Tuesday Recruitin' Rocks Stunner Shades

Tuesday Recruitin' Rocks Stunner Shades

Submitted by Ace on March 27th, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Today's recruiting roundup recaps Shane Morris's Elite11 regional camp appearance, talks Ty Isaac (what else is new?), and goes over past and future visits.

Shane's Bad Day > Your Bad Day

Shane Morris attended the Dallas Elite11 regional camp last weekend, getting tips from guys like Trent Dilfer and Tony Romo while hoping to lock up one of the coveted invitations to the Elite11 finals. Review of Morris were mixed but mostly positive, and this clearly wasn't good enough for Michigan's quarterback commit, who told ESPN he needs to work on "everything" (also, any idea why Morris is randomly wearing stunner shades for the second throw in this clip?):

While Morris was disappointed to not earn the finals invitation (more quotes in a free ESPN article here), he'll get another crack in Columbus on May 4th, and he still flashed the ability that has made him a potential five-star. Rivals.com's Brian Perroni listed Morris at #5 among his top performers, noting arm strength as his biggest positive ($):

The Michigan pledge made his presence known early by coming in decked out in Wolverine gear. There was a lot of anticipation as people wanted to see the nation's No. 16 overall prospect in person after he traveled a long way to compete. A lefty, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Morris had the best velocity on his ball of any quarterback in attendance and made some very good deep throws as well. His accuracy was a bit off at times but nothing too concerning.

Scout's Greg Powers had a similar take, saying Morris had some great throws and not-so-great throws but "definitely [had] his wow moments," in turning in a "very solid showing" ($). Morris was disappointed, yes, but he also has very high standards for himself. That's by no means a bad thing.

Morris didn't provide the only recruiting action of the weekend, as Michigan hosted several prospects for unofficial visits. The top 2013 target on campus was Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who's in the midst of a long string of Midwest visits but took the time to tell 247 that Michigan "seemed like a great place to be as a football player, as a student and a young man" ($). Several Cass Tech targets spanning three classes also made the trip. '13 DT Kenton Gibbs caught up with Will Campbell and also said that Michigan's coaches want to see him at their summer camp before extending an offer ($). '14 LB William White was impressed by what he saw from the linebackers in spring drills ($), while '14 RB/DB Johnny Miggins and '15 QB Jayru Campbell also enjoyed the visit ($). '14 WR Damon Webb was also on campus along with several other Cass Tech players.

Isaac Watch, Future Visits, Etc.

Ty Isaac has returned from his trip to USC, the school that poses perhaps the biggest threat to Michigan in his recruitment, so it's time to read far too much into some post-trip quotes. They are... meh ($):

"There were really no set expectations, it was just a good visit," Isaac said. "It was nothing that I wasn't expecting. I got to see things and talk to coaches."

"I got to see things," is my new favorite non-answer from a recruit. It certainly doesn't sound like Isaac, who was accompanied by his father, was blown away by the trip. He says he's now going to "chill for awhile" before making any kind of decision about his future, and he's not tipping his hand, though he said his top schools "know who they are."

Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen is one of the top receivers on the board for Michigan, and his recent athletic exploits reveal a major reason why that is the case: Allen just broke a 32-year-old Arizona state record in the 110-meter hurdles, running a 13.62 to edge out the old mark by .07 seconds. He was also just three-hundreths of a second from breaking the 300-meter hurdles state record, as well. Allen starts his spring break next week, and he plans on taking a trip to the Midwest, where Michigan is one of several schools in the running for a visit ($).

One player taking a visit this weekend is Solon (OH) CB Darian Hicks, who already holds 11 offers but is hoping to add Michigan to the list when he comes to campus on Friday ($). Brookfield (WI) Central DE Chikwe Obasih will swing by Ann Arbor between April 12th and 14th—he'll also visit MSU and Illinois during those days, and hasn't set the order yet ($).

Two players have stated their intention to take one of their official visits to Ann Arbor. Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls—at 6'5", 265 lbs., likely a DT/SDE recruit for Michigan—is one, having built a strong relationship with coach Dan Ferrigno ($). The other is Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, whose coach says Michigan "might be recruiting Rod the hardest out of anyone" ($). Crayton plans to take a second unofficial visit for a game this fall, then use an official visit after his season.

Happy trails to two offensive linemen, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin, who both committed to Notre Dame over the weekend. Both held Michigan offers but were told, like all uncommitted OL, that the Wolverines are full along the O-line.

Quickly: Taco Charlton's Pickerington Central squad defeated Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer, 45-40, in the Ohio Division I basketball state title game. Chantel Jennings gives a progress report on the 2013 class, including quotes from current commits on what the coaches like about them ($).

Friday Recruitin' Is Undersized Badger

Friday Recruitin' Is Undersized Badger

Submitted by Ace on March 23rd, 2012 at 2:35 PM

Things are relatively quiet on the recruiting front at the moment, but here's an update on weekend visitors, players planning to attend the spring game, and more.

Weekend Visitors, Webb on Webb, Spring Game, Etc.

The list is short this week, with Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler the only uncommitted 2013 prospect slated to be on campus ($). Butler currently has Penn State as his leader, but the Wolverines are among a group of nine schools also in contention for his services.

Other visitors this weekend include 2013 commits Jake Butt and Jaron Dukes, and once again Cass Tech will be well represented—2014 WR Damon Webb, 2014 RB/DB Johnny Miggins, and 2015 QB Jayru Campbell will make the short trip to Ann Arbor.

Meanwhile, top receiver target Laquon Treadwell told Chantel Jennings that he'll visit for a spring practice in the first week of April ($, info in header). That will be Treadwell's fifth visit to Ann Arbor, but he still maintains that he won't make a decision until after his senior season.

The big visit weekend, however, will be when Michigan takes the field for the spring game on April 14th. One top-flight prospect who will be on campus is Erial (NJ) Timber Creek DT Greg Webb, who was the subject of Sam Webb's latest DetNews feature. Greg Webb's father earns major bonus points for saying Mike Martin and Iowa's Mike Daniels are two of his favorite D-linemen, because "they're undersized and they're badgers." The elder Webb also shed some light on the mindset of recruits who are witnessing a rather unprecedented rush to commit early:

"Michigan already (received verbal commitments from) 16 kids," Mr. Webb stated. "They're almost finished with their class. If you look at schools like Ohio State, they don't have as many scholarships (to offer). They're probably going to only take two or three D-tackles. You have to look at the numbers. If the schools you want to go to already have 16 or 17 commits, or they're only taking three more (players at your position), I don't think you can wait until signing day. A lot of the schools that he likes are a lot of the higher-profile schools. They're all going to fill up quick, so really I think we're going to have to look how things are going the next two or three months and see (if its best to make an early decision)."

With Michigan likely taking just two more defensive linemen—and also being in strong position with DT Henry Poggi—there could certainly be extra pressure on Webb to commit early if he wants a spot in the class.

Webb won't be the only elite D-lineman on campus for the spring game, either, as four-star SDE Joey Bosa will also be in attendance ($). Bosa currently has Michigan in his top six, but the competition—Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Ohio State—is stiff. Two other recruits who will be in that weekend are Cleveland Glenville S Christopher Worley (confusing, I know), who's currently holding offers from Arkansas, Bowling Green, and West Virginia ($), and 2014 Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines, who'll visit Ann Arbor on the 13th before checking out Iowa ($).

Quickly: Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge WR Rob Wheelwright holds an offer, has Michigan in his top group, and is setting up a visit with coach Jerry Montgomery ($). Santa Monica (CA) WR Sebastian LaRue has "high interest" in the Wolverines and plans on taking a spring or summer visit ($). Grand Blanc (MI) DE Daniel Davis has been hearing from Michigan recently and plans to visit next week ($). TomVH on Michigan targeting several bigger cornerbacks in the 2013 class ($).

Tuesday Recruitin' Surveys the Landscape

Tuesday Recruitin' Surveys the Landscape

Submitted by Ace on March 20th, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Today's recruiting roundup looks at Michigan's remaining scholarships and how they might be used, checks out visit reactions from last weekend, and more.

The Remaining Spots

After DeVeon Smith committed over the weekend, Michigan now has 16 commits in a class projected to hit 23-24 players. Yes, it is still March, and the Wolverines have 2/3 of their class wrapped up. Recent events have added some clarity to the positions Michigan is targeting with the remaining 7-8 spots, so I thought I'd go over the potential options, position-by-position.

Quarterback (1 commit/0 spots remaining): Shane Morris. Period. Yes, there are concerns about depth at QB, but with the number crunch in the class taking a second signal-caller appears highly unlikely.

Running Back (2/1): Michigan has Wyatt Shallman and DeVeon Smith in the fold, but they aren't done. The coaches told Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green that they would take a third back in the class during Green's visit last weekend ($)—a visit that went quite well, by the way—and they've said the same to Cordova (TN) four-star Jordan Wilkins ($, info in header). Ty Isaac is the top target here, and we'll see what his timetable looks like after he returns from his USC trip this weekend.

Wide Receiver (1/2): Jaron Dukes is a big receiver with big-play ability, and the Wolverines will add two more to his position group. There's a strong focus on bringing in another big outside guy—Laquon Treadwell (right) fits that mold—and it wouldn't surprise to see the coaches target a smaller, faster player like Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep's Devon Allen to play the slot. Gone are the days of the 5'9" slot ninjas, but the 6'1" track star Allen could signal what the current staff wants in a slot receiver. A laundry-list of other receivers have interest in Michigan, including Marquez North, Darrell Daniels, Eldridge Massington, Sebastian Larue, Marcell Ateman, Zach Bradshaw, Damore'ea Stringfellow, Kevin Gladney, and Uriah LeMay. Four-star prospects Robert Foster and James Quick look like longshots for now.

Tight End (2/0?): When Michigan continued to offer scholarships to TEs after gaining commitments from Khalid Hill and Jake Butt, it looked like a third TE would definitely be a part of the class. Now that Scott Orndoff has committed to Pitt, however, only one uncommitted tight end remains holding a Michigan offer, New Orleans prospect Standish Dobard. It seems unlikely that Dobard will leave SEC country. With the Wolverines not rushing to hand out any more offers at the position coupled with the news that they'll take a third running back, it looks like they might be content with two TEs.

Offensive Line (5/0): The coaches have informed all offensive linemen holding an offer—yes, this includes Ethan Pocic—that they're full along the offensive line. Barring a decommitment, I don't think that will change.

Defensive Tackle (0/1-2): Michigan must take at least one nose tackle in the class, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to bring in a second depending on how the other position groups shake out. The Wolverines are in a strong position with Henry Poggi—more on him later—and got Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton up for a visit, and they're also pursuing high-profile prospects like Montravious Adams, Eddie Vanderdoes, and Greg Webb, among others.

Defensive End (1/0): With Taco Charlton set to come in as a weakside DE, Michigan is in a position to stay pat after the bumper crop of DEs in the 2012 class. They could go after a strongside end, especially if Chris Wormley or Matt Godin moves inside to DT this fall, and they are after some talented prospects—Tashawn Bower seems to be showing the most interest (Michigan is in his top 10 [$]) and the Wolverines are also pursuing top recruits Joey Bosa, Alquadin Muhammad, Jonathan Allen, and others. They can afford to be picky here.

Linebacker (1/1*): The Wolverines have Mike McCray in the fold and it's pretty much assumed at this point that Ben Gedeon will join him in the class, given that the coaches have told prospects like Dorian O'Daniel, Alex Anzalone, and Shane Jones that they're full at linebacker. The asterisk represents E.J. Levenberry, who has Michigan as his leader over Florida State and has a spot apparently reserved for him in the class.

Cornerback (2/0): Jourdan Lewis and Gareon Conley should more than suffice for this year's class unless a five-star talent like Kendall Fuller (unlikely, considering his ties to Virginia Tech and Michigan turning away teammate O'Daniel) or Vernon Hargreaves III (also unlikely with his father coaching at USF and the Florida schools pushing hard for him) wants to come on board. Then again, the Wolverines still seem to be pursuing corners like Tre Bell, Devin Butler, Cole Luke, and Cameron Walker, so there's a chance they take one more.

Safety (1/0): Dymonte Thomas fills any pressing need for a safety, so much like at cornerback and defensive end, the Wolverines can be comfortable staying put while going after blue-chip talents. Or should I say, talent: five-star Su'a Cravens is the only uncommitted safety to currently hold a Michigan offer, and he plans to use one of his official visits to check out Ann Arbor.

Kicker/Punter (0/0): There's no need to take a specialist in this year's class.

If Michigan takes two linebackers (including Levenberry) and two defensive tackles along with a running back and two wideouts, the team has 23 scholarships accounted for with potentially one spot to use for a best player available (or, quite possibly, a third corner). If you want to drop a DT and project the Wolverines grab a strongside DE instead, be my guest—I think we'll see two more D-linemen in the class, and a nose tackle is a must, but that other spot could go to either.

As you can see, it's already time for the Wolverines to hone in on their top targets and be fairly selective with their remaining spots. The main question going forward isn't how Michigan will use their remaining scholarships, but how many they'll have to work with.

New Preferred Walk-On, Visit Reactions, Etc.

The Wolverines now have three preferred walk-ons in the 2012 class coming from Fenton High School, as tight end Quinton Mandle joined teammates Kenny Allen (punter) and Tyler Tokarsky (long snapper) in pledging to go to Michigan on Sunday. Mandle is 6'5", 220 pounds, and had 53 receptions for 700 yards last year, both school records. His addition bolsters depth at a position sorely in need of it.

Rivals released their 2013 position ranks and an initial group of three-stars, which included previously-unranked commits DeVeon Smith and Jaron Dukes. Shane Morris has the highest position ranking, coming in second among pro-style QBs. Also of note: Michigan has five of the top 23 offensive tackles (four in the top 13), though obviously the five linemen won't all play tackle at the collegiate level.

Henry Poggi was on campus last weekend amidst rumors of an imminent commitment, and while that didn't come to fruition, he still had a great trip. Here's his dad/coach Biff discussing Henry's third visit to Ann Arbor ($):

“It was a great visit,” Biff Poggi, Henry’s father and coach told 247Sports. “Just a great visit. It was really, everyone loved it. My wife really loved it. My son loves Michigan. Loves the coaches there, Coach (Greg) Mattison, Coach (Jerry) Montgomery, Coach (Brady) Hoke. We got a chance to spend a lot of time with them. My wife is getting comfortable with the academic piece which is good, and it was a very, very good trip.”

Poggi plans to head down to Texas and Texas A&M and possibly swing out to the West Coast, but his recruitment shouldn't last much longer; his father says they plan to have it "wrapped up by the end of April."

Quickly: 2013 Cass Tech DT Kenton Gibbs said "it was most definitely a good time," after his trip to Ann Arbor last weekend ($). He's still looking for a Wolverine offer. Four of Gibbs's sophomore teammates—LB Gary Hosey, LB William White, WR Damon Webb, and DB Johnny Miggins—were also on campus, and Tremendous has visit reactions from all four. Also visiting was 2014 OL/DT Brian Allen, who already has offers from Iowa and Michigan State ($, info in header). 2013 Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker will visit from April 12-14, which includes the spring game ($).

Michigan Museday Has Carries for All

Michigan Museday Has Carries for All

Submitted by Seth on March 20th, 2012 at 1:45 PM

A-Trainperry greatHart - Purdue

A-Train, Perry, Hart. Photos archived from MGoBlue.com

Here is what has Michigan football fans all aflutter this week: With two 4-star running backs committed to our class, do we still have room for a 5-star running back? #firstworldproblems. Since this is our concern, I thought we'd take a look at the prospective depth charts that past Michigan RBs committed to and see if the prospective mountain for 2013 prospects is any harder than the typical Michigan starting tailback's, prospectively speaking.

When the next class arrives in 2013 Toussaint and Hopkins—a permanent fullback I mention because he's the B.J. Askew type of fullback who will eat up carries—will be seniors, and Vincent Smith will be gone. Barring attrition, the next generation, i.e. the guys an additional 2013 commit should expect to be competing with, will then look something like this:

  • Thomas Rawls, Junior
  • Justice Hayes, RS Sophomore
  • Drake Johnson, RS Freshman
  • Dennis Norfleet, RS Freshman or Soph.
  • Wyatt Shallman, Freshman
  • Deveon Smith, Freshman

Three RBs in the 2013 class gives us potentially five freshmen competing for carries with a sophomore and a junior. "Barring attrition" would almost be a fool's gamble given the history of the position in all my years of following Michigan, except Hoke's program has so far (very small sample) been actually kind of remarkable in holding onto guys—policy is to give them all the benefit of the doubt.Chris Howard

Anyway we have the dudes; if Iowa RBHG gets bored one day he will find too many sacrifices for even his mighty, smite-y hand. This means Michigan is doubtful to take any more add-on running backs to pack the roster unless they or someone on the list is switching to defense. However there is absolutely room—even a need perhaps—for a high-profile back in this class.

The recruiting profiles of a lot of these guys suggests any could be beatable by a hypothetical freshman 5-star. Norfleet and Johnson were both very under-the-radar guys. The former and Justice Hayes are more like scat-backs who could as easily end up as slot-kick returners (though from yesterday's Spring video it looked like Hayes has bulked up a bit since last year, or else someone else is wearing 5. Insiders?). Asking if Shallman is really a running back is entering the realm of media cottage industry. Rawls is so Kevin Grady. At this point Smith is a 4-star to Scout, an Anton Campbell Memorial "no idea, but I guess he committed to Michigan" 3-star to Rivals  and a guy named Smith to the other sites. Throw a dart at that group in two years and you could hit anything from (respectively) Mark Ingram/Steve Breaston/Barry Sanders/Mike Hart/Ron Dayne/Eddie George Except Faster to six Brackenses.

Of all positions tailback seems the most freshman-friendly, so it's not as necessary to stockpile today for 2017. On the other hand if you look at Michigan history the lesson is MOAR TAILBACKS. In fact Michigan's great running backs of the last two decades have mostly committed to apparent depth charts way more jammed with highly rated players and established starters:

2012-03-20 Musday Running Backs

(Click embiggens)

The thing that's readily apparent is the youth. Michigan averaged about two recruits per year at RB, and graduated one a year. Some didn't move far—Chris Floyd, B.J. Askew, and more recently Stephen Hopkins switched to a type of ball-carrying fullback. A good many switched to defense. A good many Tim-Biakabutukaquit the team too. But look at the depth charts so many highly rated backs committed to:

  • Tshimanga Biakabutuka would have to beat out Tyrone Wheatley, Rickey Powers, and Ed Davis, not to mention a higher rated recruit in his own class. He earned 149 carries in two years versus that group then became his own legend as a junior.
  • Chris Howard signed on with two all-everything backs with a sophomore Biakabutuka already established, and ended up the nominal starting RB for a national champion.
  • Clarence Williams, the Cass Tech mite, didn't seem afraid of larger classmate J.R. Ford or the aforementioned guys; he beat out Howard and Floyd as a freshman, became the feature back as a sophomore, and spent his whole career battling Howard, Floyd, and A-Train for carries.
  • Anthony Thomas was the second-least heralded of four heralded backs who might have believed they were coming in to wait two years for Howard and C-Will to clear out. The train arrived at the starting station his freshman year and eventually broke most of Michigan's rushing records.
  • Justin Fargas signed up beside Walter Cross, while freshman A-Train was tearing it up, and before A-Train's classmates skedaddled.
  • B.J. Askew came in with three other freshman backs, including 5-star Ryan Beard, when Thomas had two more years, and two more 5-stars, including the electrifying Fargas, had three.
  • Chris Perry had about the clearest route to the starter's gig of anybody, but that still meant behind two 5-stars with sophomore eligibility (Beard, Fargas), and one junior (Cross).Grady - PSU
  • Mike Hart might have looked like depth no matter which class he signed onto. To win the starting job as a true freshman he beat out senior David Underwood, junior Pierre Rembert, sophomore Jerome Jackson, and higher rated freshman Max Martin.
  • Kevin Grady saw the freshman duo leap to the top of the depth chart in 2004 yet opted to join the Wolverines in 2005.
  • Brandon Minor and Carlos Brown arrived when Grady was to be a sophomore and Hart had two more years as starter locked down.
  • Shaw's snake-oiling away from Penn State was to join McGuffie and Cox as the generation that should wait two years for Minor/Brown to clear out. McGuffie hurdled everyone to start much of '08.
  • Fitz Toussaint and Vincent Smith signed on before McGuffie left, and piled into a two-seater filled with eight other RB-or-Slot bug types.
  • Hopkins signed up to maybe be the thunder guy in case they wanted to keep that job after Minor left, but still had to contend with the boatload of slot bugs.

The list of guys who didn't commit to imposing depth charts full of established and/or hyped underclassmen reads thusly: Kelly Baraka, David Underwood, Pierre Rembert, Darnell Hood, Alijah Bradley, Jerome Jackson. The moral: if you want to be the starting tailback for Michigan you always have to compete against other highly rated backs. This isn't coach speak; it's the standard. A running back who commits here is almost 50% likely to end up at another position or another school. Standard operating procedure is to arrive behind an established junior star and last year's freshman phenom, and if you manage to earn carries against those guys there's still two more classes of blue chip backs arriving after you to steal them.

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Enough Carries to Go Around

So two things are true: Michigan has for a long time recruited many more guys than they need at the running back position, and the position has experienced a lot of attrition and position switches. The latter was probably by design; Lloyd Carr recruited at least Weathers, Woody Hankins (who was an RB as a freshman and as a junior), Ian Gold, Jon Shaw, Charles Drake and Darnell Hood with the idea of a defensive swap in mind. Anyway it never stopped the parade of hyped backs to Ann Arbor, despite the fact that until 2008 the coaches always preferred a feature back kind of system. A quick look at the numbers shows there were a lot of carries slipping through the starters' grasps:

Year Starting Tailback Class Carries ALL RB Carries % RB Carries
1993 Tyrone Wheatley JR 207 422 49.1%
1994 Tyrone Wheatley SR 210 434 48.4%
1995 Tshimanga Biakabutuka JR 303 530 57.2%
1996 Clarence Williams SO 202 420 48.1%
1997 Chris Howard SR 199 490 40.6%
1998 Anthony Thomas SO 167 453 36.9%
" Clarence Williams SR 146 " 32.2%
1999 Anthony Thomas JR 301 377 79.8%
2000 Anthony Thomas SR 319 472 67.6%
2001 B.J. Askew JR 199 393 50.6%
2002 Chris Perry JR 267 440 60.7%
2003 Chris Perry SR 338 459 73.6%
2004 Michael Hart FR 282 392 71.9%
2005 Michael Hart SO 150 399 37.6%
" Kevin Grady FR 121 " 30.3%
2006 Michael Hart JR 318 464 68.5%
2007 Michael Hart SR 265 436 60.8%
2008 Sam McGuffie FR 118 309 38.2%
" Brandon Minor JR 103 " 33.3%
2009 Brandon Minor SR 96 290 33.1%
" Carlos Brown SR 81 " 28.0%
2010 Vincent Smith SO 136 265 51.3%
2011 Fitzgerald Toussaint SO 187 292 64.0%
Total ALL STARTERS (not itals) -- 3,832 6,881 55.7%

Note: In years with two players listed, the one in italics is the nominal backup who got carries due to the nominal starter's injury. Their stories are intricate and known. Anyhoo, speaking to this year's freshmen, if anything it's not the other backs they should be worried about; it's Denard taking carries away from the entire RB corps.Fitzgerald Toussaint

The closest comparison to the situation for a hypothetical three-man 2013 class is probably 2004 (the year Hart won the job), since there's a lot of guys on the roster now whose profiles would suggest "just a guy" more than "future star." Any year between 1997 and 2000 makes a good case study for a seemingly insurmountable climb for any one recruit, but even in the heart of the A-Train years there were plenty of carries that went to guys like Justin Fargas and B.J. Askew. There were also plenty of Ryan Beard/Walter Cross/Ray Jackson/Pat McCall types who came with hype and couldn't crack the depth chart.

This is what Wyatt Shallman and Deveon Smith are signing up for. Given Michigan's history of stockpiling talent at this position, adding a five-star to this class is no deviation from the norm; in fact it would probably bring us closer to a "typical" depth chart. Fitz will be a senior when these guys arrive, and none of Drake Johnson/Dennis Norfleet/Justice Hayes/Thomas Rawls at this point should seem more insurmountable than, say, a Jerome Jackson. On the other hand an Isaac commit would mean carrying eight scholarship backs in 2013, something we haven't done since 1997. It's way too early to predict this kind of stuff but I'm sure jamiemac wouldn't call you crazy for a Justice Hayes to receiver prop. And while we can't ever plan for transfers, busts, or injuries, and I certainly hope all of these guys play out their eligibility, I don't think anybody is willing to bet on that. If Michigan wants to take another blue chip, history says there is room and opportunities available. However it's not the year Michigan can afford a scholarship for a depthy flier dude to keep up alumni relations or something like that.

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Special thanks to the Bentley Library, Rivals and Scout.com, and Sandeep Vijan.

Hello: DeVeon Smith

Hello: DeVeon Smith

Submitted by Ace on March 18th, 2012 at 1:02 PM


Photo via cu.tribtoday.com

As reported last night by Sam Webb, Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith pledged to become the 16th member of Michigan's class of 2013. Smith is the second running back in the class, joining Detroit Catholic Central's Wyatt Shallman, and he's the 14th recruit among the Wolverine commits to garner a four-star rating from at least one recruiting service.

Smith has multiple Big Ten ties, as both his older brothers (Lance at Wisconsin, Maurice at Michigan State) played for schools in the conference before later transferring. Despite growing up deep in Buckeye country and having brothers play for two conference foes, DeVeon grew up a Michigan fan.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
4*, #7 RB,
#58 Ovr
NR RB ESPNU 150
Watch List
3*, 89, #31 RB

Early on in the process, there's quite a disparity in the rankings on Smith. Scout—the most recent service to update their rankings—is by far the most bullish, putting Smith up at #58 overall and the seventh running back in the class. ESPN has him on their top 150 watch list, but on the other end of the scale, 247Sports has him as a middling three-star and Rivals has yet to rank him. Expect this to change in the future; Smith has earned rave reviews from Midwest scouts covering Ohio.

All four sites list Smith at 5'11", and only Rivals (195) doesn't list him at 210 pounds. As a high school junior, he already has the size to see the field at the collegiate level.

Smith was in part sold on Michigan's post-Denard transition to more of a power running game based out of the I-form ($), and Scout's Allen Trieu believes he's fit to thrive in that offense:

"He's a powerful kid with a low center of gravity and he runs hard and with attitude. He can run between the tackles and he doesn't waste a lot of time getting north and south. He's a guy that you can feed the ball to throughout a game. His balance and ability to break arm tackles really stands out. He's not a burner, but I think his speed is better than advertised. He's a classic I-formation, pro-style tailback."

As you'll see on his film, Smith may not have track-star speed, but he has little issue tearing through tackles at the high school level. While that speed comes into question, Dave Berk says he's a home run threat in the writeup for Scout's top 50 players in Ohio, where Smith ranks #3 ($):

Two-way player who projects as one of the top running backs in the Midwest.  Has good size at 5-foot-11, 210-pounds showing speed, power and balance.  Capable of taking each carry to the house for a score or making the big defensive stop. 

Size, balance, and power appear to be the main strengths in Smith's game, and he has enough speed to be dangerous when he breaks into the open field. This sentiment is echoed by Mark Porter as Bucknuts ranked Smith as the #5 2013 prospect in Ohio ($):

“He is a well built back. He can run well between the tackles. He can take a lot of punishment. He would be your traditional Big Ten back who can play in bad weather and grind out yardage. He would be a good fit in Ohio State’s new offense. As a junior, he was much quicker than he showed the year before. He has some spring to his step. He is very powerful and thickly built.”

Before Smith's junior season, Duane Long had some concerns about Smith's size and speed, but loved his natural ability as a runner ($):

I would argue Smith is the most naturally instinctive runner in the class. Very quick feet. Good balance and runs with good power. I think Smith stands a good chance of moving up this list because my reservations are about his body and speed. He is a very muscular kid at a very young age. I am concerned he will be a ‘tweener. The older he gets without growing into a ‘tweener the better his chances of moving up. His speed is a question. I think speed is the most overrated thing with backs but they have to be fast enough. We will see if Smith is.

Long had Smith listed at 6'0", 210, so I think he was worried Smith would grow into linebacker range. That didn't happen, so the only concern moving forwards is top-end speed. Given the rest of the package that Smith provides, plus the growing evidence that sprinter's speed isn't necessary to excel at running back—see: Mike Hart, among others—he still has the skill-set to be an excellent Big Ten back.

OFFERS

Smith's offer sheet wasn't especially long, but he has one that should stand out: Ohio State. Along with the Buckeyes and Wolverines, Smith had offers from Bowling Green, Indiana, Purdue, and West Virginia.

STATS

As a junior, Smith was second-team All-Ohio in Division II after amassing 2,150 yards and 25 TDs on 189 carries. That followed up an 1,800-yard sophomore season and a freshman year spent racking up just under 1,000 all-purpose yards at the varsity level.

FAKE 40 TIME

Bucknuts lists a 4.5-second 40 time for Smith, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five considering the concerns about his speed.

VIDEO

Short junior highlight reel:

And film from a pair of Warren Howland games last season:

Smith certainly passes the eyeball test when it comes to a running back; his build and strength for a junior is impressive.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Smith is going to walk on campus in 2013 and have a chance to play. If his Scout ranking is ultimately the one that holds up, he'll be the highest-rated back on the roster barring a later commitment by Ty Isaac, and only Fitzgerald Toussaint (a senior in '13) and Thomas Rawls (a three-star in '11) really project as every-down backs in the classes in front of him. It wouldn't surprise to see Smith earn the backup role as a freshman before taking over full-time for Toussaint in 2014. With the Wolverines not picking up a true star at running back in the last couple classes, Smith will get every opportunity to earn time and excel in Michigan's evolving offense.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Ah, I was kinda dreading this section. First of all, Michigan now has 16 commits in a class that should get to 23 or 24. With the remaining spots, the Wolverines need two more receivers, a nose tackle, a strongside DE, and a linebacker (probably Ben Gedeon). That takes Michigan to 21, and a potential third tight end would move that number to 22. This leaves one or two spots for the best players available. LB E.J. Levenberry has a spot waiting for him. S Su'a Cravens likely would as well.

The big question, however, is what this means for Ty Isaac. I've been told Michigan will take just two tailbacks in the class—Wyatt Shallman very much included—but we'll see if that changes for a five-star like Isaac. Despite the rumors, it wouldn't appear that a crowded backfield would be an issue for Isaac:

“Competition makes you better. If you don’t have someone behind you pushing you to be better, you might get sloppy.  If I’m the only back in the class, yeah that’s cool with me… but if I’m not, it’s not a turnoff and I’m not scared of it. I would expect people to be disappointed in me if I was talking like that. As a coach if I heard somebody say that, I’d understand.  But at the same time, to me that sounds like you’re scared of competition.”

Nor Smith:

We'll have to see how it plays out. Regardless, Michigan has a pair of four-star backs in the class who bring the MAN in MANBALL.

Hello: DeVeon Smith

Hello: DeVeon Smith

Submitted by Ace on March 17th, 2012 at 8:36 PM

Sam Webb is reporting that Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith committed to Michigan today. Smith becomes the 16th member of Brady Hoke's class of 2013, and the 14th to earn a four-star rating from at least one recruiting service. It is St. Patrick's Day and the CCHA title game is in full swing, so the informative portion of this post will be coming tomorrow.

Friday Recruitin' Is Full At Linebacker

Friday Recruitin' Is Full At Linebacker

Submitted by Ace on March 16th, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Today's recruiting roundup is short and sweet, because I feel like, well, another 's' word.

Weekend Visitors and O'Daniel/Fuller Update

A refreshing concept: a recruiting site releasing a free list of the weekend's unofficial visitors. Tip o' the cap, Wolverine247. Six 2013 prospects will be in Ann Arbor, and a couple could be nearing decisions:

  • Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith, who told Sam Webb that while classes filling up isn't going to factor into his decision, the promise of getting a shot to see the field as a freshman would potentially put Michigan over the top.
  • Pittsburgh (PA) Seton LaSalle TE Scott Orndoff, a Wisconsin decommit who mentioned earlier this week that he's very aware of Michigan's rapidly-dwindling scholarship situation and that could affect his timeline.
  • Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the four-star running back who's been lost in the shuffle in discussions about Smith and Ty Isaac. Green has maintained that a decision won't come from him until signing day, however, which makes it unlikely at this juncture that he'd be a part of the class.
  • Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who will be making his third trip to campus. Poggi recently shot down rumors that he was planning to commit this weekend, but he's one of the top targets on the board for Michigan.
  • Detroit Cass Tech S Delano Hill and DT Kenton Gibbs, the only unoffered '13 prospects on campus this weekend. Hill coming to campus in the hopes that Michigan will reciprocate his high interest. He currently holds offers from Illinois, Iowa, and Syracuse. Gibbs, who also has an Illinois offer, also has high praise for the Wolverines but no offer as of yet ($).

Four 2014 prospects from Cass Tech will also visit this weekend, including their entire linebacker corps of William White, Gary Hosey, and Deon Drake. Cass Tech WR Damon Webb and '14 Hinsdale (IL) Central OL Brian Allen round out the visitor list.

The big news so far this week, however, came down yesterday, when linebacker Dorian O'Daniel tweeted that his planned spring game visit to Michigan was cancelled. Subsequent tweets indicated that O'Daniel had been told Michigan is full at linebacker, and this was confirmed by Mike Farrell of Rivals ($). All indications point to the Wolverines landing Ben Gedeon sooner or later, and saving an extra spot in the class for E.J. Levenberry. Farrell also noted that O'Daniel's Good Counsel teammate, five-star corner Kendall Fuller, plans on visiting Ann Arbor for the spring game at least for now, but that situation could easily change ($).

Running Backs, Future Visitors, Etc.

Webb's DetNews feature on DeVeon Smith also included quotes from his older brother Lance, a former Warren Howland standout himself before playing college ball at Wisconsin and Memphis:

"When I was in high school I believe I was 5-10, 190 pounds, and I was running about a 4.5," Lance recalled. "I worked hard in the weight room. I was doing 225 pounds probably about 20 times in high school. I could have been physical if I wanted to, but that's not the style I attacked with. What's different about me and Deveon is I've never ever, including the college level, seen a person run so hard. He doesn't have the moves I had, but I didn't have the power he has."

Michigan fans are obviously keeping a close eye on DeVeon to see what happens with Ty Isaac. Webb talked to Isaac this week to dispel some rumors surrounding his recruitment [emphasis mine] ($):

“I tell people all of the time that I don’t care (about how many backs my suitors recruit),” the five-star runner insisted.  “If that was the case I might as well be going [to] play somewhere that’s really small, that’s not bringing in a lot of players. If I’m afraid to compete with someone in my class, how am I going to compete with someone older or younger than me?”

“Competition makes you better. If you don’t have someone behind you pushing you to be better, you might get sloppy.  If I’m the only back in the class, yeah that’s cool with me… but if I’m not, it’s not a turnoff and I’m not scared of it. I would expect people to be disappointed in me if I was talking like that. As a coach if I heard somebody say that, I’d understand.  But at the same time, to me that sounds like you’re scared of competition.”

It's worth noting that Isaac has split time in the backfield with D-I tailbacks as both a sophomore and junior, so he's very much used to competition. This statement would suggest that Michigan could take both Smith and Isaac if they wanted to commit, though a source tells me the plan is for Michigan to take just two running backs, and that's including Wyatt Shallman. Isaac, as he has maintained, will fly out to USC next Thursday for a weekend visit.

A quick happy trails to WR James Onwualu, who followed in the path of former Cretin-Derham star and family friend Michael Floyd by committing to Notre Dame on Wednesday.

Quickly: Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler will visit March 24th ($, info in header). NJ DE Dajuan Drennon is setting up a visit for the spring game ($, info in header). Tremendous catches up with MA WR Zach Bradshaw after last weekend's visit, and Bradshaw reveals that the coaches are looking to take three WRs in this class. Michigan made an early impression on '14 QB Chandler Kincade after he visited a few weeks ago ($, info in header). The Wolverines are one of several big-name schools currently showing interest in Plainfield (IL) South LB Clifton Garrett, one of the top sophomores in the region ($, info in header). TomVH goes over the top wideout targets in the '13 class ($). LOLMSU.

Dear Diary Already Made a List

Dear Diary Already Made a List

Submitted by Seth on March 16th, 2012 at 8:14 AM

imageiobimagegwzt

User 'jonvalk's tribute to the seniors. Anime Novak needs moar blood. And blue hair. Gotta have blue hair.

First to anyone in Ann Arbor, I hope you're safe from the heavy stuff last night, when mother nature decided to go all Notre Dame on State Street while drafting Haylie Wagner to hail softballs upon ye. That thread also has a video of people watching a tornado from the disc golf course at Hudson Mills. I'm sure the bathroom's safe guys.

Of the century all time recently. The storm of the century is the worst segue ever into the last week's two weeks' three weeks' (sorry: vacation) discussions of all-century things that took place in the last 30 years or so. The all-times are collected by 'justingoblue', who went around the internet to collect a comprehensive list of Michigan championships in all sports. Brian's query on an MGoBlog Hall of Fame led to a diary by 'Tom from AA' with year by year nominees. And 'saveferris' took us back to the year Ferris Bueller came out (1986) to relive the Super Bowl Shuffle, Never-Nervous Purvis, and one of Bo's best teams, featuring Harbaugh and Morris and Rivers and Elliot. I've got three Diarists of the Week(s) to give out, and one goes to saveferris to encourage him to keep doing these.douglassUConn1_original_display_image

The basketballs. Hoops nerdery these days seems to revolve around two questions: can I write the definitive piece on Rasheed Wallace, and three-pointers. On the second we've got you covered by ehatch who absolutely drained a Diarist of the Week(s) by parsing through available data to find out if more than 20 treys starts to negatively affect your offensive efficiency. Conclusion:

So as we go into the post season:

  • Cackle with knowing glee if Michigan is driving the basket
  • Worry if we draw a zone team that forces us to shoot a lot of 3 pointers.

There was also a temporally useful rooting guide for selection sunday 'mistersuits' deserves some credit for. OHIO, or THE University of OHIO, or whatever you know the green one, was one of the cackle with glee draws.

All the recruits.

It is a period of in-state war.
   Michigan staffers, striking from an arboreal
  hidden base, have won their first victory against
  the evil empire of Port-a-Cool defecators. During the
   battle, Rebel spies managed to steal highly rated recruits
from the heart of the Empire with enough talent to destroy
the entire Big~Ten Conference.                                                       
    Pursued by the Empire's sinister lackey, Darthtonio, King Hoke races home
    aboard his starship (hey we have to spend the budget on something), custodian
of the stolen talent that can save the Wolverines and restore freedom to the galaxy

Zf3fD

Let's let 'maizedandconfused' tell you what happens next. I promise no gungans or Jake Lloyd.

Michigan has locked up what's already an end game Top 5 class (Ace's conf update) almost a year before NSD. I'm at a loss for appropriate metaphors and thus devolving into a puddle of ectoplasm that relates everything to Star Wars. This is eee-cause if you put the last year in recruiting against your expectations, the only thing comparable is Memorial Day Weekend of '77. At least there's 'turd ferguson' to provide composite rankings from the sites that have bothered to even rank guys this early.

At this rate we're going to have to put up the 2014 Offer Board pretty soo…what? 'Bluestreak' already did that.

The hockeys. There's four great articles, all by the last Diarist of the Week(s), CenterIce, most linked to and discussed already by Brian in his hockey columns or bumped by me. But here they are again in case you missed them.

Lee Moffie Chill Michigan State v Michigan dxwPWcmHGTAl: A look at the line combinations and whether they're working.

Frozen-Diamond-Faceoff-1-15-12-0418: A recap of each player's performance during the regular season.

34yyzbt: Notre Dame Picture Pages

k3raly: A preview of that game.

The LAX. Here's 'MaizeAndBlueWahoo' with Michigan Lacrosse at the half-way point of its inaugural varsity season. He has efficiency stats. Efficiency stats? Srsly? Siri: set reminder, watch a friggin' lacrosse game already.

Etc. At first 'BlueDragon' was like "tennis?" and then he was like "tennis!!!" If you can Google things, please help The Mathlete. We will all benefit. Blockhams can't tell the difference between Ohio and OHIO; Blockhams get romantic after B1G titles, Blockhams rock the RVB flow. Silly Blockhams.

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Best of the Board

ALL THE BANNERS (ALL THE BANNERS!)

NCAAChampionshipbannerHonored5-1NCAASweetSixteenBannerHome

'Wolverine Devotee' is trying to redesign Crisler's banners to go with the new digs. I like the idea of offsetting Cazzie (the only retired number) and putting Sweet 16 and Elite 8 appearances on collective banners. These were emailed to Dave Brandon who promptly wrote back "NEEDS MOAR Ms!!!!"

WD also stumbled upon the '98 Big Ten championship banner that upperclassmen held over my head for matriculating after the year of money sport awesome. Since basketball was wiped from the books* the search is on for the best year ever. 'AC1997' is defining this as football/basketball, so I guess the standard is '88-'89: 9-2-1 with close shouldn't-a-been losses to #1 and #2, and won the Rose Bowl, plus the hoops NC.

Lastly in banner bannerism, some guy thinks the "Hoke Springs Eternal" banner is due for a three-sport update. If you come up with a good one the dude will abide.

YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG

The limits of my computer skills are I subscribe to the NewEgg newsletter and once installed Ubuntu: not high. But even I got this xkcd:

And that's *another* crypto conference I've been kicked out of. C'mon, it's a great analogy!

… so it's scaring the hell out of me that the people who are actually in charge of machines that everyone in the world wants to break into are all like "dude, Microsoft Security Essentials—it's free!"  Fortunately for democracy the University of Michigan is here to hack through the hack software they put in e-voting machines. I'll let 'DubbaEwwTeeEff' take it from here:

The news articles at the time reported that they had hacked the system to play "The Victors" after a vote was cast - but that was only the first sign of infiltration. They also managed to add an "OWNED" picture to the logout page, discover the authentication codes for every DC voter, and modify every ballot to be write-ins for fictional computers and robots.  (Bender beat Skynet for head of the school board.)

Several other schools were trying but were fended off by the Michigan students, proving once again that the best way to protect the sanctity of our republican system is to have Wolverines protecting the voting machines. I've been saying this a long time.

A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER TO A BETTER SON OR DAUGHTER

Sometimes when you're on, you're copying When You're On:

That's Catholic Central with the homage to Paul's preview of 2009. HT 'Denarded'.

PAIRWISE PAIRWISE PAIRWISE AHHAHAHAHAHAH

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If you're obsessive over figuring out scenarios for College Hockey Plinko Tournament 2012, or you just get perverse joy from having Michigan come up a 1 seed all the time, USCHO has the pairwise predictor up. User 'goblue7612' puts up a worst case scenario and challenges you to see if you can knock us from the 1 seed. User 'turd ferguson' could drop us as low as 6th in a world where Miami beats Bowling Green in the CCHA championship Saturday. I'm planning on being at the Joe tomorrow night so please let's not (Michigan plays BG in the semifinal at 8:00 tonight).

STILL ADDICTED TO SOFTBALL LINES

WagnerSpeiermanDreisinga

Wagner/Speierman/Driesenga: MGoBlue.com

Our ridiculous (read: awesome) pitchers are ridiculous (read: awesome):

Player ERA W-L GS CG SHO IP H R ER BB SO OBA
Haylie Wagner 1.66 12-2 11 9 3 81.1 55 19 15 14 53 0.191
Stephanie Speierman 1.83 1-0 2 1 1 15.1 13 5 4 6 17 0.220
Sara Driesenga 2.60 4-5 11 3 1 62.0 64 34 23 18 29 0.261

I didn't update after the Oklahoma game last night but these stats are good through the 2-1 victory over Notre Dame in Game 1 of the Judi Garman Classic. (Update: they lost to Okla, but the stats are hardly different). They need the bats (including Wagner's) to give them some support. Next week the gals come home to start Big Ten play.

ETC. Check in with your football background on this thread by 'jasputan.' Sparty copped "Facepalm" guy with "Owmyoccipital" guy; he gets photoshopped. People with umich.edu accounts spent a night ignoring Reply-All email etiquette to pass around MGoMemes. Kids these days—I went to school before people respected the awesome power of reply-all. And we used PINE.

-----------------------------------------

* In light of UNC and Ohio State recently joining the ranks of teams which O'Brien is helping me remember anew, it's as good a time as any to remark again that I hate this particular form of "punishment." I get that it's shaming for the ineligible player and the program but in essence it's a group of America's best academic institutions rewriting history.

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New Weekly Feature: Your moment of zen:

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Tuesday Recruitin' Holds the Raw Eggs and Olive Oil

Tuesday Recruitin' Holds the Raw Eggs and Olive Oil

Submitted by Ace on March 13th, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Today's recruiting roundup examines the bizarre weight-gain strategy of a walk-on long snapper, takes a sneak peek at the weekend's upcoming visits, and discusses a few top-flight wideouts with interest in seeing Ann Arbor.

Hello: Ryan Glasgow

2012 recruiting: not dead yet. Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on yesterday in Aurora (IL) Marmion St. Francis OL Ryan Glasgow, the younger brother of Michigan sophomore-to-be Graham Glasgow. The younger Glasgow is 6'4", 265, and held offers from Wyoming and a handful of FCS schools. Junior highlights:

Fellow 2012 preferred walk-on Taybor Pepper, a long snapper from Saline, was profiled on Ann Arbor.com by Rich Rezler. Pepper is looking to pack on some weight to his 6'3", 190 lbs. frame, and he has an interesting method for doing so:

Two raw eggs. One-third cup of olive oil. A big scoop of ice cream. Fresh fruit. Blend. Enjoy.

That unusual concoction is only part of Taybor Pepper’s nightly weight-gain routine.

He also whips up three peanut butter sandwiches. One goes on his nightstand, near the alarm clock set for 2 a.m., when he’ll wake and devour it in the dark.

The other two go in his backpack, a mid-morning snack during class at Saline High School that bridges a high-calorie breakfast and lunch.

Rocky Balboa and Elvis Presley both approve.

Weekend Visitors

The running back situation. You have questions. The answers are, well, murky, even to some of the principal parties. Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith will visit Michigan this weekend amidst rumors he's slowing down his recruitment—just a few days ago, it seemed he'd inevitably commit if Ty Isaac didn't beat him to the punch—and he seems either undecided or unsure about the situation at this point ($):

While Smith would not rule out the possibility of committing to Michigan this weekend, even he does not know what to expect.

“I don’t know,” Smith said. “I really don’t know. I’m really going to take it all in. I’m not going in planning to commit at all.”

Smith’s coach is currently in the process of coordinating upcoming visits to Ohio State and Penn State. Have any schools separated themselves from the pack at this point?

“Nobody really stands out,” Smith said.

I'm not going to speculate about what's going on without first-hand information, so you'll have to decide for yourself—or better yet, just wait and see how things play out—what this means regarding Smith and Isaac.

Another 2013 prospect who will be on campus is tight end Scott Orndoff, who decommitted from Wisconsin a couple weeks ago after changes to their coaching staff. He sounds like he could be eying another early decision, especially with the way Michigan's class is filling up ($):

“If I decide I want to go there, I will have to make a decision quickly,” Orndoff said, “because of how quickly they are filling their spots. Like every player I just want what is best for me. Like whether it would be the school (academics), or how much playing time I am going to get. There is a lot that goes into it (recruiting). But definitely the way this class is filling up, I can’t take my time if I decide to go there. They are not going got wait for me, you know.”

Orndoff is one of just two remaining uncommitted tight ends currently holding an offer from Michigan (the other being Standish Dobard); he seems like the most likely player to fill a potential third TE spot in the class.

Meanwhile, the Cass Tech connection continues, as a trio of Technician linebackers will make the quick trip down to Ann Arbor this weekend ($). All three players—OLB William White, OLB Deon Drake, and MLB Gary Hosey, who transferred to CT from Farmington Hills Harrison—are class of 2014 prospects. If you're wondering, the answer is yes, I will be seeing my fair share of Cass Tech games this fall.

Future Visitors, Interested Prospects, Happy Trails, Etc.

One player who was rumored to be making a mid-week visit is Cretin-Derham (MN) WR James Onwualu, but plans for a Wednesday visit fell through. That doesn't mean interest in the Wolverines isn't there, however, as Onwualu named a top four (in no particular order) of Michigan, Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Stanford ($). He's got visits scheduled for Ohio State and ND the next couple weekends, and expect him to reschedule his Michigan visit soon; the last time we talked, Onwualu was planning to graduate early and he's looking to wrap up his recruitment in the near future.

Two other four-star receivers have recently expressed interest in visiting Ann Arbor. Charlotte (NC) Mallard Creek's MarQuez North originally hails from Flint, and he's looking to visit Michigan "when it warms up," according to 247 ($, info in header). Smart kid. Wylie (TX) East's Marcell Ateman expects to check out the Wolverines soon, either in the spring or summer ($, info in header). Michigan also had a wideout on campus last weekend in Damascus (MD) prospect Zach Bradshaw, who rated his visit a "nine out of ten" and said he wants to check out Ann Arbor again in the future ($).

A couple more players to keep an eye on: District Heights (MD) Bishop McNamara DT Darius Commissiong, who recently earned an Iowa offer, will be in the Big House for the spring game on April 14th ($). Another potential future visitor is Elyria (OH) DE Tracy Sprinkle, who says the coaching staff has an offer waiting for him if he makes it to campus ($).

We can officially wish happy trails to TE Adam Breneman, who committed to childhood favorite Penn State last Friday, marking a huge recruiting victory for coach Bill O'Brien. Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins was expected to commit to Stanford on Saturday, but a last-minute offer from USC has caused him to hold off for now ($, info in header). While Hawkins had Michigan in his final group, he never visited; expect him to stay out on the West Coast.

Quickly: Free Rivals article on Shane Morris, Brady Hoke, and Michigan's in-state recruiting efforts in comparison to other in-state schools (and, yes, in comparison to Rich Rodriguez—you know this story). Bill Greene looks at Hoke's impressive work in Ohio for the 2013 class ($). Commit Chris Fox is named Scout's top interior lineman in the West ($)—they do mention that he has the size and versatility to play anywhere on the line.

Chatting With Wyatt Shallman, Wolverine

Chatting With Wyatt Shallman, Wolverine

Submitted by Ace on March 13th, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Novi (MI) Detroit Catholic Central running back Wyatt Shallman committed to Michigan during the Greatest Mid-February Weekend in the History of Mid-February Weekends, giving the Wolverines one of the top in-state athletes in the class of 2013. Shallman plays running back, defensive end, and defensive tackle for CC, but he'll come to Ann Arbor as a tailback. I caught up with Wyatt over the weekend to discuss his commitment, future role, and physical style of play:

ACE: What made you decide a couple weekends ago that it was the right time to commit to Michigan?

WYATT: There's a couple things that went into it, but my dad and I went down to Michigan and talked to Coach Jackson real in-depth. Just hearing his side of it and talking to more of the coaches made the difference.

ACE: What did you get into when you talked to Coach Jackson? What did he tell you that firmed things up for you?

WYATT: We just talked about positions and how he sees me playing. It checked out with the things that I want to do.

ACE: Specifically, I know there have been a lot of questions when it comes down to position, how do they plan on using you when you come to school?

WYATT: At running back, and that's what I want to play, so that's why I liked it.

ACE: What do you think are your biggest strengths on the field, especially when it comes to being a running back. What do you bring that isn't necessarily what your more traditional running back might bring?

WYATT: There's not too many running backs who are 6'3", 250. I think I bring a lot of speed and power for that size of back, so I think that's what I bring to the game. I'm a one-cut running, so I think I'm going to bring back the power game to Michigan. I don't dance too much, that's what I think I'm good at.

ACE: You said you're weighing in at about 250 right now. Have the coaches said what size they'd like you to be at when you come to school?

WYATT: No, we haven't really talked about that. I think they like the size that I'm at and the speed that I'm at. I could always get faster, but if I can keep this weight and get faster, why not?

ACE: Going back to your commitment, you committed during what ended up being a crazy weekend of commits. What was it like seeing a large part of the class come together during that weekend?

WYATT: It was pretty crazy. You don't really get too many weekends like that in recruiting, so it was pretty exciting to see all the big names go up there on the ticker. Just seeing my name on ESPN was pretty sweet.

ACE: It seems like you guys have become a pretty tight-knit group of players. Which players do you keep in contact with, and what's it like being with a group that's already so tight-knit with 11 months to go before signing day?

WYATT: It's pretty interesting to have that. I keep in touch with Khalid Hill and Shane [Morris] and Kyle Bosch a lot. The reason I keep in touch with Shane is, you know, we play them, so that's always interesting. Khalid is just a nice kid, and then Kyle I've been texting a lot. It's an interesting thing because back even a couple years ago you really don't even know anyone until you get to the school, and now with social media and all that stuff you can really become friends with people before you really get to meet them and hang out with them a lot. It's a blessing in disguise because you get to come in with that unity on the team, but you're not quite a team yet. It's great.

ACE: You also had your teammate Matt Godin committing last year. Were you talking to Matt at all before you made your decision?

WYATT: He gave me advice on how to handle the recruiting process. He didn't really force Michigan on me, which I liked. He just said, "you've got to make the right decision for you and your family," so that really helped a lot. It just happened to be Michigan and that's where he happened to go, so it all worked out.

ACE: Looking forward to next season, you guys have a little bit of unfinished business at Catholic Central. What's the goal for next year both for the team and for you personally?

WYATT: For the team and I, it's always a state championship. It was a disappointing season last year to get to the state title game and lose in that fashion, but it's put a lot of oomf in our steps and we've been working out every day for the past two months now just to get ready for the season, so it's kind of a blessing in disguise to lose like that. Now we know what it takes to get to a state championship and we know we have to work a little bit harder to win it. It'll be an exciting season for our team, we have a lot of people coming back, and we have some great talent. Me, personally, I just want to go for 1,000 yards rushing, do great on defense, and just help my team win a state championship. That's the name of the game so that's what I'm trying to do.

ACE: You mentioned working out every day with your teammates, and I also saw that you've been working out with Mike Barwis, too. What's it like getting into the weight room with Barwis?

WYATT: It's pretty crazy. He's an intense dude about it. It helps a lot, and it's cool—I do a lot of the power lifting and conditioning at school, so when I go to Barwis it's more of like the tuner muscles and that sort of thing, and the fine running motion. It's pretty interesting to pick his brain about all he knows about the subject and certain little nuances of everything. It's interesting to talk to him about all of it, and like I said, he's a crazy guy, he likes to get after it, so it's pretty exciting to lift with him.

ACE: Talking about Michigan's coaching staff real quick, what set them apart from the other coaches you interacted with when going through the recruiting process?

WYATT: They're just a great bunch of guys. They're really lighthearted, but they like to get down to work, and that's the way I am. I love to joke around, I love to have fun, but once you have to do it you have to get down to work and that's the way they are. That's what I'm really excited for. It just felt right, it felt like family. I want people who want to help me grow as a man and not just a football player, and I really feel like that staff can help me, so that's why I liked them and I'm excited to get in and work with them.

ACE: What else about Michigan stood out to you?

WYATT: Just their tradition; they're always going to be one of the top college football teams ever. You can't really contest Michigan and what they've done in college sports. It's a universal name, you can go anywhere and people know about Michigan and what they do. That's always been an attractive thought about Michigan, so that's why I've always kinda liked them. Also, it's a great school. You can't get too much better than a public Ivy, you can really set yourself up for later in life. Even though the reason why I'm going to Michigan right now is for football, I have to get ready for after the NFL, so it's a great place to be.

ACE: I've seen quotes from you, and I remember you saying something along these lines when I interviewed you last year, about the physical aspect of football and your enjoyment of "smashing heads," as I think you like to say. What is it about the physical side of football that you enjoy so much?

WYATT: There's not too many sports you can play where you can basically maul people and not get in trouble for it. Football is one of those sports. You can't walk around in public and just hit people as hard as you want to, you'll get arrested. Football lets you do that and that's why I've always liked it. Ever since I was a little kid I've always liked to hit. My dad, he played college football for Grand Valley, he's always loved it. I just grew up loving it. It's truly an arena where men can show their skills and test each other against other men and really show what you've got, so that's why I like. It truly is the gridiron and you've got to go out there and be a man amongst boys.

ACE: That seems almost like a defensive mentality when it comes to football. Would you say that's something extra that you bring to the offensive side of the football when you're playing, that willingness to hit people and bring that physical side to it?

WYATT: Yeah. I've learned a lot of my physicality just from playing at Catholic Central. We're a running football team, we hit you. I've always thought if you play offense like you're on defense, they can't really stop you, because you've got both sides of the ball going at you, you can't really get too much better. If you hit people like that—I think you want to shell-shock a defense into not wanting to hit you, so that's the whole mentality about it and that's what Catholic Central teaches, so that's what I've kinda come to love.