"You know how Kyle Flood still has a job? Yeah, all Jourdan."
|Massillon, Ohio - 6'2" 186
|Scout||5*, #3 CB, #26 overall, #1 Ohio|
|Rivals||4*, #3 S, #35 overall, #1 Ohio|
|ESPN||80, #21 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Ohio State|
|Hello: Justin Turner; roundup of Army game scouting.|
|Notes||Massillon (Shawn Crable). Photo source: the Massillon Independent.|
If you're measuring by delusional expectations of internet denizens, Justin Turner may be the #1 recruit in the universe. You've got to have an avalanche of hype for some guy to write an article saying you're Charles Woodson and get this response:
Good article, but i see justin turner being faster then charles woodson. I also see turner being a better saftey the woodson was but woodson will be a better return man.
IE: "Good article about some high school senior being the reincarnation of the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman, but don't you think you're selling him a little short? Also I have no recollection of Charles Woodson's return abilities, which were pretty much crap aside from one white hot moment." (Yes, this exchange happened on Bleacher Report. Where else could it?)
So, yeah, people expect Justin Turner to be good. There are many reasons why. After all the practices and oh incidentally an actual, if incredibly hard to watch, game at the Army All American Bowl, Rivals sat down and got out their thinking caps and put together lists of who was the best at various things. Turner was rated a safety:
3. Justin Turner, Massillon (Ohio) Washington
BUZZ: He played corner during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and really excelled.
BEST BALL SKILLS
1. Justin Turner, Massillon (Ohio) Washington
BUZZ: He was like a Venus Flytrap during ball drills at the U.S. Army All-American practices.
BEST COVERAGE SKILLS
1. Justin Turner, Massillon (Ohio) Washington
BUZZ: He may end up a cornerback at the next level.
He did not place in "biggest hitter," probably out of a desire to mention someone, anyone else.
It's safe to say Turner impressed. Rivals' Jeremy Crabtree on Turner:
“He played his way up the charts. We knew he was good. Everyone knew what a tremendous player he was before his senior year in high school, but he separated himself in the U.S. Army game. He was arguably the best player on the field, not just in the game, but in practices as well. ... It’s exciting to see how big he’s gonna be for the Wolverines."
Scout's Bob Lichtenfels:
"Turner has always been known as a versatile athlete, but he showed us in San Antonio that just because he is big, it doesn't mean that he has to be a safety. Turner showed that his hips and closing speed are as good as any cover guy in the country. So we have moved the talented athlete to cornerback and elevated him to five stars. J.T. is a stud. Every coach in the country wants a guy that’s six-foot two and can cover.”
Rivals' Barry Every:
He basically can play either safety positions, and someone like that is not limited. If he plays strong safety, he's not afraid to hit and if he's going to be a free safety, he's a ball hawk. For one thing, if he can play corner, he is a coveted commodity because he is well over 6-foot. No. 2, he has excellent ball skills It's always these guys who play two ways in high school and they look good, but they don't look great. "Then, when you get them in an atmosphere where they are only working at one position, those two-way starters at big schools always end up being studs. I saw him in drills and he looked phenomenal, but you didn't get to see his ball skills at Massillon because he was mainly carrying the ball.
(Turner was a running back on offense.) There's more, more, more, all in the same vein: this man appears to be a 6'2" cover corner. Who can tackle. When reservations are expressed, they come off as "I know I just said this guy can be a corner, but I can scarcely believe it so maybe I'm wrong." ESPN didn't budge on Turner's all star performance because, in typical ESPN fashion, they wholly focused on the UA game and ignored the Army one. Turner flew up the boards of Scout and Rivals because they were paying attention; ESPN couldn't be bothered.
Turner's recruitment ended a few weeks after Michigan came through with his first big offer; by that time Illinois and Ohio State had followed suit. And despite all that happened after that commitment, there was never a hint of a waver, probably because his father is a rabid Michigan fan:
Why Marlin Jackson? Jackson and Turner are both big corners who were rated around 25th by the major scouting services; Jackson's bounced from safety to corner in his college and NFL careers. Jackson's run support and tackling from the corner spot were a major asset, too.
Guru Reliability: High. All Star game appearance.
General Excitement Level: Very high, as everyone rushed to shower praise on his performance throughout practice and during the week. (ESPN ignored the Army Bowl to their detriment.)
Projection: Immediate playing time as a nickel corner and a starting role his sophomore year if Donovan Warren leaves early.
From Yost Built and Alnike at the Wolverine's message board comes word of not one but two commits for the hockey team. Both are forwards who will probably be a part of the 2010 class but could be put off to 2011 if Michigan doesn't experience the usual spate of NHL defections, which yeah right.
The first is Alex Guptill, a 6'2" forward from Ontario. Guptill was a sixth-round OHL draft pick but his stock may have been depressed by uncertainty over his signability. Also, kid was apparently rail thin. Brampton's scouting director on Guptill:
“He’s tall and lean but he can really skate. He has very good puck skills. We think he can be a goal scorer, but he needs to fill out. He really needs a year at the junior A or midget level and he needs to add upper-body strength. He needs to mature physically before he can step in and compete for a spot.”
His year at junior A has been impressive: 30-34-64 in 49 games, and the league's rookie of the year award. He was his team's top scorer despite playing with kids up to four years older than him*. He drew a mention from Guy Flaming over at Hockey's Future as a guy on the "beyond tomorrow" radar:
Alex Guptill (2010) of the OJHL Brampton Capitals has been on a tear since the 6’2, 165-pound rookie forward joined the team last Fall. In 47 games, the Newmarket, Ontario native has posted 60 points (28 goals, 32 assists), including 17 points in nine January Junior “A”games.
No indication if he's on anyone's radar for the 2010 draft but this appears to be a guy with scoring line potential.
Guptill's local paper has a commit article in which he politely turns down the OHL, citing education; there are also some interesting quotes from Mel Pearson on the realities of college hockey recruiting.
*(His two linemates were actually scoring at a slightly higher rate than he was until they were traded 3/4ths of the way through the season. But those guys are 20, not 16.)
The other commit is forward Derek Deblois from Hotchkiss Prep, the former home of freshman grinder Luke Glendening and current home of defenseman commit Mac Bennett. Deblois was interviewed by McKeen's early this month, wherein he was described as Hotchkiss' "go-to guy". Deblois on his game:
McKeen's: Describe the type of game you play. What are your strengths? Weaknesses?
Deblois: I play an aggressive game and like to make plays. I think my strengths are seeing the ice and setting up plays. I need to get bigger, faster, stronger, so I guess you could say my jump.
McKeen's: What would you say is the most underrated facet to your game?
Deblois: I would say breaking the puck out. People don't really understand how hard it is to pick a puck off the boards flat footed with a defensemen pinching. I think I do it pretty well.
McKeen's: Which NHL player do you model your game after and why?
Deblois: I would like to say someone like Joe Thornton. He loves playing behind the net and makes great passes. I think I see the ice well.
Stats, size, and Michigan's main competitor:
Deblois, who is 5'11'', 180 pounds, leads Hotchkiss in scoring with 10 goals, 21 assists and 31 points heading into Wednesday's game against Salisbury.
Deblois, who turned 18 last Thursday, reportedly chose Michigan, which plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, over Boston University.
He's currently ranked #69 by Central Scouting, which corresponds to a fourth- or fifth-round pick. Deblois kind of an oddity in that he's good enough to get drafted by the NHL but won't arrive on campus for at least a year after he hears a pro team call his name. Usually kids who enter college hockey at 19 or 20 are guys who needed some extra seasoning before they got to the NCAA; the only kid in recent memory to be drafted by the NHL, play a year of junior, and then arrive at Michigan was Kevin Quick.
Given the age of the two prospects here, Deblois is the more likely to be moved into the 2010 class.
A note on an existing recruit. Michigan Hockey Net points out that the leading scorer on the USA U18 team is none other than Michigan recruit AJ Treais. Treais is one of those skilled tiny guys a la Cammalleri and Comrie and Hensick, but prior to this year he was believed to be a step or two below those guys, who range from solid NHLers to fringe All Stars. Leading the U18 in scoring is an encouraging indicator.
What's the best option for acquiring Frozen Four tickets? Just wait until there's a glut of tickets from fans of non-tourney teams, wait 'til the FF is settled that week? At this point (after moving to NY) I'd be willing to go just to see the games.
Every year, the Frozen Four sells out over a year before the actual event transpires. As a result, thousands of fans end up not going because they can't be bothered or just bought the tickets to maintain their priority, and tickets are beyond plentiful. Unless you're dead set on getting the best seat in the house there's no reason to buy them until you arrive on site. I've gone when it was in Buffalo and Denver and both times acquiring seats for face value was a snap. If I really care to push it I probably could have got them for less. This year it's in DC, which cares about college hockey not at all, and if Michigan gets there I'm planning on buying on-site.
The only exception to this is if a Frozen Four happens to be in Minneapolis or Boston and a local team makes it; in that case tickets can be tough.
Brandon Smith, from Jersey in last years haul. He was Army, solidly recruited by some other bigs (FLA), he has disappeared off the map. Even with a red-shirt, should I have been less optimistic in that his name seems to only come up with trepidation, as in, "oh my god not Stevie and a Frosh". What do you percieve as his main challenges to getting on the field?
Smith was a pretty big recruit but was also more of an athlete than a solid player at any particular position. He played QB, KR, PR, S, and some LB for his high school team because he was one of those guys you use as much as possible; this speaks well to his athletic ability but also means he wasn't quite as ready to play as someone who was a safety all the way. So Smith started the year looking like a likely redshirt, then had an appendectomy which sealed it.
I haven't heard the trepidation you have, though. What practice mentions I've read have been very positive on his ability and optimistic he can be a solid player. That's no guarantee—Grady Brooks, Kevin Grady, etc etc etc—but he's not a guy who's fallen off the map during his redshirt year. I think he'll play, and challenge Mike Williams for a starting spot.
It is interesting that the Big Ten is again considering a nine-game schedule. I can remember the Big Ten race back in 1982. That year Michigan played nine Big Ten games (back when there were only 10 teams) but Ohio State played only eight. This actually decided the title because Ohio State beat Michigan in Columbus, had a better overall record, but finished 1/2 game back in the standings. (Searchable Big Ten standings database if you want to poke around.)
Michigan was 8-1 in the conference (losing to OSU). Ohio State finished 7-1 and beat Michigan. Michigan went to the Rose Bowl to lose to UCLA for a second time in just over 4 months. For some reason, only Iowa and OSU played 8 BT games while the rest of the conference played 9.
I was only 12 or 13 years old at the time. Imagine the chaos if that happened in the age of the internet!!
Keith in Northville
Holy cow: Keith is right. In 1982, the entire Big Ten played nine league games except for Iowa and OSU. This also happened in 1981, when those two schools tied for the title at 6-2. OSU and Iowa were co-champs in a year when the only Big Ten game that didn't get played was Iowa-OSU!
In 1979 and 1980, Northwestern and Minnesota played an extraneous ninth game against each other; the rest of the league stuck with eight conference games. In 1977 and 1978 it was Wisconsin and Northwestern playing a full round-robin. It appears that in the late 70s and early 80s Northwestern was so concerned about its ability to schedule nonconference games that it just struck up a deal with whoever had rotated off their schedule to play a game anyway. Opponents were happy to oblige, as Northwestern won just one conference game from '77 to '81. (They beat Illinois 21-7 in '77.)
In '83 the league stopped its experiment with wacky unbalanced schedules, playing a full round-robin for two years before settling back into its traditional eight-game schedule.
Does anyone know what the heck happened in 1981 and 1982? I get full round-robin schedules. I get Northwestern running around, hat in hand, to whichever conference mate was denied the opportunity to blast them into the stone age. I don't get "everyone plays except Iowa and Ohio State."
I've been a UM hockey fan for a long time, but I used to be the type that was a score-watcher until the weather got warm, then I would pay strict attention for the stretch run. My first UM hockey memory was the Mike Legg goal and I was hooked (boom, pun) since. The last few years I have taken a more consistent interest despite living outside of Michigan, mostly thanks to MGoBlog. It's been a lot of fun and I must say that I couldn't believe the surly mood I was in after the Notre Dame Frozen Four game last year.
That being said, my somewhat uninformed question is: do the refs really screw everyone like this in the CCHA? Trust me, I know they're bad. Like, The Mentalist bad. I'm just saying, it seems like the Wolverines have been on the receiving end of this as of late. I know that it goes with the territory of being an obsessive fan that you will think your team is being screwed, but when puck hits skate and goes in, it's hard to shrug off being called a homer. When's the last time UM has been handed a game a-la Notre Dame and Ohio State? And you know, aaarrrgggh and stuff.
I've long been of the opinion that CCHA refs not named Shegos* or Piotrowski were uniformly awful. Any new recruits quickly proved themselves about as incompetent as the rest of the bunch. Though a couple of the promoted linesmen have struck me as okay so far this year, it's too early to tell with them.
HOWEVA, I have never seen a team get so completely hosed on two separate occasions. Two obviously blown goals in two separate one-goal games is a truly enormous effect, one that can't be matched by a demonstrative Ed Hightower charge call, or anything at all, really. I've never seen anything like it.
In the decade I've been following Michigan hockey, these are the controversial (non-) goals that stand out:
- Some nonconference game against BC: Michigan is up 3-2 with about two minutes left in the game. There's a late scramble for the puck, which ends up lying in the crease for a BC player to roof a nanosecond after the ref blew it dead. Michigan goes on to secure an important nonconference game.
- Some game against State: I think this was the one Michigan ended up tying when Jason Ryznar scored with a second left. Anyway, a State defenseman blasted the puck… somewhere. A goal light went on, but the puck wasn't in the net. Replays showed very little, but there was a telltale net bulge—it looked like the State defenseman had actually shot the puck through the net. Not quite as impressive as beheading a goalie a la Jack Johnson, but still. They checked the net for a hole, didn't find one, and declared no goal.
- The NCAA regional game against Colgate: This, I believe, was the year Michigan played after the beyond epic St Lawrence-BU game that went into four overtimes. (They played Maine with four defensemen and collapsed late.) I watched an entire game of hockey and the feed only picked up when the OT started. Anyway, that was the second round.
In the first round, Michigan went to overtime with Colgate. At some point there was another goalmouth scramble in front of the Michigan net that was eventually blown dead. When Josh Blackburn, who had ended up partially in the net, moved the puck was revealed to be well over the line. It was not entirely clear when the puck had crossed the line, however, and after a lengthy review it was called no goal.
- The Buffalo Frozen Four against Minnesota: it's tied late in the third period, and by this time you know the drill: goalmouth scramble, puck loose that the referee can't find, and a whistle that goes just as Jason Ryznar pokes it through the fivehole.
Most of these are controversial early whistles from the referee, something that's inescapably part of hockey. None of them are the inability to see a puck obviously kicked in the net, or goals inexplicably waved off for absolutely no reason. I've never seen Michigan handed the equivalent of two goals via sheer blind incompetence.
The Colgate thing was probably the luckiest Michigan's ever gotten: it was like those plays in football where you're sure the call on the ice is wrong but there just isn't enough evidence to overturn it. It was a game-losing goal that Blackburn luckily obscured until it was too late.
Side note: the CCHA should obviously incorporate every available camera angle into its reviews, and the NCAA should repeal the inane rule about kicked goals. Anything that's not thrown or high-sticked into the net should count.
*(This knowledge appears to be disappearing into the ether, but there used to be two Shegoses (Shegii?) in the league. They were brothers. When displeased with refs who were not Shegoses, Yost would chant "we want Shegos." When displeased with refs who were Shegoses, Yost would chant "other Shegos."
The origins of this were never clear. Did the chant get started out of genuine respect, or the belief that Shegos was beyond horrible and preferring Shegos to anyone was the worst insult imaginable? Given what we know about Yost, probably the latter. This would be ironic, since the closest thing I have to a "thank God he's reffing" moment now is when I see Shegos on the ice.
Yes, like he was against Ohio State. He can't do anything about Langseth randomly awarding/disallowing goals.)
Amateur Barwis Porn. MGoBoard denizens are ahead of the curve on this, but Jeremy Gallon has a number of videos up that document parts of his Michigan official visit, and they're pretty cool. Here's the legendary "you can't do this" Barwis pushup we've heard so much about:
Not that you didn't know this already. Michael Spath talked to Red about the ficky-ficking against Ohio State on Saturday:
He also took about five minutes to rip the hell out of the replay system and the CCHA officials. He's very aware of what the two games (ND and OSU) could end up costing his team in the long run. But while he wants to see wholesale changes to the replay system he doesn't know that it will change because enough programs (ones that don't get TV often) probably wouldn't benefit from introducing new technology.
The other main topic of Red's press conference was the availability of Mark Mitera. Michigan's captain appears to be a go this weekend:
"I'm expecting that he'll play this weekend, but we're going to go day-to-day now that we're down to the last week," Berenson said after practice. "I'm looking at it as if he'll play. Gonna put him in a defensive rotation (Tuesday), and we'll see how he looks as the week goes on."
Also, Brian Lebler was injured Saturday—it's a shoulder thing—but is practicing and is day-to-day for the Ferris series.
A pairwise note. the Hoover Street Rag caught something I didn't when I surveyed the situation:
Miami has a better record, but since they haven't reached the 10-win threshold (when the head-to-head series is taken out) it isn't counted. This weekend, they play OSU. A team under consideration. If they sweep, they win the category and the comparison, even if we sweep Ferris State.
Michigan would have an opportunity to take the comparison back by doing better than Miami in the CCHA tournament, as unless Michigan and Miami are upset they're schedule to meet in the semifinal.
Er, really? The topic of a ninth Big Ten game will not die:
"That was a discussion that may move forward," Alvarez said. "We've discussed nine games. That will be something we'll probably take to the coaches."
The ADs are aware that 9 X 11 = 99 and 99 can't be divided by two; one team would only play eight Big Ten games. This would be absolute chaos if one of those teams was locked into the Big Ten title race, though. If one team is 8-0 and the other is 9-0, who's the champ? If one team is 8-1 and the other is 7-1, who's the champ? I just can't see that working out.
My best effort to a workable system: All league schedules are set just like they are now with the exception of one particular week. This week is kept clear until the previous season ends. The last place team in the league gets matched with a pre-arranged MAC opponent. They probably wouldn't mind, as they would have an easier path to bowl eligibility.
At this point you have ten teams in two groups:
- 2 teams not scheduled to play the last-place team.
- 8 teams with the last place team on the schedule.
The group of two have one and only one available option for their ninth game and get matched up with that option. The other six (or eight) teams get randomly matched up with one of the two teams they miss, with an emphasis on 1) variety and 2) fairly balancing home and away. I don't think it would work out exactly right every year, but the differences would be pretty small.
You are then hoping there are no worst-to-first miracle seasons, or you're putting in some sort of emergency championship game in the event that happens, or you're actually counting this MAC game in the conference standings, or you're just fine with making a mockery of the championship. I'd love to see a ninth conference game—I'd love to see anything other than Wisconsin-Cal Poly, really—but it just doesn't work.
|Deerfield Beach, Florida - 5'9" 175
|ESPN||40 (ie: unranked)|
|Others||#25 in Broward County.|
|Other Suitors||Kansas State, UCF, FIU|
|YMRMFSPA||Uh… Denard Robinson?|
|Nothing except a bunch of "hey, this guy is Denard Robinson's teammate!"|
|Notes||Teammate of Denard Robinson|
Adrian Witty, a teammate of Denard Robinson, is Denard Robinson's teammate. On this team, which they share, they play together. Also, Witty and Denard Robinson attended the same high school. At this high school, they played on a team which they shared and played together on: they were teammates.
That should be clear. Many, many folks regard Witty's offer as the heroin-laced carrot used to lure critical QB recruit Denard Robinson away from Urban Meyer's clutches and to Michigan's post-apocalyptic frozen wastes. But Witty does have legs and plays a position* and he is this year's most emphatically shirtless recruit. Therefore he will be Tim Tebow.
So let's consider the man. The internet is undecided as to his height, which is either 5'9" or 5'11" (or 6'1" according to Scout, but that's an outlier and can be disregarded), and his position, which is either cornerback or safety. For his part, Witty thinks corner:
''If I go up there and work the way I know I'm going to work, I'll be the starting cornerback at Michigan next fall,'' said Witty, who visited Kansas State, Michigan and FIU.
No offense to Witty, but if his prediction comes true while Boubacar Cissoko and Donovan Warren are still around you can find me on a ledge somewhere.
As to Witty's rating, there's one very good reason he's been virtually ignored by the scouting services: an ACL tear that happened in the state semifinal game of his junior year held him out of much of his senior year. That's not enough to explain his paucity of offers and low ranking—plenty of kids with similar injuries are higher rated and more hotly pursued, like say Vlad Emilien—but it does mitigate those red flags. Witty, supposedly still less than 100%, got back on the field halfway through his senior season and ended the year with 50 tackles and an interception. He also tacked on four catches for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Video from that senior year:
Before the injury there were a couple ridiculous (FAKE!) 40 times out there. Here's one:
The Class of 2009 also includes safety Adrian Witty (5-11, 185), who also put up some fast (4.4) numbers at combines in the off season.
And the second is even more delectably fake:
In the early moments of the game, Witty, who ran a 4.35 (40) and sparked the Bucks as a receiver and return specialist, injured his knee.
That article, written in August, also contains more details on the severity of Witty's injury, which he terms "total ACL repair":
For months after he struggled with the pain and the loss of strength and motion in his knee.
“The first couple of weeks, I turned it up as much as I could take,” Witty said. “After that, I fought through the pain and tried to make it more mental, which I knew I could handle and control better.”
While the doctors are slated to release Witty in early September, head coach Art Taylor will take his time bringing this talented athlete back, which means that this youngster will come back in less than a year after the surgery.
“I am about 70-75% right now, and we are in August,” Witty said. “I’ll be back. Right in time for everything to start moving quickly!“
I don't know if I 100% buy the article's hypothesis about Witty being "one of the top-rated safety prospects in South Florida" before the injury simply because ACL tears are no longer a big huge enormous career-altering deal most of the time and if Witty was really a big prospect schools still would have pursued him. Again, Vlad Emilien had Ohio State and Wisconsin and Stanford offers, amongst others, despite a near-identical injury and recovery schedule.
That fast-fast-fast stuff is backed up by his coach, though:
"Adrian is Denard but on defense. Adrian was our leader, and it was really unfortunate what happened to him last year. But he worked hard, and came back. He’s fast. Denard is a very fast young man, and Witty before the operation, rumor has it, could beat Denard in a race. He has a lot of speed. Adrian Witty is such a polite young man, and he’s not very flashy off the field. But on that field, he’s everywhere. I really can’t say enough about his personality either. He’s a really good kid, and a fantastic student in the classroom. Never in trouble, and I’ve never had any problems with him on or off the field."
So, I dunno, maybe they've got something here.
Witty also continues a theme under Rodriguez: the acquisition of guys who are completely obsessed with football, for whatever reason. (Perhaps the best examples of this are Tate Forcier and the various Pahokee guys.) Quote:
BEST MOMENT OF '07: "The best moment for me, point blank, is playing football. I can't really tell you what the best moment is."
I like my players to be slightly deranged about football, so hurrah.
*on a team with Denard Robinson.
Why Denard Robinson? TEAM make GOOD LEADERSHIP
Guru Reliability: Low. Witty is under the radar.
General Excitement Level: Well… low. Offers and ratings and injury uncertainty.
Projection: Obvious redshirt, and then we'll see if all that stuff about his speed was true. I think there's a 30% chance he defies his ranking becomes useful.
I'm preparing the 2010 recruiting board for a debut (hopefully) next week and along the way have assembled relevant information for you perusal as to what Michigan needs and looks likely to acquire in the near future.
Twelve seniors graduate and there are currently four(-ish) open scholarships with three unused from the 2009 class and the transfer of Steven Threet. Redshirted seniors pursuing a fifth year will be David Cone, Perry Dorrestein, Steve Schilling, John Ferrara, Bryan Wright, Greg Banks, and Jonas Mouton. Cone and Wright are obvious candidates for a firm handshake and well wishes, but everyone else figures to be of use.
So peg the initial number at 18. Normal attrition should see that get to 22 or so and another year in which 25 scholarships come open is possible.
Quarterback: Very high. There are only two scholarship QBs on the roster. Michigan has already offered six QBs and will be looking to take at least two and maybe more if some of them can be moved elsewhere.
Running back: Moderate. Three players graduate and Michigan lost two running backs to transfer in the offseason but Michael Shaw, Mike Cox, and the three freshman remain. Michigan will probably take two, hopefully one of extremely high caliber.
Outside receiver: High, but with three four-star-plus commitments already there's not much to worry about except decommits.
Slot receiver: Moderate. If Jeremy Gallon makes it in Michigan will have three underclass guys at the spot and should be okay to forgo a slot if they want, but they'll probably take one. Rich Rodriguez is really into slot receiver pokemon.
Tight end: Low. Michigan threw an offer out to OH TE Alex Smith, who committed to Cincinnati already, so they're not entirely out of the market but the starter is a sophomore and he's got a redshirt freshman behind him. If they find a guy they like they might take him but they're not going to kill themselves about it.
Offensive line: Moderate, but only because offensive line never goes below "moderate." With nine recruits in the last three classes and a hidden gem or two amongst a wide array of four-star sorts Michigan doesn't need a huge influx of players. You always want three guys at OL, though.
Defensive tackle: Very high. Michigan's inability to hold on to defensive tackle recruits not named Will Campbell leaves Michigan with nothing past the two-deep. Even though no one graduates this year, DT is probably the thinnest spot on the team outside of quarterback.
Defensive end: High. Michigan picked up two desperately-needed prospects in Craig Roh and Anthony Lalota but the position remains very thin. Adam Patterson and Brandon Graham graduate; at least two here.
Linebacker: High in the middle, as Michigan didn't take one last year, and low-ish on the outside, where they took three or four depending on the final disposition of MI WR Cameron Gordon.
Cornerback: High. I'm on the paranoid side when it comes to cornerbacks: I want a thousand, I want a thousand every year, and this is a year so I want a thousand. Last year Michigan picked up one near-five star in OH CB Justin Turner and one complete flier who may be a safety in FL CB Adrian Witty. This year there are no seniors but depth is somewhat lacking and Donovan Warren may be an NFL draft flight risk, so I'd like to see at least two and, since I'm paranoid, three would be better.
Safety: High. Two prospects join up this year and Michigan has but one senior, the much-maligned Stevie Brown. I'd like to see two or even three players here, too. Paranoia.
In table format, with names of note:
|QB||Very high||2||MI QB Devin Gardner||SC QB Cornelius Jones||FL QB Jeffrey Godfrey|
|RB||Moderate||2||MI RB Austin White||MI RB Nick Hill||FL RB Corvin Lamb|
|WR||Met||3||FL WR Ricardo Miller||MI WR Jeremy Jackson||OH WR Jerald Robinson|
|Slot||Moderate||1||FL WR Kenny Shaw||MI WR Dior Mathis||FL WR De'Joshua Johnson|
|OL||Moderate||3||NC OL Robert Crisp||FL OL Chaz Green||OH OL Andrew Donnal|
|DE||High||2||OH DE Derrick Bryant||MI DE Will Gholston||MI DE CJ Olayanin|
|DT||High||2||MI DT Jonathan Hankins|
|LB||Low||2||MI LB Austin Gray||OH LB Antonio Kinard||MI LB Daniel Easterly|
|CB||High||2||FL CB Lo Wood||PA CB Cullen Christian|
|S||High||2||FL S Marvin Robinson||PA S Brandon Ifill||OH S LaTwan Anderson|
That adds up to 21 plus a punter.
Even though it's early there are still a number of players out there with offers who name Michigan their leader or in a reduced leading group. In order of most confidence to least:
FL (or MI) WR Ricardo Miller. Miller's one of the top ten prospects in Florida and widely regarded to be a top 50 overall player. He's also moving to Ann Arbor this summer to play at Huron, so, yeah, not going to decommit.
MI WR Jeremy Jackson. Fred Jackson's kid and a future Ricardo Miller teammate (at two different locations), Jackson's supposed to be a mid- or even low-four star prospect. This belies some truly impressive reported offers: Texas, LSU, Florida.
OH WR Jerald Robinson. Robinson committed about two seconds after picking up his Michigan offer; he's currently rated a borderline four-star, as near as I can tell.
Persons I Expect Will Be Part Of The Class
FL CB Lo Wood. Wood has repeatedly claimed Michigan his leader and holds an offer. He's from Apopka, Jeremy Gallon's school, and there's a lot of scuttlebutt that indicates he's Michigan bound.
FL WR Kenny Shaw. Shaw is a 5'11" slot guy who is the soon to be former teammate of Ricardo Miller, who's moving to Ann Arbor this summer, and he's named Michigan his clear leader a couple times recently.
PA CB Cullen Christian. Christian has also named Michigan his leader repeatedly. Early reports have he and his teammate Brandon Ifill #9 and #10 in PA, which would make them solid four-stars in a good year in-state and borderline ones in an average one.
PA S Brandon Ifill. Christian's teammate, he's named Michigan part of a leading group of two in two separate articles recently; in one article the other contender was Maryland and in the other it was Pitt. Ifill's also a wide receiver; Michigan is obviously focusing on defense with him.
OH DE Derrick Bryant. Bryant named Michigan his leader and even went so far as to suggest he'd be an early commit. Though he's backed off the latter part of that stance, Michigan remains in good shape for Bryant. Bryant's a Rivals 250 to watch guy who has a shot at the top 100.
MI RB Nick Hill. Hill doesn't have an offer yet; if he did he'd probably be just below Wood, as everyone has assured the Michigan fanbase that Hill is a longtime Michigan fan who won't wait long if/when he gets his offer.
Persons Who Are Fairly Likely To Be Part Of The Class
FL S Marvin Robinson. After being proclaimed a Michigan lock for years Robinson has opened up his recruiting a little bit. There's been an undercurrent supporting UNC; his high school coach is an Ohio State fan; etc etc. Still, there are many positive vibes on Robinson that remain current.
SC QB Cornelius Jones. For whatever reason Michigan chucked an unofficial offer at Jones before he'd even stepped foot on a football field, and reconfirmed that offer after he had an impressive junior season. Michigan leads and it'll be hard for the likes of Duke and Wake Forest to pick him off.
FL QB Jeffery Godfrey. Godfrey has a clear #1 according to Michigan's Rivals site, so you know who that #1 is from that article's provenance. The main issue with Godfrey and Jones may be the looming presence of instate QB Devin Gardner, a guy Michigan wants badly. Michigan may forestall taking an early commit from a quarterback as they wait for the big fish, or Michigan could add a guy later in the recruiting season that might spur an already-committed player to reconsider.
MI CB/WR Dior Mathis. Mathis is this year's big Cass Tech prospect, a pint-sized corner/slot receiver who's slighter but faster than close analogue Boubacar Cissoko. Mathis was infatuated with Miami (That Miami) growing up and was initially planning on an early commit, but the flood of Michigan folks at Cass managed to forestall that. Now presumed to be a Michigan-Miami battle.
Persons Of General Interest
MI QB Devin Gardner. Gardner's played it close to the vest so far, but has totally dropped Ohio State from consideration after they were slow to offer. He's got offers from everywhere else and is by no means a lock, but Michigan offers an attractive depth chart close to home and has been pursuing him hard.
MI DE Will Gholston. Gholston is 1) a 6'7" wrecking machine at linebacker and 2) supposedly a heavy Michigan State lean. (He goes to Southeastern, which is coached by an MSU equivalent of Tom Wilcher, and rumor has it he even lives with one of their Sparty, no(!) coaches.) Michigan is pursuing, though it may be futile.
MI RB Austin White. White and Hill are the top two backs in the state; Michigan is pursuing both, but White already has two brothers at State and will clearly be an uphill battle.
Michigan probably won't get everyone in the "I expect they'll commit" category, but they'll probably pick up all but one or two. Since all of those folks seem like solid four-star sorts except maybe Hill, that would be an excellent eight- or nine- four star start with very little in the way of low-rated downers. Add in Robinson and a quarterback or two and that's most of the top half of a top-ten class, minus the one or two five stars. The initial returns are promising.
Disclaimer: a lot of this information, especially about how high-ranked these kids are going to be, is extremely speculative.
Programming Note: I'll be on WTKA with John U Bacon this afternoon from 4-5. WTKA streams live for those in the diaspora.
It wasn't a total head implosion weekend. Lost in the dual frustrations from hockey and basketball was the baseball team's strong start: 4-0 against an array of Big East teams (and, oddly, Purdue), including two walk-off wins to open the season. Formerlyanonymous is now blogging up a storm about the baseball team at Varsity Blue; his article on the weekend is probably the most detailed recap of a Michigan baseball weekend ever written(!).
Michigan is in Jacksonville Wednesday through Sunday taking on a wide array of meh-sounding teams: North Florida, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Jacksonville, and Akron. Their major opportunity to get some committee-impressing nonconference wins comes in mid-March when Michigan goes to Arizona for a three-game series.
Hello again, Elliot. Elliot Mealer's unfortunate life story has made him perhaps the most-chronicled anonymous redshirt freshman offensive linemen ever(!). His local paper has a story on him, and this one deviates from the usual fluff and goes for a couple of interesting quotes:
"The speed of the game is just incredibly different from high school," reflected Mealer. "I talked to guys who I had played with at Wauseon and told them about the first time I faced speed in practice. I was playing left tackle against Tim Jamison (2008 starting defensive end). He comes at me and in high school you are taught to get your hands on him and move, but he slapped my hands down before I ever got them up. The next thing I realize I'm on the ground asking what happened and he's sacking the quarterback."
There's also a story about John Thompson crushing Mealer backwards, causing him to wonder if he'd been concussed; it's a step up from the usual stuff you get in these things.
One downer: it sounds like Mealer's on-field future may have been damaged by the car crash.
For Mealer, the challenge is restoring lost shoulder strength which may never return.
"The team has been doing a lot of upper arm strengthening in the weight room, but I'm not allowed to start that until after spring break (Feb. 20-28)," said Mealer. "At that time, I will start out with two to three days of upper body strength training and I'm not sure how long that will last, but it could last my whole career just to stay on top of it."
Mealer was a top-250 sort who certainly projected to playing time; with lingering effects from the injury he won't be in the conversation to start this year, at the very least.
…Rodriguez is in danger of falling behind in the spread offense arms race in terms of sophistication. I discussed that phenomena with Purdue as a pass-first spread team over the last decade, but it's of a slightly different order with Michigan. In the spread's nascent days, the spread-to-run innovators included Rodriguez and Kevin Wilson and Randy Walker at Northwestern, with Urban Meyer following shortly after. Wilson is now at OU and of course Meyer is at Florida. Compare their offenses with Rodriguez's: there's not much difference from a run-game standpoint (though Meyer and OU mix up their sets a bit more and use more tight-ends now), but the passing games have seen a wide departure. Wilson now uses what Chuck Long put in at OU, with some schematic residue lingering from Mike Leach and Mark Mangino, while Meyer, along with Dan Mullen and Mike Sanford, assembled a pro-style one-back approach gleaned from John L. Smith and Scott Linehan from Louisville and Joe Tiller and Jim Chaney from Purdue. I can't say I'm a huge fan of Meyer's passing game, but it's definitely more sophisticated than what Rodriguez has going on.
But Rodriguez is a bright guy and his passing game originally derived from (though is a long way now) the old run and shoot. So you'd think he could remedy this. Yet with nothing but true freshman, that evolution will have to wait. The longer they wait, however, the farther behind they fall.
This is more of a restated concern than a new one, and it's worth pointing out that the situation Rodriguez inherited last year was not conducive demonstrating any sort of great leap forward in passing sophistication. The larger issue is that Rodriguez, scrambling to do a thousand different things to reshape the Michigan football program, is probably not spending a lot of time keeping ahead of the game. It's all conjecture until walk-ons have been banished from the depth chart, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
I'm hoping this is more of a Pat White effect than a Rich Rodriguez one; West Virginia's passing offense of late didn't look sophisticated because 1) it didn't have to be and 2) it didn't play into White's strengths. Even if White did well at the combine keep in mind that Rodriguez was deploying the guy as a freshman/sophomore/junior, so the bulk of his recent forays into passing games were with a wobbly underclass jet engine; risk would be stupid in a situation like that. Tate Forcier, the most accurate passer EVER, figures to change that equation significantly.
More attrition? Buried in this recruiting chat from Josh Helmholdt is an interesting bit of speculation:
The WR position was a disappointment this past year, so I certainly understand the need to recruit as many WR's as possible. Also, the depth at the slot WR position is shallow and could get even thinner before the freshmen come in next year.
That points squarely the departure of a slot receiver currently on the team. Martavious Odoms was Michigan's leading receiver a year ago and has two teammates joining him, so it's unlikely to be him. Terrance Robinson is a redshirt freshman who didn't play because of injury. Rodriguez recruited him to play in the slot, too. He's probably going to stick around and try to earn playing time. There's only one other guy on the roster who played in the slot last year: Toney Clemons. There have been erratic transfer rumors about Clemons for months now, but never anything concrete. This is also not concrete, obviously, but Helmholdt doesn't just say things without sourcing.
In a word: ugh. You probably know the story: Michigan led by four with a minute left, then Iowa got back to back trips to the line, one of which was a 50-50 play on a drive, the other a loose ball foul on Sims after Manny Harris didn't get the exact same call Iowa just got. The number of calls Manny Harris doesn't get continually astounds me. My favorite in this game was the charging call he got when some Iowa guy planted himself under the basket.
Then Michigan's attempt at a buzzer-beater degenerates into Harris launching an off-balance three from four feet behind the line, Harris is benched for the entirety of overtime, Iowa hits a wide array of circus shots, and Michigan's bid is on serious life support. I blame myself for hosting a liveblog.
Beilein in the aftermath:
"I didn't think (Harris) was really playing well. He didn't look fresh, he wasn't himself, and so we decided to go in another direction," Beilein said. "We really thought it would help us, but (Iowa) went on a run just like they did at the beginning of the game when he was in there.
"I wouldn't be too concerned about (Harris not playing in overtime). We needed to score some points and Manny wasn't in a good rhythm at that time."
That might make sense if the guy you stuck in the lineup in Harris' stead wasn't David Merritt, with whom I am developing the exact same relationship I had with Pat Massey: though he must be a tremendous individual I want his eligibility to expire immediately so the coach can't keep throwing him out there and causing me psychic distress. (I will never understand this year's rotation, specifically the inability of Jevohn Shepherd to get minutes over the two tiny walkons despite playing pretty well when he gets on the floor. Lord knows if he was closing out three-point shooters in the corner that Iowa guy named Bullwinkle would have had more difficulties.)
But setting aside the choice of replacement, was Beilein 100% wrong? I don't think so. Harris takes terrible shots in every game when he gets frustrated or complacent or feels he won't get a call (which he won't, but eh) and has moments of defensive laxness and is just generally a really frustrating player. Having Harris out there wouldn't have helped that much, anyway. Iowa couldn't miss in overtime, and Harris was not going to bring Michigan's offensive efficiency up to a level at which it could compete.
Beilein's obviously not 100% right, either. If he thought Michigan had a better chance to win with David Merritt on the floor, he's nuts. More likely he had about reached his limit and sat him in what appears to be a fit of pique. I get that: Harris at the moment is a basketball doppelganger of Braylon Edwards in his afro phase, when he was benched because he and Carr weren't "on the same page" despite his clear superiority to Michigan's other receiving options. Edwards wised up and blew up. Harris? We'll see.
I would have preferred the teachable moment had not come in overtime of a crucial road game, though. You know.
Okay. What now? The prevailing assumption was that Michigan had to split its final four games and then not die against Indiana or, uh, Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament to assure itself a bid. That still holds, but winning two of Purdue, @ Wisconsin, and @ Minnesota is a vastly tougher proposition than winning one. Kenpom has us at 32% against Purdue, 18% against Wisconsin, and 25% against Minnesota. 8-10 isn't going to do it without an improbable Big Ten Tourney run, especially because the committee has been de-emphasizing conference tourneys in recent years.
In short: we're screwed.
First and foremost, Big Ten officiating is a joke. As someone mentioned, all those moving screens called on us, but when Merritt is running the baseline in the 1-3-1 and the Iowa post player is in the middle of turning his back and knocks Merritt completely off his route to the shooter, there’s no call. The last foul that they called on Sims to put Gatens to the line was just flat terrible. And Manny still isn’t getting calls in the lane. The charge they called on him early was pretty bad; he was already in the air by the time the Iowa player slid over and got set.
So I have three options:
- Spend another 1000 words complaining that college hockey/basketball referees have it in for me, personally, even though I didn't do anything to them.
- Ignore the fact we got hosed and write a bunch of words about something else.
- Do an uber-bullets with a little of 1 but mostly 2.
Since I've already done #1 and #2 we'll do #3, keep the bitching a little muted, and coldly evaluate where things stand.
Somehow it didn't hurt us much. Michigan is still tied for second in the PWR rankings , but this time they're tied with Notre Dame. Since Notre Dame has the comparison, they would win the tiebreaker and get to go to Grand Rapids. There's still a long way to go and a lot of bits to flip, obviously, but Michigan didn't shoot down into the two-seeds like I feared.
…on the surface. Where the two hose-jobs from the CCHA really hurt is in the details. Michigan's comparison with ND:
Even if Michigan picks up an extra point when ND gets enough TUC games for that factor to count, the Common Opponents factor is gone and Michigan would have to pass ND in RPI to take the comparison. That's going to be very tough, since ND has about a two game lead. ND is playing Michigan State this weekend, unfortunately, and will be hard pressed to leave any points on the ice.
Getting hosed has basically cost us the ND comparison and with it just about any chance Michigan ends up in Grand Rapids. Without the four (FOUR! FOUR! FOUR! FOUR!) preposterously allowed/disallowed goals Michigan has endured over the last month Michigan is up 3-1 in this comparison and just about impregnable.
So our best hope is for something weird in ND's comparisons. The reason Notre Dame is tied with Michigan, not ahead of them, is their comparison with Vermont, which they lose despite a massive RPI advantage:
This is a PWR specialty: ignoring a huge gap in one category that takes every game into account—RPI—in favor of two narrow gaps in categories featuring far fewer games. Notre Dame has some vulnerable comparisons:
- Miami swept ND, so that comparison is tied at two. There is no TUC comparison because ND is only 6-3 for that comparison (H2H wins are removed from TUC, for some reason). Miami has two against OSU; sweep there and find an ND TUC loss or two somewhere and Miami can take it.
- ND also lost to Denver earlier in the year; that COP comparison is tied and the TUC opponents are borderline.
- Minnesota is tied w/ Notre Dame on Common Opponents and both finish their season with teams the other has played, so there's some wiggle. Minnesota is currently .500 against TUC and has an opportunity to better themselves.
- NoDak has a TUC edge and is tied on COP, but ND plays MSU this weekend and getting more than a split would give it to ND.
- Northeastern wins COP and is slightly behind in TUC.
None of these comparisons is particularly close to flipping—and the Vermont one is basically a coin toss—but if ND ends up losing any two of these and Michigan holds on to its current spot GR is possible. It's not likely, but it's possible. You're rooting for the six teams listed above and Michigan State.
And about the stuff on the ice.
It's nice that the grinders are scoring and so forth and so on, but Palushaj and Caporusso haven't been scoring of late and that has to give you some pause. The thing this Michigan team lacks is that one top-end forward that you desperately want on the ice when you're trailing late. See: Hensick, Porter, Kolarik, Cammalleri, Comrie, et al. This year I know I'd like to see Caporusso and Palushaj and Sidekick, I guess, but more because I know they have a lot of points and must obviously be pretty good at getting them. They lack that je ne sais quoi.
Yes, this may be a dumb criticism to level at two guys tied for sixth nationally in scoring.
We suck so bad on two on ones. Speaking of: the Hensick years totally spoiled me as far as two-on-ones go. Hensick had the magical ability to maneuver himself in such a way that the defender couldn't block the pass nor could the goalie poke it and then it was just on the other guy's stick and all the other guy had to do was shovel it into an open net. They had a ridiculous conversion rate on those. This year I can't remember a single goal from a two-on-one. I'm not even totally excited about them anymore.
Okay, the goalie debate is not so much a debate. Hogan played very well on the weekend, though I'd prefer it if he stopped letting pucks leak through his body and ponderously wander towards the net where they can be illegally kicked in. Assuming that's a fluke, though, whatever questions there were in the goalie situation after Hogan gave up 3 goals on 11 shots against UNO and got pulled were resolved when 1) it was clear Hogan was ill last week and 2) he had a couple of impressive games against OSU. Even if the two were playing at exactly the same level, you go with the guy who hasn't imploded in the last two NCAA tournaments.
Brandon Naurato? It's not quite the same as benching Manny Harris for overtime, but the inexplicable reinsertion of Brandon Naurato into the lineup was, well, inexplicable. Even if Lebler is injured or something, I'd go with Ciraulo, who's done something other than take bad penalties in the past six months.