national champs baby
Previously: In-State Primer
Yesterday, I went over the schedules of Michigan's in-state commits, highlighting certain matchups for this fall's Future Blue Originals. Today's out-of-state primer is going to look a little different, mostly because I didn't want to embed 20-something tables into this post. Last year we got some great reader submissions of scouting reports, photos, and even video of Michigan commits for games I could not attend. We'd love to get even more of those this year, so I've compiled a couple of handy resources that should make this easy to organize.
View Future Blue Originals Commit/Target Map in a larger map
Say you live in—to take a completely random example—eastern Ohio, and you're wondering how you could help the blog. Well, wonder no more. The map above features the high school locations for each of Michigan's 23 senior commits, as well as Detroit Loyola (Malik McDowell) and St. Clairsville (Michael Ferns). If you live close to any of the above locations and think you could contribute a passable scouting report, mark it down on the...
Handy Master Schedule
...master schedule for each of Michigan's commits and select targets. It's a Google Doc that I've made editable by the public (please use this privilege wisely); as you can see, games I'll be attending are in bold, followed by my name. If you plan to attend a game and submit a report, photos, or video, mark it down in the same fashion. If you're willing, please also include your email; if you (understandably) don't want it on a public document, just shoot me an email, but please make sure to still mark the game you're attending so others know what's covered as well.
If you're one of those people who watches a lot of football but you aren't sure you've got the chops to do a detailed report, please contact me anyway; I'm happy to give a few pointers about what to watch for a particular position or prospect. If we get enough user-submitted reports, I'll either include them in each week's FBO post or compile them in a weekly feature.
Now, on to the primer itself, broken down by region.
Eastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania
CB Ross Douglas (2013 Commit), Avon High School, Avon (OH): Avon is coming off a 13-2 season that ended at the hands of Mike McCray, Cam Burrows, and their Trotwood-Madison squad in the Division II state title game. Douglas plays running back as well as corner for the Eagles, so there will be plenty to scout if you check him out.
LB Ben Gedeon (2013 Commit), Hudson High School, Hudson (OH): Hudson finished 10-2 in 2011, bowing out in the second round of the OHSAA playoffs. Gedeon does a little bit of everything, playing tight end, H-back, wide receiver, kick returner, and even quarterback. He might be the recruit I most wish lived three hours closer to Ann Arbor.
CB Gareon Conley (2013 Commit), Washington High School, Massillon (OH): Perennial powerhouse Massillon Washington had a down year by their standards in 2011, going 7-3 and missing the state playoffs. Conley managed to record four interceptions and nine PBUs last year despite playing much of the season in a cast; there's a good chance he'll be making big plays if you decide to head to a game.
RB DeVeon Smith (2013 Commit), Howland High School, Warren (OH): Howland's perfect 9-0 regular season in 2011 was spoiled with a first-round exit from the Division II playoffs. Smith has combined for just under 4,000 rushing yards over the last two seasons; if you're looking for a prospect that's easy to scout and will have plenty of opportunities to show his stuff, it's probably Smith.
S Dymonte Thomas (2013 Commit), Marlington High School, Alliance (OH): Marlington posted an 8-2 record in 2011, which wasn't quite good enough to earn them a spot in the state playoffs. Thomas rushed for 875 yards and 13 TDs as a running back while tallying 102 tackles and an interception on defense. In fact, I'd say he's the best guy to scout over Smith, but safety play is a little tougher to evaluate than a running back.
LB Michael Ferns (2014 Commit), St. Clairsville High School, St. Clairsville (OH): St. Clairsville finished 10-2 last season, going down in the second round of the Division IV playoffs. Ferns tallied 136 tackles at linebacker and also was a very dangerous weapon at both running back and tight end.
OL Patrick Kugler (2013 Commit), North Allegheny High School, Wexford (PA): North Allegheny advanced all the way to the state semifinals before suffering their first loss of the season in 2011.
TE Jake Butt (2013 Commit), Pickerington North High School, Pickerington (OH): Despite an 8-2 record, Pickerington North failed to make the playoffs last season. Butt starred at both tight end and defensive end, tallying 427 yards and seven TDs on offense and ten sacks on defense. I'm planning to watch North take on their cross-town rivals, who feature...
DE Taco Charlton (2013 Commit), Pickerington Central High School, Pickerington (OH): Central not only defeated North last season, they made it all the way to the Division I title game before falling to St. Ignatius. Charlton had 60 tackles and seven TFL as a situational player last year and should see his role expand this season.
WR Jaron Dukes (2013 Commit), Marion-Franklin High School, Columbus (OH): The Red Devils went 13-1 in 2011, losing only to Trotwood-Madison in the Division I state semifinals. Dukes contribted 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Marion-Franklin faces off against Pickerington Central on August 31st at 7:30 pm; I'll be in Dallas, so if someone could cover that game it would be a huge help.
Definitely Not The Columbus Area*
LB Mike McCray (2013 Commit), Trotwood-Madison High School, Trotwood (OH): Trotwood-Madison captured the Division II state title last season over Douglas's Avon squad to cap off a perfect 15-0 season. McCray had a big year statistically at linebacker—88 tackles, two forced fumbles, five interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns—and also contributed heavily at tight end. They open on August 26th with a televised game against Ft. Lauderdale University School.
*Apologies, Trotwood natives.
OL Kyle Bosch (2013 Commit), St. Francis High School, Wheaton (IL): St. Francis went 8-3 last season, falling in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Bosch earned all-area and all-state honors and should do the same this season.
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman (2013 Commit), Manual High School, Peoria (IL): Manual struggled to a 3-6 record last season. Tuley-Tillman will once again start at left tackle; his development is one to watch closely given his raw talent.
LS Scott Sypniewski (2013 Commit), Marquette High School, Ottawa (IL): Marquette finished just 2-7 last fall. Scouting the long snapper is probably quite unnecessary, but if you'd like to, it's a free country.
OL Chris Fox (2013 Commit), Ponderosa High School, Parker (CO): Ponderosa finished just 4-6 last season. Fox starred on both the offensive and defensive lines.
DT Maurice Hurst Jr. (2013 Commit), Xaverian Brothers High School, Westwood (MA): Xaverian Brothers went 6-5 in 2011. Hurst was a first-team all-state defensive tackle, and perhaps more impressively also toted the rock as a massive running back. Fat guy touchdowns, ahoy!
DT Henry Poggi (2013 Commit), Gilman School, Baltimore (MD): Gilman, coached by Poggi's father Biff, finished 10-1 in 2011 against an impressive schedule, with Henry posting ten sacks. This year Gilman opens against three powerhouse programs: Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (8/26), Our Lady of Good Counsel (8/31), and Don Bosco Prep (9/8). Any one of those games would be great to attend and scout.
CB Channing Stribling (2013 Commit), Butler High School, Matthews (NC): Butler capped off an 11-2 season with a run to the Class 4AA state quarterfinals in 2011. Stribling excelled on both sides of the ball, catching eight touchdowns as a receiver and intercepting six passes at corner. As one of Michigan's least-scouted prospects, I'd love to hear reports on him, as well.
If you're able to attend any games for the above players—or the in-state recruits, as well—update the Google doc and send me an email. I'll be in contact with those who express interest in scouting as the season approaches.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at full junior film for four 2013 commits, addresses an interesting theory on offensive line recruiting, and details a couple of recent offers.
Butt Taco D-Train MANBALL*
It's been a slow week for recruiting news, so luckily ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter unleashed full-length junior highlight videos for four Michigan commits. Here they are, with some brief analysis; first up is TE Jake Butt:
Once you get past the first half of the video, which is comprised of defensive highlights, you get to see some impressive play from Butt at tight end. He catches the ball away from his body, displays sure hands, and does a really nice job of turning back to the quarterback and giving him a target on just about every route. These are just highlights, but he also looks solid as a blocker. Butt doesn't have off-the-charts athleticism and he could be a little sharper on his route-running; he still looks like a player who could come in and have a quick impact if he can add the necessary size and strength before he hits campus.
DE Taco Charlton:
Charlton mostly played as a situational pass-rusher last fall, so his highlights aren't as lengthy as the others. That said, the outstanding athleticism that makes him such an intriguing prospect is on full display, as he's often able to just blow by opposing blockers without facing much resistance. There are issues with technique, especially when it comes to shedding blocks; those should improve with proper coaching, a summer on the camp circuit, and starter's experience in the fall. Given Michigan's depth at defensive end, Charlton likely won't have to play right away, but he looks like he could make a big impact down the road, at the very least in the same role he played last year.
S Dymonte Thomas:
Before you start calling for Thomas to play running back, check out the next tape (and also remember that Michigan is seriously in the mix for Ty Isaac). We don't get to see Thomas playing much safety in the above clip—he spends a lot of his time in the box—but we do get to see his sideline-to-sideline speed, quick diagnosis against the run, and ability to come up and lay a lick. I don't see a whole lot not to like here, though I'll be interested to see if he plays more deep half as a senior and we get some more film of him in coverage; there's not a lot to go on above.
RB DeVeon Smith:
Hello, MANBALL. Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle. The one caveat to this video is that Smith didn't play the highest level of competition last year; he comes from the same league at Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, and that worked out just fine. We don't get to see him block much, and passes are limited to swings and screens, but there's little doubt that Smith should have an impact carrying the football.
Former All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley evaluated four of Michigan's five offensive line commits in a free article at 247Sports; he's apparently over his OUTRAGE from Brady Hoke leaving San Diego State (his alma mater) to coach at Michigan, because the reviews are quite positive. Unfortunately for us, they're also pretty much identical for each of the four players (Logan Tuley-Tillman, Chris Fox, Kyle Bosch, and Patrick Kugler). In short:
Strengths—Mean streak, size
Can Work On—Pad level, footwork
Part of this is because leverage and technique can always be improved upon, especially in making the transition to the college game. Also, Michigan has assembled an impressive collection of big linemen who finish blocks with authority. There is a little more insight in the full article, including the fact that Bosch appears to be the most college-ready of the four.
*That's gotta provide an SEO boost, right?
Pro-Sized Offensive Linemen: Good
I was pleased to see that SBNation recently unveiled Land-Grant Holy Land, a new Ohio State blog spearheaded by 11W and EDSBS contributor Luke Zimmerman. This recruiting-related article for the site by DJ Byrnes, however, should probably be addressed. I won't give "Brady Hoke's Blind Spot" the full FJM-style fisking, but here's the setup after a brief discussion of how good former OSU OL Alex Boone looked as a high school prospect [emphasis mine]:
Two years later, I watched Alex Boone get eviscerated by Urban Meyer's Florida Gators. Play after play, there was another rabid jackal clad in orange and blue, running down a previously elusive Troy Smith. There was no mercy and no quarter given. There was no pity. It was just unrelenting pressure, and Alex Boone succumbed to it.
The next year, Alex Boone got eaten alive by LSU's defensive line in a game where I'm surprised Todd Boeckman wasn't killed. Again, it was a straight up mauling for which Boone and his compatriots had little defense. The Buckeyes didn't get beat like a drum against LSU as they did against Florida, but it was another poor showing for the offensive line. (SEC coaches understand: a deep, versatile defensive line will give bigger, slower offensive lines nightmares over the course of a game.)
So, this is why I laugh at Michigan and their recruitment of Boone-like clones to stock their offensive line. It's also why I get super giddy when I compare those efforts against Urban's.
Yes, this is an argument against recruiting pro-sized offensive linemen, and the crux of the argument is based on the failings of Alex Boone. There are many flaws to this, but the most notable is that Alex Boone didn't fall short of expectations at Ohio State because he was 6'8", 310+ pounds. He fell short because, through most of his college career, he was a raging alcoholic, at one point admitting to drinking up to 40 beers a night during the weekend. That will slow down just about anybody.
Byrnes then notes the rather massive human beings Michigan is bringing in for both the 2012 and 2013 classes, as well as the extremely high level of talent the Buckeyes are assembling along the defensive line. I have no argument here—there should be some epic trench clashes in the future of this rivalry. I think Michigan has a good chance of coming out on top in those clashes, however, because this simply isn't true:
Brady Hoke will be good for Michigan. He may even beat Ohio State once or twice during his tenure, but he doesn't seem to realize that college football has shifted away from massive, clattering offensive lines. By the time he does, it might already be too late.
First, it's worth noting that massive =/= unathletic. Taylor Lewan is 6'8", but he's also got remarkably quick feet. Anyone who watched 6'9", 345-pound tackle Jonathan Ogden play as a pro remembers him for somehow resembling the world's most devastating ballerina. As for the college football world moving away from large offensive lines, here are your spring depth charts for the two teams to play for the 2011 national title:
1) If college football is moving away from behemoth offensive lines, we forgot to inform the SEC, which has somehow managed to make do.
2) *Looks at Alabama's depth chart, shudders*
So, in short, you probably shouldn't worry about Michigan reeling in large classes of man-sized linemen being a bad thing. This argument could probably have been accomplished with one word—Wisconsin—but it's a slow week.
Okay, one last thing. Urban Meyer was hired on November 28th, 2011. After that date, the Buckeyes added three offensive linemen to their 2012 class: Taylor Decker (6'8", 315), Joey O'Connor (6'4", 295), and Kyle Dodson (6'6", 315). Yep, Meyer isn't stupid, either.
[So, um, MnB's Zach Travis did this too, and his take is worth a read as well. I swear I wrote this yesterday. So it goes.]
New Offers, Ojemudia Enrolls Early, Etc.
Michigan isn't slowing down on the hunt for wide receivers, as Tim Sullivan reports that their latest 2013 offer was extended to three-star MD WR Paul Harris ($, info in header). Harris stands at 6'3", 185 lbs., and he plans to attend Michigan's one-day camp on June 21st. The Wolverines are a mortal lock to add two more receivers to the class, and I wouldn't be surprised if they take three given the lack of proven depth and the scholarship no longer being held for E.J. Levenberry.
Tremendous got the scoop that the Wolverines also threw their hat in the ring for one of the top defensive prospects of 2014, NJ CB Jabrill Peppers. Peppers already holds offers from Florida, LSU, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Rutgers, and South Carolina, and that list will likely include a laundry-list of national powers before all is said and done. Peppers told Aquaman that he grew up watching Michigan—favorite players: Mike Hart and Mario Manningham—and has interest in a visit, either in the summer or fall.
11W's Alex Gleitman spoke to four-star MA DL Maurice Hurst Jr. after a recent visit to Columbus, and Hurst stated that he'll visit Michigan and Michigan State in the near future, and then he'll be "done with visits." He'd like to make his decision in the next month and a half, and currently lists Ohio State, Michigan, and Virginia as the schools sticking out to him. Buckeye coaches apparently told him that they'll take another defensive tackle; we'll see if the loaded D-line class there affects his decision, especially if things go well on his trip to Ann Arbor.
The Wolverine's Andy Reid reports that 2012 DE Mario Ojemudia will enroll for spring term on Monday, giving the man with the laser death-stare a leg up on strength and conditioning, not to mention a head start in the classroom. Ojemudia needs to add a fair amount of weight before he'll be able to line up with his hand in the dirt, so this is welcome news.
You can probably rule out Michigan for a couple of California prospects. CA RB Justin Davis has "pretty much" narrowed down to a final three of USC, Cal, and Washington, and he expects to make his decision soon ($, info in header). With the Wolverines focused in on Ty Isaac and Derrick Green, that doesn't come as much of a surprise. If Michigan was back in the market for linebackers after losing out on Levenberry—very unlikely, considering the prospects they've turned away—they seems out of the race for CA LB Michael Hutchings, who's aiming for a summer decision and is only mentioning Pac-12 schools as possible visit destinations ($).
Quickly: Free Rivals article on CA WR Demorea Stringfellow, who Mike Farrell describes as a "tough matchup for cornerbacks" because of his size (6'2", 185) and ability to go up and get the football.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at Patrick Kugler's newly-released junior highlights, breaks down 2013 Ohio rankings, discusses visitors and new offers, and more.
Commits: Prepared For MANBALL
Patrick Kugler's junior highlights were uploaded to YouTube today, and as you can see above, Michigan's latest commit has no problem playing through the whistle. Offensive line highlights start at the 2:32 mark (though his D-line clips are well worth a watch) and largely consist of Kugler planting a defender into the turf, often several yards downfield. Speaking of Kugler, GBW chatted with him recently, and it turns out he didn't even need to meet Brady Hoke before being sold on Michigan (free article!):
Patrick Kugler committed to Michigan football program this past weekend without even talking to his future head coach Brady Hoke. That has since changed as the four-star offensive linemen finally caught up with the head man last night.
"He is really exactly how I pictured him," Kugler said to GoBlueWolverine about his phone conversation with Hoke. "He has very high energy. He is serious and very straight to the point. I like everything about him on the phone. I can't wait to go meet him actually."
You can't say enough about the recruiting job Hoke has done in a little over a year at the helm in Ann Arbor, but don't undersell what his assistants have accomplished; if Darrell Funk isn't on multiple end-of-year best recruiter lists, it'll be criminal. The fact that Michigan has its line class sealed up in February is largely his doing.
Bucknuts is counting down the top players in the state of Ohio, and Dymonte Thomas comes in at #4 while Jake Butt
cracks makes the list at #10. (I typed "Butt cracks" without thinking and then started laughing my ass off. Yes, I'm 12 years old.) Here is ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter on Thomas ($):
“He is outstanding on both sides of the ball. He is a no-brainer at safety. He could play tailback because he is so explosive. On offense, he will deliver a blow. But I think Michigan really does see him as a defensive back.”
And Porter compares Butt to a guy who would live in Michigan's nightmares if not for Denard Robinson:
“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”
Scout, meanwhile, has released their top 50 for Ohio. Thomas is #2—behind only OSU commit Jalin Marshall (ahead of Rivals 5-star DB Cameron Burrows)—Butt is #10, Jaron Dukes is #20, and Taco Charlton is #29. Other recruits of interest include RB DeVeon Smith (#3), LB Ben Gedeon (#11), LB Mike McCray (#13), CB Gareon Conley (#16), CB Darian Hicks (#19), TE Jake Matuska (#22), and WR Kevin Gladney (#23).
Chantel Jennings profiled Wyatt Shallman today, and a big reason why the big athlete from Catholic Central committed to Michigan was because they gave him the chance to play tailback. Expect him to bring quite the physical attitude to the position ($):
"[My grandpa] always talked about how power football and power running, downhill, four yards a carry, that sort of thing, that has always been Michigan's M.O.," Shallman said. "That's really what Michigan football is about. That's really what football is about, smashing heads."
Shallman is training with Mike Barwis on top of his regular workouts with CC; heads will be smashed.
Quickly: The Wolverine breaks down film of Logan Tuley-Tillman ($), and the evaluation goes along the lines of everything else you've read on him: great athleticism and drive, needs work on technique. TomVH on the reinvigorated recruiting rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State ($).
Weekend Visitors, The Linebacker Crunch, and More
As far as I've seen, Michigan has just two visitors lined up for this weekend: Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon (possible, not set in stone) and Indianapolis (IN) North Central OT/DT Darius Latham (both links $). Latham is an interesting prospect—he's adept on either side of the ball, though at this point the Wolverines would only take him at defensive tackle.
Gedeon, meanwhile, is one of the top linebackers in the Midwest, but there's going to be a serious crunch at the position. Michigan leads for Good Counsel LB Dorian O'Daniel, who's higher-ranked than Gedeon, and also for top-50 overall prospect E.J. Levenberry, and they could secure the commitment of Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray on March 8th when he announces. After last year's bumper crop, the only spot along the linebacking corps that really needs reinforcements is at SLB, where both Levenberry and McCray project. O'Daniel and Gedeon seem more like MIKE/WLB types; right now it looks like Michigan will only take two LBs, though it's possible that they grab a third if the numbers work out and a guy like Levenberry is looking to commit. All four are high-quality prospects, so this could become a first-come, first-served situation.
O'Daniel wasn't the only player to name Michigan as his leader this week, as he was joined by Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley, a four-star prospect ($, info in header). Conley plans to visit Ann Arbor on March 10th, and he wants to make his decision before his senior season; we'll see if things move quickly on that front, as he'd be the big (6'1", 170 lbs.) corner Michigan wants.
Quickly running through other players who named Michigan among their top x lists: Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton now has the Wolverines in his top five with Tennessee, Mississippi State, Penn State, and LSU ($, info in header). Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge DE Jonathan Allen named a top six of Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida and NC State ($, info in header). Five-star S/RB/LB Su'a Cravens hasn't narrowed down his list, but says that "USC, UCLA, Michigan and Washington are recruiting me the hardest right now," though he maintains that every school recruiting him is equal at the moment ($, info in header).
New Offers, Future Potential Visitors, and Happy Trails
A couple new offers surfaced for the Wolverines in the last few days. New Orleans (LA) Edna Carr TE Standish Dobard now lists a Michigan offer; he's a three-star recruit to 247, but is being pursued by most of the heavy hitters in the SEC. The Wolverines also recently offered Pendleton (SC) four-star DT Michael Hill, who's considering a summer visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
Several players are planning future visits to Ann Arbor. Here's the most recent list:
- Pittsburgh (PA) Seton-La Salle TE Scott Orndoff just decommitted from Wisconsin and will be on campus March 17th ($). He says if he likes the visit, Michigan will shoot to the top of his list.
- Tampa (FL) Wharton five-star CB Vernon Hargreaves III might be a tough pull from the state of Florida, but he's considering a summer visit ($, info in header).
- 247's #37 overall player, Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas DE Joey Bosa, is in regular contact with Greg Mattison and will likely visit Michigan and Ohio State in an upcoming weekend ($).
- Perhaps the top priority among DT recruits, Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi, has already visited Michigan twice but wants to see Ann Arbor again ($, info in header).
- Chandler (AZ) Hamilton CB Cole Luke, a four-star prospect, is thinking about swinging by Michigan and Notre Dame after planned spring trips to Texas and Oklahoma ($).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata DE Tashawn Bower is talking with Curt Mallory about setting up a spring or summer visit ($, info in header).
There are a couple happy trails to report. Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff's Adam Breneman, the top-ranked TE in the country, will announce his decision on March 9th at 7 pm. He has not visited Michigan, so you can rule the Wolverines out; this will likely be a choice between Ohio State and childhood favorite Penn State, and I expect he'll end up with the Nittany Lions. Meanwhile, Centerville (OH) OT Evan Lisle, who held a Michigan offer prior to the O-line spots filling up, committed to Ohio State after receiving his Buckeye offer last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles lineman Matt Miller, brother of Michigan center Jack, in the Detroit News; he could end up as a Spartan unless Michigan decides he's a good option at DT. Black Shoe Diaries recruiting analyst Jeff Junstrom notes an interesting lack of overlap between Michigan and Penn State recruits—only one of M's 13 commits held a PSU offer. Magnus released his initial TTB rankings for the 2013 commits.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at two potential commits (yes, it never ends, and this is good), gets more insight on Patrick Kugler, and finally puts the whole Alex Kozan thing to rest. Finally.
And The Coyote Said, "War Eagle"
Alex Kozan has eaten the Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango, spoken with his coyote spiritual guide, and emerged from his vision quest with newfound clarity about his
soulmate college destination: Kozan will be an Auburn Tiger. There's no word on whether he mulled over his decision in a lighthouse, but I'm going to presume this as fact until proven otherwise.
Also, amen to this: “It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”
We can officially close the book on the class of 2012. We can also discuss guys who will actually play center for Michigan, as more evaluations of new commit Patrick Kugler have come out since his commitment post. Here's Allen Trieu on Kugler's junior film, which is unfortunately stuck behind a Scout paywall ($):
The kid has great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player, which you would expect from his dad being an NFL coach. Now, you take all of those strengths and project him to center, and Michigan fans should be excited. He's bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it. His upside was good to begin with, but as a center, it's excellent.
Excellent, indeed. I'd always rather have a recruit who plays tackle in high school—where high school teams usually stick their best linemen—then learns center in the offseason than a guy who's limited in where he projects. Take a good, but slightly undersized, high school tackle and their ceiling immediately raises when shifted to center if they've got the technique and versatility, which shouldn't be a problem with Kugler. Here's his high school head coach on just that ($):
“I think his ability to play low is one of his strengths,” [North Allegheny coach Art] Walker said of Kugler. "He’s a great run blocker, and we like to consider him a finisher. He’s also a strong pass blocker as well. He runs well, he pulls well, and he has great feet and hands. He’s still maturing physically, and he’s having his best offseason to date. He can play any position you ask him to, wherever the team needs him most.”
I really like the addition of Kugler to the class. Michigan is set along the offensive line unless a guy like Ethan Pocic wants to join the party.
Quickly: Jared Shanker on Jake Butt and his ties to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Tremendous interviews Chris Fox, who's hopefully given up on his dirtbiking hobby. Chantel Jennings on Khalid Hill and #Team134 ($).
Must Not Make Played-Out "That Ish [Mc]Cray" Joke
The #44 prospect in the Rivals100, Trotwood (OH) Madison linebacker Mike McCray, will announce his decision on March 8th between Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He has one more visit scheduled: to Michigan, on March 6th. That's a pretty positive sign, and the general feeling is that McCray will end up blue—Rivals.com's Mike Farrell has said as much in multiple twitter posts.
McCray is one of three blue-chip linebackers who Michigan appears to lead for, with E.J. Levenberry and Dorian O'Daniel being the other two. McCray seems like a MLB, while Levenberry and O'Daniel both project to the outside. It's possible Michigan takes all three if they want to commit; it'll come down to a numbers game, but that would be one heck of a linebacker haul. If the Wolverines are saving spots for the best players available, it'll be hard to turn down any of those guys.
Steve Wiltfong posted on the Wolverine247 board today that Michigan "may be the team to beat" for Columbus (OH) Bishop Hartley TE Jacob Matuska after a great visit last Monday ($). This one could be a Michigan/Notre Dame battle, and there's reason for optimism—other than general "Hoke poops magic" optimism—for the Wolverines; a post on BuckeyePlanet says Michigan is very much in the mix despite Matuska being a presumed ND lock ($).
Ty Isaac's Coach Goes Full Fred Jackson and More
TomVH caught up with Ty Isaac's head coach to talk about the Midwest's best running back, and BOOM GALE SAYERS'D ($, info in header):
"Anytime he touches the ball, everybody is on edge, because it could be a Gayle Sayers moment. Every time Sayers touched the ball, he could go, and Ty has that ability," [Joliet Catholic coach Dan] Sharp said. "[Isaac would fit] in any kind of pro-style offense. He's the type of back who can get tough yards, durable, and he's not fun to tackle for safeties and corners."
Sharp also said Isaac reminds him physically of Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Fame member and Heisman Trophy winner. In relevant, non-hyperbolic news, Isaac has no timetable for a decision and will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th.
Michigan has shown up on several players's top [blank] lists recently. Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton visited on Sunday of that mid-February weekend, and while he didn't catch the virulent strand of commitment fever, he now has Michigan in his top three with LSU and Mississippi State ($, info in header). Another player with U-M in his top three is Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins, along with Stanford and Notre Dame ($, info in header); Hawkins said he grew up idolizing Charles Woodson, so he's obviously got good taste.
While Michigan hasn't yet offered, South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei likes the Wolverines, Oregon, Utah, and Washington ($). Concord (CA) De La Salle LB Michael Hutchings—yes, another blue-chip LB—hasn't narrowed his list yet, but says the Wolverines will "easily" make the cut when he trims his list to 8 or 10 in April ($, info in header).
And now, your semi-weekly bulleted list, this time of players who have expressed interest in taking visits to Ann Arbor:
- Don Bosco Prep DE Alquadin Muhammed, one of the top defensive prospects in the country, plans to visit Michigan, though he hasn't set a timetable ($, info in header).
- Asburn (VA) Briar Woods LB Matt Rolin will take a visit to Ann Arbor in the spring, along with planned trips to Tennessee, BC, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech ($, info in header).
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes told Tremendous he will take one of his officials to Michigan, though he obviously hasn't set those in stone yet. His says his interest in the Wolverines is "very, very high."
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow hopes to visit Michigan before the start of football season ($).
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris recently named Virginia as his top school, but he says his next visit will be to Ann Arbor ($). Virginia Tech and Ohio State are also in the mix.
- Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw has a Michigan visit in the works ($, info in header).
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis says he'll take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker hopes to swing by campus when visiting family in Michigan this April ($).
- Oakley (CA) Freedom WR Darrell Daniels says he'll take an official to Michigan if "[he's] really feeling them," and he may also try to head to the Wolverine camp as well ($).
Finally, there's one happy trails to report. One of the Trinity trio, CB Ryan White, committed to hometown Louisville yesterday over Illinois. Teammate DE Jason Hatcher also seems to be favoring the Cardinals early; we'll see how that affects WR James Quick.
True story: I woke up to my phone vibrating on my desk and I immediately had no doubt that I was way late in getting to a "Hello" post. I didn't know for whom—though I had a good idea it was Wexford (PA) OL Patrick Kugler, who tweeted that Michigan "[felt] like home" after his visit yesterday—but I knew that Brady Hoke doesn't sleep and had no trouble punishing me for my slothfulness. This is where we're at with Michigan recruiting right now; I'm going to have to start patterning my sleep after a college football coach. This is totally okay as long as the 2013 class is wrapped up by the end of March.
On that note, Michigan now has its entire five-man offensive line class filled before the end of February. It is filled with four-stars. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
4* OT, ESPNU
150 Watch List
4*, 92, #20 OT,
Four-stars across the board for Kugler, because what else did you expect? He even has an early four-star ranking from Scout, so it appears he's destined to end up on each of the four services's top-[blank] lists. Rivals is the most bullish for the moment, placing him as their #54 overall prospect, making him the team's third-best commit by their standards and the sixth in the Rivals100. Every site but Rivals lists Kugler at 6'4", 270 pounds—Rivals credits him with an extra inch and ten pounds—making him the ideal size to move inside, most likely to center.
Kugler's certainly got the bloodlines to be a dominant lineman. Scout's Bob Lichtenfels cited the Kugler family history when naming him the breakout 2013 prospect of the East last October ($):
We knew Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny offensive lineman Patrick Kugler was going to be good. His family lineage would suggest that his father Sean Kugler is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers and his brother Robert Kugler is red shirting this season in his true freshman season at Purdue. The younger Kugler is better than we thought, he is dominant. I actually wouldn't hestitate to say he is the best lineman in Pennsylvania regardless of class.
Patrick did not let the resource of having an NFL offensive line coach for a father go to waste, working with his dad on technique and also being a ball boy, getting to absorb the atmosphere of an NFL training camp. Here's Kugler's self-evaluation ($):
'I just think my best thing is my physicality and run blocking definitely," he said. "I like being really physical and I'm working on my pass sets a lot. I'm working a lot on my strength and trying to get up there, get bigger and quicker."
Scout lists feet—not a surprise when working on footwork with an NFL coach—intensity, and nasty streak as Kugler's strengths, and his only listed weakness is size. While Kugler can't change being 6'4", this is actually a good thing for a center, and at 270 pounds he's got the frame to be college-ready by the time he sets foot on campus. Here is Scout's full evaluation:
Kugler is a technician and he is nasty. He finishes his blocks and always plays to the whistle. He has great feet and gets to the second level as well as anyone. Very dominant at the point of attack. he is equally adept at run blocking and pass protection. He is very cerebral and is rarely in bad position. Very good knee bend and deceptively athletic. Needs to fill out his frame more, but that will come with age and experience.
With his technical ability and feel for the game, Kugler sounds like the ideal center, though he's got the ability to play anywhere along the interior of the line and potentially even tackle—that likely won't be necessary given the recruiting haul this year and last.
So, in short, Michigan just pulled in a refined, technical lineman who knows the game, is equally skilled at pass- and run-blocking, and has the proverbial nasty streak. Oh, and his dad is the offensive line coach for the Steelers. I'd say "DO WANT," but we already got him.
Kulger had 25 offers when he pledged to Michigan, including Arizona, Boise State, Cal, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Miami (FL), Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Washington, and West Virginia. [EDIT: Also Ohio State. Continue maniacal laughter.]
Offensive lineman, so no stats. He was recently named to the ESPNHS Underclass All-America team and pulled in all-state and all-conference honors as a junior. He was also first-team all-conference and all-state honorable mention as a sophomore.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 5.1-second 40 time, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five, as well as a 300-pound bench press and a 415 squat.
Kugler does not have a highlight tape available, surprisingly. I'll update this if I come across one.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Kugler is the center that Michigan has been looking for, and while he'll likely take a redshirt year to bulk up, he could compete with Jack Miller for the starting job as a redshirt freshman. [EDIT: Though with the lack of depth, he may be forced into duty as a backup as a true freshman.] Even if Miller holds off Kugler until he graduates, Kugler will likely be a two-year starter anchoring the middle of the Wolverine line; no 2012 lineman projects to center and there's literally no depth after Miller. Kugler is much higher-ranked than your average center by the recruiting services, so I'm guessing he'll be in the running for postseason accolades by the time he's an upperclassman, though that's just a guess since I clearly don't have any film to base that on.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines are now done taking offensive linemen, having pulled in two projected tackles (Logan Tuley-Tillman and Chris Fox), two guards (Kyle Bosch and David Dawson), and Kugler, the center. They're also up to 13 total commitments for the class of 2013, and while I sound like a broken record, I'll once again state that this class should have around 20-22 players, though some recruiting analysts suggest Michigan could take up to 24. That would take a fair amount of attrition, so we'll have to see about that.
With the remaining spots, Michigan appears intent on taking two receivers (one big outside playmaker and a versatile slot, probably), another tight end, a nose tackle, a linebacker, and another corner, at the very least. That would put the Wolverines at 19 commits, and they could use their remaining scholarships on the best players available.
BONUS RIVAL SCHADENFREUDE. From the Notre Dame board IrishEnvy in their Patrick Kugler thread:
Today, 11:20 AM #20 (permalink) Raining On Your Parade
Committed to UM today.
Last edited by phork; Today at 11:23 AM..
That is all.
Today's recruiting roundup checks out Shane Morris's new highlight tape, goes over the laundry list of top prospects who took notice of last weekend's commitment extravaganza, and details Michigan's new offers and expected visitors.
What, No Punting Highlights?
Shane Morris unleashed his junior tape yesterday, and the first full minute features him... running. And hurdling a guy. I'm seriously, you guys:
Oh, there's also your standard fare of cannon-launched deep balls and precision touch passes, but SHANE MORRIS HURDLED A GUY AND HE'S TOTALLY DENARD 2.0. Also, he punts, though disappointingly that wasn't in the video:
Don’t underestimate Morris’ potential in the punting game. While a left-handed thrower, he kicks right-footed. According to De La Salle’s special teams coach, Morris averaged a shade under 40 yards a punt last season and had a 58 yarder in one game. Morris played soccer for seven years.
Next week we'll learn that Morris throws a 90-mph slider with either arm, turned down Red Berenson's overtures to be Shawn Hunwick's successor, and is the only person to defeat The World's Most Interesting Man in a game of jai-alai.
Morris, as you're well aware, is also pretty good at this whole recruiting thing—that Hoke guy isn't bad himself, I hear—and top prospects have taken notice of Michigan's dynamite start to the 2013 class. Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac is one of those prospects, though he's also trying to take his time with his decision ($, info in header):
“It’s hard not to notice (Michigan’s recruiting success), but I kind of told myself ‘don’t let that be a deciding factor,” said Isaac. “I know there are a few places that I really want to see. I know that being somewhere with a good class is a big deal, and to me it’s very important, but I didn’t really want to make a rash decision just because everyone else was doing it.”
Isaac will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th between trips to Notre Dame and USC, who appear to be the other schools in contention for the Midwest's top back, though he's yet to narrow down his list ($, info in header). One factor very much playing in Michigan's favor is their depth chart, something Isaac is keeping a close eye on, as he wants the opportunity to play early. Another top Illinois prospect, Crete (IL) Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, is also keeping a low profile, but he's willing to say that the Wolverines are among his leaders ($, info in header):
While he claims to have no top list, Treadwell will admit Michigan is one of his leaders. After this past weekend, when Michigan picked up eight commitments, there might not be much time before he will have to make a decision, something that Treadwell says won't deter him from his timeline.
"That won't change anything for me," he said. "It's not my time yet."
One player who has flat-out stated Michigan is on top is four-star linebacker E.J. Levenberry in a free ESPN article linked by Brian yesterday. The Wolverines are also in good shape with four-star linebackers Dorian O'Daniel and Mike McCray; with Michigan likely to take just one or two at the position they should be able to get a very high-quality haul there.
247 Sports updated their Top247, and for the most part the new rankings were kind to the Wolverines, though Jake Butt took a rather perpelxing tumble. Touch the Banner provided a summary of the movement:
- Shane Morris dropped from #12 to #14
- Dymonte Thomas dropped from #35 to #40
- Chris Fox dropped from #39 to #47
- Kyle Bosch jumped from #55 to #42
- Jake Butt dropped from #70 to outside the top 247
- Taco Charlton jumped from #115 to #99
- Wyatt Shallman dropped from #149 to #187
- Jourdan Lewis dropped from #218 to outside the top 247
- David Dawson jumped from outside the top 247 to #195
My only guess as to why Butt would drop so far is that 24/7 initially evaluated him as a DE, and when he committed to a school as a TE they adjusted accordingly; I still don't know why he fell all the way out, as most first-hand accounts have him as a better offensive prospect than defensive. C'est la vie. Click that TTB link to see where all of Michigan's targets landed in the new list, which provides further confirmation that the Wolverines are offering the cream of the crop this year.
New Offers, Scheduled Visits, Visit Reactions, Etc.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews article focuses on one of the many high-profile offensive linemen to come out of Illinois in 2013, New Lenox Lincoln-Way West's Colin McGovern, who could vie for that last offensive line spot in the class:
"I spoke with Coach Funk over the weekend and (Wednesday), and he let me know there is one spot left (for an offensive lineman)," McGovern reported. "I'm just glad that I'm going to be visiting really soon there so I can sort of get a look at things and maybe compare it to schools that I've visited in the past. But I'm not looking to commit right now. I'm going to let it play out and whatever happens, happens. If they stay available that'd be nice because that's an extra choice for me. I know Michigan is a great school and a powerhouse football team, but I'm not going to rush into a decision that I might regret."
McGovern will visit on March 10th, and he's also got visits scheduled for Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and possibly Washington over the next couple months. He's not in a rush to make his decision, but he also doesn't have a set timetable; when he feels like he's ready to make a choice, he'll go ahead and do just that. He doesn't claim any favorites right now, though he says Michigan would be near the top of his list if he had one (he doesn't).
The top-ranked lineman in Illinois, Ethan Pocic, was the only Saturday visitor to not commit last week, but that doesn't mean he wasn't impressed with Michigan. Pocic released a top ten and the Wolverines are included ($, info in header). As of right now, he hasn't set up any other visits. Michigan also impressed a pair of Monday visitors in TE Jacob Matuska, who talked to Tremendous—it looks like the Wolverines will take a third TE in the class—and DT Donovan Munger, who still doesn't have a Wolverine offer ($).
Your semi-weekly list of new offers:
- Four-star Reading (MA) Wyomissing Area OLB Alex Anzalone, who told 247 he's planning March visits to both Michigan and Notre Dame ($, info in header).
- Bastrop (TX) three-star CB Antwuan Davis received his offer from Coach Funk last week ($, info in header). He hasn't set up visits but mentioned Michigan among the schools he'd like to check out.
- Upland (CA) DE/OLB Joe Mathis grabbed an offer last week and is looking at taking one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- 2014 Bishop (MD) McNamara OT/DT Damian Prince received offers from Michigan, Florida State, Iowa, and North Carolina last week, bringing his total to 11 already ($, info in header).
- 2014 Grand Rapids Christian ATH Drake Harris is primarily a basketball recruit—he's been in heavy contact with John Beilein—but he also says he's received an offer to play football for the Wolverines ($, info in header). He's the rare player who could be a legit scholarship player at two sports.
- 2014 Washington (DC) Friendship Academy CB Jalen Tabor was offered on Sunday ($, info in header). He already holds offers from schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and he's looking to visit Ann Arbor this summer.
As you can see, the coaching staff has been able to turn some of their focus to the sophomore class—identifying 2014's top targets—with half of the junior class already wrapped up.
There's a short list of weekend visitors after last weekend's junior day atmosphere (though it wasn't an official junior day): four-star OL Patrick Kugler, who holds an offer; Barrington (IL) OL Jack Keeler ($, not offered); Logan Tuley-Tillman (yes, again); and 2014 QB Chandler Kincade, who's an early Pitt commit.
Several other players are planning future trips to Ann Arbor. Pittsburgh (PA) TE Scott Orndoff, Wisconsin's lone commit in the class of 2013, told Tremendous that he'll take a visit to Michigan after being offered recently—further evidence that the Wolverines want a third TE in the class. PA OT Mike McGlinchey is looking to take a spring trip to check out the Wolverines ($, info in header). Erial (NJ) Timber Creek teammates DT Greg Webb and DE Dajuan Drennon might be a package deal, according to Webb, and plan on visiting Ann Arbor in the future ($, info in header).
A quick note: Despite a recent MaxPreps article saying Michigan had renewed interest in Midland OT Steven Elmer, Sam Webb has confirmed with Elmer's father that he's not interested and is solidly committed to Notre Dame. End of discussion.
Quickly: SBNation editors pick their favorite tales from the recruiting trail, and it's a hilarious read (I must agree with Andrew Sharp—Willie Williams is tough to top). MnB's Zach Travis answers questions about recruiting and the renewed fervor of the Michigan-Ohio State battles for SBNation's main recruiting page. Chantel Jennings goes over the remaining needs in the class ($). TomVH focuses in on the top remaining targets along the offensive line ($).