Mike Lantry, 1972
This week, the van returned to the Toledo area to see 2012 safety commit Allen Gant and his Sylvania Southview squad take on rival Maumee in front of a packed house at Maumee High School. It initially looked like Southview would run away with the game as they cruised to an early 24-0 lead, but three straight Panther scores cut the deficit to just three points midway through the third quarter. That woke up the Cougars, however, who reeled off three of the next four scores en route to a 45-27 victory.
Gant had a strong game overall, finishing (by my unofficial count) with seven tackles, one pass breakup, a reception for 20 yards, and a two-yard touchdown run. The senior spent most of the game on defense, playing a lot as a linebacker/rover with a lot of short zone responsibilities while coming off the edge often as a blitzer—he only dropped back deep as a safety on a couple plays in obvious passing situations. He saw a few snaps on the offensive side of the ball as a receiver and wingback, and scored his touchdown run as the quarterback in a special Wildcat package. Here are the highlights from this week—as you'll see, the game was played on an extremely muddy field that made it very difficult to make any sharp cuts without falling over (I almost ate it just trying to make my way to midfield for the post-game interview):
As previously mentioned, the field conditions were far from ideal, which made it very difficult to evaluate Gant from an athletic standpoint. It was clear early on that his cleats were not giving him the proper footing, as he spent much of the time in warmups scraping mud off of them, and on one of the first defensive snaps on the game he slipped to the ground and would have given up a long touchdown pass if the Maumee quarterback had seen the uncovered receiver. Gant displayed solid, not spectacular, straight-ahead speed, but any impression of his agility would be skewed greatly by the conditions.
Despite playing a new position (more on that in the post-game interview), Gant did a very good job of playing with discipline and being in the right place—Maumee never really challenged him on underneath routes because he had either the short middle or flat covered when he wasn't brought on the blitz, with Southview playing almost exclusively zone defense. On the one opportunity Gant had to man-cover a receiver down the field (that is, without falling to the ground), he stayed step-for-step with his man but was victimized by a well-run route and a great throw, which you can see in the first clip above.
It was very interesting to see what Gant brought as a linebacker, as he could very well be ticketed for that position at Michigan because of his size. He made some very nice reads, including one play where he sniffed out a screen and nearly made a spectacular one-handed diving interception, and he put decent pressure on the quarterback when coming off the edge.
While Gant's tackling technique was solid—he does a very good job of wrapping up the ballcarrier—I thought he was a little passive when coming up to make a hit, including on one play when Maumee's quarterback scrambled and was able to carry Gant and a couple of his teammates a few extra yards after initial contact. This could be chalked up to playing an unfamiliar position, but Gant had a few plays where he let the play come to him instead of identifying the ballcarrier and taking an aggressive path to the play, and despite the seven tackles he didn't have any big hits, in large part due to his lack of aggression.
One thing I really liked out of Gant was his persistence—he's the proverbial guy who doesn't take plays off and always ends the play around the football, and he chased down a couple of his tackles from the opposite side of the field. He also held the edge well, which I'm sure Michigan fans are happy to hear, although on one such play he tackled a little too high and ended up drawing a face-mask penalty.
Overall, I think Gant shows more promise as a safety than at linebacker, although that may be a harsh judgment considering I caught his first game at a new position. The key for him will be maintaining his athleticism—which I believe is good enough for safety, especially if he's paired with a center-field type like Jarrod Wilson—and not adding too much bulk to his 6'2", 210-pound frame (he looked every bit that big on the field). He's got promise as a safety who is decent in coverage and can come up and make plays in the running game, but I'm not sure he'd hold up well as a linebacker, though we'll see if he improves given more time at the position.
This week, my amateur photography skills are on full display:
ACE: That was a hard-fought win out there. How do you think you played personally?
ALLEN: I thought I played pretty decent. There were a couple assignments I wasn't sure about. Actually, today I played a different position than the one I've been playing, so I thought I did pretty decent out there.
ACE: I know Michigan is recruiting you as a safety. It seemed like you were playing linebacker today, or at least close to the line of scrimmage. How was that for you?
ALLEN: It was tough. It was tough to adjust. I had a lot of safety instincts that were in my mind, but I just have to continue doing my job and continue playing to help my team.
ACE: It looked like early on you were having trouble keeping your footing. Was that just an equipment problem or an issue with the field conditions?
ALLEN: The field was pretty bad. But you know, I kept playing and kept going.
ACE: You've been to all three of Michigan's home games so far. What has your impression been of the team so far?
ALLEN: The team is really, really, really good. I think they've done a really good job so far of working hard, I can tell. They keep fighting to the end, especially in the Notre Dame game. I was proud of how the guys fought.
ACE: Have you been keeping in contact with other recruits?
ALLEN: A little bit, not as much as I was during the summer.
ACE: Are you planning on taking any more visits?
ALLEN: Yes. I won't be there the next couple weeks, but the following home games after that I'll probably be there, and then for sure the Nebraska and Ohio State games.
ACE: Overall, what are you working on in terms of getting ready for the next level?
ALLEN: Just continue to get quicker and faster, and keep working on my technique.
These plans are always tentative at this point in the week, but right now I think I'll be heading to see Ben Braden and Rockford take on East Kentwood on Friday night.
In this week's Thursday Recruitin', Danny O'Brien moves up his decision date, rumblings continue about the status of Bri'onte Dunn's OSU commitment, A.J. Williams is the subject of both an unfortunate headline and an awesome YouTube video, new 2013 offers go out, and much more. 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.
O'Brien Announcement Change and More on Uncommitted (to U-M, at least) Prospects
According to several sources, including Rivals's Josh Helmholdt, who was kind enough to actually deliver the news outside of a paywall, Flint Powers DT Danny O'Brien has moved up his decision date to October 6th. I should be in attendance for this one unless the Powers athletic director confuses me with that other guy who uses the name Ace, in which case he'd be well within his right to kick me to the curb on sight. Luckily, I actually have credentials and stuff.
24/7's Steve Wiltfong calls Canton Glen Oak running back Bri'onte Dunn "college ready" ($, info in header), and quotes his high school coach saying Fred Jackson compared Dunn to Tyrone Wheatley, which means he obviously left out the part where Jackson added, "except with laser vision, the speed of a Lamborghini, and the raw power of the fictitious love-child of Earl Campbell and Mike Alstott." While the article is paywalled, Wiltfong added a pair of responses on The Blue Board after a poster said Dunn was "all OSU as long as they don't get hammered by the NCAA" [emphasis mine]:
This week on Weekday Warriors, the Farmington Hills Harrison duo continues to dominate, Matt Godin has another standout performance, and Ondre Pipkins is "shut down," for a very bizarre (read: wrong) definition of the term.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell dropped their fourth straight game with a 35-17 loss to Battle Ground Academy.
This week: The Big Red look for their second win of the season on Friday against Pearl-Cohn.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden helped Colerain hold Mason to just 87 yards rushing on 45 carries in a 56-20 Cardinals victory. He also had one rush for six yards and Colerain improved to 3-1 on the season.
This week: The Cardinals head to Middletown on Friday at 7:30.
MI OL Ben Braden
Braden helped Rockford overcome a slow start as the Rams ripped off 38 points following a touchdown pass with five seconds left in the first half, leading to a 41-16 win over West Ottawa.
This week: Rockford (3-1) hosts Muskegon on Friday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
No stats were available for Brown, who has been limited by a foot injury this season ($, info in header), but Brush was able to record their first victory of the season, 42-12, over winless Valley Forge.
This week: The Arcs hope to piece together a winning streak on the road at Twinsburg on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
Funchess caught four passes for 87 yards as top-ranked Harrison improved to 4-0 with a 34-7 victory over Oxford.
This week: The Hawks play at Southfield-Lathrup on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant caught two passes for seven yards, rushed twice for zero yards, and helped Southview's defense hold Napoleon to just 112 total yards in a 28-13 victory.
This week: In this week's Creeper Van Original game, Southview hosts Maumee on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin texted that he finished with 2 1/2 sacks and three tackles for loss in Detroit Catholic Central's 48-6 blowout win over Highland Park. The Shamrocks improved to 4-0 on the season, and 2013 recruit Wyatt Shallman rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown.
This week: The Shamrocks face Shane Morris's Warren De La Salle squad on Saturday at 7. Depending on game-day traffic, I might be able to make this game as well.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma sat out Highland's 29-0 victory over Clearfield with an ankle injury suffered in his previous game. He should be back in time to play this week.
This week: The Rams (4-1) take on Bountiful on Friday at 7.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech was the subject of the first part of this week's Creeper Van Original, and through three quarters of an eventual 36-6 blowout win over Cody, Jenkins-Stone recorded four tackles and had one catch for 28 yards. Highlights:
This week: The Technicians host King on Friday at 6.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Kalis played in his second game after returning from a knee injury and was apparently dominant ($, info in header) as St. Edward defeated Elder, 30-10, to move to 4-0 on the season.
This week: The Eagles play on Saturday night at 7 at home against Jefferson.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson's La Costa Canyon squad was blown out, 58-7, by San Clemente, but Scout.com's Scott Kennedy was on hand to check out Magnuson as he faced off against fellow blue-chip offensive tackle Kyle Murphy. Here are @ScoutKennedy's tweets about Magnuson from the game [emphasis mine]:
Not surprisingly, LT Magnuson is stoning DE kyle murphy right now. 2 OLs going against eachother, give advantage to one on offense #goblue
Draw play up the middle, Magnuson released Murphy, and had a key block downfield for a TD. 7-0 La Costa Canyon
Maguson is playing D as well, but they're lining him up of the opposite side of Murphy, just had a TFL #goblue
#michigan commit Erik Magnuson sacked #utes commit Travis Wilson to force a FG. San Clemente 24-7
I have a play that sums up the night, Camera iso on #michigan commit Magnuson. He stands up his guy, and in background, QB gets creamed
So, yeah, it doesn't sound like the big guy is getting a lot of help right now on a 1-2 LCC squad.
This week: The Mavericks travel to Redlands on Friday at 7.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia
Ojemudia recorded 12 tackles in Harrison's 34-7 win over Oxford.
This week: The Hawks play at Southfield-Lathrup on Friday at 7.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
First, a quote from the game story after Pipkins's Park Hill squad won 21-3 over Truman to improve to 3-1 [emphasis mine]:
“We moved the ball really well; it was just a couple penalties that kept us back,” added Truman center Cody Wiegers, who had the unenviable task of facing Park Hill’s Ondre Pipkins, a 320-pound lineman bound for Michigan.
“Me and my guard were able to shut (Pipkins) down. It’s little things we need to take care of ... getting mentally and physically tougher.”
And now, via Pipkins himself on Twitter, here are his stats from Friday:
15 tackles 1sack 4tackles for a loss
This week: The Trojans play Jefferson City at home on Friday at 7.
MI CB Terry Richardson
Richardson had one tackle (coming on offense after a Cody fumble recovery), didn't have a ball thrown his way, and caught two touchdown passes in Cass Tech's 36-6 victory over Cody.
This week: The Technicians host King on Friday at 6.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont won its first game of the season, 62-5, over Sidney. No stats are currently available for Ringer.
This week: Northmont plays host to Lebanon (long trip, amirite?) on Friday at 7:30.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's defeated U-D Jesuit, 34-0, in the second game of this week's CVO doubleheader. Though three quarters, Ross had tallied 11 tackles and two QB hurries, and WXYZ has more highlights from the game, including a quick quote from the future Wolverine:
This week: The Eaglets (3-1) host play Columbus St. Francis de Sales on Friday at 7:30.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills fell to 2013 blue-chip recruit Jalin Marshall and Middletown, 46-13, to fall to 2-2 on the year.
This week: The Highlanders travel to Lakota West at 7:30 on Friday.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
Standifer told me via Twitter that he recorded a fumble recovery and had a 30-yard reception on a fake punt as Crete-Monee defeated Glenbard South, 64-19.
This week: Crete-Monee play at Kankakee on Friday at 6.
OH DE Tom Strobel
Mentor remained undefeated on the season with a 52-14 victory over Mayfield. No stats are currently available for Strobel.
This week: The Cardinals plays host to Parma on Friday at 7.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Williams once again didn't record a catch in Sycamore's run-heavy attack, but playing tackle he helped the Aviators rush for 299 yards in a 24-0 shutout of Fairfield. Sycamore is now 4-0 on the season.
This week: The Aviators look to stay undefeated against Lakota East on Friday night at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
No stats to report for Wilson as Akron Buchtel recorded its first win of the season, 26-0, over Garfield.
This week: The Griffins host Ellet in a noon game on Sunday.
OH DE Chris Wormley:
Whitmer opened conference play with its third straight shutout, this one a 34-0 victory over St. Francis de Sales, to improve to 4-0 on the season.
This week we get another report from Mason Lowry, Whitmer's play-by-play man on WRSCSports.com:
The Whitmer D got excellent pressure on the St. Francis backfield all night, and Chris played a big part in that. SFS’ quarterback hurt his knee last week and was a game-time decision; he did play, but his mobility was clearly limited and he only threw 8 passes, many of which were slow-developing play action throws. Chris did have one very nice play in which he snuffed out a sweep in the backfield from the other side of the field, and being able to reach SFS’ speedy tailback is no mean feat. Beyond that, there were plenty of running plays in which four or five Panther defenders were in the backfield really quickly, causing havoc, with Chris being one of them.
If you haven’t seen Whitmer play in person, I really suggest you do so. This is a very fun team to watch that’s got several other DI prospects outside of Chris. Our left tackle is a Toledo commit, we’ve got an excellent free safety who has MAC offers and significant interest from Purdue, and a couple others that will probably play in the MAC as well. We’ve got a big one against St. John’s, which features Jack Miller’s younger brother on the line and QB Brogan Roback, who was at the UM-ND game on an unofficial visit. It’ll be televised on BCSN and ONN, but we’ll have the only live radio coverage of the game on WRSCsports.com with pregame starting at 6:30. Just sayin’.
Thanks to Mason for helping out, and for more updates on Whitmer football and Wormley you can follow him on Twitter @MLowry3.
This week: As Mason said, the Panthers have a big home game against St. John's Jesuit at 7 on Friday.
KY S Jeremy Clark
Clark caught a 35-yard touchdown pass to help Madisonville (4-1) defeat Union City 48-0.
This week: The Maroons play at Owensboro on Friday at 7.
MI QB Shane Morris
Morris struggled against Brother Rice in one of the biggest games of the weekend, completing just 6-of-16 passes for 61 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, but a QB sneak by the future Wolverine for a touchdown in overtime gave De La Salle (4-0) a thrilling 21-20 overtime victory. Morris on the final play:
Morris said that there was some dispute over the final play, as head coach Paul Verska was not sure if his quarterback could power the ball over the goal line.
"He didn't think I could do it," he said. "He asked me again if I believed and I screamed 'yes coach, I'll get it'. The line got a good push, we got in to score and got the kick to win the game."
This week: The Pilots play DCC at Lake Shore High School on Saturday at 7.
OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas rushed for 150 yards on 10 carries, including touchdown runs of 67 and 47 yards, but Marlington (3-1) dropped a stunner to Louisville (2-2), 35-28. The game was televised on Fox Sports Ohio, which has highlights of both Thomas TD runs:
That kid is quite fast, to say the least.
This week: The Dukes look to rebound at home against Salem on Friday at 7.
This week, the Creeper Van made its way to not one, but two local games, catching Cass Tech's Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson as they took on Cody, and then visiting Orchard Lake St. Mary's standout James Ross as he faced U-D Jesuit. Both teams featuring Michigan recruits rolled to easy victories, with Cass Tech taking the afternoon matchup, 36-6, and OLSM winning under the lights (NTUTL) with a 34-0 shutout. Here are exclusive (high definition!) highlights of Michigan's commits from both games:
On to the scouting reports...
Royce Jenkins-Stone: By my count, Jenkins-Stone had four tackles through three quarters before the van made an early exit to catch the second game. Much like the last time I saw him play, there was a concerted effort by his opponent to run away from him, but I must admit I was still disappointed by his performance overall. RJS has all the physical tools you'd like to see in a BCS-caliber linebacker, but it appeared either his effort or instincts were lacking at times (my, er, instinct is that the latter is more the issue, since RJS appears to be very into the game emotionally at all times)—this is no more apparent than in the third clip from the video, in which he bites hard on an end-around fake and leaves a huge gap for the quarterback to take off up the middle.
This is not to say that I don't think Jenkins-Stone is a good player—when he's aggressive, he does a good job of finding a way to the ball and either making a play or forcing the ballcarrier into the rest of the defense. I like the way he's able to shed blocks to get to where he wants to go, and his athleticism and size combine to be a huge asset, and if anything, he's just got to harness that athleticism and play more under-control—overpursuit was an issue on a couple plays, and I think he just needs to slow down a little to become a bigger playmaker at linebacker.
Terry Richardson: Friday's game was not exactly a showcase for Richardson, as Cody mostly ran the ball and when passing did not throw it in his direction—I didn't count a single play in which he was challenged through the air. Richardson blanketed his receiver, using his superior speed and quickness to stay step-for-step with his man, and there really wasn't an opportunity to pass on him at all. If a cornerback is practically invisible in the passing game, I'll take that as a good sign.
I was also encouraged by Richardson's physicality, considering his rather small stature. The first clip in his section above shows him playing bump-and-run and driving a wideout a few yards out of bounds without drawing a flag. Richardson also picked up a flag for holding when he got a little too aggressive in chucking the receiver more than five yards past the line of scrimmage, and while you don't like to see defensive backs drawing penalties, the fact that he was so effective in the bump-and-run was good to see.
Richardson's biggest impact came on offense, as there wasn't a returnable kickoff or punt in the time that I watched. His recorded his only tackle after a Cass Tech fumble, when he chased down a Cody defender from behind to mitigate the damage. Later in the game, he torched a defensive back from the slot for an easy 24-yard touchdown—his speed was on full display on that play. This wasn't an easy game to get a solid evaluation of Richardson, but I thought he played well.
James Ross: Ross, in stark contrast to RJS, was all over the field for OLSM, tallying 11 tackles and two QB hurries through a little more than three quarters of play. Ross was never caught out of position and did a fantastic job of diagnosing plays, using his instincts and athleticism to stymie Jesuit's running and short passing attacks with apparent ease.
From the middle linebacker position, Ross covers the field sideline-to-sideline in a fashion that reminds me (lofty comparison alert!) of former Michigan beast-backer and current New York Jet David Harris. No matter where the ball ended up on the field, Ross was there at the end of the play, either making the tackle himself or cleaning up the pile. He plays up on his toes at the beginning of the snap, as you can see on the video, and this allows him to easily go in whatever direction the play takes him with speed.
When Ross got his hands on a ballcarrier, it was over—his open-field tackling was very solid, especially on a screen pass in which he avoided three oncoming blockers and wrapped up the running back for a minimal gain on a play that should've gone for at least ten yards. His low center of gravity allows him to take on blocks and either knock his man back or simply use his quick feet to slip by entirely, the latter being his preferred method for wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Ross also played occasionally as a back in OLSM's wing-T, and while he didn't carry the ball he did deliver a few punishing blocks, including one that took out two Jesuit defenders and sprung his running back for a touchdown. While this didn't help in evaluating him as a linebacker, Ross was able to show off his strength, always knocking defenders backward when he made contact.
My one concern with Ross is his size. He's listed on Rivals at 6'0", but I think that's generous by at least an inch or two, and it will be interesting to see how much weight he can pack on to his 209-pound frame before he starts losing some speed and agility—he already looks like he's beginning to max out his frame. Otherwise, I thought he was the most polished prospect I've seen so far on the recruiting trail, just edging out Matt Godin in that regard, and I think he'll be a big-time player at the next level.
Apologies for the lack of action photos, as I was scouting these games solo and spent most of the time taking video before my camera died at just about the time that OLSM began putting in their backups. Here are a few shots from Cass Tech vs. Cody...
...and here's my set from OLSM vs. U-D Jesuit:
This Week: The van heads down to the Toledo area to see Allen Gant's undefeated Southview squad take on Maumee (3-1).
Michigan bolstered their special teams depth and added a scholarship-level punter on the cheap yesterday when Fenton (MI) punter Kenny Allen agreed to join the team in 2012 as a preferred walk-on. Allen should provide quality insurance in case Will Hagerup gets the proverbial third strike and could easily be a multi-year starter once (well, I guess if) Hagerup graduates.
|NR P||2*, #13 K||2*, #33 K||NR P|
Unfortunately, none of the recruiting websites that have Allen ranked evaluate him as a punter, but they do have a couple evaluations available, though they all agree that he's in the 6'3", 190-pound range, for whatever that's worth. Scout has this report from kicking guru Chris Sailer:
Kenny is a great combo prospect (K/P). A good athlete that shows great potential in all areas. Has the skills to be one of the very best. A hard worker, that will only continue to improve. Kenny is big, tall, strong, and athletic. A great combo prospect. Punts for great distance and shows nice consistency. Definite D1A prospect.
ESPN has this to add ($):
Kenny is a very good kicker/punter. His strength right now is his punting. He showed very well at a Kohl's training camp and will be a very good college punter. His frame and overall leg speed make him an attractive punting candidate. The ball jumps off his foot and he does a good job of presenting a consistent target to hit with his drop. Kenny is a college level punter from a talent perspective.
Sailer has a website with his own independent recruiting rankings, and he has Allen as 4.5-star prospect (five being a Division I prospect, four being Division II, and so on), and ranks him as the #10 specialist overall and #2 combo prospect (there are also two other punters ahead of him) in the high school ranks in 2011. Sailer's latest evaluation of Allen:
Kenny is a very talented young punter. He has the size and athleticism to dominate in this area. Can hit a huge ball. Also a great kicker. A top combo prosepect [sic] in the Class of 2012. Will be a scholarship pick!
Allen also came in for praise in February at Jamie Kohl's Midwest kicking camp:
Three punters that impressed were Kenny Allen, a 2012 punter from Fenton High School in Michigan, R.J. Bain, a 2012 punter from Michigan and Sean Decloux from Canada. Allen's smooth mechanics and long frame should draw college interest in the years to come.
Finally, a couple of self-evaluations from Allen himself, the first from the Flint Journal...
The right-footed kicker indicated that he has been booting field goals in the 50-yard range during the Tigers' practices this summer.
"I feel I contribute a lot," Allen said. "I've been growing, getting a lot stronger with my legs. "I've been fixing my mechanics and working out the errors.I've kicked thousands of footballs. It's like muscle memory."
...and then this fantastic quote from a paywalled article on 247Sports [emphasis mine]:
“My strength is consistency,” Allen said. “On my bad ones, it’s still good.”
So, Kenny Allen turns bad into good. I like this.
Allen held a scholarship offer from Oregon State, and Rivals reports he had interest from Alabama, Iowa, LSU, Miami (YTM), and a host of MAC schools.
Sailer reports that through the first few weeks of this season, Allen averaged 43.0 yards per punt.
Junior stats via the Flint Journal:
Allen averaged 39.1 yards per punt as a junior, with his longest effort being 71 yards against Walled Lake Central on Nov. 12, 2010.
He was 3-of-5 on field goal attempts and had 37 touchbacks. He was an unanimous All-Metro League first-team pick as a punter while earning honorable mention honors as a kicker.
71 yards? Yes, please.
FAKE 40 TIME
He's a punter.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Don't let the walk-on tag fool you—Allen is a scholarship-level punter, as the Oregon State offer
belies shows. Allen will arrive on campus when Hagerup is a junior and—barring any further off-field shenanigans from Hagerup—he should be able to redshirt in his first year on campus. That'll leave him with another year as Hagerup's apprentice, then he'll compete with Matt Wile (who has struggled thus far with his punting and could just stick to kicking) for the starting job as a redshirt sophomore. From the looks of it, Allen should help Michigan have a seamless transition after Hagerup graduates, and provide quality depth at the position in case of injury/suspension.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since Allen is a walk-on, even turning down at least one scholarship opportunity to play for his home-state team, he won't factor in to the oncoming numbers crunch as the Wolverines finish out the 2012 class. The needs continue to be at wide receiver, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, and perhaps running back.
In this week's Thursday Recruitin', effusive praise of the Under the Lights experience abounds, Danny O'Brien nears a decision, the 2013 Scout 100 is released, and there's even some basketball recruiting news. 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.
If You Weren't In Ann Arbor, You Were Wrong
It's tough to find a recruit who was in attendance that would disagree with that sentiment. From the non-paywalled articles, here are quotes from Devin Funchess...
"That was a live game," he said. "I got down when Notre Dame scored the wide open touchdown, but Michigan did a lot with 30 seconds. It was a great game and a great comeback and I want to be a part of it next year."
“It was fantastic,” Gant said of the atmosphere. “Especially being in the biggest stadium in college football, there’s no greater feeling then that. Especially being the first night game at Michigan Stadium, it was fantastic. Listening to all the music going on between the plays… it made me want to go out there and play right away.”
...and Terry Richardson:
"This is why I committed," he said. "This is why I set my plans to Michigan. It's a great university. We have to come here and try to carry on the big time tradition."
The incredible game and atmosphere had an impact on the uncommitted visitors, as well. Gant sat next to WA OL Zach Banner and CA WR Jordan Payton, and he thinks the experience gave Michigan a big leg up in each of their recruitments [emphasis mine]:
“I actually sat right next to them. We built a pretty good relationship and it was a good experience being with them. I think that Zach and Jordan think this is a great atmosphere to be in and playing in front of 114,000 people is just an unbelievable experience. I feel like at the end of the day, Ann Arbor is where they want to be.”
Even from the premium articles, it's easy to get a sense of how well the visits went for, well, everyone. [Note: All of these should come with a ($), but it seemed ridiculous to insert that after every single link for the rest of this section.] Banner was "blown away," by the Big House, telling 24/7 that Michigan "definitely moved up my board." Danny O'Brien (more on him later) called the experience "electric." Jordan Payton deemed the trip "amazing," and said Michigan is his leader—he might even move up his announcement, though he won't reveal a date yet. Erik Magnuson quipped "there's nothing like it." Caleb Stacey? Simply speechless.
Of course, the Wolverines didn't play host to just the seniors. 2013 DB Shaquille Wiggins tweeted after the game, "I can't wait to go to Michigan I jus want those new uniforms.." The Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek standout, who holds a U-M offer, named a new leader this week ($). I'll give you zero guesses, because duh.
The visit set the bar ($) for Pickerington (OH) Central DE Taco Charlton, who also earned an offer from the coaches this week and now has the Wolverines among his leaders. For Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OT Kyle Bosch, the trip exceeded his expectations ($). Toledo (OH) St. John's DE Matt Miller, younger brother of Michigan offensive lineman Jack, appears to have enjoyed himself as well:
All that, and I've yet to mention that Dymonte Thomas, one of the top juniors in Ohio and a blue-chip recruit at both running back and safety, committed on the spot Saturday. This "night game" concept just might catch on, guys.
Danny O'Brien Sets a Date and More 2012 News
Flint Powers defensive tackle Danny O'Brien will make his much-anticipated announcement during his school's homecoming rally on October 7th, choosing between Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, and Michigan State ($, info in header). As Scout's Sam Webb notes on his new Twitter page, that announcement comes before planned official visits to Tennessee and Michigan State, the two schools that seem to have the best shot at him outside of Michigan. Having a "Hello" post prepared by the first week in October seems like it would be a good idea.
Our good friend TomVH reports that wideout Amara Darboh will take an official visit to Michigan on either November 19th or 26th, coinciding with the Nebraska and Ohio State games, respectively ($, info in header). Darboh initially planned on visiting for the Western Michigan game, but wasn't able to make it in that weekend—I wouldn't read much into that, especially with the rescheduled visit, and I think Michigan is in good position with Darboh.
Don Bosco Prep (NJ) defensive back Yuri Wright has one official visit set ($, info in header), and since this is a Michigan site, you can probably guess where that visit is going to be. He hasn't decided on a date yet, but it looks like he'll be in Ann Arbor within the next month. He has a final six of Michigan, Rutgers, Georgia, Notre Dame, Cal, and Michigan State.
The Wolverines may be in line for a surprise visit from five-star Sacramento (CA) Grant safety Shaq Thompson ($, info in header). Thompson has the ability to play multiple positions, has fantastic size (6'2", 210), and is the type of prospect you don't really say no to, so it will be very interesting to see what happens if Michigan gets him on campus—I doubt the coaches would turn him away because of a numbers crunch.
Quickly: Michael Rothstein profiles Greg Mattison and his recruiting prowess at WolverineNation. Also at WN, TomVH counts down Michigan's top ten most important commits in the class, with Caleb Stacey the No. 10 most important commit ($), Devin Funchess No. 9 ($), and Terry Richardson No. 8 (free). MLive's Kyle Warber caught up with Mario Ojemudia for an interview last week. Good Cousel (MD) five-star receiver Stefon Diggs will trim his list down to eight on October 1st, and is looking at Auburn, Miami, Florida, and possibly Clemson for official visits—he'll be a tough pull, and Michigan needs to find a way to get him on campus if they want a shot. Fullback commit Sione Houma's ankle injury, suffered during his game last week, is not serious, and he should be back on the field within two weeks.
Dymonte Thomas Commits, 2013 Scout 100 Released
As mentioned above, Alliance (OH) Marlington S/RB Dymonte Thomas committed to Michigan after the Notre Dame game. You can find much more in my "Hello" post, but here's some delicious bitterness from the Duane Long Report's Jerry Beeson [emphasis mine]:
Friday night I had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the Marlington Dukes and star junior Dymonte Thomas as they traveled to Mahoning county to take on Poland. I was hoping to witness a future Buckeye, but after watching Michigan's come from behind win over the Irish of Notre Dame, word has come down that Thomas has verbally committed to Michigan. Key word being verbal, but I'll leave that at that.
Um, Jerry? All commitments are "verbal" until signing day. That's how this whole thing works. Deal with it. Making that statement even more ridiculous is the fact that, a few weeks ago, DUANE LONG wrote on the very same site that Ohio State wasn't showing enough interest in Thomas, and he was a "baffling non-offer." That same article also proclaims Michigan's newest commit both the best running back and the best safety in Ohio's class of '13, which is nice. Thomas will play safety when he takes the field for the Wolverines.
Speaking of Thomas, he earned a four-star rating in the newly-released Scout 100, which gives players star ratings but no rankings yet—the full list is simply ordered by stars and then position. Thomas is among the top seven safeties in the country, while fellow commit Shane Morris is one of just 12 players (and two quarterbacks) to earn a five-star rating. Here's a list of Michigan targets who made the list (all are four-stars except Jalin Marshall and Michael Hutchings; positions are what's listed on Scout, not necessarily what they'd play at Michigan):
- Middletown (OH) RB Jalin Marshall
- Concord (CA) De La Salle OLB Michael Hutchings
- Sammamish (WA) Skyline QB Max Browne
- Wayne (NJ) Hills QB Kevin Olsen
- Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac
- Destrehan (LA) WR Rickey Jefferson
- Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff TE Adam Breneman
- Midland (MI) OT Steven Elmer
- Dallas (TX) Lake Highlands OT Kent Perkins
- Huber Heights (OH) Wayne OT Lovell Peterson
- Lemont (IL) Township OT Ethan Pocic
- Lake City (FL) Columbia OT Laremy Tunsil
- Parker (CO) Ponderosa OG Christopher Fox
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel
- Detroit Catholic Central DE Wyatt Shallman (offered by U-M as a tailback)
- Hudson (OH) OLB Ben Gedeon
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton OLB E.J. Levenberry
- Bloomfield (MI) Brother Rice OLB Jon Reschke
- Fort Wayne (IN) Biship Luers OLB Jaylon Smith
- Matthews (NC) Butler MLB Peter Kalambayi
- Indianapolis (IN) Warren Central MLB Tim Kimbrough
- Murrieta (CA) Vista S Su'a Cravens
- Trotwood (OH) Madison CB Cameron Burrows
Michigan has at least some interest from a full 25% of next year's Scout 100, and with the 2013 class shaping up to be much smaller (probably 18-20 players, depending on attrition) than 2012, the Wolverines will be able to pick and choose from among the nation's elite.
Quickly: Tom has a feature article on Steve Elmer ($), and while the article is paywalled, you can see his video interview with Elmer for free here. To quote the great Keith Jackson, if Elmer keeps eating his cornbread, he'll be man-sized some day. According to the 24/7 message boards, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin are in a lead group for Elmer over Michigan State.
Yes, basketball. Sam Webb's latest DetNews article focused on five-star 2012 big man Mitch McGary, and extensively quotes his AAU coach, who is definitely a fan of John Beilein:
"The post player is intimately and intricately involved in John Beilein's system," [AAU coach Wayne] Brumm explained. "I don't know anybody who runs a better offensive system for a post player than Michigan. So I have to say, why not (Michigan as a possible destination)? Everybody else is (analyzing McGary's recruitment) like they're a friggin fan. We're trying to pick a school that is in Mitch's best interest."
Brumm added: "John Beilein can flat-out coach. The people I talk to and the coaches I talk to, I'll flat-out tell you — they are scared of John Beilein. They are worried about the day he starts getting the talent that they've got (at their schools). He's been at a bunch of places that he couldn't recruit high-major talent. Now he's at Michigan and it looks like he is making some headway there. When he starts with an even slate in terms of talent, look out! Look what he did last year. Look what he did with Darius Morris, Timmy Hardaway, and look what he has done with Jordan Morgan. My goodness, isn't anybody paying attention?"
[raises hand] The article also quotes a Scout national hoops recruiting analyst who says that Michigan "is certainly right there, if not at the top, very close to it," in terms of McGary's recruitment. McGary himself has a blog on ESPN Rise, and he recapped his recent visits to Michigan, North Carolina, and Duke:
I would say that the part that stood out most about the visit was the fans and just how much love they showed me. I really wasn’t expecting all of that. People talk about the Cameron Crazies at Duke, but that’s how it was at Michigan too. Those fans showed me the most love of the three visits.
Fans chanted "Mitch Mc-Ga-ry" during the Western Michigan game, and that caught the big man's attention. In the blog, he also debunks rumors he committed to both UNC and Duke while also saying that he'd like to check out Kentucky, Maryland, and Florida, but he's "not sure" he'll make it to those schools. The Wolverines have turned into a serious player—perhaps even the favorite?—in a recruitment that felt like a pipe dream not very long ago.
Joe Eberhardt of UMHoops caught up with 2013 commit Glenn Robinson III for an interview, and they discussed Robinson's AAU teammate... Mitch McGary:
This summer, I was recruiting [McGary] hard and I know Michigan is in his top 5. I know he had a great time on his visit to Michigan. He’s my best friend and we are really like brothers. I want him to do what is best for him, but I’ll try to do what I can do to recruit him to Michigan. I really don’t know know where he is going to end up, but I hope he comes to Michigan. I know he’s still taking visits and making a decision, but I don’t think it will be too much longer before he decides.
According to UMHoops, Michigan now has a new target in the 2013 class in rising Texas big man Dominic Woodson, who now claims a Wolverine offer:
New England recruiting expert Adam Finkelstein describes Woodson as “a poor man’s Dejuan Blair, a power player and space eater inside the lane who bullies his opponents on both ends of the floor.” Most importantly, Woodson lists an offer from Michigan as well as Oklahoma, Michigan State and Baylor with interest from Louisville, Florida, UConn and Texas. An offer would likely have to be made official by a visit to campus but the Michigan interest appears sincere with Beilein and Bacari attending open gym.
He sounds like a contingency plan if Beilein and Co. can't land McGary, especially given the limited number of available scholarships in the next couple classes.
Finally, Dylan posts his own recruiting class rankings for 2013, and the Wolverines currently sit atop the list, though it's still very early in the process (half the conference, including Michigan State, has yet to land a commit).