So ESPN spent the first five or ten minutes of College Football Live yesterday talking about how screwed Michigan was because "another player(!!!)" was leaving Michigan, never mind that Wermers' departure was officially announced two months ago. But you get a couple of quotes from a kid transferring into the MAC and the universe is ending.
I don't think it matters much in the grand scheme of things because only one thing—winning—matters much in the grand scheme of things. That does not mean it's not annoying as hell. The part that's still lodged in the ol' craw at the moment is that "not my crowd" statement. What crowd? By the time Wermers announced he'd transfer, the only Rodriguez recruits that had made it to campus were the guys he filled out Carr's last class with and the early-enrollers.
Those players are as follows.
2008: Ricky Barnum, Justin Feagin, Martavious Odoms, Patrick Omameh, Terrence Robinson, Mike Shaw, Roy Roundtree, and Taylor Hill. (I'm not including Brandon Smith and JT Floyd, who were technically uncommitted when the switch happened but were more Carr recruits than Rodriguez recruits.)
2009: Vlad Emilien, Tate Forcier, Anthony LaLota, Will Campbell, Vincent Smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Mike Jones.
Who constitutes the infamous crowd here? We're looking for players that don't fit the profile of a typical Michigan recruit. So not these folks: Hill transferred after about two seconds, Omameh is an engineer, Shaw was a Penn State commit who Carr had offered, Roundtree was a Purdue commit,—both were teammates of Carr commit Brandon Moore—Campbell was basically a Carr recruit, Emilien is an honors student, and so are LaLota and Jones. Both of LaLota and Jones were picking between ND and Michigan.* And Forcier is the younger brother of a Carr recruit.
I really doubt there was any culture shock from the arrival of guys from Ohio and guys who strongly considered Notre Dame. That's been the pattern of the program for years.
The remainder: the Pahokee guys, Feagin, Barnum. And I guess Terrence Robinson. It's hard to interpret Wermers' "crowd" in a way that doesn't mean poor black kids from Florida, and I guess Terrence Robinson.
Which is all the long way of saying that 19 year olds should offer pat, positive answers and shut up, lest they say something that gives the wrong impression.
*(FWIW, Jones' decision was easy since ND did not offer.)
YEAH WE ARE VIRILE BY PROXY WOO
Stuck in. You know, Nick Sheridan's taken a lot of stick—some of it from this blog—for being the guy who was holding the hot potato when the quarterback carousel stopped and that's one hell of a mixed metaphor but there you go. And he's been discarded as a viable starting option this year by everyone—including this blog. Despite this, he keeps on working:
"Because I wasn't heavily recruited, because I wasn't given a scholarship out of high school, they assume I just stumbled into this opportunity," Sheridan said, his voice rising as he defended his position on the team. "People said that all the time, 'You just want to be a coach, right? So football isn't that important to you.'
"Being the quarterback here is the most important thing to me. Going through an experience here with the Michigan program will serve me well in the future, when I want to be a coach. It's not an ulterior motive for me to want to be on the team."
That's from an excellent Chengelis article on Sheridan that paints him as CJ Lee in pads.
(But, no, I still don't see him as a viable starting option.)
Yeah, nevermind that. Remember a few weeks ago when Leonardo Dicaprio sported a Michigan hat whilst courtside at a Lakers game? Did it mean anything? Is Dicaprio a Michigan fan? Does he even know he's wearing a Michigan hat?
No, no, and no, given the West Virginia hat he's sporting now and the… er… discontent between the two fanbases. Further evidence of Dicaprio's indifference: before the Michigan/West Virginia swing he was rocking an FAU Owls hat, which… really?
Also: yes, that's the lunkhead brother from My Name Is Earl.
It could be big. Manny Harris came away from the That Guy Dunks On LeBron Academy hauling a sack of effusive praise behind him. One evaluation:
One of the most athletic players in attendance, Manny Harris showed a lightning quick first step and terrific leaping ability. While Harris’ narrow frame and poor wingspan aren’t going to help him out much on the defensive side of the ball, he did show the ability to make tough shots, which he seems to settle for quite often. An extremely talented scorer regardless, Harris is likely to emerge as one of the top players in the Big 10 this year, even if his NBA potential is still a matter of debate.
-DeShawn Sims and Manny Harris both look really good this week. No doubt Michigan fans would like to see them look really good a little more consistently. Having seen their squad on both side of 20-point spreads against my Nittany Lions last year, I can vouch for the inconsistency.
If Zach Gibson can take the Graham Brown/Chris Young memorial Gumpy White Post Senior Leap and Darius Morris can provide a secondary threat to create and score, Michigan will be in business next year. Challenge for the Big Ten title business? Maybe if they're lucky and healthy.
Coyotes of the distant, distant future. Phoenix loves them some Michigan players, having drafted Chad Kolarik, Kevin Porter, Chris Summers, and incoming freshman Chris Brown and traded for goalie Al Montoya. They also love leaving their kids in school, which you go 'Yotes. They recently had a prospects camp attended by both Summers and Brown. The Coyotes' GM on Summers:
Maloney said he thinks at least six of the defensemen at the camp will reach the NHL some day, including Chris Summers, who will return to the University of Michigan for his senior season in the fall.
“He may be the best skating defenseman in college hockey and he plays with an edge,” Maloney said. “He’ll be with us at the end of this year for sure. He’s a guy that we’ll be excited to add.”
"With us"? As in "with us in Phoenix?" Eh… probably not unless the Coyotes are eliminated from playoff contention and just playing out the string. Nevertheless, commendation for his talent.
Maloney on Brown—the article is a profile so there's considerably more at the link:
“Chris comes to us as advertised,” Maloney said last week. “You know you watch him and when you first see him he looks a little rough skill-wise, but then you see him play and he’s very strong with the stick and has a heavy shot. What impresses me is he just goes to the net. He’s run over the goalies four or five times here and I think that’s just Chris. He charges the net and we really don’t have anybody like him in our prospect system, you know, a guy that just charges the net hard and then might stay around and have a conversation about it if anybody wants to talk about it… he’s still young and he’s evolving, but I’ve really liked what I’ve seen of Chris at this camp.”
Brown sounds like a fan favorite in the making, and a guy that opponents love to hate. Think Ryznar or Nystrom, but hopefully with a little more offensive pop.
As you can tell from the message board, Justin Turner has proven the opposability of his thumbs and passed the Ohio MEAP equivalent. The epinion purveyors at Go Blue Michigan Wolverine were out front on this one, so congrats to them for breaking it.
That resolves the last eligibility question in Michigan's 2009 class; all have made it to campus. Divers alarums.
The doorbell rang and now I'm sitting outside here with no one to talk to except a burning bag of what I'm sure is poop. How are you doing, poop? Well? That's nice to hear. Would you like to spend the next four years lifting until you explode? Oh. Ok then.
Fun day to be out of pocket, as I missed another offensive lineman burning his bridges on his way out the door:
"I really didn't get along with the new coaches," Wermers said. "They were bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd. Coach Carr's staff was a whole different ballgame. It was like a family. But when Rodriguez came in it was a whole different feeling. It was more of a business.
"I figured I'd get out while I could."
I especially like the last sentence, which conjures up images of a daring midnight escape from Barwis wolves. Elliot Mealer stumbles fatally, falling a step behind. From the shadows, a flash. Mealer finds himself pinned to the ground, left to think about what awaits him…
…"Save yourself," Mealer cries weakly. "Get out while you can." In the dusky background, there is the shimmer of metal and a faint cackling. The last thing Wermers sees before tearing into the night is Mealer being hooked to a squat rack; both men's eyes fill with tears.
Passing through the thick foliage, Wermers vows revenge. I'm going to find someone from the Northwest Indiana Times, he thinks. And then we'll see what the score is.
But seriously folks: there were hints of this on the premium message boards when Wermers' departure was announced. One of Wermers' uncles, who had provided updates on his recruitment and was therefore established, posted a long thing about how Wermers felt the program was too hard and wouldn't let him do what he wanted to academically and that this was very bad. That went over about as well as you might expect.
The overall theme from "it's more of a business" and the uncle-based complaints: the program asked too much from Wermers, especially if he wasn't going to be on the two-deep, and he'd rather boot to a MAC team where he can see the field and enjoy Ball State's fine programs in broadcast journalism or whatever.
And, really, okay. If the program's too high a bar for some guys who signed up for a different coaching staff, that's fine. The academic complain is hard to reconcile with Patrick Omameh, engineer and future starting tackle. The "not my kind of crowd" reference is pure red meat for rivals, but can we like, you know, wait for any of these supposedly bad kids to rack up a single Fulmer Cup point before we run screaming from them? Yes, their dreadlocks are very scary. No, that doesn't mean they're evil. And I have heard Ohio State recruits cite "it's more of a business" as a reason they picked OSU.
I understand some bitterness is natural when you end up in a program you didn't really sign up for and don't like the new guys. But you'll have to do better than some references to Those People and veiled complaints that things are too hard to impress at this point. I will start getting concerned if players Rodriguez recruited start leaving the program or Michigan makes anything more than the tiniest one-point dent in the Fulmer Cup.
Austin White is a 6'0", 180 pound tailback from Livonia, Michigan, who's just committed to Michigan. Google, I stalk with it.
|4*, #17 RB||3*, #32 RB||77, no position ranking|
White first served notice he'd be a Big Ten level recruit at a camp shortly after his sophomore year:
A future Rivals100 candidate Austin White of Livonia (Mich.) Stevenson put on a show at the camp.
Claiming early oral offers from Michigan and Michigan State White, a running back, was asked several times to go up against the top linebackers in the camp and every time he came out victorious in the one-on-ones. He was even held so bad on one play that his jersey almost ripped off, but it couldn't stop the 6-foot, 185-pounder from still making a big catch.
Michigan and State followed up with official offers the first day they could do so, at which point Helmholdt said people should expect White to be "one of the top running back prospects in the country" and "challenge for top honors" in Michigan's 2010 class.
As you can see above, that didn't exactly happen. Though White checked in fourth—ahead of Robert Bolden—in a February ranking of the state's top ten players, two of the three scouting services put White amongst the three-star rabble when it came time to assign the stars. (FWIW, he didn't he didn't miss four by much on Rivals.) While the third, Scout, has him well within their top 300 they also have him considerably lower than analysts suggested he'd end up after White's initial burst onto the scene.
Wha' happen? It appears White didn't end up as big or as fast as you need to be to end up an elite prospect. ESPN's middling evaluation touches on his "great receiving skills" but kind of sounds McGuffian in its concern for his head:
White is a productive, well-rounded back with good upside when projecting for the next level. Has a taller frame for a back and needs to watch his leverage but has good muscle tone and the room to add 10-15 pounds of bulk to increase his power and durability. … not a burner with a great second gear or overly explosive. For a bigger high school back he goes down frequently on first contact and legs can go dead when wrapped up. At times, his high running style hinders his balance, running strength and ability to avoid trip-up tackles. Durability could be an issue at the next level as well if he does not run more behind his pads. … could eventually develop into the complete package at the next level if he can add the bulk and power to carry the load.
The traditionally reserved Touch The Banner's scouting report also notes the receiving ability and says he has the tools to be a read option back or receiver in the spread offense, but says he's not a gamebreaker and that he lacks the "speed and moves to be a finesse rider." The upshot:
Projection: White will be a solid but unspectacular back in a BCS-level program.
Reminds me of: Jerome Jackson.
I always liked Jerome Jackson, actually, and think he might have established himself a decent starter if not for his incredibly ill-timed injury at the beginning of the 2005 season that opened the door for a guy named Hart. Jackson was reduced to playing Wally Pipp until he came off the bench in the 2005 Iowa game.
I'd love to hear Scout's more positive take, but there's not much explanation behind their rankings. His profile is all you get:
An explosive back who can be used in a variety of roles. Has great feet and change of direction ability and makes many people miss in the open field. When he finds a crease, burst and acceleration are good and has breakaway capabilities. Is a fine receiver out of the backfield and has experience playing slot and split.
White might have some upward mobility yet after a positional MVP performance at the Illinois Nike camp:
White was the top running back at the camp. He flashed his excellent speed, has a powerful looking frame and can catch the ball. White, who has a dozen scholarship offers including Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Illinois and Wisconsin, left no doubt on Saturday that he is a Big Ten-type prospect.
Helmholdt on the same camp:
Livonia Stevenson’s Austin White took home the MVP honors at the running back position with considerable ease. The 6-1, 185-pound White was nearly unstoppable in the one-on-one portion of the camp, using his speed to outrun would-be defenders. White’s footwork and agility in the drills portion of the camp also solidified his MVP honors.
We'll see that take effect, if it does at all, in the next Rivals re-rank. If he doesn't bounce up there he's a three-star unless his senior year is preposterous.
FWIW, recently the News named him the #2 playmaker on the West side of Metro Detroit going into 2009—Devin Gardner was #1, obvs—stating he is "one of the most dynamic running backs the last four years or so."
White's picked up an impressive but not quite world-beating assortment of offers: Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State, LSU, and Iowa are the most prominent.
His junior year landed him on the Free Press's All West team, which gave them cause to sum the stats:
Austin White, Livonia Stevenson: One of the most dynamic backs in the state, White rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a sophomore and this season he became a more complete player. He rushed for 1,610 yards and 28 touchdowns on 228 carries. He returned nine kickoffs for 279 yards. White also had 21 receptions for 310 yards and four touchdowns. He even threw a touchdown pass. "It's almost like there's nothing he can't do," coach Tim Gabel said.
FAKE 40 TIME
What's the deal with the lack of fake 40 times of late? Not one article had a preposterous listed speed that would put a high school kid on par with Usain Bolt. All I've got is a camp-measured 4.58 from the Scout profile. What happened to the 4.16s of yesteryear?
This is a Livonia Stevenson highlight reel, not an Austin White one, but when you run for 1,600 yards your team's highlights tend to feature you heavily:
There is also the "Hammertime Play of the Week" from some week in the past. Please, Austin, don't hurt 'em.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
My thinking in this case has really latched on to TTB's Jerome Jackson comparison. And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Jackson was similarly sized and a mid-to-low four star on Rivals—I don't recall his Scout ranking. And while he wasn't Mike Hart he had a promising freshman season and once inserted into the lineup in that Iowa game he proved effective, far more so than Grady, at least.
White's a guy that most of the Big Ten wanted; the lone exceptions were Penn State and Ohio State. Add in the LSU offer and that's a serious argument White can be a productive back at the Big Ten level. His less than ideal size and speed combo would ideally see him function as the second back in a platoon system headed by a star back.
White's versatility will serve him well, though. He can function as a multi-purpose player that opponents will have a hard time preparing for when he comes in the game. Put him in space against a linebacker and it's advantage Michigan; line him up in a twin back set with a pounder like Minor or Cox against a nickel or dime and it's advantage Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
I addressed this in detail just yesterday, but to repeat: Michigan loses three tailbacks and Michigan's got two or three replacements in the class now. They'll be very picky the rest of the year, with Eduardo Clements and Brandon Gainer the only folks who seem like they'd be offered a spot no matter what. (If Brennan Clay decides to ditch Oklahoma, add him to the list.) Your Jamaal Jacksons and Cassius McDowells are out of luck.
Etc.: Tom VanHaaren interviews White.
[Editor's note: Hi. The following scouting report is from MHoops1, a respected poster on Michigan message boards across the internets. It's been posted on a premium board and another other place that sees links expire in a matter of hours, so I asked MHoops1 if it was okay to repost here; he said okay.]
I have now watched Tim Hardaway Jr. play four times in the past two weeks. Those who believe that he was coveted because he was riding on the coattails of his NBA father are, in my view, either mistaken or being incorrectly swayed by his standing outside the Rivals and Scout Top 150s (he's #93 in the ESPN rankings, but I digress). The kid has the ability to be very, very good at the high major college level. He's very raw, which leads to inconsistency, and if you only watch him on a single day where he's missing shots and forcing things, I can see where you might wonder what the fuss is about--hell, after seeing him on the first night of the Elite Camp, I was pretty ambivalent. Two weeks later, after seeing him enough to fully understand where he's at in his development, I'm very excited about getting him.
Much has been made of his ball handling issues (some of it by me), but last night, when he was pressed into service at the point because of an injury to a teammate, he responded by scoring on three separate drives to the hole, once off a between the legs and spin move which left the college coaches sitting nearby saying "Whoa, I hadn't seen that from him before." It appears that when he establishes a dribbling rhythm, such as when he brings the ball up the court or catches it in the open court in transition, he handles very well and can attack the basket or dish off the bounce. He also hit a nice pull-up off penetration.
What he lacks at this time is the confidence to trust his ability to withstand pressure before he's gotten comfortable. That fits with his other major deficiency as well--he's a little too hyper and doesn't always let the game come to him on either end of the court. When things are flowing well, he's great, and I do not mean great lightly--the Illinois friend I watched with was very impressed, and Hardaway played on a team with 5 consensus Top 100 kids (including two top 20 in the class of '11) and two or three other kids who could go high major, and he was the second or third best player out there for long stretches. When things go badly, though, he gets a little frustrated and can disappear, particularly in an AAU/All-Star setting where everyone tends to go one on one (one college coach commented that AAU should stand for All About You). That's where I think the rankings variances come in to play.
One thing no one seems to question is Beilein's ability to develop talent. With coaching and development, Hardaway is going to be very good, and the question, to me, isn't if but when. The length, shooting ability and quick release, passing ability (he's very good in that area) and basketball IQ are there--the consistency and confidence are not yet.
MHoops also answered some follow-up questions from another poster:
How well does he fit in with a player like Morris? Do their talents mesh well (or can be molded to mesh)?
Really well. Morris' ability to attack the rim and pass are going to lead to a lot of open shots for our wings. Hardaway can knock those shots down. In addition, they both have the ability to tip balls and disrupt on defense because of their length, which should lead to turnovers and transition baskets.
How does Hardaway fit in with the likes of Douglass and Novak (I'm assuming Novak won't be a PF his entire career at UM)?
He's different--longer, more athletic, not as confident, better with the ball than Novak but not, at this point, than Douglass (although more upside in terms of penetration), not as good a rebounder as Novak, range and release like Douglass (better than Novak).
Can Hardaway make an impact as a freshman?
I don't know. He's very raw. If they were to get Ziegler, it might be in Hardaway's best interest to redshirt and get stronger.
Lastly, is he good chemistry guy?
Yes. Very good. He plays on an AAU team where everybody else is local and has known and played with each other forever, whereas he's from 1000+ miles away, playing here because his dad's from here and the guy who runs the AAU program is the father of one of his dad's best friends growing up (former NBAer Byron Irvin was the best friend). He clearly fits in well, and is liked and respected by the kids on that team.
[Me again: If you think MHoops is being generous here, note his earlier, mostly recanted skepticism and yesterday's UV, which notes that an observer from the Sun-Times took in the same tourney I believe MHoops was at and raved.]