the season has truly begun now
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at full junior film for four 2013 commits, addresses an interesting theory on offensive line recruiting, and details a couple of recent offers.
Butt Taco D-Train MANBALL*
It's been a slow week for recruiting news, so luckily ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter unleashed full-length junior highlight videos for four Michigan commits. Here they are, with some brief analysis; first up is TE Jake Butt:
Once you get past the first half of the video, which is comprised of defensive highlights, you get to see some impressive play from Butt at tight end. He catches the ball away from his body, displays sure hands, and does a really nice job of turning back to the quarterback and giving him a target on just about every route. These are just highlights, but he also looks solid as a blocker. Butt doesn't have off-the-charts athleticism and he could be a little sharper on his route-running; he still looks like a player who could come in and have a quick impact if he can add the necessary size and strength before he hits campus.
DE Taco Charlton:
Charlton mostly played as a situational pass-rusher last fall, so his highlights aren't as lengthy as the others. That said, the outstanding athleticism that makes him such an intriguing prospect is on full display, as he's often able to just blow by opposing blockers without facing much resistance. There are issues with technique, especially when it comes to shedding blocks; those should improve with proper coaching, a summer on the camp circuit, and starter's experience in the fall. Given Michigan's depth at defensive end, Charlton likely won't have to play right away, but he looks like he could make a big impact down the road, at the very least in the same role he played last year.
S Dymonte Thomas:
Before you start calling for Thomas to play running back, check out the next tape (and also remember that Michigan is seriously in the mix for Ty Isaac). We don't get to see Thomas playing much safety in the above clip—he spends a lot of his time in the box—but we do get to see his sideline-to-sideline speed, quick diagnosis against the run, and ability to come up and lay a lick. I don't see a whole lot not to like here, though I'll be interested to see if he plays more deep half as a senior and we get some more film of him in coverage; there's not a lot to go on above.
RB DeVeon Smith:
Hello, MANBALL. Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle. The one caveat to this video is that Smith didn't play the highest level of competition last year; he comes from the same league at Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, and that worked out just fine. We don't get to see him block much, and passes are limited to swings and screens, but there's little doubt that Smith should have an impact carrying the football.
Former All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley evaluated four of Michigan's five offensive line commits in a free article at 247Sports; he's apparently over his OUTRAGE from Brady Hoke leaving San Diego State (his alma mater) to coach at Michigan, because the reviews are quite positive. Unfortunately for us, they're also pretty much identical for each of the four players (Logan Tuley-Tillman, Chris Fox, Kyle Bosch, and Patrick Kugler). In short:
Strengths—Mean streak, size
Can Work On—Pad level, footwork
Part of this is because leverage and technique can always be improved upon, especially in making the transition to the college game. Also, Michigan has assembled an impressive collection of big linemen who finish blocks with authority. There is a little more insight in the full article, including the fact that Bosch appears to be the most college-ready of the four.
*That's gotta provide an SEO boost, right?
Pro-Sized Offensive Linemen: Good
I was pleased to see that SBNation recently unveiled Land-Grant Holy Land, a new Ohio State blog spearheaded by 11W and EDSBS contributor Luke Zimmerman. This recruiting-related article for the site by DJ Byrnes, however, should probably be addressed. I won't give "Brady Hoke's Blind Spot" the full FJM-style fisking, but here's the setup after a brief discussion of how good former OSU OL Alex Boone looked as a high school prospect [emphasis mine]:
Two years later, I watched Alex Boone get eviscerated by Urban Meyer's Florida Gators. Play after play, there was another rabid jackal clad in orange and blue, running down a previously elusive Troy Smith. There was no mercy and no quarter given. There was no pity. It was just unrelenting pressure, and Alex Boone succumbed to it.
The next year, Alex Boone got eaten alive by LSU's defensive line in a game where I'm surprised Todd Boeckman wasn't killed. Again, it was a straight up mauling for which Boone and his compatriots had little defense. The Buckeyes didn't get beat like a drum against LSU as they did against Florida, but it was another poor showing for the offensive line. (SEC coaches understand: a deep, versatile defensive line will give bigger, slower offensive lines nightmares over the course of a game.)
So, this is why I laugh at Michigan and their recruitment of Boone-like clones to stock their offensive line. It's also why I get super giddy when I compare those efforts against Urban's.
Yes, this is an argument against recruiting pro-sized offensive linemen, and the crux of the argument is based on the failings of Alex Boone. There are many flaws to this, but the most notable is that Alex Boone didn't fall short of expectations at Ohio State because he was 6'8", 310+ pounds. He fell short because, through most of his college career, he was a raging alcoholic, at one point admitting to drinking up to 40 beers a night during the weekend. That will slow down just about anybody.
Byrnes then notes the rather massive human beings Michigan is bringing in for both the 2012 and 2013 classes, as well as the extremely high level of talent the Buckeyes are assembling along the defensive line. I have no argument here—there should be some epic trench clashes in the future of this rivalry. I think Michigan has a good chance of coming out on top in those clashes, however, because this simply isn't true:
Brady Hoke will be good for Michigan. He may even beat Ohio State once or twice during his tenure, but he doesn't seem to realize that college football has shifted away from massive, clattering offensive lines. By the time he does, it might already be too late.
First, it's worth noting that massive =/= unathletic. Taylor Lewan is 6'8", but he's also got remarkably quick feet. Anyone who watched 6'9", 345-pound tackle Jonathan Ogden play as a pro remembers him for somehow resembling the world's most devastating ballerina. As for the college football world moving away from large offensive lines, here are your spring depth charts for the two teams to play for the 2011 national title:
1) If college football is moving away from behemoth offensive lines, we forgot to inform the SEC, which has somehow managed to make do.
2) *Looks at Alabama's depth chart, shudders*
So, in short, you probably shouldn't worry about Michigan reeling in large classes of man-sized linemen being a bad thing. This argument could probably have been accomplished with one word—Wisconsin—but it's a slow week.
Okay, one last thing. Urban Meyer was hired on November 28th, 2011. After that date, the Buckeyes added three offensive linemen to their 2012 class: Taylor Decker (6'8", 315), Joey O'Connor (6'4", 295), and Kyle Dodson (6'6", 315). Yep, Meyer isn't stupid, either.
[So, um, MnB's Zach Travis did this too, and his take is worth a read as well. I swear I wrote this yesterday. So it goes.]
New Offers, Ojemudia Enrolls Early, Etc.
Michigan isn't slowing down on the hunt for wide receivers, as Tim Sullivan reports that their latest 2013 offer was extended to three-star MD WR Paul Harris ($, info in header). Harris stands at 6'3", 185 lbs., and he plans to attend Michigan's one-day camp on June 21st. The Wolverines are a mortal lock to add two more receivers to the class, and I wouldn't be surprised if they take three given the lack of proven depth and the scholarship no longer being held for E.J. Levenberry.
Tremendous got the scoop that the Wolverines also threw their hat in the ring for one of the top defensive prospects of 2014, NJ CB Jabrill Peppers. Peppers already holds offers from Florida, LSU, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Rutgers, and South Carolina, and that list will likely include a laundry-list of national powers before all is said and done. Peppers told Aquaman that he grew up watching Michigan—favorite players: Mike Hart and Mario Manningham—and has interest in a visit, either in the summer or fall.
11W's Alex Gleitman spoke to four-star MA DL Maurice Hurst Jr. after a recent visit to Columbus, and Hurst stated that he'll visit Michigan and Michigan State in the near future, and then he'll be "done with visits." He'd like to make his decision in the next month and a half, and currently lists Ohio State, Michigan, and Virginia as the schools sticking out to him. Buckeye coaches apparently told him that they'll take another defensive tackle; we'll see if the loaded D-line class there affects his decision, especially if things go well on his trip to Ann Arbor.
The Wolverine's Andy Reid reports that 2012 DE Mario Ojemudia will enroll for spring term on Monday, giving the man with the laser death-stare a leg up on strength and conditioning, not to mention a head start in the classroom. Ojemudia needs to add a fair amount of weight before he'll be able to line up with his hand in the dirt, so this is welcome news.
You can probably rule out Michigan for a couple of California prospects. CA RB Justin Davis has "pretty much" narrowed down to a final three of USC, Cal, and Washington, and he expects to make his decision soon ($, info in header). With the Wolverines focused in on Ty Isaac and Derrick Green, that doesn't come as much of a surprise. If Michigan was back in the market for linebackers after losing out on Levenberry—very unlikely, considering the prospects they've turned away—they seems out of the race for CA LB Michael Hutchings, who's aiming for a summer decision and is only mentioning Pac-12 schools as possible visit destinations ($).
Quickly: Free Rivals article on CA WR Demorea Stringfellow, who Mike Farrell describes as a "tough matchup for cornerbacks" because of his size (6'2", 185) and ability to go up and get the football.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at two potential commits (yes, it never ends, and this is good), gets more insight on Patrick Kugler, and finally puts the whole Alex Kozan thing to rest. Finally.
And The Coyote Said, "War Eagle"
Alex Kozan has eaten the Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango, spoken with his coyote spiritual guide, and emerged from his vision quest with newfound clarity about his
soulmate college destination: Kozan will be an Auburn Tiger. There's no word on whether he mulled over his decision in a lighthouse, but I'm going to presume this as fact until proven otherwise.
Also, amen to this: “It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”
We can officially close the book on the class of 2012. We can also discuss guys who will actually play center for Michigan, as more evaluations of new commit Patrick Kugler have come out since his commitment post. Here's Allen Trieu on Kugler's junior film, which is unfortunately stuck behind a Scout paywall ($):
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.
So... that happened. Let's just start right in, shall we?
My Totally Normal, Uneventful, Relaxing Weekend
I was tipped off about the impending Kyle Bosch commitment on Friday evening, so I pre-wrote the "Hello" post, called it a night, and felt like I was ahead of the game.
At 3:20 pm on Saturday, I got this message from Heiko: "LOL your job." I would get the same message again 24 hours later. Over the course of 48 hours, I ended up writing eight commitment posts: Kyle Bosch, Wyatt Shallman, Jourdan Lewis, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. I no longer have the words to describe what went down—though the progressively more slap-happy tone of my posts as the weekend wore on serves this purpose well—so luckily other people wrote stuff, too.
Maize n Brew's Zach Travis discussed the implications of the weekend haul and compared it to Texas's ritual Junior Day bonanza:
That is eight four-star recruits all considered to be in the top-200 to Rivals.com, two linemen with a realistic chance of moving up to five-star range, and one of the best single day hauls outside of Texas's annual Junior Day Commitment Extravaganza.
Michigan, to my knowledge, has never had a six-commit day or an eight-commit weekend—at least in the documented internet recruiting era*—and Texas came up with exactly zero commits on their Junior Day this year. We need a new benchmark, though I think "That Weekend in February of 2012" is now it. Rivals.com's Mike Farrell utilizes the same comparison, mostly because there isn't anything else to equate this to:
"I've never seen anything like this—it's Texas territory," Farrell said in comparing U-M to the Longhorns, notorious for cleaning up early. "This is something new. It's pretty remarkable. I think they got the right guys on campus and that they really know the kids they are recruiting. They've got a good feel for kids who might be ready to pop - that said, they still did a good job to actually get them to jump on board.
"Got the right guys on campus" is probably in reference to Hoke, Mattison, et al, but it could just as easily refer to Shane Morris, whose role as a recruiter is clearly having a huge affect. Morris was the subject of an Angelique Chengelis profile today centering around his efforts as a pitchman:
The affable, congenial Morris has taken hold of the social media and works Twitter and Facebook, sending messages to potential future Wolverines. He makes calls, sends texts and emails, helping to secure commitments from the best high school players with whom he'll be teammates at Michigan.
"Oh, definitely. Hope so," Morris said enthusiastically when asked if he has impacted the Wolverines' recruiting. "I'm definitely recruiting all the time. We want to win national championships at Michigan and we're going to need the best players in the nation to do that."
Anyone who is on Twitter is likely aware of Morris's dogged recruiting efforts, and Taco Charlton took to the social media platform last night to relay his story of how he came to commit:
— Taco Charlton (@thekidTC33) February 21, 2012
I'll give Farrell the last word from an article hyping up the upcoming recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State, who all of a sudden find themselves playing catch-up despite having a five-star and three four-stars in the fold (the rest of the B1G—four total commits, period):
"Urban Meyer's the Axl Rose of recruiting," Farrell said. "He's the rock star. Brady Hoke is not out there like that. He's not the same type of guy. He's an old-school, shoot-it-straight guy. But he's obviously getting the job done at an equal level. With these two, recruiting will be fun because they're unlike each other. That's going to make things very interesting. They each have different approaches to things. It's going to be a great battle.''
Let's hope Florida was Meyer's Appetite for Destruction, and we'll now spend a decade waiting for Chinese Democracy before realizing we don't care anymore. Alright, there's no way that's how things will turn out, but one can hope.
*The six listed by Rivals for one day in 2003 did not actually happen that way; I think they were just catching up and didn't specify the exact dates. Seth, who probably summed up my weekend better than anyone, has the correct listing.
Hoke Never Sleeps, 'Cause Sleep is the Cousin of Death
The fallout from this weekend spills over into a second section because it deserves as much. Steve Wiltfong caught up with both Kyle Bosch and David Dawson in the aftermath of their commitments to get their thoughts on why they committed, and both are well worth a read. Here's Bosch, who had this gem [emphasis mine]:
At the beginning of the day, I started to hint that I was going to commit. I told Coach Borges maybe next month I could see myself commit. Then the director of player personnel Coach Singletary came over to me and I said maybe next week. I then went in the bathroom and talked to my mom on the phone and we talked about it, Michigan State and Stanford. It came down to academics. I have a ton of respect for Michigan State and Stanford. I think they’re both outstanding schools, but it came down to academics. Michigan is the right place for me.
Those of you still smarting from Josh Garnett's decision to go to Stanford will find that especially cathartic. The only thing that could make that quote better would be if Jim Harbaugh was still coaching the Cardinal.
I guess I got the order wrong when putting up Dawson's and Lewis's commitment posts, because it sounds like the offensive lineman beat his teammate by a matter of seconds:
I talked to my mom about if Michigan offered me, would I commit on the spot. She was okay with it. She liked it for the academics, and the academics came before the football.
We were talking to Coach Hoke and he offered me. I looked at my mom and then looked at him and I told him I’d like to commit. He asked me if I was serious, and he jumped up and started yelling. He shook my hand and gave my mom a hug, gave me a hug. Everyone was screaming and it didn’t make it any better when J (Jourdan Lewis) walked in and said he was committing too. It was a great feeling yesterday.
Given Hoke's propensity for screaming and hugging when a recruit commits in person, I'm kindly requesting that the next player who plans on doing this records the whole thing on their smartphone. I imagine it's a sight to behold. Speaking of Hoke, he apparently doesn't sleep, because by the time Jake Butt committed on Sunday, he was in Florida schmoozing with some bigwig donors:
Before offering his pledge the Pickerington North star decided to travel home and mull things over just a little bit more, but that he was close to making his choice was likely evident to all. Even so, that didn’t stop his future coaches from reacting to the news like they had received the surprise of the year.
“I actually told Coach Hoke, Coach Borges, and Coach Ferrigno and they were all really excited," Butt stated. “Coach Hoke was down in Florida talking to some boosters for the university, and he just let out a big scream when he heard it. (Laughter) They all said I made their night and they can’t be happier for me. This is really great.”
I wonder if Hoke had any voice left by the time Tuley-Tillman committed. Given that he can barely talk after games, I have to imagine the weekend was hell on his larynx.
Ethan Pocic—one of just two weekend visitors to not commit, along with Rod Crayton—reportedly enjoyed his visit and said Michigan "went up in [his] view." ($, info in header). There was a false Twitter report out there that he had named a top three that didn't include Michigan, but Pocic soundly denied doing so.
That wasn't all on the weekend, by the way. Michigan also managed to pick up a couple of preferred walk-on for 2012, both long-snappers. Saline's Taybor Pepper—the #7 long-snapper in the 2012 class on Chris Sailer Kicking—actually jumped the gun and committed on Thursday. Fenton's Tyler Tokarsky announced his commitment via Twitter yesterday. Both links contain video and more info on a couple of guys who will hopefully remain anonymous barring a Jareth Glanda moment.
Offers, More Offers, Visits, Lists, Etc.
Prepare for a massive bulleted list, as Michigan has sent out a ton of offers in the last week. These are in no particular order, just how my tabs happened to show up:
- Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton was offered a scholarship while on his Sunday visit to Ann Arbor ($). Crayton was very impressed by the fact that he would have three D-line coaches at Michigan.
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes ($, info in header), the #21 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals.
- Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls, who told aquaman he's being offered as a DE.
- Wyomissing (PA) Area LB Alex Anzalone, a four-star on Rivals who also has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.
- Everett (MA) OL John Montelus, the #214 prospect on Rivals—I had a chance to catch up with him last week and he mentioned a desire to visit Michigan.
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow, the #107 player on Rivals, recently grabbed offers from Michigan, Arizona State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Washington State.
- Santa Monica's Sebastian LaRue is another California wideout to grab an offer ($, info in header). He's the #141 overall player in the Rivals250.
- Rancho Cucamonga (CA) DB Chris Hawkins told TomVH that a Wolverine offer was one he and his father were waiting on ($). Hawkins is the #159 prospect according to Rivals.
- Washington DC Gonzaga ATH Devin Butler is a three-star on 24/7, and he told Clint Brewster he plans on visiting in the spring ($).
- Dallas (TX) Kimball DT Justin Manning, the #89 player on Rivals, also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
- Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley is another in a long line of D-I prospects from one of Ohio's most storied high school programs. He told Scout that he grew up as a Michigan fan and was very excited by the offer ($).
- A third Rivals250 WR from California, Oakley Freedom's Darrell Daniels, now has offers from Michigan, Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon State after a strong showing at the U.S. Army combine ($).
- Tempe (AZ) Marcos De Niza CB Priest Willis is the #84 overall prospect on Rivals, and Michigan's offer gave him 16 total ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker is a four-star and the #214 prospect to 24/7, but Michigan became one of his first two offers along with, coincidentally, San Diego State ($).
- Three-star Randolph (NJ) guard Brendan Mahon added offers from Michigan and Temple last week ($, info in header).
- Belton (TX) TE Durham Smythe—who I posted an interview with this morning—got his Michigan offer last week, though it might be difficult to pull him from Texas.
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis, the #93 prospect on Rivals, got his Michigan offer last week.
- The Wolverines also offered 2014 DT Andy Bauer, a big-time recruit from St. Louis (IL) De Smet who visited two weeks ago.
As you can see, the Wolverines are heavily targeting the top talent in California, a likely product of Brady Hoke's connections there from his time at San Diego State. That offer list is also littered with prospects from the Rivals250, as Michigan is able to focus on blue-chip players with a small class that's now already halfway full. We'll see how judicious they are with their offers moving forward; three players—Donovan Munger, De'Niro Laster, and Ross Douglas—visited on Monday and did not get offers extended. Tight end Jacob Matuska, who does hold an offer, also was on campus yesterday.
Several players have expressed interest in visiting lately, and a couple of them are quite noteworthy. Five-star CA S/LB Su'a Cravens told Scout that Michigan will get one of his five official visits, in large part due to his relationship with Hoke dating back to his days with the Aztecs ($, info in header). Two blue-chip prospects from Good Counsel in Maryland will visit for the April 14th spring game in five-star corner Kendall Fuller and four-star linebacker Dorian O'Daniel. Four-star WR Robert Foster has confirmed that he'll visit Michigan State next weekend, and it's a possibility that he'll swing by Ann Arbor as well. Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the #64 prospect on Rivals, will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($, info in header).
Unfortunately, it can't all be sunshine and lollipops, as some players either named top groups that exluded Michigan or committed elsewhere. Five-star FL OT Laremy Tunsil named a top two of Florida and Georgia ($, info in header). Four-star VA DE Jonathan Allen named Alabama as his favorite after receiving an offer ($, info in header). Four-star VA safety Tim Harris named a top two of Virginia and Virginia Tech, though he expressed interest in visiting both Michigan and Ohio State ($, info in header). Louisville (KY) Trinity CB Ryan White named a top two of Louisville and Illinois, and his teammate, DE Jason Hatcher, has also expressed strong interest in the Cardinals.
We wish happy trails to four recruits: Dallas (TX) Jesuit WR Jake Oliver committed to Texas, while his teammate, OL J.J. Gustafson, committed to Texas A&M. Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard pledged to the Buckeyes. While he didn't hold an offer, Birmingham Brother Rice LB Johnny Reshke will likely be one the top 2013 prospects in the state, and he committed to MSU last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles RB Deveon Smith—whose recruitment will likely come down to Michigan and Ohio State, and says it's "50-50" between the schools regarding his favorite right now—in his most recent DetNews column. Wiltfong recaps the Best of the Midwest combine, which featured five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith—the event's MVP—as well as linebacker Tim Kimbrough, defensive end Elijah Daniel, and several potential Michigan targets. Allen Trieu scouts last week's Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom—ND commit Steven Elmer, Cass Tech junior DT Kenton Gibbs, and 2014 Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell are mentioned as standouts ($).
ALL OF THE PAIRS. ALL OF THE FOUR-STARS. ALL OF THE HELLO POSTS.
Sorry, the meth hasn't quite worn off yet. In the aftermath of Michigan's program-defining victory over Ohio State last night, the Wolverines picked up their fifth and sixth commitments of the day in Parker (CO) Ponderosa OT Chris Fox and Pickerington (OH) Central DE Taco Charlton. Fox becomes the third offensive lineman to commit in the 2013 class; all did so yesterday, and all are four-star prospects. The explosion of commitments helped Fox come to his decision even though he wasn't on campus this weekend, according to Sam Webb:
“Honestly, it’s been Michigan pretty much the whole way,” said Fox. “I’m excited. Coach Funk was definitely excited. I just called my grandma (who lives in Michigan) and she’s super excited about it too.”
That Fox joined the class this evening came as a bit of surprise since he wasn’t a part of the commitment frenzy on campus today. But just because he wasn’t on the ground in Ann Arbor doesn’t mean he didn’t take notice.
“I saw that and I was just like, ‘dang, and I’ve known that’s where I wanted to go.’ I thought, ‘why not do it?’ “
Yes, Fox be like dang. Rest easy, Shane Morris; you're going to have more time in the pocket than you know what to do with.
|4*, NR OG||
# 46 Ovr
4* OT, ESPNU
150 Watch List
4*, 95, #8 OT,
Fox is a consensus four-star and a top-50 player to the two sites that have actually released extensive lists; he made the ESPN top-100 list as well and is one of a handful of players to get a rating from Scout. The general consensus is that he's one of the top linemen—and players—in the country. The four sites are split between him being 6'5" or 6'6", and all but Scout (285) agree that he weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. Scout is the only site to list him as a guard, but Fox has the versatility to play either guard or tackle at the collegiate level.
Fox actually didn't play offensive line until the summer before his junior year, having been a standout defensive tackle for Ponderosa in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Right away, however, scouts took notice of his massive potential, as you can see from this Rivals article dating back to the summer he started playing offense ($):
...he's an athlete for a big man his age and his size--moves well, flexible, is a big time knee bender, and he is a mauler - loves contact - not afraid to mix it up but athletic enough to shut down Stephen Gibson when he tried some moves and speed rushes at CU's camp. Fox plays with a level of violence and passion you don't see very often in high school offensive linemen. It's a beautiful thing to watch.
Fox is one of those guys who just overwhelms defenders with his sheer size and power. His technique is very raw right now but that's to be expected since he never played offensive line until this summer. But that will improve, and watching him at the CU camp and at a Ponderosa practice he clearly learns quickly and is one of those kids who can pick something up the first time he tries it. Even with raw technique it is still clear that he uses his hands very well, and seems to have already become very good at one of the harder things to master as an offensive lineman - timing the initial punch with the hands.
The player William Gartner compares to Fox in the article? Jake Long. This is not done lightly, as Gartner worked with Long at a Michigan camp before Long's senior year of high school. When violence becomes beauty, Long is an apt comparison. By September of his junior year, Fox's game tape was already circulating among scouts, and he continued to impress ($):
Some are already calling Fox the top prospect in the state of Colorado for the 2013 class and while that might be a bit presumptuous, there is definitely a good chance he'll be among the best players just because of his dominance and versatility. Fox played on the defensive line during his freshman and sophomore seasons and now moved over to offense for his junior year and simply dominates with his power, drive and toughness.
Fox has since solidified himself as the top player in Colorado, and his effort and strength have been repeatedly praised. He also reportedly is still growing and has the room to pack on a lot of good weight, as you'll see in Tom Lemming's evaluation:
Has the length, long arms, and quick feet the college scouts love to see in a LT. Needs to get stronger in the lower body but has the frame to weigh 320 in college. Shows the grit and determination needed to play the LT position at the next level. Shows all the tools for future stardom.
It sounds like Fox should mature into a bona-fide tackle prospect, and I'm guessing Michigan sees much the same, as they've already taken two players—Kyle Bosch and David Dawson—who project best to the interior of the line. Fox's high school coach can't find a bad thing to say about him after his first year as an offensive lineman ($):
Ponderosa High School coach Randy Huff can't say enough good things about the star of his team, Christopher Fox.
"The thing that most people have told me that stands out the most is how physical he is," Huff said. "He really is trying to destroy people when he hits them. He's not just a big body. He's a real football player for sure."
So Michigan just picked up a big (and still growing), versatile mauler in the mold of Jake Long, and he's only been playing on offense for a year-and-a-half. Yup, I'm totally okay with this pickup.
Fox chose Michigan over offers from Colorado, Florida State, Iowa, Michigan State, Mizzou, Ohio State, and Purdue. Chew on that, bitter rivals.
No stats for O-linemen.
FAKE 40 TIME
24/7 lists a 5.50 40 time, which I'll give a two FAKEs out of five since he's an enormous offensive lineman.
There's no junior highlights of Fox available yet, so most of the available film is of him playing defense, though you get a couple snaps of him blocking in the following highlight reel:
You can get a good sense of his athleticism, strength, and general enjoyment of contact from that video. He's certainly not afraid to hit people. Hard.
[UPDATE: Thanks to user jbibiza for pointing out that Fox's junior offensive highlights are posted for free on Rivals.]
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Without any junior film available, I can't say with much specificity where I think Fox will end up, but given the above evaluations I expect he'll land at tackle. If Fox really is still growing at 6'6", 300 pounds, he seems like a perfect fit for either tackle spot, especially if Michigan is bringing in both Bosch and Dawson at guard.
Fox's potential is probably the most exciting thing about him; again, the guy didn't start playing on the offensive line until last summer and he's already a top-50 prospect in his class regardless of position. While there will likely be some kinks to work out with his technique, he appears to be a very quick study, and his ceiling is extremely high.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Just like that, Michigan goes from three commits and zero offensive lineman in the 2013 class to nine and three, respectively. As stated above, I think Bosch and Dawson are destined for guard while Fox projects to tackle, and I'd have to think with players like Ethan Pocic and Logan Tuley-Tillman still out there that the Wolverines will try to fit another tackle prospect into the class. The big question is whether or not they'll take five offensive linemen and grab a pure center, though they haven't offered one yet; it's possible they see Bosch or Dawson (more likely Dawson, IMO) filling that role, but somebody in this class needs to come in at center and stay there.
As for the rest of the class, Michigan has now filled nearly half of the 20-22 spots expected to be available by the end of the recruiting cycle. February isn't over. Just, um, wow.
Jeremy Clark and Blake Bars Go Blue
A twin-bill of commitments started on Friday, as KY S Jeremy Clark committed to a greyshirt offer. The Hello: Jeremy Clark post may have been a shade on the pessimistic side (at the time, Rivals's database was apparently broken, so I wasn't aware he had Illinois and Cincinnati offers, which makes him significantly more attractive as an offer candidate), and that definitely changes my guess that other, more-immediate, offers might change his decision to accept a greyshirt. Still, other reports aren't exactly glowing. Magnus on Touch the Banner:
There's a very good chance that his body has matured throughout the offseason, and if he's done some work on his own in the film room, he might have improved some of his weaknesses, too. But from what I see here, he's slow to read plays, slow to react at times, takes questionable pursuit angles, doesn't have the greatest of playmaking abilities, doesn't hit hard with consistency (although there are a couple nice blows), and doesn't wrap up when he tackles.
College coaches have had a chance to see him in camp since then, so it's likely he's improved a lot if they were willing to offer. As a greyshirt, Clark is currently considered a 2013 commit, but could move into the class of 2012 pending the decision of OH S Jarrod Wilson.
He is an outstanding run blocker, one who can physically dominate his opponent. He shows the quick feet and flexibility to be solid in pass protection. Notice on the film his short, choppy, but controlled steps that sometimes (sometimes not) have a low base and good balance.
He’s great at finishing blocks, working relentlessly to pile the poor sap lined up across from him into the ground, at least until the whistle blows. He has some of the niftiest footwork I’ve seen in a lineman Michigan’s recruited this year, outside of maybe Kyle Kalis. His feet are always in motion and allow him to move laterally, a great asset for any lineman at the next level.
For more on Bars, check out the Hello: Blake Bars post. I also managed to miss that Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on for the 2012 class in IL WR Bo Dever ($, info in header). If I can find enough info on him in the coming days, he may get the Hello post treatment.
He dedicated himself in the weight room this offseason, adding good weight and getting up to 319-lbs. Even at that size, he was moving well enough to be considered a left tackle prospect. He's strong, technique is improving and he's more athletic than previously thought.
It's a good sign that Brady Hoke's staff has an eye for identifying talent earlier than most.
CA OL Erik Magnuson talked to the local news about why he picked Michigan:
Pharaoh Brown is listed as a defensive end but #Michigan ought to consider him as a wide receiver...he is very smooth.
There's video, so check it out for yourself. He certainly has good hands (and an ability to get up for the ball), but his athleticism - exceptional for a defensive end - may not be quite what you'd expect out of a bigtime wide receiver. There's also the small fact that he hasn't played wideout in high school yet, playing mostly QB last year.
Bob Lichtenfels gave 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris some love at the IMG 87-on-7 in Florida:
Share [sic] Morris is a winner, love the kids moxie at IMG Madden 7on7. Michigan is getting a good one...
Morris and 2012 MI RB Dennis Norfleet were named co-MVPs and their team won the Championship. MGoUser JakeinVeniceFL worked the event as an official, and was also impressed. Scout called Morris "nearly unstoppable" over the final two days of the tournament.
Michigan is CBS/Maxpreps's #2 recruiting class at this point (they were #1 last night, but a kicker pickup boosted Texas ahead), and 24/7 Sports's #2 linebacker recruiting class (not including Ojemudia, considered a defensive end) behind Alabama. The linebackers also get some love from ESPN.
OH S Jarrod Wilson has set his decision date: Next Friday at 2:30 PM. Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State are his final three schools, and many analysts think the Wolverines are the favorite to land him.
OH OL Kyle Kalis thinks OH DE Chris Wormley is going to commit to Michigan, and the two were on campus together last weekend. Wormley has been talking about moving toward a decision for a long time, so a visit to campus could have helped push things forward.
Tom said not to expect a commitment from Kalis last weekend, so the lack of a pledge from the big man came as no surprise. He wants to visit Alabama and Miami (YTM) before making a decision. However, his decision could move up after a visit or two.
A source tells Bucknuts's Dave Biddle that Kalis and OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn will not end up at Ohio State:
These guys aren't just decommitting, they have written off going to OSU... Word going around at both St. Eds and GlenOak are that the Buckeyes have "no chance" at landing either of them.
He goes on to say that Dunn's decommitment is a long time coming, but Kalis not ending up in Columbus after his long, (excited, commit-y) commitment is a big change. As a counterpoint, Bill Greene now thinks Bri'onte Dunn will stick with Ohio State unless (until) the Buckeyes get hammered by the NCAA.
Local fluff of epic proportions on IN QB Gunner Kiel. A lot of it is of the "hey, person who doesn't follow recruiting, the recruiting industry sucks" variety (with plenty of one sentence paragraphs), but there are some useful pieces of information included:
"(The decision) will probably be some time this month. I don't know a date. Whenever I feel it in my gut, I'm probably going to make that decision. I'll let my teammates, family and friends know. By then, I'm sure it will get out."
There are mentions of Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Indiana, but no Michigan. It seems like the Wolverines' ship has probably sailed for Kiel, though Tom Lemming is far higher on the Wolverines' chances, putting them in a top 3 with Alabama and Oklahoma.
MaxPreps picks up on the "Greg Garmon beat cancer" story (a couple months late, it would seem). The PA RB has narrowed his list to Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Iowa, and Pitt, according to the article. He recently picked up an Ohio State offer, so we'll see if that affects his recruitment.
OH RB/FB Alden Hill received a Michigan offer. He talked to Tom about which position the coaches want him to play:
They want me as an all purpose back, a full back and running back. Someone they don't have to change personnel if they switch plays out of the two back system. I'm definitely good with that role, it's good for competition.
That sounds to me like their first thought is FB, but he can also play tailback. Landing a combo back like Hill would give the coaching staff much more flexibility about taking another ball-carrier in the class, but it sounds like Michigan isn't in great position with Hill.
WA OL Zach Banner has set up his official Michigan visit for the Notre Dame game.
IL OL Jordan Diamond will play in a new All-Star game, the US Marine Bowl.
AZ OL Andrus Peat will probably include Notre Dame and Nebraska in his final five, meaning Michigan is fighting it out with a few other schools for one of the remaining three spots.
WA OL Josh Garnett is down to 11 schools, including Michigan. The Wolverines join Notre Dame, OKlahoma, Auburn, and Nebraska as the non-Pac-12 schools on his list.
Michigan is in the top six for MI DT Danny O'Brien ($, info in header). It'll be interesting to see how Michigan's DL recruiting plays out over the rest of the summer, with only a couple spots left.
Free Rivals article on OH S Bam Bradley, who doesn't mention Michigan. With the Wolverines' current DB and LB hauls, it's tough to see Bam ending up in this class.
A lot of recruits with Michigan interest and/or offers that hadn't been mentioned much from a Michigan perspective lately made commitments to other schools:
- IN QB James Knapke committed to Bowling Green. He was unlikely to receive a Michigan offer.
- IL QB Wes Lunt committed to Oklahoma State.
- CA WR Raymond Ford committed to UCLA.
- CA TE Ian Taubler committed to UCLA.
- CA TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick committed to USC.
- IN OL Jake Meador committed to Ole Miss.
- TX OL John Michael McGee picked Oklahoma.
- PA OL Chris Muller committed to Rutgers.
- OH OL Tyler Orlosky (a teammate of Kyle Kalis) committed to West Virginia.
- MD LB/WR Deontay McManus committed to West Virginia.
- OH S De'Van Bogard committed to Ohio State.
In other Happy Trails news, MN OL Jonah Pirsig is deciding soon, and Michigan doesn't seem to be in the mix. With Michigan's recruiting class filling up fast, we should see a lot of recruits cutting the Wolverines from their lists in the near future.
Tom spoke with the father of MI OL Steven Elmer Jr. about his son's recruiting:
We have to have a great school first and foremost. He has a 4.3 GPA so we have to find him a good school, could be Ivy league, could be a place like Michigan. When he decides what he wants to study he'll look into that.
That certainly helps Michigan's case against presumed childhood favorite Michigan State (but not so much over Notre Dame, which has now offered him).
PA TE Adam Breneman, who holds a Michigan offer, is Notre Dame's #1 priority at the position in the 2013 class ($, info in header).
MI RB/DE Wyatt Shallman is "surrounded by Maize & Blue" ($, info in header).
Michigan leads for OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas, the subject of Sam Webb's latest Detroit News column. His coach on how he plays:
"I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. (During the spring) he ran a 4.57 electronic 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, so that tells you about his speed. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."
He also drops some hints that his cousin Bri'Onte Dunn (mentioned above) might be interested in Michigan if the Buckeyes are hit with a bowl ban.
OH LB Ben Gedeon is high on Michigan ($, info in header).