this may be of some local interest
M Among Finalists For Justin Smith
Four-star 2017 IL wing Justin Smith announced his final seven schools on Monday, and despite being the only school not to put forth an offer yet, Michigan made the cut along with Illinois, Indiana, Stanford, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Xavier. Smith was at Michigan's team camp in June and the coaches followed him closely throughout the recent evaluation period; he's expected to be back on campus August 14th, when he could very well land an offer.
In a thread on the Scout board, Brian Snow mentioned that Villanova, Stanford, Michigan, and Indiana are likely ahead of the other three schools, and official visits—Smith plans to use them—will play a huge role. Smith looks like he'd be a great fit at Michigan; he's long, athletic, and boasts impressive court vision for a point guard, let alone a 6'7" wing.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
News bullets and other items:
- No one is expected to miss the entirety of fall camp
- Harbaugh noted that Chesson can be cleared by doctors and still not “cleared,” as there’s a process every player has to go through in going from being medically cleared to being 100% ready for all football action
- Harbaugh will keep an open mind when it comes to one-off alternate uniforms
- Jay Harbaugh came to his dad with the idea of switching not only to Nike but to Jordan
- Harbaugh called Michael Jordan one of humanity’s most evolved human beings of all time
- Biff Poggi hasn’t signed a contract yet but he’s slated to be either the assistant to the head coach or the assistant head coach and his responsibilities will include “all aspects of being the assistant head coach” so, uh, we’ll see.
So Dana [Jacobson] joked about putting the Jordan logo on the khakis, but--
“Why not? Why not?”
Will you get official pants with the Jordan logo on them?
“That would be wonderful. That’d be wonderful. That would be actually taking it up another notch.”
What do you make of this day for your players, to see the excitement on their faces? How big is it for them?
“You know, it’s big. It’s big. We’ve got a thing where we like to say ‘Who’s got it better than us?’ and the answer to that is ‘Nobody.’ Uh, expect possibly future us. It’s also an affirmation that, you know, we tell them, Jordan, the Jordan Brand, ‘Who could have it better than to have you?’ And then them wanting to have us, they’re telling us that they believe in us as well. It’s a very mutual thing.
“And you see it. You just walk by the aisles here. You see the product that they have and what else do you say? You just know it when you see it. It’s great.”
Jim, when and how did the conversation go down or the idea for you guys to reach out to them and the conversation between you and Michael?
“Second day on the job I said I really want to be Nike. About a month or two after that my son, Jay, younger guy, you know, 26, 27 years old said ‘Hey Dad, I think he we should be Jordan.’ ‘Hey, great idea.’ It all went into motion and ended [when] Michael Jordan called me on the telephone and said that they wanted us to be the first and only football school, program, in the world to be Jordan. I said, ‘You had me at “Hello.”’ We’ve been working for this for a very long time.
“The other thing he said that I thought was profound was that- he told me, you know what Nike means to Oregon, you know what Oregon means to Nike. Michigan will mean that to Jordan. And that, I thought, was very powerful. I thought that was very profound. But he had me at ‘hello’ in that conversation.”
You have a big imagination, but when that conversation happened did you imagine all this buildup and all this lead-up to the thing the other night, today, all this stuff?
“No, I did not. But when you put people that are great at what they do then they just blow you away. They knock your socks, they hit it out of the park starting Sunday night: State Street closed off, M-Den has midnight madness for the opening of Jordan and there’s 4,000 people in the streets with the excitement of a national championship, Big Ten championship, some kind of championship-type of celebration. That was the first thing that struck me: this is really motivating; I want to have one of these to celebrate a championship as well.
“The enthusiasm of the people was next. Everybody that cared about Michigan was showing that enthusiasm at the highest level.
“The next thing that struck me was when I went inside the M-Den and saw the product and the way it was being displayed. I mean, this is first class all the way with a big exclamation point on it (!).
“And today’s another one of those type of days where you walk in and your socks are just knocked off. And you know it when you see it. This is great. Everybody knows something’s great when you see it, so that’s been my impressions.”
Charles [Woodson] said something the lines of ‘We’ve got our swagger back.’ What does it matter what a player wears on the field in your opinion?
“I agree with everything Charles says except for that one. The greatest share is your effort and your talent and the work that you put in. But, as I said at the beginning, as Jack Harbaugh said, you are with whom you associate, and to take that a step further let’s associate ourselves with the most evolved human beings in the world if we are with whom we associate and also the highest level companies, brands, products.
“So, that just goes along with our principles that we have, to be associated with greatness. And to think about having Michael Jordan sharing a sideline with us, to think about being the only team--football team--and that’s the University of Michigan that’s Jordan, to have that iconic logo sharing a uniform, we’re very, very proud of that. You asked me the question and I’m proud. We’re proud.”
Nike likes to do special uniforms. Is there any wiggle room for you in this with this association to do something different?
“Well, we’ll definitely keep an open mind on it. You know, as I said, they hit it out of the park here and everything that they have done up to this point has been hitting it out of the park and knocking our socks off, so definitely going to keep an open mind to what their thoughts are and what their ideas are without question. Haven’t decided anything. Not going to change the uniform design at this time, but I stand open to their ideas because, you know, some people just think of things better than what other people do. And they obviously do a tremendous job, so we’ll definitely keep an open mind.”
I mean for a one-off.
“We’ll keep an open mind. Sure, I’ll keep an open mind. Be dumb not to.”
[After THE JUMP: all the world’s a team]
Mikey likes it. Sound the greatest horn in the deepest valley and bring all the counts, earls, and dukes to the castle. I have no complaints about a uniform thing. Yea, it is true. I was worried about the matte helmets, but in sunlight they look great:
Still Iconic. pic.twitter.com/SMTquow5vq
— Michigan Equipment (@HailEquipment) August 2, 2016
There's matte like Michigan wore in the no-numbers bowl and there's that. Still some sheen, but not shiny. Dark dark blue. Maize. It looks like the most Michigan version of Michigan. It looks precise and focused and traditional.
It's mildly fussed the Uni Watch guy because he doesn't have things to say...
Nike's characteristic hype notwithstanding, there's nothing to get particularly excited about here, because so little has changed, but there's nothing to complain about either. Carry on.
...and it's caused an ESPN headline that's precisely wrong:
— Kurt Svoboda (@ksvoboda) August 3, 2016
The only thing about these jerseys is nuance, and they aced every one. The logos are tastefully small and distributed symmetrically. The colors are right, the road whites are still so crisp, and the one weird thing has deep Michigan roots*. It feels like Michigan told Nike to do stuff and Nike killing it. This is in marked contrast to how these things go much of the time: wear this ridiculous looking thing that various other schools are also wearing.
*[The diversity angle is a major stretch. Having Gerald Ford's 4 is still cool.]
Senioritis prohibited. Michigan's Jordan-littered offer letters were all over the internet yesterday. An example:
— S A U C Y ™ (@_OverCees) August 2, 2016
Nick Baumgardner highlights a slightly unusual bit that I'm pretty sure is new this year:
The final bullet point reads: "We expect you to continue to strive for excellence as a student and as an athlete: this scholarship should serve as motivation towards continued growth, not an excuse to become complacent."
Pre-Swenson incident offer letters warned kids to keep their grades up and away from the local constabulary, as had offers dating back to the Rodriguez era. Specifically noting that offers are contingent on continued progress is a Harbaugh thing, and means we can expect more decommit kerfuffles going forward.
Both sides are boggling now. Anonymous coach takes on ACC teams have something to say about Don Brown:
“BC’s defense last year was the biggest pain for us to prepare for because they did so many things, especially on third down. The fronts they lined up in, the pressures they came with were unique, and they had some big, physical players. They were legit.”
“[New BC DC Jim] Reid played a base defense when he was at Virginia, and on third down you get maybe one or two different pressures, so it’s like one end of the spectrum to the other. It’ll be interesting to see what they do.”
Michigan is in the opposite situation. DJ Durkin was a Reid type of guy content to run fairly simple defenses. Michigan did have a big stunt package; blitzes were not particularly common and usually just a five man pressure.
Is this Ryan Glasgow's nickname? This is an amazing nickname for an older brother to bestow on his younger sibling:
Ayyy young toothless https://t.co/Tuxy1Djlnk
— Graham Glasgow (@gglasgow61) August 2, 2016
Always wanted a guy named Biff around. Biff Poggi, father of Henry, has at various times been headed to Ann Arbor or another high school head coaching gig after his odd and unceremonious dismissal from Gilman. He is officially a Wolverine:
"When you've been doing something for 30 years, I just went back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and I learned that habits are a hard thing to break," Poggi said. "I love coaching high school kids, but this was such an opportunity."
Poggi's youngest son Henry is a Wolverines fullback with two years of eligibility remaining and his daughter Mellie is also at Michigan.
"I felt like if I was ever going to do it, this is like the sun, the moon and the stars have lined up and I really am very comfortable with Jim and the coaching staff," Poggi said.
Poggi's job will be to advise Harbaugh on strategy and organizational structure. His position does not count as a coaching position and he won't be coaching the players, coaching the team or recruiting, according to the Michigan job description.
It's another analyst role. It sounds like it's a short term thing until Poggi gets the itch to return to high school, where he appears to have a job waiting for him at St. Francis. I wouldn't be surprised if Poggi spent a couple years with his son and then went back.
One interesting side note is that Poggi has some recruiting hoops to jump through because of his generosity and persnickety NCAA rules:
Another issue for Poggi was that he played a large part in funding the St. Frances program from the beginning and that he also paid tuition for a number of young men at Gilman and at other schools. As a coach in the NCAA, he could no longer pay for those things.
"I had to hire a lot of lawyers and go through the complete compliance check to where I have to follow and obey exactly the rules," he said. "For example, I just can't go watch a high school football game which I've done for 30 years. I can't call a kid on the phone. I know all these kids, the Gilman kids and other kids, too. I just can't go, 'Hey, how you doing?' I can't text them. I have to be careful how I reply to a text from them. My life is completely different than how I lived it over the last 30 years."
Good news is that Poggi can slide into their DMs without consequence and retweet them until the sun grows cold and dim, because NCAA communication regulations are all over the place.
PFF previews Michigan. They've kind of done this several times over the offseason already and every time they publish a thing we grab it here and prize it apart for any insight into their database, so there's not a ton that will be new to readers of this space. Their main concern is at QB:
QB is the biggest question on the entire roster, as 2015 starter Jake Rudock is also now with the Lions. John O’Korn (who transferred from Houston after being benched in 2014 by the new regime looking for a more athletic option) and Wilton Speight (64 snaps last season) will compete for the starting position throughout this month and while the winner will be afforded some margin of error with what appears to be a relatively easy schedule early, if the Wolverines expect to win big road games at Michigan State, Iowa and Ohio State, they will need quality play from the new signal caller.
There's no disputing that. Harbaugh's track record helps in this regard; it's nice to have one of the biggest questions you can have seem like no big deal because of the head coach.
Elsewhere some confirmation that the linebackers were eh a year ago...
While the LB corps was turned over completely due to graduation, none of last year’s crew graded overwhelmingly positively and this year’s version of course has the benefit of playing behind likely the best defensive line in the country.
...and the usual praise for Peppers, Lewis, Wormley, Hurst, Glasgow, and company. The chaser: "while many schools may have just one true superstar, Michigan has at least six on the defensive side alone."
Meanwhile in the league. Rashan Gary and Taco Charlton are gonna eat:
Can someone in the tackle class pass block?
With Ohio State’s Taylor Decker moving on to the NFL and Michigan’s Mason Cole kicking inside to center this year, no returning offensive tackle in the [Big Ten] had a positive pass blocking grade in 2015. In fact, Nebraska’s Nick Gates is the only tackle to grade positively on run blocks last year. Offensive line is the unit we typically see the most variance and improvement in from year to year, but with the entire conference literally having nothing but subpar or first-year starters, this could be another rough year against the uber-talented EDGE players littered throughout the Big Ten.
Cole had a positive pass pro grade; Magnuson did not; the rest of the league is going to curl up and die when presented with Michigan's DL (and Jabrill Peppers).
Etc.: Butt, Peppers, and Lewis make SI's preseason All-America team.
First things first: I think I finally get the Nike hype:
Correct, oh merchants of swoosh.
If you got your copy of HTTV this year (if you didn't it's probably too late for a hard copy since we are a few copies away from selling out), you probably already read Ian Boyd's article on John O'Korn, which included several Harbaugh staples that really use the specific talents of Michigan's offensive skill position players.
One of the mainstays of Harbaughffense in every stop before now was this: Y Banana. Gruden's QB camp episode with Andrew Luck spent a good chunk of time on this play (start at 8:38 here and then watch part ii), and if you watched Michigan under Carr you'll recognize the hell out of it too. So if you watched Michigan last year knowing these things, Y Banana might have seemed noticeably absent.
I already covered one play that is basically banana, which I called Levels TE drag.
The only real difference here is instead of an X receiver on the "strong" (field/Butt's) side, Harbaugh put AJ Williams on the playside and had him run the TE's level, making Butt the backside read.
I still would like to get into this again however because the above was a reaction to the 2015 personnel, while the base thing may be a perfect fit for Michigan's 2016 guys, provided they can run.
[Hit the Jump for John Gruden yelling at Andrew Luck to throw it to the fullback]
via Michigan's new apparel site, which also has many detail shots
Michigan officially unveiled their new Jordan brand football uniforms in a totally understated setting this afternoon, and for the most part little has changed except the logo. This is good, especially if you're a fan of the all-white road uniforms. I count myself among that number, and so does Jim Harbaugh:
Harbaugh says the white pants on the road will be a permanent thing. He's a fan of that.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 2, 2016
Nike did make a few minor alterations. The number font is new, which you can see in both the '4' on the home uniform and the '2' on the road. The road uniforms
now feature two sleeve stripes (late 80s/mid 90s style) instead of the three they wore last year [edit: my mistake, it's still three stripes—the bottom one was hard to see] and the sleeve numbers have moved from the side to the top of the shoulder. The rest is the same, and mercifully clean, too—I was worried the Jumpman logo would be too large, and that's not at all the case.
There is one major change, and it's to the most legendary aspect of the uniform:
Those are matte helmets. Michigan spokesman says the plan is to wear those this season. That's new. pic.twitter.com/5taVBAjmWs
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 2, 2016
I'm ambivalent about the paint style of the helmet, but I might be in the minority there.
I'll hold off on diving into color analysis—at first glance, both the maize and blue look a little darker than past years—until we get some photos in normal lighting.
10. No warmup pitches for relievers.
What did you just spend 15 minutes doing in the bullpen? Why are you wasting our time like this? I have things to look at that aren't you! Ever heard of a book, buddy? Yeah, probably not.
9. Every time a pitcher throws to first he has to put on another hat.
If the hats fall off before the end of the inning that counts as one ball per hat that falls off.
8. Balks are cool.
7. I don't have any other ideas.
Baseball! It's good if you want to drink beer outside with something else going on vaguely in your perception. The exact structure of the game is beside the point.
6. Wait, wait, now I do.
Remember Basewars? Yeah, do that.
I prefer robots but if we can get this on the road with people I'm down. You want me out? Put me out. I do not recognize the authority of this "ball" you have tagged me with.
5. This is a bad post.
You can think that. It's okay.
We are drafting Big Ten teams because "Top 100 players in the Big Ten" content wouldn't make us hate each other nearly as much.
Previously on Draftageddon:
Rounds 1-2: A Heisman candidate QB and the reigning Thorpe winner go after two members of Michigan's secondary. (M players: Peppers, Lewis, Butt)
Rounds 3-4: An underwhelming first swing through receivers, and lots of linemen. (Chesson, Cole, Wormley, Glasgow)
Rounds 5-6: A Michigan second-teamer goes before Purdue J.J. Watt. (Charlton, Hurst)
Rounds 7-8: Hodor. (Taco, Hurst)
Rounds 9-11: We go on a mini Iowa binge, and Brian takes a true freshman (YTTF).
Rounds 12-14: A grueling three-rounder with safeties, RBs, and MSU legacies flexing. (O'Korn, Braden).
How things stand:
We ran three rounds again last time, which was probably too much. Just trying to get these all out before the season; would you rather very long Draftageddons or multiple Draftageddons per week?
ACE: Round 15, Pick 1: Brandon Bell, linebacker, Penn State
OFFENSE: QB CJ Beathard (IA), RB Saquon Barkley (PSU), WR Jehu Chesson (M), SLOT Curtis Samuel (OSU), TE George Kittle (IA), OT Nick Gates (NE), OG Jacob Bailey (IU), WEAPON Jabrill Peppers (M)
DEFENSE: NT Ryan Glasgow (M), DT Jake Replogle (PU), DE Sam Hubbard (OSU), MLB Josey Jewell (IA), OLB Brandon Bell (PSU), OLB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers (M), CB Jalen Myrick (MN), S Nate Gerry (NE)
SPECIAL TEAMS: KR Jabrill Peppers (M), PR Jabrill Peppers (M)
Seth, our resident PSU fan, chose Nyeem Wartman-White in the sixth round of this draft. Even when fully healthy, however, he’s not PSU’s best linebacker—that honor goes to Brandon Bell. Here is eight minutes of Bell doing every damn thing you’d want from a linebacker:
Bell is a prototype walkout linebacker, and at 6’1”, 231, he’s strong enough to play on the inside as well—there are several impressive snaps above where he lines up at WILL and makes a play between the tackles. In 11 games, he tallied 67 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and an interception. He did all of this while playing much of the season injured:
That's because the New Jersey native played most of the season injured. A shoulder injury was obvious, and the defensive coordinator said there were lower body issues, as well.
"You look back at the year Brandon Bell had, despite missing a couple of games, playing with two bad wheels, a shoulder that kept popping out; when I go back and watch the cutups from the fall, just really impressed with the way Brandon plays," Pry said.
I’ll happily take Bell over the relatively interchangeable MIKEs who’ve gone off the board in the last couple rounds, especially since there are still a couple quality ILBs left on the board if I want to reconfigure my defense. For now, I’ll take a linebacker trio of Bell-Jewell-Peppers that will murder anything on the outside, provide great coverage, and allow my hypothetical squad to avoid having to substitute much against spread teams.
Seth: I would argue except "Well most Penn State fans think..." is the Alabama of bad ways to begin an argument.
Brian: You'd think Ace would know that after drafting nothing but PSU TEs for skill positions last year.
Ace: I’ve made some regrettable choices. Meanwhile, Wartman-White is in a battle just to get his MIKE spot back. Jason Cabinda is good, but nobody’s touched him yet in a draft heavy on ILBs.
Seth: That battle is the mother of offseason pablum. NWW will play wherever they want him, and Cabinda is more Desmond Morgan than Larry Foote.
Ace: They’re all going to start, but it’s tough to spin “ripped up his knee, is _still_ not fully healthy, might not be the QB of the defense anymore” as anything but a negative. I certainly don’t think he should’ve gone in the 6th round of a draft in which Jermaine Carter lasted until the 14th.
Brian: Yeah i mean how likely is it NWW is better than guys like Jewell and Carter? Possible, but not that likely. And the downside is kind of severe.
Ace: And Bell is a more versatile player than Jewell/Carter/NWW/Bullough. Figured someone would grab him as a spacebacker much earlier. I only waited this long because I already had Peppers.
Seth: When i did the Googling for that guy I had to sift through a Draftageddon's worth of articles from last year where teammates bemoaned his loss. It must have been a weekly feature. Meanwhile the list of guys I can watch live and immediately pick out that they're special is quite short. That meant a lot to me in choosing a linebacker, since draft rankings and all-X lists barely look past number of tackles.
And I was waiting to draft Bell because everybody had an outside linebacker already.
Ace: You say that like the rest of us haven’t watched film, too.
Seth: Live-live. Like you can see it from section 18. This is more explanation than argument. I develop sentimental attachments to players I personally identified
Ace: I rest my case, then.
Seth: There are also the guys I read about then watch tape and see just a guy *cough* Hardy Nickerson. (Also *cough* sometimes that guy is Jordan Howard *cough myself*)
Adam: Hey don't try to drag me into your mess. I waited until the 13th round to make my feelingsball-based reach.
Seth: Like I said, I gave up this fight when I realized the credibility of my source killed it before I got to the first predicate.
[After the jump: more self-refuting sentences involving Penn State]
Watch This At Your Own Peril
The above is a 20-minute long junior highlight reel of the nation's #1 overall recruit, Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris, who's currently committed to Alabama. It is now relevant to your interests, per 247's Steve Lorenz:
Michigan will host the nation's top overall prospect for their BBQ at the Big House, as Antioch (CA) 2017 five-star running back Najee Harris will be in Ann Arbor on August 6th for the annual recruiting event.
The visit was actually set over a month ago when Michigan, in a remarkable coincidence, hosted a satellite camp at Harris's high school. While Alabama insiders feel confident in the Tide's chances of holding onto Harris, Lorenz isn't ruling out M's chances of a flip:
We've written a lot lately about Michigan narrowing their recruiting board down heading into the season. Linebacker...cornerback....wide receiver...these are all spots where Michigan has concentrated their efforts on the nation's elite. At running back, it currently appears to be Najee Harris and everybody else.
I think the staff's chances with him are better than people realize. A visit on his own dime is of course noteworthy as it always is, but in talking to some sources closer to the Michigan side of things following the Antioch camp, there's a belief that he's a fit for Jim Harbaugh's culture and what he's trying to do at Michigan.
Don't watch that video unless you want to get dangerously excited about the possibility of landing Harris, which won't be easy at all—Bama isn't Michigan's only competition, as USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Cal are also in contention.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Event reminder. We're having a Hail To The Victors kickoff party/thing on Friday at Circus Bar. Hopefully it will be as crazy as last night.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) August 1, 2016
About last night. I don't get WOO NIKE. I have no strong feelings about clothing brands, except insofar as I would like them to put the sports teams I like in uniforms that 1) stay in one piece, 2) are legible from distance, and 3) don't make me envy the dead. I'm in the same realm of bafflement Dan Murphy was last night:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- They lined up for T-shirts.
All day, Michigan fans stood in line for T-shirts. And when the sun went down they chanted and painted their faces and counted down the last few seconds like it was New Year’s Eve for T-shirts, ones with a tiny lopsided parabola in the corner instead of a striped triangle. ...
“I’ve lived 52 years, a lot of them right here in Ann Arbor,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said into a sea of fans recording on their cell phones. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
LIST OF SHIRTS I WOULD STAND IN LINE TO BUY
1. if it was the 12th century and they sold indulgences on shirts
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) August 1, 2016
But I'm happy you're happy, and happy that recruits and players are bonkers for the stuff. There are many many variations of this on Michigan player twitter:
— Moe Ways (@MoeWays) August 1, 2016
It's probably better that Michigan's back with marketing folks who can inspire the kind of devotion that results in a walk-on basketball player crowdsurfing like he's 1992 Eddie Vedder. The gap between the Only Incompetent Germans and that 190-proof blast of capitalism is obvious. While the headline number* on Michigan's apparel contract has been beaten by a few different schools since it was signed a year ago, Jumpman exclusivity looks like a big deal for players and recruits—you know, the people who help you win on the field.
I have one hope, and that's a football version of Jumpman. Pick one of Desmond or Woodson:
A permanent logo swap ain't happening, but if Nike wants to do a special edition thing that will sell a lot of merch and not piss off traditionalists this would be killer. (I think? I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about in this department. Later today I will advise rappists on the finest iambic pentameters. The very best.)
I have one concern. The hockey jerseys look weird and wrong.
Mismatched blues, a weird sheen on top, really not digging the jersey with one maize stripe across the top and nothing else anywhere. A closeup of the hockey jersey does seem into indicate it's regular jersey material and not, like, shimmery. I'll reserve final judgment until I see them in the wild, but I'm not hopeful.
*[I say "headline number" here because it looks like various other schools have structured their contracts such that theirs is the "biggest ever" to the press but not in reality. For example, OSU's "biggest ever" deal with Nike is actually worth $13 million less in cash than Michigan's over the same timeframe. They just pad it out with more gear at an inflated price. I haven't looked into the details of UCLA and Texas but it's possible—probable in UCLA's case—that the same thing is going on there.]
This is completely rational. I retract my tweet at Nick Baumgardner yesterday:
"I definitely think its symbolic, it's a new age for Michigan," Gozdor said. "A lot of my friends are saying they're going to burn their Adidas gear and forget the whole entire thing ever happened."
He was right.
Jeremy Gallon finally gets to be taller than some people. An alert reader points out that the Nojima Sagamihara Rise, a team in Japan's "X-League," is currently listing Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon on their roster. (Also included is former Illinois safety Earnest Thomas III.) Thorough research* reveals that only two foreign players are allowed to be on the field at any one time; the Rise must be planning on Gardner to Gallon for 50% of their plays. This is a good plan.
[Update: now there is an article on this occurrence:
“Everybody here is so respectful, so nice. It’s almost like a compete 180 from in America,” said Gardner, who made 27 starts at quarterback for the Wolverines, with a smile. “They (the Americans) are nice people but I’ve never been to a place where everybody is so kind and so respectful, and it’s just part of the way everyone is here. It’s pure refreshing to get a chance to experience it.”
No Michigan State or Ohio State fans in Japan, I take it.]
*[googling the league's wikipedia page]
I'd be happy to be wrong here. Erik Magnuson doesn't strike me as a guy who the NFL will consider drafting early unless he takes a big step forward as a senior, but CBS's Dane Brugler disagrees with that take, naming him one of the top ten senior OTs in the country and saying he "played like a legitimate NFL prospect":
...moves with a smooth shuffle and wide base, transferring his weight well in his kickslide to mirror edge rushers. He stays low off the snap and prefers to use his hands to control the point of attack to out-leverage and out-power defenders. Magnuson is able to secure downblocks and anchor at shallow depth, driving his legs to finish in the Wolverines' power offense. He has also been praised by the coaching staff for his leadership and consistency during the week.
Although hustle and effort aren't an issue, Magnuson has sloppy tendencies with a bad habit of lowering his head and losing sight of his target, ending up on the ground. He tends to be a waist bender and lacks ideal length to compensate, which allows savvy rushers to get him off balance and leaning. While powerful when squared to defenders, Magnuson will struggle to recover once defenders attack his shoulder.
I thought Magnuson was okay, and only that, a year ago. I get the vibe that PFF agrees with me since they haven't posted anything about him, or the rest of the Michigan OL not named Mason Cole. They tend to have an "if you can't say anything nice..." policy.
I'd be happy to be right here. Ryan Glasgow makes ESPN's list of the top 25 Big Ten players... at #25, which I'm sure I'll find is an outrage once they get around to putting a punter at 16 or whatever. Even so, thank you, ESPN, for not consigning Glasgow to a Wally Pipp role just yet. PFF also names Glasgow their #3 breakout player this year, though they do admit that's a bit of an injury-induced slam dunk:
2016 grade: 84.8 | 2015 snaps: 332 | PFF College 101 rank: 72
The argument could be made that Glasgow has already broken out as he boasted the nation’s No. 19 run-stopping grade before going down to injury last season, but since he only played 332 snaps, he still qualifies as a breakout candidate. He’s seen the field for 753 snaps the last two seasons, posting a strong +32.7 grade against the run, and last year he improved his pass rush grade to +9.0 on the strength of a sack, four QB hits, and 12 hurries on 179 rushes.
Taco Charlton shows up at #7 for the same reasons we're hyped about him around here: a lot of production in under 400 snaps. There are scattered Big Ten players to round out the list plus a couple of old names for recrutniks: both Cal RB Vic Enwere and Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage make the tail end of the list.
Spreading the wealth. Michigan probably has four guys on that aforementioned top 25 B10 players list (Lewis, Peppers and Butt are probably locks and Glasgow snuck in) so it's not exactly crazy that these gents missed it...
Michigan DL Chris Wormley and receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson: Wormley is one of the more versatile defensive linemen in the league, with the ability to move between end and tackle, and he had 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2015. Some of us argued for his inclusion, though we ultimately went with a different player in his position group. As for Darboh and Chesson, they are clearly two of the better wideouts in the league. Yet neither had huge numbers last season, and even Jim Harbaugh will tell you it's a coin flip on who is the better player. They sort of canceled out each other for purposes of this list.
...but since two of those guys are seniors getting first round draft hype it is a little bit crazy. Also:
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) August 1, 2016
Meanwhile Feldman named Michigan's receiving corps the #3 unit in the country. Michigan could be all right this fall.
Etc.: Peppers gets votes from current Big Ten football players as the Big Ten's best defensive player... and its best offensive player. PSU fans expect a punter to be their biggest impact freshman... and they're probably right. Y'all probably don't know how bad PSU punting has been the last few years. TV networks not a big fan of the Big 12's naked cash grab. Always weird when some guy you remember as like 15 is now writing for the Daily. I'm old and DEATH DEATH DEATH. ND contract details.
It’s hard to pick out when it really came into focus. It might have been when I heard that the line to get in went from the front of M-Den to near Angell Hall. It could have been when I looked down State Street to see where the end of said line was and saw only a street so full of people that the line was indistinguishable and the people stretched as far back as I could see. Maybe it was when a group of five or six people dove to the sidewalk about three feet to my right, and what I thought was an insane overreaction to someone cutting the line was just a bunch of people willing to sustain concrete burns for their shot at grabbing the hat Jim Harbaugh threw into the crowd. The setting was familiar, the logos were familiar, but the environment was completely different than anything that Michigan fans have ever seen. This was no mere apparel release event. This was unmistakably a Harbaugh-led party.
Harbaugh’s a man who hates comparing people. If you ask him to compare players he just won’t do it, and his reasoning is solid: compare one person to another and one necessarily gets diminished. Yet there we were, on a humid summer evening in Ann Arbor weeks before students get back in town, crammed so close that you know whether someone’s wearing a fragrance or whether they’re just fragrant, listening to Jim Harbaugh talk about how this is what the street will look when Michigan wins a national title. At some point he must have surveyed the college football landscape and decided that it was fine to start talking about where he thinks his team stacks up relative to the rest of the country.
The program’s expectations are different now, and the fanbase’s zealousness reflects that. They’re as high as they’ve ever been; there’s a gap the size of Tacopants between expectations from a decade ago and expectations today. Events like last night’s reinforce what seems to be the program’s theme and carefully curated direction: on the surface, everything old is new again. Then there’s something extra beyond the old “everything” that’s momentarily disorienting and refreshingly different.
Created with flickr slideshow.
The last time Michigan switched apparel companies they had just hired a new head football coach whose spread offense gashed the most firmly held beliefs of some subsets of the fanbase as well as it did defenses. This time around Michigan’s new head football coach is in his second year on campus, and the freshest memory of his tenure is the saccharine success of Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. People didn’t line up last night just to buy new clothes. They lined up because this was an opportunity to get a free ticket for the 11:59 PM hype train.
Signing on with Nike and getting outfitted not just with the swoosh but in Jordan Brand apparel is new and different and plays to the soft spot of most people associated with Michigan. You don’t go to a school or become a fan of a school where you hear about the “Michigan Difference” every 20 minutes and walk away feeling like blending into the pack is a lovely place to be. People wanted something different, but they weren’t interested in change for the sake of change. The reason to switch could have been as straightforward as Harbaugh’s review of his appearance in a rap video: the cool kids liked it. But that wasn’t enough for Jim Hackett and company. They found a way to get Jordan Brand looped into the deal, and they found a way to take the Jumpman logo, a logo that resonated with people as being a cut above, and get that stitched onto Michigan’s football jerseys.
In isolation, the switch to Nike and Jordan may not have been enticing enough to start an honest to goodness block party, but the excitement certainly would have been high enough to get something of a line to form to buy the new stuff when it came out. Then Michigan won 10 games, including a demolition of an SEC team whose defense was supposed to be murderous. Then Harbaugh started talking about setting goals that are so high others will laugh at you. Then he stopped talking about the process of getting to know his team and started dropping “national championship” here and there.
Real, authentic excitement is easy to derive from the comfort of seeing things you’re used to while feeling a sense of optimism about what’s to come, a belief that familiarity doesn’t have to mean a stagnant future but can be an element of something entirely new. Harbaugh found a way to do what the old guard has wanted for over two decades: resurrect Schembechler football. Harbaugh being Harbaugh, he then took it and twisted it into something that only looked like the kind of football that was played on Tartan Turf but attacked in a different and complex way, a way that defensive coordinators really could have used all those years between Schembechler and Harbaugh to prepare for. He took what was the ceiling of the old guard’s aspirations--to win a Big Ten title--and tore the roof off. The new expectation is that Michigan can compete not only in their conference but with anyone across the country. That this is being hammered on publicly by the head coach puts Michigan in rarefied air. Everything looks and feels familiar but elevated, and on Sunday night people couldn’t wait to drape themselves in the zeitgeist.