“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
*BREAKING* 6'6", 230-Pound QuarterbackHas Strong Arm After All
Michigan quarterback commit Wilton Speight flew across the country to compete in the Elite 11 San Francisco regional camp last weekend. Despite a field featuring several of the top prospects in the country,—including #1 pro-style QB Keller Chryst and Oregon commit Morgan Mahalak—nobody at the camp earned an invite to the Elite 11 finals; Speight showed off a strong arm and high ceiling but struggled a bit with his mechanics, as you can see in the above video (he's the one with the Michigan shorts, natch). The Elite 11's resident coach, former NFL QB Trent Dilfer, gave his thoughts on Speight to 247's Barton Simmons:
One of the longest commutes to compete at the event came from Richmond, Va. native Wilton Speight. The Michigan commit was also one of the biggest prospects in attendance with regard to his physical stature and Dilfer noted that his size is both his strength and his weakness at this point.
Dilfer on Speight: “He had a nice day. He’s obviously a very physical kid, tall, strong. I think he’s got to get more organized. Everything’s just got to get more organized for him to be consistent. That’s typical for a lot of linear guys. There’s a lot of moving parts.”
Scout's crew of experts all had Speight outside the top five performers, but national analyst Greg Biggins—as well as Speight himself—still had a largely positive review of his play ($) [emphasis mine]:
The biggest quarterback in the camp was easily Richmond (Va.) Collegiate School’s Wilton Speight. The Michigan commit looks all of 6-6, 230 pounds and he had a solid camp. He was able to make all the throws showing off a strong arm and actually looked better than expected when he had to throw on the run.
Speight is a pure drop back quarterback who throws a tight ball and can get the ball down the field. He threw some of the best deep balls in the camp and makes it look easy and effortless.
“I was happy with my performance, I wasn’t overly thrilled with all my throws but overall, I thought I had a good day,” Speight said. “There’s always a couple of throws you want back but the beauty of this is there’s still 13 spots left for the final Elite 11. No one got the invite today so you just have to stay patient and let the process play itself out.”
As Speight said above, he'll still have a chance to earn his way into the finals later this spring; he won't be the only one from the SF regional with something to prove, as five-star Chryst reportedly (and by his own admission) struggled mightily.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest visit plans of five-star DT Andrew Brown, Michigan commits in the updated Rivals100 and Top247, and more.]
Come On Down, Andrew Brown
Da'Shawn Hand isn't the only elite Virginian defensive lineman hotly pursued by Michigan in the 2014 class; five-star DT Andrew Brown has mentioned the Wolverines as a program he wants to look into, and according to Rivals' Brad Franklin he'll do just that this summer ($):
After saying last month at the Rivals Camp Series stop in Richmond that he was started to grow somewhat tired by the process, Brown explained that rather than make a decision within the next month or so, he'll instead take two trips north and three south. After that point, he says he feels he'll have all the information he needs to settle on his five official visit sites.
So which five schools will be hosting the nation's top defensive tackle?
"This is what I want to do right here," Brown explained. "Over the summer, I'm going to go up north and then I'm going to go down south to see Ohio State and Michigan and then Florida, Florida State, and Alabama. Then I can pretty much determine my top five. The top five is going to pretty much determine the official visits that I want to take."
Along with the five schools listed above, Brown has serious interest in several ACC schools: Virginia (his presumed favorite), Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Clemson. Brown also talked about pushing his decision back to late September or early October—giving him a chance to take those official visits—and a couple schools that tried to get in on his recruitment a little too late:
He also added that while he hasn't seen FSU lately, coaches from Wisconsin and Michigan State stopped by. He doesn't take any of that too seriously, though. As much as he appreciates those visits, it's clear they won't have a dramatic impact on him.
I couldn't resist.
Defensive Back Recruiting, Non-Peppers Edition
Four-star IL CB Parrker Westphal is expected to end up at Michigan sooner or later; as well all know, though, the recruiting process features more than its fair share of twists and turns. The entry of Stanford into Wesphal's recruitment is of some concern considering his desire to go to a strong academic school (Northwestern and Vanderbilt are both under serious consideration, as well), though their strict visit/offer policy could be a non-starter, as could Westphal's previously-stated desire to enroll early:
Stanford has visited several times, per Westphal’s account, but a catch-22 looms.
“I honestly have no clue,” he said of the latest on Stanford’s recruitment. “They visited three times within two weeks, but then a few questions popped up. They don’t accept early grads, but it wasn’t set in stone [that I graduate early]. Then they want me to come out to camp and get an offer. So far, I have no clue. So they say they’re interested, but then ask the tough questions.”
Thus, we’ve reached the paradox. Per Westphal, Stanford doesn’t want to offer until they see him on campus, in part to confirm his interest and in part to ensure he is a good fit on the gridiron. Yet Westphal doesn’t want to visit a school that has yet to offer, and further, is upset by Stanford’s extra scrutiny given that 20 other schools have proffered.
It sounds like there's a lot to work out before Stanford becomes a serious contender; if they offered, however, there could be real mutual interest—Michigan and Stanford are the two schools that best fit Westphal's desired combination of strong academics and competitive football.
Four-star DC CB Jalen Tabor released his final eight schools on Twitter over the weekend:
Final 8 UMD, Vandy , Florida , Alabama , UT , FSU , Michigan , Ohio State ! #Blessed to have this opportunity ! I Thank God For everything
247's experts are split between predicting Florida and Florida State for Tabor, who's also unofficially visited Alabama, Maryland, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Michigan is fighting an uphill battle, especially with Tabor's eyes looking South, per Scout's Brian Dohn ($):
His list has four SEC schools, one ACC school and three Big Ten schools (Maryland moves to the Big Ten in 2014).
“Conference does matter a little bit,” he told Klein. “I want to play in the SEC. If you look at the NFL draft the last five first-round cornerbacks were all SEC players. It makes a difference, but it isn’t going to make the decision.”
If the Wolverines can land Jabrill Peppers and Westphal, it's doubtful they'd have the need (or space) for another cornerback; I'd be pretty surprised to see Tabor end up in the class.
Both 247 and Rivals revised their top lists in the last 24 hours, and of course those lists contain several Michigan commits and targets. In Rivals' case, they've only released the new Rivals100, which contains one Wolverine pledge: Drake Harris, who moved down one spot from #56 to #57. Da'Shawn Hand and Jabrill Peppers maintained their 1-2 standing on Rivals, while Malik McDowell held firm at #23.
Here's the full breakdown on commit movement in the new Top247:
Drake Harris stayed at #37
Bryan Mone moved up two spots to #49
Mason Cole moved down one spot to #106
Michael Ferns moved down four spots to #179
Lawrence Marshall moved down ten spots to #217
Juwann Bushell-Beatty moved down seven spots to #222
We're still at the stage when elite recruits are getting discovered at camps and recruiting services are reconciling a prospect's offer sheet with their rankings (see: Joe Mixon moving up 40 spots), so it's no surprise to see the commits towards the lower end of the list move down a few spots. 247 likes Mone more than any other service right now, but I think that might change as we move forward; his film is really impressive for a guy his size.
...to four-star TN OL Alex Bars, younger brother of Wolverine OL Blake Bars, who chose Notre Dame over Michigan and Tennessee (among others) last weekend. Bars was Michigan's top target to fill the third (and likely final) offensive line spot in the 2014 class, or at least the one considered most likely to commit. The top remaining targets with offers are IL OL Jamarco Jones and MO OL Roderick Johnson, though Jones is considered an Ohio State lean and Johnson appears to be headed South. We'll see if Michigan starts putting out more O-line offers or if they're comfortable waiting on elite prospects and potentially standing pat at two linemen.
Jabrill Peppers' new music video is legit:
Keys to rap video legitimacy: lyrical talent, not filming in a shed.
2015 grayshirt offer and Danish exchange student Hjalte Froholdt was Michigan's lone campus visitor last weekend; per 247's Clint Brewster($), Froholdt "really like[s]" the Michigan staff and wants to visit all the schools that have offered him, which now includes Ohio State and Michigan State, among others.
Per Sam Webb($), 2015 TX RB Sotonye "So So" Jamabo is learning plenty about Michigan from his personal trainer, former Wolverine running back David Underwood.
David Underwood has been making a concerted effort to try to get Michigan more involved in the state of Texas. This is good because 2015 is loaded as usual. Three of the four linebackers Michigan has offered in that cycle are from Texas, including Anthony Wheeler out of Skyline in Dallas this afternoon.
"It would be a travesty, it would be ridiculous to all of a sudden come back and get the feeling back, get the health back, feel good again and then all of a sudden go throw some other colors on my shirt and go coach."
I enjoyed Peppers's video. I, who know little about rap, think he's a little old school. At least, the stuff he is doing isn't what's on Billboard today. That's nice. It's refreshing to hear some depth. He has the talent (and life experience) to do great things in the music industry. Football?
Well, at least this should quiet some of the "I really think Speight will start over Shane Morris his first year" talk that's been bandied about. Obvs they're both capable of starting and they'll compete, but we had a much larger sample of high performance from Morris (which is also obvs given his senior camp year had passed). The Wilton hype train had picked up a bit too much speed recently.
comment I saw quite a bit, "Speight will start over Morris." And not even on this board, but others I follow in my unhealthy obsession of all things M.
Certainly not rooting against him. But Morris had the hype, attended a myriad of camps, generally performed very well (though inconsistent at times), handled the pressure, and came through a solid 4/5*. Then we picked up Speight, who most hadn't heard of until he committed, and based on a single 3 minute junior film we have people bumping Morris aside. It reminded me a little bit of those who said Bellomy would start over Gardner, in that it was based on very little (not saying talent-wise that Gardner:Bellomy is the same as Morris:Speight... my point is conclusion with lack of sample size).
I think the kid looks great on film, his leadership is outstanding on the recruiting trail, and I don't know enough to do anything other than listen to others and assume he'll be very good. But putting him ahead of Morris, a kid who proved a lot under an intense microscope, just seemed to be putting a little too much steam behind Speight. Symbolic of the hype that had been building around him.
There is no guarentee that either one of them starts after Devin graduates. Heck there is no guarentee Speight even goes to Michigan until he signs that LOI. There have been few QB hypetrains as large as Shane Morris's , with only Drew Hensons coming close.
I just want to make a few points.
Morris didn't get an elite 11 invite his first attempt either.
Morris struggling was probably the best thing for him at the time. It made our expectations more realistic. If he had turned out in the Under Armor game, folks would be screaming for morris the first sign of Devin struggling
Elite 11 has a pretty consistent track record of being less than 50% right. It's a great marketing machine Dilfer has put together, and proof that average NFL QBs can take advantage of getting their face on TV as analysts.
I, however, care only about one thing: how good will the kid be in college? While Speight's motion might not look as pretty as some other guys', the college game has a long history of producing highly-effective QBs who don't look like pros when they arrive on campus (or ever in many cases). Just to name a few:
Dilfer is penny-wise and pound foolish, often basing his rankings on silly NFL-level criticisms while ignoring a player's effectiveness.
Peppers is one of those people who is good at everything. Crazy athlete, good rapper...he's the kind of person you have to take seriously when he says he wants to win the Heismann as a true freshman.
I think Andrew Brown is a longshot, and then I remember that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison will be on campus when he arrives, and I believe we are in the mix. Not so much with Tabor, and that's fine b/c Westphal and Peppers will wrap-up our CBs.
If we get Peppers, McDowell, and one more in the top 100 to go with our current class, we'll be in very, very good shape for this class. If we get Hand and/or Brown, we are looking at yet another class that has to be considered among our best ever.
11 National Championships. 42 B1G Championships. Winningest program in college football. HAIL TO THE VICTORS
have one thing in common: they're not pro-style QBs. The Elite 11 is probably a pretty terrible judge of dual-threat QBs, but Speight's a pure pro-style guy, and there's no particular reason to think Dilfer's evaluation is way off, especially when it's backed up by most of the rankings. Honestly, a lot of the complaints about Dilfer seem to boil down to nothing more than the fact that he didn't love a guy committed to Michigan (even though he didn't overly bash him either).
There is no time, sir, at which ties do not matter.
Then why do they bring the dual threat guys to the Elite 11? And why is their success rate at picking the best 11 so mediocre?
No, I didn't like Dilfer long before the Shane Morris thing. And actually, having watched Shane, I think a lot of Dilfer's criticisms were accurate. But he just seems like a blowhard with a very inconsistent track record who looks at a lot of the wrong things when assessing college QBs.
11 National Championships. 42 B1G Championships. Winningest program in college football. HAIL TO THE VICTORS
I agree with your Elite 11 criticism, but the examples you use aren't great in that this purports itself as a primarily passing competition, and the guys you mentioned gained either much or most of their success as runners. Those guys could all run the football very well, and that's tough to measure at a passing clinic.
Well, I think it's the fact that organic food (which is all food, yes you're right) is not grown with and fertilized with nasty, synthetic products, versus carbon based natural/organic methods and "products".
Great to hear the Wilton has a strong arm, since that was one concern some people had when he committed. While he needs to improve his footwork and over mechanics, he's got a few years to accomplish it. I will be curious to see how quickly he progresses with all the training he is getting.
BONUS BONUS: Speaking of good defensive back recruits, IL CB Parrker Westphal could be approaching a commitment, per TomVH ($):
After his visit to Arizona State [this weekend] Westphal says he might take a trip to Tennessee, but nothing is set in stone. From there he will only focus on those schools on his list and continue to visit and evaluate what those programs have to offer. Westphal still says he is in no hurry to make a decision, but would like to get it done sooner than later.
“I want to make it before the season,” he said. “Games don’t start until August, but practice is in a few weeks so we’ll see when it happens.”
Michigan is "still the school he uses to compare other visits," and Westphal noted that his recent Florida visit went well... with the caveat that Michigan offers better academics. If he sticks to a summer decision timeline, it's hard to see him ending up elsewhere.
Is it just me or are we all super undervaluing Mone as a commit? A true stud, top 50 guy who's had by far the least discussion of all the commits, even less than Brady "Can someone explain greyshirting again?" Pallante.
I guess some of it might stem from having Pipkins come in recently, and all the other excitement on the D-line for this year's class. I know we have a shot at Hand and Mcdowell, but all I ever read about is OMG Marshall-Hand-Mcdowell Trio of Death. Not enough Mone love IMHO.
I totally agree with you, but I think it's because he committed early and without drama. Dymonte Thomas was probably our best recruit in last year's class and he got very little hype as the season went on. Bad he committed a year later, it would have been totally different.
DTs also don't have the other hype factors like "check out his latest 100m time" or "check out his Elite 11 video" and he hasn't been all over twitter recruiting other guys. So there's not a lot of new things to say about Mone other than "yep, he's still really good."
I fully agree that Dymonte (as well as a guy like Deveon Smith) got overlooked because they just committed to Michigan and that's it. I think if Dymonte had picked Michigan over Ohio State and ND in a hat picking ceremony, we'd all be tripping over ourselves. I mean, the dude basically gave Courtney Avery the boot at nickelback as soon as he walked on campus. He's gonna be great, but lacks the suspense and hype of say, Derrick Green, who we stalked for months trying to figure out where he was going.
Grey-shirting a recruit means that the recruit wouldn't have a scholarship for the first year( so he doesn't impact the scholarship count). The recruit would get a full scholarship the next year however.
Not gonna let Mrs. Keypunch watch Jabrill Peppers' video
That's baby makin music right there, and we don't need any more.
"But a true champion, face to face with his darkest hour, will do whatever it takes to rise above. A man fights, and fights, and then fights some more. Because surrender is death, and death is for pussies." - Kenny Powers
True. But based on interviews with recruits, the staff basically tells certain kids they have an offer waiting when they visit. I think it's different here because they haven't really assured Parrker of an offer if he visits. Also having fewer basketball recruits vs. football probably has something to do with it.
Except for the other thing. That hurts the most. But the lack of respect hurts the second most.
fascinating to me that all these good academic schools are using that pretty well these days to get football players. There will always be the Ohio's of the world, but the schools that can see a good education too seem to be doing pretty well for themselves (Michigan, Northwestern, Stanford, Vandy, UVA, etc.)
I think players and their families are wising up a bit about the importance of academics and the chances of making it into the league. Plus with increased revenue from shared networks and such, more academic oriented schools can start to put more into their facilities.
Interesting hearing a quasi-irrelevant program's fanbase throw around speculation that it isn't Pat Fitzgerald doing something right on the grid iron coupled with great academics pulling kids to NW, but that he's the young purple wearing version of Saban that hasn't gotten around to an SEC program yet.
On a side note... if this whole Brown, McDowell, Hand thing pans out awesomely I would love to see Marshall move to SAM (or at least get split reps between SAM and WDE during his redshirt year).
If I was a betting man I'd say that Wilton is going to blow up (recruiting wise) during the summer and fall. His film looks too good for him to be a three star.
I also would download J Reall's EP if he commits to Michigan... Can he become a published music artist if he's an NCAA athlete (if the answer is no the NCAA is beyond redemption)?