LIST OF WWE PERSONNEL?!?
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 new offers in both the '13 and '14 classes, the updated Rivals rankings, and more.
Found: Goal Line Back, Destroyer Of Worlds
If you like to watch enormous people destroy things, you'll very much enjoy Maurice Hurst Jr.'s senior highlight tape:
About the only thing that's missing is him beating a block in a fashion other than bull rush. When your bull rush works like this, though, there's not much reason to switch things up at the high school level:
When you're done marveling at MASS DESTRUCTION, check out the "block" by the fullback
Also, if Hurst is never used as a goal-line back at Michigan, I'll be a very sad panda.
247 released senior highlights of Jake Butt this week, as well—he did impressive work on offense this season, lining up both as a traditional tight end and split out wide.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of Michigan's latest offers, the updated 2013 Rivals rankings, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup surveys the landscape as several coaches are fired and the rest prepare for in-home visits, recaps Michigan commits in their state playoffs, and more.
One Final Note From The Game
Massillon Washington DB/WR Gareon Conley was in Columbus for #THEGAME today, we are being told
— 11W Recruiting (@11WRecruiting) November 25, 2012
There's no official word on Conley's status, but don't expect him to be considered a commit for much longer. The question of whether or not he could find himself back in the class eventually is more difficult to answer; his situation isn't the same as David Dawson's or Pharaoh Brown's—Conley was up-front with the coaches about his desire to take visits. We'll have to wait and see if the coaches decide to treat his case differently.
And Now Let's Never Talk About The Game Again
In-home visits with recruits begin this week, and some very interesting names have emerged as players who will host Michigan coaches, including one we haven't seen in a while:
How bout this for blast from the past? Hearing #Michigan will drop in on Joliet (IL) RB Ty Isaac this week
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) November 26, 2012
Yes, that Ty Isaac, one-time top running back target and current USC commit. While there's no indication that he's wavering on his commitment, Lane Kiffin's job security has come under fire—especially in the wake of a derp-tacular finish to the Notre Dame game—and it's worth noting that recruits must approve of a visit before a coach can drop by; Isaac is at least willing to listen to Michigan's latest pitch.
Does that mean anything in regards to VA RB Derrick Green? I doubt it. Green's other presumed top choices, Auburn and Tennessee, have now both fired their head coaches—in Auburn's case, they just cleaned out the entire staff. That leaves Oregon, Miami, and Ole Miss as Michigan's top competition. Oregon doesn't fit Green's stated desire to play in a pro-style offense and Miami has the Nevin Shapiro cloud looming over their program. It's possible Green chooses Ole Miss out of a desire to play in the South, but that's a major step down in program quality compared to Michigan.
[For more planned in-home visits, a wrapup of last weekend's playoff action, and more, hit THE JUMP.]
Todays' recruiting roundup covers Laquon Treadwell's top five, new highlight tapes for Denzel Ward and Taco Charlton, new 2013 and 2014 offers, and more.
Reschke Offered, Treadwell's Top Five
Michigan's coaching staff raised some eyebrows over the weekend after finally offering 2013 Birmingham Brother Rice linebacker and MSU commit Jon Reschke, a Spartan legacy who hasn't shown much interest in the Wolverines. Since Michigan had previously turned away linebacker recruits like Alex Anzalone and E.J. Levenberry, saying they were full at the position, the offer caused concern that a current commit was looking around. That doesn't appear to be the case, according to Tremendous, with rumors that Mike McCray was considering Ohio State debunked.
So, why the offer? For one, Brother Rice is a very strong in-state program, and Reschke was reportedly none too pleased with the lack of an offer (or serious interest) from Michigan. More importantly, however, Reschke is a heck of a player—I thought he was deserving of an offer last year, and he's stepped up his game even more this season—and with the fluid nature of recruiting, it's entirely possible that the scholarship situation at linebacker has changed. While I'd be surprised if Reschke flipped from MSU, he's close friends with Shane Morris, and he'd be a worthy addition to the class.
Matters aren't looking up on the Laquon Treadwell front, unfortunately, as he named an ordered top five to Scout's Beth Long after Crete-Monee's state semifinal victory last weekend ($). That top five, in order: Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Michigan State. Treadwell hasn't even visited the two Oklahoma schools yet, though officials are planned to both, but he has been to Oxford; barring a late turnaround—and in recruiting, that's not exactly unusual—this won't end well.
As for a backup plan, scratch MD WR Paul Harris off the list, as he reaffirmed his commitment to Tennessee despite the news of Derek Dooley's ouster, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($). While Harris leaves some room to look around, it doesn't sound like he'll consider Michigan. Michigan did host a committed 2013 prospect last weekend in Trotwood-Madison CB Reon Dawson, an Illinois commit, according to 247's Clint Brewster. The three-star could be another option if/when Gareon Conley starts taking visits.
Michigan also handed out a 2014 offer last weekend, to FL WR Artavis Scott, high school teammate of offered OL Mason Cole, per multiple outlets. Scott is a four-star on all three sites that have released early rankings and is also on the ESPN150 Watch List, so he's universally regarded as a top prospect. The Wolverines have established themselves as one of Cole's early leaders, which should help them with Scott; both visited for the Michigan State game.
[For the rest of the recruiting roundup, including Denzel Ward's junior highlights, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers recruit reactions from the Northwestern game, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Derrick Green, last weekend's high school football results, and more.
Permission To Unbuckle (For Now, At Least)
Michigan picked a good weekend for a dramatic victory, as several recruits were on hand to see the comeback against Northwestern. That included 2013 FL S Leon McQuay III, who was on his official visit; while McQuay's father told 247's Josh Newberg it was "a good trip," Michigan's top defensive target is staying mum on potential leaders ($):
While Michigan remains in the thick of it for McQuay III, he's not tipping his hand to his parents.
"We haven't spoke," McQuay II said. "He hasn't spoke about the visit to me or his mom...You know how it is"
The elder McQuay did say his son got a long look at the music school and was up until 2 am with the "two guys that play music on the team"—presumably Jack Kennedy and Joe Reynolds, aka JDK & Rey. Michigan appears to be right in the mix for McQuay, with USC and Florida State likely posing their biggest threat.
Tremendous reveals that the commitment watch this weekend was for 2014 UT DT Bryan Mone, who discussed the possibility of pledging on his visit but ultimately did not make the call. He did, however, tell Sam Webb that Michigan "feels like home" and is his current leader over Colorado and Utah ($). Mone had previously named both the Buffaloes and Utes as his favorite, so take this news with a grain of salt, but the Wolverines are in very good shape with the first prospect they offered in the class.
There's also a visit reaction at Tremendous from 2014 IL CB Parrker Westphal, who continues to refer to Michigan as "the standard" in his recruitment. Scout, meanwhile, had the Wesphal family in the WTKA studio for an interview, and his older brother Brandon—a junior linebacker at Illinois State—talked about helping Parrker get ahead of the curve (free article):
“It was probably eighth grade midgets and just seeing him running around on the field, his intensity and enthusiasm with everything,” said Brandon. “When I got to college I was teaching him stuff that I was learning so when he was in the eighth grade freshman year he was already like three years ahead of everybody else.”
“Ever since eighth grade it has just been a blast being able to watch him play and just do some things that I wouldn’t have thought he’d be able to do at that age, or any kid.”
Other recruits to keep an eye on from the weekend are four-star OH ATH Dareian Watkins, who said he was "sold on the program" during the Northwestern game, and MI TE Kyle Rachwal, who feels like he's "part of the family" and will be making his fifth(!) visit for a Michigan game next weekend. Neither prospect has an offer yet; if one comes for either, it appears likely they'll be in the class.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the recruiting roundup.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Gareon Conley, highlight videos of Derrick Green and Channing Stribling, a couple 2014 visits, and more.
Gone-ley? /Slaps Knee
It's been a week since Gareon Conley stated after a game that he intended to take visits, and as of this moment, at least, he's still a Michigan commit. 247's Bill Kurelic reports that may not last long at all, however, as Conley's step-mother says he'll "definitely [take] his visits," with plans to check out Ohio State and Oregon ($):
Angel [Conley] said her son is planning to make official visits to Ohio State and Oregon.
“Ohio State will be an official visit in the next month or so,” she said. “Ohio State and Oregon will be official visits.”
Nothing has been set up yet, at least, and Sam Webb noted on Scout's board($) that Conley has spoken with the coaches and knows his spot in the class is at stake—Webb also said Conley is still pondering visits, of course. In my opinion, it's tough at this point to see a scenario in which he doesn't take a look around.
If there's good news for Michigan, it's that they have one of Conley's closest confidants in their corner: his father, per Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Everything just seemed real good up there. I love Michigan and I’m pushing him to go to Michigan. But at the end of the day it’s still his decision. I’m rooting for Michigan.”
“As far as Oregon and Ohio State, those are all good schools too. I can’t put any of them down, but I root for Michigan. At the end of the day, like I said, this is all up to him. If he wants to go see them, I’m behind him, whatever school he goes to.”
Clearly, Mr. Conley is going to let Gareon make his own choice, but it can't hurt to have him pulling for the Wolverines. The longer this process is drawn out, the better it probably is for Michigan—few expected him to make it this far in the first place after last Friday's news.
[Hit THE JUMP for highlights of Channing Stribling and Derrick Green, news on a few 2014 recruits, and more.]