via reader Brian Hale
Take his and graduate 'em, take yours and graduate 'em. It's not noble to take guys with two good parents and a Catholic-school education and not screw them up. That's one of the things that's always bothered me about Notre Dame's smugness. They've positioned themselves as the nationwide destination for kids who end up at places like Oaks Christian, and when these kids fail to screw up they take pride in it. Michigan, meanwhile, has been more willing to take on potentially troubled kids. Not as willing as some other schools, but willing.
This is always spun as a negative when you get a Feagin situation. When you take kids out of Pahokee or Detroit or Delray Beach who did not go to a good high school and didn't have a stable home life and are just looking for a way out, some of them are not going to overcome their backgrounds. It's tough to do that. It's no accomplishment to graduate Craig Roh. That kid grew up like an enormous, athletic, magnificently-eyebrowed version of me; he's going to graduate no matter where he is. It's a risk to stick out your neck for a talented kid who went to a school with textbooks from 1978 where dropouts are more common than graduates.
The reason I bring it up is an epic article on Pahokee, the home of three current Wolverines, in the Daily. I've been reading the Daily for twelve years now and it's without question the best article to appear in it in that time frame. It wouldn't seem out of place if you threw it up on ESPN.com in one of those fancy presentations they give Wright Thompson. It highlights the environment these guys come from:
He pops in one of the myriad discs. It’s a guerrilla-style video called “Palm Beach County: Gangstas and Thugs.” Local gun-toting gang members flash across the screen, beating each other senseless and shooting AK-47s into the air.
“That’s my cousin; he’s in jail,” he says pointing, to the screen. “Oh, and that kid’s dead. He was 17.”
Trouble in such places is easier to get into than avoid, and honestly working with these kids so that they get out of college and go somewhere else is a calling beyond giving kids who went to Catholic school calculus exams. Michigan has to live up to that charge, of course. In four to six years we'll have Rodriguez's graduation numbers, and in five more we'll have some sense of how the institution has served them. I'll be watching it carefully. I hope—and think—Michigan will do right by them. They are owed that.
No, you can't do that. Apparently ABC never showed the Armando Allen taunting penalty, but the News got a shot of it:
a. Specifically prohibited acts and conduct include:
1. No player, substitute, coach or other person subject to the rules shall use abusive, threatening or obscene language or gestures, or engage in such acts that provoke ill will or are demeaning to an opponent, to game officials or to the image of the game, including but not limited to:
(b) Taunting, baiting or ridiculing an opponent verbally.
(c) Inciting an opponent or spectators in any other way, such as simulating the firing of a weapon or placing a hand by the ear to request recognition.
Ssssh-ing the student section is an obvious flag that will get called 1000 of 1000 times. It doesn't matter if he said anything or not. Weis being an ass in the postgame (no, seriously, watch his bitchy press conference… what a horror it would be to have such a thoroughly unlikeable person* in charge of your football team):
"Armando was really distraught at the end of the game, because he felt that he got called for a 15-yard penalty for going 'shhhh' when he got to the end zone," Weis said. "Now I guess, technically, that's taunting, but he felt really bad about that and I told him we're all part of this loss and don't put it all on your shoulders."
Indeed, it is "technically" taunting in the way Michigan's pass to Mathews was "technically" a touchdown. Meanwhile on that same play, Clausen was doing a fey little dance that could have drawn another flag. Why must Weis recruit these thugs? Why can't he have nice boys like Greg Mathews, who politely handed the ball to the referee after his gamewinning touchdown?
A note on one of the other ND refereeing complaints: Theo Riddick did touch that kickoff, as was extensively discussed on Sportscenter, so running two seconds off the clock was appropriate. And when Tate caught the ball on the last play of the game and got tackled with one second left, the key distinction to note is that the official timekeeper doesn't stop when he thinks the play is over—not his job—but when the referee signals him to. You can clearly see that the referee signals to stop the clock well after :00 is hit. (Yes, maybe that's a conspiracy too.)
*(dollars to donuts that caused any West Virginia, Michigan State, or Ohio State fan reading it to have a head asplode moment, but… seriously. Watch the video. There is no comparison between that and corny jokes and twang.)
Tempting fate. If Michigan loses the next two weeks you can stick my head in a blender for what I'm about to do.
Let's talk about Michigan State, Michigan's first road game of the season and next opponent against whom the spread will be in the single digits. State lost to Central Michigan in quintessential "Sparty, No!" fashion, but don't let the flukes at the end of the game overshadow the overall theme of the day. A worried The Only Colors explains:
While hanging our heads obviously doesn't do any good, I really have a hard time seeing Saturday's outcome as a fluke. Sure, the events of the final 30 seconds all broke in the Chippewas' favor. But we'd been outplayed by a significant margin for the 59 minutes and 30 seconds that preceded those 30 seconds--outgained by 74 yards and outconverted by 8 first downs. And when it mattered most, we couldn't stop them. Central gained a total of 147 yards to reach the endzone on both of its final two non-onside-kick-commenced drives. We were lucky to be in position to win the game with 30 seconds to go.
Maybe CMU's a top-40 team and this loss isn't quite as bad as it looks right now. But they certainly didn't look like a top-40 team against Arizona a week ago. And you have to beat top 40 teams at home to get to a New Years Day bowl.
That is a strong indication that internet skepticism over a team that was outgained in conference play last year was better founded than the assembled Big Ten Media's assertion that Michigan State was the third-best team in the conference. Not that we needed anyone to tell us that the internet tends to do better research than newspapers. State should get better as Kirk Cousins solidifies his hold on the starting quarterback spot, but after some initial optimism in the comments that post bogs down into pessimism about a ton of things, most prominently the pass rush.
Compounding things for State in their matchup against Michigan: Central Michigan is headed by the Rich Rodriguez coaching tree, also known as Butch Jones, and quarterbacked by Dan LeFevour, a mobile, accurate quarterback that's a more veteran but less hyped version of Tate Forcier. LeFevour was 33 of 46 for 328 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. The State game now looks very winnable.
The move? Freshman Cameron Gordon's seemingly inevitable move to linebacker may be a fait accompli according to MGoPoster Jaggs:
Was at the ND game this weekend and my dad ran into a guy purporting to be Cam Gordon's dad (I have no reason to doubt it was him). The guy told my dad he was a father of a player on the team etc, and my dad asked him who he said his name which my dad forgot but remembered the guy said #84 a linebacker. A quick search of the program and mgoblue.com shows Gordon as the only #84 so sounds like Gordon.
Quick check shows 86 points, which isn't much, but also that this guy's been registered for eight months. Credibility rating: at least moderate. We're still looking for confirmation and will provide it if/when it comes.
Yeesh. I think this was just an mgolicious link. The numbers say, I don't know, something:
3. Inbound links checked daily. The day before I visited, logs for the Chronicle’s WordPress site reported that it had drawn 277 visitors from a local sports blog, 28 from a local school blog and 23 from annarbor.com, the reincarnated Ann Arbor News.
Probably what it says is that AA.com's traffic is far more dispersed, where this site is basically a single framework with varying content presented.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, and OL Quinton Washington.
|Inkster, Michigan - 6'2" 211
|Scout||3*, #82 WR|
|Rivals||4*, #36 WR, #233 overall|
|ESPN||78, #63 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Iowa|
|YMRMFSPA||Jason Avant, or maybe Prescott Burgess|
|Hello: Cameron Gordon|
|Notes||Teammate of 2010 QB commit Devin Gardner|
Of all the recruits in Michigan's 2009 class, Cameron Gordon is the one with the most uncertain position. You'll note he's been filed under the skill recruits here and that both Rivals and Scout have him listed at wide receiver. However, Gordon's rangy linebacker frame brings the conversation back to his potential on defense time and again.
Here's an example:
Moving down to Nos. 8 and 9, Inkster's Cameron Gordon flip-flopped positions with Grosse Pointe South tight end Reid Fragel thanks to his impressive defense for the Vikings. At 6-2 and 215 pounds, he has impacted a number of games with bone-jarring hits while playing linebacker or strong safety.
ESPN says coaches on both sides of the ball will "fight for him" but spends most of its scouting report focusing on his defensive talents:
Could potentially tip the scales at the 215-range making defense a strong possibility. You would never now he was a flashy wide receiver when watching him pursue the football as a hybrid safety/outside linebacker. He chases plays down with good range, burst and intensity. A strong tackler who displays good upper-body strength dragging down ball carriers from behind. Covers a ton of ground quickly with little wasted motion. Has a long stride and can make plays sideline-to-sideline.
They do mention the one consistent complaint about Gordon's skillset, saying top-end speed is a "question mark" and he lacks "great initial burst with the ball." He's the opposite of Jeremy Gallon.
"Cameron has great tools," said Trieu. "On offense, his size and strength create matchup problems, plus he has good hands. On defense, he finds the ball well and is a big hitter. His only drawback would be that he isn't a true burner as far as the receiver position goes. That would limit his potential on offense. I think he could play either position well in college, but it will likely come down to what a particular school needs. If I had the luxury of choosing, I'd want him at linebacker."
Cameron Gordon, Inkster- had a quiet day but was still efficient because he opened the field up for other receivers by drawing double coverage every play. He's so big and fast but I was most impressed by how hard he runs every possible route.
More from NGS:
Cameron Gordon, Inkster- Gordon is just too physically gifted for the high school level and he's just as good of a OLB/safety as he is a receiver. He gave Gardner a huge block 40 yards down field on the long TD run, he made a heck of a play on his INT, and his 42-yard catch displayed great hand-eye coordination.
Gordon's stats were nice on offense (49 catches for 863 yards, almost 18 per) but eyepopping on D: 126 tackles, five sacks, and five interceptions. Judge for yourself in this highlight reel featuring plays from both sides of the ball:
(Yes, that's Devin Gardner doing the throwing.)
This correspondent's opinion: the rumor was that Michigan's offer came late because Gordon was insistent he was a wide receiver, and once he started opening up like so…
"I feel I am a football player, so it really wouldn't stop me from going to a school if I had to play defense,” Gordon said. “This is my first year playing safety and I really like that position, too. I still am a receiver, but it's not something that will hold me back from going to a college.”
…Michigan promptly sent him a letter. Or once Michigan sent him a letter, he started opening up. Though neither linebacker or wide receiver is particularly deep right now, a quick glance at the recruiting board shows five WR and zero LB commits. Most analysts think his potential is higher on defense, where a lack of hot burning speed won't hold him back as much.
When Gordon committed I thought he had a 75% chance of remaining on offense, but the WR recruit flood has changed my mind. I think Gordon's headed for linebacker in six months or a year. In a futile attempt to forestall RCMB posters from posting things like "Rodriguez LIED, Cam Gordon DIED lol I'd hit it" let's point out that Michigan was explicit that they were bringing him in as an athlete (link ibid):
“(Michigan) offered me,” Gordon said. “They mostly said how they want to sign me and that I’ll be able to play both sides, just depending on what side is best for me to play for their team."
Right now that side appears to be defense; Michigan has a couple of possession receivers in the works and should be fine until the wide receiver cavalry shows up next year.
Why Avant or Burgess? Bulky 6'2" wide receiver who will push 215 and lacks deep speed == Avant. Rangy linebacker who needs to put on 20 pounds, switch positions (sort of) and probably struggle with the mental part of being a college linebacker for a while == Burgess.
Guru Reliability: Low. One major outlier amongst three votes and it appears that the sites have rated him at a position he's probably not going to play in college.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Two of three services say "eh," and the position uncertainty strikes me as a guaranteed waste of a year at WR.
Projection: Moves to linebacker halfway through his freshman season and hopefully hasn't burned his redshirt by then. Then he'll have one more year to wait behind Mouton before challenging for that OLB spot. Tough to say whether he'll be better than Jones or Hawthorne or Demens by then.
Update 9/1: Linked to articles on MI WR Dion Sims, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, CA QB Tate Forcier (second), FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, SC DE Chris Bonds, FL CB Mywan Jackson, SC DE Sam Montgomery, AZ DE Craig Roh, CA OL Michael Philipp, TN CB Marsalis Teague, MI WR Cameron Gordon, video of OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, picture I am going to use whenever MI DT Will Campbell is mentioned. Moved FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith to committed. Moved CA QB Tate Forcier to committed. Some links from Varsity Blue.
Do we really have an offer out to this guy?
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. I’ll cover the commitments in separate googlestalking posts over the next few days. As far as the guys who are uncommitted or already in the fold…
This is the most important thing you’ll see in this post:
That’s wholly shirtless DT commit Will Campbell dressed up like Thor. I wish I could say this was some sort of surprise, but prep photographers get super bored from time to time and take the opportunity to make athletic guys who get all the girls dress up like goofs.
Meanwhile, my optimism re: MA OL Brennan Williams was ill-founded as he’s dropped M and plans to stay on the east coast—Varsity Blue wins this round. That’s a damaging blow for Michigan’s hopes for another high profile offensive lineman in the class; at the moment there is no one on the board that seems particularly likely to end up at Michigan. Michigan’s not graduating any OL this year and just took six, so the need is not critical; another decent prospect would be nice.
Elsewhere, there’s been some movement on the defensive ends we all crave. CA DE Craig Roh made an official visit for the Utah game and now Scout has an article indicating in the header that his decision will be coming shortly($). He likes Barwis, as all defensive ends should:
"He's out-of-this-world good," Roh said of Michigan's new conditioning guru. "He was the most impressive strength and conditioning coach I've seen. He's very outside the box. They don't just do ordinary lifting, and that really impressed me."
Roh explained the strength gains of one of Michigan's defensive ends.
"He weighed like 280 and benched like 300," Roh said. "(Barwis) stripped him down to 240 and built him up back to 270. Then he could bench 400 or something like that. That was just in five months! If you make those kinds of gains you are obviously doing something right."
Roh’s taken a second visit and is now accelerating his timetable, which either indicates 1) Michigan is it or 2) Michigan was the only school that might hypothetically snatch him from USC’s clutches and they didn’t quite get it done. They’re definitely in his top two. The premium sites have differing levels of optimism here; we’ll see.
Meanwhile, NJ DE Anthony LaLota was impressed by his visit and has decided to push out his commitment timeline until he takes in some official visits. Previously, he was planning to commit immediately after his unofficial to Michigan. Thoughts on his trip:
"It's a great place," he said of Ann Arbor. "The Big House is great and the atmosphere there is a lot of fun. I also love their tradition and history of winning.
"They are known for winning and I think they'll be great under coach Rich Rodriguez," LaLota said. "He's been a very successful coach and did great at West Virginia and I think he'll continue at Michigan. I don't think they'll have a bad season."
LaLota also plays on the offensive line, but says the Wolverines and others are recruiting him for defensive end. "They said that I need to come prepared because there's a good chance I could play early there," he said. "I really like how they always seem to prepare their players well for the next level."
Elsewhere in that article he has nice things to say about Rutgers and Notre Dame; Boston College, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State are noted as the best campuses he’s been to; previous Virginia was thought to be in strong position for him. Add it up and LaLota’s future destination remains extremely murky.
SC DE Sam Montgomery is close to narrowing down his favorites and Michigan didn’t get a mention in the Kornblut article detailing his process. But hey, he likes Yankee talkin’:
I like to keep you guys guessing," he said. He did say that he is getting a better idea of where he plans to take his official visits and that South Carolinians may be pleased with his choices. This summer, Montgomery visited UNC and NC State. He liked both schools. "North Carolina is a great school. They really impressed me. They have a great atmosphere and I fell in love with John Blake." He also spoke highly of NC State. "I liked their coaches and their accents. They talk like people from up north. They acted like really want to win." Sam says he still wants to visit LSU and Miami but has not decided if these will be official or unofficial visits.
Paging Scott Shafer’s Midwestern brogue on line one. Montgomery’s previously claimed Michigan was an official visit on the docket. Optimism here is low; he appears ticketed for somewhere closer to home even with the weird affection for northern non-accents.
Fellow SC DE Chris Bonds has Michigan in his top six along with USC, the other USC, ND, Alabama, and Tennessee and looks upon Michigan junior Adam Patterson as something of a role model:
Bonds remembers watching Patterson choose Michigan over South Carolina in January 2006.
“Adam, he was a cool dude,” Bonds said. “I was a young guy. He was an old guy. Good role model. Adam would always tell me, ‘Just don’t let it get to you. No matter where you go, if it’s here or its Alaska or Hawaii, just don’t let it get to you.’ “
That list looks set up for a full slate of official visits plus some unofficial ones to the local school; Bonds has yet to tip his hand about where he’s leaning. He’s also got former teammates at Notre Dame and South Carolina.
Meanwhile, FL CB Mywan Jackson seemed on the verge of a commitment before a visit to Auburn with teammates gave him pause. He now plans a full slate of official visits; Michigan appears to be the team to beat:
Jackson took unofficial visits to all of his finalists except Illinois and South Carolina this summer. His trip to Michigan is the one that stood out. Jackson described the school as being "a wonderful place."
A versatile talent, Jackson (6-foot, 178 pounds) said Auburn and Michigan have told him they would give him a shot to play quarterback. His other finalists have him projected to play cornerback. Either scenario is fine with Jackson.
"I'd give (QB) up," he said. "I just want to get on the field."
UNC and Louisville are the other two finalists along with M, Auburn, Illinois, and the Other USC.
Video! Plenty of highlights from the first week of high school action. Liberty crushed Niles behind impressive performances from Fitzgerald Toussaint and Isaiah Bell:
FL WR Jeremy Gallon went flapjack nuts against a Seabreeze team that was 12-1 last year and features Michigan safety prospect Jonathan Scott, though Scott didn’t play, running for 304 yards and four touchdowns in Apopka’s blowout opening night win. (Video.)
There’s also this fluffy bit on GA LB Devekeyan “DeDe” Lattimore:
I think Michigan will fade for Lattimore, as they already have 3 or 4 linebacker commits in the class with the recent addition of Brandin Hawthorne and the potential moves of either or both of their safety commits.
Etc.: Michigan and MI LB/WR Cameron Gordon appear to have little mutual interest. MI TE Dion Sims is still leaning towards college basketball; he just tore his ACL and is done for the year.