Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Update 5/12: Linked to video of OH OL Christian Pace, OH S Kurtis Drummond and OH RB Andre Givens, articles on IL WR Kyle Prater, FL OL Torrian Wilson (second), MN OL Seantrel Henderson, MI LB Daniel Easterly, OH OL commit Christian Pace, DE RB Jamaal Jackson, FL CB Tony Grimes, MI DE Will Gholston, MD RB Zach Zwinak, TX DE Holmes Onwukaife, GA CB Darius Robinson (more, yet more), CA RB Dietrich Riley (second), SC S Bashaud Breeland, FL QB Jeffrey Godfrey, TN QB Barry Brunetti, OH WR commit DJ Williamson, MI LB Daniel Easterly (second), OH TE Alex Smith, OH LB commit Antonio Kinard, MI QB Devin Gardner, MI RB Austin White.
Added OH CB Terry Talbott, FL LB Justin Wilson, OH OL Travis Jackson, OH OL Matt Rotheram.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. This is late and thus even bulkier than normal; there's just a lot more information floating out there these days and it's getting tough to track all this on the regular. In any case…
To the right: OH WR commit DJ (or "Deaver" or "D'Aver"; maybe I'll just call him Deathbacker, too) Williamson winning the Ohio state championship in the 100 M, as a junior. (It was a 10.90 into a headwind.) He's fast. Let's hope he can play football.
More kids Michigan had chucked offers at but had little shot at go off the board; you can observe them above if you care. Only one guy that had come in for any mention around these parts makes an exit, but it's a disappointing and surprising one: the pendulum that is CA RB Brennan Clay committed to Oklahoma over the weekend.
Which WTF? When last we left Clay he had scheduled officials in the fall and was telling Tom this:
TOM: What’s all this I’ve been hearing about you and Michigan?
BRENNAN: There’s been a lot lately. I really like them a lot right now.
That turned into this:
"I kind of misled him earlier in the week," Clay said. "I wanted to make it a full on surprise but I told him I was narrowing decisions down. I think he thought it was going to be a top three, top five kind of deal.
"When I told him I was committing I think he said four or five times how excited he was. I'm pretty sure he has a great feeling going through his spine still."
What about my spine, eh? Doesn't anyone ever think of my spine? Anyway, that was almost immediately followed by Tate Forcier telling his facebook legions to ping Clay on behalf of M, which I'm betting is some sort of NCAA violation.
So… I'm leaving him on the board for now, just because this has the air of something that might be less than permanent, and Clay seems like one of those guys who changes his mind frequently. But even so Michigan's chances went from like 40% to like 2%. Lame!
This seemed inevitable as soon as OH TE Alex Smith took a BBQ visit and started talking about taking stadium tours across the country, and now it is official:
Lakota West High junior TE Alex Smith said this morning, June 9, that he will reopen his recruiting process.
One Cincinnati fan has a This Week In Schadenfreude-worthy response to all that:
Let me remind everybody that this is the same guy who said that he wanted to start a trend of hometown talent staying home and attending UC. And then he goes and commit treason, yea I said it TREASON, it's that serious when Rich Rod the SNAKE has been snaking our recruits from us since BK has gotten hear, the snake got one of our recruits to decommit from us last year right before signing, and then this.
Smith evidently has some interest, but it'll be a while before it's clear how much. A camp visit would be a very good sign.
War on the floor
Camps and combines continue apace, with the Champaign Nike camp of particular interest, as it featured a wide array of targets and commits. Michigan kids were "the story" of the camp according to Bill Kurelic. Amongst them was QB commit Devin Gardner. Various reports on his performance follow. Kurelic:
Gardner started a bit slow, but by the end of the camp was throwing very well. He showed a strong arm throwing the out pattern.
University of Michigan commit Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich.) is a carbon copy of Bolden in terms of build. He is a tall and intimidating signal-caller who delivers the football to the right spot as the receiver is making his break. He needs to polish his technical skills but is quick and athletic with a strong arm.
This camp also served as the Elite 11 tryout for everyone who showed; Gardner didn't win the MVP, which went to three-star Illinois commit Chandler Whitmer, but if he's even in the ballpark with pro-style guys—and it sounds like he's getting there—when it comes to sitting in the pocket throwing outs that is major win when you put him in a situation where he can kidney-punch linebackers en route to the endzone. Gardner was an Elite 11 ballboy last year; hopefully he gets an invite this year, if only for the instruction.
MI RB Austin White was the RB MVP:
RB, Austin White, 6-0, 189, Livonia (Mich.) Stevenson
White is one of the more versatile 'backs seen on the 2009 NFTC tour to this point. Blessed with a solid 6-foot frame that should be able to easily carry 210-220 pounds in college, White is also light of foot and very smooth with the football in his hands. Is also one of the top pass-catching and route-running backs in the country
Kurelic on White:
White was the top running back at the camp. He flashed his excellent speed, has a powerful looking frame and can catch the ball.
IL WR Kyle Prater also remains very, very good:
He is on the brink of being one of the top skilled athletes in the country. Prater is smooth and fluid in his routes and absolutely towers over the secondary -- standing 6-5. Prater can separate from defensive backs with his quickness and speed. He snags the football out of the air with his long arms and big, soft hands. It was no surprise that Prater made several acrobatic, reach-back receptions during the camp.
Prater named USC, Oklahoma, and Illinois as a top three recently but Gardner's apparently working on him and in other spots he claims no leaders from his group of ten. MI DE Will Gholston also came in for the usual amount of praise. Perhaps more interesting is this bit from Rivals on a guy who stood up to him:
But after the one-on-ones started, the attention quickly turned to the guy who was dominating Gholston in those battles – offensive lineman Connor Kruse of Lowell (Mich.) High.
Not much was known about Kruse heading into the camp – he wasn't even in the Rivals.com recruiting database until just recently – but after handling Gholston in one-on-ones and looking solid in drill work, he's a name to remember.
"I have one offer from Western Michigan," said Kruse, who is 6-4 and 280 pounds. "I'm hoping a camp like this will help get me on the map even more. I wanted to test myself against the best, and [Gholston] was supposed to be the best. I think I handled him quite well. You saw he didn't want anything to do with me when it was time again. He backed away from me."
Oh snap. Might be a guy to watch if he comes to Michigan's camp.
More on a couple other attendees in another section.
Here's a complaint I thought we'd never get around to this recruiting cycle: what's with Michigan not offering a couple of instate prospects? MI DT Jonathan Hankins plays a spot Michigan has few other prospects at, had an Oklahoma offer, and now sports another tres shiny letter:
Detroit Southeastern defensive tackle Johnathon Hankins added an offer from Ohio State recently.
Ohio State now leads, pending some sort of Michigan response. That almost has to come at Michigan's summer camp, doesn't it? Hankins grew up a Michigan fan and a couple of premium insider sorts claim he's highly likely to drop when (if?) he gets that camp offer.
Hankins also showed at that Nike camp:
Hankins is a true power-rusher who is difficult to stalemate. He has a great motor but needs to expand his repertoire of pass-rush techniques.
Apparently the major holdup on Michigan's part is that Hankins is carrying a lot of cheeseburgers around and Michigan would like to see him in better shape before they offer, which is beginning to happen.
Meanwhile, Cass Tech S/LB/maybe DE Daniel Easterly has his own set of swank offers:
Easterly said he landed a scholarship offer from UCLA right before leaving for Illinois, which was offer No. 18. Easterly anticipates offer No. 19 coming soon from Cincinnati. Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Syracuse, Alabama and Kentucky are among the other schools to offer Easterly.
Michigan has yet to join them, possibly because they're not quite sure what you do with a 6'5" 200 pound guy in their new Greg Robinson defense. Right now he's a safety, but many are projecting a move:
Daniel Easterly (Detroit/Cass Tech) played safety during his junior season, and feels that is where he will likely play in college. However, the 6-foot-5 and 200-pound Easterly said some recruiters have mentioned a move to outside linebacker if he gets big enough in the next couple of years. For that to happen, Easterly has a way to go. In shirts and shorts, it was easy to see how lean Easterly is. He is nowhere close to linebacker size at this point.
So. There's all that. Right now Illinois is the tentative favorite:
"I don't have a favorite yet, but I'm starting to look more to Illinois," Easterly said. "I like everything about Illinois. I like the coaching staff and the players. I like how they play. I like how their secondary plays. The coaches have told me I would play safety, or if I get big enough, Will (weak side) linebacker."
Michigan's new 4-3 under protects the WLB and loves LB/safety hybrids so that's where Easterly could fit. He believes an offer will come:
"I plan to go to Michigan and Ohio State's (football) camps," Easterly said. "Dior [Mathis] and I are going to both. Michigan wants me to come to camp, and then they are going to offer."
One to watch as well, mmm. [/yoda]
Hey: This Is Useful
This may be the most interesting and useful recruit evaluation I've seen. It's Rivals AMP on the commitment of OH OL Christian Pace:
"It seems like every play he's putting someone into the ground," says the Rivals guy, and there is plenty more effusive praise for his latest film; the implication is that he's likely to move into the four-star range but for his smallish frame. This limits his pro potential, which Rivals does consider in their rankings.* The overall impression is that despite his limitations, Pace will get a rankings boost in their next re-rank.
One of Rivals' small complaints—Pace's time to field—should be mitigated by his plan to enroll early. More about Pace's ability to turn you into a tulip:
"He enjoys physical play and is a real versatile big, strong kid," Dlugosz said. "He has exceptionally quick feet. … "He finishes his blocks," Dlugosz said. "If he locks on you, he's going to put you into the ground."
I was already enthused about Pace's commitment, and this stuff only heightens it.
*(This, by the way, is something I find totally reasonable. It's a potential sanity check and an excellent metric to use. It does mean that certain systems, like the spread 'n' shred, will find their overall rankings depressed a bit because they prioritize different things than your typical NFL team.)
That Thing No One Believes: Not True!
CA RB/S Dietrich Riley did not commit to Tennessee, not that anyone thought that he had. Guy hasn't even been to UT. Nevertheless, The Smokey Chomp clears this up and offers a tantalizing nublet of information:
Riley, who claims 15 offers but not a top school, says Michigan is recruiting the hardest.
What schools does Riley plan to visit this summer? “Tennessee, so I can meet the new staff and build a relationship with them. Also Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Florida if they offer, Oklahoma, Alabama, and I plan to attend the USC Rising Stars camp."
Riley's been dynamite at camps…
"He was incredible," Campbell said. "We've seen some great backs this year, guys like Marcus Lattimore, Roy Finch and all the guys at the USC camp but Riley is the best kid I've seen. He's a beast with size, speed and moves and he plays with an edge to him."
…but in protesting his willingness to head out of state he sort of confirms the likelihood he'll stay in state:
"I know right now a lot of people think I'm mainly looking at just USC and UCLA but I'm open to some out of state schools too. I'm going to go through the recruiting process and take my time before I make my decision."
I hold out some moderate hope here; the visit will tell all.
Mr. Henderson has a tentative list:
"Right now it is not official, but I like Minnesota, USC, UCLA, Michigan, Iowa, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida and LSU. There are some other schools, but that would be my top choices right now."
And he would like you to know, pro-style folk, that he will not be swayed by that pitch:
"I want to know the teams' depth chart and who they have coming in. I want to know if they are going to have a nice quarterback and who else they have on the offensive line. Then just being comfortable around the team and on campus, and finding a school where I can be at for the next four years, or maybe even five. I can play in any offense, and distance from home doesn't really matter."
Etc.: GA CB Darius Robinson is almost definitely headed to Miami; Clemson leads for SC S Bashaud Breeland, another guy high on my list of "recruits who could be from Dune"; FL OL Torrian Wilson drops Tennessee from his top five… in favor of FIU. lolz. DE RB Jamaal Jackson picks up three offers… from I-AA schools. I doubt his offer is "commitable," as they say.
Uh… Kurelic headlines an article "Bucks, Lions to battle for [PA RB/LB Zach] Zwinak" and ends it with "Zwinak does not plan to select a college in the near future and says he has no favorites."
This guy thinks Tennessee will offer and get TN QB Barry Brunetti, who's basically Tajh Boyd. Way to go, Kiffin!
|#36 OG, 3*||#5 C, 3*||150 watch list|
The "150 watch list" was a much more exiting designation early last year, before it became clear that ESPN was putting almost 500 kids on it. Still, with a variety of Michigan prospects already evaluated and shoved outside of the list the implication is Pace will probably acquire the ESPN equivalent of four stars. Their reasoning for this:
Comes off the ball like a locomotive and derails the defensive lineman on run blocks. Really dominates the defender on base and drive blocks. Fires out low and hard with a flat back and strikes the defensive lineman across with a jarring first punch. Follows the initial blow delivery with great leg drive; churns legs like pistons. Impressive reach and zone blocker; uses excellent footwork in gaining position on the edge defender.
There are some concerns about pass protection, but the final words are "aggressiveness," "nastiness," and "pit bull." It's a very positive assessment.
Though Scout and Rivals are not as enthused, interior linemen often get short shrift—name a position other than kicker where the #5 player in the country doesn't get a fourth star—and as we'll see Pace has a solid offer list. I'm considerably less concerned with his ranking than I was for the various Michigan commits who play sexier spots and didn't have a lot of other schools clamoring for his attention.
Touch The Banner provides a more reserved scouting report:
Pace does an excellent job of finishing his blocks; the running back is sometimes seven or eight yards downfield and Pace is still latched onto his man. When he gets a pancake block, he often just lies on top of his man, which is demoralizing for a defensive player. He drives his legs and doesn't just use his mass to move smaller defenders.
When releasing to the second level, Pace plays a little high. He can probably outmuscle players on the second level, but the problem lies in a lack of agility when linemen get out in open space and play too high. Playing lower will give him more power, but it will also give him a better opportunity to stay in front of those smaller, quicker linebackers. He also needs to work on lower body strength, as he gets stalemated by smaller players at times.
And Ohio Varsity took a look($); it's premium so I'll quote sparingly:
His agility is what sets him apart from most linemen, as he has the ability to get out in space and execute blocks against smaller, faster defenders. Pace thrives as a pulling guard and his film features numerous plays where he rockets out of his stance and immediately becomes a dangerous 265-pound lead blocker.
…eh, not going to see a lot of pulling at Michigan but that agility and ability to operate on the second level will come in handy.
It's worth noting that Pace's size is up for debate. Some places have him as big as 6'4", 270, but Scout's profile lists him at a comparatively shrimpy 6'2", 252, and that's backed up by the weight of a combine appearance. If the latter is accurate—and I tend to believe it is, since, you know, they measured—that would push him more towards center and make this David Molk comparison stronger.
The full dossier as of a month and a half ago:
Pace' offer list also includes Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Louisville, North Carolina State, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Colorado, Wake Forest and a host of MAC schools.
Offensive linemen don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Pace is credited with a 5.22 from that combine, which gets zero FAKE out of three.
There is also Scouting Ohio video, and if you loved "Christian Cullen" jumping over stuff and sort of running places, you'll love the Pace Christian edition. Yeah, I watched it. It was 33 seconds of pure bliss.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As mentioned above I'm far less concerned about the three stars here because of Pace's offers and position; also he sounds like the kind of guy who's a good fit for the reach-heavy zone read game but not likely to blow collegiate linemen off the ball, which potentially makes him more valuable to Michigan than Random College Football Program.
Pace's size all but guarantees a redshirt. From there he'll have the opportunity to compete for Steve Schilling's vacated guard slot, but with Washington and Barnum and so forth and so on the most likely scenario in which Pace finds a starting job is by winning the center melee after Molk's departure.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Pace is the first offensive lineman in the class and won't have much of an effect on Michigan's strategy going forward. Keeping the numbers level would require another three players (McAvoy, Moosman, and Ortmann graduate and Wermers have transferred), at least one of whom should be a tackle. They'd obviously like to add MN OL Seantrel Henderson and FL OL Torrian Wilson; past that there are a couple of Ohioans, Andrew Donnal and Skyler Schoefner, and a vast sea of undifferentiated offerees that will likely develop into a few serious targets.
The BBQ has borne its first meaty fruits with the commitment of OH OL Christian Pace. This was going into Tuesday Recruitin' tomorrow but I might as well put it here:
Less definitive but still promising rumors are also swirling around OH OL Christian Pace, a four-star interior lineman who made it up for the BBQ and got the "decision imminent?!?!" question-that-contains-its-own-answer premium article. This from before the BBQ looks like a hint about Pace's interest:
While Pace has yet to name a favorite, it is safe to say he is very interested in Michigan.
A Florida State visit may happen before his commitment; if it doesn't dollars to donuts he picks M.
Think David Molk here: Pace is a solid, mobile interior lineman. He's in the ESPN 150 watch list, is Rivals' #5 center (and a three star), and had good offers: Florida State, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State, Pitt, South Carolina, and Stanford amongst others. A full google-stalk will have to wait until tomorrow.