...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Today's recruiting roundup feels really, really awful for pushing chunkums's .gif off the top of the page, but the show must go on.
Special Teams Snake Oil
Michigan looks to bolster special teams depth with two walk-on long-snappers in the 2012 class, Taybor Pepper and Tyler Tokarsky, and... wait, what?
#MichiganState with another late 2012 commit. Saline (Mich.) long snapper Taybor Pepper. More to come shortly.
— Allen Trieu (@AllenTrieu) April 14, 2012
Yes, Mark Dantonio yoinked one of Michigan's walk-on long snappers by offering him a scholarship. I... um... okay.
You're My New Favorite! And You're My New Favorite! You're All Favorites!
CA DE Joe Mathis took a trip to Ann Arbor for the Adidas Invitational two weekends ago and left naming Michigan as his leader. Everybody got excited, especially since Mathis is the cousin of five-star CA S Su'a Cravens, but there was reason to exhibit caution. Brian's foreboding words of warning go here:
Usual disclaimers about a long way to go apply. Mathis might be one of those kids who gets excited about everybody—he's already committed to and decommitted from($) Washington. Mathis is likely to back off in a couple weeks when USC/whoever guys get ahold of him and maintain neutrality into the fall. He's already told GBW($) that he doesn't have a top five yet but that when he names one Michigan will be on it, which is a bit less thrilling.
Well, Mathis swung by Nebraska last weekend and—surprise!—left with a new favorite school ($, info in header). Given that the video embedded in that article features Mathis resplendent in Husker gear, you get zero guesses as to which school that may be. Until the ink is dry on Mathis's LOI, it's best to take his words with a rather gargantuan grain of salt.
Another DE getting a lot of attention this week is Florida four-star Joey Bosa, who followed up a great visit to Ohio State by checking out Michigan's spring game. Bosa tweeted out that he didn't want to leave Columbus, then set off a bit of a firestorm by saying he was headed to see "that place up north," a tweet he later deleted. According to Scout's Bill Greene ($), Bosa now lists Michigan in his top six with Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, Florida, and Wisconsin, though Bosa also says his Buckeye visit "gave me a feeling like no other school I've been to." Bosa's now set to visit Ohio State again for their spring game, and here's another of his tweets that he later deleted:
Joey Bosa: RT @jbbigbear Might have a surprise this weekend
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) April 17, 2012
Yeah, color me skeptical that Michigan is really in this one. Don't be surprised if Bosa is a Buckeye by this time next week.
Talking About Recruits Who Might End Up At Michigan
What about the guys who could actually end up blue, you ask? There were several on campus for Saturday's festivities, including VA LB E.J. Levenberry. GBW's Andre Barthwell has a two-part article on Levenberry's visit ($)—quote in the title: "I loved it!"—and it sounds like that mid-August decision timeline is a bit flexible:
“We are just taking our time," said E.J., "and seeing the schools that me and my family want to see ... and then a decision will be make [sic]."
And Mr. Levenberry [Ed: E.J.'s father] adds:
“As far as a decision we are just going to make sure he looks at every school so that we as a family can help him make the most informed decision that he can."
This still appears to be a race between Michigan and Florida State, and this time around E.J. brought his mother, the next step in the Levenberry process of vetting potential schools.
A prospect who appears closer to making a decision is TX DE Christian LaCouture, who narrowed his list to Michigan, LSU, and Nebraska after his visit, according to Tim Sullivan ($, info in header). LaCouture plans on taking another trip to both Ann Arbor and Lincoln and making his decision before his senior season; that's a great sign for the Wolverines in the immediate aftermath of a visit.
Five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller was also on campus for the spring game, and he tells 247's Clint Brewster that he thinks he'll take an official visit back to Ann Arbor in the fall ($). Virginia Tech is still the presumed—though not stated, at least by Fuller—leader, but an official would give Michigan a puncher's chance, especially with former Good Counsel teammate Blake Countess in their corner. Fuller plans to make his decision by the Army All-American game.
Also enjoying the trip was 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell, whose father told Sam Webb that Greg Mattison impressed both him and his son by saying Malik could be the next Terrell Suggs ($). That's high praise indeed, but Mattison coached Suggs, and McDowell has the potential to be one of the nation's top prospects.
Quickly: CA ATH Elijah Qualls names Michigan to his top eight ($, info in header). Four-star CA DE Kylie Fitts has USC and UCLA on top of his list,
but wants to earn offers from Michigan and Oregon. [Edit: Never mind. Fitts committed to USC over the weekend.] Happy trails to MD LB Dorian O'Daniel (Clemson) and VA S Tim Harris (Virginia). Chantel Jennings on the strong bonds being formed between the members of Michigan's 2013 class ($).
As you can see, "Creeper Van Originals" is now "Future Blue Originals," because it turns out high school administrators sometimes read this stuff and may miss the tongue-in-cheek humor of the former title. As I would like to get continued access to high school games, CVO is now FBO. Also, there is no video this week, as the MHSAA won't credential MGoBlog for filming the playoffs because, in their words, we are a "fan site" and therefore are not granted press access. Trust me, this was fantastic news to hear on a Friday—aka the day I planned to film at Pioneer—after attempting to get in contact with them all week. Bitter? Oh, not at all.
ANYWAYS, I was able to make it to two games this weekend, the first to see running back Drake Johnson and my old high school, Ann Arbor Pioneer, take on Temperance Bedford, the second to watch commits Mario Ojemudia and Devin Funchess as well as recruits Jon Reschke and
Drake Johnson Lorenzo Collins as Farmington Hills Harrison took on Brother Rice in a much-hyped district final.
First, I'll cover the big upset—Brother Rice took down defending Division 2 state champ Harrison, 30-7, to hand the top-ranked Hawks their first loss of the season and eliminate them from the playoffs. This was a surprise, as Harrison has been nationally ranked for much of the year while Brother Rice had four losses, but the Hawks were without quarterback/safety Jake Vento due to injury and Ojemudia missed the first-half thanks to a dubiously-timed suspension for wearing pads at a summer camp, a violation of MHSAA rules. Highlights normally go here, but instead here's a photo of Brother Rice junior linebacker Jon Reschke, who had a phenomenal game:
Devin Funchess (Harrison TE #5, 2012 commit): Funchess came out strong early, recording his lone reception in the first half on a 21-yard catch-and-run that showed off his soft hands, good speed for his size, and ability to pick up yards after the catch. He nearly had the most impressive play of the night, skying to high-point a lob at midfield, but he came down hard and had the ball raked out by a BR defender. To add injury to insult, Funchess came up limping after the play, and while he gamely continued to play on both sides of the ball (he had three tackles and a TFL playing LB/DE, by my count)—the injury clearly affected his mobility, though he showed a lot of toughness by playing all-out in a losing effort despite limping off the field in obvious pain after several drives.
Mario Ojemudia (Harrison DE #53, 2012 commit): As stated earlier, Ojemudia had to sit out the first half because of his suspension, and by the time he saw his first snap Harrison was already down 10-0 and had just allowed a 70-yard kickoff return deep into Hawk territory to open the second half. You could tell Ojemudia was trying to shake off the rust after sitting for so long, and while he was able to get some penetration into the Brother Rice backfield, the Warriors spent most of the second half running clock—staying away from Ojemudia in the process. This was not a good game to evaluate Ojemudia for reasons largely outside his control, but his dominance this season speaks for itself.
Lorenzo Collins (Harrison RB #20, 2014 recruit): Collins has been a sophomore sensation for the Hawks, but he was largely held in check this game thanks to a very strong Brother Rice defense and the fact that Harrison had to play catch-up for essentially the whole game. 247Sports lists Collins, who finished with 40 yards on 12 carries, at 6'0", 200 pounds, though he looked a little smaller to me, though keep in mind he's just a sophomore. While he was largely limited, Collins did display the speed and agility that make him a player to watch in the future, including juking Reschke in the hole on one first-half carry and forcing a complete whiff, the only time I saw a Harrison player get past the Warrior linebacker. If Collins adds a little bulk and improves his ball security—Reschke forced him to fumble later in the half, though Harrison recovered—he should be a prospect who gets serious consideration for a four-star rating. He does have a bit of the Michael Shaw bouncebouncebouncebounce tendency, and doesn't display much power just yet (though he usually finds a way to fall forward), but again, we're talking about a high school sophomore.
Jon Reschke (Brother Rice LB #48, 2013 recruit): Reschke was the most impressive player on the field on Saturday, recording what must have been double-digit tackles (I lost count while trying to take some photos) and at least one tackle for loss to go along with the forced fumble. Reschke was always around the ball and had a displayed great instincts in finding the fastest path to the ballcarrier, and when he hit, you could hear it—Brady Hoke would likely be able to distinguish a Reschke tackle from those of his teammates without opening his eyes. Playing outside linebacker and a little bit of defensive end, Reschke chased down plays from sideline to sideline and never appeared out of position. He did get juked the one time by Collins, but otherwise kept plays in front of him, and looked like he's earned every bit of the early hype coming his way.
Apologies for the lack of action shots, but I accidentally had the camera on the wrong setting for much of the second half—when I meandered down to the sideline from the bleachers—and came out with a bunch of blurry photos.
After the jump, get my impressions on Drake Johnson after his statistically-ridiculous effort against Bedford.