that makes one of us
It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
And now, some specifics:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Offensive Line.
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest developments with the remaining 2013 prospects, the final Top247, Drake Harris opening up his recruitment, new 2014 offers, and more.
Done At O-Line, Unless You Count High School Freshman Derrick Green
After IN OL Dan Samuelson committed last weekend, it was unclear whether Michigan would continue recruiting offensive lineman or if they were set at six in the 2013 class. Now we have our answer:
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 16, 2013
That leaves Michigan seemingly down to two options for the last two spots in the class. The first is VA RB Derrick Green, one of many prospects (mostly 2014 recruits at this point) to receive an in-school visit from Michigan this week—in his case, Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson ($). Scout's Michael Clark penned a lengthy (and free) profile on Green, focusing on his rise from 268-pound freshman to nation's top running back [emphasis mine]:
Hermitage head coach Patrick Kane admitted he initially had his doubts about Green, who recently named Michigan as his leader, but is also still considering Auburn, Florida State, Miami,and Tennessee.
“The first time we saw him, he was eighth-grader and we were doing 7-on-7 (drills) and he came out and watched,” said Kane. “He was a little chunky at the time. He said what a lot of kids say -- I want to be a running back. We said OK, that’s fine. But in your mind, you’re thinking he’d probably be a good looking offensive guard.”
You know the story by now: Green cut down to 220 pounds and by his sophomore year was starting for Hermitage. Work ethic should not be an issue here.
Michigan's other main target is TX TE Durham Smythe, who also received a visit this week. 247's Jason Sapp caught up with Smythe to run down his five finalists—Michigan, Oregon, and Stanford lead the pack, with Nebraska and Notre Dame under consideration—and here's what he had to say about the Wolverines ($):
Michigan – “The biology/medial program at Michigan is among the best in the nation, and since that is what I want to study, that was something that draws me in about them. Also, the fact that they are making the switch to a two tight end, pro-style offense is attractive as well.”
Smythe says a decision will come on signing day or "a few days prior," and he's got visits lined up to Oregon and Michigan, with Nebraska and Notre Dame in the running for his final official.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of the final 2013 Top247, the latest on Drake Harris, and much more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's All-American games, high profile names emerging (or re-emerging) as targets, and a potentially wavering 2014 commit.
Spill The Beans, Green
Five-star linebacker Reuben Foster: visit on tap?
Michigan didn't land one of their remaining high-profile targets over the weekend when FL S Leon McQuay III committed to USC. They appear poised to get better news regarding VA RB Derrick Green, however—the nation's top running back has maintained Michigan as his leader in recent weeks and told Rivals($) after the Army All-American Game, "I know where I'm going." Green plans to announce sometime this month and it's safe to expect good news barring a sudden change of heart.
While USC snagged a Michigan target, it's possible the Wolverines return the favor after CA WR Sebastian LaRue decommitted from the Trojans; the four-star told 247's Clint Brewster that he plans to talk to Coach Ferrigno about a potential visit to Ann Arbor ($). LaRue currently has a visit to Notre Dame scheduled and is also looking at Miami, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
The Wolverines may also have suddenly found themselves in the mix for the nation's top linebacker recruit, Alabama prospect Reuben Foster, after he connected with commit Henry Poggi at the Under Armour game. Poggi reportedly alerted Foster to Michigan's potential interest and convinced him to get in touch with the coaches, and Foster looks to be following through, per Sam Webb ($):
Once Foster and Michigan begin having more conversations, the 6'1, 240 pounder says it’s likely he'll get up to Ann Arbor for a visit at some point before signing day.
"I don't know but the odds are pretty darn good cause I'm cool with [Poggi's] dad that I just met this week --- very cool with him," said Foster.
With a month to go until signing day, it's very late in the game to enter into the recruitment of such a high-profile player, but the former Auburn commit seems to have genuine interest. It's early yet to harbor serious hopes of a commitment, but if a visit materializes it would obviously be fantastic news for Michigan.
A more likely candidate for one of the final few spots is CA OL Cameron Hunt, who spent time with Michigan's contingent of commitments at the UA game. Hunt will take his official to Michigan next weekend, followed by visits to Oregon and Cal, and he told Sam Webb that those three schools comprise his leading trio ($).
[After THE JUMP, video and evaluations of Michigan's All-Americans, the latest on Denzel Ward, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the various All-American bowl practices, the latest on Derrick Green, and (debunked) rumors about a commit taking visits.
L to R: Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas, Derrick Green, Jake Butt, Chris Fox
Michigan has four commits at the Army All-American Game and many are wondering if they'll soon have a fifth after VA RB Derrick Green jumped into a picture with them (above, via). Green conducted a live chat on Rivals yesterday, reiterating that Michigan is his top school, holding a "small" lead over the field—Auburn, Tennessee, Miami, Florida State, and USC. He also got the Fred Jackson Seal of Approval for this quote:
Comment From Guest
Who would you compare your running style to?
Derrick Green: I compare my running style to a combination of Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker and Trent Richardson
Green mentioned the possibility of committing within the next week or so—though not at the Army game itself—but also stated a desire to take his two remaining official visits even after he commits; if his choice is Michigan, he'd obviously have to talk that out with the coaches.
FL S Leon McQuay III is set to announce on Friday and the sense from insiders is that Florida State—the presumed pick—and USC both hold an edge on Michigan, and quite possibly Vanderbilt does as well. If he holds off on making a decision, which Sam Webb has mentioned as a slight possibility, then the Wolverines could have hope; as it stands, not so much.
Matters are looking better for CA OL Cameron Hunt, at least if Patrick Kugler is to be believed:
— Patrick Kugler (@Kugleybear57) January 3, 2013
Hunt will take his official visit to Ann Arbor on January 11th.
Michigan is out of the running for for Wisconsin commit Marcus Ball, according to 247's Evan Flood. The Wolverines were pursuing Ball as a linebacker.
[For practice reports on the commits and more, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers a potential new 2013 offer, the updated 2013 ESPN300, the latest on Gareon Conley and Laquon Treadwell, and more.
New Offer? Nope. Hilarious Ref Faceplant? Yup.
Scout's Mike Coppage reported yesterday that Michigan recently offered LA ATH Trevell Dixon, a former Nebraska commit who could play wide receiver or defensive back in college, though the recruiting services appear to have him pegged as a safety. Tremendous reports that Dixon—a four-star on Rivals and ESPN, a three-star on Scout and 247—is now considering an official visit to Michigan, but it's also noted that he heard about the offer from Coppage, not the coaches; it's worth waiting for word to come out from a team source before considering this a concrete offer.
And, as I write this, TomVH comes through to report that Dixon does not hold an offer—any time a player hears the news from a reporter as opposed to, you know, the coaches who'd relay that offer, the veracity is very much in question. I've come this far, though, and already titled the post, so here are Dixon's highlights—come for the impressive athleticism (he's the quarterback in these highlights), stay for the ref spectacularly eating dirt at the :50 mark:
[EDIT: Now in gif form, because I'm the worst kind of person:
Nice hustle, though.
While Dixon doesn't hold an offer at this point, I'd bet that the coaches are taking a look options to replace Gareon Conley—while Leon McQuay III is the ideal candidate, you can't go all in on landing a five-star from Florida.
[Hit THE JUMP for movement in the updated ESPN300, this weekend's slated visitors, the latest on Gareon Conley and Laquon Treadwell, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Dawson decommitment and potential replacements, the updated 2013 Top247, the return of Shane Morris, a potential early 2014 commit, and more.
Point Of No Return
Ethan Pocic: Potential Dawson replacement?
Despite an summer flirtation with Florida, David Dawson seemingly decommitted out of the blue yesterday. He was quick to name a new leader in the Gators, however, and InsideTheGators.com suggests that this may have actually been a long time coming ($) [emphasis mine]:
Word of the two-sides parting ways first started gaining momentum back in the summer, when during The Opening Dawson openly spoke of decommitting from Michigan, telling several of his fellow Wolverines commitments of his plan.
However, after speaking with the UM coaching staff, Dawson decided to stand pat.
Then a month ago, a person close to the situation told Inside the Gators that Dawson was on the verge of making a change, and it would happen in a matter of days, before then saying that it would happen during the week leading up to the Florida-LSU game.
Chatter on Florida message boards suggests that Dawson reached out to Florida multiple times attempting to set up a visit, including before the LSU game, and it may in fact have been a Gator coach who clued in the Michigan staff to what was going on. It that's indeed the case, this quote from Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher should not come as a surprise at all ($):
“They are done,” said Wilcher regarding whether the Wolverines will continue courting his star lineman. “That ship has sailed… sunk.. whatever you want to call it.”
Regardless of how things went down, I'd encourage everyone to wish Dawson well and move on. Sour grapes are not a good look when we're talking about the decisions of high school kids.
Michigan is certainly moving on, as The M Block reports that the Wolverines have already reached out to LSU commit Ethan Pocic, who was very high on Michigan before the available spots on the line filled up. Pocic maintains that he's firmly committed to the Tigers and will take his only official visit there; that's to be expected at this juncture, of course, so we'll see how things develop. While Dawson was slated to play guard and Pocic is a pure tackle prospect, Michigan could easily shift Chris Fox down to guard and maintain a full five-man line class with every position covered—Logan Tuley-Tillman and Pocic at tackle, Fox and Kyle Bosch at guard, and Patrick Kugler at center.
Tremendous throws in their two cents about potential replacements for Dawson, including Pocic, Notre Dame commit Colin McGovern, MSU commit Dennis Finley (yet to be offered, but one could come), and UCLA commit Scott Quessenberry, a high school teammate of freshman Erik Magnuson. They also dispel the notion that Dawson's departure could affect the recruitment of VA RB Derrick Green; the pair had struck up a friendship over the summer, but Green told Tremendous that the decommitment will "not at all" affect his status with the Wolverines.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of today's recruiting nuggets.]