Hello: Daxton Hill

Hello: Daxton Hill Comment Count

Brian September 19th, 2018 at 12:17 PM

[Isaiah Hole]

Daxton Hill's commitment yesterday marks the official end of the Moribund Recruiting Period that started about a year ago. While Michigan had been digging out since February by putting together a top 15 class, a lot of that was based on smart scouting and getting in on early on guys who would end up rising up the ranks.

Hill is another beast entirely: the consensus top safety in the country and top target for everyone including Alabama. Hill is a capital-G Get and a payoff for Michigan getting a couple of young up-and-comers on the staff. Sherrone Moore is Hill's primary recruiter.

Let's see what Michigan's won.


Rivals ESPN 24/7 Composite
5*, #24 overall
#1 S, #1 OK
4*, #14 overall
#1 S, #1 OK
5*, #8 overall
#1 S, #1 OK
5*, #12 overall
#1 S, #1 OK

As noted, Hill is the consensus top safety prospect in the country. The only wobbles are ESPN's exceedingly stingy five-star distribution (just 11) and Rivals being slightly less enthralled than the other two services.


Usually when you're talking about a safety in such rarified air it's because he is an absurd athlete. Check:

Per ESPN his 40, vert, and overall SPARQ score are the best for anyone they rank as an ATH and his overall score is second in the nation behind only GA LB Owen Pappoe.

That comes through on his film, which shows him playing as a deep safety, outside corner, and nickelback. It is generally violent and features a number of impossible-seeming run-downs. More immediately relevant for Michigan fans is a number of episodes of slot coverage on which Hill looks extremely comfortable.

I'd recommend you actually watch that tape because Hill's athleticism is obvious to anyone. It is the primary thing anyone brings up in scouting reports. 24/7 after the Opening:

"...safety size but is one of the fastest players in the country ... with his ability to run and cover, he looks like a college player right now. He has a freakish combination of size and athleticism" Also: "looked like more than just an athlete though, he showed a ton of range in coverage and was smooth in his backpedal."

Steve Wiltfong:

Between the off-the-charts athleticism, high IQ and playmaking ability between the chalk, the 6-foot 1/2, 187-pound Hill is exactly how you draw it up as the last line of defense in the secondary. When he’s around the ball, you can bet the Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington standout is going to make a play on it.


...he's clearly moving at a different speed than his peers. He excels in coverage, breaking quickly when the ball is in his region and turns into a receiver when he can make a play. The change of direction quickness is off the charts.

Rivals, for its part, praises him for being a "complete prospect" because he "has elite speed, covers like a cornerback, and hits like a safety" and says he "combines excellent speed with tremendous ball skills and tackling ability." ESPN has a brief underclass evaluation:

Explosive athlete ... pursues fast without much wasted motion and is very active around the ball in both run and pass support. Shows good pop on contact as a tackler...very gifted.

Texas's 24/7 site did a film rundown of their main safety targets that gets into a bit more detail about Hill's multi-purpose abilities:

...tremendous build with good bulk and room to add weight ... elite burst and speed. He shows the ability to play deep at safety and cover receivers in the slot. Hill shows good movement ability with strong explosion in and out of his breaks. Hill plays with good coverage technique and smooth transitional ability. He comes downhill and hits like a sledgehammer and shows strong change of direction skills. ... has the overall package to play deep, in the nickel or in the box at the next level.

...can play with an over-aggressive tempo which can cause him to overrun plays at times. He should also work on being more consistent with his tackling technique ...inconsistent hands.

They also provided the lone note of caution after something called "PRIME 21":

Hill definitely had his moments as he displayed phenomenal closing speed and a great football IQ. But he was a little inconsistent in 1-on-1's, which is probably due to the fact that he's a pure safety.

I talked to Sam Webb about him a bit after the WTKA show one week; the main takeaway was that the Bama program believed he was the best safety Saban had pursued in his time there. Webb cautioned that one seemingly major advantage for Michigan, the possibility of early playing time, wasn't actually much of a factor because Hill was Just That Good. "Rats," I thought at the time. Now: giggity.

The comparables mentioned by sites and coaching staffs are what you'd expect for this level of prospect. Hill told the 24/7 site that their staff was comparing him to multi-purpose DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, another 6-foot-ish safety capable of playing CB if necessary. Fitzpatrick was the 11th pick of the most recent draft. Rivals's Mike Farrell brought up FSU safety Jalen Ramsey:

"He’s a freak athlete. ...could play corner at the next level with his ability or be that Jalen Ramsey type who starts at safety and moves to corner and works at nickel. ... He has so much speed and so much talent, a super-explosive kid. He has make-up speed, closes on the football really well, plays against the run and runs things down as well."

The obvious Michigan comparable is Jabrill Peppers, but Brandon Brown notes that they're different players:

Peppers was listed at 6-1 and was the No. 1 cornerback in the country but it became clear during his Michigan career that he was much shorter than that and far better suited to play near the line of scrimmage. Hill is definitely more of a safety because of his length and ranginess and is actually north of 6-feet. Even when you watch them on tape you can see that Peppers is more suited for contact and run support, where Hill is much more of a lengthy ballhawk in the deep secondary.

Hill is a true safety with a height that is slightly over 6-foot, and not a 5'10" explosion machine on the edge.

[After THE JUMP: highlights you should actually watch]


Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Quarterbacks

Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Quarterbacks Comment Count

Ace June 16th, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Note: With roundups of last weekend's Sound Mind Sound Body camp still being published, as well as various visit reactions from prospects currently on campus for Michigan's technique camp, I'm pushing back the recruiting roundup to tomorrow. Breathing into a paper bag in preparation for USA-Ghana may also have played a role here. Thankfully, I started writing this post last week.

Melanie Maxwell/MLive

Previously: 2008 Offense, 2008 Defense, 2009 Defense

I started writing up the 2009 offensive recruits as a whole, but I couldn't get past the first paragraph of Tate Forcier's profile before realizing the two quarterbacks in the class needed their own post. Hell, I couldn't get past the first sentence [emphasis mine]:

Tate Forcier is the one who didn't get away, the one who was planning on committing even when Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver hadn't twirled their mustaches in dastardly fashion and tied Michigan football's hopes to the train tracks before effecting their getaways. His brother is my favorite Michigan player of all time who never played. He is a relentlessly trained quarterback prodigy ready to step in on day one—which was a month ago—and challenge Steven Threet for the starting job. God help us if he flames out.

When this post was written, Forcier had already enrolled at Michigan and subsequently dominated the Spring Game—back when it actually resembled real football—in a fashion that caused junior-in-college me to make this video, and I'll admit it was no small thrill to see my name on this here site:

Then, of course, came spring:

I just watched that thing again and it's pure sport porn; I sort of wish Ace had left in Forcier's three incompletions—one bad read, one Stonum drop, and one overthrown screen—so it wasn't a just a possibly-misleading highlight reel but was instead the whole spring performance. My favorite part is that little swing pass to Moundros on the rollout: Forcier's getting pressure from a defender, calmly positions himself, and puts a perfectly-led ball right in Moundros' arms, allowing him to turn upfield against the chasing linebacker. That is the sort of precision Michigan's offense was lacking last year.

After a season of the Threetsheridammit offense, the fawning over Forcier's readily apparent potential was more than understandable. His accuracy and YPA for a high school quarterback were off the charts, as evidenced by... a (chart?) chart:

Year Comp-Att Yards Pct YPA YPC TD-INT
So 157 / 221 1637 71.0% 7.4 10.4 17-4
Jr 164 / 213 2387 77.0% 11.2 14.6 21-5
Sr 208 / 326 3424 63.8% 10.5 16.5 23-15

The disconcerting rise in interceptions and drop in completion percentage as a senior was chalked up to a heavily increased workload and a sieve-like offensive line, the latter quite apparent to those who watched him play that season. This brought forth a foreboding aspect to Brian's eerily on-the-money comparison to former Iowa QB Drew Tate:

Forcier was often reduced to scrambling around and chucking it hopefully, which obviously led to the interceptions. Here's another piece of the Drew Tate comparison I've been beating into the ground for months now: Tate (Iowa Version) also saw a senior-year spike in interceptions as Iowa's offensive line regressed (they gave up an extra half-sack per game when Tate was a senior) and Tate took matters into his own hands more often. This tendency can be either wildly good or wildly bad, and threatens to do so on consecutive plays this fall. Only experience will teach Forcier what he can and cannot do at this level.

As it turned out, we'd never learn if added experience would've reduced the considerable "no no no YES"/"no no no AAAAAARRRGGHHHHH" aspect of Forcier's game. As we all well know, he left school after being ruled academically ineligible for the 2010 Gator Bowl, by which time he'd lost his starting gig to Denard Robinson. A certain aspect of Forcier's schooling, at the time noted as a positive—his home-school setup enabled him to work with QB guru Marv Marinovich for hours upon hours—was probably not so positive:

On Fridays in the fall, Tate Forcier doesn't feel like going to school. The night's game is on his mind, and the quarterback for Scripps Ranch High in San Diego can't imagine studying a textbook rather than studying a defense.

No big deal.

"I'll tell my teacher, 'I have a game today,'" Forcier said. "He'll say, 'That's fine; you don't have to come.' And I'll go to my football school and watch film all day."

Ability to shred a cover zero or no, this doesn't really fly at U-M.

I swear I'll get to Denard soon, but first a couple more blockquotes. Marinovich's scouting report of his pupil was so oddly poetic Brian turned it into actual poetry:

"Tate springs off his feet. He bounds from side-to-side to avoid the rush and then accelerates. His peripheral vision is key allowing him stay focused and scan downfield. But really, his mental attitude toward the position along with quick feet and hand-eye coordination blended together is ridiculous."

A haiku version of this:

Tate springs off his feet 
He bounds from side to side, and 
Then accelerates

Finally, Brian makes a most unfortunate typo:

Why Drew Tate? That's my go-to comparison and I'm sticking to it. Forcier is about 6', maybe 6'1". He's nimble and though he took off frequently in high school, in college he won't have as much of an athletic advantage and will mostly use his feet to buy time to throw downfield. He has the proverbial moxie, which occasionally gets him into trouble. The Tate comparison is eerily accurate, except maybe Forcier is better school and will be more accurate than the occasionally-erratic Tate.




Oddly, Denard's otherworldly running abilty wasn't nearly as prominent in those clips as you'd expect. There isn't so much as a hint of a run until nearly the two-minute mark. In fact, there are only a couple plays in the whole reel that really show off what he was capable of doing, probably because his offensive coordinator ripped the "OBVIOUS ROLLOUTS" page from the Al Borges playbook and left the rest. Denard's highlights are way better in theory than they are in reality.

I'm not sure there's better evidence of how much football offense has evolved even in the last half-decade than Denard Effin' Robinson running every play on his high school highlight tape from under center. In 2008, this may have gone unquestioned. In 2014, there'd be a federal investigation.

Denard's passing stats fell well short of Forcier's, as would be expected. Less expected were the rushing stats:

Oddly, Robinson's rushing yards weren't spectacular. He had only 538, which was fewer than Forcier had, though Forcier wasn't going up against big schools in Florida at Scripps Ranch. Does this indicate a Drew Tate Forcier-like tendency to run around in the backfield and then launch it deep? A couple of throws above and that yards per completion number indicate "yes", but he also breaks contain several times and takes off and those are just highlights so maybe he got sacked a lot for ridiculous yardage after running around like a headless chicken and I guess what I'm trying to say is we just don't know, dude.

We just have to go on the universal heavy panting about this guy's ability to outrun a cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Which, like, okay.

I'd say the first bit is explained by the highlight tape. About that last bit: Both the "cheetah in a Porsche..." and "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium" tags were fixtures on this site before Robinson ever got to campus. Even before he proved Mike Patrick's "broken plays are very dangerous" mantra in real time, this was totally justified.

Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.

Robinson's personal-best … is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.

Denard's reaction was even better:

''I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,'' Robinson said.

It comes as little surprise that a bolt of lightning recruited to play quarterback for Rich Rodriguez received comparisons to Pat White from everyone, Brian included. The excitement to see this athlete in that offense managed to rival the avalanche of Forcier hype even though Robinson didn't get the benefit of an early enrollment. Surely the blogger who set Sam McGuffie's general excitement level at "AAAAIIEEEE!" saw the nearly unlimited potential that would soon be realized in arguably the greatest QB rushing season ever:

General Excitement Level: Slightly under high.

We're no longer on speaking terms, boss.


Preview 2011: Five Questions On Offense

Preview 2011: Five Questions On Offense Comment Count

Brian September 2nd, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Previously: The story, the secondary, the linebackers, the defensive line, the offensive line, the receivers, the running backs, the quarterbacks, special teams, defensive questions.

Is Al Borges going to play to his strengths or Denard's?

Borges has been talking about lots of wide receivers and lots of shotgun since people started him asking the obvious question of the offseason. This has not kept people from asking him "yeah, but how much?" The only thing Borges could have done to get people to cease and desist is present a signed contract guaranteeing a certain number of shotgun snaps and QB Draw Oh Noes.

He didn't quite do that in his interview with the BTN crew when they hit up Ann Arbor, but he came closer than he ever had before:

Point blank: Denard "is the priority." (Readers wishing to contrast with Rich Rodriguez are asked to focus on his obsession with a poorly-run 3-3-5, not his inability to squeeze maximum production out of the ragtag 2008 offense.)

The spring game disputes this version of reality:

They kept running the waggle and Denard could not get anything out of it. There was a guy in his face the whole time; the resulting throws were frequently incomplete due to inaccuracy. In the video above when Hoke references a couple of "drops" the best examples the BTN can dig up are Drew Dileo almost making a spectacular one-handed stab and Darryl Stonum almost making a spectacular sideline lay-out.

Maybe in a tackle football game he can escape that contain guy on the regular, but that seems like a high variance strategy with limited upside. Option 1: beats corner guy, is on corner, has shot at running some probably not immense distance or hitting a crossing route of some variety. Option 2: second and 20. There's a reason the waggle is strictly an occasional changeup—whenever you've got the ball and are spending time with your back to the defense there's a chance something awful is going to happen, like John Navarre getting blown up in that one MSU game.

But after the game Borges said Denard would run more "in the real world" and that's a long time ago now and every indication we've had since is that the offense isn't going to be a whole lot different than it was last year.

so happyI have been arguing for this to the point where I feel bad for annoying people about it. This makes me so happy. It makes me drool baby drool. Look at that.  I am so happy.

ONE: it suggests that Al Borges is awesome. His career has hinted from this as it rambled from scrambling Forcier-a-like Cade McNown to brutal play-action annihilation with Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, and Jason Campbell to a flexible multi-formation West Coast attack featuring Ryan Lindley in any formation you care to name. Now he's got the squarest peg he's ever run across and he's busily shaving his offense to match.

TWO: This is the way to go, especially now. In the NFL, shotgun formations are more efficient:

Shotgun formations are generally more efficient than formations with the quarterback under center.

Over the past three seasons, offenses have averaged 5.9 yards per play from Shotgun, but just 5.1 yards per play with the quarterback under center. This wide split exists even if you analyze the data to try to weed out biases like teams using Shotgun more often on third-and-long, or against prevent defenses in the fourth quarter. Shotgun offense is more efficient if you only look at the first half, on every down, and even if you only look at running back carries rather than passes and scrambles.

In college, running quarterbacks have a real advantage that the Mathlete stumbled across while trying to figure something else out:


In Denard's specific case the threat of a run from him is the reason he could surge to 20th in passer efficiency (Chad Henne 2006: 26th) one year after being totally incompetent.

Al Borges is going to do his damndest to keep Denard productive, upright, and beaming.

How much will Borges's lack of familiarity with cheetahs in Porsches strapped to jet engines and dropped out of an airplane hurt the offense?

It is going to hurt somewhat. Pretty much the only thing Rodriguez was consistently awesome at was introducing wrinkles in the run game that consistently produced. Remember that dreamlike first half against Penn State in 2008 when Brandon Minor emerged from nowhere and raged his way down PSU's throat? Rodriguez was fantastic at that stuff.

It petered out in his first two years because he had nothing to go to—no constraints—when the defense started cheating on him. With Robinson the wrinkles not only to the run game but to the defense-crippling QB Draw Oh Noes resulted in either points or plays where the points were there for the taking if only the players could have executed. Maybe the fundamentals were lacking. I tend to think of these things as youth and bloody fate. Either way you could see the outline of something great and tentacled in Michigan's fumbling missteps and blown opportunities. Rodriguez's offense was gorgeous in how it gave defenses awful choices.

Al Borges can do that. In his first year at Auburn, Jason Campbell averaged 10 YPA. Ten! That is a great many yards per attempt.

I'm not sure he can do that with Denard. He'll give Denard a more sophisticated offense that he won't execute as well as Borges needs him to; he'll use Denard's legs but not quite as effectively as Rodriguez would have. These guys are good because they've spent a lot of time specializing in ways that make them successful. There is a necessary lack of efficiency once they get outside their comfort zones.

Is anyone going to help Denard out?

michael-shaw-minnesotaFitzgerald Toussaint 2Michigan running back Vincent Smith (2) plays against Wisconsin in Madison, WI on Saturday, November 14, 2009. (Zachary Meisner/Daily)

I think so. Injuries laid up Shaw and Toussaint last year; both are apparently healthy. It's also possible that Vincent Smith will be closer to his late freshman form now that he's almost two years removed from his ACL tear. Add in a sophomore Hopkins and a couple freshmen and there are a lot more bullets in the chamber than there were last year, when Michigan was down to Smith and a fumble-prone Hopkins most of the season.

Without a similar plague of injuries, whoever emerges from those six guys is going to be better than the one who emerged from two. That's still going to hold true even when the grim reaper scythes one of Shaw or Toussaint down in the Big Ten opener. (Don't even think this isn't happening.) Getting production out of the tailback is key. If they can do that they can approximate last year's offense without putting undue pressure on Denard's bones.

In the passing game the #1 candidate to turn incompletions and short gains into longer ones is Junior Hemingway. He averaged 18.5 yards a catch last year and showed signs of being a guy you can just chuck it to because he'll come down with it. A fully healthy, senior Hemingway is a potential breakout performer.

Is the offensive line cut out for this?

Las year's offensive line was a B+. They didn't get an A because of a zillion Taylor Lewan penalties and mediocre play at right tackle. The interior line was very good. This year everyone is back save Steve Schilling and Perry Dorrestein. Dorrestein was a replacement level starter and Schilling has a touted, capable backup entering his redshirt junior year. Four starters return.

If this is not a great offensive line it will be because of a mismatch between what they were recruited to do and what they've been asked to do. Of late there has been a surge in OL skepticism from the premium practice reports on the message boards; I interpret this as a bunch of power being run not very effectively by a crew that should be running primarily zone.

If "this" is old-school MANBALL running, the answer is no. If it's a hybrid between last year and MANBALL, they'll get by. If they're making people cheat on the zone they will kill.



Michigan will backslide. But let's set the point from which they will backslide: I believe the advanced metrics. Michigan's field position was terrible, field goals were terrible, turnovers were terrible, and so forth and so on. We would have gotten a better picture of this offense if the field position they  gained was honored either by the special teams or the defense. What happened last year was a lot of excellent play marred by turnovers from a true sophomore first-year starter with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

If Michigan did not have the #2 offense in the country last year, they weren't far off. What we had going last year was both explosive on the ground (5.6 YPC exceeded Carr's best effort this decade by almost a yard and a half) and in the air:

Last season, his first as a full-time starter in former coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, Robinson had 16 runs that covered at least 20 yards and seven that exceeded 30 yards. He had at least one 20-yard gain in nine of the Wolverines' 13 games last season. He scored touchdowns on runs of 87, 72, 47, 32 and 32 yards. He also had 12 pass completions of more than 40 yards. That's more than Stanford's Andrew Luck.

Criticisms about Michigan's inability to score points against elite defenses mostly boil down to inopportune turnovers and bad defense. In games against Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State, Michigan averaged nearly 440 yards. Because of the defense, special teams, and Denard's high turnover rate they didn't turn those yards into enough points—and they still scored 28 or more in three of those games. The bowl game was the only real clunker.

It was for real and it returns everyone save Steve Schilling, Martell Webb, and Darryl Stonum. Those three guys have upperclass replacements that should do just fine. The main issues with maintaining last year's level of productivity are:

  1. Regression to the mean.
  2. Keeping Denard upright.
  3. Not suffering more than two injuries on the OL or at TE.
  4. Having horrible enough field position to lead the country in long TD drives again.
  5. Not screwing it up.

#2 is the biggest problem. The most efficient version of the offense is also the one most likely to get Denard knocked up out. They'll move away from that when they can, which will mean a hit. This is some version of #4: not screwing it up. I don't think they will. We will get some symbolic MANBALL—the first play against WMU is probably going to be power out of the I-form that goes for three yards—to please the Great Tradition and then Borges will get down to the business of being a coordinator instead of Mike DeBord.

Let's hit shift and comma!


  • junior Denard > sophomore Denard
  • Toussaint/Shaw/Smith/Hopkins > younger, more injured versions of same
  • junior Patrick Omameh > sophomore Omameh
  • sophomore Taylor Lewan >> Huyge/Lewan/Penaltyfest
  • Huyge/Schofield > Huyge/Dorrestein


  • David Molk == David Molk
  • Junior Hemingway == Junior Hemingway
  • Roundtree/Grady == Roundtree/Grady


  • Ricky Barnum < Steve Schilling
  • Kevin Koger/Brandon Moore < Koger/Webb
  • Martavious Odoms < Darryl Stonum
    This is still going to be a very good offense, and this year they should have points to show for it.

Last Year's Stupid Predictions

Michigan 2010 finishes atop the rush YPC chart above without considering the UMass game and by a considerable margin.


Gardner ends up burning his redshirt in very, very frustrating fashion, because…

Check-ish. Michigan is trying to un-burn that redshirt.

Denard is pretty much your starting quarterback all year, but…


…Forcier plays in every game, bailing Michigan out in one critical fourth quarter.

Not quite every game but lots of them. Forcier did bail Michigan out against Illinois and came damn near doing so against Iowa.

Vincent Smith gets the most touches amongst the running backs. Second: Shaw. Third: Toussaint. Fourth: Hopkins.

Pretty close. Toussaint's injuries knocked him out.

Robinson is Michigan's leading rusher.

All too easy.

Darryl Stonum does not exactly go Chris Henry on the planet but does greatly increase production via a series of big plays: 30 catches, 650 yards, 6 touchdowns.

Stonum did see his production increase to 633 yards but it took him 49 catches to get there. The Chris Henry lite of the offense was Junior Hemingway, who had 593 yards on 32 catches.

Michigan breaks out the triple option with regularity, using Hopkins as the dive back and Shaw/Smith the pitch guy. They also dig out those WVU formations where the slot motions into the backfield, with Grady the man beneficiary.


This Year's Stupid Predictions

  • Yards per carry drop quite a bit but nose above 5.
  • Shaw claims the starting job to himself in week four, gets injured shortly after, and Toussaint takes over. Both are much better than Smith at making extra yards. At the end of the year they've all got somewhere between 400 and 800 yards.
  • Denard rushes for 1200 yards. His interception rate falls significantly but is still not great.
  • Michigan runs more zone blocking than gap blocking. When they do gap block they are a left-handed team thanks to Taylor Lewan.
  • Koger's production is up a bit but total TE catches only go up slightly: 20 last year, 30 this year.
  • Huyge gives way to Schofield mid-year.
  • Michigan finishes around 15th in FEI and other advance metrics. By yardage they drop to about the same spot; scoring offense increases from 25th to match.


2010 Recruiting: DJ Williamson

2010 Recruiting: DJ Williamson Comment Count

Brian August 6th, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, DE Jordan Paskorz, DE Jibreel Black, DE Kenny Wilkins, DT Terry Talbott, DT Richard Ash, C Christian Pace, WR Drew Dileo, and WR Jerald Robinson.

Warren, OH - 6'1" 180


via Vindy.com 

Scout 2*, #168 WR
Rivals 3*, #53 OH
ESPN 3*, 78, #54 WR
Others NR
Other Suitors "interest" from Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, other mid-level BCS schools
YMRMFSPA Ted Ginn if Michigan rolls a double critical hit
Previously On MGoBlog No commitment post? Sorry. MGoThread on his track exploits.
Notes Harding has sent Prescott Burgess, Mario Manningham, and classmate Davion Rogers to M recently.


If you are looking for information on Warren Harding wide receiver DeAver (or, more commonly, DJ) Williamson, the internet will readily tell you he is fast. Picking one of a dozen articles about this year's Ohio state track meet at random yields the following:

Warren Harding's DeAver Williamson might well have earned the title of fastest man at the meet. The senior repeated as state champion in the D-I 100 (10.64) and also won the 200 (21.46). He also ran legs on two Harding relays, which finished third in the 800 relay and sixth in the 400 relay.

One wonders what a kid has to do at a track meet for the uncertainty about whether he's the fastest guy there to evaporate. Not only did he win the events where being really fast is important, but his 10.64 100 would have been faster had he not gone Usain Bolt at the end of it:

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

Anyway, if you give DJ Williamson some lycra and maybe a baton and tell him to run in a straight line he's excellent at it. The internet shouts this on every Google results page.

When it comes to the other stuff with the helmets and the changing directions and possibly getting blasted by some other guy with a helmet, however, it's remarkably hard to find out anything. For example, Scout's got all of five articles and not even the cursory scouting report they give most players. I'm not saying that DJ Williamson's scholarship offer is part of a plot to graft his legs onto Michigan's other incoming wide receivers—to a man strapping, polished types recruiting sites say move like garbage trucks—but I'm not not saying it either. We have a Life Sciences Institute, after all.

If Williamson's recruitment was not a diabolical plot to create the planet's first GMO wideout, he's going to have to put in some work to see the field. He started off with a fair amount of hype, finding himself #10 on Ohio High's early 2008 top ten list for his class, but as you can see above that was by far the high water mark for his stock. He was the only recruit in this class to get just two stars from Scout; he checks in as a low three star (5.5) on Rivals and fails to make their list of the top 100 wide receivers nationally.

ESPN does like him a lot($), though, so they're obviously right about his potential. Their primary takeaway is not surprising:

Williamson's greatest asset is his top end speed. This kid can really go and stretch the field. He reaches top gear in a hurry and is capable of not only getting over the top of defenders, but also making that first stab after the catch and splitting the seam as a homerun threat. He is a slashing type runner, not a jitterbug. Wastes little time establishing his intentions. He has quality size and the frame to gain significant strength and bulk over time. … Stabs and cuts with precision and has big upside to become a dangerous route runner for the next level because of his speed and ability to create separation.

The only downside is a "lack of natural wiggle"; correspondingly they have him  just outside the top 50 receivers nationally. That's not spectacular but it's a far cry from #168 or We Can't Be Bothered. Meanwhile, someone get Lemming a paper bag:

Here is another WR with All American potential. The brilliant speed and athletic ability has not yet translated to difference maker but that could happen as early as this fall.

He catches the ball away from his body, can turn up field quickly, and can create after the catch. Very fast, his hands have really improved over the past year and he certainly shows the athleticism to excel in the college ranks. His leaping ability and long arms allows him to get his hands on the ball before the defenders do.

That's about it as far as guru descriptions of his game go, and that latter is unreliable given Lemming's excitability. There is a Rivals piece from before his senior year says "speed will never be an issue" with him but that he's "still growing into a natural receiver," FWIW.

However, whenever there's a Warren Harding kid on the radar of D-I colleges Buckeye Planet gets frequent visits from Worm02, an established close observer of the school. I will make a brilliant deductive leap and hazard a guess that he graduated from WGH in 2002. Worm on Williamson's situation:

He hasn't been able to light up the stat sheet because Harding had an athlete at quarterback the last two years. His arm wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. Throw in scrambles, sacks, over/underthrows, etc., you have low production numbers. His film on Scouting Ohio is solid, but what you don't see is that in every game, even in Harding's big losses, Williamson got behind his defender the majority of the time. He's very difficulty to guard. Not as polished as Manningham, but he has a big upside.

[second post] D.J. has an awful lot of potential and yes, he does remind me of Manningham just a bit…  D.J. has the tools to develop into a nice one, but at this stage in Manningham's career (5 years ago), not only did everybody in Ohio know who he was, but he already had the Ohio State's, Michigan's, & Florida's ready to offer him a scholarship.
… I'm not going to judge D.J. by what Mario accomplished, but I think that he (D.J.) can become an elite player sooner than later.

Worm does tend to look at the positives more than the negatives for Harding recruits so take it for what it's worth. One of the reasons Williamson's stock isn't high is that as a senior Harding picked up more of a pocket-passing quarterback and his production did not increase from the 36 catches and 376 yards as a junior.

He also brings up the obvious comparison when we're talking about a six-foot-ish lighting bolt of a receiver making the journey from Harding to Michigan: Mario Manningham. The YRMFSPA above goes for Ted Ginn instead of Manningham because Manningham was a brilliant technician of a receiver while Ginn, who was usually ranked as a corner and started out there at OSU, was and remains considerably rawer. Even so, Manningham is largely responsible for Williamson's instant commitment. Take it from the man himself:

He remembers vividly looking up to Manningham as a youth. “Growing up I wanted to be like him,” Williamson said. “But now since I’m there, I want to be better than him.”

In junior high, Williamson served as waterboy for the Harding football teams that Manningham starred on. “When they used to call timeout I used to always run to Mario first so he could grab my water,” Williamson said. “He was the star of the team. When he went to Michigan, that’s when I started watching college football a lot, and that’s when I really started liking football.”

Williamson's relationship with Manningham made Michigan his dream school, and not in the bastardized way people throw it around these days when they get friendly with a hostess on their official visit:

"I feel real good right now," Williamson said. "It's one thing to get your first offer, but this is a dream come true for me. I always wanted to go to Michigan, and now I'll have my chance."


“It came down to just always being a Michigan fan,” he added. “That’s what I always wanted to do… follow my dreams… follow my heart.”

At Michigan, Williamson will apparently start out as a slot receiver. That's what he told WTKA on Signing Day, anyway. That's a little odd to me since Michigan is well stocked there and Williamson is a 6'1" guy with blazing speed light on "wiggle," but his coach apparently thinks it's a fine idea($):

"He's a slasher. We used him a lot on bubble screens but he runs a 10.8 100-meter dash so he's some that we can use vertically too. He has great hands, is a good route runner and because he's a former tailback, he has outstanding vision and a real explosion once he gets the ball in his hands.

I really feel like he'll be a great matchup at the slot receiver position in Michigan's offense.That's the offense we're going to use this fall and we think he'll exploit linebackers and safeties that can't keep up with his speed."

Right: speed. Fast. Etc. DJ Williamson is fast.

Etc.: When Williamson won the state title as a junior he put up a 10.90. Article on Harding's state championship in track. Another. Manningham called the kid:

Manningham, who currently plays for the New York Giants, plans to take full advantage of his role as Williamson's mentor. He didn't waste any time in doing so.

"I called D.J. shortly after he committed," Manningham said. "It feels good to know that I can have a positive effect on kids from my hometown, so I feel a responsibility to support them when they are doing good things. I'm very happy for D.J. and his family, and I'm going to make sure that I can give him any advice that I think that he needs in regards to Michigan."

Different side of a guy a lot of people didn't like much off the field. And game knows game:

The reigning 100-meter champ in the state of Ohio, D.J. Williamson couldn’t help but be impressed with Denard Robinson’s debut as a Michigan sprinter last week.

“He’s probably the fastest person I ever saw run,” Williamson said. … “He would beat me. I can’t even say he wouldn’t."

Why Ted Ginn? Ginn came in with epic recruiting hype, especially compared to Williamson, so a reminder about the nature of You May Remember Me From Such Players As is in order: this is just what sort of player we might expect if Williamson works out and not an attempt to equate the two.

Disclaimers done with, Ginn was a six-foot-ish track star who won state titles in the 100 and was a great college player mostly because he could run ridiculously fast in a straight line. His best high school mark was a 10.5, a tenth better than Williamson i he also spent the last ten meters doing elaborate shadow puppets. Williamson's 40 is also a tenth slower than Ginn's, but he's got a couple inches to the good.

Guru Reliability: Low. Major spread in the numbers, wide receiver with ugly quarterback situation, early commit who appears to have gone to zero-count-em-zero camps even as an underclassman.
General Excitement Level: Moderate? Has top-end savoriness but comes in with an impressive disconnect between his 40 time and his recruiting rankings that suggest Michigan either knows something others don't—or he couldn't be bothered to reciprocate interest because he wanted M so badly—or that Williamson is a serious project. Williamson will be an interesting referendum on Tony Dews.
Projection: If he's a slot, which I think is a weird spot for him to be, a holy lock to redshirt. Also pretty much a holy lock to redshirt if he ends up outside since there are three other freshmen who have been on campus since January. So: holy lock to redshirt. After that will start working in as an occasional deep threat as a freshman before the logjam clears for his redshirt sophomore season. At that point anything could happen.


2010 Recruiting: Josh Furman

2010 Recruiting: Josh Furman Comment Count

Brian June 17th, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, and LB Davion Rogers.

Note: with Antonio Kinard's qualification status in doubt I'm going to hold off on him until we get an answer either way.

Millersville, MD - 6'2" 195

This one goes out to the ladies    

Scout 4*, #7 S, #1 MD, #96 overall
Rivals 3*, #38 ATH, #10 MD
ESPN 3*, 78, #38 OLB
Others NR
Other Suitors Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland
YMRMFSPA Stevie Brown
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post

Furman on defense as a junior:

And this is from one game, Furman's ridiculous 414 yards against state #1 Arundel in the quarterfinals:

Thanks to youtube user fslade1267, you can check Furman highlights—mostly long runs—from virtually all games during his senior season.

The first thing on the Furman resume is ridiculous speed. Literally: the first Scout article written on him mentions "gaudy athleticism" in the headline. He clocked an electronic 4.36 at a Pittsburgh combine, causing Scout to declare his athleticism "off the charts"($) and ESPN to claim that his "elite testing marks … should help his recruiting stock continue to soar." The Washington Post cited another 4.36 from 2008, when Furman was just entering his junior year. He has the fakest 40 of anyone in this recruiting class by a mile.

More from ESPN on his ridiculous combine showing:

From a pure measurement standpoint, Josh Furman may have had the single best outing out of any prospect on this year's Under Armour combine tour. He posted a wind-aided 4.39 40-yard dash, a 42 inch vertical jump, a 4.12 short shuttle and a modest broad jump of 9 feet, 8 inches. His 16 reps of 185 pounds were also very impressive and a bit surprising given his longer, rangier frame (6-foot-2, 192 pounds). While he did look a bit lean, his great wingspan and overall body length suggest continued physical development. We believe he will eventually have a well-developed frame that will tip the scales in the 225-pound range while he'll maintain the great quick-twitch burst and speed we saw Friday night.

Hello, nurse. Quick-twitch 225 on a rangy frame is upside piled upon upside. Given the context, this quote from his coach seems more justified than most in its rapturous tone:

“The explosion and power this kid has, it’s phenomenal. I’ve seen kids with almost the same amount of speed like 5-10, 5-11. But being 6-2, 6-3, being able to run … I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s definitely a freak. Definitely a freak.”

Elsewhere his coach describes him as "lights out fast," as does the coach he victimized in the state semifinal, about which more later. For its part, Rivals echoed that assessment after he attended their Five Star Showdown, where he played offense:

His speed and burst jump out at you. He's fast and looks effortless when running. He's also very athletic and versatile, able to play many positions at the next level. … His effortless, galloping running style that simply outdistanced everyone who tried to cover him. You can't teach his combination of size and speed and he runs low despite being a bit tall for a tailback -- a good habit.

That athleticism bore itself out on the field, most spectacularly in a state quarterfinal game against #1 Arundel in which he ran for 414—not a typo—yards in a 58-55 double overtime win. The video is embedded above. He was as stunned as anyone about his stats at the end of that game:

“The only time you can run for that many yards is when you are playing the easy level on Madden,” he said referring to the popular video game. “Can you repeat my stats again? Did you say 414 yards and six touchdowns? I can’t even imagine doing that.”

In the aftermath his coach said Old Mill would "just keep feeding the beast" and the next week he ran for 201 yards, punching in the winning score with under a minute left in the state semifinal. He suffered a minor knee injury after just six carries in the state final but his team managed its first-ever state championship in a 17-16 thriller (highlights). By year's end he'd racked up 2,283 yards and 36 touchdowns, narrowly missing a state yardage record because of the knee injury. He was the local paper's blindingly obvious selection as the local athlete of the year.

With that combine pop and production it's a little surprising to see that two of the three services give him just three stars. ESPN rates him lower than Davion Rogers at OLB (though they end up with the same 78 grade). Their scouting($):

Furman is a big, rangy and physical football player with good vertical speed for such a lengthy athlete. Tall and physically intimidating as an outside linebacker. This guy is a real threat rushing from the outside. Has enough quickness to accelerate by an offensive tackle setting back to pass protect. Most running backs do no not want to take him on due to his size and strength. A very disruptive perimeter defender. Shows the speed and closing burst to run a ball carrier or quarterback down from the backside when rushing off the edge. … Furman is a very good football player that has size and quickness. The only area of physical concern may be flexibility in the lower body. A guy with a ton of upside and physical development left.

It's the "upside" bit that sees him rank lower than you might expect. In the same combine evaluation above, ESPN diplomatically says his performance was "a  bit less extraordinary" when it came to football skills and that he was "a bit straight-lined" at times, displaying "some stiffness and inflexibility." Their prescription was for more bulk and improved technique. Touch The Banner has some specifics on those technique issues:

Tends to be undisciplined regarding his gap responsibility . . . Does a poor job of using his hands to disengage from blockers . . . Not a big hitter, more of a grabber . . . Does not bring his feet with him when he tackles

Rivals is basically in the same boat, naming him the #38 athlete—three spots off four stars.

On the other hand, Scout sneaks him in at the tail end of their  top 100, and when Tom interviewed MaxPreps's Stephen Spiewak he cited Furman as possibly the second-best recruit in the class:

TOM: Besides Gardner, is there anyone in this class that you look at and say, Michigan really needed to get him, or they're going to be excited about him?

STEPHEN: I really, really like Josh Furman. I think he'd be able to contribute on offense, but I think he'll be a big boost to the linebacking unit. I have heard about Furman for a few years, and this year he really put it together and was flat out dominant. I know some people think he has NFL potential.

Opinion is decidedly split.

As far as offers go, West Virginia and Maryland were the first entrants. As early as signing day, Furman was being pursued by Clemson, Florida, FSU, Michigan, OSU, Tennessee and Virginia Tech and had a Pitt offer. By March, Virginia Tech had offered; they were followed shortly by Oklahoma and Michigan. The latter two made the unusual move of offering on nothing more than a highlight tape. Other prominent offers came from North Carolina, Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue, and Miami (That Miami). Florida was interested enough to have him visit but never offered($), and frankly that Oklahoma offer is a little dubious given the fact he never visited and Oklahoma fans never really heard of him. It's in the Post, though:

Furman's first major offer from a school outside of the region set off a frenzy. Oklahoma requested Furman's highlight tape. The school received it on a Saturday, and Furman had an offer from the Sooners three days later.

Furman's offers are encouraging but not quite the sort that demand four stars. I'll take any linebacker sort that Virginia Tech is after, though.

Early in Furman's recruiting Michigan was behind his father's alma mater, but after visits to all of his suitors, Michigan was far and away the choice. Prepare for a double-helping of the most common cliché in recruiting from Papa Furman:

"My mind was made up that he was going to Maryland and follow in my footsteps," Tyler Furman said. "When we went to Michigan, I was blown away by the coaching staff and the facilities. I was blown away by everything they had to offer."

Furman delayed his announcement so he could do it at the Maryland Crab Bowl, but as soon as he left Michigan's campus his recruitment was over. His reasons why:

“Going through the recruiting process I came to realize that this is a business and I think out of all 13 scholarships I had, Michigan, the coaching staff and the recruiters were the most honest and realistic with me,” Furman said. “I went up there for the Michigan-Notre Dame game, I just loved the atmosphere. It just had so many positives toward the college. I know they had two bad season, but if you really look at it they’re not a bad team at all, and I think they’re going to be a good team for the next four or five years.”

Here's hoping that's true.

In Ann Arbor, Furman is ticketed for the spur/spinner slot occupied by Stevie Brown last year and tentatively assigned to redshirt freshman Thomas Gordon for 2010. This is, apropos of nothing but a West Virginia offer Furman didn't seem that interested in, the exact position Scout analyst Matt Alkire suggested would be his home:

Having watched his film personally, one position he could fit very well in is the “spur” safety position Rich Rodriguez used in his 3-3-5 at West Virginia. Mike Lorello was an excellent player for the Mountaineers in it and Furman has the range to cover the field and the power to hammer people as well.

ESPN concurs, saying he "projects best in a heavy-pressure defense in which he can attack vertically" similar to his high school defense… which is (surprise!) a 3-3-5:

"We play a 3-5 defense just like West Virginia and Coach Casteel could see me fitting into it. That's where they offered me," said Furman.

Interestingly enough, West Virginia's early interest was for outside linebacker, and Touch the Banner suggests that Furman's natural position is weakside linebacker, comparing him to Shawn Crable.

Why Stevie Brown? I already used Crable, who seems like a pretty good comparison, and Furman has the combination of athleticism and linebacker-tweener size that Brown did. Brown also took to the spur spot like John L. Smith to Michigan's recent repeal of an anti-dueling law. Brown, unfortunately, also had major tackling and coverage issues that were only mitigated by his senior-year move.

Etc.: Scout interview before his official. Early Scout article. Forcing a fumble. A Washington Post video feature that describes his six-sack half(!!!) as a freshman defensive end and features Ecstasy of Gold. Worth watching if only to see him make up 15 yards on some kid on a kickoff return tacle.

Guru Reliability: High despite the difference in opinion. Furman went to combines, suffered no injuries, and embarked on a crushing campaign that resulted in a state championship, and you can't poke an analyst about him without getting the "crazy athletic and raw" refrain. Look at the ranking difference as a reflection of his variability: he could be an All-American, or he could be a frustrating loose cannon who never develops.
General Excitement Level: Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Roll them dice and hope Greg Robinson and Adam Braithwaite are the savants they're reputed to be. I will say that some of the skepticism at ESPN and Rivals appears to be based on questions about his fit in a 4-3 system and I lean towards the positive side since he'll be walking into (but not on to) a defense that plays to his strengths.
Projection: Man… I don't know. With Michigan currently running out a walk-on on the two deep at his position it's hard to imagine him redshirting, but it's also hard to project him contributing much as a true freshman given his offensive focus in high school, need to add weight, and technique deficiencies.

It's a good thing we have an almost direct comparable, down to the dreads: Furman is Denard Robinson on defense. Expect a mostly wince-worthy but occasionally tantalizing freshman year followed by a mountain of hype going into 2011. From there? Ask again later.


Unverified Voracity Dares To Dispute Steele

Unverified Voracity Dares To Dispute Steele Comment Count

Brian June 7th, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Jon Bills update. Fullback/linebacker Mark Moundros, his brother Kirk, and fellow-walk on Jon Bills were in a serious car accident over the weekend, and while the Moundros brothers are "fine" according to their mother, Bills is set to undergo surgery today. According to a source close to the situation, the surgery will be an effort to repair a damaged vertebra. The situation is "very serious" but Bills has escaped worst-case scenarios to date. If you are of the praying inclination, keep Bills in your thoughts.

Alcohol didn't have anything to do with the crash, FWIW.

They've evolved. Surely this is not paint.


User TR Saunders is "still debating whether or not to add a scythe," and also claims the above is actually paint, which is… like… whoah. He uses source pictures; even so I fear him.

Steeleinfo, corrected. Phil Steel lists Michigan 72nd nationally in terms of experience on the two deep via a system in which senior starters are worth 3 points, backups 2.5, junior starters 2, backups 1.5, etc etc etc. That is not as disturbing as you might think. Michigan is tied with Penn State and West Virginia, teams that are going into the year hoping for something a little sexier than the Insight Bowl.

Yay? Nay. The reason Michigan's numbers are not hugely terrifying is that Steele's numbers are wrong. He mentions that two-deep changes since publication are not accounted for but swapping Lewan in for Dorrestein doesn't account for the differences, as he credits Michigan with six senior starters and six backups. That's not accurate:

  • Senior starters: Schilling, Ezeh, Mouton, Woolfolk, Banks (for now)
  • Senior backups: Sagesse, Webb, Dorrestein, Rogers.

He's not counting redshirt juniors as seniors because if that's the case he'd add Hemingway, Molk, Huyge, and RVB in and come out with eight senior-ish starters.

By my count, Michigan's numbers* this year:

  Starters Backups
SR 5 4
JR 8 2
SO 6 11
FR 3 5

In Steele's system this comes out to 50 points. This is good for 118th nationally, better than only New Mexico and BYU. There might be some systemic overestimation going on, but probably not enough to get Michigan back towards the middle of the pack. You may resume rocking back and forth about the safety depth chart.

Somewhat more encouraging: my off the cuff calculations see Michigan rise to 70 points next year, which is 1) probably optimistic since there is always some level of attrition and 2) would be good for 37th this year.

*(Note: I used Shaw and Smith as the two deep at RB, which is the maximum experience you can wrangle out of it. You could pick up another point or two by putting Fitzgerald on the two-deep instead of Demens or Mike Jones and trying to count Adam Patterson somehow, but since guys like Rogers and Floyd Simmons should fall out once the freshmen arrive, this is actually a more experienced two deep than we are likely to see against UConn. Most schools can say that right now, so we won't use projections. The point: this is not finagled.)

Elsewhere in Steeleology, Jamiemac has assembled a JAMPACKED Big Ten overview. Steele's projections are more optimistic than many to date, although that might be because he has significantly underestimated how young they are. This would be a positive step if it came true:

Regarding the Wolverines, he has them tying with the Spartans for fifth place in the league. Generally speaking, he’s optimistic about their chances and Rodriguez doing enough to keep his job. He doesn't have a whole lot of Michigan players on any of his top-4 All Big 10 teams. But however he manages his predictions, it must like the sum of Michigan’s parts. On his Big 10 page, he mentions that three of his nine ratings call for a 6-2 Big 10 season. More revealing is that on page 22 where he lists Michigan among his top-12 likely surprise teams for the year, he writes a stunning admission: “One of my nine sets of power rating has them going 11-0 before the Ohio State game.”  I want those power ratings. I want to roll them up in joints and smoke them all summer long. More realistically might be 4-4 or 5-3 in the league for the Wolverines, but I’m going to dream about those ratings anyway.

Jamie then asks if Michigan fans want Notre Dame to be good. The answer to that is "no." That goes double for this year.

Indecision for the win. AnnArbor.com picks up on a polling website that's answered the question I get asked all the time about the general opinion of the fanbase towards Rodriguez. It's mostly "ask again later":

Of those polled, Rodriguez had a 20 percent favorable rating, 26 percent unfavorable rating with 54 percent undecided.

However, when those same people were asked if they'd like to see Rodriguez replaced as Michigan's coach, 51 percent said they'd like to see him continue. 20 percent wanted him replaced and 29 percent were undecided.

54% saying "eh, don't know yet" seems like an impressively high number given the last two years.

Some of the breakouts in the full report are bizarre and fascinating. Self described liberal voters have a 9% favorability rating for Rodriguez; conservatives are at 13%. Rodriguez pulls the vast majority of his support from moderates, who are 33%-22% in favor.

Meanwhile, my pet theory that Rodriguez drew most of his support from the younger graduates and was totally hated by old Bo folks—which I have told a dozen podcasts—is completely wrong. The rate at which people think Rodriguez deserves another year increases monotonically as people age:

  Favorable Unfavorable Not sure   Keep Dump Not sure
18 to 29 23 39 37   35 39 26
30 to 45 11 27 62   38 22 40
46 to 65 18 29 53   51 18 31
Over 65 30 19 51   65 17 18

I have no clever explanations for that. Later today I'll put up the same questions on the blog to see what this place thinks; results should be interesting.

[UPDATE: An emailer points out that the breakouts by age here are beyond insignificant: of the 890 respondents, 20 were Michigan fans under 30. Nevermind this last bit.]

Jackson goodbye. The departure of assistant coach Mike Jackson for Purdue has apparently moved from rumor-in-name-only to actual news now that folk like Angelique Chengelis are mentioning it on the twitters. This has caused a great deal of alarm on the premium sites, but from people who know Jackson personally and use him for information. Proclamations of doom… eh… whatever. If Carlton Brundidge sticks around, which it seems like he will, the impact will be minimal.  Proclamations of Jackson's recruiting skillz fail to mention that Michigan hasn't landed a single recruit that had major offers from other programs—Smotrcyz blew up after he committed.

Is it going to get worse with someone new?

Well, he can do that thing. Widely unregarded WR recruit DJ Williamson is one of Michigan's least-heralded recruits, a guy with two stars on Scout and not much more in the way of praise elsewhere. However, he is real fast. He won the state championship in the 100 M dash as a junior and doubled that feat over the weekend by winning the 100 and 200. His 10.64 100 could have been better if he didn't pull up for some Usain Bolt action at the end:

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

Williamson pulled out a W, presumably to rep Warren Harding. With three receivers from this class already on campus, Williamson is a holy lock to be redshirted but if he can develop some that speed promises something better than his recruiting rankings do.

Etc.: Annual Izzo-to-NBA mild panic begins, this time starting MSU alum and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert as the guy angling for Izzo. Way uncool. Izzo, for his part, texts a swear back at a local reporter asking for comment. Jamiemac comes in for the Six Zero profiling.


2010 Recruiting: Demar Dorsey

2010 Recruiting: Demar Dorsey Comment Count

Brian May 18th, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, and CB Cullen Christian.

Lauderdale Lakes, FL - 6'1" 175

what, me worry? 

Scout 4*, #19 S, #203 overall
Rivals 4*, #13 S, #162 overall
ESPN 5*, 85, #2 S, 12 overall
Others #102 overall to TAKKLE.
Other Suitors Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, USC, Miami
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post. Tom interviews Dorsey. Drew Sharp fiasco. Bogus JUCO journey?
Notes  OMG Shirtless.

UA Game:

More, featuring actual things on the field:

There is also an ESPN interview in which Dorsey and another Gator commit talk up Florida. Oops. Surprisingly for such a touted recruit, there isn't much in the way of high school highlights lying around.

You've probably heard as much or more about Demar Dorsey than any Michigan recruit of recent vintage, but very little of it has been about his ability to, you know, play football. This post is going to assume you're aware of Dorsey's checkered past, the Detroit media's dogpile upon that checkered past, and the he's-going-to-JUCO-no-he-isn't-yes-he-is saga of about a month ago. There's a significant chance this is wasted effort—just today we got the news that there will be news on Dorsey in a few weeks— but the tabs are open so here we go.

Dorsey is kind of a big deal, having committed to Florida by March of 2009—just a month into the recruiting year. By that time he'd also picked up offers from Wisconsin, Miami, Florida State, and North Carolina. The Big Three instate by March is a level of interest in a Florida recruit Michigan has not seen in the Rich Rodriguez era. When Dorsey opened his recruitment up USC and Tennessee hopped in. Dorsey could have gone anywhere in the country.

Those offers were prompted by an incredibly FAKE 4.25 40 at the Under Armor combine he attended midway through his junior year. That 4.25 followed a 4.31. Even if fake, Dorsey's number was the best at a loaded combine and came with a 4.19 shuttle and 40-inch vertical leap. Remember those pictures of Denard Robinson housing fools en route to a 10.44 100 meters that he thought was disappointing? Yeah: that was big news in Florida because Robinson upset his cousin Dorsey. Dorsey was expected to be faster than Denard Robinson. This was because he'd previously busted out a 10.3 100.

Offers flowed like water, undeterred by the commitment. With good reason: it was so soft as to hardly exist, with Dorsey invariably claiming he was somewhere between 65 and 90 percent Gator whenever asked. After even more highly touted safety-type recruit Matt Elam completed his UF-FSU-UF oscillation Florida asked Dorsey to firm up his commit and cease visiting elsewhere. When he didn't, the parties parted ways. Just a couple weeks before that, Dorsey had been talking up Florida to recruits at the Under Armor game. I mean, seriously:

"It was a great day to be a Gator," said Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson cornerback Demar Dorsey, one of nine future UF players in the game. "If you weren't a Gator today, you were gator bait. We had interceptions, a couple forced fumbles, some touchdowns. We did a little bit of everything."

After an erroneous report Dorsey had committed to Florida State—check that: many persistent erroneous reports—Dorsey eventually picked Michigan on signing day at a press conference so long that it has taken its place in the hallowed land of Prime Recruitnik Intervention Material a mere three months after it transpired. His recruitment was strange, except it seems like there are four or five kids every year who have similar stories. It was in the genre of strange, then.

After all that, though, Dorsey doesn't check in as the world-destroying prospect you would expect… except on ESPN. Rivals and Scout both rank him in the 150-200-ish range. For comparison, that's where redshirt freshman DE and national non-story Anthony LaLota ended up last year. That's a good prospect who would look nice in just about anyone's class. It's not a ranking worthy of a ninja recruit who can cover three zones at the same time.

Twelfth overall is world-destroying, though, and that's where ESPN put him. Their rationale:

…has very good size and could even put on some bulk and not lose any of his speed or quickness. As a defensive back he is the entire package; a great blend of skill and natural talent. Very fast on run support with excellent closing speed. Gets to the ball carrier in a hurry and delivers the wood when he hits. Really explodes on contact and drives the legs throughout he tackle; really punishes the ball carrier. Changes directions fluidly and has loose hips to turn and run without a loss of speed. Displays leaping ability and goes up to high point the football and possesses soft and reliable hands in bringing it down. … Wins all the jump ball contests and is a real running threat to bring the ball back due to his speed and running abilities. Can play the strong and free position with equal talent but is a real intimidating force as a free safety where all of his talents can be utilized even though he can play man to man with the receiver in his zone. …an exceptional athlete that will be even more of a dynamic football player with some lower body bulk and strength.

Hello, nurse. Caveat: as mentioned, Dorsey tore up the turf at the UA combine and immediately agreed to play in the ESPN-sponsored UA game. The WWL has a tendency to puff up the prospects they get their claws on. Not to the extent where 12th nationally isn't worth a cocked eyebrow, but it's worth a mention.

Other sites agree with the bits about how he is a crazy athlete. Other than one negative assessment from Mike Farrell ("didn't separate well or show great ball skills… change of direction didn't scream cornerback") after Florida's Friday Night Lights camp, where he played receiver, it's all stuff like this:

The Florida Gators definitely got a freak athlete in Dorsey. He looks every bit of 6-1 and he is long, rangy and wiry strong. He is raw in coverage and he is not quite there yet as far as his technique and instincts but he has a ton of tools to work with. He is extremely quick twitch and he has phenomenal recovery speed and athleticism.

And this from Barton Simmons:

It's no secret that Dorsey has special speed and athleticism, but his skills translated very effectively to football ability. Though he wants to be a cornerback, safety is really the spot for him on defense. He has great range and has better than average mobility and fluidity. As a downhill player, he demonstrated some real physicality, providing probably the hit of the day from the safety position. Dorsey also lined up some on offense and he is extremely dangerous on that side of the ball as well. As a vertical threat he is a terrifying matchup.

Dorsey was subsequently named the fastest safety in the country and fastest player at the UA game; his performance there got him put back in the 250 after the FNL performance saw him drop out.

The story is no different at Scout: "Man can he run!" an article gushes before settling in on some worrying technique issues. His profile there is much the same:

As athletic as any player in the country with his combination of great size, frame, speed, and first step quickness. He's further ahead athletically than as a player. He can get caught turning the wrong way, has trouble getting off blocks, and is sloppy in his tackling form, but with the ball in his hands on returns and letting his instincts as an athlete takeover, he show’s that he’s special. Definition of an upside recruit.

Further scouting reports mention "blinding quickness" and predict a guy who will "easily be an all-conference performer" and lodge slight complaints about technique:

Dorsey flashed the talents he has, but still could have had a bigger impact on the game. Two separate times he went over the top of a receiver streaking down the sidelines to help from his free safety position, had he undercut the receiver those two plays (like he did on the INT) he could have come up with another interception and a big time hit. Dorsey proved the tools are there, it is just a matter of refining them to become a great free safety.

You get the idea.

At Michigan (knock on wood), Dorsey will start at corner. He is fine with this:

"All the schools have said they want me to play on both sides of the ball," he said. "I think I can play any position in the defensive backfield. I can play receiver on the other side of the ball.

"Whatever the team needs is where I want to play," he added.

This makes sense in the context of Michigan's needs and Dorsey's immense physical talents: cornerback is equivalent of tailback on defense, a spot where a talented freshman can come in and play as a freshman. Michigan's seen Leon Hall, Donovan Warren, Charles Woodson, Marlin Jackson, and many others come in with little more than the ability to run ridiculously fast. All have survived, if not excelled. Safety is much more complicated and Michigan is determined to let the Cam Gordon Safety Explosion play out.

As for the academics, a January newspaper article published his ACT score (18) and bluntly stated he "will be qualified," but if Rich Rodriguez is publicly stating that there will be news in a few weeks that qualification remains something that happens in the future. The premium sites are at odds, with Rivals declaring there is very little chance Dorsey qualifies and Scout considerably less strident. They're not exactly brimming with confidence, though. If you put a gun to my head, I'd say Fort Scott CC fans are going to get more use out of this post than y'all. That is a prediction made of 100% speculation: please no panic.

Why Leon Hall? Because I can't compare him to a guy who's currently a sophomore quarterback, right? And I can't compare him to Charles Woodson, peace be upon him, because even if You May Remember Me From Such Players As is not supposed to be a prediction of overall talent there are some things not broached even when it comes to hypothetical playing style comparisons.

Hall, then: a four-star in about the same range as Dorsey on Scout and Rivals, Hall arrived at Michigan a fairly big corner—though he's not as tall as Dorsey—and broke into the starting lineup as a freshman, developed into an All Big Ten corner and Thorpe finalist, and then burned up the track at the NFL combine, laying down a 4.38 in the one environment where you can't yell FAKE. He's currently pretty good, yo.

Etc.: Also punts! Origin of the No Fly Zone.

Guru Reliability: High. Can't be very high because one service is wildly enthusiastic and the others are just plain ol' enthusiastic, but the disagreement is just about technique issues that should
General Excitement Level: Either ridiculously high or nothing. Someone get this man a Kaplan tutor stat.
Projection: If he gets to campus he'll be thrown in the secondary blender immediately and probably see time as a backup or in a nickel package depending on how good Cullen Christian is. Redshirt exceedingly unlikely. Will he get to campus? Ask again later. Actually, don't.


2009 Recruiting: Denard Robinson

2009 Recruiting: Denard Robinson Comment Count

Brian June 18th, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, RB Vincent Smith, and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.

Deerfield Beach, Florida - 6'0" 180
denard-robinson-track Scout 4*, #16 CB, #159 overall
Rivals 4*, #14 ATH, #188 overall
ESPN 81, #7 ATH, #101 overall
Others #187 to TAKKLE.
Other Suitors Florida, Georgia, Kansas State, West Virginia
Previously On
Mailbag question answered.
Notes Teammate of Witty. Nicknamed "Shoelace".

Yeah, I said it: Pat White. "You may remember me from such players as" is supposed to be an indicator of the type of player Michigan will get if the kid pans out and not a prediction of same, but invoking the Great White Bolt is a heavy burden in any case. That goes double when the other quarterback options are another true freshman and That Darkness We Do Not Consider.

But it's hard to avoid the comparison when the player in question does this

Deerfield Beach's Denard Robinson got the near-perfect start he needed, motored down the straightaway and won the 100 meters in a personal-best 10.44 seconds at the BCAA Track Championships at Coral Springs on Saturday.

Robinson's personal-best … is the second-fastest high school time in the nation, according to Dyestat Elite 100 rankings.

…and says this afterwards…

'' I was kind of disappointed in myself to run a 10.44, but I will accept that,'' Robinson said.

…and is this according to SoFLAFootball…

Best athlete in Florida may move to WR or CB in college

…and has a tag on this blog called "Denard Robinson is made of dilithium." (He'd later finish third in the state finals after a poor start. The guy who won broke the state record.) Even Tate Forcier's mom knows what's up:

On National Signing Day in February, early-enrollee Tate Forcier couldn’t even remember Denard Robinson’s name. All he knew was what his mom had explained over the phone earlier that day: the Wolverines signed another dual-threat quarterback, and he is really fast.

His FAKE 40 time, as you might imagine, is outstandingly so: he ran a 4.33 at Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp, which is probably generous but was also the fastest time anyone turned in at a loaded event. That was no fluke, either. At an early Scout combine he put up a 4.39, and was named the best QB in attendance. He even had a FAKE 100 time, a Free Press-reported 10.28 (now paywalled) that The Diag, sadly, debunked.

All of this is very impressive, and his coach is over the moon about the kid:

"Oh my god, Michigan is going to get an explosive, explosive quarterback," Taylor said. "He's a leader, he pushes his will to win on others. I've never seen a kid so competitive."

Here's another version of that quote:

''I don't think people realize how fast he is,'' Taylor said. ``He has so many gears. You have great quarterbacks who can kill you with their arm, and you have great running backs who can kill you with their speed. He has both. He's just spectacular, explosive.

``He's a game-changing kid. I'll guarantee you he will play on Sundays.''

And his athletic director chips in:

"He held everybody to such a high standard," said Vinnie Tozzi, Deerfield Beach's athletic director. "If people weren't giving 110 percent, he would not be satisfied. He would will his team to want to win."

Add Robinson to the growing list of Michigan recruits about whom those sorts of statements are uttered. Rodriguez is pushing his charges far harder than Carr did towards the end of his career—remember Alex Mitchell being begged to return to the team at a waddling 350?—and recruiting the sorts of players who will endure the Barwis long-term.

Other colleges came calling, and major ones: Robinson claimed 30 offers before narrowing it down, including Georgia, Ohio State, and large sections of the SEC. Michigan's main competition for Robinson was Florida, who offered early—they were actually the first—and held out the (possibly slightly fanciful) promise of a shot at quarterback. Other major offers came from teams recruiting him as a wide receiver or defensive back. Similarities to White are duly noted, and questions about his ability to stick at quarterback raised.

For its part, ESPN thinks he's got a real shot:

Robinson is just a flat out playmaker in every sense of the word and he will surprise you with his production in the passing game. If he were taller, there is no doubt he would be a serious QB prospect, but his overall skills will likely land him somewhere else. Has a quick, live arm and is very effective in the short and intermediate areas of the field. … He is scary when the initial play breaks down--has supreme quickness, burst and acceleration and has a knack for pulling a rabbit out of his hat when he gets in trouble. Throws extremely well on the move, especially to his right. … However, at times Robinson will try and make too much happen and force things a little. His height limits his vision and he will leave the pocket and may scramble too much at times because he knows he has a chance to make something happen if out of the pocket. When not in the shotgun, he struggles to see the whole field and work through progressions.

Michigan is his system, and the spring game's heavy reliance on the rollout should help Robinson segue well into collegiate quarterbacking despite that height thing. Both of Michigan's quarterbacks are relatively short, and Rodriguez will design around that. So: promise but only after some polish. His, numbers say the same thing. Allow myself to quote myself in mailbag post on this site:

But then you've got the passing stats:

Key Statistics... completed 100-of-231 passes for 1,809 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior ...

There's a big, big gap between those numbers and Forcier's. That's a 43% completion rate. I know that high school passing is often a whole lot of bombing downfield (18 yards per completion!), but those numbers say "project" to me.

ESPN's point about throwing on the move is obvious in Robinson's highlight video, which if you do nothing else you should skip to the three minute mark and watch him do a bunch of crazy stuff that will get him killed in college but worked out okay in high school:

Robinson rolled out a lot, and seemed effective doing it, though the throws you see above were obviously interspersed with a fair number of turfed balls or, like, the hopeless long loopers that appear to be Robinson's default option when shorter options are covered and running lanes aren't apparent.

Oddly, Robinson's rushing yards weren't spectacular. He had only 538, which was fewer than Forcier had, though Forcier wasn't going up against big schools in Florida at Scripps Ranch. Does this indicate a Drew Tate Forcier-like tendency to run around in the backfield and then launch it deep? A couple of throws above and that yards per completion number indicate "yes", but he also breaks contain several times and takes off and those are just highlights so maybe he got sacked a lot for ridiculous yardage after running around like a headless chicken and I guess what I'm trying to say is we just don't know, dude.

We just have to go on the universal heavy panting about this guy's ability to outrun a cheetah in a Porsche strapped to a jet engine and dropped out of a plane. Which, like, okay.

Why Pat White? Obvs.

Etc.: Signing day video.

Guru Reliability: High. Prominent player at a well-scouted high school and the rankings all land in the same area.
General Excitement Level: Slightly under high. Yes, he has huge upside but he is also a project and will require a lot of coaching up if he's to be effective at quarterback.
Projection: Even if Robinson doesn't pan out Michigan won't be moving him for at least two years and doesn't have the quarterback depth to redshirt anyone this year, so at the very least you'll see him reprise the Feagin role from last year's Minnesota game except with a definite possibility he'll throw. Going forward it'll be a battle between his electric athleticism and Forcier's polish, with Forcier having the obvious early edge because of his spring enrollment.