"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
The Recruiting Picture
We're about to hit actual football season, which will severely curtail recruting coverage for 3-4 months. Monday Recruitin' will still exist and commitments will get the de-facto googlestalking, but recruiting content gets short shrift when Events are Transpiring. Before we go semi-dark, a snapshot of where Michigan's efforts stand to date. Check out the Recruiting Board for a more in-depth, more outdated version.
Commitments: Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. Both are highly rated dual-threat quarterbacks and both are needed. Newsome, rumored to be shaky, has recently reaffirmed his Michigan verbal.
Prospects: Californian Tate Forcier continues to show great interest in Michigan, attending the one-day senior camp earlier this summer and scheduling two in-season visits this fall. Florida's Eugene Smith continues to list Michigan in his top five when he has a top five to list.
Situation: Unless Newsome decommits (still a slight possibility) or Tate Forcier camouflages himself as a linebacker or something, Michigan should be done here, and with an A+ pair of players. No one can complain.
Commitments: Cass Tech RB Teric Jones is a three-star from Detroit; Fitzgerald Toussaint is a shifty, fast top 250 guy from Youngstown.
Prospects: Pahokee's Vincent Smith is all but committed; he's the tiniest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, and that's saying something. The only other player Michigan seems heavily involved with is high-rated Oklahoma scatback David Oku; most have him favoring Tennessee and Florida State.
Situation: They have to be done here after the pending Smith commit. I'm not too concerned about the low-ish rankings of Jones and Smith, as Rodriguez's system prioritizes different things than the recruiting sites do. More on this later.
Prospects: Despite complaints about a never-ending flood of 5'6" guys, Michigan appears to be done at the position. There are no midget receivers left on the offer board.
Situation: Gallon was temporarily a member of the Rivals 100 until his size knocked him out; he remains highly rated by them. He's the top star and quarterback for the preseason #1 team in Florida. He's a great pickup and may have been Michigan's first choice in the slot.
Commitments: Top-100 Minnesotan Bryce McNeal committed earlier in the summer.
Prospects: It appears Michigan would like one more outside receiver. The highest-rated guy they have a shot at is Californian Shaquelle Evans, a five-star guy who was reputed to favor UCLA earlier in the year but will give Michigan an official visit. PA WR Todd Thomas has previously claimed Michigan amongst his favorites or even his outright leader, but despite some guru approval Michigan does not seem to be reciprocating the interest. Instater Dion Sims wants to play basketball but is a MAC-level recruit in that sport; in football he's a loping downfield tight end. Michigan or Michigan State for him, probably.
Situation: Ironic that one of Rodriguez's top-rated recruits to date is the outside wide receiver whose days at Michigan were supposedly over.
Commitments: Rivals 250 OT Michael Schoefield, and that's it.
Prospects: Despite a couple of recent disappointments, there are a few good prospects on the board
- Chris Freeman, the gargantuan Trotwood-Madison tackle with one game to his credit.
- Cleveland Glenville tackle Marcus Hall, though the whole "Glenville" thing means he gets the red frowny face until he commits and maybe a little while after.
- Rivals 250 OT Brennan Williams, who has Michigan in a top six of elite academic schools.
- Californian Michael Philipp, about whom little is known.
Add it up and Michigan probably pulls one of the four above, most likely Williams (the recruiting sites are in disagreement about how interested Williams is, FWIW). They might add another three-star sort.
Situation: I was seriously concerned about numbers here, especially with the instate backup plan types (Mattias, Chapman, Fantuzzi, etc) lighting out to Indiana or the MAC or wherever, until I actually looked at the Depth Chart by Class. Michigan has no seniors on the offensive line and with Schofield will have 16 kids on scholarship this fall. How many more do you need? Maybe one or two. More on this later.
Commitments: Five-star DT Will Campbell committed way back at the 2007 summer camp; Louisiana DE/DT Dequinta Jones committed in late July.
Prospects: No one looks particularly likely to end up at Michigan, but a number of defensive end prospects continue to list them: Craig Roh, Anthony LaLota, Keenan Graham, Jason Ankrah, Chris Bonds, Will Hill. Roh is the highest-profile player who seems to have sincere interest.
Situation: Michigan should be done at defensive tackle; Jones weighed in at over 300 pounds at LSU's camp and has definitively established himself as an interior linemen. With two guys graduating and Slocum crapping out, Michigan needs two solid prospects. Check.
Defensive end remains the most troubling spot on the team. Tim Jamison graduates this year and Brandon Graham could bust out to the point where he's NFL bound, which would leave just four DEs on the roster, one of whom is positional vagabond and likely noncontributor Andre Criswell. Michigan needs quality and numbers here; unfortunately it's a terrible year in the midwest for DEs.
Commitments: Fringe four-star Jordan Barnes picked Michigan over Alabama, and it looks like both of Michigan's current safety commits are more likely to end up at outside linebacker.
Prospects: Like Vincent Smith above, Pahokee linebacker Brandin Hawthorne is all but committed; he's another outside linebacker type. Five-star Maryland linebacker Jelani Jenkins swung by Michigan for an unofficial; nobody knows where he'd like to go but anyone would make room for him. DeDe Lattimore is a three-star guy from Georgia who listed Michigan favorably, but it now sounds like he's probably going to stay in the south.
Situation: With two to four commits at a spot Michigan pulled in four guys at last year, they have to be about done. They'll make room for Jenkins; everyone else can go pound sand.
Commitments: Top 50 Ohioan Justin Turner is either a big, big corner or an excellent free safety prospect; camp commit Dewayne Peace is likely to end up on the defensive side of the ball.
Prospects: Michigan is probable leader for three-star Florida corner Mywan Jackson, the suspected leader for four-star Mississippi safety Dennis Thames and the tenuous leader for five-star Arkansas corner Darius Winston. Also hovering out there is Cass Tech quarterback Thomas Gordon, who's moving to safety this fall in an effort to land a Michigan offer; he's expected to get one and is further expected to commit as soon as Rich Rodriguez says "We'd like to offer yo-"
Situation: With three guys (Harrison, Trent, Stewart) headed out, 3-4 coming in is desirable. Michigan has plenty of targets it considers top-notch and should pick up 2-3. Not concerned here.
Commitments: None yet.
Prospects: Kickers Anthony Fera and Brendan Gibbons have been told one or both will receive an offer in the near future.
Situation: They obviously lack confidence in Bryan Wright and are searching for a backup plan -- or, more realistically, a plan, period. Fera and Gibbons are two of the top guys in the country this year/
FAKE QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD
Aiiiigh, three stars aaaaiiiiigh.
Well, yeah, lot of guys filling up the class who don't exactly have glamorous rankings or offers. I'm not too put out, though, and think there are two major reasons for the undercurrent of unease in the Michigan internet:
- Last year's recruiting class was a bounteous cornucopia of four-star-plus guys, with a whopping seventeen. This is above historical norms. 2007 had seven, one a JUCO. 2006 and 2005 had eleven.
- Ohio State's monster 2009 class, which is going to be a strong contender for #1 overall.
It looks like Michigan's recruiting is going backwards after a strong start and Ohio State is going to lord it over us. There are all those stories about how Ohio State is winning most of it's recruiting battles with Michigan that ignore the fact that Ohio State has always won most of its recruiting battles with Michigan because the vast bulk of them take place in Ohio. Dantonio got the drop on Michigan and it's that time every five years when Michigan State gets to a crappy bowl game with a new coach and picks up a couple instate recruits and the Tide Is Turning(tm). Steven Threet turfed a bubble screen. We're all going to die.
Meanwhile, Michigan is pretty much on track with what they always do. They've got eight four-star-plus recruits so far with about a third of the class to go, and there's reason to believe there might be some upward mobility in some of the disregarded -- especially if their last names are "Jones":
- Mike Jones missed half his junior year with injury.
- Teric Jones was also injured and was stuck behind another D-I recruit.
- ESPN loves Isaiah Bell, who's top-100 to them.
- According to an LSU contact, DeQuinta Jones did very well at LSU's camp and did so at around 300 pounds, which should remove the tweener tag he'd been saddled with.
IMO, there's probably going to be a net +1 on the four-star guys currently committed.
Secondly: don't care that Vincent Smith or Teric Jones or Jeremy Gallon gets only three stars (Gallon's three stars to non-Rivals outlets) because they're getting rated as tiny running backs or tiny receivers who couldn't swing it in every offense across the land. Michigan doesn't run every offense, it runs a very particular sort of offense that greatly appreciates the presence of little men made of the same material superballs are.
These are all the reasons I'm not that concerned.
The reason I am, a little bit: I would like a "big, thick joker" at linebacker, maybe two, to combat the nouveau-exotic offenses at Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Ohio State. That's another question, though.
One offensive line commit aiiiiighh?
Theory: hello ex-tight ends. Michigan does seem critically short on the offensive line, but 1) there are no seniors this year, 2) they took a boatload (six) last year, and 3) there are six tight ends on the roster who may or may not like the idea of never getting any playing time and may or may not be well suited for the offensive line in Rodriguez's movement-friendly system. If someone like Steve Watson gets up to 270 or 280 he's an option; Brandon Moore is 6'6" and could fill out significantly once he's in Barwis' clutches.
It's obvious Michigan wants at another commit or two but they have been tardy to offer a number of guys, choosing to focus on only the four-star types in the area. Three-star camp types have been fleeing to MAC schools or Indiana at a rate that suggests Michigan isn't even asking them to wait so they can evaluate their seniors years film of them. They'll happily take a Schofield or a Zach Martin or an Andrew Carter, but aren't too concerned about getting run-of-the-mill guys in.
I'd expect one more in the class, hopefully Freeman or Hall (not likely) or Williams; if not it would be a snake oil job or some Omameh type who picks up a late offer after a growth spurt. Michigan will carry somewhere between 17 and 19 offensive linemen into 2009; I'm not that concerned.
Defensive end aaaaiiiigh!
The situation here is getting more and more problematic as defensive ends head elsewhere. At this point the only thing that makes sense is that Michigan intends to move recruits in the incoming class to defensive end. Strong candidates: Kevin Koger, JB Fitzgerald, and Marcus Witherspoon. I lean towards the bigger linebackers, as Michigan has five freshmen at the position (Brandon Herron redshirted) and is clearly targeting smaller safety-type linebackers as they go forward (Hill is a smallish, wiry guy -- though he played homewrecking defensive end in high school -- and all the guys they've picked up last year are little guys.)
This is concerning to some small extent. The linebacker commits: safety, safety, safety-sized WLB, 6'0 hypothetical MLB. (Jones, Bell, Hawthorne, Barnes, BTW.) The recruiting on the defensive side of the ball makes the most sense if you believe college football is going to be even more spread-dominated in the future and teams will have to put out "linebackers" that are closer to safeties and defensive ends who can run with quarterbacks. Michigan's recruiting appears to be forward-looking.
However, a number of Michigan's opponents are certainly not forward-looking. Wisconsin seems in no mood to go futzing with their bludgeoning ground game. Michigan State is embarking on a similar program. And Ohio State's default offense is ground-and-pound, though they will adapt to available talent.
Still, this spot reminds me of corner a few years back: Michigan whiffed on a bunch of guys, most prominently Justin King, and when their national-championship contender came together in 2006 there was one major achilles heel at cornerback.
Your post will make me sleep better Brian.
How did WVU stop Oklahoma? Granted the DC was Jeff Casteel, but aren't OK's OL the biggest in Football. I think "DingleBerry" did a fantastic job.
Last season, the DLine and LBs looked helpless against MSU (2nd half) and Wisc. They came up with a improbable stop when it was 3rd and 2 ( Boneheaded Dantonio - why would you run a toss ) against MSU but not so much against Wisc. So 07 didn't really mirror 06 season with respect to run stopping. Keeping Will Campbell happy will be a major factor also. He'll be a big run stuffer.
The first point is an evidence that decent D-Line and safety converters could potentially stop run heavy gargantuan OL teams like OK.
In an unrelated note, I think Justin King is a tad bit overrated. He'd have been a nice WR like Ginn. He was burnt by James Hardy notably and also by Adrian Arrington and Steve Breaston. Morgan Trent was only a few notches below Justin King. However my prediction is at the end of this year Morgan Trent will be a Top 60 pick in NFL draft.
<i>it's that time every five years when Michigan State gets to a crappy bowl game with a new coach and picks up a couple instate recruits and the Tide Is Turning(tm).</i>
well played, sir. well played
"Gallon was temporarily a member of the Rivals 100 until his size knocked him out"
Gotta hate it when these guys shrink, then fall out of the top 100.
This is definitely tangible. On-field results are going to be the most influential factor, but other Florida recruits see Jeremy Gallon, Mike Jones, Brandin Hawthorne, Vincent Smith and Mywan Jackson (jumping ahead a bit here) committing to Michigan, they'll definitely give UM a second look.
What REALLY might start the Florida ball rolling is a name I've been afraid to speak for fear of jinxing the whole damn thing since he's allegedly going to be a universal 5-star safety/OLB next year and is considered a heavy, heavy Michigan lean - Marvin Robinson.
Robinson camped at Michigan last year, when he was a sophomore, and picked up a scholarship offer. That never happens. Since then he's repeatedly named Michigan his leader and doesn't seem to be backing off even after the coaching change.
Regarding the star rating: Aside from an iffy showing at USC's camp (I believe he was injured), Robinson's starred at all the showcases he's been at. Everyone that's seen him raves about him. I believe he won defensive MVP at the NIKE training camp in April - as a sophomore. At this point in time I believe the only thing in doubt about his rating for next year is his position - he's been badass as a safety, but he's outgrowing the position. Could end up as a linebacker.
Regarding M lean: He camped at Michigan last year, and according to one of the guys over at Rivals in one of those "message board updates" that have no concrete link, he was beside himself that he wasn't able to camp again this year. He's had glowing things to say about Michigan all along, even through the coaching transition.
As for "Marcus Robinson"...you got me. Since Scout has no picture of him, no article about him, and Rivals has nothing on him at all (no results return)...does he even exist?
Watch that video. The only thing keeping Tank out of the top 250 on Rivals (and many believe top 100, there are several "recruiting experts" who think he's a top 3 player in Ohio) is grades, and he's improving on that. The moment he reports a qualifying test score, he will have offers from Illinois and Ohio State on the table.
As for Michigan interest, a quote from Tank from last month: "There's a lot of schools tops on my list, but the Michigan Wolverines are at the top, top of my list."
As for Freeman, he said he thinks of himself as an SEC type guard because the Big 10 runs all sorts of power I sets, and then goes onto say he is looking at Wisconsin and Tennessee (two non-spread teams) and also talks up Michigan a bit. All sorts of double talk and craziness that doesn't quite add up.
I'm not sold (or unsold, really, if that makes sense) on Freeman yet anyway. Rivals slapped him with a 3-star rating based on one game. He definitely has the mold of a mauling guard (6'7, 330ish), but I'm sure everyone involved wants to see how he does over the course of a season before going balls to the wall to land his commitment.
The Crime Boss will find room (if he commits to them once offered, and I am positive he will be offered), especially for an Ohio kid.
I'm confident on Tank, though. If he gets his act together, I believe he'll be Blue.
Most of it is ruthless internet rumormongering, but there's enough of it (Rivals, Scout, Bucknuts to name a few) to give it at least some merit. General feeling is that indeed, he is a longshot to qualify at this point. If he does though, it's expected that Illinois and Ohio State will immediately offer. Double edged sword (at least from a Bucknut's perspective) is that if he qualifies to get that OSU offer, he'll be Michigan's to lose.
I'm looking like hell for the link that said it would ultimately come down to an OSU/ILL battle. The internets appear to have swallowed it up for the time being, though.
Dior Mathis is a CB for Cass Tech (Campbell, Cissoko, T. Jones) who from initial reports is, at least in terms of actual football ability, similar to Cissoko. He's tiny, too (5'9, 160). Bad news is he seems completely sold on Miami. He apparently grew up a Canes fan and may commit to them in early September. CB isn't necessary a dire need (especially if Michigan can snag Winston), but it would be a shame to see ANOTHER Cass Tech player get away.
Another 2010 CB is Lo Wood from Apopka (Jeremy Gallon). 5'11, 163. Can't comment on Michigan's interest (or vice versa), but Wood is on Florida's radar, so I assume the kid can play.
I think next year's class will have a more "Michigan" taste to it, in the sense that there will naturally be more focus on instate. There's two dynamic duel-threat QBs in the state next year (Devin Gardner and Robert Bolden) who are legitimate Elite 11 and Top 100 candidates. Possible complication: Gardner is Cameron Gordon's teammate at Inkster HS, and it's always possible that Gordon's recruitment could affect Gardner; if Gordon doesn't budge on his stance of playing WR (Michigan's recruiting him as a safety) and he goes to MSU, Gardner might follow. Also, I believe OSU is targeting Gardner as well.
Fred Jackson's son Jeremy is also a 2010 recruit at WR. I've heard he's a top 250 (and possibly 100) 4-star talent, but I haven't seen any video of him, so take that FWIW. He's obviously in Michigan's sights already, he's one of the most frequent unofficial visitors to AA, and already has offers from UM, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas and Florida.
One of the bigger instate recruits next year (in terms of name and talent) is William Gholston. He's listed as a DE now, but could be a TE too. Ohio State obviously has an in with him (he's Vernon's cousin), but MSU has two of his former teammates on their team now (Burrell and Fred Smith from Detroit Southeastern). It's obviously really early, but it'll be an uphill battle for him, which is really disappointing. I can't tell you how upsetting it is in retrospect to look back and see how UM whiffed on instater Vernon Gholston and took...Eugene Germany.
Sorry, kind of veered away from your original question, heh...hope I was helpful, though.
I think we might want to stockpile defensive backs in case of catastrophe.
Yeah, and I would stick to a 4-3 and avoid coached from Syracuse.