"I love it that Ivy League coaches are coming to our camp and Big Ten coaches are coming to our camp. South Florida is coming. We've got about 70 schools that are coming to our camp."
Linked to articles on SC QB Cornelius Jones, SC WR Nick Jones($), DC LB Javarie Johnson, OH S Kurtis Drummond, FL RB Eduardo Clements, MI QB commit Devin Gardner, SC QB commit Cornelius Jones, LA QB Munchie Legaux, MI RB Austin White, AZ S Marquis Flowers, OH OL Skyler Schofner, GA DE Henry Anderson, FL RB Roy Finch, MI P Mike Sadler (more($)).
Removed TX LB Corey Nelson(dropped M), VA DT Evan Hailes (ditto), OH LB Jordan Hicks (basically dropped us), NC DE Gabe King (M not top 4). Didn't quite remove MI LB Daniel Easterly despite his Illinois commitment.
FL RB Eduardo Clements
A couple more guys Michigan was following on Twitter but weren't being followed by (Hailes, Hicks, King) hit the bricks, as per usual. Two situations merit a little more discussion:
- Cass Tech LB Daniel Easterly committed to Illinois. I didn't remove him from the board in case a Michigan offer would warrant further consideration by him, but he didn't show at camp. That signals a lack of interest in getting that offer, and I don't expect anything will come of it.
- TX LB Corey Nelson got dropped from the board after announcing a top five that had Michigan nowhere in it, but I re-added him after a weird article in which he claimed he would take an official to Michigan, which you can read a summary of at Burnt Orange Nation.
Third (Second?) Tailback
Various recruiting sites are asserting that TX RB Tony Drake is actually being brought in as a slot receiver, FWIW, though I think that determination will depend a lot on the composition of the roster next fall and is far from decided. So more tailbacks might be in order.
FL RB Roy Finch is a high-rated waterbug sort who Michigan has offered, but this article doesn't mention them:
Finch said Oklahoma and Stanford are “right up there” on his list favorite schools. However, he says his mind is not made up quite yet. “I really think every school is in the hunt,” Finch said. “I just really have to get down and visit some schools and find out what is best for me.”
Finch added schools won’t have to wait too much longer, though, before his decision is made. “When the recruiting process first started, I thought about prolonging it,” he said. “But now, I want to get it out of the way before the season starts.”
Blah. If Finch doesn't wait for officials he'd have to shell out for an unofficial to visit M; without that he's headed elsewhere.
MI RB Austin White has been rumored to be a Michigan lean for a while now but he's playing it cool in this article:
"I'm still not really comfortable with what I've seen," White said. "I'm going to LSU July 21 and check that out. I'll get a chance to talk to the coaches.
"I might hit a couple other schools too, but I'm not sure."
Michigan and Michigan State were hit on a camp swing, as was Illinois. There have been several reports reporting a significant, but private, Michigan lead, and I still feel confident White will be a part of the class.
And camp week's most unusual visitor was FL RB Eduardo Clements, who visited, claimed he would decide between Michigan and Georgia after he came back, and saw this written about him in the aftermath:
Apparently Booker T. Washington H.S. (Miami) standout running back Eduardo Clements got a big bug put in his ear when he got to Michigan on Tuesday. Clements reportedly has dropped FSU as his top team and has put Michigan at the head of the class. Clements cited the contrast in styles as his primary reason for this.
Okay: I don't think that's true. Clements was quoted elsewhere as being down to M and UGA, so that bit of information has to be regarded skeptically. But Clements has backed off his decision to decide, which is good since the conventional wisdom was that Georgia would lock this guy down if that came off. He's also added Miami back in. The best hope here is that Clements holds off for some fall officials.
Clements, by the way, is a Rivals 100 guy who was highly impressive at camp. He would be a ver' nice pickup.
One guy who it looks like will be on the outside looking in: MI RB Nick Hill did not get an offer after his camp trip. He did pick one up from State, which is a little odd given their offense and his size (a 5'9" Ringer is one thing, but Hill is seriously tiny). The running backs in state could fall out in the opposite fashion everyone expected, with White ticketed for M while Hill sucks it up and heads to East Lansing.
Michigan's locked down one interior lineman and remains in good shape with FL OL Torrian Wilson, who spent a full week($) in Ann Arbor recently. That wasn't all camping and whatnot, as he was visiting a local aunt, but he did take the opportunity to visit the Michigan campus a few additional times. Miami remains a threat but it's hard to see anyone else coming in for him; successfully locking him down would end Michigan's interior OL recruiting.
So that would take care of interior linemen, leaving Michigan to pick up one or two tackles. Obviously Highest Most Holy Priority of Priorities is MN OL Seantrel Henderson, but there are a couple other possibilities out there. OH OL Skyler Schofner has an offer but plans on waiting to decide:
"I'll probably make (a decision) after football season," the big lineman said. "Right now, I'm considering everyone. I can't be judging anyone right now (by games) on TV and all of that. I want to see for myself."
On the other side of the ball, Michigan does draw a mention from PA DT Sharrif Floyd in a post-camp AMP interview, but it sounds like Penn State, USC, and Florida are in better shape. Floyd does plan to take his officials and commit at the Army game, so you know the drill: get him on campus and there's a chance.
MI DT Jonathan Hankins, meanwhile, is an enormous puffy version of Hill. He camped but did not get an offer after showing his conditioning to be lacking. Michigan doesn't want to actually have Barwis kill and eat anyone, so that's an issue. Michigan might follow him into the fall after giving him instructions to get in better shape; at this point I don't think that's particularly likely. DT is going to be a hard spot to fill.
The Man Who Would Be Space Emperor
Zoltan the Inconceivable shuffles off this eligibility coil this fall, of course, leaving a yawning cavern at the punting position that no one will ever fill. But men will try… men will try.
There have been a couple other names thrown around at the position (specifically: WI P Will Hagerup and FL P Brandon Tarpley) but it's looking like MI P Mike Sadler is going to be the guy. He showed at Michigan's camp and did well:
“It went well,” he explained to GBW. “I was only there for the second day, as I had a prior commitment on the first day. But I punted well. I did have a shaky session in there, but I got right back at it, and people were impressed ... so it went well."
And this is about as blunt as recruits get:
"And," he added, "I’m hoping to be their guy.” …
“I’d be very humbled (if they offered). In terms of taking it or not, I’d have to think about it -- but they’re definitely my top choice right now. So things are looking good.”
Read: offer = commit. How likely is that offer? Well, they're going to take someone at the spot and Sadler's got some impressive offers—LSU and Alabama($), for two—so once Michigan sits down to talk about special teams offers it would be a surprise not to see Sadler issued a letter.
Ah, hell: this was obvious once Michigan took a commitment from Cornelius Jones but it hurts all the same:
ESPN reports that Edna Karr multitalented QB Munchie LeGaux (6'4-180) has Oregon atop his list at this time. Michigan, Tennessee, West Virginia and Ole Miss are all a step behind for the dual threat star. He plans on majoring in sports medicine.
Legaux will probably hit "Happy Trails" in the near future; with that and the abortive commit attempt of TX LB Holmes Onwukaife, Michigan's awesome name quotient looks to take a dive this year.
Ack Potential Future WR
So the assumption on SC QB commit Cornelius Jones is that if QB doesn't pan out we'll see him move. I was hoping safety, but that's not what he's been told:
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said he would start Jones out at quarterback, and if that didn't work out, most likely move him to receiver.
“That would be okay,” said Jones, who has 4.47 speed in the 40-yard dash. “I like wide receiver. But I'm looking forward to giving quarterback a try.”
Nice fake 40, BTW. Hear me now and believe me later: one of our zillion WR recruits will be in the secondary before the end of 2010-2011.
Weekly Gardner Porn-type Substance
Some fluff on the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp that happened a couple weeks ago strikes upon Gardner's performance:
The event was dotted with standout moments by numerous players, but none was more consistently dominant than Inkster's Gardner. He has staked his claim as the state's top player with outright dominance in camps and combines throughout the spring and summer. His Sound Mind/Sound Body performance was more of the same.
"We all know he's a great athlete and he showed that by doing very well at receiver in addition to quarterback," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "What has impressed me the most recently, though, is how much he has improved as a passer. His mechanics are like night and day from this time last year and his passes have much more zip. The work he has put in as a passer has paid off."
Gardner also played enough wide receiver to convince observers he was the best guy at that position there, too. Seven-on-seven video from Michigan's camp for you:
I should point out that from reports Gardner had a rough day overall in the 7-on-7. That's not wholly surprising—he still needs a lot of work with reads and routes he hasn't been getting in these camps—but also might retard what looked like a sure flight towards the top of recruiting lists.
Cracking Glenville(?) And Other Safeties
OH S Latwan Anderson also showed for Michigan's 7-on-7 camp, where he was utterly dominant according to observers. (Video if you're intrigued.) Michigan, Michigan State, and WVU have been Anderson's top three for a while, but in the aftermath of the camp that list has changed:
Highly recruited Glenville H.S. defensive back and Gridironstuds.com member Latwan Anderson has announced his Top 5 of: #1 West Virginia, #2 Michigan, #3 Georgia, #4 North Carolina and #5 Miami, FL. Anderson says this list is final “no more changes.”
That site is still not 100% reliable in my mind, but it's been pretty good over the last few months and there was a premium article confirm that so there you go. I'm not aware that Anderson has visited any of his top five aside from Michigan and WVU, and the two leaders are supposed to be close to neck-and-neck. Anderson was a WVU fan when he was younger.
(Meanwhile, SpartanMag's Matt Dorsey, who if you don't know is like Tom Beaver plus an enormous inferiority complex and minus any shred of dignity, says "Ohio State and MSU are considered the favorites." Whoops. OSU might be a factor if they offer, but State just got pwned.)
Another safety to keep an eye on is some guy from South Carolina named Detrick Bonner, who popped up for the first time in an AJC article claiming offers from about a dozen programs and… uh… this leader?
He had 11 offers as of Wednesday, favoring Michigan the most. But it’s clear he hasn’t made a decision and Clemson, where he has camped, made an impression on the 6-foot, 165-pound receiver.
“The fact that they gave me my own tour, they showed more love, I guess,” Bonner told the AJC.
ACK receiver, yes, but no: at Michigan he's a DB, obviously. This is the first I've heard of Bonner; often these weird one-off stories are followed up by others that never mention Michigan at all and a commitment to a school somewhere in the South, but if he's got a Clemson offer and still says M leads this one might actually be something to watch.
Finally, OH S Kurtis Drummond visited M and MSU and has some unsurprising leaders in the aftermath of that:
Officials are on tap.
Etc.: SC WR Nick Jones says South Carolina leads($), which okay. Not sounding good with GA DE Henry Anderson. AZ S Marquis Flowers disses USC camp because it's too expensive, so don't expect him to take an unofficial to M.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, and QB Denard Robinson.
|West Palm Beach, Florida - 6'0" 202
|Scout||3*, #11 K|
|Rivals||2*, #8 K|
|ESPN||77, #16 K|
|Others||#1 K to Lemming|
|YMRMFSPA||Kickers of Christmas Past|
Brendan Gibbons was Michigan's second choice at kicker after Penn State (and onetime Michigan) commit Anthony Fera. Fera may be rated higher, but has he ever smoked some fool?
Eh… maybe. Fera's a pretty big dude for a kicker. But it's not on the internet so screw that guy in the ear.
Kickers, who tend to melt down at the slightest provocation, are almost fruitless to project but Michigan might be better at picking out their guys than most since former M kicker Brandon Kornblue has begun carving a career for himself as a guru in the field. Kornblue held a bunch of camps and reported back positively on Gibbons:
For the first time this summer, the Kornblue Kicking School, run by former U-M kicker Brandon Kornblue, was Michigan’s primary camp for evaluating kicker prospects. The camp attracted some of the nation’s elite prospects. The top performer at the June 29-30 camp, according to Kornblue, was West Palm Beach (Fla.) Cardinal Neumann’s Brendan Gibbons.
Michigan duly offered and, as is usual when it comes to specialists, the offer was quickly accepted.
Gibbons's got a bigger leg than Michigan kickers of the recent past, having hit a 52-yarder in high school. Rivals says he possesses the third-strongest leg in the class. And though kicking guru Chris Sailer has a vested interest in pumping up one of his proteges, he echoes the big leg stuff:
He has a huge leg and gets the ball up well. Kicks off the ground for FG's and off the 1" for kickoffs. One of the strongest legs in the nation.
ESPN says… well… you see… he's a kicker:
He gets into his field goals quickly and has smooth tempo. Powerful leg and has kicked several field goals over 40 yards including a 52 yarder. Kickoffs average about 5 yards deep with good hang of about 4.0 seconds.
And though he didn't get a lot of work as a senior, when called upon he was accurate:
The 6-1, 205-pound Gibbons has had a strong senior season, converting 10 of 12 field goals with a long of 52 yards. He also has hit 93 percent of his kickoffs for touchbacks, and most go out the back of the end zone. Gibbons leg strength is one of his best assets and he expects he'll be able to show it off early at Michigan.
"I hope I can start right away; that's my goal," he said. "I'm pretty sure both their kickers are seniors and that's what they want me to do, so I'll do it. Coach Rodriguez said I might have a shot at punting too."
That 93% touchback number is based on a higher tee and kicks from the 40, so don't expect that to be replicated at Michigan.
He at one point noted Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the MVP of last year’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl who had a drawn-out recruiting process that ultimately came down to the Buckeyes and Wolverines, “should be wearing blue.”
Gibbons isn’t just all show, though. He was consistently booming the ball on field goals and kickoffs during practice.
Even Penn State signee Eric Shrive took note of the leg:
Brendan Gibbons is the East kicker, and Shrive said he was teeing the ball up at the opposite 45-yard line and booting the thing through the uprights and onto the running track beyond the field. That's a 65-yarder with some distance to spare.
"Our kicker is nasty," Shrive raved.
So: Gibbons can kick it far indeed, and has at least two folks very much in his corner—you'll note Tom Lemming's ranking above. Michigan clearly preferred Fera, though, and so there were probably some consistency issues Gibbons had that Fera lacked. Either way he should be better than the dual-headed walk-ons of the past couple years. Or maybe not. This is a kicker, after all.
Guru Reliability: Low. Is kicker.
General Excitement Level: Is kicker.
Projection: Is kicker. And starts this year… how well I can't tell you.
lolfans. I don't mean to take a shot at Ohio State fans in this specific instance, but I did find this shocking development in the Jamaal Berry case funny:
Much was also made of the fact that Berry was listed at 5-8 in his arrest report, though Ohio State lists the incoming recruit at 5-11. While it’s true that height numbers are routinely inflated during both recruiting and college ball, it’s worth pointing out that Berry’s height (and weight) information may have came from his (two year-old) driver’s license and he’s grown the two to three inches since then.
"Oh no! Our star-studded RB recruit might not make it to campus!" was quickly replaced with "oh no! he might be way smaller than reputed!" Which, honestly, would be exactly my reaction if Rodriguez didn't appear to prefer his running backs bite-sized.
Drama. The Big 33 game—an all-star affair between Pennsylvania and Ohio—took place over the weekend, with Ohio winning on a one-yard dive by an offensive lineman. Fitzgerald Toussaint participated and scored twice on a 46 yard swing pass and a six-yard pitch sweep. You can see them for yourself (sort of) at 1:20 and 4:30 in this dramatic highlight video:
Needs more lightning bolts. That first touchdown was impossible to make out, so a couple of descriptions follow. One:
Akron quarterback recruit Patrick Nicely tossed a pass to Toussaint in the left flat where he cut back to the middle and outran the defense for a 46-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
The same kind of thing worked big for Ohio on its next try, three wideouts going deep to clear out the secondary and Nicely finding Fitzgerald Toussaint (Michigan) in the flat and Toussaint making open-field things happen for a 46-yard touchdown.
Fitzgerald Toussaint: where open field things happen.
I forget to spell you again. Every time I go a week or two without spelling "Smotrycz" I forget how to do it and end up typing all sorts of weird stuff in a vain attempt to figure it out, but Smotrycz is endeavoring to come up often enough to forestall this, which I appreciate. The latest events in Smotrycz's slow-motion summer explosion were the Rumble in the Bronx, at which this…
Evan Smotrcyz (6′8″ Jr. SF, Reading (MA) New Hampton Prep) This weekend, he showed again that he’s really come into his own as he continues to play well. He shot the ball well from long range and managed to be aggressive without forcing something that isn’t there. Besides his three-point shots, he scored on jumpers off the dribble and found openings to drive to score as well. The Michigan commit has had a solid spring.
(Note that he's shrunk a couple inches here.) …and the NBAPA, at which this…
The Michigan commit is not that athletic and his game isn’t necessarily aesthetically pleasing. Smotrycz, however, produces. He can score at all three levels and has to the tune of 13 points per game. He can also find the open man and has a penchant for coming up with 50/50 balls. He is not a prospect who everyone is going to love, but it is evident why coach John Beilein thinks highly of him.
…which actually seemed a little negative, as Smotrycz was voted to the camp's 20-man all star team (there were 80 prospects in attendance) and finished around tenth in scoring. It was a busy week for Brandan Kearney and Trey Zeigler, too.
Drafting. The NHL draft approaches and should see as many as six future Wolverines taken, though two of them won't arrive on campus this year. Both future-future Wolverines play on the same team: Rhode Island native Mac Bennett is a member of Michigan's loaded 2010 class, and forward Derek Deblois is currently scheduled to come in for 2011(!), pending early departures. The Providence Journal has an article breaking down their prospects. RLR's Kyle Woodlief on Bennett:
"Someone’s going to like him enough to step up and take him in the second round,'' probably from 45 to 50. Woodlief said that he does not like Bennett’s “lack of discipline in the defensive end. He’s more like a forward playing defense.’’
Bennett is a strong skater –– he has “jets,’’ Woodlief said. “He’s able to create odd-man rushes with his wheels,’’ he said, and “he can handle the puck at high speed.’’
Woodlief suggests, apropos of nothing, that Bennett should go to major junior. Thanks for nothing, Kyle. Deblois, meanwhile, is projected as a sixth or seventh rounder. Woodlief, again, provides the most bluntly interesting assessment:
“He really has soft hands. He knows where the back of the net is. Doesn’t really like to play in traffic, from what I’ve seen. His skating is slightly above average.’’
A Kings scout also chips in:
"He is a very good skater, carries the puck with much jump and deception. Works the boards, corners, goes hard to the net, has real nice hands, puck carrying, puck handling and passing skills, creative offensively, distributes the puck very well. Has to be a little bit more consistent game to game."
The article consists entirely of scouting reports, so there's plenty more at the above link. (HT: Michigan Hockey Net.)
OH CB Courtney Avery, who had been committed to Stanford, picked up an offer after camping extensively at Michigan. And he's now committed($). Informative update coming.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|3*, #23 CB||NR||73, no position rating|
Well, then. This is a huge disparity.
Avery's not too far away from a fourth star on Scout—four stars go to the top #18 CBs—and since the lists generally expand as evaluators get more data, he could move up. For comparison's sake, one-time Michigan lean Lo Wood is Scout's #41 corner.
On the other hand, Avery's not even rated by Rivals and ESPN loathes him; a 73 is basically "welcome to the MAC, kid". I'm not sure what they're getting at with their review:
Avery is an exceptional athlete that his only limited by his physical size. He is light weight but has very good speed and excellent quickness. … Has good hips and can turn and change direction without any loss of balance or control. Shows the ability to play man to man coverage as a corner and can run stride for stride with the wideout on the takeoff route. Closes quickly on the receiver when playing zone coverage.
He's not huge or anything, but even as listed at 5'9", 165 that's not unheard of for a cornerback. There have been message board natterings suggesting he's now 5'11", but… uh… no. They measured him not three months ago and declared him 5'9".
One possible source of the disagreement: Avery is a high school quarterback. He's actually been Lexington's starter since he was a freshman. Check it:
A starter at quarterback since his freshman year, Avery completed 73 percent of his passes during the regular season (122-for-166) for 2,095 yards, 21 touchdowns and one interception and was the Ohio Cardinal Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
Dang. Too bad you're 5'9", kid. You might have been the teeniest starting QB ever:
"Courtney has been in the limelight for a long time -- he was our starting quarterback as a 14-year-old freshman --and to earn a scholarship offer from a program like Michigan, it's a great honor," Payne said. "Michigan had a transition year last year, but it is still a top 10 program nationally. They only recruit the cream of the crop."
Avery's also been Lexington's starter at point guard for about that long and was going to walk-on to the Cardinal basketball team. Anyway, all this means the majority of his focus in high school has been on quarterbacking, as we'll see when we get to his paltry defensive stats. Schools recruiting him are making projections. Michigan, having gotten an extended look at camp, is in a better position than anyone else to make that projection.
And at least some close observers of Ohio football think this isn't a MAC player at all. Duane Long, asked to comment on Michigan's offer to Avery by an Ohio State fan wondering about he and Swigert:
I think it is a great offer. I think Avery is a borderline Buckeye caliber recruit.
"He had a phenomenal workout at Michigan, which is exactly what we expected of him," Payne said. "He was the top defensive back there and he performed as such."
(Swigert is a "reach" for both schools according to him, FWIW.)
Avery's recruitment came to a halt in late March, when he committed to Stanford. His other offers then were of the MAC variety, but Jeremy Crabtree said he was "on track to land several Big Ten offers this spring," which was obviously true. Since the commitment he picked up offers from Vanderbilt and Louisville, FWIW.
Ohio State was looking at him, too.
As mentioned, not much at corner:
He made 19 tackles and recovered a fumble from his cornerback spot and was a first team All-Ohioan.
That honor despite the lack of stats is good, right?
FAKE 40 TIME
There's also Scouting Ohio video for you.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Yes, another three star and the attendant grumbling therein. You have to give the coaches some extra leeway with this one, though, as it is a camp offer based off a lot more than some game film. And given the strong position they're in with a couple of highly-regarded corners it's not like this is a flier.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan still needs cornerbacks, and in some quantity. Highly-rated PA CB Cullen Christian has maintained Michigan as his heavy leader for months now and should drop at some point over the next few months, and then there's Dior Mathis, Rashad Knight, and Travis Williams. I expect two, maybe three, additional corners.
"Michigan has great tradition. It's one of the best programs in the country and, academically, it ranks among the best in the country," said Avery, who carries a 3.7 grade point average and plans to study medicine. "Stanford has the best academics in the country and the football program is on the rise."
In addition to Stanford and Michigan, Avery plans to take official visits to Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Louisville. He won't rush his decision.
…this guy meant all the academics stuff everyone says.
Does it concern you that Michigan takes verbals from kids who have never even been on the campus in Ann Arbor? I noticed on your blog that a recent comment mentioned that he's been to EMU, but never U-M. This doesn't appear to be normal to me and may be cause for some kids to decommit at a later date.
I wasn't sure if this was due to RR pressuring kids into committing or if it's just due to young, inexperienced kids making sudden reactive decisions. Whatever the RR method is, I would like to see him go after some better players. The Big Ten isn't going to improve much with one of their benchmark schools continually fighting over most of their recruits with powerhouses such as Tulsa, Duke, and Rutgers instead of Texas, USC, and Florida.
FTR: the player you're talking about is TX DE Holmes Onwukaife, who is apparently not committed after all. But the point stands.
I don't have any hard numbers on this, but just as a guy who follows recruiting pretty closely I can tell you my impression is this is a nationwide phenomenon as players get more used to the idea of a verbal commitment being more of a reservation than a, you know, commitment. Michigan is more exposed to this than most under Rodriguez because they recruit a lot from distant areas of the country.
As far as concern goes: it doesn't register. I think you have to take such a verbal commitment lightly and recruit as if the player in question is uncommitted but has a declared leader, but taking the commit certainly doesn't reduce your chances of landing him. I guess it might reduce the chances of landing another player at the same position, but everyone has to deal with this in a new era of early verbals and frequent decommits.
I would also like to see Rodriguez nail down a wide variety of the country's best players, and I don't think this year is representative of his recruiting: in RR's previous 1.5 classes at Michigan he's brought in a large number of four stars with good offers. This year's parade of middling sorts is a natural consequence of going 3-9.
That was an interesting stat about UM beating the other teams rushing defense per average in all of their last 6 games other then MSU.
Initially, I wondered if that was due to the high volume of carries but I looked it up and in 4 of the last 6 games, UM's yds/rushing attempt was actually higher then the opponents average too. The two that weren't were MSU and OSU. OSU gave up an average of 3.5 yds/rush attempt and UM averaged 2.7 yds/rush attempt.
What makes these stats even more impressive was that you know the defenses were focused on shutting down the running game and the short passing game until Threet/Sheridan proved they were viable threats in the downfield passing game.
It does bode well for 2009, especially if UM/Forcier can improve in the passing game (could it be worse?).
Keep up the good work.
This isn't so much a question as an addendum, I guess, but some commentary: Michigan's rushing game went from a train wreck to silently competent by the end of last season despite the quarterback fiasco, which is an impressive accomplishment. With literally everyone who had a significant hand in that back for a second year in the system, the arrow points resolutely up here.
HOWEVA, I am a bit concerned that part of the success was due to novelty and that next season won't be quite as fruitful as the numbers above and the returning starters imply. In the second half of the Penn State game Michigan got shut down when PSU adjusted to the MINOR RAGE, and the efficiency of the offense dipped. Michigan won't get that advantage of surprise this year.
Also, FWIW, it does sound like that round of cuts Calipari executed at Kentucky weren't quite as bad as it sounded:
I agree with you that Calipari's over-signing and the inevitable cuts associated with it will be ugly. I don't find the first three to go to be upsetting or nearly as despicable as being Sabanized, though. I know that you pride yourself in being a very informed person, so if you have a minute to read over the following and take it into consideration the next time you write something about Kentucky basketball, I'd appreciate it.
Jared Carter didn't apply for a 5th year medical redshirt. He'd already participated in Senior Night, because it was already known that he would not be back next year. I see no difference in that and the handful of football players that don't come back for a 5th year at any given school in the country.
Donald Williams was in a weird situation. I think Gillispie picked him up at a bar somewhere at the 11th hour. (He commited on 8/27/08.) UK had an extra scholarship available, so they took a shot on a guy with offers from UAB, New Orleans, St. John's and the like. He showed up and ended up redshirting, and Gillispie told him that his scholarship would likely just be a one year deal, because he had an extra available for that year only. Again, it's no surprise that he would not be on scholarship at UK next year, regardless of who the coach was.
The third person to be "cut" was A.J. Stewart. If any of these three were politely given the boot, it was he. A.J. had been suspended for falling asleep in team meetings, missing class, and he even quit the team at one point last season. He was reinstated after a player vote to give him yet another chance. He was going to have to miss the first semester of next season because of academic issues. This guy will be better off transferring somewhere and getting his stuff together.
The next round of cuts is where things will probably get interesting, and I'll probably email you again with all sorts of justifications and ridiculousness, but I honestly feel pretty good about these first three.
Thanks for your time,
Jeremy Herrmann (Yes, that Herrmann)
So what sounded like three guys getting axed was more like one with a Reed Baker and an Amadou Ba thrown in. With Jodie Meeks is in the draft for good, Kentucky is now waiting on its recruits to qualify; if they do there will be one more outright cut.
Is this good? No. It is still worse than Alabama by a long shot, and if there's any justice in the APR Kentucky will find themselves looking at scholarship penalties in the near future—losing a guy who's ineligible is a double hit. But it's not as bad as it looked earlier.
In 2010 Michigan has an open slot on its schedule September 4th and a spanking new set of luxury boxes and club seats to fill. Boise State has an open slot the same date and an athletic director who's looking for benjamins above all:
"Right now, I'd go where I can make the most money," Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said. "If I can play at home and make that much money, then I'm going to play at home. But it's difficult to make that much money in our stadium size. ... I've tried to avoid those [guarantee games]. Now they're much more of a reality going forward."
Boise State isn't USC but neither are they Delaware State. If not Boise, that post above has a useful list of other teams with a free date, and NationalChamps.net has a compilation of future schedules.
Teams with open dates are in groups below, with existing opponents and teams that appear to have been listed erroneously in the Boise post (GT and Miami are full, for two) excised:
NOT HAPPENING WITHOUT AN UNLIKELY RETURN GAME
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Mississippi State
- Washington State
- Maryland (would have to move Navy game)
- NC State
- Oregon State
- South Carolina (would have to move Troy game)
- TCU (they'd have to move their Baylor game)
Would any of the teams in the last category go for a pure guarantee game? I kind of doubt it, especially the teams that would have to futz with their existing schedules to open up a slot. Would Michigan or any of those teams go for a 2-for-1? That I also doubt given Michigan's scheduling practices of late.
Boise State looks like the only program out there with the right open date who would accept a guarantee game and build any pregame hype.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
|Deerfield Beach, Florida - 6'0" 180
|Scout||4*, #16 CB, #159 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #14 ATH, #188 overall|
|ESPN||81, #7 ATH, #101 overall|
|Others||#187 to TAKKLE.|
|Other Suitors||Florida, Georgia, Kansas State, West Virginia|
|Mailbag question answered.|
|Notes||Teammate of Witty. Nicknamed "Shoelace".|
Yeah, I said it: Pat White. "You may remember me from such players as" is supposed to be an indicator of the type of player Michigan will get if the kid pans out and not a prediction of same, but invoking the Great White Bolt is a heavy burden in any case. That goes double when the other quarterback options are another true freshman and That Darkness We Do Not Consider.
But it's hard to avoid the comparison when the player in question does this…
Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.
Robinson's personal-best … is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.
…and says this afterwards…
'' I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,'' Robinson said.
…and is this according to SoFLAFootball…
Best athlete in Florida may move to WR or CB in college
…and has a tag on this blog called "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium." (He'd later finish third in the state finals after a poor start. The guy who won broke the state record.) Even Tate Forcier's mom knows what's up:
On National Signing Day in February, early-enrollee Tate Forcier couldn’t even remember Denard Robinson’s name. All he knew was what his mom had explained over the phone earlier that day: the Wolverines signed another dual-threat quarterback, and he is really fast.
His FAKE 40 time, as you might imagine, is outstandingly so: he ran a 4.33 at Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp, which is probably generous but was also the fastest time anyone turned in at a loaded event. That was no fluke, either. At an early Scout combine he put up a 4.39, and was named the best QB in attendance. He even had a FAKE 100 time, a Free Press-reported 10.28 (now paywalled) that The Diag, sadly, debunked.
All of this is very impressive, and his coach is over the moon about the kid:
"Oh my god, Michigan is going to get an explosive, explosive quarterback," Taylor said. "He's a leader, he pushes his will to win on others. I've never seen a kid so competitive."
Here's another version of that quote:
''I don't think people realize how fast he is,'' Taylor said. ``He has so many gears. You have great quarterbacks who can kill you with their arm, and you have great running backs who can kill you with their speed. He has both. He's just spectacular, explosive.
``He's a game-changing kid. I'll guarantee you he will play on Sundays.''
And his athletic director chips in:
"He held everybody to such a high standard," said Vinnie Tozzi, Deerfield Beach's athletic director. "If people weren't giving 110 percent, he would not be satisfied. He would will his team to want to win."
Add Robinson to the growing list of Michigan recruits about whom those sorts of statements are uttered. Rodriguez is pushing his charges far harder than Carr did towards the end of his career—remember Alex Mitchell being begged to return to the team at a waddling 350?—and recruiting the sorts of players who will endure the Barwis long-term.
Other colleges came calling, and major ones: Robinson claimed 30 offers before narrowing it down, including Georgia, Ohio State, and large sections of the SEC. Michigan's main competition for Robinson was Florida, who offered early—they were actually the first—and held out the (possibly slightly fanciful) promise of a shot at quarterback. Other major offers came from teams recruiting him as a wide receiver or defensive back. Similarities to White are duly noted, and questions about his ability to stick at quarterback raised.
For its part, ESPN thinks he's got a real shot:
Robinson is just a flat out playmaker in every sense of the word and he will surprise you with his production in the passing game. If he were taller, there is no doubt he would be a serious QB prospect, but his overall skills will likely land him somewhere else. Has a quick, live arm and is very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. … He is scary when the initial play breaks down--has supreme quickness, burst and acceleration and has a knack for pulling a rabbit out of his hat when he gets in trouble. Throws extremely well on the move, especially to his right. … However, at times Robinson will try and make too much happen and force things a little. His height limits his vision and he will leave the pocket and may scramble too much at times because he knows he has a chance to make something happen if out of the pocket. When not in the shotgun, he struggles to see the whole field and work through progressions.
Michigan is his system, and the spring game's heavy reliance on the rollout should help Robinson segue well into collegiate quarterbacking despite that height thing. Both of Michigan's quarterbacks are relatively short, and Rodriguez will design around that. So: promise but only after some polish. His, numbers say the same thing. Allow myself to quote myself in mailbag post on this site:
But then you've got the passing stats:
Key Statistics... completed 100-of-231 passes for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior ...
There's a big, big gap between those numbers and Forcier's. That's a 43% completion rate. I know that high school passing is often a whole lot of bombing downfield (18 yards per completion!), but those numbers say "project" to me.
ESPN's point about throwing on the move is obvious in Robinson's highlight video, which if you do nothing else you should skip to the three minute mark and watch him do a bunch of crazy stuff that will get him killed in college but worked out okay in high school:
Robinson rolled out a lot, and seemed effective doing it, though the throws you see above were obviously interspersed with a fair number of turfed balls or, like, the hopeless long loopers that appear to be Robinson's default option when shorter options are covered and running lanes aren't apparent.
Oddly, Robinson's rushing yards weren't spectacular. He had only 538, which was fewer than Forcier had, though Forcier wasn't going up against big schools in Florida at Scripps Ranch. Does this indicate a Drew Tate Forcier-like tendency to run around in the backfield and then launch it deep? A couple of throws above and that yards per completion number indicate "yes", but he also breaks contain several times and takes off and those are just highlights so maybe he got sacked a lot for ridiculous yardage after running around like a headless chicken and I guess what I'm trying to say is we just don't know, dude.
We just have to go on the universal heavy panting about this guy's ability to outrun a cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Which, like, okay.
Why Pat White? Obvs.
Etc.: Signing day video.
Guru Reliability: High. Prominent player at a well-scouted high school and the rankings all land in the same area.
General Excitement Level: Slightly under high. Yes, he has huge upside but he is also a project and will require a lot of coaching up if he's to be effective at quarterback.
Projection: Even if Robinson doesn't pan out Michigan won't be moving him for at least two years and doesn't have the quarterback depth to redshirt anyone this year, so at the very least you'll see him reprise the Feagin role from last year's Minnesota game except with a definite possibility he'll throw. Going forward it'll be a battle between his electric athleticism and Forcier's polish, with Forcier having the obvious early edge because of his spring enrollment.
Site note: The number of people who have breached the 20-point barrier that puts people in special roles seems like enough to implement a first moderation step around here: n00bs can't start forum threads, though they can reply to them and comment on whatever. I'm a little worried this might cut off some useful stuff but the recent trend of people signing up and trolling needs reigning in. Consider it experimental.
Also, I'm watching a DVRed copy of the Brazil-USA game in about ten minutes, so content will be a little late this afternoon.
Nonwukaife. So… yeah. TX DE/LB Holmes Onwukaife tried to commit to Michigan a couple days ago but has apparently been denied. Earlier in the year the Travis Williams situation prompted some navel-gazing around these parts, with the upshot being Rodriguez's offer cannon giving me the heebie-jeebies, but this doesn't bother me that much.
Williams was told to wait for other guys to make decisions, basically, which means his offer was not actually an offer. Onwukaife saw two guys commit to his position, then was told the "barn is full; how about middle linebacker?" That's unavoidable, and Michigan tried to make room for him by offering to recruit him at another position.
What does bother me a little: 1) I wrote up a "Hello: Holmes Onwukaife" post which is now useless and 2) in the course of it I convinced myself I liked him a little better than Paskorz. C'est la vie.
Say what, son? Mike Brey, head coach of the fightin' flameouts at Notre Dame:
Notre Dame Mike Brey joked Tuesday that he knows of a surefire way to make certain the Fighting Irish don't have another midseason swoon like last season.
"If we could play in the Big Ten, maybe that would help us a little bit," he said.
Help you do what, exactly? Notre Dame was 1-2 against the Big Ten last year with the win against conference punching bag Indiana and losses against middle-of-the-pack Ohio State and eighth-place Penn State. Big Ten bashing is so ingrained these days that it gets invoked even when it makes zero sense.
Adventures in unwise bets. At Blogs With Balls I saw Orson Swindle pick up a slider, see that it had a tasteless slice of American cheese on it, panic, and then attempt to offload it on a cast of thousands. So I know this to be true:
We hate cheese. It’s not lactose intolerance, but rather a lifelong dislike so intense that our sister used to chase us with pieces of it. We can’t eat it on anything, and the smell of it cooking will drive us out of a room.
So this seems exceptionally unwise:
if Lane Kiffin is still coach at Tennessee in three years, we volunteer to eat a 6 oz piece of cheese on film to commemorate the occasion. The exact variety shall be left up to relevant experts, though really if Joel wants us to eat limburger so ripe it can hold up liquor stores at knifepoint after hotwiring a car, that’s what we’ll eat, even if we end up vomiting up a spleen over it. That’s how convinced we are that Kiffin will fail.
Three years? I, like the rest of the sports blogosphere without a closet full of dayglo orange, am convinced that Lane Kiffin is going to break John L Smith's records for hilarious failure, but even John L Smith lasted four years at State. Maybe if Kiffin was inheriting an unwrecked car, and maybe if he was at a place that had a quick trigger finger, this would be plausible, but, man… it's really hard to get fired in three years.*
*(I'd like Notre Dame fans to know that I excised a terribly funny Willingham-at-ND cheapshot here. Let's hold hands and get ice cream.)
Lacrosse fight. Black Shoe Diaries posted a thing about how Michigan was screwed if they took their dominant club lacrosse program varsity, which Varsity Blue responded to, which brought forth a BSD riposte, and, well, here we are. The main bone of contention revolves around if Brother Rice is freakin' awesome or not, and if Michigan can sustain a competitive lacrosse program on the backs of local talent.
I'm just, all, like… when has Michigan had trouble recruiting privileged kids from New York? People call Alice Lloyd "Lloyd Island," after all. If Michigan has a varsity lacrosse team they'll probably suck up their share of recruits and be competitive.
Etc.: The USA's World Cup bid has slashed 27 venues from its list, but Michigan Stadium is still standing; add Florida State to the teams that run the 4-3 under Greg Robinson is installing at Michigan.
1. Any discussion on MSM- or corporate-owned blogs, e.g. Yahoo! Sports' SB nation? How does the company interface? Do the bloggers get a salary? Do they sell their own ads or focus on material? Are they profitable? Who gets the money?*
As mentioned, I missed a good section of the panel, but I have talked to a number of SB Nation bloggers and they report back that they get very little money from SB Nation. This is probably because of their low traffic numbers. Even the busiest college football blogs I've seen over there—SBN makes all their traffic data public—are doing like 2-3k pageviews per day, and at current CPM rates offered by ad networks that's somewhere between 3 and 10 dollars. Still, even on the low end you'd probably be making $100 a month from that much traffic, and then you've got other opportunities like text link ads and so forth and so on. I highly doubt SBN is profitable at the moment, as they took venture capital in January.
OTOH, Fanhouse and TSB and the Yahoo blogs just pay people as 1099 contractors and take the burden of monetization upon themselves.
My biggest problem with the SBN model isn't the lack of pay, as most people haven't put themselves in a position where that's the main thing to worry about. Until you're getting five digits of traffic daily, your monetization strategy should be "ignore monetization," as the rewards aren't worth the time and traffic, in my experience, grows geometrically. No, my biggest issue with SBN is lock-in: they own the URLs and the (sweet, sweet) software, so if you do happen to make a name for yourself and do happen to build a worthwhile enterprise, it's their enterprise. Leaving it means you leave behind all that linkage and archived content and brand equity and start all over. Let me tell you as a person whose ghostly old blogspot blog occasionally wins google fights and gets linked on other blogs: this sucks. They've got all the leverage.
There is a hard example of this kind of suckage, too: when Matt Hinton went from Sunday Morning Quarterback to Dr. Saturday, SMQB up and died. Hinton (and I, and everyone else) lost his entire archive. No one who is career-serious about blogging should ever cede control of their URL or their archives to anyone else.
2. Software. Software? Software... Software! Software [insert punctuation]
The full suite of stuff I use to make this blog go:
- Drupal is my CMS of choice, but I couldn't tell you if it's better or worse than Joomla or Plone or whatever since I've never used them. If you're not a developer (half-assed in my case), go with Wordpress.
- The posts are written in Windows Live Writer, which is by far the best desktop blogging software. It's not even close, and I've tried a number of them. I'm pretty sure UMHoops and MVictors have switched to it as well—there are telltale drop shadows on their images now.
- WLW has obviated the need for 90% of simple photo-editing—which is half the reason it's so good—but when I need for more detail on a picture I use an ancient version of Photoshop. GIMP is a free alternative I've used but it sucks unless you're used to UNIX conventions.
- Bittorrent supplies the games I cut up for UFRs, and I discovered after an inexplicably long, horrible search that various "AimOne" products were the simplest way to slice out individual plays from those videos. I watch the games in Media Player Classic, which has the best hop-ahead-hop-back hotkeys and convenient screenshot-grabbing abilities.
3. What's a click? What's a read? What kind of read generates revenue for advertisers? You say 2 M pageviews, but how do you check for bots, etc.? Anybody getting themselves reviewed? Web analytics, bler?
There are three main metrics simple enough to have passed into the general consciousness. They are:
- Pageviews. Hit F5. You've given me a pageview, and somewhere between a tenth and a half of a penny.
- Visits. You did not increment the visits, however, and won't do so until you visit again in at least 30 minutes. (I think. It may be less depending on who's tracking it.)
- Uniques. You certainly didn't increment uniques, and won't do so for a month.
4. Out-of-Blog Experiences: how do you translate 2 million blog readers into an active community? What kind of events work? Anything that generates revenue? Anyone have a successful "conference" of readers yet?
Well, 1) that's not two million readers. If I had two million readers I would currently be dictating this to my Wednesday eunuch whilst the most comely of my harem fed me pre-peeled grapes. Monthly uniques around here, as calculated traditionally, are around 100k, and Quantcast thinks about half of these are duplicates, so on average about 50k people check out the blog at least once in a given month. It's been dropping as the hard offseason hits, as per usual.
I am not aware of any successful reader conference in the sports blog world. MGoBlog had a spring game tailgate that featured about 10 people standing around freezing their asses off, though, and that was declared a success because no one got throttled.
As far as revenue: an active community certainly helps with pageviews. Since I moved from Blogger to Drupal and added the diaries and message board pageviews per visit have gone up about 30%. The goal there was to leverage (and focus) the community, though, and the pageviews were just an ancillary—though expected—side benefit.
5. Blog-to-Print: Who's exploring? Case stories? Does it translate? Is it worth it?
A few bloggers have published books, most prominently Will Leitch, a couple of the KSK guys, Orson Swindle, and Free Darko. Since none of those people are me I can't tell you how well they've done. More personally, Maple Street Press has been deploying bloggers to write an ever-expanding set of season preview magazines of which HTTV was the second variety to be published. They appear to be profitable.
One thing I've been considering is a Simmons-esque repackaging of blog content into a book heavy on annotations and explanations from the cold, hard distance of time. With e-publishing, finding the time to do such a thing is the main barrier there.
6. Web Sponsorship -- what's the value for the advertiser?
I'm not an ad guy, but my intuition: if we're talking about display ads like MGoBlog currently sports, the main value is in branding. It's the same sort of stuff that causes Coke to carpet-bomb the Super Bowl and the like. Clicks are nice but by this point are sort of peripheral to the cause. If we're talking about big takeovers like Gawker's successfully deployed, that's much the same thing only far less ignorable. It's all about getting your message in front of a viewer.
If you're talking about serious sponsorship, where one brand becomes a sort of flagship "brought to you by" thing, there I think the corporation is trying to leverage the positive associations readers have with a blog. As a consumer it's pretty easy to be dismissive of the Weed Eater Bowl but considerably harder when the Weed Eater guys are putting money on the table to keep the one guy who you really like up and going. It's one thing to buy space via which to distract a reader from his goal—most of the time the ads on this blog are a necessary evil of minor interest to the reader—and another entirely to buy a small portion of the reader's loyalty by allowing the blogger in question to go (or stay) full time.
I haven't seen any examples of this sort of thing AFAIK, but assume that it's coming. The catch is that it's the internet and certain people who don't like the opinions purveyed by your sponsorship or advertisement might not appreciate it. A brand sponsoring this here blog would have to consider what an Ohio State fan would take from it. The Maker's Mark kerfuffle is a good example of this: I just won't buy it now, no matter how stupid and irrational that is.