this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Josh Furman and Richard Ash Go Blue
The audio is poor, but there is commitment video for MD LB Commit Josh Furman:
FL DT Richard Ash actually preceded Furman in commitment. He was snagged from West Virginia, since Rodriguez thought he needed more ways to make the citizens of his home state hate him.
For (much) more on Ash, check out Hello: Richard Ash.
The Wolverines are done on every offensive position except maybe offensive line, unless they can convince an elite recruit to commit (for example FL WR Kenny Shaw, who has Michigan in his final group of 4). In that case, they'd probably dive into the sketchy world of pulling scholarship offers. At this time, it doesn't appear that would happen, unless a couple guys don't look like they'll qualify.
So who's still available on the offensive line? FL OL Torrian Wilson held Michigan as a heavy favorite early in his recruitment, then abruptly committed to Stanford. Now, he's decommitted from the Cardinal and has a top 3 of Michigan, Tennessee, and USF. I would imagine he'll visit in January if he's serious about the Wolverines.
In other news on offense, MI QB Commit Devin Gardner may be able to enroll early at Michigan, after all ($, info in header). That would allow him to compete in spring and be more ready to play this fall, potentially avoiding a redshirt. There's still a lot that can be said about potential redshirts, the personnel at the QB position, etc., but we'll wait to see whether Gardner enrolls early and, if so, what happens in the spring between him, Tate, and Denard before we speculate on who is and isn't switching positions or taking a redshirt year.
Assuming the commitments of FL CB Tony Grimes and FL DE Clarence Murphy, and the strong possibility of a commitment from CA S Sean Parker, Michigan has to be very judicious with their scholarships, with only 1 or 2 to give out. The most likely candidates for those last couple spots would be a true nose tackle (OH DT Commit Terry Talbott and FL DT Commit Richard Ash are more 3-tech types), maybe a true pass-rusher at DE, an inside linebacker, or maybe even another defensive back.
GA DT Michael Thornton is still considering Michigan, and he's going on most of his official visits in January, with one of them possibly to Ann Arbor. Michigan is still behind for him, and would have to catch up to land Thornton.
TX LB/DE Holmes Onwukaife was at one time committed-ish to Michigan, before the Wolverines let him know they wanted him for a position that he didn't want to play. A fast-rising rumor last week said that he was reconsidering his Florida State commitment and would look at Michigan, but MGoBlog's own Tom Van Haaren reports that ain't true. Onwukaife will stick to his FSU commitment.
FL LB Darrin Kitchens will visit Michigan in January. The Wolverines are joined by the Florida Gators in his recent offer, so he's a prospect on the rise. He plans to commit to a school before making any visits, so unless the coaching staff really likes him, he probably won't ever come up to Ann Arbor.
- FL RB Corvin Lamb, a longshot to land at Michigan at this point anyway, has committed to Louisville.
- PA DT Sharrif Floyd can finally be completely removed from the board, as he's narrowed his choices to a group of 5 that doesn't include Michigan.
- MN DT Beau Allen has committed to Wisconsin. He is a 3-technique interior lineman, so Michigan didn't have a strong need for him anymore.
- MS DE Wayne Dorsey, a JuCo who Michigan was only kinda-sorta involed with, signed with Ole Miss.
- CA WR Kenny Stills and CA LB Tony Jefferson, picked Oklahoma, as expected.
- FL CB Travis Williams, who tried to commit to Michigan in the summer but was turned away, has committed to MIami (Not That Miami).
- CA S Dietrich Riley will not consider Michigan among his finalists.
- AZ S Marquis Flowers does not have Michigan in his final group.
- Cullen Christian's teammate and pal PA S Brandon Ifill committed to Pitt.
The Hopson Ripples
Michigan linebacker coach Jay Hopson will move on to Memphis, where he'll be the defensive coordinator. According to Rivals, he was the primary recruiter for the Talbott brothers and TX RB Tony Drake. It doesn't seem like those commitments are in jeopardy, since DT Terry Talbott solidified his Michigan commitment after visiting for the Ohio State game.
As far as Drake goes, there have been no rumblings of a decommitment, but there has been a bit of talk that he still hasn't qualified through the NCAA Clearinghouse. At this point, he's more of a risk to end up not playing college football at all in 2010 than at a different school.
Torrian Wilson (mentioned above) was receiving in-home visits from Hopson, so it's unclear whether the departure will affect Michigan's chances of landing the lineman. Tony Grimes and Clarence Murphy also had Hopson as their primary recruiter, so it's unclear if their commitments are still a mere formality. I'll have to do more digging to see which other uncommitted 2010 prospects Hopson was recruiting.
On to the Next One
With the 2010 class all but wrapped up, let's shift focus to 2011.
MI RB Justice Hayes likes Michigan, Michigan State, and Northwestern, according to Sam Webb in the Detroit Free Press. He enjoyed Michigan's camp last summer:
"I stayed (at the Michigan camp) for three days," he said. "They told me to stay for one day, but I wanted to see what their dorms were like. It was very nice. Throughout those three days I was able to bond with Coach Rodriguez, Coach Jackson, and all the coaches. They were tough on me. Even though it was a camp, they were still tough on me like I was one of their players (laughing). I liked that. It was a fun experience."
But sees that Michigan State has so many disciplinary issues that he'd be able to climb the depth chart quickly (seriously!):
"Michigan State has been losing players like flies in the discipline areas, so that's opening spots on the depth chart," said Hayes.
RENEGADE PROGRAM, BRAH! Hayes prefers to play in a pro-style offense, because it would get him the ball more. He's apparently unaware that not all spreads are the same, and MIchigan's goal is to run it as much as possible.
ESPN's Gerry Hamilton reports that OH LB Trey DePriest will be a big target, not only for Michigan and Ohio State, but perhaps across the entire country:
On the recruiting front, Ohio State, Alabama, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Michigan, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have stepped up with offers. This past season, he made unofficial visits to Cincinnati, Ohio State and Michigan.
DePriest was impressed with the crowd at Michigan Stadium for the Ohio State-Michigan game.
"It was live up there," he said.
He also says that he wants to go somewhere that he can play early. With Michigan's depth chart at linebacker, he could probably freakin' start as a true freshman.
The same article confirms that Michigan will indeed pursue TX S Sheroid Evans (pictured at right). Evans should be a top player in the state of Texas, but he hails from the same school as current Wolverines Brandon Herron, Troy Woolfolk, and Darryl Stonum, giving Michigan a connection. He is a blazer who is still developing position-specific skills, but would be a hell of a grab for the Wolverines.
Another safety Michigan is going after is OH S Ron Tanner, but things don't sound promising from the start:
"Growing up I was a big-time fan of the Bucks, but after experiencing the (Michigan-Western Michigan) game, I really like Michigan," Tanner said during the fall. "I like how you can see everything when you're on the field. At the Horseshoe, the fans are sitting up real high. In the Big House it was like the fans may be a little closer. It doesn't seem like people all the way up into the sky."
Michigan is chasing the Buckeyes for Tanner, but they have a chance to catch up before Ohio State offers.
Added FL CB Eric Mitchell($).
Editorial Opinion: Sort of a light week outside of the Elite 11. There was a Rivals revamp, I guess.
About the departed:
- IL WR Kyle Prater took a visit in the spring and mentioned Michigan high up immediately afterwards but once that faded it became clear he wasn't feeling it. Cramming him into this class would have been difficult in any case.
- FL LB Jeff Luc was a major longshot.
- MD OL Robbie Havenstein mentioned M like once and then went radio silent; I'm not sure how much mutual interest there was in the first place.
- FL CB Nickell Robey said he'd visit, but will not. Minor ding there but CB still looks strong.
- CA LB Tony Jefferson's sudden commit to UCLA robs Michigan of a touted prospect at an area of need; even if they weren't in the driver's seat a 20-ish percent chance of landing him is better than none.
And then there's TX DE Holmes Onwukaife, who tried to commit to Michigan earlier and was told by the coaches that Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz had taken his spot. He was offered the chance to come in as a middle linebacker and turned it down, went to Florida State's camp as an outside linebacker, got offered, and committed. Swing and a miss by the coaching staff here; if Onwukaife pans out it's going to be painful.
Here's a direct example of Michigan's eagerness to accept commitments probably costing them a better class. I mean no offense to Antonio Kinard or Jordan Paskorz, but if I had to pick one guy from the three just based on offers, recruiting buzz, and whatnot, it would be Onwukaife. I know, I know: Rodriguez forges two-stars into firey death machines and so forth and so on. It'll be interesting to see how Kinard, Paskorz, and Onwukaife end up panning out.
Weekly Semi-Creepy Devin Gardner Update
No, it's not this week that sees the recruiting roundup go without mention of Devin Gardner, but I've got a good reason: Gardner just participated in the Elite 11 camp, where he won awards for Best Feet—no doy—and Best In The Classroom. From there it gets schizophrenic. Gardner did not finish in the top five in the "Overall MVP" voting, but did cause Rivals analysts Greg Biggins and Barry Every to swoon:
Rivals.com national analyst Barry Every ranked Gardner as the top overall quarterback at the camp based on long-term potential and the ability to win football games.
“I don’t think there’s any question, after having seen him for four days, how hard he competes and how hard he wants to be the best,” Every said.
Every and Biggins agreed Gardner compares favorably at the same stage of his career to players like Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Juice Williams and Dennis Dixon, all Elite 11 alumni.
Yow. That's a huge disagreement between the camp counselor voting—current college QBs—and the scouting professionals. I'm naturally inclined to take the word of the professionals. According to Every, Gardner is a lock to shoot into the top 100 when Rivals revamps its rankings again. (Odd that Rivals would re-do their rankings before the most important quarterback camp of the year, no?)
Every's other favorite QB there, by the way, was PSU commit and OLSM QB Robert Bolden; MSU commit Joe Boisture finished last. MSU's resident Guy Who Knows Guy Involved With Elite 11 was not pleased with what he heard from his guy.
Other opinions also exist, though they're necessarily less star-struck. Scout's Scott Kennedy:
"Gardner is a superior athlete who is handcuffed a bit by a passing camp that doesn't showcase his playmaking ability with his legs. However, as one might expect, Gardner was solid in the bootleg drills, and while struggling hitting the deep-out to live receivers, Gardner picked up his game in the target practice segment, showing off better accuracy than many of his Elite 11 teammates."
ESPN's evaluation intertwines Bolden and Gardner:
Robert Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich./Saint Mary's) and Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich.) could almost be considered identical. They are the same in height, weight, frame, athleticism, arm strength, dual-threat capabilities -- you name it and they are probably alike in it. It is hard to tell the two apart. Bolden surprised a bit with how compact, quick and capable he was of getting rid of the ball. At times, the ball jumps off his hand with tremendous zip and power. Gardner is mechanically more like Vince Young with a bit of a three-quarter release, but he has the same "pop" out of his arm as Bolden. As the week wears on, these two will likely see a big jump in overall, consistent accuracy. Bolden, a Penn State commit, and Gardner, a Michigan commit, are terrific fits for their respective programs from a scheme standpoint.
Aaand JC Shurburtt:
Michigan commit Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) has also surprised many. His hustle, leadership and athleticism add up to a tremendous maturity that will help him compete early for playing time in Ann Arbor. He was a notch behind Bolden throwing it, but still has a strong arm and excellent size.
All told, a highly positive camp for Gardner and Michigan.
Rivals did rejigger its rankings. Plenty of folks moved around but only a few items seem worth mentioning:
- PA DE Ken Wilkins got a fourth star.
- OH OL Christian Pace did not, which is somewhat surprising given Mike Farrell's almost rapturous praise for his film. I don't care; I think he's perfect for Michigan, and so does Rick Trickett.
- MI RB Austin White dropped a decimal point and is now actually behind MSU commit Nick Hill, which makes no the sense given that Hill's BCS offers were Stanford and State and White was clearly preferred by both instate schools, Wisconsin, Illinois, and LSU. But whatever.
- PA CB Cullen Christian flew up from a three star to the #60 player.
- Various stragglers at the mysterious end of Michigan's class all got their requisite three stars.
Grimes, We Talk To You
Rivals AMP with FL CB Tony Grimes:
Elsewhere in secondary prospects, OH S Bobby Swigert has a Michigan offer, has visited, and says Michigan is in his top group:
“Michigan was amazing. I was impressed with everything I saw, like the facilities and the new indoor building … it was just amazing. Coach Rodriguez is one of the coolest coaches I’ve met. And the academic advisor (Shari Acho) explained everything really well.”
With such a glowing recollection, it’s no wonder the Wolverines are in such a strong standing with Swigert, even though he hasn’t officially narrowed down his list.
“If I was to narrow down my list, Michigan would be in there. They are definitely one of the top contenders.”
On the other hand, OH S Kurtis Drummond now has Michigan State in the lead ahead of Michigan. OH S Latwan Anderson has bumped around his list a ton, with the latest update omitting Michigan. We'll see if that sticks; some recent scuttlebutt says Michigan is still in the running but needs a real visit to stay there.
You are large, but hopefully not too large
With defensive tackles thin on the ground—or too fat and on the ground—Michigan needs to make OH DT Terry Talbott a priority. So hurrah: Tom VanHaaren reports that Talbott will come up for a visit tomorrow. He also snags a quote from his coach:
"As for Terry, his strength is his ability to use his explosiveness to get off the ball and change direction. He is very strong upper body and his core is strong. He, like a lot of High School players need to better define his technique. He has good technique now, but to play at the next level and be successful his technique must be great. He uses his hands well now, but needs to always work on using them better." - Jay Minton
Terry's brother Terrance, a cornerback, is also coming in.
Punters are punting in code
WI P Will Hagerup is apparently the #1 guy on Michigan's board—he's the only guy out there with an offer—and a decision is coming soon. Two schools are seemingly in prime position:
Hagerup mentioned that a commitment could come in the near future, "I will decide within another month for sure."
Before he announces, Hagerup would like the further investigate Ohio State and Michigan, "I'm going to visit Ohio State and Michigan for sure within a couple weeks. I'm going to see practices at both places and take another tour at each school."
If it comes down to playing time, Michigan should win. Hagerup would be able to start at Michigan immediately with Zoltan the Inconceivable scheduled to transubstantiate into pure energy after the season. At Ohio State, AJ Trapasso has just graduated. Redshirt junior John Thoma is atop the depth chart; scholarship incoming freshman Ben Buchanan, Rivals' #3 kicker last year, is listed second.
User Mscharbo15 talked with TX RB commit Stephen Hopkins recently and put up a quick summary on the message board:
- He's graduating in December and will be enrolling early.
- His HS has OSU colors and he "wears them with shame."
- He's excited about the possibility of a home-and-home with Oklahoma State, since the 2010 game would be his first as a Wolverine and the 2011 contest would be the closest thing to a homecoming for him (he's from Texas).
- Although being the one power back in the 2010 class, he claims to be getting faster and quicker (can't hurt).
- Had he waited another month to commit, he likely would have received offers from Oklahoma (!!!), Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Sparty and Arkansas.
- He's heard from somebody in the know that if he has a good senior season he'll vault up to a 4-star.
Ooh: early entrant tidbit. That brings Michigan up to six commits with tentative plans to enroll early (Miller, J. Robinson, M. Robinson, Pace, and Gardner are the others).
Caveat: Though I can't confirm the poster isn't having us on, he signed up 28 weeks ago. Unless he was planning an incredibly long-term hoax in which the payoff is "you suckers thought I talked to a running back commit and posted innocuous things about it MOOOHAHA!" it's legit. The troll probability here approaches zero.
Etc.: ESPN evaluates SC QB commit Cornelius Jones and OH WR commit DJ Williamson, giving them three-star-ish ratings. Williamson sounds like the outside burner who will be stupidly wide open when safeties freak out about Gardner. OH DE Marcus Rush was supposed to visit Michigan Thursday but this apparently did not come off; I think this will be where M and Rush part ways. MD OL Arie Kouandjio has two officials, neither of which are M.
Site note: The number of people who have breached the 20-point barrier that puts people in special roles seems like enough to implement a first moderation step around here: n00bs can't start forum threads, though they can reply to them and comment on whatever. I'm a little worried this might cut off some useful stuff but the recent trend of people signing up and trolling needs reigning in. Consider it experimental.
Also, I'm watching a DVRed copy of the Brazil-USA game in about ten minutes, so content will be a little late this afternoon.
Nonwukaife. So… yeah. TX DE/LB Holmes Onwukaife tried to commit to Michigan a couple days ago but has apparently been denied. Earlier in the year the Travis Williams situation prompted some navel-gazing around these parts, with the upshot being Rodriguez's offer cannon giving me the heebie-jeebies, but this doesn't bother me that much.
Williams was told to wait for other guys to make decisions, basically, which means his offer was not actually an offer. Onwukaife saw two guys commit to his position, then was told the "barn is full; how about middle linebacker?" That's unavoidable, and Michigan tried to make room for him by offering to recruit him at another position.
What does bother me a little: 1) I wrote up a "Hello: Holmes Onwukaife" post which is now useless and 2) in the course of it I convinced myself I liked him a little better than Paskorz. C'est la vie.
Say what, son? Mike Brey, head coach of the fightin' flameouts at Notre Dame:
Notre Dame Mike Brey joked Tuesday that he knows of a surefire way to make certain the Fighting Irish don't have another midseason swoon like last season.
"If we could play in the Big Ten, maybe that would help us a little bit," he said.
Help you do what, exactly? Notre Dame was 1-2 against the Big Ten last year with the win against conference punching bag Indiana and losses against middle-of-the-pack Ohio State and eighth-place Penn State. Big Ten bashing is so ingrained these days that it gets invoked even when it makes zero sense.
Adventures in unwise bets. At Blogs With Balls I saw Orson Swindle pick up a slider, see that it had a tasteless slice of American cheese on it, panic, and then attempt to offload it on a cast of thousands. So I know this to be true:
We hate cheese. It’s not lactose intolerance, but rather a lifelong dislike so intense that our sister used to chase us with pieces of it. We can’t eat it on anything, and the smell of it cooking will drive us out of a room.
So this seems exceptionally unwise:
if Lane Kiffin is still coach at Tennessee in three years, we volunteer to eat a 6 oz piece of cheese on film to commemorate the occasion. The exact variety shall be left up to relevant experts, though really if Joel wants us to eat limburger so ripe it can hold up liquor stores at knifepoint after hotwiring a car, that’s what we’ll eat, even if we end up vomiting up a spleen over it. That’s how convinced we are that Kiffin will fail.
Three years? I, like the rest of the sports blogosphere without a closet full of dayglo orange, am convinced that Lane Kiffin is going to break John L Smith's records for hilarious failure, but even John L Smith lasted four years at State. Maybe if Kiffin was inheriting an unwrecked car, and maybe if he was at a place that had a quick trigger finger, this would be plausible, but, man… it's really hard to get fired in three years.*
*(I'd like Notre Dame fans to know that I excised a terribly funny Willingham-at-ND cheapshot here. Let's hold hands and get ice cream.)
Lacrosse fight. Black Shoe Diaries posted a thing about how Michigan was screwed if they took their dominant club lacrosse program varsity, which Varsity Blue responded to, which brought forth a BSD riposte, and, well, here we are. The main bone of contention revolves around if Brother Rice is freakin' awesome or not, and if Michigan can sustain a competitive lacrosse program on the backs of local talent.
I'm just, all, like… when has Michigan had trouble recruiting privileged kids from New York? People call Alice Lloyd "Lloyd Island," after all. If Michigan has a varsity lacrosse team they'll probably suck up their share of recruits and be competitive.
Etc.: The USA's World Cup bid has slashed 27 venues from its list, but Michigan Stadium is still standing; add Florida State to the teams that run the 4-3 under Greg Robinson is installing at Michigan.
Michigan managed to score two commits while I was in an airport or waiting on a runway for two bonus hours of incredible fun or actual in transit or watching Italy-USA, about which I have to say aaaargh aaaargh Rossi aaaargh.
Tom Van Haaren caught up with commit #1, TX OLB Holmes Onwukaife, this afternoon. Commit #2 is SC QB Cornelius Jones, about whom more later. First, Onwukaife's awesome highlight video, which features the best highlight music ever and lightning bolts.
On with the talking:
TOM: So you committed today, have you gotten a chance to talk to Coach Rodriguez?
[Note: commitments are apparently not 100% official-official until Rodriguez has been called, which is probably why neither premium site has an article up yet. FWIW.]
HOLMES: No sir, I told Coach Jackson, and some other coaches. I'm just waiting for the camps to get over with today, so he can talk.
TOM: Have you been to Michigan yet?
HOLMES: Last summer, at the AAU track meet, I went to Eastern, but never to the University of Michigan.
TOM: What have the coaches told you they like about you as a player?
HOLMES: They like me for the outside linebacker position. They told me they just really like my explosiveness, and my pursuit. They like that I don't give up on the play, and I go after the ball.
TOM: Ok, so what made you decide to commit? What was the difference maker?
HOLMES: I was just waiting for school to finish, and once that happened, I sat down with my family and we decided that Michigan is the best place for me. It's got the best mix of academics and football. It's a great school, with great tradition. Coach Jackson has come out to me, and he's seen me three times now. The effort he put in was well done. We built a good relationship, and developed a bond. I've talked to Will Campbell, Roy Roundtree, and Tony Drake. I just asked them what they liked about it, and how they felt. They all had the same message, that it's just a family once you're there. You're part of something special, and the University really wants you to succeed academically.
TOM: So when do you plan on taking a visit?
HOLMES: I'm not sure the date yet, but I plan on taking my official visit to Michigan. I'm still planning it out.
TOM: So, what's next for you?
HOLMES: Just working hard, focusing our team, we're trying to do big things. I want to stay in contact with Devin Gardner. Stephen Hopkins, and some other guys.