Preview 2015: Offensive Line

Preview 2015: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 31st, 2015 at 10:51 AM

Previously: Podcast 7.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends.

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back back back back not back (but there's another guy also back) [Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart

LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Mason Cole So. Ben Braden Jr.* Graham Glasgow Sr.* Kyle Kalis Jr.* Erik Magnuson Jr.*
Logan Tuley-Tillman So.* David Dawson So.* Patrick Kugler So.* Blake Bars Jr.* Juwann Bushell-Beatty Fr.*

It got better. It really did. The OL nadir is in the past. We can come out of the bunker and rebuild society now. 

By any reasonable metric it in fact got a lot better. Michigan's YPC leapt 1.3 yards, going from 11th in a 12-team league to 8th in a 14-team one. If you only look at Big Ten stats Michigan is still 8th, and that's in the division that had the MSU, OSU, and PSU defenses. Sacks allowed had a near-identical improvement, going from barely better than Purdue to a spot in the respectable midsection of the conference. Advanced stats saw something similar. Michigan finished 50th in adjusted line yards*, 32nd in power success rate, and 72nd in adjusted sack rate. And that's with the running backs going the wrong direction constantly.

None of these numbers stand out, but neither do they linger in the seedy parts of the list next to Temple and Penn State and Louisiana-Monroe. They were average-ish. Most of the time they felt average-ish.

That's not a bad place to be with zero seniors and just two upperclassmen. While the unexpected departure of Jack Miller puts a small dent in the front's depth, his likely replacement, Erik Magnuson, is a redshirt junior who came in as a touted recruit and has a season's worth of starts to his name already. If you're willing to fudge a bit, Michigan has five starters back from that okay line. They've replaced Brady Hoke with Jim Harbaugh and Darrell Funk with Tim Drevno.

Could they be… good?

*[A stat that weighs the first few yards you get heavily and discounts long runs in an attempt to get a feel for how the line is doing.]

TACKLE

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Cole coped [Eric Upchurch]

Rating: 3 of 5

Last year I gave this a 1 because Michigan was staring down a starting lineup consisting of a true freshman and a third-year guy who didn't even get a sniff during the chaos of 2013. They seemed to acquire these positions almost by default since the only other tackles on the roster were freshmen (redshirt or true) regarded as huge projects. Or they were starting at guard.

The 2014 edition of this post took a quick gander at what happened when football teams started freshman tackles. It was almost universally ugly. The best case scenario was Ole Miss, which deployed ultra-blue-chip Laremy Tunsil as a true freshman and was middling in both YPC and sacks allowed. All others trundled their way to seasons that were more or less disastrous.

Michigan was not disastrous last year. In what is certainly a first for offensive line projections in recent history, that prediction was pessimistic. MASON COLE, the true freshman, just about hit the top end of reasonable projections, those being:

The occasional freshman tackle can cope. I think Cole is one of those guys. But is he going to blow a guy off the ball and provide a big ol' lane at 292 pounds? Probably not. Our hope here is that Cole is a solid, agile pass protector in year one who is a meh run blocker.

Mason Cole coped. This is what that looks like in the run game according to UFR:

Opponent + - TOT Notes
App St 9.5 2 7.5 A fine debut
Notre Dame 4 2 2 Didn't seem overwhelmed at all.
Miami 8 5 3 Okay; also had one very bad pass pro.
Utah 3 2.5 0.5 Nice seal block ignored.
Rutgers 5 5 0 I'll take it.
Penn State 1.5 5 -3.5 Hull and Zettel bad matchup.
Minnesota 4.5 2.5 2 Overpowered a little but still okay day.
MSU 1.5 2 -0.5  
Indiana 3 0.5 2.5 Didn't mess anything up.

It was rougher in pass protection, where I have had him for 16 protection minuses in 8 games. Those are worth about half a QB pressure/sack each. Otherwise things were pretty okay against non-elite defenses. Cole's debut season was… eh.

When it didn't go well, the usual reason was that Cole got blown backwards because he was a true freshman. These were the kind of things that were happening against Zettel and company:

This was a game in which Cole's inexperience and lack of big skrongness really hurt. Here Butt gets an excellent shoulder spear on Zettel, knocking him off balance. This should provide ample opportunity for Cole to step around and wall Zettel off, creating a crease Smith will hit trying to beat a safety for a big gainer. Instead Zettel comprehensively wins:

Cole got whipped on the Norfleet catch that put Michigan in position for the winning field goal; Michigan was fortunate that ball went to the WR instead of getting knocked anywhere.

Ennui prevented me from charting him against Joey Bosa, but I've gone back and rewatched the OSU game. Cole was okay. By the second half of The Game Ohio State decided that they should either blitz outside of Bosa and send him against the interior line (which only kind of worked) or have him go at Ben Braden (which very much worked). Don't get me wrong, Cole did get beat. It was a struggle; it was not one in which he was completely overwhelmed.

All of that is terrific for a true freshman. Cole grabbed the job, held the job all season, and played reasonably well. There has been not a whisper that he would go anywhere except for a blip during spring practice when he was playing center, that because Glasgow was suspended and Michigan was figuring out if he could play there a la Barrett Jones. All practice reports have held that he is a sure thing, greatly improved, etc. 247 heard this from multiple people in a 24-hour window:

Mason Cole has unsurprisingly established himself as a rock at the left tackle spot, and is primed to be the next great four-year starter to play the position.

Cole's added 13 pounds and should make a major leap in year two, what with the rare true-freshman-to-true-sophomore OL transition coupled with the general HARBAUGH.

That will probably still leave him short of dominant. Michigan's most recent really good left tackle, Taylor Lewan, took off in his third year. In year two Cole should slash the protection issues considerably and do okay against the better defensive ends in the league. A year like early Graham Glasgow—reliable, somewhat short on raw power—would set Cole up to be excellent as an upperclassman.

[After THE JUMP: four-ish additional returning starters who happen to be upperclassmen already]

Annual Big Ten Network Practice Visit Tweet Dump

Annual Big Ten Network Practice Visit Tweet Dump

Submitted by Brian on August 19th, 2015 at 2:45 PM

latest[1]

this does not seem functional for several reasons I will now elucidate

For a while there it looked like Harbaugh had taken the Big Ten Network guys' phones and given them the Tom Brady treatment, but Dave Revsine must have a backup, because he's providing a rare glimpse inside Blue October.

In past years this has been something more than a post-length manual retweet of one guy; Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith also gave their thoughts. So far this is the only thing we've gotten from them:

Hopefully they'll poke their heads out at some point. Tom Dienhart skipped twitter for a couple of articles on the BTN website. One is for real. One is described as "fun notes":

[Graham] Glasgow also told me he is living with his grandmother for the semester. A good way to focus.

That is one way to make sure you don't trip up on your probation.

Following blockquotes are from Revsine's twitter feed unless otherwise noted. BTN will broadcast their react from Michigan practice at 6 PM.

GENERAL

Tom Dienhart had some general thoughts on twitter:

A very business-like practice at Michigan today. No music blared. A classroom environment with lots of teaching. Nobody walked or lingered.

Dressed in his uniform of a blue “M” cap, long-sleeve shirt and—what else?—khakis, Harbaugh spent most of time with QBs. Always instructing.

Staffers describe the Michigan camp as a “submarine.” It is all business with no distractions.

Glad to hear they got rid of the lingering. Hate lingering. Almost as bad as loitering. By the way, if you want to find lingerers and loiterers just check the replies to any Dienhart tweet.

Some non-position-specific stuff from Revsine:

Harbaugh is incredibly involved in the passing game at practice - gives a lot of feedback - very hands-on with that group

It's obvious they're really, really well coached. Practice was all business, drills were efficient, feedback was great

Update: Dinardo has a few general thoughts as well.

Much like in the past few years team has more talent than most B1G teams they play except for the 2 best.

As always starts w O/D lines no lack of talent in either area They've recruited well in both areas & r good enough

I would not be surprised if both QB played in opener against Utah. Game play sometimes is best way to decide

Defense very solid good depth & has good young players that will have time 2 develop. Off needs more dynamic skill

QUARTERBACK

QB - Morris consistently took 1st snap in drills - but no idea if that means anything - it does at some places, it doesn't at others

QB - if I had to guess, I'd say both Morris and Rudock would play against Utah - not sure there's clear separation

It's tough to say - both had their moments. Morris has a great arm. Rudock doesn't make many mistakes. Tough call

Asked about Morris:

His arm - he can really spin it. Issue will obviously be TO's - have to be dramatically better there as a team

Dienhart was more decisive about the QB battle:

1. Jake Rudock figures to win the quarterback spot. The Iowa senior transfer is the one signal-caller who gives Michigan the best chance to win out of the gate. … Rudock threw the ball well today and worked with the top units along with junior lefty Shane Morris. Rudock is a savvy vet with lots of starting experience.

FWIW. I'm betting that the quarterback battle will legitimately go until the day before the Utah game and that Rudock wins it decisively.

Zach Gentry looked "tall"; a fan asking about him was advised that this was a two-man race.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Other obvious trouble spot LY was OL. I think that group will be vastly improved.They have always had talent there - evident again 2day

No real surprises on OL - looked like Cole, Braden, Glasgow, Kalis, Magnuson. Drevno singled Blake Bars out as having had good camp

Even if we're nervous about Braden at guard, I'd be more nervous about guys flipping everywhere like we've seen the last few years.

They are really well coached on the OL - constant constructive feedback. Would be shocked if they're not better

Easy call to make with 5-ish returning starters and Tim Drevno running the show.

Dienhart noted the second team line:

The second unit had junior Logan Tuley-Tillman at left tackle; junior David Dawson at left guard; junior Patrick Kugler at center; sophomore Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right guard; senior Blake Bars at right tackle.

That's as expected until you get to JBB at guard and Bars at tackle.

RUNNING BACK

On the starter:

Hard to tell - I did notice Smith a few times. Guess would be by committee at 1st & see if someone emerges

RB - lots of good well-known options here - again, I think difference in OL will help immensely.

On Isaac:

Big - man he has great size for a RB. Because of the structure of practice, I didn't come away w great feel for RBs

Dienhart gave Smith the slight edge; Ross Taylor-Douglass is apparently a tailback this week.

WIDE RECEIVER & TIGHT END

Revsine literally shouted out everyone on the roster who was practicing at TE.

TE could be a real area of strength - obviously we know about Jake Butt, but Poggi, Winovich, Williams (nice TD grab) all look solid

Did I mention Hill and Bunting? They're good too. Lot of interesting options there.

Wheatley is probably on the shelf for a bit, so that's everybody. Apparently Hill is back at it?

I still think big-play explosiveness will be an issue for this team - no one totally jumps out on that front

Yeah. That contradicts this…

WR looks to be about what it was a year ago - issue will be whether a deep threat can emerge. Better OL play could obviously help there

…because last year they had one Devin Funchess, for all the good that did them. Remember when they just punted it to Funchess like six times a game because their offense was real bad and that was a good idea? I don't either.

The Grant Perry hype train continues unabated:

I'd be surprised if Grant Perry doesn't contribute some at WR. Tough to tell on Brian Cole - kind of up and down

Dienhart:

Some nice options at wideout, with senior Jehu Chesson and senior Amara Darboh. Freshman Brian Cole was running with the second unit. I like the kid. Sophomore Maurice Ways also saw lots of action. Grant Perry was another freshman who was active.

Drake Harris was a "young guy who could help"; Peppers did not get snaps on offense, but as Revsine points out that's a thing they would likely keep under wraps when BTN visits.

DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS

Relatively little here. On the DL:

Good group - rotated a lot of guys through. I think they'll once again have a very solid defense

On the secondary:

A lot of known commodities, obviously, on defense. Looks like Lyons will definitely help in secondary.

Dienhart:

DE Taco Charlton was leading post-practice sprint drills among linemen. He is an impressive specimen.

Dienhart also provided looks at the two deep at linebacker…

The linebackers look good. One unit had senior James Ross; senior Desmond Morgan; senior Joe Bolden. Another had junior Ben Gedeon; sophomore Jared Wangler; senior Allen Gant.

…and DL:

One front lined up thusly today: Wormley at end; senior Ryan Glasgow at tackle; senior Willie Henry at tackle; Ojemudia at end. The other unit combo was Charlton at end; senior Tom Strobel; junior Maurice Hurst; senior Royce Jenkins-Stone, listed as a LB on the roster.

So Charlton is an SDE, which makes sense since all the other candidates to back up Wormley got moved to TE. Strobel lining up at nose(?!) would be a very, very strange thing. Would expect Godin to be the #4 DT without Mone. No mention of Marshall is odd.

Meanwhile, the secondary:

Stanford grad transfer Wayne Lyons could be a proverbial “cut-above.” The top unit today was Lewis and Clark on the edges with Peppers and Wilson at safety. The other unit had junior Channing Stribling and freshman Tyree Kinnel on the corners with junior Dymonte Thomas and Lyons at safety.

No Delano Hill or Watson mentioned; Clark pushing for the boundary spot will give me the heebie-jeebies until it doesn't.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Potential punt returners and some Peppers hype:

PR looks like it'll be Peppers and Chesson. Peppers looked great overall today and DJ Durkin said he's had an outstanding camp

An ominous note at kicker:

PK remains up in the air - still doesn't look like an area of strength. Aussie P Blake O'Neill got off some boomers – impressive

This from Dienhart on the three PK options:

Three kickers took turns at the uprights: freshman Andrew David; sophomore Kyle Seychel; senior Kenneth Allen.

Unverified Voracity Goes One On One

Unverified Voracity Goes One On One

Submitted by Brian on August 13th, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Yes. Fun. Annual best CTK is just four minutes of the Michigan drill:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 21 - The... by mgovideo

Notables:

  • Lewan buries Keith Heitzman on the first rep; Heitzman comes back and does much better against Schofield on the next one. Not entirely unexpected.
  • Rawls absolutely runs over Ross Douglas on a rep, causing both guys to pop up and jut chests at each other threateningly.
  • Washington looks good on both his reps, though he gave some ground on #1.
  • Ross sheds very well on his single rep, as does Jarrod Wilson. Wormley does not and immediately gets a coach in his face repeating "escape, escape, escape" to him.
  • A rather large-looking Mike McCray has interesting reps separated by 30 seconds or so. On the first one, Kyle Bosch drives him way out of the frame. On the second, he dumps Blake Bars to the ground and makes a tackle.
  • Taco stands up Jake Butt, RB darts by, Mattison exclaims "HE WENT OUTSIDE THE CONE" in an effort to claim that one for the D.
  • Strobel does a good job against walk-on Erik Gunderson.
  • Jeremy Jackson locks up Richardson and waltzes him downfeld. Not a huge surprise, but an indicator as to why it's going to be hard for Richardson to get on the field this year.
  • Pipkins wins a rep against Glasgow with authority.

Omar comin'? Frank Clark gets the CTK treatment:

Countdown to Kickoff 2013: Day 22 - Frank Clark by mgovideo

Clark says he'd be competitive with Devin Gardner in a 40 yard dash… but not Denard. He says he 268, not 277, but a CTK a few days later they say he's 274. I dunno, pick one.

Also available: Aaron Wellman may get results, but does he sound like a gravel truck? Maybe a little. Jeremy Jackson's Day 18 is mostly a look into weirdass Navy Seal exercises like "kick a pole and wiggle forward on your butt" and "rub sand on your head." Jake Ryan is running and whatnot.

Hail Brady. Oh man Michigan's head coach has the same opinion on uniformz as sane people do:

"(The uniform issue is) bigger than it should be," Hoke said Monday during a radio interview with FoxSports' Jay Mohr. "But we’re traditional, and we have such a great tradition and legacies, we’re going to be staying pretty much standard.” …

“We had one uniform we wore once that we won’t wear again,” he said. "It’s something that you’re always trying to have that excitement with your kids, and that’s part of it."

Is that the ghost number outfit, the No Rain bumblebee one, or… actually the Sugar Bowl uniforms were hardly different from the usual and fine.

The times, they have changed. Ohio State picks up a 2015 PG commit from AJ Harris, a 5'8" kid who I'd never heard of. A quick check of the UMHoops page for him reveals nothing but a lot of scouting from various AAU tournaments, so that's why: no one had mentioned him in connection with a Michigan offer. This is interesting for a couple reasons:

  1. It likely removes OSU from the Jalen Brunson chase, but Harris is a AAU teammate of Luke Kennard.
  2. Harris's commitment was "shocking" because as of two weeks ago he said Michigan was at the top and he wanted to be Trey Burke.

Harris told Eleven Warriors that "it's true, I did want to hear from Michigan," but Michigan is focused on a half-dozen high profile targets. So… Ohio point guard picks Ohio State because Michigan showed no interest. Remember when the basketball program was 1-6 in the Big Ten? No? I don't either.

Meanwhile in silly things said on the internet:

What could make it sweeter? Beating out Michigan for a prospect that two weeks ago wanted to emulate Trey Burke.

To beat the man, the man has to be in the ring, or at least cognizant of the fact there is a ring.

Booker and Johnson do things. Elsewhere in basketball recruiting news—we are downshifting from occasional roundups as football season starts—Devin Booker releases a top five of Michigan, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, and Florida. The latter two are not reputed to be strong contenders, especially Florida. Booker told Scout that he's set up officials with the other four schools and pull the trigger "whenever I feel whatever schools is right for me" and that he's not even sure he'll visit Florida.

You are rooting for Indiana decommit (and Kentucky legacy) James Blackmon to pick the Wildcats, as they seem to be the biggest threat at the moment. Indiana blog Inside The Hall thinks Blackmon is all but locked up for the Wildcats, so we've got that going for us. The primary way things could go pear-shaped if Blackmon takes Kentucky off the table is if Michigan gets a commit from Trevon Bluiett and Booker looks at Stauskas/Irvin/LeVert/Bluiett as a higher hill to climb than Michigan State's roster.

Also, Ypsi PF Jaylen Johnson, who recently took a visit to Michigan, is profiled by the Louisville paper:

“I love his activity,” Meyer said. “He’s athletic, he’s long, and he’s so active. He’s such an aggressive rebounder, one of those who is always fighting for position early. I love his feel for the game as a rebounder.”

Meyer thinks Johnson will end up at Louisville, so expect him to cut Louisville from his list immediately. YES I AM STILL BITTER.

Finally, touted 2015 PF Carlton Bragg plans a visit:

We talked about it a little,” Graves said. “I think Carlton would be a three, stretch four because he has the jumper to be 6-9 just like a forward that runs the floor, like a hybrid. We haven’t talked x’s and o’s but they can see him in their system, especially with the three’s that they shoot.”

Bragg is open at the moment; Ohio State will be a major player.

They were almost ready to throw in the towel last year. On the OL, that is. Apparently the debate as to whether to redshirt Kyle Kalis was being had within the walls of Schembechler Hall as well as without:

"It sucked," the redshirt freshman offensive lineman said Sunday. "It sucked. So many times, I was close to going in, but they didn't want to burn my redshirt.

"Everyone wants to play, and it sucks (when you don't get to). And I was mad about it."

So many times I was like "why aren't they playing Kalis." At least we know now there was much debate about it.

Prepare for WJC departures. The United States of Hockey handicaps the National Junior Evaluation Camp field, which includes four Michigan forwards. Chris Peters projects that Compher ("One of the better centers for most of the camp… really strong when playing a bottom-six role and playing an aggressive, grinding two-way style") and Copp ("A prime candidate to play the fourth-line shutdown role the U.S. will so badly need to succeed") will make the roster, while Motte and Nieves are question marks. Nieves's evaluation is pretty much the thing:

Nieves is one of those guys where if he finds that missing piece to his game, he could be really good. With size, speed and some truly remarkable puck skills, he’s got a lot of the tools going for him. He just couldn’t seem to finish the play out with the right decision or buy himself time when he needed it. That led to poor shots or turnovers and that’s going to be tough to do at the WJC level. The speed and skills are there, but I think he needs some more work.

Right now he's Milan Gajic, a guy who looks like he's got every skill you could want but doesn't put it together to blow up. He's got some more time to break out of that rut.

Meanwhile, Motte is sounding like something not very much like the midget puck wizard I'd assumed he would be:

Motte showed good quickness and some skill in a solid camp performance. He had some good two-way play and worked really well when playing with Compher and Fasching in the middle parts of the camp.

He might grab a lower-rung spot, especially if the brass thinks his long familiarity with Compher would make a good pairing.

Are they related to Wiz Khalifa? I don't know what this means.

For Gallon, there’s an added bonus there: He and Gardner are extremely tight. “Closer than Phineas and Ferb,” as Gallon puts it.

I am old.

Etc.: Big Ten building spree reaches 1.5 billion dollars. No M-OSU night games on the docket according to Jim Delany. Chengelis wants to futz with the tunnel. Michael Bradley profiled. Penn State fans no likey Hoke after the Wangler decommitment. Moeller and Lou Holtz break down The Catch.

Ondre Pipkins is ready to eat… metaphorically. The center battle should be decided this week.

Preview 2012: Offensive Line

Preview 2012: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 28th, 2012 at 12:32 PM

Previous: Podcast 4.0, the story, quarterback, running back, wide receivers.

oline-vs-osu

Depth Chart
LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Taylor Lewan Jr.* Elliott Mealer Sr.* Ricky Barnum Sr.* Patrick Omameh Sr.* Michael Schofield Jr.*
Erik Magnuson Fr. Joey Burzynski So.* Jack Miller Fr.* Kyle Kalis Fr. Ben Braden Fr.

This again. One year after Michigan's offensive line looked pretty shiny as long as you did not consider the cliff after guy #6, Michigan's offensive line looks really shiny… as long as you don't consider the cliff after guy #5. Or maybe guy #4. In a best case scenario, still guy #6.

Last year, Michigan had Michael Schofield to step into the lineup, and needed him to. This year any injury will see a walk-on or freshman—probably a true freshman—hit the field. Yipes.

But let's not think about that. As long as the starting five stays intact, the line should be quality. Taylor Lewan is projected as a first-round NFL draft pick, Patrick Omameh is in his fourth year as a starter, Michael Schofield started most of last year and moves to a more natural position, and the other two guys are redshirt seniors. Michigan should have a better line this year even without David Molk.

That first step's a doozy, though.

Tackle

Rating: 5 of 5, not considering depth

(CAPTION INFORMATION)
Michigan offensive linesman Taylor Lewan and Purdue safety Albert Evans have words after a play.  Lewan was given a penalty for his troubles.               Photos are of the University of Michigan vs. Purdue University at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, October 29, 2011.   (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
(caption) Michigan OL Taylor Lewan (77) blocks Eastern Michigan Eagles linebacker Marcus English (42), paving the way for Denard Robinson's rushing touchdown  in the second quarter.    *** The Michigan Wolverines (2-0) host the Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-0) at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Photos taken on Saturday, September 17, 2011. ( John T. Greilick / The Detroit News )

Guralnick/Greilick, Detroit News

At this point, "Taylor Lewan is the next Jake Long" is not hope or hype or projection but just a (pretty much) true thing. Lewan may not go first overall in the NFL draft but he's already being projected in the top half of the first round next year, should he choose to depart.

After a promising but penalty-filled freshman year, Lewan cut out the holding calls and stoned opposing pass rushers, snap in, snap out. The primary reason ultra-hyped MSU DE Will Gholston started playing judo chop with various Lewan limbs was that he had no hope of impacting the game in any other fashion:

TAYLOR LEWAN
AGILITY TO PULL
sprint counter
gets outside on p&p
another sprint counter
HATES DONKEYS
donkey McNaul
donkey Short
donkey Meredith
donkey some guy
donkey-ish Hankins
DONKEY HANKINS
ETC.
nice seal on Worthy
stands up Binns
gets Toussaint edge
DOES BIFF
loses balance
fails to cut on screen

In a game where the Michigan OL was overwhelmed, blitz or not (Mark Huyge got 7 protection minuses), Lewan had a measly +1. Across twelve games of fending off the opposition's best pass rusher he racked up a total of four protection minuses. Two of those were for not cutting a guy on a screen; a third was not getting out on a corner on an attempted double pass. The fourth is somewhere in that video above, and I'm not even sure what that was. Even counting that there was literally one QB hurry going one-on-one with Lewan last year, to say nothing of actual sacks. There is a reason he is getting the NFL hype.

(Note that when blitzes cause confusion not localizable to one or two players that sends in free rushers I file that under "team." Lewan's no doubt responsible for some of those. When he identifies a guy to block, it's over.)

The black lining in our silver cloud was Lewan's lack of impact in the run game. He started off well, with three games around +10 in the UFR run chart and a 7-3-+4 against ND in limited opportunities—Michigan did jack before eviscerating Gary Gray in the fourth quarter. This was noted.

how often have you thought about Taylor Lewan this year? Not often, right? Mostly when he takes some donkey and punches it so hard in the nose shards of cartilage come out the back of its donkeyhelmet, right? (In a non-personal-foul acquiring way, of course.)

After that, he struggled to register on the run chart until late. His Big Ten season:

Game Opponent + - T Comment
5 MINN 5.5 6 -0.5 Yeah, surprised me too: had a couple busts and one bad whiff.
6 NW 4.5 2 2.5 Why so low, numbers? Discussion later.
7 MSU 6 5 1 Lucky to have both arms in his shoulder sockets.
8 PU 7 1 6 Would like to see him more involved somehow.
9 Iowa 6 7 -1 Off day.
10 Illinois 8 5 3 Had some mistakes in space.
11 Nebraska 9 - 9 Finally some productive donkey hatred. Belly helps him produce; also got Toussaint the edge on a play that would have gone badly otherwise.
12 OSU 9.5 1 8 Effective against DTs, mostly, also getting to the second level.

There's a certain amount of busting plays that is part and parcel of being an offensive lineman, especially one learning a new offense. That doesn't bother me. What does is the overall lack of positives until the tail end of the season. Heavily involved linemen will be putting up twice the positives and negatives as the above—Omameh had eight games where his positives were above ten and five where they were 13 or greater. Lewan didn't get there, and I think this was because of Omameh, ironically:

What is with those Lewan numbers?

The system doesn't try to judge blocks that are far away from the play and often declares an easy thing done okay to be a zero, so backside tackles and down-blocking guys a gap away from the play rarely register. Lewan rarely registered and this week's picture pages were examples of Schofield pulling, Schofield pulling, and Schofield pulling. Why is Michigan pulling the converted tackle backup and running away from their donkey-hating first round tackle?

The only conclusion that makes sense is they hate pulling Omameh. When they did pull left, they pulled Molk or Schofield and Molk, only rarely trying Omameh.

We'll talk about that when we get to the right guard, but Omameh came on in those last three games in which Lewan finally got some traction. Once they could pull the right guard, the left tackle got to express his donkey hatred.

With Omameh figuring it out and another year of experience for both, Michigan figures to be more left-handed on the ground; combine that with the pass blocking mentioned above and factor the injuries Lewan dragged around all year and the projections for his 2012 should be sky-high. He should be an All-American, or at least play like one.

[hit THE JUMP to find out about the other starters, but probably not the backups.]

2012 Recruiting: Blake Bars

2012 Recruiting: Blake Bars

Submitted by Brian on August 15th, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, and OL Erik Magnuson.

       
Nashville, TN – 6'5", 291
       

72025[1]

Scout 3*, #58 OT
Rivals 4*, #32 OT, #9 TN
ESPN 3*, #54 OT, #8 TN
24/7 3*, #66 OT, #18 TN
Other Suitors Penn State, Florida, LSU, BC, Virginia, Vandy
YMRMFSPA Patrick Omameh
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Tim. TomVH interview. Look Up See Blue meets the elder Bars.
Notes Brother at Penn State, another one coming up next year (2014). Dad played for ND. Has 'Bama bangs. 

Film

Senior highlights:

Also has some junior clips.

Blake Bars takes the title for greatest discrepancy between recruiting rankings and offer list in the class. One of the four sites thought he warranted four stars; Michigan, LSU, Florida, and a pre-crater Penn State thought he warranted an offer. That's weird. It's less weird because Bars is an offensive lineman with a golden bloodline, but it's still a little weird. What did Les Miles and Will Muschamp see in the guy that the recruiting sites mostly didn't? No idea. Why would in-state Tennessee ignore the guy? No idea. These things happen from time to time, I guess.

Compounding the confusion is a lack of scouting out there. In comparison to a guy like Magnuson—who hit every camp he possibly could and had me deleting thousands of words of scouting reports just because they were repetitive—Bars was a recluse. He didn't appear to hit any camps at all and he even turned down the Army game($) when they approached him late. (He'd already scheduled an in-home with Michigan coaches that day, FWIW.) His low profile most places didn't help: he didn't warrant one of those Scout breakdowns that go on their player pages, and Rivals didn't report on him in their "From The Road" segments. So there's not a ton out there.

What is out there is what you'd expect for a guy with Bars's rankings. ESPN's evaluation reads positive for most of it before dropping the "too small" item:

…although we don't see overwhelming playing strength, this prospect consistently gets movement as a result of his blocking base and good leg drive. Does a good job handling quickness and is a very effective as a down and double team blocker. … We see the athleticism to reach and gain leverage on shaded defenders showing the quickness necessary to consistently get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders. Although we see the need for refinement in all areas of pass protection this guy possesses the long arms and nimble feet which should be assets… Bars doesn't appear to be an early starter at the major level of competition however his athleticism is a real positive. Once body mass is added to his frame he should have a long and productive career.

That makes Bars sound like a guy Rich Rodriguez would have chased all over the country to play guard, except he's already 290 pounds.

I see the word "reach" and I think Molk, of course, and Scout's Chad Simmons did broach the idea of center:

…not as tall as some of the other UM commits and could possibly end up on the interior, or with lack of depth at center at UM he could find a home there. He shows excellent balance, punch in his blocking, and the athleticism in run blocking. He plays with excellent knee-bend and keeps his pads low because he understands his position and trench war execution. … plays with that nasty streak that you like to see.

Darryl Funk told reporters on Signing Day that they didn't see anyone in the class as a center, but if they're going to change their mind on that it will be Bars who does it. He's got the intelligence—football family, Vandy, BC, Virginia offers to go with M—and Michigan's center is going to be 6'5" once the Hoke generation of lineman ascends into the starting lineup. Any leverage issues you might bring forward would be shared with his competitors. It's a viable plan B or C.

His toity prep school brought NFL lineman Kevin Mawae around to help coach linemen, and Rivals talked to him about Bars's strengths and weaknesses. Mawae started off by implying he was a bit of a project($)…

"He's going to have to work on his pass blocking technique. It's easy to beat guys when you're 6-6, 280 or whatever … the higher level you go, the more technique's going to be a bigger issue as far as pass protection and stuff like that. All in all, Blake did okay this year, but I thought he could have been even better. He relied a lot on size as opposed to just learning and understanding the technique, which is probably indicative of a lot of high school kids."

..and called him "definitely an outside guy" at 6'5" or 6'6" unless you've got one of those toolsy 6'7" guys, in which case he would be a viable option on the inside. Left tackle is a stretch since he's "not as athletic as you'd want your left tackles to be"… from an NFL perspective. Touch The Banner returned with a similar assessment, and his head coach also projected a move to right tackle or inside($).

Bars's head coach also struck upon something Funk has emphasized as one of the most impressive things about the class($) as a whole:

"He's extremely athletic for his size, with really good feet, and maybe the thing that goes unnoticed but I can tell you is he has flexibility - he bends really well for a kid that size."

The elusive "bend" is a priority for all linemen as it allows them to get pad level, and pad level is the most important thing ever. When you don't have bend, you are "stiff" and transfer to Western Michigan after a year like Dann O'Neill (and then carve out a pretty good career for yourself anyway). Funk likes the bend of the class as a whole.

Aaand the final piece of Bars scouting is the proverbial mean streak. Barton Simmons($):

What stands out as much as anything when watching Bars is his tenacity. He likes to get after, he plays until the whistle blows, and he looks complete each block. He plays with that nasty streak that you like to see in offensive linemen. He has the frame you like as well.

This also makes a move to guard more likely, as they get to deploy the proverbial mean streak more liberally in the run game than tackles. If it matters that much. I mean… these "mean streak" assessments are about blocking a guy even more after you've already blocked him. Blocking him first seems to be 95% of offensive linesmanship, but everyone focuses on the proverbial mean streak. It's a meme and therefore unkillable. I wonder if Funk gives two dangs about it. 

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

We've come to the time on Sprockets were we evaluated the guardiness of the offensive lineman, and Bars is guardy. The evaluations call him a tackle, the recruiting services rank him at tackle, but by virtue of not being 6'7" and not being a universal blue chip, Bars is more likely to slide inside than either of the OL previously covered in this series.

Yeah, Funk told him left tackle($)…

"Michigan wants me to play left tackle," said Bars. "That’s where they said they’d start me out at and go from there. I’m willing to play wherever on the line for a chance to get in."

…and there's no doubt Michigan will evaluate everyone they brought in for that spot. Chances are someone else is a better fit and Bars will be placed in the guard repechage.

Etc.: Empty. This used to happen a lot when these reports focused on guys like DJ Williamson. Not so much now. The googling, oh the googling.

Why Patrick Omameh? Omameh was initially supposed to be a tackle prospect before being moved inside, whereupon he was a second-level-reaching Te'o destroyer before the power-blocking Hoke revamp made him a fish out of water. He got better towards the end of last year and enters his senior year at around 305, still ready to be mobile at you.

Omameh came in with less recruiting hype but a much more plausible claim to being a sleeper after a late growth spurt took him from Big East TE recruit to Big Ten OL recruit. Bars is bigger coming in.

Guru Reliability: Low. OL, no camps, offers defy ranking.

Variance: Medium. Character related issues seem a very remote possibility and he's pretty close to playing weight already. Still needs to develop. Is OL.

Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Athletic, good frame, seems like he could be a high quality guard playing at 310. Probably doesn't have the sheer length to be an elite tackle.

General Excitement Level:. Moderate-plus. The least hyped of the OL  but he has great bloodlines and offers and despite the ratings the scouting reports are pretty good.

Projection: Redshirt. Then… whoah, has a very good shot at starting as a redshirt freshman. Even if you assume Kyle Kalis grabs one of the interior spots, Omameh, Mealer, and Barnum will be gone, leaving Jack Miller and Chris Bryant as the only other experienced scholarship interior linemen on the team.

Oy.

Now that you're done shaking your fist at Rodriguez's one-man OL class from a few years back, Bars just has to be a better idea than one of those two guys to start in 2013. That's a 50-50 shot, more if Bryant doesn't lose enough weight to be effective. If he does grab that spot he'll have heat from behind as he tries to hold it; still, four years starting is not a remote possibility at all. Year one and two might be a little shaky.

Weekday Warriors 2011: 8-30

Weekday Warriors 2011: 8-30

Submitted by Ace on August 30th, 2011 at 3:52 PM

'Friday Night Lights' is now 'Weekday Warriors', and every week I'll be updating you on the latest performances from Michigan commits as they play our their high school seasons. If you see anything missing or can find an article on a game, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email.

2012 COMMITS

TN OL Blake Bars

Montgomery Bell Academy dropped to 1-1 on the season with a blowout loss to Louisville (KY) Trinity. Since Bars is an offensive linemen, there are no stats to report.

This week: The Big Red hope to move back above .500 at home against Brentwood Academy on Friday.

Joe BoldenOH LB Joe Bolden

Bolden's Colerain squad won a nationally-televised matchup with last year's Florida 2A state champion, Cocoa, by a score of 17-7, snapping Cocoa's 38-game winning streak. Bolden did a little bit of everything, tallying eight tackles, tipping a pass that led to an interception, and completing a 36-yard pass on a fake punt (yes, Bolden serves as Colerain's punter). The win extended Colarain's home winning streak to a remarkable 60 games. ESPN's highlights of the contest prominently feature the future Wolverine, though also unfortunately Pam Ward. I can't embed the video without an ad autoplaying (seriously, WTF, ESPN), so you'll have to hit the link to see the highlights.

This week: Colarain looks to continue their home dominance on Friday against Ryle at 7:30.

MI OL Ben Braden

In a matchup of western (Michigan) powers, Rockford fell in their opener at Lowell, 28-7. Despite the loss, Braden came in for praise from Lowell's coach, Noel Dean:

"I'm not sure we'll see a team anywhere near that big," he said. "Their front seven on defense is as big as I've ever seen. And their front seven on offense -- I've never seen a human being move as well as that Ben Braden at this level. I was standing on that field, and I didn't feel good about putting my kids in front of him. He's huge, and he's a really good player."

This week: Rockford looks to right the ship in their home opener against Holt on Thursday at 7.

OH DE Pharaoh Brown

Brush fell to Eastlake North 51-20 in their opening game of the season. Though the Brush defense didn't perform, Brown reported to me on Twitter that he recorded three sacks, four tackles, and caught three passes for 86 yards, despite the fact that, according to him, Eastlake North widened the splits in their line to keep him from getting to the quarterback and refused to run in his direction.

This week: Brush hits the road on Friday at 7 to face Madison.

MI TE Devin Funchess, DE Mario Ojemudia, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, and CB Terry Richardson

As you all know, these four faced off in the Big Day Showdown at Eastern Michigan, with Farmington Hills Harrison (Funchess and Ojemudia) blowing out Cass Tech (RJS and Terry Richardson) 43-7. Funchess recorded three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown, as well as tallying an interception while playing safety. Ojemudia dominated at defensive end, finishing with four tackles, three for a loss, 1/2 sack, six QB hurries, and a fumble recovery on a blocked punt, while also playing offensive tackle for most of the game. Jenkins-Stone had four tackles and a forced fumble (in a bizarre twist, that came on offense after an interception) and also caught two passes and carried the ball five times for a total of seven yards. Richardson finished with a pass breakup – in the end zone against State commit Aaron Burbridge, no less – three kick returns for 70 yards, and one catch for 13 yards. The game was the subject of this week's Creeper Van Originals, and the highlights are below:

This week: Harrison plays at Southfield on Thursday at 7, while Cass Tech hopes to bounce back on Friday at 3 on the road at Detroit Central.

OH S Allen Gant

Gant played on both sides of the ball for Southview in their 23-21 season-opening victory over St. Francis de Sales. According to an intrepid MGoPoster who was taking down stats for de Sales, Gant played receiver and finished with one catch for five yards and took a jet sweep for seven yards – there are no defensive stats to be found, though apparently Gant did not record an interception, in case you were wondering.

This week: Southview travels to Toledo Rogers on Friday at 7.

MI DT Matt Godin

According to Andrew at Touch the Banner, Godin recorded two tackles in the first half before sitting out the second with an apparent concussion in Detroit Catholic Central's 42-0 trouncing of Dearborn Fortson.

This week: DCC heads to Ohio to take on Delphos St. John's on Friday at 7:30. Let's hope Godin's injury isn't too serious.

UT FB Sione Houma

A week after rushing for 112 yards on 16 carries and returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, Houma's stats aren't available from Highland's 41-7 victory over Cedar.

This week: The 2-0 Rams have their home opener against Provo at 7 on Friday night.

OH OL Kyle Kalis

Lakewood St. Edward defeated Glenville 17-14 in their season opener, but did so without Kalis, who was sidelined with an injury:

Michigan recruit and offensive tackle Kyle Kalis was in street clothes on the St. Edward sideline with a dislocated kneecap. Finotti said he's "day to day." He could return as early as next week or in two to three weeks.

This week: St. Edward travels to Pittsburgh to take on Penn Hills on Friday. We'll see if Kalis is able to suit up.

CA OL Erik Magnuson

Magnuson did not play last week, as La Costa Canyon begins its season on Friday against Marina.

MO DT Ondre Pipkins

Park Hill knocked off Liberty by a score of 13-7, and TomVH (you might recognize the name) caught up to Pipkins, who said he had eight tackles, a sack, and two forced fumbles. Nice.

This week: On Friday at 7, Park Hill has its home opener against Ruskin.

OH LB Kaleb Ringer

Northmont dropped its opener to Hamilton, 28-14, as Ringer sat out the game with a broken hand suffered in the previous week's scrimmage. Ringer said on Twitter that the injury might require surgery, but he's hoping to get back on the field in a soft cast next week.

This week: Northmont plays at Princeton on Friday at 7:30.

MI LB James Ross

Orchard Lake St. Mary's dominated their first game against Grand Rapids West Catholic, finishing with a 35-0 shutout. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan (another name you might recognize) was at the game ($), and reported that Ross tallied three solo tackles (two for loss) and four assists.

This week: The Eaglets host Toledo (OH) St. John's Jesuit on Friday at 7.

OH OL Caleb Stacey

Oak Hills fell to La Salle in their opener, 42-21. No stats (obviously) or mention of Stacey in the game article.

This week: The Highlanders will try to pick up their first win of the year at Harrison on Friday at 7:30.

IL CB Anthony Standifer

Crete-Monee defeated Thornton Fractional South by a score of 32-8 in their opener. Standifer reported to me on Twitter that he finished with eight tackles, making sure to mention that Thornton didn't throw his way during the game.

This week: The Warriors head to Lincoln-Way West on Friday at 7:30.

OH DE Tom Strobel

Mentor defeated Euclid 49-21 in their first game of the season. No stats were readily available for Strobel, so this is the part where I remind you to contact me if you come across these kinds of things. Thanks.

This week: The Cardinals host Ursuline on Friday at 7.

OH TE A.J. Williams

Sycamore beat Withrow, 38-24, to open the season. Williams didn't record a catch, though his quarterback ran the ball 16 times for four touchdowns, so I'm guessing he didn't have many opportunities to do so.

This week: The Aviators, whose mascot is not a pair of cool sunglasses, bro, have their home opener against Springboro on Friday at 7:30.

OH S Jarrod Wilson

Buchtel's matchup with Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington was featured in a Rivals AMP video, and Wilson was credited with 6 1/2 tackles, though his team ultimately fell by a score of 31-6. Highlights, including a couple nice tackles by the future Wolverine:

This week: The Griffins hope to notch their first win of the year on the road at Steubenville on Friday at 7.

OH DE Chris Wormley

Toledo Whitmer blew out Start, 42-6, and TomVH once again comes through with the stats – two tackles, one QB hurry, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery for Wormley. The Whitmer defense held Start to just 108 yards of total offense.

This week: The Panthers host some of our neighbors to the north as London (Ontario) Lucas travels to Toledo for a Friday night game at 7. I'll be filming this one for next week's Creeper Van Original.

2013 COMMITS

KY S Jeremy Clark

North Hopkins went on the road to defeat Graves County, 42-13, and Clark had quite the game, finishing with 12 tackles, an interception, and capping off the scoring with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown, according to TomVH. It's great to see Clark do so well, but this is the point where I start to get nervous that a big-time program might offer him more than a grayshirt and he could jump ship.

This week: The Maroons look to improve to 2-1 when they host North Hardin on Friday at 8.

MI QB Shane Morris

Morris and his Warren De La Salle squad dominated my alma mater, Ann Arbor Pioneer, 43-28. Morris completed 12 of 15 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, and Fox 2 has a brief highlight clip from the game:

Warren DeLasalle Beats Ann Arbor Pioneer: MyFoxDETROIT.com

This week: De La Salle plays Carmen-Ainsworth at Lake Shore on Friday at 7.

Friday Night Lights 2011: An Out-of-State Primer

Friday Night Lights 2011: An Out-of-State Primer

Submitted by Tim on July 29th, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Player roundtable notes from Big Ten Media Days coming as soon as I can type them up. Hopefully 3500 words is enough to tide you over.

This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the out-of-state commits. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at [email protected], or post them in the comments of this post.

Blake Bars

BlakeBars-mug.jpg

Nashville, TN
Montgomery Bell Academy

Montgomery Bell 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-19 7PM Kingsbury
8-26 8PM @ Louisville Trinity
9-2 TBA Brentwood Academy
9-9 TBA Baylor
9-16 7PM Battle Ground Academy
9-23 TBA Pearl-Cohn
9-30 TBA @ Father Ryan
10-7 TBA Ensworth
10-21 TBA @ McCallie
10-28 TBA @ Pope John Paul II

HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Tackle/Guard

Last year, Montgomery Bell Academy went 9-3, losing in the second round of the Tennessee High School State Playoffs. Since Blake is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note on the year.

This season, MBA plays many of the same opponents that they did last year, including Ensworth, who beat them in the playoffs (avenging an earlier loss). Blake is one of the key players on his team, and with a solid season, could see his rankings improve on the recruiting sites. Since he was a first-time starter last year, it's likely he'll show plenty of improvement now that he's gotten his feet wet.

Joe Bolden

IMG_2850.JPG

Cincinnati, OH
Colerain High School

Colerain 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-28 3PM Cocoa (FL)
9-2 7:30PM Ryle
9-9 7:30PM St. Xavier
9-16 7:30PM Mason
9-23 7:30PM @ Middletown
9-30 7:30PM Fairfield
10-7 7:30PM @ Lakota West
10-14 7:30PM Lakota East
10-21 7:30PM @ Hamilton
10-28 7:30PM @ Oak Hills

HS Position: Linebacker
Projects as: Strongside Linebacker

Colerain is one of the traditional powers in Ohio High School football, and their 11-1 season last year is another example of that success. However, they lost in the second round of the State Playoffs to rival St. Xavier, ending not only their undefeated streak, but also their season. Bolden notched 90 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 interceptions in the campaign.

Look for the Cardinals to reload for yet another successful campaign, though five players went on to Division-1 colleges after graduation. They also have a tough schedule, starting with an inter-state game against Cocoa (FL), and including a game against fellow Michigan commit Caleb Stacey's Oak Hills squad.

I might get a chance to catch a game of Bolden's, but if not, you'll be able to watch the season opener on ESPN2, so be sure to tune in.

Pharaoh Brown

pharaoh.jpg

Lyndhurst, OH
Brush High School

Brush 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-19 7PM Medina
8-26 7PM @ Eastlake North
9-2 7PM @ Madison
9-9 7PM Kenston
9-16 7PM Valley Forge
9-23 7PM @ Twinsburg
9-30 7PM Mayfield
10-6 7PM @ Twinsburg
10-14 7PM @ Lakewood
10-21 7PM Parma
10-28 7PM @ Garfield Heights

HS Position: Quarterback/Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Wide Receiver

Brush struggled to a 4-6 record last year, with Brown one of the few bright spots at both defensive end and quarterback. He made 49 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 3 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles at defensive end. His quarterback stats are not available.

Brush is looking to rebound in 2011 with a stronger season, and the five close losses last year indicate that they may not be far from a breakthrough of sorts. Brown might switch from quarterback to wideout this year (as some 7-on-7 highlights might indicate), but will continue terrorizing QBs off the edge.

As an underexposed recruit, Brown is somebody that could see his rankings on the recruiting sites rise if he has a dominant senior year. His physical tools are impressive, and putting them to good use could see him rise to 4-star status on all the recruiting sites. It's unlikely that I'll catch any of his games in person this fall. I'm also not positive if the schedule listed by MaxPreps is accurate, as that double-dip against Twinsburg seems a little fishy.

Allen Gant

gantaction.jpeg

Sylvania, OH
Southview High School

Southview 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-26 7PM Toledo DeSales
9-2 7PM @ Toledo Rogers
9-9 7PM @ Toledo Start
9-16 7PM Napoleon (@ Northview)
9-23 7PM Maumee
9-30 8PM Perrysburg (@ Northview)
10-7 7PM @ Bowling Green
10-14 7PM Whitehouse Anthony Wayne
10-28 7PM Sylvania Northview

HS Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Strong Safety

Like Colerain, Southview completed an undefeated regular season - blowing out many opponents along the way - but was tripped up early in the playoffs, falling in the first round to Twinsburg (alma mater of Zoltan, All Hail Zoltan). Allen finished his junior year with 56 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles on defense, while also recording 20 receptions on the other side of the ball.

This year, Southview will look to take last year's performance to the next level, advancing into the Ohio Playoffs. Allen should be an important part of the defense and the offense if he can stay healthy (he's had hamstring issues in the past).

Since the Sylvania/Toledo area is not a long haul, I might be able to catch a couple of Gant's games in person this fall. With a healthy, successful season, he has a very good chance to move up in the rankings.

Sione Houma

SioneHouma-mug.jpg

Salt Lake City, UT
Highland High School

Highland 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-19 7PM @ Salt Lake West
8-26 7PM @ Cedar City
9-2 7PM Provo
9-9 7PM Lone Peak
9-16 7PM Clearfield
9-23 7PM @ Bountiful
9-30 7PM Woods Cross
10-7 7PM Magna Cyprus
10-14 7PM @ Salt Lake East

HS Position: A-Back
Projects as: Fullback

Highland had a pretty successful 2010 campaign, finishing the year with a 10-4 record and running through the playoffs to a State Championship. Houma played a big role in that championship, rushing for 1200 yards and 9 touchdowns as the dive back in a flexbone offense.

As the reigning State Champs, Highland should expect to have another successful season this fall, despite the loss of a pair of 3-star players to the Pac-12 (Desmond Collins to Oregon State, Nate Fakahafua to Utah). Sione should continue to play a big role in the offense, especially since one of his backfield mates has moved on as well.

Since he plays a position where there are rarely any prospects rated higher than three stars, it's unlikely to see Sione rise that much in the rankings. Compounding that is the fact that he's slightly undersized for his eventual college position, and he'll have to turn in a very impressive campaign in 2011 to see his rankings rise (though he may be able to pass a fullback or two).

Since he's two timezones away, I think it goes without saying that I won't see any games in person this fall (though any readers in the SLC area who want to e-mail game reports, photos, video, etc. are more than welcome to).

Kyle Kalis

KyleKalis-passblock.jpg

Lakewood, OH
St. Edward High School

St. Edward 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-27 7PM Cleveland Glenville
9-2 TBA @ Pittsburgh Penn Hills
9-10 7:30PM Youngstown Cardinal Mooney
9-17 7PM Cincinnati Elder
9-24 7PM Tampa (FL) Jefferson
9-30 7PM @ Youngstown Ursuline
10-8 7PM Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep
10-15 7PM @ Cincinnati St. Xavier
10-22 7PM Cincinnati Moeller
10-29 7PM Cleveland St. Ignatius

HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Guard/Tackle

2010 was a good year for one of the tradition powers in Ohio High School Football, as Lakewood St. Edward went 15-0 en route to a State Championship. That was quite the rebound from an extremely disappointing 4-6 campaign in 2009, especially since they played plenty of top competition. Since Kyle is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note.

This year should be interesting for St. Edward, as they lost 5 players to Division-1 ball (and another to FCS school Penn, which I guess technically counts as D-1). However, this year's senior class might be even better, with Kalis joined by a quartet of 3-star commits on the roster. The run-heavy scheme certainly should see success behind Kalis and fellow BCS-bound lineman Tyler Orlosky, who is committed to West Virginia. They have a hell of a schedule, with opponents from four different states.

Cleveland is one of the less-convenient potential stops for the Great FNL Tour of 2011, but I'm hoping to make it to at least one of Kalis's games. I'm not willing to make any promises though.

Erik Magnuson

magnusonaction.jpg

Carlsbad, CA
La Costa Canyon High School

La Costa Canyon 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-26 7PM Rancho Bernardo
9-2 7PM Marina
9-9 7PM Poway
9-16 7PM @ San Clemente
9-23 7PM @ Redlands
9-30 7PM Fallbrook
10-14 7PM @ Carlsbad
10-21 7PM Rancho Buena Vista
10-28 7PM @ Oceanside
11-4 7PM @ El Camino
11-11 7PM Torrey Pines

HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle

La Costa Canyon had a decent season last year, finishing 8-4 and losing to Oceanside in the CIF Playoff Second Round. Since Erik is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note.

La Costa Canyon is looking to build on last year's success, and have another successful season, taking it to the next level. They did lose a defensive end to Kansas State, which one must assume will weaken their defense.

California is a little too far for an FNL road trip (forgive me), but if any San Diego-area readers want to help keep tabs, my e-mail inbox is open. Erik is already a very highly-regarded prospect, so unless he has a simply dominant senior year, displaying that he has NFL potential as a true left tackle, it's hard to see him moving up the rankings much.

Kaleb Ringer

ringeruni.jpg

Clayton, OH
Northmont High School

Northmont 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-27 6PM Hamilton
9-2 7:30PM @ Cincinnati Princeton
9-10 7PM @ Cincinnati Moeller
9-16 7:30PM Sidney
9-23 7:30PM Lebanon
9-30 7:30PM @ Beavercreek
10-7 7:30PM Kettering Fairmont
10-14 7:30PM Kettering Fairmont
10-28 7:30PM @ Springfield

HS Position: Linebacker
Projects as: Weakside/Middle Linebacker

Northmont missed the State Playoffs last year after a trying season that included four blowout losses (to six wins). Despite team struggles, Kaleb performed pretty well, notching 35 solo tackles and 50 assisted tackles, while playing running back in goal line situations.

No recruited players graduated from Northmont, so this season has a chance to show some improvement. With Kaleb the key component in the defense, Northmont will look to build toward the State Playoffs in 2011.

Kaleb has a range of rankings on the recruiting services, with only Scout deeming him worthy of a fourth star. If he can turn in a physically dominant senior year, there's a good chance for him to rise in the rankings. His height will limit him a bit, but there's no reason he can't scrape into the 4-star range.

I'm hoping to make it to maaaaybe one of Kaleb's games this season, but with so many commits close to home, I may not be able to see him live. Also, there appears to be an error in the schedule posted on Maxpreps, as it shows two consecutive games against Fairmont.

Caleb Stacey

CALEB-STACEY_150_3_4.JPG

Cincinnati, OH
Oak Hills High School

Oak Hills 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-27 TBA @ Cincinnati La Salle
9-2 7:30PM @ Harrison
9-9 7:30PM Loveland
9-16 7:30PM Middletown
9-23 7:30PM @ Lakota West
9-30 7:30PM Hamilton
10-7 7:30PM @ Cincinnati Sycamore
10-14 7:30PM Mason
10-21 7:30PM @ Fairfield
10-28 7:30PM Colerain

HS Position: Offensive Guard/Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Center

Oak Hills had a rough season last year, going 4-6 and missing out on the State Playoffs. Losses to Stacey's future teammates AJ Williams (Sycamore) and Joe Bolden (Colerain) were included. Since Caleb is an offensive lineman, he didn't register any meaningful stats last season.

This season, the slate looks pretty tough again for Oak Hills, but they'll certainly strive to improve upon last year's record. Once again, they close the season against Joe Bolden's Colerain squad.

Caleb is at an interesting point from a rankings perspective. He's a 3-star across all three sites, which unanimously rank him among the guards. HOWEVA, he's slated to be a center in college, and is expected to play that position for his high school team this year to help get acclimated. That means that not only are the recruiting sites going to be scouting him this fall, but they'll be doing it at a new position. Lots of moving parts means lots of opportunity to move in the rankings. Rivals and ESPN only rank two centers in the 4-star range, Scout ranks three (two of whom are committed to Oklahoma), and 24/7 Sports only bothers to rank one center at all.

There's a slight chance I'll see a game or two of Stacey's this fall, but again, there are plenty of other prospects much closer, so I make no promises.

Anthony Standifer

Crete, IL
Crete-Monee High School

Crete-Monee 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-26 7:30PM Thornton Fractional South
9-2 7:30PM @ Lincoln-Way West
9-9 7:30PM @ Moline
9-16 7:30PM Glenbard South
9-23 6PM @ Kanakee
9-30 6PM Bloom
10-7 6PM @ Rich Central
10-14 6PM Rich South
10-22 12PM @ Rich East

HS Position: Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback/Safety

Crete-Monee had a decent season last year, finishing with an 8-4 record and a loss to Danville in the third round of the State Playoffs. Anthony was a big part of that success, adding 44 tackles to his 9 interceptions and a forced fumble.

This year, Crete-Monee should be even stronger, with no players from last year's class even present in Rivals's database, much less committed to Division-1 schools. Anthony should be one of the squad's leaders, along with junior teammate WR LaQuon Treadwell, helping take their team to the next level.

Anthony has plenty of potential to move up in the rankings with a good season. He's been pegged as sort of a corner/safety combo by some recruiting sites, so showing that he has the necessary skills to be a high-level corner in college could boost his rankings. With excellent corner size, displaying his abilities on the field is all he needs.

I won't be wishy-washy about whether or not I'm going to see any of his games, as I plan to make exactly one: The night before the Michigan game at Northwestern, Crete-Monee takes on Rich Central. Convenient!

Tom Strobel

TomStrobel-Hoops.png

Mentor, OH
Mentor High School

Mentor 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-26 7PM @ Euclid
9-2 7PM Youngstown Ursuline
9-9 7PM St. Ignatius
9-16 7PM @ Mayfield
9-23 7PM Parma
9-30 7PM Brunswick
10-6 7PM @ Solon
10-14 7PM Medina
10-21 7PM @ Strongsville
10-28 7PM @ Twinsburg

HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Strongside Defensive End

Mentor had an OK season last year, finishing 7-4 with a first-round playoff loss to Lakewood St. Edward (and Strobel's good friend Kyle Kalis) - bookending the season with losses to St. Ed. Strobel had 37 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and a sack for Mentor, and added a pair of fumble recoveries.

This year, the schedule looks just a bit lighter, so Mentor should put together a strong season. Strobel is the headliner of his team, and should be a team leader en route to a successful season.

Despite that, I don't think it's likely that Tom moves around much in the rankings, unless he puts together a monster year statistically (he was held back a bit last year by a trachea injury). A solid 4-star ranking is nothing to be ashamed of, and it seems likely Tom sticks in that range.

I'm not planning to make it to any of Mentor's games this year, but it's always possible that plans change.

AJ Williams

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Cincinnati, OH
Sycamore High School

Sycamore 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-27 7:30PM @ Cincinnati Withrow
9-2 7:30PM Springboro
9-9 7:30PM @Springfield
9-16 7:30PM @ Fairfield
9-23 7:30PM Lakota East
9-30 7:30PM @ Cincinnati Princeton
10-7 7:30PM Oak Hills
10-14 7:30PM @ Middletown
10-21 7:30PM Lakota West
10-28 7PM @ Mason

HS Position: Tight End/Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Tight End

Sycamore had a mediocre season last year, finishing 6-4 on the season and missing out on the State playoffs. The season included a win over Caleb Stacey's Oak Hills but a loss to Joe Bolden's Colerain. AJ didn't rack up many numbers, instead serving primarily as a blocker.

Sycamore graduated a couple BCS-bound players, so it wouldn't be a surprise if their team took a sight step back this year. However, the schedule is a bit lighter with no Colerain, so perhaps they can put together a strong season.

AJ is in a weird position as far as rankings go. He's a huge tight end, but it doesn't sound like there is any plan to have him play tackle. Despite that, he rarely catches any passes. Unless he moves to offensive line (and is ranked there by the recruiting services) or Sycamore's offensive scheme changes to get him the ball a bit more frequently, I doubt AJ is going to move in the rankings.

I have no current plans to make it to a Sycamore game this year.

Jarrod Wilson

JarrodWilson-action.jpg

Akron, OH
John R. Buchtel High School

Buchtel 2011
Date Time Opponent
8-19 5PM @ Austintown-Fitch
8-25 7:30PM @ Massillon Washington
9-2 7PM @ Steubenville
9-9 7PM @ Solon
9-16 7PM @ Akron Garfield
10-1 12PM Akron Ellet
10-8 12PM @ Akron North
10-14 7PM Kenmore
10-21 7PM @ St. Vincent-St. Mary
10-28 7PM Firestone

HS Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Safety

Buchtel had a pretty good season last year, falling in the State Finals to Bishop Watterson. The 11-4 final record also included losses to a trio of Catholic Schools. Jarrod was a huge part of his team's success, reeling in 12 interceptions and returning 5 of them for touchdowns. He also had a 98-yard fumble return for touchdown. He recorded about 50 tackles on the year.

This year, Buchtel loses the services of wideout Corey Smith, who would be a senior, but is ineligible to play high school sports (he's participated in four previous years). One of Wilson's compatriots in the defensive backfield, Chevin Meadows, has moved on to Kent State. Despite that, Jarrod is one of the catalysts for his team's success, so there shouldn't be too much dropoff for the Griffins - though they have a brutal start to the year.

Jarrod has put up massive stats in previous years, so it's not a lack of production that is holding him back in the rankings. Because of that, I think it's unlikely he moves much, even if he has another huge year.

I'm not currently planning to attend any Buchtel games this season, but Akron readers are welcome to e-mail me.

Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to [email protected].

Wednesday Recruitin' Welcomes Jeremy Clark and Blake Bars

Wednesday Recruitin' Welcomes Jeremy Clark and Blake Bars

Submitted by Tim on June 29th, 2011 at 3:45 PM

Jeremy Clark and Blake Bars Go Blue

A twin-bill of commitments started on Friday, as KY S Jeremy Clark committed to a greyshirt offer. The Hello: Jeremy Clark post may have been a shade on the pessimistic side (at the time, Rivals's database was apparently broken, so I wasn't aware he had Illinois and Cincinnati offers, which makes him significantly more attractive as an offer candidate), and that definitely changes my guess that other, more-immediate, offers might change his decision to accept a greyshirt. Still, other reports aren't exactly glowing. Magnus on Touch the Banner:

There's a very good chance that his body has matured throughout the offseason, and if he's done some work on his own in the film room, he might have improved some of his weaknesses, too. But from what I see here, he's slow to read plays, slow to react at times, takes questionable pursuit angles, doesn't have the greatest of playmaking abilities, doesn't hit hard with consistency (although there are a couple nice blows), and doesn't wrap up when he tackles.

College coaches have had a chance to see him in camp since then, so it's likely he's improved a lot if they were willing to offer. As a greyshirt, Clark is currently considered a 2013 commit, but could move into the class of 2012 pending the decision of OH S Jarrod Wilson.

TN OL Blake Bars became the second commit of the weekend, picking the Wolverines on Sunday night (Free Press commitment article, CBS Sports commitment article). GBMW on Blake's game:

He is an outstanding run blocker, one who can physically dominate his opponent. He shows the quick feet and flexibility to be solid in pass protection. Notice on the film his short, choppy, but controlled steps that sometimes (sometimes not) have a low base and good balance.

The Wolverine Blog:

He’s great at finishing blocks, working relentlessly to pile the poor sap lined up across from him into the ground, at least until the whistle blows. He has some of the niftiest footwork I’ve seen in a lineman Michigan’s recruited this year, outside of maybe Kyle Kalis. His feet are always in motion and allow him to move laterally, a great asset for any lineman at the next level.

For more on Bars, check out the Hello: Blake Bars post. I also managed to miss that Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on for the 2012 class in IL WR Bo Dever ($, info in header). If I can find enough info on him in the coming days, he may get the Hello post treatment.

Other Commits

Local fluff on MI OL commit Ben Braden and several of his high school teammates/coaches attenting Michigan's camp. Allen Trieu pegged him as a riser in the state of Michigan:

He dedicated himself in the weight room this offseason, adding good weight and getting up to 319-lbs. Even at that size, he was moving well enough to be considered a left tackle prospect. He's strong, technique is improving and he's more athletic than previously thought.

It's a good sign that Brady Hoke's staff has an eye for identifying talent earlier than most.

CA OL Erik Magnuson talked to the local news about why he picked Michigan:

OH DE Pharaoh Brown participated in a 7-on- of his own, where he impressed. Most interesting was a comment from Ohio Varsity:

Pharaoh Brown is listed as a defensive end but #Michigan ought to consider him as a wide receiver...he is very smooth.

There's video, so check it out for yourself. He certainly has good hands (and an ability to get up for the ball), but his athleticism - exceptional for a defensive end - may not be quite what you'd expect out of a bigtime wide receiver. There's also the small fact that he hasn't played wideout in high school yet, playing mostly QB last year.

Bob Lichtenfels gave 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris some love at the IMG 87-on-7 in Florida:

Share [sic] Morris is a winner, love the kids moxie at IMG Madden 7on7. Michigan is getting a good one...

Morris and 2012 MI RB Dennis Norfleet were named co-MVPs and their team won the Championship. MGoUser JakeinVeniceFL worked the event as an official, and was also impressed. Scout called Morris "nearly unstoppable" over the final two days of the tournament.

Michigan is CBS/Maxpreps's #2 recruiting class at this point (they were #1 last night, but a kicker pickup boosted Texas ahead), and 24/7 Sports's #2 linebacker recruiting class (not including Ojemudia, considered a defensive end) behind Alabama. The linebackers also get some love from ESPN.

Coming Soon?

OH S Jarrod Wilson has set his decision date: Next Friday at 2:30 PM. Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State are his final three schools, and many analysts think the Wolverines are the favorite to land him.

OH OL Kyle Kalis thinks OH DE Chris Wormley is going to commit to Michigan, and the two were on campus together last weekend. Wormley has been talking about moving toward a decision for a long time, so a visit to campus could have helped push things forward.

Tom said not to expect a commitment from Kalis last weekend, so the lack of a pledge from the big man came as no surprise. He wants to visit Alabama and Miami (YTM) before making a decision. However, his decision could move up after a visit or two.

A source tells Bucknuts's Dave Biddle that Kalis and OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn will not end up at Ohio State:

These guys aren't just decommitting, they have written off going to OSU... Word going around at both St. Eds and GlenOak are that the Buckeyes have "no chance" at landing either of them.

He goes on to say that Dunn's decommitment is a long time coming, but Kalis not ending up in Columbus after his long, (excited, commit-y) commitment is a big change. As a counterpoint, Bill Greene now thinks Bri'onte Dunn will stick with Ohio State unless (until) the Buckeyes get hammered by the NCAA.

Etc.

Local fluff of epic proportions on IN QB Gunner Kiel. A lot of it is of the "hey, person who doesn't follow recruiting, the recruiting industry sucks" variety (with plenty of one sentence paragraphs), but there are some useful pieces of information included:

"(The decision) will probably be some time this month. I don't know a date. Whenever I feel it in my gut, I'm probably going to make that decision. I'll let my teammates, family and friends know. By then, I'm sure it will get out."

There are mentions of Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Indiana, but no Michigan. It seems like the Wolverines' ship has probably sailed for Kiel, though Tom Lemming is far higher on the Wolverines' chances, putting them in a top 3 with Alabama and Oklahoma.

MaxPreps picks up on the "Greg Garmon beat cancer" story (a couple months late, it would seem). The PA RB has narrowed his list to Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Iowa, and Pitt, according to the article. He recently picked up an Ohio State offer, so we'll see if that affects his recruitment.

OH RB/FB Alden Hill received a Michigan offer. He talked to Tom about which position the coaches want him to play:

They want me as an all purpose back, a full back and running back. Someone they don't have to change personnel if they switch plays out of the two back system. I'm definitely good with that role, it's good for competition.

That sounds to me like their first thought is FB, but he can also play tailback. Landing a combo back like Hill would give the coaching staff much more flexibility about taking another ball-carrier in the class, but it sounds like Michigan isn't in great position with Hill.

WA OL Zach Banner has set up his official Michigan visit for the Notre Dame game.

IL OL Jordan Diamond will play in a new All-Star game, the US Marine Bowl.

AZ OL Andrus Peat will probably include Notre Dame and Nebraska in his final five, meaning Michigan is fighting it out with a few other schools for one of the remaining three spots.

WA OL Josh Garnett is down to 11 schools, including Michigan. The Wolverines join Notre Dame, OKlahoma, Auburn, and Nebraska as the non-Pac-12 schools on his list.

Michigan is in the top six for MI DT Danny O'Brien ($, info in header). It'll be interesting to see how Michigan's DL recruiting plays out over the rest of the summer, with only a couple spots left.

PA DE Noah Spence will play in the Under Armour All-American Game. He'll take his time with a decision, but PSU seems to be atop his list.

Free Rivals article on OH S Bam Bradley, who doesn't mention Michigan. With the Wolverines' current DB and LB hauls, it's tough to see Bam ending up in this class.

Happy Trails

A lot of recruits with Michigan interest and/or offers that hadn't been mentioned much from a Michigan perspective lately made commitments to other schools:

In other Happy Trails news, MN OL Jonah Pirsig is deciding soon, and Michigan doesn't seem to be in the mix. With Michigan's recruiting class filling up fast, we should see a lot of recruits cutting the Wolverines from their lists in the near future.

2013

CO OL Chris Fox received an offer from Michigan. His highlight film.

Tom spoke with the father of MI OL Steven Elmer Jr. about his son's recruiting:

We have to have a great school first and foremost. He has a 4.3 GPA so we have to find him a good school, could be Ivy league, could be a place like Michigan. When he decides what he wants to study he'll look into that.

That certainly helps Michigan's case against presumed childhood favorite Michigan State (but not so much over Notre Dame, which has now offered him).

PA TE Adam Breneman, who holds a Michigan offer, is Notre Dame's #1 priority at the position in the 2013 class ($, info in header).

MI RB/DE Wyatt Shallman is "surrounded by Maize & Blue" ($, info in header).

Michigan leads for OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas, the subject of Sam Webb's latest Detroit News column. His coach on how he plays:

"I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. (During the spring) he ran a 4.57 electronic 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, so that tells you about his speed. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."

He also drops some hints that his cousin Bri'Onte Dunn (mentioned above) might be interested in Michigan if the Buckeyes are hit with a bowl ban.

OH LB Ben Gedeon is high on Michigan ($, info in header).

Hello: Blake Bars

Hello: Blake Bars

Submitted by Tim on June 26th, 2011 at 11:22 PM

Michigan added to its already-impressive offensive line haul for 2012 today, picking up TN OL Blake Bars.

BlakeBars-mug.jpg

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
3*, #38 OT 4*, 5.8, #34 OT 3*, 79, #56 OT 3*, 86, NR OT

As you can see, the sites are basically in agreement about Blake: he's outside the top couple tiers nationally among offensive line recruits, but it still a solid player. Oddly, Rivals - usually the stingiest site as far as giving out stars - is the only one to give him the fourth star. He started in Scout's top 300, but has since moved out of it.

The sites are unanimous on Blake's height: he's 6-5. There is a bit of disagreement over how much he weighs, with ESPN saying he's all the way down at 260, 24/7 Sports just 5 pounds heavier, and the other two sites going up to 275.

As we so often do, let's kick off the evaluations with ESPN's profile comments:

Bars demonstrates good tough run blocking skills, showing the ability to dominate at his present level of competition. Has the height and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the BCS level of play; will need to add bulk to his frame over time... Although we see the need for refinement in all areas of pass protection this guy possesses the long arms and nimble feet which should be assets; flashes the ability to handle edge quickness. We like the nasty finishing attitude this athlete plays with; it's what we look for when evaluating offensive linemen.

They seem to be pretty intent on labeling him a tackle, though I had previously assumed (based on the other players Michigan is recruiting, along with his height) that he would probably move inside for college. Long arms tend to negate a lack of ideal height, in certain instances.

He's probably a little behind the curve in terms of technique as well, since he wasn't even a high school starter until last fall. However, his father is a former Notre Dame linebacker, and his older brother Brad plays for Penn State, so he does come from a football family. He talked a little bit about technique with the local paper:

“(Coach Mawae) has been helping us with our footwork,” Bars said. “He’ll come into the weight room and show us technique and introduce new drills to us that I know are going to make us a lot better. It’s such a great opportunity. Kevin is the man, pretty much.”

That's not exactly revealing about Blake's current skill set, but it does speak to a desire for improvement. His strength also seems to draw praise here and there, so when he adds another 30+ pounds of muscle onto his frame, he could be a very powerful player to go along with that nasty attitude.

There's precious little info out there on Blake, but it seems that the evaluations that do exist are more optimistic on his abilities than the 3-star ratings would seem to indicate. As we'll see in a moment, his offer list tells the same story.

OFFERS

Bars's offer list is quite a bit more impressive than you'd expect from a guy who's a generic 3-star to most of the recruiting sites. Clemson, Florida, LSU, Penn State, and South Carolina all have recent success either on the field or in recruiting (or both), and had shot this kid an offer.

In less-impressive offers, Arkansas State joins Boston College, Kentucky, Louisville, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Purdue, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and Wake Forest. There are a couple pretty good programs in there, so his whole resume is nothing to sneeze at. He had interest but no offer from his father's alma mater, Notre Dame.

STATS

Blake is an offensive lineman, and therefore doesn't have stats. Montgomery Bell Academy went 9-3 last season, his first as a starter.

FAKE 40 TIME

None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for Blake, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.

VIDEO

Junior highlights:

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Blake is a prospect that seems to have plenty of upside, but at this time, he's far from a finished product. Seeing as how he's just finished his junior year of high school, that's no surprise. Still, it takes a redshirt year as a true freshman from "extremely likely" to "certain."

Following that redshirt year, he may still have a bit of growing to do. Adding 30-40 pounds or more is a tough thing to do while maintaining flexibility and agility. As a redshirt sophomore then, will be the first time he has the potential to really contribute. Fortunately for him, that season also sees the departure of a few linemen ahead of him.

As an upperclassman, he should get into the starting lineup, and his versatility (he doesn't seem like a left tackle, but almost any other OL position seems possible) will help him see the field.

He looks like the type of guy who will become a solid starter, but maybe not an All-Big Ten caliber guy, unless his physical development is truly impressive. His upside seems to be high, so if he can reach his ceiling, it could mean very good things for his future.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

The commitment of Bars could mean a couple things: 1) he's higher in the coaching staff's eyes than we previously believed, 2) the staff doesn't feel good about their chances with some other top prospects, 3) the door is closed for other medium-range prospects, or 4) there are plans to tae more offensive lineman than we realized. The truth is probably some combination of those factors. No matter what the reasoning is, I'm guessing the coaching staff is done pursuing offensive linemen aside from Kyle Kalis, Jordan Diamond, and other elite-level linemen (i.e. Andrus Peat).

That means that, other than those guys, we shouldn't expect any offensive line commits any time soon, unless the staff uncovers a sleeper that they really like. Look for them to focus on defensive tackle and wideout, and once they fill those needs, they'll be able to focus on top prospects, regardless of position. Quarterback and running back are other, lesser needs for the class.