Monday Recruitin' Kicks Butt (NTB)

Monday Recruitin' Kicks Butt (NTB)

Submitted by Ace on September 10th, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Today's recruiting roundup wraps up last weekend's high school football action and more.

Jake "Butts" In Early*

Tim Sullivan reports that tight end commit Jake Butt made arrangements with his high school and the Michigan coaching staff to graduate in December and enroll early ($). Kyle Bosch, Taco Charlton, Ross Douglas, and Logan Tuley-Tillman are also slated to arrive in Ann Arbor this winter, and Dymonte Thomas will likely join that number as well.

Given the lack of depth at tight end, this is great news for the Wolverines. Devin "The Funchess" Funchess emerged on Saturday as the future at the position, but he's more of an H-back ("U"-back in the Borges offense) or big wide receiver than a traditional tight end, while Butt has the versatility to play with his hand down or off the line. Butt has a good shot at earning a large role in the offense next year and this increases his shot of earning a starting job right away.

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*Jesus, I'm sorry.

Backs On Backs On Backs

Michigan only has two running backs committed in the class of 2013, but you wouldn't know that based on last weekend's high school football games. Cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead Avon to a 40-14 victory. Future Wolverine linebacker Ben Gedeon tallied 107 yards on 18 carries to help Hudson to a win of their own. Safety Dymonte Thomas spearheaded a Marlington comeback with 166 yards and two touchdowns—including the go-ahead score—on 19 carries. Then there was 285-pound nose tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., who pounded in a one-yard touchdown in a Xaverian Brothers blowout victory, set up by a 24-yard run in which he dragged two defenders to the brink of the goal line.

Actual running back DeVeon Smith toted the rock 26 times for 183 yards and the game-winning touchdown for Warren Howland despite a sore shoulder, but that's to be expected, right?

It's hard to believe, but some Michigan commits had the nerve to excel at non-RB positions over the weekend, as well. Two-way lineman Chris Fox, who is slated to play guard for Michigan, paved the way for a 34-14 Ponderosa victory and earned the admiration of a Highlands Ranch coach:

"Hey, Foxie," an opposing assistant coach yelled Saturday afternoon after the final play. "Great job. You kicked our butts."

Shane Morris, who received his Under Armour All-American Game jersey at a school pep rally last Thursday, completed 9-of-18 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown as De La Salle beat Dearborn Fordson, 40-19.

Wide receiver Jaron Dukes hauled in six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown to help Marion-Franklin to a 28-3 victory over Canal Winchester.

Perhaps the biggest star of the weekend, however, was Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who tallied 11 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks in a 13-6 triumph over national powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. The loss snapped a 46-game winning streak for the Ironmen.

Etc.

While the Air Force game wasn't the huge visit weekend that Michigan State will be, there will still some major targets on campus. A large Cass Tech contingent made the short trip from Detroit, including 2014 CB Damon Webb, who told Tremendous that he could see himself ending up in Maize and Blue. 2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles took in the game and told Allen Trieu($) that the B2 stealth bomber flyover was "incredible." 2013 in-state kicker J.J. McGrath was on hand as well and told Tremendous the visit really helped Michigan, though the deciding factor for him will likely be which school offers him a scholarship.

Things have been quiet on the Joe Mathis front, at least where Michigan is concerned, and it sounds like it could stay that way for the 2013 California four-star: he told Rivals analyst Adam Gorney that he plans to take official visits to Texas A&M, Washington, and Utah, and isn't sure where else he'll visit following a good trip to UCLA ($).

Happy trails to 2014 five-star AL RB Bo Scarbrough, who predictably made an early pledge to hometown squad Alabama.

Thursday Recruitin' Listens To The Right People

Thursday Recruitin' Listens To The Right People

Submitted by Ace on September 6th, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Today's recruiting roundup is short and sweet, as Monday's edition got bumped back to Tuesday; read on for updates on weekend visitors and a compelling feature on Maurice Hurst Jr.

Maurice Hurst Jr. Feature

The Boston Globe's Bob Holmes profiled commit Maurice Hurst Jr. this week, focusing on his relationship with his father, former New England Patriots defensive back Maurice Hurst. The elder Hurst has never seen his son play football and is almost entirely out of the picture, though he did try to give Maurice Jr. some advice on his recruitment:

One effort by Hurst Sr. to get involved backfired earlier this year.

The last time Maurice saw his father was freshman year, when he and his mother traveled to New Orleans, Hurst Sr.’s hometown. Since then there has been no contact, until they spoke just prior to Maurice’s commitment to Michigan in June.

“My mom told me to give him a call to talk about schools. It was kind of uncomfortable because he kind of wanted me to go to LSU or Alabama. He didn’t really think Michigan was an ideal school so it kind of frustrated me a little bit.’’

Maurice never told his father he was going to Michigan.

“My mom may have, I’m not really sure.’’

Hurst Jr. said in the article that he was looking for a school that balanced great academics with a shot at the NFL instead of just looking for a football school, so his final choice was not a surprise. The whole piece is well worth a read, and I'm sure Michigan coaches are excited to hear that Hurst's fabled 75-yard touchdown run last season came on a "power right" playcall.

Weekend Visitors Update

By his standards, it's been a while since IL WR Laquon Treadwell visited Ann Arbor. That will change this weekend, however, as he's set up an unofficial visit for the Air Force game:

According to Josh Helmholdt, Treadwell also has an unofficial visit set up for Ole Miss the next weekend when they host Alabama ($). It's great for Michigan to get Treadwell back on campus, but I wouldn't expect a commitment; he's been steadfast in his insistence that he take visits before making a decision.

Also visiting this weekend is 2014 OH TE/DE Chance Sorrell, according to Tremendous. Michigan is joined by Wisconsin and Tennessee in Sorrell's top group, though none of the three have offered as of yet. TN OL Alex Bars, younger brother of Michigan freshman Blake Bars, also plans to attend the Air Force game, via Tim Sullivan ($). A handful of commits will be there as well, though not ace recruiter Shane Morris, who has a game against Cincinnati Moeller on Saturday afternoon.

Etc.

Tremendous's Gobluegr gives us a name to watch as Michigan rounds out the 2013 class: Ann Arbor Pioneer cornerback Dewan Olive-Abinojar, who was very impressive when the Pioneers played Warren De La Salle (Shane Morris) in the season opener. Curt Mallory reached out to Olive-Abinojar after that game and told him he could potentially earn a scholarship, though I suspect he's a backup plan if the Wolverines miss out on higher-rated targets. Olive-Abinojar plans to attend the Michigan State game and says it's likely he'd commit if Michigan offered.

Happy trails to 2014 WI DE Conor Sheehy, who decided to stay in-state and commit to Wisconsin. The Badgers are off to a nice start in their 2014 class with four prospects—including MI QB Chance Stewart—already in the fold.

Tuesday Recruitin' Moves On

Tuesday Recruitin' Moves On

Submitted by Ace on September 4th, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's high school action, bids farewell to a couple wide receiver targets, and looks forward to a big visit weekend for... basketball?

Get That Man A Square-Toed Shoe

Michigan commits Jaron Dukes (Marion-Franklin) and Taco Charlton (Pickerington Central) faced off against each other this past weekend; Central came away with a 45-24 victory, and MGoUser Dubs was there to take in the action. If you're looking to submit a scouting report for Future Blue Originals, this is how it's done:

DE/LB Taco Charlton, 2013:  Despite Marion-Frankin running away from Taco (about 80% of the time), he managed to rack up 8 tackles, and a tackle for loss (zero sacks).  It was about 50/50 as to whether he had his hand down as a DE, or whether he was lined up as an OLB.  Pickerington Central did show multiple fronts, ranging from a 3-3-5(!), 3-4, and a 4-3 (with Taco as DE).  He even saw around 5 snaps on offense, and caught a nice PA-pass for a 15 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter.  He did leave early in the 4th quarter after an apparent shoulder injury (possibly a stinger).  But after being checked with a trainer, Taco was out there after a couple of plays, only to be banned to the sideline for the rest of the game after the game was well in hand.  Pickerington Central won 45-24.

As far as the "eyeball test," I must admit I was a little disappointed at Taco's lack of aggression.  There were moments when a sure passing down approached, and I expected to see that pass-rushing prowess we all read about in 7 on 7's this summer, but I did not see it.  The tackle guarding him was very large (some may say "fat," but I don't want to personally attack a kid), and VERY slow, so I was expecting Taco to beat him off the line, lower his shoulder, and destroy the QB.  Instead, he relied more on his inside spin more than anything.  I will suspect that perhaps, it was because the QB was a very good athlete, Taco was in charge of contain more than anything. Marion-Franklin sent a back to chip Taco's outside pass-rush, as well, which also would limit his opportunities. However,  I feel there were times where Taco could have taken over the game but did not. I do not know if it is a motor issue, or the coaches playing him conservatively against a dual threat QB.

WR Jaron Dukes, 2013:  It was very difficult for Dukes to get involved, mostly because the Marion-Franklin QB relied more on his feet than anything.  The throws the QB did make were hitches, outs, slants, and screens of all sorts.  That being said, Dukes still managed to haul in 5 passes (out of 8 targets) for about 42 yards.  He was targeted for a TD jump-ball thrown to him early in the 1st quarter, in which he had a height advantage of at least 6 inches over the opposing defender, however, the ball was vastly under-thrown, and was broken up.  Dukes also dropped a possible TD pass (at least a very large gain) during the hurry-up in the waning seconds of the 2nd. Dukes also handled the kickoff duties, which, if Michigan is looking for some sort of "Tom Dempsey style" kicker/WR hybrid, they got their man.

As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine).  There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog.  Perhaps he is not used to getting much "love," as most of the passing offense derived from the slot receivers (which if true, why not put Dukes in slot?).  I will say this, he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.

Overall, I felt that these two looked the part of a D-1 prospect.  However, it is hard to tell their true potential based on their supporting cast:  obviously you'll run away from Taco because his supporting DE looked half his size.  And it's hard to get any love as an outside receiver when your QB cannot make the throws.  So, I had to remind myself: these kids are prospects. And with that, I have great faith in the Michigan coaches that they can mold these kids into serviceable players or, hopefully, even stars.

A huge thanks to Dubs for sending this in, as well as bringing up the possibility of a Michigan wide receiver also handling kicks "Tom Dempsey style."

[Hit THE JUMP for the full recruiting roundup, including info on what could be a huge visit weekend for the basketball program.]

Thursday Recruitin' Lives On The Field Or Dies Trying

Thursday Recruitin' Lives On The Field Or Dies Trying

Submitted by Ace on August 30th, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Today's recruiting roundup covers Cass Tech's Hell Week, the latest on the Technician juniors, Maurice Hurst's surprising versatility, and more.

All Cass Tech Everything

Dick's Sporting Goods was on hand during Cass Tech's "Hell Week" to chronicle their preparation for the season. Part one is above and you can find the rest of the videos at their YouTube page. Jourdan Lewis features briefly in episode one. Head coach Thomas Wilcher does not seem like the type you'd want to cross, to say the least.

The star of Cass Tech's opening week victory, junior corner Damon Webb, currently has a top four of LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State (no order), according to ESPN's Jared Shanker ($). Webb will check out the Michigan State-Boise State matchup this weekend and plans to head to games at each of his top schools; expect him to visit the Big House multiple times this year.

Matt Pargoff continues to compile highlights from last weekend's action, and junior LB William White's tape is well worth a watch. White is #6 in, er, white, though you won't have to look hard find him—he's the heat-seeking missile:

White got a little too focused on laying big hits in the middle there, trying to lay guys out with his shoulder instead of wrapping up, but that's an easy fix. If he can learn to play more controlled, Big Ten offers await. According to Tim Sullivan, White is already hearing from Michigan State and Ohio State ($)

Pargoff also has highlights of junior LB/RB Deon Drake from Saturday; he did most of his work on offense and was a load to bring down, even for MSU commit Jon Reschke.

[Hit THE JUMP for Maurice Hurst Jr. doing things no 300-pound man should be able to do.]

Future Blue Originals: De La Salle vs. Pioneer And Prep Kickoff Classic

Future Blue Originals: De La Salle vs. Pioneer And Prep Kickoff Classic

Submitted by Ace on August 28th, 2012 at 3:30 PM

It was a marathon opening weekend of high school football; Shane Morris and Warren De La Salle overcame early struggles to soundly defeat Pioneer on Friday night, then Saturday featured four marquee matchups in the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State headlined by a heavyweight tilt between Division I state champs Cass Tech and Division II state champs Brother Rice.

A note before I move along to the scouting portion: Yes, there was a shooting scare on Saturday night. It's remarkably unfortunate that a fight between a couple of idiots—in which someone threatened to pull a gun and caused a panic, though the police say no gun was present—has marred what was otherwise a stellar event. Kurt Kosmowski, Marty Dobek, and the whole Detroit Sports Commission crew put a ton of effort into pulling together 12 high school teams over two days, giving these young athletes a chance to play at a college stadium in front of nearly 10,000 people. The DSC has announced that they'll once again hold the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State next year; while I hope they beef up security a bit, I'm also confident that they'll once again put together a first-rate football showcase.

[UPDATE: I got clarification of what actually went on from Tim. There was an argument that caused the first rush of people running to avoid the confrontation, and officials stopped the game since people ran onto the field. The fight continued in another area of the concourse soon after, and this unfortunately coincided with fireworks at nearby Comerica Park, which people mistook for gunshots. There was no gun present. Apologies if there was any misunderstanding about the situation.]

With that out of the way, let's get to the recap of all the action after THE JUMP.

Recruitin' Mailbag: '13 YMRMFSPA, Biggest '14 Needs, Shane Morris Stats

Recruitin' Mailbag: '13 YMRMFSPA, Biggest '14 Needs, Shane Morris Stats

Submitted by Ace on August 23rd, 2012 at 1:10 PM


YMRMFSPA: [404 File Not Found]

The recruiting news isn't coming as fast and furious as earlier this summer, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to discuss. This week's Recruitin' Mailbag covers the biggest needs in the 2014 class, the 2013 recruit with the best player comparison, potential switches in the 2012 class, and why Shane Morris's high school stats don't match the hype. If you'd like to ask a question for the next mailbag, email me or tag your question with #mgomailbag on Twitter.

What are the three biggest priorities for the 2014 class in terms of positions? — @browngalaga

Two position groups immediately stand out to me as top priorities for the 2014 class: quarterback and running back. While Michigan appears to have their quarterback of the future in Shane Morris, they didn't take a QB in 2012; if Devin Gardner doesn't get his medical redshirt, Morris and Russell Bellomy will be the only scholarship QBs on the roster in 2014. With Morris in the fold, it's not imperative that Michigan takes a top-100 type, but they'll need a solid prospect who's a good bet to start as an upperclassman.

At running back, Michigan isn't lacking in pure numbers—barring attrition, six scholarship RBs will be around in 2014, plus fullback Sione Houma—but they're still missing that workhorse, every-down back that Wolverine fans are accustomed to seeing. Instead, there's currently a variety of situational backs—Hayes and Norfleet as slot types, Rawls and Shallman as battering rams—plus DeVeon Smith and Drake Johnson. I don't see Johnson as a threat to crack the two-deep at running back, putting a lot of pressure on Smith to pan out. If Michigan whiffs on Derrick Green, they'll need a big-time prospect to come through in 2014.

As for the third position of need, that's a little tougher to pick, which says a lot about the job Hoke and Co. have done filling the holes in the roster. I'd go with nose tackle; unless Willie Henry and Maurice Hurst Jr. both land there and develop into rotation guys, there will be a huge need for depth behind Ondre Pipkins. At a position where you need a solid rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, getting at least one guy who can clog the middle certainly wouldn't hurt.

[HIT THE JUMP FOR DYMONTE THOMAS YMRMFSPA AND MORE]

Friday Recruitin' Is Heir To The Ottoman Throne

Friday Recruitin' Is Heir To The Ottoman Throne

Submitted by Ace on August 17th, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Today's recruiting roundup features the initial 2014 Top247, the inspiring story of Dareian Watkins, Shane Morris's strange celebratory dance, and more.

I See Your Raekwon And Raise You A Draequan


Swagger advantage: Suleiman, barely

Given that it's the August before their junior year, it's way too early for a 2014 Top247, but I'll be damned if there isn't one. Michigan commit Michael Ferns* lands at #98, a four-spot drop from his placement in 247's early top 100. Other prospects with Wolverine offers:

  • VA DE Da'Shawn Hand — #1 overall
  • NJ CB Jabrill Peppers — #3
  • LA OT Cameron Robinson — #4
  • LA RB Leonard Fournette — #5
  • TX S Edward Paris — #11
  • KS OT Braden Smith — #12
  • AL ATH Bo Scarbrough — #13
  • MD OT Damian Prince — #14
  • NC OT Bentley Spain — #18
  • CA TE Tyler Luatua — #19
  • OH LB Dante Booker — #20
  • DC CB Jalen Tabor — #21
  • MI DE Malik McDowell — #24
  • TX CB Nick Watkins — #30
  • FL OT Kc McDermott — #38
  • FL DT Khairi Clark — #43
  • FL OT Mason Cole — #44
  • TX OT Demetrius Knox — #47
  • TN ATH Jalen Hurd — #48
  • TN WR Josh Malone — #60
  • AT OT Casey Tucker (USC commit) — #63
  • MO OT Andy Bauer (Mizzou commit) — #68
  • IL OG Jamarco Jones — #82
  • AZ TE Mark Andrews — #85
  • MI WR Drake Harris (MSU commit) — #89
  • MO OT Roderick Johnson — #91
  • OH LB Michael Ferns — #98
  • SC DT Dexter Wideman — #103
  • TX S T'Kevian Rockwell — #115
  • NJ ATH Kiy Hester — #128
  • NC TE Jeb Blazevich — #164
  • IL CB Parrker Westphal — #165
  • TN OT Alex Bars — #168
  • DC CB D'Andre Payne — #171
  • SC TE Kevin Crosby — #181
  • MI CB Damon Webb — #192
  • IL TE Nic Weishar — #205
  • PA S Montae Nicholson — #212
  • MI OT Tommy Doles — #219
  • TX S Brandon Simmons — #226
  • OH DE Joe Henderson — #241
  • GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. — #242

By my count, Michigan has offered 27 of the top 100 prospects and 42 of the top 247. That's... a lot. In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, the coaching staff is focusing on getting offers out to the top national prospects before focusing on evaluating and offering regional talent.

Of course, there are more important matters at hand. Namely, who are the Name of the Year (NOTY for short) candidates in the 2014 class? The class of 2013 had a very strong group, but I think it's surpassed by their younger counterparts. There is GA LB Raekwon McMillian for the Wu-Tang fans, though he may be one-upped by AL S Draequan Murphy. CA CB Adoree' Jackson tacks on not only the extra 'e', but a completely unnecessary apostrophe. LA WR Speedy Noil is an early leader for best nickname. LA WR Malachi Dupree easily beats out NC ATH Elijah Hood for best biblical moniker. The aforementioned T'Kevian Rockwell can't quite match FL LB D'ronzjiah Mathews(!) in the "let's come up with a name before my epidural wears off" category. I'm not sure what an Aggadoria Bowers is, but such a thing exists.

For my money, however, none of those can match the power of CA ATH Sulaiman Hameed, potential lost heir to the Ottoman Empire. If his nickname isn't "The Magnificent," I'll lose all faith in humanity.

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*Great tidbit on Ferns: As pointed out in the comments of yesterday's FBO primer, he is not only Michigan's first recruit from Southeastern Ohio, but the only four-star prospect from the region in the Rivals era. This makes Michigan the only school to pull in a four-star recruit from each region in Ohio.

Now Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back

Part 2 of Shane Morris's Elite11 camp experience has been posted by MGoVideo. I would like to draw your attention to the 1:06 mark:

Fat Joe appreciates your support for the Terror Squad, but thinks you should dial it back a little.

Alvin Bailey: Still Probably Not Happening

Tuesday's update included a story on FL WR Alvin Bailey, who's looking to make his decision soon and has UCF as his stated leader. Things didn't look good for Michigan then, and they certainly don't now that he's picked up a Florida offer ($):

"Alvin was offered by Florida today and no he's not committing tonight and he's not going to commit tomorrow either," [Bailey's HS coach Sean] Callahan said. "He said he'd like to make his decision before September 1 and I expect he'll be a man of his word and get it done before then."

Callahan had said that Bailey was excited about the Florida offer but has a lot of thinking to do.

Any time such a vehement denial of an imminent commitment is required, it's usually a sign that one could very well happen. Even if Bailey still waits until September, it seems very unlikely that he'll leave the state, let alone go all the way up north.

2014 Updates

OH ATH Dareian Watkins is a 2014 Michigan target and a freshly-minted member of the Top247. He also has a remarkable backstory, featured in this must-read article from Allen Trieu:

The story begins painfully, but through years of struggle, persistence and faith, and with the help of good people, it is headed full speed towards a happy ending. Dareian was adopted at 11 years old by Heath and Cheryl Watkins. He calls it the second biggest day of his life. The biggest is the day he was taken from his biological mother.

“I was at school and I got called down to the office,” Dareian said. “Thinking I was in trouble, I took my time. I saw a lady walk out of the office towards me and I didn't know what was going on. They had told me to go straight home after school and say bye to my mom. I didn't think anything of it. I got there and my mom was crying and I hugged her, then they pulled me away and said we had to go.”

The whole thing, obviously, is well worth your time. Watkins is one of those recruits you'll root for regardless of where he ends up.

Michigan sent out an offer this week to three-star PA LB Brenon Thrift, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). Thrift also has scholarship offers from West Virginia and Pittsburgh and says he'll look to visit sometime in the future.

IL DL Brian Allen, who has yet to earn an offer from the Wolverines, has Michigan in his top five with Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State, according to 247's Evan Flood.

Matt Pargoff continues his look at the 2014 class with a rundown of ten cornerback prospects to watch.

Tuesday Recruitin' Rages Against (Wrong) Machine

Tuesday Recruitin' Rages Against (Wrong) Machine

Submitted by Ace on August 14th, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Honey Badger; the latest on Alvin Bailey; scouting reports on Shane Morris, Dymonte Thomas, and Michael Ferns; and more.

Maybe He Just Has Glaucoma, Pawwwwwwl

You might find it unusual that a recruiting post starts off with a story about Tyrann Mathieu's dismissal from the LSU program, but Tony Barnhart's take on the matter is anything but usual. Mathieu reportedly failed multiple drug tests during his time in Baton Rouge, which of course means we should blame the recruiting process. Wait, what?

To some extent we're all guilty for the fall of Tyrann Mathieu.

 When we offer a 14-year old kid a scholarship, we're guilty.

 When we put four or five stars by a kid's name and hang on his every word until he signs on the dotted line, we're guilty.

 When we hold press conferences in high schools for kids to VERBALLY announce where they are going to school, we're guilty.

 When we hold press conferences on national signing day where kids play with hats, signs, dogs and the media turns out in full force and gives the process legitimacy, we're guilty.

 When college coaches tell teenage children anything and everything they (and their parents) want to hear in order to get them to sign because careers and millions of dollars hang in the balance, we're guilty.

 When the sense of entitlement created in high school is allowed to continue in college because winning (and making money) is all that matters, we're guilty.

 When we allow the primary (and sometimes only) goal of these kids to become holding up a jersey with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on a Thursday night in New York City, we're guilty.

 When we in the media go along with the process because we're trying to satisfy the public's insatiable appetite for college football, we're guilty.

I'm all for a good takedown of the current recruiting climate, but please, enlighten me as to how this has anything to do with Tyrann Mathieu. Yes, the "Honey Badger" persona took on a life of its own, but that happened once he was in college. In fact, if you bother to do so much research as clicking on Mathieu's old Scout and Rivals profiles, you'd learn that he wasn't even a consensus four-star. Oh, and he verbally committed in July of his senior year when Les Miles offered him after LSU's camp ($). No waiting until signing day, no press conference, no hats, and certainly no live animals (well, unless you count Les Miles).

If the attention went to Mathieu's head, it was probably the attention that came well after the recruiting process. Or, perhaps, it had nothing to do with attention at all:

We now know that whatever demons Tyrann Mathieu was fighting -- be they the trappings of fame or his difficult upbringing -- he simply could not overcome them. In short, Mathieu's biological father is in prison and his mother could not raise him. He was taken in by a grandfather who died in 1997. Then his aunt and uncle adopted him. The scars were always there.

That's from the same article. I don't think we need to spend too much time digging up reasons that a talented football star repeatedly—gasp!—smoked weed (in college, even!); we definitely don't need to use the fall of the Honey Badger to take on the state of recruiting. If you look hard enough, there are plenty of other stories that could accomplish that end.

But I Had So Many Kid 'n Play Jokes...

FL WR Alvin Bailey is moving closer to choosing a school, telling 247's Chris Nee that he'll probably decide a couple weeks into the season between Florida State, Georgia, UCF, and Michigan ($). Chances are looking, well, not so good:

The Tampa-area prospect once again confirmed that Central Florida is atop his list at this stage.

“They are,” Bailey said when asked if the Knights were his leader. “I feel like it has a great family atmosphere and it is a place I can make a great impact at.”

Bailey doesn't mention Michigan as a school he'll visit again before his decision, meaning it's almost assured that he and his magnificent flat-top will head elsewhere.

Set Phasers To "Effusive"

I've said this before, but I don't think people are properly excited about Dymonte Thomas, who would likely be a top 100 prospect at either running back or safety. According to Thomas's head coach, Ed Miley, he could see time at another position, as well ($) [emphasis mine]:

"We didn't do much with him in today's scrimmage, because we know what he can do, so don't let this fool you at all. He's way better than last year and it will show in the games, trust me," Miley continued. "Today was a day to see what our other guys can do. I spoke to (Michigan assistant coach) Greg Mattison the other day about Dymonte, and we talked about how much better he is this year. Michigan will probably use him as a kickoff returner too, and Mattison said he could help out on offense. Dymonte is on track to graduate early, but the decision hasn't been made about whether he will go to Michigan in January or not. A lot depends on how he feels about playing baseball as a senior, and if he still has thoughts about a pro baseball career. I think Dymonte knows it's all football for him, but we will see how that goes."

It will be interesting to see how Michigan ultimately decides to use Thomas; he might be too skilled and athletic to keep from playing on multiple sides of the ball.

Fellow early 2013 commit Shane Morris, meanwhile, should have no durability concerns if his QB guru, Donovan Dooley, is to be believed:

“Shane would go to his two practices,” Dooley said. “Then come to QBU, which shows his dedication and grind towards being the best in the country. He came to the Silverdome and went full throttle with me.”

He added, “He's a machine. Machines don't get tired.”

Shane Morris, Fall 2013, somewhere deep below Schembechler Hall: "I know MANBALL."

Michigan's latest commitment, 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns, has also come in for the coaching praise treatment in recent days. The Wolverine's Andy Reid caught up with a rival high school coach ($):

"He's very athletic. He's a great kid from a great family, and he has played very well, and he did great against us a year ago. He can do a lot of things. He played some fullback, running back. Offensively, he has good hands, but defensively, I think, is his strong suite [sic], and I believe that's what he's been recruited for. He has good size, range, speed. He finds the ball. Some kids have all the measurable, but they can't find the ball - but he's always around it. He makes a lot of plays for them.["]

Recruiting guru Jim Stefani dug up combine numbers from last summer that put Ferns squarely on his radar for the top 2014 prospects ($):

Ferns first came to my attention in June 2011 when I was perusing the results of a combine that was held in western Pennsylvania. As I was going through the list of combine attendees and making notes of ones who could have future D-I potential, the figures for one particular freshman stood out - Ferns, who measured in at 6-2 ½, 218 with a 4.72 forty and 4.29 shuttle.

These numbers were not just impressive, but virtually off the charts when it came to a high school freshman.

Yes, please.

Etc.

According to 247's Clint Brewster, 2014 TN OL Alex Bars, younger brother of current Michigan freshman Blake Bars, will visit campus for the Air Force game ($).

Chantel Jennings reports from Cass Tech's intrasquad scrimmage that 2014 prospect Gary Hosey is being looked at as a running back, not a linebacker, by Michigan ($). Deon Drake is generally regarded as having the highest ceiling among Cass Tech's rising junior linebackers, so this may be Hosey's best chance of landing an offer.

Friday Recruitin' Is Itchy On The Trigger

Friday Recruitin' Is Itchy On The Trigger

Submitted by Ace on August 10th, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Michael Ferns commitment, recruiting in Ohio, SEC sketchiness (surprise!), and more.

You Keep Toledo, We'll Just Take These Four-Stars, Thanks

The big news of the day is obviously the commitment of OH LB Michael Ferns, and the full Hello treatment went up this morning. If you were lurking on the board last night, you witnessed historic levels of excitement, at least if duplicate posts are any indicator:


(Screenshot via MGoUser a2_electricboogaloo)

Maybe it's best to sit the next couple plays out, kaykay. As for Professor X, well, no words do this justice.

Anyway, Sam Webb caught up to Ferns in the aftermath of his commitment, and the newest Wolverine explained his thought process in making an early decision:

“I think when I went back (to Ann Arbor) the second time for the barbecue, I felt good about making the decision,” Ferns admitted. “After that you just kind of look out for the academic stuff focusing on fixing my junior schedule up to graduate early my senior year.  After that I was ready to go.”

“Michigan just stuck out to me.  After that second visit up there it kind of really stuck out more.  I felt good the whole time I was there.  I felt great and I knew it was time to make the decision.”

Ferns is all set to enroll early, so he'll be on campus in... 16 months. Criminy.

Michigan's first 2014 commit doesn't just represent a four-star from Ohio, but a four-star from Ohio with an Ohio State offer. It's always great to see The Other Brian surface over at Genuinely Sarcastic, and he emerged last night to detail Brady Hoke's remarkable recruiting run:

Since June 10, 2011, basically 14 months, Brady Hoke has landed eight (8) players from the state of Ohio who held Ohio State offers:

  1. 2012 DE Tom Strobel
  2. 2012 OL Kyle Kalis
  3. 2012 DE Chris Wormley
  4. 2013 S Dymonte Thomas
  5. 2013 LB Mike McCray
  6. 2013 RB Deveon Smith
  7. 2013 LB Ben Gedeon
  8. 2014 LB Michael Ferns

In the previous TEN classes COMBINED, from 2002 to 2011,  Michigan landed seven (7) players from Ohio with OSU offers:

  1. 2003 LB/DE Shawn Crable
  2. 2003 S/LB Prescott Burgess
  3. 2004 DE/TE Mike Massey
  4. 2005 WR Mario Manningham
  5. 2006 OL Justin Boren
  6. 2008 TE Kevin Koger
  7. 2009 DB Justin Turner

Well, then. Buckeye fans can somewhat justifiably point to Tressel's firing to explain the 2012 class, but with Urban Meyer fully in place by the time the 2013 cycle started, that line of reasoning only goes so far. There's no question Hoke is doing a better job on the recruiting trail than RichRod could manage at Michigan, and he's also in the process of blowing Lloyd Carr's classes out of the water, largely because of his unprecedented success in Ohio.

In a nice coincidence, Rivals released an article today breaking down which states do the best job of holding onto their five-star talent. When it comes to Rivals five-stars, Michigan is #2 in the country—behind only the black hole that is Mississippi—at keeping them in-state for college, with only Ronald Johnson (USC) escaping among the seven five-stars since 2002. Will Gholston was the only in-state five-star to head to MSU, so the Wolverines have historically done a stellar job of locking up the best local talent. When the list expands to include all Rivals100 recruits, Michigan (as a state, so including MSU) is fifth in the country at retention rate, behind Alabama, Louisiana, California, and Mississippi.

By comparison, Ohio has produced more than twice as many five-stars—17 compared to Michigan's seven—but have only held on to nine of those players, all of whom ended up in a Buckeye uniform. Of the eight that left the state, two—Prescott Burgess and Kyle Kalis—landed in Ann Arbor. Of course, a state that produces more high-end talent will naturally have more competition for those players, so the results of this study aren't exactly a surprise.

Nope, Nothing To See Here

This all sounds very legitimate indeed:

The Darius Paige case has entered the wait-and-see phase.

Paige, a senior defensive tackle who has verbally committed to play football at the University of Alabama, transferred to Foley High School in Alabama on Tuesday amid allegations that Crimson Tide assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt recommended he go to Foley because they could “take care of him academically.”

Paige was ineligible for spring ball at Washington High School in Penascola, Florida, and unless this is all just a remarkable coincidence it appears Alabama's coaches have encouraged him to transfer to a high school that gives him a better chance of qualifying. Alabama, of course, has no comment. Odds of the NCAA looking into this: slim. Blergh.

All I Need Is One Throw

MGoVideo has helpfully compiled all the Shane Morris bits from ESPNU's coverage of the Elite11 finals, which so far has focused on the first day of camp. Watch to see Trent Dilfer make Morris wait for the single throw that will determine the entire course of the rest of his career, or something:

Seriously, these guys make, like, 30 throws all camp. The relative rankings significance of an Elite11 throw versus a throw in a regular high school game is astronomically high, which is probably kinda dumb.

In other commit news, Gareon Conley and his Massilon squad scrimmaged against fellow Ohio power St. Edward (home of Kyle Kalis), and Scout's Bill Greene came away impressed:

Gareon Conley (Michigan commit) had opportunities to make big plays offensively, and just missed connecting with Kempt on several long throws. Defensively, Conley had great success locking up multiple offer wide receiver Anthony Young. Conley will play cornerback for the Wolverines, and could be ready to play early.

One of the most interesting recruits to watch this fall will be Conley, whose spot at #61 overall in the ESPN150 is far higher than at any of the other recruiting services; if his other rankings start to fall in line with ESPN, it'll be a great sign.

Etc.

Not a whole lot of action on the recruiting trail this week, so this will be short and sweet.

The headline is more positive than the actual quote, but GBW reports that 2013 AZ WR Devon Allen is considering an official visit to Michigan ($). Allen was on campus the day before the BBQ and enjoyed his visit. While his father says they'd like to come up to Ann Arbor again in the fall, he also mentions the difficulty in arranging a flight that fits with Allen's schedule. We'll see where it goes from here.

2014 OH OL Jimmy Byrne told Tremendous's Mark that he has a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, in no particular order. Byrne is #3, one spot behind Ferns, on OhioPreps's top 25 prospects in the state of Ohio.

Two 2014 recruits have expressed interest in visiting for a game this fall: four-star OH ATH Dareian Watkins, a high school QB who could play either WR or DB in college($), and IN WR Dominique Booth, who camped at Michigan in June ($). Both players are hoping to earn an offer.

I'm not exactly sure why this is news as opposed to a foregone conclusion from birth.

Hello From The Future: Michael Ferns

Hello From The Future: Michael Ferns

Submitted by Ace on August 10th, 2012 at 9:45 AM

As first reported by TomVH, St. Clairsville (OH) linebacker Michael Ferns committed to Michigan on Wednesday, becoming their first commit in the class of 2014. Ferns had recently named a top three that also included Notre Dame and Penn State, and a very positive unofficial visit for the BBQ at the Big House likely pushed him to make a pledge.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
NR MLB NR ILB NR ILB 4*, 93, #5 ILB,
#94 Ovr

Only 247Sports has released rankings for the class of 2014, so our lone national data point for Ferns has him pegged inside the top 100 prospects overall and top five at his position. All save ESPN list him at 6'3", 235 pounds—ESPN has him 20 pounds lighter, likely an outdated figure—which has him easily on track to be a college-sized strongside linebacker by the time he hits campus.

While the national services aside from 247 have not released rankings, OhioPreps already has a top 25 list for the class of 2014. Ferns is second, behind only fellow linebacker Dante Booker, and Marc Givler suggests that those two have separated themselves from the rest of the class.

Other information on Ferns is scarce, as he hasn't hit the camp circuit and St. Clairsville is a small school that hasn't produced much in the way of D-I talent*. We do get one player comparison courtesy of Scout's Dave Berk ($):

Standing 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, Ferns reminds some of current Irish inside linebacker Jarrett Grace, at least in terms of his physical stature. However, Ferns shows a unique skill set for a player of his size.

While St. Clairsville High School is far from one of Ohio’s top big-school programs, Ferns athletic ability could easily transfer to a bigger program as he shows on film the ability to play several positions on both sides of the ball.

Grace was a 2011 recruit on the 3/4-star borderline; at 6'3", 240 lbs., he's very comparable in terms of size. Grace's ESPN scouting report($) praised his athleticism and play recognition, and as you'll see in his film those are also two areas of Ferns's game that stand out.

Besides the above, most of the articles on Ferns focus on his intelligence both on and off the field. He's made it clear from the beginning of his recruitment that academics are the top priority—which he backed up with a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State, as well as an offer from Stanford—and he plans to study pre-med. 247's Steve Wiltfong details this side of Ferns in an article rather unfortunately titled "Ferns Is Freaky On & Off Field"($):

Growing up, Ferns always saw his parents on the computer messing around with this new sensation known as the internet. The two-year old didn’t want to be left out.

“He wanted to play on the computer so bad, and he’d keep asking us what words were,” the elder Ferns said. “It just got to the point where he taught himself how to read so he didn’t keep asking us. He was in diapers. We bought him reading programs for kids ages 4-5, and it wasn’t three weeks later we were buying the programs for ages 6-8. Over the course of a month, he was on the internet. At that time it was dial up, but he wanted to do it so bad.”

...

“I was always a little ahead of the time,” Ferns added. “I remember being in diapers on the computer. I’d say I was a little advanced back in day.”

Ferns has grown a bit since then, and now his intellect is paying dividends on the football field [emphasis mine]:

“He’s 6-3, 230-pounds and runs like a deer,” McClean said.

“Besides just his size advantage, he can do a lot of different things. We lined him up at three different positions on offense. On defense he’s an intellectual person, he can handle things a lot of people couldn’t do. He’s like a coach on the field from his linebacker spot.”

That astute play, when combined with impressive athleticism, could make Ferns a candidate for early playing time. According to Scout's Allen Trieu, who posted a scouting report on Ferns after his commitment, the only thing stopping Ferns could be Michigan's depth chart ($):

Upshot: He's going to come in college ready in terms of size and speed. If he adjusts to the speed of the game and learns the defense, he has the tools to play early. Not sure if the depth chart will allow that because there are so many linebackers, but he has what you look for in an early impact guy.

Trieu compares Ferns to freshman Joe Bolden, a 2012 Under Armour All-American who's already pushing for playing time at WLB, and says he's a "pretty safe bet" for four stars.

Magnus broke down Ferns's sophomore film and came away impressed:

I really like what I see on Ferns's film.  He plays both ways for his high school team, although keep in mind as you watch that St. Clairsville is a small school with fewer than 700 students enrolled; the competition is not excellent.  Ferns plays some fullback, tight end, wide receiver, and linebacker.  He shows very good instincts as a linebacker.  Ferns the younger plays downhill nicely, showing quick initial reads and stepping up into holes that open.  He keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and is a very solid tackler.  He also does a nice job of side-stepping blockers and using his hands to shed when necessary.  His change-of-direction skills are also apparent as an offensive player, where he swivels his hips pretty well to slither past defenders.

So, while scouting on Ferns is still limited, what we see suggests he's got the size, athleticism, and instincts to excel at the collegiate level.

--------------------
*The only other St. Clairsville player in the Rivals database (dating back to 2002) is 2013 3-star WR Dan Monteroso, a Boston College commit.

OFFERS

Ferns built up an impressive offer list for a junior-to-be, choosing Michigan over Notre Dame, Penn State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Stanford, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and a handful of MAC offers.

STATS

Ferns tallied 136 tackles as a sophomore while also chipping in 441 yards on 31(!) rushes and 301 yards on 15(!) catches. He had 88 tackles as a freshman in 2010.

FAKE 40 TIME

No 40 time is listed for Ferns on any of the four recruiting sites.

VIDEO

Sophomore highlights:

As you can see, there's little not to like in the film, though the lack of high-end competition is apparent.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

While Michigan has recruited extremely well at linebacker over the last couple classes, Ferns could have a relatively clear path to the two-deep if he lands at strongside linebacker. That spot is currently manned by Jake Ryan and Cam Gordon, and Ryan will be a senior (I know, right?) when Ferns steps on campus. Unless Royce Jenkins-Stone bulks up significantly, at that point Mike McCray will be the only player standing between Ferns and a spot in the rotation.

It's also possible that Ferns ends up at middle linebacker, a position where he can better show off his instincts. While Joe Bolden and potentially Jenkins-Stone stand in the way there, Ferns could get a three-year separation from those two if he takes a redshirt year (assuming Bolden and RJS play this year, a much safer assumption for the former).

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

At this early juncture, it looks like Michigan is in line for a relatively small class in 2014, but with a year-and-a-half before signing day a great deal can change. One thing we're pretty sure of is that the Wolverines can afford, once again, to be picky at linebacker; unless there's unexpected attrition, Ferns will likely be joined by one other linebacker recruit, likely a guy who projects to the middle.