"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Vastly underrated; properly rated
Previously: The Offense
My look back at Brian's epic 2011 football preview continues with the defense. This one got a lot more interesting than the offense, because despite all the warm fuzzies we felt from the GERG-to-Greg transition*, expecting a jump from the #110 total defense to #17 would have been outrageous. As in get-this-man-a-straitjacket outrageous.
Thankfully, the performance of the defense exceeded all reasonable expectations, and even most of the unreasonable ones. Let's peep last year's predictions, shall we?
*Not to mention the Tony-Gibson-to-Anyone-But-Tony-Gibson transition.
The move to three-tech won't be an issue [for Ryan Van Bergen]. He played it two years ago and when Michigan went to a four man front last year they stuck him back inside. He's now 290, a three year starter, and a senior. He's a good bet to crack double-digit TFLs and get some All Big Ten mention.
RVB actually ended up at strongside DE, which probably helped him lead the team with 12.5 TFLs. He ended up earning All-Big Ten honorable mention from both the coaches and media and graduating as one of the most beloved Wolverines in recent memory.
Demens will benefit from the move to back to the 4-3 under more than anyone save Craig Roh. With RVB and Martin shielding him from linemen he won't be in nearly as many hopeless situations where he's one-on-one with a guard He should be the team's leading tackler by a healthy margin and see his TFLs skyrocket from the measly 1.5 he managed a year ago.
Michigan's defense will probably be too bad to warrant much All Big Ten consideration, but honorable mention seems reasonable.
A year after inexplicably having to move past not just Obi Ezeh, but converted fullback Mark Moundros, on the depth chart at middle linebacker despite subsequently making it painfully obvious that he should've been the starter all along, Demens had his breakout season. He led the team with 94 tackles—second was Jordan Kovacs at 75—and saw his TFLs jump to a respectable five. Like Van Bergen, Demens was an all-conference honorable mention.
Even so, [Kovacs's] season was a step forward from obvious liability to "certainly not a liability." Even if he's a walk-on and even if he's obviously small and slow, he should continue improving. He'll be a little less small and slow with another year of conditioning. Being in a coherent defensive system should help put him in positions to make plays. His redshirt year was not spent on the team so he's not as close to his ceiling as your average redshirt junior.
He's not going to be Reggie Nelson. That won't keep him from becoming the first Michigan safety you only hate a little tiny bit since Jamar Adams.
This may still be underselling Kovacs, who took to competent coaching even better than expected and became the team's rock in the secondary, covering for his athletic limitations with usually-impeccable positioning. No, he's not Reggie Nelson, but I don't think you can find a remotely rational Michigan fan who harbors even the tiniest bit of ill will towards Kovacs. Michigan's shocking lack of big plays allowed—both against the pass and the run—can largely be attributed to his play; despite missing a game, Kovacs led the team with 51 solo tackles. He also notched 8 TFLs. All hail Kovacs.
I have the same optimism about this Johnson/Gordon combo that I had last year. This, of course, terrifies me. It seems unnatural to think an unproven Michigan safety could be competent. I like Gordon's agility and tackling, though, and while there will be rough spots early by midseason he should settle into that midlevel safety range like Englemon or Barringer.
This time around, the optimism regarding the free safety position was justified. Thomas Gordon had his share of struggles, especially late in the season, but for the most part he was quite competent. Around here, safety competence is a luxury on par with consistent placekicking.
Sacks almost double from 1.4 per game to 2.4. That would be a move from 98th to around 30th.
Michigan finished with 2.3 sacks per game. That put them at... 29th. Tip o' the cap.
Turnovers forced go from 19 to 27.
Brian's continued insistence that turnover luck would someday go Michigan's way finally paid off; the Wolverines forced 29 turnovers. It also helped that this defense actually tackled people.
EVERYTHING SEEMS WONDERFUL
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW RIGHT THIS WOULD BE.
Morgan was the MGoBlog Sleeper of the Year based on a wide array of scouting reports that praise his instincts, lateral mobility, and toughnosed hard gritty gritness. I thought he'd have to cool his heels behind Demens for a couple years, but he may get on the field quicker than anyone expected.
No full credit simply because Mike Jones was projected as the starter at WLB, a fact I had completely forgotten about until I looked back at the preview. Morgan ended up playing in 12 games, starting seven (the first being in week two against ND), and finished fifth on the team in tackles.
If [J.T. Floyd] gets a lot better this year it's time to take the Gibson chatter seriously.
This wasn't really a prediction, but... yeah. Tony Gibson minus all of the points.
Beyond Talbott it's true freshmen, but at least there's a horde of them. Maryland's Blake Countess arrives with the most hype and should be the biggest threat to play. (Caveat: last year Cullen Christian arrived with the most hype.)
Points for mentioning Countess as the most likely freshman to see the field. No points for giving him one sentence when he took over the starting job by midseason, especially considering the Christian caveat. As you'll see, the hype that should've surrounded Countess went—justifiably, in the preseason—to Courtney Avery.
Not So Much
Healthy again and less abandoned in the middle of the defense, Martin's numbers should soar. Before the sprain Martin was on pace for 11 TFLs and 4 sacks; after it he got just a half TFL the rest of the year. While the front of the schedule is a bit easier, Martin had 8.5 TFLs and 51 tackles a year ago. Reasonable progression should have gotten him to 11. Add in further progression plus three DL coaches plus a bit more help on the line plus a free-roaming QB attack role and 15 to 18 TFLs plus a little more QB terror should be within reach. He should be All Big Ten. He might be better.
I hate that I have to put this prediction in this category, but here it is. While Martin was the best player on the defense, his numbers were hampered by having to play the nose; he finished with six TFLs and 3.5 sacks. Despite the lack of statistical production, Martin's efforts were recognized with second-team All-Big Ten honors. He also forced a pitch on a speed option. See you on Sundays, MM.
"Experience" was why [Will Heininger] got the nod; that experience consists of backing Brandon Graham up. In is time on the field he rarely did anything wrong; he rarely did anything right, either. He was a non-factor. As a guy spotting Graham from time to time that's cool, but as a starter or a guy rotating with another equally obscure walk-on that's a recipe for zero production out of a spot that should see its fair share of plays. If this spot averages out as a zero next year that's probably good—and that's not good.
The biggest swing-and-a-miss on the list. Heininger swapped spots with RVB and started all 12 regular-season games at five-tech DT before missing the Sugar Bowl with a foot injury. He exceeded all expectations of a walk-on raised in the shadow of the Big House, proving he could hold his own against Big Ten competition and be a positive force on the interior. After the season, Brian ranked him as the third most siginificant departure on the defense, behind only Martin and Van Bergen. While part of that is due to the remaining depth along the defensive line, I don't think anyone thought Heininger's absence would be felt in such a way.
Brink will play. After mentioning Heininger's experience he said Brink has "practiced very well, played well, been productive" and promised to rotate six guys on the line. Six is a weird number because it means one of Black, Campbell, or Brink is on the fringe. Given the lineups Campbell seems the most likely even though that seems unlikely.
If you're saying "who?" you're probably not alone (though you read this blog, so you probably aren't saying "who?"). Walk-on Nathan Brink was penciled in as the starting SDE at one point in the fall, earning much preseason praise for his unlikely rise up the depth chart. After garnering all that hype, however, he made almost no impact, recording just one tackle while barely seeing the field. He's a prime example of why you must take all offseason practice hype with a grain of salt, especially when said hype involves previously-unknown walk-ons.
We've yet to see the much of the pass-rushing skill that made Roh a top 50 recruit. He's displayed hints of the ability to zip past tackles before they know what hits them when suffered to rush the passer—there's a chance that when he puts hand to ground and is told to let it rip that he goes bonkers. Roh is the biggest X factor on the team. He could end up with anywhere from a half-dozen to twelve sacks.
Playing his third position in three seasons, Roh didn't quite go bonkers, tallying four sacks and eight TFLs. Roh's play still markedly improved from his previous two seasons, but he still hasn't lived up to the sky-high recruiting hype. Much of the blame for that can fall upon the shoulders of Greg Robinson and Co., and we'll see if one last position switch, this time to SDE, finally results in Roh producing double-digit sacks.
In high school, Ryan was an outside linebacker in an actual 3-3-5. As such, he spent a lot of time screaming at the quarterback from angles designed to make life hard for offensive linemen. That's not far off his job in the 4-3 under but it comes with a lot more run responsibility—the SLB has to take on blockers in just the right spot so that he neither lets the play escape contain nor gives him a lane inside too big to shut down. Expect to see him on passing downs but only passing downs this fall.
Ryan became a pleasant early-season surprise when he started against Western Michigan and made his presence felt by batting an Alex Carder pass that Brandon Herron would intercept and return 94 yards to the house. While certainly more of an asset against the pass than the run—his balls-to-the-wall approach was great on blitzes, but not always sound when keeping contain—Ryan proved that he was by far the best option on the strong side. Just one year later, all-conference honors are very much in play.
Assuming he's healthy, another year to learn the position and get bigger should see him improve on his previous form. There is a nonzero chance his earlier performances were not representative of his ability, but the smart money is on Woolfolk being at least average. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him go at the tail end of next year's NFL draft.
Troy Woolfolk's return from the exploding ankle of doom wasn't as triumphant as we all hoped. While he started ten games—six at corner and four at safety—Woolfolk never looked fully comfortable on the field and was supplanted at each position by a younger player (Countess at corner, Gordon at safety). It would be quite a surprise to see him taken in this week's NFL draft.
Courtney Avery busts out. Going into next year people are talking about him as an All Big Ten performer.
After showing much promise as a true freshman, Avery was the obvious candidate to grow into a big-time role as the team's top corner of the present and future. Instead, he started the first two games, then ceded that role to J.T. Floyd, Woolfolk, and eventually Countess. Avery was a solid nickel corner, and should reprise that role in 2012, but his progression wasn't as great as expected.
Craig Roh leads the team in sacks with eight.
Nein. Despite Michigan's impressive rise in team sacks, they were spread pretty evenly across both the D-line and the back seven thanks to Mattison's blitz-happy approach. Ryan Van Bergen paced the team with 5.5, with Jordan Kovacs actually tying Roh for second with four.
Michigan noses just above average in yardage allowed. Advanced metrics have them about 50th.
I know Brian has no complaints about being so hilariously wrong on this one. As noted above, the Wolverines finished 17th in yardage allowed, and they also shot up to sixth (faints) in points allowed. Football Outsiders's FEI metric ranked them as the #16 defense in the country. Despite watching every second of the 2011 season (usually twice), I still have a hard time not believing I'm the victim of an elaborate hoax or a drug experiment gone horribly awry. If you see me waking up in a gutter and GERG is still the defensive coordinator, please do me a favor and run me over with an SUV. Make sure to double-tap, please.
It appears that conference commissioners are against home games for a four-team college football playoff. Since it's tough to think of a valid reason to be against them, the commissioners have to make up bad reasons. Bad reasons like "they play basketball at neutral sites" that ignore things like the NFL and every other playoff in the country that is not NCAA hockey.
That only is the third-worst argument.
The second-worst is "what if Cincinnati gets a bid?" Here is a complete list of teams that would have hosted first-round games if a four-team playoff had been instituted in 1998, the year of the BCS's inception:
- Tennessee [102,455]
- Florida State [82,300]
- Virginia Tech [66,233]
- Oklahoma [82,112]
- Miami [74,916]
- Nebraska [86,304]
- Ohio State [102,329]
- LSU [92,542]
- USC [93,607]
- Texas [101,624]
- Florida [88,548]
- Alabama [101,821]
- Auburn [87,451]
- Oregon [53,800]
All but three of those stadiums have capacities above 82,000. The exceptions are Miami's Your Name Here Stadium (75k), VT's Lane Stadium (66k) and Oregon's Autzen Stadium (54k). Each would have hosted once. Since the capacity of the Fiesta Bowl is 63k and the Orange Bowl is held at the same place Miami plays home games, stadium size cannot be a reasonable objection. In the event a tiny stadium would get to host, make them move the site to a reasonably close stadium of appropriate size, or just count your money from the many, many times college teams with capacities 20k larger than the biggest pro stadiums have hosted. Problem solved.
So that's a bad argument. But it's not the worst. This is the worst:
BCS executive director Bill Hancock has said there are questions about whether some college campuses had the infrastructure necessary to accommodate the crush of fans and media attending a college football semifinal.
"The infrastructure needed on campus is significant," Hancock told the Associated Press. "That's a factor. That's just one example of the intricacies that are part of this."
Bill Hancock wonders if college football stadiums have the infrastructure to host college football games.
You can't make this up, because if you did people would hit you really hard with rolled-up socks.
(Archived from MGoBlue.com)
Sometimes I go to write something, then mid-way through researching it I get completely turned around on the point I was trying to make. This one started with a conversation between me and Ace trying to compare the 1999 offensive line to the 2012 one. My recollection (which was wrong) was that the superbly talented and experienced starters were backed up by air and freshmen, and that when one went down for injury or an off-campus thing this drew in an Elliott Mealer-type who was moved all over the place as the coaches played "find the weak spot" with the defense. Unfortunately this dude had his own number and looked totally different than a Backus or Hutchinson, and therefore was easy to find. Anyway, they're not comparable, but I figured you'd still find the trip down memory lane interesting and perhaps draw some of your own comparisons.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, offensively speaking. Best of times because Michigan was going into the season with an experienced, senior quarterback, a junior running back who had flashed his star potential while seizing the starting job the year before, and an offensive line littered with future longtime NFL starters and returning starters, backed up by an entire class full of hyped O-line. It was the worst of times because they couldn't run the damn ball.
It was 1999, one year removed from the best recruiting class in school history, two years removed from a national championship, and three years removed from a class so full of touted offensive linemen Darrell Funk would call it greedy. This was also about the point in my fandom where I was just starting to know the names of offensive linemen, mostly because it was my first offseason on campus and everyone was saying the line is stacked.
Left tackle was Jeff Backus, who foreshadowing his long and healthy NFL career didn't miss a snap for two and a half years. Steve Hutchinson, a team captain as a junior, had started since the '97 team at left guard. David Brandt had started all of 1998 at center. Senior guard Chris Ziemann had 10 starts between '97 and early '98 and was returning from an injury. Right tackle was to be Maurice "Mo" Williams, who had drawn into the lineup for Ziemann late the previous year and promptly started pancaking fools.
However Mo Williams (NTMO), along with roommate and backup guard Jonathan Goodwin, was spending the first half of the season on double-secret probation (known then as "Carr's doghouse") for the K-Mart thing.
Thus drew in Frazier, the guy Maurice had to displace. Steve Frazier (right, via), last popped up in these pages when Brian, in the midst of excoriating Harbaugh for the 2007 General Studies tiff, quoted some guy who noted Frazier was a commercial airlines pilot. LinkedIn says he's still there. Before that he tallied up 18 starts on Michigan's offensive line, including 10/13 in 1998. The thing about him was it was impossible to guess, any given week, where on that line he would appear. In '98 it was four at center, six at guard (when Ziemann was hurt. In his senior season, Frazier started three games at center, three at right guard, and two more at right tackle.
Frazier came to my attention during that Illinois game for orchestrating the last and most memorable of the comedy of 4th quarter errors that turned a ho-hum stomach settler into Michigan's second straight loss. Brady was in his element, taking snaps in the shotgun down late and picking his way through a prevent D. At this point Frazier snapped a ball several feet over the head of the 6-4 quarterback. Brady fell on it 25 yards behind the LOS, then threw basically a Hail Mary that was picked off.
Throughout this exchange I was arguing with the guy who used to invite my father to games about whether Michigan was smart to let Illinois score a long rushing TD to go up by eight when the likely scenario otherwise was getting the ball back with less than 20 seconds and no timeouts down by one. For some reason I wouldn't let this go, but I believed him when he said the offensive line was way weak behind the starters.
You hear this and immediately think of 2012, with Lewan, Omameh, Barnum, Mealer and Schofield, then air and true freshman. This was actually not at all the case in 1999, since Michigan had an entire line's worth of highly rated redshirt sophomores. Few written records survive from the recruiting Dark Ages except the manuscript of the Venerable Vijan, so here's Vijan on that ridiculous haul:
Maurice Williams, OL/DL, Detroit, MI. 6'6", 275 lbs, 4.9 40. Williams is the top player in the state of Michigan and is one of the top line prospects in the nation on either side of the ball; he is one of the top 100 players in the country. Played primarily on offense this year, but was a dominant DL as a junior. He chose Michigan over MSU, Florida St., Washington, and Ohio St., and is an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA. Was rumored to have committed to Michigan in July, but did not make a final announcement until his official visit on the weekend of 12/6. Could play either OL or DL at Michigan, depending upon his preference and the needs of the team.
Todd Mossa, OT, Darien, CT. 6'3", 285 lbs, 4.9 40. Mossa is one of, if not the, top offensive guard prospects in the nation. He was rated the number 1 overall OL prospect by SuperPrep in the preseason, and was a post-season All-American on most recruiting lists. Led his high school to the state championship, and graded out at over 90% in his blocking assignments as a senior. In addition to football, Mossa plays goalie for his lacrosse team. He is a tremendous drive blocker with great feet who was also recruited by Penn St., Syracuse, and Boston College.
Jason Brooks, OL, Cleveland, Ohio. 6'4", 270 lbs, 5.1 40. Brooks is from an outstanding high school program in Cleveland St. Ignatius, which has won the last two state championships in Ohio. Brooks is the top OL prospect in Ohio, and one of the top 5-10 OL prospects in the nation, as well as a top 100 overall player. Rated the top prospect in Ohio, and the top lineman in the nation by the NRA, with a rating of 6.1 ("franchise player"). Brooks graded out at over 90% in his blocking assignments as a senior despite suffering a leg injury early in the season. Despite rumors to the contrary, never wavered on his commitment; he visited Colorado only to be sure that he had a school that he could compare with Michigan.
Ben Mast, OL, Massillon, Ohio. 6'5", 275 lbs, 5.0 40. Mast is another top OL prospect from Ohio, and is considered by many to be the best prospect out of traditional power Massillon in several years. He is considered one of the top OL's in the midwest, and was recruited heavily by schools throughout the nation. Ranked as one of the top 10 linemen in the nation, and as one of the top 100 overall players by several recruiting services. Mast's other in an OSU grad, but he has always been a fan of Michigan.
Adam Adkins, OL, Troy, Michigan. 6'3", 265 lbs, 5.1 40. Adkins has been described as a dominant player from yet another traditionally strong football program. He has played on both sides of the ball in high school, but projects to be a center in college. He is generally considered to be one of the top two OL prospects in Michigan. Adkins is also the top-rated heavyweight wrestler in Michigan.
Kurt Anderson, LB/TE/OL, Glenview, Ill. 6'5", 225 lbs, 4.8 40. Kurt is the younger brother of Michigan Butkus Award winner Erick Anderson. He is one of the top prospects in Illinois this year; he set a school record for solo tackles as a junior and broke his brother's record for total tackles in a career. Followed it up by having a great senior season, making 142 tackles, with 6 sacks and 2 interceptions; he is considered an All-American by several recruiting services.
Around the time President Clinton was congratulating the national champs in football (and the hockey team was winning one themselves) in spring of '98, Brooks had his thing which eventually saw him removed before '99. The rest of the guys were still there and rotated in. Ben Mast started most of '99 at right tackle, and drew in for Hutchinson at guard one time. Adkins got two starts early in the season at center. Mossa didn't pan out—he now lives in Vail and tweets clever things. Anderson would start later in his career.
So this was a deep team. But it couldn't run. Minus sacks, but including David Terrell's five end-arounds for 17.8 yards a pop, Michigan in 1999 averaged just 3.4 yards per carry (with sacks it was 3.2). Part of that, from recollection, was that A-Train was playing hurt, and barely ever coming out. His 301 carries were 10 times that of backup Walter Cross. The five aforementioned end-arounds made Terrell the second leading rusher on the team (he had 89 yards).
That also counts a lot of 4th quarter saltings and 1st quarter running into piles, and if the game was exciting by the 4th quarter (about half the time), we'd suddenly got to a shotgun and let Brady or Henson toss to Walker and Terrell and Knight and Diallo Johnson until the ledger tipped our way again. It was typical DeBordian offense which set the tone for people of my generation to despise DeBordian offense. If you go back and watch this team on Wolverine Historian clips you'll see plenty of screens. I believe this was because when Maurice wasn't at right tackle, everybody else they had there were guards, so defenses who knew when a pass play was coming just as well as every sophomore in Row 83 couldn't completely tee off on Brady.
How relevant is this to today? Little, except if you squint really hard. What I'm saying is despite the recruiting profiles and the age, once Goodwin and Maurice were removed from the depth chart (and that was only for half the season), given what we know about them later, starting Ben Mast in '99 is not all that different from starting Kalis in '12, in a best-case Kalis scenario. On the other hand Frazier was more of a Barnum than a Mealer. I had forgotten the '97 class was mostly still on hand, but I had good reason to: other than the can't-miss guy and the flier who made good as a serviceable senior later on, you don't see the next generation (Stenavich, Pape, and the Daves) on this depth chart. They were on the team as some type of freshmen, or they were recruits, and considering they ended up starting over Mast and Adkins and Mossa, technically they might too have been the best options.
No there isn't a point in here. Like I said, I thought I had something that might be a preview of what it's like living on the edge with great starters and freshmen behind them. Instead I only found more evidence that getting lots and lots of O-linemen is important because you really don't know which ones will work out, which can best serve the team as depth, and which are really just giant intellectual future ski bums.
Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork gets it done:
Michigan marching band received a letter today from Dave Brandon informing them that they will be heading to Dallas for the 2012 FB opener
Also some well-heeled donor or six dropping benjamins. Nickel and dime, nickel and dime.
Meanwhile, David Brandon on the financial realities of Jerryworld($):
Brandon acknowledged that the athletic department would have made more money had it just hosted a game at Michigan Stadium. "If it was just about the money," he said, "we would have hosted a game here."
But the exposure, the primetime slot and the opponent will do wonders for the program. Brandon said there was no way he could have gotten Alabama or a similarly high-profile opponent to do a one-off game in Ann Arbor. And with the Wolverines' 2013 schedule already full, a home-and-home series would not have worked, either.
…says an athletic director looking at a 2013 return game with UConn for a game scheduled in 2010, in a department that waited half a decade to get a return game from Oregon.
Whatever. Even if it's a grim idea financially for both the department and Michigan fans it's better than a MAC game until we're down two touchdowns. I'll be extremely disappointed if this sort of thing happens again, though. Price marquee games appropriately and there's no reason Michigan can't make it work financially with home and homes. No more middlemen, sterile NFL arenas, etc.
Speaking of, Brandon mentioned that Michigan is pursuing a home and home with a Pac-12 team that should launch in before the 2017, when the conferences will play annual games against each other. Hopefully that means a home game in 2014, when Nebraska/OSU/Notre Dame are again on the road. (Michigan at least adds Penn State to the home schedule that year.)
If that's the case, possibilities are:
- Cal. Cal has already scheduled a game at Northwestern, however, and probably wants a couple of bodybag home games to fill things out.
- Oregon. Home date with MSU in 2014 and on the road in 2015. Probably does not want to double up with the state of Michigan, but the schedule seems to work out.
- Stanford. Similar issue to Cal's: Already @ ND in 2014.
- USC. USC ain't scurred of filling up its schedule with BCS teams and has a home game with ND in 2014 plus a game at BC(?!?). They'd probably be willing to take on a challenge since BC is going to roll over and die. Complication: this would be smack in the middle of the period sanctions should bite them and they might want to ease up on the scheduling.
- Utah. Hasn't scheduled anything.
- Washington State. Has a home game against Wisconsin in 2014 and a road game against Nevada. Unlikely they'd want to go on the road that year.
Everyone else is full in 2014. Utah or USC seem like the most likely options. A home and home with a Utah team that has twice come out for one-offs in the past decade would be something of a letdown.
BONUS RANDOM NOTE: It looks like the prophesied resurrection of multiple interesting nonconference games is coming to pass. Body-bags guarantees and rising ticket prices have finally created an environment where it makes sense to keep people on the hook with games against actual opponents. At least there's that.
This recruiting roundup will self-destruct in two hours...
VA LB E.J. Levenberry makes his choice between Michigan and Florida State at 3 pm today. His family has done a good job of keeping the choice a secret; the only insider who seems willing to make a prediction is Rivals's Mike Farrell, who's unfortunately leaning towards FSU. We'll find out soon if he's right.
Ohio State Cleans Up, and What That Means for Michigan
It's rare to kick off the meat of the recruiting roundup with players who committed elsewhere, but Ohio State's big weekend could have major—and positive—ramifications for Michigan's class. In a move that surprised no one, FL DE Joey Bosa committed to the Buckeyes last weekend, along with PA LB Alex Anzalone (Michigan offer) and NC DE Lewis Neal (no M offer).
While it's never fun to see Ohio State pick up a five-star defensive end, the addition of Bosa (along with Neal) could give Michigan a boost in the race for MD DT Henry Poggi. OSU will take a relatively small class this year, probably in the neighborhood of 18 recruits, and they now sit at 13 commits, four of them defensive linemen; the odds that they take another are slim. That could turn the race for Poggi into a Michigan/Alabama affair, though he recently told Scout's Kristen Kenney that he has no timetable for his decision and hasn't yet narrowed down his favorites ($).
Might as well clear out the two other happy trails from this week: MA OL John Montelus committed to Notre Dame, while MD QB Shane Cockerille—who Michigan was recruiting as a defensive back—picked Maryland.
Running Backs: Two Options Still Out There, Plus a New 2014 Offer
One player being pursued by both Michigan and Ohio State is VA RB Derrick Green. Green is currently favoring Clemson, but a misleading quote popped up on the MGoBoard today—"Michigan will be hard to say no to"—that I wanted to clear up. That quote was taken from a Tweet that unfortunately wasn't linked (use links, people!), so I can't find it, but here's the actual full quote from a recent interview with 247's Clint Brewster [$, emphasis mine]:
“Even though I have named Clemson my top school I would still say I’m pretty open,” said Green. “I’m probably going to narrow my list down early or late summer after I make some more visits. “Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Clemson are going to be tough to say no to and things could always change, especially as I take more visits.”
So, yes, Michigan is still a factor, but that was more a quote about how Green will have a tough time turning away any schools from his top group. It does sound like Michigan is still in hot pursuit of Green, however.
Speaking of running backs, Sam Webb tweeted that Michigan dropped by the school of IL RB Ty Isaac yesterday. EdgyTim.com has a recent update on Isaac's recruitment in which he gives an idea of his current timeline ($):
"I just don't see myself going past September 1st but I also don't want to set any hard deadline for now. I also don't see me taking five official visits and I'll most likely just take one official visit to the school I decide on. When I know my school I'm going to be 100 percent committed and I just don't want to rush things. It could happen next week but if I don't feel 100 percent comfortable with my decision I'll wait and take as much time as I need."
I'd have to think that if Isaac doesn't take any more unofficial visits, Michigan would be the prohibitive favorite over USC and Notre Dame.
Michigan offered a 2014 running back this week, Jonathan Hilliman from St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey. Hilliman already holds offers from Boston College, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon, Rutgers, and Penn State; you can check out Aquaman's post-offer interview with him here.
Quickly: Michigan is in the top eight ($, info in header) for PA ATH Chavas Rawlins, a quarterback being recruited by the Wolverines as a wide receiver. Michigan hasn't yet offered Rawlins. Free Rivals article on 2014 DE Da'Shawn Hand, potentially the #1 rising junior in the country, who already holds a Michigan offer.
Morris Bounces Back at NLA 7-on-7
Shane Morris and the MaxEx Detroit squad headed to Pittsburgh for the NLA 7-on-7 tournament, making it to the semifinals before being upset by the Michigan Elite Red team. 247's Barton Simmons ranked Morris as the #2 performer of the weekend, only behind IN LB Jaylon Smith:
Dealing with the elements of Saturday during pool play, Morris had his ups and downs like the rest of the quarterbacks at the event but when Sunday rolled around and the stakes were raised to “lose and you go home”, Morris picked his game up noticeably.
Granted, there were no rushers bearing down on him, but you’re not going to find a more calm and collected demeanor in the pocket than Morris. He has good touch, the ability to change speeds effectively and great confidence in his arm. Morris continued to look like one of the nation’s top arms on Sunday.
Simmons also had Jourdan Lewis as his #9 weekend performer, noting that he was one of the "best pure athletes" in the competition.
While only 247 has released team rankings among the four recruiting services (Michigan is #1), two other publications—MaxPreps and the Sporting News—came out with 2013 team rankings this week. Not surprisingly, Michigan tops the list on both. Here's the take at MaxPreps:
The owner of the nation's new No. 1 class, Michigan is seemingly unstoppable on the recruiting front. The Wolverines boast more depth, diversity and talent than any other class. The class features six Top 100 players among its 17 commits, the most in the country. Amazingly it stands to add even more to its riches, as Laquon Treadwell and Ty Isaac both could land in Ann Arbor while E.J. Levenberry and Kendall Fuller remain possibilities on the defensive side of the ball. McDowell will be a national recruit on the defensive line next year. Expect Michigan to target possible 2014 No. 1 Da'Shawn Hand as well, as the Wolverines have established a firm presence in the Northern Virginia area and could prove to be a factor.
The Sporting News has a similarly glowing assessment.
Quickly: Andy Staples analyzes the NFL mock draft based on recruiting rankings, reminding you that yes, they very much matter. Chantel Jennings on Michigan gunning for the top-ranked class in 2013 ($).
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I'm stealing this from a guy who stole it from someone else on the internet with some refinements because… yeah. Brady Hoke is doing work in Ohio. Here's a list of Ohio recruits in Lloyd Carr's last six classes compared to Brady Hoke's first two:
Lloyd Carr, 2002-2007
Kickers. Zoltan Mesko, Bryan Wright.
[Separate category because teams generally have one scholarship max per slot; OSU did not compete for either guy because they weren't in the market those years.]
Three star types: Mark Bihl, Willis Barringer, Mister Simpson.
Three/four star borderline: Pat Massey, Brandon Harrison, Cobrani Mixon
Four star+ types: Shawn Crable, Prescott Burgess, Mario Manningham, Justin Boren.
That's 12 in six classes with four of them consensus four-star types. Only those four had OSU offers. If you want to add Carr's recruiting efforts in his final season that led to the hybrid class you can add two more borderline sorts in Brandon Moore and Elliott Mealer plus a consensus four-star w/ OSU offer in Kevin Koger. That doesn't change the math much.
Brady Hoke, 2012-2013
This is Hoke's first full class and the one Michigan is currently working on.
Three-star types: Willie Henry, Kaleb Ringer, Allen Gant
Three/four star borderline: Jaron Dukes, Deveon Smith, AJ Williams
Four-star types+: Gareon Conley (just needs Rivals to update to be consensus), Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray, Taco Charlton, Dymonte Thomas, Chris Wormley (minus Rivals), Kyle Kalis, Jarrod Wilson, Tom Strobel, Joe Bolden, Jake Butt.
Gedeon, Smith, Thomas, Wormley, Kalis, and Strobel had OSU offers, and Urban Meyer tried to get in on Joe Bolden after he was hired.
Michigan's gone from a four-star-plus recruit from Ohio twice every three years to five per year. Tressel implosion and the scholarship restrictions that caused is obviously a major reason for the sea change. Hoke is just as important in that equation, however, and given Meyer's increased focus on "national" recruits that's a trend that should continue into the future. Ohio State's obviously doing well for themselves with this strategy, but in the process they're giving Michigan bonus recruits from Ohio in addition to their usual in-state, regional, and national recruiting.
Oh, right: now we can beat Notre Dame head to head, too.
[What about Rodriguez? RR added more borderline 3/4 sorts to the hybrid class in Mike Shaw, Taylor Hill, and Roy Roundtree plus sleeper Patrick Omameh.
The next year RR got the two kids out of Liberty (Isaiah Bell, a three star, and Fitzgerald Toussaint, a 4 four star) and Justin Turner, a four star sort with an OSU offer.
In 2010 Michigan recruited a ton of dudes from Ohio, 11 in all, but all(!) were generic three stars except Jerald Robinson and Jibreel Black, who were borderline. None had OSU offers. Six haven't made it through two years in the program.
That pattern repeated in RR's final class. He picked up Jack Miller, Greg Brown, and Chris Rock, all three-stars. Hoke came in and added Antonio Poole, Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman, and Tamani Carter, also all three stars.
So while RR was a lot better at pulling players out of Ohio, he was a lot worse at getting the players big time programs want, and worse yet at keeping them. His total tally of H2H wins against OSU was one, and that kid never played. A lot of his success-type activity can be attributed to going after guys with crappy offer lists.
FWIW, the hybrid classes weren't included because a scrambling month to pick up the pieces at a new job is not representative of long term recruiting trends.]