somehow we're only 124th
Let's deploy the fourth-grader test on Ohio State's response to the NCAA:
The institution is very surprised and disappointed by the lack of action in this matter by then Head Football Coach Jim Tressel. His behavior in this situation is out of character for him, as he has been a man of integrity and high moral standards since his hiring as the head football coach in 2001. His lack of action in this matter appears to have been the result of indecisiveness regarding the appropriate actions to take in this specific situation in which he was placed, as opposed to a blatant disregard of NCAA legislation. … The institution will not excuse such behavior. As a result, the institution has imposed significant corrective and punitive actions upon itself and sought and received the resignation of Tressel.
This is why, possessing every scrap of information about Tressel they have today, they fiercely suspended him for two games against MAC schools, and then suspended him for five games, before finally accepting his resignation, oops wait it's actually a retirement and that 250k you owe us… yeah, nevermind. Truly the behavior of Jim Tressel was a heinous deed the university abhors. It is clear that the Ohio State University took one look at Jim Tressel's actions and said "this will not stand." We are embarrassed.
What say you, fourth graders?
Hmm. The fourth-graders do not seem to buy it.
Fourth graders, what do you think about the assertion that Jim Tressel's "indecisiveness" led him to email a shady "mentor" about this a dozen times, but not compliance? Or the NCAA any of the three subsequent times he had an opportunity to say "oh, right, that whole thing about tattoos some guy I know personally who has helped us out before and I spent large parts of my summer emailing people who were not my compliance department about… yeah, that"? Fourth graders, do you believe Jim Tressel is an indecisive person?
No. No you do not.
The danger is that the NCAA might buy it, though, isn't it? If the NCAA buys that the problem is limited to Tressel because nine Buckeyes ticketed in loaner cars and reports that are unconfirmed but obvious from a half-dozen Buckeyes about Hookups on Tats and other things, and they aren't incensed by being duped about the Sugar Bowl, and they aren't incensed by OSU's actions against a "very successful coach in a very popular sport in a very short period of time" then they could get away with violating the most important aspect of NCAA enforcement: you are expected to police yourself.
So, NCAA: are you dumber than a fourth grader?
This is an important question to answer. Here's hoping the answer is "no," because an organization that reacts to the things Jim Tressel did in the way Ohio State did and then has the audacity to say something like this if the NCAA dares add punishment to what can't even be described as a wrist-slap…
"I'll be shocked and disappointed and on the offensive," Smith said. "Unless something new arises from where we are today, it'll be behavior (from me) you haven't witnessed."*
…you're being called out. Ohio State is daring you. They are double-dog daring you. Either send Gene Smith on the warpath and the unemployment line or establish defiant see-no-evil as the new baseline for enforcement.
*[What would that be? Contrition? A lack of wholesale delusion? The vague impression of competency.]
Excessively Defensive Section
Twitter was overrun with Buckeyes in various states of glee, denial, and smack-talking yesterday, with much of it directed at Michigan fans for their various states of butthurt, disbelief, and cynicism. These emotions are not limited to Michigan fans. It's hard to find someone who's not mocking Ohio State in the aftermath.
TSN's Dave Curtis:
As this story evolves, it’s tougher to conceive of Tressel as the only evil in that football program or athletic department. If he’s not, and the NCAA finds out, the Buckeyes will face USC-style sanctions. If he was, then Ohio State is guilty of failing to monitor its coach, and lacking institutional control by letting Tressel gain so much power.
Some concession, some spreading of the problem behind the head coach, would have marked a small first step in helping the Buckeyes win back the public. It would have helped with the NCAA, too.
The public’s only recourse is ranting and complaining. NCAA officials can punish to the point of paralyzing the program for a while. And come the fall, that’s exactly what they will do.
ESPN's Brian Bennett:
I can envision the following conversation during Ohio State's hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month.
"So, you vacated your wins from 2010?" an infractions committee member says.
"Yes," Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee says. "It was the least we could do."
"You're right," the committee member responds. "It was technically the least you could possibly do."
Tom Fornelli and Jerry Hinnen, Notre Dame and Auburn fans respectively:
Fornelli: Ohio State just really doesn't seem to get it, or they're in a deep state of denial. The NCAA isn't going to see that the school has vacated it's wins from last season and move on. There will be scholarships lost, and there will be a postseason bowl ban for a year or two. It's not fair to the players on the team or whichever coach eventually takes over for Tressel, but unfortunately for Ohio State, the NCAA knows that you can't just erase the past and fix things.
Hinnen: We're assuming they do. Since we're discussing the NCAA's Committee on Infractions here, there's no way to know exactly what they're going to do until they do it. Precedents mean nothing and logic is frequently tossed aside like so many babies in so much bathwater.
But if the COI ever wants to be taken seriously, rubber-stamping OSU's self-imposed "punishment" and giving the Buckeyes a pat on the head just can't be an option. Without subpoena power, the only thing standing between the NCAA and utter investigative helplessness is honesty and cooperation from those involved. What it got instead from from OSU was Tressel lying through his teeth with Gee and Smith nodding genially at his side. The NCAA tried to be lenient with the Buckeyes once already--and was repaid with a sham of a Sugar Bowl and a carton's worth of egg on its face for its troubles.
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Bud Shaw only speaks in one-sentence paragraphs:
The question is whether it's doing so as a strategy or out of delusion. Delusion is the leader in the clubhouse.
The Buckeyes started out looking nonchalant in all this, remember. Now, they just look arrogant.
Early on, they opened themselves to charges that their internal investigation amounted to, "Nothing to see here, move along."
This is an administration that initially wrist-slapped Tressel with a two-game ban, then increased it to five, then sought his resignation and now is fitting him for a pillory for display before the NCAA.
The designated media contrarian—there's always one—is Stewart Mandel, who argues that the media firestorm in the aftermath of the NCAA's allegations hasn't materially affected the charges, which the school argues are limited to Tressel. I'd think the head coach lying to keep six players eligible for an entire season obviously deserves a bowl ban and scholarship pain even when you don't account for OSU's persistently nose-thumbing response.
This is exactly how I imagined it would go down, except for the part where Roh is lining up behind them. I mean, that would be silly!
Before I get into the historical journey, a word on OSU's idea of appropriate sanctions (pdf): I must be really biased. I mean, I know as a Michigan fan I am not going to be impartial when it comes to Ohio State anything. My understanding of NCAA's "sweet spot" for penalties is to take the perceived benefit of the violation and double it as a negative. If five guys played ineligibly, 10 schollies amortized. If a bowl game was involved, 2-year bowl ban. Here's Gene Smith's latest sweet spot:
In its response to the NCAA, the university addresses the NCAA’s specific allegations and also highlights steps the university has already taken, including:
• Suspending five players for the first five games of next season;
• Accepting Tressel’s resignation;
• Vacating the football program’s wins in the 2010 season, including its Sugar Bowl victory in January 2011;
• Self-imposing a two-year NCAA probation; and
• Implementing additional measures to enhance the university’s already extensive monitoring, educational and compliance programs.
Notice how nothing from the above will have any long-term effect on the program. The suspended players were already suspended. Tressel already resigned (and having him promise not to coach anyone else just gives OSU exclusivity on his legacy). The probation and fixing the oversight problem by raising their monitoring of players' cars all the way up to the level of a sleepy MAC school are givens. As for vacating wins, to this History baccalaureate that's an empty gesture which creates more problems for historians than the school. If you never see this:
The Queen of England has admitted that William the Conqueror provided improper benefits to Norman knights when seizing the throne of England in 1066, therefore the monarchy is hereby striking the Battle of Hastings from the History books, and removing the Bayeux Tapestry.*
…then why do teams get to cross out history? If the Final Four banners from the '90s still hung at Crisler, wouldn't that just be a greater reminder of their tarnishing?
Through my very biased eyes, it looks like they're asking to walk away with less than Michigan got for clerical errors on practice time. Other than the duh parts, there is nothing here that's substantive.
If I understand this correctly, OSU is basically responding just to the original notice of allegations, and leaving it to the NCAA to prove anything beyond the Original Tat Five and Tressel's e-mail cover-up campaign. Now it's the NCAA's turn: if they don't reschedule the Aug. 12 meeting with the Committee of Infractions it means they don't think they can make the bigger case. Everyone who doesn't live in Ohio knows there's something funky with the borrowed cars, but Ohio State's betting the NCAA can't prove it now that Pryor can't be forced to testify. It's a hardball move, a mobster's move, and puts the NCAA Committee of Infractions in the tough spot of either choosing to respond with the heartless indignation they used on USC, or the wilt. I honestly couldn't tell you what they'll do.
* Yes, I know Bayeux is in France. It's a metaphor.
From 2007 to 2010 the offense was deconstructed and rebuilt, the secondary was nuked, and the linebackers plinked along with terrible coaching. Faced with replacing Woodley and Branch (plus consummate other-guy Rondell Biggs), the 2007 outlook for defensive line might have been scary had the next generation not been there ready to rock. Well the next generation was there, and they were ready to rock, and as a result Michigan's defensive line churned along through the Dark Times.
Not that everything was rosy. By 2010 the depth beyond the starters was a trio of senior disappointments who, while not disastrous in the way that various walk-ons and freshmen were in the secondary, were a pretty big drop-off from the regulars.
Re-Stating the Premise:
Why are we 'Predicting the Past' again? This series is meant to be a long reply to those board posts that pop up a lot between Spring and Fall practices where we list the young guys and recruits on the depth chart and predict wonderful things for the future. The idea is to take our collective DeLoreans back to 2007 and get a sense of how those expectations turn out. Are the alarmists justified when they see highly regarded juniors backed up by just a smattering of guys who got a 3rd star with their Michigan offers? What happens to the "studs" versus the 4-stars? Next week is a summary piece where I'll try to find any common threads. Bonus: some of the situations that characterized '07 are relevant today. Double-bonus: walk down memory lane.
Tackles: Terrance Taylor (Jr/Sr), Will Johnson (Jr/Sr), Marques Slocum (Fr/So), Jason Kates (Fr/So), John Ferrara (Fr/So), Renaldo Sagesse (Fr/Fr)
Attrition: Alan Branch (2004), Chris McLaurin, James McKinney and Eugene Germany (2005), Quintin Woods (2006)
Incoming: Mike Martin
LaMarr Woodley and Alan Branch made Michigan's defense one of the best in the country. Looking to open up opportunities for these two (and cover the loss of space-eating DT Gabe Watson), M in '06 moved back to a 4-man front with now-ready Terrance Taylor as 1-tech and Rondell Biggs as other-guy DE. The setup was not so different from Mattison's 4-3 over, and played to the team's strengths. Taylor could sit home and clog, Biggs could hold up his edge, and this left Woodley to scream in from 2011 Roh's spot while Branch feasted upon single-blocking guards from the 3-tech spot.
Opposing offenses were left with the choice of using more backs and ends as blockers, or leaving one of Michigan's monsters one-on-one with some mortal likely to require extensive therapy afterwards. When feeling particularly maniacal, Crable could blitz from the SAM. If an opposing quarterback was lucky, he might be able to launch a back-foot prayer before his respiratory system collapses. Yes, this is a setup for that picture.
After '06, Woodley graduated and Branch rode those single-teams to an early NFL departure. The other DE spot was losing its two-deep, graduating Biggs as well as fellow "solid" DE (and RVB Dutch-acronymical predecessor) Jeremy Van Alstyne. Except for Branch, a post-'06 exodus was expected, and the staff had been hard at work building the next generation.
Going into 2007 with one returning starter, the line was young and expected to take a step back as the sophomores took over. DL recruiting was a big thing for M for both '05 and '06, though attrition had already done a lot of damage to that. The '05 group had the highly rated Taylor from Muskegon, plus winter enrollee high-4 Eugene Germany, 4-star 3-tech James McKinney, and a sleeper rush end in Carson Butler. The '06 class, already having lost some of the oh-five-ers, had the high-4 star Adam Patterson, 5-star in-stater Brandon Graham (considered an LB but a move to DE was expected), and four depth dudes in space-eating 1-tech Jason Kates plus three middly 3-star types in Greg Banks (SDE), Quintin Woods (WDE) and John Ferrara (3-tech).
Then those classes got thwacked by most of the Decimated Defense's Carr-era attrition. Germany was a 4.5-star '04 USC recruit who got squeezed out by Carroll's oversigning and ended up enrolling at Michigan in winter as an '05 guy. In March '07 he was kicked off the team for taking part in the St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre, an incident quite similar to the annual Dantonio Dorm Raids at MSU except involving 17% less of the team (other culprits: DB Chris Richards, and Manbearfreak). He ended up at Minn-Duluth and was the best player on a team that made a surprising run to the DII Top 10. McKinney had some medical issues early on, and groused after the '07 spring game about his depth chart spot. By this point in '07 insiders were on to what became an Aug. 12 transfer; he was later dismissed from Louisville. McLaurin left in '06 due to health issues. Quintin Woods didn't qualify. Butler had moved to TE, earned the moniker of 'Manbearfreak,' and was thought to be following Richards and Germany out the door for the Nerd Massacre.
Despite that attrition, and just two DLs in the 2007 class, the immediate future had Michigan stacked at DE and serviceable inside on the 1-deep, but thin on the 2-deep with a major 2008 haul expected to shore that up. The key players all had time logged in previous DL rotations, promising a step back but a smooth transition nonetheless. Tim Jamison had earned playing time as a true freshman in '04 – before Branch did actually – but lost that season and much of '05 to injury. Brian in his 2007 preview:
Tim Jamison is finally the weakside defensive end after three years of nonstop hype interrupted by injury and Rondell Biggs. It is time to step up, as they say. Jamison's featured as a pass rush specialist for the last few years and has done well. Last year five of his thirteen tackles were sacks. Given the constant torrent of practice hype, Jamison's recruiting rankings, and his evident ability in small doses, Jamison should also be an instant star.
With his RS junior and senior years ahead of him, the WDE spot was set through '08. Opposite him, 5-star sophomore Brandon Graham earned time as a true freshman in '06, but as a flabby 290-lb. tackle. Graham slimmed to 262 for '07, and was expected to end in SDE competence with a chance of greatness down the line.
Adam Patterson was supposed to be a big deal. A high 4-star, Patterson was tagged as Woodley's heir apparent in '05, despite a (in retrospect important) quiet senior season in high school. He was a Lloyd Carr Inexplicable Burned Redshirt in '06 and saw erratic garbage snaps.
At DT, Taylor had established himself as a strong, compact, but not very mobile DT, basically what we want Quinton Washington to be (though that's wrong because Q is pretty mobile). The lone returning starter on the D-line, Taylor was expected to be rather close to his ceiling as a super-strong but no athletic redshirt junior, though that ceiling was All-Big Ten. Will Johnson had earned extensive playing time as a freshman and sophomore, even in place of Branch. The coaches loved him and while not Branch, Johnson was expected to more than ably fill Branch's 3-tech spot through 2008.
Depth-wise, Marques Slocum was finally past a two-year, FCK LION-enhanced qualifying odyssey. An OL recruit before, now Slocum was a backup DT with freshman eligibility.
The depth guys were all recruited as depth guys and expected to be depth guys. Among them Greg Banks seemed to be the closest to something that could draw in regularly to the lineup. Ferrara was the hard-working DT-type who invariably brings up comparisons to Grant Bowman. Kates as a 400-pound thing you put in the middle of the defense because nobody can move 400 pounds anywhere it doesn't want to go. In true freshmen, Renaldo Sagesse was a big Canadian who was already in his 20s as a true freshman and thus drew into the lineup immediately. Ryan Van Bergen was a 4-starry 4-star, ranked about even or just above the committed 2012 DEs. Or Anthony Zettel maybe.
For 2008, Novi's Mike Martin (fringe 150 and rumored strongman) had signed on June 5, and M was fighting Ohio State for similarly rated Garrett Goebel. Recruiting hype on Martin:
Out of high school he’s a smaller version of Terrance Taylor, a shortish but stocky NT sort who was a state champion wrestler and powerlifter. A true freshman at DT would normally be cause for concern but Martin is reputed to be a gym rat much better prepared for the rigors of a college weight program than most. His highlight film is pretty impressive, as he shoots through the line and drags down ballcarriers like he’s a middle linebacker.
Detroit Martin Luther King HS's 5-star Nick Perry, a rush DT, visited Ann Arbor on July 2 and named Michigan his leader over USC, Miami (YTM) and MSU, though Dantonio was hard after him.
All told the D-line was set for 2007-'08. After that it would be up to the next generation, meaning one of the 3-stars has to pan out inside or the '08 class provides.
How Did That Work Out?
For awhile, meh. Then came Barwis and…
D-Line is a little different than the other positions. Typically (unless GERG is running a 3-3-5) it's four guys versus five OLs. If you have a weak point and three solids, the offense can double-team your weak link and the rest look more pedestrian. If the offense has to throw two OLs at one star to save their backs' lives, it gives the other DLs more chances to blow up the play. It was hard to judge any DLs for much of 2010 as GERG put them into 3-man rushes so often.
This is most evident when you look at Terrance Taylor next to Alan Branch, versus Terrance Taylor next to Will Johnson. Taylor was exactly what we said he would be. He was no Suh and shouldn't have been the main guy inside, but as a second guy who does his job he didn't disappoint. I've never been able to find it again but at some point Carr called Taylor the "fullback of the defense," which if he actually said that and it wasn't my mind making it up would be apropos.
In 2007 I got down on Will Johnson – my snide nickname for him was the "Yellow Brick Road." This was mostly because I wanted to blame someone for Michigan being unable to stop a shotgun zone running game, which usually seemed to run right by Johnson. His UFRs were usually okay-ish (5+, 3-) but he got splinched often against Wisconsin (mixed in with some great plays) and was ineffective against Ohio State. Versus bad interiors (Minnesota, Penn State) he was spectacular. In the Horror and against Oregon he was victimized by doubles. Less Barwicized than the other linemen in '08 he nonetheless progressed to graduate as a totally acceptable interior player.
Ferrara played the younger-Bowman role of workmanlike backup okay, but in '08 he was called upon to (not terribly) fill the depleted offensive line when neither Tim McAvoy nor the recycling bin he was competing with proved effective.
On the ends, Jamison was not made for spread defending. Then he exploded against Ohio State in 2007, the only thing about that game that's not worth forgetting. He lost a lot of "bad" weight between his junior and senior years and was a plus guy on the 2008 team.
Brandon Graham in summary:
Graham missed the first two games of 2007 (you know how those went) but when he was inserted in Game 4 the defense all of a sudden could stop the run. However Graham was still a bit out of shape and this showed when MSU ran him ragged in the 2nd half with double teams. Then Barwis came in, deconstructed B-Grammy into small parts, and chose the most Woodley-esque to rebuild him. The result: by mid-way through '08 teams were staying away from Graham's side of the field with Woodson-esque regularity. In 2008 and 2009 Brandon Graham was probably one of the best players in college football; a dark horse Heisman campaign for Brandon (then and now I believe Suh should have won that one) appeared on M boards in late 2009. By the time he left as a fringe Top 10 draft pick (he went 13th overall), Brandon had gone from vague hope of another Woodley to winning a head-to-head comparison with a Lombardi winner.
Other wonderful news: Mike Martin = The Incredible Hulk. And Ryan Van Bergen, whether at DT or DE, has proven an effective starter since his redshirt freshman year (and the consummate likeable team guy to boot). You know these guys, and Brian's about to go into detail on the 2011 preview so I'll leave it there. Here's a mid-2010 season eval on RVB:
Van Bergen has also checked in around expectations. He wouldn't look out of place on Michigan defensive lines of yore when the defense was actually good. He's not making a ton of tackles (just twelve) but has two sacks and four of Michigan's eleven QB hurries on the season. He's been hovering around the +4/+5 area that's a decent to good day for a 4-3 DE, and since he's not a 4-3 DE those numbers point towards an above-average player. He was even an impact player against MSU with a drive-killing sack and solid play against the run. He tied Martin's numbers on the day.
RVB is also reportedly the only living human to actually catch and sack Denard Robinson in 3 out of 3 attempts, though this is disputed by Robinson. [EDIT: embedding disabled. Fast forward to RVB's number]:
Adam Patterson was the real disappointment, football-wise. A Top-100 recruit in his day, Patterson's quiet senior year of high school now seems a portent. Adam finally played regularly at DT in 2010 after receiving a 5th year for an injury redshirt in '09, and he was not so good. Best guess on him is the speed and size that came before his classmates and made Patterson so devastating as a junior in high school did not mature beyond that. His frame never filled out, and that made him eminently moveable by doubles. When Martin was knocked out/hobbled for the latter part of last year by a late MSU cheapshot, Patterson got to play extensively (he found out minutes before the Purdue game he would start) and Michigan was ripped by teams doubling up on the inside. That said Patterson stuck it out through the transition, and was always good for positive quotes about his teammates – how many Top 100 players can you think of who will stick it out for his teammates after all of that?
Neither Banks nor Sagesse were any better than their quiet recruiting profiles, which that's not their fault either. Coaching might have been wanting here too – Banks had a tendency to not work down the line of scrimmage when the play went away from him, which further exposed the young secondary and linebackers. Both were behind walk-on wee wittle guy Will Heininger in '09, and would have been again perhaps if Heininger hadn't missed 2010 for injury.
Other than that it was basically what could be gathered in 2009 and 2010 recruiting. Rodriguez & Co. picked up certifiable crab person Craig Roh (right), rated only moderately shirtless because of his size but otherwise a Ryan Kerrigan-level guy. Michigan also picked up a 5-star 2009 in-state Gabe Watson-like guy in William Campbell, but to date Campbell's technique has never managed to catch up to his talent. Whether the new, DL-oriented staff can turn Campbell into a effective (3-tech) DT this year could determine the fate of the 2011 line.
Nick Perry turned out not to be among them* – the 2008 class ended with just Martin on the line, and two 2009 DT recruits chose to back out of their verbals on Signing Day. M whiffed on an SDE-type in Anthony LoLata (since transferred), and have let in-state 4-stars slip away to Penn State in consecutive years. But brought in a smattering of 3-star guys in 2010 and 2011 who run the gambit from promising borderline 4-stars who probably just needs to add weight (Jibreel Black, Richard Ash) to lots of depth-y fellas. In other words, it looks a lot like 2007 all over again.
Ultimately your defensive line from 2007 to 2010 was saved by several extraordinary gentlemen, all recruited under Carr: Super All Star Brandon Graham, Mike Martin, and RVB, and when those guys weren't available the line suffered. Craig Roh is the most likely star to emerge from the Rich Rod classes, especially as he returns from being miscast as a linebacker in a 3-3-5 to the terrorizing edge rusher in a 4-3 under so like where he was most effective as an underclassman.
* This pissed me off so much at the time that my friends used to call out "Nick Perry!" to psyche me out of disc/darts tosses. This has now morphed into "Steve Perry!" because you try throwing a dart with this in your head.
Rescue_Dawn has updated his recruiting map. Behold the Mighty Midwest Kingdom of Hoke the Magnificent:
Since we don't count republished press releases and TomVH can't win it, this is your default Diary of the Week. Not that he doesn't deserve it.
5*, #6 OT,
#4 OT, #18 Ovr
4*, 80, #20 OT,
4*, 96, #8 OT,
#2 Ohio, #52 Ovr
There's a bit of a range in the sites' opinions of this kid. Scout and Rivals (which, to be fair, are the most-established recruiting sites) have him in the top 25 prospects in the country, and he's a 5* to Scout and the guy directly ahead of him in Rivals's overall rankings has five stars. Taking one step back from that is 24/7 Sports, which still likes him, but not nearly as much, calling him a good-not-great 4-star, and outside of their national top 50. ESPN is the most down on him, barely including him in their ESPNU150, and ranking 19(!) offensive tackles ahead of him (as a comparison, the other sites combined have 15 OTs ahead of him, DJ Humphries, Andrus Peat, and John Theus the only ones ahead on all three sites).
In terms of size, there's near-unanimity between the services. All of them say he's 6-5, and weights have a HUGE range from 300-305 pounds, with two votes cast for 302. Thus, 6-5 and 302 pounds seems to be just about perfect.
Let's kick off the evaluations on a negative note, as ESPN is by far the least impressed:
Kalis is a tough run blocker capable of controlling defenders with his upper body playing strength. Has the size with enough athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. If edge speed becomes a factor this prospect could end up inside at the offensive guard spot.
And there we see the first reason that he's probably not an elite prospect to them: he might play guard, a way less important/glamorous position on the football field.
This guy is a tough customer; displays a nasty finishing attitude while dominating his present level of competition. His arm length and short set ability should serve him well in pass protection; can bend and play flat footed, displaying the ability to play stout vs. the bull rush. Although his playing strength is a positive we see the need to polish his initial location and arm extension in pass pro.
Oddly, they say he doesn't have the length to play tackle, then praise the length of his arms. In a single-game report, they also praised his pass-blocking. Scout, on the other hand, admits that's one of his shortcomings, listing "Arm Length" as his only area for improvement (I guess they think he's got access to a medieval stretching rack?). His positive points are considered "Feet," "Nasty Streak," and "Power and Strength," echoing the ESPN evaluation of those aspects. Allen Trieu on his abilities:
Kalis is a tough, strong lineman who dominates consistently. He plays the game hard and is an excellent run blocker and drive blocker. He plays with good leverage and finishes his blocks strong. He shows the ability to pull and lead, and is coordinated and athletic in the open field. He has good feet all around, which is also evident in pass pro. If there's a knock, it's that he may not be long enough for left tackle. - Trieu
That arm length is starting to sound like a liability, but with his excellent feet, guard is sounding more and more like a possibility with everything I see. Duane Long discusses his game on Bucknuts:
One of the best offensive line prospects it has been my pleasure to evaluate in my time scouting players in Ohio. One thing that I believe has helped the Ohio State offensive line become better is bringing in players who like to play football. When I am talking about offensive linemen liking to play football I mean they like beating people up.
This speaks more to his nasty streak than anything, but calling him among the best all-time is a big deal; Long has been evaluating Ohio prospects for a few years, so that "all-time" puts Kalis among Aundrey Walker, Andrew Norwell, the late Matt James, and Marcus Hall. Long got more specific later in the process:
One of the finest tackle prospects I have seen in my time covering players in Ohio. I have yet to see Orlando Pace's equal but other than him I see Kalis in the same argument as Korey Stringer, Alex Boone, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell. He is very mobile, doing a great job of getting downfield and blocking on the second level. At the point of attack he is a dominating run blocker.
A report from Long before Kalis's commitment:
He is as technically sound as any lineman I have seen in the last couple of years. Once he gets his hands on a defender it is over. He is going to punish him until the whistle blows.
His father is former NFL lineman Todd Kalis, who (oddly enough) played for former Ohio State coach John Cooper at Arizona State. Sons of NFL players typically are a bit more polished than others, as Long implies. Duane's one question mark? If he has the ability to play LT, a recurring theme in other evaluations. Long couldn't contain his excitement after watching Kalis's physical play in the State Championship game:
Kalis should not be allowed to play against high school players. What he does to opponents borders on assault. He beats up the opposition... I don't like to project offensive linemen to play as freshman. Kalis is one that I think can. Love the nasty. Love the motor.
He'll play in the Army All-American Bowl ($, info in header).
Long story short on Kalis: an elite run blocker, mostly unknown as a pass blocker (from the sound of things, St. Eds doesn't pass a lot, and Kyle has played on the right side to date). He has the mobility the pull-block, and with shorter arms, might be a better fit as a guard, but a great one.
I like this part. Here are a few of Kalis's top offers: Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Those schools are either recruiting powerhouses, reigning National Champions, or Offensive Line Of Doom machines, so that offer sheet is very impressive.
Some of his other offers include Arizona State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Nebraska, Pitt, and West Virginia. Penn State showed interest, but did not yet offer Kyle (though there's a good chance it's due to his long-standing commitment, rather than a negative evaluation of his talent).
Kalis is an offensive lineman, and therefore doesn't have stats. However, Lakewood St. Ed's is one of the top programs in Ohio, and Kyle played a key role in leading them to a State Championship last year. They're MaxPreps's #9 team this season.*
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for Kyle, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio, which has taken to posting obnoxiously-short videos:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
This kid is a 5-star (or close to it) for a reason. He has the potential to play as a true freshman, and with Michigan's questionable depth at offensive line, he could see a backup role in his first year on campus. There are a couple RT/G prospects in the class ahead of him though, so hopefully he can take a year to learn.
After that, however, three interior linemen depart, and Taylor Lewan could also be out the door to the NFL Draft if he has an excellent redshirt junior season. Playing time should be easy to come by, even if it's only a key backup role.
As an upperclassman (or redshirt sophomore), I wouldn't be surprised if Kalis took an iron grip on a guard spot, and became a dominating Big Ten offensive lineman. With his recruiting rankings, it's hard to project anything short of potential multi-year all-conference honors, and possibly even an early entry to the NFL Draft.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The need at offensive line is all-but completely taken care of. Michigan will stay after several blue chips -- 5-star IL OL Jordan Diamond would be a very nice final piece of the puzzle, as a versatile lineman that can play pretty much any position -- but otherwise that big need has been filled.
Class needs remain re at defensive tackle and wideout, with smaller needs at QB and RB - positions the coaching staff could take a pass on if they can't land anyone elite.
* [Ed-M: Michigan was looking at three more of Kalis's teammates for 2012. Two - tight end Sam Grant and OL Tyler Orlosky have committed elsewhere (BC and WVa. respectively). DT Greg Kuhar is a 3-star DT deciding between Northwestern and West Virginia, and seems to be behind other M offers for his position).
With more new Michigan commits, we're hitting the front page after a hiatus of a couple weeks. Action since last rankings:
7-5-11 Penn State loses commitment from Jarron Jones.
7-6-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Isaac Hayes.
7-7-11 Minnesota gains commitment from Dominic Twitty. Iowa gains commitment from Jaleel Johnson.
7-8-11 Michigan gains commitment from Jarrod Wilson.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg||24/7 Avg|
*ESPN doesn't rate JUCOs, so Isaac Fruechte is not included in Minnesota's average.
On to the full data, after the jump:
OH S Jarrod Wilson has pledged to become the fourth (and likely final) member of Michigan's defensive backfield for the 2012 recruiting class. His high school coach is former Michigan great Ricky Powers.
4*, #10 S,
|4*, 80, #12 S||4*, 91, NR S|
The sites are just about in agreement on Jarrod's overall ability: He's in the 10-20 range among safeties (24/7 Sports only ranks 12 safeties, but it's fair to say he'd be one of the next couple), and outside the top 150 prospects in the nation. He's just outside the Rivals250, for what it's worth.
The premium sites also agree on his size, with a unanimous 190 pounds, and Rivals and Scout crediting his height at 6-2, while ESPN goes an inch shorter and 24/7 Sports an inch higher. That is really good size for a free safety, as long as he has the abilities to play on the back line. Let's find out if he does! We'll start the evaluations with ESPN:
Tall, well-built with good length and room to fill out. He flashes great range, particularly in deep coverage and good overall speed. Best attribute may be his reads and diagnosing skills. Rarely caught out of position, stays deep as the deepest and expertly splits twins set receivers. Consistently takes direct angles to the ball while keeping the pass in front of him.
This... this is super-positive, and will be a nice new trait for a Michigan safety in the past 6-7 years. It feels like a long time since there was a true ballhawk back there. A couple of their downsides of his game:
He will need to continue developing physically to play down in the box and he does not have elite speed and explosiveness -- but there are not many safety prospects with the positional intangibles of Wilson.
You'll see that physical play and laying big hits is consistently listed among his flaws. Evaluators also seem to agree that he doesn't quite have elite speed (though I'll take instincts and "good enough" speed over the reverse). His coach, former Wolverine Ricky Powers, confirmed the exceptional instincts and intelligence in an interview with Tom:
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.
Duane Long evaluated him on Bucknuts, in calling him one of his "starters" from the state of Ohio at free safety:
This kid gets his hands on the ball so much on his film that it looks like he is playing wide receiver instead of safety. He reads the game so well. He has size and range. He is going to have to become a better tackler if he wants to be the player he can be.
Long has been even higher on Wilson in the past:
This is my dark horse for the safety who comes out of this class four years from now with the highest NFL rating. If a college coach came to me and said he played eight in the box alot and needed a centerfielder right in the middle of the field I would suggest Jarrod Wilson. He is fast and very athletic. He reads the game and reacts to the ball as well as any safety in the class. The best cover safety in the class. The best safety in the class on the ball. He needs to be a better tackler. The good news is he is a willing tackler. Never shies away from contact.
If he's a willing tackler, but not a good tackler, it seems he just needs to add more weight and technique, two things that can be developed. Long is scared of the Buckeyes having to face him on the field down the road, as his mention of NFL potential seems to suggest.
Wilson performed well at the Midwest Showcase, and left his coverage skills in no doubt ($, info in header). He joins Pharaoh Brown as Michigan commits who are just outside the Rivals 250, and he also barely missed The247 . His leaping skills are impressive ($, info in header). Dave Berk thinks he's too good with the ball in his hands to not try on offense and/or returns ($). In a video interview, Jarrod himself even says he has the skills necessary to play corner.
Long story short on Jarrod Wilson: Great measurables, and excels playing the pass in a deep zone. He has work to do if he wants to man up on slot receivers, and needs to work on playing the run and his tackling technique (from his video, embedded below, it seems he also needs to improve his angles to the ball carrier at times). Fortunately, a lot of his skills are innate, and he can be taught the parts of his game that are currently lacking.
Jarrod is also a great student. He has a near-4.0 GPA in high school, and plans to enroll early in college. He wants to major in kinesiology (and Michigan's program is among the best in the country).
Jarrod's other finalists were Penn State and Notre Dame, so he had all of the big regional offers aside from Ohio State. Also from the Big Ten, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan State had offered him. He also held offers from UConn, Pitt, Tennessee, and West Virginia, along with a few MAC offers. Strong academic schools played a role in his recruitment, and Stanford, Syracuse, UCLA, and Vanderbilt are examples of just that.
That's not exactly a murderer's row of high-level schools, but there are enough teams that recruit on a high level (Penn State and Notre Dame, especially) that his offer list is definitely a sign that he is indeed a strong player.
He originally planned to attend school with his teammate, WR Corey Smith, but Smith is ineligible to play high school football this fall, and will enroll at junior college instead, before moving on to Tennessee.
ESPN and Scout have differing ideas on his senior stats. ESPN says he recorded 12 interceptions, while Scout only credits him with 10. They do agree that he returned 5 of them for touchdowns. According to Scout, he also had a 98-yard fumble return for touchdown. 50-60 tackles is the consensus range there (tackle stats are rarely precise in high school).
He's pictured at right with the ball in his hands, which happened frequently last year.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the premium sites have 40-yard dash times listed for Jarrod, which is realllly odd for a defensive back, especially one whose speed they generally praise, though not fawn over. Five FAKEs out of five.
There's also a brief ScoutingOhio video, but they're no longer putting more than 3-4 plays on Youtube, which, way to get nobody to embed your videos anymore, guys.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As I've been saying with most defensive back commitments in this class, it's tough to project too far into the future, since we don't even know positions for a couple of Michigan's defensive back commitments from the 2011 class. This guy is a free safety all the way, but whether Raymon Taylor and Tamani Carter play the position (or if anybody else already on the roster moves around) could have an effect on how quickly Jarrod gets on the field.
All that said, he plans to enroll early, which will help him get acclimated to college life and the defensive schemes earlier than his classmates, and he seems like a fairly polished player in high school as well. Better than that, he's a big, true free safety, something Michigan hasn't had - at least at a high level - since... Marcus Ray? I think Jarrod will get on the field as a true freshman, even if it's just on special teams (where he could play coverage or contribute in the return game) and a bit in garbage time.
As time goes on, his role in the defense will increase, and there's a good chance he's the "defensive quarterback" down the road, calling plays and making audibles, etc. As a junior and senior, I think he's certain to be a starter, and he could even challenge for All-Big Ten honors as a senior - especially if he continues his torrid pace of interceptions into college.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wilson's commitment probably closes out defensive back recruiting for the class of 2012, and means Jeremy Clark will indeed greyshirt next fall instead of immediately joining the current recruiting class (two 2013 commitments already, wooo!). Unless the staff feels really good about an elite prospect down the road, Wilson joins fellow safety Allen Gant and corners Terry Richardson and Anthony Standifer to form a complete secondary in the 2012 class.
The needs for the remainder of the class remain the same: a true defensive tackle (or two) is imperative, at least one wide receiver is needed, and then there are lower levels of need for quarterback and running back. With the class expected to reach 23-26 prospects, there is still plenty of room for any top-flight prospects as well.
The commitment of Wilson might also help Michigan's case with one of the top 2013 prospects in Ohio, LB/Ath Elijah Bell. Bell is a teammate of Wilson's at Buchtel High School.
right via let's go du
What is going on? In hockey, everything. We are apparently not going to have two straight years of speculation about a WCHA/CCHA superconference because it already happened:
UND will soon announce it is leaving the men’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association for a new, startup conference in 2013-14 … At least five other teams will join UND in this league: Denver, Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth and Miami (Ohio).
Notre Dame and an eighth school — possibly Western Michigan — also could be added to this group by the end of the summer.
"At our meeting in April we voted to extend an invitation to Miami and Notre Dame," Cobb said, referring to a pair of CCHA teams. "That passed with 100 percent of the vote. Nobody said they were unhappy. We left the April meeting and basically some of them contacted Notre Dame and Miami and said, 'Don't take the WCHA invitation, we're going to invite you to join our super league.'
"I blame everybody for being less than honest with their own league members. It's a really sneaky back-door deal."
There's no way Notre Dame is going to stick in the CCHA without Miami; Western is now without a coach and has been terrible for years before their surprise tourney bid under Blashill. They would be signing up to get murdered year-in, year-out. They might prefer Hockey MAC to being a punching bag for five powers and UNO.
If Western does go for it, the smoking husks of the WCHA and CCHA are about to be down to five teams. In the WCHA, Bemidji, St. Cloud, Minnesota State, Alaska-Anchorage, and Michigan Tech are left. In the CCHA, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Bowling Green, Alaska-Fairbanks, and Northern Michigan remain.
The remnants are going to have to glue themselves together in some fashion to get to the six schools required for an autobid; the most obvious thing to do is for the WCHA to grab the UP schools and possibly Air Force to get to eight. That would leave the two remaining lower peninsula schools, BG, and Alaska in a very precarious position—they could grab two or four of the Atlantic Hockey schools that want to offer 18 scholarships but travel costs go up and revenues down and BGSU already considered shutting their program down.
THE COLLEGE HOCKEY TEAMS MOST SCREWED BY REALIGNMENT
- St. Cloud State. The Huskies were a solid middle-of-the-pack WCHA team that often grabbed tourney at-large slots, though they infamously never won once they got to the actual tourney. Now they get to be Boise State.
- Bowling Green. Thanks for saving your program, guys. Now let's make it even less relevant than the team that finishes dead last in the CCHA every year.
- Undetermined Superconference Eighth. Hi, random eighth team in unnamed superconference. At best you're St. Cloud or Western. The worst programs you are going to play on a regular basis are UNO under Dean Blais and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth. You are signing up to be bludgeoned.
- Someone Else In The Superconference. There is not room for six or seven teams in any conference to make the NCAA field, especially in a world with two more autobids. At least one of the teams in the new conference is going to lose a coach or just be bad for while and fire a coach and all of a sudden they're the new Minnesota State. This will not be North Dakota. It could be anyone else.
THINGS MICHIGAN SHOULD DO
- Try to keep Western around by offering some scheduling guarantees.
- Play BG/Ferris/Lake Superior/NMU almost yearly, at their places sometimes, possibly for stuff.
- Get Michigan State to also do this.
HYPOTHETICAL NEW WORLD CONFERENCE RANKINGS
- Super Conference
- Hockey East
- Big Ten (Michigan was the only member to make the tourney last year)
- A Gaping Chasm
- Atlantic Hockey
HYPOTHETICAL MAIN BENEFIT OF SUPER CONFERENCE
You've taken the 35 teams jammed into three conferences (36 with Penn State) and turned them into five conferences of reasonable, or even smallish, size. Before, any teams looking to add hockey were looking at a forbidding existence as an independent or in the rickety CHA. Now there would be up to 24 extra spots for college hockey to gracefully expand.
HOW MUCH GUFF THE BIG TEN SHOULD TAKE FOR "DESTROYING COLLEGE HOCKEY"