Tom VanHaaren interviews one of the top OL prospects in the class of 2010.
I recently had the privilege of talking with Robert Crisp. I’m sure not too many people know that name yet, but "yet" is the key word. Crisp is a 6’8” 295 pound junior left tackle, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and he's one of the best in the 2010 class.
As big as he is, Robert runs a 4.85 40, and still looking to improve his time. He is a monster that plays on both sides of the ball. Basketball was his first love, and he didn’t even start playing football until a year and a half ago. He currently plays football, basketball, and will start track for his high school this year. Here’s the conversation we had.
TOM: You’re a junior, and it seems like you’re still a little under the radar. Tell me a little about yourself.
ROB: I’m 6 feet 8 inches and 295lbs. Our team is doing pretty good; we lost Friday 31-34. Our record is 6-3. We’re still looking okay though; we should have a chance to win it all. We made it to the playoffs last year, to the 3rd round. That’s not normal for our school, but we’ve been good since I’ve been there.
TOM: Now, I read that you are 6 feet 8 inches tall, 295 pound Offensive Tackle, and you run a 4.85 40? Is that right?
ROB: Yea, I ran that last year, I’m still around that, but I’m always trying to improve on it.
TOM: So are you a multisport athlete then? Basketball and Track too?
ROB: Yeah, well, in football I play offensive tackle, and defensive tackle. I also play basketball, which used to be my main sport. I was better at basketball than football. I’m going to start with shot put this year too.
TOM: Is being athletic something that you’ve worked on, or has it come naturally?
ROB: I just like to work hard, what I’ve learned, I do in the game. I like to pay attention and learn. My coaches have been crucial to my success.
TOM: You’re still young, but you’re going to start seeing and hearing a lot about colleges pretty soon. What is most important to you for the next level?
ROB: Academics is the first thing I think of. Who knows if I can go to the NFL, so I want a good education. Staying with my brother Pete is important, and being able to keep in touch with my guardian. I would love to go to college with Pete, who plays wide receiver and safety, we’ll see if that happens though. The last thing is just the environment on game day.
TOM: Are there any schools right now that stick out to you?
ROB: I don’t say I have a school on my mind right now, no favorite yet. I just think about where I’ll get the best education and opportunity.
TOM: Being from North Carolina there’s been a new rise with the schools there, have you seen any of those teams in person yet? Talked to any of the coaches?
ROB: No I haven’t gotten a chance to talk with them. I went to Duke last weekend, but other than that no.
TOM: Do you want to stay on the Offensive Line in college? Has anyone talked about moving you anywhere else?
ROB: I definitely want to play left tackle, if they give me the chance to play both I will. I’ll do whatever is best for the team. I try to stay humble.
TOM: You’ve got offers from Boston College, Clemson, Georgia, and Michigan to name a few. Is there one offer that you’re really hoping to get?
ROB: Last year I wanted an offer from Florida. But when I went, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I still haven’t even gotten an offer yet, but I’m not really that excited any more. Maybe they don’t know about me, but I went down there in person, so that affects it a little bit, but not totally.
TOM: Growing up, was there one college team that you always followed, always wished you could play for?
ROB: Duke. I always dreamed about going to Duke. Basketball was my first love, and I wanted to play for the Duke basketball team.
TOM: Do you know a lot about Michigan football?
ROB: I actually don’t. We were looking for tickets to fly up this weekend, but it’s too expensive right now.
TOM: Offensive line is a big need for Michigan and always a need for a lot of teams; will early playing time affect your decision?
ROB: I don’t think so. The starting position is the guy that works the hardest and learns the most. If I work harder then I deserve it. If I don’t work hard, then I don’t deserve it.
TOM: Does it make a difference of how much coaches show interest, and how much they talk to you?
ROB: I understand if they can’t talk to me right now, they’re in the middle of their season. But hearing from them a lot is good, but I understand they’ve got work to do.
TOM: So is everyone still pretty equal, are there any schools you know you want to see?
ROB: There are some schools I want to see, I still want to come see Michigan and LSU. But there’s no leader.
TOM: Have your coaches helped you at all, early on, to sort the process out?
ROB: They told me about the rules and regulations of recruiting. But they haven’t really tried to lead me on to any schools.
TOM: When do you think you’ll start planning visits?
ROB: After this football season. I haven’t decided if I’m going to play basketball yet. But I’m going to get some trips in after the football season.
TOM: Are you the kind of guy who wants to get your decision out of the way to stay focused, or take your time with everything and make a decision later on?
ROB: I’m going wait it out, and try to get as much information as possible. Tommy Bowden told me this is one of the most important decisions I’ll make. I’m going to wait until my senior year.
I have never been a big believer in sports "curses," but I can't help but notice a particular trend that has occurred in the last couple of years. Let me lay out the scenario first:
It was Novemeber 17th, 2006, about thirty hours prior to Michigan facing The Nameless Terror in arguably the biggest game in the rivalry's history: both teams undefeated, ranked #1 and #2. Michigan had defeated all odds by coming off an extremely disappointing 2005 season to get to this point, and while pressure was building on Lloyd Carr as he had only one win against The Demon of the Ancient World, there was still a feeling of confidence for the Maize & Blue faithful.
And it was at this time that our beloved leader passed.
And somewhere in a different dimension, all the Angry michigan-football-hating-gods had a wild party to celebrate. The party got out of hand, the police were called, and this manifested itself in the form of a giant black hole eating up an entire galaxy, trillions of extra-terrestrial lives were lost...
...and This happened:
yet another loss to DOTAW and Nameless Terror, another loss in the Rose Bowl. Then, in a chance for redemption, one of the most hyped Michigan teams in recent memory with a bonified Heisman candidate RB, a future first overall pick at LT, a 4th year starter at QB, and a couple of future NFL receivers, Michigan lost to arguably the lowest rated team they have ever faced.
Then Oregon finished off a four game losing streak for the first time in... how long?
Then BAM! Wisconsin and Nameless Terror again.
And my point is, Michigan is now 12-13 since Bo's passing, so I ask: when was the last time Michigan had this bad a record over a 25-game stretch? Maybe I'm crazy, but I just want to throw it out there.
This season stinks. No question about it. However, let's put things into a little perspective. This type of season is not unprecedented among the so-called "elite" of college football (a highly subjective list of my own choosing). Many "brand names" have faltered badly, some worse than our own beloved Wolverines this season. Frankly, it does make me feel a little less bad about the season. Combine that with the fact that RR has had an excellent track record wherever he has been and I have what I feel is justified optimism for the future of Michigan football.
Michigan: projected record of 4-8 (beat NU, lose to osu). First losing season since 1965.
Alabama: 5 losing seasons since 1993, including 1-12 (1993), 3-8 (2000), 4-9 (2003). Edit: it's been pointed out to me that 'Bama forfeited a lot of games in 1993, hence the crappy record. Point still stands, however, given 2000 and 2003.
Florida: Ok, really have to reach back for this one. They haven't had a losing season since 1979, but it was a doozy (0-10-1). They've actually been no worse than mediocre since, with the real upswing in the Spurrier era.
Florida State: After losing 19 games in 14 seasons (1987-2000), they've lost 17 in the past 3 (not counting 2008). Not quite the massive fall from grace witnessed elsewhere, but consecutive 7-6 seasons had a lot of people grumbling.
Georgia: After a national championship in 1980, they suffered 3 losing seasons in 7 years (1990-1996). A couple of beatdowns by top-ranked teams in 2008, but still ranked and miles ahead of the Goff/Donnan years.
LSU: We think of them as upper-echelon now, but there was a time from 1989-1999 where they had more losing seasons (8, including 2-9 and 3-8 campaigns) than winning seasons (3).
Nebraska: Thanks, Mr Bill. Nebraska has had 2 losing seasons in the past 4. Still have work to do in Lincoln.
Notre Dame: I won't dwell, but they've had 4 losing seasons since Michigan won the national championship. Michigan is having a bad season, but at least it's not MULTIPLE crappy seasons. There, I feel better now.
ohio state: Their most recent losing season was 1988 (and yes, Michigan eked out the win, thankfully), the first of the Cooper era. They've been decent since then (bastards), but there was a point where they sucked.
Oklahoma: They're great now, but there was a 4 year stretch from 1995-1998 where they never had more than 5 wins (3 losing seasons, including 3-8 one year).
Penn State: Again, won't dwell, but they've had 4 losing seasons since 2000 (in a 5 year span, I might add). They're all cocky and uppity now, but the 2000-2004 PSU fan would not have bragged so much.
Tennessee: Losing season in 2005. Plus, they're also 3-7 so far this season.
Texas: They've passed their doldrums, having had 6 losing seasons from 1987-1996. But those were some serious doldrums.
USC: Since 1983, only 3 losing seasons. BUT, they've also sprinkled in four .500 seasons and two 6-5 seasons. Number of 10-win seasons from 1980-2001? One. Michigan over that same timespan? Eight.
Losing still sucks, but don't you feel better now? Michigan football can (and, I believe, WILL) be back, as RR put it.
I just got back from a couple of nights in New Orleans and the LSU - Alabama game. Here are my observations from some classic football tourism:
Short of Austin where you can party in town one night, then take a cab to the game the next morning, the New Orleans / LSU game may be one of the great college tourism set ups.
It is about 80 miles from New Orleans from Baton Rouge. The Louisiana drivers are probably the only people that drive faster than Michigan drivers. The do it at about 90 MPH in big ass F250 and F350 Pickups and aren't afraid to tailgate (not the football kind).
We made the trip in no time then got off the freeway when it started to back up. We made it fast to about 3 miles from the stadium when traffic just locked up. This was two hours before game time and we could have walked faster from this point. Traffic and parking sucked - you would think LSU had never seen a crowd. We got to about 400 yards to the stadium then got sent back down another road away from the stadium. People were parking on the shoulder of the road, in the medians and literally in the left turn lanes (those folks got tickets) It was insane and totally f'd up. We drove through some ghetto apartment complexes and ended up on a road by the Mississippi River. We literally parked on the side of the road by the levee - had to walk two miles past cow pastures (with cows in the pasture!) then through the 'official' parking areas. We - my wife and I - did meet a nice LSU couple (more on them later) and we followed them on the trek to the stadium.
Three miles of travel, two hours before gametime and a two mile hike - we ended up with zero LSU tailgating experience - we met my friend with our tickets and got into the game with 3 minutes to spare before kickoff.
Pre-Kickoff - this was the absolutely loudest pre kick off I've ever experienced. The place was rocking - then they decided to launch fireworks before the LSU team came out. It was totally out of control and I was thinking this place is as loud as everyone says it is.
Our seats - we were with friends from Bama and we were Bama fans for the day. My wife had a Bama shirt on (from a trip to Tuscaloosa last year). I had a yellow Michigan T Shirt and a yellow M hat. We were in the south end zone - row 24 at the back of the Bama section - Tiger fans hard on our tail - about ten rows of them on our level and another tier above
The stadium - I was glad to be in the good Bama seats - endzone - vs the last row of the upper deck, those seats must have sucked. It was loud but not constantly loud and other than the start of the game and when the field goal was blocked at the end of regulation not as loud as you'd think from the stories you hear. This could be because it was not a 7PM game and people couldn't get to their pregame tailgates because of the F'in traffic! The stadium inside is a bit of a pit. We decided they actually have narrower aisles the Michigan Stadium and they paint the seat #s closer together. We stood up the whole game (no "down in front"). We also decided the Louisianans have a general lack of cleanliness. There is crap all over campus and all over the stadium. My wife saw two used tampons on the floor in the woman's bathroom.......
The game - one of the great ones. Alabama tried to lose it in the first half but still exited that half tied at 14. LSU's quarterback, had he been accurate, could have won the game. He wasn't and they didn't. We thought it was game LSU when they blocked the field goal but then there was that last INT in overtime.... The LSU fans may have been more subdued than normal due to the final score.
Football Tourism - like Brian at Auburn, I got a lot of "you are at the wrong game", "the big house is 1500 miles from here" etc. My standard response was that after our season, I needed to come see some football the way the SEC does it. Given that my shirt was yellow I also had a number of Tide fans think I was on the LSU side. Once I explained the football tourism I think most people got - all were cordial
The LSU fans - we were a bit apprehensive wearing Alabama colors (my buddy had a Bama shirt for me but that didn't work because of the f'in traffic!!!) and we heard stories that had them ranking up there with Buckeye fans. I was also expecting crap to rain down on us from up above. Nothing bad happened. Every LSU fan we met was at least ambivalent while most where down right friendly. I think the LSU fans are some of the best in college football.
LSU Tailgating - the LSU website talks about their great tailgating tradition - I have to say we did not see it. I thought the traffic was going to be a function of tons of folks hanging out and partying (not going to the game) we didn't see much of that. As I said we missed the pregame tailgating so I was looking forward to the post game tailgate (that and we knew there was no way to get out of town....) It wasn't very impressive. We ended up in the equivalent of the Victors club lot where our Alabama friends were tailgating with some LSU friends. In the smallest of small worlds - the LSU couple we hiked in with were at the tailgate that we ended up at. The LSU fans were great but there was very, very little tailgating post game - ten times less than I've seen in the lot by Crisler Arena - I don't care that this was an LSU loss, nobody was going anywhere fast anyway.
The Campus - we stopped by the next morning on our way back to the New Orleans airport. What a dirty place! they had the convicts - Dixon Correctional Institute - cleaning up the place. At least they were putting their tax dollars to use but maybe if they had trash cans and taught the local how to use them?!?. We wondered why Ms. Miles would want to live in Baton Rouge vs. Ann Arbor - I mean how much are your millions worth if you have to live in a $h!t H@#*?
All in all a great trip. Awesome game and the LSU fans are some of the best. Great stadium, mediocre tailgating, horrendous traffic and parking.
Michigan fans suck. We're annoying and we don't care. All of our fans are old and stupid. We are all frontrunning, fairweather fans who know nothing about the game. The Big House is the quietest stadium on God's lovely earth.
I was reading the Maize N Brew recap (http://www.maizenbrew.com/2008/11/9/657410/a-trip-to-austin-puts-mich) of a Texas game and it reminded me about Michigan fans' depressive nature regarding our own game experiences. Time and time again, I've heard Michigan fans complain about, well, Michigan fans. And, honestly, I used to be the same way, constantly bitching about Big House noise.
But then, I started to get around the Big Ten (and a couple of bowl games, as well), started paying attention to teams from other parts of the country, started meeting other fans, and came to a very, very odd conclusion: compared to just about everyone else, Michigan fans are good. Seriously, we're all so self-conscious about it, but we're not that bad. Sure, some old people suck and god knows the "Fire RichRod" contigency annoys the bejesus out of me, but really, every fan base has a group of spoiled, annoying old people that never get up (see: Brian's Auburn post).
Now, before you start hyperventilating, I think we can all recognize that Michigan is a big time college football program, and, as such, will have a superior game day atmosphere and fan base excitement level than most teams right off the bat. Anyone that has been to Northwestern's high school stadium or Indiana's We're at 50% Capacity?! That's a New Record! Field, can say that Michigan is automatically in the top 25 of all college footballdom in terms of game day hype and fanbase loyalty/excitement/etc.
So of that 10 percent, which fanbase would you classify as superior to ours? Rank it how you'd like (go ahead and do it in the comments section right now!). You can emphasize crowd noise, stadium wow-factor, tailgating experience, general nuttiness, tradition, fan friendliness/intimidating meanness, etc.
As far as DEFINITELY 100% better than us, my list is probably this, give or take (in no order):
-Oregon (they are SO loud)
-Tennessee (?? Maybe?)
Not all of those are home runs. Oregon seriously lacks tradition. Bama fans are delusional. VT's tailgating is supposedly decentralized and lacking. I couldn't think of a reason to keep Tenn. off the list, yet, I kind of feel like they shouldn't be on there. But I think combining everything, those schools have a case to be better than us.
You may notice that Wisconsin is not on there. That is because Wisconsin fans don't show up until halfway through the game in both hockey and football. West Virginia? A little too Middle-of-nowhere-kind-of-irrelevant-program-y. I really thought about putting Oklahoma/Nebraska on there... but... I dunno, didn't feel right. Also, Notre Dame? I've heard they are exceedingly friendly to a creepy fault... plus... the whole paranoid attention whore thing...
So that puts us about 10th. If you really wanna be negative about it, how about 15th? That puts us ahead of 114 other schools in D-IA alone. Trips to Penn State and Ohio State (as well as interacting with Gator fans last year) showed me that other fans are just as easily taken out of the game as we are (I know it's not the best thing to watch, but check the #1-#2 OSU game and hear how quickly the crowd lost its edge during our first drive... this happened every time we started moving the ball until the very end of the game). Penn State seemed louder than us, but I have a friend on the cheerleading squad who swears on his life that Penn State was not louder than we were during, say, Wisconsin earlier this year. And that's with a stadium built straight up into the sky.
During this season that I have nicknamed "Michigan Hate 2008," let everyone else hate on us. Don't start hating yourself: we have an amazing tradition, a passionate/if somewhat crazed fan base, we're friendly to all non-OSU/non-MSU fans (and intimidatingly awful to those two), we have no creepy redneck racist undertones (see: Penn State), our stadium is impressive, in short, we're really not that bad. Well, at least our fans aren't.
Would love a little help from the Mgoblog cyberspace on the QB situation in 2009 and beyond. My best guess would be the following depth chart :
1) Threet 3 years of eligibility
2) Sheridan 2 years left
3) Forcier 4 years left
4) Beaver 4 years left
5) Feagin 3 years left
6) Cone 2 years left
I would think we would red shirt one of the 2 freshman and likely shift Feagin back to slot receiver or DB. One of the 2 freshman would provide the change of pace/limited offense QB in a 2 QB offense (the role Feagin played, quite well I might add, this week). We may pull a Buckeye, and mid-way through the season go with the dual threat QB.
Would we then put recruiting a QB on the backburner for the 2010 (no need to stockpile so many QBs). How many QBs do we really want at the same time? Can we have so many scholarships tied up in QBs (I guess we can not provide a 5th year to Cone/Sheridan in 2010 and Threet in 2011). Can we do that, not give a 5th year to a QB, how does that work? It seems like the spread can create a few more injuries (even though a previous article argued there were fewer hits..), so I think having 3 QBs who can play each year is good (including 1 change of pace guy or a younger QB who is fast but needs to learn the offense). Does anyone think we will have a transfer this year?
On an unrelated note, am I allowed to think big on 2009 as we get both PSU and OSU at home!!!?