here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
Upchurch / "We don't need to drink blood to know what it tastes like"
My favorite day of the year growing up was right about now, a morning in mid-June when I woke up and it was still sunny as it had been when I went to bed, and I'd sit up and go through the painful transition from a reality where the Care Bars (or post-1991 Desmond Howard) and I solve crimes, to one where Number 2 pencils are a thing. Then mid-boot it would suddenly dawn on me that yesterday was a half-day and today is…
Then there was a morning when I was already working but still living in my college house and realized that school and the first day of summer vacation were a package deal. This is young adulthood: trying to find meaning in everything because that which used to have meaning is gone, and you don't yet know what having kids is actually like. That day my buddy convinced me to see a local post-punk band based on the challenge of how much crap the lead singer could threaten to break before the set ended/he actually broke something important. And they sang something about losing that first day of summer, or I thought it was about losing that day. Anyway fast forward to that train track-ity walk home from the Blind Pig and two recent grads calling the world insufficient when I brought up, "well, we beat Ohio State this year." And that worked, because I had no idea we wouldn't beat them again for eight years.
Since November I've had another pinprick thought to convince me to leave a dream just on the edge of lucid and reenter this plane of existence: Guys, we beat Ohio State this year. This is the payoff for all of those years of traversing the darkness rather than sucking it up and hiring Les Miles or something. We get this little ray of first-day-of-summer-vacation-level happy that we can access any time, and it doesn't even poop itself!
Doing lines. From his opening paragraph I can tell jamiemac has been doing the same thing. The post itself covers the Vegas lines for highlight-able Michigan games this year. I'm not much of a gambler (I like picking but not risk-taking) but I love reading their stuff. People trying to play the margins necessarily have to cut through all the fluff, including their own biases. Movement of the lines set by casinos trying to entice people to bet, and where that movement ends, is a far more accurate power ranking than that produced by columnists with 30 logo pictures and 30 snark remarks.
This one is especially well written and speaks volumes about what the smart money thinks our chances are against rivals and power programs. There's wonkiness too—like a poker player who always plays Jack-Nines because he won big on those a few times, he always takes the underdog in Michigan-Notre Dame. Then again you've got two programs who often enter seasons ranked above rationality—especially ND—and presumably this affects the higher ranked of the two each time, so maybe that's the effect? Anyway Michigan's the dog so yay. If you were handicapping Diarist of the Week, the smart money's on jamiemac.
The smart football. There will be more on this over the summer but Chris Brown has collected some of his best works into a book, something Brian thought of doing before we realized nobody wants to relive either of the eras his best works were written in. You can buy the book, which is like $5 for an Amazon download, or read the columns on his site and Grantland, or get the Cliff's Notes from a friend. This friend is DonAZ, who added his own thoughts as to how the lessons relate to Michigan. They're in the form of questions, some of which are answered well in the comments. Also in the comments is a jackass complaining about improper conjugation of forms of "thee."
Hey Rube, easy on the bears. Hunter S. Thompson once shot his assistant while trying to shoot a bear. If you guessed this my lead-in for a jhackney diary, you know your diarists too well. His dream is similar to mine but with more members of carnivora:
Unfortunately, I missed half the game studying an accordion type device that promised to send you to a planet of unicorns, badass grizzly care bears, and a bottomless plate of fat free/vitamin rich BBQ spare ribs. I did return from the outer reaches of the universe to see an anemic offense get in a position to win the game with a field goal. At first I thought I ended up on an episode of Sliders, reaching a parallel universe.
Going for the jugular is real. The Mathlete says so, or I should say his database says so. By this I don't mean a bear trying to make your trachea dangly, but a coach trying to "capitalize on momentum" by attempting a +20 yards pass on 1st down after a turnover/punt/momentum shift. I'll go ahead and ruin it because you're going to read it anyway math junkies: coaches absolutely do this, and it doesn't seem any more effective than the rest of the offense. In the book a poker-loving roommate used to leave in the bathroom I remember it saying players who just won a big hand will bluff immediately after (the loser will fold something decent, then go on tilt). Whatever the poker move, as anyone who spent a significant part of their adult life with Carr teams, if it gets them throwing deep, fine. But since coaches seem prepared for it, the best move would be a short and easy pass. Get 5 yards, keep the crowd into it, get the QB comfortable in a rhythm, and wait to catch the defense on tilt.
Half-way through high school. The 2014 offer list is out, courtesy of Sinsemillaplease. Needs more list of competing offers. Also MOAR of these guys:
That's Mr. Blue, Happy Teeth, Data, Nefarious Eduardo, and Sad Josh to those of you with precisely manicured MGolawns. If you weren't a recruiting board follower pre-2009, these are what recruits looked like before kids committed to their schools before 4th grade. Most of the players on that list have drivers licenses, though not all. If you want to just skip to the part where the Class of 2014 are graduating with multiple Big Ten Championships, ask the guy from the future, if you can get him to stop predicting Heismans for Houma.
Etc. TSS was breaking the server late last night, so I imagine he'll have something about comparing Alabama's roster to Michigan's in the near future, if it's not up already. The little he had uploaded as of 1 a.m. had me refreshing in hopes of more.
Best of the Board
IN A WORLD WHERE LES MILES CHEWS FIELD TURF.
This is one of those posts that goes to a link but the MGoDiscussion is better than that on the site with the article (happens all the time with Yahoo). This time Andy Staples pretends the world hinges on one 3rd down scramble by Chris Leak that saves Zook's job in Florida. From this point the timeline skews into a tangent, creating an alternate 2012 in which Bobby Petrino is rich, and powerful, and married to your mother, and where this has happened to me:
When the bracket is announced the following day and Stanford and Florida make the playoff as at-larges and Michigan doesn't, Miles delivers an impassioned speech on ESPN that will be studied by linguists for decades. His message? Who really knows? But he uses the word "chest" 57 times in seven minutes.
But hey we win the 2006 national championship all Alabama style and somehow this reminds Crable to block the guy so no Horror, no Peanut Butter Jelly Time and, uh, Denard Robinson at Florida State with Chip Kelly? Like people who've been through actual horrors, I'll keep the guys I survived hell with.
IN A WORLD WHERE DENARD HAS LOWER ACCELERATION THAN LEWAN
Alternate title: OUR QB IS ODDJOB!
Every year EA Sports gives us plenty to complain about, and every team that isn't us way more to complain about (I still hear it from my brother about Greg Jones being rated under Will Campbell in NCAA 2010, which is for 2009, which are they ever going to fix this?) Mr. Yost put together an extensive formula for re-rating guys, then stuck Ricardo Miller on the WR three-deep, starts Funchess, and Gallon's not even the slot receiver. I'm sad this is the last year 12-year-olds will be asserting a neighborhood rule against using Michigan because Denard plus EA game mechanics is "unfair."
IN A WORLD WHERE TACKLES CAN WEAR 11 AND CENTERS CAN WEAR 48
Informal poll: un-retiring numbers or no? This was a prevailing theme over several threads as further Legends jerseys were leaked. This is one of those places where I don't care what a majority of fans think—I want it given to freshmen, redshirt freshmen, sophomores, or at the latest a redshirt sophomore. I want them to be recruiting tools and to not interfere with already purchased jerseys and databases and most importantly my dreams of long-term Michigan starters riding around in their signature numbers on unicorns and helping me fight crimes. I find this very important indeed.
IN A WORLD WHERE COUNTING SYLLABLES IS CONSIDERED HIGH ART
IN A WORLD WHERE WILL CAMPBELL AND "SLEEK" ARE IN THE SAME SENTENCE
This is Wendyk5's description of BWC. See this and other snippets from the Women's Football Academy. Things in that video: Borges's arm is in a cast:
Darrell Funk looks like a Law & Order policeman. Several times the girls ran Denard Power from the shotgun spread.
Your moment of zen
2013 OL commits Logan Tuley-Tillman (left) and David Dawson
Yesterday's Adidas Sound Mind/Sound Body camp at Southfield High School featured some of the Midwest's best talent, including five of Michigan's 2013 commits (actually, six, but Csont'e York showed up late and I didn't get a good look at him). It also provided a rare chance for players to get instructed by coaches from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and several other schools; U-M, OSU, and MSU each sent their full staff, save Mark Dantonio, who had a speaking engagement.
This was my first camp experience, so I mostly focused on the Michigan commits; at these camps, there's so much going on that it's difficult to focus on more than a handful of players. Here are my impressions of the Wolverine commits as well as a couple other standouts:
I didn't spend a ton of time watching Morris in the passing drills, mostly because I was more focused on the receivers and defensive backs, but he was excellent as usual on Wednesday. Morris threw harder than anyone else there, displayed great accuracy, and could make all of the throws. He's also improved from what I saw of him last fall in terms of knowing when to change up speeds and when to just unleash.
As you can see above, Al Borges kept a very close eye on Morris. UAB head coach Garrick McGee was running quarterback drills, but Borges made it clear that he would be the one coaching Morris. As Brian pointed out in today's UV, the running theme of the camp was coaches in disbelief that this was all legal; it was, thanks to SMSB's status as a charitable event.
Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.
In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.
Dawson is expected to end up at guard in college and after seeing him yesterday I think that's the best place for him. While his strength allows him to dominate high school competition, he isn't the longest lineman out there, which makes it harder to keep edge-rushers at bay. As you can see above, when Dawson slid inside to take a rep at guard, he dispatched his man with ease.
Tuley-Tillman didn't quite perform at Dawson's level but still showed off the potential that earned him an offer in the first place. When I talked to Logan, he told me he weighs about 315 pounds, a 15-pound drop from where he was at the Columbus NFTC last month. He's still carrying bad weight, however, and is going to have to turn a significant amount of fat into muscle before he's ready to play at the next level.
I was initially down on Tuley-Tillman when watching the one-on-ones, but after watching the tape he did better than I thought. When he gets his hands on a guy it's tough to escape and he finishes his blocks with authority. He did struggle some against the speed rush; Funk pulled LTT aside during drills to work on getting better depth in his drop when pass blocking, and there's still work to be done there. When he got his footwork right, defenders had little chance of getting past him.
Despite the technique issues, Tuley-Tillman has great feet; when he's coached up, he should have every opportunity to play tackle at the Big Ten level. He's definitely got some conditioning work to do, though it sounds like he's on the right track. Multiple experts who saw Tuley-Tillman in Columbus, where he reportedly struggled significantly, said his performance yesterday was a vast improvement.
Lewis continues to look impressive on both sides of the ball. While I thought he looked better at corner when playing for Cass Tech last fall, there may be a battle royale between the offensive and defensive coaches over where he'll play at Michigan; the offensive coaches have made it clear that they covet Lewis as a wide receiver. They'll have to fight Greg Mattison for him, however, and that may be a losing battle.
Lewis is never going to wow you from a purely physical standpoint—he's 5'11" and pretty skinny—but his athleticism is just a notch below elite. He showed off great closing speed at cornerback, though he sometimes relies too much on his ability to recover; he's not quite at his 2012 teammate Terry Richardson's level when it comes to staying in a receiver's hip pocket. His ball skills, however, are exemplary; he tracks the ball in the air extremely well and knows exactly when to go for the catch. If a quarterback threw a 50-50 ball in his direction, whether on offense or defense, he came down with it or at least broke up the pass.
At receiver, Lewis put those ball skills to good use, coming up with a couple of spectacular catches including one diving effort against 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb (much more on him below). I still like Lewis's upside more at corner, where his size plays better, but he's convinced me that he could contribute on either side of the ball at the next level.
Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way, including the pass pictured above. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body.
Given that he's being recruited for a very specific, not-always-used position—H-back—he's got a more limited ceiling than most of the commits; at around 6'2", he doesn't have the size to play much on the line. That said, if he can run routes and catch like he did yesterday, he could be a solid piece to the offensive puzzle.
DAMON WEBB (2014)
Webb turned heads a couple weeks ago when he blanketed Laquon Treadwell at the IMG 7-on-7 and he built on that with an MVP-worthy performance yesterday. Despite being a year younger, Webb has more bulk on his 5'11" frame than his teammate Jourdan Lewis, and like Lewis he's an outstanding athlete.
Also like Lewis, Webb can play either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level, though his size suggests that corner is his optimal position. He was fantastic playing corner in the one-on-one drills, staying step-for-step with Lewis—though Jourdan managed to bring in a diving catch—and 2013 Notre Dame commit James Onwualu, who was torching the less-heralded prospects. Webb faced Onwualu three times, and aside from slipping on a hitch route, he came out on top. Webb doesn't rely as much on recovery speed as Lewis, instead playing a more physical style; he's not at all afraid to come up and jam the receiver, and he flips his hips well when transitioning from his backpedal.
Allen Trieu reported this afternoon that Webb earned a Michigan offer, which comes as little surprise after he performed so well in front of the entire staff. While they're targeting him as an athlete for now, I'm guessing he'll be the next in a long line of Cass Tech corners to play at the BCS level. The Wolverines appear to be his clear leader at the moment and there's a chance his recruitment wraps up early. He'll be in Ann Arbor next week for Michigan's camp.
*"I'm hungry" guy was one of the highlights of the camp, as he repeatedly—and loudly—proclaimed his hunger after just about every rep. When Hoke spoke to the campers after the morning session, he singled the kid out for his enthusiasm, then had this exchange:
Hoke: "Did you have lunch yet?"
I'm Hungry Kid: "Yes, sir."
Hoke: "Well, I guess you're not hungry anymore."
- 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell wasn't listed on the roster—he wasn't alone in that regard—and only took a couple reps in the morning, so I didn't get a chance to evaluate him. I did head over to where the linemen were gathered in the afternoon, however, and I can say he certainly passes the eye test. That is one huge rising junior.
- Two other 2014 kids who caught my eye were Cass Tech linebackers William White and Gary Hosey, who both stood out physically among the linebackers. White appeared to have an inch or two on Hosey, but both looked solidly built with the frame to add more bulk. I was busy watching the linemen while they were going through drills, however, so I'll have to catch them play another time.
- A friend who was helping instuct the linebackers at the camp raved about Michigan State linebacker commit Jon Reschke. I thought Reschke was a no-brainer four-star when I saw him play against Farmington Hills Harrison in the playoffs last year; State got a good one there.
- Urban Meyer, from the morning presser: "The problem with intercollegiate athletics is that it's almost anti-student-athlete." All the coaches talked about how great it was to be able to instruct recruits at an event outside the usual team camps. There was also discussion about finding ways for recruits to be able to take visits to campus without the cost becoming prohibitive; there definitely seems to be support for summer official visits if the NCAA decides to look in that direction.
- Yes, Brady Hoke uttered the words "Ohio" and "State" in succession during an impromptu on-field Q&A session with reporters. Yes, there was a subsequent race between the Michigan beat reporters to tweet that bit of news. I believe the winner was AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgartner.
- Terry Richardson, James Ross, and Oregon CB (and former Cass Tech Technician) Dior Mathis all were present. Richardson was walking around eating ribs while the Michigan coaches teased him about getting his weight up.
- After watching them in a camp setting, it's very easy to see why Michigan's coaching staff has so much success both on the field and in recruiting. I kept forgetting to film the OL/DL one-on-ones because I was so intent on listening to Coach Funk give technique pointers to individual guys after their reps; I learned more about blocking technique in five minutes of standing near him than I have in the rest of my life put together. They're all great with the players, as well; you could tell the kids were hanging on every word of instruction.
- Former Michigan lineman and current EMU OL coach Kurt Anderson, who was running drills with Funk: "You're protecting your family, your food, your quarterback." [via Mike Rothstein]
Pictured coaches, in order of appearance, are UAB HC Garrick McGee, OSU HC Urban Meyer, MSU DC Pat Narduzzi, EMU HC Ron English, Hoke, Mattison, EMU's Mike Hart, Syracuse's Tyrone Wheatley, and Michigan's Darrell Funk and Jeff Hecklinski.
Jayru Campbell's hair did not disappoint:
Neither did Shane Morris's afternoon attire:
That's all for now. Interviews with Morris, Dawson, and Tuley-Tillman coming later this afternoon.
Ribs. Meyer and Hoke ate them.
also via Mike Rothstein. For whatever reason, pictures of football coaches eating == MONEY
Those dudes look like they know what they're doing in re: making ribs. That's from the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp, which Ace attended and will have a report on later. One of the main themes of the day was "I can't believe this is legal":
Because the Sound Mind, Sound Body event is a charitable camp, college coaches are able to attend and provide instruction to the campers -- something that's outlawed at most public camps throughout the country.
As a result, Borges spent most the of the day giving pointers to Shane Morris. If that's legal, expect one of two things to happen: it's quickly outlawed or similar camps multiply like weeds.
Meanwhile, this seems cute given Michigan's lockdown on state of Michigan prospects whose fathers didn't play at State:
Michigan, especially under Hoke, has developed a reputation of having recruiting success in Ohio over the years. Now, Meyer says, it’s his aim to return the favor.
“I know this area real well," said Meyer, who once coached at nearby Bowling Green State University. "As for Ohio State ... we have some very good players from this area.
“If we have not, we will."
Not ribs. Via Blake Countess, poor Pee Wee and his grim salad of raw-looking broccoli and stuff:
It will all be worth it when you're ragdolling Alabama OL in fall. (Please.)
KYLE MEINKE IS GRIM. The AnnArbor.com reporter got screencapped by the youtubes looking like he's about to heroically tackle a terrorist or Mark Dantonio:
Cue the crack Free Press investigatory teams. Michigan has again claimed that unspecified academic performance is good and stuff:
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said last week the Wolverines registered the best "academic performance" in their history under first-year coach Brady Hoke last year. He didn't cite specific numbers.
The last time this happened the Free Press hammered at Michigan with FOIA requests until they scuttled the claim. Here's guessing that doesn't happen this time around.
UMass reinforced. You probably already know that Mike Cox transferred home to UMass for his final year. They've also added former touted ND recruits Deion Walker and Hafis Williams, a wideout and a DT. They still shouldn't be a problem now that Michigan has one of those defensive coordinator things.
Longsnapper rabble rabble 'Bama what? If you're still slightly peeved that Michigan expended a precious scholarship slot on a longsnapper this might make you feel better:
According to BamaOnline, Saban did something at last week's special teams camp in Tuscaloosa that he's never done in his 17-year career -- offered a scholarship to a long snapper.
"I snapped really good during the camp and Coach Saban told me in his office that they were going to offer a long snapper within the next two days after a staff meeting," Mazza told BamaOnline. "The next day I called him and he told me he was going to offer me."
I'm confused about how these guys are suddenly valuable enough to warrant scholarship slots, but apparently they are.
[HT: Holdin' the Rope.]
How can you do the divide. This from Orson's introductory course on bad sports rhetoric is a truly amazing screenshot from the World Wide Leader in having no idea what that slash thing under the question mark is for:
Cram the data into your meme. The data doesn't fit? Yes it does.
NFL draft stuff. Michigan recruits feature in the United States Of Hockey's American top ten. Defenseman Jacob Trouba:
Michigan-commit Jacob Trouba is a bruising defenseman who showed what he can do with his big frame at the National Team Development Program. He also proved he can play above his head by his performance at the World Junior Championship. Some are considered Trouba relies on his physicality too much and that there might not be much offensive upside. However, for a physical defenseman, Trouba can skate well and has good agility. His hockey sense has vastly improved, even though he’s still prone to the bad decision now and again.
Sounds more like a Komisarek type than another Merrill-style puck mover.
Forward Boo Nieves:
…a 13-game stint in the USHL confirmed some of the concerns that Nieves struggles with the physical aspects of the game. The thing is, he has some filthy puck skills and a really nice 6-2, 185 frame. Nieves could have calmed concerns in a long USHL playoff run, but he had to return to Kent to finish his schooling so he could get into Michigan for next year. Still, those puck skills allude to some nice potential, but he’s still a likely mid- to late-second round choice.
Michigan's going to need scoring punch from him right away; hopefully he can deliver despite his issues in a short USHL stint.
In other hockey recruiting news, Michigan picked up a 2014 commit from Dexter Dancs, a BCHL kid from the same team that provided Michigan with Brendan Morrison, amongst others. Michigan used to make a habit of grabbing high-scoring forwards out of that league but hasn't taken a BCHL player in a while. College Hockey Prospective got a quote out of his coach that provides some insight into what kind of player Michigan's getting:
“Dexter Dancs is a big, young, raw power forward with an excellent skating stride and an equally as good set of hands and shot,” said Hengen. “Dexter will as easily take the puck hard to the net, set up a play or drop his gloves to stand up for a teammate. Dexter will be another one of many Michigan Wolverines that they will develop to have a chance of playing pro hockey.”
Don't get too excited if Dancs puts up video game numbers next fall, as the BCHL is a notoriously high-scoring league.
Irish secondaries are thin. After recruiting defections and plenty of graduation, Notre Dame's secondary is a major concern this fall. It's one that just got more concern-y after Austin Collinsworth's availability next fall has resolved itself:
Notre Dame junior safety Austin Collinsworth has undergone shoulder surgery and is expected to miss a significant portion of -- if not the entire -- 2012 football season, ND director of football sports information Brian Hardin confirmed Wednesday.
Collinsworth suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder during ND’s wrap-up to spring practice, the Blue-Gold Game, on April 21. When the condition didn’t improve with rest, surgery was scheduled. Recovery time is projected to be four to six months.
Collinsworth was probably going to be the nickelback, possibly the starter if Jamoris Slaughter was forced to move to corner.
Etc.: MGoUser informs world that Michigan has acquired walk-on WR/TE Michael Jocz. Will Campbell takes the misdemeanor plea, obviously. Surprise: football recruit who commits without ever visiting is just using you as a placeholder. What everyone wants from a playoff.
Looking way off into the future here, but is there any chance Shane Morris gets a redshirt in 2013? Would he accept one? Would we be in a position to sit him?
Redshirt or no, he would enter 2013 behind a redshirt junior Devin Gardner (should he actually receive a 5th year himself) and Russell Bellomy. I just keep thinking it would be nice to enter a 2017 season (told you I was thinking way off) with a senior QB when Notre Dame and Ohio would play us at home.
Your expressions are greatly appreciated.
If Gardner wins the job and has a strong season I think you would see Morris redshirted, especially if Gardner gets his redshirt (something about which I've heard conflicting information on). I don't think Morris would have a problem with it—he can see the large upside in 2017 as well as anyone—and with Bellomy an experienced-second stringer the only reason they'd have to put Morris on the field is in the event of a serious injury.
The most likely scenario in which Morris doesn't get the redshirt is the one in which Gardner is not getting his retroactively and Morris is far and away the second-best QB on the roster. In that situation you might see Michigan get Morris some playing time for grooming purposes, much like what everyone expects to see happen with Joe Bolden at MLB this year. I'm still rooting for a redshirt.
Utah road game sense making.
If the Utah series is true, this really makes no sense at all. Brandon has complained about playing @ Uconn in 2013 because "the Rent" only holds 40k (and to be fair to Brandon, this series was scheduled by Bill Martin). Utah's Stadium has a capacity of 46k. Doesn't DB's rationale to move the Uconn game hold no weight now in light of scheduling us to play at a 46k seat stadium on a Thursday night? I really dont believe an extra 6,000 seats makes enough of a difference for us to play this road game versus the Uconn road game.
I get scheduling is difficult, but this one is pretty frustrating. Wish we could have gotten a Pac-12 team we haven't seen recently.
In Dave Brandon's mind the 46k is okay as long as there is a synergistic marketeing campaign that brings the Wow Factor into the equation. By leveraging the increased mindshare acquired by being top-of-mind at the beginning of the college football season, Michigan can increase its brand awareness amongst decision-makers and trendsetters. By being the first team to play in a college football season, Michigan will find a competitive advantage to grow the digital audience and build brand loyalty. A pearlescent hipster sheen will descend upon the brand, whereupon Michigan will become the Apple of college football.
I think "pearlescent hipster sheen" was a misstep. Too many words people might use in a novel instead of a powerpoint presentation.
Anyway: Brandon's persistent complaints about UConn's desire to have a game against Michigan on their campus aren't really about capacity, they are about Wow Factor. Wow Factor can be acquired by doing something unusual that might get you attention, no matter how good of an idea it is. Flyovers, new uniforms, night games, really loud jet pack guys, full student sections, Special K, legends patches, field hashtags, rescheduling the Horror: these are all sources of Wow Factor. Some are neutral. Some are positive. Some are negative. All provide someone in the athletic department who needs to justify his existence a line in a performance evaluation. This is the heart of Wow Factor: it looks good on a performance evaluation.
The rumored Thursday night opener* provides Wow Factor, therefore playing in a 46k stadium is acceptable. If the on-campus UConn game was modified to provide wow factor—playing underwater, maybe—it would also be acceptable. A regular football game in a regular stadium at a regular time gives Brandon a rash.
*[Still just a rumor. Chris Balas, the source on this information, also mentioned difficulties for Utah in 2015 that could cause the return date to be delayed until 2016. If that happened 2016 would be another weak-looking six-game home slate thanks to the Big Ten's refusal to give Michigan a reasonable home/road split in conference.]
Legends numbers deployment.
LEAVE 32 ALONE
Completely agree with you, re: flipping seniors' numbers diminishes their own impact on the program as much, if not more, than it rewards them. The most extreme—and perhaps ludicrous—example is Desmond, who if he returns for his senior year could have been "rewarded" with the 1 jersey. Then there wouldn't be a 21 "Legends Jersey."
If they're really going to do this, it should almost be something that a guy "earns" during his freshman (or even redshirt) year. Then we can see if lives up to it. And guys that don't earn it can use the snub to become determined to make their own a number a future legend. Seems better than diluting (even in a superficial way) the career of guy between his two biggest years in the program.
Anyway, good to have something to discuss in June.
[Editor's note: Yesterday, Michigan officially announced they would un-retire not only Gerald Ford's number but also those of Ron Kramer and Bennie Oosterbaan. 48, 47, and 87 are back on the market and seemingly must be filled.]
The number-flipping thing seems like an extension of the trend with the #1 jersey, which was effectively mothballed once Braylon Edwards sponsored a scholarship requiring that it be earned after enrollment.
Unlike the #1, these legends jerseys seem like they must be filled every year, and if they're not filled they will flip someone to them, thus preventing many players who might turn themselves into legends wearing their own number into… not that. I think I'm having a strong negative reaction to this because DO YOU PEOPLE REALIZE WE HAVE A COMPETENT SAFETY WHO MAY HAVE TO CHANGE HIS NUMBER NO I DON'T THINK YOU DO I DON'T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND THE GRAVITY OF WHAT THIS MEANS TO THE FUTURE LEGACY OF THE #32 JERSEY, WHICH IS ON THE VERGE OF REMINDING ME OF A CRITICAL TACKLE IN SPACE THAT IS NOT MISSED, IS NEVER EVER MISSED.
/considers situation in which Denard Robinson would switch from 16 to 7 or something as a senior
Anyway: I hope Michigan uses them like the #1 used to be deployed, as a carrot to dangle in front of certain recruits. 87 is the tight end version of #1. 47 is the… er… wide receiver version of #1. 48 is… well, it's a roving version of #1 I assume will find itself on linebackers and safeties mostly. (Linemen can no longer wear 48.) Some of the guys you hand the uniforms to won't work out, and that's life. That seems better than moving a handful of seniors annually.
That doesn't get around the fact that Michigan has to give them out now. So… Michigan should hand 48 to Joe Bolden, 87 to AJ Williams or Devin Funchess, and 47 to Amarah Darboh or Jehu Chesson. Leave
Britney Kovacs alone, and if a kid with one of those jerseys does something naughty, take it away.
Interesting bits from the Women's Football Academy.
I volunteered at the Women's Football Academy and I asked all the coaches except Borges how they would feel about an early signing period in football. All except LB coach Mark Smith said they were all for it. Smith said he didn't like it because that would mean official visits in the summer and then coaches would get no time off, as opposed to the 3-4 weeks they now get in late June and July.
One of the things they pointed out as being a big advantage is that kids from lower economic families could take official visits during the summer. Mattison said this is very important because kids are committing so early now and by the time the poorer kids have a chance to take the official visits when their senior season starts, it is getting to be "too late."
Mattison specifically talked about kids who want to "put on a hat" at the Under Armour game. He tells those kids, "Then you won't be committing to Michigan because by that time, we won't have any scholarships left."
Your humble correspondent,
I think the official visit timing and an early signing day are separate matters—and still dislike the idea that a kid can sign before his coach might get fired—but I'm not posting this to argue, just to relate the emailed information. Love the hat thing. Down with hats.
HT to MFanNE for putting this in a thread: ESPN has begun culling the latest data submitted by member institutions to NCAA on how much money their athletic departments are actually raking and spending. Since ESPN in a fit of awesomeness decided to leave their database for 2008-'11 just lying there for the Excel-ing, I figured I might grab the data and shoot the sheet.
The universities gather these data for their Title IX reports, therefore I am almost positive they reflect the budgets for entire athletic departments, not just football. But football being football you can expect most of the swings were football. Totals from those four years are what is presented and sorted by below.
Note that private schools and public schools in Pennsylvania don't have to report, therefore they haven't on many of these. This applies to BC, Duke, Miami (YTM), Wake Forest, Pitt, Cuse, Northwestern, Penn State, Baylor, Rice, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, Navy, BYU, Notre Dame, Temple, TCU, Stanford, USC, and Vanderbilt. This will screw with conference overall data.
|#||University||Conf||2011||Ticket Sales '08-11|
|2||Ohio State||Big Ten||$50,009,395||$168,909,180|
|9||Texas A&M||Big XII||$32,771,997||$125,721,452|
The ticket sales thing is going to be a bit janky since I don't know where the donations to get tickets count. Minus Penn State and Northwestern, but including Nebraska, the Big Ten is the only conference averaging over $25k/year per school.
|#||University||Conf||Student Fees '08-'11|
|3||Florida International||Sun Belt||$60,801,888|
|5||South Florida||Big East||$52,288,800|
With the exception of Virginia, these schools are drawing from the students way more than they can get from contributions.
|#||University||Conf||University subsidy '08-'11|
Two schools trying to build a case to be in BCS conferences, and the directional Michigan schools. When you vote for David Brandon, you vote to end this shameless expenditure on MAC-letics. #BrandonforMichigan2014
More after the jump.
According to Chris Balas the Pac-12 team Michigan wants to fill out its 2014 and 2015 schedules with is…
Pac-12 sources: U-M close to home/home deal w/Utah starting 2014. Thurs. night return visit to Salt Lake to open '15 CF season on table #fb
That ESPN article I linked made it clear that at this point options were limited, with Utah, Oregon State, and Colorado the most likely Pac-12 opponents. So… like, okay. It's a reasonable opponent, or at least should be reasonable in a couple years.
Still, it's a little unsatisfying. Michigan got one-off games with the Utes twice in the past decade; now they're giving them a full home and home. Yeah, they're in the Pac-12 but Colorado sucked it up to play a one-off with OSU last year. Meanwhile, non-Pac-12 nonconference options will be extremely limited starting in 2017. It would have been nice to get a series in with someone from another conference. Meh.
We do need a tight end. If Ohio State's offering Jake Stoneburner a grad-year transfer to Michigan…
Hello old 48. Michigan will un-retire Gerald Ford's #48 and make him a legend jersey type thing guy. Unfortunately, these days centers are not allowed to wear #48, so it'll be some defensive guy. They'll hand it out this fall:
"We're honoring Desmond Howard now every year with one of our players (senior receiver Roy Roundtree) who really deserves it," Hoke told the station. "We're going to do the same with Gerald Ford's jersey here this year."
If I can make a request (I cannot) could this not be Jordan Kovacs? Or, like, anyone who has established themselves as a guy with a particular number? Kovacs is 32. Roundtree is 12, except he'll be 21 this fall, and that will negatively affect how he's remembered because he won't be consistently one thing. This may be a crazy argument. It is my argument, though, so I say I'd rather have Kovacs keep 32 and have everybody who wears it after him remind me that once we had a really good walk-on safety.
The legends patch thing is good for honoring past legends but switching numbers up makes it hard to create new ones. I hope they start using them as recruiting incentives instead of flipping seniors to new numbers every year. Also the patch should be subtler.
Somewhere, Kevin Sampson sobs quietly onto his Scrooge McDuck pile of flip phones. The NCAA's increasingly anachronistic texting ban is no more…
"R U interested in our school? Our facilities are gr8!"
A text message reading along those lines might appear on cellphone screens of basketball recruits starting Friday, after a new NCAA rule takes effect allowing college coaches to send unlimited text messages to players who have completed their sophomore year of high school.
Coaches also will be able to make unlimited calls to those recruits under the new legislation.
…if you are a men's basketball recruit. Also, coaches can call players whenever they want… if you are a men's basketball recruit. Basketball's trying to chop out pages of annoying rules minutiae so they can focus on the comically oversized bags with dollar signs on them that many players tote from class to class.
Whitmer's coach is quoted in the above article worrying about an avalanche of phone calls his kids will have to field, so let me reissue a suggestion: the NCAA should allow recruits to have a nonbinding commitment to a school that prevents them from taking officials and coaches other than the one they've committed to from contacting them. Even without that, that's a good decision I hope they generalize to more sports.
Seems like a great way to mix up the speed option look Michigan ran a lot of last year without forcing Denard to make a pitch decision. Malzahn and Dana Holgorsen are running it a lot… it could be a decent idea. A diagram:
It even works without tight ends, which we don't have.
Moving the goalposts. Pat Forde has a silly column using the Stony Brook college world series story as an argument for a bighuge playoff. A four team playoff wouldn't have any "Cinderellas" in it despite including Boise State and TCU when they were at their apex because…
But a four-team deal certainly presents no opportunity to the Stony Brooks of college football. The champions of the Sun Belt, Mid-American Conference, Conference USA and Western Athletic Conference (should it survive) never will make that cut. The Mountain West and even the Big East would be long shots.
Football, greedy and decentralized, doesn't care.
Meanwhile, the rest of college sports give the little guys a chance to do it on the field. It gives life to the overachiever stories that are a large part of what makes sports compelling.
…those teams are now in BCS conferences if you consider the new-look Big East a BCS conference, which you probably shouldn't. A four team playoff does occasionally let in the champions of those leagues, should those champions actually seem like a worthy contender. If it's a "long shot," Forde notes earlier in his own column that the last time a Stony Brook-type interloper made the CWS it was 1986, when the regionals were literally regional. Hypothetical Four Team Playoff has a better record of including outlying provinces than the college world series. Just because TCU isn't a have-not anymore doesn't mean they weren't when they rose to prominence, and the minnow drought in the CWS is an argument in favor of a more streamlined field.
I will say this: if you are going to do the thing where everyone gets a chance no matter how likely it is they get their heads beaten in, Forde's system is a good one. It's a twelve-team field with 11 champions—more likely 10 since the WAC is dead—and one or two autobids. Byes, homefield, etc. The only objections you could level would be Think Of The Children arguments about missed class and too much football that evidently don't apply at any other level of the sport.
Dennis Dodd made this same argument. In short: since Boise State and TCU are now in power conferences, no one outside a power conference can be relevant. Mmmm self-defeating argument.
Etc.: North Carolina troubles are even more troubling now that a totally fake class has been exposed. Could this be the straw that finally causes the NCAA to annihilate someone? Probably not.
Nike is still trying to make gray not gray. Chris Wormely interviewed, says he's 6'5", 270, and be a five tech unless he outgrows it and ends up at the three. I don't think there's anything new in this ESPN article about Michigan trying to line up a Pac-12 opponent in somewhere in the 2014-2016 range. Penn State's leadership is… not leadership. Jerry Sandusky's lawyer is… not good at lawyering.
Kent State and Stony Brook celebrate CWS berths
The Big Ten's consistent rabble about college baseball's current format—a rabbling I also rabble rabble—looks a little less rabbly today now that not one but two Northern teams from who-dat conferences have made the College World Series: Kent State and Stony Brook. Kent State got a walk-off bloop single in game three to down Oregon; Stony Brook took out LSU.
Kent State won a regional featuring all-destroying Big Ten dual champ Purdue, taking out SEC #2 seed Kentucky twice along the way. Five of their six games have been one-run affairs of which they've won four. Baseball is very random—so random that it's remarkable a Big Ten team hasn't made it to the CWS on the strength of crazy bounces in the past 28 years.
Theory: the NCAA's introduction of "dead bats" in the past couple years has reduced scoring and made it more difficult for better teams to overwhelm their opponents by dumping home run after home run into the bleachers. Last year was the first year of the new bat regulations:
Auburn, which led the nation last season with 130 home runs, had hit just 32 as of May 8. Just up the road, Georgia Tech and its 122 home runs the year before have taken a nosedive down to 31.
On the whole, home runs have been cut nearly in half. Down 43.7 percent overall, the bandboxes that were making more noise than the House of Blues have fallen eerily silent. [ED: This article takes an odd, overwritten stance against bats that double as rocket launchers.]
The results are fewer games with ludicrous football scores and a lot more randomness in the national tournament. Maybe. Small sample size and all, but when bad pitches are 43.7 more likely to die in an outfielder's glove you get away with a lot more. College baseball is a lot less ruthless now.
If Michigan could get good at baseball again, maybe the national tournament would be less of an insurmountable hill to climb. About that…
You're looking at Michigan's vacant baseball job and these two teams in the CWS and wondering about poaching one of these dudes, KSU's Scott Stricklin (right) looks like a strong, strong candidate.
In eight years at Kent State he's won the MAC four times, won the MAC tourney five times, turned the Golden Flashes into the #3 overall seed last year, has reached two super-regionals and made the CWS this year. At 40 he'd be poised for a long run at Michigan. He came to KSU after a stint at an assistant at Georgia Tech, where he was the recruiting coordinator for a class ranked #1 by the relevant services. He's spent most of the last decade at a school in the same footprint as Michigan and must know the local landscape like the back of his hand. He seems to have all the bases covered. [HIKM]
Potential snags include Stricklin's status as a Kent State alum and possibly having to ward off interest from southern schools. It may be harder to get him than you might expect. Even so this seems like a spot in which using some of Michigan's giant pot of incrementally extracted money would actually pay off. Baseball coaches at MAC schools are not making enough money to turn up their noses at tripling their salary.
As for Stony Brook's coach, Matt Senk has been at Stony Brook for 22(!) years, the first decade of which was spent in D-III. Since moving to America East in 2002 they've had a losing record once, and since 2006 they've finished third or better every year with three NCAA bids. In 2011 they were 42-12 and 22-2 in conference but lost in the tournament and didn't get a bid; this year they are 54-13 (21-3) and scraped their way to the CWS as a four seed.
I'd rather have Stricklin since it's harder to tell if Stony Brook is just a big fish in America East that got fortunate; Stricklin had done better in conference and turned a MAC team into a national seed. While the Seawolves have been dominant in their conference that conference is weak enough to send a 42-12 team to the golf course. Senk's also a bit older. Forty-four isn't ancient, but it is another vote in favor of Stricklin… if Michigan can get him.
[SIDE NOTE: how great are Kent's old-timey uniforms?
Hello. I'm Ty Cobb, minus the racism.]
Today's recruiting roundup previews this week's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, reminds you why you shouldn't pay attention to every recruit's tweet, updates Kendall Fuller's recruitment, and more.
Move Along, Nothing To See Here
I underestimated you, MGoBoard. When I saw this tweet (later deleted by Logan Tuley-Tillman) come across my feed last night, I fully expected at least one thread bracing for the worst:
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) June 12, 2012
After half an hour of semi-rampant decommitment speculation, Logan broke the big news:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman (@LoganTillman) June 12, 2012
Let this serve as your regular reminder that breathlessly hanging onto every word in a recruit's twitter feed is a terrible way to live.
In more relevant news on current commits, I'll be attending the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Southfield on Wednesday and Thursday, which features a lengthy list of Michigan commits and targets. Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, David Dawson, Csont'e York, and Jourdan Lewis are the commits expected to attend, as is uncommitted CA DE Joe Mathis. There will also be the usual Cass Tech contingent as well as top 2014 in-state DE target Malik McDowell. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to write up this week, as I'm taking a vacation starting Friday morning and the camp runs all day, but I'll be updating on Twitter frequently.
Rivals released their 2013 rankings for the state of Michigan, and the Wolverines unsurprisingly dominate, taking four of the top five spots. Morris tops the list, followed by Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer, Lewis, Dawson, and Wyatt Shallman. York comes in at #8, one spot behind MSU commit Jon Reschke, and Hill sits at #23. Hill's placement strikes me as unusually low, especially since he comes in three spots behind a fellow tight end from Howell whose only offers are from Air Force, Bowling Green, and Western Michigan.
Kendall Fuller Update, Lists, and Visits
Fox Sports/Scout reporter Kristen Kenney caught up with five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller to get the latest on his recruitment in the following video, which strangely is stuck behind a paywall despite having embedding enabled:
Fuller mentions Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan as the four schools making the strongest push for him. He's got current or former teammates at all four: Stefon Diggs at Maryland, his older brothers at VT, Dorian O'Daniel at Clemson, and Blake Countess at Michigan. According to Fuller, a decision could come before the season if he's 100% sure of the school he'd like to attend. Fuller's fellow Good Counsel defensive back, Kirk Garner, also has the Wolverines in his top six.
Tremendous dropped off an intriguing tidbit in their notes column as FL CB Leon McQuay III says he's trying to set up a visit to Ann Arbor with teammate WR Alvin Bailey for some time in the next couple weeks. Getting Bailey on campus would be big, and in my opinion the prospect of McQuay making multiple visits in a matter of weeks is even bigger. Click through on the link to see Bailey's outstanding high-top fade in action.
Several prospects are narrowing down their lists as the season approaches. CA ATH Darren Carrington, one of Michigan's most recent offers, told 247's Clint Brewster that the Wolverines "in the top couple schools" that he's considering ($). Carrington appears to be waiting on some potential big-time offers, but also says that he'll try to camp at Michigan and plans to use one of his officials to see Ann Arbor. CA ATH Elijah Qualls, who Michigan is recruiting as a DT, has the Wolverines in his top seven ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller has his eye on four schools($): Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, and Notre Dame, though the two in-state schools appear to have a distinct edge.
Quickly: CA WR Sebastian Larue earned a USC offer this week, and he tells Rivals's Adam Gorney that he's spending the next few days pondering an early commitment ($). If he drops this weekend, it won't be to Michigan. GBW initially reported this week that Michigan offered OH ATH Caleb Day, but that report has been refuted by Rivals and later retracted by GBW. Happy trails to OH WR Kevin Gladney, who committed to Nebraska.
Brief 2014 Updates
...are very brief this week.
Tremendous gets a visit reaction from IN LB Brandon Lee, who checked out campus on Friday and enjoyed the trip.
Five-star AL ATH Bo Scarbrough will visit Ann Arbor later this month ($, info in header). Scarbrough is being recruited by all of the major powers, and while it's a tall task to get a recruit from Tuscaloosa, getting him on campus is a good start.
Four-star IL LB Clifton Garrett, who trains with Core 6 alongside LTT and Laquon Treadwell (among others), will attend July's BBQ at the Big House ($).
2013 commit Kyle Bosch has a younger brother in the class of 2015 who just picked up his first offer($) from Illinois. His name? Brennan Bosch. That won't get confusing at all for the Tigers fans among us.
The Ballad of Boubacar is brief and unfortunate
This is the second part of an in-depth look at the 2008 recruiting class, and more specifically Brian's recruiting profiles for that class. You can find part one, covering the offense, here. If you'd like to peruse the recruiting profiles yourself—a highly recommended time-waster—you can find links to each position group here. Without further ado, let's look back at the eight-member defensive class of 2008. This one's not for the squeamish.
Mike Martin Wrestles Not Mike Martin, Which Goes As Expected
Let's start with the good, yes? Mike Martin not only stands as the clear-cut best player in the class, but outside of two-star Patrick Omameh may very well be the only player to surpass expectations from when he hit campus. Those expectations, at least from Brian, were pretty high:
Guru Reliability: High.
General Excitement Level: High. The highlight reel is totally impressive, there are zero questions about work ethic or how in shape he is, and he's got pretty good guru rankings.
Projection: Will play in the DT rotation immediately, and will probably leap past Ferrara, Kates (if Kates remains on the team), et al to claim a starting spot once Taylor and Johnson graduate.
The remarkable strength that helped Martin excel for four years at Michigan was also on full display during his high school wrestling career, and fortunately there is video evidence of a young Martin perfecting his Hulk Smash. A Simmons-style running diary follows:
0:00 — Martin and his opponent—"Mo" is his name, judging by the cheers from people around the cameraman—jog onto the mat.
0:07 — Mo removes what appears to be an ankle tether, so maybe this is just an elaborate criminal punishment that almost certainly violates the 8th Amendment.
0:14 — Martin shakes Mo's hand. Martin releases his grip and Mo's hand goes limp, never again to function properly.
0:16 — The match begins. Martin begins stalking his prey, who ignores his coach's cries to "circle, circle!" and instead backpedals furiously to avoid Martin's grasp. Within seconds, Mo finds himself out of bounds.
0:36 — At the restart, Mo goes for an ill-timed high-five. Martin ignores this desperate plea for peace and immediately dives for a single-leg takedown.
0:44 — Mo manages to ward off the takedown, but once again backs himself out of the ring. When facing Mike Martin, this is not cowardice, but simply a display of proper survival instincts.
0:56 — On the second restart, Mo lightly pats Martin on the head. If you consult page 56 of your Worst Case Scenario handbook, you know this is the last thing you want to do when encountering a Mike Martin in the wild.
1:12 — Martin gets his hands on the back of Mo's head then explodes for a takedown, knocking Mo to the very edge of the mat. Mo sees an opportunity for escape and frantically crawls for the exits. Mike Martin is having none of that:
1:20 — As Mo's compatriots cackle at his misfortune, Martin assumes control and pins his convulsing opponent, ending this match with relative humanity.
1:50 — The two shake hands as Martin is declared the winner. Martin goes on to star at Michigan. Mo reattaches his ankle tether, vows to straighten his life out, and hastily seeks both physical and emotional therapy.
This Did Not Go As Planned, Part I
The first, and highest-ranked, of the Cass Tech Lollipop Guild line of cornerbacks was Boubacar Cissoko, a top-50 overall recruit to every site save ESPN, where he was outrageously(!) pegged as the nation's #28 corner. Regrettable statement goes here:
Guru Reliability: Maximal. The unified chorus: this is a perfect cornerback except he's 5'8".
General Excitement Level: High. Obvious physical limitation aside, the perfect corner.
Projection: Plays as a freshman and is starting next to Warren by his sophomore year.
Cissoko flashed promise as a freshman in 2008, even starting two contests. Then Michael Floyd and Golden Tate lit him up again and again in 2009 before Cissoko went on a crime spree that quickly found him off the team and then incarcerated. While Cissoko obviously never reached anything close to the potential that had Brian so excited, his recruiting profile did feature one bit of eerie foreshadowing [emphasis mine]:
A couple years ago, I watched [current Detroit Lions CB Chris] Houston and Arkansas play South Carolina. Redshirt sophomore Sidney Rice was the Gamecock's big star and Houston lined up nose-to-nose with Rice in eff-you press man on every single play. Spurrier went after him again and again; sometimes he won and sometimes he lost, but usually because Rice reeled in a perfectly-thrown fade. It was a fantastic individual battle and I came away impressed with both players. So did the NFL: Houston went with the eighth pick in the second round; Rice went just four picks later.
Maybe this isn't the most reassuring comparison, as Rice did end up with 7 catches for 128 yards and Arkansas lost, but... hey... free second round pick!
Michael Floyd vs. Michigan, 2009: 7 catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown. Somehow, the Wolverines won anyway.
Instead of 3-4 years of Cissoko stardom, this was the guy who ended up as a multi-year starter at cornerback:
Guru Reliability: High. No reason he'd be under the radar; offers about commensurate with ranking.
General Excitement Level: Meh.
Projection: Though he's being brought in as a corner a move to safety is likely given the above, where he'll probably end up buried behind Stevie Brown, Artis Chambers, Stewart, and maybe Brandon Smith until his junior year, at which point he might develop into a contributor.
If you read that and went "sounds like J.T. Floyd," give yourself a cookie. At least, "meh" was most everyone's general impression of Floyd until last year's Illinois game; his emergence as a reliable starting corner means he's surpassed most reasonable expectations for his career.
The final secondary recruit was safety Brandon Smith, whose guru ratings took a Marvin Robinson-like dive for very similar reasons:
Smith looks like a prototypical collegian at a strapping 6'2", 210, but the lack of big time offers is telling. It's easy to believe Smith could lure the gurus in with his impressive frame at various combines and inflate his ranking while leaving college coaches relatively unmoved.
Excitement level was only "moderate" and a move to outside linebacker predicted. Smith moved to linebacker, then announced his intention to transfer before the end of the 2009 season. He landed at Temple and is not listed on the 2012 spring roster.
This Did Not Go As Planned, Part II
Michigan's recruiting haul included four linebackers rated as four-stars by Rivals, providing promise of much-needed depth and versatility for the position group going forward. The class included New Jersey's Marcus Witherspoon (Spoon!)...
An explosive edge rusher who's probably too small to be a fulltime defensive end in college? Add four inches and some chicken legs and that sounds like Shawn Crable, who actually spent quite a bit of time as a defensive end anyway.
...as well as Youngstown product Taylor Hill:
What does Michigan have in Hill? The comparison above, Larry Foote, is a strong one. Like Foote, Hill is an undersized WLB who played his high school ball as a defensive end and specialized in getting into the backfield.
As you know, the Wolverines did not end up with new versions of Crable and Foote. Instead, Witherspoon hit a snag with the NCAA Clearinghouse and eventually signed with Rutgers, while Hill was on the team for all of one game before transferring to Youngstown State.
Fellow linebacker recruit J.B. Fitzgerald—"a good bet to be a multi-year starter"—also joined the ranks of the disappointing. Kenny Demens is the only class of 2008 linebacker to make a significant impact despite being pegged as a "low upside sort" and getting a less-than-complimentary player comparison:
Chris Graham may not be the most appealing comparison, but the elements are all there: a little undersized (I am of the belief the 6'1" frequently thrown around as his height is overstated), has difficulting getting through traffic, praised for his short range burst and thumping tackling. Graham never figured out how to play in control or get to the right place at the right time and was thus a disappointing starter; if Demens can play smarter he could be anything from a decent starter to a borderline all Big Ten pick.
Admittedly, that's a pretty accurate assessment. Now let's try to forget about the carnage of this class, which featured the legal adventures of Justin Feagin and Cissoko, not nearly enough Sam McGuffie YouTube magic, transfers from several critical commits, the hope that Witherspoon could mitigate the loss of Nick Perry to USC, and no Terrelle Pryor. Though, on second thought, that last bit turned out just fine.