“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
Apparently, this was the worst showing by U-M in the draft since 1994 when Derrick Alexander was the program's only player selected that year. People are using this as further evidence that the cupboard was bare when Rich Rod arrived on campus (as if anyone paying attention needed more evidence). But one draft doesn’t tell you much about the talent level of a particular team. For example, that 1993/94 team still finished 7-4 and 23rd in the Coaches’/AP. Why? Well, because that team also had three players who would be selected in the first round of the 1995 draft, and five players overall. If we want to know how bare the cupboard was when Rich Rod arrived, we also have to look at the 2010 draft. So, of the current players eligible for the draft next year, who other than Graham is likely to get drafted? What’s the fewest number of players drafted from a major program over a two-year period? Does this tell us anything about Rich’s cupboard that we didn’t already know? Obviously, it was bare but was it far worse than people realize compared with other major programs?
Yikes. A quick combing of Michigan's roster comes up with the following potential 2010 draftees outside of Graham:
- Greg Mathews: maybe a late pick? He doesn't have the speed to go very high.
- Minor/Brown: it's too early to tell with either but both have the raw physical ability to be drafted somewhere decent. One seems like a first day pick with the other going later.
- Ortmann/Moosman: probably not drafted.
- Stevie Brown: Lions first rounder.
- Zoltan The Inconceivable: likely to be the first punter off the board, whenever that happens.
So, yeah, it's Brandon Graham, a couple running backs, and the space punter. I don't know what the fewest number of players drafted from a power program over a two-year period is, but that's probably not the right question. The right question is "how many teams with like one high NFL draft pick and three or four mid-round picks are any good?" and the answer is "none, but there are plenty that didn't go 3-9."
This following one concerns variance, as discussed in the earlier post on Gladwell and basketball and Carr and the non-scoring offense. It's long, so I've chosen to respond after each paragraph. Though this looks fisk-y, it's not intended to be confrontational.
Your recent blog entry, detailing variance, risk versus reward, defense, offense and modern versus older systems, beginning with a basketball analogy, seems correct, but I have some issues. Your presumption seems to be that solid defense allows for a brute strength, low variance offensive strategy, in the style of Bo, and likewise with Carr. At the same time, however, you insinuate that a slow, grinding offense that keeps the other teams’ offenses off the field is of a critical nature towards that end.
I was not entirely clear about my thinking here. I do think that a really, really good defense allows for that sort of offensive strategy, and more specifically makes the run-run-probably-run-punt style of closing up a game make sense. In that sort of situation you're playing towards your strength.
However, when your defense is mediocre and you have a future NFL player at quarterback, shutting up shop and hoping your mediocre defense comes through is playing to your weakness. Carr did this a lot, if we're expansive about the word "mediocre".
As far as what sort of offense you want at the end of the game, yes, the sort of offense that can grind out a first down is nice to have, but if you don't have that offense—and not many do when they opposition is selling out like mad—you're doing yourself a disservice. There are specific situations where grinding it and punting makes sense, but none of them come with more than two minutes on the clock.
This is reasonable, as you can’t rely on a small lead and a low scoring game if you can’t keep the other team from scoring. The problem, however, comes in making the assumption that defense can’t be, or at least wasn’t, considered a weapon. Absolutely, using a prevent defense, clogging the running lanes, and keeping opposing offenses to short, clock eating runs between the tackles works towards that end. But what of the Michigan defenses through the years, especially in the early Carr era, that actually produced more variance, not less? Sacks, fumbles, and interceptions all increase variance in a game. Sudden turn-overs and backward yards are not supposed to happen on an offensive possession. I would say that in as much as a thundering, slow moving, ground based offense is designed to reduce variance, keep games simple and allow dominant talent to win out; the same strategy of good fundamentals (tackling, stripping the ball, pass coverage) has the exact opposite effect, creating lots of variance and unexpected.
Your definition of "good fundamentals" on defense varies from mine. When I think of good fundamentals, I think of a two-deep shell, minimal blitzing, and conservative strategies. Bend but don't break sort of things. A defense heavy on the blitzing and light on deep safeties is more prone to wild swings. And many of the things you cite as good fundamentals are zero-cost activities from a strategic standpoint: tackling, forcing fumbles, etc.
It seems that you’re positing that the more an offense scores, the more variable and therefore less predictable a game becomes. I think that’s the exact opposite of the truth. Offenses are supposed to score. To assume they will do ANYTHING but that is fallacy. I think the variance comes in when they fail to. Therefore, I don’t think that Bo’s and Lloyd’s game plans were low variance at all. I believe they simply tried to keep the variance, the sudden swinging changes, to one side of the ball. After all, if your defense FAILS to produce variance, the worst that will happen is the other team will score. That can be recovered. If your offense does produce variance, then the worst that will happen is you will lose your chance to score back. You can’t get that back.
This wasn't what I was getting at, but it wasn't the opposite of it either. What I was trying to say was this: all other things being equal, I'd rather Michigan play a game where both teams have sixteen possessions than eight. (Assuming that they don't suck, of course.) Michigan's more likely to come out on top in that situation. The way Michigan played under Lloyd, however, seems like it lent itself to a lot of long drives on both sides of the ball and generally depressed the number of possessions.
Simplified – You’re saying that offenses produce variance by moving quickly, scoring. As talent entropy occurs, this is harder and harder to stop, and so Bo and Lloyd saw their wins weaken, because their goals were to reduce variance. I believe that defenses produce variance by preventing scoring, and scoring on defense. We saw less success against higher level and middling teams in the last few years because talent entropy, and the coinciding spread of more complex, harder to stop offenses, has leveled the playing field, reducing defensive variance.
Different song, same title.
Okay, to properly address this we need to bring in variance's buddy: expectation. In layman's terms, expectation is the average of all expected outcomes. When you roll a die the expectation is 3.5. When you kick an extra point the expectation is 0.98. Variance is a measure of the average difference between trials. I could kick up the variance of the dice roll by turning 1 into –101 and 6 into 106 without affecting the expectation. I could kick it down by weighting it so that 3 and 4 came up twice as often as other rolls.
If you expect to win a game, variance is your enemy. I'm going to borrow some graphs from the excellent Advanced NFL Stats to demonstrate:
So here we've got two teams with the same variance in their play, one of which is a touchdown favorite. The underdog has about a 31% chance of winning.
Now the underdog has gone mad, probably going for it on fourth down a lot, inventing and deploying something called HELICOPTER PUNTING, and trying to block every extra point. They get blown out a lot more but also win more: 35% of the time.
This effect is powerful enough to overcome reductions in expectation:
But this time the underdog’s average is reduced from 17 to 16. The increase in variance still results in a slightly better chance of winning despite its overall reduction in average points scored. In this case, it's 33.2% for the underdog.
And it's the same for the favorite and reducing their variance: sometimes it's worth reducing expectation to get it, but only in certain situations and when you're a considerable favorite. In Bo's time, Michigan was a considerable favorite much more often and the game lent itself to low-variance moves: a 40-yard punt is much more valuable in an era when ten points is a potentially game-winning number.
Anyway, to the assertion above: modern offenses have more variance to them* because they score more. Don't lose sight of expectation here: Missouri had a lot of variance in their scores but that was because they averaged 42 points a game. Michigan had far less but they were averaging 20.
Offenses that do this quickly are actually more predictable because they get in more trials. Moving fast without sacrificing expectation is advantageous to the better team, which is why Oklahoma was in zero even halfway close games against the Big 12 rabble. (Texas is not rabble, obviously.)
Defenses reduce variance by, you know, having safeties that can tackle. The very best defenses are low variance because all of the outcomes have the same result for the opposition: shame and humiliation. In that situation, punting your ass off makes sense, because you're a big favorite, you're not giving the opponent much of an opportunity and you're reducing variance in a way that helps your overall chances of winning. The main problem with Michigan's defense over the last few years has been their suckiness, which by the way increases variance as your defense falls to a point where opponents can drive the field on them regularly.
I always go back here to the end of the 2005 Ohio State game: Michigan has a two point lead and drives down to the Ohio State 40. Facing third and ten, they run a wide receiver screen for six yards, and then punt on fourth and four from the 34, gaining 15 yards. Ohio State promptly drives the field for the winning touchdown. This came after a Henne-demanded fourth-and-short conversion on Michigan's 40 that led to an apparently-clinching field goal, and was interpreted by yrs truly as a panicked reversion to base instincts from another time.
*(The variance of something that's always zero is zero and it's not much higher for something that's almost always zero. As offenses move towards 50/50 efficiency the variance increases, but in a world like the 54-51 game against Northwestern the variance is low because everyone's always scoring touchdowns. An even distribution of probabilities is always more unpredictable than a set where most of the events are drawn to one or two outcomes.)
"We appreciate the efforts made by both UMass and Bowling Green to accept one-year contracts to play at The Big House," Athletic Director Bill Martin said in a statement issued by U-M. "The scheduling landscape is becoming more difficult and we discussed the open dates with a number of institutions and want to thank them for their time and effort during this process."
The Wolverines will welcome UMass to Michigan Stadium Sept. 18, a week after traveling to Notre Dame. U-M will then host Bowling Green Sept. 25 before opening Big Ten play Oct. 2 at Indiana. The Maize and Blue still have yet to fill the final open date (Sept. 4) on their schedule.
As you might remember, UMass was rumored to be the newly-renovated Michigan Stadium opener, but this will not happen. Martin on that date:
"We are working hard to line up an opponent for the opening game in renovated Michigan Stadium," Martin said. "We hope to have an announcement in the near future."
The implication behind Michigan's strenuous denials that UMass would be the opener was that they'd try to find an opponent that was appealing, or at least moderately interesting. We'll see if that comes to pass.
John Calipari, folks:
UK announced Tuesday that three scholarship players will not be back on the team next season.
The three were A.J. Stewart, Donald Williams and Jared Carter.
Each of them has been told to play nice or else and has quotes thanking everyone for the opportunities, but privately they must be seething. By the numbers this is vastly worse than the Alabama stuff, as Calipari signed the class in the full knowledge he'd have to boot almost a quarter of his team to do it, without the luxury of medical redshirts. And he's not even done: if Jodie Meeks comes back and there are no academic issues, two more guys will have to get show the door. It's indefensible. Kentucky should be ashamed they allowed it to happen.
Meanwhile, a walk-on was taking about a scholarship with Gillespie and then got the cold shoulder. This doesn't come close to the level of the departed above since the player didn't come to UK under the impression he could spend four years there and end up with a degree, but the manner in which it was handled is revealing. The JCCW on that:
Time for tweeting? Check. Time to give a good kid, a lifetime Kentucky fan and Kentucky native, the common courtesy of telling him he's not needed in person? Or even over the phone? No dice.
These guys got cut so Calipari could cram his five-member recruiting class, which will no doubt feature a number of one-and-dones, on campus, and the idea of the "student-athlete" dies a little more. Calipari's now two for two on abandoning schools just as they get nailed with major sanctions for activities that—like Steve Fisher—the headman didn't know about because he didn't want to. Add in his record as an assistant at Kansas and Pittsburgh and Calipari has been at four schools, all of which have been hit with major infractions stemming from his time there. (Here's the NCAA database for these things; unfortunately it's impervious to links.)
Yeah, John Calipari had no knowledge of (probably) Derrick Rose's fraudulent test score, but that's sort of the point: he didn't know. And he didn't know Marcus Camby and the agent blah blah blah. He's not an idiot and neither are the people at Kentucky. And neither is the public. We're all terribly cynical now.
I find this stuff hugely depressing. Calipari can't take his two recruits and coach the guys he's got and wait a single year to graduate some kids, he's got to boot upstanding players off the team now so he can win now because that's just what he does, and the Kentucky administration just watches. All Kentucky has to do is wait and they'll have their full compliment of NBA-focused players who regard school as a nuisance and Kentucky as a marginally preferable alternative to Europe. Not even that's good enough.
I wonder about people who don't care about anything past the final score, don't care how that stuff goes down. I'd hate to be the guy behind A Sea of Blue right now, as he's not one of these people:
What he has done is effectively turn UK into an NBA franchise, and while that might be good for wins and losses and national championships, it isn't going to be welcomed everywhere. Some people are going to be very upset with how this is going down, and they have every right to be. UK has historically honored its scholarships, and has only rarely (if ever) done what is going on right now -- forcing players to transfer in order to make room under the "scholarship cap."
He excuses this behavior in two ways: blaming the athletic director for letting it happen and citing the massive contract Calipari signed, which "demands immediate results."
Why? It doesn't, of course. It demands eventual results, or at least it would if anyone at Kentucky gave a tenth of a crap about the players currently on the team.
I look at the rest of that guy's post, which is filled with halfhearted defenses of Calipari's long and checkered past and just cringe. I'd hate to wake up and see my basketball team filled with mercenaries and the country's biggest asshole on the sideline, winning the hollow victories of the morally bankrupt. What's the point of pretending Kentucky's basketball team is wing of the university anymore?
All right, back to Paskorz: he's a 6'4", 230 pound LB/DE who will play "spinner" or… no. You know what? I give up. Everyone in the comments calls it deathbacker, so deathbacker it is. This guy's playing deathbacker.
|3*, #62 DE||3*, #28 WDE||78|
Prepare to hear an inordinate amount about Paskorz and his brother during the 2010 and 2011 Notre Dame games: the elder Paskorz is a fullback at Notre Dame.
It appears ESPN rushed to get an evaluation up as soon as Paskorz committed, because as I was assembling this he went from 40 (unrated) to 78 and picked up an evaluation. The most interesting portion of it as regards Michigan:
At the high school level he plays from a "two" point stance and could be considered as an outside linebacker / defensive end hybrid prospect in the right fit. Overall, we feel he will fit best more as a traditional defensive end. He could be asked to play from a "two" point, but seems best suited to play near the line of scrimmage in an attacking fashion.
This is a Greg Robinson recruit like a 5'8" guy with dreads is a Rodriguez recruit. The ESPN evaluation spends a lot of its time talking about that three-point stance and flaws in his technique that come from not being in it. The implication: Michigan got Paskorz's offer out more quickly than a lot of other school because the others were waiting to see if he could put his hand down full-time; Michigan doesn't care.
The rest of the ESPN evaluation is moderately positive, praising his size and frame but saying stuff like "displays ability to" BLANK "but needs to be more consistent." Solid is deployed frequently, and his style of play is dubbed "workmanlike."
About a year ago, Jim Stefani ran down some rising junior tight end prospects and listed Paskorz #2 nationally. That ranking is old, though, doesn't encompass everyone's junior year, and should be taken lightly.
Minnesota, Virginia, and Pitt were Paskorz' other major offers.
I couldn't find even a whisper of any.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout's profile lists a 4.74 combine time, which was a combine time and shouldn't be FAKE.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
And it's flimsy indeed here, with very little to go on other than ESPN's evaluation and yawns from Scout and Rivals. It's so sparse here that I actually watched Paskorz's highlight reel in an effort to form an opinion—usually a futile task for non-tailbacks—and came up with this: yup, that's a two-point stance.
As the younger brother of a highly recruited player, Paskorz is not a sleeper in any way and we should take the rankings at face value. You might be able to argue that he's a better fit at Michigan because of the deathbacker slot and that an internal ranking at M would have him higher—and evidently did than most major schools. But this is another generic three-star with little upward mobility and eh offers. Paskorz's most direct comparable is a Spytek or one of those workmanlike—there's that word again—defensive linemen from the mid-90s.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
When OH LB Antonio Kinard committed the assumption was he was also destined for deathbacker, but he's listed at 200 pounds, not Paskorz's 230. With Michigan is pursuing a number of other guys—Ken Wilkins, Marcus Rush, Will Gholston (though don't get your hopes up there, I guess)—for the spot Kinard might be regarded as a middle linebacker recruit eventually.
Michigan's picked up a commitment from PA LB/DE Jordan Paskorz. Informative update coming… considerably later. I have to go suck at soccer.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, and WR Jeremy Gallon.
|Detroit, Michigan - 5'8" 186
|Scout||3*, #44 RB|
|Rivals||3*, #37 RB|
|ESPN||78, #48 RB|
|Other Suitors||Iowa, Minnesota|
|Hello: Teric Jones|
|Notes||Cass Tech (Cissoko, Campbell, Gordon)|
Teric Jones, the third member of Michigan's 2009 class to graduate from Cass Tech, went from Indiana recruit Cortez Smith's backup to the sort of player who would net and accept an early Michigan offer over the course of a single combine in January of his junior year. Jones went down to San Antonio to participate in the Army All-American junior combine, where he was "one of the biggest stars" after knocking out a smokin' hot 4.37 40. Even if that trips your FAKE sensors, that was the fastest time at the event, and that's no mean feat. (Maybe it should trip those sensors, as that time is often reported as a 4.47; either way he was the fastest guy there.) Jim Stefani has more detail:
Very impressive at the 2008 U.S. Army Combine, running the fastest forty at the event (4.37), putting up 20 bench reps and looking great in drills, scurrying past LBs and showing soft hands catching the ball. An All-Combine performer.
Although small in stature, running back Teric Jones came up big everywhere else. His 4.47 40-yard dash time was the fastest heard about all day and he put those numbers to practice in the one-on-one drills, catching several long passes down the sidelines after leaving defenders behind.
"I wanted to let everyone know that I am one of the top backs in the nation," Jones said. "I wanted to show my speed and agility and show that I am a big playmaker."
USC was calling($), Michigan was offering, the track was still smoking, and after he committed there was sure to be a rankings surge…
…that totally failed to materialize. Jones ended the year a middling three star everywhere. Oh well. It's not like he hid, either, showing up at the Penn State Nike camp and racking up over 1,600 yards as a senior. Here are many of those yards in a nine-minute highlight reel (youtube killed the audio due to copyright stuff):
Despite this, the recruiting sites took a long look and said "meh."
ESPN did have some kind words, though:
Jones is a major sleeper in this class if he can land in an offense that utilizes his good speed and elusiveness in space. … Can attack a defense in a number of ways as a runner. Perimeter speed to take it the distance on the outside, suddenness and body-tilt to slice through the small creases in-line and deceptive strength breaking tackles. Has a natural smoothness and fluidity to him as a runner and shows good body control. A true weapon and homerun threat in space with his great burst and acceleration. Loses little speed when coming out of his cuts and squares up quickly assisting his power as a runner.
ESPN's main problem was a McGuffian lack of yards after contact "despite a strong frame". Despite that he's a "great one-cut-and-go slasher" that shows "spurts of great top-end speed"; they say he's a huge mismatch in a wide-open spread offense.
Hey! We've got one of those!
GAME MVP- Teric Jones, Cass Tech Jones finished with 161 yards and two TDs and constantly picked up chunks of 20 yards. He is just sick in the open field with great cut back ability and field vision.
NGS also took in Cass Tech's season-ending loss to Southeastern, during which Jones was "solid" (20 carries, 97 yards, TD) but "held in check."
In fact, Michigan might be shooting Jones into lots of space as a slot receiver. Rodriguez said Jones was a slot receiver who "may also get reps at running back" at the signing day press conference, and Jones did have some nice receiving numbers as a junior: 24 catches for 306 yards.
Why DeAndra Cobb? You may remember Cobb from such touchdowns as "What are you doing, Ernest Shazor?" and "Goddammit, Shazor!" during the Michigan State game that would turn into Braylonfest. He was a lightly-recruited JUCO jet engine who was mostly a kick return threat, so this comparison isn't particularly tight. I'm having a hard time coming up with a Michigan player main asset was his ability to make one cut and hit warp 9 without resorting to Tyrone Wheatley, which is obviously not the right comparison.
Guru Reliability: High. Combine, camp, healthy senior year on a team with Will Campbell. And they're all in agreement.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. This was trending towards low just because everyone's so eh about him, but Lord he's fast and that ESPN scouting report makes it sound like he's a guy better suited for the spread 'n' shred than the general population.
Projection: Whether he's a tailback or a slot receiver he's destined for a redshirt to add weight and not waste time.
There was some confusion lately on how these interviews are conducted, so: Tom uses a phone, with which he calls the recruits. Then he writes down what they said.
If there's a 2010 recruit with bloodlines better than Canton McKinley linebacker Jewone Snow, he's yet to show himself. Snow, a run-stopping middle linebacker, is the son of former Wolverine Garland Rivers and the nephew of former Spartans Eric and Percy Snow. The younger Snow is fielding interest and offers from all around the Midwest and plans to visit Michigan this weekend. Tom VanHaaren got the latest.
TOM: Are you going to make it up to Michigan for the BBQ, or a different date?
JEWONE: Yea, I'll be up next Saturday for the BBQ.
TOM: What are you looking forward to seeing up there?
JEWONE: I just want to visit the campus again. I went to the Spring Game, and ever since, I've just wanted to come back.
TOM: Is anyone coming with you, or are you friends with any other players going?
JEWONE: I'm not sure yet. I might bring some people, but I'm friends with [2011 DE] Steve Miller and Bryce Wilder.
TOM: How many times have the coaches came to see you so far?
JEWONE: There's been multiple coaches all over. Tennessee's coach came last week, other coaches visit almost every day. Bruce Tall came once or twice so far.
TOM: You've got a pretty healthy offer list, who else are you expecting offers from?
JEWONE: Possibly the rest of the Big Ten, Stanford, Duke, South Carolina, and Tennessee. I've been hearing from them, and I've even heard from Alabama.
TOM: Are there any schools you're hoping to get an offer from?
JEWONE: Those schools we've talked about, because I want to weigh all my options. So we'll see.
TOM: You play inside linebacker now, what are most schools recruiting you for?
JEWONE: Every school is recruiting me as a linebacker. I was told that Ohio State might be recruiting me as a fullback, but I'm not really sure.
TOM: What do you want to play?
JEWONE: I like to play linebacker, whether it's inside or outside. That's where I'm comfortable.
TOM: Your dad was a great player at Michigan, and your uncles played basketball at Michigan State. How has that factored in to this?
JEWONE: Surprisingly, they just want me to go where's best for me. They don't really mind which school I pick. I haven't really asked them anything though. My dad said that back then it was boring, but when we went back up there he saw all the new stuff, he was glad to be back there. He wished they had all that stuff when he was there. We both loved it. All the facilities at every school are great, but Michigan's campus and the Stadium was what caught my eye the most. One of my best friends is Jerald Robinson, and I'm cool with JT Turner too. Jerald's trying to convince me, he's doing a lot of recruiting for the coaches. He told the coaches a lot about me.
TOM: Have you gotten a chance to speak with Greg Robinson?
JEWONE: Yea when I went up there, I talked to him twice. I also talked to Jay Hopkins too. They said that at meetings they talk about me everyday, which feels good. We talked to Coach Carr, and he coached my dad when he played. He was saying that he wished they'd offered now. The linebacker coach was talking to me the whole visit, so I felt like they were really interested.
TOM: So, have you narrowed your list down at all yet? Who's near the top?
JEWONE: I'm still weighing it out, but I have an idea of where they're at. My top 5 is Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Tennessee so far.
TOM: When do you want to decide?
JEWONE: I'll just go with the flow, and take my time. I'm an Ohio State young scholar, so I have an academic scholarship there if nothing else works out.
TOM: If you take a visit, and you feel it's right, will you end it, or are you going to stay patient?
JEWONE: I'm not really sure.It just depends, for all I know that could happen. I can't really answer that, because it would just depend on the situation.
Update 5/12: Video of FL S commit Marvin Robinson. Articles on FL RB Corvin Lamb, MI CB Mylan Hicks (w/ mention of FL OL Brent Benedict), CT LB Khari Fortt, PA DT Sharrif Floyd, MI QB commit Devin Gardner (second), TN QB Barry Brunetti, FL LB Christian Jones (second), OH DE Derrick Bryant, OH S Bobby Swigert, FL OL Torrian Wilson.
Removed MI QB Robert Bolden(dropped M), FL OL Chaz Green(ditto), GA RB Kendrum Malcome(dropped M).
Editorial Opinion: Not a whole lot of movement this week except for some list-narrowing that unsurprisingly slices off Michigan. Next week should be more newsy, as Michigan hosts its major recruiting event between spring practice and summer camp season: the "BBQ at the Big House." A commit or two could shake loose then.
Recruiting board lives here.
- MI QB Robert Bolden narrowed his list to five, then replaced a couple teams when they took quarterback commitments. Michigan isn't on either list; he's off the board. Penn State or Michigan State, probably.
- OH TE Alex Welch committed to Notre Dame.
- GA RB Kendrum Malcome and FL OL Chaz Green have released shortlists that do not feature M.
No earth-shaking developments here: the Bolden writing was on the wall as soon as Gardner committed, and the other folk never seemed strong possibilities.
A few more names likely to find themselves wandering in the wildnerness, haunted by the ghost of Nefarious Eduardo:
- CT LB Khari Fortt is narrowing his list soon, and though Michigan has an offer out "schools expected to make the initial cut include Penn State, Boston College, Virginia, Florida and Southern Cal."
- SC RB Marcus Lattimore now has a solid top three of Auburn, Georgia, and Florida State with UNC and South Carolina following; that promised official visit now seems unlikely.
- FL CB Tony Grimes prefers to stay in state and an offer from Miami makes them the "team to beat."
The three big-time quarterbacks in Michigan gathered at a camp in Wixom last weekend to battle to the death. The result… a tie. Or something. No one's willing to commit to a revised opinion of anyone. Helmholdt on MI QB commit Devin Gardner and friends:
The consensus was that Boisture, a pro-style quarterback, showed the best overall passing ability on the day, but all three quarterbacks had their moments. Bolden and Gardner are of the dual-threat variety, so a camp setting does not showcase all of their abilities. Both have great arm strength, but still need to continue to develop their mechanics.
Rivals is also wishy-washy, headlining their report on the camp "Take Your Pick." Farrell on Gardner:
"Gardner has a release similar to those of Vince Young and Terrelle Pryor. His accuracy on Saturday was above-average considering his mechanics, and he threw some ropes downfield that were dropped by receivers. His frame is impressive, and he has excellent quickness and throws with velocity on the run."
"A release similar to those of Vince Young and Terrelle Pryor" is a backhanded compliment, eh? And then it's followed by another backhanded compliment: accurate "considering his mechanics." As per his rep, Gardner needs work.
A "GolVolsXtra" article starts with the sentence "Tennessee and [FL OL] Torrian Wilson seem like a perfect match," says UT is "looking good" to land him without anything to back that up and then goes into the other schools recruiting him:
Michigan is an intriguing team to watch with Wilson, who said he grew up rooting for the Wolverines.
Wilson, who took an unofficial visit to Michigan for the Wolverines' spring game last month, said he likes Michigan's physical style of play.
"I liked (former Michigan tackle) Jake Long and liked watching the offensive line go after the defensive line every play," Wilson said.
I'm filing this under hilariously slanted and holding steady on Wilson optimism. GBW aids with an interview of teammate (and FL RB) Corvin Lamb (broke fibula; plans signing day decision; "high" interest in Michigan) that goes into Wilson:
Q: You know Torrian Wilson made a visit to Michigan; has he talked to you about it?
Lamb: “Yeah, he’s been wearing his Michigan gear every day.”
JC Shurburtt runs down a bunch of the nation's best linebackers, asserting that OH LB Jordan Hicks is a heavy Texas lean, FL LB Christian Jones is a heavy Florida State lean, FL LB Jeff Luc is highly likely to stay in Florida, and providing this on TX LB Corey Nelson:
Billy Tucker on Nelson: Nelson may be a bit undersized at outside linebackers but like a few of the elite Under Armour All-American linebackers that played before him, he is extremely explosive and plays much bigger. He finds the ball quickly, takes direct angles and displays great acceleration pursuing sideline-to-sideline. His striking closing speed/ burst to the football on outside run support may be his most impressive attribute. Nelson is a collision tackler who generates very impressive velocity in the short-area.
Recruiting Buzz: LSU, Texas A&M, Texas and others are strongly in the mix for Nelson.
That's not even a mention for Michigan, which briefly led in the aftermath of teammate Tony Drake's commitment. Whee! I'm sure Michigan will continue to pursue a visit, but until such point as he comes up I wouldn't get your hopes a-soarin'.
Jones is apparently considering a visit, for what that's worth:
“I haven’t really put together a list, but if I did, (Michigan) would definitely be up there. They have that stadium that I’m pretty sure every player would love to play in,” said Jones. “That just makes you play harder because you don’t want to mess up in front of 100,000 people. That’s something I’d love to do.”
Jones is undecided as to whether or not he will attend a Michigan-run camp this summer. He and his father, however, do plan on visiting the University sometime in the near future.
That's a GBW article working overtime to provide a sunny view on his recruitment and should be eyed skeptically until more neutral parties provide anyone other than Florida State a shot. Watch for that visit, though. There's fluff on Jones from ESPN if you're so inclined.
OH DE Derrick Bryant said he was on the verge of committing to Michigan shortly after signing day, but then backed off that and said he'd wait. Now he's maintaining no leaders:
Bryant said he does not have a favorite at this point and plans to take most, if not all five of his official visits.
"I want to make sure I choose the right school," he said. "Each and every school has something to offer. My job is to find the school that is the best fit for me."
UCLA and Oregon, if the Ducks offer, are in line for some of those officials. I'm not sure if Bryant's coming up for the BBQ this weekend; it would be a bad sign if he didn't. Also from that article: PA DE Kyle Baublitz has 20 or so offers, no leaders, and plans an unofficial visit swing through the Midwest which will hit Michigan.
Speculation And Whatnot
Mike Farrell dropped a ton of stuff late last week; all of this is speculative but Farrell went from pariah to prophet amongst Michigan fans when Shavodrick Beaver did his Tulsa thing and at the very least these are data points. Welch's commitment to ND was predicted, FWIW. Categorized according to impact; Welch's commitment is omitted:
- MI CB Dior Mathis is likely to pick up a UCLA offer soon, with Ohio State possibly hot on their heels. Despite this, Michigan "is the team to beat." Other rumblings have Mathis a silent commitment who just wants to announce at the Army game, which you take seriously at your peril.
- FL QB Jeffery Godfrey is mentioned along with five chasing schools, none of which are Michigan.
- Ditto for TN QB Barry Brunetti, who favors WVU, Mississippi State, and PSU. Michigan hasn't offered, though, and might change that if they did. (Brunetti fluff from ESPN.)
- Michigan isn't mentioned for MD OL Arie Kouandjio, which is fine because that's even tougher to spell than "Smotrycz."
STUFF WE PRETTY MUCH ALREADY KNEW
- FL CB Spencer Boyd is "a heavy Notre Dame lean."
- LA QB Munchie Legaux just got an offer from… Baylor? And… Baylor(?) "could be the team to beat"? Why on earth would anyone from Louisiana with offers from a bunch of big programs go to the worst program in the Big 12 when that program currently has a dynamite starter who will play in front of Legaux his first two years. I do not believe this. It is not possible.
- This has nothing to do with Michigan, but later in the article Farrell says TX S Ahmad Dixon, who is in the Rivals 100 and is committed to Texas, which is Texas I repeat Texas is close to decommitting from the Longhorns in favor of…
LOL WUT goes here.
If either of these things happen my brain will explode.
Anyway, there is also this list of kids expected to show at Michigan's next recruiting event, the "BBQ at the Big House" at the end of the month:
Among those expected to attend include committed linebacker Antonio Kinard, defensive backs Latwan Anderson and Cullen Christian, linebacker Ken Wilkins, offensive linemen Skyler Schofner and Andrew Donnal, running backs Tony Jones and Andre Givens, defensive ends Jibreel Black and Marcus Rush and wide receivers Brandon Ifill and Andrew Carswell. This is, of course, in addition to the majority of the top prospects in the state of Michigan.
Rush, Wilkins and Christian are candidates to drop assuming their offers are, you know, committable. Christian's definitely is. Wilkins and Rush… maybe. Kinard, Wilkins, and Rush are all the same sort of player so Michigan might only take two of the set. Gholston is also scheduled to attend.
As mentioned last week, Tom Lemming promised to drop a couple Michigan prospects in his top ten, and while one of them didn't quite make it the other did. Folk of relevance in his top 100:
9. Devin Gardner
12. Will Gholston
33. Sharrif Floyd
36. Marvin Robinson
55. Dietrich Riley
56. Sean Bailey
69. Corey Nelson
88. Jeff Luc
89. Marquis Flowers
90. Zach Zwinak
98. Munchie Legaux
There are more Michigan has offered, but they're even more distant longshots than a guy like Luc.
You Cannot Replace Zoltan, But You Can Try
Michigan's offered WI P Will Hagerup:
“Michigan offered me,” he reported, adding, “It definitely has a football tradition that is hard to beat and the school itself is in the top two or three in the Big Ten probably. It makes my decision harder.”
Hagerup is probably the country's top punter, if early offers are any indication. He's got a wide variety of Big Ten offers plus Alabama, Florida, and Tennessee.
Etc.: Michigan offered IN RB Roderick Smith; he remains an OSU lock so forget it. Many highlights of FL S commit Marvin Robinson (no embed, sorry). MI CB Mylan Hicks hasn't narrowed anything down. PA DT Sharrif Floyd picks up a Florida offer. Webb on Pahokee folk.
Site note. Yes, you have "points." They don't do anything yet and won't until I can integrate some simple voting mechanisms, but the general idea is: annoy enough people and get enough downvotes and you get temporarily banned; continue on that path and the bans get progressively longer. The math might be tricky, lest I unleash a thermonuclear banhammer holocaust, so be patient.
via reader Bill Rapai
Softballin'. This has been noted multiple times on ye olde right sidebar, but a front page mention: the softball team splattered Baylor this weekend by a total score of 15-2. This was mostly due to a zillion home runs, all of which came after I sagely advised someone that softball homeruns were extremely rare. Go me.
It was actually my first time at Alumni Field. I'd planned on going the week before the insistent rain changed minds. I sat on the other side of a bleacher section from Samantha Findley, marveled at the attendance and the facility, missed a (by then meaningless) home run attempting to find the bathroom, and wished it hadn't gotten chilly so quickly. It was a nice time.
The team has set up a blogslapfight THUNDERDOME against Alabama next weekend at the CWS:
The Wolverines (46-10), seeded No. 5 overall, will play fourth-ranked and fourth-seeded Alabama (52-9) at 7 p.m. Thursday in Bracket 2. The game will be televised live on ESPN from ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
The winner plays the winner of #1 Florida—which is an astounding 60-3—and #9 Arizona; loser hits the loser's bracket.
There is much content elsewhere, including a profile of Carol Hutchins that contains this sentence: "My mom was right there and goes, 'Where else would you get a standing ovation but a bar.'"
Lynch. To hockey recruiting: We already knew that Kyle Woodlief of the Red Line Report was extremely impressed with Kevin Lynch's performance at the U18 World Championships, and his latest USA Today column confirms:
Other big winners from our time spent in Fargo include huge Russian netminder Igor Bobkov, sturdy Canadian winger Kyle Clifford, and two-way American center Kevin Lynch. … Lynch … continued to play his usual strong defensive game while battling ruggedly in front of the net and capitalizing on the chances his hard work created. …
Kevin Lynch— Was a two-way demon and key cog in the U.S. winning gold in Fargo. Showed more tenacity and skill than he had all year.
Lynch could have moved up into the second round with that tournament, and has radically upgraded expectations for his college career across just a few games. "Two-way demon" sounds excellent to me. He and Hagelin can have a fevered backchecking contest.
Smotrycz. I thought Rivals was the last scouting service to do a post-Smotrycz-explosion rerank, but I forgot about ESPN. ESPN has just done a revision and Smotrycz shoots all the way to #47, just in front of Wisconsin decommit Vander Blue and two slots behind Nate Lubick, the one who got away. He's actually in front of hyped MSU commit Keith Appling(!).
Other names of note are #20 Ray McCallum, #22 Casey Prather, #38 Trey Ziegler, and #93 Tim Hardaway, Jr. ESPN is way higher on mini-Hardaway than anyone else, FWIW.
Dingbats. The Detroit Tigers Weblog took a screencap of some young ladies who had dubbed themselves "Clete's Cougars" which got some play across the baseball blogosphere. Then Mike Valenti's crack team of web wizards cracked open their bananas and got to work, posting a non-attributed copy on their site. Billfer, the author of the DTW, was irritated:
Wednesday afternoon I was listening to 97.1 The Ticket (unfortunately the only sports talk around in the afternoon) when host Mike Valenti directed people to 971theticket.com for a picture of Clete’s Cougars. I was curious so I ventured over to see what picture they had, and I was a little surprised to see the picture I had posted. It was there with no mention or link back to my site.
Multiple attempts to contact 97.1 and get a link were not responded to, as per usual. Billfer notes the irony of Valenti complaining about bloggers' lack of accountability. As for me, I'm just glad the guys at 97.1 took my advice to heed and used the "save as" option; the last time they did this they put up a screenshot of this here blog. Way to go, guys. Next up: we discuss the anchor tag.
And now you're probably wondering… is he going to go with the American flag as an excuse for a light day of posting? Yes. Yes I am.
Until tomorrow. Eat some tube meat, kids.
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