don't we all
Hello! We've been fortunate enough to have John Kryk, the Toronto Sun's NFL columnist, write for HTTV these last few years. Kryk is an invaluable resource when it comes to the early days of college football and has applied that expertise to a book about the intense rivalry between Fielding Yost and Amos Alonzo Stagg around the turn of the 20th century.
What follows is an excerpt from that book detailing Willie Heston's seventh-year-senior season, and the fights it set off.
Willie Heston (right) returned for a fourth and final season as a Wolverine in 1904. After graduating from the University of Michigan with a law degree in the (then) requisite three years, he studied literature in a tag-on semester.
Amos Alonzo Stagg -- the University of Chicago’s head football coach, athletic director, faculty head of physical education and self-appointed cleanser of Midwestern college sport -- disapproved. Although Stagg had had players at UC who similarly squeezed out every drop of eligibility, and he himself had played sports for six years at Yale (and even suited up for the Maroons in their inaugural 1892 season), he couldn’t resist slamming Michigan and Heston in the Chicago Evening Post on September 27: “The maroon coach cited the case of a rival institution that had a graduate return to take a post-season law course [sic] so that his great value could be utilized in the football eleven this fall.”
Stagg’s hypocrisy aside, this was after all Heston’s seventh season of college football, after three previous at a California teachers college now known as San Jose State University. But that experience at San Jose Normal never counted against Heston’s four years, presumably because of the conference rule that discounted any experience a student might gain at a college whose academics, or even just its football, were of a particularly low order. The conference arbiter, Clarence Waldo, in these years tabulated the Big Nine’s official list of colleges that did make the academic or football grade, and evidently San Jose Normal did not qualify.
Despite being injured in an elevator in St. Louis that summer, Heston probably was healthier in his senior season than he’d been since 1901. As Michigan’s opponents lamented.
In Michigan’s third game, a 95-0 obliteration of vastly overmatched Kalamazoo College in just 40 minutes of play, Heston might have rushed for more single-game yards than any running back before or since, at any level of college football. “As usual, Willie Heston’s performance was the headliner of the matinee,” the Michigan Daily reported. “A review of the game shows that the captain advanced the ball during the afternoon 515 yards — considerably more than a quarter mile.” Heston continually broke away on long gains and scored six of Michigan’s 16 touchdowns, four on runs of 65, 70, 85 and 65 yards.
How fast was Heston? The fastest man in the world in 1904 just happened to be a fellow UM student — Archie Hahn. At the Summer Games in St. Louis that year, the “Milwaukee Meteor” became the first man to win the Olympic sprint double: gold medals in both the 100 and 200 meters. Back then there was a 60-meter dash too, and Hahn won a third gold in that race. Two years later, Hahn won the Olympic 100 metres again. In 1901 he had tied the world record in the 100-yard dash (9 4/5ths seconds) and set a world record of 21.6 seconds in 200-meter straightaway dash, a race long since discontinued.
Michigan’s nationally respected track and field coach, Keene Fitzpatrick, doubled as the Wolverine football trainer. He marvelled at Heston’s breakaway speed and had this idea to help Hahn with his: pit the two men against one another in 100-yard match races on campus. Fitz did so some 200 times. Heston led Hahn at 30 to 40 yards every time. “At that point,” Heston recalled, “I could hear him go by.” Heston occasionally pressed Hahn to the finish but never beat him.
By 1904 Heston had refined his abilities as a running back that would have made him a standout in any era. His stiff-arms were viciously effective, with either arm. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, he was stout enough to be an effective inside power runner. Perhaps best of all, and to a “remarkable degree” as a Michigan sports historian wrote in 1948, Heston was able to “maintain his feet” upon being hit, or leaping, or spinning, or making a harsh cut. “Willie Heston always ran low, with a wide-spread, pumping knee action. He had a cat-like ability to land on his feet, no matter how hard he was hit, his legs still driving forward.” He was unafraid to hurdle sprawled players, or low-charging tacklers — such as Eckersall in the 1903 UM-UC game. Heston first coined the phrase that became a mantra for running backs in the first half of the 20th century: “Use your searchlights and jump the dead ones.”
By 1904 Yost had tired of defending Heston’s strong play on the other side of the ball. Asked by a reporter in October if Heston was as good on defense as he was on offense, Yost “without thinking” quipped: “Why, really, I don’t know. None of my backs has made a tackle this year.”
[After THE JUMP: "a long ton of meat and bone and the thing moved with an average velocity of about eight yards a second"]
SUMMER OF HARBAUGH PLUS FIVE MINUTE KLINSMANN RANT
Top five best Harbaugh things of the summer. Partial consensus. I give myself exactly five minutes to thunk my head about the Gold Cup, and I tell you when they start so you can fast forward if you're so mad
Vincent talks Team Gardens and fall camp and tells Fred Jackson stories.
We have our first-ever sponsor so what do we do? We have her on for a segment that starts out ridiculous and goes down/uphill from there.
If you're around Ann Arbor you have a 50/50 chance of knowing Liz (E.T.) Crowe (t: @beerwencha2) personally, but for the other half and people not from around these parts, Liz is a best-selling, (usually sports-themed, not exactly censored) fiction author, Ann Arbor real estate agent, craft brew consultant and blogger, and mom times three. She will be backing the Podcast this year so we can keep making it, and we had her on for a special entire segment in this one as an introduction. During the season we'll have briefer bits with her.
Where Michigan stands and where they may go.
"Across 110th Street"
"Sad Penance Raps," Open Mike Eagle
"Playing Your Game, Baby", Barry White
"I'm Not Part Of Me," Cloud Nothings
THE USUAL LINKS
Fuller – MGoBlog
For the second time in three years, John Beilein scrambled to fill some scholarships late in the recruiting cycle due to unexpected early draft entrees. The first time, he landed Caris LeVert – who’s since blossomed into perhaps the best NBA prospect Michigan’s had in years – and Spike Albrecht, already a cult hero among Michigan fans. The next duo to commit late in the process was Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman: the two weren’t ready early in the year, but were thrust into big roles after key season-ending injuries to two starters. Abdur-Rahkman hardly played before Derrick Walton injured his foot; he was nearly indispensible afterwards:
Partially because Michigan was down to just two scholarship guards, Abdur-Rahkman’s minutes on the bench (usually due to first-half foul trouble) usually meant that Michigan would struggle to stay afloat in that time – Dakich and Lonergan weren’t ever meant to play many (if any) high-leverage Big Ten minutes, but they did. For example, consider Abdur-Rahkman’s best game, an efficient 18-point performance in a loss against MSU. When Rahk picked up his second foul with about ten minutes left in the first half, Michigan led by seven; when he returned to the court after halftime, Michigan was down five. They lost in OT.
To appreciate Rahk’s value – which doesn’t show up in his traditional or advanced metrics (low ORtg, TO rate > Assist rate, 29% from three, etc.) – consider the rotation guards Beilein’s had at Michigan. Of those, there are precious few plus defenders: Rahkman is likely on his way to becoming one, but Michigan hasn’t had a nominal stopper since Stu Douglass graduated. After so many offense-first guards and swingmen, having a guy who you can really trust on defense is another arrow in Beilein’s strategic quiver. Judging defensive value is always somewhat of a crapshoot, but it’s rather clear that – outside of a healthy Walton, perhaps – Abdur-Rahkman could very well be the best defender on the team.* If he improves his three-point shooting, he’ll be a strong candidate to retain his role, even with Michigan’s increased depth across the board.
*Caris LeVert’s defensive value is speculative at best, though he does have the most potential on that end of the floor for the next level. Besides, very few offensive focal points have enough energy to be similarly impactful on defense, especially in college.
[Hit the JUMP for more Rahkman talk]
Right now, this very second, it is July. July is when nothing football happens (Canadians don't count) except BBQs, recruiting, and maybe some reading.
But in a few days, it won't be July. It will be August. August is when some football things are happening. And the real football things are, like, actually close enough you can start thinking about them without having to say to yourself: "Self, it's still more than a month until football."
So a week from Friday, that is 8/7/2015, at 7 p.m. (like it says above), we're going to sit in a bookstore with our HTTVs open, and we are going to talk about our football things, right out in the open. We will not temper our discussion with "this is all more than four weeks away." We will not preface things with "I know it won't be for awhile until we know this for sure but…" We will not speak of Maryland receivers as if there's only a 15 percent chance they're still on the roster by the time Michigan travels there.
In August, we can talk. We can talk about the football.
- Brian will give a presentation on Harbaugh's offense.
- MGoBlog staffers yelling "Harbaugh!" at each other.
- Probably a Draftageddon argument about whose Ohio State slot receiver was a better choice.
- Profuse apologizing for having this argument, followed by a making up ritual that involves yelling "Harbaugh" at each other.
- Jim Harbaugh, but only on the odd chance he happens to be walking by at that moment, sees a book with his photo on it, and comes in to see if there really is a cult someone formed around him and whether he can somehow use it to make better football.
- Other MGoBlog readers who look nothing like their Avatars.
No gate. No bars to entry. Free to the public.
Have a middle-schooler? I mean in a parenting way, not a hostage way. Don't take child hostages. I shouldn't have to tell my readers this but some of you probably tweet recruits, so you have to be told everything.
Anyway, Jordan Morgan's having a camp for seventh and eighth graders:
Details and registration at Morgan's website. Don't tweet at recruits or take child hostages.
Photo day, 1993. Featuring hirsute Eli Zaret.
Via Dr. Sap, naturally.
How are watchlists going, then? Like this.
Yes, but interesting since it's this guy. Disney CEO on the future of ESPN, which it owns:
“I think eventually ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumers,” Mr. Iger said.
ESPN, which is majority-owned by Disney, could use information from that direct consumer relationship to customize its product and enable more personalization, which will engage fans in a “much more effective way,” he said.
Mr. Iger cautioned that such an offering is not “right around the corner”; even five years down the line, he believes there won’t have been “significant change” in the pay TV business.
Except in scale, which will continue to contract as more and more people who don't care about sports figure out they couldn't get through their Netflix queue without turning into a TV hermit.
But you're a robot. Nick Saban on romance:
Lots of life lessons in the new Nick Saban biography. pic.twitter.com/l2MFUy07vm
— Ben Cohen (@bzcohen) July 27, 2015
I have no idea what to do with this. So I have given it to you, to boggle and gawk at.
Some confirmation. There was a report on the board a few days ago that Dennis Norfleet would be seeking a transfer to Tuskegee. We couldn't confirm it on any open social media channels, but it was a weird enough location that it seemed true. And it appears he's at least exploring the possibility:
A spokesman at Tuskegee University told MLive on Monday afternoon that the university received official permission to speak with Norfleet about a potential transfer to the school over the weekend.
I'll be here by the seaside waiting for a return that will never come.
Further adventures in Steve Patterson. They include being so cheap that one of your football assistant coaches ends up having a trial during football season, but this is the moment when Michael Scott goes to a customer and kills it:
Patterson says he believes he knew what [Jimmy] Sexton was up to. “I’ve known Jimmy for 30 years,” he says. “I told him if he wanted to come here and drink bourbon and eat barbecue and talk about Saban, that’d be fine. But I told him not to come here if he just wanted to get Saban an extension and a raise at Alabama, which I thought was his intention all along.
“Of course, Jimmy took great affront to that, which is fine. He was just doing his job. But that was the end of the conversation. I never talked to Saban and we never made an offer.”
Correct, Steve Patterson. It's especially impressive since the rest of the article is filled with star-struck Longhorns thinking "THIS IS TEXAS" and believing Jimmy Sexton's crap about how there's too much pressure to win at Alabama. People lost their damn minds when Sexton came around with his old song and dance.
Well done not screwing around with that and locking down Charlie Strong, Steve Patterson. Not well done: everything else.
This is a reason Hoosiers is good. I agree with Rodger Sherman that Famous Movie Hoosiers hasn't aged well, especially when the integrated team shows up, but I mean come on:
Gene Hackman plays the role of Norman Dale, the down-on-his-luck coach that we're supposed to be sympathetic towards. We find out that he used to coach in college, then was in the Navy. Then later, we find out that the reason he got fired from his college job is because... he hit a kid.
At the beginning of the movie, it's tough to find out why we should like Dale. He's not presented as funny or likable or charismatic or even nice.
Then, we find out that he punched one of his players, and he goes from a mediocre guy I don't care about to somebody I strongly dislike. Dale was an authority figure who used physical force against a person he was supposed to protect and nurture, which in my opinion is the least sympathetic type of person in the world.
I kind of think this should be a one-strike-and-you're-out deal. If you don't have the self-control to avoid hitting kids, you shouldn't be allowed to coach kids anymore, ever. I want this person to fail and think the people of Hickory are bad people for letting this person coach their children.
A lot of times, a character with obvious flaws redeems those flaws over the course of a movie. But Dale never conquers his anger issues, consistently putting his assistant coaches -- one of whom has a heart disease, one of whom is an alcoholic attempting to recover, both of which are types of people who shouldn't be subjected to unnecessary, sudden amounts of stress -- in charge.
Dale is presented as a jerk and remains a jerk all film long. Are we supposed to be proud that all he did was yell at the players and refs and didn't actually hit anybody?
That the head coach and pretty-much main character in the movie is a nearly unredeemed jerko is probably historically accurate. It is also a more accurate representation of life—people don't change much—than any of the Angels In The "Lidz" Store movies that Sherman apparently keeps in a constant rotation at SB Nation headquarters.
This impression only grows stronger because Sherman's next criticism is that there is no montage scene where all the players decide they're going to honor their dead grandmothers and/or General MacArthur. Hoosiers is not The Mighty Ducks. This is not a problem.
3. Which program will emerge as a potential Top 10 team?
Michigan. … John Beilein's team is a bit of an afterthought heading into next season. It won't stay that way for long. Walton, LeVert, Spike Albrecht, and Zak Irvin (77 made 3-point shots last season) give this team a savvy and experienced perimeter while both Aubrey Dawkins and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman got valuable minutes last season as freshman. Ricky Doyle, D.J. Wilson, and Mark Donnal should stabilize the post and if the Wolverines can get more out of the “stretch four” position they should be loaded for bear.
It should be a fun year for a lot of reasons. Probably not hockey-related ones.
Too soon. Toys R Us appears headed to bankruptcy, or at best a near miss:
Insurance companies are cutting back on their coverage of Toys “R” Us Inc. suppliers, bringing another headache to a retailer that has suffered more than two years of losses, people familiar with the matter said.
Coface SA and Euler Hermes Group, which sell credit insurance to vendors, are canceling some policies and declining to renew others, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn’t public. The carriers may still negotiate with some vendors to keep providing some coverage, one of the people said.
Losing coverage could raise concerns for toy suppliers as they weigh the risks of shipping to the retail chain, which scrapped plans for an initial public offering in 2013. Credit insurance protects suppliers in case a retailer fails to pay them for merchandise, as in the event of a bankruptcy.
Unfortunately this is too early to point the finger at Dave Brandon and scream "j'accuse!" It does seem like he was brought into an insoluble situation to take the fall, which is a nice karma thing.
Really. I'm typing this blind since my eyeballs have rolled so far back in my head that you can touch my optical nerve:
Don't touch my optical nerve, or take child hostages, or tweet recruits, or let Rutgers in the Big Ten.
Etc.: Wolverine Historian updates his A-Train tribute. Piesman Trophy is go. Bowl games don't spring teams to better seasons. Talking with John Wangler. Talking with Tyler Motte. BRING YOUR CHAMPIONS. Michigan-shaped biscuits? I'm listening. IS MY WIFE THOUGH?
John Beilein landed his third commit of the 2016 class this afternoon when Pickerington (OH) Central swingman Ibi Watson tweeted his decision to join the program. Watson blew up during the latest evaluation period, earning offers from Indiana and Michigan in the process. He joins big men Jon Teske and Austin Davis in the class.
|3* SF||NR SG||3*, 79, #41 SG||
3*, 87, #41 SG,
3*, #39 SG,
Watson is a low three-star or unranked on the recruiting services, though we'll see if that holds up when the rankings are updated to reflect his spring and summer performances; as you'll see, he's been very good of late.
Rivals, ESPN, and 247 all list Watson at 6'4", 180 pounds. Scout has him an inch taller and ten pounds lighter. He's got the look of a two-guard who could play the three if he fills out.
There was pretty much nothing out there on Watson until the spring. The only report I can find on him from before the most recent evaluation period is at Land Grant Holy Land. They caught him last spring's Spiece Run-n-Slam, where he made a sigificant impact off the bench:
On a team full of superstars, Athens sophomore wing guard Ibi Watson can fly under the radar with King James Shooting Stars. After an impressive showing all weekend long in Fort Wayne, Watson should not be overlooked much longer. Averaging 7.8 points per game for the tournament (second on the team), all while coming off the bench, Watson showed an increased ability to finish strongly at the rim, while also continuing to be a confident perimeter shooter.
One thing about Watson's game that I was consistently impressed with was the 6-foot-4 guard's increased athleticism and decision-making. King James' highest IQ wing, Watson rarely turned the ball over, while refusing to settle for low-percentage shots. Helping lead the King James rally late in Sunday's championship game, Watson made several key plays on both ends of the floor, showing the confidence that King James' coaching staff has in the rising-junior combo-guard.
This May, Watson led the All Ohio Red AAU squad to a tournament win in the All-Ohio Nike Super 16 with a 41-point onslaught in the title game. As he garnered increased recruiting attention, he stood out at Michigan's College Practice Camp, per Dylan from UMHoops:
The Pickerington native had a great camp. He’s a smooth and explosive wing who plays for All-Ohio Red and was part of the reason that John Beilein gave out a shout out to the Columbus players in attendance. Watson can hit the triple or attack off the bounce and played well throughout the camp.
Watson earned MVP honors at the Best of the South tournament in June over his more heralded teammates, per HoopSeen:
Ibi Watson, 2016 SG, All-Ohio Red: From Wednesday to Sunday, Watson may have been the most consistent player throughout the entire tournament, ending in him being awarded the 17U MVP. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard was a threat from behind the three-point line with his shooting ability, but he showed spurts of his sneaky athleticism with some plays at the rim. He consistently hit shots and made smart plays for his teammates. Watson’s MVP award speaks volumes about his play over the course of the week, as he plays alongside Michigan State commit Nick Ward and Dayton commit Trey Landers.
He was also All-Ohio Red's top performer at the NY2LA Sports Summer Jam, where they took home the tournament title:
Watson lifted All-Ohio Red to the 17U finals with an 18-point performance during a semifinal win over Playground Elite. Watson was also instrumental in the title game victory over Boise Hoop Dreams. Scoring 12 points, Watson also turned the game with a couple of back-breaking baskets to end scoring droughts and put a stop to two large Boise Hoop Dream runs. Watson was also active defensively, blocking and altering shots and getting on the glass.
As the EYBL season got under way recently, Watson continued to pick up steam while playing in front of coaches from Michigan and Indiana, per Rivals' Sean Williams ($):
Wisconsin Playground Elite controlled much of the first half and held a 28-22 lead at the half, but that's when All-Ohio Red came storming back with the help of shooting guard Ibi Watson, who dropped 17 points as his team lit up the second half and secured a 69-58 victory.
The 6-foot-4 Watson showed off his full arsenal of talents by dropping three 3-point field goals, driving to the basket and creating, being active on the glass, and using his length to be a disruptor on defense by blocking a couple of shots and forcing a couple of steals.
Watson is a shooter first and foremost, but he's shown recently that he can contribute in several facets of the game.
Watson holds offers from Akron, Dayton, Indiana, UMass, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, and Western Kentucky. Before anyone complains about that offer sheet, consider last under-the-radar Pickerington Central prospect to make his way to Michigan: Caris LeVert.
Junior highlights are at the top of the post. Here's that 41-point title game performance:
And here's a single-game reel from a matchup against four-star wing Seth Towns:
Dude can shoot.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With Caris LeVert gone after this upcoming season, Watson is in line to see some early playing time if he's ready; when he gets to campus in 2016, Zak Irvin, Aubrey Dawkins, and MAAR will be the only true wings on the squad, and that's assuming Irvin is back. If Watson doesn't crack the rotation as a freshman, he should as a sophomore after Irvin graduates.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is technically full for the 2016 class but they're not finished recruiting. Point guard has been a priority from the beginning, with four-star in-stater Cassius Winston—whose recruitment should come down to M and MSU—as the top target on the board. If attrition doesn't create room for a point guard, there's a possibility Austin Davis reclassifies to the 2017 class.
Photo: Danny Wild/USA Today
FBSchedules.com reported this afternoon that Michigan will face Army in the 2019 home opener:
Michigan will host Army at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Sept. 7, 2019, according to a copy of the game contract obtained from the Army Athletic Association under a Freedom of Information Act request.
The Wolverines will pay the Black Knights a $1.5 million guarantee for the game, which will be the 10th overall meeting between the two schools. Army leads the series 5-4 and has won the last four meetings, the last coming in 1962.
While Army does hold a 5-4 edge in the series, it's Michigan that has won the last four. All nine games took place between 1945 and 1962, when Army was still a football power.
This is probably Michigan's replacement for what would usually be a MAC game. M opens the 2019 season at Arkansas, the latter half of a home-and-home series, and hasn't yet filled the other open non-conference spot. Starting in 2016, the Big Ten moves to a nine-game conference schedule, which leaves room for three non-conference games.
The University of Michigan Athletic Department announced today (Wednesday, July 28) plans to take the jerseys associated with the Michigan Football Legends back off the field. Gerald Ford (#48), Tom Harmon (#98), Desmond Howard (#21), Ron Kramer (#87), Bennie Oosterbaan (#47) and the Wistert brothers (#11) -- Albert, Alvin and Whitey -- will have their jerseys retired in a ceremony against Ohio State on Nov. 28.
This means that Desmond Howard's jersey, previously available, will now be consigned to history. I liked the legends jersey concept, if not the execution, for both practical and sentimental reasons.
There are a lot of players, and they need a lot of numbers, and having them on the field was a reminder of Michigan's history. It didn't work out the way we hoped, but having 98 on QB was cool and distinctly Michigan.
The patches were too prominent and the frequent number switches annoying; I still liked the idea of having 98 and 47 and etc out there. Not having 21 is kind of sad, isn't it?
The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."
THAT WHICH HAS COME BEFORE
Previously on Draftageddon:
- Adam takes a guy with a ~33% chance to start first overall! Joey Bosa lasts until pick 3! Seth is generally sensible! For him that counts as Heiko-ing, I think!
- Brian takes back to back QBs! Several additional Ohio State players go off the board! 24-12!
THAT WHICH IS THE CURRENT SITUATION
ACE: Round 8, Pick 2: Braxton Miller, QB/?, Ohio State
OFFENSE: QB Braxton Miller (OSU), WR Michael Thomas (OSU), WR DaeSean Hamilton (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)
DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DT Darius Hamilton (RU), NT Austin Johnson (PSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)
The rules dictate I take a quarterback here, and I'll abide by those rules. For the most part.
Braxton Miller isn't the favorite to win the job at Ohio State. He's coming off a lost season after his surgically repaired throwing shoulder fell apart in fall camp. JT Barrett stepped in and nearly won the Heisman; Cardale Jones relieved Barrett and won the national title. Miller may have the least amount of pro potential of the three, at least at quarterback.
Health permitting, however, Miller may be the best college quarterback. It's not a stretch to say he's already a legendary Big Ten QB. He's one of four players in the history of the conference to win two Big Ten MVP awards. In his most recent season, he passed for 2094 yards on 8.2 YPA and rushed for 1068 on 6.2 YPC; he accounted for 36 touchdowns and threw only seven interceptions. The list of national, Big Ten, and school records he owns or has in his sights is too long to list here. He may not be the most polished passer, but he is a breathtaking runner:
While Miller's injury is a downside the other two Buckeye QBs don't have, his running ability provides an upside his competition lacks. If Miller doesn't win the job, it's in everyone's best interest for him to play running back or H-back (Meyer's Percy Harvin position). He probably wouldn't start with Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall, respectively, holding those two spots, but it'd be hard to keep him off the field as long as he stays healthy.
If I'm lucky, I just snagged a #1-pick value in the eighth round. If I'm not, I still think Miller will contribute in some form, and I can grab one of the middle-tier quarterbacks later as insurance.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Soon after Ace made this pick it was announced that Miller would be playing H-back/Harvin guy. The commissioner decided that Ace had to take an actual QB with his next pick, which is in the next post, and had the option of keeping Miller or throwing him back in the pool and taking a supplemental pick immediately. Ace chose to keep Miller, because duh.]
SETH: Round 8, Pick 3: Michael Caputo, strong safety, Wisconsin
OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut), OC Jack Allen (MSU), OG Pat Elflein (OSU)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich), DB Jordan Lucas (PSU), S Michael Caputo (Wis)
After 30 picks you don't expect to find a second-team All-American still on the board, especially not when he's a linebacker-sized ballhawk who led Wisconsin in tackles last year as a safety, and outshone Chris Borland in 2013 from F linebacker (hybrid space player).
As you might have guessed, I'm picking for either a 3-3-5 or a 4-2-5 defense with hybrids to either side. Since the conference's elite pass rushers went off the board quickly, my strategy for kicking ass will have to include a lot of blitzing, which means having the dudes who can do that or cover a lot of ground behind it. Basically it's the anti-spread modern version of the 46 defense. And it just so happens the reincarnation of #46 (Doug Plank) himself plays in the Big Ten.
If we're assigning roles between this trio, Caputo is the two-parts-linebacker/meat-raw safety who takes the side of the tight end. From Madison.com:
Michael Caputo was 2 years old when he hopped on his toy articulated vehicle, a load of dirt in the back, and pedaled down the 125-foot long driveway at the family’s home near Pittsburgh. The boy picked up speed along the way crashing into a concrete wall.
He thought it was so much fun that he did it over and over.
Go ahead and save that for the next time someone asks you to describe Wisconsin in so many words. After cement walls, Caputo finds Big Ten tight ends remarkably pliable, if less fun. Popping bubble screens is just easy. Last year when I stole him in round 21 I quoted DC Dave Arranda on how his then-sophomore was the only guy who could make the schematic adjustments that made Wisconsin's run defense work. Here's safeties coach Bill Busch one year later:
“He’s the true captain of the ship back there with all the adjustments that he makes,” Busch said of Caputo, who plays alongside true freshman Lubern Figaro. “A lot of times we put him in the position that requires the most thinking.”
The Kovacs is strong in this one. If Kovacs was the size of a linebacker, hit like a truck, and fell one spot shy of a Bednarik semifinalist last year.
ADAM: Round 8, Pick 4: Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
Round 9, Pick 1: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU), TE Jake Butt (UM)
DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), S Vonn Bell (OSU), CB Eric Murray (Minn), LB Raekwon McMillan (OSU)
The Big Ten may have an abundance of talent at corner this fall, but I couldn't let Murray sit on the board any longer. He has a two-year track record as one of the best cover corners in college football, lining up so close he can tell you what the opposing receiver had for their pregame meal while possessing the rare ability to jam and turn and run and actually stay with guys for more than 10 yards.
He's not going to post eye-popping interception totals (he has one career pick, and that came last season against San Jose State), but his 17 PBUs and 75% of tackles being of the solo variety over the past two years show what he can do in coverage and in run support. Defensive backs coach Jay Sawvel agrees:
"He's a good tackler, he's a great blitzer, he's a tremendous special-teams player, he's very, very good in press coverage to the point where a lot of times a play will just break down."
The conference has Michael Thomas, Leonte Carroo, and Dudes Who Sometimes Catch Things. I think Murray will be just fine.
Sticking with defense, I've decided to start building my linebacking corps in the middle, which is probably the conference's weakest spot. You can't say I didn't try to make this draft entertaining.
McMillan takes over for the departed (and oft-criticized) Curtis Grant, whose playing time McMillan already started leeching last fall. McMillan finished the season with 54 total tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 PBU, playing in every game except the season opener against Navy and the Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
He's not the fastest, but he has good size (6-2, 240) and the kind of instincts that are so often discussed they fill many pages when you Google him. He's also adapted nicely to calling the defense. Per DC Luke Fickell:
"That's the thing that you saw early on. There's some guys who have intelligence and some that aren't football smart, then some who are and don't really work at it. He's got an incredible combination of all of it."
McMillan will benefit from playing next to WLB/Heart and Soul Guy/Gritty Gritster Josh Perry and SLB/hybrid space destroyer/stat sheet filler Darron Lee, but the former top-50 recruit should be able to hold his own against the Big Ten's terrifying stable of offensive weapons.
[After THE JUMP: WE ARE CERTAINLY OUT OF BUCKEYES THIS TIME]
Mitchell Deciding Soon, Will Be Back For BBQ
Four-star NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell visited Ohio State for their Friday Night Lights camp and Michigan on Saturday. Buckeye insiders on both Rivals (Marc Givler) and Scout (Bill Greene) sounded the commitment alarm Saturday afternoon, expecting Mitchell to wind up in Michigan's class as soon as... well, Saturday, and while it didn't happen that quickly things still look very good. Mitchell told The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan the two rivals are running even atop his list ($):
"I love Ohio State; it is a great place," he said. "Them and Michigan are neck-and-neck at one. I am going to compare [the two visits] and sit down with my mom. These two visits are mainly mom visits. I already have a good (feel) for both of them, so after I sit down with my mom afterwards that is what's going to be the big difference-maker between the two."
That said, Michigan looks to have the edge. Mitchell has already set a return trip. He wants to make a decision in August after talking things over with his mom, who accompanied him on both visits. Ohio State is rumored to have a couple receivers—Donnie Corley and Binjimen Victor—above Mitchell on their board with limited spots remaining. Unless the Buckeyes make a serious late push, which still might not be enough to overcome the Jersey-to-Michigan draw, Mitchell should wind up in the class relatively soon.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]