"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Above: Camp highlights from Michigan, courtesy of Allen Trieu. His defensive highlight reel, which inexplicably cannot be embedded, is available here.
One of the fastest-rising prospects in the state of Ohio is 2013 Cleveland Shaker Heights athlete De'Niro Laster. Despite being a part-time JV player as a sophomore, he recorded 65 tackles and six sacks at linebacker and tallied over 600 yards and six touchdowns as a receiver in 2010, according to Scout, and he's off to a strong start to his junior season. At around 6'3", 215 pounds and still growing, I think Laster projects as either a linebacker or tight end at the next level, although all four recruiting services currently list him as a wide receiver.
De'Niro currently holds offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Duke, and Temple, and already has interest from schools such as Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, Pitt, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and, of course, Michigan. I caught up with the rising junior last night for an interview, and he showed a lot of interest in the Wolverines:
ACE: How's your recruitment going so far? What teams have shown the most interest in you?
DE'NIRO: Everything is going really good. I've been getting a lot of interest from almost every school in the nation, and for different positions. I've been talking to a lot of coaches, a lot of coaches like me at linebacker now, outside linebacker, which I thought I could play at the next level. A lot of coaches still like me at receiver, but I play [well] at both, so I don't mind playing anywhere.
Some top programs that have been showing interest are Ohio State, Michigan is starting to show more interest, and I really like them, West Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, USC, Michigan State, it's really a lot. Notre Dame…
ACE: Do you have any early favorites out of that group?
DE'NIRO: I don't have a top [list], not in order. I like Michigan a lot. I've been trying to get in contact with them, but I know they're busy. The week of the Notre Dame game I talked to somebody and I was supposed to go up there for a game, and they wanted me to bring some film too from this year, but I wasn't able to make it. But I like Michigan, I like Ohio State, Indiana, West Virginia, [and] Tennessee, right now.
ACE: You mentioned trying to come and visit. Do you have any plans for visits this season, or are you just focusing on your season right now?
DE'NIRO: Our team isn't doing so well, so I'm just trying to finish up the season, but I do plan on making it up to the Ohio State-Michigan game. We play a lot on Saturday, so I haven't made it to any college games this year yet.
ACE: Which specific Michigan coaches have been in contact with you, and what position are the Wolverines recruiting you for?
DE'NIRO: I think [my Michigan recruitment] got started because I went to a camp, it was a Michigan camp, with Raw Talent, the people I work out with. I did really good, I shined there, I showed my talents up there. Coach Jeff [Hecklinski], he's the receivers coach, I talked to him once and I've been trying to contact him some more but he's been very busy. I don't know [regarding position]. They just want me to bring film up so they can decide. A lot of teams, they're recruiting me for different positions.
ACE: You've mentioned playing wide receiver and linebacker. Where do you think you'd fit best at the next level?
DE'NIRO: To be honest, at the next level, I think linebacker, just because I think I have a lot more to go. I'm 6'3", 215 right now, and I've been gaining 20 pounds every offseason, so I just think linebacker would be the best fit. I'm having a real good season at linebacker.
ACE: I know your team hasn't been doing too well, but how have you been doing personally this year?
DE'NIRO: On defense, I have 77 tackles so far and six sacks, and we've got four more games to play, so I've been doing real good as far as on defense. On offense, I'm versatile, I play anywhere my coaches want me to. They've moved me to receiver, then they moved me to tight end, run me some routes at tight end, so that's going good too. But our team hasn't been doing what we're capable of doing, so I haven't been able to really excel like I want to on the offensive side. I have three touchdowns, and somewhere around 25 to 30 catches, but I'm not sure exactly.
ACE: In terms of your game, what do you think are your biggest strengths, and what are you trying to work on before you get to the college level?
DE'NIRO: My biggest strengths, I know a lot about football, I think I have a high football IQ. I take pride in the game. I go study film by myself all the time, and I think that's been really helping me out a lot this season. As far as physically, I'm a lot stronger than a lot of people, so that makes a lot of stuff easier. During the offseason, I always work on speed and quickness, and I will always want to increase that some more. You can never not want to increase that.
ACE: Any idea when you'd want to start wrapping up your recruitment? Do you have a timeline in mind, or are things pretty open?
DE'NIRO: Things are pretty open. I wanted to, maybe if everything is going well, try to get it done before my senior year, but for right now everything is pretty much open.
Thanks to De'Niro for taking the time for the interview. One thing to keep an eye on in his recruitment is that he's teammates with highly-touted 2013 defensive tackle Donovan Munger, another recruit on Michigan's radar. There's been some talk the two could be a package deal, but it's very early on in the process and those things have a way of falling through pretty often. Ohio State is also going after Munger, so this could once again become a battle between the two fierce rivals, possibly for both Shaker Heights prospects.
Husband of Ohio charity board chairperson convicted of conspiring to bribe a public official with a Beanie Wells jersey.
Edit: Thanks to MGoUser Feat of Clay for pointing out a couple of errors in this post. Neiheiser himself was not on the board as I mistakenly said, but his wife is the Chairperson. And DiGeronimo dropped off the list of Trustees sometime between the 2010 auction and today. I've made the necessary corrections below.
This has flown under the radar, probably because we hadn't yet been introduced to these folks when the sentence was handed down.
Cleveland (AP) - A Gates Mills contractor indicted in the Cuyahoga County corruption investigation has been sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison.
The U.S. Attorney's office says William Neiheiser was sentenced Wednesday on four conspiracy counts.
Neiheiser pleaded guilty last year. Investigators say he plotted to bribe then-Cuyahoga County commissioner Jimmy Dimora with free or discounted home improvements and a Chris “Beanie” Wells football jersey that drew $3,600 at a charity auction.
Charity auction? Charity auction. Yes, this was the 2008 version of the Cornerstone of Hope auction, the auction that in 2011 saw Terrelle Pryor carrying envelopes of cash for his teammates. William Neiheiser's wife Linda is Chairperson of the Cornerstone board of trustees; Robert diGeronimo, the OSU booster who acknowledged providing said cash, also served on the board.
The WTAM story's a bit unclear, but the federal indictment of Dimora for corruption (charges for tax evasion are also pending) fills in some details:
- Neiheiser's company's was bidding on a project with the county. Neiheiser told Commissioner Dimora that if he won the contract "they [Dimora and Neiheiser] could have fun for two years."
- At the Cornerstone of Hope auction, Neiheiser suggested that Dimora should buy the Beanie Wells jersey. He did, for $3600.
- The next day, Dimora cashed a check from Neiheiser for $3600.
I don't know if Neiheiser gets an honorarium for serving on the charity's board, but if he does it would close the circle on the cash very nicely. Everybody ends up whole, and Dimora has a Beanie jersey and a tax deduction for his contribution to the charity (the net of the $3600 over market value of the jersey). [Ed.- Per Feat of Clay, neither Neiheiser nor his wife receives an honorarium.]
And the FBI and IRS start nosing around a charity dealing in OSU football memorabilia, and TP gets questioned about it during his supplemental draft reinstatement interviews.
Somebody should do a documentary, following each OSU jersey from its birth in a garment factory through its life on the football field to its eventual demise in an FBI evidence bin. Federal drug bust? Corruption investigation? You never know where it will end up....
(The attempted bribe didn't work, by the way. Neiheiser didn't win the contract.)
I left a fair amount of Brian's analysis out of this MPP because it didn't translate particularly well to video. If you haven't read Brian's original PP, go do it now. If you have, go do it again.
Setup: Michigan has it first-and-ten on their own 38 on their first drive of the game. They come out in a 'power' shotgun (a 12-gauge, if you will) with two backs and a TE, and will run an iso to the right utilizing combo blocks on the NT and a lead blocker (Hopkins).
Wha'hoppon: Schofield and Molk plant the NT like he's a burlap-wrapped sapling. Omameh and Huyge single-block their men halfway to the bench, Denard freezes the backside DE with his ever-present run threat, and Hopkins roars into the hole. He gets his helmet across the LB and blasts him out of the hole, collecting a safety who really sucks at geometry in the process. This turns out to be key to the play, since it both completely opens the hole and eliminates the man-advantage Minnesota had by walking an extra safety down into the box. Toussaint flies through the hole untouched until he gets well into the secondary, and breaks an ankle-tackle on his way to a 35-yard gain.
Full YouTube link is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U0Wh_TNn5E
I know, I know...it's waaaay to early. How could I possibly know? How could I possibly predict redshirts for kids who are in high school? "Oh wonderful, guess we don't need spring, summer and fall to figure out the depth chart!" ...and so on, and so forth.
But it's a message board. It's for fun. For the occasional prediction or daydream. So for those getting all huffy...breathe, I'm a fan focused on this year just like you. This is purely information (or speculation) to build on for the future.
With that said...my '12-'13 Depth Chart!
1. Denard Robinson
2. Devin Gardner
3. Russell Bellomy
1. Fitzgerald Toussaint
2. Vincent Smith
3. Thomas Rawls
4a. Stephan Hopkins
4b. Justice Hayes
1a. Joey Kerridge
1b. Stephan Hopkins
rs: Sione Houma
1. Darryl Stonum
2. Jeremy Jackson
1. Roy Roundtree
2. Jerald Robinson
1. Jeremy Gallon
2. Drew Dileo
1. Brandon Moore
2. Ricardo Miller
3. Devin Funchess
rs: A.J. Williams
1. Taylor Lewan
2. Erik Gunderson
3. Kyle Kalis*
rs: Ben Braden
rs: Erik Magnuson
1. Ricky Barnum
2. Chris Bryant
1. Rocko Khoury
2. Jack Miller
1. Patrick Omameh
2. Chris Bryant
rs: Caleb Stacey
1. Michael Schofield
2. Erik Gunderson
3. Kyle Kalis*
rs: Blake Bars
1. Craig Roh
2. Jibreel Black
3. Frank Clark
4. Brennen Beyer
rs: Mario Ojemudia
rs: Pharaoh Brown
1. Quinton Washington
2. Richard Ash
1. Will Campbell
2. Kenny Wilkins
3. Ondre Pipkins**
rs: Matt Godin
rs: Chris Wormley
1a. Jibreel Black
1b. Nathan Brink
2. Keith Heitzman
3. Chris Rock
rs: Tom Strobel
1. Brandin Hawthorne
2. Desmond Morgan
3a. Antonio Poole
3b. Joe Bolden
1. Kenny Demens
2a. Mike Jones
2b. James Ross
rs: Kaleb Ringer
1. Jake Ryan
2. Cam Gordon
3. Jordan Paskorz
rs: Royce Jenkins-Stone
1. Blake Countess
2. Gregg Brown
3a. Delonte Hollowell
3b. Terrence Talbott
rs: Terry Richardson
1. JT Floyd
2. Courtney Avery
3. Raymon Taylor
rs: Anthony Standifer
1. Thomas Gordon
2. Carvin Johnson
3. Tamani Carter
rs: Jarrod Wilson
1. Jordan Kovacs
2. Marvin Robinson
3. Josh Furman
rs: Allen Gant
* - I don't think Kalis will redshirt. I think he'll play OT his freshman year before moving inside to LG for the remainder of his career
** - I don't think Pipkins will redshirt. I think he'll play DT his freshman year before moving to NG for the remainder of his career.
FB & Slot - Notice these positions are in italics. I realize you can't have 12 players on the field at once. This is my way of recognizing that.
The Ohio Supreme Court was not impressed by their mediation request.
"Sports Fan Digs Deep, Finds Something to Complain About"
Stupid Hoke, not giving Gardner enough snaps against Eastern...