The rosters are here! The rosters are here! The big news is Blake Countess will be #2 cause…
(artist: Ted Watts)
That’s got to be a new legends number, right? Nobody got 11 or 21, FWIW.
The incoming freshmen were all bequeathed their digits as well. I give them here with a few notables to have worn the digit at that position in the past. I’ve chosen to include the freshmen who were here in spring; a list of just the fall arrivals is here, courtesy Wolverine Devotee. Burn these into your memory so that it will hurt more when they’re changed to Legends numbers in a few years.
|Ian Bunting||94||TE||6'7"||223||Matt Studenski was the last TE. Massey, Horn.|
|Juwann Bushell-Beatty||76||OL||6'5"||295||Steve Hutchinson, and Brandstatter|
|Freddy Canteen||17||WR||6'1"||170||Forgotten great end (1930s version of WR) Ted Petoskey. Personal fav Carl Tabb.|
|Mason Cole||52||OL||6'5"||275||Rod Payne. Schilling.|
|Michael Ferns||51||LB||6'3"||233||John Duerr and a Brackins. (Everitt on offense)|
|Noah Furbush||59||LB||6'4"||229||89-90 linebacker Alex Marshall. The Sarantos my friend dated.|
|Drake Harris||14||WR||6'4"||180||Closest I can think of to a receiver getting PT is Andy Mignery.|
|Lawrence Marshall||93||DE||6'4"||230||Hoban and Jackson in the '70s. I see 93 I think Sam Sword.|
|Bryan Mone||90||DT||6'4"||315||Norm Heuer was a DT. Feazell, Jamison, DeFelice.|
|Brady Pallante||54||DT||6'1"||255||Donnie Warner. Imagine if Rudy actually become a really good starter, and was real.|
|Jabrill Peppers||5||DB||6'1"||210||Jersey manufacturers, start your presses. Coleman Wallace is the best CB, competition is Whitley. Think Jabrill will keep it all 4 years?|
|Wilton Speight||19||QB||6'6"||230||The other Forcier. And Harry Newman's backup.|
|Jared Wangler||19||LB||6'2"||215||Early '70s "Wolf" safety Darrell Truitt|
|Brandon Watson||28||DB||5'11"||185||Early '90s hard-hitter Deon Johnson.|
|Maurice Ways||85||WR||6'3"||192||Curt Stephenson and Marcus Knight|
|Chase Winovich||58||LB||6'3"||216||Dave Brandon Endowed This Position With His Own Name Not Kidding Cornerbacks Coach Roy Manning. Also '80s OLB Keith Cowan|
Please only give this number to tiny safeties and huge running backs from now on forever kthx.
Heitzman Expansion Principle
This is the corollary to the Heininger Certainty Principle: a person, once removed from Hoke’s defensive line, will apparently grow 1 or more inches in height as his body adjusts to the difference in pressure. Heitzman is now listed 6’4”, one inch taller than he was in spring.
Didn’t spot any. Weights haven’t been updated yet.
With the least amount of fanfare to ever accompany a 5-star athlete to Michigan, Ty Isaac committed here a few weeks ago. Where does Ty fit in among the RBs on the roster, in a zone running offense? What's the chances he has to redshirt his year? Are we, you know, rooting for this? What effect does this have on the RBs Michigan's pursuing for the 2015 class? Can he block a safety blitz? Can anyone?
BiSB: Well, any time you have someone transfer, that's going to hurt overall depth, but they still have...
...wait, really? TO Michigan? And this is permitted?
|We are way too good of a photoshopping community to get this few transfers.|
If what John Infante and others have said is true, it seems unlikely Isaac will be eligible this season. Maybe the NCAA will try to show how SUPER DUPER FLEXIBLE AND PRO-STUDENT WE ARE YOU GUYS given the ongoing legal troubles and grant a waiver where they normally wouldn't, though this is the NCAA so who wants odds. But that works out just fine; Michigan retroactively took a five star back for the '14 class. And because neither DeVeon Smith nor Derrick Green redshirted (and neither destroyed the planet as a freshman), having now taken a running back last year is currently a good plan. Take THAT, space-time continuum.
I'm going to disagree with what Brian said shortly after Isaac committed; I think his game film looks really good. We're used to seeing recruiting tape against high schoolers, so you expect a certain amount of physical dominance and sending-home-of-competition-to-acquire-shinebox. And normally they are actual highlights, not every touch. But for a true freshman against real college competition, he showed flashes of the stuff you like to see from a freshman for whom you have high hopes: he broke tackles, found extra yardage, fell forward, and showed good speed for his size. He also caught the ball well out of the backfield, which is something Michigan hasn't had in a back over 5'8" in quite some time. If any Michigan back looked like that last year, we would have all been much pleased. Okay, okay, that's probably not the best standard to use. But you get my point.
I think he's a great fit for an inside/outsize zone running scheme, because he's definitely a one-cut-and-go back but still a downhill guy. It's hard to know whether he's better suited than Green or Smith, largely because those two spent last year in a "run toward that pile of angry dudes" rushing scheme. Bottom line is that regardless of what happens with Damien Harris or Mikey Weber or Jacques Patrick, the running back depth chart looks pretty good for '15 and '16. We can worry about '17 later.
[jump. And run. And other superhuman abilities!]
so so fast
Not so fast. Incoming transfer Ty Isaac wants to play next year, and has at least some sort of case to do so. Is it enough? While we are talking about an insane organization that could do anything, the consensus is probably not.
"(The family health issue) has to be a debilitating injury," said John Infante, a former NCAA compliance officer who operates the popular "Bylaw Blog" for AthNet. "It doesn't have to be life-threatening, necessarily, but it would have to be something that prevented her from working or getting around, if it's a surgery for hearing loss, I'm not sure if that'll qualify, but it might."
And then the 100-mile thing kicks in. If Isaac was 109 miles away, you could probably fudge the difference. Michigan's distance from Peoria might be problematic.
From Michigan's perspective, moving Isaac a year behind Smith and Green is better for roster balance… but not so good for this year, when offensive production is critical for the perception of the program.
O'Bannoning. The O'Bannon trial kicked off yesterday, and there were highlights. The NCAA wanted O'Bannon to know that a man he respected thought college athletes should not be paid.
After establishing that O'Bannon looks up to Bill Walton, attorney pulls up article Walton wrote saying student-athletes shouldn't be paid.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) June 9, 2014
It was determined that Noted Legal Scholar Bill Walton has a legally binding opinion and the case ended 15 minutes later with a comprehensive NCAA victory. : (
In case the previous sentence is not true, you may want to read about the issues addressed on day one of the trial. The NCAA is trying to show that the college experience is worth something, which I guess sure it is. How that relates to publicity rights and the law is… well, there's a reason Bill Walton is getting brought up.
In related news, the NCAA blinks in the Keller case, settling that for 20 million. They have again asserted that current student-athletes who receive a check for their likeness will not have their eligibility compromised, because that's ridiculous. As long as compensation for your likeness is mandated by a court after the fact, you can profit off of it.
"In no event do we consider this settlement pay for athletics performance."
It's just getting paid for something without having to sue they have problems with. Delightfully, the NCAA is going to try to argue that there is no market for college athlete's images after settling two lawsuits in which 60 million dollars have been issued in compensation for those images. Oh, and EA says they would have paid if they could have.
Also a prime NCAA argument: the ban on compensation is required for a level playing f—
“If you’ve got a $6 million athletic budget, you shouldn’t be worrying about what I do,” [Washington president Michael] Young contends. “You’re never going to compete with us. We don’t recruit the same players. We don’t even play on the same field. It just doesn’t matter.”
A potential factor. The student section is collapsing this year, and MLive has a potential reason why. Prices:
Ohio State -- $252 for 7 games
Penn State -- $218 for 7 games
Wisconsin -- $188 for 7 games
Iowa -- $175 for 7 games, $165 with future alumni group discount
Michigan State -- $175 for 7 games
Nebraska -- $166 for 7 games
Purdue -- $119 for 7 games
Illinois -- $99 for 7 games
Rutgers -- $99 for 6 games
Minnesota -- $90 for 7 games
Indiana -- $60 for 6 games
Maryland and Northwestern -- tickets free with full tuition and student fee payment
Michigan's is 50 bucks more than Ohio State; unlike Ohio State, Michigan is barely above .500 since 2007. And Ohio State has a big game or two on the schedule. Once again, Michael Proppe sounds like the adult:
"We did a survey for students while we were researching the general admission policy, we told them 'assume the price stayed the same, here's the schedule for next year, even if we went back to reserved seating, how many would renew their tickets?' I think it was about 68 percent who said they'd renew.
"(The drop) was pretty predictable, actually, even with going back to a more attractive ticket policy that a lot of people would drop their seats."
And about 68% renewed. It's kind of amazing that it's the student government that had to survey the students.
"What we want is the students who buy tickets to show up," Brandon said. "If what we've done is lost some of the students that really weren't interested in attending, if you're looking at the projected reduction in tickets, that's almost the equivalent of the no-show average we had (last year)."
The no-show rate is not going to go down much, as the kind of people who no-show games aren't the ones for whom three hundred bucks is kind of a big deal. Michael Proppe for athletic director.
Everybody into the pile. I thought Michigan's hockey roster was going to be crowded this fall. Now it's going to be jammed. Michigan picked up a commitment from Ann Arbor native Niko Porikos a couple days back. Porikos is a '93, which means he'll arrive at 21. Generally this is a sign of a gentleman who is destined to be a healthy scratch for most of his career, and… well, yeah, probably.
In Porikos's favor, defensemen do take time to develop, and given the state of the roster it's not like they need a guy to be a practice body.
Michigan has seven defensemen on the roster, plus incoming freshmen Sam Piazza and Cutler Martin. Porikos is number ten…
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Zach Werenski and what appears to be a Swedish ten-year old
Michigan has not quite acquired a commitment from U17 defenseman Zach Werenski. Poke a guy on twitter, or especially Mike Spath—who was way out ahead of the story but has to be careful for the same reasons Sam Webb does—and he'll say Werenski is going to be in Ann Arbor. They'll generally do this with an "ugh" because Werenski is kind of a big deal, a potential top ten draft pick, and they are Boston College fans who thought they were going to get him.
The thing is: he's a potential top ten draft pick in 2015, and Werenski is probably going to be playing for Michigan this fall. IE: dude is skipping his senior year of high school. Thus the "eh, maybe" aspect of this whole thing, where Spath drops hints for months and all the news comes from the BC side of things.
Adding Werenski would put Michigan at a whopping 11 defensemen, and while a few of them are not real threats to play (Spencer Hyman redshirted last year; Mike Szuma didn't get a game after playing most of his freshman year), I thought there was some Title IX-related reason that Michigan couldn't have a really big roster. Maybe not? Title IX compliance comes down to a court saying you are or are not, because the law is written pretty vaguely.
While we're on next year's hockey team, Dylan Larkin is ranked ninth by HockeyProspect.com. That's the highest I've seen, and while he's more likely to go in the 20s than the top ten it does seem at this point that he's likely to go in the first round unlike some of Michigan's recent projected first rounders (Compher, Merrill).
So it's come to this. I assume that Erin Lennon of the Daily has not been around too long, so let me gently suggest that this…
…expect Porikos and Michigan’s underclassmen to play key roles in coach Red Berenson’s defensive-minded system.
…is more a product of sad circumstance than intent, and that if you insist on claiming that Red Berenson is some sort of trap aficionado I will become desolately sad.
It was football. Someone remind me next year when the European American Football Championships are on, because when Germany and Austria face off you get reverse passes and squat kickers doing the Manziel:
So Austria's kicker just made the Manziel $$$ sign after nailing a field goal. You should be watching this. pic.twitter.com/zBdMYL5GTK
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) June 7, 2014
Turns out the Germans and the Austrians have some bad blood here, and that's all you really need.
Etc.: Graham Glasgow was driving a merry car indeed. The NCAA hasn't even bothered to investigate North Carolina. The NCAA would probably prefer it if Washington's president would stop saying things. Mathlete's Lego stadiums make Yahoo.
But Is He ELITE? (Yes.)
Before rankling a certain perpetually aggrieved blogger with one of the most innocuous rivalry tweets ever, Alex Malzone earned himself a bid to the Elite 11 finals with an outstanding performance at the Columbus regional. 247's Barton Simmons put him at the top of the list when running down the best QBs in the "Pressure Chamber" drill (video above):
Alex Malzone – Malzone, the Michigan commit, had a very solid evening and had one of the better arms at the event. He also has good active feet in and outside the pocket. He could blend in at times but he definitely rose to the occasion during his pressure chamber showing. Of his five throws, four of them were dimes that he threw with a lot of command. He missed on a dig route but all in all, he had a strong output on his rival’s field. Later Monday night Malzone earned an invitation to the Elite 11 finals, securing one of the final 18 spots.
Scout's Allen Trieu was also impressed, though it sounds like Malzone still has a little work to do on his mechanics ($):
Malzone was generally on the money. His passes down the seam were excellent and showed the arm to hit the deep outs as well. As noted in the past, he has a hitch in his delivery, but the ball comes out of his hand nicely, with good pace, and he's an accurate passer.
Fellow commit Tyree Kinnel took the field last weekend at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and ranked #5 on their list of top defensive backs at the invite-only event ($):
Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers. Kinnel is set with his Michigan commitment.
Interestingly, Rivals listed Kinnel as a cornerback; while Michigan recruited him as a safety, he's displayed the requisite coverage ability to have positional flexibility in the secondary. After the event, Kinnel told the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga he's fully committed to U-M despite recent overtures from Alabama and Michigan State.
[Hit THE JUMP for coverage of Ty Isaac's impact on the 2015 RB situation, Grant Newsome's upcoming decision, weekend visit reactions, a potential five-star visitor, and more.]
Brandon said, “We all think of every home Michigan football game like a miniature Super Bowl.”
I don’t know any Michigan fans who think that. Quite the opposite, they think Michigan football games are the antidote for the artificial excess of the Super Bowl.
Bacon has hit a nerve here—his server is imploding under the pressure.
The problem with Dave Brandon is that he is a mediocrity in a suit with one skill, which is wearing the suit. Unfortunately, this is who is in charge most places. But when Georgia fans, who were until recently saddled with one of our nation's greatest suited mediocrities in Michael Adams, are pointing at us and saying "it could be worse"… well, it ain't good.
At least we have the student government?
The move to general admission was fairly disastrous for Michigan last fall, and former student body president Michael Proppe launched a survey of students midway through the season.
“It was so overwhelmingly negative, we knew we had to come up with something,” Proppe said.
The first survey that had 6,000 respondents was taken after the fourth home game and responses — including 76 percent saying they did not approve of general admission — were shared with the athletic department.
“It just didn’t really work,” he said.
A second survey administered with the athletic department gave a better gauge of what students want. They were asked to rank what’s most important for their game-day experience, and No. 1 was being able to sit with friends. Interestingly, students said having Wi-Fi was the lowest priority.
“That is such a misconception that putting in Wi-Fi is going to get students to show up,” Proppe said.
Michael Proppe for AD. Seriously.
Also yes. Bo Pelini suggests doing away with Signing Day altogether, which I almost support for this reason:
"If somebody has offered a kid, let him sign, it's over," Pelini told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "That will stop some of the things that are happening -- people just throwing out offers, some of them with really no intention of taking a kid."
The "almost" part is that the kid should be able to get out of the LOI if the coach he committed to gets the axe. The best system would maintain the Signing Day hoopla but also feature a non-binding LOI that you could sign whenever that would 1) prevent coaches from contacting you, 2) prevent you from taking an official visit to another school, 3) let the coaches you signed with talk to you whenever they want, and 4) guarantee you a scholarship at school X.
you get better pictures from the Mars lander
Well that clears up everything. The Ann Arbor News has an in-depth investigation about whether Taylor Lewan was the guy who punched some Ohio State fans who were begging to get punched ("Munsch had been walking around with a megaphone … taunted U-M fans on the street and inside the Brown Jug") after last year's edition of The Game. They have video that clears nothing up and quotes that contradict each other from about a dozen different people.
My takeaway is that this is time that could have been better spent finding anything else out. It seems like this incident has gotten a ton of attention for some drunk bar punchin' such as happens just about everywhere most years.
The last time I mentioned a potential transfer coming in for a visit it worked out all right. West Virginia shooting guard Eron Harris will be on campus this weekend, and a commitment to someone should be forthcoming soon. Harris has already been at Purdue and Michigan State, his other two finalists.
Perhaps relevant: MSU just landed a commitment from 2015 OH SG Kyle Ahrens, a guy who was vaguely on Michigan's radar. Harris is effectively a 2015 SG, so that may be a signal MSU doesn't have a great vibe with him.
2016 IN PG Eron Gordon is also slated to be on campus this weekend, and then the Michigan elite camp will bring in all manner of 2016 gentlemen fighting for Michigan's love and vice-versa.
The new guy. MGoVideo has a supercut of every Ty Isaac touch from last year. Sorry, you'll have to go over there—no embedding. I'm a little torn—Isaac doesn't look particularly explosive but then he outruns defensive backs in that game against Cal. Maybe he's just one of those guys who don't look like they're moving at high speed but somehow are. Guys do tend to bounce off him; Isaac had some nice chunks of YAC and tends to fall forward when that's at all a possibility.
You cannot be seeeeeeeerious. The NCAA published a snippy little press release about the portion of the O'Bannon case that EA settled on that must be seen to be believed:
The NCAA did finally find someone in their office who had a dictionary and changed "benefactors" to "beneficiaries." Meanwhile, the NCAA claiming that the "real benefactors" are the lawyers, who have dared to make money off the backs of student-ath…
uh… this is a terrible idea
I know, but that's never stopped us before
…DARED TO MAKE MONEY OFF THE BACKS OF STUDENT-ATHLETES is just… wow, man.
And they're probably going to try to draw a line between athletes being compensated for the use of their likeness in a court case and being compensated for the use of their likeness legally. I set the over under on exploded heads at NCAA HQ in the next two years at 2.5.
None of this does anything. The hockey rules committee was looking at some notable changes including three-quarter shields and changes to overtime procedure. Those all went away. The most notable change they have suggested:
Faceoff Location – Offensive Scoring Opportunity: If the offensive team is attempting to score and the puck goes out of play – the faceoff will remain in the attacking zone.
Status quo. Jake Butt is still on track to return by week three:
"I don't think we know (exactly when he'll be back) yet, but I wouldn't expect him back until after week three," Hoke said. "He feels great, he thinks he's Superman. They all do at that age.
"But he feels good."
Hoke said the hope is to get Butt back to seeing live contact action after the week three game against Miami-Ohio -- at the earliest.
This will be interesting. The Ed O'Bannon case kicks off Monday. SI has a primer and the NCAA witness list, which consists of folks disproportionately relevant to you: both Brandon and Mary Sue Coleman are on it, as are MSU AD Mark Hollis and Jim Delany. It seems like bad news that one of the economists on the NCAA side has this quote in a book of his:
“The NCAA restricts competition in a number of important activities. To reduce bargaining power by student athletes, the NCAA creates and enforces rules regarding eligibility and terms of compensation.”
It'll be interesting, but not suspenseful. Claudia Wilken, the judge in the case, has already dismissed the word "amateurism" and ruled that the NCAA can't even mention non-revenue sports, leaving:
Her reasoning is that no one forces schools to sponsor teams that can't financially support themselves, so she considers the impact on those teams irrelevant in the eyes of the law. This doesn't leave much for the NCAA to argue except the pro-competitive aspects of its rules.
A pro-competitive aspect that anyone who's ever looked at a recruiting site knows doesn't exist and the SEC commissioner just said this about:
“I consider this period of time one of the historic moments that all of us are witnesses to — an evolutionary change where we put the student-athletes first and we build our philosophies on the student-athlete rather than the so-called level playing field,” Slive said.
The NCAA is gon' die. Their current arguments are straightforward descriptions of functioning markets.
"In those circumstances, it is basic economics that allowing cash payments for (name, image and likeness usage) for the first time will tilt the distribution of talent and success towards colleges and universities with more cash to spend."
Oh, and this one.
They are only in the stadium at all because their colleges and universities have agreed to let them play ... (Athletes) cannot own the right to broadcast their games when they need the same permission that broadcasters do to be in the stadium at all.
The only tension is in how fast the NCAA will get laughed out of court.
Etc.: Caris finds his way onto a list of the top 15 draft prospects already in school. If you have no idea about soccer here's a good place to start. Looking at next year's softball team. MVictors points out a Kickstarter for old-timey jerseys. B10 championship to stay in Indy; basketball tournament to still mostly rotate between Chicago and Indy. North Carolina's Rashad McCants says the school bit of his career was a total sham.
From the man himself, it's official—USC running back transfer Ty Isaac is coming to Michigan:
I will be attending the University of Michigan this year
— Ty Isaac (@TyIsaac) June 5, 2014
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Ty Isaac's Twitter background is the album cover of Biggie's Ready To Die, making this transfer even more full of win than originally thought.
We still await word on whether Isaac will receive a hardship waiver that allows him to play this fall or if he'll have to sit out a year. Even though Michigan is outside the 100-mile radius that's the normal NCAA standard for granting a hardship, the reason Isaac transferred was so his mother—who's developed an ear condition that prevents her from flying—could drive to his games, something she can do from their Illinois home.
I thought I'd written a Hello post draft back in 2012, when Isaac was down to USC or Michigan in his recruitment. Turns out, the running back whose commitment post never saw the light of day was Bri'onte Dunn. An informative update is forthcoming.
5*, #7 RB,
5*, #4 RB,
4*, 83, #13 ATH,
4*, 95, #5 APB,
4*, #8 RB,
Coming out of high school, the recruiting services regarded Isaac as either one of the very best running backs in the country or a top-100-ish athlete. Naturally, ESPN ranks him the lowest despite an extremely positive scouting report (more on that below).
We don't have to take a guess as to his size; Isaac clocked in at 6'3", 225 pounds as a freshman last season at USC. He's a tall, upright back with the bulk to mash between the tackles and the height/hands combination to be a really dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield.
While Isaac had grabbed the attention of scouts as soon as he played on Joliet Catholic's varsity squad as a freshman, it's hard not to start this section with his record-shattering performance as a junior in the Illinois 5A state championship game, because GOOD GOD:
With 6 minutes and 40 seconds left in the first half, Isaac had already broken the Class 5A title record of 210 yards, set by Rock Island’s Alonzo Wise in 1997. With 48 seconds left until halftime, he had 376 yards, breaking a school record and the all-time IHSA rushing record for yards in a state title game regardless of class. Maine South’s Matt Perez had the previous mark in a Class 8A title game with 316 yards against Marist in 2009.
Isaac finished with 515 YARDS AND SIX TOUCHDOWNS ON 26 CARRIES, which definitely merits ALL-CAPS treatment. Search YouTube for "Ty Isaac state championship" and you get a series of clips like this, in which he makes one cut and then explodes past everybody for a touchdown:
Fits zone running scheme: check.
The massive amount of attention Isaac received for his performance didn't please him, however, as Joliet Catholic's defense collapsed and the team fell to Montini, 70-45:
"It wasn’t even something you could enjoy, it was something we needed," Isaac said. "We had to put points up. At the end of the day, it was really irrelevant."
Fits The Pattern™: check.
Aside from his eye-popping numbers, Isaac most impressed scouts with his combination of size, athleticism, and receiving ability. Scout's profile listed his strengths as breakaway speed, change-of-direction, and hands—blocking was the sole area for improvement—accompanied by this scouting report:
Tall, good sized back with the speed to break long runs. Is very smooth, changes directions well and has deceptive elusiveness. Is an excellent route runner and receiver out of the backfield who occasionally can split out or play in the slot. Does a lot of running from the wingback position, so he'll likely have to get used to inside running and blitz pick-up from a more traditional tailback spot in college. - Allen Trieu
"There was some talk that maybe Ty would flash out to the wide receiver position in college because of his size," said Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt. "I definitely think his upside is at running back, but that attests to his abilities as a receiver.
"He is a natural pass catcher with soft hands and obviously the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. He could flash out into the slot at times and create mismatches with linebackers and safeties."
That could make him a great complement to Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, both of whom are much more accomplished runners than receivers. That's not to say Isaac doesn't hold his own as a runner; Tim Prister of Irish Illustrated said there was "not much to critique" in the room for improvement area of this scouting report, while the positives were... quite positive ($):
A polished, fundamentally sound, shifty, explosive running back with excellent size, athleticism and an even-keeled demeanor on and off the football field. A long, explosive, gliding stride with excellent knee lift. Great vision and a find-the-hole, hit-the-hole mentality with the ability to anticipate where the next wave of tacklers is coming from and cut it back against the grain. Weaves through traffic with the greatest of ease.
A naturally instinctive running back. Has the unusual ability for a prep running back to hit the hole square, and then make cuts off a wide, balanced base. Has an explosive gear once the path to paydirt comes in his radar. Nice forward lean with the football. Appears to protect the football well.
Hi. I would like ALL OF THAT. Prister went on to compare Isaac to Eddie George, another big upright back whom you may remember winning the Heisman at Ohio State.
There were concerns coming out of college, given Isaac's film heavy on untouched bursts into the secondary—sorry for being so good, I guess—that he lacked between-the-tackles power or the willingness to run though contact. That's not what ESPN saw when they updated their scouting report for Signing Day 2013 ($):
More of a one-cut-and-get-north type of back, but his vision reading linebacker flow and balance going against the grain are impressive. Has lateral quicks to slip pursuit. He has good feet for his size and the patience needed to follow blocks and let the hole open up. Very good initial take off with a long stride burst to turn the corner. While he can exploit a crease and accelerate through the second level, he makes his mark on strength and will likely do so at the next level. This is a strong runner who can be a load to wrap up solidly, particularly high, when he gets square to the line and utilizes his good downhill burst. Needs to be conscious of pad level and improve lean, but shows good body balance at contact. He's a hard runner who can finish and get the tough yard. Has a sturdy frame with high toughness for multiple carries.
Isaac's stock dropped a little bit as a senior, though Scout's Allen Trieu chalked this up to nagging injuries and less-than-stellar competition when he ranked Isaac as the #2 Illinois prospect in his class behind (sigh) Laquon Treadwell ($):
Isaac had a lot to battle this year. He had to fight injury as well as a growing sentiment that he did not play great competition in high school. Maybe those folks forgot about what he did as a junior, or his six touchdowns in the state title game against a good Montini team. He has good size, speed, and a smooth running style that has him compared with some of the USC greats that he now inherits the mantle from. He's also a great receiver out of the backfield, another asset he will bring to SoCal.
So that gets us through his high school career. Isaac's college career got off to a slow start, as he received just ten carries through the first nine games in a crowded backfield. After a breakout performance against Cal (11 carries, 87 yards, 2 TDs) in the tenth game, he mentioned one of the primary reasons it took him a while to get into gear:
Arriving on campus this summer after a storied high school career in which he rushed for a total of 5,305 yards out of a prolific double-wing attack, Isaac had some difficulties early on as he made the switch from wingback to tailback in USC’s intricate pro-style scheme.
“It was a shock to the system,” Isaac said. “I ran about five plays in high school, and now I’ve got five different reads on one play, so that was definitely something that I had to adjust to.”
Even though he must switch systems once again, it'll be far less of a transition than going from a very simple high school offense that utilized him as a wingback to a complicated pro-style attack with him as a traditional tailback.
Programs to offer Isaac out of high school included Arizona, Auburn, Clemson, Illinois, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin.
If you're really curious, you can read a remarkably extensive history of Joliet Catholic football here.
As a high school junior, Isaac rushed for 2629 yards and 42 touchdowns on 203 carries, posting a ridiculous 13 yards per carry, while adding 360 yards and seven more TDs on 16 receptions (22.5 ypc). I can't find senior stats more specific than 1500 yards and 22 touchdowns on an unknown number of rushes—still not bad for an injury-plagued year.
At USC, he toted the rock 40 times for 236 yards (5.9 ypc) and two TDs, and chipped in four receptions for 57 yards.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 40 time of 4.45. I can't find the source of the time, so I'll give it four FAKEs out of five. That would be very impressive for a back of that size, and while Isaac shows off solid top-end speed, he's not a pure burner.
Junior highlights, featuring a whole lot of that state title game:
While Cal's defense was, well, bad, you're still going to want to check out his second touchdown run in that game:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
A lot of this depends on the status of Isaac's redshirt. If he receives his NCAA waiver and is allowed to play right away, he should factor in immediately to Michigan's running back rotation—he has a size/skill combination, especially when it comes to receiving, that no other U-M back can boast.
If he doesn't get the waiver, that might actually work out best for U-M, as it would put Isaac a year of eligibility behind Green and Smith and give him a clear shot at the full-time starting gig in a few years. Of course, he may very well earn that role before Green and Smith graduate; there's a lot of unknown when it comes to the running backs given the state of the offensive line. No matter what, he should see the field whenever he's allowed to.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
This is where the NCAA waiver really comes into play. If Isaac redshirts this season, the need to land an elite back in the 2015 class is somewhat alleviated. If he doesn't, getting a back who will be ready to start in a few years will still be very important. Michigan should take a back regardless, but a potential extra year of Isaac on the roster would soften the blow of possibly missing out on both Damien Harris and Mike Weber.