Mike Lantry, 1972
Sam Webb just broke the news on Twitter; yes, Michigan has picked up another commit:
Columbus Marion-Franklin HS WR Jaron Dukes has pledged to #Michigan
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) February 22, 2012
LOL my life. Informative update forthcoming.
Informative Update: According to Michael Spath of The Wolverine, Dukes is the first-ever offensive skill position player from Columbus to commit to Michigan, which is pretty mind-boggling. Despite growing up in the heart of Buckeye country, Dukes actually is a lifelong Michigan fan, and he told me that he got emotional running onto the field at the Big House when he visited a couple weekends ago. Despite his trip going as well as it possibly could, he wanted to make sure he took the time to think things over and talk to his parents and coaches before coming to a decision; it appears he's thought things through.
|NR WR||NR WR||NR WR||3*, 87, #63 WR|
As you can see, Dukes is flying under the radar right now and has yet to be ranked by any of the recruiting services, though I expect that will change soon now that he's committed to Michigan [EDIT: Talk about your quickly-fulfilled predictions; 24/7 just gave Dukes a three-star rating]. Though Dukes is listed at anywhere between 6'2" and 6'5" in his recruiting profiles, recent observations peg him at a legit 6'5", 200 pounds; he's definitely the big type of wideout that Al Borges has been looking for.
Bucknuts listed Dukes as their #29 prospect in Ohio for the class of 2013, and their evaluation included this quote from scout Mark Porter ($):
“He’s the biggest wide receiver in the class. He’s not as big as TY Williams a couple of years ago. But he has great size and is useful down around the goal line. He had a nice game against Trotwood.”
In that game against Trotwood—playing against cornerback and consensus top player in Ohio, Buckeye commit Cam Burrows—Dukes tallied six catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns. Scout's Dave Berk was on hand for that game, and while there are questions surrounding Dukes's speed, he seems to think that won't be a big issue ($):
At 6-foot-5, 200-pounds, Dukes has the physical size Notre Dame coaches love from the wide receiver position. Besides his size, Dukes showed surprising speed during his six-catch, 173-yard two-touchdown performance.
On one of Duke’s [sic] two touchdowns, Burrows had the angle to make the stop, but Dukes showed a burst that sent him past the standout corner that already holds an early offer from the Irish.
A recent Tim Sullivan feature talked about the strength of Jaron's game—his ability to high-point the football, a la Junior Hemingway—and had a glowing quote from his head coach ($):
Whichever school he does ultimately pick will be getting a talented wideout. Standing 6-5 and weighing 197 pounds, he's a physically-imposing receiver who can use his mass to shield defenders - and make blocks on the edge. He also has the body control to high-point the ball once it's in the air, and a knack for making plays after the catch.
"He's 6-4 or 6-5 legit, 200 pounds, he runs a 4.6," said Coach Haffele. "He has great ball skills catching the ball. He's a pretty good blocker. All that god-given talent he has. And then, once you meet the kid and talk to him, that's the selling point. He's just such a great kid."
We'll see about that 4.6; Dukes himself knows that he has to work on his speed to take his game to the next level, and he told me as much when I first interviewed him before his visit:
JARON: My biggest strengths are being able to read the secondary, keeping a level head, going out there and having fun and being able to go out and catch, just catch the ball. I would love to get faster. They keep telling me speed kills, so I want to be the fastest one out there. I want to be the fastest one on the field.
As you'll see on film, Dukes is very reminiscent of Hemingway in his ability to go up and get the football. His speed doesn't stand out, though he's clearly working on changing that fact. Burner or no, he'll provide a big downfield target for Shane Morris and he should be a major weapon in the red zone.
Dukes also held offers from Illinois and Toledo while garnering interest from Cincinnati, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State; he visited OSU multiple times before reaching his decision, though he did not hold an offer.
Dukes told me he had 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 4.6 seconds, the time his coach claims he ran. Seeing Dukes on tape, I have to give that a four FAKEs out of five; he's going to have to work on his speed, as has been said above, including by Jaron himself.
Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio:
It's difficult to get a read on his route-running from that short clip; hopefully more video surfaces in the near future, as there isn't even paywalled tape on Rivals right now.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence is flimsy indeed, but Dukes—like every receiver from the 2012 and 2013 class—is going to have every opportunity to compete for playing time right away. When Dukes arrives on campus, the Wolverines will have just six returning wideouts—Jeremy Jackson (SR), Jeremy Gallon (SR), Drew Dileo (SR), Jerald Robinson (JR), Amara Darboh (SO), and Jehu Chesson (SO)—and the only players with even comparable size are Jackson and Chesson, who both stand at 6'3".
That said, Dukes is a developmental prospect, and it seems likely he'll take a redshirt year as long as the Wolverines don't suffer attrition, especially if they can bring in a blue-chip prospect like Laquon Treadwell in the 2013 class. Dukes appears to be a late-bloomer—he told me his coaches said he "couldn't catch a cold" as a freshman—so there's a chance he makes a big leap up in the rankings and changes that opinion. With little film to go on, for now I see him as another Hemingway type; a big receiver who uses his body well and is a deep threat by virtue of his size and leaping ability, but not a burner who's going to be a steady possession receiver.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has 12 commits in the class of 2013, almost certainly more than half of what they'll take in a class projected to fill out at around 20-22 players. Dukes represents a player of major need at receiver, and the Wolverines will take at least one more player at the position; Treadwell seems to be the leader in the clubhouse for that spot, but Michigan has 14 other offers out to uncommitted prospects. Other positions of need include one more offensive lineman, an every-down running back, nose tackle, and depth in the back seven, specifically at linebacker (likely just one, and M can be picky) and cornerback.
Brady Hoke... I really just don't know what else there is to say about his—and his coaching staff's—effort on the recruiting trail. I've run out of platitudes, but this class is already on pace to be one of the top five—at least—in the country. It's still February. This is relatively unprecedented, but you know that already.
I've been keeping up with Logan Tuley-Tillman, the eighth player to commit to Michigan this past weekend, since the beginning of his recruiting process. He needs little introduction, as much has been written about his class, determination, and perseverance while growing up in Peoria, IL, and doing everything in his power to become a Division I football player. Logan's dream was realized on Sunday, and I had the opportunity to talk with him about why he chose Michigan, how he made the pledge, and much more:
ACE: What made you decide that it was the right time to commit?
LOGAN: I just really felt like it was time. I'd seen all my friends doing it, and I knew that Michigan was where I wanted to be. I really wanted to go see [other schools], but I came to realize that there was no other place where I fit in more than Michigan, and was probably just the cities that I wanted to see most out of those places, which is understandable because of the high-profile places that they were. I just came to the realization that Michigan was where I belonged and where I needed to be.
ACE: How did your commitment go down?
LOGAN: I actually got home and I knew I was going to announce it, so I put something on Twitter. I was just talking to my mom about it the whole day. Then when I got home, I told her I was going to decide, and she said "okay," and walked away when I was on the phone. She was really trippin', because I was just at Wisconsin, and she didn't think it was going to be Michigan. I got on the phone, I called Coach Darrell Funk, and we talked about me committing. My mom, she was sitting there listening, and I was talking to [Coach Funk] and Coach Hoke the whole time, and they was just so exuberant about it, really happy. It was really crazy coming from where I came from and not ever having nothing to being able to have an opportunity to play for Michigan. It's just so crazy to me.
ACE: You being the eighth player to commit over the weekend, were you talking to any of the other recruits, especially the guys who committed over the weekend?
LOGAN: No, I actually didn't talk to anybody. I just sat by myself for a couple hours, I didn't even answer any calls or anything like that. When I sat there thinking it really just came down to Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Wisconsin, and USC. I just took all the places that I'd seen and thought about me waking up there, would I be happy, and the one I would be happiest in is in Ann Arbor, so that's when I decided to commit.
ACE: What about Ann Arbor made you decide that's where you'd be happiest at?
LOGAN: Just the tradition and family support that I have there, how great the coaching staff is, the man Coach Hoke is, how he's him constantly and he's going to tell you how he sees things and how he coaches.
ACE: Now that you committed, I see a lot of Team 134 talk. What's it like being able to be a part of a class that's already so tight-knit, and what are your goals as a class?
LOGAN: It is very exciting. I heard someone say that we've got the number one offensive line class in the country. It's just so great to be able to say that; not just that the people that I'm going to play in college with are great players, they're great people, Michigan Men, and we're all good friends and close to each other, or will eventually be. We're ranked real high right now as a group, and right now we don't even have all of our guys committed yet, so we're just honestly trying to get in there and all push each other as hard as we can. Because everyone's all really talented in our class, honestly making it to the national championship, that's our goal when we're actually on the field.
ACE: Are you planning on doing a little recruiting on your own at this point?
LOGAN: (laughs) Yeah, most definitely. I'm not going to say any names, but I know there's three for a fact that I'm going to try to get for certain. Another thing is, we're real good friends too, so that's one of the things that I'm telling to them. I'm going to be off the roof for them, I'll have their back, wherever they go, but just the family that we have here at Michigan is why I personally, as a friend, would say Michigan or be pro-Michigan and when we talk just tell them about it.
ACE: Going back to talk about Coach Hoke and the coaching staff as a whole, what set them apart from the coaching staffs at the other schools that you went to?
LOGAN: They were just so personal, on a personal level. Coach Borges, too, he's a great coach, I really appreciate all the time they put in. They actually came to my school about five or six times. I know Coach Funk, I think he actually drove the whole seven hours just to come to my school and he had to leave at night because he got there at about 8:30. Just the small things that they did really proved to me that they wanted me.
ACE: I know last time we talked you said you were up to around 304 pounds. What's your goal now in terms of getting better on the field and working off the field before you get to Michigan?
LOGAN: Yeah, I'm up to 307 now, but I can still run a lot. I still have track practice and I'm still real mobile, that's one of the things I really like, it really surprised me because I figured that I would be able to do the same things that I can. I can still dunk at 307, so that's a real big thing, just staying mobile and loose and pushy, just really add another dimension to my game. Then of course there's the weight room, which is every young lineman's thing that they've got to get knocked out of the way. I've got to increase all my numbers in there, which I'm doing pretty good on. I maxed out at 605 on the squat, so I'm just trying to build up on that, at least put 100 pounds on that before I get there, because I know the guys there are doing way more than that.
ACE: If you had to sum up in a couple of words what this weekend was like for you, what did it boil down to?
LOGAN: It's hard to say. For three words, it would have to be: emotional, triumphant, and Michigan.
So... that happened. Let's just start right in, shall we?
My Totally Normal, Uneventful, Relaxing Weekend
I was tipped off about the impending Kyle Bosch commitment on Friday evening, so I pre-wrote the "Hello" post, called it a night, and felt like I was ahead of the game.
At 3:20 pm on Saturday, I got this message from Heiko: "LOL your job." I would get the same message again 24 hours later. Over the course of 48 hours, I ended up writing eight commitment posts: Kyle Bosch, Wyatt Shallman, Jourdan Lewis, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. I no longer have the words to describe what went down—though the progressively more slap-happy tone of my posts as the weekend wore on serves this purpose well—so luckily other people wrote stuff, too.
Maize n Brew's Zach Travis discussed the implications of the weekend haul and compared it to Texas's ritual Junior Day bonanza:
That is eight four-star recruits all considered to be in the top-200 to Rivals.com, two linemen with a realistic chance of moving up to five-star range, and one of the best single day hauls outside of Texas's annual Junior Day Commitment Extravaganza.
Michigan, to my knowledge, has never had a six-commit day or an eight-commit weekend—at least in the documented internet recruiting era*—and Texas came up with exactly zero commits on their Junior Day this year. We need a new benchmark, though I think "That Weekend in February of 2012" is now it. Rivals.com's Mike Farrell utilizes the same comparison, mostly because there isn't anything else to equate this to:
"I've never seen anything like this—it's Texas territory," Farrell said in comparing U-M to the Longhorns, notorious for cleaning up early. "This is something new. It's pretty remarkable. I think they got the right guys on campus and that they really know the kids they are recruiting. They've got a good feel for kids who might be ready to pop - that said, they still did a good job to actually get them to jump on board.
"Got the right guys on campus" is probably in reference to Hoke, Mattison, et al, but it could just as easily refer to Shane Morris, whose role as a recruiter is clearly having a huge affect. Morris was the subject of an Angelique Chengelis profile today centering around his efforts as a pitchman:
The affable, congenial Morris has taken hold of the social media and works Twitter and Facebook, sending messages to potential future Wolverines. He makes calls, sends texts and emails, helping to secure commitments from the best high school players with whom he'll be teammates at Michigan.
"Oh, definitely. Hope so," Morris said enthusiastically when asked if he has impacted the Wolverines' recruiting. "I'm definitely recruiting all the time. We want to win national championships at Michigan and we're going to need the best players in the nation to do that."
Anyone who is on Twitter is likely aware of Morris's dogged recruiting efforts, and Taco Charlton took to the social media platform last night to relay his story of how he came to commit:
— Taco Charlton (@thekidTC33) February 21, 2012
I'll give Farrell the last word from an article hyping up the upcoming recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State, who all of a sudden find themselves playing catch-up despite having a five-star and three four-stars in the fold (the rest of the B1G—four total commits, period):
"Urban Meyer's the Axl Rose of recruiting," Farrell said. "He's the rock star. Brady Hoke is not out there like that. He's not the same type of guy. He's an old-school, shoot-it-straight guy. But he's obviously getting the job done at an equal level. With these two, recruiting will be fun because they're unlike each other. That's going to make things very interesting. They each have different approaches to things. It's going to be a great battle.''
Let's hope Florida was Meyer's Appetite for Destruction, and we'll now spend a decade waiting for Chinese Democracy before realizing we don't care anymore. Alright, there's no way that's how things will turn out, but one can hope.
*The six listed by Rivals for one day in 2003 did not actually happen that way; I think they were just catching up and didn't specify the exact dates. Seth, who probably summed up my weekend better than anyone, has the correct listing.
Hoke Never Sleeps, 'Cause Sleep is the Cousin of Death
The fallout from this weekend spills over into a second section because it deserves as much. Steve Wiltfong caught up with both Kyle Bosch and David Dawson in the aftermath of their commitments to get their thoughts on why they committed, and both are well worth a read. Here's Bosch, who had this gem [emphasis mine]:
At the beginning of the day, I started to hint that I was going to commit. I told Coach Borges maybe next month I could see myself commit. Then the director of player personnel Coach Singletary came over to me and I said maybe next week. I then went in the bathroom and talked to my mom on the phone and we talked about it, Michigan State and Stanford. It came down to academics. I have a ton of respect for Michigan State and Stanford. I think they’re both outstanding schools, but it came down to academics. Michigan is the right place for me.
Those of you still smarting from Josh Garnett's decision to go to Stanford will find that especially cathartic. The only thing that could make that quote better would be if Jim Harbaugh was still coaching the Cardinal.
I guess I got the order wrong when putting up Dawson's and Lewis's commitment posts, because it sounds like the offensive lineman beat his teammate by a matter of seconds:
I talked to my mom about if Michigan offered me, would I commit on the spot. She was okay with it. She liked it for the academics, and the academics came before the football.
We were talking to Coach Hoke and he offered me. I looked at my mom and then looked at him and I told him I’d like to commit. He asked me if I was serious, and he jumped up and started yelling. He shook my hand and gave my mom a hug, gave me a hug. Everyone was screaming and it didn’t make it any better when J (Jourdan Lewis) walked in and said he was committing too. It was a great feeling yesterday.
Given Hoke's propensity for screaming and hugging when a recruit commits in person, I'm kindly requesting that the next player who plans on doing this records the whole thing on their smartphone. I imagine it's a sight to behold. Speaking of Hoke, he apparently doesn't sleep, because by the time Jake Butt committed on Sunday, he was in Florida schmoozing with some bigwig donors:
Before offering his pledge the Pickerington North star decided to travel home and mull things over just a little bit more, but that he was close to making his choice was likely evident to all. Even so, that didn’t stop his future coaches from reacting to the news like they had received the surprise of the year.
“I actually told Coach Hoke, Coach Borges, and Coach Ferrigno and they were all really excited," Butt stated. “Coach Hoke was down in Florida talking to some boosters for the university, and he just let out a big scream when he heard it. (Laughter) They all said I made their night and they can’t be happier for me. This is really great.”
I wonder if Hoke had any voice left by the time Tuley-Tillman committed. Given that he can barely talk after games, I have to imagine the weekend was hell on his larynx.
Ethan Pocic—one of just two weekend visitors to not commit, along with Rod Crayton—reportedly enjoyed his visit and said Michigan "went up in [his] view." ($, info in header). There was a false Twitter report out there that he had named a top three that didn't include Michigan, but Pocic soundly denied doing so.
That wasn't all on the weekend, by the way. Michigan also managed to pick up a couple of preferred walk-on for 2012, both long-snappers. Saline's Taybor Pepper—the #7 long-snapper in the 2012 class on Chris Sailer Kicking—actually jumped the gun and committed on Thursday. Fenton's Tyler Tokarsky announced his commitment via Twitter yesterday. Both links contain video and more info on a couple of guys who will hopefully remain anonymous barring a Jareth Glanda moment.
Offers, More Offers, Visits, Lists, Etc.
Prepare for a massive bulleted list, as Michigan has sent out a ton of offers in the last week. These are in no particular order, just how my tabs happened to show up:
- Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton was offered a scholarship while on his Sunday visit to Ann Arbor ($). Crayton was very impressed by the fact that he would have three D-line coaches at Michigan.
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes ($, info in header), the #21 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals.
- Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls, who told aquaman he's being offered as a DE.
- Wyomissing (PA) Area LB Alex Anzalone, a four-star on Rivals who also has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.
- Everett (MA) OL John Montelus, the #214 prospect on Rivals—I had a chance to catch up with him last week and he mentioned a desire to visit Michigan.
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow, the #107 player on Rivals, recently grabbed offers from Michigan, Arizona State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Washington State.
- Santa Monica's Sebastian LaRue is another California wideout to grab an offer ($, info in header). He's the #141 overall player in the Rivals250.
- Rancho Cucamonga (CA) DB Chris Hawkins told TomVH that a Wolverine offer was one he and his father were waiting on ($). Hawkins is the #159 prospect according to Rivals.
- Washington DC Gonzaga ATH Devin Butler is a three-star on 24/7, and he told Clint Brewster he plans on visiting in the spring ($).
- Dallas (TX) Kimball DT Justin Manning, the #89 player on Rivals, also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
- Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley is another in a long line of D-I prospects from one of Ohio's most storied high school programs. He told Scout that he grew up as a Michigan fan and was very excited by the offer ($).
- A third Rivals250 WR from California, Oakley Freedom's Darrell Daniels, now has offers from Michigan, Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon State after a strong showing at the U.S. Army combine ($).
- Tempe (AZ) Marcos De Niza CB Priest Willis is the #84 overall prospect on Rivals, and Michigan's offer gave him 16 total ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker is a four-star and the #214 prospect to 24/7, but Michigan became one of his first two offers along with, coincidentally, San Diego State ($).
- Three-star Randolph (NJ) guard Brendan Mahon added offers from Michigan and Temple last week ($, info in header).
- Belton (TX) TE Durham Smythe—who I posted an interview with this morning—got his Michigan offer last week, though it might be difficult to pull him from Texas.
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis, the #93 prospect on Rivals, got his Michigan offer last week.
- The Wolverines also offered 2014 DT Andy Bauer, a big-time recruit from St. Louis (IL) De Smet who visited two weeks ago.
As you can see, the Wolverines are heavily targeting the top talent in California, a likely product of Brady Hoke's connections there from his time at San Diego State. That offer list is also littered with prospects from the Rivals250, as Michigan is able to focus on blue-chip players with a small class that's now already halfway full. We'll see how judicious they are with their offers moving forward; three players—Donovan Munger, De'Niro Laster, and Ross Douglas—visited on Monday and did not get offers extended. Tight end Jacob Matuska, who does hold an offer, also was on campus yesterday.
Several players have expressed interest in visiting lately, and a couple of them are quite noteworthy. Five-star CA S/LB Su'a Cravens told Scout that Michigan will get one of his five official visits, in large part due to his relationship with Hoke dating back to his days with the Aztecs ($, info in header). Two blue-chip prospects from Good Counsel in Maryland will visit for the April 14th spring game in five-star corner Kendall Fuller and four-star linebacker Dorian O'Daniel. Four-star WR Robert Foster has confirmed that he'll visit Michigan State next weekend, and it's a possibility that he'll swing by Ann Arbor as well. Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the #64 prospect on Rivals, will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($, info in header).
Unfortunately, it can't all be sunshine and lollipops, as some players either named top groups that exluded Michigan or committed elsewhere. Five-star FL OT Laremy Tunsil named a top two of Florida and Georgia ($, info in header). Four-star VA DE Jonathan Allen named Alabama as his favorite after receiving an offer ($, info in header). Four-star VA safety Tim Harris named a top two of Virginia and Virginia Tech, though he expressed interest in visiting both Michigan and Ohio State ($, info in header). Louisville (KY) Trinity CB Ryan White named a top two of Louisville and Illinois, and his teammate, DE Jason Hatcher, has also expressed strong interest in the Cardinals.
We wish happy trails to four recruits: Dallas (TX) Jesuit WR Jake Oliver committed to Texas, while his teammate, OL J.J. Gustafson, committed to Texas A&M. Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard pledged to the Buckeyes. While he didn't hold an offer, Birmingham Brother Rice LB Johnny Reshke will likely be one the top 2013 prospects in the state, and he committed to MSU last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles RB Deveon Smith—whose recruitment will likely come down to Michigan and Ohio State, and says it's "50-50" between the schools regarding his favorite right now—in his most recent DetNews column. Wiltfong recaps the Best of the Midwest combine, which featured five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith—the event's MVP—as well as linebacker Tim Kimbrough, defensive end Elijah Daniel, and several potential Michigan targets. Allen Trieu scouts last week's Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom—ND commit Steven Elmer, Cass Tech junior DT Kenton Gibbs, and 2014 Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell are mentioned as standouts ($).
Content note: I'll come back to Manball Matrix next time. I thought this was more timely. Note II: So you won't miss another commitment, while reading this article you are advised to hit refresh on your browser at regular intervals.
It was a commit-a-palooza unlike Michigan had seen since scholarship offers were sent by telegram and a signing ceremony was when a young player stepped off the platform of Kerrytown Station to serenades by hawkers, haberdashers, and hazing-minded upperclassman. Within one week of Michigan's annual summer camp, seven players were moved to end their recruitments and commit to the Wolverines' Class of 2004:
The verbal explosion was mostly camp commits, i.e. guys who impressed enough to earn an offer which they immediately accepted. In an age when mid-June was still quite early to be filling nearly half of a class, Commit-a-Palooza '03 was remarkable. With Morgan Trent and Max Martin this was 9 of eventually 22 signed.
[Quick: two more recruits probably just pledged; hit refresh now!]
Michigan later filled that class with Henne, Jamar Adams, Alan Branch, Jamison, Arrington, and a lot more roster fodder who appeared unremarkably in early UFRs, or didn't. At the time I wrote an email I just spent way too much time trying to find that talked about early signees of years prior. The point was to temper the post-euphoric expectations of pre-Facebook friends by showing how previous early birds had a greater chance of busting, what with all the offseasons, lifting clubs, and senior years between now and National Signing Day. Then I proved myself inconclusive.
With an 8-man commit-fest that forced me to put time stamps in my database to keep track of % of class filled, and which puts the '03 bonanza to shame [refresh reminder], let's try it again. Here's the players, classes 2003 to 2011 in my database who committed to Michigan at least 50 weeks before National Signing Day:
I didn't include several guys who later decommitted, but I did count Will Campbell, who verbaled to Michigan in June of 2007 (!) and a year later decided to lead Rodriguez on a merry chase until 5 weeks to NSD. Many of these guys—Hollowell, Helmuth, Chambers, Trent—committed on the offer after Junior Day.
Well there's Mario, and…well that's a lot of guys who didn't or haven't lived up to their hype. Schifano gave up football, Grady was overrated before he was the guy you could count on to get Michigan at least a mention in the Fulmer Cup, Chambers and Helmuth were whiffs, Cissoko … his thing, and these days the extent of our Campbell and Ricardo dreams are Gabe Watson and Tim Massaquoi.
Busts can come from any time, and this is a small sample of early RR and late Lloyd recruits who didn't have the pedigrees of the solid-to-high 4-stars Hoke is bringing in. Taking out kickers, players with more than half of their eligibility left, guys who didn't qualify, guys who lost their best years to injury before we could get a feel for their evaluation, and proprietors of Fck Lions, here's the apparent success rates by when they committed:
|Weeks to NSD||OvRtd||+/-1*||UnRtd||Success Rate||Avg Diff||Tot|
|50 or more||4||6||--||60.0%||-0.95||12|
|40 to 49||5||10||--||66.7%||-0.50||17|
|30 to 39||3||22||1||88.5%||-0.29||35|
|20 to 29||7||15||1||69.6%||-0.52||27|
|10 to 19||4||9||--||69.2%||-0.31||17|
|5 to 9||5||25||1||83.9%||-0.52||36|
|1 to 4||1||8||--||88.9%||-0.22||19|
|Week of NSD||5||18||2||80.0%||-0.26||29|
"OvRtd" (overrated) to me means guys who probably should have been pegged at 1.5 or more stars below their Scout/Rivals average. "UnRtd" means 1.5 or more stars and were, in order, Hart, Molk, Branch, Englemon and Omemeh. Google Doc here so you rip apart my totally subjective ratings. "Total" on right includes the guys I cut out so you can see the flow of a recruiting year before the Hoke era. FYI 30 to 39 week corresponds to about May-June.
[Refresh now anyway.]
Does this mean anything for the flood of early pledges this week, or much of this year's class for that matter? I don't really think so, no. Mostly what this says is that Michigan had a ton of busts over the last decade of recruiting, and that juniors who commit immediately upon receiving a camp offer are seldom primo athletes.
As of now Michigan has filled approximately half of its projected Class of 2013, (figuring on 22 total) at a point in the cycle when traditionally only about 6 percent of the class has taken shape. A look at previous 50-percent points demonstrates just how unprecedented this is for Michigan:
|Year||Commits||Avg Stars||50% Full By||Days to NSD||Final Scout Rk||Final Rivals Rk|
A handful of these 2013 guys—maybe one or two more than of a class put together later in the year—will probably disappoint from their lofty rankings. This is an inevitability. In fact count on a few never making it to campus, because 17-year-olds change their minds exactly as fast as popular music turns over. But then when you add up that attrition and apply it to the class that formed over the weekend, it's still shaping up to be one of the best incoming groups since Yost was greeting his freshmen at the train station.
So hit refresh one more time, because it only gets better from here.
I... just... what? Out of the blue, Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman joins the commit parade, becoming the eighth—THE EIGHTH—player to commit to Michigan over the weekend. All are four-star recruits. Michigan just went from "solid, but small, early class" to "by far the biggest and best class in the country." The Wolverines already have more top 150 ESPN prospects than they did in the entire 2012 class, which was universally regarded as being among the ten best in the country. Ten of the team's 11 commits are ranked among the top 200 on Rivals, with five making the top 100. There are no words to describe what is going on right now. Trust me, I tried, and this happened:
4*, 94, #13 OT,
Ho, hum, just another four-star commit with a top-100 pedigree on at least one site. Tuley-Tillman seemingly came out of nowhere before bursting onto the scene with a flurry of big-time offers that hasn't really let up since the fall, and the recruiting services have taken notice. Tuley-Tillman is listed at 6'7" and 280-301 pounds, depending on where you look, but he's told me at this point he's up to 304 and still adding (good) weight.
Very little was known about Tuley-Tillman until he participated in the Core 6 Showcase this January, but Josh Helmholdt did manage to do a breakdown of his junior film in November ($):
On film, I love the way Tuley-Tillman keeps his feet moving. You rarely see him reaching for blocks. In pass pro he sets up, engages the defender and stays in front of his man through the whistle. He still needs work on his punch and again strength is a development point, but we're talking about juniors in high school here and the strength will come.
In run blocking he fires out low and gets into the defender quickly. Once he latches on, his legs keep driving and his pancake rate is high. I love the way he finishes blocks and he appears to have a nice mean streak on the field, which is always welcomed by offensive tackle coaches. Tuley-Tillman is tall and lean, has solid technique and does a lot of the little things correct.
Given that Tuley-Tillman has added 20+ pounds since his junior season, it'll be interesting to see if strength is talked about as an issue when he hits the field for his senior season; my guess is no. As mentioned above, the Core 6 Showcase was when scouts really got to get a good look at Tillman. I'll start with Helmholdt's impression ($):
Listed at 6-7 and now weighing more than 300 pounds, Tuley-Tillman has ideal size for the offensive tackle position in college. He does have some excess weight he can trim in the coming months and years, but his athleticism is above average and he has the tools necessary to play the left tackle position. Another thing I like about Tuley-Tillman at the left tackle spot is that he is left-hand dominant, which can really benefit a player protecting the quarterback's blind side. Tuley-Tillman showed a nice mean streak on Monday, but also will have to learn to be more disciplined as his game develops.
As you'll see, technique is noted as an area to work on—not at all uncommon among junior linemen—but the potential is there for Tuley-Tillman to be a fixture at tackle. 24/7's Jason Sapp disagreed with Helmholdt about Tuley-Tillman's possible position, though this is the only time that I've seen the possibility of moving to guard even mentioned offhand:
Worked primarily at left tackle ... Long body and athletic legs ... Good first kick and reposts his arm well on counter action ... Will work on technique as his body matures and develops, but a high ceiling to be a force on the line ... Wide base and a college strength program would help strengthen his core and allow for a stronger push on the line ... Not a finished product and has some areas to improve heading into senior season, but in the early phase he looks like a stronger candidate for the right side of the line or possibly bumping down a man at the collegiate level.
Finally, here's Allen Trieu from a great Sam Webb feature in the Detroit News (well worth a read if you don't know about Logan's tough upbringing in Peoria):
"He is very athletic," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "You can't teach his ability to move and bend at his size. He's light on his feet, changes directions well, and he's a hard working kid with a great attitude. He is very very coachable. He needs to still get stronger and maybe a little meaner on the field. He also still has to work on his technique, but he is currently doing that.
"In Illinois I think he's one of the top 10 juniors right now. Potentially, he could be a Scout300 guy, which would mean four-stars. I'd like to see him up against some top competition on the camp circuit, but in terms of physical tools, he's as gifted as anyone I've seen in the Midwest."
To sum it up, Tuley-Tillman has a huge frame, very good athleticism for his size, and a great work ethic, while he needs to get a little stronger and shore up his technique.
Tuley-Tillman's top two schools were Michigan and Alabama, and he also held offers from Arkansas, Boston College, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Mizzou, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Not bad for a guy who was relatively unknown heading into his junior year.
No stats, offensive lineman.
FAKE 40 TIME
There's no listed 40 time for Tuley-Tillman, so I can't dole out any FAKEs.
Junior highlights—I think any questions about his mean streak are answered at the 0:30 mark:
Linebacker fall down go boom.
There's also film from Tuley-Tillman's workout at the Core 6 Showcase, courtesy of Scout.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Tuley-Tillman becomes the fourth offensive line commit in the class, and it appears he's destined for tackle along with Chris Fox; Kyle Bosch and David Dawson project best to guard (or in Dawson's case, potentially center) at the collegiate level. Tuley-Tillman will likely need a redshirt year to develop technique as well as build strength, though he's already adding weight and getting stronger due to his regular workouts at Core 6. No matter what he does on the field, however, it's clear that Michigan is getting another great person in their locker room who won't take this opportunity for granted:
"Coming up in this city I had a lot of friends that were on the right track and had opportunities like me, but got killed or wound up in jail," said Tuley-Tillman. "For me, (failure) is not an option. Not working hard is just not an option. I will do whatever it takes to send myself to the next level. Every time I'm at home and I see my niece, I just look in her eyes and I just know that she depends on me to do something for her — (something) to better (our) future. I want success as bad as I want to breathe. It's not something that won't happen for me. It's something that will happen because I'm doing all the things in order to get there."
Logan's determination has come through in the several chances I've had to interview him, and he knows how big of an opportunity this is for him and his family. He also regularly does community service work to help give back for all the help he's received over the years; I'm guessing he'll be a regular on the team's visits to Mott Children's Hospital.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As I've now said three other times this weekend, Michigan will either stand pat at four offensive linemen—meaning either Dawson or Bosch will wind up at center—or look for a fifth OL to fill that role. Either way, the Wolverines have already put together an offensive line class that rivals this year's incoming freshmen in terms of quality, a remarkable feat considering we're not even three weeks past signing day for the 2012 class.
The Wolverines now have 11 commitments overall, about half of what they'll likely have at the end of the recruiting cycle. The focus will now turn to adding at least two wide receivers, an all-around tailback, at least one defensive tackle, and a little depth in the back seven of the defense.
I'M RUNNING OUT OF CAKE
Also, I'm typing this post with my forehead, so you'll have to excuse any typos. Michigan has now pulled in seven (SEVEN!!!!!!!) recruits in less than 36 hours, as Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt just announced his pledge to the Wolverines after visiting Ann Arbor yesterday. Michigan now has ten total recruits in the class of 2013—nine of them consensus four-star types—and their last two both came from Pickerington (Central's Taco Charlton being the other).
4* DE, ESPNU
150 Watch List
|4*, 90, #10 TE|
Butt is a highly-regarded prospect as both a tight end and defensive end, but the coaches have told him he'll be a TE at Michigan. He's a four-star to every site but Scout, who hasn't released extensive rankings yet, and a top-100 prospect on Rivals. The general consensus on Butt is that he stands at 6'6" and around 220-230 pounds, giving him a great frame for tight end.
Most evaluations of Butt, especially from his sophomore year and last summer, focus on his ability as a defensive end, but I did dig up a few that looked at his ability on offense. Here's Josh Helmholdt breaking down Butt's game tape ($):
The first thing you notice when turning on the tape is his frame. He is a lean 6-6 and 220 pounds and very athletic for his size. The Pickerington North staff uses him all over the field. On defense he'll play with his hand in the ground, or drop back and cover a slot receiver. On offense he can be tight to the formation and used to block or split out as a wide receiver ... he is a natural pass catcher and his speed is above average for the tight end position. He also shows great competency and willingness as a blocker. Butt is an outstanding defender and could be a big-time rush end in college, but at this stage I like his upside at tight end a little better. He has the size to block in the run game and the athleticism to be a major threat in the passing game.
Butt has the versatility to line up as a tradition tight end, H-back, or split wide, and he told me last week that the coaches plan on using him in multiple roles. With Khalid Hill committed in the class as more of an H-back, expect Butt to be the more traditional tight end in this class, playing down on the line. Allen Trieu had this to say about Butt in a Sam Webb profile at the Detroit News:
"Jake is an athletic kid with a great frame," Trieu said. "He still has to add more weight and strength to his game, but he runs well for a kid of that size and is a very coordinated athlete. On offense he catches the ball well, his height makes him a matchup problem, and his athleticism allows him to create separation. At the same time, Jake is one of those rare kids who I think projects very well to both sides of the ball. I think he's a BCS prospect on both sides of the ball. For most schools it sounds like he's a defensive end right now, but a handful see him as a tight end too."
Tim Sullivan (YTTS) says that Butt's "6-6, 230-pound frame is more than adequate for the position, and he has good hands and the ability to make plays after the catch." Jake gave his own self-assessment in the above Webb article:
"I have my size, athleticism, and I don't take a single play for granted," Butt said, confidently. "You're going to get the best from me every single play. You can't teach height, so I'm going to give that to the team. As a tight end, if the ball's thrown to me and it hits my hands, it's not touching the ground. It's a catch! On defense if it's third and long and it's a pass rush situation, I'm not going to get blocked by my opponent."
Like his Pickerington counterpart Charlton, Butt is a standout basketball player; as we've seen with NFL tight ends like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham, having a hoops background helps with athleticism, body control, and hands. Combine those qualities with a relentless motor and a willingness to mix it up in the trenches, and you've got a very good tight end prospect.
Butt chose Michigan over offers from Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin, and a host of MAC schools. He also had interest from Ohio State—the school he grew up supporting—and Notre Dame, where his grandfather played football.
Butt had 27 catches for 427 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, while also amassing ten sacks and 17.5 TFLs as a defensive end.
FAKE 40 TIME
24/7 lists him at a 4.70, which I'll give a two FAKEs out of five.
This short reel from ScoutingOhio is the only embeddable junior highlight video right now, but you get to see Jake make a couple nice catches and lower the boom while blocking:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Butt is the type of impact, all-around tight end that Michigan couldn't land in the 2012 class, when they brought in a pair of (quite different) tweeners in Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams. Given his well-rounded skill set and the fact that he has over a year to add weight before getting on campus, Butt should compete for immediate playing time at tight end. He can fill multiple roles—Michigan has both a "U" tight end (off the ball) and a "Y" tight end (on the line), and Butt could conceivably play either spot, though I expect he'll spend more time on the line if he's paired with Funchess or Hill.
Butt's potential is probably the highest of any of Michigan's tight end recruits from the past couple of classes, and in an offense that plans to use the position more extensively moving forward, he has the chance to compete for postseason honors down the road. Given the lack of depth at tight end, Butt could easily be a three-year starter at the position.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With Butt and Hill in the fold, Michigan is likely done recruiting tight ends for 2013 unless a player like Adam Breneman—who seems to be more focused on Penn State and Ohio State—decides to come calling. Even then, it could be tough to fit in a third TE to a class that should have 20-22 players, especially with ten spots already accounted for.
Also, wow. That is all.