landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Not many expected Michigan to have a successful running game in the Citrus Bowl. (I confess I didn’t expect it either.)
Not many were right.
Michigan’s running game had success from the first series. And this running success was not predicated exclusively on OL play:
Instead, running success was predicated on vision and decisive cuts the likes of which Michigan has not seen in many a year.
De’Veon Smith, not known for vision but relentlessness, led the charge;
Drake Johnson got into the action on stretch plays for touchdown;
Houma did his own jitterbug impression for positive yards;
Resulting in 225 decisive, magnificent, inspired yards!
What made the difference from season play? How was that change made in so few weeks? Can vision be taught?
All Hail Wheatley!
All Hail Harbaugh!
No, not this one
Much has been made of the fact that we once again have a 3-Deep of fullbacks – including 2 on scholarship. They’ve been discussed often as ‘fullbackian fullbacks who fullback in fullbackian ways’ or something similar, but I think that Borges has more plans for these guys than just being a “classic” Michigan fullback. To break it down simply, there are 2 schools of fullbacks: The 6’ 240lb linebacker-meeters like this guy
- great fullback name or greatest fullback name?
and the West-Coast Fullback.
Now the 1st type of fullback has one job and one job only – lead blocker. Out of the I he hits the hole before the running back and takes out the first defender he sees.
This type of fullback often drove many including the fearless leader Brian and myself to anger when we would line up in an I, the fullback would shuffle-shuffle-shuffle one direction and totally tell the defense where the run was going.
(14 seconds in. It worked, but it was Purdue)
I don’t believe that’s what we’ll be getting with Borges. I believe that Borges will be asking a lot more of his fullbacks, he actually already has. In the same vein, Hopkins is a converted RB who has handled the ball a lot and Houma is a triple-option FB who rushed for a ton of yards in high school. Also I think the best corollary to what we’ll see from our fullbacks in the future (Hopkins and Houma) is how Jacob Hester has been used, both at LSU and on the Chargers.
We’ve seen that Borges treats the fullback as a receiver (5:58 of the clip below. Thanks to SC Wolverine for finding it)
We saw often that Borges isn’t afraid to line up in a heavy I, split out the tailback, and hand it to the fullback on a dive. Sometimes with great, sometimes with terrible – THEN GREAT – results.
(See 4:59. Hell, just watch it all again in all its glory)
Doing this like 5 times in goal line situations of course lead to easy rollout Denard TDs on a fake dive as well.
Jacob Hester is listed (now, as a 5year pro) at 5'11” 235#. The new weights from B1G media days list Hopkins at 235# and Houma at 221#. Looking at some clips of Hester Highlights from the Chargers we see a couple of designed fullback pass plays:
Let’s hope we get a lot of those TDs from Hopkins and Houma going forward.
Andrew did an interview with Sione Houma late last week and posted it this morning over at TTB. He talks about the importance of the fullback position and what size the coaches want him to be, along with his favorite instrument to play. Plus there's a separate video interview embedded.
Sione Houma is now the 6th rated FB, with a 3* rating. Nice to see his value respected.
It was a busy weekend for Michigan with both Chris Wormley and Kyle Kalis making it in to visit. With roughly ten spots left (Ed: Now 9!), remaining recruits are watching every move, and Michigan's coaches must be strategic in their actions. Here's a look at what's been happening and what could happen next. As always you can follow me on Twitter here, and if you have any tips or questions email me at [email protected].
Chris Fox (2013)
6'6", 297 lbs.
Fox was a standout performer at Michigan's camp this past week. The Michigan coaches liked the 2013 prospect so much that they offered him once he left.
I talked to Coach Hoke and Coach Funk and they offered me. I got a Colorado offer a few weeks ago, too. The [Michigan coaches] told me that I fit what they're trying to accomplish, and that I look like a Michigan guy.
Fox traveled all the way from Colorado to Michigan just to camp, the trip ended up being well worth the distance. Not only did he get his offer but he also started the foundation for a relationship with Coach Funk.
I'm definitely comfortable with Coach Funk and all the coaches there now. Coach Funk was out in Colorado and stopped by our school and I actually have some family that lives up in Michigan. I love Michigan, they have great football and it would be awesome to go there. Both my parents were born and raised in Michigan too. My family is kind of split in half with Michigan and Michigan State fans. Right now I've only heard from Michigan, MSU hasn't really contacted me.
The camp gave Fox a good look at how the Michigan coaches interact with players and a good feel for the campus.
I'd definitely like to get out [to Michigan] for a game this season. It would be great to get out there. I liked everything, the campus was incredible and the Big House is incredible. I don't have a list yet, I'm just going through the process with open eyes looking for my best fit. As of right now Michigan and Colorado are my top two because they've offered.
Now that he's been on campus and gained a level of comfort with the staff, he feels great about what Michigan has to offer and where he is in the process.
It just feels good to know that I have options this early and it feels good to know that I could go there. I'd like to make my decision before my senior year so that's probably what I'll do, sometime next summer.
Fox is a name that seems to be popping up all over the place now, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got some big time attention soon. Early offers for offensive lineman are usually good signs of talent level and Fox should be right up near the top.
6'4", 255 lbs.
Wormley made a visit up to Ann Arbor this weekend. He's been relatively quiet lately and generally doesn't like talking to the media. I did catch up with him via text to see how his visit went, and where he's going from here. He briefly said the following.
It went very well. Yes I definitely came closer to a decision. My family and girlfriend [went on the visit], and I loved every part of it, but joking around with the coaches was the best part.
I asked if he knew when he would like to make his announcement or decision and he said he will make it when it feels it's right. I can't imagine that it would be much longer though. This visit seems to have been a positive for Michigan moving him in the right direction, so we'll see when it happens.
LaQuon Treadwell (2013)
6'3", 190 lbs.
Treadwell is the younger teammate of 2012 Michigan commit Anthony Standifer. LaQuon accompanied Standifer on his visit to Ann Arbor and immediately saw what his teammate liked so much about Michigan.
Going in I expected it to be great and that's what it was. I think it was overall a great experience, the buildings, the field, and the coaches were great. The field and the academic center where you do all your class work were probably the best parts.
Since he's new to the process he feels that he benefited from Standifer's presence on the visit.
Anthony was asking most of the questions so I was picking off of him and just going off of what he was saying. I'll probably do what Anthony did and decide in the summer too. He talks to me about Michigan a lot and him being committed there helps them with me.
Their coach does not let them visit other schools or decommit once they have committed to a school, so he wants to make sure he gets it right. Treadwell has also been hearing from Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, and Vanderbilt.
16 17 commitments already in this class it seems likely that Michigan will have most of their spots filled by the time the season hits. Here's who's left and where they are in the process.
Offensive line (1-2):
- Nashville OL Blake Bars: Committed on Sunday.
- Ohio OL Kyle Kalis: Just took a visit to Michigan. He isn't saying much to reporters right now, but I did speak to him today. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes his decision very soon. There are a lot of rumors out there, but like I said he's not saying much in public so be careful what you believe.
- Illinois OL Jordan Diamond: Michigan is still in great position, as they always have been. Jordan's mother says that she's not sure when his decision will come but she wouldn't be surprised if he waited until after the season. He's gone back and forth so we'll just have to wait and see his final decision.
- Pennsylvania OL Adam Bisnowaty: His athletic director told me that ideally Adam would like to take a few official visits then decide. Adam has also been quiet (a theme here) but I should have something from him soon. He seems to be a forgotten name, but the Michigan coaches do really like him.
- Arizona OL Andrus Peat: I also reported how Peat's visit to Michigan went a week ago. Don't get too excited about Peat yet, I still think he ends up elsewhere but stranger things have happened.
- Washington OL Joshua Garnett: Recently put Michigan in his top eleven and told me back in May that he would like to take an official visit to Michigan, which he still maintains. I should have more on him this week, but spots remaining could end up being an issue here depending on timelines and decisions of his peers.
- Washington OL Zach Banner: The same can be said for Banner as with Garnett. Timing and space might hinder this, but we'll see how it plays out.
Defensive Line (2-3):
- Missouri DT Ondre Pipkins: He told me last week that he will be making a visit to Michigan in July or August, we'll see which one it ends up being. He also might choose to move up his decision, which is interesting.
- Michigan DT Danny O'Brien: Performed well at Michigan's camp this past weekend and told me the coaches were impressed. He also told me the Michigan coaches expressed that they want one interior lineman, which seems to be between Pipkins, O'Brien, and kind of Sheldon Day. I do think there is still a chance they could take both. O'Brien would ideally like to take a couple official visits, but is also watching what Pipkins does in his recruitment.
- Ohio DE Adolphus Washington: He and teammate Dwayne Stanford are still trying to reschedule their trip to Ann Arbor. Stanford told me they are waiting because of the Fourth of July holiday. I don't think we'll know how interested they really are until they visit. They both were very fond of Ohio State so it could be interesting how it plays out.
- Ohio DE Chris Wormley: As mentioned above Michigan is in good shape with Chris and he's going to announce when he feels he's ready.
- Ohio S Jarrod Wilson: I posted a few days ago that Wilson will be announcing in July 8th at 2:30pm EST per his coach's email and press release.
- The other prospects Michigan is recruiting like Bri'onte Dunn, Ron Thompson, Aaron Burbridge, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Alden Hill, EJ Fatu, and Sione Houma are still somewhat in limbo. Dunn, for example is still committed to Ohio State according to his father. His father told me Bri'onte would be at Ohio State's camp this past week and it looks like that happened. I still believe they're waiting to see what the sanctions are before making a move.
PA running back Greg Garmon told me that he received an offer from Ohio State this weekend. I was told that he worked out at camp as a defensive back and may have been offered as an athlete. It's interesting to say the least that he received an offer from them. He also told me that Michigan is still in it for him and that he, "Loves them."
New Jersey ATH Devin Fuller told me that he's not sure of the exact date but he would still like to make it out to Michigan this summer.
With sixteen commitments now on board it could start to get interesting for Michigan recruiting. They arguably have anywhere between 21-25 spots total for this class, which means they have at most 9 more scholarships available. Here's a look at what could happen next and some notes from a few prospects.
6'6", 265 lbs.
Olson's name popped up later than the other linemen Michigan has been looking at. He has an offer and took in Ann Arbor this past week.
Our flight was delayed so we got in late Tuesday night. We pushed everything to Wednesday, but I have a buddy who's a freshman there so we went out to dinner with him on Tuesday. On Wednesday we met with Coach Mallory, went to the business center, the academic center and met with the academic advisor. They took us on a tour, went to the facilities, the Big House, and Al Glick field house. It was pretty unbelievable, they have the best facilities of any school that I've been to. It's a pretty special place. I got chills walking down the tunnel and seeing the Go Blue across it. The Big House was great.
As I reported last time academics will be a huge factor in Eric's decision. He's done his homework on each school and got to see what Michigan has to offer in person.
The Ross business school is a prestigious place. They talked about the rankings and the opportunities you have from there. I asked how difficult it is to be on the football team and in the business school. They said that Zoltan Mesko did it and he was near the top of his class. With summer classes you can get some of the core classes out of the way.
With the academic side layed out clearly he also got a chance to sit down and talk with his potential position coach.
We met with Coach Funk and talked about his experiences and where he's coached. My school runs basically the exact same offense they want to run, a two-back pound it play-action offense. Their depth chart is a strong point for their recruitment because it's pretty wide open. There's a chance to play early there. Coach Hoke told us that he wants to recruit high character kids and his main focus is to get them a degree.
Since this was Olson's last visit he now has some thinking to do, but he's not sure of when a decision will come.
I've dabbled with the idea of going out to Stanford's camp, but I'm not sure. These past couple days we've been talking about it. We'll make a decision to either commit somewhere or I might go out to Stanford. I don't know when it could happen, could be a week, tomorrow, a couple weeks. I'm honestly not sure yet.
I believe him when he says he's not sure. I think he has it narrowed down in his head, but probably doesn't have his decision yet. That's at least as of when we spoke. If he decides not to go out to Stanford I think that bodes well for Michigan's chances. I'll have more on the offensive line situation further down.
6'6", 275 lbs.
Bisnowaty was making his way through an unofficial visit tour and stopped in Ann Arbor to check out Michigan. The four star lineman's athletic director filled me in on how the visit went.
Adam told me that he really enjoyed the visit. He liked everything very much, and he said that he was impressed with the head coach. The facilities were out of sight, and I know we have nice facilities, but he said it was really great there. I think he's been interested in Michigan for awhile, how can you not be interested in Michigan. Academics are important for him, and our old head coach is friends with one of the new Michigan coaches. He's traveling out to Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Purdue.
These trips were for Adam to gain more comfortability with each program, and to potentially help him make his final decision.
He's hoping to get [a decision] taken care of before the season, but I think he's realizing that might not be possible. He's planning on taking some official visits, and I doubt he'd take all five. His options are pretty open I don't think he's sold on any one over the other.
His athletic director, Mike O'Brien, had nothing bad to say about Adam and thought that any program would be lucky to have a kid like him. He'll probably know more about where he stands with each school once he's done taking his visits.
6'6' 275 lbs.
As you know by now Erik has committed. He told me it would be happening around two weeks ago, he just wanted to take this visit to see everything in person. Now that he is committed he will be putting on his recruiting hat.
It wasn't anything that I expected at Michigan, it was crazy. It was such a cool place and everyone was so nice. I want to get the best players to commit there now so I've been talking to OL Isaac [Seumalo, 4 Star], DT Aziz Shittu, and OL Jordan Diamond. The coaches didn't know much about Isaac because he's from a small school, but they know of him now. If they offer him, we want to play together, so I think he'd be really interested.
Erik was on campus for the jersey reveal, but as I said on Twitter he was NOT allowed to attend the event.
They didn't want to take any chances with any NCAA stuff so I couldn't be in there. I did see some pictures of them and they look good. I'm going to try to come out there for the Notre Dame game with my family and then I'll probably take an official visit by myself for another game.
Magnuson was a huge pick up in himself, but it sounds like he could be a good recruiter for Michigan as well.
6'5", 245 lbs.
I spoke with Pittman's head coach this past week, and since then there have been some rumors flying around. I'll discuss some of what I was told this week here and a little bit further down. First, here's what his coach had to say.
There's four schools that have never really wavered in his top group, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and MSU are the four and the southern schools are in there because they've won National Championships and all that. When it comes down to it though I think that distance might be an issue for him. Brady and Greg have done a great job with him in recruiting. He plans on getting up there sometime at the end of the summer.
The Ohio State mess is not the only factor playing into why Pittman feels strongly about the Wolverines.
I've known Greg [Mattison] and Brady [Hoke} for awhile and think the world of them. Brady at Ball State, we spent a lot of time together. I've worked several camps with Greg at Notre Dame and MIchigan. He's a first class guy.
As far as how his recruitment is going to play out, his coach had this to say.
[Se'Von] wants to take a couple official visits. They're going to be game day officials because his intentions are to be a mid-year graduate and enroll early. He's done a lot of homework, he's gone to camps, spring balls, evertyhing. He might be going up to Michigan's camp, we have a couple kids going up there, so he might come up too.
I was told by someone that I trust, and that is very close to the situation, that Michigan a few weeks ago thought they were very close to landing PIttman. Since then I was told that they have slowed things down with him. I don't want to get into too much or speculate but we'll see how it plays out as he gets closer to his graduation, and if he does indeed graduate early. It's not over with him by any means.
Offensive and Defensive Line:
That's a good segue to now talk about where Michigan is at with both offensive and defensive line recruiting.
First the offensive line. With Magnuson committing that gives them a true left tackle and Ben Braden and Caleb Stacey on the interior. Michigan is still in great shape with Illinois OL Jordan Diamond. If you missed it I spoke with his mother about where they're at this past week. He and his family will be visiting Ann Arbor this week for the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, and will also pop in to see the coaches.
Eric Olson and Adam Brisnowaty are fresh off visits as I just talked about. Colorado OL Paul Thurston should be deciding within the next few months and has Michigan in his final group. Someone that hasn't been talked about much is Tennessee OL Blake Bars (6'5", 275 lbs, 4 star), who is originally from Michigan and is still an option. The coaches could potentially offer Magnuson's friend Isaac Seumalo, who happens to be ranked 175th overall in the nation per Rivals.
There is still some drama with the offensive line, however. Ohio State commit Kyle Kalis told me this past week that he is still committed to Ohio State but is listening to other schools. Michigan is one of those schools he's listening to and he could potentially visit. The possible kicker here is that Kalis and recent Michigan commit Tom Strobel are friends. I asked Kalis if Strobel's commitment would have any effect on him and he said, "I'm not sure, maybe." That might sound like nothing, but to me it sounds like Strobel has an opportunity to get in his friend's ear. This could be something to watch as Kalis has said the sanctions on OSU and their potential head coach would matter in his final decision.
You will likely see the final offensive line commits come from this group. What the combination is, I'm not sure yet.
As for defensive line recruiting, this gets a little more confusing. With Strobel's commitment Michigan now has DE Pharaoh Brown, DE/DT Matt Godin, DE/LB Mario Ojemudia, and the aforementioned Tom Strobel. The good thing about these commitments is that a lot of them are versatile and can be moved to different spots if necessary.
Michigan will likely take three more defensive line commitments. That sounds like a lot, but the prospects they're in on are the kind that you have to take. DE Chris Wormley has said openly that Michigan is his leader and I wouldn't expect him to wait much longer before deciding. Outside of Wormley you have DE Se'Von Pittman, DE Adolphus Washington, DT Ondre Pipkins [who should be visiting soon], and DT Aziz Shittu. I'm only going to include these names for now, because these are the kids I think MIchigan has the best shot at landing in the current time.
With what I mentioned about Pittman above I am wondering if that will alter anyone else's decision timeline. For example Adolphus Washington plans on announcing his decision at the Under Armour All American game, whereas Pittman plans on graduating early which means he needs to decide sooner than Washington. Wormley will likely announce before the season, and if he picks Michigan that's one less spot available between Washington and Pittman. If the coaches wait for Washington then it probably means they will not get Pittman.
Pennsylvania RB Greg Garmon told me via text that he will be visiting Michigan on Monday. I'll have more from him soon, or after the visit.
Cali DT Aziz Shittu was mentioned above in the defensive line recruiting, because I think Michigan has a legitimate shot with him. Shittu has a top eleven right now that includes Michigan, Cal, Notre Dame, Auburn, USC, UCLA, Stanford, Florida, Washington, Arizona, and Nebraska. "I might make it out [to Michigan] for the Notre Dame game, those jerseys were dope," Shittu told me. Dope is good. He will probably wait to see how teams perform during the season before making any decisions. Ondre Pipkins has wavered on when he will make his decision, so Ondre's decision could potentially alter where Shittu ends up if he were to pick Michigan.
Pennsylvania DE Noah Spence is still interested in Michigan as well. His father told me this past week that they are just laying low for right now and letting Noah enjoy some time off. He just took the SAT on Saturday. Not a lot is going on right now, but the Michigan coaches did take a visit to his school during the evaluation period.
2013 WR LaQuon Treadwell is teammates with current commit DB Anthony Standifer. Treadwell is hoping for a Michigan offer, and there's a chance he would commit right away if he received the offer. The Michigan coaches plan on watching his film and going from there. Just something to keep an eye on. I'll have more from him later on.
Ohio RB Bri'Onte Dunn has been talked about a lot lately. I've previously reported that he and his father are waiting to find out what happens with the OSU sanctions, and they will definitely have an effect on his commitment. His father told me this past week that they plan on making it out to Penn State as the next stop, and there's also a chance that they will be at the Michigan-Notre Dame night game during the season.
Utah FB Sione Houma did not commit during his visit to Michigan this weekend. He doesn't say much, but he told me that his parents went with him on the trip, and that he could potentially see himself going to Michigan. He will probably wait everything out, and I think distance might factor in here.
To stick with the fullback theme, I mentioned on the board this past week that Michigan currently leads for Texas FB EJ Fatu. He doesn't talk much either, but he sounds pretty excited about Michigan. We'll see if he makes it up soon for a visit.
I've gotten a lot of questions about quarterbacks lately. Maty Mauk took a visit to Ann Arbor this past week and Indiana QB Gunner Kiel postpponed his announcement that was supposed to take place on Sunday [the 12th]. From what I was told I wouldn't get too excited about Kiel, but I'm not sure that anyone really knows what's going on. His family keeps everything very close and doesn't leak too much. Both quarterbacks will likely decide soon and Michigan is still in the mix for both of them. If they miss on both then I would expect Austin Appleby to become a real option. He plans on camping and if the coaches like what they see, he could get an offer. I preface all of that with the fact that I don't know what is going to happen with Mauk or Kiel---both keep everything quiet.
2013 instate OL Steve Elmer was offered by Wisconsin. He now holds offers from Wisconsin and Mississippi State. I spoke to his dad a few weeks ago, I just haven't posted the interview yet. That will go up this week.