"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
This week's Thursday Recruitin' discusses Jordan Payton's upcoming decision (again), big news coming from both Josh Garnett and Zach Banner, the next great Michigan nickname, several new 2013 offers, and BREAKING Mitch McGary news. Usual request: Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Rounding Out the 2012 Class
With the addition of Jeremy Clark to the 2012 class (more on that later), Michigan now has 23 commitments and five spots to fill—probably with two receivers, and offensive lineman, a running back, and perhaps a defensive back. How will they round out the class? I guess this is a good place to start:
That's four-star CA wideout Jordan Payton, of course, who decided—after visiting Notre Dame for the USC game last weekend—to push back his planned announcement from Tuesday to some time in the next two weeks. After the visit to South Bend, Payton claims that Michigan and Notre Dame are "tied" for the lead in his recruitment ($, info in header) after he had maintained that Michigan was his clear leader heading into the weekend. While this could be cause for a meltdown, I wouldn't get too worried—Payton is taking the time to gather his thoughts after a big visit, and I still think Michigan is in great position to land him whenever he decides to make his choice. Notre Dame always come back right at the end, right?
In more encouraging news, Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett has set one official visit, and, well, you see where this is going [emphasis mine]...
"I'm going to Michigan on Nov. 19 when they play Nebraska," Garnett said. "I'm also going to visit Miami at some point also. I'm thinking pretty seriously about visiting Oklahoma too."
One school is showing Garnett more attention than the others.
"Cal is recruiting me the hardest by far," he said. "Coach (Tosh) Lupoi is the lead recruiter but all of their coaches are in contact with me. They are definitely showing me a lot of love."
Garnett is working down his list of 11 programs but said he has no favorites at this time among the group. Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Auburn and Notre Dame are a few other programs on the list.
While this by no means indicates that Michigan is his leader (one look at the quote about Cal should dispel that notion), Garnett coming to Ann Arbor is certainly a good sign, and anything can happen once a recruit gets on campus. [Morning edit: Of course, just before I go to sleep last night a new Garnett article pops up on Scout in which he says he "may" make it to Ann Arbor for the Nebraska game ($), so we'll have to wait and see if this one really happens. Encouraging news is slightly less encouraging, but still, I think, encouraging.]
Meanwhile, Garnett's fellow blue-chip Washingtonian lineman, Zach Banner, has been the center of attention this past week, and he named his top five schools ($, video embedded below) before heading to Notre Dame for an official visit:
For those who don't feel like clicking on the video, Michigan made his final five along with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and Washington. If you head over to Oklahoma's Rivals site, you'll see (at the moment I'm writing this, at least) a big fat headline proclaiming "Sooners On Top" linking to an article that claims Oklahoma leads for Banner ($, info in header), with extensive quotes from the recruit about how well his visit went. While I usually don't blockquote from premium articles, there's been genuine debate about how to interpret this quote, which comes off as a bit of a leading question from the interviewer but also seems to point to Oklahoma leading:
So is it fair to say that Oklahoma is currently the leader and Washington and USC will have to show him something that surpasses what he saw at Oklahoma?
"Yeah," he said plainly. "All five of them are going to be completely involved but I'm still taking my USC and (Washington) visits but if you were going to ask me who I'd bet on, Oklahoma has a good chance."
Interpret that how you will, but obviously Michigan is still in it, though they might have some ground to cover. Just as notable, IMO, is Banner saying he'll announce his decision date (note: not make his actual decision, just to be abundantly clear) this Saturday, at his Army All-American ceremony.
There are other options on the offensive line, as well. TomVH caught up with Jordan Diamond, and read his article ($) and check out the video interview (free) over at WolverineNation. Michigan is still among the schools Diamond is interested in, and he's been in contact with former Chicago Simeon teammate and current Wolverine Chris Bryant, but he says he has "no favorites" at this time and will not make a decision until signing day. After taking in the ND-USC game last weekend (along with every other top prospect on the planet, it seems), Diamond won't be making any other visits until after his season is over.
In related news, four-star OL and recent offeree Alex Kozan just picked up an offer from Ohio State ($, info in header). Michigan and OSU join a top group of Arkansas, Oklahoma State, LSU, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa, and Illinois, but Kozan is looking to pare that list of nine down to three or four in the near future.
Also, five-star OL/DE Arik Armstead has indeed opened up his recruitment, but 247's J.C. Shurburtt says this is likely a battle between Cal and USC, and with no mention of Michigan they're a fringe contender at best. Don't hold your breath for this one.
For more on wide receiver recruiting, updates on current commits, 2013 news, and MITCH MCGARY'S FINAL THREE AND IMPENDING DECISION (*cough*), hit the jump.
My sincerest apologies for the lack of a Creeper Van Original post this week—my immune system decided to have its bye week coincide with Michigan's. This week on Weekday Warriors, commits square off for the Catholic League title, Shane Morris saves the day, and a bunch of guys sit out with injuries.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell (4-5) defeated McCallie, 24-21, in their penultimate regular season game.
This week: The Big Red will wrap up their season on Friday at Pope John Paul II.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Colerain faced off against a Hamilton squad that decided its best strategy would be to use up every possible second of the play clock in order to limit possessions and keep the Cardinals's potent offense off the field. While sound in theory, this didn't work so well in practice, as Bolden helped lead a defensive effort that held Hamilton to just 93 total yards in a 28-0 win.
This week: The Cardinals (8-1) travel to Oak Hills—Caleb Stacey's school—on Friday at 7:30 for their regular-season finale.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford amassed 271 rushing yards en route to a 35-0 victory, wrapping up the O-K Red title for the 8-1 Rams.
This week: Rockford hosts Holland West Ottawa on Friday at 7 in a first-round playoff game.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brown continued to impress on offense with a three-catch, 150-yard, two-touchdown performance to help Brush defeat Parma, 45-10, to improve to 4-0 in conference play.
This week: The Arcs (4-5) finish the regular season at Garfield Heights on Friday at 7.
KY S Jeremy Clark
Oh, hey, Clark is up here now. The newly-ungrayshirted commit didn't amass any offensive stats in a 13-10 loss to Lone Oak.
This week: The Maroons (7-2) play at Crittenden County on Friday.
MI TE Devin Funchess
No stats were available for Funchess, but he was not one of the eight(!) different Harrison players to score touchdowns as the Hawks finished the regular season undefeated with a 56-13 beatdown of Farmington.
This week: Harrison begins their march to the Division 2 state title at home against Birmingham Seaholm on Friday at 7. [Ed-M: the Maples are going to get crushed. /Groves]
OH S Allen Gant
Gant scored on a 23-yard reception to help lead Southview to a 50-29 victory over Springfield and claim their conference title outright.
This week: The Cougars (8-1) host cross-town rival Northview on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin texted that he finished with ten tackles and three TFL to lead Catholic Central to a 21-7 victory over Orchard Lake St. Mary's in the Prep Bowl, winning the Catholic League title and avenging last week's defeat at the hands of OLSM.
This week: The Shamrocks host Northville on Saturday at 1 in the first round of the state playoffs.
UT FB Sione Houma
Highland had a bye last week.
This week: The Rams take on Maple Mountain on Friday at 5 in the first round of the playoffs.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Jenkins-Stone sat out Cass Tech's 6-0 playoff-clinching victory over Renaissance with a deep thigh bruise ($, info in header).
This week: The Technicians will play at Livonia Churchill on Friday at 7 in the first round of the playoffs.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
St. Edward bounced back from two straight losses with a 42-27 win over Cincinnati Moeller.
This week: The Eagles host St. Ignatius on Saturday at 7.
Detailed accounts of Eric Magnuson and Chris Wormley plus Shane Morris heroics after the jump.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' discusses Jordan Payton's upcoming decision, the recruitment of Zach Banner, T-Rich and "Little Shane," and Tom Lemming's high praise of Ty Isaac. Usual request: Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Payton Sets a Date Plus a Look at the O-Line
Oaks Christian (CA) four-star wide receiver Jordan Payton (right) will announce his college decision next Tuesday ($, info in header), after he returns from a visit to Notre Dame for the USC game. Payton has narrowed his list to Michigan, Notre Dame, and Cal, but has maintained for several weeks that Michigan is his leader and that stance has not changed. Unless he has a major change of heart while visiting South Bend, Payton will likely end up wearing Maize and Blue.
Another recruit of interest visiting Notre Dame this weekend is Lakewood (WA) Lakes OL Zach Banner, who has set a top five of Michigan, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, and Washington. The blue-chip tackle prospect has already visited Michigan and Oklahoma and will make his way to USC and Washington later this season. Sam Webb profiled Banner this week in the Detroit News, and the atmosphere when Banner visited Ann Arbor (for the Notre Dame game) could give the Wolverines a leg up to land his commitment:
Huffman added: "The best thing (the Wolverines) had going for them is he saw the game of the century. He got to fully got to experience the game atmosphere the energy of 115,000 people. He got to meet with Beilein, but more importantly he got to experience a pretty special and electric feeling that he is not going to be able to duplicate anywhere else. Oklahoma topped out at about 80,000 people against Missouri and the kid has been going to Washington games (with fewer fans) his whole life."
Apparently, Michigan has also told Banner they could see him making an impact as soon as next season, potentially at right tackle. Banner says he plans to make his college choice on January 14, but adds that "a change of schedule could happen at any time."
Tim Sullivan (YTTS) takes a look at potential 2012 offensive line commits for the Free Press, discussing Banner, fellow Washingtonian Josh Garnett, recent offeree Alex Kozan, and very recent USC decommit Arik Armstead. Since Michigan's chances at landing Armstead are thin at best, let's look at what Tim has to say about Kozan:
He has a top eight list that includes U-M, Iowa and LSU, and he plans to visit as many of those schools as possible before making a decision in late December. The 6-4, 295-pound Kozan is a powerful drive blocker that needs more polish in pass protection. He said U-M is recruiting him to play guard.
Several recruits trimmed their lists this week. Lakewood (CA) receiver Darius Powe maintains a top five of Michigan, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah, and Arizona State, but says that the Beavers and Bruins currently stand out as his favorites ($). Cincinnati Moeller receiver Monty Madaris hasn't narrowed his focus too much yet, but says that he only has two definite visits lined up, to Michigan State and Florida State. Cincinnati Taft teammates Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford have eached named a top three ($) and will announce their decision on November 9—Washington is down to Ohio State, Alabama, and Michigan State, while Stanford will choose between Ohio State, Oregon, and Cincinnati.
Quickly: Oregon has taken the lead for five-star safety Shaq Thompson ($, info in header), and Cal and Washington round out his top three, but he still plans on taking visits to Notre Dame, Michigan, and Arizona State and maintains that he is still quite open. Alex Kozan's interest in Michigan has picked up since receiving his offer ($, info in header). Tom interviews Jordan Diamond for ESPN.com—please tell me Dave Brandon does not watch this video and get any more brilliant ideas about the uniforms.
Hit the jump for much more on current 2012 commits and 2013 recruits.
This week on Weekday Warriors, Joe Bolden does it all for Colerain, the Harrison duo strikes again, and several Wolverine commits contribute to dominant defensive performances as the playoffs loom across the Midwest.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell (3-5) had a bye last week.
This week: The Big Red play at McCallie on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden had two fourth-quarter scores—a one-yard rushing touchdown and a six-yard receiving touchdown—to go along with a team-high 7.5 tackles and a sack to lead Colerain to a 28-7 victory over Lakota East. The two touchdown's were the first ever for Bolden as a varsity player:
“All I know is that we practice, practice and the line got a great push and I wasn’t stopping until I got in the red,” Bolden said of his first touchdown. “It was a unique feeling.”
Bolden, who is committed to the University of Michigan, also led Colerain in tackles with 7.5 and recorded a sack.
“It was a big night for Joe. What a great way for him to go out in his last guaranteed home game,” Colerain head coach Tom Bolden said of his nephew. “It was a special night for him, but it was a special night for all these seniors and not just Joe.”
This week: The Cardinals (7-1) travels to Hamilton on Friday at 7:30.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford put up 27 second-half points to blow open their game against Hudsonville, winning 44-14 to improve to 7-1 on the season.
This week: Rockford looks to cap off their regular season with a road win at Jenison on Friday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brown was part of a defense that held Lakewood to just 124 total yards in a 20-0 shutout win for Brush.
This week: The Arcs (3-5) host Parma on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
MGoReader blue22 watched Harrison take down Lake Orion, 28-7, reporting back that Funchess recorded two receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown to go along with a strong defensive performance:
He was also playing LB, though he was matched up as a corner in nickel sets which I didn't know he did. There he had a tackle and an absolute monster of a sack.
All in all, Funchess looked bigger than pretty much everyone out there.
This week: Harrison (8-0) looks to finish with an undefeated regular season at home against Farmington on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant recorded an interception as Southview held Anthony Wayne (that's a high school, not some dude) to just 79 total yards in a 36-14 victory.
This week: The Cougars plays at Springfield on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin texted that he finished with seven tackles and a sack, but Catholic Central dropped their first game of the season against Catholic League rival Orchard Lake St. Mary's, 14-13, due to a missed PAT.
This week: The Shamrocks will get an immediate chance for revenge, as they face off against OLSM for the Catholic League title in Saturday night's Prep Bowl at Ford Field. Kickoff is at 7.
UT FB Sione Houma
No stats are available for Houma from Highland's 22-0 loss to Salt Lake City East to wrap up their regular season.
This week: MaxPreps shows no more games scheduled for Highland, though I assume they are awaiting their playoff draw.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech dropped their second game of the season to Crockett, 14-9, in the semifinals of the Detroit PSL playoffs. No stats were available for RJS.
This week: The Technicians (5-3) will play Renaissance on Thursday at 4 for the chance to lock up a playoff spot.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
St. Edward dropped their second game in a row, a 17-10 loss to St. Xavier, after starting the season 6-0.
This week: Things don't get easier for the Eagles, who host Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday at 2. I'll be there covering the game, which also features Moeller wideout and Michigan recruit Monty Madaris.
Lots on Magnuson, and a Jarrod Wilson EEEEEE moment after things go jump.
Last Friday the Creeper Van made its way east of Cleveland to Mentor, home of defensive end Tom Strobel and the Cardinals, to watch them take on the Medina Bees. I was greeted in Mentor by a pre-game downpour, which had me worried about being able to shoot film, but then the skies cleared to reveal this, which subsided my concerns entirely:
What does this mean? Oh, time for some football.
Anyways, I'm guessing you care far less about double rainbows than Tom Strobel, so here's the part where I tell you Mentor won 45-7 while Strobel recorded ten tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, and two QB hurries in a little over three quarters of action. Highlights are short—Medina did their best to run to the weak side (Strobel always flipped to the strong side) and roll their pocket away from him—but relatively spectacular:
[EDIT: Original video didn't play due to copyright issues with the song I used, but this one should work fine.]
Considering Strobel's opponent did everything within their power to stay away from him—both running and passing—and he still managed to finish with double-digit tackles and multiple stops behind the line, I thought he had a pretty outstanding game. I have now seen each of the three players recruited for strongside defensive end in this class—Strobel, Matt Godin, and Chris Wormley—and Strobel impressed me the most, just edging out Godin.
At this level of competition, Strobel utilized his superior strength by essentially doing the same thing on every play: bull-rushing the offensive tackle, pushing him 3-5 yards into the backfield, then either heading for the quarterback or peeling back towards the line of scrimmage to make a play on the running back. While this strategy is entirely unsound against college competition—any good offensive coach would've realized that Strobel repeatedly opened up a big crease off-tackle and run right at him—it worked quite well since his side was avoided entirely, to the point that I think he was being coached to play this way. It certainly worked.
While Strobel isn't the quickest player, he did a good job of getting off the snap and shooting right into his blocker, getting his hands into an offensive lineman's chest before his counterpart could get a hand on him. This allowed him to get great leverage, both in terms of pushing his man off the line and in helping him disengage from his block. Strobel recognized plays quickly and there wasn't a play when he couldn't shed his block and get two hands on the ballcarrier if one was within reach. When Strobel got his hands on someone, that was it for the play—his upper-body strength is impressive.
One area where I had a mild concern was with Strobel's will to play to the whistle. He had a great motor off the snap, always pushing his blocker back and trying to disrupt the play early, but there were a couple long-developing plays in which he was loafing a bit instead of tearing towards the opposite sideline. This only occurred on plays that were across the field later in the game, so perhaps fatigue (doubtful, considering his initial burst) or simply the fact this game was a blowout (far more likely, IMO) played a factor, but it would be nice to see him finishing every play around the ball like I saw with Matt Godin.
The other point of concern for me was with Strobel's lack of variety in his off-the-snap moves—he bullrushed, again and again, without showing much else except a quick shove to the inside that wasn't quite a full swim move. Again, there are some obvious explanations for this: the bullrush kept working, so there wasn't much of a reason to switch things up, and Medina almost never attempted a pass without rolling the pocket away from Strobel and throwing quickly. There just wasn't enough of a reason—or many opportunities—for Strobel to switch things up.
At 6'6", 265 pounds, Strobel certainly has the size to come in and be an immediate contributor, and I think he has the best chance of doing so out of the three recruits coming in at the five-tech. He needs to add a couple pass-rush moves to his arsenal (or at least utilize a couple more), but he showed a lot of ability against both the run and the pass and the motor to be in and have an impact on a lot of snaps.
Mentor had a pretty cool pre-game video tribute to the seniors, if you're wondering what the second picture of the scoreboard is all about. Strobel is #36, and also the guy who's bigger than everyone else:
I'm deciding between heading to the Prep Bowl, which features Matt Godin, Wyatt Shallman, and Detroit Catholic Central facing off against James Ross and Orchard Lake St. Mary's for the Catholic League title, and going back to Ohio to catch Kyle Kalis's St. Edward squad take on Cincinnati Moeller. I've seen OLSM twice this season and DCC once, plus the game being at Ford Field means it may be more difficult to get good film, so right now I'm leaning towards seeing Kalis play for the first time. Your suggestions are encouraged in the comments.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' features Michigan at the top of Scout's team rankings, several uncommitted prospects planning visits, Kyle Kalis laughing off the threats of Buckeye trolls, and a whole lot on the class of 2013. Usual disclaimer: Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Hoke's Magic Takes Michigan to the Top, More on Uncommitted Seniors
Scout is a believer in Brady Hoke and his first full recruiting class, naming Michigan's 2012 class as the nation's best in their latest team rankings. Click through to see national recruiting analyst Scott Kennedy analyze the class, but unfortunately not saying that Brady Hoke poops magic, despite that clearly being the case. He does have a very good point, however, in saying that Michigan—despite their tremendous early success on the recruiting trail—has yet to capitalize on their strong start to the 2011 season with a commit, though that is obviously expected to change.
Josh Garnett is featured as Scout's Performer of the Week, and in the accompanying video (which has been out for a couple weeks, but paywalled) he discusses his official visits. Garnett mentions Nebraska, Miami, and Michigan as the three schools he'll definitely take officials to, though he also mentions several West Coast schools—Washington, Oregon, Cal, USC, and UCLA—that he'll likely take trips to in an unofficial capacity:
The Seattle Times not only discusses Garnett, but also fellow Washingtonian Zach Banner and their respective timelines:
"Banner revealed this week he is probably going to decide in the next month or two but is only going to tell the coach of the school he is committing to and then wait to make the announcement at Lakes High probably right before the Army All-American Game (which is on Jan. 7). Garnett doesn't have an official timeline but he is definitely going to take his time and take his visits until he is going to make an announcement, so that's kind of why it's been so quiet."
It'll be interesting to see if Banner is able to keep his decision under wraps if he does in fact plan on telling a coach his commitment plans so long before his formal announcement.
For the rest of Thursday Recruitin', jump with me.