somehow we're only 124th
First we talked coaches, and now onto the players themselves.
- Shaw is hoping that he will be able to stay fully healthy this year. He has his burst back, and he just needs to get his confidence going full blast again.
- "I'm kinda favoring it [the injury]. My confidence is returning, and I just can't let up in rehab."
- The indication that there was something truly wrong was the Minnesota game. He was caught from behind for the first time in his career - "and I've been playing football since I was 7 years old" - and his dad called and said there must be something more serious wrong with him.
- The team had lots to prove in the offseason, and they took their workouts to a whole new level to prove it.
- Grady will play both fullback and tailback "whatever position helps the team win." Being able to play multiple positions gives the team more personnel versatility.
- "I haven't played with my brother since I was a sophomore [in high school], so it should be pretty cool."
- As defending the spread goes, it's the more experienced defensive teams that are best at trying to shut them down.
- Mathews isn't sure whether the spread offense will best help prepare him for the NFL. "I still have my old playbook, so I can always look at that." If anything, he says playing in multiple offenses over his career might help make him a better all-around receiver.
- Different offenses (such as the spread) work well in college, which is what makes the college game more fun to watch. However, in the NFL, there are so many good athletes on defense that it's difficult for these offenses to succeed.
- He has only been in Ann Arbor a little over two weeks, though he participated in voluntary workouts over the summer. It was frustrating to wait at home and miss the first week of practice, especially because he needed to get going on the adjustment to college ball.
- Turner grew up a Michigan fan (and took grief from Ohio State fans once he committed to the Wolverines), and he has some family in the area, so if he feels homesick, they're only 20 minutes away.
- Charles Woodson was the reason that Turner liked Michigan as a child, and he was happy to get the #2 jersey to honor his idol. Though he hasn't met Woodson, his eyes lit up when told that he would probably have the opportunity. "Today?" Sorry, it will have to wait until the season.
- Koger will be used as a true TE, flexed out wide, and this year, they're adding in some packages as an H-Back.
- In terms of catching passes, his use won't be too different from last year - though hopefully he'll see more passes thrown his way: "If I'm open, I'll get the ball."
- He's looking forward to spending a year healthy. The wrist injury plagued him all last year - even after he made his breakthrough later in the season.
- It was a relief to break out against Penn State, but not too big because he was expecting to do it eventually. That doesn't mean he was too frustrated with his performance leading up to the game, though. He's forgotten about all of the struggles last year (both individual and team) and looking forward to this year.
- He doesn't care if splitting carries reduces his time in the spotlight, saying "I'll take them as they come. Whatever helps us win."
Don't forget about Paul's media day photo gallery, either. It features Michigan QBs holding hands, and should not be missed.
Very Web 2.5 way to find this out but here you go via the twitters:
RT: @umhoops: RT @mikerothstein: RR: minor didn't practice, headache. Turner cleared. #michigan
Waiting on Witty now.
Also, Helmuth and Evans "may look to transfer" and did not practice today, which would be further blows to defensive depth, albeit ones that weren't looking to play unless there were no other options.
UPDATE: The Free Press is reporting that Evans and Helmuth are transferring:
“Good young men,” he said. “Sometimes that happens, guys think maybe I can (play elsewhere), I’m not getting a lot of reps and not up on the depth chart or something. I try to remind the guys the depth chart is not going to be solid until the first week.”
Also, Teric Jones has moved to cornerback.
Initial takes on that: once Helmuth moved from FB his chances of ever seeing the field without injury Armageddon were very low. Evans started the first game last year but was immediately displaced; neither were touted recruits and if the defense wasn't already very short on bodies it would be No Big Deal. But it is, and wow the number of scholarship players on D is vanishingly small. Jones' move, then, is a very good idea.
UPDATE UPDATE: News is saying "may"; next presser we'll be at so this interpretation dance won't be an issue:
Michigan's football team could be down two more players.
Junior linebacker Marell Evans and junior defensive tackle Vince Helmuth have asked to look in to playing at other programs, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed on Wednesday.
Er. Rich Rodriguez called into WTKA this morning and dropped one important bit of news: Justin Turner and Adrian Witty are not cleared yet. Which… uh… directly contradicts multiple statements from Rodriguez himself—or at least directly contradicts how those statements were reported—from Big Ten Media Days.
A transcription of the answer to the question "All the freshmen are ready to go, right?"
Not exactly. We've still got a couple that are working through clearinghouse issues. This recently came up. Just about all of them were here for the summer with the exception of a couple guys, and those two are still not resolved. We're still waiting on Justin Turner to get some information in. We're hoping that will be before Sunday. [Garbled] within a week. The other one is Adrian Witty, who's got a test score we're still waiting on. So he's kind of in limbo right now. … Hopefully either one or both of them will get resolved very quickly.
If it happens [later in camp] we'll bring them in a week later.
So it sounds like Turner's thing is just paperwork. Witty, on the other hand, is still waiting for a qualifying score and might not make it in.
As you can tell from the message board, Justin Turner has proven the opposability of his thumbs and passed the Ohio MEAP equivalent. The epinion purveyors at Go Blue Michigan Wolverine were out front on this one, so congrats to them for breaking it.
That resolves the last eligibility question in Michigan's 2009 class; all have made it to campus. Divers alarums.
Heismans past. College Football Live is going state-by-state and, I don't know, talking to people or something. It's the privilege of the internet that I don't have to watch College Football Live and find out about their latest programming initiative. Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard were the featured people when it came to Michigan. Here is their talking:
Reports from people who watched this say it seemed designed to blow a blood vessel in Mark Dantonio's head, BTW.
I do not know how alarmed you should be, but it appears the amount of alarm should, sadly, be nonzero. Incoming mega-recruit Justin Turner did not walk at his graduation because of what appears to be an inability to pass some statewide Ohio standardized test. Here's a really dumb thread on a Massillon message board about it. It's uncertain whether this would prevent him from enrolling at Michigan, as from other reports he's comfortably qualified, and it's also uncertain how an apparently-qualified person could not pass a test on which the questions were probably like so:
water : wet :: water :
C. noodly appendage
D. I hate Michigan
Unless, that is, he picked A when the right answer was D. Apparently there are further opportunities to take this thing and get it done, if it's an actual barrier to his entry. FWIW, Varsity Blue says Sam Webb says* this is a minor thing unlikely to be an issue:
Webb was not particularly pessimistic about Turner’s ability to still get into school, as he’s a pretty good student who’s already met the NCAA Clearinghouse’s requirements for eligibility, except the no high school diploma thing. There are alternative methods to diploma eligbility, and given Turner’s academic reputation, most don’t foresee him having difficulty there.
It's out there, but I wouldn't get too exercised about it. I'm more concerned about Fitzgerald Toussaint's status.
*(There's been significant backlash against GBMW on this, and while I agree they could use some serious writing lessons, I don't see how reporting something obvious like "Justin Turner didn't walk at graduation" is a big deal. Both premium sites had moderators address the issue before GBMW did and, while they like to hide behind the idea that what's behind the paywall is super secret just-between-us stuff, any information there is instantly transmitted to free message boards across the internet and thereby into the fan consciousness. Also: kid didn't walk at graduation; this is not a secret.)
Buryin'. If there's one lead guaranteed to be buried it's "here's this important rule change," which is inevitably preceded by 300 words about some director of officials who's very sorry about everything but has to ask you to go to hell. And it is so after the Big Ten meetings produced a couple notable changes:
A new rule states that once [rugby] punters are outside the pocket, the defense will not be penalized for running into them or roughing them. The rugby-style punters previously had the advantage of waiting until the last minute to choose whether to punt, run or pass and still draw penalties on the defense. "The defensive team never knew what to do because they didn't want to rough them," Carollo said.
This seems fraught with logistical issues. How is this mystical ability of a punter different from that of a quarterback? Can a punter now roll out, pull up to pass, chuck the ball, and get leveled way late?
Offensive linemen also will be allowed to move up to three yards down the field without being penalized.
I'm somewhat confused here; this sentence follows the previous paragraph immediately and either means 1) a slight change to punting rules or 2) a significant relaxing of prohibitions against linemen downfield. I'm betting it's 1.
Rose Bowlin'. The Rose Bowl is obligated to take a scrub team in the event that 1) A Big Ten or Pac-10 team is yanked into the NC game and 2) a scrub team ends up automatically qualified by finishing in the top 12. That's a somewhat unlikely confluence of events there, and even if it happens it will only happen once:
"It's only going to happen once if it happens at all," Hancock said.
And that's just a totally redundant blockquote but that's life. Totally redundant blockquotes.
Anyway: this places the change even more squarely into the realm of don't-sue-us CYA. The likely effect, if there even is one, is to replace the second-place Pac-10 team with a Utah or a Boise or whatever, which would be a wash in hypothetical opponent strength.
I don't get it, either. Earlier this year I touched on the ongoing Kiffin fiasco, and resolved that this could so either way, with the two ways being "John L Smith" and "Steve Spurrier." A couple months, a couple more inane secondary violations/diarrhea of the mouth incidents, and I've been pushed over the edge: I just think Kiffin is an idiot. I wasn't going to say anything until Get The Picture eloquently summarized the nagging problem I had with the recent spate of MSM articles which had "no, srsly, Lane Kiffin knows what he's doing" as their idiotically contrarian thesis:
If this is such a great approach to resurrecting a national powerhouse, how come the first guy to think of it is a 33-year old whose prior stop as a head coach was a miserable failure?
I just don't buy Kiffin's latest posture. Claiming "no, seriously guys, I meant to do it" is the last refuge of a guy caught with his hand in the idiot jar. True cleverness—see OBC—is apparent. Even if this supposed gambit works in the short run, in the long run Tennessee is going to be seriously hampered by their head coach's lack of intelligence. When the biggest accomplishment you can point to is locking down your hot wife, you have issues.
Oregon State's going to be pissed. So the SEC put an end to this ridiculous oversigning business after Houston Nutt pushed it past its logical extreme, adopting the same policy the Big Ten has by limiting LOIs to 28. They're going to attempt to make this a national policy, and the initial returns are good:
One Big 12 assistant who asked to remain anonymous said he hopes this will push the NCAA to make it a rule throughout Division I football. … "Generally when the SEC makes a push for changes in recruiting, things happen on the NCAA level. So there are a lot of us who believe that this will eventually become something everybody will have to follow, and I think that's a good thing."
Etc.: Daily continues murdering Detroit papers, this time landing an extensive interview with Toney Clemons. Oregon's rushing attack—which you may remember cowering from—in coachy detail. NCAA 10… worth buying? Michigan had "no chance" in '97 according to Corso. Patrick Lucas-Perry is rapidly developing into a major target.
Update 1/19: Linked articles on FL QB Denard Robinson, SC DE Sam Montgomery (another, another), OH OL Marcus Hall, LA DT Dequinta Jones (another), LA WR Travante Stallworth, SC OL Quinton Washington, PA WR Je'Ron Stokes.
Removed LA WR Kenny Bell (once again solid to LSU), FL DE Alex Williams (we out), FL CB Jayron Hosley(dropped by M), NC OL Travis Bond (UNC), AL LB Tana Patrick (dropped us), MS S Dennis Thames (MSST), FL LB Mike Marry (not visiting). Added LA QB Brandon Mitchell, then immediately removed him because he committed to Arkansas. Thanks for nothing, buddy! (omg jk)
2010 stuff: FL CB Lo Wood has an offer, as reported by TomVH, and looks like a good bet to commit on an upcoming unofficial.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
Many, many guys go off the board this week and a few of them hurt:
- MS S Dennis Thames failed to escape the mighty gravitational pull of the Black Hole of Starkville.
- NC OL Travis Bond decided to cram into North Carolina's phone booth.
- FL CB Jayron Hosley, well…
Okay, on Hosley. He visits USF, says he's basically going to USF, and now isn't even visiting. The reason is odd:
It appears Michigan and Ohio State have told Hosley they are full at cornerback, and no longer have room for him in their respective classes.
That could be cover. Michigan might not want to bother paying for a visit for a guy who's all but stated he's going to South Florida. But OH CB Mike Williams of Glenville apparently doesn't have a M offer, either. What? Michigan's got one excellent corner in each of the last three classes but these days you need four or five competent corners to deal with four- and five-wide offenses. Corner is definitely not full, but M is acting like it.
If they've got silent commits from FL CB Adrian Witty and FL QB/ATH/CB Denard Robinson, okay, they're full. But, uh… AFAIK most think Robinson is still ticketed for Florida. I don't get this.
Rivals has put out their final rankings for the year, and with them comes the usual celebration and rage. A summary:
Campbell and Lewan were basically static; Schofield, Forcier, Gordon, and Toussaint all fell about ten spots because they didn't participate in all-star games. (They didn't necessarily get downgraded, but several players were impressive and flew up the board, necessitating small drops for those who would otherwise remain in place.
Those changes are basically in line with expectations, if a little less enthusiastic than Michigan fans might like. Turner's leap up the board is the most impressive move, as that's rarefied air he's approaching. He's two spots away from five stars.
Slightly disappointing: OH LB Isaiah Bell didn't get that fourth star we thought he might after showing well at the UA game.
It's hard to call either LA DT DeQuinta Jones or OK DT Pearlie Graves commitments anymore given what they've been doing lately: taking visits and talking up other schools. Jones stopped in at Auburn last weekend and now lists Arkansas, Auburn, and Oklahoma along with Michigan. Jones visits Michigan on the last recruiting weekend, so they've got a chance to re-sell him. But, uh:
"It [the trip to Arkansas] exceeded my expectations," said Jones, 6-4, 302, 4.9, who orally committed to Michigan last summer. "The weight room was 110 yards long; it was fantastic. I liked the stadium and the academic center. I loved everything."
"I might wait until signing day and surprise a lot of people." Jones said.
This is not much of a commitment.
Also Wavering, But Wavering For Justice!
Michigan is no stranger to the recruit piracy game, of course, and they're taking shots at a number of receivers who are technically committed elsewhere. One is LA WR Travante Stallworth, the military kid who's still committed to Auburn but open to a couple other schools. He took a visit to M two weeks ago and last week it was South Carolina's turn:
"My trip to South Carolina went well," Stallworth said. "I spent a lot of time with Coach (Steve) Spurrier and his son, who is the offensive coordinator. They want me to come in and replace Kenny McKinley, who was their all-time leading receiver there. They told me I could play the slot and get the ball on screens and use my speed."
Compare that to his quote on Michigan from the same article…
"At Michigan, it was different than any other college campus I've ever been to," he continued. "They have outstanding facilities and the academics are top of the line. Coach (Rich) Rodriguez wants me to come in as a slot receiver and even said I could try quarterback. If it didn't work out, I could switch to receiver. They just want to get the ball in my hands in the open field."
…and it sounds like South Carolina isn't the choice. Auburn is a more significant hurdle than they were before, though, with the hiring of Gus Malzahn, and will get a shot at convincing him to stick next weekend. That's his last visit.
Another is PA WR Je'Ron Stokes, a nominal Tennessee commit also considering Michigan, Illinois, and maybe Penn State. He visited Michigan this weekend. Quote:
"It went good," Stokes said. "It was definitely a fun trip. I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't been to Ann Arbor or Michigan. I got all my questions answered."
Then parse this one closely:
"After Tennessee I don't know who would be next," Stokes said when asked who his second choice is. "It is between Illinois, Michigan, Penn State and Georgia. I'll announce on signing day at my school. I want to do it around noon."
Given Stokes' earlier comments about Tennessee I think that's more a "…but I'm still committed" statement than a real claim that UT is most likely to sign him.
FL WR Willie Haulstead is committed to Florida State but took a Michigan visit and may end up signing with Michigan; Helmholdt says Michigan is still "very much in contention," continuing a recent trend of vague optimism in his recruitment.
Haulstead's commitment may not be honored by Florida State for an unpleasant reason (at least for Seminole fans): increased scholarship reduction stemming from the department-wide cheating scandal that engulfed Florida State before their bowl game last year. Tomahawk Nation and Scott Carter theorize thusly:
AC would not be surprised to see the scholarship losses double from 5 over 2 years to 10 or so over 3 years.
We told you about this last week. Carter and I probably share similar sources on this, though I can't be sure. As previously reported, Carter and I agree on the certainty of increased scholarship reductions.
(IMO, Florida State would be within their rights here to pull an offer from Haulstead since his "commitment" is obviously not that strong and he took a visit elsewhere; this would be something different than South Carolina yanking an offer from an already-committed player.)
Florida State's already got two other wide receiver commits in the class, and before Willie Downs lit up the Army game as a cornerback most also considered him a wideout. WR would be an obvious place from which to cut.
Okay, so Bond is gone and two major targets remain on the line.
OH OL Marcus Hall of Glenville made quite a ruckus when he visited Michigan after months of waffling and then named M his leader. I'm still not quite sure how to take it, but I think this from longtime Ohio State insider-type guy Unionfutura is about right:
The biggest problem is he already took his visit to OSU, to me all this means when Marcus hits the south on his recruiting swing those teams will trash Michigan more. I still think he'll end up a buckeye. We'll know more after the Miami trip. If Michigan's still his leader after Miami then we're in trouble.
Co-sign from the opposite perpsective.
SC OL Quinton Washington also visited South Carolina this weekend. The resulting quote:
Washington has been strong on USC for several months.
“I can’t say they’re No. 1, but they will be in my top group when I finish my visits,” Washington said. “I really do like it. It’s just a great place to be.”
South Carolina is presumed to be the top competition for the quiet Washington; I don't think that provides any illumination either way.
SC DE Sam Montgomery visited North Carolina—still inexplicably not full—this weekend. His mom provides a quote:
"We're still taking visits and he has not make a commitment,' Mrs. Montgomery said. "We were very impressed with the Carolina business school and facilities. We enjoyed spending time with coach Davis and coach Blake. Everybody was friendly and very enjoyable. The accomodations were first rate."
That's not "two steps ahead of everyone else" but it's also not the loquacious Montgomery. The quote from mama Montgomery does highlight one tough thing to overcome for Michigan: she did not come on the trip to Ann Arbor. Montgomery has a busy week ahead, with LSU on the weekend, a midweek trip to Oregon, and a final visit to Tennessee.
Etc.: LA LB Barkevious Mingo visits LSU, doesn't say much, still presumed to be Tiger lock.