EDITED after McDoom's commitment.
Hello. MGoBoard Crazy Person LSA Superstar here. Because Alum96 is evidently a person who sleeps sometimes, I'm starting today's recruiting diary for obsessives.
24 25 commits. Based on the "dark web," one is unlikely to qualify. Two others, Elliott and N. Johnson, are admittedly shaky. That puts us at 21 22 firmly committed spots, leaving nine eight potentially vacant spots absent any surprise flip losses. We supposedly can go up to 30, but Lorenz seems to think the number is more likely 28 or 29.
Based on those spots, I think the board looks like so:
- RESERVED FOR GARY
- Non-Gary DT
Then you pool the players we remain in for. As you can see from the board above, it's worth designating five of these guys as "takes no matter what" - the four BPA slots plus Gary. I think, based on announcement timing, Michigan's evident interest, and a variety of other factors, that those guys are sorted as follows:
TAKES NO MATTER WHAT THAT COACHES WILL HOLD OUT FOR:
Then you have the other dudes we're in on, in no particular order:
And the players with whom our position is mysterious:
- J. Jones
- Price, I guess
And the players who might be left out in the cold because of recent commitments:
- N. Johnson
Next, you look at the announced order of committments. Although Lorenz walked it back to a degree (as is his right), he reported that the coaches may have tried to "time" some of these announcements. It's my theory that some commits have been told to announce sooner because they're takes right now, whereas others have been told to announce on signing day because they're still-coveted backup plans (Gary is an obvious exception). Once players get the pitch from the coaches to play this game, they're either doing what they want ("no thanks, I'll announce when I want, coach") or playing along
If I'm right (it happens occasionally), the following "rules" emerge:
1.) Hudson is announcing today. I think that means that Hudson one of the coaches' two BPAs because Hudson is widely expected to commit to Michigan. Hudson takes a spot.
McDoom is rumored to be announcing tomorrow. If McDoom commits as expected, he takes the slot spot and Johnson gets in only as a BPA. Lorenz has suggested that Johnson may be out of luck entirely if McDoom commits. Young's only chance becomes as a CB or BPA. McDoom's commitment may mean the end of Nate Johnson's recruitment/commitment (commuitment?) because I don't think he's rumored to be able to play any other position than slot. I think Pie Young is still in the mix as either a CB or a BPA. But McDoom's pledge isn't great news for Pie.
3.) Fuller announces next Monday. Fuller would fill a CB spot. If he commits elsewhere, we put the full court on Hill, who's probably a "must take" anyway. If Hill commits elsewhere as well, Young gets the spot as a CB. I think this is Young's best shot at being in the class.
4.) If Asiasi commits (I do think there's a chance), I think we may not take Allen or Eubanks's commitments. I could very well be wrong about Allen, and I hope I am because I love his tape.
5.) I think we'll take both non-Gary DTs if we have room, although neither seems very likely to commit. I think our only chance at Tagaloa is if Asiasi commits. I'm more optimistic on Elliott than some, but not very optimistic.
6.) I think we lead for Murphy, Young, Nordin, and Stewart, and I think all of them would commit today if they were given the green light. I personally think that we should have given the green light to Murphy months ago, but I don't think the coaches feel that way based on the progression of his recruitment.
DISCLAIMERS: This is all my opinion, synthesized from a bunch of stuff I've read that might be made up. I don't have any insider connections. I don't have any coaching connections, and I'm not a coach myself.
Trying to think through the past few weeks and the implications short term and long term, and avoiding the more "fire breathing" TRUST IN EVERYTHING OR YOU WANT HOKE 4EVER CROWD. I think aside from the "win at any cost crowd" there has to be a bit of apprehension of some of the tactics by everyone else. I do agree "win and none of this matters" but you have to win big (i.e. playoffs and NCs). I think we are at the point now we have enough situations in a small amount of time at UM, plus the history at Stanford to see this is not a "one off" situation but a pattern. I don't recall another school having a string of decommits like this in a short period of time -- so to do it annually IMO is going to be an issue.
So the question is will this be an annual event? Too soon to tell.
The 2 paths of Harbaugh recruiting at UM are:
- Path 1: Nothing changes. "Accept many and cull in mass quantity" is the new Michigan recruiting method. We'll be the only school who does this in such large quantity. This is Jim Harbaugh.
- Path 2: While there will still be some head scratching things in the future because #Harbaugh, Jim will act a bit more like uhhh.... everyone else in America in that you build relationships with plan B targets but you don't accept a ton of them until your plan As say no. So you build a draft board - offer all your As, Bs, and Cs to get your 200+ offers but make explicit who can actually accept them early - i.e. the As.
We won't know until the end of the 2017 cycle what path Jim will go but early returns point to path 1 - "Accept many and cull in mass quantities". To that end an early look at the 2017 class shows a lot of 3* that if 2016 is a reasonable measure, won't be around in Feb 2017.
The counterargument is Harbaugh did not expect such an uptick in recruiting so quickly. Frankly I find that a bit hard to believe because Hoke had multiple top 15 type classes including a 247 composite #4 and #6. To believe Harbaugh thought this year he'd have a #26 class and need to build back up to top 5 or 10 "later" - with the Harbaugh brand at his tailwind - seems a bit hard to believe. But some have proposed that is the reason for the "accept many and cull in mass quantity".
I'll propose a 2nd reason - Jim has an ego and he wanted the Summer Swarm to show immediate results. I actually believe that more than "we had no idea we could recruit at a top 10 level at UM" theory.
What I don't get - and why I propose the satellite camps will lose their effectiveness if Jim continues to "accept many and cull in mass quantity" - is why Jim didn't use the camps like most assumed they were created for:
- Build long lasting relationships in parts of the country UM is not local
- Build goodwill in areas UM is not usually seen.
- Have a chance to meet and evaluate under the radar guys who you can then "committable" offer late in the process as a plan B.
That would make these camps a big success - you have a ready pool of players you can bring onto campus in December or January that otherwise we would have never seen in person as we juggle our plan As and plan Bs. It builds goodwill - player and coach and parent gets excited they have a chance at a "committable" Michigan offer. You are in the position to give a plan B prospect something rather than take away something late in their cycle. You've built positive relationships in other parts of the country.
At this point it feels like only Flanagan fulfilled this promise and maybe Pratville but a lot of goodwill otherwise has been burnt.
If Jim stays on path 1, the satellite camps IMO become nearly useless.
- The top 250 type kids don't participate in these.
- The lower rated kids go for exposure.
- If lower rated kid gets an offer, he accepts and immediately knows it doesn't mean much in terms of being there in February.
- Lower rated kid who is now Michigan "commit" (wink wink) has little invested in the game as he is constantly thinking about parlaying offer into another offer at another school knowing his chance of remaining a UM commit the next Feb is nearly nil.
- Lower rated kid is useless in recruiting other kids to UM because he has again little to nothing invested in UM itself as he doesn't believe he will be here in the end.
- Camaraderie among fellow recruits in class is tarnished when 30-40% believe they won't be around in the end anyhow.
- More tarnishing of reputation, more upseting parents, more upseting local HS coaches by this idea of "offering and culling". Again you are taking something away from them (offer given, offer taken) rather than giving them something (offer given only) if you offer a satellite camp guy in June....
- For a month rather than positive press you will get "here we go again" and "remember Swenson and Weaver" stories in the media as future Summer Swarms happen.
I really don't get the strategy of staying with path 1 for Jim Harbaugh mostly because there is zero benefit to do it in his situation.
- This is not Stanford where the football players have a distinctly higher academic standard so you really do need to "commitable" offer 40 to get 25 into the class.
- This is Michigan, not San Diego - people are aware of the school. What benefit did offering recruits you didn't really want in the end generate - did high end recruits look at those lower rated guys and say "I want in because generic 800 ranked guy is in?"
- You have an NFL pedigree now as a HC - you didn't have that at Stanford. Everyone knows who you are now - not like at Stanford.
- There is no value add to attract high level recruits by this process of accept and reject of lower level recruits.
Summary - there is no reason to do this "accept and cull" in large quantities. I get doing it in 2-3 cases where a top 100 player suddenly shows interest at a position you may have a generic 650th ranked guy. But doing it with 1/3rd+ of the committed class makes no sense at Michigan, with a HC everyone knows.
As I've said in many posts I don't care about what the media or other fanbases or even other college coaches say. I do care what recruits say to each other, what parents say to each other, what HS coaches say to each other. And to believe a scorched earth tactic won't have an effect on the latter 3 groups if repeated annually is naive. Even with Meyer and Saban you here 2-3 "questionable" cases a year - and some years 0 or 1. Path 1 will lead to 8-10+ cases a year and IMO hurt the next coach here with a lot of broken relationships with HSs even if Harbaugh finds a way to succeed in spite of it.
- Be your normal zany self in how you recruit but utilize commitable offers like every other staff in America. Emphasize plan As while building relationships with plan Bs and Cs (camps would be excellent for the latter) - but only make the plan As committable early in the process in MOST cases. (Always an exception or two but it can't be half the class purged) So like any school you shoot out your 200 offers but of those only 15-20% are "acceptable" until say the December or January ahead of the Feb signing date.
- When offering plan Bs and Cs early make everything explicit. In writing works if you don't like the phone. "You are still being evaluated and will continue to be evaluated as with all other recruits. If we believe your ability to play meaningful time at the University of Michigan is lower immediately after your senior season you will be notified quickly and directly (i.e. not hinting but talking to a 17 year old like a 50 year old professional) so you can move onto a situation that offers you a better chance to fulfill your football goals. You will receive a FedEx'd letter from the football program followed up by a phone call by your immediate recruiter and/or the head coach to explain this change in condition by Dec 1st at the latest."
A friend of mine came up with this system for restructuring college football in a way that gives every team an equal shot at playing for the National Championship. He asked if I would post it on the board to get everyone's thoughts and perhaps stimulate some interesting discussion. This seemed like a Diary post to me, but I apologize if it would be better suited for the Board. Enjoy!
On a raw, cold night in mid-March of 1968, I drove with my mother to Grosse Pointe High School (now G.P. South) to attend a very unusual event in that community. Its uniqueness was evidenced by the small but very vocal group from Breakthrough, a radical-right political protest organization based in Detroit, who were on the sidewalks across from the school. Angry protest demonstrations of any political stripe were unheard of in that quiet, well-to-do suburb. This was going to be a strange night in Grosse Pointe.
What had drawn those angry demonstrators to that particular location on that night was the person who was scheduled to speak inside the school: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
In the eyes of Breakthrough's founder Donald Lobsinger, King was a Communist traitor and agitator who was sabotaging our military efforts in Vietnam. In the eyes of the Grosse Pointe Human Relations Council, the group that had extended the invitation, King was a figure of major importance with particular relevance to the area, which had been convulsed by the Detroit riots the previous summer.
Having grown up in a very liberal household with a deep commitment to the cause of civil rights, our family sympathies with King and support for the civil rights movement was a distinctly minority opinion in the all-white and very conservative Grosse Pointe of that time.
I was only 15, and didn't know what to expect inside, but my mother was nervous about the possibility of violence, and that concern was echoed by the Grosse Pointe chief of police, who basically sat in King's lap as a protective measure during their car ride to the school.
The auditorium was packed, and King delivered a speech that concentrated on familiar themes that he had made the centerpiece of his campaign for civil rights since the 1950s. Breakthrough members interrupted King's speech several times with loud heckling from the crowd, but the most memorable occurence was when a young man began hectoring King about Vietnam. The atmosphere inside the auditorium was already very tense due to the previous outbursts, but King did something amazing to me: he stopped his speech, and invited the guy up onto the stage and gave him the microphone to state his views. He identified himself as a U.S. Naval veteran and made a short rambling statement stating his opposition to Communism. King's non-confrontational approach to him seemed to take the wind out of his sails, and defused what had been a potentially combustible moment.
The rest of the speech proceeded without further incident, and by the time we were making our way to our car, the demonstrators from Breakthrough were gone.
Just three weeks later, King was murdered in Memphis. That event was awful enough, but it was particularly so for my mother and me since we'd just seen him with our own eyes. The unrest his assassination sparked across the country was sadly predictable, and soon I was going to have a small personal taste of the depth of the local hatred for King.
One afternoon close to the end of the school year I was hanging out at the house of a girl I'd thought was pretty hot, and then the conversation randomly turned to King and the fact that I'd attended his speech in Grosse Pointe. She then announced that she was glad he'd been killed since he was a Communist traitor. I was no stranger to the casual racism that was routinely expressed by the people I grew up with in Grosse Pointe and Detroit, but to hear somebody who seemed perfectly nice and normal state their approval of murder so baldly and unapologetically to me was mind-boggling.
Her father then entered the room and then started ranting about how King was a subversive trying to overthrow the government for the Communists. I got the hell out of there since he seemed unhinged. She didn't seem quite so hot any more to me, either.
Given my family's interest in politics and support for the civil rights movement, I was very familiar with the resistance of southern politicians to integration, especially at the university level. Governor George Wallace's symbolic "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" in 1962 in opposition to integrating Alabama was for my Missouri-born parents a symbol of the backwardness of racial attitudes that were part of their own early lives, and it seemed just plain crazy to me that anybody could be so opposed to allowing black Americans to attend the same universities as white Americans.
(Yes, there was plenty of virulent racism in the north back then too, but it didn't have nearly the amount of overt and unapologetic institutional support from politicians and elected officials that it did across the south.)
By that time I was also a young college football fan, and as my grandfather had attended UM during Yost's first four years, rooting for Michigan was natural in our house. While the UM teams then were still predominantly white, they did have notable black players, and I was well aware of the integrated Southern Cal teams of that era since the Big Ten played the Pac 8 in the Rose Bowl each year. It seemed ridiculous to me that it wasn't until the late 1960s and early '70s that the major teams in the south became integrated.
For basic info on King's Grosse Pointe speech:
For information about the integration of major college football:
After Iowa had four scores on its first four possessions, Beilein took a timeout to stem the bleeding: Michigan trailed 9-0 just a minute and a half into the game and conceded a basket on the next possession. On the road, against one of the hottest teams in the country (arguably one of the nation's ten best teams), Michigan was off to the worst possible start.
The Wolverines eventually strung together some stops and started getting open looks on offense; a quintessential "weird guys" lineup (Walton / Abdur-Rahkman / Aubrey Dawkins / D.J. Wilson / Moritz Wagner) sparked a 13-0 run midway through the half and Michigan actually pulled into the lead by the eight-minute mark in the first half. Early on, Michigan found success inside with some nifty cuts as Iowa overplayed the three (2-9 shooting from deep in the half), but Iowa led at halftime after some back-and-forth play to close the half.
Michigan hit three three-point attempts before the first TV timeout in the second half and took the lead with a banked-in Zak Irvin and-one. Over the next eight minutes, Michigan's offense stagnated with turnovers (the Wolverines finished with an atypical 13 turnovers, while Iowa had just 4) and missed jumpers; Iowa went on a 16-3 run to open up a double-digit lead. Ultimately, U-M wasn't able to keep up with the Hawkeyes' shot-making down the stretch, particularly from Jarrod Uthoff and Peter Jok, and wound up hitting the Kenpom spread on the nose with an 11-point defeat.
Iowa's potent offense resembles Michigan's high-powered attacks of the recent past: the Hawkeyes don't get to the free throw line too often, but make up for it with an extremely low turnover rate and great shooting from pretty much everywhere on the floor. Unlike those Michigan teams, the Hawkeyes boast size and depth; they overwhelmed Michigan on the offensive end (1.29 points per possession, per Kenpom, tying U-M's worst defensive effort of the season against Purdue).
National Player of the Year candidate Jarrod Uthoff was bothered into missing 11 shots, but still finished with a game-high 23 points. It was a group effort from Iowa though: their starting backcourt combined for 13 assists and the Hawkeyes put up shooting splits of 51% (2P) / 45% (3P) / 90% (FT). U-M's poor defensive habits were exposed by a pretty-close-to-elite offense, too frequently Iowa took wide-open, high-percentage shots with a defender a step or two away.
Michigan's offense hit 1.12 points per possession -- which is one of the best performances against Iowa's defense this year -- but some inefficient shooting from key players doomed Michigan. Duncan Robinson and Derrick Walton came into the game shooting more than 50% from three; the two totaled 5-19 from deep against Iowa today. Zak Irvin struggled against Iowa's length, shooting 33% total from the field. Aubrey Dawkins was a notable exception, hitting three three's. Impressively, Walton, Irvin, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman combined for 16 rebounds and 15 assists, but the lack of efficient scoring from Michigan's three biggest scorers was critical.
In the front-court, Mark Donnal remained the most consistent option, though he was sometimes overwhelmed by Iowa's size (Donnal's four offensive boards were a nice bonus, however). Moritz Wagner was the second big off the bench and showed skill around the basket on offense. D.J. Wilson might have played his best minutes of the season, but they came in relief of Irvin at the four -- he looks to be a more valuable asset there than at the five.
Now that Michigan's toughest three-game stretch of the season (@ Purdue, Maryland, @ Iowa) is over, the schedule gets easier. Even with LeVert's availability still in question, Michigan should be expected to win its next four games, though a road trip to Nebraska might be tricky. Still, as the team continues to develop, it's hard not to be optimistic about the return of a player of LeVert's caliber. It wasn't a surprise to see Michigan's second- and third-options to create on offense struggle against Iowa, who looks very much like the best team in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines were a pretty good team last year finishing 39-25 overall and 4th in the Big Ten. The Wolverines won the Big Ten Tournament before falling to Louisville in the Regional Finals.
The Wolverines led the Big Ten in almost every batting stat. They hit .296 as a team, averaged over 6 runs per game and were in the Top-25 nationally in walks and OBP.
On the mound Michigan was a middle of the pack team. They finished 7th in the Big Ten with a 3.81 team ERA but ranked 31st nationally in strikouts.
Jacob Cronenworth played second and was the closer; Cronenworth hit .338, led the team with 91 hits and drove in 48 runs as the leadoff hitter. Cronenworth earned second team All-Big Ten honors and signed with Tampa Bay after being selected in the 7th round.
Jackson Glines played center field and was the team leader in OBP. He hit .349 as a 2-3 hitter, drove in 34 runs and his .984 fielding percentage was third best on the team. Glines was a first team All-Big Ten selection and was drafted by the White Sox in the 10th round.
Junior Travis Maezes played third and short. After lofty preseason expectations pegged him as the Big Ten Player of the Year, Maezes posted a .297 average and 27 RBI. Maezes was a third team All-Big Ten selection; he was drafted by Kansas City in the 13th round and signed this offseason.
Behind the plate the Wolverines lose Kendall Patrick. Patrick was a low average, high power hitter who led the team with 8 home runs, knocked in 33 and was pegged 15 times hitting cleanup. His .990 fielding percentage was the best on the team.
Eric Jacobson and Kevin White were regular starters; Jacobson the infield and White in in the outfield. Both players were solid in the field but didn't make too much of an impact at the plate.
Infielder Kyle Jusick graduated. Jusick started 17 games in the infield and hit .231.
Three arms have departed from a year ago.
Matt Ogden rotated in as the 3rd starter and threw as a bullpen arm going 5-1. His 2.47 ERA was the best on the team for a pitcher who threw more than 15 innings and he held hitters to a .234 batting average.
Donnie Eaton threw 21 innings in relief with a 5.14 ERA. The third arm, TJ Shook, pitched 5.1 innings of relief.
Ramsey Romano left the program a year ago after starting 24 games as a freshman. He entered spring practice for football as a quarterback and is now playing at Yavapai College. He will attend Long Beach State in 2016.
On the Infield
First baseman Carmen Benedetti took a monumental leap forward his sophomore year. As a middle of the order hitter he led the team in almost every hitting category; batting .352 with 71 RBI, 25 doubles and 28 walks, Benedetti was named 1st team All-American.
At first Benedetti had the highest fielding percentage out all position players besides Patrick.
Jake Bivens is your starter at short. Bivens was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and earned Freshman All-American honors from various outlets after hitting .319 from the top of the order and driving in 19 runs with a .435 OBP.
The third returning infielder is Hector Gutierrez, a junior from Detroit. Gutierrez played sparingly as a reserve appearing in 21 games, starting 4. He hit .250 with 6 driven in.
The Wolverines lost quite a bit from last year's infield and the incoming class is thin. Chicago native Ako Thomas will be in the hunt for playing time in the middle infield and George Hewitt, a highly regarded recruit and brother of former Phillies first rounder Anthony Hewitt will be in line for games at third.
The rest of platoon will be between upperclassmen Michael Brdar and sophomore Matt Ross, neither who have appeared in a game, freshman Joe Pace and Jimmy Kerr.
As a junior Cody Bruder started every game between DH and left field, pairing with Benedetti as middle of the order hitters. Bruder hit .308, knocking in 43 runs and slugged .423.
In right Johnny Slater returns after starting 36 games a year ago. Slater was able to drive in 25 runs last season from the back of the order despite hitting .229. He snagged 9 doubles, two triples and three homeruns while posting a .325 OBP.
Junior Jackson Lamb was a highly regarded recruit who hit .250 as a freshman and threw nine fantastic innings as a sophomore but missed most of last season with an injury. Lamb will be in the mix for starts between all three positions.
The prized recruit of the class, California native Jonathan Engelmann heads to Michigan after a distinguished high school career saw him drafted in the 28th round by the Twins. The 6'4 Engelmann looks to be a fit for the Wolverines vacant center field position and he also features a power bat who can switch hit.
Behind the Plate
With their every day catcher gone, backstopping duties should fall to sophomore Drew Lugbauer. Lugbauer played mostly as a DH last season and spelled Patrick behind the plate, hitting .211 and driving in eight.
Junior Harrison Wenson and senior Dominic Jamett both played sparingly a year ago. They'll battle for the backup position.
On the Mound
Pitching was a sore spot at times for this team a year ago but this season the group looks to take a big step forward.
Almost the entire pitching staff has returned, starting with #1 and #2 starters Brett Adcock and Ryan Nutof.
Adcock threw 90 innings last season and went 10-4, posting a 3.10 ERA and holding batters to a .213 average. He also posted an impressive K/9 of 9.50. Adcock was named Big Ten All-Third Team.
Nutof started 14 games as a freshman and was named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. Nutof threw 80 innings posting a 3.71 ERA and a 5-3 record. He held batters to a .247 average.
Evan Hill missed the first two months of the season, but went on to start seven games and appear out of the pen. Hill posted a .450 ERA and a K/9 of 8.76.
Out of the bullpen Bryan Pall is the top returner. Pall threw 33.1 innings of relief a year ago with a 2.97 ERA and a K/9 of 8.42. Pall features a devastating slider as his swing-and-miss pitch.
Jackson Lamb and Carmen Benedetti both excelled in smaller roles, Benedetti allowed just three earned runs in 14 innings and held batters to a .085 average. Lamb threw nine innings and earned 1 run.
Mac Lozer, Jayce Vancena and Michael Hendrickson make up the rest of the group.
The freshman class is not short on arms. Eric Bakich has brought in five pitchers in this class; righty Ricky Karcher, lefties Benjamin Keizer and William Tribucher.
The two headliners of the pitching class are California native Troy Miller and Jack Bredeson. Miller was a Perfect Game All-American Honorable Mention and features a blazing fastball.
The 6'6, 235lb Bredeson, brother of football commit Ben Bredeson, has a raw power arm. His fastball reaches the mid-to-high 80's and he also features a power changeup, a curveball and a nice biting slider.
The Wolverines enter the season ranked 23rd in the country, the only Big Ten team to earn a preseason ranking.
In 2016 they'll take a step back at the plate. There's going to be a drop in production after losing upperclassmen bats in Glines, Cronenworth, Maezes and Patrick but they should see improvement on the mound.
With the Big Ten not having a clear favorite going into the year, this Michigan team should be contending for their first conference title since 2008. At the very least, the Wolverines should hold a spot in the top-4 of the conference standings.