Sound Mind Sound Body provided exposure for thousands of area players. [Rapai]
The NCAA ban on satellite camps—and coaching at camps away from campus, period—is an ill-considered, haphazard measure that serves the selfish interests of a select few millionaires while hurting the exact people the NCAA is supposed to serve: the student-athletes. That's been the near-universal reaction from current players, recruits, parents, and media members alike in the wake of the ruling.
Khalid Hill, Jourdan Lewis, and Moe Ways, all of whom participated in the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, spoke out against the ban on Twitter over the weekend. Hill had some particularly strong words for the NCAA:
All I got to say.... pic.twitter.com/HOVhsIJhw4
— Khalid Hill (@Thatboylid80) April 10, 2016
Of greater concern to, say, the SEC coaches who pushed for the legislation, current prospects and their parents are also outraged. Five-star Cass Tech senior Donovan Peoples-Jones wrote a note about how much SMSB helped him and other local prospects, many of whom didn't have the opportunity to attend on-campus camps, get noticed by college coaches:
— Donovan P. Jones (@dpeoplesjones) April 10, 2016
Recruits and coaches at Bob Jones and Prattville high schools in Alabama, two of the planned stops on Michigan's summer camp tour, also lamented the lost opportunity:
Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose anticipated the camp at his school would draw about 500 players.
"I was really disappointed because, in my opinion, it's a lost opportunity for high school kids and high school coaches, especially that kid that's maybe not quite tall enough to make the measurables," Rose said. "We have a couple of guys that I think in a satellite camp setting could make a case for themselves, and obviously you're not going to drive to Ann Arbor or Michigan from Madison, Alabama. If they come to you, that's a great opportunity for kids and coaches. ... From our perspective, we feel like that was something very positive for high school football in north Alabama."
While the efficacy of change.org petitions is up for debate, it's very notable that one of the most-signed petitions calling for a reversal of the ban was started by Rozlyn Peoples, Donovan Peoples-Jones' mother. It's already surpassed 5000 signatures.
On Friday April 7th The SEC, ACC, PAC12, BIG12, Sunbelt and MWC conferences voted not to allow FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) coaches to work camps at sites away from their campuses. This new rule will restrict and reduce educational opportunities for high school students and their parents by lowering the opportunities for youth to showcase their athletic talents and earn a college scholarship. If college coaches are only allowed to work camps on their campus there will be far less scholarship offers to high school students in the summer of 2016. This will in turn have a disproportionate impact on parents in the class of 2017 because:
-1. The effective immediate date of the NCAA ruling means they will not be able to see multiple college coaches the summer prior to their last year of high school
-2. The conflicting institutional camp schedule makes it impossible for students to attend multiple camps
3. The majority of students and parents that this affects come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel penned an open letter to the NCAA asking for them to reverse course; they could do so before the end of the month:
On April 28, you will decide whether to approve a proposal passed late last week by the Division-I Council that bans FBS football coaches from conducting or working at camps and clinics outside of their program's regular facilities -- a.k.a. satellite camps. I realize that in most instances your role is primarily to rubber-stamp legislation, but in this instance, I'd urge you to rescind this ill-conceived measure.
It badly fails the one constituency your organization purports to protect -- the athletes themselves.
I wouldn't normally hold my breath for the NCAA to do something right, but the outcry in this instance has been remarkable. In one corner, you have the athletes (current, future, and former), their parents, high school coaches, media members, and a decent chunk of the NCAA's member institutions. In the other corner, you have this:
Freeze: "I’m selfish with my time,” he said. “I’m away from my family enough, and I just did not want to go." https://t.co/QPjNOK5QDf
— angelique (@chengelis) April 10, 2016
Hugh Freeze is paid $4.9 million per year to coach football in an area with enough talent that he has little need for satellite camps. He doesn't want to work harder for those $4.9 million, which is fine; that's his prerogative. What's not fine is he doesn't want anyone else to be allowed to provide these opportunities, which would probably cause him to have to work harder to avoid falling behind, and won't someone think of Hugh Freeze's children? Just, uh, while you do so, don't think about all those other children—the thousands trying to earn scholarships to attend college because their parents don't make $4.9 million per year.
At least he admits he's selfish, I guess.
Previously: Last year's profiles.
Note: Rivals appears to have broken their player profiles; the "News" tab didn't have anything under it for Metellus. I'm using Google but not much is coming up. These profiles might be light on their opinions as a result.
|Hollywood, FL – 6'0", 187|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|ESPN||4*, NR overall
#22 S, #51 FL
|24/7||3*, #1245 overall
#82 S, #161 FL
|Other Suitors||Colorado, FIU, FAU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||HS teammate of classmates Devin Bush Jr and Devin Gil. Twitter.|
Georgia Southern commit Josh Metellus was just a name with a placeholder picture on most of the recruiting sites when he suddenly became a part of Michigan's class last June. The Hello post resulting from Metellus's flip is probably the shortest in the genre's history. Metellus had no scouting, stats, or 40 time. Ace posted his Hudl film and took a shot in the dark:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He will probably play safety?
At the time Metellus was joining a half-dozen other summer camp commits; fast forward nine months and he is one of the few left standing despite his low profile.
And it is a low profile, with one notable exception. Metellus is excellent evidence that the two-star ranking is more or less gone from Power 5 recruiting classes. When he committed he was an anonymous two-star or unranked. By signing day he was an anonymous three-star everywhere… except ESPN, which only got around to ranking him after his commit and liked what they saw enough to issue a fourth star. Aside from that I didn't find anything justifying the addition of a star from any site, or even any indication that his ranking changed. Metellus got a prototype "courtesy bump."
ESPN's system has its vagaries, as we'll discuss soon when we get to Khaleke Hudson, but at least they put some scouting next to every kid. Since their report is more or less it, let's see what they liked:
Below average safety measurables. Looks more like a hybrid type SS/nickel CB. Plenty of room to fill out. … Not always the most disciplined player when it comes to technique and position. … Plays everywhere in this scheme. At his best near the box in coverage. Good range defender who closes quickly and covers a lot of ground fast. … Quick to get over trash and utilizes his hands to shed. Big-time hitter who looks to initiate contact and get downhill quickly on run support. … Closes fast with explosive burst that leads to big hits. … Metellus is a physical ball-hawk who can run and hit with top tier safeties in this class. Unrefined at times in man coverage.
This sounds a bit like Hudson and a lot like the kind of safety that Don Brown used a lot of at BC, with the notable exception of the man coverage skills that enabled so much of what his outstanding 2015 defense did. Metellus has the physical ability to hack it there, and he reports that is indeed the plan:
“[Brown] sees me as a cover guy, a matchup guy. I’ll be matching up a lot with the slot receivers.”
Brown himself reiterated that take on Signing Day:
Josh is young but really smart. In my experiences talking football with him, he’s really sharp. He’s physical and is a safety with cover skills, which is important in our system.
Michigan is moving to a system where the safeties are going to be in a lot of man coverage, and at first blush Metellus is a good fit for that. "Below average safety measurables" is another way to say "kind of a corner," and those are the kind of guys Brown coached up at BC. Soon-to-be-former defensive backs coach Greg Jackson also offered his take:
Josh is a guy that is an aggressive tackler but at the same time he is a great cover safety. In this day and age, you need to have a safety that has the ability to cover as well as being a good tackler in space. One of the other things that caught my eye was his competitiveness.
No doubt that latter is what got Harbaugh's attention, and before that Devin Bush's.
Outside of ESPN, team-specific sites under the national umbrella did their best to fill in the blanks. At Rivals, Mike Spath talked to Sun Sentinel preps writer Ryan S Clark for a take on Metellus, one influenced by a recent Michigan hire:
"When I asked [Flanagan coach] Devin Bush Sr. about Josh he said, 'I tried telling you guys but no one wanted to listen. He did so well under the lights, and I don't know what these other schools are looking at, but take a look at his film, and you put his film against other guys, all I can say is really? How does this kid go unnoticed?'"
He'd express similar sentiments to Scout's Josh Newkirk, saying that he wasn't much different than the dudes at the Opening:
Metellus can make a lot of the same plays. He can run. He can open his hips and turn. He can change direction. He can make plays on the ball. He can come through the alley and make contact. He makes plays in the open field. He’s a very physical, versatile, and highly intelligent player.”
That is something approximating a consensus. Metellus is a guy with coverage upside who can hit; he's not a crazy athlete a la Dymonte Thomas; he's a smart, physical guy. This is all good, and the reason he is at Michigan. Keep in mind here that this version of Michigan is not averse to sending a four-star guy who ended up at Oklahoma packing; if Michigan didn't believe in the guy they would have put him on a boat to Kazakhstan.
But the recruiting rankings are what they are, usually for a reason. Around here we take rankings seriously in aggregate. They're not fate and this series exists because I think it's useful to look beyond the number of stars; all evidence suggests that they are predictive. So it must be said that there is no reason that the various recruiting sites wouldn't have taken notice of Metellus over the course of his senior season. He was committed to Michigan, playing on the eventual state champs of the largest classification in Florida. A lot of guys use those platforms to hurdle forward, as Brandon Peters did. Metellus's ranking remained static outside of Bristol.
Other than the ESPN evaluation every take above is from a Michigan coach or a guy who was about to be a Michigan coach. Those are not neutral, and so we're back here, looking at some very meh rankings with one notable exception and trying to split the difference. Touch The Banner does so:
The first thing that jumps out about Metellus is that he brings everything he has when he comes up to tackle. He's a solid tackler and can patrol the middle. He wraps up well and runs his feet through contact. I also think he does a good job in run fits and can wade through the trash, changing direction well in small spaces to dodge blockers and find the ball carrier. Metellus tracks the ball well in the air, and it looks like he does a good job of keeping things in front of him.
What Metellus isn't is a guy who leaps off the screen for any particular reason. He is a solid but unspectacular football player. He lacks great size and will need to get in the weight room so he doesn't get overpowered. He lacks great speed and is not a dynamic runner if he gets the ball in his hands.
He's probably not the 161st-best player in Florida this year, as 247 ranks him. But the film and the fact that no one bothered to hype a multi-year starter on a powerhouse suggest that Metellus is not a crazy sleeper who will make everyone regret their words and eat their hats and self-immolate at their wrongness. A decent starter is probably the ceiling.
Why Brandent Englemon? Englemon was slightly under six-foot, topped out around 200 pounds, was of absolutely no note to recruiting services, and had a solid career as a multi-year starter at Michigan because he was smart and healthy. He was not a guy who won you games; he was not a guy who lost you games. Steady and unremarkable is always underrated.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. There's no reason to think that his guy isn't heavily scouted and the "meh" evaluations are on point, but the ESPN outlier does give pause. ESPN is the kind of service that doesn't GAF about anything other than your tape. Meanwhile nobody else actually put scouting of him on the internet.
Variance: Low. Metellus isn't likely to be a superhero and isn't likely to bomb out.
Ceiling: Moderate. Likely tops out at good college safety who doesn't interest the NFL.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. I do like the fact that both Brown and Jackson talked about how he was a good fit as a cover safety. That kind of specific chatter feels accurate to me, and he's a guy who can be a unremarked-upon player on a very good defense.
Projection: It's all on the table for safeties this year. Metellus probably won't and probably shouldn't redshirt since the depth chart at the spot next year reads…
- Tyree Kinnell
…because Hoke's redshirt approach was dumb as dirt. He's not going to play meaningful snaps on D; he should get ST time and some garbage time snaps and if we're lucky he'll be an obvious choice to start next year because Michigan needs one or two of those at S. More likely is that he and his friends at safety are a major question mark headed into 2017.
Not a surprise, of course:
— Kyle Connor (@KyleConnor18) April 11, 2016
Connor, the Hobey Baker winner in an alternate universe where college hockey is run by people who can count, had a monster freshman year with a 35-36-71 line. That kind of production isn't replaceable even if Michigan had another first-round forward coming in, which they do not. The CCM line is down to just one C, and at this point I kind of expect JT Compher to sign as well.
The remaining roster is fine, but if they do lose Compher it doesn't look like the kind of outfit that is going to be able to overcome the defensive issues that have been a constant the last five years; this year's edition had a line that scored like it was 1985 and they still didn't win the Big Ten.
On the roundtable this week:
- Craig's back!
- Spring football revelations and omens
- What to do with pending basketball coaching openings
- Red returns: y/n?
THE USUAL LINKS
Same. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
The Question: What was your biggest revelation from the spring?
Adam: The biggest thing the spring game did for me was ease lingering fears about two defensive position groups. The linebackers were almost universally question marks heading into the spring (unless you count the snaps we saw Ben Gedeon play last season) and they played well enough to quell concerns heading into the fall. I don't remember noticing Gedeon live or in the three or four times I've rewatched the game, which is passable for the Mike position; he also didn't get many snaps, which is indicative of how the staff feels about him. Mike McCray looked good in the spring game, while Devin Bush Jr. looked good in the open practice at Ford Field. Jabrill's gonna Jabrill at Sam; it's unfortunate that Noah Furbush was on crutches considering the hype he received from the coaching staff, but at least there's an excellent starting option at that spot.
Even though we've seen Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas play quite a bit I was a little concerned about them, particularly Thomas taking over Wilson's free safety spot. Thomas lived up to the hype he'd received this spring whether he was jetting up to support the run or dropping and covering acres of space; his interception in the back of the end zone is a great example of what he can do with his athleticism. Thomas mentioned that he didn't feel like he hit his stride last season until he fully learned the playbook; it looks like he's learned this playbook very quickly. Tyree Kinnel looked like an excellent backup to Hill at SS, reading the field well and bumping receivers off routes regularly.
When I step back and take a 10,000-foot view of things, I find myself taking twisted joy in the things that cause hand wringing about the defense. Sure, some of the position switches on the defensive line are curious, and though I've written in this very space about trying Gary out at WDE (or End in Don Brown's defense) and keeping Wormley at SDE (or Anchor to Brown) it's fun to worry about how to best deploy an armory of Dudes who deserve significant snaps instead of whether there are any Dudes to be deployed. After the spring game, we know the latter isn't an issue for any defensive position group.
[Hit THE JUMP for more positive defense feels, Tyree Kinnel hype, quarterback reassurance, and a stunning reversal of course from Brian.]
The NCAA has banned satellite camps, because… [404 reason not found]. But it's done:
DI Council also approves rule requiring FBS camps and clinics be conducted on a school's campus or in regular facilities.
— NCAA (@NCAA) April 8, 2016
I have literally not seen a single peep in favor of this ruling anywhere public, from coaches to athletes to media members. A couple of reporters covering the SEC have related the private thoughts of coaches happy they can binge-watch Everybody Loves Raymond again, but ain't nobody coming out and waving the flag in favor of a rule change that literally only benefits people making 300k+.
This isn't going to have a major impact on Michigan, but it rankles because it is so transparently opposite the NCAA's claimed mission. If there's anyone who takes the NCAA's increasingly hilarious self-promotion seriously anymore, this should end that. It's a cartel of self-interested asshats operating under a veneer of virtue, because you can do astounding things as long as you have said veneer.
Meanwhile Jim Delany sits in a corner burbling about cable subscribers and counting his millions of dollars. What a country.
Additional thoughts will be introduced with an innovative bolded in-line title.
Q: SMSB? Over the past ten years, Sound Mind Sound Body has become a very large camp indeed, one featuring dozens of college coaches and four digits worth of athletes. Either the NCAA just bombed that camp hard or maybe there's a loophole. That loophole could be SMSB's charity nature. Coaches have been allowed there because they volunteer their time, IIRC, and the word choice in the ruling is specific:
SPORTS LAW HIVEMIND: Does the fact that this is "employed" and not "may not participate" mean what I think it does? pic.twitter.com/MpVJSaRRCX
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) April 8, 2016
If SMSB happens as planned then this is a non-ruling easily evaded. Michigan coaches can just go volunteer at the various SMSB-alikes that will proliferate like mushrooms after a rain.
If college coaches disappear then it's game over.
Ugh, work. This is simultaneously frustrating and very good for Michigan:
The SEC coaches I talked to were keeping their fingers crossed that satellite camps were outlawed. Just more work for everybody.
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) April 8, 2016
Harbaugh is still working harder than your coach. Your coaches who are making six- and seven-figure salaries on the backs of unpaid labor. They are going to sit in a circle and go "LOL remember that time we stopped Harbaugh from working" as Harbaugh invents new ways to torture his enemies.
Hooray lawsuits! This is now very relevant. Jack Swarbrick, ND AD and law-talking guy, on the legal defensibility of the ban:
“The NCAA does not have a very good track record of limiting, without losing an antitrust lawsuit, economic opportunities for coaches,” Swarbrick said Tuesday at the College Football Playoff meetings. “So they should be treading very lightly. The perception is these are school opportunities. A lot of these are coach opportunities purely. Imagine a rule that said, as was introduced years ago, coaches couldn't do national televised advertising because it created a recruiting advantage. … I wouldn't want to defend those lawsuits.”
A 1999 lawsuit resulting from an NCAA rule that limited assistant coach salaries to 16k a year(!) was victorious, leading to the free-for-all you see today. It'll be tough to win that lawsuit if it does come. So we've got that going for us when this hypothetical trial wraps up a decade from now.
[HT: Carl Paulus]
Disappointed to read satellite camp news-better solutions than a ban- will hurt PSA's & Group of 5 schools. pic.twitter.com/fhmEDnn2ve
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) April 8, 2016
This is not a surgical strike. Via Steve Wiltfong, non-Power 5 coaches are of course upset:
The new ruling basically says mid-major programs aren't allowed to participate in camps not held on campus. For instance, MAC schools flock to Big Ten camps as say an Ohio State camp generally only has a handful of kids good enough to play for the Buckeyes but several that could play for Ball State, Kent State, Toledo or Western Michigan.
Two MAC coaches told 247Sports they weren't sure how this rule affects them. One said "shocking."
Given that I wonder how the hell this legislation even passed. All Group of Five schools should be against it. The Big Ten should be against it. Big chunks of the Big 12, Pac 12, and ACC should be against it. Not only is it transparently against the interests of athletes, it's transparently against the interests of most of D-I.
Good lord, Harbaugh. Perhaps the greatest tragedy in all of this is that we didn't have to clone Sam Webb and almost kill both of 'em:
247Sports is told Michigan had 30 camps lined up, they were going to split groups and sometimes do two a day. Stops would have included North Florida, South Florida, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, Mississippi, Tennessee, Ohio, Maryland and Connecticut.
Jim Harbaugh is always himself at maximum volume. Gonna be some fun times in the near future, satellite camps or no.
I have heard your cries; it's time to catch up on the quasi-offseason's user-generated content.
What the… heck is that pic above? Markp (the p is for photoshop) decided to mock up the Big House with a couple of upper decks, and colored in the endzones themselves. I present without comment. For the record, Brian turned me around on the luxury boxes exactly ten years ago this week.
Every snap by QB. DGDestroys broke up every snap of the spring game by quarterback, because just being a good dude wasn’t enough to justify his existence on the planet and he just had to make himself ludicrously useful. I plan to Hennechart this. DGDestroys is your Diary Dude of the Week.
More Don Brown D: Space Coyote took issue with the assertion that Michigan's D was doing some Spartan D-like things, and went about discussing what Brown's Cover 2 concepts look like, i.e. why it's not really a base "Quarters". This is the upshot:
But at the end of the day, [Brown] is a "multiple" coach, which Michigan has almost always been dating back a long time. This, in and of itself, makes it very different than what MSU and OSU are doing.
The BC playbook that James Light made available that we're all pouring through does have a package called "Spartan" that does some of what MSU does (at right).
But that is page 144 of the playbook, i.e. just a thing they have to bring out against certain opponents or as a changeup, not the base thing. Brown's cover 2 is a kind of read, but it's not that kind of read.
This is all getting away from the more important distinction, which is that Michigan will line up their DL so the "Anchor" (strongside end) is outside the tackle. This widening the front to squeeze the LBs inside is an MSU characteristic too, though unrelated to the coverage system. One of the things it does is keeps the SAM clean so you can play a much lighter and quicker player there (e.g. Peppers). The tradeoff is your middle linebacker had better be good at thumpin' and getting off blocks.
Space Coyote is not your dude of the week, but he’s a Guy.
Worth discussion. Sharik followed up a diary about head injuries with various positive ideas for making football safer. Going to Rugby-style tackling rules and possession arrows for fumbles make paper sense, but it seems tougher to implement than making football men wear girdles, i.e. never going to happen. But making the equipment softer for the guy on the receiving end, especially helmets and shoulder pads, seems…plausible?
Changeup routes. Docwhoblocked went to Michigan’s recent coaching clinic and was moved to write up what he heard from, so far, three of the sessions he attended. Frank Beamer talked mostly about special teams. Art Briles was in there too but a lot of it was for coaches' ears and thus not that useful to you as a fan. But I found this bit interesting for the irony:
His offensive strategy: Tell the receivers to run as fast as they can and then tell the quarterback to throw it as far as he can.
Ironic because Smart Football last year wrote about how Briles's offense stretches the field diagonally by having receivers *not* run as fast as they can. The defense still has to cover the lollygaggers, which creates more space for whoever's streaking downfield, and sometimes get lulled to sleep by a trotting receiver who then turns on the jets. I bet Harbaugh starts using some lollygagging in his offense soon.
Doc also wrote up the Harbaugh, Harbaugh, and Harbaugh session.
[Hit the jump for a record hockey diaries]
Spring Game Fallout, Part I
The nation's top-ranked center, IMG-by-way-of-NJ four-star Cesar Ruiz, released an ordered top 12 following his visit that features Michigan in a tie at the top with Alabama and UNC. He gave his thoughts on M to TomVH:
“They have done a great job making me feel welcome every time I visit. Every time I’m there I feel home and they make me feel like a part of the family. I have a lot of old friends and old teammates that are going there and I would have an opportunity to play with them. Brad Hawkins and Ron Johnson were teammates and old friends like Rashan Gary, Ahmir Mitchell and Kareem Walker.”
A trip to Alabama is next on the docket. While Ruiz won't be an easy pull with his impressive offer sheet, Michigan has a lot of connections in their favor.
When we were put on commit watch notice over the weekend, many thought that three-star NJ ATH Markquese Bell would be one to drop. While that didn't come to fruition, it sounds like Michigan is ahead of the pack; Bell raved about his visit to Scout's Brian Dohn:
"Everything was great," said Bell, who plays at south Jersey's Bridgeton (N.J.) High. "It was my first time there. I just liked everything about the school. The spring game was awesome. The fans are electric. I wanted to put pads on and go play."
Michigan made a similarly strong first impression on four-star CA C Brett Neilon, who told TMI's Brice Marich he's looking to make a return trip:
Said Neilon, “it’s a place I could see myself at and will be a place I research and look at hard. Yeah, I will try to visit again.”
It'll be tough to pull Neilon out of California, but if a school manages to do it, Michigan looks like the one.
They may be in similar position with four-star NV CB Alex Perry, who told Marich his visit went "great," and Michigan will make his top list whenever he releases one. He plans to return for an official.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
What is this? Folks who cover the USMNT drop lists like this projecting the 23 guys who end up on the next World Cup team. I have appropriated it. Regarding the number of tickets: 22 starters on offense and defense + 2 kickers + nickelback + FLEX TE + H-back.
PACK YOUR BAGS
1. LB/CB/S/KR/PR/WR/RB/NICKEL Jabrill Peppers, So.* [Last time: 1]
Now 70% linebacker, 70% CB, 70% RB, 70% WR. Don Brown will have to kill you if he tells you all the things Michigan will do with him this fall. Don Brown knows where the bodies are buried, because he buried them. Peppers will ford the river Styx, ye. Knoweth thy doom approacheth when #5 appears in your peripheral vision.
2. CB Jourdan Lewis, Sr. [Last time: 2]
Barely played in the spring game because it's not like anyone needs to know if Jourdan Lewis can play after single-season PBU-record year. Goals for this year: be exactly like you were last year with better interception luck. Should repeat as All-American, but vagaries of CB stats may intervene there. Doesn't matter: will play like one.
3. C Mason Cole, Jr. [Last time: 3]
Move to center appears to be sticking, which is a natural fit for a guy smart enough to start as a true freshman and maybe not longhuge enough to be an elite edge protector. Only reason he wouldn't start at C is if Newsome can't hack LT yet and Kugler pushes through. Chances Cole isn't starting somewhere holding steady at 0.0%.
4. FLEX Jake Butt, Sr. [Last time: 4]
Inexplicably not a Mackey finalist despite athleticism, catching radius, and absolutely fantastic hands. Blocking just okay but far from a liability. Seriously how did this guy not win the Mackey? What are you even doing, Mackey? Are you playing Fallout 4 and randomly selecting guys your slacker brother suggests? Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
5. 3TECH Chris Wormley, Sr* [Last time: 6]
Spent most of spring playing three tech after junior season spent wrecking every tight end opponents foolishly tasked to block him. Not an elite pass rusher but highly effective in Michigan's stunt-heavy rush game a year ago. Should be all-conference easy and a mid-round NFL draft pick.
6. WR Amara Darboh, Sr* [Last time: 8]
Absence of Chesson this spring allowed Darboh to ease past Chesson in the pecking order per Harbaugh, not that it matters since both will get a ton of time, and they're very different players anyway. Still, Darboh adding some deep stuff to his extant game would make him a very hard player to check.
7. WR Jehu Chesson, Sr.* [Last time: 7]
Open deep all year and finally got on the same page with Rudock late for season-ending surge. Fast. Murderous blocker. Jet sweep maestro. Fast. Polite. Fast. Went from Stonum-ish to Breaston-ish to Manningham-ish over course of season. Huge year beckons if QB situation right.
8. K Kenny Allen, Sr.* [Last time: 9]
Early-season kicker worries dissipated as Allen went 14/18 on the year with one miss due to a bad snap and a second that got blown across the face of the uprights by a sudden gust of wind. Didn't hit anything particularly long, but had a bunch of touchbacks when he wanted to have touchbacks. Another year of reliability beckons.
9. FS Dymonte Thomas, Sr. [Last time: 10]
Spectacular spring game interception on which he flew from midfield to the very corner of the endzone demonstrates his promise. He is capable of crazy ball-hawk things Jarrod Wilson never was. Played very well down the stretch last year. Consistency might be a bugaboo, but so far all the signs are good ones.
10. SS Delano Hill, Sr. [Last time: 11]
Though Tyree Kinnel played pretty well in various open practices, Harbaugh flat-out stated that nobody was anywhere near the two starting safeties so here's Hill. Severe case of Greg Oden disease means he will look exactly the same age—42—for the next 50 years.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
11. RB De'Veon Smith, Jr.* [Last time: 25]
Assumption in this space that Smith would get seriously challenged looks to be wrong, as Smith was shelved just like Lewis and Peppers types. He's the man, man. Consistent high-level praise for Ty Isaac, and Isaac's standout spring game, barely prevent Smith from moving to lock territory. But looks like we can ditch those fullback assertions for good.
12. ILB Ben Gedeon, Sr. [Last time: 12]
Harbaugh said all the right things about Gedeon this spring, invoking the word "stud"; Don Brown made him a Dude. Michigan's going to need that to be true since depth at linebacker is still alarming even after Mike McCray got off the cart. He's starting and probably not coming off the field, so here's to that being, like, good.
13. G Ben Braden, Sr.* [Last time: 14]
"Something strange" in the case of the 3 OL in a row here would be Kugler or Dawson or Ben Bredeson pushing through and Newsome being real good, thus moving Cole to one of these spots. That would be strange indeed, but it's not impossible. Braden's improvement track and general hugeness makes him the least likely to get yoinked.
14. T Erik Magnuson, Sr*. [Last time: 15]
Middling season as a tackle. Okay at run blocking but occasionally frustrating, especially on the second level. Pass protection generally good but, like Cole, struggled to cope with top-shelf rushers. Not going to be All Big Ten next year; difficult to see anyone supplanting him.
15. G Kyle Kalis, Sr* [Last time: 16]
Kalis has taken a ton of crap from insiders for inconsistency, to the point where Rivals repeatedly asserted Michigan would straight-up cut him(!!!) despite no football program in the history of the sport doing so with a returning starter at OL. He is highly variable, sure, but cumong man. Boom or bust, because if it clicks, it clicks.
16. SLOT Grant Perry, So. [Last time: 23]
Minus Darboh and Chesson in the spring game, Perry was clearly the most reliable and relied-upon wide receiver available to either team. Challenge could come from any number of freshmen, but they'll lose out for the same reason Perry was a nonentity until the bowl game. Receiver is not a freshman friendly spot.
Rashan Gary looms but Taco is going to start somewhere, whether that's SDE like he did this spring or WDE once Gary arrives and Glasgow returns and Don Brown just laughs and laughs and laughs. Charlton was too much for Grant Newsome to handle, and 5.5 sacks in under half of Michigan's snaps last year presages a big senior year. He's always had all the physical talent in the world and is thus one of the proverbial X-factors on this year's team.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
18. NT Ryan Glasgow, Sr.* [Last time: 5]
Massive drop due to resurgence of the Bryan Mone hypening. Glasgow hasn't taken snap one under Brown, whereas Mone impressed everyone, again. He'll have something to prove this fall. Still sticking with Glasgow because he was mini-Mike Martin last year, and if Mone beats that guy out I project Michigan's defense will end football as we know it. Because seriously this dude is a dude, dude. /donbrown'd
19. OT Grant Newsome, So. [Last time: 19]
Behold the rare OL redshirt burning that makes sense. Michigan is not wavering with its plan to insert Newsome at LT despite some struggles with Charlton and Winovich this spring. Michigan really needs him to come through because there's not much behind him, especially next year. Looks the part, at least.
With Michigan passing on a random Aussie (so far) it's Allen, not Peppers, who gets the first-ever dual nod on 27 Tickets. Allen was originally recruited as a punter and has displayed a booming leg on scattered opportunities so far. Won't be as precise as Blake O'Neill but should be able to flip the field on the regular like he did.
Burst out of injury purgatory in a major way in spring, emerging into clear top choice to start next to Gedeon. Big thumping dude with sufficient athleticism to replicate Desmond Morgan's decent coverage skills. Also the son of a former OSU captain, which says somethin' about somethin'.
Revelation of the spring and major reason Hill moved to fullback. Wheatley is enormous, shows great promise as a blocker, and had a one-handed stab that led to a 70-yard touchdown at the Ford Field practice. All talk of moving him to OT is dead and buried, because once you see Wheatley move that way at that size it's clear dude has got to run free.
IN A BATTLE
23. QB John O'Korn, Jr* [Last time: 18]
Sticking with O'Korn, but barely. Wilton Speight exits spring neck-and-neck with the Houston transfer, with his steadiness battling O'Korn's mobility and ability to flick 40-yard balls on the run. Speight might even be ahead by a nose right now, but O'Korn's upside and Harbaugh's ability to unlock QB upside suggests O'Korn will be in the passing lane by fall.
An "in stone" starter per Harbaugh after a breakout spring, but I just dunno man. Clark's junior year was highly promising and, like Glasgow, I have to see Stribling blow by in person before I believe it. If Stribling is significantly better than Clark was a year ago, Michigan's secondary is going to be absurd.
25. FB/H-back Khalid Hill, Jr.* [Last time: 24]
Hill gets the nod here over incumbent Henry Poggi but along with Bobby Henderson expect the three FB/HB types to split snaps extensively. Hill has the most upside as a receiver and has shown promise as a blocker; Poggi has more experience; Henderson is probably the best runner. Sometimes there's a man.
26. SAM Noah Furbush, So* [Last time: 27]
Furbush sticks since Peppers is the nickel even if he's a linebacker and Michigan will need a beefier guy for short yardage and the various manball teams on the schedule. Impressive work on STs caught Harbaugh's eye a year ago; Wangler and others will push. Expect a James Ross level of work here/
Winovich moved back to D from TE and started delivering on his Jake Ryan 2.0 hype. Now at 245, another 10 pounds by fall and he's a plausible option. Not as plausible an option as getting bumped down a notch on the two-deep by a DL depth chart that will veritably demand Charlton moves to WDE in fall, but until such time as that move happens Winovich holds on to the last spot.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE
RB Drake Johnson—still Michigan's most explosive back.
RB Ty Isaac—spring revelation and Harbaugh praise after rough sophomore year; he'll factor in.
FB Henry Poggi—had some trouble IDing who he should block after move from DL. Should improve.
WR Moe Ways—Darboh analogue had a few catches, should be eased into more PT with an eye towards 2017.
TE Ian Bunting—Ol' Skillet Hands saw PT drop as season progressed, now breakout pick by many.
DE/DT Rashan Gary—heh
NT Bryan Mone—massive Tongan apparently third best player on last year's roster headed into the season? What?
3TECH Maurice Hurst—another reason to push Taco to WDE once the entire line is there in fall camp.
DE Matt Godin—if allowed to push out to SDE will be an effective backup for Wormley. If forced to play 3TECH, look out.
ILB Devin Bush Jr—early enrollee all but assured PT by depth chart.
CB Jeremy Clark—Richard Sherman size and solid junior year; will play a lot.
S Tyree Kinnel—showed promise in spring; M would like him to round into heir apparent.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Wilton Speight—[update: no, not transferring, in fact strong competition for the job]
RB Kareem Walker—okay he's not Fournette but let's not dismiss him out of hand because of a couple of recruiting ranking downgrades.
RB Karan Higdon—quick little guy had one nice carry and got swarmed a lot at LOS.
RB Kingston Davis—absolutely not a fullback
WR Drake Harris—still skinny as a rail.
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Kekoa Crawford—Hawaiian for smooth.
WR Eddie McDoom—MCDOOOOOOOOM
WR Ahmir Mitchell—early enrollee could move to S, needs work.
TE Devin Asiasi—plug-and-play inline TE has some depth chart hurdles to clear.
C Patrick Kugler—will be a redshirt junior; given performance this year could displace starter. Magnuson, Cole flexibility means that if he's best five he plays.
G David Dawson—stuck behind middling Gs a year ago, will get a shot.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most field-ready of ILB freshmen outside of Bush.
CB David Long—program ambassador role starts now, CB starter in 2017?
CB LaVert Hill—Jourdan Lewis analogue in HS; will play with expectation of starting next year.
CB Brandon Watson—saw some nickel snaps when M was trying to save Peppers a bit.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not going to compete physically w/ O'Korn or Gentry but could develop into a Rudock type down the road.
QB Brandon Peters—true freshman impressed in spring.
QB Shane Morris—WR moonlighting in spring game not an outstanding sign.
FB Wyatt Shallman—now is the time to try his blocking out. Constantly hurt.
WR Brad Hawkins—another S candidate
TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Sean McKeon—Butt 2.0?
TE Zach Gentry—showed great promise after spring move to TE, but still too skinny to play now.
G Michael Onwenu—can play at incredible weight, but probably not 370.
T Ben Bredeson—Must pan out.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
T Nolan Ulizio—late pickup last year hopes to build for 2017.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—late early for him
WDE Lawrence Marshall—ghost after enormous pile of spring hype.
WDE Ron Johnson—explosive edge rusher needs year of meat sauce
WDE Reuben Jones—needs weight.
SDE Shelton Johnson—probably has to cool his heels and put on more weight.
SDE Carlo Kemp—WEIGHT
NT Michael Dwumfour—Hurst-esque NT/3TECH needs polish, not so much weight.
CB Keith Washington—Breaston-esque HS QB competing at CB, coming off redshirt.
The departures are not over for the basketball team. Michigan assistant Lavall Jordan has taken the head coaching job at UW-Milwaukee:
Milwaukee has hired Michigan LaVall Jordan, sources told ESPN.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 7, 2016
Meanwhile, Bacari Alexander is being heavily rumored as the next coach at Detroit. A coaching shakeup seemed inevitable after the last couple years, and it's probably for the best. Michigan can reset, and now they've got one, maybe two, guys who would be obvious candidates for the head job when Beilein retires.
We'll see what direction Beilein goes in with the new assistant slots. If I was king of the universe I'd suggest he hires someone who's been around the Wisconsin or Virginia programs to be a de-facto "defensive coordinator" for one of the spots. The other one is like whatever man, but just get some dude who's helped some real good defensive teams and get out of his way.