Michigan is now up to three commits from the spring game weekend visitors, as Prattville (AL) running back Kingston Davis announced his decision this morning:
I AM NOW COMMITTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN!! #GoBlue
— KingDavis™ (@_King_LD) April 6, 2015
Davis is a former high school teammate of 2015 signee Keith Washington, and Michigan will hold one of their satellite camps at Prattville in June. Davis is the fifth commit in the 2016 class and the first at running back.
|3*, #100 RB||3*, NR RB||NR RB||3*, 82, #3 FB||
3*, #3 FB,
Davis isn't yet regarded as a big-time recruit, though he looks like a player who could move up quickly upon further evaluation. He played behind four-star 2014 Auburn signee Kamryn Pettway as a sophomore, and last season he earned the plurality of carries in a talented three-back rotation while also playing in an offense that featured Washington utilizing his legs quite a bit as a dual-threat quarterback. Rivals currently lists him as the #24 prospect in Alabama, but their AlabamaVarsity outlet ranked him as the #16 recruit in the state in February.
The four sites are in general agreement regarding Davis' size, and he's a bruiser at 6'1", 230-ish pounds. Michigan is recruiting him as a running back, not a fullback, which gives you an idea of the type of size Jim Harbaugh envisions his offense having in a couple years.
There isn't a ton out there on Davis yet, and what has been written usually focuses on his size. At the RCS Atlanta a couple weeks ago, Rivals' Woody Wommack took notice of the big back ($):
Davis stood out physically as one of the biggest backs in attendance. At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, he's as big as some of the linebackers he faced, and had a ton of success during one-on-ones. Depending on where he plays his college ball, it looks like Davis could play any number of positions.
Power backs aren't usually the type to stand out in a camp setting, when they're running routes, not smashing between the tackles, so that's an encouraging sign for Davis' potential as an every-down back.
Scout analyst John Garcia Jr. has the most complete scouting report, which he posted on The Victors Club after Davis committed ($):
Davis (PROFILE) is a bruiser of a back at 6-foot, 215-plus, but he's consistent with carrying the load as well. While he's a one-cut guy by nature, he is also a willing blocker and has better hands out of the backfield than given credit for. In the state of Alabama, which is RB heavy in 2016, I have Davis as a top 5 back because of how he consistently gets chunk yardage. He can get low with his pads and run with the power everyone expects him to, but has solid feet in the open field as well, making many miss without too much wasted motion. At the next level, I can see him as a hybrid RB/FB/H-back type depending on how his body continues to develop. Of course, he has ties to UM through his teammate Keith Washington, who signed with UM after playing QB for Prattville in 2014. The two were one of the best one-two punches in the state.
As you'll see in his film, Davis has some wiggle when he breaks into the secondary, and while he's not a pure burner, he's got good burst when he hits the line.
247's Clint Brewster broke down the tape in the wake of the commitment, and it sounds like Davis will fit in well in Harbaugh's system, which rewards patient runners:
He's a tough runner that can also make subtle cuts in the open field to extend runs and take advantage of creases. He has good vision behind the line of scrimmage as to where to hit the hole and explode. Not great maneuverability through the hole or change of direction agility but he's got deceptive straight line speed. He's got a knack for getting to the second level and outrunning guys. Shows good power to run through tackles when he keeps his pad level low. He's a patient but decisive runner with a forward lean and a physical style that makes him a tough guy to slow down once he gains steam.
Davis told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz an encouraging high school stat ($):
“My junior year we just got a new running backs coach and had to learn to work with each other,” Davis said. “Blocking was a key factor this year and I led my team with 1,400-yards and 15 touchdowns.
“I’ve fumbled only one time in my high school career so that’s a big plus.”
Indeed. Davis also told Garcia what he'd like to work on as a senior:
"I want to maintain, maybe add a little more weight, work on some speed and get a lot faster," Davis said. "I'm more comfortable this year, I'm hitting the hole hard, blocking my tail off and doing the best I can do."
Tyrone Wheatley was Michigan's primary recruiter for Davis, and the youngster apparently reminded Wheatley of a running back with whom he's quite familiar, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"They want me to get up there, and they want me to play right away. That was a big part of it for me. I'll fit right into their system, and he really wants me up there. He said that I reminded me of himself, of Tyrone Wheatley. He was a big back, but fast and quick. I can run people over, and he said he really needs one of those guys up there."
While he doesn't quite have Wheatley's world-class speed yet (the former Michigan standout ran a 10.46-second 100-meter dash as a Wolverine), he's capable of sub-11-second times in the sprint event, and has put down an 11.5-second time this spring.
I'm okay with a Wheatley-approved Wheatley-type.
Davis also held offers from Louisville, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Georgia Southern, Texas State, and Troy. Rivals reports he had interest, but no offers, from Alabama and Auburn.
In addition to Michigan freshman-to-be Washington, Prattville has produced several FBS-caliber recruits in the Rivals era, most notably 2010 four-star Nick Perry, who started for the Tide at safety in 2014, and four-star 2012 athlete Justin Thomas, last year's starting quarterback in Georgia Tech's option offense.
Per MaxPreps, Davis rushed for 1432 yards and eight touchdowns on 192 carries (7.5 YPC) as a junior, adding 114 yards and another score on seven receptions. He carried the ball 70 times for 537 yards (7.7 YPC) and six TDs as a sophomore.
FAKE 40 TIME
Davis' Hudl page lists a 4.50, which gets four FAKEs out of five.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan doesn't have any senior running backs on the roster, so unless Davis proves he's better than much more experienced players, he should take a redshirt in 2016, even though he's got college-ready size. After that, he'll compete with Ty Isaac, Karan Higdon, and likely another 2016 back for carries.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Davis is the fifth commit in a class that currently projects to just 14 recruits by our count, though the coaches clearly expect that number to rise significantly given the #Fab25 hashtag being bandied about by recent commits. Michigan is very likely to pursue another running back, and a few current prospects holding offers stand out as decent possibilities to join the class: four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon, who has Tennessee edging out Michigan at the moment; four-star NC RB Robert Washington recently named Michigan to his top five; and three-star IN RB Toks Akinribade responded positively to a recent offer.
Taking a broader view, this provides further evidence Harbaugh's staff is going to pull in a lot more players from SEC country than their predecessors:
Harbaugh's had five commitments from the southeastern part of the country since January. Hoke had 3 in the last three years
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 6, 2015
Add in the renewed focus on California and Texas, and it's clear Harbaugh's recruiting is going to take on a more national flavor than Hoke's did.
John Beilein picked up his first commit of the 2015 class today when German forward Moritz Wagner announced he'll attend Michigan:
Proud that I gonna be a Wolverine and a part of ichigan next year. Damn grateful for what Alba did for me! This is my club &always will be
— Moe Wagner (@moritz_weasley) April 5, 2015
Wagner chose the college route over playing professionally in Germany for Alba Berlin. Beilein traveled to watch Wagner play for his club team last year, and Michigan jumped to the forefront of Wagner's recruitment when they offered him last month during a campus visit.
|NR PF||NR PF||--||--||--|
The recruiting services don't evaluate overseas players, so Wagner is unranked across the board. He's listed at 6'9", 210 on Rivals, which fits with reports that he isn't quite a full 6'10", which he was listed at on several sites. When Wagner visited Ann Arbor, Rivals' Eric Bossi found a scout to give his thoughts on where Wagner would be ranked if he were an American prospect:
So, exactly what type of player is Wagner? Rivals.com spoke with an NBA scout over the weekend and the scout said Moritz isn't likely as tall as the 6-foot-10 he's being listed at, but he is plenty big to play as a college four man. The scout said Wagner has good touch, is clever with the ball and that he competes on both ends of the floor.
"He's not a guy that is on our radar as somebody who is going to be a pro right away," said the scout. "He's somebody that we see going to college and then we'll see from there. I'd look at him as a top-20 to top-40 type recruit if he were in the States."
That would put him towards the tail end of the five-stars or among the top four-stars, which... yeah, that sounds nice.
Scout's Evan Daniels caught up with an NBA Scout to get his take on Wagner's game:
From the video I’ve been able to get my hands on, Wagner’s all around skill set is what immediately stands out. He has impressive hands, good touch around the basket and can score both facing the rim and with his back to it.
“He’s a versatile kid who knows how to play ball,” a NBA scout that has evaluated him multiple times told Scout. “He’s not an athlete, but with his length and coordination he manages to deceive his opponents and get to the rack quiet easily. Once he becomes a more consistent shooter he will be a nightmare on the wing.”
“He reads the game well, gets his teammates involved and is unselfish player,” the NBA scout added. “The most impressive thing about him is his passion for the game and the will to win. He legitimately cares for the game.”
This scouting report from European Prospects comes from last May:
The young Moritz Wagner is a really interesting prospect for the future. Used as a PF on multiple occasions, Wagner showed that he has an outside game and that his future should be on the SF position. He can shoot from outside, either on catch-and-shoot situations or in the Pick and Pop when being the screener. Wagner can also put the ball on the floor which works particularly well when used against taller power forwards. He is also able to drive with direction changes and finish against stronger or taller players in the paint. Athletically, he is looking good and with his overall length, he is a good vertical presence on both sides of the court. Wagner really needs to be used on the wing positions in the future as he has the tools to become an interesting long small forward in the future.
Wagner still needs to hone his outside shot, but he's got great length for a Beilein wing, and he should be able to create offense off the dribble. While he isn't regarded as a one-and-done talent, his German team very much wanted to sign him to a pro contract, but Wagner reportedly wants to make it to the NBA and believes Michigan provides him the best path to get there.
Wagner's narrow focus on Michigan didn't allow for many other schools to come under serious consideration. When he was planning his visit, he'd also heard from Arizona, Auburn, Cal, Duke, Providence, Virginia, and UNLV. That's a pretty impressive list of suitors for an overseas prospect making a late decision.
In the NBBL (German youth league), Wagner is averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, two assists and two steals per game while shooting 61% on twos and 30% on threes. He also averaged 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds during the Adidas Next Generation U18 Tournament, helping Alba Berlin to a third-place finish.
Playing with Germany’s U18 team in the FIBA Euro Championships, Wagner averaged 5.2 points and three rebounds in 10 minutes a game.
The outside shot needs some work, but that's some impressive efficiency inside the arc.
Going from most to least recent:
While his athleticism doesn't jump off the screen, his skill level is apparent.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Wagner is going to need some time adding bulk at Camp Sanderson, and his slight physique—and still-developing shot—may limit his minutes as a freshman, especially if Caris LeVert comes back and a logjam results on the wings. He'll most likely be competing with Duncan Robinson and Kameron Chatman for a spot in the rotation, and of the three we've only been able to see Chatman play at this level.
Down the road, he's a very intriguing prospect. Michigan really missed having a player at the four who could create off the dribble, and while Aubrey Dawkins made some progress in that regard late in the season, Wagner looks like the most polished slasher among the guys who could play at that spot. If his outside shot comes along, he could be a very impactful stretch four.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wagner's commitment means Michigan is currently at the scholarship limit for 2015-16, and that's assuming Max Bielfeldt will move on to another program for his fifth year, as expected. If LeVert departed for the NBA, that'd open up a spot. Michigan is still in pursuit of five-star 2015 forward Jaylen Brown, and should he decide he wants to attend, it's hard to imagine Michigan wouldn't have a spot for him, perhaps by putting Austin Hatch on medical scholarship; there have been some positive indicators for Brown since his visit, but he's still expected to end up elsewhere.
Unless Brown makes a surprise choice to come to Michigan, this should be the conclusion of the program's 2015 recruiting.
He tries to sic these guys on you if you ask a dumb question [Eric Upchurch]
News bullets and other items:
Shane Morris is ahead of the other quarterbacks, though Harbaugh said the competition will “rage on”
Harbaugh liked the way the defense performed, singling out the secondary and inside pass rush. He also thought Shane Morris and Amara Darboh did a nice job.
He said there’s room for improvement in receivers learning to catch contested balls, the running game as a whole, and outside pass rushing.
Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr had a large part in designing the trick plays; Harbaugh said he was hands-off in that process
Harbaugh said the legal system has as much hanging over Graham Glasgow’s head as is possible, noting that it’s more than what the football program could do; it sounds like he won’t be suspended if there are no further incidents.
Players with long-term injuries noted were Joe Hewlett (unspecified), Mike McCray (surgery, not sure for what), and Michael Wroblewski (ACL).
Dennis Norfleet may play on offense, defense, and special teams in the fall
Your general takeaways from today? What did you like, what maybe obviously needs work still?
“Liked a lot of things. Mainly [the] thing I liked the most is we played a 40-minute game and there was no injuries that I could tell, none at least that aren’t the you-don’t-come-back-from-soon type, so I’m most pleased with that.
“There’s, uh, there’s- obviously the defense played extremely well. There’s been a lot of improvement in our secondary; that showed up again today. And pass rush, uh, pass rush is improving. Got some rush and push from our inside guys and we’ll continue to try and get the outside pass rush. That’s an area that we want to improve, especially when it’s a four-man rush, to be able to get pressure on the quarterback just with the four.
“I thought Shane Morris did a nice job. Amara Darboh made some nice catches and that’s an area that we need to keep working on, receivers that can make the catch when it’s contested, make the tough catch.
“Running game at times was okay. You know it’s not going to be real good in a spring game especially with the format that we had which was a draft, so offensive linemen are playing in different combinations than they’re used to. But overall we had the one fumble, we had the two turnovers, and with the interceptions but quarterback play I thought was good. Multiple errors [but] I thought it was good.
“To sum it all up I’m most pleased there weren’t any serious injuries today. Come out healthy, and that’ll propel us into April and May.”
I know it was just a spring game but for you to be back inside the Big House, what was it like for you personally?
“It was good. It was a great turnout, I thought. I mean, that’s a hundred-thousand-and-ten people seat stadium and to see that many seats filled was great. It really means a lot. Much appreciated. I know our players appreciate that, the turnout for the 2015 spring game. Added to it, you know. Really added to the atmosphere. Made it like a game. [I] don’t think of it just as a spring game, think of it as a game, and I know that our players had those feelings, those emotions of it being a game before the game and until they took their first hits so that’s something that’ll bode well for us.”
You had several players that were missing from the game: Taco Charlton, Mario Ojemudia, [Ondre] Pipkins. Are any of those long-term concerns or were they just players that were banged up?
“Yeah, we had multiple players that are working through something right now.”
Are any of them long-term, though?
“I’m not a doctor.”
“I did not get my medical degree at the University of Michigan.”
[After THE JUMP: Talkin’ about the ol’ depth chart]
— REES April 4, 2015
It didn't take long for Michigan to land their second pledge of the weekend, as 2016 Farmington (MI) FB/ILB David Reese flipped his commitment from Louisville prior to the spring game, per multiple outlets. Reese was being recruited by most schools as an inside linebacker, but has committed to Michigan as a fullback. He'll immediately get to work trying to get more in-state prospects into the fold, including his Farmington teammate, WR Desmond Fitzpatrick:
Reese planned to commit to Michigan heading into the weekend. Said he'll recruit Desmond Fitzpatrick, Donnie Corley, Khalid Kareem
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 4, 2015
Reese is the fourth commit in the 2016 class, and the first at fullback; he'd be the second linebacker in the class, joining Dele' Harding, should he end up on defense.
This post has been updated.
|3*, #9 MLB||3*, #17 ILB||3*, NR ILB||
3*, 87, #14 ILB,
3*, #18 ILB,
All four sites peg Reese as a three-star inside linebacker. At 6'1", 235 pounds, he certainly has the build of a inside 'backer or a fullback.
While Reese is being recruited by Michigan as a fullback, nobody's really evaluated him there, and it's not like there's too much to say about a fullback recruit aside from "he's big enough and likes hitting people, so that should work out." Reese fits that mold. Given Jim Harbaugh's proclivity for testing out players on both sides of the ball, it's worth exploring how he measures up as an inside linebacker; he should at least get a chance to make an impact on defense.
Despite not being the type of player that would normally thrive in a camp setting, Reese has been impressive on the camp circuit. Tim Sullivan named him one of the top linebackers at last May's RCS Detroit ($):
Reese looks like a tweener between defensive end and linebacker, and in fact he played both positions during the course of the day (whereas most of the other defenders who played multiple positions were linebacker/safety types). A true middle linebacker type is expected to struggle in a passing camp, and though Reese wasn't flawless, he lived up to expectations, at the very least.
Rivals analyst Josh Helmholdt slotted him as the #3 overall performer at December's Adidas Showcase in Pontiac ($):
You can count on Reese showing up wherever there is an opportunity to compete. He is constantly working to elevate his game and always gives 100 percent. Camps should not be ideal settings for the stout 6-foot-1, 225-pound Reese. He is a run-stuffing, head-knocking middle linebacker, yet he consistently surprises by how well he plays in space and his ability to stick with running backs and tight ends in pass coverage.
Scout's Allen Trieu provides an evaluation of Reese's play when there's actual 11-on-11 football to be played, and as you'd expect, his run-stuffing ability comes to the forefront ($):
Reese is a big, powerful kid who is built like a college linebacker already. He has a nose for the ball, as evidenced by his high tackle numbers each of the last two seasons. He's come-forward kid who reads his keys and is not afraid to take on and absorb contact from lead blockers. Physicality is not an issue. He's a big hitter who plays aggressively. He has good tackling technique. You rarely see him take on ball carriers or blockers too high. Where he can continue to improve is in space. He has worked on that and we've seen the strides he's made in coverage.
Finally, here's an excerpt from 247's Clint Brewster's free film breakdown:
Reese doesn't have the biggest frame at around 6-foot, and 230-pounds but he packs a punch. He's got the tenacity you like inside the box and wins in tight spaces. His timing when he shoots the gap is outstanding on run plays and when he's blitzing. He makes a ton of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Reese doesn't have great agility but he takes great angles in the open field to make a tackle and he's got good straight line speed. Reese tackles low and wins the leverage battle because he's built low to the ground with good strength overall. Reese has strong and active hands and his leverage and lower body strength frees him from blocks. Highly aggressive player you want on the inside. Solid in coverage but not great.
It certainly sounds like Michigan should at least give him a shot on defense; at the very least, his ability to utilize leverage and willingness to hit people should make him a solid fullback.
Reese held offers from Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Pitt, and most of the MAC.
Farmington High School hadn't produced a Power Five commit during the Rivals era (2002-present) until Reese and Fitzpatrick pledged to Louisville.
Per Scout, Reese had 117 tackles and six sacks as a junior, and recorded 108 tackles as a sophomore.
FAKE 40 TIME
Despite the multiple camp appearances, none listed.
Sophomore highlights, freshman highlights, and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If Reese starts his Michigan career on offense, he should get a chance to play right away; fullbacks Joe Kerridge and Sione Houma are both in their final season of eligibility.
Should Reese get a crack at defense, he'd likely either take a redshirt year or moonlight as a fullback, then work his way into the rotation for a year before completing to replace Mike McCray at middle linebacker.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan should be set at fullback, at the very least.
Brandon Peters is Michigan's third 2016 commit. [Photo: 247 Sports]
The big spring game visit weekend is off to a strong start, as four-star 2016 Avon (IN) QB Brandon Peters announced his commitment to Michigan:
— Brandon Peters (@Bpeters2118) April 4, 2015
I know, I know, he'll figure it out.
Michigan offered Peters in February and quickly emerged as the leader in his recruitment. He also held offers from Arkansas, Iowa, LSU, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin, among several others. Peters joins four-star OL Erik Swenson and three-star LB Dele' Harding in Michigan's 2016 class.
This post has been updated.
|4*, #20 QB||
4*, #5 P-QB,
4*, 81, #12 P-QB,
4*, 93, #7 P-QB,
4*, #9 P-QB,
Peters is regarded as one of the nation's better pro-style quarterbacks, placing in the top lists on every site except Scout. He's listed at 6'4", 195-ish pounds on all but 247 (6'5", 205), so he fits with Jim Harbaugh's preference of having a quarterback taller than... Jim Harbaugh (6'3").
Peters isn't exactly a late riser, but he's also not a recruit who hit a ton of camps early; most of the recruiting services didn't get around to him until he excelled in his junior season. Rivals bumped him from unranked all the way up to #198 overall in December, once Josh Helmholdt had a chance to evaluate one of his games in person ($):
Besides having great height, Peters also has a very efficient arm motion that produces a lot of velocity. His accuracy was off for most of the game, but I suspect that had more to do with the Lawrence Central defense providing a lot of pressure than any mechanical issues.
Two things that took Peters from simply a thrower to a true quarterback, though, were his athleticism and his guts. With his team down late in the third quarter, Peters willed things to happen on the football field that led to touchdowns and, ultimately, the win. That's the intangibles aspect that is so often discussed, but so hard to come by. Part of his success was being able to move outside the pocket and make throws or pick up yards on the ground.
Scout's Allen Trieu noted that Peters made "huge strides" between his sophomore and junior seasons, praising his athleticism, pocket presence, and ability to read defenses ($):
He's a good athlete who can move around the pocket and escape pressure, then make plays with his feet. He shows a good sense of where pressure is coming from and has good pocket presence. What he does very well is get rid of the ball quickly. He makes quick reads, seems to understand defenses and where his receives will be and does not hold onto the ball too long. He has a good arm and can the ball into tight windows and downfield. He's probably not quite elite in the arm strength category, but it's very good and he can make all the throws on the field.
ESPN's underclassman evaluation doesn't laud his athleticism as much as the others, but they would like his fit in Harbaugh's offense ($):
STRENGTHS: Is a prototypical sized pocket passer with time to mature and grow into his big frame. Sees the field very well given his measurables. He's smart pre-snap and understands defensive coverages. Gets the ball out quickly and accurately to his receivers. He has the ability to make all the throws necessary at this stage. Shows a powerful delivery. Can drive the ball downfield. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Is just an average athlete. Not a guy that can improvise. His big frame will allow for added strength/weight over time. Can be more consistent with his footwork and set up. Delivery can be a bit long at times. ... BOTTOM LINE: Peters has all the tools to be a very productive college quarterback from within the pocket. He's only going to become bigger and more physically imposing as a passer over time. Is an ideal fit for multiple, pro-style attacks.
Peters moved into the Top247 in March, and when explaining the rankings bump 247's Barton Simmons noted an important point about his coaching and potential for improvement:
At 6-5, 205 pounds, we love the frame that Peters has to work with. We also love that Peters is a star on the basketball court and has the kind of functional pocket athleticism to be a effective in chaos. Peters is also a prospect that doesn't have year round private quarterback instruction so as good as he looks now on film, we think he can continue to improve dramatically in college as he focuses in on football year round. While we're anxious to get an in-person evaluation on Peters this spring, we're ready to put him in the discussion among the nation's top passers.
That basketball experience helps Peters with his athleticism; once he fully focuses on football, the more technical aspects of his game should progress quickly.
Peters held offers from Arkansas, Boston College, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Miami (OH), Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.
Avon High School's football site doesn't exactly provide much insight into the team's past success. According to the Rivals database, Peters is the third four-star prospect to come out of Avon since 2002, joining 2009 Georgia signee Montez Robinson and 2013 Auburn signee Elijah Daniel, both defensive ends.
Per 247, Peters completed 148 of 263 attempts (56.3%) for 1876 yards (7.1 YPA), 21 touchdowns, and six interceptions as a junior. He added 244 yards and five TDs on 73 rushes (3.3 YPC).
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites lists a 40 time.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Peters will join what has suddenly become a very crowded group of quarterbacks. With only Jake Rudock set to depart after this season, Peters will step in behind a senior Shane Morris, junior John O'Korn (Houston transfer), sophomore Wilton Speight, and this year's freshman duo of Alex Malzone and Zach Gentry (who'll either have freshman or sophomore eligibility) in 2016. A redshirt undoubtedly beckons, likely followed by an apprenticeship before he competes for a spot on the two-deep.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Peters is the third commitment in the 2016 class, and the first at quarterback; while this is currently projected as a small class—our depth chart by class projects 14 open spots, though that number will undoubtedly grow with attrition—it's possible Harbaugh will pursue another quarterback, given his preference to take two per class.
Adam asked and we received:
— UGP Ann Arbor (@UGPGoBlue) April 2, 2015
If You Could Go Back. Deadspin recently had one of those articles asking fans what one event they would change if they could have one. I would choose to go back to when I found an ancient lamp and have it produce an unlimited wishes genie. Then I'd have Gingell kick that field goal at the end of that game when an I-AA team almost upset us, and sigh in relief that Crable's juuuuust a bit late hit on Troy Smith didn't ruin Michigan's national championship season in 2006. Then I'd spend about five wishes per play on Gardner's career, all of them on "this time ____ blocks somebody and…"
Another dude tried a thread on alternate histories. Dominoes in college football are particularly um, dominoe-y. If you imagine Carr goes out on top in 2006 Michigan might have anointed DeBord as Lloyd desired, or made a play for Saban, or most likely settled on the top candidate at a Midwest school, Cincinnati's Mark Dantonio.
And It Was All Yellow. The spring game lately has been more of a public punting practice but there's actually a long tradition behind what used be called the Blue-White Game (yes Penn State uses this name as well). The first reference Wolverine Devotee could find in the papers was for Kipke's 1930 team, but it may have started earlier. Here are the 1930 and 1934 articles he referenced:
Return of the Fritz. This is an interesting alignment snapped from a spring practice video:
Harbaugh likes to go heavy so not very surprised they'd bring back our favorite Gopher killer. Not sure if that's A.J. Williams split wide. There's a cool triple-option veer they used to run out of this at Nevada with Kaepernick that I'd love to see brought to Michigan.
Survey. Same guy who capped the above does that informal survey of people who will click on a survey link on this blog. Please be one of those people.
Etc. So long Michigan Men's Football Experience, and Women's Football Academy, things that people found awesome but had to go with the coaches' needing all the time they can spare for football things. Sauce Castillo Night in Sacramento—if you want the MGoShirt order fast before people with copyright attorneys on retainer decide they came up with it first. More practice video.
How is this still a thing?
Brady Hoke is watching a Mike DeBord offense to study football. I do not have a joke.
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) April 1, 2015
Mike DeBord offense. How is this still a thing?
Your Moment of Zen:
Looking forward to tomorrow's event. Logistical details can be found here.
It's going to be a bit strange. Michigan has never had an actual spring game before. Carr generally provided an open practice with an attached scrimmage and was all too happy to cancel the thing if given any pretext to. Rodriguez seemed to want to play a game but having only seven offensive linemen rather prohibited that. Hoke was cut from Carr's cloth; if possible it seemed like he was even more opposed to the entire idea. Punting exhibitions were ironically common.
These intrasquad practices were always difficult to glean data from, but they did give you a pretty good picture of who was on the first team and who was on the second at that moment. Saturday will not provide much clarity in that department.
If he had a draft order that might, but we don't. We only know that Malzone was the first QB taken and others didn't follow for a while. We can also make a couple of guesses based on the distribution of certain players, but the depth chart will remain fuzzy.
On the other hand, it'll be a better crucible to observe folks in. Ones versus ones and twos versus twos often saw whoever the second string quarterback was spend his day running from large angry men. While this was in fact an excellent preview of Devin Gardner's life, hopefully that won't be the situation going forward. An even spread of talent on both sides may not give us as much insight into who the coaches think is ahead; it should give us more ground to form (admittedly useless) opinions of their own.
But let's form them anyway
There are a few things I'll be looking out for.
hello sirs [Fuller]
The Peppers disposition. We all know Peppers is starting, and his team has two other legit safeties on it—Jeremy Clark and Delano Hill. His team does not have a third corner. The obvious conclusion is that Michigan will be moving Peppers to the slot in nickel situations on Saturday.
That makes a lot of sense. I've been yammering on about Hybrid Space Players forever. Peppers promises to be that, at long last. The Hybrid Space player is a triple threat. He can cover like a corner. He can defend an edge run like a safety. And he can blitz like a linebacker. He resolves a number of the questions spread offenses pose by flat-out winning the one-on-one battles the spread issues, against all comers.
I thought Dymonte Thomas might be that guy until he disappeared down the depth chart. Peppers has, uh, not. How he's deployed is going to be be a fascinating subplot.
How 3-4 is it? How 4-3 is it? We've tackled this in multiple posts over the past few weeks: a lot of inside chatter holds that Michigan is moving to primarily a 3-4 this year. I'll be watching to see how accurate that is. This is going to be difficult with the lack of anything resembling a weakside end on the Blue team. Meanwhile, the Maize team has only Lawrence Marshall.
There is going to be ample shoehorning no matter what happens. The nature of that shoehorning should give us an indicator as to how "multiple" the defense is, and if they're really going to run a 3-4.
Formations and personnel on offense. Harbaugh has the MANBALL rep, but the real calling card of his offense is diversity. A gentleman named Colin Davy presented a measure of offensive complexity/diversity at Sloan and a friend of his sent it along to me. San Francisco is highlighted:
That edition of San Francisco deviated from Harbaugh's first three years, which were more WR-averse than any other team in the NFL. Harbaugh ran a ton of three-wide shotgun last year…
…and San Francisco had its worst offensive output under Harbaugh. Probably not a coincidence.
But even so the thing that leaps out after watching a bunch of Harbaugh games is just how much weird stuff there is. People tend to think manball is synonymous with pro-style, but whatever Harbaugh is doing is its own beast. Unless you've seen anyone else line up in a goal line set on first and ten from their own 30, that is. Maybe you have.
Mixed in with the popular conception of the Harbaugh offense is shotgun, zone read, pistol, you name it. Last year he adapted because he had to—injuries slashed his tight end corps to ribbons. What will that adaptation look like with Michigan's personnel?
We got excited about the result of Canteen vs Countess last year; we should have been worried. [Fuller]
Skill positions. Usually the easiest group to get a handle on because breaking tackles, cutting quickly, and catching the dang ball are somewhat competition-invariant. This is not a hard and fast rule—Freddy Canteen was the star of last year's spring game-type substance and did little when the live bullets started flying. But there are going to be a lot of receivers competing for time and attention as Michigan tries to find a #1.
Quarterback. I may be looking at the quarterbacks to see if any of them are any good. Previous spring games have actually been pretty good about delivering information here: Forcier was a revelation after he enrolled early, Denard was a revelation after his freshman year, Bellomy never looked plausible, and last year was extremely ominous. A first glimpse at Malzone and Speight will be interesting. And has Shane Morris developed enough to stay in the conversation?
Interior DL. Both sides have starters that look like plausible Big Ten starting lines: Henry and Glasgow versus Hurst and Mone. I think Glasgow is going to be Glasgow. (This is a good thing.) The other guys are all potential breakout players if they can put the proverbial It together.
Countess. Lewis is a lock at one corner spot. Countess is a favorite for the other… until Wayne Lyons comes in. Michigan's coaches are again asserting that they want to be a super-aggressive man to man outfit, which was Countess's achilles heel last year. Does having an experienced DBs coach help him out? Is he capable of putting his nose across from a wideout and preventing him from doing what Will Fuller did to him last year?
Norfleet. IT COULD HAPPEN, OKAY.
Hackett's first gameday. Last year's spring game was the worst. Michigan played Phil Collins constantly. The band sat in the corner, irritated that they were even there, until deciding to play for about 20 minutes straight near the end. Their constant noise was the only way to get Special K to cut out his constant noise.
Hackett's recent comments on how he envisions the gameday experience are as encouraging as possible and this will be the first opportunity to see them in action. I'm not expecting miracles immediately. The athletic department is a large ship that takes some time to steer. I will be looking out for gameday changes that might stick.
Spring Game Visitors: Commit Watch?
Michael Onwenu and Donnie Corley are among this weekend's top visitors. [Fuller]
Let's skip the preamble. You want this weekend's visitors list. Thanks to a primer from Allen Trieu in the Detroit News and a quick overview from 247's Steve Lorenz, here are the top targets who'll be on campus this weekend.
Since they've been discussed so much of late, let's start with the in-state prospects:
- Four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley. Michigan seems to have made up a ton of ground on Corley since Harbaugh took over, to the point that they may be out in front along with Tennessee. Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State are also heavily involved.
- Four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon. The top back in the state, Falcon has Tennessee as his leader, and while Michigan is gaining they'll have to make a big impression this weekend—Falcon is slated to visit UT at the end of the month and could decide shortly thereafter, per Sam Webb ($).
- Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has stuck with his Louisville commitment so far, even after getting a Michigan offer, but that could change soon, especially if teammate David Reese decides to flip his commitment after a recent offer.
- Four-star Plymouth OT Michael Jordan. The usual Midwest suspects—Michigan, MSU, ND, and OSU—comprise Jordan's top four. He's been a steady presence on campus lately, but there haven't been rumblings of an imminent decision.
- Four-star Farmington Hills Harrison DE Khalid Kareem. After a brief commitment to Michigan State, Kareem has also been in Ann Arbor several times for unofficial visits. Notre Dame is also a factor.
- Four-star Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu. Onwenu previously favored Ohio State, but backed off that stance after the Mike Weber kerfuffle. Michigan looks to be in very good position to land him.
- Three-star Farmington LB/FB David Reese. Like Fitzpatrick, Reese is a Louisville commit pondering a flip after getting a Michigan offer. He could make the change as early as this weekend, and that could set off a string of in-state commitments—at the very least, Fitzpatrick would be likely to join him.
- 2017 four-star Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross. James Ross's younger brother has made quite a few visits to Ann Arbor.
- 2017 four-star St. Joseph WDE Corey Malone-Hatcher. An offer from Alabama last week shows that Malone-Hatcher won't be an easy pull.
- 2017 four-star Cass Tech WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. A potential five-star, Peoples-Jones has been on campus a lot lately but also is getting major attention from Ohio State.
If there's a commitment this weekend, Reese seems to be the most likely candidate. Now, for the out-of-state visitors:
- Three-star TX OT Austin Anderson and three-star TX OT Riley Anderson. The twin linemen both received offers from Michigan in early March.
- Three-star TX S Chris Brown. A teammate of four-star LB Dontavious Jackson, who'll also be on campus, Brown's best offers so far are from Michigan and Louisville, though local schools could jump into the fray.
- Three-star AL RB Kingston Davis. The big back hails from Prattville, the same Alabama high school that produced 2015 signee Keith Washington; Michigan will hold one of their satellite camps there this summer.
- Four-star MD OG Terrance Davis. Davis is a big-time national recruit, but he appears to have legitimate interest in Michigan.
- Four-star TX ILB Dontavious Jackson. Michigan won't have an easy time prying Jackson away from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Texas, but offering Brown helps; for now, the Wolverines are very much in it.
- Four-star IN QB Brandon Peters. Outside of the in-state prospects, Peters is the recruit who's had the most commitment speculation. While Michigan looks like the favorite, however, it's reasonable to expect him to take planned visits to Nebraska and Vanderbilt the following two weekends before he comes to a decision.
- 2017 five-star IL SDE AJ Epenesa. An Iowa legacy, Epenesa was offered last month; he's projected as one of the very best 2017 prospects in the country.
- 2017 four-star GA S Isaiah Pryor. In a promising sign, Pryor will be on campus for the second time in two weeks, this time with his family in tow, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($).
- 2017 OH RB Todd Sibley. Considered an Ohio State lean, Michigan leapt into contention when they offered Sibley a couple weeks ago, though overcoming the childhood favorite Buckeyes will be a difficult task.
That's not quite an exhaustive list—for one, expect a bunch of in-state underclassmen to check in—but it hits the highlights. This is a very impressive visitor list for a spring game.
Meanwhile, Michigan is hosting a visitor today: three-star Lakewood (OH) St. Edward CB Tony Butler, a Pitt commit, is on campus and Lorenz reports he's likely to earn an offer ($). Butler's former head coach at St. Eds, Rick Finotti, is now at Michigan after being hired by Harbaugh as director of football operations. That connection could help, and I'm always open to Narduzzi-approved defensive recruits.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Jim Hackett talked to the Daily yesterday, and the words that he said were as encouraging as possible for a fan who likes his college football to be as distinct as possible from the pro experience:
The topic of conversation soon shifted to the student experience at Michigan Stadium and the tendency of many students to leave games well before they end. Hackett believes the issue will most easily be resolved by the improvement of the on-field product.
“I don’t want to sound sarcastic,” Hackett said. “What I don’t want is more entertainment that’s not football. I think that works in the pros, but we’re in college. I believe college shouldn’t be like the pros. It shouldn’t cost like the pros.”
Hackett specifically noted that he didn’t want the games to feel “corporate,” a complaint that was commonly voiced by Michigan fans during Brandon’s tenure.
I am still a little hesitant to open the ol' heart to the new AD because I remember the brief, stretchgate-inspired Brandon honeymoon that we all had a few years back… but I'm hopeful that Hackett takes the project of making Michigan Michigan seriously, and am more so every time he is quoted.
We're even seeing some specific steps discussed not only amongst the fanbase but with the guys in charge. After a student complained about the piped-in music, Hackett replied thusly:
Hackett asked the new coach what he thought of piped-in music during warmups. Harbaugh was firm in his answer.
“I don’t care. We don’t need it,” Harbaugh said.
Hackett agreed with Harbaugh, noting that in the past, the loud music has almost discouraged him from sitting through the team’s warmups when he has visited Michigan Stadium. As a result of the preferences of the coach, athletic director and many fans, the Athletic Department is in conversations with the band to have it play more during games.
I did not dream of a day when Michigan would look at the music during warmups as an issue to be addressed, let alone the actual in-game experience. I don't even mind the warmups music that much. I did treasure the quiet buzz of anticipation 45 minutes before the game, though, and if that comes back the stadium will be a step closer to what it used to be.
That thing it used to be was merely itself. The band, the lack of advertising, the silences in between the shouting. The natural up and down of a crowd was an important part of my formative experiences as a sports fan, and I still wince at the idea that doing something for the entertainment of the people in attendance actually, you know, entertains them. Too often piped-in music turns fan participation off instead of on. It's a convenient way to cover the fact that you have a lack of atmosphere. I prefer an athletic department that asks the hard questions about how to create one out of the materials they've been given. If MLS can do it—hell, if Detroit City can do it—there's no reason Michigan can't.
Here's hoping Hackett's the man to do it.
We talked about this some on WTKA today: it sounds like when the Adidas contract comes up in a year, Michigan is seriously considering a switch even if that move costs them some money.
“In my first months here, the question of which brand we wear is a big one,” Hackett said during the fireside chat. “We’ve organized — this is a secret — a project team to look at the question of, there’s really three players: Adidas, Under Armour and Nike.”
"Was" a secret if you're talking about it in a fireside chat with students. Adidas or UA will offer the most money; Nike offers the gear it seems like most of the athletes prefer… and it opens doors in recruiting, especially basketball. Like it or not, that is fact.
The mere fact that there's something other than a number in a spreadsheet being considered here is an excellent development. I don't understand people who care a ton about the style of an athletic clothing supplier, but there are evidently legions of them.
Personally, I would prefer Under Armour, which tends to create (or maintain) signature looks for the schools they have. Adidas and Nike both love to suit people up in things that say "this team is part of Adidas or Nike"; UA is better about working for the team, the team, the team.
Okay yes Maryland's flag uniforms are kind of a disaster, but it's not like they've got anything iconic to hang their hat on. Meanwhile I love what they've done with Northwestern and they've left Auburn's classic look virtually untouched. But UA is a distant third when it comes to recognition and door-opening.
It's a tough decision.