Today's recruiting roundup features highlights and stats from DeVeon Smith and other 2013 commits, Logan Tuley-Tillman's revolutionary scholarship-earning tactic, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Devon Allen, and more.
Presented Without Comment
Presented With Comment
The Freep's Mick McCabe released his annual list of the top 25 high school players in the state; unsurprisingly, Shane "Pearly Whites" Morris sits atop the list. Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer, Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, and MSU commits Jon Reschke and Gerald Holmes round out the top five; other Wolverine pledges include Wyatt Shallman (#7), David Dawson (#8), Khalid Hill (#12), and C'sonte York (#14). When remembering that this list is put together not to project college success but high school ability, I don't take much issue with how the rankings shook out.
In other rankings news, Scout's Allen Trieu compiled a top 150 for the entire Midwest region, topped by (sigh) Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith and USC commit Ty Isaac. Morris slots in at #4—interestingly one spot behind uncommitted four-star WR James Quick—and eight Michigan pledges find a place in the top 30. Seventeen Wolverines in all made the list, each falling within the top 81; if you're looking for a surprise placement, it's probably Mike McCray down at #53, which is approaching three-star territory.
[Hit THE JUMP to see DeVeon Smith and Dymonte Thomas in action, and more]
Michigan's best-in-class loyalty program has a painfully assembled acronym, which is never a good sign. The details:
The new program will award a student two loyalty points for each non-revenue sporting event they attend. Students attending revenue sports, like football, won't get two loyalty points unless they're early to games.
"In order to get full two points [at revenue sporting events] you have to at least check-in 20 minutes before game time," …
The HAIL rewards scale:
- 12 points: A Michigan shirt worth $10.
- 25 points: $5 'blue bucks' deposited directly in students' U-M account.
- 50 points: Adidas shirt and bag
- 80 points: Students get $100 in a Flagstar Bank checking account. They also get a Victors Club priority point, which can be use for priority standing when obtaining football or basketball tickets.
- 100 points: Students receive an invitation to a private athletic department event and get entered to win one of three grand prizes. One grand prize includes season tickets to football, basketball and hockey games for one student. Another grand prize is a $2,000 cash award and another is a two roundtrip airline tickets.
- The highest point earner will receive recognition during a 2013 home football game.
The article leads off with this justification of the loyalty program…
Wolverine fans, remember Rocket Man? Or the card trick at Michigan Stadium last year?
If you do, you probably remember that Rocket Man was flying toward a near-empty student section and the northwest section of the stadium was sparsely populated during the card trick.
Those pre-gaming students aren't exactly reliable at showing up on time.
…that everyone associated with the program except the missing students is on-board with. But then it says "that's probably about to change." I'm not sure the proposed rewards are sufficient for that statement to be made, but CEO's New Clothes and all that.
the proposed solution: free pencil sharpeners
For students who only attend football games—the vast majority since there are approximately 10x more football season ticket holders than basketball or hockey—there are two groups the loyalty program divides you into:
- 20 minutes early for every game: free shirt
- Late for at least one game: no free shirt
Instead of using ticket scans they're making you check in with an app or register at a booth, dropping some number of free shirt people into the no free shirt group because they can't be bothered.
Q: If you were a drunken, 20-minutes-late stumbler last year, is the prospect of not getting yet another yellow shirt going to turn you into R. Lee Ermey?
A: I am so wasted.
The other bits might help flesh out the sparse end of the Yost student section, but to get to the first actual prize (100 bucks, Victors club point) on the list you need to attend 40 events. If you're going to revenue games you have this available:
- Six football games
- 21 hockey games
- 17 basketball games (based on last year's schedule)
Getting to football 20 minutes early is right and just and gets you in to see the band. Getting to hockey or basketball 20 minutes early allows you to hear Nickelback at loud volumes. How many kids are…
- going to be season ticket holders to all three sports AND devote over eight hours of their time to sitting in the stands before revenue sports other than football
- OR be season ticket holders in two sports and attend thirteen to sixteen non-revenue events
- AND remember to check in every time
- AND not be Lloyd Brady or in the vicinity of Lloyd Brady, i.e., the exact kind of people you do not need to reach?
I'm guessing the number there is exactly zero.
A student loyalty program should be based on ticket scans and determine priority for next year's seating and and bowl/NCAA lotteries plus involve a number of Victors Club points worthwhile enough to pursue. Those who can't show up on time at all should not get tickets that could go to better-paying and plain better fans. The above plan is a nice bonus for kids who are already fanatics but completely fails to address the major issue.
PROTIP for student mgoblog readers: location spoofer. Wave to me from the field, plz.
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL leKyle Kalis, TE AJ Williams, TE Devin Funchess, WR Jehu Chesson, WR Amara Darboh, and FB Sione Houma.
|Detroit, MI – 5'7", 161|
|Scout||4*, #19 RB, #163 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #5 APB, #6 MI, #236 overall|
|ESPN||3*, #80 RB, #26 MI|
|24/7||4*, #7 APB, #4 MI, #169 overall|
|Other Suitors||Cinci, MSU, Pitt, Tennessee|
|YMRMFSPA||Darren Sproles, or what you always hoped Vincent Smith would be|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from me(!).|
|Notes||IS NOT NAMED DENNIS "NORTHFLEET" LET'S NOT WOLFORK THIS OKAY|
I got way behind on these thanks to book stuff and knee stuff, so I apologize that this is going to sound like a broken record a day after I mentioned Michigan's acquisition of offensive weapons in all shapes and sizes for the third time in little over a week. But…
Dennis Norfleet is another guy who Michigan can plug into their offense to jar opponents out of comfort zones and exploit weaknesses. Whipsaw, Swiss army knife, etc., the null offense, whatever you want to call it, Norfleet is a guy who fulfills a role. He is a specialist.
That specialty is being in space, where the bugger is impossible to catch. Norfleet rose to prominence as a wildly productive midget RB as a sophomore but really caught recruiting services' eyes when he annihilated a swathe of 7-on-7 competitions last summer. He was the MVP of the IMG Madden tourney and the NLA tourney, both attended by legions of top recruits. How does a 5'6" guy do that($)?
There are a select few players who can make defenders in position totally whiff in one-hand touch, 7-on-7 football. There may be only one Dennis Norfleet who seems to make a play or two like that every game. On one particular play, Norfleet put a move on two defenders at one time, splitting the pair and taking the ball in for a touchdown. He is electric with the football in his hands.
By splitting defenders in one-hand touch.
If 7 on 7 was football, Norfleet would have been the top prospect in the country. I've waded through rapturous report after rapturous report to assemble this post. A sampling:
- "…so explosive, incredibly elusive and runs with an energy that you don’t often see. Even in the one-hand-touch setting, Norfleet was making multiple players grasp at air, sometimes many in the same play."
- "…just keeps showing up at events and making people take notice. He is without a doubt one of the most exciting players in this 2012 class."
- "…in 100-degree plus weather, he never subbed out on offense and defense. He demanded the ball on offense on every snap. He has a relentless motor."
- The NLA MVP "really wasn’t even a difficult call" because Norfleet "was demanding the football on offense, was nearly uncoverable in man-to-man and then wouldn’t miss a beat as a lock-down cornerback on defense."
- "…a natural leader and showed great energy when everyone else was exhausted."
- "…is actually an outstanding receiver, and defensive backs could not hang with his speed. After creating separation, Norfleet also displays excellent hands to finish the play."
- "…Norfleet and Morris [yes that Morris] were running neck and neck for the MVP for the tournament, but Norfleet separated himself from his teammate after elevating for a pass that was well over thrown and landing on a brick lined sidewalk with an audible thud.
Comparisons abound, from Sproles to Jock Sanders (WVU's all-purpose slotback) to Danny Woodhead (the ridiculously productive DII dwarf now with the Patriots) to Jacquizz Rogers. The recipe is simple: get him in space and get the popcorn.
[after THE JUMP: "that guy can do anything" & ESPN poops the party. PLUS LINK TO RIHANNA SONG.]
So I'm going to admit this: until kinda recently I didn't know what "Okie" was. I knew it had something to do with bringing a lot of guys to the line and then running the mother of all zone blitzes. Which is what it is, but not very specific. So I drew this out based on a play vs. Illinois last year, and this became the genesis of last week's 'Museday' (name changing), and a companion piece with drawings of various formations Michigan runs. I plan to make that a sticky for the rest of us who could use a reference occasionally, and fix any minor mistakes in the current pics (e.g. the 3-tech is misaligned slightly), so suggestions are welcome.
Turnovers are not random, just the random ones are. There's this disconnect still around these parts and others where the math says that turnovers are random—all coaches have their players drill loose balls and ball security with equal emphasis—and significant deviation from the mean means you got lucky; and our lizard brains which say "that wasn't luck; that was Thomas Gordon being [high pitch] AWEsome."
So ZooWolverine, who wanted to believe he could find something—anything—to convince his brain it is not a lizard that sounds like a character from Friends, did his own stat study. The result: some skill involved in interceptions, but fumbles will still go 57-43 to the defense, and if you got something else it's luck. Sorry Joey lizard brain.
What do you get for a DUI? Getting behind the wheel of a car (or a golf cart) when intoxicated is really, really stupid. It's also scarily common, and college athletes seem to be particularly bad at this. There are degrees (one drink can put some people over the limit), but there's also enough of a record of coaches' responses to getting caught doing this stupid reckless thing that we have a fairly good idea of a typical DUI suspension. Gulo Gulo Luscus has updated that, and you can see my old list in the comments below. Findings: one game seems to be the going rate unless you play for Jim Tressel, and missing a practice season (spring, fall, etc.) is a little bit under average. Personally, not knowing the specific circumstances, I would want my coach to suspend the player for at least one game, always.
After THE JUMP the Diarist of the Week, the most awesome deck of cards ever, and Carl Grapentine says something that will give you goosebumps.
Is anyone else paralyzingly bored with media output of late? I mean, I just read these articles in which the answers have become absolutely uniform…
"Right now, I'm just worried about this camp and Sept. 1 and Michigan football," [ANYONE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD] said. "I never really felt like I took any steps backward or anything, I'm just going to continue to work hard like I've been doing."
…and I feel a need to link it while at the same time feeling like I am wasting your time by doing so. This is why I said Vincent Smith was a carrot. Because I am bored out of my mind with fall camp. Vincent Smith is not actually a carrot.
Don't even get me started on Countdown to Kickoff, where the most interesting thing is whether or not Doug Karsch's hair tuft will be there. It wasn't always like this:
SOMEONE GET AN UNUSUAL BICYCLE BEFORE I LOSE MY WILL TO LIVE
I think this deserves Henri, the otter of ennui.
Strangely, I feel better. It could be worse: I could be a journalist trying to scrape something interesting out of this mess. Let's move on.
Ringer seems out. If you hit up Kaleb Ringer's twitter and scroll down a bit you'll get tweets from folk wishing him well on his recovery and Joe Bolden saying they can't wait for him to get back. (Also you'll get Ferris State's logo for some reason.) He mentioned something about going through a trial a few days ago, as well.
He's probably injured, is what I'm saying, and given the tenor of the tweets I'd guess it's something with a long-term recovery period. He already seemed likely to redshirt; now I'd say that probability is close to 100%. With Antonio Poole also out long-term, James Ross is going to see the field.
[UPDATE: Hoke just announced Ringer is out for the year. So is Chris Bryant.]
What I am saying. I may flesh this out into a bigger post later; for now, Her Loyal Sons put together a primer on Notre Dame's 3-4 defense. They have "cat" and "dog" linebackers that align strong and weak (or possibly to field or boundary—the post doesn't make it clear) and those guys are frequently deployed like so:
If this doesn't look familiar I have not been badgering you enough about how 1) moving to the 3-4 does nothing to help Michigan's DL issues and 2) that the 4-3 under is halfway between a traditional even 4-3 and the 3-4. Replace "CAT" with "WDE" and "DOG" with "SAM" and voila. ND will of course line up in a traditional 3-4 look and back that WDE-type-guy into coverage at times, but this assertion…
Unlike the 4-3, in which the defensive line almost exclusively rushes (save for some of the more exotic blitz packages), the setup of the 3-4 shines allows fourth rusher can really come from anywhere. While the Cat may be the pass rushing specialist, that doesn’t mean he will always do so.
…does not jibe with my observations last year, when Mattison flung all manner of zone blitzes at the opponent. The fourth rusher was very frequently not the WDE.
Anyway: 4-3 under personnel crammed into a 3-4 does not use more linebackers and only exacerbates issues with having 280 pound SDE/3techs.
Outrage! Not really. Carr told John Wienke to go to Iowa:
"When Coach Carr retired, he was the one — I actually always liked Iowa — but he told me probably to go with Iowa,” Wienke said. “That’s probably the next-best thing that was going to be for me with my style of play.”
Outrage level here is zero. Telling a recruit he probably doesn't fit is a lot different than allegedly telling the players already on campus they had a green light to transfer. Chances are Rodriguez would have phoned the kid up and said the same thing. I probably wouldn't have brought it up except for the fact that the kid is doing all that he can to honor Carr's guidance:
He's a punter now.
It's neutral you guys. The Alabama game is declared the "best of the Big Ten road schedule" by the Star Tribune [HT: Daily Gopher], which is one thing. Another is Countdown to Kickoff straying dangerously off-message at the 1:20 mark:
do not operate heavy machinery after watching countdown to kickoff
Michigan practiced at Ford Field to prepare for "all that road noise." It's a neutral site you guys. Neutral.
Yeah, let's do that. No, nevermind. Brandon said something to justify the Horror II that demonstrated his inability to grasp anything other than "attention = good." Hey, here's a bunch of CBS guys reminiscing about where they were when the Horror I happened. I bet you're going to go read that right now.
He said many other things as well, some of them appalling like moving the spring game to Ford Field. RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE. /is actually rabbling
Nonexistent CHL union still works. That's the argument from London, home of one of the more prominent OHL teams:
The CHL franchises operate as professional franchises. They are a business first and foremost. The scholarship program is great until you play professionally, then you lose it. That's not right.
They trade kids indiscriminately in an effort to make their business successful. They entice kids to come to their programs and when something doesn't work, they are tossed aside like a punctured jockstrap. Teams pay a player $50 a week and own him totally for four or five years.
That's the type of thing that needs to be addressed for the good of these players.
As for the assertion that the CHL is comprised of 60 teams that all operate as individual corporate entities, it sounds an awful lot like the structure of the NHL and last time anyone looked, the NHL had a players' association.
If they are individual entities, the colluding not to pay a class of employees is not kosher. If these guys ever get their act together they would probably get a heap of concessions without even trying.
Etc.: Oklahoma kid will fill one of your commercial breaks at Michigan Stadium this fall, is probably taller than Dennis Norfleet. I want to like this "open letter to Brady Hoke" from Grantland, but open letters are always painful. Hey, writer-guy: Brady Hoke is not reading your stuff. I am. Talk to me, not him. OSU FR Adolphus Washington is 50 pounds heavier than he was when he signed his LOI. That's probably not good from their perspective.
YMRMFSPA: [404 File Not Found]
The recruiting news isn't coming as fast and furious as earlier this summer, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to discuss. This week's Recruitin' Mailbag covers the biggest needs in the 2014 class, the 2013 recruit with the best player comparison, potential switches in the 2012 class, and why Shane Morris's high school stats don't match the hype. If you'd like to ask a question for the next mailbag, email me or tag your question with #mgomailbag on Twitter.
What are the three biggest priorities for the 2014 class in terms of positions? — @browngalaga
Two position groups immediately stand out to me as top priorities for the 2014 class: quarterback and running back. While Michigan appears to have their quarterback of the future in Shane Morris, they didn't take a QB in 2012; if Devin Gardner doesn't get his medical redshirt, Morris and Russell Bellomy will be the only scholarship QBs on the roster in 2014. With Morris in the fold, it's not imperative that Michigan takes a top-100 type, but they'll need a solid prospect who's a good bet to start as an upperclassman.
At running back, Michigan isn't lacking in pure numbers—barring attrition, six scholarship RBs will be around in 2014, plus fullback Sione Houma—but they're still missing that workhorse, every-down back that Wolverine fans are accustomed to seeing. Instead, there's currently a variety of situational backs—Hayes and Norfleet as slot types, Rawls and Shallman as battering rams—plus DeVeon Smith and Drake Johnson. I don't see Johnson as a threat to crack the two-deep at running back, putting a lot of pressure on Smith to pan out. If Michigan whiffs on Derrick Green, they'll need a big-time prospect to come through in 2014.
As for the third position of need, that's a little tougher to pick, which says a lot about the job Hoke and Co. have done filling the holes in the roster. I'd go with nose tackle; unless Willie Henry and Maurice Hurst Jr. both land there and develop into rotation guys, there will be a huge need for depth behind Ondre Pipkins. At a position where you need a solid rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, getting at least one guy who can clog the middle certainly wouldn't hurt.
[HIT THE JUMP FOR DYMONTE THOMAS YMRMFSPA AND MORE]
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, TE AJ Williams, TE Devin Funchess, WR Jehu Chesson, and WR Amara Darboh.
|Salt Lake City, UT – 6'0", 227|
|Scout||3*, #5 FB|
|Rivals||3*, #5 FB|
|ESPN||2*, #4 FB|
|24/7||3*, #6 FB|
|Other Suitors||Utah, Washington|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. JeepinBen writes on the new role of fullbacks, comparing Houma's future role to that of Jacob "Not Devin" Hester.|
|Notes||Tongan, not Samoan. Plays the ukelele(!)|
Sione Houma was pigeonholed as a fullback and came out of lightly-recruited Utah, so there isn't much out there about him aside from the occasional basic scouting report and one pretty fanciful comparison($) to Stanley Havili, the former USC fullback who specialized in turning basic wheel routes into touchdowns in the era when Trojan opponents were going 11-on-1 versus Reggie Bush. That:
…reminds me of former USC fullback Stanley Havili, who also is from the Salt Lake City, Utah, area. Houma has great hands catching passes out of the backfield and enough speed to get the corner. He has a great frame to add weight to as well.
Havili had offers from USC, Oregon, Nebraska, and others, a four-star ranking from most places, and was universally the top guy in Utah that year. Houma's down the list, and didn't have any other offers from power-type programs. So probably not Havili.
That's not to say Houma is just another roughneck who moves like a dump truck when he gets the ball. His high school team ran a flexbone triple option in which Houma was the A-back—the guy who plunges up the middle over and over again. He got the plurality of carries in that offense, and he has the potential to be a ball carrier if things break that way. Hey, let's hear from Fred Jackson!
"He is the real deal. He can run the football. He is powerful. He is going to be a very good football player. he is very physical for a guy his size," Jackson said. "And you know he is around 220 (pounds). He is a very physical and has great skill. He is really a half-back on film, but he will play fullback."
"…and he can transform into a Dairy Queen."
ESPN does think he's got the ability to pick up those little chunks of yards($) as long as he's not asked to dodge someone:
Houma is a tweener fullback/tailback prospect …durable and tough but will need to add bulk to adjust if recruited to play fullback. Has better burst than top-end speed but is just fast enough at the high school level to not get caught from behind on long runs. … lacks great cutback vision and patience. … Quickly gains north-south momentum through the hole; little hesitation. … Physical downhill runner with good lower-body power and balance. Breaks through consistent first contact. …Minimal elusiveness in the openfield. … Will not be a perimeter threat at the major college level. …brings valued versatility to a two-back offense.
His coach is more positive, as is the way of things. He also makes Houma out to be a potentially useful ballcarrier:
"Just from what I have seen from last year to this year, he's got some speed, quickness and niftiness to him that it would not surprise me to see him in a bigger tailback spot where maybe they need to pound a little bit. I think he could fit that role as well."
"I think he could be 235 in a heartbeat and still retain a lot of that speed and quickness," Benson said. "I've seen him increase [his speed] just over the past year and he's gained 10-12 pounds in that time."
Elsewhere his coach notes "great hands" and the fact that he's a "good blocker" before mentioning this:
"Like when he runs, he keeps his feet moving, and that's always key; he lowers his pad level and will really hit you."
His coach told Sam Webb something similar:
"…a real nifty runner as far as being as big as he is, but he can also just lower his shoulder and run right over the top of you. He has got some power, some agility, definitely got some quickness and speed to him.
…what makes him so tough in our offense is that he does hit north and south and once he gets his shoulders turned, people have a hard time stopping him.”
Offer: explained. Rawls may have that sort of pile-pushing, leg churning short-yardage power but no one else on the roster is that kind of burrower and Michigan would like a guy that can do that and block and catch besides.
I'm serious about this Whipsaw Offense stuff. Houma is another piece, and one that Borges has proven he'll use in the past if it seems like a good idea($):
The fullback in Borges' previous offense at San Diego State accounted for the most fourth rushing yards and third most receiving yards on the team in 2010.
And that was the good SDSU year under Hoke, so that wasn't an "oh crap toss it short" thing. A guy like Houma is a viable target when you're flippin' your jibbers. TTB strikes on his real appeal to the coaches:
He's not huge and he's not particularly fast, but he's got a little bit of this and a little bit of that. He shows an ability to adjust to the ball in the air on short passes, he has a little bit of vision, he breaks away for an occasional long run, and he breaks some tackles in the process. …runs with a great forward lean when going through traffic. Since he's not particularly tall, that means anybody who hits him in the shoulder pads is bound to go backwards. …probably doesn't have the speed to break 50-yard runs or receptions, but he does have the ability to outrun linebackers and turn a 4-yard swing pass into a 10- or 15-yard swing passes.
Each of these guys covered in the big athlete category is a slightly different big athlete doing slightly different things, and we're about to hit Dennis Norfleet, who is by no means a "big athlete" but also promises to be a guy who does slightly different things than anyone else on the roster. Then next year you've got Butt and Hill coming in to add to the fun. Whipsaw, yo.
Etc.: Trades spring break time for service. Random quote:
"I just said thank you for your service. I think that is the ultimate sacrifice," said senior Izzy Washburn. "I also drew a giraffe. Everybody likes giraffes."
Houma, resembles a muscle car: It gains momentum as it accelerates, but with handling capable of diverting contact and racing to the end zone.
Why Matt Asiata? I don't keep a close eye on fullbacks around the world and there is no real comparable I can think of at Michigan. He's not at all BJ Askew-sized, he should be more than a Dudley-esque thumper, he's more likely to beat a linebacker on a wheel than Hopkins, and Aaron Shea is all wrong, too. (Also I'm saving Shea for Khalid Hill.) I thought about Brandon Minor, who's about the same size, but "great forward lean" and Brandon Minor are diametrically opposed concepts.
I do remember a squat, thick dude who went up the middle over and over again at Michigan Stadium a few years back… it's just that he was playing for Utah. Matt Asiata was a crunching FB/RB for the Utes and gashed Michigan for almost six yards a carry in that 2008 game just by running through tackles. I thought it was a little dubious to pull him up since I remember him being enormous, but apparently he was 5'11", 220. If Houma ends up contributing at a max level for M it'll be as a short-yardage, grinding change of pace back and thumping blocker, like Asiata.
If we really want to get crazy with the whole Whipsaw Offense thing, Asiata saw a ton of his carries as a wildcat QB.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Agreement, but fullback from Utah.
Variance: Moderate. Realistically will be a role player, but has pretty-important-role-player upside.
Ceiling: Low-plus. Role player of some variety, possibly important
General Excitement Level: Low-plus. Fullback, but a guy who they recruited to do more than dump truck people. While I generally hate fullback offers I can understand this one as part of Michigan assembling a Swiss Army Knife roster for Borges to do diabolical things with.
Projection: With Hopkins and redshirt freshman Joe Kerridge around, a redshirt beckons. After that it's another year behind Hopkins before sort of battling for the job as a redshirt sophomore. I say "sort of" because there's probably two slightly different roles for fullbacks in the new Michigan offense, one a traditional walk-on cruncher who leaves "two inches shorter than they came in" as Brady Hoke requested on Signing Day, the other more of a Shea/Havili/Asiata versatile H-back type who can take on a linebacker in the hole or flare out, etc. He's likely to play 15-30% of Michigan's snaps for his final three years, may end up a short yardage back, and will be a redzone option on play action.
One I’m buying in 2012, the other I’m selling
After digesting a couple dozen previews, preseason rankings and countless team articles, there are still a handful of teams that my numbers just don’t mesh with the hive mind. For an overview of my numbers used to predict team success, open up your HTTV to the Technical Dossier (no, not about Cass Tech recruiting). The overview is that factors such as returning experience, returning coaching and level of recruits still on the roster are all weighted based on historical significance. The formula is driven by which factors have been most important over the years, not which ones best suit a given (Michigan) team.
CLICK THROUGH for the Mathlete's post.
PREVIOUSLY ON "MGOBLOG WRITERS DRAFT BIG TEN TEAMS IN AN EFFORT TO IMPRESS ONLOOKERS IN THE WORLD'S LEAST EFFECTIVE MATING RITUAL"…
PICKS were made to start, and
PICKS were made to continue, and
PICKS were made to continue continuing, and
We join our COURAGEOUS DRAFTERS on the VOYAGER II SPACECRAFT at THE EDGE OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM. HEIKO is on the clock for the second pick of round WHATEVER.
We put a JUMP in this one because we probably should have been doing that all along.
CURRENT O: Braxton Miller (QB, OSU), Taylor Martinez (QB/RB, UNL), Patrick Omameh (OG, UM), Fou Fonoti (OT, Michigan State), Kyle Prater (WR, NW), Devin Gardner (QB/WR, UM), DeAnthony Arnett (WR, MSU)
CURRENT D: Michael Buchanan (DE, ILL), Jordan Hill(DT, PSU), Baker Steinkuhler (DT, UNL), Craig Roh (DE, UM), Max Bullough (LB, MSU), Kenny Demens (LB, UM), Ryan Shazier (LB, OSU), J.T. Floyd (CB, UM), Isaiah Lewis (FS, MSU), C.J. Barnett (SS, OSU)
KICKER(S): Brett Maher, K/P, Nebraska
BRIEF EXPLANATION: He had 31 knockdowns, 10 dominators, and allowed zero sacks last season as Michigan State's starting right tackle. I have no idea what some of those things mean, but they all seem like good things.
SNARK: "... poised to blow up in the mold of previous Michigan cornerbacks like Woodson, Hall, and Jackson." Who are you, Angelique Chengelis?
CURRENT O: Montee Ball (RB, UW), James Vandenberg (QB, IA), Ricky Wagner (OT, UW), Keenan Davis (WR, IA), Travis Frederick (C, UW), Spencer Long (G, NEB), Jake Stoneburner (TE, OSU), Brian Mulroe (G, NW)
CURRENT D: Chris Borland (LB, UW), William Gholston (DE, MSU), Johnny Adams (CB, MSU), Mike Taylor (LB, UW), Ricardo Allen (CB, PUR), Ibraheim Campbell (S, NW), Will Campbell (DT, MICH), Ondre Pipkins (NT, MICH)
BRIEF EXPLANATION: I won't pretend to know a ton about Northwestern's offensive line, so I'll trust Phil Steele (Mulroe: preseason second-team All-B1G), the coaches and media (honorable mention All-B1G in 2011), and the NFL draft boards (CBSSports has Mulrue as NW's top draft prospect) in making this selection. Mulroe has solid size at 6'4", 295, and he's lauded for his athleticism; he'll be the guy pulling when I run POWER. With this pick, I've locked up the clear-cut best interior line in our draft, and it might not be particularly close.
SNARK: See, Heiko, the interior line is the part of your offensive line that... oh, I give up.
CURRENT O: Denard Robinson (QB, M), Rex Burkhead (RB, Neb), Jeremy Gallon (Slot, M), Kofi Hughes (WR, Ind), Kenny Bell (WR, Neb), Jacob Pedersen (TE, Wis), Michael Schofield (OT, M), Graham Pocic (OL, Ill), Ricky Barnum (OG, MICH), James Ferentz (C, Iowa)
CURRENT D: John Hankins (NT, OSU), Kawaan Short (3T, Pur), Marcus Rush (DE, MSU), Jon Brown (MLB, Ill), Gerald Hodges (OLB, PSU), Jordan Kovacs (SS, M), Thomas Gordon (FS, M), Micah Hyde (CB, Iowa), Josh Johnson (CB, Pur)
EXPLANATION: Michigan goes into 2012 with its best safety tandem since...? If you can answer that question, you get to be there next time we're trying to figure that out for Hail to the Victors. Anyway I've got both, meaning I have complete and utter immunity from big plays, and now I also get to smugly stand by as Brian tries to explain why my ludicrous fumble recovery rate is all luck, dammit. Gordon isn't the flashiest of free safeties but even if he's Brandent Englemon, with this defense he too can spend most plays reading Infinite Jest.
He gets some help in that endeavor from Johnson, who the Mathlete says was the Big Ten's best cornerback last year. Hammer & Rails is of course biased but..
After having a season where he recorded 64 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and broke up nine passes, Johnson showed us that he is perfectly capable of hanging with the top receivers in the Big Ten.
He's right-sized for the position, can tackle, and his coverage, while knocked because he was operating with no safety help, is no worse than any of the guys taken above, especially the Michigan duo who just went off the board.
SNARK: MarQueis Gray was up to 6'4-250 last I checked. You haven't even drafted Keith Nichol; you've got Andy Mignery.
[ED: After the jump, everyone drafts more quarterbacks. Seriously.]
Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, TE AJ Williams, TE Devin Funchess, and WR Jehu Chesson.
|Des Moines, IA – 6'2", 220|
|Scout||4*, #32 WR, #205 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #30 WR, #215 overall, #1 IA|
|ESPN||3*, #82 WR, #1 IA|
|24/7||4*, #26 WR, #199 overall, #1 IA|
|Other Suitors||Florida, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan State, Okie State|
|YMRMFSPA||Aw, hell, Jason Avant|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Born in Sierra Leone.|
Amara Darboh is prime Rinaldi tear-jerkin' steak #2, a refugee who landed in Iowa and grew into a college-level wide receiver. He comes to Michigan with more recruiting hype, muscle, and sweet offers than Chesson, but lacks the lanky leaping ability that could turn Chesson into a premiere downfield threat if Michigan gets lucky. Darboh is less of a wildcard… but that doesn't mean he can't be a high quality option.
Here again we have some conflicting opinions. Unusually, it's his high school coach who's saying the things that are not rapturous($):
"He runs 4.42 but I wouldn't say that he's a burner by any stretch of the imagination," said Wilson. "He's a reliable guy that can make the tough catches for you. … he's a bigger physical presence. He's not a make you miss kinda guy."
That a kid can run a low 4.4 according to his coach and get called "not a burner by any stretch of the imagination" by his coach shows you the tao of FAKE 40 times. On the high school level these guys usually are burners, and coaches call 'em that, and call 'em that even if they aren't burners. Allen Trieu is also in the anti-Trogdor camp, or is he?
Body Control / Elusiveness with Catch / Hands and Concentration
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Above average size and speed ratio. Maybe not a burner, but has solid deep speed. Excellent hands, ball skills, and ability to go up and get the ball in traffic. He tracks the ball well and has good body control. After the catch he has good ability and is a pretty strong kid that can break tackles in the open field.
Speed is a negative, deep speed is "solid." Searching for negatives is a good sign, or just a confusing one.
A couple of other recruiting guys give the impression that Darboh could be one of those weapon things. Irish Illustrated's Tim Prister got hyped($) after ND's extremely early($)—like October of his junior year early—offer:
Excellent size and length help accentuate his deer-like athleticism with the football in the air. Shows nice balance maintaining his feet and running after catches for which he leaves the ground to make. Very fast - probably in the low-to-mid 4.4s - with an effortless running motion. Shows a consistent ability to run away from the crowd in pursuit.
We seem to be in disagreement about whether 4.4 is fast (hell yes unless you're hand timing Denard to run 3.8).
And Rivals's Josh Helmholdt provides the most singularly useless comparison ever($)
I loved Darboh's highlight film the first time I saw it. He is big, he is fast and he is a playmaker. Unfortunately film is the only thing I have seen on Darboh. …
Who does he remind me of? I'll go with a poorer man's version of Fred Rouse circa 2005. Both good-sized receivers with that wiggle to turn a screen pass into a big gainer. Let's hope Darboh has a better head on his shoulders.
Rouse was a five star who flamed out before ever seeing the field, so exactly no one has any idea what that's supposed to mean. But it's good, right? Five star.
247's Clint Brewster says "burner for his size," FWIW
Darboh shows exceptional speed as a bigger receiver and has another gear once he gets free from a defensive back. Quickness is another aspect that separates Darboh from his competition, as he consistently picks up big gains from short screens or pass patterns. Darboh shows excellent strength and athleticism by breaking tackles from smaller corners and staying up-right.
ESPN is also a little uncertain about whether he's a possession guy or something more, calling him "part playmaker and part possession player($)"
…combination of strength and quickness as a big receiver with a sturdy build, long arms and nice height… will be at his best working against zone and soft-man coverage. Is adept at finding soft spots in zone and creating passing windows for his quarterback when working out of the slot. Not afraid to go over the middle and will make the tough catch in traffic. …does an excellent job of adjusting to the poorly thrown ball …Has some wiggle in the open field …real upside as a red area target on slants and fades as he knows how to position himself and use his size. We are somewhat concerned about Darboh's top end speed.
They also knock his route-running skills; Brewster did the same. That flaw is easily explainable. According to his coach he came to his high school program a blank slate:
“He was very raw,” Wilson said. “He could run and catch the ball, but he didn’t know anything about running routes or blocking. He had little knowledge of football. We got the chance to teach him from ground zero, and that might have worked to our benefit.”
It certainly benefited Darboh.
“He didn’t have any habits,” Wilson continued. “He was like a sponge. He would take in everything and he wanted to learn and become better. He never shied away from the work.”
Darboh was focused on soccer until high school, FWIW.
Like Chesson, Darboh comes to Michigan with a horde of people chasing after him saying great things about his work ethic, character, and academics, and thus seems like a good bet to stick and a good bet to become whatever his potential will allow him to be. Like Chesson, Darboh picked up football late and has some work to do before he has the little things positions coaches obsess over. Also: refugee.
Unlike Chesson, Darboh is approximately the size the coaches want him to be already, which will ease his glide path onto the field. Both guys will be primarily outside receivers, with Chesson more likely to end up on the backside of a play running those one-on-one cuts that Junior Hemingway went deep on this year. Darboh will be the guy running square-ins under him, for the most part.
“I think he’s a passionate kid that’s working to become the best he can be,” Wilson said. “I think he’s willing to push himself. I know the coaches are going to push to make Amara the best player he can be, and the best person he can be. Amara takes a lot of pride in what he does, and I know he’s not going to settle in doing anything less than his best.”
As a senior Darboh brought in 48 passes for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns in just seven games (a dislocated shoulder cost him four), which is high-quality production, albeit against Iowa competition.
Why Jason Avant? I know, I know: I drag out the Jason Avant comparison and nobody ever ends up much like him. It is impossible to project those hands onto anyone else. But Amara Darboh is a bulky four-star type with good not great speed and a reputation for going over the middle. He is not regarded as the ultimate jump ball artist, he is well-regarded despite that, and he seems to have the sort of A+ character that Avant had.
It's either Avant or Greg Mathews, but it's hard to know how well Mathews would have done if he had real quarterbacks. His coach has another suggestion:
"He's a big, physical player," Dowling coach Tom Wilson said of his 6-2, 200-pounder. "I've seen him compared to Roddy White of the Falcons — a bigger guy that can run very well."
Roddy White's actually a couple inches shorter than Darboh and smaller as an NFL player, FWIW. Another comparison that seems plausible: recently departed Iowa WR Marvin McNutt, a 6'3", 220 pound guy who was killer on slants, generally unjammable, and a bit of a late bloomer after coming to Iowa at QB.
Guru Reliability: Moderate-plus. They're all in agreement except for ESPN's off-the-wall GTFO that I don't care about because this is the geographical area ESPN couldn't give two craps about. OTOH, no camps, it appears, and no All Star appearance, plus an injury his senior year.
Variance: Low-plus. Already college-sized, character is sterling. Does need to learn the craft; seems like the kind of kid where that's just a matter of time.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. "Not a burner," but looks like a high quality #2 in an ideal situation.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. If I could guarantee those Avant hands it would be MASSIVE, but those have proven elusive.
Projection: Getting some early practice buzz and likely to play with the uncertain state of the WR corps. Sounds like he'll have to work his way into the lineup with better routes and blocking, but has a reasonable shot at displacing second-string guys for playing time at midseason.
In 2013 will fight with Jeremy Jackson and Ricardo Miller for the move-the-chains spot. I don't think Miller will be much of a threat given his interlude at TE, and Darboh has a huge advantage in athleticism. I'd give him the edge.