Mike Lantry, 1972
I'll miss you, #19.
|Joe Kerridge||So.*||Khalid Hill||Fr.||AJ Williams||So.||Devin Funchess||So.|
|Sione Houma||So.||Wyatt Shallman||Fr.||Jordan Paskorz||Jr.*||Jake Butt||Fr.|
Al Borges necessitates a change in season preview strategies. Previously folded into the wide receiver section, tight ends and close relatives have become so prevalent and diverse that they demand their own post and elaborate delineation of responsibilities. I have also snatched the fullbacks away from the tailback section to give a full spectrum of guys who aren't tailbacks or receivers who will see the field for Michigan this fall.
Your author's attempt to distill all the things he's heard about the guys listed above and put them into categories:
- FULLBACK: a man with a steel plated head runs into linebackers, gets two carries in his career, and has six catches. See: Kevin Dudley.
- U-BACK: A "move" tight end that motions all about, rarely lines up on the actual line of scrimmage, often goes from fullback to a flared spot or vice versa, and operates as more of a receiver than the fullback. Must be a credible threat to LBs; ends career with 40 catches. See: Aaron Shea.
- TIGHT END: Larger that the U-back, the tight end is a tight end who is actually tight to the end of the line. He comes out, lines up next to a tackle, helps him win blocks, and clobberates linebackers at the second level. He goes out into patterns as well, and may end his career with 40 catches himself. See: Tyler Ecker.
- FLEX: Sort of like the U-back in that he rarely lines up on the line of scrimmage itself, but if he motions away from his spot near the line, it's not to fullback but wide receiver. They get a billion catches and break Jim Mandich's record eventually. See: Devin Funchess is the only flex guy I can think of recently.
Complicating matters is the fact that many of the players listed above bleed into other positions: Houma, Rawls, and Shallman could be tailback-ish, Funchess and Butt will have their share of time with their hand in the dirt, tight to the end, and may even motion to fullback on occasion. In a Borges offense, things are not as they appear!
/tosses smoke bomb
Fullback is a spot where walk-ons are prevalent; Dudley mentioned above was both a walk-on and Michigan's finest linebacker eraser in the past 20 years, with only Chris Floyd offering competition. This year is no exception, as JOE KERRIDGE eased past converted tailback Stephen Hopkins last year to acquire a strong hold on the job. Judging from one of the sudden legion of shirtless photos players put on Instagram, if you encounter Joe Kerridge in the wild you should walk away slowly and hope you don't smell like salmon:
L to R: Sione Houma, Bobby Henderson, Joe Kerridge.
That plus the whole returning-starter bit should see Kerridge retain his role as Michigan's first choice when something absolutely has to die. In year one he was a little tentative, as you might expect, and there were a number of plays on which I though he was not reacting to the situation in front of him quickly enough to make an effective block. I'm still not clear on whether some of the suboptimal blocking on spread plays was because Michigan wasn't using newfangled arc blocking (ie: using your fullback or tight end to take out an exchanging linebacker and give your edge guy the edge) or because a freshman wasn't executing, but with the move away from spread elements, the job will be simpler: see man, make man wish he had taken up lawn darts.
Kerridge has a ton of potential. When he makes solid contact with guys, you can hear football:
That linebacker set up outside, Toussaint cut outside, and all the LB could do was fall over. He can bring the pain.
Kerridge had his inconsistencies. After three consecutive +3 games and a monster +6.5 against Illinois…
And Kerridge is racking up big numbers.
I may be giving him too much credit for standing up linebackers but to my eyes he really appears to be whacking them and providing the impetus for an improved under center run game. Those isos and such are
…he fell off into a bunch of games where he hung around 1 point. A large part of that was the Gardner transition; he also lost some playing time to Stephen Hopkins, who came back from injury and was given a shot to displace Kerridge. Kerridge did whiff some blocks. He got smoked for a sack in the bowl game, for one. And this inverted veer against State is something an experienced guy might decide to block the end on because otherwise there's no one else he can hit.
For a redshirt freshman it was a promising season. In year two the goal is to cut his failure rate in half and catch five passes. He'll be an interesting guy to watch in UFR. If Michigan really commits to MANBALL he could see some big numbers.
[After THE JUMP: Funchess, Williams, U-backs, we've got it all. Except upperclassmen.]
Countdown to Kickoff exists again. Talkin' with Devin Gardner:
So that explains that. If you were wondering why Michigan's option plays weren't actual option plays the last couple years, well, yeah:
“We did it [the Wildcat] in OTAs and a couple of times he ran the ball and fumbled the ball and he didn’t know how to pitch," Bradley said, according to the Register.
The one time he did try to pitch on a speed option was when he got lit up in the backfield, and that was a fumble.
Oklahoma State was not always good. Wolverine Historian presents the 1992 non-classic:
Gardner on Darboh. I think both of last year's wide receivers are on pace to work out, and Darboh is ahead of the curve:
"He's just a great athlete," Gardner said of the wideout. "He's strong, he's fast, he catches the ball well. He's pretty much everything you could ever want in a receiver."
Gardner compares Darboh to Junior Hemingway, but fast. No, seriously:
"He goes up and gets the ball just like Junior. And he runs fast."
I'll take it.
O'Bannon-related victory. I thought Sam Keller's lawsuit had been folded into the O'Bannon suit, but apparently not. They've just won at the appellate level:
By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said EA's use of the athletes' likenesses in its NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball games did not deserve protection as free expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
EA is disappointed that free speech doesn't cover important things like college football videogames using the representations of people without mentioning it to them, and plans to appeal, for all the good that will do.
They'll have to name him Lack Of Seat Cushions. Sorry, those are the probably fictional, possibly offensive stereotypical Native American rules:
I don't make the probably fictional, possibly offensive stereotypical Native American rules. I just enforce 'em, lady.
Jordan Paskorz: I'm not dead yet! Michigan could use some tight end depth with veteran Mike Kwiatkowski departed, and Jake Bu—MAH GAWD THAT'S JORDAN PASKORZ'S MUSIC, AT LEAST I THINK IT IS BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE HE EVEN HAD SOME:
[Paskorz's] career has since been derailed by seemingly interminable instability.
But that's about to change, as he enters his second season at tight end and seems to have fought his way into the rotation as a blocking specialist. …
"What I like is, we settled him into that position and I think he can be a guy who gives us a little more on-the-line-of-scrimmage movement. That’s exciting."
At 6'3", 251, he is about the right size to be more of a pusher at TE. AJ Williams is a guy Michigan will ask to fill that role as well, but he needs a lot of technique work to get there. We'll see if the talk translates into playing time.
When do I get to be on a bulletin board? Because if Steve Everitt's lighthearted jab at Kirk Cousins qualifies…
…surely I can come up with something vile enough to get up there despite not being a viking. Hey, Spartans! You smell! Bad!
I'll work on it.
In related news, Dave Brandon once again reiterated that he doesn't want a night game in the series. This is correct. I hope the real reason is wanting to tweak MSU by playing anyone but them at night, but I'll take "don't want a bunch of East Lansing people drunj" after the Gathering of the Juggalos that was two years ago.
Speaking of. UTL II Hype Video:
Glenn Robinson: now he can jump. Yeah, now:
His vertical is up four inches to 12'3".
Etc.: Introducing Dr. Gay Hitler, who was of course from… Ohio, and the son of George Hitler, and a dentist.
Here is a class of 1927(!) alum talking bout her days on campus. Oregon has some money. People don't like dynamic pricing, except for that one guy on facebook who hasn't been to a game since 1982 but likes being a prick to people on the internet. Bill Connolly previews Ohio State. Lewan talks Gholston punch.
A potential future TE and one of many, many places it would be cool to go
Let's have a TE rummage sale.
Just listened to the podcast of your WTKA Thursday gig and you echoed my own concerns about TE depth. Yesterday I started a thread on the board about converting Heitzman to TE but it was partially highjacked by the Snarkosphere.
Keith was a TE in high school and played a bit of fullback in the Big 33 game (scored the last TD). At 6'3" 250 he is already big enough to contribute and would be ready to step into the looming void of 2012. WolvinLA had one of the few constructive comments to my post saying that he thought Heitzman had the frame to become a 285 lb. SDE..... but I would rather have a 260 lb. TE next year, and taking a third TE in this class does not really address the immediate depth problem.
I think you're onto something. Michigan is going to bring in a couple SDEs next year that are probably going to pass Heitzman on the depth chart as soon as they hit campus. On the other hand, they have zero(!) scholarship SDEs on the current depth chart. Unless Brink is a diamond in the rough, they'll need the competition there.
There's another guy on the roster who seems even riper for a move: Jordan Paskorz. Paskorz played TE in high school—he actually made the local newspaper's All-Region team at the spot. He's listed as a 6'3" 246 linebacker but didn't make the depth chart; I actually thought he was competing at WDE. Either way, SLB and WDE are both three-deep for the next couple years.
He's got a much clearer path to playing time at TE. By next year he could be 260 or 270 pounds. I'm a little surprised they haven't moved him already.
WHY OL NO ENORBOUS
One of the consistent comments since Brady Hoke was hired has been the weight of our offensive linemen. I feel like this is something you bring up quite regularly, either talking about how the starters haven't put on as much weight as you expected or about how some of the incoming recruits fit more in line with the "man ball" theme based on their size. Here's my question - what weight do you think Hoke wants for the OL?
I did a little research on this and what I found was that Michigan isn't as light as I would expect as compared to everyone else. Most teams, both NCAA and NFL, seem to average about 305-315 across their line while Michigan is just under 300. More interesting is that our current OL out-weighs the National Champion 1997 line that produced a bunch of quality NFL players. (Caveat about old school rosters matching reality goes here.)
The only team I found that has any significant size difference with respect to Michigan is Wisconsin. So do you really think Hoke wants that type of OL or is a modest increase into the 310 area that most NFL Teams seem to favor?
Yeah, in 1997 Michigan was still in the mode where any lineman over 300 pounds was listed at "299." Whether this was an homage to the old Schembechler story about the scales in the football building only going that high (and having to weigh some kid on a freight elevator as a result) or a hint to anyone over that number to get under it is unknown. Those guys were probably just as big as these guys.
I have no idea what to make of Hoke's intentions since he seems to say one thing and then let Borges do what he wants. I wouldn't read much into the lack of weight added to Michigan's current line in that regard since it's possible they're just not guys who can be much bigger than they already are. Molk and Huyge are probably topped out and putting more weight on Omameh would be easy if you just wanted it to be fat. Maybe not so much the muscle. Barnum and Lewan are exceptions; not sure what to make of that.
Down the road we will see bigger linemen. No one in this class is ever going to be described as "undersized," as Molk and possibly Omameh are. I'm guessing they won't be as huge as Wisconsin, but who knows?
Reasons not to schedule anyone that kind of assume I am not aware of the structure of college fooball.
I hear what you're saying on the scheduling but it's never going to change with the current incentive structure. As long as a school from a BCS conference can destroy three cupcakes, run the table in their conference and go to the national title game (or lose 1 conference game and still get a huge BCS payout) what is the incentive for Michigan to ever schedule anyone but 2 directional schools and Baby Seal U of its choice?
At the end of the day, the fans care about wins and in January there will be much less bitching if Michigan is 10-2 with losses to Wisco and Iowa (and having clubbed 3 terrible teams) and playing on New Years Day than if they went 9-3 with an additional loss to Oklahoma.
Since up to five Big Ten teams now play on New Year's Day, your hypothetical 9-3 team would easily cross that threshold. Hurray for grade inflation. That's beside the point.
I see what the emailer is saying, and sort of agree, and think that's another aspect of modern college football that sucks out loud. HOWEVA, I don't think that the only thing CFB fans care about is wins at The End Of The Day. This whole topic of conversation arose because I went to the UM Club of Detroit's kickoff luncheon and some guy launched into a rant about Michigan's scheduling that got applause from the entire room. At the end of the day I think fans want to see Michigan win more than its fair share against quality competition and feel like they're getting value for money.
I believe that even if the fans sigh and pay for Michigan scheduling real opponents by yourself, value for money is on the side of real opponents. And $2.59 per ticket means you don't have to schedule Georgia or Oklahoma to make the home and home worthwhile. YMMV, but here's a list of teams Michigan could play. You can yes or no the hypothetical surcharge in your brain for each:
- Georgia Tech
- Oregon State
- Oklahoma State
- North Carolina
- Ole Miss
Those are all "yes" to me and none are signing up to play Oklahoma. It's true that signing up for a second real game reduces your chances of running the table and getting into the worst playoff ever. That's another crappy effect of the current system that would be far less powerful if we had a properly-sized playoff (six teams, IME). That's a downside… but I don't really care. I just want to play some real teams.
This guy's mileage varies from the previous guy
I know and understand your post is all about the financial ramifications and feasibility of a home and home with a real opponent, but you failed to mention one common sense tidbit that Dave Brandon doesn't seem to get: PEOPLE LIKE TRAVELING TO NEW PLACES, which is why Michigan is almost always a lock to bring a big crowd to a bowl game.
People want to explore the country. I've always wanted to visit the south and all I need is a game scheduled between Michigan and any SEC team below the Mason Dixon line to get me to finally take that trip. Road games are FUN, especially when they are in a city/region you don't get to visit much.
Amen. I'm still undecided about whether I'll shell out to go see Michigan play Alabama in Jerryworld. It's just a bowl game in a meh city. I can do that every year. (Right, Brady?) If the game was in Tuscaloosa I'd be hitting refresh on Kayak every twelve seconds until I'd gotten solid plans. That is a once in a lifetime opportunity to check out a college football mecca. Hell, I went to a game at Auburn Michigan wasn't even involved in and came back raving about how awesome college football was.
Jerryworld is not college football, but it pays the bills. If paying those is what it takes for Michigan to schedule nonconference games not against Notre Dame, I'm willing to do that. Give us the option. Put a millage on the season ticket applications that will add a surcharge for two years for a specific matchup and only do it if you get 60% of the vote. The worst thing that happens is nothing.
A Third and long Denard followup from the Mathlete.
I have Denard at 1140th out of 1235 players in my database on 3rd and 8+
Tate Forcier from 2009 was literally one spot ahead at 1139
Pat White in his three years under RR:
West Virginia wasn't great under RR but they were always in the top quarter and nowhere near as low as Michigan was the last two year.
Yeesh. That will be a stat to track this year, more to see how Denard develops than any particular differences between RR and Borges. That assertion about Michigan 2011 being an offense that had to stay ahead of the chains as much as generic triple options teams turns out to be no exaggeration.
Yet another reason to shoot yourself (DON'T SHOOT YOURSELF)
I have an alternative theory on Michigan football, we are all in a dream.
Hear me out.
You know how most dreams will contain basic familiar elements (Denard, uniforms, etc), but often will have people in places you don't expect but might hope for (Tressel resigning in disgrace, getting great recruits), some simply weird stuff (Brady Hoke as coach, huge scoreboard out of nowhere), and then all of a sudden the narrative gets really weird with some natural phenomenon (like onrushing water) that signals the dream state and the fact we might be ready to get up?
Is Dave Brandon trying to perform Inception on us?
accurate representation of how Michigan fans feel after last four years
Hmmm… If I shoot myself in the head, the possibilities:
- wake up on December 1st, 2007 thinking "Dave Brandon should coach Michigan football"
I think I'll pass.
|Gibsonia, PA - 6'3" 235|
|Scout||3*, #74 DE|
|Rivals||3*, #41 WDE, #23 PA|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #52 DE|
|Other Suitors||Pitt, Virginia, Minnesota|
|YMRMFSPA||Jeremy Van Alstyne|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post|
"Workmanlike" was the watchword of Paskorz's commitment post and that tepid word still rules after his senior season. At the time there was little to go on outside of a hastily-assembled ESPN profile in the aftermath of Paskorz's commit; after 14 months there has been additional information added to the pile.
Paskorz is still the younger brother of Notre Dame fullback Steve Paskorz and the Irish took a brief look early in the recruiting year but ended up taking a pass. This will be brought up during the next three M-ND games. He's still not a big recruit in the eyes of the sites. Scout interviewed him after his January official in which he discloses a 11.6 100 meter dash time—pretty impressive for a defensive lineman. He finished his senior year with 13 sacks and 85 tackles, ending up first team all-state on a team that made the state semis.
At Michigan, Paskorz is one of the few players told he will play at the LB/DE hybrid "quick" position currently inhabited by Craig Roh who has a high probability of sticking there. At 235 pounds currently but lacking the 6'4-6'5" frame Michigan prefers for its out-and-out linemen, Paskorz is a classic tweener who might fit in Michigan's defense better than he does elsewhere. That's the impression provided by his ESPN evaluation($), anyway:
Paskorz will offer some versatility as a defender at the college level. At the high school level, he plays from a two-point stance and could be considered as an outside linebacker/defensive end prospect in the right fit. Overall, we feel he will fit best more as a traditional defensive end. He could be asked to play from a two-point stance, but seems best suited to play near the line of scrimmage in an attacking fashion.
The rest of the evaluation is a series of sentences that go "he does this okay, but needs to work on this, too." The overall impression is that he's one of Michigan's less exciting recruits. Scout and Rivals actually think a little less of him (Rivals breaks DEs down into strongside and weakside spots, meaning he'd be about 80th on a unified list), but they all put him in the wide swath of generic three stars. What difference of opinion there happens to be is minor.
Paskorzs's offers echoed those evaluations, with a few middling-to-bad BCS teams hopping in and notable powers staying away. Pitt, Virginia, and Minnesota were the schools Paskorz picked Michigan over. He might have gotten more interest if he extended his recruitment past late May, but his offers are right in line with his rankings.
This lack of recruiting acclaim and the corresponding skepticism from the Michigan internets (possibly including this Michigan internet if the author of the following piece knows the distinction between blogs and message boards, a 50-50 proposition) spurs the haters-gonna-hate article:
Hampton's Jordan Paskorz has heard the whispers. The senior standout football player has read that he's overrated and that his scholarship offer to Michigan was helped by bloodlines. But the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Paskorz brushes it off like he has so many offensive tackles.
Once you get past the defensiveness, though, that piece has some useful quotes from Paskorz's coach:
"…it's hard to find a player of his caliber. He worked hard, he devoted time early in the morning and he didn't miss workouts. Jordan has been a quiet leader, and at least to me, he's exemplified what a Division I player should be."
"He's a physical specimen," DeMatteo said. "You look at him sometimes, and you forget he's just an 18-year-old kid."
There is also further confirmation that Paskorz is going to be behind Roh:
DeMatteo knows Paskorz likely will play a nearly identical position in the Michigan system.
"It's really based on what the offenses are doing. It's not any more complicated than that," DeMatteo said. "He has some things you can't coach.
"With all that being said, I can tell you right now, people aren't going to be afraid to run towards him. People aren't going to back down from him, and I hope he expects that."
And that's basically it when it comes to information floating out there. I've done a lot of these with an eye towards looking a little deeper than the recruiting sites do on the vast mass of three-star prospects that haven't leapt out at Scout or Rivals, often finding reasons for optimism. See Carvin Johnson for a canonical example. Here, though, there isn't much to go on. All recruits are lottery tickets that have a chance to hit big, but that doesn't mean you can't get a rough sense of the chances from surveying google. This is all a long way of saying I'm not expecting immediate contributions from Paskorz and think he's got a relatively low chance of being anything other than a functional rotation player a la Greg Banks. At this time, Pittsburgh-area newspaper cranks are invited to view this animated gif if it will make them feel better.
Why Jeremy Van Alstyne? It's really hard to find a Michigan player in the last decade who was a 230-ish pound LB/DE coming out of high school who did not have a ton of hype (Tim Jamison, Roh). I was going to go for Brandon Herron, but he was 6'2" and under 200 pounds as a high school kid. Van Alstyne was 240, listed at LB, and expected to play DE. He was always supposed to be breaking through but suffered a series of injuries and then didn't play that well even when he saw the field. He ended up a rotation player and erratic starter.
Etc.: State runner-up in the shot put. Fluffy article previewing Hampton's season last year with a couple quotes. Signing Day interview on WTKA. Paskorz's coach in an AA.com article on something he won't do at Michigan:
“I’m sure all the computer breakdowns would say that we were so right-handed because he played as our tight end to the right side,” Hampton coach Jacque DeMatteo said. “And he just mauled people. It was fun to watch. It was really nice to be able to coach something like that.”
Guru Reliability: High. Unified opinion about a healthy kid and nothing in the offers to contest the assessment.
General Excitement Level: Insert the usual disclaimers about how I don't want to be rude to a kid but have to maintain some air of objectivity: low. There's obviously some chance that Paskorz develops more than his classmates but his ceiling seems pretty average and he's got a ways to go to get there.
Projection: Redshirt, then spends another two years behind Roh before challenging for the starting job as a redshirt junior.
I'll be embarking on a project similar to last year's recruit profiles in the near future, but that effort will last into the summer—the final profile last year (Tate Forcier) didn't go up until June 25th—and some words about how Michigan did will be far less timely then.
The other side of the ball was examined last week.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
We'll throw quick end in here, too, and why not? Seemingly half the defensive recruits in the class said they were recruited to play the spot. Michigan has plenty of needs elsewhere so this intrepid reporter is going to put Jordan Paskorz, and only Jordan Paskorz, here. Antonio Kinard and Davion Rogers will be filed as linebackers; Ken Wilkins is already pushing 250 and will be filed as a strongside defensive end.
On Paskorz: he is a generic three star to the world, a guy who gets 5.6 on the Rivals scale—5.7 is a high three star, 5.6 a middling one—and had offers that reflected that. Michigan's main competitors were Pitt and Virginia. He won't have to play much until he's a redshirt sophomore—that's when when Craig Roh backup Brandon Herron graduates—and we're unlikely to see him until then.
The strongside guys have a bit more to recommend them. Jibreel Black (right)and Ken Wilkins are 4/3 star tweeners (e.g., one of Scout or Rivals has them at four, the other at three). Wilkins hails from the same high school that Ohio State recruit Andrew Sweat and Penn State recruit Mike Yancich attended, and his coach believes he's more athletic than either:
"He is an unbelievable physical talent," Dalton said. "And he is only going to get better. I have had some great players here, but nothing like Ken physically. I am not saying he is going to be better than Yancich and Sweat, but he is the most physically talented player I've had."
Black, meanwhile, was a guy Michigan was hot after all year but could never get on campus until late January. By then he'd already committed to Indiana (where his brother had an excellent season) and Cincinnati (which is approximately three minutes from home). He's got the same body type as Brandon Graham, albeit without most of his hype. The insider-type folk say, and Michigan's dogged pursuit implies, that whatever the guru folk thought Michigan wanted Black badly.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
B+. They got about the right number of bodies to fill out two thin spots on defense and I like the long term potential of both strongside guys. A blue-chip would have been nice.
Impact This Year?
Hopefully little, but given the depth chart at SDE it seems like either Black or Wilkins will have to burn a redshirt as a backup unless Anthony LaLota got a lot bigger during his redshirt year.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
Michigan missed out on a true nose when Jonathan Hankins picked Ohio State. They did grab two promising three-tech recruits in Terry Talbott and Pahokee's Richard Ash. Both have size issues: Talbott is currently around 240 and is a guy some observers thought would end up at defensive end. According to Rod Smith, Ash is now over 300 pounds; given his recruitment that seems more like a problem to be fixed than a solution to Michigan's nose tackle issue. Teams backed away from Ash when he showed up to Florida's camp overweight.
On the other hand, both have talent. Talbott almost defected to North Carolina late; when Tim went down to catch a Wayne game this fall he was a wrecking ball in the backfield. He's an excellent, disruptive fit for the penetrating defensive tackle spot he's slated for. The teams backing away from Ash after his weight issues, meanwhile, were USC and Florida. Ash has upside for Barwis to extract, and he's got a host of Pahokee folk up here to help him adjust. If he puts in the work, Michigan will have a guy who could play for Florida's defensive line.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
B-. No nose tackle is a downer. Michigan will have one guy there next year if Mike Martin moves unless Ash can actually handle that weight. Outside of that, though, both recruits seem like they might be underrated.
Impact This Year?
Assuming the RVB move, Michigan will have a veteran two-deep at defensive tackle but Talbott and Ash will be next in line after that. If there's an injury, one or both might be pressed to play. I imagine Michigan will try to redshirt both; they might not be able to.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
A late flurry of offers and a little snake oil turned this position group from a gaping sore into… well, a considerably less gaping sore. Late additions Davion Rogers and Jake Ryan are just three star sorts, but given Michigan's situation before they hopped aboard they're welcome. Rogers is a 6'6" birdman of a linebacker/DE prospect who everyone, including me, will compare to Shawn Crable. Michigan pirated him away from WVU once Doc Holliday left. Early in his career he'll probably play the weakside linebacker spot occupied by Jonas Mouton currently; if he puts on enough weight we'll see him at quick.
Ryan popped up late after an Omameh-like senior year where he grew two inches and twenty pounds and outplayed Ohio State commit, teammate, and fellow linebacker Scott McVey en route to a state championship. McVey was playing with a busted shoulder, FWIW, but Ryan is a heady kid who actually played linebacker in high school—a rarity for Michigan of late—and is at least a reasonable prospect to start in a year or two.
A couple players may end up at spinner, the strongside linebacker/safety position last occupied by Stevie Brown, but for right now the only guy in the class this blog places at the spot is uber-athlete Josh Furman, AKA Dhani Jones 2.0. Furman was a ridiculously productive safety and tailback in high school who hit camps and dropped electronically timed 4.3 40s. Scout thinks he's awesome; Rivals again goes "meh." He's clearly got a ton of upside.
Antonio Kinard got a super-early offer and committed to it, but did little during his senior season to assuage concerns he was an iffy bet. He, too, might end up at quick but will be filed a linebacker for the moment.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
C-. The late pickups salvaged this grade but the emphasis is on "salvage." The only inside linebacker Michigan picked up in the last class was Isaiah Bell and the guys in the class before that are gone (Witherspoon and Hill), seemingly locked into special teams forever (Demens), and JB Fitzgerald. Michigan needed numbers here, and they ended up with numbers, but they also needed a blue chip or two and they did not get one. Furman is a recruit you can get excited about, but that's 1/4.
Impact This Year?
Redshirts for everyone, in all likelihood, except possibly Furman. Even Furman will have to beat out two guys with almost two years of experience in fall camp if he's going to win a job.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
Michigan will bolster its roster with four cornerbacks this fall. They come in two flavors. Flavor one consists of short three-stars from Ohio. They are Courtney Avery and Terrance Talbott. Avery was a prolific, tiny high school quarterback who only moonlighted on defense. He made first team All-Ohio and chose Michigan over a Stanford decommit not because of grades but because he wanted to stay closer to home. Talbott is the other Talbott's brother and struggled through injuries most of his senior year but has received positive reviews from local observers. There's some reason for optimism on both.
Cullen Christian needs no ball security
Flavor two consists of blue-chips anyone and everyone wanted who held preposterously long press conferences. Cullen Christian is the #3 corner to Scout and in the Rivals 100; he picked Michigan over Ohio State and many others after a long period of favoring Michigan. 6'1" and physical, Christian's YMRMFSPA is a holy lock to be Marlin Jackson. Demar Dorsey you may have heard about. He picked Michigan over Florida State and USC after being a Florida commit for over a year. He's the #12 player overall to ESPN and a four-star to the other sites.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
A. Four players, two of them blue-chips, at a position of crying need.
Impact This Year?
One of these kids is guaranteed to play unless JT Floyd takes a huge leap forward. A second is likely to find his way into a nickel package. If one of them is really good right away, you could see him start immediately and Troy Woolfolk move to safety. Michigan will probably redshirt one; the other three will have to play.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
We'll put Marvin Robinson (OMG HALFSHIRT) here because he's likely to play the box safety* we've been discussing extensively. Robinson is the defense's Ricardo Miller, a hyped-to-the-moon Florida prospect who seemed likely to be a five-star (or thereabouts) only to experience a precipitous drop in ranking. Robinson's drop came after a few camps he participated in. In the aftermath, Rivals gurus trashed his coverage ability and said he was a linebacker and nothing else. He still held on to a fourth star, though, and fielded offers from Ohio State and several other power programs before going with the Michigan program that had led for him seemingly forever.
The class rounds out with two sleeper-type prospects. I'm considerably more bullish on Carvin Johnson, who apparently avoided the combine circuit entirely this summer, was the best player on his team, and prompted an unsolicited email of praise from local coach (not his) when this site's initial take on him was "meh." He also won the MVP award in a state championship game his team lost by a billion points. Late LSU interest was not reciprocated.
Ray Vinopal is the kind of recruit that everyone on the internet hates on, prompting articles in which he declares a desire to prove everyone wrong and press conferences where Rich Rodriguez justifies signing the guy. The internet is not necessarily wrong, though. At the time of his commitment Vinopal was a who-dat with no recruiting profile despite his presence in Ohio power Cardinal Mooney's secondary. He apparently picked up a couple of good offers late (Wisconsin was the biggest) but the heuristics indicate a marginal contributor.
*(MGoBlog is officially adopting "box" and "deep" as its chosen lingo for Michigan safeties in what appears to be a permanent 4-4 front similar to that Virginia Tech runs. The way Michigan aligns apparently does make the deep guy the "strong" safety but since that goes against the popular conception of free and strong, it's confusing.)
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
B-. One blue chip is nice and Carvin Johnson seems like the good kind of sleeper. Would have liked a true deep safety with more than two stars, but one of the cornerbacks could move back once the
Impact This Year?
If Robinson had managed to enroll early, as planned, we'd be anxiously observing him in the hopes he could lock down that box safety spot in spring. Things did not go to plan and we'll be anxiously waiting on his arrival instead. Even so, Robinson's main competition at the position he's slated for consists of a walk-on and a converted wide receiver. I don't think he'll start right away but Michigan isn't going to be able to redshirt him and he may find his way into the lineup by midseason.
Johnson and Vinopal are likely redshirts.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
With Zoltan the Inconceivable exiting to a long and lucrative NFL career, Michigan needed a replacement. They took a pass on in-state punter and reputed Michigan fan Mike Sadler, who ended up at State, to chase WI P Will Hagerup, who had offers from all over the country and was the highest-rated punter at Rivals. (He's the #4 K but the specialists in front of him are all placekickers.) After a few visits, Hagerup picked Michigan and its wide open job over Wisconsin, Ohio State, and others.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
A. Hagerup is either the country's top punter or in the top three to all ranking services.
Impact This Year?
Unless Michigan's offense is so awesome it never punts, Hagerup will be deployed this fall.
All Things Collected And Told
Numbers. That's the most important thing this class brings. Even if there are twice as many sleeper types as you'd like to see in an average Michigan class, getting two guys for every spot on the defense minus a few here and there puts Michigan in a position where the first guy off the bench when a starter gets dinged isn't a walk-on. He'll be a freshman, probably. But you can't recruit juniors.
And it's not all sleeper sorts. Michigan picked up two touted corners with blue chip offers, grabbed a linebacker from Virginia Tech, locked down Marvin Robinson's abs, and grabbed a collection of defensive linemen with considerable upside. It's a below average class, but it's not that far off. And given the context, it's fairly good.
A preposterously early letter grade: B+. For the class as a whole: B.
While Michigan fans can hope that current commits see their stock rise when Scout, Rivals, and ESPN update their rankings, players often stay stable or drop. In this look at Michigan's recruiting class, we'll see which guys have probably reached their maximum guru approval (or close to it).
MI/FL WR Ricardo Miller
|Ranking||WR #24||WR #19|
Why Here? When Michigan fans were told how good Miller was, it sounded like he was a shoe-in for 5-star status. Even the Florida rankings released by some sources prior to the release of Rivals' and Scout's official lists had him in the top 5 prospects in the state. However, when the major sites released their rankings he was a mid-4-star to both.
It's not from lack of exposure. Miller's situation (being a southeast player committed to a non-southeast school before the rankings came out) may have hurt him somewhat. Southeast recruiting analysts are likely to ding a prospect for being an early commit to a school from a different area of the country.
Prediction: Miller has moved to Michigan, so it will be an entire different set of eyeballs looking at him. If he blows up in the state of Michigan, it doesn't hold as much weight as if he had done so in Florida. Miller's move to Michigan probably helped him in terms of getting acquainted with the area, recruiting other prospects, and getting ready to enroll at the University. But it put something of a cap on his rankings. Miller will probably remain a 4-star.
FL S Marvin Robinson
|Ranking||OLB #11||S #10|
Why Here? Robinson has a lot in common with Ricardo Miller. Michigan fans have been hearing for years about how he would be a Locky McLockerson for both Michigan and 5-star status. He impressed at Michigan's summer camp as a rising sophomore, and ever since we've been hearing about how awesome he is. Eventually, the 2010 rankings came out... and Robinson was a medium-range 4-star. The only plausible explanation, given his apparent exposure, is that he just isn't quite as elite as we'd been hearing. If he isn't highly ranked by now, it's probably just not in the cards.
Prediction: He's listed at either OLB or safety, so if the premium sites can come to a consensus on his future position, it might help them figure out where he should be ranked. If he gets bigger, he could be an elite OLB prospect, but he has limited upside in the rankings at safety. Michigan has a perfect role for Robinson, either as a safety if he can keep his speed, a linebacker if he adds a bunch of weight, or as a hybrid if his physical development is complete. He doesn't have the speed that an elite safety his size would have (i.e. Taylor Mays). I think he'll top out near the higher range of 4-stars.
PA DE/LB Ken Wilkins
|Ranking||WDE #17||DE #31|
Why Here? Wilkins is much like Paskorz: a tweener that scouting services don't love. He's athletic and the services recognize at least that, giving him a 4-star ranking. His exposure should be pretty good at his school (trinity has produced a number of D-1 players over the years), so he is probably ranked where the services want him.
Prediction As a tweener, it's going to be tough for him to move up, despite the fact that his coach says he's more athletic than all of the D-1 prospects who have come through Trinity. Unless collects absurd statistics as a senior, Wilkins will probably stay right where he is: a low 4-star. The Quick DE position on Michigan's defense may be a more natural fit than conventional DE or LB spots. That should be encouraging to Michigan fans.
MI RB Austin White
|Ranking||APB #15||RB #17|
Why Here? White has torn through Michigan in the past couple years, but high school football in the state being what it is the competition has not been the best. Looking at Stevenson's results over the past couple years, it's not clear whether White's stats (which are very good) are a product of his team obliterating the competition or his exceptional talent.
Room to Grow? Literally, yes: White's a small guy who could use some time in the weight room. But he's also an established star at his school who's gotten a ton of combine exposure; there's no much secret about him.
Prediction: A good senior season can only do so much for White since he's smallish and proven. He may get looks at a RB/slot hybrid, and Rivals lists him as an all-purpose back, so showing off his receiving ability could give him a bump. But White actually moved down in the Rivals re-rank; not many do that and then bounce back up.
PA DE Jordan Paskorz
|Ranking||WDE #36||DE #59|
Why Here? Paskorz is something of a man without a position. Half lineman, half linebacker, he doesn't fit into lots of schools' lists of needed prospects. Still, Paskorz has some physical talent, enough that the recruiting services know about him. The bigger question is whether he performs on the field for his school.
Prediction Especially if he grows enough to become a true defensive end, and puts together a productive senior year, he can move up somewhat. The sites have pretty different opinions of him, so he's might move one way or the other. Scouting services will never really be enamored with players that don't have obvious NFL potential. Unless he gets more athletic or bigger in an obvious way during his senior year, he's stuck where he is.
TX RB Stephen Hopkins
|Ranking||RB #80||RB #57|
Why Here? Hopkins has been solid, but not great, against high-level Texas competition. He has led his team to successful playoff runs in the past couple years. However, he lacks that one attribute that really sets him apart. He runs tough, but doesn't truck the hell out of guys. He'll get to the second level, but not outrun everyone in the secondary. He'll put a move on you, but won't make most defenders go looking for their jockstraps.
Prediction: Since he plays good competition in Texas, if Hopkins has a big season of any sort he could move him up. But he has the exposure and body of work that comes with being a two-year-starter at a big Texas program and hasn't gotten more three stars from the recruiting sites. He might move up a little bit if he's able to put in the offseason work to increase his speed or toughness, but I'd be surprised if he gets to a fourth star. He should end up a high(er) 3-star, not far from his current ranking. Note that Hopkins disagrees with this assessment, stating he's been told a big year will get him a fourth star.
OH OL Christian Pace
|Ranking||OC #7||OG #36|
Why Here? Pace's film is impressive. He is an aggressive blocker who will drive defenders into the ground. However, he is limited from being ranked any more highly by his height. At only 6-3—which may be exaggerated—he does not have ideal size for a guard, nor does he excel in pass protection. Pace's team success may not have much bearing on his ranking, so even if they improve from last year's finish, he won't reap much benefit. He will probably not grow. That will always limit him in the eyes of the recruiting services, regardless of how impressive his film is.
Prediction Even though Rivals scouts drooled over his junior film, they actually moved him down in their recent re-rank. If Pace has a dominant year blocking (and his Scouting Ohio film certainly indicates that he's capable of that), he could move up to low 4-star status, but he had a dominant junior year and didn't go anywhere.
Pace seems a lot like current Michigan center David Molk, who is a short but effective center. In the Michigan system, slightly smaller but more athletic interior linemen can still have success (again, see Molk).
LA Slot Drew Dileo
|Ranking||ATH #58||WR #27|
Why Here? Dileo has been productive in his high school career, but perhaps his ranking is held down by a few factors: 1) His team is routinely a behemoth in its small-division Louisiana competition, so it's tough to gauge individual talents at times. 2) He is a 5-10 wide receiver. 3) He is a white wide receiver. None of these factors are likely to change this year, so look out. He has limited upward potential - but as with lots of little guys, that might not mean detrimental things about his career at Michigan.
Prediction Like I said, if the scouts don't already know about Dileo, it’s not because he hasn’t been exposed. He is likely stuck in neutral as far as his rankings go. The situation from last year won't change, and barring an absolutely transcendent performance (which doesn't seem likely), he'll stay where he is. Worse still, other players might be able to move up and pass him down the road, dropping his ranking even further than its current level.