This is my story and how it (figuratively) coincides with Michigan's recent Final Four run. This may be a "MGothreadworthy?" but it's a "cool story bro" nonetheless. So, if you're into the latter quoted, read on...
Have you ever made a decision on a whim? A life-changing, love crazed leap into thin air? It's liberating, it really is. And it's also reckless and irresponsible. It's living life on the edge. Have you ever walked that thin line?
March 29, 2013. It was really cold that morning. A thin layer of frost covered everything, including the road I took on my way to Dayton Airport. Funny thing is, in a mere 8-12 hours I'd be experiencing the other extreme in temperature. I was headed to Los Angeles. I'm 20 years old and I've never even seen a plane up close and in person. And I'm doing it alone.
What a day to pick. Michigan was to play #1 seed Kansas in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. And Trey Burke alone would become a real hero in the eyes of Michigan fans across the country in what became to be known as "The Shot"
I'm no real hero, but I sure felt like one, clumsily but confidently finding my way through O'Hare International Airport in Chicago. My overlay flight would take off in an hour or so, so I desperately searched for a TV with CBS airing the game. No such luck. I missed the game of my life while talking to a stranger I had met aboard the plane. She was headed to L.A. too. After some aimless chit-chating, the woman gave me her card which I tossed in my pocket and almost immediately forgot about it. I had more important things on my mind.
When the ball left Trey's hand, it spun in what seemed like a wormhole, it happened so fast. Just like that, the Wolverines we're going to take the game. You could FEEL it. That ball could have spun at less than a one degree angle in any other direction and the result would have been that disappointing loss we had but a microsecond to prepare for when Trey put the team on his back. 'Cause that's what he did when he took "The Shot". He put the world on his back when he let that ball go. Man...
That's life on the edge.
LAX is big. Bigger than the cornfields and cow shit of the 50,000 persons population of Mercer County , Ohio. But yet, it's where I found the girl I was in the City of Angels for in the first place. An almost comical clechie of a tale of love that led me to visit her for a few days across the country. And the first thing I said was,
"Where's the nearest sports bar?"
I had missed it, but I watched replay after replay after replay. The athletic motion of off-balance shooting, the alpha male-esque scream that captured the moment after the ball had made an improbable, perfect trajectory.
I had chills that lasted for days.
Before I knew it, it was almost over. My 3rd day there was to be my last. I had such a good time. Palm trees and mountains are a big change of scenery. Of course I was fully invested in my time there, but I also kept Michigan's next game in the back of my mind...
It didn't stay there for long. Turns out, that same night, I would take my own "Shot" and do something insane. I would throw my life in the air and hope for that perfect swish. That night, with the weight of my own world on my back, (a mere bag of clothes and 1000 dollars cash) I would decide to stay. I would decide to leave everything behind. My family, friends, everything, to be have a shot at something better than the dead end life I watch all those around me create for themselves. I would live on the edge.
Those chills would continue for months.
By Michigan's Final Four game against the Orange of Syracuse, I'd have my first job in L.A. Welding, and making more money than I've ever made in Ohio. Credit that to the woman who gave me her card at the airport in Chicago. She was a job recruiter. How perfect?
Only fitting that the Wolverines would make it all the way to the National Championship. Play like Hell, like Victors.
But come short.
Only fitting that I would too. After a year, my improbable run came to an end. And I found myself back in Ohio at square one. Nothing to show for my amazing, however reckless, decisions. Nothing but memories made and a hell of a story to tell.
The Wolverines hadn't brought home the trophy. But came back with a story's weight in gold. One that will be told forever. I guess life is linear like that sometimes. I guess life is hard. But I'm rebuilding. Just like my Wolverines. Strengthening ourselves for another run at something big. However next time, it won't be so improbable.
With 10 or so days to go I will just do a running update to keep this stuff on page 1 of the diary, and with new updates as needed. Here is V1.0.
Aside from the
2 3commits the # of open spots is in question; with scholarships assumed to be offered to both Glasgows and Kerridge there would only be 6 open spots left. (EDIT 1 extra spot with Justice leaving) (EDIT another open spot with Bellomy) (EDIT another open spot with Heitzman) Howeva.... if there is some attrition that has happened but not yet announced there may be more. (EDIT Well that is the attrition we were looking for) Also we don't know Harbaugh's stance on grayshirts. And we *do* seem to be recruiting as if we have more than 4 spots - but maybe that's just Harbaugh covering all bases. So instead of 6-8 7-8 8-9 9 spots I am going to go 6-9 7-9 8-9 9 on our commit board. 9 new commits (inclusive of the 2 Saturday) would give us 15 in the class.
My pulled out of rear end class then falls like this
Just for kicks section - a 13 man class with Clark, Arnette, Williams, Lockett, Pickard added to our current 8 would vault the class from current #72 to #34ish via 247.
Projecting - Chris Clark
Reagan Williams. Harbaugh magic works this weekend.
Projecting - Looks like tea leaves read none; maybe an unknown emerges next week at the last minute.
Projecting - We are done here.
Projecting - none.
maybe Ulizio - some of this is due to openings and he has reasons to choose Pitt or UK.
Projecting - serious chance for 2 CBs even if we only have 6 slots. Guessing Arnette is 1. Hopefully Williamson is impressed this weekend but still has a visit to UF next weekend. Most likely the 2nd spot is Lockett/Adams/Bush.
Jake Pickard. EDIT - Since the 2 UM transfers Pickard crystal balls have moved heavily to Syracuse EDIT - Commited to Syracuse.
Projecting - none.
OFF THE BOARD / UNLIKELY
I'm off work today. Been thinking about this story for awhile. I write quite a bit, but almost never share, but I thought the board might like it.
I was in an upper bunk at my uncle's hunting cabin when he woke me that Saturday. I was a year out of Ann Arbor, starting life, brutally hung over, and Uncle Jim's face was several inches from mine trying to get something through to me too early after the previous night's rolling West Michigan trout camp party.
The cabin didn't have a phone and there were no cells in September of 1989. Turns out my Mother had also had had a long Friday night. A night spent in the hospital as my father unexpectedly died at the age of 50. Uncle Jim's wife drove north to communicate the news. And Uncle Jim told me. I don't remember my immediate reaction, but I remember his face and his breath. He was and is a strong man, but there was only stale beer and softness.
We quietly loaded up and drove for two hours. Somehow it had been translated that my sister, then a freshman at Western, was in East Lansing visiting a high school friend at State. I have no idea how anyone knew where to go or how to get in touch with her, but in hindsight it is clear that many calls had been made and accurate instructions had been transmitted because when we pulled next to a giant non-descript MSU dormitory my sister was there with her friend. I told her the terrible thing through the open window. I just blurted it out without thinking to get out of the minivan to catch her. I just blurted it out because I was out of my head and had no balance, no ability to outline my moment-to-moment actions.
Mrs. Jones was the first person I saw upon our return to our childhood home. Mom was in another room with the door shut. Mrs. Jones caught me the way I should have caught my sister.
We spent the next several days feeling our way through visitations, kind offers of help, casseroles the neighbors brought over, the wake and the funeral. I don't remember much of it very well except being physically uncomfortable during the funeral, having chose a stiff dress shirt that must have been a shade too small. During the wake one of Dad's college buddies noticed and told me to put on a sweatshirt while we drank beer and laughed a little.
About two months later Mom and I went to the stadium for the Purdue game. She resisted a little, but I thought it would be alright. I've said that 90% of my formation occurred during camping trips to the western edge of the UP and in Section 10, Row 70, Seats 21 and 22. We had a nice tailgate at Ann Arbor Golf and Outing where the same crew - our crew - showed up early enough to maintain the same four near-entrance spaces for 20 years. By the time I was eight or nine I could make my way alone from the parking space on the course, across Stadium Boulevard, to our seats without anyone worrying at all.
Mom and I held hands between the tailgate and the stadium entrance. I felt her tension and she told me she was thirsty and was going to buy a Coke and that I should go ahead and sit down. As I walked those last few steps to our seats I realized we were going to have to communicate Dad's passing to our stadium friends. Mom knew. Like the calls that had happened to get me and my sister home that horrible Saturday morning earlier in the Fall, I was being helped along here, by a real adult who kept her shit together. I told our friends in the seats adjacent to ours and after their expressions of sadness, Mom arrived with two Cokes and gracefully received condolences. I've attended most home games between then and now, but she never went back.
Mom passed away in 2003 after an inexplicably courageous battle with the bitch breast cancer. But before she died she watched many Michigan games with my daughter - her new best friend.
I still have the unused tickets Mom and Dad were going to use that Saturday in September of 1989. We beat Maryland that day.
For my part, I never bet on sporting events anyway. But for those of you who do, be warned: you bet on a Brady/Belichick Super Bowl (BBSB) -regardless of the team you bet on- at your own considerable risk.
History has shown that the outcome of a BBSB is impossible to predict with any accuracy. Vegas has apparently recognized this, making this year's SB the first ever with a dead even betting line. Apart from the apparent evenness between the Seahawks and Pats, here are some history-based reasons supporting their decision as a wise one:
-The favorites in the 5 BBSBs are 2-3; none have covered. Two were favored by double digits; both lost.
- Average BBSB victory margin: 3.2 points (high: 4 points).
- In all 5 BBSBs, the winning score occurred in the 4th quarter.
- In 4 of 5 BBSBs, the winning score occurred in the final minute of play.
- On average, the winning score of a BBSB comes with 2:06 remaining in the game. Remove the Pats/Eagles SB as an outlier (8:43), and the average drops to :24 remaining.
- In 4 of 5 BBSBs, the losing team scored with <3:00 to play. In 3 of those 4, said score either tied the game or took the lead.
BBSBs have been great games with big surprises: Brady the upstart driving the length of the field to upset The Greatest Show on Turf, the thrilling back-and-forth fireworks of the Pats/Panthers SB, a 9-7 Giants team holding the undefeated Pats to 14 pts, etc. BBSBs have given us some of the best SB games ever...but only a fool would try to predict the outcome of one of them for money.
You have been warned...
Either this post will be very useful or completely useless by Feb 4th. Hopefully useful.
Sleuthing around the internets here is some stuff I found on this potential flip out of New Mexico.
Ht: 6'6"ish Wt: 235ish
As we all know, Rivals has the most knowledgeable New Mexican scouting... ESPN is pretty sharp in N.M. as well. But Harbaugh above all.
Offer list P5 programs: Texas (obv), Bama, Louisville, Maryland, Nebraska, Northwestern, Oklahoma State (he's a man, he's 47!), Oregon State, TCU, Tennessee. [some sites show Baylor and PSU - others do not]
Charlie Strong had been recruiting him since his time at Louisville. He has been a Texas commit since May 2014. re: Alabama offer as one story I read noted it is difficult to tell what is real from Alabama in terms of "commitable" as they offered 10 QBs in this class alone (and 183 offers in total).
Generic local TV station report
(I believe S.C. did an analysis on him so if you read this please repaste somewhere in comments)
Overall theme from these stories is consistent - raw tools galore, more than enough arm, quite raw, has fixable mechanical issues, surprising athleticism for size, a good basketball player so should have "good feet", not "speedy" (40 times are probably 5 out of 5 fakes) but mobile enough to get out of trouble, well spoken, throws off back foot too much, no clue on ability to read defenses / progression because he hasn't really needed to do it in a very simple offense, not surrounded by much talent at all in HS. Interception rate is very low but so is completion rate.
---> Comments from his obviously biased HS coach:
Dodson said Gentry can easily sling the ball 70 yards. And while Gentry hasn't been timed in the 40-yard dash lately, he would likely run in the low 4.6 range, Dodson said. (editor's note - read that with a lot of salt)
"The thing that sticks out about Zach is that he is probably going to be a better college player than he is in high school," Dodson said. "Being (so tall) he was a little bit of a late developer. His motor skills had to catch up with his body because he grew so fast. He's 230 pounds right now. He'll be 240 next year. He's an athlete, a very good basketball player. I don't think he's reached as far as where he's going to get as far as his arm strength."
His growth and size has caused some body isues:
Gentry's height has caused him some issues, according to Dodson. He arrived as a freshman at 6-4 and then hit a growth spurt later that year. That spurt was partially to blame for a chunk of bone getting displaced from his knee, Dodson said.
"He actually had a part of his kneecap that came off in between his freshman and sophomore year that they had to surgically put back on because he was growing so fast," Dodson said. "That set him back three months." Then his ligament pulled away from his growth plate in his throwing arm (right) during his first 7-on-7 tournament. "So he's had all kinds of issues because of him growing so fast," Dodson said.
---> Some dude with a Michigan blog - I think he goes by Magneto around these parts - had this to say in a 2015 QB roundup back in January 2014:
Gentry is a tall quarterback with a well developed frame, so he probably won't get significantly bigger. He runs mostly a shotgun/pistol spread offense. He has a strong arm but throws a very catchable ball, and he has a high release when he sets his feet in the pocket. His straight line speed is good for a guy his size, but he lacks lateral quickness and agility. He may be tough to bring down because of his size, but he could improve his pocket awareness - he seems to throw the ball on time or get flushed out of the pocket, instead of sliding around or moving up in the pocket. I would also like to see him attack the line of scrimmage more when he rolls out, so he can get more on the football, but that's a pretty easy thing to coach up.
[note opposing player's helmet...]
---> SB Nation's Barking Carnival has a great overview [May 2014]
Gentry is a long strider who eats up ground once he gets going and he has a reasonable amount of niftiness despite his height. Some recruiting services claim a 4.7 40, which isn't unrealistic, but he's not going to be confused with Jamelle Holloway in small space.
While Gentry doesn't project to a traditional run threat in the college game, he'll be very capable of pulling the ball down and making a defense pay if they ignore containment - sometimes even big yardage if the sea parts properly. Gentry is hardly a statue and certainly athletic enough to throw capably on the move, run bootlegs, bring diversity to play action etc.
A high base on a 6-6 frame means elusiveness from a static set in the pocket won't be a primary strength and his change of direction and ability to shake a pass rush will rely more on developing lower body strength to ignore glancing blows, stepping up into the pocket and showing good feel with his eyes downfield.
Gentry is a star 20ppg/10rpg player on the El Dorado basketball team. I like good QB basketball players as competence in the game suggests decent feet, body control and coordination that translates well to the intangibles of football.
Gentry is raw (really? A high school junior?) but he throws fairly effortlessly - even without consistent coaching, optimal mechanics and the benefit of a college S&C program. He flicks the ball out with decent accuracy and anticipation and his motion and release is quite workable. A 6-6 throwing platform with long arms isn't going to have problems getting the ball out with velocity - the question is how quickly and to where? Given that he recorded a 73 yard test-for-distance throw at the Louisville camp before his junior year, I think we can check the arm strength box.
His high school statistics are actually pretty poor (though he doesn't turn it over), but the personnel around him aren't brimming with talent. Basically, Gentry is a one man gang on a bad team playing El Paso equivalent football. A better statistical senior year might reassure me a tad, but dude can't pick his teammates.
Arm strength is fantastic but once it meets my minimum requirements, accuracy and anticipation are far more valuable.
Gigantic with room to grow. Currently 6-6, 230, he can reasonably be expected to fill out to 245-250 and Moorer and Watson will need to actively monitor how he fills out his frame so that he doesn't lose dexterity in the pocket. His size will offer value in goal line and short yardage situations.
I have no idea how Gentry sees the game - most of his high school throws were short and intermediate routes to marginal receivers, but his interviews reveal a mature, thoughtful personality and the intense interest from Alabama, Tennessee and our own Shawn Watson suggest camp interactions that demonstrated a coachable nature and quick improvements under tutelage. He didn't go from New Mexico State level offers to Alabama in a few weeks just because of his frame.
Admittedly, Gentry is not my preferred style of college QB (give me Vince Young over Peyton Manning in the college game), but given the right time and development, it's not hard to imagine the Longhorns could create their own version of Brock Osweiler/Erik Ainge/Nick Foles/Joe Flacco (insert your own preferred tall guy QB). With the right weapons around him and a Wickline OL, that's pretty damn good.
While height is a boon to QBs in seeing the field and long arms (particularly a long ulna to upper arm ratio) allow an effortless javelin effect on deep balls, the college game rewards improvisation over execution and accuracy over cannon arms. If given the right pieces and the expected growth in all facets, Gentry could flourish.
[a man among pudgy boys]
---> Son of a Coach Scouting Report:
El Dorado High quarterback Zach Gentry is about to join that exclusive club of ridiculously tall quarterbacks in college football. He’s got tantalizing potential, but needs some refinement to his mechanics before he can approach reaching it.
Any questions someone might have about his size limiting his movement are answered as soon as you see him run. For such a massive player at his position, Gentry is great athlete. He has good mobility and very good speed.
Gentry is dangerous runner with the ball in his hands. One would think he has the size to run over people, but he’s actually very elusive and can run away from defenders. He’s an unexpected dual-threat.
When he’s balanced and has his feet set, he throws a really nice and accurate ball. The issue with Gentry is that his mechanics are inconsistent. He doesn’t show a “wow” arm, but it’s mostly because he is throwing with all arm far too often. Sometimes he’ll float the ball when throwing out routes, which is something you don’t expect with a player of his size. He throws off his back foot far too often and there is a noticeable difference when he steps into his throws. If he can clean up his mechanics, he’s got potential to have a special arm.
Gentry has some mechanical issues he needs to work out so a pro-style scheme where he plays under center may take him awhile to master with the drops he’ll have to routinely do. I think his best fit is in a spread offense that allows him to run as well as throw.
Gentry’s potential is truly awesome. He has physical traits that are special and others just don’t possess. If he can improve the things he needs to work on, he could end up being a very high quality starting quarterback at the college level. If he doesn’t, he may end up being another Logan Thomas.
---> Burnt Orange story:
On film, Gentry is a good athlete at the position for a pro-style passer, running for 617 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior with reported 4.68 40 speed, though he looks closer to the verified 5.02 40 that star California quarterback Josh Rosen registered at a Nike event.
Whatever his actual testing speed, Gentry is certainly not a pocket-pound passer despite his designation and has some make-you-miss ability in the open field. His height can also make the speed that he does have a little bit more deceptive, as he covers quite a bit of ground with each stride. In college, his mobility will be an asset in making off-schedule plays with his arm moving outside the pocket and moving the pocket on designed rollouts and bootlegs more so than running the zone read series.
And Eldorado moved the pocket quite a bit in 2013, utilizing Gentry's athleticism and probably covering up some deficiencies on the offensive line as well. On the run, Gentry shows of his above-average pure arm strength moving in either direction, doing a nice job of clearing his hips to throw while moving to his left.
The arm talent of Gentry is perhaps more apparent at times than it should be, as he can resort to throwing off his back foot. When given a clean pocket, however, his footwork is adequate and he's able to make a range of throws, from darts into small windows to the type of touch passes that every quarterback has to make, whether a fade route into the end zone or a lofted pass over an underneath defender.
There's a bit of the gunslinger in Gentry, but he only threw three interceptions in 286 passes as a junior, an interception rate of 1.04% that is incredibly low. It was also a significant improvement from his sophomore year, when he sat at a still-impressive 2.12% interception rate. However, this completion percentage of 55% could be a cause for concern if he ends up missing open receivers once he gets to Texas -- similar accuracy problems for Wood out of high school eventually sunk his Texas career before it ever really started.
He can drop his arm slot at times, but otherwise his mechanics are without major flaws in his throwing motion.
[This guy is our coach. Still hard to believe some days.]
In my first public posting, I chose a diary in order to avoid a public execution on the message board. I've lurked on this blog for years and yet I still have a burning question that can only be answered by the likes of this board.
When I was young and growing up in southwest Ohio, I was surrounded by sameness. Red shirts promoting the block "O" clouded my peripheral vision wherever I went. It still does. Yet, occasionally, those ever-so-sweet maize and blue colors would pop up in the hallways at school. I liked that. Even before I understood what football, or any other sport for that matter, meant to the general population. So, in an effort to distinguish myself from the crowd, I unknowingly picked up the most proverbial, unholy of things to break from the school of fish swimming in one linear direction of fandom. I picked up my first hat with the honorary block "M".
It was the first of many. Winged helmet shirts and the "Suckeye" comments shortly ensued. It wasn't some stroke of generic, story-like love that led me to dream of being on campus in Ann Arbor. It was a love that built over time. I enjoyed the arguments at school about who'd win The Game. About who had better players, colors, and stadiums. I enjoyed watching every game I could. Win or lose, my increasing love for the team became unwavering and eventually spread to my passion playing the game myself. I could waste more of your time explaining my fondest memories while witnessing countless telivised games. But eventually it was those memories that built a foundation I could justify my passion on. My dream was to play football or even basketball for the Wolverines. High school came and went, proving I was too small and un-athletic to do so. So I dreamed of the next best thing:
Life in the student section. Studying in the acadimic prowess that is the University.
However, a troubled childhood and otherwise poor circumstances made my second best dream a very improbable one to come true. I'm not usually prone to excuses but a big dose of life has stymied my attempt to fulfill my passion. And yet, my empty passion still holds true. I love the University of Michigan. It's an almost strange obsession, having never gone to school there. I have no alumni in my family. In fact, no one in my family has ever furthered their education. I am another factory working descendent in the long list of blue color Americans with the same last name.
If you're still reading, you now know a little about me. Though I still wish to attend school in my favorite city in the world, right now is not exactly realistic. I'm not sure it ever will be. So my question is:
Is "my kind" heavily looked down upon by the alumni? Am I the infamous "Wal-Mart Wolverine"?
I must admit, I expect I know what the answer is. But it is a question worth asking. Whatever the reaction I get from this will not deter my fandom. Nothing ever will.
I never felt I was worthy of posting on this blog because of these questions of mine (hence the lurking for a few years). But I am truly intrigued by the responses I may or may not get. Thank you for taking the time to read my first diary post. This long entry may not be written well either, but shit, no post-high school education may do that to you.