national champs baby
It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
And now, some specifics:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Offensive Line.
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill
Todays' recruiting roundup covers Laquon Treadwell's top five, new highlight tapes for Denzel Ward and Taco Charlton, new 2013 and 2014 offers, and more.
Reschke Offered, Treadwell's Top Five
Michigan's coaching staff raised some eyebrows over the weekend after finally offering 2013 Birmingham Brother Rice linebacker and MSU commit Jon Reschke, a Spartan legacy who hasn't shown much interest in the Wolverines. Since Michigan had previously turned away linebacker recruits like Alex Anzalone and E.J. Levenberry, saying they were full at the position, the offer caused concern that a current commit was looking around. That doesn't appear to be the case, according to Tremendous, with rumors that Mike McCray was considering Ohio State debunked.
So, why the offer? For one, Brother Rice is a very strong in-state program, and Reschke was reportedly none too pleased with the lack of an offer (or serious interest) from Michigan. More importantly, however, Reschke is a heck of a player—I thought he was deserving of an offer last year, and he's stepped up his game even more this season—and with the fluid nature of recruiting, it's entirely possible that the scholarship situation at linebacker has changed. While I'd be surprised if Reschke flipped from MSU, he's close friends with Shane Morris, and he'd be a worthy addition to the class.
Matters aren't looking up on the Laquon Treadwell front, unfortunately, as he named an ordered top five to Scout's Beth Long after Crete-Monee's state semifinal victory last weekend ($). That top five, in order: Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Michigan State. Treadwell hasn't even visited the two Oklahoma schools yet, though officials are planned to both, but he has been to Oxford; barring a late turnaround—and in recruiting, that's not exactly unusual—this won't end well.
As for a backup plan, scratch MD WR Paul Harris off the list, as he reaffirmed his commitment to Tennessee despite the news of Derek Dooley's ouster, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($). While Harris leaves some room to look around, it doesn't sound like he'll consider Michigan. Michigan did host a committed 2013 prospect last weekend in Trotwood-Madison CB Reon Dawson, an Illinois commit, according to 247's Clint Brewster. The three-star could be another option if/when Gareon Conley starts taking visits.
Michigan also handed out a 2014 offer last weekend, to FL WR Artavis Scott, high school teammate of offered OL Mason Cole, per multiple outlets. Scott is a four-star on all three sites that have released early rankings and is also on the ESPN150 Watch List, so he's universally regarded as a top prospect. The Wolverines have established themselves as one of Cole's early leaders, which should help them with Scott; both visited for the Michigan State game.
[For the rest of the recruiting roundup, including Denzel Ward's junior highlights, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers recruit reactions from the Northwestern game, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Derrick Green, last weekend's high school football results, and more.
Permission To Unbuckle (For Now, At Least)
Michigan picked a good weekend for a dramatic victory, as several recruits were on hand to see the comeback against Northwestern. That included 2013 FL S Leon McQuay III, who was on his official visit; while McQuay's father told 247's Josh Newberg it was "a good trip," Michigan's top defensive target is staying mum on potential leaders ($):
While Michigan remains in the thick of it for McQuay III, he's not tipping his hand to his parents.
"We haven't spoke," McQuay II said. "He hasn't spoke about the visit to me or his mom...You know how it is"
The elder McQuay did say his son got a long look at the music school and was up until 2 am with the "two guys that play music on the team"—presumably Jack Kennedy and Joe Reynolds, aka JDK & Rey. Michigan appears to be right in the mix for McQuay, with USC and Florida State likely posing their biggest threat.
Tremendous reveals that the commitment watch this weekend was for 2014 UT DT Bryan Mone, who discussed the possibility of pledging on his visit but ultimately did not make the call. He did, however, tell Sam Webb that Michigan "feels like home" and is his current leader over Colorado and Utah ($). Mone had previously named both the Buffaloes and Utes as his favorite, so take this news with a grain of salt, but the Wolverines are in very good shape with the first prospect they offered in the class.
There's also a visit reaction at Tremendous from 2014 IL CB Parrker Westphal, who continues to refer to Michigan as "the standard" in his recruitment. Scout, meanwhile, had the Wesphal family in the WTKA studio for an interview, and his older brother Brandon—a junior linebacker at Illinois State—talked about helping Parrker get ahead of the curve (free article):
“It was probably eighth grade midgets and just seeing him running around on the field, his intensity and enthusiasm with everything,” said Brandon. “When I got to college I was teaching him stuff that I was learning so when he was in the eighth grade freshman year he was already like three years ahead of everybody else.”
“Ever since eighth grade it has just been a blast being able to watch him play and just do some things that I wouldn’t have thought he’d be able to do at that age, or any kid.”
Other recruits to keep an eye on from the weekend are four-star OH ATH Dareian Watkins, who said he was "sold on the program" during the Northwestern game, and MI TE Kyle Rachwal, who feels like he's "part of the family" and will be making his fifth(!) visit for a Michigan game next weekend. Neither prospect has an offer yet; if one comes for either, it appears likely they'll be in the class.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the recruiting roundup.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Michigan commits as they progress through high school playoff season, USC's latest decommitment and its possible impact on Leon McQuay III, an emerging name along the offensive line, and more.
Jake Butt: TE/DE/OC?
Michigan commits and cross-town rivals faced off for the second time this season as Jake Butt's Pickerington North squad took on Taco Charlton and Pickerington Central in the first round of Ohio's Division I playoffs on Saturday; the result was similar to their first meeting of the year, as North once again shut out Central, this time 24-0, to advance to the next round. Butt was the star for North, even calling his own number to tally a 29-yard score:
“It’s called a hitch-and-go, and he threw me the perfect pass,” said Butt, who had five catches for 122 yards. “I’d been seeing that the play was open throughout the entire game.”
“Jake Butt called that play,” North coach Tom Phillips said. “He saw it and I said, ‘Just be patient.’”
The future Wolverine tight end also tallied a tackle for loss on defense as North held Central to a paltry 93 yards of total offense.
Elsewhere in Ohio's opening playoff round, cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, with 212 of those yards coming in the second half, as Avon pulled out a 28-11 victory over Perrysburg. Ben Gedeon carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards and two scores to lead Hudson to an upset over three-seed Canton GlenOak. Gareon Conley—yes, still a commit at this moment—had TD catches of 28 yards and one yard and also scored on a reverse as Massillon defeated Nordonia 63-34.
In Division II action, both Mike McCray (36-yard TD, video here) and Jaron Dukes (5 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) recorded touchdown receptions as both Trotwood-Madison and Marion-Franklin moved on to the second round with blowout victories. Junior commit Michael Ferns caught touchdowns of 14 and 35 yards for St. Clairsville, which defeated Harrison Central 41-6 in the first round of the Division IV playoffs.
Seasons ended for a pair of Ohio commits, unfortunately, as a banged-up Dymonte Thomas was limited to 79 rushing yards in a 38-0 loss to Poland, while DeVeon Smith's 147 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries weren't enough to overcome Chardon in a 42-16 first-round defeat.
Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis hauled in a 43-yard touchdown catch in a 42-23 district final win over Dearborn more noteworthy for the work of two running backs—junior Gary Hosey had 143 yards and two scores on 15 carries, while sophomore Mike Weber toted the rock 20 times for 178 yards and a TD. In another Division I district final, Wyatt Shallman had nine tackles, three TFLs, three sacks, and several QB hurries from his defensive end spot in a 45-17 win over Walled Lake Northern, according to his father.
Tim Sullivan caught Malik McDowell in action as Detroit Loyola defeated University Liggett, 50-7, last weekend, and he has free video and a scouting report available over at The Wolverine. McDowell tallied four sacks, all in the first half.
[For the rest of the roundup, including the latest on Leon McQuay III, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Laquon Treadwell's new top five, the Gareon Conley non-situation, last weekend's high school football action, and more.
Noted Amateur Chef Names Top Five
As you'll learn from the above video, IL WR Laquon Treadwell apparently has some talent in the kitchen in addition to the football field. You'll also find out that he has a new top five, in no particular order, of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Michigan State, and Michigan. It appears this was "Interview Laquon Treadwell Week" as you learn from various sources that:
- Treadwell's list is a final one... for now, via Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($).
- He's "basically ready to get this over with" after he takes his officials, while the two Oklahoma schools and Ole Miss have been in the most contact, via 247's Steve Wiltfong ($).
- He's probably going to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-American game, though possibly earlier, according to ESPN's Chantel Jennings ($).
Treadwell has official visits in the works for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Ole Miss, and plans to take unofficials to Ann Arbor (for the MSU game) and East Lansing before making a decision.
As for the direction this one is headed, I don't know, man. I still feel like Michigan has a better shot than any other school on the list; the problem is there are four other schools on the list, and the only choice that would truly shock me is Michigan State. We'll see what he's saying after his visit for the State game; if Michigan hasn't distinguished themselves from the field at that point, it's cause for serious concern.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Gareon Conley, commitment stat updates, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's high school action, the latest on Leon McQuay III, the 2014 ESPN 300 Watch List, and more.
Butt Turns Tables, Defeats Taco
Remember the picture of former Michigan safety Carvin Johnson as the saddest of sad pandas after losing the state title game? Taco Charlton also hates losing, and after his Pickerington Central squad fell 37-0 to Pickerington North—the first time in six tries that North defeated their crosstown rivals—he's the next in line for Agony of Defeat Photo of the Year:
Much like Johnson in that state title game, Charlton was phenomenal in a losing effort, recording ten tackles and 1.5 sacks while playing on offense, defense, and special teams for the Tigers. In the end, though, it was fellow Michigan commit Jake Butt, who finished with nine catches for 92 yards and a TD as well as a crucial fourth-down sack, celebrating a rivalry win on Central's home turf. I'll have much more on this game, including more photos and video highlights, in tomorrow's Future Blue Originals.
Speaking of outstanding two-way efforts, Dymonte Thomas led Marlington to a 34-14 victory with 249 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries and also recorded an interception—all after suffering an ankle injury that forced him out of the first offensive series. Thomas also threw an eight-yard touchdown pass. You can see highlights from the game at the 4:30 mark of this video.
Channing Stribling continued to show why he's regarded as a fast-rising prospect, returning an interception 25 yards for a touchdown for Matthews Butler. According to TomVH, Stribling now has five interceptions in six games on the season as well as a kickoff return for a TD and a receiving TD.
We haven't heard much from Wyatt Shallman, who's been battling injuries, thus far this season, but he had a breakout performance on Friday. Playing defensive tackle, Shallman finished with six tackles, four hurries, a sack, and an interception (returned for 20 yards), via TomVH.
DeVeon Smith rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns on only 12 carries in a 37-14 victory for Warren Howland. Several other commits found paydirt over the weekend, including Mike McCray (77 yard TD catch along with five solo tackles), Gareon Conley (TD catches of 58 and three yards), Ross Douglas (13-yard TD run), Ben Gedeon (71 rush yards and two TDs), and JaRon Dukes, whose 10-yard TD reception provided the winning points in a 7-6 victory.
In other commit news, David Dawson announced on Twitter that he's been invited to represent Team USA in the International Bowl. Also, Magnus has an interesting discussion about Wyatt Shallman's college position over at TTB; I agree with him that Shallman stands out much more on offense, and I believe he'll stick at running back.
[The latest on McQuay's visit plans and more after THE JUMP.]