Yesterday's release of the 2011 media guide brought up a few questions about some guys not on the roster. I just got my answers from Athletic Dept. spokesman David Ablauf and they're un-good:
"Kellen Jones is no longer an enrolled student at the University."
Reason was neither asked for nor given. This is the end. One of you who doesn't like me gets to be the one to tell Brian we chose to post his 2011 Recruiting Profile right before some of the rumors hit the Twitters.
Impact: Kellen was considered one of the few 2011 recruits who might contribute immediately, and was expected to challenge for a spot on the two-deep at WLB. Short-term this will mean one of the other freshmen linebackers has a shot to play early. MLB/WLB depth chart currently reads Demens and ???s. Down the road it shouldn't matter so much once the 2012 class of Ross, Jenkins-Stone, Bolden and Ringer arrive.
As for some other roster incongruities, why was Christian Pace left off the roster, and did Teric Jones get listed with no number while two other guys switched to his 14? Because the gods hath no mercy:
"Christian Pace was medicaled; meaning his playing career is over due to an injury ... [answers other questions] ... Teric is also medicaled."
Impact of Losing Teric: Minimal. Jones is a 2009 scat-back who came in behind several guys in the '08 and '09 classes. He was part of the Cass Tech clan who re-established that pipeline. Teric did what he could to help, bouncing to DB when warm bodies were needed, but he made only a Darnell Hood-ian impact and moved back to RB, where he was a spare part behind 6-7 other guys. Teric lost the end of the 2010 season to a knee injury against Illinois.*
Impact Christian: Bloody Argh. Pace was the only OL recruit of the 2010 class, and those of us in bloggerland were ludicrously excited about him because he was an under the radar recruit whom smart coaches were hard after. Also he's as much of a David Molk clone as Taylor Lewan was a Jake Long clone coming out of high school. There's a huge difference between proto-Molk and Molk, but Pace's high school tape (as in just watch every play) is a series of the ball being snapped followed by something being shot out of a cannon and ending 4 yards downfield on top of a pitiable fool. He was perfect for the spread 'n shred, which suggests he's not perfect for non-spread-and-shred. I still had unreasonable hope, but even general hope for Pace in a Hoke Manball offense was pretty high. This year he was behind Molk and Khoury, who has been serviceable. Down the line this opens the path for Miller, or else one of the big guards-like objects from 2011 and 2012. Further injuries to the undermanned OL will result in wanton trotting out of an Angry-[Position]-Hating God tag.
Last piece of info, which isn't any info.
No change on Darryl Stonum's status.
I'll let Tim follow up with specifics since everyone I would call will be at his presser anyway.
* I hate to throw this into a post about one of Michigan's best academic performers and team players losing the 2nd half of his career, but considering the staff plans to sign the full 26 in 2012, this feels a little…convenient. #oversigning fears. EDIT: This is NOT an accusation and as posters have pointed out it would be a bad idea for the coaches to pull a "convenient" move with a kid from our biggest in-state pipeline. It bears mentioning only because it would arch an eyebrow at another school, and because this space has been critical of those other schools when there's even a whiff. Discussion cont'd in the comments.
Losing Pace and Jones is decidedly inconvenient.
Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, and DE Jibreel Black.
|Huber Heights, OH - 6'3" 245|
||Scout||3*, #41 DT|
|Rivals||3*, #61 DT|
|ESPN||3*, 75, #97 DT|
|Other Suitors||North Carolina, Wisconsin, UCLA, Michigan State|
|YMRMFSPA||Grant Bowman or Scooter Berry|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post. Tom interviews Talbott. FNL takes in a Wayne game.|
|Notes||Brother of CB recruit Terrance Talbott.|
Also 2008 highlights exist.
Terry Talbott is the older and much larger of the Talbott brothers. Born nine months and one day(!) before his brother Terrance. For a detailed psychoanalysis of the naming process there check Terrance's profile, or you can just take the mother's word on it:
"I was crazy in the hospital. They had me medicated up when they asked me for a name. Terrence just came out."
Thus are legends born. Terry, the elder, ended up a half-foot taller and close to a hundred pounds heavier. He's fortunate. My younger brother is currently 6'4". I am not.
Anyway, despite Terry's massive size advantage over his brother his relative lack of it compared to, say, Will Campbell is the main drag on his recruiting rankings above. You can either look at pictures in which he looks more like a tight end than a DT or listen to any of the many evaluations that mention the word "tweener," but the story is the same. ESPN's version($):
Talbott plays a little out of position in high school as a defensive tackle. In college he could be looking at a move to defensive end though he could still project to tackle. If he stays inside he will need to add serious bulk to his frame. Looks on film to have the build to be able to add more good size. … While build wise a move to end may be a better fit, long term skill wise staying at tackle may be better. … Talbott is a solid prospect, but a bit of 'tweener position wise right now.
When not talking about his inconvenient size, the evaluator praises his "ability to explode off the ball" and criticizes various technique issues with his hands and lowing his head. The word "adequate" pops up more than once, which is never a good sign, and the 75 rating he ended up with makes him the third lowest-ranked recruit in the class (Ray Vinopal and Courtney Avery are lower). Rivals's Greg Ladky caught a game during his senior year:
PERFORMANCE: He made a couple of tackles early, sprained his ankle late in the second quarter and played through obvious pain the rest of the way. While he wasn't as productive as he was in Week 1, he perhaps was more impressive due to his effort playing through an injury.
STRENGTHS: He's quick off the snap and has the eyes and recognition skills to finish plays.
WEAKNESSES: He does not have ideal size for a defensive tackle or the best frame for a defensive end. I would rather not call him a "tweener" because I think he is good enough to succeed at either position and "tweener" is often construed as a negative term. Talbott just doesn't have the eye-opening size that other elite defensive linemen have.
More of the same there, with Ladky's assertion that he doesn't want to use "tweener" unconvincing given the rating he ended up with.
That's the downside. The upside is his ability to get into the backfield. As a high school player he is crushingly effective. His coach:
"He's very big, very explosive and has a great change of direction," Minton said. "He's got an uncanny ability to get to the football and control the line of scrimmage. He creates a new line of scrimmage."
Ohio football observer Duane Long on Talbott's performance at OSU's camp:
Huber Heights Wayne defensive tackle prospect Terry Talbott has come in and put on a show. … Notice how often he does not use his hands. Needs a lot of work. He is just beating his opponents with elite level explosion off the ball. I have not heard measurables listed yet but the words "physical specimen" are being thrown about. We are kicking around a lot of names right now with the camp but I am not going to be surprised to see this one as the next Buckeye offer.
Meanwhile, his Scout scouting report mentions a high motor, excellent work ethic, and coachability. In a Rivals article($), an opposing coach who runs the option declares he "couldn't imagine" attempting to run an offense in which you'd actually have to block him, declaring "You'd need to dedicate two or three blockers on every play just to have a shot at defending him." Talbott is compared to Spartan DT and fellow Wayne HS alum Jerel Worthy, who you may remember tearing through Michigan's offensive line last year en route to freshman All-America recognition. Michigan State currently lists Worthy at 292, FWIW—Talbott has a long ways to go if he's going to get there.
In addition to all this, this blog's own Tim took in last year's Wayne-Princeton game, a 21-4 Wayne victory, and came away impressed:
Talbott was the Warriors' defensive MVP, e-fact. He was constantly in the opposing backfield, whether he was lined up at tackle or end. He was a quick penetrating type, and even when the Vikings started trying to counter against that (eventually), he was harassing QBs, forcing running backs into his teammates, and generally being a disruptive force. He doesn't have the biggest frame in the world, but there is certainly potential to add some mass and be a quick-penetrating "SEC-style" (ugh, shoot me) defensive tackle when he arrives in Ann Arbor. Trust me, he may be a little underrated because he's a tweener, but I think this kid is an absolute steal.
That combination of explosion, potential, and effort saw Terry pick up offers from Wisconsin, Purdue, Illinois, UCLA, Arkansas, NC State, Kentucky, and "a couple of other Big Ten schools" by July. Michigan hadn't yet pulled the trigger. When Michigan did, it didn't take long for the brothers to reciprocate. By August both were committed. Terry had a late flirtation with North Carolina, but stuck with Michigan and his brother on Signing Day. The Fax of Destiny is pictured above. I like to think whoever took it said "fax for the camera, baby."
At Michigan, Talbott steps into a situation where there are just two NT/DT types on the roster who will be around after what will presumably be a redshirt year. He has potential if he can add weight and maintain his quickness, but the skeptical rankings above seem about right to me. Adding 50 pounds and still being fast is quite a trick.
Etc.: Terry on his younger brother:
"If I'm down, he'll pick me up," Terry said. "If he's down, I'll pick him up. In football or not, I'm his big brother. I'm going to be on his side if anything's wrong and see if he's OK. We'll keep going through the good times or bad times."
Why Grant Bowman? Bowman was an active, effective three-tech defensive tackle despite checking in at just over six feet tall. By the time he was flitting around NFL practice squads and the World League he was up to 290, but as a recruit he was considerably smaller.
That's the Michigan connection, but a more recent and perhaps more accurate comparison is with current West Virginia senior DL Scooter Berry, who was a 245-pound fullback recruit back in high school and now pushing 290. Berry redshirted and then was an instant starter despite his lack of size. As a sophomore he was second-team All Big East; his junior year was marred by a shoulder injury. Fun biographical fact: Berry is the half-brother of legendary bust Jason Gwaltney. And yes, he's in that infamous picture.
Guru Reliability: Just less than high. Consensus on his ability, but apparently no combines.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. If Talbott was Warren Sapp's size he'd be Warren Sapp but the reason Warren Sapp is Warren Sapp is that people Warren Sapp's size don't move like Warren Sapp. Deep breath. Anyway: it's a tough choice between Talbott's ability to crush competition ranging from good high school opponents to various D-I prospects at Ohio State's camp and the idea that he's a 6'3"-ish defensive tackle who may need to put on 50 pounds to play consistently in the Big Ten. Will Talbott come out the other end of the Barwis machine anything like the player he went in?
Projection: Obvious redshirt on both size and technique grounds. Will probably mostly watch his second year as well. From there, could be one of those very good college players with no real NFL future—see that entire Bowman-era DL—or could fade away due to size limitations.
A trio of 2010 Michigan commits participated in All-Star games over the weekend. The Brothers Talbott played for Team Ohio in the annual Big 33 Classic against Pittsburgh, while preferred walk-on Baquer Sayed (#4 at right) was on the East team in the Michigan High School Football Coaches' Association All-Star game. Paul and I took in the MHSFCA game in person, and I watched the Big 33 on NFL Network.
East-West Game Report
The MHSFCA All-Star game was without many of Michigan's best players (ironically enough). The likes of Nick Hill and William Gholston from Michigan State didn't play in the game, and the Wolverines' quartet of Ricardo Miller, Austin White, Jeremy Jackson, and Devin Gardner all enrolled early, so they couldn't play. Gardner in particular could have made this a much more entertaining game to watch. The QB play was iffy at best.
The East team had nothing going offensively in the first half, finishing with 7(!) yards of total offense and giving up a safety. The West took advantage, building a 16-0 lead going into the break, courtesy of two Chris Robinson (Ovid-Elsie - Grand Valley State) touchdown runs. Field position played a huge factor, as the East team rarely even made it into opposing territory.
After halftime, however, the East offense came alive, partially due to a little more aggressive play calling. While pass plays functioned as scramble drills in half one, they became part of a functioning offense in the second with Jason Fracassa (Sterling Height Stevenson - Northwood University) able to move the ball through the air. The East scored 20 unanswered points with Fracassa touchdown passes to Eric Cogan (Petersburg-Summerfield - Saginaw Valley State) and Torico Searcy (Warren Mott - Grand Rapids CC) before a last-minute West penalty allowed East coach Jim Sparks (Clawson) the opportunity to forgo a game-tying field goal to go for the win. Jeremy Langford (Westland John Glenn - Michigan State) lined up in the I-formation and sealed the victory for the East.
With such a sloppily-played game, few players truly impressed, but Spartan-bound wideout Tony Lippett (Detroit Crockett) was HUGE in comparison to the rest of the All-Stars. West running back Chris Robinson was somewhat impressive behind a sketchy offensive line, and West QB Jordan Beachnau (Holt - Grand Valley State) showed very good elusive abilities in traffic. I was not impressed at all by Jeremy Langford.
Also impressive was Michigan's lone representative in the game, Baquer Sayed. He was routinely open on the occasion that a pass play was called, but he was often missed (either the quarterback threw a bad ball or didn't throw it his way at all , often because he was running for his life) or interfered with. On top of one key pass interference drawn, he caught 3 passes for 45 yards, with a long reception of 22 yards. He was thrown to two other times, but both passes were uncatchable.
Big 33 Game Report
The Big 33 Classic annually pits some of the best in Ohio against some of the best in Pennsylvania. A number of college commitments participated (Pitt led the way with 10 commits, though Ohio State and Penn State each had 4), and like the Michigan game, it was a defensive battle for much of the contest.
It's very rare that you'll see two separate games start with 2-0 scores in an entire year, much less one day, but that was the case Saturday, as Pennsylvania took that advantage all the way into halftime. Missed field goals from both teams (including onetime Michigan preferred walkon-turned-Vanderbilt kicker Carey Spear of Team Ohio) and generally sloppy play limited the scoring, and quite honestly, fan enjoyment of the game.
After halftime, the game opened up somewhat, as Pennsylvania QB Anthony Gonzales (Liberty - Pitt) threw a pair of touchdown passes, one to PSU-bound Alex Kenney (State College) and another to future teammate Andrew Carswell (Sto-Rox). Ohio was not to be outdone, as Ohio State commits Verlon Reed (Marion Franklin) and Christian Bryant (Glenville) scored TDs. Reed's came on an 80-some-yard scamper, and Bryant's was a 26-yard reception with less than a minute on the clock to put Ohio up for good.
I was impressed with the performance of Alex Kenney and Andrew Carswell from Pennsylvania. Carswell should be a big target for Pittsburgh in the coming years. Wisconsin-bound Mannesah Garner (Brashear) was a terror on the defensive line, though he's expected to be a wideout in Madison. The surprise star of the day was Rich Gray (Woodland Hills) who's headed to Kent State, of all places. He was constantly in the Ohio backfield, and if he can stay on top of his conditioning, the Golden Flashes have uncovered a serious diamond in the rough.
A few Ohio players impressed as well. Verlon Reed and Christian Bryant showed good athleticism, though Reed couldn't pass the ball well at all, and Bryant looked lost in coverage at times (in man, he let Andrew Carswell get free by about 15 yards for one of Pennsylvania's touchdowns). JT Moore (Youngstown Boardman - Ohio State) got good pressure on the quarterback as well.
Michigan's representatives in the game, brothers Terry and Terrence Talbott, had mixed results. For the record, their jerseys both said "Talbott"—the organizers probably figured that 6 inches and 75 pounds would be enough for observers to differentiate between them.
Terry had one sack (@ 2:59 in the video below) and a couple other QB pressures, but no other real production. Terrence had a fumble recovery on special teams, one pass breakup and a couple tackles. Terrence was also responsible for one of Pennsylvania's touchdowns, however, as PSU commit Alex Kenney ran a streak down the sidelines, finding himself a step past—and a lot bigger than—Talbott.
Big 33 Video
That wraps up Michigan commits' All-Star performances for the year, and Friday Night Lights will go into hibernation until late August, when the Class of 2011 gets its time to shine.
As always, the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board lives here.
Recruiting multiple players from the same school (Trotwood-Madison, Pahokee) has been a go-to strategy for this recruiting staff, and that trend looks to continue in the 2011 recruiting haul.
The latest pair comes from Florida's Hollywood Chaminade high school, in FL WR Curt "Spiffy" Evans (pictured at right) and S Jonathan Aiken. Their teammate, QB Jerrard Randall, also has Michigan interest. Though we knew about Aiken's offer last week, Evans received one at the same time:
I opened mine first and they were identical envelopes so I was like “Whoa!”. I gave him the letter and he was like “Man you’re big time, you got Michigan!”.
The pair might visit this summer, though it sounds like Michigan might be window dressing, at least for Evans:
I want to talk to the coach and find out what day they would want me up there and basically go from there. We’re going up to camp at Ohio State and Notre Dame so we might be able to get up there then...
One of my personal favorites now, well two really, are Vanderbilt and Alabama just because of where I’m from and because I’ve been talking to Vanderbilt a whole lot. Plus their academics really impress me. But these offers like from Michigan, I push them in front of some of the smaller schools just because of who they are.
Though Aiken seems to be playing a similar tune:
I mean, if I can get that one, that means I can get more. So I’m just seeing what I can do to get the biggest schools. Michigan is one of the biggest but now I’m starting to hear from schools on the west coast like UCLA. So I’m just trying to see what else I can get.
Their interest seemed much more genuine when Evans talked to Tom last week:
TOM: Since all of you have Michigan offers, have you talked about going to school together?
SPIFFY: Yeah, we’ve talked about it. If it happens, it would be nice, but it’s not something we’re really trying to do. All three of us are going to take an official to Michigan, though. We already decided that. We actually might try to drive up to Michigan for a summer camp, too [Evans also told SoFlaFootball that a Michigan camp visit is definite.]...
TOM: Yeah, it sounds like Michigan might have a good chance then?
SPIFFY: Michigan has a real good chance. I need to get to know the coaches, and see how that progresses, and see the campus. But, yeah, they have a good chance. I actually talked to Denard Robinson a little while ago. I know him, I’m not really good friends with him, but he was telling me how great it is up there, and that was cool to hear from a Florida kid.
And the same deal when Tom spoke with Aiken (right):
"Me and Spiffy were both excited about Michigan. I watch Michigan all the time on TV, and I think it would be great to play in that maize and blue. I'm probably going to wait until signing day, just to make sure everything's right. Curt and I want to go to the same school, too, so that's a good opportunity for us."
"I read MGoBlog all the time, actually."
In another potential package deal that we're already familiar with, FL WR Sammy Watkins will reveal a public top 10 soon. It is expected to include Michigan, as both he and FL DB/Ath Dallas Crawford are high on the Wolverines following their spring game visit. I wouldn't get your hopes up just yet on both, though.
OH OL Aundrey Walker is the subject of the latest Sam Webb column in The Detroit News. Walker on his game:
"I'm 6-6, 355, and I'm a mean streaker," he said with a laugh. "I like to dog people -- pancake people, lay on top of them, and talk. That's what I do! Blow people off the ball, drive them down the field 20 yards, and then slam them! That's what I do (laughing). That's what God created. I learned from the cradle. My father was a football
player. He was a mean-streaker too. I've just got the attitude to be a dog."
And Scout.com's Bill Greene on Walker:
"Walker is a mauler on the football field, and while his technique might need work, there is no doubting his physical ability," Greene said. "He plays hard and he comes off the ball with a nasty attitude looking to dominate his opponent. Off the field, he is well-spoken, intelligent and a leader. It's no wonder he has schools across the country chasing after him."
Walker admits to loving the Buckeyes in the article, unsurprising for a recruit out of Cleveland Glenville. He'll also wait until the end of the process to make a selection, and though it's likely he'll pick OSU, he's at least giving Michigan more of a chance than Glenville guys have in the recent past. MGoBoard's Magnus evaluates Walker's teammate, OH QB Cardale Jones, on Touch the Banner. [Ed: Dude, Walker isn't coming here.]
And for less-positive package deal news, it appears as though LA S Renaldo Thomas and LA OL Trai Turner may be coming off the board soon. Though Turner has mentioned wanting to visit Michigan, Thomas is expected to commit to LSU this week, and one of his teammates ($, info in header) will probably join him. All signs point to that being Turner. No impending decision is expected for the third St. Augustine prospect with a Michigan offer, LA OL Jonah Austin.
Michigan is in good shape with NC QB Marquise Williams. The Scout article linked is available for free, and reveals that Williams has a top 3 of North Carolina, Michigan, and Notre Dame.
Savon did well enough last fall to rush for 1,544 yards (7.3 yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns.
"He's sort of a bigger Silas Redd," said Mike Farrell of Rivals.com. "He doesn't have the same feet but definitely a little more size and is a little stronger. He also has a knack about him balance-wise, he's really hard to bring down. He's like Marcus Lattimore because he does everything well but also has a knack for bouncing off tackles and gaining three, four yards every time."
"I've been talking to all of the coaches, saying, 'Why is Savon No. 1 your charts?' The most popular answer is that while one (tailback) may have speed and one may have power, they say Savon, more than the others, has a very uncanny sense of balance, and they say that's something you can't teach. He'll run past you, run over you and run around you, and his yards after contact are ridiculous."
That's some serious love from analysts. It's not clear how in-the-mix for Huggins Michigan actually is, but he won't make a decision until February, so there's plenty of time before we find out. Check out his sophomore and junior highlights to see what the coaches are apparently drooling over.
FL RB Demetrius Hart's on-again, off-again impending commit to the Wolverines may be in an off-again phase, as Tom shares that he might not be able to make it up for the BBQ. Still, he's expected to eventually join Michigan, prompting Alabama writers to sound like a snubbed lover:
Originally, he was expected to bring teammate Dee Hart, a standout running back, to Alabama with him, but it appears as though Michigan will somehow track down Hart. Apparently there is some family relations within the program extending way back before his high school years. For most Alabama fans this could serve as a sigh of relief. Dee is an impressive player in his own right, however I think the Tide has their sights set elsewhere.
"I don't know what he sees in those losers. Whatever, we weren't that into him, anyway." Nice try, bro.
Michigan has offered NC TE Drew Owens ($, info in header). It's clear that they definitely want a tight end in this class unless they're looking at all of these offered guys as potential position switchers.
I missed this when it happened over a week ago, but it now appears as though IL DE/LB James Adeyanju has received a Michigan offer. Tom briefly mentioned him in his look at defensive line recruiting as an unoffered prospect. Adeyanju's brother, Victor, played at Indiana and is now in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams.
NC LB Kris Frost tells Tom he's "still loving Michigan." Our contacts in North Carolina tell mgoblog that Frost is a heavy Michigan lean, but will extend the recruiting process to get all the perks.
In The Army Now
The US Army All-American Bowl sent out a wave of "nominations" recently, including not only a number of Michigan targets, but also a couple commits. OH CB Greg Brown has now received a nomination, and we already knew MI CB Delonte Hollowell had already been invited to participate. Speaking of Hollowell, he has an updated junior highlight reel:
400 nominations to the game went out last week, so we'll hold off on reporting every single guy who has Michigan interest until that number is pared down a bit. Most of the top guys that Michigan is pursuing have been invited (or are already committed to ESPN's game).
Top 6 Lists
This normally wouldn't get its own header, but an oddly high number of prospects have released lists of exactly six schools, so here goes:
MI OL Anthony Zettel has a top 6, which I'll assume consists of Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, and a couple other schools.
MI RB Justice Hayes has a top 6, including Michigan.
One of the nation's top defensive linemen, FL DT Tim Jernigan, has Michigan in a top 6 along with Florida (the presumed favorite), Alabama, Florida State, LSU, and Southern Cal. He says all those schools are even, and they're the only ones that he's still considering.
Michigan is not in the top three of FL WR Ja'juan Story, but Tom says they're in the top 10. PA DE Shawn Oakman has to choose whether to play basketball or football at the next level. Michigan is showing interest in PA RB/LB Brandon Cottom, but hasn't yet offered ($, info in header). Some Michigan targets impressed at the ESPN RISE camp at Ohio State. The Skyline Chili Ohio Crosstown Showdown (where Paul and I saw Terry Talbott's Huber Heights Wayne team play last year) has announced its schedule for 2010. No current Michigan commits are playing. Michigan coaches drop in on OH WR Devin Smith ($, info in header). AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena is still thinking about Michigan ($, info in header).
I'll be embarking on a project similar to last year's recruit profiles in the near future, but that effort will last into the summer—the final profile last year (Tate Forcier) didn't go up until June 25th—and some words about how Michigan did will be far less timely then.
The other side of the ball was examined last week.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
We'll throw quick end in here, too, and why not? Seemingly half the defensive recruits in the class said they were recruited to play the spot. Michigan has plenty of needs elsewhere so this intrepid reporter is going to put Jordan Paskorz, and only Jordan Paskorz, here. Antonio Kinard and Davion Rogers will be filed as linebackers; Ken Wilkins is already pushing 250 and will be filed as a strongside defensive end.
On Paskorz: he is a generic three star to the world, a guy who gets 5.6 on the Rivals scale—5.7 is a high three star, 5.6 a middling one—and had offers that reflected that. Michigan's main competitors were Pitt and Virginia. He won't have to play much until he's a redshirt sophomore—that's when when Craig Roh backup Brandon Herron graduates—and we're unlikely to see him until then.
The strongside guys have a bit more to recommend them. Jibreel Black (right)and Ken Wilkins are 4/3 star tweeners (e.g., one of Scout or Rivals has them at four, the other at three). Wilkins hails from the same high school that Ohio State recruit Andrew Sweat and Penn State recruit Mike Yancich attended, and his coach believes he's more athletic than either:
"He is an unbelievable physical talent," Dalton said. "And he is only going to get better. I have had some great players here, but nothing like Ken physically. I am not saying he is going to be better than Yancich and Sweat, but he is the most physically talented player I've had."
Black, meanwhile, was a guy Michigan was hot after all year but could never get on campus until late January. By then he'd already committed to Indiana (where his brother had an excellent season) and Cincinnati (which is approximately three minutes from home). He's got the same body type as Brandon Graham, albeit without most of his hype. The insider-type folk say, and Michigan's dogged pursuit implies, that whatever the guru folk thought Michigan wanted Black badly.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
B+. They got about the right number of bodies to fill out two thin spots on defense and I like the long term potential of both strongside guys. A blue-chip would have been nice.
Impact This Year?
Hopefully little, but given the depth chart at SDE it seems like either Black or Wilkins will have to burn a redshirt as a backup unless Anthony LaLota got a lot bigger during his redshirt year.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
Michigan missed out on a true nose when Jonathan Hankins picked Ohio State. They did grab two promising three-tech recruits in Terry Talbott and Pahokee's Richard Ash. Both have size issues: Talbott is currently around 240 and is a guy some observers thought would end up at defensive end. According to Rod Smith, Ash is now over 300 pounds; given his recruitment that seems more like a problem to be fixed than a solution to Michigan's nose tackle issue. Teams backed away from Ash when he showed up to Florida's camp overweight.
On the other hand, both have talent. Talbott almost defected to North Carolina late; when Tim went down to catch a Wayne game this fall he was a wrecking ball in the backfield. He's an excellent, disruptive fit for the penetrating defensive tackle spot he's slated for. The teams backing away from Ash after his weight issues, meanwhile, were USC and Florida. Ash has upside for Barwis to extract, and he's got a host of Pahokee folk up here to help him adjust. If he puts in the work, Michigan will have a guy who could play for Florida's defensive line.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
B-. No nose tackle is a downer. Michigan will have one guy there next year if Mike Martin moves unless Ash can actually handle that weight. Outside of that, though, both recruits seem like they might be underrated.
Impact This Year?
Assuming the RVB move, Michigan will have a veteran two-deep at defensive tackle but Talbott and Ash will be next in line after that. If there's an injury, one or both might be pressed to play. I imagine Michigan will try to redshirt both; they might not be able to.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
A late flurry of offers and a little snake oil turned this position group from a gaping sore into… well, a considerably less gaping sore. Late additions Davion Rogers and Jake Ryan are just three star sorts, but given Michigan's situation before they hopped aboard they're welcome. Rogers is a 6'6" birdman of a linebacker/DE prospect who everyone, including me, will compare to Shawn Crable. Michigan pirated him away from WVU once Doc Holliday left. Early in his career he'll probably play the weakside linebacker spot occupied by Jonas Mouton currently; if he puts on enough weight we'll see him at quick.
Ryan popped up late after an Omameh-like senior year where he grew two inches and twenty pounds and outplayed Ohio State commit, teammate, and fellow linebacker Scott McVey en route to a state championship. McVey was playing with a busted shoulder, FWIW, but Ryan is a heady kid who actually played linebacker in high school—a rarity for Michigan of late—and is at least a reasonable prospect to start in a year or two.
A couple players may end up at spinner, the strongside linebacker/safety position last occupied by Stevie Brown, but for right now the only guy in the class this blog places at the spot is uber-athlete Josh Furman, AKA Dhani Jones 2.0. Furman was a ridiculously productive safety and tailback in high school who hit camps and dropped electronically timed 4.3 40s. Scout thinks he's awesome; Rivals again goes "meh." He's clearly got a ton of upside.
Antonio Kinard got a super-early offer and committed to it, but did little during his senior season to assuage concerns he was an iffy bet. He, too, might end up at quick but will be filed a linebacker for the moment.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
C-. The late pickups salvaged this grade but the emphasis is on "salvage." The only inside linebacker Michigan picked up in the last class was Isaiah Bell and the guys in the class before that are gone (Witherspoon and Hill), seemingly locked into special teams forever (Demens), and JB Fitzgerald. Michigan needed numbers here, and they ended up with numbers, but they also needed a blue chip or two and they did not get one. Furman is a recruit you can get excited about, but that's 1/4.
Impact This Year?
Redshirts for everyone, in all likelihood, except possibly Furman. Even Furman will have to beat out two guys with almost two years of experience in fall camp if he's going to win a job.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
Michigan will bolster its roster with four cornerbacks this fall. They come in two flavors. Flavor one consists of short three-stars from Ohio. They are Courtney Avery and Terrance Talbott. Avery was a prolific, tiny high school quarterback who only moonlighted on defense. He made first team All-Ohio and chose Michigan over a Stanford decommit not because of grades but because he wanted to stay closer to home. Talbott is the other Talbott's brother and struggled through injuries most of his senior year but has received positive reviews from local observers. There's some reason for optimism on both.
Cullen Christian needs no ball security
Flavor two consists of blue-chips anyone and everyone wanted who held preposterously long press conferences. Cullen Christian is the #3 corner to Scout and in the Rivals 100; he picked Michigan over Ohio State and many others after a long period of favoring Michigan. 6'1" and physical, Christian's YMRMFSPA is a holy lock to be Marlin Jackson. Demar Dorsey you may have heard about. He picked Michigan over Florida State and USC after being a Florida commit for over a year. He's the #12 player overall to ESPN and a four-star to the other sites.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
A. Four players, two of them blue-chips, at a position of crying need.
Impact This Year?
One of these kids is guaranteed to play unless JT Floyd takes a huge leap forward. A second is likely to find his way into a nickel package. If one of them is really good right away, you could see him start immediately and Troy Woolfolk move to safety. Michigan will probably redshirt one; the other three will have to play.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
We'll put Marvin Robinson (OMG HALFSHIRT) here because he's likely to play the box safety* we've been discussing extensively. Robinson is the defense's Ricardo Miller, a hyped-to-the-moon Florida prospect who seemed likely to be a five-star (or thereabouts) only to experience a precipitous drop in ranking. Robinson's drop came after a few camps he participated in. In the aftermath, Rivals gurus trashed his coverage ability and said he was a linebacker and nothing else. He still held on to a fourth star, though, and fielded offers from Ohio State and several other power programs before going with the Michigan program that had led for him seemingly forever.
The class rounds out with two sleeper-type prospects. I'm considerably more bullish on Carvin Johnson, who apparently avoided the combine circuit entirely this summer, was the best player on his team, and prompted an unsolicited email of praise from local coach (not his) when this site's initial take on him was "meh." He also won the MVP award in a state championship game his team lost by a billion points. Late LSU interest was not reciprocated.
Ray Vinopal is the kind of recruit that everyone on the internet hates on, prompting articles in which he declares a desire to prove everyone wrong and press conferences where Rich Rodriguez justifies signing the guy. The internet is not necessarily wrong, though. At the time of his commitment Vinopal was a who-dat with no recruiting profile despite his presence in Ohio power Cardinal Mooney's secondary. He apparently picked up a couple of good offers late (Wisconsin was the biggest) but the heuristics indicate a marginal contributor.
*(MGoBlog is officially adopting "box" and "deep" as its chosen lingo for Michigan safeties in what appears to be a permanent 4-4 front similar to that Virginia Tech runs. The way Michigan aligns apparently does make the deep guy the "strong" safety but since that goes against the popular conception of free and strong, it's confusing.)
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
B-. One blue chip is nice and Carvin Johnson seems like the good kind of sleeper. Would have liked a true deep safety with more than two stars, but one of the cornerbacks could move back once the
Impact This Year?
If Robinson had managed to enroll early, as planned, we'd be anxiously observing him in the hopes he could lock down that box safety spot in spring. Things did not go to plan and we'll be anxiously waiting on his arrival instead. Even so, Robinson's main competition at the position he's slated for consists of a walk-on and a converted wide receiver. I don't think he'll start right away but Michigan isn't going to be able to redshirt him and he may find his way into the lineup by midseason.
Johnson and Vinopal are likely redshirts.
The Gentlemen Of Leisure
With Zoltan the Inconceivable exiting to a long and lucrative NFL career, Michigan needed a replacement. They took a pass on in-state punter and reputed Michigan fan Mike Sadler, who ended up at State, to chase WI P Will Hagerup, who had offers from all over the country and was the highest-rated punter at Rivals. (He's the #4 K but the specialists in front of him are all placekickers.) After a few visits, Hagerup picked Michigan and its wide open job over Wisconsin, Ohio State, and others.
Preposterously Early Letter Grade
A. Hagerup is either the country's top punter or in the top three to all ranking services.
Impact This Year?
Unless Michigan's offense is so awesome it never punts, Hagerup will be deployed this fall.
All Things Collected And Told
Numbers. That's the most important thing this class brings. Even if there are twice as many sleeper types as you'd like to see in an average Michigan class, getting two guys for every spot on the defense minus a few here and there puts Michigan in a position where the first guy off the bench when a starter gets dinged isn't a walk-on. He'll be a freshman, probably. But you can't recruit juniors.
And it's not all sleeper sorts. Michigan picked up two touted corners with blue chip offers, grabbed a linebacker from Virginia Tech, locked down Marvin Robinson's abs, and grabbed a collection of defensive linemen with considerable upside. It's a below average class, but it's not that far off. And given the context, it's fairly good.
A preposterously early letter grade: B+. For the class as a whole: B.
For round 2 of The Great Ohio Creeper Van Trip, Paul and I traveled to Dayton to consume part of the Skyline Chili™ Crosstown Showdown, wherein the Talbott brothers' Huber Heights Wayne team took on the Princeton Vikings of Cincinnati.
Terrence Talbott missed the game with an injury to his left leg or foot (he was on the sidelines in an aircast and crutches), but Terry was a full-go, and the defensive tackle performed well for the Warriors. Also playing for Wayne was 2011 QB prospect Braxton Miller, who impressed as well (don't hold your breath M fans, he's highly likely to end up a Buckeye).
The Warriors shot themselves in the foot many times, including on their first drive. A big kickoff return gave them possession well into Viking territory, but QB Braxton Miller fumbled a snap on the goal line, which Princeton recovered. The Vikings drove the ball past midfield on the ensuing possession, but a long pass was intercepted by Wayne at the 1-yard line. This didn't turn out so well for the Warriors, however, as the very next play resulted in a loss of yardage and a safety. Wayne was able to strike back before half, as a big Miller run on a speed option gave the team good field position, and he finished it off with a 20(ish)-yard touchdown pass.
After the half, Wayne struck again, as the Vikings fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage, which the Warriors recovered inside the 10-yard line. Miller ran the ball in on an option from about a yard out, giving the team a 14-2 advantage. As the game turned to the fourth quarter, the rain picked up, and the play became a little sloppy. As Wayne was trying to run out the clock, a shotgun snap over Miller's head went out the back of the endzone cutting the lead to 14-4. As Princeton started driving the field to bring the game within a single score, a fumble led to a scoop-and-score for the Warriors, providing the final 21-4 margin.
Talbott was the Warriors' defensive MVP, e-fact. He was constantly in the opposing backfield, whether he was lined up at tackle or end. He was a quick-penetrating type, and even when the Vikings started trying to counter against that (eventually), he was harassing QBs, forcing running backs into his teammates, and generally being a disruptive force. He doesn't have the biggest frame in the world, but there is certainly potential to add some mass and be a quick-penetrating "SEC-style" (ugh, shoot me) defensive tackle when he arrives in Ann Arbor. Trust me, he may be a little underrated because he's a tweener, but I think this kid is an absolute steal.
Miller had some struggles, be it from a wet field, first game jitters, or even just a bit of inexperience. That said, the dude can freakin' play. Though his dad says he doesn't want to play in a college offense where he'll have to run the ball much (note: Terrelle Pryor ran 139 times last year, and passed for 165 attempts), he is rather fast, and has super quickness and agility. Though he's likely to end up playing in Columbus, he's someone that Michigan should really try to sway for next year's class. Wayne was running a spread-zone offense, with a QB read much of the time, so it's not something he'd be unfamiliar with. He's a very good fit for Michigan's offense, and would allow for Cornelius Jones to switch positions if need be.
Photo Gallery (Video in next week's Friday Night Lights post)