Defensive tackle is one of the holes that hasn't been filled yet for Michigan, which makes Darian Cooper one of the most important recruits left on the board. Up to even a few weeks ago it seemed like Cooper wasn't going to entertain the idea of even visiting Michigan. The new coaching staff made him a priority and convinced him to visit this past weekend. Michigan has now moved into his top four with MSU, Iowa, and Georgia Tech. Here's his film, and what he had to say about the visit.
TOM: Tell me from the start what you guys did.
DARIAN: We got there at five on Friday, and we went and ate dinner at the Big House. After that I hung out with some of the players, we hung out with Josh Furman, Patrick (Omameh). We got to meet all the players and we played some video games.
TOM: Was Saturday more the business side of it then?
DARIAN: Yeah, Saturday was more the academic side of it. My mom and little brother were with me, and we spent a few hours with the Dean of business. They went over what a degree means from Michigan and the overall academics there.
TOM: That's usually what parents care the most about, did your mom come away impressed with that?
DARIAN: Their degree ranks 15th in the nation, so it's hard not to be impressed with that. My mom doesn't care so much about the football side. She wants there to be stability with the coaching staff. Football is football, you line up and the objectives are all the same, so she's worried about the other parts.
TOM: I'm assuming you also met with the coaches, Coach Hoke and Mattison, on Saturday. What did they have to say?
DARIAN: They were talking to me about my role on the defense. For the past few years their strength has been offense, and they were telling me that they're defensive minded coaches and they want to bring that defense back. They're putting an emphasis on defense now.
TOM: What did they say as far as your role in the defense, what's their pitch to you?
DARIAN: They were telling me it's a great opportunity to play early. My freshman year, Coach Mattison said I would be a relief for Mike Martin on the field. They would work me into a nickel package, and a third down rushing defensive tackle. Playing is good, I don't really care what my role is as long as I get to play.
TOM: You went from not wanting to visit Michigan, to now potentially having them in your top group when you decide. Did this visit help Michigan even more?
DARIAN: Michigan moved up in my mind, definitely. I'm really focusing on my experience with the players at each school. Buildings are buildings, but it's all about the people in the place not the bricks that have been laid.
TOM: Was there anything that really stuck out to you that was different from other visits?
DARIAN: It was an official visit, so everything's going to be great. What I liked was that they didn't take me to the most expensive restaurant that I'll never eat at again, which was interesting. They took me to the training table and told me everything that was real, and this is how you'd live here. They didn't try to sell me with stuff that wasn't going to be how it was there. I liked that part.
TOM: Where do you go from here?
DARIAN: Most likely make my decision on signing day. I'll sit down with my mom, and make my decision.
This was the last weekend before Signing day and Michigan still has some big name recruits left on their board. Four star Texas tight end Chris Barnett was a little late to the party, but he's at a position of need for Michigan. With this visit Chris will now have to decide between staying committed to Arkansas, or choosing Miami or Michigan instead.The coaches went out and convinced the Arkansas commit to come up and experience what Michigan had to offer. Here's his film, and what he had to say about the visit.
TOM: Tell me about the visit. When did you get there, and how did it go?
CHRIS: We got there Friday afternoon. We went through Schembechler Hall on a mini tour first. When the rest of the recruits got there we went out to eat and hung out with our hosts. The next morning we went through an academic tour, position meetings, we met with the AD, took a tour of the stadium, took a tour of Ann Arbor, and walked through the campus a little bit. We went to dinner later on and then hung out with our hosts again.
TOM: You mentioned your hosts, who was your host?
CHRIS: I had multiple hosts. I had Kevin Koger, Patrick Omameh, Junior Hemingway, and Devin Gardner. I met Darryl Stonum from Texas too.
TOM: What was it like hanging out with the players? Did you feel like you were comfortable with them?
CHRIS: The players have been through a lot together. The only thing that's been consistent with them is each other. They've been through coaching changes and everything. When they introduce themselves, they don't say this is my friend or this is my homeboy, they say this is my brother he plays quarterback. They're not associates, they're family. This is how close they are. We were about to go to Kevin Koger's apartment, we walked in and there was already three players there before Kevin even was. He just walked in and it was cool, it was fine that they were there. We went to someone else's house and we just walked right in. I haven't seen anything like that on any of my other trips.
TOM: Outside of the players, what about the coaches, what did they talk to you about?
CHRIS: They basically talked about the system that they were carrying over from San Diego State. They need guys that are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to play. They were really honest and open that it wasn't going to be easy, it was going to be hard, but it would be rewarding in the end and the long run. They talked about the things they expect from their players, the three strike rule they have, and what they expect out of them.
TOM: Was that a good thing for you? Is discipline something you like in a coach?
CHRIS: It was great to hear that because you want them to be your coaches, but you also want to have someone that's there for you and they really seemed like they care about their players. It wasn't about them. I think you need discipline because that's how you grow as a person and player, with discipline and structure.
TOM: What about the academic side, you mentioned you took an academic tour. Did that have any impact on you?
CHRIS: Yeah, it was crazy. I went up there with my cousin, and we knew they were good but (a Michigan) degree is something like 14th overall in the country. They rank right up there around Yale and Harvard. They talked a little about how the athlete weighs in and how it's easy for you to connect with people later in life, too.
TOM: What did this visit do for Michigan? Did it help them out, how is everything going to play out for you?
CHRIS: I was amazed by a lot of things. It's going to be interesting. We're going to go back and weigh the pro's and cons and my emotions with these programs. We'll figure out what's best for me. I'm going to look at if the school has connections, will my degree mean more coming from that school, it's going to be a tough choice. I've been that guy so far that makes my decision with emotions and got caught up in the glitz of everything. I'm in a stable place now, and I'm not just looking at that stuff. I want to sit down and weigh everything out.
TOM: There was talk that you would wait until after signing day to decide, is that the case?
CHRIS: Yeah, I'll probably sign on Friday or Saturday. I just want to take myself out of the emotions for awhile, and away from everything. Sit down weigh everything out and then make my decision.
Michigan Men's Lacrosse has captured the last thee national titles in the MCLA, the highest level of club lacrosse in the country. They begin their quest to make it an unprecedented 4-peat tonight at 6:00PM in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, with a pre-season scrimmage against Division 1 squad Bellarmine.
Let's look at the personnel.
Key Returners: Mark Stone (HM AA, 2nd Conf), Andrew Fowler
Losses: Conor McGee
Mark Stone and Andrew Folwer split time in net almost equally in 2009, and though Fowler missed some time with a leg injury, he got the start in the MCLA Championship game. Last year, however, Stone took over as the #1 keeper, playing almost twice as many minutes as Fowler, and posting a slightly better save percentage (.609 to .595) overall.
This season, look for Stone to be the starter again - and increased performance out of both main keepers in their senior years. Sophomore Cy Abdelnour is the third option, as Conor McGee has transferred to UVa.
Key Returners: Harry Freid (1st AA, 1st Conf), Austin Swaney (2nd Conf), Justin Burgin (3rd Conf).
Losses: Zach Mueller, Theo Lederfine Paskal, Bob Diehl.
Newcomers: Dakota Sherman, Pat Stansik, Jake Dockser.
Harry Freid enters his senior year after back-to-back First-Team All-American seasons, and he's been named to the MCLA's all-decade team. He's the key player in the Wolverines' defensive corps, and will probably spend next spring playing a year of Division-1 lacrosse.
Austin Swaney is the team's #2 defenseman. His athleticism and instincts are the keys to his success. The starting unit could be rounded out by either Pat Stansik or Justin Burgin, though Burgin is coming off an injury. Stansik is a big, intimidating defenseman, and Burgin excels going up the field in transition.
JD Johnson, Dakota Sherman, and Paul Hegeman should also get some good playing time in a very deep defensive unit.
Key Returners: Matt Asperheim (3rd AA, 1st Conf).
Losses: Anthony Hrusovsky (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Jordan Kirshner (3rd AA, 1st Conf), David Rogers (2nd Conf), Svet Tintchev (2nd Conf), Michael Bartomioli (HM Conf), Jamison Goldberg (HM Conf).
The midfield is the hardest-hit unit by graduation, with only senior Long-Stick Matt Asperheim returning among players who received All-American or All-Conference honors. Asperheim is an important part of the team's defensive play, but also has great stick skills, and can score.
The other starters of Michigan's defensive midfield have graduated, so Jordan Kirshner and Michael Bartomioli (now an assistant at Michigan's Feb. 19th opponent Florida) will need to be replaced. Sean Sutton should be one of the starters, but the other is still up in the air, with Rob Healy a strong contender.
Michigan also lost a lot from their offensive midfield units, with #5 scorer Svet Tintchev out the door, along with #7 Anthony Hrusovsky, #9 Jamison Goldberg, and #10 David Rogers. Young players such as Joey Hrusovsky will have to step up, and don't be surprised if the Wolverines have more 2-way midfielders this season.
Key Returners: Edward Ernst, Harrison Silver
Losses: David Reinhard (1st AA, 1st Conf)
David Reinhard was a huge part of Michigan's success over the past two years, as the diminutive faceoff specialist won nearly 70% of his draws, helping the Wolverines dominate possession against all competition. With Reinhard out the door, it's up to junior Edward Ernst to carry the torch at the faceoff X.
Ernst actually performed better overall (80.6 win percentage), though most of his attempts came late in games, and especially against lesser competition. He'll have to step up his game for Michigan to control possession like they have the past few years.
Key Returners: Trevor Yealy (1st AA, 1st Conf), Thomas Paras (2nd Conf)
Losses: Kevin Zorovich (2nd AA, 1st Conf), Josh Ein (HM Conf), Clark McIntyre (HM Conf)
Though Michigan's #3, 4, and 6 scorers from last year have graduated, the Michigan offense still has its most important piece in Trevor Yealy. The senior captain has been a deadly finisher on the crease the last three years, with a mind-numbing 77 goals last year alone - compared to a grand total of 2 assists. This year, he should play a more versatile role, including out on the wing. Even if his scoring production drops, it will be for the betterment of the team on the whole.
Michigan's #2 scorer from last year, Thomas Paras, should be improved in his second year in the program. Since the Wolverines lost two lefties (Zorovich and Ein), the addition of St. John's transfer Ryan-Dutton O'Hara (HT: UMGoBlog) is important. He's a big attackman with good finishing ability.
The Wolverines may have scoring spread more throughout the roster, so keep an eye on Chad Carroll, who's new to the team after not playing lacrosse the last couple years, and freshman jitterbug Jeff Chu.
Last year's home lineup consisted of a meager four games, but that's paid forward to 2011, with 8 home contests, including 2010 tournament teams Florida, BYU, Boston College, Colorado State, and Arizona State (last year's runner-up). I break it down into about 4 parts:
Jan. 29, 6:00PM
NCAA Division-1, 9-6 in 2010
Feb. 4, 7:30PM
NCAA Division-3, 10-5 in 2010
Feb 12, 7:00PM
NCAA Division-3, 6-8 in 2010
Early Season/Road Trip
Feb. 19, 7:00PM
SELC, 12-4 in 2010 (First Round MCLA Tournament)
Feb. 25, 6:00PM. Los Angeles, CA
PNCLL, 10-5 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
@ Loyola Marymount
Mar. 2, 3:00 PM. Los Angeles, CA
SLC, 13-5 in 2010
Mar. 5, 1:00 PM. Orange, CA
SLC, 16-3 in 2010 (MCLA Final Four - Lost to Michigan)
Mar. 12, 2:00 PM. Athens, OH
CCLA East, 11-2 NCLL in 2010
The Home Stand
Mar. 18, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 12-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round - Lost to Michigan)
Mar. 19, 7:00 PM
CCLA East, 5-10 in 2010
Mar. 25, 7:00 PM
PCLL, 11-3 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
Mar. 26, 7:00 PM
SLC, 10-6 in 2010
Apr. 1, 7:00 PM
RMLC, 17-2 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament Second Round)
Apr. 2, 7:00 PM
SLC, 16-4 in 2010 (MCLA Runners-up - Lost to Michigan)
Apr. 9, 7:00 PM
GRLC, 8-7 in 2010
The Home Stretch
Apr. 16, 7:00 PM. Birmingham Seaholm HS
CCLA, 10-6 in 2010 (MCLA Tournament First Round)
Apr. 23, 7:00 PM. Toledo, OH
CCLA East, 8-6 NCLL in 2010
May 5-7 Saline, MI
May 17-21 Denver, CO
Michigan's recipe for success over the past few years has been to dominate possession, owning the faceoff X and riding opponents into turnovers to hold on to the ball much more than the opposition.
Michigan's biggest question mark this year, then, will be on faceoffs. In the one-on-one battle at midfield, they need to have Edward Ernst step up to continue the formula that's brought them such success. Ernst has David Reinhard, last year's All-American specialist, teaching and competing with him in practice (just like Reinhard had with Brekan Kohlitz a couple years back), so he should be able to step up.
Other than faceoff, Michigan's top-end talent and depth are both exceptional. Plugging Division-1 transfers into holes created by graduation is not a luxury all club programs have, and the Wolverines have some of the best coaching in the MCLA as well.
It's likely, unless there are some early-season stumbles, that Michigan will be favored - and often heavily so - in every game this year. They've earned it by losing only one game in the past 3 years, and refusing to ever rebuild, but always reload. It doesn't hurt to have the runaway favorites for MCLA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year on your squad, either.
If you're looking to make it out to just a couple games, I recommend tonight's scrimmage, as Bellarmine is a D-1 opponent, and the back-to-back home games against Colorado State and Arizona State.
The recruiting process has been a long one for 4 Star Illinois OL Chris Bryant, and he's ready for it to be over with. Bryant makes his decision on Friday the 28th at 7:30pm at his high school in Chicago. I caught up with him to talk about the final hours, and what he'll be focusing on while making his decision for tomorrow. Here's a look at his film, then the interview.
TOM: Are you ready for all this to be over with yet?
CHRIS: Yeah, I mean it's stressful. It's been fun, but difficult so I'm almost ready.
TOM: What's it like today and tonight, the day before you make your decision?
CHRIS: Well, Coach Hoke came by the school today and then the Pitt coaches, Coach Graham and Calvin Magee are coming by later tonight. After that I'm just going to check over all the places I've been, the trips I've taken, and sit down and think about it. I want to make sure that I'm comfortable, because I have to live there the next 4 to 5 years. In my mind, I know where I'm leaning, but I want to sleep on it and do my thing tomorrow.
TOM: When the coaches come by this late in the process what are they talking to you about? For instance, what was Coach Hoke saying today?
CHRIS: Going through this process it's just been about building the relationship. That relationship doesn't come over night, and today was just kind of a regular conversation. He was telling me how I fit in, and about their new type of offense. It was just us getting to know each other more.
TOM: You talk about building a relationship. In a short period of time, do you think you've done that with the new Michigan coaches? Do you feel comfortable with them?
CHRIS: Ever since the first day I met them we hit it off. He's a player's coach, and someone you like having a conversation with. I didn't have a hard time bonding with him. I feel comfortable with all these coaches, I wouldn't second guess playing for them.
TOM: What happens after all the coaches leave? Do you and your parents sit down and discuss everything, or are they letting you make the decision?
CHRIS: My parents are a big part of my decision. After the coaches leave we'll sit down and talk through everything, then just get ready for tomorrow.
TOM: How many hats will be on the table?
CHRIS: I'll have four. Arizona, Michigan, Pitt, and Illinois.
Tom is having trouble posting on the site, so follow him on Twitter for the latest updates - Tim
- TX TE Chris Barnett. Arkansas soft commit. Also considering Texas A&M and others.
- MI RB Thomas Rawls. Looking for a Michigan offer (waiting on a qualifying test score). Announcing on Signing Day.
- OH LB Commit Antonio Poole. Committed to Michigan Tuesday.
- MD DT Darian Cooper. Had an in-home with DC Greg Mattison yesterday. Scout's Gene Hankerson is feeling good about the situation there. Iowa and Michigan State are the main competition. Iowa was out in front, who knows if the news that they try to kill their players will affect him.
- OH DE Commit Keith Heitzman. Committed last Saturday.
Arizona OL Ryan Nowicki is not coming. He has been telling me he feels good about being committed to Penn State, so it's not a big surprise. They were in on Ryan late anyway, so it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.
Don't be surprised if some of these guys end up committing to Michigan on Signing Day - or even before that, if the visit weekend goes well. Expect some of Michigan's current commits to unofficially visit as well.
The list is subject to change over the next 24 hours. Stay tuned for updates.
This weekend was a huge success for Michigan, not only with the three commitments from K Matt Wile, DB Raymon Taylor, and DE Keith Heitzman, but with the other visitors as well. Here's what some of them had to say.
5'11", 170 lbs.
The interest from McClure came from his relationship with Brady Hoke at San Diego State. Now that Hoke was at a bigger program like Michigan, McClure was interested.
It was a great time. We met with all the coaches, saw the stadium, and hung out with the players. My host was Denard Robinson, which was pretty cool. He's like a celebrity there. Walking through the Big House was pretty cool, too.
Michigan's new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, has only been on campus for one weekend, but he's already polished off his recruiting tricks.
I talked with the defensive coordinator quite a bit. We talked scheme, and he knows his x's and o's. It was pretty cool to be able to talk with him. I also talked to coach Hoke about the school, tradition, and the opportunity to play early there.
Stefan has said he will decide and announce sometime this week. I would imagine distance might be a factor with him, and I wouldn't get too excited. While I think he had a good time, it's hard to pull kids out of California. I would guess he'll stay home and go with someone like Cal.
6'2", 240 lbs
Willingham is a four star that had been committed to Texas A&M, and decided recently to take a trip out to Michigan. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, he took a recent visit to Colorado the same weekend as current Michigan commit Kellen Jones. Kellen had an opportunity to tell Leilon why he chose Michigan, and what he liked about it. This weekend he got to see it for himself.
We got a chance to talk to all the coaches, and it was pretty cool to sit down with the defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis is my idol, so that was like a dream. They were just telling me how they would use me up there, ether inside or outside. I really liked it up there. I mean, the Big House speaks for itself, everything was great. We hung out with all the other recruits, and everybody was just having a good time.
Willingham does have one more visit scheduled to UCF, and says that he will announce on signing day.
The (Michigan) coaches know I'm going out to Central Florida, so that's fine. I'm decommitted from Texas A&M, too, so I'm not with them anymore.
However, don't be surprised if he decides to "come public" with his choice earlier than that. This visit put Michigan in the driver's seat, and then some.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Although he's from Glenville, Clark has always maintained that Michigan is high on his list. Before this visit Michigan was in his top three with MSU and UNC. I spoke to him briefly after his visit, and Michigan has definitely helped themselves with Clark.
He described the visit as, "excellent" and said that he will be announcing his decision on Friday the 28th. Clark is in the same category as Willingham right now. He will make his choice public soon, but Michigan has put themselves in the driver's seat with this visit.
- OL Chris Bryant is announcing on Friday. Likely between Michigan, Arizona, and Pitt. I like Michigan's chances.
- TE/LB Frank Clark is announcing Friday. Between Michigan, UNC, and MSU. I like Michigan's chances.
- LB Leilon Willingham may announce this week, but could wait until signing day. I like Michigan's chances.
- 4 Star TE Chris Barnett is visiting this weekend, the 28th.
- 4 Star DB Floyd Raven may visit Alabama this weekend instead of Michigan. We'll see what happens.
- RB Thomas Rawls may visit this weekend, and is announcing on the 31st. If he's qualified, I like Michigan's chances.
- DB Blake Countess may come back up for an unofficial visit to meet the new DC, and potentially the new DB coach if they have one in place.
- OL commit Tony Posada was in Ann Arbor this weekend, and the visit reassured him of his commitment to Michigan. Nothing to worry about there.
- DT Darian Cooper just got done with an official to Iowa. He tweeted that Michigan's new DC Greg Mattison promptly called him, and said he was, "very interesting." That could be something to watch if they go after him hard.