so much for that
Sinestral: Ross, Ryan and Clark|Bryan Fuller, MGoBlog. Dextral: Bill Walsh
First, a Chag Sameach to my fellow tribesmen and a Happy Turtleversary to the wingnuts.
We now continue with the Bill Walshian rundown of the 2013 roster. Since Michigan's offense and defense schemes are kindred spirits of the great 49er teams of the '80s, I've found it somewhat useful to re-scout Michigan's players on the same factors that the legendary coach used to evaluate his draft picks. How do we know what Walsh drafted on? Well wouldn'tchya know it, he provided it in a 1997 article for Pro Sports Exchange that Chris Brown (Smart Football) discovered.
Bruce Smith/ James Hall / Frank Clark by Upchurch
Walsh Says: 6'5/270 or 6'3/245 depending on type. It's complicated so I'm going to spend some extra time here. His DE descriptions bounced between what you want from 3-4 DEs, which is the 3- and 5-tech in Michigan's defense, and pure pass rushers. Ultimately Michigan's WDE is closer to the pass-rush-specialist-who-stops-runs-too job description of a Walshian 3-4 weakside linebacker than a blocker-sucking interior DL, so they go here with the LBs. Speed and quickness are now very much in play:
Must have explosive movement and the ability to cover ground quickly in three to five yards of space. The ability to get your shoulder past the shoulder of the tackle. This makes for a pass rusher. With that there is quickness because it sets up a lot of other things.
From the outside linebackers description we get this:
These pass rushing outside linebackers must have natural gifts, or instincts for dealing with offensive tackles who are up to 100 pounds heavier. Quickness is only part of it. They must know how to use leverage, how to get underneath the larger man's pads and work back toward the quarterback. And he must be strong enough to bounce off blocks and still make the play.
The rush DE needs to have some finesse. This site never misses an opportunity to knock on Will Gholston so I'll do that: Gholston has more than enough explosion and strength, and is an excellent tackler but the big hole in his game is he doesn't get leverage or bounce off blocks. This is why State deployed him mostly SDE this year while Marcus Rush was the premier pass rusher. Walsh says it's all the same if you can push a tackle as go around him, but being an okay jack of all trades here isn't as valuable as being super disruptive at one or the other.
Overall strength is important. You don't have to be a Mike Martin beastmonster in the weight room but a WDE has to be strong enough to not get turned by the tackle. This is also a technique issue though it's not a skill that needs years to develop—a big sophomore year leap is expected at this position as the kid gains weight, strength, and the footwork and balance to be able to keep his shoulders pointed toward the football.
As echoed in Mattison's statements in 2011 regarding WDEs, Walsh calls his rush DEs "the substance off the defensive team" since their ability to put pressure on the quarterback can make or break a defense. This is why great DEs are at such a premium in today's NFL.
The last piece is willpower, which in scouting parlance becomes "high motor." WDEs typically get rotated a lot because they burn a gazillion calories on each play. Because this spot is supposed to win 1-on-1 battles and kill plays himself, success on the second and third moves can make a huge difference.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: If James Hall and Larry Stevens had a baby, and that baby came out 6'5/260 and immediately ate the doctor. Michigan just hasn't had the freaks here unless you count Woodley and I'm saving him. Stevens didn't have the sacks but generated hurries. And Hall: because he's 6'2 every scout from the early recruiting years to modern NFL trade talkers underrates him, despite consistent production at every level. Hall is second (to Graham) in career sacks and 6th in TFLs among Wolverines and was the 1997 team's secret weapon. Both guys were often extolled for their virtues under the hood.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: EXPLOSIONS! I know I said this for SDE but even more so. You know these guys on sight because the innate quickness and strength makes them terrors against high schoolers. Skipping over the blue chips (or like Ra'Shede Hageman who would have been a blue chip if he accepted Florida's offer to play DE rather than Minnesota's offer of tight end) 3-stars who shine seem to have athletic tickmarks or the proverbial motor. I noticed some of the big performers from high school All-American games (Ray Drew, Alex Okafor, a million dudes who went to Florida) tend to fare well—about the worst among Army game standouts of yore was Victor Abiamiri, who was still pretty good. The pushers had ridiculous squats (Simon's was 700!)
What you can learn on film: How fast he gets into the backfield, adjusted for competition. You're looking for that quick burst. The great ones just look completely unblockable—like the guy blocking him doesn't seem to have any leverage.
What could signal bust potential: Size. Rivals tends to put its favorite DEs at "SDE" for this reason. If you browse through the five-stars you generally find two categories: high-effort guys who were early contributors and are or are on track to be NFL draft picks at defensive end, and Pierre Woods/Shawn Crable-like linebackers whose recruiting profiles said they would grow into Jevon Kearse. There's a reason they called Kearse "the freak."
How our guys compare: Frank Clark and Brennan Beyer are the two sides of the WDE coin. This refrain from MGoBlog is becoming tiresome but Beyer seems the stronger and more responsible one and Clark is the greater X-factor. We overplay this; both would still fall more into the finesse side than, say, John Simon, and both seem to top out as useful but not stars.
Ojemudia is kind of a James Hall but more akin to Shantee Orr. Where James Hall was small but had the size to stand up to a good shove when needed, here you have a dude with explosiveness and great hands for pass rushing but is going to be dead meat if doubled and run at, and is therefore best deployed as a 3rd down or [blank]-and-long specialist.
Early enrollee Vidauntae "Taco" Charlton, who's already 6'6/265 on Michigan's spring roster, is the closest thing to Walshian dreams. On film though a lot of times you just see him blowing something up because they didn't block him, and though this probably had a lot to do with being way bigger than high school tackles in Central Ohio he didn't play with much leverage after the snap. The reason for all the Tacoptimism is he blew up the camp circuit. He probably still needs a year to work on technique since he spent most of high school in a 2-point stance. Warning: he doesn't check the motor box.
[Linebackers, after a leap.]
PREVIOUSLY: The Offense
Following up yesterday's breakdown of the 2013 recruits on offense, here's a look at Michigan's defensive class—click each player's name to see their original commitment post:
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||DT||MA||3||4||4||3|
And now, some superlatives:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Linebacker
This class is pretty evenly spread across the position groups—an argument could be made for pretty much any group on the field. In an effort to avoid giving all of the awards to Dymonte Thomas, I'll go with the linebackers here. After 2012's big haul, Michigan only needed a couple of linebackers in the class, and they filled their two spots with a pair of very solid prospects in Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon.
The lone linebacker spot the 2012 class didn't cover was on the strong side, and McCray's size (6'4", 230 lbs.) and athleticism make him an ideal fit there. Gedeon, meanwhile, is a stellar athlete—he also starred at running back for Hudson—who should be able to cover the field sideline-to-sideline from the weakside linebacker position.
Honorable Mention: Safety, Cornerback
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Strongside DE
There isn't one, and that's the only hole in this class on the defensive side of the ball. After Michigan brought in three SDE-types in 2012—Matt Godin, Tom Strobel, and Chris Wormley—there wasn't a major need, especially with in-state standout Malik McDowell firmly in their sights for the 2014 class.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Dymonte Thomas
Defensive highlights start at the 4:22 mark.*
It's distinctly possible that no member of the 2013 class starts on defense next season, and that's a very good thing for Michigan. If one will, however, it's safety Dymonte Thomas, a dominant force in the state of Ohio at both running back and safety for the last three seasons. Michigan has to replace Jordan Kovacs, and if Jarrod Wilson isn't ready to step in at free safety, it's likely that Thomas Gordon will play there while Thomas slides in at strong safety.
Thomas may be the best pure athlete in the class—if he wanted, he could've easily been a four-star running back recruit—and he brings a very physical presence to the secondary. He should be an asset in run support off the bat and he has all the tools necessary to be solid in coverage, as well. Down the road, I think Thomas will be an all-conference—or even All-American—player, and it may be tough to keep him off the field this fall.
Honorable Mention: The only other play I see having a shot to start this year is Taco Charlton—he's an impressive player and the weakside DE spot is open to competition. That said, I don't see that happening unless Michigan gets hit by the injury bug.
*Also of note: those are junior highlights. His senior reel is well worth a look.
SUREST THING: Dymonte Thomas
See above. Frankly, I'm surprised Scout was the only service to rank him as a five-star.
Honorable Mention: Henry Poggi. Poggi may not be a superstar—he doesn't always explode off the ball on film—but he seems like a guy who should at least be a solid starter down the road.
BOOM OR BUST: Jourdan Lewis
I've seen cornerback Jourdan Lewis play in either a game or camp setting over a half-dozen times at this point, and he's an outstanding athlete who could conceivably contribute in the return game or even at receiver. When he played across from current Wolverine Terry Richardson as a junior, I thought Lewis was flat-out the better player—he's a little taller and is extremely good at making a play on the ball. After giving him a closer look this year, however, I noticed a couple holes in his game:
There are a couple major concerns I have with Lewis, however, that were on display on Friday night. He does rely on that recovery speed far too much in man coverage—if OLSM's quarterback had thrown that hitch on time, for example, I don't think Lewis would've been able to break up the pass. Then there's run support, where Lewis is very limited by his small frame; at his size, he has to be completely committed to throwing his weight around and tackling with proper technique, and I don't see that at this point. He tends to dive for an ankle-tackle and shies away from major contact—there's a stark contrast between him and Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit.
Lewis has all the athleticism necessary to be a very good cover corner, but he's going to need to add some weight, embrace the physicality of the run game, and refine his coverage skills if he wants to be a major contributor at cornerback. If that doesn't work out, he could flip to offense and be a playmaker in the slot, so his versatility gives him a lesser chance of flaming out, but there's no guarantee he'd stick there, either. I think Lewis is a prospect with a high ceiling, but he's going to have to work to get there.
Honorable Mention: Maurice Hurst Jr.—the athletic big man could wreak havoc on the interior, but he's got to learn to play low.
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Taco Charlton
When I drove down to Pickerington to see defensive end Taco Charlton's Central squad take on crosstown rival North (and fellow commit Jake Butt), I expected to see a raw pass-rushing specialist. Instead, I saw him play an instrumental role in keeping North running back Godwin Igwebuike (Northwestern commit) well below his usual numbers, sacrificing his personal stats to key on the run—and he still came up with 1.5 sacks:
Despite having a reputation as a pass-rush specialist, Charlton was instrumental in limiting Igwebuike on the ground, finishing with ten tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was largely tasked with keeping contain, and I don't recall a single instance where a running play got outside of him if it went to his side. While he sometimes allows offensive linemen to get their hands into his chest off the snap, he did a solid job of engaging and using his hands to shed blocks. He played a very disciplined game against the run, showed off a very high motor—especially impressive since he also moonlighted at tight end and on special teams—and always seemed to end up around the football.
As a pass-rusher, Charlton showed off more of a power game than what I've seen from him on camp film, getting his hands inside the blocker and bull-rushing to great effect. He still has that impressive speed around the edge and got pressure on a couple of speed-rushes, but for the most part he went right at his blocker—likely due to his contain responsibilities against the run.
Charlton has also really begun to fill out; Michigan lists him at 6'6", 249 pounds after he enrolled early, and he's got the frame to easily get up to the 270-pound range without losing his impressive quickness. I think he could factor into the weakside DE rotation as soon as this fall, and down the road he could be the edge-rushing threat that Michigan has lacked at DE for some time.
Honorable Mention: Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill. I've covered Lewis; Hill wasn't a guy I really focused on while watching Cass Tech since he was a long-time Iowa commit and there were so many D-I prospects on the field, but it wasn't hard to notice him anyway—he always seemed to find his way to the football and was a solid tackler once he got there.
SLEEPER: Channing Stribling
When cornerback Channing Stribling earned an offer—and subsequently committed—at Michigan's camp over some more highly-touted prospects (including eventual teammate Reon Dawson), he was a complete unknown despite coming from a football powerhouse at Matthews (NC) Butler. He was immediately pegged as an underrated sleeper, and after a senior season spent making big play after big play, it seemed like he was on the verge of making a huge leap in the recruiting rankings.
That never quite happened—Stribling ended up as a three-star across the board, so the sleeper label still fits. At 6'2", 170 pounds, he's very tall for a cornerback, and his playmaking skills were on display all year—in one game last fall, he had two receiving touchdowns, a defensive touchdown, and a kickoff return for a touchdown. If Stribling can fill out his frame and refine his coverage skills, he could be a very good corner; he's also extremely raw, and maintaining the quickness to cover college receivers at that height is no easy task.
Honorable Mention: Delano Hill
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on David Dawson and Gareon Conley, new candidates to round out the 2013 class, the latest wave of 2014 offers, and more.
Guess Who's Back
Talk to me man
Yes, Brian stole my thunder on Friday, but here it is again: David Dawson was re-offered last week after having a "heart to heart"($) with Brady Hoke and will take an official visit to Ann Arbor on December 14th. This is, unequivocally, a good thing; Michigan needs one more offensive lineman in the class and Dawson is easily the best among the available options.
It's also a strike against critics of Hoke's nebulous "Policy"—one that's never been explicitly stated, mind you—as it's clear he deals with these matters on a case-by-case basis, as he should. A commitment taking visits doesn't necessarily mean he's gone from the class forever; it does mean he hold a spot while looking around. This ensures, as much as one can ensure with these things, that members of the class show the same level of commitment given to them by the school.
On that note: Gareon Conley will also take an official visit to Michigan on December 14th, according to ESPN's Brad Bournival ($). He'll also visit Ohio State this Thursday, and all indications are this is a two-horse race between the Wolverines and Buckeyes—Conley wanted an Oregon offer before he took a visit to Eugene and one has yet to materialize.
It seems very possible that both Dawson and Conley could end up back in the class when all is said and done. Dawson seems to regret parting ways with Michigan—there were rumors he tried to talk his way back into the fold shortly after the coaches dropped him—and I'd be surprised if Hoke would re-offer without a pretty good idea of where Dawson is headed. Conley looks to be more of a toss-up, but Michigan has his father in their corner.
[Hit THE JUMP for new 2013 and 2014 offers, the updated 2013 Rivals100, and BAYLE WOLF.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Michigan top remaining 2013 targets, the 2014 Rivals250 Watch List, and more, including finally finding a good reason to post an Archer video.
McQuay: Leaning To Michigan?
Sam Webb caught up with FL S Leon McQuay III and his father in the wake of his official visit to Michigan, and the returns are quite good ($):
"I think that was the most impressive on my end,” McQuay III's father added. “His mom has been on two trips with us, and them having his schedule already pretty much planned out was real big with her. No other schools have done that. That’s something that I noticed too.”
The overall experience proved so positive that the younger McQuay was sorry to see it come to an end.
“I definitely could have stayed a little longer,” he admitted.
Neither father nor son are naming leaders at this point, but a couple factors are working in Michigan's favor. Not only did McQuay get a first-hand look at his preferred major by spending his visit with Jack Kennedy and Joe Reynolds, but he may not be able to make it out to USC before he makes his decision on January 4th—his trip to Los Angeles is set for December 7th, but there's a good chance he'll have to cancel if his team makes the state semifinals, and they've been state finalists each of the last three years.
McQuay still has a trip set to Florida State for later this month and he's been to Vanderbilt several times; at this point, those two schools may in fact be Michigan's biggest competition.
This wouldn't be a recruiting roundup without another bit on IL WR Laquon Treadwell, so here's Mike Farrell from his latest Mind of Mike column ($):
Treadwell is also interesting because he changes schools of interest like he changes underwear. The latest info has Notre Dame and Florida rising and Michigan falling. I still think the Wolverines are a serious player here and part of me thinks Treadwell is playing everyone, but we shall see.
Farrell also says he gets the feeling VA RB Derrick Green wants to play his college ball in the South; the problem is that his current southern favorites, Auburn and Tennessee, likely won't have the same coaching staffs next year. Word came down earlier this week that UT's Derek Dooley is on his way out, and now CBSSports is reporting that Auburn's president is preparing to fire Gene Chizik.
The tumult in the SEC may have a direct effect on more than just Green; MD WR Paul Harris had Michigan among his finalists before choosing Tennessee, but he's keeping a close eye on the Dooley situation, according to Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
"If he definitely gets fired then I'm going to think about de-committing," he said. "I have such a good relationship with Coach (Derek Dooley) and that's one of the big reasons I committed there. If he (Derek Dooley) gets fired and Coach (Darin) Hinshaw gets fired then I'm definitely going to think about other schools.
"It would have to be one of my top schools," said Harris. "I've heard from Michigan, Maryland, USC, Miami, Penn State and Ohio State. They've still been talking to me asking if Coach (Derek) Dooley gets fired is there a chance I'd commit to them. I talked to Coach (Tee) Martin from USC a few weeks ago."
Harris plans to enroll early, so the decision would have to be made in the next month; the four-star prospect could be a nice fallback plan should the Wolverines miss out on Treadwell.
[Hit THE JUMP for the 2014 Rivals250 Watch List and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Michigan commits as they progress through high school playoff season, USC's latest decommitment and its possible impact on Leon McQuay III, an emerging name along the offensive line, and more.
Jake Butt: TE/DE/OC?
Michigan commits and cross-town rivals faced off for the second time this season as Jake Butt's Pickerington North squad took on Taco Charlton and Pickerington Central in the first round of Ohio's Division I playoffs on Saturday; the result was similar to their first meeting of the year, as North once again shut out Central, this time 24-0, to advance to the next round. Butt was the star for North, even calling his own number to tally a 29-yard score:
“It’s called a hitch-and-go, and he threw me the perfect pass,” said Butt, who had five catches for 122 yards. “I’d been seeing that the play was open throughout the entire game.”
“Jake Butt called that play,” North coach Tom Phillips said. “He saw it and I said, ‘Just be patient.’”
The future Wolverine tight end also tallied a tackle for loss on defense as North held Central to a paltry 93 yards of total offense.
Elsewhere in Ohio's opening playoff round, cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, with 212 of those yards coming in the second half, as Avon pulled out a 28-11 victory over Perrysburg. Ben Gedeon carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards and two scores to lead Hudson to an upset over three-seed Canton GlenOak. Gareon Conley—yes, still a commit at this moment—had TD catches of 28 yards and one yard and also scored on a reverse as Massillon defeated Nordonia 63-34.
In Division II action, both Mike McCray (36-yard TD, video here) and Jaron Dukes (5 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) recorded touchdown receptions as both Trotwood-Madison and Marion-Franklin moved on to the second round with blowout victories. Junior commit Michael Ferns caught touchdowns of 14 and 35 yards for St. Clairsville, which defeated Harrison Central 41-6 in the first round of the Division IV playoffs.
Seasons ended for a pair of Ohio commits, unfortunately, as a banged-up Dymonte Thomas was limited to 79 rushing yards in a 38-0 loss to Poland, while DeVeon Smith's 147 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries weren't enough to overcome Chardon in a 42-16 first-round defeat.
Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis hauled in a 43-yard touchdown catch in a 42-23 district final win over Dearborn more noteworthy for the work of two running backs—junior Gary Hosey had 143 yards and two scores on 15 carries, while sophomore Mike Weber toted the rock 20 times for 178 yards and a TD. In another Division I district final, Wyatt Shallman had nine tackles, three TFLs, three sacks, and several QB hurries from his defensive end spot in a 45-17 win over Walled Lake Northern, according to his father.
Tim Sullivan caught Malik McDowell in action as Detroit Loyola defeated University Liggett, 50-7, last weekend, and he has free video and a scouting report available over at The Wolverine. McDowell tallied four sacks, all in the first half.
[For the rest of the roundup, including the latest on Leon McQuay III, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Gareon Conley, last weekend's high school action, hopefully the last word on David Dawson, and more.
Conley Plans Visits, Emphasis On "Plans"
2013 cornerback commit Gareon Conley recently received an offer from Ohio State and is receiving serious interest from Oregon. After his game on Friday—in which he hauled in yet another long touchdown pass—he told multiple outlets that he plans to take visits, which would obviously negate his commitment to Michigan. From Josh Helmholdt, with emphasis added ($):
"I'm taking visits somewhere else because Michigan was the first ever college I visited so I want to see what's out there," Conley said.
Asked how he would respond if the choice came down to taking visits or remaining committed to Michigan, Conley said he had not decided on that or spoken with Michigan coaches about it recently.
"I haven't talked to them in awhile, but I've got to talk to them about it," Conley said.
We know the coaching staff's position on this issue: if Conley takes visits, he's gone. He hasn't spoken to them yet about potential visits to Oregon and Ohio State, so it's possible that this ends up the same way as his planned trip to Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, which he cancelled after talking with Brady Hoke; it's also worth noting that he hasn't scheduled any visits yet. The fact that potential visits have now come up multiple times in the past few weeks, however, suggests that his commitment is tenuous, and with months to go before signing day it feels like a 50/50 shot at best that he sticks.
The obvious backup plan—and he shouldn't really be called this, especially since Michigan has recruited him all along—is five-star FL DB Leon McQuay III, who will be on campus for the Northwestern game. Tremendous adds a couple less-heralded, as-yet-unoffered options in Cincinnati commit Aregeros Turner—who camped at Michigan over the summer—and Cincinnati De La Salle prospect Jaleel Hytchye (gesundheit).
The Team, The Team, The *BASS HIT*
Logan Tuley-Tillman's senior highlights are now available on YouTube. They begin with a photo montage backed by Bo Schembechler's "The Team" speech, which is obviously fantastic. Then a song by something called a "Driicky Graham" fades in—as Bo's speech continues—and I'll be busy collecting brain matter off my floor for the next few hours now.
Oh, there's also lots of Tuley-Tillman burying people, and even some defensive highlights where he displays impressive athleticism for a guy his size, which is nice.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of last weekend's high school games, the latest on David Dawson, and more.]