"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."
I thought since we'll be seeing Bryant in extended action for the first time ever today, despite him being around since the Sugar Bowl season, we might all enjoy a little re-primer on who he is and why we can expect good things.
Chris Bryant - 6-4, 320 lbs - RS Sophomore
4 - Star, #19 OG
HS Evaluation Said:
Big bodied lineman who can move well for a kid his size. Smart, and takes to coaching quickly. Has great power and strength. When he gets his hands on someone, he usually wins. He has exceptional punch and can knock defenders off balance easily. He still is somewhat raw with his hand placement and technique, and is a tad top heavy, but has a ton of raw ability, and the type of aggressive, hard working attitude you want in a lineman. - Allen Trieu
So, here is a big bodied kid that has good feet (pulling) and an exceptional punch, with proper guard size, who mostly needed technique work to move up. In a RS and then injury non playing year, his technique should be very improved. That's exciting to me.
When you consider the fact that Glasgow, while very good, is a walk-on and as such, probably not the fastest player *problems pulling), and also a little tall for Guard, a move to center (or outside) makes sense. Meanwhile, Jack Miller spent two years as the heir apparent to David Molk, only because there WAS nobody else. He has been trying to get to an effective playing weight since coming out of HS at 265 (an exageration, probably, too), and may be featuring more bulk than good muslce at this stage. Another year in the weight room might really benefit him.
Overall, adding a 4-star, #19 Guard, moving a player withou7t pulling speed to center and getting an undersized player with some obvious performance mistakes off the line could pay TREMENDOUS dividends in both the rushing and passing games. I know other people are saying this won't be a magic bullet, but I think there could be a whisp of magic in this move.
There probably isn't a more anticipated position group for the Michigan coaches to get on campus than the 2011 offensive line commitments. With only three signed in the class they need all the depth they can get. When Illinois lineman Chris Bryant announced his commitment to Michigan it was a sigh of relief for the fans and coaches alike. The 6-foot-5, 340-pound guard waited all the way until January 28th to announce that decision and chose Michigan over the likes of Arizona, Illinois, Pittsburgh, and Stanford.
Now that Chris is only a week away from making the trek to Ann Arbor to start his new journey he says it's all starting to become real. "It hasn't really hit me yet, I don't think it will really hit me until I get down there," he said. "We're moving in on the 25th, I'm not going to be there this weekend [the 17th] with Jordan because I want to spend time with my family. The whole process is something you dream about and it doesn't even seem real yet." While everything is sinking in, Bryant has already started to think about what he's most excited for once he gets to campus. "I think seeing my name in the locker room, and having it be official. Putting on that winged helmet and just being a part of all that tradition is just exciting," said Bryant.
Often times offensive linemen can have one of the more difficult transitions from high school to college. Their training both on the field and off the field can be drastically different, which is why Bryant is trying to follow everything by the books. "It's a big jump from high school and a lot of work, but I'm trying to do the workout book they sent me," he said. "They want me up there at 335 pounds and I'm at 340 right now. The conditioning was the toughest part but that's preparing for the next level."
Preparing his body is only one part of the process for Chris, and he also understands that he will have a huge adjustment to make in his academic and social life. "I'm going to try to balance my time with all the things being around my class, the weight room, in everything I do balance will play a big part in that," he said.
As Bryant gets closer to joining the Wolverine family he's had plenty of time to reflect on his journey. The recruiting process was long and sometimes tiresome for Bryant which is why he's passed on some of his knowledge to teammate Jordan Diamond. "I waited everything out and took my time, which was good and bad. It got to be really long for me," Bryant said. "It's Jordan's decision and he has a lot of offers from great football schools and great academic schools, but I tell him Michigan has both. He grew up a Michigan fan, so that makes it a little easier, but he'll make the right choice."
Bryant may not be nudging Diamond to join him in Ann Arbor, but the sheer fact that he'll be there makes it a little more comfortable for Jordan without saying anything. Having close friends and family close by makes it easier for anyone to adjust, and that holds true for Bryant as well. "When I went up there for the spring game that's when a lot of kids in my class went up and we all just bonded. We are really close, and there's not one person that I bonded with more than another. It's just a big family there and that's what's special about it," he said. Chris will be rooming with fellow 2011 signee TE Chris Barnett once he gets to Ann Arbor, and said that he's ready for everything in front of him.
The recruiting process has been a long one for 4 Star Illinois OL Chris Bryant, and he's ready for it to be over with. Bryant makes his decision on Friday the 28th at 7:30pm at his high school in Chicago. I caught up with him to talk about the final hours, and what he'll be focusing on while making his decision for tomorrow. Here's a look at his film, then the interview.
TOM: Are you ready for all this to be over with yet?
CHRIS: Yeah, I mean it's stressful. It's been fun, but difficult so I'm almost ready.
TOM: What's it like today and tonight, the day before you make your decision?
CHRIS: Well, Coach Hoke came by the school today and then the Pitt coaches, Coach Graham and Calvin Magee are coming by later tonight. After that I'm just going to check over all the places I've been, the trips I've taken, and sit down and think about it. I want to make sure that I'm comfortable, because I have to live there the next 4 to 5 years. In my mind, I know where I'm leaning, but I want to sleep on it and do my thing tomorrow.
TOM: When the coaches come by this late in the process what are they talking to you about? For instance, what was Coach Hoke saying today?
CHRIS: Going through this process it's just been about building the relationship. That relationship doesn't come over night, and today was just kind of a regular conversation. He was telling me how I fit in, and about their new type of offense. It was just us getting to know each other more.
TOM: You talk about building a relationship. In a short period of time, do you think you've done that with the new Michigan coaches? Do you feel comfortable with them?
CHRIS: Ever since the first day I met them we hit it off. He's a player's coach, and someone you like having a conversation with. I didn't have a hard time bonding with him. I feel comfortable with all these coaches, I wouldn't second guess playing for them.
TOM: What happens after all the coaches leave? Do you and your parents sit down and discuss everything, or are they letting you make the decision?
CHRIS: My parents are a big part of my decision. After the coaches leave we'll sit down and talk through everything, then just get ready for tomorrow.
TOM: How many hats will be on the table?
CHRIS: I'll have four. Arizona, Michigan, Pitt, and Illinois.
I'm having trouble posting, so I'm just going to put an update here with where we're at right now.
Tim posted the visitors list for me in the diaries, if you're too lazy to look up and over, it's right here.
Illinois OL Chris Bryant had a visit from Brady Hoke today. He's on his way home from school, so hopefully I will catch up with him later. Chris is announcing his decision tomorrow at 7:30pm (I believe Central time). It's down to Michigan, Pitt, Arizona, and Illinois. Arizona's OL coach recently took another job, and Chris hasn't visited Tucson in awhile. If I had to guess it's probably down to Michigan and Pitt, with Michigan getting the edge tomorrow. Hoke and co. have made it clear how bad they want him.
Hoke is now scheduled to meet with OL Jake Fisher to try to convince Jake to come back on board. Fisher recently took a visit out to Florida, which causes some concern. Jake is announcing his final decision quietly on signing day. Hoke will be there at 7pm tonight.
There was a post in another thread that said Glenville LB/TE Frank Clark was moving his decision from tomorrow to signing day. That is confirmed. He'll be announcing on signing day, because Ted Ginn Sr. thought it would be a good idea.
LB Leilon Willingham told me a few days ago that he still plans on visiting UCF this weekend, and announcing his decision on Signing day. This was always the plan, so nothing has caused him to change that. I was told that the UCF visit is more for fun. Michigan still looks good here, and would be a great addition if they can land him.
Michigan currently has 16 commits, with somewhere around 4-6 spots left. Likely/Possible names to pick Michigan Chris Bryant, Frank Clark, Leilon Willingham will leave them with roughly 2-3 spots left. Names to fill those spots could be Jake Fisher, Darian Cooper, or Thomas Rawls. Wildcard from this weekend's visit is Chris Barnett.
This weekend was a huge success for Michigan, not only with the three commitments from K Matt Wile, DB Raymon Taylor, and DE Keith Heitzman, but with the other visitors as well. Here's what some of them had to say.
5'11", 170 lbs.
The interest from McClure came from his relationship with Brady Hoke at San Diego State. Now that Hoke was at a bigger program like Michigan, McClure was interested.
It was a great time. We met with all the coaches, saw the stadium, and hung out with the players. My host was Denard Robinson, which was pretty cool. He's like a celebrity there. Walking through the Big House was pretty cool, too.
Michigan's new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, has only been on campus for one weekend, but he's already polished off his recruiting tricks.
I talked with the defensive coordinator quite a bit. We talked scheme, and he knows his x's and o's. It was pretty cool to be able to talk with him. I also talked to coach Hoke about the school, tradition, and the opportunity to play early there.
Stefan has said he will decide and announce sometime this week. I would imagine distance might be a factor with him, and I wouldn't get too excited. While I think he had a good time, it's hard to pull kids out of California. I would guess he'll stay home and go with someone like Cal.
6'2", 240 lbs
Willingham is a four star that had been committed to Texas A&M, and decided recently to take a trip out to Michigan. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, he took a recent visit to Colorado the same weekend as current Michigan commit Kellen Jones. Kellen had an opportunity to tell Leilon why he chose Michigan, and what he liked about it. This weekend he got to see it for himself.
We got a chance to talk to all the coaches, and it was pretty cool to sit down with the defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis is my idol, so that was like a dream. They were just telling me how they would use me up there, ether inside or outside. I really liked it up there. I mean, the Big House speaks for itself, everything was great. We hung out with all the other recruits, and everybody was just having a good time.
Willingham does have one more visit scheduled to UCF, and says that he will announce on signing day.
The (Michigan) coaches know I'm going out to Central Florida, so that's fine. I'm decommitted from Texas A&M, too, so I'm not with them anymore.
However, don't be surprised if he decides to "come public" with his choice earlier than that. This visit put Michigan in the driver's seat, and then some.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Although he's from Glenville, Clark has always maintained that Michigan is high on his list. Before this visit Michigan was in his top three with MSU and UNC. I spoke to him briefly after his visit, and Michigan has definitely helped themselves with Clark.
He described the visit as, "excellent" and said that he will be announcing his decision on Friday the 28th. Clark is in the same category as Willingham right now. He will make his choice public soon, but Michigan has put themselves in the driver's seat with this visit.
- OL Chris Bryant is announcing on Friday. Likely between Michigan, Arizona, and Pitt. I like Michigan's chances.
- TE/LB Frank Clark is announcing Friday. Between Michigan, UNC, and MSU. I like Michigan's chances.
- LB Leilon Willingham may announce this week, but could wait until signing day. I like Michigan's chances.
- 4 Star TE Chris Barnett is visiting this weekend, the 28th.
- 4 Star DB Floyd Raven may visit Alabama this weekend instead of Michigan. We'll see what happens.
- RB Thomas Rawls may visit this weekend, and is announcing on the 31st. If he's qualified, I like Michigan's chances.
- DB Blake Countess may come back up for an unofficial visit to meet the new DC, and potentially the new DB coach if they have one in place.
- OL commit Tony Posada was in Ann Arbor this weekend, and the visit reassured him of his commitment to Michigan. Nothing to worry about there.
- DT Darian Cooper just got done with an official to Iowa. He tweeted that Michigan's new DC Greg Mattison promptly called him, and said he was, "very interesting." That could be something to watch if they go after him hard.
Illinois OL Chris Bryant (4 Star, 6'5", 320 lbs) is on his way home from a recent trip out to Pitt and Michigan. His visit to Michigan lasted longer than expected, and his family ended up staying the night in Ann Arbor. Here's some film on Chris (it says he's 2012, but he's not), and what he told me about his visit to Pitt and his first meeting with Brady Hoke.
TOM: How did the Pitt visit come about, what made you decide to go out there?
CHRIS: The offensive coordinator from Michigan (Calvin Magee) got the job at Pitt, and we had a good relationship before. He wanted me to check it out and come see what they have to offer. The coaching staff was great there, and it was a nice place.
TOM: And after that you and your parents swung by Michigan to meet with Brady Hoke and (Offensive line coach) Darrell Funk. How did that go?
CHRIS: It was good. We sat down with both coaches individually and were just building a new relationship. They told me they knew me as a player, but not as a person so we were just having regular conversation trying to get to know each other. I talked with them and coach Singletary, too.
TOM: What were each of them saying as far as their offense and how you'd fit in?
CHRIS: Coach Hoke was telling me about the new pro style offense, a lot of schools run that and Michigan used to run it. Coach Funk was telling me how I would fit in their with it. I don't mind either the spread or the pro style. I don't prefer one over the other. We mixed it up in high school so that's not a problem. They were basically just telling me Michigan is still Michigan. I knew how the school is run and how academics go, so it was just building a relationship with them.
TOM: Did you and your parents come away comfortable with the coaches after the meeting?
CHRIS: My parents are both comfortable, and so am I. They asked their questions and said it was a great conversation overall. I feel comfortable with him too. He was a funny guy, he's a player's coach. He's someone that you would want to coach you.
TOM: Feeling comfortable with the coaching staff now, do you still feel the same way about Michigan overall?
CHRIS: I had a good relationship with the coaches there before, but coaching is a business. It's just an adjustment and you need to go on with it. Michigan is Michigan, and they're not going to just bring anyone in. I still really like Michigan.
TOM: When you make your announcement on the 28th what hats will you have on the table?
CHRIS: I'm not sure yet, but I might do three hats, I might do four and go with Michigan, Arizona, Pitt, and Illinois. I'm not sure yet.