"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
This blog was slightly occupied last Friday when Pahokee, FL, teammates Brandin Hawthorne and Vincent Smith committed to Michigan, but better late than never. Everything the internet can offer on Michigan’s newest electron-sized recruit follows, now with organization and stuff.
|3*, #102 RB||3*, #60 RB||77, #60 RB|
In a word: “meh,” but we are talking about a 5’7” player here who is a poor fit for a lot of offenses and doesn’t have much pro upside. ESPN scouting report($) clip:
Shows a second gear when he gets outside on the perimeter and can separate in the second level with good top-end speed. However, he does appear quicker than fast and is not the burner you hope for on film with his smaller size. Runs hard and is a tough, determined back, but yards after contact should diminish at the next level versus bigger more explosive defenders.
They say he could be a “productive change of pace back” in the spread, which is kind of damning him with faint praise.
His teammates and coach are a bit more positive, as you might imagine:
His production -- more than 1,000 yards rushing last season -- helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2B state championship and USA Today's No. 6 national ranking.
And then there's his build, which Thompson simply called ``that spread-offense body.'' …
''He can do a lot,'' Pahokee quarterback-to-be Nu'Keese Richardson said, ``as far as catching it out [of] the backfield, making guys miss and stuff like that.''
Added coach Blaze Thompson: ``When he goes to camps, he'll go from wide receiver to running back, wide receiver to running back.
"He runs great routes, and he's powerful.''
A slot move may be a possibility down the road.
Smith had two other major offers from Tennessee and Wisconsin. Minnesota, Iowa State, and Southern Miss also offered. In-state programs were not interested.
Okay, kind of meh too but it’s notable that Michigan’s offer went out fast:
''[When I got] my first offer from Michigan,'' Smith said, ``I knew then I was going to be good.''
He got it in early March, before Michigan offered a bunch of other high-profile guys. They IDed him early and had him high on their list.
Lot of yards, as per usual:
Smith, a running back, led Pahokee in rushing the past two seasons and rushed for 1,196 yards last year.
Sophomore numbers were impressive:
Just behind him [FL recruit Janoris Jenkins] is the "starting" tailback Vincent Smith. Smith, a sophomore who goes 5-9 and 174 pounds, has 85 carries for 925 yards (10.3 per carry) and 15 TDs.
Keep in mind that Pahokee plays at a small-school level in Florida and dominates the competition—they’re gearing up for a run at a fourth straight state championship—and the silly YPC above should be taken with a grain of salt.
FAKE 40 TIME
Fake, fake, fake:
Indeed he is. Smith might come up short, height-wise (he lists himself at 5-9, although some have him at 5-7), but not in many other places.
His 40-yard dash time -- the high 4.3-range and dropping, he says -- is stellar.
And this has featured on the blog before, but here’s Smith narrated by Pat Summerall:
Pat Summerall, people! This kid is no joke.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If you want to argue this guy is a big deal, you’ve got Michigan’s lickety-split offer on your side. If you want to say “meh” you’ve got his other offers, the reaction of the instate schools, and the guru ratings. He’s obviously got a chance to be useful, but with four higher-rated guys in the last two classes, “useful” is a realistic upside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Smith is Michigan’s third running back commit or second slot commit or third slot commit or something. To rephrase: Michigan now has four guys in the class who will play running back or slot receiver; they graduate no running backs or slot receivers. They’re done. There’s not even anyone on the radar anymore.
Update 8/4: Linked to articles on FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith (one, two), AR CB Darius Winston (second), FL RB Jaamal Berry, MD DE Jason Ankrah and MD CB Travis Hawkins, OK RB David Oku, MI S Thomas Gordon, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, FL S DeAngelo Hadley, FL CB Mywan Jackson, TN CB Marsalis Teague, MD CB Travis Hawkins, header on FL CB Mywan Jackson. Moved FL S Mike Jones to committed. Linked to video on FL WR Jeremy Gallon, FL RB Vincent Smith.
Also, an article on Michigan's recruitment of kickers from Helmholdt; not adding Jerome Swinton just yet but keep an eye on him, I guess. And WTKA's recruiting insider podcast has useful info on Bryce McNeal and FSU commit Willie Haulstead; also some interesting items on defensive ends and Mywan Jackson. (As per usual, some links from VB.)
Editorial Opinion: Safety Mike Jones looks to be just the tip of a three-star Florida commitment iceberg. A couple of Pahokee kids, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith, are announcing August 29th, but all indications are the "announcements" are a foregone conclusion. Josh Helmholdt:
FlaVarsity.com publisher Michael Langston, who has covered both Pahokee prospects' careers the past few years, feels Michigan is the team that has the best chance to land both players.
"With Vincent, it's the ties there, how he would fit into the system and the fact that Michigan offered him first," Langston said. "With Brandin, he feels comfortable with that staff and feels he can come right in and play linebacker or whatever position they are going to play him. There's no guarantees, but those are reasons why I think those two will pick Michigan." ...
Hawthorne said Monday that his decision will come down to Michigan, West Virginia and South Florida, but he also predicted that he and Smith would be playing together in college. Michigan is the one school remaining on both prospects' lists, so the writing appears to be on the wall.
The Facebook wall, more specifically. Varsity Blue:
Pahokee Blue Devils Brandon Hawthorne and Vincent Smith won't announce their respective college decisions until August 30th, but it appears as though Michigan has a very good shot at landing both. Several readers have chimed in to let me know that each has changed various aspects of his Facebook page to indicate impending commitment to Michigan.
We saw something similar with MN WR Bryce McNeal, who decked out his Myspace page with an eye-gouging Michigan layout and told at least a couple questioners he'd decided on Michigan; public disavowals were for show and McNeal ended up committing publicly -- more publicly, at least -- a few weeks later. You can pencil those guys into the class. (McNeal, by the way, has backed off on his official visit plans and now says he is 100% Michigan.)
So we can pencil those guys into the class. Hawthorne's a slightly undersized outside linebacker sort while Smith may be the smallest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, which is saying something. Pat Summerall narrates a fluff piece with some swanky junior-year highlights:
That kid might look like he's starring in an urban remake of "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" but he looks like he's going to break the sound barrier on a couple of those runs.
Keep your pencils out for FL CB Mywan Jackson , too:
Jackson has made unofficial visit to several programs this summer, including all of the major in-state programs as well as Louisville, Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina. Michigan, though, stood out above the rest.
"Oh, yes. Definitely," Jackson said when asked if Michigan was the best he's seen.
Jackson's actually a quarterback for his high school team but most everybody's recruiting him as an athlete with an eye towards making him a defensive back. He visited Auburn with a couple teammates this weekend; he may commit right quick or extend his decision a bit further into the fall.
Aaaand one more: some kicker. Though TX K Anthony Fera was reported to have an offer last week, it appears this is not the case and that Michigan is still deciding between him and some guy from, yes, Florida. Said guy is FL K Brendan Gibbons. Someone will get an offer soon and quickly commit:
"I went to (Michigan's) camp and I think I'm their number one guy," Gibbons told Rivals.com last week.
Fera also feels strongly about his chances of being Michigan's top guy. He reported Sunday evening that he had received an email from Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson saying the decision was down to two guys. If the lot is cast in Fera's favor, he is ready to make a decision.
"If they end up offering both of us at the same time and it is first come, first serve, then I will probably take it," Fera said. "But if they give me a week or two, then I would probably take that week or two and talk it over with my parents."
Add those guys in and Michigan is suddenly getting full before football season even starts. Jackson, Smith, Hawthorne, and Some Kicker Guy would be commitments 15 through 18; Michigan's current count of open scholarships for 2009 is 17. There will be further attrition before February -- probably four or five guys, if not more -- but spots are rapidly dwindling. There is an undercurrent of panic on the message boards about the three-star flood, especially in relation to Ohio State's monster haul. I'll address all that in a separate post.
Onto non-impeding-commitment news: a few weeks ago, five star AR CB Darius Winston decommitted from Arkansas and named Michigan his leader; unfortunately, in recent articles he's backed off that assertion. His coach still thinks he's leaning north, though:
"I know Michigan has come on strong as of late and if I had to guess I'd say that's where Darius is currently leaning," Smith added. "But Darius is really open to everyone right now."
Long way to go there, obviously.
Two Southern defensive backs have three-star ratings but pretty wicked offer sheets and are listing Michigan. First, FL S Angelo Hadley :
Another school whose tradition of great players impresses Hadley is Michigan. "They have great tradition too," he said. "They always have good defensive backs and I liked guys like Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard. They always have their players highly drafted and I like the new coaches. They seem nice and I definitely plan to take a visit there this fall."
If he's serious he'll schedule an official; that's up in the air. Meanwhile, TN CB Marsalis Teague has had some interesting conversations with Michigan coaches:
Most of the schools in Teague's top six are recruiting him for cornerback, except for Michigan which he says are liking him as a signal caller. "I love their new style of offense they are gonna run under coach Rich Rodriguez ," he said. "It's the same offense we run at my high school and they said I could play quarterback there.
"Coach Rodriguez says they need a guy like me to run his offense," he said. "But they are also looking at me for corner or receiver. I guess the defensive coordinator wants me for cornerback and the offensive coordinator wants me for quarterback. Either way they've got a spot for me."
Teague is 5'10" and I will bet anyone other than the coaching staff one million dollars that even if he commits -- unlikely as he has a Miami offer and has liked them since he was a wee tyke -- he never sees a snap at quarterback.
Bonus random Southern defensive back! This one's FL CB Jayron Hosley:
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez may also be on the verge of offering Hosley.
"They (Michigan) want to come see me play. They haven't seen me play in person; they've just seen my film. They are going to see a game and go from there. I think in September," said Hosley.
The two Michigan assistants handling Hosley's recruitment are Quarterbacks Coach Rod Smith and Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer.
Hosley's a Rivals 250 guy.