so much for that
It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
And now, some specifics:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Offensive Line.
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid 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 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.]
As reported by Scout's Allen Trieu, Michigan has picked up a commitment from Westland (MI) John Glenn WR Da'Mario Jones, who was previously a Central Michigan commit until getting a coveted Wolverine offer today:
"Actually, I was in my school library, and Coach Borges called and I picked up the phone and he said they gave me a full ride. I talked it over with my parents and we felt it was the best thing for me to do. I'm officially decommitted from Central Michigan."
Jones camped at Michigan, went to the BBQ at the Big House, and several games this year, but he says the relationship with the school began much earlier than that.
"Michigan is where it all started. They influenced me into playing, so it wasn't hard to the make decision based off that. We visited several times and I liked the area, the city is close to home, and everything's right."
The timing of the offer leads me to believe that picking up Jones is a response to Gareon Conley's probable decommitment and not an indication that Michigan is out of the running with IL WR Laquon Treadwell; Sam Webb believes the same. Jones is Michigan's third wide receiver pledge in the 2013 class—joining Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York—and, at least for the moment, their 23rd commitment overall.
|NR WR||NR WR||3*, 78, #77 WR||3*, 84, #151 WR|
Jones, who plays in a run-heavy attack at John Glenn, is currently very much under the radar, garnering three-star rankings from two of the four services. All four sites list him at 6'2" and between 185 and 195 pounds; with Michigan recruiting a lot of taller, bulkier wideouts, this suggests that he's destined for the slot.
There's not a whole lot out there scouting-wise on Jones, but we do get an evaluation from ESPN [emphasis mine] ($):
Jones has intriguing qualities and growth upside. He may not be a great speed guy, but is fast enough. Has a good solid frame to work with, needs to add strength, but possesses very good measurables. Shows adequate-to-good speed on tape. Has good height and arm length. Long strider that has good, but not great quickness and is pretty high cut. Has some ability to stop and start, but lacks elite explosion. ... Puts his shoulder down and fights for extra yards. Gives up his body to get the ball in traffic. ... Can be inconsistent as a catcher, shows ability to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body, but also is a body catcher. Needs to develop in this area, has ability and does not seem to fight the football. Solid route runner that can get in and out of breaks. Runs a variety of routes and is well versed in getting DBs set up one-on-one. Does a good job of coming out of speed cuts and adjusting to the football, but high cut build limits fluidity and lateral agility. Good, but not great with the ball in his hands. ... Needs to add strength and bulk to improve his blocking. Jones grows on you the more you watch him and could be a BCS/non-BCS conference level prospect.
This is pretty much what you'd expect from a sleeper recruit that eventually earns a big-time offer—decent but not spectacular physical tools, raw ability, and room to grow both physically and technically.
Tim Sullivan made it out to see Jones in action earlier this fall, coming away impressed with his effort blocking downfield and inconclusive about his receiving ability due to a lack of targets ($):
Michigan has given Jones a hard look as a backup option at wide receiver, and it's easy to see why. Though he has a reputation as a slot-type receiver, he has good height (6-2) and his 185-pound mass looks to be solidly packed onto his frame. He still showed good burst, and though he didn't have the sudden acceleration of a Steve Breaston-type, he builds up a head of steam quickly, and can change directions without losing too much of that momentum.
With the ball in his hands, Jones was able to cut in and out of traffic, and although his help up front wasn't great, he was able to grind out some yardage. He was hardly targeted as a wideout in Glenn's run-heavy offense (one reason he only holds MAC offers, despite his talent), and didn't even get a chance to show much route-running polish, either.
Jones talked about himself a little bit in the wake of camping at Michigan this summer to 247's Todd Worly ($):
“I talk to them every two weeks or so,” Jones said. “At camp, they said I run good routes, I have better ball skills, and they said I have great speed – that I can flat-out fly. I sent them my highlight tape, and they said they’re interested in it and that there are things they like. I hope they see some things they like and make a move.”
As you'll see on his tape, Jones does possess above-average speed—somewhat deceptive speed due to a long stride—and the ability to go up and get the ball in the air, though as the ESPN evaluation says he sometimes allows the ball to get into his body.
Aside from Michigan, Jones held offers from Central Michigan, Bowling Green, New Mexico, Ohio, and Toledo. Scout also lists interest but no offer from Michigan State and Penn State—he camped at MSU and took an unofficial to PSU in March, per 247.
No stats that I can find in a quick search.
FAKE 40 TIME
Jones claims a 4.47 40 time from MSU's camp and a 4.50 at Ohio State, as well as a 10.9-second 100-meter dash ($). The 100 time is more believable than the 40 time to me, since his top-end speed looks better than his off-the-line acceleration. I'll give the 4.47 a four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights:
Extensive senior highlights can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones is the only receiver in this class who looks like he could find a home in the slot. Since the only other slot receivers slated to be on the roster next year—Jeremy Gallon and The Threat—will both be seniors, Jones could find himself with a role early on in his career. With Gallon and Dileo around in 2013 and Jones needing a fair amount of development, I expect him to take a redshirt year, but after that he should have a shot to see the field. Much will depend on the direction Al Borges takes the offense post-Denard (or post-Gardner); if he goes to more two-TE sets with a lot of Funchess in the slot, which is expected, Jones may have a very limited role. If more spread elements remain, however, we could see him a fair amount moving forward.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As said above, this is likely a reaction to the impending loss of Gareon Conley—who, while committed as a corner, may have had a chance to switch to wide receiver—and not a backup plan for missing out on Laquon Treadwell. As such, Michigan will continue to heavily pursue Treadwell, VA RB Derrick Green, and FL DB Leon McQuay III—the ideal Conley replacement—as well as an offensive lineman to take the spot formerly held by David Dawson.
Today's recruiting roundup covers MSU visit reactions, a friendly bet between a future Wolverine and a future Buckeye, how not to deal with the Dawson decommitment, and more.
Visit Reactions: Positive (Surprise!)
The overall ugliness of the Michigan-MSU game wasn't enough to dampen the excitement of visitors to the Big House, even when you put aside Denzel Ward's pre-game commitment. In fact, Ward could be joined sooner or later on the 2014 offensive line by four-star FL lineman Mason Cole, who said this to 247's Todd Worly ($, info in header):
“I liked everything about it,” Cole said. “Just the atmosphere and everything. It just feels like home. Just the coaching staff and Ann Arbor.”
When asked where Michigan stands, Cole stated that they're "really high" on his list—impressive considering an offer list that includes USC, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, and Notre Dame.
GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz caught up with Cass Tech junior CB Damon Webb, who normally plays things close to the vest but had high praise for the visit ($):
“This time when I was up at Michigan it was different,” Webb told GoBlueWolverine. “The crowd was more live. Other Michigan games it wasn’t really this big, but I was really impressed by this visit.”
“It helped a lot,” added Webb.
Top 2013 target VA RB Derrick Green:
Derrick Green responded one word on how visit is going so far at #Michigan -- "great"
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) October 21, 2012
I have to think—given the poor seasons of Auburn and Tennessee—that Michigan is in the driver's seat for Green at this point.
While IL WR Laquon Treadwell was unable to make the trip—I'm a broken record on this subject, so react as you will (sorry, mods)—the Wolverines did host a pair of 2013 prospects currently committed elsewhere. Westland John Glenn WR Da'Mario Jones (CMU commit) was in the Big House for the second straight week, telling Tim Sullivan($) that "it was probably one of the hypest games that I've been to." Scout's Simone Scott posted on The Victors Board($) that Pickerington (OH) North RB Godwin Igwebuike—Northwestern commit and HS teammate of Jake Butt—was also in attendance, though it sounds like he just took the opportunity to catch a game with his friend and teammate. Both Jones and Igwebuike could be backup options should the Wolverines miss out on Treadwell and Green.
Michigan even made waves in the 2015 class, especially with their first offered prospect, KY RB Damien Harris. Harris has spent the season putting up video game numbers after camping in Ann Arbor over the summer; he came away from the visit in awe of the stadium atmosphere, according to TomVH ($):
“I’d say that Michigan was already on top, but it just moved them up even more for me because that’s definitely the type of atmosphere I’d like to play in,” he said. “That makes me want to go there even more. To know that the fans are that into the game, it definitely moved them up.”
Harris added that he couldn't "put it into words how amazing it really was," so yeah, that went well. He's a potential five-star who's already getting serious national attention, and it's safe to say the Wolverines are leading the way right now. It's worth noting that his mother accompanied him on the visit, as well.
The Cass Tech pipeline could continue, meanwhile, in the form of sophomore DE Joshua Alabi, who told 247's Todd Worly that he wants to stay close to home ($):
“Everyone around you is family, so if I could go there, I would,” Alabi said. “I’ve been to Michigan already, and if I could stay home, I would. I don’t want to leave home if I don’t have to. I’d just stay in Michigan.”
Alabi is an impressive young prospect who already stands at 6'5", 245 lbs.; while he doesn't have an offer yet, he's a candidate down the road, and it sounds like Michigan would be in a very good position to land him.
For more visit reaction, Tremendous has you covered.
[Mike McCray throws down the gauntlet against Cam Burrows, a roundup of last weekend's high school action, and more after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Michael Ferns' touching gesture for a teammate, Derrick Green's latest visit plans, updates on a few key 2014 targets, and more.
Michael Ferns, Extremely Decent Human Being
Grab your Zyrtec and tissues, because pollen levels are about to get unusually high. This Facebook post, along with the above picture, made the rounds earlier this week regarding 2014 Michigan commit Michael Ferns:
"Teammates. In one of the most unselfish acts I can ever recall in high school sports, last Friday in St. Clairsville's game at Edison High School, No. 10 Michael Ferns took off on a 52 yard run and intentionally ran out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Logan Thompson, No. 17, took it from there...Thompson, who had lost his father, Paul on Wednesday of last week, was then handed the ball and ran through a giant hole to score in his father's memory. This pic was shot after Logan's TD run behind the St. C. bench. Please excuse the lack of complete clarity, but I think I might have been a little shaky... Thanks, Michael and Logan for sharing the moment and for teaching what it means to be a Teammate!~ God's Speed, Paul Thompson!~"
Sports, man; they can really bring out the best in people. Tremendous caught up with Ferns to get a few more details, and you really get an impression of just what kind of quality young man the Wolverines have committed to their 2014 class [emphasis mine]:
"It was a pretty tough week. Everything happened so unexpectedly and after we found out what happened, we knew we had to do what we could as a team to try to ease the pain; at least for a moment. We weren't really sure the opportunity was actually going to arise, but I pretty much made it my mission to get us into position to do it. Late in the game, I took a 23-iso up the middle and broke it. I immediately angled towards the sidelines and went out of bounds at the 1. Logan was on the sidelines and I don't think he knew what was going on. Coach called him to go in. I played fullback on the play and helped lead him into the endzone. After we got back onto the sidelines, I gave him a hug and told him I was proud of him. That's what I like about my team: we will do anything for each other. As a group, we'll help out anyone else on the team in any way we can".
The next time someone tells you sports contribute nothing to society, feel free to pass along that story (also, feel free to disassociate with that person entirely, because they sound like a total drag).
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Gareon Conley, Derrick Green, a potential backup plan at wide receiver, and a few 2014 prospects.]