Michigan's annual College Practice Camp is this weekend, and is followed shortly by Michigan Offers Juniors Day—the first day coaches are allowed to officially offer scholarships. John Beilein is the only guy in the world who follows this guideline; in doing so he's created a mid-summer event in the deadest portion of the Michigan sports calendar year. For this, John Beilein, we salute you.
Now is a good time to get an overview of what's going on.
Roster And Needs
Assuming Robinson and McGary enter the NBA draft, this is what the roster will look like next fall:
PG: Derrick Walton (So.), Spike Albrecht (Jr.)
SG: Nik Stauskas (Jr.)
SF: Zak Irvin (So.), Caris LeVert (Jr.)
PF: Mark Donnal (So.), Max Bielfeldt (Jr.)
C: John Horford (Sr.), Ricky Doyle (Fr.)
Michigan needs a shooting guard and would like someone to compete with Donnal and Bielfeldt at the four. The other two slots are flexible depending on talent. It is unlikely Michigan uses one on a point guard—they are heavily after a bunch of PGs, but all in the class of 2015—and I would guess Michigan banks one so that 2015 class in which the run to the title game is truly paying off will start from a baseline of two slots.
Shooting guard candidates
Everyone all together now: Devin Booker is the leading candidate. From Missouri, mom lives in Saginaw, blew up at Michigan's camp two summers ago to put himself on the radar, may show up again since he's in Michigan for the summer anyway. Booker now has offers from Every Damn Body U, and though a couple of the truly elite schools have taken kids at his position Michigan State and Kentucky are formidable opposition. Still, Michigan seems to lead.
Michigan is also after Indiana SF Trevon Bluiett, who holds an offer and is being hotly pursued by Indiana, Butler, and plenty of others. Bluiett is having an outstanding AAU season. Michigan was thought to be trailing Butler as of a month or two ago, but Bluiett appears to be in no hurry to make a decision.
Power forward candidates
Michigan trails Duke and others for Wisconsin stretch four Kevon Looney, a top ten player who would be a crazy good fit for Beilein's system. Unfortunately, Duke can point to Ryan Kelly and say "you are also a crazy good fit for our system." Acquiring a visit from him is required before anything serious goes down. Looney did just call Michigan a "great school" in an interview with 247:
"Actually Michigan's been there from the beginning, since my freshman year," he said. "I've been talking to (John) Beilein, coach (LaVall Jordan) ... they're a great school.
"They were in the championship (game) this year. They're a great school."
Looney plans on taking his five officials. Michigan should make the cut.
OH combo forward Vincent Edwards is down to Purdue and Michigan and is waiting around to see which one of them showers him in more rose petals. He's more of a defense-and-rebounding guy than a shooter, but he's good enough at that bit to be around the top 50 most places.
Michigan is emerging on the lists of a number of highly-touted players. The hottest name at the moment is CA SF Kameron Chatman, who's coming up for the camp. Dave Telep says Michigan is a "big player" with Chatman and praises his overall game:
One of my favorite guys on the circuit is small forward Kameron Chatman. There’s something about this kid. Few have his overall feel for the game.
“I hate losing; just mean being an unselfish player with a high IQ,” Chatman said. “I want to do whatever it takes to win. [Whether] that’s scoring or rebounding or getting my teammates going.” When you hear these words, often times they are hollow, but not with this young man. He plays exactly how he speaks.
Beilein guy yo.
Chatman will take an unofficial visit and get an offer this weekend, and while he's not expected to commit flying across the country is a sign of serious interest. Chatman's a consensus top 50 recruit with a loose top three of Michigan, Oregon, and Washington. Distance isn't much of a factor for a kid from Long Beach, then, and neither Washington or Oregon is a Duke-level threat. USC and Arizona are also involved.
Only Horford graduates, though given the way Michigan has been developing point guards Derrick Walton may be the top pick in the draft by then; Zak Irvin is also a threat to leave early. It's tough to project specific positional needs this far out but no matter what Michigan will be looking for at least a big and a point guard.
Offer day is just two weeks away. We'll get a better view then of who the main targets are, but Beilein has a second requirement to get that offer: a visit. Some of the guys on the list haven't made it to campus and thus won't be officially offered.
IN PG/SG Jalen Coleman. Camping, has offers from Indiana and Purdue already, is probably a shooting guard right now, top 50 player:
“North Carolina State and Texas have also been in contact,” Coleman said. “A lot of schools. But also the ones like Michigan State, IU and Purdue have been coming in and staying in contact. Michigan and Michigan State have said they are looking forward to having me up there as soon as possible and doing something, which could be an offer.”
Coleman may not get a June 15th offer as he is probably not a point guard and Michigan may want to see where there roster stands before offering SGs.
IL PG Hyron Edwards.
Also camping, in possession of Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois offers, Edwards is going to play somewhere in the Big Ten. He told IU site Inside The Hall that he's pumped about potentially getting that M offer:
The Illini and Boilermakers have offered and the Wolverines, who won’t offer class of 2015 prospects until June 15, seem to be heading in that direction. He said he hopes to work in an unofficial visit to Bloomington when in town for the adidas May Classic and will be in Ann Arbor on June 1 for Michigan’s elite camp.
“(Assistant) coach (LaVall) Jordan has been talking to me about it,” he said of a potential scholarship offer from Michigan. “If I do get the offer, that would be pretty great.”
CA PG Sedrick Barefield. Barefield has widely varying rankings, from unranked three star to top fifty kid. UConn, KState, Arizona, and Cal are also involved. He needs to get up for a visit before an offer.
FL PG Corey Sanders. Sanders told UMHoops he gets compared to Trey Burke and has a positive relationship with Michigan's coaching staff:
“I love Michigan’s coaching staff. They’re nice, they work with me,” Sanders said. “When we talk, it’s usually like business, how everything will work out, the school, the system, all the players who were there before me — especially with the point guard position how Trey Burke was there. Looking at his game compared to mine and things like that.”
Sanders is less hyped than just about everyone on this list, currently an unranked three star most places.
FL SF Dwayne Bacon. A top 20 kid in the 2015 class, Bacon can't make this weekend's camp but has scheduled an official visit($) for the Central Michigan game. He's a teammate of Sanders and they are talking about being the proverbial package deal.
OH SF Luke Kennard. Kennard, a sweet shooting wing with a wonky Shurna-style release, has been on Michigan's radar longer than anyone else in the 2015 class and has seemed like a good bet to commit at points. These days Ohio State folks are feeling about as confident as the Michigan ones are. Kennard has already been on campus multiple times($) and is almost certain to get a June 15 offer. He plans summer trips($) to Michigan and Ohio State.
TX C Elijah Thomas. Just profiled by Sam Webb in the News, Thomas is an early five star who claims he's "always been a Michigan fan"—we are finally reaching the point where high school kids only remember the Beilein era, self high five—and jokes about his close relationship with LaVall Jordan:
"The relationship is really good," Thomas said. "I call him all the time. I don't call him too much because he has a family (laughter), but I call him every now and then. We talk academics, we talk basketball -- we just talk about why I want to be great and everything else."
OSU, Indiana, and Illinois have already offered and he says distance won't matter; he wants to visit M, Duke, and Kentucky.
WI C Diamond Stone. Stone was on campus for the Michigan State game last fall and as a top ten player in the 2015 class will get offered with prejudice on the 15th. His dad is from Flint, which helps. Everyone on earth will get involved shortly, however. He told the Baltimore Sun that Maryland's entry into the Big Ten is an asset, which says something since they're leaving the ACC.
NV C Stephen Zimmerman.
The third five-star center Michigan's involved with in the 2015 class, Zimmerman told Scout that he planned a trip out to Ann Arbor($) sometime this summer:
Based on Zimmerman’s range of ability, Michigan is one of the schools in consistent contact, spotted courtside over the weekend. Wolverine assistant lavall jordan has continued to build on his strong bond with Zimmerman over the past year, connecting on the phone as recently as Monday evening.
“It was great,” said Zimmerman. “He’s a really great person. I like talking to the people from Michigan. They’re like me. It seems like a great program and they want me to go on an unofficial down there sometime this summer. And I think we’re going to.”
Once that visit happens Zimmerman will become a serious target. The planet is after Zimmerman as well, but Zimmerman's mom dropped a Michigan reference unprompted($) when talking to Duke's scout site:
Post touches is a thing that many people like to talk about when evaluating programs, do you feel like there are programs that have set themselves apart in how they utilize their bigs and post touches they give?
Why are three five-star centers talking up Michigan? Mitch McGary's tournament explosion. I like Mitch McGary.
I'm ignoring this Boston business. Should I have to mention this? Probably not. Rest assured that when the zombie apocalypse comes I'll be here speculating about how it affects Michigan's roster when the starting quarterback bites his center.
Fritz Crisler's advice to Walter. Eat plenty of ruffage, young man.
This is apparently a new find from user Messenger Puppet. The message board sleuths have identified "Walter" as a
missing Brown student Walter Freihofer, who had quite a life. The timing fits: he graduated high school in 1940 and died about a year ago; the letter was probably uncovered as someone was going through his things.
Yes, Wilton. Wilton Speight provides MLive with a picture of him hellaciously stiffarming a hapless fool who dares approach Speight's aura:
That's in an article about Speight's high ranking on ESPN. I was not aware that he'd reclassified after a serious collarbone injury in the first game of his junior season. In general that's a good thing—experience is everything for quarterbacks, who don't approach their ceilings until they're 35.
I should mention that I missed MO LB Kyron Watson in my rundown of Michigan targets in the ESPN 150. He's 100th.
Hated Chad Ford, man, you just don't get it. Hated Chad Ford is mostly a joke about how Chad Ford is all like taking my peoples from me, but come on man:
"His decision to return, considering his age (he turns 21 before the draft) and high draft stock at the moment, is a puzzling one -- I'm not sure his draft stock will ever be higher. A potential first-round pick in 2014."
There are things other than draft stock in life, like being the man on a very good college basketball team.
2014 looms. It appears that Michigan's got a one-year reprieve here from GRIII and McGary. Paste these two items together…
"We're like brothers," McGary said. "Coach says we're joined at the hip, I don't think it's that serious. But (part of my decision relied on) what he was doing.
"We just kind of wanted to come back together, make a run at it and play the way we play."
"It was 50-50," McGary said. "I might have been leaning a little bit toward (leaving at first), but I talked it over with my family, and I thought this was what was best.
"I kind of want to be a kid for one more year."
...and you get both guys planning on leaving after next year. This is fine. It gives Michigan time to replace them. It does mean that the 2014 recruiting class will burgeon to at least 5 players, more if there is a transfer or Stauskas blows up into a lottery pick. Or Spike, I guess.
In any case, Michigan's next basketball recruiting class is huge for the continued program upswing. It currently consists of Florida big man Ricky Doyle and Indiana wing Austin Hatch, if Hatch can get back on the court. That's kind of a big if; it seems likely Michigan signs the guy and puts him on a medical scholarship. They'll probably add four additional players: another post-ish guy who will be around (Michigan will have just Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt in 2015), a couple wings, and then a wild card.
Michigan's caught the eye of Milwaukee five-star Kevon Looney:
In an interview with ChicagoHoops.com earlier this week, Looney listed Michigan as one of a handful of schools firmly on his radar.
Looney, who said his recruitment was still "pretty wide open," also listed Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida, Duke, Georgetown and Wisconsin as schools he's hearing the most from.
At 6'9", Looney is a Kevin Durant-style wing with range.
Putting him at the four in Beilein's system would be almost unfair. Let's hope that "Michigan" coming out of his mouth first means something down the road. One and done? Uh… probably. Don't tell Beilein.
Meanwhile, Sam Webb told his WTKA audience this morning that if Trevon Bluiett and Vincent Edwards were to pick today, they would both be headed elsewhere. (I'd guess those destinations would be Butler and Purdue.) That wasn't a lock or anything, but just a feeling from a connected guy. They seem to be leading for Devin Booker despite heavy attention from powers, but Booker isn't rushing towards a decision.
Michigan's going to see their options expand; this AAU circuit will see a half-dozen new prospects on the radar. The three guys mentioned in the previous paragraph are their only current offerees right now. That'll change in the next few months. UMHoops has some additional information on who they might offer.
While Beilein wasn't gung-ho about the possibility after Trey's departure…
"I don’t think we’re in a position where we have to use (Trey’s scholarship)," Beilein said. "But if there’s the right situation – last year Caris was more of a redshirt, was going to be."
…they could take a swing at a 2013 kid if one they like pops up. They've got two scholarships available. Assuming GRIII and McGary are gone after this year, if you can get a guy who you think you can be a four-year contributor more along the lines of Caris LeVert than Colton Christian that's a move you may want to make. There's a shaky rumor about Michigan reaching out to former Hofstra commitment Gabe Levin, so they're poking around a bit.
Okay, not just me. I was wondering if what I saw from Delonte Hollowell in the spring game was a hallucination or wishful thinking. Apparently not:
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison indicated there's more to it than that -- that Hollowell had a terrific spring, and could force his way into the rotation come fall.
“I think you probably thought it was rhetoric when we first got here and you heard me say it before -- you’re evaluated every day in practice," Mattison said when asked about Hollowell's start. "The thing that Brady (Hoke) does such a good job of is that we have competitions in practice. Competition means it’s a game.
"How you react in that competition is going to decide who’s going to earn the right to play the next day and be where they are the next day in the depth chart. So that depth chart can change day to day."
Hollowell played in 11 games last season, but mostly on special teams. He played in three games as a reserve defensive back, recording one tackle.
I brought this up on 'TKA yesterday tentatively and got the same vibe from Sam. While Hollowell isn't going to start over Taylor or Countess, hopefully they'll be comfortable enough to put a third cornerback on the field this fall if someone goes down. Now someone get him tweeting again.
Amara to the rescue. Another guy pushing his way up the depth chart is a key one for Michigan's next couple years, what with the receiver depth looking shaky. He's Amara Darboh:
"I knew Darboh was going to catch the ball," Gardner said. "We knew what was going to happen. We were planning to call that play (the day before the game), and Coach Borges just said get it up and give him a chance.
"That's what I did. He performed." …
"He can do everything well," Gardner said. "He can shake guys in the short-range game, and he can go deep."
That bomb was quality: Darboh got a release that gave him space to the outside and adjusted to a less than perfect ball comfortably. That takes skill.
We're Texas. That means our administrators specialize in sounding like twits. Multi-year scholarships are now legal, but the baton is being picked up slowly despite those press conferences in the immediate aftermath of that rule's passage where every coach in the country said they would offer four-year rides. Full numbers are hidden behind a paywall, but the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that multi-year deals are rare:
Nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear awards, according to a Chronicle review of public records. Yet few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes.
Among the holdouts are some of the wealthiest programs, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Oregon, and Texas A&M. At the University of Arizona, Georgia Tech, and the University of Louisville, this year's NCAA men's basketball champions, you can count the multiyear beneficiaries on one hand.
Here's the bit where someone from Texas sounds like a twit:
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
This is an athletic department that has an entirely separate athletic director for their womens' teams talking about how young people are entitled. I wish I had a magic poverty wand I could wave at people.
Christine A. Plonsky finds herself in the kitchen of Taco Bell. She somehow knows her car is now a 1979 Yugo, her home a double-wide, her husband a machinist. She still makes more than 30k a damn year.
Sing to me, o fate, a tale of entitlement—
Shut up and make me 12 soft tacos.
Anyway. John Infante argues that this sort of inconsistent application of the new multi-year rule is actually a good thing. First, a few numbers he pulled out:
But even colleges that have moved toward the longer agreements have done so modestly. Six institutions signed at least two dozen multiyear agreements this academic year. They include the University of Florida (60), Ohio State University (47), North Carolina State University (40), Michigan State University (30), Arizona State University (27), and Auburn University (27).
But multiyear awards still account for less than one-tenth of all athletic scholarships at most of those institutions.
IIRC OSU and MSU were amongst the schools that promised all of their football folks would be on multi-year scholarships, which clearly isn't happening. Meanwhile, Michigan doesn't even appear on this list of moderate adopters. On the other hand, Infante mentions that Illinois is giving out multi-year deals to virtually everybody.
Recruits are beginning to understand their power in the negotiation as well as the tools they can use to get the best deal. Hopefully as the market in recruiting and athletic scholarships continues to mature, more recruits and schools will understand their bargaining positions. This encourages the best situation for athletes: when the agreement they sign is the same one that both they and their coach intend and understand.
Contrast this with setting scholarships at any one length. Under the old one-year maximum, coaches were flat out lying to prospects and their families. They would say that a one-year agreement was really for four years, and that as long as the athlete stayed eligible and out of trouble, the scholarship would be renewed. Then when the athlete was injured or did not live up to expectations, the grant-in-aid would be nonrenewed.
Requiring four- or five-year scholarships creates a similar situation. The coach assures the athlete that they have a four-year agreement, because look, there it is in a written contract. Then when the athlete does not pan out, the coach begins looking for ways to get out from under the commitment. That leads to deliberately confusing scholarship agreements and team/department rules which are inconsistently enforced.
As long as the guarantee remains in place—and the roster spot occupied—even when a guy is booted, that's about all they can do. But it'll be interesting to see if recruiting reporters start asking kids about the details of their "offers." Is Illinois explicitly using a longer-term promise as an incentive? Is, say, Western Michigan guaranteeing four-star commit Chance Stewart four years, and is that why he's headed for the MAC instead of the Illini? Shouldn't Da'Shawn Hand demand any school he signs with guarantee him four years?
It feels like a lot of stakeholders in the recruiting game are trying to downplay the existence of the multi-year rule. That can't last, and then things get interesting.
Kickstarter, eh! After many requests we have added a couple of kickstarter tiers for international folks: 20 bucks for one mag, 40 for both, and we'll eat the extra costs for anyone who goes for the 50+ tiers.
Reminder: we have made our base goal and are now shooting for the 50k stretch goal, whereupon the basketball/hockey preview mag is a real thing on paper.
Meanwhile if you're in the giving mood check out Marlin Jackson's Fight For Life charity. Very good cause. Seth posted extensively on what they do this morning.
Our linemen are a wonderful freak show. They're all having huge lumberjack beards and looking like Freddie Mercury and, uh, this:
That's walk-on Dan Gibbs's twitter avatar. We probably should have started him against Jesse Williams, who Gibbs is seen riding. Equal to the task is Gibbs's twitter avatar: DJBunyan.
Speaking of offensive linemen, Elliott Mealer has shaved the beard.
as if millions of follicles suddenly cried out in terror
We will always remember you, ZZ Top beard.
This year's OL has a lot to live up to. They are off to a good start, at least.
Michigan has a five star basketball recruit for the second straight year. (isportsweb)
It's too bad he can't compete with the big boys. Rivals has given Zak Irvin the GRIII bump, moving up ten spots after his Mr. Basketball season in Indiana. This nets him the coveted fifth star. Walton is #37—also a ten-spot bump—while Mark Donnal is #111, one of the last four-stars. IIRC Donnal was just inside the top 100 last time. He got one of those "you stay the same and we find twelve guys we like a lot" downgrades.
Indiana's six-person oversigning extravaganza is the best class in the Big Ten according to the sites. Michigan is second, #13 nationally at ESPN. Illinois and Wisconsin are next, but it's always hard to figure out how to rank basketball classes because they're so divergent in terms of numbers.
Speaking of Tom Crean…
You're Nick Saban, dude. A year after Indiana signee Ron Patterson was told he couldn't enroll at Indiana in August—ie, the Les Miles—Tom Crean signs six players and is oversigned by one going into the late signing period. Out you go, Remy Abell. Indiana currently has 13 players. They've just offered Jaren Sina, the former Northwestern commit who opened up his recruitment when Bill Carmody was fired.
Now is the time on Sprockets when brows are furrowed about young men and how it's disappointing they've left the program and etc. etc. etc. It's not disappointing, it is mathematically required by Coach Schrute's recruiting. Someone was going to leave, full stop. There's no difference between what's going down at Indiana and Nick Saban's annual purge. In this, OSU and Michigan fans are united.
The thing is: Crean's just flat out saying they're oversigning, which is at least more honest than Saban's approach.
Again, this was not unexpected, and IU coach Tom Crean admitted as much when he spoke with assembled media in Bloomington, Ind., Thursday afternoon. He knew he might have two guys leaving early, in addition to three seniors (Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford, Derek Elston) which is, Crean told the Indianapolis Star, "one of the reasons we oversigned."
Wait ... what?
Yes, the Hoosiers enter the second straight summer with more players signed than scholarships to give out — this time 14 for 13. (Last season, IU's 15 signed players ended with senior guard Matt Roth's seemingly confused, thensuddenly uber-positive, departure, and a fortuitous turn in freshman Ron Patterson's academic ineligibility.)
Even without further departures Michigan will go into next year with an open scholarship. Purdue's down to ten. Schrute is looking for more guys to run off. Hard to have the moral high ground as a conference when you… uh… don't have it.
Godspeed, Tom Hammond. The Great and Powerful Hammond is being replaced by some guy named Hicks on Notre Dame broadcasts. A tip of the cap to a man who overcame his fear of cameras to be on television, like, all the time. We'll always have the picture and the tie.
See you around the rhythmic gymnastics odeon. /brohug
Baseball making it happen. Rich Maloney's ouster last year was sudden and controversial. So far it looks to have been the right move as the previously moribund base-to-ball team is currently 7-2 in the Big Ten behind freshman starting pitcher Evan Hill's dominating 1.89 ERA. Baseball America takes note:
The future looks bright for Michigan, which has a strong freshman core leading its resurgence this spring. Michigan’s best starter has been freshman lefthander Evan Hill (6-1, 1.89), whose projectable 6-foot-5 frame helped him rank No. 165 on the BA 500 heading into last year’s draft. Hill still is just scratching the surface of his potential, but he is maturing quickly and has settled nicely into the Saturday starter role.
“He still is a projection guy—his best years are ahead of him,” Bakich said. “But he’s very talented, he works extremely hard. The mental game has been critical for him, because he’s learned how to breathe and focus on executing the next pitch, that’s been a big part of his development mentally. But he’s still a long, lean, tall, thin guy who has a good fastball, and he’s got good offspeed pitches. He just doesn’t always have the command that he’s going to have in the future of his secondary stuff. But a lot of his success has come from pitching off his fastball. He throws a cutter and a curveball, and when those are on, he usually does pretty well.”
Two other freshmen have earned starting jobs on the left side of the infield and in the top half of the batting order. Travis Maezes (.308/.396/.421) has shown good athleticism, instincts and arm strength at shortstop while hitting in the No. 2 hole. And third baseman Jacob Cronenworth (.339/.397/.460 with two homers and a team-leading 26 RBIs) has been very steady in the cleanup spot. He has a balanced, line-drive approach from the left side of the plate to go along with good speed. Cronenworth also has a strong arm at the hot corner, and he can run his fastball up to 92 mph off the mound, where he has emerged as Michigan’s closer, posting a 1.06 ERA, six saves and a 16-3 strikeout-walk mark in 17 innings.
That's a hell of a freshman class.
Michigan's coming off consecutive sweeps of MSU and Penn State; they take on ND today at 4, with Eastern coming in tomorrow at 6. If you're in Chicago, Michigan plays Northwestern at Wrigley Saturday.
It was a bet with Zak Irvin. A picture of a displeased Gary Harris wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt made the rounds on twitter recently, and I was all like "dude lost a bet with Zak Irvin?"
M&GB: Can you tell us about that picture of Gary Harris that surfaced on twitter of him wearing a Maize Rage t-shirt?
Irvin: (Laughs) As a matter of fact I was just talking with him about that a couple hours ago but that was from last year. When Michigan played Michigan State we had a bet that whichever team won, the loser had to wear that team’s shirt to school the next day, and Michigan won so Gary had to wear a Michigan t-shirt all the next day.
Just not a recent one.
Not playing coy about Dymonte Thomas. Courtney Avery's job is officially in serious danger given the way Michigan usually talks about freshmen. No one's bothering to say Dymonte Thomas is a long way off or whatever:
"He’s a very conscientious young man. For a guy that comes that should have been at his prom to be here the whole time, and for him to pick it up like he did ... Dymonte Thomas had a very, very good spring for a freshman.”
So there's that. He's playing. Starting? We'll see.
Cumong, NCAA man. Oregon and the NCAA agree that Oregon paid Willie Lyles 25k to help recruit players. Also this:
There is no information," according to the NCAA, "in the record that Lyles coerced or directed any prospect to ultimately choose Oregon. That said, Lyles did provide a meaningful recruiting advantage by orally providing background information about prospects to the coaching staff and also by serving as a conduit to facilitate communication with prospective student-athletes."
I hate you, NCAA enforcement. Oregon has proposed two years of probation and one lost scholarship for a few years. Seriously. Sic 'em, Get The Picture.
Etc.: A tribute to Trey Burke. His finest moments. Oh yes "Roger Federer as a Religious Experience" reference in regards to Trey Burke, oh yes. HSR on the end of basketball season.
UMHoops talks to 2015 SG recruit Luke Kennard. MSU is selling spots in the press box for their spring game. How much? Next question. The definition of amateurism is "whatever the NCAA says it is," and changes constantly. Four(!) Michigan players make John Gasaway's final top 25 freshmen($), with Spike Albrecht making the tail end of the list at 25. That's for show, man. David Allen Grier gets Trey Burke to smile. It is possible. Drake Harris "commitment" scarequotes are unbecoming.
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's high school action, bids farewell to a couple wide receiver targets, and looks forward to a big visit weekend for... basketball?
Get That Man A Square-Toed Shoe
Michigan commits Jaron Dukes (Marion-Franklin) and Taco Charlton (Pickerington Central) faced off against each other this past weekend; Central came away with a 45-24 victory, and MGoUser Dubs was there to take in the action. If you're looking to submit a scouting report for Future Blue Originals, this is how it's done:
DE/LB Taco Charlton, 2013: Despite Marion-Frankin running away from Taco (about 80% of the time), he managed to rack up 8 tackles, and a tackle for loss (zero sacks). It was about 50/50 as to whether he had his hand down as a DE, or whether he was lined up as an OLB. Pickerington Central did show multiple fronts, ranging from a 3-3-5(!), 3-4, and a 4-3 (with Taco as DE). He even saw around 5 snaps on offense, and caught a nice PA-pass for a 15 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter. He did leave early in the 4th quarter after an apparent shoulder injury (possibly a stinger). But after being checked with a trainer, Taco was out there after a couple of plays, only to be banned to the sideline for the rest of the game after the game was well in hand. Pickerington Central won 45-24.
As far as the "eyeball test," I must admit I was a little disappointed at Taco's lack of aggression. There were moments when a sure passing down approached, and I expected to see that pass-rushing prowess we all read about in 7 on 7's this summer, but I did not see it. The tackle guarding him was very large (some may say "fat," but I don't want to personally attack a kid), and VERY slow, so I was expecting Taco to beat him off the line, lower his shoulder, and destroy the QB. Instead, he relied more on his inside spin more than anything. I will suspect that perhaps, it was because the QB was a very good athlete, Taco was in charge of contain more than anything. Marion-Franklin sent a back to chip Taco's outside pass-rush, as well, which also would limit his opportunities. However, I feel there were times where Taco could have taken over the game but did not. I do not know if it is a motor issue, or the coaches playing him conservatively against a dual threat QB.
WR Jaron Dukes, 2013: It was very difficult for Dukes to get involved, mostly because the Marion-Franklin QB relied more on his feet than anything. The throws the QB did make were hitches, outs, slants, and screens of all sorts. That being said, Dukes still managed to haul in 5 passes (out of 8 targets) for about 42 yards. He was targeted for a TD jump-ball thrown to him early in the 1st quarter, in which he had a height advantage of at least 6 inches over the opposing defender, however, the ball was vastly under-thrown, and was broken up. Dukes also dropped a possible TD pass (at least a very large gain) during the hurry-up in the waning seconds of the 2nd. Dukes also handled the kickoff duties, which, if Michigan is looking for some sort of "Tom Dempsey style" kicker/WR hybrid, they got their man.
As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine). There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog. Perhaps he is not used to getting much "love," as most of the passing offense derived from the slot receivers (which if true, why not put Dukes in slot?). I will say this, he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.
Overall, I felt that these two looked the part of a D-1 prospect. However, it is hard to tell their true potential based on their supporting cast: obviously you'll run away from Taco because his supporting DE looked half his size. And it's hard to get any love as an outside receiver when your QB cannot make the throws. So, I had to remind myself: these kids are prospects. And with that, I have great faith in the Michigan coaches that they can mold these kids into serviceable players or, hopefully, even stars.
A huge thanks to Dubs for sending this in, as well as bringing up the possibility of a Michigan wide receiver also handling kicks "Tom Dempsey style."
[Hit THE JUMP for the full recruiting roundup, including info on what could be a huge visit weekend for the basketball program.]
blog policy is to always have a picture
no this is not relevant
Commit watch. Seriously. For what it's worth, David Dawson says [protected] we're on commit watch, and then says "seriously." If that actually transpires it would have to be LaQuon Treadwell—Michigan doesn't have anyone else on the board who has been making noises about committing before official visits happen. Treadwell, meanwhile, flirted with pulling the trigger at the Opening and told various people Michigan had a big edge but also just announced he was going to visit Oklahoma State.
I'm betting false alarm, but hey there you go.
[UPDATE: Ace suggests that it may be a 2014 guy, which makes more sense.]
Zak Irvin exploding. There is some disagreement in the scouting community about just how good Zak Irvin is—Scout has him a three-star outside of their top 100 while the other two services rank him around #60. That gap may be getting wider as Scout has seemingly no inclination to change that opinion and ESPN guys are writing stuff like this($) after catching him at the Adidas Invitational:
He is starting to separate himself from everybody else and may be the best overall player at the adidas Invitational. He is an aggressive scorer with a high skill level and excellent athletic ability. He has terrific size for a small forward and consistently knocked down 3-pointers on the break or coming off screening action in the half-court set. He can also get all the way to rim with his drive or find an open teammate. Overall, Michigan landed itself a player who competes hard and can fill up the stat sheet.
That's high praise at a major event—the next guy that writeup mentions is five-star SG Isaac Hamilton.
On whether he has a top group:
“I don’t have an (order). It’s just all of them.”
On a time table for making a decision:
“I don’t [have a time table]. Me and my dad were thinking about talking about it when the summer’s over and first we’re going to cut down the schools, and see where we go from there.”
Michigan and Missouri are probably his top two with Michigan State lurking—a scheduled visit had to be re-scheduled due to Izzo unavailability.
Nine games again? With the Pac-12 agreement dead everyone's head goes back to what they were going to do in the first place:
"You know, if we hadn’t done the collaboration, we’d do nine," Delany said of the Big Ten's league slate. "If we do the collaboration, we’ll do eight. So, we’re able to attract a higher quality of game. We’re not expanding the number of games, we’ll still play 12.
"The question is, are you gonna play eight quality conference games and assure there’s a ninth quality game in the mix, one way or the other? ... The idea was to upgrade the quality of the schedules, either through nine or through the collaboration.”
I'm guessing everyone outside of the Purdue/Northwestern/Other Teams For Whom Bowl Eligibility Is A Big Deal athletic departments is in favor of expanding the conference schedule again, and even teams who frequently find themselves on the bowl eligibility bubble seem to be less desperate for their minor prestige these days. Unfortunately, I can't find it anymore but there was an article in which Northwestern said they were in favor of moving the bowl eligibility line to 7-5.
If you don't care about getting to your very-likely-unprofitable bowl game when you''re not that good, then it's just a matter of figuring out what's more likely to sell tickets: a Big Ten game or the #3 nonconference game you can scrounge up.
Downing rising. Recently named an "A" prospect by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, 2013 D commit Michael Downing gets a full profile at College Hockey Perspective:
On his style of play:
”I am an offensive defensmen who loves to rush the puck and create scoring chances. At the same time, I know when to join a play and when not to join a play. My biggest key factor is that I’m very solid defensively and I would dive face first to block a shot because one goal could make a difference in a game. The most important part to my game is keeping the puck out of our net. I play exactly the same as Niklas Krownwall (of the Detroit Red Wings). I love to throw big hits. I’m solid defensively and I am a humble leader.”
Downing is a bit of an oddity in that he does not play for the NTDP team but has participated in a number of international tourneys that the NTDP forms the core of the team for. For what it's worth, OHL piracy seems a distant possibility…
On his commitment to play college hockey at Michigan:
“I committed to Michigan for several reasons. The two main reasons are that it’s every parents’ dream to see their kid play college hockey and, more importantly, in your home state. The other reason is that I’ve been in love with the school since I was four. When you know, you know, and I just fell in love. Playing at Yost (Ice Arena) is just a dream come true because there are so many historic moments there. I honestly just can’t wait to be a Wolverine.
…but I say that about everyone. If Connor Carrick can end up at Plymouth anyone can.
Etc.: TOC starts writing guest columns for the Free Press. I was intrigued to see Piston Powered-authored columns pop up in my news feed at the same thing. Filed under cost-saving measures.
BSD defends Penn State from the torrent of outrage. Trey Burke declares M a national title contender. Erik Bakich adds the state's Mr. Baseball to kick off his recruiting. Economists are bad at statistics, but the Felix Salmon thing doesn't really prove it. Maize and Blue Nation looks back at five years on the internet.
Unrelated. I tried, but there's no way to even pretend this is relevant.
Amazing. BHGP's Horace E. Cow finishes his fake pro combat series with Ohio State, and it's a doozy:
Click. It is amazing.
Basketball offers. As expected, they went out to Keita Bates-Diop and Devin Booker on Friday. Neither dropped immediately but both made encouraging noises. Booker gave various sites a variation on this quote:
Where does Michigan rank among the schools who have offered you or otherwise contacted you?
Michigan is definitely a top runner. I don’t know about an exact rank, but they’re definitely going to be there throughout the whole recruiting process. They’re up there.
I got all excited about the version of the quote($) he gave to Rivals that called Michigan "a strong frontrunner" and I took that to mean they were the front-runner, but the overall picture is more circumspect than that. Booker seemed taken aback when UMHoops asked if he was committing this summer. Booker's verging on five-star status—31st to Rivals, 23rd to ESPN, 29th to Scout—everywhere and would be a big pickup.
As for Bates-Diop, the vibe seems to be Michigan or Purdue and somewhat soon.
Brockdate. The Toledo Blade updates us on Brock Mealer's situation and recent charitable activities:
"I talk about perseverance," Mealer said. "I talk about the things that come from hard work, about accepting challenges rather than avoiding them. For me, that's about faith. Having a tragic thing happen, but remaining faithful."
Mealer and his family -- including part of the family he's come to know in the Michigan football program -- hosted and took part in the David Mealer Memorial Classic on Monday. In its third year the golf tournament has raised more than $20,000 for various charities and medical causes, and its designated beneficiaries this year are the emergency room department of the Fulton County Health Center in Wauseon and Athletic Angels, a charitable foundation run by former Michigan strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis; the charity's emphasis this year is to provide personal training for individuals with paralysis.
26 of the 120 golfers were Michigan football players, a veritable festival of shots shanked backwards off the tee. You will tear up on senior day this year when Brock is standing next to Elliott. This is a warning.
LEAVE THE FALCONS ALONE. Those Peregrine falcon chicks that picked up the first names of various Michigan football coaches had an accident:
Three of the four newly hatched peregrine falcon chicks that live atop University of Michigan Hospital are in rehab after dropping from their nest onto a landing above the second floor of the hospital.
The chicks appear to be unharmed but are in rehab so specialists can help them develop flying muscles, said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Specialist Christine Becher.
If I see them at my next physical therapy appointment I'll advise them to follow the example of Yost and adopt the last names of the various coaches. No one has actually given name X to chick Y yet, but it's logical to assume that the one who didn't fall off the building is the one who took the last name of the coach, not the first name. None of this would have happened if these chicks were named uniformly.
Fascinating, captain. Holly asks "what is the Big Ten equivalent of PAAAOWL, anyway?" And… well, what is it? The best I can come up with is saying something mean about Jim Delany.
“It’s unbelievable,” Di Giuseppe told New England Hockey Journal from his hotel room in Toronto, where he is attending the NHL Scouting Combine this week. “When you start looking at NCAA programs, one school stands out: the University of Michigan Wolverines. Growing up, I never really looked at going there, but as time went by, and I began to look at maybe taking a different route, there was no other choice for me.”
A junior year maybe? He is very young.
Was there a question about this? The GLI has been extended to 2014 under the usual format (Michigan Tech/Michigan/Michigan State/Wildcard), something I've never seen reported before. Accompanying quote:
"The Great Lakes Invitational tournament has become a long-standing tradition with our program and other schools in the state," Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in a statement. "We are pleased that this annual holiday tournament will continue for the foreseeable future."
Not to be paranoid, but does this make anyone else think the tournament might either be going away or facing changes in the somewhat near future? Of late the GLI has acted as a bridge between Michigan Tech, the one in-state school not in the CCHA, and the rest of the state. When the various Michigan schools are spread across three conferences, it seems like Wildcard should always be Ferris or Western or Northern or Lake State and at that point we might want to start talking about a larger tournament.
I've mentioned this before. It's fun to Play For Stuff and now there's a need for the Michigan schools to get greater exposure to each other. The GLI could morph into the end of that tourney.
Proposed format reminder:
- Grab either BGSU or Notre Dame for an eighth team.
- Form two groups of four with MSU and M split, Ferris and WMU split, and fill out the groups with the WCHA and honorary Michigan team. Example group: M, WMU, NMU, BGSU. Example group two: MSU, Ferris, LSSU, MTU.
- Each team plays two games against each group opponent—the WCHA teams in the same division can have an early-season conference series double as their Michigan Cup series. Top two in each group advance to the GLI.
- GLI is as is, with group winners avoiding each other in the first round.
The GLI trophy, whatever it is, now means something pretty cool. You could rescue the Mason Cup from oblivion if you want. (I'd prefer to not continue glorifying a man who spent his career trying to murder entertaining hockey no matter how nice and successful he was, but you may not be so opposed.) Michigan also has six of their 14 nonconference games set every season. The only reason not to do it is a slight amount of money Michigan and Michigan State won't be getting by loading up their nonconference schedules with the Bentleys of the world. Yay money!
To be fair, I think every school in the Dakotas has something like that on Minnesota. Maybe the new world of college football playoffs will tell us what's in the computer formulas. Mark Donnal's team won the camp championship at the NBPA thing. Athlon predicts Michigan will win the Big Ten this year. MVictors on the departed Bob Chappius. Zach Travis on M finally beating OSU.