"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Ondre Pipkins already announced he was out, but with Harbaugh asserting he was still on scholarship and would be this fall there was some uncertainty about what would happen. No longer:
Former Michigan DL Ondre Pipkins said he’ll transfer to Texas Tech, sit out this season and play in 2016.
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 17, 2015
Michigan now has another slot to give a walk-on this fall, or they could bring in at fifth-year wide receiver. The latter seems a little far fetched this deep into the offseason.
|Lakeland, FL – 6'3", 225|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#27 SDE, #69 FL
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#58 DE, #106 FL
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#66 SDE, #187 FL
|Other Suitors||Nebraska, MSU, UL, Iowa|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Invented a sandwich. Thinks you should call Tyree Kinnel CHOPMAN.|
The other Florida defensive end in this recruiting class is a trivia answer now and endeavors to become something more than that: Reuben Jones was the First Harbaugh Commit.
It's rash to project program qualities from one coach's take on one recruit, but let's do it anyway. Jones is the kind of guy Harbaugh's going after, because this Rivals article with his coach reveals that…
"Sometimes his desire to be challenged drove me crazy as a football coach. There were some classes that he was taking and he was so locked into his honors classes and AP courses that he'd stay up to 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning to take care of homework and deal with everything in his life. Some of the AP classes were really kicking his butt but he would never get out of them.
"We talked to his mom and he was adamant that he was going to stay in those classes. Once his senior year rolled around he got out of the AP classes and hung in there with the honors classes to make it a little easier on him. His big thing is that he just loves a challenge. He wants to be challenged in everything he does. You can't tell Reuben that he can't do something. He will work hard enough to make sure to show you that he can do it."
…Jones is crazy like Harbaugh. Like Keith Washington, this is a recruit who does not have fancy stars. He does have the approval of Bo Pelini, Mark Dantonio, and Jim Harbaugh—all guys who know a defensive end when they see one. The scouting below is not going to be enthralling, but keep that in mind before you get too down.
Jones burst on to the scene through sheer chance. He grabbed a Rivals camp invite because it was going on at his high school and made the most of his opportunity, blowing through every offensive lineman put opposite him. Rivals ranked him just below five star Byron Cowart on the day and he nailed down his first offers. Analyst Woody Womack on his performance:
"We really liked him, especially in a camp setting because he's so fast off the ball. He's long and lean, and really gives bigger slower guys a hard time with explosion off the edge. In a camp setting, he doesn't lose many reps at all."
That made him into a high major recruit, albeit not a highly touted one. He did lock down two offers from teams you may be familiar with, eventually committing to Nebraska over Michigan State in November. That was just two weeks before Bo Pelini was controversially axed. He was not shy when asked to react:
"I've called players on the team, I've called recruits and we're all talking about what we're going to do," he said. "A lot of guys are saying they want to open up their recruitment. Nebraska is probably going to lose this class because they don't know what they're doing."
He put himself back on the market shortly thereafter, coming up with the most reasonable "committed but looking" explanation in the history of the genre:
Jones was asked if he still wants to be listed as a commitment to Nebraska and he replied: "Yeah, as of right now. Because I don't want to de-commit and be looking crazy if I end up going to Nebraska."
Michigan got in touch through DJ Durkin, he visited, he flipped, and Harbaugh had his first commit.
In Jones, Michigan has acquired another defensive end they'll have to put a bunch of weight on and then see what they've got. Usually such prospects come with universal praise about their explosiveness because that's what gets an undersized guy major college looks. In Jones's case the scouting is more mixed. On the one hand, here's a scouting report from a Nebraska site after his commit:
Jones off of the edge can just get up the field faster than the offensive tackle can kickstep and just runs around the lineman. You see the speed when he shoots the C gap and again when he lines up at the three and basically comes free (running back tries to pick him up).
And ESPN's evaluation is one of those that strenuously disagrees with its ranking of "generic three star":
We see a prospect with tight space and change of direction mobility; does an outstanding job of pursuing the football. … can play with strength at the point of attack, shedding blockers, fighting pressure and working back to the football; this guy doesn't get stuck on blocks. … dominant pass rusher with the explosive first step needed to get even and blow pass offensive tackles; plays with a low center of gravity which allows him to squeeze the top of the pocket. Displays the straight on power needed to knock blockers back on their heels; combines active feet and hand quickness to change up and work back to the inside when seemingly stymied.
On the other, 247's Clint Brewster:
Not the most fleet-footed but Jones has solid straight-line speed down the field. …not much finesse in his game or pure athleticism or lateral agility. More of a heavy-footed guy. … Very solid burst off the ball and can explode through the quarterback or ball carriers. Excellent tenacity. … plays with outstanding toughness and finds a way to win against the offensive tackle.
I am not a scout but I watched the Hudl film in an effort to have an opinion on this divide. I come down on the more reserved end of the spectrum. Jones does have some burst, but even in the highlights it seems like the tackle has coped with it and will push Jones wide of the pocket. His hits and sacks off the edge rush usually come in situations where his pursuit and motor become relevant.
Jones does have a surprising ability to hold up in the run game, something that an opposing coach highlighted in a Tim Sullivan article:
"He was very, very physical at defensive end. He plays the run very well but he has the great speed off the edge. A lot of times we'd double-team him with a tight end or an h-back.
"He doesn't get blown off the ball. He's very explosive and very strong even when getting double teamed. He's going to hold his ground on the line of scrimmage and you are going to have to try and get around him but that's where his quickness comes in. He's tough to handle."
It was odd watching a 220 pound DE prospect and being considerably more impressed by his work as a DT, but here we are.
Jones is going to be an excellent early indicator of Harbaugh's ability to find and develop talent. This is a thing he is excellent at doing, and other than the AP classes the most impressive thing on his resume is the attention he drew from guys who have made three-star DEs into killers.
Reuben Jones is one of those guys that you'll be watching on Saturday and the announcer says, "wonder how this guy got out of Florida".
— Josh Newberg (@joshnewberg247) January 24, 2015
There's work to do here, as Jones told Sam Webb that he's currently 225 and that:
"I’m not looking to try to get a lot bigger, just trying to get a lot faster while I’m here, get a lot quicker. I’m probably going to be at 230 or 232 something like that. Right now, they say I have a great possibility of playing early. ”
That is what they tell all the girls who want to play DL at 230. It's going to be some time before we see what the finished product here is; Jones and Harbaugh and Mattison should combine to make it whatever the best finished product can be.
"He kind of reminds me of Mike Martin. Not like his body-type or anything, but he reminds me so much of him in terms of his motor and work ethic. He's the kind of kid that every coach should have."
Jones recorded 71 tackles and 10 sacks last season as a senior at Lake Gibson, and finished with 27 1/2 sacks during his varsity career.
Why Mario Ojemudia? Explosive but undersized defensive end who needs to add a lot of weight to be plausible and may top out around 250. Jones, like Ojemudia, spent a significant amount of time in high school playing a DT spot. Both were ranked as three stars because of questions about their size. Ojemudia's high school film was a lot more impressive, but Jones is probably playing against better players.
Craig Roh is another potential comparable. Roh was a much bigger recruit but did not live up to that hype. After he stopped bouncing around to linebacker—which was depressing for him and us—and found a place on the defensive line he rounded into a solid run-stopping end. Heady and high motor are two attributes you could apply to both players.
Guru Reliability: High-minus. Healthy guy playing approximately his spot. Didn't go to camps much and will have to put on some weight.
Variance: Moderate. He'll probably work out in some form; he probably won't be an electric star.
Ceiling: Moderate. Size will be an issue and doesn't seem to have the kind of explosiveness that would help mitigate that.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Jones seems like a good bet to be a contributor and maybe a starter. Hard to see a star, but Harbaugh's made hay with these kinds of dudes before.
Projection: I keep saying redshirt redshirt redshirt and Jones is another guy you'd figure is in line for one at 225 or 230. After either a redshirt or sparing time this year, Jones will be in the mixer at WDE (or "buck") and maybe SAM if he ends up Jake Ryan-ish. With Lawrence Marshall and probably Taco Charlton in front of him it'll be year three before Michigan will be banking of Jones to deliver.
Butler Visits, Doesn't Commit
— TONY BUTLER (@TonyKnows2) July 15, 2015
Three-star Lakewood (OH) St. Edward CB Tony Butler, who finally decommitted from Pitt a couple weeks ago, visited campus for a few hours yesterday. While Jim Harbaugh was still in France, Butler spent time with Mike Zordich and his former high school coach, Rick Finotti, and he told Scout's Bill Greene the visit helped Michigan's chances:
"It was helpful spending the time with the person that could be be my position coach some day, rather than talking to a lot of different coaches," he continued. "The visit moved them up with me, and I could see myself in that environment. I feel comfortable there, and think I could fit in well."
While a commitment was in the realm of possibility, that didn't go down, and Butler mentioned that he wants to take all five of his official visits—including one to Michigan. The Wolverines are considered the favorite, so long as they have room and want Butler in the class, but there's a new entry into his recruitment: Clemson, which offered on Tuesday, per 247's Steve Wiltfong. They should receive an official, as well.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Let's have a survey. Not a survey about choosing between winning, graduating, and doin' it the right way. A survey about things that are maybe somewhat interesting.
When Michigan chose to partner with Nike for their next apparel deal, it was rumored they did so while turning down more generous monetary offers from Adidas and Under Armour. The details of the Nike contract have been released, and it's safe to say Jim Hackett struck a pretty solid deal regardless. Via MLive's Brendan Quinn:
According to contract details released by the Michigan athletic department, the university's deal with Nike is worth $169 million over 11 years, making it by far the richest of all apparel deals in collegiate athletics. The contract, which will supply all 31 U‐M athletic programs with uniforms, footwear, apparel and equipment, will pay $76.8 million in cash and $80.2 million in apparel.
Michigan will receive $12 million upfront, followed by $10.1 million-$10.9 million annually in cash and apparel/equipment.
Notre Dame's 10-year contract with Under Armour, which surpassed Michigan's then-record contract with Adidas, is reportedly for $90 million. From Quinn's article, the next-highest contract for a public school is Texas' deal with Nike, which is worth a little over $5.5M/year.
Yes, saying Michigan signed a deal for $Texas may actually be understating things. Take a bow, Jim Hackett.
UPDATE: The $169 million figure is a little misleading, as that apparently includes four option years tacked on to the end of the deal.
W/o option years, U-M & Nike have agreed to 11-year, $122.32 million deal (includes $12 million upfront). The option is 4 years for $46.68
— Brendan F. Quinn (@BFQuinn) July 15, 2015
As part of the still-record-shattering deal, Michigan will make a pretty penny on royalties:
In addition to shattering the record for the largest deal in NCAA history, Michigan will also receive 15-percent royalty rates on apparel purchases. This passes Notre Dame's 13-percent and is believed to be the highest in the country.
Michigan has a 10% royalty rate with Adidas.
Adding to the list of Adidas wrongs. What really irks me is that the only word appearing on the front of the current Michigan football uniform is Adidas. Unlike most schools, U-M jerseys were famously clean of any identifying words- the signature maize & blue color scheme was all that was needed. The simplistic Nike swoosh, though an identifying trademark, is far less noticeable.
Hoarding disease is a problem with a lot of uniforms these days. In an effort to brand brand brand everything they've cluttered the front of the jerseys with a series of logos: Adidas's clunky stripes, the Big Ten logo, legends patches, bowl patches, a block M or three. There is too much stuff on these uniforms:
They're probably dropping the Legends patches and replacing the Adidas Triangle Of Tiny Text with the swoosh will help; they can ease back on the block Ms.
The Big Ten logo is going to remain a grating presence until the end of time. Because you need to be reminded who is in the Big Ten these days. And that Michigan—surprise!—is in it. But some guy gave a presentation where he muttered something about brand equity, so we're stuck with it. The best they could do is something like they did at Crisler:
Michigan technically complies with the league mandate to have the Big Ten logo on the floor… very technically. If Michigan could get away with a blue-on-blue Big Ten logo that would improve things. I bet some clever person in the league office has already put in a regulation against it, unfortunately.
Maybe a step too far.
Am I crazy for thinking that this is the best look for the away uniform?? Obviously the jersey will be Nike but I love the simple all white jersey and blue numbers. There is enough maize on the helmet and the pants. Maybe put the Block M or number each shoulder pad. I just think simple is better and this jersey is sharp.
I like simple. That might be a bit too simple even for me. It gives off too much of a generic vibe. Is that a Michigan jersey or a random high school from 1950? I do not know.
The above does avoid the clutter mentioned above. It even avoids the many, many iterations of maize trim that have never really come off:
I am so done with maize piping, and maize outlines on the numbers, and maize maize maize on a white road jersey. But the above suggestion needs something to distinguish it. The correct number of design elements isn't a jiggityzillion but it's not zero unless you're Penn State.
Maybe the stripes from the Sugar Bowl jersey:
That everyone liked those is indicative of how low our expectations are these days. I thought they were fine and they have the chest clutter—this partially self-inflicted with a superfluous block M—and weird thin numbers that kind of make it look like everyone is wearing a kids' size. But they weren't a collaboration between a six year old with a glitter gun and the first guy cut on every season of Project Runway so we liked 'em.
[After the JUMP: Bo Xs and Os, and moar Nike.]
Golf is complicated. I used to play all the time because my apartment was on a course and it was an excuse to hang out with certain buddies. But I never got past a level where anyone you golf with thinks it's their duty to correct every muscle twitch in your swing.
You start by having your body perfectly balanced: hips back, torso forward, knees bent, so you don't have re-balance to move. Then you push back, and angle down, checking to make sure the arch of your back is in line with your kneecap and the ball of your foot. Push your hips back, angle your spine toward the ball, flex your knees slightly, check your posture, and set your right side lower than your left so that the ball is in line with the left side of your face and the clubface is facing the target. Start your swing with clubhead first, then hands, arms, shoulders, hips, and shift your weight as your swing comes across your knees, keeping your wrists…
[So a five iron does sink. Good to know.]
Playing to that point did give me quite an appreciation for the guys who do it well. The pros may not move at the speed of Denard, but encoding all of that stuff into perfect muscle memory is absolutely an athletic skill. So I watch the majors, if not with the same gusto as football/hockey—more like the peaceful appreciation I have for baseball.
Also because there's $3 million on the line.
Our fantasy partner Draft Kings is having their biggest game yet to coincide with this week's golf tournament. THREE MILLION DOLLARS will be in the pool. The winner takes home $1 million. And the best part: you don't have to know how to swing a golf club; just know who does it well.
- $3,000,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $1,000,000
- Enter for $20
- Top 37,676 win money
- Starts on Thursday, July 16th
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 6 golfers
The Highlights: WolverineHistorian
The Setup: Despite giving up just three offensive touchdowns all season, Michigan entered The Game looking to prevent Ohio State from a chance at the Rose Bowl; a Buckeye win combined with an Iowa loss would send OSU to Pasadena because of M's last-second loss to the Hawkeyes five weeks prior. The Wolverines still had plenty to play for: avenging the previous year's 21-6 defeat to OSU and making another New Year's Day game.
While the leadup to the 1986 edition of The Game would live on in Michigan lore, the week before the 1985 version was pretty eventful, too. Bo Schembechler suspended kicker Mike Gillette and kickoff specialist Rick Sutkiewicz that week for unspecified violations of team rules, leaving redshirt junior Pat Moons, who'd never attempted a field goal in his career, to handle both jobs.
Ohio State had a wheelchair-bound Woody Hayes give a pep talk before the team made the trip up to Ann Arbor. Bo Schembechler one-upped his friend by bringing in... Bo Derek. Seriously, there's an archived LA Times piece with an incredible Harbaugh quote to prove it:
The last few days were particularly enjoyable. The Michigan coach's friend and namesake, Bo Derek, stopped in Michigan to pick up a custom-made Lincoln Continental at a local auto plant. The Schembechlers invited her to their home for dinner, and she also dropped by Thursday's practice.
Derek really didn't do much except pose for Polaroids with the players. Harbaugh taped his to his locker. "To see her was pretty impressive," the quarterback said. "Although she did look kind of nervous around so many big guys. It's probably because she's so short. Oooh. Maybe I'd better not say that."
Maybe not, but then you wouldn't be Jim Harbaugh, and we'd all be worse off.
[Hit THE JUMP.]
I'M IN FRANCE. Harbaugh in the city of lights.
Bonjour! Go Blue! pic.twitter.com/EoBL4i5Svh
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) July 11, 2015
This has no doubt angered many SEC coaches and Frenchmen. The number of people who have pretended not to speak English as Harbaugh increases his volume level to jet-takeoff levels must be truly prodigious. I would watch a reality show of this. "Football Coach Vacations." This is a million dollar idea.
Random. Denard Robinson retweeted this.
— HotNewHipHop (@HotNewHipHop) July 13, 2015
That Wiz Khalifa is a card.
Skate with Jack Johnson. August 1st at the Cube, for charity. MGoBlog not responsible if Jack Johnson turns you into a pylon or a bird or is just so pretty on skates that you forget how to drive. Jeff Moss will be there, too! You can find out if he is a real person or just a floating sack of anger!
TJ Weist, 1992. Via Dr. Sap:
Northwestern, 1981. Via Wolverine Historian:
Also 2002 Minnesota.
…Al? Syracuse used one cadence last year.
Since he was officially named the Syracuse Orange offensive coordinator for 2015, Tim Lester's been a bit of a sharer. We're fine with that since it's nice to actually get updates from the football staff, especially with the honesty and candor he seems to deliver it all.
Sometimes it's a point of debate.
Sometimes it's just a description of the Orange offense, compared to last year.
And others, it's a something that will send you into fits of rage, directly aimed at George McDonald, first and foremost:
If Syracuse tried other cadences, the linemen "wouldn't have been able to stay onside," because reasons. This makes me feel slightly better about Tyus Battle.
…Rich? Let's check in on Kansas.
The Jayhawks would finish 1-11 in 2012, and with the roster ailing, Weis desired a quick-fix strategy for what he once famously called a “pile of crap.” In early 2013, Weis signed 16 junior-college recruits in a 25-man class. If a majority of the players hit, Weis figured, perhaps Kansas could claw to respectability in a year or two.
The move was a massive failure. By last fall, just eight of those players remained in the program. The volume of junior-college players — many of whom were borderline qualifiers and academic risks — weighed down the program. Six of those junior-college recruits — including highly touted players Marquel Combs, Kevin Short and Chris Martin — never played a down. After senior safety Isaiah Johnson transferred to South Carolina in the spring, and defensive lineman Andrew Bolton left the team this month, not one of those 16 junior-college players remains on the roster.
So here we are, two years later, and just five players remain from Kansas’ 2013 recruiting class.
This fall, Kansas has 60 scholarship players. It's a self-imposed punishment twice as bad as anything that happened to USC or Penn State. Charlie Weis is the king of "people in charge of things are just in charge of them for no reason."
More on cable bubbles. The WSJ has an article on ESPN doing something they haven't even had to think about in a long time: belt-tightening. Cord cutting is on in earnest and it's no surprise that the most expensive channel is amongst the most affected:
Only the Weather Channel—which is now completely superfluous thanks to the internet—is suffering more. The WSJ attributes Keith Olbermann's departure to simple finances. It is not hard to trace a line from ESPN's current trend and the long-term contracts they have signed with sports leagues and find a point at which it is impossible for them to make money.
ESPN has lost enough subscribers that they have the contractual right to yank their channels from Dish's $20 Sling service. Meanwhile, they are limited in their ability to move to a Netflix/HBO model since if they introduce a stand-alone service cable providers can sell ESPN a la carte—a disaster for a channel that gets six bucks from my grandmother.
Fred Jackson was right! Sort of! Via Austin Roberts, another running back makes good after he departs Michigan:
Another “real bright spot” was running back Thomas Rawls, a 5-foot-l9, 215-pound undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Michigan.
“I love his style of running,” Carroll said. “He’s really a head-knocker. He really goes after guys and when you guys get to see him put the pads on you’ll see how physical of a runner he is. He had play after play in college of just smacking people and running and breaking tackles and all that. He showed very good feet, he caught the ball well, he’s going to be a very-willing blocker.”
All of those came against Purdue or at CMU. Remember when Michigan's running game was so good it got their running backs drafted too early? Those were different times right there. By the end Jackson was stealing money. And various beverages. Holding him over on coaching staff after coaching staff was a major sign of the complacency that overtook the program over the past decade.
Gary Danielson was not right and has never been right. Gary Danielson is pretty good at looking at one specific play and telling you what happened on it. Once you get any more abstract, he turns into a parody of sports commentary. The latest example is Danielson fretting that the SEC is going to lose its way because it might try to score some points.
“The big advantage the SEC had against other conferences was they were the most physical, NFL-like conference there was,” he said. “If they try to morph too much into becoming a fantasy league, they are going to cede their position as the toughest and best conference in college football.”
"Fantasy league." Gary Danielson saying that after Urban Meyer, who was rather successful in the SEC, blew Alabama to bits with his third string QB is a top ten "Is Gary Danielson Having A Stroke?" moment.
Etc.: Hire a Beilein, you get to play a Beilein. Brandon Graham back in town for a bit. You are on the Butkus watch list. Smart Football made another book, which you should buy. BLOOM COUNTY BACK? The Graham Couch bot is either becoming self-aware or has improved its trolling algorithm. Jim Hackett is the best.
Closing The Opening: Michigan Commits
"Keep it up and I might return the hug." — Tim Drevno
The Elite11/The Opening camp bonanza finally wrapped up, and both Michigan commits to participate fared well. Despite not being able to show off arguably his greatest strength, Michael Onwenu made 247's top performer list again at the end of the week:
The Michigan commit is almost immovable at 371 pounds. On a rep-by-rep basis, very few offensive linemen have had the success Onwenu has had in the pass-rush one-on-ones. Because his state's high school athletic association doesn't allow him to wear pads, Onwenu didn't compete in the run-blocking drills but that would seem to be an even better setting for his skill set.
In one of the highlights of the camp, he faced off against Ohio State commit Jonathan Cooper in one-on-ones and won a rep with authority:
A 371-pound guard facing the top edge-rushers in the country should not be able to do that. The counselors agreed; they selected Onwenu for the all-tournament team.
After moving in and out of the offical list throughout the week, Brandon Peters ended up
finishing 10th in the Elite 11. [EDIT: Because the Elite 11 tries to be as useless as possible, apparently, they put players in alphabetical order after winner Shea Patterson, so Peters finished somewhere between 2nd and 11th.] As was the case early last week, Peters impressed onlookers even more than the counselors (maybe?), finishing seventh on 247's Barton Simmons' list:
Peters is one of the best quarterbacks in the Elite 11 from release to completion. The ball is always on target with spin and velocity. If he picks up the pace in his drops and delivery, adds some more urgency, he has a chance to be one of the best quarterbacks in this group.
The word on Peters is pretty consistent these days: strong, accurate arm; good athleticism for a "pro-style" QB; excellent potential if he corrects some technical flaws.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]