Meram is scoring some sweet-ass goals of late
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the Friday Night Lights series.
Though the writing has been on the wall for weeks, the decommitment of FL QB Kevin Sousa still came as a bit of a surprise, at least in terms of timing. However, he enjoyed his official visit to Wake Forest enough to switch his pledge to Jim Grobe's Demon Deacons. The kid had been saying for weeks that he wasn't getting as much attention as he'd like, so the decommitment was likely a mutual decision. Best of luck to him in the ACC.
Though I said in the decommitment post that I'm not sure it's worth Michigan's coaches going after another quarterback to fill the slot (assuming they can hold onto all three current signal-callers), the coaches seem to want one in the class. OH QB Cardale Jones is looking like the most likely candidate at this point, but he's not much of a runner, goes to Michigan kryptonite Glenville, and just cancelled a visit this weekend.
Happy Trails, MI DT/DE Damon Knox. He had a final three of Michigan, Michigan State, and Illinois ($, info in header), but he's since committed to Michigan State. He has work to do to qualify at the next level.
Elsewhere in Not-So-Happy News
As for the other decommitment scuttlebutt over the weekend, FL RB Demetrius Hart had a "big announcement" following his game on Friday, and speculation was that he would be decommitting for Alabama. That didn't happen, but there's a storm to weather yet, as Alabama will be conveniently holding their Capital One Bowl practices... at Dr. Phillips High School.
Dee tells the Orlando Sentinel he will end up in Ann Arbor as long as Rich Rodriguez is the coach, but Florida is the alternate choice, rather than Alabama. He no longer plans to enroll early. By the way, kid's a National Player of the Year finalist.
THE HITS KEEP COMING, as Shawn Conway will not be able to qualify, and instead will head to a junior college. Better now than after Signing Day, I suppose. This helps explain the staff's increased interest in wide receivers of late. Shawn still plans to attend Michigan eventually ($, info in header).
Looking for a replacement? CA WR Devin Lucien has scheduled a visit to Michigan for the January 7th weekend. That's shaping up to be the Wolverines' next big recruiting weekend after the Big Chill. Highlights:
If you're worried about Michigan's other commitments, most local ones say they'll stick with Michigan no matter what, but also that they'll disappointed if Rodriguez is fired (though most think there's very little risk of that actually happening). Jake Fisher fluff, in which he confirms that position. Delonte Hollowell will also attend Michigan, regardless of whether Rodriguez is retained. Greg Brown is good to go on early enrollment ($, info in header). Right now, it seems he might be the only commit joining the Wolverines in January.
Big Chill, Big Visits
Last week's recruiting update had a working list of visitors for the Big Chill at the Big House this weekend:
- IL OL Chris Bryant. Tom says a decision is not expected from Chris, but wouldn't be a surprise, either.
- MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel. He won't pick a school until January, so Michigan's coaching situation should be fully settled by the time he decides.
- MI LB Desmond Morgan.
- FL LB Ryan Petro.
- OH QB Cardale Jones.
- OH WR Shane Wynn.
A mentioned above, January 7th looks like the next big recruiting weekend.
MI RB Thomas Rawls is visiting soon, but there's still no word on a qualifying test score.
Alabama is starting to show interest in FL RB DeVondrick Nealy. He's said that Michigan leads for his services (even though the Wolverines are unlikely to have room in their class for him).
FL Slot Prince Holloway says (paraphrase) "if I can qualify, I will get a committable offer from Michigan," which leads me to believe that he's unlikely to get a qualifying test score. Justice Hayes probably has the slot position locked down for this class, unless Holloway can play corner (but even there, Michigan has higher prospects on the board).
Still the status quo for NC WR/LB Kris Frost, who will choose between Michigan and Auburn ($, info in header).
NJ TE Jack Tabb enjoyed his Michigan visit a few weeks back, saying:
“I had a great time. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. They definitely have a need and a want for a tight end and that’s a very good thing. In fact, that’s one of the most important things. They would definitely have you moving all over the field, at tight end, in the slot and in the backfield.”
After his Iowa visit, he dropped the Hawkeyes ($, info in header), so his high praise may carry a little more weight than a recruit who loves every visit. He's still planning a decision before Christmas.
PA OL/DT Rob Trudo, currently committed to Syracuse, will visit Michigan ($, info in header).
FL DT Tim Jernigan has a top four of Alabama, LSU, Michigan, and Florida State, but he told the Gainesville Sun's Ed Aschoff that "he could go to a school not listed in his top four." He lives within an hour of Jacksonville, so I wonder if he might take a trip to the Gator Bowl.
Michigan is still in the top five for MD DT Darian Cooper ($, info in header).
Recent visitor FL S Wayne Lyons has been selected to the Army All-American Game - and that's where he plans to announce his commitment. The schools in the running for his commitment (in no order) are Stanford, Michigan, Notre Dame, UCLA, Nebraska, Florida, and Auburn. The two SEC schools did not receive official visits from Wayne.
NJ S Sheldon Royster will visit in January.
Like his classmate (MI CB Terry Richardson) a couple weeks ago, Cass Tech LB Royce Jenkins-Stone is the subject of the most recent recruiting column by Sam Webb in The Detroit News. The moneyshot:
Though he covets an offer from the Wolverines, Jenkins-Stone warns against expecting him to make a quick decision on a scholarship. "I would wait (to commit)," he said. "I would probably sign with them later on when I get the papers on signing day after my senior year of football. That is my No. 1 school. I just want to see what else is out there before I commit."
He goes on to say that he's not a lock to eventually go to Michigan... but that's about as close as it gets, right? Scout's Allen Trieu breaks down his game:
"He has good speed, a nice frame, and is comfortable dropping into coverage as well as coming forward. Most of all, I think he really likes contact, he's a strong kid, and a sure tackler. I'd like to see him keep filling out a little more. I think you'd like to see him at 225-235 pounds before he gets to college. He can play in the middle or outside. He's versatile enough to do both."
Since he's buddies with Richardson and MI LB James Ross from Orchard Lake St. Mary's, the three of them could be a great nucleus to an excellent defensive recruiting class in 2012.
MI DE Evan Winston is drawing interest from Michigan, among other Big Ten schools.
A little bit of local fluff on OH S Bam Bradley and his older brothers. Most interesting is that one of the top Ohio prospects in the class of 2012 hasn't heard from the Buckeyes.
Outdoor History and The Big Chill
Players have probably never played in serious games outdoors. Red grew up playing 90% of his games on outdoor rinks. They'd have to deal with the elements, shovel the rink, etc. "It was a great way to grow up." The players have probably played only one game (last year @ Wisconsin) outdoors.
Red played in Oslo in 1959 for the Canadian team. Outdoor stadium, about 20k people. Helsinki and Stockholm after. They didn't have indoor rinks, they'd always play outside. Great venues. as a 19-year old, he played some. "Now we get a chance to play some of the biggest games in my recent tenure."
The Michigan team had concerns about playing outside 10 years ago at Spartan Stadium. There was rain during their scheduled ice time the night before, so they skated inside instead. Skated morning of the game instead, and conditions were perfect. They had a big freshman class with Nystrom, Gajic, et al. Camalleri was hurt that week and wasn't supposed to play, but he insisted on it and was the team's MVP of that game.
After the Cold War, were they thinking about playing at Michigan Stadium? "We talked about whether that could happen here." after playing at MSU outside. Red definitely supported if the AD wanted to go for an outdoor game. That decision was just made in the last couple years "it wasn't like that question was lingering."
Finalized in January, Seamless work by the AD. "When you think about all the things that go into this... it's a lot of commitment." Outdoor games in football stadiums are positive. The NHL doing outside games has helped the process go smoother and smoother with more practice. "These are great events."
"I've pretty much stayed out of the ice quality business." Red only worries about the water that goes in - the guys dealing with the rink are pros. There are 75-100 different inuit words for quality of ice. "I just skate on it, so I'm not worried about it." This is "outdoor-indoor" ice. Playing on an indoor rink with pumped water and artificial freezing, but doing it outside.
"I was so impressed with the whole Michigan family" in selling out such a big stadium. People are coming in from all over "but the Michigan people are the ones that snapped up the tickets." MSU sent tickets back because they didn't sell them, it should be 90-95% Michigan fans. Tickets were bought in summer: "People were excited about an outdoor hockey game in July," and that's special.
"We've been waiting for this and looking forward to it, and now we can say it's our next game, so we don't have to try and keep it off in the distance and worry about current games." Can't pretend it's not going to happen if you're worried about focus. Doesn't think it's been a problem.
The thrill of playing outside will be out of the way quickly, guys will have to just adjust to wind conditions, it'll be cold, there are tons of fans. All that can be a factor. The crowd: "I don't think they'll overreact to it, but they'll feel it." There's no motivation issues playing in front of 100k. "It'll be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the guys that are playing." Hoping to give the fans something to cheer about.
The players will skate outside on their own today, they'll practice outside Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri. Part of that is getting used to the Olympic-sized ice.
"The college sports spirit" is what made this event so big. It's a tribute to college hockey that this is a big deal. "We'll see down the road" if this big event can boost the profile of college hockey.
Goalie situation: "We'll definitely sit down this week, we'll look at the wins and losses and where they played and how they played, and experience and so on and so forth" and play one goalie, unless they get an opportunity with a big lead. "You'd do that more in an exhibition game. This is not an exhibition game." It was the same story at Wisconsin last year: they played to win the game. "We can't take it lightly and we won't."
An annual post informing/figuring out what's going on with the hockey team when football season ends.
Last year: On the one hand, Michigan tore through the final ten games of its schedule en route to its 20th straight NCAA tourney bid. They swept Michigan State at Munn in the ultimate karmic retribution, beat Miami at the Joe, beat Northern to clinch their tourney bid, and were one erroneous whistle away from a thrilling overtime win against Miami in the rematch and a Frozen Four bid.
On the other, Michigan needed every game of their CCHA tourney run to go their way or they would have been left out of the tourney entirely. After struggling to a .500 record more than halfway through the season, an uninspired group of Carl Hagelin and a bunch of guys who weren't very good seemed like obviously the worst Michigan team assembled since Red got his machine going back in the late eighties.
The question going into 2010: which was it, then?
Neither Great Nor Terrible
Eighteen games in, that's the answer. Michigan's part of what looks like it will be a three-way race for the league title with Miami and Notre Dame. Michigan is two points behind the Redhawks but has two games in hand; they are behind Notre Dame by virtue of a single shootout point. They've split with ND already and have played two of the three teams hovering around .500 in the league, so the schedule has been somewhere between representative and tough.
The nonconference has not been as kind. Michigan's 1-2-3 with ties against Mercyhurst, UNH, and Wisconsin, a loss to Minnesota, and a split against Nebraska-Omaha. That's a very difficult schedule—UNH is #3, UNO #10 while Wisconsin and Minnesota are middling WCHA teams—but nonconference losses are Pairwise anchors. Michigan's probably given away any shot at a #1 seed unless they rip through the second half schedule.
This is miles better than last year, when Michigan finished seventh(!) in the league and was .500 at the holiday break. If Michigan can take care of business against a 3-7-1 Michigan State team that's just as bad as it should be after losing all but a couple players with a hint of talent, they'll go into this break 10-5-4 with a solid head start at landing an at-large NCAA bid.
So why does this feel just like last year?
It's kind of just like last year. Carl Hagelin lacks the raw net-ripping scoring to carry the team offensively but is awesome in all phases and is the only Michigan player to be noticeable on almost every shift. Louie Caporusso is frustrating but somehow is tied for the team lead in points. A totally obscure senior forward has made himself a critical contributor (Lebler last year, Vaughn this year). Large stretches of every game are boring, defensive hockey not because that's how Michigan is trying to play but because there's no one on the team who can create chances for himself or his teammates. The power play: guh. Michigan's scoring margin this year is 13th nationally, right about where they finished last season.
The main differences:
- They are not maniacal hackers any more. Michigan is traditionally amongst the national leaders in penalty minutes. Last year they were 15th. This year they're 22nd. Since a large chunk of those are coincidentals, I took a look at PP/G given up. Michigan is 33rd—essentially average. That's a big improvement. Michigan went 115 minutes against Notre Dame without going on the penalty kill.
- The goaltending is average and could be better. Bryan Hogan was puttering around at .901 when the season ended and spent most of the year looking up at .900. This year he's splitting time with Hunwick, who is puttering along at .903 while Hogan is at .923. Put them together and Michigan's overall save percentage is slightly above average this year; last year it was ridiculously bad. Hogan's 19th nationally in SV% and is 7-2. Hunwick' 2-3-4 and just gave up a horrendous goal* to Ohio State that eventually proved to be the difference in a 3-2 OT loss—it may be time to give the job to Hogan full-time.
- They don't have a defenseman who is killing the team. I've been rough on Llewellyn for the duration of his career so credit where it's due: he has been a steady presence on the backline to the point where I'd rather have him out there than Lee Moffie or a couple other offensive defensemen. I think he's had one penalty this year that I was like "aaaaargh" about, which is on par with the rest of the team. He's made a step forward. So has Pateryn, who I think should be seriously considered for a first-line shutdown role.
The things that are the same:
- There is no grade A scorer. This is the point at which Louie Caporusso says "oh really" and starts sniping goals left and right but at this instant I'm down on his ability to do much other than shoot, which he doesn't do enough. Hagelin's outstanding but needs a pure scorer on his wing; he's got Rust and Lynch, who are not anywhere close.
- The depth is weak. Michigan's picking between Scooter Vaughn and Luke Glendening when they're figuring out the second line. No offense to those guys but that's two guys who would have a third line ceiling on a truly good Michigan team. Meanwhile, Chris Brown has two goals and AJ Treais—the designated tiny stick ninja and the U18 team's leading scorer—three, one of them a pinball gift.
- There probably isn't a true shut-down defenseman. Michigan's top pairing has been Chad Langlais and Jon Merrill, and while both have been good neither is a physical presence like a Mitera or Komisarek. Pateryn might be, but those guys were first round picks and he was a 5th or 6th who's still developing.
This is a frustrating team. They'll play two games that are exactly the same over the course of the weekend. They will lose one. They will win one. Most of the time the outcome of either game seems heavily dependent on luck. See last weekend against Ohio State or the Notre Dame split. Last weekend Michigan dominated a bad team territorially and in shots and got a split because they hardly had any scoring chances and Hunwick let in a soft goal. Against Notre Dame they played a fairly even game but eventually ended up on the short end in shots and chances. They won on Saturday because three pucks wandered into the net of their own volition and Chad Langlais was the only person on the ice who realized Chad Langlais had the puck.
Unlike last year's team, they're not undisciplined enough or poor enough in goal to lose many games against the dregs of the CCHA. The Ohio State loss was the first one that could truly be considered bad; all games against the bottom rungs of the league have alternated periods of Michigan dominance with (long, so very long) periods of aimless whatever in which neither team really does anything. That adds up to a 5-1 record against teams that aren't legitimately good, and that coupled with Michigan's ability to tread water against the elite should see them finish second or third in the league—it appears Miami is again the class of the league and should prove that over the course of the year—and get a two or three seed in the tournament, where they'll have to get lucky to advance.
It's not all bad, but it's not what the thrilling run at the end of last year promised. I guess that was too good to last—you can only live on adrenaline so long before it loses its effect.
*(The first one, not the one with under ten seconds.)
This past weekend was host to a few important official visitors, and this weekend will see even more prospects coming in for the Big Chill hockey game. A slightly different format:
Visitors from this Past Weekend (12/3)
There were no commitments from Maryland DB Blake Countess or Florida S Wayne Lyons. I spoke briefly with Lyons, and have a full interview scheduled for later today. He had this to say so far:
"It was a good trip. The academic side of it was good, and I know my mom liked that too."
Rumors had Michigan potentially leading for Countess, and this visit was a big one since it was his first official. Blake was tweeting the whole weekend; here's a few of them:
- goblue !!!!!!!!!!
- Michigan was great. i could def. see myself there!
- I was with Josh Furman, Denard and Devin Gardner..and the other players that were there on officials.Delonte, wayne and G.Brown
His coaches aren't easy to get ahold of, so I'm still working on getting more from him. Lyons is expected to make his decision at the Army game, and will take a trip to Nebraska next.
Official Visitors for the Big Chill
This weekend is not only host to the Big Chill and fireworks, but a plethora of official visitors. Here's the list I have compiled so far. As always this list will be posted permanently in the diary section to add and remove recruits.
- LB Desmond Morgan - This could be the last visit before Morgan makes his decision. I wouldn't be surprised if he announces his choice shortly after.
- DE Anthony Zettel - This is Zettel's last official visit. He's already been to MSU, Penn State, and Iowa.
- OL Chris Bryant - This probably won't be the last visit for Chris. He's been wavering on when he wants to make his decision. He might wait until signing day, or he might just pull the trigger. Michigan is in a favorable position either way.
I'll continue to add to this as I confirm more names.
On to specific recruits:
6'3", 210 lbs.
Matthews, North Carolina
Frost is down to Auburn and Michigan, and has been for some time now. He still plans on enrolling early, and will be announcing his choice at the Army All American game in January. I'm in constant contact with Kris, and I believe that Michigan is in good position right now… as long as Rodriguez is retained. If Michigan were to make a change, then there might be some trouble. I don't believe that a defensive coaching change would make too much of a difference with Kris. The coaches have been on him, and are continuing to show him that they want him, as well:
Coach Rod will actually be out to my house on Thursday. They've just really been telling me how I fit in there, and how much I'm wanted. I don't think I'm going to be able to make it back up there for another visit, but that shouldn't matter too much anyway.
If you remember, Kris was going to try to come back up for another unofficial visit. That won't be happening, but it's not a big deal.
6'1", 189 lbs.
If you read my post yesterday you already know that Devin has scheduled his official visit out to Michigan for January 7th. Since Michigan has offered they have shot up Devin's list, and this visit could potentially vault the Wolverines into the top spot.
I love the overall tradition at Michigan. The tradition they have reminds me a lot of what we have at Crespi (High School). The brotherhood that the players have is amazing. I love the fans, and the whole community of Ann Arbor. I can't wait to visit.
A lot of people have wondered what recruits are thinking as far as the coaching situation with regards to Michigan. Devin felt comfortable enough to share how he was thinking.
I like Michigan for Michigan, so it doesn't really matter to me. I think it matters more to my parents just because they want me to be somewhere stable. Coach Dews has talked to both my parents and they both like him a lot. He's actually coming out this week on Thursday.
This is just one point of view but Devin is more interested in the program, and since he could probably play in most systems anyway, it won't matter much. The timing of this visit could help Michigan too, since Lucien is planning on making his decision on signing day, which is only 3 or 4 weeks from when he'll be on campus.
Other items [from the editor]
- The Orlando Sentinel caught up with FL RB Dee Hart, who says he will remain committed to Michigan if Rodriguez is retained. If he isn't, he's going to Florida to play in the spread.
- MI WR Shawn Conway will not qualify and is headed to a JUCO. He says he would like to return to the fold after his time there is finished but it is extremely rare for Michigan to take a JUCO kid who did not qualify out of high school. Austin Panter, the last JUCO at Michigan, was a qualifier who played seven on seven and went to JUCO for exposure, and the last one before that was Russell Shaw. Michigan's coaches have clearly known about this for a while given the offer to Lucien and late push for Arnett.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Hart rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns, bringing him to 48 on the season -- one shy of the state record held by Glades Day's Kelvin Taylor.
His night could have been even better, but the Panthers' performance was sloppy:
The Panthers were penalized 180 yards. Hart had two TDs and 74 yards on runs and receptions nullified by holding calls. He also lost two fumbles.
"They gave us all we could handle," Hart said. "We had a lot of mistakes. We're going to clean those up next week."
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
|West Orange||W 49-6||11||121||4||11.00||4||24||0||6.00||2||69||1||34.50|
|Oak Ridge||W 45-0||18||129||4||7.17||2||71||1||35.50||2||86||1||43.00|
|Seminole Ridge||W 38-28||21||218||2||10.38||2||40||0||20.00||3||66||0||22.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips travels to Sanford Seminole for the State Semifinals.
FL OL Tony Posada
Last week: Pregame fluff, with a crazy tidbit of info:
Lost in all the preseason hype surrounding the nation’s No. 1 team was the ugly truth that Plant only returned three starters on offense: Ely, DE/RB James Wilder Jr. and OL Tony Posada.
Ely is headed to Alabama and Wilder to Florida State, but making it this far with a mostly-new offense is crazy at the high school level. Plant defeated Countryside 21-13 in Round 3 of the State Playoffs.
This week: Plant will face Lakeland in the State semifinals on Friday.
FL CB Dallas Crawford
Crawford finished with 219 passing yards and three touchdowns. Watkins had three receptions for 110 yards and two scores. The Division I duo (Crawford is headed to Michigan to play defensive back) have connected for five touchdowns the past two weeks.
The majority of the article focuses on a fake punt pass for touchdown from Crawford to Watkins:
Crawford said he knew Watkins was gone as soon as he reversed direction around the 50-yard line. By the time the speedy receiver had gotten to the 5, three Southeast defenders had cornered him near the sideline. Watkins stopped dead in his tracks, though, and shot to the right, waltzing pass every Seminole and into the end zone.
“If you put (Watkins) one-on-one with anybody in the country, he's gone,” Crawford said. “He's electrifying. The best high school football player in the country, in my opinion.”
For 1st-3rd quarter highlights, click through to the article. Dallas finished 12/17 passing for 219 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He ran 8 times for 2 yards. Another article says that includes 4 sacks for 34 yards.
|Dallas Crawford 2010|
|Cypress Lake||W 39-0||9||10||90.00||118||11.80||1||0||6||24||4.00||2||0||0|
|Bishop Verot||W 35-3||18||23||78.26||299||13.00||4||0||9||12||1.33||1||0||0|
|Gulf Coast||W 49-7||12||16||75.00||277||17.31||3||1||11||34||3.09||1||0||0|
|North Fort Myers||W 34-0||7||13||53.85||88||6.77||2||0||5||38||7.60||0||2||1|
|Fort Myers||W 43-10||10||13||76.92||144||11.08||1||0||12||38||3.17||2||0||0|
|Barron Collier||W 33-2||11||14||78.57||163||11.64||1||0||7||-21||-3.00||0||0||0|
|Bradenton Southeast||W 28-21||12||17||70.59||219||12.88||3||1||8||2||0.25||0||0||0|
This week: South Fort Myers travels to Miami-Norland Friday at 7:30 in the State Semifinals.
MI RB/Slot Justice Hayes
Hayes missed most of his senior season with a broken wrist. Grand Blanc finished 7-4 and lost in the second round of the State Playoffs to Lake Orion.
MI WR Shawn Conway
Seaholm's season is over, with a 4-5 record. Conway finished the year with about 22 catches for 375 yards, and11 kick/punt returns for 393 yards.
MI OL Jake Fisher
Traverse City West's season is over, with a 6-4 record and a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs. Fisher was 1st-Team All-District as a defensive end. Postseason fluff. Jake was named All-Divisions First-Team All-State (Dream Team).
OH OL Jack Miller
St. John's finished the season 11-2 with both losses to Toledo Whitmer (in the second in Round 3 of the State Playoffs). Miller was also named 1st-Team All-District, and the District Lineman of the Year. Also 1st-Team All-State.
OH DE Chris Rock
DeSales's season ended at 5-6 with a loss in the first round of the State Playoffs.
MI DE/LB Brennen Beyer
TX LB Kellen Jones
St. Pius X's season finished with a 10-3 record and a loss in the second round of the TAPPS playoffs. Jones finished with 110 tackles, 25 for loss, and 7 sacks, to go along with 3 fumbles forced, 2 recovered, and a punt block.
OH CB/S Greg Brown
MI CB Delonte Hollowell
Cass Tech finished the season 12-1 with a loss in the State Semifinals. Named captain of the All-Detroit first team.