at least it's not just us?
the greatest mid-february weekend in the history of mid-february weekends
Pickerington (OH) Central DE Taco Charlton capped off Michigan's ridiculous Saturday during TGMFWITHOMFW* by becoming the sixth commitment of the day after Michigan basketball's upset of Ohio State. Growing up just outside of Columbus, the Buckeyes were his childhood favorites, but Charlton has done a complete 180 and will now represent the Wolverines. I caught up with Taco last night to talk about his commitment, the role Erin Andrews played in it, why he chose Michigan, and more:
ACE: What made you decide a couple weekends ago that it was the right time to make your commitment?
TACO: Going into the week, everybody asked me if I was going to commit, and I said no because I didn't think I was ready. After getting onto the campus and sitting down with the coaches and all the athletic people and all the academic people, then really getting a chance to sit down and talk to my parents about it, there was really nothing I was looking for in a college that wasn't at Michigan. It was just the perfect place for me.
ACE: Specifically, when you say Michigan had everything that you were looking for, what was that? What set Michigan apart from the other schools that you'd seen?
TACO: I definitely love all the coaches and everything like that, especially being how three of the main coaches are defensive line guys with Coach Montgomery and Coach Mattison and Coach Hoke, they're all defensive line guys, so that was a plus right there. They can really develop my game and make sure that I'm a great player.
ACE: Being there for that weekend, where seemingly everybody committed all at the same time, what was the atmosphere of that visit with everyone committing? Did that play a factor, seeing so many guys all decide at around the same time that they wanted to be at Michigan?
TACO: It was great to be a part of it, one of the biggest recruiting weekends in history, so that was just great to be able to say you were a part of that. Just seeing how everybody felt the same way that you did and they didn't hold back on it, you go, well, it may be about time to just commit.
ACE: How did you let the coaches know? I know mentioned on Twitter that Erin Andrews might have been involved in some way. How did it actually go down?
TACO: (laughs) Well, you know, Shane Morris, he was telling Coach Mattison if he would get a picture with Erin Andrews, he'd convince me to commit that day. I wasn't getting binded to it, I was just laughing it off. Coach Mattison got him a picture [with Erin Andrews]. So the game was over and we're on the bus back, and he's getting into my ear about committing and everything. After we got back to Schembechler Hall, we were just talking, and I was talking to my parents and everything. We just felt it was the right place for me to be and I just committed there.
ACE: You talked about the coaches. What set them apart from the other coaching staffs that you've been in contact with throughout the process?
TACO: You could just tell that they really care for the players. The players were telling me how they treated them, and with [Pickerington Central grad] Tamani [Carter] being there, just talking to him, you could really tell they really care for their players and they care for their well-being. It was like a whole family mindset and everything. Their whole families were up there. It was just great.
ACE: Being a part of this class that's already got 13 guys in it, and you guys seem to be interacting a lot on social media and everything and really staying in touch, what does it feel like to be a part of a class that's already this close, it seems, this early in the process?
TACO: It's good, you know, all the guys are real cool with each other, we all know each other, especially being at the game we got to meet a lot of each other since we all committed that week. That day we got to meet each other, and we were throwing the football and everything, making jokes, stuff like that. From the very beginning we had a good time.
ACE: Pickerington is being represented quite well between you and Jake Butt. What's it going to like having to face off with him as an opponent next season before being his teammate the year after?
TACO: You know, before—and right now—we're still rivals. But we're real cool with each other. Right now we're still rivals. Right now we've got to go up there and make sure we handle our business when we go against each other, but after that we'll be teammates and everything. It'll be good to say that we're both representing Pickerington at Michigan. That will be good.
ACE: Have the coaches talked to you specifically about what role you'll be playing once you get to Michigan?
TACO: I'll definitely be at end, they said, getting to be a speed rusher on the outside. Getting there, they said that the guy they had there last year [Craig Roh, I presume] is moving to the five-technique, so when I get there I'll play that position [weakside DE]. I'll try to add some power and work on my technique.
ACE: You just mentioned two ways that you were looking to improve before you get to Michigan. What else are you working on before you get to the college level?
TACO: I'm working on everything. I'm never satisfied with where I am right now. I always believe I have to get better somewhere, whether it's speed, strength, technique most definitely—anything that can improve my game, especially for my senior year.
ACE: Obviously you were able to wrap up the process relatively quickly, but throughout the whole recruiting process, what did you like about it, and what makes you happy that it's now over?
TACO: It was fun. I got a chance to really get offers from a lot of good schools, and if I would've waited I probably would've got a lot more. It was fun to get a chance to talk to schools from all over and even entertain the fact that I could maybe go out to anywhere, really, and get to play football. It was good to get it over with, though. All the stress goes away, having to make the big decision and everything like that, and I just get to focus on my senior year of football.
ACE: I've been asking the guys this question. In a few words, what would you say made you feel that Michigan was the right place for you?
TACO: Michigan is a big family, and that's what I like about it. It's just a big family and that's something I want to be a part of, how great of a family it was.
*The Greatest Mid-February Weekend in the History of Mid-February Weekends
The first to drop in what became an eight-commit weekend, Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch pledged to Michigan nine days ago. The Rivals100 lineman will likely play guard in Ann Arbor, though he has the versatility to play anywhere on the line. I had the chance to talk to Kyle yesterday about his commitment, why he chose the Wolverines, his future role on the team, and much more:
ACE: What made you decide that a couple weekends ago was the right time to commit to Michigan?
KYLE: It just felt right at that point. It didn't even make sense to keep dancing around the country and trying to find any place that had the same sort of academic and athletic combination that Michigan has. I've been all over the place, I've checked out every place, and at that point it just didn't make sense to let the offer sit. It seemed just like I should just act now and try to start recruiting for my class.
ACE: You mentioned the academics and the athletics. What set Michigan apart from the other schools that you were considering?
KYLE: It wasn't even the fact that it's the biggest stadium in the country or the best facilities in the country of any of that, it's more the people who were actually there working. From Coach Hoke to the athletic trainers, they're all very good people, and that definitely set them apart from a lot of other schools.
ACE: You were the first to commit in what would become a pretty wild weekend of commitments. What was it like seeing all the dominoes fall after you committed?
KYLE: It was kinda crazy. I don't know if it was because of my offer and my acceptance of the offer that started a bit of a firestorm of commitments, but if it was I'm glad I did it, because I think our class is going to be a very, very good class. We have about 13 commitments now, I think our offensive line is all filled up, we've got a great running back, Wyatt [Shallman], and the number one quarterback in the country, that's Shane Morris. I think we're going to be able to make a long run in the BCS standings, and I wouldn't be surprised seeing us in four or five years playing in the national championship.
ACE: Being a part of a class that's already up to 13 players, and seeing you guys interact on Twitter and stuff like that, it seems like the class is very tight-knit. What's it like being a part of a class that's seemingly so close at a point this early in the process?
KYLE: I think that's great that we're becoming this close. I'm definitely making a conscious effort to try and network with these guys and try to get to know them better, because these are the men that I'm going to be living and dying next to in the trenches and working my butt off in the weight room with in the offseason. I think getting this sort of relationship, this sort of brotherly relationship, we're already to already starting to grow on and grow with, it's really essential to the team. If we get that established before we even get to the first day of summer camp, I think that just the camaraderie will carry us a very long way.
ACE: You also mentioned already having the line class filled up with five players. Have you talked with the coaches about specifically what role, what position, you'd be playing when you get on campus?
KYLE: If I need to play guard, I know how to play guard. If I need to play center, this offseason I'm learning how to play center. If I need to play tackle, I know how to play both tackle slots. I think at this point, I talked to Coach Funk, and he said he sees me at guard for my junior and senior year, but if need be I can probably play tackle if someone gets hurt or if there's a spot that needs to be filled.
ACE: You mentioned talking with Coach Funk and you talked about being with Coach Hoke. What really set the Michigan coaching staff apart from the other coaching staffs that you've come across?
KYLE: That's a good question. The thing about them is that there's not as much of "we're coaches, we're here to win," as there is "we're fathers, and you're my kids. If we win, great, but we're here to develop young men." Winning isn't the only thing, it's to develop young men, and not only help them maybe get to the NFL but develop them and get them ready for life. You can tell with Coach Hoke, he definitely has a very strong family mentality. When I told him I committed, he gave me a bear-hug when we were talking. I met all of their families, the families were all there. I got to talk to their kids. You could there that every coach there, whether it be Coach Funk or the defensive coordinator, everybody was basically an uncle to the kids and everybody was really close with the kids. You could tell that these men definitely have a lot invested in you as a person, not just as a football player, and I really respected that. I've seen that at Michigan State and Stanford also, and I really liked them too, but Michigan definitely set themselves apart.
ACE: Looking back on the times you've come up to Ann Arbor, what's really stuck out to you the most when you were on your visits?
KYLE: As a player, what stood out to me is how, no matter if the kid was a two-star recruit or a five-star recruit, they treated them all the same, they all gave everybody an equal amount of attention. I've been at junior days where I get talked to for 45 minutes but there's three other kids where it seemed like the coaches didn't know they were even there. I really thought that was pretty cool. What stood out to me, I guess as a physical attribute, is all of the fans. The fans are unbelievable there. When I was there for the Notre Dame game, it was the first game under the lights, and they came back and the fans were going insane. The Nebraska game, where the jumbotron didn't even work and the score clock didn't even work and the fans were screwing with the Nebraska quarterback, he wasn't getting the ball off until late and getting under pressure, I thought that was pretty cool too.
ACE: Coming from Illinois, it's a really strong class of players this year. Have you developed a relationship with the prospects coming out of your state—not just the guys who are committed to Michigan but the uncommitted guys as well?
KYLE: Yes, I have. I talk to Ty Isaac quite a bit. I've talked to Logan Tuley. I talked to a bunch of kids who were around our recruiting class. I have developed somewhat of a relationship with a lot of the kids in Illinois.
ACE: Now that you're committed, I know Shane has been spearheading a lot of the recruiting effort. Are you looking to pitch in and do some recruiting of your own?
KYLE: Yeah, absolutely. I'm doing that right now, actually. I know a kid named Henry Poggi that is a highly-recruited defensive lineman. I've gone to a couple camps with him and he's a hell of a player and a really good kid. I'm talking to Ty Isaac a lot, trying to get him. I'd actually talked to Patrick Kugler about three weeks before he committed, and I was actually going to come up this weekend when he did commit, but I ended up not going. He shot me a text right when he committed. It's really exciting to see all the guys commit and see what sort of class we're building up.
ACE: Are you planning on doing any other camps or combines over the offseason?
KYLE: I'll definitely be doing one of the Nike ones at the Barrington Fieldhouse in Illinois, just to see if I can go to The Opening. Other than that, I'm going to go to the Michigan camp, go to the one-day Michigan camp and work with Coach Funk and see how he works with me. That'll be fun to do. That's probably what I'll end up doing.
ACE: Evaluating your own game, and also taking what the coaches have told you, what would say are your biggest strengths on the field and what are you looking to improve upon by the time you get to the next level?
KYLE: My greatest strength is probably run-blocking and finishing my blocks. If I don't hit the guy down, I ride him until the whistle blows, even if I ran him 40 yards downfield I'm still going after him. I always roll my hips, [Coach Funk] said that for my age, for my size, me rolling my hips every single block is definitely a very unique thing I have to offer. Something I'd like to improve on would be my pass protection. I don't really have a problem with it, I didn't let up a sack this year, but we don't throw the ball as much as a lot of teams because we have such a good running back and a good scrambling quarterback. I'm working on that right now actually at my gyms, just working on pass protection. I'd like to learn how to snap, also, that's one thing I'd like to learn how to do. I'm also working on that.
ACE: You talked earlier about looking at this class and seeing a possible BCS contender down the road. What's the goal for you personally when you get to Michigan?
KYLE: My personal goal is just to help be a leader on and off the field. With my team I hold a lot of weight with a lot of the guys just because I'm always there for them on and off the field, and that's one of my big goals, not even to start but just to be there for all the guys, from the defensive backs to the running backs and of course the offensive linemen. I just want to build a good relationship with them. After that, probably just getting bigger, getting stronger, and seeing what happens about where the coaches want me to be.
ACE: If you can, in as short a sentence as you can, tell me why you ended up picking Michigan?
KYLE: That's a tough one. I'd say I chose Michigan, just the feeling that I got. I woke up that morning and I went from Notre Dame and MSU the day before to Michigan; I'd slept it over the night before I went on campus, and I said if I get that same feeling again that the time was now. Then I got that feeling and I committed.
Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt visited Ann Arbor for the weekend to beat all other weekends, though he managed to resist making a commitment all the way until Sunday, thus becoming the seventh of the eight prospects to pledge over the weekend. I know, what a stick in the mud. I caught up with Jake last night to discuss his decision, the coaches, his bond with his future teammates, and more:
ACE: What made you decide that last weekend was the right time to commit?
JAKE: Oh, man. I've been trying to tell myself for the longest time that I was gonna wait, but I've been up to campus a few times, got to go there, see the campus, see the academic side, got to meet Shane Morris, saw Taco [Charlton] up there. It's the #14 university in the world and with all those commits I just wanted to go home, sleep on it, and just make sure I felt the same way the next morning that I did the night before. I woke up feeling so excited about the experience that I just had to hop on board with those guys.
ACE: Did it make a difference at all seeing six other guys commit during the same weekend?
JAKE: Of course. I think there's already eight guys committed in the [ESPN] top 150 in the nation. It's something crazy. You want to be a part of that. Earlier today we were on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation show; what recruit wouldn't want to be a part of that?
ACE: What else set Michigan apart from the other schools you were looking at?
JAKE: Academics and playing time. They're the #14 university in the world and also they're really low on tight ends right now, because they don't really use them that much in the offense they're running, but once Shane comes in and Denard leaves they're going to a more pro-style offense and they're going to need tight ends. There's really only the two that they have right now, then Khalid Hill and me coming in for our class, so if I keep working I expect to get significant playing time.
ACE: Did you talk to the coaches more on your visit about your role in the offense?
JAKE: Yeah. They've got two different tight ends, a 'Y' back and a 'U' back. A 'Y' back is a guy that's more on the line and a 'U' back is a guy that's off the line. As of right now they said I'm the only guy that can play both. They've got Khalid, who's going to be more of a 'U' back, they've got another guy [Devin Funchess] who's more of a 'U' back, and a guy [A.J. Williams] who's a 'Y' back; there no true fit, really, for both, and they said I'm that guy right now for them, and that's huge that I can play either/or.
ACE: You talked about being up there and being able to meet Shane and being up there with Taco, from the same hometown. How much of a factor is it that it looks like you guys as a group are already so tight?
JAKE: That's a huge factor. You want that with any type of team. Shane's a great guy, he's been recruiting all these guys and I expect him to land at least a couple more for us too. It's huge being able to know that your future teammates, you're already getting to start to build a relationship with them. Me and Khalid, we both being tight ends, I'm sure there's a little competition between us, but he's a real cool guy. Of course Shane is going to be my quarterback some day, so getting to know him is big too.
ACE: Now you have to turn around next season and play Central, Taco's squad. What's it going to be like playing against a future teammate?
JAKE: It's going to be a great experience. Taco's a great player, so getting up there and getting to size each other up, he's going to be playing D-end at Michigan, hopefully the coaches are able to come down and watch us a little bit. It should be a battle. His team's got us the last two years, though we had them this year, but next year I'm telling you we will pull that one out.
ACE: I'm sure you guys won't be talking smack or anything like that...
JAKE: Oh, you know we will, we will, though.
ACE: What set the coaching staff apart from the other coaches you came across during the recruiting process?
JAKE: They just got their stuff together, it's unbelievable. The attention that they manage to give you one-on-one during the whole entire visit, it's just unbelievable how they can do that. Spending a whole day, not only with Coach Ferrigno, but Coach Borges and Coach Hoke, too—I had about an hour-and-a-half meeting with each of them. Some of it's about football, some of it's about life, just getting to know me, getting to know my parents. They're all just great people. The way Coach Hoke coaches is the way anyone would want to be coached.
ACE: How is that specifically?
JAKE: I use the story... during the Ohio State-Michigan game—we actually asked them about this up there—when the punter muffed the snap and he came off to the sideline we saw [Coach Hoke] put his arm around the punter and he said something to him. Me and my dad didn't know what he said, but he actually told the punter, he said, "Now how many snaps have you taken in your career?" And [Will Hagerup] said, "I'd guess about 5,000." He's like, "And how many have you muffed?" The punter said, "None." And he said, "Have you ever been to Vegas?" The punter looked at him all weird and said, "No." "Well, in Vegas, it's all about probability, and I like my chances in a 1-in-5,000 chance. You've got 5,000 more snaps before you muff another punt." Some coaches would be really jawing at him or really angry at him for muffing it, but he just picked him up a little bit; [Hoke] said knew we were going to need him later in the game punting for us again. That attitude, you just have to respect it.
ACE: What about Coach Borges and Coach Ferrigno, what set those guys apart?
JAKE: Ferrigno is just a real calm guy, but he's a great guy at the same time. I got to meet his family and everything. Just the way he talks about me, he talks so highly about his program; they're also like a family. All the coaches and recruits are giving each other hugs and everything, so it just brings you closer to them. I spent about an hour-and-a-half talking with Ferrigno, and we talked about my film, he's just a real honest guy, and the same thing with Borges, too.
ACE: I'm sure it was probably a little tough not to just commit on the spot with all the other recruits committing there.
JAKE: Oh, yeah. (laughs) It was pretty tough.
ACE: If you had to boil down why you chose Michigan into a few words, what would they be?
JAKE: I'd say the better question is, why would you not choose Michigan?
On the right is something I made from this week's Blockham's by Six Zero.
The left is a screen-cap from the pinnacle of awesome. Threads existing in the shot are as follows: WOOOO-HOOOOO!; Hello: Chris Fox; MUPPETS!!!!!!!; Sullinger: post-game words to Burke; Hello: Taco Charlton; official greatest day of ever thread; Ozone: Meyer > Hoke on Recruiting Trail = Egg in Face; The Announcers; Brady Hoke; Senior Night Video?; Life, in General; What just happened???; and Super Saturday (2-18-2012) Recap. That last by YakAttack has the play-by-play for everything that went down but here's Saturday:
- 12:00 p.m. Football: Kyle Bosch commits
- 1:00 p.m. Lacrosse: Begins first-ever road game as varsity (would lose to PSU 16-9)
- 1:05 p.m. Football: Wyatt Shallman commits
- 1:55 p.m. Track & Field: Trio of Wolverines finish first at Silverston Invitational.
- 2:25 p.m. Football: Jourdan Lewis commits, whiddle-guy Cass Tech CB mantle deployed
- 2:25 p.m. Football: David Dawson commits.
- 3:36 p.m. Baseball: Logan McAnallen pitches 2 scoreless innings to preserve Bobby Brosnahan's gem (7.0 innings, 4 hits, 1 run), and Michigan beats Setaon Hall 2-1.
- 4:21 p.m. Softball: Freshman LHP Haylie Wagner completes shutout of No. 22 Kentucky
- 7:25 p.m. Hockey: A.J. Treais scores in OT to beat Northern Michigan and sweep weekend series.
- 9:20 p.m. M Gymnastics: Season-high 345.700 score hands Ohio State their first loss
- 9:39 p.m. Softball: Freshman RHP Sara Driesenga completes shutout of FAU
- 11:00 p.m. M Basketball: Michigan upsets No. 6 Ohio State 56-51
- 11:01 p.m. Kate Upton: Kate Upton is all Kate Upton.
- 11:05 p.m. Football: Chris Fox commits
- 11:30 p.m. Football: Taco Charlton commits.
- ~11:59 p.m. Jake Butt and Logan Tuley-Tillman enter REM sleep, where their dreams are invaded by GHOST OF NINJA RECRUITING SHANE MORRIS, who gives them helmets with wings and beckons they fly with him to the land of a thousand trees.
Tennis lost to Notre Dame (BlueDragon's comprehensive paume update) at some point in there, but you get the idea. Lets_Go_Blue put up an imaginative photo recap of the weekend in the diaries. Posbang thread? Posbang thread.
I'm So Softball Right Now You Guys! The shutout streak is now up to four games, thanks to Michigan's magnificent freshmen starters. I suddenly feel like doing lines!
Haylie is a clone of Jordan Taylor (even played for the same league in Orange County) and is the crafty lefty complement to Driesenga. As such Wagner wasn't supposed to have a lot of strikeouts but, uh, well look above. The other shutout was Junior Stephanie Speierman, who was 18-1 last year with a 1.88 ERA in 122 innings. I had to look at several other top teams to convince myself these rotational riches are as ridiculous as they look. They are.
The Quantum of Verisimilitude. After watching smart people commit to Hoke in droves over the weekend, Urban Meyer, Legendary Recruiter™ put up a sign so full of deceit people thought he was running for office (hyuk!). Accordingly, people who take twit pics of things made by twits at face value sent it around the internet. Enter Diarist of the Week Michael Scarn, who took the crucial step of, you know, a few cursory Googles to pull the real numbers from the teams' respective media guides.
Yes, our readers with
Office Space The Office joke names are better at research than whoever's doing the signs for Ohio State's head coach. I'm sure this has nothing to do with which school is a better research institution.
Which school is the better research institution? U.S. News & World Report has its new rankings for "Worlds Best Universities" and M is 14th in the world, 10th in the nation, and 2nd among FBS schools. Ohio State (111th in world, 35th in U.S.) isn't so hot, though they'd still be middle of the Pac 12, upper quarter of the ACC, and only behind Texas-Austin anywhere else. The Big Ten is back ahead of the Pac, more because of the Oregon schools than what they added. Other bits of interest I put in a table-tastic diary.
Every Goal Against Northern Michigan. This is
one of my favorite new regular column, a weekly picture-paging of M scoring by CenterIce. Since most of my hockey knowledge comes from watching Lidstrom, the one I was instantly nodding at was the scoring opportunity created by Merrill having an NHL head on his shoulders:
Head up the whole way Merrill gets the puck from Moffie and finds Deblois cutting through the middle.
The Northerners are all kinds of confused, obviously since the blueliner has closed his legs like he's in shot blocking position.
It's Aaaaaalive! The 2013 Offer List has been updated.
Etc. The Mathlete clarifies his maths, but this doesn't make sense unless you read Bill Connelly (of SBNation blog Football Study Hall)'s response to the Mathlete original. Video of last week's defeating of Ohio State, and the Sugar Bowl.
Best of the Board
GO SOUTH ON U.S. 23 AND LOOK FOR THE GIANT TOILET BOWL
Remember kids, helpful Google Maps reviewers should always get upvoted. Unfortunately this well-executed trolling has been found and restored back the THE College of Performing Bears.
When you search for directions to Ohio Stadium on Google Maps…oh I'll let you try it.
Etc. Salute to Percy Bates, retiring after more than two decades as the AD's faculty rep. HT Section 1.
So... that happened. Let's just start right in, shall we?
My Totally Normal, Uneventful, Relaxing Weekend
I was tipped off about the impending Kyle Bosch commitment on Friday evening, so I pre-wrote the "Hello" post, called it a night, and felt like I was ahead of the game.
At 3:20 pm on Saturday, I got this message from Heiko: "LOL your job." I would get the same message again 24 hours later. Over the course of 48 hours, I ended up writing eight commitment posts: Kyle Bosch, Wyatt Shallman, Jourdan Lewis, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. I no longer have the words to describe what went down—though the progressively more slap-happy tone of my posts as the weekend wore on serves this purpose well—so luckily other people wrote stuff, too.
Maize n Brew's Zach Travis discussed the implications of the weekend haul and compared it to Texas's ritual Junior Day bonanza:
That is eight four-star recruits all considered to be in the top-200 to Rivals.com, two linemen with a realistic chance of moving up to five-star range, and one of the best single day hauls outside of Texas's annual Junior Day Commitment Extravaganza.
Michigan, to my knowledge, has never had a six-commit day or an eight-commit weekend—at least in the documented internet recruiting era*—and Texas came up with exactly zero commits on their Junior Day this year. We need a new benchmark, though I think "That Weekend in February of 2012" is now it. Rivals.com's Mike Farrell utilizes the same comparison, mostly because there isn't anything else to equate this to:
"I've never seen anything like this—it's Texas territory," Farrell said in comparing U-M to the Longhorns, notorious for cleaning up early. "This is something new. It's pretty remarkable. I think they got the right guys on campus and that they really know the kids they are recruiting. They've got a good feel for kids who might be ready to pop - that said, they still did a good job to actually get them to jump on board.
"Got the right guys on campus" is probably in reference to Hoke, Mattison, et al, but it could just as easily refer to Shane Morris, whose role as a recruiter is clearly having a huge affect. Morris was the subject of an Angelique Chengelis profile today centering around his efforts as a pitchman:
The affable, congenial Morris has taken hold of the social media and works Twitter and Facebook, sending messages to potential future Wolverines. He makes calls, sends texts and emails, helping to secure commitments from the best high school players with whom he'll be teammates at Michigan.
"Oh, definitely. Hope so," Morris said enthusiastically when asked if he has impacted the Wolverines' recruiting. "I'm definitely recruiting all the time. We want to win national championships at Michigan and we're going to need the best players in the nation to do that."
Anyone who is on Twitter is likely aware of Morris's dogged recruiting efforts, and Taco Charlton took to the social media platform last night to relay his story of how he came to commit:
— Taco Charlton (@thekidTC33) February 21, 2012
I'll give Farrell the last word from an article hyping up the upcoming recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State, who all of a sudden find themselves playing catch-up despite having a five-star and three four-stars in the fold (the rest of the B1G—four total commits, period):
"Urban Meyer's the Axl Rose of recruiting," Farrell said. "He's the rock star. Brady Hoke is not out there like that. He's not the same type of guy. He's an old-school, shoot-it-straight guy. But he's obviously getting the job done at an equal level. With these two, recruiting will be fun because they're unlike each other. That's going to make things very interesting. They each have different approaches to things. It's going to be a great battle.''
Let's hope Florida was Meyer's Appetite for Destruction, and we'll now spend a decade waiting for Chinese Democracy before realizing we don't care anymore. Alright, there's no way that's how things will turn out, but one can hope.
*The six listed by Rivals for one day in 2003 did not actually happen that way; I think they were just catching up and didn't specify the exact dates. Seth, who probably summed up my weekend better than anyone, has the correct listing.
Hoke Never Sleeps, 'Cause Sleep is the Cousin of Death
The fallout from this weekend spills over into a second section because it deserves as much. Steve Wiltfong caught up with both Kyle Bosch and David Dawson in the aftermath of their commitments to get their thoughts on why they committed, and both are well worth a read. Here's Bosch, who had this gem [emphasis mine]:
At the beginning of the day, I started to hint that I was going to commit. I told Coach Borges maybe next month I could see myself commit. Then the director of player personnel Coach Singletary came over to me and I said maybe next week. I then went in the bathroom and talked to my mom on the phone and we talked about it, Michigan State and Stanford. It came down to academics. I have a ton of respect for Michigan State and Stanford. I think they’re both outstanding schools, but it came down to academics. Michigan is the right place for me.
Those of you still smarting from Josh Garnett's decision to go to Stanford will find that especially cathartic. The only thing that could make that quote better would be if Jim Harbaugh was still coaching the Cardinal.
I guess I got the order wrong when putting up Dawson's and Lewis's commitment posts, because it sounds like the offensive lineman beat his teammate by a matter of seconds:
I talked to my mom about if Michigan offered me, would I commit on the spot. She was okay with it. She liked it for the academics, and the academics came before the football.
We were talking to Coach Hoke and he offered me. I looked at my mom and then looked at him and I told him I’d like to commit. He asked me if I was serious, and he jumped up and started yelling. He shook my hand and gave my mom a hug, gave me a hug. Everyone was screaming and it didn’t make it any better when J (Jourdan Lewis) walked in and said he was committing too. It was a great feeling yesterday.
Given Hoke's propensity for screaming and hugging when a recruit commits in person, I'm kindly requesting that the next player who plans on doing this records the whole thing on their smartphone. I imagine it's a sight to behold. Speaking of Hoke, he apparently doesn't sleep, because by the time Jake Butt committed on Sunday, he was in Florida schmoozing with some bigwig donors:
Before offering his pledge the Pickerington North star decided to travel home and mull things over just a little bit more, but that he was close to making his choice was likely evident to all. Even so, that didn’t stop his future coaches from reacting to the news like they had received the surprise of the year.
“I actually told Coach Hoke, Coach Borges, and Coach Ferrigno and they were all really excited," Butt stated. “Coach Hoke was down in Florida talking to some boosters for the university, and he just let out a big scream when he heard it. (Laughter) They all said I made their night and they can’t be happier for me. This is really great.”
I wonder if Hoke had any voice left by the time Tuley-Tillman committed. Given that he can barely talk after games, I have to imagine the weekend was hell on his larynx.
Ethan Pocic—one of just two weekend visitors to not commit, along with Rod Crayton—reportedly enjoyed his visit and said Michigan "went up in [his] view." ($, info in header). There was a false Twitter report out there that he had named a top three that didn't include Michigan, but Pocic soundly denied doing so.
That wasn't all on the weekend, by the way. Michigan also managed to pick up a couple of preferred walk-on for 2012, both long-snappers. Saline's Taybor Pepper—the #7 long-snapper in the 2012 class on Chris Sailer Kicking—actually jumped the gun and committed on Thursday. Fenton's Tyler Tokarsky announced his commitment via Twitter yesterday. Both links contain video and more info on a couple of guys who will hopefully remain anonymous barring a Jareth Glanda moment.
Offers, More Offers, Visits, Lists, Etc.
Prepare for a massive bulleted list, as Michigan has sent out a ton of offers in the last week. These are in no particular order, just how my tabs happened to show up:
- Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton was offered a scholarship while on his Sunday visit to Ann Arbor ($). Crayton was very impressed by the fact that he would have three D-line coaches at Michigan.
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes ($, info in header), the #21 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals.
- Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls, who told aquaman he's being offered as a DE.
- Wyomissing (PA) Area LB Alex Anzalone, a four-star on Rivals who also has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.
- Everett (MA) OL John Montelus, the #214 prospect on Rivals—I had a chance to catch up with him last week and he mentioned a desire to visit Michigan.
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow, the #107 player on Rivals, recently grabbed offers from Michigan, Arizona State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Washington State.
- Santa Monica's Sebastian LaRue is another California wideout to grab an offer ($, info in header). He's the #141 overall player in the Rivals250.
- Rancho Cucamonga (CA) DB Chris Hawkins told TomVH that a Wolverine offer was one he and his father were waiting on ($). Hawkins is the #159 prospect according to Rivals.
- Washington DC Gonzaga ATH Devin Butler is a three-star on 24/7, and he told Clint Brewster he plans on visiting in the spring ($).
- Dallas (TX) Kimball DT Justin Manning, the #89 player on Rivals, also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
- Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley is another in a long line of D-I prospects from one of Ohio's most storied high school programs. He told Scout that he grew up as a Michigan fan and was very excited by the offer ($).
- A third Rivals250 WR from California, Oakley Freedom's Darrell Daniels, now has offers from Michigan, Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon State after a strong showing at the U.S. Army combine ($).
- Tempe (AZ) Marcos De Niza CB Priest Willis is the #84 overall prospect on Rivals, and Michigan's offer gave him 16 total ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker is a four-star and the #214 prospect to 24/7, but Michigan became one of his first two offers along with, coincidentally, San Diego State ($).
- Three-star Randolph (NJ) guard Brendan Mahon added offers from Michigan and Temple last week ($, info in header).
- Belton (TX) TE Durham Smythe—who I posted an interview with this morning—got his Michigan offer last week, though it might be difficult to pull him from Texas.
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis, the #93 prospect on Rivals, got his Michigan offer last week.
- The Wolverines also offered 2014 DT Andy Bauer, a big-time recruit from St. Louis (IL) De Smet who visited two weeks ago.
As you can see, the Wolverines are heavily targeting the top talent in California, a likely product of Brady Hoke's connections there from his time at San Diego State. That offer list is also littered with prospects from the Rivals250, as Michigan is able to focus on blue-chip players with a small class that's now already halfway full. We'll see how judicious they are with their offers moving forward; three players—Donovan Munger, De'Niro Laster, and Ross Douglas—visited on Monday and did not get offers extended. Tight end Jacob Matuska, who does hold an offer, also was on campus yesterday.
Several players have expressed interest in visiting lately, and a couple of them are quite noteworthy. Five-star CA S/LB Su'a Cravens told Scout that Michigan will get one of his five official visits, in large part due to his relationship with Hoke dating back to his days with the Aztecs ($, info in header). Two blue-chip prospects from Good Counsel in Maryland will visit for the April 14th spring game in five-star corner Kendall Fuller and four-star linebacker Dorian O'Daniel. Four-star WR Robert Foster has confirmed that he'll visit Michigan State next weekend, and it's a possibility that he'll swing by Ann Arbor as well. Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the #64 prospect on Rivals, will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($, info in header).
Unfortunately, it can't all be sunshine and lollipops, as some players either named top groups that exluded Michigan or committed elsewhere. Five-star FL OT Laremy Tunsil named a top two of Florida and Georgia ($, info in header). Four-star VA DE Jonathan Allen named Alabama as his favorite after receiving an offer ($, info in header). Four-star VA safety Tim Harris named a top two of Virginia and Virginia Tech, though he expressed interest in visiting both Michigan and Ohio State ($, info in header). Louisville (KY) Trinity CB Ryan White named a top two of Louisville and Illinois, and his teammate, DE Jason Hatcher, has also expressed strong interest in the Cardinals.
We wish happy trails to four recruits: Dallas (TX) Jesuit WR Jake Oliver committed to Texas, while his teammate, OL J.J. Gustafson, committed to Texas A&M. Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard pledged to the Buckeyes. While he didn't hold an offer, Birmingham Brother Rice LB Johnny Reshke will likely be one the top 2013 prospects in the state, and he committed to MSU last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles RB Deveon Smith—whose recruitment will likely come down to Michigan and Ohio State, and says it's "50-50" between the schools regarding his favorite right now—in his most recent DetNews column. Wiltfong recaps the Best of the Midwest combine, which featured five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith—the event's MVP—as well as linebacker Tim Kimbrough, defensive end Elijah Daniel, and several potential Michigan targets. Allen Trieu scouts last week's Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom—ND commit Steven Elmer, Cass Tech junior DT Kenton Gibbs, and 2014 Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell are mentioned as standouts ($).
Content note: I'll come back to Manball Matrix next time. I thought this was more timely. Note II: So you won't miss another commitment, while reading this article you are advised to hit refresh on your browser at regular intervals.
It was a commit-a-palooza unlike Michigan had seen since scholarship offers were sent by telegram and a signing ceremony was when a young player stepped off the platform of Kerrytown Station to serenades by hawkers, haberdashers, and hazing-minded upperclassman. Within one week of Michigan's annual summer camp, seven players were moved to end their recruitments and commit to the Wolverines' Class of 2004:
The verbal explosion was mostly camp commits, i.e. guys who impressed enough to earn an offer which they immediately accepted. In an age when mid-June was still quite early to be filling nearly half of a class, Commit-a-Palooza '03 was remarkable. With Morgan Trent and Max Martin this was 9 of eventually 22 signed.
[Quick: two more recruits probably just pledged; hit refresh now!]
Michigan later filled that class with Henne, Jamar Adams, Alan Branch, Jamison, Arrington, and a lot more roster fodder who appeared unremarkably in early UFRs, or didn't. At the time I wrote an email I just spent way too much time trying to find that talked about early signees of years prior. The point was to temper the post-euphoric expectations of pre-Facebook friends by showing how previous early birds had a greater chance of busting, what with all the offseasons, lifting clubs, and senior years between now and National Signing Day. Then I proved myself inconclusive.
With an 8-man commit-fest that forced me to put time stamps in my database to keep track of % of class filled, and which puts the '03 bonanza to shame [refresh reminder], let's try it again. Here's the players, classes 2003 to 2011 in my database who committed to Michigan at least 50 weeks before National Signing Day:
I didn't include several guys who later decommitted, but I did count Will Campbell, who verbaled to Michigan in June of 2007 (!) and a year later decided to lead Rodriguez on a merry chase until 5 weeks to NSD. Many of these guys—Hollowell, Helmuth, Chambers, Trent—committed on the offer after Junior Day.
Well there's Mario, and…well that's a lot of guys who didn't or haven't lived up to their hype. Schifano gave up football, Grady was overrated before he was the guy you could count on to get Michigan at least a mention in the Fulmer Cup, Chambers and Helmuth were whiffs, Cissoko … his thing, and these days the extent of our Campbell and Ricardo dreams are Gabe Watson and Tim Massaquoi.
Busts can come from any time, and this is a small sample of early RR and late Lloyd recruits who didn't have the pedigrees of the solid-to-high 4-stars Hoke is bringing in. Taking out kickers, players with more than half of their eligibility left, guys who didn't qualify, guys who lost their best years to injury before we could get a feel for their evaluation, and proprietors of Fck Lions, here's the apparent success rates by when they committed:
|Weeks to NSD||OvRtd||+/-1*||UnRtd||Success Rate||Avg Diff||Tot|
|50 or more||4||6||--||60.0%||-0.95||12|
|40 to 49||5||10||--||66.7%||-0.50||17|
|30 to 39||3||22||1||88.5%||-0.29||35|
|20 to 29||7||15||1||69.6%||-0.52||27|
|10 to 19||4||9||--||69.2%||-0.31||17|
|5 to 9||5||25||1||83.9%||-0.52||36|
|1 to 4||1||8||--||88.9%||-0.22||19|
|Week of NSD||5||18||2||80.0%||-0.26||29|
"OvRtd" (overrated) to me means guys who probably should have been pegged at 1.5 or more stars below their Scout/Rivals average. "UnRtd" means 1.5 or more stars and were, in order, Hart, Molk, Branch, Englemon and Omemeh. Google Doc here so you rip apart my totally subjective ratings. "Total" on right includes the guys I cut out so you can see the flow of a recruiting year before the Hoke era. FYI 30 to 39 week corresponds to about May-June.
[Refresh now anyway.]
Does this mean anything for the flood of early pledges this week, or much of this year's class for that matter? I don't really think so, no. Mostly what this says is that Michigan had a ton of busts over the last decade of recruiting, and that juniors who commit immediately upon receiving a camp offer are seldom primo athletes.
As of now Michigan has filled approximately half of its projected Class of 2013, (figuring on 22 total) at a point in the cycle when traditionally only about 6 percent of the class has taken shape. A look at previous 50-percent points demonstrates just how unprecedented this is for Michigan:
|Year||Commits||Avg Stars||50% Full By||Days to NSD||Final Scout Rk||Final Rivals Rk|
A handful of these 2013 guys—maybe one or two more than of a class put together later in the year—will probably disappoint from their lofty rankings. This is an inevitability. In fact count on a few never making it to campus, because 17-year-olds change their minds exactly as fast as popular music turns over. But then when you add up that attrition and apply it to the class that formed over the weekend, it's still shaping up to be one of the best incoming groups since Yost was greeting his freshmen at the train station.
So hit refresh one more time, because it only gets better from here.