eastern christian academy
Hello. Sorry about that involuntary vacation there. Dumping water on your laptop is not fun, especially when the backup you had on hand for just such an eventuality doesn't boot either. Then I was at Blogs With Balls yesterday, trying to look somewhat official.
I am back now, even if the change in keyboard styles makes me want to die. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to use a keyboard I'm not familiar with. It's like having a stroke, one that suddenly puts punctuation all over the place for no reason. Anyway.
Just another day in the life. Offseason is relative.
Jim Harbaugh gives his version of Drake's album cover, gets RT'd by the First Lady
Anonymous NFL scout strikes again. The woooooorst:
This anonymous scout quote abt OSU's Eli Apple was, um, interesting:"The kid has no life skills. At all. Can't cook" https://t.co/03a8Tn3F6V
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) April 27, 2016
There's about a 90% chance that the dude anonymously slamming Apple's life skills spends most of his life in hotels, has been divorced four times, and hasn't cooked anything more complicated than cereal since the 1970s. Also, this random slam from a guy who doesn't even know Apple appears to be 100% false:
Eli has made me some fire fried chicken and mac and cheese. The source seems to be pretty unreliable
— EzekielElliott#⃣1⃣5⃣ (@EzekielElliott) April 27, 2016
The NFL draft starts tonight so our brief annual spate of anonymous, ludicrous slams of NFL prospects is just about over. Tune in next year, when someone accuses Jourdan Lewis of setting fire to his toaster.
Durkin on Harbaugh. None of this is actually a surprise; it is a confirmation about what life under Harbaugh is like:
CR: I'd imagine your early days at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh were a lot like the early ones at Bowling Green under Meyer. Is that accurate?
Durkin: It was absolute mayhem. It really was.
When I first got there, it was like, oh my gosh. Then you finally spend more time with Jim. The guy is really smart. Extremely smart. Everything is for a reason, but he loves chaos. That's just how he operates. He loves confrontation, chaos, conflict. He doesn't want it to be everyone comfortable, this is the schedule. He just loves throwing a wrench in the works.
So, when you first get there, it's like, what's going on? But it was great. To see someone impose their will, their confidence, their vision on a program, to totally change it—total 180. Stanford was known as a soft, academic, wine-sipping program. Now it's the total opposite. He definitely imposed his will on the place.
This was Bo's approach to the point where he would deliberately stoke fights between his coaches just to see what everyone really thought. Harbaugh runs through a lot of coaches; they generally move on up afterwards, often quickly, because life under Harbaugh is a pressure cooker.
Durkin also relates the one-on-one story we've heard a couple times before:
CR: Let's end with the story of you playing Harbaugh one-on-one at Stanford. What do you remember?
Durkin: It was a random day in the office. We were meeting, talking about something, and he was dribbling a basketball. We were talking about something—recruiting or something—and the conversation somehow got to, "Hey, let's go out and play."
So we went to play one-on-one. First to seven. Great. So we're playing. I went up for a layup or something, he fouled—I mean, hacked me. And I didn't call it. I didn't expect him to call foul. No, we're good. Check up.
Then it became, O.K., if that's not a foul, there are no fouls. So the game went on for—the reason it became epic—it was over an hour-long game. To seven. And people are up there watching. No one wanted to lose, and no one would call a foul. So it was, if the guy got a step on you, chuck him in the back, lose the ball. Nope, no foul. Good, your ball. So it went on. It was well over an hour. A game to seven.
CR: Who won?
Durkin: He won. I let him win in the end. Job security.
I've repeatedly stated that I was skeptical about how good of a DC Durkin actually was after Michigan tailed off against spread teams late, but he's the kind of guy who could be much better as a head coach than a coordinator*. He's already done some good things with Maryland's recruiting.
*[And he's just unproven there, not necessarily bad. Last year was his first truly running his own D after operating under Will Muschamp at Florida and he inherited a ton of talent from the previous guy. It's striking how close the parallels are between 2015 and 2006, which also saw a hotshot new coordinator inherit a bucket of talent, turn his unit into one of the nation's best, and then get annihilated by Ohio State while doing something seemingly nonsensical. With Durkin that was running a safety at 15 yards against a spread to run offense; with Ron English it was trying to cover an NFL first-round WR with Chris Graham.]
Maryland doesn't recruit good and stuff. Excellent data post from Capital News service detailing the futility of Maryland recruiting despite a healthy amount of local talent. It incidentally proves our Mississippi Is A Black Hole Nothing Escapes theory:
That will never cease being a mystery to me.
I do think there are some questionable assumptions the data invites you to take away here because their list of top talent-producing states has Delaware(?!) third and Hawaii fifth. This is correct on a per-capita basis, but why that's relevant to a college trying to fill a recruiting class is unclear. (Delaware is likely that high because of ECA, the controversial magnet school that Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson attended.)
Incoming Cain? MI SF Jamal Cain got his Michigan offer. Cain, a 2017 kid ranked as a three star by the world, got a bunch of Michigan predictions on his 247 page in the immediate aftermath. It doesn't sound like he'll drop immediately…
"His recruiting is rapidly growing," said Covington, a former player at Oakland, who added that Cain is likely to go through the recruiting process and not commit anywhere until before or duirng his senior year at Cornerstone Prep.
Cain is currently rated as the No. 190 overall played in the 2016 class in the 247 Sports Composite.
…but plans have a tendency to change. Endless Motor has an interview with Cain that is of interest:
EM: Can you tell us a a bit about the basketball presentation?
JC: Coach Beilein showed me film of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zak Irvin, and said he wanted me to play a similar role at the shooting guard/small forward spots, and that I would be used in that way. Coach Beilein said I could really thrive in that role at UM.
In Trey-Burke-ish basketball recruiting news, Xavier SImpson surges into the top 50 in ESPN's final rankings after an outstanding senior season that saw him win the USA Today POY in the state.
So much for that. JT Compher signs with the Avs and CCM is gone lock, stock, and barrel. When Red returned one of the arguments made in favor of that decision was that CCM was more likely to return—at least portions of it—in Ann Arbor. That obviously did not work out.
With NHL departures now (probably) completed, this is what Michigan's looking at next year. I'm bumping Cutler Martin up to F:
That does not look like a tournament team unless Michigan is better than it's been on defense since Mel left. Michigan loses six of its top seven scorers and gets back only two forwards who were significantly above zero in +/-: Kile and Dancs.
Goodbye Idaho. If only EMU would follow. The Vandals are dropping down to I-AA after getting booted from the Sun Belt, which only admitted them in the first place so they could have a conference championship game. With no conference home and none pending, their only logical move was to drop down and play with the Montanas and North Dakota States of the world. Two things: this apparently won't even save them money…
The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall.
…and Idaho football costs about 20% as much as EMU's athletic deficit.
While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding -- playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.
Which is boggling if you think about it. EMU faculty and students just urged the university to drop football, to which the regents said "nah." Eastern's athletic department spending is completely insane:
The study point to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16, doubling staff salaries from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 "athletic personnel" added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU's entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.
The arms race at the top of college athletics makes sense because the money's got to go somewhere. Eastern is setting money on fire—its students' money.
Rappists say nice things. I mean, I think they do. Migos on Harbaugh:
"He knows the music," Migos member Offset told TMZ. "He's a real cool playa. He's a playa, man, from the Himalayas."
#wellactually he goes to the Andes mountains, person who was clearly trying to rhyme things.
SBN on the Big Ten's rights situation. This is a point worth considering:
Will coaches freak out if their games aren’t on ESPN?
Yes, and so will administrators throughout the conference. Years ago, when the ACC flirted with leaving ESPN for Fox, some of the conference’s powerful basketball coaches were not shy about voicing their displeasure, believing that the lack of ESPN coverage would hurt their recruiting efforts. It’s too early to know how Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will react. But consider this: When school administrators asked at the recent league meetings if it’s possible for ESPN to get shut out, they were told, “Anything is possible.” One senior official at a Big Ten school said his peers “were scared to death” at the prospect of not having games on ESPN, which could eat into their recruiting.
ESPN's "lowball" offer for half the rights package was easy to pass over. It'll be harder for the Big Ten to extract maximum revenue from the second half without abandoning ESPN entirely, and that's a move everyone is wary of. Well, maybe. I've yet to see the Big Ten do anything other than maximize revenue.
Etc.: MLS to Detroit? If so you have to make them Detroit City and call them "The Rock." This is not negotiable. Profiles of Graham Glasgow and Jourdan Lewis. More on Glasgow's draft status. Jabrill Peppers already being talked about for next year's draft. A CFB commissioner is discussed; seems impractical. Baseball doing well. Holding The Rope on personnel shifts at ESPN.
2013 Eastern Christian Academy prospect Kenny Bigelow has already enrolled at USC.
I initially planned on covering football and basketball as well as recruiting in this mailbag, but enough of you sent in questions (thanks!) that I had to go recruiting-only; I may do a separate mailbag to cover the rest later in the week. On to the questions...
For a number of reasons, I'm not worried about this. If you haven't read the SI article on Eastern Christian Academy, it's highly recommended, and should allay some of these concerns [emphasis mine]:
Strictly speaking, Eastern Christian is not even a school but rather a club, with members who attend an online private school called National Connections Academy. "There is a lot of confusion," says Steven Guttentag, president of Baltimore-based Connections Learning, which is the parent company of National Connections. "Eastern Christian is not a school. It's a football training program that provides a site. National Connections Academy is the school. They're our team." Connections Education counts more than 45,000 students among its accredited private and public schools. Its students include everyone from prodigies at New York City's prestigious Juilliard School of Music to Olympic hopefuls, but Eastern Christian represents the company's first foray into team sports.
[T]he reputation of National Connections, and the fast-growing digitalization of U.S. education, affords Eastern Christian a degree of insulation from skepticism. The growth of charter schools and homeschooling have pushed the number of students in grades K-12 taking online courses well into the hundreds of thousands. "What you're describing is definitely unusual," says Allen Ezell, a former FBI agent who spent 11 years investigating diploma mills. "But this sounds like a proctored setting, with adults watching over kids as they do their work and take their exams, and in today's world that's becoming normal."
The NCAA, according to the article, considers National Connections "an approved nontraditional course provider," so there should be no issue passing their academic requirements. ECA and its predecessor, Red Lion Christian Academy, have produced several D-I recruits in the last few years, and as far as I can tell there's been no issue with the NCAA or the recruits' respective schools. An incomplete list:
- 2011 Red Lion DL Angelo Blackson is entering his junior year at Auburn, where he's expected to start for the second straight season.
- 2012 Red Lion DL Eli Ankou was accepted by UCLA and redshirted last season.
- 2013 ECA five-star DL Kenny Bigelow enrolled early at USC, so he's already passed admissions and gone through a semester of classes.
- Fellow 2013 ECA prospects Khaliel Rodgers (USC) and Jahmere Irvin-Sills (Miss. St.) signed with BCS programs. Michigan's coaches reportedly contacted Rodgers after David Dawson's decommitment last year, but he was solid to USC and did not receive an offer.
Michigan admissions could be a different animal — though UCLA and USC are both fine schools — but here's where my final point comes in: Brady Hoke, quite simply, doesn't take academic risks. None of his recruits have failed to qualify and the line of communication between his staff and the admissions department is strong; let's just say the athletic department learned from the Demar Dorsey debacle.
While we're on the subject of Canteen and Watson...
Ace! Love your writing, dude.
Question on Recruiting. I trust the coaches, I love the coaches. They've earned the right to pick who they want. But do you think it's a little weird to go so hard after a few guys so off the radar at this point in the process (the past 3 days), or do you think the coaches truly see that much potential in these guys, and got some steals? I know - hard to know when a guy only plays 3 games a year, but curious for your take.
The longer I cover recruiting and, on occasion, happen to stumble into some insider-y info, the more I realize that the coaches do everything — everything — for a reason. In fact, you don't even need insider info to know this. Just look at how the wide receiver recruiting shook out over the last few weeks:
- Artavis Scott visits Clemson for their camp, which runs from June 12th-14th.
- Freddy Canteen picks up his offer at Michigan's camp on June 18th.
- In an article released on June 24th, K.J. Williams tells 247 that his top three is Syracuse, Michigan, and Mizzou, in that order ($).
- On June 26th, ESPN's Brian Stumpf reports that Scott has moved up his announcement and will decide at The Opening, which is going on this week. Clemson immediately becomes his presumed destination.
- Freddy Canteen commits to Michigan on June 29th.
Even if we presume that Canteen is the third option among those prospects — and I'm not sure the coaches would put Williams above him, especially since they wanted a slot receiver — it's clear that the coaches saw the way things were trending with Scott and Williams and decided to make a move instead of waiting, which could've left them coming up empty on all three prospects.
Then we get into the fact that Canteen, along with Watson, had very good reasons for being under the radar, and earned their offers by performing for the coaches in person. The Wolverine's Michael Spath posted a great rundown of recruits who were offered at camp and committed to Michigan; there have been 23 such players since 2002 ($). Of those 23, just six ended up as four-star prospects, and given that fact Michigan has been quite successful in identifying overlooked talent:
Among the 23, 21 have already completed their eligibility, and of those, 10 started at least one season for the Wolverines. Multi-year starters include: LB David Harris (2002 class), [OL Jake] Long, [DL Will] Johnson, [OL Alex] Mitchell, P Zoltan Mesko (2005) and OL David Molk (2007).
Yes, the list of camp-offered commits includes such luminaries as David Harris, Jake Long, David Molk, and the Space Emperor (Of Space). NOT BAD.
With the increased pace of recruiting, it's easy to forget that the current rankings will look wildly different come February; the recruiting services still haven't had a look at every available prospect, obviously, and there's still a good chunk of camp season, next fall's actual football season, and the postseason All-American games to go. Especially at this stage in the recruiting process, it's best to trust the coaches, at least until there's any shred of evidence that they're not good talent evaluators (and all of the available evidence points in the exact opposite direction).
It's not as simple as this with most prospects — the coaches do their best to use everything at their disposal to evaluate a recruit, and how much they weigh each factor is largely dependent on the specific recruit. Camp allows the coaches to not just judge a player's size, potential, and technical ability in person, it also gives them insight into how quickly a prospect picks up on their coaching — they can judge coachability and character in a way that they obviously can't do with a highlight tape.
The problem with camp, of course, is that it isn't actual football — they're running drills without pads, not lining up and playing 11-on-11. That's why game film is still quite valuable. With guys like Canteen and Watson, who simply don't have much film available, the coaches have to lean more heavily on how they did at camp, but for most prospects that's not the case. I wouldn't say camp trumps film, nor the opposite; this answer is a bit of a cop-out, but it goes on a case-by-case basis, as the available information differs — sometimes dramatically — from prospect to prospect.
I know people pay probably too much attention to stars when it comes to recruits, but the recent conversation about what coaches saw in certain players bothered me because it was based on an inexact rating system. If you think about a previous QB battle, mgoblog has this to say:
"Projection: Even if Robinson doesn't pan out Michigan won't be moving him for at least two years and doesn't have the quarterback depth to redshirt anyone this year, so at the very least you'll see him reprise the Feagin role from last year's Minnesota game except with a definite possibility he'll throw. Going forward it'll be a battle between his electric athleticism and Forcier's polish, with Forcier having the obvious early edge because of his spring enrollment."
And remember the recruiting hubaloo around Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. This got me thinking, of those who have pledged to Michigan in the past few years which player(s) do you think have far outperformed their ranking?
I'm not sure the example used here is the best one for the question, since both Forcier and Denard were highly-regarded prospects, but there are a few from Hoke's first couple classes. In the 2011 class, Frank Clark looks poised to outperform his three-star rating; he may have done so already simply by seeing the field and contributing early. 2012 signee Devin Funchess was a borderline 3/4-star recruit and he showed tantalizing potential as a freshman; when a freshman gets put on school record watch — in this case, Jim Mandich's career mark for receptions by a tight end — it's safe to say he's performing at a very high level. Ben Braden is another player from the 2012 class who could easily surpass his three-star expectations; Braden has a good chance to start at guard as a redshirt freshman and eventually make his way out to left tackle. Jehu Chesson, Willie Henry, and Mario Ojemudia are a few other candidates from that class to make a bigger splash than their recruiting rankings would indicate, potentially as soon as this fall.
So, with the three recent commits and the 2014 class already up to 14 guys, does this mean it's all quiet on the (mid)western front? I know this class was projected to be in the teens, maybe up to 20 guys, and I feel like we've gotten there quickly. Is Michigan kind of done for the time being on the recruiting scene or will there be another push right before the season?
I'm tempting fate by saying this, but I think the pace of recruiting for the 2014 class is going to slow down now that camp offers have gone out (and been accepted) and most of the remaining targets are high-profile players — those guys are more likely to utilize the full process, take their officials, and make a late decision knowing that programs will leave a spot open for them. Da'Shawn Hand, Adoree' Jackson, Malik McDowell, and JuJu Smith all fall under this category, and I'm surely forgetting a couple other targets either slated for late decisions or taking the process slowly. It's possible that Michigan picks up a couple more commits before the season starts, but for the rest of the summer I'd expect as much action (if not more) from the 2015 class.
How do you see the 2014 recruiting class finishing up based on what we know today? — AC1997
I'm operating under the assumption that Michigan makes it to 20 spots in the class, even though for now there aren't that many scholarships available. With 14 current commits, that leaves six open spots. I'd expect those to be filled by:
- VA DE Da'Shawn Hand (not a lock by any means, though)
- MI DL Malik McDowell
- A safety, hopefully JuJu Smith (a longshot) or PA ATH Montae Nicholson (a much more realistic option).
- An offensive tackle. There isn't an obvious candidate here with Jamarco Jones committing to Ohio State.
- An outside linebacker. Of the players currently holding offers, three-star Jimmie Swain and four-star Dwight Williams are the most likely candidates. I'm skeptical of Michigan's chances with Williams (a presumed Florida lean), though, and Swain named Oregon and Stanford to his top five recently despite not holding an offer from either; if one of those two comes through, that could spell trouble for Michigan's chances. We could see a late offer go out here.
- The best player available that doesn't match the above. That could be Jackson, though I highly doubt he ends up at Michigan, or perhaps a running back — CO three-star Kalen Ballage is the back they appear to have the best chance of landing with Jonathan Hilliman leaning towards Ohio State.
I did not overlook Parrker Westphal, though that's not based on any insider info. The longer his recruitment stretches out, the less I think he ends up at Michigan, especially since he seems like a better cornerback prospect than a safety and the Wolverines just took a pure corner in Brandon Watson.