I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Just got back from vacation and read ToB's final recruiting post The Battle of Michigan (excellent read ToB BTW - I have learned much from you and Sam Webb about the instate recruiting drama.)
This got me thinking about the battles this year and I have to say...though the recruiting is not done...I'm not happy with Jordan Walsh and Ray Hamilton. Both had seemingly big time pulls to UofM and went the Ferentz way. Walsh's pull was somewhat anecdotal in that his mother teared up in RR's office but his academic goals were set high as well...Hamilton's dad played with RR, is a close bud of Jack Miller and is in a position of need for the team going forward. Both these guys have nice film. These two hurt. Not to mention Jeff Heuerman lost to OSU - whose dad I remember well from Crisler arena.
Lots to discuss here - but specifically - my take is twofold - the need to win and the need to involve the TE more in the offense.
It's not just about RR's future...it's also about the program. I understand losing Chris Norman to the coaching change and that waterfalling into losing Lawrence Thomas (which was news to me but somewhat consoling.) All three of the above guys (Walsh-Hamilton-Heuerman) saw the program up close and decided to go elsewhere. It's been said before - recruits have short memories and Mich needs wins to keep the franchise relevant. Was there more to these decisions than this? Mich is a far better school than Iowa - yet Jordan said they had more to offer??? an OL said that??? Beluga was good but not Steve Hutchinson good.
There was some talk last year about involving the TEs more in the passing game. I'm thinking specifically of the running paly that called for the TE to pull and seal the opposite DE/LB that Brian discussed in detail last year. We need good TEs even when we don't throw them the ball. It's hard to pitch these TEs without giving them more of a role. I'm assuming that is what is up with Hamilton and Heuerman.
Any insight would be appreciated. Obviously tl;dr worthy material...but the angst is real. It would be nice to hear my concern is unwarranted (which is not exactly my take on ToB's piece...)
Here's to big and early wins.
No gut feelings are betrayed, but Sam Webb has an article up at detnews.com on Jordan Walsh. Like TomVH's interview, Sam provides significant parental content from Momma Walsh, a Michigan fan from the Fab Five days that certainly indicates that Michigan is the heavy lean.
"To be totally honest, I love Michigan," said the youngster's mother, Natalie. "I think their academic services and everything that they have to offer there academically has been the best we've seen yet. My husband and I are both kind of sports fanatics, and I think we kind of fell in love with Michigan when the Fab Five started. He'll probably kill me for telling you this, but ever since he could talk, I'd always say, 'Jordan where are you going to school?' And he would say, 'I'm going to the University of Michigan.' I always knew that Michigan was known for their academics, and their sports teams were always fantastic when I was growing up. That is how I became a fan of Michigan."
Here's what Jordan had to say about Michigan:
"Definitely Ann Arbor is an amazing place to be. Also, Michigan just has so much tradition there. It's incredible. The coaches are awesome. The facilities are awesome. The fans are awesome. The stadium and the academic center are both really great. It [his one-on-one time with RichRod] went well. We talked a lot about (different) stuff, and not always about football. He told me about the new additions to the Big House, the town, and everything. I like him. I guess you could say he's different from how he is portrayed. He's a really cool, laid-back person. He's always smiling, and the way he talks about things, you kind of just feel good talking to him. I like Coach [OL Coach Greg] Frey. He's a funny guy. He's real cool, but he'll get on you if you mess up and he'll also teach you how to get better. We both think alike."
There are qoutes about his impressions of Iowa, Northwestern and MSU and this discussion of his favorites and when he'll make his decision:
"They're still high on my list," he said of the Wolverines. "I just need to sit and talk with my parents and figure things out. Everybody is still on my list is right now. To be honest with you, I have no idea when I'm going to make the decision. It's hard in that every day I'm always thinking about it. But I don't really know when I'm going to make it. I'm still talking it through with my parents and we're still trying to figure things out."
Momma Walsh's timetable seems a little more focused.
"Honestly, (I want him to make it) before the season starts -- so within the next month. I do not want to see him have this distraction throughout the season. I do not want him to be thinking about other things or having to deal with focus (issues). I know the (college) coaches will be able to start calling after September. I want him to enjoy his senior year playing football. I just want it to be very special for him and for him to not have any distractions."
This is a big week for visits but other than that it's pretty slow since coaches are on vacation. Here's a look at who's visiting with some updates elsewhere.
Visiting July 13th:
- Jake Fisher - Instate lineman is coming down from Traverse City to visit both MSU, and Michigan. I spoke with him about the visits and his timeline: he's visiting MSU first, then Michigan. Take from that what you will, other than that MSU happens to come first geographically on his trip. He is on commit watch.
Fisher: "I'd like to make my decision shortly after these visits. I might have a leader right now (laughing), but I don't want to say who."
- Cyrus Hobbi - As mentioned in last week's update, Hobbi is coming up to Michigan on his way to a family trip in New York. That is a huge break for Michigan. Without it, it's safe to say that Cyrus wouldn't have been able to get up to Michigan for an unofficial visit before the season. If Cyrus likes what he sees, it should give Michigan a serious shot at landing the big lineman. West coast schools are the main competition.
- Jordan Walsh - As it was noted in my interview with Jordan this past week, he is also making a trip to Ann Arbor on Tuesday. If you didn't read the article, here's how his mom feels about Michigan.
"She loved the junior day visit, too. When Coach Rodriguez offered me, she started crying."
All of these visits could be big for Michigan. I would be very happy with pulling two out of the three from this list.
5'8, 190 lbs.
Everyone's favorite recruit to discuss and one of the most important in this class. Hart was recently at the Nike 7 on 7 tournament in Oregon. ESPN gives you a synopsis of how he did and how he keeps the media guessing.
I spoke to Hart's teammate, Roderick Ryles, the other day. Ryles told me that he and LaQuentin Smith are going up to Arkansas, while Demetrius Hart and (2012 QB) Nick Patti are coming up to Michigan this week. I also spoke with Hart, and he wasn't 100% sure the visit is going to happen:
I'm not sure we're coming up yet. I still have to figure it out. I think we are, but it's not final.
Hart came up earlier this year and planned a second trip for the Spring Game but could not make it. Even if he can't scrape together the cash and time to get up to Michigan for a second unofficial, his interest in making one is genuine and he will visit officially in the fall.
5'8, 156 lbs.
Sicklerville, New Jersey
Byrd is a (very) speedy slot guy who already has offers from Florida, West Virginia, Iowa, Pitt, South Carolina, and Nebraska, amongst others. Michigan doesn't have much of a need for tiny slots in this class, but I had an interesting conversation with Byrd the other day. He recently narrowed down his list to 7 top schools. I asked him if Michigan were to offer, would they be able to get back in it.
Yeah, I would consider them again. I really liked it when I went up there, so they would still have a chance.
This doesn't really matter right now because he doesn't have an offer from the Wolverines. If they miss out on a few wide receiver targets down the road they might look to Byrd.
- [Ed.: LA CB Darren Kitchen has gotten an offer from recruiter Fred Jackson. This is not an official written offer and can't be committed to until Rodriguez gets back from vacation and issues it. If and when that does occur, Kitchen has said straight out he will commit.]
Jordan Walsh, out of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is one of the top offensive line prospects in the country. He's the sixth best offensive guard, according to Rivals. Walsh has had interest in Michigan since his visit for Junior Day, and that interest is still growing. Here's his sophomore film (his junior film isn't on YouTube), then our conversation.
TOM: Let's start with where your interest in Michigan started from.
JORDAN: I was getting some mail from them, and then I got a junior day invite. I went up there, and they saw my film somewhere, and that's how they offered me. They offered me when I was up there. It was just amazing there, too. The trophy cases, the championships, the coaches were awesome, and Ann Arbor, the town was awesome. I really felt a lot of interest being there.
TOM: Was that where all of this stemmed from? Just from a visit?
JORDAN: Well, my mom always liked Michigan. She was a big Michigan football fan, and she told me when I was younger that I should go to Michigan. When we went there, I really liked it. She loved the junior day visit, too. When Coach Rodriguez offered me, she started crying. I guess my mom saying that all those years really got me interested initially. She's a fan of everybody now, though. She wants me to make my own decision, so she's a fan of everybody.
TOM: So is your Mom coming with you on any other visits then?
JORDAN: We might be coming back up to Michigan on the 13th (Tuesday). I really want to see the academic side and the support system they have. I want to check if I went there, if they would help me out. I have around a 3.7 GPA right now, so that's important to me. I'm not 100% sure if we're coming because I was talking with one of the (Michigan) coaches, and he gave us two dates. I'm not sure which date me and my mom are going to choose yet.
TOM: Do you have a top list right now, or are you looking to narrow it down?
JORDAN: I have a top eight. It's (in no order) Michigan, Iowa, MSU, Northwestern, LSU, USC, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. To summarize them all, I felt comfortable with all of them. I'm interested in all of them, and I like all the coaches.
TOM: Do you know when you're going to make your decision then?
JORDAN: I don't really have a timeline set. I really just want to see everything I'm looking for. If I see and hear the stuff that I need to, then after that I'll make my decision. I don't really know when that will be.
TOM: For the fans that don't know too much about you, tell us who you are as a football player.
JORDAN: Some coaches say that I finish my blocks, and I'm nasty on the field. To be honest, I just love the game of football. I'll do anything a coach ask me to do. I block, so I obviously can't ask for the ball, or anything. The offensive line is a cool position. You don't really get the glory, or praise, but you get to hit a lot of people.