"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
A pretty light week as most high school prospects are focusing on preparation for their senior season, rather than recruiting. Once official visits start rolling, it should get interesting again. All updates can be seen on the 2010 Recruiting Board.
Your Weekly Semi-Creepy Devin Gardner Update - Now with Co(r?)nelius Jones!
Fluff on MI QB Commit Devin Gardner. It's nothing you've never heard before, if you're more inclined to not click Free Press links.
Inkster has eight road games and three brutal trips to Ohio to play against Cleveland St. Edward, St. Ignatius and Steubenville High -- all powers.
With no home games and needing to win five games just to make the playoffs, Gardner's situation is different from any top-flight quarterback in the state.
I've yet to figure out why the Vikings have no home games. There's a pretty good photo gallery by the Free Press, as well. There was video floating around the interwebs of Gardner's performance at a scrimmage last week, but it appears to have been taken down.
Rivals AMP caught up with QB Commit Cornelius Jones. They're currently not allowing embedding of said video, but Jones says he's 100% solid with Michigan. He's open to switching positions once he gets to Ann Arbor, but will come in as a quarterback. Jones's high school season began on Friday, and you can see how it went in this week's Friday Night Lights feature.
By the way - there's still some confusion about whether Jones's first name is "Cornelius" or "Conelius" (no 'r'). Alas, I've been unable to definitively clear that issue up, so I'll continue with option A until it can be settled once and for all.
Officially Visitin' (Or Not)
Hopefully once the season gets underway, I'll be able to devote an entire section of each recruiting post to that week's docket of visitors. For now:
OH TE Alex Smith has started talking about his favorites, despite being "committed" to Cincinnati. I think at this time it's fair to say he's no longer a commit to the Bearcats, they just lead for him. Wisconsin and UNC are atop his list behind Cincy, with Kentucky shortly behind. Smith's only scheduled official visit thus far is to Wisconsin for the season opener, and a Michigan visit no longer sounds like a lock.
WI P Will Hagerup had named his official visit to Michigan for the Western game on September 5, those plans are changing. He'll now head to Ann Arbor for the Indiana game on September 26th. This will be his last official visit before deciding, which is a minor boost to Michigan's chances.
Michigan will get an official visit from VA LB Aramide Olaniyan, currently a Duke commit ($, info in header). He's taking all five visits, so the Wolverines may have a chance to pry him away with Duke if they really want him.
Though there was talk about who would be getting Sharrif Floyd's official visits in the last update, he intends to change his plans for those visits ($, info in header). Since Michigan was not under consideration in the previous list, any chage is good for the Wolverines. No word on whether they're in his newly-adjusted plans.
Scouting Reports? Scouting Reports
Rivals covered a couple scrimmages, and talks about a couple M prospects of note:
S- Latwan Anderson- Glenville- After turning in a great performance vs. Elyria Catholic from the safety spot, Anderson put on a show at wide receiver against Cardinal Mooney. He made a spectacular catch above his head along the sideline against Braylon Heard. He also made a circus one-handed catch out of bounds that drew loud applause from the crowd. At safety, he forced a fumble at the goal line on Braylon Heard.
WR- D.J. Williamson (Michigan commit)- Warren Harding- Speed will never be an issue with Williamson, he can really glide on the football field. He is still growing into a natural receiver, but should really benefit from having a solid passing quarterback take over at Harding, transfer Jordan Miller. Williamson also played some cornerback, and showed good ability to break on the football.
Williamson sounds like a potential sleeper; you can't teach speed. Ohio HS Sports.com also took a look at a few players, including WR Jerald Robinson:
Jerald Robinson, WR/DB , Canton South -- Michigan commit is always a big-play threat and also had 7 interceptions last year. His three-year QB has graduated and he'll face double and triple teams, but he'll still produce.
So, hooray for that, I guess. A lot more preview-type stuff on Michigan commits in Friday Night Lights.
OH S/WR Bobby Swigert has narrowed to a list of four suitors: M, Stanford, Nebraska, and BC.
If things go as planned, Cullen Christian may end up as the "Guy Everyone Took For Granted And Aren't Excited When He Commits" for the class of 2010. He's still saying good thing about Michigan, and will play multiple positions for Penn Hills this season:
"Michigan is No. 1, but I probably won't make my decision until sometime during the season. I don't know how close I am to pulling the trigger...
Teams didn't throw the ball to my side much last year. At safety, I can make plays."
He is taking official visits to UCLA, WVU, and Maryland in the first month of the football season. I would presume one more official visit, then hopefully a commitment to Michigan when he takes his final visit to Ann Arbor.
FL CB Tony Grimes has narrowed to a top 3 of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ole Miss. He does not plan to make a final decision until Signing Day.
CA WR Kenny Stills is still nominally considering Michigan. I wouldn't get your hopes up, though he may be taking an official visit. OH DE Derrick Bryant once favored Michigan, but now it appears as though he doesn't want to play in the Big Ten ($, info in header). He currently favors UCLA, Oregon, Kentucky, and North Carolina. MD OL Arie Kouandjio has named 8 schools on top of his recruitment, and Michigan isn't among them. He's bumped down to a Nefarious Eduardo, and is soon to be removed. Removed FL CB Eric Mitchell, who committed to Ole Miss.
Note: In an effort to remove the enormous and uninviting block of text from the top of the recruiting posts, I've excised the recruiting board update from the post itself. It can still be seen on the actual board.
Elsewhere in Committed Prospects...
OH CB Commit Courtney Avery is already known as a multi-talented player: On top of being a defensive back, he's also a startlingly accurate quarterback for his Lexington team. Add a new segment to the resume, as he's also a very accomplished hoopster.
Avery, who originally planned to play football and basketball for Stanford, will focus solely on football at Michigan. Did another national championship leave him second-guessing the decision?
"I'm going to miss basketball, but I'm comfortable with the decision I've made," he said. "This was just a chance to go out and play one final time.
"We started a dynasty together and we wanted to finish it together."
The AAU national championship was his team's third in a row.
Devin Gardner is now a 5-star, and the #4 overall QB on Scout (moves that I predicted would happen, though perhaps not this early). He also passes William Gholston as the #1 in-state prospect.
Cornelius Jones leads Spartanburg to a 13-0 scrimmage victory.
Slightly Longer Shots
AZ S Marquis Flowers "knows two visits he plans to take" ($). Considering the article is written by a staffer from The Wolverine, we can assume that one of those two visits is to Ann Arbor.
Michigan is likely done recruiting running backs unless they can land an elite prospect (i.e. Eduardo Clements), but should they need a backup plan, FL RB Cassius McDowell is probably a good bet. A good friend and former teammate of Denard Robinson, he's the new leader of Deerfield Beach. Also interesting is the fact that the Bucks ran a Wing-T offense last year, but will transition to a spread in 2009. Great timing, guys.
OH S Latwan Anderson has West Virginia, Michigan State, and Georgia atop his list right now, with the Mountaineers leading the way. Michigan seems to have slipped out of his recruitment, though he plans to take his visits before deciding.
CA RB Anthony Barr, who had up to this point had only been on the periphery of Michigan recruiting attention, has included the Wolverines in his final five, along with USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Cal. He's a big dude at 6-4 and 223 lbs, so perhaps the Wolverines like his upside at linebacker? He won't decide until his football season is completed.
MD LB Josh Furman will definitely take a visit to Ann Arbor, along with planned visits to Maryland and Virginia Tech. He will announce his decision at the Maryland Crab Bowl, which The Google Machine says takes place on December 19th.
One of the last remaining players interested in Michigan from the DeMatha contingent is S Lorenzo Waters. He includes Michigan in his top four, along with Maryland (the favorite), Miami (That Miami), and Wake Forest.
Other People's Money (and Four-Stars)
OH TE Alex Smith has been "committed" to Cincinnati since February, but the solidity of that commitment has not been constant over time. At this time, he is in an off-again phase with the Bearcats, and the Wolverines have an opening:
As positive as that experience was, it did not propel the Wolverines over a familiar hurdle of theirs when it comes to recruiting tight ends -- scheme.
Despite the assurances offered, Smith remained skeptical about how prevalent a role the tight end will play in Michigan's new offense...
Michigan's best chance at dispelling what it contends is a common misconception about how it uses tight ends will come on the field this fall. Getting Smith back on campus so he can witness the increased productivity of the current tight end tandem of Kevin Koger and Martell Webb will be a major priority. Smith plans to oblige the request, but he plans to do the same for a few other programs as well.
"In no order I'm liking UNC (prior visit), Michigan (prior visit), Wisconsin (prior visit), Miami, LSU and Kentucky (prior visit)," he reported. "Two or three (will receive visits), for sure. I don't know how many I need to take because after going places, I know what they have to offer and there's no real need to go back. I still want to (make a commitment) pretty early (in the season).
So, it looks like Cincinnati is basically out. As long as Michigan uses the tight end effectively this fall, the Wolverines are probably at the top of Smith's list. Smith is also quoted as saying that Michigan is his mom's #1 choice. HOWEVA, Michigan isn't in Smith's top list in this Kurelic article…
When asked to name his top choices Smith said, "Cincinnati, then Wisconsin, then North Carolina, and Kentucky is in there too."
…though he does list Michigan first when asked what schools he'd like to visit in the near future.
In the Trenches
After the commitment of OH DT Terry Talbott, the need at this position is likely for one more high-level DT.
FL DT Louis Nix, a longtime commit to the hometown Miami Hurricanes, has opened his recruitment. He will officially visit Notre Dame, and will also consider Michigan along with Florida and Florida State.
There is some confusion over the official visits of PA DT Sharrif Floyd. Michigan fans are up in arms that Bill Kurelic wrote an article with Ann Arbor not among his destinations. I wouldn't worry too much quite yet, though, as he sounds less than definite in those plans (emphasis mine):
"I'm going to take all five official visits," Floyd said on Tuesday evening. "I'll probably visit Penn State, Ohio State, South Carolina and Florida, something like that."
So, less than certain. He's also said in the past that he definitely will not take an official to Penn State, so this can all get quite confusing. For now, I'd say Michigan fans should be in wait-and-see mode with Floyd. Additional fluff on Floyd, noting that he'll play offensive guard this year, along with maybe a bit of linebacker(!).
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, though a top-5 list a couple weeks ago did not include Michigan, FL OL Torrian Wilson has narrowed his list to three, with Miami, Stanford and Michigan remaining. The Wolverines had been his favorite earlier, but Miami has come on strong, and will probably be the team to beat. And let's check out some video from SoFlaFootball, for good measure:
Season preview fluff on OH OL Commit Christian Pace:
Christian Pace, a 6-4, 270-pound two-way tackle, was first team All-SWC last year and will attending the University of Michigan on a football scholarship in 2010.
He also plays defensive tackle. For the record, that's by far the tallest I've seen him listed (most reports say 6-2ish, though he's listed at 6-3 on the recruiting sites). Avon Lake also scrimmaged against Midview over the weekend (Friday to be precise), and posted a photo gallery on their website. The only good Pace photo from the gallery can be seen at right.
Wrapping up the OL talk is the official visit docket of one Seantrel Henderson. The top OL in the country will take official visits to Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC. Florida, and Notre Dame. Michigan is absent, as you can see. Not that I think the Wolverines will be added, but I take this list with a grain of salt since it comes from the mouth of his father, not Seantrel himself. It also includes Notre Dame, while Henderson the younger has been adamant for some time that he's not interested in the Irish. Either way, MIchigan is likely no longer a player.
Michigan still leads (still!) for PA teammates Brandon Ifill and Cullen Christian, though Ifill says Maryland is even with the Wolverines. Byrnes wideout Nick Jones wants to make an Ann Arbor visit. Michigan seems to be out of it for OH S Kurtis Drummond. MI DE CJ Olaniyan seems to really like... Oklahoma State?
Removed FL LB Christian Jones. Michigan is outside of his top 6 ($).
FL RB Demetrius Hart confirms that Michigan is his only verbal offer so far, and though he seems to favor Michigan, he no longer plans to make an early decision. He will, however, try to enroll early at the school he ultimately chooses.
FL QB Teddy Bridgewater doesn't really like calling the signals. Does that mean a move back to wideout for college? If so, Michigan interest might not be worthwhile.
On Monday MGoBlog took a look at current commits unlikely to move up.
Rivals and Scout rankings are useful but imperfect, and early rankings are more imperfect still. Though Michigan freshman Taylor Lewan ended up a 4-star prospect to both major recruiting site, he entered his senior season virtually unknown. By the time final rankings had come out he was a four star well within everyone's top 150.
The following players look to be this year's Lewan and have some upward mobility this fall. Not all will move up, of course, but look for one or two of the below players to gain a fourth star, or, in Devin Gardner's case, a fifth.
MI QB Devin Gardner
|Ranking||DT QB #2||QB #6|
Why Here? Devin has been compared to Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young, so it stands to reason that he is highly-ranked. He took his team to the state championship game (in which the Vikings lost to East Grand Rapids), and put together a solid junior campaign both on the ground and through the air.
All of the recruiting sites like Devin, but none of them love him yet. Barry Brunetti is listed ahead of him among dual-threats on Rivals, and Gardner is still chasing that elusive 5th star on Scout.
Prediction: This isn't much of a prediction. Multiple Rivals analysts have stated flat-out that Gardner will be their #1 dual threat QB and comfortably in the top 100 when they take the Elite 11 into consideration. He has shown off his athleticism—and willingness to compete—by attending various camps and combines in the summer before his senior season despite his early commitment to Michigan. He has shown potential greatness at QB, WR, and even defensive back(!); his versatility is not in question. He killed it at the Elite 11.
Unless he completely tanks this season, anything other than 5 stars will be a disappointment for Devin.
SC QB Cornelius Jones
|Ranking||DT QB #24||QB NR|
Why Here? Cornelius Jones's junior season didn't go well. He got exposure during it, playing highly-ranked teams within the state of South Carolina in every game, but his team wasn't good. The competition (like Byrnes, the home of Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Willis, et al, who Spartanburg played twice) was. Jones ended up throwing just 1 touchdown to 12 interceptions.
Michigan extended an informal offer last April and followed through with an official offer in January. He was among the first QBs that the Michigan coaching staff extended an offer to, so they think highly of him despite the inexperience. There's something there.
Prediction: Jones' polish-to-talent ratio is very low, and his learning curve may be quick. A player doesn't have offers in the summer before his junior season if he's not talented (especially when he didn't even play as a sophomore). He's done much better in summer 7-on-7 camps, leading Spartanburg to a tournament final against Byrnes amongst a crowded field of quality programs.
Even if he can't prove his worth as a QB, the recruiting services might rank him as an athlete. If he can have a decent enough year in his senior season, he could end up a fringe 4-star guy. At the very least he should pick up a third star from Scout and get bumped up a bit in the positional rankings.
One heartening item: his high school coaching staff will have a year under their belt coaching as well. Last year was their first in Spartanburg.
TX RB/Slot Tony Drake
|Ranking||APB #16||RB NR|
Why Here? Drake is the sort of guy who can excel in the Rich Rodriguez offense, but isn't likely to be considered for a high ranking by the recruiting sites. He's a speedy little bastard who performs despite his diminutive stature, and probably wouldn't last long in the NFL.
Drake was productive as a receiver as a sophomore, but was relegated to a backup running back last year.
Prediction: He is at one of the right programs to have success at: Skyline routinely pumps out a talent, and is one of the most visible high school teams in the nation. The stage is set for Tony Drake to take a big leap forward.
Now he just has to perform. Being named second team all-district at WR as a sophomore proves he might have the skill to get it done. I was pretty dubious on Drake's ability to move up, but there is an the opportunity in front of him.
OH WR Jerald Robinson
|Ranking||WR #43||WR #68|
Why Here? Robinson hasn't gotten it done on the field yet. A bad QB situation may have played a role in that. He is also a multi-position player that nobody knows exactly where to place. Originally, most Michigan fans thought he would play safety. After an impressive camp performance, however, nobody knows quite where he will play. At the moment, it seems like he'll stay at wideout.
If the quarterback situation at Canton South doesn't get better, Robinson won't have a opportunity to produce. However, if it improves, he can move up with a much better year.
Prediction Sam Webb was really high on Robinson as the best wideout at Michigan's camp, which was also attended by the likes of Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. That alone indicates that Robinson is an talent deserving of 4-star status.
With impressive performances this summer—and hopefully a better season as a senior—Robinson will have a shot at getting a fourth star on Scout, too.
OH WR DJ Williamson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #106|
Why Here? DJ Williamson is unknown. Though he has a highlight film on Scouting Ohio, the recruiting services either don't know much about him or didn't deem him worthy of even a 3-star ranking until recently. Williamson committed early and has not attended any camps, so his exposure is very low. Scout and Rivals both have him at three stars (finally), but he is way, way down on each of their wideout lists.
There is upside here: Williamson has decent size at 6-1 showed elite speed by winning the 100m dash in meet after meet on his way to the Ohio state title.
Prediction: If Warren finds a quarterback to get the ball to him, Williamson's size and speed alone should boost him up to a high 3-star. Four stars is doubtful for a guy who hasn't put in the time at combines and camps.
MI WR/TE Jeremy Jackson
|Ranking||WR NR||WR #78|
Why Here? The son of a coach, Jackson got early offers from the likes of Florida and Texas before ending his recruitment early. He is a polished player as a coach's son. He had good, but not exceptional stats as a junior.
Players who have received lots of coaching in their careers but aren't dominant in high school, usually don't have the physical talents to be elite players. And with Huron moving to a veer option offense, Jackson may not have a lot of opportunity to prove that he deserves to be ranked among the top players in the nation.
Prediction You may be taken aback at first by the fact that Jackson is listed as a WR/TE. Sam Webb has been saying on the WTKA recruiting roundup for quite some time now that Jeremy is still growing, and currently looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver. With Michigan's new focus on athletic tight ends, they might encourage a further move in that direction. Jackson may have more upside there, and if the recruiting sites make this change in position, he could move up to a 4-star prospect.
[Editor's note: I would have slotted Jackson in the other group; he's polished and slow-ish, two things that don't often result in big senior-year moves. Also: high school to run a veer. To be fair, Tim's basing his assessment on Jackson as a tight end.]
OH DE/LB Antonio Kinard
|Ranking||LB NR||DE #55|
Why Here? Kinard is the third in the trifecta of tweeners Michigan has committed on defense (the other two, Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz, were listed as “Stuck in Neutral”). He doesn't stand out on film more than most prospects, which leads to his 3-star ranking. And with two classmates a year older heading to Michigan, he probably got at his fair share of scouting.
But Kinard is athletic, as evidenced by his huge TD run in the game that I scouted with VB last year, and Duane Long also thinks he's got serious athletic ability.
Prediction: Kinard wasn't highly productive on a defense last year that featured current Michigan freshman Isaiah Bell roaming the secondary. You'd think that an imposing safety like Bell would give Kinard more opportunities to make plays, but he didn't. He has the athleticism, though, the potential for big time production is there.
Unlike Paskorz and Wilkins, I think Kinard is likely to stay at LB. Still, I think he'll be a low-4 or higher 3-star prospect. A big move is unlikely for a tweener.
OH CB Courtney Avery
|Ranking||DB NR||CB #23|
Why Here? Avery, a star for Lexington High School for the last three years, is not underexposed. The problem is that he has starred as a diminutive quarterback. Avery only started playing on defense just this past year, but couldn't go full time since he was busy tearing up opposing defenses on the other side of the ball. Now that he knows where he’ll play in college, that might change.
If Avery was a couple inches taller. He could be a Troy Smith clone (not that Smith was a giant) and use his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism to direct Michigan's spread offense. Alas, he's not, so unless he's used for the occasional trick play on offense, he'll be a corner for GERG's defense.
Prediction Avery has some of the best upside in Michigan's entire recruiting class so far. Local observer Duane Long thinks Michigan got "a steal." Avery is just one year into his new position, potentially still growing, and was deemed good enough by Michigan's coaches to receive an offer at camp after a week of personal observation. If he can take enough time off from blazing through opposing defenses, he should be able to move up in the rankings. Avery's a quintessential late mover.
Update 7/14: Linked to articles on OH DT Terry Talbott, PA OL Robbie Havenstein, CA S Sean Parker, OH OL Skyler Schofner, OH S Latwan Anderson, FL RB Corvin Lamb, SC QB Cornelius Jones, MI P Mike Sadler, CA LB Tony Jefferson, PA DT Sharrif Floyd, MN OL Seantrel Henderson (and PA S Brandon Ifill), CT LB Khari Fortt.
Video of SC QB commit Cornelius Jones.
Added FL RB Brandon Gainer.
Removed FL DE Delvin Jones, OH OL Andrew Donnal (Iowa), OH OL Travis Jackson (MSU), TX LB Corey Nelson (A&M).
Some links from Bleed Scarlet.
Jones was a tremendous longshot from day one and Jackson camped at Michigan but failed to get an offer. BFDs—sarcastic BFDs—both.
OH OL Andrew Donnal, on the other hand, is a highly-regarded kid and should have been one of Michigan's priorities at tackle this fall; he's now off the board. And TX LB Corey Nelson had Michigan as his leader for about ten minutes in March, but Michigan quickly fell off the radar. Linebacker options are thinning.
Imminent, Impending, Etc.
I talk to Coach Rod Smith and Jackson the most. I really like that I’ve built a good relationship with all the coaches, not just my position coaches. It’s good to get to know all of them, and see that they all have the same goals. That’s kind of what has them [Michigan] as my favorite.
White's currently sporting blue on the recruiting board. The LSU visit did not come off and State's opinion of their chance became clear when they offered Nick Hill. Everyone expects he will put on a block M hat tomorrow.
The Spartan spin machine will get engaged now; I can't wait to hear what Valenti and the rest of the short bus crowd come up with to explain State losing a guy who's got two brothers on the MSU team and was the preferred choice of both instate schools.
Done, or no?
With TX RBs Stephen Hopkins and Tony Drake in the bag—though a lot of people are saying Drake will end up a slot receiver woo don't we need some more receivers—and the likely addition of White, Michigan is close to done at tailback. There are still a couple guys out there that Michigan would just about have to make room for, though.
One, FL RB Eduardo Clements, camped at Michigan, claims an even top three of Miami, Georgia, and Michigan, and has seen Georgia take two high-rated tailback commits in recent weeks. Even so, most observers think Michigan remains a longshot. An official visit is on tap if his recruitment goes that long.
The other is a new, surprising name: FL RB Brandon Gainer. He's got a top two that includes M:
… Gainer is a true running back prospect and ranked as the No. 12 player at the position nationally by Rivals.com. Michigan has made a big jump on his list in the last few months and now joins Florida State atop his list. He plans to take an official visit to Michigan this fall and decide soon after where he will attend school.
Gainer's name had hardly come up before that announcement, so I don't know much about him yet. He's a member of the Rivals 250.
White's commitment will likely end the recruitment of everyone else, including two more Florida tailbacks: Corvin Lamb now says LSU leads($) and Cassius McDowell always seemed like a plan B option.
Your Verging-On-Creepy Gardner Update
Have I gone a week without mentioning enormous, fleet-footed, charming, handsome MI QB Devin Gardner? No? Well, this won't be the week either. Gardner's made the Elite "11"* passing camp:
Devin Gardner (Committed to Michigan)
Gardner is raw and mechanically unorthodox, but he's extremely productive and talented. Plus he possesses a great work ethic-- he wants to be good. Gardner is big, athletic and the perfect fit for the spread with upside to develop and refine his passing skills.
The usual, right? At the very least Gardner's invite provides another venue via which to scout and compare Michigan's prize against the rest of the country's top recruits, including fellow instate quarterbacks Robert Bolden and Joe Boisture. If Gardner comes out of the camp on par with the rest of those guys that's a major win since the remainder of the invitees aren't 6'5" gazelles. (Except maybe for 'Bama commit Phillip Sims (Not That Phil Simms).)
That Other Guy
Michigan does have another quarterback committed: South Carolina's Cornelius Jones. Jones has been a mystery man thus far in his recruitment, ignored by the in-state schools and devoid of video or rankings on the recruiting sites. That void of information has begun to be filled. Unfortunately, I can't embed AthleteVault's highlight video, but it does exist and you can check it out. All you can tell is he's got the usual athleticism.
Meanwhile, his local paper has been giving Jones some attention of late. His Spartanburg team flew to the final of a local 7-on-7 tournament thanks in large part to his play:
“Cornelius made some phenomenal throws,” [Spartanburg HC Freddie] Brown said. “Defensively, Coach (Mark) Razzano made some good calls in tight situations, and the kids made some big plays with games on the line.”
Along the way Spartanburg downed big programs like Olive Branch (Miss.), Hoover (Ala.), and Independence (NC). In the final, Spartanburg fell to a loaded Byrnes team that features like three top-100 recruits, including Marcus Lattimore.
And a little earlier the same paper took a look at Jones' redemption story:
“I just was surrounded by a bunch of negative things. I was getting in trouble,” Jones said. “I never saw myself being around any of this (now).”
Jones was out of the public school system for 18 months as a result of his troubles.
At some point he woke up, decided he didn't like the direction things were going in, and hooked up with Spartanburg's new head coach—the previous coach had banned him from the team. From there, it was one highlight video and Michigan had an offer for him. He'll be a kid to root for once he arrives, and he will: despite his time in the wilderness Jones has a 3.7 GPA.
Michigan's in a good spot with PA S Brandon Ifill, who's yet to visit Michigan's campus but still says this about his leaders:
When asked if he has a favorite school, Ifill said, "It's probably between Michigan and Maryland. I've been to Maryland twice. I feel comfortable with the coaching staff. Michigan has been recruiting me the longest. Coach (Rich) Rodriguez has been recruiting me since he was at West Virginia."
Ifill's scheduled an unofficial at the end of the month, at which point we'll have a better grasp on how much mutual interest there is between the parties. Ifill is the teammate of PA CB Cullen Christian, who maintained a loud and proud Michigan lead for months now, and the pair could extend Rodriguez's streak of locking down teammates to a third year.
That article has some less salutary news, too…
MN OL Seantrel Henderson's dad says his son has a slate of officials he's planning. They don't include Michigan:
"I know his five official visits. He will definitely visit Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC and Florida. Florida State is one that could change. He might decide to visit somewhere else besides Florida State. He could visit both the Florida schools or he might just take one to Florida." …
When asked about the four definite official visits, Seantrel said, "That might change, but right now that's it. Florida State might be the fifth one."
Urgh. One way to look at the schedule: he's going to places he hasn't gone to before and can't afford to get to on his own time. Michigan, Notre Dame, and Minnesota did get mentions amongst the "six to eight" schools Henderson is still considering, and Henderson has already been to all three of those. As we're about to see with a kid in California, sometimes the lack of an official isn't all that telling about who leads.
That's more boosterism for the local school, though, and if that visit schedule isn't modified to include Michigan I doubt Henderson ends up at M.
*(taking a page from the Big 10, the Elite 11 actually invites 12 quarterbacks but chooses the name that sounds cooler.)
West Coast Folk
A couple of highly-touted Californians have announced plans to take officials to Michigans. CA S Sean Parker sort of has a top two:
"I'm going to Notre Dame (Sept. 4)," Parker said. "I'm also setting a visit to Michigan, but I haven't locked in the date yet. After that, I'm pretty open and really don't know who will get my last three visits but I do plan to take all five."
Aaaand CA LB Tony Jefferson sort of has a top seven:
"I have my first two visits lined up right now," Jefferson said. "I'm going to Florida (Sept. 18) and Oklahoma (Nov. 13). My last three visits will be to Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State and I'll do unofficial visits to USC and UCLA.
Jefferson claims everyone wants him as a safety so I might have to move him in the near future; he claims early playing time is extremely important and that's why big early leader USC has dropped back to the field.
Parker, who's stated he would like to get out of the state several times, is a considerably more likely option. Either would be a strong addition to the class.
Punting With Birds In
MI P Mike Sadler has picked up a State offer and now bears an impressive list:
Last week, Michigan State offered punter Mike Sadler (Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern). With the offer, the Spartans joined the likes of Alabama, LSU, Purdue, Northwestern and the Air Force Academy, all schools which had already offered him a scholarship.
Meanwhile, Michigan appears to be chasing WI P Will Hagerup above all others. Sadler grew up a Michigan fan and had some quotes earlier in the year that suggested an offer would be highly likely to end up in a commit, but if Michigan keeps holding off there's always the chance he gets ticked off and heads elsewhere. Apparently Sadler had a rough outing in front of Michigan's coaches but with specialists, especially punters, I'd trust a half-dozen other teams' evaluations over one or two afternoons.
I hope Michigan tells Hagerup they'll give him a brief window in which to commit before they offer Sadler; I'd rather take the almost-as-meaty bird that would really like to leap into your hand than the Wisconsonian in the bush. Eh… you know what I mean.
OH DT Terry Talbott had been reported as a Michigan offeree earlier, but apparently that's not quite the case:
“I know Wisconsin has offered me, Purdue and Illinois, a couple more Big Ten schools, UCLA, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina State too. Michigan hasn’t really offered me yet. I’m just trying to see when I can get a chance to come up there. We’re having trouble with our cars, but I want to come up and visit.”
Talbott has a (slightly) younger brother who's a cornerback; naturally they'd like to go to the same school. As per usual, a visit will tell.
Etc.: CT LB Khari Fortt remains a considerable longshot but this article claims he's got a visit to Michigan planned and where there's a visit there's a (vague, probably not worth mentioning) chance. PA DT Sharrif Floyd has Michigan in his top six but Penn State sounds like the leader. OH S Latwan Anderson still favors WVU. OH OL Skyler Schofner hasn't heard from M "in a while"; may not be a priority.
Linked to articles on SC QB Cornelius Jones, SC WR Nick Jones($), DC LB Javarie Johnson, OH S Kurtis Drummond, FL RB Eduardo Clements, MI QB commit Devin Gardner, SC QB commit Cornelius Jones, LA QB Munchie Legaux, MI RB Austin White, AZ S Marquis Flowers, OH OL Skyler Schofner, GA DE Henry Anderson, FL RB Roy Finch, MI P Mike Sadler (more($)).
Removed TX LB Corey Nelson(dropped M), VA DT Evan Hailes (ditto), OH LB Jordan Hicks (basically dropped us), NC DE Gabe King (M not top 4). Didn't quite remove MI LB Daniel Easterly despite his Illinois commitment.
FL RB Eduardo Clements
A couple more guys Michigan was following on Twitter but weren't being followed by (Hailes, Hicks, King) hit the bricks, as per usual. Two situations merit a little more discussion:
- Cass Tech LB Daniel Easterly committed to Illinois. I didn't remove him from the board in case a Michigan offer would warrant further consideration by him, but he didn't show at camp. That signals a lack of interest in getting that offer, and I don't expect anything will come of it.
- TX LB Corey Nelson got dropped from the board after announcing a top five that had Michigan nowhere in it, but I re-added him after a weird article in which he claimed he would take an official to Michigan, which you can read a summary of at Burnt Orange Nation.
Third (Second?) Tailback
Various recruiting sites are asserting that TX RB Tony Drake is actually being brought in as a slot receiver, FWIW, though I think that determination will depend a lot on the composition of the roster next fall and is far from decided. So more tailbacks might be in order.
FL RB Roy Finch is a high-rated waterbug sort who Michigan has offered, but this article doesn't mention them:
Finch said Oklahoma and Stanford are “right up there” on his list favorite schools. However, he says his mind is not made up quite yet. “I really think every school is in the hunt,” Finch said. “I just really have to get down and visit some schools and find out what is best for me.”
Finch added schools won’t have to wait too much longer, though, before his decision is made. “When the recruiting process first started, I thought about prolonging it,” he said. “But now, I want to get it out of the way before the season starts.”
Blah. If Finch doesn't wait for officials he'd have to shell out for an unofficial to visit M; without that he's headed elsewhere.
MI RB Austin White has been rumored to be a Michigan lean for a while now but he's playing it cool in this article:
"I'm still not really comfortable with what I've seen," White said. "I'm going to LSU July 21 and check that out. I'll get a chance to talk to the coaches.
"I might hit a couple other schools too, but I'm not sure."
Michigan and Michigan State were hit on a camp swing, as was Illinois. There have been several reports reporting a significant, but private, Michigan lead, and I still feel confident White will be a part of the class.
And camp week's most unusual visitor was FL RB Eduardo Clements, who visited, claimed he would decide between Michigan and Georgia after he came back, and saw this written about him in the aftermath:
Apparently Booker T. Washington H.S. (Miami) standout running back Eduardo Clements got a big bug put in his ear when he got to Michigan on Tuesday. Clements reportedly has dropped FSU as his top team and has put Michigan at the head of the class. Clements cited the contrast in styles as his primary reason for this.
Okay: I don't think that's true. Clements was quoted elsewhere as being down to M and UGA, so that bit of information has to be regarded skeptically. But Clements has backed off his decision to decide, which is good since the conventional wisdom was that Georgia would lock this guy down if that came off. He's also added Miami back in. The best hope here is that Clements holds off for some fall officials.
Clements, by the way, is a Rivals 100 guy who was highly impressive at camp. He would be a ver' nice pickup.
One guy who it looks like will be on the outside looking in: MI RB Nick Hill did not get an offer after his camp trip. He did pick one up from State, which is a little odd given their offense and his size (a 5'9" Ringer is one thing, but Hill is seriously tiny). The running backs in state could fall out in the opposite fashion everyone expected, with White ticketed for M while Hill sucks it up and heads to East Lansing.
Michigan's locked down one interior lineman and remains in good shape with FL OL Torrian Wilson, who spent a full week($) in Ann Arbor recently. That wasn't all camping and whatnot, as he was visiting a local aunt, but he did take the opportunity to visit the Michigan campus a few additional times. Miami remains a threat but it's hard to see anyone else coming in for him; successfully locking him down would end Michigan's interior OL recruiting.
So that would take care of interior linemen, leaving Michigan to pick up one or two tackles. Obviously Highest Most Holy Priority of Priorities is MN OL Seantrel Henderson, but there are a couple other possibilities out there. OH OL Skyler Schofner has an offer but plans on waiting to decide:
"I'll probably make (a decision) after football season," the big lineman said. "Right now, I'm considering everyone. I can't be judging anyone right now (by games) on TV and all of that. I want to see for myself."
On the other side of the ball, Michigan does draw a mention from PA DT Sharrif Floyd in a post-camp AMP interview, but it sounds like Penn State, USC, and Florida are in better shape. Floyd does plan to take his officials and commit at the Army game, so you know the drill: get him on campus and there's a chance.
MI DT Jonathan Hankins, meanwhile, is an enormous puffy version of Hill. He camped but did not get an offer after showing his conditioning to be lacking. Michigan doesn't want to actually have Barwis kill and eat anyone, so that's an issue. Michigan might follow him into the fall after giving him instructions to get in better shape; at this point I don't think that's particularly likely. DT is going to be a hard spot to fill.
The Man Who Would Be Space Emperor
Zoltan the Inconceivable shuffles off this eligibility coil this fall, of course, leaving a yawning cavern at the punting position that no one will ever fill. But men will try… men will try.
There have been a couple other names thrown around at the position (specifically: WI P Will Hagerup and FL P Brandon Tarpley) but it's looking like MI P Mike Sadler is going to be the guy. He showed at Michigan's camp and did well:
“It went well,” he explained to GBW. “I was only there for the second day, as I had a prior commitment on the first day. But I punted well. I did have a shaky session in there, but I got right back at it, and people were impressed ... so it went well."
And this is about as blunt as recruits get:
"And," he added, "I’m hoping to be their guy.” …
“I’d be very humbled (if they offered). In terms of taking it or not, I’d have to think about it -- but they’re definitely my top choice right now. So things are looking good.”
Read: offer = commit. How likely is that offer? Well, they're going to take someone at the spot and Sadler's got some impressive offers—LSU and Alabama($), for two—so once Michigan sits down to talk about special teams offers it would be a surprise not to see Sadler issued a letter.
Ah, hell: this was obvious once Michigan took a commitment from Cornelius Jones but it hurts all the same:
ESPN reports that Edna Karr multitalented QB Munchie LeGaux (6'4-180) has Oregon atop his list at this time. Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ole Miss are all a step behind for the dual threat star. He plans on majoring in sports medicine.
Legaux will probably hit "Happy Trails" in the near future; with that and the abortive commit attempt of TX LB Holmes Onwukaife, Michigan's awesome name quotient looks to take a dive this year.
Ack Potential Future WR
So the assumption on SC QB commit Cornelius Jones is that if QB doesn't pan out we'll see him move. I was hoping safety, but that's not what he's been told:
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he would start Jones out at quarterback, and if that didn't work out, most likely move him to receiver.
“That would be okay,” said Jones, who has 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash. “I like wide receiver. But I'm looking forward to giving quarterback a try.”
Nice fake 40, BTW. Hear me now and believe me later: one of our zillion WR recruits will be in the secondary before the end of 2010-2011.
Weekly Gardner Porn-type Substance
Some fluff on the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp that happened a couple weeks ago strikes upon Gardner's performance:
The event was dotted with standout moments by numerous players, but none was more consistently dominant than Inkster's Gardner. He has staked his claim as the state's top player with outright dominance in camps and combines throughout the spring and summer. His Sound Mind/Sound Body performance was more of the same.
"We all know he's a great athlete and he showed that by doing very well at receiver in addition to quarterback," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "What has impressed me the most recently, though, is how much he has improved as a passer. His mechanics are like night and day from this time last year and his passes have much more zip. The work he has put in as a passer has paid off."
Gardner also played enough wide receiver to convince observers he was the best guy at that position there, too. Seven-on-seven video from Michigan's camp for you:
I should point out that from reports Gardner had a rough day overall in the 7-on-7. That's not wholly surprising—he still needs a lot of work with reads and routes he hasn't been getting in these camps—but also might retard what looked like a sure flight towards the top of recruiting lists.
Cracking Glenville(?) And Other Safeties
OH S Latwan Anderson also showed for Michigan's 7-on-7 camp, where he was utterly dominant according to observers. (Video if you're intrigued.) Michigan, Michigan State, and WVU have been Anderson's top three for a while, but in the aftermath of the camp that list has changed:
Highly recruited Glenville H.S. defensive back and Gridironstuds.com member Latwan Anderson has announced his Top 5 of: #1 West Virginia, #2 Michigan, #3 Georgia, #4 North Carolina and #5 Miami, FL. Anderson says this list is final “no more changes.”
That site is still not 100% reliable in my mind, but it's been pretty good over the last few months and there was a premium article confirm that so there you go. I'm not aware that Anderson has visited any of his top five aside from Michigan and WVU, and the two leaders are supposed to be close to neck-and-neck. Anderson was a WVU fan when he was younger.
(Meanwhile, SpartanMag's Matt Dorsey, who if you don't know is like Tom Beaver plus an enormous inferiority complex and minus any shred of dignity, says "Ohio State and MSU are considered the favorites." Whoops. OSU might be a factor if they offer, but State just got pwned.)
Another safety to keep an eye on is some guy from South Carolina named Detrick Bonner, who popped up for the first time in an AJC article claiming offers from about a dozen programs and… uh… this leader?
He had 11 offers as of Wednesday, favoring Michigan the most. But it’s clear he hasn’t made a decision and Clemson, where he has camped, made an impression on the 6-foot, 165-pound receiver.
“The fact that they gave me my own tour, they showed more love, I guess,” Bonner told the AJC.
ACK receiver, yes, but no: at Michigan he's a DB, obviously. This is the first I've heard of Bonner; often these weird one-off stories are followed up by others that never mention Michigan at all and a commitment to a school somewhere in the South, but if he's got a Clemson offer and still says M leads this one might actually be something to watch.
Finally, OH S Kurtis Drummond visited M and MSU and has some unsurprising leaders in the aftermath of that:
Officials are on tap.
Etc.: SC WR Nick Jones says South Carolina leads($), which okay. Not sounding good with GA DE Henry Anderson. AZ S Marquis Flowers disses USC camp because it's too expensive, so don't expect him to take an unofficial to M.
South Carolina quarterback Cornelius Jones, who runs 6'3" and 185, committed to Michigan after his first day at summer camp. Despite holding a Michigan offer since last June, he remains mysterious to… uh… everyone.
So, yeah. As mentioned: Jones is a near-complete mystery, totally unranked so far in an era when if you aren't ranked by mid-June you're probably a MAC-level prospect. There are good reasons for this. He has no highlight film and hasn't hit up any camps or combines I am aware of. And he spent his early high school years not playing football.
Despite this, Michigan saw fit to offer him when his varsity snap count stood at a robust zero:
Cornelius Jones hasn’t played a down for the Spartanburg Vikings varsity football team yet, but Michigan has seen enough to offer him a scholarship.
The junior quarterback received his first offer Tuesday, after Vikings coach Freddie Brown sent the Big Ten school a five-minute video of Jones from a scrimmage.
That Tuesday was last June. His coach, perhaps alone amongst all people, wasn't surprised:
“After I sent the tape, no, I wasn’t surprised at all,” Brown said. “I can see who he’s going to be in this offense in two years.”
There's another small bit from Brown on his commitment:
"I think it's a great decision," said Spartanburg coach Freddie Brown. "He looked in state first. He didn't receive an offer and he moved on. He's a great player and a good kid. He'll start out as a quarterback. He threw a lot of balls the last couple of days at camp. Their system is a lot like our system."
The only other free internet discussion of any variety about Jones comes from this local TV guy:
Spartanburg’s new quarterback Cornelius Jones could eventually remind longtime area fans of another player by that same last name. A decade ago, Gaffney’s Kentrell Jones glided past opposing defenses and threw bombs when rolling out and that’s who this Jones reminds me of, in a much rawer form.
If you, like me, are not familiar with South Carolina high school football you're probably saying to yourself "who the hell is Kentrell Jones?" Well, he's apparently enough of a high school legend that people were comparing him favorably to five-star Willy Korn last year and has video of a 1997 state championship high school game on the YouTubes. After that game he disappeared and may have re-emerged as Drake's backup quarterback… or something.
So there you go. Or, rather, don't really.
As of April:
--Cornelius Jones (6-2, 185) of Spartanburg favors Michigan at this point. He has offers from the Wolverines, Duke, Wake Forest and Stanford. He's also hearing from North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia. Jones went to junior day at USC and Clemson but hasn't heard from them since.
Did I mention Jones currently sports a 3.7 GPA? It's not quite Holmes Onwukaife's offer from Harvard, but dang that's a bunch of high profile academic schools.
Despite the high GPA there something unfortunate in Jones' past:
Jones hasn’t played football in the Spartanburg system for a couple of years after he got into some trouble, he said. He was one of the players that Brown went out into the community and got back in school during the spring.
“He’s given me another chance, and I want to make sure I make the most of it,” Jones said.
Since that article was published just after Jones' sophomore year of high school, the trouble must have happened in, like, middle school. I can't imagine what sort of trouble an eighth-grader can get in, but in any case that's well before my personal strike meter starts ticking. That may explain the instate schools' reticence to recruit him, I guess.
Jones had no stats until last year, of course, and what stats he had indicated he was still pretty rough:
As a junior QB, he completed 89 of 185 passes (48.1%) for 1,020 yards and 2 TDs and had 226 carries for 736 yards (3.3ypc) and 7 TDs
FAKE 40 TIME
This man is so obscure he has no fake 40 time.
And neither does he have any video.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Well… WTF, guys? I have no idea what to tell you here. Jones hasn't even been rated by a single scouting service. His stats are eh, his offers aren't great, and the in-state schools apparently had zero interest. None of these are good indicators.
Despite all that, I'm not too peeved. The super-early offer and continued pursuit implies that Jones was a guy Michigan was, for whatever reason, highly enthusiastic about. He's done pretty well so far at Michigan's camp. A QB offer from David Cutcliffe means something even if he's at Duke. And with Forcier, Robinson, and Gardner in front of Jones the fourth guy on the roster should ideally be a developmental prospect with a lot of athleticism, high upside, and the ability to play elsewhere. Check, check, check. There are plenty of reasons bigger schools would avoid a flier on Jones, and reason to believe Michigan got in on the ground floor of a diamond in the rough they can afford to spend some time on.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Jones fills the second QB slot in the class and shouldn't scare off Gardner any; unless there's a decommit—which I guarantee you is completely impossible and will never happen—Michigan looks done at quarterback. The only other quarterbacks on the board with offers are AJ Derby, who doesn't seem interested, Munchie Legaux, who is now talking like he is a huge longshot to depart the South, and Jeffery Godfrey, who Michigan may have some shot at but is talking up FSU.
So if Godfrey doesn't get recruited heavily, Michigan is done. And successfully: plan A was Gardner plus a developmental prospect who has the athleticism and willingness to move to another if QB doesn't work out.