...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at two potential commits (yes, it never ends, and this is good), gets more insight on Patrick Kugler, and finally puts the whole Alex Kozan thing to rest. Finally.
And The Coyote Said, "War Eagle"
Alex Kozan has eaten the Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango, spoken with his coyote spiritual guide, and emerged from his vision quest with newfound clarity about his
soulmate college destination: Kozan will be an Auburn Tiger. There's no word on whether he mulled over his decision in a lighthouse, but I'm going to presume this as fact until proven otherwise.
Also, amen to this: “It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”
We can officially close the book on the class of 2012. We can also discuss guys who will actually play center for Michigan, as more evaluations of new commit Patrick Kugler have come out since his commitment post. Here's Allen Trieu on Kugler's junior film, which is unfortunately stuck behind a Scout paywall ($):
The kid has great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player, which you would expect from his dad being an NFL coach. Now, you take all of those strengths and project him to center, and Michigan fans should be excited. He's bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it. His upside was good to begin with, but as a center, it's excellent.
Excellent, indeed. I'd always rather have a recruit who plays tackle in high school—where high school teams usually stick their best linemen—then learns center in the offseason than a guy who's limited in where he projects. Take a good, but slightly undersized, high school tackle and their ceiling immediately raises when shifted to center if they've got the technique and versatility, which shouldn't be a problem with Kugler. Here's his high school head coach on just that ($):
“I think his ability to play low is one of his strengths,” [North Allegheny coach Art] Walker said of Kugler. "He’s a great run blocker, and we like to consider him a finisher. He’s also a strong pass blocker as well. He runs well, he pulls well, and he has great feet and hands. He’s still maturing physically, and he’s having his best offseason to date. He can play any position you ask him to, wherever the team needs him most.”
I really like the addition of Kugler to the class. Michigan is set along the offensive line unless a guy like Ethan Pocic wants to join the party.
Quickly: Jared Shanker on Jake Butt and his ties to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Tremendous interviews Chris Fox, who's hopefully given up on his dirtbiking hobby. Chantel Jennings on Khalid Hill and #Team134 ($).
Must Not Make Played-Out "That Ish [Mc]Cray" Joke
The #44 prospect in the Rivals100, Trotwood (OH) Madison linebacker Mike McCray, will announce his decision on March 8th between Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He has one more visit scheduled: to Michigan, on March 6th. That's a pretty positive sign, and the general feeling is that McCray will end up blue—Rivals.com's Mike Farrell has said as much in multiple twitter posts.
McCray is one of three blue-chip linebackers who Michigan appears to lead for, with E.J. Levenberry and Dorian O'Daniel being the other two. McCray seems like a MLB, while Levenberry and O'Daniel both project to the outside. It's possible Michigan takes all three if they want to commit; it'll come down to a numbers game, but that would be one heck of a linebacker haul. If the Wolverines are saving spots for the best players available, it'll be hard to turn down any of those guys.
Steve Wiltfong posted on the Wolverine247 board today that Michigan "may be the team to beat" for Columbus (OH) Bishop Hartley TE Jacob Matuska after a great visit last Monday ($). This one could be a Michigan/Notre Dame battle, and there's reason for optimism—other than general "Hoke poops magic" optimism—for the Wolverines; a post on BuckeyePlanet says Michigan is very much in the mix despite Matuska being a presumed ND lock ($).
Ty Isaac's Coach Goes Full Fred Jackson and More
TomVH caught up with Ty Isaac's head coach to talk about the Midwest's best running back, and BOOM GALE SAYERS'D ($, info in header):
"Anytime he touches the ball, everybody is on edge, because it could be a Gayle Sayers moment. Every time Sayers touched the ball, he could go, and Ty has that ability," [Joliet Catholic coach Dan] Sharp said. "[Isaac would fit] in any kind of pro-style offense. He's the type of back who can get tough yards, durable, and he's not fun to tackle for safeties and corners."
Sharp also said Isaac reminds him physically of Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Fame member and Heisman Trophy winner. In relevant, non-hyperbolic news, Isaac has no timetable for a decision and will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th.
Michigan has shown up on several players's top [blank] lists recently. Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton visited on Sunday of that mid-February weekend, and while he didn't catch the virulent strand of commitment fever, he now has Michigan in his top three with LSU and Mississippi State ($, info in header). Another player with U-M in his top three is Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins, along with Stanford and Notre Dame ($, info in header); Hawkins said he grew up idolizing Charles Woodson, so he's obviously got good taste.
While Michigan hasn't yet offered, South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei likes the Wolverines, Oregon, Utah, and Washington ($). Concord (CA) De La Salle LB Michael Hutchings—yes, another blue-chip LB—hasn't narrowed his list yet, but says the Wolverines will "easily" make the cut when he trims his list to 8 or 10 in April ($, info in header).
And now, your semi-weekly bulleted list, this time of players who have expressed interest in taking visits to Ann Arbor:
- Don Bosco Prep DE Alquadin Muhammed, one of the top defensive prospects in the country, plans to visit Michigan, though he hasn't set a timetable ($, info in header).
- Asburn (VA) Briar Woods LB Matt Rolin will take a visit to Ann Arbor in the spring, along with planned trips to Tennessee, BC, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech ($, info in header).
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes told Tremendous he will take one of his officials to Michigan, though he obviously hasn't set those in stone yet. His says his interest in the Wolverines is "very, very high."
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow hopes to visit Michigan before the start of football season ($).
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris recently named Virginia as his top school, but he says his next visit will be to Ann Arbor ($). Virginia Tech and Ohio State are also in the mix.
- Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw has a Michigan visit in the works ($, info in header).
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis says he'll take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker hopes to swing by campus when visiting family in Michigan this April ($).
- Oakley (CA) Freedom WR Darrell Daniels says he'll take an official to Michigan if "[he's] really feeling them," and he may also try to head to the Wolverine camp as well ($).
Finally, there's one happy trails to report. One of the Trinity trio, CB Ryan White, committed to hometown Louisville yesterday over Illinois. Teammate DE Jason Hatcher also seems to be favoring the Cardinals early; we'll see how that affects WR James Quick.
Kozan vision quest. No one really knows, but my "Kozan" twitter search turned this up:
"Empty-handed I entered the world, Barefoot I leave it. My coming, my going -- Two simple happenings, That got entangled." - Kozan Ichikyo
Depending on who you listen to, Iowa is out or Michigan is out or Auburn is out. My favorite is this guy:
He's a a high school sports editor for the Denver Post and a huge fan of David Mayo. He also starts every tweet with "Yo." Serious:
Yo: Still waiting on Alex Kozan, Valor Christian, taking his time and hoping to make the right move. Folks are interested.
A bit earlier he said this:
Yo: High drama, indeed ...as of now, Valor Christian's Alex Kozan still deciding between Michigan and Iowa, meeting w/prep coach.
OTOH, Auburn insider buzz is confident. Nobody knows! We'll just have to see what spirit totem Kozan comes back with. I give Auburn the edge because they've got two potential totems.
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings [Rivals]|
|2010||1||3||3||2||2||2, 11, 12, 22||1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 24, 28|
|2011||3||1||2||2||2||4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 25||1, 9, 10, 14, 26|
|2012||5||2||1||6||1?||3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 21||1, 7, 13, 28|
(MSU H2H wins: Maybe Aaron Burbridge, though M seem to have passed because of grades. M: Ross, RJS, Braden, Funchess, Godin, Ojemudia. Technically Norfleet is also a dual offeree but that's stretching it.
"Touted" == got four stars on at least two of four sites.)
This goes here.
User "grsbmd" for the win.
AJ Williams interviewed. Nice hat.
I'll play too. Top five IMPACTFUL IMPACTORS have been put out by everyone and their uncle, so here's my list in two groups.
INSTANTLY IMPACTFUL IMPACTORS
- Ondre Pipkins
- AJ Williams
- Amara Darboh
- Chris Wormley
- Joe Bolden
- Ondre Pipkins
- Joe Bolden
- Kyle Kalis
- Devin Funchess
- Jehu Chesson
Sam Webb put out an instantly impactful list with Bolden, Kalis, Pipkins, Williams, and Wormley. I think Kalis will have to wait a year before starting, and Michigan's going to give their WR recruits a shot to impress them. That article has a lot of tantalizing quotes, by the way. BAM:
"I thought [Bolden] was the best linebacker in the state of Ohio for two years now," said Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk. "He has a high football IQ. A lot of times we say that about guys that don't have athletic ability, but Joe has the athletic ability to go with it. He has got great physical size and he can go sideline to sideline. He can be an outside backer or he can be a middle backer. He is a playmaker. … I think Ohio State and Notre Dame whiffed on that one."
Allen Trieu and Tim(!) Sullivan provided lists focused on the best players once the class is done. Both pick Bolden, Kalis, and Pipkins. Trieu then goes with Ben Braden(!) and James Ross; Tim goes with Chesson and Wormley. The Funchess will dominate all. It's the bucket hat.
Best established meme. Thirty Devins agree:
WE LOVE BUCKET HATS. (L to R: Terry Richardson, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Devin Funchess, James Ross. Via USA Football.)
Kalis location. For now, still tackle:
"Coach Hoke has already let me know, depending on what kind of shape I come into camp in the summer, when I start getting into the groove of things and put the pads on, he's going to let me decide whether I feel more comfortable at the right tackle or right guard spot. It all depends in how I come in and how I feel."
Given Michigan's depth chart at tackle—there is no depth chart at tackle—it may make sense to give Kalis every opportunity to win the right tackle job from Schofield. If he does, Schofield can stay at guard. If he doesn't he's as prepared as possible to sub in in the event one of the starters is sidelined. Even if his long term future is at guard as the most college-ready lineman in the class Michigan has a crying need for him at tackle in 2012, whether it's as a backup or a starter.
Norfleet geared up. Via the social medias:
Happy the guy managed to get an offer he clearly wanted, even if he had to wait for it. I'm betting he'll make that pay off for both himself and M. Hopefully Smith transfers his blitz pickup mojo to him this year.
Dinardo on Kalis. He likes him:
"I don't remember seeing many better high school offensive linemen than Kalis," DiNardo said on the Big Ten Football Report. "Alan Faneca, who played for me at LSU, an All-Pro for a long-time, was a great high school, great college, and great pro player. (Kalis) reminds me of Faneca."
Four years. Excellent PR move by the Big Ten to move en masse to four year scholarships:
Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio State and several other schools have offered four-year scholarships to prospects in this year's class instead of the one-year, renewable scholarships that had been the norm throughout college sports.
I wonder what enforcement mechanisms exist for that; clearly there have to be some loopholes in case a player does not keep up academically or gets in trouble. Either way, it's more pressure on schools to not cut folks willy-nilly.
I think Purdue may be the lone holdout in the league, but haven't seen confirmation of that.
Etc.: Fairly useless Luginbill quotes. ESPN dudes predict Joe Bolden will see the field fast. Insert complaint about ESPN's focus on the UA game here. Local news article on Ben Braden. The Sporting News wins "most accurate recruiting service" for 2012 for ranking Michigan #2. Mattison on Kalis. Dantonio fuming about the "unethical" poaching of committed recruits. Brian Kelly whiffs down the stretch, too. The class visualized by position and state. Wojo on Signing Day.
The recruiting roundup is going to be rather quick today, as I'm supposed to hop on a plane this afternoon and I still have yet to pack. I'll actually be out of pocket for much of Signing Day—due to circumstances outside my control—but Brian is aware of this and will have all your NSD needs covered. On to the roundup...
Lifting the Cloud
Michigan headed into last weekend expecting to pick up at least two, possibly three, and just maybe four new commits for the 2012 class. Instead, Armani Reeves decided to join his godbrother at Ohio State, Alex Kozan chose Iowa, and Sam Grant pulled a shocker and picked Oklahoma, surprising even Sooner insiders. It was not exactly sunshine and lollipops in Wolverine land. I'll leave it at that.
Enter Cleveland (OH) Glenville DT Willie Henry, whose commitment was announced (early, it turned out) by head coach Ted Ginn yesterday afternoon, providing a ray of sunlight through the dense cloud of doom and gloom. For more on Henry, a promising but raw prospect, check out his commitment post. Sam Webb interviewed Ginn after Henry's, er, not-yet-commitment, and that critical pipeline to Glenville appears to be open once again for the Wolverines [emphasis mine]:
The Wolverines’ cause in this race was undoubtedly helped by Brady Hoke’s long standing relationship with Ginn… one that dates back to his time as an assistant at Michigan.
“I had a relationship with Brady going back with (former Michigan defensive end) Pierre (Woods),” the Glenville coach recalled. “Then he went to Ball State and (the relationship) increased… he took about five or six of my guys. The relationship has always been there. It’s a new day and a new way (at Michigan).”
CAN I GET AN AMEN? Sorry, got caught up for a second. But yes, after Michigan's relationship soured with the Ohio powerhouse at the end of the Carr era and under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines have pulled in Frank Clark and Willie Henry from the Tarblooders (yes, the Tarblooders) in consecutive classes. This not only bodes well for the current squad, but future recruiting classes.
"You watch his film and you go, 'why isn't he ranked higher?'" Trieu said. "You also go, 'Wow, why didn't he have a ton more offers?'" ...
"He just didn’t play much, didn’t really make an impact as a junior, and that happens at talented schools like Glenville," Trieu added. "He was a kid who just completely stayed off the radar until late. But, once you saw him play, you could tell he can really play.
"Michigan's getting a very good player, even if he isn't ranked like it."
Scout's Dave Berk is also a fan; sounds like Henry is a potential contributor despite a recruiting process that would imply he is not one.]
Michigan now has one known target left on the board: Chicago Simeon OT Jordan Diamond, who announces his choice on Friday between Michigan, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin—Diamond has confirmed he dropped Ohio State from his list, but denied doing the same with Auburn ($).
Addressing the Needs
I thought, after the general panic caused by Michigan's 0-for-3 weekend, that this would be a good time to take a look back at initial expectations for the class. Enter the 2012 recruiting board (not updated in a long time, I know), where Tim outlined the needs at each position for the class. Here's a breakdown of each position group and the number of prospects Tim projected the Wolverines to get based on need:
QUARTERBACK: 1. Not filled, but can I interest you in a Shane Morris? I thought so.
RUNNING BACK: 1+. While M missed out on Bri'onte Dunn, Drake Johnson and Siome Houma are both in the fold.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2. Done, not only with high-caliber prospects, but high-caliber people in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson.
TIGHT END: 1-2. Welcome, Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 4-5. Michigan has filled the minimum requirement with high-quality prospects, and Jordan Diamond would give them one of the best offensive line classes in recent memory.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 2. Ondre Pipkins should be a 3+ year starter at the nose, Henry fills a need at the three-tech, and both Chris Wormley and Matt Godin could end up here, too.
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Wormley and Godin are joined by Tom Strobel and Mario Ojemudia, giving Michigan a talented and versatile set of DEs.
LINEBACKER: 2-3. Michigan has three All-Americans plus an early enrollee in Kaleb Ringer (UA All-American Joe Bolden also enrolled early).
SAFETY: 2. Jarrod Wilson, Allen Gant, and Jeremy Clark all project to safety.
CORNERBACK: 1+. All-American Terry Richardson addresses that need, though it would've been nice to get one more.
The only need that isn't already addressed in this class is quarterback, and Michigan already has one of the top quarterbacks in 2013 committed (and doing a little recruiting himself). Not only that, but the talent level puts this class easily into the top ten nationally. There's the ledge, and you shouldn't be anywhere near it.
In other news on committed prospects, Scout released their final rankings for the Midwest region and the state of Michigan. Five of the top seven in-state prospects are blue, as are seven of the top 21 Midwest recruits, and that number would go to eight if Diamond comes into the fold on Friday.
Quickly: Kyle Meinke with a great article on Darboh's tumultuous childhood over at AnnArbor.com; Chris Wormley, just chillin' and watching the AFC title game with Greg Mattison—NBD; Tom writes a free (hooray!) article on social media and its impact on the current class.
[ED: this section by ed, who is Brian.]
The Detroit News's Blue Chip list survey annually produces bold statments, total fiction, and pathos when they ask the #15 ranked kid in the state why he didn't go to State or Michigan and he doesn't say "neither of them wanted me." This year's edition is no different. Your winner for quote of the year comes from Tennessee commit Danny O'Brien:
I just don't like Ann Arbor. It's a little too liberal for me.
This will not be a problem in Knoxville.
Other quotes of note come from Mario Ojemudia ("it was definitely the [M] coaches who changed my mind" on where he should go to school), Royce Jenkins-Stone ("there was no way I would go there" if Rich Rodriguez was still coach at M), Devin Funchess (consistent complaints about MSU "favoritism"), and MSU commit Jamal Lyles, who says Michigan wanted him as a tight end.
No new offers to report for now, but Michigan has picked up interest in a couple of prospects: Riverside (CA) J.W. North TE Marcus Baugh, a four-star on 24/7 ($, info in header) and South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei, also a 24/7 four-star ($, info in header), who were both visited by Michgian coaches this past week.
Several big-name targets received major offers from elsewhere, however. OT Logan Tuley-Tillman visited Alabama last weekend and got an offer from Saban ($, info in header). Michigan is still presumed to be the leader, but Tuley-Tillman did say that the 'Bama visit was "awesome." Ohio State offered a pair of Michigan targets in Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon ($, info in header) and Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith ($, info in header). Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek CB Shaq Wiggins picked up an offer from home-state school Georgia ($, info in header), and now has an updated top five (in no particular order) of the Dawgs, Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan, and Ole Miss.
Finally, happy trails to a pair of recruits: Alabama landed running back Altee Tenpenny ($, info in header), who didn't have an offer but was an early target, and Ohio State nabbed early five-star athlete Jalin Marshall.
One last note: If you missed my post on the board yesterday, I recorded a pre-NSD podcast with Jeff Junstrom of Black Shoe Diaries and Alex Gleitman of Eleven Warriors—we give an overview of each of our classes, break down a few of the top recruits, project how each class will round out, and discuss some big names that are on the radar in 2013. This should be a recurring feature; it's always good to keep a close eye on the enemy.
This could be going better. I was really thinking there'd be a Hello post yesterday. Instead, bupkis. Armani Reeves sticks with his buddy and Alex Kozan commits to Iowa. Michigan's 50-50 shots are coming up tails. With Sam Grant headed to Oklahoma, even their better than 50-50 shots are coming up tails.
Big deal? Somewhat. It's not a huge deal to downgrade from a 3/4 star type like Kozan to a sleeper three star like new DT hotness Willie Henry*. Losing Reeves and having Yuri Wright go off the board** because of various tweets about organisms (not those organisms) does leave corner a little dodgy, especially if you look at 5'8" Cass Tech corners skeptically these days. The depth chart looks fine there, though.
OL and TE not so much. Diamond is a huge priority now and if Chris Muller looks like he might shake free from Rutgers (survey says… probably not, but not out of the question) I would hop on that rather than vacate a bunch of scholarships. Michigan has five more slots and looks like they'll fill two or three from Henry/Diamond. Insert extreme confusion about Arnett situation here.
Along with Kozan, Iowa's getting guys from eight-man football who have commit posts begin…
That's Nate Meier, a running back/MLB who will either be Chad Greenway or a shiftless hobo in five years depending on which side of the ball he ends up on. The point: no one in the division is recruiting at Hoke's level and with a huge focus on getting character kids, eventually that's going to pay off.
*[Who is not the surprise I was talking about in an earlier post, FWIW. I think that is off the table now; not sure what changed but Henry certainly seems like a one for one drop in for mystery guy. Most likely scenario: they watched Henry's film just now and veered towards him over mystery guy.]
**[LEMON BET STATUS! since every post about Wright's situation ostentatiously mentions Michigan's withdrawal from his recruitment, it is void. The disbelief was that a player from NJ would choose to go to Colorado over Michigan; Wright basically had no choice.
Also: no, Yuri Wright did not get expelled for some frickin' tweets. That does not happen. Similarly, Michigan did not drop the kid for some frickin' tweets. Put the pieces together and you have something like Stonum. The relatively minor thing was the last straw. This is entirely speculation.]
Bye week hockey. Another chaotic weekend in college hockey saw Bowling Green win(!) and UMD come out of a weekend against Michigan Tech on the short end of things. Tech is now .500 on the year and 9-7-2 in the WCHA. Mel Pearson: I be like dang.
Anyway, when the dust cleared Michigan blipped down to seventh in the Pairwise and sixth in the CCHA, but it's not all that bad:
|Ohio State||10||7||5||1||36||22||1 1/3|
|Notre Dame||10||7||3||0||33||20||1 1/3|
|Lake Superior||9||9||4||4||35||22||1 2/3|
|8||Michigan State||8||9||3||2||29||20||2 2/3|
They are a point from a massive n-way tie for third. The schedule doesn't look that intimidating anymore, with series against #3, #8, #9, and 11, though of course there's little difference between 2-9 in the league.
What if we look at goal differential?
Michigan is #1 by a second ENG against OSU and faces #2, #7, #9, and #11. Suddenly things are manageable. After this weekend they'll be exceedingly so. Anything better than a split against Miami and they're rolling to the finish.
As for the Pairwise, pay no attention to the drop. Lowell, BC, and Ferris are ahead by RPI shavings. A collapsing OSU is ahead by a COP shaving. If Michigan plays like they deserve a one seed down the stretch they'll get it. The target number of wins to enter the CCHA playoffs as a top seed is six, which is very doable: sweep terrible BG and one other weekend, split the other two.
The only truly annoying comparison is versus CC, which overcomes a massive RPI gap by playing fewer TUCs (both teams are two games above .500) and beating Union instead of losing to them. Root against the Tigers from here on out.
Negative recruiting: not so much. Amara Darboh:
"A lot of the other coaches, when I would talk to them, they’d ask, 'What other schools you looking at?'" four-star Iowa receiver Amara Darboh said. "And then then they would talk badly about the schools, or bash where I just went.
"But, not Michigan. I don’t know why they didn’t, but I like that they didn’t, and it says a lot about them."
Wormley, Reeves, and Pipkins also vouch for that. And Darboh's guardian brings up Hoke's masterful self control during a key moment:
Dan Schaefer, legal guardian of Darboh, said he was highly skeptical of Michigan because of the failures of the Rich Rodriguez era and the instability of a coaching change. Two things changed his mind.
First, it was Hoke's measured handling of struggling punter Will Hagerup in the Ohio State game last season, which was Darboh's official visit.
"He wasn’t overreacting," Schaefer said. "Like, the punter missed the snap. But (Hoke) didn’t go over there and get in his business right away. I liked that. It gave me confidence he could handle Amara."
I was uttering every cussed cuss I knew and inventing six new ones as this went down. Mienke also has a story on Darboh's turbulent past. Turbulent as in "caught in a civil war."
'98 Wisconsin. Part of Michigan's recovery from that ugly 0-2 start ("Cross is boss! Cross is boss!"):
Via Wolverine Historian, obviously. You can also check out '83 Ohio State.
Well done, America. Texas hates Craig James:
Public Policy Polling just came out of the field with news that only 2 percent of Texas Republicans will vote for him for U.S. Senate. It's early yet, but if Republican political consultant Brian Mayes is correct, 2 percent is about where we should expect him to end up. In the interests of disclosure, I'm working for one of the Democrats in the race, and we aren't concerned with James in the slightest.
"I'm surprised it's that high," said Mayes. "If you ask the average Republican voter... he's remembered for the scandal at SMU and using his position at ESPN to get a wildly popular coach fired. He is by far one of the most hated men in West Texas."
"It's not that people in West Texas don't like him," said Mayes. "It's that nobody likes him."
The only downside to this is ESPN will rehire him on the Stephen A. Smith principle: ESPN hates us as much as America hates Craig James and knows we can't change the channel.
Let the looting begin. The NCAA has come to a fairly obvious realization in the aftermath of finding out there's an Indiana State:
Association President Mark Emmert said Sunday he'll appoint a working group to examine the issue, stressing it will focus on "the way in which Division I is organized for the purposes of making decisions" - and not on a competitive format that now groups football programs into bowl and lower-tier championship subdivisions.
IE, Indiana State shouldn't be able to say anything to anyone. Anonymous officials a bit later in the piece suggest Emmert is being coy in public and another split between football programs is at least going to be spitballed.
Anything that gets San Jose State out of I-A is fine by me, but it seems unlikely anything will come to fruition here. If it does, the break should be based on institutional support offered a football team. If it's over X, GTFO. Prediction: if there is a split, eventually those left behind from the current I-A will merge with FCS as it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the two lower divisions apart.
Success with… actually let's just scratch both. Penn State cuts freshman center Peter Alexis from its basketball team, effective at the end of the season. This is described as the result of a… "carefrontation." That is not a word.
Alexis appears to be a good student and has not gotten in any trouble. Two thirds of BSD voters say this is okay even if it was "purely based on his basketball ability."
This is what happens. Q: What is Molk talking about here?
"I don't like it; I don't care about it; it (ticks) me off," Molk said. "It just adds to my anger."
Also, Molk has to be Michigan's internet-era record holder for most bowdlerized quotes in the newspaper. This story alone has the above plus:
"Missing the Senior Bowl (stinks)."
And then Barwis gets in on it:
"It shows something to the NFL that the guy tore a tendon off a bone and played with a tendon off the bone, and he said, '(Forget) it, I'm going to dominate a game."
Etc.: The East side upper deck of Spartan Stadium is "kind of like 1980s Poland," says A Beautiful Day For Football, which I can vouch for since I've been in it three times. If it was just a holding pen for opposing fans it would make sense. It's not. How to tweet at recruits. I'm surprised Kenpom isn't sitting on top of something tall, screaming "COME AT ME BRO" about Wisconsin after the Badgers resurrected their season.
Bob Miller scouts U17 NTDP commits JT Compher, Tyler Motte, and Evan Allen plus fellow 2013 commit Michael Downing. TomVH gets Barwisized. Remember how Ohio State fans were outraged by oversigning? Never mind. Plague of non-caring students extends to MSU.
In case you missed the announcement on Tuesday, recruiting roundup posts are now a twice-a-week affair. Today, Josh Garnett's commitment to Stanford is discussed, as are updates on the status of the remaining 2012 targets and new offers to members of the class of 2013.
Garnett to Stanford (Sad Trombone)
As I'm sure you are well aware of if you're the type to be reading this post, blue-chip OL Josh Garnett chose Stanford over Michigan last night. Beyond losing out on a potential All-American guard, this isn't a huge blow to Michigan's recruiting class—the team is still in good shape with Jordan Diamond and Alex Kozan, for starters—but it's disappointing nonetheless. I asked the Twitter world last night if any Stanford bloggers would like a detailed commitment post, and the general response was, "LOL Stanford football bloggers?" which, like, good point.
How will Garnett's decision impact Michigan? Well, the Wolverines can still fill a spot along the interior of the line if Kozan goes blue when he announces on Sunday ($, info in header). Kozan has narrowed his choices to Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn—I've said this before, but Kozan might actually be the most important recruit left on the board, as he's the only lineman among M's commits and targets who projects to center, where the Wolverines have major depth issues. Kozan hasn't given any indication about holding a favorite, so we'll just have to wait and see who he chooses.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce on February 3rd, and the big tackle has reportedly cut down his choices to three schools, one of which is Auburn ($), but he won't reveal the other two at the moment. It appears that Ohio State is out of the picture, and a Brian-approved insider posted on the MGoBoard yesterday that Diamond is really down to Michigan and Arkansas. His recruitment has taken so many twists and turns that I won't bother to throw out a guess.
One other O-lineman has entered the picture in Rutgers commit Chris Muller, a four-star tackle who holds a Wolverine offer. According to Rivals national analyst Mike Farrell, Muller was contacted by Michigan—along with several other schools—yesterday in the wake of the breaking news that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had taken the head coaching job for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We'll see if Muller's reported interest culminates in a visit.
Armani Reeves Update; Sam Grant Non-Update
Sam Webb caught up with Armani Reeves's godfather, Brent Williams (father of best friend and Ohio State commit Camren Williams), for a two-part interview last night. In part one ($) Williams discussed the in-home visits of Brady Hoke, Curt Mallory, and Greg Mattison—they went well—and debunked the rumor that Urban Meyer showed up late for OSU's in-home visit. He also soundly denies that Reeves and Camren Williams are a package deal, which is obviously good news for Michigan. Part two ($) has the most relevant info, as Sam asked Williams about a a possible decision date for Reeves:
Brent Williams: “Well, I’m not saying that there’s a date. I would say he’s going to have some time… a lot of time… this weekend to think it through. He has a pretty good game on Friday. After that I think he’ll have Saturday and Sunday to kind of think things through. We’ll sit down over the weekend and kind of talk about the pros and cons of both situations and go from there. We’re not doing a hat; we’re not doing a press conference. Call the coach, and tell him you’re coming… then call the other coach, and tell him you’re not. It’s pretty simple. At this point the whole mystery behind pulling hats and whatever tricks you got… we’re just not really focused on that. We’re just trying to find the right school that is going to help him going forward.”
It sounds like we're unlikely to hear about a decision until Sunday at the earliest and the process could possibly stretch into next week. Every indication is that Reeves is still undecided.
As for Michigan's other prominent target, tight end Sam Grant, he was visited at home by Brady Hoke last night, but there hasn't been any word about a possible commitment. The consensus is that Michigan leads, however, and we could hear his final decision at any time—Grant has talked about wrapping up his recruitment quickly since December, but new offers threw a wrench into those plans. Now that he's got everything laid out in front of him, I don't think we'll have to wait too long for an announcement.
Chris Wormley's Interesting Choice in Pre-Game Music
Tremendous caught up with Chris Wormley this week to talk about his recruitment as well as his pre-game ritual. The latter line of questioning is where things got interesting:
Tremendous: So before you get on the field, who are you listening to in order to get you amped up?
Chris: Usually Lil' Wayne, Drake or Adele.
Tremendous: One of those is not like the other.
Chris (laughs): I like listening to Adele. She calms me down. People laugh when I say that I listen to her.
Tremendous: How does it pump you up though? It's Adele!
Chris: With Adele, I just like listening to her because she sounds good. It doesn't really pump me up or calm me down.
Tremendous: I like Lady Gaga, Chris. It's alright.
Chris: Eh, she's a little weird for me.
Tremendous: Thanks dude.
I don't mind Adele, so I can't hate. Lady Gaga, well, I'll just leave that one alone. I'll also save you the rant about how current popular hip hop is a steaming pile of hot garbage. ANYWAYS, Tremendous also interviewed Mario Ojemudia, who's already starting the trash talk about the Michigan-MSU rivalry:
Tremendous: I asked Devin [Funchess] the same thing: What's it going to be like to play against [MSU commit and high school teammate] Aaron [Burbridge] for four years?
Mario: It would have been nice to play together, but I always figured we'd end up at different schools. It's going to be fun beating him for four years though.
Well played, Mario.
Quickly: The Detroit News profiled Ben Braden in their ongoing Blue Chip series, but it's a rehashing of the "hey, this big guy played hockey in high school" story that's already been beaten into the ground months before he's even on campus.
247Sports released their Class of 2013 All-American team, and it's littered with Michigan targets. The Wolverines have offered or shown strong interest in RB Ty Isaac, WR James Quick, WR MarQuez North, TE Adam Breneman, OL Laremy Tunsil, OL Steven Elmer (ND commit), OL Ethan Pocic, OL Jake Raulerson, DE Jonathan Allen, LB Su'a Cravens, LB E.J. Levenberry, and ATH Jalin Marshall.
Running through news on the current juniors, there are a couple of new offers to report: Wexford (PA) North Allegheny OL Patrick Kugler ($, info in header), a four-star to 24/7, and Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen ($, info in header). Michigan is offering a ton of receivers in the junior class—it's clear that getting a couple big-time playmakers at the position is a huge priority.
Quickly: Michigan also appears close to offering four-star Washington D.C. lineman Derwin Gray ($, info in header); Avon (OH) cornerback Ross Douglas will take an unofficial visit on February 3rd ($, info in header)—he believes he's close to an offer, as well; Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights DE/DT/OT Donovan Munger is in regular contact with Greg Mattison, and he would favor Michigan and Ohio State if he was offered ($); Magnus scouts Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, one of Michigan's top targets along the offensive line.
As Signing Day nears, people commit to schools. That's how it works. Michigan has had a long wait after their summer flood and now sits on five guys that will either fill out the class or commit heinous crimes that can never be forgiven. In the spirit of late January/early February recruiting overkill, a rundown of the prospects and what my own Bayesian spidey sense (assembled from message board trolling, tips in the inbox, and a few conversations) is feeling at the moment.
If you don't read every word of the recruiting roundups, let this serve as a 1,000 foot view.
OH TE Sam Grant. Grant recently decommitted from Boston College after a long period of being a commit in name only and is either down to Michigan and Oklahoma or those two schools and Arkansas, depending on who you listen to. I have no insider information on him but his visit schedule is telling. In chronological order, he took trips to:
That second trip is telling, likely an attempt to confirm his decision or bring a family member up to get them on board. With Kyle Kalis undoubtedly in his ear and Oklahoma flush with tight end recruits (three already), this one seems like the least dramatic recruitment on the board.
IL OL Jordan Diamond. Diamond has seemingly had Michigan in the lead for over a year now, when he popped up on Michigan's radar during their recruitment of Simeon teammate Chris Bryant. A recruit not committing to an obvious leader over a long period of time can be a bad sign—it's often a signal there's something impassable. In Diamond's case, once Meyer arrived and started shooting offers out to anyone with four stars in the Big Ten footprint rumors started swirling about an Ohio State commit; he visited.
That moment has passed, leaving Diamond with an official top four of M, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Unofficially, that top four is a top two of M and Arkansas. The delay here is supposedly alarm at Michigan's offensive line recruiting class and Diamond's seeming inability to start from day one at Michigan. If Michigan makes it clear that the need at tackle is dire and that a couple of the touted players in the class are likely destined for guard (like Kalis and Garnett if he chooses justice and light), he should be blue. People close to Diamond believe that he really wants Michigan.
WA OL Josh Garnett. The biggest fish on the board is down to Stanford and Michigan. There is an interesting divide between the most informed Michigan observers (Sam, Tom), who believe it will be M, and most national analysts, who believe it will be Stanford. Garnett is going to make a lot of people wrong no matter who he chooses. Tom's confidence has been on the wane a bit of late; Sam, too, has been a little more reserved about Michigan's chances. This seems based on vibe more than new information, which isn't forthcoming. Some of the West Coast analysts predicting Stanford admit that they haven't gotten any new information out of Garnett in forever.
Kevin Erik Magnuson [ed: damn my memory for obscure old M hockey defensemen] and Garnett twitter footsie has reached levels heretofore unseen. Garnett has a bunch of people snowed either way; the choice here is between distance from home and being able to enjoy a milkshake with Magnuson at a school that has a much better track record of sustained success than Stanford.
This one is a tossup on which I don't have inside info. But…
MA CB Armani Reeves. After decommiting from Penn State, Reeves is down to Michigan or Ohio State. Michigan came in second on Reeves's first go-round and familiarity on its side—Ohio State just hired their defensive backs coach a couple hours ago. Ohio State has a commitment from best friend and fellow PSU decommit Camren Williams. Quien es mas macho?
Nobody knows. This is another recruitment that will go into the hat dance a genuine mystery; Rivals East Coast analyst Mike Farrell was "surprised" that the Urban in-home didn't lock Reeves down and now gives Michigan a ludicrously specific 52-48 edge based on nothing more than Bayesian spidey sense vibes. It's likely that not even Reeves knows where he's going at the moment.
Verdict: Flip a coin.
CO OL Alex Kozan. Kozan is down to Iowa, Michigan, and Auburn, three of the four schools he took officials to. Ohio State, the other, was presumed to be the heavy favorite. The way that changed suddenly implies that OSU pulled its offer. With the lingering OSU fandom push him away or will revenge bloodlust push him towards Michigan? Nobody knows.
No one knows anything about Kozan, really. I can't find one thing that indicates he's leaning one way or the other and haven't heard anything personally. All I've got is that it's the Auburn site on 247 that seems to be posting the most relevant items, like his announcement date. Auburn is nowhere near the 25 maximum and though they are hypothetically near 85, things happen, you know.
Verdict: Flip a three-sided coin.
Random Surprise Fellow. I think Michigan can take all five of the above if the chips fall their way. They have 23 with three early enrollees and have 27 scholarships open right now with one blindingly obvious candidate to not receive a fifth year. If Michigan strikes out on one or more of the above, do they have an Englemon in their pocket?
I have heard they do, a generic three-star defensive lineman currently committed to another BCS school. Michigan initially did not pursue him heavily but if there's a signing day flip don't be shocked. I think it'll take more than missing out on just one of the above for that to happen, but if it's a choice between leaving three scholarships open and taking a mystery guy I'm betting on mystery guy.