I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
Back in the day, Brian Stouffer—yes, one of the puppet geniuses—and I had an annual GChat conversation that invariably took bizarre turns towards luchadores and sea mammals that incidentally discussed the looming game of the century of the week. I'm happy to report that we have resurrected this tradition, possibly made it even weirder.
Well, I guess we should start with the looming subplot everyone's been talking about all week: Jameis Winston.
Let's just talk the whole time about him.
I think we should also talk about how Mack Brown did not recruit him. I certainly hope Michigan's coaches check with each and every QB prospect they recruit about this.
"Son, does Mack Brown have any idea who you are?"
"We would like to offer you a scholarship, son."
"I have never played football."
I think I am literally the only human being alive who both did not get a scholarship offer from Mack Brown and did not become a megasuccessful quarterback.
Johnny Unitas, Vince Young, Barry Sanders, and John Flansburgh are amongst the many incredibly successful quarterbacks Mack Brown ignored.
I was in fact offered two scholarships to play quarterback at Texas.
That makes sense, since I saw you separate your shoulder throwing a ping pong ball at a tailgate a few years ago.
Right. Anyway. This is going to be over soon. How are you feeling about this?
This game or this chat?
I don't think we've got enough content for the chat yet.
I dunno, Courier New, 14 point, 2 inch margins. Let's turn it in and hit happy hour.
We can watch my DVD of the classic 1973 ND-Michigan game. Mark May said it was the best of the whole series.
The internet doesn't have margins. We'll have to soldier on, even if I want to fire up the 1968 classic in which Kirk Gibson hits a walk-off home run to send the game to a shootout.
Rob Ufert's call of Kork Gorbson's game-tying walk-off digeridomer was perhaps the best Michigan Manment of all time. Of all time!
Man I love imaginary games. Although I think we can all agree that the best one was the Christmas Day Notre Dame-USC game that the security guard at Nakatomi Plaza was watching.
All of our games are about to be imaginary. We'll have to hop on Google Chat in 2015 and say "I killed your quarterback" / "nuh-uh, he's got a force field" / "my defense has a force field disruptor" / "Well, my defense oversigns"—RECORD SCRATTTTTCH
"Well I'll be, your downfield throwing field-adjusted VORP is higher than ours. I concede you have the superior side. And nobody had to get hurt in the process!"
But hey isn't it better that we work out our differences with words instead of violence and tackling?
I think you know the answer to that is "hell no."
[AFTER THE JUMP: things cease being strange. lol jk]
Number one breakout. ESPN's Travis Haney compiled a list of 50 breakout players for the upcoming season based on "a lot of input from coaches" and your new favorite quarterback is #1:
“I recruited him,” said one of the Big Ten coaches who played against Gardner late last year. “I know how good he can be. I would say I have been looking forward to him getting his chance, because he’s a really good kid, but they’re on the schedule again this year.”
Frank Clark also features at #35.
Swag. We are totally losing Michael Ferns to Mississippi State, you guys.
Following up on earlier assertion. I mentioned in passing in a previous post that I felt Bill Connolly was way underrating LeVeon Bell and way overrating Michigan State's offensive line in his Spartan preview for the year, and as I was looking up various things about Derrick Green I came across a stunning stat on Bell:
Le'Veon Bell gained 921 yards after contact in 2012, most among players from AQ schools. Bell gained more than 50 percent of his yards after contact and averaged 2.4 yards after contact per rush.
Bell got 2.3 yards before contact and 2.4 after. That is a man doing work to clean up for a terrible offensive line. And quarterback: Bell's 382 carries led the nation by 26.
Countdowns to kickoff. Taylor Lewan:
Lewan is a thousand times more boring than he used to be. Leadership!
Also Quinton Washington and Jeremy Gallon. True story: bought a chair at Art Van this summer, marveled at the size of the guy they had hauling stuff around, realized that I knew who this was: Quinton Washington. Woo minimum wage, for one more year.
Also, the first day of practice:
Derrick Green's first carry went for 50 yards and birthed a unicorn.
Wide receivers block, then they receive. In-depth ESPN article on the blocking aspects of playing out wide comes highly recommended for interesting quotes and such. Minnesota safety Brock Vereen is either worried about his knees or an expert at backhanded compliments:
“They act as if they are more excited to block than they are to catch a pass,” Minnesota safety Brock Vereen said. “Sadly, I’m not even exaggerating.”
Michigan's dumped cut blocking for a lot of reasons, but the primary one is the fact that defensive backs just get up too darn fast these days:
“They are like those Weeble Wobbles that you had growing up,” Hecklinski said. “You can throw a great cut and he’s right back up making a play and golly, that’s a great cut."
"Golly," says the man eating everyone's lunch on the recruiting trail. #TheMichiganDifference.
The article gestures at one of the main reasons Michigan's wide receivers were so pumped up to block: with Denard Robinson on your team, any play could be a 20 yard run you fail to turn into 80, and then your ass is roasted. Hopefully they maintain the same urgency as Michigan moves to a system more likely to get you five (after contact, and by "contact" I mean "safety murder") than 50.
Hoke advocates earlier official visits. Makes sense, will never happen for the same reason a baseball season that makes sense will never happen:
“Having an official visit date in June would help football,” Hoke stated. “I know some of our friends in the Pac 12 and the SEC probably don’t want the young man and his family coming up to Michigan during the first two weeks in June, because they’re hoping it’s 10 below zero when those official visits take place.”
A rather large win. Wolverine Historian puts up the '95 Minnesota game:
Mack Brown offer letter. I just find this interesting. It's an official offer letter from Mack Brown to a guy named Lorenzo:
- The first bullet is basically Michigan's much-discussed and much-misunderstood "policy" about commits taking visits: you are committed if you are not taking visits, and if you visit elsewhere Michigan will not consider you committed. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll pull your scholarship offer, but your spot is no longer reserved and they may recruit someone else or just reconfigure their class. Why recruiting sites, opposing fans, and Michigan fans keep going on and on about it is a mystery to me.
- Texas is explicitly offering four year scholarships, and seems to state that a fifth year is also guaranteed… but I think the fine print there means the firm handshake is still an option if the Head Coach wants it to be.
- The pointlessness of the rule where players cannot get written offers before August 1st of their senior year is brought home in the first paragraph: Texas is "pleased to reconfirm our commitment to the football athletic scholarship you committed to earlier this year." The lack of written offers has led to the rise of the incredibly annoying "uncommittable offer" and prevents players from getting the exact stipulations of their scholarship offer in writing until long after many of them have committed. And it obviously does nothing to slow down the pace of recruiting.
The only way to slow down the pace of recruiting, by the way, is to let kids sign whenever they want. Eighth grader offers will come to a screeching halt, for real.
SBNation has a roundup of offer letters from around the country, featuring Comic Sans from Virginia Tech, "formally" spectacularly misspelled as "formerly" by Virginia, and Illinois claiming that those who attend there will play "championship football." That latter might be true if in fact the Big Ten has been relegated to the second level of English soccer. Which it probably has after last year. We done got relegated you guys.
Quite a rise. Four Michigan players make the final roster at the USA World Juniors evaluation camp: JT Compher, Tyler Motte, Boo Nieves… and Andrew Copp. I think 14 of the 18 forwards on the roster will be on the WJC team, so Copp's gone from JJ Swistak But Big to a guy with a very good chance of making the WJC team in 12 months. Wow.
Amen. Hoke on ND:
"I do not like the fact it's going away," Hoke said.
Asked who is a fault for all this, Hoke responded simply: "We would like to continue the series."
Realignment has replaced the ND game and games against Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Northwestern with Rutgers and Maryland.
Etc.: Harmon Of Michigan's theme song is a "Hollywood-style rendition of the Victors," and MVictors has it. Michigan Hockey Net posts the famous 2002 Denver-Michigan West Regional Final at Yost. Michigan players on the O'Bannon case.
Moved OH DE Jibreel Black to offered.
Added PA DT Sharif Floyd, MD LB Josh Furman, FL CB Spencer Boyd, OH WR DJ Williamson, MD RB Zach Zwinak, MD OL Robbie Havenstein.
Editorial Opinion: Hey, kids. First Tuesday Recruitin' of the 2010 year. A primer on Michigan's 2010 recruiting class was deployed a couple weeks ago and is still basically accurate. There hasn't been a huge amount of movement since except for a steady stream of offers going out. However, a couple new names you might want to keep an eye on:
TX LB Caleb Lavey. You might have noticed the "TX" next to his name and have decided to ignore this paragraph since even if he commits he'll just decommit or transfer after a year, but Lavey is the son of one of Bo's equipment managers($)… his family is kind of pro-Michigan. A little. Lavey has an impressive array of Big 12 offers highlighted by Oklahoma and has just gotten a Michigan offer. He's a middle linebacker all the way—a spot at which Michigan took no recruits last year—and this looks like an excellent match.
OH WR DJ Williamson. Yes, another receiver. Williamson is from Warren Harding in Ohio, the school that sent Mario Manningham, Carl Diggs, and Prescott Burgess to Michigan, and Scout's got a headline asking if M is on the verge of a fourth commitment that namechecks Harding: Williamson is the most prominent player there in 2010, and MGoHeuristic #2 states that "questions asked in premium post titles are always answered 'yes' in the article."
This uncommonly useful Buckeye Planet thread has a ton of posts from Worm02, a frequent poster there and elsewhere whenever Harding comes up—he's got some connection with the program. As of about a year ago, one of the Bucknuts guys ranked him the #10 player in the state; if accurate, that definitely lands him a fourth star.
What are they going to do with all these receivers? Well, defy the conventional wisdom that Michigan would never be able to reel in top-level wideouts, for one. And for two, probably move at least one to defensive back.
Various Other People You Do Not Need To Get To Know So Well Yet
Offers out to a bunch of guys who are just names so far: OH DE Jibreel Black, MD LB Josh Furman and awesomely named RB Zach Zwinak, PA DT Sharif Floyd, FL DE Delvin Jones, CA S Sean Parker, FL CB Spencer Boyd, FL LB Christian Jones, PA LB Aramide Olayanian (one of two guys with the last name Olayanian that Michigan's after), PA QB Anthony Gonzalez, and so forth and so on.
Furman sounds like a good possibility:
At close to 6-foot-2 and a chiseled 186 pounds, Furman has a very long muscular frame that hints of great physical upside, so it's more likely that this running back will play outside linebacker (or a hybrid safety position) in college. On film, he plays faster than his 40-yard dash time (4.7 seconds), making plays from sideline to sideline and flashing good range and equally impressive chase speed from the backside.
The Maryland native told us that it doesn't matter where he'll end up playing at the next level. He has received offers from Maryland, West Virginia, Vanderbilt, Pitt, Duke, UNC and Michigan. Furman posted a top-three SPARQ rating led by a striking vertical jump of 38 inches and displayed his great explosiveness. He told us the Michigan offer "was really big," and he hopes for others from similar prominent programs.
"I'm looking for a big, prestigious school and a nice college atmosphere," he said.
Tentative leader at least until some other prominent programs get involved? Sounds like it.
GA RB Mack Brown is a big, pounding sort who's going to be a national recruit. Michigan has his interest:
“They want me to come up there to the spring game in April,” said Brown, who said former Michigan star Mike Hart is one of his favorite running backs of all-time. “I like them a lot, but I also really like Georgia and Florida [both have offered].”
Keep an eye peeled on him, and the other Brandon Minor-esque backs Michigan is pursuing this year. There are some mighty-mites mixed in but the bulk of the offers have gone out to men who run like angry moose, men who scatter the local villagers every time they get up to full rumble. He wants #33, which Michigan can give him since the guy currently in possession of it, Boubacar Cissoko, plays defense.
“I was pretty excited and had no clue they were going to offer,” Clay remarked. “There are plenty of other running backs out there with great caliber, I was just fortunate to be among the people they pulled the trigger for. … Bar none, Michigan is high and they'll always be in the top (group)," Clay said. "I know this year they were kind of down, but I have faith in them and feel they'll be back on the map next year."
When in doubt go with the statement to a neutral third party; I'm still skeptical on Michigan's chances until Clay says something specific other than "Michigan is in fifth." They'll get an opportunity to move up: Clay plans on getting up for the spring game.
PA CB Cullen Christian, who Michigan leads for, did well at a combine:
One of the top names heading into the event was Penn Hills cornerback Cullen Christian, who is already approaching 10 scholarship offers and did nothing to diminish his rising star Saturday. He posted outstanding marks of 39.3 inches in the vertical jump and 4.25 seconds in the shuttle on the way to a 102.57 SPARQ rating.
Hooray 102.57 SPARQ rating!
…is Friday, Michigan's "night of champions" wherein the various groups of players come together and compete in various citizenship/grades/amount of vomit Barwis collected from you contests. I think there's an egg-eating thing, too. Anyway, many local players will be up. Various big names in attendance:
Among the in-state prospects who've stated they plan to attend are Detroit Southeastern defensive end William Gholston, Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Dior Mathis, Inkster quarterback Devin Gardner, Warren Fitzgerald linebacker Austin Gray, Charlevoix offensive lineman Bill Ivan and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s quarterback Robert Bolden. …
Spartanburg, S.C., quarterback Cornelius Jones (6-2, 197 pounds) is one of those who is trying to work out a trip to Ann Arbor for the event. He was offered by U-M in January. Flower Mound (Tex.) Marcus running back Stephen Hopkins (6-0, 220) has also said he wants to visit Michigan that weekend. Hopkins was just offered a scholarship last week by the Wolverines.
Sounds like DJ Williamson will likely commit at the event; sometimes you'll get a two or three dropping as Michigan takes the opportunity to offer a number of kids.