this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The B1G Media Days Experience
Allow me take you on a journey. It begins in Ann Arbor and proceeds west via I-94, past the forested hills of Battle Creek, the lakeside vistas of Benton Harbor, and -- what's that smell? Ace, did you fart? You did, didn't you. Oh, my bad. That's just the natural smell emanating from the greater Gary, Indiana area. And we're not on I-94 anymore. And we have to pay a toll. And another one. We just paid a toll for a mile's worth of highway because in the greater Gary, Indiana area, they pump sulphur into the air and stir gold into the asphalt.
The skyscrapers and highrises of Chicago loom. They are glimmering beacons of Midwest culture thrusting out of a flat and fertile land of corn fields and cattle farms. Batman was filmed here, did you know? Those batmobile scenes took place right where Siri is telling us to go. Our blue dot freezes as we are swallowed by the vast labyrinth of tunnels and underpasses.
We are lost.
Not to fear! Our superior instincts tell us we're somewhere right below the Hyatt Regency, host to the 2012 B1G Media Days extravanganza. We emerge from the depths of the city 30 minutes later and arrive, frazzled but totally exhilarated, in the lobby. Well done, B1G, what a posh venue. So posh I have momentarily forgotten the correct number of syllables in "concierge". Too posh. Its well-to-do clientele don't seem to acknowledge that a high profile football event is taking place ... somewhere in here. Look at them with their boring black attire and pompous black suitcases and stupid blackberry devices. Don't they know that very famous people -- Denard Robinson fergodsakes! -- are currently inside the double doors of this, this ... completely empty ballroom.
"Excuse me, ma'am. We're here for the Big Ten Media Days. Says here it's in Ballroom AB."
"This is Ballroom AB."
"But there's no one in there..."
"This is the Hyatt Regency Chicago."
"You want to be at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place."
And that is the story of how Ace and I barely made it to Brady Hoke's speech last Thursday.
(more after the jump)
|Mentor, OH – 6'6", 250|
|Scout||4*, #12 DE, #93 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #16 WDE(!), #17 OH|
|ESPN||3*, #61 DE, #29 OH|
|24/7||4*, #14 WDE(!), #11 OH, #198 overall|
|Other Suitors||Ohio State, Notre Dame, MSU, Wisconsin, Stanford, Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa|
|YMRMFSPA||Also Ryan Van Bergen|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Ace scouts Mentor vs Medina. Reader Kent provides scouting from the Solon game.|
|Notes||Named Army AA but I don't think he played. I certainly don't remember him.|
And scouting reel from Ace:
Tom Strobel is pretty much Chris Wormley, except an inch or two taller, twenty pounds skinnier, and initially inclined to go to Ohio State before Jim Tressel immolated himself. He's a four star to three of the four sites, his main asset is a huge frame to mold, he's a strongside defensive end—long term, anyway—from Ohio, and his recruitment came down to the opposing sides in the Game. QED. Can I use a player who has not been on campus yet as YMRMFSPA? Probably not.
He released a statement in June, when he committed, that spelled out where he was coming from($):
"Like most people in Ohio, I was raised with a biased opinion against Michigan; however, it occurred to me that there was no justification for my prejudice, besides the fact that it was Michigan. I think it says something that despite my apprehension, Michigan still stood out above the rest."
Academics played a major role in that. As you can probably tell from the Stanford and Northwestern offers listed above, Strobel is one of those guys who probably could have gotten into Michigan even if he wasn't 6'6" and partial to throwing high schoolers across the field. Brady Hoke did, too: if Mario Ojemudia signaled a sea change in in-state recruiting under Brady Hoke, Strobel did that for Ohio.
As a result, Michigan's won a very large man in need of some technique. The scouting reports note his general hugeosity but come back to a lack of pass rush technique repeatedly. Ace checked out Mentor's game against Medina and came back thinking this:
While Strobel isn't the quickest player, he did a good job of getting off the snap and shooting right into his blocker, getting his hands into an offensive lineman's chest before his counterpart could get a hand on him. This allowed him to get great leverage, both in terms of pushing his man off the line and in helping him disengage from his block. Strobel recognized plays quickly and there wasn't a play when he couldn't shed his block and get two hands on the ballcarrier if one was within reach. When Strobel got his hands on someone, that was it for the play—his upper-body strength is impressive. …
[A] point of concern for me was with Strobel's lack of variety in his off-the-snap moves—he bullrushed, again and again, without showing much else except a quick shove to the inside that wasn't quite a full swim move. Again, there are some obvious explanations for this: the bullrush kept working, so there wasn't much of a reason to switch things up, and Medina almost never attempted a pass without rolling the pocket away from Strobel and throwing quickly. There just wasn't enough of a reason—or many opportunities—for Strobel to switch things up.
ESPN has a similar take:
For a taller kid he displays the ability to play with some bend and keep solid pad level. He uses his hands and reach well to take on blockers and keep some separation. He displays good upper body strength to not only keep blockers from getting into him but to also shed. He is a solid wrap-up tackler. He is an active kid who seems to keep working to get to the ball and displays solid speed for his size. … He will use his hands to try and deliver a punch and get blockers on their heels and push them out of the way. He battles as a pass rusher, but is a kid who could seem to benefit from having more of a plan of attack. He can generate some power and fight his way up-field to get pressure, but you would like to see him expand a little more as a pass rusher.
Allen Trieu's take highlights "technique and moves" as a negative while praising his balance, size, and change of direction; Duane Long marveled that he "looks like an NFL player right now"—shades of some Wormley comments—and that "a player can be that much of a force and so disruptive while barely being average using his hands."
Touch The Banner also mentioned various issues with technique that Michigan's coaches will fix. Even so he ends up in approximately the same place as both of the above assessments:
Strobel has a great motor. There are plays when he gets completely turned around, finds the ball, and makes a beeline toward the ballcarrier. … He's also thick from head to toe, which means he should have sufficient upper and lower body strength to keep blockers off of him with his arms while also powering through blockers and ballcarriers with his legs. He uses his hands very well and keeps separation from offensive tackles. …
Overall, Strobel seems like a high-floor/medium-ceiling type of player. As a strongside end, perhaps the most important quality is to be relentlessly active, and he does have that quality. However, he will get eaten alive if he doesn't play lower.
Magnus was concerned about his lack of production, but he stepped it up significantly after that post was written. After just 37 tackles and two sacks as a junior (he sat out a chunk of that year with a trachea(!) injury—ouch) he terrorized backfields in Ohio to the tune of 16 sacks and a first-team All Ohio nod in the state's largest division.
As a result, the most detail-oriented local observers (Bucknuts) ranked him #14 before the season…
“He is a very smart player who understands leverage and schemes. He has the speed to play defensive end and the frame to carry more weight in college."
…moved him up to #12 just before his senior year…
“Colleges want players with long arms and height on the edge of the defense because when guys like that get their hands up it can make it very difficult for quarterbacks to find throwing lanes out of the pocket. Strobel is this player. He has all the tools to dominate the edge in college. Strobel is just scratching the surface of his college potential right now.”
Stud, pure and simple. Strobel has improved greatly since his junior season, when he was very good. He is bigger, stronger and plays the game so much harder, which has taken his skill set to the next level. He had three sacks, a forced fumble and blocked an extra point.
Strobel appears to be making progress physically and mentally towards an undefined end point.
You may note that the two services who bother to split DEs into weakside and strongside groups both list Strobel as a weakside end. I don't think that's where he'll end up, as the scouting reports are notably light on pass-rush raves and by the time he sees the field he'll be at least 280 pounds. His coach agrees, FWIW:
"I think he will end up being a five-technique [defensive end], at least that is what they've said. He's 6-6, 255 already so I don't know that he will need to put a lot of weight on. He has to continue to get stronger and learn the game more, but I think he's a pretty special one."
Strobel told Touch The Banner the same thing, and told Michael Rothstein that his goal is to hit 295($) by his senior year. This is not a weakside end. He's an SDE all the way, and basically nothing else. If Michigan ends up needing to shift a guy down to the three-tech (likely at some point), Strobel's height will prevent him from being that guy.
With dline prospects like this you better believe Tressel is gonna be coaching here for at least six more seasons. Great to see the early interest that Strobel have in us.
"I said ‘no,' [about going to Ann Arbor]and she obviously overrode me," Strobel said of his mother, Christine. "The whole time I was there, I was shaking my head because all you think is, ‘I'm from Ohio. I can't like this.' But I loved it."
"I had a couple tackles in the beginning, but I had missed tackles all over the field. That's unacceptable," Strobel said. "I have to make sure my technique is sound. When we're scouting against the first team, make sure to wrap up and drive through with my legs."
"He's special… a complete player," Trivisonno said. "He has the size, he has the speed. I think when you talk to the coaching staff they're going to tell you he plays the game the right way: everything is full-go. He plays hard and is not a take-off-a-play guy. He has it all and is probably the best kid that has come out of here."
"Michigan State told me it took them three plays watching Tom on tape to realize they wanted him," Trivisonno said. "Stanford said it took about eight plays, and they turned off the film because they saw enough to know he was a guy they wanted."
Why Ryan Van Bergen again? Strobel == Wormley == Van Bergen. Strobel is farther away from the field than Wormley and the hype about his play is a notch or two lower than Wormley, but the scouting reports are very similar.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Again, no reason they wouldn't have an accurate read on him but the spread here is large.
Variance: Low. Rock-solid academics and frame should make him a contributor. Ceiling does not seem as high as Wormley's.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Doesn't seem like a guy with the sort of athleticism to provide a Brandon Graham-like pass rush from the strongside, but the senior-year surge and the possibility that Mattison and company could turn him into a big guy with excellent technique provide some promise of massive upside.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Strobel is not going to be Brandon Graham—at least probably not. He should be a solid run defender at a minimum and if he reaches the 10-12 TFL level RVB did he'll be a solid cog in the machine.
Projection: That TTB interview also features Strobel saying "the plan is not to redshirt" him, but a quick glance at the roster suggests one might be in order. Between Roh, Brink, Heitzman, and one of the two freshmen it Michigan is deep enough at SDE to redshirt the other. Since Wormley's coming in 20 pounds heavier, it would seem sensible to redshirt Strobel.
Whether he does or not, Roh will graduate and Michigan will have a four-way fight for the starting job in 2013. Strobel probably won't win it, but he should start making it into the rotation. He could get buried if Wormley and Heitzman turn out to be good; he could start or co-start for a long time. It's hard to forsee his future.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the BBQ, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Leon McQuay III, Shane Morris at the Gridiron Kings, 247's composite rankings, and more.
Skew It On The Bar-B
The commits plus Derrick Green (back row, fourth from the left) via Sam Webb
The BBQ at the Big House has come and gone without a commit, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a very successful recruiting weekend for the Wolverines. The big story was VA RB Derrick Green, as Michigan's commits put on the full-court press for a commitment—one several commits expect to happen sooner or later—and while Green decided against ending his recruitment, he told Matt Pargoff that the visit "definitely helped Michigan." Green did say that, despite what others have said, he wasn't close to committing on the visit, though he did tell Tremendous that Michigan will definitely be in his top five when he names his list this week. With the news that both Clemson and Ohio State are no longer recruiting Green, the Wolverines appear to be in the driver's seat. Green is no longer certain that he'll take all of his officials before committing, which could indicate a decision in the near future.
Though AZ WR Devon Allen couldn't stay for the BBQ, instead visiting on Saturday, he told 247's Todd Worly the trip "really opened my eyes" and increased his interest in Michigan ($). I think Allen is still a longshot to end up in the class, but he's a viable alternative should the unexpected happen with Laquon Treadwell.
While Green got most of the attention, he may not have been the recruit closest to pulling the trigger this weekend; 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns told 247's Steve Wiltfong that committing "crossed my mind" during the BBQ ($). At this point, Ferns is the clear favorite to kick off Michigan's 2014 class.
Another 2014 prospect who could make an early commitment is IL CB Parrker Westphal, who told Wiltfong that Michigan is "still the standard" in his recruitment following the BBQ ($).
2014 WI DE Conor Sheehy picked up an offer at the BBQ, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). The 6'4", 260-pound rising junior also holds an offer from Wisconsin and says he has no timeline for a commitment.
After visiting with a group of Cass Tech teammates, CB Damon Webb gave Sam Webb($) a top four of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and LSU. Webb holds offers from all four as well as Toledo, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Thus far the 2014 quarterback discussion has mostly centered around in-state prospect Chance Stewart and Ohio product DeShone Kizer, but there's a non-Midwest name on the radar: OK QB Coleman Key, who's now driven(!) to Ann Arbor twice and was told by the coaches he's the #1 target at the position, according to Tremendous. He's now got Michigan in his top three with Oklahoma and Texas and is waiting to get an offer from one of those schools.
2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles says Michigan is the school he's "looking into the most," according to Tim Sullivan ($).
Michigan has also made an impression on Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake teammates OL Mason Cole and ATH Artavis Scott, who were both at the BBQ. Cole told Sam Webb that Michigan is "definitely" one of his top schools($), while Scott said "hell yes" when asked by Tremendous if the visit helped Michigan.
Treadwell Visits: Probably Happening
IL WR Laquon Treadwell's recruitment continues to show that having four dedicated recruiting services often means you get four slightly different—or even wildly disparate—quotes in the span of a couple days. Here he's quoted by Sam Webb in the Detroit News last Thursday [emphasis mine]:
For his part, Treadwell says he will visit Oklahoma State soon. Whether he will take trips after that remains to be seen.
"August," replied Treadwell when asked when he would make his way down to the Sooner State. (After that) I'll probably take officials, but I'm not sure."
The next day, Treadwell gave this statement to ESPN's Kipp Adams:
"I am going to take some officials to LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State," Treadwell said. "I should be ready to make my decision after I see a couple of schools."
247's Keith Neibuhr got this quote on Sunday:
Along with the Wolverines, Illinois, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make up Treadwell's top five, he said.
"I haven't decided when I'll make my decision," Treadwell said. "I'll probably just have it randomly -- when I'm ready and comfortable. I really want to see those schools over again before I make a decision. I've been to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State. I want to get to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State."
According to the 6-feet-3, 195-pound Treadwell, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State probably will get official visits from him. Florida is another school he might check out, and soon.
"I'm dying to get up there with (Florida commits) Vernon [Hargreaves] and Tre [Bell]," Treadwell said. "The coaches are wanting to get me up there, so they can offer me a scholarship and I can see everything."
When might that visit happen?
"Whenever I can when I'm down here," he said. "Maybe this weekend."
So, as he's maintained throughout his recruitment, Treadwell is going to take some visits. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be lined up for August, while LSU and Florida are two schools that only recently showed major interest—he's mentioned each as a potential visit destination, but he's done this before when new schools pop up on the radar without anything coming to fruition. I still think this one's just a matter of time.
Webb's article above also discusses the situation with FL DB Leon McQuay III, who moved Michigan out of his top three after the commitment of Ross Douglas:
"He didn't drop (Michigan)," clarified McQuay's father, Leon McQuay Jr. "They wanted to move on the Penn State commit and they informed us on Tuesday. It came down all of a sudden. But Leon is not ready to commit. It's a business and I understand that. I had a conversation with his head coach, and between the two of us and the conversations he had with the coaching staff at Michigan, he kind of thought that it was best that if there is no (definite) scholarship available, why would they be in his top three?"
Florida State has taken Michigan's spot alongside USC and Vanderbilt, though there's still mutual interest. Yesterday news popped up that McQuay would make his announcement today, but that isn't happening. That's probably for the best, as given the above the Wolverines would probably be on the outside looking in if McQuay made a decision now.
A few happy trails to report this week: FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III committed to Florida, MD CB Kendall Fuller pledged to join his brothers at Virginia Tech, and KY DE Jason Hatcher adds to the ridiculous recruiting haul at USC.
BREAKING: RECRUITING SERVICE ACKNOWLEDGES EXISTENCE OF OTHER RECRUITING SERVICES
Well, it's about damn time this happened, even if 247 won't mention their competitors by name:
In an effort to communicate a more accurate evaluation of prospects and recruiting classes for fans, 247Sports is pleased to launch the 247Composite rating/ranking system for college football and basketball recruiting.
The 247Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect "rankings" and "ratings" listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services.
247 is now basing their team rankings on the composite formula, which weighs Rivals's, Scout's, and ESPN's rankings equally with their own. MGoUser Turd Ferguson has helpfully compiled the composite overall rankings of Michigan's commits and targets of interest:
Here's where the Michigan recruits landed in 247's calculation of the four-site average:
16. Shane Morris
55. Dymonte Thomas
62. Kyle Bosch
74. Patrick Kugler
82. Chris Fox
114. Henry Poggi
116. Mike McCray
122. David Dawson
133. Logan Tuley-Tillman
137. Taco Charlton
146. Jourdan Lewis
153. Jake Butt
191. Ben Gedeon
203. DeVeon Smith
215. Gareon Conley
242. Wyatt Shallman
301. Maurice Hurst, Jr.
311. Jaron Dukes
355. Ross Douglas
541. Csont'e York
641. Khalid Hill
Also of note:
40. Leon McQuay
41. Laquon Treadwell
60. Derrick Green
I don't see Channing Stribling or Scott Sypniewski in the top 1250.
Unfortunately, this is a really good idea that appears to be marred by some seriously flawed methodology, as noted in the comments of the above board post:
Ross Douglas is ranked the Composite #355 overall prospect (#28 CB) while Darian Hicks is ranked the Composite #256 overall prospect (#24 CB). Rivals, Scout, ESPN, & 247Sports all have Ross Douglas ranked above Hicks in their indvidual rankings so it is unclear how Douglas is lower in the Composite.
The rankings are using the top n lists from each site and averaging a player's overall ranking in those lists, but if a player isn't ranked on the top list by a particular service, it's omitted entirely from the average. Thus, you get this:
They only used inputted the data from each services top prospects lists(Rivals 250, ESPN 300, Scout 300) into their system. Because Hicks is not ranked in any those lists, he maintains only his 247Sports ranking (which turns out to be his highest). Douglas is ranked by a lot of those lists and that actually ends up bringing his ranking down because it is below his 247Sports ranking.
Hopefully there will be a formula tweak in the near future; otherwise, this is great for comparing recruits who made it onto all four lists, and totally worthless otherwise.
Morris, Treadwell, Bailey At Gridiron Kings
Michigan's top non-coach recruiter wasn't present at the BBQ, as Shane Morris instead was in Florida competing in the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament, where he piloted his Midwest squad to the finals before falling to a stacked Southeast team. Morris impressed on day one, according to Josh Helmholdt ($)...
In general, the quarterbacks did not have a banner day on Saturday. Morris was the best when he was on and made some spectacular throws downfield. He also had times when he had trouble going through his progressions and getting the football where it needed to be on time. Overall, though, Morris was solid and helped his team put a lot of points on the board despite its 1-2 record in pool play. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound passer let the fastball rip on a number of occasions, but also varied his speed and was spotting his passes well most of the day.
...but failed to make the top performers lists after day two, when he threw a couple of picks to Leon McQuay III in the finals. He did, however, display a strong rapport with Laquon Treadwell, again via Helmholdt ($):
Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris is committed to Michigan and Crete-Monee (Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has the Wolverines as his favorite. It remains to be seen if the two will hook up in college, but they connected more than any other wide receiver-quarterback duo over the course of the two days.
When it came time to name a top performer for Sunday, Rivals's Chris Nee went with another Michigan target, FL WR Alvin Bailey:
Bailey didn't win offensive MVP honors, which went instead to his quarterback, Brice Ramsey. But Bailey nonetheless had an outstanding day in the Gridiron Kings Championship. He showed the ability to stretch the field and get a step on vertical routes against defensive backs while also displaying great work in the middle of the field and underneath. He had numerous big receptions and regularly found the end zone.
Treadwell also earned mention as the #6 overall Sunday performer.
Quick 2014 Updates
Michigan has handed out scholarship offers to the top national prospects at running back in the 2014 class, but hadn't given one to a Midwest back until this week, when they offered Marion (OH) Harding RB L.J. Scott, according to Tremendous. Scott is a big back at 6'0", 215 pounds, and also holds an early offer from Kent State.
Two blue-chip 2014 prospects say they'll be in Ann Arbor for a game this fall. Behemoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. had to cancel a visit set for earlier this month, but says he's "definitely going to go up" to Ann Arbor ($). TX CB Edward Paris, the #10 overall prospect in the early Top247, wants to check out the Alabama game($), though since that's a neutral-site game he would not be an official visitor.
You don't want to know what I had to do to secure that seat
The media day roundtable session took place just a couple of hours before Denard Robinson delivered his keynote address at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. This meant, unfortunately, that in my half-hour at Denard's table the majority of the questions related to the speech, how he prepared for the speech, his nerves before the speech, his pre-speech nerves compared to his pre-game nerves, Kirk Cousins's speech, and so on.* What follows is my best effort at collecting relevant, non-speech quotes, as the speech did a decent job of speaking for itself.
Was timing something that got sacrificed last year somewhat because you guys were learning a new offense?
I think that did hurt us. Us not having timing, that was a key issue. My footwork, I was thinking so much that my footwork was everywhere; throwing off my back foot was one of the things I messed up a lot on. That’s what I’m trying to change this year, I’ve been doing that [during the] offseason and working on that timing. Now we’re not thinking about the offense because we know the offense and we have confidence in ourselves. We know the offense and now we have the opportunity to have success in the offense.
Was the problem that you were thinking about too many other things last year, especially early?
Yeah, earlier in the season I was still learning the offense, trying to get the basis of the offense. Towards the end of the season, that’s when it started coming along, because I was in the offense enough to know the offense.
MGoQuestion: Compared to last year, now that you’re more comfortable in the offense, do you expect to have more input into the game plan? Will Coach Borges give you more input in terms of which plays to call?
I think so. I think Coach Borges, he’s always open-minded, he always asks, “what do you think about this?” That’s the kind of guy he is. If I don’t feel comfortable doing something, he would ask me if I feel comfortable doing it. That’s just Coach Borges, that’s just his personality, that’s the way he coaches.
MGoQuestion: The offense really seemed to evolve last year as you got more comfortable and as Coach Borges got more familiar with the personnel. How would you say the offense changed over the course of last year, and where are you guys today compared to where you were at before last season?
I think we’re way past what we were before [last season]. We’ve built this chemistry in the offense and we feel confident and comfortable with the offense. When it comes down to making the reads and making the right checks and getting us into the right play, I think we all know how to do it now.
MGoQuestion: Schematically, were there changes that Coach Borges made once he got more familiar with your game and the rest of the offense?
He made little tweaks, but I feel like he made game plans, and whatever he’d feel would be successful, that’s what he used.
MGoQuestion: Do you expect this year to be any more or less involved in the running game than you were last year?
I don’t know, you gotta ask Coach Borges. If you want me to run the ball a hundred-some times a game I’ll run it. Whatever it takes for us to win, that’s what I feel anybody on our team would do.
When you’re watching a defense—let’s say it’s Alabama—what do you look at? When you’re, as a quarterback, studying a defense just casually … what do you look at?
You look at the coverage. I’m a quarterback, so I look at the coverage first. You want to see little hints that they give you, like if there’s a safety coming down, how far is the linebacker up to the umpire, how close the safety is to the umpire—if the safety is right on the umpire he’s probably coming, or he’s got to cover somebody, stuff like that. You might see the corner bail before his time, so you can tell that’s probably a [cover] 3 or 4, something like that. Just looking at what kind of coverage they’re in, if the corner is flat-footed or is he on his toes, little things like that you want to look at.
UNEXPECTED ANSWERS TO CORNY QUESTIONS
Did you ever envision in your wildest dreams ending up where you’re at today?
Oh, man, to be honest with you I didn’t. I didn’t know how far I’d go. I was just telling Kovacs and Taylor last night, in high school I didn’t think I was a D-I athlete, so now I’m here and it’s like it’s all a dream.
You didn’t think you’d be a D-I athlete?
Yeah, in high school I really didn’t. I really didn’t think that until I got my first offer from Florida my junior year.
*I've unearthed exclusive footage of this portion of the roundtable.
Johnny talked with me this morning and indicated he'll be coming back," Berenson said Monday. "He definitely had some dialogue with New Jersey. Jon realized he only played half of the season and he wants to be ready when he makes the move. He wants to be competing for an NHL job when he does. He doesn't want to be playing in the minors. I think it's the right thing for him.
That should end Michigan Hockey Summer, leaving them intact enough on defense despite the bizarre defection of Connor Carrick. A lineup of…
- Clare/Serville/Chiasson blender
…is pretty damn good. Chris Brown's absence will be felt, unfortunately.
Media days provided a chance for Taylor Lewan to show off his new, "vanilla" approach to interacting with the media as he continues to mature into a team leader. Of course, this is still Taylor Lewan, Finger 'Stache Enthusiast, so even when he's aiming for bland the conversation inevitably veers in the direction of colorful. Here are some excerpts from his roundtable session covering Alabama, the left guard competition, hosting recruiting visits, his playing weight, and some unfortunate news regarding the twosie:
RELEVANT FOOTBALL STUFF
MGoQuestion: Now that you’ve been in the same offensive system for a year, how much of a comfort level do you have in the offense, and how have you seen it evolve since the beginning of last year?
It’s a lot more exciting just going into camp and jumping right into it. Last year we had to take it slow, obviously, because we didn’t know the plays yet. I think it’s going to be exciting just jumping right into it and having the offense evolve even more than it did last year.
MGoQuestion: It seems like four offensive line positions are set, but left guard is still up in the air. What do you see out of the guys that are competing for that right now?
Joey Burzynski, he’s a redshirt sophomore, and then Elliott Mealer is a redshirt senior; both guys are really capable of playing the position. I think it’s a good problem to have when you’ve got two guys battling it out like that, and I think nobody’s job on the offensive line is set in stone.
MGoQuestion: Kyle Kalis has been mentioned as a guy who could come in and play. How much of a challenge is it to come in as a true freshman on the offensive line?
It’s unbelievably hard. Unbelievably hard. Just developing as an offensive lineman is probably the hardest thing to do at a college position. Kyle definitely passes the eye test when you look at him. He’s a big fella, looks strong. Everybody’s technique needs work, but we’ll see when camp rolls around.
MGoQuestion: At running back, the status of Fitz Toussaint is obviously up in the air right now. What do you see out of a guy like Thomas Rawls, what does he bring that may be different than what Fitz does?
Thomas Rawls, he runs angry, and he runs aggressive. He’s capable of doing all the things Fitz can do. One guy that’s really overlooked, and I was talking to Denard and Jordan about this yesterday, is Vincent Smith. Vincent, he’s without a doubt pound-for-pound the toughest guy on our team, and he’s like 5’6”. He’s unbelievable.
MGoQuestion: Have you started watching film on Alabama yet?
MGoQuestion: What kind of challenge does their defensive line pose? Are you paying attention to matchups yet?
I don’t know numbers yet or anything, but they’re a really good team. That’s the great part of Alabama; you lose five first-round draft picks and you’re gonna have five coming up after that. I’m real excited to play this game, I’m excited to see Michigan in this game, and Dallas isn’t a bad place to play, either.
MGoQuestion: Them playing a 3-4 defense, you don’t see that a lot in college football. Does that pose a different challenge for you as an offensive lineman?
Yeah, it changes blocking schemes here and there, but there’s no reason we should have a problem with that. In some ways that helps our passing game a little bit, flaring out and picking up blitzes, with three down linemen. In some ways it can help our inside zone or our power. There’s just a whole lot of things that go into it and if we come to play, we’ll be successful.
Does their defense remind you of your defense in terms of creativity, the number of blitzes…
Yeah, absolutely. Actually, they’re real similar. I’m excited to see what happens there. I don’t know if they twist and stunt as much as we do, but we’ll see what happens.
KOVACS VS. LEWAN, PART II
MGoQuestion: Jordan was over there saying you’re boring this week. Is that good for you? Is that an adjustment to make?
Boring, he said?
Boring and ugly, actually.
Well, I’ll agree to that first part. I’m not ugly. But I don’t know, I wouldn’t say boring, just focused on the goals at hand right now.
[Later] Jordan said to tell you that he called you ugly.
That’s twice now that I’ve heard that. I’m not happy about it.
Maybe he’s testing the vanilla-ization of Taylor Lewan.
You tell him that, uh… just don’t tell him anything. Tell him he looks lovely today. He looks like an accountant, actually.
LEWAN'S HUSKINESS/SMALL CHILD
Last year, Craig Roh said to call you husky because you’re self-conscious about your weight.
You can call me husky all you want. You can feel these hips if you want, too. I’m 310 pounds. There’s gotta be a little love, right?
But seriously, he was praising you for harnessing your…
…your volatile nature.
[laughs] I used to, actually, when I was younger, in high school I was always worried about how I looked. Craig, how’s it look? Right here, in this area. [Your torso?] Yeah, you gotta make sure it at least stays flat, you know?
What about how Craig looks right now?
He’s fat. Tell him I said that. [What about his hair?] His hair’s awesome, you don’t like it? I think the flow is unreal. But Jake Ryan has the best flow in the league, hands down. Write that down.
[After Lewan discusses bringing his weight from 250 lbs. as a freshman to 310 lbs. now] Do you think about that though, that you’ve kind of added a small child?
I’ve added a small child to my body. So, you’re just calling me fat to my face. I feel like we can get past this together. No, I’ve never woke up in the morning and thought, “you know what?” [rubs belly, laughter ensues]
But seriously, do you think you can play at this weight?
The goal was always to get past 300 pounds, so I know coming in that the biggest thing I could do to hide my child is to eat healthy as much as possible, and that’s what I’m trying to do.
MGoQuestion: Jordan mentioned you taking a role in recruiting, hosting players and stuff like that. What’s it like hosting players on campus?
It can get awkward, almost. You don’t know the guy at all and you’ve got to take him around for the night. I enjoy it. Me and Pat [Omameh] kind of praise ourselves with recruiting. We’re the best there is, that’s how we look at it. It depends on who you’ve got; some are talkative, some aren’t, you’ve just got to feel them out and see what they want to do.
MGoQuestion: Do you take any credit for landing any of the guys on the team?
I couldn’t do it. Well, I don’t know. Actually, I’m gonna say yes. Me and Pat, we hosted Jack Miller, we hosted Eric Magnuson, Kalis, a bunch of guys. I don’t know if I’d take credit, but definitely, I enjoy the recruiting process.
ON FIELDING CALLS FROM NFL AGENTS
Have agents been contacting you?
I don’t know. I get a lot of phone calls from numbers I don’t know, and I just don’t pick them up; there’s no reason to. My focus is on the University of Michigan, and there’s no point jumping into something and getting in trouble like that, because that’s not who I am.
When did you start getting phone calls?
I don’t know. Last month. But I don’t answer any of the phone calls. No one’s talked to me because I haven’t talked to them.
TAYLOR'S TWOSIE: RETIRED
MGoQuestion: Were you surprised by the attention paid to the twosie?
Yeah, I don’t know why that was made to be such a big deal. I got that thing for my teammates and all that stuff, for us to enjoy, mess around on it. The media kinda turned it into its own kind of monster, I wasn’t expecting that. I don’t really use that thing anymore. When you’re trying to give off the image of being a leader on this team, you probably shouldn’t be riding a two-seater bike. [Ed-S: FALSE!!!]
Taylor Lewan on Kovacs: "He looks like an accountant."
The roundtable session at media days takes on a remarkably repetitive nature, a product of giving reporters two hours to move freely between tables and fire away questions. Inanity ensues. Perhaps no player serves as a better example of this than Jordan Kovacs, who in the 40 or so minutes that I spent at his table fielded approximately 7,432 questions about his journey from walk-on to All-Big Ten safety. I mean, of course this happened:
Reporter: Do you ever get tired of questions about being a walk-on?
Kovacs: [laughs] Yeah, I was just asked that.
Jordan Kovacs is tired of being asked if he's tired of being asked about being a walk-on, and would someone please help me out of this wormhole?
Anyway, here's some select quotes from his roundtable session. I'll post Taylor Lewan's later today, and Denard Robinson's will go up tomorrow.
RELEVANT FOOTBALL STUFF
MGoQuestion: Now that you’re in the second year under Greg Mattison, do you expect the defense schematically to change at all in terms of playcalling? Do you expect it to get more aggressive this year?
I think he’s going to be the same Coach Mattison. He’s always been aggressive, and I don’t know if you can get more aggressive [laughs]. But I think we’re all more comfortable with the scheme and he’s more comfortable with us. Like I’ve said before, we really look forward to this season with the defense because nobody on this defense has been in the same defense for two consecutive years, and that’s what we’ll have this year, so we really look forward to that and we really look forward to seeing how far we can take this defense.
MGoQuestion: When you’re looking at film of Alabama, what do you see out of A.J. McCarron? What does he bring that you guys are going to have to defend against?
He’s improved a lot. He’s improved tremendously. I think at the beginning of last year he was not nearly as good—I mean, that’s obviously when they were in the quarterback battle—but he was not nearly as good as he was at the end of the year. At the end of the year he was one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, if not the best. Obviously he’s got a great arm, and I think that his running game helps him so much, I think that really opens up the passing game for him. He’s a tough quarterback, a tough kid, and I hope we can make him a little uncomfortable back there, but with their offensive line that’s not going to be anything easy.
MGoQuestion: There’s been a lot of roster turnover over the past few years, especially in the secondary. What kind of challenge does that pose to you guys as a team, especially in practice; is that tough when the guys behind you are constantly changing?
Yeah. That’s always happening. I know Coach Hoke always says it but it’s true that there are always expectations for the position and for the ballplayer. Whoever is at defensive tackle for us, there’s expectations to be great, not that they’re going to step in and be great but that they’re going to work hard this offseason and pick up right where Mike Martin or Ryan Van Bergen or Will Heininger or wherever those guys left off. Obviously those are going to be big shoes to fill but that’s how it is at Michigan.
MGoQuestion: The defense was really good last year at limiting big plays, but then against Ohio State and also against Virginia Tech, they were able to go over the top a little bit. Was that a schematic issue or a matchup issue—what happened over the last two games?
We didn’t play very well, from a defensive backs standpoint. Obviously against Ohio State we gave up quite a few big plays; Virginia Tech it wasn’t as many that cost us, we played a little bit more bend-but-don’t-break defense in that game. We did not play well enough from a defensive standpoint in either of those games, and it starts with the defensive backs. That’s something we worked on a lot in spring ball. It’s not an issue of athleticism or anything like that, it was just guys not being on the same page, and we’ll get that corrected.
So what you’re saying is it was a mental thing?
Yeah, there were more mental errors. A couple of the routes were tough. Ohio State kinda gave us a route that really cost us, it was a tough one to defend.
You know, I don’t remember exactly. It was tough to defend with our coverage; there was some miscommunication, we misplayed it.* Sometimes that’ll happen and you’ve just got to get it corrected and that’s what we did. We played a little better in the second half, as we did against Virginia Tech, and we ultimately won the game.
BEST DEFLECTION OF A STUPID QUESTION
I’m going to have you #1 on my AP ballot in the preseason. Is that a good call or a bad call?
I think that’s a call that doesn’t really matter. Where you start means nothing, it’s where you finish. So, tell me where we’ll finish at the end of the season, and I’ll tell you whether that’s a good or a bad call.
SOUNDS ABOUT RIGHT
What is it like defending Denard in practice?
Yeah, it sucks.
How much do you follow the recruiting stuff?
I don’t really follow any rankings, but you meet the kids and you hear through word of mouth from the players. But at the end of the day, the whole rankings system—I didn’t have any stars, and I’m here today, right? Not one. So yeah, I don’t keep up with it too much.
Are you ever a player host?
I’ve hosted a couple. I think Taylor is the key recruiter, and Roy; we’ve got our go-to guys.
KOVACS VS. LEWAN, PART I
We talked a little bit about Denard and how he hasn’t changed. What about Taylor?
Unfortunately, Taylor, he hasn’t changed. I’m just joking, but you can write that. Taylor, I can’t describe how much I think he’s matured, and I’m sure you see that as reporters. He’s vanilla this weekend. He’s been told to be vanilla this weekend. I don’t even think he needed to be told that, because I think he’s more focused than ever before. I think he understands how far we can take this team, and he’s really harnessed it and he’s really looking forward to it. I can’t say enough about his leadership. He’s got those young offensive linemen in there and he’s really working hard with those guys.
Do you think the vanilla-ization of Taylor has taken away from his aggressiveness on the field?
No. I think we need him to be vanilla off the field. Taylor is one of those guys that… first of all, he’s ugly. But he’s a very aggressive ballplayer; he’s one of those offensive linemen that you hate to play against but you love to have him on your team, because he’s just nasty, he’s ugly—I don’t know if I said that—but he’s a mauler. What offensive linemen do is not pretty, but you love it when they do it for your team.
Just tell him I said that.**
*My guess at the time was Kovacs was thinking of OSU attacking the seam against Michigan's cover 2. Brian concurred when I chatted with him today; Michigan ran a cloud cover 2 where the corners had deep responsibility at the free safety defended underneath, a coverage they only used against the Buckeyes, which could explain the confusion.
**In case you're actually concerned about an offense-defense rift or something, this was entirely in jest. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion later this afternoon.
Will Campbell perpetual shirt malfunction. Tim Sullivan headed out to the Cass Tech alumni 7-on-7 game last weekend and got this shot of Will Campbell doing, well, this:
He's (relatively) thin. This will make him an excellent football player. Lewan:
"The most dramatic change I've seen in a body on our team is Will Campbell," said left tackle Taylor Lewan. "His body is transformed. He was a sloppy 350 and now he's a toned down 308 kind of guy. He looks real good. His conditioning shows it. You should see him run. He's like a gazelle. It's unreal. I think Will is going to do some special things this year."
Come on, baby.
Haters. I just don't know, man. People deploy "haters" to flip criticism to the critic but surely…
From Garry Gilliam™ twitter feed with the comment
"Just in case the haters thought otherwise"
…nope. There is nothing in this world bad enough to prevent "haters" from being deployed. Yeah, Penn State football player, it's jealousy at the root of all of this.
UNC stuff. A "special faculty committee" at North Carolina has called for "an independent commission of outside experts" to review the relationship between athletics and academics at the university. If this happens expect the outside experts to exhale a slow, sliding whistle at the car wreck:
The report, released Thursday, also states staffers in the school's Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes referred players to classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM). In May, the university outlined fraud and poor oversight in 54 AFAM classes between 2007 and 2011, including classes that met irregularly if at all.
That included a class last summer with 18 current football players and one former player.
"It seems likely that someone in the (AFAM) department called athletics counselors … to tell them that certain courses would be available," the report states, "it is less clear whether staff … actually contacted departments to ask about the availability of classes."
So there's that. There's playing Hakeem Nicks in 2008 when he was ineligible, and there was Butch Davis employing an assistant coach literally acting as a "street agent." UNC got a one-year bowl ban and some minor scholarship losses.
Why didn't UNC get hammered? They've subverted nearly as much to the drive of the football program as Penn State did, albeit with far less odious results. If the NCAA is ever going to get a handle on these things, plausible deniability needs to be tossed out the window.
Leave Jordan alone. It's bad enough that Roy Roundtree is 21 and Devin Gardner is 12 and I'm going to be confused but come on man let's not take a bomb to our roster:
In May, Michigan announced that Roundtree would wear the No. 21 jersey of "Michigan Football Legend" Desmond Howard next season. Shortly thereafter, the school announced it would be un-retiring and recirculating Ron Kramer's No. 87, Gerald Ford's No. 48 and Bennie Oosterbaan's No. 47 beginning this fall.
Who might those players be? Will they be announced this season? When will Hoke decide it all?
"Sometime," he said with a grin. "In the future.
Come on man let's not do this. Let's give the numbers to players who have not yet established themselves as starters. Let's do this: not doing this. Come on man.
This one not so close. In other non-WH games on youtube, here's almost all of the 1991 Florida State game. Advantages: Desmond Howard and Keith Jackson. Disadvantages: Michigan loses by 20. Tread carefully:
If that doesn't tempt, 100 random Michigan touchdowns may:
Angry Iowa running back hating God is having its Exodus moment. Or it just released "Blood on the Tracks" or something. What I am getting at is: wow, that got out of hand.
YOUR RUNNING BACKS. I WILL DESTROY THEM, IOWA.
Sophomore De'Andre Johnson got a ticket for "maintaining a disorderly house" because the cops didn't appreciate walking up a never-ending staircase* and then drove very fast away from police*, drawing the usual indefinite suspension. This is the fifth(!) tailback hewed down by AIRBHG this offseason alone, though incoming freshman Greg Garmon got away with a drug paraphernalia charge without a suspension.
Alabama coach Nick Saban’s support staff has expanded to nine “analysts.” That’s up from six in 2011, three in 2010 and none before then.
The money has to go somewhere.
We will fare less well on this list next year. Orson charts fun/good from the perspective of his Orsonbrain. The Big Ten:
This is because Denard. Next year… well, it'll probably be Gardner and if early returns are any indication that will be fun to the Orsonbrain as well because it will occasionally result in passes thrown ten yards past the line of scrimmage or thirty yards behind it. Our brains will probably not interpret this as "fun."
I think Northwestern gets a raw deal here since they are liable to do anything at any time no matter how big their lead is.
Goodbye, Bolden. Rob Bolden's inevitable, slow-motion transfer process seems to have come to a conclusion with an LSU visit and the notable omission of Bolden from the Penn State roster. How he'll improve LSU's football team is unclear. Tulane, maybe.
In any case, the highly-touted in-state QB recruiting class is down to Devin Gardner's one or two years at the helm at Michigan. Joe Boisture discovered he wasn't actually good at football and lasted less than a year at MSU, Bolden lost his job to a walk-on, and Gardner's been stuck behind Denard.
Um. Nebraska's going to wear alternate uniforms for their game against Wisconsin that look slightly familiar, and not just because they give off the faint air of Rollerball.
this is just a picture. don't click on it.
Ad some shoulder stripes and that's Michigan's outfit from last year's ND game. Hopefully Adidas was too busy making jerseys that don't have to be switched out at halftime to innovate this summer.
Derrick Walton doing this work business. He led his AAU team to a championship in Vegas last weekend, garnering MVP honors in the process:
Walton is aggressively moving up the 2013 recruiting ranks, and continued to impress coaches and recruiting gurus with his performance this week in Las Vegas. Before the game, Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s top recruiting analyst, tweeted that Walton is being considered as a McDonald’s All-American after his strong performance.
TELEP: Sprinkle that Derrick Walton name in for McDonalds consideration.
The Mustangs, who boast four Division 1-bound players, cruised through the tournament going 9-0, outscoring opponents by 17 points per game in super pool play.
Walton had 16 points, 13 assists, and one turnover in the final.
Media days stuff. ESPN has a transcript of his speech. Denard:
Etc.: USA water polo goalie Betsey Armstrong will become a Michigan assistant this fall. Advice: try not to get kicked by her. Not that she's in the habit of kicking random passersby. Annual MVictors JDRF donation drive is live. GRITTY GRIT GIRT. SOCKS. WOLVERINE CONSERVATION THROUGH CITIZEN SCIENCE FUNDRAISING.
Michigan adds a commitment this week, so the recruiting rankings are front-paged. Also, Penn State begins their post-sanction slip down the board and there's a new team at the bottom of the list. Changes since the last rankings:
7-23-12: Ross Douglas decommits from Penn State.
7-24-12: Michigan picks up Ross Douglas. Michigan State picks up Devyn Salmon.
7-25-12: Keelon Brookins decommits from Minnesota. Wisconsin picks up Keelon Brookins.
7-26-12: Indiana picks up Demetrius Hill.
7-28-12: Notre Dame picks up Jamel James. Ohio State picks up Tim Gardner. Purdue picks up Keyante Green.
|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 four recruiting services (the previous four 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 two-star players.
On to the full data after the jump.
Is on the tubes:
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