rundown of Michigan's riser
Michigan kicks off it’s 2012 season on Sunday. So, I figured it was worth a short post to explain the basic rules and set up of a lacrosse field. If you grew up playing the game or around the game, this post will seem boring and really rudimentary, but hopefully you’ll find some of the later posts more interesting and helpful. If you’re new to the game and want to have a sense of what’s going on this spring, then my hope is that you find this really helpful.
Note: everything below is for the men’s game. If people have questions about the basics of the women’s game I’d be more than happy to address those as well, but since the men’s team goes varsity in 2012 I figured I would start with men’s basics.
Here is a link to what a field looks like and its dimensions. The field is roughly the same size as a football field and just slightly smaller than a college soccer field (110 yards by 60 yards). In terms of rules and what to think about when you’re looking at the field, the easiest correlation is to a hockey rink. View the midline in lacrosse as the red line in hockey, and the two restraining lines as the two blue lines. You have an offensive and defensive half of the field on either side of the midline, but in actuality your offensive and defensive zone go from the restraining line (hockey blue line) to the endline.
Like ice hockey, you can also take the ball and play offense/defense behind the goal. There is a lot more room behind cage in lacrosse, so you’ll see a lot of offenses set up their plays and formations from behind the cage.
Each goal is surrounded by a crease. The goal is 6 ft x 6 ft, and the crease has a diameter of 18 feet. The defense is allowed to pass through their goalie’s crease, but offensive players are not allowed to step into the crease during play. If an offensive player does step in the crease, it’s an automatic change in possession. Their sticks and arms, however, can break the airspace of the crease. Sometimes you will see an offensive player steps into the crease and no call is made. This means the referees determined 1 of 2 things occurred on the play: either a) the offensive player was pushed into the crease by a defensive player, therefore it was not his fault he stepped in or 2) there was a goal on the play and the player stepped in the crease after the ball crossed the goal line. Since the play was over once the ball crossed the line, the offensive player could enter the crease.
Basics: Each team has 10 players on the field at any given time: 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, 3 midfielders, and 3 attack. You can normally tell which player is which based on what stick they have.
- Goalies (in addition to normally being around, you know, the goal) have a stick with the biggest pocket (net). It’s around the size of the net that you’d see a pool cleaner use or that you would use fishing
- Defense are also called “long poles” (easy on the jokes, people, lacrosse provides plenty of “that’s what she said” moments) because they have the biggest sticks on the field (settle down). Their stick is just under 6 feet long (ok, have at it)
- Midfielders and Attack have the short sticks. If you’ve noticed the neighborhood youths in front of your coffee shop have traded in their hacky sacks for lacrosse sticks, they are normally middie/attack sticks.
Now that you know who’s on the field, let’s talk about who goes where. On defense, you must have at least 4 players on your defensive half of the field (behind the midline) at all times. Normally, these are your 3 defensemen and your goalie. On offense, you must always have 3 players on your offensive half of the field (again, behind the midline). You normally have your 3 attack stay on the offensive side of the field at all times. That leaves the 3 midfielders who, like in soccer, run the entire length of the field and play both offense and defense. If you are ever caught with the wrong number of players on either half the field, it’s a penalty—if you have the ball you lose possession, if the other team has the ball you will be called for a 30 second penalty (more on those later).
This means that while the game is technically 10v10, the majority of time is often actually played 6 v 6: the offensive team’s 3 attack and 3 middies (since their team’s 3 defense and goalie are behind the midline) vs. the defensive team’s 3 defensemen and 3 middies (since their team’s 3 attack are behind the midline).
One other thing you’ll notice is that teams talk about their “LSM,” which is an abbreviation for “Long Stick Middie.” Each team is allowed a maximum of four long poles on the field at any given time. So, when a team is on defense they will try to sub out one of their midfielders for an extra defender. This brings us to:
Substitutions in lacrosse are also very similar to ice hockey. You’ll see a lot of teams will do most of their substitutions “on the fly” or during the flow of the game. So, while your offense is passing the ball around, you may bring in a new group of midfielders onto the field. The second one player is off the field, you can bring another one on to ensure no one ever has more than 10 players on the field at a time. Many teams will try to get a group of 3 defensive middies on the field (an LSM and 2 midfielders who specialize in defense), and then will sub them out for 3 offensive middies (players who specialize in offense. Wait, sorry, that was probably pretty obvious).
The other situation for substitutions is called a “horn.” If the ball goes out of bounds along the sideline only, either coach is allowed to ask for a horn, which stops play and allows both teams to make as many substitutions as they need. On a horn, you could theoretically sub out all 10 players without risk because the ref will not re-start play until both teams are done substituting.
Finally, after a goal, time out or a penalty that results in a man-up or man-down situation, both teams are also allowed to make as many substitutions as they need and referees will stop play until both teams complete their subs.
At the start of each quarter and after every goal, there is a faceoff. During a faceoff, only the three midfielders from each team are allowed to run in between the restraining lines.
This is also why having a good faceoff guy is so important. If you consistently win the faceoff, lacrosse almost becomes “make it-take it.” You never have to let the other team touch the ball. Or, if you give up a goal, a good faceoff guy gets you possession so your offense can get you back into the game and your defense take a breather.
When the Ball Goes Out of Bounds
This is where lacrosse confuses most people. If the ball goes out of bounds on a pass, it’s just like any sport—whoever touched the ball last loses possession of the ball.
On a shot, however, whichever team is closest to the ball when it goes out of bounds gains possession of the ball. As a result, most teams will keep one offensive player behind the net at all times. While it gives them one less shooter for the defense to account for, it means that they always have a player right on the goal line to keep possession after every shot.
Finally, penalties are very similar between ice hockey and lacrosse. Even the penalties you’ll hear called are very similar: offsides, slashing, push(check) from behind, tripping, illegal body check, etc. Rather than go through every single penalty individually, here’s the basic rule of thumb: you can do whatever you want to an opponent as long as it isn’t to their head, from behind, or below the waist. Other than that, most things are fair game.
In the event of a penalty, one of two things will happen. If neither team has possession of the ball when the penalty occurs, it’s considered a “loose ball” and the ref will stop play almost immediately. Some refs will allow for a “play on” if the victimized team has an advantage in play like in soccer, but that is not very common. If you commit a loose ball penalty, the other team is given possession of the ball (there is not stoppage in play for substitutions in the event of a loose ball penalty).
If a penalty does occur when a team has possession, the refs will throw the same flag that you see in a football game, but like in ice hockey they will let play continue until the next whistle. Like ice hockey, after the whistle blows the player who committed the penalty sits in the penalty box and the team plays one player short for either 30 seconds (for technical fouls like push from behind or offsides) or 60 seconds (for personal fouls like slashing or illegal body check). These situations are also called “EMO” or “extra man opportunities.” The offense gets to then play against a defense 6v5 rather than 6v6 until the penalty ends. With almost all penalties, if the team playing man-down gives up a goal then the penalty automatically ends and the player is again allowed back onto the field.
If you have any other questions about basic rules, please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer (or any of the other readers who have as much experience, if not more so, than me with the game). My next post is going to be about the basics of offensive and defensive strategies and what Michigan will most likely run based on their the coaching staff’s past. As always, also let me know if there’s anything specifically you’d like me to cover.
Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes made his first-ever trip to Ann Arbor yesterday for an unofficial visit to his childhood favorite, Michigan. Dukes told me earlier this week that he was "ecstatic" upon receiving his Wolverine offer and "[has] my mind set on where I want to go," but he's heeding the advice of his coaches and parents and making sure to check out not only Michigan, but other schools as well before me makes a commitment. I spoke with Jaron last night when he returned from his visit, and needless to say he enjoyed the trip:
ACE: How'd you enjoy the visit?
JARON: Oh, I loved it. It was the best.
ACE: Do you want to expand on that? Take me through what you saw in Ann Arbor.
JARON: I'll tell you what I saw. I saw a love for Michigan. Everybody I talked to loves the university, loves everything about it. They were a family, you could tell there was a bond everywhere you went, you could just feel it. It was just a great place to be. They took me through the facilities, they showed me the field, academic center, athletic center, I talked to the dean, everything—it was just great.
ACE: Who hosted you on the visit and what coaches were you talking to?
JARON: It was myself, Coach Heck, Coach Montgomery, and another coach, I think he was the linebackers coach.
ACE: What was your impression of the coaching staff?
JARON: (laughs) We were just over there having a good time, laughing and talking, making sure Michigan will be a place that I will be happy at. It was just having a great time getting to know the school and everything, not putting pressure on me, just letting me enjoy seeing the campus and everything for right now.
ACE: What would you say was the high point of the visit? Can you pick out a particular thing that stood out to you?
JARON: Easily. Easily I can say the highest point was me starting from the very top of the tunnel, running down the tunnel, jumping, and just walking out onto the field. I went from the 'M' in the center of the field, to end zone, to end zone, and back to the center, and a tear came down my face.
ACE: Is Michigan a place you could see yourself playing?
JARON: Oh, yes sir.
ACE: I know you didn't want to make a snap decision, a commitment on the visit, but what is it going to take it terms of knowing when you'd like to make a decision? Also, what's it going to take for another school to be able to match what Michigan offers?
JARON: I don't think, well, I don't know. I guess they have to show, they'd have to impress my parents. If my parents are happy, then I'm going to be happy, but as long as I feel I'm safe there, then it'll be OK.
ACE: What did your parents think of the trip?
JARON: My parents really liked it, they loved it. They just want me—and they should—they want me to go around and make sure that I've got everything else out of the way that I want to see. They want me to go around and see what other colleges have to offer. Show me that there's more than just one school out there.
ACE: Do you know what other schools you want to see at this point?
JARON: Yes. I would like to take a trip to Cincinnati, Michigan State, I'd like to go up to West Virginia, maybe Illinois.
ACE: Do you know when you'd want to take those visits and when you'd want to be done with your recruitment, or is that still to be decided?
JARON: That still has to be decided with my parents, and me and my coaches would have to go over it.
I spent the afternoon reading about the careers of Ohio's staff, on the theory that coaching college football is a group endeavor, so Meyer is only as good as they are. This isn't a study of their tendencies or preferences as coaches, just a simple look at their résumés. I also wanted to compare Meyer's staff to Michigan's in terms of how it came to be -- unlike Hoke, Meyer has an extensive coaching tree to draw upon. Did he do so?
Let's begin with Hoke's staff at Michigan. Five coaches came with him from SDSU (Borges, Ferrigno, Hecklinski, Funk, Smith), three of whom have been with him since Ball State. Mattison and Jackson have relationships with him from his time at Michigan. So that's seven of the nine hires with previous experience working with Hoke. Of the remaining two, Mallory is a Bo/Mo Michigan alumni who coached at Ball State (Hoke's alma mater) while Hoke was at Michigan, so I'm going to guess they were not strangers prior to 2011. So that just leaves Montgomery, the youngest and least-experienced member of the staff, as a total newcomer to Hoke's world.
The same cannot be said of Urban Meyer's new staff. There are two carryovers from Florida, one of whom was already in Columbus. The other was a graduate/quality-control assistant at Florida and has never been an actual coach under Meyer, with precious little experience beyond that. None of the rest has any history with Meyer, except for one year in 1986 (more on that later).
Another thing worth pointing out is there are four coordinators, two for defense and two for offense. Maybe this is a way to justify higher salaries, but if not it seems like a recipe for confusion. In both cases, you have a full "coordinator" and then a "co-coordinator." On offense the duties are apparently split between the passing game and the running game. Meyer has brought in two coaches with recent success as offensive coordinators to fill these two positions. On defense, I'm not sure what the split means.
Anyhow, here's the rundown on offense (with links to their official bios):
- Tom Herman. Coordinator/Quarterbacks. 11 years experience. Hired because of Iowa State 2011 and Rice 2008. No history with Meyer.
- Ed Warinner. Co-coordinator/Line. 29 years experience. Hired because of Kansas 2007 (the year they were 12-1). No history with Meyer.
- Tim Hinton. Tight ends/Fullbacks. 31 years experience. Knows Meyer from 1986 Ohio staff (both were graduate assistants) under Earle Bruce. No history with Meyer since then. Has link to Dantonio at Cincinnati.
- Stan Drayton. Running backs. 20 years experience. Running backs coach at Florida (2005-2007, 2010). Drayton was already at Ohio (wide receivers) in 2011.
- Zach Smith. Receivers. 3 years experience. Spent five years as a graduate assistant and quality-control dude at Florida under Meyer. Did a lot of work with the special teams at Florida, so may also have that role here. [Note: He is Earle Bruce's grandson. h/t to elaydin in the comments.]
- Luke Fickell. Coordinator/Linebackers. 14 years experience. No history with Meyer.
- Everett Withers. Co-coordinator/Safeties. Also Assistant head coach. 24 years experience. Comes to Ohio after four years at North Carolina. No history with Meyer.
- Bill Sheridan. Cornerbacks? 31 years experience. Hired later, when Taver Johnson (Cornerbacks) left to follow Paul Haynes to Arkansas. Sheridan has Michigan ties, a graduate assistant 1985-86, linebackers coach 2002, and defensive line coach 2003-2004. He is also Nick Sheridan's father. Knows Warriner from six years together at Army (linebackers and defensive line). His only experience in the secondary seems to be 2001 at Notre Dame, where he coached safeties and special teams. No history with Meyer.
- Mike Vrabel. Line. 1 year experience. 14 years as an NFL player. No history with Meyer. [Note: Vrabel had the linebackers in 2011. Now he moves to the defensive line, replacing Jim Heacock, the defensive line coach since 1996 (also coordinator since 2005). For those keeping score at home, that's fifteen years of continuity up in smoke. h/t to BlueDragon in the comments.]
A few thoughts. One is that it could take a while for this group of coaches to gel. There are not a lot of existing relationships here. There could even be some turnover as things shake out over the next few years. Second, I guess Meyer is in control, so maybe it doesn't matter who his coordinators are, or how many there are. Nonetheless, he seems to have emphasized hiring coaches with significant experience as coordinators, which could cause friction. Third, for what it's worth, there is a stark difference between this situation and Michigan's last year. One of the principal reasons Michigan's 2011 season went so smoothly was because the new staff was able to work together immediately and without rancor. The players pick up on this.
Fourth, you have to wonder about the offense -- you've got three coaches with past ties to Meyer working under the two new offensive co-coordinators, neither of whom has ever worked with Meyer. Here's Meyer on Zach Smith: "He knows my system inside and out and he teaches the system the way I want it to be taught." How will Herman and Warriner, both of whom have had significant success coordinating their own offenses, function in the face of that? It's not quite the same situation, but I can't help thinking of Scott Shafer's year at Michigan.
On defense, it's clear Meyer tried to keep most of the existing staff together, but the loss of Taver Johnson undercuts that plan (especially with regard to Cleveland-area recruiting, or so I hear, not that it matters -- Ohio is Ohio). Now he's just got Fickell and Vrabel from the old staff, both alumni whose only real coaching experience is in Columbus -- what will the dynamic be like between these two hothouse flowers and the other two defensive coaches, both veteran teachers with many stops on their résumés?
Finally, I have to bring up the fact Meyer hired Tim Hinton. Both men were graduate assistants under Earle Bruce at Ohio in 1986. Bruce was fired the next year, before the end of the season in 1987. You have to wonder about that. Do they share some sort of long-simmering sense of injustice? If so, what sort of effect could that have if everything doesn't go perfectly?
|Michigan Hockey: Michigan State Preview|
|2/10/12 Michigan (17-9-4) at Michigan State (15-11-4) 7:35pm (BTN)|
|2/11/12 Michigan State at Michigan 7:35pm (Fox Sports Detroit)|
The first game will be played at Munn, the second will be played at Joe Louis Arena.
Pretty much the same things can be said about the forwards since the last time we saw them. Looking at the +/- you can tell who is playing with who, outside of Reimer and Wolfe there isn't much defense from this group.
The one major change is the added production from freshman Kevin Walrod and Matt Berry, this gives MSU options behind struggling upperclassmen Dean Chelios and Daultan Leville that they did not have before. The key matchup will be how Red uses the forecheck, with some younger guys on the ice and some less talented players on the lower lines it could make for a long game for the Spartans.
Unlike the forwards, nothing has changed here. The top line of Krug and Shelgren reigns supreme and everyone else just tries not to blow it until they can get back out.
The cupboard Comley left them could not have been emptier. Chelios is listed at both forward and defense, Crandell can score but his defense is awful, Grassi and Sturges and reserves and Buttery is completely useless.
Key matchup will be our 2nd and 3rd lines against the Spartans lower pairs. The bottom line is this group is not very good, so it's going to take many Wolverine mistakes to be shut down by the Spartans. I expect a good game from Phil Di Giuseppe and I think tonight is the night Lindsay Sparks breaks his almost 3 month scoring drought.
The one area MSU has significantly improved in. Coming into the last series I thought Yanakeff would start to push for the starting spot, and with Palmisano struggling he has done just that.
The key matchup here is very similar to what we usually say, just put it on net. With a terrible defense in front of him we just need to get it to the goal, the opportunities will be there we just need to take advantage of it.
|Phil Di Giuseppe||8-9-17||76||+11||12||17|
While the scoring has always been there for us this season something is different here, the swag is back. It made a few appearances this year and last year, but for the most part it was make 4 passes and turn it over, or try to pull the string on three guys in a row and lose the puck. The Wolverine finesse has made it's return.
*Suspended for unlicensed castration of Will Weber.
I wish I had the time to pull stats from every game this season because I would love to see how much of a difference has actually been made. This is the same group who spent the first half of the year getting owned by teams like Northeastern and Alaska, but what changed? The easy answer is Jon Merrill but that's not all of it, to be honest I have no idea what happened. The teams on ice awareness was non-existent the first half, adding Jon Merrill didn't make Greg Pateryn realize someone was skating in behind him.
The one thing I don't like is the annual “will he go pro or not” period. I think we are getting to the point where Lee Moffie is going to take a hard look at joining the San Jose sharks because his game is getting to that point.
I can't talk enough about how great Hunwick has been for us, but everyone else can because the media is pouring out Hunwick articles. His numbers are ridiculous and he should be receiving a national award at seasons end, and hopefully an NHL team will take a chance on him in the late rounds.
The loss of Brown hurts but Michigan is still a much better team then state. The variable that I expect to decide the game is who keeps their heads on straighter, the Spartans are young and they're going to be pumped up for this game. The second game is almost a home game for us, so I don't see any issues there. I haven't missed one since the GLI so I am confident that we can sweep them.
Southfield (MI) High School WR Brandon Bean has yet to pull in any Division I offers, but he's been in contact with both in-state powers and several other schools as his recruitment begins to gain steam. The 6'2", 200-pound junior is a Michigan legacy; his father, Vince, played receiver under Bo Schembecher, amassing over 1,500 yards from 1981-84, and Brandon wears the same #25 for Southfield that Vince sported as a Wolverine. The younger Bean has already visited Michigan unofficially for the Nebraska and Ohio State games, and he also took in Michigan State's last-second win over Wisconsin. I had the opportunity to talk to Brandon earlier this week, and he brought me up to date on his recruitment:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which teams are going after you the hardest right now?
BRANDON: The recruiting is going pretty well right now. I'm getting a lot of mail from a lot of different schools in a lot of different conferences. Mostly, I've been a lot from Big Ten schools like Michigan and Michigan State—I've been to some of their games, and a couple of Michigan games. I get a lot of mail every day from a lot of people and I keep in touch with a lot of coaches through Facebook, some coaches come to the school. I meet a lot of people and I also keep in touch with some coaches, too.
ACE: Specifically regarding Michigan, who are you in touch with from the school and what's your general impression of Michigan as a school and a program?
BRANDON: I've always loved Michigan, even as a little kid. I've always been familiar with their program and I've been familiar with their facilities as well. I've been talking to a lot of their coaches as well, I've been talking to their receivers coach [Jeff Hecklinski], and I met a lot of coaches this year at games when they invited me down. I got the chance to talk to the offensive coordinator, Al Borges, he came to the school to talk with me, and the receiver coach and the recruiting coach ... I mostly remember talking to Coach Borges when he came to the school.
ACE: What did Coach Borges have to tell you about recruiting you and your possible role as a part of the offense?
BRANDON: He was telling me a lot of good things. He told me he liked my size, he liked my aggressiveness as a receiver going to get the ball, and he started telling me about the future of the program and he thinks I fit in well. That made me feel really special and really good, and it definitely pushed me as being recruited by the school because I got a chance to talk to him, he made me feel like I could be a part of the program. He likes to talk about some of the other recruits and how I fit in well.
ACE: Coming from Southfield, did you grow up as a particular fan of Michigan or Michigan State?
BRANDON: You know, I've always been a fan of Michigan, but I've also been a fan of Michigan State too. My dad played under Bo Schembechler, so I've always grown up watching Michigan play and I've always been dreaming of continuing the legacy of being a Wolverine. I've always had a passion for the Maize and Blue.
ACE: I was going to ask, with your dad playing for Coach Schembechler, does that affect your recruitment at all in terms of where you'd consider going?
BRANDON: As of right now, I'm interested in a lot of schools, a lot of them are saying good things to me, but that definitely helps. I've always said since I was a little kid that I wanted to play in the Big House and everything, so my dad playing there definitely helps me, but I haven't made up my mind about anything.
ACE: Going back to your junior season, how'd everything go for you during the season and what kind of numbers did you put up?
BRANDON: I don't really remember the numbers any more off the top of my head. I have a highlight tape I can send you [see above]—I was all-league, All-OAA. The season went pretty well for me. We had two other D-I recruits that went to different schools, so I had to share the ball with them but overall it was a pretty good season for me. I was happy and I'm definitely excited for my senior year to do bigger and better things.
ACE: Coming from a school where you guys have had some Division I prospects recently, have you been keeping in contact with prospects—I know Ron Thompson was coming out of Southfield—do you talk to those guys at all about what it's like to go through the whole recruiting process?
BRANDON: All the time. Ron [Thompson], Leviticus [Payne], Brandon Watkins, I talk to them a lot. They always give me pointers about what to listen and what to watch for, stuff like that, especially in 7-on-7, can really help me out. Ron, being recruited by Syracuse, being in touch with Coach [Tyrone] Wheatley, I keep in touch with him a lot. I met him through Ron and Coach Wheatley talks to me a lot, we email and I sent him my highlight tape, so he asks for stuff like that. I talk to Coach [Steve] Stripling from Cincinnati. I've actually talked to some great coaches at schools where [my teammates] have already committed to, and also they put me on the map through 7-on-7 and getting in touch with other people that can help me in my recruiting process, too. They always give me pointers and tips and I always listen to them.
ACE: Looking ahead to the summer, do you have any idea in terms of junior days or camps or schools visits that you'd like to go on?
BRANDON: I'm planning on participating in a 7-on-7 team for Maximum Exposure, we're doing a lot traveling—we go to Dallas, we go to Canada, we do a lot of traveling there. We also do some camps locally like Sound Mind Sound Body that I've been participating in, and I'll be doing some other visits to schools when I can get down to junior days, stuff like that, so I can showcase my skills, so I'll definitely be participating in a lot of camps.
ACE: When it comes down to wrapping up your recruitment and making a decision, what are going to be the main factors that you're looking for when you're trying to pick a school?
BRANDON: Before I make a decision I'll just have to take into consideration my future, my major, and that's very important to me. Going to school to play football is definitely a main factor for me, but school is important to me and I always put school first. The other thing is family, I always have to take into consideration what my family thinks and where I'll be happy.
ACE: Any specific timeline for when you'd want to get your recruitment wrapped up, or is that still to be seen?
BRANDON: I don't know. Right now I'm playing basketball. Basketball is going really well for me so I've been doing a lot of stuff, so I don't know when I'll be able to wrap that up, but right now I'm very busy with school and basketball. Then I'm doing track to improve my skills some more, then I'm doing 7-on-7, so I'll definitely be coming across more people, especially through 7-on-7, so I'm not really sure when I'm going to wrap that up.
ACE: To go away from football for a second, what's one thing that you want people to know about you that happens away from the field?
BRANDON: I've always had a great work ethic. I'm a hard worker on and off the field. You can see it through my grades that I'm a hard worker. I'm a Christian. I represent my family, my school, my community, I'm a person who cares about what other people have to think, too. I'm a hard worker and I want people to remember me by that, not just what I did but what I can do.
Tampa (FL) Wharton CB Vernon Hargreaves III is one of the top prospects at any position in the class of 2013, earning five-star status from Rivals (#10 overall), 24/7 (#7), and ESPN along with an early four-star rating from Scout. The Wolverines recently joined Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami (YTM), Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, South Florida, USC, Vanderbilt, and Virginia in extending the 5'11", 180-pound junior an offer. You can see sophomore highlights of Hargreaves above, and read through my recent conversation with the blue-chip prospect below:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which schools are going after you the most right now?
VERNON: It's going good, it's exciting. I got four offers today, which was really exciting, I wasn't expecting them. I'd have to say Florida and USF are recruiting me the hardest.
ACE: Coming from Florida, is there a strong pull from those in-state schools, especially with having your father [USF assistant Vernon Hargreaves Jr.] on the coaching staff at one of them? Is that a big drawing point for you?
VERNON: Not really. I'm looking for a program with a good base, where the coaches aren't constantly leaving. So not really, not for me at least. For some kids it is, but for me I'm just going to take all my visits and see which one I like the best.
ACE: Are there any schools that are standing out as early favorites for you?
VERNON: Not really, because I haven't seen every school. The only schools I've been to are Florida and Florida State, so I can't really say they're my leaders because they're the only schools I've been to.
ACE: Talking about Michigan real quick, which coaches have been in contact with you from Michigan, and what are your impressions of the school and the program?
VERNON: Coach Montgomery called me recently, so I've been talking to him lately. I don't really know much about Michigan, but I know they have a huge stadium, one of the biggest—114,000, something crazy like that. That's always cool.
ACE: Coming in and getting the five-star recognition early and getting all this attention from all these big schools, how do you handle the expectations that come with that and what's it like to get that recognition early on?
VERNON: Football season hasn't started yet so there's not really that much pressure on me yet. I'm just taking it in, watching it happen and just having fun, not getting too stressed about it.
ACE: Going back and talking about your junior year, how'd you feel you performed and what kind of numbers did you put up?
VERNON: I actually got hurt in the summer, I sprained my left ankle, so that set me back, and then I sprained my right ankle, so I was playing crippled basically for the whole year. I think I could've done better this year, but my team made it to the playoffs, and though we lost in the first round it was the first time we've made it in four years, so that was pretty exciting. My numbers, I had 11 touchdowns, two interception and around 67 tackles.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field and what are you trying to work on and improve for your senior year and beyond?
VERNON: I'm trying to get faster. I'm running track right now, because they always say speed kills. I'm also just trying to get stronger, so I'm not getting hurt as much and I can jam people off the ball.
ACE: And what would you say you're best at on the field?
VERNON: I'm probably best at playing man-to-man. That's where I feel like I'm best at.
ACE: Looking ahead to this summer, do you have any junior days in mind for taking visits or are you still trying to figure out a schedule?
VERNON: I'm still trying to figure out a schedule where I can work everybody out. I'm going up to USF this Sunday for a junior day, but that's just right up the street.
ACE: When it comes down to making a decision what are you going to be looking for at a school in terms of what traits are going to draw you in?
VERNON: It would have to be a good environment and a good education, obviously, just like everybody else. Just a good place to be around and where I can be happy for four years.
ACE: Do you have any idea in terms of a timeline, when you'd want to get things wrapped up?
VERNON: Probably a little before signing day. Next year at this time I'll have it all figured out, but I'm not sure. That's just what I'm thinking.
ACE: I see the name 'Freeze' come up as a nickname. How'd you pick that one up?
VERNON: I was playing 7-on-7s and I was at corner, and the other team wasn't throwing my way. I got interviewed after the game and the reporter was like, "Can I call you Freeze," and I said sure. All my teammates heard it and they started making fun of me, so I just went whatever, so it kinda sticks now.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's one thing about you or something you like to do that has nothing to do with football that you'd like people to know about you?
VERNON: I don't really have any hidden talents or anything, but I play a lot of Xbox. I guess you could say that (laughs).
ACE: What's your favorite game on there?
VERNON: Call of Duty.