this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."
Previously on Draftageddon:
- Adam takes a guy with a ~33% chance to start first overall! Joey Bosa lasts until pick 3! Seth is generally sensible! For him that counts as Heiko-ing, I think!
ACE: Round 4, Pick 2: Jack Conklin, OT, MSU
OFFENSE: WR Michael Thomas (OSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)
DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)
Michigan State has assembled a strong offensive line, finishing 7th in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards last year, and the strongest piece of that line is left tackle Jack Conklin, who went from recruiting unknown to a possible franchise tackle:
It has been well-documented that Cook and Calhoun might have been first-round picks had they declared for the upcoming draft, but according to Kiper, the same might have been true about the less-heralded Conklin.
"I think he's a first-round caliber, yes I do,'' Kiper said on his Wednesday conference call, asked about Conklin's upside. "I think Brandon Scherff from Iowa, not much separating Scherff from Conklin, and some may even think that Conklin is a more highly rated player.
"(Conklin) was on my radar because I thought maybe he'll come out, because he has such a high grade, but by going back, you're looking at an elite of the elite. Jack Conklin has a chance to be a very very high first round pick, certainly the first offensive tackle off the board.''
The former walk-on has allowed only 2.5 sacks in his 27 career games, which include 23 consecutive starts at LT. Ohio State's fearsome pass rush produced just one sack against MSU last year; that came from DT Michael Bennett. Only Baylor DE/Terminator Shawn Oakman gave Conklin much in the way of trouble last season, and nobody else's team in this exercise has a Shawn Oakman, let alone a Joey Bosa.
SETH: Round 4, Pick 3: Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers
OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich)
I'm going off the premise that I'm being judged on what Carroo accomplishes with Connor Cook throwing to him. But it's not like any of the 94 targets he turned into 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns were made easy by Gary Nova.
There are two schools of thought on the "Carroo did a lot of that on broken plays" theory. Ace gave you one. Here's another: behind a turnstile offensive line, Gary FRIGGIN NOVA was the third most efficient passer in the Big Ten last year, in large part because running around like Miley Cyrus then chucking it at Carroo and three defenders was a totally efficient thing to do.
I scouted this guy for last year's draft because Bill Connelly's targeting (YPT, NEY, RYPR) stats made Carroo pop out among the conference's best. I didn't end up taking Leonte then because the majority of his yards were against lightweights. Carroo still torched bad defenses (151 yards vs. WSU, 140 on Tulane, 125 on Indiana) in 2014, but also had 84 yards on 6 catches while matched against Jordan Lucas, 5 for 100 against Doran Grant, and 6 for 104 on Will Likely. Trae Waynes got the better of him (1 catch for 6 yards on 5 targets); Michigan stuck a safety over him and got bombed everywhere else. He finished top 10 in the country in all three of Connelly's imperfect metrics, indistinguishable from Lippett.
Michael Thomas is an excellent Avant; Carroo as a junior was more comparable to Braylon at his age (67 catches, 1035 yards 10 TDs). Yes, with the occasional drops. Still a highly dangerous weapon I didn't think would slip to me.
ADAM: Round 4, Pick 4: Jordan Westerkamp, WR, Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 1: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Westerkamp is suspended for the first game for tying a damsel to some train tracks
OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU)
DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU)
Westerkamp is best known for the time he hauled in a catch that looked like a Madden glitch, but there's more substance to him. His 65.7% catch rate and 11.1 yards per target are both better than oft-targeted (25.6% of passes) former teammate Kenny Bell's 54.0% catch rate and 9.1 YPT. Westerkamp was targeted on just 19.7% of Nebraska's passes, but that will rise due to the departure of the poofily coiffed hair and production of Bell. (I realize his hair had nothing to do with how often Westerkamp got the ball, but it's impossible to write about Kenny Bell and not mention the hair.) While Bell was more frequently targeted than Westerkamp on passing downs (25.6% to 17.1%, respecitvely), Westerkamp again had the better catch rate (60.7%) and YPT (14.0); even when defenses had an idea where the ball was going Westerkamp was able to put up good numbers. I'll happily take a guy who has a better catch rate and YPT than a fifth-round draft pick who was first-team All-Big Ten last season.
If the ball is ever going to get to Westerkamp there should probably be an offensive line, and Spriggs is arguably the best available with Decker and Conklin off the board. Spriggs has started at left tackle since he was a true freshman, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten status every season. He's 6-7, 305 and has anchored a line that has averaged more than five yards per carry the last two seasons. While that number was certainly aided by Tevin Coleman, Spriggs' pass protection is an asset. He'll give up two sacks as he does every year and I'll be happy to have one of the top-10 tackles in the 2016 draft. Also:
#iufb OT Jason Spriggs #'s Are NFL Combine Top of the Charts - 40: 4.82 / Vertical: 37.5" / Bench: 455 / 225 Bench: 33 Reps / Clean 365 etc.
— Kevin Wilson (@IUCoachWilson) March 26, 2015
[After THE JUMP: No more Ohio State players! That's right, not even one!]
Your recruiting tactics are pretty creative. What went into tracking down a recruit's girlfriend?
"Yeah, I'm not going to take any recruiting questions. Not allowed to talk about recruiting, unfortunately."
Talk about what you have with Jake Butt and how he's doing.
"Jake, he's doing well. He's a very well-rounded player, brings a lot to the table. Really excited about him. He's getting a lot better and doing a lot to improve the detail of his game throughout his whole game."
How involved has Khalid Hill been able to be?
"He's been very involved mentally in what we're doing and getting stronger and getting prepared to come back at some point. Not sure when that's going to be, but from a mental standpoint he'll be very much ready to go when that does happen."
Ian Bunting – what's he got to do to get on the field this year?
"Just keep growing. He's gotten a lot better. He's the guy who's probably improved the most as spring's gone on here. I've been very pleased with him. Just like all the other guys he brings a tremendous work ethic when he comes out there and just grinds. He goes out there for the entirety of practice and the focus is always on getting better. I really love that about him. So he's really coming along, just has to get better at everything just like everybody else does."
There's not much of an age gap between you and the players. What's it like being just five or six years older than some of them?
"Uh, I don't know. It's fun. They're fun to be around."
Is it like a big brother relationship that you have with some of them or do you hope that it gets to that?
"Uh, No. I don't know. I just feel like their coach. Last year I was with guys who were much older than me and I didn't feel like I was their little brother, So I don't know. They're fun to be around, though. Feel like we have a good professional relationship as far as coaching and I feel there is good mutual respect there, I hope, and I really like being around them."
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]
[Note: there were no microphones for media so I can’t get the questions verbatim from my recording. Instead I’ve gone with the gist of the question.]
“Thank you. Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out today. Exciting day for us as a football program, for the families, and for the youngsters who work so hard to earn a football scholarship and to see that hard work come to fruition today is a very exciting day. We’re very pleased with our class. Very proud, really, and I think everybody that loves Michigan is going to be proud to call these youngsters their own.”
On how difficult it is to come in late in the recruiting process:
“It wasn’t difficult. It was a real joy. It was a real pleasure. Just the things that I learned about some of the players that were already committed under coach Hoke and his regime, and they did a tremendous job.
“You talk about some of those guys- Andrew Paul David. And his confirmation name is John, if you were wondering. Andrew Paul John David. You pretty much got the gospel covered right there. Grew up a Michigan fan. Great love of Michigan.
“Tyree Kinnel, somebody who was handed a Michigan football at birth, was committed here.
“Also, John Runyan Jr. I was told he wore a Michigan onesie when he was a year old.
“People have a love and passion for Michigan football. Grant Perry’s another who recently committed here and signed today. Grew up and Mark’s dad- Mark was a record-setting receiver in the state of Michigan. Over 13 records. But he grew up like me, Grant did. In the shadow of Michigan Stadium, getting autographs from football players and basketball players, dad was a coach. Mark was telling me that he’d bring Grant to practice and as a seven-year-old he always found a way to get a helmet, be running routes, [and] doing amazing things with the football at every practice that he went to. A winner. That’s what I’m really excited about in this class. Those two things; a lot of youngsters that have a real deep desire to be at Michigan and have won, and in Grant’s case he’s won at everything he’s ever done going back to little league baseball, basketball, and football, including three state championships at Brother Rice along with Alex Malzone, who’s also in our class.
“Did I tell you Andrew David was a really good short stop? Heck of a baseball player, too.”
[After THE JUMP: the pickle quote]
Yea, and we shall block things
Ace: Which returning player do you expect to have the biggest breakout season under Jim Harbaugh? Who benefits the most from the coaching change? To keep us from all answering the same thing, first responder gets to take Butt/Bunting.
Adam Schnepp: Butt/Bunting or whoever lines up at Y/TE are obvious (and very merited) choices, but I think that the returning player most likely to have a breakout season under Harbaugh is the guy who ends up being the starting quarterback. That may seem like a strange pick considering that there isn't actually a specific player whom I can definitely name here, but there's pretty solid circumstantial evidence to back up my prediction.
|Beeeeeee goooooooooood. [Fuller]|
Harbaugh's long had a reputation as a quarterback guru, and for good reason: he developed Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick while helping resuscitate Alex Smith's career. Smith had a career completion percentage of 57.1% and threw for 6.2 yards per attempt in the five seasons before Harbaugh arrived. In two years under his tutelage, Harbaugh simplified the offense and Smith's stats benefited for it; his completion percentage in those two years rose to 64.3% while his yards per attempt rose to 7.4.
After years of suffering through Brady Hoke and his offensive staff trying to slam a round peg into a square hole over (Denard) and over (Devin) and over (Shane) again, it's going to be a breath of fresh air to watch Harbaugh implement an offense that's supposed to work to a quarterback's advantage. In the Smart Football article linked above Chris Brown discusses how Harbaugh erased sight adjustments from his offense so that the quarterback didn't have to hesitate when the defense presented coverages that shifted post snap. Instead there were built-in hot routes in every play that didn't require the quarterback to hope the receiver reacted the same way to the coverage they were presented with.
If the past is any indication of the future then whoever wins the quarterback battle is going to have a firm grasp of progressions as well, because Harbaugh tries to make this as simple for the quarterback to rapidly work through as he can (more on that here and here). I expect Harbaugh to implement similar concepts at Michigan, where the power running game should open up options for the quarterback to create the type of big plays that we didn't see last season.
[After the jump: someone will take Butt/Bunting. Eventually.]
Gentry vs Malzone: FIGHT
Quarterback recruiting policies.
I know that Harbaugh has every right to recruit his own personnel, but considering that Malzone is already on campus, did he just get royally screwed? If he never suits up, can he transfer without having to sit out?
The idea that a quarterback would be screwed over by the addition of another guy at his position in the same class is Hoke-era thinking that should be quickly discarded. Wilton Speight doesn't seem to mind:
Boom!! Loading the stable! #goblue
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 25, 2015
sent in the immediate aftermath of Gentry's commit
Every other position sees fierce battles; QB should be no different. And even if Malzone is put off by the idea of sharing a spot in the class with Gentry, I think that's more than offset by the idea of getting coached by Harbaugh and Jedd Fisch.
FWIW, Malzone could transfer after his first semester at Michigan. He would have to redshirt and then would be a redshirt freshman wherever he ended up, as Steven Threet was when he fled Paul Johnson's triple option system at Georgia Tech.
The more likely exit scenario for the quarterbacks who find themselves down the depth chart in the midst of cutthroat competition is to get a degree in three years and then transfer with two years to play two. An increasing number of elite QB recruits are throwing themselves in grinders like Michigan's with that idea in their back pocket. If Michigan is going to take two QBs a year that should be part of the pitch: the least you leave here with is a Michigan degree and three years of kickass coaching. Malzone has a head start on that with his early enrollment.
By the way, with reports that elite CA QB KJ Costello is heavily interested in Michigan, this could be the respective first two QB recruiting years of Hoke and Harbaugh:
- Hoke: Russell Bellomy.
- Harbaugh: Malzone, Gentry, DeWeaver, Costello.
That's one three star previously committed to Purdue versus what is probably four four-star recruits. (Hoke did recruit Malzone but Malzone is a block-M true believer who stuck with his plan to enroll early despite Michigan not having a coach at that juncture.) One of the major reasons the Hoke list is so short is that in deference to Shane Morris they didn't take another quarterback in his year… or the year in front of him. That was a disastrous decision. Let's not do that any more.
Harbaugh won't: at Stanford he took an average of two QBs a year.
Two stars bad. More stars good.
@mgoblog with so many high end prospects out there showing interest,why are we pursuing 2 ⭐️players at any position right now?
— Tessmer (@TyTessmer) January 25, 2015
There are only a couple guys on the board who fit that description: recent OH OL commit Nolan Ulizio and as-yet-unoffered FL CB Markel Bush. Everyone else is at least a three star and—unlike many of the transitional Hoke recruits—courted by or committed to high level BCS schools. (Hoke got decommits from Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Minnesota; Harbaugh has flipped guys from Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.) So Harbaugh is already doing well.
As for the two stars, Bush is clearly a backup plan in case they don't get two of the four guys they've offered (Iman Marshall,
Will Lockett, Damon Arnette, and Jarius Adams). Ulizio is an offensive lineman. Offensive linemen are less likely to fulfill recruiting expectations than any other position, and as you say Michigan had opportunities to look at other, more highly-rated guys. They passed. Is that a concern?
…let's cool it on the judgy bits just yet.
[After THE JUMP: Marrow, length of tenure, Dymonte Thomas, sloxen, Gary Danielson email]
News bullets and other items:
Dennis Norfleet will play against Maryland
Derrick Green may or may not be back against Maryland. He, like Devin Gardner and Jake Butt, are getting healthier every day
President Schlissel called Hoke to apologize for his comments regarding academics and athletics. Hoke said that they recruit kids that fit the Michigan blueprint and that it’s not for everyone
Hoke said the Northwestern game was the offensive line’s best of the season
Nussmeier and Fred Jackson make the decision on which RB has the “hot hand,” and the decision can be made as early as the third series
“Thanks for coming out. Number one, yesterday we had a good chance with the players to look at the Northwestern film [and] make the corrections we need to make, but really emphasize the good things because really that's what you want to see are the good things. We've got to keep emphasizing those things. We practiced and it wasn't long but there was a lot of energy and a lot of good timing, and the one thing when you talk about bye weeks a little bit is the timing. You don't want to lose that part of it or if you need to get a little better you need to get a little better, especially in the pass game and all those things, so that was really productive.
“Start a little bit on Maryland today. I think the most exciting part of it is we are going to scrimmage some of the young guys against some who have played a little bit and those who haven't. We'll do about 30 minutes, probably 25 to 28 plays. When we do that we have to make sure it's going to help the team because those are your look teams going into the next week so I think it will be very good for us.
“Bye week again gives us a chance to rest some guys. I think getting Dennis [Norfleet]back will be very good for us. He'll be healthy. I think the health of Devin keeps – Gardner keeps improving and so in a lot of those guys there's a lot of guys who're just beat up a little bit. That's the way it is in football.
“The other thing is the president made some comments and I've talked to him. He called and apologized for his comments and I'm not going to speak for him. He put out whatever statements or interpretations that he needed to. We have always believed that this is truly an academic University. I was here for eight years before, as you all know, and I think the one thing you know being a former player and a coach is you only play so long and that's what this degree, a Michigan degree, is all about. And being the truly academic institution that it is, that degree will last forever so we take it very seriously. We try and recruit the best football players, the best student-athletes, and people that fit the blueprint here at Michigan. It's not for everybody because it is demanding and that's the way it should be.”
You kind of had the incident with Jake Butt. How much is he a work in progress on and off the field in terms of what he can be?
“I think Jake, he – from an athletic standpoint and all those things he continues to get healthier. He's one of those guys who another week, if we continue to do the right things with him… and the double edge sword is the timing of the routes and all that because you do want to rest guys so that they get a little healthier. I think he’s always developing and we are happy with his development.”
Have you seen the jerseys that his family where is when they come to games?
“I have not.”
Papa butt and headbutt and stuff like that. Have you seen him embrace that? He talks about getting teased about his last name.
“Yeah, he gets teased but… he gets teased.”
[After THE JUMP: We are grinders. It is stupid. Also some academic stuff.]