Yesterday we hit the offense; this is the other side of the ball.
Campbell Or Someone Else, Except There Isn't Anyone Else
All eyes not locked on Denard Robinson Saturday will be interpreting any signs of life from Will Campbell as prophecy of opposing offensive lines' impending doom. The facts are these: Michigan has three lock starters on the line, a big hole at three-technique, and a very big man who was a very big former recruit on his way to being a very big bust who is getting personal attention from no fewer than three Michigan coaches.
Michigan has put all their eggs in Campbell's basket. Quinton Washington is backing up Mike Martin—and doing so unevenly—and the only other options there are redshirt freshmen like Richard Ash (also probably an NT if he's anything) and Terry Talbott (probably another year away from being physically ready).
There's almost no way he's not going to start. This makes me nervous because it makes me think about Pat Massey. Massey was 6'8" and never should have been anywhere near DT, but he had a good amount of starting experience when he was inadvisably thrust inside after Michigan ended their one-year experiment with the 3-4. He still ended most plays in a crumpled mess several yards downfield. He was the three-tech next to Gabe Watson; hopefully Campbell doesn't go down as Martin's Massey.
Looking for: my skepticism about Campbell ever performing well is established. If the guy just holds his own and doesn't get blown up on the regular that will be major progress.
Fearing: The third string center getting under his pads and depositing him in Kovacs's lap.
Will only believe three games into the season: That Michigan's previous defensive coaches were even more incompetent than we already believe them to be.
Edge Terror: Yes, Please
Craig Roh is entering his junior year, and the clock has started ticking faster. As a freshman he was incredibly undersized; as a sophomore he was incredibly miscast. Now he's in an upperclassman in an under front as the weakside defensive end—this is his time and place. On a defense wholly devoid of established playmakers other than Martin he is the player most likely to blow up. Michigan needs him to or it's going to be another year in which opposing quarterbacks can finish their crumpets in the pocket before leisurely surveying to see which receiver is open by yards.
Here Michigan actually seems to have a decent second option: Jibreel Black was a complete disaster against the run as a true freshman but flashed disruptive ability when teams didn't run right at him. Like virtually everyone else on the team he should have redshirted; if he had everyone would be talking him up as the next coming because they hadn't seen his shortcomings. As it is a big post-frosh bump in performance can be expected.
Looking for: one-on-one pass rush from Roh against Schofield/Huyge/walk-on. He has to be able to beat those guys if he's going to take on the Big Ten this fall.
Fearing: Here I don't think we'll be too disappointed. There are two good options.
Will only believe three games into the season: That they can't get production out of this spot.
Michigan's veteran linebackers have shuffled off to their futures. Since Obi Ezeh was replaced at midseason by immediately obvious upgrade Kenny Demens, middle linebacker is set. Ready or not, Cam Gordon will be the strongside LB. That leaves Jonas Mouton's old spot as the only other in the front seven up for grabs. Despite collecting all manner of safety/LB tweeners answers are few. Candidates:
- Mike Jones. Jones was the primary backup to Mouton last spring and was getting hyped up as a playmaker; one season-ending injury later there are grumbles he is too small and does not fit the position in a 4-3 under.
- Brandin Hawthorne. Yeah… so… Brandin Hawthorne hasn't seen the field in any capacity other than special teams yet and seemed destined for a Darnell Hood sort of career and now he's kind of the only option other than Jones because all the rest of the guys are participating in a pitched battle elsewhere. Speaking of…
- Safety war losers. Carvin Johnson, Marvin Robinson, and Josh Furman all spent part of last year at linebacker and part at safety; this spring they're all trying to fill Michigan's perpetually gaping hole next to Jordan Kovacs. While they won't be playing WLB saturday, if someone establishes themselves as the guy they will probably throw one of these three back in the linebacker pool.
- Oh, and Thomas Gordon. Some reports put Gordon in the WLB battle while others think he's in a distinctly separate boat of guys playing a dedicated nickelback spot. Gordon was a pleasant surprise as the starting spur earlier in the year and if there are few other options at WLB he might inherit that spot by default, flexing out into the nickel when other teams go spread. That would have some obvious downsides—dude is not linebacker-sized—but Larry Foote is not walking through that door.
- Oh, and… um… Marell Evans? Apparently he's back on the team after not playing at Hampton, and while he's getting some practice buzz that's so far-fetched I'm not even going to list it under things I don't believe because obviously.
Hypothetically, the WLB is the best-protected linebacker in an under front and can be a little fast guy who pursues guys all over the field. More realistically you can shield him a bit but offenses will find ways to make your tiny guy go facemask to facemask with much larger folks, especially if the three-tech spot supposed to shield him is iffy.
Looking for: A weakside linebacker that does not blow outside contain constantly. If I had to guess right now I would say Gordon gets virtually all of the time against spread teams and eventually ends up dragged into the lineup against the coaches' better judgment simply because he can play.
Fearing: A major downgrade—Mouton also turned in his fair share of great individual plays.
Will only believe three games into the season: That having Hawthorne in the two-deep is not an ominous sign.
Squinting In The General Direction Of Safety
Well… at least they've got some athlete type substances. They're weakside linebackers mostly but they'd be really fast WLBs. As mentioned, Johnson, Robinson, and Furman are all fighting to be Michigan's scapegoat this fall; there is no clarity as to who will come out on top. Johnson has the initial edge since he's seen the field, but most of that was at linebacker and last year when he moved to safety he ended up behind the leetle tiny Vinopal despite his tendency to look like Jerry attempting to tackle Tom.
As per usual, brace yourselves.
Looking for: Johnson to be as reputed: a bit slow but reliable and an excellent tackler. Basically a scholarship version of Kovacs.
Fearing: Fear? There is no fear, only the cold hard certainty Michigan's safeties will suck.
Will only believe three games into the season: There are no hopes out there to deflate, so we can take a pass on this one.
Oh And Bonus
Looking for: Ball through uprights; more realistically, the matriculation of Matt Wile.
Fearing: Not through uprights.
Will only believe three games into the season: that I can watch a field goal attempt without throwing up.
Keep track of Michigan's offers on the 2012 Offer Board.
In the World of Poorly-Kept Secrets...
OH LB Kaleb Ringer has made it pretty darn obvious for a couple weeks now that he plans to commit to Michigan on Friday. HOWEVA, reporter from the Dayton Daily News, that does not mean it's OK to publicly out the kid against his wishes. Epic douche move, bro.
Hello: Kaleb Ringer post will be ready to go at 6 PM Friday, when Kaleb announces his decision at a local restaurant.
In other potential commitment news, it seems like MI TE/Ath Ron Thompson's on-again, off-again announcement this week is off again as he hunts for more offers. Things change almost daily, so keep an eye on this one.
Visits galore, as is expected with the spring game:
- MI TE Ron Thompson
- MI TE Devin Funchess
- IN TE Pierre Aka
- OH OL Commit Caleb Stacey
- IL OL Jordan Diamond
- IL DT Vontrell Williams
- MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
- MI LB James Ross
There are also several "maybe"s out there, including OH DE Chris Wormley and OH OL Benny McGowan. Tom will update that post as he gets more confirmations are removals, so keep checking it out.
PA OL JJ Denman is visiting soon ($, info in header). He's a "maybe" for the spring game.
MGoHero TomVH was busy over the past week or so, interviewing a number of top prospects or their coaches.
A brief interview with IA WR Amara Darboh, who has been a little under-the-radar despite offers from Florida and Notre Dame.
Tom spoke with CO TE Evan Baylis, who recently visited Ann Arbor.
I was there for two days and got some good time with the coaches. We missed practice, but we got to see everything else. We met with all the coaches, saw campus, and talked to the academic advisors. The next day we went on some more tours and more personal meetings with the coaches.
Evan talked about his game:
I'm kind of intense, and I really like to get after it. I play hard for pretty much the entire game. I think I have good footwork and good speed. I like getting passed to a lot, but I also like blocking a lot too.
He says he'd like to make a decision by the end of the summer.
Here's what the head coach of WA OL Zach Banner had to say:
"He's a very good student, I see him as a business man or sports reporter. He's very charismatic, he's the student body president and he could be the President of the United States someday, he's that type of kid."
We'll hold off on discussion of how awesome it would be to have a president nearing 7 feet tall to get into the substance:
"I think he's really interested in Michigan, they'll definitely factor in. I think he's interested in them because his style of play as an offensive tackle is similar to some of the tackles that Michigan has had before. He's familiar with their history and tradition... I've encouraged him to look around, and I'd be surprised, I'd be real surprised, if he didn't take one of his official visits out to Michigan."
He plans to narrow to a top 8 by August, and announce a decision at the Army Game or on Signing Day.
PA DE Noah Spence told Tom he'll visit this summer.
I've always liked Michigan since I was younger, it definitely interests me. I like them a lot, the coaching staff seems real down to earth. We talk about everything, grades, football, and how everything's going. Not everything is football with them.
He wants to major in Kinesiology, so Michigan's excellent programs in that Division will be a plus.
Michigan is tied at the top with Rutgers for NY CB Wayne Morgan.
OH LB Joe Bolden is a Michigan lean, according to what he told ESPN:
"I'm probably a Michigan lean right now, I really like everything Michigan has to offer," Bolden said. "I like the coaches, and the academics are tremendous there. Coach Mattison is installing a new defense; it's a lot of the stuff that he did with Florida and the Baltimore Ravens. It's a good fit for me as a [middle] linebacker. Coach looked at me and said I had a pretty good chance of playing my freshman year if I worked my butt off."
He visited for practice yesterday (photo by yours truly on the practice field). He told Tom that Michigan commit Caleb Stacey is in his ear about the Wolverines.
"The first thing that stood out to me about Simmons was his skinny ankles,'' said Tom Luginbill, ESPN.com's national director of scouting. "He is nimble-footed and very athletic, given his size. But he is not a tackle, strictly a guard. For a 300-pounder, he moves around nicely and showed a bit of a competitive streak as well.''
"Jordan is physically gifted. He's the total package," Crespi coach Jon Mack said. "I'm just glad he's on our side and we don't have to play against him on a weekly basis. He's a tremendous drive blocker, gets off the ball great in pass protection, he can do it all.
He'll cut to a top 10 in September.
IL DT Vontrell Williams will visit this weekend for the spring game ($, info in header). Don't be surprised if the Wolverines are that "second Big Ten offer" he's nearing.
NC RB Keith Marshall has cut his list to a top 12, and Michigan has made the cut.
Michigan – Great Tradition and good school
(He's not kidding about "great school" - he apparently holds a 4.25 GPA). Also on the list are Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Stanford, and USC. Having a good season would be a big help in landing this kid, though Georgia sounds like a heavy favorite.
The offer train has slowed to a reasonable pace, but that didn't stop GA CB Geno Smith from receiving one on Monday. Alabama leads now (with Tennessee hot on their heels), but he won't even cut to a top 10 for a couple months.
The recruiting world jumped all over KY QB Zeke Pike after he was ejected from a 7-on-7 Tournament over the weekend, but Tom talked to him for some clarification. It doesn't sounds like as big a deal as it was made out to be.
NJ QB Brandon Napoleon will visit Michigan soon ($, info in header). OH RB Alden Hill will visit Michigan ($, info in header). Michigan is recruiting MI DE Mario Ojemudia the hardest ($, info in header). FL S Deon Bush will decide at the Army game ($, info in header). MI CB Terry Richardson will have a top 7 in July ($, info in header).
I'll keep 2013 updates brief until the 2012 class is a little more filled-out, but MI QB Shane Morris was the subject of Sam Webb's recruiting column in last week's Detroit News:
"Shane, for a young kid, has a really great arm," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "I saw him as a freshman and that ball came out of his hand with great spin and velocity then. He's started since that first season, so now he has the experience too... He'll be a kid that gets attention from all over, not just the schools within a close proximity."
With national interest bound to come in, it's good for Michigan to get on him early. He plans to commit before his senior season (which, I should note, is like 16 months away).
Elsewhere in 2013 news, keep an eye on Craig Roh's little brother, a standout WR/TE Jake Roh.
From reader Shane Styles, the gym at Minnesota's Rochester Community and Technical College:
Those who stay will in fact be runners-up at the JUCO division III golf national championships, Joel Swisher. Also don't ever set foot in Michigan because you will spontaneously combust due to ambient coach-rage.
Nothing will ever bring home how bizarrely intense people get about spring football than Orson's annual in-depth review of Florida's spring game. It's the closest he gets to being a conventional team blogger, a straightforward piece of analysis long enough to be a Marky Mark Mangino post livened up by Orson's tendency to call things a "boiled bag of rat innards". Orson is writing about defensive tackles. It is April and college football is bored.
Michigan's got one of those this weekend and these are the things I'll be extrapolating answers from the tiniest filaments of evidence about:
Is Can Have Tailback
Michigan's tailback last year was Denard Robinson and when it wasn't Denard Robinson it was people being enraged that Vincent Smith wasn't really fast or falling down past the line of scrimmage. This year some variety of pro-style offense will be deployed; having a tailback becomes significantly less optional.
- Vincent Smith, the 5'6" Pahokeean who was the leading non-Robinson rusher last year with 601 yards. He took 136 carries to get those—4.4 per—and struggled badly against anything approximating a good defense.
- Michael Shaw. Carlos Brown 2.0 averaged a full yard per carry more than Smith mostly because he got hurt after the Bowling Green game.
- Michael Cox. The Loch Ness Monster is reputed to be a stallion of a man capable of great feats. Unfortunately he is 50-50 to run towards the correct endzone on any given play.
- Stephen Hopkins. Hopkins had some fumbling issues and only ended up with 37 carries last year but his size made him an effective lead blocker for Robinson and his rushes promised a Minor-like downhill moose down the road. We're a bit further down the road and Hopkins's new head coach loves him some moose.
- Fitzgerald Toussaint. Toussaint has been vaporware in his first two years. Maybe he can stay healthy for the next twenty seconds.
There is also The Greatest Player In The History Of The World According To Two Jacksons. Thomas Rawls enters with the sort of hype you can only get by being a generic late-rising three star coached by Fred Jackson's son and recruited by Fred Jackson. Since he didn't enroll early we won't get to test the Jacksons' theory that Thomas Rawls encompasses the power of the sun and gently warms the earth each morning.
Looking for: A somewhat lighter, faster Hopkins with a grasp of what he should do. He's probably going to be the best back on the roster and he's now in a system that loves/needs a guy like him.
Fearing: Vincent Smith looks pretty much the same and still has a lock on the top TB spot. It's plausible that Smith's injury lingered into last season—remember he tore that ACL during the OSU game, so he had well under a year to get ready—and that he'll display a lot more speed and agility two years removed from it. If that's the case then maybe he can be a decent Big Ten starter. If he's still the same guy he was last year and he's still at the top of the depth chart and he's getting a lot of carries from the I when Denard could be doing something, guh.
Will only believe three games into the season: Cox as Herschel Walker. That guy is never going to play. He's a redshirt junior and couldn't get a carry last year even when half the tailback corps was injured and the rest was Smith and freshman Hopkins. And this is at tailback, the position where you can leap into the starting lineup on day one if, say, you're a human battering ram who runs like a gazelle. The only RB in recent Michigan history to get noticeably better late in his career was Chris Perry. Everyone else was the same guy they always were.
The Roundtree Question
What do you do with the Big Ten's second leading receiver when his production was predicated on the threat of Denard Robinson running and his position only sort of exists in the platonic ideal of a MANBALL offense?
The answer to this is probably "nothing." Borges said something about running a ton of three and four wide this season. Even if that's forced it sounds like Borges is going to roll with it, especially because his best wideout seems most comfortable in the slot—kinda need to have three WRs to have a slot—and the tight ends are sparse and stone-handed. Late-era Carr teams based out of three wide even after Steve Breaston had moved on to the NFL. Borges is more of a bomber than Carrbord and just spent a couple years running one of those "West Coast" offenses that throws damn near everything out there. So… yeah, expect three wideouts.
Okay, then, but the further question is: what will Borges do with the guy? Roundtree went nuts last year when the threat of Denard Robinson sucked safeties up and saw him stunningly wide open against Notre Dame and Indiana and Illinois and several other times besides. Can Borges run what he wants to run and surround Roundtree with nothing but grass?
Looking for: Michigan safeties to fail spectacularly because they can't decide whether to take Denard or stay back. If you can't do it to Michigan safeties you can't do it to anyone.
Fearing: Borges can't evolve the system to keep ahead of defenses and get those almost free touchdowns. I'm sure he can emulate QB Lead Oh Noes but Michigan had to keep re-arranging it to prevent safeties from showing up in the wrong place at the critical moment. Borges is a smart guy but his knowledge is in another arena. I'm not sure he'll be able to create as many opportunities with Denard's legs.
Will only believe three games into the season: Jeremy Gallon on the field.
Okay, You Run Power, But How?
Michigan ran POWER last year. They didn't run it much, but they did use it as a counter to the constant stretch action. It was fairly successful as a changeup. That move was part of the shift in Michigan's offense away from a true zone read to an odd QB-as-TB thing people called "QB iso" and didn't know what to do with—the AP put him on their All-America team as a "back." Like Rodriguez coming into DeBord's already extant stretch offense, Hoke is walking into a situation where his guys have some clue about what the new stuff is.
Unfortunately, we've seen bits and pieces of power plays run from under center in the practice videos that have invariably been stuffed. This is rock hard evidence it is not a good idea. So, like, what I'm saying is that if you've got Denard Robinson and you want to run power you might as well line up in the shotgun and run it with Denard Robinson, right?
A secondary question: how serious is Hoke about his distaste for zone running? He seems like a pretty hands-off guy when it comes to the offense, but if there's one thing he's stressed on that side of the ball it's that the team "will run power" and fullbacks will have their spine compressed and whatnot. This is something of a problem because Michigan has just completed the transition away from hampeople. Mike DeBord installed a zone stretch running game in 2006 and Michigan started recruiting to it. That first class was David Molk and Mark Huyge, now redshirt seniors.
Everyone recruited since has been either a relatively light and mobile spread OL or a prototypical left tackle. The prototype will be fine in any system; guys like Molk and Omameh and Ricky Barnum might not be. If Michigan spends the offseason putting beef on the interior line it might work out… or it might give them a bunch of tweeners not particularly good at anything.
Looking for: QB power.
Fearing: RB power.
Will only believe three games into the season: Michigan guards as effective drive blockers.
It was at last year's spring game that Robinson went from a freak show who should be moved to tailback to a freak show who should be in the Heisman running. He can't improve that much again without melting anyone who watches him, Ark of the Covenant style, but he was still pretty raw last year. He had bouts of drive- and game-crippling inaccuracy; he occasionally joined the Rex Grossman "f*** it, I'm going deep" club; he was restricted to a set of limited routes that teams adapted to as the leaves turned. He should progress. How much?
Looking for: Incremental improvement.
Fearing: Uncomfortable on drops and still prone to chucking slants well behind his receivers.
Will only believe three games into the season: hopefully that Denard Robinson can do anything.
Hello. What with hockey and dissertation and everything it was a tired, panicked last few days but go to bed at a reasonable hour and stay there for a good while and hey the sun's shining and there's a baseball game tonight. I've also got all these tabs; they're increasingly elderly but oh well.
Elsewhere in getting hammered in the temple. A roundup of post-championship reacts on the Michigan blogosphere. HSR:
The hardest part about the National Championship game last night was that there's no new lesson to glean from it. When you take penalties, you're going to have a hard time winning. When you can't get the puck into the opponent's zone, you're going to have a hard time winning. When you can't get a change in overtime, it's going to be almost impossible to win.
The Sun rose on Sunday in Ann Arbor. It was a beautiful, 80-degree day, the first such day after another long Midwestern winter. Normally I’d be pleased, but yesterday a picturesque spring day felt like a cruel joke.
"I think right now it's pretty tough to reflect on the season when you just lost a national championship game in overtime. If you're a competitor, you're going to be devastated," he said.
"You know the seniors aren't going to get another chance, and they've been the nuts and bolts of this team. Our young guys, they might think they'll get the chance every year, but it doesn't work that way."
So… yeah… if you were in the comments yesterday complaining that I was too down you don't follow the hockey team closely enough. This could be your reaction every spring, too! Season tickets! Get them!
Also in enragement. This is uncharacteristic of Berenson:
“Were they good penalties?” Berenson asked. “I can’t tell you what I really think. I mean, you can’t talk about refereeing and penalties, but when one team gets nine (power plays) and the other four, it doesn’t add up.”
He wasn’t done.
“We’re not out there to take penalties,” he said. “So every time a player falls down, it shouldn’t be a penalty, not in NCAA championship hockey.”
FWIW, it was only the third-period calls that I thought were terrible. The other stuff was either unfortunate, undisciplined, or plain necessary. Michigan took like three straight in the second and didn't call the ref a troglodyte who should be shot into the sun, so… yeah.
That last "boarding" call was some kind of awful, though.
The enlightenment comes. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd won't be suspended for the season, or placed in stocks in the middle of campus, or forced to wear a hairshirt for picking up a DUI. While that's not so good for Michigan's laser night game throwback spectacular it's closer to sane. Rakes of Mallow somewhat defensively posted a list of recent DUI offenses and their consequences and the consensus is one game unless you play for OSU. [Ed-M: My list is better.] Doctor Saturday:
If anything, Res Life's scorched-earth verdicts against former basketball players Will Yeatman and Joseph Fauria and basketball player Kyle McAlarney — all of whom were booted from school for an entire semester for arguably lesser charges than the trio of alcohol-related offenses on Floyd's record — were evidence of a policy far out of step with the mainstream. As McAlarney wrote the Tribune, the office showed "no compassion, no consideration for me, no feelings whatsoever." Yeatman and his parents also publicly objected to his suspension before his transfer to Maryland.
I'm with him even if I was pulling for a two-game suspension.
Feature thing. ESPN's spring feature on Michigan:
It's so bizarre seeing Urban Meyer try to be part of the media. I expect him to kick himself out of this interview. Also there's actually a lot of interesting* technique stuff in there if you ever wanted to find out what a DL coach does.
*[for a given definition of interesting, which is mine but probably not yards.]
Too cool to live. Free Darko is no more. Amongst the huge list of tributes posted I think Will Leitch is the one who gets it rightest:
Free Darko made me see athletes not as heroes, not as villains, not as humans, but as mythic, god-like creatures, comic and tragic. I don't mean God in a big man in the clouds with a beard sense; I mean in a "release the kraken!" sense.
They were perfectly suited for the NBA. I talked to Shoals a bit when we were both writing for The Sporting Blog; he was disappointed in his traffic numbers and disappointed in the weirdly disjoined TSB and seemed like a guy who was losing faith, getting ready to move on. TSB duly imploded and now FD is scattering to fancy magazine pages of the world.
Random insane NCAA decision of the week. Colleges can no longer subscribe to Rivals and Scout because they provide recruiting information not freely available to the public. The Bylaw Blog is kinda sorta incensed by the unintended consequences of what started as an attempt to reign in AAU coaches in men's basketball:
But it’s the reason Rivals is not a permissible service that shows the deeper underlying problem with the current recruiting regulations. It is not permissible to subscribe to a recruiting or scouting service that provides videos of prospects in non-scholastic competition, unless the videos are free and available to the general public.
The NCAA and its members have fought the growth of non-scholastic youth sports vigorously. Subscribing to video of non-scholastic contests is prohibited. In basketball, going to watch AAU events is tightly restricted. In football, coaches are prohibited from going to any non-scholastic event.
This has resulted in two things: the steady, continued growth of AAU basketball, 7-on-7 football, and all other club sports, and diminished NCAA influence in this area. By removing college coaches from many AAU gyms and football camps, it has become the lawless wild west that the restrictions sought to avoid.
According to Infante, the NCAA should "let go" of high school sports and reorganize around the principle that non-scholastic sports are primary. That sounds radical, but Infante makes a persuasive point: you have no control over something you have completely banned and lots of control over something you are working with. If two rival AAU tourneys are competing for players, the one with college coaches in the house is going to win hands-down.
Meanwhile, Rivals and company should expect a surge in subscriptions from coaches' wives.
Side note: Banning Rivals based on video of "non-scholastic competition" is a weird situation when a lot of newspapers are covering recruiting in more detail these days. The occasional camp highlight video hardly registers on why people subscribe to Rivals—if anyone actually watches video it's of, you know, football—and it would be interesting to see if one of the sites tests the NCAA by cutting camp stuff. Most of it's "Christian Cullen" running a shuttle.
Foot… ball? Yes, they still play it. No, there is no running back. A Daily article on the situation recycles some of Borges' quotes from his recent press availability…
“To say we have a frontline back, a guy we’re saying, ‘This guy’s the guy’ — we’ve had flashes of excellence from all of them and that’s not a decision we have to make today,” Borges said. “But I like those kids.”
…and alarmingly references Vincent Smith and Michael Cox without so much as mentioning Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins. Practice chatter has been silent on him even as guys like Cox, who has never seen the field for a reason, get unearthed and evaluated. Meaningfulosity? About as much as the rest of spring practice, but if you forgot what happens this time of year because you were paying attention to basketball and hockey, we get very very bored and therefore try to parse anything we can out of the faint whisper of the ghost of a tiny fraction of tea leaf that wasn't very large to start with.
The spring game is almost upon us, which means that the recruiting process is about to be in full effect. With two commitments under their belt the Michigan coaching staff could see that number jump very soon. Here's a look at this past weekend's visitor, a few updates on other recruits, and what the future holds.
6'4", 250 lbs.
Aka does not currently have an offer from Michigan, but has been trying to get on campus for some time. He was supposed to make the trip up last weekend with teammate WR/QB Aloyis Gray but the plans fell through. He made the day trip up on Saturday with his coach and was well worth the wait.
It was amazing. When we first got there we took the tour, met with the academic advisor, talked to the recruiting coordinator, then my position coach and Coach Hoke. That was the best part talking to the coaches. I actually built a relationship with them, which I haven't been able to do really with other schools.
Pierre would like to go into nuclear engineering so schools like Michigan and Stanford stand out to him. While he wasn't offered on this trip he did get a chance to talk to the coaches about what he needs to do to earn a scholarship to Michigan.
They said they could offer at anytime, but they definitely will offer if I do good at the one day camp this summer. They all like me, but they just want to see me catch the ball. They said that they only send handwritten letters to certain guys and I'm on that list, they just want to see me in person.
His coach felt the visit was a success and also told Pierre that he thinks Michigan is a good place for a tight end. Aka currently has offers from Arkansas State, Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami (OH), Northern Illinois, Toledo, and WMU. His team essentially only uses their tight ends for blocking, so there's no film of him running routes or catching the ball. If he does well at summer camps he could see his offer list grow.
6'4", 245 lbs.
Spence has racked up offers from almost everywhere and is five star in Rivals' early evaluation. I have done updates with Spence's father and his coach, so now it was time to hear from Noah himself on where he's at in the process.
I'm definitely going to take all my visits, I'm just taking it step by step right now. I'm wide open and just looking at everybody. When I go to narrow it down it will be through a lot of prayer, seeing what my parents like, and if I feel like I fit in with their system and if they have a family atmosphere.
As you can imagine narrowing down a list the size of Spence's can be intimidating and confusing. He has already started to take trips and is looking to the future to see where he can take in next.
I've taken trips to Maryland and Tennessee, and I'll be up to Penn State for the Blue and White game. I'll probably do local schools for now like Rutgers too. Once I have more time I'll go to the further away schools.
Michigan is one of the schools he and his family are interested in seeing over the summer. Spence says that's most likely when he'll make the trip to Ann Arbor.
I've always liked Michigan since I was younger, it definitely interests me. I like them a lot, the coaching staff seems real down to earth. We talk about everything, grades, football, and how everything's going. Not everything is football with them.
Noah and his family are very close, and his father has been helping him along with the process. So it isn't a surprise that Spence wants to make sure his family is comfortable with his final choice as well.
The school has to include my parents, because they're a big part of my life. It has to be all there too football wise and school wise. I think I want to major in kinesiology, but you're going to get a good education at any D1 school really. I'm not really looking for a specific type of defense, I think I can play defensive end or linebacker. The only way to find out if I fit is to go out to practice and look at the schools.
Spence plans on making his final announcement at the Army All American game which will give his suitors plenty of time to show them what they're about. Whoever lands him is not only getting a quality prospect but a quality kid.
6'2", 190 lbs.
West Des Moines, Iowa
Darboh hasn't been talked about too much but has offers from Florida, Iowa, Michigan, MSU, Nebraska, and Notre Dame among others. While he has some big time schools coming after him he says he's still in the researching stage of the process.
I'm trying to find time to go to the schools to learn more about them and see where I fit in. I don't have an exact date of when I want to decide yet. The spring and summer is when all the visits will start. I just want to go to the ones that are closer for now, then later on in the summer go out to the further ones.
The receiver position hasn't been discussed as much as the defensive side of recruiting, but Michigan is losing some big time talent after this season. Coach Mallory has been recruiting Darboh to try to fill those holes.
They said they like my character and they like that I'm a playmaker. I know Michigan has a great football program and I'm trying to learn more about them. I think I'm going up there after my Notre Dame visit. Coach Mallory talks to me about a little bit of everything though. He's friends with my head coach, Coach Wilson so they know each other well.
Amara is a competitive receiver and says he does whatever it takes to win. He doesn't currently have a top group yet, but hopes to have one sometime in the summer.
When I make my decision it's going to be about the connection with the coaches and the offensive system. I'm also thinking about studying business, so somewhere that would help me with my degree. I just want an offense that I have a chance to make plays in, that throws the ball enough to make plays.
Darboh has been out to Iowa and Iowa State since they're basically in his backyard. He plans on going out to Notre Dame for their spring game and planning other trips after that.
Ohio LB Joe Bolden is visiting Michigan on Tuesday [April 12th] with his parents. He was recently up to see Ann Arbor with his coach, who's his uncle, and his dad. He told me recently that he thinks he's closing in on a decision, and that Michigan commit Caleb Stacey has been recruiting him to choose the Wolverines. I'm not sure if Tuesday will be the day he pulls the trigger, but it might help move him towards his decision.
This is a very preliminary list and will absolutely grow as I confirm more names. As usual I will post a permanent list in the diary section during the week.
Ohio LB Kaleb Ringer (6'0", 219 lbs): Making his decision the day before, on Friday the 15th at 6 pm EST. If you haven't figured out what's happening you haven't been paying attention.
Illinois OL Jordan Diamond (6'7", 289 lbs)
2013 Michigan QB Shane Morris (6'3", 183 lbs)
Illinois DT Jaleel Johnson (6'2", 277 lbs): He might be coming up with Jordan Diamond
New Jersey DB DJ Singleton (6'3", 200 lbs): Not sure if he'll be able to make it yet.
Indiana ATH David Perkins (6'2", 209 lbs): Still hoping for an offer, might go to a different spring game.
Michigan LB Tyler Goble (6'0", 232 lbs): Baseball schedule might get in the way. He was recently out to a MIchigan practice and the coaches told him they want him at their camp. He's a former teammate of 2011 commit Brennen Beyer.
Michigan DB Terry Richardson (5'9", 160 lbs): If Terry comes it might be safe to assume that James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone will be there, I just haven't confirmed yet.
Like I said I will have more this week as I confirm some names. Stay tuned for that.