It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
And now, some specifics:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Offensive Line.
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill
Today's recruiting roundup covers the MSU visitor list, a potential 2014 commit, Michigan's gentle giant of a commit, and more.
Denzel Ward: Michigan's next commit?
Last weekend, Michigan offered 6'9" IL OT Denzel Ward, who visited for the Illinois game and came away gushing about the visit and talking about receiving his "dream offer" from the Wolverines. Ward spent the game with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who gave him his best recruiting pitch, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"Me and a 2014 tackle, Denzel Ward, we both were there," Tuley-Tillman explained. "We hung out like the whole day, and we'll come back next weekend together. We had a lot of fun, and everybody already thinks we're brothers. We're going to start going along with it, too. We had fun, we both had a good time.
"I was just showing him what it was, and how it really is a family atmosphere up there, and how he would already have someone that would be there for him to help him with anything."
The pitch appears to be working—Ward will be back on campus this weekend after spending the week tweeting all of the positive things about Michigan. He might have something up his sleeve, too:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman™ (@LoganTillman) October 17, 2012
An early commitment is a definite possibility here.
Ward won't be alone as a big-time visitor for the State game; Tremendous has the whole list, and it is lengthy. Michigan's two biggest 2013 targets, VA RB Derrick Green and IL WR Laquon Treadwell, will both be present, as will a pair of backup options at wide receiver in MI WR DaMario Jones and OH WR Elijah Bell—neither hold offers but could pick one up as we near signing day if Treadwell doesn't commit. Don't expect Green or Treadwell to make a decision this weekend, but a good visit could go a long way towards locking up a commitment in both cases, especially when it comes to Green.
Visiting 2014 prospects with Michigan offers are MI WR/DB Damon Webb, FL OL Mason Cole, PA S Montae Nicholson, PA TE Brenon Thrift, and OH ATH Marshon Lattimore. The first 2015 offer, KY RB Damien Harris—who projects to be one of the top handful of prospects in that class—will also be on campus; he camped at Michigan over the summer.
There's also a major basketball recruit slated to visit in improbably-named 2015 five-star WI C Diamond Stone. He already holds offers from UCLA and Wisconsin, among others, and is likely to pick one up on his visit [EDIT: As multiple commenters reminded me of, Beilein doesn't offer prospects until the summer after their sophomore year, so Stone won't be picking one up on this trip]. Fellow 2015 five-star IL PG Hyron Edwards might make the trip up for the game, as well.
This is obviously Michigan's biggest recruiting weekend of the season, and we could see several offers go out to 2014 prospects; we'll see if a commitment is in the cards.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the Dawson replacement situation and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Dawson decommitment and potential replacements, the updated 2013 Top247, the return of Shane Morris, a potential early 2014 commit, and more.
Point Of No Return
Ethan Pocic: Potential Dawson replacement?
Despite an summer flirtation with Florida, David Dawson seemingly decommitted out of the blue yesterday. He was quick to name a new leader in the Gators, however, and InsideTheGators.com suggests that this may have actually been a long time coming ($) [emphasis mine]:
Word of the two-sides parting ways first started gaining momentum back in the summer, when during The Opening Dawson openly spoke of decommitting from Michigan, telling several of his fellow Wolverines commitments of his plan.
However, after speaking with the UM coaching staff, Dawson decided to stand pat.
Then a month ago, a person close to the situation told Inside the Gators that Dawson was on the verge of making a change, and it would happen in a matter of days, before then saying that it would happen during the week leading up to the Florida-LSU game.
Chatter on Florida message boards suggests that Dawson reached out to Florida multiple times attempting to set up a visit, including before the LSU game, and it may in fact have been a Gator coach who clued in the Michigan staff to what was going on. It that's indeed the case, this quote from Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher should not come as a surprise at all ($):
“They are done,” said Wilcher regarding whether the Wolverines will continue courting his star lineman. “That ship has sailed… sunk.. whatever you want to call it.”
Regardless of how things went down, I'd encourage everyone to wish Dawson well and move on. Sour grapes are not a good look when we're talking about the decisions of high school kids.
Michigan is certainly moving on, as The M Block reports that the Wolverines have already reached out to LSU commit Ethan Pocic, who was very high on Michigan before the available spots on the line filled up. Pocic maintains that he's firmly committed to the Tigers and will take his only official visit there; that's to be expected at this juncture, of course, so we'll see how things develop. While Dawson was slated to play guard and Pocic is a pure tackle prospect, Michigan could easily shift Chris Fox down to guard and maintain a full five-man line class with every position covered—Logan Tuley-Tillman and Pocic at tackle, Fox and Kyle Bosch at guard, and Patrick Kugler at center.
Tremendous throws in their two cents about potential replacements for Dawson, including Pocic, Notre Dame commit Colin McGovern, MSU commit Dennis Finley (yet to be offered, but one could come), and UCLA commit Scott Quessenberry, a high school teammate of freshman Erik Magnuson. They also dispel the notion that Dawson's departure could affect the recruitment of VA RB Derrick Green; the pair had struck up a friendship over the summer, but Green told Tremendous that the decommitment will "not at all" affect his status with the Wolverines.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of today's recruiting nuggets.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Laquon Treadwell's new top five, the Gareon Conley non-situation, last weekend's high school football action, and more.
Noted Amateur Chef Names Top Five
As you'll learn from the above video, IL WR Laquon Treadwell apparently has some talent in the kitchen in addition to the football field. You'll also find out that he has a new top five, in no particular order, of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Michigan State, and Michigan. It appears this was "Interview Laquon Treadwell Week" as you learn from various sources that:
- Treadwell's list is a final one... for now, via Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($).
- He's "basically ready to get this over with" after he takes his officials, while the two Oklahoma schools and Ole Miss have been in the most contact, via 247's Steve Wiltfong ($).
- He's probably going to announce his decision at the Under Armour All-American game, though possibly earlier, according to ESPN's Chantel Jennings ($).
Treadwell has official visits in the works for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Ole Miss, and plans to take unofficials to Ann Arbor (for the MSU game) and East Lansing before making a decision.
As for the direction this one is headed, I don't know, man. I still feel like Michigan has a better shot than any other school on the list; the problem is there are four other schools on the list, and the only choice that would truly shock me is Michigan State. We'll see what he's saying after his visit for the State game; if Michigan hasn't distinguished themselves from the field at that point, it's cause for serious concern.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Gareon Conley, commitment stat updates, and more.]
It was a marathon opening weekend of high school football; Shane Morris and Warren De La Salle overcame early struggles to soundly defeat Pioneer on Friday night, then Saturday featured four marquee matchups in the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State headlined by a heavyweight tilt between Division I state champs Cass Tech and Division II state champs Brother Rice.
A note before I move along to the scouting portion: Yes, there was a shooting scare on Saturday night. It's remarkably unfortunate that a fight between a couple of idiots—
in which someone threatened to pull a gun and caused a panic, though the police say no gun was present—has marred what was otherwise a stellar event. Kurt Kosmowski, Marty Dobek, and the whole Detroit Sports Commission crew put a ton of effort into pulling together 12 high school teams over two days, giving these young athletes a chance to play at a college stadium in front of nearly 10,000 people. The DSC has announced that they'll once again hold the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State next year; while I hope they beef up security a bit, I'm also confident that they'll once again put together a first-rate football showcase.
[UPDATE: I got clarification of what actually went on from Tim. There was an argument that caused the first rush of people running to avoid the confrontation, and officials stopped the game since people ran onto the field. The fight continued in another area of the concourse soon after, and this unfortunately coincided with fireworks at nearby Comerica Park, which people mistook for gunshots. There was no gun present. Apologies if there was any misunderstanding about the situation.]
With that out of the way, let's get to the recap of all the action after THE JUMP.
Future Blue Originals return this fall—holy crap, return in less than two weeks—as I'll once again be driving around the Midwest to scout Michigan's commits and targets. I'll be enlisting the help of Heiko and Eric to improve the quality of the video and photos, which should also allow for more detailed scouting reports, and I'm hoping to cover even more games than last year.
Below you'll find the schedules for Michigan's in-state commits as well as one high-profile 2014 target. Unlike last year, when the Wolverines had a couple of Toledo-area commits, I'll probably focus entirely on these prospects unless something changes; luckily, there are plenty of intriguing games to check out. If you have any corrections—or, even better, plan on scouting one of these games yourself—please let me know in the comments or shoot me an email.
Cass Technical School
|Detroit Cass Tech 2012|
|8-25||7:30 PM||Birm. Brother Rice (@Wayne State)|
|8-31||4 PM||Detroit Northwestern|
|9-7||7 PM||Detroit Renaissance|
|9-14||4 PM||@ Detroit Cody|
|9-21||7 PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|9-28||4 PM||Detroit Ford|
|10-5||4 PM||@ Detroit Mumford|
David Dawson (2013 commit)
HS Position: Offensive tackle
Projects as: Offensive guard
Jourdan Lewis (2013 commit)
HS Position: Wide Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
Damon Webb (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Wide Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
Deon Drake (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Running Back/Outside Linebacker
Projects as: Outside Linebacker
Gary Hosey (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Running Back/Middle Linebacker
Projects as: Running Back
Last season Cass Tech, led by Michigan commits Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson, rebounded from an ugly opening-week loss to Farmington Hills Harrison to capture the Division 1 state title over Detroit Catholic Central. Michigan's favorite pipeline school has the ability to repeat that success this season, boasting another pair of Wolverine commits—OL David Dawson and WR/CB Jourdan Lewis—and several other BCS-level prospects.
One of the up-and-coming prospects to already hit Michigan's radar is junior corner Damon Webb, who had a breakout summer on the camp circuit and appears to be the next in line in Cass Tech's four-star cornerback parade. Classmate Deon Drake has already attracted attention from several Big Ten schools at linebacker, and Michigan is recruiting fellow RB/LB Gary Hosey as a big running back. Sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell already has offers from Alabama and Notre Dame and will look to add Michigan to the mix this fall.
I'll probably attend at least two Cass Tech games this fall, and I'll definitely be at their opener against last year's Division 2 champ, Birmingham Brother Rice. Given Cass Tech's near-guaranteed presence in the state playoffs, I might save my second or third trip for then, though the MHSAA is notoriously stingy about filming at those games.
Detroit Catholic Central
|Detroit Catholic Central 2012|
|8-24||7 PM||Detroit Cody|
|8-31||7 PM||@ Toledo Whitmer|
|9-8||2 PM||Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller|
|9-23||1 PM||De La Salle|
|9-29||1 PM||@ U-D Jesuit|
|10-6||7 PM||Brother Rice (@Berkley, MI)|
|10-12||7PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
Wyatt Shallman (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Running Back/Defensive End
Projects as: Running Back
The Shamrocks fell just short of the state title last season, and this year they'll have to replace the production and leadership of incoming Michigan freshman Matt Godin, who starred on both lines. They'll navigate one of the tougher schedules in the state, both in non-conference—Whitmer and Moeller are two powerhouse Ohio programs—and conference play.
Wyatt Shallman will be the main focus from my end, of course. Shallman performed admirably as a junior while struggling with a hamstring injury, so I'm very curious to see how much that affected him—especially running the football—now that he's healthy. Michigan is bringing him in as a running back, but I'll also get to see him at defensive end; he could wind up there in college if running back doesn't work out.
DCC's schedule provides some difficulties because several of their games—including marquee matchups against Moeller and Brother Rice—fall on Saturdays. A Sunday tilt against Shane Morris and De La Salle, however, beckons.
De La Salle Collegiate
|De La Salle 2012|
|8-24||7 PM||@ Ann Arbor Pioneer|
|9-1||3 PM||@ Cleveland St. Ignatius|
|9-8||7 PM||Dearborn Fordson (@Lake Shore)|
|9-15||7 PM||Brother Rice (@South Lake)|
|9-23||1 PM||@ Catholic Central|
|9-29||1 PM||Niagara (WI)|
|10-6||7 PM||Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-12||7 PM||@ U-D Jesuit|
Shane Morris (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Quarterback
Projects as: Quarterback
Morris led De La Salle to a 9-3 record last season, with their final loss coming against Cass Tech in the state playoffs. Last year Morris was something of a one-man show for the Pilots; he'll get some help this year with the addition of wide receiver Jack Wangler—son of John—who's one of his favorite targets on the 7-on-7 circuit.
After attending just about every camp imaginable this summer, not to mention being heavily scouted for over a year, Morris is a relatively known commodity; as a result, he probably won't be my top priority when I'm picking games to scout. That said, his opening game is just down the road at Pioneer, a game I'll almost certainly check out. I'm also planning to see the Catholic Central game, giving me a couple chances to check up on Morris before the playoffs.
East English Village Prep
|East English Village Prep 2012|
|8-25||11 AM||Oak Park (@Wayne State)|
|8-31||7 PM||@ Detroit Martin Luther King|
|9-7||4 PM||Detroit Douglass|
|9-14||4 PM||@ Detroit Denby|
|9-21||4 PM||@ Detroit Southeastern|
|9-28||7 PM||Detroit Central|
|10-5||4 PM||Detroit Pershing|
Khalid Hill (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Tight End
Projects to: Tight End
Detroit Crockett and Detroit Finney have closed their doors and combined to form East English Village Prep—also known as "The Ville"—which plays its first season in the PSL this year. They'll feature Khalid Hill at tight end; given that Hill hasn't hit many camps and is one of the few commits not regarded as a solid four-star, I'll be curious to check him out in game action.
The Ville will play their first ever game at the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State, an event I'll be covering closely. They play a number of games on Friday afternoons, as well, so I'll probably head to one other game for a doubleheader. If you have a preference of oppoenents between Douglass, Central, and Pershing, let me know in the comments.
Chandler Park Academy
Harper Woods, MI
|Chander Park Academy 2012|
|8-24||7 PM||@ New Philadelphia (OH)|
|8-31||7 PM||@ Summit Academy|
|9-14||7 PM||Old Redford Academy|
|9-21||7 PM||Bradford Academy|
|9-28||7 PM||Detroit University Prep|
|10-5||7 PM||Detroit PEC Prep|
|10-13||7 PM||@ Michigan Collegiate|
Csont'e York (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Wide Receiver
Projects to: Wide Receiver
Csont'e York is one of the biggest mysteries of this 2013 class, in no small part because he plays in one of Michigan's smaller divisions at Chandler Park Academy. The Eagles finished 9-3 last year, losing to Detroit Crockett in the opening round of the state playoffs.
York is a player I'd like to see twice given the lack of available information about him; he'll likely be the second half of a doubleheader after I go to see Hill. It looks like September 14th will be the day to do that. A return for the October 5th tilt against PEC Prep may also be in the cards.
|Chander Park Academy 2012|
|8-25||5 PM||Old Redford Academy|
|8-31||6 PM||Cranbrook Kingswood|
|9-8||1 PM||@ Allen Park Cabrini|
|9-14||6 PM||Riverview Richard|
|9-21||TBA||Dearborn Divine Child|
|9-28||7 PM||@ Bishop Foley (WI)|
|10-5||6 PM||Our Lady of the Lakes (@U-D Jesuit)|
|10-19||4 PM||@ DEPSA Early College|
Malik McDowell (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects to: Defensive End
McDowell may very well be the state's top 2014 prospect and Michigan is right in the thick of his recruitment. Loyola suffered just one loss last season, falling to Hudson in the second round of the state playoffs, though like Chandler Park they have the advantage of playing against somewhat less than top-flight competition.
I'll certainly aim to see McDowell at least once this fall; depending on the time of the Dearborn Divine Child game, that's likely the one I'll end up scouting.
Make sure to check back Friday when I post the out of state schedules, and once again please email me if you plan on attending any games and submitting photos/video/scouting reports for the blog.