no, YOU'RE off topic
Today's recruiting roundup is football. Football!
After going to five games in two days over the weekend, I can officially declare it to be football season, not that I'm in a position to declare such things. But seriously: football is here, and a bunch of future Wolverines are playing it. This is not quite as exciting as current Wolverines taking the field on Saturday, but it's exciting nonetheless.
I'll have much, more more coming tomorrow, but Shane Morris opened his senior season in the shadow of the Big House at Ann Arbor Pioneer. After struggling early, throwing a pick on his first pass and starting just 2-for-9, he bounced back to finish 14-for-26 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that could've been better if not for several drops. He'll have to work on starting as strong as he finishes; he still looks like a five-star prospect. My brother and roommate each saw Morris for the first time on Friday, and all it took was one effortless launch of the football in warmups to convince them both that the hype is warranted. Morris makes throwing a football 60 yards look as easy and routine as brushing your teeth.
Cass Tech's tilt with Brother Rice—when not interrupted by shooting scares, again more on which tomorrow—was a classic battle that went down to the wire. The Technicians pulled out a 25-18 victory thanks to two Damon Webb touchdown catches—one on an end-around pass by Jourdan Lewis(!)—and a late 74-yard touchdown run by junior Gary Hosey. Lewis had an uneven performance at corner but had a big punt return on the only time Brother Rice didn't actively avoid him. David Dawson gave his usual stellar effort at left tackle, paving the way for big rushing efforts from Hosey and Deon Drake.
In the other game I saw this weekend featuring a Michigan commit, Khalid Hill caught three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown—coming on an impressive 65-yard catch-and-run—but it wasn't quite enough to lead East Lake Village over Oak Park. Hill looked impressive in the passing game but left a lot to be desired as a run blocker.
[After the jump, more football(!)]
Future Blue Originals return this fall—holy crap, return in less than two weeks—as I'll once again be driving around the Midwest to scout Michigan's commits and targets. I'll be enlisting the help of Heiko and Eric to improve the quality of the video and photos, which should also allow for more detailed scouting reports, and I'm hoping to cover even more games than last year.
Below you'll find the schedules for Michigan's in-state commits as well as one high-profile 2014 target. Unlike last year, when the Wolverines had a couple of Toledo-area commits, I'll probably focus entirely on these prospects unless something changes; luckily, there are plenty of intriguing games to check out. If you have any corrections—or, even better, plan on scouting one of these games yourself—please let me know in the comments or shoot me an email.
Cass Technical School
|Detroit Cass Tech 2012|
|8-25||7:30 PM||Birm. Brother Rice (@Wayne State)|
|8-31||4 PM||Detroit Northwestern|
|9-7||7 PM||Detroit Renaissance|
|9-14||4 PM||@ Detroit Cody|
|9-21||7 PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|9-28||4 PM||Detroit Ford|
|10-5||4 PM||@ Detroit Mumford|
David Dawson (2013 commit)
HS Position: Offensive tackle
Projects as: Offensive guard
Jourdan Lewis (2013 commit)
HS Position: Wide Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
Damon Webb (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Wide Receiver/Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback
Deon Drake (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Running Back/Outside Linebacker
Projects as: Outside Linebacker
Gary Hosey (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Running Back/Middle Linebacker
Projects as: Running Back
Last season Cass Tech, led by Michigan commits Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson, rebounded from an ugly opening-week loss to Farmington Hills Harrison to capture the Division 1 state title over Detroit Catholic Central. Michigan's favorite pipeline school has the ability to repeat that success this season, boasting another pair of Wolverine commits—OL David Dawson and WR/CB Jourdan Lewis—and several other BCS-level prospects.
One of the up-and-coming prospects to already hit Michigan's radar is junior corner Damon Webb, who had a breakout summer on the camp circuit and appears to be the next in line in Cass Tech's four-star cornerback parade. Classmate Deon Drake has already attracted attention from several Big Ten schools at linebacker, and Michigan is recruiting fellow RB/LB Gary Hosey as a big running back. Sophomore quarterback Jayru Campbell already has offers from Alabama and Notre Dame and will look to add Michigan to the mix this fall.
I'll probably attend at least two Cass Tech games this fall, and I'll definitely be at their opener against last year's Division 2 champ, Birmingham Brother Rice. Given Cass Tech's near-guaranteed presence in the state playoffs, I might save my second or third trip for then, though the MHSAA is notoriously stingy about filming at those games.
Detroit Catholic Central
|Detroit Catholic Central 2012|
|8-24||7 PM||Detroit Cody|
|8-31||7 PM||@ Toledo Whitmer|
|9-8||2 PM||Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller|
|9-23||1 PM||De La Salle|
|9-29||1 PM||@ U-D Jesuit|
|10-6||7 PM||Brother Rice (@Berkley, MI)|
|10-12||7PM||@ Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
Wyatt Shallman (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Running Back/Defensive End
Projects as: Running Back
The Shamrocks fell just short of the state title last season, and this year they'll have to replace the production and leadership of incoming Michigan freshman Matt Godin, who starred on both lines. They'll navigate one of the tougher schedules in the state, both in non-conference—Whitmer and Moeller are two powerhouse Ohio programs—and conference play.
Wyatt Shallman will be the main focus from my end, of course. Shallman performed admirably as a junior while struggling with a hamstring injury, so I'm very curious to see how much that affected him—especially running the football—now that he's healthy. Michigan is bringing him in as a running back, but I'll also get to see him at defensive end; he could wind up there in college if running back doesn't work out.
DCC's schedule provides some difficulties because several of their games—including marquee matchups against Moeller and Brother Rice—fall on Saturdays. A Sunday tilt against Shane Morris and De La Salle, however, beckons.
De La Salle Collegiate
|De La Salle 2012|
|8-24||7 PM||@ Ann Arbor Pioneer|
|9-1||3 PM||@ Cleveland St. Ignatius|
|9-8||7 PM||Dearborn Fordson (@Lake Shore)|
|9-15||7 PM||Brother Rice (@South Lake)|
|9-23||1 PM||@ Catholic Central|
|9-29||1 PM||Niagara (WI)|
|10-6||7 PM||Orchard Lake St. Mary's|
|10-12||7 PM||@ U-D Jesuit|
Shane Morris (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Quarterback
Projects as: Quarterback
Morris led De La Salle to a 9-3 record last season, with their final loss coming against Cass Tech in the state playoffs. Last year Morris was something of a one-man show for the Pilots; he'll get some help this year with the addition of wide receiver Jack Wangler—son of John—who's one of his favorite targets on the 7-on-7 circuit.
After attending just about every camp imaginable this summer, not to mention being heavily scouted for over a year, Morris is a relatively known commodity; as a result, he probably won't be my top priority when I'm picking games to scout. That said, his opening game is just down the road at Pioneer, a game I'll almost certainly check out. I'm also planning to see the Catholic Central game, giving me a couple chances to check up on Morris before the playoffs.
East English Village Prep
|East English Village Prep 2012|
|8-25||11 AM||Oak Park (@Wayne State)|
|8-31||7 PM||@ Detroit Martin Luther King|
|9-7||4 PM||Detroit Douglass|
|9-14||4 PM||@ Detroit Denby|
|9-21||4 PM||@ Detroit Southeastern|
|9-28||7 PM||Detroit Central|
|10-5||4 PM||Detroit Pershing|
Khalid Hill (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Tight End
Projects to: Tight End
Detroit Crockett and Detroit Finney have closed their doors and combined to form East English Village Prep—also known as "The Ville"—which plays its first season in the PSL this year. They'll feature Khalid Hill at tight end; given that Hill hasn't hit many camps and is one of the few commits not regarded as a solid four-star, I'll be curious to check him out in game action.
The Ville will play their first ever game at the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State, an event I'll be covering closely. They play a number of games on Friday afternoons, as well, so I'll probably head to one other game for a doubleheader. If you have a preference of oppoenents between Douglass, Central, and Pershing, let me know in the comments.
Chandler Park Academy
Harper Woods, MI
|Chander Park Academy 2012|
|8-24||7 PM||@ New Philadelphia (OH)|
|8-31||7 PM||@ Summit Academy|
|9-14||7 PM||Old Redford Academy|
|9-21||7 PM||Bradford Academy|
|9-28||7 PM||Detroit University Prep|
|10-5||7 PM||Detroit PEC Prep|
|10-13||7 PM||@ Michigan Collegiate|
Csont'e York (2013 Commit)
HS Position: Wide Receiver
Projects to: Wide Receiver
Csont'e York is one of the biggest mysteries of this 2013 class, in no small part because he plays in one of Michigan's smaller divisions at Chandler Park Academy. The Eagles finished 9-3 last year, losing to Detroit Crockett in the opening round of the state playoffs.
York is a player I'd like to see twice given the lack of available information about him; he'll likely be the second half of a doubleheader after I go to see Hill. It looks like September 14th will be the day to do that. A return for the October 5th tilt against PEC Prep may also be in the cards.
|Chander Park Academy 2012|
|8-25||5 PM||Old Redford Academy|
|8-31||6 PM||Cranbrook Kingswood|
|9-8||1 PM||@ Allen Park Cabrini|
|9-14||6 PM||Riverview Richard|
|9-21||TBA||Dearborn Divine Child|
|9-28||7 PM||@ Bishop Foley (WI)|
|10-5||6 PM||Our Lady of the Lakes (@U-D Jesuit)|
|10-19||4 PM||@ DEPSA Early College|
Malik McDowell (2014 Prospect)
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects to: Defensive End
McDowell may very well be the state's top 2014 prospect and Michigan is right in the thick of his recruitment. Loyola suffered just one loss last season, falling to Hudson in the second round of the state playoffs, though like Chandler Park they have the advantage of playing against somewhat less than top-flight competition.
I'll certainly aim to see McDowell at least once this fall; depending on the time of the Dearborn Divine Child game, that's likely the one I'll end up scouting.
Make sure to check back Friday when I post the out of state schedules, and once again please email me if you plan on attending any games and submitting photos/video/scouting reports for the blog.
A-Train, Perry, Hart. Photos archived from MGoBlue.com
Here is what has Michigan football fans all aflutter this week: With two 4-star running backs committed to our class, do we still have room for a 5-star running back? #firstworldproblems. Since this is our concern, I thought we'd take a look at the prospective depth charts that past Michigan RBs committed to and see if the prospective mountain for 2013 prospects is any harder than the typical Michigan starting tailback's, prospectively speaking.
When the next class arrives in 2013 Toussaint and Hopkins—a permanent fullback I mention because he's the B.J. Askew type of fullback who will eat up carries—will be seniors, and Vincent Smith will be gone. Barring attrition, the next generation, i.e. the guys an additional 2013 commit should expect to be competing with, will then look something like this:
- Thomas Rawls, Junior
- Justice Hayes, RS Sophomore
- Drake Johnson, RS Freshman
- Dennis Norfleet, RS Freshman or Soph.
- Wyatt Shallman, Freshman
- Deveon Smith, Freshman
Three RBs in the 2013 class gives us potentially five freshmen competing for carries with a sophomore and a junior. "Barring attrition" would almost be a fool's gamble given the history of the position in all my years of following Michigan, except Hoke's program has so far (very small sample) been actually kind of remarkable in holding onto guys—policy is to give them all the benefit of the doubt.
Anyway we have the dudes; if Iowa RBHG gets bored one day he will find too many sacrifices for even his mighty, smite-y hand. This means Michigan is doubtful to take any more add-on running backs to pack the roster unless they or someone on the list is switching to defense. However there is absolutely room—even a need perhaps—for a high-profile back in this class.
The recruiting profiles of a lot of these guys suggests any could be beatable by a hypothetical freshman 5-star. Norfleet and Johnson were both very under-the-radar guys. The former and Justice Hayes are more like scat-backs who could as easily end up as slot-kick returners (though from yesterday's Spring video it looked like Hayes has bulked up a bit since last year, or else someone else is wearing 5. Insiders?). Asking if Shallman is really a running back is entering the realm of media cottage industry. Rawls is so Kevin Grady. At this point Smith is a 4-star to Scout, an Anton Campbell Memorial "no idea, but I guess he committed to Michigan" 3-star to Rivals and a guy named Smith to the other sites. Throw a dart at that group in two years and you could hit anything from (respectively) Mark Ingram/Steve Breaston/Barry Sanders/Mike Hart/Ron Dayne/Eddie George Except Faster to six Brackenses.
Of all positions tailback seems the most freshman-friendly, so it's not as necessary to stockpile today for 2017. On the other hand if you look at Michigan history the lesson is MOAR TAILBACKS. In fact Michigan's great running backs of the last two decades have mostly committed to apparent depth charts way more jammed with highly rated players and established starters:
The thing that's readily apparent is the youth. Michigan averaged about two recruits per year at RB, and graduated one a year. Some didn't move far—Chris Floyd, B.J. Askew, and more recently Stephen Hopkins switched to a type of ball-carrying fullback. A good many switched to defense. A good many quit the team too. But look at the depth charts so many highly rated backs committed to:
- Tshimanga Biakabutuka would have to beat out Tyrone Wheatley, Rickey Powers, and Ed Davis, not to mention a higher rated recruit in his own class. He earned 149 carries in two years versus that group then became his own legend as a junior.
- Chris Howard signed on with two all-everything backs with a sophomore Biakabutuka already established, and ended up the nominal starting RB for a national champion.
- Clarence Williams, the Cass Tech mite, didn't seem afraid of larger classmate J.R. Ford or the aforementioned guys; he beat out Howard and Floyd as a freshman, became the feature back as a sophomore, and spent his whole career battling Howard, Floyd, and A-Train for carries.
- Anthony Thomas was the second-least heralded of four heralded backs who might have believed they were coming in to wait two years for Howard and C-Will to clear out. The train arrived at the starting station his freshman year and eventually broke most of Michigan's rushing records.
- Justin Fargas signed up beside Walter Cross, while freshman A-Train was tearing it up, and before A-Train's classmates skedaddled.
- B.J. Askew came in with three other freshman backs, including 5-star Ryan Beard, when Thomas had two more years, and two more 5-stars, including the electrifying Fargas, had three.
- Chris Perry had about the clearest route to the starter's gig of anybody, but that still meant behind two 5-stars with sophomore eligibility (Beard, Fargas), and one junior (Cross).
- Mike Hart might have looked like depth no matter which class he signed onto. To win the starting job as a true freshman he beat out senior David Underwood, junior Pierre Rembert, sophomore Jerome Jackson, and higher rated freshman Max Martin.
- Kevin Grady saw the freshman duo leap to the top of the depth chart in 2004 yet opted to join the Wolverines in 2005.
- Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown arrived when Grady was to be a sophomore and Hart had two more years as starter locked down.
- Shaw's snake-oiling away from Penn State was to join McGuffie and Cox as the generation that should wait two years for Minor/Brown to clear out. McGuffie hurdled everyone to start much of '08.
- Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith signed on before McGuffie left, and piled into a two-seater filled with eight other RB-or-Slot bug types.
- Hopkins signed up to maybe be the thunder guy in case they wanted to keep that job after Minor left, but still had to contend with the boatload of slot bugs.
The list of guys who didn't commit to imposing depth charts full of established and/or hyped underclassmen reads thusly: Kelly Baraka, David Underwood, Pierre Rembert, Darnell Hood, Alijah Bradley, Jerome Jackson. The moral: if you want to be the starting tailback for Michigan you always have to compete against other highly rated backs. This isn't coach speak; it's the standard. A running back who commits here is almost 50% likely to end up at another position or another school. Standard operating procedure is to arrive behind an established junior star and last year's freshman phenom, and if you manage to earn carries against those guys there's still two more classes of blue chip backs arriving after you to steal them.
Enough Carries to Go Around
So two things are true: Michigan has for a long time recruited many more guys than they need at the running back position, and the position has experienced a lot of attrition and position switches. The latter was probably by design; Lloyd Carr recruited at least Weathers, Woody Hankins (who was an RB as a freshman and as a junior), Ian Gold, Jon Shaw, Charles Drake and Darnell Hood with the idea of a defensive swap in mind. Anyway it never stopped the parade of hyped backs to Ann Arbor, despite the fact that until 2008 the coaches always preferred a feature back kind of system. A quick look at the numbers shows there were a lot of carries slipping through the starters' grasps:
|Year||Starting Tailback||Class||Carries||ALL RB Carries||% RB Carries|
|Total||ALL STARTERS (not itals)||--||3,832||6,881||55.7%|
Note: In years with two players listed, the one in italics is the nominal backup who got carries due to the nominal starter's injury. Their stories are intricate and known. Anyhoo, speaking to this year's freshmen, if anything it's not the other backs they should be worried about; it's Denard taking carries away from the entire RB corps.
The closest comparison to the situation for a hypothetical three-man 2013 class is probably 2004 (the year Hart won the job), since there's a lot of guys on the roster now whose profiles would suggest "just a guy" more than "future star." Any year between 1997 and 2000 makes a good case study for a seemingly insurmountable climb for any one recruit, but even in the heart of the A-Train years there were plenty of carries that went to guys like Justin Fargas and B.J. Askew. There were also plenty of Ryan Beard/Walter Cross/Ray Jackson/Pat McCall types who came with hype and couldn't crack the depth chart.
This is what Wyatt Shallman and Deveon Smith are signing up for. Given Michigan's history of stockpiling talent at this position, adding a five-star to this class is no deviation from the norm; in fact it would probably bring us closer to a "typical" depth chart. Fitz will be a senior when these guys arrive, and none of Drake Johnson/Dennis Norfleet/Justice Hayes/Thomas Rawls at this point should seem more insurmountable than, say, a Jerome Jackson. On the other hand an Isaac commit would mean carrying eight scholarship backs in 2013, something we haven't done since 1997. It's way too early to predict this kind of stuff but I'm sure jamiemac wouldn't call you crazy for a Justice Hayes to receiver prop. And while we can't ever plan for transfers, busts, or injuries, and I certainly hope all of these guys play out their eligibility, I don't think anybody is willing to bet on that. If Michigan wants to take another blue chip, history says there is room and opportunities available. However it's not the year Michigan can afford a scholarship for a depthy flier dude to keep up alumni relations or something like that.
Novi (MI) Detroit Catholic Central running back Wyatt Shallman committed to Michigan during the Greatest Mid-February Weekend in the History of Mid-February Weekends, giving the Wolverines one of the top in-state athletes in the class of 2013. Shallman plays running back, defensive end, and defensive tackle for CC, but he'll come to Ann Arbor as a tailback. I caught up with Wyatt over the weekend to discuss his commitment, future role, and physical style of play:
ACE: What made you decide a couple weekends ago that it was the right time to commit to Michigan?
WYATT: There's a couple things that went into it, but my dad and I went down to Michigan and talked to Coach Jackson real in-depth. Just hearing his side of it and talking to more of the coaches made the difference.
ACE: What did you get into when you talked to Coach Jackson? What did he tell you that firmed things up for you?
WYATT: We just talked about positions and how he sees me playing. It checked out with the things that I want to do.
ACE: Specifically, I know there have been a lot of questions when it comes down to position, how do they plan on using you when you come to school?
WYATT: At running back, and that's what I want to play, so that's why I liked it.
ACE: What do you think are your biggest strengths on the field, especially when it comes to being a running back. What do you bring that isn't necessarily what your more traditional running back might bring?
WYATT: There's not too many running backs who are 6'3", 250. I think I bring a lot of speed and power for that size of back, so I think that's what I bring to the game. I'm a one-cut running, so I think I'm going to bring back the power game to Michigan. I don't dance too much, that's what I think I'm good at.
ACE: You said you're weighing in at about 250 right now. Have the coaches said what size they'd like you to be at when you come to school?
WYATT: No, we haven't really talked about that. I think they like the size that I'm at and the speed that I'm at. I could always get faster, but if I can keep this weight and get faster, why not?
ACE: Going back to your commitment, you committed during what ended up being a crazy weekend of commits. What was it like seeing a large part of the class come together during that weekend?
WYATT: It was pretty crazy. You don't really get too many weekends like that in recruiting, so it was pretty exciting to see all the big names go up there on the ticker. Just seeing my name on ESPN was pretty sweet.
ACE: It seems like you guys have become a pretty tight-knit group of players. Which players do you keep in contact with, and what's it like being with a group that's already so tight-knit with 11 months to go before signing day?
WYATT: It's pretty interesting to have that. I keep in touch with Khalid Hill and Shane [Morris] and Kyle Bosch a lot. The reason I keep in touch with Shane is, you know, we play them, so that's always interesting. Khalid is just a nice kid, and then Kyle I've been texting a lot. It's an interesting thing because back even a couple years ago you really don't even know anyone until you get to the school, and now with social media and all that stuff you can really become friends with people before you really get to meet them and hang out with them a lot. It's a blessing in disguise because you get to come in with that unity on the team, but you're not quite a team yet. It's great.
ACE: You also had your teammate Matt Godin committing last year. Were you talking to Matt at all before you made your decision?
WYATT: He gave me advice on how to handle the recruiting process. He didn't really force Michigan on me, which I liked. He just said, "you've got to make the right decision for you and your family," so that really helped a lot. It just happened to be Michigan and that's where he happened to go, so it all worked out.
ACE: Looking forward to next season, you guys have a little bit of unfinished business at Catholic Central. What's the goal for next year both for the team and for you personally?
WYATT: For the team and I, it's always a state championship. It was a disappointing season last year to get to the state title game and lose in that fashion, but it's put a lot of oomf in our steps and we've been working out every day for the past two months now just to get ready for the season, so it's kind of a blessing in disguise to lose like that. Now we know what it takes to get to a state championship and we know we have to work a little bit harder to win it. It'll be an exciting season for our team, we have a lot of people coming back, and we have some great talent. Me, personally, I just want to go for 1,000 yards rushing, do great on defense, and just help my team win a state championship. That's the name of the game so that's what I'm trying to do.
ACE: You mentioned working out every day with your teammates, and I also saw that you've been working out with Mike Barwis, too. What's it like getting into the weight room with Barwis?
WYATT: It's pretty crazy. He's an intense dude about it. It helps a lot, and it's cool—I do a lot of the power lifting and conditioning at school, so when I go to Barwis it's more of like the tuner muscles and that sort of thing, and the fine running motion. It's pretty interesting to pick his brain about all he knows about the subject and certain little nuances of everything. It's interesting to talk to him about all of it, and like I said, he's a crazy guy, he likes to get after it, so it's pretty exciting to lift with him.
ACE: Talking about Michigan's coaching staff real quick, what set them apart from the other coaches you interacted with when going through the recruiting process?
WYATT: They're just a great bunch of guys. They're really lighthearted, but they like to get down to work, and that's the way I am. I love to joke around, I love to have fun, but once you have to do it you have to get down to work and that's the way they are. That's what I'm really excited for. It just felt right, it felt like family. I want people who want to help me grow as a man and not just a football player, and I really feel like that staff can help me, so that's why I liked them and I'm excited to get in and work with them.
ACE: What else about Michigan stood out to you?
WYATT: Just their tradition; they're always going to be one of the top college football teams ever. You can't really contest Michigan and what they've done in college sports. It's a universal name, you can go anywhere and people know about Michigan and what they do. That's always been an attractive thought about Michigan, so that's why I've always kinda liked them. Also, it's a great school. You can't get too much better than a public Ivy, you can really set yourself up for later in life. Even though the reason why I'm going to Michigan right now is for football, I have to get ready for after the NFL, so it's a great place to be.
ACE: I've seen quotes from you, and I remember you saying something along these lines when I interviewed you last year, about the physical aspect of football and your enjoyment of "smashing heads," as I think you like to say. What is it about the physical side of football that you enjoy so much?
WYATT: There's not too many sports you can play where you can basically maul people and not get in trouble for it. Football is one of those sports. You can't walk around in public and just hit people as hard as you want to, you'll get arrested. Football lets you do that and that's why I've always liked it. Ever since I was a little kid I've always liked to hit. My dad, he played college football for Grand Valley, he's always loved it. I just grew up loving it. It's truly an arena where men can show their skills and test each other against other men and really show what you've got, so that's why I like. It truly is the gridiron and you've got to go out there and be a man amongst boys.
ACE: That seems almost like a defensive mentality when it comes to football. Would you say that's something extra that you bring to the offensive side of the football when you're playing, that willingness to hit people and bring that physical side to it?
WYATT: Yeah. I've learned a lot of my physicality just from playing at Catholic Central. We're a running football team, we hit you. I've always thought if you play offense like you're on defense, they can't really stop you, because you've got both sides of the ball going at you, you can't really get too much better. If you hit people like that—I think you want to shell-shock a defense into not wanting to hit you, so that's the whole mentality about it and that's what Catholic Central teaches, so that's what I've kinda come to love.
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at Patrick Kugler's newly-released junior highlights, breaks down 2013 Ohio rankings, discusses visitors and new offers, and more.
Commits: Prepared For MANBALL
Patrick Kugler's junior highlights were uploaded to YouTube today, and as you can see above, Michigan's latest commit has no problem playing through the whistle. Offensive line highlights start at the 2:32 mark (though his D-line clips are well worth a watch) and largely consist of Kugler planting a defender into the turf, often several yards downfield. Speaking of Kugler, GBW chatted with him recently, and it turns out he didn't even need to meet Brady Hoke before being sold on Michigan (free article!):
Patrick Kugler committed to Michigan football program this past weekend without even talking to his future head coach Brady Hoke. That has since changed as the four-star offensive linemen finally caught up with the head man last night.
"He is really exactly how I pictured him," Kugler said to GoBlueWolverine about his phone conversation with Hoke. "He has very high energy. He is serious and very straight to the point. I like everything about him on the phone. I can't wait to go meet him actually."
You can't say enough about the recruiting job Hoke has done in a little over a year at the helm in Ann Arbor, but don't undersell what his assistants have accomplished; if Darrell Funk isn't on multiple end-of-year best recruiter lists, it'll be criminal. The fact that Michigan has its line class sealed up in February is largely his doing.
Bucknuts is counting down the top players in the state of Ohio, and Dymonte Thomas comes in at #4 while Jake Butt
cracks makes the list at #10. (I typed "Butt cracks" without thinking and then started laughing my ass off. Yes, I'm 12 years old.) Here is ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter on Thomas ($):
“He is outstanding on both sides of the ball. He is a no-brainer at safety. He could play tailback because he is so explosive. On offense, he will deliver a blow. But I think Michigan really does see him as a defensive back.”
And Porter compares Butt to a guy who would live in Michigan's nightmares if not for Denard Robinson:
“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”
Scout, meanwhile, has released their top 50 for Ohio. Thomas is #2—behind only OSU commit Jalin Marshall (ahead of Rivals 5-star DB Cameron Burrows)—Butt is #10, Jaron Dukes is #20, and Taco Charlton is #29. Other recruits of interest include RB DeVeon Smith (#3), LB Ben Gedeon (#11), LB Mike McCray (#13), CB Gareon Conley (#16), CB Darian Hicks (#19), TE Jake Matuska (#22), and WR Kevin Gladney (#23).
Chantel Jennings profiled Wyatt Shallman today, and a big reason why the big athlete from Catholic Central committed to Michigan was because they gave him the chance to play tailback. Expect him to bring quite the physical attitude to the position ($):
"[My grandpa] always talked about how power football and power running, downhill, four yards a carry, that sort of thing, that has always been Michigan's M.O.," Shallman said. "That's really what Michigan football is about. That's really what football is about, smashing heads."
Shallman is training with Mike Barwis on top of his regular workouts with CC; heads will be smashed.
Quickly: The Wolverine breaks down film of Logan Tuley-Tillman ($), and the evaluation goes along the lines of everything else you've read on him: great athleticism and drive, needs work on technique. TomVH on the reinvigorated recruiting rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State ($).
Weekend Visitors, The Linebacker Crunch, and More
As far as I've seen, Michigan has just two visitors lined up for this weekend: Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon (possible, not set in stone) and Indianapolis (IN) North Central OT/DT Darius Latham (both links $). Latham is an interesting prospect—he's adept on either side of the ball, though at this point the Wolverines would only take him at defensive tackle.
Gedeon, meanwhile, is one of the top linebackers in the Midwest, but there's going to be a serious crunch at the position. Michigan leads for Good Counsel LB Dorian O'Daniel, who's higher-ranked than Gedeon, and also for top-50 overall prospect E.J. Levenberry, and they could secure the commitment of Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray on March 8th when he announces. After last year's bumper crop, the only spot along the linebacking corps that really needs reinforcements is at SLB, where both Levenberry and McCray project. O'Daniel and Gedeon seem more like MIKE/WLB types; right now it looks like Michigan will only take two LBs, though it's possible that they grab a third if the numbers work out and a guy like Levenberry is looking to commit. All four are high-quality prospects, so this could become a first-come, first-served situation.
O'Daniel wasn't the only player to name Michigan as his leader this week, as he was joined by Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley, a four-star prospect ($, info in header). Conley plans to visit Ann Arbor on March 10th, and he wants to make his decision before his senior season; we'll see if things move quickly on that front, as he'd be the big (6'1", 170 lbs.) corner Michigan wants.
Quickly running through other players who named Michigan among their top x lists: Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton now has the Wolverines in his top five with Tennessee, Mississippi State, Penn State, and LSU ($, info in header). Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge DE Jonathan Allen named a top six of Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida and NC State ($, info in header). Five-star S/RB/LB Su'a Cravens hasn't narrowed down his list, but says that "USC, UCLA, Michigan and Washington are recruiting me the hardest right now," though he maintains that every school recruiting him is equal at the moment ($, info in header).
New Offers, Future Potential Visitors, and Happy Trails
A couple new offers surfaced for the Wolverines in the last few days. New Orleans (LA) Edna Carr TE Standish Dobard now lists a Michigan offer; he's a three-star recruit to 247, but is being pursued by most of the heavy hitters in the SEC. The Wolverines also recently offered Pendleton (SC) four-star DT Michael Hill, who's considering a summer visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
Several players are planning future visits to Ann Arbor. Here's the most recent list:
- Pittsburgh (PA) Seton-La Salle TE Scott Orndoff just decommitted from Wisconsin and will be on campus March 17th ($). He says if he likes the visit, Michigan will shoot to the top of his list.
- Tampa (FL) Wharton five-star CB Vernon Hargreaves III might be a tough pull from the state of Florida, but he's considering a summer visit ($, info in header).
- 247's #37 overall player, Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas DE Joey Bosa, is in regular contact with Greg Mattison and will likely visit Michigan and Ohio State in an upcoming weekend ($).
- Perhaps the top priority among DT recruits, Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi, has already visited Michigan twice but wants to see Ann Arbor again ($, info in header).
- Chandler (AZ) Hamilton CB Cole Luke, a four-star prospect, is thinking about swinging by Michigan and Notre Dame after planned spring trips to Texas and Oklahoma ($).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata DE Tashawn Bower is talking with Curt Mallory about setting up a spring or summer visit ($, info in header).
There are a couple happy trails to report. Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff's Adam Breneman, the top-ranked TE in the country, will announce his decision on March 9th at 7 pm. He has not visited Michigan, so you can rule the Wolverines out; this will likely be a choice between Ohio State and childhood favorite Penn State, and I expect he'll end up with the Nittany Lions. Meanwhile, Centerville (OH) OT Evan Lisle, who held a Michigan offer prior to the O-line spots filling up, committed to Ohio State after receiving his Buckeye offer last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles lineman Matt Miller, brother of Michigan center Jack, in the Detroit News; he could end up as a Spartan unless Michigan decides he's a good option at DT. Black Shoe Diaries recruiting analyst Jeff Junstrom notes an interesting lack of overlap between Michigan and Penn State recruits—only one of M's 13 commits held a PSU offer. Magnus released his initial TTB rankings for the 2013 commits.
So... that happened. Let's just start right in, shall we?
My Totally Normal, Uneventful, Relaxing Weekend
I was tipped off about the impending Kyle Bosch commitment on Friday evening, so I pre-wrote the "Hello" post, called it a night, and felt like I was ahead of the game.
At 3:20 pm on Saturday, I got this message from Heiko: "LOL your job." I would get the same message again 24 hours later. Over the course of 48 hours, I ended up writing eight commitment posts: Kyle Bosch, Wyatt Shallman, Jourdan Lewis, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. I no longer have the words to describe what went down—though the progressively more slap-happy tone of my posts as the weekend wore on serves this purpose well—so luckily other people wrote stuff, too.
Maize n Brew's Zach Travis discussed the implications of the weekend haul and compared it to Texas's ritual Junior Day bonanza:
That is eight four-star recruits all considered to be in the top-200 to Rivals.com, two linemen with a realistic chance of moving up to five-star range, and one of the best single day hauls outside of Texas's annual Junior Day Commitment Extravaganza.
Michigan, to my knowledge, has never had a six-commit day or an eight-commit weekend—at least in the documented internet recruiting era*—and Texas came up with exactly zero commits on their Junior Day this year. We need a new benchmark, though I think "That Weekend in February of 2012" is now it. Rivals.com's Mike Farrell utilizes the same comparison, mostly because there isn't anything else to equate this to:
"I've never seen anything like this—it's Texas territory," Farrell said in comparing U-M to the Longhorns, notorious for cleaning up early. "This is something new. It's pretty remarkable. I think they got the right guys on campus and that they really know the kids they are recruiting. They've got a good feel for kids who might be ready to pop - that said, they still did a good job to actually get them to jump on board.
"Got the right guys on campus" is probably in reference to Hoke, Mattison, et al, but it could just as easily refer to Shane Morris, whose role as a recruiter is clearly having a huge affect. Morris was the subject of an Angelique Chengelis profile today centering around his efforts as a pitchman:
The affable, congenial Morris has taken hold of the social media and works Twitter and Facebook, sending messages to potential future Wolverines. He makes calls, sends texts and emails, helping to secure commitments from the best high school players with whom he'll be teammates at Michigan.
"Oh, definitely. Hope so," Morris said enthusiastically when asked if he has impacted the Wolverines' recruiting. "I'm definitely recruiting all the time. We want to win national championships at Michigan and we're going to need the best players in the nation to do that."
Anyone who is on Twitter is likely aware of Morris's dogged recruiting efforts, and Taco Charlton took to the social media platform last night to relay his story of how he came to commit:
— Taco Charlton (@thekidTC33) February 21, 2012
I'll give Farrell the last word from an article hyping up the upcoming recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State, who all of a sudden find themselves playing catch-up despite having a five-star and three four-stars in the fold (the rest of the B1G—four total commits, period):
"Urban Meyer's the Axl Rose of recruiting," Farrell said. "He's the rock star. Brady Hoke is not out there like that. He's not the same type of guy. He's an old-school, shoot-it-straight guy. But he's obviously getting the job done at an equal level. With these two, recruiting will be fun because they're unlike each other. That's going to make things very interesting. They each have different approaches to things. It's going to be a great battle.''
Let's hope Florida was Meyer's Appetite for Destruction, and we'll now spend a decade waiting for Chinese Democracy before realizing we don't care anymore. Alright, there's no way that's how things will turn out, but one can hope.
*The six listed by Rivals for one day in 2003 did not actually happen that way; I think they were just catching up and didn't specify the exact dates. Seth, who probably summed up my weekend better than anyone, has the correct listing.
Hoke Never Sleeps, 'Cause Sleep is the Cousin of Death
The fallout from this weekend spills over into a second section because it deserves as much. Steve Wiltfong caught up with both Kyle Bosch and David Dawson in the aftermath of their commitments to get their thoughts on why they committed, and both are well worth a read. Here's Bosch, who had this gem [emphasis mine]:
At the beginning of the day, I started to hint that I was going to commit. I told Coach Borges maybe next month I could see myself commit. Then the director of player personnel Coach Singletary came over to me and I said maybe next week. I then went in the bathroom and talked to my mom on the phone and we talked about it, Michigan State and Stanford. It came down to academics. I have a ton of respect for Michigan State and Stanford. I think they’re both outstanding schools, but it came down to academics. Michigan is the right place for me.
Those of you still smarting from Josh Garnett's decision to go to Stanford will find that especially cathartic. The only thing that could make that quote better would be if Jim Harbaugh was still coaching the Cardinal.
I guess I got the order wrong when putting up Dawson's and Lewis's commitment posts, because it sounds like the offensive lineman beat his teammate by a matter of seconds:
I talked to my mom about if Michigan offered me, would I commit on the spot. She was okay with it. She liked it for the academics, and the academics came before the football.
We were talking to Coach Hoke and he offered me. I looked at my mom and then looked at him and I told him I’d like to commit. He asked me if I was serious, and he jumped up and started yelling. He shook my hand and gave my mom a hug, gave me a hug. Everyone was screaming and it didn’t make it any better when J (Jourdan Lewis) walked in and said he was committing too. It was a great feeling yesterday.
Given Hoke's propensity for screaming and hugging when a recruit commits in person, I'm kindly requesting that the next player who plans on doing this records the whole thing on their smartphone. I imagine it's a sight to behold. Speaking of Hoke, he apparently doesn't sleep, because by the time Jake Butt committed on Sunday, he was in Florida schmoozing with some bigwig donors:
Before offering his pledge the Pickerington North star decided to travel home and mull things over just a little bit more, but that he was close to making his choice was likely evident to all. Even so, that didn’t stop his future coaches from reacting to the news like they had received the surprise of the year.
“I actually told Coach Hoke, Coach Borges, and Coach Ferrigno and they were all really excited," Butt stated. “Coach Hoke was down in Florida talking to some boosters for the university, and he just let out a big scream when he heard it. (Laughter) They all said I made their night and they can’t be happier for me. This is really great.”
I wonder if Hoke had any voice left by the time Tuley-Tillman committed. Given that he can barely talk after games, I have to imagine the weekend was hell on his larynx.
Ethan Pocic—one of just two weekend visitors to not commit, along with Rod Crayton—reportedly enjoyed his visit and said Michigan "went up in [his] view." ($, info in header). There was a false Twitter report out there that he had named a top three that didn't include Michigan, but Pocic soundly denied doing so.
That wasn't all on the weekend, by the way. Michigan also managed to pick up a couple of preferred walk-on for 2012, both long-snappers. Saline's Taybor Pepper—the #7 long-snapper in the 2012 class on Chris Sailer Kicking—actually jumped the gun and committed on Thursday. Fenton's Tyler Tokarsky announced his commitment via Twitter yesterday. Both links contain video and more info on a couple of guys who will hopefully remain anonymous barring a Jareth Glanda moment.
Offers, More Offers, Visits, Lists, Etc.
Prepare for a massive bulleted list, as Michigan has sent out a ton of offers in the last week. These are in no particular order, just how my tabs happened to show up:
- Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton was offered a scholarship while on his Sunday visit to Ann Arbor ($). Crayton was very impressed by the fact that he would have three D-line coaches at Michigan.
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes ($, info in header), the #21 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals.
- Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls, who told aquaman he's being offered as a DE.
- Wyomissing (PA) Area LB Alex Anzalone, a four-star on Rivals who also has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.
- Everett (MA) OL John Montelus, the #214 prospect on Rivals—I had a chance to catch up with him last week and he mentioned a desire to visit Michigan.
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow, the #107 player on Rivals, recently grabbed offers from Michigan, Arizona State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Washington State.
- Santa Monica's Sebastian LaRue is another California wideout to grab an offer ($, info in header). He's the #141 overall player in the Rivals250.
- Rancho Cucamonga (CA) DB Chris Hawkins told TomVH that a Wolverine offer was one he and his father were waiting on ($). Hawkins is the #159 prospect according to Rivals.
- Washington DC Gonzaga ATH Devin Butler is a three-star on 24/7, and he told Clint Brewster he plans on visiting in the spring ($).
- Dallas (TX) Kimball DT Justin Manning, the #89 player on Rivals, also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
- Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley is another in a long line of D-I prospects from one of Ohio's most storied high school programs. He told Scout that he grew up as a Michigan fan and was very excited by the offer ($).
- A third Rivals250 WR from California, Oakley Freedom's Darrell Daniels, now has offers from Michigan, Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon State after a strong showing at the U.S. Army combine ($).
- Tempe (AZ) Marcos De Niza CB Priest Willis is the #84 overall prospect on Rivals, and Michigan's offer gave him 16 total ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker is a four-star and the #214 prospect to 24/7, but Michigan became one of his first two offers along with, coincidentally, San Diego State ($).
- Three-star Randolph (NJ) guard Brendan Mahon added offers from Michigan and Temple last week ($, info in header).
- Belton (TX) TE Durham Smythe—who I posted an interview with this morning—got his Michigan offer last week, though it might be difficult to pull him from Texas.
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis, the #93 prospect on Rivals, got his Michigan offer last week.
- The Wolverines also offered 2014 DT Andy Bauer, a big-time recruit from St. Louis (IL) De Smet who visited two weeks ago.
As you can see, the Wolverines are heavily targeting the top talent in California, a likely product of Brady Hoke's connections there from his time at San Diego State. That offer list is also littered with prospects from the Rivals250, as Michigan is able to focus on blue-chip players with a small class that's now already halfway full. We'll see how judicious they are with their offers moving forward; three players—Donovan Munger, De'Niro Laster, and Ross Douglas—visited on Monday and did not get offers extended. Tight end Jacob Matuska, who does hold an offer, also was on campus yesterday.
Several players have expressed interest in visiting lately, and a couple of them are quite noteworthy. Five-star CA S/LB Su'a Cravens told Scout that Michigan will get one of his five official visits, in large part due to his relationship with Hoke dating back to his days with the Aztecs ($, info in header). Two blue-chip prospects from Good Counsel in Maryland will visit for the April 14th spring game in five-star corner Kendall Fuller and four-star linebacker Dorian O'Daniel. Four-star WR Robert Foster has confirmed that he'll visit Michigan State next weekend, and it's a possibility that he'll swing by Ann Arbor as well. Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the #64 prospect on Rivals, will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($, info in header).
Unfortunately, it can't all be sunshine and lollipops, as some players either named top groups that exluded Michigan or committed elsewhere. Five-star FL OT Laremy Tunsil named a top two of Florida and Georgia ($, info in header). Four-star VA DE Jonathan Allen named Alabama as his favorite after receiving an offer ($, info in header). Four-star VA safety Tim Harris named a top two of Virginia and Virginia Tech, though he expressed interest in visiting both Michigan and Ohio State ($, info in header). Louisville (KY) Trinity CB Ryan White named a top two of Louisville and Illinois, and his teammate, DE Jason Hatcher, has also expressed strong interest in the Cardinals.
We wish happy trails to four recruits: Dallas (TX) Jesuit WR Jake Oliver committed to Texas, while his teammate, OL J.J. Gustafson, committed to Texas A&M. Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard pledged to the Buckeyes. While he didn't hold an offer, Birmingham Brother Rice LB Johnny Reshke will likely be one the top 2013 prospects in the state, and he committed to MSU last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles RB Deveon Smith—whose recruitment will likely come down to Michigan and Ohio State, and says it's "50-50" between the schools regarding his favorite right now—in his most recent DetNews column. Wiltfong recaps the Best of the Midwest combine, which featured five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith—the event's MVP—as well as linebacker Tim Kimbrough, defensive end Elijah Daniel, and several potential Michigan targets. Allen Trieu scouts last week's Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom—ND commit Steven Elmer, Cass Tech junior DT Kenton Gibbs, and 2014 Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell are mentioned as standouts ($).