spoiler alert: i linked this
Hello. This is our last podcast of the year barring something spectacular before August. Thanks for listening.
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Spring Practice Recap: Offense
Feelingsball to start. QB battle for real. Hello Ty Isaac. Wide receivers? Ace deploys the word "shambolic," and is not talking about the offensive line!
Spring Practice Recap: Defense
starts at 27:53
Backups mostly but we can still infer some things. Tyree Kinnel can play. Still on board with Jeremy Clark over Stribling. Mike McCray is major key emoji.
Gimmicky Top Five: Worst Adidas Atrocities
starts at 45:24
There are no surprises at the top. We do posit a darts Champions' League theme.
Inside The Crooked Blue Line w/ Steve Lorenz
starts at 55:02
Steve talks Michigan's recent commits and the massive visit weekend that just completed. We also remember Jabroni of the Week. Score. The very first ever will SHOCK you. Probably.
"Across 110th Street"
My Morning Jacket — The Day Is Coming
Blind Melon — No Rain
Planet Funk + A Pub Of Drunk Darts Enthusiasts — Chase The Sun
THE USUAL LINKS
Moments after the dramatic conclusion of the Spring Game, potential five-star 2018 jumbo athlete Leonard Taylor committed to Michigan, becoming the second touted rising junior from Springfield (OH) High School to join the class. Instead of working from behind for 2016 and 2017 prospects, Jim Harbaugh and Co. have made a concerted effort to hit the 2018 class in Ohio hard, and it's paid off with early commitments from Taylor and his four-star linebacker teammate, Antwuan Johnson.
One can never be too careful this time of year; so TomVH asked Taylor about the legitimacy of the commitment:
Also, just in case, I asked Leonard Taylor if the commitment was an April Fool's joke (I have to) and he replied with "hell no."
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) April 2, 2016
That is the correct answer.
|4* DE||NR TE||NR TE-Y||
4*, 95, #3 DT,
5*, #3 DT,
It's still early on in the process for 2018 recruits. Only 247 has complete rankings and they're being (understandably) stingy about handing out a fifth star—Taylor is ranked in what would easily be five-star range by Signing Day, to the point that he's given that extra star in the composite rankings even though they're just a replication of 247's rankings right now. Scout hasn't released full rankings yet but they still felt compelled to list Taylor as an early four-star recruit.
Taylor is a big athlete who could land at a number of positions; he's listed as a tight end, strongside DE, or defensive tackle depending on where you look. At either 6'5" or 6'6" and 240-250 pounds, he has a huge frame capable of holding a lot more weight. How he develops physically over the next couple years will go a long way towards determining his future position.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
First, a little feelingsball
Spring games are notorious for being a little data amidst an ocean of noise, so as always take everything here with a grain of salt. And this section isn't even a concrete observation about a player, so doubly so here. But… my favorite thing that happened on Friday wasn't a play.
It was the aftermath of the two-point conversion, when the white team poured onto the field like they'd just won the Super Bowl and blue team coach Chris Partridge roared off the sideline to have a Harbaugh-level conniption fit at the ref.
A couple other coaches reacted similarly, if not as dramatically, as Partridge; the white team organized at midfield for a photo. Wyatt Shallman headbanged like there was no tomorrow. Drake Johnson collapsed in a heap.
Drake Johnson collapses on the field after his team gets stopped on a potential game-winning 2-pt. conversion. pic.twitter.com/Beyur1LaIW
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) April 4, 2016
I tweeted to Ace that he should title the recap "Controversial finish mars Spring Game ending,"* because that was funny. It's only funny because it's kind of true.
This is a different thing now. Last year's team was good but it was still caught between being a program that apologizes for a tent stake and a program whose DGAF levels are off the charts. Judging from the reactions of everyone involved on both sides, the all-competition-all-the-time ethos has sunk in. That more than anything else makes me anticipate the upcoming season.
This concludes your feelingsball portion of the program.
*[He did not, and I was all like ಠ_ಠ.]
[After THE JUMP: position by position breakdowns of what we learned on offense]
Tonight's spring game obviously another primetime event, something new for the school. As you guys continue to do new things, how do you balance that with the tradition and expectations at a school like Michigan?
"Well, I think you try something, you see how it works, you see what it brings, what it brings to the team and the staff and what they're trying to do. I don't know the thinking of Jim as it relates to—we haven't talked about the spring game on Friday, whether that's something that he wants to do consistently or if he's trying something out this year and so we'll be there and see how it goes and see what comes of it and see what the feedback is from it, but it doesn't bother me that it's a nighttime spring game. The tradition's been normally, what, Saturday at 1 o'clock or 12 o'clock or something like that? You know, it's done differently at different places and this is something that he wanted to try and we'll see how it goes."
Speaking of night football, you recently expressed an affinity for football games in the daylight. Do you anticipate that that will influence schedules in future years, and some of your predecessors anticipated influence from the Big Ten wanting Michigan to play more night games—your thoughts in that area, too?
"It could be that we play more night games in the future. We talked about it this year as I was coming in and made the decision that this year we wouldn't have a night game at Michigan Stadium. You know, I was told—because I'm not a Twitterer—that I was getting heat because I said that I didn't like playing games at night, jokingly said that because if people would have heard the other part of what I said I said because I played for Bo, who thought you should always play at 12 or 1 o'clock. In my career as an athletic director and athletic administrator I played a lot of night games. I'm not against them, but in the discussions that I had with many upon walking through the door it was decided that we didn't want to play a night game here this year.
"So whether they'll be played in the future, I'm not against them. I think some of our fans like them, and I think I heard some of our fans that would prefer day games but I know our fans love Michigan football and whether it's played in the day or it's played at night they want to see our team have success.
"Last year we played a significant…I shouldn't say significant. How many night games did we play on the road last year? Three. I know the fans are interested in night games, but that's really taxing, particularly coming back late at night for the team, those kind of things. So we considered a lot before we said we wouldn't have a night game this year, but in the future there could be night games at Michigan Stadium in the future."
There's been a lot of talk two years ago after the Shane Morris concussion incident of increased safety measures and then talk about that here and there since then. Have you gotten a chance to evaluate those and do you have any plans for changes there?
"We're going to constantly evaluate the safety protocol for our student-athletes. It's something that we did obviously with that incident being so nationally prominent [and] that you do, but we're going to constantly look at the protocol. Not only in-game protocol but practice.
"I know coach Harbaugh and the staff and the medical staff are monitoring and talking about impact not only of concussions but injuries during practice. The coaches are constantly aware of how much practice and hitting is going on. They're monitoring that for the good of their team, of the individual student-athlete.
"The protocol is set but we're going to continue monitoring that to make sure it's where it needs to be for the safety of our student-athletes across the board. So yes, I'm confortable with where we are now and I'm comfortable that we will continue to evaluate all measures of safety for all of our student-athletes to make sure that it's the best that it could be."
How and when will you officially launch the Nike apparel, and for you, when you saw the Jumpman logo on football, is that cutting edge in your mind, that deal that was cut?
"Yeah. Officially Nike becomes our apparel supplier August 1st. We're proud of the relationship that we had with Adidas, but on August 1st we will officially again become a Nike apparel school and at that point in time the staff—I haven't had but I will have a breakdown of all the things that are being planned, but on August 1st, at that point in time is when we will celebrate the relationship or right around that date, don't hold me to it. But August 1st is the date we officially become a Nike school again."
[After THE JUMP: Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, them boys up for discussing committable offers and transfer policies]
I think he lifts.
Michigan has added one of the most athletic prospects in the country. As first reported by Sam Webb, four-star Los Lunas (NM) running back O'Maury Samuels committed this evening, giving the Wolverines a third back in the class. Samuels visited for the Spring Game and couldn't find a reason not to make his pledge:
“Man, it was fantastic,” Samuels told The Michigan Insider. “I loved the atmosphere. I loved the people around there. I loved the area. Their facilities were just great. I got to communicate with some of the players. They were nice. They told me how (things are) run things there at Michigan. I really like it out there. I got to talk to Coach Harbaugh and Coach Wheatley. We talked about how I could be their All-Purpose back for the 2017 class. They said they need one. “
“So I was like, hey, they need me. Why not?”
Sameuls burst onto the recruiting scene at The Opening Dallas regional in March, winning position MVP and earning an invite to the finals. In the combine portion, he posted the best SPARQ rating of the camp season thus far:
We've got a new Nike+ Football Rating National Leader!
From New Mexico, O'Maury Samuels with a 138.30.
— Todd Huber (@ToddHuberSS) March 12, 2016
He isn't just track-fast. His speed is quite apparent on his junior film, and that's not all he brings to the table:
Samuels is the 11th commit in Michigan's 2017 class. This post—and, yes, Leonard Taylor's and Phil Paea's too—will be updated with scouting and more tomorrow.
Red will be behind the bench again in 2016-17. [Patrick Barron]
At the hockey posteason banquet, Red Berenson announced that he'll return next season. From Michigan Daily hockey beat writer Justin Meyer:
Breaking: Red Betenson will return to Michigan next season
— Justin Meyer (@Justinfmeyer) April 3, 2016
Confirmed at end of year awards. "I had a conversation with Warde Manuel and I'm here today to say this will not be my last hockey banquet"
— Justin Meyer (@Justinfmeyer) April 3, 2016
We are in the studio recording this week's podcast. More to come this week.
HAIR [Isaiah Hole/247]
As first reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by Steve Wiltfong, Michigan has picked up a commitment from 2017 Berrien Springs (MI) three-star DT Phil Paea, who visited Ann Arbor this weekend for the Spring Game. While Paea is ranked as the #13 in-state prospect on the 247 Composite, his offer sheet suggests he'll move up that list considerably; Paea chose the Wolverines over the likes of Notre Dame, Oregon, and USC. The Irish posed a particularly serious threat as Berrien Springs is only a half-hour away from South Bend.
Paea's commitment is an early feather in the cap for new director of player personnel Tony Tuioti:
A major factor in Paea's commitment to Michigan was director of player personnel Tony Tuioti, a Hawaii native who hit it off with the prospect on his first visit to campus last month.
"Coach Tuioti was a big factor in why my visit went so well," he told Wolverine247 at the time. "He really made me feel at home and showed me why Michigan could be a great place for me."
Paea is Michigan's tenth commit in the 2017 class and the first on the defensive line. He's also a cousin of current DT Bryan Mone; in addition to genes, they share similarly impressive hairstyles.
This post, along with Leonard Taylor's, will be updated in full on Monday, when there should be a good deal more scouting info available on both players.
How has the role of athletic director changed?
"Well, I don't know that the role has changed. The magnitude has grown in terms of salaries and the like but I think the people and the effort to really contribute to the success of these students on the student and athletic side is still there. So in the sense of the magnitude financially, particularly here, there's been a lot of growth.
"Actually, to your point, Drew, just this morning when I was in a meeting coach Berenson brought in an article from back in 1984 with the salaries of the coaches back then ,and he was looking for something and found it and thought I'd enjoy it and I did. At that time Bo Schembechler was making more than Don Canham, and it didn't surprise me. The amount he was paid surprised me back in that day compared to now, but I don't think things have changed much in terms of decision making, in terms of effort on the focus on helping these young people, the focus on helping them to produce success on the fields of play—I think those things are all still the same."
Is it harder though for an AD nowadays to take a backseat to more high-profile coaches?
"No, not for me. I never see it in—if you're truly a team there's times where I'll have to step to the podium and address things and there's times where coach Harbaugh and other coaches will be up front. I never have concern about who's in the front, who's in the back. As long as we're all in the same car moving forward I'm good with it."
"Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it."
Your thoughts on the extraordinary attention your old teammate Jim Harbaugh seems to draw, and how you see your role in working with him, overseeing him, [and] assisting him.
"Well, first and foremost, the Jim Harbaugh that I have known and know now is not the person who's out there seeking this for his own benefit. If the attention comes—it seems to come often—I don't think its…as I've talked to him over the last four or five weeks, it's nothing intentional he's doing to say, 'I want attention.' He's going to do things on Twitter, he's going to make the responses to questions the way he wants to do it, but there's nothing that he's doing to try to bring attention to him. I think he's doing what's in the best interest of the team.
"He's going to defend Michigan and Michigan football, and if that creates some attention, if the things he does to make this football team better create attention and that comes with it then he realizes that's just what's going to happen. He's doing it because—everything we've talked about that he's done he's doing because he thinks it's in the best interest of Michigan football, and for that, for me, I don't mind him getting the attention that he gets."
There's been a lot written about the transgressions, for example, or Syracuse and North Carolina in the Final Four. You've got a basketball program that's run by a guy that most people think is clean. What's the balance there? Obviously you want to win at the highest level but you don't want to get into those gray areas. How do you kind of walk that line?
"You do and you focus on doing the right things on a daily basis. And I'm not going to sit in judgment of any institution. They have people there that are trying to make sure that things are done the right way, and sometimes it happens that you don't. You deal with the penalties, you deal with the things that have to come out, and you move forward to get better.
"What we do is going to try and work at it on a daily basis to emphasize the things that are important. I tell people here all the time, we're here to focus on the academic success of our students; we're here to focus on developing them to win championships and compete for championships; we're here to develop them as young people and win and do all that within the rules, and lastly we're going to have fun doing it.
"I'm not going to comment or sit in judgment of other institutions because I know many of my colleagues across the country are trying to do those same things. Where there are issues you deal with them. You deal with them quickly and effectively and [inaudible because somebody coughed] so that they don't happen again."
[After THE JUMP: Satellite camps, whether there are changes needed in the department, Red's future, and the unexploitable Fitbit system]
2018 OH DE Leonard Taylor just pulled the trigger after Michigan's spring game:
— Leonard Taylor (@Lenny_T_20) April 2, 2016
Taylor is the teammate of OH LB Antwuan Johnson, Michigan's first 2018 commit, and an early top-25 prospect on 247, the only service with 2018 rankings at the moment. Scout doesn't have a list yet but does rate him a four-star DE; ESPN and Rivals haven't put up 2018 data yet. Validating that 247 ranking is an impressive suite of early offers including the big four in the Midwest (M, OSU, PSU, ND) and Tennessee.
He could end up on the DL or as a tight end; I didn't see any actual scouting at any of the sites yet. Steve Lorenz, who was predicting that Taylor might drop for Michigan, simultaneously warned that Michigan would have to fight to keep him. So keep that in the back of your mind; for now Michigan has struck first, and twice, in Ohio in the 2018 class.
I guess I need to include a SPOILER ALERT for those who weren't able to watch the live stream. If for some reason you want the ending of the Spring Game to be a mystery, and yet you still are on this blog, stop reading now. The full game re-airs at 9:30 on BTN.
Ty Isaac had the best night among the RBs. [Eric Upchurch]
The Maize team prevailed, 14-13, after a stunningly exciting finish for a Spring Game. After John O'Korn juked Mike McCray to cap off an impressive last-gasp drive for the Blue team, but the Maize defense stuffed a fullback dive by Henry Poggi on the ensuing two-point attempt to preserve victory. Your player of the game is Wyatt Shallman. I require no further justification than this:
I won't bother with a full recap, because SPRING GAME, but here are a few players on each side of the ball that stood out to me on first viewing—it was tough to follow line play from the box, so this is mostly going to focus on the skill positions and the back seven.
John O'Korn was at his best when on the move. [Upchurch]
Ty Isaac tallied 78 yards on ten carries, breaking off a few big runs on a night when none of the other tailbacks found much room to operate behind split-squad offensive lines. He ran patiently and chose the right moments to bounce runs outside. He's a major big-play threat with his speed/size combo.
The quarterbacks were steady, which is about all you can ask in a Spring Game, especially since the O-lines—which split starters between the two squads—were inconsistent in protection. Wilton Speight hit 5/6 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown; he added a six-yard rushing touchdown on a waggle and gained a first down with a 13-yard scramble.
John O'Korn didn't put up as pretty of a passing line, completing 6/14 passes for 93 yards, but he rushed for 28 yards and the late touchdown on seven carries. O'Korn did a nice job of buying time by breaking the pocket and picking his spots to scramble downfield. He also avoided any major mistakes. Shane Morris had an up-and-down showing at quarterback, hitting some nice throws but also hucking a pick to Dymonte Thomas in the end zone (more on that later) when he had a receiver open underneath for a first down. Morris moonlighted at receiver and picked up a 25-yard gain on the final drive when he got wide open on a mesh concept.
With Jehu Chesson out and Amara Darboh taking it easy, Grant Perry played the role of #1 receiver for the Maize squad and aquitted himself well. He beat a defender with a nice deep route that left Speight plenty of room on the sideline, then made an impressive catch—unfortunately, Speight's throw took him out of bounds. He had three actual catches for 30 yards; the reserve corners had a tough time sticking with him on intermediate routes.
TJ Wheatley had a drop over the middle, but he later hauled in a nine-yard catch and had impressive blocks against both Mike McCray and Jabrill Peppers(!) to spring Isaac for big gains. The hype train continues unabated. Ian Bunting looked pretty athletic on a 49-yard jaunt down the sideline after his defender got picked on another mesh route. Zach Gentry had a late 19-yard catch, though he's still far from ready to see the field.
Tyree Kinnel played well against both the run and the pass. [Upchurch]
Matt Godin stood out among the defensive linemen who played most of the game, taking advantage of getting lined up across from Juwann Bushell-Beatty—who had a rough go at left guard—to work his way into the backfield consistently. Taco Charlton also deserves a mention for blowing Grant Newsome back a few yards to stuff Isaac's first run; Charlton and Wormley both looked good before exiting early along with several other established starters, including Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis.
I liked what I saw from Mike McCray, who teamed up with Tyree Kinnel for a TFL that forced a Maize punt on a third-and-short run to the outside. Kinnel, meanwhile, looked great; he stuck with his mark in coverage and made a couple stops coming downhill against the run. If Michigan needs to put him out there at safety, he looks ready.
Speaking of safeties, Dymonte Thomas was not boring in the best of ways. On the interception against Morris, he covered a ton of ground to get to a throw intended for Jack Wanger at the back pylon—a perfect throw if Thomas weren't there—then held on after leaping for the pick. I didn't notice any coverage busts from him.
Jeremy Clark doesn't look ready to cede a starting spot to Channing Stribling. He broke up a couple passes, including one after blanketing Wangler on a streak route and forcing him into the sideline; Wangler was so well-covered that he couldn't gain separation even with an obvious push-off.
That's the best I could muster from first viewing in the press box. We'll have a lot more coverage in the week to come.