to play football, not to play trumpet
Dave Brandon creates the future: the tag: the picture
The Michigan Marching Band has been informed that they won't be going to Dallas, presumably because it puts a dent in the pile of money Michigan will get by selling a home game. Sorry, people who bought tickets. Yes, seats for the band are in the contract. Yes, you've been duped. No, you can't get a refund unless you pay $500 to get on the refund waiting list.
Think about that as you look at a home schedule on which Michigan State is the featured attraction. Dave Brandon couldn't even get the Nebraska game to not be on the road in the same year OSU and ND are. He sold a home game to Jerry Jones because it sounded like a lot of money, then we found out that because the minimum ticket price was $125 he could have scheduled a home and home instead. Jerry Jones is probably laughing his ass off somewhere.
Anyway. I think we should start a Dave Brandon for Governor fund. I'd vote for him! With no ulterior motives whatsoever! #DB4MGov!
Hello. This is an annual series profiling Michigan's incoming recruiting class. I do it so that I have a Kiper-like instant recall of biographical facts on all these guys and because since a information-strewn football season has passed between most of these guys' commitments and now. You read 'em because it's the summer.
A note on "YMRMFSPA": this stands for "you may remember me from such players as." It's not supposed to be a projection of how good a player will be, but rather who he'll remind you of in the event he works out. The players I use as comparisons all worked out. I can't compare someone to Avery Horn because I don't know what Avery Horn played like.
Previously: First of the year
|Madisonville, KY - 6'4" 205|
|Scout||3*, #71 S|
|Rivals||3*, #37 S, #4 KY|
|ESPN||3*, 76, #53 S, #6 KY|
|24/7||3*, #47 S, #8 KY|
|Other Suitors||MAC schools, Illinois, NC State, Cincinatti|
|YMRMFSPA||Ernest Shazor, but sane!
|Previously On MGoBlog||Tom interviews Clark. Tim commit post.|
|Notes||Name is hard to Google.|
A previous highlight reel has been removed from the tubes.
Jeremy Clark lived the life of an itinerant hobo last summer looking for an opportunity to play Big Time college football (or any college football at all), camping at Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky, Austin Peay(!), and probably others early in the summer. He almost succeeded when his camp tour took him to Ohio State in June. There he was one of three defensive backs being heavily evaluated for an offer. Najee Murray was the immediate winner in that derby; OSU told the other two guys they were "interested." He got his first smattering of offers in the aftermath.
The next weekend Clark hit up Michigan's camp and got his wish: a grayshirt offer that he took immediately, short-circuiting further developments with OSU and anyone else. By the time he grabbed the grayshirt he was turning down you-can-play-now offers from Illinois, Cincinnati and NC State: Clark wants big time.
He'll get it, and he'll get it this fall after Michigan upgraded him to the full-fledged offer in mid-October. This was a talent thing. Clark had been told that if Jarrod Wilson, Michigan's main safety target in the class, picked someone other than Michigan that he'd get the full offer, but by the time Clark was moved to 2012 Wilson had been committed to Michigan for a couple months. This was also before Michigan's late run of disappointment in the 2012 class. It was a move spurred by his play as a senior…
“They sent their coach down to watch practice last week and they were so impressed with him and our team,” Weaver said. “They wanted to get him on campus right away.”
Clark … and the rest of the Maroon secondary shut down Lone Oak QB Cole Ousley last week. … “I thought he was a very good football player,” Lone Oak head coach Orville Haskins said. “Their skill kids are really good.”
…and designed to ward off any suitors offering what Michigan was unwilling to. So he'll be on campus in the fall.
The main questions about Clark are these:
Is he really a 6'4" safety?
Can he run?
How legit was this interest from Ohio State and "other (SEC) suitors"?
Question 1: probably. That picture above is one tall, narrow dude, and there's no jitter in any of the recruiting services' listings save for a 6'2" handed out by ESPN. Everyone else says 6'4". Maybe he's really 6'3". He's still really tall for a defensive back. As far as the safety bit of that question, yeah, very probably. Part of his extreme sleeper status was the usual crazy growth spurt:
“He has the potential to be the best player I’ve coached ,” Weaver said. “He grew four inches from the summer of his sophomore year to his junior year. He grew four inches and runs a 4.4 40 (yard dash).
“He can fly and he likes to hit.”
So he's used to the idea of being a 6'0" safety. The only thing that would drag him away would be the height making it problematic to stay there.
That doesn't seem like it's going to be the case. When he committed Scout replicated this Sam Webb evaluation from camp:
This 6-4, 175-lb. safety was one of the surprises of the day. He flashed good speed and EXCELLENT ball skills. He is a bit of a sleeper on the national scene because he has grown four inches since last fall. Just as impressive was the fact that he soaked up the coaching like a sponge and just seemed to really be relishing the overall experience. After his showing today, the Wolverines are definitely wide awake to his talents. Cincinnati just offered him and don’t be surprised if a number of others, including Michigan, turn up the heat.
ESPN also says free safety all the way($) in an evaluation that's more positive than his ranking:
Clark is a tall and rangy free safety prospect with a lot of production. Very lean without a lot of bulk, strength and power to his frame right now but we like his upside and room for development as an overall player. Not yet a real explosive defender at this point but mobility and range are good. Covers a lot of ground and is active around the ball. Shows good instincts and awareness skills. Displays very good range and the ability to get over the top of routes in deep coverage. Utilizes his length to his advantage. Tracks the ball well and will go up and high-point utilizing his great height and extension. Does a good job reading the quarterback and underneath route development from a centerfield position. … Lunges as a tackler and lets up some leaky yardage. Tends to drag and question ability to provide stout run support in the box early on in college. Overall, Clark has the height, range and instincts coveted in a safety prospect. Has some weaker areas as well but feel most will be improved as he continues to work on his physical development and becomes comfortable in his taller frame. Has a high ceiling.
Weaknesses are his man-to-man technique, ability to make tight turns, and tackling/run support issues but ESPN feels "most will be improved as he continues to work on his physical development and becomes comfortable in his taller frame. Their evaluation of his ceiling: "high."
Trieu's assessment is less down on the tackling but similar otherwise:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Clark is a tall defensive back that has to add some weight to his frame, but loves to come up and hit. Is willing to throw his body around, takes good angles to the football and delivers strong blows to ball carriers. Good straight line speed, but can be a little upright and straight legged in his back pedal. Good range and overall ball skills. - Allen Trieu
His coach echoes the praise($) for his smarts, saying "He has a great speed, he's very physical. He's a really smart kid. And he has a knack for getting to the football." If he doesn't work out at safety I'd guess the ball skills and the size mean a move to WR is more likely than linebacker. Also Michigan has all of the linebackers.
As far as question 2, Clark evidently ran a 4.47 40 at WKU when he hit up their camp the day after OSU's—itinerant hobo, I'm telling you—and a 4.48($) at the Cincinnati camp. If true and not a hilariously under-clocked hand-timing, yes, he can run. If? If. Elsewhere he's listed at 4.7, considerably less enthralling. I'd say he can run enough. Every scouting report has at least mild praise for his straight-line speed. There was even a random rumble($) from Rivals that Clark could play corner after Clark reported that Curt Mallory told him he could play "anywhere in the secondary($)," which would be… interesting.
I probably shouldn't have even brought up #3, as it's inherently unknowable. Erratic rumors that Florida(!), of all teams, was going to come in with an offer if Michigan didn't budge off the grayshirt don't seem credible, since they still could have offered after it. However, Clark's coach did name names once, in a Rivals article($) from Andy Reid:
"That's how he's taking it, and he's fully on board for Michigan. I've had some other schools call me to try and hop in on him now, that offered him to come in as a regular 2012 recruit. But I've talked to his parents, and we're firm. Once he committed, he's done."
Since Clark committed, he's received offers from Cincinnati and N.C. State to come in as a regular 2012 recruit. Weaver has also fielded calls from Florida and South Carolina expressing interest, but Clark has not reciprocated said interest.
You can spin that into an offer was totally coming if Clark showed reciprocal interest if you like. Clark's dad also made an oblique reference($) to "other schools" calling him in the fall by way of explaining Clark's loyalty. Given Clark's profile it's not hard to see teams being wary until seeing senior-year performance. The local paper reports that Clark only played in five games as a junior, and there was the whole growth spurt thing.
If you're making a case that the recruiting services have been excessively cautious in their evaluations of Clark and he's underrated, you've got a good deal of ammo. This is the kind of camp offer that I like to see: an under-the-radar kid with a big ceiling. Sometimes they never work out (Mike Cox), but at least you're not picking up a guy whose top end is decent. Add in Clark's loyalty, dedication, and frame and Michigan may have something here.
Clark had 70 tackles, 15 pass breakups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, three interceptions and four defensive touchdowns as a senior. During his junior season, Clark had 75 tackles, eight pass breakups and three interceptions.
"A guy that we had in camp and watched run around and watched his film and thought he was a great fit."
Scored a lot of touchdowns on defense and special teams, including a fumble rumble, an 81-yard punt return, and going 3 for 3 on housing interceptions.
Why Ernest Shazor? Admittedly a huge reach since Shazor was one of the most touted recruits in the country and Clark is… not. But it was either that or pick a 6'0" kid. This seems less inaccurate.
Shazor is the only Michigan safety in recent memory with a frame comparable to Clark. What Clark lacks in recruiting hype and the athleticism that saw Shazor become a five star he will hopefully make up for by not being a complete nutcase who gave up more long touchdowns than anyone during Michigan's long search for halfway competent safety play. Shazor started out of necessity, blew it time and again,—he's still looking for Deandra Cobb—checked out entirely after murdering Dorien Bryant to save that one Purdue game, and went from a projected second rounder to out of football in a month or two.
If anything, this is being harsh to Clark. If he starts for as long as Shazor does he'll be a much better player.
Guru Reliability: Low. Kentucky is not heavily scouted and Clark was a virtual nobody until his commitment, when the sites shrugged and gave him the Default Three Stars We Give Almost All Random Michigan Sleeper Commits.
Variance: Large, large, large. A junior year injury, the growth spurt, the uncertainty about speed and the obscure location.
Ceiling: High. 6'4" safeties who can go are rarities.
General Excitement Level: Give it a B+. Clark's profile does fit that of a plausible sleeper, and his size will be a major asset if he works out. The link above in which Tom talks to Clark's father gives the impression that he comes from a high-quality environment, as does his refusal to consider anyone other than M even when he was on a grayshirt, and he should come close to maxing out that talent. I like Clark's profile more than most of Michigan's three-stars this year; he's not quite Sleeper of the Year but I give him a good shot at being a contributor.
Projection: Obvious redshirt with 4-6 guys likely in front of him this fall including classmate Jarrod Wilson, an early enrollee. After that he looks like a free safety all the way, hopefully one with sufficient instincts and straight-line speed to bring that frame into play. That means another year cooling his heels behind Thomas Gordon before being in serious contention for a job.
I kind of think he gets one, though. Wilson will provide stiff competition but may do so at strong safety after bulking up. Clark's never going to be the guy you want charging down into the box to Kovacs people and brings a skillset to free safety that could be tough to match.
Molk as Rimington finalist: check, plus. Kelvin Grady's 30 catches: not so much.
Spring football is over, meaning we're entering the darkest days of the offseason, the times when college football bloggers must get creative (aigh!) and come up with something, anything, to post while hoping nobody on the team gets arrested (usually as a product of being as bored with the offseason as us).
This is one of those posts.
Last year, Brian went HAM with his football preview, churning out so much content that I ended up previewing Western lest the first game pass without comment. Now I get to look back on all of Brian's hard work, use hindsight as a crutch to make me look intelligent, and critique his predictions. It's up to you to decide whether it's coincidence that I'm doing this while he's rather incapacitated.
This review will be posted in three parts. Today, I'll look at the offensive personnel. Later, I'll tackle the defense (ooh, role reversal), then finally look at special teams and Brian's "stupid predictions," (his term, not mine). This first post was less fun than I expected; outside of some inflated projections for the wide receivers, Brian kinda nailed it when it came to the offense. BOO.
Koger's role will be up to him. He'll be somewhere between a B- and B+ blocker and will have opportunities to establish himself a major part of the passing game. Our sample size on his hands is still very small and the bad part is now two years removed and he's quite an athlete—his upside is high. I can't help but think he's been held back by things other than Rich Rodriguez's preferences, though. I'm betting on a good but unmemorable senior year.
I have a difficult time coming up with a better description for Kevin Koger's final Michigan season. He was a solid, but unspectacular, blocker who recorded 23 catches for 244 yards and four touchdowns. That was more production than he'd had under Rodriguez, but I had to check MGoBlue to see if he even earned All-Big Ten honorable mention (he did). My lasting memories of Koger will remain the insane catch against Western in 2009 and his battles with the dropsies the next year, along with his "KogerNotKroger" Twitter handle.
The Mouton comparison is ominous since we just watched that guy start for three years without getting any better, but Lewan hasn't suffered at the hands of poor coaching yet and won't in the future. This should be the year he drops the crazy hot girl act and establishes himself as an All Big Ten left tackle. He'll still be a little penalty-prone but it will be worth it.
Taylor Lewan earned second-team All-B1G honors from the coaches, honorable mention from the media, and generally was the team's best non-Molk offensive lineman. He still took a few dumb penalties, but not as many as he did in 2010. Again, spot on, old chap.
That is admittedly me trying to find a concern. David Molk is great. You can never tell which interior linemen are going to be up for postseason awards but I'll be incensed if he's not All Big Ten after a healthy year. I think he'll be a Rimington finalist.
See: picture at top of post.
Al Borges is going to do his damndest to keep Denard productive, upright, and beaming.
Check, check, and of course, check.
He'll give Denard a more sophisticated offense that he won't execute as well as Borges needs him to; he'll use Denard's legs but not quite as effectively as Rodriguez would have. These guys are good because they've spent a lot of time specializing in ways that make them successful. There is a necessary lack of efficiency once they get outside their comfort zones.
It was a near-impossible task for Denard to replicate his 2010 rushing production under Borges, especially since the coaches explicitly stated that wasn't at all the goal. He still finished as the team's leading rusher, broke the 1,000-yard barrier, scored 16 rushing touchdowns, and averaged over five yards per carry. As for the execution of the offense as a whole: yup, there were some efficiency issues. Yards/attempt, completion percentage, and passing efficiency all dropped, while interceptions rose to an unsightly 15. This prediction didn't exactly go out on a limb, but that didn't make it any less right.
Yards per carry drop quite a bit but nose above 5.
2010 YPC: 5.58.
2011 YPC: 5.15.
If [Junior Hemingway] can manage [to stay healthy] through the season he's going to end the year with a ton of catches. Even if the Michigan offense doesn't go full MANBALL right away continued development from Denard Robinson will make difficult pro-style throws that frequently target outside wide receivers more feasible; Borges's offense will make them more frequent. Combine that with Hemingway's main skill and there will be jump balls for the taking.
ALL OF THE JUMP BALLS. This piece of prognostication would've made it into the above category if not for this next bit:
If he can maintain his 18.5 YPC he'll challenge Roundtree for the most receiving yards on the team. Expect a bit under 1,000 yards from him.
Hemingway actually averaged a tic above 20 YPC and still led the team in receptions, but leading the team meant catching 34 passes for 699 yards. Junior did manage to stay healthy, which was nice, and then stole all of our hearts during (and after) the Sugar Bowl. Y U NO PREDICT HE STEAL OUR HEARTS, BRIAN?
Huyge's flexibility will allow Michigan to flip Schofield onto the field if anyone other than Molk goes down. He's likely to start a few games in preparation for a full time role in 2011… unless he rips the job away from Huyge right now.
Given the way Huyge's career has gone and the general vibe coming from camp chatter and Funk's public statements, that's a strong possibility. Huyge's never been much of a pass blocker and Michigan's offense is going to require quite a bit more of that as Robinson starts making more and more five and seven step drops.
This was right on in that a non-Molk OL (Ricky Barnum) went down with an injury, and Michael Schofield was the man to replace him. What Brian didn't see coming—and I don't think anyone predicted this—is that Huyge would remain at tackle while Schofield filled in admirably at left guard, keeping the job even after Barnum returned.
Tousssaint [extra 's' there, boss] seems to have that jittery short-range quickness that allows little guys to survive, even thrive, as they pick their way through the chaos.
I'm hoping he emerges as the guy. If he beats out a healthy Shaw he'll be well on his way to translating that tape to college, and I could get used to a jump-cutting Houdini with sprinter's speed. Toussaint is the offense's Roh: the wildcard. Anything from Mike Hart (except crappy :( ) to Mike Hart (except fast!) is possible.
No full credit here what with the significant hedging and the fact that Brian had Michael Shaw listed as the (tenuous) starter, even though that's because Brady Hoke flat-out said so before the season. Instead, Toussaint was the man all year, rushing for 1,041 yards on 5.6 YPC and surpassing all reasonable expectations in the process. Fitz's speed turned out to be more of the sprinter's variety than what he showed in his previous, injury-plagued season, and the jump-cuts were plentiful. He wasn't quite Mike Hart (except fast!); Michigan didn't need that with Denard playing quarterback. The potential is there, however.
Michigan finishes around 15th in FEI and other advance metrics. By yardage they drop to about the same spot; scoring offense increases from 25th to match.
Brian actually underestimated the offense in terms of the advanced metrics—9th in FEI—though successfully predicted that it wouldn't quite match the #2 rank of the previous year. Yardage fell to 42nd in the country, and scoring offense was 26th. The larger point remained true—the offense was quite efficient, but not quite at the level of 2010's spread-and-shred—but the raw numbers didn't quite match up.
Not So Much
Roundtree's production will drop this year as Michigan tries to get Hemingway and Koger more involved. He can't expect set the single-game receiving record every year. He'll still run neck and neck with Hemingway fro [sic] the most receiving yards on the team. [Ed-S: hey, I remember that vacation--it was nice]
Roundtree's production did drop, just more significantly than expected. With QB OH NOES mostly gone from the offense (and Roundtree flat-out dropping the one such opportunity I recall), he finished with just 19 catches for 355 yards, well behind both Hemingway and Jeremy Gallon on the stat sheet. Speaking of Gallon...
Entering his final season [Kelvin] Grady's best shot at extensive playing time is based on 1) a lot of three wide and 2) Roundtree playing mostly on the outside. In that situation he's the established veteran. He'd get a crack at screens and seams and whatnot en route to a breakout mini-'Tree year. More likely is a moderately increased role as Roundtree bounces inside and out with around 30 catches.
First, a sadface— :( —for the lack of screens, not to mention blitheringly wide-open seams. Now, Grady's final stat line: five catches, 75 yards. Brian did recover with a nice hedge—"It could go sour for Grady if Jeremy Gallon translates chatter into playing time"—especially since Gallon produced Grady's projected stat line: 31 catches netting 453 yards. Still, swing and a miss on which player would produce said stat line, and I'm really reaching for stuff to critique here
Denard rushes for 1200 yards. His interception rate falls significantly but is still not great.
Shaw claims the starting job to himself in week four, gets injured shortly after, and Toussaint takes over. Both are much better than Smith at making extra yards. At the end of the year they've all got somewhere between 400 and 800 yards.
Toussaint's rapid rise wasn't foreseen by Brian, who expected more of a backfield-by-committee, especially in the early going. Shaw never captured the starting job, appeared in nine games, and finished with 199 yards on 31 carries. That made Shaw a more effective runner than Smith, who had 298 yards on 50 carries, but both were surprisingly effective (6.42 YPC for Shaw, 5.96 for Smith, though obviously in limited action for both).
Hopkins creates windows other backs don't. When three yards and a cloud of dust is a win, he'll be in there.
Or he'll continue putting the ball on the ground—see: Denard's immaculate rushing TD against Notre Dame—and get relegated to fullback.
Me-date. If you're thinking about tearing your ACL, let me give you some advice: skip it and have some ice cream instead. I'm limping around vaguely now and gingerly moving my leg back and forth so that it doesn't get stuck in one position forever*, taking serious painkillers, and falling asleep all the damn time.
That's the main problem. Large parts of the past week that I thought I'd be working have been spent either asleep or doing this:
no srs I'm awake
I thought I was fine when I posted that UV a day after the surgery and then was somewhere between asleep and falling asleep for the next two days straight. Add in two to three hours of gingerly moving the leg around per day and despite things getting better productivity is still low. Bear with me. In my stead Ace and Seth and the Mathlete have been putting in yeoman work.
I'm experimenting with a prescription-painkiller-free day as we speak and it hasn't been too bad. Productivity can only increase from here.
*[That thing your mom said about your face? Yeah, that's apparently true for knees.]
Something something bride before the mall /BOOM SINGIN' MATT MILLEN'D. The Great Dantonio's latest dig:
Up the road in East Lansing, however, Michigan State shrugs off talk about the Wolverines regaining their super power status under Brady Hoke. The Spartans are confident of their own standing and future prospects.
"We're laying in the weeds," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio says with a half smile. "We've beat Michigan the last four years. So where's the threat?"
This proves Dantonio is either A) the boss of this town and isn't afraid to let people know it or B) has passed the denial phase of his Kubler-Ross acceptance that the new boss is the same as the old boss and is settling into anger, with bargaining to come in a year or two. Hopefully this works out as well as The Hecklinski Incident—good name for a sci-fi novel there—did for him. The days where Michigan and Michigan State have anywhere near the same talent level are in the process of ending. Might take another year or two, but if I was MSU I'd make hay now.
How the sausage is made. ESPN has released three videos detailing their rankings process. Given the Mathlete's post earlier today, the fourth one will be entitled "…and then we all ignore all that and pile everyone from the SEC footprint into the top 50" but I appreciate the transparency. ESPN is planning on releasing a 2014 150 in… August. Yeesh.
ESPN says they have no regional dudes at all and farms out a particular set of position groups to scouts who do rankings for everyone at that spot, which does sound good. The Mathlete's methodology is suggestive but could have a systematic issue: since it relies extensively on all-conference teams and there's always an all-conference team even if you suck, ESPN cramming all those players from one region who go to one conference into the top end of their rankings would make them look worse even if they were right. The recent SEC-SEC-SEC business makes it at least plausible that ESPN is right. Adding another level of detail with NFL draft results would help sanity check that.
Poking around 2013 kids. Basketball is, that is. But apparently not Bo Ziegler, who told Inside The Hall that Michigan had not been much of a factor:
On other schools recruiting him hard:
“Pretty much the same schools that you heard about. Providence, Iowa State, Michigan State. Michigan was coming for a minute but I guess they’ve backed off. I’ll probably get a few more looks once we hit the AAU circuit.”
That is probably not a momentary oversight; Michigan has had a lot of time to think about this stuff. John Beilien, Y NO LIKE ZIEGLERS?
Instead, meet two new prospects:
- NJ combo guard Jaren Sina, a consensus four star who ranks in the bottom half of the top 100 everywhere. Sina committed to Alabama a while back before reconsidering. Beilein went out to watch him and the kid seems extremely interested. Pitt, Villanova, and Alabama are his biggest offers at the moment.
- NJ PF/SF Reggie Cameron. You know a guy is a Beilein recruit when he's listed at 6'7" and starts his lists of strengths off with "my jump shot." Other evaluations list him at 6'5" so it's up for debate as to whether he can be a stretch four to give Michigan that Smotrycz option or if he's pretty much a wing and wing only. Dave Telep called him a "hybrid 4-man"($) who plays small forward on offense and guards bigs on D; his stroke was praised. I hope Michigan's done with 6'5" power forwards, but maybe he grows some. Cameron is usually in the 100-150 range on recruiting sites.
Michigan could take both these guys as long as someone goes to the NBA next year, which is a near-certainty. Sina could provide minutes at the one and two, Cameron the three and maybe the four or two.
Meanwhile in the class of 2013, Rivals revamped its basketball rankings for that year. Irvin slid a little to #63; Walton and Donnal rose a little to #72 and #116. Irvin's down six spots, Walton up 15, Donnal up 8.
Ahem. Just going to leave this here.
It's in the store. Consume!
Whoah, whoa-oh oh oh oh. We own Penn State. The halycon era:
You know this already but I was asleep so my tab is still open. ND's Aaron Lynch, who you may remember being terrifying last year, is leaving ND. Bwahaha. Unfortunately, Brian Kelly recruited his balls off on the DL in that class so there's plenty of talent left behind. None of them were quite Lynch, who I remember coming in to the ND-MSU game and running around MSU OL like they were not there. Not having to face him the next three years is a lot like seeing Michael Floyd transfer after his freshman year. Which would have been cool.
Also old: this. Mary Sue Coleman said Michigan wouldn't be putting the Fab Five banners up, causing a twitter hissy from Jalen Rose I can't be bothered to go find again. No school is ever going to put up a banner for a game the NCAA made them vacate. That is a banner that says "congratulations: you technically weren't at the Final Four!"
Surely no one can be surprised by this. The only topic more tired than Fab Five banners is the #1 jersey, and no one's—oh hell, we're talking about this again. For the love of cripes, just offer it to LaQuon Treadwell and let's be done with this. The only thing this Braylon scholarship thing has done is made it so no one wears the number.
Etc.: Freshman RB TJ Yeldon goes ham at Alabama spring game (against the second team D). Denardfluff. I'll probably write more about this at a later juncture, but here's a Smart Football post on the future of the NFL being more shotgun high-tempo stuff. I don't mind a pro-style offense if it's actually a pro-style offense and not what a pro-style offense used to be in 1970. More Smart Football: the monster defense of old and its resurgence.
McGary. McGary DROP. MCGARY MAD. MCGARY SMASH. MCGARY SAY THINGS ABOUT HATERZ THAT IGNORE THE USEFUL SOCIETAL EFFECTS THAT RESULT FROM DISAPPROVING THINGS THAT ARE WACK. BUT THAT OKAY IF MCGARY SMASH.
Matthew Stafford (Rivals #6 overall, 2006) and Mitch Mustain (Rivals #10 overall, 2006)
With the ESPN150 hot off of the presses yesterday, all four major sites now have an updated Top 150/247/250/300 list available for the 2013 class. I wanted to dive in and look at how each service has performed over the years. Would any site stand out as doing a better job of predicting success? Do allegations of regional bias play out for any specific services?
Typically considered the gold standard (unless another site has the player you like rated higher), Rivals online archives are available back to 2002. They have produced a ranked Top 250 since 2008 (Terrelle Pryor was the original #1 recruit) and an unranked Top 250 list in 2006-2007. Since 2002 they have classified between 25 and 33 players as five stars and typically have about 300 four-stars per class.
Like Rivals, online archives go back to 2002. They're a bit more generous on the five-stars, extending the honor to exactly 50 high school seniors per class since 2008. The larger group of five-stars is offset by smaller group of four-stars that round out the rest of the Scout 300 ranking that has been available since 2005.
The Worldwide Leader joined the recruiting party in 2006. No one is stingier with the fifth star than ESPN, offering up between 11 and 18 each season since they went crazy with 42 in their first year. The ESPN four-star threshold is also a bit tougher. Last year the number peaked at 238 but prior to that the total was closer to 200 per class.
The newest service is 247 Sports, which did a barebones review of the 2010 class before jumping in head first for the last two completed classes. Their best-of list ranks the top 247 players (just like their name, get it?) and is in line with Rivals in terms of number of five- and four-star rated players. Their later entry into the group has allowed them to provide what is, in my opinion, the best website in terms of navigation and ease of use. For the most part they are excluded from these evaluations since the first class they fully rated were only freshman last season.
This is where it gets tricky. Do you evaluate on hits or misses or both? Based on available, accessible information I decided that hits would be easier to quantify and really what you want to know about a service. Who does a better job of predicting future stars? By stars I defined them as players who earned all-conference or AP All-American status for a BCS conference school. First team all-conference honors were weighted double and AP All-Americans were weighted triple. If a player earned awards for multiple years, their value was weighted for each season depending on their level.
Each recruit was given an overall ranking for each service in each season. If there was a formal ranking, I used my method to complete the rankings behind them. I used star values and position rankings to approximate a ranking. All five-stars were ranked first, then four-stars and finally three-stars. Each player was ranked in position order and the positions were allocated based on total quantity in each group. This way the #4 fullback wasn’t rated the same way as the #4 wide receiver. Kickers and punters were excluded.
The square root of the rank was then used to further accentuate the differences at the top end of the rankings. Ratings were capped at 1000 and any unranked player was given that value. ESPN was evaluated solely based on the 2006 and later classes.
Who Rates the Best (at Rating)
Overall, Rivals gave the highest average rating to a future star. The weighted average ranking of a player to earn post-season honors from Rivals was #268. Scout wasn’t far behind at 281 and ESPN lagged further back at 329. Here is how each service did by recruiting class (lower is better):
Rivals dominated from 2002-2006 before Scout picked up a couple seasons in 2007 and 2008. With plenty of eligibility left for the 2009 class it’s still anyone’s game. Rivals has jumped out to an early lead for the 2010 class and the 2011 class is 60% comprised of Sammy Watkins and generally pointless at this point in its lifecycle. ESPN has failed to come close for any completed classes, although the 2009 class to date has been neck-and-neck between all three services with probably two-thirds of the results still outstanding.
Offensive Ratings-Weighted Average National Rank of Post-Season Honorees
ESPN finally picks up a win in the tightly contested quarterback evaluations. As you can see by the lower numbers, picking future all-conference quarterbacks has proved to be one of the easier tasks among rating services. ESPN’s average rank of 135 puts them ahead of both Rivals and Scout.
Scout does the best at wide receiver with Rivals a bit back. ESPN is not very close to the leaders at any offensive positions other than quarterback. Their results for both offensive linemen and running backs are particularly lacking.
Defensive Ratings-Weighted Average National Rank of Post-Season Honorees
It’s a clean sweep for Rivals on the defensive side of the ball. Scout is never far from, but still consistently behind, Rivals. ESPN is a distant third across all position groups, at least 20% higher than Rivals in every category and nearly 25% overall.
Conference Ratings-Weighted Average National Rank of Post-Season Honorees
The criticism of ESPN having an SEC bias and west coast neglect certainly shows up in the evaluations. SEC is the conference ESPN clearly wins and the ACC is a narrow win. All the other conferences are just carnage for ESPN while Rivals again takes a majority of wins. Scout is virtually tied for the Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12 while lapping the field for the always crucial Big East rankings. It is difficult to tell whether the ESPN success is due to better rankings on players ultimately landing at ACC and SEC schools or if they are just giving a flat lift to those conferences. The fact that 1 in 3 players on the 2013 Top 150 are from Florida or Georgia probably indicates that at least some of the success comes from allocating preferential spots to players from the SEC footprint.
Here is how each service allocated their ranking slots to geographies. Higher rankings are weighted heavier and each player’s home state was allocated to one of the five major conferences (sorry Big East) based on their geography.
Players from ACC territory were the most consistently allocated across all four services. ESPN and 247 allocate fewer prime slots to the Big Ten versus Rivals and Scout. ESPN is a major outlier out west as the Pac-12 footprint garners much lower rankings there than at any of the other three. The SEC evaluations pick up about 40% from 247 and ESPN versus 35% and below from Rivals and Scout. This gap has narrowed some in more recent years, but there is still a strong bias from 247 and ESPN towards players from the SEC footprint.
In terms of ability to predict future success, Rivals stands out as the clear winner among all of the services. Scout is not significantly behind and has closed the gap in recent seasons. Rivals predictions proved more accurate at five of the seven position groups and overall for both sides of the ball. ESPN is a distant third in almost every sub-category with the exception being quarterback where they lead the most closely contested position group.
The services appear to be mirrored in their regional biases. ESPN and 247 slant to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions with a clear sub valuation of the West Coast. Rivals and Scout don’t have dramatic swings to any one region but do give less value to the Southeast with the extra spread across the rest of the country.
While Michigan’s 11 [players in the...] Top 150 showing is absolutely a good thing, ESPN has proven to be the least reliable of the three established services. Historically, 30.5% of the weighted post-season honorees originally appeared in the ESPN 150 while Scout and Rivals have each had at least 34% in their Top 150’s. The differences aren’t massive and all sites have had their misses, but overall there is clear evidence that Rivals is the most consistently correct and that Scout is a strong #2. Although the individual players fluctuate, the overall ratings for Michigan’s class to date are essentially identical between Rivals, Scout and ESPN with 247 being lower on it than any other service.
Bonus: Protecting Conference Turf
Not looking at recruiting services but conferences now, I wanted to see which conferences did the best job of keeping the best players from their region in-house. Each state was split between conferences based on number of schools in a given state. States without BCS conference teams were excluded. This isn’t perfect because there is no way Cincinnati and the Big East have the same share of Ohio as the Big Ten and its school in Ohio. But it makes each school among the Big Six theoretically even and provides a good starting point.
|Conference||Total FP Pts||Split FP Pts||Signed FP Pts||Signed/ Total||Signed/ Split|
The Pts are an estimate of the total value of the recruits within a footprint. The total includes points for all players to any conference with a school in that region. The split is an allocation based on number of BCS conference schools in that state in each conference. Not surprisingly, the conferences with the smallest geographic competition, the Big XII and the Pac-12 signed the highest percentages of their available recruits. After splitting up the states, the SEC actually signs more than their allocation of the footprint. The Big Ten is close behind but work from a much smaller pool. If the SEC is able to make make gains in Texas (they currently have a 12% “share”) with the addition of A&M, the talent gap between the SEC and the rest of the conferences could widen.
All-Americans and presidents: the future of ALL our recruits.
Every year during Spring Practice, because I'm exactly that kind of geek, I start trying to predict what the jersey numbers will be of incoming freshmen. This probably started back when I was still buying annual versions of the EA Sports game that they're still labeling a year off, which meant my virtual freshmen needed to be in iconic jerseys while real freshmen were in prom suits/coed naked t-shirts/whatever they're wearing these days.
This is an exercise fraught with danger, and likely to be 80% to 90% incorrect given all of the variables like current players changing numbers, walk-ons getting shoved out of the way, numbers with special meaning, and the randomness of the universe, etc. What we have to go on are the traditions of the coaching staff (for example Rodriguez was much higher on repeating digits between units; Hoke seems more like Carr in limiting these), high school numbers, birthdays, actuary tables, and the general availability of digits.
Let's start with what's not available. I'm guessing it's unlikely that a freshman is going to receive a "Michigan Football Legend" number (so far that is just 21). I'm also giving walk-ons the benefit of the doubt if someone from another unit is already wearing their number. (Right: from SI's best college player for each number)
Numbers they can't have: 1 (Edwards scholarship goes to current players), 4 (Steve Wilson and Cam Gordon), 5 (Justice Hayes and Courtney Avery), 7 (Gardner and Hawthorne), 8 (Bellomy and J.T. Floyd), 11 (retired for Wisterts), 14 (Jack Kennedy and Josh Furman), 27 (Jon Keizer and Mike Jones), 38 (Thomas Rawls and Al Backey), 40 (Nate Allspach and Antonio Poole), 47 (retired), 48 (retired), 57 (Elliott Mealer and Frank Clark), 87 (retired), 98 (retired).
Special Teamers' numbers: You can't have two players with the same number on the field at the same time, so very rarely will you see a special teams starter's number shared with another player, else that player might not be able to play on special teams if needed. The exception here is quarterbacks (e.g. former KOS Troy Nienberg shared 10 with Clayton Richard in 2003 and '04). Special teamers who don't start don't count (e.g. Nienberg shared 6 with Victor Hobson and Alijah Bradley in '01 and '02). This year those numbers are 34 (Gibbons), 43 (Hagerup), 45 (Wile), 46 (Broekhuizen), and 54 (Jareth Glanda, long snapper and sometime immaculate receiver).
How Do the Football Legends Work Now? 21 is open on both sides of the ball.
Available on Defense Only: These are the numbers already held by scholarship players on offense. They are unlikely to be used because Hoke doesn't seem to like repeating numbers across units: 2, 10, 12, 16, 17, 26, 28, 33, 36, 52, 56, 58, 60, 65, 75, 77, 80, 83, 89, 94.
Available on Offense Only: 3, 6, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 30, 32, 35, 37, 41, 44, 49, 55, 67, 73, 76, 88, 90, 92, 95, 97
Just a Walk-On in the way: Walk-ons who make the two deep often change their numbers; those who don't often have a scholarship player take their numbers. There are exceptions; for example Mike Kwiatkowski is working his way into the tight end rotation and it's not like anyone desires 81 that much. I left out Burzynski who's on the projected two-deep already. The rest: 13 (Alex Swieca), 19 (Charlie Zeller) 23 (Floyd Simmons), 42 (Dylan Esterline), 61 (Graham Glasgow), 69 (Erik Gunderson), 70 (Kristian Mateus), 81 (Mike Kwiatkowski), 85 (Joe Reynolds), 93 (Chris Eddins), 96 (Baquer Sayed), 99 (Paul Gyarmati).
Currently Unused (Most Likely to be taken): 9, 15, 29, 31, 39, 50, 51, 53, 59, 62, 63, 64, 66, 68, 71, 72, 74, 78, 79, 82, 84, 86, 91
So here's the dudes who need numbers:
|Name||Pos.||# in HS||Tea Leaves||Best Guess|
|A.J. Williams||TE||88||n/a||88 – Open on offense; Roh will be gone next year.|
|Allen Gant||S||7 and 14||Father Tony wore 14||14 – Not filled with confidence re: Furman (I don't know any more than you do)|
|Amara Darboh||WR||15||Wore 415 at Nike Camp, favorite athlete is Carmelo Anthony who wore 15 in Denver||15 - book it.|
|Ben Braden||OL||51||Wants to play right away||51 - it's open now so why not|
|Blake Bars||OL||67||Wore 542 at Army game||72 - Honestly I'm just assigning OT numbers.|
|Chris Wormley||DE||47||Wore 842 at Nike camp, 44 in hoops||84 or 68 – This one has me stumped.|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB/KR||21||Wears 2 for hoops team, wore 80 at BoMW camp. Received his Michigan offer on 2/1. Born on 2/8||21 if available, or 31 - I don't know how they'll use Legends numbers now. If freshmen can have them it's an easy pick.|
|Devin Funchess||TE||5 and 15||No. 5 TE according to ESPN||85 - Move over Joe Reynolds.|
|Drake Johnson||RB||2 and 18||Was a QB at first and chose 18 for Peyton Manning, then 2 for Woodson. His college # will be someone good||32 or 6 or 23 - Drake is well versed in M RB lore|
|Erik Magnuson||OL||77||77 in US Army game, 714 at NFTC, 74 at Nike camp, 31 in hoops||78 - See Bars|
|James Ross||LB||6||Born 6/26. Wore 34 at Intl Bowl||36 – Going out on a limb with this one.|
|Jehu Chesson||WR||5||Wants the 1. Wore 357 at Army Bowl, 164 at NFTC||82 - with an eye on changing one day?|
|Jeremy Clark||S||2||Born 6/29||29 - Woolfolk-ish player, birthday, open, fits.|
|Kyle Kalis||OL||67||67 here, 67 there, 67 everywhre.||67 - Brink has it on D so no problem|
|Mario Ojemudia||DE||53||Twitter (when he had it) was @akaRio53||53 - Another easy fit.|
|Matthew Godin||DT||62||Was 774 at Nike, 408 at Army Combine||62 - it's available|
|Ondre Pipkins||NT||71||Publicly says he will wear 56 for Woodley||56 - book it|
|Royce Jenkins-Stone||LB||10||Wore 10 at Army Game. Twitter handle has 10 in it. Wore 54 at Intl Bowl||10 - seems special to him for some reason.|
|Sione Houma||FB||35||Is a fullback.||41 or 32 or some fullbackian number|
|Terry Richardson||CB||3 and 6 and 9||Wore 28 in Intl Bowl., #1 at UA Bowl. One of 9 kids.||9 – pretty good guess.|
|Tom Strobel||DE||36||40 and 52 in Basektball.||63 or 93 or 86.|
|Willie Henry||DT||74||Not much out there on him.||74 or 68 - (YMRMFSPA Mike Martin) so why not.|
Guess away. If we can be 50% correct when these things are announced in late July/early August, well, we'll be really special nerds.
ESPN unveiled their top 150, as well as rankings for many other prospects, this afternoon. Since I was updating my handy rankings spreadsheet anyway, I figured I'd post a rankings update to see how they stack up with a fourth recruiting service in the mix. Brian's instincts appear to be correct; going through the rankings, it looks like ESPN is handing out more four-star ratings than the other sites at this point. The notable exception is for Michigan State commits, as you'll see below. Here are the changes since, er, yesterday:
4-16-12: Michigan State picks up Shane Jones and Damion Terry. Nebraska picks up A.J. Natter.
4-17-12: Ohio State picks up Tracy Sprinkle.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||24/7 Avg||ESPN Avg||Avg Avg^|
^The average of the average rankings of the three recruiting services (aka the previous three columns). The figure is calculated based on the raw numbers and then rounded, so the numbers above may not average out exactly.
NOTE: Unranked recruits are counted as one-star players. This may be a bit unfair this early in the process, considering there are many unevaluated recruits out there at this stage, but that's life.
On to the full data after the jump.
There will be no Lincoln-Douglass debates about who the starter should be but MGoVideo has helpfully boiled down each quarterback's performance into individual video clips.
Lost in the fretting about Gardner's passing is that he looked very dangerous as a runner. That pop outside on the inverted veer he kept on was worthy of Denard. Kid is a big-time athlete.
ESPN likes them some Gareon Conley
ESPN is the last major ranking service to deposit a top X on us, which they've done today. The name that jumps off the page is OH CB commit Gareon Conley, who's 63rd overall after getting mostly meh three-star reactions. (Scout does have him in their top 300 but at the tail end where they're still giving out three stars for now.) Ten other Michigan commits make their 150:
- #37 Shane Morris
- #63 Gareon Conley
- #75 Mike McCray
- #92 David Dawson
- #97 Logan Tuley-Tillman
- #98 Dymonte Thomas
- #105 Chris Fox
- #107 Jourdan Lewis
- #112 Kyle Bosch
- #115 Taco Charlton
- #121 Patrick Kugler
ESPN has also rated the rest of the class. All are four stars save Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman, and Shallman may be held back because he's rated at fullback (as the #1 FB) instead of on defense. The four stars:
- Jaron Dukes is the #29 WR; the last 150 guy is #18 and the first three star is #41, indicating that ESPN may have been generous with the stars this year.
- Jake Butt is the #4 "TE-Y"—ie, guy on the line instead of an H-back sort—and the first of those guys not in the 150. He's got the same rating as Marcus Baugh, the OSU commit who is, so he's probably just outside.
- Ben Gedeon is the #32 ATH, an odd place to stash a guy clearly destined for linebacker. He's nowhere near the 150 or the three star drop.
- Deveon Smith is the #28 RB, not near the 150 and about six slots from their three-star dropoff.
As for uncommitted players of note, with serious interest in bold:
- #15 Su'a Cravens
- #27 Kendall Fuller
- #42 LaQuon Treadwell
- #56 Eddie Vanderdoes
- #68 Ty Isaac
- #74 Demorea Stringfellow
- #120 Joe Mathis (yeah, yeah, nevermind)
- #149 Sebastian Larue
I was kind of hoping they'd throw a fourth star Hill's way so he wouldn't be lonely.
Today's recruiting roundup feels really, really awful for pushing chunkums's .gif off the top of the page, but the show must go on.
Special Teams Snake Oil
Michigan looks to bolster special teams depth with two walk-on long-snappers in the 2012 class, Taybor Pepper and Tyler Tokarsky, and... wait, what?
#MichiganState with another late 2012 commit. Saline (Mich.) long snapper Taybor Pepper. More to come shortly.
— Allen Trieu (@AllenTrieu) April 14, 2012
Yes, Mark Dantonio yoinked one of Michigan's walk-on long snappers by offering him a scholarship. I... um... okay.
You're My New Favorite! And You're My New Favorite! You're All Favorites!
CA DE Joe Mathis took a trip to Ann Arbor for the Adidas Invitational two weekends ago and left naming Michigan as his leader. Everybody got excited, especially since Mathis is the cousin of five-star CA S Su'a Cravens, but there was reason to exhibit caution. Brian's foreboding words of warning go here:
Usual disclaimers about a long way to go apply. Mathis might be one of those kids who gets excited about everybody—he's already committed to and decommitted from($) Washington. Mathis is likely to back off in a couple weeks when USC/whoever guys get ahold of him and maintain neutrality into the fall. He's already told GBW($) that he doesn't have a top five yet but that when he names one Michigan will be on it, which is a bit less thrilling.
Well, Mathis swung by Nebraska last weekend and—surprise!—left with a new favorite school ($, info in header). Given that the video embedded in that article features Mathis resplendent in Husker gear, you get zero guesses as to which school that may be. Until the ink is dry on Mathis's LOI, it's best to take his words with a rather gargantuan grain of salt.
Another DE getting a lot of attention this week is Florida four-star Joey Bosa, who followed up a great visit to Ohio State by checking out Michigan's spring game. Bosa tweeted out that he didn't want to leave Columbus, then set off a bit of a firestorm by saying he was headed to see "that place up north," a tweet he later deleted. According to Scout's Bill Greene ($), Bosa now lists Michigan in his top six with Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, Florida, and Wisconsin, though Bosa also says his Buckeye visit "gave me a feeling like no other school I've been to." Bosa's now set to visit Ohio State again for their spring game, and here's another of his tweets that he later deleted:
Joey Bosa: RT @jbbigbear Might have a surprise this weekend
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) April 17, 2012
Yeah, color me skeptical that Michigan is really in this one. Don't be surprised if Bosa is a Buckeye by this time next week.
Talking About Recruits Who Might End Up At Michigan
What about the guys who could actually end up blue, you ask? There were several on campus for Saturday's festivities, including VA LB E.J. Levenberry. GBW's Andre Barthwell has a two-part article on Levenberry's visit ($)—quote in the title: "I loved it!"—and it sounds like that mid-August decision timeline is a bit flexible:
“We are just taking our time," said E.J., "and seeing the schools that me and my family want to see ... and then a decision will be make [sic]."
And Mr. Levenberry [Ed: E.J.'s father] adds:
“As far as a decision we are just going to make sure he looks at every school so that we as a family can help him make the most informed decision that he can."
This still appears to be a race between Michigan and Florida State, and this time around E.J. brought his mother, the next step in the Levenberry process of vetting potential schools.
A prospect who appears closer to making a decision is TX DE Christian LaCouture, who narrowed his list to Michigan, LSU, and Nebraska after his visit, according to Tim Sullivan ($, info in header). LaCouture plans on taking another trip to both Ann Arbor and Lincoln and making his decision before his senior season; that's a great sign for the Wolverines in the immediate aftermath of a visit.
Five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller was also on campus for the spring game, and he tells 247's Clint Brewster that he thinks he'll take an official visit back to Ann Arbor in the fall ($). Virginia Tech is still the presumed—though not stated, at least by Fuller—leader, but an official would give Michigan a puncher's chance, especially with former Good Counsel teammate Blake Countess in their corner. Fuller plans to make his decision by the Army All-American game.
Also enjoying the trip was 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell, whose father told Sam Webb that Greg Mattison impressed both him and his son by saying Malik could be the next Terrell Suggs ($). That's high praise indeed, but Mattison coached Suggs, and McDowell has the potential to be one of the nation's top prospects.
Quickly: CA ATH Elijah Qualls names Michigan to his top eight ($, info in header). Four-star CA DE Kylie Fitts has USC and UCLA on top of his list,
but wants to earn offers from Michigan and Oregon. [Edit: Never mind. Fitts committed to USC over the weekend.] Happy trails to MD LB Dorian O'Daniel (Clemson) and VA S Tim Harris (Virginia). Chantel Jennings on the strong bonds being formed between the members of Michigan's 2013 class ($).