It took me a long time to figure out what that picture of AJ Williams was. First guess was man double punching a bug-eyed horse in the top of the head.
27 Tickets To Team 134: Signing Day Edition
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + fullback.
THIS IS THE Signing Day Update. Certain recruits are added, NFL departures (or returns) are accounted for, and bowl performances are taken into account. Next update is after spring practice.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Jake Long wannabe took second-to-last step to full clone by forgoing sure first-round status in this year's draft to return for senior year. Upside: shut off Clowney in bowl game, gives Michigan second returning starter, was All-American last year. Downside: has reportedly sold his twosie.
The Barbarian is Michigan's best defensive player and a lock for preseason first-team All Big Ten. Can change direction in a flash; consistently shocks opponents with his explosive acceleration.
Schofield came into his own midway through last year. Getting some NFL draft buzz now; shut down a talented SoCar bookend in the bowl. Could move to guard if necessary; idealls remains outside.
Groza semifinalist and hair enthusiast has turned his career around after early struggles. Hit 52-yarder last year en route to record accuracy for Michigan kicker. Likes brunettes and Keystone Light.
Should break out for real after a year to bulk up and work on his routes. Frequently targeted a year ago without effect, will need some outside threats to develop to truly annihilate defenses.
Former Rodriguez slot-dot is Michigan's leading receiver and should be again. Still a somewhat awkward fit as an outside receiver; a threat on end-arounds and screens. Punt return job may be up for grabs.
7. QB Devin Gardner, Jr.* [Last time: 12]
Late-season rankings slide of Shane Morris and solid bowl performance move Gardner from very likely to be Michigan's starter to a holy lock. No true freshman is supplanting him.
Safety attached to notorious six-pack has been a steady performer and a major contributor to Michigan's extreme lack of big plays allowed in the Mattison era.
Season surprise emerged into upper-echelon Big Ten nose tackle out of nowhere. Has the physical ability to be an NFL player. Requires your head, sorry, nothing personal.
Filled in admirably for Countess. Avery won't pass him, and it's doubtful any freshman will. Still needs to tighten up his zone coverage but has excellent size and athleticism for the position. Likely to move to boundary corner.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Most college-ready OL out of the Midwest in years probably could have—probably should have—started last year. If he does not ascend to starting job will have been beaten out by a classmate, freshman, or walk-on. Not happening; cue Imperial March.
Sticky-fingered Louisiana gnome proved is mettle in 2012. If a pass is physically reachable by him, will be brought in. Feet will motor afterwards. Lacks top gear.
Converted OL Michigan's best bet at inline blocking TE sort; needs to work on his technique in a serious way. Could near 300 pounds after an offseason in the weight room. Fears no fish.
Pressed into service as a started his freshman year before settling into perpetual third-best-corner-on-rosterdom. Will see half of the defensive snaps, covering slots and the like.
Major drop from last time out; was overranked to begin with since Bolden is pushing from behind. Excellent frosh play in bowl game puts job under a bit more threat. Realistically it'll be hard to move out of the MLB spot.
Kugler buzz sees Miller slide a bit as his competition will come in far readier than most to start from day one. Still seems unlikely a guy with a labrum injury can find the strength as a freshman to displace him.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
With Courtney Avery seemingly comfortable in the slot, Countess is likely to reclaim the field corner job he locked down midway through his freshman season… as long as he isn't hampered by lingering effects of his injury.
Early enrollee groomed as the Kovacs heir apparent as soon as he arrived, playing in certain nickel and dime packages as a freshman. Has not appeared on The Price Is Right, that's 'shopped, rookie. Marvin Robinson may challenge.
The only thing keeping Ross so low is classmate Joe Bolden; the two freshmen split snaps with veterans and played well. Ross seemed more instinctive and gets the nod here; had a great day against Northwestern and just needs 20 pounds to be a quality option.
IN A BATTLE
Yep: making the switch here, as Fitzgerald Toussaint now has to deal with not only DeVeon Smith but a 220 pound slab of muscle coming in with as much hype as it is possible to garner. Tailback is an immediate-impact spot.
Beyer has nosed ahead of Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia since he's a better run defender. Recruiting sites liked him best, too. Likely to split time with the other two contenders here even if given the green light as a starter.
Mountain-sized guard missed 2012 with a broken leg; will return for spring practice. Has to fend off freshmen and walk-ons, mostly. The non-Kalis guard spot will see a lot of intrigue.
Started to rack up meaningful snaps late in the year; will have to fend off challenges from Tom Strobel and possibly Chris Wormley and Jibreel Black, if he's not at three-tech. Injury-enforced retirement of Nate Brink means he's at least going to reprise his role this year.
Nominally in line to replace Will Campbell at starting three-tech but will be pushed hard by trio of redshirt freshmen, and may move out to SDE. May not have the size to start at his current position.
Someone large and leapy will have to pick up where Gardner and Roundtree(?) left off. Darboh did nothing as a freshman but seems likely to move in front of Jerald Robinson and others to claim the other spot outside.
Stephen Hopkins' departure makes Kerridge the leader at fullback when face-smashing is called for; the additions of Khalid Hill and Wyatt Shallman may move Kerridge to the bench for periods of time when Borges wants pass-catchers at the spot. Houma?
Bowl suspension has Will Hagerup on thin ice, thin enough that it seems 50/50 he returns, at best. If Hagerup is out the door, Michigan won't miss much of a beat with Wile, who averaged 48 yards a kick in the bowl game. Picture may be slightly old.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—hopefully he redshirts.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint—worst. year. ever.
RB DeVeon Smith—most likely to fit what coaches want at RB spot
RB Dennis Norfleet—MOVE HIM BACK MOVE HIM BACK
OL Erik Magnuson—third option at tackle.
OL Ben Braden—rumor is they may give him a shot at guard with Lewan back.
C Blake Bars—if Miller is just too too small.
C Patrick Kugler—the chosen center, but labrum injury hampers.
WR Jehu Chesson—should be ready to go after redshirt in search of bulk.
DE Tom Strobel—oversized end coming off redshirt, should be quality run defender.
NT Ondre Pipkins—get thee to the technique hut, son.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—has the size, has the hype, has the ACL recovery process.
WDE Frank Clark—rotated with Beyer last year.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—seemingly the best bet for an impact pass rusher at the spot.
MLB Joe Bolden—needs weight, but coming off meaningful freshman PT.
SLB Cam Gordon—spots Ryan.
CB Terry Richardson—weight weight weight weight weight
CB Jourdan Lewis—will a Cass corner ever meet the hype?
S Marvin Robinson—not sure if he'll ever be reliable enough to play.
S Josh Furman—ditto
on this piece. I know it's hard to project, but if we were to land Green, McQuay, and/or Treadwell how would you see them fitting in to the mix??
No mention of Dymonte Thomas? Any way he gets in the mix for one of the S spots?
Treadwell and Green might pop up into the "in a battle" spots occupied by Fitz and Darboh; McQuay probably not. Freshman S == death
the skills to play some corner in college? I remember the coaches were tempting him with the #2 jersey.
I agree that corner is his best/only shot to get on the field for M next year, and sincerely hope that this is a debate we can continue after signing day.
I was thinking the same thing - Dymonte is a dynamic playmaker and he's enrolling early. No reason to think he can't use the spring and summer to bulk up and find his way onto the field for Mattison.
The thing that stands out to me is the lack of a RB in the first 20 listed. Its hard to play MANBALL without a standout RB . . .
A good O-Line can make anyone look good.
The only problem is, we probably won't have that next year, either.
True, but my point (probably poorly raised) was that I can't remember a time when Michigan didn't have a known entity at the RB position, especially when it was to be the focal point of the offense. You all will probably remind me, though.
Do you mean a "good" known entity at the RB spot?
1991 (maybe not so much with Powers returning), 1995, 1996, (really) 1997, 2001, 2004, 2008, and 2011.
I'm not 100% sure, but maybe 2008. I think we had Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Kevi Grady and Sam Mcguffie. We didn't really know about Minor rage and Carlos Brown getting tackled by the wind. Kevin Grady is Kevin Grady and Sam Mcguffie was a true freshman with lots of hype.
This is mostly just blind optimism, but I think Kalis and Bryant will be improvements next year, especially for the power running game Borges obviously loves. Those guys are mountains.
Did you see the Iowa game? They were using some dude they found on the street and he was gashing our pretty darn good defense. Good blocking makes almost any RB good.
Look at what the loss of Molk and Schofield (on the interior) did to Fitz's production...it's not like Fitz has gotten worse at football over the past year (I think...right?).
Quinton Washington requires my head?? I guess that's OK -- I'm not using it much. He'll know a lot more GIbert & Sullivan than he does now.
Seems to me that Clark has a better chance of starting over Beyer at this point. Clark has been a playmaker this year, and I suspect he gets the majority of snaps next year. It'll be fun to see if any of those 3 WDE distinguish themselves.
You see Clark making plays because he's in on passing downs when sacks happen. Yeah, Beyer is making many sacks when the teams runs the ball up the middle, but he has looked like the most consistent player at that spot. Clark is more flashy, but that means they complement each other well.
As good as this D was this year there were two things it lacked compared to an elite unit - a strong pass rusher and a lock down corner.
Maybe Countess is the lock down guy, but Better definitely is NOT the pass rusher. Clark should get better against the run and is the only pass rush threat unless Mario puts on weight. I think Clark should be in the top 27.
I cannot remember Clark ever starting before his suspension.
Clark should start, if for no other reason than to honor his sack on Braxton miller the other day. WOW. We need a gif animation on that.
Do we have any good evidence that Braden is ahead of Magnuson? That one surprised me, since Magnuson had crazy hype and looked solid in the AAA game, and Braden had, well, none. Is it a size thing? Magnuson was listed at 285 this fall, but could certainly be every bit of 300 by next fall.
While I think Braden was an uderrated prospect, I believe Magnuson is the better player, and is certainly no slouch as a run blocker. While Magnuson has a 23 lb. disadvantage (according to UM) a year of conditioning could easily get him up to 300. I believe that spot is very much a dog fight, and the edge, IMO, goes to Magnuson.
Neither has played a college game. We have no evidence either way and won't until after the CHIPs come to town next August.
Would have been every bit the prospect that Magnuson was, but he pretty much skipped out of the camp scene from what I remember. Braden is an impressive athlete, huge and athletic. Don't get me wrong, I love Magnuson's potential as well. I just think saying Magnuson is a better player could just be star gazing.
Might be more of where they end up eventually. Braden is the bigger more "road grader" type who slots in at a "traditional" RT spot. Magnuson is the more atheltic and more likely to be a LT (blind side guy for his better pass blocking).
*Dunno if having a lefty QB will change any of that
the positions i.e. our LT will play RT when Morris becomes the starter.
Idle speculation: What happens if Gardener DOES get his RS and Morris is "ready" as a RS Frosh? I don't think Devin will appreciate being a backup (but I would guess would handle it better than our last starter-to-backup example), maybe mix in a few WR snaps or 2 QB formations? I can't see a rotation as I am not sure how easy it would be for the O-line to adjust play-to-play or series-to-series.
He will be the starter as a senior, whether Morris is ready or not. Why would you abandon a good, senior QB for even the most hyped freshman out there? I would bet Gardner starts and Morris backs him up in the scenario you posit. Morris gets some plays in garbage time, or if there is an injury, and takes over in 2015.
For Shane to start over Devin he is going to have to more than just "ready"
I like it. But Brink's injury was career ending?
Yep. He walked on Senior Day.
Brink walked on senior day.
He may have just decided to graduate.
I think you're giving short shrift to Joey Burzynski. He's the one who would have stepped in to play this season, and I suspect he'll be taking the first snap in the spring. We'd all love for a guy with more upside (Chris Bryant, please!) step up and take that job, but I think the *likely* outcome is that Burzynski is the starter when next season rolls around.
At very least, I think you have to include him in the "in a battle" category.
Is Burzynski also a possibility at center? While I know that Miller is still only a redshirt freshman who will gain more size and strength, center was a real weakness this year and he wasn't good enough to compete which suggests Hoke and company will be looking at all possibilities next year.
and my two issues may be completely wrong, but this has been my impression thus far. Miller wasn't in the running this year because he simply didn't have the size, it wasn't really about ability or talent. He couldn't come in because he was simply too small.
In relation to Burzynski being the next in line at guard last season...he was the only one there. The coaches wanted to redshirt the freshmen and Bryant was injured. There was no one else to put there.
I think assuming he will be the one in line for starting next season based on what we saw this season is a little optimistic since for all of the other options, they were redshirting to gain weight or out with season ending injuries. If those weight gains occur and the injuries heal I don't see any way most of them don't pass Burzynski. He couldn't even crack the lineup this year with all the mess our oline was in.
Again, I may be wrong with my logic, but that is what I thought transpired this year that lead to Burzynski being the first off the bench.
Please keep Jeremy Gallon away from any and all gunpowder-activated nail guns.
I laughed too when I saw Snoop's pic next to Jeremy Gallon's name. Quite a resemblence.
"Now, you understand what I mean by recoil?"
"Yeah, the kickback. I'm with you."
is there are only 9 seniors in the first 27 and two of them are kickers.
And we have a kicker/punter that is good enough to adequately replace both of them.
We will be an even younger team next year than we were this year, but we'll be ridiculously talented. Unfortunately, that probably means we'll have moments of brilliance and moments of stupor...
I hope to never see the punter next year.
What scares me (as far as next year's season is concerned) is that there are only 9 seniors in the first 27, and one of them is OL.
I've missed the entire Boardwalk Empire third season. I've got a couple of weeks off at the end of December. Time to catch up on the series in between bowl games.
is also a home game. Of course, MSU is on the road.
That fact will also make 2014 a great year.
2014 has all the makings of a great season if they can stay healthy, and the recruits live up to their recruiting hype.
The problem with 2014 is that we have a schedule similar to this year's, with most of the tough games (Ohio, Nebraska, ND) on the road. In 2015 we reverse that--except for ND, which melts away--which makes me think that is the year we are in the playoffs.
By 2014, we should have a juggernaut (at least by recruiting metrics) on both lines, which will be nice.
there's a lot of experience coming back especially on the defensive side of the ball. The offense will be interesting because of the almost entirely new online (especially if Lewan leaves) but Gardner's performance the last 4 games mitagates that a little for me.
The defense should be strong enough to keep UM in every game next year no matter how bad the offense struggles.
who are Hoke era recruits...would be interesting to see how next year's team looks on the field.
The RB predictions give me hearburn.
*Edit* Because it's true.