Ace takes on the day-to-day process on a twice-weekly basis, but in case you haven't been paying super-close attention here's a primer on where Michigan stands as of today, and probably will continue standing until early January when some targets are likely to announce at All-Star games.
We'll start with the RR-Hoke hybrid 2011 class and focus on 1) how well Hoke's done, 2) what Michigan needs to fill out this class, and 3) what they'll be looking for next year.
|Russell Bellomy||3*||nobody||N/A||Shane Morris||5*|
PERFORMANCE: Bellomy was a late flier taken by Hoke after the Process left him scant time to find a bunch of dudes. We've seen that early results from this class of random last minute additions have been erratic. A couple are gone, a few more are contributors, others are still waiting in the wings. Judging recruiting prowess based on a rushed land grab made while still trying to find your footing is not a good idea.
This is kind of a long way of saying that Bellomy did not play well against Nebraska, and moreover seemed like a guy who just didn't have the arm strength to play at the top level, but that the decision to recruit him was not representative of much.
Meanwhile, Shane Morris is one of the top-ranked QBs in this class. He committed so early that it was clear Michigan would have had to do something spectacularly wrong to not end up with him. Still, points for not doing that, and for convincing Morris to hop aboard early enough to help sweep up most of a top five class by March.
OTOH, not taking a QB in this year's freshman class was a mistake, and while Morris is good his lack of high school production is somewhat concerning. (Yes, he had mono. Even considering that his junior/senior production is a little concerning.)
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Taken care of.
NEXT YEAR: With the hole in 2012 and Hoke's obscure mutterings about Bellomy having a "thing" that is not an injury but may prevent him from playing, possibly long-term, grabbing a guy is a top priority. Morris may scare guys off but it's at lot less intimidating when the hotshot freshman is just another backup.
Michigan has targeted a wide array of QBs; they have not offered any just yet. VA QB Caleb Henderson and OH QB DeShone Kizer are names to watch; instate, DCD QB Tyler Wiegers is someone garnering early buzz. Things are far less certain than last year, when Morris and Michigan had a mutual thing going on.
|Thomas Rawls||3*||Drake Johnson||2.5*||DeVeon Smith||4*|
|Justice Hayes||4*||Dennis Norfleet||4*|
PERFORMANCE: Hayes and Rawls were both late additions in the transition class, with Rawls coming aboard on Signing Day once he'd gotten some academic things taken care of. Hayes originally committed to ND, and then decommitted—the way in which it went down kind of seems like ND was the one pulling back. Neither has done much so far. In Hayes's case that's due to a lack of opportunity. In Rawls's it is not.
Last year Michigan all but struck out. Johnson played across the street from Michigan Stadium, putting up big numbers in an offense that was basically "snap the ball to Drake" and getting no offers except Eastern Michigan until M stepped in. Norfleet was committed to Cincinnati until a signing day flip that happened largely because Michigan had an extra scholarship. He's returned kicks and taken a few end-arounds so far. He was recently flipped to cornerback despite being 5'7", which says bad things about JT Floyd's availability, the options behind Courtney Avery and Raymon Taylor, and possibly his ability to run the ball. It would have been nice to see him get some run before they made that move, as you never really know until you put the guy on the field.
This year Michigan finally has a guy that fit what they want to do and can play. Skepticism from Rivals about DeVeon Smith is not shared by the other services, or fellow suitor Ohio State. He's a stocky stiff-arm specialist who's hard to knock over, suited to grind it out between the tackles and so forth and so on. As a single option maybe he's not ideal, but…
NEEDS THIS YEAR: If Michigan does get VA RB Derrick Green, many of these concerns evaporate. Green is a near-consensus five star who fits what Michigan would like to do as they move away from the spread—think Alabama.
Arm tackles nyet. With Smith that's a fine 1-2 punch.
Grade with Green: B+; without D. Big swing is possible at a position like RB where guys can come in day one and contribute.
NEXT YEAR: With Johnson coming off a redshirt Michigan will have three freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior. They'll probably take a guy; they can take it easy.
Jehu Chesson (left), Jaron Dukes (right) and Devin Gardner are going to get along just fine
|nobody||n/a||Amarah Darboh||4*||Jaron Dukes||3.5*|
|Jehu Chesson||3*||Da'Mario Jones||3*|
PERFORMANCE: Rodriguez had a couple guys on the hook by the time he got the boot, and the decision to pass on Devin Lucien still grates. Lucien went to UCLA, redshirted, then had 10 catches in the first five games of the season and blew up Gus Johnson…
…before breaking his collarbone. Before that he was on pace for a 451 yard season over 12 games, which would have been second on this Michigan team.
There were no apparent grade or character issues with the guy, and Michigan opened the next year short scholarships. With no other WRs in the class, the only explanation for not taking him is badly mis-evaluating his talent relative to the other guys on the roster. The Process didn't help that. but if that decision ended up moving Devin Gardner to WR…
Let's not go down that road any further.
The next two years have been… eh. I actually like the 2012 class more than the recruiting rankings do, as Chesson got sleeper of the year status after his track season belied concerns about his speed and the vibe around the internet quotes was sufficiently awesome to make me think once he puts on the right amount of weight he'll be a player. Amarah Darboh comes with a solid four-star rep; those guys should both be players.
They'll have to be since the incoming class consists of three projects, and there was no 2011 class. Jones is the only speed guy, and Michigan yoinked him from CMU. Jaron Dukes could be a Junior Hemingway type eventually; York is more of a possession banger.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: LaQuon Treadwell is rapidly receding as a possibility, leaving Michigan with just the three sleeper types they've already acquired. If they could add a blue-chip, they would.
NEXT YEAR: Numbers look fine, but they'll probably need to take a couple more guys because most of the bullets they've got are of the iffy variety.
|Chris Barnett||4*||Devin Funchess||3.5*||Jake Butt||4*|
|AJ Williams||3.5*||Khalid Hill||2.5*|
PERFORMANCE: The pass-catching situation looks a lot better when these guys are figured in. Barnett was a Process-induced mistake who flamed out before fall practice; the other four guys look pretty good.
Funchess led Michigan in touchdown catches with five and should see his touches blow up in year two as Michigan gets more comfortable throwing over the middle of the field with the 6'5" Devin Gardner at QB. He'll have to put on weight to be less of a liability blocking. Williams would have redshirted in an ideal situation, as he desperately needed some time to figure out technique; he's going to be fine in time.
Butt is a guy to get excited about, a version of Funchess coming in 20-30 pounds heavier. Michigan figures to play all of the tight ends in the world in the future so a redshirt may not be in the cards for him. Hill is a low-ranked H-back type who will hopefully be a ++ version of a fullback.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: Covered.
NEXT YEAR: I don't think Michigan will go a recruiting class without a tight end as long as Hoke is around. With Hill and Houma on the team they can probably forgo the H-back sort and just scour for the sort of matchup nightmares Butt and Funchess promise to be. No names yet.
|Tony Posada||3*||Kyle Kalis||5*||Patrick Kugler||4.5*|
|Chris Bryant||4*||Erik Magnuson||4.5*||Chris Fox||4.5*|
|Jack Miller||3*||Ben Braden||3*||Kyle Bosch||4.5*|
|Blake Bars||3.5||David Dawson||4*|
PERFORMANCE: All three guys in 2011 were essentially Rodriguez guys; while Bryant committed after the coaching change, he had strung out a near-commitment to Michigan for months. Michigan lost MI OL Jake Fisher to Oregon and could not grab anyone late, but Process == pass.
The next two years Hoke did work, nabbing Kyle Kalis from Ohio State and Erik Magnuson from the West Coast. Enormous Ben Braden was an MGoBlog sleeper of the year and has been the subject of considerable practice hype; though that's always dodgy he seems poised to blow through his recruiting rankings. Some late whiffs on kids who went to Auburn and Iowa—how do you feel about this a year later, dudes?—were a temporary downer. Emphasis on temporary: by May Hoke had locked down five touted guys comprising an entire offensive line. (From left to right: Tuley-Tillman, Dawson, Kugler, Bosch, Fox.) Together they're the top line class in the country. Over two years enough guys will emerge from the nine to give Michigan a good to great OL.
A+. You can't guarantee success with folks as variable as OL; Michigan's done all they can to try.
NEEDS THIS YEAR: It seems like Michigan figured out they were going to have more spots in this class than they originally thought they would about a month ago, and since then they've been going after not only a guy to replace the decommitted Dawson (who turned out to be Dawson) but a sixth. Michigan seems to be looking at huge tackle types for the most part. Tennessee soft commit Dan Skipper and Nebraska soft commit Dan Samuelson came in last week and are the hot names.
NEXT YEAR: Michigan already has 6'10" man-mountain Denzel Ward committed. He's raw as hell, which shouldn't be a problem since I mean look at the table. He'll have time to develop, and he's already got an Ohio State offer, so the kid is a talent. A wild card, but a talent.
Past Ward, Michigan can settle down into a more normal OL recruiting structure after repairing Rodriguez's damage—3 or 4 total. They've got serious interest from FL OL Mason Cole and MI OL Tommy Doles; if they lock those two down it might actually be time to cool it.
27 tickets to team 156. Naw just joshin'…
Read this. Meinke on Heck's cancer-stricken wife:
Roy Roundtree hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap an improbable fourth-quarter comeback last season against Notre Dame. It came in the first night game in Big House history, gave Brady Hoke his first signature win at the school and set off a wild on-field celebration.
Players and coaches raced around looking for someone -- anyone -- to hug.
Not Jeff Hecklinski.
The Michigan receivers coach paced around trying to find cell service. Moments after the biggest win of his career, he wanted to call his wife. But not to celebrate -- to see if she was OK.
Thursday Thursday Thursday. I'll be Washington DC talking about stuff. Ask questions in that thread, sign up at the UM Club of DC's site, and etc. I will be audible since it's at a law firm! Excited about that bit.
college hockey in St. Louis: what could go wrong?
"Our current setup provides a lot of challenges,” said Tom Nevala, chair of the Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Committee and senior associate athletics director at Notre Dame. “You need to find buildings that are neutral sites, have NHL ice and ideally are within close proximity to the host school’s fan base. Right now for the most part, we really need the host to qualify if we are going to have good attendance and atmosphere at our regionals. In an effort to increase attendance, the NCAA has been working with the hosts to try and make tickets more affordable but the nature of neutral sites and non-traditional game times works against us a bit.”
Translated from guy-who-wants-to-keep-his-job to raging bloggerese that is a slavering attack on the current format. I like you, Tom Nevala. You're all right.
“Personally, I would like to see us move to an on-campus best-of-three series format for the first round,” Nevala said. “The top seeds would host regardless of size of its building. Right now we do it at the conference level and it works very well. There are upsets even with the home ice advantage and the atmosphere for everyone involved would be better. We have such great campus facilities that are such a part of the fabric of college hockey, it’s a shame that the national tourney isn’t played in them.”
Massive improvement, though it does leave you with eight teams and no suggestion as to what to do with them. I've seen other people propose a "super regional" featuring just the two games, but that runs into the same issues. May as well just extend the season a week and do best two-of-three again, then have a Frozen Four.
Unfortunately, Nevala then goes on to say "the coaching body" is "set on having the regional games at neutral sites," which means we must fire every single D-I coach and replace them with people who aren't CHL sleeper agents.
Gambling in this establishment. WHL hammers Portland for benefits over and above the ones they're allowed to give.
Schedule strength so far. Michigan fares well in Luke Winn's latest power rankings:
Michigan's about to fade in this department as they take on an array of low-major teams and struggling Arkansas and West Virginia outfits, but right now you can take Michigan's stats as seriously as any compiled six games into a season. Duke, meanwhile, has basically locked down a one-seed at this point with wins over Kentucky, Louisville, OSU, VCU, and Minnesota. I be like dang.
As for Michigan itself, they're third. Winn points out the decreasing reliance and increased effectiveness of the pick and roll:
1. Overall, their percentage of P&R possessions has dropped from 18.0 to 14.5, according to Synergy.
2. P&Rs still make up a big portion of Burke's game, but when he does them, he's passing 55.6 percent of the time, as compared to 44.9 last year. His pass/shoot ratio out of P&Rs is the opposite of what it was in '11-12.
3. His derived offense from all P&R possessions is 1.127 PPP -- way up from 0.978 PPP last season. He has to force fewer shots, and he has better passing options on the perimeter.
I'm surprised the pick and roll was only 18% of Michigan's shot generation last year. I wonder what it was in year two of Darius Morris.
Stealing Ace's thunder a bit. Gareon Conley visits OSU this Thursday and Michigan on the 14th($) for what is shaping up to be a very large recruiting weekend; newly re-offered David Dawson will also be in after an OSU visit.
A note on the Dawson stuff: I'm surprised that opinion is divided on whether re-extending an offer to the kid is a good idea. The guy has had a rough go of it this year with his father dying unexpectedly and if Michigan is back in the picture it's because he manned up, went to Michigan, and laid it out. Weigh the twitter blasts against swallowing your pride and doing that as a 17-year-old. If Hoke thinks he's good, he's good. Michigan has been meticulous about getting quality kids after The Process forced them to take a couple fliers on kids they didn't really know.
Meanwhile, the increasingly-infamous Policy about committed recruits visiting other places is way overblown. Dawson got his offer pulled because he was not upfront; Michigan is still recruiting Conley after he decommited. All the policy means is "don't think you're saving a spot in Michigan's class if you're visiting other schools."
Michigan has two states of recruiting:
- COMMITTED: Keep out of trouble and keep your grades up and you will be in the class. We will stand by you if you have a bad year or get injured. You do not take visits to other schools. If you do, they automatically move you into the other category.
- UNCOMMITTED: If you have an offer they'll continue to recruit you but they can revoke that offer at any time until they move you into the other category by mutual agreement. If your leg explodes tough cookies.
Notably absent is "COMMITTED, BUT…" Committed-but is an extremely annoying recruiting state that recently-offered AZ OL Kenny Lacy provides an excellent example of:
Lacy is a UCLA commitment that was also offered by Michigan this week. His consideration of other schools, however, is not a new development. From the moment he committed to the Bruins back in September he mentioned his plan to still take trips to other campuses. …
"I am committed (to UCLA) and I originally did it because I felt strongly that is where I want to go. But I was upfront with (UCLA assistant) Coach (Adrian) Klemm from the beginning that I would still take trips, and he was OK with that. I just want to make sure I am doing the right thing and making the right decision."
This is an offense against the English language, and that's probably why Hoke doesn't go for it. Also it's a fiction: Lacy is one-way committed to UCLA. He expects UCLA to be committed to him—he would be pissed if the Bruins took some other OL and were like "sorry full up." He reserves the right to flit off to somewhere else late.
Michigan isn't playing that game, and that is the extent of The Policy. You get two categories. Pick one. None of this half-in half-out stuff.
Prognosticator hat. One man's impression of how things will work out:
- Conley: MICHIGAN by a nose. Last visit, Oregon doesn't appear to be going for him hard or at all at this point, parents pushing for M. OSU visit just a one-off Thursday instead of a full official.
- Dawson: MICHIGAN. Really seemed to regret how things worked out now; doubt Michigan would re-offer without a good idea of how the story ends.
- Derrick Green: MICHIGAN. Options: fired coach, fired coach, Ole Miss, place that will be nuked by NCAA in near future. Early enrollment make it very hard for fired coach places to catch up. With the dead period, a guy who gets hired today would have about two weeks to build a relationship. Ole Miss or Michigan? Since the kid isn't from Mississippi that has to be no contest. If it is Ole Miss, I swear to never set foot in that state because I won't be able to leave.
- Leon McQuay: Vanderbilt, but if James Franklin gets snapped up by someone else that would probably tip the scales to Michigan.
- LaQuon Treadwell: Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Seems like if he was going to drop to Michigan he already would have. Maybe he's just indecisive.
- Michigan adds wildcard or two. That would put them at 25 give or take the status of the longsnapper, who I know I know they said would be getting a full ride but we heard the same thing with Morales; dollars to donuts the deal is he is at the top of the walk-on board permanently. They're at 25 now pending Mike Jones not getting a fifth year and Lewan entering the draft, so even if the LS is on full scholarship it would only take one extra piece of attrition for Michigan to have extra room. That's almost inevitable. You can see that they've offered a half-dozen players lately, mostly OL and LBs. I'd guess they add one or the other, with Cal OL commit Cameron Hunt the random guess I'm making. More likely they will pull someone out of nowhere a la Willie Henry.
It would be weird to have two decommitted guys recommit—in my recollection only one decommit has ever re-upped with Michigan: Will Campbell. But that's the way my wind is blowing to day you guys.
FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL
It's almost as if athletic directors cannot consider the consequences of their actions. UNLV's AD after participating in a mock playoff assemblage:
"Wow, is this committee going to have pressure," Livengood said. "The thing that jumps out at me is that there are just four teams, it's not enough of a sample. I was not a proponent of going larger than four, and this changed my mind totally."
Sure you weren't, UNLV dude.
Meanwhile, this committee assembled to prevent mistakes like Stanford getting picked over Oregon last year because Oregon played and lost to LSU while Stanford did not made the exact same mistake in reverse by selecting Oregon over Stanford because Stanford played ND and lost (in overtime on a terrible call) while Oregon played Arkansas State, Fresno State, and Tennessee Tech in their nonconference schedule and Stanford has to beat a good UCLA team again to win the Pac-12. Way to reward scheduling, guys.
As always, people in charge of stuff are just in charge of stuff and may or may not deserve to be.
Etc.: Zak Irvin off to a hot start as the man on his HS team post Gary Harris. Nebraska and OU agree to a series in 2021 and 2022. Yost Built previews this weekend's hockey series against Ferris. Hockey has a lot of talent coming in next year. Orson interviews the populace at The Game.
Goodbye Gateway. You probably have a vague familiarity with Gateway High School in Pennsylvania as that place that puts out a bunch of guys who Michigan recruits, occasionally secures, but more often go elsewhere in the Midwest, sometimes annoyingly. Justin King, one-time Michigan lock-type substance who ended up at Penn State, is the most frustrating loss in retrospect. While King's presence with PSU didn't help them win any games against Michigan…
…adding an All-Big Ten corner (even if a second team one) to the 2006 team had the potential to flip one or both of the OSU and USC games, in which you may remember Chris Graham and Morgan Trent getting torched repeatedly. In Graham's defense, he was a brick of muscle badly miscast as a nickel corner against OSU's passing spread that year, which is all the more reason King's presence could have been a game-hanging one.
You may also remember Gateway as the home of Shayne Hale and Cameron Saddler, two of the guys on the "Pittsburgh is basically Mississippi" list of players who inexplicably chose the local half-empty NFL stadium over, you know, Michigan. And others I suppose. I was pretty sure that Michigan had acquired at least a couple guys from that school (Marlin Jackson?) but Rivals shows none.
Anyway, this is an extremely long preamble to a surprising happening: due to severe budget cuts it looks like long-time Gateway coach Terry Smith may be forced out. The school district is dropping their athletic director position—also held by Smith—to part-time and the guy can get a regular gig somewhere else. Any impact this has on Michigan will be minimal since PA recruiting has been erratic at best since Teryl Austin departed, but apparently the mention of changes at Gateway are enough to prompt the fist-shaking realization of what could have been if Justin King had just gone where everyone expected him to. I still remember the post-it note I would scribble Michigan's hypothetical recruiting class on when in boring work meetings.
The comparison is inescapable. MGoFave-rave Brian Phillips spent the duration of Wimbledon at Wimbledon, returning with autism-spectrum-on-the-scene reports about a triumphant Roger Federer that frequently reference the capital-A "Apparatus" and find Phillips yelled at by a multicultural cornucopia of annoyed television people.
It's impossible to read them and not think about David Foster Wallace, and yet Phillips comes out looking pretty okay despite that inevitability. I enjoyed them… a lot. It turns out I like reading about tennis far more than I enjoy watching it. You might as well. Five parts!
- Part 1: finding a press pass and having a hallucinatory experience
- Part 2: Nadal loses to some guy!
- Part 3: People, toilets, things happening
- Part 4: Phillips's comically bloodshot eye, etc
- Part 5: Watching Murray lose to Federer in a room with a spasming Scottish lady
I love Grantland. Viva Bill Simmons.
But you're supposed to be an incorporeal floating voice. Fouad goes down the twitter rabbit hole and comes out with Carl Grapentine in the flesh:
He's got a radio show in Chicago and is not a ball of soothing energy, which is quite a surprise. Fouad finds this a little disturbing, and I'm with him. But I find this more disturbing:
I know there are some anti-Grapentine folks out there in the fan base
Who are these people? We must find them and give them, I don't know, Fort Wayne Mad Antz season tickets. Grapentine's voice is as integral to the Michigan Stadium experience as Bud Lynch's is at Joe Louis. He's the voice of the program. I find the idea people would dislike him—maybe prefer the FREEEEE PIZZZZAAA guy—alarming.
Good luck with that. If you're not a season ticket holder and you want to buy single-game tickets to the MSU game, you have to buy UMass plus two of Air Force, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa. Total charge for the four games is $380, $95 bucks a ticket… which seems about double what you could get from scalpers on gameday. I'm guessing they'll sell out since scalpers will try to make it work selling to people pathologically afraid of going to the stadium without a ticket in hand.
NCAA reviews coming out. Unlike myself, Ace is still a feverish devotee thanks to a band of friends who he plays with online. He'll have a review whenever he can pry himself away. While you're waiting, MJD says "just buy last year's," which he thought was a major leap forward in the series. Midnight Maize highlights the OCD approach—which was mine when I kept buying the thing—taken by the serious folks at Operation Sports. Some of these complaints are the same ones I had five years ago:
Apparently, Brent Venables taught the NCAA Football 13 team all about safety play because receivers run right past them into the open field. Vertical routes with fast receivers are nothing but money, it's horrendous. …
There aren't penalties in football except for the occasional holding and offsides!" - Anyone [whose] only experience with football was through NCAA Football 13. …
There are more plays than just screen plays and deep passes computer AI. Seriously. The A.I. Playcalling is absolutely atrocious from what I'm seeing in the early going. Or maybe it's just the AI's execution? Regardless, the AI seems way off this year when it comes to running an offense.
I'm glad I missed the era when four years into your dynasty nobody had a kicker who could hit an extra point.
On the Dantonio impression. Shane Morris deployed one:
What makes this funny to me is that this is clearly a conversation that actually happened almost word for word. Shane's clearly talking about Taybor Pepper, the longsnapper who was going to walk-on at Michigan before Dantonio tossed him a scholarship. Shane adds a "State" in there when he means just "Michigan," so it's a little confusing, but it's clear that at some camp Dantonio approached Shane Morris and had a little exchange about the importance of long-snapping.
Which is really important starting NOW. 2011: no one cares about long-snappers even a little. 2012: Auburn pays 180k for one.
The pointlessness of watch lists. It's watch list season, when every returning starter in America is named to their positionally-appropriate reminder that Award X exists. This will be the only time watch lists are mentioned on the blog, because this is how silly they are:
Brendan Gibbons converted 1-of-5 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2010, which helped lead the Michigan football team to a last-place finish in placekicking -- nationally.
Two years later, he's one of 30 players to land on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top kicker.
No offense to Keith Stone, but Gibbons's career long is 43 yards. Watch lists are inane.
Quality people. Kitchener has apparently filed a pointless lawsuit against the Daily because they said they offered Trouba money. Given the standards for libel prosecution on both sides of the border, the chances of success are 0% and the Rangers are threatening freedom of the press because they'd like to maintain the fiction that certain OHL players get dollars in excess of the $50-a-week stipend they haven't changed since the 80s.
Etc.: The free Blue Ribbon Big Ten preview this year is Michigan. The primary question it asks is "why would anyone pay for this"? Their prediction is… not made. Woo! Meanwhile, Phil Steele says M is one of 11 teams that fit the "national championship mold".
The Insight Bowl is now called the Valley of the Sun Bowl, not to be confused with that other Sun Bowl. It is now the only bowl game other than the Rose and Gator to have an actual non-sponsor name, which means it's probably not long for this world.