LIST OF WWE PERSONNEL?!?
Previously: CB Greg Brown, CB/S Tamani Carter, CB Blake Countess, CB Delonte Hollowell, CB Raymon Taylor, LB Antonio Poole, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Frank Clark,
LB Kellen Jones, DE Keith Heitzman, DE Chris Rock, DE Brennen Beyer, OL Jack Miller, OL Tony Posada.
FWIW: I didn't forget Bryant, I just ended writing up Rawls first.
|Flint, MI - 5'10" 210|
|Scout||3*, #77 RB|
|Rivals||3*, NR RB, #19 MI|
|ESPN||3*, 76, #84 RB|
|Other Suitors||CMU, Cincinnati, Iowa (sort of)|
|YMRMFSPA||Mark Ingram… with more speed! Or Kevin Grady.|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim.|
|Notes||Head coach is Fred Jackson, son of Fred Jackson|
If you've hung around here for the last six months you've heard of, and probably participated in, the gentle mocking of various people named Fred Jackson for their opinion of Thomas Rawls. You see, Rudy, people named Fred Jackson are all football coaches who redefine hyperbole when talking about running backs. Rawls's high school coach and college position coach are both named Fred Jackson because they are father and son.
The result of this unholy hyperbole combo follows. Go action son!
“Honestly, I did get a chance to watch Mark Ingram a few times,” Jackson said. “Mark is probably one of the best guys ever to come through here. Mark was great, but there’s something about this kid Thomas. If I was to compare them as high school backs, give me Thomas Rawls.”
“Thomas Rawls can lift you - I call it the ‘hit and lift’ - and keep on going,” Jackson said. “That, to me, is a special talent. Chris Perry had that. Chris Perry had the ability to hit you and keep on moving, and this kid can move the pile.” …
“I know Mark [Ingram, again] and I know Thomas [Rawls],” the Michigan running backs coach said. “They’re a lot a like. … My son is telling me he’s O.J. Simpson. He’s not that, but he’s the real deal.”
I'm sorry if your clocks/pets exploded once you read that last bit. I'm even more sorry if the entrails combined with the gears to form a mouth that moaned "too… much… hyperbole" before collapsing in a pool of gore. But it had to be related. It's like the Ring.
OJ Ingram did rush for 396(!!!) yards against Bay City Central, breaking Plain Old Heisman Ingram's city record of 377 set against Bay City Western. (Bay City high schools, it's time to fire Greg Robinson.) He also put up an astounding 1585 yards on 150 carries in just six games before injury felled him. He probably would have stomped Ingram's records to dust if he hadn't picked up the dread high ankle sprain.
But come on, Fred Jacksons. We've heard this before, albeit in mono. Surely no one not named Fred Jackson would make the same assertion—
"He's a great back," Trieu said. "He is one of the toughest runners I've seen. He's very compact -- a bowling ball kind of kid who can break tackles and has a good burst. While most people see him as just an inside battering ram, I think he proved to me over the summer and the course of this year that he has legit breakaway speed. He's also very underrated as a receiver out of the backfield. He might not be the tallest back, but I think we've seen recently that's an overrated quality for a running back." …
"I think Rawls compares favorably to Ingram," Trieu said. "They both have similar builds and running styles. I think Ingram picks his way and is more of a slasher, whereas Rawls really sees a crease and hits it. I don't think you want to say Thomas Rawls will win a Heisman, but coming out of high school there are definite similarities there."
Son of a bitch.
It's time to check the film because everyone is lying. Film says… he does have a few plays on his highlight reel where defenders ping off of his squat physique after grabbing and finding nothing but thigh. They're buried after the touchdowns where he takes off untouched, but they're there. 5:36:
So why did OJ Ingram have one BCS offer, that from Cincinnati, and nothing from Michigan until January 28th? Why does everyone rate him a generic three star?
"Grades" are the usual answer. In this case it's not entirely fanciful. Scout's Allen Trieu directly stated that Rawls's grades kept his rankings low:
"We rate guys conservatively who have not fully qualified yet," said Trieu. "So he's about ranked 13th in the state and a three-star. I think he could be higher, but our national rule across the board is we wait until they've qualified. Purely on the merits of his talent and what he's done throughout his career though, I think he's a top-10 player in the state and borderline four-star-type kid. He's had a fantastic senior season."
Everyone from Demar Dorsey to Justin Turner to Aaron Burbridge puts the lie to that, though. Recruiting services continually rank academic risks much higher than Rawls. And there are plenty of schools who don't care if you've got two axons to rub not-quite-together if you can play football. For one: where is the ubiquitous WVU offer?
Lack of good film and injury are more plausible explanations. Rawls got a new coach when Flint Central closed and Fred Jackson moved to Northern. This got him away from a wing-T Rawls was not a fan of:
My old coach ran the wing-T,” Rawls said. “I just didn’t like it. It didn’t fit me. He always had me at linebacker, and I did succeed there. When Central closed, the coach they brought over had a new game plan, a new formation which was the spread and the I-formation. I just worked hard, adjusted to the new formations and just blew up after that.”
Rawls had "good" junior film but it was the senior stuff Scout's Allen Trieu found "outstanding." That outstanding blow up lasted six games and Rawls got injured, potentially terminating interest from teams around the region. Trieu believed Wisconsin and Iowa would be "real options" down the line just before his injury.
Interest from elsewhere or no, he ended up at Michigan. Let's see what we've won. ESPN($):
… physically imposing back with good downhill attributes. Hits the hole with authority and flashes good downhill burst and momentum. Quick to see and hit the cutback. A decisive and aggressive runner who is constantly heading North with square shoulder pads and good lean. … Does not have real loose hips but can redirect sharply and jump-cut the first defender through the hole. … . Runs low to the ground and dips the shoulder through traffic making it difficult to get clean shot on him. Shows an extra gear and when he breaks free into the second level to separate initially but does not project to have ideal long-speed or great elusiveness as a major college back. Breaks consistent first contact but did not see the pile pushing power we were expecting.
They say he "can contribute" and slap a decided meh on his rating. Touch the Banner:
… big kid with thick legs, built powerfully and low to the ground. He has patience and allows blocks to develop in front of him, which also shows good vision to see cutbacks and running lanes. Perhaps the most impressive thing about him as a high school runner is the way he keeps his shoulders facing north and south when he makes his cuts; this allows him to break some tackles that other running backs wouldn't.
…Michigan fans might not like me for saying this, but Rawls reminds me of Kevin Grady. … Perhaps Rawls can contribute at fullback or in goal line situations at Michigan, but I'm not expecting Rawls to be a star for the Wolverines.
Finally, Trieu has been Rawls's biggest advocate($):
Analysis: Rawls just looks like a running back. He's stocky, has a low center of gravity and he runs powerfully. He breaks arm tackles, has good balance and a north-south style where he does not waste a lot of time going laterally. He's able to make cuts and bounce off defenders at full speed and get himself going back towards pay-dirt. He has good speed and can break the long runs and also shows good hands in the passing game. …
Verdict: Michigan, I think, got a steal here. You watch the film and it's hard not to be impressed. He's a tough kid with speed and he's underrated as a receiver. It will be tough to keep him off the field for long.
I'm going to start calling him Allen Fred Trieu-Jackson if he keeps this up.
It seems like Michigan coaches are on Trieu's side. Rawls has been informed he will not redshirt and Jackson spent most of his time at media day talking up his freshmen. That's kind of a giveaway, though, since they'd had the pads on for like a day at that point and Justice Hayes is a spread guy no one expects to play much. Motivation there, and then the general unreliability of Fred Jackson assessments. I wouldn't read too much into that, or expect Rawls to see much playing time this year. Down the road it will depend on just how many tackles he breaks.
Etc.: Unanimous all state; Flint POY. Commitment presser photos. Thomas Rawls recruitment is serious business. Fred Jackson says he has more speed than Mike Hart, which Rawls takes as a "huge complement." If Mike Hart was fast he'd be the best running back ever. In case there was any question, he did qualify($) in June.
Probably some other Thomas Rawls:
"We're a group of people who get together to watch a movie, with a common interest in all things Star Trek," said Thomas Rawls Jr., vice president of the local fan club, which split from the Peninsula- based USS Jamestown club several years ago to cut down on the tunnel travel. "We're an informal group of people who enjoy Star Trek."
Is "all dog."
Why Mark Ingram… with more speed? My name is not Fred Jackson.
Okay. Why Kevin Grady? Grady was a squat 215 pound high school kid who racked up tons of yards in high school by running untouched through poor competition and running over 150-pound kids. In college his lack of elusiveness or overwhelming size made him a mediocre straight-ahead runner who was a decent short yardage back and fullback but not a feature guy.
Rawls's film doesn't show a guy who's going to get outside often, he won't have elite breakaway speed in college, and his wiggle ain't wigglin'. His path to production is grinding through the tackles like the ball of knives Grady was always supposed to be.
If he's Kevin Grady in a downhill manball offense that might be a different thing entirely. Michigan switched to an all-zone all-the-time offense in 2006; Grady redshirted the next year due to injury and then stuck it out in the spread 'n' shred. It's possible he would have been a much more useful back if he was asked to run power. Also, Grady's personal issues hindered his development. Rawls is likely to be a better version of his predecessor.
Guru Reliability: Low. Analyst scouting reports vary extensively, and it sounds like the ratings would if not for the grades or the injury. Rawls is also a late riser who didn't make a big splash until he was a senior and was immediately injured afterwards.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Running backs aren't that hard to rank, and I'm in agreement with the above guys who say he lacks the elite athleticism to be a force in college. He's a smaller version of Hopkins. If he does run as hard as his advocates, say, though…
Rawls is the biggest wildcard in this class. Could be nothing, could be OJ Ingram.
Projection: Has been told he'll play this year; I think he'll get a few carries here and there but generally be lost in the shuffle behind Shaw, Smith, and Hopkins. Next year Shaw is gone and he'll have the pass protection down; he could push to start then.
This is a personnel-oriented look at the season's opponents. The game-week previews will be more matchup based. Last year's stats are presented with projected starters in bold and departed players in italics.
|Minnesota Offense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||361.33||77|
|Points Per Game||23.17||89|
|Yards Per Play||5.26||78|
|Yards Per Pass||7.18||54|
|Yards Per Rush||3.63||92|
|Playcall Distribution||1.18 Rush:Pass|
We're going to see plenty of change here. Offense (along with "everything") is one of the areas of football that Tim Brewster was pretty bad at coaching, and it's reflected in the numbers for the Gophers. Brewster seemingly changed his scheme every year, with run-heavy and pass-heavy schemes, pro and spread sets, and a general GERG-like vibe of "can't make up our mind on what to do."
New Gopher coach Jerry Kill believes in his heart that running the ball is important to the people of Minnesota (seriously), so expect a slant toward the run, even more than we started to see last year, when the spread-to-pass basically died for the Gophers (less sacks, they still called 1.09 rushes for every pass).
Tim Brewster's coaching reign lived and died a horrible, fiery death by the arm of Adam Weber even when the Gophers started to balance their offense a little more. With Minnesota's all-time leading passer out the door, it's probably the MarQueis Gray show in Minneapolis. Gopher fans are hailing him as Denard Robinson except impervious to inury, even though Gray spent much of last year playing wide receiver. Behind him, there are only redshirt freshmen Tom Parish and Moses Alipate, so the depth is scary thin.
|Minnesota QBs 2010|
|Minnesota QBs Rushing 2010|
Grade: 1/5. MarQueis Gray hasn't proven anything as a quarterback, aside from decent running ability (he was 6/15 passing in 2009). With no proven backups, it's going to be tough to run the ball with the signal-caller much, and his arm hasn't done anything yet to put fear into defenses. That said, he was a highly-rated recruit, so maybe the right coaching can flip the switch for him.
The Gophers had issues with banged-up runners over the past couple of years, and last season was no different, as Donnell Kirkwood went down after four games.
I think 5th-year Duane Bennett will get the starting nod over DeLeon Eskridge, as he was more effective despite fewer carries, and should be fully healthy after a couple years recovering from knee surgery. [Ed-M: some updates since Tim put this in the hopper: Eskridge has left the team, but Kirkwood received a medical hardship and basically gets to restart a promising career as a Stephen Hopkins-like (5'10, 215 lbs.) downhill ball. Bennett meanwhile seems to have won the slot receiver sweepstakes, so...Kirkwood]. Phil Steele is really high on redshirt frosh Lamonte Edwards. With a shift to more run-heavy schemes, the Gophers are short a fullback, as Jon Hoese is out the door.
|Minnesota RBs 2010|
|Jon Hoese (FB)||19||53||2.79||3|
|Minnesota RBs Receiving 2009|
|Jon Hoese (FB)||12||97||8.08||0|
Grade: 3/5. It's hard to pin the lack of production on the running backs themselves, because Minnesota's offensive line hasn't done them any favors in the recent past. If everyone can stay healthy, look for improvement here.
Senior Da'Jon McKnight would be the Gophers' unquestioned number one this fall... if he wasn't coming off spring knee surgery. With the Gophers' #2 receiver from last year now plying his trade at quarterback, and just about everybody else graduating, it's McKnight-or-bust until some young guns emerge. Junior Brandon Green redshirted last season, and is expected to start as well. Everything else is up for grabs. At tight end, Eric Lair is a solid returning starter.
|Minnesota Receivers 2010|
|Eric Lair (TE)||39||526||13.49||2|
|Troy Stoudermire (CB)||6||114||19.00||1|
|Tiree Eure (TE)||3||47||15.67||1|
|Minnesota WRs Rushing 2009|
|Eric Lair (TE)||1||9||9.00||0|
Grade: 1/5. The above was Minnesota's wideout production under the following circumstances: 1) The most prolific QB in school history was tossing them the ball 2) The top two targets were not coming off knee injuries 3) The head coach was not a Gopher-looking man who feels in his heart that he needs to run the ball. With all three of those factors dropping off and the second-best receiver now playing quarterback (poorly, if history is any indication), this should be a scary year for the Gophers' receiving corps. McKnight is a Phil Steele 3rd-Team All-Big Ten projection.
The Gophers lose two guys on the offensive line who started every single game last season in right tackle Jeff Wills and center DJ Burris, along with another guy who started in 10 contests, right guard Matt Carufel. For good measure, Dom Alford, who started most of 2009 but only a couple games in 2010, also departs the Twin Cities. That means a big shakeup for an offensive line that already wasn't very good. Redshirt sophomore Ed Olson should start at left tackle after holding down that position most of last year, and fifth-year Chris Bunders will return at left guard. From there, it's all newbies with Ryan Wynn at center (he was a starter at tackle back in 2008), Ryan Orton at right guard, and redshirt freshman Jimmy Gjere starting at right tackle.
Grade: 2/5. Minnesota's line was actually pretty good at keeping Adam Weber upright last year, allowing only 17 sacks the entire season. However, part of that is due to scheme (quick passing, an insistence on pounding the rock down several scores against USC) more than anything. Considering the Gophers were downright terrible at rushing the ball, this was a bad unit last year. With several losses along the front, they shouldn't improve their performance, though I expect Jerry Kill's coaching staff will do a better job coaching them up.
|Minnesota Defense 2010|
|Yards Per Game||392.17||76|
|Points Per Game||33.00||98|
|Yards Per Play||6.57||115|
|Pass Yards Per Game||200.75||33|
|Yards Per Pass||8.60||113|
|Sacks Per Game||0.67||120|
|Rush Yards Per Game||191.42||98|
|Yards Per Rush||5.27||114|
Oh. Oh my. I'll say it: this defense was the worst in the Big Ten last year--and possibly by a wide margin. As horrific as the GERG-era Michigan defenses were, this was something special even without as many injuries all over the lineup. If they had faced the same number of plays as Michigan's defense, they would have given up well over 6300 yards (Minnesota fans are thanking their lucky stars for a positive turnover margin... now).
The Gophers couldn't stop the run, giving up nearly a yard more than Michigan on each carry(!), and couldn't stop the pass, although teams rarely needed to throw the ball to beat the Gophers. Michigan probably could have scored 100 on these guys had the two teams met last year.
Jerry Kill, then, is in charge of leading a massive defensive renaissance, not unlike Michigan's own Brady Hoke. There is probably less overall talent on Minnesota's roster, but much more experience among the Gopher players.
The good news for Minnesota is that they return nearly every contributor save defensive end Jewhan Edwards. The bad news is that their defensive line was terrible last year, generating the worst pass rush in the country, and one of the worst yards-per-rush numbers. Redshirt sophomore Matt Garin will step in to replace Edwards, with redshirt junior D.L. (Major Major) Wilhite -- a promising freshman in '09 who regressed last season -- returning as the other bookend. The tackles are both returning starters in seniors Brandon Kirksey and Anthony Jacobs. The experienced depth is very light, so look for the Gophers to get a few more players into the rotation than they did last year.
|Minnesota Defensive Line 2010|
Grade: 1/5. This unit was so unbelievably bad last year. Like, Eastern Michigan bad. The only hope is for addition by subtraction (of the previous coaching staff). The best pass-rusher is out the door on the worst pass-rushing defense in America, and it's going to take a miracle for anything better than mere incompetence here. There's some hope in that the starters all have experience and Wilhite's sophomore slump may have been a schematic issue, but these guys as a group were just plain bad last year. Plugging in a bit of new blood should help Jerry Kill and Co. build toward the future, at the very least.
All three of last year's starters return, with Honorable Mention All-Conference selection Gary Tinsley - pictured at right - the headliner at SLB. Redshirt juniors Mike Rallis (middle) and Keanon Cooper (weakside) are also returning starters, with starting experience sprinkled in among the backups as well. Spencer Reeves and Ryan Grant also got some serious time with the ones last season. The X-factor is Florida transfer Brendan Beal, who has the ability to play any of the starting positions.
|Minnesota Linebackers 2010|
Grade: 3/5. This unit was nowhere near as bad as the defensive line last year - though they're obviously not blameless for the terrible run defense and pass rush. With everybody back (including Phil Steele 3rd-Team All-Conference projection Tinsley), and the addition of a former 4-star talent in Beal, this unit should be able to improve. If the defensive line isn't as inept as last year, I dare say the linebackers have a chance to be pretty good.
Though the Gophers lose their two starting safeties from last year, it's not as bad as it seems, as 2009 starter Kim Royston missed the 2010 season with injury, and should return to the free safety position in 2011. Troy Stoudermire switched to CB during last season, and should solidify the position this year. The other two starters are question marks, but James Manuel is a good bet at strong safety, and Michael Carter was a better ballhawk than kyle Henderson last year, though he didn't make as many tackles.
|Minnesota Defensive Backs 2010|
|Troy Stoudermire (CB)||37||2||1|
|James Manuel (SS)||29||0||1|
|Michael Carter (CB)||24||1||2|
Grade: 2/5. If the pass defense wasn't quite so horrible last year, I might upgrade this to 3/5, but in fact it was. The loss of two safeties is never a good thing, but Royston would have started last season anyway, so he should be a better-than-adequate replacement at one of the safety spots.
Dan Orseske had a rocky freshman campaign as a punter, but he's back in 2011 to try to improve his performance. The kicking situation should be quite sketchy, with Eric Ellestad - no shining star himself - out the door. NC State transfer Chris Hawthorne is Phil Steele's prediction to be the starter.
|Minnesota Kicking 2010|
|Minnesota Punting 2010|
Grade: 2/5. The punting was awful last year (Minnesota was last in the Big Ten), and though there should be some improvement, there's a long way to go to mere competence. The Gophers' kicking was the worst in the Big Ten this side of Michigan, so unless Hawthorne is an unexpected shot in the arm, this unit should remain a big liability.
I guess I can't be mad at the Dispatch any more. Because we're doing it to ourselves:
If it motivates the players, great. I never want to see it again.
That's one way to put it. How are things on the Michigan State offensive line? Deep. Peachy. Deeply peachy:
Spartans depth sparks offensive line competition
This is their depth:
Converted defensive tackle Dan France has emerged as the leading candidate at left tackle, but the battle at center and right tackle are far from decided.
Redshirt freshman Travis Jackson and junior Blake Treadwell, another converted defensive tackle, are running neck-and-neck at center, while redshirt freshman Skyler Burkland and junior college transfer Fou Fonoti are fighting for the top spot at right tackle.
Er. France was flipped from OT to DT last year despite being 6'6" and now returns to be the starting left tackle. That is a hell of a position switch starter. This was his status in January:
"But in the bowl practice, I was struggling," he said. "I didn’t know the (blocking) techniques and footwork. I never had done pass blocking before. I mean, I sort of did (at tight end) in high school, but I didn’t have any technique or really know what I was doing."
Kirk Cousins might be under siege this year. Let's hope so, because if someone were to bold Michigan's secondary it wouldn't be much prettier.
Hey, here's a Michigan football coach talking. I wonder if he's going to talk about "violence," "toughness," "being physical," and "being consistent":
No, he mostly talked about cheese. Cheese and Will Campbell's pad level.
Of course not. Some news organization I can't be bothered to look up—oh this article says it's the Seattle Times—posted the shocking news there was a Pac-10/Big 10 "consensus" in favor of a plus one game. This was shocking for a little while until it was debunked. Or at least sort of debunked. Check out Jim Delany's reply to that:
"To describe the ADs as supportive, I would call that erroneous," Delany said.
Masterful weaseling right there. This on further expansion, at least, is a straightforward declaration they're not interested:
"No, we're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are," Delany said. "We've said we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion. Every period you look at it, but we don't expect anything the SEC does to affect us."
I'm increasingly irritated at the media reports predicting Superconferenceageddon without bothering to figure out whether adding teams like Pitt and Missouri helps or hurts the bottom line. The burden of proof is on people predicting unwieldy, tradition-hurting behemoths but all we get is "this is totally happening because it's an arms race!"
Yes, yes, TV markets blah blah. At times like these I think about Lloyd Carr in his last couple years sighing disgustedly whenever the subject of money came up in press conferences. He believed placing it above all other goals was destructive, he's looking prophetic at the moment.
Zing. I was just hoping Jerry Hinnen would drop some more twitter bombs on the SEC so I could post them up, and then he did:
Gotten the feeling that if Scott and Delany jumped off a bridge, SEC fans would gripe that Slive should have been the one jumping first. "We can't afford to react. You have to be proactive when it comes to bridge-jumping!"
Adding Nebraska had a purpose. Adding A&M to the SEC just dilutes it.
Downing disagreement. Retweets coming from Michigan Hockey Net and Yost Built over the course of the recent Five Nations tournament were rapturous about 2013 D commit (and team captain) Michael Downing. Examples from tourney observer @twharry:
The difference between Downing and DeAngelo is vast. I had no idea Downing was this good. He plays like a vet.
Michael Downing is having another very strong two-way game. Comparing him to Merrill may be unfairly lofty, but they are strikingly similar.
Breakaway going the other way. DeAngelo was way out of position. Luckily Downing was there to cover and Demko made the stop.
FWIW, talked to an ex-teammate of Downing today from CC - said he's the real deal, nat. skill set but little rough around the edges at times
When one of my friends checked out the Friday game he compared Downing to Nick Lidstrom. Apparently the US team was so confident in his positioning they would often send the other defenseman up the ice to pressure the Swiss. A local diary praised his game as well.
So of course a couple scouting reports are mixed at best, contradict the above, and contradict each other. WCH:
Michael Downing has had a very good summer--including locking down a scholarship to Michigan--which has helped turn him into one of the top defensive prospects in the US for his age group. He appears to have loads of potential with a big frame and nice skating, but still has a pretty long ways to go when it comes to decision-making and handling the puck. The pace of play here looked a little faster than what he was used to, which took him out of his comfort zone and forced him to make some bad turnovers. Not many players have things completely figured out by age 16 though, and with a little more experience, he has a chance to develop into a very nice player.
And the United States of Hockey:
Michael Downing - Canton, Mich. — The big defenseman served as the captain for this U.S. outfit. He’s pushing 6-foot-3, but has some good mobility and offensive instincts. Despite the size, however, Downing was getting out muscled and hit hard by smaller players. The more muscle he can tack on, the better in the coming years. He’ll also need to do a better job in his own end, but he appeared to improve defensively as the tournament went on. Despite the defensive deficiencies, I really liked his offensive game. If he can develop defensively, he could be a. pretty solid blueliner down the road. Draft eligible in 2013
Another Burns tweet did mention Downing needs to fill out quite a bit, so at least there's some consistency there. Downing maintains he's 110% committed to Michigan and is not a goalie, so he'll probably show up. I'm actually drawing a blank on the last Michigan D commit to skip out for the OHL before he hit campus. Seems like it's a F/G thing.
The Blip …is what I called the 2008 Wisconsin game in last year's Plays of the Decade feature. It was a briefly intoxicating lie about how good that team could be that presaged the less brief but no less deceitful starts the next two years; as such it's both an emblem and an enormous outlier.
Holdin' the Rope takes us way back when:
I sat and wondered how we could spring a comeback from so much flailing incompetence. I had faith, but it was that kind of belief that eats at itself if exposed to the light.. It's propped up by rubber bands and paper clips and a little bit of measured delusion and naivete.
Somehow, Michigan pulled itself together and willed themselves through a halfway decent touchdown drive in the third quarter, capped by Kevin Koger's first touchdown reception. A promise of a bright future. Michigan went down the field on the arm of Steven Threet, the legs of Sam McGuffie and Kevin Grady, and the hands of Martavious Odoms and Greg Mathews. Greg's last name only had one "t," but people managed to always get it wrong, and they probably still do. This wasn't Henson, Terrell, Walker, and A-Train. It wasn't Henne, Manningham, Arrington, and Hart. It wasn't Navarre, Braylon, Avant.
Etc.: Notre Dame is taking its sweet time figuring out where its hockey team is going to hang out. MGoMix is going with songs 1-5 and 6-10. Trailer for the Willis Ward movie is good. Shakin' the Southland's DrB talks 3-4, 4-3 under, and multiple fronts. Money quote:
In the one-gap 3-4, you have a blend of the 4-3 and the older two-gap system. You can take a guy that is a ‘tweener’ and put him at DE or OLB. You can take heavy interior linemen that are skilled at pass rushing, and put them at DE positions even if they don’t run 4.6-4.7 in the 40. The fact that it is a one-gap system and easier to teach means they can rush the passer without regard for the linebackers and put what talent they do have to good use.
I do not advocate the one-gap 3-4 over the 4-3, each has its uses. I do prefer the one-gap over the 2-gap version because it disguises the bubbles in the front better, and is simpler to teach. I'm all for adding fronts that simply teach guys new places to stand without actually changing everything they're doing. In most cases, the fronts are exactly the same, but with different personnel.
Previously: CB Greg Brown, CB/S Tamani Carter, CB Blake Countess, CB Delonte Hollowell, CB Raymon Taylor, LB Antonio Poole, LB Desmond Morgan, LB Frank Clark,
LB Kellen Jones, DE Keith Heitzman, DE Chris Rock, DE Brennen Beyer, and OL Jack Miller.
|Tampa, FL - 6'4" 340|
|Scout||3*, #45 OT|
|Rivals||3*, NR OG|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #34 OT|
|Others||247: 3*, 86, NR|
|Other Suitors||USF, Missouri, Texas Tech, Tennessee|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim.|
|Notes||Some other Tony Posada is the "worst witness ever."|
No highlight film, but here's Posada auditioning for the rugby team:
He's the enormous guy wearing #75 pushing that pile into the endzone.
Tony Posada is one of two very large persons Rich Rodriguez recruited just in time for Brady Hoke to deploy them as Wisconsin-approved donkey haters. It's unknown why Rodriguez decided to grab not one but two 340-pound mashers in his final recruiting class, but whatever the reason he's given Michigan a bit of a head start at guard as it transitions back to MANBALL.
Eventually, anyway. Three-forty is not a good weight to be if you want to play early. In high school he was listed at 320 or even 310. While 320 is the weight at which people start fibbing you lighter, not heavier, it's likely Posada put on some bad weight in the offseason. There is no weight between 320 and 340 that is good. And he was listed at 6-6 in these articles, so… yeah.
Further delaying his debut is Posada's actual height. It mean's he's a guard all the way. The recruiting rankings mostly declare him a tackle, but tackles aren't 6'4" anymore. Michigan has two junior starters at guard, so he won't be in contention for a job for two years.
If he's fit by then he's got a shot. A lot of people have written Posada off after his Godzilla-like appearance on the roster but his profile isn't actually that bad. Michigan offered Posada on Signing Day, before anyone else had. Texas Tech was his other finalist($); Missouri and USF were in the final four.
When Rodriguez got fired Mississippi State and Rutgers tried to get back in($). Posada actually took a visit to Starkville but decided to stick with Michigan after they threw him in jail for picking flowers. This is a Johnny Cash reference, not reality. In reality he is not from Mississippi and is thus unaffected by the local black hole. He also reported a Tennessee offer, FWIW. Florida said($) "lose ten pounds and we'll offer you," which is probably just a nice way to say "wait," and then he didn't and Florida moved on.
So that's a decent list of schools. Posada had more recruiting cred than Mark Huyge, who's turned into an on-and-off multi-year starter.
His scouting reports aren't bad either. ESPN($):
Posada has great size along with enough explosion and playing strength to dominate defenders at his present level of play…. Possesses enough flexibility to work out of both a two and three point stance showing the agility and balance to block quick on the line movement. Does a nice job when asked to reach front side with a quick up field first step. Can play on his feet in space however quick flow linebackers could present problems. This prospect demonstrates quick set ability from a two point stance; flashes good bend for his size, can slide and play flat footed to the deep set point without leaning in or crossing his feet. … arm length and quick hands should be an asset; does a nice job working to get his hands back inside the frame. This is a tough guy with an aggressive finishing attitude.
Even if he was 30 pounds lighter when that assessment was being made that's a thorough, positive evaluation with multiple references to good feet and "bend"—the lack of which has seen many highly touted OL flame out.
The Florida recruiting specialists at the Tha Ringer have a more reserved outlook:
- OL Tony Posada | 6'6, 315 | 2011 | Committed to Michigan
He best projects as an offensive guard to me, maybe a right tackle in a downfield running attack. His feet are really slow to get started -- speed rushers just kill him. Plays with a lot of intensity, but lets his emotions get the best of him at times. Loves to maul defenders in the run game.
Mauling defenders, you say? Brady Hoke points exuberantly!
Brady likes it
Scout's Mike Bakas has a similar assessment($), asserting that he is college-ready when it comes to the ground but will require a year or two if he's not going to get his quarterback killed:
He's very strong and has the ability to just maul defenders at the point of attack. … big enough where he could stand to shed a few pounds. He's not a kid you will often see 30-40 yards downfield throwing blocks. While he can manhandle defenders, he can also struggle against smaller, quicker guys who can give him troubles. He has more raw size, power, and strength right now than athleticism, quickness, and flexibility. … has some upside, especially in the running game, and is probably a couple years away from being ready to make a big impact in the passing game.
Coach quotes also play up the mauling. An opponent($):
"We thought maybe we had them but they made the decision in the second half to turn the football over to [five-star tailback] James Wilder and they just ran behind Posada play after play after play, and there was really nothing we could do about it."
Manatee's offensive coordinator also praised him for never taking a snap off: "When you're that big and as skilled as he is at this level you're just going to dominate and [your] biggest obstacle is really yourself because you have to decide how aggressive you'll be."
Citing a lack of film, Touch The Banner doesn't say much more than "dude is a guard."
Dude is a guard, and clearly a mauling, pounding drive blocker. He's going to have to turn a lot of bad weight into good before he steps on the field at Michigan, and it's possible his weight and pass protection struggle will condemn him to the bench forever. If he manages to slim down he could be the vanguard of This Is Physical Michigan.
His coach thinks that's happening:
"Tony's best football is ahead of him," said Plant coach Robert Weiner. "I mean he is on the upswing for sure and has gotten so much better year to year, even the last few months. He's a student of the game and has all the physical traits to be another great lineman at Michigan. We are all real excited for him."
Some people are jerks:
"We didn't know if he still had a scholarship at Michigan," Christine Posada said. "We had other colleges calling him and telling him that he wouldn't have a scholarship at Michigan and he should come to their school.
"They were scaring this 17-year-old kid."
Posada also believed he was a good fit in good Rich Rodriguez's spread offensive attack.
"I like Coach Rod's offense," he said. "The offensive tackle isn't squished next to a tight end at the line of scrimmage. It's a power football scheme that still allows you to be physical and dominant."
Why Alex Mitchell? Like Posada, Mitchell was big. Mitchell was reputed to be a tackle when he was a recruit but showed up monstrous and slid inside quickly. He then emerged into a starter and run mauler before his drive evaporated. He packed on pounds, quit the team, was begged back despite being ever more corpulent, and played during Infamous Carr Denouement.
Mitchell was higher rated but didn't pan out; Posada's career hinges on avoiding the hamfate that befell his predecessor.
Guru Reliability: High. Posada was healthy; scouting reports are consistent, rankings are pretty much in the same range; Plant is uber-scouted.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. The recruiting rankings and scouting reports warrant a moderate; coming in at 340 is a bad sign.
Projection: Lock to redshirt. Michigan has Khoury and Mealer at guard ahead of him on the two deep and while Chris Bryant is equally Weisian he's also rated a lot higher. After that he'll compete against Bryant and the incoming flood of freshmen for two starting jobs. He'll have a year on the freshmen, but they'll have recruiting ratings and their ability to show up at a more ready-to-play weight on their side. I'd say his shot at starting is 30%.
Apologies for the brevity of the updates, but I wanted to talk to a bunch of different people instead of going in-depth with anybody in particular.
Denard is adapting to the new offense well. He's getting the footwork down, and should be good to go by the start of the season.
Denard is looking forward to the opportunity to stay a little healthier this year, with less of a load carrying the ball on his shoulders.
Fullback John McColgan "is one of the toughest guys I've ever seen in my life."
The upperclassmen are the leaders in the backfield, but the young guys came in because they wanted to compete. Having a number of talented players back there makes everybody better.
Thomas has never had the opportunity to meet Mark Ingram face-to-face, but he really wants to. As a Flint guy, he really looks up to Ingram.
Even though Stephen had a couple fumbles last year, it was out of character for him. "I've never been a fumbler. I had maybe two in my whole high school career."
The new offense is a good fit for his skills, and he's looking forward to it.
The new offense is still going to put up points, because that's the goal of any offense. However, the pace will be slower to control the ball instead of running as many plays as possible, so scoring might drop a bit. That doesn't mean it's any less effective.
There are some differences for the wideouts going into the new offense, but it's nothing they can't adjust to.
There's definitely an emphasis on blocking for the wideouts in the new offense. If you can't or won't get out there and block, you won't play.
He's always had trouble being able to gain weight. He was on a similar diet as Ryan Van Bergen. The trick to gaining weight is to eat only the right things, but eat until you're full, and then just a little bit more. Sometimes, Taylor had to lie down in bed for a little bit after a meal and hope it didn't come back up.
It's exciting to be back down on the defensive line with his hand back in the dirt. "I don't want to worry about the past," but he's excited about the defense going forward.
It's been tough to play in a different defense every year, but again, he doesn't want to dwell on the past.
He had a relationship with Michigan's current coaching staff when they were at San Diego State. They had offered him a scholarship when he was a sophomore.
Matt had been planning to go to Boise State, but when Michigan hired the new staff, he set up a visit here. The plan was to head to Nebraska for a visit the following week, but he fell in love with Ann Arbor and committed to the Wolverines. Even though his visit was in January, the weather didn't bother him.
Jerald Robinson has great potential, and "doesn't know how good Jerald can be." He has good size and athleticism, and just needs to keep working hard to see that potential realized.
Jeremy Gallon has been impressive in fall camp. "Let's hope he keeps progressing."
The goal for the safeties is to not have a "second-best strong or free" safety, but have guys who are capable of stepping in at either safety position.
Jordan Kovacs is a tough, smart player, and that's what's helped him be a contributor here. That should continue going forward.
Thomas Gordon is performing well at nickel, and he's also trying to become a contributor at one of the safety positions. They want him to be able to do both roles. Troy Woolfolk is the same way: he's contributing at corner, but they also want him to have the ability to rotate in at nickel.
Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes have really helped push the others at the position to improve, because despite being freshman "they're coming in here like they're sophomores." He's as happy with those two as he's ever been with a pair of freshmen. (Fred kept returning to the freshmen, regardless of what he was asked).
John McColgan is a solid option at fullback. He's doesn't have the skill set of Kevin Dudley (glorified lineman in the backfield) or Chris Floyd (who had plenty of ability with the ball in his hands). However, he's a very smart player, and will get some opportunities, including in the pass game.
The left side of the line is mostly set: Taylor Lewan at left tackle, Patrick Omameh at left guard, and David Molk at center. On the right side of the line, there are pretty much three players for two positions. Ricky Barnum (guard), Mark Huyge (tackle or guard), and Michael Schofield (tackle) have separated themselves from the pack.
You always worry about depth, but it is definitely a concern this year. They'll have just a couple backups on top of a "solid top six." They're addressing depth going forward with recruiting.
Cam Gordon is most impressive in his love for football, and his strong desire to improve his game and get better.
There are a lot of players on the defensive line who are versatile enough to play multiple positions. Craig Roh, Jibreel Black, and others could see a bit of time on the inside, even though they're primarily defensive ends.
Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark are some impressive freshmen. (Note: Seeing Clark, he was taller than I thought, but also much skinnier: he looked like the second coming of Davion Rogers - OK, maybe not that skinny. Still, it sounds like he'll have an opportunity to play this year).
They are alive. HD scoreboard what:
It's so lovely.
Also there is a ton of video from Media/fan day. Choosing one at random:
Choosing a second:
And LB coach Mark Smith pronouncing Marell Evans's first name "MAH-rell":
There's also fluff, JT Floyd, Craig Roh, Mike Cox, Junior Hemingway, Taylor Lewan, Stephen Hopkins, DBs coach Curt Mallory (who still gets asked about Denard despite being the DBs coach), and RB coach Fred Jackson (who talks up the freshmen and describes the offense as "West Coast").
And then there's Countdown to Kickoff talking to Mike Shaw, and Rivals has a full transcript of the presser Tim covered yesterday. Also MVictors took pictures. Matt Wile has a big forehead, all the better to kiss expansively when he makes a 32-yarder. Tim's also got his assistants/players recap in the hopper; that will be coming up this afternoon.
I haven't found this in a linkable form yet but the buzz yesterday was that Frank Clark was quickly moved to WDE and Brennen Beyer was flipped to SLB—an inversion of what they were expected to do. We'll see if that sticks.
Other things Fred Jackson said. I've been shepherding select Fred Jackson quotes for the season preview in order to throw a little cold water on the Rawls/Hayes hype train but what the hell, you'll probably forget about it in two weeks anyway: last year he said Stephen Hopkins was "another Chris Perry, except I don't know if Chris Perry was ever 230 pounds." So when Fred Jackson says this…
"Every day they come to work, they know they got to bring their lunch pails because the freshmen are coming out there like they're sophomores," Jackson said.
"Those two freshmen have made the whole room different because now the upperclassmen look around and know the competition is way beyond where they expected it to be (during spring practices)."
…I'm maybe not 100% convinced.
When Fred Jackson says this…
"I got a guy who's going to be a great third-down back for us," Jackson said. "I don't want to say right now who that guy is because I'm still trying to develop depth at the position.
"But the first game, you'll see who that is. I promise you, you'll see who that is."
…though, I believe him because that's obviously Vincent Smith. That would seem to take him out of the running to be the primary guy. I'm still betting on Shaw or Hopkins.
Schwing? Here's one of Scout's national analysts sort of kind of saying Michigan might have a lead-type substance for Mitch McGary:
*There was some clarity given to the Mitch McGary recruitment this week with him narrowing it down to six schools. As we said in the last recruiting report, the school most consistently mentioned by people close to the situation is Michigan. Now does that make the Wolverines the leader, not necessarily, but they are in as good a position as any school in his top six.
This weekend McGary is scheduled to go down to Florida to check things out. This will be an unofficial visit, and McGary’s first trip to the Gainesville campus. Look for another unofficial to Michigan before it is all said and done, and then probably two or three official visits once he gets back to Brewster.
I'll take it! McGary's supposed to wrap his recruiting up by October. Adding him may or may not amplify a scholarship crunch that may or may not exist in 2013. He's widely believed to be a one-and-done; if he does end up committing and sticking around it seems like the only thing that will create a serious issue is Hardaway also sticking around for four years.
BONUS: GRIII has moved up to #39 in Scout's latest rankings. Outrage: no Stauskas.
Fourteen is less than twelve. I have no idea why the SEC is going to bother with Texas A&M. I guess media markets and all that—the constant battle to make more money will not cease until every toilet is gold. But the sacrifices entailed are great. Instead of playing opponents in the other division every other year a 14-team conference will have a whopping two crossover games against a randomly selected set of seven teams. That's about three times a decade.
Despite this, certain SEC partisans are demanding the presidents vote yes even if there is no vote. Very postmodern.
Apparently the Big Ten is content at 12, and thank God for that. There were compelling reasons to go to 12—no more annoying co-champions, title game, etc.—but there is exactly one school that should prompt the increasingly inaccurately named Big Ten to bloat further. I refer, of course, to Wake Forest.
Demon Deacons or bust.
At least he's annoying. Brady Hoke has gotten the goat of the Ohio State fanbase:
I AM SO TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT BRADY HOKE. Did you know Brady Hoke "gets it"? He's changing the culture? On and on and on. What is so revelatory about the coach of Michigan has expectations this year? Have I been reveling so much in Michigan's despair that I've failed to realize just how pathetic they've become over the years?
I also get a kick out of how he's riding his Segway around up there (this is how I like to envision he travels everywhere) like he's the second coming of Bo Schembechler (who currently resides in the 7th Circle of Hell) when he's really a homeless man's Rex Ryan who has won as many games at Michigan as I have. Brady, you've been at Michigan for like two months, bro. Quit your posturing.
So as you're wincing when Hoke refuses to deploy "State" for the duration of his career at least know he's making people in Ohio peevish. If he actually wins some games there is the potential for helpless rage. That sounds fun. Let's do that.
In the grand tradition. Russell Bellomy on his decision to switch from Purdue:
I ended up choosing Purdue [on] June 1st. I’ll never forget that. But then
the best opportunity I’ve ever had fell in my lap. In the middle of January, I got a call from my head coach, and he said ‘hey Russ, Michigan called; are you interested?’ He left me that voicemail, and I was just like ‘is that even a question?’ So I called him back, and then Coach Borges ended up coming down here to my school, and then he came for a home visit right after that, and we sat here from about 6:30 on just sitting here talking, and on the way back to the hotel, he called me and offered me, and me and my dad were going insane.
I like to think of an enraged Danny Hope twirling his mustache upon reading that. I like to think of an enraged Danny Hope twirling his mustache in many scenarios, actually: in a sinking boat, catching his wife eating yogurt, at Stalingrad in 1942, upon discovering he will not be able to attend the REO Speedwagon concert.
"She knows yogurt has bacteria in it, goddammit. This aggression will not stand."
Etc.: The South Bend Tribune has details on what went down with Corwin Brown. You can have your very own Justin Boren jersey. Photo gallery from Maize n Blue Nation. Rod Beard is the guy who drew the short stick and had to interview random fans for their random opinions. I hate every single quote in that piece.