The NCAA repealed a longstanding prohibition on multi-year scholarships a couple years back. Uptake has been surprisingly slow, as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details:
…nearly two years after that legislation, multiyear scholarships are rare, not publicized by universities and largely unknown by the athletes. According to data of 82 universities at the Division I-A level obtained by the Post-Gazette through open records requests, only 16 have offered more than 10 multiyear scholarships. Thirty-two of the universities have offered between one and 10, and thirty-four have not offered any.
Ryan Squire, the associate athletics director for compliance at Illinois, remembers that when the legislation was passed in 2011 many schools "were all calling around saying, 'What are you going to do, what are you going to do?' And they said, 'We're kind of going to hope other schools aren't doing it.'"
Ryan Squire can get away with saying that because Illinois is an exception to the rule, giving a "majority" of its athletes four-year deals. Fresno State has gone all-in. Michigan State has gone four-year-exclusive in football. Most everyone else has tried to avoid the topic altogether.
This is an issue that shouldn't exist at all anymore. Schools should no longer have a total limit of scholarship athletes in any sport, but rather yearly caps that encourage retention instead of summary execution. In an environment where every stakeholder with an ounce of power is busy holding down costs that aren't administrator salaries, that's never going to happen.
There is a point in time during which the students have the power: when they're being recruited. If Jabrill Peppers wants a four-year deal at Michigan, or anywhere else, Michigan will trip over itself to get him the proper paperwork. If a marginal recruit isn't offered one, he knows the deal. The common theme in these stories, however, is that players—and I imagine by extension their parents—are at best vaguely aware of the terms of their scholarship:
"The multiyear, the first one, I think," said Boyd, a Clairton High School student who signed with the Panthers in February.
He thought about it for a moment longer. He then asked his coach, Tom Nola. Boyd reconsidered. In fact, he thought, his scholarship lasted for only one year with a renewal option.
"I've never had a parent bring it up to me and I'm around a lot of people," says Montour High School football coach Lou Cerro. "I'm not sure why the NCAA and the coaches are keeping this a secret. It doesn't make any sense."
"I'm not sure," tight end Brent Wilkerson said. "I hope I'm on scholarship for four years."
Penn State safety Malcolm Willis said he was on a renewable scholarship and preferred it this way, saying, "you have to earn your scholarship."
“The bigger failure is not that the school isn’t adopting” multiyear aid, John Infante, a former compliance officer at Colorado State University, told us, “but that we’re not seeing this market develop where kids know there is the potential for multiyear scholarships and negotiating for that.”
So what to do?
Well, isn't this somewhat on recruiting reporters? Recruiting reporters are the number one avenue that recruits have to express themselves in the media; I'd guess the ratio of reporter contact to coach contact most recruits have is 10:1. Coaches are obviously loathe to mention the possibility of multi-year aid; reporters shouldn't be.
But I have literally never seen an article in which the reporter asked whether Recruit X is seeking a multiyear scholarship and which schools are amenable to that request. Not only is that information interesting, but by asking the kids you get the kids to ask the schools and hopefully chip away at the gap between the rules and recruits' knowledge of them. This goes triple for anyone covering Michigan State or Illinois or Fresno State (if recruiting reporters covering Fresno State exist), schools that will look on that sort of question as beneficial to their interests.
Ask the kids about which schools are offering them four-year rides, and the mystery of slow uptake will resolve itself either way.
Michigan's annual College Practice Camp is this weekend, and is followed shortly by Michigan Offers Juniors Day—the first day coaches are allowed to officially offer scholarships. John Beilein is the only guy in the world who follows this guideline; in doing so he's created a mid-summer event in the deadest portion of the Michigan sports calendar year. For this, John Beilein, we salute you.
Now is a good time to get an overview of what's going on.
Roster And Needs
Assuming Robinson and McGary enter the NBA draft, this is what the roster will look like next fall:
PG: Derrick Walton (So.), Spike Albrecht (Jr.)
SG: Nik Stauskas (Jr.)
SF: Zak Irvin (So.), Caris LeVert (Jr.)
PF: Mark Donnal (So.), Max Bielfeldt (Jr.)
C: John Horford (Sr.), Ricky Doyle (Fr.)
Michigan needs a shooting guard and would like someone to compete with Donnal and Bielfeldt at the four. The other two slots are flexible depending on talent. It is unlikely Michigan uses one on a point guard—they are heavily after a bunch of PGs, but all in the class of 2015—and I would guess Michigan banks one so that 2015 class in which the run to the title game is truly paying off will start from a baseline of two slots.
Shooting guard candidates
Everyone all together now: Devin Booker is the leading candidate. From Missouri, mom lives in Saginaw, blew up at Michigan's camp two summers ago to put himself on the radar, may show up again since he's in Michigan for the summer anyway. Booker now has offers from Every Damn Body U, and though a couple of the truly elite schools have taken kids at his position Michigan State and Kentucky are formidable opposition. Still, Michigan seems to lead.
Michigan is also after Indiana SF Trevon Bluiett, who holds an offer and is being hotly pursued by Indiana, Butler, and plenty of others. Bluiett is having an outstanding AAU season. Michigan was thought to be trailing Butler as of a month or two ago, but Bluiett appears to be in no hurry to make a decision.
Power forward candidates
Michigan trails Duke and others for Wisconsin stretch four Kevon Looney, a top ten player who would be a crazy good fit for Beilein's system. Unfortunately, Duke can point to Ryan Kelly and say "you are also a crazy good fit for our system." Acquiring a visit from him is required before anything serious goes down. Looney did just call Michigan a "great school" in an interview with 247:
"Actually Michigan's been there from the beginning, since my freshman year," he said. "I've been talking to (John) Beilein, coach (LaVall Jordan) ... they're a great school.
"They were in the championship (game) this year. They're a great school."
Looney plans on taking his five officials. Michigan should make the cut.
OH combo forward Vincent Edwards is down to Purdue and Michigan and is waiting around to see which one of them showers him in more rose petals. He's more of a defense-and-rebounding guy than a shooter, but he's good enough at that bit to be around the top 50 most places.
Michigan is emerging on the lists of a number of highly-touted players. The hottest name at the moment is CA SF Kameron Chatman, who's coming up for the camp. Dave Telep says Michigan is a "big player" with Chatman and praises his overall game:
One of my favorite guys on the circuit is small forward Kameron Chatman. There’s something about this kid. Few have his overall feel for the game.
“I hate losing; just mean being an unselfish player with a high IQ,” Chatman said. “I want to do whatever it takes to win. [Whether] that’s scoring or rebounding or getting my teammates going.” When you hear these words, often times they are hollow, but not with this young man. He plays exactly how he speaks.
Beilein guy yo.
Chatman will take an unofficial visit and get an offer this weekend, and while he's not expected to commit flying across the country is a sign of serious interest. Chatman's a consensus top 50 recruit with a loose top three of Michigan, Oregon, and Washington. Distance isn't much of a factor for a kid from Long Beach, then, and neither Washington or Oregon is a Duke-level threat. USC and Arizona are also involved.
Only Horford graduates, though given the way Michigan has been developing point guards Derrick Walton may be the top pick in the draft by then; Zak Irvin is also a threat to leave early. It's tough to project specific positional needs this far out but no matter what Michigan will be looking for at least a big and a point guard.
Offer day is just two weeks away. We'll get a better view then of who the main targets are, but Beilein has a second requirement to get that offer: a visit. Some of the guys on the list haven't made it to campus and thus won't be officially offered.
IN PG/SG Jalen Coleman. Camping, has offers from Indiana and Purdue already, is probably a shooting guard right now, top 50 player:
“North Carolina State and Texas have also been in contact,” Coleman said. “A lot of schools. But also the ones like Michigan State, IU and Purdue have been coming in and staying in contact. Michigan and Michigan State have said they are looking forward to having me up there as soon as possible and doing something, which could be an offer.”
Coleman may not get a June 15th offer as he is probably not a point guard and Michigan may want to see where there roster stands before offering SGs.
IL PG Hyron Edwards.
Also camping, in possession of Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois offers, Edwards is going to play somewhere in the Big Ten. He told IU site Inside The Hall that he's pumped about potentially getting that M offer:
The Illini and Boilermakers have offered and the Wolverines, who won’t offer class of 2015 prospects until June 15, seem to be heading in that direction. He said he hopes to work in an unofficial visit to Bloomington when in town for the adidas May Classic and will be in Ann Arbor on June 1 for Michigan’s elite camp.
“(Assistant) coach (LaVall) Jordan has been talking to me about it,” he said of a potential scholarship offer from Michigan. “If I do get the offer, that would be pretty great.”
CA PG Sedrick Barefield. Barefield has widely varying rankings, from unranked three star to top fifty kid. UConn, KState, Arizona, and Cal are also involved. He needs to get up for a visit before an offer.
FL PG Corey Sanders. Sanders told UMHoops he gets compared to Trey Burke and has a positive relationship with Michigan's coaching staff:
“I love Michigan’s coaching staff. They’re nice, they work with me,” Sanders said. “When we talk, it’s usually like business, how everything will work out, the school, the system, all the players who were there before me — especially with the point guard position how Trey Burke was there. Looking at his game compared to mine and things like that.”
Sanders is less hyped than just about everyone on this list, currently an unranked three star most places.
FL SF Dwayne Bacon. A top 20 kid in the 2015 class, Bacon can't make this weekend's camp but has scheduled an official visit($) for the Central Michigan game. He's a teammate of Sanders and they are talking about being the proverbial package deal.
OH SF Luke Kennard. Kennard, a sweet shooting wing with a wonky Shurna-style release, has been on Michigan's radar longer than anyone else in the 2015 class and has seemed like a good bet to commit at points. These days Ohio State folks are feeling about as confident as the Michigan ones are. Kennard has already been on campus multiple times($) and is almost certain to get a June 15 offer. He plans summer trips($) to Michigan and Ohio State.
TX C Elijah Thomas. Just profiled by Sam Webb in the News, Thomas is an early five star who claims he's "always been a Michigan fan"—we are finally reaching the point where high school kids only remember the Beilein era, self high five—and jokes about his close relationship with LaVall Jordan:
"The relationship is really good," Thomas said. "I call him all the time. I don't call him too much because he has a family (laughter), but I call him every now and then. We talk academics, we talk basketball -- we just talk about why I want to be great and everything else."
OSU, Indiana, and Illinois have already offered and he says distance won't matter; he wants to visit M, Duke, and Kentucky.
WI C Diamond Stone. Stone was on campus for the Michigan State game last fall and as a top ten player in the 2015 class will get offered with prejudice on the 15th. His dad is from Flint, which helps. Everyone on earth will get involved shortly, however. He told the Baltimore Sun that Maryland's entry into the Big Ten is an asset, which says something since they're leaving the ACC.
NV C Stephen Zimmerman.
The third five-star center Michigan's involved with in the 2015 class, Zimmerman told Scout that he planned a trip out to Ann Arbor($) sometime this summer:
Based on Zimmerman’s range of ability, Michigan is one of the schools in consistent contact, spotted courtside over the weekend. Wolverine assistant lavall jordan has continued to build on his strong bond with Zimmerman over the past year, connecting on the phone as recently as Monday evening.
“It was great,” said Zimmerman. “He’s a really great person. I like talking to the people from Michigan. They’re like me. It seems like a great program and they want me to go on an unofficial down there sometime this summer. And I think we’re going to.”
Once that visit happens Zimmerman will become a serious target. The planet is after Zimmerman as well, but Zimmerman's mom dropped a Michigan reference unprompted($) when talking to Duke's scout site:
Post touches is a thing that many people like to talk about when evaluating programs, do you feel like there are programs that have set themselves apart in how they utilize their bigs and post touches they give?
Why are three five-star centers talking up Michigan? Mitch McGary's tournament explosion. I like Mitch McGary.
Site note: I mean, I was gonna do a Dear Diary today, but then the first item became this thing…
As you may have heard, Dr. Hamlet III has committed to the Michigan offensive line. Uninformative portion follows:
|Global Pork||247 Comp.|
|3*, 5.7, #29 C,
|5*, #1 pork belly,
|5*, #1 PB
|4*, 96, #6 PB,
|3*, #84 OL,
Those who ranked him as an offensive lineman are all "wait 'n see." Of those who classify him as a pig, only the National Pork Producers Council among the major sites lists Hamlet as anything but ELITE ELITE ELITE. He'll have a chance to change that in a couple weeks at their annual World Pork Expo.
It's worth mentioning that Global Pork lists every hog in its Top 25 as a 5-star, but will extend that to the Top 50 by the time it releases its final herd report.
Let's start with the negative stuff shall we? Simmons:
STRENGTHS Pad Level Hoofwork Toughness Drive Blocking Skills
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT Hip Flexibility Bipedalism Arm length OUTSIDE! DO THAT OUTSIDE!!!
Total hog! If there is any type of weakness in Hamlet's game at this time, it would be in his pass protection. He is solid there, but his biggest strength is run blocking right now. He drives opponents off the ball, he is excellent on the hoof, and he has that nasty streak you love in offensive linemen. Arm length and lateral quickness will limit his effectiveness. - Chad Simmons
This is echoed by Rivals' Mike Farrell($):
Powerful blocker who can get low and beat you off the hoof. Eats just about anything. Didn't use his hands much in drills, probably because he doesn't need to. Thrilled onlookers with a pitch perfect rendition of soliloquy.
Plays so low to the ground it's impossible for defensive linemen to get any leverage on him. Definite inside prospect since he doesn't possess the height to play tackle. High intelligence and build suggest a possible move to center. Not having hands will make snapping the ball a constant adventure, though.
As David Moosman showed Michigan can get by with a behooved ungulate at center, though it's hardly optimal. Anyway you see the theme across the services: Hamlet plays with excellent leverage, but is about 6 million years behind the rest of the OL in bipedalism experience and proper hand technique. Funk is going to have to start from scratch there.
Though an MSU graduate, according to his interview with 247's Steve Lorenz, Hamlet remains intensely loyal to Michigan ($):
HAMLET: "I'm still true blue through and through! You could even say I was weaned on maize and blue. Because I literally was weaned on a mix of feed corn and Blue Seal swine pellets." Hamlet told 247.
Lorenz also asked about his expectations and, well, he's probably not gonna be a playing time transfer:
247: How do you see your Michigan career playing out?
HAMLET: Oh, that's not up to me to decide. I'm going to go out there and compete, but my number one goal is to help the team any way I can. I'm here to get a Michigan degree, and to do whatever I can to help Michigan win football games, pure and simple. We've got an excellent, excellent group of linemen coming in and some of the best all time on hand right now, so I know it's gonna be tough to earn snaps. I embrace the challenge, and I think it will make us all better the more guys we have competing—if I bust my piggly tail for four years and that just makes another guy try harder to keep his job, then that's what I came for.
Humble, this guy. As you've come to expect from like every recruit in the Brady Hoke era ever, he's a wild animal on the field yet the kind of person you want in your home:
Everyone I talk to says he's just a fantastic guy. Really wants to learn, does neat tricks.
Hoke recruits, man.
DOCTOR OF WHAT?
Despite being less than 3 years old, Hamlet already has a Ph.D./MD from the Van Andel Educational Institute, through Michigan State. He explains how he came by that doctorate:
"Coming out of high school Michigan was obviously my first choice, but State was really the only college accepting applications from farm animals. I was planning on getting my bachelor's degree in Agricultural Resource Economics but a professor there turned me on to Gastroenterology and it was love at first endoscopy.
"After one digestive performance they said I was a natural and put me in the doctoral program and I graduated in a few months. It was pretty easy, to be honest. "
Because he technically graduated from high school just a year ago, Hamlet still has all four years of eligibility remaining.
Dr. Hamlet III is a Vietnamese, better known as a "pot-bellied pig." As such he has the distinctive tall forehead, high ears and straight tail. He also appears to have the breed's distinctive swayed back (and corresponding pot belly that gives the species its name). His bloodlines suggest he can put on a LOT of weight, and his food intake will need to be closely monitored.
The sites agree that he's between 3'2" and 3'3", and between 90-100 lbs. That's about normal for his breed at this stage in life. He should be able to hang a good 20-30 more pounds on that frame.
MSU, Nebraska, Iowa State, and Thorn Apple Valley. Reported interest from Wisconsin but committed before an offer materialized. Pork bellies have been steady at record highs since 2011.
Pigs and offensive linemen don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a non-food-aided 40 time of 32.25 seconds, but he was reportedly clocked at 28.22 seconds when a can of creamed corn was placed at the finish line. Since I just completely made that up just now it receives five FAKES out of five.
A Vine of Hamlet eating out of Kyle Kalis's belly button has been taken down, but this screenshot still remains:
Also: Junior highlights.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Obvious redshirt as he gains weight, adjusts to real college life from the farm/East Lansing, and gains instruction on bipedal locomotion. From there, who knows. May never develop more than an okay pass protection game, or opposable thumbs. High character, non-academic risk, seems 100% committed to Michigan, so not going to hurt the APR even if he doesn't work out. Best guess is four-year Academic All-American who'll provide much-needed depth at center, with an outside shot at starting his senior year. Otherwise he'll be an important member of the position group and an expert on blocking assignments. Every team needs a third-generation doctoral pig center.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
(Mathlete goes into greater detail). Dr. Hamlet III turned down purely academic scholarships in order to walk on the Michigan team, so he won't count against the 85 limit (his life expectancy is several years shorter than the length of his FAFSA loan). Adding a hyperintelligent pig makes the entire position group more awesome. Michigan players have been warned not to leave any impermissible benefits out where he can get into them.
ETC. Children of Yost wonder if he can skate too.
|Trotwood, OH – 6'3", 230|
|Scout||4*, #24 OLB|
|Rivals||4*, #115 overall
#10 OLB, #5 OH
|ESPN||4*, #114 overall
#9 OLB, #6 OH
|24/7||4*, #194 overall
#6 ATH, #9 OH
|Other Suitors||OSU, PSU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Carolina|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. We have a "release the McCrayken" tag.|
|Notes||UA game. Trotwood Madison (Roundtree, Moore, Shaw). Urban is still on him hard. #63 to Lemming.|
Senior highights are on hudl.
Mike McCray's dad was a captain for Ohio State back in the day, and now he'll play for the other side of the rivalry. Anyone who remembers Anthony Gonzalez—a Michigan legacy who ended up at OSU, murdering Michigan—gives this development two thumbs up, especially when it comes with a side of "whoops" on Urban Meyer's part.
Meyer futzed around too long for the younger McCray's taste and Brady Hoke was after him hard for reasons of talent and middle fingers, so he dropped for M in March. Urban whiffed on some targets, came back hat (and offer) in hand a couple months later, and said pretty please. McCray didn't waver. But Urban is still on him hard.
Michigan has acquired a consensus four-star linebacker who is just outside the top 100 on three of the four sites, with Scout the primary, mild skeptic. McCray's main assets are size and smarts. At a strapping 230-ish as a high schooler, McCray should have no problem adding the ten or fifteen pounds he'll require to fend off tight ends and rush the passer as a strongside linebacker.
To go with that he's got great bloodlines and a ton of experience after playing nearly every snap on both sides of the ball for Trotwood the past three years, all of them at the positions he projects to (TE and LB) in college. Rivals had him in their top 50($) when he committed largely because he was one of the best players on the field in Trotwood's state title win:
At 6-4 and 220 pounds, McCray is one of the best playmaking defenders I have seen this year. He is always around the football, always playing at 100 miles per hour and never tiring despite going both ways. …his combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability should ensure a long career in football. … can add strength and definition to his body in the weight room this off-season, which should also improve what is already pretty good speed. If he takes another step forward with off-season preparation, McCray is going to be scary good a year from now.
He was not scary good, and moved down. He was just very good, which was not enough to offset an indifferent camp season in Rivals' eyes.
Overall, scouting reports are mixed, leaving two questions.
Question number one: how big is this dude? Heights and weights for high school recruits are haphazard and inaccurate, and McCray's are all over the place. For a guy who may or may not project to the SAM spot, it's a big deal if he's 6'4" (the maximum) or 6'1", which he apparently measured in at during the Rivals Five Star Challenge($):
McCray doesn't have the build of a player who is going to excel in a passing-oriented camp (especially one without pads), but he showed that he had the ability to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. He doesn't have the quickest feet among the linebackers at the Five-Star Challenge, but still manages to get the job done. He measured in at just 6-1 on Friday - much smaller than expected - but had a strong performance today.
Meanwhile here's McCray with an inch or two on Ben Gedeon, who may not be all of the 6'2" he's listed at but probably isn't 5'11", either.
Other places he's 6'2", sometimes 6'3", often 6'4". The average of all guesses is about 6'3", which I've listed above. For what it's worth, McCray told Scout Michigan was recruiting him at "inside linebacker," which I assume means either MLB or WLB. One glance at the depth chart and that picture with Gedeon suggests a change of plans as soon as fall camp rolls around, if that is in fact the plan right now.
Question two: how are his coverage skills? McCray is alternately praised and criticized for his ability to drop back. ESPN thinks he's the balls, saying he "has the versatility to play all three positions" in a traditional 4-3 and, well:
… tall, well-built with good, lean bulk and the frame to add more. Runs well on both sides of the ball and offers a lot of range. … very aware and smart football player which allows him to play fast. Makes lot of plays in coverage and in space. He may be more instinctive dropping back than coming forward, which is rare at this stage. He gets depth in his drop quickly, while reading the QB and feeling routes develop. He anticipates the pass, turns to run without much wasted motion and closes with good burst on the ball. Undercuts routes and has great ball skills. He shows the size and athleticism needed to match up on flexed tight ends in man-to-man. Will fill strong between the tackles as well. … He shows the lateral quicks and agility to clear traffic and make plays inside-out on the ball between the tackles, and the good range to make stops outside the hashes. Pursues with a motor. He's quick to fill downhill. … a great frame and matching athleticism and football smarts. He's ahead of the curve with his diagnosing skill and understanding of the game, which should allow for a smoother transition to the college level.
They want him to improve his explosiveness when he contacts ballcarriers and be more of an impact hitter; that's their only criticism.
Here it should be noted that ESPN's scouting is much more game-film heavy than most of the other sites, and McCray is a pads-on kind of guy. He attended The Opening but was sufficiently anonymous there that I could only find one minor comment about him:
Mike McCray II (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) is tall and looks great off the hoof, he's probably better suited between the tackles and going upfield.
On the other hand, McCray was the linebacker MVP for last year's Columbus NFTC because he could cover guys out of the backfield:
He was able to go stride-for-stride with all but the quickest tailbacks there, and showed the ability to not only blanket a receiver, but make plays on the ball as well. In edge-rush drills, he showed the ability to overpower running backs and tight ends, but also a quickness to go around them that's uncommon in a player his size.
On yet another hand, Rivals's Tim Sullivan wrote the above but also had a few articles in which he gave McCray a "meh" during the summer…
McCray had his share of won reps on Saturday, but also lost his share. He moved a little bit better than expected in drills, but also measured in at just 6-1. …
Stock report: Down
…and (on probably a foot or a table someone grafted onto my face) was considerably more impressed once the pads went on for that uber-high-school-football event in Cincinnati that keeps changing its name. McCray was ill enough to miss most of the first half, and yet:
…looks night-and-day more fluid wearing shoulder pads. He was solid in coverage (another question he didn't answer this summer), though he did miss a couple assignments. …
Where McCray really made his mark, however, was pressuring the quarterback. Though he's a bigger linebacker, he's capable of finding small creases in the offensive line to exploit on the blitz. He was constantly harassing University's quarterback, including a few knockdowns and stripping the quarterback of the ball on one occasion. If that skillset sounds familiar, it should: he has a very similar game to starting Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan at this time.
Helmholdt's take from the same event calls him "not flashy" but praises his "exceptional instincts," which doesn't sound like Jake Ryan even a little bit. 247 said he "looked explosive rushing the passer." You see what I am saying about the mixed reports.
Elsewhere in mixed reports, McCray had a strong performance($) in Trotwood's most recent state title win thanks to his range but needs to work on his ability to shed…
… nine tackles in the first half. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound McCray was making plays all over the field, showing his range and ability to diagnose plays. … one of the most instinctual linebackers in the country, and he simply gets the job done. He needs to bulk up his upper body, though, which will help him get better at shedding blockers.
…and also struggles to change direction and is awesome at shedding blockers:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Change of Direction
Physical size allows McCray to take on and defeat a block with the ability to step up and fill the hole. Struggles with hip turn and foot quickness, however, natural instincts put him in position to make plays.
So. McCray is large, has an advanced understanding of the game, needs to be little more violent, and may or may not have the kind of agility you'd like to see in someone who's going to try to cover guys downfield. Probably.
Finally, this is the section on recruiting profile where the kid's coach speaks rapturously about his character.
"He is not only one of the best kids we've ever had as a person, but he is the best athlete I've ever coached. He can play anywhere on the field you need him to play. You want the younger kids in your program to be like Mike McCray. He doesn't say a whole lot, but you know he's around, just by his presence."
"As a football player, he is a kid that will do whatever his coach asks him to do, and you love guys like that," he added. "…. He works his butt off, in the weight room, in the classroom, and on the football field. I love the kid like he's one of my own."
A pattern emerges.
“I honestly think that he’ll be a tremendous linebacker at the next level,” his coach said. “He’ll be a Will or Sam for somebody because he can run and change directions, and get in and out of the breaks like they want him to."
McCray was picked for the Under Armor game but underwent surgery for a torn labrum and missed the game. He should be full-go by fall camp. He in fact played with the injury his entire senior year because he would have missed that year if he'd had surgery. Toughness: check.
Why Victor Hobson? Hobson was a touted recruit who developed into a long-term starter at SAM despite being a 6'1" guy who put up a 4.86 at the NFL combine; said NFL still drafted him in the second round and kept him around for five years because:
Quick thinker who immediately reads or anticipates the action, scrapes well laterally and redirects to the action. Breaks down well playing with leverage, effectively uses his hands to stay off blocks and goes sideline to sideline working to make a play. Disciplined, reads the QB and gets depth on his pass drops. Stays on his feet and finds his way through the traffic to the ball carrier.
As an NFL prospect his physical skills were "deficient"; for Michigan he was just fine because he could play over the tight end.
McCray is bigger and may be a bit more athletic, or he might lack the kind of explosion the NFL craves, I don't know, man. As a guy who projects to play SAM by using his brain faster than everyone else, Hobson's a better pick than, say, lunatic Jake Ryan.
Guru Reliability: Uh… well, they're all in the same range, basically, and McCray was a high profile guy who went to a lot of camps on a heavily scouted team. So why the pants can't anyone agree on his strengths? I dunno. Purple. That's my answer.
Variance: Moderate. Size issue plus potential he's an awkward fit at ILB could leave him a man without a position. Some bust factor. On the other hand, mentally advanced.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. The vibe I get from the conflicting reports is that McCray is not going to be a sower of doom and chaos on the college level. Athleticism a slight issue.
General Excitement Level: Oh hell, I don't know. I feel torn between the idea that McCray will top out as a guy who is a blue collar SAM who doesn't make many plays—the Craig Roh of SAM—and people above saying he will be the McCrayken:
I'm going moderate. And purple.
Projection: Like Gedeon, could redshirt since he's got a solid, veteran two-deep in front of him even without the presence of Jake Ryan for the first half of the season. Also like Gedeon, could be dragooned into special teams. In this case that might be okay since Gordon is a senior and the coaches keep saying they will move Brennen Beyer back to WDE, leaving only a senior Ryan, McCray, and whatever freshman they bring in at the spot. You might want to blood that guy.
Long term, he's got two years to develop before he'll be in a battle for a starting job. When that battle comes around he'll have an experience edge. Two years as a starter seem likely.
Pork and Beef
This week, possibly in response to Mitch McGary’s fabulous work on Instagram, the football team pretty much decided to made the un-moving pictures their donkey. And per Brian’s instructions, we begin once again with Dr. Hamlet III:
And since I’ve been making an effort to be more informative and less snarky, this presents an opportunity to analyze the…
THINGS WE LEARNED:
- These linemen have a much more forgiving landlord than I had in Ann Arbor. They can have a pig. I couldn't have a fish.
- It's really easy to get into Michigan's Med School if you're a legacy, and even easier if you're a second-generation legacy.
- P1G, like the B1G, seems to have the most success with small bowls.
- If Lewan had ONE more season in Ann Arbor, I'm pretty sure we'd see this at some point next offseason:
Before that, though, several members of the offense took last week’s ManBearCrombie to the next level, and presented us with an overload of OMG Shirtless:
NOT PICTURED: weakness of any kind
THINGS WE LEARNED:
- Adidas apparently makes all of Michigan's workout apparel, too, and like the rest of the Adidas stuff it all fell apart and left the athletes shirtless. New shirts will probably be delivered by early December.
- Michigan's football team, despite their shoes, can receive no service. They can't figure out why.
- If you want, you can play tic-tac-toe on Taylor Lewan's shoulder (PROTIP: The only winning move is not to play).
- Sione Houma may or may not be Tongan Steve Breaston.
- Fitz Toussaint once killed a velociraptor.
- Michigan's offense is composed of very large men. And Jeremy Gallon.
Your parody account is bad and you should feel bad
Most of you have probably heard of a young man from Grand Rapids named Drake Harris. Mr. Harris said a while back that he would spend a few years at Michigan State playing kicky-throwy ball AND dribbly-shooty ball, but then he changed his mind about the dribbly-shooty part and decided to play his kicky-throwy ball at Michigan. This did not go over well in East Lansing, and elicited a pile of the usual Twitter crap. But that was six weeks ago, so the iron has cooled considerably.
But don’t tell that to the creator of what is almost certainly the worst parody account in the history of mimicry:
Yep, it’s an account dedicated to Drake Harris’s Ego, which Sparty* believes to be a thing. Setting aside the fact that this guy created an account mocking a kid, this is just a terrible account. First, I don’t think he knows what “ego” means. But more importantly, he failed to meet the first (and really the only) rule of parody accounts: they are supposed to be funny. I mean, objectively speaking, who is going to find that funny?
Oh, hey there one time Michigan State commit and current UCLA Bruin offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch. To summarize: a guy who decommitted from State loves that there is an account dedicated to the ego demonstrated by a guy who decommitted from State. I can’t even begin to unwrap the Spartyness of this tweet. It’s like a mobius strip of Spartyfreude; it just folds back into itself until you don’t know where you started but god this thing is nifty.
*And yes, this was the doing of Sparty. A confirmed State fan created the account, and then allegedly turned over control to someone else. I won’t out the creator, but mostly because I don’t feel like chasing down the details because I don’t much care.
Speaking of things about which you should feel bad
In related Drake Harris news, he continues to catch crap on Twitter for choosing a college, including a concerted effort from one guy in particular who doesn’t seem to understand the concept of “boundaries.” Harris finally called him on it:
Sure enough, I looked through Doug E. Fresh’s Tweets, and an uncomfortable percentage of them are to Drake Harris. Add in the alleged Facebook stalking, and we’ve got ourselves a Stage 5 Clinger. And then there’s the text of the message itself, in which this guy blames Harris for all of the hate he’s receiving because he’s “living with the consequences” of his decisions. It’s your classic “he was asking for it” defense, except here the “asking for it” was in the form of “selected an institution of higher education.”
This should serve as a reminder to the scores of you who still contact recruits through social media that it is a terrible, terrible idea, and not just because of the creepiness factor. They might see your comments, call you out, and make you look like a maroon in front of the whole internet. This guy is a real estate agent who uses his name and business information in his Twitter profile. And I will remind you that Michigan fans buy houses in west Michigan, as do people who don’t like being creeped the hell out by awkward people. So, congratulations, Mr. Ditmar, I dub thee TWITTER CREEPER OF THE YEAR OF THE WEEK.**
**This name probably won’t stick. Also this probably won’t be a regular thing.
[ED:BiSB - The purpose of this section was not to encourage people to seek retribution. People should not attempt to contact or further escalate the situation. Let the Universe unfold of its own accord.]
[/Insert words here]
I don’t want to talk about this. But I think you have to see it, so… here it is. Warning: it’s slightly Not Safe For Breakfast.
(H/T @LandGrant33, and by H/T I mean Y U HATE MY EYES?)
Bucknuts. That is all.
Car washings is serious business
NCAA rules are dumb. But until now, we didn’t know just how dumb:
Yup, a University had to report a secondary violation because an athlete washed her car with University water. According to Lost Lettermen, the full story is about as dumb as you would expect:
A WCC school self-reported an extra benefits violation to the NCAA when university officials caught one of their women’s golfers washing her car on campus, according to the source. The NCAA ruled a secondary violation had occurred because the water was not available to regular students and demanded the golfer pay back $20, which was deemed to be the value of the water and use of the hose.”
It was a violation because the USE OF A HOSE WAS AN IMPERMISSIBLE BENEFIT. And she had to PAY $20 because the hose wasn’t available to the general student body. In other words, this thing that is generally unavailable to the general student body is fine:
Ross Academic Center
And this will lead us slouching to SMU:
Once again, fine:
Save us Obi-Wan KenO’Bannon. You’re our only hope.
(NOTE: the second violation, while less funny, is probably worse. How can someone make some kind of impermissible contact with a recruit when he doesn’t know who he is talking to? We lawyer types call that “mens rea.” Everyone else calls it “holy itchy Gold Bond balls, use some common sense you ridiculous tools”)
Ohio: Worst State Ever, but improving?
The University of Cincinnati baseball team had a rough year, finishing just 6-18 in Big East play, which is probably because baseball isn't any of the players' first loves. They were born to be swimmers:
or explorers, Roman emperors, big game hunters, or… well, swimmers again. These gentlemen will be going professional in something other than sports. Unless that swimming thing works out, in which case that'd be sports.
Rock Bottom Update
Look, Amanda, you seem like a nice girl and all, certain amazing but somewhat NSFW headlines notwithstanding. But this is about the point in your life when you are going to want to reconsider some stuff.
Important! The offensive line has purchased a pig.
the wait is over and everyone's dreams can now come true We purchased a PIG!Introducing Dr. Hamlet III twitter.com/TaylorLewan77/…
— Taylor Lewan (@TaylorLewan77) May 28, 2013
God bless the offensive line for keeping the team's entertainment quotient off the charts even after Denard Robinson departs.
[UPDATE: YES THE NEXT FIFTEEN POSTS WILL ALL LEAD WITH THE SAME PICTURE OF DR HAMLET III]
World series. Congrats to softball, which endured some harrowing times in the super regional to get to the Women's Softball World Series. A two-run double from Ashley Lane rescued Michigan in the elimination game.
On to Oklahoma City, where Michigan gets #1 Oklahoma. Grumble about not re-seeding goes here. Michigan plays tomorrow at 9:30 on ESPN2.
We don't like things. Scott Dochterman FOIAed the dickens out of Iowa to get information about their seeming about-face on the recruiting deregulation that Mark Emmert spearheaded about a year ago. The revelations are about what you'd expect: fusty muttering about big spending oblivious to the Big Ten's place in the money standings. Urban Meyer (in a text message):
there are already teams that have made plans to have separate scouting depts. [sic]. there has already been nfl scouts that have been told they will be hired to run the dept. (hired for over 200k). I checked with an NFL friend and he confirmed that there was much conversation about this. Appealing to scouts because of no travel. Also, there has been movement to hire Frmr players/coaches with big names to work in that dept. and recruit full time. This will all happen immediately once rule is passed.
Emmert comes off as extremely frustrated that a year-long high-profile working group got bushwhacked by Big Ten teams who had simply not been paying attention. MSU's president chaired the frigging committee and was super pissed you guys about how everything went down:
"I find it interesting that I was advised by the conference to vote for these rules being assured that they had been discussed within the conference and we were involved in the committee process.”
She adds, “I must admit after all of our integrity and power coach discussions, I found the press release — the tone, the method and lack of conversation with Mark (Emmert) or me prior to release — very disturbing.”
Delany responded that "minds were other places" because, uh, football. Or something? Whatever they were busy with it certainly wasn't making sure Rutgers wasn't on the verge of becoming a national laughingstock.
Emmert was eventually forced to back down when other power conferences awoke from a refreshing year-long nap and agreed with whatever the Big Ten happened to be thinking that day. Emmert probably spent that night looking at his paycheck and thinking "still worth it."
Yoink. Hockey matches the football program's Drake Harris heist by securing the services of NTDP defenseman Nick Boka, a one-time MSU commit who thought better of it and is now headed… er… going to stay in Ann Arbor. Boka is a high profile defender who got an early invite to the NTDP and brings that grinding edge:
A good-sized kid who is probably still growing and he has a lot of upside to his game. He is not a flashy offensive-defenseman although he moves the puck well and isn’t afraid to skate it up either. He is quite mobile and plays aggressive. Boka showed some physical play at the back-end and plays sound position as well as controlling gaps. He looks to have pretty heavy shot from the point too.
Boka should come in for the class of 2015.
If he gets any taller he'll have to become two-dimensional. Tim Hardaway pumped up Caris LeVert to Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg, stating that the kid is still growing. A lot:
"The guy people are sleeping on is Caris LeVert," Hardaway told Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg during a recent ESPN podcast. "I think he grew an inch or two this past year, they plan on him being 6-foot-8, 6-foot-7-1/2 (next year). He's not done growing.
"He's going to be an athletic, defensive guy who can grab rebounds, push it on the break and hit that wide-open 3 … he's going to be the X-factor for the Wolverines next year."
A 6'8" small forward is a luxury few teams have. And LeVert doubles as a sail!
Nick Saban and I are basically twins now. I'm creeped out by this development as much as anyone else, but he's the only coach in the SEC who thinks they should add a ninth conference game. He's concerned that fans are getting fed up with seeing Middle Tennessee State and Memphis in the middle of November. Meanwhile, other guys in that league are saying stuff like this:
“For me, when you add a ninth game, that’s seven more losses for our conference,” Freeze said.
And this from James Franklin:
When’s it going to stop? Two years from now they’re going to say, ‘You know, we probably ought to schedule an NFL team. You’re probably going to have to play the Jets. You’re going to have to play the Falcons.’
Congratulations on destroying the slippery slope argument even more than politicians, James Franklin. Where does it all end? You're going to have to play a team of cyborgs with swords for eyes, James Franklin. That's definitely happening. And then they're going to take your wife home.
Saban, on the other hand:
“The biggest thing we all need to do in some of these decisions that we’re making about who we’re playing and what we do is, ‘What about the fans?’ because one of these days they’re going to quit coming to the games because they’re going to stay home and watch it on TV.
“Then everybody’s going to say, ‘Why aren’t you coming to the games? Well, if you play somebody good we’d come to the game.’ That should be the first consideration. Nobody’s considering them. They’re just thinking about, ‘how many games can I win, can I get bowl-qualified, how tough a teams do I have to play?’”
I find this… awesome? I do. These are strange days in college football.
Fast! Hype for Delano Hill continues apace as he runs a 10.97 in "cold, wet and windy conditions" to win the PSL 100 M and won a regional with a 10.7. Already at 200 pounds, he won't have to add the kind of weight that would rob him of some pretty excellent top-end safety speed.
Etc.: Intermat names Michigan's wrestling recruiting class #1, following on the heels of another strong class last year. Everything Patrick Hruby writes is great and makes me angry. The SEC's recommending that schools put functional wifi in their stadiums, which… yeah. Origins of the alma mater. Hardaway underrated.