Patrick Hruby is doing God's work.
With a simple tweet of "GO BLUE!" this morning, Macomb (MI) Lutheran North kicker/punter JJ McGrath announced his intention to accept a preferred walk-on spot in Michigan's 2013 class, choosing the Wolverines over LSU and Southern Miss. While McGrath won't be on scholarship to start his career, he'll have the chance to earn one when Brendan Gibbons's eligibility expires after the 2013 season.
McGrath isn't ranked on any of the four recruiting services, but he does earn a 4.5-star rating—on the border between Division I and Division II prospect—from Chris Sailer Kicking. They rank him as the #33 punter and #57 kicker in the 2013 class and give this evaluation:
JJ is a big time talent. He is a big, tall, strong athlete that shows outstanding potential. His best ball is as good as any 2013 punting prospect. As he works on his consistency, the sky is the limit. I expect big things from JJ. Also a very capable kicker and kickoff specialist. Could be a top national combo prospect with hard work. One to keep a very close eye on. Nice prospect.
Listed at 6'2", 210 pounds, McGrath has plenty of size to put a solid boot behind the ball. He certainly showed off plenty of leg in his senior season, per 247's Todd Worly ($):
“I have three field goals of 57, 54 and 34 yards, all (kickoffs have been) touchbacks but one, a punting average of 45 yards and 100% on PAT’s,” McGrath said. The 57-yarder was a game-winner.
That was in October—by the end of the year, McGrath had connected on 8-of-11 field goals and all 26 of his extra point attempts with a punting average of 42 yards and touchbacks on 29 of 34 kickoffs. His head coach at Lutheran North talked to MLive in October about how much of an asset McGrath's leg was to his team:
["]The field position that he adds is number one,” Ryan Wesley said. “The scoring that he adds is number two. Being able to tell an opponent that their [sic] going to be starting on the 20 yard line, no questions about it, that is a great thing to be able to do.”
On the rare occasion McGrath doesn't boot a touchback, he's apparently not afraid to finish the job himself:
In fact, McGrath has had just one kickoff returned against him all season. As competitive as he is, McGrath was not afraid to make his opponent think twice about returning one of his kicks.
“The kid actually made it to me and I jacked him pretty hard,” McGrath said. “I was pretty angry that it didn’t go in (the end zone). I was pretty ticked off so I ran up and hit him pretty hard.”
With his leg strength, McGrath should at the very least be able to contribute as a kickoff specialist. If he can maintain accuracy on the thinner college goalposts, he'll also be in the running for starting placekicker—perhaps after Gibbons graduates, or more likely when Matt Wile is gone after 2014.
McGrath didn't receive any scholarship offers, but he reported interest as a preferred walk-on from Alabama, LSU, Michigan State, and Southern Miss, among others.
From the 247 article linked above, McGrath's junior stats:
McGrath was named First Team All-State as a junior, converting 8-of-12 field goals with a long of 53 yards. All of his misses came from beyond 50 yards. 22 out of his 27 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks, and he also averaged 44.6 yards per punt, with a long of 68 yards.
In his final two high school seasons, McGrath was a combined 16-for-23 on field goals and 42-for-42 on extra points while averaging 43.5 yards per punt and booting 51 of his 61 kickoffs for touchbacks.
Lengthy senior highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
McGrath should redshirt next season with Gibbons and Wile returning. With Gibbons and Will Hagerup (if he's even back next year) gone after 2013, we'll see if the coaches want Wile to handle kicking, punting, and kickoffs; if not, McGrath could compete with Kenny Allen for the punter job or Wile for starting placekicker, and he could also handle kickoffs if called upon. When Wile is gone after 2014, McGrath should have every chance to take over at kicker.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since McGrath is a preferred walk-on, his commitment doesn't change the 2013 scholarship numbers; there are still a couple spots left with Michigan waiting on VA RB Derrick Green and TX TE Durham Smythe.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Michigan's remaining 2013 targets, a surprise move in the 2014 class, and more.
Weekend Visit Recap: One Decision Down, Three To Go
TX TE Durham Smythe is back on the market and looking at Michigan
As signing day rapidly approaches, Michigan's path to closing out the 2013 class becomes more clear. Over the weekend, the Wolverines picked up IN OL Dan Samuelson, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that his decision came down to distance ($):
"It came down mostly to distance," he explained. "I shouldn't say mostly, it was completely distance. It is only about a three hour drive, Nebraska being an 11 1/2 hour drive."
With Samuelson in the fold, Michigan now has six offensive lineman committed; does that leave room for CA OL Cameron Hunt, who was also on campus over the weekend? According to Hunt, per an interview with Scout's Greg Biggins, the answer is 'yes' ($):
“The coaches told me they still had room for me,” Hunt said. “I know six offensive linemen is a lot but I’m not afraid to compete. After taking all my trips, if I feel Michigan is the best spot for me, I’ll still go there and be ready to win a job. There is going to be competition anywhere you go so that doesn’t bother me.”
Hunt went straight from his Michigan official to one at Ohio State, and also has trips lined up to Oregon and Cal (where he's still a very soft commit) before he makes his decision.
OH CB Reon Dawson, an Illinois commit, also took a Michigan official over the weekend; he told ESPN's Jared Shanker that a decision is coming soon ($):
A final decision will come Wednesday after talking with his family and his girlfriend’s mother, with whom he has a very close relationship.
“I’ve been thinking about it ... and first off, education will be big. You can get hurt on any given play and you need something to fall back on,” Dawson said. “I’ll talk to my family, and by Wednesday it’ll be done. I need a couple of days to think about this decision.”
Dawson will choose between Michigan and Illinois; given that he'll be just a few days removed from checking out Ann Arbor when he makes his choice, there's definitely reason for optimism.
That won't be the only decision coming down this week, as in-state kicker JJ McGrath tells The Big House Report that he'll choose between Michigan, LSU, and Southern Miss on Friday. McGrath doesn't hold a scholarship offer—he'd come on as a preferred walk-on—but says that he'd have the opportunity to earn one when Brendan Gibbons graduates. The Wolverines are in a strong position to land McGrath, who also was on campus last weekend.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Derrick Green and Durham Smythe, a surprise commitment to Ohio State's 2014 class, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup wraps up last weekend's high school football action and more.
Jake "Butts" In Early*
Tim Sullivan reports that tight end commit Jake Butt made arrangements with his high school and the Michigan coaching staff to graduate in December and enroll early ($). Kyle Bosch, Taco Charlton, Ross Douglas, and Logan Tuley-Tillman are also slated to arrive in Ann Arbor this winter, and Dymonte Thomas will likely join that number as well.
Given the lack of depth at tight end, this is great news for the Wolverines. Devin "The Funchess" Funchess emerged on Saturday as the future at the position, but he's more of an H-back ("U"-back in the Borges offense) or big wide receiver than a traditional tight end, while Butt has the versatility to play with his hand down or off the line. Butt has a good shot at earning a large role in the offense next year and this increases his shot of earning a starting job right away.
*Jesus, I'm sorry.
Backs On Backs On Backs
Michigan only has two running backs committed in the class of 2013, but you wouldn't know that based on last weekend's high school football games. Cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead Avon to a 40-14 victory. Future Wolverine linebacker Ben Gedeon tallied 107 yards on 18 carries to help Hudson to a win of their own. Safety Dymonte Thomas spearheaded a Marlington comeback with 166 yards and two touchdowns—including the go-ahead score—on 19 carries. Then there was 285-pound nose tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., who pounded in a one-yard touchdown in a Xaverian Brothers blowout victory, set up by a 24-yard run in which he dragged two defenders to the brink of the goal line.
Actual running back DeVeon Smith toted the rock 26 times for 183 yards and the game-winning touchdown for Warren Howland despite a sore shoulder, but that's to be expected, right?
It's hard to believe, but some Michigan commits had the nerve to excel at non-RB positions over the weekend, as well. Two-way lineman Chris Fox, who is slated to play guard for Michigan, paved the way for a 34-14 Ponderosa victory and earned the admiration of a Highlands Ranch coach:
"Hey, Foxie," an opposing assistant coach yelled Saturday afternoon after the final play. "Great job. You kicked our butts."
Shane Morris, who received his Under Armour All-American Game jersey at a school pep rally last Thursday, completed 9-of-18 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown as De La Salle beat Dearborn Fordson, 40-19.
Wide receiver Jaron Dukes hauled in six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown to help Marion-Franklin to a 28-3 victory over Canal Winchester.
Perhaps the biggest star of the weekend, however, was Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who tallied 11 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks in a 13-6 triumph over national powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. The loss snapped a 46-game winning streak for the Ironmen.
While the Air Force game wasn't the huge visit weekend that Michigan State will be, there will still some major targets on campus. A large Cass Tech contingent made the short trip from Detroit, including 2014 CB Damon Webb, who told Tremendous that he could see himself ending up in Maize and Blue. 2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles took in the game and told Allen Trieu($) that the B2 stealth bomber flyover was "incredible." 2013 in-state kicker J.J. McGrath was on hand as well and told Tremendous the visit really helped Michigan, though the deciding factor for him will likely be which school offers him a scholarship.
Things have been quiet on the Joe Mathis front, at least where Michigan is concerned, and it sounds like it could stay that way for the 2013 California four-star: he told Rivals analyst Adam Gorney that he plans to take official visits to Texas A&M, Washington, and Utah, and isn't sure where else he'll visit following a good trip to UCLA ($).
Happy trails to 2014 five-star AL RB Bo Scarbrough, who predictably made an early pledge to hometown squad Alabama.
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.