|Clayton, OH – 6'0", 220|
|Scout||3*, #35 MLB|
|Rivals||3*, #17 ILB, #24 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #23 ILB, #32 OH|
|24/7||3*, #20 ILB, #21 OH|
|Other Suitors||Illinois, Iowa, Cincinnati, West Virginia|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Nephew of former MSU running back Javon. Dad played at Iowa.|
When your last name is Ringer and you live in the middle of Ohio, football is your destiny. Kaleb Ringer's dad played for Iowa. His uncle is near-great MSU tailback alum Javon. His two older brothers were high school stars who play for small colleges, and his youngest brother is a rising middle-schooler who will play for Northmont when the time comes.
So it's no surprise that Ringer's recruiting timetable was accelerated. As a ninth grader he was already being listed at 5'11", 209, and running impressive 40s at camps. Max Preps named him a sophomore All-American. He became a captain his junior year. And Ringer was open about his Ohio State fandom, leading to some absurdly overhyped expectations from the locals…
Ringer is the real deal...could be that Ohio has the top LB in the country 3 years in a row (assuming DePriest keeps that title on Scout). Yes, he could be that good if he keeps progressing.
…that spread to Duane Long ("Hashmark to hashmark it is hard to not pick Ringer. He is physical and a physical specimen.") and even the recruiting sites early on. His coach expected he'd be a nationally-pursued guy:
"We've had a lot of good linebackers and he's potentially going to be the best one," Schneider said. "(OL) Zebrie (Sanders) was a big recruit and went to Florida State, and nationally he's the biggest guy I've had here. Kaleb I'm sure will be the same way. People are talking about him and he's got a couple offers so far. When September 1 hits, I expect a lot more to pop up."
When Ringer committed in mid-April, only Scout had gotten a set of rankings out. He was a four-star and the #8 MLB. His lineage came with capital-e Expectations.
For a variety of reasons, those expectations soon faded into a profile of a three-star linebacker who's around the 25th-best inside linebacker in the country and not amongst the top twenty kids in Ohio. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious of which is his size. He's listed at 6-foot-even or 6'1" everywhere, just an inch taller than was being claimed for him when he was in ninth grade. He's stayed about the same weight, too, and for a guy with a reputation as a between-the-tackles thumper that might be a problem.
While there is some disagreement about his ability to cover and get sideline-to-sideline, "thumper" appears to be the leading archetype. Touch The Banner:
He's a thick kid who can drive runners back into the hole and stop their forward momentum. He stays low and drives through ballcarriers. He also seems to do a pretty good job of wading through the trash to find the ball. However, the criticism I've heard most often - and something I agree with - is that he lacks a great deal of speed and athleticism in the open field. Ringer is not a naturally gifted, fluid athlete. He's your quintessential thumper. Typically, a kid his size would end up at WILL, but I'm not sure he has the athleticism to do what a weakside linebacker would need to do.
ESPN has a similar take($):
Ringer is a tough customer, displaying very good playing strength as a run stopper. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition. The strong wrap tackling skills we see should prove beneficial as a special team's coverage player. … We see good lateral movement to the edges however his playing speed in long pursuit gets challenged. When this prospect does step up his playing strength is obvious; does a nice job working through traffic, demonstrating the ability to maintain backside leverage. … We see a player with some playing speed limitations however one who plays with the motor and intensity necessary to make game changing plays.
Dissent comes from Allen Trieu, who lists speed as a positive and praises Ringer's range:
He may not wow you with the eye test, but put on the film and he's all over the field making plays. He's very solidly built, has a nose for the football and has legitimate sideline to sideline speed. He's also physical and can take on blocks. I have to see more of him in coverage, but he's a kid who could end up leading a team in tackles for several years in college.
Scout's Dave Berk's evaluation emphasizes a gritty tenacity and etc:
He shows tenacity in everything he does, and pursues and tackles downhill. He bolsters his run-stopping skills with the agility, quickness, and ability to drop back in coverage. He needs to add muscle mass, but, when he does, look out. He will be a good. The first thing you notice when watching Ringer in action is his ability to make plays. He shows gritty toughness with a hitter’s mentality from the middle linebacker spot. Kaleb is not afraid to mix it up. He does a great job of filling gaps and stopping the run. His ability to run from sideline to sideline and to do so with good angles makes him even more of a defensive weapon.
Why Scout dropped him from the #8 to the #35 inside linebacker is a mystery given that evaluation.
Rivals was all over the place in the three articles that scout him in any serious fashion. A Nike camp evaluation($) declared his "serious cover skills" and "hustle through the agility drills" were the most impressive aspects of his game while a take from Mike Farrell($) at the same camp says he's "a bit stiff at times, but has quick-twitch ability, can turn and run, and is very physical." An earlier game evaluation($) from Greg Ladky lists "lateral movement" as his main weakness. Rivals will sit in a corner arguing with itself for the duration.
Given the rankings I'm inclined to believe the less-optimistic aspects of the scouting reports above. Ringer did suffer through an injury-plagued senior year that may be partially responsible for his drop on Scout, but the other sites ranked him about where he ended up from the start.
But we've got more than that to go on after Ringer enrolled early and participated in spring practice. Hoke:
“He had a great spring. He had over a 3.0 (GPA). He did a great job from the academic side of it. He did a nice job of learning the defense. He was awesome. I think he can be in the mix (for playing time).”
He had one of those problems in space on the spring practice videos…
Play 7: Gardner makes a read, doesn't like it, and takes off. Kaleb Ringer can't quite get off a block fast enough to bring Gardner down.
…and also made a little impression in the spring game:
Kaleb Ringer had an impressive track-and-tackle on Hayes in the open field off a dumpoff. Next play he whiffed a tackle on Toussaint (I think it was him).
By showing up, getting good grades, and finding himself immediately in the second-ish unit he's cleared some hurdles between high school kids and playing time. It also gave some of the people who tell me things a chance to repeat the fact that Hoke and Mark Smith really like the kid, probably because of the gritty tough hardnosed bit.
Etc.: On committing to M:
“Of course you’re going to get that stink-eye look,” said Northmont High School’s standout junior linebacker on Tuesday.
“Like, what? You’re going to Michigan? But my parents, family and friends were very supportive. That helps in the process.”
Javon is not a fan of Kaleb's decision.
Per Ringer himself, Ohio State's lack of an offer wasn't about his play($):
He loved Ohio State, but on his fourth visit to Columbus, then-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell told Ringer that Ohio State hadn't offered him yet, "but it had nothing to do with football."
This pissed Ringer off and may have accelerated his decision to commit to OSU's main rival. If the issue was academic, it was taken care of quickly enough for Ringer to enroll early and notch a 3.0 in his first semester. If it was something else, it wasn't significant enough to put off a Michigan program that seems to be avoiding even slight character issues. Maybe Luke Fickell hates ringer tees.
Why Sam Sword? Sword was a quintessential two-down middle linebacker who was mean in the hole and not so great in coverage. He's listed at 6'1", 244 on his NFL profile, which is around the size Ringer should end up after the requisite time in the weight room. The concern is that the Swords of the world are dinosaurs in an environment of slot this and spread that.
If Sword's before your time, more recent linebackers Ringer might remind you of include Johnny Thompson and current MLB starter Kenny Demens, though I think Demens is surprisingly good in coverage for a guy who looks like a cube of muscle. It doesn't seem like that's expected out of Ringer.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Ringer apparently ceased going to camps after a Nike one between his sophomore and junior years and then got injured for most of his senior season. However, he was a guy on everyone's radar early and it's not like Ringer's offers defy his rankings.
Variance: Moderate. Injury makes him more of a wild card, but not a true boom-or-bust guy like Taco Charlton.
Ceiling: Low. Lack of growth leads you to believe he may be close to topped out physically and he doesn't have the pedigree of the other guys in the class. Seems like he's a two-down guy.
General Excitement Level: Low. As always, sorry but some guys have to get that designation. The only not-touted linebacker in a four-LB class—the one who seems like he's fighting with Joe Bolden—is that guy.
Projection: Early enrollment and status as a linebackery tackling guy could see him forego a redshirt to play a bunch of special teams despite the linebacker depth chart being three-deep at both spots he could reasonably play. If he's not needed on special teams, a redshirt is very likely.
From there, it's the same story detailed in the articles on Ross and Royce-Jenkins Stone: the two ILB spots are going to be a war for the foreseeable future, one Joe Bolden has a pile of tanks ready for. Ringer is unlikely to be the strongest candidate at WLB, so Ringer will either have to hope Bolden isn't as good as everyone thinks he is or can't stay healthy if he's going to get serious playing time.
Hey all. Before we get started, a reminder: Its been 566 days, and counting, since Ohio defeated Michigan in football.
Technically, the offseason is officially OVAH. How so? Because now we have a full(ish) board of games to bet on thanks to the esteemed Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas releasing well over 100 games of the year lines back on Monday. This has become an annual tradition for the casino's sportsbook and, for me, it tells me two things: One, hurry up and get your summer on because pretty soon it will be football season, and, two, it's time to start studying up on these teams and getting them down cold because if it's football season, that also means it's gambling season. For full analysis on the games on the Nugget's betting board, bookmark the JCB. We'll be looking into these throughout the summer. And while we havent produced any posts yet on the subject, we do have a killer Wisconsin preview on the blog this week as well as daily Euro Cup 2012 coverage. For now, lets focus on the five games involving Michigan. Here are the lines as they opened and later adjusted as action came in, with a full breadown following:
|Opponent||Opening Line||Current Line|
|vs Alabama||Bama -12||Bama -10|
|at Notre Dame||ND -1||ND -1|
|vs Michigan St||UM -6||UM -6|
|at Nebraska||UM -2||UM -1|
|at Ohio State||UM -3||Pick 'Em|
WE HAVE A DIFFERING OF OPINIONS: NEBRASKA, OHIO STATE
What jumped right off the page for me is the fact that the Golden Nugget installed Michigan as road chalk in both the Nebraska and Ohio State games. The Nugget's opening line called for Michigan -2 at Nebraska and -3 at Ohio State. This is in direct contrast to the spread projections put forth by Beyond The Bets, which we discussed in the MGoForum last week.
To review, BTB did spread projections on all the scheduled college football games for the upcoming season. Per their numbers, Nebraska was -3 vs Michigan and OSU was -4 vs the Wolverines. In both cases, the first actual betting line was nearly a full touchdown different from the BTB projections. Of the 111 lines the Nugget released, a handful differed a point or two from those BTB projections, but very few had a different team favored which was the case with these two Michigan games. I caught up with Behind The Bets in an email exchange to get their take on the differing opinions on these games. Home field played a big role in their initial numbers and it was revealed that their numbers pegged OSU to be upwards of a 6-point favorite, but given Michigan's bounceback season in 2011, new found skill at defense and rivalry game intensity, BTB felt it more prudent to project a smaller number. They think the Bucks are the best team in the Big 10:
We power rated Ohio State as the best team in the Big Ten. Obviously, the Golden Nugget disagrees and - to some extent - it's apparent that Las Vegas wiseguys do, too. Otherwise, it's likely that the line in the Michigan-Ohio State matchup would have moved from Michigan -3 to Ohio State being favored. At some point, it very well could, and the guess here is that Ohio State will be at least a three-point favorite by kickoff. But that's the great thing about making opinions in June: They aren't exact, we all have different ones, and it makes for some great discussion.
Dont loook too deep into their power rankings calling OSU the league's best team. For one, its only summer. We're all speculating at this point. But more importantly, very little separates the teams at the top of the league. BTB forecasts a conference race thats too close to call. In their rankings, Michigan is just a point behind OSU, and there's a minuscule 3-point difference between OSU, the highest rated team, and the fifth-rated team, in this case MSU. BTB said that Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska are basically dead even in their ratings, and if the Cornhusker game was in Ann Arbor this year, their spread projections might have listed the Wolverines as 5- or 6-point chalk.
One of the themes in past summers in the wake of early betting lines being released was that Books couldnt throw numbers on the board to stop people from betting against Michigan. Whether it was Michigan being an unknown commodity in the wake of coaching changes in 2008 and 2011, or, frankly being a known stinky commodity after losing years in '08 and '09, nobody seemed interested in backing the Wolverines. That might be shifting and seeing the Nugget install the Wolverines initially as road chalk in the Nebraska and OSU games is an example of that changing mindset. The public loves betting on stars and few shine as brightly or are as popular as Denard Xavier Robinson. BTB expects the Wolverines to be a public darling most of the season.
Expect Michigan to be a heavy public team all season long - no different than USC, another storied program who has a Heisman Trophy hopeful at quarterback. And again, the Mattison factor can't be underestimated. The days of watching Greg Robinson's Swiss Cheese defense are over, and Michigan fans can again expect to see the defense make great second-half adjustments and keep them in games they otherwise have no business winning.
However, early action, at least on the Nebraska and OSU games, shows that the early bird gamblers are still going against Michigan. The OSU line was immediately bet down to a pick 'em and enough Cornhusker action was lured in to shave a full point off the Nugget's original line from UM -2 to UM -1. Living in Ohio, I can tell you that word is going around about a pick 'em line for this year's The Game, and I received a handful of texts and emails from Buckeye friends wondering if I was ready to bet them. The answer to that is No. I suspect the Bucks will have a really good season this year. And that come game week, Michigan will be catching a field goal. The smart investor will wait for those points to materialize, so dont pull the trigger just yet.
As for the Nebraska game, I'm a bit more bullish on Michigan and the current line than I was at first blush. When I broke down the 9.5 regular season win total prop for Michigan at the JCB, I wasnt very confident about any bigtime road game, admitting I couldnt even give a lean to a Michigan win in Lincoln. Since then, however, I've done soemthing radical. I rewatched last years game. I have new found Michigan confidence. I had forgotten just how much Michigan dominated the game and worked over Nebraska's allegedly vaunted Black Shirt defense. I recall the game getting out of hand in the second half thanks to some quirky turnovers by Michigan, but if this game was scored like a boxing match, it would have been a rout, all rounds to the Wolverines. It was the best four quarter game Michigan put together all season. Fitzgerald Toussaint was a beast. Michigan's offense was unstoppable. And the Nebraska offense, led by Tyler Martinez, generated no offense without the help of turnovers or after the game had long been decided. You know the woodsheds that Michigan seemed to end every season with under Rodriguez? It was like that, but with the good guys being the bully. After rewatching last year's game, I could buy the Wolverines being the slight chalk that the Nugget has made them. I think people are as unsure as ever on Nebraska. And nobody is interested in laying many points with them and Martinez. If you want my advice, go ahead and take Michigan against Nebraska. But hold on to your money until game week for OSU and wait until Michigan is catching points.
THE MONSTER OPENING GAME: ALABAMA
The online sportsbook 5Dimes got a jump on everybody with this game, releasing a line of Alabama -7 in the dead of winter. Sharps pounded Alabama on that line and eventually the line grew from Bama as one touchdown favorite to two touchdown favorites. To be clear, this wasnt a case of constant, daily action coming in against Michigan, making the line -8 one day, then -9 the next and so on. It was more of a shock and awe type of thing than anything else. That opening line of -7 got so much one side action that the book pulled the line, went back to the drawing board and rereleased it as -14. They seemed to have a found a fair number for the middle of the offseason, but, in the last month, a slow trickle of Michigan money came streaming in, and 5Dimes knocked the line down to 13.5, then to 13 and just before last weekend all the way down to Alabama -12.
When the Nugget released their much ballyhooed lines on Monday, they agreed with the latest 5Dimes shift and hung a Alabama -12 number. And in a sign that BTB's intimations that Michigan could be a public play this year, money did come pouring in on the Wolverines. The line at the Nugget currently sits at Bama -10. However, back at 5Dimes, where the online didnt get the hyped injection of action like the Nugget got on Monday, the line remains -12. So, if you want to bet Michigan and the points, go over and do it at 5Dimes while you can still get an extra two points. You know what I am thinking? I am wondering how sizeable the demographic is who has Alabama -7 on that very early 5Dimes line, but also has Michigan +12 on the Nugget line, or even +13 or +14 on the 5Dimes re-release. I want to watch this game with that crowd. Otherwise, I'm probably going to sit this one out.
I honestly dont have a true feel for exactly how Michigan will fare in this game. I do know that last summer I figured only a miracle could keep the Wolverines in this game. But their performance, especially on defense, a season ago, has at least given me a flicker of real hope in this game. I am not reassured that Alabama has to replace a lot of defensive parts, but it still will be athletic, fast and talented. And still coached by Nick Saban. It's easy imagining them choking Michigan the way similarly frothed defenses from MSU and Va Tech did to the Wolverines a year ago, despite the Renaissaince season. And the Tide's offensive line might be a mismatch going against the inexperienced and unproven Michigan defensive line. This might be the worst matchup for Michigan's defensive line to be playing without stalwarts up front Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen for the first time in years. Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler will handle the rock for Bama now that Trent Richardson is in the NFL. They have just theee 100-yard games between them, but I wouldnt be surprised if one of them pops over the century mark in this one, taking advantage of Michigan transition up front. I cant shake the feeling that this game may just take the form of the recent Bama/Penn St matches from the last couple of seasons. Bama strangled those games in their favor, slowly, but surely pulling away for 24-3, 27-11 wins, covering the spread in each. Michigan at least has a much more capable offense than Penn State ever did coming into those games. The playmaking ability of Robinson alone might be enough of an offensive counterpunch for the Wolverines to, unlike PSU, stay in the game and make the Tide sweat in the end. That might not sound like the most optimistic assessment, but a year ago at this time, I figured Michigan would be lucky to stay within three touchdowns of the Tide. #Progress
THE UNDERDOG SERIES: NOTRE DAME
I really dont have any new ways to present this well known factoid of the Michigan-Notre Dame series, so I'll just say it. This is an underdog series, with the dog logging a 21-5 ATS mark and actually winning the series outright on the real scoreboard by a 13-12-1 count. I always say the underdog in this series usually ends up playing its best game of the season. On the current 4-0 SUATS run the dog in this series is riding right now, you could for sure that say the 2008 Irish squad and the 2009 and 2010 Michigan squads didnt play better games or earned bigger wins in those years than what they accomplished in the annual grudge match between these historic programs. You'd be hard pressed to find an annual series that tilts so strongly to the underdog. Clemson-Georgia Tech in the ACC gives it a run for its money. Both games are ones that I will always play the underdog in, no questions asked. Sometimes its that easy to pull the trigger.
I know some partisan Michigan fans will grumble at the audacious lack of respect oddsmakers are giving the Wolverines here by making the Irish the favored team at home. But I want to Wolverines to be the underdog all the time in this matchup. Nothing good really comes from being chalk in this series. The Irish havent covered as chalk in this series since 1982, while the Wolverines have only covered twice as chalk in this series during my adult life. At least Michigan has some history of winning, but not covering in this series like in 1997 and 1999, but those were major escape jobs from our heroes.
The Irish are always a tricky team to handicap. Other than this Michigan game, the Irish are either eye opening dogs--catching double digits against USC and Oklahoma--or do-a-double-take heavy chalk, such as laying 10 points against Miami. Wise guy bettors have long loved Brian Kelly, but so far in two seasons in South Bend, he hasnt rewarded that faith with a great record against the spread. The Irish perpetually seem to be overvalued more than any other team in the early going of college football seasons. The money quote from Kegs 'N Eggs Adam from the above link:
There were also other games later in the season posted, and Vegas is taking plenty of Notre Dame action, again, because they are Notre Dame. The Golden Nugget clearly likes this team and are making lines that stretch beyond protecting themselves against public betting. That’s not the first time we’ve seen that happen, though.
Yes, we have seen it happen. In fact, it's become a little bit of a cottage industry for me (and the JCB, natch) to spend every September betting against the Irish before people realize just how overrated they are and how skewed the lines are as a result. Did you know that Notre Dame is just 32-31 straight up in the month of September and before since Lou Holtz left town? Well, now you do. That nets out to 27-35-1 against the spread, so betting against the Irish on the blind during the opening month of the season has turned a decent profit since 1996. As chalk, they are especially good money burners during the first month of year, logging just a 12-23-1 ATS mark during this stretch. Basically, they have been annual slow starters since Uncle Lou left town and have failed to cover the spread two out of every three times they've been September chalk since then. With the Irish laying 13.5 to Navy, a single point to Michigan and likely to be chalk against Purdue, you'll make money by betting against them in these games if past history is any indication. And even though they've covered the spread the last couple years against MSU, you could probably add in MSU -2.5 to the Fade Notre Dame Early profit mix. It's a Fall Tradition like no other.
THE GREEN ELEPHANT LAYING IN THE WEEDS: MICHIGAN STATE
The Michigan State Spartans, the current program Waterloo (please, no mail from Iowa. kthnxbai). I brought this up last week, but I am inclined to take the points here and side with MSU. I've been picking MSU to at least cover, if not win, pretty much the entire time during their nifty little historic winning streak over Michigan. I feel Michigan is finally ready to win this game and have just the right circumstances to do that this season--game is at home, senior QB, seemingly extra focus finally being put on this game and so on. But will they? I cant see them doing so in anything other than a close fight that goes right down to the gun.
I have a betting paranoia on taking a team thats favored by a decent amount while trying to snap a noteworthy losing streak against Foe X. A great recent example was last year's OSU game where Michigan won, breaking a 7-game losing streak to the Bucks, but failed to cover the closing -8 line. Yes, I realize there was a shaky replay call that overturned a Michigan touchdown late in the game, keeping them from opening a 10-point lead. But that wasnt the last play of the game. And part of my anxiety in these spots stems from situations like that, even if the TD is granted. There is plenty of time for a worthless late score and back door cover. The dreaded Prevent Defense burns chalk bettors every week with late scores. Given how fast OSU scored some of their TDs that afternoon, you cant say that replay was the difference between covering or not. The back door cover would have been in major play. I'm convinced that had the TD stayed on the board, Michigan would still need to recover an on-side kick to finally clinch a victory.
Getting back to this MSU game, I just dont think more than field goal really should separate these teams this year. And as far as that back door cover scenario, Michigan would need to be up more than 13 points in the fourth quarter to avoid the back door threat. I dont see that happening. We'll see how this line evolves between now and October, but right now I would take those points to the bank.
I may be on a plane, and technically on vacation, but that can't stop me from posting. Here's the second, and final, post on SMSB. I'll be back at the end of next week.
At Wednesday's Sound Mind/Sound Body camp in Southfield, I had the opportunity to catch up with 2013 commits Shane Morris, David Dawson, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. Subjects include their camp performances, the Michigan coaches, recruiting, and Terry Richardson's fitting reward for David Dawson after winning a rep in the one-on-ones.
ACE: You got a chance to get out there and throw a little bit. How'd you feel out there?
SHANE: It was good. Coming out here, doing some work with Coach Borges, having a good time, and I felt like I was doing pretty well, so I had a good day.
ACE: Coach Borges seemed to be watching you pretty closely. What's he telling you out there?
SHANE: Definitely. He's working on my footwork a little bit, making sure I get the ball out quicker, everything really. Everything that he's telling me I'll be taking home to work on, so I'm just having fun out there.
ACE: What are you trying to work on over the rest of the summer?
SHANE: I'm trying to work on being more consistent and also not throwing the ball hard all the time. I'm trying to work on polishing up everything because of the season, I've got to have a good season my senior season, we've got to make a run for the states, that's what we're trying to do.
ACE: I saw Jourdan Lewis out there taking some reps at wideout. I know the offensive coaches seem to like him out there. Do you like throwing to him?
SHANE: I love throwing to him. He's a receiver for our 7-on-7 team and he's my go-to guy if I need someone to throw it to. I saw the coaches are taking a look at him at receiver, so we'll see what happen with that. Coach Mattison, he's telling us to stay away from him...
ACE: Where do you want him?
SHANE: Wherever he helps the team.
ACE: Good answer. What's it like being out here and not only having the Michigan coaching staff here, but having guys from State, Ohio State... what's it like getting that level of instruction?
SHANE: Oh, I'm definitely taking a lot of instruction from the coaches, Michigan coaches, Michigan State coaches, Ohio coaches. It's an awesome experience for everyone out here and everyone's having a great time with it; it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get instruction from the best coaches in the nation. I'm just taking it in and having a good time with it, just soaking up the opportunity that I have.
ACE: With recruiting, who are you talking to these days, who are you trying to get to come to Michigan now?
SHANE: I'm been talking to Laquon [Treadwell], obviously, Derrick Green a little bit here and there,—I don't really know what's going on with him—Leon McQuay III, and that's about it right now.
ACE: Obviously you've got a bunch of commits here in the same place. How fun is it to continue forming your relationships with those guys?
SHANE: It's great. We're out here every weekend on this field practicing 7-on-7 with each other. We're having a great time building chemistry up. It's great being out here again and showing everyone a glimpse of the future.
ACE: Coming out here to the camp, how do you feel you did on the drills on the first day?
DAVID: I feel like I did great. I got a chance to work with Coach Funk. I lost, like, two reps against a speed-rusher and I got him back the next time I competed against him. I thought I did great.
ACE: The guy who beat you was woofing a little bit after that rep. Does that give you motivation when guys are talking like that after the play?
DAVID: Yeah, I hate guys that celebrate after the play like that. The guy was getting real loud; I hate that. If you make the play just go back to the huddle. When you celebrate it's just gonna make you lose the next rep.
ACE: Having the Michigan coaches here, having Coach Funk here watching you guys go through drills, what's he telling you about what to work on and what's it like having that level of instruction at a camp?
DAVID: I feels great to have all the coaches that are here, even the ones that aren't our position coaches. It just shows how much they want to see us work out and how much interest they have in us. Well, we committed, so I know they have a lot of interest but it's just a great feeling having them down there. Coach Funk, he said me and Logan did well. He did tell me, against a speed-rusher, not to kick so far out; that was the only bad criticism he had for me today, so I'm going to work on that and that's pretty much it.
ACE: You mentioned working next to Logan. What do you see in his game right now?
DAVID: He's a great player; big, strong, got good feet, aggressive. That sums him up right there.
ACE: What are you looking to improve in your game both for the rest of the camp and the rest of the summer?
DAVID: I don't think I'm doing the second part of the camp because I've got another big camp [the Rivals Five-Star Challenge] and I'm starting to get hurt, I messed up my quad already so I'm gonna leave that alone. For the rest of the summer I'm just gonna work on what my coaches are telling me to work on, and I do want to get a little better at run blocking, pass blocking, my whole game—picking up the blitz, reading linebackers, safeties. I just want to get better overall, that's pretty much it.
ACE: There's a lot of Cass Tech guys up here and a lot of Michigan commits up here. What's it like to get everybody up here? I know I saw Terry Richardson walking around earlier...
DAVID: Actually, it was Terry and Biggs [James Ross]. It feels great to have them up here. Cass Tech, I think we've got around 30, 40 guys up here, that feels great too. It just shows that we like to compete, come out and try to take over camps. I definitely like that Terry came out here because when I beat my man who was saying he was hungry, Terry actually gave me a rib for getting him, so I was happy he came out here.
ACE: First of all, how do you feel you did in the drill portion?
LOGAN: Honestly, this is my first camp where I'm at 100%. I feel I showed pretty well. The defensive drill that we did, the one-on-ones with no pads on, I feel like we showed real good, me and my teammate out there [David Dawson].
ACE: You were working next to David a lot, obviously. How do you think he looks and what do you see in his game?
LOGAN: He's a hard-nosed road-grater that everybody needs; everybody in the country wants that [type of] guard. It's real nice to have him out here so we can line up against each other.
ACE: I know you were hurt earlier this summer and you've been working to cut weight recently. How are you feeling?
LOGAN: I'm actually down 13 pounds at about 312, so I feel great. I've been hooping, too, jumping a little bit higher, so that's always good.
ACE: And the shoulder is feeling good?
LOGAN: Yeah. I did a lot of good work with my trainer, a lot of stretches and stuff that really got me back.
ACE: You said you dropped almost 15 pounds. What do you think is your ideal playing weight right now?
LOGAN: I'm probably about 312, and I'll probably just stay at this or see whatever the summer does to me and end up at that. The reality is I'm going to grow about two more inches so I can probably add ten more pounds of pure muscle.
ACE: I saw you talking to Coach Funk a lot. What is he telling you about technique?
LOGAN: He was telling me how happy he was with the improvements I've been making and how it's really starting to come together for me. He said he's real proud and I'm going to be a great player for him, which is a real honor to hear from a coach of his stature.
ACE: Looking ahead to the rest of the camp and the rest of the summer, what are you trying to work on in your game?
LOGAN: The game this summer is just getting bigger, faster, and stronger, become a better O-lineman. I've got to pick [whether to do] The Opening or Team USA, I got invited to that, so I've got to decide.
ACE: Are you leaning one way or the other right now?
LOGAN: I honestly don't know.
ACE: Obviously there's a lot of other commits here and a couple of 2012 guys as well. What's it like getting everyone together in one place?
LOGAN: It's real fun to see everybody out here. There's a 2014 D-end here too from Loyola High School or something like that [Malik McDowell]. I was trying to start talking to him, but I'll get at him later and get in his ear.
Hey, kids. Ace is off for the next week and I return to recruiting roundup duties.
Poggi: I don't care that it's not pronounced like that, I'll get nostalgic for slammers anyway
I never played pogs so I may be off on the lingo. Anyway.
Anyway… MD DT Henry Poggi jumped on a Michigan offer recently, sending the usual folks to scouts to tell us what we've won. Mike Farrell makes it sound like we've won Ryan Van Bergen 2.0($):
There's not an ounce of baby fat left on him, and he's got a frame to hold 285 pounds without losing a step. The player Gilman assistant Henry Russell once said played with a "ridiculous" motor never came off the field between tight end and defensive tackle, but he never slowed down, either, "a tribute to his character." …
"Henry is athletic and quick, but he's very technically sound, too. He does a really good job with his arms and gets off the snap, doesn't lose balance. If you try to cut him or go low in traffic, he's very good at keeping his feet."
RVB barely came off the field in his last three years and always—always—kept his feet. Poggi is a bit shorter and may be more of a quick-twitch guy; otherwise that's a tight comparison.
I hear your Opening has an… opening
Nike's high-falutin' big time big timer camp with the artsy name continues to issue invitations to Michigan recruits. IL OL Kyle Bosch is the eighth Michigan commit to get a trip to Oregon paid for, joining Logan Tuley-Tillman, Shane Morris, David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, Mike McCray, Taco Charlton, and Jake Butt. Serious targets Laquon Treadwell, Leon McQuay III, and Joe Mathis (hey, top three at this instant) are also scheduled to attend. That is a lot of names I would normally bold if they weren't crammed together so tightly.
I'll be most interested in how McCray, Butt, and LTT show up. By this point we know what Morris and Dawson and Lewis and Charlton are (probably) going to do; the previous three haven't been making as much noise on the camp scene or, in LTT's case, are working their way back into healthy shape.
Joe Mathis knows how to plan a visit
Tim Sullivan catches up with CA DE Joe Mathis, who backs off his stated top three of Washington, Nebraska, and Michigan a little bit in favor of a broader top ten, declares he'll officially visit Hawaii—a team not in his top ten—and says Michigan sees the 6'3", 245 pound end as (surprise!) a Baltimore Raven($):
"When they've talked to me, they want me to play like a Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens," he said. "That's kind of the defensive player they'd want me to be at Michigan, a standup defensive end."
That would make him a WDE, which is plausible. He also mentions probable officials to Arizona State and Michigan. If those come off like that you might begin to feel cautiously good about landing Mathis—an official to sort of stated leader but not other sort of stated leaders would seem to bode well. Except this is one of those shapeshifting recruits, so… yeah. In an article just a day later($), Mathis says he'll visit Michigan and Washington officially but isn't sure about going back to Nebraska because he was there for four days and thus risks death by boredom if he ever returns*. In an article a day after that one($), Mathis says he is "definitely" visiting Michigan for the OSU game—which is in Columbus—and may go to LSU for their game against Alabama.
Next week: Mathis declares Miami his leader and that he is a peanut butterfly.
*[this may not be an exact quote]
2014 Caremeter: incrementing
The pool of 2014 players who are not random names to be googled if they become relevant at a future date incremented by one after the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp when Cass Tech CB/WR Damon Webb picked up a Michigan offer. He joins DE Malik McDowell as an in-state kid with an offer widely regarded to be a Michigan lean; add in Todd Howard protégé Parrker Westphal—still not a typo—and those are your contenders for first 2014 commit. Ace covered Webb's impressive performance at the SMSB camp yesterday…
Webb turned heads a couple weeks ago when he blanketed Laquon Treadwell at the IMG 7-on-7 and he built on that with an MVP-worthy performance yesterday. Despite being a year younger, Webb has more bulk on his 5'11" frame than his teammate Jourdan Lewis, and like Lewis he's an outstanding athlete.
Also like Lewis, Webb can play either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level, though his size suggests that corner is his optimal position. He was fantastic playing corner in the one-on-one drills, staying step-for-step with Lewis—though Jourdan managed to bring in a diving catch—and 2013 Notre Dame commit James Onwualu, who was torching the less-heralded prospects. Webb faced Onwualu three times, and aside from slipping on a hitch route, he came out on top.
…and someone asked Allen Trieu for a instate top ten($) on the Scout message board that featured Webb #3 behind McDowell and Grand Rapids dual-sport star Drake Harris, who will play wideout if he picks football for college. Those three players were a cut above a trailing group of nine including all three Cass linebackers and yet another Bullough from Traverse City who will be an early commit to Michigan State. This one's named Byron.
Webb looks like he'll extend Cass Tech's streak of sending a corner recruit to a BCS school to a remarkable six straight years. They're even growing them a little bigger these days.
As for where Webb might end up…
“It would play a factor,” he explained. “I’d be comfortable there. I’d know that. And that’s a main factor - feeling comfortable.”
“I’m looking for comfortablity in a college and I would like my parents to come see me and play. That’s a big factor too. If I’m comfortable there, and then the education – if they have my major and what I plan to study.”
…Michigan's in decent shape.
As for McDowell, Matt Pargoff caught up with him. He's playing it cool these days:
“I went for the spring game … Michigan was real fun. All the coaches had their attention on me. I got to talk to all the coaches besides Brady Hoke. He was stuck talking to reporters.
“It was real fun. The crowd was real hyped. It wasn’t as big as a normal Big House game, but it was still fun.”
He says a decision won't come until he's in the midst of his senior year. I bet that timeline changes.
Elsewhere in 2014 recruits to maybe care about some, early five-star OL Damian Prince tells 247 he's "really interested($)" in Michigan and Tremendous catches up with FL OL Mason Cole, who claims offers from M, OSU, and Florida amongst others. Cole moved from Chicago when he was eight and still has a ton of family in the area; he's also planning a visit in early August. He'll be one to keep an eye on.
Other SMSB Takes
You've read Ace's take on things from the camp unless you're a bad person. Others are also saying things about activities. 247's Clint Brewster($) on Shane Morris's showing:
Morris dropped-jaws with his impeccable footwork and ultra-quick release. Morris is so smooth and sound in his mechanics and can effortlessly fire the ball down field with just a quick flick of his wrist. Morris has also bulked up to over 200 pounds of solid muscle. The future couldn’t look any brighter for Michigan with Morris under center.
I'll take it. The rest of the article continues in that vein about Michigan recruits, though, so you may want to take that with a grain of salt.
Maize and Blue News has takes on the relevant folks in attendance, and the evaluations are on the more credible end of things. Pargoff's take on LTT:
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman – Peoria (Ill.)
Tuley-Tillman noted that he has lost a fair amount of weight recently, but still has some pounds to drop. The latter part of that statement was evident, though the improved conditioning appeared to help his game. He wasn’t as impressive as Dawson, but had a solid showing overall. There were some good reps and some not so good ones.
The biggest area for improvement right now remains conditioning. He has the feet and the athleticism to play at the Big Ten level, but he still needs to drop some fat and replace it with muscle.
Webb, Dawson, York, and Morris also feature.
Josh Helmholdt also breaks down the OL and DL. David Dawson:
Dawson only attended the first day of the camp, but was the standout of the offensive line group as he has been at several of the recent camps he has attended in the last few months. Physically, Dawson is starting to develop his upper body, which was an area that was lacking earlier in his career. His strength, as a result, has also improved and he is unbeatable once he locks on to defenders. Dawson always brings a passion to compete and shows good leadership skills as well.
Malik McDowell, meanwhile, arrived at the camp looking "noticeably thicker" and is now a strapping 280 pounds. LTT "did a good job handling a very capable group of speed rushers and was much lighter on his feet than his last performance."
Allen Trieu's defensive recap says McDowell was possibly the best player there despite being a rising junior($) and has the usual level of praise for Jourdan Lewis:
Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis again locked up nearly everyone he went up against. He has great feet, change of direction and excellent ball skills. His long arms allow him to play a little bigger than his listed size too.
OH WR Jaron Dukes is committed to Michigan, and Michigan is committed to him. This is news because one of the Ohio State insiders ("Nevadabuck," if you follow things closely enough to have heard of random internet insiders with occasionally-accurate information and a massively inflated view of themselves) claimed that Michigan was dropping the kid. A flurry of worried phone calls later and there's the usual array of clearing-the-air-type articles($).
Nothing to see here, etc. Michigan loves them some oversized WRs with large catching radii, and Dukes is that in spades.
CA WR Darren Carrington, a new offeree from Hoke's old stomping grounds in San Diego, is tentatively planning on camping($). 2014 IL LB Clifton Garrett plans a visit to Michigan($) for the BBQ. GRIII's younger brother, 2014 IN LB Gelen Robinson, will attend Michigan's camp($). Here's an article on… guh… a class of 2015 QB from Canada. Already 6'5", though. 2014 OH QB DeShone Kizer on a recent Illinois offer($): ""Being from Ohio, I really don't know a lot about Illinois yet." Ouch.
Two OL Michigan would normally be in on but for having all the OL already: Cass Tech OL Dennis Finley has just blown up, getting offers from Wisconsin, MSU, and OSU after his SMSB showing, and Eleven Warriors talks with OH OL Matt Miller, the younger brother of center heir apparent Jack Miller, after his appearance at OSU's camp.
Upchurch / "We don't need to drink blood to know what it tastes like"
My favorite day of the year growing up was right about now, a morning in mid-June when I woke up and it was still sunny as it had been when I went to bed, and I'd sit up and go through the painful transition from a reality where the Care Bars (or post-1991 Desmond Howard) and I solve crimes, to one where Number 2 pencils are a thing. Then mid-boot it would suddenly dawn on me that yesterday was a half-day and today is…
Then there was a morning when I was already working but still living in my college house and realized that school and the first day of summer vacation were a package deal. This is young adulthood: trying to find meaning in everything because that which used to have meaning is gone, and you don't yet know what having kids is actually like. That day my buddy convinced me to see a local post-punk band based on the challenge of how much crap the lead singer could threaten to break before the set ended/he actually broke something important. And they sang something about losing that first day of summer, or I thought it was about losing that day. Anyway fast forward to that train track-ity walk home from the Blind Pig and two recent grads calling the world insufficient when I brought up, "well, we beat Ohio State this year." And that worked, because I had no idea we wouldn't beat them again for eight years.
Since November I've had another pinprick thought to convince me to leave a dream just on the edge of lucid and reenter this plane of existence: Guys, we beat Ohio State this year. This is the payoff for all of those years of traversing the darkness rather than sucking it up and hiring Les Miles or something. We get this little ray of first-day-of-summer-vacation-level happy that we can access any time, and it doesn't even poop itself!
Doing lines. From his opening paragraph I can tell jamiemac has been doing the same thing. The post itself covers the Vegas lines for highlight-able Michigan games this year. I'm not much of a gambler (I like picking but not risk-taking) but I love reading their stuff. People trying to play the margins necessarily have to cut through all the fluff, including their own biases. Movement of the lines set by casinos trying to entice people to bet, and where that movement ends, is a far more accurate power ranking than that produced by columnists with 30 logo pictures and 30 snark remarks.
This one is especially well written and speaks volumes about what the smart money thinks our chances are against rivals and power programs. There's wonkiness too—like a poker player who always plays Jack-Nines because he won big on those a few times, he always takes the underdog in Michigan-Notre Dame. Then again you've got two programs who often enter seasons ranked above rationality—especially ND—and presumably this affects the higher ranked of the two each time, so maybe that's the effect? Anyway Michigan's the dog so yay. If you were handicapping Diarist of the Week, the smart money's on jamiemac.
The smart football. There will be more on this over the summer but Chris Brown has collected some of his best works into a book, something Brian thought of doing before we realized nobody wants to relive either of the eras his best works were written in. You can buy the book, which is like $5 for an Amazon download, or read the columns on his site and Grantland, or get the Cliff's Notes from a friend. This friend is DonAZ, who added his own thoughts as to how the lessons relate to Michigan. They're in the form of questions, some of which are answered well in the comments. Also in the comments is a jackass complaining about improper conjugation of forms of "thee."
Hey Rube, easy on the bears. Hunter S. Thompson once shot his assistant while trying to shoot a bear. If you guessed this my lead-in for a jhackney diary, you know your diarists too well. His dream is similar to mine but with more members of carnivora:
Unfortunately, I missed half the game studying an accordion type device that promised to send you to a planet of unicorns, badass grizzly care bears, and a bottomless plate of fat free/vitamin rich BBQ spare ribs. I did return from the outer reaches of the universe to see an anemic offense get in a position to win the game with a field goal. At first I thought I ended up on an episode of Sliders, reaching a parallel universe.
Going for the jugular is real. The Mathlete says so, or I should say his database says so. By this I don't mean a bear trying to make your trachea dangly, but a coach trying to "capitalize on momentum" by attempting a +20 yards pass on 1st down after a turnover/punt/momentum shift. I'll go ahead and ruin it because you're going to read it anyway math junkies: coaches absolutely do this, and it doesn't seem any more effective than the rest of the offense. In the book a poker-loving roommate used to leave in the bathroom I remember it saying players who just won a big hand will bluff immediately after (the loser will fold something decent, then go on tilt). Whatever the poker move, as anyone who spent a significant part of their adult life with Carr teams, if it gets them throwing deep, fine. But since coaches seem prepared for it, the best move would be a short and easy pass. Get 5 yards, keep the crowd into it, get the QB comfortable in a rhythm, and wait to catch the defense on tilt.
Half-way through high school. The 2014 offer list is out, courtesy of Sinsemillaplease. Needs more list of competing offers. Also MOAR of these guys:
That's Mr. Blue, Happy Teeth, Data, Nefarious Eduardo, and Sad Josh to those of you with precisely manicured MGolawns. If you weren't a recruiting board follower pre-2009, these are what recruits looked like before kids committed to their schools before 4th grade. Most of the players on that list have drivers licenses, though not all. If you want to just skip to the part where the Class of 2014 are graduating with multiple Big Ten Championships, ask the guy from the future, if you can get him to stop predicting Heismans for Houma.
Etc. TSS was breaking the server late last night, so I imagine he'll have something about comparing Alabama's roster to Michigan's in the near future, if it's not up already. The little he had uploaded as of 1 a.m. had me refreshing in hopes of more.
Best of the Board
IN A WORLD WHERE LES MILES CHEWS FIELD TURF.
This is one of those posts that goes to a link but the MGoDiscussion is better than that on the site with the article (happens all the time with Yahoo). This time Andy Staples pretends the world hinges on one 3rd down scramble by Chris Leak that saves Zook's job in Florida. From this point the timeline skews into a tangent, creating an alternate 2012 in which Bobby Petrino is rich, and powerful, and married to your mother, and where this has happened to me:
When the bracket is announced the following day and Stanford and Florida make the playoff as at-larges and Michigan doesn't, Miles delivers an impassioned speech on ESPN that will be studied by linguists for decades. His message? Who really knows? But he uses the word "chest" 57 times in seven minutes.
But hey we win the 2006 national championship all Alabama style and somehow this reminds Crable to block the guy so no Horror, no Peanut Butter Jelly Time and, uh, Denard Robinson at Florida State with Chip Kelly? Like people who've been through actual horrors, I'll keep the guys I survived hell with.
IN A WORLD WHERE DENARD HAS LOWER ACCELERATION THAN LEWAN
Alternate title: OUR QB IS ODDJOB!
Every year EA Sports gives us plenty to complain about, and every team that isn't us way more to complain about (I still hear it from my brother about Greg Jones being rated under Will Campbell in NCAA 2010, which is for 2009, which are they ever going to fix this?) Mr. Yost put together an extensive formula for re-rating guys, then stuck Ricardo Miller on the WR three-deep, starts Funchess, and Gallon's not even the slot receiver. I'm sad this is the last year 12-year-olds will be asserting a neighborhood rule against using Michigan because Denard plus EA game mechanics is "unfair."
IN A WORLD WHERE TACKLES CAN WEAR 11 AND CENTERS CAN WEAR 48
Informal poll: un-retiring numbers or no? This was a prevailing theme over several threads as further Legends jerseys were leaked. This is one of those places where I don't care what a majority of fans think—I want it given to freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores, or at the latest a redshirt sophomore. I want them to be recruiting tools and to not interfere with already purchased jerseys and databases and most importantly my dreams of long-term Michigan starters riding around in their signature numbers on unicorns and helping me fight crimes. I find this very important indeed.
IN A WORLD WHERE COUNTING SYLLABLES IS CONSIDERED HIGH ART
IN A WORLD WHERE WILL CAMPBELL AND "SLEEK" ARE IN THE SAME SENTENCE
This is Wendyk5's description of BWC. See this and other snippets from the Women's Football Academy. Things in that video: Borges's arm is in a cast:
Darrell Funk looks like a Law & Order policeman. Several times the girls ran Denard Power from the shotgun spread.
Your moment of zen
2013 OL commits Logan Tuley-Tillman (left) and David Dawson
Yesterday's Adidas Sound Mind/Sound Body camp at Southfield High School featured some of the Midwest's best talent, including five of Michigan's 2013 commits (actually, six, but Csont'e York showed up late and I didn't get a good look at him). It also provided a rare chance for players to get instructed by coaches from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and several other schools; U-M, OSU, and MSU each sent their full staff, save Mark Dantonio, who had a speaking engagement.
This was my first camp experience, so I mostly focused on the Michigan commits; at these camps, there's so much going on that it's difficult to focus on more than a handful of players. Here are my impressions of the Wolverine commits as well as a couple other standouts:
I didn't spend a ton of time watching Morris in the passing drills, mostly because I was more focused on the receivers and defensive backs, but he was excellent as usual on Wednesday. Morris threw harder than anyone else there, displayed great accuracy, and could make all of the throws. He's also improved from what I saw of him last fall in terms of knowing when to change up speeds and when to just unleash.
As you can see above, Al Borges kept a very close eye on Morris. UAB head coach Garrick McGee was running quarterback drills, but Borges made it clear that he would be the one coaching Morris. As Brian pointed out in today's UV, the running theme of the camp was coaches in disbelief that this was all legal; it was, thanks to SMSB's status as a charitable event.
Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.
In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.
Dawson is expected to end up at guard in college and after seeing him yesterday I think that's the best place for him. While his strength allows him to dominate high school competition, he isn't the longest lineman out there, which makes it harder to keep edge-rushers at bay. As you can see above, when Dawson slid inside to take a rep at guard, he dispatched his man with ease.
Tuley-Tillman didn't quite perform at Dawson's level but still showed off the potential that earned him an offer in the first place. When I talked to Logan, he told me he weighs about 315 pounds, a 15-pound drop from where he was at the Columbus NFTC last month. He's still carrying bad weight, however, and is going to have to turn a significant amount of fat into muscle before he's ready to play at the next level.
I was initially down on Tuley-Tillman when watching the one-on-ones, but after watching the tape he did better than I thought. When he gets his hands on a guy it's tough to escape and he finishes his blocks with authority. He did struggle some against the speed rush; Funk pulled LTT aside during drills to work on getting better depth in his drop when pass blocking, and there's still work to be done there. When he got his footwork right, defenders had little chance of getting past him.
Despite the technique issues, Tuley-Tillman has great feet; when he's coached up, he should have every opportunity to play tackle at the Big Ten level. He's definitely got some conditioning work to do, though it sounds like he's on the right track. Multiple experts who saw Tuley-Tillman in Columbus, where he reportedly struggled significantly, said his performance yesterday was a vast improvement.
Lewis continues to look impressive on both sides of the ball. While I thought he looked better at corner when playing for Cass Tech last fall, there may be a battle royale between the offensive and defensive coaches over where he'll play at Michigan; the offensive coaches have made it clear that they covet Lewis as a wide receiver. They'll have to fight Greg Mattison for him, however, and that may be a losing battle.
Lewis is never going to wow you from a purely physical standpoint—he's 5'11" and pretty skinny—but his athleticism is just a notch below elite. He showed off great closing speed at cornerback, though he sometimes relies too much on his ability to recover; he's not quite at his 2012 teammate Terry Richardson's level when it comes to staying in a receiver's hip pocket. His ball skills, however, are exemplary; he tracks the ball in the air extremely well and knows exactly when to go for the catch. If a quarterback threw a 50-50 ball in his direction, whether on offense or defense, he came down with it or at least broke up the pass.
At receiver, Lewis put those ball skills to good use, coming up with a couple of spectacular catches including one diving effort against 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb (much more on him below). I still like Lewis's upside more at corner, where his size plays better, but he's convinced me that he could contribute on either side of the ball at the next level.
Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way, including the pass pictured above. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body.
Given that he's being recruited for a very specific, not-always-used position—H-back—he's got a more limited ceiling than most of the commits; at around 6'2", he doesn't have the size to play much on the line. That said, if he can run routes and catch like he did yesterday, he could be a solid piece to the offensive puzzle.
DAMON WEBB (2014)
Webb turned heads a couple weeks ago when he blanketed Laquon Treadwell at the IMG 7-on-7 and he built on that with an MVP-worthy performance yesterday. Despite being a year younger, Webb has more bulk on his 5'11" frame than his teammate Jourdan Lewis, and like Lewis he's an outstanding athlete.
Also like Lewis, Webb can play either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level, though his size suggests that corner is his optimal position. He was fantastic playing corner in the one-on-one drills, staying step-for-step with Lewis—though Jourdan managed to bring in a diving catch—and 2013 Notre Dame commit James Onwualu, who was torching the less-heralded prospects. Webb faced Onwualu three times, and aside from slipping on a hitch route, he came out on top. Webb doesn't rely as much on recovery speed as Lewis, instead playing a more physical style; he's not at all afraid to come up and jam the receiver, and he flips his hips well when transitioning from his backpedal.
Allen Trieu reported this afternoon that Webb earned a Michigan offer, which comes as little surprise after he performed so well in front of the entire staff. While they're targeting him as an athlete for now, I'm guessing he'll be the next in a long line of Cass Tech corners to play at the BCS level. The Wolverines appear to be his clear leader at the moment and there's a chance his recruitment wraps up early. He'll be in Ann Arbor next week for Michigan's camp.
*"I'm hungry" guy was one of the highlights of the camp, as he repeatedly—and loudly—proclaimed his hunger after just about every rep. When Hoke spoke to the campers after the morning session, he singled the kid out for his enthusiasm, then had this exchange:
Hoke: "Did you have lunch yet?"
I'm Hungry Kid: "Yes, sir."
Hoke: "Well, I guess you're not hungry anymore."
- 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell wasn't listed on the roster—he wasn't alone in that regard—and only took a couple reps in the morning, so I didn't get a chance to evaluate him. I did head over to where the linemen were gathered in the afternoon, however, and I can say he certainly passes the eye test. That is one huge rising junior.
- Two other 2014 kids who caught my eye were Cass Tech linebackers William White and Gary Hosey, who both stood out physically among the linebackers. White appeared to have an inch or two on Hosey, but both looked solidly built with the frame to add more bulk. I was busy watching the linemen while they were going through drills, however, so I'll have to catch them play another time.
- A friend who was helping instuct the linebackers at the camp raved about Michigan State linebacker commit Jon Reschke. I thought Reschke was a no-brainer four-star when I saw him play against Farmington Hills Harrison in the playoffs last year; State got a good one there.
- Urban Meyer, from the morning presser: "The problem with intercollegiate athletics is that it's almost anti-student-athlete." All the coaches talked about how great it was to be able to instruct recruits at an event outside the usual team camps. There was also discussion about finding ways for recruits to be able to take visits to campus without the cost becoming prohibitive; there definitely seems to be support for summer official visits if the NCAA decides to look in that direction.
- Yes, Brady Hoke uttered the words "Ohio" and "State" in succession during an impromptu on-field Q&A session with reporters. Yes, there was a subsequent race between the Michigan beat reporters to tweet that bit of news. I believe the winner was AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgartner.
- Terry Richardson, James Ross, and Oregon CB (and former Cass Tech Technician) Dior Mathis all were present. Richardson was walking around eating ribs while the Michigan coaches teased him about getting his weight up.
- After watching them in a camp setting, it's very easy to see why Michigan's coaching staff has so much success both on the field and in recruiting. I kept forgetting to film the OL/DL one-on-ones because I was so intent on listening to Coach Funk give technique pointers to individual guys after their reps; I learned more about blocking technique in five minutes of standing near him than I have in the rest of my life put together. They're all great with the players, as well; you could tell the kids were hanging on every word of instruction.
- Former Michigan lineman and current EMU OL coach Kurt Anderson, who was running drills with Funk: "You're protecting your family, your food, your quarterback." [via Mike Rothstein]
Pictured coaches, in order of appearance, are UAB HC Garrick McGee, OSU HC Urban Meyer, MSU DC Pat Narduzzi, EMU HC Ron English, Hoke, Mattison, EMU's Mike Hart, Syracuse's Tyrone Wheatley, and Michigan's Darrell Funk and Jeff Hecklinski.
Jayru Campbell's hair did not disappoint:
Neither did Shane Morris's afternoon attire:
That's all for now. Interviews with Morris, Dawson, and Tuley-Tillman coming later this afternoon.