this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Tom (or anyone else in the know) I haven't heard anything on this board in a few months about Skyler Schofner. Are we still after him? I know he's a middle 3-star type but considering Wilson and Henderson will be tough gets at this point, do you know if he will be visiting?
In general I like the idea of signing guys from Ohio. If they blow up here (and were never offered by OSU) you know they're gonna have a little something extra for when the poisonous nuts comes to town.
Just wondering what our status is with Jelani. I heard he was supposed to trim his list down to 12 (ha!), and I know we're almost guaranteed to get an official. What are our chances with him?
Also, O-line, corner, and safety are the biggest remaining needs in the 09 class. I know we're zooming in on Lewan and Vlad, what other prospects do we have a good shot at in those three need areas?
An election day special from Tom VanHaaren.
Change we can believe in. Hope for the future.
This isn’t a cheesy political statement, but rather a description of Ricardo Miller. With the season going the way it is, Michigan needs a big time playmaker, and Miller is that player. If you haven’t watched video of the highly touted junior, take a look at his highlights from this year in the video provided:
With two spread friendly quarterbacks in this year’s class, Rich Rodriguez has got to be licking his chops with this commit.
“They use me where ever I can get a mismatch in high school, whether it’s in the slot, on the linebacker, tight end, or the outside,” Miller told me. Miller plays big, fast, and competitive. Along with his competitiveness he brings the kind of character and personality expected from a Michigan Man. Only a junior in high school, Ricardo told me he already thinks about earning the coveted number one jersey. Take a look at what else he had to say.
TOM: Tell me about your visit, all I've heard is good things from you.
RICARDO: I really liked the atmosphere, and the whole stadium. I felt like a part of the team already, and I can’t wait to prove myself. I want to show everybody I’m not just the Ricardo Miller in high school; I can help Michigan turn it around.
TOM: Did this visit really put the cap on the recruiting process for you?
RICARDO: I feel like that visit, it made my commitment stronger. Besides the loss, it was great. I’ll fit in Michigan real well, with my personality and my character. It really made me feel my decision was the right one. It was cool, all the coaches showed me love, and I knew I made the right move.
TOM: When did you really know that Michigan was it?
RICARDO: When I saw Braylon Edwards go for over 3,000 receiving yards, I said that is going to be me. I want to work for that number 1 jersey like he did.
TOM: Have other schools still been trying to recruit you?
RICARDO: I still get Florida calling, Stanford, and Rutgers. But, it’s all straightforward, I don’t really pay attention.
TOM: You're kind of like the spokesman for Michigan in Florida right now, what are you trying to tell other recruits?
RICARDO: I just tell them that no matter what decision you make, make sure it’s a good one. From what I’ve seen, I feel like Michigan has all the tools you need to be that great football player. All this talent going to one team, it’s going to be unstoppable. The SEC, ACC, we’re going beat them all. It will also help you in the process to get to the next level.
TOM: What recruits have you really be working hard on?
RICARDO: I’ve been working on Lo Wood, a cornerback from Apopka. Marvin Robinson, Michigan is still on top for him, but hasn’t made a decision. A future 5 star, Demetrius Hart, he plays running back and corner back. Whoever I can get in contact with that will go to Michigan. Demetrius Hart is excited about Michigan, and Lo Wood after being up there he thinks that Michigan is something special.
TOM: With your team right now, you are used all over on offense, have the coaches told you how they want to use you at Michigan?
RICARDO: They use me where ever I can get a mismatch in high school, whether it’s in the slot, on the linebacker, tight end, or the outside. The Michigan coaches told me that they want me mostly at WR, x and z. But if they want that mismatch, they’ll put me at tight end too.
TOM: Are you excited for that creativity that Rich Rodriguez brings? Being able to make plays specifically for you?
RICARDO: Yea, and just being around guys like that. Someone with that much ability to make a program good is exciting. The spread that he runs, he’ll make plays for me, and they’ll be big time plays, it will be crazy. To be able to make something big happen, it’s stunning. Being the kind of wide receiver I am, playing for Rich Rodriguez is going to be a dream.
TOM: Have you started to build a friendship with Shavodrick Beaver or Tate Forcier?
RICARDO: Yea, Tate I haven’t talked to yet. Beav we talked for a couple months now, just trying to get used to see how his personality is, him as a quarterback and me as a wide receiver. Beav is a cool guy.
TOM: Your Mom is a UM grad, how much did she weigh in on your decision?
RICARDO: I won’t lie; my mom was in my ear about Michigan ever since I can remember. I messed with her when I was younger, and would say I’m going to a different school, and she would say, oh no you’re not. But she’s sacrificed a lot for me, so I feel that I’m gaining another bond with her by going to Michigan.
TOM: How do you think your commitment to Michigan will have an effect on Michigan’s efforts in Florida and the south for your class?
RICARDO: By me committing and being from Florida, you don’t see too many wide receivers leaving the state. So I hope I show kids they can go anywhere, I have a positive influence on other recruits. They’ll start to think, if he’s going there maybe I should check it out, there must be something good about it.
TOM: You are miles ahead of most recruits your age, is almost a relief to know that you can focus on your senior year?
RICARDO: You don’t know how many letters and phone calls I got before I committed. My High School coach gave me the keys to the mailbox at school, and told me to go get the mail. It’s down now, and I get a lot more time to myself. I don’t worry about this coach calling, and that coach wanting to talk to me. Coming from where I come from, this is the greatest opportunity I’ll ever get. People used to tell me I was an average player, and I didn’t listen, and I feel like I can be an outstanding player.
TOM: Is there anything you want to really focus on getting better at? Since college is a big jump, what have the coaches told you to work on?
RICARDO: They feel like I basically have the essentials, but just stay focused. It’s a big step and transitioning to Michigan and a college atmosphere, I just need to stay focused on the task at hand. There are thousands of people screaming your name, and you have to be ready for whatever is thrown at you. My focus level has to be high; there will be a lot of obstacles. With my character and personality I should be fine. You can always improve, and I just want to keep improving.
TOM: Is there any possibility anyone could get you away from Michigan?
RICARDO: No, no, no. Honestly people asked me that after the visit, and I told them after seeing that atmosphere, there’s no way I’ll give up that opportunity. Rich Rodriguez said as much as you’re committed to me I’m as committed to you.
Tom VanHaaren interviews FL S Vlad Emilien, who visited last weekend.
We're starting to get down to crunch time with the recruiting process, and Michigan has a need at safety. Vlad Emilien is a hard hitting safety from, you guessed it, Florida. There's been a lot of hype about the 6' 1" safety despite a torn his ACL. The injury might have sidelined him for this season, but it hasn't changed his goal of playing for a big time college program.
TOM:How was your trip to Michigan this weekend?
VLAD: It was pretty good, I really enjoyed it. Everybody asked how I compared it to Wisconsin, and I like Wisconsin and Michigan the same. I try to put pros and cons about each of them, and there’s no leader yet. Both schools have strong coach to player relationships, which is what I really like.
TOM:Who was your player host? Did you get along with him?
VLAD:Brandon Smith and Kenny Demens. They’re good freshman, we got along real well. They’re young, and they were telling me how competitive it really is. Everybody gets a chance to play, no matter how old.
TOM:Do you have a top 3?
VLAD:If I had to name a leader today it’s Wisconsin and Michigan.
TOM:What do you think will be the deciding factor?
VLAD:Just how the school is academic wise, and atmosphere wise. How I feel around the team and players. I like the little details of the schools. I’m trying to look at the things that would be beneficial after 4 years.
TOM: I read that you have a 3.8 GPA, so academics must be important to you. How will that play in?
VLAD: Yea I’ve been weighing the pros and cons again. Michigan has a very good business school, and Wisconsin has a good school too. Those schools ranked very high in the country. It hasn’t been hard in that aspect, because either way I’ll have a good degree from a good school.
TOM:On your visit, did the coaches talk about early playing time? Is that important to you?
VLAD:It’s very important. I’m always going to have to battle, I love competition. But I like that there’s a better opportunity to play early and battle out freshman rather than juniors or seniors at Michigan. I’m going to be pretty smart about the depth charts and deciding.
TOM:How many more visits are you planning?
VLAD:I plan to visit Stanford November 16th, and I’m still scheduling the Ohio State vs. Michigan Game, I still haven’t officially done it yet.
TOM:What happened with Ohio State? Does it bother you?
VLAD:They just started talking to me the last couple months. There was a misunderstanding with the recruiting. They were trying to take in two safeties, because of a mishap with one of their safeties. I’m very interested. I felt kind of like I was the second choice, but business is business. I would love a chance to go that school. It just didn’t happen the way I wanted to happen, I just have to move on from that.
TOM:When do you think you’ll make your decision public?
VLAD:I’m going to make it public November 23rd. I’m not sure where yet.
TOM:Wherever you go, do you plan on graduating early?
VLAD:Yes I do. I want to get to college as soon as possible.
TOM:You missed this year with a torn ACL, are you excited to get back out there? Have any of the schools shown concern about the injury?
VLAD:I’m just training right now. It’s very exciting, the thought of getting back out there. I didn’t have a chance to prove to these colleges and recruiting sites that I should have been an all American. They’re not concerned, because I’m going to play spring ball, and I’m very anxious to get out there.
TOM:So what are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses?
VLAD:My personality is a strength. I am like an extra coach on the field, very vocal, and try to be a leader.One of my weaknesses is I’ve been working on my tackling, and getting my technique better. I want to be more of a dynamic player. I still have a lot to learn. When I learn what’s needed for college, I’ll be an explosive player. I want to learn as much as I can right away.
TOM:Have you analyzed what defense you think you would fit into the best?
VLAD:I focus on everything; I like a two back safety type of defense. I can play anything as long as they let me roam, and just make plays.
TOM:Was there a dream school growing up that you always wanted to go to?
VLAD:University of Miami. As I got older I realized that’s not going to be the right place. I didn’t even really have a dream school that much; I just focused on doing the best I can, so everybody considered me the best.
TOM:Now that you’ve had the chance to see all these schools recruiting you, how do you make sure you make the right decision?
VLAD:I feel like I’m going to follow my gut. This is a very important decision, it’s my future. I’m looking at what school will help me be the kind of person I want to be. A lot of the schools offer the same thing, so I’m trying to weigh the options.
TOM:Was there one thing about any school that has really stuck out to you? Something that you still think about?
VLAD:There are a lot of similarities, both Michigan and Wisconsin coaches treat their players like their sons. I think that’s what stuck out the most, I really like that.
Introducing some original reporting on MGoBlog: Tom VanHaaren is the official Recruiting Intern and will be publishing interviews with various prospects.
The Junior recruiting class for Michigan is starting to take shape, well before the current class has even wrapped up. As Michigan fans, we've heard of the speed and skill that a Rich Rodriguez built offense can bring. We are starting to see that take shape with recent commitments from Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. There's a good chance we could see more this coming weekend as well. I caught up with Jeremy Jackson to ask him what he thought about his season, other recruits, and Michigan.
TOM (MGoBlog): How’s your season going so far?
JEREMY (JJ): I'm trying to get to 5-4, that's a big accomplishment at my school.
TOM: What are your goals for this year and next year? Where do you want to be at when you go to UM?
JJ: I want to make the playoffs my senior year. They haven’t talked about speed, but my Dad just told me to keep working hard every day. I ran a 4.58 at camp, and I’d like to get that down to a 4.4 or 4.5. I want to improve my weight, and I can’t really improve my height at all, so I’ll focus on those. I’m assuming they want me to gain weight, they haven’t mentioned it. Rich Rodriguez isn’t influencing me on my speed either; it’s just a goal of mine. My route running and catching ability are my strengths right now, which helps.
TOM: Has it always been a dream to play alongside your dad?
JJ: I never really thought about playing with him coaching me, because he’s never coached my little league teams. It’s weird but it’ll be great.
TOM: Does your dad feel the program is moving in the right direction?
JJ: Oh yeah, he told me to look at this year, but don’t look at this year. He told me not to pay attention to the negative criticism, and don’t worry about any negative media. With this year and next year’s QB and recruiting class, Michigan will be fine. When I get there, they’ll be in good position. I just want to focus on High School.
TOM: If you were Rich Rodriquez right now, what would you tell recruits about the season?
JJ: Michigan is going to have the best facilities in the nation by 2010, Rich Rodriguez ran a great offense at WVU, he’s a winner, and it’s just a down year. And the defense, coach Schaeffer runs a great scheme. We’re going to have a great defense; it’s just a matter of time. Tate Forcier and Beaver are coming, and they’re both really good.
TOM: You have a strong tie with the team, but how do you think losing has affected some other recruits?
JJ: Seeing the season, they see other teams that are successful now; but they can’t look to see the future. They shouldn’t look for the future. It’s hard because a lot of people say things like “your team sucks.” That’s the worst part is when people say bad things about Michigan, other coaches and fans.
TOM: It seems like you’ve developed a friendship with Marvin Robinson and Ricardo Miller, do you guys talk a lot?
JJ: I Talk to Ricardo a lot, not Marvin as much. I talk to him and joke with him a lot. Not always talking about football, which I like.
TOM: Are there any other recruits from your class that you think would be a good fit, or that you really want on your team?
JJ: Christian Lombard, he’s a good lineman, I’ve been talking with him a lot. Dad wants me to talk to Travis Hawkins. I want to work on Dior Mathis and Devin Gardner. Ricardo’s been working on Lo Wood a lot; he’s been getting in his ear.
TOM: Florida seems to be the new addition to the pipeline, is there a buzz in Florida right now? What are the kids from Florida saying about Michigan?
JJ: They want to come. Look at Michigan's commits: Vincent smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Jeremy Gallon. It’s only going to get better. It’s going to spread. Ricardo’s from Orlando, he keeps working on kids. Michigan is going to grow there. Get real relationships with high school coaches. But people are always going to do negative recruiting; coaches are already talking to Ricardo trying to get him from Michigan.
TOM: Is there anything with the new Coaching staff that’s different from the old that stands out to you? Good or Bad?
JJ: Both staffs were nice. I see more energy from all the new coaches. Real fast tempo. The old coaches weren’t bad. The new coaches will be good though, everyone wants to win and they show it. I train with Barwis, he’s taught me how to train and eat. He’s a great coach. Barwis got me faster and stronger. He has speed training, it’s not really doing that much, you just learn how to run. They condition and lift hard, but the speed drills gets you faster, and it’s not too hard, but it works.
TOM: How does Rich Rod see you fitting in? I know you want to play early, has he said that’s a possibility?
JJ: Yea, just come up there and work hard every day. I have an advantage to learn all the plays; I’m going to ask my dad teach me the plays. My dad will help me with all the plays. Commit to the training. It doesn’t seem necessary to enroll early, I already have an advantage. I go home every night, and my dad will get in my ear if I don’t work hard.
TOM: It seems like Tate Forcier has a good chance of being your QB, have you reached out to him at all? What’d you guys talk about?
JJ: I talked with him and his brother Jason, I talk to Jason more. He’s excited. I talked to Tate about his brother and how I know him. I really like Jason, but my Dad said Tate is going to be good. My dad compared his arm to Chad Henne. He’s not going to sit around and run, he’s gonna pass more.
TOM: It seems like your class might have a chip on their shoulder coming in, or something to prove. What do you hope to prove or accomplish at Michigan?
JJ: I haven’t gotten that far. I know the juniors that are committed now; they all love Michigan and want to play there. The ‘08 class wasn’t Rich Rod’s recruits. 09 has gotten a little better, and ’10 is going to be killer.
TOM: Let me hear your pitch of why another player should choose Michigan?
JJ: Michigan traditionally has won the most games in college football, over 110,000 people are at every game, you’re always on national TV, there’s a great chance to play in NFL, the best coaches, best strength class, best facilities in ’10, the best education, I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to go here.