Lawrence Marshall, Troll of the Year Candidate
Michigan's latest commit, Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall, was presumably headed to East Lansing before pledging to Michigan last weekend, according to virtually everyone who followed his recruitment. Another example of Brady Hoke's remarkable ability to change recruits' minds during their visits, right? Oh, no, it's much better than that, per Sam Webb ($) [emphasis mine]:
“I was thinking about committing (to Michigan) for like a month now, so I knew where I was about to go for a whole month,” Marshall said sheepishly. “I just didn’t want nobody to know where I wanted to go. I went up (to Ann Arbor today for a visit) and it was the perfect timing to commit. I think I caught them by surprise. I don’t think they really knew that I was going to commit there today.”
Wait for it...
Now twist the knife ($):
One phrase Marshall has already been saying is that the "best players in Michigan go to Michigan". With that, attention now turns towards his strong-side counterpart and Detroit native Malik McDowell.
"I'd say Malik is that last part of the puzzle," he said. "Michigan is where the best players in the state want to play and he's the last one left. We'll be turning our attention on him and will try to get him to come on board with us because we're building something special here."
According to 247's composite rankings, Michigan has two of the top four in-state players in Marshall and (oh, hey) Drake Harris, with their sights firmly set on top-ranked Malik McDowell. The Wolverines also have the #9 player in Moe Ways. Michigan State has just the #6 and #7 players (Deon Drake and Byron Bullough) and no other commits among the state's top 25 prospects.
For comparison, Western Michigan now has the #5 and #8 prospects (Chase Stewart and Chukwuma Okorafor), along with 13th-ranked Jordan Van Dort. Only two uncommitted prospects remain among the state's top 13 players—McDowell and his high school teammate, OL Ka'John Armstrong, who's visited MSU several times but has yet to receive an FBS offer.
Where's the threat?
[Do I have to keep writing? I mean, that's the perfect place to stop. Okay, if you insist, hit THE JUMP for Chase Winovich's visit reaction, Jabrill Peppers running pretty fast, a look at the enormous foreign exchange student offered by Michigan, and more.]
abs, special teams: out
They're dropping like not-particularly-likley-to-see-the-field flies up in here. Over the last 12 hours, Scout's Andre Barthwell and Sam Webb broke the news that Michigan has lost Marvin Robinson and Mike Jones from the roster.
As departure impacts go, these are near the bottom of the scale. Both were going to be seniors (Jones was a fifth year) and neither was likely to see much playing time outside of special teams. These exits don't affect the two deep or the projected numbers for the 2014 class.
Robinson and his heralded abs never got a foothold on playing time, probably because he never shook the sort of bad habits that made him the primary culprit on that long run a couple of spring games ago where Robinson never figured out the WR he was trying to check was blocking him. He'll have to sit out a year and then he'll have one to play if he doesn't go I-AA. He probably should have moved to WLB immediately upon his arrival at M.
Jones meanwhile was not a touted recruit and never saw the field even when Michigan was scrambling at the WLB spot in 2011. His main on-field contribution was to pick up a dumb personal foul against OSU last year. (Off the field, he provided many opportunities for people to say WHO? because of a rapper who is now ironically forgotten, or at least would be if his song wasn't about his name.)
The main downside is if their absence forces Michigan to play a couple kids who otherwise would have redshirted on coverage teams and the like. If Ben Gedeon plays despite not projecting to the two deep at MLB either this year or next, I'll be a little cheesed off.
Michigan now has a slot for a hypothetical fifth-year QB transfer, say Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell. Mitchell who is reported to be considering Michigan along with NC State and three smaller schools. As per usual these guys are leaving to play, though, so unless Michigan can sell Mitchell on a slash role a la Gardner he'll probably head to a place he can at least compete for the starting QB job.
Southfield (MI) DE/LB Lawrence Marshall, a former Ohio State commit and presumed Michigan State lock, has committed to... Michigan, of course, per fellow commit Michael Ferns and confirmed by the various recruiting outlets. Marshall was on campus today with Ferns and receiver commit Moe Ways, a long-time AAU teammate of Marshall's who's been recruiting him hard lately.
Marshall was expected to make a decision soon, but the choice wasn't supposed to be Michigan—according to 247, he's visited East Lansing eight (eight!) times since the beginning on February, and all six of the 247 experts to weigh in predicted he'd choose Michigan State.
Where's the threat? Oh, it's right here, and it's devouring us alive.
4*, #12 DE,
|3*, #19 WDE||
4*, 83, #12 DE,
4*, 91, #12 WDE,
As you'll see in the scouting section, Marshall is a relatively raw prospect with plenty of upside, so it's not surprising to see a major outlier in his rankings prior to his senior season; while the other three services have Marshall safely within their top lists, Rivals pegs him as a three-star ranked three spots below the last WDE four-star (Gelen Robinson, incidentally). His listed measurables range from 6'3", 215 lbs. to 6'4", 230—based on recent camp reports, the latter figure is probably more accurate.
With the rankings for Marshall largely based on his potential, his senior season and future camp performances could spur plenty of movement in either direction.
Allen Trieu's free report on Marshall's Scout profile is a good place to start—his listed strengths are athleticism, backside pursuit, and lateral range, with "techniques and moves" as his area for improvement:
Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of direction and speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. Plays with hand down in high school, but may be a stand-up rusher in college. Has not been asked to drop into coverage much, but that's something he may be asked to do at the next level. Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there. - Allen Trieu
I believe Marshall is more likely to end up at weakside DE—playing with his hand down—than standing up at outside linebacker, so this note from Trieu after an Adidas camp in March brings up an important point ($):
He's very long and athletic. He needs to still get stronger. Big, physical offensive linemen had success when they got their hands on him, but his feet and quickness are very impressive.
Until Marshall adds the requisite size and technique, he'll have a tough go against big offensive linemen. In college, that's every offensive lineman.
His athleticism, however, makes him a tantalizing prospect as an edge rusher. Steve Lorenz named him one of the top performers at the first HYPE Showcase in Canton, citing his size/speed combo as the primary reason, a couple weeks ago:
DE Lawrence Marshall (Southfield, MI/Southfield): Marshall was the headliner and for the most part performed as such. He continues to build himself up and has become a potentially lethal combination of size and speed. He still can occasionally struggle against bigger defenders a bit, but still usually gets to the tackling dummy without much of an issue.
And at the aforementioned Adidas camp Marshall even took a couple reps on offense... at wide receiver:
Southfield (Mich.) High Top247 defensive end Lawrence Marshall took a few reps at defensive end before moving over and showing his athleticism at receiver. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Marshall was rocked up and continues to add size each time we see him.
The fact that Marshall is consistently adding size is, of course, also a major positive at this point. In fact, according to a report from Rivals' Josh Helmholdt during Marshall's junior season, while Marshall needs to add size his strength may actually be a positive ($) [emphasis mine]:
DE Lawrence Marshall, Southfield, Mich. (2014):: The last few weeks have been especially fruitful for Marshall. Although his team made a second-round exit from the Michigan high school state playoffs, a wave of new scholarship offers has helped assuage the agony of defeat. Among the most recent to offer are Big Ten programs Indiana and Michigan State, and the appeal of Marshall is evident on junior film. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Marshall still has a lean frame, but he does not have issues with strength at the point of attack. He does a great job creating upfield momentum, which all starts with his explosive first step. Marshall comes off the line hard and low, and puts an exclamation point on his sacks by being a heavy hitter.
That was five months and 20-or-so pounds ago. If Marshall continues to get bigger, as is expected, I don't think there will be much question about him playing on the line when he gets to campus. His athletic ability gives him much more potential if he's playing defensive end—where it's harder to find such an athlete that can also hold the point of attack—than if he's thrown into Michigan's deep pool of linebackers.
Marshall also held offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Pitt, Syracuse, and Tennessee, among several others.
Southfield High School (Class A, Division 2) has been an above-average program for the last several years but hasn't had a lot of success in the state playoffs—last year, they fell to Oak Park in the second round. Marshall is the highest-ranked prospect the school has produced in the Rivals era—and that's going by his three-star Rivals ranking. Other notable prospects include 2012 TE Ron Thompson, who chose Syracuse over Michigan, and 2012 Cincinnati cornerback signee LEVITICUS PAYNE.
According to 247, Marshall recorded 79 tackles, 15 sacks, and four interceptions during his junior season.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a FAKE (or real) 40 time.
Marshall's tape very much falls in line with the scouting reports. He's got a great burst off the line and gets to the football in a hurry; he's also hardly touched on a good number of these plays and needs work on technique—when he gets to Michigan, he won't be able to simply run right past offensive linemen.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, Marshall is a high-ceiling, boom-or-bust recruit. The potential is there for him to be a highly impactful edge rusher, but first he must add weight and refine his technique. [Insert praise of Michigan's D-line coaching here.]
It's possible that Marshall ends up at strongside linebacker, though I like him a lot more as a weakside end. Still, he has some positional flexibility and at the very least should turn himself into a situational pass-rusher. This comparison has been made elsewhere, but his size/speed combo and raw potential are very reminiscent of Frank Clark, this year's presumed starter at weakside end. Unlike Clark, Marshall should have a couple years of seasoning before he needs to see the field with Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton in the two classes ahead of him. From there, it's all about maintaining his athleticism while adding bulk and refining his technique—if he can do that, he's got double-digit sack potential.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
I covered Michigan's defensive line situation in great detail yesterday; the short version is they'll happily take Marshall, Malik McDowell, and Da'Shawn Hand should the latter two also decide on the Wolverines. That would give Michigan one complete line in the 2014 class with Marshall (WDE), McDowell (3-tech/SDE), Bryan Mone (NT/3-tech), and Hand (SDE/WDE). This is by no means guaranteed to happen, but at this point it's difficult to not at least consider it a definite—and pretty damn awesome—possibility. Even if Michigan misses out on Hand, that's a heck of a D-line haul if they can keep McDowell in-state, which at this point is the expectation.
As for the class as a whole, Michigan now has nine commits (not including grayshirt Brady Pallante) in the 2014 class, which currently has room for 14 players but should end up closer to 20 when all is said and done. We know the Wolverines will take one more linebacker—probably either Chase Winovich or Kyron Watson—and probably a third offensive lineman, and spots will be held open for McDowell and Hand. Other priorities include a third receiver and, say, an elite defensive back (ahem).
STAT OF THE DAY
Percentage of ESPN 150 commits to total commits: Michigan: 88%, LSU: 50%, Florida: 44%, FSU: 44%, TAM: 30%, Tenn: 16%, Texas: 14%
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 11, 2013
Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...
My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.
Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!
I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.
Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*
The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...
[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]
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 + fullback.
THIS IS THE Spring update. Major moves: Jake Ryan goes off the board despite his potential mid-season return, Dymonte Thomas, Cam Gordon, Frank Clark, and Graham Glasgow debut, James Ross shoots up, Brendan Gibbons dips in case there's a Samson effect going on, tailback is declared the ultimate mess.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Jake Long wannabe took second-to-last step to full clone by forgoing sure first-round status in this year's draft to return for senior year. Upside: shut off Clowney in bowl game, gives Michigan second returning starter, was All-American last year. Downside: has reportedly sold his twosie.
Obvious now he will remain outside, and has no real threat with Ben Braden mostly competing at guard. Should be high quality after shutting off South Carolina's very good non-Clowney ends in the bowl game.
Gallon's production hit ludicrous speed with Gardner's stunning entry into the starting lineup. Project those five games over thirteen and you get Braylon numbers: 81 catches, 1330 yards. Cut his hair. : /
4. QB Devin Gardner, Jr.* [Last time: 7]
Actually played well in spring for once, threw eyes-closed out to Gallon, has no backup, hanging out with pro quarterback coaches in limited windows between sessions with Gallon, gonna be pretty good you guys.
Will be asked to replace Kovacs as the all-knowing, all-tackling security blanket in the secondary. Seems rather qualified given the lack of big plays the last couple years, but it's acid test time.
The one truly locked-down spot on the line is nose tackle, where Washington emerged into a quality big ten player out of nowhere and now embarks on a let's-get-drafted campaign that should end with some level of All Big Ten recognition.
Sure to move to boundary corner with Floyd's departure and Countess's return, Taylor should be more comfortable in the more limited space provided. Has more size than anyone else who's not a true freshman.
Disaster! Gibbons cut his hair. Will it have a Samson-like effect on his kicking? Let's hope not. Probably still likes Keystone Light and brunettes; if kicking ability is not in fact dependent on hair length M will be good here.
Called himself a "pretty boy" this spring and vowed to bring more dawg to his game; should have an explosion in production if he can block a little and Michigan gets an interior ground game going.
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Momentary panic about Joey Burzynski not immediately giving way to Kalis subsided as Kalis smoothly accelerated past his walk-on competitor and into the starting lineup for the spring game. You know Hoke wants to deploy mean tanks everywhere. Kalis is one of those, and how.
Desmond Morgan's move to MLB actually provides the veteran with more competition than Ross, now backed by Royce Jenkins-Stone. A "most improved" award over the spring does nothing to slow a hype train this site is doing its damndest to support.
Sticky-fingered Louisiana gnome proved his mettle in 2012. If a pass is physically reachable by him, will be brought in. Feet will motor afterwards. Lacks top gear.
Converted OL Michigan's best bet at inline blocking TE sort; needs to work on his technique in a serious way. Could near 300 pounds after an offseason in the weight room. Fears no fish.
Seemed to make a smooth transition to the middle, a more comfortable spot for him. Last year it was Demens carrying TEs down the seam, and this year it'll be Ross. Morgan will thump people to the ground.
Picture still slightly old. Hagerup's confirmed suspension moves Wile into the full time punter job, though freshman Kenny Allen will challenge. When not tasked with pooch punting, Wile comfortably clears 42 yards a kick. M will be fine.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Miller fended off challenges from Burzynski and Graham Glasgow, and now it seems like the most heated competition on the line is at left guard. Kugler still lurks, though, and there were a couple of busted blocking assignments reminiscent of last year. Moving him down a category, barely.
Still not back on the field fully, but expected to reclaim his form and his starting job. Emergence of Dymonte Thomas and Delonte Hollowell does put his job under a little bit more threat, but let's be serious here: if Countess is fully recovered he's starting.
18. NICKEL Dymonte Thomas, Fr. [Last time: NR]
Started the spring game; what's more largely pushed competitors at nickel out to the outside, heavily implying that was no drill. Big, agile, mean athlete snatched out of Ohio; Bucks are still waiting for him to decommit. Will bring more of a blitz/physical edge to the nickel.
Moving Darboh up a slot after he met expectations in spring and took the lead in the other outside WR race. Kicked spring game off with impressive over-the-shoulder fade reception. Hard to see much competition behind him save Jehu Chesson, who's probably still a year away.
20. WDE Frank Clark, Jr. [Last time: NR]
Added a ton of weight and spent spring getting hyped up as the next Brandon Graham (except fast!). Rumors of heated practice battles with Taylor Lewan reached my ears before Lewan told the papers about them; please, please, please be true yo.
21. OLB Cam Gordon, Sr* [Last time: NR]
Jake Ryan's ACL tear thrusts Gordon into the spotlight. He was getting coach hype even before the injury, played decently last year, and looked pretty good in spring. He won't be Ryan; he should at least be okay. Ghost Of Bo is to blame for the picture.
Still presumed leader in the race to replace Kovacs, has some heat from Jeremy Clark and veterans Marvin Robinson and Josh Furman. He got more playing time than any of those guys last year, though, and was well ahead of even the corners when Floyd went out for the bowl.
IN A BATTLE
Spring provided no clarity here. Heitzman is your nominal starter but Matt Godin and Tom Strobel are about as large, have better recruiting profiles, and are just a year younger. This might end up a season-long platoon where the starter doesn't even get a majority of snaps.
Started and did well in the spring game but even though Chris Wormley played he was still far off his true form just seven months after knee surgery. Willie Henry might also press here if Michigan decides they're good at NT.
25. G Graham Glasgow, So* [Last time: NR]
Michigan flipped Glasgow from OSU, and despite his walk-on status that's looking like a slick move. Glasgow played all three interior line slots in the spring game, starting over Ben Braden at left guard, and acquitted himself well. Unlike Burzynski, he's got the size at 6'6" to be a long-term factor.
Fullback will probably see lots of rotation as Michigan tries to balance blocking (advantage Kerridge) with receiving (freshman Khalid Hill) and maybe even some running (presumably Sione Houma and Wyatt Shallman). Kerridge keeps dreaming about buying $3000 of golf balls, so he's in the lead.
Sticking with the hyped freshman over Toussaint but moving this position to the very end of the list because the uncertainty here is rampant. None of the competitors did enough to separate themselves from Toussaint despite Toussaint's injury; this will probably be a platoon.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Shane Morris—hopefully he redshirts, probably can't with Bellomy injury.
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint—worst. year. ever. Coaches said he was presumed starter in spring. We'll see about that.
RB DeVeon Smith—I'd be inclined to redshirt him what with a lot of options at the position and a Green/Toussaint combo looking fine.
RB Dennis Norfleet—moved back, looked okay in spring, probably still stuck on return duty.
RB Justice Hayes—nominal top option in spring.
OL Erik Magnuson—third option at tackle.
OL Ben Braden—serious contender at guard.
C Blake Bars—if Miller is just too too small.
C Patrick Kugler—the chosen center, but labrum injury hampers.
WR Jehu Chesson—should be ready to go after redshirt in search of bulk. Still needs more of it, but he'll play.
DE Tom Strobel—oversized end coming off redshirt, should be quality run defender.
DE Matt Godin—blue-collar guy may see time.
NT Ondre Pipkins—dropped a lot of weight, but will be pressed by…
NT Willie Henry—got ton of player hype, actually added weight, which means he's headed in the right direction.
DE/DT Chris Wormley—has the size, has the hype, has the ACL recovery process.
WDE Mario Ojemudia—put on a lot of weight, should be better-prepared in year two.
WDE Taco Charlton—looks like Tarzan. Plays like freshman, probably, but at 6'6" 265 is much more likely to make an impact in year one than Ojemudia was last year, or Clark before him.
MLB Joe Bolden—needs weight, but coming off meaningful freshman PT.
SAM Brennen Beyer—rotated with Clark last year.
SAM Jake Ryan—supposedly returning by mid-October. Please, please, please let me get what I want this time.
CB Terry Richardson—weight weight weight weight weight
CB Jourdan Lewis—will a Cass corner ever meet the hype?
CB Delonte Holowell—and will it actually be Holowell, who played pretty well in spring?
S Marvin Robinson—not sure if he'll ever be reliable enough to play.
S Josh Furman—ditto
gif credit to umaz1
Who's Awesome? You're awesome. /guns. Vincent Smith is finally done using Tae's account. Last night he posted an update of the work they're doing with Art Day, which you helped with. HOPE for Pahokoee's latest event brought badly needed art supplies to the local elementary. The Palm Beach Post wrote it up and has photos of Smith, Odoms and Brandin Hawthorne teaching art to 5th graders.
Rodriguez loved to raid this little muck town of rabbit chasers in hopes of making his team better; the players (Richard Ash is still on the team) all ended up platooners of one sort or another, but thanks to them and your support this unlikely connection between communities that couldn't be more different has worked out pretty well for the town too.
The hardest one is on SATURDAY, plebe! Inspired by Wyoming's field redesign, Orson has some suggestions for how other schools can capture their unique traditions on their respective playing surfaces. Dave Brandon will be happy to know that although the NCAA nixed his hashtags, the Times crossword is okay. My own submission:
Things to note:
- Tasteful corporate sponsorship by Capital One doubles as motivation for the Spartans to return to the peak of their program's glory. As part of the sponsorship package, if any fan is caught using a non-Capital One card inside the stadium they will immediately be assaulted by 20% of the football team. What's in YOUR wallet?
- Special "Izzone" extends the Spartans' sideline five yards onto the playing field, not that their coaches will stay behind that line either.
- The region from the goal line to the MSU 30 will be designated as "Sparta!" where the Spartan defense will never allow the football to enter. Also the Spartan offense will never leave it.
- The Wolverines recently got all new logos, so Michigan State was able to dress up its midfield with Michigan's old one. Of course it took several boxes of crayons to adapt it (unfortunately all the green crayons broke so part of it's in aquamarine.)
- Extensive use of Comic Sans font to increase interest from younger fans.
- Hidden compartments under every 5-yard hash provide players with quick access to various blunt and sharp instruments that aid in meeting Dantonio's program mandate of "60 minutes of unnecessary roughness." Each hole also contains a copy of the Holy Bible to be used as an emergency shield against Detroit newspaper reporters in case they ask.
- Inflatable dirigibles beneath the surface provide buoyancy in case Mark Hollis decides the game should be held in the middle of Lake Huron.
- Modular seating in the lower bowl, and special turf genetically engineered by MSU scientists to break down Faygo, mean the stadium can easily be converted to the perfect host site for future Juggalo Gatherings.
We Just Feel Like We're Carrying Your Bags
(Title ref) You know that inflection, when Keith Jackson would take an emphasis syllable you never would have paid attention to—like the "THOM" in Anthony Thomas—and he'd build you up to it—Anthonyyyyyyyyyyy—and then that syllable would pop out like he's laughing it, like all the joy in the world just exploded from this kind old man's lips because he appreciates the existence of the thing with the name that much. WolverineHistorian wants to put together a new video of Keith Jackson quotes and is issuing a call for papers for your greatest Jackson-voiced memories.
Because there is evil in this world and it is contracted by the Big Ten, much of the WH catalog has been turned to this:
There are few things more despicable than people who claim copyrights over clear fair-use material despite having zero plans to make the same material available, just because they can out-lawyer you; here is a company who does exactly that for a living.
User MichiganPhotoRod discovered the company that did all the signage in the Michigan Stadium renovation (like the above) is named Harmon Sign. The company is headquartered in Toledo and Novi but was started the year THAT Harmon arrived at Michigan. I have a call in; someone there is going to get a weird message when he gets into the office today.
Jared of Sports Power Weekends has this year's schedule online and ready for booking for those of you looking to road trip together for an away game or make a visit to Ann Arbor an exponentially more awesome experience (e.g. there's an inside the stadium tour as part of the Notre Dame package). We're discussing making one of these (probably Michigan State) an official MGoTrip; the Notre Dame one will probably dump you into the next official MGoBlog event, and Brian and I will be stopping by the Penn State tailgate.
As an aside, we're trying to do more in-person events because all of us desperately crave opportunities to talk Michigan with people who, like, know the coordinators' names. The downside of doing it around games is there are few people less fun to be around than bloggers immediately after a loss.
BIG TEHNNNNN! It's now been a good eight years since the SEC realized "Hey, you know what 18-year-olds like more than playing for schools that have a lot of money? Having money themselves!", and the governing body for this said "Hey, you know what we can do about it? Absolutely nothing! But let's pretend we've got a handle on it anyway." The results are on the field, and in the NFL draft, to which the Big Ten sent an average Big Ten recruiting class: 22 players, highlighted by a very large center just outside the Top 25. Of course a potential first overall pick stayed in school (ours!). Anyway, UMgradMSUdad gave out points and the winners were Wisconsin, MSU, and Illinois. Michigan was 7th, our contribution of Denard and Big Will worth less on this scale than Kawaan Short.
Girls in hats. The diaries from the last two weeks read a lot like, well, diaries. Paps gave his personal account of being in Atlanta for the NC game and lingers on that one awful call. LSAClassof2000 eschewed charts and data mining (and lolcats) for reminiscing on how he became a Michigan fan and how he got in to the school—other people plopped their own stories in the comments; mine has Woodson in it. Even Blockhams was diarrific this week, being all "the Wings can't leave the Western Conference soon enough."
If you read just one of the diary-diaries, try the Kentucky Derby one. I've never done the Derby, but I always imagined it was, essentially, a sporting event. If costume for fans was a thing, well I've seen SEC football. SEC football in the 19th century more like. I read the entirety of k.o.k.Law's description and after the peculiar manner in which a slingbox crashes I ran out of frame of reference. Like imagine if you're waiting 2 hours in line to get into the stadium because of security, when a couple of cops jump up on picnic tables and announce "Forget security – just go in!" Or dropping $50s in a cash box like you're paying cover at a bar. This part made me think my wife would wanna try it sometime:
Now, if people watching is your thing, you have to do the Derby.
Six foot eight guys dressed in full jockey uniforms, cap, silks, riding boots.
People in all sorts of horse outfits. People is suits, puking on the grass. People exhibiting all the symptoms of a closed head injury. People with “Derby Virgin” buttons taking ten minutes to make a bet at the window. The Mayor of the infield.
And so on.
…but then it's been my experience that smart, northerly Jewish girls don't react well to Westborough Baptists with megaphones. Photo: Kentucky.com.
Etc. Wallpapers by jonvalk; please lose the hash tags. Charity event for people in Columbus. The tatoo guy from Tatgate is selling off all the memorabilia from that. If this seems weird that Buckeye fans would want to memorialize that whole thing, remember they carried Tressel off the field for it last year. Denard rookie camp video.
Your Moment of Zen:
Watch, or just close your eyes and listen.
Before I get into the recruiting roundup, I'm planning a recruiting mailbag post for tomorrow and could use a couple more questions. If you've got one (or more!) please send me an email or tweet it to me. Now back to your regularly scheduled Jabrill Peppers update.
Jabrill Peppers Heat Status: Infinity Chilli
If you somehow haven't watched this just do it already. Yes, all of it.
As the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers evolves, Michigan's chances of landing the five-star corner appear to be getting better and better. The latest news from Peppers is that he's moving up his decision timeline and putting Penn State back in the mix—he'll make a May 18th visit to Happy Valley per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($) [emphasis mine]:
“They never left the picture,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said of Penn State. “Them and Michigan were his top visits. He decided he wanted to move up his decision timeline. He doesn’t have any negatives about Penn State. Them or Michigan. He wants to go and stay overnight at Penn State.”
Peppers is still aiming to get to Stanford before deciding.
“He is looking to commit sometime in early June,” Partridge said.
Peppers previously visited Penn State on February 20th, and while his coach is now talking up the visit there wasn't nearly the same over-the-moon reaction in the immediate aftermath as he had post-Michigan. Securing a second visit from Peppers is remarkably impressive for Bill O'Brien and PSU considering the circumstances; it seems unlikely they'd be able to overtake Michigan. This is very important considering the next bit of visit-related news:
2014 DB Jabrill Peppers hasn't cancelled his Stanford visit but it is proving difficult to plan around his track schedule, per his coach.
— The M Block (@TheMBlock) May 8, 2013
Despite finding it difficult to reschedule his trip to Stanford, Peppers is moving up his timeline. Even the staunchest of pessimists has to take that as a very good sign for Michigan's chances.
As it stands, it's hard to see a scenario in which Peppers sticks to his new timeline and doesn't choose the Wolverines. Penn State—and, if he makes the trip, Stanford—is still a threat, but there's more than one reason for Peppers to take a final visit: not only does he want to make sure he's making the right decision, he's got a high school teammate—QB Steve Shanley—who visited Happy Valley with him in February and is still hoping for a Nittany Lion offer.
PSU insiders certainly seem less optimistic than their Michigan counterparts—for good reason, with the sanctions and all. If early June is really the decision timeline, the Wolverines are going to be very tough to beat here. The current commits certainly seem to think so—either Drake Harris knows something we don't or he's just a very confident recruiter, via Sam Webb ($):
When asked if he thinks Michigan has a good chance of landing Peppers’ after their private conversations?
Harris replied, “I’ll just say we have good chance.”
Do you feel good where things stand with Peppers?
“I feel great!” Harris replied with a coy smile confidently.
Go ahead, watch that highlight tape again, and allow yourself to get a little excited.
[Hit THE JUMP for more from last weekend's camps, this weekend's visitor list, notes on new offers, and more.]
I don't know if Beamer is still going to be around for this but hey look an honest to god legit opponent in a home and home:
Michigan & Virginia Tech will play a home-and-home series during the 2020 & 2021 seasons; 2020 (Michigan Stadium), 2021 (Lane Stadium).
Da'Shawn Hand will be out of school for multiple years at that point, and the 2020 game is a home anchor for a year when Michigan plays OSU on the road. Thumbs up.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson
|Mathews, NC – 6'2", 170|
|Scout||3*, #32 CB|
|Rivals||3*, 28 S, #10 NC|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #93 ATH, #33 NC|
|24/7||3*, #38 ATH, #21 NC|
|Other Suitors||NC State, maybe|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from me(!).|
|Notes||Butler HS (Jamar Adams). Twitter.|
Hudl film is also available. Stick around to 1:45 to see a crazy kick return.
Welcome to episode two in "Michigan just wants you to be 6'2", cornerback." In this case, they want you to be that so badly that they'll offer you at camp even though your offer list currently reads "Charlotte and the SWAC." That's Channing Stribling's story.
Virtually the first articles most sites wrote about Stribling came at Michigan's camp. I mean:
Q: When you came up for camp, did you even consider this a possibility?
No sir, to be honest, I didn’t think so at all. Me and my friends, we came up here mainly to visit Ball State and some of the MAC schools. I didn’t think Michigan would even look at me. I went to N.C. State’s camp two weeks ago and Kentucky’s camp right before I went to Michigan.
Then the first day of one-on-ones, they told me they liked me, but I thought they were just trying to be nice. But they were really interested.
And Michigan already had Conley, Thomas and Lewis committed. I don't think they expected to offer the kid either. Ball State did offer, by the way. He still picked Michigan.
Sam Webb's impressions from that camp:
How this kid is such a relatively obscure prospect while playing for such a powerhouse program is a mystery. Standing 6-2 and maybe 165-pounds, this Tar Heel State product is extremely fluid (despite his length), and possesses quickness that belies his size. Though not a blazer, he has good football speed. Furthermore, he has really good leaping ability and ball schools. Some schools might be scared away by his slender frame and lack of elite top end speed. Others, meanwhile, might see pure potential… a youngster that could become more explosive once he adds more muscle to his slender frame.
Michigan got lucky in one particular way; Stribling was a recent convert to defensive back and had performed at the other camps he hit up as a wideout, not a defender. It's possible if he'd played corner at NC State or wherever he would have picked up an offer and possibly taken himself off the board.
When the sites got around to ranking him, they were relatively enthusiastic. Rivals moved him up to their highest three-star ranking. He's only a few spots away from four stars (their safety cutoff is 24). Scout has him three spots away from a fourth star at CB. The other two sites gave him perfunctory you-committed-to-Michigan three star rankings, but we're talking about a guy who had offers from Charlotte, Howard, and Hampton before he hit Michigan's camp. (He might have had an NC State offer, too, but there's conflicting information on that.)
The main reason he popped up those rankings is… well, he got a Michigan offer and committed. But a strong #2 is a bust-out senior season. He kicked it off($) against Tennessee commit and top 50-ish WR Marquez North. Stribling(1) had more receptions than North(0) in that matchup. IE, Stribling picked off the first pass of the game and helped shut North out the rest of the way.
ESPN's Kipp Adams, a writer for their Georgia site, caught that game and came back claiming Michigan had pulled off "grand larceny"($):
Through nine months, more than 70 programs have come through Butler High School in Matthews -- and with good reason. … The fact that all of those coaches missed on Channing Stribling is remarkable. …
In this humble writer’s opinion, Brady Hoke and his staff should be wearing ski masks when discussing Stribling on signing day, as they have stolen a gem from the Tar Heel State.
Scout's Chad Simmons named Stribling his "top performer($)" of that week of the season, saying it "looks like [Michigan] got a steal" and "has great length, plays the ball well, and has the body to really add significant weight." Simmons wrote a separate article on the kid as a result:
You have to love the size right away. He is a long and rangy corner with potential to add significant weight to his frame. He can work on his footwork, making his back peddle more smooth, and his explosiveness out of his breaks, but he showed he could play the ball, he turn and ran with receivers well, and he did a nice job of keeping his eyes on the quarterback and receiver.
Stribling has a lot of upside on the next level. He juggles multiple sports, so once he begins to focus on football and football only, he is going to get better fundamentally and physically.
Stribling continued to annihilate all comers as he helped drive Butler to a state championship. He had another pick and a kickoff return TD the next week added two more INTs over the next three games, scored four touchdowns in their hsfopoff opener, and had a TD and INT in the state championship game, whereupon Scout claimed he had "huge upside."
As a result, everyone and their uncle named Stribling a potential sleeper. Tom went with him on a Wolverine Nation roundtable; Rivals's Mike Farrell named him as a guy who would be getting a bump (albeit apparently not a huge one) after just a couple weeks of season; 247 picked him as a class sleeper for Michigan, noting his senior stats:
Michigan signed four other defensive backs that were tabbed as four-star recruits, however Stribling has the size at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, and athleticism, 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, to be the best of the bunch. …he registered 37 tackles, 14 pass breakups and six interceptions while also being a playmaker on offense with 37 catches for 636 yards and eight touchdowns.
So there you go. Stribling showed up in a big way as a senior. He's got pounds to pack on, and when people ask him about his strengths he says this:
“Not having to totally guess [anymore], but knowing how and when [my opponent] is going to break. I know what he’s going to do before he does it.”
Raw upside length, upside length raw, raw raw length upside. You get the idea. Compounding that upside business is the Copp factor, in which a kid who plays a bunch of sports in high school can get a lot better once he focuses on just one. Stribling plays basketball and runs track as well.
A few more details on what Michigan's won from ESPN:
…a tall, rangy athlete with very good ball skills and long striding speed. Talented prospect with big play potential on both sides of the ball. Could be a late bloomer with his physical upside. While high-cut without overly smooth transitional skills, this is still a prospect we feel can play on the perimeter at the college level and have success. Lacks elite initial burst and explosion but brings a lot of quickness, speed and range to the position and can turn and run with most receivers with his good acceleration and top-end speed. … Can stick to the hip in-phase and while his high-cut frame makes it difficult to sink out of breaks, his length and range also make it difficult for receivers to create separation. Has the height and high-point skills that are coveted on the outside to matchup with today's taller receivers. Can turn and run with most wide outs but we question if he has the hips to transition smoothly without wasted motion versus faster vertical receivers at the BCS level.
Does that sound like the #33 player in North Carolina? His coach:
“Long arms. He controls his body very well. You see a lot of kids in high school that size, they have a tough time managing where everything is going, but Channing does a great job with body control.”
Finally, Stribling brings the sort of personality Michigan is looking for. He spent the full week at camp, giving Curt Mallory an opportunity to get the know the guy's talent and coachability…
"Channing came to our camp (in the summer) not only for a day, but for the whole week, I got a chance to be around Channing all week long," Mallory said. "I really got to work with him more than just once. You see his height, you see his range and you see his competitiveness.
"The more you were around him, the more you fell in love with him -- he really brings a lot of length to the position."
…and his coach indicates he's a program guy:
“With his competitiveness it rubs off on his teammates he raises the level of play among his teammates. He is a great kid the teachers love to have him in class; Channing has a great personality and a great respect for those in authority. He is mature kid but still a kid who interacts well with adults and kids."
Michigan's swinging for the fences here, and so far so good.
"They saw me at their camp and they did not care that I didn't have all the stars and that I wasn't ranked high. They liked me and they offered me. That is what really stood out to me when I committed to them."
Why Morgan Trent? Trent is pretty much the only tall-skinny-long corner in recent Michigan history unless you want to count Troy Woolfolk, who was constantly injured, and James Rogers, who was not very good.
Trent was a bit faster, Stribling is a good amount longer. Trent couldn't change direction very well, and when people talk about a 'high cut' athlete that's one of the things that comes in that package of worry jargon. That's basically Stribling's limiting factor: how fast can he change direction?
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Stribling was virtually unknown until his Michigan commitment and while the sites did check him out as a senior, they are still working from a relatively slight knowledge base. It seems tough for the sites to shoot someone way up unless they see a guy in person at one of their camps, for a lot of reasons.
Variance: High. Raw upside length.
Ceiling: High-minus. Frame excellent, lacks that top-end speed.
General Excitement Level: Aw, crap. I don't like doing this so early in the profile series when I haven't dug deep on most of the class, but…
Sleeper of the year
The last three years of SotY: Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan, and last year's co-award to Ben Braden and Jehu Chesson. I think that's a pretty good track record right there.
This determination is made easier by the fact that traditionally I hand this out to a guy with no four-star rankings and there are only a few guys who meet those criteria this year: Stribling, Csont'e York, Khalid Hill, Dawson, and Da'Mario Jones. Soon this award will be "the guy who doesn't have four stars somewhere."
Projection: Almost certain redshirt. He's got another year to work his way into the lineup slowly behind Countess/Taylor before Taylor's graduation throws the boundary corner job open. If you're asking me right now to pick who wins that battle, I say Stribling. Tentative, obviously.
We need to make space in the warehouse for the HTTV books and new t-shirts, so we're cleaning out some of the older shirts and stuff before they go stale. Flows, twosies, brunettes, Lloyd Brady, Tremendous, Ermahgerd, Winningest, even a Worst State Ever, are knocked down to $5.00. Also if you want last year's HTTV, we're gonna try to clear those out too.
Click on each for a link to the item. If the link goes dead, we sold out.
Ten dolla for American Apparel version of it. For onesie, Five dolla: