Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
I'd love to get all up on my high horse about this undeniably douchy move by Thad Matta…
When Cameron Wright got off the phone with Ohio State men's basketball coach Thad Matta on Tuesday night, the junior guard from Benedictine knew he was not going to fulfill his dream of playing basketball for the Buckeyes. …
While recruits in football and basketball backing out of non-binding oral commitments isn't unusual, this wasn't a case of a kid changing his mind. Ever since OSU assistant John Groce, the primary recruiter for Wright, left to become the head coach at Ohio last June, Wright said contact from the Buckeyes had been sparse, and the call from Matta on Tuesday led to the final parting.
"I was definitely going to stick with Ohio State," said Wright.
…except I'm pretty sure Michigan did something subtler but similar with DeWayne Peace and Jordan Barnes, football recruits of yesteryear who decommitted in a fashion something less than voluntary. Peace had a conversation like this at some point:
Michigan: We'd like you to play defensive back.
Peace: Didn't I tell you I wanted to be a receiver?
Peace: Excuse me, I have to call Kansas.
Barnes, meanwhile, cited a wholesale lack of contact from the Michigan staff when he decommitted.* (He would later end up at Oklahoma State.) In both these cases Michigan didn't actually call up and say "you can't come here anymore," which makes their actions fractionally less douchy than those of Matta, but it's basically the same thing: whoops, can I have that scholarship back?
This might not be a trend yet, but it will be one soon, and then it will just be a fact of life. It's inevitable what with recruiting schedules moving so far forward, especially in basketball. Wright committed a year and a half ago(!). In the interim he went from highly touted to anonymous three-star. If you're a Michigan basketball fan you're probably thinking "I sort of wish Amaker had the balls to do that with Jerrett Smith," which assumes that Amaker would actually have replaced Smith with someone better but whatever. I feel you.
What's inevitable is also totally unfortunate, though. Wright's depressed final quote isn't going to be showing up in any annoying commercials starring violin-playing Asian soccer virtuosos:
"At the end of the day, it's all a business."
I thought the entire point was that it wasn't, in fact, a business. Upon this rests the entire near-fiction, not to mention the NCAA's tax-exempt status: that, in the end, the best interests of the student-athlete are paramount. That once you tell this Wright kid he can play basketball at Ohio State, he gets to unless he fails social studies six times or gets so high he can touch the sun.
As a fan I'd meet this news with two different emotions. One: hurray, it's more likely the team will be good. Two: boo, it's going to be harder to cheer for them when the ghost of Cameron Wright is sitting next to the walk-ons in a Cleveland State jersey. Everyone has a different balance there; mine slants heavily towards #2.
So it's good to be a fan of a university that did not actually run Jerrett Smith off, at least not before he got to campus. Smith's now a bench player at Grand Valley State after being booted for failing to meet standards set by Beilein. This also happened to Kendrick Price. Their removal from the team was not voluntary, but that seems fine as long as the standards are uniform and don't include things like "be useful on the court." Given the continued presence of Anthony Wright (before the Oklahoma game, at least), it's safe to say this isn't one of the standards.
Rodriguez's dance with the decommits hews closer to a line I'm uncomfortable with but still ends up on the right side of the line. If you don't think a kid can contribute or doesn't fit in your offense, it's best to tell them and let them make up their own mind. It's better to find out Michigan thinks you're a defensive back before signing day, after all, and unless you're being dishonest about that—which we'll never have any way of knowing—that's probably a net benefit. Peace is now a receiver at a place he'd rather be.
Barnes' case is murkier but there, too, Michigan let the guy make up his own mind. They helped along by making him feel unwanted, and while I'd prefer it if Michigan waited long enough to make sure they really wanted everyone they offered that kind of scrupulousness would put them behind the eight-ball, and as long as you don't actually yank the offer the kid's making a choice.
Do I have a larger point here? This is where the larger point goes. I don't know. I was just going to turn this into a UV bit and then it ended up pushing 1000 words, so you've read to the end and I should have a point.
I guess it's this: I don't want Michigan to be the sort of program that can pull what Matta just did. While I'm fine up to a point with the occasional moral compromise required to stay atop the shifting sands of Lemming-era recruiting, Rodriguez's tendency to shotgun offers out and let God sort 'em out later seems like a strategy that will lead to more uncomfortable situations not unlike a middle school dance: one party is desperately trying to extricate themselves from a situation they didn't think through before they checked the box that said "yes I like you."
*(I can no longer find a link for this, unfortunately. I have referenced it before, though. At the time of the decommit there was an Indy Star article that was pretty blunt about it.)
|Orland Park, Illinois - 6'6" 272
|Scout||4*, #10 OT, #135 overall|
|Rivals||4*, #18 OT, #221 overall|
|ESPN||77, #42 OT|
|Others||#171 to Takkle|
|Other Suitors||Notre Dame, Penn State, Miami|
|June commit article.|
|Notes||Little brother is an OL prospect in class of 2010.|
Michigan didn't need a huge offensive line class one year after taking six big uglies and graduating zero, but you never want fewer than three and you always want quality. Michigan picked up three four-stars: check. Michael Schofield was the first. Schofield holds the record for most unexpectedly annoying name to google because he shares a name with some character on "Prison Break," but the assembled intel follows. Warning: this stuff is always sparser for offensive linemen, whose skills remain arcane to all but a select few.
Schofield's rankings are all over the board, with ESPN saying "meh," Rivals saying "hey, pretty good," and Scout very enthusiastic indeed. Scout's rating was a huge late change, too, as when Schofield committed they had him an anonymous three star. Then Schofield attended a high school all star game in Hawaii (good choice, that) and seriously outperformed then five-star Morgan Moses($). Scout shot him up to the #10 tackle in the country.
College coaches didnt wait that long, as by June Schofield had picked up offers from Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Miami (That Miami), Oregon, and a dozen others.
Here's a backhanded compliment from Tom Lemming:
“He’s the first good catch for Michigan out of Chicago in some time,” recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. “In one or two years, he can really develop into an All-American. He has a lot of potential.” …
… it wasn’t his makeup [uh? –ed] that caught the attention of recruiters, rather it was his feet.
“When you watch him on film, he can really move,” Lemming said. “He can slide and mirror.”
Michigan's offensive scheme prizes agility in its linemen. This would seem to be a good fit, especially because this seems insane for a guy who's now 6'6", 275:
In his first two years at Sandburg, Schofield ran the 110 high hurdles for the Eagles’ track team, winning a conference title his freshman year and finishing second his sophomore season. He also moved up to the varsity team for the state tournament during his sophomore year, finishing sixth in sectionals.
“[College recruiters] like hearing he ran track his freshman and sophomore years,” said Sandburg football coach Dave Wierzal, who also coaches Schofield in track. “After his sophomore year, he continued to fill out and grew taller. He turned out to be really something to get excited about.”
Lemming also adds he has "perfect size" for left tackle.
While there has been some buzz that Quinton Washington could step right onto the field this fall*, this is Rodriguez on Schofield at the signing day press conference:
”Very aggresive, physical player. … He’ll grow into the type of player that we want. … The foundation that we’re building up front is key to our offense.”
That says redshirt. This Rivals AMP piece echoes the above, emphasizing his mobility, upside, and need to see a college strength and conditioning program:
Especially impressive when double team blocking or down blocking on the of tackle play. Could come out of his stance lower with more knee bend but does a great job of hand control. Really works his hands into the frame of the defender and doesn't allow defensive man to spin out of the block. Moves feet well and gets great knock back off the line of scrimmage. Runs well for a large lineman; gives effort downfield to get the extra block. Has even showed the ability to cover punts. Pass protection is sound; sets back and, as in the run game, has active hands in stopping and controlling the pass rusher. Has a tendency to over extend at times allowing defender the opportunity to go underneath.
Pretty positive and then… eh… 77. I think a large portion of the difference here is ESPN's tendency to fire and forget on a scouting report; it seems like there's a lot more movement on Rivals and Scout and Schofield was a guy who didn't start rising nationally until he hit the camp circuit hard in the summer between his junior and senior years. Both Rivals and Scout evaluations are based on tape and in-person sessions, with Rivals being the first to rate him highly and Scout coming around later; ESPN's ranking seems like it's based on old information.
In any case, Schofield is highly-rated by two of the three scouting services, seems a good fit for the offense, and has a lot of nice offers. The chance of success here is high.
Why Jeff Backus? Well, I dunno. There aren't many differences between the playing styles of offensive linemen that filter down to the layman's level. So that's just a shot in the dark, really.
Guru Reliability: Moderate; big spread in the rankings here.
General Excitement Level: As high as it gets for non-slam dunk offensive linemen. Schofield is a highly-rated kid with a lot of nice offers who seems to fit the offense precisely, but offensive linemen are hard to project.
Projection: Obvious redshirt and then a candidate to start at left tackle as a freshman; more realistically will probably have to wait until his sophomore year.
*(This is doubtful given the excellent depth on the interior created by Steve Schilling's move and Washington's lack of an early enrollment, but the possibility has been thrown out there. That gives an indication of readiness, if nothing else.)
PROTIP: Don't do a google image search for "burst cyst." Here's a kitten instead:
I'll be in therapy the rest of the day.
Uptick. Last weekend was a big one on the AAU circuit, and recent Michigan commitment Evan Smotrycz made a statement at the Pitt Hoop Jam. ESPN's Reggie Rankin highlighted Smotrycz among a number of elite players he scouted, offering praise bordering on the effusive:
This super skilled combination forward has all the tools on the offense end of the floor. He is a perfect fit for the offensive system he will play in at Michigan. Smotrycz is a terrific 3-point shooter with NBA range. He has a quick trigger and the size to shoot over smaller defenders with ease. Smotrycz runs the lane in transition and does a great job of stretching the defense with his ability to make shots. Making plays off the dribble is also strength of Smotrycz’s. He is a very good ball handler and does a great job of creating space with scoring dribble moves that include a step back pull up jumper going to his left. He would be perfect in pick and pop situations as well. His skill set doesn’t stop with his scoring he is also a very good passer. He can drive, draw and kick in transition or in the half court where he has the ability to pass with either hand.
At 6-foot-8, 200-pounds he’s a guy that moves very well, has great touch in the paint, but most importantly is a terrific shooter. His form is flawless and he finishes it off with a high release. The New Hampton (N.H.) School standout, who showed use of both hands around the basket, is capable of putting it on the decks for a few bounces and pulling up for jumpers as well.
NEBRR also quotes Hoopscoop's Clark Francis as "very intruiged" with Smotrycz, saying he projects as "more than just a good role player at the big time level." Everyone does say he needs to add strength, FWIW.
Maybe Beilein got on a player who was just about to blow up, as the kids say. A 6'9" small forward with diverse and sundry offensive skills sounds pretty freakin' good. ESPN's put him on their 150 watch list; it'll be interesting to see if the tourney springs him into Scout and Rivals' lists when they update. Rivals didn't actually have anyone there, BTW, so if Smotrycz ends up lower there than elsewhere that's probably why.
Elsewhere in basketball recruiting, I don't know if this guy knows anything specific about Trey Ziegler, Michigan's #1 remaining target in the 2010 class, but let's hope so:
Trey brings an impressive build to the guard position in which he operates. He might not look the part of a quick, agile guard, but he sure plays it. He had many defenders on their toes trying to cover him, and his ability to pull up for the jumper or drive the lane for the explosive dunk was something that almost seemed impossible to cover. He lacked hustle several times defensively, allowing breakaway layups from the opposition, but in his defense, did play all but two minutes of a 32 minute game Saturday afternoon. Although Michigan is the frontrunner for Zeigler now, he hasn’t yet committed and has left the door open for several Big East schools at this time.
There's also been an uptick in Detroit Country Day point guard Ray McCallum's interest in the Michigan program, though he still seems like a longshot. I'd be delighted to be 100% wrong about Beilein's recruiting chops.
Still 2010, but different. To the hockey class of that year: Jack Campbell is good. The USA U18 team just won the gold medal at the World Championships and Campbell's play is the talk of the tournament (even though the Russian goalie bizarrely made the all-tourney team despite a 5-0 thumping in the final). Western College Hockey:
I think the best thing you can say about a goalie is that his team won, and without him, they would have lost. In the semifinal against Canada, if the US is down by more than 1 goal midway through the third period, there is absolutely no chance they come back to win that game. Campbell made some great saves to keep his team in it long enough for the US powerplay to score a couple goals and steal the win.
Insert fervent prayer that the 2010 hockey class arrives on campus intact here. Campbell is establishing himself as possibly the top goalie in his draft class.
Not so fast on the not so fast. A curious report that included Michigan Stadium as one of a number of potential World Cup host sites was shot down by a second report playing Lee Corso. Now Lee Corso report has been Lee Corsoed:
"Anything we can do to support our region economically, we would very much like to do it," U-M athletic director Bill Martin said. "The timing of the event -- June, July -- would be perfect. But we'd have to build a platform up into the first 10 rows of seats to make the field wide enough."
I'm skeptical they'll actually get to host. There are 70 other potential sites, many of which wouldn't require that level of project. Erasing ten rows of seats might defeat the purpose of having such a huge stadium host, too. But there's a chance, and maybe they'd just do it for the meat-on-the-table aspect of having the biggest stadium in the country involved.
(HT: Michigan Sports Center.)
Forcier Forcier Forcier Forcier—A Snaaaaake! The Forcier "Weapon of Choice" video has been Walkenized. Ace for the win.
Speaking of Forciers, Rittenberg has more on the possible transfer of Jason back to Michigan. Apparently the "repeal" of the Mundy Rule that allowed graduated players to use their fifth year of eligibility somewhere else was something between a repeal and a, you know, non-repeal:
"Obviously, sports is going to end for me," Jason Forcier said. "You've got to accept the facts. But it doesn't change my passion for it. So if I can still be involved with it somehow, I feel like I can still participate.
"With the waiver, it would look good that I got into Michigan when I was an undergrad and I transferred to Stanford and did well there, graduated. They know it wouldn't be for a football issue."
So it appears the NCAA is making its decisions on a case-by-case basis now to prevent things like Florida pirating one of Utah's starting cornerbacks but allow transfers by players who have a legitimate academic reason to move.
Update 4/14: Linked to articles on MI CB Mylan Hicks, MI DE CJ Olaniyan, MN OL Seantrel Henderson, GA RB Mack Brown($), OH WR commit DJ Williamson, CA RB Dietrich Riley, SC RB Marcus Lattimore. Video of OH OL Andrew Donnal, MI QB Devin Gardner. Moved FL S Marvin Robinson to committed.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. FL S Marvin Robinson's commitment came to fruition, but really can we maybe go back to last week? That was a foregone conclusion and two unpleasant developments weren't: Caleb Lavey's commitment to Oklahoma State and Lo Wood coming back from his Notre Dame trip proclaiming M and ND to be tied. On with the show. But first, video fluff about M recruiting Florida:
So the week's big negative was the unexpected commitment of Lavey to Oklahoma State. Lavey's dad was an equipment manager under Bo, of course, and Lavey himself had visited Michigan recently, coming back with nice things to say. One Oklahoma State visit later he ends up committed there, and there goes what seemed like Michigan's best shot at a high-rated MLB. (Of course, that may have been projection based on Oklahoma/M offers, since he's not that highly rated at the moment.) They must have shown him the T. Boone Pickens Explosive Barbecue Circus Fountain.
- Klein Oak—home of Terrance Robinson—LB Luke Muncie committed to LSU as soon as he got an offer; he was just a name on the board.
- IN DE Blake Lueders doesn't have Michigan in his top six.
- No actual event behind this, but there hasn't been any mention of Michigan in the recruitment of PA RB Corey Brown for a while, and the premium sites aren't even tracking him. I've dropped him before he can officially drop us. Let's all storm off in a huff together.
Nothing out there that's free but you can infer from the title and header of this Rivals article ("Big Battle Brewing For Wood?") that I should probably drop the blue smiley from his profile after his Notre Dame visit. Wood maintains M and ND are equal at this point. I still think Michigan is in good shape here, because 1) usually a recruit is most enthusiastic about a school immediately after he visits and there's a fade afterwards, and 2) Miller and Robinson and Gallon and so forth should help push him to the good side.
But, still: before the weekend Wood was in the same category as Robinson; now he's not. Not a good development.
Highlight videos are rarely all that useful, but this latest on Devin Gardner is more interesting than most because all of the clips are from a single game:
That delivery is still funky, but results are results.
Maybe Yes Maybe No
Strange midweek internecine fight over the commitment status of DC LB Javarie Johnson, new to the board this week after he visited Michigan and picked up an offer($). Over the weekend Pitt-area scout guru Bob Lichtenfels was at some camp or combine or another and reported Johnson was a commit($) after talking to his coaches. Problem: Johnson denied it($), and continues denying it($), and will continue denying it until such time as it becomes unnecessary to.
So, what was this? Sometimes kids want to keep commitments under wraps for whatever reason; sometimes recruiting gurus screw up. I don't know 100% but I lean towards the latter in this case. Johnson is likely to have Michigan on his short list whenever he gets around to making one, but I wouldn't consider him a virtual commit a la Marvin Robinson.
Running Back Restack
Michigan has two committed and is looking for a third. It's not likely to be SC RB Marcus Lattimore even if he tentatively planned an official to Michigan. Lattimore came back from his Auburn visit with a glassy look in his eyes and a tendency to say "War Eagle" in response to any external stimulus, which latter I can tell you from personal experience is the true mark of an Auburn fan:
"This whole experience, I just felt it. You can't really explain it. My mom loves it, my stepdad loves it. You really just can't explain the feeling. I really didn't expect this much. I was just coming in to see the offense. They showed me that, and I met all these great people."
I was always skeptical that official visit would come off and am now more skeptical. However, Lattimore wants to announce on signing day or possibly at an All American game, I forget which, so he might remain uncommitted long enough to make it up during the fall. As mentioned: I am dubious.
Okay, probably shift your hopes. To who? Maybe CA RB Dietrich Riley:
Athlete Dietrich Riley (La Canada, Calif./Saint Francis) holds scholarship offers from Southern California, UCLA, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, Arizona State, Arizona, Washington and others.
The Wolverines could emerge as a major factor, though.
"I am looking forward to getting up there this summer and seeing what they are all about," Riley said. "It is a great program and a place I could see myself playing."
Riley also mentioned that he would like a shot on offense in college. Most programs want him as a defensive player. He worked out as a running back on Sunday.
AFAIK, Michigan regards him as a Minor-like running back. The talent us obviously there with those offers. Riley has been (and is probably still) regarded a USC lean, FWIW, but that's a positive development. Tom did an interview with Riley a couple months back if you'd like to revisit it.
And this is speculative, but to reiterate MGoBlog recruiting heuristic #3: message boards are always excessively positive about their chances with recruits, so a negative take—especially when it goes against the conventional wisdom—means something. So a board full of State fans who think MI RB Austin White, brother of two current Spartans and the son of alums, is headed somewhere other than State [edit: thread disappeared, unfortunately, but I swear it was there!] is worth noting.
Update: This doesn't have the breadth of the earlier thread, but here are a couple pessimistic grumbles about White from Spartan fans.
Things Are Awesome
Here's OH OL Andrew Donnal, who seems like a nice kid, saying various things are awesome:
CJ Olaniyan Is ENTHUSED
Not really. MI DE CJ Olaniyan on his spring game visit:
"It was pretty nice. I was kind of impressed with the freshman quarterback (Tate Forcier). There wasn't too much new, but the team looked better than they did last year."
Of course, he could just be a Michigan fan because you could ask anyone who attended the Spring Game their thoughts; 90% of them would paraphrase Olaniyan and the Wolverine Liberation Army would drunkenly slur something about unicorn bear propaganda.
"Nothing is a given out here on the field," he continued. "A perfect case is the Antonio Bass situation. Here is a kid that physically had everything. They are still ranting and raving about him at the Michigan complex. Unfortunately with no contact, this guy messed his knee up and caused some nerve damage. Well, it's over with. But you know what? I love that kid. I've known him for about five years, and what a standup kid. He dealt with the situation and he has continued to go on. He's going to graduate on time with a great degree from the University of Michigan. What character. What character! Those are the things that I stress with Seantrel, my son, or anybody. "
It's the hard offseason now, with nothing happening outside of recruiting until August. So it's meta time. Apologies to anyone who couldn't care less about this.
A couple weeks ago I was on John Bacon's show talking about the demise of the Ann Arbor News and its effect on me. I think I surprised Bacon and co-host Richard Deitsch (of SI!) by not dancing on its grave. To paraphrase myself, I said that one of my roles on this blog is as an aggregator of content and things that reduced the content I could aggregate were negatives. I am not in competition with the Ann Arbor News.
It's an odd situation. I'm not really in competition with anyone. I very rarely feel threatened by the presence of anyone else's content. Sometimes I feel guilty because I'm not covering basketball like UMHoops or Varsity Blue is pumping out bi-weekly recruiting updates instead of weekly ones. But when Evan Smotrycz commits and I've got to put together a googlestalk and UMHoops already has one up it's just time I can spend on other content. I'm just a guy.
I have the feeling that other people are in competition with me, and with Dylan and Tim (x2) and Paul and various others, that they resent the thriving Michigan blogosphere as a thing that reduces the need for their services. But I don't feel like I'm in competition with them. It's a strangely unbalanced situation. Their content helps me. Their lack of content helps me. Whatever happens, traffic goes up and my mom becomes incrementally less petrified at the career path I've chosen.
So I'm not put out, especially because—at least when it comes to sports—I still think the coming demise of the Ann Arbor News is considerably overplayed. The overlords of the new thing that's not a newspaper, except twice a week when it is, have stated they intend to cover Michigan football and basketball much like the News did, and they're thinking about hockey. Other sports will have to fend for themselves, I guess, but it's not like their existing coverage was extensive. The net change might be a couple fewer people at press conferences and slightly fewer links on mgolicious; it won't be the end of history.
Others disagree. Maize 'n' Brew took the opportunity to pen a dissertation-length post on the chaotic period we're entering. It's really long and thus hard to summarize in a pithy blockquote but let's try:
The current information distribution system (for college football at least) is set up in three tiers: The University (school, coaches and players) possess the information; the credentialed press gets the first crack at it; and the rest of us are left to sort through what reaches us. That credentialed access let the News into the room, to observe first person what was going on. They had the right to pepper Rodriguez, Beilein, Amaker and Carr with questions and receive answers, where bloggers do not. The system is still set up to allow nearly unfettered access to the print media. And in return it bears the responsibility of using that access to relay the information we all crave.
Certainly any person with a notepad or microphone can record the players' and coach's quotes and stick them up on a piece of paper. But the Ann Arbor News didn't do that. They didn't give us the canned quotes we see on the University's websites. They weren't under the employ of the University to give us a happy picture. They gave us perspective on what was said and how questions were answered. They asked tough questions on decisions and results. They could observe the reactions from coaches, gage responses first hand, and had the ability to ask the questions where we do not.
This isn't going to be much of a surprise, but I largely disagree with the above, and with much in the MnB post. A few paragraphs on Dave asserts that you can't find stories along the lines of "Player X was horrid or Coach Y blew his cool at an inopportune time" on Rivals or Scout, but when has a newspaper ever published an honest assessment of a player's performance? I'm not talking single-sentence 600 word columns written by provocateurs here, I'm talking something along the lines of UFR, if less obsessed: Left Guard X struggled in pass protection. Coach Y should have gone for it, here are the numbers that justify it. It's single sentence paragraph time:
This has never happened.
Maybe Scout and Rivals are incrementally more dependent on being in the good graces of the athletic department, but the differences in practice are small. The Ann Arbor News' academics investigation, if you want to consider that a positive and a thing the internet can't do, is a vast outlier in a sea of game recaps and press conference rephrasing. And it's hard to say that sort of thing will go away when the only other entity around that's doing much in the way of investigative work is Yahoo.
The information PLANTS CRAVE either comes directly from press conferences or random people on the internet these days. The press conferences will still exist, and coaches will still be asked about injuries and other tangible things and then blather away minutes of our lives with "We have held practices this spring." And every once in a while someone will provide an unwise snippet of an answer that will blow up into a media firestorm because everyone's gotten so damn boring there's nothing else to talk about.
Heck, Jim Carty's blog is taglined this:
Fulfillment of a legal dream or an overdue realization you can't spend your life asking football players the same questions indefinitely? Definitely a bit of both ...
99% of sports journalism as practiced by newspapers is repetitive, inefficient grunt work. Sports stories come in three flavors, as far as I can tell:
- This game happened in this way.
- This was said at a press conference.
- Player X is a nice young man.
There's a reason everyone wants a column, right?
As for "tough questions," they have little value. This isn't 1930 anymore and you can't hop on a bus with the baseball stars of the day and get unfettered access to their lives. You get packaging. You get this:
BHGP is running a contest to see if anyone can condense these 81 seconds into something more concise than "We have held practices this spring, and players have competed for positions in the offense." Just showing up at a press conference and asking about the head coaches' nepotism doesn't do anything constructive, especially when your tough question is coming from a position of ignorance relative to the person you're asking. Tough questions always boil down to "why did you lose?"
So what are we losing when the Ann Arbor News goes away? I don't think it will be much. Even in the extreme version of newspaper implosion where the Detroit News goes away and the Free Press is piloted by a skeleton crew you're still going to have people at these press conferences from Scout and Rivals and the Daily and at least one Detroit newspaper and AnnArbor.com asking the standard set of questions.
The demand for information about sports isn't going to disappear. If there's a void it'll get filled, possibly by this site if it continues to grow. In that case the only difference is going to be more questions about that damn formation where the slot receiver is covered up.
It's come down to this.
Mingo versus Macadangdang. Barkevious versus Iris. A man who spurned Michigan for LSU versus an actual recent alum. EDSBS vs MGoBlog. For the 2009 Name of the Year. I can't rightly tell you to vote one way or the other, because both are awesome. There are no real losers here, except Orson Swindle if Mingo loses. In that case he has to shave off all his chest hair and send me a parka made from it. (What will he do with the leftovers? Feed Africa.)
Vote. Vote well, and don't vote 7,000 times because that's not cool.
Weapon of choice. Ace Anbender assembled a highlight video of Tate Forcier's spring game exploits:
Needs more Christopher Walken; otherwise excellent work. Most impressive to me was Forcier's little sling to Moundros in the flat. He's got a guy in his face and needs to put the ball on the money for Moundros to get anything out of it; he puts it right where it needs to be and Moundros can rumble for eight or so yards. That sort of short-range precision will help the offense immensely; too many times last year simple short passes turned into disaster. See: backwards lateral against Notre Dame, etc etc etc.
(Headline reference for the sadly deprived.)
The evidence lies in piles all around us. One has merely to pick it up and provide a cursory examination. I'm calling fair use on this because it is awesome and unbelievable. Ohio State's scrimmaging and the offense has just driven for a score that brings them within one. And then($):
Then, on the final series of the scrimmage, Pryor was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty while jawing with defensive lineman Cameron Heyward with the offense poised to tie the game pending a point-after attempt. The penalty knocked the kick back to the 25-yard line, and Aaron Pettrey’s attempt sailed wide right to hand the defense a 56-55 victory.
So far in the brief, eventful career of Terrelle Pryor he's gotten in postgame near-riots after two high school basketball games, pioneered the drama-queen recruiting extension game, trash-talked Illinois fans, cried on the bench after blowing the Penn State game, and now he's taking unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for jawing at his own teammates in a scrimmage. Wheee!
Someone should start a Terrelle Pryor AK-47/Lint Roller Rampage Threat Level. You know, just in case.
DUDE: And you know Pryor has emotional problems!
WALTER: You mean, other than being a Buckeye?
DUDE: He's fragile, man! He's very fragile!
Lax bloggin'. It appears that Michigan swimming blog MGoSwim is no more; the registrations lapsed and domain tasters have replaced it with an ad-laced landing page featuring hotttt chicks…
…but there is another niche sport blog out there named in the classic "take MGoBlue and change it slightly" style: M Flow Blue, a blog dedicated to the very successful club lacrosse team. They're just getting ramped up; if you're interested in throwing little balls at high speeds I suggest you check them out.
Who is Jack Kennedy? One of the more mysterious mysteries of the spring game was the guy wearing 18 and playing quarterback. Despite being in a live-fire cannon fodder jersey, Jack Kennedy looked significantly better than nominal scholarship quarterback (and possessor of mad flow) David Cone. Surely this man must have a background? Eh… not so much.
Kennedy is apparently a 6 foot, 170 lb. freshman walk-on from Walled Lake Central H.S.. Kennedy is not listed on the spring roster on the team's website nor was a bio included in the Spring Football Media Guide.
Is it bad that our walk-on with no past is bigger than our anointed savior? Eh… maybe.
This story is some sort of weird karma on a thousand different levels:
Illinois basketball player Alex Legion was arrested Monday night for driving on a suspended license.
An Illinois Department of Intercollegiate Athletics official said Legion’s license was suspended because of an unpaid moving violation ticket in Michigan. Legion is a native of Detroit.
You're probably well aware that Legion was Tommy Amaker's on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again final recruit, directed by God to go to Kentucky for a single semester and now a conscience-free midrange jumper specialist with the Illini.
But do you remember what happened a few years back after Illinois coach Bruce Weber was taking heat for the existence of Jamar Smith, Illini basketball player? Smith had nearly killed a teammate in a drunk-driving accident but remained on the Illinois team, prompting reporters to ask about it and Weber to act like a fool:
Weber also pointed out that “a kid in a program got arrested a couple weeks ago and he played in the next game.” Without naming him, Weber was referring to Michigan’s Lester Abram, who was stopped for speeding, then arrested for an outstanding warrant. That happened two days before Abram played for the Wolverines at Illinois.
“I don’t know if anything was talked about with him,” Weber said, his voice rising. “I don’t think so because I get a lot of feedback. You’re going to hold us to high standards but that kid got arrested and he played.”
Jamar Smith was the guy who drove his car into a tree, injuring teammate Brian Carlwell, who was a passenger. Oh, and Smith was drunk. Oh, and Smith believed that Carlwell was dead (he had a severe concussion), yet drove the car ... with Carlwell in it ... back home. Oh, and Smith went into his apartment, leaving Carlwell unconscious in his car.
Bound by infallible Logic, Weber has no choice but to do to Legion what he did to Smith: suspend him for the year and ship him to a directional Illinois school. Fret not, Alex Legion. God, unlike the Battlestar Galatica writers, has a plan. It involves the Missouri Valley Conference.
At long last, FL S Marvin Robinson has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.
Informative Update: That's right, kids: omg shirtless.
GURU RATINGS & CHATTER
|4*, #14 S, #147 overall||4*, #99 overall||150 watch list|
Marvin Robinson has been on Michigan fans' radar so long that people were worried the transition from Carr to Rodriguez would hurt Michigan's standing in his recruitment. His name first popped up after his freshman year of high school, when he attended Michigan's summer camp and was so ridiculously impressive he picked up an offer. Robinson was equally impressed with Michigan, naming M his leader early and late before finally announcing what he'd told the coaches at least as early as the Michigan State game last year: he's committed.
Michigan fans were ready to proclaim Robinson their big five-star catch whenever Robinson's commitment became official, but as you can see above… eh… not so much. Robinson's rankings were the most disappointing amongst a wide array of disappointments when they were announced. It's hard to see how he can go from this…
On defense, there's no question after seeing Marvin Robinson of Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region on Saturday and Sunday that he's going to be one of the best in the 2010 class. He made big play after big play in drills and then in one-on-one battles. He was the one guy who was consistently able to hang with both the physical and speedy backs in the camp.
…to this from another camp where he was a rising junior competing against seniors…
"Marvin Robinson has a lot of upside to him as far as his strength and motor," said defensive backs coach Eugene Jackson. "He was the best out there and he's very coachable."
Lining up at safety, Robinson asserted himself in one-on-ones and was one of the more physically imposing defensive backs.
…to the #5 rising junior in Florida to the offers you'll see in the next section to "eh, bottom of the top 100." About the only thing I can find that would point to a drop is the 4.6 40 time listed on his Scout profile and at ESPN.
One thing to watch is a potential move to linebacker. Another evaluation from that same camp from Rivals' Barry Every:
6-2, 205, OLB Eagle Lake (FL) Lake Region 2010
Assets: Has a tremendous burst and excellent ball skills.
What was most impressive at camp: For a guy who is making the change from safety to linebacker, he sure looked a natural.
Areas for improvement: He just needs to get reps at his new position because all the tools are there.
On the Hoof: Has good height, long arms and wide shoulders. Robinson's frame will fill out and enable him to play all three linebacker positions.
Robinson could be ticketed for this LB/SS hybrid spot. ESPN's strangely muted scouting report—I'm used to them saying things like "Isaiah Bell melts iron with his mind!"—mentions position versatility:
Robinson is a valuable athlete that rarely comes off the field. He is one of those athletes that may not be great at any one thing but is good at everything. He has good size both in terms of height and weight. Plays multiple positions and is a very talented skilled athlete. As a safety plays the fee safety poison well and doesn't get fooled on play action passes. Intelligent center fielder that recognizes combination routes and reacts accordingly.
Maybe he's great at being awesome, huh, ESPN? Did you ever think of that?
This article was published in June, ten months ago, before Robinson's junior year:
Robinson, who has been the top-safety prospect at two camps this summer, received his first offer from Michigan, then Ohio State offered and at the end of the May evaluation period, USC and Florida offered him a scholarship.
Tennessee had also thrown their hat in the ring by then. So: offers from Michigan, Ohio State, USC, and Florida before his junior year of high school. When he was 15! Damn.
If it matters, further offers came from BC, UCLA, Purdue, Nebraska, UNC, Clemson, and so forth and so on.
Robinson's junior season was fruitful, and multiplied:
Marvin Robinson, the 6-foot-1, 204 pound four-star safety from Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake, Fla., finished his junior season with 98 tackles, four interceptions, four blocked punts and two fumbles caused. He also had five touchdowns on offense with three rushing scores and two receiving.
FAKE 40 TIME
As mentioned above, Robinson's 40 times are in the realistic for humans range and this may explain his unexpectedly low rankings.
The tubes… they have nothing!
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Robinson is good and should show up college-ready after four years of starting and all those early offers. He'll be physically ready and about as mentally prepped as you can be as a true freshman; he, I believe, is also planning on an early enrollment. If he's going to step directly into the starting lineup, though, it's probably not going to be in the secondary, where Michigan currently has no seniors. People seem to want to move him to linebacker, and Michigan's got this new LB/SS hybrid thing Robinson might be good at. The tentative projection here is that he moves to that spot and is in a battle for the starting job immediately, pending Michigan picking up a couple of quality safety recruits to go with him.
As for his ratings: it'll be interesting to see what happens with them. It's possible he was just an early bloomer who got college ready super fast and has a lower ceiling than true five star sorts. It's also possible the recruiting sites are overrating a couple of 40 times to their detriment. I assume he'll end up at an all star game or two; the results will be interesting.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It doesn't really matter whether Robinson is a safety or a linebacker because Michigan would take either yes please thanks much. Given the depth in the secondary, where a true freshman starts at safety next to a converted cornerback and a redshirt freshman walk-on is on the two-deep at corner until the instant Justin Turner enrolls, this will slow Michigan's pursuit of other defensive backs in no way whatsoever.
There are at least three slots left for defensive backs and if they took five more I'd be okay with it. The good news is they've got a lot of excellent options heavily favoring them. Michigan is the public, heavy leader for PA CB Cullen Christian and FL CB Lo Wood, either of whom could drop at any time. MI CB Dior Mathis hasn't been as explicit but is also widely expected to end up at M, and then there's an array of other targets like FL CB Spencer Boyd and PA CB Brandon Ifill, Christian's teammate. Robinson's commit looks to be the first in a parade of four-star secondary commits over the next couple months.
OTHER GUY NAMED MARVIN ROBINSON
His list of clubs, including a spell at Walsall, reads like a gazetteer of English soccer and he has suffered two broken legs and damaged his lungs.
Now, ten years on from that memorable Highbury debut, Big Marv has replaced the Premiership with the more mundane surroundings of the Blue Square North and home is now Redditch United’s Valley Stadium.
Congrats, Walsall: for some reason you're the club picked out to highlight Robinson's hard-luck life. Random biographical note that may sully your opinion of me but isn't as bad as Magic: The Gathering: I took Redditch to Champions League glory in Football Manager a couple years back.