somehow we're only 124th
[Ed.: part of what promises to be a series orienting people unfamiliar with lacrosse to the sport.]
Courtesy of Insidelacrosse.com.
(We now have the best helmets in three sports. Also: Maize uniform rage spreads to two sports)
I’ve started this diary to help introduce Michigan fans to lacrosse and to explain what’s going on both on the field and off as best I can. Since there are no games to recap and I don’t have any video of this past season to break down, I figured it was best to begin with an investigation of Michigan’s roster and how much overhaul and time would be needed before the team became competitive.
There has been a lot of chatter in the message boards and perhaps some diary entries for the past year speculating how Michigan’s 3x MCLA National Champion lacrosse team would fair at the varsity level. Some have argued that Michigan will need a minimal level of roster overhaul or change in recruiting strategies in order to be competitive both within their conference and nationally, particularly in light of the fact that Brother Rice High School won the Inside Lacrosse High School National Championship in 2008, and that the general University student body is already heavily composed of kids from the East coast.
I’ve broken this introduction into four parts:
- Part I of this Introduction to Recruiting will compare and contrast lacrosse recruiting to other sports.
- Part II will attempt to compare how Michigan’s roster compares to the dominant programs in Division 1, in order to see what recruiting changes are necessary to compete for a national title
- Part III will compare Michigan’s roster to its conference foes in the ECAC to see how long it will be before they compete for conference championships and NCAA bids
- Part IV will look at two other new Division 1 programs to see if their experience gives us any indication into how long it will take for Michigan to become nationally competitive.
An Introduction to Lacrosse Recruiting
In terms of what coaches are looking for, it’s pretty straightforward. First, college coaches are looking for a player that has the proper size and speed. If you are a defensemen at a top level program, you are probably going to be around 6’2”-6’3” and roughly 220 lbs, a top level midfielder is 6’0”-6’1” and around 190 lbs, and attack can vary anywhere from 5’10” 190 lbs to 6’2” 215 lbs. In terms of speed, you are looking for players that run in the 4.5-4.6 range in the 40. Max Seibald, former Cornell midfielder and 2010 Tewaaraton Trophy winner (lacrosse’s version of the Heisman or Hobey Baker) recently clocked the same time in the 40 yard dash as Percy Harvin (sub 4.4), so lacrosse is increasingly bringing in top-level athletes (not just guys too slow or uncoordinated for football, etc).
The last element that factors into the scholarship equation is stick skills. Coaches vary widely in how interested they are in a players stick skills. Some coaches love to take athletic guys that were great at multiple sports and true athletes—particularly Dom Starsia at Virginia and John Desko at Syracuse—and trust their own ability to teach stick skills. Other coaches want “lacrosse players” that have the stick skills to immediately contribute the moment they set foot on campus. These players won’t be ranked in the Inside Lacrosse Young Guns list (Top 100 high school players in a graduating class, their version of Rivals 250, etc), but coaches hope they will turn into something special as upper classmen. Normally, only the most successful programs have the luxury of taking a risk on this type of player since they know they have 5-6 instant contributors already in their recruiting class.
Lacrosse recruiting is also in a state of flux right now—for years it operated under the radar due to minimal participation in the sport and neglect from television and print media. As the sport has grown in the past 15 years, and as ESPN and CBS have steadily increased the number of games on television, more people are starting to chart and follow high school players and their recruitment. Overall, lacrosse recruiting is a hybrid to what we are familiar with from football, basketball and hockey.
Similarities to Football
At its core, lacrosse recruiting is still most similar to football recruiting. To begin with, what matters most is your performance with your high school team. How you perform on tape or in person during your high school season is still the single most important element in getting recruited—college coaches want to see you how you play in settled offense, settled defense, transition, special teams, when a defense is focused on one player, etc. The only time you really see teams scheme is during the high school season, so it’s the most realistic chance for college coaches to see how players will translate to the college level.
It is also similar to football in the importance that the camps most major schools host during the summer play in recruiting. Colleges host team and individual camps, and like football, they provide the opportunity for coaches to get a player on campus and to see how they play in person. It’s a chance for the college to get an accurate height and weight, to see how fast the player is both with and without the ball, and to meet the player in order to get a feel for how they will fit into your locker room. As well, there is an Under Armor All America lacrosse game (one for juniors and one for seniors), and the team is selected through a series of combines like the UA or Army All America games in football.
Finally, lacrosse is similar to football in the sense that location matters a great deal. Just like Florida, Texas, California and Ohio/Pennsylvania are the four major hotbeds in terms of producing high-level football talent, the same is true for Baltimore/Washington DC, Long Island, and Upstate New York (you can also start making a very strong argument for including New Jersey and Philadelphia on the list). Like football, you can find talent in other places, but it is impossible to match the density of top quality athletes and high-level coaching of these areas. The players coming out of these 3-4 areas grew up with a stick in their hand, went to high schools where the most athletic kids in the school played lacrosse, and had coaches that treated them like low-level college players from the time they were 14 years old. If you want players who will contribute immediately and a team that will compete for national titles, conventional wisdom says you have to recruit heavily out of these areas (Part II will examine whether this is myth or reality). Players from outside the hotbed areas tend to be recruited as the proverbial “athletes” since they do not have the stick skills to immediately contribute or a natural position on the field.
Similarities to Basketball
Now that you feel like lacrosse recruiting is incredibly familiar and easy to grasp, let’s complicate it by adding elements of basketball. If you follow basketball recruiting, there are two similarities between lacrosse and basketball.
First, club teams and programs are a big deal in lacrosse recruiting. While this seems like a contradiction to primacy of high school tape in recruiting I wrote above, club teams are essential in getting your name on a coach’s watch list. Most college teams have little to no budget to travel during the season, let alone does a team that has 1 head coach, 2 assistants and 1-2 graduate assistants have the man power to travel during the season. Consequently, if a coach is going to see you live, it’s going to be in the summer or fall when you’re playing for a club team. If you want to be noticed by a coach, particularly if you are not from one of those lacrosse hotbed areas (or you are in a hotbed, but on a high school team so stacked that you won’t see the field until your senior year), your club team and the tournaments they qualify matter. Once they know your name after seeing you in a summer tournament, then they’ll start watching your high school tape Playing for major club programs like the Blue Crabs (out of Baltimore) or the Long Island Express is often the first step towards a D1 offer. Club teams are so important that Inside Lacrosse Magazine now ranks the top club programs in the nation at the end of every summer.
The second similarity to basketball is the recruiting timeline for a top player and the top programs. If you are a Top 100 Young Gun, you will probably start collecting scholarship offers during your sophomore year and will commit sometime before the start of your junior season. Johns Hopkins, one of the top programs historically, just received its third commitment for the Class of 2013. Obviously the majority of players still commit around their senior year and the majority of teams do not fill up their classes early, but if you want to land a Top 25 player odds are you will need to lock in a commit 2-3 years before he sets foot on campus. I hate this aspect of the game and think it has the potential to lead to very dirty tactics if the sports exposure and TV money continue to grow, but that’s where the game is right now.
Similarities to Ice Hockey
Now time to really complicate the issue. Lacrosse is a suburban sport, so the top players tend to come from school districts and families that are more affluent on average than a typical BCS-level football or basketball recruit. It’s a sport that requires a lot of equipment and travel, so like hockey it tends to attract more affluent families. This means players in this sport have options that a lot of top level football and basketball recruits do not. On top of that, the sport is still small so that if you want to play on a top high school team, you only have a few options. This means that you could be a stud attackman at Garden City high school on Long Island and be talented enough to be ranked in the Top 100 nationally for your high school class, but you could never see the field until your junior or senior year because there are 3 other attackman in the Top 100 in the class above you on your team. Coaches won’t see you and recruitniks will forget about you.
So what’s a player to do—they are outstanding, but can’t get the playing time to warrant a scholarship offer from a D1 school. What many players will choose to do is to go to a boarding school for a year or two. Some players will do a post-graduate year after graduating from high school, some will repeat their junior year and stay at boarding school for two years, and some will repeat freshmen year and stay at the boarding school for four years. So, like ice hockey, you may gain a commitment from a kid that appears to be a year too old for their recruiting class. Sometimes a team will also ask a player to take a PG year, either to grow or because they will have more room in the following year’s recruiting class.
This route has proven to be a great way for kids to get more exposure and for school to find the “diamond in the rough” in their recruiting classes. Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Salisbury School in Connecticut are national powers at the high school level in large part because of the contributions of PG players, and 2011 Tewaaraton Finalist Rob Pannell and 2011 All-American Billy Bitter are both products of a PG year.
I hope this helps illuminate the process of lacrosse recruiting for everyone. I know this post does not have a lot to do with Michigan specifically, but I wanted to make sure we are all on the same page with how the recruiting process works with lacrosse. It’s obviously going to take Michigan some time to fill their roster with high level talent, considering they are already missing out on some key rising juniors who have committed already.
2013 offers went out today and two 2013 commitments came back within a few minutes of each other—Brady Hoke's ark act is spreading. They are:
Hatch is a 6'6", 214 pound wing from Canterbury, Indiana.
You may remember Hatch as the guy who declared Michigan his outright leader in a local profile article from a while back. The question with him was whether the feeling was mutual; it evidently is. Hatch is a three-star-ish unranked dude who hasn't got much pub yet because his high school is small and an injury held him out of the early part of this AAU season. Beilein's been all over him, though, and he just shot up two inches so he could still be expanding.
UMHoops got some scouting in at the recent elite camp:
At around 6-foot-6, Hatch has a solid frame to go along with his smooth and quick jump shot. He hit a pair of deep back-to-back threes during his time on the main court and had a couple strong takes to the basket – using his strength and body position very well. He appeared to be the most consistent shooter of the wings at the camp in both game action and shooting drills.
He did a good job on the glass and was assertive offensively without trying to do too much. His handle isn’t quite what you’d like to see out of a wing guard at the next level but it’s good enough to get in the lane and keep defenses honest. His dad has told us that he’s still growing and depending on how much he grows he should have a very interesting combination of size, strength and shooting ability.
Donnal is a 6'9", 200 pound post—yes the post is 14 pounds lighter than the wing—out of Wayne, Ohio. He's 81st in the current ESPN top 100 and appears to be moving towards more Big Time status, as late-developing, skinny bigs are wont to do. UMHoops camp scouting again:
The camp wasn’t loaded with big men but Donnal was the most impressive of the bunch. He has very solid footwork and makes the most of the opportunities provided to him, which can be few and far between in a fast paced camp setting.
Knowing how to play the game is often an overlooked trait for big men. Reading situations, rolling to the basket at the right time, pivoting the right direction and making the right move are reactions that have to be made quickly and that most young bigs struggle with. Donnal, like anyone, makes his fair share of mistakes but he seems to embrace coaching and make the necessary improvements quickly.
He had a nice dunk in 3 on 3 play and seemed to always make the right play every time. He’s not a jump out of the gym athlete or a tremendous shot blocker, although he did have a few nice blocks in full court play, but he has a good motor and is an above average rebounder. He showed off a strong drop step in the post on a couple of occasions but surprised me more with his face up game. He’s not going to be a true face-up four man at this point, or ever, but he’s surprisingly coordinated at putting the ball on the floor for a sophomore big. He’s also confident enough to step out and knock down a jump shot from 18-feet.
There's more from ESPN and others at the UMHoops commit post.
This technically fills Michigan's roster for 2013 but that assumes Hardaway stays four years, Blake McLimans gets a a fifth year, and there's no other attrition. More realistically Michigan is looking for another two guys in the class. Monte Morris is obviously a priority, and then the fourth guy could be anyone.
Release the offer kraken. Today is the first day 2013 basketball recruits can be offered, and since John Beilein is king of the rules he sticks to this date religiously. He's also more than a little crafty by doing this since Michigan just got a first-hand look at most of its top targets at Michigan's elite camp. UMHoops reports it was the most talented of Beilein's tenure and there was one potential offeree who stood out:
Monte Morris won the day
Michigan’s top point guard prospects were all in attendance and everyone in the gym, including the players themselves, knew it.
The guard targets all played pretty well but it was Monte Morris who was most impressive. Morris was very good during drills, took a couple tough losses in 3-on-3 play and then exploded during 5-on-5 play to finish the night. He had a string of great games on the main floor, in front of the Michigan coaches, controlling the tempo and dominating the game as a great point guard should. He didn’t force shots, but scored with ease slicing to the basket, and also ran the pick-and-roll very well. Most of the games on the main floor came down to the final possession, or were even decided by sudden death free throw shooting contests. When Morris’s squad started clicking on the main floor they cruised to a couple comfortable victories.
Michigan is presumably interested in Morris, then. Yesterday GBW published this headline, from which you can extraopolate who the #1 is:
A Clear #1 for Morris
Michigan’s Elite Camp managed to attract several top prospects including four of the c/o 2013’s best point guards. The top performer of group on the day was Flint (MI) Beecher standout, Monte Morris. GBW caught up with the talented floor general to get his thoughts on the camp, his recent unofficial visit to Ann Arbor, his decision timeline, and the school he currently has at the top of his list.
Unfortunately for Obviously Extrapolated Leader, when UMHoops interviewed Morris he was planning to take his recruitment until the end of his junior year. As anyone who's followed Brady Hoke's recruiting can tell you, timelines can move up. Keep your ears perked for one of Sam's gut feelings.
Hockey indoors and out. A smattering of news items on the hockey team have come down the pipe.
One: they'll be replacing the College Hockey Showcase with game against Northeastern. You can count so you know that's one game too few to replace the CHS; in the past what this has meant is that two Eastern teams head out and switch off against Michigan and MSU. Oddly, NU (not that NU) released its entire schedule and their game against M is just a one-off.
Two: Michigan and Ohio State are apparently going to play an outdoor game in Cleveland this January. That seems to be a questionable way to create the future. Ohio State does draw better for Michigan games, but not well enough to fill their basketball arena. A football stadium in Cleveland is going to be a tough sell, especially one year after Michigan fans nearly packed the Big House. When they did so they found out that outdoor hockey is pretty cool but kind of a gimmick—sightlines are suboptimal. I think I'd rather watch it on TV, and if I want to watch it on TV that stadium is going to be half-full. If it's part of a Winter Classic featuring the Wings and Blue Jackets, on the other hand… that could work.
Three: the new scoreboard in the flesh is so sexy.
This is creating the future I can get behind.
Four: In addition to placing goal replays directly into your brain, Brandon is creating a $14 million renovation of the old barn. The future includes completely replaced seating, the conversion of the current media level into "loge boxes," a new media level above that, and some additional "corner and platform seating." Seems like they might squeeze another 500 seats or so out of the old barn.
Not mentioned was the top priority of the blogosphere—returning the old man to his rightful place:
But they did mention "concourse improvements" so those are probably putting Yost's head on everything.
There can be no UV without tatgate. AnnArbor.com catches up with a local memorabilia dealer to find the state of his business with college guys:
“We would never touch a college guy,” said Newhouse, a 38-year-old Ann Arbor man who operates AllAmericanSportsHouse.com. “We know that’s the ultimate taboo thing.”
…“That’s just stupid,” Newhouse said. “It makes no sense, and people should know better, especially if it’s a team you like. These are Buckeyes fans who ruined their team for years. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
I don't know, man, if I had the ability to make Terrelle Pryor show up at Chuck E. Cheese I might mortgage my program's future for one shining moment.
Taylor Lewan's golf swi—DUCK
Taylor Lewan’s first tee shot Monday at the David Mealer Memorial Golf Classic went screaming off of his undersized iron, traveling in a straight line into a wooden area located right of the tee box on hole 17 at Brandywine Country Club. A subsequent loud thud was Lewan’s ball hitting what everyone could only hope was a tree.
“Let’s get this day started!” Lewan yelled, sarcastically, in response to his regrettable shot.
IS EVERYONE OK
(Thirty-two Michigan players and a coach, Brock still working out with Barwis at his new Plymouth digs, Kevin Koger not playing because he's worse than that, general impression they should have done this at the swankiest putt-putt place they could find.)
Sharps hate us. The Wolverine Blog asks "why not us?" at a convenient time. Here's why not us: Just Cover notes some huge line movement at the Golden Nugget, which annually releases a set of "game of the year" lines early. In each case, Michigan got hammered:
…everybody is betting against the Michigan Wolverines. Along with Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and TCU, the Wolverines were a popular bet against team among the betting professionals. And, hey, why not? Until further notice, the defense still sucks, the potent offense from a year ago is undergoing a makeover and, well, did you see last year? The Wolverines went 0-8 against the number in Big 10 play and have been one of the best teams to bet against during the ill-fated, three-year Rodriguez tenure. The coaching change isn't enough to inspire betting confidence.
The Golden Nugget released lines on five Michigan games and in four of them, after a crazy initial weekend of betting, have moved significantly against the Wolverines. Nobody is betting them, at least nobody among the crowd of sharps and wiseguys who do this for a living, so much so that they pack the Golden Nugget in early June in to get bets down before most of the college football betting public has even bought a preseason annual. The critiques are that Michigan remains a soft team, the Golden Nugget overrated a typically public program and sharp bettors love betting against first year head coaches installing a new system. The Nugget is going to take a bath unless the Wolverines, as my old bookie once urged them more than a decade, can just cover the spread.
Notre Dame moving from M –2 to ND –3 with reports that is up to ND –6, Northwestern moving from M –4 to a pick'em, and MSU going from a 3.5 point favorite to 7.5. Sharps are betting Al Borges Denard Fusion Cuisine does not go well.
Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south had no lines posted for obvious reasons.
The young people. This, from one of those alumni tour things, is all your fault:
Finally, for all you MMB fans out there, I was able to speak with DB about the piped in music at the stadium. DB said that there was some resistance in the Big 10, but that they have been able to change the rule and now can mike the band. They expect this to make a big difference. He cautioned that they will keep some piped in music because the 'young people' like it, but is hoping for about 65% MMB and 35% recorded.
Let the bodies hit the floor, yo.
Etc.: Pitt and Penn State miraculously sign a two year contract to play in 2016 and 2017. Article subtitle "new coaching staff stresses accountability" makes inevitable appearance as dictated by the laws of man and God. Mets Maize on fanbase 180.
Tom Strobel and Erik Magnuson Go Blue
The double-dip commitments return, as OH Tom Strobel and CA OL Erik Magnuson both committed to Michigan within an hour or so of each other last Friday. Strobel was the first to commit, and was quite the surprise indeed.
Touch The Banner on Tom:
Overall, Strobel seems like a high-floor/medium-ceiling type of player. As a strongside end, perhaps the most important quality is to be relentlessly active, and he does have that quality. However, he will get eaten alive if he doesn't play lower.
Even though I’d be worried about him on the weakside, I love the idea of a strongside Strobel. I think he has many traits that make him ideal for the spot. For one, he mostly plays low with great leverage. He clearly has a very strong lower body, as he holds up well in run defense, rarely budging for the most persistent of tackles.
“Tom is one of my favorite DE’s in the 2012 class. He has an extremely high motor and never, ever gives up on a play. At 6’6” he has the size to potentially play at around 280 pounds or so. Strobel is a very solid tackler and has pretty good technique for a high school kid. He needs to work on his quickness and strength a little bit, but Strobel has the skills to be a special player.”
Strobel told ESPN's Jamie Newberg that Ohio State's pending NCAA sanctions had nothing to do with his decision to go blue. Ohio recruiting guru Duane Long says that this demonstrates Hoke is serious business. He thinks Strobel is a strongside end, and Chris Wormley (who he believes will become a Wolverine soon) is a 3-tech tackle. Local fluff on Wormley's multi-sport talents.
The second commit of the... hour... was CA OL Erik Magnuson. He was making quite a bit of noise about a potential commitment even before coming on the visit (and as I said in the commitment post, he told Tom beforehand that he was planning to commit when in Ann Arbor). Here's a local commitment article on Erik. Touch the Banner on his game:
Magnuson seems like a LT/RT tweener to me. He doesn't have the elite quickness that I'd like to see in a left tackle, but he doesn't have the mass (right now) or run blocking technique to be great at right tackle. I do think these issues are correctable, but his success depends upon how quickly he can shore up these weaknesses.
GBMW on Magnuson:
He bends his knees very well and maintains proper leverage. Erik keeps his feet moving and has good, low get off, all necessities for a power running game. The biggest thing we like about Erik, other than physical skill, is his attitude. He plays the game with a mean nasty edge. Erik does not just block opponents, he tries to destroy them.
And finally, The Wolverine Blog:
Were he to see immediate playing time, he would be exposed against speed rushers. His kick and drag is slow and choppy, and he has trouble getting a strong punch on quick enough pass rushers... Despite that gloomy start to the evaluation, I do like him as a road-paver. As I mentioned, he has long arms and good upper body strength, so when he uses his hands effectively, he’s a force to be reckoned with. More so than that, however, I love his nasty disposition on the field.
PA OL Adam Bisnowaty recaps his visit to GBW, and tells Rivals that Michigan is "stepping it up" ($, info in headers). His high school's athletic director told Tom that a pre-season decision is on tap for the big Pennsylvanian.
MA OL Eric Olson visited, and told Tom that he enjoyed it. Eric says a decision could come at any time, though he's considering a trip out to Stanford.
PA OL Chris Muller is looking to visit soon.
IL OL Jordan Diamond is in Ann Arbor today (he's traveling to Michigan for the Sound Mind, Sound Body Camp).
AZ OL Andrus Peat will visit Michigan this weekend.
UT DE Moana Ofahengaue (say that five times fast) might make a trip to Ann Arbor this summer ($, info in header).
Part 2 of last week's Sam Webb article rounds out the Ohio prospects who may be more interested in the Wolverines, thanks to Jim Tressel's little issue reporting rules. The only remaining prospects of interest to Michigan are OH DE Adolphus Washington (pictured at right) and his teammate, WR Dwayne Stanford.
Dave Berk: I think we were hearing from Adolphus and those close to Adolphus even back at the Columbus Nike camp that Ohio State has really moved down that list... I really think Michigan may be the program to beat.
Allen Trieu: As for where Michigan and Michigan State stand, I really think Michigan has a good chance. They need to get those guys on campus. They have shown interest in coming up to visit, which obviously the first step. With Michigan State, I honestly don't hear Michigan State mentioned too much for those guys.
Their coach has a top-10 list for Washington, but from the horse's mouth, his top 5 is Alabama, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan, and Ohio State - with the Buckeyes trending downward, it seems. Washington and Stanford are looking to reschedule a canceled visit over Memorial Day, and it seems that will take place this weekend.
The remainder of the article either features prospects who aren't considering Michigan, or who have committed to Michigan (Tom Strobel, profiled above) or Wisconsin (OH OL Kyle Dodson) since publishing.
IN QB Gunner Kiel has delayed his commitment, and internet scuttlebut alternately indicates that Michigan or Indiana [ed: !!!] is the school causing him to re-think things.
Local fluff on NC RB Keith Marshall, though there's no mention of Michigan:
Miller Safrit, a football recruiting analyst for ESPNU, said Marshall has shown a lot of savvy during his recruitment. "I think there are five or six schools who think they are in really good shape with him," Safrit said.
Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Auburn, Clemson, and North Carolina seem to be those five or six top teams.
WA OL Zach Banner has narrowed his list to a number of high profile schools (Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, LSU, Oregon, Florida State and Oregon join Michigan) and the local team, Washington.
There has been a report that OH DE Se'von Pittman recently tried to commit to Michigan, but the coaches told him to take care of some academic work first. Tom talked to his coach to clear some things up:
[Se'Von] wants to take a couple official visits. They're going to be game day officials because his intentions are to be a mid year graduate and enroll early. He's done a lot of homework, he's gone to camps, spring balls, evertyhing. He might be going up to Michigan's camp, we have a couple kids going up there, so he might come up too.
It's interesting that a kid with reported grade issues is considering early enrollment, but we'll have to see how this plays out. Ohio recruiting guru Bill Greene thinks the Buckeyes are back in the picture.
OH LB Commit Kaleb Ringer is striving to enroll early.
OH S Jarrod Wilson is planning to sit down with his coach this afternoon to determine if he's ready to make a decision, and if so, how he'll announce.
NJ S/CB Yuri Wright has Michigan in his top-5-ish substance. Though he's a top prospect, the Wolverines probably don't have room for many more DBs.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins has been offered by Florida ($, info in header). He had an interesting tweet following Michigan's Under The Lights Uniform unveiling:
michigans new Adidas jerseys are sweet hmm im starting to like the adidas flavor #thinking
And followed it up a couple days later with another interesting statement:
michigan has 17 commits hmm nice for the good ol' Maize and Blue #stacked
I imagine he's counting 2013's Shane Morris in that commit count, not dropping a big hint, though he's narrowing his list soon ($, info in header).
MO WR Durron Neal committed to Oklahoma.
CA WR Malik Gilmore will attend Oregon State.
OH OL Kyle Dodson received his long-awaited Ohio State offer... but committed to Wisconsin instead. Michigan finished in second for the big Clevelander.
MO OL Evan Boehm committed to Missouri.
DC DT Eddie Goldman has narrowed his list to 15 schools ($, info in header). Based on the fact that Michigan has hardly been mentioned with him, it's safe to say the Wolverines aren't one of those 15.
MD DE Michael Moore committed to Virginia.
State of the Class
The majority of comments on recruiting posts of late have been of the variety "where are the remaining scholarships going to go?," so let's take a moment to look at the overall state of the class (as we periodically do).
Although the Depth Chart by Class shows 18 open spots, Brady Hoke told Angelique Chengelis last week that he expects to sign 23-25 prospects. That means expect 5-7 more spots to open up by spring. So, with 7-9 spots left, things seem a lot less cramped in the recruiting class, no? It still leaves people feeling dirty about possible future Saban-y-ness, though.
Michigan leads for OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas. He plans to bring along his cousin, 2012 OH RB Bri'onte Dunn, next time he's in Ann Arbor. ($, info in header).
Keep an eye on OH DE Matt Miller, the younger brother of 2011 signee Jack Miller ($, info in header).
MI LB Jon Reschke will camp at Michigan.
he wants you (probably not you unless you're 6'6")
Brady Hoke's swashbuckling recruiting start has put Michigan fans in a tizzy, yrs truly included. Whenever anyone's in a tizzy there's someone there to say "hey, wait a minute," and this is no exception: amongst the many threads that can be summed up with three punctuation marks—!!!—is a small cadre of very rational people who note a significant number of three stars and lack of top 100 types.
One of them did some research:
I looked at Rivals data for every year since 2002, when they first started rating. I looked at the total number of 4 and 5 star recruits each year, and then calculated that as a percentage of the overall class. As we know, 4 and 5 star recruits are what fans think of as "elite" recruits, and if you look at elite recruits as a percentage of the overall class, you can get a rough idea of the "quality" of that year's class.
There are major caveats with this approach, starting with a huge one; this year's class isn't finished being rated, since none of have even played a game as a senior in H.S. Also, the class isn't, like, complete. Finally, the usual caveats of recruiting ratings apply as well. But since fans are typically using ratings to proclaim their happiness with recruiting, it seems fair to at least look at the early ones, just as we do around here in Tim's "Hello' posts. So here goes:
YEAR- #4/5* of # in class (%)
2002- 11 of 21 (52%)
2003- 13 of 17 (77%!)
2004- 13 of 22 (59%)
2005- 10 of 23 (44%)
2006- 11 of 19 (58%)
2007- 7 of 20 (35%)
2008- 17 of 24 (71%)
2009- 14 of 22 (64%)
2010- 6 of 27 (23%)
2011- 6 of 20 (30%)
2012 to date- 7 of 16 (45%)
So of the 11 years that Rivals has recruiting rated, there have been 4 of those years that, by looking at 4 and 5 star percentage of class, this year's class so far has beaten. And of course 6 that had a higher percentage of the class rated as elite by Rivals. Again, I don't draw any conclusions here because of the above caveats, but I do find it interesting. What do you think?
I think the above guy does have a point. Michigan is not suddenly recruiting on par with USC at its apex. That's fine. We are a beaten down fanbase that reached for the spread stars and melted its bowl streak and self respect. A return to, say, the #6 program in the country—its record during the Carr era—would be a welcome change. Michigan's recruiting from the early part of the survey contributed to that and a return to it is a good thing.
But just glancing at the number of four stars sells Michigan a little short. Here's why:
Rivals Is Relatively Down On The Class
247 and Scout are higher on Michigan's commits. The original poster returned to make this point when asked by commenters: 56% of Michigan's commits have four stars on Scout, which puts it above six of the previous ten classes.
Big Classes Are Tougher To Fill
Michigan is apparently headed to 26 this year, a number that should strike fear into every 5'8" guy on the roster other than Vincent Smith*. There's a set number of highly touted guys interested in you no matter how big your class is, so getting to 16 so early with seven four stars (or nine or whatever) should mean Michigan can hold out for bigger fish and come to rest with an impressive, large class.
*[This does make me uncomfortable: they have about 19 spots now and while a standard attrition rate gets them close-ish to that number, outright planning on sending guys out is approaching Saban territory. I hope there are completely legitimate reasons the guys who leave do so but that's getting into "but he really wanted to go to South Alabama!" territory. We'll see.]
Not All Three Stars Are Created Equal
Rivals actually breaks down players into eight tiers: a five star gets 6.1, four stars 6.0, 5.9, or 5.8, three stars 5.7, 5.6, or 5.5, and two stars 5.4. Michigan's committed three stars all get a 5.7 from Rivals save Mario Ojemudia, who gets a 5.6. They've all got good offers from program established at a BCS level:
- Ben Braden: Wisconsin (and Michigan State)
- Devin Funchess: Nebraska (and Michigan State)
- Matt Godin: Wisconsin (and Michigan State)
- Kaleb Ringer: Iowa
- Anthony Standifer: Notre Dame
- AJ Williams: Arkansas (and Michigan State)
- Ojemudia: Iowa, Stanford (and Michigan State)
- Allen Gant: Stanford
Only Caleb Stacey (best other offer: BC or Illinois) doesn't have an offer from a program that's done pretty well for itself over the last five or so years.
While none of those offer lists says "you have obviously ranked this prospect wrong (or he's fibbing about who wanted him)" there's a big difference between a 5.7 three star Nebraska was after who is a four star to the other sites and the three stars in Michigan's 2006 class. Only Quintin Patilla got a 5.7. Patilla and Obi Ezeh were snatched away from the MAC; Quintin Woods had an Iowa offer but didn't qualify, something that no current commit seems to be on watch for—certainly no three star. John Ferrara (Penn State) and Perry Dorrestein (Nebraska) each had one other good-ish BCS offer but didn't get that 5.7 and Nebraska then was Callahan Nebraska. Greg Banks shows an Oklahoma(!) offer on his profile but I'm not buying that; he was nondescript 5.6.
Similarly, of Michigan's 11 three-star-or-worse commits in 2005 only two (La Terryal Savoy and Mister Simpson) got a 5.7.
This is where some light Carr tsking has to go: Michigan's strike rate in the late Carr era was dismal. Exactly one three star* from 2006 or 2005 can claim to be anything other than a desperation starter: Mark Ortmann. In just 2005 Ohio State dug up Brian Hartline, Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis, Anderson Russell, Donald Washington and Brian Robiskie. That's six guys currently in the NFL rated three stars or lower by Rivals. We can talk all the crap we want about Terrelle Pryor but the current Buckeye dominance wasn't just built on loaner cars and birthday parties. They annihilated Michigan when it came to unplucked gems.
Similarly, Rich Rodriguez's classes were laced with academic washouts, insta-transfers, and guys with offer sheets nowhere near the solid lists Michigan's current commits have.
While we've got little evidence Hoke can manage the same trick OSU did the chances he comes up as empty the Carr regime did towards the end are slim, and the chances he suffers as much attrition as Rodriguez are zero.
*[Other than Zoltan Mesko, who is a punter. He got three stars but for recruiting sites giving a kicker three stars is the equivalent of giving anyone else five.]
Michigan State: Goo
This has already been established. Brady Hoke has turned Michigan State recruiting into a national endeavor. Good luck with that, kids.
Notre Dame Is Not Invincible
Recruiting against Notre Dame became virtually impossible for Michigan after Charlie Weis (of all people!) ascended to the top job in South Bend. Throw a rock at Notre Dame's highly touted, highly disappointing offensive line and you have about an 85% chance of hitting a guy who Michigan had offered and pursued heavily. (Don't worry: in response he will only mewl pitifully and see his draft stock plummet.) When Michael Schofield committed to Rich Rodriguez, this was a tremendous outlier.
Notre Dame always did well against Michigan since they had an edge with upstanding gentlemen from Catholic schools and upstanding gentlemen from elsewhere were a dogfight, but in the late Carr/Rodriguez era that went from a slant to an avalanche.
Hoke hadn't fought with Notre Dame much early but four of the last five commits—Erik Magnuson, Tom Strobel, Anthony Standifer, and Terry Richardson—had offers from Notre Dame. Richardson is Cass Tech and his buds are commits and etc etc, but
- Standifer is from Chicago, where Notre Dame has been kicking Michigan's head in for decades,
- Magnuson is from the West Coast, where Michigan recruiting had evaporated under Rodriguez and Notre Dame does pretty well, and
- Strobel is from the Cleveland area, which is historically one of the least-friendly places for Michigan recruiting. (Information per Misopogon, his past diary, and his upcoming Hail To The Victors article.)
That's a burst of success against the Irish unlike any Michigan has seen in a long time.
Ohio State: Self-Immolated
This is impossible to judge in a vacuum; recruiting against the Buckeyes is going to be a lot easier for the foreseeable future. Does Tom Strobel swing to Michigan if Jim Tressel forwards that email to compliance? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. However, even if Ohio recruiting's skids are considerably greased the next few years Hoke has an opportunity to become an equal(-ish) force in the state comparable to the Bo/Mo/early Lloyd era when recruiting an Ohio player was like going up against Notre Dame: yeah, there's a subset of that population you're basically Sisyphus with but you are going to win a sizeable chunk of those battles.
Shane Morris. In a similar vein, the things people are hearing about Wormley, Pipkins, Diamond, and even the buzz on Adolphus Washington.
Evaluating A Proper Level Of Giddiness
I do think the research guy above has a point. While Rivals is the most pessimistic data point at the moment, Michigan killing the Midwest without pulling in any of the truly big time recruits from Ohio, Illinois, or Pennsylvania (yet, anyway) is a baseline for Michigan's success if it's going back to a This Is Michigan strategy. Hopefully over the next eight months we'll see them pare back to an elite corps of guys they're after and close out with VHTs. If they don't it's going to look like a pretty good Carr class. If they do it's going to crack the top five and set the stage for a major realignment of power in the region.
Mallett/Wienke/Beaver/Newsome/Threet/Sheridan/Forcier/Denard/Gardner. Not pictured justcuz: Notorious C.O.N.E., Feagin, Conelius, Bellomy, President Kennedy & various other walk-ons, and Nachoshorts, brother to Tacopants, who is 4 inches tall and made of puppy dreams and snowflakes and was the guy Moosman was always snapping to in 2009.
It's about expectations. Among the very few diaries this week was Gordon's highly debatable retcon of recent Michigan history if the sweatervest had remained folded in a Youngstown drawer. That's about what might have happened. My diary's about what we thought would happen.
You've probably done this same exercise a million times after commitments (and 16 times since March): look at the current depth chart for that guy's position, toss in the current commits, and predict a monster future for Michigan, or wonder how in the world we will find playing time for all of these guys. Well things don't always work out how you expect, in fact they never do.
Over the next few weeks I will attempt to review our past expectations for Michigan's position groups at this time in Year X. Hopefully the knife of attrition will be much more lenient in the coming years than it was over the last few. Maybe there's something to be learned here about adjusting expectations. Maybe this is just a colossal thought loop. Either way it's not about OSU's scandal, and will hopefully make for an entertaining walk down memory lane. If it sucks, feel free to eat me alive in the comments. I'm told I taste like chicken.
This week: 2007 Offense.
What was going on:
It was a lazy offseason in pre-Apocalyptic Ann Arbor. I mean really lazy: we had like 3-6 commits at this point (Cissoko, Wermers, Moore, Witherspoon and Mike Martin) but led with plenty more, and thought '08 recruiting was just dandy. Baseball made its run on the national stage (the peak was a 2-game sweep in the regionals over No. 1 Vandy) to get us all excited-like. Mostly we sat around watching Sam McGuffie YouTube highlights and hoping Comcast wouldn't kill our ability to watch Michigan play football. Will Campbell committed for 2009, and early speculation had Larry Capers coming eventually. Cobrani Mixon became our first Facebook transfer. Comcast and the Big Ten were having their great phallis-off. On a way smaller scale John Pollack and Jim Carty were having theirs with the university over plans to install (gasp) luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium. Brian got really excited over the possibility of games on Torrents (MGoVideo debuted June 18), and spent much of the summer trying to figure out why Jonas Gray (and to a lesser extent his teammate and "package deal" Kenny Demens) didn't have a Michigan offer. Autumn Thunder made epic comparisons of people to Lord of the Rings villains, with Jim Tressel cast as Saruman. Crystal ball? Try internet connection.
We were not Harbaugh fans.
Depth Chart: Chad Henne (Sr/Sr), Ryan Mallett (Fr/Fr), David Cone (So/Jr)
Incoming: Steven Threet (4-star, 2007 Transfer/Fr from Georgia Tech), John Wienke (3-star)
Expected: Going into what everyone knew was Lloyd's last year, Michigan was the NFL's quarterback factory, having produced an unbroken line of pro passers dating back to the stone age. That such a legacy would continue was a certainty with 4-year starter and robot Chad Henne mentoring 2007 uber-recruit Ryan Mallett (who survived transfer rumors to Arkansas in late April). In the event of near disaster, Navarre-like object Cone was on the roster. Homecoming transfer Threet and the statuesque southpaw Wienke – who received his camp offer a year ago today – would be on hand if (God forbid) anything happened to Mallett from 2008-'10, or else to mop up the blood from the star's latest aerial assaults.
How'd that turn out? Ha. Henne was iffy and frustrated in the HORROR then had his shoulder blown up in the Oregonian Disaster—the rest of his heroics would be gutting it out with that shoulder to Little Brother little brother, and the legendary dismantling of Florida in the Cap One Bowl. The bubble burst on this dream with the hiring of Spread 'n Shredder Rich Rodriguez. The writing was on the wall for a 3-star pocket passer, and Wienke wisely bolted (for Iowa). Mallett transferred to Arkansas and went on to a productive career with lots of character questions. Cone stuck around to give us a fantastic YouTube video and a few garbage time cheap thrills. Threet emerged from his transfer purgatory to find himself fighting a duck-tossing walk-on for the right to get beaten up in the worst Michigan offense in ever ever. He spent the season in and out of the lineup with assorted injuries, and later transferred to Arizona State so the Richrodigan freshmen could play.
5 Point Scale of Expectation vs. Outcome: Does this scale have a zero? Way Zero.
More after the jump.