and... i like them? I think I like them.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Elite 11 and NFTC camps in Columbus, Ty Isaac officially narrowing his field to three, new offers for 2013 and 2014, and more.
Commits Excel in Columbus
Shane Morris, equally adept at deep bombs and photobombs (via)
It was a busy weekend for Michigan commits, as Columbus hosted an Elite 11 regional on Friday followed by a Nike Football Training Camp on Saturday. Shane Morris bounced back from a lackluster performance in April's Dallas Elite 11 regional, taking home MVP honors in the Columbus edition and earning himself a spot in July's Elite 11 finals, which take place in Los Angeles. Morris beat out a field that included Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire, Ohio State commit Jalin Marshall (who will likely play receiver in college), Northwestern commit Matt Alviti, and Purdue commit Danny Etling. Here's 247's Barton Simmons on Morris's performance:
1. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle – Good luck trying to pin a fear of competing on Shane Morris. Despite his lofty ranking and his early commitment to Michigan, Morris is at seemingly every event he can get to, eager to prove himself. On Friday he did just. He can put loads of velocity on the ball without digging deep, he showed great accuracy throughout the day and he has a smooth and natural composure in the pocket. Morris’ performance earned him an invite to the Elite 11 finals this summer.
“Over the past couple weeks Morris has been preparing to show he has more than just the big arm, and he proved that on Friday,” said Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt. “The opposite of overthrowing is trying to aim the ball, but Morris showed improved accuracy and spun the ball better while varying his speeds and trajectory.”
Michigan's star quarterback recruit wasn't the only commit to earn MVP honors over the weekend, however, as David Dawson (OL MVP) and Mike McCray (LB MVP) took home hardware from the NFTC. In fact, Michigan and Ohio State pledges dominated Saturday's event—of the seven players to earn invites to The Opening in Oregon, all were either future Wolverines (Dawson, McCray, Morris, and Taco Charlton) or Buckeyes (Marshall, Cam Burrows, and Billy Price).
Dawson in particular drew rave reviews, earning top weekend performer honors from 247's Simmons...
1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech – There were Michigan commits out in droves on Saturday, all wearing their Wolverine gear and waving the flag in Ohio State country but none represented quite as well as David Dawson.
A player with good length, Dawson showed good athleticism as an edge protector in one-on-ones but really separated himself with his finisher’s mentality. Dawson really fought to win his reps in one-on-ones and many of those reps he won with authority.
...and Rivals's Helmholdt ($):
Dawson capped off his MVP performance on Saturday by stoning defensive line MVP Billy Price in the final offensive line/defensive line one-on-one. Dawson has been dominant throughout the off-season, but this may have been his best performance to date. He was moving his feet better than in events past, and he channeled his mean streak well, even if he went past the whistle on a few plays. Dawson ended up with more pancakes than any other lineman we saw in the one-on-ones and physically manhandled the majority of defenders he faced.
Dawson also made Scout's Bob Lichtenfels's top ten list($) along with Morris. You can see footage of Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, and Charlton from the one-on-one blocking drills below, courtesy of Rivals:
Dawson's mean streak is on full display, as is Charlton's speed, though he also gets stuffed on one rep when the speed rush doesn't work out. You may notice that Tuley-Tillman looks a little ponderous and out of shape—he's been battling a shoulder injury that's hampered his conditioning and essentially forced him to block with one arm, so don't get too concerned.
Helmholdt listed Charlton as his #5 lineman at the NFTC, saying "offensive linemen could not handle Charlton's speed, but he also surprised them with his strength, even knocking Kyle Meadows backward on one rep." Meanwhile, Tim Sullivan provides evaluations for Mike McCray ($)...
McCray's ability to cover running backs out of the backfield had previously been considered a question mark, but it's one that he answered emphatically on Saturday. He was able to go stride-for-stride with all but the quickest tailbacks there, and showed the ability to not only blanket a receiver, but make plays on the ball as well. In edge-rush drills, he showed the ability to overpower running backs and tight ends, but also a quickness to go around them that's uncommon in a player his size.
...and Khalid Hill:
Hill impressed again on Saturday, with more athleticism than he's given credit for at times, precise routes, and as always, very good hands. He developed a nice chemistry with some of the quarterbacks in attendance, and although tight ends didn't get the ball much, he made the most of the opportunities presented to him.
Overall, it was quite a weekend for the Wolverine contingent in Columbus; Morris may have locked down five-star status, while Dawson and Charlton look poised to move up when the recruiting services update their rankings.
Speaking of which, Scout unveiled their initial 2013 team rankings, and it comes as no surprise that Michigan holds down the top spot, the first time that a school other than Texas has ranked #1 in Scout's initial release. Ohio State is at #4, Notre Dame #5, Penn State #12, Nebraska #17, and Michigan State rounds out the list at #20.
Isaac Down to Three, More 2013 News
Josh Helmholdt caught up with IL RB Ty Isaac after his latest trip to USC, and while this has been presumed for a long time, Isaac has trimmed his list to three schools ($):
"Right now, it's Michigan, USC and Notre Dame," Isaac said. "Among that group some are ahead of others, but I think it's down to them. Hopefully I can get this thing knocked out soon.
"If all goes well and nothing else comes up, hopefully I can get this done before my season starts, whether that be soon or in August. If not, I've got until February 2nd. I don't see it going that long, but if circumstances warrant that then so be it."
In good news for Michigan fans, Isaac also mentioned that a pre-decision trip to Ann Arbor "could take place in the near future." Considering his statements above, it's logical to think that the Wolverines are still in a very strong position to land his commitment, with Notre Dame probably on the outside looking in right now.
CA S Su'a Cravens will announce his decision on June 6th, his mother's birthday, and according to Scout's Lindsay Thiry he's narrowed his choices to five schools ($): USC, UCLA, Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio State. Rivals's Adam Gorney reports, however, that while Cravens will take a trip to the Midwest before his decision, he will visit just two of those Big Ten schools, though he won't say which one is out of the running ($). Regardless, USC will be the team to beat, and I have a tough time seeing him go elsewhere.
The Wolverines continue to send out wide receiver offers, with the latest going to FL WR Alvin Bailey, the high school teammate of five-star safety Leon McQuay III. Bailey tells 247 that he's feeling the time crunch of the recruiting process, and while he hopes to visit Michigan he might not get the chance ($). He seems like a player who will stay in-state, though a four-star at a position of need—not to mention a teammate of an elite prospect—is certainly worth an offer.
Quickly: MA DT Maurice Hurst Jr. will take visits to Michigan and MSU in the near future, then make his decision before the start of his senior season ($). Happy trails to TX DE Christian Lacouture, who surprised many by committing to Nebraska on Saturday.
M Leading for McDowell? Plus More 2014 Offers
2014 MI DE Malik McDowell continues to rack up the offers, with his latest coming from Notre Dame, and he also impressed at the NFTC over the weekend. The Detroit Loyola product recently named a top five of Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State, but one school might stick out above the rest ($):
The recruiting process is just getting started for Detroit (Mich.) Loyola class of 2014 defensive end Malik McDowell, with Notre Dame becoming the latest school to offer this past Friday, but Michigan may have already established itself as the school to beat.
“You could say that,” McDowell said after participating in the Ohio Nike Football Training Camp Regional at Ohio Dominican University on Saturday.
I've been hearing the same myself, though McDowell still wants to take visits—especially to the SEC programs—before coming to any sort of decision.
Michigan continues to send out offers to elite rising juniors. TX S Edward Paris, the #10 overall prospect in 247's early rankings, picked up an offer over the weekend ($). He'll be tough to pull out of the South, but says he would like to come up for a game in the fall. DC CB D'Andre Payne already has Virginia as his leader, but Michigan—amongst several other schools—threw their hat into the ring last week ($). Finally, Tremendous reports AZ WR Dionte Sykes picked up a Michigan offer a couple of weeks ago, and he'd like to take an unofficial visit over the summer.
Today's recruiting roundup addresses some disturbing Twitter-related news, the recruitments of Ty Isaac and Henry Poggi, a pair of new 2013 offers, and a way-too-early top 25 for the class of 2014.
On Twitter and Recruits
Prepare to be creeped out:
Ohio State has learned that a convicted sex offender from Kentucky has made contact with Buckeyes student-athletes both in-person and through social media websites.
The Lantern obtained a Friday email that was sent from OSU athletic director for compliance Doug Archie informing Buckeye student-athletes that the university is aware of photographs OSU players have taken with Charles Eric Waugh, 31, a man listed on Kentucky’s sex offender registry, Archie said in the email.
"The University has become aware that an individual who is listed on Kentucky's sex offender registry has recently been seen in pictures with our student-athletes," Archie said in the mail, which was preceded by a warning text to student athletes.
Land-Grant Holyland has further details, including screencaps of Waugh tweeting inspirational quotes to Ohio State players and recruits and a photograph of him with 2013 recruits Alex Anzalone, Joey Bosa, and Mike Heuerman (above). Waugh is a registered sex offender—and currently on probation—because he was convicted in 2007 of "five counts of possession of matter portraying sexual performances by minors." As Land-Grant Holyland points out, Waugh could be in deep trouble, as the terms of his probation explicitly prohibit him from using any social media platform that allows access to minors, which is obviously the case with Twitter.
What strikes me most about the whole ordeal, however, is that several people—including a pair of current Buckeye players—came to Waugh's defense when he was called out by LGH on Twitter for sending quotes to underage kids and "pandering for [retweets]." This happened prior to the revelation that he was a sex offender, but I still find it deeply worrisome. One of the most prevalent arguments I see when people defend interacting with high school recruits through social media is that many of the recruits enjoy those interactions, so they're justified. I can't agree with that logic—there's a reason most high school kids can't vote, and it has to do with gaining a proper understanding of the world around them.
I'm not saying people shouldn't ever follow recruits; given the nature of my job, that would be hypocritical. I honestly don't see why people want to do so—the amount of relevant news gained is dwarfed in comparison to the sheer volume of high school drama, tweets with far too much information, and life musings of high schoolers—but that's your prerogative. When the line is crossed to interacting with recruits, however, it becomes a problem; even if you can't see an issue with chatting with a high school kid you don't know, there is the fact that NCAA violations are being committed at an alarming rate. I've had people ask me to tweet at recruits and encourage them to go to Michigan, which not only violates NCAA rules and the principles of journalistic integrity, but is also asking me to insert myself into a life decision for which I have no business giving input.
I realize that I'm speaking to a small fraction of the blog's readership, and also that there are a large number of fans who won't see this. But things will change soon—this isn't the first or last time that recruits will unwittingly interact with a sex offender, to put it bluntly—and I can't foresee fans having such unfettered access to recruits remaining the norm. Get ahead of the curve, remember that you're dealing with high school kids, and understand that it isn't your job to tell these young men what they should do with their lives. Brady Hoke will handle recruiting just fine without you.
(As for Facebook, by the way: don't. Just don't. Please don't make me list the reasons why you shouldn't "friend" recruits.)
Isaac Visiting USC, More 2013 News
IL RB Ty Isaac will take his second trip to USC this weekend, and according to Sam Webb he'll be accompanied by his mother ($). While I still think Michigan has the edge in his recruitment—his mother indicated that another visit to Ann Arbor is likely—this does signal that USC is a legitimate contender, perhaps moreso than Notre Dame. Isaac does ask that people not read too much into the trip, however:
“At this point (people) are going to find out (about the visit) anyway,” he said. “They’re going to have writers out there that hear that I’m out there, and they’re going to write about it. I can’t control that. I knew I had it set up for about two weeks and I kind of didn’t want to say right when I knew because you know how some of these guys on the internet are. They go crazy… like two visits means a commitment. But it’s tough… you have to get out and see these places. Just because it’s far away doesn’t mean it should be a one visit type deal. I’ve been a lot of places multiple times, so we’re just checking it out again.”
Please don't let Isaac doing his due diligence cause panic(!) in the comments. Also, as he has said in the past, Isaac plans to make his decision before the fall.
Rivals caught up with MD DT Henry Poggi after his visit to Alabama, and he played things close to the vest, abstaining from naming any leaders ($). He's working on setting his first visit to Penn State, however, and also is considering trips to Texas A&M and Cal. Given that he's taken three trips each to Michigan and Alabama, I wouldn't expect those schools to become a threat unless he takes return visits.
According to TomVH, Michigan sent out offers to two new prospects ($) this week in Fort Lauderdale (FL) University School of Nova South teammates WR Jordan Cunningham and DT Maquedius Bain. Cunningham is strangely listed at either 6'1" or 6'3" and makes the top 150 on both Rivals and ESPN, though he garners three-star ratings from Scout and 247. MAQUEDIUS BAIN (yes, he gets the all-caps treatment) is currently a Florida State commit, but he could possibly open up his recruitment; he's in the top 100 on both Scout and ESPN, but also has three stars on two sites.
Neither offer should come as a surprise considering Michigan's needs, especially with how things are trending at wide receiver. While things look good for Laquon Treadwell, there's still along way to go before he decides. Meanwhile, TX WR Eldridge Massington just committed to USC this afternoon ($, info in header). Fellow TX WR Marcell Ateman committed to Oklahoma State on Wednesday. NC WR Uriah LeMay cut his list down to ten ($), and it doesn't include the Wolverines. With two more receivers a near-necessity for rounding out the class, don't be surprised if Michigan goes hard after some new names on the recruiting trail.
Quickly: Sam Webb's DetNews feature this week is on CA ATH Elijah Qualls, who's trimmed down his current list to Washington, Oregon State, Arizona, Nebraska, California, Michigan, Iowa State and UCLA, though USC, Oklahoma, and Oregon could just into the mix if they offer. He's considering using an official visit to check out Ann Arbor. Michigan added a quarterback for the 2012 class, picking up Detroit Jesuit's Brian Cleary as a preferred walk-on.
Camps! Plus 2014 Updates
It's a big weekend for Michigan commits, as Columbus will host an Elite11 regional today then the Nike Football Training Camp on Saturday. Shane Morris will try to earn a spot in the Elite11 finals after failing to do so at the Dallas regional last month, though he'll face stiff competition from Stanford commit Ryan Burns (ESPN's #17 overall recruit) and others.
The NFTC will play host to commits Jourdan Lewis, Taco Charlton, Khalid Hill, David Dawson, and Mike McCray, who will attempt to raise their stock with strong camp performances. Scout's Allen Trieu has an extensive free preview; uncommitted recruits of note include Cass Tech DT Kenton Gibbs (no M offer), IN DT Darius Latham (offer), and a host of 2014 prospects, including MI WR Damon Webb, OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, MI LB Deon Drake, MI LB Gary Hosey, MI LB William White, and MI RB Lorenzo Collins. I know TomVH and Chantel Jennings will be there, as will the guys from Tremendous, so there will be no shortage of coverage on the event next week.
247 released a (very) early top 25 for the class of 2014, and several players holding Michigan offers made the list, including top overall prospect VA DT Da'Shawn Hand. Other offerees: NJ CB Jabrill Peppers (#3), MD OT Damian Prince (#13), NC OT Bentley Spain (#17), DC CB Jalen Tabor (#20), and MI DE Malik McDowell (#23). [EDIT: Tim Sullivan just posted over on The Fort (and said I could pass this along) that Peppers doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, despite statements Peppers has made to the contrary. His coach confirms that Peppers doesn't have an offer at the moment.]
Peppers named a top six this week that includes Michigan, and he revealed to 247 that he grew up as a fan of the Wolverines ($). Joining the Wolverines are Stanford, USC, Miami (YTM), Notre Dame, and Ohio State; Peppers said that Michigan will "definitely" be in his top five when he has one, and he's working on setting up an unofficial visit. Getting in early on Peppers would make for a fantastic start to the 2014 class.
Quickly: Kyle Turley and J.C. Shurburtt break down Logan Tuley Tillman's junior film—there's not much insight beyond what Turley wrote up last week, but it's interesting to see him go through tape. David Dawson is still getting visited by other schools, with Florida making a particularly strong push, though he remains committed and won't take visits elsewhere—he's well aware of Hoke's policy. Trieu breaks down the emerging 2014 prospects in the Midwest, including recently-offered Parrker Westphal.
Note: I'm getting error messages like whoa from 247Sports, so I can't access some of the tabs I had saved for this post. Apologies in advance if something gets left out; if you notice anything glaring that I've overlooked, let me know in the comments (and, if you can, please link to an original source of information).
Recruiting: Now Reaching Ludicrous Speed
"They've gone to plaid!"
I doubt this fact will surprise many Michigan fans, but the pace at which players are committing in the 2013 recruiting cycle appears to be unprecedented. SBNation's Jason Kirk—co-host of the incomparable Shutdown Fullback—took a look at early commitments in the past few years, and even in that short time span there's a very clear trend:
Over the past three years, the nation's top 75 recruiting teams have averaged about three commitments at this point in the year, though that doesn't include decommitments. Right now, they're averaging more than five.
And, of course, the main case in point is Michigan [emphasis mine]:
The big story is the Michigan Wolverines, whose 17 commits make for more than they've had in any combined two years of the Rivals era, and, thus, probably ever. It's noteworthy that Brady Hoke was the Big Ten coach most supportive of Urban Meyer back during Recruit-TakingGate. But almost across the board, schools are getting more and more early commitments.
The Wolverines had six commitments through April 30th for the 2012 class, and just three in 2011.
Kirk doesn't spend much time examining why this is the case, and I don't want to spoil tomorrow's recruiting roundtable podcast (yes, there's a podcast!) in which this very topic is discussed at length. One point I will make, however, is that the greatly increased attention on recruiting from both traditional and non-traditional media has placed enough stress on recruits that I believe many decide to end the process in part to get out of the increasingly-bright spotlight.
That brings me to IL RB Ty Isaac, who had an extensive profile in CSNChicago giving the latest on his recruitment [emphasis mine]:
"I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."
However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.
Isaac's apparent lack of interest in taking visits to new schools bodes well for Michigan. More trips to places like Notre Dame and USC could still be in the cards, but he's already seen those campuses and the Wolverines have remained in a strong position to land him. Also, given his justifiable disdain for the recruiting process, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him wrap things up in the near future—Isaac still maintains no public timetable.
Thomas Firmly Committed, New Offers, Etc.
While OH S Dymonte Thomas has remained steadfast in his insistence that he's firmly committed to Michigan, it's been difficult to keep a lid on discussion that he could still end up joining his cousin Bri'onte Dunn at Ohio State. In a two-part feature($) by GoBlueWolverine's Josh Newkirk, Thomas reiterates that he's "100-percent committed." In addition, we could see Thomas in Ann Arbor pretty soon, which would finally end any rumors about him flipping to the Buckeyes:
Thomas also plans on starting his Michigan career as early as possible. He is currently awaiting the results of his ACT test scores. He said he should receive the results within the next three to five weeks. If he receives passing test scores, Thomas said he will graduate early and enroll at Michigan next January.
Any doubt that Thomas ends up as a Wolverine can probably be dispelled at this point. Ohio State insiders don't like their chances and the Buckeyes continue to target other safeties for the class.
Michigan sent out a few new offers this week, and one is NOTY-worthy: 2013 NY DE Ebenezer Ogundeko is a three-star prospect to every service but Scout (who currently has him unrated), but his recruitment is picking up serious steam, as he received unexpected offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Marshall on the same day ($). According to Scout, Ogundeko also holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State, among several others, so he could be a guy who makes a rapid rise up the rankings; those offers aren't the type you'd expect for a guy on the three-star/unranked borderline.
The Wolverines also offered a trio of 2014 prospects. AZ OT Casey Tucker is getting early interest from several of the nation's top programs and could be one of the top linemen in his class. IL CB Parrker Westphal (first name: not a typo) picked up his first two offers from Michigan and West Virginia this week. Tim Sullivan reports on The Fort($) that Michigan has also offered FL DB Javon Harrison, who could play corner or safety at 6'2", 195 pounds.
Quickly: The soft-spoken MD DT Henry Poggi on his Alabama trip ($): "It was good." TomVH reports that Michigan is getting interest from consensus four-star FL S Leon McQuay III, who plans to visit on May 18th ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller is planning a decision in the late spring or early summer, and Michigan is in his tentative top five ($). OH CB Darian Hicks has yet to receive an offer, but says Michigan would be "extremely high on [his] list" if they do ($). Hicks will camp at Michigan this summer. Jerry Montgomery almost certainly had to put up a fight in order to secure Hawaii as part of his recruiting territory. Happy trails to OH WR Rob Wheelwright, who committed to Wisconsin over the weekend.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at full junior film for four 2013 commits, addresses an interesting theory on offensive line recruiting, and details a couple of recent offers.
Butt Taco D-Train MANBALL*
It's been a slow week for recruiting news, so luckily ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter unleashed full-length junior highlight videos for four Michigan commits. Here they are, with some brief analysis; first up is TE Jake Butt:
Once you get past the first half of the video, which is comprised of defensive highlights, you get to see some impressive play from Butt at tight end. He catches the ball away from his body, displays sure hands, and does a really nice job of turning back to the quarterback and giving him a target on just about every route. These are just highlights, but he also looks solid as a blocker. Butt doesn't have off-the-charts athleticism and he could be a little sharper on his route-running; he still looks like a player who could come in and have a quick impact if he can add the necessary size and strength before he hits campus.
DE Taco Charlton:
Charlton mostly played as a situational pass-rusher last fall, so his highlights aren't as lengthy as the others. That said, the outstanding athleticism that makes him such an intriguing prospect is on full display, as he's often able to just blow by opposing blockers without facing much resistance. There are issues with technique, especially when it comes to shedding blocks; those should improve with proper coaching, a summer on the camp circuit, and starter's experience in the fall. Given Michigan's depth at defensive end, Charlton likely won't have to play right away, but he looks like he could make a big impact down the road, at the very least in the same role he played last year.
S Dymonte Thomas:
Before you start calling for Thomas to play running back, check out the next tape (and also remember that Michigan is seriously in the mix for Ty Isaac). We don't get to see Thomas playing much safety in the above clip—he spends a lot of his time in the box—but we do get to see his sideline-to-sideline speed, quick diagnosis against the run, and ability to come up and lay a lick. I don't see a whole lot not to like here, though I'll be interested to see if he plays more deep half as a senior and we get some more film of him in coverage; there's not a lot to go on above.
RB DeVeon Smith:
Hello, MANBALL. Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle. The one caveat to this video is that Smith didn't play the highest level of competition last year; he comes from the same league at Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, and that worked out just fine. We don't get to see him block much, and passes are limited to swings and screens, but there's little doubt that Smith should have an impact carrying the football.
Former All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley evaluated four of Michigan's five offensive line commits in a free article at 247Sports; he's apparently over his OUTRAGE from Brady Hoke leaving San Diego State (his alma mater) to coach at Michigan, because the reviews are quite positive. Unfortunately for us, they're also pretty much identical for each of the four players (Logan Tuley-Tillman, Chris Fox, Kyle Bosch, and Patrick Kugler). In short:
Strengths—Mean streak, size
Can Work On—Pad level, footwork
Part of this is because leverage and technique can always be improved upon, especially in making the transition to the college game. Also, Michigan has assembled an impressive collection of big linemen who finish blocks with authority. There is a little more insight in the full article, including the fact that Bosch appears to be the most college-ready of the four.
*That's gotta provide an SEO boost, right?
Pro-Sized Offensive Linemen: Good
I was pleased to see that SBNation recently unveiled Land-Grant Holy Land, a new Ohio State blog spearheaded by 11W and EDSBS contributor Luke Zimmerman. This recruiting-related article for the site by DJ Byrnes, however, should probably be addressed. I won't give "Brady Hoke's Blind Spot" the full FJM-style fisking, but here's the setup after a brief discussion of how good former OSU OL Alex Boone looked as a high school prospect [emphasis mine]:
Two years later, I watched Alex Boone get eviscerated by Urban Meyer's Florida Gators. Play after play, there was another rabid jackal clad in orange and blue, running down a previously elusive Troy Smith. There was no mercy and no quarter given. There was no pity. It was just unrelenting pressure, and Alex Boone succumbed to it.
The next year, Alex Boone got eaten alive by LSU's defensive line in a game where I'm surprised Todd Boeckman wasn't killed. Again, it was a straight up mauling for which Boone and his compatriots had little defense. The Buckeyes didn't get beat like a drum against LSU as they did against Florida, but it was another poor showing for the offensive line. (SEC coaches understand: a deep, versatile defensive line will give bigger, slower offensive lines nightmares over the course of a game.)
So, this is why I laugh at Michigan and their recruitment of Boone-like clones to stock their offensive line. It's also why I get super giddy when I compare those efforts against Urban's.
Yes, this is an argument against recruiting pro-sized offensive linemen, and the crux of the argument is based on the failings of Alex Boone. There are many flaws to this, but the most notable is that Alex Boone didn't fall short of expectations at Ohio State because he was 6'8", 310+ pounds. He fell short because, through most of his college career, he was a raging alcoholic, at one point admitting to drinking up to 40 beers a night during the weekend. That will slow down just about anybody.
Byrnes then notes the rather massive human beings Michigan is bringing in for both the 2012 and 2013 classes, as well as the extremely high level of talent the Buckeyes are assembling along the defensive line. I have no argument here—there should be some epic trench clashes in the future of this rivalry. I think Michigan has a good chance of coming out on top in those clashes, however, because this simply isn't true:
Brady Hoke will be good for Michigan. He may even beat Ohio State once or twice during his tenure, but he doesn't seem to realize that college football has shifted away from massive, clattering offensive lines. By the time he does, it might already be too late.
First, it's worth noting that massive =/= unathletic. Taylor Lewan is 6'8", but he's also got remarkably quick feet. Anyone who watched 6'9", 345-pound tackle Jonathan Ogden play as a pro remembers him for somehow resembling the world's most devastating ballerina. As for the college football world moving away from large offensive lines, here are your spring depth charts for the two teams to play for the 2011 national title:
1) If college football is moving away from behemoth offensive lines, we forgot to inform the SEC, which has somehow managed to make do.
2) *Looks at Alabama's depth chart, shudders*
So, in short, you probably shouldn't worry about Michigan reeling in large classes of man-sized linemen being a bad thing. This argument could probably have been accomplished with one word—Wisconsin—but it's a slow week.
Okay, one last thing. Urban Meyer was hired on November 28th, 2011. After that date, the Buckeyes added three offensive linemen to their 2012 class: Taylor Decker (6'8", 315), Joey O'Connor (6'4", 295), and Kyle Dodson (6'6", 315). Yep, Meyer isn't stupid, either.
[So, um, MnB's Zach Travis did this too, and his take is worth a read as well. I swear I wrote this yesterday. So it goes.]
New Offers, Ojemudia Enrolls Early, Etc.
Michigan isn't slowing down on the hunt for wide receivers, as Tim Sullivan reports that their latest 2013 offer was extended to three-star MD WR Paul Harris ($, info in header). Harris stands at 6'3", 185 lbs., and he plans to attend Michigan's one-day camp on June 21st. The Wolverines are a mortal lock to add two more receivers to the class, and I wouldn't be surprised if they take three given the lack of proven depth and the scholarship no longer being held for E.J. Levenberry.
Tremendous got the scoop that the Wolverines also threw their hat in the ring for one of the top defensive prospects of 2014, NJ CB Jabrill Peppers. Peppers already holds offers from Florida, LSU, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Rutgers, and South Carolina, and that list will likely include a laundry-list of national powers before all is said and done. Peppers told Aquaman that he grew up watching Michigan—favorite players: Mike Hart and Mario Manningham—and has interest in a visit, either in the summer or fall.
11W's Alex Gleitman spoke to four-star MA DL Maurice Hurst Jr. after a recent visit to Columbus, and Hurst stated that he'll visit Michigan and Michigan State in the near future, and then he'll be "done with visits." He'd like to make his decision in the next month and a half, and currently lists Ohio State, Michigan, and Virginia as the schools sticking out to him. Buckeye coaches apparently told him that they'll take another defensive tackle; we'll see if the loaded D-line class there affects his decision, especially if things go well on his trip to Ann Arbor.
The Wolverine's Andy Reid reports that 2012 DE Mario Ojemudia will enroll for spring term on Monday, giving the man with the laser death-stare a leg up on strength and conditioning, not to mention a head start in the classroom. Ojemudia needs to add a fair amount of weight before he'll be able to line up with his hand in the dirt, so this is welcome news.
You can probably rule out Michigan for a couple of California prospects. CA RB Justin Davis has "pretty much" narrowed down to a final three of USC, Cal, and Washington, and he expects to make his decision soon ($, info in header). With the Wolverines focused in on Ty Isaac and Derrick Green, that doesn't come as much of a surprise. If Michigan was back in the market for linebackers after losing out on Levenberry—very unlikely, considering the prospects they've turned away—they seems out of the race for CA LB Michael Hutchings, who's aiming for a summer decision and is only mentioning Pac-12 schools as possible visit destinations ($).
Quickly: Free Rivals article on CA WR Demorea Stringfellow, who Mike Farrell describes as a "tough matchup for cornerbacks" because of his size (6'2", 185) and ability to go up and get the football.
This recruiting roundup will self-destruct in two hours...
VA LB E.J. Levenberry makes his choice between Michigan and Florida State at 3 pm today. His family has done a good job of keeping the choice a secret; the only insider who seems willing to make a prediction is Rivals's Mike Farrell, who's unfortunately leaning towards FSU. We'll find out soon if he's right.
Ohio State Cleans Up, and What That Means for Michigan
It's rare to kick off the meat of the recruiting roundup with players who committed elsewhere, but Ohio State's big weekend could have major—and positive—ramifications for Michigan's class. In a move that surprised no one, FL DE Joey Bosa committed to the Buckeyes last weekend, along with PA LB Alex Anzalone (Michigan offer) and NC DE Lewis Neal (no M offer).
While it's never fun to see Ohio State pick up a five-star defensive end, the addition of Bosa (along with Neal) could give Michigan a boost in the race for MD DT Henry Poggi. OSU will take a relatively small class this year, probably in the neighborhood of 18 recruits, and they now sit at 13 commits, four of them defensive linemen; the odds that they take another are slim. That could turn the race for Poggi into a Michigan/Alabama affair, though he recently told Scout's Kristen Kenney that he has no timetable for his decision and hasn't yet narrowed down his favorites ($).
Might as well clear out the two other happy trails from this week: MA OL John Montelus committed to Notre Dame, while MD QB Shane Cockerille—who Michigan was recruiting as a defensive back—picked Maryland.
Running Backs: Two Options Still Out There, Plus a New 2014 Offer
One player being pursued by both Michigan and Ohio State is VA RB Derrick Green. Green is currently favoring Clemson, but a misleading quote popped up on the MGoBoard today—"Michigan will be hard to say no to"—that I wanted to clear up. That quote was taken from a Tweet that unfortunately wasn't linked (use links, people!), so I can't find it, but here's the actual full quote from a recent interview with 247's Clint Brewster [$, emphasis mine]:
“Even though I have named Clemson my top school I would still say I’m pretty open,” said Green. “I’m probably going to narrow my list down early or late summer after I make some more visits. “Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Clemson are going to be tough to say no to and things could always change, especially as I take more visits.”
So, yes, Michigan is still a factor, but that was more a quote about how Green will have a tough time turning away any schools from his top group. It does sound like Michigan is still in hot pursuit of Green, however.
Speaking of running backs, Sam Webb tweeted that Michigan dropped by the school of IL RB Ty Isaac yesterday. EdgyTim.com has a recent update on Isaac's recruitment in which he gives an idea of his current timeline ($):
"I just don't see myself going past September 1st but I also don't want to set any hard deadline for now. I also don't see me taking five official visits and I'll most likely just take one official visit to the school I decide on. When I know my school I'm going to be 100 percent committed and I just don't want to rush things. It could happen next week but if I don't feel 100 percent comfortable with my decision I'll wait and take as much time as I need."
I'd have to think that if Isaac doesn't take any more unofficial visits, Michigan would be the prohibitive favorite over USC and Notre Dame.
Michigan offered a 2014 running back this week, Jonathan Hilliman from St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey. Hilliman already holds offers from Boston College, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon, Rutgers, and Penn State; you can check out Aquaman's post-offer interview with him here.
Quickly: Michigan is in the top eight ($, info in header) for PA ATH Chavas Rawlins, a quarterback being recruited by the Wolverines as a wide receiver. Michigan hasn't yet offered Rawlins. Free Rivals article on 2014 DE Da'Shawn Hand, potentially the #1 rising junior in the country, who already holds a Michigan offer.
Morris Bounces Back at NLA 7-on-7
Shane Morris and the MaxEx Detroit squad headed to Pittsburgh for the NLA 7-on-7 tournament, making it to the semifinals before being upset by the Michigan Elite Red team. 247's Barton Simmons ranked Morris as the #2 performer of the weekend, only behind IN LB Jaylon Smith:
Dealing with the elements of Saturday during pool play, Morris had his ups and downs like the rest of the quarterbacks at the event but when Sunday rolled around and the stakes were raised to “lose and you go home”, Morris picked his game up noticeably.
Granted, there were no rushers bearing down on him, but you’re not going to find a more calm and collected demeanor in the pocket than Morris. He has good touch, the ability to change speeds effectively and great confidence in his arm. Morris continued to look like one of the nation’s top arms on Sunday.
Simmons also had Jourdan Lewis as his #9 weekend performer, noting that he was one of the "best pure athletes" in the competition.
While only 247 has released team rankings among the four recruiting services (Michigan is #1), two other publications—MaxPreps and the Sporting News—came out with 2013 team rankings this week. Not surprisingly, Michigan tops the list on both. Here's the take at MaxPreps:
The owner of the nation's new No. 1 class, Michigan is seemingly unstoppable on the recruiting front. The Wolverines boast more depth, diversity and talent than any other class. The class features six Top 100 players among its 17 commits, the most in the country. Amazingly it stands to add even more to its riches, as Laquon Treadwell and Ty Isaac both could land in Ann Arbor while E.J. Levenberry and Kendall Fuller remain possibilities on the defensive side of the ball. McDowell will be a national recruit on the defensive line next year. Expect Michigan to target possible 2014 No. 1 Da'Shawn Hand as well, as the Wolverines have established a firm presence in the Northern Virginia area and could prove to be a factor.
The Sporting News has a similarly glowing assessment.
Quickly: Andy Staples analyzes the NFL mock draft based on recruiting rankings, reminding you that yes, they very much matter. Chantel Jennings on Michigan gunning for the top-ranked class in 2013 ($).
Today's recruiting roundup discusses E.J. Levenberry's impending announcement, the status of Su'a Cravens, a big-time new 2014 offer, and much more.
Levenberry Announcement Set for Tuesday
VA LB E.J. Levenberry has long been one of the top targets on Michigan's board, with the coaching staff holding open a spot for him despite turning away several top-flight linebackers recently. Come Tuesday at 3 pm, we'll find out if he's using that spot, as Levenberry will make his choice between Michigan and Florida State. The tea leaves are difficult to read on this one. Rivals national analyst Mike Farrell has long maintained that the Seminoles held the lead, but after Levenberry's visit for the Spring Game weekend, he's backing off a bit from that stance. Scout's Kristen Kenney caught up this week with E.J.'s father ($), who says it's currently "dead even" between the two schools. The latest Michigan visit did make a big impact, however:
"Brady Hoke is building something special at Michigan. The coaching staff there is like regular people. It's a family place, and that stood out to us. Put it this way, we were at the spring game and 400 or more guys who used to play for the school came back to the game. That speaks volumes as to what that program means to people."
By all accounts, this will be a toss-up. We'll find out next week if Michigan can add another four-star linebacker to the fold.
Another blue-chip defender also set an announcement date this week, though Michigan's chances look less strong in this case. CA S Su'a Cravens posted on Twitter that he'll make his choice on June 6th, his mom's birthday (awww). After entire minutes of fretting that Cravens has yet to visit Michigan, the five-star safety also posted that he'll take unofficial visits before his decision; though he's declined to name the schools he'll visit, the Wolverines presumably would get a trip. Still, given that he's already got a date in mind, it's logical to think that he's also got a school in mind; the general consensus is that school is USC. Cravens recently told Scout's Brandon Huffman($) about interest in Alabama and intended trips to Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio State, so those schools appear to comprise his final group along with the Trojans and UCLA. Unless he has a game-changing visit to Ann Arbor—not out of the question with this staff—I'd presume Cravens will stay in-state.
Xxplosive/West Coast... Er, Receiver
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on CA WR Sebastian Larue, who's emerged as one of the team's top targets at wideout. Larue states in the article that he currently has no favorites, but would "definitely" like to visit Michigan; he also has family from Flint, which gives the Wolverines a nice in. Brandon Huffman also provides a scouting report:
"He very well could be the most explosive pass catcher in the region," said Scout.com West regional manager Brandon Huffman. "He's a true game-breaker at receiver and kick and punt returns, and is electric in the open field. He's the kind of athlete capable of catching a little 5-yard hitch, making five or six guys miss, and taking it to the house. He has strong hands and is not just a deep threat; he's a polished and smooth route runner who knows how to get open."
Speaking of receivers, IL WR Laquon Treadwell spoke with Webb about his Spring Game visit ($), and while most presumed this was the case, it's always nice to get confirmation:
To date Treadwell hasn’t settled on a list of favorites nor has he determined which schools he plans to officially with possible exception. Will Ann Arbor be one of his destinations?
“Yeah, I think so,” he replied.
Meanwhile, five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller told Scout's Kristen Kenney($) that Michigan "felt like a second home," in large part because of his relationship with former Good Counsel teammate Blake Countess. It's still an uphill battle for Fuller with his two older brothers having played at Virginia Tech, but it looks like the Wolverines have a realistic shot, which I wouldn't have said two weeks ago.
247's Steve Wiltfong tweeted that IL RB Ty Isaac will not visit any more schools this spring. I'd take that as a positive, since Isaac has visited Michigan multiple times and seems to be growing weary of the recruiting process. If he were to decide without taking any more visits, the Wolverines would be the prohibitive favorites.
In 2014 news, Michigan offered 6'2", 225-pound SC ATH K.C. Crosby, who already holds over 20 BCS offers and projects to be one of the top recruits in his class. Crosby projects to either linebacker or tight end, and 247's Clint Brewster reports that Michigan hasn't stated which position they're recruiting Crosby to play ($).
Shane Morris Feature and MOAR Four-Stars
ESPN released this Elite11 video feature on Shane Morris:
Yes, Shane can dunk (a football in this case, though he says he can dunk a basketball as well); we also get some good insight from the Elite11 coaches, who love Morris's arm strength but want to see him dial it back a bit on the shorter routes.
ESPN wasn't the only recruiting service to update their rankings recently, as both Scout and 247 did a little reshuffling of their top lists. The Scout 300 barely changed, as you can see on TTB, though three players—Jourdan Lewis, Gareon Conley, and Jaron Dukes—got bumped up to four stars.
247 made some changes to their Top247, and while most were relatively minor, five Ohio prospects entered the list. Three of those five are Michigan commits: Ben Gedeon (#171), DeVeon Smith (#230), and Conley (#236). Smith and Conley both seem to be rising in the eyes of scouts, especially Conley, who's picked up four-star ratings from the last three services to update (Scout, ESPN, and now 247, with Rivals being the lone holdout).
After those updates, 15 of Michigan's 17 commits now are four-star or higher on at least three of the four recruiting services. Khalid Hill is now the only commit you can justifiably categorize as a sleeper now that Dukes is a four-star on two sites.