"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."
OH TE/DE Keith Keitzman received an offer from Brady Hoke's staff last night, and wasted no time in committing to be the 12th member of Michigan's class of 2011. He is a Vanderbilt decommit.
3*, #63 TE
3*, 5.5, NR DE
3*, 75, #152 DE
The recruiting sites list him between 6-2 and 6-3, and between 220 and 237 pounds. I would guess that's 6-3 (the majority vote) and somewhere around 225 pounds. He was listed as big as 6-4, 240 in high school, but that's probably exaggeration. Let's get started with ESPN's evaluation:
Heitzman possesses solid size for a high school defensive end and should be able to add more good bulk as he physically develops and gets into a college weight program. He gets off the ball well. He can be a physical kid at the point of attack, but needs to be more consistent especially with his hands. He displays the ability to maintain some leverage and hold his ground... Needs to keep working on his recognition skills. As a pass rusher he displays the ability to get into the blocker with some leverage and create pressure with a bull rush. Needs to be more active with his weapons, develop his pass rush arsenal, and not attack the whole man. Heitzman is a solid defender who will flash some tools to be tough versus the run and pass.
That has the ring of a project recruit who has good potential, but needs to develop both physically and skill-wise before he'll be able to make a big impact on the field. As you can see in the picture below, he's still very skinny for a defensive lineman.
Heitzman decommitted from Vanderbilt (he'd been wavering since Robbie Cladwell was fired), so obviously had an offer from the Commodores. His other offers are a host of MAC schools (Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, Miami (NTM), Ohio, and Toledo, and a few low-range Big Ten teams in Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. One of the reasons he chose Vandy was an emphasis on academics, so Michigan makes sense for the kid.
At this time, allow to express a slight fear of a second-straight commit with a meager offer sheet. Say what you will about Rich Rodriguez's on-field product, but he generally recruited very well, with only a couple prospects per year worthy of the "sleeper" label. So far, Hoke's staff is 2-for-2 among commitments, with a few higher-rated commits jumping ship so far.
With the timeline they're working on, it's not a scary pattern quite yet, but keep an eye on this going forward.
Well, this is a guy who's probably a very long way from seeing the field as a defensive end. I wonder whether he might be brought in as a tight end, one of his high school positions and a major need for this class. On the other hand, Scout's position ranking could just be crazy.
For a guy his size, if he's a DE, a redshirt is guaranteed, especially given Michigan's depth (Van Bergen, Roh, Black, et al) at defensive end. In fact, I doubt he sees the field in any meaningful capacity - aside from an appearance or two on special teams - until his redshirt sophomore year, when Craig Roh ships off to the NFL. At that point, he'll shuffle into the rotation, but not challenge for a starting position until he's a redshirt junior, I think. First-Team All-Conference accolades are probably out of the question unless Michigan has discovered an extreme sleeper.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is loading up on defensive ends in this class, but as they're unlikely to run up against the scholarship limit, new players aren't taking spots away from anyone for the remainder of the class.
Michigan's coaches will continue to focus on defensive tackle, safety, quarterback, and tight end to finish out the class.
I am reminded of what Nick Saban once told me about recruiting -- ignore the experts, evaluate the kid, make your own call. Watch the tape, check out his character, does he have skills and, if so, does he work hard? Don't take kids who are lazy by nature. The hardest part about recruiting, he said, is to separate the kids who are playing close to their best football in high school, and will only get a little better, from the ones you are catching early.
There are lots of stars in every college sport who were not high-profile commits. As I always like to point out, Glen Rice was Bill Frieder's third choice at small forward -- true story. You know, the guy who broke the scoring record for a single NCAA tournament.
Signing kids such as Keith Heitzman is smart. I don't mind people taking stock of where he is now, but writing speculative predictions such as whether he will or will not ever make All-Big Ten, we start stepping off the ledge with that kind of talk. Heitzman will redshirt, and he's still getting bigger -- who knows what he'll look like in two years, much less five. Michigan history is filled with guys who transformed.
Watch the tape on this kid. He runs well and he's going to get unbelievably stronger with Wellman. You may not recognize this kid in two years because I bet he'll never miss a workout.
And I love the name: How many times have we had some kid from Ohio with a name like Heitzman playing for Ohio State and drilling us? Heitzman is the kind of guy you hate if he's on the other team, the constant motor type, but you love him on our side.
So welcome Keith Heitzman. We can use smart athletes with a big upside. And the mark of a great program is you recruit guys to come in and work for a few years, then see what you've got. That is the preferable way to operate. Freshman who play should be great, not a desperation move. So let's use Heitzman as a guy to watch. Almost no buzz when he committed, yet he was going to a good school in Vandy, which by the way actually has produced some strong SEC defenses.
I predict he's going to help us and he's not going to be a dumbass doing dumb things. I trust this staff's ability to evaluate. Let us not forget that when Hoke's Ball State team played Michigan, they nearly beat our butts. He's building this thing back to be strong for a decade, not just the next few years.
Dave, I don't share your sunny optimism on this recruit, but I like him at this stage and he seems like a good kid. AFAIC Hoke can take a few flyers on 3-star guys this year.
* Glen Rice may have been underrated and he was pretty skinny in high school, but he was definitely on the recruiting map (even back in the dark ages) with multiple high D-1 offers. He was not a diamond in the rough. Aside: His teammates included Jeff Grayer (Iowa State star who had a long NBA career) and Andre "husband of Left Eye" Rison. At least one other guy on that team wound up playing hoops at a D-1 school.
* Ball State hung with Michigan mostly because our coaching staff at the time did a lousy job of preparing / motivating / coaching the team. That game was embarrassing when the talent disparity was considered.
You are mostly correct here. Rice was heavily recruited by D-1 schools. When I went to Flint Northwestern to watch some of that teams games, you couldn't even get in the gym. Later on, I bowled on a team with Tim Nunn and Andre Risons dad, Lynnwood Peacock. That team at the time had the best two year run in Michigan High Scool Basketball, going 55-1. Several players played for D-1 schools, Rice at UM, Grayer at Iowa State, Nunn at Wisconsin Geen Bay, Anthony Pendleton at Iowa and USC, Daryl Miller and Michael Avery at Central Michigan. That was one of the best high school basketball teams of all time. Hard to believe Rice was Frieders third choice as he was Mr. Basketball in Michigan that year.
cheat, cheat, and cheat some more, and when you get caught, do the right thing, lie!
to save them from having to go to that school in Columbus. Hoke is going after guys that haven't even created a blip on the ooter most regions of the Buckeye radar. I hope he realizes he doesn't have an MWC schedule next year as these guys look like they belong on SDSU's recuit list.
Decent point but the bigger picture here is that the coaches need to get whoever they can on board. These guys are legit if somewhat mid-range FBS prospects or the kind of guys that Iowa and Wisconsin have been terrorizing college football with for years. The majority of the team is young which probably means most guys recruited this year are destined for redshirts, this combined with the shortened recruiting timeline makes me more than comfortable with them being developmental type guys. The situation's not perfect, but I'd rather the staff go with a bird in hand approach rather than trying to bank scholarships for next year. At this point if a guy wants to play football for Michigan and the coaches feel he's worth an offer I am more than happy to have him in the fold.
Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order because it is better organized.
I understand the concern, but this is a guy who recruited top-notch kids at UM for years - he knows who he needs to have in the class to win. At the same time, turning top kids to UM is going to be very difficult, and I think Hoke is trying to fill out the class with some decent kids and build for 2012. If he can nab a couple of other higher-rated kids, that would be huge, but I'll take kids from hotbeds who are interested in the program.
The kid is from Hilliard Davidson which has recently became a perennial state contender with minimal D1 players (beat Glenville in title game last year). They have consistently won with defense. With all of the talent in ohio thats pretty impressive and probably means they play with good fundamentals (which we could have used last year). I know he is not what a lot of fans are looking for but I wouldn't be surprised if he was a solid contributor as described the the projections. Since it took all of 24 hours for him to commit after receiving the offer, it sound like he is all in......
It would be unfair to judge Hoke's recruiting ability off of this class. At this point, we're trying to create future depth by filling out the class. Guys with commitments and offers from other BCS conference schools are going to be hard to get, and we don't exactly have the time to wait on them since we had eleven commits before Heitzman. Even so, guys like Willingham, McClure, and Raven are showing interest.
I'd be worried if this happened next year, but the current circumstances are difficult and, for the coaching staff, probably unprecedented.
Watching the highlight reel, this kid looks like a solid addition who can contribute in 2 years of being in the S&C program and learning in the program. He showed his motor going all the time and didn't quit on any plays. Plus I like the idea of recruiting in OSU's backyard again.
leaving his hands as the largest question. Looks like his HS team didn't throw to him much. Given the circumstances and the need for a TE, it appears Hoke et al made a nice selection as the rankings don't account for the needs of the team. Here's to Heitzman becoming a dependable contributor.