011. The Cleveland Glenville product projects to a number of positions, but is expected to play linebacker or tight end in Ann Arbor.
|3*, #33 TE||3*, 5.6, NR LB||3*, 77, #82 DE|
The sites are basically in agreement on Clark's size: he's about 6-3 and 210 pounds. ESPN's evaluation is mostly at defensive end, and therefore unlikely to be too useful, but here are the revelant words:
He is a physical kid and can be a solid tackler. He is active and defends the run well. Displays good upside as a pass rusher. He will attack half-a-man and while he needs to develop his pass rush arsenal he can be active with his weapons and can turn the corner well to get to the quarterback. There is some possibility that Clark could be looked at as a tight end, but we feel he fits well on defense and with some work could develop into a good college defender and end up being a nice little pick-up for a program.
It seems like they're in love with him on defense, particularly on the line (or as an outside 'backer in a 3-4, I suppose). This is particularly odd, given that the rest of their evaluation is "he's not polished with the skills necessary for a position that he hasn't played and likely won't."
Since there's precious little out there on Clark's game, I'll dip into the paid reserves a bit, to excerpt this ($) Scout article:
Also impressing was Glenville (Ohio) receiver Frank Clark. With a large frame, long arms, and a solid lower body, Clark looks like a prime-time D-I athlete. Clark moves well for being about 6-4, 215-pounds. Although not quite a tight end, Clark looks as though he can easily put on another 10 pounds and be a big redzone target. He jumps relatively well and has pretty good-sized hands. His concentration was a bit inconsistent, but when he worked, he is a very good player. His waist is not quite big enough to grow into a tight end and he is already a thickly built kid; he will come into a D-I program pretty well developed. Not a true burner, Clark’s straight-line speed is decent due to his long strides.
He is a very good athlete and moves well for his size, which is listed in the 205-210 range. Frank clearly has the frame to add the weight needed to be a college TE or H-back. His straight-line speed is reported to be in the 4.5+ range.
Frank runs solid routes and uses his body well to separate from defenders. Glenville is loaded with skilled players, so Clark does not show up a ton on film. His video from the Michigan showcase was impressive.
So, he's on the borderline between a wideout and tight end in body size - though if he's actually 6-4, and can pack on weight, he should be just fine. In terms of skill set, he seems like a hybrid TE/WR, as he performed mostly as a wideout at camps, and it doesn't sound like he's done a lot of blocking.
Rivals credits Frank with offers from Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Cal, along with a trio of MAC schools. Scout says he also had interest, but no offers, from Penn State and Pitt. He also heard (briefly) from Ohio State, but his chance for an offer disappeared when Ryan Shazier committed to the Buckeyes.
Michigan (offered in December), Michigan State, and North Carolina were Clark's final three.
ESPN has some stats:
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Clark played outside linebacker and tight end during his senior season. He made 70 tackles including 19 sacks while catching 12 passes with three touchdowns.
Not bad, especially for a team that has playmakers at every position.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits Clark with a 4.53 40-yard time. That is very impressive for a guy that ESPN ranks as a defensive end, and would even be a pretty good time for, say, a strong safety. I'm pleased to present it with four FAKEs out of five.
There doesn't appear to be any video of Clark on Youtube or even on ScoutingOhio. That's pretty rare, especially for a guy from a program as high-profile as Cleveland Glenville. If you can find any out there, let me know.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With fellow recent commit Keith Heitzman expected to find a home on the defensive line, Clark is almost certain to be a tight end at Michigan. Depending on the status of Brandon Moore, who has yet to see the field, that could mean a redshirt for Frank. After a redshirt season, he and Moore will be the only tight ends on the roster (barring further commitments, of course), and he should see serious playing time with the two-tights leaning of the new staff.
Frank will always be a bit on the smaller side for a tight end, given what the recruiting services have said about him, so he'll be more of a pass-catching threat than a devastating blocker. However, that means stats should come, and with them accolades. Clark has All-Big Ten potential before he leaves Ann Arbor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wooo! Michigan got a tight end! That was a huge need in this class, and Mr. Clark's commitment makes it less of a pressing issue. The coaching staff is still going hard after TX TE Chris Barnett as well. Barnett is more of a true tight end, and is probably more ready to play right away than Clark is.
Going forward, Clark gives Michigan a foot in the door at the notoriously impenetrable Glenville Academic Campus, which pumps out top prospects on a yearly basis.
Getting started around 7AM. We'll be running most of the day, at least until after the 2PM press conference. We won't shut it down while there is a good possibility any prospects will pick Michigan today.
Former Hawk Jerry Montgomery, who joined new IU staff, now appears headed to Ann Arbor to join Brady Hoke's staff. Tough break for Hoosiers.
The "tough break" bit is that Indiana hired him three weeks ago*.
Montgomery is a former Hawkeye defensive lineman who's only coached DL, was set to coach Indiana's line, and has no experience with DBs. It's safe to assume this is the guy who should stop in Ann Arbor only to drop off signed LOIs and if at all possible be Beyonce.
He's not Beyonce, but he played at Iowa recently enough to have a bio from his playing days on the internet and rocks a soul patch whether he's friendly or srs:
In fact, he's a few months he's younger than I am. This is terrifying personally; from a program standpoint it checks off the "knows what Adult Swim is" and "isn't from Minnesota" boxes with a guy who's worked his way up the ladder quickly. In 2006 Montgomery was a grad assistant. In 2007 he got his first job as Northern Iowa's DL coach. From there he's moved from UNI to Wyoming to Indiana to Michigan in under five years. He's a tautological up-and-comer and hopefully someone we'll see referenced in recruiting articles every twenty seconds.
Michigan's got one more spot left for a DBs coach; the much-rumored name there is former Wolverine Chuck Heater. Heater was literally just announced as Steve Addazio's DC at Temple, though. If Michigan was going to yoink him chances are that would already be in the works and Temple wouldn't be making announcements soon to leave egg on their faces.
*[Insert "they'd KILL Rich Rodriguez for this" bit here.]