[The Mott practice this year was not a punting exhibition (at which my internal monologue went WOOOOOO) so there are a few things to discuss.]
The biggest takeaway. Devin Gardner took zero QB snaps and was on the first team as a WR. I think they moved him full-time. Swingin' for the fences.
Gardner didn't do anything spectacular in his limited opportunities, dropping one long ball and not quite bringing in a high hard one, but he certainly looks the part. Seeing him in 12 is still weird, and now Dileo is 9, and if I was Brady Hoke I'd be all like "you get one number and that is your number" but he might have different priorities. Maybe.
Devin Funchess. As first impressions go… wow. He is lanky and doesn't look like he'll be much use as a blocker early, but man is that guy a big target. Looks all of 6'5" and has freaky long arms. He was the only TE to get targeted in their kind-of-actually-playing segment; he caught a touchdown on a corner route (it got raked out but after the catch was secured) and was targeted on a late-release wheel route. If he can catch, he is going to crush Mandich's TE receiving record.
Not a whole lot to decide. I expected to have a blizzard of things to try and figure out but when the first team defense came out in a nickel package I was like "oh, right, they return basically everyone." Other than the line, there were zero surprises except for a couple of Mario Ojemudia WDE cameos.
On offense, it was "is Mealer starting" and "OMG Gardner"… and that was it. Consistency is good.
DL starting Washington? This is tentative, but the first DL set they ran out there was Roh-Washington-Campbell-Black. (IE: Washington at the nose, Campbell at the three-tech.) Beyer also showed up at WDE; Brink was the backup SDE.) Apparently Jerry Montgomery told someone that those guys were the starters as of this instant, but I can't find it. People are talking about it on message boards like it's a real thing, though.
Anyway: they showed the usual nickel package where they lifted the nose tackle types and moved the SAM down to DE and the heavy package where both SAM linebackers are in the game. All was as expected except for a couple snaps in a dime package that they didn't show at all last year.
[UPDATE: Ace points out that this comes from Tom Dienhart's BTN coverage.]
James Ross. Ross was your backup WLB, which isn't much of a surprise with Poole and Ringer hurt. He'll play.
Richard Ash. I kept an eye out for Ash as I'm hoping he can give Michigan some snaps as a rotation DT after he made a couple of nice plays in the spring game. He didn't get in much, if at all, but he certainly looks a lot better conditioned. He used to look like a battleship that had no chance of moving; now he looks relatively trim.
Mealer started. Your first team LG was Mealer.
Chris Wormley. Hasn't had surgery yet for whatever reason.
No Rawls. No idea why. They ran some passing stuff with Justice Hayes that seemed to work pretty well, and did the Vincent Smith throwback screen that always works.
It was good to see football. You're just sitting in the stadium and there's actual snaps being taken in front of you and your lizard brain is going FOOTBALL FOOTBALL FOOTBALL and you're like "I know exactly how you feel, lizard brain."
Heiko takes. Are on the board. FWIW, they ran that hook and ladder a dozen times last year. I think it's just for show.
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, and TE AJ Williams.
|Farmington Hills, MI – 6'5", 229|
|Scout||4*, #8 TE, #221 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #14 TE, #9 MI|
|ESPN||4*, #5 TE, #3 MI|
|24/7||4*, #10 TE, #8 MI|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Nebraska, Missouri, Virginia, Illinois|
|YMRMFSPA||A less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner, or Kevin Koger|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Ace scouts Harrison against Brother Rice and Cass Tech.|
|Notes||Farmington Hills Harrison(Ojemudia)|
All kind of highlights from all the years:
He's also in the Cass Tech vs Farmington footage Ace got:
Has a hudl page.
Michigan's other tight end in the class of 2012 is as much of an outlier as their first—quasi-OL AJ Williams—but in the opposite direction. Farmington Hills Harrison's Devin Funchess is essentially a large wide receiver right now, a 6'5", 230 pounder who needs to fill out before he'll be able to block anybody but promises to outmatch any linebacker who is unfortunate enough to be put in one-on-one coverage with him.
To give you an idea of the kind of player we're talking about here:
- Touch The Banner compares him to Ben Troupe, the former Florida TE who received his way to All-American status as a "wide receiver with a tight end frame."
- TTB then follows that up with a "Carson Butler but sane" comparison, which is kind of like comparing someone to "Vincent Smith but tall."
- 247 goes with former Texas ball-vacuum Jermichael Finley, who entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore year and put up a 4.6 at 242 pounds.
He's a flex TE, a standup outside guy who can jump-ball a corner or outrun a linebacker or flip sides of the line and gamely fend off a linebacker maybe (but probably not yet).
The trick with these guys is having them get up to a weight where they can block a linebacker while still being faster than that guy, and that's hard to predict. Funchess has a shot at it, though. Multiple scouting reports project that he will easily hit the 240-250 pound range that most of the splashy NFL tight ends mentioned above end up at. Josh Helmholdt:
…has a frame that will easily allow him to play at 240 pounds - or heavier - in college without losing any of his speed or athleticism. He has an impressive presence running down the middle of the field and is a big, inviting target for his quarterback. A long and rangy athlete, Funchess is very fluid in his movements and has great ball skills.
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.' "
…and then mentioned that Funchess weighed all of 210—eight pounds less than WR Amara Darboh—at the game. He's listed at 229 on Michigan's roster, which seems like one of the more dubious weights available this time around.
ESPN liked him a lot, placing him just outside their top 150($):
…a kid who will contribute best as a pass catcher. He has very good hands and consistently uses those long arms to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. He displays very good body control and concentration to be able to adjust to the ball and make the catch in traffic. His height makes him a nice sized target, but he will also go up and high-point the ball which can make him a tough match-up for smaller defenders and potentially a nice target in the red-zone. He is not a kid that displays elite top end speed to run away from defenders and is a kid who seems to need to build speed, but he does have long strides and can cover some ground when runs and can help stretch the middle of the field.
He's an athlete who can get up. I mean…
…if NFL tight ends are now 6'5" Brent Petways, check. When Rivals caught him at the Midwest Showcase, the power forward reference came out:
The football does not melt into Funchess' hands quite the way it does for [Ron] Thompson, but the Farmington Hills Harrison product showed an unmatched level of athleticism. His background in basketball is apparent, especially when he is battling defenders for jump balls. Funchess goes up for a pass like a power forward pulling down a rebound, and at 6-4 with an impressive vertical, there are few defensive backs who will challenge him.
A couple of Funchess's catches from the International Bowl were balls that would have been filed "Tacopants" if thrown to a Martavious Odoms or even a Roy Roundtree. Check out 1:20 below for a McGuffie attempt that gets major air, and 2:00 for back-to-back catches that demonstrate how big of a target the kids is:
Funchess impressed Ace in limited opportunities to make a catch:
Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass… ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
At worst he'll be a hell of a security blanket. He could be a guy announcers call a "weapon."
Funchess might be as different from AJ Williams as it is possible for one tight end to be from another, but together they further reinforce two themes, one a flipping obvious Brady Hoke goal, the other an admittedly speculative but exciting guess at how Al Borges sees his offense in three or four years.
The flipping obvious bit: Michigan is going to be big. They're going to be big on the line, they're going to be big at tight end and have a number of tight ends, they're going to have big wide receivers. While Funchess is not big for a tight end, as a second tight end or a spread TE he makes Michigan's formations big.
The admittedly speculative bit is something first broached in the Williams piece: having guys like Funchess and Williams and Jake Butt and Khalid Hill plus fullbacks and spread backs like Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet allows you to whipsaw defenses back and forth between radically different formations, to poke at defensive weaknesses, to give your offense the sort of unpredictable variety that's made Boise State and Stanford so difficult to defend in recent years. Funchess makes you versatile($)…
… a kid that lines up at tight end, he lines up in the slot, he lines up at wide receiver… He does a lot of motion. He does a lot of things offensively, but also plays defense - kind of a defensive end/outside linebacker. He's very versatile, does a lot of things and is very athletic. He's got great size. He's a nice young man to have on your football team."
…and Michigan wants to use that($):
"Michigan told me today that they were talking just last night about different formations they could put me in," Funchess said. "When I came up there today, they were telling me how they could spread me out and use me as a stand-up receiver."
Increasingly, the meaning of "pro-style" offense is "whatever works against you (except running the quarterback)." See Tom Brady's shotgun-mad Patriots offense morphing into Tom Brady's dual-TE Patriots offense, or Drew Brees hitting Darren Sproles in space, or the Detroit Lions saying "huh, Megatron." Funchess is a key part of that kind of approach.
I involuntarily wince when I hear Michigan coaches talk about a pro-style offense because the last time that was in place around here the offensive coordinator literally ran the same #$*@ing play at the beginning of every game, but watching old SDSU tapes reassures.
Etc.: Thirty Devins agree: "we love bucket hats." Fun with chess! Someone once called him "The Funchise." I'm not sure if that's awful or something we should steal so hard. Tremendous interview. Drew Henson($) says "wow, first impression, looks like the real deal" and "will be an instant mismatch on LBs," whether underneath or vertically.
Why a less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner or Kevin Koger? Why tight ends went to Ohio State under Jim Tressel was unclear. Well, not that unclear: they went to win, and to block. And do nothing at all else. Stoneburner is the most recent example of a lanky, leaping tight end in the league, even if he is an amazingly underused weapon half of his 14 catches last year—more impressive when you consider that tied him for #1 amongst OSU receivers last year—went for touchdowns.
As for Koger, Funchess comes in with about the same hype and athleticism—Koger speared a couple of incredible catches in his time. Funchess will hopefully be less prone to dropping the easy ones.
The NFL guys listed above are also pretty good comparables but Michigan has not had a guy with his combination of receiving skills and athleticism in a long time. Maybe Jerame Tuman, maybe Bennie Jopppru but neither of those guys seemed to have the leaping; Koger didn't have the catching skills; Massaquoi didn't have the athleticism. Funchess could turn into any of those, really, but I don't think Michigan will be as crappy at throwing productive bulk onto big athletes these days as they were in the mid-aughts.
Guru Reliability: High. They all basically say the same thing.
Variance: Moderate. Going from 210-229 to a rippling 240-250 is always a process that leaves some exciting high school athletes plodding shells of their former selves. Other than that, seems good to go.
Ceiling: High. NFL potential is clear.
General Excitement Level: High. Poised to be Michigan's most productive TE since the waggle days, not only because of the shift in offense but because of his flexibility. He can play in big sets, spread sets, regular sets, etc. A ton of playing time beckons from day one.
Projection: The idea of a TE redshirt is fanciful, especially with Michigan hurting for receiving depth. He'll play. At first that will probably be in the redzone, where big sets are common and his length and leaping ability will make him an attractive target in crowded goal-line endzones. Will also feature as a Koger-esque H-back between the 20s.
Likely to be a four-year starter, or starter-ish type player in the vein of Courtney Avery, who may not "start" but plays just as much as anyone else on the defense not named Kovacs. I wouldn't put it past him to challenge Jim Mandich's all time TE receiving yardage (1489) given the situation he finds himself in.
This edition of the recruiting roundup welcomes a new 2013 commit, takes a look at 2012 preferred walk-on Dan Gibbs, and discusses a bevy of new junior offers. As always, you're encouraged to email me or hit me up on the twitters with any recruiting tips or news you'd like to see in the next roundup.
Hello: Dan Gibbs
Michigan may not have landed Jordan Diamond or, at least for now, Alex Kozan, but they did manage to pick up a 6'7", 305-pound offensive lineman this week. Birmingham Seaholm's Dan Gibbs accepted a preferred walk-on spot over offers from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and several Ivy League schools. Gibbs is a Michigan lifer and is ranked as a three-star by Scout (#97 OT) and 24/7 (#121 OT) and a two-star by Rivals (NR) and ESPN (#109 OG). He has the versatility to play either guard or tackle at the next level, and it's always nice to pull in a walk-on who had D1 scholarship offers. You can see his senior highlight tape above, and here is ESPN's evaluation ($):
Gibbs is a tough inline blocker who can maul defenders when run blocking; also flashes the explosion and playing strength to knock defenders off the ball when single blocking. Has great size with good athleticism for the offensive guard position at the major level of competition. It appears his frame is very capable on handling additional body mass. We like this guys toughness; comes off the ball aggressive and hard but a little too high at times; must work to lower his pad level on initial contact. Appears to bave some lower body stiffness however we are impressed with his ability to get out of his stance when asked to pull and trap, locating defenders on the move while demonstrating good balance and agility; plays on his feet well in space. Although this prospect is more of a mauler than one who consistently knocks defenders off the line of scrimmage we are impressed with his ability to get movement when single blocking; is a nasty tough finisher who is capable of putting defenders on their backs. If he is to successfully reach for leverage and consistently get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders we see the need to improve initial quickness, first step and pad level. His long arms should be an asset in pass protection; is not heavy legged playing in the center/guard box, flashing the ability to bend and slide his feet. We do feel he plays too tall and must improve his overall balance and base when pass blocking. All areas of hand use will need refinement although we see flashes of strong initial punch and extension.
Gibbs is a developmental prospect, to be sure. His size and physicality should be a great asset on the practice field, however, and he's got the potential to become an in-game contributor down the road.
In more from the class of 2012, four Michigan signees—Devin Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross—suited up for Team USA in the International Bowl. Although they fell to the World Team, 35-29, the future Wolverines impressed, especially Funchess, who hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass ($):
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," [Team USA coach Steve] Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.'
Funchess appears to be in line to take a redshirt year as he works on adding that bulk. After that, he could turn into a very dangerous receiver from that TE/H-back hybrid spot. For highlights of each Michigan commit in the International Bowl, check out MGoVideo—a big thanks to Josh (aka MaizeNBlueJ) for putting those together.
Speaking of Funchess, his senior highlight tape is now available on YouTube. Also releasing senior film is DL Matt Godin; he does a very impressive job of getting skinny and shedding blocks to work his way into the backfield:
Quickly: Greg Mattison was named the Big Ten Recruiter of the Year by Scout and also earned top-25 status nationally on Rivals. 24/7 released their Big Ten superlatives—Ondre Pipkins is one of three players tabbed for immediate impact and the Wolverines have more players (10) on the All-Big Ten team than any other school (Ohio State has seven, Wisconsin two, while Minnesota, MSU, and Nebraska each have one). AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke discusses the importance of tight ends in recruiting with Al Borges and Darrell Funk. Stephen J. Nesbitt writes a feature in the Daily on Pipkins and Willie Henry. TTB Andrew interviews Amara Darboh.
Welcome: Khalid Hill
Recruits come in pairs, right? Michigan not only landed Gibbs yesterday, but they got a jump-start on tight end recruiting for 2013 when they pulled in Detroit Crockett's Khalid Hill. You can read the full "Hello" post here. Hill—who committed on the spot after getting his offer on an unofficial visit yesterday—is another life-long Michigan fan, offering up this fantastic quote to Allen Trieu in the aftermath of his commitment ($):
"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."
I'll give Khalid the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not a South Park reference. Hill also told 24/7 that, upon receiving a verbal offer from Brady Hoke in his office, he immediately accepted and gave the coach a "big hug." He also carries a 4.0 GPA and plans to major in Engineering; this is definitely a commitment worth celebrating. Hill's high school coach shed some light on his future role in a free Scout article:
"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."
He'll do the same for the Wolverines, but also fill a couple of other roles as well.
"It's a tight end/H-Back kind of deal. He's a utility guy, who will be motioning from fullback, get work done in the slot. They'll move him around a lot. They sat him down and told him how they're going to use him. They said he'd do a lot of what Kevin Koger did last year."
That hybrid role makes sense for Hill, a solid athlete who's a little short for the traditional tight end role at 6'2".
Another 2013 tight end, Pickerington (OH) North's Jake Butt—an early four-star to 24/7 who holds a scholarship offer from the Wolverines—has Michigan as his top school ($):
"Michigan is definitely my leading school right now, by far… it’s not even close,” he reported. “Their coaches are showing me a lot of attention. I have been up to the campus twice and loved it there, and seemed to grow a great relationship with coach (Jerry) Montgomery who is my recruiting coordinator. I already had five (Michigan) coaches come down to school to see me, so that is big. They are telling me I am their leading tight end on the board."
Butt doesn't have a concrete decision date in mind, but he's looking to wrap things up before the start of next football season. If he does, it looks like Michigan will be tough to beat.
Meanwhile, Logan Tuley-Tillman was at Yost on Saturday and plans to return to Ann Arbor this weekend—his fifth visit, and he's hoping to bring his mother along with him—but there's a minor change atop his leaderboard. While the Wolverines were at one point alone at number one, they're now joined by Alabama after Tuley-Tillman visited Tuscaloosa for their Junior Day ($).
Quickly: Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis is excited by his recent Michigan offer, but has not yet settled on a timeline while he's playing through basketball season ($). Magnus has a thorough preview of 2013 in-state recruiting over at TTB. He also takes a look at the early scholarship numbers and breaks down Michigan's needs by position. Chantel Jennings does the same—plus identifies some key early targets—over at WolverineNation ($).
Just when I think I'm going to be able to sum up Michigan's list of offers in something other than bullet form, they seemingly extend scholarships to half of the free world. Here's what I pulled together since the last recruiting update:
- Tampa (FL) Wharton CB Vernon Hargreaves III now has a Michigan offer listed. He's a five-star prospect to 24/7 and their #7 overall player in the class; all the major in-state schools have also offered and his father coaches at USF, so he'll be a very difficult pull out of the Sunshine State.
- Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray earned offers from Michigan and Oklahoma within the past week ($). The Top247 and ESPNU 150 prospect says those two schools plus Illinois, Tennessee, and Purdue stand out early in the process, but expect Ohio State to become a major factor if (more likely when) they offer.
- Michigan offered four-star Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard, though he's favoring Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Rutgers early ($).
- Centerville (OH) OL Evan Lisle becomes the latest standout Midwest lineman to earn an offer ($).
- I forgot to include him last week, but CB Ryan White became the third Louisville (KY) Trinity prospect to receive a Wolverine offer, joining teammates James Quick (WR) and Jason Hatcher (DE). White told Scout that he plans on visiting Ann Arbor at some point ($).
- The Wolverines offered another wide receiver in Cretin-Derham Hall (MN) standout James Onwualu ($), who plans on visiting within the next couple of weeks.
- Philadelphia (PA) William Penn OT Mike McGlinchey received a Michigan offer last week ($). He's a four-star prospect to 24/7 early in the process.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones now boasts offers from Michigan and his hometown Bearcats.
- Rivals.com's Adam Gorney reports that Michigan also offered Stockton (CA) Lincoln RB Justin Davis.
There are a couple of happy trails to report as well. Toledo Central Catholic DB Jayme Thompson chose West Virginia over Michigan and Notre Dame last week; it's unclear whether or not he had a commitable offer, though I don't believe he did. He's a player to keep an eye on should the Wolverines decide to continue pursuing him. Finally, while Michigan hadn't extended an offer, they had displayed some interest in Flint Carman Ainsworth RB Gerald Holmes, who chose Michigan State on Sunday.
I'm baaaaack. Didn't miss a thing, right? Oh, yeah, THAT. Signing day has come and gone, and while Michigan is still in on a couple of prospects, today's roundup will focus on the endless fluff pieces on Michigan commits, the flood of new offers for 2013 recruits, and the search for the real Fred Jackson.
Hoke By First-Round KO
Bob Wojnowski is one of the best on the Michigan beat, but I couldn't help but snicker at the headline of his post-NSD column:
Backyard recruiting brawl is back on between Michigan, Michigan State
After Michigan pulled in seven of Rivals's top ten in-state prospects, leaving Sparty with academic question mark Aaron Burbridge, I imagine that brawl going a little like this:
Yes, I know Wojo didn't write the headline. In fact, I'm hoping this a wonderfully back-handed way of saying that it's back to "Big Two, Little (Rest of B1G)" status [emphasis mine]:
There's nothing more emotional than Michigan-Michigan State and Michigan-Ohio State games. But now all three programs are fighting on familiar ground, while other Big Ten heavyweights have issues.
Michigan State's familiar ground: Lurking under the table for the in-state scraps while Ohio State poaches their top commits. Things just feel so wonderfully right now, don't they? They should: Michigan finished with a class that ranked #6 on Rivals, #4 on Scout, #7 on ESPN, and #8 on 24/7, and while Ohio State did come out on top in the conference recruiting rankings, anyone who expected different when the Buckeyes hired Urban Meyer was kidding themselves. Also, they oversigned, so the moral high-ground remains ours. Never forget how important that is to maintaining our conference-best arrogance.
Sam Webb took a look at five recruits—Joe Bolden, Kyle Kalis, Ondre Pipkins, A.J. Williams, and Chris Wormley—who could have an immediate impact on the field in 2012. Most of the article is stuff you've seen before, but Scout's Dave Berk had some especially high praise for Bolden:
"I thought he was the best linebacker in the state of Ohio for two years now," said Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk. "He has a high football IQ. A lot of times we say that about guys that don't have athletic ability, but Joe has the athletic ability to go with it. He has got great physical size and he can go sideline to sideline. He can be an outside backer or he can be a middle backer. He is a playmaker. … I think Ohio State and Notre Dame whiffed on that one."
Okay, I really just wanted a quote that knocked OSU and ND. I doubt you mind.
Somebody Save Fred Jackson from the Pirates, Please
This cannot be the real Fred Jackson. There is clearly an imposter masquerading as the King of Hyperbole ($):
Late addition Dennis Norfleet also comes in listed as a running back, but Jackson noted that at 5-7, 170, he's not as suited to every-down back duty in this offense.
"I'm not too sure about his overall ability as a back," Jackson said. "He's more of a utility kind of guy. He's not a guy who is going to go in and play like a Drake, or a [Thomas] Rawls, or guys like that, with that size. He's more of a utility guy that can help you in a lot of ways.
Jackson wasn't quick to jump on the notion of Norfleet as the next Vincent Smith, either, given what Smith has already proven.
"I know you know what I think about Vincent Smith," Jackson assured. "That's saying a lot. Vincent Smith, to me, is pound-for-pound, probably the toughest guy on our football team. I don't know if you can say a guy is going to be like that. I'd hope he could eventually get that way."
Until Jackson describes Norfleet as "Darren Sproles with the wings of an angel and the feet of a young Michael Jackson," I'm going to assume he's been captured by Somali pirates, whom he's currently convincing are the greatest pirates since the days of Bluebeard.
Imposter Fred Jackson did manage to sign seven of the eight players he targeted while recruiting the state of Michigan for the first time this year (all held MSU offers, by the way) en route to being named one of 24/7's top 50 recruiters for this year's class, joining Greg Mattison on the list. At least Imposter Fred Jackson can still recruit.
The Wolverine released an endless series of profiles on class of 2012 commits—all behind paywalls, of course, because knowing Ben Braden played hockey is premium info, y'all—and perhaps the most interesting is the profile of Kyle Kalis, who's got a sensitive side when he's not bashing defenders into the ground ($):
"Kyle is not a kid you can stereotype. He has a myriad of friends, all types of kids," he said. "As an artist, he's tremendous. Some of his work, if you saw it, you'd be really impressed. With the guitar, he didn't take lessons … he taught himself. I believed he played it a little for Coach [Greg] Mattison when he came for a visit.
"Kyle is a young man with intangibles. So often we just want to measure these kids on their grades and test scores, but there is so much more to our personalities and who we are than that, and Kyle epitomizes what you want out of a well-rounded individual."
If the painting at right is any indication, Kalis also likes the Rolling Stones. No word on whether he's more of a Let It Bleed/Beggars Banquet guy or an Exile on Main St. fan. In actual football-related news, Kalis is unsure whether he'll be a guard or a tackle for the Wolverines—according to him, Hoke is giving Kalis the chance to choose between right tackle and right guard once he gets onto campus and has a few practices under his belt. If Michigan doesn't land Jordan Diamond (announcing at 8pm EST tonight), the need for depth at tackle may be too great for him to land at guard, at least for this year.
Quickly: For the last time, A.J. Williams is a tight end, though he'll fill the role of the 'Y' position—blocking TE—while Devin Funchess will play the 'U,' a TE/WR/FB hybrid ($); Erik Magnuson considers himself a good luck charm after visiting for the Notre Dame and Ohio State games ($); ESPN video of Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross, all former members of the youth football Westside Cubs who have now been reunited as Wolverines.
This is probably the last time I'll have a section called "2013 Notes," since now we're officially in the class of 2013 recruiting cycle. The initial ESPN U 100 ($) was released on signing day and it's littered with Michigan targets. Tom has a full breakdown over on ESPN Insider, but Shane Morris was indeed awarded five-star status, Dymonte Thomas got four stars, and the Wolverines are recruiting eight five-stars—TE Adam Breneman, CB Kendall Fuller, LB Michael Hutchings, S Leon McQuay, OL Ethan Pocic, OL Jake Raulerson (who just committed to Texas), OL Laremy Tunsil, and DT Greg Webb—and 18 four-stars from the list.
Michigan sent out a ton of offers this past week, so I'll summarize in bullet form:
- Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis, who got his "dream offer" from the Wolverines ($). I'm a big fan of Lewis after seeing him three times this past year, and it's quite possible he could be the next junior to commit.
- That is, if Lewis isn't beaten to the punch by Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes, who named Michigan as his top school after receiving his offer ($).
- Columbus Bishop Hartley's Jacob Matuska is the third TE to be offered by Michigan ($), joining Adam Breneman and Jake Butt.
- Indianapolis North Central OL Darius Latham, 24/7 #67 overall prospect, was offered by Michigan and Tennessee recently ($).
- Lincoln Way-West (IL) OL Colin McGovern becomes another standout Illinois lineman to receive an offer, and Allen Trieu has a free article that's well worth a read.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones picked up offers from Michigan and Indiana ($), joining Cincinnati among his early offers.
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel, another top-100 prospect to 24/7, grabbed a Wolverine offer ($). He's already visited Ann Arbor twice and is considering taking a visit on the 18th.
- Two more players added M offers: Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge WR Rob Wheelwright and Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison DE Michael McCray, according to 24/7 ($).
In other news, quickly: Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt named Michigan, Stanford, Northwestern, Maryland, and Tennessee as his early top five ($); Logan Tuley-Tillman will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($); Allen Trieu takes a look at some of the emerging juniors and sophomores, many of whom are being recruited by the Wolverines.
Kozan vision quest. No one really knows, but my "Kozan" twitter search turned this up:
"Empty-handed I entered the world, Barefoot I leave it. My coming, my going -- Two simple happenings, That got entangled." - Kozan Ichikyo
Depending on who you listen to, Iowa is out or Michigan is out or Auburn is out. My favorite is this guy:
He's a a high school sports editor for the Denver Post and a huge fan of David Mayo. He also starts every tweet with "Yo." Serious:
Yo: Still waiting on Alex Kozan, Valor Christian, taking his time and hoping to make the right move. Folks are interested.
A bit earlier he said this:
Yo: High drama, indeed ...as of now, Valor Christian's Alex Kozan still deciding between Michigan and Iowa, meeting w/prep coach.
OTOH, Auburn insider buzz is confident. Nobody knows! We'll just have to see what spirit totem Kozan comes back with. I give Auburn the edge because they've got two potential totems.
|Touted Recruits||Head To Head||Signee Rankings [Rivals]|
|2010||1||3||3||2||2||2, 11, 12, 22||1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 24, 28|
|2011||3||1||2||2||2||4, 5, 6, 7, 19, 25||1, 9, 10, 14, 26|
|2012||5||2||1||6||1?||3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 21||1, 7, 13, 28|
(MSU H2H wins: Maybe Aaron Burbridge, though M seem to have passed because of grades. M: Ross, RJS, Braden, Funchess, Godin, Ojemudia. Technically Norfleet is also a dual offeree but that's stretching it.
"Touted" == got four stars on at least two of four sites.)
This goes here.
User "grsbmd" for the win.
AJ Williams interviewed. Nice hat.
I'll play too. Top five IMPACTFUL IMPACTORS have been put out by everyone and their uncle, so here's my list in two groups.
INSTANTLY IMPACTFUL IMPACTORS
- Ondre Pipkins
- AJ Williams
- Amara Darboh
- Chris Wormley
- Joe Bolden
- Ondre Pipkins
- Joe Bolden
- Kyle Kalis
- Devin Funchess
- Jehu Chesson
Sam Webb put out an instantly impactful list with Bolden, Kalis, Pipkins, Williams, and Wormley. I think Kalis will have to wait a year before starting, and Michigan's going to give their WR recruits a shot to impress them. That article has a lot of tantalizing quotes, by the way. BAM:
"I thought [Bolden] was the best linebacker in the state of Ohio for two years now," said Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk. "He has a high football IQ. A lot of times we say that about guys that don't have athletic ability, but Joe has the athletic ability to go with it. He has got great physical size and he can go sideline to sideline. He can be an outside backer or he can be a middle backer. He is a playmaker. … I think Ohio State and Notre Dame whiffed on that one."
Allen Trieu and Tim(!) Sullivan provided lists focused on the best players once the class is done. Both pick Bolden, Kalis, and Pipkins. Trieu then goes with Ben Braden(!) and James Ross; Tim goes with Chesson and Wormley. The Funchess will dominate all. It's the bucket hat.
Best established meme. Thirty Devins agree:
WE LOVE BUCKET HATS. (L to R: Terry Richardson, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Devin Funchess, James Ross. Via USA Football.)
Kalis location. For now, still tackle:
"Coach Hoke has already let me know, depending on what kind of shape I come into camp in the summer, when I start getting into the groove of things and put the pads on, he's going to let me decide whether I feel more comfortable at the right tackle or right guard spot. It all depends in how I come in and how I feel."
Given Michigan's depth chart at tackle—there is no depth chart at tackle—it may make sense to give Kalis every opportunity to win the right tackle job from Schofield. If he does, Schofield can stay at guard. If he doesn't he's as prepared as possible to sub in in the event one of the starters is sidelined. Even if his long term future is at guard as the most college-ready lineman in the class Michigan has a crying need for him at tackle in 2012, whether it's as a backup or a starter.
Norfleet geared up. Via the social medias:
Happy the guy managed to get an offer he clearly wanted, even if he had to wait for it. I'm betting he'll make that pay off for both himself and M. Hopefully Smith transfers his blitz pickup mojo to him this year.
Dinardo on Kalis. He likes him:
"I don't remember seeing many better high school offensive linemen than Kalis," DiNardo said on the Big Ten Football Report. "Alan Faneca, who played for me at LSU, an All-Pro for a long-time, was a great high school, great college, and great pro player. (Kalis) reminds me of Faneca."
Four years. Excellent PR move by the Big Ten to move en masse to four year scholarships:
Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Ohio State and several other schools have offered four-year scholarships to prospects in this year's class instead of the one-year, renewable scholarships that had been the norm throughout college sports.
I wonder what enforcement mechanisms exist for that; clearly there have to be some loopholes in case a player does not keep up academically or gets in trouble. Either way, it's more pressure on schools to not cut folks willy-nilly.
I think Purdue may be the lone holdout in the league, but haven't seen confirmation of that.
Etc.: Fairly useless Luginbill quotes. ESPN dudes predict Joe Bolden will see the field fast. Insert complaint about ESPN's focus on the UA game here. Local news article on Ben Braden. The Sporting News wins "most accurate recruiting service" for 2012 for ranking Michigan #2. Mattison on Kalis. Dantonio fuming about the "unethical" poaching of committed recruits. Brian Kelly whiffs down the stretch, too. The class visualized by position and state. Wojo on Signing Day.
With the Thursday Recruitin' posts getting lengthy and signing day just over a week away, we decided—with the help of some reader requests—that it would be best to do two recruiting roundups per week. So, welcome to Tuesday Recruitin', which should serve to wrap up the happenings of the previous weekend and set the table for the upcoming week. Thursday Recruitin' will now be moved to Friday and focus on any upcoming visits while catching up with the events of the week. This new setup allows me to get more recruiting information to you each week and should cut down on the total link overload that was quickly becoming an unwanted staple of my recruiting roundups. Anyways, there is much to discuss, so let's get this party started.
Caleb Stacey Decommits; How Will M Round Out The Class?
Caleb Stacey announced on Saturday that he was changing his commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati, citing a desire to stay close to home during college:
"When it came down to it, Caleb just wanted to stay closer to home," said Oak Hills assistant coach Kyle Ralph. "He's a Cincinnati kid, and as it came down to it, he was more comfortable staying home in Cincinnati."
In fact, Stacey actually got in touch with the Cincinnati coaching staff himself, as they had respected his pledge to Michigan and backed off from recruiting him. Stacey's decommitment leaves the Wolverines with 23 commits (four along the O-line) in the class of 2012, leaving up to five spots available. While Michigan looks to have a good shot with higher-ranked offensive linemen Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Alex Kozan, Stacey's absence will be felt—he was the only current commit projected to play center, a position of great need for the Wolverines, and only Kozan looks like he could fill that void.
This week will be huge for offensive line recruiting, starting with Josh Garnett's announcement on Thursday afternoon. Garnett has officially narrowed his choices to a final two of Michigan and Stanford ($, info in header), as expected. Michigan did get the last word, as Brady Hoke made the final in-home visit to Garnett on Sunday. I expect Garnett to end up as a Wolverine, though that's admittedly based on zero inside knowledge of his recruitment.
Hoke also has the final in-home visit with Kozan, who will choose between Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn. Kozan told GoBlueWolverine that he will announce his choice "right after the Coach Hoke visit," which is scheduled for this Friday ($). He claims no leader at this time, and Hoke has the chance to make a very strong pitch—with Stacey out of the class, Kozan could be the most important recruit left on the board due to his ability to play center.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce his decision on February 3rd—two days after signing day—between Michigan, Ohio State, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Michigan coaches have an in-home visit with him today, and he also maintains there's no leader in his recruitment.
Moving on to other position groups, two major targets formally decommitted this week: cornerback Armani Reeves from Penn State (same as Diamond link) and tight end Sam Grant from Boston College ($, info in header). Both could make their decisions as soon as this week. Reeves is now down to Michigan and Ohio State, and hosted Brady Hoke on Saturday before welcoming Urban Meyer—along with OSU assistants Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel—to his home last night. While some Buckeye insiders anticipated a commitment, none has come, and Greg Mattison will see Reeves tonight for his final in-home visit. This looks like a 50/50 tossup.
Grant, meanwhile, will likely choose between Michigan, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
A few happy trails: Yuri Wright found a home at Colorado despite recently being kicked out of Don Bosco Prep for his controversial tweets; Monty Madaris will decide on Wednesday, and he appears to be down to Cincinnati and Michigan State; four-star OL and soft Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson plans to announce his choice on Saturday between the Badgers, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC and Auburn ($).
Receiver Commits: Anything But Divas
You have likely read the story of receiver commit Amara Darboh, who lost his parents to the civil war in Sierra Leone when he was just two years old before finding his way to Des Moines, where he found a family and eventually became a four-star football recruit. Chantel Jennings profiled Michigan's other receiver commit, Jehu Chesson, on WolverineNation today, and the article is well worth the cost of ESPN Insider. I'll do my best to block-quote as little as possible, and encourage you to read the whole thing, which details Chesson's charity work—along with his knack for juggling—as well as his path to the United States ($):
In 1993 Chesson was born in war-torn Liberia in the middle of its first civil war. The country had broken into factions, and by the time the war was over in 1996, nearly 200,000 Liberians had died. Chesson moved from Liberia to the Ivory Coast, and from the Ivory Coast to St. Louis when he was 5.
He doesn't have many memories from that early in his life, but he saw on TV when Liberia fought its second civil war and the unrest that has come from it.
He could be angry. He still has family in Africa. His grandmother is there.
But Chesson said the kids have taught him how to forgive. He laughs when he talks about two young kids at the camp who fight and punch one another, but 10 minutes later they're playing with each other again.
He said that even though some of those kids have very little, they have the capacity to forgive, which some adults -- who've been tarnished by money or pessimism -- can't do.
"The best and worst part of it all is that I can ponder a question about why some are born into greatness and others never get a chance," Chesson said. "I'll probably never get an answer. But I can give of myself, which is sort of like working toward an answer."
The level of maturity shown by Chesson—as well as Darboh—would put many 30-year-olds to shame, and I'm very excited to see him don the winged helmet and, more importantly, get the opportunity to earn a degree from Michigan.
The Detroit News is rolling out daily profiles of the recruits on their Blue Chip list, and so far they've covered Terry Richardson, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Matt Godin, and Devin Funchess. Most of it is fluff—Richardson discusses his spirituality, Ross—like Ben Braden—played hockey, RJS wants to be a chef, Godin wanted to play QB as a HS freshman, and Funchess plans to become a coach—but for those doubting Ross's size and ability to play inside, he has a message for you:
"I believe my size benefits me," he said. "I'm quick to the ball. When I was at the Army (All American) Game, I was able to get to the ball quickly. I'm able to get through the holes. I make the reads, and at the snap of the ball I can step into those holes. Can I get stronger? Sure I can. And I will."
Ross said the U-M coaches have no plans to move him to another position and that he is slated to play weak-side linebacker.
"I'll be the linebacker that checks the slot receiver or the running back out of the backfield," he said.
We'll see in the fall if Ross is really 6'1", 220 pounds, as the article claims, but even if he's a little smaller I think WLB is the best position for him.
Quick 2013 Hitters; New 2014 (!) Offer
A quick roundup of the news on current junior prospects:
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who visited Michigan last weekend and holds an early offer, has the Wolverines in his top three with Florida and FSU ($, info in header).
- Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman revealed a list of upcoming visits on his Twitter; he plans to take a trip to Ann Arbor in March, and he's also got visits set for Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame. He's also looking at Miami and North Carolina for potential unofficials.
- In case you missed it, Michigan was one of several schools to recently offer Monaca (PA) Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, an early candidate for five-star status ($, info in header).
- Four-star Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt had the coaches drop by last week ($, info in header), and he says Michigan will be in the mix when it comes time to narrow down his list of schools.
- Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights ATH De'Niro Laster told Greg Mattison he plans to take an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor the weekend after signing day ($, info in header).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata four-star DE Tashawn Bower expects a Michigan offer soon after talking with Coach Curt Mallory ($).
- Sam Webb's weekly DetNews piece is on Lemont (IL) OL Ethan Pocic, who recently earned top offensive lineman honors at the Core6 Showcase in Westmont, IL, which also featured top junior linemen like Logan Tuley-Tillman and Colin McGovern.
- Happy trails to Trotwood-Madison cornerback Cam Burrows, as one of the top players in Ohio pledged to Ohio State last week.
Finally, Michigan gave out its second verbal offer to a class of 2014 prospect. Woodbridge (VA) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand picked up his sixth offer as the Wolverines joined Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, N.C. State and Rutgers. Hand tallied 21 sacks as a sophomore and earned district Co-Defensive MVP honors. Michigan's other sophomore offeree is also a defensive lineman, Highland (UT) DT Bryan Mone, teammate of 2012 pledge Sione Houma.