I GET IT
Boards of note:
Lots of changes on the defensive tackle recruiting front in the past couple days.
First things first, MI DT Johnathon Hankins picked Ohio State yesterday over the Wolverines. Allow me to editorialize for a moment here: This blog has a tag called "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich," but if half of the rumors about the Southeastern coaching staff's handling of Hankins's recruitment are true, we may need to expand that tag to football as well. Genuinely Sarcastic provides some angry detail.
FL DT Todd Chandler seems to be looking primarily at Louisville as an option outside of USF (where he is committed). Michigan might become a stronger option if his teammate, FL OL Torrian Wilson, visits Ann Arbor, but this one appears to be on the back-burner for now. Chandler's top schools have gone from the likes of Miami, Michigan, and Florida to Memphis, Louisville, and FIU, so he may have some issues—grades?—that are causing bigger schools to back off.
Wilson, by the way, is down to USF, Michigan, and Tennessee. Michigan could really use another offensive lineman in the class.
Cincinnati high school sports reporter Mike Dyer reports that Michigan visited OH DT/DE Jibreel Black both in-home and in-school on Monday. Black, who has been committed to Cincinnati, but is reconsidering after the Brian Kelly departure, will also visit Michigan sometime this month, probably the weekend of the 22nd. According to Dyer's full article, the Wolverines have replaced Louisville on his list.
Michigan has a couple defensive ends and a couple three-tech defensive tackles so all they need is a nose; if they pick up Black it's because they really like him.
More on his actual game performance in a delayed Friday Night Lights post next week, but MI QB Devin Gardner participated in the Under Armour All-American Bowl on Saturday. He impressed in practice:
"(Devin Gardner) really impressed me a lot," [Scout Florida expert Geoff] Vogt added. "He was bigger than I expected him to be. His arm was everything that people made it out to be. He was accurate... He clearly, in my opinion, is the top quarterback on that team... He'd be the No. 1 quarterback in Florida straight out this year and that's really saying something. I think he has a really bright future at Michigan."
Of course, being the clear #1 QB on the team got him by far the fewest snaps out of the 3 QBs, with Nick Montana and Phillip Sims getting more (the order was determined randomly, FWIW). That Webb article also says that Michigan is pursuing Tennessee commit LB Michael Taylor. I've added him to the board. Taylor remains a soft commit to the Vols.
FL CB Tony Grimes participated in last weekend's Offense-Defense Bowl, and MGoReader J. Lichty reports that opposing offenses mostly stayed away from him. He played both corner and safety. MGoBlog's own TomVH talked to Grimes last week, and he reiterated what we've been hearing for some time on both Grimes and his teammate, FL DE Clarence Murphy:
TOM: Are you and Clarence still planning on going to the same school?
TONY: As far as this point, yes that's the plan.
TOM: Is Michigan still on top for you?
The two still both favor Michigan, and plan to announce on Signing Day. Tony also said that he didn't know there was a dead period between college coaches and recruits, and was wondering why Michigan wasn't contacting him as much. Sounds like other schools haven't quite been following the rules. THE NCAA WILL BE ALL OVER THIS!
This upcoming weekend is a little more notable for Michigan fans: Commits WI P Will Hagerup and PA CB Cullen Christian will play in the US Army All-American Bowl, and CA S Sean Parker who is down to Michigan, Cal, and USC, will also participate.
The semester started today, so we should finally have a good idea of which 2010 Michigan commits were able to get in for the winter semester and spring practice.
MI QB Devin Gardner is still trying to enroll early, but Inkster's semester ends really late and there are some issues with getting him accelerated. Michigan should know by the end of the week whether he will or not. Stephen Hopkins, Jerald Robinson, Ricardo Miller, Christian Pace, Jeremy Jackson, and Austin White are all enrolling, though as of Wednesday morning Robinson and Miller did not have UMich directory entries. Marvin Robinson is also making an effort to enroll early:
Robinson, who took 3 classes over the summer in an attempt to graduate in December, said the holdup stems with 2 classes he took last semester.
"Most likely things are going to work out where I can go up there tomorrow," Robinson said.
Even if things don't, Robinson said he's firm in his commitment and will sign with Michigan in February.
I don't recall if the Athletic Department announced early-enrolling prospects last year until after Signing Day, but hopefully we'll have the final data by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, FL CB Adrian Witty was also supposed to be a midseason enroller after not qualifying for fall but is not in the Michigan directory. It's looking grimmer for Witty by the day; from the sounds of it he is qualified in the eyes of the NCAA; Michigan's admissions are the holdup. The most likely issue is a radically improved test score that got flagged.
Persistent rumors that TX RB/WR Tony Drake is so far from qualifying that he shouldn't even be considered part of the class any more get stronger by the day.
Maxpreps published its Junior All-American teams, with few prospect of interest for Michigan fans, outside of a couple pipe dreams. SoFlaFootball has also published its first 2011 top 75.
FL RB Demetrius Hart may not be the Michigan lock that we thought:
The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder has had the Wolverines out in front for some time and continues to do so, though he jokingly said that cold temperatures in the Orlando area recently may have him thinking a little.
So, yeah: That's not as negative as the headline "Florida Prospect Considers Local Programs" would make it seem. It would still be an upset for him to not land in Ann Arbor.
Michigan has offered a trio of prospects from Gardena Serra High School in California. WR George Farmer appears to be the headliner, holding offers from a who's-who of bigtime schools, including Florida and Oklahoma. DE Jason Gibson and S Marquise Lee have also received Michigan offers, along with scholarships from the likes of Miami (Yes That Miami), Oregon, and Washington.
Michigan commits Tony Drake and Austin White come in at #8 and #10, respectively on Sports Illustrated's top running backs of 2010.
All updates can be seen on the 2010 Michigan Recruiting board.
Ray Vinopal Goes Blue
For a defensive back commit, most Michigan fans weren't too excited about it (ironic, since many were complaining about the mental deficiencies of Michigan's DBs this year), but OH S Ray Vinopal has pledged his word to become a Michigan Wolverine. The 1st-Team All-Ohio selection and State Champion doesn't worry about the haters, though, as he told mgoblog's Tom Van Haaren:
Ray Vinopal - "I read what people say about me, I'm going to work my a** off to prove everyone of them wrong. I'm not scared."
Ray Vinopal - "I've been an all state sprinter in Ohio, so I'm not slow. I know what I can do, and we're going to turn it around."
Vinopal has combine-reported 5-10 height and 4.56 speed, for those who were questioning the accuracy of those numbers. He also comes from a traditionally-power football program that pumps out a number of D-1 prospects every year. Hopefully, Ray has success at Michigan, and helps open a pipeline into Cardinal Mooney.
MD LB/S Josh Furman still plans to announce his final college decision at the Maryland Crab Bowl on December 19th. He has narrowed his choices down to Michigan and Virginia Tech, and has already informed both schoolswhat his final decision will be. The recent rumblings from all parties say that Michigan is the likely choice. If Michigan is the choice, the fact that he nearly threw out his Michigan offer without even opening the envelope will be quite ironic indeed:
After his junior season, Maryland and West Virginia had extended scholarship offers. Then, last February, Dunlap was leafing through a pile of recruiting mail for Furman and tossed aside several form letters from schools that are typically sent to jog a recruit's attention. One of them was from Michigan, but Dunlap had a second thought and picked it out of the garbage.
"Then I read it," Dunlap said, "and when I got to the part where it said, 'full athletic scholarship,' I ran down the hall to tell him about it."
Furman's first major offer from a school outside of the region set off a frenzy.
Furman has been a highly-productive running back this year, though he left the State Championship game (which his team ultimately won) with a knee injury early in the contest. Video of that game can be seen here. As far as the injury goes, "smileyworm" on Scout is Furman's coach and he reports that there's nothing to worry about:
He is 100% ok. Heard something pop during a run and it felt funny afterwards. Was held out as a precaution. The knee didn't even swell. Will still play in the crab bowl on the 19th.
Will Carvin Waver?
I brought this up in yesterday's Friday Night Lights post, but it's worth examining in depth: LA S commit Carvin Johnson may be starting to pick up from interest from the hometown LSU Tigers.
Former Tennessee running backs coach Frank Wilson was offered a position on the LSU coaching staff last week, which he accepted yesterday, since just about every Tennessee assistant except Monte Kiffin is looking to get the hell out of Knoxville. The interesting part comes from the first article, however:
Having seen Wilson Thursday, he played coy and smiled. When I asked him about LSU and suggested the possible move to LSU to him, he simply said, “you think?” and “we’ll see.” Wilson was wearing a Tennessee pullover. Frank was in town at Archbishop Rummel High School, taking a hard look at Carvin Johnson, who has verbally committed to Michigan. He likes the 6’1, 190 pound senior safety and may recruit him wherever he coaches next year.
One thing Wilson did comment on was the fact that there are so many good players in Louisiana and that’s why he, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and other SEC powers spend so much time in the state. He also opined that while LSU has gotten most of those outstanding home-grown players, they have either missed on or not recruited others, including the likes of Rummel’s Johnson.
No. We found him first. You didn't want him. OURS OURS OURS.
LSU's recruitment of Johnson means two main things:
1) Michigan found a sleeper before any other big schools got on him, and now other teams see what the Wolverines unearthed first. LSU doesn't exactly suffer from a lack of DB talent, so if they want him, you know this kid's a player. There are seemingly two factions warring it out in the Michigan interwebs, one of which says to trust Rodriguez's recruiting strategy. and the other of which says "omg that guy wasn't even rated." Score one for group the former.
2) The Wolverines might just have a battle on their hands to keep Carvin Johnson in the class. It's always hard to turn down the hometown team. When said hometown team is 3 years removed from a national title, and Michigan is struggling through a rebuilding process, that's just all the more incentive to reconsider (except that Michigan can offer mountains of playing time).
Keep an eye on this situation, and hopefully the coaches will be able to keep Carvin blue.
PA CB commit Cullen Christian was added to the Army All-American Bowl roster last week, bringing the total number of Michigan commits to... 2. Christian joins WI P commit Will Hagerup on the East roster.
"I'm going to represent Michigan down there just like I'm going to represent Penn Hills," he said. "I'm going to go all out and try to make my team look good."
OH S Latwan Anderson and PA DT Sharrif Floyd are longshots for Michigan on the East roster.
CA S Tony Jefferson, MI CB Dior Mathis, and CA S Sean Parker are longshots for Michigan on the West roster.
In the other big All-Star contest, MI QB commit Devin Gardner is the only Wolverine selected to the ESPNU Under Armour game. No other prospects selected to that game are strongly considering Michigan at this time.
OH OL Christian Pace will enroll early, as will OH WR Jerald Robinson and MI RB Austin White (all links $, info in header). MI WR Jeremy Jackson is participating in the Hawaii-Mainland All-Star game, then enrolling early at Michigan.
CA S Sean Parker enjoyed his Michigan visit, and CA RB Lucky Radley may be considering the Wolverines. Happy trails, CA S Dietrich Riley. FL OL Torrian Wilson may be back on the table for Michigan ($, info in header). CA S Tony Jefferson and CA WR Kenny Stills will both announce on December 18. Neither is expected to pick Michigan. Latwan Anderson might be considering Michigan again.
Let's take a position-by-position look at recruits in positions that Michigan still has needs. Yes, they're mostly on defense. For reference, Michigan has 21 current commits, and there's still been no resolution as to whether they can accept more than 25 commitments.
FL OL Torrian Wilson made a surprise commit to Stanford in the summer, but now he will visit Michigan this weekend. I had long assumed his commitment to Stanford was soft, but with no recruiting news until now, I had started to change my mind. It appears as though my faith has been reaffirmed.
In case it wasn't apparent from such events as "5-7," MN OL Seantrel Henderson is no longer considering Michigan.
Thought to be out of consideration for Michigan, MI DT Johnathan Hankins (I've seen his first name spelled about a hundred different ways, with no indication as to which might be right), has finally received his Michigan offer. Despite growing up a Michigan fan, Florida is still his strong leader.
Obviously, Michigan was similarly impressed, but their prolonged evaluation process has them currently trailing in the race for the three-star prospect's services.
"Florida is ahead right now," Hankins told Scout.com. "It was a great place. The players were great and the fans were amazing. The game (against Florida State) was great too. I feel comfortable there. They said I have a chance to play because they are losing defensive tackles. I'd have a chance to start. It's all up to me. After (visiting) Florida, I didn't want to take any more visits, but I rethought that and my coaches wanted me to take all my visits."
He visits Michigan this weekend, and Michigan will have the opportunity to outdo Florida then; there's also a chance that Florida might fill up (or "fill up") before Hankins has an opportunity to commit. He plans to decide before Christmas.
The increase in Hankins interest might be due to a couple other guys falling off, as last week a small Arkansas paper reported TX DT Big Tex Beachum might be solid to Arkansas. He still has not publicly reaffirmed his Arkansas commitment, so on the board he stays. Even The Recruiting Guy's follow-up doesn't have a quote affirming his commitment. FWIW, Sam Webb posted an article on Beachum that involved the words "clears the air($)," a universal signal that the article in question directly contradicts previously-reported information. He's still in play.
Michigan has offered post-grad VA DE David Mackall ($, info in header), who originally committed to Maryland in the class of 2009.
The Wolverines are also the leader for FL DE Clarence Murphy. As Brian noted last week, Sam Webb has talked about a "gut feeling" on WTKA, which generally means a silent commitment.
The biggest possibility for Michigan in the linebacking corps is MD LB/S Josh Furman, who will announce between Michigan and Virginia Tech at the Crab Bowl on December 19.
Both schools have strong academics, both have early playing time as a possibility, and Furman has established strong relationships with both staffs. With so many similarities between the pro
grams, settling on one sounds like a daunting task, but Furman has already done it.
"The location factored into it, along with the environment and the official visit," he explained.
As implied by that quote, a decision has been made and the coaches informed for each school. The location factoring could be interpreted as a bad sign for Michigan, but he did have tons of positive things to say about Michigan following his official visit. If the coaches have been informed, Webb's "gut feeling" is unimpeachable. Furman is putting up gaudy rushing numbers in his senior season, and is a huge prospect for the Wolverines.
CA S Sean Parker still wants to take a Michigan visit. The Wolverines are in a final seven-ish also consisting of PSU, Notre Dame, UCLA, Tennessee, Washington, and USC.
Michigan leads for FL CB Tony Grimes and his teammate, DE Clarence Murphy.
Hollywood Hills defensive back Tony Grimes said he is leaning heavily toward the University of Michigan. When a decision to commit is made, Grimes said he and Hills defensive lineman Clarence Murphy will attend the same school.
"Michigan sticks out for both of us," Grimes said. "There we feel we can come in and play as true freshmen."
As noted above, the two are essentially Michigan locks, assuming the Wolverines stay on them until they announce a decision on Signing Day.
Don't expect FL CB Spencer Boyd to end up at Michigan: he's sticking with Notre Dame. [Editor's note: not so fast! Rivals threw up an image of Boyd in an article header indicating he will take an official this weekend.]
Also: Rivals AMP says Michigan is "re-emerging($)" for OH S Latwan Anderson, but kid goes to Glenville and ain't coming here.]
MI QB Devin Gardner is ready to move on to his college career, after high school ended on a down note with a 27-6 loss to Lowell in the state championship game.
"I can't mourn this,” Gardner said after the loss last Friday. “I start getting ready for my future on Monday - lifting, throwing, watching films and getting better as a quarterback so this will never happen again."
Gardner was in attendance at last night's basketball debacle, and is firm in his commitment to Michigan. He no longer plans to enroll early.
MI RB Austin White is not wavering, despite a lame internet rumor to the contrary last week.
Further commit updates, including All-State team news, will be in next week's Friday Night Lights post.
22 + 3 + er… more = er…
At this point we are operating under the assumption that Michigan can enroll no more than 25 freshmen this fall no matter how many scholarships it has open. This is unfortunate since any attrition is likely to see scholarships go unused again. It also means that Michigan has 22 commitments, three guys who are virtual commitments, zero spots left in the class, and about a dozen other guys they're still recruiting.
The conclusion is inescapable: expect attrition from the current commits. Whether it's a decommit or a gentle suggestion that maybe Player X would be better off in a situation with more opportunities for playing time, the way Michigan is recruiting suggests they're going to end up with a couple more commitments past the three expected ones. This will necessitate some current commits not signing or for Michigan to sign up to 28 with the intention of getting down to 25 by August.
Speculating about who is likely to depart in the former case is rude, but there are a couple of players who are reportedly not qualified yet and if they don't get there soon—ie, after this semester's grades are in—Michigan could be within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance you might not make it in." Your personal distaste for this sort of thing will vary. Mine is a six out of ten.
Possibilities in the latter case are grayshirting someone or expecting slight academic attrition from the incoming class. Some folks have proposed that MI WR Jeremy Jackson come in as a walk-on with a corresponding bump in Fred Jackson's pay, which is interesting, very definitely against the spirit of the rules, and possibly against the letter of them if Jackson received an official offer letter.
In any case, the next two months figure to be somewhat bumpy.
Dave Birkett of AnnArbor.com interviews a couple of recruiting experts about Michigan's class thus far. Tom Lemming seems to be a bit higher on it than Allen Wallace of Scout. Both agree that it's a solid class, but won't contend with the nation's best. Lemming is very high on Cullen Christian, and both of them really like Gardner, because he's awesome.
Cullen Christian Goes Blue
As everyone has been expecting for some time now, PA CB Cullen Christian picked the Wolverines yesterday, adding a much-needed defensive back to the class of 2010. The announcement itself had been planned for weeks, and although it took a little longer than expected, the result is unsurprising. Local article. (Christian image via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
For the record, The US Army All-American Bowl will select a player from Penn Hills next week. Christian and WR/S Brandon Ifill have both been nominated, and I'd imagine Christian is the choice as he is rated better by every recruiting service. And since there wasn't room for it yesterday, here's part 2 of Cullen's junior highlight video:
Who Will Fill the Class?
With Christian's commitment and the news that 2009 FL CB Adrian Witty will join the team this winter, there are only a few more spots available in the 2010 recruiting class. Next week's recruitin' update will be an overview-type post, but for now, let's look at a few of the guys who are still possibilities.
FL WR Kenny Shaw has narrowed his list to Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, and Florida State, with Georgia having an outside shot at him. He will announce his decision on Signing Day. [Source: ESPN, though they've apparently made it their corporate mission to not get a single inbound link, so whatever]. Florida State is still on top, but Michigan may have moved into second after an enjoyable visit ($, info in header/speculation).
CA WR Kenny Stills, one of the many visitors to the M/OSU game, will announce his final decision on December 1st. Michigan is probably on the outside in this one, but at least we'll know soon, right?
TX DT Jatashun Beachum enjoyed his Michigan visit, but it sounds as though he's unlikely to decommit from Arkansas. This is a disappointment, since it sounded before the Michigan visit like a decommitment from the Hogs was basically just a formality. Further updates coming as that situation develops.
MD LB Josh Furman has narrowed his list to two, with a decision date set ($, info in header). The narrowing is news, but he's been planning to announce at the Maryland Crab Bowl for some time, and there's been no indication of a change there. No word on the final two, but Michigan and Virginia Tech were announced as his leaders last week, so it's probably them... and Scout confirms all the information in one convenient header.
CA S Sean Parker told MGoBlog's own Tom VanHaaren that he plans to officially visit Michigan. Rivals confirms. Parker was supposed to be a heavy Notre Dame lean, but recent events are obviously concerning.
CA S/LB Tony Jefferson enjoyed his Michigan visit, but not even the afterglow is enough to move the Wolverines into his top 2. UCLA and Oklahoma are still on top for him, and he's going to "consider [Michigan] the rest of the way." Not the most promising update in the world. (Jefferson pictured at right via the Detroit News).
[Update: News article does say that "ESPN speculates he will choose the Wolverines," but that's contradicted by the direct quotes linked above and should be taken with a grain of salt.]
FL CB Tony Grimes and DE Clarence Murphy both enjoyed their visit to Ann Arbor, and I think the headline "Michigan on Top in Hollywood Hills" ($, info in header) is a pretty good indication of where the Wolverines stand with both prospects. Rivals confirms ($, info in header) for Murphy.
[your editor dips in for a moment…]
For what it's worth, on Monday's WTKA recruiting roundup, Sam Webb said he had a "gut feeling" on four players: Christian, Grimes, Murphy and Furman. For those unfamiliar, Webb's gut is the place he puts information about silent commitments. Christian has already dropped and Grimes and Murphy are a formality; if Webb is right about Furman and that potential rule change those four guys would close out the class.
Snake-Oiling The Irish?
The last time Notre Dame switched coaches, Michigan pirated away DE Jeremy Van Alstyne and CB/S Brandon Harrison from Ty Willingham's last class. Weis has been crushing Michigan's head in recruiting since he was hired. So can Michigan repeat the feat when Weis is fired two seconds after this weekend's game against Stanford ends?
Probably not. There are two kids in the class that Michigan finished second for, but FL CBs Lo Wood and Spencer Boyd are generic three-star sorts and Michigan isn't going to throw one of their generic three-star cornerbacks overboard, or pass up on Grimes, for them. Notre Dame's got a couple of good linebacker commits but they're both from North Carolina and had no interest in Michigan before they committed. Five-star CO DE Chris Martin has been a soft commitment for a while but he's had no interest in Michigan and Weis's firing isn't likely to sprout any. Michigan didn't make IN DE Blake Lueders's top five the first time he cut it down.
The only other player in Notre Dame's class who seems like even a slight possibility is IL OL Christian Lombard, but Lombard committed to Notre Dame at the Army Junior Combine and is likely a true believer who isn't even going to look around. (Side note: Lombard was a consensus five-star at that combine and Rivals now has him a meh three star. Ricardo Miller should have a "what happened to our recruiting rankings" pity party with him.)
In sum: Michigan and Notre Dame did not got head-to-head much this year and Michigan has better options at the spot where they did and ND won, so Weis's axing isn't going to be fruitful for the already-crammed recruiting class.
OH TE Alex Smith officially decommitted from Cincinnati last week, and Michigan was in the small group of schools he was still considering. Alas, he chose North Carolina yesterday, meaning his tenure on the recruiting board is over once and for all.
SC WR Nick Jones, who Michigan had offered, committed to South Carolina. Michigan was never hot on him, and I imagine he was mostly offered for leverage on Marcus Lattimore.
FL RB Demetrius Hart missed his playoff game last week because there was a controversy over whether he lived in the appropriate school district to attend Dr. Phillips.
John Magrino, Dr. Phillips athletic director, said OCPS determined Hart should sit until administrators can study allegations brought by Olympia that he lives in Pine Hills, not the DP school zone.
"He was assigned to our school from day one as a ninth grader and we’ve never had any reason to question that until today,” Magrino said.
Dr. Phillips managed to squeak out a 23-22 victory over Olympia without him, and he was cleared to hit the field against Apopka this weekend. Apparently, the mere challenge by Olympia's principal has been seen as a bush-league move. Hart is considered a heavy Michigan lean, although he wasn't able to make it to Ann Arbor for a visit last weekend.
ESPN's On The Trail (no link) reports that FL DT Tim Jernigan, who holds a Michigan offer, is only likely to consider Florida and Florida State.
Michigan has their eye on AZ QB/P Jordan Morgan. He's been invited to the Army All-American Combine in San Antonio.
Etc.: MI CB Dior Mathis is an Army All-American, along with MSU Commit Joe Boisture (which is odd, because he was so awful this year that his high school team benched him). That's an Army player each of the past four years for Cass Tech, with two picking the Wolverines (though Boubacar Cissoko didn't exactly turn out as expected). Fluff on the high school coach of GA DT Michael Thornton and LB Tyrone Cornileus. Michigan pipeline Pahokee faces an unceremonious exit from the state playoffs.
Michigan has gained a commitment from PA CB/S Cullen Christian, from Pittsburgh's Penn Hills High School. Yay and whatnot. How about we move on to the informative portion?
|4*, #3 CB||4*, #6 DB||4*, 79, #18 CB|
Christian can play either safety or corner, but he's ranked by all three sites as a corner. Scout.com's Bob Lichtenfels offers a scouting report:
Christian is a nice sized cover corner who gets better with every rep and only lacks experience at the position. He has the ability to a true lockdown corner. Right now he relies a lot on instinct, but is getting better at being aware of everything that is going on around him and jumping routes. He is tough to beat in press coverage and he will hit you. Plays very physical football and is not afraid of contact.
From the start, Christian is noted for his physical ability. As a corner, that means he's good in press coverage or in Cover-2. It can also mean he's suited to switch to safety. Rivals's report echoes the sentiment, but points out that he isn't a speedster:
Needs Improvement: Needs to improve his speed, which will help him to recover when beaten on a route. Christian will also need to add some muscle mass and strength, which will help him make solo tackles in the open field.
Most Impressive: He has hips on a swivel, excellent ball skills and the ability to steer receivers off their intended route by using his long arms as weapons. His long arms also allow him to reach around receivers and bat down balls that smaller corners couldn't even reach. Christian is very confident and does not let getting beat affect him on the next play.
ESPN has more of the same, though they're the outlier with a low ranking:
The only asset Christian is missing is great speed. He has coveted size, quickness, fluidity and savvy as a D-I corner prospect. Utilizes his long arms and frame well jamming and pressing receivers off the line. Consistently forces receivers to the outside in zone, Cover 2 schemes and takes away....
I'm not linking it because they've hidden most of their coverage behind a paywall for the express purpose of annoying me. Take that, corporate drones!
For a guy who gets a lot of talk about moving to safety from corner because of less-than elite speed, hearing that he has loose hips is encouraging. Still, after entering a college weight-training program, it's unclear how much mass he'll add to potentially become a safety. His coach gives standard coachfluff on Christian's abilities:
"He's an excellent cornerback," Graham said Thursday. "And he's a leader on and off the field. He brings leadership to a team, and he has big-play ability. He has excellent hands and is very quick. He runs excellent patterns. He's just a well-rounded athlete.''
Yay, meaningless quotes. For his part, Christian prefers CB:
• WHY ARE YOU PLAYING SAFETY THIS YEAR? Just the fact that at cornerback, the other team can take you out of the game and not throw your way. Teams didn't throw the ball to my side much last year. At safety, I can make plays.
• DO YOU LIKE SAFETY? It's OK. I don't like it better than corner. I love corner. You can show your athletic ability more at corner.
Christian had offers from a number of programs across the midwest and nationally, including Pitt, BC, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Illinois. His finalists were Michigan, West Virginia, and UCLA, and all had offered. "DB offer from Ohio State" is just as ringing an endorsement as "QB offer from USC" or "LB offer from Penn State," so knowing that he also held a Buckeye offer should be a hugely encouraging sign for Michigan fans.
High school DBs rarely have easily found stats. Christian is rarely mentioned in articles following Penn Hills games, so I assume that's a good thing (though it likely means he's not contributing a ton on offense either). If you find something, leave it in the comments.
FAKE 40 TIME
Christian's Scout profile gives him a 4.55-second mark, which is about where you'd expect for a DB. However, since every scouting report on the kids says he's not that fast for a corner, that sounds like a 1 FAKE out of 3 score. His Rivals profile says 4.68, and is combine verified. It is quite obviously not FAKE.
Christian has a long junior highlight on Youtube, uploaded by a user who calls himself "cullenchristian." Coincidence, I'm sure.
Part 2 can be found on the tubes.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Despite a widely-reported lack of great speed, the recruiting sites are still very high on Christian. This means he's probably very good at most other things. His rankings are pretty even across the different recruiting sites, which mean's he's pretty-well scouted, and probably accurately rated.
The big question is whether he ends up playing corner or safety once he gets to Michigan. He's known as a big, physical presence who doesn't have elite speed. That sounds like a future safety to me. His position, at least for year one in Ann Arbor, will depend on where JT Turner plays (and whether Donovan Warren stays for his senior season). Christian is likely to end up at the other spot, and take a redshirt year or play exclusively on special teams as a freshman.
In his second year on campus, Christian will probably play a big role in nickel packages, in addition to special teams duty. After a couple years getting acclimated to college ball, he can be a starter down the road.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan needs about a thousand DBs, so taking a highly-rated one probably won't change the way they're recruiting. It might give them the ability to be a little more selective with the guys that they do take. Tony Grimes and Rashad Knight are still realistic options, and definitely wouldn't be turned away. Any top prospect, such as Tony Jefferson, is not affected by the commitment of Christian.
Etc.: Penn Hills is also the home of D-1 prospects DT Aaron Donald (Pitt commit) and S/WR Brandon Ifill. Neither is considering Michigan at this time.
Out of Town Guests
Wow, this would be an awesome recruiting weekend if it weren't for a game in which Michigan is likely going to get taken to the woodshed (plz don't, guys). Looking at past recruiting updates, we have the following list:
- FL CB Tony Grimes
- FL DE Clarence Murphy
- CA LB Tony Jefferson (pictured at right, courtesy of the Detroit News).
- PA CB Cullen Christian
- FL RB Cassius McDowell
- FL S Rashad Knight (leaving for Ann Arbor at 6:45 AM Saturday)
- FL S Commit Marvin Robinson
- 2009 FL CB Adrian Witty
- MI CB Dior Mathis
Jefferson came in for the Sam Webb treatment in the Detroit News last week:
"They said they are in need of a player like me," Jefferson said in April after he received his Michigan offer. "They said I could play early at whatever position they think I could play -- outside linebacker, safety, or even offense. They liked my (physicality). That's what Michigan recruits."
He's a 4-star to both sites. MGo-Recruiting Guru Tom Van Haaren adds that Jefferson will not be the only California prospect in attendance. CA WR Kenny Stills will be in town along with CA Ath (and USC Commit) Dillon Baxter. Tom talked to Baxter yesterday. CA RB Brennan Clay, an Oklahoma commit and high school teammate of Tate Forcier, might also make it in. Or not.
SoFlaFootball says FL DT Richard Ash will visit for the Ohio State game as well. Ash comes from the familiar Pahokee pipeline, so Michigan might have a good chance to land him.
Add to that TX DT Jatashun "Big Tex" Beachum.
FL WR Kenny Shaw will be in the house as well. Remember, he's a former teammate of Ricardo Miller and current teammate of 2011 FL RB (and heavy Michigan lean) Demetrius Hart. Speaking of whom...
Expect a bunch of juniors as well, including Hart. Demetrius may be in the "good visit = commitment" category. 2011 OH S Ron Tanner will also be in attendance ($, info in header).
As previously discussed, GA teammates DT Michael Thornton and LB Tyrone Cornelius will take a fall visit. I wouldn't be surprised if it's for this game, though that's certainly not confirmed.
Added OH S Ray Vinopal, who has received a Michigan offer. Vinopal had been on the radar much, much earlier in the process, but it didn't seem like he'd ever receive an offer. With that offer in hand, expect a winter visit from him. Here's his highlight video, courtesy of ScoutingOhio:
I honestly don't intend to reinforce racial stereotypes, but just from the highlight film, he looks like a guy who is always in position because he plays smart, not because he has elite speed. Vinopal also looks to be a big hitter. Cardinal Mooney is a traditionally strong program, and it couldn't hurt Michigan to have an in there.
For those concerned about his low recruiting profile, it appears that Vinopal's strong senior year is drawing interest from Notre Dame, Pitt, and a number of other local BCS programs. If a couple of those inquiries are followed up with offers, it'll be clear he's a Lewan sort of late bloomer, not a reach.
Cullen Near the End
PA CB Cullen Christian, as noted above, is visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. He had also planned to visit Ohio State last weekend, but that apparently didn't happen. The Buckeyes were one of the prime challengers for his commitment, so not visiting the Buckeyes can only hurt them. He still plans to decide on November 24th, so as long as his Michigan visit doesn't go poorly, he could be the next addition to the 2010 recruiting class.
Christian has made several unofficial visits to Ann Arbor, most recently in June. He is comfortable with what the program has to offer, but wants to spend a few days around the players, coaches and students before rendering his decision.
"I want to get everyone's opinion about Michigan before I make a choice,” Christian said.
Definitely sounds like his mind is all but made up. Michigan has been eliminated from contention for his teammate, S/WR Brandon Ifill, so don't expect a package deal.
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan, who had previously named Michigan near the top of his list, has committed to UCLA. He visited the Bruins a week ago, whereafter he named them his favorite. I'd accept a trade of Olaniyan for Jefferson (a UCLA commit), if it's possible. Olaniyan's off the board.
CA CB Joshua Shaw, who I removed in the last update, picked Florida yesterday.
Permanently removed TX DT Jay Guy, who has switched his soft Cal commitment to a hard Nebraska one.
Spurned commit Holmes Onwukaife may be back in the picture for the Wolverines. Michigan and VT are the leaders for MD LB Josh Furman ($, info in header). MI QB Commit Devin Gardner isn't wavering, which is good because he does things like this. 2011 DL Donte Phillips was "wowed" by his Michigan visit a couple weeks ago ($, info in header). OH TE Alex Smith has parted ways with Cincinnati. He'll make a final decision within a couple weeks.