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 + SLOT.
PACK YOUR BAGS
Crazy productive interior DL. Had just about the same grade at PFF as Michigan's NFL-bound stars despite getting about 60% of their snaps, with more QB hurries than anyone on the team. That's overall, not on a per-snap basis. Likely first rounder in the next NFL draft. Could have gone this year. Get in his belly.
Bounce to guard a possibility if Michigan decides that starter #5 is Kugler or Ruiz; even so Cole is a lock to start. Needs more power if he's going to be a star. PFF liked him (+10.8) a year ago; they did not love him. Addition of Greg Frey and (possible) increased focused on outside zone might help him, as he is highly agile. Excellent in pass pro.
Omar comin', except his name is Rashan and he is not little. Like Hurst, stuck behind future pros in 2016. Still flashed freaky ability; year two should be a breakout year so enormous it shatters windows across the Midwest. #1 overall prospects are in fact guarantees, and Gary showed plenty to indicate he would not be an exception.
Sole returning member of the front seven had some edge issues last year. Tackling in space was an Area For Improvement, as they say. Positives outweighed negatives, though, as McCray was an outstanding blitzer and reliably in the place he was supposed to be. Probably moves to MLB.
Projecting him on the outside now since Michigan's tackle recruiting ended with a bit of a splat. Bredeson was reputed to be neck and neck with Grant Newsome for the LT job in fall camp; while that turned out to be fiction, Bredeson started most of the season at G after Newsome's injury. Cole-like gentleman will get a lot better in year two.
Bumped him to a lock. Because, I mean, obviously. 63%, 8.1 YPA, 17-5 TD-INT sophomore year. Impressive pocket presence, plus—but not perfect—accuracy, and increasing command of the offense will be tough to compete with. If he improves like Harbaugh quarterbacks always do you're looking at an All Big Ten player. (And an ugly shirt.)
UNLESS SOMETHING STRANGE HAPPENS
Got more playing time than any other secondary backup, and played well. Defense did not miss a beat when he was in for extended periods. Used as a dimeback, mostly, for a four-safety look. Recruiting rep suggests he fits what Brown wants in his safeties—man coverage capable hitters. Old-ass-looking-man game strong. M needs to fill that role w/ Hill to the NFL.
Ebullient pass rusher produced five sacks despite playing time often measured in single-digit snaps. 27 pressure events on just 277 snaps is outstanding production, and PFF even liked him as a run defender (+6.5). Best case scenario for him after spending 2015 as an H-back. Jake Ryan-at-DE comps look spot on so far.
Bounce for Onwenu since we're hearing that he was outstanding in practice last year and is widely regarded as a lock to move into the starting lineup by people close to the program. A 350 pound grape-destroying guard does sound rather like something Jim Harbaugh would favor. +3 in 91 snaps to PFF last year. That's like +30 for a full season. Caveat: Rutgers.
Hearing that Bush's active hands and advanced ability to read plays has him well in front of his competition. Size is the only issue at the moment, and while he's always going to be 5'11" he can still pack on some muscle. Having dad around doesn't hurt his development, either. Brings a much-needed infusion of dreads to the starting lineup. Has no idea how to draw a Wolverine.
Ol' Skillet Hands did not have the breakout season many anticipated thanks in part to injury; flashed massive receiving upside after Butt's exit against FSU. Also blew a pass protection rather spectacularly, but Bunting's around to not be covered when he's covered, if you get my drift. Blocking is a sidelight. Should get most of Butt's targets this year.
Bounce for both corners from the 2016 class w/ Jeremy Clark's exit. Hill edges Long thanks to late-season playing time and a couple of nice, Lewis-like PBUs. Ambry Thomas will push; bet here is that St-Juste needs at least a year of seasoning. Hill passed the rest of the roster by midseason last year.
Bet here is that lack of playing time for long was more about an opportunity to redshirt him after he missed a couple early games rather than a talent thing. Long was regarded as the highest-floor guy in the class by Lorenz and others last year and would have borne that out without a series of nagging injuries.
Slight ding for Mone since Michigan added a couple of threats to play early in Aubrey Solomon and underrated James Hudson. Still in the near-lock category because young DL are usually bad. Flashed his talent late in the year, most prominently vs OSU. Now is the time to deliver. Deliver meats.
If I had a Panda / I'd hammer in the morning / I'd hammer in the evening / but only in the endzone. Impact Fullback Khalid Hill specialized in two-for-one edge blocks, one yard touchdown runs, wide open flare routes, spectacular catches, and self-nicknaming that was so amazing people just ran with it.
FAIRLY SAFE BET
Quick-twitch athlete emerged into clear #2 behind Smith by season's end. Capable of nasty short-area jukes; doesn't break many tackles; home-run hitter. Receiving upside unexplored last year but will emerge as his career wears on. Will split snaps with Isaac, Higdon, and others in crowded backfield. Should be allowed to wear a helmet that has his hair on it.
Looming legal issues bust him down several spots, not to mention the addition of Oliver Martin. Accusations are of the suspension, not expulsion nature, and the fact that Perry's going to court about it means this might be more like that thing with Marlin Jackson back in the day. Worst case is probably a diversion. Still a route artisan who sold various double moves and a redzone weapon.
Emerged as clear #3 option on the outside thanks in large part to terrific blocking. Had one bad drop and one badass catch to go with some more routine events. Arrival of mondo WR recruiting class doesn't occasion major hit for him since freshman WRs are usually bad, and that blocking tho. Meanwhile only DPJ was clearly a higher-rated recruit.
Kaiju coin flip currently easy choice since there are deeply unfortunate rumors that Asiasi is seeking a transfer to the West Coast. Both guys flashed A+ blocking ability and receiving that should not be a thing given their size. Both have huge upside, and should start paying that off this year. Someone get a big ol' butterfly net for Asiasi.
IN A BATTLE
Never should have had him as high as he was since he is a kicker. A kicker who was 2/3 on field goals as a senior. He could be an Aguayo or go 0/20 before returning to his home planet. This is the way of the kicker. Ryan Tice also an option; reportedly decent in practice.Committed to Penn State w/ ridiculous video, which we 1000% approve of.
Peppers's backup last year, and well-liked by the coaches. But how does Furbush replace a safety? Because that's what Peppers is, a safety. Most Don Brown SAM top out at 215, and Furbush is much bigger than that. Wouldn't be surprised to see him move inside, or reprise his backup role behind a Hudson type.
Drop for Hudson as reports indicate he's had some struggles in coverage. Still here because the alternatives are all freshmen, and also he is an MGoFave-Rave. Spring will confirm or dis-confirm his ability at safety; if not there's always VIPER(!!!) or RB. Blocked two punts a year ago.
Metellus bounces Watson as it's clear Michigan will deploy a spacebacker type. Metellus prime candidate to be that guy after spotting Jabrill Peppers in the bowl game and adding insult to injury with six mean-ass tackles against Rutgers. Won't be Peppers unless someone unearths a terrible ritual from Earth's ancient past and what are you waiting for go do it.
Foresight of using Jordan Glasgow in a bear shirt instead of a picture of the punter in question should now be undeniable, as I can leave Jordan Glasgow in a bear shirt up instead of scouring the internet for a picture of Brad Robbins, new scholarship punter and hang-time specialist.
W/ Bredeson outside there is an available G spot. We're going with redshirt senior Patrick Kugler over Cesar Ruiz because we just saw a highly touted freshman OL at this very guard spot and it was a bit grim. Kugler was the clear #6 on the line a year ago, occasionally spotting Kyle Kalis when he was dinged. PFF had him +0.3 in 118 snaps. This was in fact better than the starters. Caveat: Rutgers.
Harris is under significantly more threat than Crawford because he's less likely to take a big step forward since he's been on campus a couple more years and he hasn't erased a bunch of DBs. Keeping him a hair in front of DPJ, et al., because he is apparently good buds with Speight and looked like he might approach his HS self on various downfield opportunities last year.
Hearing conflicting things about Grant Newsome's availability; we'll take the pessimistic road here and project a redshirt for him. Michigan will thus be choosing between JBB (-2.6 in just 179 snaps last year) and a freshman. We're thinking freshman. Stueber has the size at almost 6'7" and Lorenz swears up and down he's underrated, so here's a 27th ticket.
TECHNICALLY NOT STARTERS BUT CLOSE ENOUGH
RB Drake Johnson—Michigan will apply for sixth year, but do they have the room?
RB Ty Isaac—spring hype petered out into decent play.
RB Karan Higdon—Impressed with his quick cuts and low pad level. Will continue to see snaps.
FB Henry Poggi—less dynamic Michigan fullback, and one who had some issues getting his hat on someone last year.
WR Eddie McDoom—MCDOOOOOOOOM
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones—Braylon 2.0? Except with better hands? Maybe.
TE Devin Asiasi—baby please don't go.
T Grant Newsome—maybe he can get there this year. Maybe not.
CB Ambry Thomas—let's have a tiny war.
CB Brandon Watson—nickelback sort got a reasonable amount of PT last year.
PUSHING FROM BEHIND
QB Brandon Peters—first Harbaugh-selected QB on the roster comes with massive expectations.
QB John O'Korn—iffy Indiana outing was a win, at least.
RB Kareem Walker—academic redshirt out of the way and time to start displaying that talent.
RB Kingston Davis—some transfer chatter.
FB Ben Mason—will get shot at LB but FB depth chart is wide open next year
WR Nate Johnson—mean-ass slot receiver, if that's a thing. Golden Tate is ceiling.
WR Moe Ways—passed by Crawford and Harris. Getting late early.
WR Tarik Black—mondo outside WR impressed at Army game.
WR Oliver Martin—slot-ish guy with downfield upside and not-just-a-shooter athleticism.
WR Nico Collins—Funchess 2.0?
TE Sean McKeon—probably did get a redshirt after all.
T Juwann Bushell-Beatty—sixth OL after the Newsome injury so there's probably some chance, but played poorly.
C Cesar Ruiz—advanced C prospect will push for starting job
SDE Carlo Kemp—well liked by coaching staff and should be Gary's backup.
NT Michael Dwumfour—hearing positive things about his ability; Glasgow-esque.
NT Aubrey Solomon—monster five star nose prospect will be in two deep from the drop.
3T James Hudson—Henry 2.0.
WDE Ron Johnson—hyped edge rusher could be Winovich's backup.
WDE Luiji Vilain—big mover after Army game will push for PT immediately.
ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse—most likely ILB backup given roster.
SAM Josh Uche—Don Brown dude could be chaos generator.
S Jaylen Kelly-Powell—Cass's pick to cover Ambry Thomas. Promises to be slot-coverage safety.
S J'Marick Woods—3.5 out of Alabama was a favorite of the coaching staff
S Brad Hawkins—we're just going to make this position switch now.
WAITING THEIR TURN
QB Alex Malzone—not really in the race, it seems.
QB Dylan McCaffrey—oblig redshirt year coming up.
RB O'Maury Samuels—just too many bodies in front of him
RB Kurt Taylor—Vincent Smith-alike will likely spend year getting pass pro down
TE Nick Eubanks—Funchess 2.0
TE Zach Gentry—actually played WR for much of last year. Development will be fascinating.
C Jon Runyan Jr.—right bloodlines at least.
G Stephen Spanellis—road grader needs seasoning.
G JaRaymond Hall—only incoming OL listed at under 300.
G Phil Paea—two-way DL/OL will probably land on O.
T Nolan Ulizio—some playing time he seemed iffy in. Reportedly had mono and was too light.
T Chuck Filiaga—had some Army game struggles; redshirt likely.
T Joel Honigford—redshirt, weight, etc.
3T Lawrence Marshall—now 285 and a three tech, which is one too many moves.
3T Deron Irving-Bey—raw prospect but did enroll early.
SDE Donovan Jeter—ND decommit w/ salty comments afterwards will be fan favorite
WDE Reuben Jones—worker popular with teammates.
WDE Kwity Paye—seasoning necessary, but Don Brown dude.
MLB Drew Singleton—coming off ACL surgery and probably needs a year
SAM Jordan Anthony—heated VIPER competition in front of him
WLB Josh Ross—younger brother of James brings more size, fewer instincts.
CB Keith Washington—did not find PT last year, will try again.
CB Benjamin St Juste—probably needs some seasoning after playing in Canada.
Bracket Watch: The Other Bracket Looms
it us. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
The outlook is grim. After everyone but Derrick Walton sleepwalked their way to a loss against a mediocre Ohio State team, Michigan is 14-9 (4-6 B1G) and out of the projected NCAA tournament field. The Wolverines have to climb out of an increasingly big hole and they may have already missed their chance; KenPom says they've played the easiest conference schedule of any Big Ten team so far, and that's about to change in a major way:
Michigan only has three home games left; of those, a more confident and rested Michigan State squad is by far the most beatable. The Wolverines have yet to win a road game this season; they'll need to take at least two, and quite possibly as many as all five left on the docket, to have a realistic shot at an at-large bid. They're 79th in RPI. I had to edit the second sentence of this post multiple times before it was family-friendly.
If they lose tomorrow night, NIT bracket-watching begins in earnest.
[After THE JUMP: Some good news! Really! Also some bad news.]
As you might imagine after back to back classes in the high 20s, the 2018 class projects to be small. There are only nine seniors on the roster going into 2017. There are a number of guys who might not be brought back for a fifth year and there will always be losses to injury, the NFL draft and playing time transfers. The rise of early enrollment also creates a class of Derrick Green sorts who can grad transfer after three or three and a half years; there are another few guys who will end up seeing no path to playing time and take that route.
It would still be a surprise to see Michigan crack 20 recruits. 16-20 is a reasonable range.
Thompson-Robinson would be the most dynamic QB Harbaugh has brought in
The Roster. Michigan has Dylan McCaffrey and Brandon Peters in the last two classes. Both are tall, lanky pocket passers ranked just outside the top 100 on the composite. Nonetheless, Michigan will take one because you always take one.
The Recruits. Top target and NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson says UCLA is his leader—Jedd Fisch moving to the Bruins doesn't help there—but mom is a Michigan grad and Jim Mora is on the hotseat after a 4-8 year. Various other early targets have fallen by the wayside. Seven of the top ten pro-style QBs in the country are already committed; Michigan isn't involved with any of the remaining unless they pick it back up with IMG QB Arthur Sitkowski.
Instater Theo Day hasn't gotten much attention from Michigan yet, but he could draw more interest if DTR continues to trend towards UCLA. 24/7 bumped him to high four star status recently.
The Projection. 40% Thompson-Robinson, 30% Day, 30% a three star sort nobody's talking about right now.
The Roster. Despite a couple of late misses in the 2017 cycle, Michigan enters this year with a loaded backfield. Karan Higdon and Chris Evans were rotation pieces last year, with Evans emerging into the clear #2, and both will still be around when the 2018 class matriculates. Michigan also has Kingston Davis and Kareem Walker coming off redshirts along with incoming freshmen Kurt Taylor and O'Maury Samuels.
In a class that looks to be small this is a spot where Michigan can skimp. They'll probably grab one. Anything more would be a surprise.
The Recruits. IMG RB TJ Pledger is an all-purpose sort who Michigan has been pursuing heavily. He's originally from California. The other guys 247 lists as targets in their top two categories are 1) a guy from Ohio everyone expects to pick OSU, 2) a guy from Mississippi, next, and 3) a guy from Atlanta who currently seems to favor the Gators.
The Projection. One guy we haven't heard of yet.
St Brown will probably end up at ND, but if they go 4-8 again...
The Roster. Michigan's coming off an epic five-man recruiting class and reportedly likes the three survivors from the 2016 class, so they can swing for the fences here. If they don't hit on a big timer or two they can settle for a couple lower-ranked types and nobody's going to panic.
The Recruits. Big timers on the radar:
- CA WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has an older brother at ND.
- TX WR Al'vonte Woodard. Woodard's father was a reserve WR for Gary Moeller in the early 90s.
- CA WR Jalen Hall. Hall is the #1 receiver in the country at this point in the cycle. He's from one of those LA high schools which virtually guarantee the player in question will end up at USC, but Donovan Warren and all that.
- NJ WR Jahan Dotson. From New Jersey.
That's not a long list and nobody on it seems particularly likely to end up at Michigan. There's a dearth of top receiving prospects in the Midwest this year. The composite currently has just two four-star WRs in the traditional Big Ten footprint: a kid out of Ohio who is committed to MSU (for now, anyway) and a low four star in PA. It's a good thing they loaded up this year.
Instate options are limited. The only WR currently on the composite is Southfield's Brandon Gray. At 6'5" he's intriguing. To date he's mostly fielded MSU interest.
The Projection. One or two guys nobody's talking about yet. If Michigan's lucky they'll be Oliver Martin types. If not they'll be three stars.
The Roster. Probably the only spot where need could be considered dire after a taking a pass on the position in 2016. Michigan will definitely take two and probably three. Holding onto Devin Asiasi, who transfer rumors are flying about, is obviously a key inflection point.
The Recruits. You can pencil in FL TE Will Mallory, who is one of those Mallorys. Other options:
- NV TE Brevin Jordan, a teammate of Thompson-Robinson's at Bishop Gorman.
- NY TE Jeremy Ruckert, who looks set to be a Michigan-OSU battle.
- FL TE JUDGE CULPEPPER, who is the law. Also from Tampa, where Frey does work.
- TX TE Mustapha Muhammad. Michigan was after him heavily but Lorenz recently reported that he was leaning towards schools closer to home.
Nobody other than Mallory seems like a slam dunk.
The Projection. Mallory, Ruckert, and an unknown name.
The Roster. Michigan got five in the previous class but wanted up to eight; OL will again be a priority. They have 14 OL now, will lose Mason Cole and Patrick Kugler after the season, and likely want to get up to 16 or 17. Expect another four or five guys.
The Recruits. One of those guys is already committed, IN OL Emil Ekiyor. At 6'3" Ekiyor is an interior OL only, but he's a highly regarded one: top 100 in the composite and the #4 guard in the country. Michigan has three OL recruits who are early four-stars on the composite: guard Marquan McCall, a teammate of JaRaymond Hall, center Tyrone Sampson Jr, and tackle Ryan Hayes. Michigan is the early crystal ball leader for McCall; MSU is the favorite for the other two. A fourth will arrive this fall, with FL OL Antwan Reed transferring back to Muskegon from IMG.
National names include Richard Gouraige and Nicholas Petit-Frere, who are both from the Tampa Bay area that has been a Greg Frey specialty. Oh and this guy:
Hell yes, 6'9" 390 pound Daniel Faalele is worth a flier.
The Projection. Ekiyor, Faalele, one of the Tampa kids, and McCall.
Ohio State muscled their way to the basket, then missed, then rebounded, picked up a foul, and made their free throws. Then Michigan attempted a three. That could be how the game ended, or any possession in a one-way physical battle that might have elbowed Michigan out of a place in the tournament. In fact I wrote it with six minutes left in the game. I get no points.
In a game expected to come down to whose backup center spent more time on the floor Michigan couldn’t keep its starter out there for more than five minutes. Unable to win battles in the paint Michigan lived and died by its three-point shooting while Ohio State owned the boards, taking 16/33 offensive rebound opportunities and 26/33 on their own end. The numerous second opportunities on Michigan’s side led to a lot of fouls, putting the Wolverines’ best frontcourt defenders on the bench and exacerbating the mismatches down low.
Derrick Walton continued his inspiring play since the Illinois “white collar” comment, leading all scorers with 25 points and nearly his team to a late comeback. Walton finished 6/9 from distance (a possible 7th was called a two-pointer could have gone either way). He also led the Michigan defensive effort with 10 rebounds, including his team’s first OREB of the game late in the 1st half, when he out-leapt even his own center:
Walton also drove to nearly tie it right before freethrowtime, missing both a tough layup and his attempted put-back. After Ohio State missed two free throws—just their third and fourth whiffed freebies of the game—Walton again put Michigan within one with his last three-pointer. That would do it for Wolverine scoring; Ohio State made their next four attempts to finish 24 for 28 at the charity stripe.
Michigan started on a 9-2 run and pushed it as far as 19-8 early. But Ohio State battled back to a 36-35 halftime lead by dominating the boards on both ends despite their own foul troubles. The Buckeyes’ 10-1 first half advantage in offensive rebounds was augmented by an uncharacteristic six turnovers for Michigan, half off the hands of Irvin.
Matters got worse early in the first half as both Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson quickly picked up their third fouls. Ohio State took advantage, pushing their lead to 47-39 by the next break as their frontcourt feasted on Donnal and Robinson. Wagner came back in at the 15 minute mark but immediately picked his fourth whistle, putting Donnal back on the floor. Moe would enter again late, fouling out on Michigan’s last wrap-up in the waning seconds. Teske did not play.
Michigan has its other, more basketbally rival coming to town for a night game this week. It’s hard to see this team making the tournament if they’re as accommodating to those guests too.
|WHAT||Michigan (14-8, 4-5 B1G) vs
OSU (13-10, 3-7)
Ann Arbor, MI
|LINE||Michigan –8 (KenPom)|
Coming off a disappointingly typical loss at Michigan State against a very much untypical MSU team, Michigan now faces a must-win against reeling Ohio State. Per Kenpom this is Michigan's most likely win left on the schedule, a 75% shot. (At Rutgers is only 69% despite Rutgers being almost 100 slots worse in overall ranking, if you want a stark indicator of how much home and away swing affect college basketball.)
It would be nice if Zak Irvin had a bounce back.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||3||Kam Williams||Jr.||6'2, 185||77||16||104||No|
|PG-sized but tiny assist/FTs rates and low TO rate mark him as Just A Shooter. Do not send to line, not that he'll force the issue there much.|
|G||4||JaQuan Lyle||So.||6'5, 210||78||23||107||No|
|Main creator has #56 assist rate in country, but TOs limit efficiency. Still the #1 guy Michigan has to check.|
|F||14||Jae'Sean Tate||Jr.||6'4, 230||79||33||108||Very|
|Junkyard dog has seen rebound numbers drop thanks to teammate Thompson; highly efficient at the rim, no game elsewhere.|
|F||0||Marc Loving||Sr.||6'8, 220||83||20||100||No|
|Never quite put it together. Good outside shooter; rest of his game is weak, with a bunch of TOs and iffy efficiency.|
|C||35||Trevor Thompson||Jr.||7'0, 250||56||23||115||Very|
|Rebound machine 40th nationally in OREB rate and 9th in DREB rate, also racks up a ton of blocks. Good FT shooter, too|
|G||51||CJ Jackson||So.||6'1, 175||38||20||97||Yes|
|Backup PG has similar assist/TO rates as Lyle; weak shooter.|
|F||25||Micah Potter||Fr.||6'9, 240||32||16||101||No|
|Backup post is all-around worse version of Thompson, but can shoot threes a bit.|
|F||5||Andre Wesson||Fr.||6'6, 220||22||16||83||Yes|
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
I have revamped my player database, and learned how to make gorgeous interactive charts. Wanna see where this class stacks up?
Mouse over the dots to see whom each belongs to. The orange ones are this year’s class (they limit free users to only a few colors and I was trying out a bunch of these).
[UPDATE: Didn’t see that they limit your views too. No more interactivity—if somebody knows a good site to build these let me know. In the meantime if you download this and open it in your browser I think it will work for you.
The spreadsheet still lives here and includes a ton of updated data thanks to some readers who helped me out. If you want to see the actual ratings and rankings that went into these numbers I’ve put that all on a separate tab. Behold:
I had some help. Reader David Moorhead pulled out all of his old recruiting issues of The Wolverine that had data going back to 1990. Much of the National Recruiting Advisor (ancestor of Rivals), Parade, Lemming, PrepStar, Street & Smith, USA Today, and SuperPrep (Scout predecessor) data came from his work. Also reader Jeff Alotta helped me play around with the math some as I tried to rebuild how I give out star ratings for regional and national position ranks.
SO, HOW DID WE DO THIS YEAR?
The receivers and front seven look amazing when stacked against the players who’ve come through here in the modern era. It’s also a very balanced class. And it’s huge. Getting to Best Class Ever™ would be tough. The Class of ’94 formed the basis of a national championship team and while not everyone stuck around almost everyone made it to the NFL. The next class then produced two guys in the conversation for greatest football player who ever lived in Woodson and Brady. On the other hand this class matches either of those in average quality, and then doubles the size.
AND STARS MATTER?
That appears to be the case, statistically, when I compare the star ratings of past players to how many games they started at Michigan. Note not just the trendline, but where the NFL players came from:
The average star rating (on my 5-star sliding scale) of a future NFL player coming out of high school was just under 4.25. That’s roughly equivalent to a top-125 player who’s the #2 player in Ohio or the 9th best cornerback in a deep year.
That r-squared is saying “they’re related but star rating is no guarantee.” Note however that lots of starts don’t necessarily mean quality, e.g. Ezeh. You should also note that the number of little diamonds bunched at zero starts gets thinned out considerably as it gets into the 4-star range. This is consistent with every other study that compares on-field performance to recruiting ranking, which always show you can get great players from the 3-star ranks but the higher-rated players are progressively more likely to contribute.
Let’s blow up that bottom corner to see the 5-stars who had fewer than 10 starts at Michigan:
It’s hard to look at that and make a claim that the scouts got it wrong. Five of the seven left with eligibility remaining to play with another Power 5 school or the Yankees—Fargas, Simmons, and Mallett would all play well as upperclassmen elsewhere and stick in NFL. Baraka couldn’t stay sober, so that wasn’t even a scouting issue. Henson is a special case.
That leaves Green and Grady. On review of every other consensus 5-star running back in recruiting database history up to when Green committed that seems to just be horrible bad luck. Grady and Green were overrated or undeveloped, which sucks since every other RB rated as highly was either awesome or lost his career to something not related to talent.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
The last two classes, like the 2012-’13 hauls under Hoke, are making up for the two smaller classes between. The 2016 class had to play a lot of guys right away to fill the depth chart and this year will be the same. There’s no way around having an incredibly young team this year. By next year however these hauls will start to show. I think we’re done with 30-man classes for the time being.
National championship teams have to get close enough for luck to do the rest. The 2016 team was that with terrible luck despite a lot more misses than normal for the quality and size of Hoke’s early classes that built it. Harbaugh’s found Michigan another one or two shots at it again down the road. That’s all you can ask.
[ed-Seth: Special thanks this year to Matt Gase, Michigan grad and CEO of Eat Well Embrace Life, for being a most excellent sponsor of Joe Pichey’s most excellent recipes. I don’t know if I’d have tried his stuff if he wasn’t a sponsor, but now that I have I freak out when my wife forgets to pick up more. He’s also got some plain ones out there now that I plan to try.]
I don’t know about you guys, but I am a strong believer that all Super Bowl grub should be of the FINGER FOOD variety. I need one hand for my beverage of choice and one hand filled with something smoked, fried or DIP-ABLE. Preferably with meat or cheese tucked away all up in there. These 2 recipes have been favorites for awhile and are really easy. I learned a new technique from my buddy Trace of ThunderBird Wings & Thighs Food Truck in Nashville and I’m passing it along. It’s my new favorite way to smoke wings and I’m sure you will love it. His Chicken Scratch rub is LEGIT and fantastic on Wing and Thighs.
- Chicken Wings (Leave em whole or separate them into dummies and midsections)
- Olive Oil
- Thunderbird Chicken Scratch Rub - (Please add link) www.thunderbirdwings.com
- Honey or Maple Syrup
Fire your smoker up to 225 - 250 degrees and add some PECAN wood to the coals. I know, I know!!! Only 225 - 250 degrees for chicken wings? What about the skin? That’s exactly what I said too. I have always smoked my wings at 325-350 degrees to make sure my skin was crispy at the end. This was more grilling than smoking, but It still produced good wings. Trust me, this method is better. As your smoker is heating up. separate your wings into sections or leave them whole. I did a little of each for this batch. I added all of these to a large bowl and added a little olive oil. Just enough to coat the wings. For these 20 wings, it was about 3 TBS.
[Hit THE JUMP to see how to get that gold. AND A BONUS RECIPE]
In the beginning, it seemed like things might change. Michigan’s defense has been giving up more shot attempts than their offense has been generating from the drop, but the freshman class seemed to inject a bit more tenacity into Michigan’s forechecking. Opponents held the puck for long stretches, but it seemed that the prime scoring chances ceded by defenses in years past, the ones right in front of the net, may have been corrected. At least, that’s what this writer naively believed.
We’re now a bit past the midway point in the season and, thanks to some meticulous stat tracking, we have data to lean on that suggests the unchecked-man-in-front-of-the-net problem has not been remedied. An idea that’s gained popularity over the last few years among NHL advanced stats wonks is separating out from which area a shot is attempted. Those analysts have found what one might expect: more goals are scored from the area in front of the net than from the edges of the zone. Below we have scoring chance by shooting location via a Chance article by A.C. Thomas:
Based on information like the above, analysts have started to call the area with the two darkest shades of green the “home plate” area. The success rate above is based on NHL data, but the idea can be carried over to college hockey. With that in mind, David has been tracking shot attempts (in the Corsi sense; shots on goal+misses+blocked shots) all season. (Special thanks to Orion Sang and Mike Persak of the Daily for frequently providing us with shot charts.) Now that we’re past the midpoint of the season and solidly into Big Ten play, it seems that there’s enough data to see how Michigan’s defense has fared. It’s, uh…well, there’s a reason I called myself “naïve” above.
[After THE JUMP: cheery fun stuff]
- Aubrey Solomon: We know what he says if he likes you; if he doesn’t like you he’ll let your quarterback know. James Hudson: Impressed that he was listed at 295 because that’s ready to go size.
- Best wide receiver class ever? Sam has some old recruiting stories and a lot of big receiver hauls going back to the early ’90s. Who’s the #2 receiver in this class?
- Drew Singleton calls in, talks about how he fell in love with Michigan, what position he’ll come in to play, and the New Jersey to Michigan Express.
- Who’s the viper? Could be Singleton, or JKP, or Jordan Glasgow. Position shakeouts will happen over the offseason.
- Are M-OSU running away with the conference? MSU always loses the battle to Michigan but who knows, maybe their 2-stars will be Cook, Waynes, Dennard and Conklin again.
- More around the conference: Maryland’s class: Durkin’s secret to recruiting. Diminishing Wisconsin, Penn State and Nebraska on the rise. But why are you sleeping on Wisconsin?
- Nationally? Tom Herman will be fine. Florida will not. How did USC do it? Stanford has just 14 players but they’re all really good. Odd that Clemson’s national championship didn’t result in more. Missing Ole Miss.
- The black hole of Mississippi
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
This year’s event seemed to be focused more on the internal stars, if you will—brining out the coaches, introducing the alumni, all that. What was the decision behind that and what do you think of this event compared to last year’s?
“Yeah, that was really it. It was just a thought that I had, we had, to make it more about Michigan, from the band, the cheerleaders, the drum line, coaches, players, parents. Just make it about the family, make it about the family that we are at the University of Michigan.”
Why did you want to make that change compared to last year?
“I just thought it’d be better. Not comparing the two; I think they’re both great. Just kind of the direction—it just felt right. That was the ‘why.’”
Does that reinforce the family atmosphere here at Michigan?
“It means so much to me. Never has that resonated more; brought home our seventh child yesterday. Came right out, gave it to Eddie McDoom on a fly sweep. They were giving it to us. Had to take it. There’s no better word in the English language to me than ‘family,’ this family of ours, the University of Michigan.”
/Ambry Thomas sneaks up behind Harbaugh
“Compete, Coach! Compete!”
JH: “Compete! Compete! Compete! Was that good? Good job, Ambry.”
You touched on it up there, but the combination of this receiving class you’re brining in and Pep Hamilton moving forward with that group.
“It’s a very dynamic group. Wonderful guys, you know. Really talented people, and just thankful. Today is a day I thank the guys. I thank ‘em for coming to the University of Michigan, for choosing Michigan. I thank the parents for trusting us with their children. So, it’s a day to be thankful. It’s a day to celebrate, and very happy. I mean, this is Michigan. I want just to come be great. I want them to take advantage of everything Michigan has to offer. So, a lot of emotions, but mostly joy.”
Can you talk about the trip to Italy and your reaction to the NCAA ruling that this is the last year of spring break camps?
“Yeah, we’re not going during spring break, so…[/smiles]. We’re going at the end of the term, so it’s compliant with all rules or new rules that have been made. And let’s talk about what mainly it is: it’s an unbelievable opportunity for all of us—youngsters and adults alike—to have an educational opportunity, to connect with the people from another country, to study in terms of study abroad. Most all our players are going to have that opportunity to study abroad, do internships, do service.
“We’re going to Italy, we’re gonna be there for a week, we’re going to practice, but from there all our players are going to be able to branch out all over the world. Thinking that the classroom—the world is our classroom. And they’re going to be going to Iceland, Belgium, Japan, Israel, South America, Puerto Rico, all over the world to do their classes in May. It’s so phenomenal that I can’t wait to get there.”
[After THE JUMP: Tom Brady, HC; loading the Jim Harbaugh Coaching Express; future trips abroad]