I did not make this headline up
[Editor's note: Tom's put out a torrent of content about this weekend's BBQ at the Big House. Other items in you may be interested in:
- MD DT Darian Cooper didn't name any leaders following the trip but did say Michigan helped themselves: "They weren't trying to hype anything, and I really liked that. We just got to sit back and talk about life and not all football, which was great."
- FL RB Demetrius Hart did not make it in due to the expense of two trips to Michigan back-to-back. "Nothing has changed" as far as the Harts' opinion of M.
- Michigan has offered three additional kids in Ohio: DE Austin Traylor, TE Nick Vannett, and C Ryan Kelly. Traylor says he will visit; the interest levels of the other guys is unknown. Vannett is reputed an OSU lock.
Now on with this particular show.]
One of the prospects in attendance at this past weekend's BBQ was McKeesport linebacker Branden Jackson. Branden is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound middle linebacker for his team who runs a 4.5-4.6 forty. Here's what he had to say about the trip, and his versatility.
TOM: What did you know about Michigan before this trip? Why did you have interest?
BRANDEN: I just knew that Michigan was always good. They have a good track record, a huge alumni base, and they have those nice helmets. I liked some of the players growing up, and I also knew they had the biggest stadium, but that was about it.
TOM: So what were you expecting out of this kind of visit?
BRANDEN: I was really just expecting to get a feel for the school, the players, and the environment. I wanted to see if I could fit in, and I got exactly that. Exactly what I thought I would.
TOM: What about the environment, or atmosphere, stood out to you?
BRANDEN: The campus was really nice. I knew it would be, but it was really nice. Once I got around some of the players, too, I knew I wouldn't be left out. Everyone was just real nice, and made you feel comfortable. They weren't hyping anything, they were just being real about what they go through. I hung out with Tate Forcier, and Roy Roundtree a little bit. Roy's hilarious, he was cracking jokes the whole time. I talked a little with Stephen Hopkins, too. It was good to hear from someone that just committed, and just got up there.
TOM: Did you get to have as much fun with any of the coaches?
BRANDEN: Yeah, coach Gib [Gibson]. Since I met him, he's been real cool. He's always been down to earth with me, and he's in to modern things, too. He's not too old school, and I like that. I actually talked to the defensive coordinator, too. He was a little older, so I didn't know how much we'd have in common, but he was real cool, too. I was surprised, he knew a lot about some modern things.
TOM: What was the conversation like between the coaches?
BRANDEN: We were just talking about the things I'd get out of Michigan. The education, how big the alumni base is, and how that can help with jobs. We talked about the defense, and if I came there, I would play outside linebacker. They like quick, aggressive, and athletic linebackers. We also talked about how the head coach wants to offer kids that will add to the family atmosphere, and help create a bigger family, which was cool.
TOM: Does the outside linebacker spot fit you? Are you comfortable with that?
BRANDEN: I'm 6-foot-5, and 220-pounds, but if you look at me, I don't look like I weigh that much. I have really good speed, and I feel like I'm smaller for the middle spot, so the outside is probably better for me. I actually used to play safety, but we were short on linebackers, so I had to play in the middle. I'm aggressive, though. I like to come off the edge, even though I'm in the middle, I cover tight ends all the time in our defense. I'm pretty versatile; I could really be anywhere on the field. The last time I ran the forty was around a year ago, and it was a 4.5 something.
TOM: I know you wanted your teammate, Delvon Simmons, to come with you, too. He didn't make it?
BRANDEN: No, he couldn't make it, but I'm going to tell him everything about it. He'll definitely want to come back up with me in the summer. We talk about going to the same school all the time. I say if it happens, it happens, but he says it's definitely going to happen. I don't really know yet. It's too early for me to narrow things down, until I take more visits. Michigan is definitely up there, but there's no list, yet.
Just a little bit of change since last week, but ESPN did tweak their ratings a bit. Action since last rankings:
5-16-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Michael Bennett.
5-18-10 Purdue gains commitment from Robert Kugler.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 11 Commits|
All of the Buckeyes' commits are now 3-stars or better to Scout, and they also pick up a talented lineman in Michael Bennett.
|#2 Notre Dame - 9 Commits|
Everyone but Brindza is now rated by Scout. He is also considered a soft commit to ESPN, for the record.
|#3 Michigan - 4 Commits|
No change for Michigan. This is a moderately depressing development following the BBQ at the Big House. Hopefully a couple will drop after Michigan announces their self-imposed sanctions this week.
|#4 Michigan State - 5 Commits|
Jones, Cook, and Sims pick up rankings. I'm personally of the opinion that a 2-star ranking is worse than a 1-star ranking, because it means that the Scouts have evaluated you, and they don't think you're any good.
|#5 Indiana - 8 Commits|
Big week for Indiana, as they go from one commit ranked on Scout to all of them (though they didn't grab anyone new). A trio of 3-stars headline the group.
|#6 Iowa - 3 Commits|
Iowa goes from nobody ranked on Scout to everybody ranked on Scout, and I noticed that Blythe is on the Rivals250 watchlist, which I missed last week. That moves the Hawkeyes up a couple spots.
|#7 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Olson, who both Rivals and ESPN really like, picks up a curious 2-star rating from Scout. It will be interesting to see if the sites ever reach a consensus on him.
|#8 Wisconsin - 2 Commits|
Keefer picks up a 2-star rating from Scout, and Keefer remains constant. I think that bumps the Badgers below Minnesota.
|#9 Northwestern - 2 Commits|
Cotton and Williams get 3-star ratings from Scout.
|#10 Illinois - 2 Commits|
Illinois is a touch behind Northwestern, by the slimmest of margins (1 point on ESPN).
|#11 Purdue - 1 Commit|
Purdue comes into the picture, picking up a pretty good tight end in Robert Kugler, the son of Steelers OL coach Sean Kugler.
Maryland DT Darian Cooper is on his way home from the Big House BBQ, after he enjoying his visit. "Everything went really well," he said. "We got to see the new renovations and the field and everything. We also had a quick tour of the academic facilities, and the food was really good. I really liked the BBQ chicken, so that was nice."
Cooper and his mother got in Friday night, but got in late, so they didn't really get to take anything in until today [Saturday]. It was important for both Darian and his mother to build relationships on this visit, and he said that was accomplished. "My mom and I both sat down with coach Singletary, Dews, and coach Rodriguez. I like them to meet my mom, so I can get her opinion on everything, too. She liked everything, and even exchanged numbers with some of the other recruits parents. All the recruits kind of introduced themselves, too, so I got to know them a little bit."
His mother has now seen Michigan, Penn State, and Maryland with Darian, and they plan on trying to make as many visits as they can. "I'm going to try to get out to Michigan State, Clemson, and NC State, too. I'd really like to visit everyone that has offered me, because I feel like I owe them that respect, since they offered me," he said. Cooper doesn't have a leader after this event, and probably won't until he gets to see all the schools he wants.
Although he's not ready to name a leader yet, Michigan definitely did themselves a favor with this event. "I liked it a lot," Darian said. "It was real informal and laid back. They weren't trying to hype anything, and I really liked that. We just got to sit back and talk about life and not all football, which was great."
Michigan took two of three games at Penn State this weekend to claim a #2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. While all three games had many great positives, the ending to game two is how this series will be remembered. Michigan held a 4 run lead going into the bottom of the 9th, and the bull pen collapsed.
Weekend recap, series thoughts, and a look at the Big Ten bracket after the jump
[Bumping this to the top because it's relevant for today - Tim]
You asked for it.......multiple times, so here it is. I was going to wait, but I figured it would give everyone something to do. This is the same as the Spring Game list, this can change, it's not set in stone, and it's only the people I've confirmed so far. There are more people coming (I'm assuming), I just haven't gotten in touch with them yet.
- OL Anthony Zettel - He said he probably won't pull the trigger.
- DE Chris Rock - He also said he probably won't commit. It's getting close, though.
- DT Darian Cooper - He's very excited to come see Michigan. He'll be in with his mother.
- Corey Marshall - Supposed to be there, not 100%
- WR AJ Jordan - He'll be there (as of now), and he's pretty excited about it.
- Commit DE Brennen Beyer
- LB Branden Jackson - Michigan has a good chance here, he's from PA.
- DB Dondi Kirby - He'll know by Friday if he's going, or not. He lives in PA, so it's not too far for a last minute decision. If he comes, LB Armstead Williams will be coming with him. They're best friends, and travel together, and potentially want to go to school together. They're both going to wait until signing day, but Michigan is in good favor with both of them.
- OL Ryan Kelly - One of the newer offers from Ohio, which you can read about here.
- LB Sean Duggan - He was invited (this is more of an invitation event, so not a lot of random people will be showing up), but can't make it.
- WR Damiere Byrd - Hasn't been hearing much from Michigan lately. I'm assuming it's because we're in on Spiffy Evans, AJ Jordan, Sammy Watkins, and DeAnthony Arnett.
- DE Deion Barnes - No ride, and didn't know about the event. (No invite)
- LB Kris Frost - Unfortunately his family can't afford the trip again. He's rescheduling for the summer.
- RB Demetrius Hart
- LB Lamar Dawson - He's coming out with a top list in the next week, or two. He's going to try to visit this summer.
- DB Daren Kitchen - Too far, and he plans on camping this summer. If he has an offer when he comes up for camp, expect him to commit, or already be committed. He told me there's a 90% chance he'll commit to Michigan. LSU has been recruiting him (he's from LA), but he really likes Michigan right now. He loves Charles Woodson, and thinks he can be a big corner like him. Kitchen is 6'2", 175 lbs.
- OL Aundrey Walker - Glenville....(insert fart noise here).
- TE Ray Hamilton - Can't make it
- DB Dondi Kirby - He's not coming. if he's going, or not. If he would've made it, LB Armstead Williams would have come with him. They're best friends, and travel together, and potentially want to go to school together. They're both going to wait until signing day, but Michigan is in good favor with both of them.
- OL Ray Ball - Recently offered. He was very honest to me when we spoke. He said he does really like Ohio State and Wisconsin, despite the fact that OSU hasn't offered. He said he's from Ohio, so he just likes OSU because of that. He also told me that he's excited to see what Michigan has to offer, and despite his interest in the other two schools, it doesn't mean Michigan won't get a fair look. (side note: He sounds like a really respectable, religious kid. I was impressed with him, and also he's a giant). His uncle moved the visit to June 5th, they have some things going on right now.
I just spoke to Demetrius Hart's mom, and Demetrius is definitely not coming this weekend for the BBQ. Instead, he's on his way to a 7 on 7 tournament with his teammates......in Alabama. She didn't know if the 7 on 7 was at the University, or just in Alabama, and I haven't found it yet, either. It sounds like it is at the university.
His mother told me that he's very stressed out by the whole process right now, and they couldn't make it up to Michigan for financial reasons. They will try to reschedule it in the summer, or possibly for his official visit. They couldn't make this trip due to financial reasons, which is completely understandable.
She also said that nothing has changed with their opinion on Michigan, but they would like Demetrius to visit Auburn and Alabama. They want him to take his time, and make sure that everything is right. She reiterated that nothing has changed with their opinion on Michigan, but they wouldn't like to see him in a "woulda, shoulda, coulda" situation.
They're not sure when he'll make his decision anymore, so we'll have to wait and see. I'm not really sure either way if it's a good or bad thing for Michigan the longer it takes.