national champs baby
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($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest developments with the remaining 2013 prospects, the final Top247, Drake Harris opening up his recruitment, new 2014 offers, and more.
Done At O-Line, Unless You Count High School Freshman Derrick Green
After IN OL Dan Samuelson committed last weekend, it was unclear whether Michigan would continue recruiting offensive lineman or if they were set at six in the 2013 class. Now we have our answer:
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 16, 2013
That leaves Michigan seemingly down to two options for the last two spots in the class. The first is VA RB Derrick Green, one of many prospects (mostly 2014 recruits at this point) to receive an in-school visit from Michigan this week—in his case, Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson ($). Scout's Michael Clark penned a lengthy (and free) profile on Green, focusing on his rise from 268-pound freshman to nation's top running back [emphasis mine]:
Hermitage head coach Patrick Kane admitted he initially had his doubts about Green, who recently named Michigan as his leader, but is also still considering Auburn, Florida State, Miami,and Tennessee.
“The first time we saw him, he was eighth-grader and we were doing 7-on-7 (drills) and he came out and watched,” said Kane. “He was a little chunky at the time. He said what a lot of kids say -- I want to be a running back. We said OK, that’s fine. But in your mind, you’re thinking he’d probably be a good looking offensive guard.”
You know the story by now: Green cut down to 220 pounds and by his sophomore year was starting for Hermitage. Work ethic should not be an issue here.
Michigan's other main target is TX TE Durham Smythe, who also received a visit this week. 247's Jason Sapp caught up with Smythe to run down his five finalists—Michigan, Oregon, and Stanford lead the pack, with Nebraska and Notre Dame under consideration—and here's what he had to say about the Wolverines ($):
Michigan – “The biology/medial program at Michigan is among the best in the nation, and since that is what I want to study, that was something that draws me in about them. Also, the fact that they are making the switch to a two tight end, pro-style offense is attractive as well.”
Smythe says a decision will come on signing day or "a few days prior," and he's got visits lined up to Oregon and Michigan, with Nebraska and Notre Dame in the running for his final official.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of the final 2013 Top247, the latest on Drake Harris, and much more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Michigan's remaining 2013 targets, a surprise move in the 2014 class, and more.
Weekend Visit Recap: One Decision Down, Three To Go
TX TE Durham Smythe is back on the market and looking at Michigan
As signing day rapidly approaches, Michigan's path to closing out the 2013 class becomes more clear. Over the weekend, the Wolverines picked up IN OL Dan Samuelson, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that his decision came down to distance ($):
"It came down mostly to distance," he explained. "I shouldn't say mostly, it was completely distance. It is only about a three hour drive, Nebraska being an 11 1/2 hour drive."
With Samuelson in the fold, Michigan now has six offensive lineman committed; does that leave room for CA OL Cameron Hunt, who was also on campus over the weekend? According to Hunt, per an interview with Scout's Greg Biggins, the answer is 'yes' ($):
“The coaches told me they still had room for me,” Hunt said. “I know six offensive linemen is a lot but I’m not afraid to compete. After taking all my trips, if I feel Michigan is the best spot for me, I’ll still go there and be ready to win a job. There is going to be competition anywhere you go so that doesn’t bother me.”
Hunt went straight from his Michigan official to one at Ohio State, and also has trips lined up to Oregon and Cal (where he's still a very soft commit) before he makes his decision.
OH CB Reon Dawson, an Illinois commit, also took a Michigan official over the weekend; he told ESPN's Jared Shanker that a decision is coming soon ($):
A final decision will come Wednesday after talking with his family and his girlfriend’s mother, with whom he has a very close relationship.
“I’ve been thinking about it ... and first off, education will be big. You can get hurt on any given play and you need something to fall back on,” Dawson said. “I’ll talk to my family, and by Wednesday it’ll be done. I need a couple of days to think about this decision.”
Dawson will choose between Michigan and Illinois; given that he'll be just a few days removed from checking out Ann Arbor when he makes his choice, there's definitely reason for optimism.
That won't be the only decision coming down this week, as in-state kicker JJ McGrath tells The Big House Report that he'll choose between Michigan, LSU, and Southern Miss on Friday. McGrath doesn't hold a scholarship offer—he'd come on as a preferred walk-on—but says that he'd have the opportunity to earn one when Brendan Gibbons graduates. The Wolverines are in a strong position to land McGrath, who also was on campus last weekend.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Derrick Green and Durham Smythe, a surprise commitment to Ohio State's 2014 class, and more.]
Well, this is a new one: as broken by Patrick Kugler (and later confirmed by Steve Wiltfong), IN OL Dan Samuelson has committed to Michigan while on his official visit to Ann Arbor. Samuelson was previously a Nebraska commit, but the Wolverines became a serious contender after he took an unofficial last month. He becomes the sixth offensive lineman in the 2013 class and the 25th commit overall.
|4*, #25 OT||3*, #31 OG||3*, 75, #87 OT||3*, 89, #13 OG|
Samuelson is a three-star prospect to every service save Scout, which places him just outside their top 300 recruits (the #24 OT, Logan Tuley-Tillman, is #300 overall). All four agree that he's 6'5", with his listed weight ranging from 275 to 295 pounds—the latter figure seems more up-to-date.
Samuelson should be ticketed for guard at Michigan, but ESPN's evaluation likes his prospects better at tackle ($):
Samuelson plays effectively at the guard position showing the upper body playing strength needed to control defenders when single blocking. However his size and athleticism appears better suited for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. ... Playing out of a three point stance we see the first step quickness needed to gain and immediate advantage, however we do detect some lower body stiffness when playing in space and adjusting to change of direction movement. This lineman comes off the ball aggressively with good pad level and a solid blocking base; flashes the explosion and pop necessary to knock defenders off the ball on first contact however there is the need to follow through with consistent leg drive. Is quick out of his stance when releasing up on linebackers or pulling to trap; flashes the ability to reach on offset down linemen and get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders. Can get tossed at times needing to improve his agility and balance when playing in space.
I should say, ESPN says that they like him at tackle, then go on to talk about issues blocking in space and on the edge. Does not compute. Mentions of good pad level and second-level blocking make him sound like an ideal guard. That's certainly the impression of Scout's Bryan Munson, who scouted Sameulson after his commitment to Nebraska ($):
When you watch Samuelson’s film you see the skill and you see the ability. He’s quick for a guy his size, 6-foot-5 and around 280-pounds, and he loves to hit people. What you see when you watch Samuelson is a guy that gets onto his block and drives his guy either into the ground or 20 yards down field.
There are also some pretty good indications of strength too. While I haven’t seen any reported strength numbers specifically you can see the way that he just handles the guy that he has to block. The way that I would sum up Samuelson is simple: Big, smart, strong, dominating run-blocker with a need to develop pass-blocking skills.
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt echoes the sentiment that Samuelson plays with good pad level ($):
"I liked Dan's film," Helmholdt said when asked for his evaluation of Samuelson. "He's a guy who played offensive guard as a junior, and I don't see anything that tells me he couldn't play right tackle. So there's some versatility there. He has the potential to play probably multiple positions on the offensive line.
"He's an above average athlete for the position. He really moves his feet well. He plays with great leverage. I think that something that really stands out in his film is that he's always up underneath the pads of the defensive lineman. He just does a lot of things well. I wouldn't say there's any one thing that makes you say 'wow', he's just a well-rounded offensive line prospect."
When Scout gave Samuelson his fourth star, Allen Trieu said he's got the potential to be a multi-year starter down the road:
It seems like every year the Midwest produces tough, hard nosed linemen who get overlooked. I think Samuelson is one of those blue collar kind of guys who is going to come in, work hard, be a starter and an all-conference kind of guy, and in the past, would have been underrated. On film, he showed good footwork and once we saw more of him pass blocking, we felt confident he could be a multi-year starter in college.
Samuelson seems like a guy who could slot in at either guard spot or even right tackle; while he might not be a dominant presence, he's got a solid base and should fit into the offense as a road-grater type.
Samuelson had a Nebraska offer, of course, and prior to that commitment he was a one-time pledge to Pittsburgh. His other offers came from Bowling Green, Illinois, Miami (OH), Minnesota, Wake Forest, Western Michigan, and Wyoming.
No stats, offensive lineman.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 40 time of 5.3 seconds, which gets one FAKE out of five.
The only video I can find of Sameulson on YouTube is cutups from a single game:
You can check out film from several other individual games on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As said above, Sameulson should end up at guard when he gets to Michigan given his size and skill set. With his combination of size, fundamentals, and run-blocking skills, he should compete for a starting spot down the road, though he'll almost assuredly redshirt in 2013. He'll have a lot of competition from more highly-touted members of his own class in David Dawson and Kyle Bosch, as well as Kyle Kalis and Blake Bars in the year ahead of him, but Samuelson should provide solid depth until he gets a chance to compete for a starting job as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan should be able to take two or three more players in the class—the worry at this point is the 85 total scholarship cap, not the 25 single-class cap, since six members of the 2013 class enrolled early. It's even possible that the Wolverines take another offensive lineman in Cameron Hunt (on his official visit right now) or Dan Skipper.
The top remaining target, of course, is Derrick Green, who announced today that he'll make his decision on January 26th—Michigan is in very good position to land his commitment. OH CB Reon Dawson, another player taking his official visit this weekend, is also a candidate to take one of the last couple spots.
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's official visitors, an impending 2013 decision, updated rankings from Scout and ESPN, and more.
Weekend Officials: Hunt, Dawson
Only two non-commits—CA OL Cameron Hunt and OH CB Reon Dawson—will take official visits to Ann Arbor this weekend, but Michigan is firmly in the mix for both. Hunt has developed a strong connection with commit Patrick Kugler, who moved his own official to this weekend and will surely be giving Hunt the full-court press for a commitment—though, for now, Hunt has subsequent officials planned for Cal and Oregon with Ohio State also a possible destination.
Dawson, an Illinois commit, would join Trotwood-Madison teammate Mike McCray as a Wolverine if he decides to switch his pledge. Neither Hunt nor Dawson has stated that Michigan holds an edge, but it's conceivable that one or both could be in the fold after this weekend.
IN OL Dan Samuelson visited Michigan last month, and Steve Wiltfong reports that the Nebraska commit will choose between the Wolverines and Huskers on Monday. At first glance, it's a race between Hunt and Samuelson for the final O-line spot, but Sam Webb said this week on his radio show that it's possible Michigan takes both for a total of seven linemen in the class.
One guy Michigan's won't get: Laquon Treadwell, who will choose next Thursday between Ole Miss (the prohibitive favorite), Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
Derrick Green, meanwhile, will not be taking a visit to Auburn this weekend, per Mike Farrell—that rumor made the rounds after originating on some Auburn message boards. Michigan is still in command in his recruitment.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Denzel Ward and Da'Shawn Hand, a look at the updated Scout and ESPN rankings, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's visitors, Laquon Treadwell's top three, and more.
More To Come?
Michigan's big recruiting weekend delivered as expected, with Cass Tech teammates David Dawson and Delano Hill becoming the 23rd and 24th members of the class of 2013. Dawson is very much a known commodity, Hill less so—Josh Helmholdt caught up to the latter to get some clarity on his future position ($):
"Their plans for me are I am going to start off playing corner," Hill said. "If I don't like playing corner, I can always go back to playing safety. I think I can play all positions in the secondary, so it doesn't matter to me."
Hill played safety in high school but has also displayed impressive cover skills on the camp circuit; at 6'1", he'd give Michigan a bigger corner to line up on the outside.
The Wolverines hosted a surprise visitor last weekend in IN OL Dan Samuelson, a Nebraska commit who recently received a Michigan offer, per Allen Trieu ($). While Samuelson played it coy about his interest in Michigan, a Scout article from last week indicates that he took a big step by making this visit ($) [emphasis mine]:
“I truly didn’t go and look for another offer though. [Michigan] came to me. There is very little interest from me to Michigan. I really don’t think that I will take a visit there. Nebraska said that they would view that as a decommitment. I don’t want to do that. I believe that is where that will stay.”
I doubt the situation changed from Nebraska's end in the span of a few days; it seems likely that Samuelson has given up his spot in their class to see Ann Arbor. And now, 247's Todd Worly reported today that Samuelson's situation could be resolved imminently ($):
Looks like the Wolverines have made an impression and Samuelson plans on having everything figured out by Monday evening.
"I'm going to start calling everyone around 5 (p.m. EST), after I talk to Nebraska and figure things out with them," Samuelson said.
With the recent rumblings that Michigan could take a sixth offensive lineman, plus the above chronology, well... stay tuned.
Michigan also made an impression on another visitor committed to a Big Ten school, linebacker recruit and Wisconsin pledge Marcus Ball. Ball told Todd Worly that Michigan is "a great place," though he's waiting to see who the Badgers hire to replace Bret Bielema before making any decisions about his status with the Badgers ($). For what it's worth, Dymonte Thomas—one of many Michigan commits taking his official visit last weekend—tells Sam Webb that he thinks Ball will make the switch ($):
“I just met [Ball] this weekend, but I think he is going to commit to Michigan too,” said Thomas. “I’m not 100% sure, but I think he really liked us. We’ll see what happens.”
Man, Bielema is going to flip out about that gentleman's agree-- oh, right.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Laquon Treadwell and more.]