this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Left: Walsh. Right: Wormley by Upchurch
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a 1997 article by Bill Walsh where he explained how he evaluates talent at each position. I then applied those evaluations to Michigan’s offensive personnel, because Borges is supposedly transitioning us to Walsh’s WCO. People requested a defensive version so here you go.
It’s probably not as useful because the closest NFL comparison to the Mattison ideal is the Greg Mattison Ravens. But then when you read about the history of Mattison’s 4-3 under defense, you find (49ers DC under Walsh) George Seifert’s ideas peppered all over. And there’s a reason for that:
Offensive evolution doesn’t matter so much when you’re talking about going back to the offense that dominated 1997. The 4-3 under defense—or whatever you call what Michigan does by shifting the line toward the nearest sideline—is more akin to a 3-4 than the 46 defense Walsh used to deploy against the run-heavy offenses of his day, or the Tampa 2 stuff that owned the period which that article was written.
Walsh’s defensive opinions are geared toward a 3-4, and that’s perfect for our purposes, since the 4-3 under is similar in personnel. When you see it you can see why:
So in we go again. I'm moving right now so I can't do it all in one again. Here's the interior DL and I'll cover linebackers and defensive backs in later weeks.
Dana Stubblefield / Rob Renes / Pipkins via Upchurch
Walsh Says: 6’2, 290. As discussed in the article when I made all the DL recruits into Wii avatars, the NT should have his mass low; a pyramid is more difficult to move than a cube. Like Mattison, Walsh puts the hands at the very top:
Quick, strong hands to grab and pull are critical. This is common with the great tackles. The hands, the arms, the upper body strength and then the quick feet to take advantage of a moving man, just getting him off balance.
The Walsh ideal doesn’t necessarily have to take on doubles. What he looks for is the strength to not get knocked backwards, and the ability to move laterally without giving ground. The best can burrow forward and push a guard into the pocket.
Note that Walsh is inadvertently describing a 4-3 DT more than a 3-4 NT—he’s not asking for a two-gapper who sucks up doubles but a one-gapper who can’t be budged. However the first step to beating spread teams is an NT who requires doubles, since the spread 'n shred's base dive play is most dangerous when an interior OL is releasing into the linebackers.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Rob Renes. NFL scouts want everyone to be Wilfork, but active, stout, and sound come first.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: "Crab person" a la Mike Martin, i.e. he plays low and with great leverage. Strength—opponents can't move him. “Has excellent hands.” Athleticism: Walsh didn’t mention this but guys who are ranked basketball recruits as well seem to have a high success rate; that's obviously a mark of quickness/agility being important.
What you can learn on film: Nose tackle recruits are often so much bigger than the competition that they can terrify offenses without technique. You can learn more from the plays where he flows down the line of scrimmage then makes the play. Leverage. Hands maybe but this seems to be something most will learn in college. It's paywalled (and there's a lot that's 3-techy about him) but if you have a Rivals account go watch Ndamukong Suh's high school film and how he uses his arms to dominate guys off the ball.
What could signal bust potential: We’ve seen our share of planetary objects who get lots of hype because they’re 320-pound creatures who pop average teen OL like so many zits. This is an effort position that scales dramatically with the transition from high school to Big Ten. An athletic man-child has a massive ceiling but is as likely to follow the career path of Richard Ash as that of Johnathan Hankins.
How our guys compare: The expectation here is for Quinton Washington (above-right/Upchurch) to reprise his role at Nose with Ondre Pipkins figuring in as a rotation starter and making appearances at the 3-tech spot as well. Q came to Michigan as a spread-style offensive guard highly sought after by all the right people. His switch to the defensive line was initially a swap with Will Campbell, except Washington stuck with it. It was a painful year and change waiting for him to catch up, made worth it last year when he was a pleasant surprise at nose. Listed at 6'4-300 he's on the plus side of the size curve but not to the degree Campbell was (Suh as a senior was listed at the same size). Where this project is concerned, Hoke seems to have had success in every facet except his stated goal of making Quinton two inches shorter; I like to mention that one of my favorite DTs to watch is Kawaan Short, who was listed at 6'5 as a recruit and 6'3 as a draft prospect. That upper body strength that Walsh covets in his NTs is what made Washington stand out as a recruit and contributes to the success he's had across the line.
left: Q.Wash's UFR totals for 2012. right: Pipkins's. Clicking bigs them.
Ondre Pipkins arrived looking pretty much exactly like an NFL nose tackle—6'3-340—and played pretty much exactly like a true freshman, as you can make out from the UFR chart above. That's technique (i.e. hands) talking—he got minuses for getting scooped and buried and eating doubles, and plus'ed for flashes of mobility.
Richard Ash has two years of eligibility left so you can't write him off yet but he came in a non-mobile planet and had to lose a lot of weight to uncover his playing body. The Walsh measureables are not favorable, at least not yet. The freshman pegged for NT (though either could play either) is probably Maurice Hurst, since he checks nearly every one of Bill's boxes, right down to a listed height-weight of 6'2-290. Mike Farrell on Hurst:
"He has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well."
Watching his film you can see the hands (start at 0:48). The knocks are he needs to get lower (on film you immediately see that butt sticking out) and I don't see strength mentioned much. He played running back for his high school and wasn't so big that he could get by on size so Hurst probably appreciates technique. I would guess he needs some time to put on muscle before he can contribute.
[After the jump, moving down the line]
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, and DE Mario Ojemudia.
|Novi, MI – 6'6", 270|
|Scout||3*, #31 DT|
|Rivals||3*, #26 DT, #10 MI|
|ESPN||3*, #32 DT, #8 MI|
|24/7||4*, #17 SDE, #11 MI|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Wisconsin, Missouri, Illinois… and Duke!|
|YMRMFSPA||Tyler Hoover/Will Heininger|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Visit reaction from Tom. Ace checks out DCC versus Inkster.|
|Notes||Detroit Catholic Central (Mike Martin)|
He also has a junior reel.
Matt Godin is a 6-5-ish, 270-pound-ish defensive lineman who will end up hovering around 300 pounds and clogging up the middle next to Ondre Pipkins, which makes him the third one of those covered in this series after Tom Strobel and Chris Wormley. Chances are one will end up being really good, one will be pretty good, and the other will be okay to meh. By the rankings, Godin would be the latter guy.
Rankings are not destiny of course. I do get a little leery when I hear things like this…
Godin is a 6-6, 270-pound defensive end prospect, who will likely stay at that position in college despite having the size of an offensive tackle. Godin still looks lean at 270 pounds, though he towers over his fellow defensive ends.
…because they make me think of Pat Massey getting tossed downfield. This assessment was echoed by Josh Helmholdt when he reported on Michigan's 2010 camp:
Godin won almost every rep that was not against [former Michigan commit and projected Oregon starter Jake] Fisher, but he is not the fast-twitch type of player you normally see at defensive end. His body makeup actually suggests offensive tackle, and he has the athleticism and skill set that would fit well at that position in college.
Godin did play both ways for CC but Michigan is about to be flush with tackles, and not so flush with SDE/3-tech types, especially since they rotate.
Meanwhile, ESPN's evaluation is par for a blue-collar course($):
He has a solid get-off, but is not an explosive one-gap penetrating type defender. He is more of a physical run stuffer type. He comes out of his stance and displays the ability to play with some leverage. He will shoot his hands and does a good job of being able to keep blockers off of him and maintain some separation. He can seem to really deliver a pop when he takes on blockers and displays a real physical nature at the point of attack. Flashes the ability to be able to hold his ground and shed and make a play on the ball. … He seems like he may be best suited as he adds size to be an early down run defender.
Trieu's evaluation contradicted this, FWIW, stating he's "more of a finesse inside-outside guy than a true interior prospect" and asking him to "get stronger and improve his hand work."
The Obligatory Coach Quote reinforces this picture of Godin as a large blue collar guy who will punch the clock, so to speak:
“In practice, he demonstrates his abilities very well — playing the game of football, that’s the No. 1 criteria. You have to be able to mix it up,” said Mack. “That’s a quality of a great football player. He does a great job of focusing in on what his assignment is. He exhibits a lot of mental toughness in the game. I think his mental toughness is a key element.
“I think he directs himself very well as far as getting the job done.”
Brady Hoke and Lloyd Carr nod in approval of that coach quote. Tremendous™ work, Tom Mack. Tremendous™ work.
Anyway, yeah, okay. Teams need guys like that. Not everyone can be a star and Michigan would have been in a lot of trouble last year if Will Heininger, another 6'6" who's not going to blow by a guard, hadn't developed into a steady option at three-tech.
There is some upside. Ace caught CC's game against Inkster last year and came away impressed. Previous posts in this series should dissuade you from thinking Ace says this kind of stuff about everyone:
Matt Godin: Godin had a phenomenal performance, playing nearly every snap in the first half at either defensive tackle or offensive tackle. …
The senior had a relentless motor, pushing his way into the Viking backfield on almost every snap … Godin showed a nice variety of moves as he made a living in the opposing backfield. He was very quick off the snap and did a great job of staying low and getting his hands right into the chest of the offensive linemen tasked with blocking him—his bull-rush was his most effective move, as he was able to maintain leverage despite having a distinct height advantage over his Inkster counterparts.
…When single-blocked, he overpowered his man every time, and when he commanded a double-team (which was often) he still managed to get a push that opened things up for his teammates—I counted at least three plays in which Godin collapsed the pocket and either fed the quarterback into a DCC sack or forced him to throw the ball away.
… He holds up well against multiple blockers, shows a well-developed variety of moves on the pass rush, and tracks running backs well. While the competition in this game was lacking, Godin did everything you could realistically ask of him.
The above evaluations were from before his senior year, when Ace saw him good and his stats surged. Godin had 28 TFLs as a senior on 70 tackles; his nine sacks were significantly up from the two he had as a junior. That surge offers hope Godin might do more than punch the clock as that other guy on the line who is important but not a star.
Even if that doesn't happen, Brady Hoke loves lunch-pail riveters from the wrong side of the tracks (even if they're from the right side of the tracks) who punch themselves in the mouth just to taste blood, and large people. Godin is that, and seems assured of some sort of role on the defensive line simply by virtue of being a Brady Hoke kind of guy.
You may be looking at Chris Wormley and Tom Strobel and thinking "what's the difference?" I can't tell you there's much of one. Trieu above says SDE, Godin says SDE($)…
"Wormley committed and he's the same position as me, but what they told me is, we just battle it out and we both can play. We're just going to rotate. That sounds good to me."
…and 24/7 ranks him there. I'm just sayin', man. I'm sayin' that Michigan needs some guys to play the three-tech, that they're close to interchangeable, and that it doesn't really matter but I have to guess. And Godin's on the roster as a DT. So I'm sayin'.
“They didn’t want any of it in the second half," Godin said. "You could see it in their eyes. Their offensive line didn’t want to hit.”
Why Tyler Hoover/Will Heininger? If you're not familiar with Hoover, he's a fifth year senior for Michigan State who was a three/four star tweener—trending towards three—when he came out of Novi High School a few years back. He's the same sort of run-defense DE/DT that Godin projects at: in 2010 he started nine games and played in all 13, which returned just three sacks and thirty-six tackles. He's also maybe too tall to be an ideal interior lineman at 6'7".
So not thrilling, but an important contributor on a good defense. MSU's probably going to start him at nose tackle this year, which… uh… good luck with that. Hopefully Michigan doesn't have to do that with Godin.
Meanwhile, Heininger is a walk-on version of Godin, a 6'6" guy around 300 pounds who was a solid run defender once Mattison, Hoke, and Jerry Montgomery whacked him on his helmet sufficiently. His dynamic play quotient stayed stuck on one or two per game even at his apex, but when he was gone for the Sugar Bowl Michigan felt it.
Guru Reliability: Pretty high. 247 is higher than others; but the rest are in a very tight range. Healthy and well-known, but it doesn't seem like he hit any camps.
Variance: Moderate. Ceiling doesn't seem that high and the height could be a problem, so being a good starter is not assured. I may be excessively leery about tall DTs.
Ceiling: Low. He's got the size to be a good run defender but no one thinks he's going to be a pocket-crushing force or QB-leveling interior defender.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. Program guy who is one of the various extremely large men who will keep Michigan's rushing defense stout in the next four or five years, but not likely to be a star.
Projection: Could be thrust into the fray immediately if Ken Wilkins and Quinton Washington are immediately surpassed, but likely to redshirt since one of those two guys will probably be better than a 270-pound freshman. After probable redshirt, Godin will spend another year as Black's backup and a rotation guy.
In 2014 Black will graduate and Godin will be in an as-of-yet murky battle for the starting job at three-tech. Will Chris Wormley slide down to the three? Will Willie Henry be a nose tackle or what? Ask again later. Meanwhile, anyone at that spot will be pressed from behind by Maurice Hurst and Henry Poggi, then presumably coming off redshirts. Whoever emerges from that fray will be pretty good and backed up by someone pretty good. Godin figures to be one of the two.
♪ Well a whole season played with the first string guy is usually quite lucky.
And a squad who plays with the second team out can be anything but fussy.
But a team whose seen an important guy down—head concussed, knee on the ground!
If they ain't got depth around, then all goes to poopie.
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but depth is hard to get!
To poopie, to poopie, to poopie, but we can get there yet! /♫
This is a continuation from last week when I went through the expected offensive depth chart and tried to predict what would happen—what's the dropoff? how do we react?—if each starter is injured for an extended time. Now, I'm not here trying to roll into town and stir up trouble, see? I'm a purveyor of portents and hedger of predictions only. What I seek to do is prepare us for any one of these dings, so that if one occurs we can say something intelligent like "it hurts to lose Roh but Black is probably the less replaceable!"
Why not all defense? Things slow down from here because the defense has a lot of intermeshing parts, and because there actually is depth in places to speak of.
Mattison's er Michigan's defense has been characterized by interchangeable positions but really each spot is more of a sliding scale from NT to field corner where each one overlaps the things on either side of it. The listed spring/recruiting weights play this out (click e-bigitates):
Quickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.
Nose Tackle (Avengers)
Geeks / O. Ryan Hussain|TheWolverine / 247 Sports
In case of emergency: I'll be honest; this one is impossible to call straight. The 4-3 under is like the 3-4 in that it leans on the nose to suck up double teams and create mismatches elsewhere. The ideal is a superhero, and for the last few years we've had one of the best (by Ghost of Bo).
Hulk is gone but the franchise must go on, and for now that means we are 100% committed to making Thor work.
If the old 5-star takes up the hammer he's the pivot point of a great defense. If he doesn't then one of two mystery men could be anything from serviceable to disasters, and most things in between.
The upside on all three of Michigan's nose tackles is mighty. Weirdly, we think we know more about the true freshman, Ondre Pipkins, than the redshirt sophomore. Pipkins was a 4 or 5 star whose huge, squat, Tongan frame and jovial, Hoke-impersonating character made him and Michigan's need for nose tackle a cosmic destiny. If he's got the goods we'll see Pipkins early in spells of Campbell. True freshmen (Martin, Gabe Watson) of his caliber have fared well enough in rotational duty. The later this season goes, the more comfortable you can feel about Pipkins when he's called upon. Caveat: until he's called upon you have no idea if he can hack it, and for every huge dude you can name who could play right away (Marcus Thomas, Suh, Ngata, [sigh] Johnathan Hankins, DeQuinta Jones) there's 30 who need to spend a year as Ben Grimm before being The Thing. /metaphor used up.
In case of dire emergency: …break glass on Richard Ash. Nobody knows on this guy, who was recruited by Rodriguez as the last Pahokeeian project for Barwis to tear down and rebuild. The tear-down went unnoticed through 2010 and '11 and we caught a glimpse of possible rebuild when, 20 lbs. svelter, he made a few plays nice in the backfield. Ash could be anything from ahead of Pipkins to Adam Patterson. If that's where we are I could see Quinton Washington sliding down.
Rush Tackle (3-Tech)
Right: Dell Callihan|UMGoBlog
In case of emergency: The coaches have made it clear that Jibreel Black can play, and moving him two slots down the size/speed slide chart of defensive positions means they want him on the field, and that they want 5-tech-ish skills at the 3-tech. This being a swing position means the backups could be different things.
Quinton Washington is a big dude who was an offensive guard until he and Will Campbell were swapped for each other in that experiment. He still looks like a guard, and has yet show much at tackle besides easily dismissible coach hokum right after the move in 2010 so it wouldn't look like Rodriguez was throwing substances at surfaces to see what sticks.
Q stuck although the OL he left is now about as leaky as the DL he came to save. That the coaches moved Roh and Black down the line tells you something about their faith that Washington is ready, and going into his redshirt junior year that might mean he'll never be. He's seen time on goal line situations and is likely to again. Early in the year I wouldn't be surprised if he or Ash—whichever wins—is backing up both interior line spots, and that later on we see some Pipkins and Campbell together time.
In case of dire emergency: Ken Wilkins has been absent enough from chatter that people email me asking if he's still on team. Yes he is on the damn team, and he's still just a RS sophomore, but yeah, there's room for true freshmen on the three deep. Those two seem to be Godin and Henry, the lesser heralded of the heralded class, both of whom would benefit from redshirts. Henry is the larger. Chris Wormley, whom I rate at 5-tech, seems a more likely backup.
Strongside End (5-Tech)
In case of emergency: Craig Roh has to be the hardest four-year starter to project in history, thanks to many different careers as too-small WDE in a 4-3, a miscast OLB in the 3-3-5, then as the edge rushing WDE in Mattison's 4-3 under. Now he moves to RVB's old spot.
The backup here is almost assuredly Nate Brink, whom the coaches love but the fans hardly know because he's been hurt (he missed Spring because of it). When the coaches talk about the one-time walk-on they make sure to hit all of the Ecksteinian points: "coachable", "hard worker", "toughness", "great technique", "great motor." To that I might add he's 6'5 and 263, which is normal for the position. He's not Heininger (who as a sophomore backed up Brandon Graham), except in that he's some of the things you wrongly thought about Heininger. Then again I remember Brady Hoke making all sorts of guys into effect tech linemen.
If you'd rather see stars, Keith Heitzman is your guy. The beneficiary of the spring time Brink missed, the redshirt fresham was rated higher at tight end out of high school yet apparently good enough at SDE that the coaches moved Jordan Paskorz instead of him. Either this was a promise made at the time of his last-minute recruitment—likely since Tim reacted strongly when I say him and the TE depth chart together—or an endorsement by Hoke that he can play, or both. Best guess is it's both.
In case of dire emergency: Any of the freshmen linemen but Pipkins and Ojemudia are ready built for 5-tech. Of these Chris Wormley was a longtime high school star, which tells me he is probably physically ahead of the other guys right now. Tom Strobel is the other proto-RVB here. One day I expect we'll see the two of them playing next to each other at 3- and 5- respectively.
Backups: Mario Ojemudia ???, plus 5-techs
In case of emergency: Well if one goes down the other starts. Following a trend, both Clark and Beyer were OLBs last season, while this spot was rotated between Black and Roh. Though technically a unit change, the job they did last year—outside rusher—and what they'll be called on to do this year are not all that dissimilar. It speaks well to both that they played as true freshmen ahead of once-touted Cam Gordon. Read less into that, since Gordon was hurt to give them the opening and their skillsets are different from his.
They're also different from each other. Beyer was the more highly regarded and will get called "solid" more often because he's less eventful than Clark. Clark has the greater athleticism (see: interception in Sugar Bowl) though has been convicted of multiple accounts of giving up the edge, a freshman mistake repeated in spring. The rest of the D-line by design is meant to free these guys up for sacks, thus I see both rotating. If one goes down we lose the rotation.
The only other designated WDE is freshman Ojemudia, who is about 200 lbs. right now and would be 2009 Craig Roh'ed by most of the OTs and TEs on our schedule. Far more likely, in the event we lose one of the sophomores, we'll see one of the 5-techs or SLBs move in before the shirt is lifted from Mario. Craig Roh has played WDE more than any other spot, and Brink has the coaches' trust to fill in at 5-tech.
In case of dire emergency: Packaging still covers but there's Ojemudia if you need him. Packaging means in pass situations you just put Jake Ryan here and have Cam Gordon or Brandin Hawthorne or a nickel corner come in; otherwise go "big" (for a certain definition of such) with Roh back to wide and whichever backup DT/SDE in the game instead.
This edition of the recruiting roundup welcomes a new 2013 commit, takes a look at 2012 preferred walk-on Dan Gibbs, and discusses a bevy of new junior offers. As always, you're encouraged to email me or hit me up on the twitters with any recruiting tips or news you'd like to see in the next roundup.
Hello: Dan Gibbs
Michigan may not have landed Jordan Diamond or, at least for now, Alex Kozan, but they did manage to pick up a 6'7", 305-pound offensive lineman this week. Birmingham Seaholm's Dan Gibbs accepted a preferred walk-on spot over offers from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and several Ivy League schools. Gibbs is a Michigan lifer and is ranked as a three-star by Scout (#97 OT) and 24/7 (#121 OT) and a two-star by Rivals (NR) and ESPN (#109 OG). He has the versatility to play either guard or tackle at the next level, and it's always nice to pull in a walk-on who had D1 scholarship offers. You can see his senior highlight tape above, and here is ESPN's evaluation ($):
Gibbs is a tough inline blocker who can maul defenders when run blocking; also flashes the explosion and playing strength to knock defenders off the ball when single blocking. Has great size with good athleticism for the offensive guard position at the major level of competition. It appears his frame is very capable on handling additional body mass. We like this guys toughness; comes off the ball aggressive and hard but a little too high at times; must work to lower his pad level on initial contact. Appears to bave some lower body stiffness however we are impressed with his ability to get out of his stance when asked to pull and trap, locating defenders on the move while demonstrating good balance and agility; plays on his feet well in space. Although this prospect is more of a mauler than one who consistently knocks defenders off the line of scrimmage we are impressed with his ability to get movement when single blocking; is a nasty tough finisher who is capable of putting defenders on their backs. If he is to successfully reach for leverage and consistently get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders we see the need to improve initial quickness, first step and pad level. His long arms should be an asset in pass protection; is not heavy legged playing in the center/guard box, flashing the ability to bend and slide his feet. We do feel he plays too tall and must improve his overall balance and base when pass blocking. All areas of hand use will need refinement although we see flashes of strong initial punch and extension.
Gibbs is a developmental prospect, to be sure. His size and physicality should be a great asset on the practice field, however, and he's got the potential to become an in-game contributor down the road.
In more from the class of 2012, four Michigan signees—Devin Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross—suited up for Team USA in the International Bowl. Although they fell to the World Team, 35-29, the future Wolverines impressed, especially Funchess, who hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass ($):
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," [Team USA coach Steve] Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.'
Funchess appears to be in line to take a redshirt year as he works on adding that bulk. After that, he could turn into a very dangerous receiver from that TE/H-back hybrid spot. For highlights of each Michigan commit in the International Bowl, check out MGoVideo—a big thanks to Josh (aka MaizeNBlueJ) for putting those together.
Speaking of Funchess, his senior highlight tape is now available on YouTube. Also releasing senior film is DL Matt Godin; he does a very impressive job of getting skinny and shedding blocks to work his way into the backfield:
Quickly: Greg Mattison was named the Big Ten Recruiter of the Year by Scout and also earned top-25 status nationally on Rivals. 24/7 released their Big Ten superlatives—Ondre Pipkins is one of three players tabbed for immediate impact and the Wolverines have more players (10) on the All-Big Ten team than any other school (Ohio State has seven, Wisconsin two, while Minnesota, MSU, and Nebraska each have one). AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke discusses the importance of tight ends in recruiting with Al Borges and Darrell Funk. Stephen J. Nesbitt writes a feature in the Daily on Pipkins and Willie Henry. TTB Andrew interviews Amara Darboh.
Welcome: Khalid Hill
Recruits come in pairs, right? Michigan not only landed Gibbs yesterday, but they got a jump-start on tight end recruiting for 2013 when they pulled in Detroit Crockett's Khalid Hill. You can read the full "Hello" post here. Hill—who committed on the spot after getting his offer on an unofficial visit yesterday—is another life-long Michigan fan, offering up this fantastic quote to Allen Trieu in the aftermath of his commitment ($):
"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."
I'll give Khalid the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not a South Park reference. Hill also told 24/7 that, upon receiving a verbal offer from Brady Hoke in his office, he immediately accepted and gave the coach a "big hug." He also carries a 4.0 GPA and plans to major in Engineering; this is definitely a commitment worth celebrating. Hill's high school coach shed some light on his future role in a free Scout article:
"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."
He'll do the same for the Wolverines, but also fill a couple of other roles as well.
"It's a tight end/H-Back kind of deal. He's a utility guy, who will be motioning from fullback, get work done in the slot. They'll move him around a lot. They sat him down and told him how they're going to use him. They said he'd do a lot of what Kevin Koger did last year."
That hybrid role makes sense for Hill, a solid athlete who's a little short for the traditional tight end role at 6'2".
Another 2013 tight end, Pickerington (OH) North's Jake Butt—an early four-star to 24/7 who holds a scholarship offer from the Wolverines—has Michigan as his top school ($):
"Michigan is definitely my leading school right now, by far… it’s not even close,” he reported. “Their coaches are showing me a lot of attention. I have been up to the campus twice and loved it there, and seemed to grow a great relationship with coach (Jerry) Montgomery who is my recruiting coordinator. I already had five (Michigan) coaches come down to school to see me, so that is big. They are telling me I am their leading tight end on the board."
Butt doesn't have a concrete decision date in mind, but he's looking to wrap things up before the start of next football season. If he does, it looks like Michigan will be tough to beat.
Meanwhile, Logan Tuley-Tillman was at Yost on Saturday and plans to return to Ann Arbor this weekend—his fifth visit, and he's hoping to bring his mother along with him—but there's a minor change atop his leaderboard. While the Wolverines were at one point alone at number one, they're now joined by Alabama after Tuley-Tillman visited Tuscaloosa for their Junior Day ($).
Quickly: Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis is excited by his recent Michigan offer, but has not yet settled on a timeline while he's playing through basketball season ($). Magnus has a thorough preview of 2013 in-state recruiting over at TTB. He also takes a look at the early scholarship numbers and breaks down Michigan's needs by position. Chantel Jennings does the same—plus identifies some key early targets—over at WolverineNation ($).
Just when I think I'm going to be able to sum up Michigan's list of offers in something other than bullet form, they seemingly extend scholarships to half of the free world. Here's what I pulled together since the last recruiting update:
- Tampa (FL) Wharton CB Vernon Hargreaves III now has a Michigan offer listed. He's a five-star prospect to 24/7 and their #7 overall player in the class; all the major in-state schools have also offered and his father coaches at USF, so he'll be a very difficult pull out of the Sunshine State.
- Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray earned offers from Michigan and Oklahoma within the past week ($). The Top247 and ESPNU 150 prospect says those two schools plus Illinois, Tennessee, and Purdue stand out early in the process, but expect Ohio State to become a major factor if (more likely when) they offer.
- Michigan offered four-star Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard, though he's favoring Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Rutgers early ($).
- Centerville (OH) OL Evan Lisle becomes the latest standout Midwest lineman to earn an offer ($).
- I forgot to include him last week, but CB Ryan White became the third Louisville (KY) Trinity prospect to receive a Wolverine offer, joining teammates James Quick (WR) and Jason Hatcher (DE). White told Scout that he plans on visiting Ann Arbor at some point ($).
- The Wolverines offered another wide receiver in Cretin-Derham Hall (MN) standout James Onwualu ($), who plans on visiting within the next couple of weeks.
- Philadelphia (PA) William Penn OT Mike McGlinchey received a Michigan offer last week ($). He's a four-star prospect to 24/7 early in the process.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones now boasts offers from Michigan and his hometown Bearcats.
- Rivals.com's Adam Gorney reports that Michigan also offered Stockton (CA) Lincoln RB Justin Davis.
There are a couple of happy trails to report as well. Toledo Central Catholic DB Jayme Thompson chose West Virginia over Michigan and Notre Dame last week; it's unclear whether or not he had a commitable offer, though I don't believe he did. He's a player to keep an eye on should the Wolverines decide to continue pursuing him. Finally, while Michigan hadn't extended an offer, they had displayed some interest in Flint Carman Ainsworth RB Gerald Holmes, who chose Michigan State on Sunday.
With the Thursday Recruitin' posts getting lengthy and signing day just over a week away, we decided—with the help of some reader requests—that it would be best to do two recruiting roundups per week. So, welcome to Tuesday Recruitin', which should serve to wrap up the happenings of the previous weekend and set the table for the upcoming week. Thursday Recruitin' will now be moved to Friday and focus on any upcoming visits while catching up with the events of the week. This new setup allows me to get more recruiting information to you each week and should cut down on the total link overload that was quickly becoming an unwanted staple of my recruiting roundups. Anyways, there is much to discuss, so let's get this party started.
Caleb Stacey Decommits; How Will M Round Out The Class?
Caleb Stacey announced on Saturday that he was changing his commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati, citing a desire to stay close to home during college:
"When it came down to it, Caleb just wanted to stay closer to home," said Oak Hills assistant coach Kyle Ralph. "He's a Cincinnati kid, and as it came down to it, he was more comfortable staying home in Cincinnati."
In fact, Stacey actually got in touch with the Cincinnati coaching staff himself, as they had respected his pledge to Michigan and backed off from recruiting him. Stacey's decommitment leaves the Wolverines with 23 commits (four along the O-line) in the class of 2012, leaving up to five spots available. While Michigan looks to have a good shot with higher-ranked offensive linemen Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Alex Kozan, Stacey's absence will be felt—he was the only current commit projected to play center, a position of great need for the Wolverines, and only Kozan looks like he could fill that void.
This week will be huge for offensive line recruiting, starting with Josh Garnett's announcement on Thursday afternoon. Garnett has officially narrowed his choices to a final two of Michigan and Stanford ($, info in header), as expected. Michigan did get the last word, as Brady Hoke made the final in-home visit to Garnett on Sunday. I expect Garnett to end up as a Wolverine, though that's admittedly based on zero inside knowledge of his recruitment.
Hoke also has the final in-home visit with Kozan, who will choose between Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn. Kozan told GoBlueWolverine that he will announce his choice "right after the Coach Hoke visit," which is scheduled for this Friday ($). He claims no leader at this time, and Hoke has the chance to make a very strong pitch—with Stacey out of the class, Kozan could be the most important recruit left on the board due to his ability to play center.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce his decision on February 3rd—two days after signing day—between Michigan, Ohio State, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Michigan coaches have an in-home visit with him today, and he also maintains there's no leader in his recruitment.
Moving on to other position groups, two major targets formally decommitted this week: cornerback Armani Reeves from Penn State (same as Diamond link) and tight end Sam Grant from Boston College ($, info in header). Both could make their decisions as soon as this week. Reeves is now down to Michigan and Ohio State, and hosted Brady Hoke on Saturday before welcoming Urban Meyer—along with OSU assistants Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel—to his home last night. While some Buckeye insiders anticipated a commitment, none has come, and Greg Mattison will see Reeves tonight for his final in-home visit. This looks like a 50/50 tossup.
Grant, meanwhile, will likely choose between Michigan, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
A few happy trails: Yuri Wright found a home at Colorado despite recently being kicked out of Don Bosco Prep for his controversial tweets; Monty Madaris will decide on Wednesday, and he appears to be down to Cincinnati and Michigan State; four-star OL and soft Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson plans to announce his choice on Saturday between the Badgers, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC and Auburn ($).
Receiver Commits: Anything But Divas
You have likely read the story of receiver commit Amara Darboh, who lost his parents to the civil war in Sierra Leone when he was just two years old before finding his way to Des Moines, where he found a family and eventually became a four-star football recruit. Chantel Jennings profiled Michigan's other receiver commit, Jehu Chesson, on WolverineNation today, and the article is well worth the cost of ESPN Insider. I'll do my best to block-quote as little as possible, and encourage you to read the whole thing, which details Chesson's charity work—along with his knack for juggling—as well as his path to the United States ($):
In 1993 Chesson was born in war-torn Liberia in the middle of its first civil war. The country had broken into factions, and by the time the war was over in 1996, nearly 200,000 Liberians had died. Chesson moved from Liberia to the Ivory Coast, and from the Ivory Coast to St. Louis when he was 5.
He doesn't have many memories from that early in his life, but he saw on TV when Liberia fought its second civil war and the unrest that has come from it.
He could be angry. He still has family in Africa. His grandmother is there.
But Chesson said the kids have taught him how to forgive. He laughs when he talks about two young kids at the camp who fight and punch one another, but 10 minutes later they're playing with each other again.
He said that even though some of those kids have very little, they have the capacity to forgive, which some adults -- who've been tarnished by money or pessimism -- can't do.
"The best and worst part of it all is that I can ponder a question about why some are born into greatness and others never get a chance," Chesson said. "I'll probably never get an answer. But I can give of myself, which is sort of like working toward an answer."
The level of maturity shown by Chesson—as well as Darboh—would put many 30-year-olds to shame, and I'm very excited to see him don the winged helmet and, more importantly, get the opportunity to earn a degree from Michigan.
The Detroit News is rolling out daily profiles of the recruits on their Blue Chip list, and so far they've covered Terry Richardson, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Matt Godin, and Devin Funchess. Most of it is fluff—Richardson discusses his spirituality, Ross—like Ben Braden—played hockey, RJS wants to be a chef, Godin wanted to play QB as a HS freshman, and Funchess plans to become a coach—but for those doubting Ross's size and ability to play inside, he has a message for you:
"I believe my size benefits me," he said. "I'm quick to the ball. When I was at the Army (All American) Game, I was able to get to the ball quickly. I'm able to get through the holes. I make the reads, and at the snap of the ball I can step into those holes. Can I get stronger? Sure I can. And I will."
Ross said the U-M coaches have no plans to move him to another position and that he is slated to play weak-side linebacker.
"I'll be the linebacker that checks the slot receiver or the running back out of the backfield," he said.
We'll see in the fall if Ross is really 6'1", 220 pounds, as the article claims, but even if he's a little smaller I think WLB is the best position for him.
Quick 2013 Hitters; New 2014 (!) Offer
A quick roundup of the news on current junior prospects:
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who visited Michigan last weekend and holds an early offer, has the Wolverines in his top three with Florida and FSU ($, info in header).
- Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman revealed a list of upcoming visits on his Twitter; he plans to take a trip to Ann Arbor in March, and he's also got visits set for Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame. He's also looking at Miami and North Carolina for potential unofficials.
- In case you missed it, Michigan was one of several schools to recently offer Monaca (PA) Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, an early candidate for five-star status ($, info in header).
- Four-star Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt had the coaches drop by last week ($, info in header), and he says Michigan will be in the mix when it comes time to narrow down his list of schools.
- Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights ATH De'Niro Laster told Greg Mattison he plans to take an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor the weekend after signing day ($, info in header).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata four-star DE Tashawn Bower expects a Michigan offer soon after talking with Coach Curt Mallory ($).
- Sam Webb's weekly DetNews piece is on Lemont (IL) OL Ethan Pocic, who recently earned top offensive lineman honors at the Core6 Showcase in Westmont, IL, which also featured top junior linemen like Logan Tuley-Tillman and Colin McGovern.
- Happy trails to Trotwood-Madison cornerback Cam Burrows, as one of the top players in Ohio pledged to Ohio State last week.
Finally, Michigan gave out its second verbal offer to a class of 2014 prospect. Woodbridge (VA) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand picked up his sixth offer as the Wolverines joined Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, N.C. State and Rutgers. Hand tallied 21 sacks as a sophomore and earned district Co-Defensive MVP honors. Michigan's other sophomore offeree is also a defensive lineman, Highland (UT) DT Bryan Mone, teammate of 2012 pledge Sione Houma.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' looks at receiver recruiting in the wake of Darryl Stonum's dismissal, looks at the final updated rankings from three recruiting services, rounds up last weekend's visits, and much more. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
More Receivers? Not So Much, At Least For Now.
After Darryl Stonum was kicked off the team this week amidst rumors of multiple in-home (Cal commit Jordan Payton [$]) or official (uncommitted Monty Madaris) visits from four-star receivers, it appeared that Michigan would try to immediately fill the void left by Stonum with a third wideout in the 2012 class. Now the picture is far murkier. Tremendous posted late last night that Michigan coaches would no longer visit Payton today, and he would instead take a visit to Washington, where his primary recruiter at Cal, Tosh Lupui, now coaches after a surprising decision to change jobs. Tremendous seems to believe Michigan still has a shot with Payton, but it doesn't look good—Payton had an interview with Scout on Tuesday in which he stated interest in UW and UCLA, but never once mentioned Michigan ($).
Meanwhile, Monty Madaris was initially slated to take a visit to Ann Arbor this weekend, but instead he's decided to travel to Michigan State, now one of his two finalists along with Cincinnati. Madaris, depending on where you look, will either decide this weekend or next, and either way the chances appear slim that the Wolverines will be a major factor. Four-star former Arizona State commit Kenny Lawler, who had previously mentioned interest in Michigan, also looks to be off the board as he narrowed his focus to Oregon State and Washington State this week ($, info in header).
So, will Michigan take a third receiver in the class? I think it would be a good idea, especially if they can find a bona-fide deep threat—a specialty the team sorely lacks without Stonum—but right now there are no obvious candidates on the board unless you're one of the few, stubborn holdouts hoping for Stefon Diggs or Dorial Green-Beckham (not happening, people).
There are other positions Michigan is looking to fill, however, and prospects look brighter along the O-line and even at tight end. Josh Garnett visited Stanford last weekend, and the blue-chip lineman says things are still even at the top between Michigan and the Cardinal ($, info in header). Potential money quote:
"It's pretty much even, really, he said. "It didn't move Stanford ahead at all, actually. A lot of people think it didn't at all. It's going to be tough to pick just one, but with those schools, there's no wrong choice."
That's not a particularly glowing quote after a final official visit to one of your finalists. If you're of the belief that Michigan held a slight edge in Garnett's recruitment heading into last weekend—and that opinion is becoming more popular among experts as time passes—then that quote would indicate that the Wolverines still hold a slight lead. At worst, it appears to be a coin-flip proposition, and he plans to announce his decision on January 26th, so we'll find out relatively soon. If Michigan can't bring in Garnett, they still have a very good shot at four-star OL Alex Kozan, who has the Wolverines in his final three along with Iowa and Auburn ($, info in header). Michigan had an in-home visit with Kozan on Monday, and he's looking to wrap up his recruitment soon.
The Wolverines hosted a few visitors themselves last week, including tight end Sam Grant, who now has Michigan in his final four with Arkansas, Boston College, and Oklahoma ($, info in header). Grant initially wanted to get his recruitment over with as soon as possible, but he's now saying he'll take his time to weigh his options, and all four of his finalists have visited or will visit with him at his home this week.
Four-star corner and tenuous Penn State commit Armani Reeves enjoyed his official visit to Michigan ($, info in header), and the coaches will be in-home with him on Saturday. He still has a visit to Ohio State set up, as well as a tentative visit scheduled to Penn State after he gets to know the new coaching staff, but the Wolverines appear to be in very good position to land his commitment should he choose to decommit from the Nittany Lions.
Also visiting was Jordan Diamond, and the behemoth offensive lineman not only enjoyed his visit ($, info in header), but allayed concerns that the large number of incoming recruits along the O-line would be a negative factor for Michigan:
“They said I’m still a tackle, but wherever they want me at (along the offensive line) I’ll do,” he stated. "I can play both tackles. Yeah, they’ve recruited a lot of linemen, but I’m a competitior [sic] and I’m willing to try to beat anybody out because that’s how it’s going to be wherever I go.”
There are a couple of Happy Trails to report to go along with Payton and Madaris. Four-star corner Kenny Crawley, a former Tennessee commit who briefly popped back up on the radar, will decide on the 25th and currently has Colorado, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Michigan State atop his list ($). Four-star linebacker David Perkins, who Michigan considered as a running back recruit, committed to Ohio State this week ($, info in header).
Don't Answer the Phone, Mom. It's Urban Meyer.
Rivals released their updated Rivals100 and Rivals250 lists this week, and Ondre Pipkins shot up from #59 to #14 overall, picking up his coveted fifth star in the process on the heels of an outstanding week at the Army All-America Game. Touch the Banner has full breakdowns of the movement of Michigan commits—the most notable are a 29-spot drop to #78 for Erik Magnuson and a 41-spot rise to #111 by Joe Bolden, as all the other moves are relatively minor.
ESPN also just released their updated ESPNU 150, and there's an obvious emphasis on players who participated in the Under Armour All-America Game, which of course is televised on (wait for it...) ESPN. Terry Richardson is Michigan's highest-ranked recruit, coming in at #68. Royce Jenkins-Stone is #113, Kyle Kalis is #132, and Joe Bolden is #142. Pipkins's absence is highly perplexing.
"Defensively, the only player in my 50 years of coaching I'd compare him to is Lamarr Woodley (Saginaw High)," [Harrison head coach John] Herrington said. "We played Saginaw in the playoffs (in 2001, Harrison defeated Saginaw 31-14 in Division 3 semifinals) and Woodley was pretty good. Mario can't be blocked. He burst onto the scene his junior year. We played him just on offense his sophomore year. Don't ask me why. I remember against Novi, that first game his junior year, we said, 'Oh my!' He's got great speed, sure, but he's so quick off the ball. He can play pretty well in space, but it'll take awhile (to adjust)."
The adjustment Herrington is referring to is Ojemudia's transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, which appears inevitable due to his 215-pound frame. Other players of note in the Blue Chip list: Richardson (#2), James Ross (#3), RJS (#4), Aaron Burbridge (MSU commit, #5), Matt Godin (#6), Devin Funchess (#7), Ben Braden (#10), and Drake Johnson (#13).
Kyle Kalis was named to the Parade All-American team this week, and he also had quite the interview with Tremendous. Apparently, he was not to keen on speaking with Urban Meyer, and these comments set off a bit of a firestorm from trolling Buckeye fans:
Tremendous: Speaking of phone calls, did you decide to answer it when Urb hit you up a few weeks ago?
Kyle: Well, it happened like this: I heard the phone ring one night and I saw it was a 614 number and knew who it was right away because it was right after a speech he gave. Before I had a chance to stop my mom, she had picked it up, so I had to talk to him.
Tremendous: What did you guys talk about?
Kyle: It was really awkward.
Tremendous (laughing at AWKWARD URB): What do you mean?
Kyle: I was half listening, pretty much saying "uh-huh" the entire conversation. I was being respectful but in the back of my mind I just wanted it to end.
Quickly: Touch the Banner interviews Matt Godin; Drake Johnson and Godin will appear in the MHSAA's East vs. West All-Star Game on June 30th; and Chantel Jennings profiles Amara Darboh over at Wolverine Nation ($).
Quick 2013 Updates
Holy moley this is getting long, so 2013 updates will come fast and furious.
Shane Morris interviewed with ESPNHS about participating in last year's Elite11 regional camp as they look ahead to the quarterbacks who will comprise this year's Elite11. The video feature can be found at MGoVideo.
Blue-chip RB Ty Isaac discusses his unofficial visit to Michigan last weekend with both Sam Webb ($) and TomVH ($). He told Webb that Michigan will definitely be in his final list when he decides to narrow things down, no matter the length of said list—that's obviously great news for Michigan, who could really use a dynamic running back recruit.
The other big-time junior to visit last weekend was Woodbridge (VA) Hylton LB E.J. Levenberry, who now has Michigan in a list of schools he's seriously considering along with Ohio State, FSU, Oklahoma, Florida, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Auburn ($).
Quickly: Michigan offered Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers LB Jaylon Smith ($, info in header); Jerry Montgomery paid a visit to four-star Richmond (VA) safety Tim Harris, who expects on offer soon ($, info in header); Tremendous talked with four-star LB Peter Kalambayi, who has Michigan in his top four; Baltimore DT Henry Poggi is looking at a potential visit for a Michigan basketball game ($); top-ranked Ohio DB Cameron Burrows will announce his choice today, and all signs point to Ohio State ($, info in header); and five-star QB/ATH Jalin Marshall will announce on the 31st, choosing between Notre Dame, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Alabama ($, info in header).