"Northwestern fans can be both heartened and disheartened by the loss to Minnesota just like how nineteenth-century resurrectionists were heartened when they pried a heart from a freshly-buried corpse and then disheartened it when they sold it to a disreputable anatomist."
"The experience he has from last year is starting to show," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "He’s making shots, and he made some gutsy plays against Portland. He’s got a confidence about him that he can get the job done."
Conference play has come, and Big Ten teams can safely retreat to their thunderdomes to clobber each other in peace, insulated from the braying mockery of the national media. There is still upheaval. Michigan has fallen apart. Dave Brandon and Brady Hoke have been confined to the Touliers Palace.
McCray II (left) is also a standout TE for Trotwood-Madison; the elder McCray (right) was a captain at OSU.
As first reported by Scout, Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray II—the son of former Ohio State captain Mike McCray—made his commitment to Michigan official this afternoon ($):
"I have committed to Michigan," McCray stated. "I've been feeling like Michigan was the right school for me for two weeks now, and there's no reason for me to wait any longer. It's the right time for me to commit, and I'm very excited to be a Wolverine. I'm being recruited by Coach (Mark) Smith and we have a great relationship. We speak at least once or twice per week."
McCray becomes the 14th commit of the class of 2013 and the first linebacker. He told Scout he's being recruited as an inside linebacker, but as you'll see, I think he ends up on the strongside.
4*, 92, #10 ATH,
Michigan brings in another player generally regarded as a four-star, as McCray lands in the early lists of every recruiting service save Scout, which has released by far the most limited rankings (though that changes this week). Rivals is especially bullish on McCray's abilities, placing him all the way up at #44 overall in the country. Both Rivals and 247 list McCray at 6'4", 230 pounds, while ESPN (6'3", 225) and Scout (6'2", 220) have him a little smaller. Considering recent articles on McCray have him listed as high as 238 pounds, I think the higher figures are likely more accurate; some suggest that he could grow into a defensive end role, though he's needed at Michigan as a stronside linebacker, where his size projects well.
McCray landed at #18, one spot behind fellow commit Taco Charlton, in the recently-released Bucknuts top 50 players in Ohio. Mark Porter thinks McCray is headed for a position switch ($):
“He would be an active defensive end and will probably grow into that position as a college player. He plays linebacker now, but I think he ends up moving down to the line at the college level.”
However, the strongside linebacker in Michigan's 4-3 under is practically a DE; Jake Ryan took snaps at both SLB and weakside DE last year depending on the situation. In this case, McCray's size and possible tweener status could be a strength.
McCray really broke out in 2011 as a junior, helping lead Trotwood-Madison to a Division II state title. Scout's Bill Greene was extremely impressed with McCray's performance last season ($):
One of the more improved juniors in Ohio this season, and a legitimate Top-10 candidate in a loaded year in-state. McCray's improvement can be traced to better side-to-side movement, and better recognition from his linebacker spot. He is super-athletic, plays with high intensity, and displays good overall football intelligence. I definitely see McCray receiving an Ohio State offer at some point, and this weekend makes sense with his teammate Bradley on campus with him.
McCray was ranked at #13 in Scout's initial Ohio top 50 ($), but unlike teammates Cam Burrows and Bam Bradley, he did not receive that Buckeye offer (as of now, at least). Rivals Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt watched McCray play twice last season, praising his instincts, pass coverage, and discipline in his first evaluation, then saying this after watching him in the state title game (both links $):
At 6-4 and 220 pounds, McCray is one of the best playmaking defenders I have seen this year. He is always around the football, always playing at 100 miles per hour and never tiring despite going both ways. McCray doubles as a tight end on offense, and there are teams interested in him for that position in college. His highest upside is definitely on defense, though, where his combination of size, athleticism and playmaking ability should ensure a long career in football. If McCray plateaus right now he's still going to be one of the top linebackers in the Midwest, and probably the country. But McCray also has room to grow in his game. He can add strength and definition to his body in the weight room this off-season, which should also improve what is already pretty good speed. If he takes another step forward with off-season preparation, McCray is going to be scary good a year from now.
After the state finals, BuckeyeGrove's Mark Givler added, "McCray simply does everything you can ask a linebacker to do; he fills gaps, makes plays in space, and does a great job in coverage." For those afraid that McCray is too big for linebacker, it certainly sounds like he has the athleticism and coverage ability to play in space, and that shows up in his film as well.
McCray chose Michigan over Tennessee and Illinois, while also holding offers from Arizona, Boston College, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisville, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Nebraska, N.C. State, Oklahoma, Purdue, South Carolina, Syracuse, Toledo, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The Oklahoma and Tennessee offers obviously stand out; despite the lack of an Ohio State offer, McCray was generating national attention when he decided to commit.
McCray had 88 tackles, two forced fumbles, and five interceptions—returning three for touchdowns—as a junior. As a tight end, he hauled in 30 receptions for 494 yards and nine touchdowns, making him the increasingly-rare true two-way player.
As a sophomore, McCray tallied 65 tackles, three forced fumbles, and three interceptions while catching 11 passes and scoring five offensive touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits McCray with a 4.61-second 40, which is quite fast for a player who could conceivably play DE at the next level. While he's lauded for his athleticism, I'll still give that four FAKEs out of five.
Short junior highlight reel:
As noted, McCray has no problem dropping into coverage and making plays.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
McCray will immediately provide depth at SLB, a position only redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan and redshirt junior Cam Gordon—he of the multiple position switches—currently occupy among scholarship players. Ryan appears to have that job locked down for the next few years, while Gordon should be competent enough to play as a backup while McCray takes a redshirt year.
That said, McCray has the size and athleticism to be an early contributor, and his coverage skills could mean Michigan is afforded the luxury of sliding Ryan down to WDE and putting McCray in at SLB in passing situations once he has a handle on the defense. Once Ryan graduates, McCray will have every opportunity to take the starting job on the strongside; we'll see if he's battling, say, E.J. Levenberry for that role when this class fills out.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has 14 commits in the class of 2013, all but two of whom garnering four-star ratings on Rivals. McCray is the first linebacker in the class to commit—Charlton plays OLB in high school, but he's coming is as a WDE—and it looks like Michigan will take three total in the class. The other two will likely come from the trio of high-caliber recruits currenly listing Michigan at or near the top of their list: WLB Ben Gedeon, WLB Dorian O'Daniel, and SLB E.J. Levenberry.
For more detail on the scholarship situation, check out Brian's recruiting section from Monday's Unverified Voracity. Major needs for the rest of the class are at running back, wide receiver, defensive tackle, and cornerback.
Very happy to land McCray. He is a great commit for Michigan and I hope this leads to some other movement on the Linebacker front. The worries of him jumping to Ohio are legit, but I believe that the Michigan coaches heard from him what they needed to hear to come together. I trust Hoke and the other coaches on this one.
That's the beauty of the situation that we are in. All our LB recruits this year have the versatility to play multiple positions in our scheme. I could see anything from Levenberry as Sam, McCray at Mike and Gedeon at Will to McCray at DE, Levenberry at Sam, Gedeon at Mike and O'Daniel at Will.
I'm not familiar with what Ohio's needs are, but not getting an offer from Meyer when his dad was a team captain seems pretty RichRod-esque to me. Could Meyer be making the same recruiting mistake that Rodriguez made by neglecting the good local kids in favor of pursuing national talent... thus alienating his own recruiting base and leaving the door open for other Big Ten teams to take advantage? We will see.
If not an offer, the kid should surely have received enough interest from Ohio to keep him engaged at this point in the recruiting cycle given the pedigree. We don't know whether McCray did or did not receive enough interest from Meyer - but it is pretty good for us if he is going after national talent and making things easier for us to pick midwest talent.
Finally at 500+ MGoPoints - Now I can actively maintain my two favorite pages - Depth Chart by Class and Unofficial Two Deep.
seems to me if you have a top 100 or even top 250 kid in your own state you offer him regardless of need or style of player, if he is good you'll find a spot for him. but piss off a pipeline and you could see a top 50 stud go to your rivals.
Isn't it possible that we didn't offer him b/c he was likely to go to MSU and we had other options available? With McCray I feel like Ohio was the definite favorite if they offered early. Not sure you can say that about UM and Reschke.
It's possible, but I highly, highly doubt it. If the coaches felt he was one of their top prospects, they would have made a strong push for him, I'm certain of that. Brady Hoke is not going to concede an instate player that he wants just because he's a Sparty lean. I read interviews over the last year saying that he'd be open to looking at both schools.
Look - sometimes teams have good players in their home state who are good players, but just not good enough to offer. The LBs OSU has offered are all very good, and if they feel they have a good shot with them, I get it. I'm glad Urban didn't offer him, but let's not say he's stupid for it.
Urban Meyer seems to be trying to recreate his late season recruiting binge of last year. He thinks those top Ohio kids will be waiting. He has his offers of to the small fast National kids. Hoke is eating his lunch while while Urban is out browsing. Oh yea and that good top national talent is looking Michigan's way as well. This seems to be working out really well for us. If only we could get him to hire GERG.
I feel really bad for the rest of the B1G. Have you seen their recruiting class. Ha ha. Some of them think it could be good once Hoke is all filled up they will finally be able to recruit some kids that are left. NSD is going to be a dog fight among the second teir schools.
Rich Rodriguez's first recruiting class (true juniors and RS sophomores) produced 4 all-conference honorees this year (Denard, Lewan, Fitz, Roh), all from outside the state of Michigan. The top-10 players in the state of Michigan from that class produced one all conference honoree (LB Chris Norman from MSU), a guy we offered a scholarship too.
Would you trade Lewan or Schofield for Blake Treadwell? Fitz for Caper or Baker? Denard for Andrew Maxwell? Jeremy Gallon for James Jackson (already transferred out of OSU) or Donald Spencer (hasn't caught a pass at MSU). Other than that MSU got 99 yards out of Dion Sims last year and 11 tackles out of Jeremy Gainer from that great haul of blue-chippers in the stat. I'll take BWC, Cam and Thomas Gordon over that any day of the week.
4-star recruits in Michigan were 1/11 (we took two of those as well) and we offered the one. RichRod recruits from outside Michigan were 4/12 at bringing in all B1G players. Another started all year on the o-line as a sophomore (Schofield), another started for a year at QB and won us a few games (Tate), another was our 2nd leading receiver last year (Gallon), and still another might be starting at DT the next two years (Washington). Sounds to me like the guy in charge knew what he was doing on the recruiting trail.
That is the makings of a pretty good defense. RichRod's problem is that he inherited a broken program on both sides of the ball, got blamed for breaking it, and got fired just as he had finished fixing it.
You mean like getting Heininger, Woolfolk, Jones, and Floyd back from season ending injuries, adding a healthy Mike Martin back into the lineup (cheap shot at MSU hobbled him the rest of 2010), adding Countess, Beyer, Morgan, Ryan, Ash, and Clark to the lineup (not to mention other freshmen), and having everyone else on the roster get another year bigger/stronger/smarter since the team only lost one guy to the NFL draft. Essentially have better talent, experience, and depth at every single position on the field except for WILL linebacker?
Yup, add an $800K defensive coordinator and that is a recipe for success.
The biggest difference from 2010 to 2011 was in coaching. The way that this defense played, with aggressiveness and technique was due to the change in coaching staff. What great defensive coordinator would have come to the situation RR was in at the end of 2010, even for 800k a year. Plus it's just as much position coaches whom RR would not have fired anyways.
You started out with a strong premise but your argument went downhill pretty fast. New mentality, new defense, renewed fundamentals=new defense. You're delusional if you think RR could have orchestrated a 100 spot jump in defensive rankings.
"Michigan Defense" is dominating everything, in every aspect of life. That's a rough definition.
In the above list of players, you have all guys who are below average to slightly above average Big Ten starters, with the exceptions of Jake Ryan and Jordan Kovacs. A few of them still have time to develop, but that's not the makings of a pretty good defense. That's the makings of an average defense. You're giving some guys too much credit by including Jones, Robinson, Furman, etc. on there. A bunch of these guys haven't done a thing.
Edit: This article is actually reassuring to me that he isn't using us to get an Ohio offer. His dad supports him being his own man and making his own decisions. Sounds like Hoke got another quality kid with a good family. What's more amazing to me is that he didn't start playing football until his Freshman year! He played baseball and basketball up until then. With our coaching staff and that kind of natural ability, I think Mike has an excellent future at any position.
I think that if Urban wants him, he will offer him later in the process after he whiffed on his "higher ranked" kids. He probably feels he can pull him in whenever he wants. I will take the guy regardless of where he is from, or who his dad is because this guy looks like a good football player. great pickup by Hoke & Co. Welcome Mike McCray!! GO BLUE!!!!
I think he won't get him. From everything I have read, this is a well-grounded kid who understands the process, and who was no doubt told by Michigan "don't commit unless you are certain you want to." That statement is meaningful in view of the Pharoah Brown situation from last year, so I would expect kids to take it seriously. Not to mention the fact that once you bond with the other recruits in your class, the likelihood of turning your back on them late in the game becomes remote. I think Urban may be misplaying his hand in apparently being so tight with the offers.
There is no equivocation in the events: Ohio doesn't think he's good enough, Michigan thinks he's top of their board. It would be very difficult to come back from that.
Meyer probably hoped McCray would wait while he pursued other guys. Then he set an announcement date. Meyer could have caved then and offered, but didn't. It's a big gamble, and they won't know if they "won" or not until they find out who they pull in.
Will that guy be that much better than McCray? First of all, you can't get much better than the #44 player in the country in terms of talent. And the guy they bring in has to be good enough to offset the Ohio in-state and legacy aspects. Given he's one of the tops on our board, Michigan wins either way. If Ohio whiffs on their primary targets and has to take a PlanB guy, it'll really be a big mistake for the pontiffinator.
I agree with most of what you're saying but one thing worries me, and that is that his teammate Cam Burrows is committed to OSU. If Mcray and Bam Bradley are both offered by OSU at some point, which seems like a decent possibility, that could be a dangerous situation for us. The allure of three high school teammates, on the same side of the ball, playing together could be tempting especially with Cam and Urban in their ears. But hey, maybe I'm just a pessimistic bastard. I love the commitment and even with all of that said feel pretty good about Mcray's dedication to his commitment. Go Blue.
Bam Bradley has signed an LOI with Pitt. Not sure what he has to do with anything.
OSU has had plenty of chances to offer McCray. It's not like he goes to some unknown program. They just didn't want him. Nothing unusual about it. Coaching staffs can have a difference of opinion or just a difference of need. I highly doubt they'll go back and offer him.
Don't think it matters where this kid plays, he has the size/speed/instinct combo that's going to make him a factor, maybe Future All- Big Ten/All American type if he's deployed to his strengths (and Mattison has shown he does exactly that)
- Sometimes you're Alan Brach and sometimes, unfortunately, you're Anthony Morelli