also duty-free guys falling over and grabbing their shins
As people who hit the message board already know and have vented about, there's a website out there that lists junior college LOIs for Fort Scott Community College. This would not be of interest to anybody except for this bit:
You may sign a National Letter of Intent if you have already signed a letter of intent with a junior college or an NAIA school. The National Letter of Intent is a voluntary program with more than 600 participating institutions, all of which are members of either NCAA Division I or II. By entering the National Letter of Intent program, participating institutions agree to honor one another's commitments.
…and do the grinding legwork of finding out how many of these 70-deep JUCO recruiting classes actually end up in JUCO:
56% of last year's "class" for the CC never materialized.... yeah, I think many of these are back up plans.
So. At some point Demar Dorsey signed a LOI with a JUCO, so he's not qualified yet and has made a backup plan. Tom tracked down Fort Scott HC Jeff Sims to confirm:
"He's working very hard to be a Wolverine, but he has to be ready just in case, to recover if he doesn't get in. If he comes here, we'd love to develop him, and get him to his goals. We are his back up plan. He may never end up at our school. If he can't get qualified, then he needs to know that he has a backup plan, and that's us."
He's still got the rest of this high school semester and the summer to get his grades in order but there's obviously a nonzero chance that happens. Players with truly hideous grades usually don't end up recruited by the Floridas and USCs and Florida States. Commence steady, relaxing breathing.
This happened over the weekend. I was, uh, busy with something else.
Michigan commitment #17 is an unusual one: JUCO linebacker Austin Panter. Michigan hasn't taken a JUCO since the days of Russell Shaw in 1997. The reason usually cited is that it's hard to get dodgy JUCO grades to transfer, but Panter maintains a 3.8 GPA at Butler County CC and originally decided on junior college not because of academic concerns but in an effort to get more exposure. His Iowa high school was tiny, playing eight-on-eight, and he had little opportunity to earn a scholarship at a major school thre.
There's little out there on Panter, but he does seem like a good prospect. He's Rivals #17 JUCO, a four-star with good measurables ("4.5" forty, as per usual, 6'3", 220). He was the defensive MVP of his league. Arkansas and Minnesota were the first schools on him, which doesn't sound particularly appealing, but JUCO recruiting is a weird world I don't have a handle on. His school doesn't allow recruiting until after the season, so there seemed to be a fairly quick transition: Panter finishes season, gets interest from a couple BCS programs and then Michigan swoops in. An early enrollee, he'll come in at middle linebacker and compete for a starting job with redshirt junior Johnny Thompson.
How does this affect the 2007 class? Not much. Panter comes in with two years of eligibility. He could take a redshirt year if he needs or wants to, but that would defeat the whole purpose of scrambling for a JUCO linebacker. By the time anyone who comes in as a freshman is ready to play, Panter will be gone. Consider this a linebacker back-dated to the 2004 class.
What does this imply about next year's linebackers? There's little upperclass depth and potentially some questions about Johnny Thompson. Beyond next year's projected starters (Graham-Thompson-Crable), Michigan has junior Brandon Logan and three redshirt freshmen... and that's it. Brandon Graham ending up on the line as soon as he showed up radically changed the linebacking outlook, as he was by far the surest thing in last year's class and the most physically ready to play. Panter will help bridge the gap between this year's crew and the Mixon-Patilla-Ezeh-Whoever We Get This Year generation.