At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
OH Ath Frank Clark has committed to join Michigan's class of 2011. The Cleveland Glenville product projects to a number of positions, but is expected to play linebacker or tight end in Ann Arbor.
|3*, #33 TE||3*, 5.6, NR LB||3*, 77, #82 DE|
The sites are basically in agreement on Clark's size: he's about 6-3 and 210 pounds. ESPN's evaluation is mostly at defensive end, and therefore unlikely to be too useful, but here are the revelant words:
He is a physical kid and can be a solid tackler. He is active and defends the run well. Displays good upside as a pass rusher. He will attack half-a-man and while he needs to develop his pass rush arsenal he can be active with his weapons and can turn the corner well to get to the quarterback. There is some possibility that Clark could be looked at as a tight end, but we feel he fits well on defense and with some work could develop into a good college defender and end up being a nice little pick-up for a program.
It seems like they're in love with him on defense, particularly on the line (or as an outside 'backer in a 3-4, I suppose). This is particularly odd, given that the rest of their evaluation is "he's not polished with the skills necessary for a position that he hasn't played and likely won't."
Since there's precious little out there on Clark's game, I'll dip into the paid reserves a bit, to excerpt this ($) Scout article:
Also impressing was Glenville (Ohio) receiver Frank Clark. With a large frame, long arms, and a solid lower body, Clark looks like a prime-time D-I athlete. Clark moves well for being about 6-4, 215-pounds. Although not quite a tight end, Clark looks as though he can easily put on another 10 pounds and be a big redzone target. He jumps relatively well and has pretty good-sized hands. His concentration was a bit inconsistent, but when he worked, he is a very good player. His waist is not quite big enough to grow into a tight end and he is already a thickly built kid; he will come into a D-I program pretty well developed. Not a true burner, Clark’s straight-line speed is decent due to his long strides.
He is a very good athlete and moves well for his size, which is listed in the 205-210 range. Frank clearly has the frame to add the weight needed to be a college TE or H-back. His straight-line speed is reported to be in the 4.5+ range.
Frank runs solid routes and uses his body well to separate from defenders. Glenville is loaded with skilled players, so Clark does not show up a ton on film. His video from the Michigan showcase was impressive.
So, he's on the borderline between a wideout and tight end in body size - though if he's actually 6-4, and can pack on weight, he should be just fine. In terms of skill set, he seems like a hybrid TE/WR, as he performed mostly as a wideout at camps, and it doesn't sound like he's done a lot of blocking.
Rivals credits Frank with offers from Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Cal, along with a trio of MAC schools. Scout says he also had interest, but no offers, from Penn State and Pitt. He also heard (briefly) from Ohio State, but his chance for an offer disappeared when Ryan Shazier committed to the Buckeyes.
Michigan (offered in December), Michigan State, and North Carolina were Clark's final three.
ESPN has some stats:
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Clark played outside linebacker and tight end during his senior season. He made 70 tackles including 19 sacks while catching 12 passes with three touchdowns.
Not bad, especially for a team that has playmakers at every position.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits Clark with a 4.53 40-yard time. That is very impressive for a guy that ESPN ranks as a defensive end, and would even be a pretty good time for, say, a strong safety. I'm pleased to present it with four FAKEs out of five.
There doesn't appear to be any video of Clark on Youtube or even on ScoutingOhio. That's pretty rare, especially for a guy from a program as high-profile as Cleveland Glenville. If you can find any out there, let me know.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With fellow recent commit Keith Heitzman expected to find a home on the defensive line, Clark is almost certain to be a tight end at Michigan. Depending on the status of Brandon Moore, who has yet to see the field, that could mean a redshirt for Frank. After a redshirt season, he and Moore will be the only tight ends on the roster (barring further commitments, of course), and he should see serious playing time with the two-tights leaning of the new staff.
Frank will always be a bit on the smaller side for a tight end, given what the recruiting services have said about him, so he'll be more of a pass-catching threat than a devastating blocker. However, that means stats should come, and with them accolades. Clark has All-Big Ten potential before he leaves Ann Arbor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wooo! Michigan got a tight end! That was a huge need in this class, and Mr. Clark's commitment makes it less of a pressing issue. The coaching staff is still going hard after TX TE Chris Barnett as well. Barnett is more of a true tight end, and is probably more ready to play right away than Clark is.
Going forward, Clark gives Michigan a foot in the door at the notoriously impenetrable Glenville Academic Campus, which pumps out top prospects on a yearly basis.
Getting started around 7AM. We'll be running most of the day, at least until after the 2PM press conference. We won't shut it down while there is a good possibility any prospects will pick Michigan today.
Former Hawk Jerry Montgomery, who joined new IU staff, now appears headed to Ann Arbor to join Brady Hoke's staff. Tough break for Hoosiers.
The "tough break" bit is that Indiana hired him three weeks ago*.
Montgomery is a former Hawkeye defensive lineman who's only coached DL, was set to coach Indiana's line, and has no experience with DBs. It's safe to assume this is the guy who should stop in Ann Arbor only to drop off signed LOIs and if at all possible be Beyonce.
He's not Beyonce, but he played at Iowa recently enough to have a bio from his playing days on the internet and rocks a soul patch whether he's friendly or srs:
In fact, he's a few months he's younger than I am. This is terrifying personally; from a program standpoint it checks off the "knows what Adult Swim is" and "isn't from Minnesota" boxes with a guy who's worked his way up the ladder quickly. In 2006 Montgomery was a grad assistant. In 2007 he got his first job as Northern Iowa's DL coach. From there he's moved from UNI to Wyoming to Indiana to Michigan in under five years. He's a tautological up-and-comer and hopefully someone we'll see referenced in recruiting articles every twenty seconds.
Michigan's got one more spot left for a DBs coach; the much-rumored name there is former Wolverine Chuck Heater. Heater was literally just announced as Steve Addazio's DC at Temple, though. If Michigan was going to yoink him chances are that would already be in the works and Temple wouldn't be making announcements soon to leave egg on their faces.
*[Insert "they'd KILL Rich Rodriguez for this" bit here.]
If you had 36 minutes in the "how long would it take a Jackson to wildly overstate the ability of Thomas Rawls*" pool, collect your winnings:
“Honestly, I did get a chance to watch Mark Ingram a few times,” [Fred Jackson Jr.] told The Flint Journal. “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.”
He's like a Heisman trophy winner… except fast!
*[No offense intended to Rawls. All comments in this post reference the Jackson family's unique gift for shameless hyperbole and are not meant to reflect cynicism on the part of the author. The author legitimately enjoys this meme. He would find it sad if the Jackson family ever said a tailback was "okay." The author's life story was encapsulated in a Kids In The Hall sketch once. Hoke uber alles.]
Over the course of the recruiting process, MI RB Thomas Rawls has made it no secret that he'd commit to Michigan if he had the chance. Michigan has offered, and according to the Detroit News, Rawls will be a Wolverine. Apparently his coach was unable to contain the excitement until Thomas's press conference, at which Rivals confirmed he committed to Michigan.
|3*, #77 RB, #15 Instate||3*, 5.6, #20 Instate||3*, 76, #81 RB|
The sites are in agreement: Thomas Rawls stands 5-10, and about 215 pounds. Their rankings of him aren't very high, but there are some reasons for that. Scout openly downgrades players for being academic risks (which is stupid, because it's easy for the layman to tell whether or not he ultimately enrolls at school - rankings should be about skill, not some abstract "value" parameter), and ESPN says that he deserves to see his stock higher than it is, apparently not realizing that they're the ones ranking these kids. More from ESPN:
He is a 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. Displays good explosive out of his cuts and can change speeds to elude.
So far, so good. Weaknesses?
Breaks consistent first contact but did not see the pile pushing power we were expecting. Competition at times appears inferior.
So, uh "AWESOME, except he plays against crappy competition" means he's the 81st-best RB in the country? Color me skeptical on their methodology (more on it in the next section). They also say he has the speed to break big runs against high schoolers, but may not be able to continue at the next level - a more reasonable criticism.
If that's the extent of their criticisms, sign me up for a guy with the upside that a bowling ball-type guy with all the positive attributes listed in the top section.
Scout asks Rawls to talk about his own game:
“I’m a power back and a speed back. I’m also pretty elusive. I can break tackles and always find a crease.”
The elusiveness might be overstated, as that's one of ESPN's criticisms of Thomas, but the combo of speed and power seems to be right in line with scouting reports.
A lack of offers may have kept his overall rankings low, but somewhere in the 3-star range - just a bit higher in the pecking order - seems to be legit to me.
[Ed.: Touch The Banner may provide some insight into the rankings that ESPN's boosterism does not: "Many fans want to compare Rawls to Mark Ingram, the Flint product who won the Heisman for Alabama in 2009. Admittedly, Rawls and Ingram have some physical similarities. Both are approximately the same height and even have similar gaits. But Ingram (who was a 4-star recruit) is and was quicker than Rawls. Michigan fans might not like me for saying this, but Rawls reminds me of Kevin Grady."
OTOH, LeVeon Bell.]
Central Michigan was Rawls's only offer almost through the entire recruiting process. Though Michigan didn't offer until close to the end, they were always right there for him.
Why so few offers? His grades have been a question mark, and that scared away a lot of schools. He insists he'll qualify to play as a freshman, so hopefully it won't be an issue. The lack of offers is part of what kept his rankings low, so look at it with a critical eye.
Sophomore and junior stats from Scout:
Thoimas Rawls made All-State Honorable Mention, All-Conference and All-City for his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, he rushed for 1,056 yards and 16 TD's on 138 carries and recorded 101 tackles. He says he can bench 285-pounds, squats 405 and has a 34-inch vertical jump.
And as a senior:
1,585 yards rushing on 450 carries; 21 touchdowns
He broke the single-game rushing record that a guy named Mark Ingram held for the Flint area, running for 343 yards and 5 TDs.
FAKE 40 TIME
4.5, per the premium sites. That's pretty darn good for a running back with Rawls's size. Of course, his reputation is as a guy who's pretty fast for his size, so I guess it makes sense. Three FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan is in need of a power back, especially with the move to a pro-style offense. Michael Cox has shown flashes, but those have only been against the worst competition on the schedule. The previous coaching staff didn't trust his blocking or hands enough to play him on any regular basis.
However, Stephen Hopkins may have a lock on the starting (power back) position, and as an academic risk, it's probably for the best that Rawls takes a redshirt year to focus on academics and adjust to college life. That will also give him the chance to undergo a year of college weight training, and get acclimated with the playbook before he's ever expected to do anything on the field.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan really needs a defensive tackle and a tight end, but everything else going forward is pretty much gravy. There are five prospects - Fisher, Clark, Willingham, Barnett, and Cooper - still out there (that we know of), and the Wolverines should have room in the class to take them all, should they be so lucky.
Darius Morris had a triple-double against Iowa—just the third in the program's history—and I managed to completely omit any mention of this when I talked about the game. In an effort to repair the fail here it is in its entirety thanks to UMHoops and Josh Houchin:
It got fancy in there for a moment. Almost as if someone was… dancing.