***EDIT FOR KARMA PURPOSES***
This is a preliminary report card that indicates how I would rank our recruiting class IF signing day were today. Obviously we all know that a LOT could change between now and actual signing day. Players could change their mind, players could be deemed ineligible and asked to go elsewhere, or we could sign three more 5* recruits at positions of need. So if the Karma gods are listening, this is just a preliminary summary of where recruiting stands right now, don't take it too seriously.
Recruiting Report Card:
At this point the recruiting class is wrapping up so we can start handing out some grades. I think Tim or Brian will probably do something similar in the next few days but I got impatient during a slow week at the office so I thought I’d try my hand at putting some grades together. Obviously a lot can still change between now and signing day, so we need some assumptions:
- All current signings stay committed
- Assuming that Murphy, Grimes, and Furman will commit.
- Assume that there will be one more signing but will not make an assumption as to who that is. I’ll talk more about who I would like this to be at the end.
- Handing out grades considers quality of recruits, quantity of recruits as compared to need, versatility, recruiting location, and intangibles.
Quarterback = A+
Hard to argue with one of the top two spread QB’s in the country who has looked good all season and fits the system well. I don’t think that Jones will ever see the field as a QB and I suspect he’ll just get buried on the depth chart whenever he switches to WR. But when you’re recruiting basically your 4th string QB this is the type of high-risk guy you go after.
Running Back = B
I struggled with this one because I’m not sure about how much potential these guys have. But White, Drake, and Hopkins do offer quantity and variety. It is also good to get players from Texas to keep a presence there for recruiting. And grabbing White when he had ties to MSU is good. Maybe B is a bit generous considering that I don’t think we drafted a future star, but they seem solid.
Slot Receiver = C-
Dileo is the only true slot receiver in the class since I’m counting Drake as a RB. Personally I like Dileo a lot for this spot and I think he’s the kind of gut you target when your depth chart is already pretty full at this position. But the upside is very low and when you’re strapped for bodies at other positions it is hard to grade this well. I would have graded it lower but this isn’t a position of need.
Outside Receiver = B
Much like running back I’m not sure there is a future all-big ten performer in this class. I don’t really know what we have in the Jackson-Miller-Robinson-Williamson group. There is some speed and size, but I don’t think any of us know whether they will be viable starters or stars in the future. For now I’m considering Jackson a WR and not a TE. It is mildly concerning that we took so many in this class without a star, though this was an area where depth was needed.
Tight End = D-
This was not an area of critical need given the relative youth on the roster and the fact that we rarely use two TE at the same time. And despite early success by Koger the position wasn’t utilized much down the stretch. So it isn’t a disaster that we didn’t sign anyone, but it would have been nice to grab one prospect. I suppose this is a good position to sacrifice a recruit when you need people at so many other positions, which is the only reason I didn’t give it an F. I also think there’s hope to convert Jackson to a receiving TE. And I think that Paskorz and Wilkens both played TE in high school and could convert if they don’t work out at DE in the future.
Offensive Line = D-
I almost gave this grade an F as well. I realize that we recruited a ton of guys the past two years and they all were able to redshirt, but I agree with Brian’s opinion that you never want to take fewer than 3 guys in a given class at OL. Now this also was a good place to sacrifice a signee in favor of another position of need, but having only one person scares me for what could happen in 2-3 years. I guess there’s hope they could still use the 28th scholarship on an OL, but that seems unlikely. This is the top need in the class of 2011.
Defensive Tackle = C+
Taking two guys at a position of need is pretty solid and I like the guys they have. But the two recruits that defected in 2009 were better prospects than the two we signed in 2010. And neither of these guys is a true space eater or pass rusher. The upside for these two is low. But getting two decent prospects in a bad year for DT recruits is solid. If the last scholarship goes to Beachum or Hankins this grade will improve some.
Defensive End = C+
Getting two recruits for this spot is a good number considering the depth chart, but neither projects as a star and both played some TE in high school. It would have been nice to get a stud at this position to replace Graham, but maybe Roh is going to be that guy and these two are destined to be role players.
Linebacker = C-
Kinard is a decent prospect and Furman could be very good. But this was a position of dire need and I don’t think we did enough to address the quality or quantity issues on the current roster. Marvin Robinson may in fact be a LB, but I’m going to consider him a safety for now. If you want to consider him a LB that bumps the grade slightly, but he still isn’t a MLB and that’s what we need most.
Cornerback = A
Neglect and bad luck at this position have been at the root of Michigan’s problem along with the safety position these past two years. The coaches did a great job of addressing this position with this class. There is a potential stud in Cullen Christian. You have a potential feel-good story in Witty who was able to get back on track and work hard to join the team. Then you have solid depth with Avery, Talbott, and Grimes. I’m sure we’ll hear about one or two of these names leaving the program in the next three years, but for now I’m excited. They will have ample opportunity to contribute at CB, could move to S down the road, or could turn into solid special team players.
Safety = B+
I’m excited about this safety class. Marvin Robinson may move to LB but I think he’s a potential multi-year starter either way. Vinopal seems to be a smart and fast safety who was the leader and all-state performer for a top team in a football fanatic state. I see him at worst being a special teams demon later in his career. And I think Carvin Johnson could be a very good sleeper. Like Vinopal he played for a very good team in a tough state and was their leader. He also seems to be smart and seems to be a true safety – not a converted CB or LB. When you combine all three of them I think you have versatility, depth, smarts, speed, talent, and potential.
Specialists = A
Replacing the best punter in Michigan history is going to be tough, but when you sign arguably the best punter in this class who has a brother already playing at a BCS school you’re doing pretty well for yourself.
Overall Offense Grade = C+
The offensive line situation is a bit scary and the rest was quantity over quality.
Overall Defense Grade = B-
Depth was addressed, overall talent is still in question.
Overall Grade = B-
The biggest needs were LB and DB and those were mostly addressed. They also signed a stud QB and P and depth in the defensive front seven. It is hard to give it a higher grade with only a small number of highly ranked players.
With the assumptions I made above we have one spot left in the class assuming no one backs out or is asked to back out based on academics or a gray shirt. Here is what I would like to see for that scholarship in order of preference:
- MLB (Tony Jefferson? Darrin Kitchens?)
- OL (Torrian Wilson?)
- S (Sean Parker? LaTwan Anderson? Rashad Knight?)
- DT (Beachum? Hankins?)
So where did I get things wrong? Where do you disagree? Let me know in the comments.
- Probably slated for a back-up role to Forcier (if he beats out DRob in fall camp) or a potential redshirt
Stephen Hopkins (EE)
Austin White (EE)
- With Vincent Smith the proposed nominal starter who is now unavailable until fall camp (at the earliest) this position is wide open; enrolling early helps both of their chances to make an impact
- most think White is destined for a redshirt but enrolling early at least gives him a chance to make an impact this season
Ricardo Miller (EE)
- The stud Florida turned Ann Arbor WR who we have heard about for some time now is about to set foot on the campus he loves and be a impact contributor this season
Between the 5 guys already on the depth chart, not to mention the TEs getting some playing time, its doubtful any of the freshman see significant time here.
Both Talbout and Ash (and possibly Hankins) are considered projects and not immediate impact players. Hopefully Martin, Campbell, and Sagesse can hold this stop down.
- With our linebacker situation (talent and depth) I hope he is good enough to play next year
Courtney Avery (EE)
- With Warren "messing around" at least 1 of these guys will be the starter and the others will also see signficant playing time
- our 2010 Defense (and team) hinge on the quick development of these guys
Marvin Robinson (EE)
- Depth chart is light here as well and both of these guys will see the field
- Robinson could also be in the mix for the Spinner position
- no one ahead of him on the depth chart at Punter
TOTALS: 11 contributors and potentially 3-4 starters
Recap of week 13:
Washington crushed Washington State 30-0. The Cougars managed 163 yards of offense and punted for 277. Illinois gave Cincinnati a good game, but lost 49-36 in game where Illinois had more total offense than the #5 team nationally. And of course, the Lions lost on Thanksgiving. I like ESPN's NFL stats, they make this easy. Green Bay and Detroit both had either 67 or 68 plays. Green Bay had 422 yards of offense, Detroit had 272. I need not go any further.
Onto the Bowl preview. This weekend we're treated to Wyoming v Fresno State in the "Wyoming is in a Bowl Game?" Bowl, also known as the New Mexico Bowl, or the Play It In A Fricken' Crater Bowl. Fresno State has been reasonably competitive this year. Wyoming, not so much. Losses to Colorado and a close win over Colorado State. They've been competitive in conference, which a 4-4 conference record shows.
New Year's Eve brings Minnesota v Iowa State. Both teams have losing records in-conference. Iowa State is the same Iowa State that beat Nebraska 9-7 after Nebraska turned the ball over 8 times. Nebraska never punted, because they were too busy fumbling and throwing interceptions. Minnesota has lost to Illinois, beaten MSU, lost to Wisconsin and beaten Purdue. So, typical average Big Ten team versus schizophrenic Big 12 team.
Saturday, January 2nd brings us the International Bowl. I'd watch South Florida play Northern Illinois if it was announced by Christopher Walken, but sadly, that's The Continental, not the International. But, it's in Toronto in The Dome Formerly Known As SkyDome, so maybe they will be required to announce the game in English and French. Just sleep in.
Two announcements have come out today regarding Michigan baseball with the announcement of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America's Preseason All-American list and the location of the BigTen Tournament.
Picture by Chris Dzombak
As far as the Preseason All-Americans, Michigan centerfielder Ryan LaMarre was named to the 3rd team of the All-American list. Last season, LaMarre his .344 with 55 runs, 11 doubles, 12 home runs, and 62 RBIs. LaMarre also performed well in the Cape Cod League, college baseball's most prestigious summer league, to help bolster his resume.
"This is a great honor for Ryan with the success he has had in his first two seasons," commented head coach Rich Maloney. "He is a very gifted athlete who we are looking toward for big things this season in helping our team win and reach our goals."
Congratulations to Ryan and good luck next season.
In other news, the BigTen announced today that they will indeed play the next three BigTen Conference Baseball Tournaments in Columbus. This year's game will be held at Bill Davis Stadium, on the campus of Ohio State, and the 2011 and 2012 tournaments will be held at Huntington Park, home to the Columbus Clippers and site of last year's conference tournament, located just 3 miles from the OSU campus.
This is disappointing from a Michigan fan's perspective, but I'm sure it makes the most monetary sense. The BigTen tried to solicit bids from different communities with ballparks that would be suitable to host the tournament, and I can't imagine they received too many bids.
That's 3.6 miles for those counting.
Columbus is the only BigTen team that is both in contention to play in the conference tournament year-in-and-year-out and has a ballpark that could offer a sizeable bid. East Lansing and Penn State aren't quite consistent enough to be guaranteed a spot in the tournament, which means they could end up hosting a tournament without any local support. The rest of the BigTen teams would have to host the tournament at their own facility, something that doesn't always mean profit.
So we're stuck with Columbus for the next three years.
Sigh… 65 days until baseball season.
Unless there is a football power that is available (as Penn State was in the early 90s), the most salient selection criteria should be something along the lines of "institutional similarity" to the schools in the Big Ten. For the most part, the Big Ten is comprised of flagship state schools with very good to excellent academics, research prowess, and well-rounded athletic prowess, in no particular order (were I to pick an order, I would say the first two criteria are prerequisites, but that's just my particular bent). Extra considerations are rivalries with league schools, proximity, and the catchall category of "soft variables."
ACADEMICS AND RESEARCH PROWESS
Colorado is no slouch. It was ranked #77 by U.S. News in national universities, and has strong graduate programs in law, engineering, geology, physics, and education. Additionally, it is affiliated with the AAU.
The football team was a national power in the 1990s, and remains a solid program, with a large national alumni base, and better national brand recognition than any of the schools under serious consideration (with the exception of Nebraska, which is not really under serious consideration).
RIVALRIES WITH LEAGUE SCHOOLS
Michigan fans of a certain vintage break out into a cold sweat at the very mention of the names Kordell Stewart and Micheal Westbrook, and the (in)glorious 64 yard hail mary. The 1994 game was one is a series of good games, including 1996, when Michigan got revenge at Boulder, and in 1997 when Michigan steamrolled Colorado, making it clear the '97 team was special.
There is admittedly not much beyond that, other than a Wisconsin-Colorado bowl game from the early 00s. But other than PSU-Pitt, no other team under consideration offers the rivalry factor, and you have to go back even further (i.e., the early 80s) to find a time when said rivalry had national implications.
Under the rubric of rivalries, it is worth mentioning that only one of Colorado's true rivals (Nebraska) are in the Big 12. They could open the season with Colorado State, as they have always done, and schedule Nebraska non-conference from time to time.
I have been to Boulder, and it feels like a Big Ten campus to me. A great college town. Also lefty, hip, and scenic. Lots of places to see live music, etc. Periodic road trips to Boulder beat trips to Syracuse or Pittsburg, for damn true.
I think that it also has the potential to raise the national profile of the Big Ten in a way few other schools can do. Neither Pitt or Syracuse has the national footprint that Colorado has. An average nationally televised conference game with Colorado has a better chance of getting national exposure than either Syracuse or Pitt (or, for that matter, Missouri).
Geographically, this is a stretch, but maybe not all that much of a stretch if Nebraska and Missouri are in contention.
Football Foursome Named to Sporting News Freshman All-Big Ten
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – University of Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier (San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS), wide receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison HS), outside linebacker Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral HS) and safety Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay HS) were selected to the Freshmen All-Big Ten Team announced today (Dec. 16) by Sporting News. The Wolverines’ four honorees were more than any other Big Ten Conference school.
Roundtree was the team’s top offensive performer at the end of the season, catching 30 passes for 390 yards and two touchdowns in the final four contests. He finished the year as the Wolverines’ top receiver with 32 receptions for 434 yards (13.6 avg.) and three touchdowns. Roundtree played in 11 games at slot receiver and started the final four contests as a redshirt freshman.
Forcier started at quarterback from wire-to-wire for the Wolverines, completing 165-of-281 passes (58.7 pct.) for 2,050 yards and 13 touchdowns. He carried the ball a team-high 118 times for 240 yards and scored three touchdowns. Forcier directed a pair of fourth quarter comebacks (Notre Dame and Indiana) during his initial campaign and had five games with 200 or more passing yards. He joined Chad Henne as the only true freshmen quarterbacks in school history to start every game during the season.
Roh is the first true freshman defensive player to start every game during the regular season. He posted 37 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception and three pass breakups during his rookie season. Roh registered a career high seven stops against Eastern Michigan (Sept. 19), including his first career interception and an assisted sack. He added five-tackle efforts against Purdue (Nov. 7) and Ohio State (Nov. 21).
A walk-on who kept making plays each and every week, Kovacs earned eight starts at safety and played in all 12 games on special teams. He finished the year second on the team with 75 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, one interception and forced two fumbles. He had three double-digit tackle efforts, including a league season-best 17 tackles and 2.5 TFLs at Michigan State (Oct. 3). Kovacs was named to the CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-America second team squad.
Graham and Mesko Add to All-America Accolades: Senior defensive end Brandon Graham (Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical HS) was named to SI.com’s All-America second team and fifth-year senior punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) collected second-team accolades from Phil Steele. Graham earned a fourth-team nod from Phil Steele while Mesko received honorable mention status from SI.com.
Congrats to those guys. For anyone questioning whether or not Michigan was a very young team this year, that's the most All-conference selections of any B10 squad. A couple others had 3 selections.