"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."
"There's a certain level of confidence and composure he brings to the court," said sophomore forward Aubrey Dawkins, who played the bulk of his minutes as a freshman while LeVert sat on the end of the bench in a sweat suit. "When you know you have a player like that on your team of that caliber, it's just like, we're in his hands and he can do a lot of things for this team. It's a comfort. It's nice."
"I just really wanted to see him in a game and I loved what I saw," Beilein said. "He was active. He's got a motor. He's got some things he's got to work on. He doesn't have the strength to (play) the way he'd like to in the Big Ten yet, but that's what we're going to work on in-between (games) without inhibiting his ability to play the next game."
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at full junior film for four 2013 commits, addresses an interesting theory on offensive line recruiting, and details a couple of recent offers.
Butt Taco D-Train MANBALL*
It's been a slow week for recruiting news, so luckily ScoutingOhio's Mark Porter unleashed full-length junior highlight videos for four Michigan commits. Here they are, with some brief analysis; first up is TE Jake Butt:
Once you get past the first half of the video, which is comprised of defensive highlights, you get to see some impressive play from Butt at tight end. He catches the ball away from his body, displays sure hands, and does a really nice job of turning back to the quarterback and giving him a target on just about every route. These are just highlights, but he also looks solid as a blocker. Butt doesn't have off-the-charts athleticism and he could be a little sharper on his route-running; he still looks like a player who could come in and have a quick impact if he can add the necessary size and strength before he hits campus.
DE Taco Charlton:
Charlton mostly played as a situational pass-rusher last fall, so his highlights aren't as lengthy as the others. That said, the outstanding athleticism that makes him such an intriguing prospect is on full display, as he's often able to just blow by opposing blockers without facing much resistance. There are issues with technique, especially when it comes to shedding blocks; those should improve with proper coaching, a summer on the camp circuit, and starter's experience in the fall. Given Michigan's depth at defensive end, Charlton likely won't have to play right away, but he looks like he could make a big impact down the road, at the very least in the same role he played last year.
S Dymonte Thomas:
Before you start calling for Thomas to play running back, check out the next tape (and also remember that Michigan is seriously in the mix for Ty Isaac). We don't get to see Thomas playing much safety in the above clip—he spends a lot of his time in the box—but we do get to see his sideline-to-sideline speed, quick diagnosis against the run, and ability to come up and lay a lick. I don't see a whole lot not to like here, though I'll be interested to see if he plays more deep half as a senior and we get some more film of him in coverage; there's not a lot to go on above.
RB DeVeon Smith:
Hello, MANBALL. Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle. The one caveat to this video is that Smith didn't play the highest level of competition last year; he comes from the same league at Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, and that worked out just fine. We don't get to see him block much, and passes are limited to swings and screens, but there's little doubt that Smith should have an impact carrying the football.
Former All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Turley evaluated four of Michigan's five offensive line commits in a free article at 247Sports; he's apparently over his OUTRAGE from Brady Hoke leaving San Diego State (his alma mater) to coach at Michigan, because the reviews are quite positive. Unfortunately for us, they're also pretty much identical for each of the four players (Logan Tuley-Tillman, Chris Fox, Kyle Bosch, and Patrick Kugler). In short:
Strengths—Mean streak, size
Can Work On—Pad level, footwork
Part of this is because leverage and technique can always be improved upon, especially in making the transition to the college game. Also, Michigan has assembled an impressive collection of big linemen who finish blocks with authority. There is a little more insight in the full article, including the fact that Bosch appears to be the most college-ready of the four.
*That's gotta provide an SEO boost, right?
Pro-Sized Offensive Linemen: Good
I was pleased to see that SBNation recently unveiled Land-Grant Holy Land, a new Ohio State blog spearheaded by 11W and EDSBS contributor Luke Zimmerman. This recruiting-related article for the site by DJ Byrnes, however, should probably be addressed. I won't give "Brady Hoke's Blind Spot" the full FJM-style fisking, but here's the setup after a brief discussion of how good former OSU OL Alex Boone looked as a high school prospect [emphasis mine]:
Two years later, I watched Alex Boone get eviscerated by Urban Meyer's Florida Gators. Play after play, there was another rabid jackal clad in orange and blue, running down a previously elusive Troy Smith. There was no mercy and no quarter given. There was no pity. It was just unrelenting pressure, and Alex Boone succumbed to it.
The next year, Alex Boone got eaten alive by LSU's defensive line in a game where I'm surprised Todd Boeckman wasn't killed. Again, it was a straight up mauling for which Boone and his compatriots had little defense. The Buckeyes didn't get beat like a drum against LSU as they did against Florida, but it was another poor showing for the offensive line. (SEC coaches understand: a deep, versatile defensive line will give bigger, slower offensive lines nightmares over the course of a game.)
So, this is why I laugh at Michigan and their recruitment of Boone-like clones to stock their offensive line. It's also why I get super giddy when I compare those efforts against Urban's.
Yes, this is an argument against recruiting pro-sized offensive linemen, and the crux of the argument is based on the failings of Alex Boone. There are many flaws to this, but the most notable is that Alex Boone didn't fall short of expectations at Ohio State because he was 6'8", 310+ pounds. He fell short because, through most of his college career, he was a ragingalcoholic, at one point admitting to drinking up to 40 beers a night during the weekend. That will slow down just about anybody.
Byrnes then notes the rather massive human beings Michigan is bringing in for both the 2012 and 2013 classes, as well as the extremely high level of talent the Buckeyes are assembling along the defensive line. I have no argument here—there should be some epic trench clashes in the future of this rivalry. I think Michigan has a good chance of coming out on top in those clashes, however, because this simply isn't true:
Brady Hoke will be good for Michigan. He may even beat Ohio State once or twice during his tenure, but he doesn't seem to realize that college football has shifted away from massive, clattering offensive lines. By the time he does, it might already be too late.
First, it's worth noting that massive =/= unathletic. Taylor Lewan is 6'8", but he's also got remarkably quick feet. Anyone who watched 6'9", 345-pound tackle Jonathan Ogden play as a pro remembers him for somehow resembling the world's most devastating ballerina. As for the college football world moving away from large offensive lines, here are your spring depth charts for the two teams to play for the 2011 national title:
1) If college football is moving away from behemoth offensive lines, we forgot to inform the SEC, which has somehow managed to make do.
2) *Looks at Alabama's depth chart, shudders*
So, in short, you probably shouldn't worry about Michigan reeling in large classes of man-sized linemen being a bad thing. This argument could probably have been accomplished with one word—Wisconsin—but it's a slow week.
Okay, one last thing. Urban Meyer was hired on November 28th, 2011. After that date, the Buckeyes added three offensive linemen to their 2012 class: Taylor Decker (6'8", 315), Joey O'Connor (6'4", 295), and Kyle Dodson (6'6", 315). Yep, Meyer isn't stupid, either.
[So, um, MnB's Zach Travis did this too, and his take is worth a read as well. I swear I wrote this yesterday. So it goes.]
New Offers, Ojemudia Enrolls Early, Etc.
Michigan isn't slowing down on the hunt for wide receivers, as Tim Sullivan reports that their latest 2013 offer was extended to three-star MD WR Paul Harris ($, info in header). Harris stands at 6'3", 185 lbs., and he plans to attend Michigan's one-day camp on June 21st. The Wolverines are a mortal lock to add two more receivers to the class, and I wouldn't be surprised if they take three given the lack of proven depth and the scholarship no longer being held for E.J. Levenberry.
Tremendous got the scoop that the Wolverines also threw their hat in the ring for one of the top defensive prospects of 2014, NJ CB Jabrill Peppers. Peppers already holds offers from Florida, LSU, Miami (FL), Notre Dame, Rutgers, and South Carolina, and that list will likely include a laundry-list of national powers before all is said and done. Peppers told Aquaman that he grew up watching Michigan—favorite players: Mike Hart and Mario Manningham—and has interest in a visit, either in the summer or fall.
11W's Alex Gleitman spoke to four-star MA DL Maurice Hurst Jr. after a recent visit to Columbus, and Hurst stated that he'll visit Michigan and Michigan State in the near future, and then he'll be "done with visits." He'd like to make his decision in the next month and a half, and currently lists Ohio State, Michigan, and Virginia as the schools sticking out to him. Buckeye coaches apparently told him that they'll take another defensive tackle; we'll see if the loaded D-line class there affects his decision, especially if things go well on his trip to Ann Arbor.
The Wolverine's Andy Reid reports that 2012 DE Mario Ojemudia will enroll for spring term on Monday, giving the man with the laser death-stare a leg up on strength and conditioning, not to mention a head start in the classroom. Ojemudia needs to add a fair amount of weight before he'll be able to line up with his hand in the dirt, so this is welcome news.
You can probably rule out Michigan for a couple of California prospects. CA RB Justin Davis has "pretty much" narrowed down to a final three of USC, Cal, and Washington, and he expects to make his decision soon ($, info in header). With the Wolverines focused in on Ty Isaac and Derrick Green, that doesn't come as much of a surprise. If Michigan was back in the market for linebackers after losing out on Levenberry—very unlikely, considering the prospects they've turned away—they seems out of the race for CA LB Michael Hutchings, who's aiming for a summer decision and is only mentioning Pac-12 schools as possible visit destinations ($).
Quickly: Free Rivals article on CA WR Demorea Stringfellow, who Mike Farrell describes as a "tough matchup for cornerbacks" because of his size (6'2", 185) and ability to go up and get the football.
You can really see on a couple of plays the lack of mass keeps them from knocking folks backward but both films show all you need... add some kilos and the entire foundation is there to make really good players out of.
There's a need for multiple defensive linemen in the class, so it's easy to see a scenario in which Michigan takes both Poggi and Hurst—I'd certainly be fine with that. The Wolverines have to offer first, but they often wait until a guy is on campus to do so. After missing out on Levenberry, I wouldn't be surprised if they put the offer out there soon.
I assumed USC was out before that tweet. They have a 15-man max for the class and they already have two guys at Mathis' position. I doubt they'd take him even if he wanted to go.
EDIT: To put some evidence to my claim - USC has commitments from Kenny Bigelow (Rivals #6 player overall, listed as a SDE but could be a 3-tech) and Kylie Fitts (Rivals #81 player overall, SDE all the way). Even if Bigelow moves to DT, this is two guys at two DL spots, which is likely all they'll take. They took a few DEs in 2012 so this won't be an area they can take extra guys in such a small class.
The blog's stance is that we can pretty much ignore what Mathis is saying until he's signed an LOI. Nothing against the kid, but he changes his mind too often to really put much stock into what he's saying at any given time.
Though Zack does a good job of pointing out that we didn't exactly recruit a bunch of 3* D-linemen last year, like claimed. And that at least one of the lineman they go, we turned down.
He's right the key is on the D-line. What he's failing to point out is not only has that been a big part of what we've been recruiting, but also that great D-line's trash little offensive lines too, not just big ones. They tear everybody up. That's why they're important. And I'm guessing Urban is going to recruit the best O-linemen he can...so I hope they're not disappointed when he does the same thing as Hoke.
But if he doesn't...fine. This is all sounding very familiar.............
Seems like Mr. Byrnes' in-depth analysis of Hoke's offensive line haul is merely a thinly veiled attempt for a Buckeye fan to vent about Boone's play, combined with a tenuous logical thread to bash Hoke in the process. Let it go, DJ. Boone's vast potential was never realized, and Wisconsin's mauling offensive lines of recent years (including, if memory serves, key victories over the Buckeyes) proves your point moot. It didn't take Ace long to poke road-grader holes in your argument, too, with the 'Bama-LSU illustration. I'll also hand out the "no shit Sherlock" award for this statement:
a deep, versatile defensive line will give bigger, slower offensive lines nightmares over the course of a game
Deep, versatile defensive lines will give any offensive line nightmares, period. I would conversely argue that deep, versatile offensive lines can give any defensive line (small, big, fast, slow) nightmares over the course of the game (insert any football broadcaster's mantra of the OL's big uglies wearing down the DL by the 4th quarter). Skill, scheme, strength, athleticism, stamina, and game-day coaching decisions all play integral roles in who wins the war in the trenches. It can't be distilled into simple "big, slow offensive lines are so 1990's" statements.
Yeah I think far too much is put into Ohio states losses to Florida and Lu's and how that somehow means that big teams are automatically unathletic. I don't know for sure but I think based on the way those OSU teams played that their main problem was a lack of preparation or desire not talent or athleticism. Also, we are recruiting talented olinemen who have offers from the Alabamas USCs and Ohio States of the world, meaning that they have some good athletic ability to go along with their size. I've said this before but if you want to see the future of our program, with the way we are stockpiling talent, you only need to look to Alabama. Big, physical, athletic defenses and a overpowering, ball control offense. This was the formula to beating Meyer at Florida and it will do the same at Ohio State.
I'm very glad you posted and refuted the article, I actually had just gone over to Land Grant Holy Land to check up on the enemy and had that same exact thought, except I'm a bit too young to know anything about Alex Boone so I had no idea he has the drinking related arrests and such. That whole piece was poorly researched and poorly timed. He completely forgot to include Taco Charlton in his "analysis" of Michigan's D-Line recruiting, and his "analysis" takes place when Michigan has landed one of three or four of their potential D-Line commits, the rest of which promise to be four stars or three stars the coaches feel good about. And then of course your point, Ace, holds true as well. His thesis is GOOD OFFENSIVE LINE RECRUITING FOR DEPTH AND SKILL IS BAD and is entirely based on one guy who didn't work out several years ago? Ohio State fans are constantly complaining about their inability to recruit offensive line talent under Tressel and Boleman, and how they never had more than 10 scholarshup O-Lineman on the roster at a time. They had to play Alex Boone despite his character issues because they didn't recruit anyone else who was better than him and wasn't a substance abuser! The article is a farce.
Of course I'm not surprised by any of this. For those of you who don't know, the author of the article was released from the rotation of 11W when he got in an epic pissing match with one of the readers. His writing "style" is always brash and tactless and full of 100% homerific machismo. It's interesting that Luke Zimmerman, who generally seems funny, informed, and talented would hire someone so divisive and abrasive as a staff writer for a brand new blog trying to gain traction.
I agree, but it's not like the offensive linemen RR brought in are/were bad. Lewan looks to be a first-rounder, and guys like Molk (I know he was part of the Carr/RR hybrid class) and Omameh proved that smaller guys can succeed. I always thought the OL recruiting by RR was top-notch, but that his defensive line recruiting failed to shore up that side of the line.
That said, it's not like there is a "perfect" offensive linemen, and I tend to think that good athletes can play any style up front. Yes, big fat guys who are just big and fat will struggle, but so will upper-athletic guys who weigh 250. But as Hoke has shown, recruiting athletic+ kids who can also carry good weight gets you the best of both worlds and can really propel your team forward.
Well, although I will not deny that a few of the guys RR recruited have worked out, I have a much harder time understanding why he would allow us to take 1 OL (Pace, who is now an injury casualty) in a class, then follow it up with what was looking like maybe 3 more the next year. That's terrible, and it's why our OL will be young and lack depth for the next 3 years or so.
I will never forget it, and that's when I really started to despise Vest. Boone is the luckiest bastard on earth that he didn't kill himself, or someone else, and his punishment was running.
Vest couldn't even suspend him against Northern Illinois just to save some credibility. Of course Doug Worthington got a DUI shortly after that and was also rewarded with playing in the season opener. Vest was such a hypocrite.
That article never gets old for me. The rule was an automatic suspension, but since Boone had a "plan to stay sober", everything is fine, water under a bridge.
I'll never forget listening to Craig Krenzel on the radio after Worthington's "punishment". Krenzel is actually really good on the radio and he said something to the tune of, "exactly what precedent are you setting here? That if you're a starter DUI's don't really matter?"
Janeane Garofalo (Film Actors Guild): "As actors it is our responsibility to read the newspaper, and then say what we read on television like it's our opinion"
To somehow argue that OSU lost both of those MNC titles because their offensive linemen were too fat ignores the fact that both LSU and Florida had similarly-sized offensive lines as well. The problem those OSU teams had had was with personnel across the board; Ted Ginn Jr. was the only legitimate deep threat they had passing, and he was out after the first play. They also had Todd Boeckman at QB against LSU, so this wasn't limited to a single lineman.
mentioned the fact that Urban tried to flip Kalis, and has since offered two of the "massive slow" players we have committed (LTT and Fox). It's also probably more than probable he would have offered some of the others, including Kugler and Bosch.
I wish the internet was more adversarial, as in, this blog competed with other blogs. As it stands, we have to settle for just complaining in a near vacuum. It'd be more fun to see the responses to the rational arguments on here.
I see some decent teams in the mix for these guys, and someone mentioned the flip attempt on Kalis already. If big O-linemen aren't attractive anymore, some of the biggest programs in the nation haven't gotten that memo yet.