The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
You certainly know the man on the left, but do you know who's making the play on the right?
A couple weeks ago, I took a look at the most dangerous position groups Michigan will face on the 2014 schedule. Today, it's time to take a look at the best players, and this time around I took a team-by-team approach. In order of their appearance on the schedule, here are the dangermen who will be the focus of Michigan's game-planning in each of their regular-season contests.
Appalachian State: QB Armanti Edwards.
He graduated four years ago, you say? On an NFL roster, even? Well... I don't care. It's still Armanti Edwards.
Notre Dame: OLB Jaylon Smith
Smith is one of those five-star recruits who immediately live up to the billing. He started all 13 games as a true freshman last season, finishing third on the team in tackles (67) and second in TFLs (6.5) while generally looking like the Irish's best linebacker despite being surrounded by players with a lot of experience. He'll have to be the linchpin of Notre Dame's defense this year as the team tries to replace starting inside linebackers Dan Fox and Carlo Calebrese, who weren't all that impressive to begin with, as well as defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. With a standard sophomore leap, Smith could be good enough that his development alone overcomes the considerable losses in Notre Dame's linebacker corps.
Miami (NTM): WR/RB Dawan Scott
There's admittedly a dearth of choices from a team that went 0-12 in 2013, but Scott was a bright spot on an otherwise dismal Miami offense. His 15 yard average on 28 receptions led the team by over three yards. Until this season, he was actually listed at running back, and his 231 yards on 37 carries last season was good for second on the team. He's also a dangerous return man when given the opportunity, though the RedHawks reduced his special teams contributions last year as his role in the offense expanded. Miami does everything they can to get the ball in his hands, and given what's around him, that's as good a plan as any.
"It's Dres Day!" (!!!)
Utah: WR Dres Anderson
Utah's quarterbacks struggled last year, but that didn't matter much when they threw it to Dres Anderson, who led all Pac-12 receivers with an astonishing 18.9 yards per catch in 2013. It certainly helps that he can take a zero-yard pass and turn it into a 54-yard touchdown. The California native brings some explosive West Coast shit, and woe be upon the opponent that forgets about him.
Minnesota: CB Eric Murray
I guess I must acknowledge that Seth made one of the better picks of Draftageddon when he grabbed Eric Murray in the 18th round. While stats for defensive backs are often misleading, this chart speaks volumes about Murray's ability to play on an island with the best of them:
Minnesota runs a ton of man coverage, and they can largely get away with it because Murray makes life far easier on the rest of the secondary. At 6'2", 200 pounds, he's got the size to match up with just about any receiver and hold up well against the run, too.
Rutgers: DT Darius Hamilton
Hamilton is the type of five-star who needed a little time to marinate before starting to reach his prodigious potential; after a very quiet freshman year in 2012, he broke through as a sophomore, leading the Scarlet Knights with 11.5 TFLs and chipping in 4.5 sacks from the interior. He's got an NFL future, and he pairs with sophomore linebacker Steve Longa to give Rutgers at least a little star power on their defense. There may be a lack of high quality players on the roster, but Hamilton would be a big-time contributor on any of the teams on this list.
Penn State: QB Christian Hackenberg
While there may be more proven, experienced stars on the Nittany Lions—OT Donovan Smith and LB Mike Hull come to mind—there's little question the 2013 Big Ten Freshman of the Year has the most talent of anybody on the Penn State roster. Hackenberg has all the tools to be a first-round NFL quarterback: size, arm strength, accuracy, and pocket presence that belies his youth. The big question for this fall is how he'll deal with the loss of the outstanding Allen Robinson, who accounted for a massive 1432 of Hackenberg's 2955 passing yards last year. There may be a Henne-like step back for the sophomore signal-caller, at least numbers-wise, but with a great group of tight ends and that level of talent, he should be plenty impressive again this year.
Michigan State: S Kurtis Drummond
I'll let BiSB handle this one, since he would've inevitably chimed in anyway in the comments:
Along with Kurtis Drummond's 4 picks and 6 PBUs, he made 91 tackles from the free safety spot. That typically signals DOOM for a defense, so to put up those kinds of numbers in such a dominant defense is really impressive.
He doesn't just get to play center field, either; MSU's Cover 4 requires him to defend receivers in essentially single coverage all over the field, and he looks like a corner when he does so. He has great ball skills and can flip his hips and run with anyone in the league. That's him running stride-for-stride with Devin Smith.
Drummond is generally regarded as the top free safety prospect for the 2015 draft, which almost certainly will get him into the first round, perhaps even the top half. His play merits the hype.
Indiana: RB Tevin Coleman
I'm clearly getting lazy, because for the second time in a row, I'll let a big ol' blockquote do the explaining, this one from SBNation's Bill Connelly:
But the primary reason I can't worry too much about Indiana's offense is Tevin Coleman. Highlight Yards basically look at a runner's explosiveness once he reaches the second level of a defense. Combining that with Opportunity Rate (the frequency with which you reach said second level), we get a pretty good idea for what kind of back you are. Coleman's 35.9 percent Opportunity Rate was nothing special, but no one in the country was more explosive.
Of the 199 FBS players with at least 100 carries in 2013, only seven averaged 8.0 highlight yards per opportunity or greater. Boston College's Andre Williams and Missouri's Henry Josey averaged 8.0, Maryland's C.J. Brown and Ohio State's Braxton Miller averaged 8.4, West Virginia's Dreamius Smith and UL-Lafayette's Elijah McGuire averaged 8.6 ... and Tevin Coleman averaged 12.0. His average was 40 percent better than the second best. He had 14 carries of at least 20 yards (only 12 players had more), and he had eight of at least 40 (most in the country). He is unlit dynamite every play he's on the field.
Short version: daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Indiana may miss Tre Roberson's running threat as a change-of-pace quarterback, but their running game is still in good shape with Coleman toting the rock.
Northwestern: RB Venric Mark
Yes, we (justifiably) made fun of Seth for making Mark the first running back off the board in Draftageddon, but when healthy he's one of the most versatile and explosive players in the conference. When he played 13 games in 2012, Mark rushed for 1366 yards on 6.0 YPC, chipped in 20 receptions out of the backfield, and took two punt returns to the house. He only managed 31 carries last year before a broken ankle cut his season short; if he's back to full strength, though, he'll be right behind Melvin Gordon and Ameer Abdullah (and right with Coleman) in the conversation about who's the best back in the Big Ten.
Maryland: WR Stefon Diggs
Another star coming off a season-ending injury, Diggs was on the way to putting up some eye-popping numbers in 2013 before a broken leg ended his campaign after seven games. In that span, he caught 34 passes for 587 yards (17.2 YPC) while averaging nearly 6.5 yards on a handful of end-arounds and 23.4 yards on 12 kickoff returns. He's every bit the explosive playmaker he was billed to be as a highly touted recruit, and the solid depth and talent among Maryland's receivers makes it difficult for defenses to focus too much attention on him.
Ohio State: QB Braxton Miller
Well, yeah, it's hard to argue with the two-time reigning Big Ten MVP, even with all the stars along OSU's defensive line. Miller boasted a 24:7 TD-to-INT ratio, improved his completion percentage and passing yardage for the third straight season, and rushed for 1201 yards on 8.0 YPC when sacks are removed—and he even made strides in taking fewer sacks, too. While the loss of Carlos Hyde will hamper the Buckeye running game, they've got several talented replacements at running back, and the constant threat of Miller making something remarkable happen should keep Urban Meyer's offense quite dangerous indeed.
LAST TIME ON DRAFTAGEDDON: I saw a pale horse ridden by a guy who thinks Shilique Calhoun is a first round NFL draft pick.
ROUND 3 - PICK 1: Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
O: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Stefon Diggs (MD)
D: DT Carl Davis(IA)
BRIAN: Stefon Diggs is recovering from a broken leg that snuffed out his year 7 games in, but we've already got plenty of evidence that Diggs is the most explosive WR in the Big Ten. A five-star recruit with offers from everyone, Diggs put up 848 yards as a freshman and was on pace for 1090 before the injury last year. He made the All-ACC team as a freshman and is being projected as a first rounder a few places despite the leg and the uncertainty about whether he'll come out.
I'm not particularly worried about that injury. Diggs returned to drills and 7-on-7 in early April, and broken bones are not the kind of thing you might worry about long term. He says he's faster than he was before despite being only 90%, and even if that's not true... I'll live with it.
The main issue with Diggs is that his production is dependent on his quarterback and his quarterback plays at Maryland and therefore will die six ways and be replaced by a linebacker midseason. Probable starter Caleb Rowe had 131 attempts last year and completed fewer than half of them. But in terms of my team, he's a perfect fit. Miller's good over the top and commands so much attention that WR screens feature one on one matchups. He's a guy who would be able to get a ton of free yards paired with Miller. Dana Holgorsen called him a "Tavon Austin clone"... except like four inches taller. As a bonus, he had two KR TDs as a freshman.
ROUND 3 - PICK 2: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
O: WR Devin Funchess (U-M), LT Brandon Scherff (Iowa)
D: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU)
ACE: I could drag out all the stats on how Funchess blew up once Michigan realized he's a wide receiver, period. I could tell you how awesome it is to have a 6'5", 230-pound living matchup nightmare on the outside. I could discuss in exacting detail how Funchess, just a true junior, should have by far his best season in 2014. I could mention the (terrifying) possibility that he'll be a first-round NFL Draft pick at this time next year.
But you know all that. So let's just admire the freaky athletic ability for a little bit:
Is this a homer pick? I won't say no, though Funchess is the leading returning receiver in the entire conference.
Do I feel bad about it whatsoever? Noooooope.
BRIAN: That's no homer pick, man. Funchess is also getting first-round hype and with good reason. Not the reasons that the people picking Funchess in the first round have, like "is a tight end," but Funchess was the other guy before a big dip in available talent at WR.
ACE: Yeah, I mostly just wanted to set up that Archer reference. I would've taken Funchess here even if he played for Rutgers. Okay, maybe not Rutgers, but literally anyone else.
BISB: Anyone else? I'm picturing Funchess catching passes from Danny Etling, which would be a "Denard as pocket passer"-level crime against man-panda.
sorry, I heard "crimes BY man-panda" –ed
ACE: I stand by my original statement.
Also, I am now dead.
[AFTER THE JUMP: additional man-panda crimes! Seth Dumars!]
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.
Linked to articles on SC QB Cornelius Jones, SC WR Nick Jones($), DC LB Javarie Johnson, OH S Kurtis Drummond, FL RB Eduardo Clements, MI QB commit Devin Gardner, SC QB commit Cornelius Jones, LA QB Munchie Legaux, MI RB Austin White, AZ S Marquis Flowers, OH OL Skyler Schofner, GA DE Henry Anderson, FL RB Roy Finch, MI P Mike Sadler (more($)).
Removed TX LB Corey Nelson(dropped M), VA DT Evan Hailes (ditto), OH LB Jordan Hicks (basically dropped us), NC DE Gabe King (M not top 4). Didn't quite remove MI LB Daniel Easterly despite his Illinois commitment.
FL RB Eduardo Clements
A couple more guys Michigan was following on Twitter but weren't being followed by (Hailes, Hicks, King) hit the bricks, as per usual. Two situations merit a little more discussion:
- Cass Tech LB Daniel Easterly committed to Illinois. I didn't remove him from the board in case a Michigan offer would warrant further consideration by him, but he didn't show at camp. That signals a lack of interest in getting that offer, and I don't expect anything will come of it.
- TX LB Corey Nelson got dropped from the board after announcing a top five that had Michigan nowhere in it, but I re-added him after a weird article in which he claimed he would take an official to Michigan, which you can read a summary of at Burnt Orange Nation.
Third (Second?) Tailback
Various recruiting sites are asserting that TX RB Tony Drake is actually being brought in as a slot receiver, FWIW, though I think that determination will depend a lot on the composition of the roster next fall and is far from decided. So more tailbacks might be in order.
FL RB Roy Finch is a high-rated waterbug sort who Michigan has offered, but this article doesn't mention them:
Finch said Oklahoma and Stanford are “right up there” on his list favorite schools. However, he says his mind is not made up quite yet. “I really think every school is in the hunt,” Finch said. “I just really have to get down and visit some schools and find out what is best for me.”
Finch added schools won’t have to wait too much longer, though, before his decision is made. “When the recruiting process first started, I thought about prolonging it,” he said. “But now, I want to get it out of the way before the season starts.”
Blah. If Finch doesn't wait for officials he'd have to shell out for an unofficial to visit M; without that he's headed elsewhere.
MI RB Austin White has been rumored to be a Michigan lean for a while now but he's playing it cool in this article:
"I'm still not really comfortable with what I've seen," White said. "I'm going to LSU July 21 and check that out. I'll get a chance to talk to the coaches.
"I might hit a couple other schools too, but I'm not sure."
Michigan and Michigan State were hit on a camp swing, as was Illinois. There have been several reports reporting a significant, but private, Michigan lead, and I still feel confident White will be a part of the class.
And camp week's most unusual visitor was FL RB Eduardo Clements, who visited, claimed he would decide between Michigan and Georgia after he came back, and saw this written about him in the aftermath:
Apparently Booker T. Washington H.S. (Miami) standout running back Eduardo Clements got a big bug put in his ear when he got to Michigan on Tuesday. Clements reportedly has dropped FSU as his top team and has put Michigan at the head of the class. Clements cited the contrast in styles as his primary reason for this.
Okay: I don't think that's true. Clements was quoted elsewhere as being down to M and UGA, so that bit of information has to be regarded skeptically. But Clements has backed off his decision to decide, which is good since the conventional wisdom was that Georgia would lock this guy down if that came off. He's also added Miami back in. The best hope here is that Clements holds off for some fall officials.
Clements, by the way, is a Rivals 100 guy who was highly impressive at camp. He would be a ver' nice pickup.
One guy who it looks like will be on the outside looking in: MI RB Nick Hill did not get an offer after his camp trip. He did pick one up from State, which is a little odd given their offense and his size (a 5'9" Ringer is one thing, but Hill is seriously tiny). The running backs in state could fall out in the opposite fashion everyone expected, with White ticketed for M while Hill sucks it up and heads to East Lansing.
Michigan's locked down one interior lineman and remains in good shape with FL OL Torrian Wilson, who spent a full week($) in Ann Arbor recently. That wasn't all camping and whatnot, as he was visiting a local aunt, but he did take the opportunity to visit the Michigan campus a few additional times. Miami remains a threat but it's hard to see anyone else coming in for him; successfully locking him down would end Michigan's interior OL recruiting.
So that would take care of interior linemen, leaving Michigan to pick up one or two tackles. Obviously Highest Most Holy Priority of Priorities is MN OL Seantrel Henderson, but there are a couple other possibilities out there. OH OL Skyler Schofner has an offer but plans on waiting to decide:
"I'll probably make (a decision) after football season," the big lineman said. "Right now, I'm considering everyone. I can't be judging anyone right now (by games) on TV and all of that. I want to see for myself."
On the other side of the ball, Michigan does draw a mention from PA DT Sharrif Floyd in a post-camp AMP interview, but it sounds like Penn State, USC, and Florida are in better shape. Floyd does plan to take his officials and commit at the Army game, so you know the drill: get him on campus and there's a chance.
MI DT Jonathan Hankins, meanwhile, is an enormous puffy version of Hill. He camped but did not get an offer after showing his conditioning to be lacking. Michigan doesn't want to actually have Barwis kill and eat anyone, so that's an issue. Michigan might follow him into the fall after giving him instructions to get in better shape; at this point I don't think that's particularly likely. DT is going to be a hard spot to fill.
The Man Who Would Be Space Emperor
Zoltan the Inconceivable shuffles off this eligibility coil this fall, of course, leaving a yawning cavern at the punting position that no one will ever fill. But men will try… men will try.
There have been a couple other names thrown around at the position (specifically: WI P Will Hagerup and FL P Brandon Tarpley) but it's looking like MI P Mike Sadler is going to be the guy. He showed at Michigan's camp and did well:
“It went well,” he explained to GBW. “I was only there for the second day, as I had a prior commitment on the first day. But I punted well. I did have a shaky session in there, but I got right back at it, and people were impressed ... so it went well."
And this is about as blunt as recruits get:
"And," he added, "I’m hoping to be their guy.” …
“I’d be very humbled (if they offered). In terms of taking it or not, I’d have to think about it -- but they’re definitely my top choice right now. So things are looking good.”
Read: offer = commit. How likely is that offer? Well, they're going to take someone at the spot and Sadler's got some impressive offers—LSU and Alabama($), for two—so once Michigan sits down to talk about special teams offers it would be a surprise not to see Sadler issued a letter.
Ah, hell: this was obvious once Michigan took a commitment from Cornelius Jones but it hurts all the same:
ESPN reports that Edna Karr multitalented QB Munchie LeGaux (6'4-180) has Oregon atop his list at this time. Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ole Miss are all a step behind for the dual threat star. He plans on majoring in sports medicine.
Legaux will probably hit "Happy Trails" in the near future; with that and the abortive commit attempt of TX LB Holmes Onwukaife, Michigan's awesome name quotient looks to take a dive this year.
Ack Potential Future WR
So the assumption on SC QB commit Cornelius Jones is that if QB doesn't pan out we'll see him move. I was hoping safety, but that's not what he's been told:
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he would start Jones out at quarterback, and if that didn't work out, most likely move him to receiver.
“That would be okay,” said Jones, who has 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash. “I like wide receiver. But I'm looking forward to giving quarterback a try.”
Nice fake 40, BTW. Hear me now and believe me later: one of our zillion WR recruits will be in the secondary before the end of 2010-2011.
Weekly Gardner Porn-type Substance
Some fluff on the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp that happened a couple weeks ago strikes upon Gardner's performance:
The event was dotted with standout moments by numerous players, but none was more consistently dominant than Inkster's Gardner. He has staked his claim as the state's top player with outright dominance in camps and combines throughout the spring and summer. His Sound Mind/Sound Body performance was more of the same.
"We all know he's a great athlete and he showed that by doing very well at receiver in addition to quarterback," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "What has impressed me the most recently, though, is how much he has improved as a passer. His mechanics are like night and day from this time last year and his passes have much more zip. The work he has put in as a passer has paid off."
Gardner also played enough wide receiver to convince observers he was the best guy at that position there, too. Seven-on-seven video from Michigan's camp for you:
I should point out that from reports Gardner had a rough day overall in the 7-on-7. That's not wholly surprising—he still needs a lot of work with reads and routes he hasn't been getting in these camps—but also might retard what looked like a sure flight towards the top of recruiting lists.
Cracking Glenville(?) And Other Safeties
OH S Latwan Anderson also showed for Michigan's 7-on-7 camp, where he was utterly dominant according to observers. (Video if you're intrigued.) Michigan, Michigan State, and WVU have been Anderson's top three for a while, but in the aftermath of the camp that list has changed:
Highly recruited Glenville H.S. defensive back and Gridironstuds.com member Latwan Anderson has announced his Top 5 of: #1 West Virginia, #2 Michigan, #3 Georgia, #4 North Carolina and #5 Miami, FL. Anderson says this list is final “no more changes.”
That site is still not 100% reliable in my mind, but it's been pretty good over the last few months and there was a premium article confirm that so there you go. I'm not aware that Anderson has visited any of his top five aside from Michigan and WVU, and the two leaders are supposed to be close to neck-and-neck. Anderson was a WVU fan when he was younger.
(Meanwhile, SpartanMag's Matt Dorsey, who if you don't know is like Tom Beaver plus an enormous inferiority complex and minus any shred of dignity, says "Ohio State and MSU are considered the favorites." Whoops. OSU might be a factor if they offer, but State just got pwned.)
Another safety to keep an eye on is some guy from South Carolina named Detrick Bonner, who popped up for the first time in an AJC article claiming offers from about a dozen programs and… uh… this leader?
He had 11 offers as of Wednesday, favoring Michigan the most. But it’s clear he hasn’t made a decision and Clemson, where he has camped, made an impression on the 6-foot, 165-pound receiver.
“The fact that they gave me my own tour, they showed more love, I guess,” Bonner told the AJC.
ACK receiver, yes, but no: at Michigan he's a DB, obviously. This is the first I've heard of Bonner; often these weird one-off stories are followed up by others that never mention Michigan at all and a commitment to a school somewhere in the South, but if he's got a Clemson offer and still says M leads this one might actually be something to watch.
Finally, OH S Kurtis Drummond visited M and MSU and has some unsurprising leaders in the aftermath of that:
Officials are on tap.
Etc.: SC WR Nick Jones says South Carolina leads($), which okay. Not sounding good with GA DE Henry Anderson. AZ S Marquis Flowers disses USC camp because it's too expensive, so don't expect him to take an unofficial to M.