Since Brady Hoke was named head coach last Wednesday, a number of articles have been published lauding his ability as a recruiter. Since he was a position coach in his time at Michigan and recruiting data that far back is tough to come by, I'll look only at his time as a head coach, first at Ball State, then SDSU.
It should be noted that Rivals rankings get pretty fuzzy down in the depths. When they're all sleepers, performance matters more than rankings.
Previous Year Record: 6-6 (4-4 MAC)
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: 11th MAC (13 teams)
When Hoke arrived at Ball State, the Cardinals were coming off a .500 season under Bill Lynch - whom you may recognize as Indiana's recently-fired head man. He signed 19 prospects in February 2003, all of them 2-star prospects. That was only good for 11th in the 13-team conference, though some schools just had a greater number of equally regarded prospects (Eastern and Western Michigans with 21, Buffalo with 24, and Kent State with 30). Temple led the conference with a 4-star commit and four 3-star commits, but they were on their way out of the Big East. Bowling Green, off Urban Meyer's final year, signed a quartet of 3-star prospects.
It's unfair to hold Hoke's first class against him, especially since he had few scholarships to give out. Among schools that were not leaving a BCS conference or led by Urban Meyer, he was solidly middle-of-the-pack.
Previous Year Record: 4-8 (3-5 MAC)
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: t-5th MAC (13 teams)
Despite a big step back on the field, Hoke was able to move forward in recruiting. He signed a big class of 26 prospects, all of them 2-stars to Rivals - and in the first year of the "RR" rating, four 5.2 prospects, a 5.1, and a pair of 5.0s, with the rest receiving no mark. The Cardinals were in a 6-way tie for 5th in the conference, with a number of other schools that signed varying numbers of 2-star guys. Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Bowling Green, and Temple were ahead of the pack.
Though it was big jump in the rankings, this class was only a marginal improvement in reality. The Cardinals signed more prospects than the previous year, and Rivals changed their methodology slightly.
Previous Year Record: 2-9 (2-6 MAC)
Average Rating: 2.00 Stars
Rivals Ranking: t-8th MAC (13 teams)
As Ball State's record on the field continued to decline (despite threde Cardinals going in the following spring's NFL Draft), the recruiting maintained status quo. Though BSU's overall ranking was 8th in the MAC, it was a five-way tie for second-to-last. Once again, every prospect they signed was given two stars, with about half receiving the lowest RR rating possible: 4.9.
However, some of the members of this class went on to outperform their recruiting rankings. Offensive lineman Robert Brewster would go on to become a 3rd round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2009 (He is no longer listed on the Cowboys' roster). Wideout Dante Love led the nation in receiving yards in 2008 before suffering a spinal injury in the fourth game of the season.
Previous Year Record: 4-7 (4-4 MAC)
Average Rating: 2.13 Stars
Rivals Ranking: 3rd MAC (13 teams)
His fourth recruiting class (third full class) at Ball State saw Brady Hoke land his first three 3-star prospects. Quarterback Nate Davis was the headliner. He would go on to lead the Cardinals to a near-comeback in Michigan Stadium as a true freshman and enter the NFL Draft after just three seasons in Muncie. He was a 5th-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Safety Terrell Johnson and defensive end Justin Woodard were the other 3-star prospects.
Yet again, Ball State's recruiting improved despite stagnation on the field.
Previous Year Record: 5-7 (5-3 MAC)
Average Rating: 2.04
Rivals Ranking: 4th MAC (12 teams)
This class was yet again close to the best in the conference. Two 3-star prospects signed with the Cardinals - running back Frank Edmonds and defensive tackle Renee Perry. This class also brought the first junior college transfer to Ball State in the Brady Hoke era, linebacker Cedric Rainey.
The Cardinals maintained status quo with this class - though the status quo had improved slightly since Hoke's first year in Muncie.
Previous Year Record: 7-6 (5-2 MAC, co-Division Champs)
Average Rating: 2.10
Rivals Ranking: 9th MAC (13 teams)
A huge step forward on the field for Ball State didn't make much of a difference in recruiting. The MAC signed more 3-star prospects than any of the past years, which is probably due to more 3-stars in Rivals's pool rather than an uptick in conference recruiting.
Ball State once again signed a pair of 3-stars, wideout Briggs Orsbon and quarterback Kelly Page. Neither has yet made an impact on the depth chart.
2009 - Ball State
Previous Year Record: 12-2 (8-0 MAC, lost Championship Game)
Average Rating: 2.13
Rivals Ranking: t-9th MAC (3 teams)
I won't spend too much time on this class since Hoke left Ball State in December. There was plenty of time for replacement Stan Parrish to put his own mark on the class. The Cardinals signed three 3-star prospects: tight end Jacob Green, quarterback Aaron Mershman, and running back Eric Williams.
2009 - San Diego State
Previous Year Record: 2-10 (1-7 Mountain West)
Average Rating: 2.10
Rivals Rankings: 8th MWC (9 teams)
Like his first class at Ball State, this can't be fully held against Hoke. Chuck Long cratered the Aztecs the previous year, though he did pull in the conference's 2nd-best 2008 class (behind only Utah).
Hoke's first hybrid class in San Diego contained four 3-star prospects: cornerback Nat Berhe, safety Eric Pinkins, and running backs Anthony Miller and Ronnie Hillman. Hillman was SDSU's leading rusher in 2010 after redshirting 2009. Berhe played each of the past two seasons, while the other two redshirted after getting playing time as true freshmen.
The Aztecs also brought in one junior college transfer, defensive back Larry Parker.
Previous Year Record: 4-8 (2-6 Mountain West)
Average Rating: 2.63
Rivals Ranking: 5th MWC (9 teams)
The Aztecs showed incremental improvement in Hoke's first year in San Diego, and he followed it up with his best recruiting class to date. Utah, BYU, TCU, and Colorado State finished with better recruiting classes (per Rivals) than SDSU, and other than Colorado State, all had exceptional seasons.
Hoke signed the first 4-star prospect of his head coaching career, landing JUCO defensive end Perry Jackson, along with 15(!) 3-star prospects. This class was JUCO-heavy with six transfers from schools within California. Maybe Hoke had a feeling it would be his last year in San Diego, and wanted to grab some guys who would be able to play immediately.
2011 - San Diego State
Previous Year Record: 9-4 (5-3 Mountain West)
Average Rating: 2.17
Rivals Ranking: 5th MWC (9 teams)
Nobody has committed to SDSU since Hoke left, so all the commits should be accountable to him (or his assistants). The Aztecs have slipped slightly from last year's recruiting class, though instability has certainly not helped matters.
Obviously we don't know how Brady Hoke is going to recruit at Michigan, either to close out the 2011 class or going forward. What we do know is that Michigan traditionally recruits as well as just about anybody in the conference, and Hoke has multiple Big Ten Championship rings and a National Championship ring that he earned here at Michigan. Those are bound to make a bigger difference recruiting here than at any other school.
Old school. Wolverine Historian's putting out a bunch of old Michigan Replay episodes. Here's 1989 Illinois:
The music was not yet in place, unfortunately.
Dolla dolla bill ya'll. Greg Mattison's compensation package isn't public yet but Brandon pops up in an article about pro assistants moving back to college and he's quoted thusly:
Michigan AD Dave Brandon says he's "reasonably sure" Mattison's deal "will surpass anything we've done in the past" for a football assistant.
Step one in Pay That Man His Money has been accomplished, with Beyonce or equivalent hopefully on deck.
Remain calm. Do not be alarmed. Mike DeBord has moved to the Bears, where he is the TE coach, and this guy from the local Tribune made ominous noises on twitter a few days ago:
League source told me #Bears TE coach Mike DeBord's name had been linked to Michigan, where he coached in 2 separate stints.
There's a long way from being "linked" to Michigan and actually employed there, especially when Michigan has assembled its full complement of offensive assistants and still needs two guys on defense. DeBord's never coached anything but OL and TE and Michigan's already got those spots filled.
File under Hoke positives. Hoke's making the rounds on the high school coach rubber chicken circuit and picking up quotes like this:
"Having been here at this conference before, and seeing the previous coaches, you can definitely feel there's a leadership vibe there (with Hoke) that will relate to the hard-working people of Michigan, and I think that message of wanting the Michigan kid is a big thing for the coaches."
Hoke apparently returned his M-issue Blackberry and asked for a phone with one big button on it. People are eating this up. Also:
I thought Rodriguez was a very good coach, an offensive genius. I think it will be different where Brady will recruit Michigan harder and not just go to Florida and California (like Rodriguez), so I think he and Dantonio will have a good battle for a lot of our good kids in Michigan.
Except Our Helmets Have Wings points out that Rodriguez's classes were more Midwest-oriented than his predecessor's. A slight downgrade in numbers from Michigan (due in large part to "it hurts my heart" guy at Renaissance, now fired, and "guy who lives with Gholston" guy at Southeastern, now employed at Michigan State) was offset by Michigan hitting Ohio hard. That probably wasn't a positive—Michigan was not going head to head with OSU for many of those guys. Under Carr their national net brought in better classes than Rodriguez's boatload of okay Ohio recruits.
But it doesn't matter. What matters is what high school coaches think, and they think Brady Hoke is the bee's knees. Michigan had already established a lead for three of the top five players in the state (Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson of Cass and James Ross of OLSM), seems to be in the top two with Dan O'Brien, and should acquire Chris Wormley out of Toledo. Bring those in and that meme is established in the same way Rodriguez Ignores Michigan got started. This is fierce pragmatist talk here: by throwing Rodriguez overboard now the next guy gets a PR boon.
Let the reassurance wash over you. Here's an interview with Mattison:
If you are saying "oh thank God" after watching that you are not alone.
Quarterback future indicated. Rutgers QB Tom Savage is transferring, but the school isn't allowing him to be released to… um… anywhere he wants to go:
…former high school All-American quarterback Tom Savage, who is transferring from Rutgers, has been denied permission to speak to Miami and is appealing the decision, his father said Sunday.
Savage Sr. said his son learned Saturday that Rutgers will not allow him to speak with UM, UF, FSU or Michigan. Rutgers did not give him a reason.
There's no reason to bar him from talking to any of those schools since none of them are future Rutgers opponents*. When PSU did the same thing to Robert Bolden they managed to patch up their differences, but Savage's dad is looking for a lawyer. That's not a marriage that can be saved, so refusing to allow Savage to talk to other schools just seems spiteful.
It's likely moot given Michigan's QB situation—Savage isn't likely to transfer into a spot where he won't start in two years and has to fight with Devin Gardner after that. But it does provide an indication of where QB recruiting is going. Savage is a prototypical pocket statue. They're going after a "dual threat" sort out of Texas, but a dual threat sort who has 400 yards rushing and is currently committed to Purdue. I hope we get him solely for the irony.
*[Miami is, but in 2018. Savage will be long gone by then.]
Michigan director of football operations Scott Draper has resigned. School spokesman Dave Ablauf said Saturday that Draper stepped down to accept another position.
With Brad Labadie and Judy Van Horn already out the door, Ann Vollano is the last one standing. She must feel like she's 80 minutes into a Final Destination movie. Sidenote: if you're wondering which side carries more blame, Van Horn got a similar job at South Carolina. Labadie and presumably Draper won't sniff an athletic department again.
Etc.: Back in Tom Harmon's day the threat of a transfer loomed… a transfer to Tulane. Long profile on Brock Mealer from David Mayo avoids stating any of David Mayo's opinions and is therefore readable.
[Snare-Tom!] WEEEEEEEEEE WEEEEOOOOOOO WEEEEOOOOOOoooooh
Once upon a time you said our team looked fine.
We'd score points on dime with Denard in his prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, we're bound to fall."
You thought they were all kiddin' you?
We used to laugh about, the very concept of Hoke bailing us out.
Now we don't talk so loud. Now we don't seem so proud,
About having to be scrounging around, for our next meal.
How Does It Feel?
When last we met, it was January 9, Rich Rodriguez had been let go, Harbaugh was off to the NFL, and we were left hoping for one of those things like when the AD gets back from a sailing trip to pilfer a man who'd turned down Alabama. Those of us who never really clean out our Bookmarks found the link to Flight Tracker right where we left it and started doing the digital stalker thing. Two days later, Michigan named Brady Hoke the 19th head coach of the Michigan Wolverines varsity football team. Nobody quite knew how to process this hire, especially the kind of folks who frequent this place, so I guess everyone's therapists suggested catharsis by Diary. Below is a sampling of some of the different types of responses. They're ordered in my opinion of their usefulness (this is a matter of taste), and in all cases, the diaries are better than my portraits of them.
Things of General Use:
If you're picky about your diary content, these are the ones you might like.
- "How do I ever explain the Hoke hire to my kids?" by bronxblue
- "I'd like a short review of every game Hoke has coached against a BCS team ever kthx," by CRex
- "Let's have a levelheaded review of the upsides and downsides of Hoke hire," by OregonWolverine
"I wonder what Hunter S. Thompson would say about all this?" by jhackney (plus I loved the Hokemania pic:
- "This isn't about us, but about people like the proprietor of Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork, a sidewalk t-shirt vendor, and MGoBlog's server," by bronxblue
- "When RR games were bad, they were historically, epically bad," by Brady2Terrell
- "Now's a good time to revisit this blog's original take on the RR hire," by stubob
Shared Thought Loops:
There were plenty more where these came from. They're conversation starters. Click if you agree, or if you disagree and need to say so in the comments.
- "Let's give Brady a big Michigan hug because families stick together you guys," by MrWoodson
- "Changing coaches like underwear is okay because everyone but Mack Brown wins in their first 4 years anyway," by Wereverine
please kthx," by 3rdGenerationBlue
- "I'm sorry – I can't get that excited over this Hoke guy, but I'm rootin' nonetheless," by OregonWolverine
- "This diary really isn't about why we should have hired Bob Stoops," by ish
- "All we are sayin', is give Hoke a chance. All we are saaaaayin'…," by Lordfoul
- "Here's four really trite reasons to be cool with this hire. And in college football, trite works," by michiganfanforlife
- "Brandon et al. are probably better at this than we are," by JeepinBen
- "We tried change, and it sucked, but a return to the norm is a return to mediocrity," by Big Bird
- "The Hoke hire makes a lot of sense, if Dave Brandon was in a frat," by sammylittle
- "It wasn't going to happen under Rich Rod anyway," by Blazefire
Someone Had to Say It:
Forget analysis entirely, and go with your gut feeling. Your gut is saying:
"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
by Flyin' Blue
." by THE_KNOWLEDGE
- "FUDGE! FUdge clock asp Fuuuuu balls ship cocker spaniel dam asp hit bite hole fockahhackaloogie Shrew Darp Fudge!" by BlueSeoul
So ends Post-Bo-Era Coaching Search II. If you want a recap of how emo things got, due51 took a canvas of headlines. To summarize the consensus view, Rich Rodriguez's offenses were great but his defenses were doom-worthy. As for Coach Hoke, he's not the glamour hire that brings the kind of recruiting windfall that accompanies such folk, but he's a good cushion for the parts that were rubbed raw the last few years. My guess is it's a long way to Oxford Town from here. For 2011 benchmarks, I say "Blowin' in the Wind," but West Texas Blue thinks it's more like Notre Dame 2010 and 8-5.
Hope That the Roof Stays On
Hoke takes over a program that was just two wins behind that Rich Rod inherited, and is probably in much better shape for talent, though much further from competing.
By the end of this year you were probably (not) saying to yourself "W.T.F.W.C.W.T.A.T.Y.?" I know, right, what the F, why couldn't we tackle anybody this year? Well, maizeandconfused has the answers in this Diary of the Week-winning look at every tackle attempt made by a Wolverine in 2010. Skipping to the efficiency chart:
FTR, this is bad. Read the man's diary, and give him a medal while you're at it for suffering through the worst defense in Michigan history to bring this to you. Only bad thing I can say about it is he uses "gritty" for Vinopal without mentioning David Eckstein.
Also in Reasons Why 2010 Can Bite Me: Special Teams. This is why msoccer10* is so happy we have a special teams coach now. So is justingoblue, who found some numbers for new Michigan ST coach Dan Ferrigno dating back to 1999 with Cal.
* in case you asked: No. 10 on Michigan's men's soccer team is Fabio Pereira Villas Boas, a freshman midfielder from Brazil. For the ladies it's Meaghan Hennessey. I have no idea if that's what he's referencing.
The good folk of the MGoBlogosphere have also started getting into the new offense, with eyes of course fixated on Denard and whether Borges will be able to properly deploy our new weapon of mass dilithium. Auburn blog Wardamntailgate.com did a 2004 review of the Borges offense shared by snoopblue. Resident coach steve sharik says he doubts we'll be a spread option offense, for about (one third of) the same reason Rich Rodriguez didn't run a pro-style offense in 2008.
Gonna Change My Way of Thinking
Who was that guy who was sneaking into Michigan Stadium every night for a year and practicing in the bare hopes of one day being part of the Michigan football team? This guy, right here:
If you think you love Michigan football, you've got nothing on backup (to the backup to the backup) quarterback Jack Kennedy. Walk-ons often have stories of bewildering allegiance to their teams but having snuck into Michigan Stadium a few times in my day I know a.) how not easy this is, and b.) how cool it must feel. Sharing a name with a president is now the second-coolest thing you know about Kennedy.
Meanwhile, that moment when (again) it seemed like Les Miles was the money bet for Michigan's head coach elicited a couple treatises on over-signing in FBS. The first, from remdies, is a pretty good rundown of the ethical problem it creates. The second, from mejunglechop investigates whether this can be applied to LSU under Miles. Answer is yes.
Oh, and I feel bad for putting this way down here… Wait…I know..
Hoops fans – stop scrolling & look here!
Average Star Ranking by Year
DeuceInTheDeuce gave Beilein a job performance evaluation based on three criteria:
- Academic progress rate
The conclusion: keep him.
In etc., erik_t thinks there's evidence that the layoff makes bowl games sloppy in the first quarter (reason for playoff? /Wetzel). BeileinBuddy tries to construct a Big Ten hockey conference. And MGoBorracho is even more obsessed with the Alaska-Fairbanks Space Bear than you are. Unfortunately he's not the most obsessed person in the world with Ice Bear; that honor goes to 2-and-a-half-year-old Isabella May of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who has apparently asked daddy to play that video on YouTube 11,847 times. Congratulations Isabella; this one's for you:
Other Guys Quoting Bob Dylan This Week:
What happens when you leave Dylan's collected works on random play while writing a dear diary:
: Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts. Karl Marx has got ya by the throat, Henry Kissinger’s got you tied up in knots. When you gonna wake up, when you gonna wake up? When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?
: Well, I’m tired of talking, I’m tired of trying to explain. My attempts to please you were all in vain. Tomorrow night before the sun goes down, if I’m still among the living, I’ll be Dixie bound. I just don’t know what I’m gonna do. I was all right ’til I fell in love with you.
: I hate myself for lovin’ you and the weakness that it showed. You were just a painted face on a trip down Suicide Road. The stage was set, the lights went out all around the old hotel. I hate myself for lovin’ you and I’m glad the curtain fell.
: While some on principles baptized, to strict party platform ties, social clubs in drag disguise, outsiders they can freely criticize, tell nothing except who to idolize, and then say God bless him (except, actually, the opposite of that).
: You say you’re lookin’ for someone who will promise never to part, someone to close his eyes for you, someone to close his heart. Someone who will die for you an’ more. But it ain’t me, babe. No, no, no, it ain’t me, babe. It ain’t me you’re lookin’ for, babe.
: Look out kid, they keep it all hid. Better jump down a manhole, light yourself a candle. Don’t wear sandals. Try to avoid the scandals. Don’t wanna be a bum. You better chew gum. The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles.
This weekend was a huge success for Michigan, not only with the three commitments from K Matt Wile, DB Raymon Taylor, and DE Keith Heitzman, but with the other visitors as well. Here's what some of them had to say.
5'11", 170 lbs.
The interest from McClure came from his relationship with Brady Hoke at San Diego State. Now that Hoke was at a bigger program like Michigan, McClure was interested.
It was a great time. We met with all the coaches, saw the stadium, and hung out with the players. My host was Denard Robinson, which was pretty cool. He's like a celebrity there. Walking through the Big House was pretty cool, too.
Michigan's new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, has only been on campus for one weekend, but he's already polished off his recruiting tricks.
I talked with the defensive coordinator quite a bit. We talked scheme, and he knows his x's and o's. It was pretty cool to be able to talk with him. I also talked to coach Hoke about the school, tradition, and the opportunity to play early there.
Stefan has said he will decide and announce sometime this week. I would imagine distance might be a factor with him, and I wouldn't get too excited. While I think he had a good time, it's hard to pull kids out of California. I would guess he'll stay home and go with someone like Cal.
6'2", 240 lbs
Willingham is a four star that had been committed to Texas A&M, and decided recently to take a trip out to Michigan. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, he took a recent visit to Colorado the same weekend as current Michigan commit Kellen Jones. Kellen had an opportunity to tell Leilon why he chose Michigan, and what he liked about it. This weekend he got to see it for himself.
We got a chance to talk to all the coaches, and it was pretty cool to sit down with the defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis is my idol, so that was like a dream. They were just telling me how they would use me up there, ether inside or outside. I really liked it up there. I mean, the Big House speaks for itself, everything was great. We hung out with all the other recruits, and everybody was just having a good time.
Willingham does have one more visit scheduled to UCF, and says that he will announce on signing day.
The (Michigan) coaches know I'm going out to Central Florida, so that's fine. I'm decommitted from Texas A&M, too, so I'm not with them anymore.
However, don't be surprised if he decides to "come public" with his choice earlier than that. This visit put Michigan in the driver's seat, and then some.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Although he's from Glenville, Clark has always maintained that Michigan is high on his list. Before this visit Michigan was in his top three with MSU and UNC. I spoke to him briefly after his visit, and Michigan has definitely helped themselves with Clark.
He described the visit as, "excellent" and said that he will be announcing his decision on Friday the 28th. Clark is in the same category as Willingham right now. He will make his choice public soon, but Michigan has put themselves in the driver's seat with this visit.
- OL Chris Bryant is announcing on Friday. Likely between Michigan, Arizona, and Pitt. I like Michigan's chances.
- TE/LB Frank Clark is announcing Friday. Between Michigan, UNC, and MSU. I like Michigan's chances.
- LB Leilon Willingham may announce this week, but could wait until signing day. I like Michigan's chances.
- 4 Star TE Chris Barnett is visiting this weekend, the 28th.
- 4 Star DB Floyd Raven may visit Alabama this weekend instead of Michigan. We'll see what happens.
- RB Thomas Rawls may visit this weekend, and is announcing on the 31st. If he's qualified, I like Michigan's chances.
- DB Blake Countess may come back up for an unofficial visit to meet the new DC, and potentially the new DB coach if they have one in place.
- OL commit Tony Posada was in Ann Arbor this weekend, and the visit reassured him of his commitment to Michigan. Nothing to worry about there.
- DT Darian Cooper just got done with an official to Iowa. He tweeted that Michigan's new DC Greg Mattison promptly called him, and said he was, "very interesting." That could be something to watch if they go after him hard.
New Michigan commit(s), and this bad boy hits the front page. There's been tooooons of action since last rankings:
1-15-11 Michigan loses commitment from Jake Fisher. Illinois loses commitment from Carl Williams.
1-16-11 Indiana gains commitment from Bernard Taylor. Indiana loses commitment from Shafer Johnson.
1-17-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Ejuan Price. Notre Dame gains commitment from Chase Hounshell. Penn State gains commitment from Bill Belton. Illinois gains commitment from Eaton Spence.
1-18-11 Notre Dame loses commitment from Stephon Tuitt. Minnesota gains commitment from Steven Montgomery.
1-19-11 Notre Dame gains commitment from Stephon Tuitt. Michigan State gains commitment from Matthew Ramondo.
1-20-11 Penn State gains commitment from Deion Barnes. Minnesota loses commitment from Tamani Carter. Michigan gains commitment from Tamani Carter. Minnesota gains commitment from Joe Bjorklund. Nebraska gains commitment from Ameer Abdullah.
1-21-11 Indiana loses commitment from Jalen Schlachter. Michigan State gains commitment from Juwan Caesar.
1-22-11 Michigan gains commitments from Keith Heitzman, Raymon Taylor, and Matt Wile. Purdue gains commitment from Frankie Williams. Northwestern gains commitment from Jordan Perkins.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn 1 star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45, except JuCo players, who aren't included in the average).
Full data after the jump.
Extremely positive articles over the past week leave this as no surprise, but Michigan has gained a commitment from CA K Matt Wile following his official visit to Ann Arbor.
|NR K||2*, 5.3, NR K||2*, 73, #44 K|
Wile is a bit more under-the-radar than Michigan's previous few options at kicker; ESPN calls him the #44 kicker in the nation, while the other two services place him outside their "top kickers" rankings (Rivals ranks 20 and Scout only 11). ESPN on his game:
He has a field goal approach that is repeatable. The ball jumps off his foot and he has a smooth rhythm. He does need to finish down field more on his FG at times. There are times where he pivots and comes across his body slightly. His kick offs are solid for a high school kicker. He generally drives the ball into the endzone and gives his team good hang-time to run underneath his kicks... Matt should be able compete early in college.
So: reasonably strong leg, needs to refine technique to make sure his kicks are accurate. With excellent size (6-2, 200) he is also a big, athletic prospect who played several sports growing up. His coach talked up that leg strength to Sam Webb:
"I think he went to Northwestern camp this past summer and hit a 63 (-yarder) off the ground, and he did it again in San Antonio for the Army All American game just this two weeks ago. He hit a 58 off the ground. I've got some film of him putting kickoffs through the goalposts from the 40 off a 1-inch tee when he was a sophomore in high school."
He's been training in field goals without a tee (college-style) for the past two or three years, so the transition will hopefully be a smooth one. Wile kicked in the Army All-American Game, so he has been recognized by at least somebody as a top prospect:
Wile is a versatile player who could kick or punt equally well in college. He could see the field as a freshman due to his strong leg on kickoffs. Wile’s mechanics on field goals are picture-perfect, leading to consistent results.
All services mention that he's a candidate to punt at the next level as well (which is what he did in the Army Game), so as a senior or redshirt junior, he could replace Will Hagerup.
Rivals lists offers from Air Force, San Diego State, and Washington in addition to Michigan. Michigan's current staff offered him at SDSU, which makes sense as he's a local recruit for them. He also has a greyshirt offer from Washington.
He was planning to visit Nebraska next weekend ($, info in header), and he was likely to be offered by the Huskers at that time. However, the opportunity to be a 5th-generation(!) Michigan student was too much to pass up - although he hadn't planned to commit on the visit.
The Army website has junior stats:
Wile’s kickoffs ended in touchbacks an astounding 89 percent of the time in 2009, including four that went through the uprights. He also converted on 9 of his 12 field goal attempts, with a long of 48 yards. Wile also serves as his school’s punter, showing good consistency while averaging 42 yards per punt.
So there's that.
FAKE 40 TIME
Matt is a kicker, and therefore 40 times are irrelevant. I couldn't find one online anyway, though ESPN hints that he's good covering kickoffs. I give five FAKEs out of five.
Highlights (yes, kickers with highlight videos -- this is our world):
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan's pursuit of Wile shows that the coaching staff is not confident in Brendan Gibbons and Seth Broekhuizen going forward. This means that Wile is likely to start as a true freshman, and probably to be a four-year starter. However, if he can't beat out Gibbons or Broekhuizen as a freshman, he could redshirt then start for the following four years.
As a capable punter (mentioned above), he could also punt once Will Hagerup graduates. That means there's a possibility he punts as a senior or a redshirt junior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The kicker is here! Since this was a position of need, the spot was almost certain to be filled, so it's already been accounted for in the commitment breakdown. Michigan still needs a defensive tackle, a safety, and a quarterback.
Any unused spots will either go to newly emerging prospects, or be banked for the excellent midwest class of 2012.
Highland Park's Raymon Taylor made no secret early in the process that he was a Michigan fan, but when an offer from the Wolverines never materialized, he committed to Indiana. He received a Michigan offer in December, and on his official visit this weekend, committed to the Wolverines (per fellow commit Justice Hayes), for the third commitment in the last three days.
|3*, #49 CB||4*, 5.8, #14 Ath||3*, 77, #93 Ath|
The big recruiting sites have a wide, wide range of opinion on how good a player Taylor is, and even what position he'll play. The consensus had been that he's a corner, but running back is an option as well. With Michigan's options at slot receiver, I doubt that's where he's been recruited.
Rivals and ESPN say he's 5-10, while Scout gives him the extra inch at 5-11. They're pretty much in agreement on his weight, ranging from 167 to 175, so I'd say he's right in the 170-pound ballpark. Rivals's numbers (5-10, 167) are over a year old - from last year's Army Combine - so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he's grown a bit.
We'll start the evaluations with ESPN:
He is a feisty, tough prospect that we feel has the most upside to be a cornerback at the next level with experience as a return specialist as well. Is slightly undersized, but plays big. Likes to get up in the face of the DB [sic: they mean WR] and alter routes and releases. He has adequate hips, can mirror most receivers on double moves and shows good body control and balance. Can turn and run with speedy receivers. Shows burst out of his back pedal and shows very good closing quickness when driving on the ball in front of him. Has sound catch up speed and shows good acceleration when the ball is in the air. Has good leaping ability which helps compensate for his lack of ideal height, adjusts well to the ball in the air and has excellent ball skills. Is a playmaker with the ball in his hands and will get his fair share of picks and pass break-ups. Plays with a mean streak and great enthusiasm and is surprisingly effective in run support considering his size. Attacks the line when he reads run, generally wraps up when tackling and rarely misses open field tackles he should make. Has shown he will mix it up. Plays with a good motor and always seems to be around the ball. He shows a little stiffness through the hips when on offense more so that on defense. His size may limit his effectiveness to match-up versus bigger, stronger wide receivers. Taylor is a good prospect overall and his versatility provides value.
Scout gets information from the horse's mouth:
“I’m very aggressive and have great ball skills. I make plays and change games. But I want to get bigger and add more bulk and muscle.”
Despite his lack of size, he's described as a physical player with excellent ability to play the ball in the air. That could mean that bulking up a bit and playing free safety is an option.
As an Indiana decommit, he held a Hoosier offer - and in fact was one of the headliners of their class. According to Scout, he also held offers from Illinois, Pitt, and Iowa - where under-the-radar DBs become All-Americans.
An early commitment prevented him from racking up a huge offer list, but Rivals also credits him with a Wisconsin offer, in addition to Cincinnati and Toledo.
Scout lists his senior stats:
Raymon Taylor finished his senior season (4-3) with 48 tackles and five interceptions. He also played running back and wide receiver had around 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense.
ESPN also has junior and senior stats:
2010: Rushed for 879 yards and 13 touchdowns. Intercepted five passes. Division IV All-State selection... 2009: Caught 50 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns. Intercepted seven passes (two returned for touchdowns)...
Yay for Raymon.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout is the only recruiting site listing a 40 time for Taylor, crediting him with a 4.43. Although he's known as a very athletic defensive back, that's a truly elite time. I'll give it three FAKEs out of five. He's a sprinter as well, with a 6.94 60m dash.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
It's hard to even project a position for Taylor, much less how he'll perform once he gets on the field. With Michigan's recent avalanche of defensive backs, I think there's a good chance he ends up playing safety.
Since that's the case, a redshirt is mandatory, as he's pretty slight no matter what position he'll play, and Michigan now has enough players available to have the luxury of redshirting freshmen in the defensive backfield. After his redshirt year, he'll have a couple years to work into the lineup on special teams - including as a return man, where ESPN notes he has great ability.
By the time he leaves Ann Arbor, Taylor has the athleticism to be an NFL Draft pick and an All-Big Ten player if he's developed properly.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan needs MOAR DBs apparently. As noted above, I think Taylor could end up playing safety, which is a position of need for the class.
Since the class of 2011 is unlikely to completely fill up, Taylor's commitment isn't going to put a serious crunch on remaining players available. The only focus is filling the remaining positions of need, including the defensive line, quarterback, tight end, and linebacker.
OH TE/DE Keith Keitzman received an offer from Brady Hoke's staff last night, and wasted no time in committing to be the 12th member of Michigan's class of 2011. He is a Vanderbilt decommit.
|3*, #63 TE||3*, 5.5, NR DE||3*, 75, #152 DE|
The recruiting sites list him between 6-2 and 6-3, and between 220 and 237 pounds. I would guess that's 6-3 (the majority vote) and somewhere around 225 pounds. He was listed as big as 6-4, 240 in high school, but that's probably exaggeration. Let's get started with ESPN's evaluation:
Heitzman possesses solid size for a high school defensive end and should be able to add more good bulk as he physically develops and gets into a college weight program. He gets off the ball well. He can be a physical kid at the point of attack, but needs to be more consistent especially with his hands. He displays the ability to maintain some leverage and hold his ground... Needs to keep working on his recognition skills. As a pass rusher he displays the ability to get into the blocker with some leverage and create pressure with a bull rush. Needs to be more active with his weapons, develop his pass rush arsenal, and not attack the whole man. Heitzman is a solid defender who will flash some tools to be tough versus the run and pass.
That has the ring of a project recruit who has good potential, but needs to develop both physically and skill-wise before he'll be able to make a big impact on the field. As you can see in the picture below, he's still very skinny for a defensive lineman.
Opposing coaches gameplanned around him:
"Opposing coaches have told me that he has such a huge impact on both sides of the ball that they have game-planned around him," Davidson coach Brian White said.
Heitzman decommitted from Vanderbilt (he'd been wavering since Robbie Cladwell was fired), so obviously had an offer from the Commodores. His other offers are a host of MAC schools (Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, Miami (NTM), Ohio, and Toledo, and a few low-range Big Ten teams in Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana. One of the reasons he chose Vandy was an emphasis on academics, so Michigan makes sense for the kid.
At this time, allow to express a slight fear of a second-straight commit with a meager offer sheet. Say what you will about Rich Rodriguez's on-field product, but he generally recruited very well, with only a couple prospects per year worthy of the "sleeper" label. So far, Hoke's staff is 2-for-2 among commitments, with a few higher-rated commits jumping ship so far.
With the timeline they're working on, it's not a scary pattern quite yet, but keep an eye on this going forward.
There is precious little out there about Heitzman's exploits on the field, but he did well enough to be named 1st-Team All-State in Ohio's largest division at defensive end, ahead of a pair of Ohio State commits and Wisconsin-bound Jesse Hayes. All-Columbus Defensive Player of the Year honors.
He also played tight end in high school, and ran for a 2-point conversion in Hilliard-Davidson's state championship as a junior. He was the Central District's Defensive Player of the Year. [Ed-M: DGDestroys says we are bringing him in as a tight end.]
I'll try to dig up more stats on Heitzman for Fridan Night Lights.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists him at 4.9, a realistic time for a player of his size. None of the other sites list times, that I could find.
ScoutingOhio provides the highlights:
I couldn't find senior film.
PROJECTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Well, this is a guy who's probably a very long way from seeing the field as a defensive end. I wonder whether he might be brought in as a tight end, one of his high school positions and a major need for this class. On the other hand, Scout's position ranking could just be crazy.
For a guy his size, if he's a DE, a redshirt is guaranteed, especially given Michigan's depth (Van Bergen, Roh, Black, et al) at defensive end. In fact, I doubt he sees the field in any meaningful capacity - aside from an appearance or two on special teams - until his redshirt sophomore year, when Craig Roh ships off to the NFL. At that point, he'll shuffle into the rotation, but not challenge for a starting position until he's a redshirt junior, I think. First-Team All-Conference accolades are probably out of the question unless Michigan has discovered an extreme sleeper.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is loading up on defensive ends in this class, but as they're unlikely to run up against the scholarship limit, new players aren't taking spots away from anyone for the remainder of the class.
Michigan's coaches will continue to focus on defensive tackle, safety, quarterback, and tight end to finish out the class.
HOCKEYBEAR IS GO
|WHAT||Alaska @ Michigan|
|WHERE||Yost Ice Arena
Ann Arbor, MI
|WHEN||7:35 PM Fri/Sat|
|THE LINE||College hockey lines, junkie?|
|TELEVISION||Friday: FSD Plus
(ie, not TV)
Record. 10-8-4, 7-7-4 CCHA. The Nanooks have won two of their four shootouts and are one of a remarkable four teams sitting on a .500 conference record, give or take some shootout points. They're tied for fifth in the league with those teams, a tiny bit behind WMU.
In terms of goal differential, Alaska is +4 on the season and +1 against their CCHA schedule.
Previous meetings. Michigan split a pair in Fairbanks, losing 3-0 on Friday before rebounding with a 5-2 win on Saturday.
Dangermen. Goals have been hard to come by for Alaska. They're languishing at 50th (of 58) in scoring.
Andy Taranto, last year's CCHA freshman of the year, leads the team with seven goals. Four others follow with six. Freshman forward Cody Kunyk and junior defenseman Joe Sova lead the team with 16 points—0.72 per game. No one puts the fear of God into you, but a half-dozen players are at least okay at putting the puck into the net.
Defense and goalie and whatnot. The only entity to have seen time other than junior Scott Greenham has been Open Net. In 22 games Greenham's racked up a .926 save percentage and a 1.98 GAA—he, and the Nanook defense, are your answers to the question "how can a team scoring two goals a game be .500?"
Alaska is fifth in scoring defense at 2.14 goals allowed per game. Possibly heartening item: Ferris State was second before last weekend's series and Michigan doubled up their averages. They're now sixth.
Special teams. Your power plays per game:
|PP For / G||4.6||4.5|
|PP Ag / G||4.6||4.7|
Michigan lags ever so slightly. As to what happens when the specialty units get on the ice, Michigan's power play is mediocre (19.6%, 20th) but Alaska's is worse (15.8%, 38th). Michigan's penalty kill has been terrible (80.3%, 41st) and Alaska's mediocre (84%, 18th). This is a push.
Michigan Vs Those Guys
Scoring first highly recommended. It is always highly recommended but is even more so when you're playing a team with the profile of Alaska. This is also an opportunity for Michigan to jump on an opponent on Friday night—Alaska has traditionally been jet-lagged and horrible on Fridays, but much more competitive the next night.
Don't give up anything cheap. A team with issues scoring like Alaska is going to have a tough time against Michigan's deep and solid D corps/Hagelin unless there's a parade to the box or some of the guys in the bottom six/third pairing are turnover machines. Issue: turnover machines exist on those lines. Lee Moffie's +/- will be a bellwether.
Fire them from many places. Open shots from the point should come paired with traffic and should just be taken. Alaska's good defensively and any opportunity to chuck it at the net is a good one, especially when you've got the shooters at the point Michigan does.
The Big Picture
It's still too early to start poking the PWR in earnest, but that didn't stop the NCAA committee from making it slightly worse by going back to an old definition of what a "team under consideration" is. A few years ago it was anyone with an RPI of .500 or better. It was changed to the top 25 in RPI for a few years and now it's suddenly back to the old style, for whatever reason.
This ups the number of TUCs from 25 to 34 and slightly increases the stupidity of that category since now games against #1 are equivalent to games against #34. Before you had to be 25th to get that equality. Also it's ridiculous that six teams with an under .500 record are "under consideration" when the NCAA banned under .500 teams from getting at-large bids after Wisconsin managed that trick one year.
At this instant the change is a slight help to Michigan since it includes Michigan's 5-1-1 record against Ferris and MSU; they move up one slot to fifth in the revised rankings. Unfortunately, a quick glance at the individual comparisons suggests this is about as far as Michigan can move up. The PWR has morphed into a system that slightly alters RPI. Michigan is sixth but manages to make up a big difference in RPI with BC for stupid reasons; those may correct. Meanwhile, the top four all have massive advantages in that category that will be tough to overcome unless Michigan tears through the back half of its schedule. Even then it may take a collapse from teams at the top to snag a top seed.
It's much easier to envision a scenario where Michigan falls down the rankings; they're at the top of a tightly packed bunch. The difference between Michigan and #4 Denver is equal to the difference between Michigan and #16 RPI. Stumbles will see them give ground quickly.
Bonus: Michigan picked up another 2011 commit, a Travis Lynch from the USHL. He's got 13 points in 33 games and sounds like he's going to be a checker and penalty killer a la Scooter. If they can find one more scoring line type that would just about finish the class.
Tommy Tuberville, 1/11/2010:
"We're going to air it out," Tuberville said. "We're going to keep the Air Raid. I think it's something that Tech has hit upon that gives them that identity to recruit."
Rich Rodriguez, sometime in 2008:
“We’ll adapt. I like winning too much not to adapt a little bit to our personnel.”
Brady Hoke, 1/14/2011:
"I think you'd be remiss as a coach if you don't know your personnel, and you try to implement something that maybe you're not quite ready for. There's a way to grow to it. So we're not going to try to put any square pegs in round holes."
Midway through Rich Rodriguez's first season it had become clear that Michigan was spectacularly bad at football for the first time since the 60s, and the blame started to go around. A large portion of it was directed at Rodriguez shoehorning Michigan's pro-style personnel into the spread offense, and it was all dumb. Very dumb. I wrote a post explaining how dumb this was called "The Golden Age of Tin." In brief:
- Despite having NFL talent up and down the roster Michigan was about 70th in offense in 2007. All of that talent left.
- Michigan had moved to a zone running game two years before Rodriguez arrived and he changed very little on the line.
- Four of the five starters skill position starters were freshmen who had never played in a pro-style offense. (Brandon Minor would later return from injury/discontent/quasi-suspension and play pretty well.)
- The run-pass split was almost 50-50 a year after WVU ran 70% of the time.
- The quarterbacks were bad in any system.
A couple years later, Nick Sheridan is a grad assistant, a redshirt junior version of Steven Threet has a 18-16 TD-INT ratio for a 6-6 Arizona State team, and Michigan's spread offense is one halfway decent turnover margin/defense/kicker from being awesome. Rich Rodriguez did a lot of things wrong in his time in Ann Arbor, but installing the offense he'd been running for 20 years wasn't one of them.
Because of all the things he did do wrong, however,
he's in a sad car with sad child. Al Borges is now in charge of Denard Robinson, a bunch of slot receivers, tailbacks no one except Fred Jackson thinks much of, and… well… a pretty decent set of pro-style outside receivers, tight ends, and (probably) offensive linemen.
Borges is going to do the only thing he can do with this personnel: coach a pro-style offense with a vertical passing game. This is not going to be as good for Michigan as continuity would be, but the person to blame for that is the athletic director, or Rich Rodriguez, or some of the things Rich Rodriguez did wrong. Al Borges has not spent the last 20 years figuring out how to get mileage out of quarterbacks who double as drag racers in the offseason. He's spent it saying "no, I'm not Jeffery Tambor" and passing to open up the run.
Coincidentally, the best example of what happens when you replace a Rich Rodriguez-type coach with a more passing-oriented guy is when West Virginia replaced Rich Rodriguez with Jeff Mullen. Mullen was the QB coach responsible for turning Wake Forest into a miraculously effective offense through 2007 and arrived in Morgantown promising more balance in the Mountaineer offense. He got it:
Unsurprisingly, passes got less effective as they became more frequent. The thing that dropped WVU from a national title contender to just another top 25 team was that despite rushing less, rushes also got less effective.
If you're thinking Steve Slaton's exit for the NFL may have had something to do with that, replacement Noel Devine actually rushed for 6.3 YPC. What happened? Burgeoning Wolverine Star has a table of its own that highlights the severe drop in productivity from quarterback legs that started as soon as Rodriguez left. Pat White's rushes were exactly as frequent—down to a tenth of a percentage point—as they were in 2007 but his productivity dropped alarmingly. White averaged 6.7(!) YPC under Rodriguez and just 5 under Mullen.
While it's possible the schedule was tougher and the team weaker after Owen Schmitt and a few others graduated, Devine's numbers suggest the most likely explanation for that huge drop is that Mullen didn't know what the hell to do with White.
So. Michigan fans wishing to protect their soul-tingly-bits would do well to regard quotes like these from Borges as gentle untruths created for public perception:
"I've been doing this for 24 years. I'm no genius and I do not pretend to be one, but I have a hell of a lot of experience with a lot of different types of quarterbacks."
But when Borges goes on to compare Robinson to Michael Vick and what he's doing with the Eagles…
"They said Michael Vick couldn't be a West Coast-style quarterback, and he's one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. Why? Because they put him in situations to run and throw. Denard is 6-feet tall, like Michael Vick. He can run and he can throw and make things happen. If Michael Vick can do that with the Philadelphia Eagles, why can't Denard Robinson do that at Michigan?"
…he suggests that "a lot of different types of quarterback" boil down to guys running NFL offenses with various scrambling add-ons. This is not a fluke. Borges has an array of quotes along those lines. It's also not very realistic. Vick's long and winding journey to becoming a good NFL quarterback took ten years of intensive coaching. When he was three years out of high school (like Denard will be next year) he had a 9-7 TD-INT ratio; VT ran 74% of the time. Their offense was a grab-bag of spread 'n' shred mixed with pro-style that featured a heavy dose of option and even more "Mike Vick makes one read on seven-step drop and starts running." It was pretty effective, but it was even more run-heavy than Rodriguez's Pat White days and took the most outrageously athletic player in the last two decades to make it go.
I'm not sure Denard is quite that, and if we're talking about putting Denard in positions to run or pass that just sounds like a lot of rollouts. And here's the weird thing about Robinson: the guy hates running the ball when he's not explicitly directed to. When he got to the edge this year he invariably chose to throw even when it was third and three and there wasn't a guy within six yards of him.
run run run run run nooooooo okay [ninja stuff] wooooo
Maybe that's because Michigan's offense revolved around Denard running 25 times a game and he didn't want to put any more tread on his tires, but seriously, how many times did you scream "run!" at the TV or field last year?
Maybe this will work out. Maybe Michigan will run four verticals at opponents until their safeties scream for help, whereupon Denard will be able to enact one-read-and-scramble. It would be easier to imagine this happening with Braylon Edwards on the outside, but Michigan did have some success throwing deep in the bowl game and I'm guessing Denard's going to spend most of his offseason throwing fly routes.
But if it doesn't, there's no alternative. Coaches are old and crotchety and just are who they are. They have a very specific, gradually moving corpus of knowledge and when they deviate from that performance suffers. Borges is an effective coordinator with a certain sort of offense. Without it he's probably going to be a version of Jeff Mullen. This is no one's fault, really, just like it wasn't anyone's fault three years ago when Rich Rodriguez surveyed his offensive personnel and felt the crevasse beneath him inch open for the first time.
Tommy Tuberville, 12/27/2010:
"I still believe in running the football," he said. "More than what they did in the past. That's the biggest difference. We want to be a bit more physical and be able to run the ball, which will help throwing it down the field, too."
RIP, air raid. RIP, spread 'n' shred.
BONUS: we should put together a pool for when and where the first column approvingly citing Borges's ability to adapt relative to Rodriguez by comparing their first seasons shows up. Bonus points will be awarded for the most irritatingly shallow glossing over of the difference between junior Denard Robinson with seniors around him versus freshman Threetsheridammit surrounded by fellow freshmen.
DISCLAIMER SECTION: I expect these things next year: Denard is a better thrower, turnover margin is a lot better (fourth year running, that prediction), all yardage metrics drop, scoring drops slightly from 25th but is better distributed across the schedule, FEI plummets. Improvement from the defense and, god willing, kicker will mask a drop in offensive power.