Colorado offensive lineman Paul Thurston decided to take a trip out to Ann Arbor on Monday with his father. The 6-foot-5, 274-pound lineman took in Michigan's campus for the first time and told me about how the trip went. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: You're from Colorado, so it's not like this was a two hour car ride for you. What made you decide to visit Michigan so early?
PAUL: Well, we went up Monday and just got back today. I know Michigan, they're a big time program and the scholarship offers aren't going to be around forever. I thought it would be best to get over there and when things heat up I'll have already seen them and know what they're about.
TOM: You said when things start heating up. Does that mean you have a timeline for when you want to decide?
PAUL: Yeah, I'd like to do it before the season or during the season. So probably around July, August, or September is when I'll make my decision.
TOM: What did you know about Michigan before this visit, or what made you so interested in them?
PAUL: Probably the big time tradition they have there. These coaches I'm sure they'll get back to that again. When I got the offer it was definitely a place I was interested in.
TOM: Ok, so tell me about the trip then. What all did you get to see?
PAUL: It was my first time in Ann Arbor, and when we got there we went to the athletic complex. I met all the coaches, talked with Coach Hoke, talked with Coach Funk, and took a tour of the facilities. The next morning we got a tour of campus, saw the academic center, and we saw the Big House. That was pretty crazy. Then after that we talked to Coach Hoke again.
TOM: The Big House was crazy? How did it compare to other schools you've seen so far?
PAUL: Yeah, the Big House was crazy. You go to a place like Nebraska and they have a pretty big stadium, but then you walk on that field in the Big House and that place is huge. I was in there talking with some of the coaches about what it's like on gameday with all the fans.
TOM: You mentioned talking to the coaches, what were they talking to you about?
PAUL: They were telling me where I'd be playing, where I'd fit in, and where they stand. Talking with Coach Hoke he was able to tell me some things about the program, chat, and just get to know me.
TOM: Where did they tell you that they want you to play? Tackle or guard?
PAUL: Coach Funk said I'll probably go in and play left tackle. If I can play there, then good, if not then they might move me to guard or right tackle.
TOM: Your dad went with you on the trip, how did he feel about it?
PAUL: He really liked it. He said it's definitely a top place and a good place to go.
TOM: We talked about your timeline, but do you have any leaders at this point, or does anyone stick out to you so far?
PAUL: No, I don't really have any leaders yet. I'm coming back from all these visits and trying to get everything on paper. I think I'll take a couple more visits, I'm not sure where yet, but it's coming together slowly. We'll see who starts talking to me.
TOM: What are the most important aspects for you when you're evaluating a school?
PAUL: Some of the big things for me are a good weight program, if they can get me ready and get me ready to compete. If I like the coaches and my position coach, and how long the coaching staff will be there.
TOM: After this visit how do you think Michigan stands for you?
PAUL: They definitely fit all three things I'm looking for. I talked to the weight coach and he has everything I'm looking for. They were telling me that they don't plan on going anywhere either.
TOM: Was there anything that stuck out to you on the visit, or anything unique?
PAUL: Well, I actually got a call that I was selected to play in one of All American games while I was in Ann Arbor, so that's something I'll remember.
Mrohblue's MGoBoard question, "How long before Hoke has UM in BCS game??" has prompted me to post some data I previously compiled for personal satisfaction. I hope you will find it just as satisfying.
I am sure Michigan can/should pull off 10 wins this upcoming year, and it's not just because the Wolverines nearly pulled off 7 wins in 2008 while utilizing a 3rd string QB lining up behind one previously starting OL, throwing to one previously starting WR or TE, or handing off to one of 2 previously starting RBs; with depth being drawn from a team of less than 70 scholarship players. (Compare this to the 2011 offensive transition that will feature 4 of 5 OL starters and 4 of their 5 backups, the top 8 WR, top 5 RB, top TE, and the nation's most dangerous QB... all from a top 5 Offense from the year 2010.)
Look to Mr. Rittenberg's list of Big Ten returning starters for 2011 to get a general overview of the Big Ten's experience gap. Our beloved Wolverines are the most experienced group in the Big Ten, returning 20. Of note, the 4 programs on our 2011 schedule who are/will be traditional favorites to finish among the conference's top half include MSU, Iowa, Neb, and OSU. This traditionally difficult block of teams return only 13, 10, 12, and 13 starters, respectively. Also of note, we will have our hands full with ND and NW who return 18 and 17 starters, respectively. (That assumes that Brian Kelly's competitive mean-streak translates to Michael Floyd being magically available for Michigan's first home night-game.)
But when looking at whether a team will be the hammer or the nail, the proverbial hammer's head is the Offensive front 6 (OL and TE) or the Defensive front 7 (DL and LB.) Looking at what Wisconsin's 2010 OL was able to accomplish against a young Michigan DL (especially after they purposefully took Mike Martin out of the game) is a great example of experienced big uglies taking (talented) newbies to task. That Wiscy OL featured 2 Sr, 3 RS-Jr, and a So.
Who will we hammer this year?
|OL / TE||D Front 7||DL||LB|
As you can see, no one has a clear experential advantage over Michigan in the trenches this year. Not only does Michigan return more total starters than any of its foes, 10 of our returning starters are trenchmen perfectly balanced across the O and D.
By the Numbers:
The teams who will give our offensive Front 6 a challenge: Notre Dame, Minnesota, Purdue, the Illini, and Nebraska.
The teams to challenge our defensive Front 7: SDSU, NW and the Illini. Of course, ND, Purdue and OSU all return a respectable 4 out of 6 on the offensive front line.
Note that only ND, Purdue and the Illini are on both of those lists.
WMU, MSU and Iowa will all be overrun by winged helmets on both sides of the ball. That's RBs stuffed, QBs with no time to breathe, and our RBs unleashing an absolute Denarding. EMU will be able to at least rely on its lines to keep the game closer than it should be, and SDSU brings back some real talent on the offensive side of the ball but a very weak-looking defense - posing the threat of a shoot-out. But those 5 games should be our gimmes. We have a heavy advantage on either O or D against Minnesota, Nebraska, and Ohio State (and are not outgunned on the other side of the ball) = 3 more wins. The Illini return a lot along the lines, but only 3 total starters behind the lines. Win. Our nastiest games will be Notre Dame, NW, and Purdue who each return solid lines in addition to a solid number of skill players behind the lines.
I am only sweating ND, SDSU, NW and the Nebraska/OSU 2-week finale. Four of those are home games. Beat Notre Dame, and we are on our way to a 10-win season. Lose to them, and our second Big Ten game (Northwestern - away) becomes the lynchpin to making a BCS berth. We need 3 out of 5 of these "sweat games." I like our chances.
**Edit: According to Scout.com's listing of WMU's returning starters there are 3 returning along the O-line/TE (including our very-own-former Dan O'Neill)and 7 (!) returning along the D-Front-7. That's a massive difference from ESPN's reporting of 2 and 4. They are one of the more experienced trench-teams we will see this season... I'm going to have to go back through Scout's analyses and see if there are any other examples of ESPN's poor reporting skills.
The Rivals top 100 came out yesterday and there seemed to be a lot of confusion about the lack of midwest prospects. The complete 250 rankings are now out and it's looking a little more balanced. Here's a look at the top 250 prospects that Michigan is still in on with a little commentary as well.
|Overall Ranking||Position & Name||State||Star Ranking||Summary|
|#1||WR Dorial Green Beckham||MO||5 Star||Without an elite QB like Zeke Pike in this class don't get your hopes up.|
|#4||DT Eddie Goldman||DC||5 Star||Goldman still lists Michigan as a school of interest, but there won't be much to go on until he visits.|
|#6||DT Ellis McCarthy||CA||5 Star||McCarthy has expressed interest in Michigan, but I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed on the west coast.|
|#8||WR Stefon Diggs||MD||5 Star||Michigan is still in the conversation, but until he visits there might not be a lot to go off of.|
|#13||DE Noah Spence||PA||5 Star||Spence lists Michigan as a school of interest, but it will take a lot for them to reel him in.|
|#15||OL Andrus Peat||AZ||5 Star||Andrus' brother Todd committed to Nebraska in the 2011 class. I would be surprised if he picked Michigan.|
|#19||QB Gunner Kiel||IN||5 Star||Kiel took a visit to Michigan recently. He's very quiet as far as media attention. I have a feeling a school like Oklahoma has a good shot with him.|
|#28||OL Kyle Murphy||CA||4 Star||Murphy has expressed a lot of interest in Michigan. They have a decent shot, but again I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed on the west coast.|
|#29||DT Tommy Schutt||IL||4 Star||Schutt hasn't mentioned Michigan in awhile. If they can get him to visit they might have a chance, but it looks like they're on the outside for now.|
|#31||OL Zach Banner||WA||4 Star||Banner has expressed a lot of interest in Michigan, and plans on taking an official.|
|#32||WR Durron Neal||MO||4 Star||Just received a Michigan offer, we'll see how much interest he has.|
|#34||OL Erik Magnuson||CA||4 Star||Magnuson is very interested in Michigan, they have a good shot.|
|#37||ATH Devin Fuller||NJ||4 Star||Fuller has been relatively quiet lately, but he has maintained that he will visit Michigan in the summer. We'll know more once that happens.|
|#45||OL Jordan Simmons||CA||4 Star||Simmons has a lot of interest in Michigan. He's taking things slow for now. He has genuine interest in Michigan, but I wouldn't be surprised if he stayed out west.|
|#48||DE Ifeadi Odenigbo||OH||4 Star||Odenigbo has Michigan on the outside of his top group that includes Ohio State, Stanford, and Notre Dame. He plans on taking a visit to Ann Arbor in June, so we'll see if that changes anything.|
|#55||RB Keith Marshall||NC||4 Star||Marshall has Michigan in his top ten, but I believe he'll end up staying down south.|
|#60||DE Tyriq McCord||FL||4 Star||Just received a Michigan offer. I haven't spoken to him yet about where he's at.|
|#61||DE Se'von Pittman||OH||4 Star||Pittman has expressed interest in Michigan, and it seems like there's a shot.|
|#65||DB Deon Bush||FL||4 Star||Early on Bush had expressed some big time interest in Michigan, but it seems like that's slowed down. I wouldn't be surprised to see him stay in Florida.|
|#67||DT Jarron Jones||NY||4 Star||Jones is committed to PSU, but recently told an ESPN analyst that he still plans on visiting Michigan in the summer.|
|#72||QB Zeke Pike||KY||4 Star||I'll just keep him on here because it's not signing day yet.|
|#74||ATH DJ Foster||AZ||4 Star||DJ just received a Michigan offer. Oregon is probably his early leader, but he said he would like to visit Michigan.|
|#86||DE Adolphus Washington||OH||4 Star||Washington recently told me that he's wide open and really likes what the Michigan coaches are about. He'll be a package deal with teammate WR Dwayne Stanford. Ohio State may be tough to beat.|
|#88||DE Greg McMullen||OH||4 Star||Ohio State will be tough to beat for Greg as well. Anything can happen though with the NCAA investigation looming.|
|#93||WR Dwayne Stanford||OH||4 Star||Same situation as Adolphus Washington.|
|#96||WR Jordan Payton||CA||4 Star||Committed to USC, but will be taking looks at other schools. Michigan is a school that he really wanted to hear from.|
|#103||OL Max Tuerk||CA||4 Star||He spoke very highly of Michigan, and it seems like they have a shot. It's California though so he may end up staying closer to home.|
|#124||RB Bri'onte Dunn||OH||4 Star||Fresh off a visit to Michigan, Dunn is watching the NCAA investigation very closely at OSU. There's a lot that could happen here.|
|#130||OL Evan Boehm||MO||4 Star||Says he has interest in Michigan and would like to make it up for a visit. Until then I wouldn't get excited.|
|#134||WR Aaron Burbridge||MI||4 Star||Burbridge was just in Ann Arbor with now Michigan commits Devin Funchess, Mario Ojemudia, and James Ross. He will be back up with his mother within two weeks. He'll be choosing between Michigan and MSU. Michigan has a real shot.|
|#136||ATH Davonte Neal||AZ||4 Star||The Michigan coaches stopped in Scottsdale to check out Davonte this past week. No offer yet, which is surprising. I think he'll end up staying out west.|
|#137||OL Paul Thurston||CO||4 Star||Thurston actually just took a trip to Ann Arbor. I think Michigan has a very good chance here.|
|#139||DB Wayne Morgan||NY||4 Star||Morgan's coach has told me that Michigan and Rutgers are at the top of Wayne's list. Michigan has been making a surge, and I wouldn't be surprised if they have taken the lead over the hometown Scarlet Knights.|
|#140||DT Jaleel Johnson||IL||4 Star||Johnson was just offered by Michigan and plans to visit relatively soon. He's starting to gain some attention from Ohio State. I think Michigan has a real chance here.|
|#152||OL Kyle Dodson||OH||4 Star||Dodson has seen his recruitment take off with offers from Alabama and Auburn recently. He still maintains that Michigan is one of his top schools. I think they have a good chance.|
|#184||RB Greg Garmon||PA||4 Star||Garmon should be visiting Michigan in the next couple weeks. They are in the top three with UNC and Penn State, but I think Michigan is behind both.|
|#187||DB Armani Reeves||MA||4 Star||Reeves will be narrowing his list down soon, but has said that Michigan will be right in there. I think he has some schools in mind that stick out, and I also think Michigan is in pretty good standing right now.|
|#191||OL Shane Callahan||CO||4 Star||Callahan has mentioned Michigan as one of his favorites, and I think there's a good shot here.|
|#194||WR Amara Darboh||IA||4 Star||Darboh has told me that he's intrigued by Michigan, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him pick elsewhere.|
|#195||DB Terry Richardson||MI||4 Star||Terry could be deciding as early as next week. With his friends on board Michigan has a really good shot.|
|#209||OL Jordan Diamond||IL||4 Star||Diamond has been public with how he feels about Michigan. He plans on taking his time with everything, but Michigan is in great shape.|
|#222||DT Danny O'Brien||MI||4 Star||There's been a lot of questions about Danny lately and where he's at with Michigan. I think Michigan has backed off of him a little bit, but I'm not sure why.|
|#231||DT Tom Strobel||OH||4 Star||Strobel has said he wants to visit Michigan. If he does then they have a shot. Ohio State might be tough to beat.|
|#242||OL JJ Denman||PA||4 Star||Denman has Michigan in his top group and has said he really likes Michigan. I think they have a good shot with JJ.|
|#246||DT Ondre Pipkins||MO||4 Star||Pipkins really likes Michigan, has connections with former Michigan players, and still has relatives living there. Michigan has a very good chance with Ondre.|
By my count that's 45 prospects in the top 250 that Michigan is recruiting and has somewhat of a chance with. Before you ask, yes I'm surprised that Chris Wormley isn't in the top 250. That seems weird.
I think Michigan has a realistic chance with a good amount of these top 250 players. Among those are:
DT Ondre Pipkins, OL JJ Denman, OL Jordan Diamond, DB Terry Richardson, OL Shane Callahan, DB Armani Reeves, OL Kyle Dodson, DT Jaleel Johnson, DB Wayne Morgan, OL Paul Thurston, WR Aaron Burbridge, OL Erik Magnuson, and OL Zach Banner.
When last we left our beloved Wolverines, they had wrapped up a 3rd undefeated regular season in the past 4 years, and were getting ready to gear up for the CCLA Conference tournament. On the line at the tournament was the Conference Championship, and The #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament.
So, this wasn't much of a contest. Michigan is a lot better than Central Michigan in pretty much every way, and it showed on the scoreboard. The Wolverines emerged 23-1 victors over the Chips - who are in up-and-coming program.
If you want more details on the game, check them out here.
This was a much better contest. In fact, I'd go so far as to say Michigan's 11-10 thriller over the Spartans was one of the most exciting Michigan Lacrosse games I've seen in the past three years or so.
The Wolverines built up an 8-4 lead in the second quarter, but Michigan State managed to capitalize on a couple broken rides (essentially a full-court press), and knot the game at 10 late in the third quarter. However, with just seconds to go in the frame, Trevor Yealy put in the 11th goal, and the teams were scoreless throughout the fourth (despite up-and-down play and several exciting moments).
The game featured the standard chippiness of a rivalry, plus a semi-brawl on the sidelines that lasted 30-some seconds.
For more on the State game, click here.
Going forward, Michigan has earned the #1 overall seed in the MCLA National Tournament. They'll take on #16 Seed Lindenwood in Denver on Tuesday the 17th at 4PM Mountain Time. The Lions earned a tournament berth by virtue of winning the GRLC Playoff.
Should seedings hold throughout, Michigan would face Oregon in the second round. The Wolverines beat Oregon in overtime in a neutral-site game earlier this season. The semifinal opponent would be Chapman, again a past Michigan victim this season. In the finals, Michigan would face Colorado State who, you guessed it, they've already beaten this season. The full bracket is here:
Michigan is the overwhelming favorite in what should be their last MCLA Tournament...
(They call that a segue, kids). Though there hasn't been much movement since the initial Inside Lacrosse report a couple weeks back, all the evidence seems to point in the direction of Michigan plying its trade as an NCAA Varsity team in the spring of 2012.
A couple interesting statements happened following the CCLA Tournament that lead me to believe everything is still on track. First, when presenting Michigan Coach John Paul with the conference championship trophy, the announcer said something along the lines of: "probably for the last time ever, Michigan wins the CCLA Trophy." JP played it cool when accepting the trophy, but certainly wasn't in a hurry to deny anything. Following the game, the official @UMichLacrosse twitter account dropped the following:
"Michigan finishes FINAL MCLA regular season with a 103-2 all-time record in CCLA competition."
While it may seem (or ultimately be) inconsequential, it is the first public statement from any official, on-record source that something is definitely going to happen for next season. For the record, Michigan Athletic Director David Brandon was in attendance at Saturday's victory over Central Michigan.
I'm covering the hell out of this story over at GreatLaxState.com, so if you're into every minute detail, check out my posts over there.
Mods please move if not diary worthy
Yesterday in Rescue_Dawn's Recruiting Map diary, someone commented that they hoped we wouldn't get to the point of having an interactive Google map for our recruiting... We just did.
I read the comment and thought it was a cool idea, so I got to work. Being fresh out of school and not really having much of a life outside of work, I had the spare time. I came up with a rough draft for the map yesterday, and today I have made some major updates to make the map a more powerful tool for tracking recruiting. Features for the map originally included:
- Interactive Google map with interest points at each recruit's location
I have revamped it to now be a community-supported tool. New features include:
- A list of links to recruits to help easier locate one particular recruit on the map
- Updated geocoding caches... Hopefully will make markers more accurate
- The ability for anyone to propose updates to existing recruit
- The ability for anyone to propose new recruits
- Email confirmation of approved changes or disapproved changes with reasoning
- List of recent contributors
- New additional info field for linking to articles, highlight videos, other info, etc.
Any changes proposed will be moderated by me. I will not be verifying the data in the proposed changes, per se, this is just really to avoid system abuse.
What I need from people here is to look at the map and test it out. There are a lot of aesthetic things that need to be changed (I got numerous ideas yesterday, thanks to everyone!), but I chose to focus more on functionality, and even then I am sure there is plenty out there that could still break (there is a lot of data-validation that needs to be done eventually). If you have any ideas that would make this more user friendly, or if you notice something break, let me know and I will get to fixing it!
I think with everyone's help it could turn into a pretty neat community recruiting tool.
To get started in adding info to recruits, click the Click to Contribute button in the upper-right (can be hard to see).
I hope everyone finds it useful and I look forward to getting some feedback!
Deep Under Cover
This weekend ended up being a huge deal for Michigan recruiting. Not only did they secure commitments from Pharaoh Brown and Mario Ojemudia, but they got instate receiver Aaron Burbridge and Ohio State commit Bri'onte Dunn to visit as well. Here's a look at what Dunn thought of his trip, what may be happening in the near future, and thoughts from a few other prospects.
6'2", 215 lbs.
While Dunn is still committed to Ohio State he has been public about his desire to visit Michigan for some time. The Michigan coaches impressed him when they offered him, and there has been some sort of interest ever since. The recent happenings with Ohio State and the NCAA have gotten the Dunn's attention, and they have said they will continue to monitor what happens in Columbus. I spoke with both Bri'onte and his father after the trip to Ann Arbor. Here's what his father had to say first.
[The visit] went pretty good. They showed us around, we went through the stadium, and basically went around the whole campus. We got a good welcome in there. The head coach, Brady Hoke, wasn't there but we were talking to the rest of the coaches.
They told him he fits in their offense and that they want a back his size. They need a running back. We went up here because he wanted to go to a few places to get the experience. It's just been all Ohio State, so he wanted to look around a little bit. You always have to have a backup plan, too. It was a good trip, though, and his cousin [2013 DB] Dymonte Thomas schooled him on it after he went up there. They've talked about going to school together too.
Both Bri'onte and his father didn't really want to let out too much about the visit or where he stands on either side. Here's the limited amount that Bri'onte was willing to say.
It was better than I expected. They showed us around a lot and explained all the schooling stuff to us. They were good people, they seem like I could build a relationship with them. I'm just looking around right now, I'm still committed to Ohio State.
Like I said, Bri'onte didn't want to put too much out there yet. He wasn't comfortable answering a few of my tougher questions about his situation. I think a lot of this will depend on what happens with the NCAA investigation. I also think that this is just the start of a courtship, and I wouldn't expect anything to happen anytime soon. Either way, it's a positive for Michigan to get him on campus and put a face to a name with the coaches.
6'1", 178 lbs
Standifer had been told he was close to a Michigan offer a few weeks back. One of the Michigan coaches was out to see him in person this week, and Anthony was given an offer based on his performance. Things could start moving pretty rapidly for him now that the offer is official.
I have very very strong interest in Michigan. Me and my mom and dad are going to sit down and figure everything out, but I'll be visiting on Thursday [May 12th]. I was just excited and at a loss for words when they offered. I feel very thankful and appreciative for the offer. Michigan is at the top of my list.
He says he has very strong interest, but isn't sure when he wants to make his final decision.
I haven't been down there yet to see much, but I love the stadium and just the football atmosphere there. They told me that I'm a Michigan corner and that they want size, and to get down there ASAP.
I'm not saying it will for sure happen, but I believe there is a chance that Anthony could pull the trigger on his visit. He seemed excited but unsure of what he wanted to do. If the trip goes well don't be surprised if he makes the call on the spot. Before you ask, this wouldn't have any affect on the recruitment of any other defensive backs, including Terry Richardson.
6'3", 195 lbs.
Gilmore is a prospect that has been a little on the quiet side lately. He holds a Michigan offer as well as Arizona State, Duke, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Utah, and Washington. Despite living in California Gilmore says he has serious interest in Michigan.
[Michigan] is definitely a school I'm interested in. I mean we don't really hear that much about them out here, so to learn more about the program and school would be great. I know they have a rich tradition and good academics, it's a huge program. They have been down for awhile, but the new head coach that they have I'm sure is going to turn it around.
Gilmore wasn't positive but he had thought that Brady Hoke offered him previously while at San Diego State. While GIlmore does like Michigan, it's still early in the process for him.
I'm still taking everything in right now. I want to get out and take my visits and then I will start to narrow down the schools. I've been hearing from Cal, UCLA, and Northwestern lately, so we'll see. I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but I will be seriously considering Michigan in all this.
Gilmore holds a Michigan offer, but since he wants to take his time, I'm not sure how it will play out for him.
The commitment of Mario Ojemudia has increased Michigan's chances with his teammate, WR Aaron Burbridge. If they put the full court press on Burbridge they have a chance at landing him.
Instate DE Matt Godin is announcing this Thursday the 12th. He's down to Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin. His announcement will be public, so you'll know.
A lot of people were asking if the commitment from Pharaoh Brown and Mario Ojemudia would have any affect on Chris Wormley or Matt Godin, and the answer is no. Brown and Ojemudia are weakside ends, and Michigan is recruiting Godin and Wormley for the strong side. They will take all four if they fall that way.
Illinois DT Jaleel Johnson was offered this week. I believe Michigan has a good chance with Johnson.
Arizona ATH DJ Foster was offered this week. He has interest in Michigan, but they will need to get him on campus before any serious interest could happen. Oregon is the likely early leader.
[Ed: Chatter on twitter is that MI CB Terry Richardson may be announcing soon; hopefully "Roll Tide Nation" is just a tweak directed at Ross and RJS. Also, the Rivals 100 is out. RJS is the only state of Michigan player in the top 100 at #87.]