Beards Require No Context Or Reason
Tim did this because he's still a blogger at heart, obviously.
Consider that George Campbell's treat, accompanied by this nifty trick:
Da'Shawn And The Battle Of Academic Departments
As more details emerge from Da'Shawn Hand's official visit to Alabama, it's clear that (1) the Tide are very much in the running, and (2) Professor Needs A Raise has a Southern counterpart, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
"The engineering dean is the man!" Hand exclaimed. "He is that guy! I met with the business professor too and he was good. The academic support is amazing. They have individual tutors and that's good to help you manage your time."
In talking with TomVH, Hand revealed this his decision may in fact come down to his choice of major ($):
Hand says that if he wants to go into sports management it will be Michigan, and if he wants to go into engineering it will be Alabama. Florida offers both, so he will be spending time with professors in both fields on that trip to see if that has any impact on his decision.
The 6-foot-4, 262-pound defensive end says for right now he’s just focused on Florida, though, and will head out to Gainesville on November 9.
One of the Michigan coaches may want to alert him to this.
In other pursuits of 2014 blue-chip prospects, Oregon has become a major player for CA ATH JuJu Smith after he visited Eugene in place of a planned trip to Ole Miss; he told Rivals's Adam Gorney($) that the Ducks are "another top team to beat." Smith already had very positive official visit experiences at Notre Dame and Ohio State, has USC and UCLA under consideration, and has two officials left: Alabama (vs. LSU) and Michigan (vs. OSU). With that much competition, it's tough to peg Michigan as anything but a longshot, even with whatever edge they might get from receiving Smith's final official.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the 2014 running back situation—there seems to be a situation—plus Freddy Canteen makin' moves, evaluations of a couple M commits, and more.]
Running Back: Once Again A Priority?
After Michigan's failed attempts to get Leonard Fournette on campus and the commitment of Damien Harris in the 2015 class, it appeared the Wolverines were content to go without a running back in 2014. Earlier this week, conflicting reports emerged about whether or not Michigan had visited a previous target, Colorado speedster Kalen Ballage. Sam Webb gives us some clarity on the situation ($):
That yearning [to play running back] had seemingly removed Michigan from consideration, but a recent visit by assistant Darrell Funk proved that the Wolverines still have interest. Ballage missed his visitor due to being off on winter break, but he insists that the Maize & Blue hasn’t missed the opportunity to remain viable in his recruitment.
“I like a lot more than five schools, so I don’t know which ones I want to visit yet,” said Ballage reiterating his openness. “I want to take all of my visits.”
Ballage is waiting until after the season to make a decision, so Michigan has some time if they want to make a serious move in his recruitment.
The running back interest doesn't stop there, as Webb also reported this week that the Wolverines have started recruiting longtime Cal commit and three-star Texas native Vic Enwere, who's come on strong in his senior season after an injury-plagued junior campaign ($). Rivals's Mike Farrell, meanwhile, speculates that the Wolverines could be a player for four-star Minnesota pledge Jeff Jones, who's long been considered a soft commit likely to end up elsewhere ($).
Whether this new-found interest in adding a running back is a product of expected attrition opening up more space in the class or concern about the current backs on the roster is, at this point, a matter of pure speculation.
Yeah, Freddy Canteen's route running still looks A-OK to me.
In more extensive evaluations, 247's Clint Brewster broke down Lawrence Marshall's new senior highlight tape and was very impressed with his all-around improvement ($):
Marshall looks bigger, faster, stronger, and nastier. He shows an even quicker first step and has improved his pass rush moves and technique. Marshall looks more comfortable in his stance and has a larger repertoire of moves. He has an elite swim move to get past the offensive tackle and can close on the quarterback in a flash.
Brewster also notes that Marshall's speed allows hit to track down a lot of run plays from the back side, making him More Than Just A Pass-Rusher. Pad level is listed as an area in need of improvement because this must be so forever and always.
When not photoshopping a beard onto George Campbell's face, Tim Sullivan found some time to watch 2015 S commit Tyree Kinnel in person; though an overmatched Kettering Fairmont squad largely avoided the Michigan pledge, he still had himself a solid game ($):
Physically, Kinnel is everything that a college coach wants in a safety. He showed off his speed on kick returns and in closing on plays to be made. He's never going to be the fastest player, but he has enough speed to make an impact at either the strong or free position. He's a hair over 6-1, and every bit of his listed 190 pounds with even more room for growth. He showed off his strength in making forceful tackles (especially the disrupted screen play) without getting full leverage behind his body.
It's sometimes tough to judge players against weak competition - particularly when they only end up in the game for one half - but Kinnel passed just about every test you'd like to see. He's a young player, and has some aspects of his game that will be improved with time, but the potential is evident in his game.
Despite playing most of the game as a deep safety in a Cover 2 shell, not to mention being avoided at all costs by Fairmont, Kinnel finished with eight tackles (1 TFL), a pass breakup, and a forced fumble.
Scout's Brian Dohn did a live evaluation of 2015 OL commit Jon Runyan Jr., who displayed good athleticism and plenty of untapped potential ($):
Runyan is not close to being a finished product, but he has the genes and the work ethic to develop a lot in the next 18 months. He understands technique and positioning, but needs to add strength and get better knee bend. He has the athleticism to play guard and be effective pulling as a lead blocker, but he needs to develop more into a road grater type of players. His ability to move his feet and sit back in his base in pass protection is already an asset.
Obviously, hitting the weight room is a major priority for Runyan The Younger.
Michigan's top priority in the 2015 class on the offensive line, four-star PA OT Sterling Jenkins, has been watching film of a guy you might be familiar with, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I was watching the Lions and Cowboys on Sunday and just started pulling up some Taylor Lewan highlights," he said. "I watched what he did against Jadeveon Clowney in the Outback Bowl last year and started watching Michigan highlights to see what he was doing. To me, it's more than just him as a player, however. He is a leader. His press conference after the Akron game where he took responsibility for the team's performance was inspiring. That's the kind of leader players want to be."
Jenkins is visiting for the Ohio State game and it's clear the coaches feel pretty confident about their chances of reeling him in—they've yet to offer highly interested (and highly talented) tackle prospects like Matthew Burrell while waiting on Jenkins.
After helping Cass Tech to their first PSL title since 2010 (bizarre, I know, considering they've won the last two state titles), 2015 DL Josh Alabi updated his recruitment with Scout's Josh Newkirk ($):
“Tennessee is my No. 1. But after that, I really love Michigan. I really love Michigan State. I love Ohio State. I love Wisconsin. So like, it’s kind of a tossup.”
Alabi said he has upcoming visits to Michigan State and Michigan.
Must. Resist. Anchorman. Reference.
Newkirk also caught up with Alabi's teammate, four-star RB Mike Weber, who said that he'll be visiting Michigan for the Ohio State game ($). I'm guessing that's when Alabi will be in Ann Arbor, as well, since those two travel together for most of their visits.
Also visiting for The Game: 2015 NJ TE Jake Pickard, whose father played with Brady Hoke at Ball State, per Scout's Brian Dohn ($). Pickard camped at Michigan over the summer; he's yet to pick up any offers so far.
If you missed it, Brandon updated the 2015 quarterback picture on this here blog.