I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
This recruiting roundup will self-destruct in two hours...
VA LB E.J. Levenberry makes his choice between Michigan and Florida State at 3 pm today. His family has done a good job of keeping the choice a secret; the only insider who seems willing to make a prediction is Rivals's Mike Farrell, who's unfortunately leaning towards FSU. We'll find out soon if he's right.
Ohio State Cleans Up, and What That Means for Michigan
It's rare to kick off the meat of the recruiting roundup with players who committed elsewhere, but Ohio State's big weekend could have major—and positive—ramifications for Michigan's class. In a move that surprised no one, FL DE Joey Bosa committed to the Buckeyes last weekend, along with PA LB Alex Anzalone (Michigan offer) and NC DE Lewis Neal (no M offer).
While it's never fun to see Ohio State pick up a five-star defensive end, the addition of Bosa (along with Neal) could give Michigan a boost in the race for MD DT Henry Poggi. OSU will take a relatively small class this year, probably in the neighborhood of 18 recruits, and they now sit at 13 commits, four of them defensive linemen; the odds that they take another are slim. That could turn the race for Poggi into a Michigan/Alabama affair, though he recently told Scout's Kristen Kenney that he has no timetable for his decision and hasn't yet narrowed down his favorites ($).
Might as well clear out the two other happy trails from this week: MA OL John Montelus committed to Notre Dame, while MD QB Shane Cockerille—who Michigan was recruiting as a defensive back—picked Maryland.
Running Backs: Two Options Still Out There, Plus a New 2014 Offer
One player being pursued by both Michigan and Ohio State is VA RB Derrick Green. Green is currently favoring Clemson, but a misleading quote popped up on the MGoBoard today—"Michigan will be hard to say no to"—that I wanted to clear up. That quote was taken from a Tweet that unfortunately wasn't linked (use links, people!), so I can't find it, but here's the actual full quote from a recent interview with 247's Clint Brewster [$, emphasis mine]:
“Even though I have named Clemson my top school I would still say I’m pretty open,” said Green. “I’m probably going to narrow my list down early or late summer after I make some more visits. “Ohio State, Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Clemson are going to be tough to say no to and things could always change, especially as I take more visits.”
So, yes, Michigan is still a factor, but that was more a quote about how Green will have a tough time turning away any schools from his top group. It does sound like Michigan is still in hot pursuit of Green, however.
Speaking of running backs, Sam Webb tweeted that Michigan dropped by the school of IL RB Ty Isaac yesterday. EdgyTim.com has a recent update on Isaac's recruitment in which he gives an idea of his current timeline ($):
"I just don't see myself going past September 1st but I also don't want to set any hard deadline for now. I also don't see me taking five official visits and I'll most likely just take one official visit to the school I decide on. When I know my school I'm going to be 100 percent committed and I just don't want to rush things. It could happen next week but if I don't feel 100 percent comfortable with my decision I'll wait and take as much time as I need."
I'd have to think that if Isaac doesn't take any more unofficial visits, Michigan would be the prohibitive favorite over USC and Notre Dame.
Michigan offered a 2014 running back this week, Jonathan Hilliman from St. Peter's Prep in New Jersey. Hilliman already holds offers from Boston College, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon, Rutgers, and Penn State; you can check out Aquaman's post-offer interview with him here.
Quickly: Michigan is in the top eight ($, info in header) for PA ATH Chavas Rawlins, a quarterback being recruited by the Wolverines as a wide receiver. Michigan hasn't yet offered Rawlins. Free Rivals article on 2014 DE Da'Shawn Hand, potentially the #1 rising junior in the country, who already holds a Michigan offer.
Morris Bounces Back at NLA 7-on-7
Shane Morris and the MaxEx Detroit squad headed to Pittsburgh for the NLA 7-on-7 tournament, making it to the semifinals before being upset by the Michigan Elite Red team. 247's Barton Simmons ranked Morris as the #2 performer of the weekend, only behind IN LB Jaylon Smith:
Dealing with the elements of Saturday during pool play, Morris had his ups and downs like the rest of the quarterbacks at the event but when Sunday rolled around and the stakes were raised to “lose and you go home”, Morris picked his game up noticeably.
Granted, there were no rushers bearing down on him, but you’re not going to find a more calm and collected demeanor in the pocket than Morris. He has good touch, the ability to change speeds effectively and great confidence in his arm. Morris continued to look like one of the nation’s top arms on Sunday.
Simmons also had Jourdan Lewis as his #9 weekend performer, noting that he was one of the "best pure athletes" in the competition.
While only 247 has released team rankings among the four recruiting services (Michigan is #1), two other publications—MaxPreps and the Sporting News—came out with 2013 team rankings this week. Not surprisingly, Michigan tops the list on both. Here's the take at MaxPreps:
The owner of the nation's new No. 1 class, Michigan is seemingly unstoppable on the recruiting front. The Wolverines boast more depth, diversity and talent than any other class. The class features six Top 100 players among its 17 commits, the most in the country. Amazingly it stands to add even more to its riches, as Laquon Treadwell and Ty Isaac both could land in Ann Arbor while E.J. Levenberry and Kendall Fuller remain possibilities on the defensive side of the ball. McDowell will be a national recruit on the defensive line next year. Expect Michigan to target possible 2014 No. 1 Da'Shawn Hand as well, as the Wolverines have established a firm presence in the Northern Virginia area and could prove to be a factor.
The Sporting News has a similarly glowing assessment.
Quickly: Andy Staples analyzes the NFL mock draft based on recruiting rankings, reminding you that yes, they very much matter. Chantel Jennings on Michigan gunning for the top-ranked class in 2013 ($).
Today's recruiting roundup discusses E.J. Levenberry's impending announcement, the status of Su'a Cravens, a big-time new 2014 offer, and much more.
Levenberry Announcement Set for Tuesday
VA LB E.J. Levenberry has long been one of the top targets on Michigan's board, with the coaching staff holding open a spot for him despite turning away several top-flight linebackers recently. Come Tuesday at 3 pm, we'll find out if he's using that spot, as Levenberry will make his choice between Michigan and Florida State. The tea leaves are difficult to read on this one. Rivals national analyst Mike Farrell has long maintained that the Seminoles held the lead, but after Levenberry's visit for the Spring Game weekend, he's backing off a bit from that stance. Scout's Kristen Kenney caught up this week with E.J.'s father ($), who says it's currently "dead even" between the two schools. The latest Michigan visit did make a big impact, however:
"Brady Hoke is building something special at Michigan. The coaching staff there is like regular people. It's a family place, and that stood out to us. Put it this way, we were at the spring game and 400 or more guys who used to play for the school came back to the game. That speaks volumes as to what that program means to people."
By all accounts, this will be a toss-up. We'll find out next week if Michigan can add another four-star linebacker to the fold.
Another blue-chip defender also set an announcement date this week, though Michigan's chances look less strong in this case. CA S Su'a Cravens posted on Twitter that he'll make his choice on June 6th, his mom's birthday (awww). After entire minutes of fretting that Cravens has yet to visit Michigan, the five-star safety also posted that he'll take unofficial visits before his decision; though he's declined to name the schools he'll visit, the Wolverines presumably would get a trip. Still, given that he's already got a date in mind, it's logical to think that he's also got a school in mind; the general consensus is that school is USC. Cravens recently told Scout's Brandon Huffman($) about interest in Alabama and intended trips to Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio State, so those schools appear to comprise his final group along with the Trojans and UCLA. Unless he has a game-changing visit to Ann Arbor—not out of the question with this staff—I'd presume Cravens will stay in-state.
Xxplosive/West Coast... Er, Receiver
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on CA WR Sebastian Larue, who's emerged as one of the team's top targets at wideout. Larue states in the article that he currently has no favorites, but would "definitely" like to visit Michigan; he also has family from Flint, which gives the Wolverines a nice in. Brandon Huffman also provides a scouting report:
"He very well could be the most explosive pass catcher in the region," said Scout.com West regional manager Brandon Huffman. "He's a true game-breaker at receiver and kick and punt returns, and is electric in the open field. He's the kind of athlete capable of catching a little 5-yard hitch, making five or six guys miss, and taking it to the house. He has strong hands and is not just a deep threat; he's a polished and smooth route runner who knows how to get open."
Speaking of receivers, IL WR Laquon Treadwell spoke with Webb about his Spring Game visit ($), and while most presumed this was the case, it's always nice to get confirmation:
To date Treadwell hasn’t settled on a list of favorites nor has he determined which schools he plans to officially with possible exception. Will Ann Arbor be one of his destinations?
“Yeah, I think so,” he replied.
Meanwhile, five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller told Scout's Kristen Kenney($) that Michigan "felt like a second home," in large part because of his relationship with former Good Counsel teammate Blake Countess. It's still an uphill battle for Fuller with his two older brothers having played at Virginia Tech, but it looks like the Wolverines have a realistic shot, which I wouldn't have said two weeks ago.
247's Steve Wiltfong tweeted that IL RB Ty Isaac will not visit any more schools this spring. I'd take that as a positive, since Isaac has visited Michigan multiple times and seems to be growing weary of the recruiting process. If he were to decide without taking any more visits, the Wolverines would be the prohibitive favorites.
In 2014 news, Michigan offered 6'2", 225-pound SC ATH K.C. Crosby, who already holds over 20 BCS offers and projects to be one of the top recruits in his class. Crosby projects to either linebacker or tight end, and 247's Clint Brewster reports that Michigan hasn't stated which position they're recruiting Crosby to play ($).
Shane Morris Feature and MOAR Four-Stars
ESPN released this Elite11 video feature on Shane Morris:
Yes, Shane can dunk (a football in this case, though he says he can dunk a basketball as well); we also get some good insight from the Elite11 coaches, who love Morris's arm strength but want to see him dial it back a bit on the shorter routes.
ESPN wasn't the only recruiting service to update their rankings recently, as both Scout and 247 did a little reshuffling of their top lists. The Scout 300 barely changed, as you can see on TTB, though three players—Jourdan Lewis, Gareon Conley, and Jaron Dukes—got bumped up to four stars.
247 made some changes to their Top247, and while most were relatively minor, five Ohio prospects entered the list. Three of those five are Michigan commits: Ben Gedeon (#171), DeVeon Smith (#230), and Conley (#236). Smith and Conley both seem to be rising in the eyes of scouts, especially Conley, who's picked up four-star ratings from the last three services to update (Scout, ESPN, and now 247, with Rivals being the lone holdout).
After those updates, 15 of Michigan's 17 commits now are four-star or higher on at least three of the four recruiting services. Khalid Hill is now the only commit you can justifiably categorize as a sleeper now that Dukes is a four-star on two sites.
Joe Mathis In Play
comes with your choice of hairstyles. gotta catch 'em all!
CA DE Joe Mathis (not that Joe Mathis) has long been presumed a USC lean, but after his on-again-off-again unofficial to Michigan actually came off on Friday he's talking very highly about the Wolverines. He went so far as to name Michigan his leader:
With a day to sleep on it, Joe Mathis tells me Michigan is his leader following yesterday's visit. Currently hanging out Khalid Hill and David Dawson.
Sam Webb [note all tweets have been translated from the twitterese as per usual]:
Joe Mathis said he got chills walking down the tunnel at Michigan Stadium yesterday. Mathis also said Michigan will be in his top 5 and he guaranteed an official visit to Ann Arbor in the fall.
Michigan OL commit David Dawson said he can't wait to get at Mathis on the field today, but will really recruit him off of it.
"It was beautiful. I really enjoyed myself since it was so nice," said Mathis. "I went down the tunnel (at the Big House) and got chills. It was crazy."
Though recruits typically are high on a school following a visit, there was no denying Mathis' enthusiasm for the program after getting to see it up close and personal. He did not commit over the weekend but certainly came close and had no trouble figuring out where the Wolverines fit into his list of top schools.
"I was going to (commit) but I said that would be selfish because I didn't see other schools," he said. "Michigan is number one on my list. I don't have a top five, it's Michigan and that's it. I did have a top five with USC but I was like, that's selfish of me because I didn't see other schools. Coming out here, my mom was saying it was going to be too cold out here but this is me. I love the coaches and this is me out here."
Mathis added that the visit was much better than recent unofficial trips to USC and UCLA as well.
Usual disclaimers about a long way to go apply. Mathis might be one of those kids who gets excited about everybody—he's already committed to and decommitted from($) Washington. Mathis is likely to back off in a couple weeks when USC/whoever guys get ahold of him and maintain neutrality into the fall. He's already told GBW($) that he doesn't have a top five yet but that when he names one Michigan will be on it, which is a bit less thrilling.
If Mathis continues to state Michigan as his leader over the next month, that is legit and it's time to get excited. He would be an excellent pickup as an SDE/three-tech—Mattison told him he'd be Michigan's Terrell Suggs—and could help corral five star safety/athlete Su'a Cravens, his cousin. Mathis and Cravens have already announced they will take a joint official visit to Michigan this fall.
Shane Morris and Jourdan Lewis via TomVH.
Lewis, Dawson Stock: Rising
Ann Arbor's Concordia College hosted the Adidas Invitational (formerly known as Best of the Midwest, FWIW) over the weekend. Every recruiting service was there, as were a ton of Michigan commits and targets: Shane Morris, David Dawson, Joe Mathis, Malik McDowell, Kyle Bosch (just observing), and a bunch of rising juniors trying to get pub for 2014.
Aside from the Mathis stuff, the most notable developments over the weekened were strong performances from MI OL commit David Dawson and MI CB commit Jourdan Lewis. Dawson impressed with his weight—he's down to a svelte 280—and strength:
Michigan Top247 commit David Dawson dominates Joe Mathis in tire tug a war. Strong legs. Powerful. Dawson proved it was no fluke dominating Mathis again.
Mathis got the better of Dawson in a 1 v 1 later, FWIW. Since he's ticketed for guard I'll take that tradeoff. BONUS DAWSON-MATHIS TUG OF WAR TANTALIZING TIDBIT:
Joe Mathis and David Dawson just did a tug of war that Dawson won. One of the kids here said "you're gonna be on the same team anyway"
That's from Allen Trieu.
Lewis was even more impressive on both sides of the ball, blanketing a couple of high level receivers—ND commit James Onwualu and Big Ten-bound Kevin Gladney most prominently—at cornerback while impressing at receiver himself. Bryan Fischer:
Detroit (Mich.) cornerback Jourdan Lewis was Morris' favorite target as the versatile athlete played running back, wide receiver and defensive back in an impressive showing. He showed enough to be one of the top offensive and defensive players after several nifty catches on both sides of the ball, including a very nice snag along the sidelines with a defender draped all over him while running a route.
When Onwualu managed to beat Lewis deep it was enough of a rarity to draw comment. That's a good weekend. Multiple observers named Lewis one of the top two performers at the camp along with IN LB Jaylon Smith, who Michigan is unfortunately going to have to face at either OSU or ND. Josh Helmholdt didn't do so explicitly but in Rivals' (free) recap of the Invitational it's again Smith and Lewis getting top billing.
Lewis seems in line for a bump to consensus-four-star territory. Dawson should maintain his current rankings, but it seems like recruiting sites are now looking at him as a guard. That will hamper moves further upward.
Malik McDowell Eager To Commit To… Someone
Everyone's after 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell early and for good reason: he is a 6'6", 260-275 pound monster with Michigan and Ohio State offers already and his plan is to make a decision during his junior year. Get to it or miss out. Here's McDowell talking to ESPN's Chantel Jennings:
I'm surprised they can get Jennings in the same frame with that guy.
Anyway, the key passage in that video comes after Jennings asks McDowell why he'd like to get the decision out of the way so early:
MCDOWELL: It's really my dad, he said that he can't commit until my junior year.
JENNINGS: If it was up to you, you'd commit earlier?
MCDOWELL: Yeah, to a school that I would really like to go to.
JENNINGS: Any idea what that school would be?
MCDOWELL: Um… no.
Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more. McDowell grew up a Michigan fan and an early decision usually goes in favor of the team he's most comfortable with. AFAIK he's only taken unofficials to Michigan so far. He does plan on taking in spring games at Michigan and Michigan State.
Miscellaneous Invitation Bits
MI QB Shane Morris showed up and was Shane Morris:
The 6-3, 190-pound lefty ... bounced back from an up-and-down performance at the Dallas Elite 11 tryout in a big way. His arm strength is well-known, but his accuracy was picture-perfect the entire afternoon, and he showed more ability to put touch on passes than he has at times in the past. Although it seems unlikely, Morris might have raised his stock even higher than it already was.
The accuracy issues that Morris dealt with at the Dallas Elite 11 camp did not recur.
The top 2013 sleeper($) to come out of the camp was OH LB Jerome Lane, a 6'3", 217 pound kid out of Akron who seems destined for outside linebacker in college. He clocked an impressive 4.47 and caught everyone's eye. He's planning to hit up a bunch of school camps over the summer and see what happens. If things fall through with EJ Levenberry (about whom more below) he could be a guy to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile, Dawson said he thought IL OL commit Logan Tuley-Tillman was a "done deal" to transfer to Cass Tech but Cass HC Thomas Wilcher threw cold water on that by saying he is "not optimistic." Cass is a magnet school but they can only recruit within the Detroit school system, so if Tuley-Tillman moves closer to Ann Arbor the Technicians won't be an option.
In news about uncommitted guys, Shane Morris said his "top recruiting priority" is IL RB Ty Isaac and "he thinks things are going well."
Morris and Dawson finished 1-2 on Helmholdt's list of top offensive performers($) at Adidas. 2015 Cass QB Jayru Campbell was 8th, "one of the most consistently accurate" passers on the day and better than 2014 Chance Stewart, 10th. Lewis is second on his defensive list with Mathis 4th, McDowell 5th, and Cass DT Kenton Gibbs 7th. Smith took top honors and a sleeper CB out of Fort Wayne named Tyvel Jemison was the interloper at third. Gibbs seems to be making a move($):
This was the best single performance we have seen from Gibbs in more than a half dozen times seeing him. The 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle was quick and powerful in the one-on-ones and played with more discipline than we had seen from him in the past. He found it easy going in the one-on-ones, handing offensive lineman after offensive lineman defeats. Gibbs has always had the potential, and he now appears closer to realizing it.
He'll be the number one guy to watch for an offer at Michigan's summer camp.
And an important update on a 2015 recruit from TomVH($):
QB Jay'ru Campbell's hair is feathered and lethal.
Devon Allen: Fast
Zoom! Note that he is finishing in front of a dude with dreadlocks.
AZ WR Devon Allen is a name that keeps popping up, and for good reason:
Devon Allen of Brophy College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) is Superman.
What else can you call the junior who dazzled the standing room only crowd at the 45th Arcadia Invitational after he won a total of five gold medals — four in a four-hour span Saturday night?
All he did was set state records in winning the 110-meter high hurdles in 13.52 seconds and the 300-meter intermediates in 36.39, capture the 200 dash by the slimmest of margins at 21.10 — all this after warming up by running a leg on the Broncos' 4x100 relay team that clocked a glittering 41.15.
Those hurdles numbers are second nationally this year. The last guy to win three events at the Arcadia Invitational—described by ESPN as "the country's biggest in-season high school track meet"—was Xavier Carter, who you may remember as a five-star LSU recruit who ditched football to run track professionally. Devon Allen is fast.
Michigan has an offer out to him as a receiver. If he commits prepare for the perpetual, not-very-accurate Ed McCaffery comparisons.
Not In The Barn Yet
Michigan fans have been expecting a commit from EJ Levenberry for a while now, with his visit to this weekend's spring game the expected point in time. Get out your Lee Corso head because not so fast, my friend($):
Virginia linebacker E.J. Levenberry Jr. spent a week in Tallahassee to learn more about Florida State.
Even if that was a spring break diversion, I don't think I've ever heard of a week-long visit. In that article Levenberry says his time down there "helped FSU a lot" and that they're now tied with Michigan at the top of his leaderboard. That actually seems good since the full-court press with FSU couldn't vault them into the lead.
Levenberry's still coming up this weekend and has no set decision date. According to the article, it "may happen in the summer." If Levenberry escapes Ann Arbor without making a commitment it's time to consider him a guy who Michigan may get instead of will get.
Ohio State is backing off PA WR Robert Foster, one of the top ten kids in the country, for off-field reasons. This should clear up why Michigan didn't so much as bat its eyes at a five star at a position of need inside the footprint. OSU insider types are also not very confident about their chances with MD DT Henry Poggi, which would leave Michigan alone atop his leaderboard if accurate.
NJ DT Greg Webb commits to Penn State, another good get for BOB and another step away from the Ten Year War II meme—PSU is just about keeping pace with Michigan and OSU so far. That one hurts Michigan because he seemed like their best shot at a highly-rated NT. At least he went to PSU instead of OSU. Kenton Gibbs is happy with that development. He'll camp in an effort to get that NT scholarship.
2014 MO OL Andy Bauer is Michigan's first miss in that recruiting class. He's off the board to Missouri. I suspect Michigan will survive.
OH WR Kevin Gladney was calling Michigan a slight leader a month or so ago but omitted all mention of Michigan($) in a recent a interview with Trieu. He does mention visits to Nebraska and MSU plus interest in OSU despite a lack of interest. Writing is on the wall there.
Michigan was never after MI OL Cameron Dillard but since he just committed to Florida now seems like a good time to note that there must be a dearth of linemen in the South for Michigan to be going up against Alabama so often for their OL and for Florida(!) to offer MI OL/DL Poet Thomas before anyone other than EMU and pick up Dillard… who didn't even have an MSU offer. Instead MSU grabbed a guy from Texas. Very strange.
Dillard is the first Michigan player to leave the state for an SEC power without even token resistance from the in-state schools… ever? It might be ever. Certainly since I've been following recruiting.
Finally, DC CB Devin Butler committed to ND over PSU and M. I'm not sure Michigan has room (or need) for a third corner in the class anyway.
Michigan offers HI DT Scott Pagano, who wants to decide by August 10th. That's a hell of an unofficial visit schedule if true.
Ed-Ace: Michigan handed out two other offers recently. OH CB Ross Douglas, a Penn State commit who previously visited Ann Arbor without an offer, now has one in hand. With Butler and Tre Bell committing elsewhere, it's possible the Douglas offer is a sign that the coaches still want a third corner in the class if there's room. The coaches also offered 2014 NC OL Bentley Spain, joining North Carolina, N.C. State, and South Carolina.
Tom Lemming also released his initial 2013 top 100, and Magnus has the full breakdown over at TTB.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps Shane Morris's Elite11 regional camp appearance, talks Ty Isaac (what else is new?), and goes over past and future visits.
Shane's Bad Day > Your Bad Day
Shane Morris attended the Dallas Elite11 regional camp last weekend, getting tips from guys like Trent Dilfer and Tony Romo while hoping to lock up one of the coveted invitations to the Elite11 finals. Review of Morris were mixed but mostly positive, and this clearly wasn't good enough for Michigan's quarterback commit, who told ESPN he needs to work on "everything" (also, any idea why Morris is randomly wearing stunner shades for the second throw in this clip?):
While Morris was disappointed to not earn the finals invitation (more quotes in a free ESPN article here), he'll get another crack in Columbus on May 4th, and he still flashed the ability that has made him a potential five-star. Rivals.com's Brian Perroni listed Morris at #5 among his top performers, noting arm strength as his biggest positive ($):
The Michigan pledge made his presence known early by coming in decked out in Wolverine gear. There was a lot of anticipation as people wanted to see the nation's No. 16 overall prospect in person after he traveled a long way to compete. A lefty, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Morris had the best velocity on his ball of any quarterback in attendance and made some very good deep throws as well. His accuracy was a bit off at times but nothing too concerning.
Scout's Greg Powers had a similar take, saying Morris had some great throws and not-so-great throws but "definitely [had] his wow moments," in turning in a "very solid showing" ($). Morris was disappointed, yes, but he also has very high standards for himself. That's by no means a bad thing.
Morris didn't provide the only recruiting action of the weekend, as Michigan hosted several prospects for unofficial visits. The top 2013 target on campus was Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who's in the midst of a long string of Midwest visits but took the time to tell 247 that Michigan "seemed like a great place to be as a football player, as a student and a young man" ($). Several Cass Tech targets spanning three classes also made the trip. '13 DT Kenton Gibbs caught up with Will Campbell and also said that Michigan's coaches want to see him at their summer camp before extending an offer ($). '14 LB William White was impressed by what he saw from the linebackers in spring drills ($), while '14 RB/DB Johnny Miggins and '15 QB Jayru Campbell also enjoyed the visit ($). '14 WR Damon Webb was also on campus along with several other Cass Tech players.
Isaac Watch, Future Visits, Etc.
Ty Isaac has returned from his trip to USC, the school that poses perhaps the biggest threat to Michigan in his recruitment, so it's time to read far too much into some post-trip quotes. They are... meh ($):
"There were really no set expectations, it was just a good visit," Isaac said. "It was nothing that I wasn't expecting. I got to see things and talk to coaches."
"I got to see things," is my new favorite non-answer from a recruit. It certainly doesn't sound like Isaac, who was accompanied by his father, was blown away by the trip. He says he's now going to "chill for awhile" before making any kind of decision about his future, and he's not tipping his hand, though he said his top schools "know who they are."
Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen is one of the top receivers on the board for Michigan, and his recent athletic exploits reveal a major reason why that is the case: Allen just broke a 32-year-old Arizona state record in the 110-meter hurdles, running a 13.62 to edge out the old mark by .07 seconds. He was also just three-hundreths of a second from breaking the 300-meter hurdles state record, as well. Allen starts his spring break next week, and he plans on taking a trip to the Midwest, where Michigan is one of several schools in the running for a visit ($).
One player taking a visit this weekend is Solon (OH) CB Darian Hicks, who already holds 11 offers but is hoping to add Michigan to the list when he comes to campus on Friday ($). Brookfield (WI) Central DE Chikwe Obasih will swing by Ann Arbor between April 12th and 14th—he'll also visit MSU and Illinois during those days, and hasn't set the order yet ($).
Two players have stated their intention to take one of their official visits to Ann Arbor. Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls—at 6'5", 265 lbs., likely a DT/SDE recruit for Michigan—is one, having built a strong relationship with coach Dan Ferrigno ($). The other is Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, whose coach says Michigan "might be recruiting Rod the hardest out of anyone" ($). Crayton plans to take a second unofficial visit for a game this fall, then use an official visit after his season.
Happy trails to two offensive linemen, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin, who both committed to Notre Dame over the weekend. Both held Michigan offers but were told, like all uncommitted OL, that the Wolverines are full along the O-line.
Quickly: Taco Charlton's Pickerington Central squad defeated Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer, 45-40, in the Ohio Division I basketball state title game. Chantel Jennings gives a progress report on the 2013 class, including quotes from current commits on what the coaches like about them ($).
Shane, Dennis. Dennis, Shane. Shane Morris isn't just getting to know unsigned recruits. He evidently showed at Detroit King's latest basketball game looking… not from around here:
Slice o' life, that. This was apparently part of a thing where the De La Salle kids showed up looking like farmers and chanted the usual private school things at a public school. This was uncomfortable because in this case they're all black and the other kids are all white. Commence newspaper hand-wringing.
It's been a long time. Wolverine Historian posts video of the last Michigan basketball team to win the Big Ten. There's no three point line.
Also the shorts being worn are hip-huggers. It's been a long time.
Just don't even try. Cleveland alt-weekly explores the fetid underbelly of American sports fandom that is the Bucknut. Spencer Hall is tapped for a take:
It was in January of 2008 that sports blogger Spencer Hall found himself sitting amid a thicket of OSU fans at the BCS National Championship Game in New Orleans, with No. 1 Ohio State squaring off against No. 2 Louisiana State. In the first half, LSU's All-American safety Craig Steltz went down with a shoulder injury. About ten OSU fans surrounding Hall stood up in unison, with their index and middle fingers bent together into a mushed "O" shape.
Hall figured he knew what was up, but he asked what the gesture meant anyway. A nearby fan grabbed his fingers together into the shape.
"Pussy," he said.
The pussies went on to win, 38-24.
"It's really hard to get over the anecdotal evidence," Hall says today. He writes about college football for SB Nation, a gig that lets him see up close each big program's fan base — and the stereotypes rivals throw at one another. He's mocked up a vivid profile of the Buckeye Everyman.
"It's everything negative and easily mockable about the Midwest compressed in a single entity," he deadpans. And it's more than just a vibe. The classic Bucknut has a defining set of traits all his own.
"The stereotype is angry, probably has a goatee, probably watches MMA and wrestling on the side, may live with his mother — may. And also, he's perpetually defensive about Ohio State's struggles.
"They wear jerseys," he adds. "People don't wear the jersey in the SEC. It's not something adults do.
The men who poop in coolers, or tackle handicapped dudes, or make Grant Bowman's mom have a close personal understanding of the men at the Alamo, or… like… are the president and athletic director and local newspaper. Apparently the Dispatch published Kirk Herbstreit's address and a map to his home in 2009. Well done, pretend newspaper.
The article is long and ruthless. Read it.
Denard plans on being a quarterback. Good to know. Borges on how Denard needs to improve:
"We should see it with the timing of his throws and him having a better grasp of route structures, audibles and protection checks," Borges said. "He'll also improve with decision-making, knowing when to throw it away and when not to run. And if he can get better with his footwork issues in the pocket, it should reduce interceptions and increase his completion percentage."
Also the not chucking it to double-covered guys. Also that.
Just like everything else. Shaw Lane Spartans analyzes Rivals rankings and finds that the everyone's-a-winner mentality is beginning to pervade them as well:
The quality of the “average” Big Ten prospect increased from an average of 2.80 in 2002 to 3.04 in 2012. Since NO ONE who gets a scholarship offer and gets signed before the rankings are done gets a zero star ranking, I derived the 30 percent number above as (1.04-.8). Even without that, the increase from 2.8 to 3.04 is still a nine percent increase. Meaning on average according to the star rankings, the average Big Ten player is 9 to 30 percent better than they were in 2002.
The gradual nature of the move suggests it's not a philosophical change, and it certainly doesn't seem like the conference is bringing in more and more high-level recruits relative to the rest of the country. In fact, the entire Big Ten fanbase on Rivals spent last year complaining that no one in the region was ranked because the company wasn't even bothering to employ a Midwest analyst. Only two Big Ten schools cracked the Rivals top 25—the obvious ones—as Penn State saw its class implode. If anything last year was probably the worst year for Big Ten recruiting in the sample; it saw the highest-rated kids.
Rivals four-stars jumped from 244 in 2004 to 320 last year; three stars more than doubled from 660 to 1513. Increasingly Rivals is abdicating on making calls at the lower end of things and just throwing everyone in the same three-star bin.
North Carolina bit. They got a slightly inflated OSU penalty: one year postseason ban, fifteen scholarships over five years. So much for this new era of tough NCAA sanctions. USC's complaints that the NCAA was just "jealous" look less and less ridiculous with every passing case.
Andy Staples lays out the case that for people who don't care about the ethical implications of following the NCAA amateurism guidelines, the cost-benefit analysis is easy:
A program can spit all over the NCAA rule book in an effort to reach or remain at the highest echelon of college football, and as long as that program cooperates with the NCAA during the investigation of its alleged "crimes," the Committee on Infractions will respond with a suite of penalties that contain far more bark than bite. …
For a case that involved academic fraud and players taking money and goodies from agents, North Carolina will lose 15 scholarships over three years and will be banned from postseason play for the 2012 season. Former assistant coach John Blake, who was accused of steering players to agent Gary Wichard in exchange for payment, was given a three-year show-cause order that bans him from recruiting. That essentially renders Blake unemployable at the college level.
Meanwhile, former UNC safety Deunta Williams flat-out accused the SEC of paying people. If he can prove it, someone's getting a one-year bowl ban. This is why people use the #smh hashtag. I understand now.
Carrick: undervalued. 2012 hockey D commit Connor Carrick is not high on draft boards. Scouts still say things like this about him consistently, though:
The scout also mentioned that little heralded and often overlooked defensemen Connor Carrick and Matthew Grzlecyk are deserving of late-round picks.
On Carrick: “He’ll probably be a late pick. He’s thick, he moves the puck well, he has offensive instincts, he can shoot it. He has some holes away from the puck.” The scout also said he thinks another year of development in college (he’s committed to Michigan) could go a long way, but feels Carrick’s the type of guy that can step in and contribute immediately on a college team.
Think a bigger version of Langlais, something the team really needs on the power play. Depending on how NHL signings go he could be a third pairing luxury or a guy Michigan really needs to step up immediately. Michigan could really use a big step forward from Serville over the offseason.
Etc.: Shaw Lane Spartans examines MSU's weird unbalanced thing they tried with minimal success last year. Parts three and four of Phil Birnbaum's analysis of David Berri's work. Conclusion: David Berri does not know what sample size is. Hokefluff from Orlando. Burke is a second-team All American to CBS Sports. The CCHA named him third-team All Crisler Arena. Big Ten matchups today.
Basketball: really as good as all that?
Now, it doesn't matter for the Big Ten regular season...it is what it is, we went 13-5, and earned a share of the title. But what does it mean for the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA?
Ask yourself this question when it comes to evaluating the Michigan season...was it a solid 13-5 or a weak 13-5? Was it a 13-5 that with a few breaks was 15-3? Or was it a 13-5 with a bunch of breaks that could have easily been 10-8? Which of those is more representative of the basketball we saw this year? Death from above in the two tournaments?
Northwestern looms. Twice we played them. Twice we went overtime with them. Could have lost both. Didn't. Positives to be sure. But who shows up come Friday? …
To me, happy we share the title. Not convinced at this point we are as good as either of those other two teams. Proud of the heart, proud of the overall result. Concerned about the two tourneys.
Bluntly, Michigan was not as good as either of the two teams they tied with. You can see that in the efficiency margins:
W-L Pace PPP Opp. PPP EM 1. Ohio St. 13-5 65.4 1.10 0.93 +0.17 2. Michigan St. 13-5 62.5 1.08 0.92 +0.16 3. Wisconsin 12-6 58.0 1.03 0.97 +0.06 4. Michigan 13-5 58.9 1.06 1.01 +0.05 5. Indiana 11-7 65.4 1.11 1.06 +0.05 6. Purdue 10-8 64.0 1.10 1.09 +0.01 7. Northwestern 8-10 61.0 1.08 1.12 -0.04 8. Minnesota 6-12 62.6 1.00 1.04 -0.04 9. Iowa 8-10 65.8 1.03 1.09 -0.06 10. Illinois 6-12 63.7 0.97 1.05 -0.08 11. Penn St. 4-14 62.3 0.97 1.10 -0.13 12. Nebraska 4-14 61.9 0.93 1.09 -0.16
Kenpom will confirm that for you: it has MSU and OSU #2 and #3 behind Kentucky with Michigan idling at 20.
Meanwhile, going 13-5 would not have netted Michigan a title in any other year since the Big Ten went back to 18 games. Most years they wouldn't even be within a game. There's no denying they were fortunate to end up where they are now. Michigan lost one close Big Ten game (@ Indiana, 73-71) and won four to six (NW x 2, MSU, Purdue, maybe Minnesota and OSU depending on how you feel about five-point games). You can grub grub grub about will to win and finding ways to win and winning is for winners; I don't buy that stuff.
In terms of efficiency margin and Kenpom rankings, Michigan is about where we'd hoped they'd be before the season: slightly improved despite the loss of Darius Morris, short of truly contending for a conference title. In terms of wins they're a three seed and a Big Ten champ.
I don't say this to bring anyone down. It's wonderful. For this team to accomplish what they have is fantastic, and at this point anything after winning a 3-14 matchup in the first round is gravy.
I do think they'll be a particularly vulnerable three, though, and won't be surprised to see them flame out in the second round*. I also won't let that damage the wonderful run they went on to erase a lot of bad streaks. From a logical perspective I get the "concern"; from an emotional perspective it went from 90% house money to 110% as soon as Buford hit that shot. The worst that happens is Michigan State fans say "see you weren't really a Big Ten champ." This will not prevent the banner from going up.
*[I'm not predicting that by any means. Michigan gave Duke all they wanted last year and a hypothetical second-round opponent will be much worse than the Blue Devils were last year. Beilein is a consistent outperformer when he reaches the tourney.
HOWEVA, I do loathe the prospect of drawing a couple of the current six-seeds in Jerry Palm's bracket. They are all dangerous mid-majors: UNLV, New Mexico, Wichita State, and St. Mary's. In Kenpom's eyes that's two teams better than Michigan (Wichita, New Mexico) and two who are a dozen or so spots worse (UNLV, St. Mary's).
You may remember the Dohrmann UCLA article mentioning the success of a couple transfers out of the program: that's basically UNLV. Chace Stanback is a 6'8" guy hitting 47% from three; Mike Moser is a 6'8" guy in the top ten in defensive rebounding with high usage and an inside-out game.
I find Palm's fives a lot more palatable: Louisville (#30 Kenpom), FSU (#28), SDSU (#51), and Creighton(#35). No matter what I expect a second-round nailbiter.]
The golden child's effect on the OL.
Brian or Ace or Anybody;
I am confused, when talking about o-line prospects in the 2012 or 2013 class, some say "Fox makes an ideal RT" or "LT-T is the prototype Left Tackle.". Is the fact that Shane "Obama circa 2008" Morris is a southpaw baked into the projections as to who plays where on the OL? Wouldn't the proto LT be moved to RT for a lefty QB, or no?
Are you and your Bloggy ilk keeping this in mind, does it make a difference for a lefty qb?
I don't think it matters much. Many players at Michigan and elsewhere have flipped from right to left tackle without a problem; when Morris becomes the starter Michigan will put their best pass protector at right tackle and he'll adjust over the course of an offseason. Jake Long switched from right to left after his first year as a starter; Mike Schofield was pressed into service as a left guard after practicing mostly at tackle and did fine.
There might be some slight issues if Morris is either in (because of Gardner injury) or out (because of a Morris injury) of the lineup unexpectedly. In that case you probably wouldn't want to screw up the line's performance by flipping them mid-game and will be exposing either Morris's or his backup's blind side to slightly worse protection. That's life.
Even if that happens it doesn't look like there's going to be a huge difference between the starting tackles at any point in the near future. Whoever the #2 guy is will have beaten out an array of 6'5"-6'7" blue chips. This is not going to be Jake Long opposite Rueben Riley. It's going to be Almost Jake Long opposite Decent Approximation Of Jake Long.
MANBALL concerns revisited.
I WANT YOU TO JOIN UP
ALL OF YOU
THAT WAS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE
You have argued over the past several years that you think Michigan will be at a talent disadvantage compared to teams like Ohio and SEC oversigners like Alabama, so long as the status quo persists. You've also argued that, schematically, the best way to deal with this deficit is the spread offense. I am curious if you think Hoke (and Borges) can build an offense in their mold that can truly compete on the national stage. What do you think it will take in terms of recruiting and scheme to be a legitimate contender for the national championship? Do you think that we have the ability to recruit the offensive talent we need to contend for a national title? Or is it perhaps too early to tell?
Obviously an elite defense, which I think we are building, mitigates the need for an elite offense, but recent BCS title games have demonstrated that you can't rely on just defense to win that game. Ultimately I am asking what combination of scheme and talent you think we need to achieve in order to win the national championship.
All the best,
My concerns about Michigan's ceiling have been blown away by Hoke's early recruiting returns. If Michigan is bringing in top five classes consistently—Hoke's already two for two a month into his second class—and is approaching games with the controlled aggression that Hoke, Mattison, and Borges displayed in their first year, there is no reason they can't run a conventional offense and compete for national titles.
When you have a huge talent advantage or are Wisconsin you can line up and beat heads in: top ten FEI offenses* this year include Wisconsin, Stanford, and USC. Alabama was #11. All you need to replicate that is a ton of NFL guys on the line, an NFL quarterback, and some NFL skill guys. Check, check, well… we'll see.
I get the vibe from your email that you're a bit skeptical of Michigan's skill position recruiting. I think that's premature. Shane Morris is a Henne-level QB recruit. Michigan did pick up a consensus four-star in Amara Darboh at WR and came close to flipping Brionte Dunn; this year they've got a top 100 tight end (for now, anyway—Butt will probably fall into the 100-200 range as the year progresses) and seem to lead for a couple five-star types in Ty Isaac and LaQuon Treadwell. If Hoke lands those guys Michigan's weak spot in the 2012 and 2013 classes is…
…uh… cornerback? For now, anyway.
Even if one of those two guys escapes we're still 11 months from Signing Day; more targets will emerge. It seems like Michigan's going to be able to focus a lot of attention on any holes they have in the class come, oh, May.
My main concern with Michigan's scheme going forward is a potential over-reliance on a fullback. It seems like most pro-styles have moved to double TE sets. See this Chris Brown article on Alabama's very MANBALL, very NC-worthy offense. I hope that's where Michigan's going, too. Tight ends threaten defenses vertically in a way that fullbacks do not; they're better athletes, generally, and better targets for downfield passes. Fullbacks… eh.
I think this is also where Michigan's going. Their TE recruiting is massive—they're looking for a fifth in two years—and there's clear distinction between guys like Jake Butt and Khalid Hill, a 6'2", 230 pound guy designated a "U-back" or "move tight end" according to TomVH.
So, like, whatever. My beefs 14 months into the Hoke era are "that one punt against Illinois" and "taking a scholarship fullback." Oh, and the complete implosion of the offense in a couple games. But that's not a long term issue.
Hoke has dumped game-changer after game-changer on us since his hire to the point where the internet is making memes like this…
Ben Gedeon's visiting, you say?
…if we're feeling for a ceiling it's a bit hard to find right now. One will probably come, but there's no reason to go looking for it just yet.
*[I know FEI put up some weird results this year what with Navy and Miami in the top ten as well but it at least tries to account for strength of schedule and pace of play; FWIW, Stanford was 8th in total yardage, Wisconsin 14th, USC 21st, 'Bama 31st.
Also, as long as you're down here, how about Paul Chryst? I predict Wisconsin has a noticeable dropoff in his absence.]