...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
As odd as it may seem the 2012 class is already starting to get to the point where fans speculate on who fits where and how many spots are left. The offensive line is a big priority in this class and with two commitments on board the coaching staff is likely looking for 2-4 more. Here's a look at some of the prospects Michigan has a chance with and a few other notes.
6'6", 280 lbs.
Meador is a four star offensive lineman, ranked 241st overall in the country by Rivals. He holds offers from Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Ole Miss, and Northern Illinois. He has also started to hear more from the Michigan coaches.
Coach Borges came down to my school a few weeks ago. He said they really like me and when they get back from spring recruiting they will discuss offering me. If they invite me up to take a visit then that's when they'll offer.
Jake lives relatively close by, but says he isn't too familiar with the Michigan program or Ann Arbor.
I don't know too much about them, but if they were to offer I would be interested. I would like to make a decision mid to late June. If they offer then I'll try to get up whenever I can.
We'll see what the coaches say about an offer, or if they ask him to camp. He says he wants to make his decision by June, but that could change if other programs start to show interest as well.
6'5", 275 lbs.
Thurston took a trip to Ann Arbor just a few weeks ago and came away very impressed. It seems like his recruitment is starting to wind down now.
I'm probably going to make my decision in July or August. I'll probably see what happens in the next few weeks then maybe take one or two more visits. After that I'll narrow my list down in June and make my decision from there.
Paul has a great offer list including Arizona, Cal, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford, and UCLA among others. I think Michigan has a good chance here, but he keeps everything very close to the vest. I would be surprised if Michigan didn't make his top list, but anything can happen.
6'6", 275 lbs.
Magnuson is a four star offensive tackle who is ranked 34th overall in the country by Rivals. He holds an impressive offer list that includes Michigan, Cal, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford and others.
He told me back in March how great of a relationship he has with the Michigan coaches from their days at SDSU. He went so far as to call offensive line coach Darrell Funk, "The man." The original plan was to come out to Ann Arbor for an official visit, but that plan has changed.
I'm coming out [to Michigan] on June 10th. I'm really strongly considering them so I want to get out there and see it. They have a couple good 2012 commits, and I know the coaches really well, so I really like them.
Erik also recently told me that Michigan was in his top three with two other schools to be named later. Michigan has a very good chance with Magnuson, and the fact that he moved his visit up to June is a really big deal for them. Just something to keep an eye on.
6'5", 220 lbs.
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania
Michigan already has a commitment for the 2013 class, so it's not too early to talk about it. Breneman is a 2013 prospect that already has offers from Alabama, Boston College, Maryland, Notre Dame, Rutgers, and now Michigan.
I hadn't heard anything from Michigan until last weekend when my coach informed me that they were coming to my school to offer me. I went to a game at the Big House with my family a couple years ago and was impressed. I'll decide soon if if's a place that I want to visit this summer. They'll definitely be a school that will get consideration.
It seems so early, but since he is already wracking up the offers he's already started in with his recruiting process and will evaluate schools this summer.
I don't want to say I'm going to narrow my list this summer, because I don't plan on doing that for some time. I am more going to decide which five to eight schools I want to visit. I want to learn more about some programs.
Plenty of time for Adam to figure everything out and it seems like Michigan is a place that intrigues him. We'll see if they get a visit or not.
In case you missed it last week, New York DB Wayne Morgan has moved his decision date to June 2nd instead of June 1st. There's no set time yet, but he plans on telling all the coaches of his decision first. I will hopefully have some film of Wayne from a camp this past weekend posted soon.
California DT Aziz Shittu is still committed to Stanford but told me there's a good chance he will still end up taking an official visit to Michigan.
Illinois OL Jordan Diamond tweeted that he will be moving his decision date up. He wants to take a few more visits, but has been canceling the most recent [Wisconsin & Auburn]. He told me it will likely come before his first game of the season. Michigan is in good shape.
A new name to potentially keep an eye on, and to go along with the offensive linemen theme is Oregon OL Isaac Seumalo (6'3", 280 lbs). Seumalo is good friends with Cali OL Erik Magnuson, and while he doesn't currently have an offer the Michigan coaches are aware of him. He is a four star and ranked 175th overall in the country by Rivals.
Upcoming visits include: New York DT Jarron Jones [I will have more on him next week] is planning a trip for June 10th, Ohio DB Allen Gant should be visiting in the next few weeks and that is something to keep an eye on, Illinois DB Anthony Standifer is trying to plan a visit in the next few weeks so his dad can make the trip. Ohio tandem Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford had to reschedule their visit from this past weekend. They haven't set the date yet.
Washington OL Joshua Garnett says he wants to take an official visit to Michigan.
If you missed last week's Weekly Update, you can find it here.
For the first time in approximately forever, the Wolverines do not have a new commit. Action since last rankings:
5-22-11 Indiana gains commitment from Dion Witty.
5-24-11 Indiana loses commitment from Dion Witty. Also: HALOL.
5-26-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from CJ Prosise.
5-27-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Deontay Greenberry.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Watchlist||24/7 Avg|
Rivals has released their initial rankings, so instead of watchlist guys, I'm going on the 5-star system for them. Remember, currently-unranked prospects by any service receive 1 star.
Full data after the jump.
|#1 Michigan - 12 Commits|
Michigan has the largest class in the league, and their averages will be helped bigtime when Rivals and 24/7 finally get around to ranking the rest of their prospects. Wolverines hoping for more commits very soon.
|#2 Ohio State - 7 Commits|
No change for Ohio State.
|#3 Penn State - 8 Commits|
No change for Penn State.
|#4 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
Though the Irish pick up two commits, they still have lower averages than Penn State, and inertia keeps them behind for now.
|#5 Wisconsin - 4 Commits|
No change for Wisconsin.
|#6 Minnesota - 3 Commits|
No change for Minnesota.
|#7 Northwestern - 4 Commits|
Wildcats barely ahead of Michigan State.
|#8 Michigan State - 4 Commits|
No change for MSU. Another instate prospect with a Spartan offer has picked Michigan.
|#9 Nebraska - 2 Commits|
|#10 Illinois - 2 Commits|
Nothing new for Illini.
|#11 Purdue - 1 Commit|
No change for the Boilers.
|#12-t Iowa - 1 Commit|
No change for Iowa.
The Hoosiers finally joined the commitment party, but Dion Witty decommitted within two days of pledging to Indiana.
The most recent tidbit from the Associated Press indicates that the battle over public records is just beginning to heat up. The AP noted that it received some public records in response to its requests, and as you could imagine they are fairly boring documents (performance reviews of Doug Archie, etc.). OSU also refused to turn over many other records and expressed its concern for student privacy. I have little doubt that the most problematic emails were not handed over to the AP.
The AP is one of many news organizations seeking public documents from the university. I’ve counted no less than five FOIA requests for Tressel and OSU Athletic Department emails (I say “FOIA” for simplicity’s sake, because in Ohio it’s the Open Records Act that applies to state bodies). Here’s the breakdown of the media organizations and the scope of their known FOIA requests:
- Yahoo Sports: phone and email records of Tressel and other OSU Athletic Department administrators
- Columbus Dispatch: emails between Tressel and Sarniak
- ESPN: according to Sportsbybrooks.com, these include Tressel emails
- Sports Illustrated: according to Sportsbybrooks.com, these include Tressel emails
And now we can add the Associated Press to the mix. As of now, it appears the AP is the first of these to receive any documents in response (although the rumors circulating about an impending story from Sports Illustrated might suggest that SI also received some responses to FOIA requests recently).
OSU's recent document production to the AP, although seemingly sparse, provides some insight into the battle over public documents that has quietly been brewing for months.
Takeaway #1: OSU has started producing documents
With the sort of comprehensive FOIA requests received by OSU months ago, a school does not respond immediately like it might for a simple request for a single document. Instead, it can take weeks or months for OSU to have IT personnel retrieve emails, and then have attorneys and administrators review them to see (1) if they are responsive to the request, (2) whether OSU is legally required to produce, and (3) what needs to be redacted.
What usually happens in highly charged situations like this is that the least interesting documents come out first. Then both sides (the school and the media) exchange nasty, threatening letters. If OSU doesn’t blink, then the media organization can file a lawsuit in Ohio state court if it believes it was improperly denied documents.
In the near term, I would expect more of these half-hearted document productions by the university. I would also expect more bland stories, based on documents produced by OSU, which are ultimately tangential to the heart of the unfolding controversy.
In the long term, well ... that depends on who wins the legal battle.
Takeaway #2: The battle is over student privacy
The Associated Press sought through a public records request any emails, notes or other information about the relationship between Jeannette, Pa., businessman Ted Sarniak and Pryor, who has been suspended for the first five games this fall for taking improper benefits from a Columbus tattoo-parlor owner.
In an email on Friday, Ohio State's Office of Legal Affairs declined to release the records because it said doing so would mean giving up information without the student's consent.
Over the last couple years, we’ve had discussions on this blog about how FOIA requests are affected by student privacy. The main law in question is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal statute that prevents schools, including universities, from revealing student information without the student’s consent. Like any statute, it contains exceptions and can be complex to apply to a given situation like the one at hand.
Ohio’s Open Records Act, like Michigan’s FOIA, states that you may not seek public records that are protected under FERPA, i.e. records that reveal personal information about an identifiable student (such as Terrelle Pryor). If you are able to redact the student’s name and release the document, and if the student is not identifiable through the context of the document, then you still must produce the document (assuming no other FOIA exception applies).
I wasn’t planning on doing an in-depth analysis of FERPA in this post, but suffice to say that one of the media’s biggest problems right now is that too much of the Tresselgate situation is already public. In many cases, an informed person would be able to determine, by looking at the context of a particular email, which student is involved.
As explained above, however, the answer on FERPA is by no means clear. The analysis would differ for each email. And after some searching, there are few, if any court opinions in Ohio to provide guidance on how the Open Records Act interacts with FERPA in the context of situations like this.
Takeaway #3: OSU is playing hardball
The general crappiness and irrelevance of the documents retrieved by the AP signals to me that OSU is handing over very little. The school is challenging the AP to keep fighting.
Takeaway #4: The fight will continue
The fact that the AP actually published a story about Doug Archie’s 2009 performance evaluation means that this topic is gold to the media. If this non-story gets major national press, imagine what the AP could expect from a story about Sarniak emails?
What to Expect from the Legal Battle
The major news organizations keep good counsel. They are national media who are not afraid to spend thousands of dollars on attorneys’ fees while chasing a front-page story. They will argue the ins and outs of FERPA and any other exceptions to which OSU is no doubt clinging for dear life.
There are a handful of attorneys (probably less than that) who work for big law firms, charge high fees, and specialize in getting public records from Ohio government bodies. They are very talented at their craft. They know the usual tricks, and they will employ all appropriate countermeasures if they have financial backing. I trust ESPN has enough $$$ to cover a retainer.
If it wanted to, Ohio State could probably string this FOIA deal along for several more months. If that happens, a court case will ensue, brought perhaps by a collection of media (to share the cost of legal fees), or possibly by the one or two most inclined to fight. A judge will probably view the records in his or her chambers to see if the exceptions apply. And then the court will make its ruling. Since this will most likely happen in state court in Columbus, one may wonder whether the elected judge will dare rule against OSU. But any ruling could be appealed to an higher court still within Ohio but with less localized sensitivities. Once again, more months of waiting.
In addition to the easily predictable media fallout from shady emails, here’s where it could get hairy for OSU. According to Gene Smith’s press conference when this news first broke, the university worked with the NCAA to conduct an expeditious one-month investigation into the Cicero emails. Naturally, it behooves OSU for the investigation to be quick, since it leaves more stones unturned. If OSU ever attempted to game the system, the game was to feign cooperation with the investigation but, in reality, drag its heels for one month and drain the clock.
What happens if OSU is forced to produce emails in response to the FOIA requests that its one-month investigation with the NCAA failed to discover? If you were the NCAA investigator on campus in February 2011, and you never ran across the “Sarniak forward,” wouldn’t you have been peeved when it splashed across the headlines? Wouldn’t you question whether Ohio State had really been forthcoming in its ostensibly cooperative investigation? And wouldn’t you then commence to drop the hammer?
Armageddon slowly but deliberately approaches the outskirts of Columbus. The truly juicy documents are still sitting on Gene Smith’s desk, and they may someday see the light of day. And guess what: in the wake of the auto dealership revelations, the Ray Small comments, and other details that have steadily trickled out, I have no doubt OSU’s stack of FOIA requests is growing by the week.
Edit: Follow-Up on Impending SI Article
Word on the street is that a game-changing Sports Illustrated article is coming out this Tuesday. My guess is that it doesn't include any public documents that are clear and standalone bombshells (like an email from Tressel to Gene Smith saying "Hey these kids are violating NCAA rules, but let's just cover it up"). I don't think OSU, even if it were to release such a document, would release it this soon.
My GUESS is that the article will be a mixture of traditional investigative journalism coupled with focused FOIA requests. These would have to be the type of requests that don't seem important to OSU (thus meaning that OSU had no problem turning them over), but combined with a comprehensive media investigation those documents provided important corroborating evidence and form part of a bigger mosaic.
Or maybe OSU was careless enough to turn over the bombshell email. Who knows? I'm excited though ...
Michigan now has 12 commitments in its 2012 football recruiting class, currently (by at least one measure) the top class in the Big Ten.
That #1 ranking is partly real, partly artificial. What’s real is that Brady Hoke has recruited some pretty good football players. What’s artificial is that no other Big Ten school has more than eight commits, and nine teams in the conference have four or fewer. That obviously won’t last.
When Michigan has 12 commits and Nebraska just 2, you can’t really say that Michigan is out-recruiting Nebraska. All you can say is that the Cornhuskers must not be particularly eager to get kids to commit this early. (I have no doubt that if the ’Huskers wanted them sooner, they could have them.)
The strategy of accepting so many early commitments has advantages and disadvantages. Clearly it tells the story that Hoke and his team are ace recruiters. When you haven’t coached a game yet, it’s about the only way you can show the world how good you are. It also makes positive news for a program that hasn’t had much of it lately. Nobody needs to be persuaded that great players will go to Nebraska. At Michigan, you couldn’t take that for granted anymore after three bad years.
Tactically, the strategy could push wavering players to commit sooner, fearing that if they don’t their spot in the class might at some point be no longer available. But the players you attract that way are probably not the very best ones. I never heard of a school that couldn’t find room for a five-star athlete (who was academically qualified). Obviously, every commitment takes the player away from other potential suitors, although only loosely, since other schools can still recruit the player between now and signing day.
It feels good to be cleaning Michigan State’s clock on the recruiting trail. But it also says a lot about the current state of Wolverine football that we even care. Five years ago, nobody worried about whether Michigan would have a better recruiting class than the perennial middle-tier team in East Lansing. It was simply a given—something like a sell-out at the Big House, that we hardly ever thought about, because it was expected.
The strategy could also have drawbacks. Michigan has made hundreds of offers for 2012, and it can accept no more than 20–25 (depending on the number of scholarships ultimately available). Every spot you fill early is a spot not available later on, either for players who don’t want to decide this early, or for players off the radar who might make a jump in their senior seasons. Likewise, players who look great based on junior-season film might regress as seniors.
It would be interesting to study whether there is any measurable advantage to accepting commitments early vs. waiting until the fall. A look through the Rivals database shows that there is a pretty wide variance among the elite programs. For instance, Alabama currently has 12 (same as Michigan), but Auburn has only 5. There are two widely different strategies there.
(I am assuming that no player with a chance at attending an elite program rushes to commit to Indiana or Vanderbilt, but that there are plenty who would eagerly commit at places like Auburn and Oregon, to the extent the coaches want them so soon.)
One would think, offhand, that you take the commitments of a four- and five-star kids whenever you can get them, since those players (when correctly rated) are the ones that usually go on to be multi-year starters, NFL draft picks, and so forth. That would also apply to the three-star or unrated kids whom you believe very strongly that the recruiting services got wrong. For a correctly-rated mid-level three-star, the advantages of getting an early commitment aren’t as clear. At that level, players are much more plentiful, and schools like Michigan should be more choosy.
I don’t claim to have the answer, nor am I uncomfortable with Hoke’s strategy. He’s a proven recruiter at places like Ball State and SDSU that are much harder to sell, and in the absence of more concrete data I’ll assume he’s getting it right. I do think it’s a point worthy of further research.
When Michigan fans hear Washington offensive lineman they typically think of 6-foot-9, 310-pound Zach Banner who has said he will take an official visit to Michigan. Banner, however, isn't the only highly touted lineman from Washington that has interest in Michigan.
Four star OL Joshua Garnett (6'5", 275 lbs) holds an offer from the Wolverines as well. Garnett also happens to be the 22nd overall prospect in the nation, which ranks higher than Banner at 31. Here's a look at Garnett's film and what he had to say about Michigan.
TOM: We haven't heard too much from you, is Michigan recruiting you?
JOSHUA: Yes, they are. Coach Ferrigno is recruiting me, he's a very nice guy and we talk quite often actually.
TOM: It's tough to gauge someone's interest when they live in Washington. Are you interested in Michigan?
JOSHUA: Yes, very much interested. Michigan has a great football tradition and is also one of the top academic schools in the nation.
TOM: Are you interested enough that you think you'll take a visit to Michigan?
JOSHUA: Yes definitely. It will most likely be an official visit.
TOM: From the sounds of that I assume that you'll be taking your time with your recruitment then? Do you have a plan on when you want to narrow things down?
JOSHUA: Yeah, I plan on taking my time. I'll most likely have it down to five before the season starts.
TOM: Since you said you want to take an official to Michigan does that mean that they will most likely make the top five? I understand this isn't 100%, but as of right now, most likely?
JOSHUA: Yes, that's correct.
TOM: Michigan isn't just a car ride away for you. Is distance going to factor in to this at all for you?
JOSHUA: Distance is definitely never an issue. I like to say that a plane ride is a plane ride whether it's two hours or six hours.
TOM: What's the main reason you're interested in Michigan? Did you grow up a fan?
JOSHUA: I have always wanted to play in that Michigan - Ohio State game. I think that is a big reason why I like Michigan. That game is probably the biggest in college football, and the rivalry is unexplainable.
TOM: That's an answer that Michigan fans will enjoy hearing. Since they probably haven't heard much on you can you explain what type of lineman you are?
JOSHUA: I'm a bullet, not a bowling ball. I'm very fast and explosive. I really use my agility to beat defensive linemen instead of just my strength.
Ohio DE Tom Strobel (6'5", 245 lbs) took a trip up to Ann Arbor this past weekend. Strobel has had his interest in MIchigan steadily rise the more and more visits he's taken. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say about the most recent trip.
TOM: Who came up to Ann Arbor with you this time, and what did you get to see?
STROBEL: I've been up there before for the spring game, but I went with both my parents this time. We got a small tour of campus and facilities. We talked to all the coaches.
TOM: I'm assuming that this visit gave you a better chance to actually get to know the coaches?
STROBEL: For sure, we got to sit down and talk with them. They talked about football and family mostly. We didn't really go over scheme or film. We really just talked about football here and there, it was honestly more about the person they want to come to Michigan. It was all about character. They said they want to get someone that fits as soon as possible. I told them I wasn't supposed to make a decision any time soon. I'm not sure exactly when I'll decide, sometime in the near future.
TOM: Since your parents were there what was the overall impression of the coaches for both you and your parents?
STROBEL: The coaches are very kind, respectful, and very personal too. They didn't really talk about football it was more about my mom and dad. They asked me about how I feel about academics, which I appreciated. It's nice not to talk football all the time. They just explained to us that they want to have that Michigan man.
TOM: Have you narrowed your list down yet, or started to?
STROBEL: I'm starting to narrow schools down now. Michigan's in the top with schools like Ohio State, Stanford, and Notre Dame. Academics are big for me.
TOM: Have you been out to see all of those schools yet?
STROBEL: The only places I haven't been are Stanford and Nebraska. I'm interested in Nebraska also.
TOM: What's the criteria to evaluate these schools? How will you narrow it down?
STROBEL: I look for the pros and cons in each school. I'll look at the facilities and the strength and conditioning coaches. I'll be spending most of my time with them so that's important. I want to get in depth with the core of the program, rather than all the bells and whistles. I want to see the food too, I want to see what kind of food I'll be eating. I also want to see what type of coaches they are at each school.
TOM: I have to ask, since you're from Ohio did you grow up an Ohio State fan?
STROBEL: I think everyone in Ohio is an Ohio State fan. I grew up a little Buckeye, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will affect my decision. I'm looking at this without the fan side in it.
TOM: Did you know anything about Michigan before your visits, other than they're the Buckeyes' rival?
STROBEL: I just knew that it was Michigan. To be honest I didn't expect much going there, but then when I got there it was just an eye opener. These visits are what got them in the top group.
TOM: What about any of the coaches? I know they're new to Michigan, but did you know anything about them?
STROBEL: I knew that Mattison had been at Baltimore, but it shows that he's going to be there and he's not going anywhere if he came from the pros. I don't want to be switching coaches constantly, so it makes a difference for a coach to be there the whole time.
TOM: How do you think your recruitment is going to play out? Do you have a timeline yet?
STROBEL: I'm not sure how it's going to pan out yet. I want to get out to Stanford and some other places. I'd like to get my official visits in, but we'll see.