For a long period in which the MGoStore laid fallow because the previous company stopped existing in all ways except accepting orders. This did not go well for people who ordered or my inbox. So I searched about for another company that would not do this to the readership again. I have found one: Underground Printing, an Ann Arbor company you're probably familiar with if you've ever gotten a student t-shirt at Yost with your season tickets. They will not disappear; they will make sweet shirts.
So. There is a store:
As always, you are directed to consume for the good of the nation.
Also! I'm pleased to announce that MGoBlog reader and extremely talented person Six Zero is going to be running an MGoShirt contest before the season starts. He's created around a dozen designs that will battle each other for supremacy; the best-loved shirt (and maybe a couple more if more than one that must be had) will go in the store. That starts Monday. Fight for his love.
When this from UMGoBlog.com hit my feed reader a couple days ago I felt like I'd murdered something beautiful:
You'll notice that this thing has been signed by Anthony Carter, Jim Harbaugh, Red Berenson, and dozens of other Michigan folk from years past. And you'll also notice it doesn't have any wheels: it's been junked.
That's tragic enough. But I have seen this thing before. It had wheels then:
I could have bought the thing for 2500 bucks. Which I didn't want to do because it was supposed to be an ice cream truck and I envisioned something other than a creepy molester van. Also what do you do with such an object once you have it? This was the owner's dilemma. He, or someone down the line, chose poorly. He should have put a sign on it reading "Ransom Demanded" instead of "For Sale."
So. The vehicle is on Eight Mile and Hoover. I don't know what you do with a junked, wheel-less rusting old heap of bolts but if there's anyone out there who can rescue this thing from its ignominious fate, my conscience would be indebted to you.
Your humble blogger had the opportunity for LIVE and IN PERSON interviews with Devin Gardner, Austin White (right), and junior wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett yesterday at the Michigan High School Football Media Day. Austin showed up in his Michigan Elite Camp T-shirt. Devin was an hour late, but rockin' an EA Sports All-American T-shirt with his Michigan gym shorts.
Senior Season... and Beyond
Gardner, previously known as a run-first QB, has worked hard to improve his passing in the offseason. Previously a sidearm thrower with an erratic motion, Gardner's gone a long way towards fixing his delivery via "lots of repetitions, exaggerating having my arm up high, and continuing to throw." Gardner's newly consistent delivery saw him named the best participants at the Elite 11.
Ever humble, though, he didn't want to put himself ahead of any other guy there. When prodded, he did compare himself to Dennis Dixon, with maybe a bit of Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young. "I'm a leader on the field," he said, "and I make sure all my teammates are giving their best, too."
White, one of Gardner's future targets, says his versatility is his most valuable asset—but don't think his pass-catching ability means he'll end up at receiver once he arrives at Michigan. "I'm mainly a running back," he said, "and that's what I'm going to play. I can split out and catch some passes, but running back is what I'm going to be." The Wolverines are getting a player who can come out of the backfield to catch, and come in motion, but not just a receiver.
Since both Gardner and White are committed to the Rich Rodriguez regime, both are expecting Michigan to turn their fortunes around. Both are expecting vast improvement as early as this year. "I'm looking to improvement from last year... and we can keep building on that," White said.
Gardner was even more confident about an immediate improvement. "It's gotta get way better than least year," he said, "I expect them to do well, Tate's a good quarterback, Denard, they're all good - even Nick Sheridan." Neither can wait to get on the field in Michigan Stadium, but Gardner could hardly contain himself: "Cameron Gordon, Teric Jones, man, I can't wait to get up there."
Gardner is probably going to wait a little while longer than he has to. Though both Gardner and White have thought about the possibility of enrolling early—and are making initial preparations to do so—neither plans to do so at the moment. Both would rather focus on their final season of high school ball and the state championship.
These days most high schoolers use social networking websites, and football recruits are no exception. Both Gardner and White communicate with other recruits on Myspace, though they try to avoid being too pushy. "I just talk to them like a regular person, " said Gardner. "I don't put them on a pedestal or anything because I didn't like that." White echoed that sentiment: "I recruit a little bit, but I don't try to pressure them too much, because it's just really what's right for you."
There is one fellow future Wolverine that Gardner won't talk to right now, though. "I haven't been talking to Ricardo [Miller] that much since we play in the first game," he said, "but after the first game we can be cool again."
And though the Michigan coaching staff has come under fire from one specific, angry direction about an alleged lack of focus on instate recruiting, the recruits themselves aren't fooled. "I mean, if you can play, they're gonna recruit you," said Gardner. "If you can't play, get your game up if you want to be recruited by Michigan."
Saginaw wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett is expected to be one of the top 5 players in the state of Michigan for the class of 2011. So what makes him a special player? "I'm very fast," he said, "very elusive, I can escape the jam with ease, I've got great hands, and I can get open whenever."
Arnett already holds offers from Michigan State, Michigan, and Eastern Michigan and claims no favorites.
BONUS video interview with Gardner on the tubes… also horses:
[Editor's note: MGoBlog didn't post that. We would have asked if he had the kittens in the stable.]
Wow [/walken]. I spent last year posting Garfield Minus Garfield strips in the game previews instead of kittens. At first this was a commemoration of the new era and the shift in program philosophy we'd been waiting for—we went from cats to the specific, willful omission of them. As the season progressed, however, the lack of Garfield became, to quote Garfield Minus Garfield itself, "a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."
We're going back to kittens this year for obvious reasons. Kittens are cute. They work better than lack of cat. The switch was probably responsible for at least two special teams fumbles.
But here's one last lack of Garfield for the road, if only because it's theme-appropriate:
Historian! My RSS feeds got screwed up somehow and I stopped getting Wolverine Historian's torrent of clips in my reader. Fixed now; WH brings you the 1982 Purdue game:
Anthony Carter's last game at Michigan Stadium.
Hello again, Mr. Harbaugh. Jim Harbaugh's tendency to talk without regard to potential future consequences has once again brought him to the attention of the Big Ten, but this time($)…
You're not a fan of teams from other leagues playing two FCS schools.
Some of these teams are playing Delaware State (as Harbaugh's alma mater, Michigan, is) or Towson (Northwestern).
You know, somebody really ought to take notice of this stuff. You have eight or nine wins and so you're a great football team? Well, what if you played four patsies in your nonconference and then you only won half your conference games and so you get to go play in the Alamo Bowl and everyone says you're a great team. That's what happens. There's no question that the Pac-10 doesn't get that respect for playing teams out of conference of like caliber. Maybe some of these teams have a 1-AA team in there but it's rare.
…I couldn't agree more with him.
I guess it's a little bit of a cheapshot to mention Delaware State when Michigan is far from the worst nonconference scheduler in the league (cough wisconsin-minnesota-indiana cough) but I'm guessing it was just one of the foremost inter-division matchups in his mind since 1) he's an alum and 2) the Delaware State game has been held up as an especially stupid example of these sorts of things since DSU has forfeited a conference game to line up their payday. Northwestern gets it right in the face (Lake the Posts is displeased).
He's right on with the rest of it, and totally correct that the Pac-10 doesn't get the respect they probably warrant in the polls because they play a round-robin. Does everyone remember Hawaii in the BCS? That's the clearest evidence that not nearly enough attention is paid to schedule strength we've got. The more coaches that rail against stupid scheduling tricks, the better off fans will be. Even if it's obviously self-serving.
Merph merph. I'm more okay with the UConn deal now that it seems to have caused the Huskies' ridiculously unbalanced schedule with ND to evaporate, but this is still a much-preferable matchup:
The Hartford Courant reported on Saturday that Connecticut has booked a football home-and-home with Michigan. The Huskies open next season at the refurbished Big House; the Wolverines return the trip in 2013. According to a Michigan source, Pitt was in negotiation with the Wolverines for a similar arrangement but UConn was more flexible on the return date.
Pitt fans are terrible, so this would have allowed myself and 30,000 of my best friends to descend on Pittsburgh and take in the game. I'm not driving to Connecticut.
Maybe if I squint real hard and pray we'll get better. Another argument for Rodriguez's all-encompassing run-murder-death offensive abilities can be found in what happened to his old digs once he left. West Virginia returned Pat White, Noel Devine, and six offensive linemen with extensive starting experience. This happened:
I'll divide for you: the dip in run tendency does not account for the decline of the rushing yardage. In 2008, WVU averaged 5.3 YPC. Across the rest of the White era, WVU averaged 6.0. In 2007, the nearest comparable, it was 6.2.
This seems like a good place to mention that When Carcajous Attack(!) has researched the Rodriguez offensive line in-depth.
Elsewhere in the Northeast. This NYC bowl getting knocked around may involve a Big Ten team:
The sources said that Mark Holtzman, marketing director of Yankee Stadium, discussed the possibilities of a bowl game at a meeting with the Big East athletic directors. Mark Lamping, CEO of the New Meadowlands Stadium Company, expressed his facility's interest.
If the bowl game comes to fruition, it likely would match a Big East school against an at-large team, preferably from the Big Ten, which has millions of alumni in the metropolitan area.
That is what I am saying. I'd rather deal with the cold for a couple hours and then be in New York than be in San Antonio or Nashville or Orlando… ever.
The article makes it sound like this would be a real rinky-dink operation, though, with the last-ish bowl-eligible Big East team versus anyone who's floating around without a tie-in. This will be a Big Ten team approximately once in a zillion years. Iowa missed out on a bowl at 6-6 a couple years ago, but I don't recall any other eligible Big Ten team escaping the gravitational pull of the Motor City Bowl.
O RLY? Apparently some Ohio State assistant was spouting off to some guy at the Dispatch—possibly ESS EEE CEE guy—about how defenses have caught up with the spread. Rodriguez decided he wasn't going to run it any more as a result oh wait no not really:
"I could care less what he says," Rodriguez said. "Everybody's opinion is an opinion. We study everything, and our ultimate goal is to win. We sit down as a staff, and coaches and say what can we do that gives us the best chance to score points and win ballgames. For us it goes back to running the system we know."
Rodriguez is one of the gurus of the spread-option offense and has spent years adjusting it.
"This whole thing about catching up to this, it's all about execution," he said at the Big Ten media days in Chicago last week. "They said the same thing about West Coast offenses, pro-style offenses. If you've got better players, you execute better, you'll win 100% of the time, no matter what system you run."
The exact term in the article above is that offenses have "caught up to the quarterback run." This is coming from a coach at Ohio State, which had Terrelle Pryor pass 165 times last year… and run 135 times. Fail? I think this is fail.
Are these measuring the same things? Black Heart, Gold Pants points to an article on Iowa's athletic budget that indicates how the Big Ten is doing relative to the Joneses, and by "Joneses" we mean SEC:
The $19.8 million in budgeted Big Ten income reflects Iowa's share of the ESPN contract and BTN profits. It's also nearly $4 million more than SEC schools stand to make under their new Leviathan deal with The Worldwide Leader, despite the fact that the Big Ten receives half as much from ESPN for television rights (just as expected).
The 4 million number is right…
Florida, like every SEC school, will receive about $16 million in total television money for the 2009 season, $11 million of which comes from ESPN.
…if those are measuring the same things. (That same article claims the Big Ten gets 100 million to the SEC's 150, which okay whatever.) I don't think they are. The quote that $19.8 million comes from:
Iowa will receive nearly $19.8 million through the Big Ten and NCAA, mostly through television contracts. That’s an increase of nearly $700,000.
Mostly? So greater than 51% but less than 100%? Where is the link to the PDF? Argh. I don't think a 4 million dollar gap is realistic, since if that encompasses every dime coming from the Big Ten and NCAA a decent chunk of it has to be bowl revenue. I'm guessing the overall money just from TV is essentially equal.
Which is still a major difference from what a thousand newspaper articles trumpeting the eternal hegemony of the secessionists would have you believe. (That's right: secessionists.)
Etc.: Rodriguez is "a little better than JoePa" at tweedle-dos.
Er. Rich Rodriguez called into WTKA this morning and dropped one important bit of news: Justin Turner and Adrian Witty are not cleared yet. Which… uh… directly contradicts multiple statements from Rodriguez himself—or at least directly contradicts how those statements were reported—from Big Ten Media Days.
A transcription of the answer to the question "All the freshmen are ready to go, right?"
Not exactly. We've still got a couple that are working through clearinghouse issues. This recently came up. Just about all of them were here for the summer with the exception of a couple guys, and those two are still not resolved. We're still waiting on Justin Turner to get some information in. We're hoping that will be before Sunday. [Garbled] within a week. The other one is Adrian Witty, who's got a test score we're still waiting on. So he's kind of in limbo right now. … Hopefully either one or both of them will get resolved very quickly.
If it happens [later in camp] we'll bring them in a week later.
So it sounds like Turner's thing is just paperwork. Witty, on the other hand, is still waiting for a qualifying score and might not make it in.
On Monday MGoBlog took a look at current commits unlikely to move up.
Rivals and Scout rankings are useful but imperfect, and early rankings are more imperfect still. Though Michigan freshman Taylor Lewan ended up a 4-star prospect to both major recruiting site, he entered his senior season virtually unknown. By the time final rankings had come out he was a four star well within everyone's top 150.
The following players look to be this year's Lewan and have some upward mobility this fall. Not all will move up, of course, but look for one or two of the below players to gain a fourth star, or, in Devin Gardner's case, a fifth.
MI QB Devin Gardner
|Ranking||DT QB #2||QB #6|
Why Here? Devin has been compared to Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young, so it stands to reason that he is highly-ranked. He took his team to the state championship game (in which the Vikings lost to East Grand Rapids), and put together a solid junior campaign both on the ground and through the air.
All of the recruiting sites like Devin, but none of them love him yet. Barry Brunetti is listed ahead of him among dual-threats on Rivals, and Gardner is still chasing that elusive 5th star on Scout.
Prediction: This isn't much of a prediction. Multiple Rivals analysts have stated flat-out that Gardner will be their #1 dual threat QB and comfortably in the top 100 when they take the Elite 11 into consideration. He has shown off his athleticism—and willingness to compete—by attending various camps and combines in the summer before his senior season despite his early commitment to Michigan. He has shown potential greatness at QB, WR, and even defensive back(!); his versatility is not in question. He killed it at the Elite 11.
Unless he completely tanks this season, anything other than 5 stars will be a disappointment for Devin.
SC QB Cornelius Jones
|Ranking||DT QB #24||QB NR|
Why Here? Cornelius Jones's junior season didn't go well. He got exposure during it, playing highly-ranked teams within the state of South Carolina in every game, but his team wasn't good. The competition (like Byrnes, the home of Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Willis, et al, who Spartanburg played twice) was. Jones ended up throwing just 1 touchdown to 12 interceptions.
Michigan extended an informal offer last April and followed through with an official offer in January. He was among the first QBs that the Michigan coaching staff extended an offer to, so they think highly of him despite the inexperience. There's something there.
Prediction: Jones' polish-to-talent ratio is very low, and his learning curve may be quick. A player doesn't have offers in the summer before his junior season if he's not talented (especially when he didn't even play as a sophomore). He's done much better in summer 7-on-7 camps, leading Spartanburg to a tournament final against Byrnes amongst a crowded field of quality programs.
Even if he can't prove his worth as a QB, the recruiting services might rank him as an athlete. If he can have a decent enough year in his senior season, he could end up a fringe 4-star guy. At the very least he should pick up a third star from Scout and get bumped up a bit in the positional rankings.
One heartening item: his high school coaching staff will have a year under their belt coaching as well. Last year was their first in Spartanburg.
TX RB/Slot Tony Drake
|Ranking||APB #16||RB NR|
Why Here? Drake is the sort of guy who can excel in the Rich Rodriguez offense, but isn't likely to be considered for a high ranking by the recruiting sites. He's a speedy little bastard who performs despite his diminutive stature, and probably wouldn't last long in the NFL.
Drake was productive as a receiver as a sophomore, but was relegated to a backup running back last year.
Prediction: He is at one of the right programs to have success at: Skyline routinely pumps out a talent, and is one of the most visible high school teams in the nation. The stage is set for Tony Drake to take a big leap forward.
Now he just has to perform. Being named second team all-district at WR as a sophomore proves he might have the skill to get it done. I was pretty dubious on Drake's ability to move up, but there is an the opportunity in front of him.
OH WR Jerald Robinson
|Ranking||WR #43||WR #68|
Why Here? Robinson hasn't gotten it done on the field yet. A bad QB situation may have played a role in that. He is also a multi-position player that nobody knows exactly where to place. Originally, most Michigan fans thought he would play safety. After an impressive camp performance, however, nobody knows quite where he will play. At the moment, it seems like he'll stay at wideout.
If the quarterback situation at Canton South doesn't get better, Robinson won't have a opportunity to produce. However, if it improves, he can move up with a much better year.
Prediction Sam Webb was really high on Robinson as the best wideout at Michigan's camp, which was also attended by the likes of Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. That alone indicates that Robinson is an talent deserving of 4-star status.
With impressive performances this summer—and hopefully a better season as a senior—Robinson will have a shot at getting a fourth star on Scout, too.
OH WR DJ Williamson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #106|
Why Here? DJ Williamson is unknown. Though he has a highlight film on Scouting Ohio, the recruiting services either don't know much about him or didn't deem him worthy of even a 3-star ranking until recently. Williamson committed early and has not attended any camps, so his exposure is very low. Scout and Rivals both have him at three stars (finally), but he is way, way down on each of their wideout lists.
There is upside here: Williamson has decent size at 6-1 showed elite speed by winning the 100m dash in meet after meet on his way to the Ohio state title.
Prediction: If Warren finds a quarterback to get the ball to him, Williamson's size and speed alone should boost him up to a high 3-star. Four stars is doubtful for a guy who hasn't put in the time at combines and camps.
MI WR/TE Jeremy Jackson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #78|
Why Here? The son of a coach, Jackson got early offers from the likes of Florida and Texas before ending his recruitment early. He is a polished player as a coach's son. He had good, but not exceptional stats as a junior.
Players who have received lots of coaching in their careers but aren't dominant in high school, usually don't have the physical talents to be elite players. And with Huron moving to a veer option offense, Jackson may not have a lot of opportunity to prove that he deserves to be ranked among the top players in the nation.
Prediction You may be taken aback at first by the fact that Jackson is listed as a WR/TE. Sam Webb has been saying on the WTKA recruiting roundup for quite some time now that Jeremy is still growing, and currently looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver. With Michigan's new focus on athletic tight ends, they might encourage a further move in that direction. Jackson may have more upside there, and if the recruiting sites make this change in position, he could move up to a 4-star prospect.
[Editor's note: I would have slotted Jackson in the other group; he's polished and slow-ish, two things that don't often result in big senior-year moves. Also: high school to run a veer. To be fair, Tim's basing his assessment on Jackson as a tight end.]
OH DE/LB Antonio Kinard
|Ranking||LB NR||DE #55|
Why Here? Kinard is the third in the trifecta of tweeners Michigan has committed on defense (the other two, Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz, were listed as “Stuck in Neutral”). He doesn't stand out on film more than most prospects, which leads to his 3-star ranking. And with two classmates a year older heading to Michigan, he probably got at his fair share of scouting.
But Kinard is athletic, as evidenced by his huge TD run in the game that I scouted with VB last year, and Duane Long also thinks he's got serious athletic ability.
Prediction: Kinard wasn't highly productive on a defense last year that featured current Michigan freshman Isaiah Bell roaming the secondary. You'd think that an imposing safety like Bell would give Kinard more opportunities to make plays, but he didn't. He has the athleticism, though, the potential for big time production is there.
Unlike Paskorz and Wilkins, I think Kinard is likely to stay at LB. Still, I think he'll be a low-4 or higher 3-star prospect. A big move is unlikely for a tweener.
OH CB Courtney Avery
|Ranking||DB NR||CB #23|
Why Here? Avery, a star for Lexington High School for the last three years, is not underexposed. The problem is that he has starred as a diminutive quarterback. Avery only started playing on defense just this past year, but couldn't go full time since he was busy tearing up opposing defenses on the other side of the ball. Now that he knows where he’ll play in college, that might change.
If Avery was a couple inches taller. He could be a Troy Smith clone (not that Smith was a giant) and use his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism to direct Michigan's spread offense. Alas, he's not, so unless he's used for the occasional trick play on offense, he'll be a corner for GERG's defense.
Prediction Avery has some of the best upside in Michigan's entire recruiting class so far. Local observer Duane Long thinks Michigan got "a steal." Avery is just one year into his new position, potentially still growing, and was deemed good enough by Michigan's coaches to receive an offer at camp after a week of personal observation. If he can take enough time off from blazing through opposing defenses, he should be able to move up in the rankings. Avery's a quintessential late mover.