Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
5'11", 185 lbs.
Johnathan is one of the Chaminade prospects that Michigan is after. WR Spiffy Evans is the other; Michigan was also recruiting QB Jerrard Randall before he committed elsewhere. Aiken and Evans were going to try to make it up to Michigan this summer, but that's not going to be happening. Good news is that Johnathan knows he will be taking an official visit to Michigan. I asked him if he was 100% positive he will be using an official on Michigan, he had this to say.
We just haven't had time to plan anything to get to Michigan for the summer. The official is 200% happening. Michigan is definitely in my top five. Spiffy (Evans) and I are trying to plan it so we can come together.
If you notice he said that Michigan is in his top five. That's a non formed top five as of now.
Michigan, UCLA, Rutgers, and West Virginia are my top four right now. That will probably change, though, it's just how I feel right now.
Michigan is in the current top four, and will most likely fall somewhere in his final top five. His mind isn't anywhere near being made up, so we will have to wait. His early enthusiasm for Michigan is a good sign.
6'3", 275 lbs.
Darian just came back from a visit to Virginia Tech, where he competed in their camp. It doesn't sound like they impressed him, since his tentative top eight below does not include the Hokies. Cooper has played his recruitment very close to the vest, and doesn't like to share a lot about what he's thinking. But I have to try and asked him where he was at right now, if there would be any movement in the near future. He responded with this:
I'm starting to narrow down my list, I think it's about that time. I've made some mental cuts, but nothing definite. This isn't certain yet, but I'm thinking my cut down list is UCLA, Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, NC State, and Georgia Tech. These were the schools that got on board earliest with me, too.
He stressed that this isn't a final list, just the schools that are sticking out to him right now. The conversation took an interesting turn when he told me that he would be coming out to Michigan sometime in the winter:
I'm coming up to Michigan in the winter to hang out with Delonte Hollowell. We met his family at the Big House BBQ, and the Hollowell family invited me back for the winter to stay with them.
That's a definite plus. The family friendship type bonds are meaningful, helping kids get a better feel for the environment and the school itself. A lot of times with kids that are considering schools away from home it helps their family know they'll be safe if they've made bonds with other families like this. No one knows which way Darian is leaning, but I'm willing to bet Michigan makes his top five eventually.
6'5", 330 lbs.
Bryant was recently offered by Michigan, which was a big deal to him. Chris is teammates with big (literally and metaphorically) 2012 offensive line prospect Jordan Diamond. They've talked about going to school together, and they're both very high on Michigan. Bryant:
I'm really excited about Michigan. I haven't narrowed down my list yet, but I will soon. Michigan is definitely in my top group, though.
Stanford could potentially be an obstacle for Michigan, as he recently took a trip to Palo Alto and really enjoyed himself. The Wolverines seem to have an edge so far, though, as Bryant has been a frequent visitor and has openly campaigned for a block M offer. The last time Bryant was at Michigan his parents didn't get to come with him, so they thought they would fix that:
I'm coming up to Michigan again in the next week or two. My parents never got to see anything, so they're coming up with me. We just want to get to know the coaches a little better, and get a better feel for them.
I talked a little with Jordan Diamond about Chris, and Jordan told me that they're both really liking Michigan right now. If Chris chooses Michigan, it will have a real impact on Jordan's decision.
- OL Jake Fisher committed yesterday. He told me a few days prior to his announcement that he couldn't tell me who he chose, but that he "really likes blue gatorade."
- RB Demetrius Hart is taking his official visit for the UConn game on September 4th.
- 2012 QB Nick Patti, teammate of Demetrius Hart, will also be at the UConn game. Patti enjoyed his recent visit, and Michigan has a good shot here. If he can grow a couple inches, he'll start getting recruited far and wide.
- OL Cyrus Hobbi really enjoyed his visit to Michigan.
- The next big visit for Michigan will be on July 29th when Texas LB Kellen Jones and his father come up. Kellen is a pure middle linebacker that Michigan has a great shot at since his father passed on his fandom to his son, which is fortunate given how linebacker is a position of need. He's athletic enough to line up outside or in, but projects to the middle at the next level.
- OL Tony Posada from Tampa, Florida will be announcing his decision soon. If Florida doesn't offer, then Michigan is in the driver seat. If Florida does offer then he'll probably stay home.
MI OL Jake Fisher has committed to Michigan. As he told Tom, this was basically a done deal as far back as a couple weeks ago:
"The last visit was just to make sure really. I basically already knew, but my dad didn't get to really see the campus (at Michigan), so I showed him around." "He really liked it as much as I did. The coaches are really awesome, and I just knew that's where I wanted to go."
And with that, let's skip to the...
|4*, #25 OT #6 Michigan||3*, 5.6, NR OT, #18 Michigan||NR OT|
Fisher is currently under-the-radar, not receiving a position ranking from Rivals, and no rating or ranking of any sort from ESPN. The main reason for that is his future position. He played tight end for Traverse City West last year, but is expected to fill out and become an offensive tackle in college.
High school tight end growing into a tackle. Is already strong, considering he still has room to fill out, and he uses that strength to drive and finish defenders. Sets up with a good base in pass protection and does well against the bull rush. Is a high effort, high intensity tough guy who looks to bury his man. Has a great frame, is a good athlete for his size, and really only needs to learn the position.
The Scout profile also lists "flexibility," "nasty streak," and "size" as his strengths (I imagine size doesn't include his weight, which is is only around 260 at this point), and only "technique" as a weakness. Local fluff:
Fisher plays tight end for TC West last year, but has grown from 6-4 to 6-7 and gained more than 60 pounds. He'll return to the end position for his senior year of high school, but will move to tackle at college.
Note that he's still playing a different position his senior year of high school than he will in college. That will keep his ranking low, as scouts won't have the opportunities to evaluate him. His coach notes that his speed has improved over the summer, allowing him to become a BCS-level prospect:
"Jake worked hard on his speed training," Wooer said. "I told the kids the proof is in the pudding. Here's a kid that went from playing at a MAC school in front of 20,000 to playing in front of 100,000 because of his efforts in the weight room."
Wooer also talked to the local paper about Fisher in May:
"He's an athlete," Wooer said. "In his highlight video we threw in some of his dunks on the basketball court. People like to see that. They don't want to see a guy that's 6-7, 300 pounds and can't move. They realize if he's an athlete, they can teach him how to play tackle and teach him how to get stronger in the weight room."
That athleticism is so exceptional that, despite clocking in at over 260 pounds before his senior year of high school, Central Michigan is still looking at him as a tight end:
Most schools have looked at Fisher as an offensive tackle. But Central has expressed interest in keeping him at tight end while Western has considered putting him on the defensive line.
"That's kind of the dream to play tight end in college football," Fisher said. "(But) I would play anything. I just like football that much."
He's also motivated to show off a strong work ethic:
For Fisher, a motivating force has been following scouting reports on fellow recruits — such as Ogemaw Heights' Anthony Zettel.
"I look at their stats and try to compare myself to them," Fisher said. "I try to make sure I'm doing everything I can because they're working hard every day, but I'm working hard, too. I want to make sure I'm doing the same things, or even more."
Should Zettel ultimately choose the Wolverines, the pair will be able to compare each other side-by-side. With so little information on Fisher from sources other than his coach, we're left to sort through the tea leaves to pick apart his game. He has a good frame, and considering he's grown nearly three inches since October, there's a good chance he's still got more room to go. He's earned his BCS offers at camps, so the coaches (including Michigan's) had a chance to evaluate him in person.
Fisher started the year far under-the-radar, but has been impressive in just about every camp he's attended, and has built up a decent offer list for a mid-level prospect. He has offers from most MAC schools, along with Cincinnati and Sparty.
Typically, offensive linemen have no stats to speak of (at least at the high school level). However, since Fisher was a tight end and defensive end (and punter!) last year, he probably put up a little production. I couldn't find evidence of it though, so speak up if you come across it.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals pegs him at 5.17, and neither of the other sites have a time for him. He ran a 4.97-second time at Michigan's camp, impressive for a player his size. For now, I'll give it two FAKEs out of five. I imagine he won't be running times like that by the time he's the size of a college offensive lineman.
Junior highlights at TE and DE:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Fisher, like Taylor Lewan before him, joins Michigan as a shoe-in to end up at the left tackle position. With Lewan just a couple classes ahead of him, he'll have time to develop at the position, as well. Switching from tight end won't be easy, as it will require a serious reshaping of his body, and learning a lot of new technique. After a redshirt year to take care of those factors, Fisher may be thrust into the action.
Taylor Lewan will be a redshirt junior coming off Fisher's redshirt year (as will Michael Schofield), and with no tackles in the recruiting class of 2010, a backup role right off the bat is possible. In fact, with the departure of Dann O'Neill from the class of 2008, and the eventual settling of Patrick Omameh and Kurt Wermers at guard and center, respectively, there are no tackles left from the class of 2008, either.
After playing a backup role for his first two years on the active roster, Fisher should be settled in at the position, and ready to perform at a high level in his junior and senior years. He has the prototypical frame, and as long as he puts in the hard work, he should be able to contend for All-Conference honors.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Weeeeee an offensive lineman! Fisher is the second of what should be several offensive linemen in this class, anywhere from 4-6. Michigan has been light on OL recruiting over the past few years (one in 2010, three in 2009, and four left on the roster from 2008), so this is looking like a serious makeup year.
At least one more tackle, and a couple more interior guys (in addition to center commit Jack Miller) are on the docket. The Wolverines have options like Anthony Zettel, Chris Bryant, Tony Posada, and several others, so they're in good shape to fill in where they need to.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DT Terry Talbott, and DT Richard Ash.
|Avon Lake, OH - 6'3" 263|
|Scout||3*, #11 C|
|Rivals||3*, #7 C|
|ESPN||3*, 79, #13 OG|
|Other Suitors||Florida State, Iowa, Stanford, Pitt, Michigan State, Northwestern, South Carolina|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Probably could have gotten into Michigan if he was 5'6".|
Christian Pace is the entire 2010 Michigan offensive line recruiting class. Those of you with fingers will be able to calculate the number of offensive linemen who play at the same time, note the number of people one person is (it is one), and grimace meaningfully at the lack of people just one person is. But that's another show. This one is about the one person.
Fortunately for your fingers and what they abstract, Pace seems like as close to a can't-miss sort of prospect you can get in a three-star. I usually don't advocate watching highlights but this exceptionally useful and interesting AMP piece on Pace is an exception:
If you're still allergic to video (or at work or something), Rivals's Greg Ladky says the following things:
Pace has perhaps the best tape—not highlights, tape—in the Midwest.
He's a perfect fit for Michigan's offense, which prizes agility over massive size.
He doesn't have that size, is therefore a serious longshot as far as the NFL goes, and this is an explicit factor in Rivals's rankings.
Those opinions add up to the most concrete reason to be more excited about a prospect's potential impact at Michigan than his rankings would suggest than has ever been ventured. They're also shared by many according to his high school coach.
"I’ve had coaches tell me that (Pace’s highlight tape) is the best they’ve ever seen, bar none, coaches throughout the country," he said.
And more detail yet:
“I had a number of college scouts tell me that might be the best senior lineman tape in the whole United States, it was that good,” Dlugosz said. “He’s a very, very physical player. He’s an individual that has tremendous footwork and he’s very agile. He loves the physical part of the game and he knows how to finish blocks.”
Interestingly, one of those coaches was very likely Rick Trickett, the Florida State offensive line coach/Full Metal Jacket devotee who was Rodriguez's OL coach at West Virginia before FSU flashed its thigh. The guys from Tomahawk Nation follow Florida State recruiting closely and mentioned to me after Pace committed that Rick Trickett was grumbling about letting him get away and how he could have turned that kid into a Rimington winner. Here's the version of those events from Bucknuts:
Pace didn't get four stars from anyone for a pretty good reason: dude is small. But the constant refrain from people who watched his film was that he was a nasty, agile center perfect for Michigan's zone read running game. A Florida State blogger I keep in contact with reported back that FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett, formerly on Rodriguez's West Virginia staff, groused that he could have turned the kid into a Rimington winner if he'd grabbed him.
Add that to the pile of reasons to file Pace as Molk 2.0: an undersized, feisty center who is a crucial starter but doomed when it comes to the NFL.
Rimington winners don't play tackle, but as per usual with D-I line prospects, Pace was a tackle in high school. Due to his Molkian stature he'll move inside in college. Michigan is going to put him and his enormous brain at center, where it will be best put to use:
"He finishes blocks really well, he’s also an intelligent football player," Dlugosz said.
"Christian understands concepts, when you tell him ‘we’re running this blocking scheme,’ he will be able to visualize who everybody is supposed to block and how he fits into that scheme. So he ends up being like a coach on the field. He understands those things really well."
Continuing the theme from earlier where the coach says something and then says pretty much the same thing:
“He’s very intelligent,” Shoremen coach Dave Dlugosz said. “Some players understand: I’ve got to block this player on this play. Christian can look at the defense and he understands the concept of the play, and he’s capable of making adjustments not only for himself but for the rest of the team as well.
“He plays tackle for us, but Michigan is going to move him to center, where he’ll be responsible for making most of the blocking calls.”
Another AMP video featuring a Pace interview confirms:
Also though Pace picked up 25 offers from various mid-level programs plus Florida State before his commitment, his final three were Michigan, Northwestern and Stanford. This was not a guy admissions cocked an eyebrow at.
At center, Pace will have plenty of opportunities to pass off a guy to one of the guards next to him and wall off a linebacker with his agility. As a high schooler he displays A+ mobility. ESPN's evaluation is a technical version of the above praise:
Pace is a very proficient run blocking offensive lineman. He is undersized a little in terms of height but is extremely strong and powerful. Comes off the ball like a locomotive and derails the defensive lineman on run blocks. Really dominates the defender on base and drive blocks. Fires out low and hard with a flat back and strikes the defensive lineman across with a jarring first punch. Follows the initial blow delivery with great leg drive; churns legs like pistons. Impressive reach and zone blocker; uses excellent footwork in gaining position on the edge defender. Runs his legs and keeps the opponent locked in; really works hard to finish and sustain the block. Very solid combination blocker that drives defensive lineman into the lap of the linebacker. Pulls and traps with authority; turns upfield and seeks out defenders in the openfield. … He has the aggressiveness and nastiness coaches look for in a lineman.
Similarly, Ohio Varsity calls him a "fantastic interior line prospect":
His agility is what sets him apart from most linemen, as he has the ability to get out in space and execute blocks against smaller, faster defenders. Pace thrives as a pulling guard and his film features numerous plays where he rockets out of his stance and immediately becomes a dangerous 265-pound lead blocker. Where he really impresses, however, is that he sees the field and when pulling he has a proper feel on when to trap/kick out the blocker and when to pull around and seal the edge.
I’ve said it on reviews of other linemen and I’ll say it again: I want to see elite prospects putting defenders on their back on a regular basis. If you have a 6-foot-3, 260-plus pound offensive lineman playing at the high school level, pancake blocks should be a regular occurrence. For Pace, it is. And I love it.
Both evaluations mention some potential dodginess in pass protection, which Pace doesn't do much of, with OV smartly noting that the transition from a tackle who never pass blocks to an interior lineman is a tough one that requires the ability to pick up all manner of stunts. Pace's intelligence should help him with that, and he won't have to play until his third year at center anyway.
Other than that probably-minor issue, the only thing that hold Pace back is his size. That issue kept Pace from the rankings those evaluations—heavy breathing even for recruiting fluff—suggest he should get. (Scout unhelpfully lists as it an "area for improvement.") Pace is optimistically listed at 6'4", 270 in several newspaper articles, but the official site has something closer to the truth: 6'2", 259. Even those tend to be burnished, which means Pace could be 6'1". That could be a problem when Michigan's offense isn't busy running away from behemoth nose tackles, which is infrequent but not unheard of. Pace's ability to pull might mitigate that, though; Michigan might be able to go power off tackle, using him as a 270 pound fullback instead of an overmatched center going up against someone 30-40 pounds heavier.
If he doesn't make it, his (very) relative shrimpiness will be the reason. But many, many people think that's a problem that will be overcome.
Etc.: Interview from after his enrollment. Commitment article with plenty of quotes but nothing hard. Want to wonder what you're doing with your life? Watch this video of Pace working out at a Pitt combine. Second-team All-Ohio in his division as a junior and made Ohio Varsity's all-division first team as a senior.
"It’s going to be an interesting transition with snapping and everything, but I’ll play wherever they want me to," Pace said. "The center makes all the line calls and reads the defense and gives the O-line all the calls it needs but other than that, I’m basically coming in fresh to the position."
Why David Molk? Obvious. Extraordinarily tight comparison here. Same sort of recruiting profile if you give Pace the benefit of the doubt implied by the AMP video above, same size, same position.
Guru Reliability: Low? Don't get me wrong, the consistency of the evaluations and Pace's profile indicate strong reliability but when you've got Rivals guys stating that he's a great fit for Michigan but too small for the NFL as part of their evals… well, I don't care about that last bit. I care about the first bit.
General Excitement Level: High. People are talking up Rocko Khoury a bit these days but he'll have a hell of a time holding off Pace after two years of schooling and weights.
Projection: Likely starter as a redshirt sophomore after Molk graduates.
We made a podcast over the weekend covering the latest in recruiting, both with players coming in and not making it, the spring game, the team this fall, and some extremely cheery basketball conversation. Significantly less apathetic slurring in this one than the podcasts towards the end of last season, but equal levels of disorganization.
BONUS disorganization: sometimes when you update things to keep current they break the hacky bits you've downloaded and inserted in order to get big files properly updated and then you grumble and fix it, causing things to be late.
Links of use:
This has been happening for a couple weeks now and I've gotten enough email about it to provide a front-page explanation: points have started to expire, which they do after a year. This is not functionality I put in intentionally but I might keep it around since it seems to make sense. But that's what's happening. If you get a snarky email about losing super powers but haven't done anything to warrant it, that's what's going on.
A comment revamp is coming and I don't want to touch anything on the site until that's up and going, so please bear with us.
Open house fluff. If you couldn't make it here are moving pictures that describe the goings-on:
There's also the version of Tim's post yesterday at all media outlets. MVictors has the best one because it has a picture of a fire hydrant wearing a hat. The Daily, meanwhile, provides a noise increase estimate that's more reasonable than the doubling that was initially proposed:
A 30-percent noise increase on the field level was also promised, which will be tested by a sound engineer early in the season.
I'm not sure why they couldn't have tested that last season when the structures were up.
If you just can't get enough, AnnArbor.com has a slideshow and a couple stories that have the same content in a slightly different package. The latter does have this entertaining quote about the 3k+ club seats:
"I came in here, and I was like, 'Wow,'" Neumann said during Wednesday's public open house. "Then they told me how much it cost, and I was like, 'Wow.' "
FWIW, nary a crab was to be found in the articles. With newspapers typically straining to get "both sides of the story" that's one more indicator that the Save the Big House folks are slightly out of touch. Speaking of…
I am so glad I already have a lolcfn tag. Outrage(!) spans the internets today after CFN's Pete Fiutak talked up Matt James as a promising incoming recruit. Matt James is no longer alive after falling from a hotel balcony during spring break festivities, so this is a very bad idea.
I can only say that I'm not surprised at all. Way back in the day I took a swing at finding all the errors in that year's edition of the Michigan preview and came up with a solid two dozen, and while I can't find that post from before time began here's something they wrote just last year about the relative strength of the Michigan defense:
The real strength will be at safety where some superstar prospects will combine with some established playmakers. That means veteran safety Steve Brown can be part linebacker and part safety in the new system.
That was ridiculous even before the season, when this blog proposed it as "the most incorrect statement ever uttered by a college football preview ever"; now it stands as monument to the magnificent pointlessness of human cognition. Also they declared Obi Ezeh's the team's second best player.
It was just a matter of time before they incorrectly identified someone who is not alive as someone who is. In CFN House, it's always lupus and the patient dies because it's not lupus.
Other things that are not true about Notre Dame. Via Orson, here's a breathless bit of frippery on Brian Kelly:
"Coach Kelly and the entire Notre Dame staff has been very aggressive in recruiting," said Mike Frank, the publisher of IrishSportsDaily.com. "They are getting the offers quickly out the door. They are organized and they grind it and work very hard. This staff is much more aggressive than the previous one."
This is not true at all. Legend has it that Corwin Brown once camped out in front of Martez Wilson's door after being booted from the interior, refusing to leave until Wilson agreed to sign with the Irish. It didn't work—never in the long history of that move has it been successful—but by God it was aggressive. Seriously, the one thing Weis did well was recruit. At least give him that.
Charles Woodson Called “A Hero” In Aftermath Of House Fire
…suggests Woodson just became hero yesterday. Pete Fiutak probably wrote it.
Anyway, Woodson and his business partner were just doing what any average Michigan fan might have done on a lazy Friday night: watch highlight videos of Charles Woodson and doze off. As per usual, doing this saved lives:
“The Charles Woodson 1997 highlight tape saved our lives, because that’s what kept us up so late,” said Ruiz. “Seriously, we were up late watching that tape, and that’s what made us stay up so late to find that smoke in the beginning. Otherwise we probably would have been passed out. I don’t know.”
They made a movie of the Todd Howard version of this, by the way.
Old Man Yells At Cloud. John Pollack's got one convert: Chicago columnist Rick Telander. His crotchety old man column complains about the amount of money spent on the renovations, says "you can't go 5-7" and "sure as heck can't go 3-9" if you're going to do that, and then pulls out more evidence for this blog's theory that everything written about sports in a Chicago newspaper is false:
In that 2008 season, Michigan got crushed at home, 33-10, by Toledo.
That's not a typo—crushed—and is only 20 points off on a game that happened two years ago. A bonus Fiutak follows:
Is it a coincidence that Brad Labadie, Michigan's director of football operations, just resigned?
Don't think so.
Rabble rabble rabble, and so it goes.
The usual array of losers. Generic complaint about college football scheduling that sees Michigan named the bravest Big Ten team because it's the one team taking on two BCS schools if we don't count Iowa State, which we shouldn't. Standard whining about faking your way to bowl eligibility by taking on Akron and three schools Akron would kill, as Indiana will attempt to do this fall. Hopeful muttering about rising prices for tomato cans spurring some actual scheduling from Big Ten teams, delivered more in hope than expectation. Continued calls for Eastern Michigan to drop its football program entirely.
Etc.: Ace follows up on his Bo team picture slideshows with one showing the team MVPs from 1926 on. Penn State fans survey their schedule and unanimously (though tentatively) pick Michigan as a potential landmine. I'll take it. An analysis of Nebraska's dominating front, which switched between over and under, last year.