Tuesday Recruitin' Is Like, 'Dang, I Thought I Had That'

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Like, 'Dang, I Thought I Had That' Comment Count

Adam Schnepp January 8th, 2019 at 2:44 PM

While the Michigan commits in Orlando impressed scouts and analysts in the practices that led up to last week’s Under Armour All-America Game, a group of three signees with arguably the best odds of playing early this side of Mazi Smith were doing the same in San Antonio. The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown published an interesting set of articles in which he got other players to scout GA DT Chris Hinton and OK S Dax Hill. On Hill, GA QB and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski articulated what Michigan fans hope is the general sentiment of Big Ten QBs for the next three years.

“I'm telling you, when I go up to the line of scrimmage I'm always looking away from him," Hilinski said. "He's just a guy that covers so much space with his speed and he's so fluid with all of his motions. He's long too. That's the hardest thing to judge. I'll try to throw and out route and he'll get a finger on it. I'll be like, 'Dang, I thought I had that.' He doesn't even look like he's trying that hard yet either and he's still balling out. When he really takes it up a level, what is he going to do? He's a beast.

Brown talked to two Ohio State signees about Hinton, and if the roster’s composition wasn’t already enough to get him a shot at early playing time, his advanced technique should do it. GA OG Harry Miller is quoted first in the article and brought up one natural skill and one technical element of Hinton’s that stood out in practice.

"He's a really hand technician. He's just really good at using his hands and being quick," Miller said. "As an offensive player I have to be very aware of my fundamentals and be very sound with that. He's not a guy that you can just go out and attack and expect to beat him. You have to be really smart with how you approach him."

WV OG Doug Nester corroborated Miller’s scouting report.

"He comes off the ball really hard and he's very good with his hand placement," Nester said. "He knows where to hit you correctly. He'll hit you right in the chest and he extends away from himself so that you can't get into his chest. He's good at that."

[After THE JUMP: more players and analysts weigh in, plus updates from the UA Future 50 camp]

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Monday Recruitin' Raises Its Stock

Monday Recruitin' Raises Its Stock Comment Count

Adam Schnepp January 7th, 2019 at 10:00 AM

The relative quiet of the recruiting calendar’s dead period gave way to two all-star games last week, and with that a ton of new material on the players about to age out of appearing in these recruiting roundups. Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game featured five Michigan signees: FL LB Anthony Solomon, OH OL Nolan Rumler, GA OT Trente Jones on Team Flash, and DC LB Quinten Johnson and MI DT Mazi Smith on Team Ballaholics. CA RB Zach Charbonnet elected to sit out the week of practice and game with an injury, which should please the superstitious lot; Greg Biggins wrote after the first day of practice that 247 came into the week with Charbonnet on five-star watch.

Though Smith and Jones won’t earn fifth stars either, they did plenty in practice last week to raise their stock in the eyes of analysts. 247’s John Garcia called Smith “the best interior guy” while ESPN.com’s Craig Haubert named Smith to his list of the week’s best. 247’s Allen Trieu, who has probably seen Smith more than anyone in the country, added some detail to Garcia’s line. He noted that Smith hasn’t done any camps, but it seems he adapted to 1-on-1 drills against competition on par with his talent level rather quickly. Trieu mentioned Smith being told something about how to use his hands by the coaching staff, then using that to win reps later in the day. For a player who has been able to pin his ears back and run through his opponent at will until this past week, it was an encouraging sign of adaptability. (And a positive sign for next year, when he’ll be needed to be ready to rotate in at DT.)

[Other guys adapt after THE JUMP]

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Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Defense

Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Defense Comment Count

Seth December 26th, 2018 at 9:41 AM

We did the offense already. Before we get into the defensive side of contextualizing the 2019 recruits against every Michigan guy since Bo, I want to give a shout-out to some other Tableizers. Jacedeuce gave me several suggestions I incorporated into the money graph, and Bo McReady (son of Bennie, godson of Oosterbaan) created this magnificent visual that you can spend the rest of vacation clicking over. For example if you select all the New England states you can see this view…

image

…that shows just seven players from the region from 1990-2013, and nine players in four classes since Don Brown arrived. Mouse over the 2016 and 2017 towers and you'll find Sean McKeon, Tarik Black, Andrew Stueber, Kwity Paye, and Ben Mason from the first two classes, all of whom are working out better than their rankings suggested they would. On the other hand recruiting rankings do strongly correlate with the likelihood of playing in the NFL. I've recreated his NFL chart so you can mouse over the individuals:

Our fun had, let's dive into the defense:

[Player-by-player discussion, after The Jump]

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Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Offense

Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Offense Comment Count

Seth December 20th, 2018 at 4:50 PM

More fun with rosters! With signing day behind us I've updated my spreadsheets and the associated interactive chart. Behold: the 2019 class contextualized against every Michigan recruit since 1990:

You can mouseover the big yellow bubbles to get a sense where each guy fits against previous Michigan players in the recruiting rankings. But let's still dig out each player to understand the context of his scouting. The full data are here.

QB Cade McNamara

image

The style of quarterback who uses his legs and is constantly being asked about his height is now considered a "Pro Style" quarterback, especially if he commits to Harbaugh, though it's not hard to find the guy Cade McNamara most reminds us of. Cade is a clear rung down from Tate's Top-150ish ratings, and for good reason. However Michigan's lone QB recruit in this class is still strongly above the 4-star line. Despite the other comps being substantially different players, the boom/bust nature of his ranking is evident in the range of success you see around him.

[After THE JUMP: The position you were dreading]

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MGoRadio 4.12: Beard Talk

MGoRadio 4.12: Beard Talk Comment Count

Seth December 19th, 2018 at 7:38 PM

Special Guests: Steve Lorenz from 247Sports and our own recruiting coordinator Adam Schnepp are with us.

The Sponsors

We can do this because people support us. You should support them! The show is presented by UGP & The Bo Store, and if it wasn’t for Rishi and Ryan we’d be all be very sad ex-SBNation employees with “real” jobs.

Our other sponsors are also key to all of this: HomeSure Lending, Peak Wealth Management, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Michigan Law Grad, Human Element, and Lantana Hummus

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

1. Crootin: Offense w/osg Steve Lorenz

starts at 1:00

Cade McNamara is in the Shea and Tate Forcier mold with a weird arm slot. Some of Charbonnet’s film reminds Brian of De’Veon Smith. Michigan had him ranked as the #1 RB in the country. Giles Jackson will be lightning in the slot and Mike Sainristil will play on offense. Adam saw Quintel Kent play. Cornelius Johnson was a big get for Michigan. Michigan’s offensive line class is six deep and Adam has seen four of them. Keegan and Trente Jones are bona fide tackles. Nolan Rumler is what Kyle Kalis was supposed to be: a rough and tough mauling guard. Karsen Barnhart is a swing guy who played against bad competition.

2. More Crootin: Defense w(!)sg Steve Lorenz

starts at 44:25

We finally get Steve on the pod and he shares a few offensive takes before we dive into defensive discussion. David Ojabo is ranked on his potential and his potential is through the roof. Gabe Newburg is a project rotation guy type that Adam got to scout. Mike Morris is a low rated guy with potential. Chris Hinton had a potentially worrying drop in the rankings, though he was switching from DE to DT. Anthony Solomon was seemingly headed to Michigan, then signed with Miami, then flipped back to Michigan. Looks like a viper. Joey Velasquez is another viper in this class. Amari Pesek-Hickson is the second straight random guy that Michigan has signed out of Kansas City. DJ Turner II is a waiver type. Jalen Perry was a big get, probably a processed guy. Dax Hill was supposedly the best safety Nick Saban recruited at Alabama and he’s coming to Michigan. Signing him was big for the health of the fanbase.

3. Lightning Round

starts at 1:49:46

We need a third segment so we do a lightning round naming our picks from the 2019 class that fit various superlatives.

4. Hoops vs WMU

starts at 2:05:02

We also need a fourth segment so we say a few words about the Western Michigan basketball game. Defense has reverted to the mean a bit, but this will stay a very good defense. There’s been a noticeable drop in concentration in these December games. Michigan still on track for a #1 seed.

MUSIC:

Going with our favorite crootin hits.

  • “Starman”—David Bowie
  • “Hi, Hey There, Hello”—The Mowgli's
  • “No Time for Dreaming”—Charles Bradley
  • “Across 110th Street”

THE USUAL LINKS:

"I don’t swear, I just make up crazy shark stories as my voice steadily gets higher”

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Wednesday Recruitin' Readies Commitment Graphics, Watches Inbox

Wednesday Recruitin' Readies Commitment Graphics, Watches Inbox Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 19th, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Welcome to the second annual early signing day, which is basically early Christmas for recruitniks and the day most likely to be celebrated by both those overflowing with optimism about the promise of the future and those who view the commitment of anything less than a five-star as a treatise on the state of the program. If you’re the kind of person who follows recruiting tangentially you can expect some suspense today, but it’s clustered around very few players. In case you’re looking for a primer, Michigan’s 2019 class is currently #9 nationally and #1 in the Big Ten with an average player rating of 0.90 per the 247 composite. Michigan expects 24 of its 25 verbal commits to sign and email in their letters of intent today according to 247’s Steve Lorenz, with the lone February signee slated to be KS ATH Amauri Pesek-Hickson. That leaves two suspense-generating commitments to wait on, and one that seemed to be going Michigan’s way until early yesterday morning.

On that note, things don’t look great for Michigan with regard to the nation's #4 overall player, OH DE Zach Harrison. The deluge of crystal ball flips started yesterday morning around 7:30 with Sam Webb and continued throughout the day. Webb said on the radio last week that he wasn’t going to flip until he had solid intel and to keep an eye on his crystal ball; five crystal balls flipped in an hour, and with those Michigan’s chances clearly flat-lined. It’s been well publicized that the outcome of The Game had an adverse impact on his recruitment, and it seems that Michigan’s multiple visits to try and assuage any fears weren’t enough to yank him out of Ohio State’s orbit. And it’s that part, that proximity and pull toward Ohio State, that appears to be too much for Michigan to overcome. 247’s Steve Lorenz posted his final thoughts heading into today and said that the rumblings about Michigan falling to third and this turning into a decision between Ohio State and Penn State illustrates how serious the people around Harrison were about him not going to Michigan. Lorenz went on to say that the biggest factors in Harrison not committing to Michigan are the people close to him who have his ear and Urban Meyer resigning. Harrison was reportedly not Meyer’s biggest fan, and Ryan Day getting the head job bolstered the Buckeyes’ chances. Lorenz said Michigan fans have a right to feel a little snakebitten at that particular development, which, yeah.

Moving to a recruitment that should jumpstart a second volume of Road to Ann Arbor for Tom VH should he flip (again), Michigan seems to be back in the battle for five-star OK S Daxton Hill. Multiple reports cite Alabama planting a seed of doubt in Hill’s mind that the current coaching staff would remain in Ann Arbor for long, with the poorly-timed Don Brown interview at Temple and the ever present Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors giving their staff the leverage they were looking for to flip Hill unexpectedly. It’s no surprise in light of this that Harbaugh went to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the next day to let people know that he was not leaving Michigan, calling the rumors a “choreographed message” that emerges every year before signing day. With Don Brown also staying, Michigan’s staff worked hard to erase any personnel doubts Hill had, and there was a surge of optimism that Hill would flip back to Michigan. That still appears to be a possibility, but a complication has emerged and somehow Ohio State’s involved in this one, too.

According to WolverinesWire’s Isaiah Hole, the commitment to watch today in relation to Hill's recruitment is that of FL S Jordan Battle. Though technically a Buckeye commit until this morning, it’s been expected for some time that he would flip his commitment to Alabama. Hole on the situation:

The word is, Hill is not looking to be a part of a class that has three safeties. So, in short, watch what happens with Battle and Alabama on Wednesday. Should he sign a letter of intent before Hill to end up in Tuscaloosa, there’s a strong indication that Hill could be back in the fold in Ann Arbor.

Hole goes on to write that the staff feels optimistic about flipping Hill back regardless of what happens with Battle, but it certainly seems that Battle signing before Hill would significantly bolster Michigan’s odds. The Wolverine’s Chris Balas reports that Alabama’s staff didn’t expect Hill to sign today as recently as this weekend, though they’re pushing hard to get him to do so. Balas says those close to Hill’s recruitment expect it to continue into January, so for today, keep an eye on Jordan Battle.

[The good news is after THE JUMP]

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Jimmystats: Visualizing Roster Data

Jimmystats: Visualizing Roster Data Comment Count

Seth December 14th, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Here comes my latest attempt to make my spreadsheets into cool interactive charts. If you haven't checked it before, I keep these Google Sheets of Michigan's recruiting and roster data going back to 1990, and those are back to being updated. I've also experimented before with Tableau and other interactive chart software.

The 2019 Class in Context:

/tap tap does it work?

If you see the "Viz" horray. The big yellow bubbles are the current 2019 commits, the blue are former players with available recruiting data in my database, and the maize bubbles are Michigan's current players. You can click on those groups below the chart to see them with more clarity (some players, e.g. Donovan Peoples-Jones, might be covered up otherwise). I've also included some filters so you can pop out certain eras, specific classes, or who had NFL careers.

Also you should be able to mouseover the chart to pull up each player, some career data, and the components that went into his ranking.

Things made apparent:

  • Thanks to those 2016 and 2017 classes some of Michigan's highest-rated recruits at several positions are still on the team.
  • Notably the current players are bit lower than the post-Bo standard distribution at DT, RB, and both safety spots. DT and RB are addressed in the 2019 class but not safety, unless Daxton Hill makes his way back into the class.
  • The NFL draft picks, especially first-day picks, are bunched towards the top of the recruiting rankings. B.J. Askew was the only low 3-star to get drafted as high as the third round, and Frank Clark is the only recent first-day pick who was less than a 4-star. If they NFL wasn't dumb Maurice Hurst would be in there.

Recruiting stars matter, even if the distribution is wide. That said, how does the 2019 class stack up so far?

[Hit THE JUMP if you want more mouseovers]

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Wednesday Recruitin' Didn't Hear No Bell

Wednesday Recruitin' Didn't Hear No Bell Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 12th, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Yesterday I was driving home and a deer leapt a gosh dang guard rail and bounded across the road and I hadn’t been that surprised since, well, you know. So Saturday night got ugly in a hurry. Not only did Michigan hockey lose to Minnesota at home in a game they desperately needed to get points out of, but they lost on an even-strength goal with under two minutes to play. That same night, OK S Daxton Hill dropped the Thanos Snap of recruit tweets, flipping his seemingly rock-solid commitment from Michigan to Alabama. Judging by the texts I got and twitter and message boards and every other available piece of evidence, this went over poorly.

If you were surprised, you weren’t alone. According to 247’s Steve Lorenz, not only was Michigan’s staff caught off guard, Alabama’s staff was surprised to learn of the flip. Michigan visited Hill at home last Wednesday. Alabama visited Hill’s home the next day, but no crystal balls were flipped. Lorenz says that the Alabama staff felt better about flipping FL S and current Ohio State commit Jordan Battle and thought that, if anything, they might get an unofficial visit from Hill. The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb reiterated that Michigan’s staff found out when the public did and, though they wanted him to sign during the early signing period and he had apparently let them know he wanted to wait until February, there were no red flags presaging a decomitment.

The main point of Webb’s post centers around a quote from Hill’s father Webb obtained when he visited the family this fall. The family said they liked that Michigan was about winning all areas of life and not just winning at any cost, and Webb points out that Alabama was Alabama when Hill committed to Michigan, which was coming off a loss to Notre Dame that had people down for weeks. Webb went on to say that he feels Hill isn’t done grappling with whatever might have shifted his hierarchy of decision factors; when a poster on their message board asked if this wasn’t over, Webb responded with a clip from Rocky V of Mickey as a Force ghost or something that ends with Rocky yelling ‘Yo, Tommy! I didn’t hear no bell.” Now Lorenz checks in with a notes post in which he says he was also able to confirm that there's some optimism on Michigan's end that this recruitment may not be over. With Hill's decision horizon apparently extended two months, that makes some sense.

[After THE JUMP: Ann Arbor in December is a hot vacation destination]

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Exit Daxton Hill

Exit Daxton Hill Comment Count

Seth December 8th, 2018 at 9:34 PM

Michigan's 2019 class just took a heartbreaking blow, as five-star/top commit Daxton Hill flipped tonight to Alabama.

Hill is the consensus top safety in the country and likely would have helped Michigan immediately in its quest to suffocate all possible offensive options with more talented players. It especially hurts because of how well Hill would have filled the one hole in Don Brown's system. It triply sucks because #3 overall safety Lewis Cine, a former teammate of Michigan commit Mike Sainristil, appeared to lose interest in Michigan shortly after Hill committed. It quadruply sucks because it's further evidence that our entire reality is some awful child's NCAA 2014 Alabama dynasty.

Hill is the fifth decommit of this class but the first that was truly surprising, and the most impossible to replace. Michigan still has four-star safety Quinten Johnson in the class, as well as viper prospects Joey Velazquez and Amauri Pesek-Hickson, and a slew of lanky prospects from last year. In the past Don Brown has found NFL safeties (John Johnson, Justin Simmons, Obi Melifanwu) in under-scouted athletes but there's no Melifanwus on the board at the moment, unless you count Pesek-Hickson.

With the loss of its only current five-star Michigan's class has dropped out of the top ten in the 247 composite. Michigan is expected to reel in one of its top receiver prospects and one or two giant offensive linemen, and remains the crystal ball leader for five-star DE Zach Harrison.

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Future Blue Derivatives: Trente Jones

Future Blue Derivatives: Trente Jones Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 6th, 2018 at 4:00 PM

ESPN may have pulled back on publishing scouting reports of recruits, but with a little bit of ingenuity, some luck, and a whole lot of editing we’re still able to use the Worldwide Leader’s coverage to our advantage. Not in the form of scouting reports from their analysts, of course—sorry, you’re stuck with me—but in their programming. The funny thing about having to fill nearly 9,000 hours of air time each year across each network is that they occasionally shelve the talking heads for a bit and broadcast actual games that are relevant to our interests.

Some of those games, such as the one scouted here, feel like what ESPN 2 should be broadcasting as often as humanly possible. Here they took advantage of a mid-October marquee matchup of schools that are top-tier nationally (Grayson was 153rd per Maxpreps, Archer 69th), both with rosters littered with DI prospects. Grayson has highly-regarded, heavily-recruited bookends on their offensive line. At left tackle is Wanya Morris, a five-star and the 13th-ranked player in the country. At right tackle is the focus of this post, Trente Jones. The most recent re-rank on 247 saw Jones shoot up more than 280 spots with no signs of stopping. He has moved up 55 spots in the composite in the last week alone, now checking in at #167. After watching him against Archer, I’m more surprised that he spent so much time ranked around #300 and less about the jump to the edge of the top 150.

[After THE JUMP: "Hm, a person who weights 100 pounds more than me moves in ways I could only hope to," says the guy with a bag of Jelly Belly next to him]

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