The new Yost. Photos from inside the barn during its renovation:
The visual effect of those windows won't be as huge since games are invariably played after the sun goes down. It should be interesting all the same. Where do the NCAA/GLI banners go now?
(Via United States of Hockey)
Pipkins back on the field. The scare was only that. I have a good source who says it was just a stinger.
More Mealer. The Daily revisits Brock Mealer's ongoing recovery, finding this sign provided by Tom at Barwis Methods:
He's getting married. Article is a dust factory, be warned.
You guys should put together a banner. ND's secondary is verging on Never Forget territory with yesterday's news that projected starting quarterback Lo Wood* was lost for the season with an achilles injury. This leaves Notre Dame with two players on their roster who were recruited at CB. They've got a few more converted types.
The Irish Illustrated guys believe they won't move starting safety Jamoris Slaughter($) and will probably turn to true freshman KeiVarae Russell, a 3.5 star player who most sites ranked as a tailback (but did think he could play corner). Slaughter moves down to the nickel for them, FWIW.
*[Who you may remember as the nadir of Michigan's recruiting success against the Irish; Wood maintained Michigan as his leader for months before committing to Charlie Weis and Corwin Brown in June of 2009.]
Extra crispy? The Bylaw Blog thinks Oregon will get hammered by the NCAA for a blatant violation of the NCAA's prohibition against "impermissible scouting services" since Penn State means new era and the rest of the membership isn't afraid of getting nailed on vague technicalities since the NCAA now has a clearinghouse for permissible services. Intent is not relevant here:
What it means for Oregon is that even if the NCAA never proves that Oregon’s coaching staff intended the purchase of Lyles’ recruiting service to get them access to prospects or had much contact with Lyles, the school could still face severe penalties. All the enforcement staff might need to prove is that Oregon paid for a recruiting service that did not meet the requirements. The fact that prospects connected to the owner of the recruiting service enrolled at Oregon would be an aggravating factor.
Legally, the case sets up poorly for Oregon. Politically, the case sets up even worse. Oregon’s alleged violation can easily be cast as something most people want to stop: paying off a third party in order to secure a recruit’s enrollment.
I'm not hopeful but Infante knows this material a lot better than I do.
Adorable moppet is probably a part of a gang that smokes pipes and plots the overthrow of Kaiser Wilhem. State of Oklahoma, what is up?
Young Cooper Barton wore his favorite Michigan shirt to Wilson Elementary in Oklahoma City and was told it violated the Oklahoma City Public Schools dress code and was asked to turn the shirt inside out. According to the dress code, students are only allowed to wear Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or apparel from another Oklahoma-state school. …
"They should really worry about academics. It wasn't offensive. He's five," Cooper's mother Shannon Barton told News9.com. …
According to the television station, the dress code was created in 2005 as part of a way to rid schools of gangs and gang apparel.
Sounds like someone high up in the food chain of the Oklahoma City school system has a burr up his butt about Texas. Or this five-year-old passes for witheringly intimidating in Oklahoma.
Life imitates terrible jokes. Ace told you that camp sleeper commit Channing Stribling is "blowing up," as the kids say, after a strong two-way performance in his opening game of the season. But Tom just posted an article at Wolverine Nation($) that contains.. well:
“I see more Ohio State fans in my area than anything,” he said. “My pizza man came by and saw I had my Michigan shirt on and he said he was an Ohio State fan and yelled, ‘Go Buckeyes!’ ”
I don't even to know how to add anything here.
Etc.: STUFFING THE PASSER. Gasaway has an insider article on ACC/Big Ten Challenge opponent NC State($). The Daily breaks down the hockey roster. I am extremely dubious of Guptill anywhere but the top line, but otherwise solid. Smart Football on packaged run/pass concepts. The NCAA is considering radically altering the structure of football staffs by allowing non-coaches to find and contact players. I'm not the only person who doesn't like Dave Brandon's vision for the AD.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the updated Rivals100 and Rivals250, the latest on Derrick Green and Leon McQuay III, Channing Stribling's first game of the season, and a creepily overzealous UGA fan.
Shane Morris Up, Everybody Else Down, Basically
The Rivals100 and Rivals250 were updated this week, and the big news is that Shane Morris has been bumped up to a five-star and the #17 overall player in the country. The rest of the changes weren't as positive for Michigan, however, as every other commit who was previously in the Rivals250 dropped save for David Dawson. Here's the whole list of commits:
- QB Shane Morris up to #17 (previously #22)
- DT Henry Poggi down to #58 (#52)
- LB Mike McCray down to #81 (#55)
- OL Patrick Kugler down to #88 (#73)
- OL Kyle Bosch down to #92 (#77)
- S Dymonte Thomas down to #102 (#95)
- OL Chris Fox down to #112 (#57)
- TE Jake Butt down to #132 (#118)
- CB Jourdan Lewis down to #150 (#147)
- OL David Dawson up to #165 (#171)
- RB Wyatt Shallman down to #206 (#182)
- CB Ross Douglas down to #232 (#222)
- DE Taco Charlton debuts at #233
- OL Logan Tuley-Tillman down to #241 (#235)
- LB Ben Gedeon drops out of Rivals250 (#237)
Most of the drops were minor, a result of prospects making their way onto the list or moving up significantly as opposed to an actual drop in performance; this is the case for anyone who stayed within 15 or so spots of their last ranking. Mike McCray and Chris Fox had mixed reviews at The Opening and other camp appearances, which likely contributed to their respective falls.
As for prospects of interest, VA RB Derrick Green fell one spot to #13 overall, FL DB Leon McQuay III jumped to five stars and one place behind Morris overall, and WR Laquon Treadwell is the first four-star and top-ranked receiver at #23.
"Good Feeling" = Bad Sign?
VA RB Derrick Green visited Georgia and Auburn over the weekend; while Georgia isn't thought to be a contender, Auburn represents Michigan's stiffest competition, and rumors swirled after the visit that Green was strongly considering a commitment. Much like the last time that happened nothing came to fruition, though that doesn't mean the Tigers didn't make a big impression:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 21, 2012
Green told Farrell($) after the visit, "I got the same feeling I got the first time I was there, a really good feeling," and mentioned that Auburn and Tennessee will get official visits; he's already set up an official to Michigan for the Michigan State game. Green doesn't claim a leader at the moment and it appears that his decision will largely ride on how his official visits go; he doesn't give off the impression that he's made a decision. That said, there's a good chance Auburn holds an edge at the moment.
In more encouraging news, newly-minted five-star FL DB Leon McQuay III told Tremendous that he plans to make it to a Michigan game this fall, likely against Michigan State. While the Wolverines are still outside of his top three, they were at or near the top of his list before taking Ross Douglas; if the coaches convince McQuay that he's still a top priority I believe they still have a good shot of landing him.
As for McQuay's teammate, WR Alvin Bailey, he's officially eliminated Michigan after excluding them from his top five. This shouldn't affect McQuay, as Bailey appears ticketed for Florida or UCF; neither of those teams are serious contenders for McQuay.
While Laquon Treadwell is still the leader in the clubhouse for Michigan's final receiver spot, it's too early to rule out AZ WR Devon Allen, who told Scout's Dave Berk that the Wolverines are in the running for an official visit ($):
“It’s not really final yet, other than I have an official set up with Arkansas. But I’m writing down a few games like Texas, UCLA, Notre Dame and Michigan, some of the games they’re playing when I hope to have a free weekend. I’m not 100 percent sure on my high school football schedule so I’m working on that.”
There's some stiff competition there, though given the list it looks likely that Allen leaves the Southwest. As always, Michigan has a shot if they can get him on campus.
Happy trails go out to VA DE Wyatt Teller, who chose Virginia Tech over Virginia last week. He mentioned Michigan among his leaders a few times but always appeared destined to stay in-state.
Channing Stribling Playing Well(-ing)
Stribling's interception, via his Instagram
When NC CB Channing Stribling committed to Michigan he was an unknown, unranked prospect who'd seemingly earned an offer on the basis of one strong camp performance. Many were concerned he didn't merit an offer over higher-ranked prospects like Delano Hill; if Stribling's first game of the season is any indication, those concerns will be dispelled quickly. ESPN's Kipp Adams led off his weekend impressions($) with the header "Wolverines pull off grand larceny":
He made several impressive plays Friday, opening the game by showing great leaping ability on an interception, making a shoestring catch on the sideline and sticking the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. With offers going out to underclassmen across the nation without colleges ever seeing them in person, the story of Stribling earning his offer by impressing the Wolverines staff at camp is refreshing.
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 the weekend($), an impressive feat considering he played alongside four-star WR Uriah LeMay and matched up against Mallard Creek's four-star WR Marquez North:
On the first play of the game Stribling went up on a pass that was underthrown and picked it off. That set the tone for this big game and Stribling continued to play at a high level for four quarters.
His play will reflect on Scout when we update his ranking later this week. Look for this Michigan commitment to make a move in the position rankings and to add a star.
He has great length, he plays the ball well, and he has the body to really add significant weight. His best football is ahead of him.
Stribling is only a two-star on Scout at the moment so that bump doesn't get him into four-star territory, though with a few more games like that against top competition he could make a push for that distinction. Tremendous caught up with Stribling to talk about his performance and he largely credited what he learned from Michigan's camp:
Improvements: "One thing I learned at the Michigan camp that was huge for me last night was switching up my stance. I was able to watch the quarterback while covering the receiver last night because I kept myself square with the quarterback off the line of scrimmage. While I'm turning and running with my receiver and I can see where the quarterback is looking. It's something I had never really done before to be honest. It changes my entire outlook because it allows me to play the run a lot quicker as well and I made a couple big hits early".
You can see video of Stribling making a couple of catches, laying a big hit at the line, and, er, not being involved in a play at his Hudl page.
None of Michigan's other commits played official games last weekend, though OH CB Gareon Conley had a touchdown catch and a one-handed grab in Massillon's scrimmage against South.
Your Moment Of Zen
If I told you a college football fan called a recruit's cellphone to ask him about decommitment rumors, would you believe me if I also mentioned said fan is from the SEC? Of course you would.
Last Thursday, [Georgia commit Steven] Nelson was contacted by a person who wanted to know if he had indeed switched his commitment from UGA to Texas Tech. They talked for about 5-10 minutes.
“I get phone calls almost every day from college recruiters and reporters,” Nelson said. “He called me up, and I forgot what his name was. The way he was talking, I thought he was a reporter, so I stayed on the phone. He was just trying to convince me to stay with Georgia, told me how good of a player I was, and wished me a good year.”
A fan then took credit at Georgia's Rivals board, attempted to blackmail said Georgia site, then defended his actions by posting, "Why are you so conditioned to think you have to have a press pass to talk to an American citizen?" There are no words, only exasperated Bunk gifs.
Slick Segue, Ahoy
Speaking of illegal recruiting contact, the invaluable John Infante of the Bylaw Blog details a potentially game-changing NCAA rule proposal that would allow non-coaches to scout and contact recruits, something that happens all the time anyway but behind the scenes. This would ultimately result in programs largely recruiting through designated directors of player personnel (think the college equivalent of an NFL GM) and recruiting coordinators while moving the burden of recruiting away from coaches, according to Infante:
The potential model of recruiting that develops is very clear. A general manager/director of player personnel will have a staff of recruiting coordinators who do much of the early grunt work in recruiting. They’ll watch film, gauge interest, rank prospects, and evaluate needs. The coaching staff will go see top targets in person, invite prospects on visits, and go see recruits at home or at school. The player personnel staff and the coaching staff will then meet to make decisions and send offers.
That would free coaches from much of the busy work of recruiting and let them focus on coaching their current teams. Player personnel will become the major track for aspiring coaches as well as a career path in its own right. Recruits may see more sophisticated and intense recruiting from a dedicated staff.
Infante mentions the possibility of staff limits to keep this from becoming a recruiting staff arms race; I think limits would have to be in place to prevent recruits from being completely inundated by calls/texts/etc. from an army of recruiting specialists. I actually like the proposal, however; it would likely give the up-and-coming Trooper Taylors a more fitting job description, make things easier on coaches and compliance offices, and lend more transparency to the recruiting process.
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, DETom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OLBen Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, TE AJ Williams, and TE Devin Funchess.
|St. Louis, MO – 6'3", 183|
|Scout||3*, #82 WR|
|Rivals||3*, #91 WR, #11 MO|
|ESPN||3*, #58 WR, #7 MO|
|24/7||3*, #56 WR, #8 MO|
|Other Suitors||Missouri, Okie State, Iowa, UCLA, Purdue, Illinois, Northwestern|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Sneezes when he runs hurdles.|
Prepare yourself. "Michigan receivers are refugees from war-torn African countries" is going to be a local "did you know Tom Zbikowski is a boxer?" for the next four years. Up-next Amara Darboh is a guy whose twitter handle references his hometown in Sierra Leone. This post covers Jehu Chesson, whose family fled Liberia when he was a kid. They plan on rooming together, and are guaranteed to be featured in at least one sepia-toned Tom Rinaldi segment.
Chesson first got on Michigan's radar during the End Times of the Rodriguez era when he hit up Michigan's 2010 summer camp($). Even if all non-Fred Jacksons were swept out several months later, he guaranteed himself an offer when Sam Webb asked him to give a self-scouting report and he gave Sam the football coach equivalent of blue sky meth($):
Sam Webb: Pretend you’re a coach for a second… give me a little scouting report on your game.
Jehu Chesson: “First off, if I was the coach, I would look at the little details that he would do when he goes to the huddle… like what’s he doing? Is he paying attention? Does he walk to the line of scrimmage, which I do not walk because we’re disciplined like you have to run up to the line of scrimmage. Then getting off the ball, your first three steps have to always look like a fade unless you doing a one step plant. Then does he stalk block and how well does he block? I would say that he blocks pretty well. When he drops a pass, what does he do after? Does he come back and does he put his head down? Because for me it is not just in football, when something goes bad you got to keep your head up and everything. As far as what he does, like what the corner, whatever the corner like man, cover-1 or cover-2. You have to make sure what the outside backer is doing if you run a slant… does he handle that well? Does he find the open zone where he can run like a post or like a dig? He does do that. It is just like a little checklist that I have to keep to myself.”
Holy crap. Jehu Chesson is 1000 years old. For the next four years he will take over for Jeff Hecklinski as the WR coach so Hecklinski can pursue his childhood dream of owning an ice cream shop. In a past life he is still Jehu Chesson, because he is 1000 years old.
I mean, the guy's talking to Kyle Meinke about stuff and references the placebo effect and calculus. I've seen a lot of high school football players tell a lot of reporters a lot of things and that is a first. I just…
"There are some things I haven’t seen before, but it's not anything I can’t learn if I really put my mind to it," Chesson said. "It's kind of like calculus, in that way. You just got to work at it. Just have to get used to the language."
…I'm just not expecting that. Nor am I expecting someone to declare his "pregame planning($)" his biggest strength.
He told his coach his goal for his senior year was to block as well as a recently-departed WR($):
"He really loves the physical game. He doesn't just want to be a guy that runs his route and catches a few passes. He wants to be involved in every play because he wants to be a great teammate.
"Sometimes those kind of intangibles get lost or overlooked by people that rank kids, but if you talk to coaches, they want those kids that believe they are one of 11 with a job to do, whether running a route, being a decoy, blocking downfield or at the point of attack. Jehu is that kind of selfless kid dedicated completely to the team."
247's Todd Worley pretty much called him the best dude ever:
Can't say enough good things about Jehu as a person. He's extremely humble, and has an insane work ethic. He's in all AP and Honors classes, and barely ever sleeps because he's always studying. For a football recruit like him, he doesn't need to do that at all. But he's just all about excellence, and he's a winner. I think he'll be a heck of a player for the Wolverines, but if for some reason he isn't, he'll still make Michigan fans proud of what he does off the field.
Jehu Chesson is 600 years old and the opposite of Terrelle Pryor.
I'm just, like… okay. Breathe. The catch is he is slow. Right? He's slow.
Michigan football commit Jehu Chesson ran a 10.7-second 100-meter dash over the weekend, which was fast enough to win him a Missouri Class 4 track and field state championship.
He did it only 15 minutes after placing runner-up in the 110-meter hurdles (14.15 seconds). He also added a state title in the 300-meter hurdles (37.77 seconds).
Er. For comparison, Denard ran a 10.44 100 in high school, and didn't do it 15 minutes after running a 110M hurdles final.
And it's not like Chesson is a Bolt-like long strider who doesn't have good explosion. When he showed up at the Army Combine just after his junior year he bashed out a 4.56, good for eighth among wide receivers and almost two tenths better than Stephon Diggs's 4.75. Chesson's vertical leap was also good for eighth amongst WRs and tied with Diggs and Davonte Neal, but Diggs is three inches and Neal five inches shorter than Chesson. Amongst players who ended up at big schools Chesson's Army combine was the best. A few months later he put up a 4.54 at Florida, causing a few Gator sites to buzz about a potential offer.
Maybe he doesn't look cool when running?
There goes that idea. I don't know, man. I look at his video above and it's not like he seems slow.
If production is the catch, I'm not seeing that either. Chesson caught 53 balls for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior and the same number for 757 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. In run-heavy high school football that is more than solid.
There are some repeated, not-directly-contradicted-by-numbers concerns. More than one scouting report mentions that he's pretty raw at the moment, which will happen when you play three sports. You can read it between the lines($) of some of his coach's comments…
"I think the big upside that I've talked the most with people about is his overall understanding of route running," said Tarpey. "You can have all the ability in the world, but if you don't have a feel for that, you're only going to be so good. I think that's something that will come with him, because he's extremely coachable."
…or get it direct from his coach's comments…
"His upside is not unlike a lot of high school players that didn't grow up on football," Tarpey said. "He hasn't been playing it since he was five or six, so he's only at the beginning stages of understanding and learning the game. And because of his personality, his coachability, his physical tools, he will excel. He's a true sleeper.
"He could easily be a 6-4, 215-pound guy someday that is just a nightmare to match up with. Will that happen? It's up to him, but I'd expect it because Jehu is a hard worker. Academics don't come easy to him yet he gets good grades. Getting bigger is a struggle, but he's added muscle and weight every year with us. He's the kind of kid that always applies himself, so the sky is the limit."
Competitiveness / Hands and Concentration / Toughness
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Elusiveness with Catch / Strength
Tall, lanky receiver who can go up and get the ball. Snatches it easily out of the air, but lets too many underneath passes get into his body. Great natural athlete with good leaping ability and straight line speed, but is not an elusive guy after the catch. Must add some bulk and strength, but is tough and willing to go over the middle and make catches.
Trieu mentions the beanpole thing, which was the main complaint after Chesson put his name on the map($) at the Miami Nike camp:
STRENGTHS: Chesson made a splash Sunday in Coral Gables by running crisp routes and catching seemingly every pass thrown in his vicinity. He's tall and lean, was quicker than most receivers on hand, and got in and out of his breaks quite well. A hurdler in high school, his leaping ability showed up often during position drills.
WEAKNESSES: Because Chesson is a bit wiry, getting stronger is a must so college corners can't push him around at the line of scrimmage.
That evaluation was echoed by Barry Every($) at the same event. Chesson himself told Touch The Banner that he was 185 after running track and that Michigan wants to see him 30 pounds heavier. So he's got a ways to go there.
Once he gets there, he seems like he'll be at least Junior Hemingway. "Tall" and "rangy" are near-requirements in any Chesson scouting report; most mention his long arms, huge catching radius, and ability to go and get the ball. This coach quote($) is archetypical:
"…before you even line up, he creates some matchup problems because of his height and length," Tarpey said. "He's got real long arms, he does a great job of catching the ball away from his body."
…tall, rangy wide receiver who shows a unique ability to be nimble on his feet and can definitely make moves in the open field. His speed is deceptive, because he is the type of guy that just seems to glide all over the field… makes good adjustments to the ball in the air and will be the perfect guy to match-up one one with defensive backs in the red-zone.
…and ESPN disagreeing($)…
…comes off the ball with explosion and a nice stride. Gets into routes quickly and can eat up cushion with an imposing charge upfield. He has some value as a vertical target due to his frame/speed combination, but we are not convinced he is a great speed guy…can really elevate and adjust to the jump ball. Positions himself nicely and will high point the ball with good extension. …consistently catches the ball well and wastes little time getting upfield to make things happen. …a big target and wide catch radius. …some wiggle to not only make you miss, but also stiff arm and lower his shoulder to power through would be tacklers. He is not a huge homerun threat in space, but given his size he is pretty nifty and can gain valuable YAC and move the chains.
…while of course talking about his tallness and ranginess. Tom Lemming loves the guy, FWIW:
He is one of the hardest working WR's I've seen in getting off the line, finding the open seam, and catching everything within reach. He has tremendous work ethic and is not satisfied with being just a good player. Like the above mentioned receivers, he's a tall, athletic, and agile WR with soft, natural hands. He catches the ball away from his body and normally in full stride, adjusts well to poorly thrown balls, and catches the ball in traffic on a regular basis.
Chesson may not be a finished product, but it seems like A) he is extremely likely to become one due to being 1000 years old and B) once that happens Michigan has a 6'3", 215-pound leaper who will be some kind of cross between Adrian Arrington, Braylon Edwards, and Junior Hemingway.
Etc.: Allen Trieu in a Santa hat($):
Chesson asked the Michigan players why Brady Hoke has been more successful thus far than Rich Rodriguez was, and liked their response.
“They said it’s what (Hoke) stands for,” Chesson said. “With Coach Rodriguez, they felt like they were playing for his job. With Coach Hoke, it feels like they’re playing for Michigan.”
Why Adrian Arrington? Okay, he can't be that fast or the recruiting sites would have noticed. Probably, anyway. He still seems pretty fast, and lanky, and able to be that intermediate threat with a side of goin' deep that Adrian Arrington came into late in his career. Size is about right, down to the height and somewhat distressing lack of mass.
I also considered Braylon, because no one thought he was that good coming out of high school and he's exactly the right frame. But Braylon put up a 4.38 at his Michigan pro day. Chesson is most likely a step or two down from that kind of speed.
Guru Reliability: Low. I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU RECRUITING SITES.
Variance: Low. Barring injury, Chesson will asymptotically approach his ceiling. That ceiling is something of a question because he has to add weight.
Ceiling: High. Probably lacks the elite speed or change of direction to be the third pick in the NFL draft. Can easily become a 70-80 catch intermediate to long security blanket.
General Excitement Level: High. Yeah… I know I already gave this out but screw it, I forgot just how old Chesson was: co-MGoBlog sleeper of the year right here.
Projection: Both freshman wideouts have a good shot at the field play. There's enough of a need at the spot that Devin Gardner is going to see a good chunk of time there and if you squint the right way, Michigan's going to lose their top three guys (Roundtree, Gallon, and Gardner) after the season, two to graduation and the other to quarterback. Darboh and Chesson will need to be ready to go next year… if not this year.
Darboh is a lock to play, and Chesson is 50/50 depending on how Jerald Robinson comes through and how prepared he is right now. Either way Chesson doesn't figure to make much impact in year one. In year two, nights in the film room and weight room and days with Hecklinski should make him a lot better. If he can run—and I think he can do so well enough to be a downfield threat—he is in line for a three-year starting run as a major target.
Woody-punchin'. WH provides the 1977 Game, which Michigan wins 14-6. Woody Hayes punches the camera at about 11 minutes:
Griese could be good at the TV. Not that Griese, the other Griese. I'm now holding out vague hopes that we could be getting something a little bit like NFL Matchup out of ESPN's Thursday night CFB preview show:
Griese, Mark May and Scott Van Pelt will preview the weekend's top four or five games.
"I'm going to use game film to illustrate what the keys are to look for," Griese said in a telephone interview."That will be fun for me. I like teaching people about the game."
Griese, who led Michigan to an unbeaten 1997 season and national championship and then played in the NFL, hopes to exercise his game knowledge from years and years of digesting game film as a player.
"That's where I like to live," Griese said of being a student of football film breakdown. "From people I talk to, there's an insatiable appetite to understand the nuances of football. I don't think there's any better way to understand the game than to watch it, but to watch it in a way that's informed. I want to give people things to watch for that maybe they wouldn't have known to look for, and look at it from an insider's perspective. I want them to watch and at the end hopefully say, 'Brian alerted me to this, and that's what happened in the game.'"
I know, I know, Mark May. You can't have everything. And we have seen technically-minded guys get swallowed up by the great dumbing-down over and over again. Let me have my candle in the wind.
Lacy still extant. Message board trolls started telling folks that Alabama starting tailback Eddie Lacy had torn his ACL and was done for the year, which doesn't appear to be true. He did give his ligaments the business at an inopportune time:
Alabama starting running back Eddie Lacy sprained his ankle and a knee in Saturday's practice.
“Not a serious thing. Probably going to be day to day but probably be a little bit slow next week," coach Nick Saban told AL.com. "I think in five to six days he’ll probably be ready to go.”
And I can't find anything on the internet that confirms anything about the ACL except for the one random guy in the comment section from the mgoboard post.
The sprain was two days ago, so his availability for Michigan is not in question unless a coach is lying about an injury, which is of course totally possible. If Lacy can't go—sigh—Dee Hart, the former Michigan commit, is supposed to take over top duties.
Beard update. Mealer's beard gathers a couple of quality quotes in a Daily article, one from Jeremy Gallon, who is apparently an aficionado:
“He has a face full of straight, perfect, beard hair,” redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon told ESPN. “You don't find that everywhere. I mean, look at it, you can’t even put it into words. It's amazing.”
And the second from Navy SEALs:
When Mealer and 21 other seniors took a trip to Coronado, Calif. for a three-day leadership trip in late May to train with Navy SEALs, he was told by the SEALs that he was sporting a true “Afghanistan beard.”
“We take pride in that,”one of the SEALs told Mealer, he recalled.
But the SEAL left Mealer a stern warning: “If we find out the season comes along and you've shaved that, we’re sending the team after you," he recounted laughing.
Also receiving six points is the Daily staffer who slapped this headline on the story:
Mealer, beard battle for starting spot on offensive line
ESPN gets four for…
Wolverines push follicle limits
…by the way. M-Live gets zero for "Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jake Ryan's hair is like Clay Matthews, now wants similar game." STEP YOUR BEAR/HAIR HEADLINE GAME UP, MLIVE WOOOOO
Probably the best thing to ever happen in Minnesota. Faint praise, sure, but BHGP's countdown of the top 25 Kirk Ferentz wins hits the top ten with that one time they clinched the Big Ten for the first time in twelve years and tore down the goalposts… at a road game:
There has not been a fan pwnage since that comes close.
This was dumb, but known. The guy who voted Michigan #1 defended himself by saying "I have never heard of this 'defensive line' thing you keep bringing up," but he'd announced he was voting M first a couple months ago, so, like… yeah. It even came with a picture of Ron Zook. I was going to write more about this but then I realized we were talking about a preseason poll and decided not to.
This is dumb, and was not known. Penn Live has various bits from the Posnanski book on Paterno, and one is relevant to your interests:
Following PSU’s controversial 27-25 last-second loss at Michigan in 2005, the Lions’ only blemish on an 11-1 season, Paterno was furious that officials put a few seconds back on the clock, possibly allowing Wolverines QB Chad Henne enough time to throw the game-winning TD pass on the final play. According to Posnanski, Paterno told friends he was considering pulling the Lions out of the Big Ten as a result.
Someone should check to see if there was frequently-used BWI handle that went dark six months ago or so.
The thing that makes this so ridiculous is that Paterno had literally just badgered the refs for two extra seconds on the previous drive—and got them. The one second hanging on the clock at the end of that game was just as much Paterno's as Lloyd's.
This is dumb, and also dumb. Former Spartan Jim Miller thinks there's an RGIII-Kirk Cousins quarterback controversy after Cousins tore up the second half of an NFL preseason game.
Random hype video. A little repetitive, but it serves its purpose:
What a good idea to bring this up again. Appalachian State's coach had a press conference just to talk about the Horror. What a good idea for the person who won that game. I'm just glad we'll never have to think about it aga—
/Ace shows Brian 2014 schedule
/Brian makes thirty-fifth appointment at Lacuna, Inc. since announcement of Horror II
Walking sans canes. Via Tom, here's Brock Mealer walking without assistance:
Etc.: Michigan alumni clubs sing the Victors worldwide. ESPN has a segment on Alabama linebacker play. Corn Nation joins the Big Ten division names boycott. Playoff details sound about like what you would think. UNC is going to go back and find out if their academic fraud is really as bad as all that. UMHoops recaps Mark Donnal's summer.
Hello. We're piloting a new liveblog system and want to give it a whirl before the rain of fire that is the Alabama game, so this is that. Please bear with us as we work through the usual learning curve, and ask the burningest questions you have.
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, and TE AJ Williams.
|Farmington Hills, MI – 6'5", 229|
|Scout||4*, #8 TE, #221 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #14 TE, #9 MI|
|ESPN||4*, #5 TE, #3 MI|
|24/7||4*, #10 TE, #8 MI|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Nebraska, Missouri, Virginia, Illinois|
|YMRMFSPA||A less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner, or Kevin Koger|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Ace scouts Harrison against Brother Rice and Cass Tech.|
|Notes||Farmington Hills Harrison(Ojemudia)|
All kind of highlights from all the years:
He's also in the Cass Tech vs Farmington footage Ace got:
Has a hudl page.
Michigan's other tight end in the class of 2012 is as much of an outlier as their first—quasi-OL AJ Williams—but in the opposite direction. Farmington Hills Harrison's Devin Funchess is essentially a large wide receiver right now, a 6'5", 230 pounder who needs to fill out before he'll be able to block anybody but promises to outmatch any linebacker who is unfortunate enough to be put in one-on-one coverage with him.
To give you an idea of the kind of player we're talking about here:
- Touch The Banner compares him to Ben Troupe, the former Florida TE who received his way to All-American status as a "wide receiver with a tight end frame."
- TTB then follows that up with a "Carson Butler but sane" comparison, which is kind of like comparing someone to "Vincent Smith but tall."
- 247 goes with former Texas ball-vacuum Jermichael Finley, who entered the draft after his redshirt sophomore year and put up a 4.6 at 242 pounds.
He's a flex TE, a standup outside guy who can jump-ball a corner or outrun a linebacker or flip sides of the line and gamely fend off a linebacker maybe (but probably not yet).
The trick with these guys is having them get up to a weight where they can block a linebacker while still being faster than that guy, and that's hard to predict. Funchess has a shot at it, though. Multiple scouting reports project that he will easily hit the 240-250 pound range that most of the splashy NFL tight ends mentioned above end up at. Josh Helmholdt:
…has a frame that will easily allow him to play at 240 pounds - or heavier - in college without losing any of his speed or athleticism. He has an impressive presence running down the middle of the field and is a big, inviting target for his quarterback. A long and rangy athlete, Funchess is very fluid in his movements and has great ball skills.
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.' "
…and then mentioned that Funchess weighed all of 210—eight pounds less than WR Amara Darboh—at the game. He's listed at 229 on Michigan's roster, which seems like one of the more dubious weights available this time around.
ESPN liked him a lot, placing him just outside their top 150($):
…a kid who will contribute best as a pass catcher. He has very good hands and consistently uses those long arms to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. He displays very good body control and concentration to be able to adjust to the ball and make the catch in traffic. His height makes him a nice sized target, but he will also go up and high-point the ball which can make him a tough match-up for smaller defenders and potentially a nice target in the red-zone. He is not a kid that displays elite top end speed to run away from defenders and is a kid who seems to need to build speed, but he does have long strides and can cover some ground when runs and can help stretch the middle of the field.
He's an athlete who can get up. I mean…
…if NFL tight ends are now 6'5" Brent Petways, check. When Rivals caught him at the Midwest Showcase, the power forward reference came out:
The football does not melt into Funchess' hands quite the way it does for [Ron] Thompson, but the Farmington Hills Harrison product showed an unmatched level of athleticism. His background in basketball is apparent, especially when he is battling defenders for jump balls. Funchess goes up for a pass like a power forward pulling down a rebound, and at 6-4 with an impressive vertical, there are few defensive backs who will challenge him.
A couple of Funchess's catches from the International Bowl were balls that would have been filed "Tacopants" if thrown to a Martavious Odoms or even a Roy Roundtree. Check out 1:20 below for a McGuffie attempt that gets major air, and 2:00 for back-to-back catches that demonstrate how big of a target the kids is:
Funchess impressed Ace in limited opportunities to make a catch:
Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass… ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
At worst he'll be a hell of a security blanket. He could be a guy announcers call a "weapon."
Funchess might be as different from AJ Williams as it is possible for one tight end to be from another, but together they further reinforce two themes, one a flipping obvious Brady Hoke goal, the other an admittedly speculative but exciting guess at how Al Borges sees his offense in three or four years.
The flipping obvious bit: Michigan is going to be big. They're going to be big on the line, they're going to be big at tight end and have a number of tight ends, they're going to have big wide receivers. While Funchess is not big for a tight end, as a second tight end or a spread TE he makes Michigan's formations big.
The admittedly speculative bit is something first broached in the Williams piece: having guys like Funchess and Williams and Jake Butt and Khalid Hill plus fullbacks and spread backs like Justice Hayes and Dennis Norfleet allows you to whipsaw defenses back and forth between radically different formations, to poke at defensive weaknesses, to give your offense the sort of unpredictable variety that's made Boise State and Stanford so difficult to defend in recent years. Funchess makes you versatile($)…
… a kid that lines up at tight end, he lines up in the slot, he lines up at wide receiver… He does a lot of motion. He does a lot of things offensively, but also plays defense - kind of a defensive end/outside linebacker. He's very versatile, does a lot of things and is very athletic. He's got great size. He's a nice young man to have on your football team."
…and Michigan wants to use that($):
"Michigan told me today that they were talking just last night about different formations they could put me in," Funchess said. "When I came up there today, they were telling me how they could spread me out and use me as a stand-up receiver."
Increasingly, the meaning of "pro-style" offense is "whatever works against you (except running the quarterback)." See Tom Brady's shotgun-mad Patriots offense morphing into Tom Brady's dual-TE Patriots offense, or Drew Brees hitting Darren Sproles in space, or the Detroit Lions saying "huh, Megatron." Funchess is a key part of that kind of approach.
I involuntarily wince when I hear Michigan coaches talk about a pro-style offense because the last time that was in place around here the offensive coordinator literally ran the same [email protected] play at the beginning of every game, but watching old SDSU tapes reassures.
Etc.: Thirty Devins agree: "we love bucket hats." Fun with chess! Someone once called him "The Funchise." I'm not sure if that's awful or something we should steal so hard. Tremendous interview. Drew Henson($) says "wow, first impression, looks like the real deal" and "will be an instant mismatch on LBs," whether underneath or vertically.
Why a less existentially depressed Jake Stoneburner or Kevin Koger? Why tight ends went to Ohio State under Jim Tressel was unclear. Well, not that unclear: they went to win, and to block. And do nothing at all else. Stoneburner is the most recent example of a lanky, leaping tight end in the league, even if he is an amazingly underused weapon half of his 14 catches last year—more impressive when you consider that tied him for #1 amongst OSU receivers last year—went for touchdowns.
As for Koger, Funchess comes in with about the same hype and athleticism—Koger speared a couple of incredible catches in his time. Funchess will hopefully be less prone to dropping the easy ones.
The NFL guys listed above are also pretty good comparables but Michigan has not had a guy with his combination of receiving skills and athleticism in a long time. Maybe Jerame Tuman, maybe Bennie Jopppru but neither of those guys seemed to have the leaping; Koger didn't have the catching skills; Massaquoi didn't have the athleticism. Funchess could turn into any of those, really, but I don't think Michigan will be as crappy at throwing productive bulk onto big athletes these days as they were in the mid-aughts.
Guru Reliability: High. They all basically say the same thing.
Variance: Moderate. Going from 210-229 to a rippling 240-250 is always a process that leaves some exciting high school athletes plodding shells of their former selves. Other than that, seems good to go.
Ceiling: High. NFL potential is clear.
General Excitement Level: High. Poised to be Michigan's most productive TE since the waggle days, not only because of the shift in offense but because of his flexibility. He can play in big sets, spread sets, regular sets, etc. A ton of playing time beckons from day one.
Projection: The idea of a TE redshirt is fanciful, especially with Michigan hurting for receiving depth. He'll play. At first that will probably be in the redzone, where big sets are common and his length and leaping ability will make him an attractive target in crowded goal-line endzones. Will also feature as a Koger-esque H-back between the 20s.
Likely to be a four-year starter, or starter-ish type player in the vein of Courtney Avery, who may not "start" but plays just as much as anyone else on the defense not named Kovacs. I wouldn't put it past him to challenge Jim Mandich's all time TE receiving yardage (1489) given the situation he finds himself in.
Today's recruiting roundup features the initial 2014 Top247, the inspiring story of Dareian Watkins, Shane Morris's strange celebratory dance, and more.
I See Your Raekwon And Raise You A Draequan
Swagger advantage: Suleiman, barely
Given that it's the August before their junior year, it's way too early for a 2014 Top247, but I'll be damned if there isn't one. Michigan commit Michael Ferns* lands at #98, a four-spot drop from his placement in 247's early top 100. Other prospects with Wolverine offers:
- VA DE Da'Shawn Hand — #1 overall
- NJ CB Jabrill Peppers — #3
- LA OT Cameron Robinson — #4
- LA RB Leonard Fournette — #5
- TX S Edward Paris — #11
- KS OT Braden Smith — #12
- AL ATH Bo Scarbrough — #13
- MD OT Damian Prince — #14
- NC OT Bentley Spain — #18
- CA TE Tyler Luatua — #19
- OH LB Dante Booker — #20
- DC CB Jalen Tabor — #21
- MI DE Malik McDowell — #24
- TX CB Nick Watkins — #30
- FL OT Kc McDermott — #38
- FL DT Khairi Clark — #43
- FL OT Mason Cole — #44
- TX OT Demetrius Knox — #47
- TN ATH Jalen Hurd — #48
- TN WR Josh Malone — #60
- AT OT Casey Tucker (USC commit) — #63
- MO OT Andy Bauer (Mizzou commit) — #68
- IL OG Jamarco Jones — #82
- AZ TE Mark Andrews — #85
- MI WR Drake Harris (MSU commit) — #89
- MO OT Roderick Johnson — #91
- OH LB Michael Ferns — #98
- SC DT Dexter Wideman — #103
- TX S T'Kevian Rockwell — #115
- NJ ATH Kiy Hester — #128
- NC TE Jeb Blazevich — #164
- IL CB Parrker Westphal — #165
- TN OT Alex Bars — #168
- DC CB D'Andre Payne — #171
- SC TE Kevin Crosby — #181
- MI CB Damon Webb — #192
- IL TE Nic Weishar — #205
- PA S Montae Nicholson — #212
- MI OT Tommy Doles — #219
- TX S Brandon Simmons — #226
- OH DE Joe Henderson — #241
- GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. — #242
By my count, Michigan has offered 27 of the top 100 prospects and 42 of the top 247. That's... a lot. In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, the coaching staff is focusing on getting offers out to the top national prospects before focusing on evaluating and offering regional talent.
Of course, there are more important matters at hand. Namely, who are the Name of the Year (NOTY for short) candidates in the 2014 class? The class of 2013 had a very strong group, but I think it's surpassed by their younger counterparts. There is GA LB Raekwon McMillian for the Wu-Tang fans, though he may be one-upped by AL S Draequan Murphy. CA CB Adoree' Jackson tacks on not only the extra 'e', but a completely unnecessary apostrophe. LA WR Speedy Noil is an early leader for best nickname. LA WR Malachi Dupree easily beats out NC ATH Elijah Hood for best biblical moniker. The aforementioned T'Kevian Rockwell can't quite match FL LB D'ronzjiah Mathews(!) in the "let's come up with a name before my epidural wears off" category. I'm not sure what an Aggadoria Bowers is, but such a thing exists.
For my money, however, none of those can match the power of CA ATH Sulaiman Hameed, potential lost heir to the Ottoman Empire. If his nickname isn't "The Magnificent," I'll lose all faith in humanity.
*Great tidbit on Ferns: As pointed out in the comments of yesterday's FBO primer, he is not only Michigan's first recruit from Southeastern Ohio, but the only four-star prospect from the region in the Rivals era. This makes Michigan the only school to pull in a four-star recruit from each region in Ohio.
Now Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back
Part 2 of Shane Morris's Elite11 camp experience has been posted by MGoVideo. I would like to draw your attention to the 1:06 mark:
Fat Joe appreciates your support for the Terror Squad, but thinks you should dial it back a little.
Alvin Bailey: Still Probably Not Happening
Tuesday's update included a story on FL WR Alvin Bailey, who's looking to make his decision soon and has UCF as his stated leader. Things didn't look good for Michigan then, and they certainly don't now that he's picked up a Florida offer ($):
"Alvin was offered by Florida today and no he's not committing tonight and he's not going to commit tomorrow either," [Bailey's HS coach Sean] Callahan said. "He said he'd like to make his decision before September 1 and I expect he'll be a man of his word and get it done before then."
Callahan had said that Bailey was excited about the Florida offer but has a lot of thinking to do.
Any time such a vehement denial of an imminent commitment is required, it's usually a sign that one could very well happen. Even if Bailey still waits until September, it seems very unlikely that he'll leave the state, let alone go all the way up north.
OH ATH Dareian Watkins is a 2014 Michigan target and a freshly-minted member of the Top247. He also has a remarkable backstory, featured in this must-read article from Allen Trieu:
The story begins painfully, but through years of struggle, persistence and faith, and with the help of good people, it is headed full speed towards a happy ending. Dareian was adopted at 11 years old by Heath and Cheryl Watkins. He calls it the second biggest day of his life. The biggest is the day he was taken from his biological mother.
“I was at school and I got called down to the office,” Dareian said. “Thinking I was in trouble, I took my time. I saw a lady walk out of the office towards me and I didn't know what was going on. They had told me to go straight home after school and say bye to my mom. I didn't think anything of it. I got there and my mom was crying and I hugged her, then they pulled me away and said we had to go.”
The whole thing, obviously, is well worth your time. Watkins is one of those recruits you'll root for regardless of where he ends up.
Michigan sent out an offer this week to three-star PA LB Brenon Thrift, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). Thrift also has scholarship offers from West Virginia and Pittsburgh and says he'll look to visit sometime in the future.
IL DL Brian Allen, who has yet to earn an offer from the Wolverines, has Michigan in his top five with Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State, according to 247's Evan Flood.
Matt Pargoff continues his look at the 2014 class with a rundown of ten cornerback prospects to watch.
[Ed-Ace: Brian is out of pocket for the day, so you're stuck with me. Friday Recruitin' is coming this afternoon. If you're looking for updates on Ondre Pipkins, you can find those here.]
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, and OL Kyle Kalis.
|Cincinnati, OH – 6'6", 283|
|Scout||4*, #27 OT(!), #225 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #22 TE, #26 OH|
|ESPN||3*, #36 TE, #38 OH|
|24/7||3*, #24 TE,#36 OH|
|Other Suitors||Arkansas, Illinois, MSU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim.|
Sycamore’s Williams an expert on holes
- So, AJ Williams. The first thing you should know about AJ Williams is that the "holes" thing is about noodling:
Q: I heard you used the term, “noodling.” I’ve been watching this show “Hillbilly Hand Fishin’”….
A: “Hillbilly Hand Fishin’”! (says simultaneously)
Q: I’d like to see A.J. Williams on that show doing that.
A: It’s always been a dream of mine to go noodling. I can’t wait to do it. I have family down in Whitesville, Ga. We’ve got some pretty nice lakes down there. Hopefully, I can go down there and get some noodling done.
The second thing you should know is that noodling is sticking your hands into dank watery holes in the ground in search of catfish.
- The third thing you should know is that AJ Williams is an improbably-sized tight end, one who arrives in Ann Arbor the same height and two pounds lighter than tackle recruit Erik Magnuson, one who played right tackle for his high school team last year and did so well at it that Scout bumped him into their top 300 based on his potential there. He's here to block you, weakside defensive end who he has motioned over to. No, it doesn't seem fair, does it? Get used to it. It's called life.
Anyway, Williams's size makes him an awkward fit for TE at the services who continued to rank him there and his (still hypothetical but highly, highly probable) inability to scream down the seam for big yardage makes him a generic three star. But like a Matt Godin or a Martavious Odoms, just because you're not an NFL prototype doesn't mean you don't fill an important role.
- At Michigan, that role is obvious. His ESPN profile($) is almost exclusively about his blocking:
Williams is a big in-line tight end. He possesses good size for a high school tight end and is/can be big enough to be like an extra lineman on the field. … He is not the dominating drive blocker that his size might suggest… He is more a positional stick-and-stay type blocker. … You would like to see him throw his size around a little more and deliver more of an initial pop and better create push off the ball in the run game. He is adequate working up to second level and getting a piece of moving targets and needs to do a better job of utilizing angles.
And they're kind of meh about it, which fair enough. Scout's positive take is based on more recent data, though:
Power And Strength
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Williams showed as a senior that he is capable of being a high level offensive tackle. He could potentially stay at tight end, but we like his upside more if he were to stay at tackle. He's a strong kid who keeps his feet nicely and finishes his blocks. He does well when asked to move, pull, and work in the second level. He will have to continue to refine his technique and playing with better pad level.
Again you notice nothing about this "passing" business. This is because his high school team all but refused to do it. In 2010 Sycamore passed for 489 yards. In 2011 that fell to 300-some. Williams had two catches as a junior, and none as a senior (because he was an offensive lineman). So about the only thing we know about AJ Williams is how he is as a run blocker.
That is pretty good. He was first team All Ohio in the biggest division. Trieu said he had "rare physical tools" when Scout moved him up midseason, and an opposing coach talks about his prolific ability($) in two sports:
"The obvious thing that sticks out is it is so rare to be that big and be that athletic," Commins said. "A testament to his athletic ability is he was one of the leading scorers and rebounders in our conference during the basketball season and he just has terrific feet around the basket that are on display on the football field too.
"He's strong and powerful. I've seen him collapse an entire side of the defensive line, sealing off the outside running lane without any help from the tackle or guard on that side. He's a special talent."
Still, when TE coach Dan Ferrigno talks about him like so($)…
“He played tackle this year in an offense that runs the ball 97% of the time about so he wasn’t going to catch any balls but he’s a skilled athlete,” said Ferrigno. “You watch him, like I have, run up and down the basketball court and he is a skilled guy. Now, is he going to run like a wide receiver? No, but he’s got a role on our football team. He’s going to run well enough to do the things that we need to do in the passing game.”
…the three-star rankings make all the sense in the world. He'll have a role, he'll fill it ably, he will not ever garner any hype unless it's that of the "unsung hero" variety.
The tackle-or-TE question isn't much of one. Michigan's coaches have been adamant he is a tight end…
AJ Williams. He is listed as a TE and I wondered about the “talk” that he will end up at tackle. I asked Funk. He was definitive. “He’s a tight end.” Funk said “he can catch the ball, but we really need help at the point of attack at the TE spot and he’s a guy who might have some opportunity to play right away.” The message was clear (a) we need help at TE now, especially in the run game, (b) we sure as hell hope this kid can step up there soon and (c) no, we don’t have any thought of moving him away from the TE spot.
…and the depth chart is even steelier with its assertions. Fifth-year senior Brandon Moore is the only scholarship TE on the roster other than the freshmen and Jordan Paskorz, who just flipped from defense. Classmate Devin Funchess is about sixty pounds lighter than Williams.
He has a role at TE that is obvious and will persist through his career. He may have one at tackle, too—it's just that the need is far more obvious further outside. Michigan is about to be flush with highly-rated tackles. If Williams ends up competing there it is because an unexpectedly high number of them washed out. It's a backup plan for the program.
“I’ll catch some passes at Michigan,” Williams said. “I’ve got 4.8 or 4.9 speed in the 40.”
Why Reid Fragel? Fragel came out of Michigan when Rodriguez was running things; Michigan offered him as an OL and was told to talk to the hand. Now listed at 6'8", 298, OSU's moved him to tackle largely because they have no other options. He's played in every OSU game since his redshirt came off and has a total of 14 catches, about one every three games. Fragel is a lot taller (6'8") but, yeah, Reid Fragel.
Guru Reliability: Low. Healthy, but no one really has any idea how he'll do at TE and only Scout seemed to pay attention to his senior year.
Variance: Low. Seems like a lock for major playing time and will dutifully block guys trying to do things and catch a ball about every third game.
Ceiling: Low-plus. Is not Gronkowski. Maybe has some upside to surprise since he's been playing on a team that runs 97% of the time, though.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. I am very even keeled about this dude. He seems like a nice piece to have in the redzone and on short yardage. Very hard to see him ending up the sort of multi-level threat you'd like out of your hybrid offensive players, but can be a key bit of one of those multiple pro-style offenses that whipsaw you from GRAAAGGHHG 3TE SMASH to wispy three and four wide shotgun eeeeee. You know, like Stanford last year or SDSU under Borges.
Having that extra tackle TE gives you options; I remember OSU just saying "screw it" and lining up with literally an extra tackle for the large bulk of one of their streak games, and that going poorly for M. If he gives Michigan that option and provides a steady stream of quotes about noodling he'll be well worth the roster slot.
Projection: Won't redshirt. Will probably start the year behind Brandon Moore, but could pass him by midseason given how much Moore has played so far in his career. Will be used as an inline blocker and won't be catching much other than play action flares and short stuff, at least at first.
As his career develops it will be much the same thing. He'll be on the line, doing stuff and running outlet routes. There's a slight possibility he would move to tackle eventually, but unlike Fragel he's on a team that has been recruiting their pants off at that position and there probably won't be any need.
News broke earlier this morning that a Huron Valley Ambulance had been dispatched to Schembechler Hall for a potential spinal injury. It appears freshman defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins was the player in question, according to a short press statement from the athletic department:
Brady Hoke Statement on Ondre Pipkins
Ondre injured his neck during practice this morning. He had movement
in all extremities and was taken to U-M Health System for
precautionary reasons and evaluation.
In a case like this, it's obviously very good news that Pipkins has movement in his extremities. This story will be updated as more news comes out. For now, keep Ondre in your thoughts and prayers; let's hope this is all just precautionary and there's no serious injury.
UPDATE: A couple more details from AnnArbor.com's Kyle Feldscher, who was the first to report about the injury:
Spokeswoman: The call came in at 8:53 a.m. Pipkins was taken to U-M Hospital in stable condition as a precautionary measure (as reported).
— Kyle Feldscher (@KFeldscherAAcom) August 17, 2012
Other than that, not a bunch of new information. Sounds like Pipkins will be just fine and he's being checked out just to make sure he's OK.
— Kyle Feldscher (@KFeldscherAAcom) August 17, 2012
Programming note: Due to a poorly timed (but awesome) vacation, I was in California for the last several days. That's why Ace had to cover for me at Media Day and why *Jedi handwave* there was no coordinator presser on Tuesday. I'm back to provide uninterrupted coverage from here on out, though, so feel free to get off your tenterhooks.
News bullets and other important things:
- Just completed 14th practice; did some scrimmaging.
- Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson, and Erik Gunderson are all practicing at tackle.
- No decision yet on Fitz Toussaint.
- Roundtree's chances of returning for Alabama are "good."
- Matt Wile currently holds a slight edge for the punting job over Will Hagerup and Kenny Allen.
- Chris Wormley has not yet undergone surgery but will; as expected, will likely miss the entire season.
Football was being played.
“Thanks for coming. 14th practice, midway point, did some good things, did some things -- playing with a little better speed. I think the fundamentals and techniques that you always go back to. I think the guys are doing a pretty good job with that. I think we have to be more physical on both fronts. That’s not nearly solved yet for how we need to play, but for the 14th day, this is really grind right now and it should be because of the schedule that they’ve been on. You have to see how they respond. They responded pretty well to some situational things this afternoon, but as far as being ready for September 1st, we have a long way to go.”
By situational, do you mean scrimmage?
“It’s a little bit situations. You know, just give as many -- not a lot of plays, but enough to hear some football and those kinds of things.”
When do you plan to have a full scrimmage?
“Not until Saturday.”
Just wanted to ask about a couple Alabama guys: their QB McCarron and nose guard Williams. Thoughts?
“Well I mean, I think McCarron’s done a great job leading their football team. National championship quarterback. Plays with a lot of poise. The run game, he gets them in and out of the right places. They run the ball. He’s a very good leader. He seems to be on the field for them. Williams is a guy who’s disruptive. Somebody will have to contend with [him]. They have 10 teammates on each side of the ball, so they’re really part of a very good football team.”
Have you identified any backup tackles to Lewan and Schofield?
“You know, I don’t know. All those guys -- Ben Braden’s taken some snaps, Gunderson’s taken some snaps, Erik Magnuson’s taken some snaps. I don’t know I’d identify anybody who was it, I’d be honest with you, yet.”
Is it concerning that you have true freshmen at those positions?
“Yeah, always is. But it’s always -- those guys have to grow up fast. All of them are smart guys, and they’re coachable, so they’ll be okay.”
How many freshmen do you anticipate having in the two-deep on the offensive line?
“On the line? Oh maybe three. Maybe four.”
You didn’t get to spend much time with the freshmen earlier because they were in classes. What about now?
“Well they got out on Tuesday and today’s Thursday, so you still, from a learning and being comfortable with the terminology and what they’re asked to do, I think that part of it’s still early. I think they get through this week and into next week a little bit. You have a better idea. Can they play fast? Can they play with poise? Can they play with great technique? All those things are a part of it.”
Does anyone catch your attention in a positive way?
“Uh, you know, I would probably say they’re all -- I think they’re all working hard. I think they’re all eager. I think the talent level, the athleticism stuff is kind of what we’re looking at -- I don’t know. Not yet.”
Has Desmond Morgan made a leap this fall?
“Yeah, I think he did from spring and I think he has in the fall. I think he had a very good summer. He’s a driven, young man. And a very competitive person. I think the improvement of how he reacts -- he’s pretty instinctive. That’s why Yyu play as a freshman, because you’re an instinctive person and football player. And he’s pretty instinctive. I think the strength gains that he’s made, he’s a more powerful football player, linebacker.”
When do you make decisions on walk-ons getting scholarships?
“No we haven’t done that. It depends sometime before school starts if we’re thinking about that or if we have the scholarships.”
Are you thinking about it this year?
“Sometime before school starts.”
How has Fitz looked, and are you closer to making a decision on him yet?
“I have not, and he’s out there like the others running around.”
How do you plan to build cohesion as an offensive line while rotating three guys at left guard?
“What we’ll do is take a big part of scrimmage, practice situations, and keep playing a guy there so that there’s a comfort level between the left tackle and the center. I think Taylor can play basically with anybody because of his experience, and he knows more what to do. So that part of it, he’s pretty good so he doesn’t have to worry about himself as much as he does that guard.”
Has he been sort of an on-the-field coach?
“Yeah, he’s done a nice job. He’s done a nice job.”
When would you like to identify a starting offensive line?
“Oh, ten -- ten days before probably.”
Is that a rough guess? Why ten days?
“I think, you know, some continuity that we try to build consistently, but I think that’s part of it.”
Chris Wormley tore his ACL.
Has he had/will he have surgery?
“No. He has not and he will.”
“Sometime in the near future.”
How did he sustain the injury?
“Just playing football.”
Any plans to redshirt him?
“Most likely he’ll miss the year.”
You have three guys competing for the punting job. Has anyone stood out yet?
“You know, not really. I would give right now -- probably Wile had the better day. But we’ve got to be consistent day in and day out. Today I thought Matt stroked it pretty well. I didn’t think Will was as consistent, but he was better than he has been. Both of those guys were a little bit behind because they didn’t get as many reps during the summer, so I think they’re catching up.”
How confident are you with playing an inexperienced guy like Jerald Robinson, who has reportedly been standing out at the receiver position, on September 1st?
“I think we’ve got to put enough pressure on him and get him out of his comfort zone that you test them as best you can, and he’s got to go out there and do it. I mean there’s no other way besides going out there on that stage and doing it. We can put him on situations and test him and make him uncomfortable and see how he reacts. But at the same time, he’s just got to do it.”
What would you do to get him out of his comfort zone?
“Well you give him a lot of reps. You see how he reacts when he gets tired. You do some things coverage wise to beat him up at the line of scrimmage. Just trying to get him a little bit out of the comfort level.”
How is Roundtree doing, and what are his chances of playing the first week?
“He’s doing great.”
“I think they’re good.”
What is the clearing process for him to get back on the field?
“Him feeling better and the doctor feeling good and comfortable about it.”
Do you check up on him every day?
“Yeah he’s with a rehab specialist every day. We obviously communicate.”
What’s he doing physically at this point?
“With the rehab -- ”
Has JT Floyd progressed since last season, and how has his chemistry with Blake Countess developed?
“Well I think there’s a chemistry before JT and Blake. I think they push each other. I think the consistency is always something that we’ve got to keep having out there. That’s kind of a position where you’re on the island, everybody sees it when you falter, but I think they both improved. I think they both worked very hard.”
How do Blake and JT differ?
“That’s a good question. JT’s a little rangier, a little longer-armed, a little taller. I would say Blake’s probably a little more physical, you know, of the two. I think JT showed some physicalness a year ago, too. ”
Do you think that they feed off each other?
“Yeah I think so. I think that and Tom Gordon and Kovacs. Kovacs [is] kind of the field general, and it’s part of being a safety. I think they feed really well [off] each other.”
Can you get a sense for what kind of team you are 14 practices in?
Can you characterize anything about it so far?
“You know, we’ve got a lot we need to improve on.”
Do you like what you’re getting out of the seniors?
“They’re doing a good job.”
----------------BONUS PARAPHRASED PLAYER INTERVIEWS!----------------
- Likes his new position, prefers it to OLB.
- Technique-wise working on bull rush and a couple other moves.
- Says defense's strength is "technique." Weakness is "toughness." Needs to be "tougher."
- Father is a high school coach -- used to give him a bunch of pointers on technique, but now just watches the games as a fan.
- Family attends every game.
- Second year in defense, is picking up visual cues faster and therefore playing faster.
- Fitz's absence and return didn't affect running back practice. Fitz basically picked up where he left off.
- No sense of cutthroat competition between running backs -- they're all brothers and support each other.
- Loves watching film. Craziest place to watch film? In the shower. Did it multiple times last season.
I brought up the fact that he had only allowed one touchdown to opposing teams' No. 1 receivers all last season.
Floyd: "Which one? I just want to test you."
Me: "The Iowa guy? McNutt? It was either him or DeVier Posey." [I didn't remember exactly, but it was Posey.]
Floyd: "McNutt didn't score a touchdown on me!"