This week: We're looking to build the best possible team out of guys who grew up and played their high school ball in Michigan. Since we've covered a lot of these guys' Michigan careers already, I figured this could instead be a celebration of the programs they came from, and Michigan high school football in general. Special thanks to michigan-football.com, a highly valuable resource.
Rules: Only players recruited since 1990-on. Reasons are 1) Until the late '80s Michigan was a very regional recruiter. Quick chart of Michigan rosters (via Bentley) by state of origin, walk-ons included:
Moeller was the first coach since helmets were a thing to field a team that wasn't made up mostly of Michiganders and Ohioans. Reason 2) My database goes back to 1990. Reason 3: I was 10 that year, and kid memories aren't of much use. This gives us a pool of 171 players to choose from whose careers most of us are somewhat familiar with.
Right off the bat this is a tough one, and a decision I'm personally going to get flak for because the other good candidate reads this blog. Drew, at your best you were the better player, and I promise to buy you a beer next time you're in Ann Arbor. However I'm sticking by the guy who should never have to buy a beer in the State of Michigan again. Also: 33 starts to your eight.
In high school Gardner played for UofD as a sophomore but was forced to sit out for off-field issues for five games. He transferred to Inkster, following coach Greg Carter from recently closed Saint Martin de Porres, and exploded, leading them to two straight state finals. While Devin was at Michigan Inkster was also closed, its students dispersed to four other school districts.
Backup: Drew Henson, Brighton The rest of the field:Shane Morris, Steven Threet, Nick Sheridan, Alex Malzone, Craig Randall
[After THE JUMP: The greatest player in Michigan high school history]
Rules: He had to play at least a season or a snap at a significantly different position at the college level (so no ATHs), and BEFORE this position. Jake Ryan’s move from quasi-DE in a 4-3 under to the Mike in an 4-3 over counts; Matt Godin going from 5-tech to DT does not. Neither does moving between safety positions unless you’re a FS who became half-linebacker. Also no pro moves (sorry Cato June), or playing a second, non-primary position (sorry Charles Woodson) even if you won the Heisman (sorry, Tennessee fans, but he did).
Cutoff Point: Recruited Post-Bo, so I don’t have to remember positions from when I was ten (sorry Tripp Welborne).
Quarterback: Devin Gardner
“Wonky throwing motion” indeed. [Eric Upchurch]
In between the times he wore 7 and that awful Nebraska day, Michigan of the Denard era couldn’t resist getting one of their best athletes on the field. So despite no backup quarterback plan other than Russell Bellomy for Denard Robinson (who’d been knocked out for that nerve in the elbow before), for 2012 Mr. Gardner was shipped off to receiver. At first it looked to be a good idea: Gardner had touchdown passes in his first three games (Bama, Air Force, and UMass). He wasn’t a great route runner but with Denard getting the ball every play the receivers got a lot of one-on-one matchups, and Gardner was a big dude. Then Denard went out and we had to wait until the following week before the Devin at QB era could begin. The receiver experiment thus ended at 16 receptions, 266 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
As for quarterback, the end of that 2012 season was magnificent enough to portend great things, but the offensive line was never enough. Two virtuoso performances against Ohio State and Notre Dame as a redshirt junior, then a senior year of a lot of heart but a broken body and a coaching situation. If we do a “man I feel sorry for that guy” team he’ll be back.
Other candidates: Nope.
[Hit THE JUMP unless you’re an Iowa safety then you probably don’t want to know what’s next]
"I would be much more afraid to play Michigan again than Florida, the '08 team," Rolovich said. The 2008 Florida team went on to win the national title behind one of the nation's best defenses. "The Gators were good. They won the national title, but there wasn't a weakness on the field (at Michigan). Their coaches deserve credit. Their players deserve credit. That's some big-time football right there."
He said this about a Michigan team that was without two potential first-round draft picks.
It’s easy to dismiss Harbaugh as a showman, and there’s no doubt he has a great sense of the impact some of his statements, tweets, or music videos will have. Still, a large part of how he comes across is simply who he is. Some of it is the Harbaugh lineage, though much of it is just him.
“I wouldn’t have wanted to be in that family,” laughed Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison, who in his career has now worked with Harbaughs Jack, John, Jim, and Jay. “When you go to play a pickup basketball game, I got a feeling you gotta be pretty physical.” Indeed, when Harbaugh first met his wife’s large family, he wound up complaining about her sister Amy’s officiating in a 3-on-3 basketball game.
But in contrast to the more reticent John, or the more affable Jack, or the more soft-spoken Jay (whose Twitter bio does include the words: “Relish a good nepotism tweet”; like father, like son), Jim Harbaugh can never just stay put. He points out that he’s the only member of his family taller than 6 feet and ascribes it to a childhood spent downing whole milk and praying for height. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming to think about what it must be like to live inside his brain.
…and the next section, which is our old friend Smart Football. It's not quite Grantland yet but it's not bad except for all the articles in which NFL coaches complain about spread offenses.
They always catch up. Fascinating article by Chris Brown on the decline and fall of Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, which wasn't just based on the imperious personnel decisions and general Jed Yorkery of his term there. Kelly went away from running quarterbacks because the NFL has a salary cap and very few plausible starters at that spot, and teams caught up to his tempo.
Philadelphia’s opponents seemed to know what was coming throughout 2015, even when he tried to mix in other plays. For example, as long as he’s been in the NFL, whenever Kelly’s opponents have geared up to stop his inside zone play, he has typically gone to his counterpunch, a sweep play in which the guard and center both pull to lead the way. But, tipped off by the alignment of the running back and the tight end, defenses were ready for that, too.
It’s one thing for a team to miss a block or for the play caller to guess wrong, but these are abysmal, totally hopeless plays rarely seen in the NFL. Yet Kelly repeatedly deflected criticism that his offense had become predictable by saying that the issue came down to only one thing: “We need to execute.”
If you stay static, the hyenas download you and take over. Michigan's offense has to move as much as anyone else's—one reason I think the fullback traps might go on vacation this season. They haven't shown anything new so far and won't this weekend. Starting with Colorado the wrinkles will start to work their way in.
Wary of the likelihood tryouts and camp invites actually led to something, Gardner’s agent pitched a new idea to Gardner this spring: Go be a star … in Japan.
“He said he had an interesting idea after someone had given him a call about it,” Gardner said. “It was (pitched as) a chance to see a new place, get back on the field again for some time because I hadn’t played in a while.”
The next day, Gardner was on a flight to Japan. He signed with the Nojima Sagamihara Rise a couple weeks after that, and was asked if he knew of any American players that would also be interested. Though the X-league is competitive, players from the United States typically thrive against less-experienced competition, to the point in which the league put a cap on four Americans per team.
So Gardner had to pick his receiving target wisely, but it wasn’t a hard call to make.
Large profile of interest. We took their Kaiju, only fair we give back.
While the overwhelming belief of the college basketball coaching fraternity is that players being able to transfer without having to sit a year is imminent, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy told ESPN he isn't ready to go that far.
"I am confident we will be victorious in these cases," Remy told ESPN. "If they win, we wouldn't be able to have the rule anymore.'
I'm very much on the pay-these-men-their money side of things but that sucks. I'd like to draw a line somewhere more conservative than "anything at all that can be construed as a benefit for athletes is what we should do," and both transfer restrictions and the sit-out year are things that I think are reasonable. (To be precise: I don't think teams should be able to restrict players from teams not on their schedule the next year.)
We're already seeing a ton of guys bail on their mid-major teams to go play a year or two at bigger schools, and this would only accelerate that. A separate article by Jeff Goodman goes over the parlous state of incentives in college basketball:
Another mid-major head coach, who lost one of his best players to a BCS school this past offseason, told ESPN he would be "slowing down the graduating process" for his players in order to ensure that he doesn't lose another to the high-major ranks.
When asked to elaborate specifically on what "slowing down the graduating process" would entail, he said instead of enrolling a player into a pair of summer school classes in two sessions, they might not have that particular player take summer school at all -- or take just one class per session. Another prevailing thought is to put players in just the minimum 12 hours of classes each semester.
"What kid is going to argue and want to take more classes?" one mid-major coach said. "There aren't many."
That's bad for the sport since it paves an even easier path to the top for the top schools and reduces the number of upsets that make the NCAA tournament so fun:
A year ago, Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters could have trotted out a starting lineup that included Trey Lewis and Anton Grady. Instead, Lewis spent the season at Louisville. Grady took a grad transfer year at Wichita State and Waters went just 9-23 and will have some pressure on him this season instead of working on a contract extension. Both Lewis and Grady are playing professionally overseas this season.
There's a totally legit competitive balance argument here. And you can't even make that academic argument that is offered up by defenders of the grad transfer rule. Switching schools in the middle of a degree will make things tougher. (Unless you can't do algebra and transfer to MSU.)
If we could just admit that basketball players are majoring in basketball and that this is completely fine a lot of balderdash could be excised from these discussions. Basketball players transfer because of basketball. Therefore it is proper to consider the effects on basketball these transfer rules have.
Unintended consequences. NFL players and owners conspire against players yet to join the league by agreeing to a CBA that pays rookies vastly below market value for four or even five years. Artificially under-valued players thus pile up across the league, forcing veterans out. Coaches then bitch about how young everyone is. If only someone could have seen this coming.
Also in that article, it runs in the family. John Harbaugh might not be the craziest Harbaugh, but he's a Harbaugh:
On March 18, 23-year-old Ravens cornerback Tray Walker died from injuries suffered in a motorbike accident in Miami one day prior. Eight days later, at the funeral in a Baptist church in south Florida, Harbaugh approached the head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith. “I said the rules have to be adjusted for first-, second-, third-year guys,” Harbaugh said, referring to rules that limit offseason contact between players and coaches. “The rules are built for guys who have families and need time off.”
Smith said the interaction was brief. “One, we were at a funeral,” he said.
Knives out for Les Miles. This Bleacher Report article features several former LSU players expressing their concern with the direction of the program in uncommonly blunt and clear terms:
"There were players running free, and it was from experienced players not adjusting to a blitz," said Hester. "It wasn't a situation where they were doing something tricky or mugging up in the A-gaps and bringing somebody from somewhere else. It was literally linebackers blitzing from depth when the ball was snapped. Those are things that you expect experienced guys to pick up.
Already in the meat of the season there's not a lot that LSU can do, and the bet here is that with Tom Herrmann out there, Miles won't survive any forthcoming misstep. One dollar says LSU gets blown out by Alabama and there's an interim the next day.
About last night. I don't get WOO NIKE. I have no strong feelings about clothing brands, except insofar as I would like them to put the sports teams I like in uniforms that 1) stay in one piece, 2) are legible from distance, and 3) don't make me envy the dead. I'm in the same realm of bafflement Dan Murphy was last night:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- They lined up for T-shirts.
All day, Michigan fans stood in line for T-shirts. And when the sun went down they chanted and painted their faces and counted down the last few seconds like it was New Year’s Eve for T-shirts, ones with a tiny lopsided parabola in the corner instead of a striped triangle. ...
“I’ve lived 52 years, a lot of them right here in Ann Arbor,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said into a sea of fans recording on their cell phones. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
LIST OF SHIRTS I WOULD STAND IN LINE TO BUY 1. if it was the 12th century and they sold indulgences on shirts 2. Harambe-skin
It's probably better that Michigan's back with marketing folks who can inspire the kind of devotion that results in a walk-on basketball player crowdsurfing like he's 1992 Eddie Vedder. The gap between the Only Incompetent Germans and that 190-proof blast of capitalism is obvious. While the headline number* on Michigan's apparel contract has been beaten by a few different schools since it was signed a year ago, Jumpman exclusivity looks like a big deal for players and recruits—you know, the people who help you win on the field.
I have one hope, and that's a football version of Jumpman. Pick one of Desmond or Woodson:
A permanent logo swap ain't happening, but if Nike wants to do a special edition thing that will sell a lot of merch and not piss off traditionalists this would be killer. (I think? I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about in this department. Later today I will advise rappists on the finest iambic pentameters. The very best.)
I have one concern. The hockey jerseys look weird and wrong.
Mismatched blues, a weird sheen on top, really not digging the jersey with one maize stripe across the top and nothing else anywhere. A closeup of the hockey jersey does seem into indicate it's regular jersey material and not, like, shimmery. I'll reserve final judgment until I see them in the wild, but I'm not hopeful.
*[I say "headline number" here because it looks like various other schools have structured their contracts such that theirs is the "biggest ever" to the press but not in reality. For example, OSU's "biggest ever" deal with Nike is actually worth $13 million less in cash than Michigan's over the same timeframe. They just pad it out with more gear at an inflated price. I haven't looked into the details of UCLA and Texas but it's possible—probable in UCLA's case—that the same thing is going on there.]
This is completely rational. I retract my tweet at Nick Baumgardner yesterday:
"I definitely think its symbolic, it's a new age for Michigan," Gozdor said. "A lot of my friends are saying they're going to burn their Adidas gear and forget the whole entire thing ever happened."
He was right.
Jeremy Gallon finally gets to be taller than some people. An alert reader points out that the Nojima Sagamihara Rise, a team in Japan's "X-League," is currently listing Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon on their roster. (Also included is former Illinois safety Earnest Thomas III.) Thorough research* reveals that only two foreign players are allowed to be on the field at any one time; the Rise must be planning on Gardner to Gallon for 50% of their plays. This is a good plan.
“Everybody here is so respectful, so nice. It’s almost like a compete 180 from in America,” said Gardner, who made 27 starts at quarterback for the Wolverines, with a smile. “They (the Americans) are nice people but I’ve never been to a place where everybody is so kind and so respectful, and it’s just part of the way everyone is here. It’s pure refreshing to get a chance to experience it.”
No Michigan State or Ohio State fans in Japan, I take it.]
*[googling the league's wikipedia page]
I'd be happy to be wrong here. Erik Magnuson doesn't strike me as a guy who the NFL will consider drafting early unless he takes a big step forward as a senior, but CBS's Dane Brugler disagrees with that take, naming him one of the top ten senior OTs in the country and saying he "played like a legitimate NFL prospect":
...moves with a smooth shuffle and wide base, transferring his weight well in his kickslide to mirror edge rushers. He stays low off the snap and prefers to use his hands to control the point of attack to out-leverage and out-power defenders. Magnuson is able to secure downblocks and anchor at shallow depth, driving his legs to finish in the Wolverines' power offense. He has also been praised by the coaching staff for his leadership and consistency during the week.
Although hustle and effort aren't an issue, Magnuson has sloppy tendencies with a bad habit of lowering his head and losing sight of his target, ending up on the ground. He tends to be a waist bender and lacks ideal length to compensate, which allows savvy rushers to get him off balance and leaning. While powerful when squared to defenders, Magnuson will struggle to recover once defenders attack his shoulder.
I thought Magnuson was okay, and only that, a year ago. I get the vibe that PFF agrees with me since they haven't posted anything about him, or the rest of the Michigan OL not named Mason Cole. They tend to have an "if you can't say anything nice..." policy.
The argument could be made that Glasgow has already broken out as he boasted the nation’s No. 19 run-stopping grade before going down to injury last season, but since he only played 332 snaps, he still qualifies as a breakout candidate. He’s seen the field for 753 snaps the last two seasons, posting a strong +32.7 grade against the run, and last year he improved his pass rush grade to +9.0 on the strength of a sack, four QB hits, and 12 hurries on 179 rushes.
Taco Charlton shows up at #7 for the same reasons we're hyped about him around here: a lot of production in under 400 snaps. There are scattered Big Ten players to round out the list plus a couple of old names for recrutniks: both Cal RB Vic Enwere and Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage make the tail end of the list.
Spreading the wealth. Michigan probably has four guys on that aforementioned top 25 B10 players list (Lewis, Peppers and Butt are probably locks and Glasgow snuck in) so it's not exactly crazy that these gents missed it...
Michigan DL Chris Wormley and receivers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson: Wormley is one of the more versatile defensive linemen in the league, with the ability to move between end and tackle, and he had 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks in 2015. Some of us argued for his inclusion, though we ultimately went with a different player in his position group. As for Darboh and Chesson, they are clearly two of the better wideouts in the league. Yet neither had huge numbers last season, and even Jim Harbaugh will tell you it's a coin flip on who is the better player. They sort of canceled out each other for purposes of this list.
...but since two of those guys are seniors getting first round draft hype it is a little bit crazy. Also:
What it says in the title duh. Note: other than Drake Johnson, who was obviously the inspiration for this.
Ace: Two years ago, it was hard to imagine Caris LeVert would make a list like this. After forcing John Beilein to burn his redshirt and contributing to the 2012-13 title game squad, he played an effective second banana to Nik Stauskas on a 2013-14 team that nearly made it back to the Final Four and set the (since surpassed) KenPom standard for offensive efficiency. The blueprint was there for LeVert to step into Stauskas’ role as a junior, play at or near an All-American level, lead a deep tourney run, and then face a difficult decision about whether to turn pro early.
Lucy will let him get back on the court next time, Charlie Brown. [Bryan Fuller]
Instead, Michigan struggled out of the gate in 2014-15, suffering a few humiliating defeats as the team failed to gel around LeVert, who struggled to maintain his sophomore-year efficiency. As Michigan survived a last-second, game-tying attempt by Northwestern at Crisler in mid-January, LeVert went down clutching his foot while the rest of the team celebrated. On a seemingly innocuous play, he’d suffered a season-ending injury; without him, Michigan missed the postseason, and LeVert returned to try it again his senior year.
LeVert looked fantastic, putting up All-American-level numbers as the team’s centerpiece, and Michigan made it through non-conference play with a quality win over Texas and no bad losses. LeVert was poised to lead his team to a decent NCAA seed while cementing his standing as a first-round NBA prospect. Then, in the waning moments of the conference opener at Illinois, it happened again: LeVert stepped on a defender’s foot, rolled his ankle, and came up limping.
[Continue at THE JUMP even though you don’t want to, because you know you should, even if it’s painful. If you make it to the end there are 24 minutes of Denard highlights]
“Just based on what he showed me with that defense, it fits me perfectly. I just can’t pass the opportunity up. I just had to take it. He really blitzes his linebackers. I know last year there was a couple of plays where I got right through on blitzes, and I’m getting better and better at blitzing. That’s a lot of what he does and I can see myself in his system.”
Older brother James was born four years too early. Would have been a Don Brown dude for sure.
The potato door opens in 2018
Ross was always likely to follow his brother to Ann Arbor, but Johnson is an alpaca out of nowhere. His commit is a significant one for Michigan since Jim Harbaugh hadn't exactly emphasized a nearby state with a lot of talent (and Michigan's main rival) in it. Since Harbaugh's arrival only Nolan Ulizio, a late flier Michigan flipped from UConn, has fled the potato state for the friendly confines of Ann Arbor.
So. Johnson is not only a very good player in his own right but also a thorn in OSU's side. He is also the teammate of OH DE/DT Leonard Taylor, an early five-star in the 2018 class. Taylor visited along with Johnson and came back making positive noises:
"It was an A+ visit," he said. "Definitely an A+. It was really an eye-opening visit for me to see Michigan in person. It definitely had an at-home feeling to it. I didn't feel out of place there."
More significantly, he immediately scheduled a return trip for the Spring Game. Two visits in a month and a teammate committed should give Michigan a very real shot at landing Taylor. Lorenz has a "hunch" that Taylor pulls the trigger in the near future in Michigan's favor, which is… rather something, that.
every recruit gets their Peppers photo, including Jaelen Gill.
"Academics, the atmosphere, the campus life, and great football," he said of the Wolverines. "The people at Michigan are wonderful."
That's a really short article but there are a couple more very encouraging quotes in it all the same. Lorenz followed up with an Inside Michigan Recruiting in which he states the visit "couldn't have gone much better"… but that he's still guessing OSU. Even so the vibe is great, man.
Per a guy on Bucknuts, Gill is not a native Ohioan and is in fact from New Jersey originally. So… all of a sudden it's not too far fetched that Michigan gets three of the top five in the 2018 Ohio class. Harbaugh? Harbaugh.
“They are my top school,” said Harris. “They are just from the academic standpoint. One of the best out of any school I have visited and by far the best coaching staff that you will get at the college level."
Lorenz fired off a crystal ball, and it sounds like Harris is just letting things marinate before pulling the trigger. If there is a complication it would be on Michigan's end, as they have guys like MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell high on their board.
NJ DT Fred Hansard will announce his destination on May 14th, his birthday. Michigan is amongst his seven finalists and his destination is very much am mystery. His crystal ball has a couple Rutgers picks from Guys Who Hilariously Pick Rutgers For Every High Profile NJ Recruit, a couple Penn State picks from Guy Who Fires Off A Guess At Every Recruit In The Country, and then the Temple 247 guy goes with M.
Bill Kurelic notes that in his tweet he "appears to be wearing an Ohio State helmet" and let's see if there might be a reason for that…
Another interesting name is PA OL CJ Thorpe, who told Brice March that he is "extremely interested" and will pare his list down after a couple more unofficials. Thorpe told Lorenz he had a "sense of comfort" in Ann Arbor and that he would like to return for a fuller experience. This one would be a brutal blow to Penn State if Michigan can pull it off… he's a legacy.
Top X lists, tentative visits, you know the drill
PA RB D'Andre Swift has Michigan amongst a long list of schools that he intends to visit. That list includes anyone who's anyone. Also Penn State. He does not tip his hand in any particular direction in the above article.
CN by way of FL WR Josh Palmer got his first offer from Michigan and has been on campus; he tells Tim Sullivan that he wants to see a few other Big Ten schools like Illinois and Maryland and sure let's just put Syracuse in the Big Ten because they're a mediocre program that might have some television subscribers attached. Uh. Then he will fire off a commit after spring. Michigan could be the choice but I'd be surprised if they took a three-star early when they aren't going to have big numbers at the spot and they are after Collins and Peoples-Jones.
Three star NJ OL Joshua Fedd-Jacksonhas a top three of UNC, Rutgers, and Michigan. He plans an early April visit to M… but probably not for the spring game since he'll be at UNC that weekend.
Three star CA WR/TE Grant Calcaterrawill drop by Michigan on a seven-school Midwest tour. Calcaterra is a former teammate of 2016 signee Dylan Crawford and his list is academically-oriented, so if Michigan decides they've got room for him they'll likely be in it to the end.
Michigan offered TX CB Kary Vincent Jr, wants to visit, no definite plan, no top list. "Loves" Harbaugh, FWIW.
NV CB Alex Perry didn't want to leave the West before a Michigan offer came in; now he wants to get out for Unspecified Visit. He's got an odd list for a four star guy: he decommitted from Arizona State, visited TCU, and talks up Colorado some. As always, wait to see if he actually sets foot on campus.
FL CB Randall Hayniehas a top five of M, Duke, Vandy, Wisconsin, and WVU. Grew up watching Denard, knows O'Korn, academic-oriented top five… if Michigan pursues they'll be in it.
Thompson-Robinson has that Harbaugh Let's Capitalize Every Word thing going on, and his twitter handle was carefully curated by Jon Bois.
Significantly, that tweet follows visits to Florida State, Michigan State and Ohio State. He hasn't gotten a flood of offers yet; if Michigan does send one out he's likely to be in the 2018 class.
IN LB Pete Wernerfired off a commitment to ND shortly after visiting both ND and Michigan. Indiana Catholic school kid was always an uphill battle. Lorenz notes that KS TE Trevor Kent is trending to Oklahoma on the crystal ball and could commit this weekend on a trip to Norman.
Dodgeball got heated. Denard and Devin talk to Isaiah Hole at the A4 camp:
Battle status. Still no commitment, apparently planning on taking what would be his final official visit to either UConn or Kentucky, door with Michigan may remain open. Jarron Cumberland's visit did not result in a commit($) and there is no public mention of an offer, but Sam Webb says that things went very well and that you shouldn't read much into that.
NunesMagician.com was told earlier today that the official visit went "very well," but Jim Boeheim did not receive a commitment. …
As each day goes by, Syracuse fans should feel less optimistic. The staff has been on the 5-star New Jersey native since his freshman year. He has visited the campus multiple times, but is still tentative to pull the trigger.
This is kind of how I feel about Jonathan Jones, the Florida linebacker who seems like he's been on the verge of a commit for months now.
In any case, Duke is not getting involved again, Syracuse doesn't seem like a particularly appealing destination for Battle for whatever reason (a good one: they are down a quarter of their scholarships for as long as Battle will be in college), and UConn is currently in the American. If he does visit Kentucky that blows up the "distance is the main factor" thing.
Maybe the door is still open? If not it sounds like Cumberland will be in the class pretty soon.
*[The name of this is a long story involving a bad quarterback.]
Bonjour pronto. That's French, right? Alpaca-outta-nowhere commit Benjamin St-Juste is Canadian, and if we've learned anything from South Park it's that Canada's a little bit different than the United States. One of the differences is that Canadian high school is apparently as long as you want it to be.
People were talking about St-Juste as 2016 or 2017 commit yesterday; today Tim Sullivan notes that there's a chance he could come in this fall($), as he's around 18—the usual age you enter college. I think there will be room, and the corner depth is going to be iffy after this year so you may as well.
An accomplished student throughout his high school career at Cooper City High School outside Fort Lauderdale, Florida, most of Weaver's courses are of the advanced-placement or honors variety. Meaning his grade-point average can soar above the customary 4.0, if he's able to push it that high.
During his sophomore year, he had it up to a 4.6. But as a junior, a simple misdirection had him aggravated.
Weaver enrolled in an AP computer science class as a junior. He knew it'd be a challenge, but figured he'd be able to hang. And then things got started.
"It turned out to be a class that was basically for kids who did Java coding at home for fun," Weaver chuckles. "So, yeah, it was tough."
Mr. Weaver, this is my advice to you: if you ever see "LISP" on a course description, run like hell. This is my advice to all people. Emeril! Run like hell if you ever see this:
Now there will be a computer science hipster in the comments talking about how LISP is really elegant because of closures. I apologize in advance.
Anyway, you probably don't come here so I can dump on obscure programming languages. A little more on Weaver:
he appeared at Michigan's satellite camp stop in south Florida with some hope and not much else. At best, Weaver figured he could catch the attention of a Big Ten school. At worst, he knew he'd leave the event a better football player.
It was a win-win, he figured.
And, as is often the case in the classroom, he was right.
"The main reason I went to the camp was because I saw Michigan coaches would be there. I saw it as an opportunity, figured I'd do my best to put my best foot forward and do everything I could to get noticed," Weaver says. "I figured at least it'd be something where I could get better. I was going to go out there and do my best. If I showed well, then they'd notice me. If not, then maybe it wasn't meant to be.
"But I went knowing I'd get better one way or another. And it all worked out."
At 6'5", 245, Weaver is one of the infinite DE/TE prospects Michigan will bring in as long as Harbaugh's around. We probably won't know where he sticks until he's a junior.
Next year will not be the year. Northwestern's never been to the NCAA tournament. This is their nonconference schedule:
A tourney, road games against VT and DePaul, and then garbage.
They do get two of UNC/KState/Mizzou in their tourney. If that even helps much:
Last year's RPI of Northwestern's 2015-16 OOC slate: Two of 11, 100 & 218. Also: 196, 197, 228, 243, 265, 270, 292, 299, 326, 333, 345,
Brutal. And this is a team that returns everyone except oft-injured senior JerShon Cobb and little-used Dave Sobolewski; they've got a senior version of Alex Olah and Tre Demps. This is the kind of Northwestern team that could possibly maybe put themselves on the bubble. But if they are, they're going to be crushed by their own schedule.
It's apparently that arbitrary down time in the offseason when I take a look back at Brian's recruiting profiles for the class that just finished their time at Michigan. In this case, that class is the infamous 2010 group, the last full class brought in by Rich Rodriguez during his time at Michigan.
So, uh, you've been forewarned.
I'll start with the nine offensive players in the class, five of whom were wide receivers. If that sounds like a strange and dangerous way to contruct a roster, you may be a longtime reader of this here blog. Or maybe you just watched the offensive line the last few years. Either/or, really.
We're Really Sorry About The Coaching Thing
As a Pioneer grad, I have no idea how Pioneer won this game.
By the time Brian wrote up Devin Gardner's profile, he'd already enrolled at Michigan and participated in the spring game. The comparison that came up the most in his profile—and, really, the most reasonable one to make at the time—is a pretty good indication of the level of expectation for Gardner's college career:
Why Vince Young? The combination of size, speed, a wonky throwing motion, and the multiple comparisons from gurus tips the balance over to Young, who redshirted despite being the top prospect in the country and didn't come into his own as a passer until he played Michigan in the Rose Bowl—awesome timing!
Guru Reliability: High. Ton of exposure to him. Elite 11 camp, UA game, all that stuff. General Excitement Level: Towering. Vast. Expansive.
Gardner, of course, stayed on track—except for the cameo at wide receiver—by looking like a future star when he took the reins after Denard Robinson's injury in 2012, and while he had some disappointing outings in 2013, those were largely chalked up to the O-line and playcalling. It came off the rails last year for a host of reasons covered so thoroughly they're not worth bringing up again. Needless to say, reading through his profile leaves one with serious what-could've-been feels.
[Hit THE JUMP for Dramatic Cupcake Hopkins and, well, mostly disappointment.]
Only three former Wolverines were selected in the NFL Draft—Devin Funchess, Frank Clark, and Jake Ryan—but a handful of others will get their shot as undrafted free agents. Here's a quick look at where each UDFA ended up and their chances of sticking on an NFL roster.
Brennen Beyer, DE/OLB, Baltimore Ravens
Beyer was consistently solid the last few years, playing out a career reminiscent of Craig Roh; while never outrageously productive—he topped out at 5.5 sacks in a single season—he played disciplined defense on the edge. Beyer is almost certainly an outside linebacker in the Ravens 3-4 defense, which will be a transition after playing with his hand in the dirt for the most part at Michigan—he did start five games at linebacker in 2013. Like most UDFAs, Beyer has an uphill climb to make a roster; for comparison's sake, Roh spent one season on Carolina's practice squad, then played for the Omaha Mammoths of the FXFL in 2014.
Devin Gardner, WR, New England Patriots
Gardner is making the transition from quarterback to wide receiver, and he landed on the right team to do just that; the Patriots turned Julian Edelman, a 2009 seventh-rounder, from an all-MAC dual-threat quarterback at Kent State into one of the more reliable receivers in the league.
Of course, Gardner did get some experience playing the position in college, playing receiver in 2012 until Denard Robinson's injury forced him back into quarterback duty. Gardner displayed his great athleticism, especially as a red zone threat—he had four touchdowns in eight games as a WR—but his rawness at the position was also evident. The book on Gardner from his pre-draft preparation falls in line with what we saw in 2012:
A college quarterback, Michigan's Devin Gardner is making the transition to wide receiver for the next level, a position he played briefly in his Ann Arbor career. However, he is understandably still very raw as a wideout. During Monday's practice, Gardner rounded off routes, dropped passes and attracted a good amount of attention from the coaches as they tried to coach him up. He did some things well and has the athleticism for his size that should translate well, but it will certainly take some time before he sheds the “quarterback trying to play wide receiver” label.
How quickly Gardner learns the finer aspects of playing receiver will determine if he's worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster or gets the opportunity to refine his game on the practice squad. Even if it doesn't work out with New England, he should get a shot somewhere; there's no question he's got a lot of potential, and I think his hands NFL-quality—the UFR catch chart reveals that he caught all but one easy throw that season, and was targeted on a lot of uncatchable throws that significantly drag down his yards per target.
Delonte Hollowell, DB, Detroit Lions
MLive's Kyle Meinke reports Hollowell will be at Detroit's rookie minicamp this weekend, though it isn't clear whether he's been signed as an undrafted free agent or is simply getting a tryout. (I'd guess it's the latter.) Hollowell saw the occasional snap as a slot corner but mostly played special teams at Michigan. Unless he turns into a special teams demon, he's facing a major uphill battle to make a roster, especially given his relatively small stature.
Matt Wile, P, Carolina Panthers
Wile, who saw significant action as both a placekicker and punter at Michigan, will get his shot as a punter in Carolina. The incumbent Panthers punter, Brad Nortman, took a step back in 2014 after a stellar 2013 season, so there may be an opening for Wile to land the job, but to do so he'll have to beat out an established vetaran—one Carolina used a sixth-round pick on in 2012.
allowing athletes to borrow against future earnings for one purpose: loss of value insurance
and new concussion management protocols.
One ACC team voted against the first proposal—I'd love to figure out who that is and if it's Clemson worrying that their bagmen will have to shell out more to make a difference. The SEC (surprise!) and Big 12 voted against the second, with the former using athletes in attendance as cover. This doesn't even make sense:
The SEC's athlete representatives took issue with a clause that would prevent schools from taking away scholarships, or in the case of sports with partial scholarships, reducing the amount of aid, from athletes for athletic underperformance.
"The student-athletes said, 'Don't do that,'" Jacobs said. "They said, 'Give them four years if you want, but … you can pull it away if the players aren't performing.'"
"Give them four years, as long as you can revoke it for any reason." That athlete and his nonsense is headed for Congress. No doubt.
I still have my doubts about how effective the mandatory four year scholarships are going to be. If a guy gets kicked off the team he gets to stay on scholarship, but does the team get to replace him? How difficult is it going to be for coaches to boot guys for unspecified violations of team rules? (Not difficult.) I still think the real solution here is to go from an overall cap to a yearly one. That moves the system from one in which retention comes with an opportunity cost to one in which it doesn't.
The third bullet point sounds seismic until you get to the colon, whereupon it is revealed as a logical change to give athletes some security even if they don't have up-front capital. The fourth may as well be termed the Brady Hoke Derp rule.
Hockey aside. I've mentioned it before: it'll be interesting to see what happens with college hockey after these reforms take hold. Smaller schools have the option to follow the Power 5, but it's doubtful they can do so for just their glamor sport since Title IX looms over all these discussions… unless they're one of the D-II or D-III teams grandfathered in.
Does Miami (NTM) have the dough to keep pace with the Big Ten? Probably not. Would Denver? Maybe—Denver only has one D-I sport. Would the NCHC create an unbalanced playing field within their own conference to help the resource-rich teams compete? I have no idea.
One thing that is definitely good here is that the value of a scholarship went up significantly. That'll help schools compete against the OHL.
You may have screwed up. The San Francisco 49ers fired one of the winningest coaches in NFL history to hire a career position coach who'd never so much as coordinated a defense. This seems unwise, especially when the guy doing the deciding here is Pete Campbell with puffy cheeks.
Luck was one of three Texas players in Stanford's 2008 recruiting class. Harbaugh signed four each in 2009 and 2010 before leaving for the NFL. He moved around the state, getting players from Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.
And Brady Hoke… uh… not doing that.
The Wolverines have actually offered a surprising number of Texas players in the last four years according to 247Sports:
• 15 offers in 2015
• 9 offers in 2014
• 13 offers in 2013
• 11 offers in 2012
None of those players signed with Michigan, but that could start changing with Harbaugh.
I'm not sure how many of those offers were seriously pursued and how many were fired off hoping to induce a visit, but going 0-fer in Texas is some kind of problem. Which Michigan coach was assigned to one of the richest talent-producing states in the country?
A nine-year-old playing tackle football for the first time, Harbaugh stood at No. 7 in the tackling line, and immediately looked at the group of runners across from him to see who his No. 7 counterpart was.
He counted back, and saw the player he'd be forced to tackle.
"Ralph," Harbaugh recalled Friday afternoon during his speech to the Michigan High School Football Coaches Convention in Lansing. "So I said a prayer. I said 'dear lord, I know I'm only nine-years-old and I haven't asked you for a lot up until now. But please, dear lord, when I'm done with this, please do not let Ralph be No. 7.'
"Ralph was still there."
Landing spots. Roy Manning snags the OLB job at Washington State, making him the third former Hoke coach to find a Power 5 job. (Greg Mattison, who was retained, and Doug Nussmeier are the others.) Darrell Funk latched on at Akron, Dan Ferrigno at San Jose State, and nobody else is employed as of now. Al Borges was rumored to be getting the SJSU offensive coordinator job, but that was 1) contingent on Jimmie Dougherty getting a job at Michigan, which didn't happen and 2) reported only by Football Scoop.
I am reading lots about the coaching profession's opinion of Hoke's staff into this.
"We'd have to have a couple of major injuries," Beilein explained. "The only way that I'd play him right now is if I could look him in the eye and say, 'Listen, I think you'll play 15-20 minutes per game. That's what's fair to him right now."
Next year's "recruiting class" currently consists of Wilson and Williams transfer Duncan Robinson.
Michigan WR Devin Gardner: Gardner (6-4, 216) famously is making the switch from quarterback to wide receiver. He played wide receiver for half the 2012 season and didn't start focusing on the position again until early December, right after the Wolverines' season ended. "He got better and better each day," Jeremiah said. Gardner has good, not great, speed but can be elusive and has good hands, especially for a guy who has been a receiver for only about seven weeks. His size also is a big plus. He should become more acclimated to the position, and his pre-draft workouts could be quite interesting.
I didn't think much of his ability to find balls downfield when he was playing WR, but that's something time can fix. Also, for a 6'4" dude his speed is likely a plus.
…will not be allowed to charge more than 10 cents per page for copies of public records; they can face increased fines for delaying responses, and people seeking the records now can sue if they consider the fees to be exorbitant. …
Another change in the law requires governments to provide the records electronically instead of on paper if the requester seeks them in that format.
Damages have gone up significantly as well. This doesn't do anything about Michigan's retention policy being "we don't have one," unfortunately, but it's a step in the right direction.