this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Aw, hell. Rivals has an article titled "Kevin Newsome back on the market" and he's not looking to scoop up foreclosed houses (topical ZING!): the rampant rumors from a month or so ago have come to fruition and he's decommitted. No schools have been mentioned yet; the scuttlebutt before was that Virginia Tech and Penn State were the main suitors. Michigan remains explicitly in the running, but it's extremely rare for a kid to re-commit to the school he decommitted from.
Some comments from on high about the reaction:
- Please check to see if there's already a thread about it on the message board before posting the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th thread.
- Don't be that asshat who posts something misleading in the subject line only to say "ha ha not really" in the text. This is never funny and makes people think you are mildly retarded.
- Criticizing kids who decommit is always tiresome; skip it.
- Not quite as tiresome but nearly so is the sarcastic overreaction post.
I'm bummed because I thought Newsome had enormous upside and the kind of dedication required to reach it. Tate Forcier is visiting for the Utah game, and a consolation prize that completes more than 70% of his passes ain't shabby. We'll see if the rumored Michigan love is for real; Forcier now has a powerful incentive to jump ASAP.
This whole QB situation intrigues me. I think of Newsome as a "Black Tim Tebow" and I hope he can live up to that title. It seems to me that Forcier does not care about a QB situation and feels he can outshine who ever else hes going up against. I must admit but I do not know very much about Beaver but anyone who runs a 4.5 at 6'4" is not bad in my book. In an ideal world, would you rather have Newsome backed up by Forcier or Newsome backed up by Beaver? If Forcier does decide to come to Michigan, which wouldnt surprise me, would you think that they would try to convert one of three or would you expect one of them to decommit?
I don't think there's any way Michigan crams three quarterbacks into the class. If Forcier commits, someone's out the door. IMO, that would mean Newsome had decommitted first. But we can take a trip to Fantasy Fairyland, where Notre Dame has twenty straight national championships and Michigan State didn't blow a late lead against Michigan that one time, if you want. In Fantasy Fairyland, Forcier commits and the three recruits duke it out with Threet and Feagin for the starting job in 2009. Of those five players, only Forcier (shortish, smallish) and Threet (Lurch) don't project to another position. Feagin had DB/WR offers from LSU and Miami. Beaver has a WR offer from Texas. And when Newsome was going through his period of poor performance at camps, you could just feel the recruiting gurus begging for a move to linebacker.
In an ideal world Michigan would take all three and then have one transfer out in a couple years after getting beaten out, but that sounds distinctly sub-optimal for that recruit, and all of the guys looking at Michigan are extremely clear that they consider themselves quarterbacks. Beaver grew up a huge Texas fan and wanted to go there, just not as a wide reciever.
As to who I prefer between Forcier and Beaver: that's moot, IMO. Beaver's sticking and will be one of the QB recruits in this class. The choice, if there is one, is between Newsome and Forcier. I've made it clear that Newsome is my guy, no offense to Forcier and his ridiculous completion percentage.
Brian,Why is there so much concern/publicity over the lack of an experienced QB at Michigan. Just four years ago a second string QB named Chad Henne, who no one had even heard of, started for the Wolverines and went on to win the Big Ten.Aside from gameday experience (which cannot be practiced or replicated) Michigan has, at worst, a 5-star QB recruit and a 3-star "athlete" who happened to run and pass a lot in high school. To me this doesn't seem so bad.Besides, if you are overhauling and entire program like Rodriguez is, wouldn't you almost want "inexperience" at QB as opposed to deprogramming someone who would have to unlearn the old system?Does this make sense or am I just trying to see a silver lining?Thanks,LanceRichmond, VA
There was a huge difference between the quarterback situation in 2004 and the situation now. In 2004, Michigan had three top 100 players duking it out: a redshirt sophomore who was the #4 QB when he was recruited, a redshirt freshman who was the #5 QB, and a true freshman who was the #3 QB. Henne, in particular, could have gone to any school he wanted. Whoever comes out of that mess ahead has already beaten out some serious competition and is likely to be at least all right. Also, they were big tall strong pocket passers in a system for big tall strong pocket passers.
This year, Michigan has a four-star (not, unfortunately, a five-star) guy who was the #9 QB his recruiting year, a walk-on, and a three-star freshman who was mostly recruited as a defensive back or wide receiver. The one guy the recruiting services liked is a big tall strong pocket passer in a system for Pat White or Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick.
So, yeah: you're just looking for the silver lining.
I just got back from Moe Sport Shops and they have just recieved a shipment of new adidas jerseys--more #1, and now #10 and #4. Given that the athletic department decides which jersey numbers should be made, this looks like Brandon Minor will be given the first chance at running back this fall. In 2005, Nike made #3 jerseys (Grady), but they were still making #20, plus I think they started making them midway through the season after Hart was injured and Grady was carrying the ball regularly; given this it would seem that Minor will get the starter's job against Utah.
Kepp up the good work!
Just FYI, and another indicator this season is going to be a weird one: they're making jerseys for guys (#1) who don't exist.
We're about to hit actual football season, which will severely curtail recruting coverage for 3-4 months. Monday Recruitin' will still exist and commitments will get the de-facto googlestalking, but recruiting content gets short shrift when Events are Transpiring. Before we go semi-dark, a snapshot of where Michigan's efforts stand to date. Check out the Recruiting Board for a more in-depth, more outdated version.
Commitments: Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. Both are highly rated dual-threat quarterbacks and both are needed. Newsome, rumored to be shaky, has recently reaffirmed his Michigan verbal.
Prospects: Californian Tate Forcier continues to show great interest in Michigan, attending the one-day senior camp earlier this summer and scheduling two in-season visits this fall. Florida's Eugene Smith continues to list Michigan in his top five when he has a top five to list.
Situation: Unless Newsome decommits (still a slight possibility) or Tate Forcier camouflages himself as a linebacker or something, Michigan should be done here, and with an A+ pair of players. No one can complain.
Commitments: Cass Tech RB Teric Jones is a three-star from Detroit; Fitzgerald Toussaint is a shifty, fast top 250 guy from Youngstown.
Prospects: Pahokee's Vincent Smith is all but committed; he's the tiniest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, and that's saying something. The only other player Michigan seems heavily involved with is high-rated Oklahoma scatback David Oku; most have him favoring Tennessee and Florida State.
Situation: They have to be done here after the pending Smith commit. I'm not too concerned about the low-ish rankings of Jones and Smith, as Rodriguez's system prioritizes different things than the recruiting sites do. More on this later.
Prospects: Despite complaints about a never-ending flood of 5'6" guys, Michigan appears to be done at the position. There are no midget receivers left on the offer board.
Situation: Gallon was temporarily a member of the Rivals 100 until his size knocked him out; he remains highly rated by them. He's the top star and quarterback for the preseason #1 team in Florida. He's a great pickup and may have been Michigan's first choice in the slot.
Commitments: Top-100 Minnesotan Bryce McNeal committed earlier in the summer.
Prospects: It appears Michigan would like one more outside receiver. The highest-rated guy they have a shot at is Californian Shaquelle Evans, a five-star guy who was reputed to favor UCLA earlier in the year but will give Michigan an official visit. PA WR Todd Thomas has previously claimed Michigan amongst his favorites or even his outright leader, but despite some guru approval Michigan does not seem to be reciprocating the interest. Instater Dion Sims wants to play basketball but is a MAC-level recruit in that sport; in football he's a loping downfield tight end. Michigan or Michigan State for him, probably.
Situation: Ironic that one of Rodriguez's top-rated recruits to date is the outside wide receiver whose days at Michigan were supposedly over.
Commitments: Rivals 250 OT Michael Schoefield, and that's it.
Prospects: Despite a couple of recent disappointments, there are a few good prospects on the board
- Chris Freeman, the gargantuan Trotwood-Madison tackle with one game to his credit.
- Cleveland Glenville tackle Marcus Hall, though the whole "Glenville" thing means he gets the red frowny face until he commits and maybe a little while after.
- Rivals 250 OT Brennan Williams, who has Michigan in a top six of elite academic schools.
- Californian Michael Philipp, about whom little is known.
Add it up and Michigan probably pulls one of the four above, most likely Williams (the recruiting sites are in disagreement about how interested Williams is, FWIW). They might add another three-star sort.
Situation: I was seriously concerned about numbers here, especially with the instate backup plan types (Mattias, Chapman, Fantuzzi, etc) lighting out to Indiana or the MAC or wherever, until I actually looked at the Depth Chart by Class. Michigan has no seniors on the offensive line and with Schofield will have 16 kids on scholarship this fall. How many more do you need? Maybe one or two. More on this later.
Commitments: Five-star DT Will Campbell committed way back at the 2007 summer camp; Louisiana DE/DT Dequinta Jones committed in late July.
Prospects: No one looks particularly likely to end up at Michigan, but a number of defensive end prospects continue to list them: Craig Roh, Anthony LaLota, Keenan Graham, Jason Ankrah, Chris Bonds, Will Hill. Roh is the highest-profile player who seems to have sincere interest.
Situation: Michigan should be done at defensive tackle; Jones weighed in at over 300 pounds at LSU's camp and has definitively established himself as an interior linemen. With two guys graduating and Slocum crapping out, Michigan needs two solid prospects. Check.
Defensive end remains the most troubling spot on the team. Tim Jamison graduates this year and Brandon Graham could bust out to the point where he's NFL bound, which would leave just four DEs on the roster, one of whom is positional vagabond and likely noncontributor Andre Criswell. Michigan needs quality and numbers here; unfortunately it's a terrible year in the midwest for DEs.
Commitments: Fringe four-star Jordan Barnes picked Michigan over Alabama, and it looks like both of Michigan's current safety commits are more likely to end up at outside linebacker.
Prospects: Like Vincent Smith above, Pahokee linebacker Brandin Hawthorne is all but committed; he's another outside linebacker type. Five-star Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins swung by Michigan for an unofficial; nobody knows where he'd like to go but anyone would make room for him. DeDe Lattimore is a three-star guy from Georgia who listed Michigan favorably, but it now sounds like he's probably going to stay in the south.
Situation: With two to four commits at a spot Michigan pulled in four guys at last year, they have to be about done. They'll make room for Jenkins; everyone else can go pound sand.
Commitments: Top 50 Ohioan Justin Turner is either a big, big corner or an excellent free safety prospect; camp commit Dewayne Peace is likely to end up on the defensive side of the ball.
Prospects: Michigan is probable leader for three-star Florida corner Mywan Jackson, the suspected leader for four-star Mississippi safety Dennis Thames and the tenuous leader for five-star Arkansas corner Darius Winston. Also hovering out there is Cass Tech quarterback Thomas Gordon, who's moving to safety this fall in an effort to land a Michigan offer; he's expected to get one and is further expected to commit as soon as Rich Rodriguez says "We'd like to offer yo-"
Situation: With three guys (Harrison, Trent, Stewart) headed out, 3-4 coming in is desirable. Michigan has plenty of targets it considers top-notch and should pick up 2-3. Not concerned here.
Commitments: None yet.
Prospects: Kickers Anthony Fera and Brendan Gibbons have been told one or both will receive an offer in the near future.
Situation: They obviously lack confidence in Bryan Wright and are searching for a backup plan -- or, more realistically, a plan, period. Fera and Gibbons are two of the top guys in the country this year/
FAKE QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD
Aiiiigh, three stars aaaaiiiiigh.
Well, yeah, lot of guys filling up the class who don't exactly have glamorous rankings or offers. I'm not too put out, though, and think there are two major reasons for the undercurrent of unease in the Michigan internet:
- Last year's recruiting class was a bounteous cornucopia of four-star-plus guys, with a whopping seventeen. This is above historical norms. 2007 had seven, one a JUCO. 2006 and 2005 had eleven.
- Ohio State's monster 2009 class, which is going to be a strong contender for #1 overall.
It looks like Michigan's recruiting is going backwards after a strong start and Ohio State is going to lord it over us. There are all those stories about how Ohio State is winning most of it's recruiting battles with Michigan that ignore the fact that Ohio State has always won most of its recruiting battles with Michigan because the vast bulk of them take place in Ohio. Dantonio got the drop on Michigan and it's that time every five years when Michigan State gets to a crappy bowl game with a new coach and picks up a couple instate recruits and the Tide Is Turning(tm). Steven Threet turfed a bubble screen. We're all going to die.
Meanwhile, Michigan is pretty much on track with what they always do. They've got eight four-star-plus recruits so far with about a third of the class to go, and there's reason to believe there might be some upward mobility in some of the disregarded -- especially if their last names are "Jones":
- Mike Jones missed half his junior year with injury.
- Teric Jones was also injured and was stuck behind another D-I recruit.
- ESPN loves Isaiah Bell, who's top-100 to them.
- According to an LSU contact, DeQuinta Jones did very well at LSU's camp and did so at around 300 pounds, which should remove the tweener tag he'd been saddled with.
IMO, there's probably going to be a net +1 on the four-star guys currently committed.
Secondly: don't care that Vincent Smith or Teric Jones or Jeremy Gallon gets only three stars (Gallon's three stars to non-Rivals outlets) because they're getting rated as tiny running backs or tiny receivers who couldn't swing it in every offense across the land. Michigan doesn't run every offense, it runs a very particular sort of offense that greatly appreciates the presence of little men made of the same material superballs are.
These are all the reasons I'm not that concerned.
The reason I am, a little bit: I would like a "big, thick joker" at linebacker, maybe two, to combat the nouveau-exotic offenses at Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. That's another question, though.
One offensive line commit aiiiiighh?
Theory: hello ex-tight ends. Michigan does seem critically short on the offensive line, but 1) there are no seniors this year, 2) they took a boatload (six) last year, and 3) there are six tight ends on the roster who may or may not like the idea of never getting any playing time and may or may not be well suited for the offensive line in Rodriguez's movement-friendly system. If someone like Steve Watson gets up to 270 or 280 he's an option; Brandon Moore is 6'6" and could fill out significantly once he's in Barwis' clutches.
It's obvious Michigan wants at another commit or two but they have been tardy to offer a number of guys, choosing to focus on only the four-star types in the area. Three-star camp types have been fleeing to MAC schools or Indiana at a rate that suggests Michigan isn't even asking them to wait so they can evaluate their seniors years film of them. They'll happily take a Schofield or a Zach Martin or an Andrew Carter, but aren't too concerned about getting run-of-the-mill guys in.
I'd expect one more in the class, hopefully Freeman or Hall (not likely) or Williams; if not it would be a snake oil job or some Omameh type who picks up a late offer after a growth spurt. Michigan will carry somewhere between 17 and 19 offensive linemen into 2009; I'm not that concerned.
Defensive end aaaaiiiigh!
The situation here is getting more and more problematic as defensive ends head elsewhere. At this point the only thing that makes sense is that Michigan intends to move recruits in the incoming class to defensive end. Strong candidates: Kevin Koger, JB Fitzgerald, and Marcus Witherspoon. I lean towards the bigger linebackers, as Michigan has five freshmen at the position (Brandon Herron redshirted) and is clearly targeting smaller safety-type linebackers as they go forward (Hill is a smallish, wiry guy -- though he played homewrecking defensive end in high school -- and all the guys they've picked up last year are little guys.)
This is concerning to some small extent. The linebacker commits: safety, safety, safety-sized WLB, 6'0 hypothetical MLB. (Jones, Bell, Hawthorne, Barnes, BTW.) The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball makes the most sense if you believe college football is going to be even more spread-dominated in the future and teams will have to put out "linebackers" that are closer to safeties and defensive ends who can run with quarterbacks. Michigan's recruiting appears to be forward-looking.
However, a number of Michigan's opponents are certainly not forward-looking. Wisconsin seems in no mood to go futzing with their bludgeoning ground game. Michigan State is embarking on a similar program. And Ohio State's default offense is ground-and-pound, though they will adapt to available talent.
Still, this spot reminds me of corner a few years back: Michigan whiffed on a bunch of guys, most prominently Justin King, and when their national-championship contender came together in 2006 there was one major achilles heel at cornerback.
Update 7/28: Added LA DT Dequinta Jones as a commit. Linked to articles on OH OL Marcus Hall, FL QB Eugene Smith, VA QB Kevin Newsome (another), notes on MN WR Bryce McNeal and Newsome, CA QB Tate Forcier, AR CB Darius Winston, SC DEs Chris Bonds and Sam Montgomery, NV DE Keenan Graham, TN CB Marsalis Teague, SC DE Chris Bonds, TX K Anthony Fera (Some links via VB).
Removed NC WR Jheranie Boyd (dropped us), TX OL Nick Ash (Nebraska).
Also: Jim Stefani's got some thoughts on Michigan's class to date.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
As per usual: quarterbacks. This hit the front page late last week, but it's worth repeating: VA QB Kevin Newsome said something other than "no comment" about his recruiting and it was reassuring:
"I'm committed to Michigan," Newsome said. "Me and Bryce McNeal were going around bragging how we're going to beat Randall Carroll, who's going to USC, Cierre Wood, who's going to Notre Dame. We were bragging about things like that."
Doubly reassuring was the wave of praise that followed Newsome's appearance. Newsome, of course, started the recruiting year in the top 20 players at both sites and has dropped steadily since. Josh Helmholdt's operative theory on why Newsome's performance dipped after the Army All American junior combine that got him rated a five-star player:
In January, at the U.S. Army combine in San Antonio, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Newsome was sensational throwing the football. He showed off his strong arm and displayed exceptional accuracy while throwing a very catchable ball. The one question that lingered after his performance in San Antonio, however, was the length of his delivery.
Newsome worked on shorten his delivery about the same time he started running track for his high school this spring (Newsome won the 2008 Virginia Class AAA state title in the 110-meter hurdles for Western Branch with a time of 14.15 seconds). For a few weekends, he was able to get away from his track team to compete at two Elite 11 camp qualifiers, but the rust in his arm showed.
The adjustment period appears to be over. Rivals guy Jeremy Crabtree (same article):
"Kevin was dramatically improved from what we saw of him in our events this spring and summer," Crabtree noted. "He talked about being able to be more focused on football and not worried about track and he started working on a lot of the little things on his own.
"He just showed great work ethic and it was impressive to watch as you left the field on Sunday and he was still out there throwing balls at targets by himself. The kid wants to get better and already has gotten better. It's going to be interesting to see where he will be when he's able to get focused on football 24/7."
Meanwhile, CA QB Tate Forcier continues to narrow his focus, eliminating schools as they pick up quarterback commitments:
"I've got a solid six," Forcier said. "Right now it is Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, Florida, Washington State and New Mexico."
(I've got ten bucks that says New Mexico is not the choice.) There's no leader, technically, but which school on the list has two QB commits and a seemingly impervious spot in his top five?
"That's possible, but I think I might take a few officials. It could get done within the first few weeks of the season, maybe even before," Forcier said. "I know one of my officials will definitely be Michigan. One's probably going to be a Florida one and probably Penn State."
The timing here is bad. The above article indicates that Forcier, like Newsome, plans a January enrollment at the school of his choice; this space had previously asserted that Forcier's apparent willingness to wait provided Michigan an excellent backup plan in the event of a Newsome decommit. If he's enrolling early that's off the table.
Would Michigan even take a commit from Forcier at this point? They're clearly still recruiting him. Whether that's as a precaution or as a potential third quarterback in the class is murky. I've made my position clear: no offense to Forcier, but Newsome is a linebacker-sized honor roll student, class president, and state hurdles champion who's had little if any quality coaching thus far and is transferring to a prep school, then enrolling early. He has massive upside and is working feverishly to make that upside come to fruition. He's okay with Shavodrick Beaver coming in with him, which will give Michigan at least four viable options next fall.
If I'm choosing between Newsome and Forcier with the slight possibility Newsome doesn't decommit, give me Newsome. Michigan shouldn't risk his commitment.
Oh, and: FL QB Eugene Smith had us in his top five recently, though he's backed off of the idea of a top five altogether now. Whee!
As for MN WR Bryce McNeal, The Top Gun camp giveth security and the Top Gun camp taketh it away:
McNeal says he's still "100 percent committed" to the Wolverines, but he plans to keep a close eye on how first-year coach Rich Rodriguez runs his version of the spread offense. McNeal also said he plans to take his official visits just to be sure.
"I can't wait (to see Michigan's offense)," McNeal said. "It's going to be a big deal for me. I'm 100 percent on my commitment and everything, but I'm still going to take my officials to make sure I'm certain. If they come out and just pound that ball, I'm going to have to think about some things."
Florida, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Louisville are hypothetically on the docket. McNeal also showed well at the Top Gun camp, landing in Crabtree's top 11 players at the camp:
McNeal spent most of the camp on the sideline with a tweaked hamstring, but when he was out there Saturday and Sunday, he showed more than enough to explain why he's ranked among the nation's elite receivers. A tall and athletic prospect, McNeal - a Michigan commitment - had some of the softest hands in the camp. He also ran crisp routes. He was having a heck of a camp before the injury, and Michigan fans should be excited about his progress.
Sounds like his ranking is secure.
Kickers are about to or have actually gotten offers, depending on who you listen to. The Old Coach put out a story indicating TX K Anthony Fera had picked up a Michigan offer; there's also this kid in Florida named Brendan Gibbons. Sounds like Michigan is going to offer both and take the first one to commit, which should yield a kicker by mid-August.
Michigan is set this year with Kicking Competency Lopata returning for a final year, but after his departure they'll have only an assortment of walkons and recruited kicker Bryan Wright. Michigan's willingness to offer a scholarship kicker when he's got two years of eligibility left should tell you all you need to know about their opinion of his performance to date. Assuming Michigan picks up either Fera or Gibbons and the new guy ends up starting, Wright's unlikely to get a fifth year.
Defensive ends. With Lousiana defensive linemen DeQuinta Jones hitting the LSU camp at 305 and seemingly establishing himself a defensive tackle, Michigan needs them, and how.
It looks like you can scratch off NV DE Keenan Graham, who the LA Times reports will take an official to UCLA and that "Virginia Tech could end up being one of the only other schools that Graham visits" before he commits. SC DE Sam Montgomery is "expected to stay in state" according to ESPN, but Michigan will get an official.
More happily, SC DE Chris Bonds will set an official visit to Michigan; his other trips will be to Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, and Tennessee. He's a big fish.
AR CB Darius Winston decommitted from Arkansas a few weeks ago and named Michigan his leader. Unfortunately, he's backed off that assertion:
"I have been just quiet about everything," Winston said. "I just don't really have a top school right now. I'm just open and focusing on my season."
Despite his decommit from the Razorbacks, Winston attended the most recent Arkansas camp; he also plans stops at Ole Miss and LSU. Michigan should still get an official.
I'm not too excited about anyone from Glenville listing Michigan, but this on OH OL Marcus Hall might be worth mentioning:
For some time, Ohio State, Illinois and USC were atop Hall's list. That has changed. "Illinois, Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan, those four are all pretty even at top right now."
Ohio State was the prohibitive favorite, but with 24 commitments and a few guys in a holding pattern the Buckeyes may run out of slots; Hall may also look at the depth chart and decide to go somewhere he won't be stuck behind a couple five stars.
Update 7/21: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, MD RB Tavon Austin, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, TX S Rex Burkhead, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, various pieces on SC DE Chris Bonds. And more fun Newsome stuff, plus rumor-mongering of a bogus variety.
Re-added SC RB David Sims.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting Board lives here.
Everybody thought IN OL Zach Martin was going to visit Michigan, then decide, but instead he committed to Notre Dame. This has been an unfortunately common occurrence over the last few years. Geniunely Sarcastic has the details; suffice it to say the scoreboard since 2006 is ND 9, Michigan 1. This overstates things since it doesn't include the likes of Dann O'Neill or Ricky Barnum, who are widely regarded to be players at least equal to the ten players fought over here, but it's a concern.
GS goes for the soothing balm of Dan Mozes, the two-star West Virginia center who became a four-year starter, All-American, and Rimington winner. I'm more circumspect. All-Americans and Rimington Award winners are picked by the media, who know f-all about offensive linemen, and when you've got a four year starter on a team that runs for 300 yards a game he's going to get fawned over whether he deserves it or not. See: Matt Lentz, All Big Ten 2005. Mozes went undrafted by the NFL and was cut in training camp by the Vikings. In all probability he was massively overhyped.
What does suit as balm: Weis' remarkable ability to turn a line not far off Michigan's last year in terms of recruiting hype and returning experience into the worst unit in the country and possibly the worst unit of the decade.
Other stuff: NJ DE Anthony LaLota is listing a number of schools that are all excellent academically, including Michigan. However, he's visited five of his leaders and has a trip planned to a sixth (Penn State) this weekend. Michigan not so much:
"I haven't had a chance to visit Michigan yet and I don't know too much about the new coaches," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. I think they'll do great and I really expect them to have a great season."
If he visits, then we might have a shot; for now we're just hanging on.
MS S Dennis Thames, nephew of Detroit Tiger Marcus Thames, had a lot of positive things to say about Michigan after his visit...
"It was like a dream come true," Thames said of his time at Michigan. "Everything I'm looking for in a college, Michigan had it. Education-wise, everything up there is professional. They know what they're doing. If football doesn't work, they make sure you get your education."
Based on what Thames witnessed in the weight room, he believes the Wolverines know what they're doing when it comes to training, as well.
"Mike Barwis -- that's an awesome dude," he said about Michigan's new strength and conditioning coordinator. "I'd say about 25 pro football players were there. He was helping them work out. It was awesome. He took me through some drills showing me how they do it up there."
... but he's backed off the assertion he made whilst in the Tigers locker room that Michigan leads:
As for his college choice, Thames said, "I will say Michigan is in my top three with Mississippi State and Auburn."
Mississippi State, bizarrely as ever, remains the biggest threat.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has five finalists and plans on " committing" August 30th; Michigan is regarded the favorite. Cause of scare quotes:
ESPN 150 Watch Lister Brandin Hawthorne will choose between South Florida, West Virginia, Michigan, Tennessee and Louisville during an Aug. 30th game against Olive Branch (Miss.) to be televised on ESPN, affiliate Web site InsideTheU.com reports.
Hawthorne will then take official visits to all those schools except South Florida and will travel to Iowa State instead.
Last season, the 6-foot-1, 181-pounder racked up more than 80 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
And by "commit" we mean "announces early leader." And by "five finalists" we mean "six finalists."
GA LB Devekeyan (or "Dede") Lattimore says Michigan is a slight leader:
"I love the tradition at Michigan and they have some good new coaches that are really going to be changing things up," he said. "I like coach Rich Rodriguez and it really impressed me that he was one of the few head coaches (and UCF) that offered me himself. That meant a lot."
Lattimore is a three star with one other big offer, that from Clemson.
And, finally, what would a recruiting post be without more discussion of VA QB Kevin Newsome's status? It would be shorter. Anyway, Josh Helmholdt put up an innocuous story on the Free Press site headlined something like "Michigan's quarterback issues are temporary" that one of the OMG HITS editors at the Free Press changed to "If Kevin Newsome bolts, Michigan has a contingency plan." This set off a completely predictable mini-sitewar between Scout and Rivals with Scout touting Sam Webb's recent conversation(?) with the Newsomes and claiming 1) Newsome was totally solid and 2) if Newsome did end up decommiting it was Helmholdt's fault for writing that article. Helmholdt, for his part, has been writing articles that can be retitled "If Kevin Newsome bolts..." and include references to Jason Forcier and Eugene Smith. Read between the lines.
My contribution: a man named "Crotch Bat." A reader sends along this thread from Something Awful's "Sports Argument Stadium" in which a VT fan/insider(?) says thusly:
What I'm hearing is that Kevin Newsome is all but gone from Michigan and that scenario will play out sooner rather than later. Look for VT and PSU to be in the thick of it for him.
Again, don't shoot the messenger but like I said, none of this stuff is going away and I hear new stuff more and more.
Reasons to give this more credence than you would to your average random internet rumor? Well, there is the claim of deep insider info and the generalized respect shown this guy, who's been posting at SA since 2003. The emailer comments:
I tend to believe him because in the few years I've been reading that forum, he has always been there and is consistently a knowledgeable, intelligent poster.
A reason to disregard: even if he's got the info he claims it's coming from the VT side of things and may be biased or just incorrect. Also: "Crotch Bat." Also also: there was another Rivals even this weekend that was attended by both Bryce McNeal and Newsome; McNeal, at least, didn't detect any floppiness. As always, I throw up my hands and say "hell if I know."
Etc.: TX S Rex Burkhead doesn't mention Michigan here; longshot.
Update 7/14: Linked to articles on MS S Dennis Thames (we lead), FL S Mike Jones (we probably lead), OK CB David Gordon (fighting for third), VA OL Morgan Moses, VA DE Will Hill, IN OL Zach Martin, IN OL Kyle Koehne, (latter two from Big House Blog). Linked to recruiting podcast from Sam Webb on VA QB Kevin Newsome.
Added NC OL Travis Bond.
Removed FL CB Brandon McGee (dropped us), TN WR Marlon Brown (dropped us, but what an article title), OK CB David Gordon.
Editorial Opinion: Board lives here.
VA QB commit Kevin Newsome did not visit Virginia Tech this weekend; Michigan fans can officially lower their personal decommitment DEFCONs as they feel is appropriate. Mine is at 4: slightly bothered. I missed this before Friday's post on the Newsome situation, but GBW's Sam Webb took the rumors to task on WTKA. Here's a paraphrase of part of it:
You have a family that feels beat down by the process and the media in the process. Every year, you have many recruits that don't make it a common practice to take calls from the media or the recruiting services on a continuous basis. The Newsomes are one of them.
They choose not to speak up on a subject that in their minds is already resolved. He said he is going to Michigan. Haven't said he is not going to Michigan. Why do we have to respond every time something comes up? That's been their take.
I don't quite buy it -- the best way to silence speculation about a potential decommit is to say "he is going to Michigan," not "no comment:" -- but Webb, who is very good at getting in with recruits and their families, was ahead of the Virginia papers that are fueling the speculation. Later in the segment he declared that Kevin Newsome would not be going to the VT camp, period. This turned out to be correct.
Newsome is still a bit wobbly, but if he hasn't decommited by the time he ends up at Hargrave chances are he won't do so at all.
Meanwhile, IN OL Zach Martin's scheduled visit to Michigan did not come off. Instead, Martin went to... uh... Notre Dame. That's obviously not ideal, but Martin has rescheduled the Michigan visit for two weeks hence and will decide in the immediate aftermath of it. Optimism still reigns; it's a little dimmed.
Meanwhiel, another IN OL, Kyle Kohene , is considering four schools and will probably decide in the next month and a half:
The 6-6, 285-pound Koehne has narrowed his choices to Boston College, Florida, Michigan and Michigan State.
"It's been a little more intense than I thought it would be," said Koehne, rated as a three-star recruit by rivals.com. "I've enjoyed it, but I'd like to have it done before the season."
Safeties and such. MS S Dennis Thames' visit to Michigan went pretty well:
"They sounded like nice coaches, good coaches to be around," Dennis said while seated in front of his uncle's locker, dressed in Tigers baseball pants and hat before batting practice. "Michigan would be my No. 1 right now. They've come at me the most and recruited me."
Good news -- Thames is a four-star and Rival's #218 prospect at the moment -- but let's see what happens after he's been back home for a bit. Michigan leading after the visit was necessary but not sufficient; "Michigan would be my #1" is also not the strongest statement. Optimism here is tentative.
Allen Wallace has an article up on Edgewater (former home of Greg Mathews) FL S Mike Jones :
Jones recently visited both Michigan and Notre Dame and admits he's always been a fan of the Wolverines. "I love Michigan," he said. "They have like 110,000 fans come to their games. It's a big tradition school and I like that.
"I also like coach Rich Rodriguez and like the new faster-pace offense he's gonna run," Jones said. "I think it'll be good for them."
Jones is being recruited by Wolverines quarterbacks coach Rod Smith . "He's always writing me letters and really wants me to go to Michigan," he said. "He says that I'd be a perfect fit for them and that they need guys like me."
There's a similar amount of praise for Notre Dame, previously announced as co-leader with Michigan. Notre Dame hasn't offered, though. His other major offers are from Auburn and USF.
Etc.: VA OL Morgan Moses is a long way from narrowing things down but Michigan appears to be on the periphery. We were dropped by TN WR Marlon Brown, which is no surprise; I just want to point out Allen Wallace's awesome article title: "THE ULTIMATE DECISION FACTOR." Marlon Brown's recruitment is like a Japanese game show; I hope he ends it by declaring he will attend the school whose head coach endures a series of physical challenges the best. The finale: honey is smeared on each participant's chest. A box is placed on the honey, and rat is placed in the box. Rocks are attached to their bodies via rubber bands. Then little Dutch children are hired to grab the rocks and run away from the participants until the rock flies out of their hands and physics takes over. (Yes, I have actually seen this transpire, and it was every bit as wonderful as you imagine.)