Today's recruiting roundup revels in the wake of Derrick Green's commitment and has the latest updates on Denzel Ward, Henry Poggi, and more.
Hello: Derrick Green
In case the rock you live under still isn't wi-fi capable, I have good news: Derrick Green, the nation's top-ranked running back, committed to Michigan on Saturday. He gets the full "Hello" treatment here, and below is local news coverage featuring video of his announcement:
Green's remarkable physical transformation—he entered high school at 268 pounds—is recounted in Sam Webb's latest DetNews article, which also gives a look into Green's recruitment. Green calls Fred Jackson "a father figure," and Brady Hoke managed to have a huge impact before ever meeting him in person [emphasis mine]:
With those bonds fortified there was one important connection left to be made — the one with Hoke. Even in his absence Michigan's head coach managed to begin that process with a gesture that resonates with his prized recruit to this day.
Said [Green's mother, Fran] Knight, "When we went (on the March 18 visit), he wasn't there. His dad had just passed, but I was amazed how even though he was going through the situation with his father passing, he still took the time out to call Derrick and let him know that he really wanted him there, he really wanted to be there, (and) he was looking forward to meeting him. That spoke volumes to me about the type of person he was."
If you'd like to see more scouting on Green, the DetNews also has blurbs from several Scout analysts.
In other current commit news, 247 named David Dawson and Patrick Kugler to their All-American first team for the class of 2013. Kyle Bosch and Henry Poggi earned second-team nods.
Speaking of Poggi, multiple outlets have confirmed that he did visit Alabama last weekend, and the Tide are actively recruiting him. While the exact nature of the visit is unclear—some say it was a visit to a friend on the team while others say that he took an official, and the Poggis are staying quiet—the general sense from insiders is that he'll still end up at Michigan in the end.
After a move to Florida—one that reportedly came as a surprise to the coaches—a parting of the ways between Michigan and 2014 commit Denzel Ward seemed inevitable. Today, it came to pass:
I am no longer a commit to the University of Michigan, I really appreciare the love from there but I just want to make the best decision.
— Denzel Ward (@DW75_) January 29, 2013
Michigan Leads For Doles
In-state 2014 OL Tommy Doles was on campus again last weekend, this time to check out the academic side of things, and per GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz the trip cemented Michigan at the top of his list ($):
“It helped a lot,” said Doles. “I can say Michigan is the frontrunner now. I wasn’t ready to make a commitment or anything – I think I still want to see what the options are. I think I’m just not quite ready to make a decision yet, but Michigan is a good option at this point."
Doles may take his time and check out some other options, but at this point it's tough to see him winding up anywhere but Michigan.
Per multiple sources, including 247's Clint Brewster($), Michigan offered 2014 five-star GA DE Lorenzo Carter. Carter holds one of the most impressive offer sheets in the country—pulling a five-star deep out of SEC country is a tall task, so until further notice don't get expectations too high for him.
The Best Kind Of Touchdowns
I’ve been in hibernation for a couple weeks working on getting all of my recruiting data in order and wanted to open a first post on the 2013 class by looking at how the overall picture of the top classes looks.
A quick refresher on the methods I use to rate recruits. Each recruit is given an overall ranking at each of the four major recruiting sites. For recruits in the top 250-300 the site gives that rating themselves. For recruits outside of the top threshold, I use an implied value based on position rating and player grade (available for everyone but Scout) to produce a final player ranking for all players. This ranking is then applied to a log scale so that the very top players are given an extra “bonus.” A unanimous #1 like Robert Nkemdiche is this year will finish with a rating of 99 points. Michigan’s top recruit Derrick Green, is the 21st highest rated player overall and is rated at 80 points. David Dawson is #101 at 58 points and a player on the fringes of the national rating like #305 Maurice Hurst are worth about 40 points.
Michigan’s top rivals are all having outstanding recruiting seasons as well. To gauge the classes, I have plotted each of the teams' commitments alongside each other, ranked from highest to lowest.
Where’s the threat?
Notre Dame’s class features the best #1 with the class (Jaylon Smith), #2 (Max Redfield) and #3 (Greg Bryant) before falling back in line with Michigan’s class.
Despite a marquee name at the top, Ohio State features the strongest overall top ten before the depth falls below Notre Dame and Michigan.
The strength of this Michigan class is in the quality depth. All 26 of the Wolverine position player commits rank in the top 750 nationally.
Meanwhile in East Lansing there is a clear talent gap as the peak is significantly lower and the decline is even faster. Any thoughts that the Spartans had of closing the recruiting gap seem laughable at this point.
The National Elite
In addition to Notre Dame and Ohio State, four teams from the SEC along with USC are making runs at the nation’s top 2013 recruiting class.
Michigan, Florida and LSU all have nearly identical classes with only slight deviations in player rating at each level.
Alabama is very strong through the top 10 but features a serious decline from there on.
Texas A&M is this year’s packed house with over 30 commits. There is a definite separation through the bulk of their class and the rest of the national elite, but without a sharp dropoff at the tail, the class is more than just a collection of also-rans.
USC’s class is small due to the NCAA sanctions but is absolutely loaded. The Trojans feature only 14 commitments but every single one of them are in top 200 players nationally.
Picking A Winner
Splitting hairs over which class is slightly better at this point in time is a mostly absurd. As you can see, the margins between the top classes are very slim and although I am a firm believer in recruiting ratings at a high level, there are a lot of classes within the margin for error for top class.
With that in mind, it’s seven months until the next meaningful college football game and so let’s assess the contenders using various methodologies.
Add ‘Em Up
Probably the simplest method, take each recruit for each team and add up their points and see who has the most. Using this method we currently have a top ten that looks like this:
Certainly not a bad way to look at it but the huge class at Texas A&M certainly seems to be overrated in this method. Add to that the opportunity cost by loading up a single class in terms of ability to offer the future, and this look is insightful but a bit incomplete.
Average ‘Em Up
An average versus a sum takes away the issue of opportunity cost lost by over-offering the current season and looks at where each team ranks on players committed, taking away the class size bonus.
USC small class size becomes irrelevant in this rating as the difference between their class and #2 Alabama is the same as #2 and #9. Michigan still finishes a solid 7th.
This method also has its drawbacks as now the opportunity cost is reversed. It values teams holding their offers for future classes, potentially costing the team opportunities in the present if they can’t keep a full scholarshipped roster.
A Player Rank Approach
One way I have been looking at classes this year is similar to the graphs above. Comparing each team’s Nth recruit versus all of the other classes to see how they stack up. With a limit of 25 scholarships per class, I gave the best 1st in class player 25 points, the second best player who was the best in his team’s class 24 etc. For each subsequent team spot, I dropped the points and players evaluated by 1 so for each team’s 25th best player, only the top one received a single point.
|Player||Pts||Mich Rank||Nth best rank||Team Pts|
Based on this method each of Michigan’s top 15 commitments garnered at least 10. Jake Butt at #13 and Ben Gedeon at #15 where each the top players are their respective position within the class (No other team had a 13th or 15th best player rated as high as these two). Shane Morris, despite his senior year slide, earned Michigan’s highest point total with 18 points as the 5th best #4 prospect in any current class.
The hybrid approach puts Michigan at #5, behind top rated Notre Dame but just ahead of Ohio State.
In the end it really is splitting hairs with high degree of variability. Michigan’s class is probably not the #1 class but it is certainly a top 5 class with lots of quality depth. With back to back elite classes under its belt, Michigan should return to national elite roster levels within the next 2-3 seasons, a position it hasn’t been in since 2007.
Rejoice, Michigan fans. Richmond (VA) Hermitage running back Derrick Green—the nation's top-ranked RB on Scout and Rivals—announced his commitment to Michigan this afternoon, choosing the Wolverines over Auburn and Tennessee. Green is Michigan's 27th commit of the 2013 class, joining DeVeon Smith and Wyatt Shallman among running backs.
With Green's commitment, feel free to dance on the grave of the "Brady Hoke can't close on elite skill position prospects" meme. It will not be missed.
5*, #1 RB,
5*, #1 RB,
4*, 87, #5 RB,
4*, 95, #8 RB,
According to The Mathlete's composite rankings, Green is the highest-ranked running back to commit to Michigan since 2002—narrowly edging out Kevin Grady—and sixth overall (the top five: Prescott Burgess, Ryan Mallett, LaMarr Woodley, Brandon Graham, Chad Henne). He's the first truly elite running back recruit Michigan has landed since Grady; going by Rivals, the top-ranked Wolverine RB commit since 2005 is Carlos Brown (#35 overall), then there's a significant drop to Justice Hayes (#85).
Both Rivals and Scout consider Green the top running back prospect in the country and a top-eight recruit overall, while ESPN and 247 are less bullish but still have him as one of the better backs in the country. He's listed between 5'11" and 6'0" tall and around 220 pounds, figures that should be accurate considering his multiple combine appearances.
If you're looking for a prospect in the mold of a classic Michigan tailback, Derrick Green is it. Scout lists his strengths as Power, Size, and Tackle-Breaking Ability, with Breakaway Speed, Elusiveness, and Hands as areas for improvement, and offers this scouting report [emphasis mine]:
A powerful running back who can blow through arm tackles and typically takes more than one defender to bring him down, Green has surprisingly quick feet for his size. He can clear traffic between the tackles, not getting tripped up because of his good balance. Not a conventional breakaway threat because of raw speed, but gets his share of long runs after breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage. Needs to catch more consistently - Scott Kennedy
Can you envision the MANBALL yet? Here's ESPN's evaluation:
Green is quick to get downhill and attack the hole and he gains momentum fast. He follows blocks well and cuts tightly off through the hole, but is not a real patient runner and can struggle to get thin through smaller seams. He lacks fluidity through the hips as a lateral runner but shows sharp, subtle cutbacks and deceptive pick-and-slide ability at times. While he can sidestep and avoid tacklers, he is at his best when squared up and given a heavy dose of Iso and Power plays. Even on outside tosses or stretch plays, he is quick to plant and get north finding the vertical crease. Not a lot of wasted cuts with this guy. He flashes the burst to get through tight in-line seams and into the second level quickly. Displays very good power to break tackles. He is an aggressive runner who drags tacklers and finishes runs falling forward.
Defenders are not going to tackle him high when he breaks free into open field, but he does have a tendency to get chopped down low and lose balance. We would like to see him run more behind his pads with better lean and knee pump.
ESPN's Dave Hooker profiled Green last May, discussing his transformation from a 268-pound offensive lineman into a 220-pound battering ram and his prowess in the weight room:
Green's dedication to diet and training hasn't just moved the scale. It has moved massive amounts of weight. Green bench presses 330 pounds, squats 600 pounds and dead-lifts 615.
"Everybody says that's not legit, but we have a legit trainer that came from UVa," he said. "He makes sure you get low [on squats] and all that."
Nope, no concerns there.
Mike Farrell handed out awards after this summer's Rivals/VTO Virginia camp, and you'll never guess who won "Physical Specimen" ($):
Derrick Green from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage looks like a man-child. If you put him in a Wisconsin uniform and helmet, you'd think he was a college senior coming off a 2,000-yard season. His legs are beyond strong and thick and he looks like a human bowling ball, ready to knock down pin after pin heading to the end zone.
Farrell also raved about Green's frame when Rivals bumped him up to five stars, also noting that he's a more well-rounded back than previously thought:
"Green looks physically like a college junior," Farrell said. "If you put him in any college uniform right now and told someone who had never seen him that he was a 1,500-yard rusher, they wouldn't blink an eye. Plus he's shown the ability to block and catch passes now, so he's gone from a two-down back to an every-down guy. He's the most physically impressive running back we've seen in awhile."
Green went to the Army All-American Game looking to prove he was the nation's best back. In the eyes of Rivals and Scout, he did just that, earning the East's #1 performer of the week honors from the former ($)...
Coming to San Antonio with a target on his back didn't seem to bother Green. The running backs on the East and West team tried to dethrone the nation's No. 1 back but were unsuccessful. In practices and in the game, Green ran with toughness and speed, cut very well and showed he has the vision to make an early impact at the next level. His signature moment was a 23-yard run in the game during which he broke at least two tackles.
...and top ten East in-game performer status from the latter:
Green finished the game with 49 yards on eight carries. A bowling ball style back with low center of gravity, he showed his burst and explosiveness at times today. He's not just a power guy. We didn't see the receiving skills he showed during the week in the game, but we know he can do it and that combination of skills has him as the nation's second ranked running back.
You get the gist: Derrick Green is a tank/bowling ball/Mack truck/beast/freight train/specimen/man-child who will run POWER, take it north-south, and attempt to imprint the nearest defender's ribs with the wings on his helmet. He's also got a little wiggle for a guy his size, decent speed, and the ability to catch passes out of the backfield, but first and foremost this is a guy you hand the ball off to out of the I-form until the defense cries uncle.
Green chose Michigan over offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami (YTM), Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and several others.
Per his 247 profile, Green rushed for 1,285 yards and 20 touchdowns on 185 carries in his senior season. He tallied 1,493 yards and 20 TDs as a junior and 800 yards and ten TDs in his sophomore year.
FAKE 40 TIME
There was a rumored 4.31 40 time floating around at some point, which gets ALL OF THE FAKES. 247 lists a far more reasonable 4.58, which is the number I'd put the most stock in, while Rivals goes with a 4.4. Green shows off good but not elite speed on film, and a 4.58 electronic time would fall in that range.
Clips from the Army All-American Bowl:
Scouts aren't kidding when they say Green runs north-south; he's heading upfield as soon as he gets a crease. He displays solid quickness and subtle-but-effective cuts, though there aren't as many long runs or brutal truckings of tiny high school safeties as one might hope.
While Green shows great burst through the line and decisiveness in his cuts, there's a clear need for improvement when he breaks into the open field. As ESPN noted in his scouting report, Green gets chopped down at the legs too easily, a product of running too upright and not getting his knees high when running through contact. If Green can improve in that area, he goes from a power back that consistently picks up chunks of yardage to more of a home-run threat. Overall, however, he's still quite impressive on film.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If Green lives up to the reports of solid pass-catching and blocking, he's the type of back that eliminates any need for a rotation; just trot him out there and hand him the rock 20-25 times a game. After Fitz Toussaint, who will be a senior when Green is a freshman—assuming he's recovered from a brutal leg injury—it's uncertain if there's another back on the roster you could say that about.
After an ugly 2012 for Michigan backs, Green should compete right away for a starting job, and he could be the odds-on favorite if Toussaint can't find his 2011 form (a difficult task given his injury). Al Borges has a stated preference for using a feature back over a committee approach, and Green could be that guy. Even if he doesn't land the starting job, it's hard to see him not being part of a rotation, and a redshirt seems out of the question.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Now that Green's recruitment is over, Michigan awaits the decision of TX TE Durham Smythe (currently planning to make his choice on signing day), and otherwise it appears they've wrapped up the 2013 class barring any late offers.
The real upshot, of course, is that Michigan now has the #1 running back recruit in the class, which is cause for celebratory dancing:
Today's recruiting roundup covers the final 2013 Rivals250, a pair of new 2015 (yes, 2015) offers, a possible 2014 QB offer, and more.
Derrick Green Day Countdown
The top running back in the country decides between Michigan, Auburn, and Tennessee on Saturday at 4 pm. Let the anticipation build:
HURRY UP, WEEKEND.
Final 2013 Rivals250: Trending Down
The final 2013 recruiting rankings haven't been kind to Michigan's class, and the last of the four services to roll out their final update—Rivals—is no exception. Eleven Wolverine commits are in the updated Rivals250, but none are ranked above #70 (Henry Poggi) and all but Jourdan Lewis fell in the rankings:
- Henry Poggi dropped from #68 to #70
- Shane Morris dropped from #27 to #81
- Patrick Kugler dropped from #79 to #82
- Kyle Bosch dropped from #99 to #104
- Dymonte Thomas dropped from #107 to #109
- Mike McCray dropped from #88 to #115
- Jourdan Lewis rose from #147 to #131
- Chris Fox dropped from #123 to #142
- Jake Butt dropped from #141 to #144
- Taco Charlton dropped from #231 to #237
- Ross Douglas dropped from #238 to #241
- Logan Tuley-Tillman dropped off the list from #245
Derrick Green remains the top running back on the board and moved up to #8 overall, which hopefully will be relevant—he would be Michigan's highest-ranked commit on Rivals since Ryan Mallett in 2007.
It's clear that Shane Morris's uneven performance at the Under Armour Bowl—in both practice and the actual game—was a big hit to his recruiting stock, especially in the wake of a mono-shortened senior season. Only Scout has kept him as a five-star, while he's no longer the highest-ranked Michigan commit on the other three sites, which rank him #81, #81, and #127 overall.
I think the drop across the board for Morris is justified. I've seen him in person several times at this point and he definitely has five-star potential, but there were certain aspects of his game—accuracy and decision-making, most prominently—that needed improvement after his junior year. Morris was unable to show strides in that regard while missing most of his senior season, however, and when it came time to prove himself on the camp and All-American circuit he couldn't shake his inconsistency.
He's still got great potential—I've never seen a high school quarterback with that level of arm strength—and being a top-100 recruit doesn't make you chopped liver. It just didn't make sense for the recruiting sites to keep him above prospects who've been able to show off much more in their senior seasons.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on two new 2015 offers, Michigan's 2014 QB situation, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest NCAA rulebook changes, a change in plans for Durham Smythe, a possible 2014 commit, and more.
NCAA Deregulation: All Of The Text Messages
Kelvin Sampson, presumably after hearing about the latest NCAA rule changes
On Saturday, the NCAA approved several rule changes that will have a major impact on recruiting. As part of an ongoing effort by NCAA president Mark Emmert to slim down a bloated rulebook, the changes are largely of the deregulation variety. To wit:
- Proposal 13-3 "will eliminate restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting."
- Proposal 13-5-A eliminates restrictions on mailing printed recruiting materials.
That means, starting with the class of 2014, coaches can call, text, tweet, facebook, snapchat, or use whatever other form of communication they so desire to contact recruits as often as they want (recruiting dead periods aside, of course). It'll be open season on snail mail, too.
On the positive side, this means the NCAA can stop paying investigators to tally phone calls, and coaches can no longer get a recruiting edge by ignoring limits on communication (looking at you, Mr. Sampson). The negative is obvious: big-time recruits, already inundated with calls and texts from coaches and reporters alike, now must brace themselves for more of the same—especially with the potential for a recruiting arms race as coaches fall over themselves to make sure they're recruiting a prospect the "hardest".*
The other notable changes to recruiting involve the NCAA removing limits on which staff members can recruit. The Bylaw Blog's John Infante outlined the ramifications for Proposal 11-2, which eliminates the rule that recruiting functions must be performed by a head or assistant coach, in conjunction with deregulated communication with recruits:
The potential model of recruiting that develops is very clear. A general manager/director of player personnel will have a staff of recruiting coordinators who do much of the early grunt work in recruiting. They’ll watch film, gauge interest, rank prospects, and evaluate needs. The coaching staff will go see top targets in person, invite prospects on visits, and go see recruits at home or at school. The player personnel staff and the coaching staff will then meet to make decisions and send offers.
That would free coaches from much of the busy work of recruiting and let them focus on coaching their current teams. Player personnel will become the major track for aspiring coaches as well as a career path in its own right. Recruits may see more sophisticated and intense recruiting from a dedicated staff.
If Infante is correct—and you can bet he is—this means we'll start seeing separate player personnel staffs at the schools that can afford to create them. This is good news for Michigan and other big-budget athletic departments, and unlike the deregulated communication measure there isn't an obvious downside for the recruits themselves. The impact from a competitive balance standpoint is clear: the rich will get richer unless the Indiana States of the world successfully push for staff limits on these new player personnel departments.
*It's not hard to imagine Lane Kiffin screaming at his recruiting coordinator, "Mr. Orgeron, we must not allow a Snapchat gap!"
[Hit THE JUMP for Durham Smythe's visit plans, potential commitment watch for a 2014 in-state four-star, and more.]
With a simple tweet of "GO BLUE!" this morning, Macomb (MI) Lutheran North kicker/punter JJ McGrath announced his intention to accept a preferred walk-on spot in Michigan's 2013 class, choosing the Wolverines over LSU and Southern Miss. While McGrath won't be on scholarship to start his career, he'll have the chance to earn one when Brendan Gibbons's eligibility expires after the 2013 season.
McGrath isn't ranked on any of the four recruiting services, but he does earn a 4.5-star rating—on the border between Division I and Division II prospect—from Chris Sailer Kicking. They rank him as the #33 punter and #57 kicker in the 2013 class and give this evaluation:
JJ is a big time talent. He is a big, tall, strong athlete that shows outstanding potential. His best ball is as good as any 2013 punting prospect. As he works on his consistency, the sky is the limit. I expect big things from JJ. Also a very capable kicker and kickoff specialist. Could be a top national combo prospect with hard work. One to keep a very close eye on. Nice prospect.
Listed at 6'2", 210 pounds, McGrath has plenty of size to put a solid boot behind the ball. He certainly showed off plenty of leg in his senior season, per 247's Todd Worly ($):
“I have three field goals of 57, 54 and 34 yards, all (kickoffs have been) touchbacks but one, a punting average of 45 yards and 100% on PAT’s,” McGrath said. The 57-yarder was a game-winner.
That was in October—by the end of the year, McGrath had connected on 8-of-11 field goals and all 26 of his extra point attempts with a punting average of 42 yards and touchbacks on 29 of 34 kickoffs. His head coach at Lutheran North talked to MLive in October about how much of an asset McGrath's leg was to his team:
["]The field position that he adds is number one,” Ryan Wesley said. “The scoring that he adds is number two. Being able to tell an opponent that their [sic] going to be starting on the 20 yard line, no questions about it, that is a great thing to be able to do.”
On the rare occasion McGrath doesn't boot a touchback, he's apparently not afraid to finish the job himself:
In fact, McGrath has had just one kickoff returned against him all season. As competitive as he is, McGrath was not afraid to make his opponent think twice about returning one of his kicks.
“The kid actually made it to me and I jacked him pretty hard,” McGrath said. “I was pretty angry that it didn’t go in (the end zone). I was pretty ticked off so I ran up and hit him pretty hard.”
With his leg strength, McGrath should at the very least be able to contribute as a kickoff specialist. If he can maintain accuracy on the thinner college goalposts, he'll also be in the running for starting placekicker—perhaps after Gibbons graduates, or more likely when Matt Wile is gone after 2014.
McGrath didn't receive any scholarship offers, but he reported interest as a preferred walk-on from Alabama, LSU, Michigan State, and Southern Miss, among others.
From the 247 article linked above, McGrath's junior stats:
McGrath was named First Team All-State as a junior, converting 8-of-12 field goals with a long of 53 yards. All of his misses came from beyond 50 yards. 22 out of his 27 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, and he also averaged 44.6 yards per punt, with a long of 68 yards.
In his final two high school seasons, McGrath was a combined 16-for-23 on field goals and 42-for-42 on extra points while averaging 43.5 yards per punt and booting 51 of his 61 kickoffs for touchbacks.
Lengthy senior highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
McGrath should redshirt next season with Gibbons and Wile returning. With Gibbons and Will Hagerup (if he's even back next year) gone after 2013, we'll see if the coaches want Wile to handle kicking, punting, and kickoffs; if not, McGrath could compete with Kenny Allen for the punter job or Wile for starting placekicker, and he could also handle kickoffs if called upon. When Wile is gone after 2014, McGrath should have every chance to take over at kicker.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since McGrath is a preferred walk-on, his commitment doesn't change the 2013 scholarship numbers; there are still a couple spots left with Michigan waiting on VA RB Derrick Green and TX TE Durham Smythe.