i refuse to even consider this a possibility
Incompetence on a level that Michigan unlocked against Michigan State and Nebraska cannot be achieved by one man or even one team (MSU is good at defense, and hey, Nebraska did some good things). There's still the possibility that Borges and his charges are sabotaging themselves, but since that's impossible to prove let's permit that they do in fact wish to progress the ball forward, and parse out how much responsibility lies in the various inadvertent factors.
I thought I'd take us back through a timeline of the events that led to the state of the offensive roster, picking up blame on the way.
I wish we could blame this whole thing on the old coach. Wouldn't it be the most ironic thing if the great guru of offense was really at fault for Michigan's offensive woes? There are really three things I think we can lay at his feet, in order of importance:
- Hired DCs he couldn't work with and made them run defenses they didn't understand, thus dooming Michigan to another coaching transition.
- Recruited just one OL in the 2010 class.
- Didn't recruit a single tight end or fullback, nor a running back who can block except Smith, whom he didn't redshirt.
Michigan's 2009-2011 tight end recruits.
Tight End, Briefly
We've had #1 out, and #3 is debatable: Y U NO RECRUIT THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF BORGES'S OFFENSE, GUY WHO INVENTED THE OFFENSE THAT MADE BORGES'S OFFENSE OBSOLETE? I can't blame him for skipping fullbacks or running backs who can block since he had a track record of developing fullbacks from the walk-on program, while his backs, e.g. Toussaint, were recruited to operate in space. I wish he'd redshirted Vincent Smith, or gotten a medical for him.
But I do think he could have seen the need for tight ends even before the abilities of Koger and Webb opened his eyes to that. Rodriguez ignored the position for two years, and when he started looking again it was for the 2011 class that was devastated by Rosenberg and The Process: Hoke and Borges went on the hunt for last-minute TEs in 2011 and came back with Chris Barnett, a vagabond of the type that Michigan typically stays away from. Barnett transferred almost right away; I put that on having just a few weeks.
Tight end is another position that typically requires a lot of development, but Michigan knew by mid-2011 that its 2013 starters would be, at most, true sophomores, and knew a year later that neither of their 2012 recruits were much for blocking. At this point any sane human would not have made the ability of their tight ends to block a key component of their offense.
Offensive Line, Longly
|Rodriguez put all of his eggs in the 2011 OL recruiting basket, and Michigan ended up with all their eggs in a project recruit's basket.|
As for the OL, the failure to recruit just one offensive lineman in 2010 is the centerpiece of modern bitching. Is that fair? Here's a line from Brian in Mike Schofield's recruiting post, dated June 2009:
"Michigan didn't need a huge offensive line class one year after taking six big uglies and graduating zero, but you never want fewer than three and you always want quality."
So yes it is established MGoPrecedent that fewer than three OL in a class no matter how much meat you have stacked for the meat god is not cutting it.
Offensive line recruiting happens a bit earlier than most other positions. Since they're unlikely to be starting for several years (even redshirt freshmen are pretty rare) OL recruits rightly look for coaching stability more than early opportunity. The 2009 class was narrowing down their lists before the 2008 season, and so on. With that said here's a timeline of Michigan offensive line recruiting:
2009 (recruited in early 2008): Tackles Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield, and guard Quinton Washington. This despite a huge/mixed haul from 2008, when RR added Barnum and Omameh to Carr's class of O'Neill, Mealer, Wermers and Khoury. For the record O'Neill left the team in June 2009, and Wermers was gone in July (though his World of Warcraft account was presumably active), so the coaches wouldn't have adjusted to either of those departures at that time. Meat for 2013 Meat God: three redshirt seniors, one a potential Jake Long 2.0, can't do more because there's still six guys from the previous class.
[Fail leaps atop fail, after the jump]
I was wondering if you could answer the question as to why Jeremy Clark and Michigan would pursue a grey shirt versus a preferred walk-on. In both cases the player has to pay their own way until a scholarship is available. But with a grey shirt you can't practice with the team at all. Is the thinking that they would then get a psuedo sixth year? I would think having the player on campus and practicing with the team as a walk-on that first year would be better than hoping he earns a scholarship by sitting around doing nothing for a year.
Also, I know we all share concerns about the size of this class and where the scholarships will come from - but I have a more specific question for you. How do you feel about only taking one at the DT spot? My thinking is that it is one of the hardest positions to project (cough-Will Campbell-cough), you need a healthy rotation of players, and you need size. I have no idea why the staff wouldn't want two true defensive tackles in this class given the lack of depth and talent at that position. I would even take one lower rated DT in this class if you get a star DT with another scholarship. I think that's far more important than just about every other position at this point.
On grayshirting: you do get a psuedo-sixth year since your eligibility clock does not start ticking until the subsequent year if you are a mid-year enrollee. Clark could enroll, redshirt, and have four years of eligibility starting in in 2014. Enrolling in the fall starts your clock, so the fall of 2012 would be Clark's redshirt year. Also, being a preferred walk-on costs money.
I'm not actually sure what path Clark will take since grayshirting is an overloaded term that refers to both enrolling without a scholarship and not enrolling until winter. It could be either depending on how quickly Michigan thinks they'd want to deploy Clark and if he wants to/can make the financial sacrifice to enroll without a scholarship.
On the defensive tackle spot: I don't think anyone gets Michigan's plan there. When the 2012 class hits campus the only potential nose tackles on the roster are Quinton Washington and Richard Ash; the only three-techs are Will Campbell and Terrance Talbott. Both Talbott and Ash have been dogged with rumors they have health issues and neither was exactly a slam-dunk recruit. No one has played; Michigan took no true DTs a year ago. Campbell will be a senior and Washington a junior.
Meanwhile, the defensive line sees more rotation than any other position in football—Michigan rotated four guys last year even when the options were walk-ons and journeymen like Adam Patterson.
So it seems nuts to me to turn down a consensus four star DT with the offers to match, as it seems they will if Pipkins and O'Brien both want to sign up. Even if they can move some combination of Godin/Wormley/Strobel/Rock/Wilkins inside, those guys are all tall dudes who probably can't deal with the nose.
That leaves essentially no one after Martin graduates. Hoke's made all the right moves so far but if he takes a scholarship fullback over a desperately-needed nose tackle people should question that.
First, the giant scoreboard at Yost: on the post today it indeed appears to be gigantic and I was wondering if you had a chance yet to see if this thing might interfere with sightlines across the ice or corner to corner? Don't know if anyone remembers/cares, but there was a giant block hangy-downy scoreboard there back at Yost in the early 80's and it hung down too far. If you were sitting really high up in the endzones or even in the top couple of rows on the sidelines, the scoreboard actually hung down far enough to block your view across the ice. It was worse than obstructed view at Tiger Stadium, though I guess that might be because Larry Herndon never ran very far. So, the end-zone scoreboards were actually an innovation kind of because there were then no seats obstructed by the scoreboard hanging down. Someone must have thought about that one before they hung this thing, right? I am suspicious of change, get off the lawn, I miss the Apple IIC, etc.
The board is currently closer to the ice than it will be when it is finally deployed, and while it's certainly larger than the current one I don't think it's significantly taller. And the top couple rows on the sidelines are now usually vacant because of overhangs.
Second, we've seen a lot of decision matrices about 4th down, go for it vs. field goal vs punt on different places on the field. Would it be possible for someone to do a historic survey?
For example, I bet that matrix looked a lot different for a 1972 Bo team than for a 1998 Lloyd team because of the efficiency - or not - of the passing game back then. Bo going for it on 4th and 7 with his option teams was a totally different animal than Carr going for it on 4th and 7 with Henne and Braylon. I guess what I'm asking is, can those 4th and charts be adjusted backwards for inflation? I bet they would explain a lot about the evolution of 4th-and theory and about Carr's reluctance to not punt from the opponent's 41.
A historic survey is outside the scope of a mailbag response but it's probably unnecessary anyway since the Mathlete tackled something similar in a past diary that got bumped to the front page. Two charts, one for high offensive expectation…
…and one for low offensive expectation…
…show the increasing viability of the punt as scoring decreases.
Game theory in the paleolithic era was probably better than it was over the past 20 years. It seems we've passed an inflection point where going for it is the choice, but teams are still being coached by guys who came up under old school coaches who had totally different probabilities in their head. It's like adding four cards to a deck and asking 1950s poker players to cope—eventually they'll make a mistake because the game has changed.
I think it is worth noting that the West Coast offense, which Borges favors, can be traced directly back to Sid Gillman, the same Sid Gillman whose offensive style was loathed by manball loving Woody Hayes when the two of them were rivals at Cincinnati and Miami of Ohio respectively. Also, the most famous west coast quarterback of all time is Joe Montana, and he was hardly an immobile pocket passer.
I am probably being overly optimistic, but do you think there is a possibility that Michigan's offense in 2011 will resemble Auburn's 2010 offense in that it will be a hybrid of spread elements and pro-style elements? Yes I realize that Denard's skill set is not identical to Cam Newton's, but based on some of the remarks Borges has made and Hoke's likely realization that Michigan fans aren't going to be patient for wins, I think this is the most likely direction for the offense.
I'm not sure I agree with the above emailer's police work there. Auburns' offense worked so well because they didn't even need any semblance of a pro-style attack because an inverted veer with Cam Newton was short-yardage gold. Newton was recruited to run the same offense he did run. When there was a mismatch between the offensive coordinator's vision, that of the head coach, and available personnel, both Tony Franklin and Tommy Tuberville got fired. Auburn is not a good analogue.
I'm not sure if there is in fact a good analogue for the transformation Denard is going to be asked to make. Usually when you have a talent like him at quarterback the head coach doesn't get fired because you win a bunch of games. I've searched my memory banks for an example of a successful returning spread quarterback dealing with a new, more pro-style system and can only recall the most ironic possible name: Pat White.
White, of course, was coming off of West Virginia's 48-28 demolition of Oklahoma; WVU was third nationally in rushing offense, 15th in yardage, and 9th in scoring. The next year Rodriguez was out and Bill Stewart brought in Jeff Mullen from Wake Forest; Mullen preached balance but seemed to respect the accomplishments of the previous regime:
“I don’t want it to be too much different. You’re talking about a group of men who left here who were very successful coaches, and they installed one of the best offenses in the country. I’m not going to come in here and turn it around,” he said.
WVU still ran the spread but lost some of its maniacal dependence on the run (70% in RR's last year, 63% in Stewart's first) and large chunks of its derring-do. West Virginia lost almost a yard per carry in the transition despite running less and retaining White and Noel Devine. Total yardage dropped to 59th, scoring to 73rd. You will not be thrilled to hear that turnover margin remained as ludicrously good as it was for the bulk of Rodriguez's tenure.
I think something like that dropoff may be in the cards for Michigan. Mullen was no slouch. He was able to staple together decent outfits at Wake Forest despite having a massive injury plague strike his already-depleted roster. But his expertise did not align with the skills of his offense and as a result a bunch of returning starters got a lot less explosive.
I do think Al Borges is going to put together something that tries to take advantage of the parts he has. If I had to guess I'd say Brady Hoke's public statements about manball are just statements—at San Diego State Borges had full sway to do what he wanted, and what he wanted was a lot of different things including quite a bit of zone running. But you can't expect Borges to be Rich Rodriguez when he's spent much of his career fiddling with passing routes instead of the slight adjustments Rodriguez used to keep Robinson ahead of the pack.
The falloff from the transition probably won't be as bad* but if Borges can just maintain Michigan's YPC I'll be thrilled.
*[Reasons: The offense wasn't as good as that WVU unit and shouldn't be exposed to such a withering regression to the mean, Denard is lower on his learning curve than White, there's no equivalent to losing Slaton, general coaching ept-ness will probably go up, field goals.]
Though the senior season for Michigan's 2011 signees is long-gone, and we've moved our recruiting focus to 2012 (and even 2013), A few of Michigan's incoming freshmen participated in their last games as high schoolers over the past two weekends.
Three Michigan commits played in this game - all on the Ohio side, so you should be (kinda) glad to see that Team Ohio won by a lopsided 50-14 score.
According to Eugene Hankerson of GoBlueWolverine, LB Antonio Poole finished with 6 tackles and a sack, DE Keith Heitzman had 3 tackles and a sack, and DE/LB Frank Clark made 2 tackles (though the highlights embedded below certainly show Clark with a big sack at 4:40, and Heitzman scoring a rushing touchdown, so don't take Gene's numbers as gospel truth).
Keith Heitzman fluff.
Heitzman helped set the tone early as his pressure on Pennsylvania quarterback Matt Johnson led to Gabe Gilbert's interception on the game's first possession. Heitzman sacked Johnson in the second quarter, leading to a Pennsylvania punt from its end zone.
"Playing against the best I'm hoping will prepare me a little bit more for what's to come at (the University of) Michigan," Heitzman said.
Duane Long talks Big 33, and no surprise, he spends much of the time fawning over Ohio State commits (both because he's a slappy, and because OSU's players played very well in the game). However, he did manage to mention a couple future Wolverines:
A couple of Michigan kids were outstanding last night. Antonio Poole was the best linebacker in the game. He is a great fit for the hybrid position. Late offer Keith Heitzman from Hilliard Davidson was a major problem off the edge. If [OSU's Steve] Miller didn't have the quarterback dialed in, Heitzman did. It is hard to pick a best lineman in the game out of this lot. You could have picked Miller, [future Kent State running back Trayion] Durham or Heitzman.
Thanks to Eastern PA Football, we have highlights on the internet. You're looking at #2 (Heitzman), #15 (Cark), and #18 (Poole) in red.
There are a couple plays with a better view in this highlight as well.
MHSFCA All-Star Game
This is an East v. West battle in the state of Michigan, and this year, East reigned supreme by a 30-13 score.
LB Desmond Morgan (#48 for the West) was the only Michigan signee who participated, but a few former targets, including Penn State signee Anthony Zettel, also took part. Following the game, Morgan talked to the press:
“Overall, I thought we played pretty solid,” Morgan said. “We came in with a lot of heart and we held that up. We had three or four breakdowns on long balls and that hurt us. There are a lot of great players out here, and it was fun to play with them.”
The game aired on Detroit Public TV (and was streamed online), so video of it may turn up on the internet sometime soon, but I haven't found any yet.
Previously: CB Greg Brown.
|Pickerington, OH - 6'0" 175|
||Scout||3*, #103 CB|
|Rivals||3*, NR, #60 OH|
|ESPN||2*, 74, #154 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Minnesota, Iowa, Stanford, Arizona|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Yes, that Pickerington: Went to school with an accursed Boren. Central's entire secondary went D-I.|
There are also junior highlights.
When Tamani Carter committed out of nowhere in late January Michigan fans scrambled to find out who the hell he was. The answer, oddly: a guy who had committed to Minnesota less than two weeks before. It's not hard to envision Hoke and company arriving at Michigan, surveying their secondary, and going "oh shiiiiiiiiii." Carter looked like a vaguely plausible guy so plunk went the offer gun.
But despite an extremely plausible story—and the fact that he signed up to play for Minnesota's perpetually beleaguered secondary—that implies Carter is just a random guy destined for special teams duty, he did have a decent offer list. Arizona was after him so hard they're still breathless about their not-very-narrow miss months later (they "made a huge run at him"). He made multiple visits to Stanford and seemingly had an Iowa offer. Those three schools seemed to constitute a top three through his senior season. Snagging a kid away from those three and Minnesota is considerably more encouraging than "best case: Gopher starter."
Of course, you're very cynical so you're asking yourself why on earth anyone with those offers would end up at Minnesota. While he did have an offer from the Hawkeyes at some point, he went from planning an official to Iowa City($) in October to not taking an officials other than one to Arizona, so it seems likely Iowa withdrew that sometime during the middle of the season. The same presumably goes for Stanford. So he wasn't an enormous priority for either. When you're adrift in a post-Process January, though, anyone who could play at Iowa or Harbaugh-era Stanford starts looking pretty good.
This goes double when he is actually a terminator sent from the future with an audacious mission:
"Make all interceptions. Recover all fumbles," explained Carter.
Scouting type stuff. Carter's consistently listed at 6'0" or—at worst 5'11"—so it's odd that his size is consistently criticized. If he's fibbing surely he's not fibbing any more extensively than the vast populace of "5'9"" corners littering rosters across college football. Despite that a scouting article at… um… Scout published after Carter's Michigan commit features three separate guys worrying about it($). Allen Trieu:
My one knock would be size, and he's not very tall or thick at all. He will need time in the weight room before he's able to cover bigger, physical wide receivers.
First off, he's not very tall, but he's a nice, little athlete. It seems a little surprising for Michigan to go after him, because I would think they would be going after bigger defensive backs. He is a good player, and has skills, and the only real question would be his height. He's under 6-foot tall, and that will always be a challenge, covering the taller wideouts.
Assuming he overcomes his height limitations, and there are players that can do that, his speed and athleticism will get him on the field at Michigan, along with his intelligence.
ESPN($), meanwhile isn't too worried about height, but the other bit:
Has more than adequate height but his leaner frame and lack of great strength are concerns when projecting for the college level.
I was going to point out how weird Berk's assertion that Michigan wouldn't recruit Carter because of his size was by pointing to Michigan's roster, but it turns out that roster has dispensed with any pretense of reality by listing both Courtney Avery and Terrance Talbott at 5'11", which I'll eat my hat. Greg Brown is a mere 5'10", so he's probably just suffered a horrendous accident that leaves him without knees.
The point of all this is you will never get a truthful answer about any corner's height and if Carter can plausibly (or even laughably) claim to be six foot that makes him bigger than most of the guys already on the roster and probably as big as anyone else in the recruiting class.
So if Carter was crazy athletic that might not be a problem. That's up for debate. All the Scout guys were impressed ("light on his feet and has great quickness," "possibly sub 4.5," "moves really well"), but ESPN not so much:
Turns into a receiver in one-on-one coverage demonstrating great ball skills and body control. Has good extension, timing and leaping skills making him a very effective defender on the jump-ball. While fluid with good footwork, we do feel like he will be challenged in man-to-man coverage at the major college level. Appears quicker than fast and lacks great explosiveness and top-end speed needed to recover vertically. … Does not show great vertical speed or an extra though to project as a true difference-maker at the major college level.
Touch The Banner gives him an all-around "eh… okay": decent size, decent speed, nothing stands out.
FWIW, his coach echoes some other compliments about Carter's knack for big plays:
"Tamani had a very special season," said Central coach Jay Sharrett to ThisWeek last fall. "When we needed a pivotal play, he was always there for us. Whether we needed a big reception, interception or fumble recovery. Tamani was the guy who made plays that won games for us."
He also praises Carter's willingness to get in the opponent's face:
"He's a corner that doesn't, he kind of enjoys the physical part of the game," Sharrett said. "He's a good, solid tackler and when it comes time to drive his shoulder pads, he'll do that.
Whether he'll have the athleticism to pull that off in college is a question. TTB mentions he'd like Carter more if he was going to be "playing a Cover 2 defense and sitting in the flat most of the day." It might not matter since a quick glance of at the roster shows someone has to move to safety. Greg Brown didn't and it doesn't seem like the other freshmen are suited to it, so Carter is the obvious candidate.
Etc.: Carter's got his own website. Photo gallery from Central's playoff loss to Davidson, DE commit Keith Heitzman's school. Five INTs as a junior. Interview after his Herbstreit Classic game; 95-yard INT return included (unfortunately, INT went right to him). Gallery. Stats: 43 tackles, six PBUs, 3 INTs, and 21 catches on offense. Carter on his decision to decommit.
Why Markus Curry? Not a great comparison because Michigan hasn't recruited a whole lot of guys like Carter in the past, but Curry was a bit shorter than six foot, not heavily recruited, and seriously vulnerable to the deep ball because he didn't quite have the athleticism to keep up with college wideouts.
Guru Reliability: No reason evaluators would have anything wrong here: he was healthy and playing at a heavily scouted school. High.
General Excitement Level: The usual level of disclaimer applies but: low.
Projection: More of a lock to redshirt than anyone other than Russell Bellomy. There are three other corners in the class, all either more hyped or ahead of the curve after enrolling early, and three or four corners already on campus who will probably be ahead of him on the depth chart. Long term, someone's moving to safety and it's probably not Countess or Hollowell—the bet here is he moves to FS soon after arrival and ends up backing up Carvin Johnson for a while, possibly emerging as an upperclassman.
Previously: none this year, but this is an annual series. Check out last year's.
|Fremont, OH - 5'10" 180|
|Scout||3*, #50 CB|
|Rivals||3*, NR, #54 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #35 CB|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post. FNL video and scouting.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Same HS as one Charles Woodson.|
(Brown stuff at the two minute mark.) Scouting Ohio has junior film.
Greg Brown committed to Michigan a long, long time ago. This site's "Hello" post dates back to September of 2009, mere days after new Hurricane Tate Forcier had made his debut at Michigan. At the time we had little to go on except Jim Stefani's comprehensive database ("very quick, speedy, athletic, great body control, fine ball skills and has fluid hips… impressive at the 2008 Michigan summer camp and was rated by some onlookers as the second best CB at the camp as a mere freshman") and some message board post wherein Brown is declared Fremont's "next big professional athlete" by someone who is probably not an NFL scout. The mere fact he had a committable Michigan offer—and reported another one from Michigan State—before his junior year even started was the most powerful evidence we had at the time that he was going to be some variety of Big Time.
It didn't really work out like that. He never even looked like emerging from the Pit of Generic Three Stars, spent most of his senior year playing linebacker, and seemed like yet another questionable move by Rich Rodriguez when it came to defensive recruiting. Rivals doesn't even bother to rank him outside of "you'll get three stars and like it." When he had a brief flirtation with Syracuse at the tail end of 2010 that seemed like a development that would inevitably lead to Brown and Michigan parting ways like various other "whoops, you committed" players(e.g., Dewayne Peace, Jordan Barnes) had under Rodriguez.
He stuck, though, and was the only member of this recruiting class to enroll early. No one expected much from him, but there he was in the spring game…
…giving up a touchdown, sure. But giving up a touchdown that seemed like offensive pass interference after being close enough to be shoved by the wide receiver. I don't have to remind Michigan fans about what happened last year and how being in the same timezone as a wide receiver is an improvement.
This would be a hilarious reach but for Brown getting consistent praise in the spring. It's still a bit of a stretch but three things make a trend, right? (1) Hoke after spring:
"He has improved every week," Hoke said of Brown, from Fremont (Ohio) Ross. "I think he's got a great future. Sometimes when there's an opportunity and a guy comes in there and competes, he might just win (the job).
(2) Hoke two weeks earlier:
Freshmen contributing this fall: "Really haven't thought about it much yet." Depth concern at OL and DL might provide some opportunities, but it's too early to say. Corner? "Maybe. We'll see. Greg Brown's really, in the last week and a half he's really stepped up." Courtney Avery has stepped up as well.
(3) Craig Ross was also pleasantly surprised:
In a huge surprise to me, I saw some really good play from Greg Brown—at corner—in the last Saturday scrimmage [ed: ie, the Saturday before the spring game]. This was mentioned by the coaches, so it is not a secret or my insanity.
That sort of praise did not pop up about the departed Cullen Christian, for one. So it means something. How much it means is something we'll have to wait four years to find out, but at the very least it suggests Brown has a chance to be someone other than Darnell Hood.
As for what kind of player he is, the scouting reports read like the opposite of the ones we got for Avery and Talbott last year. Those praised the kids' athleticism and worried about their smurfiness; Brown's think he's got good enough size but don't know about those hips. ESPN($):
Has average height with good overall body length; should continue to fill out well. Plays bigger and taller on film than listed measurables. A bit high and rigid in pedal and opening and turning but uses his hands well and can stick to receivers in man-to-man without giving up much separation. Looks to be a better zone and underneath corner. Closes with above average speed and quickness. Displays more-than-adequate change-of-direction skill and overall footwork. … Very effective in deep coverage as well and defends the jump-ball well with his good leaping and high-point skills. Comfortable around the football and his polished receiving skills show. However, we do question his transitional skills and ability to flip his hips fluidly when matched up versus fast major college wideouts; not real explosive as a runner and speed could get challenged vertically as well.
When Tim covered the playoff game between Brown and OL commit Jack Miller he found Brown playing linebacker(!):
He's a bit stocky, and played exclusively outside linebacker on defense for Fremont Ross. Even at a position closer to the ball, he rarely seemed to be in on any plays, despite having a chance on some of them. As a linebacker, he only covered tight ends from the slot in pass coverage and did an adequate job staying with a guy half a foot taller than him. … His speed wasn't that impressive.
Those reports are in opposition Allen Trieu's, but Trieu caught him right at the start of his junior year—Tim saw him in his last HS game. Trieu($):
The report I had read coming into the game was that he did not have great timed speed, but watching him, I saw that he played fast. He also plays with a lot of aggressiveness and attitude and that showed in run support. He isn't afraid to come up and make tackles. He isn't a particularly powerful tackler, but he went low and got the job done. As a receiver and return man, he showed his quickness and open field elusiveness.
Areas for Improvement: Brown plays bigger than his size, but he is undersized.More Trieu($):
FWIW, local Ohio observers had a slightly higher opinion than Tim or the rankings at large. Ohio Varsity made him the #5 DB in the state, ahead of OSU commit and high three-star Dejuan Gambrell.
Why Grant Mason? Mason was around 5'11" and was not athletic enough to get an NFL sniff, but he was a useful piece as an upperclassman after his transfer from Stanford and started as a senior. Like Mason, Brown is a good student (3.5 GPA) and projects as a guy to develop in the hopes he ends up a useful piece behind a star.
Guru Reliability: You'd think high since he's been fairly high profile—evaluators had two years of games to check him out in the full knowledge he was a Michigan commit. The spring stuff might bring that into question.
General Excitement Level: If you asked me on Signing Day I was going to politely suggest that not everyone can be a starter and Brown was probably going to be Darnell Hood, but one spring ball later Brown looks like a viable threat to crack the two deep and is 50-50 to be a starter at some point. A bit below moderate, then.
Projection: also 50-50 to redshirt. Michigan's starters should be Woolfolk and Avery and they are apparently going with Thomas Gordon, not a corner, as a dedicated nickelback. So it's JT Floyd, Terrance Talbott, and the three freshmen competing to be the two guys who rotate in. I'm guessing only one freshman plays—Brown may not have the hype but he showed up early.
As far as the future goes, he'll be in a war to replace Woolfolk next year. He probably loses that to someone, at which point he'll have to wait for Avery to graduate before he gets a shot.
The 2011 class is over, so it's time to look ahead to next year. But first...
As you may recall, Michigan signed 19 talented high schoolers last Wednesday, including a signing Day surprise(ish) in TX TE Chris Barnett. Yes, I mostly just wanted an excuse to use this picture again.
Of course, OH S Greg Brown was already enrolled in Ann Arbor, and didn't need to fax his LOI.
As for the other prospects who were still on the table:
- MI OL Jake Fisher signed with Oregon. The former commit switched to the Ducks.
- MD DT Darian Cooper signed with Iowa. He had been favoring the Hawkeyes for some time, and a late push by Michigan (courtesy of defensive coordinator Greg Mattison) couldn't sway him to be blue.
- CO LB Leilon Wilingham signed with UCF. He committed to Texas A&M without ever visiting, and then had reported silent commitments to Colorado and Michigan before switching to the Knights on Signing Day. He's a loss for Michigan's class, but sounds like a kid who can't make up his mind, either.
- For those who can't stop asking about FL WR Prince Holloway despite repeated claims he wouldn't come to Michigan, he signed a letter of intent to a Junior College in Kansas.
On to the Next One
Since I've been actively neglecting the 2012 class in favor of in-depth coverage of 2011 for the past couple weeks, updates from rising seniors should be hectic throughout the month of February. Things should settle down by the end of the month, and look for a recruiting board (with revamped format) by that time.
First, let's look at a list of 2012 recruits with offers:
Michigan offered FL QB Bennie Coney in the fall, and they're currently in his top 6. As I said at the time, he has character question marks, so we'll see if his offer from the Wolverines holds up with the new staff.
KY QB Zeke Pike has a Michigan offer ($). He's one of the top QBs in the country, a mobile pro-style guy.
Michigan - along with the rest of the country - has extended an offer to MO WR Dorial Green-Beckham. He has a good shot at being the #1 overall recruit in the 2012 class, so he's a definite longshot.
OH WR Dwayne Stanford holds a Michigan offer ($), along with Ohio State and a number of other top programs.
MD WR Stefon Diggs - a teammate of 2011 CB signee Blake Countess - has an impressive highlight reel:
He was named MVP of the Army Combine, and has already been invited to next year's Army All-American game. He told Rivals that he wants to hear from Michigan, and though the Wolverines took a while to offer, he sees himself as a "Charles Woodson type" at the next level, which certainly doesn't hurt Michigan in his mind.
Michigan has offered ($, info in header) OH TE Sam Grant. He's a big tight end who could be a devastating blocker at the next level.
FL TE Sean Price also has a Michigan offer.
OL Jordan Diamond - one of 2011 signee Chris Bryant's good friends - may be a package deal with his teammate, QB Robert Gregory (more about him below). Diamond already holds an Ohio State offer, and will be on Michigan's campus next weekend. I don't have confirmation yet, but it's sounding like that may be the Wolverines' first junior day. Diamond will decide early(ish) in the process ($, info in header).
Michigan has an offer out to WA OL Zach Banner, who has already committed to participate in next year's Army All-American Bowl. He's one of the top prospects in the nation, and is probably a longshot for the Wolverines.
Scout's Allen Trieu says it'll probably boil down to Michigan or Tennessee for MI DT Danny O'Brien - whom he thinks is the top prospect in the state at this point. Tennessee has the slight edge at this point.
IL DT Vincent Valentine, who holds a Michigan offer, was recently profiled by STLToday.com.
Jim Stefani gets back on his blogging game, and shared that Michigan has offered OH DT Greg Kuhar.
DC DT Eddie Goldman, one of the nation's top defensive linemen, holds a Michigan offer, but is probably a longshot.
Ohio State-centric recruiting experts are already conceding OH DE Chris Wormley to the Wolverines. His reasoning gets a little muddled, but if Ohio State will give up Wormley in order to land Adolphus Washington and Greg McMullen, more power to them.
Yes, I want Wormley. No, I am not going to lose any sleep over his decision to go to Michigan should be choose to do so. Great kid and I wish him all the best should that be where he chooses to spend the next four or five years of his life.
Wormley is going to be a solid 4-star or borderline 5-star guy, so Michigan's recruiting class should get a great early boost should he decide for the Wolverines.
Looks like the Wolverines are pounding the pavement on defensive ends from Ohio. OH DE Ifeadi Odenigbo recently received a Michigan offer. Ohio State fans don't think he'll receive a Buckeye offer, and they're terrified about the prospect of facing him in coming years. Michigan has offered OH DE Tom Strobel. Another Michigan offer is out, to OH DE Pharoah(!) Brown.
MI LB James Ross wants to play in next year's Under Armour All-American Game with his friend, MI CB Terry Richardson, who's already been invited. Ross is intrigued ($, info in header) by the hiring of Greg Mattison.
There may be a couple more offers out there, but this is (almost) all of them that I'm aware of. A couple guys are already committed to other schools - such as FL WR Avery Johnson to LSU - so I haven't included them.
Before expressing worry about "Hey, this kid loves Michigan and we're slipping because we haven't offered him yet," keep in mind that the Michigan staff wants to evaluate prospects on film before extending an official offer. Some of them may even be close to committing if they held a Michigan offer, and the coaches want to know for sure whether it's a prospect that they really want before the kid potentially joins the Class of 2012. Offers should be coming soon for a lot of these guys, so it's not a huge delay, especially for a new coaching staff. Here are some of the guys for whom that possibly applies:
- MI CB Terry Richardson's favorites list reads like 2010's final top ten list - plus Michigan. Michigan State has offered ($, info in header). TheRinger scouts his game, and he'll be on campus for tonight's basketball game.
- Richardson's teammates, LBs Royce Jenkins-Stone and Laron Taylor, both came home from Iowa with Hawkeye offers ($, info in header). Scout's Allen Trieu says that Michigan's hefty lead for Jenkins-Stone is diminishing as more teams offer, including Michigan State. Terry (and possibly Royce) is expecting to talk to Greg Mattison today, which could mean a Wolverine offer is on the way.
- MI DE Matthew Godin attended several Michigan home games and the Big Chill ($, info in header). If Michigan wants him badly enough, it sounds like they should be able to wrap him up early. Michigan State has offered him, but Michigan may be waiting to evaluate him before offering.
- Michigan is among the favorites for OH RB William Mahone (they'd probably be the favorite if the former coaching staff was still in town), and he impressed at the Under Armour combine ($, info in header).
IL QB Robert Gregory has Michigan near the top of his list. However, they weren't in his top five in mid-January, as Iowa, Notre Dame, Oregon, Miami (YTM), and Northwestern got the honor. Gregory has dual-threat ability, but is looking to play in an offense that's primarily pro-style. Michigan's newfound pro-style offense with room for a dual-threat (hello: Denard Robinson) is a huge benefit there, as is their pursuit of Jordan Diamond.
OH WR Monty Madaris has the Wolverines near the top of his list.
Michigan's coaches have been in to visit CO OL Shane Callahan. Probably convenient as they were heading out to check on 2011 LB Leilon Willingham, though Leilon ended up siging with UCF.
IL DT Tommy Schutt already has a decision timeline in mind ($, info in header). As he's just a junior, "before his senior season" is a good bet.
OH DE teammates LaTroy Lewis and Greg McMullen from Akron Hoban are hearing from Michigan. Lewis's father briefly attended Michigan, but it seems as though Ohio State leads for him.
Michigan has "shown interest" in OH LB Mason Monheim.
NJ LB Elijah Shumate doesn't mention the Wolverines to Palmetto Sports's Eric Guimaraes, and his top five is South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina, Rutgers, and LSU.
WI LB Vince Biegel plans to visit Michigan.
TheRinger.com profiles OH S Bam Bradley (pictured at right):
A safety with that size and instincts, a sound tackler who is comfortable in both the run and pass is going to be a big time recruit. Should be a prospect that can come in and player earlier than later. The weaknesses we see are nothing that can’t be corrected with solid coaching and a willing learner, which Bradley is.
Bradley's from Trotwood-Madison, one of Michigan's favorite schools of late.
Happy Trails (already!) to AZ QB Connor Brewer. One of the top pro-style QBs in the country committed to Texas.
Offensive and Defensive hotlists from MGoUser JC3, and Tom has a huge list of prospects to keep an eye on in his Weekly Update. We'll look at it in more detail next week, when we're not crunched for space. Scout's Allen Trieu has a preliminary list of top in-state prospects. Some top prospects from Lakewood (OH) St. Edward. Michigan has already offered a couple of them, and OL Kyle Kalis is already committed to Ohio State. On today's Recruiting Roundup, Sam mentioned that Brady Hoke has dropped by the schools of a few top juniors, including Wormley and Diamond.