2008 Recruiting: Offensive Line
A disclaimer on the "You May Remember Me From Such Players As": YMRMFSPA is supposed to be a rough estimate of what kind of player the recruit could turn into if he pans out. It is not a projection. The players listed tend to be very good because no one knows what kind of player Doug Dutch is; we just know he can't get on the field. I am not saying that I expect Martavious Odoms to be Devin Hester, the best return man in the history of the NFL. I'm saying that Odoms is sort of like Devin Hester and if we roll a *second* critical hit on our initial critical hit roll he might be half as good.
End disclaimer. On with shew.
Actually, more disclaimer: YMRMFSPAs are really stupid for OL and these should be taken even less seriously than the others.
Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.
Enter O'Neill, a player four of five services rank around #50 or #60 in the country and amongst the top dozen or half-dozen OTs in the country. His highlight reel is your standard elite OL reel, where a guy who looks like two kids pulling the old "let's look like an adult by wearing a trenchcoat and standing on each others' shoulders" trick goes "fe fi fo fum" and humiliates the various irritating rodents he finds in his path. Which is to say it's awesome:
O'Neill committed very early and never seriously considered anywhere other than Michigan. (This will be a new experience for Rich Rodriguez going forward: "wait... you just want to come here? Before you've even met me? Uh... okay!")
He then bounced around both sites' top 100 lists, briefly dropping out because he's a committed OL from an unsexy place before putting in an impressive performance at the Under Armor game*. He was one of the best OL there. Rivals moved him up to #49 from outside the top 100; Scout remains relatively skeptical. At 6'8" and around 300 pounds, O'Neill is a prototypical left tackle who spent his high school career blocking in a spread offense similar to Rodriguez's. He's reputed to be a highly advance pass blocker and might end up on the field this fall. Much rides on how he pans out.
*(The Under Armor game is an ESPN-affiliated high school all star game just established; it competes with the Army game for the top high school talent and is another reason Lemming got to jam the Army Bowl with debatably worthy ND commits.)
Guru Reliability: Maximal. They got a good long look at the all-star game.
General Excitement Level: Maximal with standard OL caveat. O'Neill has all the markers.
Projection: Will start at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall). Probably the most important recruit in the class after a year with only one OT and that a guy we stole from the MAC.
|Crown Point, Indiana - 6'3" 278
|Scout||4*, #11 OG, #287 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #37 G|
|ESPN||78, #20 OG|
|Other Suitors||Purdue, UCLA, Iowa|
|Kurt Wermers commits.|
|Notes||Will pwn you, n00b. Then will break out in a chorus of "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" Commit article.|
When Kurt Wermers committed in May, I snarkily justified the lack of information in the his commitment post:
The reader is invited to speculate on how much freely available info there is on moderately to not particularly hyped guards from Indiana. Yep.
Uh... well, over the past nine months that's changed. There's even video! Wermers is the right guard, #70:
If you're like me, this taught you nothing. But there's video, man. For a guard.
Other salutary notes: Wermers was named Indiana's top offensive lineman. Though that may be a modest accomplishment for a guy who plans at playing for Michigan, there was another notable lineman in Indiana this year: Notre Dame commit Braxton Cave. Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:
Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field.
This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:
"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."
I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.
Guru Reliability: Low? I mean, you've got one that says meh, one that's pretty enthusiastic, and one in between.
General Excitement Level: I will ignore the WoW-a capella red flags and say "moderate." But if I hear anything about Wermers joining MUSKET, I'm writing him off.
Projection: 50-50 to be a decent interior line starter after the requisite couple years of bench time.
|Toledo, Ohio - 6'6" 280
|Scout||4*, #28 OT, #267 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #24 OT, #213 overall|
|ESPN||77, #42 OT|
|Other Suitors||MSU, Purdue|
|Brief commit mention.|
A lifelong Ohio State fan, Elliot Mealer had the misfortune to enter his senior year of high school at the same time Mike Adams and highly-touted company did. By summer a number of highly rated recruits had committed and Mealer was informed Ohio State would not offer him. Michigan did, and soon after Mealer undertook an ambitious redecoration project in his bedroom:
With Brutus Buckeye staring down at him from one wall, and "The Ohio State University" emblazoned on another, Mealer was able to sort things out and make a decision he said he feels comfortable with.
After Mealer's early decision, things went silent in his recruitment until the coaching changeover, when he re-affirmed his commitment to Michigan, and the horrific Christmas Eve accident that killed his father and girlfriend and temporarily paralyzed his brother. Which is obviously about the worst thing that could happen to anyone.
If this blog was not a monument to the lack of perspective often brought about by intense sports fandom, the evaluation would stop here. But it is what it is, and on we go.
Though he's universally projected at tackle by both schools and recruiting services, Mealer actually played tight end and defensive end for Wauseon. This didn't work out that well for Tim McAvoy, a high school tight end who came in as part of the 2005 class and is now struggling for playing time along the line's interior, but McAvoy was about 30 pounds lighter than Mealer in high school and was an unregarded three-star. Mealer's in the same star range as Jake Long -- how's that for an unfair comparison?
ESPN's scouting report($) has a lot of technique criticisms but similar praise for his potential, and they're the service most down on him. He'll take some time for a variety of reasons both serious and mundane, but has a high ceiling.
Guru Reliability: Medium. Take OL ratings lightly except for the very top guys.
General Excitement Level: Moderate.
Projection: Definite redshirt and it might take a couple years before he comes around. He'll be starting slowly since he tore his rotator cuff in the accident. He's got to learn a new position and deal with all the trauma on top of that. I would expect the first time he's seriously mentioned for playing time is three years from now, after Schilling graduates.
|Traverse City, Michigan - 6'6" 280
|Scout||3*, #65 OT|
|Rivals||3*, #47 OT|
|ESPN||70, #94 OG|
|YMRMFSPA||Uh, that other un-touted guard person.|
|Hopefully We Can Lock Up Bullwinkle, Too|
|Notes||Also a crappy rapper.|
Khoury was a camp offer who committed about a week later; his only other BCS offer was from Michigan State. Michigan initially planned to redshirt him and move him to guard or center (he was a tackle in high school, as almost all D-I prospects are), but Rodriguez called him a tackle at the signing day press conference, for what that's worth. Probably.
As an early-commit interior lineman from a lightly populated area of the state, that's about all we know about Rocko. Thanks to the intrepid inve
stigatory skills of West Virginia newspapermen we know that Rodriguez called him from the wrong cell phone; the one potentially useful piece of information we have is a 4.16 shuttle time at the Chicago Nike camp. For comparison, electron-sized Martavious Odoms ran a 4.12 at his combine. Like most of the linemen in this class, Khoury is on the (relatively) nimble end of the spectrum; no Alex Mitchell he.
Guru Reliability: Low-ish. Obscure location, early commit, lineman.
General Excitement Level: Meh. Camp offer of a sleeper-ish lineman is a Michigan tradition, and he's this year's version. GBW sums it up:
He has the look of a player who can contribute down the road.
Projection: A couple years in the weight room, then he's another bullet in the chamber.
|Lake Gibson, Florida- 6'2" 280
|Scout||3*, #17 OG|
|Rivals||4*, #5 C|
|ESPN||80, #4 OG|
|Other Suitors||Florida, USF, Georgia, GaTech|
|Notes||Don't piss his mom off. Enjoys Barwis, snow.|
Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.
Anyway, in Barnum Michigan has a highly rated, highly recruited interior lineman. Though Scout is relatively down on him, Rivals gives him four stars and rates him one of the country's best centers. ESPN is even more enthusiastic, giving him a very strong 80 ranking and placing him just outside their top 150. He had offers commensurate with his ranking: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Georgia Tech, South Florida, and 25 others.
Barnum's strength is his quickness. "He's got great feet and can get to the next level," says his coach. More:
"He finishes blocks better than Jason Watkins ever did. He can really get to the next level. He keeps his feet, engages the linebackers, has great balance and he plays through the whistle. Sometimes his style of playing through the whistle cost us some penalties, but he's got that attitude that you want to see from your offensive linemen. The Gators [sic!] are getting a good one and he's just a good coachable kid."
The Rodriguez system prizes mobility, and Barnum has that.
A caveat: at 6'2" he's an inch or two shorter than your ideal interior lineman. This is usually fine at center but not preferred at guard (and unacceptable at tackle). He's a center, right? Big deal. Well, one of the two offensive linemen Michigan picked up last year is David Molk, who is also an undersized OL most feel is destined for center. Maybe height isn't that big a deal in the Rodriguez offense. If it is, it would be hard for both to win starting jobs simultaneously.
Barnum on his decision process:
Rodriguez, who visited Lake Gibson after Barnum committed to Florida, was a major factor in his decision. Barnum noted that he likely would have gone to West Virginia had Rodriguez stayed there. His visit to Michigan also played a part.
"When I went up to Michigan, everything was nice," he said. "They run the same offense we ran, the spread offense. They graduated three starting offensive lineman and four backups. Where could you go possibly wrong with that one?"
Well, Ricky, ask the quarterback next year.
Guru Reliability: High. Seems about the right spread for a guy recruited by many of the top teams in the SEC who doesn't have ideal size.
General Excitement Level: High. Florida, Georgia, and Alabama all wanted this kid.
Projection: Likely to start after a couple years.
(HT on some of the links above: Conquering Heroes.)
|Columbus(!), Ohio - 6'6" 260
|Scout||3*, #87 OT|
|ESPN||69, #113 OT|
|Other Suitors||MSU, OSU, Cincinnati|
|Pronunciation Check In Aisle OL|
|Notes||Smarter than you.|
Omameh was one of the late decommitments Michigan picked up, choosing Michigan over Cincinnati (his original destination) and Michigan State after a senior-year growth spurt added two inches and 30 pounds to his frame.
He's the lowest ranked player in the class but there are positive indicators for his future, the most prominent being the Ohio State offer he picked up a couple hours after his Michigan commitment. While it was a plan B offer sent after highly touted West Virginian Josh Jenkins decided to stay home, an OSU offer is an OSU offer, especially when the Buckeyes are bringing in three five-star offensive linemen. It indicates talent not reflected in his guru ratings, and maybe just a little bit of a desire to screw Michigan at the last second. Omameh did not bite.
Omameh is smallish and nimble, a good fit for the spread 'n' shred. A BuckeyePlanet scouting report:
Perfect frame for adding weight. Solid center prospect but could eventually project on either side of the ball or at offensive guard. In the DeSales offense he is usually asked to crab block and then get to the second level, which is not necessarily easy to do. Because of that technique he shows good quickness and great flexibility. Not strong enough right now but can work on that during his first few years to help generate better push up front and better drive off the snap. Initial contact is decent but needs to get stronger to push people aorund. Great motor and great hustle. Along with his strength needs to work on his punch in passing situations and needs to work more from the knees rather than the waist.
Also, was a first team all-state pick this past season in DII.
As noted above, quickness and flexibility are at a premium in the Rodriguez offense (and the zone stretch game Michigan ran the last two years with lumberers like Alex Mitchell and Rueben Riley).
A bonus: Omameh has a 4.0 GPA, so should pick up the offense quickly and maybe tutor his teammates in biology. There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.
Guru Reliability: Very low. Omameh is a true sleeper.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Though he's got the proverbial upside, he remains a project.
Projection: Will need a year or more likely two before he's even in the conversation for a starting job, but has as much of a chance to contribute as anyone in the class other than O'Neill.
Grading The Class
Forgot to do this for receiver and TE; will make it up in a general roundup post later.
B+. Picking up a premiere left tackle prospect was a necessity after a couple years of questionable depth and sleeper recruits, and Michigan did that by locking down O'Neill. Numbers were also at a premium with only two kids in the last class, and Michigan got numbers; the late pickup of a top-five-ish interior lineman committed to Florida was a major boon and the guy at the tail end of the class had an Ohio State offer.
In two years this class of linemen will be redshirt sophomores and there will be four upperclass OL on the roster, three of whom are tackles. At least two members of this class will be starting by then and, since O'Neill is a tackle, probably three. That's a recipe for disaster if we're talking about four recruits; with six it's just uncomfortable.
A possible downer: a number of the offensive linemen in this class were wrested from the likes of Michigan State and Purdue, not Ohio State and Notre Dame. I'm too concerned about O'Neill (obviously) or Mealer, who would have ended up with an Ohio State offer 8 of 10 times but had the misfortune to be in the same class as Adams and Brewster and Shugarts. Wermers, though, had interest from ND but no offer and Khoury was one of those camp guys that doesn't generate much interest outside of the state. That's not to say either of those guys is destined for failure -- as always, we remind you that OL is the biggest crapshoot in recruiting.