Mike Lantry, 1972
You Know The Drill
TRUE FACT: TomVH used to say "buckle up" all the time. You should remind him of this frequently.
On Wednesday morning, TomVH broke the news that five-star NJ CB Jabrill Peppers will announce his college decision live on ESPNU on May 26th*, when he'll choose between finalists LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, and Stanford. Peppers
has a visit set to Penn State for tomorrow, and could make one more "surprise" visit—presumably Rutgers—before making his announcement.
[UPDATE: Scout's Brian Dohn just posted on the GBW message board that a source tells him Peppers has cancelled his Penn State visit ($).]
As for any concerns that those final visits could sway Peppers from a presumed pledge to Michigan—let's just say it doesn't sound likely, given this quote to a local paper:
“I know and feel very confident in the decision I’m going to make,” said Peppers.
Michigan commits feel very confident in that decision being for—you guessed it—Michigan:
— Drake Harris™ (@drizzygetbusy01) May 15, 2013
(If you're wondering why Speight and Harris will be in San Diego, quarterback guru George Whitfield—the guy with the broom who's worked with Devin Gardner—is hosting a camp that weekend.)
You have nine days until following proper safety protocol is strongly advised. I have eight days to decide whether pre-writing a post is worth the jinx-bait.
BONUS: In the wake of the MSU-Jay Harris mutual** parting of the ways so Harris can pursue a rap career, Peppers weighed in on his USA Today blog [emphasis mine]:
Peppers, who will choose between Michigan, Stanford, Penn State, Notre Dame, LSU and Rutgers on May 26, said that each school is well aware of his current rap career and long-term aspirations.
"They ask me about it all the time," Peppers said. "They're OK with it because my raps are clean. I just think if he (Harris) really wanted to pursue rap he could've gone about it a better way. I don't think anyone in their right mind would turn down a free education to a prestigious university to play football. It could only help your career."
Peppers said from broadening your vocabulary, to overwhelming exposure, to having an established fan base, "whether you're nice with your rap skills or not," college has "unlimited benefits" to boosting a career in the booth.
One key difference between Peppers and Harris, aside from the blunt-smoking and bailing on a free education: Peppers is nice on the mic, Harris... well, you've probably seen the video by now. I'm legitimately disappointed Leon McQuay III didn't sign on this year, both for the obvious reason—he's pretty good at football—and so he and Peppers could potentially form the elite defensive back version of JDK & Rey.
BONUS BONUS: Speaking of good defensive back recruits, IL CB Parrker Westphal could be approaching a commitment, per TomVH ($):
After his visit to Arizona State [this weekend] Westphal says he might take a trip to Tennessee, but nothing is set in stone. From there he will only focus on those schools on his list and continue to visit and evaluate what those programs have to offer. Westphal still says he is in no hurry to make a decision, but would like to get it done sooner than later.
“I want to make it before the season,” he said. “Games don’t start until August, but practice is in a few weeks so we’ll see when it happens.”
Michigan is "still the school he uses to compare other visits," and Westphal noted that his recent Florida visit went well... with the caveat that Michigan offers better academics. If he sticks to a summer decision timeline, it's hard to see him ending up elsewhere.
*Now a banner day for fans of Michigan football and Arrested Development. Peppers' announcement will hopefully ensure that I don't attempt to watch the entire fourth season in one sitting. (I probably will anyway.)
**Since Harris had signed a LOI, it's my understanding that State could not legally revoke his scholarship without consent, though the looming prospect of getting through admissions means Harris still didn't have much of a choice, in all likelihood.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the linebacker situation, new offers, Michigan visiting the son of rap royalty, and more.]
Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...
My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.
Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!
I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.
Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*
The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...
[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]
I'm ignoring this Boston business. Should I have to mention this? Probably not. Rest assured that when the zombie apocalypse comes I'll be here speculating about how it affects Michigan's roster when the starting quarterback bites his center.
Fritz Crisler's advice to Walter. Eat plenty of ruffage, young man.
This is apparently a new find from user Messenger Puppet. The message board sleuths have identified "Walter" as a
missing Brown student Walter Freihofer, who had quite a life. The timing fits: he graduated high school in 1940 and died about a year ago; the letter was probably uncovered as someone was going through his things.
Yes, Wilton. Wilton Speight provides MLive with a picture of him hellaciously stiffarming a hapless fool who dares approach Speight's aura:
That's in an article about Speight's high ranking on ESPN. I was not aware that he'd reclassified after a serious collarbone injury in the first game of his junior season. In general that's a good thing—experience is everything for quarterbacks, who don't approach their ceilings until they're 35.
I should mention that I missed MO LB Kyron Watson in my rundown of Michigan targets in the ESPN 150. He's 100th.
Hated Chad Ford, man, you just don't get it. Hated Chad Ford is mostly a joke about how Chad Ford is all like taking my peoples from me, but come on man:
"His decision to return, considering his age (he turns 21 before the draft) and high draft stock at the moment, is a puzzling one -- I'm not sure his draft stock will ever be higher. A potential first-round pick in 2014."
There are things other than draft stock in life, like being the man on a very good college basketball team.
2014 looms. It appears that Michigan's got a one-year reprieve here from GRIII and McGary. Paste these two items together…
"We're like brothers," McGary said. "Coach says we're joined at the hip, I don't think it's that serious. But (part of my decision relied on) what he was doing.
"We just kind of wanted to come back together, make a run at it and play the way we play."
"It was 50-50," McGary said. "I might have been leaning a little bit toward (leaving at first), but I talked it over with my family, and I thought this was what was best.
"I kind of want to be a kid for one more year."
...and you get both guys planning on leaving after next year. This is fine. It gives Michigan time to replace them. It does mean that the 2014 recruiting class will burgeon to at least 5 players, more if there is a transfer or Stauskas blows up into a lottery pick. Or Spike, I guess.
In any case, Michigan's next basketball recruiting class is huge for the continued program upswing. It currently consists of Florida big man Ricky Doyle and Indiana wing Austin Hatch, if Hatch can get back on the court. That's kind of a big if; it seems likely Michigan signs the guy and puts him on a medical scholarship. They'll probably add four additional players: another post-ish guy who will be around (Michigan will have just Doyle, Donnal, and Bielfeldt in 2015), a couple wings, and then a wild card.
Michigan's caught the eye of Milwaukee five-star Kevon Looney:
In an interview with ChicagoHoops.com earlier this week, Looney listed Michigan as one of a handful of schools firmly on his radar.
Looney, who said his recruitment was still "pretty wide open," also listed Michigan State, Tennessee, Florida, Duke, Georgetown and Wisconsin as schools he's hearing the most from.
At 6'9", Looney is a Kevin Durant-style wing with range.
Putting him at the four in Beilein's system would be almost unfair. Let's hope that "Michigan" coming out of his mouth first means something down the road. One and done? Uh… probably. Don't tell Beilein.
Meanwhile, Sam Webb told his WTKA audience this morning that if Trevon Bluiett and Vincent Edwards were to pick today, they would both be headed elsewhere. (I'd guess those destinations would be Butler and Purdue.) That wasn't a lock or anything, but just a feeling from a connected guy. They seem to be leading for Devin Booker despite heavy attention from powers, but Booker isn't rushing towards a decision.
Michigan's going to see their options expand; this AAU circuit will see a half-dozen new prospects on the radar. The three guys mentioned in the previous paragraph are their only current offerees right now. That'll change in the next few months. UMHoops has some additional information on who they might offer.
While Beilein wasn't gung-ho about the possibility after Trey's departure…
"I don’t think we’re in a position where we have to use (Trey’s scholarship)," Beilein said. "But if there’s the right situation – last year Caris was more of a redshirt, was going to be."
…they could take a swing at a 2013 kid if one they like pops up. They've got two scholarships available. Assuming GRIII and McGary are gone after this year, if you can get a guy who you think you can be a four-year contributor more along the lines of Caris LeVert than Colton Christian that's a move you may want to make. There's a shaky rumor about Michigan reaching out to former Hofstra commitment Gabe Levin, so they're poking around a bit.
Okay, not just me. I was wondering if what I saw from Delonte Hollowell in the spring game was a hallucination or wishful thinking. Apparently not:
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison indicated there's more to it than that -- that Hollowell had a terrific spring, and could force his way into the rotation come fall.
“I think you probably thought it was rhetoric when we first got here and you heard me say it before -- you’re evaluated every day in practice," Mattison said when asked about Hollowell's start. "The thing that Brady (Hoke) does such a good job of is that we have competitions in practice. Competition means it’s a game.
"How you react in that competition is going to decide who’s going to earn the right to play the next day and be where they are the next day in the depth chart. So that depth chart can change day to day."
Hollowell played in 11 games last season, but mostly on special teams. He played in three games as a reserve defensive back, recording one tackle.
I brought this up on 'TKA yesterday tentatively and got the same vibe from Sam. While Hollowell isn't going to start over Taylor or Countess, hopefully they'll be comfortable enough to put a third cornerback on the field this fall if someone goes down. Now someone get him tweeting again.
Amara to the rescue. Another guy pushing his way up the depth chart is a key one for Michigan's next couple years, what with the receiver depth looking shaky. He's Amara Darboh:
"I knew Darboh was going to catch the ball," Gardner said. "We knew what was going to happen. We were planning to call that play (the day before the game), and Coach Borges just said get it up and give him a chance.
"That's what I did. He performed." …
"He can do everything well," Gardner said. "He can shake guys in the short-range game, and he can go deep."
That bomb was quality: Darboh got a release that gave him space to the outside and adjusted to a less than perfect ball comfortably. That takes skill.
We're Texas. That means our administrators specialize in sounding like twits. Multi-year scholarships are now legal, but the baton is being picked up slowly despite those press conferences in the immediate aftermath of that rule's passage where every coach in the country said they would offer four-year rides. Full numbers are hidden behind a paywall, but the Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that multi-year deals are rare:
Nearly two-thirds of the 56 most powerful Division I public universities now offer multiyear awards, according to a Chronicle review of public records. Yet few of those institutions do so for more than a handful of athletes.
Among the holdouts are some of the wealthiest programs, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Oregon, and Texas A&M. At the University of Arizona, Georgia Tech, and the University of Louisville, this year's NCAA men's basketball champions, you can count the multiyear beneficiaries on one hand.
Here's the bit where someone from Texas sounds like a twit:
"Who gets a four-year, $120K deal guaranteed at age 17?" Christine A. Plonsky, women's athletic director at the University of Texas, wrote in an e-mail to The Chronicle. "The last thing young people need right now is more entitlement."
This is an athletic department that has an entirely separate athletic director for their womens' teams talking about how young people are entitled. I wish I had a magic poverty wand I could wave at people.
Christine A. Plonsky finds herself in the kitchen of Taco Bell. She somehow knows her car is now a 1979 Yugo, her home a double-wide, her husband a machinist. She still makes more than 30k a damn year.
Sing to me, o fate, a tale of entitlement—
Shut up and make me 12 soft tacos.
Anyway. John Infante argues that this sort of inconsistent application of the new multi-year rule is actually a good thing. First, a few numbers he pulled out:
But even colleges that have moved toward the longer agreements have done so modestly. Six institutions signed at least two dozen multiyear agreements this academic year. They include the University of Florida (60), Ohio State University (47), North Carolina State University (40), Michigan State University (30), Arizona State University (27), and Auburn University (27).
But multiyear awards still account for less than one-tenth of all athletic scholarships at most of those institutions.
IIRC OSU and MSU were amongst the schools that promised all of their football folks would be on multi-year scholarships, which clearly isn't happening. Meanwhile, Michigan doesn't even appear on this list of moderate adopters. On the other hand, Infante mentions that Illinois is giving out multi-year deals to virtually everybody.
Recruits are beginning to understand their power in the negotiation as well as the tools they can use to get the best deal. Hopefully as the market in recruiting and athletic scholarships continues to mature, more recruits and schools will understand their bargaining positions. This encourages the best situation for athletes: when the agreement they sign is the same one that both they and their coach intend and understand.
Contrast this with setting scholarships at any one length. Under the old one-year maximum, coaches were flat out lying to prospects and their families. They would say that a one-year agreement was really for four years, and that as long as the athlete stayed eligible and out of trouble, the scholarship would be renewed. Then when the athlete was injured or did not live up to expectations, the grant-in-aid would be nonrenewed.
Requiring four- or five-year scholarships creates a similar situation. The coach assures the athlete that they have a four-year agreement, because look, there it is in a written contract. Then when the athlete does not pan out, the coach begins looking for ways to get out from under the commitment. That leads to deliberately confusing scholarship agreements and team/department rules which are inconsistently enforced.
As long as the guarantee remains in place—and the roster spot occupied—even when a guy is booted, that's about all they can do. But it'll be interesting to see if recruiting reporters start asking kids about the details of their "offers." Is Illinois explicitly using a longer-term promise as an incentive? Is, say, Western Michigan guaranteeing four-star commit Chance Stewart four years, and is that why he's headed for the MAC instead of the Illini? Shouldn't Da'Shawn Hand demand any school he signs with guarantee him four years?
It feels like a lot of stakeholders in the recruiting game are trying to downplay the existence of the multi-year rule. That can't last, and then things get interesting.
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers #Project135, reactions from last weekend's unofficial visitors, and much more.
2014 commit Michael Ferns unwittingly incited mass speculation last week when he teased a recruiting-related "big surprise" on Twitter that he dubbed "#Project135". Fans hoping for a new commit were disappointed, but what Ferns revealed on Friday was actually a pretty cool idea:
Kids pick the darndest fonts
Even before this, Ferns had been very active in recruiting his 2014 classmates—it's clear that Shane Morris and his tireless efforts to bring in commits for Team 134 have influenced the next wave.
One of Michigan's other 2014 commits, Wilton Speight, got the profile treatment from MLive's Kyle Meinke; in the piece, Speight talks about flying 2,000 miles to train, and also why he felt comfortable with Michigan's coaching staff:
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said. "There's lots of coaches from all over the country who will come in and say, 'You're our guy, you're our guy. Just wait, you're going to get an offer.' And then they go out and find someone who's better.
"Michigan, they didn't necessarily tell me I was their guy. They said, 'We're looking at two other guys too.' The thing is, I already knew that, because the quarterback recruits, we're a tight circle. We're all pretty close, and I knew who else they were looking at. And the fact they were up front with me about that meant a lot.
"It was just a perfect fit for me. It was a no-brainer."
It seems like every time Michigan pulls in a commit, one of the top two or three reasons they give for their choice is the level of honesty and openness they experience with the coaches. That's a very good thing, of course, especially in today's recruiting echo chamber—gone are the days when a coach could tell three players at the same position that they're all the school's number one priority and get away with it, not with the pervasiveness of recruiting news and recruits staying in close contact with each other.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from Parrker Westphal and Daniel Helm, the latest top schools for several recruits, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers a spate of new offers, Wilton Speight, and several things that don't sound like "spate" at all.
Wilton Speight: Part Cyborg
Signing Day 2013 is over, as for the most part so is our discussion of it here—probably for the best, given that the dominant post-NSD story centered around what Reon Dawson may or may not have said about his childhood favorite school. Brian and I did an extensive breakdown of the class on this week's podcast (coming soon) if you haven't had your fill, and I'll update the recruiting class rankings today.
Meanwhile, Michigan got a jump on the 2014 class with the Signing Day commitment of VA QB Wilton Speight, who was profiled on his school's website—he described the injury that caused him to reclassify:
“It was an option-read,” Speight said of that fateful play late in Cougars’ opener, a 34-19 victory over Trinity Episcopal. “I got past the defensive end and linebackers. There was one man between me and the goal line. I tried to jump over him. As I was in the air, he caught my feet, which flipped me over. I tried to break the fall with my elbow, but (the impact) shot my shoulder up.
“I walked to the sideline hoping it was a stinger. (Athletic trainer) Shannon (Winston) moved it around. She felt crunches. I heard it crunch. My collarbone was broken in two places.
“Looking back, I probably didn’t have to make that play, but when you’re competitive, it’s hard to just step out of bounds.”
While Speight had complete confidence in his surgeon, Dr. “Moose” Herring, he knew that fulfilling his dreams was now dependent upon his own perseverance, strength of will, and self-discipline.
Speight's injury woes didn't end there, despite the best efforts of Dr. "Moose" Herring, who by virtue of name alone I would entrust with my life, let alone my collarbone. After dealing with a partial MCL tear in basketball season, Speight's collarbone took another hit during lacrosse season, and as a result he's now part cyborg:
“I had the ball and came around the cage,” he recalled. “When I shot, a defensive player brought his stick down on my (right) shoulder.
“He hit it hard enough that the part of the bone not covered by the plate broke off the metal.
“It was a clean break, thankfully. Dr. Herring was able to open it back up and put in a six-inch plate with eight screws that covers my whole collarbone.
“It will definitely prevent anything from breaking up there again.”
I, for one, welcome any and all cyborg athletes willing to aid Michigan's quest for
world domination a Big Ten championship.
Also of note: cyborg QBs apparently recruit a little, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for the 2014 Rivals100, a bevy of new offers, and my take on Lawrence Marshall committing to Ohio State.]