this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Hockey commitments don't usually get full posts but these are big ones. First, according to USHR and via Michigan Hockey Net, Michigan has snake-oiled away NTDP goalie John Gibson from Ohio State. This is a BFD for the program, which loses Bryan Hogan after the year and was facing a season with Shawn Hunwick as their only viable goalie. No offense to Hunwick, but he's a very small walk-on who's not doing that well this year—another option is key.
Gibson is more than just another option. He's the top-rated goalie on the CSB's USHL list, 13th on USA Today's list of the top American prospects for the 2011 NHL draft, and just a month ago ESPN's Gare Joyce listed him first on his list of top five goaltending prospects for the NHL draft, one of a group of "three elite prospects" who may end up first round picks:
John Gibson, USNTDP
Some scouts thought that Gibson (6-foot-2, 205 pounds) was in and out at the NHL Research and Development camp this summer, but he has looked very solid in showings subsequently. He gets high marks for his agility in the crease and he goes post to post very well. With Campbell last year and John Gibson this winter, it just might be that the USDT is becoming what Quebec was for many years -- the leading hothouse for goaltending prospects.
I know what you're thinking but Gibson is already halfway through the year with the U18s—you don't flip a college commitment halfway through your senior season if you're going to defect to the OHL. It was at about this time last year we found out Jack Campbell wasn't headed to Ann Arbor.
Some scouting from NHL.com:
"He has good net coverage, good size and is great on his angles," Central Scouting's Al Jensen told NHL.com. "He looks big in his initial set-up and while in butterfly. He's not flashy but confident and is always focused, controlled in his movements, strong in his crease and smart at reading plays."
And some more indicating he's not a flake from just junior coach:
A butterfly-style goalie, Gibson said he patterns himself after the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury.
To hear Stern tell it, Gibson has the total package.
"John has tremendous instincts and hockey sense," Stern said. "A lot of times that gets overlooked when people talk about goalies. Everyone talks about forwards and defensemen but they sometimes forget that that's a component of goaltending, too.
"He has unbelievable athleticism, and he's extremely competitive. And he's unflappable. He's just very mature and composed. We like to say a lot of kids are low-maintenance; well, he's no-maintenance.
"That's a pretty rare thing, especially among goaltenders. They can be a quirky bunch, and I think the fact Gibson is so well put-together is something the program is going to appreciate."
Last year Gibson backstopped the U17s to a World Hockey Challenge gold, making 38 saves in a 2-1 win over Canada in the final. He's almost as good as Jack Campbell, and he's appeared from a cloud of vapor to rescue Michigan's goalie situation next year. Win.
Bonus Non-Random Defenseman
Serville is the one on top.
Michigan's also added a second defender to their class in the OJHL's Brennan Serville. Serville has eight assists in 17 games and was committed to Atlantic Hockey school Canisius before he switched. IIRC, Atlantic Hockey schools do not give out the full complement of scholarships so Serville could be a semi-walk on on a partial deal or a guy who broke out this year and found himself with better options.
It appears to be the latter, as Serville decommitted from Canisius a few months ago in search of a better situation. He was an eighth-round pick of Sudbury in the OHL (not bad for a guy who was obviously a tough sign) and was rated a B player (third to fifth round) on the CSB's watch list in October.
He impressed at the Sudbury camp he attended:
Another unsung player who turned heads is defenceman Brennan Serville, an eighth-round pick in 2009. He proved to be mobile and solid on his skates, hard to knock down or separate from the puck.
USHR says he's "a great skating defenseman with size who is good on the breakout, has good hands and sees the ice well," and his coach says he's "a great skater that protects and moves the puck extremely well from the back-end." As a big, right-handed mobile guy he could find a home as the other guy on Michigan's awkward all-lefty power play.
Michigan's 2011 class has gone from extremely worrying to pretty much fine in one fell swoop. Picking up an elite goaltending prospect is a major, badly needed coup and grabbing an uncommitted defenseman expected to be drafted in the same area Steven Kampfer was is another boost.
They're obviously done in goal. On defense Michigan added an end-of-the-bench type in recruited walk-on Mike Szuma earlier this year and is carrying eight scholarship(-ish) guys on the roster this year, so they are likely done there as well. They lose Tristin Llewellyn and Chad Langlais and could see Brandon Burlon, Mac Bennett, or John Merrill leave early (Burlon much more likely than Merrill or Bennett), but as long as they don't lose two of the early entry risks their defense next year will be something like…
…and that's a solid group.
Michigan is also carrying a ton of forwards next year and doesn't need to bring in as many as they lose but with Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, Winnett, and Vaughn all out the door they need more than just Alex Guptill. They'll be trying to flip committed players having big seasons or just patrolling for 20-year-olds who can fill in the blanks before a more robust 2012 class comes in. If they can bring in two guys with the ability of Serville and Gibson at forward that will be a beauty save on what was looking like a rough 2011 class.
not so much
So this is a deeply bizarre thing: The Wolverine is reporting that Grand Blanc RB Justice Hayes has seen the snake oil and committed to Michigan just a couple days after dropping his ND commit.
I'm all UFRing this Wisconsin debacle and Tim is away from the computer tonight so the full "Hello: Recruit" post will have to wait for tomorrow morning but in brief, Hayes is a highly-touted RB in the same mold as Demetrius Hart, the #84 overall player to Rivals and #3 "all purpose back"—Hart is #1. ESPN has him a 4-star 79 and #22 running back. Scout has him a 4-star, the #14 running back and #118 overall player.
Literally everyone reading this post is thinking "can he play corner?" He's 5'10", so hypothetically, but everyone ranks him as a tailback and ESPN's evaluation doesn't mention defense at all, so even if he ends up switching it will be after a while. Hopefully by that point the secondary won't be Kosovo in pads.
Michigan was looking for a second RB in this class but people thought it would be Thomas Rawls, not Hayes. Michigan appears to have picked up a duplicate of a player they've already got but both guys are widely praised for their receiving talents and could bounce back and forth—this commit likely ends any thought Michigan will pick up a slot in this class.
More tomorrow from Tim.
Update 4/7: Linked to video of MI QB Devin Gardner, FL QB Jeffrey Godfrey, and FL CB Spencer Boyd, articles on SC RB Marcus Lattimore, TX RB commit Tony Drake, FL WR commit Ricardo Miller, OH S LaTwan Anderson, MI QB Devin Gardner (more), CA RB Brennan Clay, LA QB Munchie Leguax (more), LA S Ronnie Vinson, OH DE Jibreel Black.
Removed TX DE Jackson Jeffcoat (no interest in M), GA QB Blake Sims (Bama).
Moved MI CB Mylan Hicks to offered.
Article on Trovon Reed and Lache Seastrunk; I'm close to dropping both since there's been little recent indication Michigan is under consideration for either. Helmholdt article mentioning FL S Marvin Robinson and OH S LaTwan Anderson. Bizarre assertion that Michigan offered five-count-em-five kids at one Maryland high school.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
Lame development of the week: GA QB Blake Sims, publicly favoring Michigan and Georgia and planning a Michigan trip in the near future, committed to Alabama over the weekend. Sims was Michigan's best shot for a high-profile second quarterback commit in the near future. Not a huge deal with Gardner aboard.
Meanwhile, CA RB Brennan Clay says nice things to Michigan folk but in more neutral settings he expresses a clear preference for the West Coast. The latest is an "almost commitment" to Oregon. He lists M, plans a trip, and was a teammate of Forcier, so he remains on the board but I'd be super surprised to see anything come of it.
Happy Trails, High School Edition
Two transfers of interest:
- OH S LaTwan Anderson, currently favoring M, MSU, and WVU, is leaving St. Ed's because he "didn't like it real well over there" according to his father. Dreaded Glenville is the potential destination.
- FL WR Ricardo Miller is probably now MI WR Ricardo Miller, as his transfer to Huron is official. Miller plans to enroll early, as well.
You, Too, Can Go To Michigan, 5'4" AP Chemistry Student
Michigan has been offering and offering and offering and offering and offering; these days instead of having some kid say he'd like to go to Michigan and adding them to the board and waiting for an offer 90% of the guys who show up on the board do so because they say Michigan has an offer for them. I don't buy it. This is the last straw:
Michigan had a busy day on Thursday - offering five DeMatha [MD] football players. Michael Cooley, Lorenzo Waters, Ari Kouandjio, Marcus Coker and Jeff Knox all received offers from the Wolverines.
In a TLA, NFW. I don't think two guys who don't even have Rivals profiles are going to be amongst five kids Michigan offers in one go.
What is probably happening here: Michigan is chucking conditional offers out to all these kids with the clear implication that you are here on the pecking list and we will accept a commit from you in certain circumstances. In Devin Gardner's case those circumstances are "you do not shoot a hobo." In the case of random Maryland guy without Rivals profile those circumstances are probably "your father donates one million dollars moohahahaha /evil." (Or in reality: several other kids commit elsewhere first.)
Anyway, kid gets a warm fuzzy, kid gets to report an offer, Michigan can work their mojo, and (hopefully) no one hops on Marcus Lattimore's scholarship. Snake oil picture goes here.
You'll note that the reported offers locally are far more circumspect: MI DT Jonathan Hankins doesn't have one, nor did Austin Gray before he committed to Iowa. Anyone who's been to campus and is a threat to drop as soon as his sweaty mitts get a letter is being evaluated carefully. Random kids who haven't thought about Michigan for two seconds and aren't going to commit without a visit (and if they do won't stick to that commitment) get offers like candy.
DE Avalanche Aieee
No position has seen the offer avalanche more than defensive end. You can see four new additions above to just one removal. The board now shows fifteen offers to various folks, among them OH DE Jibreel Black…
Black estimated his scholarship offer total stands at 18. It includes Wisconsin, Michigan State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Purdue, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Kentucky, South Carolina and a host of MAC schools such as Miami (Ohio), Ball State and Ohio University.
"I haven't started to narrow my list down yet," Black said. "I've just been focusing on our season."
…who's 6'2", 260, and may be a DT at the next level, which would be good since Michigan 1) needs DTs and 2) can't find anyone to offer at the spot. There had been reports that Michigan had offered PA DE Dakota Royer, but that same article doesn't mention Michigan in its Royer blurb. He's visiting many places, none of them Michigan, and is bumped down to red.
The guy most likely to drop soon is OH DE Marcus Rush, who's declared Michigan his leader and is coming back for a second official visit in less than a month. That bodes well. Rush is an OLB/DE sort destined for the spinner and my god we need a cooler name for that.
The most important recruit in the history of the universe since Barkevious Mingo has declared Michigan his leader over a vast pack of the country's finest programs:
Athletic signal-caller Munchie Legaux has Michigan as his current leader, ESPN affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports. In addition to the Maize and Blue, Legaux's holding scholarship offers from Virginia, Tulane, Louisiana Tech and Florida International.
Well, Virginia was good once, I think. No need to fret about Michigan's offer, though. Legaux showed at a local combine and did very well:
The top player at quarterback was clearly Munchie Legaux of Edna Karr. There were some questions about him coming into this combine about his ability to stick at quarterback on the college level, but he answered everyone of them. Legaux made all the throws – from the three step drop to the seven step drop to the quick slant to the fly route. He showed touch, arm strength, nice footwork, and he threw a nice spiral. He is thin and will need to add weight to compete on the next level, but he showed on Sunday that his future position is going to be under center. He was outstanding all afternoon when he knew a lot of eyes were on him.
The top player at quarterback was clearly Munchie Legaux of Edna Karr. There were some questions about him coming into this combine about his ability to stick at quarterback on the college level, but he answered everyone of them.
Legaux made all the throws – from the three step drop to the seven step drop to the quick slant to the fly route. He showed touch, arm strength, nice footwork, and he threw a nice spiral. He is thin and will need to add weight to compete on the next level, but he showed on Sunday that his future position is going to be under center. He was outstanding all afternoon when he knew a lot of eyes were on him.
He's also in the Rivals 250, so chances are he picks up some more impressive offers soon. Unfortunately, chances are his leaderboard changes then, too: it doesn't mean much to be leading that motley crew of midmajors—by which I mean "teams that should drop to I-AA"—and Virginia. If (probably when) SEC teams come calling the bet here is that Michigan slips into a leading pack and is eventually discarded.
The South Will Be Mentioned Again
Elsewhere in Louisiana, I'd considered LA S Ronnie Vinson a considerable longshot but he does have Michigan in a leading group:
However, there's not a whole lot of meat here:
“They have great tradition so I think they’ll be able to get things going again,” he said about the Wolverines.
Despite his offer from Michigan, he says he hasn’t really gotten to know the coaches very well yet. “I haven’t talked to coach Rich Rodriguez at all and am still learning more about them.”
Lousiana kid with LSU and USC offers… eh… still a longshot.
That's also the conventional wisdom on SC RB Marcus Lattimore, but he's going to take a while and he's got a curious pair of officials scheduled for a guy staying home:
Lattimore has 25 offers with the latest from Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. His top-10 list includes Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn, Duke, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Michigan and North Carolina.
However, he says revisions could be made as new offers come in. “Those 10 schools will be my focus, but I’ve got to look at Penn State now,” Lattimore said. “That’s tradition there.”
Lattimore will take official visits to Penn State on Nov. 7 and Michigan on Nov. 21.
50-50 those officials actually come off. As of now, though, Michigan is definitely in the running. This is the second time Lattimore's asserted he'll take an official, so it's true until it isn't.
Love The Drake
TX RB Tony Drake is pretty fired up about his commitment:
Drake (5-9, 175), a Michigan fan since he was 5, rushed for 429 yards and three touchdowns in 2008 while splitting time in the backfield with James White. Drake, who averaged 7.8 yards per carry, chose Michigan over Georgia, Kansas, Texas and Boise State.
"I've always loved Michigan. I'm really ready to play against the Buckeyes," Drake said, referring to Michigan's top rival, Ohio State. "Playing Big 10 football is going to be really interesting. I think I'll be all right, because Michigan's offense is like Skyline's. We have the same plays."
Wouldn't get too hyped about the "chose Michigan over" section since I believe that's interest, not offers. Reinforcement for the Skyline-M offense conjunction, too.
The spread brings an interesting dynamic in recruiting: NFL coaches aren't big fans, but in high school the offense is even more ubiquitous than it is in college. Expect a lot of post hoc ergo propter hoc justifications from kids in the future. I committed to spread offense: I know all the plays. I committed to pro-style offense: I want to make the league. In reality kids are choosing based on academics. Never forget this.
Etc.: FL S Marvin Robinson coming up for the spring game. Will he commit? Eh, I'm betting he waits until football season is over because of his batty Buckeye head coach.