"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Another season is nearly in the books and it's a good time to take a look back at prior classes that make up the bedrock of the 2015 Wolverines. We all get excited about 'crooting!!! and the 2012 class was supposed to be the base of a team that was going to take out Bama ...what with an incredible array of OL and LBs. Not so much. In fact, those were 2 of the 4 position groups along with rb and QB that have mostly haunted UM the past few yrs.
Below I have the 2012 recruiting class shown by original rank per 247 compositive (which rolls together all the services into 1 measure) and then a re-rank I did on how those players actually should have been ranked. This is a good time to analyze them as many will run of eligibility in a month, and 1 already was an early entry so we have a great body of work for them all.
This was Brady Hoke's first full class and came on the heels of the class that shall never be mentioned again (2010), and the hybrid class of 2011 that was part rr and part hoke.
2012's class was light years ahead of 2010 and quite a bit ahead of 2011 but certainly did not live up to its billing as #6 national rank. There were a lot of the usual misses any class will have but where UM really missed out in this class is finding a good group of guys who challenged for conference honors. When laid out side by side with OSU's similarly ranked class and MSU's lesser class (sigh) you see the differences in stark contrast.
Here are my more granular designations as I did not want to just stick to generic "4 star" or "3 star" because a high level 4 star ranked #75 should add more value than a borderline 4 star near #300. Just the same as a high end 3 star ranked #400 should be able to add more to a team than someone ranked #850.
|5 = top 35||Braylon Edwards, Jake Long||Nationally elite, top 3 at position in nation|
|High 4 = top 150, excluding top 35||Mike Martin, Jake Ryan||1st/2nd team Big 10, top end multi year starter|
|Low 4 = 151 - 350||Ryan Van Bergen||Borderline conf honors candidate, very good multi year starter|
|High 3 = 351-500||Fitz Toussaint||Competent Big 10 player who starts at least a year|
|Low 3 = 501-1000||Will Campbell||A contributor in 2 deep, maybe some starts|
|2 = >1000||Just a guy||Special teams only / gets garbage time vs MAC teams|
|1||Most of 2010 class!||"Bust"|
Original Ranking out of HS
|Name||Adj *||HS *||+/-|
Note - Column 4 is how many "steps" above or below a player was from their HS rank upon re-rank. For example if a player was ranked out of HS as a "high 4" but in reality is a "high 3" he gets two dashes meaning he was 2 levels below expectation. And the opposite for vice versa - if ranked "high 3" out of HS but plays like a "high" 4 he gets two +.
* I believe these players have a strong chance to upgrade their ranking with a strong rs sr year.
** Left program early
Caveat - yes, every reader won't agree with me on every ranking so countless "you ranked Desmond Morgan too low!!!" comments won't add much to the discussion.
Discussion Points - talk of peers
First let's give Brady Hoke credit for one thing - player retention. It is rare to have a class with this many players and have only 1 (Kaleb Ringer) leave the program early. It will be very different in the Jim Harbaugh era. We also didn't have any career ending injuries in this group so that's another positive - Hoke could recruit generally healthy people? So yeah we have that.
Before we get into individual player discussion let me put a framework out there on why UM is lagging its peers at a granular level using a position group. Forget the OL guys which are obvious - we had two top 100 HS OL which rather than being stars are "servicable"...including "THE MOST college ready guard we've seen in a decade!!". But let's talk linebackers which I think is a more nuanced discussion and where the gap between MSU/OSU player development and UM's (up until this year lies).
OSU is our peer in recruiting so the first discussion point revolves around them. They have 3 absolute studs in their LB core all coming from different parts of the recruiting ranks. McMillan is a top 35 player, a 5 star - he is developing as expected ala Peppers rather than "busting" or performing well below expectationa ala Pipkins... or borderline 5 stars such as Green and Kalis. So you get a 5 star and he delivers - a nice concept. I think we should follow this philosophy of OSU.
The other 2 guys are more interesting. Joshua Perry is in this same 2012 class - he was ranked 131 in the nation, well behind Bolden... and bookmarked by James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone. Basically you could throw those 4 in a bottle, shake it around, and you should in 4 years have 4 quite similar players coming out the other end. Not so much.
Perry is about to be a very highly drafted NFL player. Meanwhile we have 3 guys in the same class with similar rank out of HS that are eh...."competent Big 10 starters, with a hope of being a UDFA or 7th round pick type for some of them". One of those 3 barely played his first 3 years and only as a reclamation project under Harbaugh had any contribution. Now you do not expect to go 3/3 necessarily but we had three top 150 LBs and none matched Joshua Perry. I think we should follow the philosophy of OSU where top 150 recruits are college stars.
Then you go to Darron Lee. Lee was ranked #633 in the nation. He is a "Peppers level" talent who if he declares early after his rs so year is going to be drafted mid to late in the 1st round per many mock drafts. So it goes without saying the Buckeyes "lucked out" here or just did a great job with this guy.
But comparing those 3 vs our 3 and you have 3 "sideline to sideline guys" who wreck havoc and are athletes of high level. And we had the same sort of guys out of HS.... if not better on average.
As for MSU LBs (which probably will be the best crew in 2016 in the Big 10) it's the normal low to mid 3 star guys who look like world beaters often (not always this year as they had a shit DB core to compensate for). Ed Davis? Detroit kid - ranked #587. A beast last year (and every year he played UM) and was projecting to be their best LB. Darien Harris - ranked #619. A beast this year. These 2 guys flow to the ball well, and get there with violence. Bullough? ranked #570. Not as good as his bro but a good effective MLB. So that would have been your starting 3 for MSU if healthy - a bunch of mid 3 stars who "feel" a lot more rangy, fast, and violent than our 3 LBs who came out of HS vastly more regarded and top 150. Even reschke who was ranked near #200 and is a youngin feels more effective than our guys right now. He has really popped the last 4-5 games this year incl v UM. It was startling to see how fast MSUs LBs were vs OSU (and yes the excellent MSU DL helped) compared to our guys. And how well they wrapped up and physically whomped on OSU. This has become a regular routine now at MSU, rinse wash repeat in development of those defensive players and I look forward to the upcoming time we can say the same.
Speaking of rankings our best LB is probably Desmond Morgan who was a sub 1000 recruit and has played way over his level. But our big 3 LBs in 2012 were "misses" insofar as being the type of players OSU and MSU has. This should have been a stellar crew of LBs that was the strength of the D based on HS ranks. Of course this was a chronic situation across the board in the Hoke era. Which we are still trying to escape the gravitational pull of.
I write this section not to fellate our 2 peers but to give a comparison ....and also to frame why certain players are a "3H" in my rerank and not "4L" or "4H" which those with maize glasses on will feel I graded too low.
Discussion Points - About Us
At a 40K point of view this class was "solid" in terms of putting out players to get UM to be a competitive team but lacking enough of the high end stars to get UM past "competitive". These stars would be re-ranked 4H (high 4s) while conference stalwarts - what I deem 4L (low 4s) - are also lacking. Out of 25 players, we had four who I'd put into those 2 categories. That's bad. Especially when 15 players out of HS were in those 2 categories of "top 350" nationally. Even accounting for the normal losses of player to attrition, bust, injuries you should get 8-9+ top end players out of 15 ranked so high. That didn't happen in this class.
Further the far right column tells the tale ... the more "++" you get the more you outperformed your HS rank. The more "--" you get the more you underperformed. Flat means you came in as expected. UM had way way way too many "----" in 2012.
I did asterisk 3 players in particular as I could see them jumping 1 category with a big 2016 - Chesson, Clark, and Wormley. So still TBD on those guys in particular.
Sidebar: "How could you rate Wormley so low!???!" Again what is a 4H? That's a 1st/2nd team All Big 10 who is a bonafide conf star. Wormely flashes that but is not consistent. Wormley is not quite there - some games he looks like a "5" and others you barely hear from him. Joshua Perry is a 4H, Wormley is not there yet. But he should be in a year.
Similarly I see Chesson potentially getting to the 4 star level based on how he ended this year - until mid season this year he was a blocking demon who could not track long balls well but was fast - so nice potential but production lagging. Now more recently, he is looking like a potential #1 next year if he can extrapolate those last 3-4 games. Darboh on the other hand I see as a possession type wr with generally good hands although he muffed a few vs OSU; I don't see the same ceiling there.
So again, for a lot of these players their grade is complete as they graduate. But a few can still improve. Even with said improvement this was not the #6 class ...nor near it.
Let's look at the top of the re-rank board.
Funchess was a potential stud who was left out to dry with a PTSD QB and his own reported lack of "go get em". Scary to think what he could do in a Pac 12 or Big 12 offense. Still he was enough of a physical freak to compensate and had 1.5 great yrs at a very high level. He'd be a guy ranked 50-75 out of HS if we could do it all over again. (original #260)
Henry was the only massive outlier in this class ala in Jake ryan mode. He was the lowest rated recruit in the class at #944. That is borderline 2/3 star. If memory serves he was also a guy who committed in the last week of signing period. Thankfully. He looked quite good in 2014 with some serious flashes but injuries and lack of consistency hurt him. This year he started relative quietly but was working thru a bit of a position switch and the back 2/3rds of the year was the 1st or 2nd best DL guy along with Glasgow.
Wormley (discussed above - potential to be a 4H next year) and Wilson round out our guys that are borderline all conference candidates at this point IMO. Jarrod Wilson is not an athletic freak and doesn't make many wow plays as Brian says but unless you are Ed reed I don't want to notice my safeties much. He is a guy I imagine we won't realize what he contributed until we see some busted plays next year down the middle. I have him as a low 4 and that's what his recruiting pedigree would project him to be.
But those are our 4 "really good" players in this class - again the #6 class in the country. We fell short in many places.
Let's talk guys who more or less did what was expected.
Outside of Wilson I have Ben Braden, Drake Johnson, and (thanks to Harbaugh) Sione Houma in this category of matching HS ranking. Braden was a high 3 star player and you expect to get solid if not spectacular production out of that rank including at least a year starting - Ben is giving us that. He was an athletic marvel who needed polish; thankfully Drevno has some Pledge(tm). Drake has been injured often but was a low ranked recruit at least in a Michigan world at #936. Much like Henry that is borderline 2/3 star. All you ask is for a contributor at 2 deep with that rank and we got it. Houma was probably a "2" in the re-rank at this time last year as a special teams guy who was parked behind Kerridge, a walk on. But "The Flow" has picked it up this year, especially the back half of it and sort of is a Will Campbell type in terms of coming on late in his career to be a solid citizen.
Let's talk about guys outperforming HS rank a bit.
I really only have 2 guys here - Chesson and Clark. And both could improve on that more next year. Both were in the 500 to 600 range or the top end of the "low 3" star range. Chesson should be a low 4 next year or..... if all falls correctly might sneak into high 4 if he can truly put it all together with a QB that finds him enough. As for Clark I like him maybe more than the Mgo community seems to. Yes he doesnt turn his head around enough but you rarely see him get depanted and he always seems to be near where he should be. It's a new position for him and experience will only help at this very difficult spot on the field. A year ago at this time he was a 1 or 2 star in my re-rank - a safety who basically plays against App State and then gets benched. He has been one of the few massive reclamation projects in this class and if he improves on that next year could really be a boon to the defense.
Let's talk about the 8 guys ranked in the top 150 out of HS.
By and large this was a disappointing group relative to expectation. This should be an area littered with future 2nd thru 4th round NFL draft picks, and 1st/2nd team All Conference players. Even accounting for busts & injuries there should have been 5 very high level players here - frankly I only count Wormley as projecting to be that.
The 2 OL were discussed above but "THE MOST college ready guard in decades" is a guy who struggles often in year 3 of starting - yes it's been 3 years. (2013/2014/2015) Has he made some improvement ? Yes. But if he played for Illinois you wouldn't be surprised or see him as an outlier on that team. I have Kalis as a "competent Big 10 player" aka a high 3. Instead of being #49 in the country he is more like that generic guy in the 400s.
Magnuson has had some injury issues (2014) but likewise started on that awful 2013 line for long periods and is starting in 2015. He doesn't stand out in any way. Again coming in at #83 in the country he should be tracking for conf honors and be a stalwart. Instead - like Kalis - he is a guy if we re-ranked today would be a generic decent OL guy in the 400s. Both these guys - as a floor - should be "Michael Schofield types".
Ondre Pipkins to me was the Dennis Norfleet of MGoboard - far too adored relative to production. I never saw "it" from him even when he was healthy. Now I don't expect the world out of a true freshman DT but when Mone played in a similar role I noticed Mone - I rarely noticed Ondre his freshman year. Then when he was healthy at the start of his SO year - he was "just a guy" to me. Probably if healthy he was a competent plugger type but difficult to tell - I felt like he would have been passed by both Mone and Glasgow and been 3rd string and marginalized even if healthy. Hence the low 3 star (which is a wide range between 500 and 1000) - a huge variance from him #60 HS rank. If only he played as well as he impersonated Brady Hoke.
Bolden is Bolden man. "It is what it is" is the trademark of his legacy. On paper this guy is everything you want in terms of attitude but it is just not there on the field. Seeing him hit and bounce off Elliott last Saturday repeatedly just said it all. He is a decent Big 10 player but again should be found on the roster of an Illinois rather than Michigan. Nowhere near his top 100 rank.
The story of one James Ross is a confusing tale. He shot out of the cannon as an undersized true freshman and was an immediate starter who piled up tons of stats. You sit there and think "put on 15 lbs, come back as a SO and we have ourselves a prime time 1st team Big 10 player in 2 years". It just never worked out from there. Production fell off as a SO, weight gain didn't come easy and then he was marginalized by the Mattison crew as a Jr as UM went mostly to a 2 LB lineup with Jake and Bolden. He did finally put on some lbs as a Senior but once again was sort of marginalized with a lot of 5 DB sets. If you had asked me post freshman year I'd have a high 4 projection on Ross in due time, but in the end I could only give him a high 3 - well below par for the 115th ranked player in the nation.
Royce Jenkins-Stone was a re-ranked 1 star bust a year ago at this time. Thankfully #Harbaugh and we have a Will Campbell type player now who did nearly nothing for 3 years and then came on to have a functional senior year. Now if Mario had been healthy he might have still fallen to a 2 as he would not have played much injuries gave him an opportunity at a new position and mostly did a solid job from all accounts. Not a game changer but not someone who kills you when he is out there. Enough to move him from a 1 to a low 3. But again way below expectation (#139) as he and Ross were expected to be book end OLB stars for this program.
We end this group with Terry Richardson. Look every class has a bust or three so not going to hate on Hoke for this - it happens. While undersized I don't find that an excuse - you see some bad ass small corners who at least contribute in some fashion (Ty Mathieu, Will Likely, that short dude from OSU 15 years ago who had a long NFL career whose name I can't recall off top of head). This was the biggest bust in the class ..."he had a Bama offer!!"
Talking the low 4s out of HS
Generally I think the guys in this group and the guys in the high 3s are what marks the difference between top programs with elite development vs the masses. This is where guys like Dantonio ply his trade. UM had a mixed bag in this class with Funchess popping out to the upside and Tom Strobel being the big miss. The rest of the group is generally ok-ish but again - not the type of upside development you need to be a top tier program. Multiple guys in this group should be significant "plus players".
Norfleet - I am not going to get into that deep. I was surprised at his ranking actually considering his lack of speed and lack of a college position. Maybe HS evaluators thought he was a slower Sproles or could be a slot wr. I don't know - I never saw it with this guy but I know he is loved by some segments of the fanbase due to "always just "missing breaking one all the way!!!" If re-ranked no way this is 1 of the top 200 players in the country - I have him in the 500 to 1000 range as a low 3 star.
Darboh was touched on above. He is a solid #2 wr I suppose but I'd like to see him make make the regular catches more often. He has some spectacular grabs but not only in the OSU game but a few others he had some misses that were pretty routine catches. He is not an elite athlete so he can be your possession type guy. He was probably ranked 100-150 spots too high out of HS but is a competent Big 10 starter.
I would have liked to see a full year out of Mario. We won't ever know what he could have been this year but with so much attention on Henry, Glasgow, and Wormley I imagine he would have benefited from a lot of 1 v 1s. Hard to judge him as he was a backup behind an above average guy in Clark for years but I had him as a high 3 star in the re-rank.
AJ Williams was on the way to bust category until #Harbaugh. He was probably the exact opposite of Norfleet a year ago - one of the least liked UM players by the Mgo community. Hands of stone ...1 catch in his career, etc. While not a guy who knocks your socks off now and still quite overrated out of HS, he became a competent Big 10 player his senior year. Just nowhere near HS expectation.
Strobel was the 2nd big miss in this class and again - it is going to happen. This one was a head scratcher as he was listed as a DT most of his career despite seeming undersized. Maybe it was very apparent to the staff(s) he did not have the edge explosion you want in an end early in his career but for coaches who had Keith Heitzman as an edge rusher you'd think Strobel could at least get a try on the outside D-line as a backup guy. Instead he was just a non contributor. Until our 8th nose tackle got hurt this yr he was playing backup OL somehow ...until getting a chance vs Indiana and being obliterated.
Misc and Sundry Dudes
A few guys left here. Godin is Godin. A decent backup Big 10 player; 3rd string for us - probably could be 2nd string for some lower end Big 10 teams. He was ranked a bit too high out of HS as a top 400 player IMO but is a solid backup type who I have as a low 3 star in rerank (again thats a vast range btw 500 and 1000 and he probably would sit somewhere in the 500-700 range). Ringer transferred out early and best as I can tell has not had much impact at lower levels of football - so he was very overrated at #424 out of HS. Blake Bars is in the Strobel category - from all accounts a nice guy (often see him visiting kids at the hospital) but just never found a way to even get into the 2 deep even during the hell of the 2013 OL. I gave Gant a re-rank of 2 stars instead of 1 because I *think* he gets some play on special teams? If I am wrong on that he goes to a 1. I would be surprised if Bars and Gant (along with a few others higher on the page) are here for their 5th year as they seem destined for Heitzman treatment.
And there it is.
We'll take a look at the 2013 class (#4 in the nation) a year from now but my early preview from a curosry scan is it will look a lot like this class - a few stars in Butt and Lewis and a whole lot of disappointment mixed in with decent Big 10 performers but not the type that gets you to within 2 iterations of OSU. These 2 classes - 2012 & 2013 - were supposed to be the base of NC contending teams. "It is what is is."
Forgive me if I misremembered this, but I had a hefty helping of beer prior to my stadium entry.
Remember last week when we were speculating who the 'extra' senior honorees were? Why would we honor extra guys? Were they going somewhere? Take the jacket off... you're making me nervous.
Well, if my memory serves, Butt, Chesson, AND Darboh were all honored during the Senior celebration. Does this... indicate anything? Are we losing our QB and our entire receiver corp?
First, I will apologize for the extreme tardiness of this little feature - my trip to the Game was about 20 hours removed from a trip to the ER for what turns out to be one of those upper respiratory infections that involve a lot of unpleasantness, not the least of which is a nasty cough and the need for something with guaifenesin in it so you can in fact breathe normally for extended periods. So, yeah, going to The Game might not have been the best thing to do - not just for psychological reasons, but Saturday night and Sunday were....not pretty. Sleeping in a recliner to ensure proper drainage and within feet of a humidifer AND next to half a pharmacy of crap is not a good look.
Anyway, we made it through - just barely, but we did. It's Monday and we're slowly getting back into work or school routines or whatever. We've had time to process The Game and plenty of time to discuss its implications. Of course, we're here to talk about the fucks we gave, so let's delve into that.
We gave only 393 fucks during the Ohio State game - before you ask for a recount though, consider that a lot of people gave their fucks in person for this one, either at The Game or at viewing parties. Interestingly, the Ohio State game tends to be one of the "lesser attended" games online. The thread itself was not that much larger that the board average of 2,542 posts either (2,821 for this game). That was fairly consistently across most words - lighter than normal usage.
We gave 110 shits, which for this board is a middling performance, but 23 instances of fire, which is close to average, and this time, nearly all of them directed at Durkin and Baxter.
The year-to-date summary is below:
So, like every year we've done this, "fuck" is the board standard. We've used it to express elation this season, and then we've used it - as a fair number of us did on Satudary - to express frustration. The same can be said for many of these, and there's a comprehensive review coming in a few weeks which will have some context analysis.
Here is efficiency vs. percent of yearly total:
It is interesting to note that for all the visceral reactions in the Ohio State threads, they do not account for even 10% of the total for the season. The game which made us blow our stacks the most per capita is still Indiana, which is pretty easy to understand, I think. Actually, the overall efficiency fell off from even Penn State to 2.33, and adjusted for the original six in the analysis, it goes down to 4.20. That number is actually consistent with losses that we have taken reasonably well overall. I think some folks that I ran into after the game weren't even as upset as they were disappointed with how it happened, but everyone is different.
Here's the bar chart for the Original Six:
The season analysis will bear this out when you see the normalized graphs, but "fire" was a steady hum that you could barely hear, and for a great portion of the season, it was us complaining about the Big Ten officials giving, say, the Hoosiers a free throw for a pass interference call against us, or their inability to distinguish targeting from canned artichoke hearts. "Fuck" was much more variable, and the difference between the first and second half of the seasons is almost literally night and day with that and a couple other words.
Here's the Mood Chart:
Frustrating game indeed. Actually, perhaps as frustrating in some ways as several others were joyous in some level. Incidentally, I know I keep saying this chart will change - it will, it has actually. I simply left the damn file on a USB drive which is currently sitting at my desk....at home. Never make a copy of a spreadsheet and then forget where the hell it is until you get to work.
Clay Helton named the permanent head coach at USC.
I wish I was making this up.
Motel 6 Cactus Bowl is new name of bowl game putting Big 12 vs. Pac-12. “We’ll leave the light on”— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 23, 2015
The players better have to stay at Motel 6.
Let's go ahead and try and get ahead of this before it gets out of hand with all of the hot takes.
For your reference...
"WAAAY Too Early" '16-'17 Depth Chart: http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/annual-waaay-too-early-depth-chart-16-17