The Dantonio/Bielema temper tantrums about Urban Meyer’s recruiting tactics got me thinking: they’re just scared. For the past few years, these programs have been making moves towards the elite level of the Big 10. You know, the territory traditionally reserved for Michigan and Ohio. We helped them do that, thanks to our little flirtation with the bottom half of the conference. Ohio too, what with the vacated wins, departing coach and imminent postseason ban. Unfortunately for the nouveau riche of the conference, though, the old money has reasserted itself in a big way, with the traditional powers of the conference absolutely dominating the 2012 recruiting cycle. It was if, from subterranean offices near playing fields in East Lansing and Madison, the newcomers looked to Ann Arbor and Columbus and heard the words: “I’m sorry, sir, but the this is an exclusive country club. Perhaps you’d be happier with a more…local option?”
Whether there’s any truth to this is another story, but you can feel the paranoia emanating from those who think their window of opportunity may be closing. So how accurate are they? What kind of opportunities do exist for the various schools in the conference, with their current rosters, recruits and coaching staffs? I decided to take this question on with a bit of qualitative analysis, by grading the performance of each team in 2011 and its recruiting class for 2012. Then I predict what the near future holds for these schools, with a brief outlook and then a predicted average wins (in the regular season) over the next 3-5 years, given the current coaching staff and their likely performance in recruiting, training and coaching. Finally, I choose the 2012 model car that I believe best encapsulates all this information. Why? Because I like cars, that’s why.
But let me run through a quick example to show you why it’s appropriate. For Brady Hoke, I chose the 2012 BMW M5. That would be the F10 model, for all you gearheads out there, an efficient-and-deadly speedster powered by a V8 biturbo engine. His predecessor Rich Rodriguez, by extension, is the now defunct E60 version, which broke from long-standing tradition by installing a naturally aspirated V10 instead of the traditional V8. This model was, and remains, the favorite of a core of enthusiasts who fell in love with its raw power and pure, unadultered speed. Problem was, it didn’t handle so well in some pretty basic conditions, and ran through gas like nobody’s business. The 2012 M5, then, is something of a return to what M5s are traditionally good at—delivering high performance consistently and efficiently—if, in the process, it loses a dab of peak performance in a straight-ahead race. Channel Fred Jackson and think Carr-level success, only turbocharged!
So with that said, here’s your conference for you…
Big 10 Programs/Coaches
Coach: Tim Beckman
2011 Season Grade: C-
2012 Recruiting Grade: F
Outlook: Zook dropped the FAIL grenade on the Illini after the sixth game of the season, and so the AD went searching for a new coach. Wait…and they hired that guy?? Maybe Beckman surprises us all, but it doesn’t look good for the Illini. Sure Zook was the class clown of the conference, but he did actually get some actually good players to play for Illinois, and he did actually get Illinois to a Rose Bowl back in 2007. Beckman? There’s nothing in his resume that suggests he’ll turn Illinois from mediocre to good, and a lot to suggest they’ll stay on the low end of mediocre.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 5
As a 2012 model car: Fiat 500. Underneath the shiny new exterior, it’s still a very small Chrysler.
Coach: Kevin Wilson
2011 Season Grade: F
2012 Recruiting Grade: F
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 3
As a 2012 model car: Smart ForTwo, which appears to have been dreamed up by people who know nothing about cars, care nothing about cars and wish they were working in the gift card and/or baby stroller manufacturing industries. Oh, and it’s basically ready-made to get crushed to death in a dustup with any other vehicle imaginable, including bicycles, pedicabs and actual baby strollers.
Coach: Kirk Ferentz
2011 Season Grade: B-
2012 Recruiting Grade: B
Outlook: More, more, more of the same, which of course means disciplined, sure-tackling vanilla defenses coupled with bruising but unimaginative MANBALL offenses. Fine, generally, when you get them at home, but a pain-in-the-ass to play away.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 7
As a 2012 model car: Ford F-150. Bulky, cumbersome and can’t really corner, but rugged, efficient and lasts forever.
Coach: Brady Hoke
2011 Season Grade: A
2012 Recruiting Grade: A
Outlook: Rosy. Hoke and his staff got 11 wins with spotty talent, an offense built for a system his coordinator didn’t really know that well, close to zero depth and what was, just a year ago, Michigan’s worst defense ever. If he can do this with that, imagine what he can do when he has all his pieces in place? We’re going to be really good for a while, though I expect 2012 and 2013 to be a little more difficult than 2011 was. We’re back, though. We’re ****ing back.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 10
As a 2012 model car: BMW M5. A classy return to traditional form, while capturing a lot of what people liked about the last variant. German efficiency all sported up.
Coach: Mark Dantonio
2011 Season Grade: A (as much as it pains me to say it)
2012 Recruiting Grade: B
Outlook: Dantonio has put together the best back-to-back Sparty seasons probably since the 1960s. A classic WWF-style heel, this is the kind of guy who cuts assistant coaches off during presentations and allegedly doesn’t like well-wishers who work at rival teams’ stadiums. But the heel can coach, having taken advantage of our brief recruiting emphasis on small/fast dudes from outside the state to put together a genuinely good, prototypical Big 10 squad. Now that we’re back, and splitting basically 90% of their top recruiting targets with Ohio, expect some regression to the mean.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 8
As a 2012 model car: Chevrolet Camaro SS. It’s got a big block engine and can go pretty fast, but it’s fairly simplistic at the end of the day. Might look flash peeling out on the straights, but it’s bound to let you down on the corners. Plus it’s going to look really embarrassing in a few years.
Coach: Jerry Kill
2011 Season Grade: D-
2012 Recruiting Grade: D-
Outlook: It can’t get much worse than the beatdown we put on these guys, and luckily for them, it did get a little better towards the end. Kill is a pretty good coach, but he’s drinking from a poisoned chalice. If they give him the chance, I expect him to improve things over the long haul, but perhaps not enough in the short-term for that chance to be granted.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 4
As a 2012 model car: Hyundai Azera. No one cares about this car, but it’s supposed to have good resale value. So that's something...
Coach: Bo Pelini
2011 Season Grade: B
2012 Recruiting Grade: C+
Outlook: Hard to say, because Nebraska is both the new guy and the odd duck in the Big 10. I’d say based on flimsy evidence that it looks pretty good, but not that good. Everyone expected them to contend for the conference title this year, but they weren’t really all that impressive. On the other hand, they’ve won 9+ games each of the last four seasons…though three of those were in the Big 12 North.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 8
As a 2012 model car: Nissan 370Z. Weird looking, the 370Z still manages respectable numbers, like a 4.7 second 0-60, provided you’re going straight ahead with no complications. That’s good for 8 wins, right?
Coach: Pat Fitzgerald
2011 Season Grade: C+
2012 Recruiting Grade: B+
Outlook: It’s never really clear how the Wildcats are going to do. Some years they beat expectations, whereas in others (like 2011), they fail to meet them. Souped-up mediocrity.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years:
As a 2012 model car: Mazda RX-8, the kind of low cost sports car kids like to paint neon green.
Coach: Urban Meyer
2011 Season Grade: C-
2012 Recruiting Grade: A
Outlook: Detention for 2012, but mostly blue skies after that, provided Ohio can solve three problems. The first one is the little issue of probation. Neither Ohio nor Meyer can be said to have run a tight ship over the past few years, and unlike pre-tats Columbus or pre-retirement Gainesville, all NCAA and journalistic eyes are trained on every Ohio player’s every move. Meyer’s going to have to run a squeaky clean problem, and that may very well entail letting go of players he wants to keep—not just the ones who free up scholarships for more promising recruits. The second problem concerns Meyer himself. He’s not exactly one to stay in the same place for long—he was at Bowling Green for 2 years, Utah for another 2, and at Florida for 5.5 (if you indeed count the last one at all). Maybe that’s trending in the right direction for Ohio, but smart money says he doesn’t stay forever, or even as long as Jimbob did. Finally, there are the fans. Not all of Urban’s Florida teams were good, but he had the benefit of following Ron Zook’s Travelling Underachiever Freakshow. Now he answers to a fickle fanbase that has come to expect a Tresselesque (10+wins including Michigan)/year, only with moar national championships plz. Expect one, but not more than one. Cue Tressel-stalgia at the first sign of trouble.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 10
As a 2012 model car: Ferrari FF. This new model is slick, bold, fast and it immediately catches your eye, but you just don’t know how long it’s going to last. And you know it’s a question of when, not if, it breaks down on you.
10. Penn State
Coach: Bill O’Brien
2011 Season Grade: F
2012 Recruiting Grade: F
Outlook: How does a 9-win season end up with an F? When a grand jury reveals that your former-DC was allegedly molesting children on your campus and, when confronted with this information, your once-legendary coach passes the buck to two guys who allegedly covered it up and let the guy keep coming to campus, resulting in 3 indictments and a summary termination of services for said ex-legend. Add in Paterno’s death, the unexpected and uninspiring hire of NFL OC Bill O’Brien to replace him and Urban Meyer’s vampire-like feast on the blood of the schools’ 2012 recruiting class, and it’s clear that the Sandusky bomb has reduced Penn State to an irradiated, mutant-filled post-apocalyptic nightmare. That isn’t to say O’Brien can’t turn things around, but if people thought Lloyd Carr left a mess for Rich Rodriguez, then Penn State redefines the parameters of what a mess can be. And Rodriguez went in with a lot of experience running college programs. Thankfully for Happy Valley, the rich recruiting fields of Central Pennsylvania act as a plucky postal service for the survivors, and some meager existence is eked out.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 6
As a 2012 model car: Lincoln MKT. At one point, this was a respected luxury brand (at least in some corners). Now you can plausibly ask if it will still be with us 2 years from now. Oh, and this one's a minivan.
Coach: Danny Hope
2011 Season Grade: D+
2012 Recruiting Grade: C-
Outlook: Danny Hope just got a contract extension, though he’s done little to prove he deserved it. I guess I could say that he isn’t terrible, and it would be true, but he’s no Joe Tiller either. I don’t imagine Purdue will change much in the next few years.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 5
As a 2012 model car: Kia Forte. Barely serviceable, thoroughly uninspiring, and already mostly forgotten.
Coach: Bret Bielema
2011 Season Grade: A-
2012 Recruiting Grade: B+
Outlook: Bielema’s quietly taken the nest egg Barry Alvarez left him and turned Wisconsin into the class of the Big 10. Of course, a lot of this success stems from the offense, and it isn’t clear how much losing Chryst and Wilson will hurt the Badgers. Expect a lot of Monte Ball, and whoever the next Monte Ball is, as well as some regression to the mean as the coordinators take their services elsewhere and the competition for the big guys heats up on the recruiting trail.
Predicted avg. wins over next 3-5 years: 9
As a 2012 model car: Dodge Charger SRT8. Another Big 10 muscle car, only this one’s bigger and uglier than the others. Seats four, though, so it’s kinda practical.
This week we look at the scoring from our weekend series verses MSU. This will look a little different because none of our goals came on a powerplay and we really had nothing from a set offense. This is also going to be much longer than the previous breakdowns.
We start out with Di Giuseppe on the right boards and Treais coming over the blueline on a transition opportunity.
PDG and Treais fan out keeping the trailer out of the play.
Because Di Giuseppe is left handed the Spartans have to respect his shot. The defensemen has his stick in his left hand to block the shooting lane, but not the passing lane. Yanakeff is so far over that any kind of one timer is going in.
Deblois goes down fighting for a puck near the corner boards, it's collected by the blueliner and sent back down.
Kevin Lynch gathers in the corner and sends a pass towards a pinching Lee Moffie
Although the pass is broken up Travis Lynch fights through three Spartans and gets to the net.
Yanakeff is in position to make a save but Lynch gives the extra handle and makes him stand up.
Here we have Crandle fighting with Glendening in the corner, Buttery is coming across the crease and Berry is pinching down.
With all three defenders near the corner the cutting lane is perfect for Treais, Berry is too close to the puck and Reimer is too far away.
It's a nice shot but Yanakeff makes a great save, because the Spartans are falling over trying to catch A.J. n oone is there for rebound control.
Here is where we use our wise oldtimer hockey player phrases. This is for all you young hockey players out there who are watching. Good things happen when you go to the net. Deblois sends it in from the side boards and takes a check from Chelios.
Kevin Lynch is still skating into Spartan ice, while Chelios and the other Spartan have stopped.
Crandle tries to block the puck with his body but he takes a bad angle on the puck and it goes right between his legs. Kevin Lynch, who had not given up on the play gets an early Christmas present.
Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen has garnered some major recruiting buzz after stellar sophomore and junior seasons. The 6'1", 190-pound junior had 60 catches for 915 yards and six TDs in 2010 and followed that up with 44 catches for 844 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011; his performance earned him the #110 overall slot in the Rivals250, a three-star ranking on 24/7, and a spot on the ESPNU 150 Watch List. After picking one up from Michigan a week before signing day, Allen now holds offers from the Wolverines, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado State, Duke, Mississippi State, Oregon State, Purdue, Stanford, and Washington, and he's garnered interest from the heavy-hitters on the West Coast. I caught up with Devon last week to talk about his recruitment:
ACE: How's everything going with your recruitment and which teams are pursuing you the hardest right now?
DEVON: It's going pretty well. I've got a couple offers here and there. The schools talking to me the most right now are probably Washington, Ohio State, and a little bit of Notre Dame and Oregon.
ACE: I know you picked up an offer from Michigan recently. Who is the coach who's been in contact with you and what was your reaction to getting the offer?
DEVON: Coach Don Ferrigno. It was kind of surprising because I haven't really been in contact with Michigan, so when they just showed up I thought it was going to be just another coach coming to meet me and talking to me. I guess they had some interest and saw my highlight tape and they liked what they saw.
ACE: What are your thoughts on Michigan as a school?
DEVON: I know for sure that it's a great school. I've heard that it has a great campus, a beautiful campus. I know it's a big powerhouse football school, it's always been since a long time ago, so it would be a great place to maybe look at going, maybe attending Michigan.
ACE: Do you have any favorites early on in the process or is it too soon to say right now?
DEVON: Not really. I've only visited two schools, Stanford and ASU [ed. note: he's since visited USC for their junior day], so I kind of know what they're about right now. I'm originally from Washington, so I know the weather and the environment up at the University of Washington; those are the schools I know the most about. I'm trying to get around, maybe take some unofficial visits, go to some junior days here in the near future, just see what some of the other schools have to offer.
ACE: Do you have any of those junior day visits planned out yet?
DEVON: I think so. I should be attending the USC junior day this weekend on Sunday.
ACE: Going back to your junior year, how do you think you performed and what kind of numbers did you put up?
DEVON: I don't know exactly, I know it's a little over 800 [yards] and I know I scored 17 touchdowns, but that's about it. The season went pretty well. As a team we were young, so we have some growing to do still. We all wanted to win state, that was the main goal, so we were disappointed, but other than that I think if you ask my team we overall had a good year and we got to know each other. We'll just keep growing over this next year and we should be in contention for a state championship in Arizona.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself on the field, what would you say are your biggest strengths as a player and what are you working on to improve for your senior year and the next level?
DEVON: I'd say [my strengths are] definitely my speed and my route-running, my ability to make plays, my size—I'm a little over 6'1". I've been gaining some weight here lately because I've been working out, so I'm getting kind of on the heavier side, I'm 190 right now. Something I can improve on is definitely blocking, that's what all the coaches are looking at so I definitely take pride in that. I can always get better at route-running, learning the game and knowing what to do in certain situations—you know, a cover 2, how to beat that, if there's a press, how to beat that, learn all the receiver positions so I can play anywhere on the field.
ACE: Looking ahead in your recruitment, what do you think it's going to come down to when you make a decision, what are going to be the deciding factors for you?
DEVON: I really don't know 100% yet, but I think they'll be the environment, the program, and what they have to offer education-wise. But really it's up in the air right now, I have to get to know all the coaches, all the staff, and figure out what I want to be when I grow up, see what major I want to major in. It will be a tough process, but it should be a fun one.
ACE: In terms of a timeline, do you have any idea when you'd like to get things wrapped up?
DEVON: I think I definitely want to commit just right after football season. I'm not really into that whole hat-picking thing that all the players do, it'd be nice, but I think that's kind of disrespecting the other coaches, leaving it up to the final day to pick your school so if you don't pick their school the other team has to go and find a recruit to fill the spot. I'll probably commit maybe a month, a month or two before signing day and then I'll just sign.
ACE: Going away from football, what's one thing that you like to do away from the field that's something you think people would like to know about you?
DEVON: I run track, that's a big thing for me, I'll probably run track in college also. Also, I like to play music. I'm learning the piano right now and I'm getting pretty good at it. That's a hobby of mine. Then at track, I got second in the state at the 200 [meter dash], second in the 110 hurdles last year as a sophomore, so this year I'm hopefully going to be in contention for winning it.
ACE: What kind of music do you like playing on the piano?
DEVON: I like classical, it always sounds cool, but for my generation it's more the modern music, the music that's on the radio all the time. I'll just get some sheet music for that, look it up on the internet, and just play with it and see how it sounds and manipulate it to see if it sounds good the way you play it. It's fun to me to be able to play and people are impressed by it, so I always like to do that.
YESHPREMI GOES TO YOST
(Click the image to view full size)
Yes, there is a certain dialect unique to the confines of Yost, and you
don’t need a Rosetta Stone tutorial to pick it up. I hope you enjoy the ride
as Desmond continues to introduce Yeshpremi to the finer minutae
of the culture surrounding our beloved Michigan sports.
And yes, for those of you that are offended by this... I know I'm
making it out to be worse than it actually is, so $#@!% off.
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs every Tuesday here at MGoBlog, and at least every
Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to check out our newest
feature, Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
[Ed: Bump. Also see Brooks's lax primer.]
A historic moment for U-M seems to be getting a little bit of a short shrift - mgolicious shouldn't be the most notable place for a mention of the first varsity NCAA lacrosse game in Michigan history - so for those interested in the game but who couldn't make it out to Pontiac or watch the live feed, here is a recap. This will be kind of a cheap diary entry, since most of it will just be copying and pasting my updates (plus a few others from other folks) from the de facto game thread. In other words I'm basically just rounding up the thread and its comments in a more digestible form. This way you won't have to do as much scrolling and you can get the feel of the game all in one.
A quick primer: yesterday, the dynastic Michigan lacrosse team took its first step into a larger world with a game against the other instate D-I program, Detroit Mercy, and lost, 13-9. It was a very even, back-and-forth game until about halfway through the third period. The game was hosted by UDM but took place at a neutral venue in Pontiac, which appeared to be almost - if not totally - sold out.
Quasi-play-by-play recap follows, as C&P'ed and polished up a little from the game thread:
- First ever goal in UM Lax D1 history-Bryant. 1-0 UM
- 2-0, Michigan. It's been a pretty defensive game. Neither team getting many shots.
- 2-1, Michigan, UDM with a goal.
- UDM's man-up opportunity amounts to nothing because UDM took an early shot and failed to back it up, U-M ran out the rest of it but gave up the goal shortly after. 2-2 now.
- Michigan up 3-2 after one and looking good in spots. Nice feed for the third goal.
- 4-2 score now with U-M converting a fast break chance.
- Always with the scoring exactly as I'm typing. 4-3. This game started off slowly in the offense department but has a chance to be very high-scoring indeed. Just to drive the point home, 4-4 now with a quick UDM goal off the faceoff.
- U-M looking sloppy now. Failed clear follows three lost FOs in a row.
- Goal UDM, 5-4 Detroit. Short-stick middie got beat badly on a run by the UDM middie.
- Michigan ball now, nice save by the Detroit goalie but a poor clear puts Michigan back on the attack.
- 5-5 now with about 3:30 to go in the half.
- 43 seconds left in the half, Detroit calls timeout to set up one last shot. Tied at 5.
- Halftime and we're all tied up at 5. I would say UDM has the ground ball edge but Michigan is holding its own. (Note: This proved to be a false impression, as Michigan actually had the GB edge in the game, 29-23, with most of that margin coming in the first quarter.)
- UDM up 6-5, early in the 3rd.
- Michigan had a great chance on a fast break but Levell made another beautiful save.
- Goal Michigan, 6-6 now, almost halfway through the third period.
- 7-6 UDM with a Detroit goal from close quarters.
- Sudden scoring spurt - 8-6 Detroit now on a semi-fast-break.
- UDM backs up a Michigan shot and gets the ball, about 5 minutes to go in the 3rd.
- 8-7, Michigan goal, very nice defense behind the net led to getting the ball and a goal with about 3 to go.
- 9-7 Detroit on a hard-fought goal. Michigan wins the ensuing FO and has the ball.
- Detroit with a steal off a terrible pass and a fast-break goal to go up 10-7. 35 seconds left. A lazy, sloppy play.
- 3rd period over with a 10-7 UDM lead.
- 11-7 now on a bounce shot....UDM starting to open it up. 12:18 to go.
- Looks like a UDM EMO coming up. The boys are starting to get a little too desperate.
- And UDM scores on the EMO. Michigan had done a nice job on defense and got the ball, but couldn't hold on as UDM used the extra man to double up and get the ball back. 12-7 Detroit now.
- Michigan scores, 12-8 now. 8:17 to go, so there's definitely plenty of time.
- Looks like an EMO coming for Michigan now. Silly, silly penalty by UDM, which is known to be a little bit of an overemotional team.
- Again nothing doing on the EMO. Detroit ball and Michigan doesn't seem interested in playing aggressively to get it back.
- As soon as the penalty was over, UDM went on the attack again and Michigan got the ball back pretty quickly.
- Time-out, 2:22 to go. UDM holds the 12-8 lead.
- And UDM with what looks like a clincher at 13-8, eight seconds after the end of the TO.
- Michigan with a respectability goal to make it 13-9. 24 seconds.
- Detroit 13, Michigan 9 is the final.
And now for the editorial section:
- 1st quarter: Playing solid defense against what's supposed to be a solid UDM squad offensively. But you can also see why this team will struggle: faceoffs are about even against a team that's been absolutely worthless at the X, and the man-up chance didn't look good at all, no coordination or sense of urgency to attack.
- Halftime: Though only outscored by one, not a good half for Michigan. Only one goal on a settled situation, the other, IMO coming from taking advantage of mistakes that better teams don't usually make. Detroit exposed a weakness by attacking the SSDMs - didn't always score on it, but created chances. Part of the Michigan offensive slowdown came from improved defense by UDM, though, including one very, very nice save by Titan goalie Levell. Michigan got killed on faceoffs in the 2nd, though, which just can't happen against Detroit, by far one of the worst faceoff teams in the nation.
[Ed: second half and recap afte the jump.]
St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham Hall ATH James Onwualu recently picked up a Michigan offer as the Wolverines joined Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Stanford among schools to extend him a scholarship. I interviewed Onwualu back in January, before receiving his offer, and recently got the chance to talk to him again now that his recruitment is quickly picking up steam. Onwualu told me prior to the interview that he planned on graduating early, so we discusses his accelerated timeline, new offers, and more:
ACE: You just got your Michigan offer recently. Who have you been talking to from Michigan and what was your reaction to getting the offer?
JAMES: I've mainly been talking to Coach Mattison, but also talking to Coach Hoke. Obviously that's a big offer for me, a big-time school. They're really making a lot of different changes and really coming up as a program. It's a huge offer for me. I was excited.
ACE: What's your impression of Michigan as a school and a football program?
JAMES: I think they're one of the best in the nation, personally. I think that their academics are extremely high, their business school ranks high, which means a lot to me. Also their alumni base ... is huge. Then I think everybody pretty much knows what their football traditions are, what they look to in every season.
ACE: You pulled in a few other offers recently. What other schools are showing interest in you now and how do the schools stack up in terms of your interest?
JAMES: I haven't really made a list of where I'm going to go yet, I haven't come up with a top ten list or anything. I'm just kind of pulling everything in. But Notre Dame continues to show a lot of interest, Stanford, Florida, Ohio State, Texas, a lot of big schools have been showing a lot of interest. I'm just keeping it open right now.
ACE: Do you have any plans in terms of taking visits to schools now that you've got offers coming in?
JAMES: Yeah. I'll definitely go up to Michigan. I haven't gone out there before so it'd be good to go out there. I'll probably go back down to Florida and go down to Stanford, possibly.
ACE: Coming from Cretin-Derham, that's a school that's obviously produced a lot of football talent. Do you ever talk to some of the guys who have gone D-I from there and got an impression of what going through the recruiting process is like?
JAMES: Yeah. Actually, [former Heisman winner] Chris Weinke is one of the guys who's kinda guided me through this whole thing, along with [former Notre Dame receiver] Mike Floyd, and also [Baltimore Ravens Pro-Bowl center] Matt Birk. Oh yeah, and also [Denver Broncos offensive tackle] Ryan Harris. Having people like that around me, it really helps being able to manage the schools and balance out what the coaches are actually saying and what I actually want in my future.
ACE: I know you did the Army All-American combine, but do you have any more plans for doing training or camps over the summer?
JAMES: Probably not. I train seven days a week with the best trainer in the nation, Ted Johnson. I don't really find the need to go to any more camps. I think that I can really start focusing in on what I want to do in college. I'm looking to be committed here so I'm going to be spending a lot of time with the school that I'm going to.
ACE: The last time I talked to you, you said you were looking to commit in the spring, and you mentioned the possibility of graduating early. Is that timeline still holding true right now for you?
JAMES: Yeah, as of right now, I think so. It may be pushed back a little bit into the summer, but as of right now, I think I'm going to get it done with and start focusing on what I have to do, like I said.
ACE: In terms of focusing, in terms of improving on the football field, what do you think are your strongest qualities on the football field as a player right now, and what are you looking to improve as you work towards the next level?
JAMES: I think the main thing I'm good at is really making a play after the catch. That's probably just because of my base in playing running back, being versatile all over the field. I really think that I'm going to start working on—there's so many different styles of play around the nation—just learning different styles of DBs and just getting more experience.
ACE: What position did Michigan offer you for? I know you're listed as an athlete. Do you know what position you'd play if you decided on Michigan?
JAMES: Well, as of right now, they just have me offered as an athlete. We haven't really talked position-wise. Since I've been talking to Mattison a lot of people assume I'm going to be playing safety or corner, but as of right now I don't really know.
ACE: Do you have a preference in terms of where you fit best on the field? Do you prefer offense or defense?
JAMES: I don't know, it could change. Next year I'm going to be all over. We've got a really good running back, [2014 RB] Blake Banham, who's going to be playing next year, so I'm not going to playing as much running back. We've also got a safety, [2014 S] Tim Gordon, so we're going to have to see, I might be playing corner and receiver.
ACE: Going away from the football field, what's one thing you want people to know about you that has nothing to do with football?
JAMES: That's a tough question. I'd say I like going and watching my friends play sports, like Cortez Tillman, I don't know if you've heard of him, but he plays basketball at my school, so I like going and watching him on the weekends.
Thanks to James for taking the time to do the interview. He made sure to tell me before we ended that I should be keeping an eye on his class of 2014 teammates—he sounds like a great guy to have alongside you on the team.