The first of three posts from yesterday's Media Day. Tomorrow: The assistant coaches.
Austin White is the only player that has left the roster in the past few days. For Rodriguez's full comments on White, see yesterday's post.
QB. Quarterback rotation (if it happens) is by feel, not a scripted thing. They're getting closer to finding two guys to win with. Won't be there at every position, but quarterback will have that. The three quarterbacks are responding well to the ongoing competition. The race won't be settled within the next couple days.
"Rod Smith has done - particularly with Devin and Denard - getting some of the throwing stuff down and decision-making down in the pass game. We've really simplified things to help in that regard."
Denard's throwing mechanics are better, and his knowledge of where to go with the ball is better. "It's a natural maturation with any quarterback, understanding where to go with the ball, where your eyes are at, particularly in the passing game."
In this offense, those factors are important in the run game as well. Rodriguez is pleased with Gardner's progress. He's never played before, but he's talented and is battling for job.
RB. Running backs will be a committee and there's not one guy separating. "I see us having a situation where there's 2, 3, maybe even 4 guys that emerge a little bit. That's not a bad situation to get in." It's hard to get them all reps, for comfort with QBs. Three or four guys will play tailback in the first game.
Vincent Smith has not been tentative with his knee except the first couple practices back. "He's 100%. He's ready to go."
Stephen Hopkins has progressed really well. He's a big physical guy. Initially, the coaches thought he would redshirt, but he'll probably play this fall because the team needs a big back in some situations.
OL. The offensive line is much improved over last couple years. Two years ago, Schilling was only guy with any game experience. "Not quite as talented 1s and 2s deep-wise as we would like to be... We'll have 7-8 guys that we feel comfortable with playing." Ricky Barnum and Rocko Khoury can back up at any interior position. More guys are ready than the last two years. Pretty close to what we want there. Experienced starters backed up by talented, but inexperienced guys.
Upperclassmen Huyge and Dorrestein are battling to keep the offensive tackle spots. "The two young tackles Schofield and Lewan have been pretty solid. They're bigger; They're stronger." The competition has been pretty good, Perry and Mark have responded to the challenge, and are having their best camp in the past three years.
DL. Don't want to compare people to Brandon Graham, because he's a once-in-a-lifetime player. "We don't have a guy that's 'BG-ready' to play right now, but who does?" Several guys can create pressure, including Roh. Mike Martin can create pressure from his position. The unit as a whole has to replace Graham.
Davion Rogers had a "clearinghouse thing," and just got into the mix. [Ed: probably explains why he's so skinny. He's a lock to redshirt anyway.] Jibreel Black is the frosh lineman with greatest chance to play this year. He's not ready to start, but he will provide some depth as long as he continue to progress. "He's a very active guy. He's got great get-off. He wears #55, and he looks a little bit like BG at times, but he's not quite that strong and explosive." He has natural athletic ability, and Rodriguez is pleased with his progress.
Craig Roh played at 225 last year, and he's closer to 240 or 245. "He's running just as well if not better." The added weight and experience show.
LB. "Obi [Ezeh] has really responded to the challenge." He can play all three linebacker positions, and played two of them yesterday. Great job being a leader - like whole senior class. He's a good player and wants to prove himself in his final year. He's not geting hung up on starters, worrying about how to help the team win.
JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens have played a bit, lots of special teams. They've had good camps. JB knows the defense very well and can play a few different positions. Demens has also had a solid camp. More linebackers will play. Ezeh, Moundros, and Mouton (veterans) will be the biggest key. Usually guys have their best season as seniors. "If every one of our seniors has our best year, particularly defensively... we'll be OK."
Hybrid. Jordan Kovacs earned a starting spot last year. "He's taken some challenges and maintained that position so far." Just a great story. He's in better shape now, and his experience shows up. "He's gonna be a huge factor for our defense."
Josh Furman has done well. He could play OLB/S position, or grow into a WILL/Samm linebacker. Will have a great career. One of the fastest freshmen, not sure if he has a shot to play this year. Physically he has a chance to play this year, the coaches need to evaluate him mentally.
DB. Cameron Gordon has more to learn, but Rodriguez says "we're looking for a big year from him." He's very physical, but hasn't played on the big stage yet.
A couple veterans will step in at corner after Woolfolk's injury, James Rogers has had a good camp. Freshmen are competing at that position. It's a young secondary (and would have been even with Troy), a couple guys will move back and forth. "Our defensive coaches have a pretty good plan to be able to compensate for that." All freshman corners are getting lots of reps because of the situation in the secondary. They missed meetings the first week of camp because of the Bridge Program, but now they have a couple weeks to focus solely on football.
Marvin Robinson and a few other frosh will probably not redshirt. "More than you'd like at this point." All three corners will probably play - Cullen Christian, Terrence Talbott, and Courtney Avery. Carvin Johnson and Ray Vinopal have a chance to play at safety. This week is most critical between summer school and fall school.
Carvin Johnson has played a little bit at corner, along with Teric Jones. After watching film from Saturday and Wednesday scrimmages, they'll determine the 4-5 corners that have to be ready for the first game.
There's no word on the timeframe for Woolfolk's injury until after he can have surgery. He will be able to play again at some point. "Troy's as tough an individual as you'll ever be able to find, so he'll bounce back from it."
Special Teams. Kicking and punting are a concern because there's no game experience. Feel better now than two weeks ago. Broekhuizen and Gibbons are both doing well on kickoffs, and getting more consistent on their field goals. "Our freshman punter is a real talent - Will Hagerup - and I mean a real talent. He's had some days where he's kicked and I'm "wow look at this.'"
The scrimmage went well and nobody got hurt. "I saw some good and bad on both sides." Offensive execution was decent with wet ball. Defense didn't tackle too well. There were a couple turnovers, for first time in a few days. "Some guys stood out a little bit, and other guys still have a ways to go before they can be ready to play for us."
QB play was pretty solid. Receiver play was good, especially slots with Roundtree, Grady and Gallow having good days.. Shaw had a good day, Cox and Smith each had a few good runs. The offensive line was good, which the coaches expect from them now.
Mike Martin was limited because the coaches already know what he can do. He been the team's most consistent defensive player since camp started. Molk scrimmaged yesterday a little bit. "We didn't have him go the whole time for precautionary reasons, but he got a few good series in and did pretty well." Vincent Smith was able to go full bore.
There will be another (smalller) scrimmage Wednesday. After that, the projected two-deep and travel squad will be mostly settled. At a lot of positions, guys are competing to be #2 on the depth chart.
"It's not a true 3-3-5." As much scheme remains from last year as there is new stuff. They're keeping it simpler because of youth and the need to play a little faster. "From a mental standpoiont, there were a few mistakes yesterday's scrimmage," but they've done a good job with the mental game through camp. They've had a lot to digest so far, and the next couple weeks will be easier because there isn't as much installation.
Pleased with the team's attitude and work ethic the last two weeks. Though it's a small senior class, they've done a great job with leadership over the summer and the last couple weeks. Team is hungry, anxious to prove themselves.
Notice in practice that guys have been there through a couple camps, and know practice routine. Moving around a little quicker. People who have come in from the outside notice how much quicker guys are moving in certain situations.
The team has some fundamental work to do. It's tough, because you can't tackle every day in camp, or guys will get hurt. "Other than yesterday, I thought they did pretty well tackling in camp."
Team strengths are offensive skill players, experience along the offensive front, and attitude and team speed on defense. "We're not as deep experience-wise, so probably my biggest concern is experience defensively." The team feels a sense of urgency.
For the new captain method, we selected Moundros and Schilling, and will select two more at the end of the season. Mark and Steve have done well, other seniors are excited for the opportiunity to prove themselves and be game captains and maybe year-end captains.
Same pressure to succeed as every year. "Any time a player or coach says 'well I have nothing left to prove,' he'll never get any better."
Brock leading team out will be pretty emotional. Rodriguez spent time with Mrs. Mealer yesterday. Brock's progress and work ethic are amazing, and he's dedicated his life to proving he can walk. To do that in front of our fans and national tv will be emotional. It will be (and has been) an inspiration for the whole team.
Connecticut - Know them well, played them a few years. They get a lot of respect for the past couple years. Most of a good team from last year is coming back. They'll come downhill and make you beat them. Some players have watched film on them, and the whole group will start watching more film this week.
Michigan's 2010 recruiting class is now down a fourth member, as spring enrollee Austin White is no longer with the team. When he wasn't listed on the Media Day roster, I asked Michigan Football spokesman Dave Ablauf about it, and his answer was short and sweet: "That's permanent." Coach Rich Rodriguez expanded a bit in his statements to the media:
"Austin White is no longer in the program. So, we wish him well, we'll help him in that regard, but we're - he's no longer part of the Michigan football family.
From the tone of both Ablauf and Rodriguez's remarks, it sounds like the decision was more in the hands of the program than White himself.
Fortunately for me, I spent most of last fall following White around, so here are some highlights of his senior season of high school:
As for impact on the program, it shouldn't be a big factor. White was a lock to redshirt in 2010, and even then he was looking up at several players on the depth chart. Michigan can fill the void his departure creates in 2011 and 2012 recruiting.
The kids are in and the winter sports are slowly strangling whatever hopes you had, so the next major event you won't stare at a bottle of pills after is spring practice. Time for primers. Positions I'll be looking at hard in a month or two:
Fifth-year senior Mark Ortmann graduates. Ortmann was no Jake Long but by the end of his career at Michigan he was a solid pass protector and okay in the run game. If Michigan can get an equal performance from a freshman or sophomore that's a win.
The favorite is redshirt sophomore Patrick Omameh, who drew into the lineup late last year when David Molk went down with injury and the right guard spot became persistently unsettled after David Moosman slid over to center. Omameh made a few impressive plays downfield…
…and was generally functional. Though he ended up at guard last year that was an effort to get Michigan's best five linemen on the field more than anything else. Omameh has always been regarded a left tackle prospect.
Omameh's main competition will come from two redshirt freshman. Taylor Lewan was a late-blooming prospect from Arizona who got acres of hype—the Long comparisons were rife—and has an enormous ceiling. Omameh has experience on Lewan but if those two are far and away the top two candidates for starting jobs they might leave Omameh at guard and insert Lewan. Michael Schofield is another redshirt freshman who was well-regarded as a recruit and will have a shot at the job, but he may be better suited for right tackle.
Hoping for… Lewan. Jumping into the starting lineup as a freshman would be Long-like for a guy who has drawn Long comparisons, and it would presumably allow Omameh to slide over to right tackle to help lock down the area from which most of Tate Forcier's wild-ass scrambles were born.
Expecting… Omameh. With three starts to his name and no current starters a threat to move to left tackle, Omameh is a prohibitive favorite.
The aforementioned Moosman was Michigan's most consistent offensive lineman the last two years when not forced to play center due to Molk's injuries. Though he was consistent, he wasn't great; his prominence says more about the state of Michigan's line the last couple years than his future in the game. He wasn't invited to the NFL combine.
Since Moosman spent most of the year at center and his replacement was a combination of Huyge, Ferrara, and Omameh with the latter performing the best, Michigan should expect improved production here.
Assuming the tackles are not in such surplus that Michigan can toss them about the interior line willy-nilly, Michigan faces a choice between old and young. The old guy in the mix is fifth-year senior John Ferrara (right), a guy who was flipped from defensive tackle in Rodriguez's first year at Michigan and saw spot starts in 2008. He was supplanted last year by a couple of guys who displayed serious limitations, but he's more seasoned than the other options.
The other options are a pair of highly-touted southerners. Redshirt sophomore Ricky Barnum decommitted from Florida just before signing day and was actually the second-team left tackle last year. The assumption here is that Omameh was more ready to play and left tackle was not open, so the best backup lineman practiced at the most available spot—right guard after Molk went down—and the second best practiced at the toughest. That would be Barnum. He came highly touted and after two years prepping he's the most likely guy. If it's close, Michigan will probably go with the younger player.
The other prime candidates are Elliot Mealer, who saw a little time last year as a backup, and redshirt freshman Quinton Washington. The soft-spoken Washington picked Michigan over South Carolina late in last year's recruiting cycle and drew lavish praise from the coaches:
"To my understanding, he's their number one lineman they are going after in the nation. That's point blank what coach Rodriguez told me Friday night."
Washington is a rare combination of size and linebacker-erasing agility and could be a major star. His ceiling is very, very high. If he doesn't win a job this year he will be the heavy favorite to replace Steve Schilling in 2011.
Hoping for… Realistically, Barnum. He should be ahead of Washington at this point and Washington getting the nod over him would probably say more bad things about Barnum than good things about Washington. In fairy land where Michigan embarks on a four-year journey with Lewan as Jake Long 2.0 and Washington as Steve Hutchinson 2.0, Washington. No offense to Ferrara, but I'd take a starting spot for him as a very bad sign.
No one. Whoever's here this fall should be better, whether it's the same players with more experience or someone displacing them.
The reason this position is listed prominently is performance of the two semi-incumbents. Perry Dorrestein and Mark Huyge (right, holding the hell out of a Penn State lineman) were functional in the run game but revolving doors in pass protection. A not so random protection metric from last year:
PROTECTION METRIC: 14/29. Huyge –5, Schilling –3, Minor –2, Ortmann –1, Shaw –1, Koger –1, Moosman –1, Omameh –1.
That is by far the lowest percentage in UFR history. The culprits are the usual by now: Huyge on the edge, Schilling getting blasted back into the pocket, and several other folk having individual moments of struggle.
That happened to be a game that Huyge played right tackle; when Dorrestein got the start he was the guy leading the way with big minuses.
Michigan had little choice but to rotate those two last year. This year they have options. The aforementioned Lewan and Schofield come off redshirt years; Omameh will probably move back to tackle in spring, too. All these guys have been talked about already.
Hoping for… in the scenario where Lewan erupts, Omameh.
Expecting… early, a rotation similar to last year's. Huyge takes over late and his pass protection remains a major issue.
Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown were polar opposites in many ways but shared a knack for getting injured constantly. Despite having not one but two senior tailbacks, Michigan was forced to go to true freshman Vincent Smith late last year as both veterans looked on dourly from the sidelines holding various aching extremities.
Kevin Grady is also gone, though he was mostly a fullback last year.
Production should be about even; Brown and Minor were hardly at full speed last year.
They are diverse and sundry. With Vincent Smith out until fall with an ACL tear, five or six players will battle for carries. Mike Shaw is the one you've seen before. His freshman year was exciting, but his promise dipped as a sophomore. Shaw runs wildly. He's a zippy guy with the occasional fantastic move…
…but his vision is lacking and he's had fumble issues. This spring will be a turning point in his career. If he gets left in the wash by freshmen he's headed for kickoff return duties and not much else. Chances are he improves enough to be a part of the rotation; he has Brown-level speed.
Other folk are murkier. Mike Cox displayed impressive balance on a couple of garbage-time carries against weak opponents but has done nothing else so far and fell behind Smith almost as soon as he hit the practice field. He could find use as a short-yardage back or Soul Train extra. Cox is the only other player in the spring tailback derby to have seen a carry at Michigan.
The other three players are freshmen, be they redshirt or true. Fitzgerald Toussaint, the redshirt, is the most likely to have a breakout spring. He enrolled in fall—Smith got in early, giving us an early glimpse—and then broke his collarbone. That forced him out of a month of practice and relegated him to scout team duties, but before that he was a jump-cut maniac at Youngstown Liberty who racked up three or four 50+ yard touchdowns per game. When I profiled Toussaint prior to his enrollment, I was higher on him than Smith:
While I think Vincent Smith can be a good back in the Michigan offense, Toussaint has the bigger recruiting rep, better track numbers, and heart-stopping highlights; my bet is that he's the most successful tailback out of this class. I love the combination of moves, zone suitability, and flat-out speed cited by ESPN and demonstrated at track meets and football games.
And while Smith has outpaced even this site's positive take on him in year one, the main thing I'll be looking for this spring is Toussaint translating his sprinter's speed and audacious cuts to Michigan Stadium.
True freshmen Austin White and Stephen Hopkins have enrolled early and will get their shots as well. White is a slot/tailback who might be reminiscent of a Dorrell Jalloh or Darius Reynaud; he comes with less hype than Toussaint and I assume he will redshirt. Hopkins is the lowest-rated back of anyone on the roster but at 6-foot and 230-240 pounds there is a distinctly vacant role on the roster he might be the man to fill. Michigan needs a short-yardage moose.
Hoping for… Smith's healthy return and Toussaint living up to his crazy film.
Expecting… pretty much that, with Shaw factoring in as needed.
My assumption remains that Devin Gardner is headed for a redshirt. Still, getting a look at the future of Michigan's quarterback position will be a priority for many. Roy Roundtree and Martavious Odoms have a stranglehold on slot receiver, but an extended look at Jeremy Gallon with an eye towards "please God, send us a punt returner" will be welcome. On the outside, Junior Hemingway is a lock and it will take some doing to displace Darryl Stonum. With Ricardo Miller, Jeremy Jackson, and Jerald Robinson all in early there's a chance someone displays an ability to adjust to deep balls.
Finally, I wonder if any of the tight ends can catch now.
Sylvia, go to the dry cleaners and get me my indignation pants. Fire up the typewriters, stentorian columnists of America, because FL DE and Auburn signee Corey Lemonier has got a gun!
Don't forget that he probably has scurvy.
Even more Dorsey still. The WLA has a guest post up from a person with "extensive real-life experience dealing with juvenile offenders." His has some numbers on how likely an average juvenile offender is to re-offend…
My research indicates that after two years, generally speaking, a youth has a four percent chance of re-offending. To put it another way, a youth has a 96% chance of not re-offending. Mr. Dorsey, having been free of criminal activity for two years would seem to fall into this category. Even Jamie Mac would take those odds.
…and perspective on the "risk" we're talking about here:
There are a whole bunch of people out there that are wailing because Mr. Dorsey might besmirch the good name of the U of M.
Mr. Dorsey is coming into a highly structured, overwhelmingly positive environment. His cousin and positive peer will be there. He’ll have tutors and advisors and Barwis. He’ll live in a supervised residence in a city that almost forgets crime even exists. He’ll be pursuing an education that could set him for life just as likely as an NFL contract might. And the downside is that he might, might give the U of M a black eye? Wow. Life really is getting cheap nowadays.
Rodriguez's discipline track record should be judged as a whole, and with few significant incidents in the last five years it's a good one. Demar Dorsey isn't going to change that by himself, and the focus should Michigan doing whatever it can to extract him from the negative environment he was in previously. It doesn't always work—Pacman Jones—but that doesn't mean it's not worth trying.
Wojo, meanwhile, has a take on the matter that meets his usual standards of sanity. Wojo has other positive aspects, as well, but it's the not being totally insane that stands out these days.
War of the Roses. There are a ton of positions on defense where a half-dozen kids will go head-to-head for starting jobs this spring but only one spot with real uncertainty on the other side of the ball. That's tailback. Fred Jackson on his group:
“I got five or six guys here that I got to make a decision on at the end of spring to see how we’re going to shape up for camp,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what to expect from of a lot of them, but I think we have enough talent to have an excellent group. It’s just a fact that I have not had a chance to put them all on an equal playing field yet, and once I do I’ll know a lot more.”
I'm slightly worried that Jackson isn't comparing any of his guys to Adrian Peterson crossed with a killer whale, which in his language means "barely functional Big Ten player," but we'll probably get some quotes like that after spring practice.
Hello: goodbye: hello: goodbye: hello. Goodbye. Jim Harbaugh is at Stanford, as you well know, and hauled in a pretty decent recruiting class despite a whopping 19 decommitments. That makes Michigan's 2009 class look downright peaceful, and comes with Stanford coming off an excellent (for Stanford) 8-5 year in which their moose tailback almost won the Heisman.
Jim Stefani on what might be going on:
This begs an answer to the question as to why Harbaugh and staff are accepting so many verbals from prospects who are not yet admitted. Perhaps it is in hope that will eventually qualify. Perhaps it is to build recruiting momentum by putting together a class that looks great on paper and would attract additional prospects. Maybe if Harbaugh goes through a couple of difficult seasons he could in part justify the poor performance to the Stanford administration by arguing that his limited success is due to the limited recruiting universe that he can avail himself of. He could pull out a list of all the kids that he received commitments from and tell his boss that if these kids had been accepted into Stanford the team would have performed much better.
I think Harbaugh has little choice but to recruit a bunch of guys he thinks might get in to Stanford and hope the admissions committee admits them. His alternative is to give conditional offers that kids can't commit to pending admission and watch them head elsewhere. It'll be interesting to see how long Harbaugh is willing to put up with those meddling adults before heading to greener pastures.
Strange days. So what's Bill Frieder up to these days?
The Sacramento Kings owners are Joe and Gavin Maloof and long story short, they got me into skateboarding and I run a huge skateboarding event called the Maloof Money Cup. This is competition skateboarding. We’ve got it on national television and it’s the world’s greatest skateboarding event with the richest purse. We have a half-million purse at each place.
That is… unexpected.
Minus ten million for cheese. I noticed this too when throwing together a Sporting Blog post on disappointing recruiting classes. Three Big Ten teams ended up in the top five, but one of them was not Wisconsin despite the Badgers ending up a bizarre 86th in their team rankings. This is why:
Take a look at who the Badgers signed; it’s not USC, but pretty decent group, right? Scout has it ranked at 33rd. Rivals? No lie, it’s #86. Now, I’ll just use one example here to keep this brief. Ken State is ranked 5 spots higher than Wisconsin on Rivals. They have fewer commits, and a much smaller average star rating. It’s incoherent to suggest that most, if not all Kent State commits would immediately flip to Wisconsin if they received an offer from the Badgers.
It's not that Rivals hates all of Wisconsin's recruits relative to Scout, because the Badgers finished behind a don't of teams with way worse star ratings and fewer commits. Wisconsin's 51st in star average, and would obliterate say… UTEP. Or Vanderbilt. Or Toledo. Or a couple dozen other teams they somehow finished behind. Bret Bielema's criticism of the guru industry seems well-founded, at least in his specific case.
Now I get it. Tim Brewster's "extension" does not have a raise except for some incentive clauses and reduces Coach TRY FIGHT WIN's buyout to 200k per year left. He's probably safe for this year and next, but then it's axing time.
So I think he's going to try to knock down all the pins. During the couple years I was doing standup comedy at half-ass open mics around town, one of my compatriots had a funny bit about how he couldn't really consider bowling a sport because analysis always boils down to "…so I think he's going to try to knock down all the pins."
What this reading consists of, then, is a mystery indeed:
“Bowling was probably the hardest class I had last semester,” [Austin] White said at the National Signing Day press conference. “You know, if I had like 20 pages of reading for Meteorology, I would have 40 for Bowling. And then there was a bunch of terminology and phrases that I had never heard before.”
Like… strike? Spare? Turkey? I bowl about as well as Barack Obama but I bet it's not too hard to pick up on the lingo. What does page 40 say? What about page 4?
Etc.: Even more podcast can be had at "The Michigan Man Podcast." I do my best Mel Kiper impression with Michigan's defensive recruits. Interested in rap about Demar Dorsey that slams Certain People in the media? Of course you are. Don't get super excited about Manny coming back yet.
Boards of note:
Lots of changes on the defensive tackle recruiting front in the past couple days.
First things first, MI DT Johnathon Hankins picked Ohio State yesterday over the Wolverines. Allow me to editorialize for a moment here: This blog has a tag called "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich," but if half of the rumors about the Southeastern coaching staff's handling of Hankins's recruitment are true, we may need to expand that tag to football as well. Genuinely Sarcastic provides some angry detail.
FL DT Todd Chandler seems to be looking primarily at Louisville as an option outside of USF (where he is committed). Michigan might become a stronger option if his teammate, FL OL Torrian Wilson, visits Ann Arbor, but this one appears to be on the back-burner for now. Chandler's top schools have gone from the likes of Miami, Michigan, and Florida to Memphis, Louisville, and FIU, so he may have some issues—grades?—that are causing bigger schools to back off.
Wilson, by the way, is down to USF, Michigan, and Tennessee. Michigan could really use another offensive lineman in the class.
Cincinnati high school sports reporter Mike Dyer reports that Michigan visited OH DT/DE Jibreel Black both in-home and in-school on Monday. Black, who has been committed to Cincinnati, but is reconsidering after the Brian Kelly departure, will also visit Michigan sometime this month, probably the weekend of the 22nd. According to Dyer's full article, the Wolverines have replaced Louisville on his list.
Michigan has a couple defensive ends and a couple three-tech defensive tackles so all they need is a nose; if they pick up Black it's because they really like him.
More on his actual game performance in a delayed Friday Night Lights post next week, but MI QB Devin Gardner participated in the Under Armour All-American Bowl on Saturday. He impressed in practice:
"(Devin Gardner) really impressed me a lot," [Scout Florida expert Geoff] Vogt added. "He was bigger than I expected him to be. His arm was everything that people made it out to be. He was accurate... He clearly, in my opinion, is the top quarterback on that team... He'd be the No. 1 quarterback in Florida straight out this year and that's really saying something. I think he has a really bright future at Michigan."
Of course, being the clear #1 QB on the team got him by far the fewest snaps out of the 3 QBs, with Nick Montana and Phillip Sims getting more (the order was determined randomly, FWIW). That Webb article also says that Michigan is pursuing Tennessee commit LB Michael Taylor. I've added him to the board. Taylor remains a soft commit to the Vols.
FL CB Tony Grimes participated in last weekend's Offense-Defense Bowl, and MGoReader J. Lichty reports that opposing offenses mostly stayed away from him. He played both corner and safety. MGoBlog's own TomVH talked to Grimes last week, and he reiterated what we've been hearing for some time on both Grimes and his teammate, FL DE Clarence Murphy:
TOM: Are you and Clarence still planning on going to the same school?
TONY: As far as this point, yes that's the plan.
TOM: Is Michigan still on top for you?
The two still both favor Michigan, and plan to announce on Signing Day. Tony also said that he didn't know there was a dead period between college coaches and recruits, and was wondering why Michigan wasn't contacting him as much. Sounds like other schools haven't quite been following the rules. THE NCAA WILL BE ALL OVER THIS!
This upcoming weekend is a little more notable for Michigan fans: Commits WI P Will Hagerup and PA CB Cullen Christian will play in the US Army All-American Bowl, and CA S Sean Parker who is down to Michigan, Cal, and USC, will also participate.
The semester started today, so we should finally have a good idea of which 2010 Michigan commits were able to get in for the winter semester and spring practice.
MI QB Devin Gardner is still trying to enroll early, but Inkster's semester ends really late and there are some issues with getting him accelerated. Michigan should know by the end of the week whether he will or not. Stephen Hopkins, Jerald Robinson, Ricardo Miller, Christian Pace, Jeremy Jackson, and Austin White are all enrolling, though as of Wednesday morning Robinson and Miller did not have UMich directory entries. Marvin Robinson is also making an effort to enroll early:
Robinson, who took 3 classes over the summer in an attempt to graduate in December, said the holdup stems with 2 classes he took last semester.
"Most likely things are going to work out where I can go up there tomorrow," Robinson said.
Even if things don't, Robinson said he's firm in his commitment and will sign with Michigan in February.
I don't recall if the Athletic Department announced early-enrolling prospects last year until after Signing Day, but hopefully we'll have the final data by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, FL CB Adrian Witty was also supposed to be a midseason enroller after not qualifying for fall but is not in the Michigan directory. It's looking grimmer for Witty by the day; from the sounds of it he is qualified in the eyes of the NCAA; Michigan's admissions are the holdup. The most likely issue is a radically improved test score that got flagged.
Persistent rumors that TX RB/WR Tony Drake is so far from qualifying that he shouldn't even be considered part of the class any more get stronger by the day.
Maxpreps published its Junior All-American teams, with few prospect of interest for Michigan fans, outside of a couple pipe dreams. SoFlaFootball has also published its first 2011 top 75.
FL RB Demetrius Hart may not be the Michigan lock that we thought:
The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder has had the Wolverines out in front for some time and continues to do so, though he jokingly said that cold temperatures in the Orlando area recently may have him thinking a little.
So, yeah: That's not as negative as the headline "Florida Prospect Considers Local Programs" would make it seem. It would still be an upset for him to not land in Ann Arbor.
Michigan has offered a trio of prospects from Gardena Serra High School in California. WR George Farmer appears to be the headliner, holding offers from a who's-who of bigtime schools, including Florida and Oklahoma. DE Jason Gibson and S Marquise Lee have also received Michigan offers, along with scholarships from the likes of Miami (Yes That Miami), Oregon, and Washington.
Michigan commits Tony Drake and Austin White come in at #8 and #10, respectively on Sports Illustrated's top running backs of 2010.
Let's take a position-by-position look at recruits in positions that Michigan still has needs. Yes, they're mostly on defense. For reference, Michigan has 21 current commits, and there's still been no resolution as to whether they can accept more than 25 commitments.
FL OL Torrian Wilson made a surprise commit to Stanford in the summer, but now he will visit Michigan this weekend. I had long assumed his commitment to Stanford was soft, but with no recruiting news until now, I had started to change my mind. It appears as though my faith has been reaffirmed.
In case it wasn't apparent from such events as "5-7," MN OL Seantrel Henderson is no longer considering Michigan.
Thought to be out of consideration for Michigan, MI DT Johnathan Hankins (I've seen his first name spelled about a hundred different ways, with no indication as to which might be right), has finally received his Michigan offer. Despite growing up a Michigan fan, Florida is still his strong leader.
Obviously, Michigan was similarly impressed, but their prolonged evaluation process has them currently trailing in the race for the three-star prospect's services.
"Florida is ahead right now," Hankins told Scout.com. "It was a great place. The players were great and the fans were amazing. The game (against Florida State) was great too. I feel comfortable there. They said I have a chance to play because they are losing defensive tackles. I'd have a chance to start. It's all up to me. After (visiting) Florida, I didn't want to take any more visits, but I rethought that and my coaches wanted me to take all my visits."
He visits Michigan this weekend, and Michigan will have the opportunity to outdo Florida then; there's also a chance that Florida might fill up (or "fill up") before Hankins has an opportunity to commit. He plans to decide before Christmas.
The increase in Hankins interest might be due to a couple other guys falling off, as last week a small Arkansas paper reported TX DT Big Tex Beachum might be solid to Arkansas. He still has not publicly reaffirmed his Arkansas commitment, so on the board he stays. Even The Recruiting Guy's follow-up doesn't have a quote affirming his commitment. FWIW, Sam Webb posted an article on Beachum that involved the words "clears the air($)," a universal signal that the article in question directly contradicts previously-reported information. He's still in play.
Michigan has offered post-grad VA DE David Mackall ($, info in header), who originally committed to Maryland in the class of 2009.
The Wolverines are also the leader for FL DE Clarence Murphy. As Brian noted last week, Sam Webb has talked about a "gut feeling" on WTKA, which generally means a silent commitment.
The biggest possibility for Michigan in the linebacking corps is MD LB/S Josh Furman, who will announce between Michigan and Virginia Tech at the Crab Bowl on December 19.
Both schools have strong academics, both have early playing time as a possibility, and Furman has established strong relationships with both staffs. With so many similarities between the pro
grams, settling on one sounds like a daunting task, but Furman has already done it.
"The location factored into it, along with the environment and the official visit," he explained.
As implied by that quote, a decision has been made and the coaches informed for each school. The location factoring could be interpreted as a bad sign for Michigan, but he did have tons of positive things to say about Michigan following his official visit. If the coaches have been informed, Webb's "gut feeling" is unimpeachable. Furman is putting up gaudy rushing numbers in his senior season, and is a huge prospect for the Wolverines.
CA S Sean Parker still wants to take a Michigan visit. The Wolverines are in a final seven-ish also consisting of PSU, Notre Dame, UCLA, Tennessee, Washington, and USC.
Michigan leads for FL CB Tony Grimes and his teammate, DE Clarence Murphy.
Hollywood Hills defensive back Tony Grimes said he is leaning heavily toward the University of Michigan. When a decision to commit is made, Grimes said he and Hills defensive lineman Clarence Murphy will attend the same school.
"Michigan sticks out for both of us," Grimes said. "There we feel we can come in and play as true freshmen."
As noted above, the two are essentially Michigan locks, assuming the Wolverines stay on them until they announce a decision on Signing Day.
Don't expect FL CB Spencer Boyd to end up at Michigan: he's sticking with Notre Dame. [Editor's note: not so fast! Rivals threw up an image of Boyd in an article header indicating he will take an official this weekend.]
Also: Rivals AMP says Michigan is "re-emerging($)" for OH S Latwan Anderson, but kid goes to Glenville and ain't coming here.]
MI QB Devin Gardner is ready to move on to his college career, after high school ended on a down note with a 27-6 loss to Lowell in the state championship game.
"I can't mourn this,” Gardner said after the loss last Friday. “I start getting ready for my future on Monday - lifting, throwing, watching films and getting better as a quarterback so this will never happen again."
Gardner was in attendance at last night's basketball debacle, and is firm in his commitment to Michigan. He no longer plans to enroll early.
MI RB Austin White is not wavering, despite a lame internet rumor to the contrary last week.
Further commit updates, including All-State team news, will be in next week's Friday Night Lights post.
22 + 3 + er… more = er…
At this point we are operating under the assumption that Michigan can enroll no more than 25 freshmen this fall no matter how many scholarships it has open. This is unfortunate since any attrition is likely to see scholarships go unused again. It also means that Michigan has 22 commitments, three guys who are virtual commitments, zero spots left in the class, and about a dozen other guys they're still recruiting.
The conclusion is inescapable: expect attrition from the current commits. Whether it's a decommit or a gentle suggestion that maybe Player X would be better off in a situation with more opportunities for playing time, the way Michigan is recruiting suggests they're going to end up with a couple more commitments past the three expected ones. This will necessitate some current commits not signing or for Michigan to sign up to 28 with the intention of getting down to 25 by August.
Speculating about who is likely to depart in the former case is rude, but there are a couple of players who are reportedly not qualified yet and if they don't get there soon—ie, after this semester's grades are in—Michigan could be within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance you might not make it in." Your personal distaste for this sort of thing will vary. Mine is a six out of ten.
Possibilities in the latter case are grayshirting someone or expecting slight academic attrition from the incoming class. Some folks have proposed that MI WR Jeremy Jackson come in as a walk-on with a corresponding bump in Fred Jackson's pay, which is interesting, very definitely against the spirit of the rules, and possibly against the letter of them if Jackson received an official offer letter.
In any case, the next two months figure to be somewhat bumpy.
Dave Birkett of AnnArbor.com interviews a couple of recruiting experts about Michigan's class thus far. Tom Lemming seems to be a bit higher on it than Allen Wallace of Scout. Both agree that it's a solid class, but won't contend with the nation's best. Lemming is very high on Cullen Christian, and both of them really like Gardner, because he's awesome.