FWIW. Michigan doesn't seem inclined to get re-involved.
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If only coach Mattison knew how to FaceTime. pic.twitter.com/uG1JwVwnlv
— Frank Clark (@UMclark57) July 10, 2014
First, the mandatory comment about charge: good charge, Frank Clark. Way to keep on top of that.
Then: this is hilarious but it is also just, like, art, man. Yeah.
CLARK: coach you gotta point the phone at you
MATTISON: I am pointing it at me
CLARK: coach you are probably not a cloud or the sky or the rays of the sun
MATTISON: but I could be
CLARK: yeah but you're not, you're a bald guy, I've seen
MATTISON: but I could be the sky and the sun and a bald crown
CLARK: ok coach
Welcome. Orson wrote a terrific thing about the Brazil kid weeping so hard he was trying to shove a cup through his face in case that would help:
I have nothing for you. Maybe it's worse when your team is good, and there is the hope of winning. If you'll notice, fans of desolate, perpetually forlorn carrion wagons like Kentucky football or tragedians like Ole Miss fans don't hold up cups to their faces, clutch their eyes, and try to literally vomit their sorrow into a Coke cup after losing by six goals on their home turf. Brazil fans do, because shame has a prerequisite: the standard, or the notion that you will be somewhere that is not crying so hard you have to compress yourself into some kind of ball to keep from shattering into a thousand tiny pieces.
Intermittent reinforcement is apparently the way to get obedience: sometimes you get the thing. Other times you do not get the thing. Sports is very intermittent reinforcement. So congrats, kid! If you haven't sworn off soccer forever already, you are the proud recipient of a lifetime mania that will probably work out just fine because you're Brazilian.
Brutal! Mark Emmert showed for a congressional hearing that went even worse than the court thing did.
McCaskill offered some of the sharpest criticism of Emmert, questioning why his role exists if he can’t shape reform or prevent athletic departments from investigating sexual assaults.
“I can’t tell if you’re in charge or a minion” to the schools, McCaskill said. “If you’re merely a monetary pass-through, why should you exist?”
"I'm a good cartel," Emmert said under his breath. "A good one." New Jersey's Corey Booker:
"When they can lord over you the removal of your scholarship - because it does still happen, athletes are still exploited, that if they blow out their knee, if they somehow don't meet the mandates of a coach, they lose their scholarship, they don't get their degree -- to me, this is plain and simple the dark side of the NCAA, where athletes are being exploited," Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) later said, noting that some issues he dealt with as a college athlete 20 years ago are still being dealt with by athletes today.
If the NCAA thinks they're going to get antitrust help from Congress, that hearing was some cold water. I know Democrats and Republicans and whatnot, but this may be an organization with a worse public image than Congress itself… not exactly baseball in 1910 or whatever.
Thornton tearing things up. Beilein and Calipari were jowl to jowl watching Derryck Thornton, and they were treated to a show:
(Thornton) picked up right where he left off after standing out at the Steph Curry Camp to start the month. Thornton was a true floor general, in complete control every time he stepped on the court and able to impact the game in a variety of different ways. He handles the ball on a string and excels at making a variety of different reads off the pick and roll. He holds his dribble going through the lane as well as anyone in the field, just waiting on the defense to break down and reveal open receivers. He even shot the ball well here, making a series of pull-ups as well as rhythm 3s. Thornton took unofficial visits to both Kentucky and Michigan last month and was followed by both Kentucky’s John Calipari and Michigan’s John Beilein here.
Thornton's done taking visits this summer after heading to Michigan and Kentucky, both of which he plans on visiting again this fall. It appears this is a head to head battle.
Adapting to reality. Mark Richt is adapting to life in the fast lane.
"One of the big things for us is football is now becoming a very high up-tempo game,” UGA coach Mark Richt explained recently. “It used to be 30, 40 seconds between a play. Now it could be as short as 10-to-18 seconds between plays. So you’re exerting and then resting for a short period of time. So now, even in the weight room, we want to go hard, rest a short time, then go ahead. A quicker recovery time. We’re not going to run the longer distances anymore. We’re going to run the shorter distance.”
After last year's Indiana game, I'm hoping there's some sort of similar soul searching within the Michigan program. You'd figure so, but… if anyone was going to not give it as much time as they should it would be Michigan. They've been just so, so bad with anything related to tempo under Hoke, whether it's defending it or trying to go fast themselves.
Elite 11/The Opening Updates: Michigan Commits
Alex Malzone didn't make the cut from the 18 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 finals down to the top 11, as he couldn't put together enough consistency to move on, according to the camp's resident QB coach, Trent Dilfer (via the Freep):
“When you put him in an environment like this where it’s really fast and great athletes around you and every little microsecond of timing matters, there’s been some inconsistencies. His good is extremely good. His bad has been bad at times, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Dilfer noted that Malzone's baseball background affects his mechanics as a quarterback—the football throwing motion requires a more compact delivery—which makes it tough to maintain consistency. That's apparent on the film from the first day of camp; on a few throws, Malzone keeps his motion pretty tight, but on others—especially the throws when he has to avoid rushers, a situation where a QB is likely to revert to their most natural-feeling delivery—he lets his throwing arm dip down too far, elongating the motion.
Playing in a loaded field while tweaking his mechanics on the fly, with a very limited number of reps to work with, Malzone making the final cut was a tall order. When I say limited reps, I mean limited reps, as Malzone relayed to Scout's Sam Webb and Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Yesterday, all we had on the field was a red zone session, seven on seven, each quarterback had six throws, missed a couple of guys. I felt like I could have done better myself. I made up for it in the end. I threw one touchdown at the end and today I came out and did what I could do.”
Ultimately not selected in the top group of the Elite 11 following the rigorous workouts, Malzone just sees it as extra motivation, noting he most definitely gave it his all.
Malzone's moved on to The Opening, which is in its final day today, and as expected recruiting for Michigan is as much a focus as playing at the camp, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I've talked to [George] Campbell, [Mike] Weber, Keisean [Lucier-South], [Auden] Tate, Ray-Ray [McCloud], Damien [Harris], [Mook] Reynolds and Iman [Marshall]," [Malzone] said.
When asked which player seemed the most receptive to Michigan? "Mike Weber."
More on that last bit later in this post.
Michigan's other representative at The Opening, Darrin Kirkland, stood out as one of the best defensive performers on Tuesday, garnering top ten honors from Scout's Allen Trieu...
Darrin Kirkland - Linebacker, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Kirkland, a Michigan commit, has worked hard on his ability to run and move in space and that was on display today as he was one of the top linebackers in coverage. He could run with backs and did a nice job playing the ball in the air, coming away with a couple of interceptions.
...and earning a mention as one of the top four linebackers in attendance from 247's Barton Simmons:
Michigan commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. doesn’t strike you as an overwhelming kid athletically but he is always in the right place, he doesn’t get shaken in space, he can get in the hip pocket of a tight end or running back and he can make a play downfield on the football.
For a prospect whose ability to stuff the run is supposed to be his biggest strength, Kirkland sure gets a lot of camp praise for his coverage. That came up a fair amount during last year's camp season, as well.
2015 Updates: Running Backs
Things are happening on the running back front, as both Damien Harris and the aforementioned Mike Weber will visit for this month's BBQ at the Big House. Harris, who's at The Opening, told 247's Luke Stampini that he's still searching for that feeling he had when he initially committed to Michigan ($):
“I still talk to Coach (Doug) Nussmeier and Coach (Brady) Hoke now and then. People think I lost all connections with Michigan because I decommitted. That wasn’t the case. I just wanted to step back and reevaluate my options.”
He’ll be looking for that spark he once had with Michigan the next time he’s in Ann Arbor.
“Just that feeling I got when I was there initially, the first couple times when I was committed,” Harris said. “That family feel I got with Coach Hoke and the staff. Just kind of reconnect with them.”
Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio State are the other schools that seem to have separated themselves from the pack. After landing commitments from Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard last week, the Buckeyes may very well have the edge, per Webb ($):
“I’d be lying if I said (the Hilliard and Cornell commitments) didn’t impact me a lot,” Harris stated. “Those are just two of my good friends that I’ve become friends with in this whole recruiting process. We all talked about playing together like you said, and now that they’ve committed it gives me more to think about… if I do still want to play with them, or if they (just) went to the school that I like. I just have to take all these things into my thought process and making my decision.”
Harris plans to cut his list to five just before his senior season, then take official visits to each of those schools. Michigan should make the cut, but I get the feeling Ohio State will be tough to overcome. Don't everybody sigh at once, now.
The good news is Michigan still seems to be trending up with Weber, and he's not the only other option should Harris end up elsewhere. Four-star FL RB Dexter Williams, who's "80-percent committed to [Miami]," told Scout's Gerard Martinez that Michigan is one of three other schools he plans to visit ($):
“I know I’m taking an official visit to USC and Michigan as well. I might also officially visit Notre Dame too if I can’t get out there this summer on my own.”
Another, potentially more realistic, option is three-star MO RB Alec Murphy, who recently named a top four of Iowa, Purdue, Mississippi State, and Michigan. Among that group, only the Wolverines haven't offered him, which leads me to believe they'd have a great shot to land him if they eventually extend one. The quote he gave to Scout's Derek Young about Michigan and his decision timeline makes it seem like he may even be waiting on U-M before making his choice ($):
Michigan: "They haven't offered me, yet. An offer could come at some point. They've had a lot of interest in me. I'm hoping they possibly offer because they are a great program."
A summer decision is not out of the question for Murphy.
"I'm thinking about making my decision over the summer," he pointed out. "I'm not real sure yet. If I find the right place before the season then I will make my commitment."
With Ty Isaac in the fold and likely redshirting, my guess is Michigan will wait on the higher-ranked backs before moving on to Murphy—they only need one back in the class, and Murphy seems like a prospect they could offer late in the process and earn a commitment even if he's pledged elsewhere.
2015 Updates: Everything Else
While also mentioning that he's trying to set up a visit for the BBQ, as well as confirming U-M will receive one of his official visits, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon told 247's Clint Brewster two schools are currently standing out to him ($):
Ranked as the 11th best player in Tennessee and the 17th best outside linebacker, McMillon mentioned some programs that have an edge at this point in the process.
“Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. Michigan and Alabama are pretty much on top I would say.”
Florida State, Ohio State, and USC are also in the mix, as McMillon said he plans to take official visits to those schools—he can visit the SEC schools among his top group without having to use officials. While that's stiff competition, Sam Webb posted a very positive outlook on Michigan's standing with McMillon on the GBW board ($). Michigan looks to be in very good shape here.
Another standout linebacker at The Opening, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, plans to cut his list to five before the season starts, per TomVH ($). In that same board post, Webb suggested Michigan could be on the outside looking in due to distance playing a bigger factor that Masina originally expected. Tyriq Thompson and Asmar Bilal are more realistic candidates to end up in the class, as Brandon suggested earlier today.
The pipe dream of landing five-star CA CB Iman Marshall seems to be exactly that; while Marshall previously mentioned a possible July visit in addition to a potential official visit, he told Webb and Bogenschutz at The Opening that nothing has been set yet ($):
One other visit Marshall has been toying with taking is to Ann Arbor to check out Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” Marshall said. “Like I said it’s really been a hectic couple of months and stuff like that so I want to sit down with my parents and discuss what our visit plans are going to be, our travel plans are going to be, so it correlates all together.”
Working in Michigan's favor, however, is the presence of Freddy Canteen, who's been recruiting Marshall since they worked out at the same gym recently. If Marshall is going to get to campus, though, it seems like an official visit is the best bet, and regardless of the visit situation he'll be an extremely tough pull from the West Coast.
Another potential Shaun Crawford replacement, DC CB Marcus Lewis, a current Florida commit, told GatorBait.net that—along with Miami and Oregon—Michigan is one of three schools that'll receive an official visit from him ($):
On Michigan: "They've been recruiting me really hard even though I'm committed. Coach (Kurt) Mallory, coach (Roy) Manning and the whole staff down there. I've heard it's a nice campus, and they're rebuilding. They got a good 2014 class in, so we're going to see what they can do in the Big Ten.
"Right now they look good. Coach (Brady) Hoke, we had a good conversation. I mean he basically said he needs corners. They've got corners on the way out and they need that next Reed to come in. They've got Garrett Taylor and another kid committed, so they need one more DB.
Lewis doesn't seem very strong in his Florida pledge; in the same article, he mentioned concern over the number of cornerbacks they've taken recently (four in the 2014 class, two in 2015). If that's a major factor, uh, nobody show him the depth chart, okay?
Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro named Michigan to his top six along with Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Tennessee, per Scout's Michael Clark ($). He's set to announce on August 29th, and Michigan looks to have serious momentum in their favor right now; if he picked today, they'd likely be the choice.
Four-star FL WR Auden Tate is another top prospect who's trying to set up a visit to the BBQ, and he's slated to take an official to Ann Arbor during the season, per 247's Luke Stampini ($). Tate described U-M as a "dream school" and his "favorite school" growing up, though Florida State, Florida, and Georgia are also serious contenders. With Miles Boykin off the board to Notre Dame, expect the coaches to make a serious push for Tate.
ESPN released their initial Junior 300 for the 2016 class. Messiah deWeaver came in at #115 overall (#11 pro-style QB), while Erik Swenson landed at #256 (#20 OT). ESPN's scouting report on Swenson is quite light on details, so it's quite possible he moves up after further looking into his game (assuming ESPN does so).
The #50 overall player on that list (and #41 in the 247 Composite), LA OT Willie Allen, told Tim Sullivan that Michigan will get a visit from him, though the timing could be a ways off ($):
"I know they're close to an Ivy League school academically, but I really don't know too much about them," [Allen] said of the Wolverines. "I plan on taking a visit up there, but financial-wise, it's when my family can really afford it. I'll have to talk to Coach Fred and see what we can do. It'll probably be next summer. If I can get the money this year, I'll definitely take a visit to Michigan. I plan on waiting it out until senior year, and then making my commitment to a school. But I'm open right now. Every offer that I have as of now is equal. I just want to wait it out."
If Allen makes his way to Ann Arbor, Michigan will be in on one of the most coveted prospects in the 2016 class; as always, however, a top-flight prospect from Louisiana should be presumed to go to LSU or Alabama until all signs say otherwise.
|Malzone. [photo: MI Prep Zone]|
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Alex Malzone – Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice)
Moving Forward: The Wolverines are all set at quarterback for the 2015 cycle.
Total Needs: 1-2
Top Candidates: Damien Harris – Berea (KY) Madison Southern, Mike Weber – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Honorable Mentions: Jacques Patrick – Orlando (FL) Timber Creek, Johnny Frasier – Princeton (NC) Princeton
Moving Forward: With the transfer addition of Ty Isaac the Wolverines will probably be satisfied with just one running back commitment in the class. If both Damien Harris and Mike Weber decide they’d like to be Wolverines, I’m sure the coaches would find a way to let it happen. That being said, neither of them are sure things and Michigan could end up landing neither. It appears that Weber has now become the top target while Harris may be leaning toward the Buckeyes. Either way, both have said that they will be in attendance for the BBQ at The Big House on July 27 which will be another huge recruiting event. Jacques Patrick and Johnny Frasier remain longshots at this point, but both are still being recruited by the staff.
Total Needs: 1-2
Top Candidates: Brian Cole – Saginaw (MI) Heritage
Honorable Mentions: George Campbell – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake, Auden Tate – Tampa (FL) Wharton
Moving Forward: This position group worries me more than any other on the board. The staff has offered 11 wide receiver prospects. Four of them are committed elsewhere and outside of Brian Cole, the rest don’t seem to be very likely options. Cole is probably going to be an in-state battle between the Wolverines and Spartans and the upcoming season of each school could prove huge in his recruitment. George Campbell was once a Michigan commit but that seems like ancient history at this point. He’s likely to remain somewhere in Florida. Fellow Florida-native Auden Tate holds Michigan in high regard, but pulling skill players out of Florida has always been a tough task. I haven’t had direct communication with Tate so gauging his interest level is difficult. If Tate visits for the BBQ that will be an obvious move in the right direction.
|Clark: Committed to Power Words.|
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Chris Clark – Avon (CT) Avon Old Farms)
Top Candidates: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Honorable Mentions: N/A
Moving Forward: The Wolverines could very well be done at the tight end position. Chris Clark was a somewhat unexpected pleasant surprise, at least timing-wise, and with him in the fold landing another tight end isn’t a must. Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is a legacy offer and told me that he was definitely offered by Michigan as a tight end. That being said, he’s a pretty solid defensive end as well so if he decides he’d like to follow his dad’s footsteps to Ann Arbor, the coaches could give him a look on defense if they felt they were set at tight end. If Wheatley Jr. decides to commit elsewhere, it’s likely that the Wolverines won’t look at another tight end.
Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Jon Runyan Jr. – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s, Grant Newsome – Trenton (NJ) The Lawrenceville School)
Top Candidates: Patrick Allen – Reistertown (MD) Franklin
Honorable Mentions: Drew Richmond – Memphis (TN) Memphis University School, Connor Williams – Coppell (TX) Coppell
Moving Forward: Solid recent recruiting classes have allowed the staff to build some much needed depth on the offensive line. The coaches have been able to secure verbal commitments from two offensive linemen in the 2015 class already and would take one more if he’s a big-time talent. The staff is currently content with Jon Runyan Jr. and Grant Newsome as the lone linemen commitments. Patrick Allen has a top four in order of Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia, and Michigan. I doubt Michigan can pass the other three, but by default he’s probably the most likely to become part of this class right now. Drew Richmond is one of the most coveted linemen in the country who has mentioned he’d like to see Michigan for himself, but with no plans to do so as of right now, he’s probably a pipe dream. Connor Williams compares to Richmond in terms of his Michigan interest and is also a longshot at best for the Wolverines.
Total Needs: 0
Moving Forward: Michigan does not appear to be taking a defensive tackle in this recruiting cycle. Solid recent recruiting at the position and a limited number of available scholarships in 2015 have allowed for this position to be a non-priority this time around. They’ve offered five prospects but two of them have committed elsewhere and the other three aren’t going to drop for the maize and blue.
Total Needs: 2
Top Candidates: Keisean Lucier-South – Orange (CA) Lutheran-Orange County, Darian Roseboro – Linconlton (NC) Lincolnton
Honorable Mentions: Kengera Daniel – Raleigh (NC) Millbrook, Jalen Bates –Kaplan (LA) Kaplan
Moving Forward: This position group has two of the more probable future Wolverines in it with Darian Roseboro and Keisean Lucier-South. Roseboro plans to attend the BBQ at the end of July and Lucier-South already has an official visit planned for the Penn State game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Roseboro pulled the trigger while at the BBQ. Lucier-South has tentative plans to commit on National Signing Day, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the environment during his official visit to Ann Arbor was enough to get him to commit. Kengera Daniel and Jalen Bates both also like Michigan quite a bit but are both a little lower down the board compared to Roseboro and Lucier-South.
Total Needs: 2
Commits: 1 (Darrin Kirkland Jr. – Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central)
Top Candidates: Asmar Bilal – Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis, Tyriq Thompson – Detroit (MI) Detroit Martin Luther King, Joshua McMillon – Memphis (TN) Whitehaven
Honorable Mentions: Osa Masina – Salt Lake City (UT) Brighton
Moving Forward: Linebacker is quickly becoming Michigan’s deepest positional group on defense and the 2015 class could continue to build upon that. Darrin Kirkland Jr. is already in the fold and the staff continues to recruit several prospects who are very high on Michigan. Tyriq Thompson is the son of former Wolverine, Clarence Thompson, so he seems to be a very real possibility. Asmar Bilal is believed to be favoring Notre Dame but Michigan is right there for his services. Perhaps the biggest surprise among this group is Tennessee native Joshua McMillon. At nearly 250 lbs. he is massive for a high school linebacker but he has the athleticism to handle it. Our own Ace recently predicted that McMillon will commit to Michigan on 247’s Crystal Ball, citing Sam Webb’s recent optimism regarding McMillon’s comments about the Wolverines. Plucking McMillon from SEC country with a slew of SEC offers would be a big time get for the Michigan coaching staff. At one point Michigan seemed to be in pretty good shape with Osa Masina but recent developments indicate he might be staying closer to home.
|Lewis is loosely tied to Florida at them moment. |
Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Tyree Kinnel – Dayton (OH) Wayne, Garrett Taylor – Richmond (VA) St. Christopher’s School)
Top Candidates: Mook Reynolds – Greensboro (NC) Northern Guilford, Marcus Lewis – Washington (DC) Gonzaga
Honorable Mentions: Iman Marshall – Long Beach (CA) Long Beach Poly, John Reid – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s
Moving Forward: With two very solid commitments already in the fold in the secondary, Michigan can afford to be picky with any additional targets. All four of the potential future members of the class are highly coveted and two of them are actually committed elsewhere right now. Mook Reynolds is currently committed to Virginia Tech but will check out Michigan for the BBQ, while Marcus Lewis is currently considered a Gator. Lewis also plans to check out Michigan in the near future, possibly for the BBQ as well. There isn’t a lot of news out there on John Reid and I haven’t had much contact with him but he’s still on the radar and Garrett Taylor told me that he’s been recruiting him. Iman Marshall’s father told me that they are quite interested in Michigan and hope to check out Ann Arbor if it can be worked out. He’s another highly touted prospect from California that seems to be genuinely interested in Michigan, but probably won’t leave the west coast.
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Andrew David – Massillon (OH) Washington)
Moving Forward: Michigan identified the need for a kicker, offered Andrew David, and he committed. There isn’t a need for any other special teamers in the 2015 cycle.
I’m going to predict that the 2015 class will be right around 16 members when it’s all said and done. As of right now there are only 4 remaining scholarships available but with inevitable attrition that number should go up to around 8 or so bringing the total to 16 for the class.
A LONG TIME AGO IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY THAT DOES NOT HAVE A WORLD CUP…
The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
- A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
- WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
- Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
THE CURRENT SITUATION
ROUND 15 - PICK 2: Dontre Wilson, SLOT/RB, Ohio State
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson, TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: So here we are in the 15th round, and since Brian took Braxton Miller with the top overall pick, only two Ohio State offensive players have gone off the board: Devin Smith and Taylor Decker. This makes some sense, as the Buckeyes lost some significant playmakers from last season, namely Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown.
This also makes little sense, as we're talking about an Urban Meyer offense with Braxton Miller at quarterback. Somebody's due for a huge breakout year, and that someone is sophomore Dontre Wilson, whose role is expanding from change-of-pace-back/guy-who-catches-screens/decoy (or "USE NORFLEET LIKE THIS PLZ") to "replace Philly Brown and be like Percy Harvin":
“He’s a starting H,” Meyer said Tuesday. “He took (wide receiver Corey) ‘Philly’ Brown’s spot, so he’s a full-time receiver. We did take him today and put him in some backfield action. We use that term, (Seattle Seahawks wide receiver) Percy Harvin, very loosely, because there’s only probably one of him. But we’d like (it if) that hybrid position is really a key guy if we can do that … by far, Dontre’s the No. 1 spot.
Wilson is still learning the finer points of the receiving aspect, which is fine, because even if he doesn't catch a ball past the line of scrimmage, he's ... what's the term ... insanely f***ing explosive:
With Brown gone, as well as Jordan Hall—who moonlighted at H-back when not starting at RB during Carlos Hyde's suspension—Wilson is in line for a huge expansion in his role, and the Buckeye consensus is he's the closest thing to Harvin they've had since Meyer took over. Given his freshman numbers, that means he'll be piling up the yardage; he rushed for 250 yards and a TD on 31 carries (8.1 ypc) and caught 22 passes—almost all screens—for 210 yards (9.6 ypc) and two TDs. He routinely exploded into the secondary despite almost never going past the line of scrimmage without the ball in his hands.
Wilson's threat to turn innocuous plays into game-breaking ones also opened up the field for the rest of the Buckeye offense:
“I always joked around with my teammates and said, ‘I’m the Decoy of the Year,’ ” Wilson said. “Every time I do a fake or something, we scored.”
Ohio State scored on two different plays in the Orange Bowl that first faked to Wilson, a 33-yard touchdown run by quarterback Braxton Miller and a 57-yard touchdown strike to tight end Jeff Heuerman.
Wilson’s speed is so drastic, so imposing, that it has a way of freezing opponents. One step, Wilson proved, is all it takes to beat a defense to the edge and coast to the end zone. So when he went in motion, Clemson noticed.
Wilson is a former top-100 recruit with track star speed and solid freshman production in a very good offense that perfectly suits him; now he's in line for a major uptick in touches. How is this guy on the board six rounds after Shane Wynn was picked, exactly? Have we all been drunk? I think we've all been drunk.
ROUND 15 - PICK 3: Louis Trinca-Pasat, DT, Iowa
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU) WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
BISB: Speaking of people who are being drafted way too far apart, let's look at Iowa's interior DL. Carl Davis went in the 2nd round, and had 42 tackles (11 solo) and 4 TFLs. Plus, 2.5 of those TFLs were against Michigan, which barely counts. Meanwhile, Iowa's other defensive tackle, Louis Trinca-Pasat, recorded 39 tackles (19 solo) and 9 TFLs. That wasn't a fluke, either; he had more tackles, solo tackles, and TFLs than Davis in 2012 as well. And he's still on the board in the 15th round.
LTP isn't high on the NFL draft boards because he's not a fantastic athlete (he's pretty uncomfortable-looking outside the tackle box) and doesn't have an NFL frame. He's 6'3" and 290 pounds unlike Davis's 6'5", 315. As such, he gets the usual Undersized White Defensive Tackle descriptors; he's a plugger, a lunch pail guy, a grinder, a gritty gritter who grits. I mean, he won the "Team Hustle Award" last year FFS. But he operates really well in close space, uses his hands well, maintains gap integrity, and doesn't get blown off the ball against double-teams. And he's productive. He can play the 3-tech, but his gritty grit style would allow him to line up over the nose and be an effective wrench in the gears of an offense, if not a thunderous backfield-wrecking disruptor.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Seth bets it all on Indiana.]
SETH: In response to Ace's query on our sobriety:
Probably because "He's the Starting H" in spring practice at Ohio State really means "there's a 62% chance this guy is going to be the Percy for us all season."
Guy is a vintage Rodriguezian slot receiver, but Urban demands far more than bubble screens, curls, and sweeps from that position, and has been quick to anoint a new Percy when one misses an all-important read or can't nail a jerk route. Philly Brown won the H role last year over several more athletic candidates because he had the savvy for it. I expect Urban would love Wilson to grow into the role, but the guy was a running back until March, and is 185 pounds. Upside here is huge; I waited because my expectation is 2009 Odoms.
Plus, are we going on expectation of 2014 stats, or what the guy would do in our offenses? Because while erasing an Buckeye slot-bug by sticking a cover corner on him is just asking to get Braxton Miller in your face, that [points at Connor Cook] cannot replace Braxton Miller.
ACE: Martavious Odoms in 2009: 22 catches, 272 yards, 1 receiving TD, 3 carries, 5 yards, 1 rushing TD. As a sophomore.
Dontre Wilson in 2013: 22 catches, 210 yards, 2 TDs, 31 carries, 250 yards, 1 TD. As a true freshman.
Seth, I can't even.
BRIAN: Also, Wilson did that despite being on the field only about 20% of the time. Seth is clearly drafting from an alternate universe here but even so it would be nice if his snark had any relationship to reality.
SETH: Wow that's almost half as many yards as Odoms had his freshman year in the Threetsheridammit offense. Don't even.
ROUND 15 - PICK 4: Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana
ROUND 16 - PICK 1: Tre Roberson, ditto
O: QBs Nate Sudfeld and Tre Roberson (IN), RB Venric Mark (NW), WR Devin Smith (OSU), WR Christian Jones (NW), T Jason Spriggs (IN), T Taylor Decker (OSU), C Brandon Vitable (NW), G Jack Allen (MSU).
D: DT Michael Bennett (OSU), WDE Randy Gregory (NE), MLB Taiwan Jones (MSU), WLB Steve Longa (RU), SS Corey Cooper (NE), FS Adrian Amos (PSU), CB Blake Countess (M)
Wait a minute, didn't Tre Roberson transfer?
EDITORIAL ASIDE: Yes, he did. Unfortunately for this draft he did so towards the end of our selection process. It was adjudged that this was actually not the worst thing in the world for Seth since a Sudfeld who was a clear starter goes earlier; he was provided a compensatory random offensive player choice at the end of the draft.
This of course makes large portions of the next section not accurate. That's life.
SETH: Backups you say? I say the Dynamic Duo. The Caped Crusaders. Sherlock and Watson. Walter and Jesse. Stringer and Avon. Lucy and Ethel. Dom Deluise and the little Jewish mouse: A duuuuuo!
Let's go to the 2013 stats among this year's Big Ten quarterbacks (sack-adjusted, 20 or more attempts). In yards per pass attempt, Tre Roberson was, ah, first, at 7.8 (139 attempts), and Nate Sudfeld, ah, second at 7.1 (338 attempts). Nobody else is close: Gardner and Caleb Rowe were at 6.9, and Miller, Hackenberg, Stave, and C.J. Brown were at 6.8. Gardner and Maryland's pair can be excused for all the sacks; Miller, well, there's a reason Urban had him throw to Philly Brown all the time. These are all efficient passers (unlike, oh, Connor Cook)--it's just that Roberson and Sudfeld were off the charts.
Sudfeld took about 62% of the Hoosiers' snaps, passing on 94% of those. Roberson passed 62% of the time; as things settled he became more of a changeup used to force teams to prepare for an option offense in addition to the aerial assault at ludicrous speed. His 5.6 YPA as a rusher is more Mitch Leidner than Gardner (6.3), C.J. Brown (6.8) or Miller (ridiculous 8.6). Roberson (7.0) and Sudfeld (6.9) still led everyone but Braxton Miller (7.4) in total yards per play, and it cost me only picks 58 and 59, not first overall.
Miller's rushing YPA is so high because defenses had to play OSU straight, while I think Roberson had the benefit/curse of everyone playing Indiana very bend-don't-break. But you know what? They broke. Roberson scored on a nation-leading 9% of his snaps; Braxton Miller was 8.5%, Garder 6.3%, and Sudfeld was at 6.1%. Connor Cook, despite starting more drives in his opponent's territory than anyone in the country, was 5.1%, putting him between Gary Nova and Danny Etling. Stop laughing, Brian: Hack was tied with Nova.
LUDICROUS SPEED: GO!!!
It was their offense you say? Well it doesn't cost a draft pick to take their offense, which put up 4.8 yards per play against OSU and MSU, had a short (60 plays is very few for them)/bad day against Wisconsin, and never dropped below 6 YPP otherwise. Except I've got all-stars who can carve out an excellent zone running game on the OL instead of the mostly-okay, mostly-pass-pro dudes Kevin Wilson got by with (the one star of that line is on my team), and fair enough replacements for Latimer and Hughes and...dammit BiSB give me back my Wynn!
This was always the plan. I specifically selected offensive linemen from the faster-paced zone offenses of the league, with the exception of MSU's (they run mostly zone but at a pace akin to Iowa's and Michigan's) Jack Allen because he's known for his exceptional smarts and quickness, and has been relieved of center duties. This is why I valued Vitabile so highly, and let you guys take all those Badgers: Vitabile has run a relatively hurry-up zone offense for four years. Plus I have a "backup" quarterback I can actually put on the field as an RB or slot receiver.
Also I realize I could have split up these picks, but think of all the onomatopoeia we'd have missed. Ah, the sacrifices we make for narrative.
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na...BATMAN (AND ROBIN)!
ROUND 16 - PICK 2: Tevin Coleman, RB, Indiana
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU), WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
ST: Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)
BISB: Thanks for setting me up on with the premise of the awesomeness of Indiana's offense. 'Cause I've got the two best pieces of it.
Tevin Coleman rushed for 958 yards on 131 carries in only 9 games. His 7.4 yards per carry were the second most of any returning player (After Melvin Gordon's 27 YPC or whatever he had). Jeremy Langford may be my every-down back, but Tevin Coleman is my Swiss Army Knife back. Much like Dontre Wilson, but with a season of actual production under his belt that doesn't need much extrapolation. Coleman is a home-run hitter; he had a run of double-digit yards in every game he played, and a run of at least 40 yards in six of his nine games. He also scored a touchdown in every single game. Plus he caught 19 passes at over 10 yards per catch.
The nice difference between Coleman and, say, Venric Mark, is that Coleman is 6'1" and 205 pounds, unlike Mark's five foot nothin', a hundred and nothin'. Coleman missed the last three games of the year with a sprained ankle, but he at least has the size to take more punishment, and occasionally dish some out. He's not a jitterbug-type back. He's a one-cut-and-go back who has a mastery of the subtle cut, and who regularly embarrasses tacklers who don't take the proper angle.
[Ace leaves vicinity of computer for period of greater than 30 minutes, causing much distress.]
ACE: I'll write this up when I'm not in the process of looking at places to move, but I'll take Earnest Thomas III, HSP and/or SS, Illinois.
SETH: Ace is joking, right? Is he joking? I feel like if he was joking he would say something like: "What do you get when you cross and elephant with a rhinoceros?."
More Indiana highlights include an elephino blowing a one-high coverage on Latimer's third TD, and an elephino running himself out of the play on another Coleman long TD run, and an elephino blitzing into a play his coach had dead to rights and getting swallowed by a releasing guard for another TD.
I guess when you've got a chance to draft a guy who helped hold Unstoppable Throw God Trevor Siemian to just 414 yards you have to do it. But I'm just a Dumars in a Dumars world so...
ROUND 16 - PICK 3: Earnest Thomas III, HSP/S, Illinois
FEEL THE ILLINOISE
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson, TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DE/DT Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: Yes, Seth, I'm serious. When critiquing this pick, as you've done by showing highlights of Thomas mostly playing out of position as a deep safety behind a god-awful defense, it's important to note how I actually plan to use the guy—we'll leave aside, for now, the fact that it's difficult to bring down Tevin Coleman when he runs untouched into the secondary, or that the biggest issue for Illinois against Indiana was that their corners couldn't stay in front of anyone. (Okay, I didn't really leave that aside.) Watch Thomas' 2012 highlights—with very useful all-22 views—and you'll see a player who's passable in coverage and really damn good at flowing to the ball and making an impact when he gets there:
When Illinois isn't misusing Thomas because of the complete dearth of talent and/or experience on defense—heading into 2013, Thomas was the only returning player from the top six players in the 2012 secondary*—they play him at the "STAR" position—a hybrid linebacker/safety spot, which is exactly how I'd like to use him on my defense. John Lowdermilk is fully capable of playing deep safety and my two linebackers are known for their coverage ability; I can afford to use a pick on a hybrid space player better suited to playing in the box than a deep half. I can use Thomas as a box safety against spread-to-run teams, an extra rusher off the edge (see the 3:40 mark above), or an extra defensive back playing crossing-route-crushing intermediate zones. He crushes screens, makes more than his fair share of tackles in space, and does so in a fashion that often produces a live ball—he forced three fumbles in each of the last two seasons.
So, no, Thomas isn't a dude who's going to blanket guys in coverage. His seven PBUs in 2013—which included two against a decent Cinci squad and one against Washington, lest BiSB's cherry-picked stat mislead you—show he's not totally overmatched in that regard, however, and that's enough for me to take a player who's going to make a major impact in the box, which, again, is where he's set to play both for Illinois and my defense.
*Safety Steve Hull also returned, but moved to wide receiver.
ROUND 16 - PICK 4: Jeff Heuerman, TE, OSU
ROUND 17 - PICK 1: Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Northwestern
O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), QB Christian Hackenberg (PSU), RB Melvin Gordon (WI), WR Stefon Diggs (MD), TE Jeff Heuerman (OSU), OT Rob Havenstein(WI), G Kyle Costigan(WI), G Dallas Lewallen(WI)
D: DE Frank Clark(M), DE Therien Cockran (MN), DT Darius Hamilton(RU), DT Carl Davis(IA), LB Desmond Morgan(M), LB James Ross(M), CB Trae Waynes (MSU), CB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Ibraheim Campbell
BRIAN: I know why we let a billion rounds go by after Ace took Maxxxx, who needs no last name. There is this tier of essentially equal TEs in the league that's more than sufficient to kit out our squads without a whole lot of dropoff--there are no Tony Gonzalezs here.
But I think perhaps that was a mistake, because now I am taking a tight end. Oh and also good reasons. OSU's Jeff Heuerman was the Bucks' third-leading receiver last year with 26 catches and a rather spectacular 17.9 YPC average. At 6'5" with a 36-inch vertical leap he is an extremely forgiving target, and his bench press leads the OSU roster. Given that three quarters of the starting OSU DL is already off the board, that says something.
Heuerman has the speed and size to threaten the deep seam, helped OSU to its ridiculous rushing numbers last year, and is poised to blow up as OSU replaces big chunks of its passing offense. The venerable Ross Fulton says Heuerman is OSU's "most consistent receiving option" going into 2014 and "should be a critical component" the passing offense. Heuerman's been singled out by the strength coach as his most dedicated guy and highly praised by the head guy for his blocking prowess. It seems like he's a definite NFL draft pick--CBS has him third amongst tight ends.
And I will grab this year's Brooks Bollinger Memorial Eighth Year senior: Ibraheim Campbell. The Northwestern safety has been an honorable mention All Big Ten pick the last two years by both coaches and media; the year before that he was a freshman All-American. Entering his fourth year as a starter, Campbell is a good bet to be on All Big Ten teams and get drafted.
While Northwestern's pass defense wasn't great--they tied with Michigan and Minnesota for fifth in the league at 6.9 YPA--their already-shaky corners were decimated by injury. By the time Ace FFFF'd them they were down to freshmen out there. Meanwhile Northwestern was middling at getting to the QB. Despite this, Northwestern was pretty good at preventing long stuff. They were third in the league at preventing passes of 20+ yards and tied for second at 30+despite being terrible at preventing passes of 10+; they also were much better at preventing long runs than 10 yard runs. Like Jordan Kovacs, Campbell has spent much of his career putting out almost all of the vast wildfire the rest of his defense hands him.
BRYAN: I'd like to thank Brian and Ace for allowing me to make the same critiques of your safety selections. This is much more convenient than mocking two mop-up men at separate times.
The stat everyone throws out with Campbell is that he has 262 career tackles, which sounds like a lot (though again, he accumulated them over nine seasons). But what they don't tell you is that his production has dipped every year; from 100 in '11 to 88 in '12 to 74 last year. Moreover, Northwestern's total passing yards allowed per game has increased over the same span (232 YPG in '11, 250 YPG in '12, and 256 YPG last year). Campbell is a fine player, but he isn't what you'd call "dynamic." He's only 5'11, so some of that isn't his fault, but he only had 1 INT and 4 PBUs in the entire Big Ten season last year. He's a guy who generally keeps stuff in front of him, holds big gains down, and stops the bleeding. Brian correctly refers to him as a fireman, which is all well and good, and it isn't surprising given Brian's memories of his Kovacs binky.
If Campbell is a fireman, Thomas is a black-and-white bucket brigade fireman from a Laurel and Hardy skit. He only had three PBUs in Big Ten play, and didn't have a pick all season. He was only "productive" in the sense that he was able to pull down several of the innumerable dudes running freely in his general area of the field. But then again, if you get the chance to lock down a piece of a pass defense that gave up 8.2 YPA and 25 TDs against 3 INTs, I suppose you've gotta pull the trigger.
Oh, and Brian, you're right about Heuerman in that clip. He should have a heck of a year, especially if he keeps wearing that Jake Stoneburner jersey. Though if we're going to start taking Urban Meyer's Gold Star Wall of Splendiforous Achievements at face value, we may as well go home because there's no point in drafting non-Buckeyes.
Also, I should say that with Thomas off the board, we now have representation from 13 of the 14 Big Ten teams. Who will be the first among us to Boiler Up? I mean, DeAngelo Yancey isn't terrible. Rob Henry played both quarterback and safety last year, so you'd have some flexibility. Akeem Hunt... uh... exists.
BRIAN: Duuuude like 90% of a safety's job is to be safe. They're NAMED "safeties." I mean. Safeeeee.
THE CURRENTLY CURRENT SITUATION
possible future employment?
The message boards have a good deal of speculation about Hoke's job security. At what point will Dave Brandon's job security come into question? A while back you outlined a number of failures during Brandon's tenure. To me, the fact that ticket sales are so slow, that even the students seem to have had enough of this BS, has to raise some eyebrows with people in power. Or is Brandon firmly entrenched as long as wants to be here?
As Brady said, "This is Michigan, fergodsakes." It's not feeling much like Michigan lately.
Class of '93
I don't think Brandon is particularly entrenched.
I've heard chatter that certain people in positions of power would be happy to see a change… a lot of chatter. But I've heard that chatter for over a year now, and predictions that Brandon would be replaced have come and gone. At this point I'm skeptical that the people are inclined to do much, or have the power to do so.
That said, Brandon's now in the same situation Rich Rodriguez (and big swathes of the department he replaced) was: his boss did not hire him, and his performance is in the range where replacing him wouldn't raise eyebrows. It's quite a trick to get the entire student body to hate you.
Gents of MGoBlog -
In these recent times of hardship for the football program, Dave Brandon has taken a lot of heat for his cardboard cutout marketing/branding efforts when it comes to the team and other University athletic programs. There seems to be a large and growing consensus of fans (at least on the MGoBoard) that point out every misstep they believe he makes - there have been quite a few dud ploys he and the AD have rolled out.
However, i'm curious to know if there are any decisions or moves he's made as AD that the MGoPolitburo or wider UofM community have received positively. Have any of the AD's ideas under his leadership had a direct positive impact on any or even one of the school's athletic programs? Whatever the case may be, who are some Athletic Directors who "get it" at their respective institution who you would like to see in charge at Michigan?
The main thing people point to in Brandon's favor is the pile of cash. I'm not that impressed, because you or I could have been appointed AD and sat there wibble-wobbling our lips and Michigan would have seen an enormous uptick in revenue. Brandon's first official day on the job was the UConn game when the luxury boxes opened. The Big Ten Network and the expiration of the Big Ten rights deal provided another large bump.
What revenue that is attributable to Brandon comes from piling a bunch of rights together and selling them in a pile to IMG and testing the outer limits of what people will pay for Michigan football tickets. That's good if you're running a public company and your stock options are about to vest, but there are indicators everywhere that the fanbase has finally been worn down. Brandon is chipping away at fan goodwill constantly, and I worry about the long term impact of the clear divide between big chunks of the fanbase (and all of the students) and Brandon.
Meanwhile, what do I care about the amount of money flowing into Michigan's pockets? It does me no good. It doesn't seem to do anyone any good. The Big Ten has been the nation's best money extraction device for some years now and they still end up hiring Tim Beckmann. Meanwhile, every athletic department in the Big Ten is trying to find ways to launder their piles of cash by plowing it into minor sports that hold the same interest for me no matter how well they're supported.
I do like the legends patches (if only they'd stop screwing with people's numbers), but the rest of the changes he's made to the Michigan gameday experience have been negative.
As for potential replacements, there are a couple of Michigan alums at prominent schools: Jeff Long is at Arkansas and Warde Manuel at UConn. Long got handed a poop sandwich when Bobby Petrino had his motorcycle sexytime accident, but recovered impressively by pirating Bret Bielema away from Wisconsin. Whatever your personal opinion of Bielema, that is a coup of a hire for a school like Arkansas. He was just named the chair of the CoFoPoff's selection committee, as well, so he's respected within the AD community.
Manuel hired Turner Gill at Buffalo, who briefly made Buffalo not the worst team in D-I, and then ended up hiring Kevin Ollie at UConn, though that was not much of a decision. Paul Pasqualoni was already in place when he was hired at UConn; he fired him and replaced him with ND DC Bob Diaco after taking a swing at MSU DC Pat Narduzzi. That may or may not work out but that process seems pretty sensible to me.
Importantly, both of these guys have experience in the job they'd have at Michigan.
Could you give odds/estimates on the likelihood of all six freshmen redshirting next year? At the end of the regular season we expected Doyle and probably Wilson to redshirt. Now they're both potentially heavy rotation players while two unheralded wing players signed up that may play key roles or may redshirt. Help us sort out the situation.
Doyle, Wilson, and Chatman are all going to play. I don't expect Hatch to. MAAR/Dawkins is where it gets interesting. Michigan has tried to redshirt guys who are young and need some polishing, but both MAAR and Dawkins are older than average freshmen. For MAAR that's just because he's older; for Dawkins it's because he took a prep year.
It would make sense for one to redshirt with Michigan looking at a small (one member?) 2015 class, but with the NBA attrition these days you might want to play both in an effort to see which guy can help you more down the stretch and prepare both to take over for LeVert and possibly Irvin. I'm guessing everyone plays.
There have been three high level recruits who have decommitted this recruiting season. My question relates to the bagman article mgoblog referred to a couple months back: is there a possibility that there are Michigan bagmen who disapprove Brady Hoke and have pulled their resources from high level recruits in an effort to more quickly dump Hoke? I realize there are many factors that play in, I just can't help but wonder after reading the bagman article.
No. While I imagine bagmen play into the recruitment of one of the guys who has decommitted, the situation there was more local guys getting involved with family members than anything Michigan did or did not do.
I don't know if Michigan actually has bagmen per se. It doesn't seem like their style, and it doesn't really seem like their style to remove support even if they do exist.
Occam's Razor suggests that the guys who have decommitted have done so because they saw last season's football team and are a little leery of signing on with a program that might be seeing a coaching change in the near future.
[After the JUMP: some soccer stuff.]
Reading your pieces regarding the World Cup run by the USMNT as well as following the O'Bannon trial stuff has left me with an interesting question. Do you think that significant change with the NCAA would lead to significant changes in sports like soccer?
College soccer in this country has a history of sending players to the USMNT (Dempsey, Zusi, Omar, etc) but it seems like MLS is now pushing more towards developing young players and getting them into a professional environment sooner (Yedlin, Luis Gil). Klinsmann has talked in the past about the benefits of a professional environment opposed to playing college soccer.
If changes came down the pipe regarding likeness rights or paying players, how would you foresee schools utilizing the new rules? Are they going to continue to focus on revenue sports or will the non-revenue stuff see the changes as well? What about if the power conferences break off to form their own division away from the NCAA? Just curious as to your thoughts of how NCAA changes would affect other non-major sports.
Des Moines, IA
College soccer has been flogged as a hindrance to the USMNT for far too long. Soccer's like reading: if you can't do it by 18 there ain't nothing a college can do to help you. The NCAA's practice and game restrictions are an increasingly small issue since a lot of top-flight prospects either skip college entirely or leave after a year or two.
They can do this now because there are people willing to pay them to play. NCAA structure is less of a problem than the fact that there were few (or no) alternatives. MLS is gradually changing this. They keep adding teams, and now there's a push towards having USL PRO affiliate reserve teams.
So, yeah, in a world where a small number of schools can go do something innovative without having to get it past Indiana State, there is the possibility of revamping a portion of college soccer to make more sense in the larger context. One way to do this is to ignore the NCAA altogether. BYU's team plays in the PDL, which is roughly the fourth tier of soccer in the country. They have to go to class and keep on track to graduate; they are otherwise completely free to do whatever they want to soccer their best soccer.
Zoom out a bit. Chicago's currently playing a kid named Harrison Shipp, who was a homegrown signing for them. (MLS now has a rule that kids you developed in your academy for at least a year can be signed without going through the draft.) He spent a year at ND before signing for MLS. There's a kid at Stanford everyone's hype about who the Sounders will scoop up in another year.
It would make sense to formalize these relations, to take a number of colleges who are open to the idea and make them extensions of these MLS teams' academies. The NCAA could allow this; if they don't the colleges can just go do it on their own, like BYU. This will help fix the current problem with college soccer: it's got the brands but it doesn't have the level of play to make it attractive. You might have something if Washington and Ohio State and Northwestern were local affiliates for MLS teams.
This is probably too weird to fit in the NCAA even in the upcoming autonomy era, but there's no reason every sport has to be sanctioned by Mark Emmert. Sometimes NCAA sports are just dumb. Don't get me started on baseball.
General Comment - I think a lot of the country got caught up in the World Cup and while we don't want MGoBlog to turn into MGoUSMNT, I think it would be welcomed to build a little on your recent coverage before fall.
With hindsight being 20-20, what decisions (with tactics or personnel) would you have made differently, building off of your game columns?
In hindsight? I would have replaced Davis with Donovan, Johannsson with Eddie Johnson, and Green with Mo Edu. Davis was nonentity in the Germany game, the US had no replacement for Altidore, and they had no defensive midfield backup once they decided that Beckerman and Jones were playing together.
If I had Klinsmann's roster, though, I don't think I would have done that much different other than roll with Beckerman against Belgium. Removing him turned out to be a major error that left Belgium pile and piles of space. I would have started Diskerud against Germany instead of Davis, with Mix at the tip of the diamond and Bradley/Jones as the "shuttlers" beside, but that hypothetical change wasn't likely to do much about the result.
There wasn't much else to do. Klinsmann was repeatedly, literally hamstrung with forced substitutions. The logical assumption after Johannsson went in for surgery as soon as the WC was over was that he was not available for selection, or at least that picking him would be a big gamble. Then you're down to Wondolowski as your one true striker. That's some bad luck.
I don't think most casual fans realize that we never got to see Bradley or Dempsey play their actual positions/roles in this tournament with Altidore's injury. How would the product on the field looked if those three players were in their natural spots/roles? Do you think it would have affected any outcomes?
Oh, I don't know, man. We saw how Germany's back line got stretched over and over again by Algeria's Islam Slimani. That kind of thing is definitely in Altidore's wheelhouse and would have given the US a pressure outlet, allowing them to have more of the game. And then we saw a major uptick in USA possession once Wondolowski came in, as Dempsey finally got to drop back into the midfield and combine with Bradley.
That's the part that really hurts. With Altidore up top there was a clear link pattern: defenders get it to Bradley—Bradley, Dempsey, and Altidore interchange. Cutting out Altidore and replacing him with either Zusi, Bedoya, or Davis was a huge downgrade.
I do think the US would have had more possession and found more balanced games. They may not have turned that extra possession into goals, but it's hard to judge Klinsmann for not delivering the pretty possession soccer he promised once an admittedly irreplaceable chunk of the team goes out.
On my very first scouting assignment for MGoBlog, I witnessed the future—and, of course, was totally oblivious to this fact. As Farmington Hills Harrison blew out eventual state champs Cass Tech with surprising ease to open the 2011 season, I watched from my press box perch at Eastern Michigan while Eric snapped pictures from the sideline.
Devin Funchess ambled out wide, as he'd done for much of the evening. He faced off against Jourdan Lewis, at that time the #2 corner on Cass Tech behind future Wolverine Terry Richardson, who drew the seemingly tougher assignment against the focal point of the Harrison offense, future Michigan State receiver Aaron Burbridge. Lewis was a relative unknown, holding a lone offer from Toledo. Eric took the photo that graces the top of this post.
It's an absurd picture. There's Funchess, looking like a coat rack in shoulder pads, assembling his limbs into something approximating a wide receiver's stance. He dwarfs Lewis, who's got the same deer-legged awkwardness while wearing a jersey top that appears at least two sizes too large.
You'd be excused if you thought neither of these guys would make an impact at Michigan, just based on this photo. Funchess was too gangly for a tight end prospect. Lewis, while bigger than Richardson, still fit the mold of pint-sized Cass Tech corner, which was already becoming a dubious distinction.
Once each player came out of their pigeon-toed stances, however, a bright future was apparent. Funchess ran with an effortless glide, and in limited opportunities to make an impact, he did so in a way that foreshadowed a future at Not Tight End:
Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass, and he finished with three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown by my count (I'm pretty sure the Detroit News recap omits his first catch). Unfortunately for those who missed the game, I was tweeting when Funchess recorded his touchdown catch, so you'll have to believe me when I say he ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
My ability to process this information—and maintain a healthy skepticism of high school weight listings—exposed my inexperience:
On a side note, for those of you who think that Michigan should try to convert Funchess into a wide receiver, I don't see that happening – he already weighs around 215 pounds, and looks like he could easily add another 20-30 before he gets to Ann Arbor.
Funchess came to Michigan listed at 225 pounds in 2012, and that was a lie. He played tight end for the next season-and-a-half. He did so even though no Michigan coach in the history of Michigan coaches would've played him there if given a choice; still paper-thin and lacking refined technique, his blocking was bad enough that he called himself a "pretty boy" heading into his sophomore season.
By that time, though, he'd already shown what he'd become over the second half of his sophomore season. After Michigan's 2012 blowout of Illinois, Brian described the play that inspired the creation of one of the first two MGoGIFs to exist—before I even knew how to watermark them—as such:
My God, It's Made Of Funchess note of the week. From my vantage point in the stadium, I thought the play-action rollout that eventually turned into the Funchess touchdown had been defeated by coverage. I thought that Denard saw this too and was chunking the ball out of the endzone, which I was pleased with—WOO NO INTERCEPTION—as I saw the ball soar into the stands… at least the dance team… well past Devin Funchess's outstretched… oh.
Wow. Is that legal? Should I clap now? Is touchdown? Is touchdown. Clap. Smile.
We clapped. We smiled. We started listing Funchess as a "FLEX" before giving in entirely to the proper designation: Wide Receiver Devin Funchess. Now he's Top Returning Receiver In The Big Ten Devin Funchess. He runs fly routes past cornerbacks and over the top of safety help. Single cover him and the cornerback might as well not exist. Attempts to tackle him at the knees are not recommended.
Michigan has their tight end of the future, but it's not Funchess, it's Jake Butt. More tight end help is on the way. Meanwhile, the tight end of future past is now the next great Michigan wideout of the present, not to mention a potential first-round NFL draft pick. We saw this coming, but we didn't see this coming.
As for the high school junior who faced off against Funchess on that August evening in 2011, Jourdan Lewis picked up his coveted Michigan offer the following February, and a scant couple weeks later committed along with Cass Tech teammate David Dawson during that unforgettable eight-commit weekend. He's set to challenge for a starting cornerback spot in a loaded secondary this fall after showing flashes of serious potential as a freshman last season. On that loaded Cass Tech defense, which featured current U-M LB Royce Jenkins-Stone in addition to Richardson, he looked the best of them all:
Lewis, Cass Tech's other corner/wideout/returner, was their best player on the field on Saturday, in my opinion. The junior is listed by Rivals at 5'11", 170, and his size allows him to be much more physical – he had a couple big hits on both receivers and ballcarriers and was generally solid in his tackling, and he certainly wasn't afraid to step up and hit somebody. Lewis is not quite as fast or quick as Richardson, but he still has very good speed and agility and was able to show that off in all three phases of the game. Lewis had the best play of the night for Cass Tech's defense, coming up with a diving interception on their own goal line. He already has an offer from Toledo, and I expect he'll get offers from much more prominent programs – including Michigan – in the near future. He has the look of a BCS-level athlete and I like his potential as a bigger cornerback who can make plays against the pass or the run.
"Bigger cornerback," in this case, was relative to Richardson. That's my story, at least, and I'm sticking to it.
Lewis showed off that physicality this spring, when he looked like the cornerback best suited to Michigan's new emphasis on press coverage. Once again, he lined up often against Funchess. Once again, he more than held his own.
Funchess is already a star. Lewis looks like he's on his way. I wish I could say I knew this would happen, but there's Eric's picture, resplendent in its awkwardness, reminding me that potential is a hell of a thing to project.