talk to caris yo
the greatest mid-february weekend in the history of mid-february weekends
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.
I... just... what? Out of the blue, Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman joins the commit parade, becoming the eighth—THE EIGHTH—player to commit to Michigan over the weekend. All are four-star recruits. Michigan just went from "solid, but small, early class" to "by far the biggest and best class in the country." The Wolverines already have more top 150 ESPN prospects than they did in the entire 2012 class, which was universally regarded as being among the ten best in the country. Ten of the team's 11 commits are ranked among the top 200 on Rivals, with five making the top 100. There are no words to describe what is going on right now. Trust me, I tried, and this happened:
4*, 94, #13 OT,
Ho, hum, just another four-star commit with a top-100 pedigree on at least one site. Tuley-Tillman seemingly came out of nowhere before bursting onto the scene with a flurry of big-time offers that hasn't really let up since the fall, and the recruiting services have taken notice. Tuley-Tillman is listed at 6'7" and 280-301 pounds, depending on where you look, but he's told me at this point he's up to 304 and still adding (good) weight.
Very little was known about Tuley-Tillman until he participated in the Core 6 Showcase this January, but Josh Helmholdt did manage to do a breakdown of his junior film in November ($):
On film, I love the way Tuley-Tillman keeps his feet moving. You rarely see him reaching for blocks. In pass pro he sets up, engages the defender and stays in front of his man through the whistle. He still needs work on his punch and again strength is a development point, but we're talking about juniors in high school here and the strength will come.
In run blocking he fires out low and gets into the defender quickly. Once he latches on, his legs keep driving and his pancake rate is high. I love the way he finishes blocks and he appears to have a nice mean streak on the field, which is always welcomed by offensive tackle coaches. Tuley-Tillman is tall and lean, has solid technique and does a lot of the little things correct.
Given that Tuley-Tillman has added 20+ pounds since his junior season, it'll be interesting to see if strength is talked about as an issue when he hits the field for his senior season; my guess is no. As mentioned above, the Core 6 Showcase was when scouts really got to get a good look at Tillman. I'll start with Helmholdt's impression ($):
Listed at 6-7 and now weighing more than 300 pounds, Tuley-Tillman has ideal size for the offensive tackle position in college. He does have some excess weight he can trim in the coming months and years, but his athleticism is above average and he has the tools necessary to play the left tackle position. Another thing I like about Tuley-Tillman at the left tackle spot is that he is left-hand dominant, which can really benefit a player protecting the quarterback's blind side. Tuley-Tillman showed a nice mean streak on Monday, but also will have to learn to be more disciplined as his game develops.
As you'll see, technique is noted as an area to work on—not at all uncommon among junior linemen—but the potential is there for Tuley-Tillman to be a fixture at tackle. 24/7's Jason Sapp disagreed with Helmholdt about Tuley-Tillman's possible position, though this is the only time that I've seen the possibility of moving to guard even mentioned offhand:
Worked primarily at left tackle ... Long body and athletic legs ... Good first kick and reposts his arm well on counter action ... Will work on technique as his body matures and develops, but a high ceiling to be a force on the line ... Wide base and a college strength program would help strengthen his core and allow for a stronger push on the line ... Not a finished product and has some areas to improve heading into senior season, but in the early phase he looks like a stronger candidate for the right side of the line or possibly bumping down a man at the collegiate level.
Finally, here's Allen Trieu from a great Sam Webb feature in the Detroit News (well worth a read if you don't know about Logan's tough upbringing in Peoria):
"He is very athletic," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "You can't teach his ability to move and bend at his size. He's light on his feet, changes directions well, and he's a hard working kid with a great attitude. He is very very coachable. He needs to still get stronger and maybe a little meaner on the field. He also still has to work on his technique, but he is currently doing that.
"In Illinois I think he's one of the top 10 juniors right now. Potentially, he could be a Scout300 guy, which would mean four-stars. I'd like to see him up against some top competition on the camp circuit, but in terms of physical tools, he's as gifted as anyone I've seen in the Midwest."
To sum it up, Tuley-Tillman has a huge frame, very good athleticism for his size, and a great work ethic, while he needs to get a little stronger and shore up his technique.
Tuley-Tillman's top two schools were Michigan and Alabama, and he also held offers from Arkansas, Boston College, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Mizzou, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Not bad for a guy who was relatively unknown heading into his junior year.
No stats, offensive lineman.
FAKE 40 TIME
There's no listed 40 time for Tuley-Tillman, so I can't dole out any FAKEs.
Junior highlights—I think any questions about his mean streak are answered at the 0:30 mark:
Linebacker fall down go boom.
There's also film from Tuley-Tillman's workout at the Core 6 Showcase, courtesy of Scout.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Tuley-Tillman becomes the fourth offensive line commit in the class, and it appears he's destined for tackle along with Chris Fox; Kyle Bosch and David Dawson project best to guard (or in Dawson's case, potentially center) at the collegiate level. Tuley-Tillman will likely need a redshirt year to develop technique as well as build strength, though he's already adding weight and getting stronger due to his regular workouts at Core 6. No matter what he does on the field, however, it's clear that Michigan is getting another great person in their locker room who won't take this opportunity for granted:
"Coming up in this city I had a lot of friends that were on the right track and had opportunities like me, but got killed or wound up in jail," said Tuley-Tillman. "For me, (failure) is not an option. Not working hard is just not an option. I will do whatever it takes to send myself to the next level. Every time I'm at home and I see my niece, I just look in her eyes and I just know that she depends on me to do something for her — (something) to better (our) future. I want success as bad as I want to breathe. It's not something that won't happen for me. It's something that will happen because I'm doing all the things in order to get there."
Logan's determination has come through in the several chances I've had to interview him, and he knows how big of an opportunity this is for him and his family. He also regularly does community service work to help give back for all the help he's received over the years; I'm guessing he'll be a regular on the team's visits to Mott Children's Hospital.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As I've now said three other times this weekend, Michigan will either stand pat at four offensive linemen—meaning either Dawson or Bosch will wind up at center—or look for a fifth OL to fill that role. Either way, the Wolverines have already put together an offensive line class that rivals this year's incoming freshmen in terms of quality, a remarkable feat considering we're not even three weeks past signing day for the 2012 class.
The Wolverines now have 11 commitments overall, about half of what they'll likely have at the end of the recruiting cycle. The focus will now turn to adding at least two wide receivers, an all-around tailback, at least one defensive tackle, and a little depth in the back seven of the defense.
I'M RUNNING OUT OF CAKE
Also, I'm typing this post with my forehead, so you'll have to excuse any typos. Michigan has now pulled in seven (SEVEN!!!!!!!) recruits in less than 36 hours, as Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt just announced his pledge to the Wolverines after visiting Ann Arbor yesterday. Michigan now has ten total recruits in the class of 2013—nine of them consensus four-star types—and their last two both came from Pickerington (Central's Taco Charlton being the other).
4* DE, ESPNU
150 Watch List
|4*, 90, #10 TE|
Butt is a highly-regarded prospect as both a tight end and defensive end, but the coaches have told him he'll be a TE at Michigan. He's a four-star to every site but Scout, who hasn't released extensive rankings yet, and a top-100 prospect on Rivals. The general consensus on Butt is that he stands at 6'6" and around 220-230 pounds, giving him a great frame for tight end.
Most evaluations of Butt, especially from his sophomore year and last summer, focus on his ability as a defensive end, but I did dig up a few that looked at his ability on offense. Here's Josh Helmholdt breaking down Butt's game tape ($):
The first thing you notice when turning on the tape is his frame. He is a lean 6-6 and 220 pounds and very athletic for his size. The Pickerington North staff uses him all over the field. On defense he'll play with his hand in the ground, or drop back and cover a slot receiver. On offense he can be tight to the formation and used to block or split out as a wide receiver ... he is a natural pass catcher and his speed is above average for the tight end position. He also shows great competency and willingness as a blocker. Butt is an outstanding defender and could be a big-time rush end in college, but at this stage I like his upside at tight end a little better. He has the size to block in the run game and the athleticism to be a major threat in the passing game.
Butt has the versatility to line up as a tradition tight end, H-back, or split wide, and he told me last week that the coaches plan on using him in multiple roles. With Khalid Hill committed in the class as more of an H-back, expect Butt to be the more traditional tight end in this class, playing down on the line. Allen Trieu had this to say about Butt in a Sam Webb profile at the Detroit News:
"Jake is an athletic kid with a great frame," Trieu said. "He still has to add more weight and strength to his game, but he runs well for a kid of that size and is a very coordinated athlete. On offense he catches the ball well, his height makes him a matchup problem, and his athleticism allows him to create separation. At the same time, Jake is one of those rare kids who I think projects very well to both sides of the ball. I think he's a BCS prospect on both sides of the ball. For most schools it sounds like he's a defensive end right now, but a handful see him as a tight end too."
Tim Sullivan (YTTS) says that Butt's "6-6, 230-pound frame is more than adequate for the position, and he has good hands and the ability to make plays after the catch." Jake gave his own self-assessment in the above Webb article:
"I have my size, athleticism, and I don't take a single play for granted," Butt said, confidently. "You're going to get the best from me every single play. You can't teach height, so I'm going to give that to the team. As a tight end, if the ball's thrown to me and it hits my hands, it's not touching the ground. It's a catch! On defense if it's third and long and it's a pass rush situation, I'm not going to get blocked by my opponent."
Like his Pickerington counterpart Charlton, Butt is a standout basketball player; as we've seen with NFL tight ends like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham, having a hoops background helps with athleticism, body control, and hands. Combine those qualities with a relentless motor and a willingness to mix it up in the trenches, and you've got a very good tight end prospect.
Butt chose Michigan over offers from Boston College, Duke, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin, and a host of MAC schools. He also had interest from Ohio State—the school he grew up supporting—and Notre Dame, where his grandfather played football.
Butt had 27 catches for 427 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, while also amassing ten sacks and 17.5 TFLs as a defensive end.
FAKE 40 TIME
24/7 lists him at a 4.70, which I'll give a two FAKEs out of five.
This short reel from ScoutingOhio is the only embeddable junior highlight video right now, but you get to see Jake make a couple nice catches and lower the boom while blocking:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Butt is the type of impact, all-around tight end that Michigan couldn't land in the 2012 class, when they brought in a pair of (quite different) tweeners in Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams. Given his well-rounded skill set and the fact that he has over a year to add weight before getting on campus, Butt should compete for immediate playing time at tight end. He can fill multiple roles—Michigan has both a "U" tight end (off the ball) and a "Y" tight end (on the line), and Butt could conceivably play either spot, though I expect he'll spend more time on the line if he's paired with Funchess or Hill.
Butt's potential is probably the highest of any of Michigan's tight end recruits from the past couple of classes, and in an offense that plans to use the position more extensively moving forward, he has the chance to compete for postseason honors down the road. Given the lack of depth at tight end, Butt could easily be a three-year starter at the position.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With Butt and Hill in the fold, Michigan is likely done recruiting tight ends for 2013 unless a player like Adam Breneman—who seems to be more focused on Penn State and Ohio State—decides to come calling. Even then, it could be tough to fit in a third TE to a class that should have 20-22 players, especially with ten spots already accounted for.
Also, wow. That is all.