"...don't believe something because an "expert" is saying it. Believe it because of the evidence."
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.
Somewhat light update this week, though delayed until Thursday due to a busy Wednesday. All-time updates can be found on the 2010 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. Don't forget about the 2011 Michigan football Recruiting Board, although there is no 2011 news in this update.
I've added TX DT Jatashun "Big Tex" Beachum (pictured at right) to the board, as he plans on visiting Michigan ($, info in header). He's currently committed to Arkansas as a running back(!) and is a 280-pound dual threat QB(!) in high school. That's one heck of an athlete that the Wolverines are pursuing on the defensive line.
Both MN OL Seantrel Henderson and PA DT Sharrif Floyd opted against visiting Michigan last weekend, which seriously damages Michigan's chances at both of them (though it may be a better thing that they didn't sit through the rain to see Michigan get pounded). The Daily Gopher thinks Michigan is hanging on near the back of Henderson's top schools, though that was with the assumption he would visit Ann Arbor. As for Floyd, he went to Ohio State instead, and he has a new top five:
In no particular order, they are: Florida, Ohio State, North Carolina, South Carolina and USC.
Last Line of Defense
Michigan's woes in the secondary, compounded by the dismissal of Boubacar Cissoko from the team yesterday, have a number of recruits giving Michigan a hard look. CA CB Tony Jefferson, currently a UCLA commit, plans to take a Michigan visit for next week's Purdue game, as mgoblog's own TomVH said Tuesday. UCLA (where he is currently committed), Florida, and Miami are his other finalists.
Added LA S Carvin Johnson to the board, as he took an official visit to Ann Arbor for the contest against the Nittany Lions ($, info in header). He really enjoyed the visit, as well ($, info in header). Johnson has a Michigan offer, and favors the Wolverines pending a couple more official visits. Carvin is on the left in the photo, next to Wolverine commit PA DE Ken Wilkins (image courtesy of Josh Helmholdt in the Detroit Free Press).
FL CB Tony Grimes has had Michigan near the top of his list for quite some time now, and the Wolverines may be in a similar position for his teammate, FL DE Clarence Murphy. However, neither is ready to make a decision any time soon:
"I'm just letting things come to me in recruiting," Grimes said. "I'm more focused on my play on the field, but I am staying in touch with certain college coaches. The recruiting stuff will all play itself out in the end. I'm in no hurry to make a decision."
Added Murphy, "We are probably just going to continue to focus on high school football right now and then once it gets towards that deadline, we are going to put our heads together after we take our officials and (determine) where we want to be the next three to four years."
Grimes is one of Michigan's top prospects at corner, and adding a pass-rusher would be icing on the cake.
Elsewhere in Michigan leans, PA CB Cullen Christian enjoyed his visit to West Virginia. The Mountaineers are probably Michigan's biggest competition for Christian.
Moving to a prospect that the Wolverines don't have a great chance with, CA S Dietrich Riley is favoring Tennessee, Notre Dame, Florida, and USC. I think the title "Riley Down to Four" might be overstating the case, but any other school is definitely facing an uphill battle. Michigan is one of four schools vying for his final official visit.
OH LB Steve Mehrer visited Ann Arbor last weekend ($, info in header). His best current offer is Bowling Green, so he's probably way down the list of possibilities. OH TE Alex Smith has Michigan in his final two with Cincinnati. ESPN has (rather unwisely) made it impossible to link to their "On the Trail" recruiting updates, so no link, but CA RB Anthony Barr has eliminated Michigan, and I've removed him from the board.
The Michigan win yesterday was huge for the program on the field, and was also a help in the recruiting department. The first game of the season was taken in by a handful of committed recruits from this year's class and plenty of the top players in 2011.
MI WR Ricardo Miller, the new mayor of Ann Arbor, was pleased by his now-obligatory appearance. "It was a good win," he said, "and it was a real good atmosphere. I was with some of the other kids, and they liked it too. I know Dior [Mathis, the Cass Tech cornerback] liked it a lot," Miller said.
When asked what the difference was between this game, and the game he attended last year, he told me, "Well, first, we won. That part was great, it was a good feeling." Miller continued: "The second was that everyone just seemed more with it. The players seemed like they were more in the game than last year."
Ricardo also mentioned the fans' support for the team and Rich Rodriguez, "A lot of people have jumped on the wagon, it seems like. They won, and everyone was happy. I didn't like that they weren't supporting him before, but I know there was a lot of fans there showing him how much they care."
Miller made a point about how living so close to the Big House will prepare him to see the field next year: "I'm going to every home game, and every time I go into the stadium, I get less and less nervous. So, each home game for me is going to help calm my nerves for when I actually get to play."
Ricardo Miller gallery by Paul. It's from Pioneer's 32-28 win over Inkster.
On the defensive side of the ball, PA DE Ken Wilkins and OH CB Courtney Avery (right) made it up for their first ever Michigan game. Both were excited about what they saw. "It went real well," said Wilkins. "I loved it. The fans were crazy, it seemed like they all knew my name. The Victors Walk was crazy too, it was just nuts. I was honestly surprised, I didn't know it was going to be that loud, and that crazy."
The coaches and the game gave Ken a better look at how he'd be used in the game. "I talked to Coach Robinson a little before the game," he said, "and I think I'll be used like Craig Roh*. He had a really good game, so it was just exciting to see that in person."
Courtney Avery said the game was a good way to get to know his future teammates. "I had met Ricardo before," he said, "but I had never met Kenny." Avery was impressed with his first visit to Michigan Stadium: "This was the icing on the cake. I was amazed at how many people were there. I loved the atmosphere all together. It was cool to see the game in person, because you get to see how excited the sidelines get, and the players that aren't on the field," said Avery.
The visit also gave Courtney a chance to see how he'd be used on defense. "I talked to Coach Gibson, Tall, and Rodriguez before the game," he said. "During the game, I was just watching the corners and their technique. It was cool to see how they play, and that I'll be out there soon," Courtney said.
*[Editor's note: Wilkins is being brought in as a deathbacker but given his size and Michigan's depth chart, I'm betting he ends up in the Brandon Graham role eventually.]
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.
Added FL CB Eric Mitchell($).
Editorial Opinion: Sort of a light week outside of the Elite 11. There was a Rivals revamp, I guess.
About the departed:
- IL WR Kyle Prater took a visit in the spring and mentioned Michigan high up immediately afterwards but once that faded it became clear he wasn't feeling it. Cramming him into this class would have been difficult in any case.
- FL LB Jeff Luc was a major longshot.
- MD OL Robbie Havenstein mentioned M like once and then went radio silent; I'm not sure how much mutual interest there was in the first place.
- FL CB Nickell Robey said he'd visit, but will not. Minor ding there but CB still looks strong.
- CA LB Tony Jefferson's sudden commit to UCLA robs Michigan of a touted prospect at an area of need; even if they weren't in the driver's seat a 20-ish percent chance of landing him is better than none.
And then there's TX DE Holmes Onwukaife, who tried to commit to Michigan earlier and was told by the coaches that Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz had taken his spot. He was offered the chance to come in as a middle linebacker and turned it down, went to Florida State's camp as an outside linebacker, got offered, and committed. Swing and a miss by the coaching staff here; if Onwukaife pans out it's going to be painful.
Here's a direct example of Michigan's eagerness to accept commitments probably costing them a better class. I mean no offense to Antonio Kinard or Jordan Paskorz, but if I had to pick one guy from the three just based on offers, recruiting buzz, and whatnot, it would be Onwukaife. I know, I know: Rodriguez forges two-stars into firey death machines and so forth and so on. It'll be interesting to see how Kinard, Paskorz, and Onwukaife end up panning out.
Weekly Semi-Creepy Devin Gardner Update
No, it's not this week that sees the recruiting roundup go without mention of Devin Gardner, but I've got a good reason: Gardner just participated in the Elite 11 camp, where he won awards for Best Feet—no doy—and Best In The Classroom. From there it gets schizophrenic. Gardner did not finish in the top five in the "Overall MVP" voting, but did cause Rivals analysts Greg Biggins and Barry Every to swoon:
Rivals.com national analyst Barry Every ranked Gardner as the top overall quarterback at the camp based on long-term potential and the ability to win football games.
“I don’t think there’s any question, after having seen him for four days, how hard he competes and how hard he wants to be the best,” Every said.
Every and Biggins agreed Gardner compares favorably at the same stage of his career to players like Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Juice Williams and Dennis Dixon, all Elite 11 alumni.
Yow. That's a huge disagreement between the camp counselor voting—current college QBs—and the scouting professionals. I'm naturally inclined to take the word of the professionals. According to Every, Gardner is a lock to shoot into the top 100 when Rivals revamps its rankings again. (Odd that Rivals would re-do their rankings before the most important quarterback camp of the year, no?)
Every's other favorite QB there, by the way, was PSU commit and OLSM QB Robert Bolden; MSU commit Joe Boisture finished last. MSU's resident Guy Who Knows Guy Involved With Elite 11 was not pleased with what he heard from his guy.
Other opinions also exist, though they're necessarily less star-struck. Scout's Scott Kennedy:
"Gardner is a superior athlete who is handcuffed a bit by a passing camp that doesn't showcase his playmaking ability with his legs. However, as one might expect, Gardner was solid in the bootleg drills, and while struggling hitting the deep-out to live receivers, Gardner picked up his game in the target practice segment, showing off better accuracy than many of his Elite 11 teammates."
ESPN's evaluation intertwines Bolden and Gardner:
Robert Bolden (Orchard Lake, Mich./Saint Mary's) and Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich.) could almost be considered identical. They are the same in height, weight, frame, athleticism, arm strength, dual-threat capabilities -- you name it and they are probably alike in it. It is hard to tell the two apart. Bolden surprised a bit with how compact, quick and capable he was of getting rid of the ball. At times, the ball jumps off his hand with tremendous zip and power. Gardner is mechanically more like Vince Young with a bit of a three-quarter release, but he has the same "pop" out of his arm as Bolden. As the week wears on, these two will likely see a big jump in overall, consistent accuracy. Bolden, a Penn State commit, and Gardner, a Michigan commit, are terrific fits for their respective programs from a scheme standpoint.
Aaand JC Shurburtt:
Michigan commit Devin Gardner (Inkster, Mich./Inkster) has also surprised many. His hustle, leadership and athleticism add up to a tremendous maturity that will help him compete early for playing time in Ann Arbor. He was a notch behind Bolden throwing it, but still has a strong arm and excellent size.
All told, a highly positive camp for Gardner and Michigan.
Rivals did rejigger its rankings. Plenty of folks moved around but only a few items seem worth mentioning:
- PA DE Ken Wilkins got a fourth star.
- OH OL Christian Pace did not, which is somewhat surprising given Mike Farrell's almost rapturous praise for his film. I don't care; I think he's perfect for Michigan, and so does Rick Trickett.
- MI RB Austin White dropped a decimal point and is now actually behind MSU commit Nick Hill, which makes no the sense given that Hill's BCS offers were Stanford and State and White was clearly preferred by both instate schools, Wisconsin, Illinois, and LSU. But whatever.
- PA CB Cullen Christian flew up from a three star to the #60 player.
- Various stragglers at the mysterious end of Michigan's class all got their requisite three stars.
Grimes, We Talk To You
Rivals AMP with FL CB Tony Grimes:
Elsewhere in secondary prospects, OH S Bobby Swigert has a Michigan offer, has visited, and says Michigan is in his top group:
“Michigan was amazing. I was impressed with everything I saw, like the facilities and the new indoor building … it was just amazing. Coach Rodriguez is one of the coolest coaches I’ve met. And the academic advisor (Shari Acho) explained everything really well.”
With such a glowing recollection, it’s no wonder the Wolverines are in such a strong standing with Swigert, even though he hasn’t officially narrowed down his list.
“If I was to narrow down my list, Michigan would be in there. They are definitely one of the top contenders.”
On the other hand, OH S Kurtis Drummond now has Michigan State in the lead ahead of Michigan. OH S Latwan Anderson has bumped around his list a ton, with the latest update omitting Michigan. We'll see if that sticks; some recent scuttlebutt says Michigan is still in the running but needs a real visit to stay there.
You are large, but hopefully not too large
With defensive tackles thin on the ground—or too fat and on the ground—Michigan needs to make OH DT Terry Talbott a priority. So hurrah: Tom VanHaaren reports that Talbott will come up for a visit tomorrow. He also snags a quote from his coach:
"As for Terry, his strength is his ability to use his explosiveness to get off the ball and change direction. He is very strong upper body and his core is strong. He, like a lot of High School players need to better define his technique. He has good technique now, but to play at the next level and be successful his technique must be great. He uses his hands well now, but needs to always work on using them better." - Jay Minton
Terry's brother Terrance, a cornerback, is also coming in.
Punters are punting in code
WI P Will Hagerup is apparently the #1 guy on Michigan's board—he's the only guy out there with an offer—and a decision is coming soon. Two schools are seemingly in prime position:
Hagerup mentioned that a commitment could come in the near future, "I will decide within another month for sure."
Before he announces, Hagerup would like the further investigate Ohio State and Michigan, "I'm going to visit Ohio State and Michigan for sure within a couple weeks. I'm going to see practices at both places and take another tour at each school."
If it comes down to playing time, Michigan should win. Hagerup would be able to start at Michigan immediately with Zoltan the Inconceivable scheduled to transubstantiate into pure energy after the season. At Ohio State, AJ Trapasso has just graduated. Redshirt junior John Thoma is atop the depth chart; scholarship incoming freshman Ben Buchanan, Rivals' #3 kicker last year, is listed second.
User Mscharbo15 talked with TX RB commit Stephen Hopkins recently and put up a quick summary on the message board:
- He's graduating in December and will be enrolling early.
- His HS has OSU colors and he "wears them with shame."
- He's excited about the possibility of a home-and-home with Oklahoma State, since the 2010 game would be his first as a Wolverine and the 2011 contest would be the closest thing to a homecoming for him (he's from Texas).
- Although being the one power back in the 2010 class, he claims to be getting faster and quicker (can't hurt).
- Had he waited another month to commit, he likely would have received offers from Oklahoma (!!!), Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Sparty and Arkansas.
- He's heard from somebody in the know that if he has a good senior season he'll vault up to a 4-star.
Ooh: early entrant tidbit. That brings Michigan up to six commits with tentative plans to enroll early (Miller, J. Robinson, M. Robinson, Pace, and Gardner are the others).
Caveat: Though I can't confirm the poster isn't having us on, he signed up 28 weeks ago. Unless he was planning an incredibly long-term hoax in which the payoff is "you suckers thought I talked to a running back commit and posted innocuous things about it MOOOHAHA!" it's legit. The troll probability here approaches zero.
Etc.: ESPN evaluates SC QB commit Cornelius Jones and OH WR commit DJ Williamson, giving them three-star-ish ratings. Williamson sounds like the outside burner who will be stupidly wide open when safeties freak out about Gardner. OH DE Marcus Rush was supposed to visit Michigan Thursday but this apparently did not come off; I think this will be where M and Rush part ways. MD OL Arie Kouandjio has two officials, neither of which are M.
Update 5/12: More video of MI QB commit Devin Gardner. linked to articles on OH TE Alex Smith (w/ mention of PA WR Andrew Carswell), MD S Lorenzo Waters, PA DE commit Ken Wilkins (two three), FL RB Nickell Robey, FL DE Corey Lemonier, FL RB Cassius McDowell, MI DE Will Gholston, PA WR Andrew Carswell, MD OT Arie Kouandjio, MI WR commit Ricardo Miller, OH DT Jibreel Black, MI LB Daniel Easterly, PA DE commit Ken Wilkins. Moved TX DE Holmes Onwukaife and SC QB Cornelius Jones to committed.
Removed FL RB Darion Hall (Miami), SC S Bashaud Breeland (Clemson), FL CB John Fulton (dropped M), OH DE Darryl Baldwin (same), PA DE Kyle Baublitz (PSU), MD S Jeff Knox (Pitt), TN QB Barry Brunetti (WVU), FL OL Brent Benedict (UGA), MI CB Mylan Hicks (MSU), MI DE Will Gholston (MSU).
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Despite what you read above I've held off on anointing the Holmes Onwukaife commitment official until he gets the super-OK from Rodriguez but expect that will happen shortly.
Tons of guys come off the board for various reasons. Random guys who Michigan never really got involved with: Breeland, Fulton, Brunetti, Benedict, Knox. Others:
- FL RB Darion Hall named Michigan one of his top four but just committed to Miami.
- PA DE Kyle Baublitz had a top eight he claimed was even an tentatively planned a summer unofficial.
So not exactly anyone M was counting on. The two in-state commits were also thought to be favoring State, so no surprises there. They are both good players, though. You know about Gholston. Hicks has been outperforming Mathis at the various camps the two have participated in and his commitment further narrows Michigan's margin for error in a year when they need three or even four corners.
One note on Brunetti: I'm happy enough to see him go off the board, as it further narrows Ohio State's slim choices in this year's class. It's basically Moeller QB Andrew Hendrix or bust. They must be kicking themselves about Gardner; even if he's raw, better to have someone raw than someone eh.
Speaking of Corners
Michigan remains in the driver's seat for PA CB Cullen Christian, MI CB Dior Mathis (probably), FL CB Travis Williams, and FL CB Rashad Knight, so they're not in terrible shape or anything. Also a candidate is Marvin Robinson's good friend Nickell Robey:
“I want to visit some schools that I have been wondering about,” Robey continued. “Michigan, Tennessee and I would like to visit Miami but they haven’t come through yet. I wouldn’t mind going out to California to see Stanford and Notre Dame to go to some far away schools to see how life is.”
Robey on M:
Robey also commented on one of the non-regional schools he mentioned, Michigan.
“A good northern school that loves football. I think of Desmond Howard. I’m number 21, so that’s nice. They produce great players to the NFL and I could be one of those athletes, play football and have fun,” he said.
Local schools, Virginia Tech, and various others will have their say, too.
The Soothing Balm Of Raw Athletic Whatzit
Your latest Devin Gardner video is a compilation of Vince Young-esque runs:
Elsewhere in All Things Gardner, he showed at a local Michigan camp and dominated at both QB and wide receiver. He's been getting preposterous reviews of his athleticism when he puts himself in a position to use it at these things. He finished third in the 60-yard dash at the Sound Mind, Sound Body camp, getting beat out by two defensive backs a half-foot shorter than him and 50 pounds lighter, and came up a half-yard short of the longest throw.
There remains some possibility that
FL MI WR Ricardo Miller joins up with Gardner this fall. He's moved to Michigan but the original plan to join MI WR Jeremy Jackson at Ann Arbor Huron was kiboshed when Huron got a new coach who intends to install a veer offense. Another possibility would be Saline, which features BC commitment Joe Boisture at quarterback.
Ken Wilkins Can Wear Rock Star Jeans
More panting coach quotin' from PA DE commit Ken Wilkins' main man, who says he has a tiny waist despite being ENORMOUS:
"He is a physical, freakish-looking kid," Trinity coach Ed Dalton said. "He is 6-foot-4 and 242 pounds, and he has a 30-inch waist. He is an unbelievable physical specimen."
Dalton said Wilkins' potential is off the charts.
"When he plays with a high motor, he is unbelievable," he said. "He has to become a little more consistent and play at a high level every snap, but the sky's the limit."
Well, a good source at Trinity who knows the football program well said Wilkins is talented, but isn't as athletic as Andrew Sweat, a Trinity linebacker two seasons ago who is now at Ohio State. "He doesn't have the agility that Sweat had," the source said.
Since he's way bigger than Sweat and not a linebacker, this does not bother me.
Hankins and Other Three-Point Players
This will be a critical week for Michigan and MI DT Jonathan Hankins. Varsity Blue notes a Hankins mention on one of Sam Webb's recent recruiting roundups for WTKA, and helpfully translates the lingo:
Sam Webb had a “gut feeling” on the Recruiting Roundup Thursday that Hankins would be blue if offered. For those who are unfamiliar with the WTKA morning show, Sam’s “gut feeling” means that he has heard directly from a source that the information is true.
I think that depends on whether that's a "gut feeling" or a "strong, strong, strong gut feeling," actually, but Webb is expert at playing coy and allowing the listener to read between the lines.
Elsewhere in defensive linemen who aren't edge-rushing maniacs, OH DT/DE Jibreel Black, who would probably play as a 3-technique DT in Michigan's 4-3 under, is down to a top five:
In no particular order, it is Michigan State, Michigan, UC, Indiana and Kentucky. It's getting hard, but I should have a decision real soon.
Black's been on State's campus and was also up for the BBQ, IIRC; Michigan is usually the choice when an out-of-state prospect picks from a list like that, but Cincinnati is the local school here and could be a threat.
Michigan still leads($) for OH DE/OLB Marcus Rush, but he has to be just about out of luck by now, right? Michigan has three or four guys already at his position and he's not a guy who you'd shove into the class no matter what. I don't think he'll get the opportunity to commit; the Inn is full.
The coaches at Hialeah have been experimenting with a new way to use star defensive end Corey Lemonier. The Thoroughbreds have implemented a 3-4 defense to use on occasion, where Lemonier will line up as an outside linebacker.
When the T-Breds throw out the new wrinkle Lemonier is still used as a pass rusher most of the time, but he does drop back in pass coverage at times.
Kid's playing deathbacker this fall. Hopefully Michigan can sell him on the spot. It looks like they'll get an opportunity:
Lemonier is tight lipped on his recruitment and says he will make a decision when he feels the time is right. He did mention one school and a region of the country he would like to see during his official visits this fall.
“Probably I know for sure I’ll say Ole Miss and some (northern) school like Michigan, a school up there.”
Obviously a long way from the finish line there.
Whispers of Relevance
More Weekly Whispers; drilling down to the relevant bits:
- OH TE Dan Schneider, a teammate of OH OL Christian Pace, may pick up an offer soon.
- Michigan would likely shoot to the top for OH OL Dan Rotheram if they offer.
- Illinois and Oklahoma are going to make IL WR Kyle Prater's next cut; also Tennessee gets a visit. No M mention.
- MI RB Austin White is a "heavy lean" to Michigan.
Etc.: MI LB Daniel Easterly says Illinois leads "so far"; a Michigan offer might change that quickly. CityBallers.com interviews Teric Jones, Cameron Gordon, and Devin Gardner (also Robert Bolden). PA WR Andrew Carswell says Pitt leads($), which ok fine.