"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.
2013 OL commits Logan Tuley-Tillman (left) and David Dawson
Yesterday's Adidas Sound Mind/Sound Body camp at Southfield High School featured some of the Midwest's best talent, including five of Michigan's 2013 commits (actually, six, but Csont'e York showed up late and I didn't get a good look at him). It also provided a rare chance for players to get instructed by coaches from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and several other schools; U-M, OSU, and MSU each sent their full staff, save Mark Dantonio, who had a speaking engagement.
This was my first camp experience, so I mostly focused on the Michigan commits; at these camps, there's so much going on that it's difficult to focus on more than a handful of players. Here are my impressions of the Wolverine commits as well as a couple other standouts:
I didn't spend a ton of time watching Morris in the passing drills, mostly because I was more focused on the receivers and defensive backs, but he was excellent as usual on Wednesday. Morris threw harder than anyone else there, displayed great accuracy, and could make all of the throws. He's also improved from what I saw of him last fall in terms of knowing when to change up speeds and when to just unleash.
As you can see above, Al Borges kept a very close eye on Morris. UAB head coach Garrick McGee was running quarterback drills, but Borges made it clear that he would be the one coaching Morris. As Brian pointed out in today's UV, the running theme of the camp was coaches in disbelief that this was all legal; it was, thanks to SMSB's status as a charitable event.
Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.
In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.
Dawson is expected to end up at guard in college and after seeing him yesterday I think that's the best place for him. While his strength allows him to dominate high school competition, he isn't the longest lineman out there, which makes it harder to keep edge-rushers at bay. As you can see above, when Dawson slid inside to take a rep at guard, he dispatched his man with ease.
Tuley-Tillman didn't quite perform at Dawson's level but still showed off the potential that earned him an offer in the first place. When I talked to Logan, he told me he weighs about 315 pounds, a 15-pound drop from where he was at the Columbus NFTC last month. He's still carrying bad weight, however, and is going to have to turn a significant amount of fat into muscle before he's ready to play at the next level.
I was initially down on Tuley-Tillman when watching the one-on-ones, but after watching the tape he did better than I thought. When he gets his hands on a guy it's tough to escape and he finishes his blocks with authority. He did struggle some against the speed rush; Funk pulled LTT aside during drills to work on getting better depth in his drop when pass blocking, and there's still work to be done there. When he got his footwork right, defenders had little chance of getting past him.
Despite the technique issues, Tuley-Tillman has great feet; when he's coached up, he should have every opportunity to play tackle at the Big Ten level. He's definitely got some conditioning work to do, though it sounds like he's on the right track. Multiple experts who saw Tuley-Tillman in Columbus, where he reportedly struggled significantly, said his performance yesterday was a vast improvement.
Lewis continues to look impressive on both sides of the ball. While I thought he looked better at corner when playing for Cass Tech last fall, there may be a battle royale between the offensive and defensive coaches over where he'll play at Michigan; the offensive coaches have made it clear that they covet Lewis as a wide receiver. They'll have to fight Greg Mattison for him, however, and that may be a losing battle.
Lewis is never going to wow you from a purely physical standpoint—he's 5'11" and pretty skinny—but his athleticism is just a notch below elite. He showed off great closing speed at cornerback, though he sometimes relies too much on his ability to recover; he's not quite at his 2012 teammate Terry Richardson's level when it comes to staying in a receiver's hip pocket. His ball skills, however, are exemplary; he tracks the ball in the air extremely well and knows exactly when to go for the catch. If a quarterback threw a 50-50 ball in his direction, whether on offense or defense, he came down with it or at least broke up the pass.
At receiver, Lewis put those ball skills to good use, coming up with a couple of spectacular catches including one diving effort against 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb (much more on him below). I still like Lewis's upside more at corner, where his size plays better, but he's convinced me that he could contribute on either side of the ball at the next level.
Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way, including the pass pictured above. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body.
Given that he's being recruited for a very specific, not-always-used position—H-back—he's got a more limited ceiling than most of the commits; at around 6'2", he doesn't have the size to play much on the line. That said, if he can run routes and catch like he did yesterday, he could be a solid piece to the offensive puzzle.
DAMON WEBB (2014)
Webb turned heads a couple weeks ago when he blanketed Laquon Treadwell at the IMG 7-on-7 and he built on that with an MVP-worthy performance yesterday. Despite being a year younger, Webb has more bulk on his 5'11" frame than his teammate Jourdan Lewis, and like Lewis he's an outstanding athlete.
Also like Lewis, Webb can play either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level, though his size suggests that corner is his optimal position. He was fantastic playing corner in the one-on-one drills, staying step-for-step with Lewis—though Jourdan managed to bring in a diving catch—and 2013 Notre Dame commit James Onwualu, who was torching the less-heralded prospects. Webb faced Onwualu three times, and aside from slipping on a hitch route, he came out on top. Webb doesn't rely as much on recovery speed as Lewis, instead playing a more physical style; he's not at all afraid to come up and jam the receiver, and he flips his hips well when transitioning from his backpedal.
Allen Trieu reported this afternoon that Webb earned a Michigan offer, which comes as little surprise after he performed so well in front of the entire staff. While they're targeting him as an athlete for now, I'm guessing he'll be the next in a long line of Cass Tech corners to play at the BCS level. The Wolverines appear to be his clear leader at the moment and there's a chance his recruitment wraps up early. He'll be in Ann Arbor next week for Michigan's camp.
*"I'm hungry" guy was one of the highlights of the camp, as he repeatedly—and loudly—proclaimed his hunger after just about every rep. When Hoke spoke to the campers after the morning session, he singled the kid out for his enthusiasm, then had this exchange:
Hoke: "Did you have lunch yet?"
I'm Hungry Kid: "Yes, sir."
Hoke: "Well, I guess you're not hungry anymore."
2014 MI DE Malik McDowell wasn't listed on the roster—he wasn't alone in that regard—and only took a couple reps in the morning, so I didn't get a chance to evaluate him. I did head over to where the linemen were gathered in the afternoon, however, and I can say he certainly passes the eye test. That is one huge rising junior.
Two other 2014 kids who caught my eye were Cass Tech linebackers William White and Gary Hosey, who both stood out physically among the linebackers. White appeared to have an inch or two on Hosey, but both looked solidly built with the frame to add more bulk. I was busy watching the linemen while they were going through drills, however, so I'll have to catch them play another time.
A friend who was helping instuct the linebackers at the camp raved about Michigan State linebacker commit Jon Reschke. I thought Reschke was a no-brainer four-star when I saw him play against Farmington Hills Harrison in the playoffs last year; State got a good one there.
Urban Meyer, from the morning presser: "The problem with intercollegiate athletics is that it's almost anti-student-athlete." All the coaches talked about how great it was to be able to instruct recruits at an event outside the usual team camps. There was also discussion about finding ways for recruits to be able to take visits to campus without the cost becoming prohibitive; there definitely seems to be support for summer official visits if the NCAA decides to look in that direction.
Yes, Brady Hoke uttered the words "Ohio" and "State" in succession during an impromptu on-field Q&A session with reporters. Yes, there was a subsequent race between the Michigan beat reporters to tweet that bit of news. I believe the winner was AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgartner.
Terry Richardson, James Ross, and Oregon CB (and former Cass Tech Technician) Dior Mathis all were present. Richardson was walking around eating ribs while the Michigan coaches teased him about getting his weight up.
After watching them in a camp setting, it's very easy to see why Michigan's coaching staff has so much success both on the field and in recruiting. I kept forgetting to film the OL/DL one-on-ones because I was so intent on listening to Coach Funk give technique pointers to individual guys after their reps; I learned more about blocking technique in five minutes of standing near him than I have in the rest of my life put together. They're all great with the players, as well; you could tell the kids were hanging on every word of instruction.
Former Michigan lineman and current EMU OL coach Kurt Anderson, who was running drills with Funk: "You're protecting your family, your food, your quarterback." [via Mike Rothstein]
Pictured coaches, in order of appearance, are UAB HC Garrick McGee, OSU HC Urban Meyer, MSU DC Pat Narduzzi, EMU HC Ron English, Hoke, Mattison, EMU's Mike Hart, Syracuse's Tyrone Wheatley, and Michigan's Darrell Funk and Jeff Hecklinski.
Jayru Campbell's hair did not disappoint:
Neither did Shane Morris's afternoon attire:
That's all for now. Interviews with Morris, Dawson, and Tuley-Tillman coming later this afternoon.
2. Every time there's a guy who looks good at two positions, this type of question gets asked. There's a reason it took a player of Woodson's caliber to excel on both sides of the ball: it's absurdly difficult to do that at the college level. It's not like Woodson was close to a full-time wideout, either. Let's focus on Lewis getting college-ready at one position before we start asking about a second.
Apparently Dantonio did show up. When he got there he said "Here's what we're going to do. We're going to stop showcasing Michigan's stud 2013 class. We're going to showcase some MSU recruits instead."
You're either going to see them close it or a lot more camps like this are going to spring up. Personally, I hope it's the latter; SMSB is a great event in large part because it gives about 500 kids a chance to get instruction from BCS coaches. I'd hate to see that opportunity go away.
Except these may not pop up all over the place because it's a charitable event. It needs a group of people to create it and fund raising to support it. A big shoe company probably can't or won't just set up one of these camps. I suppose a group of boosters could do it, but I agree that may not be a bad thing. Gives a lot of kids who will never receive BCS coaching the opportunity.
Where there any OSU players there that Meyer was coaching up? I don't have a problem if he were doing so, I am just trying to figure out if Meyer will be preaching to the media about how unfair this was.
"Pat Fitzgerald is coming on shortly. He seems like a guy who knows his way around an oatbag."
No OSU commits, but they've already offered Malik McDowell and Damon Webb looks like a guy who's going to earn offers from all over. Also, Michigan coaches were the main instructors in the morning session, but in the afternoon it was the OSU coaches on the field (though not Meyer, who left early). OSU has nothing to complain about.
It just seems to me-- and believe me, this is a totally biased view-- that this class exemplifies what I think of Michigan as an institution. These guys are one part book smart, one part personality, and two parts "nose to the grindstone" types of players. Its just hard for me to imagine any of these guys ending up on a police blotter someday (BWC drunken college guy mistakes aside). The coaches, too, are a big part of that-- no non-sense, let-the-guys-in- charge-worry-about-the-media-i'll-just-coach-and-recruit-thank-you-very-much types. I guess its all about perspective: this program is at its best when football is properly placed in their lives: something you focus on because you enjoy it, but not to the point where competition overcomes any sense of decency or doing it the right way. I really hope I don't get let down, but I just haven't come across a player that Hoke has recruited where I wondered "Man, I sure hope his talent is worth the trouble".
"Pat Fitzgerald is coming on shortly. He seems like a guy who knows his way around an oatbag."
I had'nt heard of any real possibility of Lewis playing offense at the college level;
1. This makes me even more excited for him as a cornerback, knowing that he has at least comparable speed, ball awareness and jump ability to compete with the receivers he's up against
2. Even if he primarily plays defense, it seems that Lewis could find playing time for a few snaps at WR and stretch the defense with his speed....especially if we find ourselves thin at WR and we stay as strong at corner as it seems we will be
Thanks for the info Ace!!
- Sometimes you're Alan Brach and sometimes, unfortunately, you're Anthony Morelli
I know Dawson is expected to play guard, and by all accounts that's the position of best fit for him. But I just don't believe it. Lets look at the facts:
In the past 12 years, Michigan has had 5 multi-year starters play center. 4 of them were named "Dave."
The only Dave in that time to start on the Michigan O-line and not play center was Dave Petruziello, and he very well might have if it weren't for Dave Pearson and Dave Baas already occupying that position.
To me, this is all but irrefutable proof. David Dawson has been pre-ordained to be the next in the line of great Michigan centers named Dave.
Wow, Tuley-Tillman. That is about as agressive as I've seen a lineman play in one of the camp videos. That kid is gonna be a good one. He got burned a couple times but they always do, the drill heavily favors the DL.
I know obviously that it's ok now but seriously, the Michigan staff (and others) had the chance to coach their high school junior recruits. I have to imagine there will be a supplementary rule coming out sometime in the near future that will put this type of camp to an end
Rudy watches inspirational movies about Shawn Hunwick
There is no difference, but I believe programs are only allowed to have one true "camp" per year. Michigan's having their camp next week, but the SMSB camp gives them another chance to coach them up...and if Charitable Event X pops up next year at Wayne State, then they'll have another chance. So on and so forth.
you have to also note there are two types of corners; The Deions of the world and the Revis of the world. The Revis type of corners pride themselves on the ball never being thrown their way so they stay in the hip pocket, where as the Deions want the ball to come their way so they can make a play and get the O the rock or take it for 6, so they play a little off and lean on their recover speed. Your critique for Lewis though may be true, shouldn't necessarily be seen as a negative. Some guys are gifted enough to play CB the way he does. He’ll just have to learn when to play that style and when to stay in the back pocket.
The problem with that style of play is that Deion Sanders was one of the greatest athletes to ever play in the NFL, and to succeed with that style you pretty much have to be by far the best athlete on the field. Lewis is a very good athlete, but at the BCS level he can't play that way without getting burned. He's got the coverage skills to lock guys down, so I think he'll work out that issue, but it's still an issue.
Deion is one of a kind, no doubt but he is not the only CB to have played that way. Adam Jones, Champ Bailey, Chris McAllister, and a number of CBs have played a similar style. You don't have to be the very best athlete but you truly have to be gifted and have a solid D around you. Deion played with fast, blitzing defenses where split decisions by the QB are heighten. Of course you'll get burned, the best corners get burned playing corner, but the same can be said when you blitz because Its a calculated risk. You said yourself that Lewis made some unbelievable plays on D and you'll have a time or two where he'll get beat but thats football. I believe the coaches see the intangibles Lewis. Of course they'll coach him up so he understand when to take risks playing back but I really don't see the coaches tweaking his style because its obvious the coaches want playmakers, ball hawks on D