DeAnthony Arnett is free and headed to East Lansing, and now we're back to your regularly scheduled Thursday Recruitin'. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Does Michigan Lead For Josh Garnett?
In recent weeks, the general consensus on Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett has gone from him having Stanford as his team to beat to Michigan taking the position as his leader. One of the few who hadn't weighed in on this change was, of course, Garnett himself. ESPN posted a video interview with Garnett, who's participating in tonight's Under Armour All-American Bowl, and he was asked if the the perception that Michigan is his leader is a misconception (transcription via The Wolverine, emphasis mine):
"It definitely wouldn't be a misconception [to say they lead]. To be at a big time school like that, especially when you have guys like Eric Magnuson, [five-star tackle] Kyle Kalis ... when you have three big time linemen that could come in and compete with each other, build those friendships. They have some defensive linemen coming in, and Ohio State is bringing in some guys, so you can definitely have a good match-up in three or four years.
"All the linemen that have come out of Michigan and the legacy and going to the Big House with 115,000 people waving pom pons, saying 'Go Blue' ... it's definitely hard to turn that down."
Garnett still has an official visit to Stanford on the docket for next weekend, so by no means is Michigan in the clear—especially with the relative ambiguity of the question/answer posed—but that's one heck of a good sign. Garnett mentioned his close friendship with Magnuson multiple times over the course of the seven-minute interview, and it really sounds like that bond could be the deciding factor in his recruitment.
Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports about the status of Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep corner Yuri Wright and his scheduled visit to Ann Arbor for the weekend of January 13th. At one point it sounded like he would announce at the Army All-American Game on Saturday ($, info in header), and while he said he would still be taking his visits, making a commitment before ever seeing Michigan's campus was not a good sign. While message board chatter over at Scout suggests Michigan may have cooled on Wright while zeroing in on Armani Reeves, Tim Sullivan reports that Wright will NOT be announcing this weekend and will visit Ann Arbor as planned ($), and Wright repeated that statement on Twitter in no uncertain terms.
As for Reeves, the current Penn State commit is still waiting to see how their lengthy coaching search ends ($, info in header):
"I'm in the wait and see process with Penn State to see who they hire and where they're going to go in terms of the coaching staff. I want to talk to the head coach, see where he wants to go with personally as well as the direction he wants to take the program.
"Hopefully, he has the same idea that Joe (Paterno) had. You know, academics first and just be a Penn State guy."
On the visit front, Reeves plans to take his official visit to Penn State before taking any other visits but Michigan is in the running for a official visit after that.
His visit to Penn State is tentatively scheduled for January 13th, but that would not take place if they still don't have a coach. Michigan looks to be the most likely alternative if Reeves were to decommit, though Notre Dame is in the picture.
A few more happy trails to report as we roll towards signing day: Jordan Payton will decide between Cal, UCLA, and Notre Dame at the Army game on Saturday ($, info in header); Zach Banner has narrowed his list of schools to USC, Washington, and Oklahoma ($, info in header); and Greg Garmon committed to Iowa this week—it's looking unlikely at this point that Michigan will take another running back in the class.
We're So Good That a Deion Sanders Endorsement Gets Third Billing in This Section
Tis the season for high school All-American games, and practice reports on Michigan commits in both the Army and Under Armour games have been overwhelmingly positive. Ondre Pipkins has made a lot of noise for the West team at the Army game, and he also gave one of the interviews of the year at Rivals:
Though I generally find the whole "Ohio" thing rather silly, hearing all the recruits discuss their hatred for "Ohio" is absolutely hilarious. While "Pee Wee" Pipkins was goofing around off the field, he was no joke at practice this week, and was named by Rivals.com's Mike Farrell as Monday's top performer for the West squad ($, info in header):
Pipkins is a monster physically - he already looks like B.J. Raji or Vince Wilfork. He is one of the most physically imposing defensive tackles we have seen in awhile. At the point of attack, he is impossible to get on his heels and he penetrates quickly and athletically for a big man. Pipkins is going to be a load for the East offensive line to handle; he was simply dominating a good group of West lineman in the early session of practice.
Yes, please. Pipkins claimed in the above video that he weighs around 330 pounds right now, and while that's almost certainly not all good weight—he also admitted that he doesn't track his caloric intake, plus the whole snarfing down ice cream thing—he looks like he's ready to step onto a college field tomorrow. Good thing, too, considering the depth at DT next year.
Joe Bolden has been similarly turning heads all week at the Under Armour practices, and in this free 24/7 article he's named as his team's top linebacker prospect despite entering the week with little fanfare:
One of the least-publicized players entering the week, the Michigan commit was a hit from the first day on with his instincts and underrated feet and athleticism standing out. Bolden also was a sponge to the coaching given and by all accounts is a future leader of the Wolverines‘ defense. Bolden currently is 220 pounds, but has the frame to add 15-20 more in time.
Bolden was also named the Black team's defensive MVP by Scott Kennedy of Scout ($, info in header):
With the offensive line occupied by the defensive line, the linebackers were free to roam uninhibited. No one took advantage of the room to run better than Michigan commitment Joe Bolden. Bolden was popping pads during walk-thrus, and he continued to seek and destory when the tempo was moved to full speed. Bolden doesn't do anything half-speed. He showed he was capable of dropping into coverage as well as attacking the line of scrimmage.
Bolden is one of Michigan's three early enrollees, and it sounds like he's the most likely to see the field early next year. Bolden's teammate, Terry Richardson, also came in for praise in the above article, and he got some hype from Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders, who's helping coach the defensive backs:
“Number one (Terry Richardson), the (Bryson Echols) kid is playing his butt off and (Chaz Elder) as a safety has done well,” Sanders said. “The best thing about Richardson is he’s a very coachable kid. You tell him something one time and he is going to implement it. Whatever you tell him, he will do. Echols is a fighter, he’s battled in everything he’s done. These kids are sponges in that have been well-coached.”
I don't think anyone worrying about character issues with Richardson has ever actually met the kid, as his passion for the game and enthusiasm in general are both outstanding, plus he's one of the more polite recruits I've had the pleasure of interviewing. It does not come as a surprise that he's standing out as a very coachable player.
Mario Ojemudia participated in Tuesday's inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, and he wasn't pleased with his performance, tweeting, "Got the dub but didn't play that well and I messed up my ankle." I took in most of the game before switching over to the Sugar Bowl festivities, and Ojemudia had a difficult time getting off blocks, mostly due to the fact that he looks to weigh around 215 pounds. I still think he's a great prospect as a pass rusher, but added size and strength is a must, and it will likely take a redshirt year before he's ready to see the field at the collegiate level.
Also coming in for praise from the Army Bowl are commits Erik Magnuson, who even got some work at center during practices, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and Kyle Kalis ($, info in header). Early enrollee Jarrod Wilson participated in last week's Offense-Defense game, and 24/7's Sean Fitz "loved" Wilson's combination of size (he says Wilson is pushing 6'3") and speed in centerfield ($).
Quickly: Touch the Banner interviews Erik Magnuson, whose favorite play in high school is a screen play for... Erik Magnuson; new blog Tremendous talks to Amara Darboh, who simply says "I don't like them," when asked for his thoughts on Ohio State; and Tim gathers commit reactions to the Sugar Bowl victory ($, info in header)—the ever-quotable Pipkins took the Haters Gonna Hate approach: "Everybody had us losing because they were hating on us - especially those Ohio State guys - but we won a bowl, so what can you say. Everybody heard us cheering downstairs."
Yes, I'm Now Interviewing 2014 Recruits
A few quick notes on underclassmen prospects:
First of all, I caught up with Crete (IL) Monee receiver Laquon Treadwell this week, and while he stated that he has no favorites, he listed a top five of Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Tennessee.
Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek corner Shaq Wiggins once held Michigan as his leader, but he now has the Wolverines third behind Tennessee and Virginia ($, info in header). He also gave an idea of his potential timeline:
“I want to commit, like, during the summertime — June or July, somewhere in one of those dates — and just get the whole thing over with and focus on my senior season,” Wiggins said. “Once more offers start coming in — probably, like, when I go back to school or something like that — then I’ll narrow it down.”
Also looking to expedite his recruiting process is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, who's had Michigan among his favorites and says he's looking to cut his list down to five schools "by the end of this month or the beginning of next month" in an article on 247Sports ($, info in header). He gave his impressions of Michigan, who have been recruiting him hard:
“I’ve been talking to Coach Funk a lot,” Bosch said. “He’s just telling me that he’s really excited about me, and he sends handwritten letters to me four or five times a month. I just like the whole atmosphere there. I like the player-coach and player-player relationships there, and the team-first type of mentality. They all treat each other the same way, and I really like the down-to-earth atmosphere they have.”
Finally, yes, I talked to sophomore quarterback Anthony Sicilano this week, and the class of '14 standout has interest in Michigan, who are among a laundry-list of top schools that have contacted Siciliano. With Michigan likely set at QB with Shane Morris in the 2013 class, Siciliano could be a top priority in the future.
Last Friday saw one of the most exciting and dramatic games of the season at Lake Shore High School, where Cass Tech knocked off host Warren De La Salle in a 6-0 thriller, with Michigan commit Royce Jenkins-Stone running in the game-winning touchdown with just 1:38 remaining. The defensive slugfest featured three Michigan commits—Jenkins-Stone, his teammate Terry Richardson, and Warren De La Salle's Shane Morris—and several D-I prospects, including class of 2013 Cass Tech corner Jourdan Lewis, who turned in an outstanding performance. Here are some highlights, courtesy of StateChampsTV:
Royce Jenkins-Stone (Cass Tech LB/FB #10, 2012 commit): RJS recorded six tackles at linebacker, where he was consistently active and a major factor in the Technician defense holding De La Salle's rushing attack to just 108 yards on 26 carries. Despite Cass Tech's outstanding all-around defensive effort, which kept the Pilot offense off the field for much of the game, Jenkins-Stone managed to get in on more plays than I'd seen from him in either of the previous two times I watched him play this season. When he gets to the ballcarrier, he arrives with ill intentions, and delivered a couple of very nice hits.
On this day, however, Jenkins-Stone would be most lauded for his offensive performance, as he carried the ball 22 times for 67 hard-fought yards, and Cass Tech repeatedly fed him the ball on a final drive that took 10:53 off the clock and ended with a three-yard TD run for RJS. While the rushing numbers aren't particularly impressive, they were earned in a fashion befitting of a linebacker—pretty much all of Jenkins-Stone's runs came on fullback dives into the line, and he showed a lot of toughness and durability in repeatedly slamming into the line, taking a couple big hits but shaking them off and continuing to go full-bore on both sides of the ball. RJS is still a bit raw as a prospect—James Ross has more of a play-to-play impact from what I've seen, though Ross also plays less on offense—but his heart and motor should not come into question.
Terry Richardson (Cass Tech CB/WR #9, 2012 commit): Richardson's coverage was a big reason why Shane Morris could never find a rhythm, as he was consistently right in the pocket of the receiver he was tasked with covering. Cass Tech trusted Richardson and fellow corner Jourdan Lewis to play man-up for much of the game, and both were up for the challenge. Though Richardson had been battling a leg injury since the regular season finale, and spent much of warmups on his own testing out the leg, he looked just fine once the game started, exhibiting the speed and hip swivel that make him a four-star corner prospect despite his small stature. He was also strong in run support, tallying four tackles, including a textbook wrap-up in space on a play that got to the outside quickly—he was alone on an island, but managed to drive through the ballcarrier and keep him from gaining any extra yards.
Richardson also added two catches for 46 yards, including a huge 23-yard reception on Cass Tech's game-winning drive. There are going to be questions about his size until he steps onto the field as a Wolverine and proves his height (I'd say 5'8" after standing right next to him for a post-game interview) won't be an issue, but his athleticism and coverage skills are elite for a high school player.
Jourdan Lewis (Cass Tech CB/WR #1, 2013 recruit): Lewis was the best player on the field on Friday, recording three pass breakups and a critical interception (included in the video highlights above), where he read where Morris was going beautifully and made a great play on the ball. Lewis has a couple inches on Richardson, and while he's still quite skinny, he's able to play a more physical game while still exhibiting good speed and agility.
With Richardson doing such a great job blanketing receivers on the opposite side of the field, Morris often tried to throw at Lewis, but the junior was ready—he did a great job of staying right with the receiver, waiting until the ball was there, then reaching around and knocking it away without committing a penalty—his pass breakups all felt like a carbon copy of the previous one. Lewis is the next in line in the Cass cornerback pipeline, and he looked worthy to take up the mantle previously held by Richardson, Dior Mathis, and Boubacar Cissoko, though he has a little bit of height on each of his predecessors.
Shane Morris (De La Salle QB #12, 2013 commit): This was not Morris's finest performance, and he completed just 4-of-17 passes for 28 yards and a pair of interceptions while also losing a fumble on a QB keeper. I know I'm going to sound like a homer when I say this, but I don't think the stats are truly representative of his effort, at least when it comes to completion percentage—De La Salle's receivers could not get an inch of separation all night, and Morris was constantly trying to fit the ball into a tiny window. I also counted three drops by DLS receivers, which didn't help matters. Late in the game, Morris started forcing the issue, and that's when the picks came in—the interception to Lewis was Morris trying to get a big play downfield that just wasn't there—but with Cass Tech shutting down the De La Salle run game, Morris was left in a very tough position.
That's not to say he played well. De La Salle had Morris throw on a few designed rollouts early, but even on normal drop-back throws he didn't seem comfortable in the pocket, and on one play he shuffled smack into pressure while throwing and had his pass fall harmlessly incomplete. He still had a couple passes that reminded you why he's a five-star talent, and I think a lot of his issues came from facing two D-I corners with a pedestrian group of receivers, but it seemed like he let his frustrations get the best of him as the game wore on and it was clear things weren't going well. This is the time to remind yourself that Shane is still just a junior, and one who can throw the ball 80 yards in the air. This was a tough game against a very good Cass Tech defense, and in this case the bevy of D-I talent bested the up-and-coming quarterback.
After the jump, check out a photo gallery from the game plus interviews with both Jenkins-Stone and Richardson.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' discusses Jordan Payton's upcoming decision, the recruitment of Zach Banner, T-Rich and "Little Shane," and Tom Lemming's high praise of Ty Isaac. Usual request: Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Payton Sets a Date Plus a Look at the O-Line
Oaks Christian (CA) four-star wide receiver Jordan Payton (right) will announce his college decision next Tuesday ($, info in header), after he returns from a visit to Notre Dame for the USC game. Payton has narrowed his list to Michigan, Notre Dame, and Cal, but has maintained for several weeks that Michigan is his leader and that stance has not changed. Unless he has a major change of heart while visiting South Bend, Payton will likely end up wearing Maize and Blue.
Another recruit of interest visiting Notre Dame this weekend is Lakewood (WA) Lakes OL Zach Banner, who has set a top five of Michigan, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, and Washington. The blue-chip tackle prospect has already visited Michigan and Oklahoma and will make his way to USC and Washington later this season. Sam Webb profiled Banner this week in the Detroit News, and the atmosphere when Banner visited Ann Arbor (for the Notre Dame game) could give the Wolverines a leg up to land his commitment:
Huffman added: "The best thing (the Wolverines) had going for them is he saw the game of the century. He got to fully got to experience the game atmosphere the energy of 115,000 people. He got to meet with Beilein, but more importantly he got to experience a pretty special and electric feeling that he is not going to be able to duplicate anywhere else. Oklahoma topped out at about 80,000 people against Missouri and the kid has been going to Washington games (with fewer fans) his whole life."
Apparently, Michigan has also told Banner they could see him making an impact as soon as next season, potentially at right tackle. Banner says he plans to make his college choice on January 14, but adds that "a change of schedule could happen at any time."
Tim Sullivan (YTTS) takes a look at potential 2012 offensive line commits for the Free Press, discussing Banner, fellow Washingtonian Josh Garnett, recent offeree Alex Kozan, and very recent USC decommit Arik Armstead. Since Michigan's chances at landing Armstead are thin at best, let's look at what Tim has to say about Kozan:
He has a top eight list that includes U-M, Iowa and LSU, and he plans to visit as many of those schools as possible before making a decision in late December. The 6-4, 295-pound Kozan is a powerful drive blocker that needs more polish in pass protection. He said U-M is recruiting him to play guard.
Several recruits trimmed their lists this week. Lakewood (CA) receiver Darius Powe maintains a top five of Michigan, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah, and Arizona State, but says that the Beavers and Bruins currently stand out as his favorites ($). Cincinnati Moeller receiver Monty Madaris hasn't narrowed his focus too much yet, but says that he only has two definite visits lined up, to Michigan State and Florida State. Cincinnati Taft teammates Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford have eached named a top three ($) and will announce their decision on November 9—Washington is down to Ohio State, Alabama, and Michigan State, while Stanford will choose between Ohio State, Oregon, and Cincinnati.
Quickly: Oregon has taken the lead for five-star safety Shaq Thompson ($, info in header), and Cal and Washington round out his top three, but he still plans on taking visits to Notre Dame, Michigan, and Arizona State and maintains that he is still quite open. Alex Kozan's interest in Michigan has picked up since receiving his offer ($, info in header). Tom interviews Jordan Diamond for ESPN.com—please tell me Dave Brandon does not watch this video and get any more brilliant ideas about the uniforms.
Hit the jump for much more on current 2012 commits and 2013 recruits.
This week, the Creeper Van made its way to not one, but two local games, catching Cass Tech's Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson as they took on Cody, and then visiting Orchard Lake St. Mary's standout James Ross as he faced U-D Jesuit. Both teams featuring Michigan recruits rolled to easy victories, with Cass Tech taking the afternoon matchup, 36-6, and OLSM winning under the lights (NTUTL) with a 34-0 shutout. Here are exclusive (high definition!) highlights of Michigan's commits from both games:
On to the scouting reports...
Royce Jenkins-Stone: By my count, Jenkins-Stone had four tackles through three quarters before the van made an early exit to catch the second game. Much like the last time I saw him play, there was a concerted effort by his opponent to run away from him, but I must admit I was still disappointed by his performance overall. RJS has all the physical tools you'd like to see in a BCS-caliber linebacker, but it appeared either his effort or instincts were lacking at times (my, er, instinct is that the latter is more the issue, since RJS appears to be very into the game emotionally at all times)—this is no more apparent than in the third clip from the video, in which he bites hard on an end-around fake and leaves a huge gap for the quarterback to take off up the middle.
This is not to say that I don't think Jenkins-Stone is a good player—when he's aggressive, he does a good job of finding a way to the ball and either making a play or forcing the ballcarrier into the rest of the defense. I like the way he's able to shed blocks to get to where he wants to go, and his athleticism and size combine to be a huge asset, and if anything, he's just got to harness that athleticism and play more under-control—overpursuit was an issue on a couple plays, and I think he just needs to slow down a little to become a bigger playmaker at linebacker.
Terry Richardson: Friday's game was not exactly a showcase for Richardson, as Cody mostly ran the ball and when passing did not throw it in his direction—I didn't count a single play in which he was challenged through the air. Richardson blanketed his receiver, using his superior speed and quickness to stay step-for-step with his man, and there really wasn't an opportunity to pass on him at all. If a cornerback is practically invisible in the passing game, I'll take that as a good sign.
I was also encouraged by Richardson's physicality, considering his rather small stature. The first clip in his section above shows him playing bump-and-run and driving a wideout a few yards out of bounds without drawing a flag. Richardson also picked up a flag for holding when he got a little too aggressive in chucking the receiver more than five yards past the line of scrimmage, and while you don't like to see defensive backs drawing penalties, the fact that he was so effective in the bump-and-run was good to see.
Richardson's biggest impact came on offense, as there wasn't a returnable kickoff or punt in the time that I watched. His recorded his only tackle after a Cass Tech fumble, when he chased down a Cody defender from behind to mitigate the damage. Later in the game, he torched a defensive back from the slot for an easy 24-yard touchdown—his speed was on full display on that play. This wasn't an easy game to get a solid evaluation of Richardson, but I thought he played well.
James Ross: Ross, in stark contrast to RJS, was all over the field for OLSM, tallying 11 tackles and two QB hurries through a little more than three quarters of play. Ross was never caught out of position and did a fantastic job of diagnosing plays, using his instincts and athleticism to stymie Jesuit's running and short passing attacks with apparent ease.
From the middle linebacker position, Ross covers the field sideline-to-sideline in a fashion that reminds me (lofty comparison alert!) of former Michigan beast-backer and current New York Jet David Harris. No matter where the ball ended up on the field, Ross was there at the end of the play, either making the tackle himself or cleaning up the pile. He plays up on his toes at the beginning of the snap, as you can see on the video, and this allows him to easily go in whatever direction the play takes him with speed.
When Ross got his hands on a ballcarrier, it was over—his open-field tackling was very solid, especially on a screen pass in which he avoided three oncoming blockers and wrapped up the running back for a minimal gain on a play that should've gone for at least ten yards. His low center of gravity allows him to take on blocks and either knock his man back or simply use his quick feet to slip by entirely, the latter being his preferred method for wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Ross also played occasionally as a back in OLSM's wing-T, and while he didn't carry the ball he did deliver a few punishing blocks, including one that took out two Jesuit defenders and sprung his running back for a touchdown. While this didn't help in evaluating him as a linebacker, Ross was able to show off his strength, always knocking defenders backward when he made contact.
My one concern with Ross is his size. He's listed on Rivals at 6'0", but I think that's generous by at least an inch or two, and it will be interesting to see how much weight he can pack on to his 209-pound frame before he starts losing some speed and agility—he already looks like he's beginning to max out his frame. Otherwise, I thought he was the most polished prospect I've seen so far on the recruiting trail, just edging out Matt Godin in that regard, and I think he'll be a big-time player at the next level.
Apologies for the lack of action photos, as I was scouting these games solo and spent most of the time taking video before my camera died at just about the time that OLSM began putting in their backups. Here are a few shots from Cass Tech vs. Cody...
...and here's my set from OLSM vs. U-D Jesuit:
This Week: The van heads down to the Toledo area to see Allen Gant's undefeated Southview squad take on Maumee (3-1).
This is my first time doing a [day of the week] Recruitin' post, so please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc. — as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Drop Everything and Read This
Most Michigan fans who follow recruiting know that Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic senior Amara Darboh is one of the class of 2012's best wide receiver prospects, but I personally had no idea what it took for him to get to that point. As it turns out, he is by no means your typical four-star football prospect — to reach Des Moines, Darboh had to flee Sierra Leone at age seven and landed in Iowa as an orphan in a refugee program before being adopted by the family that would eventually introduce him to football. His incredible story is detailed in the Des Moines Register, and I can't encourage you enough to read the whole thing:
Though Darboh was too young to remember details, his father, Solimon, and mother, Kadita, were slain during Sierra Leone’s civil war that started in 1991. Darboh and other family members were left without any recourse but to flee.
He first went to Gambia, then to Senegal, before eventually ending up in the United States — and finally in the Des Moines home of Dan and Mary Schaefer.
Darboh has grown into a young man, a senior at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. He has become such a good football player that big-time coaches throughout the country, including those from the two major programs in Iowa, have offered scholarships.
From his initial Who’s Who list, Darboh narrowed down finalists to Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
That's as small a chunk as I could bring myself to block-quote, and like I said, seriously read the whole thing. Wherever Darboh ends up playing out his collegiate career, I'll be rooting for him.
Awesome Fluff-like Substance
Scout released an online portion of Allen Trieu's magazine profile of defensive tackle commit Ondre Pipkins, who was apparently quite the Herculean child:
Al knew his son just had something, but it was even before he coached him at Central Middle School in Saginaw. He says the moment he knew his son may someday be a great football player came even earlier.
“When he benched pressed 80-lbs at six years old on a stationary weight machine.”
Good lord. When I was six, I needed help opening jars of apple sauce. Ondre, not so much.
Tom Strobel sought the advice of an NFL star who ultimately helped him decide upon Michigan, and of course that NFL star was Drew Brees. Wait, what?
"Drew Brees is such a great guy," Stroble [sic] said. "I was fortunate to talk to him on the phone when I needed advice about choosing a school. He called me and he just gave me great advice with his main point being to take football completely out of the equation and at the end of the day just choose a place you want to be if you were not playing football. For me, that place was Michigan."
Please tell me Danny Hope read this and had his mustache spontaneously combust as he screamed "Damn you, snake oil!" to the heavens. Thanks, Drew!
Also filed under 'things that make little sense': Ben Braden, behemoth offensive lineman, finally turned his full focus to football in his sophomore year of high school after giving up his first sporting love... hockey. Obvious quote is obvious [emphasis mine]:
"I played hockey from fifth grade until my sophomore year," Braden said. "I started out as a defenseman and moved to left wing and right wing. I played football once in fourth grade, and again in eighth grade, but I loved hockey.
"There aren’t too many 6-7, 320-pound hockey players."
If former Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig was nicknamed "Godzilla" while standing at 6'3", 221 lbs., I can't even imagine what Braden's hockey nickname would've been (maybe just "Sir," as in, "please don't leave me broken in a thousand places, Mr. Braden, Sir."). In article bits that are actually useful, Braden does say that playing hockey did help him with his flexibility, footwork, and ankle strength, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Tight end A.J. Williams may hail from Cincinnati, but a local newspaper feature reveals that he has "a little bit of country" in him:
"I love to fish, said Williams, who orally committed to Michigan April 22. "I try to do it all. I try to be a well-rounded person."
Williams said his grandfather is from Georgia and that helped influence his love of the outdoors. Williams said he also likes to ride a four-wheeler while he is with his family.
1) Please don't crash that four-wheeler, A.J., and 2) He says he plans on trying to catch catfish with his bare hands (a technique called "noodling"), which is pretty badass.
MaxPreps profiles Terry Richardson as part of their "Top 50 recruits in 50 days" feature (T-Rich is #33).
When driving to a photoshoot featuring Northeast Ohio's top offensive linemen, always call shotgun. Also, Tom Strobel's feet aren't the same size, which is kinda strange and gives me a probably-irrational fear of future injury, though at least he isn't the player in the article whose feet are compared to Yao Ming's.
The Seattle Times has a piece profiling blue-chip offensive linemen Zach Banner and Josh Garnett, who are part of a pretty outstanding class of O-lineman in the state of Washington. They say they'd love to form a "Dream Team" of the top five guys in the state, but that appears pretty unlikely, especially since even two-man package deals always seem to fall through.
Actual, You Know, Recruiting News
Rivals released its updated Rivals100 and Rivals250 rankings this week, and you can track the movement of Michigan's commits in two posts at Touch the Banner. While several Michigan commits fell in the new rankings, Pipkins made a huge leap from #246 all the way up to #53:
"Pipkins was impressive when we saw him at the U.S. Army Junior Combine in January, but he had trimmed some of the bad weight by the time he showed up at the Ohio State NIKE Camp and looked to be in much better shape," said Helmholdt of the 6-foot-3, 325-pounder from Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill who is committed to Michigan. "He is explosive off the snap and once he gets that big frame moving up field offensive linemen have trouble slowing him down. Pipkins uses his hands well and is a potent combination of quickness, power and technique."
"Pipkins has added some muscle since the U.S. Army Combine in January," Perroni agreed. "He has an extremely strong lower body and uses it to overpower most opposing offensive linemen. He proved that he can play the pass just as well as he stuffs the run on film."
Another defensive tackle of great interest made a similar jump, as Danny O'Brien moved up 68 spots to #154:
"O'Brien has always had an explosive first step, but what was holding him back from a higher ranking early in the process was that he did not play with the power of other elite defensive tackles," Helmholdt said.
"Over the course of the spring, however, O'Brien added 25 pounds to his frame and with the weight gain came the needed strength. He was impressive at the Ohio State NIKE Camp in May, then went out and had increasingly better performances at college camps and The Opening over the summer."
Speaking of O'Brien, Sam Webb's latest DetNews column focuses on his recruitment. O'Brien plans on taking an official visit for the Notre Dame game, and had this illuminating quote about being recruited by Michigan [emphasis mine]:
"Hoke said to me, 'Take your time. I know you're one of those guys that is really making a decision in cutting them down.' He said, 'Take your time and we will take you whenever.' That stood out to me. I was never the guy that had a dream school picked out. That was big for me because I've been down to Tennessee a few times and that's what I liked about them. They said, 'Take your time. It's your decision. You are your own man and you have to make your own decision.' When Coach Hoke finally said that (also), that was big for me with Michigan."
The Flint Powers standout says he's considering announcing his college decision on October 7, during his high school's homecoming week. He has an official visit planned for Michigan State for October 15, when they coincidentally play Michigan. You do the math there.
Lakewood (CA) wide receiver Darius Powe plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game ($, info in header).
Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford will take official visits together to Michigan, USC, Alabama, and Arizona State, but Tim Sullivan (yes, that one) says not to expect these guys to become Wolverines, in so many words. All signs, especially with Washington, point to Ohio State at this time.
Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep cornerback Yuri Wright, who is now Rivals's #51 overall prospect, is keeping his options open ($, info in header). He recently said Rutgers and Cal stood out among his leaders, which also include Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Michigan State, but he has backed off that statement and claims he doesn't have any favorites or a timeline. Wright plans on taking all five official visits.
Defensive lineman Aziz Shittu claims to be down to a top three, and it doesn't include Michigan ($, info in header). I'm not sure if the coaches would take him at this point regardless.
Josh Garnett is still figuring out where to take his official visits ($, info in header), and the Wolverines appear to be in the mix.
Offensive lineman Jordan Diamond was one of the standouts at the Chicagoland Pre-Season Prep Bowl, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports in a free article.
Happy trails to defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who somewhat surprisingly committed to Notre Dame on Monday. Many experts expected he'd end up at Penn State. He teams up with Sheldon Day to give the Irish a really good pair of DTs in the class — their defensive line is going to be scary good in a few years. Blergh.
The Detroit News names Terry Richardson the top prospect in the state. There's a disappointing lack of actual scouting reports throughout the entire countdown, but here's a quote from Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher:
"He's one of the biggest recruits we've had," Wilcher said. "People asked me why Terry is so good. He's a great cover guy and he's fast."
Other players of interest in the countdown: James Ross (2), Mario Ojemudia (3), Royce Jenkins-Stone (4), Ron Thompson (5), Aaron Burbridge (6), Matt Godin (8), Devin Funchess (9), Danny O'Brien (10), Ben Braden (12), and LEVITICUS PAYNE (19).
Meanwhile, Duane Long has rated 11-50 of his top 50 prospects in Ohio [parts 1, 2, 3, and 4], and here's the Michigan commits included so far: Tom Strobel (12), Pharaoh Brown (17), Jarrod Wilson (18), Joe Bolden (26), A.J. Williams (31), and Caleb Stacey (48). That means Kyle Kalis and Chris Wormley are almost assuredly in his top ten, but it'll be interesting to see if Kaleb Ringer and Allen Gant make the cut or are (unjustifiably, in my somewhat-biased opinion) left off the list entirely. For context, the #50 prospect, Mason Monheim, is unrated on Rivals and holds offers from Illinois and a handful of MAC schools.
Dave Berk, who covers Ohio high schools for Scout, tweets that Joe Bolden is the "top pure linebacker" in the state in the 2012 class.
Scout released their initial list of five-star recruits for the class of 2013, and Shane Morris is one of them. Analyst Bill Greene on the future Wolverine quarterback:
"I've never seen him play in pads yet, but I've seen him at Pittsburgh, seen him in Florida, saw him in Cleveland, NIKE, four or five times. The thing that sticks out is arm strength, one of the strongest arms you'll ever see, especially on a kid that young. He's still developing. What I got to see in the 7 on 7s, is competitiveness. His team had been on road a lot. He hadn't been home in awhile, and it was about 100 degrees in Florida, and I think a lot of kids mailed it in that day, and that kid wasn't going to mail it in. He wanted to win, and they did. He couldn't just gun it into windows down there either, he had to show touch. There was speed all over the field, and he had to throw over linebackers, underneath safeties, and he did it. You saw how much he loved to compete. It meant a lot to me too, that, at NIKE, Elite 11, they made them do a lot of things they don't do at any other event, with throwing on the run, the targets they have to hit, and his accuracy was impressive. I didn't know he had that type of accuracy. He's as good as it gets as a quarterback prospect. I like what he does with footwork, release, and he'll only get better, bigger, and stronger."
Scott Kennedy piles on with more hype, saying, "I don't know where he'll be ranked overall in the Class of 2013, but he'd easily be a Top 10 guy in the Class of 2012." It's not clear whether he means overall or among quarterbacks, but regardless... word.
Scout also posted a breakdown of recruits in the Midwest who could earn the coveted five-star rating or at least crack the Scout 300, and those players include:
- Fort Wayne (IN) ATH Jaylon Smith (not offered yet)
- Midland OL Steven Elmer (offered)
- Marlington (OH) ATH Dymonte Thomas (offered)
- Trotwood-Madison (OH) S Cameron Burrows (interest, no offer)
- Hudson (OH) OLB Ben Gedeon (offered)
- Huber Heights (OH) Wayne OL Lovell Peterson (interest, no offer)
- Joliet (IL) Catholic Academy RB Ty Isaac (interest, no offer)
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel (interest, no offer)
- Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman (offered)
- Brother Rice DE Jon Reschke (interest, no offer)
- Grand Blanc Community DE Luke Maclean (interest, no offer).
Got all that? There will be a quiz next week.
The Saginaw News prominently features Steven Elmer in a preview of Midland's season, and despite drawing interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Mississippi State, it sounds like he'll be holding off on a decision for the near future:
"Steven's been recruited heavily, while Wylie, Vieau, Alek Swiercz have been going to some MAC and GLIAC schools," [Midland head coach Eric] Methner said. "I'm not worried about it being a distraction because their focus is on Midland High School right now. The recruiting stuff was for the spring and winter. They are absolutely focused on their role as Chemic football players. Our coaches are doing a good job of keeping them focused."
Lake City (FL) OL Laremy Tunsil was named one of 24/7's first five-stars in the class of 2013 ($, info in header). He's been hearing from the Michigan coaches, and I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later. The 6'6", 275-pound junior already holds scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, USC, Arkansas, and South Florida.
Finally, Farmington Hills Harrison sophomore running back Lorenzo Collins is profiled by 24/7's Steve Wiltfong. Collins talks about attending Michigan's camp with teammates Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia:
“[Fred Jackson] told me a lot of speed things and things that would help me with my footwork,” Collins said. “He was just telling me and actually motivating me. He told me he’d be looking at me. I’ve never been a big fan of Michigan, but I’m really starting to like it. It’s a fun school. I like the coaches. The coaches are real motivating.”
Unfortunately, no glowing Fred Jackson quotes comparing Collins to a young Bo Jackson with more speed were readily available.