"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
You've done a great job comparing Beilein's UM recruits with his WVU recruits. [Have I? -ed] Do you have any opinion on Rodriguez's UM recruits as
compared to his WVU recruits, or is it too early to tell? It seems from much of your coverage that Rodriguez is, in large part, targeting not only the same type of recruits but also the same recruits at UM that he was targeting at WVU. Has there been any appreciable difference in the quality of his recruits (e.g., more 4-stars, more top 100 guys) at UM as compared to his recruits at WVU? One would hope so, since that is one of the advantages UM should have over WVU, but, again, maybe it's too early to tell.
Before I answer, note that this email was sent before the recent Beaver commitment.
And on to answering: there has been a notable uptick in Rodriguez's recruiting. A third of the way into Michigan's 2009 class he's picked up three top-100 players and four players given four or five stars, and it seems highly likely Bryce McNeal will join them. His record at West Virginia (all rankings are Rivals' because their site is more navigable):
- 2008: (this is a lot of Stewart but I think it's illuminating) instate OL Josh Jenkins is a soft commit for most of the year and does end up signing with the 'Eers. There are three other four-stars, one a JUCO and one a prep school kid who signed with WVU in 2007 but did not qualify; we should not double-count him. This class hasn't gotten to campus yet so we don't know their fates.
- 2007: Noel Devine headlines. Other four stars include a JUCO and troubled LB Pat Lazear; Bradley Starks and Terrence Kerns (who would prep and re-sign in 2008) are four-star high school recruits. Starks is a real fringe four-star type with other offers from Iowa State, Temple, and Marshall. Not exactly Kevin Newsome.
- 2006: No four star players.
- 2005: A five star, but it's Jason Gwaltney, who for a lot of reasons is horrifically overrated. He fails out his first semester.
- 2004: Two four stars. Brandon Barrett is an instate wide receiver who ends up #45 in the Rivals 100; Raymond Williams is a fringe four-star back from Cleveland. Barrett was a non-qualifier who got in trouble as a sophomore and failed out before his junior year. Two months after he signs his letter of intent, Williams robs a drug dealer with a fake gun, getting one of his teammates killed when the dealer unsurprisingly has a real gun. WVU withdraws his offer.
- 2003: No four star players.
- 2002: WR Broderic Jones never gets to campus, sits out 2002, and eventually ends up at Tulsa.
Rivals doesn't go any farther back than that, but I think the point is made. During the whole of Rich Rodriguez's tenure at West Virginia, he got use out of one player given four or more stars: Noel Devine. (Lazear will start this year after special teams duty his first season; Rodriguez's teams were not particularly aided by his talents.) Every single other highly-rated player bombed out.
That doesn't surprise me. West Virginia has no instate recruiting base and had zero national cachet until the White-Slaton era. Chances are any player who was highly rated and didn't have a better option than West Virginia had grade or character issues. Or, if you're Jason Gwaltney, both.
Here's the scorecard. Seven years at West Virginia: seven four or five star recruits that made it to campus. Five months at Michigan: ten.*
Is Rodriguez recruiting the same guys he was at West Virginia? Probably. The difference is he's getting his first or second choice instead of #10.
*(Tentative numbers since WVU and Michigan obviously haven't gotten the 2008 and 2009 classes in the boat yet; Michigan's number only counts players that committed to the new staff.)
Hi Brian,I want to know what you think of the new changes for the football program now that everything is more settled. Even though as a great a coach as RR is, I wonder if that's enough. UM for the past two decades have been putting a lot of people in the NFL, which I think is a big plus when it comes to recruiting. Under Carr, his philosophy was that as long as he could get a good passing QB, then he'd be able to attract top-flight receivers. That way of thinking has worked considering the number of QB's we have in the NFL and Rivals.com has labelled us "Quarterback U." We also have a good number of receivers in the NFL, although Braylon is the only one that's actually doing well. But the point remains -- UM, under Carr, put kids into the NFL.Now that everything is different and RR has taken over, I'm not so sure that that is going to be the case. With his run-option spread offense, there is too little emphasis on passing. I'm afraid that not too long from now, we'll start seeing a major drop-off in the ratings of the QB's and WR's that we can recruit. In this year's NFL draft, only 3 players were picked from W. Virginia (Schmitt, Slaton, and Mundy(?!?)) vs. the 6 from Michigan. Granted Pat White is still at W. Virginia, but even if he was in the draft, I doubt he'd get picked up by anyone. He's not a good passer and even though he's a good play-maker, it won't be that easy in the NFL.Maybe I'm just having a hard time of letting go of the memories of 4th quarter comebacks (vs. MSU '04 and '07) and LAST second TDs (vs. PSU '05). And then there are all those other spectacular pass plays against ND in 2006. All of those would not have been possible without a great QB and WR combo. I'm starting to wish we could've gotten Les Miles because then maybe things wouldn't be changing so much.So what do you think? Are my concerns unfounded? Or am I just being a wuss about letting go?Thanks for reading.DavidUM Class of 2005
How convenient that this question comes directly after a discussion of West Virginia's recruiting, which was obviously not conducive to being an NFL factory. Let's focus this discussion on the offense, since the defense isn't changing in any way that might damage the NFL prospects of anyone on it.
Rodriguez's lack of NFL draftees is a chicken-and-egg argument. There's a reason Pat White was not recruited as a quarterback by anyone other than Rodriguez, and that's the same reason he's going to be an NFL wide receiver: he's not much of a thrower. That's why he was the #55 "athlete" in his recruiting class, and why he was a three-star prospect. If Rodriguez could have gotten, say, a guy who anchors a winning 100-meter relay team and is listed by Rivals as a pro-style quarterback because he's that comfortable in the pocket, he would have, and West Virginia's offense wouldn't have been so run-heavy. Same goes for players like Stonum and Mathews and so forth and so on.
The thing about recruits is this: they just want to go places, really, and justify the place they want to go in a post hoc fashion. Terrelle Pryor said he wanted to play in a pro-style offense so he would be prepared for the NFL. Kevin Newsome said NFL scouts would find him no matter what sort of offense he played in. PA CB Corey Brown cited Penn State's lack of cornerbacks in the NFL when he dropped them recently, but left both Michigan and West Virginia on his list when the only DB the 'Eers have produced in recent times is legendarily troubled Pacman Jones.
Part of the reason recruits want to go places is the style of offense and NFL prospects but, IMO, it's a much smaller part than you'd think by listening to their quotes, which are often an effect of their commitment and not a cause.
As far as the ratings of
QBs we can recruit... I think the Newsome/Beaver double dip combined with heavy interest from Jason Forcier and Eugene Smith blows that up. It's true Michigan is cutting itself off from the Hennes of the world, but before they cut themselves off from the Newsomes and Pryors. There might be some cause for concern at outside wide receiver -- I assume Michigan is going to have a parade of slot guys eager to be featured at a marquee school -- but at the moment we've got guys from Houston practically begging for an offer and guys from Minnesota decking their myspace pages with more block Ms than you can shake a stick at.
Everyone assumes that West Virginia running 70% of the time (and throwing screens another 10-15% of the time) was a choice. But what would you do with a freshman/sophomore/junior Pat White and Steve Slaton? Michigan has been notoriously run-heavy (57% during Henne's healthy junior year) despite having a multitude of downfield options whenever its quarterback is anything but a senior, and WVU was using an underclassman most programs saw as a wide receiver. And they averaged six yards per carry. And they had little receiving talent outside of the slot. Under the circumstances it would have been crazy to throw more.
At Michigan, Rodriguez will have highly-rated guys who can throw and run and more receiving talent than he's ever seen. We've seen that when he has a superior talent like Chris Henry, he uses him: Henry had 1872 yards in about one and a half years at WVU, and those were his freshman and discipline-ravaged sophomore years. IMO, Rodriguez will always be run-heavy but at Michigan the percentage of runs and short passes will be more like 65% than 85%. Since Michigan has been a magnet for receiving talent despite having a similar percentage of safe stuff you'd figure they would be able to reel in a similar level of badass.
There might be a rough year or two in 2010 or 2011 if (more likely, when) whichever inexperienced quarterback ends up seizing the job struggles and numbers fall, but if I'm right and once the quarterbacks hit upperclass status and Stonum or Clemons or Hemingway or some highly rated recruit from this year blows up, that will blow over.
Honestly, I'm more concerned with the defensive side of the ball, where Jay Hopson has been recruiting the hell out of every safety and linebacker in Mississippi and environs and most of them still favor the in-state hell schools (USM not included, SMQB, since there is the prospect of something other than four years of misery there). Whatever weird gravitational pull the state has only relaxes to the south, it seems.
I am pretty sure you have received this email before, and you have probably answered it, but here it goes again... will all this BCS +1 or BCS playoff talk ever come to fruition? I really hope not. Wouldn't a playoff undermine the "every game counts" concept of college football? Let's say 2007 Michigan, who lost to Appalachian State, ended up beating OSU in the finale and became Big Ten champs. Therefore, we had the automatic bid to the Rose Bowl. If we end up winning that game, do we deserve to play for the championship? HECK NO! On the other hand, should Michigan still deserve to play in the Rose Bowl? Call me a traditionalist, but if the Big Ten and Pac-10 (or Big Nine and PCC or AAWU or Pacific 8 or whatever the heck they were) have been playing in this bowl game since the beginning of time, then why should the honor of playing in the game be taken away from them?
The point of the whole BCS championship is to pit #1 vs #2 to determine the true champion, and the only recent year the BCS championship contenders were wrong was 2004 when USC was sniped from going to the big game in favor of LSU, and even that is debatable, but college football is SUPPOSED TO BE DEBATABLE. Football is a debatable sport, and you will never find a real champion unless you have playoff series like pro basketball, baseball, and hockey. Even with an NFL style playoff, it can be iffy. Who is a better team, the Patriots or the Giants? If New England and New York played 10 games against each other, the Patriots would probably win 7 of them. Also, the Giants got lucky beating the Packers in Green Bay. So I guess you can say that the Giants did not deserve to be Super Bowl champs either. What is that you say? The NFL DOES have a playoff system? And there is STILL debate if the champions were good enough to be champions?
Even with a playoff, the teams left on the outside looking in will feel they were sniped from playing for the championship. So what is this whole playoff thing going to solve?
Thanks for your opinion,
Oh... here we go again. Oh, well. Onward.
I am a very specific playoff advocate. I agree that preserving the tension of the regular season is important, so my proposal is a six-team playoff in which the top two teams get byes and games in the first two rounds are played at home. The final is at the Rose Bowl. The teams are selected by a committee that heavily emphasizes nonconference schedule strength; there are no autobids. The bowl system lives on in parallel, selecting any team that doesn't make the playoff (and maybe the first-round losers, since I envision those games happening in December).
Keeps tension in the regular season. There is a huge difference between finishing 1 and 2 and 3 and 4, and a huge difference between 3 and 4 and 5 and 6. The big issue with a playoff, as I see it, is that it makes something like WVU losing to Pitt late a minor deal. In this system the number of bids is restricted enough (remember WVU already had one loss) that WVU might drop out altogether, and even if they stay in they've gone from a bye and a home game to a first-round roadie.
Helps de-wussify nonconference schedules. Amen.
Actually increases the number of important late-season games. If you are seventh or eighth in the pecking order, everyone above you and nine and ten want you to lose. Now if you're anywhere below fifth late in the season your games have no national title implications.
Has a semblance of tradition. It might be a bit hypocritical to make the Rose Bowl a permanent host and then rail against the Plus One, as I'm about to do, but it's either that or rotating the game between the epicenter of college football tradition and, like, the Superdome. Duh.
Mostly preserves the bowl season. Hey, everyone likes random college football games.
Now, the BCS:
Even if college football is supposed to be debatable, the BCS has killed that debate by instituting a two-team playoff. One team wins and is given an NCAA-approved crystal football, and everyone else can pound sand. Now that the BCS has adopted an overwhelmingly poll-driven ranking system, the events that led to a split national title a few years ago are exceedingly unlikely to happen again, so you get what you get "#1" versus "#2" for "the national title." In the days before the BCS, national championships truly were mythical and were as such acceptable topics for debate. Now our only debate is which team would have put up a better fight than Ohio State. It is truly the worst of both worlds: a playoff that settles nothing.
Virtually anything would be better than it. A return to the ante-bellum bowl system? Check. A true "Plus One" that restores traditional bowl ties and has a national title game a week after? Check? A reasonably sized playoff? Check.
It's depressing that the only thing worse -- a seeded Plus One that almost entirely obliterates traditional bowl ties and imposes ridiculously unfair travel constraints on teams outside of California and the south -- is the thing that actually got proposed at the BCS
meetings. I reject every anti-playoff argument except this one: any group of people that could oversee the majesty that was ten years of the BCS would undoubtedly screw it up.
Shouldn't this check be bigger? I thought it was an iron-clad rule that any check made out for more than $9,999 had to be at least three feet long. Apparently not:
The OHL Draft is coming up this weekend, which is of relevance to Michigan fans because it will clarify where various college-interested recruits stand. First rounders are not likely to end up in college; talented players who slip significantly are. There are a bunch of targets out there but the main guys to keep an eye on are the two draft-eligible commitments, center Jared Knight and defenseman Jon Merrill.
The OHL Prospects magazine has a semi-useful scouting report on Knight:
JARED KNIGHT RC
Ht: 5.09 Wt: 170 lbs 1/16/1992 Home: Battle Creek, MI
Detroit Compuware U16
Scouting Report: Knight is a highly skilled forward who has shown a consistent willingness to play in both ends of the ice. He plays the game a lot bigger than his actual size, competing at a high level game in and game out. He always shows up to play, no matter the situation or the score. He is an excellent skater that possesses speed and quickness. He has that elusive extra gear that he can utilize too.
"Always shows up" is not particularly useful information, but FWIW.
Ht: 6.02 Wt: 175 lbs 2/3/1992 Home: Brighton, MI
Detroit Little Caesars
GP G A PTS PIM
- - - - -
Scouting Report: Merrill is an extremely talented offensive minded defensemen who plays a very high risk, high reward style of game. He is an excellent skater, possessing great mobility and a very smooth and effortless stride. He displays speed and quickness while showing the ability to move in all four directions equally well. His speed and quickness allows him to take away time and space in a heartbeat and his lateral mobility is outstanding.
Sounds like a non-Godzilla version of Jack Johnson.
Bob Miller's latest article on Michigan's recruiting says the current plan for both Merrill and Knight, along with uber-commit Luke Moffatt, a 2007 first-round pick of Kelowna, is to play for the NTDP the next two years, then hit Yost. Both eligible players would be obvious first round selections if not for their plans to go to Michigan. Merrill is ranked the #2 player available by ISS, while Miller says four separate OHL teams guaranteed Knight a first round slot if he would commit to playing for them.
Four Michigan targets are also draft-eligible; I'll relate what goes down with them next week.
A little of the old in and out. Ekpe Udoh remains at large, maybe transferring, maybe not transferring. Meanwhile, Beilein -- get this -- might be tracking down a top-100, four star point guard from California:
Darius Morris is a basketball player recruiting services such as Rivals.com and Scout.com are enamored with, ranking the junior from Windward among the top 100 prospects in the country and one of the top 15 point guards in the nation. The recognition is warranted too.
Michigan knows this all too well, having kept in constant contact with Morris for quite sometime now, even offering him a scholarship along the way. Not surprisingly, the Wolverines are considered the early front-runner to win his services, according to these quotes.
The "quotes" link goes to a premium Rivals story; suffice it to say that this LA Times blog post ends "it appears as if everyone is trailing Michigan at this point." If Beilein can reel the kid in Morris would be his highest-rated recruit ever.
(For some reason the embedding on these MGoBlue videos doesn't seem to work on the site sometimes; if you can't see anything above, here's a direct link.)
Speaking of Michigan S&
C, a couple readers forwarded along this remarkable passage from the Sports Illustrated vault:
O.K., Mel. Let's give it a try. How about...Greg Skrepenak, enormous offensive tackle, University of Michigan? "The bottom line on Greg Skrepenak, in my opinion, is that he wasn't the true dominant lineman he should have been," says Kiper. "He's not a strong lineman; he's 315 pounds. 320. but he's not doing the 25 reps |he's not bench-pressing 225 pounds the requisite 25 times], he's not attacking and burying people at the line of scrimmage. He only did 16 reps at the scouting-combine workouts, but the problem is at the strength program at Michigan, where they do a lot of machine lifting instead of free weights.... I think Skrepenak will be better once he gets in the NFL than he appears now, which means that someone like the Bears, picking in the latter part of Round One, could be interested in bringing in a guy like that."
Here, Mel was right on: Skrepenak went at the top of the second and took a while before breaking into the Raiders' starting lineup. (He's now the chairman of the Luzerne County board of commissioners, BTW... another life sadly wrecked by the Michigan football program's callous disregard for its players.)
It is always so. Most criticisms of drafting and recruiting rankings boil down to -- as SMQB eloquently puts it -- "Experts suck because Tom Brady," using anecdotes in place of research because research is hard and yammering away is easy. But, like... research:
I've seen versions of these graphs for anything that has a draft -- there was an especially good one for the NHL that I, regretfully, cannot locate -- and they all look remarkably similar: a logarithmic dropoff from a super-high starting point.
Hey... Buzz Bissinger! That was pretty crazy, huh? I've read a lot of stuff about it, but I'm really waiting for Rock M Nation's opinion.
Update: Recruiting sites are reporting otherwise on this.
Sometime today, Bryce McNeal's myspace page went from Cardinal-themed (Arizona or Louisville wasn't clear) to this:
So, hey, that seems... good and stuff. A couple readers now pass along that they've messaged McNeal on various social media sites and he has indeed committed to Michigan. Straight from the horse's mouth, as it were. (The chosen mascot of McNeal's high school is the Broncos.)
McNeal, a 6'2", 175 pound receiver from Breck high school in Minnesota, is #70 in the most recent Rivals 100 and the #11 receiver. Scout is considerably less enthused, giving him three stars and ranking him #40 positionally. ESPN has them on their top 150 watch list but has not evaluated him yet. As noted in the most recent edition of Monday Recruiting, he was on the all-combine team at the Army All-American junior combine:
McNeal showed why he's already picked up some major scholarship offers with a strong showing throughout the entire combine. He was extremely effective in the one-on-one battles, and his combination between speed and hands make him a deadly target.
Highlights (low quality, usual NSFW backing track):
Interview from about a month ago:
Slightly more personable than Manningham.
The larger picture: McNeal is the first outside receiver in this class and will probably be joined by another guy at his position (Texas's Josh Gordon?) and one or two more slot guys depending on where Teric Jones ends up. He's Michigan's fourth Rivals 100 recruit this year.
Recruiting sites have got in touch with McNeal and he has denied a commitment. So, the usual explanation: last night two different people who have emailed me before reported that they had sent McNeal messages on social media sites and he had responded that he had committed. That seemed good enough for me; mea culpa.
I expect this discussion is academic in the long run, in any case.
The second thing that leaps off the page is a number: 62%, which is Beaver's completion percentage last year. From appearances, Beaver did not earn this completion percentage on bubble screens a la Pat White, averaging 9.6 yards per attempt. White was just under 8 last year and he completed 67%. In a number of games his yards per completion was sky-high -- 18 completions for 331 yards, 10 for 190, 12 for 246. The stats indicate a downfield passer. Running is a part of his game, too, as Beaver racked up 433 yards rushing. (Or 454 or 481, depending on who you believe. Something north of 400 and south of 500.)
ESPN's opinion of his performance at an Elite 11 event:
Initially Beaver looked unsure of himself and a bit shy as the Elite 11 kicked off, but as he moved into the second day and stayed for the NFTC event, Beaver began to just play and not think. His arm became more live, and you could see his confidence rise. He is still a project in the passing game, but he is one heck of an athlete and a dual-threat guy who will only improve as a passer.
By the time of his commitment, Beaver had offers from Texas Tech, Nebraska, Clemson, and TCU, which seems a little light for a four-star guy currently in the top 200. ("Numerous others" are mentioned but they're Arizona and the like.) He was leaning towards the Horned Frogs, who've picked up a commitment from one of his teammates, until Michigan hopped in with an offer about a month ago and changed things.
A local newspaper article contains a mind-bendingly ironic quote:
"The coaching staff at Michigan wasn't pressuring me. Ever since they offered, I was thinking someone had to beat out Michigan. And no one did. All the others treated me like I was Tom Brady. Michigan was letting me scout them and I feel comfortable about it. My mom was real happy."
The low pressure approach makes sense since Michigan had several irons in the fire at quarterback, a few of which they may have slightly preferred. Coach quote from the same article:
"He continues to get better and mature and I expect huge things out of him this season," Ponder said. "I'll be surprised if he doesn't have a huge season."
There's ten minutes of Kevin Newsome running around but the only free video on the internet of Beaver is this failed two-point conversion:
Since that game is taking place at the Cowboys' stadium, I assume it is Rider's "heartbreaking" 21-19 loss to Everman in the Region I championship game.
Sadly, Beaver's commitment to Michigan breaks up LSU's shot at a recruiting name dream team; if they want to swap Russell Shepard for him I'm sure we're listening.
Editorial Opinion: Beaver's on the thin side and still developing as a passer, from the looks of it. He didn't have the flashy offers Kevin Newsome does or the universal top-100 ranking. But he seems like a good developmental prospect and someone who will challenge for the starting quarterback job. With Michigan's numbers at QB they really needed two guys with a chance at succeeding. Check and check.
One item worth noting: both Newsome and Beaver are regarded as mobile pass-first sorts, more Donovan McNabb (to take one wildly optimistic comparison point) than Pat White. Hopefully this reassures anyone out there envisioning a system as run-heavy as West Virginia's; Rodriguez appears set on guys who have a chance to run or throw.
Beaver's commitment likely closes the door on Jason Forcier, Eugene Smith, and anyone else Michigan was pursuing as a quarterback only. Several targets are being recruited by other schools as defensive backs or wide receivers and Michigan will probably continue recruiting those players, perhaps with the promise of a shot at quarterback and a move if things don't work out.
Update 4/28: Various things on FL QB Eugene Smith, including a wild brawl and profile, 7-on-7 video. Linked to video of MI WR Hersey Jackson and OH OL Chris Freeman, articles on AZ DE Craig Roh (from VB), TX WR Josh Gordon, IN QB Morgan Newton, OK RB David Oku, MI WR James Jackson (plus OSU speculation), GA QB Donovan Tate, a couple interviews with MN WR Bryce McNeal, note on CA WR Shaquelle Evans. Moved VA QB Kevin Newsome to committed. Added NC WR Jheranie Boyd, SC DE Sam Montgomery (ESPN), NC OL Xavier Nixon, MI LB Jeremy Gainer.
Apparently we just offered OH OL Corey Linsley, but I'm not adding him because I'd need to make some sort of super-nefarious Eduardo if I did; ticketed to OSU. (Update: he committed.) Removed LA DT Chris Davenport (dropped us), MN WR Fritz Rock (no mutual interest).
There's also this ESPN article with notes on OK CB Gabe Lynn and TX QB Shavodrick Beaver.
Editorial Opinion: Huzzah for the nation's #2 dual-threat quarterback, and double-huzzah because Kevin Newsome's commitment appears to have accelerated the timetables for other Michigan quarterback targets looking to have a seat when the music stops. As Varsity Blue notes, GBW's Sam Webb floated the possibility that Michigan would have QB #2 in the fold by the end of the week on WTKA.
Candidate #1: Texan Shavodrick Beaver, who was looking all wrapped up for TCU until Michigan stepped forth with an offer and caused TCU message boards to implode. A quick read between the lines indicates Beaver's offered some highly pro-Michigan quotes to the paysites, and time may be short for TCU to make up ground. Rivals teaser($):
For four-star dual-threat quarterback Shavodrick Beaver, a decision may not be too far off.
Is Beaver Ready to Make the Call?
Initially Beaver looked unsure of himself and a bit shy as the Elite 11 kicked off, but as he moved into the second day and stayed for the NFTC event, Beaver began to just play and not think. His arm became more live, and you could see his confidence rise. He is still a project in the passing game, but he is one heck of an athlete and a dual-threat guy who will only improve as a passer.
He's not an afterthought.
Candidate #2: Californian Tate Forcier, he of the "we can get all the tight... WRs" myspace comment to Kevin Newsome. Forcier, of course, is the brother of former Michigan quarterback (and alternate universe starters) Jason. He's got a teaser of his own. The general opinion of the internet -- and something that's pretty easy to read between the lines -- is that Forcier is Michigan's #1 target now that Newsome has been secured, but if Beaver wants to commit they aren't willing to wait on Forcier. He might have to jump first.
Would he? There is some buzz that he actually would. Penn State is supposed to be a prime competitor for Forcier, which indicates a willingness to leave the West Coast and play in the Big Ten. As far as potential competitors go, a rudderless team that may or may not boot its coach this year or next and just finished turning Anthony Morelli from a five-star prospect into an "acutely undercoached," undrafted free agent is as good as it gets. UCLA and Oregon and some other West Coast schools are also in the running.
He reminds me of two different quarterbacks: Drew Tate and Jeff Garcia. Both were smallish scramblers with tons of moxie; Tate was exclusively a buy-time kind of guy while Garcia was prone to take off when it seemed like a good idea. Forcier is evidently in the latter camp with over 500 yards rushing last year.
Candidate #3: Floridian Eugene Smith. Smith was the subject of an immensely long article($) from FloridaVarsity.com, Rivals' program-agnostic Florida HS site, in which he had a lot of very nice things to say about Michigan. Smith seems like a nice, balanced kid in this video profile from the Sun-Sentinel even though his team gets in a wild "you don't come into the O.B."-style brawl towards the end. I believe that cost him and a lot of other players on his team three-game suspensions, but that hasn't stopped college recruiters from coming after him. Here's some fluff.
Smith is also a Rivals 250 member and is probably #3 on the pecking order behind Forcier and in front of Beaver. The catch with him is he does not seem inclined to make an early decision, so if all goes well Michigan will fill up before he gets around to it. At that point Michigan would have to mak
e a hard decision about whether to spend a third slot in this class on a quarterback and somehow manage to keep all three. That's unlikely. (Michigan may bring in a third player who they have promised a shot at quarterback before a move to wide receiver or defensive back; Murray is a QB all the way.)
Non-quarterback items. I lie. One more quarterback item:
Western Branch's Kevin Newsome could rank this weekend as one of his best.
Earlier this week, Newsome â€“ one of the nation's top quarterbacks â€“ verbally committed to play football at Michigan. On Saturday, Newsome led the Bruins' 400 relay to the large schools title.
The foursome of Jeffrey Artis, Tory Womack, Olimas Robison and Newsome ran 42.01.
It was the ninth fastest high school time of the afternoon. Nansemond River was in the same heat and ran 42.19 to place fourth.
Now: actual items about actual non quarterbacks.
Hopefully TX WR Josh Gordon is a really frickin' awesome player that Michigan hasn't had the chance to evaluate yet, because...
The Wolverines are definitely in the catbird seat here and Gordon went as far as to say, "if Michigan gave me an offer I'd commit."
...yeah. Gordon has offers from Texas A&M, Nebraska, Missouri, Arizona, and Houston and is a big (6'4") loping outside receiver type who would not compete with any of the zillion slot guys Michigan's recruited over the past few months; he plans on camping and will be a name to watch. Indications he might be kinda awesome follow.
He was amongst the most impressive wideouts at the Army All-American Combine:
Gordon, who checks in at about 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, [or 6'3" according to Rivals elsewhere or 6'5" according to Gordon himself... grade inflation -ed] was the most natural pass catcher of the bunch. He possesses soft hands and fluid movement. Defensive backs were helpless to stop him all day because he would either shield them from the ball with his body or leave them behind with precise patterns. Gordon also posted one of the top vertical jumps in the entire combine.
Gordon's performance was cut short when he got nicked up halfway through the one-on-one portion of the combine, but he had served notice long before that and should be one of the more heavily recruited receivers in the country before all is said and done.
He and fellow Michigan recruit Bryce McNeal were the receivers on the All-Combine team:
McNeal showed why he's already picked up some major scholarship offers with a strong showing throughout the entire combine. He was extremely effective in the one-on-one battles, and his combination between speed and hands make him a deadly target. Gordon was extremely impressive during the one-on-ones. He did go down late with a slight hamstring tweak, but that was about the only thing that stopped him. Using his amazing frame, he was a very difficult matchup for defensive backs, and he won almost every single one-on-one battle he went through.
Miscellania: this Houston Chronicle video of a 42-20 playoff victory doesn't have much in the way of spectacular Gordon plays but it is set to "November Rain," which has to be a first, and indicates that the Lamar mascot is some sort of horrifying version of Chief Wahoo in blackface; there's also this from Gordon's sophomore year, with two long catches, one a touchdown, the other a fumble, in a 17-16 loss for Lamar. (You know how I know Michigan's been recruiting a lot of kids from Houston? I recognize Sam Khan, the Chronicle reporter from these videos, on sight. "Oh, it's Sam Khan back to talk to me about a Houston-area high school football game," I think, and my mother weeps a little inside.) He claims to be feeling 'insubordinate' on his (shockingly tasteful) myspace page; he also claims to be 88 years old.
Speaking of Bryce McNeal, the Minnesota wide receiver floated up to #70 in Rivals' revised top 100, and I ran across a couple interviews with him at the "GopherHole," which is not Caddyshack porn but is rather a Minnesota fansite. One's from January and not that useful; the one from March, on the other hand:
GH: What are your top schools?
BM: I've been very secretive, all I can say is that Michigan and Minnesota are in the top 5.
GH: Tell me about your Michigan visit?
BM: It was nice out there, I was there for 4 or 5 hours on my way back from a 7 on 7 tournament in Akron, Ohio. I sat down and talked to Coach (Rich) Rodriguez for about an hour or hour and half. I also sat down and talked to Coach (Tony) Dews , who is the receiver coach. I sat in the receiver position meeting. I met the offensive coordinator, Coach (Calvin) Magee . I also talked to the strength and conditioning coach. They all seemed like good guys.
GH: Does it worry you that Rodriguez is in his first year at Michigan?
BM: No, not really. He comes from West Virginia which is also a good program.
GH: What did you talk to Coach Rodriguez about?
BM: We went over everything, football, life, and his experience with West Virginia, and also talked about where I sit in the offensive scheme.
GH: Where do you sit?
BM: I would start out playing the split receiver, and I would get a chance to learn the slot and other positions.
GH: Did he tell you you'd be able to play as a freshman?
BM: He said that if guys could come in and play well, they'd play. If you can prove yourself as a freshman, you can play. If you show them you can take on the offensive scheme, you will start, if not they'll red-shirt you.
GH: What do you like about Rodriguez? How does he differ from Brewster?
BM: He and Coach Brewster are actually very alike. When it comes down to talking to them, they're both energetic, good guys, and keep it real.
That block of M-related questioning is about 10x the length of passages on anyone else, probably a good sign. Also interesting that they're not looking at him in the slot. Also super-weird that he didn't remember Mike "Eeee" Barwis's name.
Later, McNeal mentions that his girlfriend, Tayler Hill, is also going through the recruiting process (the article does not specify for what; a quick googling shows she's a basketball player ranked #12 in the country) and that there's one school both are interested in. It's not specified, but it is mentioned that it's part of his "top three," which kinda implies that it's not either of the UMs. I know f-all about women's basketball but UConn's like the Darth Vader of it and she appears to be OMG tasteful nudity as a basketball recruit, so maybe that's it.
And you can interpret this however you want, but fellow MN WR Fritz Rock just saw his offer yoinked because he wouldn't commit. According to the GopherHole's main recruiting correspondent, Minnesota is looking for two receivers and has one already committed. Would you push a lower-ranked kid to commit, even going so far as to deliver an ultimatum, if you thought you had a real shot at McNeal? I dunno. That implies to me that Minnesota is getting a courtesy listing and McNeal is favoring Michigan significantly. This, of course, is speculation based on circumstantial evidence and should not be used as a justification to string me up should McNeal go somewhere else.
Rock, by the way, was dropped from the board since there appears to be little mutual interest between him and Michigan.
Other names are popping up; some clarifications and corrections:
- On the two instate Jacksons: Hersey is just now gathering his first offers from places like Central Michigan and Cincinnati and appears to be a three-star camp offer type if he ends up getting offered at all. James is fast as hell and has offers from M, OSU, Alabama, Tennessee, UCLA, and others, but was pretty close with the previous Michigan staff:
Jackson added that he might already be a Wolverine verbal if the former staff was still in Ann Arbor, "I got a really good vibe from the old coaching staff at Michigan. To tell you the truth, I probably would have committed there if they were still there. I have to get a better feel now for the new staff."
You'd think part of his desire to commit to Michigan was the school and all it entails, but Ohio State fans are pretty confident. Apparently Bucknuts has picked up not one but two current OSU players/recruits (WTF is up with OSU and players interacting with recruiting sites?) who feed their free board with information. They usually keep it vague enough so that the recruits they predict commits from don't get baby's special day ruined, but they've been accurate in the past; they're legit.
Anyway, both these guys have chimed in that they think Jackson ends up at OSU, as has Bill Kurelic. We'll see. Jackson is a small fast slot guy and might see a spot for him in Rodriguez's offense that only kinda-sorta exists at OSU. Looks like we have catching up to do, though.
That's what I'm saying. Pierre Woods' final season in a Michigan uniform remains a mystery to everyone, including his current coach. Asked about the difference between third-round pick Shawn Crable, now a Patriot, and undrafted Pierre Woods, Bill Belicheck seemed as befuddled as us:
BB: Woods was one of the top players in the country as a sophomore. He didn't play as a senior. You'd have to ask Michigan why they didn't play him, or maybe they thought they had better players. I don't know. That's a question they'd have to answer. Athletically, he was an astounding player as a sophomore. I think he got some... the same thing as a junior and then he didn't play much as a senior.
This is a semi-accurate recollection. Woods (68 tackles, 13 TFL, 7 sacks) was possibly the best player on Michigan's defense and an All Big Ten performer his sophomore year. But whatever off-field issues he had started then and his playing time was severely curtailed as a junior, only playing in nine games and seeing his stats dip to 22 tackles and 2 TFLs with no sacks. It was more of the same as a senior, only more maddening: just nine games played and 24 tackles but 9 TFLs and 2.5 sacks; when injuries to Woodley and Biggs left Michigan no other choice but to play Woods extensively against Iowa he had 4 tackles, 2 TFL, a sack, and a pass breakup along with a ton of other pressure. No reasonable observer could have thought Woods wasn't worth starting, if not on the defensive line -- where Pat Massey was busy moonwalking as Alan Branch played out of position at DE -- then at linebacker where Michigan's starters on the outside were the horrible sophomore versions of Chris Graham, Prescott Burgess, and Shawn Crable.
We don't know exactly what his problems were. Carr probably stretched his boundaries to the limit to keep him on the team and, in that, did him a big favor. But if he's on the team, and he's better than the other people who are on the team, what was the point of not starting him?
Belicheck went on to compare the situation to that of Tom Brady, but this is more of the same inaccurate legend-making that had him "not even a starter" in college. Brady had just under 80% of Michigan's passing attempts his senior year and while it's true Michigan played Henson from time to time, 30 of Henson's 90 attempts came in blowouts against Rice, Purdue, and Northwestern and another 28(!), oddly, came in a narrow road win over Syracuse in which Brady only had 10 attempts. I don't remember that at all; all I remember from that game was Michigan playing a frustrating, disjointed game and CBS providing the worst camerawork I've ever seen. Anyway, outside of that Syracuse game Henson had about 30 meaningful attempts. Which is kinda weird, sure.
!!!!! A lot of weird stuff went down at the draft this weekend. I'm not so arrogant to assume I know better than NFL people unless we're talking about Matt Ryan, but of the Michigan draftees only three didn't surprise me with their placement: Long, Henne, and Crable. I guess Manningham's slide is understandable with his status as this year's Wonderlic booby prize and obvious fondness for weed.
But things I just don't understand:
- Arrington going so low. Rangy, sure handed, and seemingly fast enough, I thought he was a little less proven than Avant and would be a third or fourth round pick when he declared; it quickly became clear that this was overrating him.
- Ditto Hart. He ran slow, as anyone on the planet could have told you would happen. Injury issues, etc; still thought he was a third-fourth round sort.
- Jamar Adams is undrafted. Ryan "Yards After" Mundy goes in the sixth round. Barwis be praised.
The Mundy thing is what really gets me. He was so bad that -- in my speculative opinion -- Michigan cut him loose after his fourth year in the program, which is unprecedented for a kid who's seen extensive time as a starter. Mundy squeezes himself into a rapidly-closing loophole and manages to transfer to West Virginia without penalty, where he becomes a decent starter on a good defense and is drafted. To play in the NFL. You know, the professional football thingy. If you could have bet on that last year, what would the odds have been?
Our dearest friend. A former NFL scout on new Arizona Cardinal FA Anthony Morelli:
"He has all the tools you look for in a QB; an athletic body, very strong throwing arm and far better movement then I had expected, but is acutely undercoached and unprepared for the job of being a professional QB."
"Acutely undercoached"... does anything sum up Penn State better than those two words?
Gentlemen. Hey, guess what?
Melvin Fellows had been the most prominent Ohio high school football player in the Class of 2009 to escape the grasp of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, but with a phone call over his lunch break today, Fellows changed all that.
The Garfield Heights defensive end informed Tressel that he was switching his oral commitment from Illinois to the Buckeyes, delivering a blow to the Illini and bringing OSU's growing class to 12 pledges.
Joe Tiller's full of crap.
Also full of crap, the Columbus Dispatch, which claimed Lloyd Carr facilitated Justin Boren's transfer to OSU:
"That's a lie," Carr said through school spokesman Bruce Madej.
Bleah. Sick day taken. Enjoy this 1/3rd of a UV; I'll be back monday.
I shoot them in the head.* UMHoops points to two pieces on St. John's transfer Larry Wright, a 40% three-point shooter from Saginaw who's returning home after two years in NYC. He'll be going to school somewhere in state, according to Eric Lacey:
"He told me he doesn't want to leave the state of Michigan," said Dawkins, who has already spoken to Oakland coach Greg Kampe about Wright. "So that's a good sign."
Wright is returning to Michigan because his mother has had serious back surgery and will attempt to get a waiver to play next year. Is he Big Ten caliber? Failing that, is he Michigan caliber? (ZING!) St John's hoops blog East Coast Bias thinks so:
St. John's fans are pissed. PISSED, because we're losing Larry Wright. He was on his way to becoming a cult hero; but unlike other fan favorites, this isn't a case of that scrappy walk-on kid who plays tough defense and just makes plays. Larry Wright was possibly the team's best scorer and certainly the most accurate shooter, and the justifiable focus of the fans/ message boards' "Free Larry Wright" posts.
There's much, much more in a gargantu-post on Wright; his game sounds like a good fit for Beilein's system:
As for Larry's game, he shoots deep shots in the flow of the offense and doesn't overdribble. If he doesn't have his shot, he looks for the next man. He tends to shoot from around the top of the key, but last year his some of his memorable shots from the corner (I think the Notre Dame game, his last shot was from the right corner? Correct me if wrong). When he gets the ball, he seems ready to shoot or drive, and if he's blanketed, he doesn't force it. he doesn't take his man off the dribble often, but he's probably quick enough to do so. ...
Larry Wright isn't the second coming. He is a role player, for sure, and limited in some ways; but that role is an essential one for every single basketball team; the guy who can score in bunches and won't hurt you in other ways on the court. He could be a potential star and with more regular time, I expect his outside shooting percentages to go up.
Michigan needs a shooter. Correction: Michigan needs 3-5 shooters. Wright appears to be a shooter and got 9 PPG in under 20 minutes in the Big East. He's going to a school in the state of Michigan. Git er done.**
*(reference explanation: I used to watch David Letterman in high school. Once, Laurence Fishburne was on the show promoting his latest gangster movie and somehow the conversation turned to if he preferred "Laurence" or "Larry," he obviously said "Laurence." Letterman asked "what do you do to people who call you Larry?" and Fishburne replied "I shoot them in the head.")
**(you have permission to shoot me in the head.)
Virginia quarterback Kevin Newsome has gone from "very probably a commit in the near future" to "guy who just committed." Divers alarums. Quote:
I really believe Michigan is the Godfather of college football and that's what makes the Michigan-Ohio State game so notorious.
Hopefully he will make opponents kiss the ring.
I since Monday Recruitin' was heavily focused on Newsome, let that suffice as his google-stalking. There is also this piece from Conquering Heroes that fills in some additional blanks. ESPN's opinion:
Newsome is an impressive overall athlete to watch. As a quarterback, he reminds us a little of Cameron Newton at Florida and while Newton has more height and is further along as a passer, Newsome is a better runner and athlete. ... He is a player that can make plays on the move rolling right or left. ... He is a "street-ball" type of QB right now, with very little polish. Mechanically, he can be very inconsistent-- gets by on athleticism alone. ... Footwork, timing and patience through his progressions will help his development as a passer.
Newsome is Michigan's third recruit in the top 50 and the first of two or three quarterback recruits they'll bring in this year.
Side note: I mentioned Tuesday that I thought both running back recruits would eventually pick up four stars; when Rivals released an updated 250 neither was present. This isn't surprising when it comes to Teric Jones, who is just a fast kid who went to a combine and will have to prove his ability on the field this fall. Fitzgerald Toussaint, however, has a body of work already and didn't make it. A pestered Rivals analyst suggested horrible grades might be holding his rating back, which is bad in two ways. One: it's likely bunk since that didn't stop them from rating Jerrelle Powe, who's in his fifteenth year of trying to get into Ole Miss, highly. They just don't think that much of his talent. Two: horrible grades, would obviously preclude him from matriculating unless he can get them up to NCAA minimums. Adjust your recruiting faces a little on the frowny side, and then be like "hey, we have a top-50 dual threat quarterback" and adjust them to Creepy Enzyte Guy levels.