this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Michael Ferns commitment, recruiting in Ohio, SEC sketchiness (surprise!), and more.
You Keep Toledo, We'll Just Take These Four-Stars, Thanks
The big news of the day is obviously the commitment of OH LB Michael Ferns, and the full Hello treatment went up this morning. If you were lurking on the board last night, you witnessed historic levels of excitement, at least if duplicate posts are any indicator:
(Screenshot via MGoUser a2_electricboogaloo)
Maybe it's best to sit the next couple plays out, kaykay. As for Professor X, well, no words do this justice.
Anyway, Sam Webb caught up to Ferns in the aftermath of his commitment, and the newest Wolverine explained his thought process in making an early decision:
“I think when I went back (to Ann Arbor) the second time for the barbecue, I felt good about making the decision,” Ferns admitted. “After that you just kind of look out for the academic stuff focusing on fixing my junior schedule up to graduate early my senior year. After that I was ready to go.”
“Michigan just stuck out to me. After that second visit up there it kind of really stuck out more. I felt good the whole time I was there. I felt great and I knew it was time to make the decision.”
Ferns is all set to enroll early, so he'll be on campus in... 16 months. Criminy.
Michigan's first 2014 commit doesn't just represent a four-star from Ohio, but a four-star from Ohio with an Ohio State offer. It's always great to see The Other Brian surface over at Genuinely Sarcastic, and he emerged last night to detail Brady Hoke's remarkable recruiting run:
Since June 10, 2011, basically 14 months, Brady Hoke has landed eight (8) players from the state of Ohio who held Ohio State offers:
- 2012 DE Tom Strobel
- 2012 OL Kyle Kalis
- 2012 DE Chris Wormley
- 2013 S Dymonte Thomas
- 2013 LB Mike McCray
- 2013 RB Deveon Smith
- 2013 LB Ben Gedeon
- 2014 LB Michael Ferns
In the previous TEN classes COMBINED, from 2002 to 2011, Michigan landed seven (7) players from Ohio with OSU offers:
- 2003 LB/DE Shawn Crable
- 2003 S/LB Prescott Burgess
- 2004 DE/TE Mike Massey
- 2005 WR Mario Manningham
- 2006 OL Justin Boren
- 2008 TE Kevin Koger
- 2009 DB Justin Turner
Well, then. Buckeye fans can somewhat justifiably point to Tressel's firing to explain the 2012 class, but with Urban Meyer fully in place by the time the 2013 cycle started, that line of reasoning only goes so far. There's no question Hoke is doing a better job on the recruiting trail than RichRod could manage at Michigan, and he's also in the process of blowing Lloyd Carr's classes out of the water, largely because of his unprecedented success in Ohio.
In a nice coincidence, Rivals released an article today breaking down which states do the best job of holding onto their five-star talent. When it comes to Rivals five-stars, Michigan is #2 in the country—behind only the black hole that is Mississippi—at keeping them in-state for college, with only Ronald Johnson (USC) escaping among the seven five-stars since 2002. Will Gholston was the only in-state five-star to head to MSU, so the Wolverines have historically done a stellar job of locking up the best local talent. When the list expands to include all Rivals100 recruits, Michigan (as a state, so including MSU) is fifth in the country at retention rate, behind Alabama, Louisiana, California, and Mississippi.
By comparison, Ohio has produced more than twice as many five-stars—17 compared to Michigan's seven—but have only held on to nine of those players, all of whom ended up in a Buckeye uniform. Of the eight that left the state, two—Prescott Burgess and Kyle Kalis—landed in Ann Arbor. Of course, a state that produces more high-end talent will naturally have more competition for those players, so the results of this study aren't exactly a surprise.
Nope, Nothing To See Here
This all sounds very legitimate indeed:
The Darius Paige case has entered the wait-and-see phase.
Paige, a senior defensive tackle who has verbally committed to play football at the University of Alabama, transferred to Foley High School in Alabama on Tuesday amid allegations that Crimson Tide assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt recommended he go to Foley because they could “take care of him academically.”
Paige was ineligible for spring ball at Washington High School in Penascola, Florida, and unless this is all just a remarkable coincidence it appears Alabama's coaches have encouraged him to transfer to a high school that gives him a better chance of qualifying. Alabama, of course, has no comment. Odds of the NCAA looking into this: slim. Blergh.
All I Need Is One Throw
MGoVideo has helpfully compiled all the Shane Morris bits from ESPNU's coverage of the Elite11 finals, which so far has focused on the first day of camp. Watch to see Trent Dilfer make Morris wait for the single throw that will determine the entire course of the rest of his career, or something:
Seriously, these guys make, like, 30 throws all camp. The relative rankings significance of an Elite11 throw versus a throw in a regular high school game is astronomically high, which is probably kinda dumb.
In other commit news, Gareon Conley and his Massilon squad scrimmaged against fellow Ohio power St. Edward (home of Kyle Kalis), and Scout's Bill Greene came away impressed:
Gareon Conley (Michigan commit) had opportunities to make big plays offensively, and just missed connecting with Kempt on several long throws. Defensively, Conley had great success locking up multiple offer wide receiver Anthony Young. Conley will play cornerback for the Wolverines, and could be ready to play early.
One of the most interesting recruits to watch this fall will be Conley, whose spot at #61 overall in the ESPN150 is far higher than at any of the other recruiting services; if his other rankings start to fall in line with ESPN, it'll be a great sign.
Not a whole lot of action on the recruiting trail this week, so this will be short and sweet.
The headline is more positive than the actual quote, but GBW reports that 2013 AZ WR Devon Allen is considering an official visit to Michigan ($). Allen was on campus the day before the BBQ and enjoyed his visit. While his father says they'd like to come up to Ann Arbor again in the fall, he also mentions the difficulty in arranging a flight that fits with Allen's schedule. We'll see where it goes from here.
2014 OH OL Jimmy Byrne told Tremendous's Mark that he has a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, in no particular order. Byrne is #3, one spot behind Ferns, on OhioPreps's top 25 prospects in the state of Ohio.
Two 2014 recruits have expressed interest in visiting for a game this fall: four-star OH ATH Dareian Watkins, a high school QB who could play either WR or DB in college($), and IN WR Dominique Booth, who camped at Michigan in June ($). Both players are hoping to earn an offer.
I'm not exactly sure why this is news as opposed to a foregone conclusion from birth.
Today's recruiting roundup welcomes Maurice Hurst Jr. and Henry Poggi, updates the recruitments of Leon McQuay III and his teammate Alvin Bailey, recaps the Champaign NFTC, and more.
Michigan's 2013 Class, Now With 100% More Beef
Michigan added two four-star defensive tackles in three days, gaining commitments from Westwood (MA) Xavarian Brothers's Maurice Hurst Jr. on Saturday and Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi yesterday morning. You can check out their commitment posts here (Hurst) and here (Poggi). Much more has come out on each player since their respective commitments, so consider this a Hello addendum.
First, let's clarify positions. Hurst told GBW($) that he'll play both nose tackle and three-tech, but his main focus is the former, which makes sense with the addition of Poggi. Sam Webb revealed the staff's plans for Poggi:
Said Poggi, “I’ll start off as a 5-technique and then work into that three technique position. 5-techniques are around 280, then hopefully I’ll put some more weight on sophomore, junior, and senior year and be a 3-technique. Whatever plays out.”
The Daily's Zach Helfand
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think long term that’s realistic if he wants to play beyond college and be very good,” Shurburtt said. “If he were a 3-4 defensive end we were talking about, I think he’d be in business. But I think 4-3, that’s a stretch.”
Playing at tackle, though, Shurburtt sees an elite prospect.
“There’s defensive tackles across the country that either have a lot of heart or a lot of talent. Henry’s got both,” Shurburtt said. “[He is] the complete package of what you look for in a defensive tackle.
“He’s definitely an inside guy. That’s what gives him plus athleticism.”
I'd agree that Poggi's best chance at being elite is at tackle, where his athleticism stands out more, but as we learned with Ryan Van Bergen (and now with Jibreel Black), the differences between playing the five-tech DE and three-tech DT in Michigan's 4-3 under aren't vast. ESPN's Craig Haubert agrees that Poggi's best spot is on the interior and offers this scouting report ($):
He flashes a good get-off, but needs to be more consistent. He is tough taking on blockers and defending the run as he can play low and be active with his hands as well recognize and react well to blocking schemes. As a pass rusher he comes up field hard and though he needs to continue to further develop as a pass rusher he can make blockers work to try and stop him. He also plays with a motor and is a good physical tackler.
Scout's Brian Dohn takes a look at Hurst, noting he needs to do a better job of getting off blocks with his hands before coming to this conclusion ($):
Hurst’s greatest asset is athleticism. He plays fast, especially within the first few snaps of the ball, but he will have to show he can survive against the offensive linemen of the Big Ten. It will take him a year or two to get into the rotation at Michigan, but his athletic upside of the fact his father played in the NFL gives Hurst a tremendous starting base.
The message of caution is don’t expect too much too soon from Hurst despite his ranking as a four-star. The big payoff should be on the back end.
As long as the Wolverines are afforded the luxury of showing patience with Hurst and Poggi—and given the 2012 D-line haul, that should be the case—there's a good chance for both to develop into big contributors. Regardless of their on-field accomplishments, both appear to have their heads in the right place off the field. From Helfand's piece on Poggi:
“People say I’m making a four-year commitment, but I’m really making a 40-year commitment,” Poggi said. “The kind of degree I wanted to get was a degree that carries a lot of weight.”
And here's Hurst's head coach talking to Matt Pargoff:
“Mo’s a great kid,” said Stevenson . “He maximizes his abilities in the classroom and he also steps outside the box and contributes with some community service work. He’s been in some of our outreach programs. He’s spent time at homes for abused women. He spent some time going up to places where they feed the poor. He’s spent some time at a place where we go to provide company to the elderly. He’s a great kid who thinks outside of himself … His willingness to become part of those activities speaks volumes about him as a person.”
McQuay's Top III
FL CB Leon McQuay III has rapidly gone from longshot pipe dream to viable option since his May visit to Ann Arbor, and that won't change any time soon after he announced a top three of Vanderbilt, Michigan, and USC, according to 247's Barton Simmons. McQuay plans to make his choice on November 21st, so there's still a lot of time for changes, but this is huge news for Michigan.
What's the common thread between McQuay's top three schools? It's not so much the football—I mean, Vanderbilt—as it is what these schools can offer in the classroom, per TomVH ($, info in header):
Michigan, USC and Vanderbilt made the cut, and it's due largely to their music departments.
"Leon and his coach came up with the list. He's chasing the music thing and those three schools have the best music programs," said his father, Leon Jr. "If that's something that he's chasing then I can only be happy for him."
The younger McQuay is looking to pursue a major related to audio engineering/production, so Michigan's state-of-the-art studio could provide a huge leg up, though the music departments at Vandy and USC are also top notch. The program with the advantage here, surprisingly, may actually be the Commodores; McQuay initially expressed some trepidation about going to school up north, and USC has a very good chance of being full at defensive back by the time he announces.
McQuay's high school teammate, FL WR Alvin Bailey, recently narrowed his list to a top 15, but there's a sense that the Wolverines could be in a strong position for him as well given the good vibes coming from McQuay. Tremendous caught up with Bailey, who said he'll be up to Ann Arbor within the next couple of weeks, and he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a commitment if all went well on the trip. We'll see about that, but at the very least it's a big step to get him on campus.
Wilkins to Auburn?
Another top skill position target is TN RB Jordan Wilkins, who has stated his intention to visit Ann Arbor this upcoming Saturday. That may be up in the air, however, after Wilkins nearly committed to Auburn during a visit yesterday($, info in header)—it appears the only thing that kept Wilkins from making the pledge was the absence of his mother from the trip. Now his recruitment could wrap up imminently:
He plans to bring his mother to Auburn's campus in the next week or two. A decision could come soon after.
"I might take one more visit to Michigan on Saturday, but I might shut it down after that and make my decision," he said. "I want to get my mom to Auburn pretty soon, maybe next week...as soon as possible.
"Auburn is definitely at the top right now."
Even if he makes it to Ann Arbor, it doesn't look good for the Wolverines. VA RB Derrick Green is the other big priority at running back, and if they miss on him Michigan may very well be content with DeVeon Smith and Wyatt Shallman, especially if they can reel in a couple of receivers (say, Laquon Treadwell and a slot-type like Bailey).
Speaking of IL WR Laquon Treadwell, Michigan's top receiver target took home position MVP honors at last weekend's NFTC in Champaign, also earning top performer honors from 247's Barton Simmons:
1. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Crete-Monee – No wide receiver present on Sunday caught the ball with the kind of effortless ease as Treadwell. He inhales the football, making the routine catch look the way it should and adding plenty of spectacular catches to his resume as well.
Treadwell – who possess very good top-end speed and smooth route-running ability – showed the ability to lay-out for footballs on vertical routes and high-point footballs in jump-ball scenarios. In a year in which there aren’t a lot of no-doubt type receiver prospects, it’s hard to imagine many receivers better than him.
Treadwell competed against a potential future teammate in Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, who came in at #5 on Josh Helmholdt's list of top skill performers ($):
Lewis is an interesting dichotomy. Off the field, he is so unassuming, almost aw-shucksto the point that people may not even recognize him. On the field, he plays with a tremendous amount of confidence. His performance Sunday was very reminiscent of past performances from earlier this spring in that Lewis was always making plays on the football. He did drop a couple interceptions - rare for a prospect who is also an outstanding wide receiver - but made a couple as well. Sometimes Lewis gets too confident about his recovery speed and will take chances early in a receiver's route, but few receivers have shown the ability to burn him.
That level of instinctual play and athleticism from Lewis is something that really stood out watching him at Cass Tech last year, so it's no surprise to see him turning heads in a camp setting where he can really display those coverage skills.
Quickly: CA DE Joe Mathis maintains his three leaders($): Nebraska, Michigan, and Washington. CA WR Demorea Stringfellow is certain of two official visits($): Washington and Ohio State. Happy trails to five-star IN LB Jaylon Smith, who committed to Notre Dame, and NC WR Uriah LeMay, who pledged to Georgia.
Michigan offered FL OL K.C. McDermott this week, according to Scout's Mike Bakas ($). McDermott is a big tackle prospect at 6'6", 275 pounds, and he already holds offers from Florida, Miami (YTM), Ohio State, Wisconsin, and others. His father says he's looking to visit Ann Arbor and several other Midwest schools in July.
McDermott won't be the only summer visitor among rising junior tackles, as TX OL Demetrius Knox will visit both Michigan and Ohio State in June. Also visiting in June will be GA S Nick Glass, an early Georgia commit.
The Wolverines hosted a couple of visitors over the past few days. OH OL Jimmy Byrne didn't come away with an offer, but told Tremendous that the visit was a "10" on a 1-10 scale. IA OL Ross Pierschbacher also left without an offer, but told 247 that Michigan would "definitely be in consideration" if they came through with one ($).
Finally, Scout's Allen Trieu has a free primer on the Midwest players to watch in the class of 2015—yes, kids finishing up their freshman year of high school—if you're so inclined.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses (sigh) the Tuley-Tillman fallout, updated Rivals250, Derrick Green, and a group of new 2014 offers.
The aftermath of the Logan Tuley-Tillman letter-burning continues to get ugly. These are things 17-year-olds should simply never have to deal with:
"I got threats coming at me from everywhere -- death threats," [Tuley-Tillman] said by phone Tuesday. "I got somebody telling me he wants me to burn in hell. I got somebody talking about the Holocaust.
"Why, 'cause I burned your team's envelope? Stuff like that I don’t understand. I’m only 17. It takes a lot of emotion for someone to do that, just over an affiliation to a school.
"But you know what? God bless 'em. I'm moving on."
That's as reasonable a reaction as you could ever expect from anyone, let alone a high school student who's still amazed that their personal Twitter posting could ever possibly go viral. My 17-year-old self would've reacted much differently; namely, how Kyle Bosch reacted:
Before I comment on the tweet, here's Bosch's clarification of the above, via Tremendous:
On the comment: "I'm just trying to defend my teammate and my friend. Logan is like a brother to me and when somebody threatens his life and his family's life, I am going to come to his defense. The gun comment has been taken out of context. I'm only saying that if you're going to threaten my friend and brother that you better bring a gun because if you're truly threatening his life, you'll have to take mine too. I should have realized that it may have been misinterpreted, but it's hard not to be angry when he and his mother have gone through so much".
Bosch's explanation is admirable, in that slightly misguided and naïve high school way of showing true loyalty; his friend came under siege, and he responded in kind. I largely agree with what Adam Jacobi has to say on the whole matter, with one point of contention:
That's what this all comes down to in the long run—idiots. Most college football fans aren't idiots. Most Ohio State fans aren't idiots. Idiots have a way of dominating the conversation, though—particularly online—and as such it's always important to keep one thing in mind before you express yourself online: "How would an idiot respond to this?"
By dealing in death threats, intimidation and casual classlessness, Tuley-Tillman, Bosch and however many Ohio State fans were involved all brought themselves down to the levels of idiots.
What Tuley-Tillman did was not idiotic, it was juvenile, and at the age of 17 he has every excuse to be a little juvenile; his action in and of itself did no harm. The response, of course, was idiotic. Bosch's reaction was less excusable than Tuley-Tillman's initial action, but again, we're talking about kids in high school here; his intentions were good—defending a teammate whose life had been threatened—but the consequences weren't properly considered.
Should Tuley-Tillman and Bosch be more careful about what they post online, considering their new-found status as minor celebrities? Absolutely. But missteps by high school students are very understandable. It's what is being directed at these guys from fans that is truly idiotic. This isn't so much a problem with recruits these days—remember, Devin Gardner did the exact same thing as LTT, but in the pre-Twitter era faced little-to-no backlash—but the level of access fans have to recruits and their misguided* impression that social media affords fans an open forum for hatred without consequence.
Is there a solution for this? Right now, not really: the current state of unregulation makes it difficult for much to be done beyond exposing the idiots. It might not be a bad idea for the coaching staff to step in, talk with the commits about proper social media protocol, and ensure that enough is being done from that end that these situations can be avoided as much as possible.
* Though, admittedly, that impression would be far more misguided if people were actually charged for the laws they break via social media. I'd love to see some of these internet tough guys dragged to court for the threats they make to people who would snap them in half if they ever met in real life.
Rivals250 Released, Bosch Feature, Etc.
After releasing an updated top 100 on Tuesday, Rivals has continued updating their rankings, and now we have current commit movement for the top 250:
- Shane Morris drops from #16 to #22 (still a four-star)
- Mike McCray drops from #44 to #55
- Chris Fox drops from #46 to #57
- Patrick Kugler drops from #54 to #73
- Kyle Bosch drops from #60 to #77
- Dymonte Thomas drops from #77 to #95
- Jake Butt drops from #96 to #118
- Jourdan Lewis jumps from #167 to #147
- David Dawson jumps from #199 to #171
- Wyatt Shallman drops from #160 to #182
- Logan Tuley-Tillman drops from #109 to #235
- Ben Gedeon drops from #226 to #237
Obviously, the big change here is Tuley-Tillman falling over 100 spots, though this isn't a huge surprise considering his recent camp struggles, which can be at least partially explained by a nagging shoulder injury. Otherwise, the movement is pretty minor. For what it's worth, Morris features as one of the recruits on the cusp of five stars.
Conveniently heading off any complaints—Rivals hates us now, Pawwwwwl—Rivals also released their initial team rankings. Michigan is a strong #1, posting 2,301 points, which would've been good for the #5 class in the country in 2012 at the end of the recruiting cycle. The Wolverines are nearly 300 points clear of second-ranked Texas. Other notables include Ohio State (#7), Notre Dame (#9), Penn State (#16), Nebraska (#20), Illinois (#21), Michigan State (#24), Iowa (#31), and Wisconsin (#33).
Interesting side-note: CBSSports's Brian Fischer points out that this year's class has far more consensus about the top players among the various recruiting services than any other in recent memory. As sites like YouTube, Hudl, ScoutingOhio, and others continue to make creating and sharing film a simple proposition, I think rankings will trend in this direction; the more common information, the greater the consensus.
Bleacher Report released a video feature on Kyle Bosch in which he breaks down why he committed to Michigan, his favorite play to run, and his dream prom date:
Brendan Gibbons applauds the selection of two brunettes, but how does this affect the status of Kate Upton, matron saint of Michigan commits?
Derrick Green: Two More Visits?
VA RB Derrick Green, the newly-anointed Rivals #1 running back, remains in close contact with Michigan. According to his interview with Tremendous, Green plans to make not just one, but two trips to Ann Arbor before wrapping up his recruitment:
"I'll definitely be taking an official to Michigan. No question. I'll be up there this summer as well to talk with Coach Hoke since I haven't gotten to talk with him personally yet and then I want to make it out for a game as well".
Sam Webb reportedly had good things to say about Michigan's chances with Green on his radio show yesterday, and this is another very positive sign.
Things could move quickly at defensive tackle for the Wolverines, starting with MA DT Maurice Hurst Jr.'s visit this weekend, one that could quite possibly produce a commitment (remember to practice proper vehicle safety, recruitniks). MD DT Henry Poggi has long been thought to have a summer commitment timetable, and the same appears to be the case for recently-offered TX DT Hardreck Walker, who told GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz that he'll announce before his senior season ($, info in header). Walker is trying to set up a summer visit, though nothing is set in stone, and he has Michigan in his top six schools; we'll see if there's a spot left to take when he's ready to decide, though we'll have to see if he visits before getting hopes up for a commitment.
Quickly: MI K/P J.J. McGrath will camp in the hopes of earning a scholarship offer ($), though it's highly unlikely that Michigan will use a spot on a specialist in this class. TTB scouts AZ WR Devon Allen. Happy trails to IL OL Ethan Pocic, who committed to LSU.
Sam Webb's latest at the Detroit News covers TX CB Nick Watkins, the son of former Detroit Lions defensive back Bobby Watkins. At 6'1", 180 pounds, Watkins has great size for a cornerback, and his coach has high praise for his skill and athleticism:
"The thing about it is you have a corner that is 6-foot-plus that has speed, has great hips, and great ball skills," Bishop Dunne coach Michael Johnson told Scout.com. "I mean, the kid's got arms down to his ankles almost. He's smooth. He's the type of player that makes it look effortless. Him being great off the field in the classroom just makes him that much more marketable. He's the total package."
Watkins tells Webb that he's currently favoring Alabama, Michigan, Arkansas, and Ohio State, with Texas also in the mix, but he's still "keeping it wide open" and won't be making an early commitment.
Michigan sent out a few new sophomore offers recently:
- Four-star TN RB Jalen Hurd added Michigan($) to an offer list that already includes Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio State, and Nebraska. He tells 247's Clint Brewster that he's "definitely going to see Michigan," though nothing is set up yet, and that 'Bama, UT, and OSU are the three schools standing out to him right now.
- IL WR Nic Weishar has picked up offers from a good chunk of the Big Ten recently, and Michigan joined the fray on Wednesday ($). Weishar also holds offers from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, and others.
- SC DT Dexter Wideman has a fitting name considering his 6'4", 275-pound stature. He also now has a Wolverine offer($) to go along with ones from Clemson and South Carolina.
Quickly: Cleveland St. Ignatius OT Jimmy Byrne will visit campus on Sunday. Four-star GA S Nick Glass has set up a visit for June 25th ($). FL WR Austin Roberts will visit in July ($). AL ATH Bo Scarbrough has Michigan in his top four($) along with Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.