Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College
Domestic violence is very bad, mmk. Ohio State's backup middle linebacker Storm Klein was arrested a week ago after his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his child, said that Klein "violently and purposely grabbed" her and slammed her into their front door during an argument. She sustained a minor scrape and swelling on her forehead and abrasions on both forearms. He was charged with domestic violence and assault.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, who is fighting a reputation for being soft on his players' legal problems, dismissed Klein from the team shortly thereafter. Meyer released a statement saying the charges "violate the core values of the Ohio State Football Program ... it has been made very clear that this type of charge will result in dismissal." It was consistent with his actions earlier in the year when he dismissed DBs Dominic Clarke and DerJaun Gambrell for run-ins with the law. Gambrell, incidentally, was charged with assault.
In the same statement, however, Meyer said he would "re-evaluate" Klein's status with the team pending the status of his charges, leaving the door open for reinstatement. As of earlier this week, Klein's lawyer (who was Terrelle Pryor's defense attorney a year ago) was optimistic about Klein's future with the team (parenthetical punctuation mine):
"I believe when this is said and done. this will be resolved in Storm's favor, with an exclamation (!) mark."
So after opening with a strong gesture by dismissing Klein, Meyer is now deferring to the legal system. Perhaps he is remorseful for what happened with Clarke and Gambrell, as neither of them received the benefit of reconsideration after trial. But their fair and speedy banishment opened up a scholarship for Armani Reeves, so it was a net positive.
Perhaps Meyer feels unfit to judge the truth. Unfortunately domestic violence is notoriously difficult to tackle in court, however, and charges frequently get reduced or dropped because victims have a hard time prosecuting their own family members, signficant others, or in this case, their baby's daddy. The verdict rarely reflects what actually transpired, so relying on it to determine whether Klein did something to violate Ohio State's "core values" is a bit disingenuous.
Or ... perhaps that depth chart at middle linebacker is looking awfully thin, and it would be a shame if months later an "innocent" Klein weren't available on the two-deep to fill in for Curtis Grant after Taylor Martinez breaks his ankles.
I'm not saying Klein should be kicked off the team without the benefit of due process. For the arrest and initial charges -- "violating team rules" -- Ohio State should hand out a suspension but leave room for additional consequences pending the result in court. But I believe in being consistent. Suspension until further notice would have been acceptable for Klein had Meyer afforded it to Clarke and Gambrell in January. But alas, Armani Reeves. To make matters worse, Klein has a previous arrest record, so it's hard to imagine that external pressure will allow Meyer to relent, especially given the precedent. There's no way he can reinstate Klein without suffering significant backlash.
The Klein saga isn't over yet, so I'll withhold judgment of how Meyer ultimately handles it until then. But if Klein is in a Buckeyes uniform ever again, the chance that Meyer and Ohio State actually have any "core values" of their own approaches zero.
The Actual Preview Part
Jim Davison / the-Ozone.net
1000-foot view. Ohio State is banned from the 2012 postseason, but that isn't going to stop them from trying to go all USC on everyone. The installation of Urban Meyer's fearsome spread offense and the renewal of their defense under former head coach/co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and DC Everett Withers has caused all of the analysts to project them to sweep the majority of their schedule.
Can they? Probably. The Buckeyes benefit from returning a whole bunch of starters and maintaining a roster stacked with four-star talent. Moreover, Meyer has declared himself an Ohio State man, which has made it easy for the players, staff, and fanbase to buy into his program. Yes, this is in direct contrast with the Rich Rod transition.
I believe there are two factors -- one tangible, one not so much -- that will determine whether they can reach their full potential this season. The first is whether QB Braxton Miller can stay healthy. In Meyer's spread, the magnifying glass over the quarterback position is a lot bigger. Whether Miller holds up over the course of a season will be critical to their success. With him in a game, the Buckeyes have a shot to beat any team on their schedule. Without him, not so much.
The second factor will be how the current roster adapts to an up tempo spread. Under previous offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, fans have been treated to some of the most boring offenses even by Big Ten standards. While there were some spread elements in that offense, hence the recruitment of dual threat quarterbacks like Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, and Miller, the bigger element in those offenses was a running back oriented ground game that wore defenses down slowly over the course of a game. "Zippy" or "Jack-rabbity" were not words often used to describe Ohio State players. What's Meyer going to do with a bunch of 230 lb. running backs? While the talent in Columbus is there, how it molds to Meyer's system and how the system molds to them will be something to keep an eye on.
- Sept. 1, Miami (OH)
- Sept. 8, UCF
- Sept. 15, Cal
- Sept. 22, UAB
- Sept. 29, @ Michigan State
- Oct 6, Nebraska
- Oct. 13, @ Indiana
- Oct. 20, Purdue
- Oct. 27, @ Penn State
- Nov. 3, Illinois
- Nov. 10, WIFEDAY
- Nov. 17, @ Wisconsin
- Nov. 24, Michigan
Ohio State has a decent number of tough-ish games as well as some easily winnable ones. While there are just four road games, three of them will be tough. Their bye comes rather late in the schedule on Nov. 10.
It's hard to predict how the Buckeyes will play this season against opponents who are also experiencing significant changes. Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois, and Wisconsin are all debuting new quarterbacks or head coaches. Ohio State isn't necessarily a lock to beat all four, but with the defense they return this season, they should have enough firepower to keep that possibility open.
The game to watch other than vs. Michigan is the one vs. Purdue. The Boilermakers have given Ohio State some trouble in the past, but only within the confines of West Lafayette. This year could be different because they may field one of the more complete teams in their division. Not that winning the division will matter all that much the Buckeyes, but Purdue will certainly be looking to legitimize their candidacy for the Woody Division crown, and beating Ohio State will go far in making a statement.
X's and O's, Jimmys and Joes
QB Braxton Miller: "I paid for this!"
Key losses: RB Dan Herron (675 yards, 5.0 ypc, 3 TD), WR DeVier Posey (12 rec, 162 yards, 2 TD), C Mike Brewster, LT Mike Adams, RT J.B. Shugarts
Top returners: QB Braxton Miller (54.1%, 1159 yards, 13 TD, 4 INT), RB Jordan Hall (405 yards, 4.1 ypc, 2 TD), RB Carlos Hyde (566 yards, 5.3 ypc, 6 TD), FB Zach Boren (1 twitter hissy fit), WR Corey Brown (14 rec, 205 yards, 1 TD), TE Jake Stoneburner (14 rec, 193 yards, 7 TD), LT Jack Mewhort
So the biggest development since I previewed Ohio State for HTTV was Jordan Hall stepping on some glass and severing a tendon in his foot. He'll likely miss a couple games and won't be able to practice up until then. This is a blow to their run game, especially since Meyer was planning to use him the way he used Percy Harvin back in the day.
In other news, Jack Mewhort and Jake Stoneburner peed in public, ran from some cops, and then got suspended "indefinitely." They won't miss a snap.
Anyway, the skinny on the Buckeyes offense is that Braxton Miller returns to commandeer an offense much more suited to his strengths. Their spring game put that system on display rather well, and a few playmakers emerged, most notably WR Michael Thomas, who had like 12 catches for a bazillion yards during that game. How this offense does against anyone else remains to be seen. They were rather turnover prone as all the quarterbacks threw interceptions during their spring game.
The run game would have been find had Hall stayed healthy, but with him gone, all that's left is a bunch of burly 230-pounders who are probably thinking longingly about all the other college offers they had and wondering why they didn't commit to a school where being a little hefty was a good thing. (Looking at you, Brionte Dunn.) Yes, yes, I'm sure Meyer will find a way to use his bigger running backs. Warming the bench in November is a start.
Their group of receivers will be okay if they learn to run their routes correctly. None of them seem to be elite space players, but sometimes just catching the ball is enough.
And of course, their offensive line has been subject to a lot of debate. They're big since Tressel recruited them for hulking running backs to run into. I imagine that they will spend the offseason dieting so that they at least pass the eye test for what a lithe spread offensive line looks like.
DE John Simon: "I did this one myself."
Style: 4-3 under, some kind of nickel package.
Key losses: LB Andrew Sweat (missed most of the season due to injury), DE Solomon Thomas (basically nothing. These guys are not really key losses at all. Just here to fill some space.)
Top returners: All of the defense!
I'm gonna block quote myself. Blockquotesturbation!
Fickell will run the same 4-3 Under Michigan uses, and which Jim Heacock deployed in Co- lumbus for years, switching to a 4-2-5 over (i.e. nickel) against spread offenses. The last game of 2011 (Michigan) and this year’s spring game saw them come out in a lot of cover 4 (quarters) coverage, very much like what Virginia Tech used to good effect in last year’s Sugar Bowl.
Wow, sounds smart! What can you tell me about their players?
Their secret is talent, having recruited more 4- and 5-star defensive players than any team but Alabama (30—tied with FSU and Texas) in the last five classes. The Ohio State defensive line, the strength of their 2011 defense, will again be the strength in 2012. Massive nose guard Johnathan Hankins (6’3, 325 lbs) and tackle Garrett Goebel (6’3, 290 lbs) will anchor the interior line. While Hankins was overshadowed by any number of Big Ten tackles during his sophomore season, he is the type of plugger who can hold his own against double teams and make a few athletic plays here and there. If Hankins continues to develop, he could be a persistent nuisance for teams that like to run straight up the middle and vie for All-Conference honors. Strongside defensive end Adam Bellamy and weakside end John Simon will bookend the line. Simon, who earned First Team All-Big Ten honors last season, gave Ohio State fans a pleasant surprise when he chose to stay in Columbus for his senior season; he is probably the best player on their roster.
You are a really good analyst. That defensive line sounds scary. How do you feel about their linebackers, though?
The linebackers, on the other hand, will require some work if they are to live up to their potential this year. MLB Curtis Grant was a highly touted recruit who became an exciting fresh- man, and seemed to lock down the starting job this spring before a ding kept him out of their spring game. Also sitting out was his main competition, awesomely named Storm Klein, who started for a time last year.
Hahaha. Storm Klein. He's a funny guy. I remember they had a really good linebacker named... um ... Razor? Shazor?
Shazier! That's the one.
WLB Ryan Shazier erupted late last season as a true freshman—Penn State fans and Michigan fans might remember him being all over the field doing his best impression of NFL second- round draft pick Lavonte David from Nebraska. The problem with being liable to show up anywhere—and this is true of the entire linebacking corps in general—is he just as likely to apparate in completely the wrong place. Michigan fans will remember SLB Etienne Sabino quickly dropping into four-deep coverage on a 3rd and 11 (very good), carrying Hemingway too far to open up Odoms (not good), and turning around to put a perfect block on strong safety C.J. Barnett as Odoms gratefully walked into the end zone (explode!). Given the proper coaching, this could become a dominant group, but as it stands they are an unruly troupe of goblins, equally capable of nuking an opponent as each other.
That sounded an awful lot like Seth's writing.
Speaking of Barnett et al., the Buckeyes secondary was a solid but unremarkable group last year, and they should again be solid; ask again later for remarkability. Barnett is a budding star at safety, and linebacker-ish 5th year senior Orhian Johnson—you saw a lot of him versus Michigan—will keep the other safety spot a plus. Junior Christian Bryant will play the “star,”—Ohio State’s word for the nickel back—who will rotate in for Sabino on passing downs and against spread teams. Michigan fans who remember 2005-’08 S/CB Brandon Harrison will recognize Bryant’s role. At cornerback it gets a little thin. Travis Howard returns for his fifth year opposite redshirt sophomore Bradley Roby, but behind the starters are three “meh” sophomores before falling off into the pool of true freshmen. Meyer has acknowledged this lack of depth by stepping up his defensive back recruiting, but it may be several seasons before the reinforcements truly pan out on the field. Repeating a theme, elite talent is extant--Roby, Howard, Barnett, and Johnson are future NFL draft picks-- but whether it can come together to form an elite secondary depends on whether they can learn to complement each other and stay healthy.
That was definitely Seth, since you have no idea who Brandon Harrison is. You didn't write this preview! I call shenanigans.
This image never gets old.
They have a kicker on the Lou Groza Award watch list. Name's Drew Basil. Cool.
Overall: The way this preview started is very different from the way it ended. Huh. Not sure what happened.
in his Rat Pack phase
In other Paterno chiseling. I've read more than my fair share of outraged reactions to the Freeh Report and recommend those of Dan Wetzel, Scipio Tex, and Paul Campos. Wetzel has a passage at the end about the Grand Experiment that captures how ridiculous the very idea was from the start:
Paterno did help his football players. Those men, however, were heavily recruited, talented and often highly motivated people. If they hadn't gone to Penn State they would've gone to Michigan or Virginia or Notre Dame.
For decades he found a way to take top-line kids and maximize what they could do, usually by motivating them to excel at a sport they already loved. They were subject to mass adulation and had the potential to become millionaires at the professional level.
He wasn't taking illiterate Third World children and getting them to Harvard. Almost every person Paterno positively impacted through football would have fared similarly had Penn State not even fielded a team. They just would have played elsewhere. Bo Schembechler or Lou Holtz or Bobby Bowden would've coached them up in football and life, just like Paterno did.
That's always bugged me about the sanctimony of a certain section of the ND fanbase. Congratulations: you took kids from Catholic schools with solid families and didn't turn them into the Joker. Well done.
Campos touches on the refrigerator thing without having to cross the Atlantic for a metaphor:
A man who breaks some rules in order to win a few more football games is likely to understand himself to be nothing more exalted than a hustler on the make. By contrast, a man who talks himself into believing that he is running a uniquely virtuous Grand Experiment, rather than just another successful college football program that mostly avoids the most egregious forms of cheating, is far more likely to develop the delusion that he’s some sort of role model for his peers, or even a quasi-spiritual leader of our youth.
And Scipio Tex bombs the one moment of regret Paterno expressed:
Before his death, Joe Paterno remarked that "With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more."
The measured banality of that phraseology, the suggestion that hindsight is the necessary ingredient when confronted with the most simple matters of immediate moral action, reveals his own disconnection and concern for reputation right up until his last moments.
Let's be clear: Those boys wish you'd done anything at all, Joe.
That closes the door on Brian's opinion of Joe Paterno story time. Wait, one more: Grantland's Michael Weinreb, a State College native with Penn State ties that run as deep as they can, declares the experiment "failed."
NCAA matters. The Paterno debate closes as another one re-opens: should the NCAA step in and hammer Penn State for the above? I'm on the "no" side. The NCAA has an enforcement mechanism to maintain its own set of rules for things that the legal system has nothing to say about. Here, the perpetrators are going to jail. That is an appropriate punishment and effective deterrent. The NCAA stepping in is redundant, and the hammer would fall on a completely unrelated set of people. The legal system has a laser-aimed bazooka; the NCAA would be deploying a wonky BB gun with a misaligned sight. Meanwhile, the Department of Education could look into Penn State essentially ignoring the Clery act and PSU is about to be flooded with civil lawsuits that insurance probably won't cover. Deterrence: check.
That said, if the NCAA were to vacate Paterno's victories after the 2001 incident* and instate Bobby Bowden as the all-time victories leader I would clap like a seal. (Or Les Miles.) Paterno's maniacal pursuit of that goal long after he'd ceased to be capable of anything other than muttering in the press box seems like a symptom of the broader disease.
*[Ideally they'd deploy some sort of double standard so the Big Ten wouldn't have to go back and pretend that a decade of games didn't happen. Just nix them from Paterno's record, not the program's.]
rejected nicknames included "the super seven," "excellent thirty-six," and "adjective-free e to the x"
A rain of thunder from the FABULOUS FIVE. I just came up with that nickname for Michigan's incoming basketball recruiting class. You see, there are five of them, and they seem very good at basketball collectively. Thus I have decided to call them the FABULOUS FIVE. I may decide have a few of those letters lower-cased in the future. It's a work in progress.
No? You're saying something about how that's ridiculous, fraught with historical significance, and derivative. Well, you are a hater.
Anyway, the FABULOu5 FIvE are on campus and taking it to the veterans!
"They got us two out of three games. I don't think they got the better of us, but they looked really good. They came in and they're willing to learn and that's a good sign for freshmen. We should be really good with their help this year," sophomore Trey Burke said. "I remember there were a couple times they beat us … that doesn't surprise me because that's the type of players they are.
"They're really good, they have size and they know their roles — they can play."
Said Tim Hardaway Jr.: "The first two or three games, they destroyed us. I think they were very excited. (In) games to 11, they're beating us 11-6, 11-7."
"(Jordan Morgan) and I looked at each other and said we have to show them what Big Ten basketball is about and we beat them 11-1, 11-2, so they got their time, but it won't happen again."
Also, Burke and Hardaway are revealed to be on separate teams when this is going on, meaning 1) walk-ons are filling out the veteran five-man rosters, and 2) Burke and Hardaway are not playing together. You may have not needed the second bullet point there.
Anyway, I predict Mitch Albom thinks none of these guys are taking 600k from a Detroit numbers runner. This time, he will be correct. Also the basketball team will be good at basketball.
BONUS: Caris Levert is "built like small Kevin Durant," which means he can be used as a kite should the situation call for it.
Nevermind the good nonconference scheduling business. The Pac-12/Big Ten scheduling pact that was like conference expansion except brillianter, that was a historic way to something something with synergy, the thing that promised Wisconsin would finally have to play an opponent with zero confused Albanians in the secondary… it's dead.
The two leagues announced Friday that their pact, which initially called for 12 football games per year, has been called off. The reason: at least four Pac-12 schools were unwilling to agree to mandatory scheduling, ESPN.com has learned. A key sticking point is that Pac-12 teams play nine conference games, while Big Ten teams play only eight. Adding in traditional non-league series like USC-Notre Dame, Stanford-Notre Dame and Utah-BYU, and it makes the scheduling situation tougher for those in the Pac-12.
So much for that. The silver lining is that the Big Ten will look at going to a nine-game conference schedule in 2017, like they had announced they were going to do before the stars aligned with the Pac-12. I preferred a nine-game conference schedule anyway. From Michigan's perspective anything that helps balance the crossover-rival playing field is beneficial, and I hate going four years without playing Wisconsin, etc.
Libel lawsuit business. Prediction: Kitchener's lawsuit will have no effect on the Daily. As Tyler Dellow points out, the US passed an act that prohibits libel tourism and what they're accused of—paying an employee—is only debatably defamatory. Meanwhile, OHL restrictions on compensation may not be legal since the players have not collectively bargained for their contracts. Given the state of the law the play for the Daily may be to ignore the lawsuit:
In any event, it seems to me that one consequence of the SPEECH Act is that, if your assets are in America and you’ve received advice that a foreign defamation action against you could not succeed in America, you’d never bother to defend it. Let the plaintiff have his default judgment and then who cares. This is, of course, more true of corporations then it is of individuals – a judgment against him personally would kind of limit the career opportunities of Matt Slovin, the reporter in question, because the judgment could be enforced against him if he ever moved to Canada and acquired some assets.
The fact of the individual journalist apparently being named in the litigation is the one thing that might make it sensible to fight the thing here. Here’s hoping the case goes all the way to trial – a trip through the sausage factory of junior hockey could be a considerable amount of fun.
The Daily is standing by its story. Kitchener's playing a game of chicken here—it seems like their business model is based on not having anyone look too closely at why their players aren't employees.
Pressed for time. Michael of Braves and Birds also writes for the Atlanta SBN site and has a post on ESPN's suddenly great coverage of international soccer and how they could improve their coverage of college football:
Whereas ESPN starts off Euro matches in the studio with a discussion of the lineup choices made by the managers, they start off college football games with Mark May and Lou Holtz getting into contrived fights or Jesse Palmer looking pretty. Whereas ESPN includes the pre-match pomp and circumstance when covering Euro matches, they ignore it almost entirely in college football. Instead, the approach is for the play-by-play and color guys to drum through the story lines for the game - story lines that they will stick to regardless of how the game actually plays out - and then maybe the viewer gets a five-second shot of Michigan players touching the banner or Clemson players rubbing Howard's Rock. Whereas ESPN shows the starting lineups for both teams in formation at the outset of each Euro match, they cannot be bothered to even list the starting lineups for college football teams anymore, instead showing only the "Impact Players," as if every word coming out of Matt Millen's mouth is so critical that he does not have time to list 44 starters.
In short, ESPN feeds both the mind and the heart in the first 15 minutes of covering a Euro match, while it does neither in the first 15 minutes of covering a college football game. If ESPN started Georgia-South Carolina by covering the entire rendition of Also Sprach Zarathustra* and then discussed the teams' starting lineups and how they would match up against one another, both in terms of styles and in terms of individual matchups, then I would be a very happy camper and I suspect that most college football fans would be, as well.
The asterisk notes that yes, that's ESPN coverage, but if you watch that youtube clip it is remarkable because Mike Patrick just gets out of the way and lets you have your moment with the fans. I'd love it if every word spoken by Mark May was replaced by the PBP announcer pointedly not saying anything as the pageantry of the pregame played out.
Newspapers still struggling. An extensive Nieman Lab article on the situation of the Detroit papers is full of doom, gloom, and happy faces put on crappy situations by Paul Anger:
“Very soon, sooner than most people expect, we’ll only publish on Sunday,” Elrick, the Pulitzer winner, told me. “We’re still losing money. I think they were smart to do a lot of research. I think they were smart to communicate to people what they were doing and why. But there’s no question that they did this because there was no better alternative. To my mind, this was cutting off your arm so you can get out from under the boulder. This was not, ‘I’ll be so much faster and lighter with one arm.’ Anybody who’s telling you that is full of baloney.”
Anger insists that the delivery change has been “extremely successful,” but that doesn’t mean things are bright. Weekday circulation continues to drop — nearly 6 percent between March 2011 and March 2012.
Even the director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship is dismissing papers out of hand:
Charles Eisendrath, director of the Knight-Wallace Fellowship at the University of Michigan, puts it bluntly: “They do not matter,” he told me. “They’ve been fading for a long time. The decision to get rid of half of your [delivery] schedule accelerated the rate by two. What advertisers think is, ‘This isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t carry any influence.’ What readers think is, ‘There’s nothing in this.’”
The Free Press just announced they would "sizably reduce" its newsroom again. Section 1 opens up a bottle of champagne.
Etc.: Lloyd Carr thinks the playoff will expand. He seems to like it all the same. Behind the Call Me Maybe holdouts. Denard gets you a plaque. The Detroit metro has the third highest effective income in the country. We can probably stop bemoaning the implosion of the state. Rothstein on Michigan's influx of SYF Players.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses rankings updates from three recruiting services, a few more tidbits from The Opening, a potential surprise five-star visitor, and more.
In the wake of The Opening, three recruiting sites—Scout, 247, and ESPN—have updated their top lists. Instead of going over each update individually, I've jammed the results into a (chart?) chart below. The number in parentheses is the change from each site's last update; a positive means a rise and a negative means a drop, just to be clear. Notable stuff in bold.
|Shane Morris||29 (-1)||19 (+2)||26 (+6)|
|Patrick Kugler||30 (+1)||158 (-4)||116 (-4)|
|Dymonte Thomas||35 (—)||52 (-1)||94 (+4)|
|Kyle Bosch||48 (+1)||75 (-23)||126 (-6)|
|Deveon Smith||60 (-7)||222 (+4)||NR|
|Chris Fox||134 (+5)||100 (-27)||112 (-4)|
|Henry Poggi||136 (-1)||107 (-2)||259 (-9)|
|Jake Butt||137 (+15)||NR||171 (+61)|
|Ben Gedeon||155 (-2)||177 (-2)||278 (-8)|
|Jourdan Lewis||168 (+5)||NR||92 (—)|
|David Dawson||179 (-1)||138 (+19)||89 (—)|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||194 (-4)||95 (-6)||102 (-8)|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||215 (-2)||NR||NR|
|Mike McCray||216 (-2)||178 (-2)||108 (-4)|
|Gareon Conley||233 (-1)||229 (-7)||63 (+1)|
|Taco Charlton||269 (NR)||90 (—)||120 (-6)|
|Wyatt Shallman||268 (-5)||NR||NR|
|Jaron Dukes||296 (-1)||NR||222 (-6)|
Starting from the top, Shane Morris may have only moved up two spots on 247, but that was enough to earn him a fifth star:
Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris displayed consistency and his trademark big left arm at The Opening. Morris was a top two quarterback at the event for its entirety and continues to be one of the most important recruits in the history of Wolverines football considering his leadership in helping the nation’s current No. 2 overall class come together. Morris was on the verge of five-star status for most of this cycle and his showing last week put him over the top.
Morris also rose six spots on ESPN, but the Worldwide Leader has only handed out seven five-stars in the class thus far, decidedly fewer than any other service.
Kyle Bosch rather surprisingly dropped 23 places on 247; he gave it a go at The Opening on day one before leaving the camp due to an illness, which may have affected his ranking (whether fairly or unfairly is up to you). Less surprising was Chris Fox's 27-spot plunge on 247, as he's had an up-and-down camp season.
The biggest beneficiary of an outstanding performance at The Opening was Jake Butt, who ascended 15 spots on Scout and a whopping 61 on ESPN. Strangely, 247 still doesn't have him ranked in their Top 247, which stands out as they normally seem to have big swings in rankings (see: Bosch, Fox, Dawson) after camps. Butt and Jourdan Lewis both have very legitimate cases for entering 247's list, yet neither makes an appearance.
David Dawson saw his stock rise on 247 to the tune of 19 spots as he continues to impress with every camp appearance. Fellow lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman saw slight drops across the board, however, as his camp showings have revealed a need to get in better shape and improve technically.
The subject of much debate since The Opening, Taco Charlton went from an unranked three-star to a four-star and the #269 overall player on Scout. 247 and ESPN think very highly of him, even with a slight ding in the rankings from ESPN, but we'll see where he ends up on Rivals after Mike Farrell's disappointing review.
If someone could please come to a consensus on the relative abilities of Deveon Smith, it would be much appreciated.
Closing The Opening
I'm as sick of coverage of The Opening as I'm sure you are, but a few more nuggets of info have trickled out since Tuesday's roundup. IL WR Laquon Treadwell earned mention on Scout in both their top ten offensive performers and their five offensive surprises ($):
While Treadwell came into the weekend ranked #9 at his position and 4-stars overall, his performance still caught us by surprise. Almost all of the top ranked receivers in the country were at The Opening and few played as well as Treadwell. He showed a great ability to go up and get the ball, easily pulling it down over defenders. Treadwell was also consistent and found success in every drill and game throughout the weekend.
On the other side of the ball, commit Jourdan Lewis make the cut for the top ten defensive performers:
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Lastly, 247's Barton Simmons tabbed a surprise performer who could end up on your radar soon:
Delano Hill, DB- I’ve seen Delano Hill on a couple of different occasions and he’s always been a steady performer, always one of the better safeties in attendance. With his performance this weekend, he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. Not only does Hill have great size but he really popped for us early in the weekend when he added one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the event with a 4.42. Iowa is getting a star.
Hill is currently committed to Iowa, but he goes to uber-pipeline Cass Tech. If Michigan misses out on their blue-chip targets at defensive back, Hill could merit a late offer to fill the last spot in the class.
Priest Willis: An Option?
Tremendous dropped a very interesting tidbit in their recruiting notes yesterday, revealing that five-star CA CB Priest Willis could be more of an option than previously thought (previous thought was "not an option at all") [emphasis mine]:
I was able to talk with Priest the other day, who recently named a top 16. He said he was going to cut it to 8 pretty soon. My assumption was Michigan would not make this second cut, but I was wrong. Priest gave me the following schools (again, huge grain of salt, as I was shocked Michigan was in his group): USC, LSU, Arizona State, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan. He also said he wants to set up an official visit to Michigan because of its distance from his hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Priest told me this even after he acknowledged that he hadn't heard from the Michigan coaches in a while.
We'll see if there's still interest from the coaches, though I'd have to believe they'd be happy to host a five-star defensive back. If Willis still maintains interest even though he's not hearing much from the school, that sounds like a pretty good sign; that said, I'm still considering him a longshot until further developments.
Also in the above post is clarification from MD WR Paul Harris, who says his purported cut to USC and Tennessee was misreported. Harris maintains a top five of USC, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, according to the Washington Post. Odds of landing him still appear slim due to the presence of Treadwell.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews offering profiles Cass Tech CB Damon Webb, the breakout star of the summer circuit. Damon claims that Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State stand out among his offers, and though he won't name a leader at this time he does mention the Wolverines as a childhood favorite while also noting the presence of so many Technicians as a positive. Allen Trieu gives a very positive scouting report and an idea of where Webb stands among players in the state:
"In-state, it's him, (Grand Rapids Christian's) Drake Harris and (Detroit Loyola's) Malik McDowell as the top three right now. With it being as early as it is, I could see that ending up in any order, or new guys moving in. What I've learned is early rankings and hype don't always hold until signing day. McDowell is considered the top dog right now, but that can change.
With Webb now focused more on cornerback—he also plays wide receiver—we could see him continue to rise as he learns the position.
FL OL Mason Cole will be at July 29's BBQ at the Big House with wide receiver teammate Artavis Scott, according to Tim Sullivan ($).
IN WR Austin Roberts also plans to be at the BBQ, via 247's Clint Brewster ($).
Tremendous enlists the help of a couple of the 11W recruiting guys to put together an early Midwest hot list for the class of 2014. This is a great starting point if you're looking to get familiar with the prospects who will be targets of the top Big Ten programs, including Michigan.
Gave up trying to find shapes that look like states after MI. Click embiggerates.
Cartography week. Unless you're Ricky Stanzi, in which case this is every day, the 4th of July was for honoring America. Since this is a thing named for a cartographer, what better way than mapmaking. Randall Monroe (of xkcd) chose to take the Michigan=mitten thing and come up with objects for the other 49 that's worth a 'brief' look just to see what Ohio is and shall hereafter be referred to as for all time. Maize.Blue Wanger decided to pen a 7,700-word thesis about the best Michigan football players from each state. My map above used his work for most things except I used Spencer Brinton for Utah, split Michigan between his choice (Braylon) and mine (Harry Newman, but coulda been Oosterbaan), counted the little New England states as one Jamie Morris, and put a Block M over the ones I didn't care to do Google image searches for since I almost didn't return from my last quest for a representative photo of Brandon Williams. Anyhoo, for such a Herculean effort in service to his country, MBW is awarded Diarist of the Week.
The author also discovered the mess that is Bentley's enter-the-data-then-forget-about-it player database, which is more comprehensive than any other team's database in the country yet manages to do horrible things to Opong-Owusus ("F13" is not a football position!) In spite of such hazards, justingoblue followed MBW into the archives to chart up which states/regions have been dutifully paying their tributes of football talent.
Here's the context then. At the HTTV release after-party we had a long discussion about the '99 Penn State team, to the point that Brian was surprised everybody remember Penn State so damn well. For my part I learned everything I could about them when they joined the Big Ten. It all said they were a true national power, and nothing they did in the interim—like going undefeated in '94—suggested otherwise. The conference might have tried to shoehorn them in to a rivalry with MSU because they both got Morrill Act grants when the SEC seceded from the union, but it was the Michigan games they got up for, and vice versa.
The 1997-'99 series was among best of those. They'd won the last three. Judgment Day marked the point when the national championship run became real. The Sunday morning after—still fresh acceptance packet folded up in my cargo pocket—the glow of that win was still palpable in the chill air, cup-strewn lawns, and weary students stumbling home trying to decide if they'd really been partying at Bollinger's house. In '98 the student section was so loud it turned back multiple Lion goal-line and field goal attempts.
And 1999, when Florida State and its weak-ass ACC schedule was the runaway AP favorite, but No. 2 Penn State the best team in the country. The Nittany Lions had Courtney Brown and LaVarr Arrington, and strength everywhere else. Then they ran into Minnesota (at their Mason peak) and lost in one of those final play games any team can lose any time to a decent team. We laughed, but we knew our offensive line was too hobbled to give Brady time or Thomas lanes, and our cornerbacks were Future Stars of the SmurfFL, and Minnesota's upset was just luck.
Then that game, which you can re-live thanks to footage by Gordon (and photos via DeSimone) The score was close but true to the short-lived rivalry, Michigan beat the snot out of them. A-Train knocked out Arrington and bruised up Brown, and by the end we'd seen something nobody thought could happen that year: Penn State beaten and broken by a better team. The next week they limped through a loss at Michigan State that Spartans remember as the debut of T.J. Duckett, and everyone else remembers as the result of Michigan softening 'em up. Penn State ended with the most sour Alamo Bowl bid ever, Michigan took care of Joe Germaine to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl, MSU whined because they got only a Citrus invite despite winning the head-to-head, and Saban bailed for the Bayou because he realized no matter how many Plaxicos you rent this will always happen at Michigan State. That's the context by which I remember the '99 Penn State game. Also for Penn State it was the goodbye game for their longtime defensive coordinator, meaning when you re-watch there's a way different context. /Penn State memories week on MGoBlog.
Elsewhere in old video, watch the 2003 team trounce Houston.
Search: "Quarterback Depth."
Found" "Devin Gardner" autorun "peanut_butter_jelly_banana.exe"
Actually from this he seems to be the opposite of Tate. Tate would make bad decisions, then could get away with them thanks to his accuracy and moxie and winning smile (or not get away with them). Bellomy makes the right reads then throws a slightly bad, slightly fluttery ball that gets the job done and no more.
Speaking of 2008 I think that's when the Mathlete first introduced the famous (for an MGogiven definition of that) "Michigan Helmet" chart about proper 4th down etiquette based on down and distance. In 2010, with a top 5 offense and no kicking game, the "go" region essentially became anything after the 50-yard-line. This has now been updated for the 2011 offense, and comes with a Googledoc spreadsheet you can use to decide when to go and when to kick. I'm going to keep this handy during live blogs so I can sound smart.
Etc. World Cup 2014 favorites. U.S. Olympic Track and Field. Don't let the fact that the NCAA just instituted a playoff stop you from posting your idea for a D-IA playoff. And do not, under any circumstances, follow recruits on Twitter.
Best of the Board
THE FRESHMEN HAVE NUMBERS (SORTA): Okay, fine, Heiko can follow recruits on Twitter, but only because people have EA Sports dynasties starting this week and need to know which digit to put Wormley in, etc. I'll have a post up when the media guide is released with all of them, but for now Heiko managed to track down most of them from changed @names and twitpicks of lockers/gear.
PHOTO BATH! Brian last week put a link to the favorite football pics from 2011 thread in UV. If you missed it then, go back now because there are so many great images. Max followed up a day later with a favorite all-time photo thread. Leaders And Best added a Sports Illustrated Cover review in there which alone could have been its own diary. Can somebody who knows the history stuff explain:
PICKING YOUR POISON: Who would you like to see added to non-conference schedules of the future? This offseason thread generated a bounty of responses (note: playing Delaware won't make them stop wearing our uniforms), but little in the way of feasibility. We're really talking about three different tiers: Home-and-homes to replace the ND Series during that hiatus, one-offs with BCS schools we can convince to come to Ann Arbor, and then those filler games with MACrifices and I-AA opponents that won't make you gag when Michigan needs a quick pansy to round out the empty weeks.
Tier 1 should be someone everyone wants to watch on TV and would be worth visiting just to see their game day atmosphere and city: Auburn, Georgia, Bama, Tennessee, Texas, Cal (or Stanford though Palo Alto is pretty boring), Virginia, and Clemson. Ole Miss I'm told has an interesting game day, but busing Ann Arborites to Oxford necessarily brings up some nasty history. Tier 2 is pretty much any BCS opponent. The bottom of the Pac12 is nice however I'd love to see Vanderbilt again to pad our historical record versus the SEC, and I believe any Big XII team not named Texas or Oklahoma will take our calls right about now. Tier 3 I'd skip entirely except this is the place I can use to begin an annual pre-season exhibition against Slippery Rock. I personally don't mind playing directional schools because everyone has family there.
THE OPENING: THE THREAD: This thing had some 17,000 views. It's mostly pics from twitter feeds because people are…HEY I TOLD YOU… Related is a thread where everyone posted about that time they met a celebrity. Beat getting kissed on the cheek by the bride from Father of the Bride.
VALLEY OF THE LOST HELLO: ____ POSTS: Bronxblue was wondering what happens when Ace or his predecessors heads into the Super Secret MGoRecruiting Chamber to produce one of those "hey a guy committed!" posts, only to emerge and discover the kid in question chose unwisely. Answer: if the whole thing gets written for naught a respectable blog for the winning fanbase is offered the thing, which is then torn apart for the links and left to rot in the internetherworld. The rest of the closet of unpublished MGoContent is mostly junk nobody ever got around to throwing out. Sorry to burst anyone's bubbles.
Your Moment of Zen:
Party at Bollinger's! The Michigan Daily
Paterno, fridge, Paterno
This might be off-topic, I don't know, but the release of the Freeh Report on what happened at Penn State does seem like something that I would like to address, especially a day after a letter purportedly from Joe Paterno was released by his family. The passage that jumped out at me was this one:
For over 40 years young men have come to Penn State with the idea that they were going to do something different — they were coming to a place where they would be expected to compete at the highest levels of college football and challenged to get a degree. And they succeeded — during the last 45 years NO ONE has won more games while graduating more players. The men who made that commitment and who gave of themselves to help build the national reputation of what was once a regional school deserve better than to have their hard work and sacrifice dismissed as part of a “football factory,” all in the interests of expediency.
His name is Tony Hawks, and he's an English dude who got drunk one night, accepted a bar bet, and proceeded to hitchhike around the circumference of Ireland with a mini-fridge. He wrote a popular book detailing his experiences afterwards, which I read.
His story gets latched onto by a Dublin radio station, which plans a triumphal march to the city center upon Hawks's arrival. This ends up being a sad anti-climax consisting of three people and a confused bagpiper; Hawks goes to a hotel and watches an Irish political debate afterwards. The next day he gets lunch with the radio folk, and what happens when he exits the restaurant has been an oddly persistent thing in my memory:
As I walked out of that restaurant pulling my fridge behind me for the final time, everyone on Gerry's table began applauding politely. Astonishingly, some people on a few of the other tables started to join in. Others looked up to see what was going on, and when they saw me and a fridge, they too joined in, possibly thinking it was somehow expected of them. Soon everyone in the restaurant was applauding, with cheers, whistles, and laughter thrown in for good measure.
I felt great. The anti-climax of yesterday didn't matter anymore. I understood now. Yesterday had been phoney, this was real. Yesterday I had been saying 'Look at me." It hadn't been right and it hadn't really worked, and I should have known that …. Now it was working, and it was working because I was walking humbly out of a restaurant with no airs and graces, affectations or histrionics. The restaurant's diners picked up on this and were offering their spontaneous and unaffected appreciation of someone for whom they had a peculiar nagging respect.
Just lug the damn refrigerator. Stop telling everyone how great of a job you're doing of pulling the refrigerator. Maybe someone will notice, maybe not, but once you start talking about it yourself your self-regard starts chipping away at the core.
If Penn State had not been posited as a Grand Experiment, it's possible that one of the four adult-type substances who could have put Sandusky's second career to a stop a decade before it did would have had more regard for the possibility children would be raped* than for what people would think about them. It's too late for all of them, perpetrator and victims alike, now. But to me the lesson is to shut up about yourself and get on with it. It will help you not make terrible mistakes because you are trying to preserve what people think about you in the face of what you really are.
BONUS AMAZING IRONY SECTION: I've been reading various Penn State boards, which are now riven with debate over how much proofy proof there actually is at this juncture. Quite a lot of people have given up the ghost—a BWI poll about taking down the Paterno statue is running 80-20 in favor—but a few continue to soldier on. Here's an exchange from BSD that is, well…
Just finished the report top to bottom minus all the parts about the Clery act and university and state codes.
I think the 98 investigation heavily, heavily influenced future actions. I think that investigation established to everyone involved that Jerry was not a child molester but rather a man who had boundary issues, the police reports even backed that when they describe his behavior as not that of a predator. Every action they took after that appears to have been normal actions taken with a prestigious former employee, whether it was 2nd Mile support, access to facilities, emeritus status etc, they seemed to feel there was no reason Sandusky should be a liability.
I think that that investigation clouded their judgement of 2001. It seems that there was some telephone affect in place as well but the lack of reconciliation between Paterno/Mike and Schultz/Curley’s statements makes that cloudy. At this point Jerry had been established as a man with boundary issues, not molestation issues and I think in their minds when they heard of another shower incident, they just related it to the same level of importance they thought of the 1998 incident, not a serious one.
It’s called priming. Once we have a preconceived idea about something or someone in our head, it’s nearly impossible to get it out.
A good book that get into this and all sorts of other cool issues is Jonah Lehrer’s book, How We Decide. Most of our decisions are not based on rationality or reasoning, but rather imbedded emotional responses. That can be both good and bad. In this situation, it was obviously bad.
…it's demanding some self-reflexiveness. Yes. Since I cannot shake 20% of the Penn State fanbase individually, screaming "SNAP OUT OF IT, MAN," I think I will go with "demanding some self-reflexiveness."
SIDE NOTE TO IRONY: One of the more useful ways to cleave the world into halves is to split people into a group A that is suspicious of their own brain and a group B that is not. I'm in the former group, thus all the numbers and systematization and so on. You could add a third group of people who are suspicious of other people's brains but not their own, but they seem like a subset of group B with particularly frustrating arguments. Apparently this is a post in which I dispense personal philosophy unrelated to its relevance.
FINAL PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT WITH BASICALLY NO RELEVANCE TO ANYTHING ON THIS BLOG: Port Salut is the most underrated cheese of all time.
ALSO: Boiled Sports takes this topic on as well, albeit with less references to underrated cheese.
The last piece of the 2013 puzzle.
Welcome to the debut of the MGoBlog recruiting mailbag, which will be a regular feature moving forward. The initial response to the mailbag was fantastic, so thanks to everyone who wrote in and apologies for not being able to answer every question here. For future mailbags, be sure to email me or send your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #mgomailbag.
Without further ado, on to your questions:
Do you see us having any significant holes left in the recruiting class of 2013? Who should fill them for us? — @craiglaluk
The one glaring need in the class is a top-flight wide receiver; while I like the size and upside of both Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York, Michigan still lacks a blue-chip talent who can contribute early, a necessity given the unproven nature of the current receivers on the roster. Obviously, Laquon Treadwell is the main target here and the Wolverines are the overwhelming favorite to land him, so it's highly unlikely this need goes unaddressed.
With USC's class, is our "best case scenario" a number 2 overall class ranking? — @kasualt
USC is putting together the most talented class in the country, without question; among their 14 commits are the Rivals #1 quarterback (Max Browne), #1 safety (Su'a Cravens), #1 guard (Khaliel Rodgers), #2 and #5 defensive ends (Kenny Bigelow and Eddie Vanderdoes, respectively), and #3 and #5 running backs (Ty Isaac and Justin Davis). Their class currently consists of three five-stars and 11 four-stars. I hate to say it, but Lane Kiffin is doing some serious work.
Where USC may come up short, however, is in sheer size of the class. Thanks to NCAA penalties, the Trojans can only take four more players in the class, and with Michigan poised for a class of 24 I'm guessing the Wolverines can still take the top spot if they land Treadwell and another four-star to finish the class. For pure star average, however, it's going to be very tough to top USC this year. Alabama and LSU should also be serious contenders for best class.
Hi Ace. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most amazing recruiting crops in years. Priorities for 2014 class? — @craiglaluk
Matt Pargoff recently posted a complete depth chart by class for the class of 2014, which gives us a great starting point for this discussion. Before I dive into the needs, it's worth noting that the 2014 class will be expected to replace the production of graduating players like Courtney Avery and Jibreel Black, whom you may note just finished their sophomore seasons. Anything written here is subject to some serious change.
That said, there are several position groups that will need to be addressed in two years regardless of future attrition. First among them is quarterback; once Devin Gardner graduates, only Russell Bellomy and Shane Morris remain as scholarship QBs on the roster. Michigan is already taking a hard look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer, though no offers have gone out at the position as of yet. While a top-flight guy probably isn't necessary—or realistic—given the presence of Morris, a player with starting potential is a definite must.
With Michigan all but assured to miss out on feature backs like Ty Isaac, Derrick Green, and Jordan Wilkins in the current class, running back will be a huge priority yet again. The Wolverines already have offers out to four of the top 2014 running backs in the country—Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Hilliman, Jalen Hurd, and Bo Scarbrough—and more are sure to follow.
Even if Treadwell comes on board, wide receiver will once again be a need. We should find out in 2014 if Al Borges plans to utilize any slot-demon types, as the only receivers on the roster will be Jerald Robinson, incoming freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and the class of 2013 commits. There's not a true slot among those players, so unless Justice Hayes moves to receiver, that position will need to be filled by an incoming freshman or simply ignored entirely.
As always, depth on both lines is a priority, especially on defense. Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer both graduate after the 2014 season, leaving only Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton—two boom-or-bust prospects, in my opinion—at weakside DE. Strongside end won't be much deeper with Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel. Depending on the collegiate position of Maurice Hurst Jr., nose tackle could also become a glaring need.
Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, and Raymon Taylor will all be seniors in 2014, leaving holes to fill at cornerback even in the unlikely event that Michigan picks up a player like Kendall Fuller or Leon McQuay III to round out 2013. Keep a close eye on Cass Tech's Damon Webb and Illinois prospect Parrker Westphal, both of whom are early favorities to join the 2014 class; landing that duo would be a great start to filling needs in the secondary.
So, um, basically everything besides linebacker. I hope this was helpful and not a complete waste of time.
What's your best guess on Treadwell's decision date? — @TKBigCrew
Treadwell's recent quotes indicate that he's not entirely sure himself; he says he'll commit on a "random day," admits Michigan is almost certainly his choice, and says that day will be "soon," but he still wants to take official visits. My guess is he's tiring of the process and will make his decision before the season—which means before officials—but I wouldn't be surprised if he at least checked out Oklahoma State before an announcement. Regardless of timetable or visits, it's going to take a heck of a lot to dethrone the Wolverines from his top spot.
What's up with Mike Farrell's analysis of Taco [Charlton] at the opening? Seems contradictory to what we've heard elsewhere. — @natebburn
This award goes to the player who lowered his stock the most from the camp. While Pickerington (Ohio) Central defensive end Taco Charlton looks the part, he really struggled. He has great size, long arms and he is very athletic. However, he is also very upright, only has an outside move and when coaches tried to teach him misdirection or crossover, he didn't grasp it well at all. He was beaten on almost every 1-on-1 rep he took.
Without seeing the event itself, I can't add my own opinion of Charlton's performance, but I'll say that this jives with a lot of what we know about him. Charlton is a very raw prospect who possesses all the athletic ability needed to be an elite end, yet still was a situational pass-rusher as a sophomore. It's not a mystery that he was recruited because of his sky-high upside. Pitting a player like that against the best linemen the country has to offer is a recipe for a sub-par performance.
However, I wouldn't be too concerned about Farrell's review of Charlton. He still acknowledges that Taco has the frame and athleticism to make a big impact. We already knew that he isn't advanced technically and will almost certainly need a redshirt year and some coaching up before he sees the field. I don't think what happened at The Opening—which is obviously up for interpretation in the first place—changes any of that. If Charlton had excelled against the top linemen in the country it would have been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands, I still think he's got one of the highest ceilings of any recruit in Michigan's class.
FF410: 2012 Spring Game Breakdown - RB Pass Plays - Day 4
In the past I broke down 13 of DG’s pass plays (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). This included my reaction about how DG and the offense performed, the idea or theory behind the offensive play, and how the defense performed. This helped me get a much better feel for how DG is actually improving and allowed me to evaluate his performance considering the performance of those around him.
Today, we will take a look at how Russell Bellomy performed. Note that it is sometimes difficult to determine the routes and defense being run due to tight camera angles, but I will do my best to grasp what I think is happening. I will once again be taking a look at all of the pass plays, and separate them into 2 separate days. Today, we will take a gander at the first 5 pass plays.
Play 14 – 0:00
The defense appears to be running a cover 0 look out of a their normal over 4-3 look and a safety coming down to help against the run.
Bellomy makes the right read (a fairly easy one), as he sees the DBs drop back into their soft coverage. His footwork looks good and he looks comfortable, and I think the short throw is really a matter of arm strength more so than any fundamental problem (he could get a little more push off his back foot, but that’s about it).
The design of the play and the theory behind it are going to look very familiar to readers of the previous days. The slot is running a corner route and the outside receiver a dig with the idea or running a high low on the corner. As the corner drops, Bellomy knows his play is to the dig route.
On the backside you see a post run. This is designed to do a double move on the boundary corner and get behind the man and into the deep middle of the field. This is to take advantage of teams cheating on the corner route with their safety by hitting the area of the field they vacate. You will seldom see the QB have the time/patience to go through his progression and hit this receiver, but that is the idea behind that route. The route is run well. Note that the boundary corner doesn’t bite hard on the initial slant as he sees the play running away from him (a QB won’t roll opposite a slant route). When the WR sees that the corner didn’t bite and still is step for step with him, he breaks his post a bit more shallow to take advantage of the intermediate zone being open.
The SAM is a little late diagnosing the play. His initial responsibility is leverage and FB coverage, but he could turn and get to the boundary quicker than he does. The outcome of the play isn’t affected because of a poor pass, and the play would have picked up yards regardless due to the design of the defense, but you would like to see the SAM closer to the man as he catches the ball, and preferably that corner as well, though being out on an island the primary responsibility is not to get beat deep.
[More after the jump]
Goodbye Gateway. You probably have a vague familiarity with Gateway High School in Pennsylvania as that place that puts out a bunch of guys who Michigan recruits, occasionally secures, but more often go elsewhere in the Midwest, sometimes annoyingly. Justin King, one-time Michigan lock-type substance who ended up at Penn State, is the most frustrating loss in retrospect. While King's presence with PSU didn't help them win any games against Michigan…
…adding an All-Big Ten corner (even if a second team one) to the 2006 team had the potential to flip one or both of the OSU and USC games, in which you may remember Chris Graham and Morgan Trent getting torched repeatedly. In Graham's defense, he was a brick of muscle badly miscast as a nickel corner against OSU's passing spread that year, which is all the more reason King's presence could have been a game-hanging one.
You may also remember Gateway as the home of Shayne Hale and Cameron Saddler, two of the guys on the "Pittsburgh is basically Mississippi" list of players who inexplicably chose the local half-empty NFL stadium over, you know, Michigan. And others I suppose. I was pretty sure that Michigan had acquired at least a couple guys from that school (Marlin Jackson?) but Rivals shows none.
Anyway, this is an extremely long preamble to a surprising happening: due to severe budget cuts it looks like long-time Gateway coach Terry Smith may be forced out. The school district is dropping their athletic director position—also held by Smith—to part-time and the guy can get a regular gig somewhere else. Any impact this has on Michigan will be minimal since PA recruiting has been erratic at best since Teryl Austin departed, but apparently the mention of changes at Gateway are enough to prompt the fist-shaking realization of what could have been if Justin King had just gone where everyone expected him to. I still remember the post-it note I would scribble Michigan's hypothetical recruiting class on when in boring work meetings.
The comparison is inescapable. MGoFave-rave Brian Phillips spent the duration of Wimbledon at Wimbledon, returning with autism-spectrum-on-the-scene reports about a triumphant Roger Federer that frequently reference the capital-A "Apparatus" and find Phillips yelled at by a multicultural cornucopia of annoyed television people.
It's impossible to read them and not think about David Foster Wallace, and yet Phillips comes out looking pretty okay despite that inevitability. I enjoyed them… a lot. It turns out I like reading about tennis far more than I enjoy watching it. You might as well. Five parts!
- Part 1: finding a press pass and having a hallucinatory experience
- Part 2: Nadal loses to some guy!
- Part 3: People, toilets, things happening
- Part 4: Phillips's comically bloodshot eye, etc
- Part 5: Watching Murray lose to Federer in a room with a spasming Scottish lady
I love Grantland. Viva Bill Simmons.
But you're supposed to be an incorporeal floating voice. Fouad goes down the twitter rabbit hole and comes out with Carl Grapentine in the flesh:
He's got a radio show in Chicago and is not a ball of soothing energy, which is quite a surprise. Fouad finds this a little disturbing, and I'm with him. But I find this more disturbing:
I know there are some anti-Grapentine folks out there in the fan base
Who are these people? We must find them and give them, I don't know, Fort Wayne Mad Antz season tickets. Grapentine's voice is as integral to the Michigan Stadium experience as Bud Lynch's is at Joe Louis. He's the voice of the program. I find the idea people would dislike him—maybe prefer the FREEEEE PIZZZZAAA guy—alarming.
Good luck with that. If you're not a season ticket holder and you want to buy single-game tickets to the MSU game, you have to buy UMass plus two of Air Force, Illinois, Northwestern, and Iowa. Total charge for the four games is $380, $95 bucks a ticket… which seems about double what you could get from scalpers on gameday. I'm guessing they'll sell out since scalpers will try to make it work selling to people pathologically afraid of going to the stadium without a ticket in hand.
NCAA reviews coming out. Unlike myself, Ace is still a feverish devotee thanks to a band of friends who he plays with online. He'll have a review whenever he can pry himself away. While you're waiting, MJD says "just buy last year's," which he thought was a major leap forward in the series. Midnight Maize highlights the OCD approach—which was mine when I kept buying the thing—taken by the serious folks at Operation Sports. Some of these complaints are the same ones I had five years ago:
Apparently, Brent Venables taught the NCAA Football 13 team all about safety play because receivers run right past them into the open field. Vertical routes with fast receivers are nothing but money, it's horrendous. …
There aren't penalties in football except for the occasional holding and offsides!" - Anyone [whose] only experience with football was through NCAA Football 13. …
There are more plays than just screen plays and deep passes computer AI. Seriously. The A.I. Playcalling is absolutely atrocious from what I'm seeing in the early going. Or maybe it's just the AI's execution? Regardless, the AI seems way off this year when it comes to running an offense.
I'm glad I missed the era when four years into your dynasty nobody had a kicker who could hit an extra point.
On the Dantonio impression. Shane Morris deployed one:
What makes this funny to me is that this is clearly a conversation that actually happened almost word for word. Shane's clearly talking about Taybor Pepper, the longsnapper who was going to walk-on at Michigan before Dantonio tossed him a scholarship. Shane adds a "State" in there when he means just "Michigan," so it's a little confusing, but it's clear that at some camp Dantonio approached Shane Morris and had a little exchange about the importance of long-snapping.
Which is really important starting NOW. 2011: no one cares about long-snappers even a little. 2012: Auburn pays 180k for one.
The pointlessness of watch lists. It's watch list season, when every returning starter in America is named to their positionally-appropriate reminder that Award X exists. This will be the only time watch lists are mentioned on the blog, because this is how silly they are:
Brendan Gibbons converted 1-of-5 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2010, which helped lead the Michigan football team to a last-place finish in placekicking -- nationally.
Two years later, he's one of 30 players to land on the watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top kicker.
No offense to Keith Stone, but Gibbons's career long is 43 yards. Watch lists are inane.
Quality people. Kitchener has apparently filed a pointless lawsuit against the Daily because they said they offered Trouba money. Given the standards for libel prosecution on both sides of the border, the chances of success are 0% and the Rangers are threatening freedom of the press because they'd like to maintain the fiction that certain OHL players get dollars in excess of the $50-a-week stipend they haven't changed since the 80s.
Etc.: The free Blue Ribbon Big Ten preview this year is Michigan. The primary question it asks is "why would anyone pay for this"? Their prediction is… not made. Woo! Meanwhile, Phil Steele says M is one of 11 teams that fit the "national championship mold".
The Insight Bowl is now called the Valley of the Sun Bowl, not to be confused with that other Sun Bowl. It is now the only bowl game other than the Rose and Gator to have an actual non-sponsor name, which means it's probably not long for this world.
Hobbled Lewan would be very bad: Andy Morrison|Toledo Blade
Any team that remains relatively healthy for an entire season is going to be doggone good, and doggoner lucky. Until the Sugar Bowl, when Heininger went out and Molk would have been sidelined if he was anybody but David Molk in his last game at Michigan, Team 132's most significant injury losses were Odoms, the sum total of various dings that kept Woolfolk from being as T-Wolf-ian as he used to be, and Barnum missing extensive time. All were replaced by more than competent backups, respectively Gallon, T.Gordon, and Schofield. Depth at the positions of ding-itude (and relative health elsewhere) was an understated but important part of the strong second half and thin margin by which Hoke's first team ended up winning a BCS bowl.
If 2012 proves an underwhelming sequel, the most likely culprit will be injuries at certain positions where they can be ill afforded. Since so much of this year's ultimate preview is bound to be extraordinarily rah-rah, here I'll try to temper those expectations a bit by predicting what the drop-off might be if we lose any given starter. If negative hypotheticals tend to make rain clouds appear over your head, well, either you're closing your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge or you are not aware of the caliber of disaster indicated by the presence of a pool table in your community.
Quickly. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.
In case of emergency: Devin Gardner was a 5-star recruit at the most important and most scouted position in football, has played relatively extensively for a backup, and has athletic powers not quite Denard-level but still far beyond mortal Division I signal callers. The drop-off from Denard to the Devin from practice chatter is measurable but not dire; the fall from Denard to the Devin we've seen in limited action so far is precipitous.
If the inconceivable is conceived, the offense could be simplified and lean far more on Toussaint, both to make things easier on Gardner and because if he gets hurt we're down to Bellomy and walk-ons. How unready Gardner is can be overstated; he's either a redshirt sophomore or a junior depending on how recently Gordon Gee bought your NCAA contact a beer, and this is plenty old enough to have a feel for the offense. Then again, when he's been in… Ultimately Michigan can win 8 games with Gardner; with Denard the upside on the season is roses.
In case of dire emergency: Bellomy looked cool in the Spring Game, but I wouldn't expect more than 2008 Threet out of him at this point in his career. Spread outfits like Northwestern and Purdue have made it work with such guys before, so it's not DEATH. It's hard to see him beating the tougher parts of the schedule.
In case of emergency: The emergence of Fitz last year finally broke Michigan out of a three-year period of carries by broken bits of Minor or guys who could do one thing very well and all other things okay well. Previous the-guys like Hart/Perry/A-Train could get more yards than the defense's execution gave them by having multiple strengths. In Fitz's case those X-factors are Perry-like vision, Carlos Brown-level breakaway speed, plus the Hart-like quality Brian historically refers to as "juking a guy in a phone booth." If he could truck he'd a Heisman candidate. As it is he gives defenses another guy they have to "cheat" around by scheme/alignment/personnel at the cost of weakening something else.
Losing Fitz means going back to a committee of guys who do one or two things well. A passing spread could be just fine with Smith, who's the best blocker among the backs, is dangerous as a screen/catching target, and has some of those Pahokee jackrabbit genes that magnify his effectiveness as space increases. So long as Borges can resist the urge to ISOs with him the offense can still be the best in the conference, if not Oregon-good. Remember 2009 with Brown and Minor? That plus a senior QB. And that wasn't so terrible. Since Smith will get in anyway, the primary beneficiary of an injury to Toussaint is Justice Hayes. Hayes (right) has already outgrown his Breaston-skinny recruiting profile and flashed Toussaint-like skills. In high school he was a good enough receiver that people thought his future was at slot. If he can block too Michigan might have something here.
The Minor in this equation is either Rawls or Hopkins. Rawls we've seen in spring and limited carries last year and seems as advertised: a trunk-legged trucker. All said, the drop from The Guy™ to the guys is a star-and-a-half but the committee is strong enough that the sum difference will probably be one or two of Purdue-Illinois-Northwestern-Iowa getting closer than they would have.
In case of dire emergency: We have two freshmen. If Norfleet isn't returning this year I'd like to see him get the Breaston redshirt to put on some muscle; Drake Johnson could rotate into garbage time now. Hopkins can be dragooned from fullback if we lose Rawls.
In case of emergency: Hopkins seems to have fallen out of the RB conversation since moving to fullback—equal parts Rawls' emergence and fumblitis—but when I look at him I see a young Leroy Hoard, and when I look at the TE depth chart I see plenty of two-RB sets no matter who the feature back is; with Toussaint hurt Hopkins could get Hoard-like usage. There isn't another guy on the roster like Hopkins, but Kerridge is by accounts a decent fullbackian fullback, and if he isn't there's 5th year senior Paul Gyarmati and 3-star fullbackian recruit Sione Houma's redshirt to burn before we run out of noses to stuff into linebackers. I do believe the position will be featured more than in recent memory, but I think if Hopkins goes down it will be less so since he's the only real running threat among the group. So far as I know none of them are the Aaron Shea/Brian Thompson kind of receiving threat; for that Michigan will probably use a U-back, currently Ricardo Miller and Jordan Paskorz.
In case of emergency: The good news: the fall from Michigan's 5th year returning starter to his backups doesn't look too bad. The bad news: the drop-off from the 2nd team to random walk-ons is barely different. Of the group Moore had a good TE's recruiting profile though he's flashed neither Martell Webb's blocking ability nor Koger's receiving skills. In a typical Hoke year you'll see two TE starters but we're not there yet.
Ricardo Miller is the next guy in, but is a vastly different guy. As a junior in high school Miller was one of the top recruits in Florida, the star of power program Dr. Phillips, a National Honor Society member, and an early commit who gave us dreams of the next #1. His senior year he moved to Ann Arbor and ended up a stiff TE in Pioneer's option offense, pushing his rating to MSU-ish 3-star. There's still three years of eligibility for him to turn into Tim Massaquoi, and that seems like the path he's on, though the dearth of practice hype to that effect and equal reps for so many other guys makes the murmurs deafening. The opposite side of the coin from Miller is A.J. Williams, a true freshman who played OT and can therefore block a defensive end, which makes him useful now at the Y, especially when Michigan goes to (it's not dead yet) tight formations. Anything happens to Moore and Williams/Miller are probably trading off based on situation.
A few more common Spring tea leaves for a position in trouble are a sudden burst of hype for a senior walk-on, and position switchers climbing the depth chart. We have that in Mike Kwiatkowski and Jordan Paskorz. All told my guess is Michigan will play one tight end some of the time, two tight ends rarely, and if injury strikes Moore we'll see Miller and a lot more fullback sets.
In case of emergency: Like tight end, the backups here are not a huge drop-off but there's simply not enough dudes with experience to fill the depth chart. Unlike tight end there's a lot of talent and reason for hope. While Tree and Gallon are established as what they are, and Jeremy Jackson is probably not much more than a possession change-of-pace, there's some wideout wild cards in Jerald Robinson and two good freshmen, either of whom could be a starter by the start of the conference season.
Borges does prefer to have a prototype split end and flanker (and a slot), but both guys at the top of the depth chart are spread slots. Gallon is best in the slot, and more so than fullback the tight end situation benefits the existence of a third receiver most plays. Roundtree is now at Hemingway's old position, the flanker, which starts in the backfield and gets to run plays designed to get him open. Who wins the split end position out of J-Rob and the freshmen will mean much for how the unit develops. Since there's seven guys for what should be three positions, nobody is really out of the rotation unless one freshman is significantly ahead of the other.
If Gallon gets hurt, Dileo is a similar type of player and can be used in the same role—he should rotate in plenty as it is. If Roundtree is lost for an extensive time, you may get a long look at Jerome Jackson in that role, something that would signify the corps as a whole will have limitations. The hope here is that the receivers won't have to face super-tough coverage while defenses react to Denard and Fitz, but it's hard to call the difference because the starters and the depth are largely different types of players.
In case of dire emergency: A scenario that sees Roundtree and Gallon hurt (and/or somebody getting very serious about damage to parking gates) probably sees Michigan go "big" (think 2001 with Walker) with routes designed to get whoever Denard feels the most comfort with mismatched against smaller DBs.
Heiko took these. The one at right was accidentally not credited in HTTV.
In case of emergency: It's Jack Miller, who has some Molkian qualities about him but is a redshirt freshman, still gaining muscle, and liable to be thrown around like a ragdoll by the Ogbu's of the world as Molk was. The non-feasibility of Miller starting was underlined when Barnum was announced early in Spring as the center. This depleted the guards but at least there's a live body to snap it if Barnum gets hurt.
Spring proved that gap is wider than we thought, as Barnum established himself as clearly the best interior offensive lineman and tailor-made center for the transitional year's offense. Meanwhile we've heard little from Miller. He wasn't highly recruited but centers rarely are, especially spread centers. The caveat for this is until you see them play you have little else to go on. If Barnum gets hurt, the interior line is probably a team weakness, and teams with immobile DTs will probably bog Michigan's offense down by making it tough to run to the interior. But then if he can reach block like Molk it won't matter so much who's taking up space behind the play.
In case of emergency: By "emergency" you mean anything happening to the starters, which would almost certainly see a true freshman drawn in. The true freshman in question is a 5-star and the most college-ready linemen we've recruited since that's been something we can qualify, but a freshman nonetheless, and one whose brightest future is probably at guard, possibly immediately since Elliot Mealer and a walk-on seem to be the competition for the left guard spot. Mealer was beaten rather badly by Minnesota on a day Minnesota was doing half of the blocking on Minnesota in his one garbage time moonlight on the outside, and I'd rather never see that happen again. So even if the true freshman wins a starting job this fall, an injury to Lewan or Schofield sees Mealer slide back to guard and Kalis is the guy, despite the fact he probably hasn't even figured out the Tisch-to-Mason cut through yet.
We'll get a tiny feel for just how much of a drop-off this is when the squishy part of the schedule yields opportunity to rotate the starters out and let Kalis get some seasoning, but such situations are doubtful to yield much in the way of passing plays against blitzes and hell-bent rush ends. If the unthinkable happens, however, you'll see an appreciable difference in Michigan's passing game, especially early, as they try to lean on whichever RS junior is left standing. Rollouts, runs to the other side, shorter routes, that sort of thing. One thing he'll have going for him is ends don't want to risk losing contain on Denard, so Kalis would not be forced to block a full-on pass rush very often.
Even as he settles in, this is making a position of strength into a weakness, in the case of Lewan like going from Verlander right now to Jacob Turner (for you baseball fans). I would also guess Schofield slides to left to cover Denard's backside.
In case of dire emergency: If any two of the above-mentioned go down I think Ben Braden is the next of the freshmen closest to being ready to play, even if Magnuson probably has a higher ceiling. It's possible Omameh could shift outside too—he's not big but he's quick enough to be a spread tackle and played there before—if one of the existing interior options proves to be a better option.
In case of really dire emergency: It's Gunderson, who looked exactly awful in the Spring Game even when the defense went to playing soft so that Gardner could do something other than get chased by the guy Gunderson was blocking. Or Magnuson. Or Chaucer. Rabelais. Balzac!
In case of emergency: Burzynski got the start in the Spring Game and looked good for a guy not much bigger than my brother. This bodes unwell for nominal starter Elliott Mealer, the last man standing from Carrs 2008 offensive line recruits now that Khoury has moved on. That Bryant is behind both of them says he still hasn't gotten into playing shape, although the redshirt freshman may be closer to that by fall. Anyway if he's not needed as the only breathing tackle Kyle Kalis has as good a shot as anyone at starting left guard this fall.
Omameh is the O-line's longest tenured starter and was brilliant as a spread guard who gets to the 2nd level, something he didn't get to do much of last year. His upside as Destroyer of Teo's makes the relative value of losing him a variable, but large any way you calculate it. Any of the freshmen named earlier, plus Blake Bars, might be cast into a guard role this year. Fortunately there's a lot of O-line recruits on their way in case we burn a lot of redhsirts in 2012, but a quick glance at the depth chart by class reveals a fist-shaking inattention to the O-line.
I imagine by later this year Bryant is closer to being ready to contribute. He was a planetary object brought into to be stripped apart and rebuilt; enough pieces have been reattached at this point that he managed to show some life in Spring. He's a year away from being a ready asset.
In case of dire emergency: Q-Wash might be moved back in a pinch. Anyway, two injuries anywhere on the O-line and I'm writing a Decimated Offense article. Spoiler: it will say Rodriguez expected to recruit a huge O-line class in 2011 in order to have lots of RS freshmen ready to stand behind the 2012 upperclassmen, but because linemen commit early and prefer stability (remember: usually three years before they see the field) and with much of 2010 was poisoned this plan backfired. None of this will be solace to you if the O-line falls apart this year. I'm more worried now than I was before, and I was really worried before.
All told, this is a thinner offense than it was a year ago. The difference between the starters and their backups is two
stars Saturn-Punting Zoltans or more at five positions, six if you think Fitz Toussaint is All Big Ten. Nowhere on the offense is there a ready guy like 2011 Schofield or T.Gordon burning a hole in the depth chart, unless one of the freshman tight ends or receivers move into open starting roles.
|Cincinnati, OH – 6'3", 230|
|Scout||4*, #4 OLB, #69 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #7 OLB, #111 overall, #5 OH|
|ESPN||4*, #5 MLB, #5 OH, #142 overall|
|24/7||4*, #3 ILB, #2 OH, #58 overall|
|Other Suitors||Penn State, UNC, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. Insane comedy post featuring Mark Smith's terror at technology.|
|Notes||Cinci Colerain (Mister Simpson, Cobrani Mixon, BJ Askew). Early enrollee.|
UA game clips:
And some high school ones:
BEHOLD THE JOE BOLDEN HAIR PROGRESSION
Like Sampson, Bolden's reputation has grown with his locks. When he committed to Michigan last April he was on the outer reaches of four-star consideration, but after a strong senior season and star turn at the Under Armor all-star game practices he finds himself about the 5th best linebacker prospect in the country, give or take a spot. Expectations ratcheted up further after Bolden's arrival on campus in January as coach raves gradually filtered their way out to the public and Bolden took a turn as the starting MLB after Kenny Demens injured his hand. By the end of spring practice, Bolden was locked in as Kenny Demens's heir apparent. By 2013 Bolden's hair will hit the middle of his back and the hype will be intolerable.
This goes here.
The hype may already be thus. ESPN's($) evaluation covers all the bases:
Bolden is a tough, instinctive football player with a knack for getting to the football and making big plays. … Demonstrates the good flexibility, balance and agility required to play in space; does a very good job with key and diagnosis skills against the run and pass; is quick to react to the inside run, demonstrating the ability to play downhill while attacking and defeating blockers at the point of attack. This prospect also displays the quickness necessary to avoid contact when moving through traffic; is quick to the edge and does a good job maintaining leverage when pursuing the football from the backside; doesn't overrun plays. We like his proper angles and effort in long pursuit. We see very good coverage production from this athlete; displays the ability to drop and get into throwing lanes; shows good route awareness; does a nice job looking up inside receivers while managing to get his eyes on the quarterback; shows the ability to plant and break on underneath throws. His excellent awareness in space is responsible for quite a few pass breakups while also demonstrating good ball skills.
That is… everything. Save mentioning him as a blitz terror, I guess. Everything else you could want in a middle linebacker save "is Ray Lewis" is there. Here's Rivals's Chris Nee confirming:
"Bolden is everything that you want at the linebacker position," Nee said. "He has good athleticism to cover a good area of space but is a great tackler one-on-one in space. He does a great job of putting himself in position to make plays whether the ball stays inside the tackles or goes outside. He is extremely physical at the point of contact."
That kicks off three consistent themes in Joe Bolden evaluation:
- S-M-R-T smart.
- Gets sideline to sideline.
- Relentless tackling machine.
Now to the blockquotes. Scout's Scott Kennedy named him his team's defensive MVP($) at the UA game:
With the offensive line occupied by the defensive line, the linebackers were free to roam uninhibited. No one took advantage of the room to run better than Michigancommitment Joe Bolden. Bolden was popping pads during walk-thrus, and he continued to seek and destroy when the tempo was moved to full speed. Bolden doesn't do anything half-speed. He showed he was capable of dropping into coverage as well as attacking the line of scrimmage.
The Michigan commit was impressive all week in practice, and quickly caught all the coaches attention at Under Armour. He is a guy that certainly really impressed with his football IQ. Not just that, but his ability to move laterally, and his general ability to play his assignments and to not take false steps. He reads the play and is more athletic than people give him credit for, and is one of those guys that if you go to a camp or see him at a 7-on-7, maybe he is not as high on your list, but you put him in pads and you can really see this guy having a great college career and playing a lot in the National Football League.
His coach at that event:
Linebackers coach Joey McGuire of Cedar Hill High in the Dallas area loves what he has seen from the future Big Ten player.
“I love the Bolden kid,” McGuire said. “He’s one of the most instinctive kids I have seen. He’s similar to the Spence kid (Sean Spence at Miami) from the first Under Armour game in that he is so instinctive on the field. He just finds the football.”
FWIW, Spence started eight games as a freshman, was All-ACC and a Butkus semifinalists as a senior, and was drafted in the third round by the Steelers. Bolden is four inches taller than him.
Other UA game evaluations mention his instincts($) ("among the best on Team Highlight, regardless of position") and name him the best tackler at the game ("showed great technique on a pair of one-on-one tackles").
If we're looking for catches, athleticism seems to be de-emphasized above. That's contested by evaluations from Josh Helmholdt—who said "his combination of size, athleticism, and speed has been unmatched so far this year" after taking in a high school game of his—and Allen Trieu, who lists "speed" as one of his main assets.
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Underrated athlete who can really run sideline to sideline and arrives at ball carriers with bad intentions. He's a great tackler and a big hitter that likes contact. He'll have to adjust to taking on bigger, stronger blockers at the college level, but he's a tough kid that won't shy away from it. In coverage, he does a nice job and made a number of plays dropping into zones and showing good ball skills in high school.
Elsewhere in futile attempts to find chinks in the armor, Bolden is not a coach's son but is a coach's nephew—his uncle Tom is Colerain's head coach. He is, in fact, an athletic director's son. His work ethic is strong, his background is advanced, and he's got a leadership edge to him:
“To me he plays the game the way it is supposed to be played,” said Bolden. “He runs fast and he plays with reckless abandon. I’ve had college coaches refer to him as an athletic throwback. Hopefully his little brothers and my boys, his nephews, will play the same way. That is all you can ask for. He’s been the vocal and emotional leader with these kids by his effort. He’s a 1000 miles per hour in practice all the time, the same way he is in a game and hopefully it’s taught these young kids how to prepare.”
Elsewhere, Tom Bolden told Sam Webb that "when he tackles kids, they stay tackled," mentioned his 3.9 GPA, and added the usual bits about range and smarts. Trieu added that he is both a "classic, throwback-type linebacker" and an "every-down linebacker" at a good school, from a good family, who comes with a free beach towel.
Again: everything. Plus a towel.
After that hype as a recruit, Bolden arrived on campus and started turning heads there as well. He showed up from time to time in the "let's overreact to" spring scrimmage video series:
Play 5: Inside zone run with H-back (Miller) flaring weakside that we've seen for years now. Roh(+1) drives his man—probably Schofield—way down the line and Fitz decides to cut behind that mess. Bolden(+1) is there to clean up on the cutback at the LOS with help from Ryan. Miller's block on Ryan… eh… not so good.
Play 16: Denard hands off to Rawls on an under center stretch(?). Odd. Rawls finds a crease as Barnum, who's flowed well down the line, latches on to and eliminates Bolden. Gyarmati gets enough of a block on Morgan to get Rawls the edge and a nice gain.
Play 20: Short yardage Vincent Smith iso is… a touchdown? I don't want to talk about this. Bolden got rocked by Gyarmati, probably because he didn't read the play quick enough. That contact is not happening near the LOS and that's all she wrote.
And then again:
Poole gets on the wrong side of a pulling Barnum, which prevents Bolden from making a tackle. Then a safety I can't identify whiffs as he tries to fill. Bryant doesn't actually end up blocking anyone. Bolden's reaction time was impressive there: if Poole knows what he's doing that's going to be a thump for Bolden at or near the LOS.
Then I managed to write a billion-word-long spring game post without once mentioning Bolden. I have no idea how that happened. He did play, there are pictures and everything. The insider buzz was all positive; we'll see it on the field this fall. Even with the hype, he's still a freshman.
Why David Harris? Yes, going there. The two main weapons in Harris's arsenal were an ability to diagnose plays very early and sideline-to-sideline tackling rage. Basically every evaluation above mentions those as Bolden's primary assets. Size-wise it's pretty close: Harris topped out at 6'2", 250. Bolden will reach that latter number easily and is an inch taller.
Bolden is of course more touted than sleeper Harris. Also he does not look as much like Worf, but you can't have everything.
Guru Reliability: Very high. Bolden was healthy, played at power Colerain, made an all star game appearance, and has gone through spring practice with flying colors.
Variance: Low. On campus, already pushing Demens from behind.
Ceiling: High. Has the frame, athleticism, background, and pedigree to be an all-conference performer.
General Excitement Level: MASSIVE! WOO!
Projection: Will not redshirt, as he's already got a spring practice under his belt and Michigan will want to blood him in preparation for 2013, when he's going to be the leading candidate to replace Demens. Should see extensive special teams time, garbage time, and the occasional Demens-spelling drive when he needs a breather.
After this year, the path is clear for Bolden to be a three-year starter.