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($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's All-American games, high profile names emerging (or re-emerging) as targets, and a potentially wavering 2014 commit.
Spill The Beans, Green
Five-star linebacker Reuben Foster: visit on tap?
Michigan didn't land one of their remaining high-profile targets over the weekend when FL S Leon McQuay III committed to USC. They appear poised to get better news regarding VA RB Derrick Green, however—the nation's top running back has maintained Michigan as his leader in recent weeks and told Rivals($) after the Army All-American Game, "I know where I'm going." Green plans to announce sometime this month and it's safe to expect good news barring a sudden change of heart.
While USC snagged a Michigan target, it's possible the Wolverines return the favor after CA WR Sebastian LaRue decommitted from the Trojans; the four-star told 247's Clint Brewster that he plans to talk to Coach Ferrigno about a potential visit to Ann Arbor ($). LaRue currently has a visit to Notre Dame scheduled and is also looking at Miami, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
The Wolverines may also have suddenly found themselves in the mix for the nation's top linebacker recruit, Alabama prospect Reuben Foster, after he connected with commit Henry Poggi at the Under Armour game. Poggi reportedly alerted Foster to Michigan's potential interest and convinced him to get in touch with the coaches, and Foster looks to be following through, per Sam Webb ($):
Once Foster and Michigan begin having more conversations, the 6'1, 240 pounder says it’s likely he'll get up to Ann Arbor for a visit at some point before signing day.
"I don't know but the odds are pretty darn good cause I'm cool with [Poggi's] dad that I just met this week --- very cool with him," said Foster.
With a month to go until signing day, it's very late in the game to enter into the recruitment of such a high-profile player, but the former Auburn commit seems to have genuine interest. It's early yet to harbor serious hopes of a commitment, but if a visit materializes it would obviously be fantastic news for Michigan.
A more likely candidate for one of the final few spots is CA OL Cameron Hunt, who spent time with Michigan's contingent of commitments at the UA game. Hunt will take his official to Michigan next weekend, followed by visits to Oregon and Cal, and he told Sam Webb that those three schools comprise his leading trio ($).
[After THE JUMP, video and evaluations of Michigan's All-Americans, the latest on Denzel Ward, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Gareon Conley, last weekend's high school action, hopefully the last word on David Dawson, and more.
Conley Plans Visits, Emphasis On "Plans"
2013 cornerback commit Gareon Conley recently received an offer from Ohio State and is receiving serious interest from Oregon. After his game on Friday—in which he hauled in yet another long touchdown pass—he told multiple outlets that he plans to take visits, which would obviously negate his commitment to Michigan. From Josh Helmholdt, with emphasis added ($):
"I'm taking visits somewhere else because Michigan was the first ever college I visited so I want to see what's out there," Conley said.
Asked how he would respond if the choice came down to taking visits or remaining committed to Michigan, Conley said he had not decided on that or spoken with Michigan coaches about it recently.
"I haven't talked to them in awhile, but I've got to talk to them about it," Conley said.
We know the coaching staff's position on this issue: if Conley takes visits, he's gone. He hasn't spoken to them yet about potential visits to Oregon and Ohio State, so it's possible that this ends up the same way as his planned trip to Cincinnati a couple weeks ago, which he cancelled after talking with Brady Hoke; it's also worth noting that he hasn't scheduled any visits yet. The fact that potential visits have now come up multiple times in the past few weeks, however, suggests that his commitment is tenuous, and with months to go before signing day it feels like a 50/50 shot at best that he sticks.
The obvious backup plan—and he shouldn't really be called this, especially since Michigan has recruited him all along—is five-star FL DB Leon McQuay III, who will be on campus for the Northwestern game. Tremendous adds a couple less-heralded, as-yet-unoffered options in Cincinnati commit Aregeros Turner—who camped at Michigan over the summer—and Cincinnati De La Salle prospect Jaleel Hytchye (gesundheit).
The Team, The Team, The *BASS HIT*
Logan Tuley-Tillman's senior highlights are now available on YouTube. They begin with a photo montage backed by Bo Schembechler's "The Team" speech, which is obviously fantastic. Then a song by something called a "Driicky Graham" fades in—as Bo's speech continues—and I'll be busy collecting brain matter off my floor for the next few hours now.
Oh, there's also lots of Tuley-Tillman burying people, and even some defensive highlights where he displays impressive athleticism for a guy his size, which is nice.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of last weekend's high school games, the latest on David Dawson, and more.]
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 ($).
Treadwell has official visits in the works for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Ole Miss, and plans to take unofficials to Ann Arbor (for the MSU game) and East Lansing before making a decision.
As for the direction this one is headed, I don't know, man. I still feel like Michigan has a better shot than any other school on the list; the problem is there are four other schools on the list, and the only choice that would truly shock me is Michigan State. We'll see what he's saying after his visit for the State game; if Michigan hasn't distinguished themselves from the field at that point, it's cause for serious concern.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Gareon Conley, commitment stat updates, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup has the latest on Laquon Treadwell, a roundup of last weekend's commit stats, and more.
Treadwell: New Top Six
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt caught up with IL WR Laquon Treadwell following his unofficial visit to Ole Miss—new home of former Crete-Monee teammate and one-time Michigan commit Anthony Standifer—and he revealed a new top six($): Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss, in no particular order. This is pretty close to previous top groups of Treadwell's, though Auburn is notably absent. He's also scheduled his first official visit to Oklahoma on October 27th, when they face off against Notre Dame.
I still believe Treadwell is a Michigan lean until he says they're out of the running, though it's worth noting that this was his second visit to Ole Miss, and this time around he brought his mother along to meet the coaches. That's a sign of genuine interest; we've known all along that Treadwell would do his due diligence, and Wolverine fans should expect to have to sweat out at least a few more of these visits.
On the field, Treadwell continues to show why he's so coveted as a prospect, earning top weekend performer honors from Helmholdt after recording seven catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns on Friday night ($).
Subpar Stats: Explained
Shane Morris turned in another underwhelming statistical performance in a blowout loss to Brother Rice, and how can he be a five-star rabblerabblerabble oh wait:
DeLaSalle quarterback Shane Morris, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis earlier this week, played just the first half and completed eight of 17 attempts for 87 yards and one interception.
DeLaSalle coach Paul Verska said Morris likely would be out for the next 10 days, perhaps longer.
"They deserved to win," Verska said. "They're quick on defense. Real quick. (Shane) is sick. He's been sick."
During my bout with mono I ate chicken broth for Thanksgiving dinner while zonked out on Vicodin. I certainly made no attempt to play football, or even move, really. Get well soon, Shane.
Healthier players turning in healthier stats over the weekend included Dymonte Thomas—who rushed for 309 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries and added "around 12 tackles," according to Tremendous—and Gareon Conley, who caught four passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns and also had a 78-yard pick six. Highlights of both performances are in the video above starting at the 1:05 mark.
[More recruit stats plus Malik McDowell's visit reaction after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup features highlights and stats from DeVeon Smith and other 2013 commits, Logan Tuley-Tillman's revolutionary scholarship-earning tactic, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Devon Allen, and more.
Presented Without Comment
Presented With Comment
The Freep's Mick McCabe released his annual list of the top 25 high school players in the state; unsurprisingly, Shane "Pearly Whites" Morris sits atop the list. Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer, Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, and MSU commits Jon Reschke and Gerald Holmes round out the top five; other Wolverine pledges include Wyatt Shallman (#7), David Dawson (#8), Khalid Hill (#12), and C'sonte York (#14). When remembering that this list is put together not to project college success but high school ability, I don't take much issue with how the rankings shook out.
In other rankings news, Scout's Allen Trieu compiled a top 150 for the entire Midwest region, topped by (sigh) Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith and USC commit Ty Isaac. Morris slots in at #4—interestingly one spot behind uncommitted four-star WR James Quick—and eight Michigan pledges find a place in the top 30. Seventeen Wolverines in all made the list, each falling within the top 81; if you're looking for a surprise placement, it's probably Mike McCray down at #53, which is approaching three-star territory.
[Hit THE JUMP to see DeVeon Smith and Dymonte Thomas in action, and more]