Just so we're all on the same page, this llama (via) is dressed as Batman, because Horford is transferring from a team that graduates Jordan Morgan for reasons of playing time. Farewell, and good luck, Al Llama Batman Sartre Horford; our time together was too short to understand each other, but I shall ne'er forget the awesome.
Let's start with that because things are about to get even weirder and less relevant (e.g. Michigan's spring game). But first: VICTORS:
|User||Day 3 Points||Prize|
|rgfmich||177.25||Design an MGoShirt|
If you're like "what?" that was the final standings among MGoBloggers in the Draftstreet 40k TourneyDraftstreet 40k Tourney a few weeks ago. Thank to our fantasy partners again for sponsoring the Day 1 and Sweet 16 liveblogs and everything; if anybody else wants to see how much fun it can be to give me money, jump in on the 100k MLB tourney for $22, or place in the top 5 of one of the $1 satellite leagues to win an entry.
It's a bit early for early returns, no? The Diarist of the Week™ (sorry I've been lapsing on that) is alum96 for his double feature (offense, defense) that looked at the various Übermenschen from Hoke's first uber-class as they enter their junior and redshirt sophomore season. I chart:
|Kalis||5*, Hutchinson 2.0||Not that||Pipkins||5* Hoke impersonator||
|Magnusson||4* Schofield 2.0||On track||Henry||3* Afterthought||A gem|
|Braden||High 3*, Wisc OT||On track||Wormley||High 3* DL||On track|
|Bars||High 3* project||Too soon||Strobel||Low 4* lolOSU||Too soon|
|Funchess||3* receivy TE||Great WR||Godin||3* local DL||Useful|
|Chesson||High 3* skinny||On track||Ross||High 4* prodigy||On track?|
|Darboh||Low 4* possWR||On track||RJS||4* hitter||On track|
|A.J.Williams||3* blocky TE||Not-good||Bolden||High 4* natural||On track?|
|Houma||3* runnyblocky||On track||Ringer||3* might be Foote||Wasn't|
|D. Johnson||Low 3* local||Gem?/inj.||Gant||3* S/LB tweener||Too soon|
|NORFLEET||4* god of Smurfs||Hi.||Wilson||4* Jamar Adams 2.0||On track|
|[No Quarterback]||Richardson||4* Cass mite||Cassmite|
|Clark||3* Shazorite||On track|
That's actually way better than I thought. Injuries set back some of them, and half of those who don't look like they'll turn out to be Big Ten-caliber players have been getting a lot of playing time regardlesss. More amazing, only Kaleb Ringer is gone.
Speaking of Morgan:
David Merritt is doing a signing event with J-Mo this afternoon at his store on South U.
Basketball diaries/etc.: Padog is now into the better-than-Indiana part of his worst-to-first conference preview of next year's Big Ten basketball teams, with Penn State, and Minnesota. Final stats on the shooty 2013-'14 season by LSA.
[Jump for a board of great relevance]
Watch the birdie.
In my day freshmen appeared on the scene knocking down Bobby Hoying passes, shutting down Terry Glenn, and cleaving Eddie George. Then they'd switch to offense and fold Mike Vrabel in twain. What's the matter with kids today? The cast today:
- Ann-Margret as Brian Cook
- Dick Van Dyke as Seth Fisher
- Bobby Rydell as Ace Anbender
- Jesse Pearson as Brandon "Birdie" Brown
|Of the young linebackers, we've seen a lot of Bolden but not much from him. [Upchurch]|
It's an expectation (or a conceit) at Michigan that recruits follow a "track" of progression that should see them all-conference and worth drafting after four years in the program. Of the 2012 class and the few '13 guys who've seen action, who do you see as ahead of schedule, or worryingly behind?
Ace: I'm not even going to bother with the 2013 class because it's beyond too early to discuss their progression versus expectations; frankly, that's the case for the 2012 class as well, but they at least have a handful of guys who have broken through and seen extensive time.
Three players who are clearly ahead of schedule are Devin Funchess, James Ross, and Willie Henry. Funchess has gone from dangerous-but-terrible-at-blocking tight end to dangerous-and-oh-god-so-dangerous wide receiver, and he's got an NFL future even if his blocking never develops as much as we'd hope. Ross has had an up-and-down year but still has a stranglehold on the weakside LB starting job; he's a future all-conference player once he adds a little more weight to take on blocks—his instincts are already there. Henry's initial expectations weren't as high as the other two, nor has he played at their level consistently, but he's easily exceeded expectations for a late three-star pickup just by seeing the field and holding his own.
[Jump like a Funchess]
Ah, I see you entrusted the future of your defensive backfield to Chris Richards
and Johnny Sears, and offered Carson Butler. You shouldn't have done that.
With the additions of two defensive tackles—the only sore spot really left in the class—the 2013 haul is starting to take shape, and this shape is looking pretty darn shapely. Granted we thought the same last year when thousands of 4-star linebackers and linemen burst out of their Ohio prisons to join the Wolverines, leaving—we thought—the staff several months to chase down a few 5-stars. Those didn't really materialize, and might not again. But it's just
November … August … Early JUNE (!) and there's 20 guys in the next class, and they're mostly blue chips, and unless ESPN has done something drastic to their scores I think an entire legion of superheroes just pledged to my alma mater.
If there's any doubt that Brady and Hokesters (this is a terrible name for our coaching staff) are killin' it on the recruiting trail, consider this is now the second year in a row that a board thread has been started to ask is this the Best Michigan Football Recruiting Class Ever?
M-Wolverine beat me to it, but the gold standard here is still 1995—in a word: CharlesWoodsonTomBradyeeeeeeeeee. Also Renes, the Williamses, James Hall, Tai Streets, Aaron Shea… That class was the core of the national championship squad and populated NFL rosters for the next decade. (SI Vault--->)
Putting Captain Hindsight on the sidelines for a moment, the anecdotal standard is 1998. That class was sterling at the top, headlined by Drew Henson (who had nine confirmed miracles by October of his senior year). Before pos-bang threads existed, the fanbase-wide giggle session from Henson playing catch with David Terrell in Central Park nearly toppled the young Internet. Marquise Walker (9th best player in the country overall according to Sporting News), Justin Fargas, Cato June, and Hayden Epstein were too considered Parade All Americans. LB/DL Dave Armstrong and LB Victor Hobson were close. Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and Bobby Burton of the National Recruiting Advisor named Michigan 1st in the land; Allen Wallace of Superprep put us behind UCLA because they had DeShuan Foster.
(Also in 1998, 548-year-old Brooks MacCleod Bollinger beheaded the Kurgan, won the Prize, and signed as a freshman with Wisconsin.)
The 2013 class isn't expected to be so rich at the top, and thus is unlikely to win the same beauty contest, but it's deeper, still naming high-three star types at the point of the list where '98 was tapering off into French Canadians. The ratings are bound to shift—down as do most early commits as more of their classmates are evaluated and placed on the board, and various uncommitted Top 25 recruits leap toward this year's shiniest object—but at this point there's already enough of it to start, you know, thinking about what all that promise actually promises.
Since '98 and other successful classes occurred before humanity shifted its considerable intellect from inventing things and pondering the meaning of our existence so we could figure out how teenagers work, there is no easily accessible written record from that era with which to compare, except the little from DeSimone. Certainly 5-stars and whatnots existed before 2002, but that's where the Rivals and Scout databases begin, so we shall too.
2002 to 2013 to Various Scouting Systems
Again, I'm throwing out hindsight for now because the Class of 2013s are currently 75 percent of their way through high school, an accurate assessment of their actual abilities not available until 2017 or '18. The class before them hasn't stepped on campus yet. Half of the class before that are redshirt freshmen right now. As to the rest, yes, individual players often vastly under- or out-performed their rankings. Insert usual essay about recruiting in the aggregate is legit yo.
You've seen the way I like to represent this before, putting the classes beside each other with heat-colored levels. I'm not sure if I explained why they're lined up that way; the idea is you can see how many blue chips (4-star and higher) on the left side of the mid-line, and assess how many depth guys and fliers (3-star and lower) you're filling in with. The yellow-green guys (5.7 to Rivals, 79 to ESPN) seem to be 40-60 to become solid Big Ten-level starters or better; the ones over the 4-star threshold something more like 55-45, thus I'm trying to represent a kind of mid-point.
Clicking embiggens, but you can see what's causing the excitement already: Scout is very bullish on the recruits Michigan has verbals from already, and ESPN has either dramatically changed their ranking system or somebody slipped them a press release about Shane Morris taking practice shots at Jake Butt. The numbers are on a Googledoc if you can see if/where I went wrong with this.
At this point we allow Captain Hindsight back into the room…
The captain says 2008 is going to be rough.
This is that column on the spreadsheet where I tried to reassign star ratings based on each player's performance. A 5-star is a major-impact player who probably got drafted in the 3rd round or better; a 4-star is an All Big Ten sort—the RVBs of the world, or a player like Kovacs who's a star but has an exploitable hole in his game (yes, Kovacs was added to 2008). A 3-star is a contributor but in a just a guy way, a 2-star someone we didn't want in there (think Savoy or Banks). The "NR"s are mostly injuries or early early attrition but not the later stuff; if we got a good look at what a guy can do I rated him, e.g. Mallett is still in there for 2007, since coaching change losses aren't likely to apply to us any time soon. This isn't supposed to correlate with performance; it's meant to see what recruiting classes yield.
What struck me most is how long we seem to have been going without those 4-star-like dudes, exactly the type of guys these last two classes have been filled with, and which characterized '95. I too hope some of the more epic blue chips we're after sign up, but even if they don't, the 20 guys in this class are already among the better ones signed in the last decade, and it's not out of the question that they may some day be the best.
Today's recruiting roundup examines the bizarre weight-gain strategy of a walk-on long snapper, takes a sneak peek at the weekend's upcoming visits, and discusses a few top-flight wideouts with interest in seeing Ann Arbor.
Hello: Ryan Glasgow
2012 recruiting: not dead yet. Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on yesterday in Aurora (IL) Marmion St. Francis OL Ryan Glasgow, the younger brother of Michigan sophomore-to-be Graham Glasgow. The younger Glasgow is 6'4", 265, and held offers from Wyoming and a handful of FCS schools. Junior highlights:
Fellow 2012 preferred walk-on Taybor Pepper, a long snapper from Saline, was profiled on Ann Arbor.com by Rich Rezler. Pepper is looking to pack on some weight to his 6'3", 190 lbs. frame, and he has an interesting method for doing so:
Two raw eggs. One-third cup of olive oil. A big scoop of ice cream. Fresh fruit. Blend. Enjoy.
That unusual concoction is only part of Taybor Pepper’s nightly weight-gain routine.
He also whips up three peanut butter sandwiches. One goes on his nightstand, near the alarm clock set for 2 a.m., when he’ll wake and devour it in the dark.
The other two go in his backpack, a mid-morning snack during class at Saline High School that bridges a high-calorie breakfast and lunch.
Rocky Balboa and Elvis Presley both approve.
The running back situation. You have questions. The answers are, well, murky, even to some of the principal parties. Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith will visit Michigan this weekend amidst rumors he's slowing down his recruitment—just a few days ago, it seemed he'd inevitably commit if Ty Isaac didn't beat him to the punch—and he seems either undecided or unsure about the situation at this point ($):
While Smith would not rule out the possibility of committing to Michigan this weekend, even he does not know what to expect.
“I don’t know,” Smith said. “I really don’t know. I’m really going to take it all in. I’m not going in planning to commit at all.”
Smith’s coach is currently in the process of coordinating upcoming visits to Ohio State and Penn State. Have any schools separated themselves from the pack at this point?
“Nobody really stands out,” Smith said.
I'm not going to speculate about what's going on without first-hand information, so you'll have to decide for yourself—or better yet, just wait and see how things play out—what this means regarding Smith and Isaac.
Another 2013 prospect who will be on campus is tight end Scott Orndoff, who decommitted from Wisconsin a couple weeks ago after changes to their coaching staff. He sounds like he could be eying another early decision, especially with the way Michigan's class is filling up ($):
“If I decide I want to go there, I will have to make a decision quickly,” Orndoff said, “because of how quickly they are filling their spots. Like every player I just want what is best for me. Like whether it would be the school (academics), or how much playing time I am going to get. There is a lot that goes into it (recruiting). But definitely the way this class is filling up, I can’t take my time if I decide to go there. They are not going got wait for me, you know.”
Orndoff is one of just two remaining uncommitted tight ends currently holding an offer from Michigan (the other being Standish Dobard); he seems like the most likely player to fill a potential third TE spot in the class.
Meanwhile, the Cass Tech connection continues, as a trio of Technician linebackers will make the quick trip down to Ann Arbor this weekend ($). All three players—OLB William White, OLB Deon Drake, and MLB Gary Hosey, who transferred to CT from Farmington Hills Harrison—are class of 2014 prospects. If you're wondering, the answer is yes, I will be seeing my fair share of Cass Tech games this fall.
Future Visitors, Interested Prospects, Happy Trails, Etc.
One player who was rumored to be making a mid-week visit is Cretin-Derham (MN) WR James Onwualu, but plans for a Wednesday visit fell through. That doesn't mean interest in the Wolverines isn't there, however, as Onwualu named a top four (in no particular order) of Michigan, Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Stanford ($). He's got visits scheduled for Ohio State and ND the next couple weekends, and expect him to reschedule his Michigan visit soon; the last time we talked, Onwualu was planning to graduate early and he's looking to wrap up his recruitment in the near future.
Two other four-star receivers have recently expressed interest in visiting Ann Arbor. Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek's MarQuez North originally hails from Flint, and he's looking to visit Michigan "when it warms up," according to 247 ($, info in header). Smart kid. Wylie (TX) East's Marcell Ateman expects to check out the Wolverines soon, either in the spring or summer ($, info in header). Michigan also had a wideout on campus last weekend in Damascus (MD) prospect Zach Bradshaw, who rated his visit a "nine out of ten" and said he wants to check out Ann Arbor again in the future ($).
A couple more players to keep an eye on: District Heights (MD) Bishop McNamara DT Darius Commissiong, who recently earned an Iowa offer, will be in the Big House for the spring game on April 14th ($). Another potential future visitor is Elyria (OH) DE Tracy Sprinkle, who says the coaching staff has an offer waiting for him if he makes it to campus ($).
We can officially wish happy trails to TE Adam Breneman, who committed to childhood favorite Penn State last Friday, marking a huge recruiting victory for coach Bill O'Brien. Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins was expected to commit to Stanford on Saturday, but a last-minute offer from USC has caused him to hold off for now ($, info in header). While Hawkins had Michigan in his final group, he never visited; expect him to stay out on the West Coast.
Quickly: Free Rivals article on Shane Morris, Brady Hoke, and Michigan's in-state recruiting efforts in comparison to other in-state schools (and, yes, in comparison to Rich Rodriguez—you know this story). Bill Greene looks at Hoke's impressive work in Ohio for the 2013 class ($). Commit Chris Fox is named Scout's top interior lineman in the West ($)—they do mention that he has the size and versatility to play anywhere on the line.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at two potential commits (yes, it never ends, and this is good), gets more insight on Patrick Kugler, and finally puts the whole Alex Kozan thing to rest. Finally.
And The Coyote Said, "War Eagle"
Alex Kozan has eaten the Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango, spoken with his coyote spiritual guide, and emerged from his vision quest with newfound clarity about his
soulmate college destination: Kozan will be an Auburn Tiger. There's no word on whether he mulled over his decision in a lighthouse, but I'm going to presume this as fact until proven otherwise.
Also, amen to this: “It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”
We can officially close the book on the class of 2012. We can also discuss guys who will actually play center for Michigan, as more evaluations of new commit Patrick Kugler have come out since his commitment post. Here's Allen Trieu on Kugler's junior film, which is unfortunately stuck behind a Scout paywall ($):
The kid has great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player, which you would expect from his dad being an NFL coach. Now, you take all of those strengths and project him to center, and Michigan fans should be excited. He's bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it. His upside was good to begin with, but as a center, it's excellent.
Excellent, indeed. I'd always rather have a recruit who plays tackle in high school—where high school teams usually stick their best linemen—then learns center in the offseason than a guy who's limited in where he projects. Take a good, but slightly undersized, high school tackle and their ceiling immediately raises when shifted to center if they've got the technique and versatility, which shouldn't be a problem with Kugler. Here's his high school head coach on just that ($):
“I think his ability to play low is one of his strengths,” [North Allegheny coach Art] Walker said of Kugler. "He’s a great run blocker, and we like to consider him a finisher. He’s also a strong pass blocker as well. He runs well, he pulls well, and he has great feet and hands. He’s still maturing physically, and he’s having his best offseason to date. He can play any position you ask him to, wherever the team needs him most.”
I really like the addition of Kugler to the class. Michigan is set along the offensive line unless a guy like Ethan Pocic wants to join the party.
Quickly: Jared Shanker on Jake Butt and his ties to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Tremendous interviews Chris Fox, who's hopefully given up on his dirtbiking hobby. Chantel Jennings on Khalid Hill and #Team134 ($).
Must Not Make Played-Out "That Ish [Mc]Cray" Joke
The #44 prospect in the Rivals100, Trotwood (OH) Madison linebacker Mike McCray, will announce his decision on March 8th between Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He has one more visit scheduled: to Michigan, on March 6th. That's a pretty positive sign, and the general feeling is that McCray will end up blue—Rivals.com's Mike Farrell has said as much in multiple twitter posts.
McCray is one of three blue-chip linebackers who Michigan appears to lead for, with E.J. Levenberry and Dorian O'Daniel being the other two. McCray seems like a MLB, while Levenberry and O'Daniel both project to the outside. It's possible Michigan takes all three if they want to commit; it'll come down to a numbers game, but that would be one heck of a linebacker haul. If the Wolverines are saving spots for the best players available, it'll be hard to turn down any of those guys.
Steve Wiltfong posted on the Wolverine247 board today that Michigan "may be the team to beat" for Columbus (OH) Bishop Hartley TE Jacob Matuska after a great visit last Monday ($). This one could be a Michigan/Notre Dame battle, and there's reason for optimism—other than general "Hoke poops magic" optimism—for the Wolverines; a post on BuckeyePlanet says Michigan is very much in the mix despite Matuska being a presumed ND lock ($).
Ty Isaac's Coach Goes Full Fred Jackson and More
TomVH caught up with Ty Isaac's head coach to talk about the Midwest's best running back, and BOOM GALE SAYERS'D ($, info in header):
"Anytime he touches the ball, everybody is on edge, because it could be a Gayle Sayers moment. Every time Sayers touched the ball, he could go, and Ty has that ability," [Joliet Catholic coach Dan] Sharp said. "[Isaac would fit] in any kind of pro-style offense. He's the type of back who can get tough yards, durable, and he's not fun to tackle for safeties and corners."
Sharp also said Isaac reminds him physically of Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Fame member and Heisman Trophy winner. In relevant, non-hyperbolic news, Isaac has no timetable for a decision and will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th.
Michigan has shown up on several players's top [blank] lists recently. Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton visited on Sunday of that mid-February weekend, and while he didn't catch the virulent strand of commitment fever, he now has Michigan in his top three with LSU and Mississippi State ($, info in header). Another player with U-M in his top three is Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins, along with Stanford and Notre Dame ($, info in header); Hawkins said he grew up idolizing Charles Woodson, so he's obviously got good taste.
While Michigan hasn't yet offered, South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei likes the Wolverines, Oregon, Utah, and Washington ($). Concord (CA) De La Salle LB Michael Hutchings—yes, another blue-chip LB—hasn't narrowed his list yet, but says the Wolverines will "easily" make the cut when he trims his list to 8 or 10 in April ($, info in header).
And now, your semi-weekly bulleted list, this time of players who have expressed interest in taking visits to Ann Arbor:
- Don Bosco Prep DE Alquadin Muhammed, one of the top defensive prospects in the country, plans to visit Michigan, though he hasn't set a timetable ($, info in header).
- Asburn (VA) Briar Woods LB Matt Rolin will take a visit to Ann Arbor in the spring, along with planned trips to Tennessee, BC, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech ($, info in header).
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes told Tremendous he will take one of his officials to Michigan, though he obviously hasn't set those in stone yet. His says his interest in the Wolverines is "very, very high."
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow hopes to visit Michigan before the start of football season ($).
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris recently named Virginia as his top school, but he says his next visit will be to Ann Arbor ($). Virginia Tech and Ohio State are also in the mix.
- Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw has a Michigan visit in the works ($, info in header).
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis says he'll take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker hopes to swing by campus when visiting family in Michigan this April ($).
- Oakley (CA) Freedom WR Darrell Daniels says he'll take an official to Michigan if "[he's] really feeling them," and he may also try to head to the Wolverine camp as well ($).
Finally, there's one happy trails to report. One of the Trinity trio, CB Ryan White, committed to hometown Louisville yesterday over Illinois. Teammate DE Jason Hatcher also seems to be favoring the Cardinals early; we'll see how that affects WR James Quick.
Brian is off doing super-important Brian things for the day (read: aimlessly driving around Ann Arbor while listening to The Smiths, probably), so you're stuck with me for an entire Friday. I know, I'm sorry too. Anyways, today's recruiting roundup looks at the new Rivals250—replete with many magnificent monikers—new offers, lists, and visits for the 2013 class, and a study on recruiting exenditures in the NCAA.
NOTY, NOTY, NOTY, Can't You See? Sometimes Your Names Just Hypnotize Me
Rivals is the latest recruiting service to release rankings for the class of 2013, putting out the Rivals100 on Wednesday before unveiling the full Rivals250 yesterday. There are only 11 five-stars on the list, but Shane Morris is in position to earn that status in the near future as he comes in at #16 overall (#3 QB). Fellow commit Dymonte Thomas is ranked at #77, and Josh Helmholdt discussed his status in the "toughest decisions" article:
Alliance (Ohio) Marlington safety Dymonte Thomas is one of the fastest players in the Midwest for 2013, and overall an outstanding athlete. As a junior, though, he mostly played close to the line of scrimmage and we did not get a chance to see much of him in coverage. So, we did not get too bullish on his ranking until we were able to more thoroughly assess his coverage skills.
If Thomas can show off his coverage ability in camps this summer, expect him to make a move up the board. Meanwhile, your suspicions that Michigan has offered a ton of blue-chip prospects early is correct. TTB has the full rundown on Wolverine offerees in the Rivals100 and the Rivals250—Michigan has offered 35 prospects in the top 100 alone and an additional 19 in the 101-250 range. Two of those are Morris and Thomas, and five players are committed to other schools, but needless to say the Wolverines are targeting the best of the best in what should be a smaller class than 2012.
As impressive as Michigan offer list is, perhaps more incredible is the sheer amount of Name of the Year candidates from the Rivals250. A sampling, for your reading pleasure:
- Alabama RB commit Altee Tenpenny
- Vianna (GA) DT Montravius Adams
- Muscle Shoals (AL) DE Dee Liner
- Fort Worth (TX) DT A'Shawn Robinson
- Fultondale (AL) ATH ArDarius Stewart
- Virginia Beach RB Taquan Mizzell
- My personal favorite: Moreno Valley (CA) WR Demorea Stringfellow
- Cedar Hill (TX) ATH Laquvionte Gonzalez
- Pickerington (OH) DE Taco Charlton (real name: Vidauntae)
- Dallas (TX) WR Ra'Shaad Samples
- New Orleans TE Standish Dobard
- Shreveport (LA) ATH Tre'Davious White
- Pomfret (MD) OL Na'Ty Rodgers
- Milpitas (CA) DE Vita Vea
- Mesquite (TX) WR Eldridge Massington
That's leaving out some pretty strong names, too. I highly recommend perusing the entire list, not only to educate yourself on this year's top prospects, but for some serious entertainment value. Throw in South Carolina CB De'Andre "Chocolate" WIlson, who missed the cut, and I nominate this for the best class of names in recent memory.
Speaking of Names... Jake Butt
Sam Webb's latest DetNews piece covers Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt (#96 overall in the Rivals250), who says Michigan is his leader "by far" early in the process. Butt doesn't have a concrete timeline yet and childhood favorite Ohio State could become a major factor in his recruitment should they choose to offer, so this one is far from over. That said, the Wolverines are in great position early, and while they're recruiting Butt as a tight end (stifle those giggles, children), he's also a strong prospect on the other side of the ball:
"Jake is an athletic kid with a great frame," [Scout.com's Allen] Trieu said. "He still has to add more weight and strength to his game, but he runs well for a kid of that size and is a very coordinated athlete. On offense he catches the ball well, his height makes him a matchup problem, and his athleticism allows him to create separation. At the same time, Jake is one of those rare kids who I think projects very well to both sides of the ball. I think he's a BCS prospect on both sides of the ball. For most schools it sounds like he's a defensive end right now, but a handful see him as a tight end too."
"Jake is right there as a potential top-10 prospect in Ohio. It's a fairly deep year down there, as usual, it's just not as top heavy (as it was in the 2012 class). We haven't really finalized anything yet, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him end up in the top eight to 12 prospects in the state."
Another top Midwest prospect holding a Michigan offer is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, Rivals.com's #60 overall prospect, who has taken multiple trips to Ann Arbor and has an interesting way of going about his visits ($, info in header):
Normally when a recruit visiting Ann Arbor says he wants to talk to someone, the names that come up tend to be Denard Robinson, Taylor Lewan, Ryan Van Bergen -- the "famous" players on the Michigan football team.
But those aren't the guys 2013 offensive line recruit Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) is interested in talking to.
"I want to see where they stand going through their freshmen years, whether it lived up to the expectations that they had," Bosch said. "I'm more curious to get to know what the first year at Michigan is like compared to three or four years into it."
I've never heard that before, but it's a strategy that makes sense, especially for a highly-touted recruit who will have to make the transition from Big Man on Campus to lowly freshman when college begins. The whole profile by Chantel Jennings is well worth a read if you have Insider—it sounds like Bosch has a good head on his shoulders and is going about his recruitment the right way. He plans to visit Ann Arbor again on February 18th ($).
Here's your latest list of 2013 offers as Michigan continues to send them out in bulk:
- Indianapolis North Central DL Darius Latham, who Trieu profiled for free on Scout. He also picked up a Tennessee offer, joining Northwestern, Indiana, Ole Miss, Purdue, and Minnesota early.
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris added offers from both Michigan and Ohio State on Tuesday ($, info in header).
- Another Richmond prospect, Hermitage High School RB Derrick Green, earned offers from the Wolverines and USC ($, info in header). They join a laundry-list of national powers pursuing Rivals.com's #64 overall player.
- Owensboro (KY) OT Hunter Bivin recently added offers from Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, Notre Dame, Miami, and several other Big Ten and SEC schools ($, info in header). He visited Michigan unofficially twice in the fall—including for the Ohio State game—and has high interest in the Wolverines early.
- Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris boasts an offer to play both football and basketball from Michigan, MSU, Indiana, and Notre Dame ($, info in header). The 6'4" wide receiver/shooting guard is coached by former Wolverine wideout Tai Streets in AAU basketball.
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata DE Tashawn Bower—#250 in the Rivals250—picked up his Wolverine offer on Tuesday ($, info in header). His dad is a Michigan fan and he plans on taking a spring trip to Ann Arbor.
- Wisconsin tight end commit Scott Orndorff got offered by Michigan, Boston College, and Virginia; he plans on looking around after some recent changes to the Badger coaching staff ($, info in header).
Several players started narrowing down their lists this week. Blue chip linebacker E.J. Levenberry now has Michigan in his top three along with Florida and Florida State, though his father says that list is subject to change ($, info in header). Bloomfield (NJ) OT Marcell Lazard named a top four of UConn, Miami, Michigan, and West Virginia, and he plans to visit Michigan later this month ($). Michigan is one of 11 schools being considered by Louisville (KY) Trinity DE Jason Hatcher ($, info in header). As for players Michigan did not make the cut for, five-star tackle Laremy Tunsil now has a top three of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama ($, info in header), while top-ranked linebacker Jaylon Smith's top three includes Notre Dame, Ohio State, and... Purdue ($, info in header). Did not see that one coming.
Many players are setting up visits, as well. Michigan will host four juniors this weekend: offensive linemen Logan Tuley-Tillman and Chris Fox and receivers Jaron Dukes and Laquon Treadwell. Of the four, Dukes and Fox are the most likely to make early decisions—both have mentioned Michigan among their leaders, and Dukes has the Wolverines as his clear favorite—while both LTT and Treadwell will likely take a while before deciding after their offer lists expanded greatly in recent weeks.
Kyle Bosch won't be the only Illinois lineman on campus on the 18th—he'll be joined by Lemont's Ethan Pocic ($). Another Illinois lineman, Colin McGovern, plans to take a trip to Michigan on March 10th ($). Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman, meanwhile, had to alter his visit plans, pushing back planned trips to Penn State (later this month) and Ohio State (sometime in the spring). I asked him on Twitter if he was still planning a trip to Ann Arbor, and he wasn't sure yet. The general consensus—and I agree with it—is that it will be very tough to beat out childhood favorite Penn State for him.
In very quick 2014 news, Michigan will host St. Louis OT Andy Bauer this weekend, and they've also shown interest in Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines ($, info in header).
Spendin' That Paper
The Business of College Sports blog released a list of the top 50 spenders in recruiting among all sports, and the list is dominated by the SEC, whose schools take up six of the top eight spots (Tennessee leads the way at nearly $2.3 million last year). Coming in at #9, and tops among Big Ten schools, is your very own Wolverines, spending just under $1.5 million. The order of the rest of the B1G schools is rather surprsing: Illinois (#14), Nebraska (#19), Ohio State (#23), Minnesota (#24), Penn State (#26), Purdue (#41), Michigan State (#42), Iowa (#43), and Indiana (#46) round out the schools in the top 50. It's best to keep in mind that this includes all sports for both men and women; it would be interesting to see how this compares to spending on football alone. [H/T: Lost Lettermen]
Tremendous interviewed preferred walk-on OL Dan Gibbs, who will join the 2012 class on campus this fall, and the young man is not only an Eagle Scout, but well-versed in the current Wolverine lingo [emphasis mine]:
Tremendous: What did it feel like when you finally decided to go with Michigan?
Dan: I'm about as excited as can be! It feels absolutely amazing to finally realize my life-long dream of playing Michigan Football.
Tremendous: Was it an easy decision given the scholarship situation?
Dan: It wasn't the easiest decision, per se. I was seriously considering Penn, especially after my visit there, and other Ivy League options. But this is Michigan fergodsakes! In the end, Michigan won out by a mile because I realized that it was where I always wanted to be.