Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Defense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2009 Defense

Submitted by Ace on June 10th, 2014 at 3:44 PM


oh boy

A couple summers ago, I delved back into the blogspot days to look at Brian's 2008 recruiting posts and how well players lived up to expectations. There were high points, like Mike Martin wrestling Not Mike Martin. These were accompanied by lows such as "Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit." The McGuffie mixtape was rewatched, wistfully.

I forgot to continue the series last summer, so I'm picking it back up with the 2009 class; conveniently, all the players from that class have completed their time in the program, so it's easier to give a fair retrospective on their careers. If you want to go back and look though the old posts yourself, the Tate Forcier profile features links to every player.

While that last link is a nice teaser for the offense portion of this exercise, today I'll be looking at the 2009 defensive recruits. Brace yourselves.

Never Forget

I'm gonna go ahead and get the defensive back portion of this post over with, as the four commits in the secondary were Vlad Emilien, Thomas Gordon, Justin Turner, and Adrian Witty. Emilien's projection was a harbinger of doom for U-M's future situation at safety:

Projection: Either sparing special teams time as a freshman or (hopefully) a redshirt. In 2010 will be a major threat to start at strong safety, though he might have to fight Brandon Smith to get a job.

Brian, today, on this quote: "I was so innocent then."

Smith moved to outside linebacker, then announced his intention to transfer near the end of the 2009 season, ending up at Temple and never doing anything of consequence there. Emilien followed a similar path, playing a little special teams as a true freshman, then transferring after the first game in 2010 when Jordan Kovacs put a death grip on the strong safety spot. He ended up as, yup, an outside linebacker at Toledo, where he made 15 tackles as a senior last year.

omg shirtless heroin-laced carrot

Witty never actually made it onto the team due to academic issues, eventually landing at Cincinnati, where he's the top returner in the secondary this year. Not getting him through admissions may be viewed as a recruiting failure, but in context, it was totally worth it:

Adrian Witty, a teammate of Denard Robinson, is Denard Robinson's teammate. On this team, which they share, they play together. Also, Witty and Denard Robinson attended the same high school. At this high school, they played on a team which they shared and played together on: they were teammates.

That should be clear. Many, many folks regard Witty's offer as the heroin-laced carrot used to lure critical QB recruit Denard Robinson away from Urban Meyer's clutches and to Michigan's post-apocalyptic frozen wastes.

Even though Witty would've been, at worst, the second-best defensive back in this class for U-M, there are no hard feelings here. We salute you, heroin-laced carrot.

The most hyped recruit in the class was Massillon, Ohio's Justin Turner, a top-35 overall player to both Rivals and Scout.* It wasn't hard to see what all the excitement was about:

That excitement only grew after Turner tore it up at Army All-American Game, to the point that his recruitment post led off with a discussion of one of those B/R "[touted recruit] is [football titan]" posts:

If you're measuring by delusional expectations of internet denizens, Justin Turner may be the #1 recruit in the universe. You've got to have an avalanche of hype for some guy to write an article saying you're Charles Woodson and get this response:

"Good article, but i see justin turner being faster then charles woodson. I also see turner being a better saftey the woodson was but woodson will be a better return man."

IE: "Good article about some high school senior being the reincarnation of the only defensive player to ever win the Heisman, but don't you think you're selling him a little short? Also I have no recollection of Charles Woodson's return abilities, which were pretty much crap aside from one white hot moment." (Yes, this exchange happened on Bleacher Report. Where else could it?)

Brian took the conservative tack, comparing Turner to... Marlin Jackson. Let's just move along.

The one defensive back to actually make a positive impact on the field at U-M, Cass Tech's Thomas Gordon, came in as a relatively anonymous recruit. He got Brandent Englemon for his "YMRMFSPA" and this projection:

General Excitement Level: Well… he is the lowest-ranked non-kicker in the class, and that's probably for a reason. 
Projection: Obvious redshirt and will likely require at least two years before he's ready to see the field on defense. The most likely (but by no means assured) outcome is that he doesn't contribute much.

Yes, it's possible for a Cass Tech recruit to exceed expectations.

[*ESPN was a skeptical outlier, listing him as their #21 athlete. Point, ESPN.]

Who?

At least Mike Jones provided us this picture.

On to the linebackers: Isaiah Bell, Mike Jones, and Brandin Hawthorne. Brian's assessment of Jones' potential almost nailed it:

General Excitement Level: Eh; I'm expecting one of the OLB recruts to pan out in a big way, one to be okay, and one to wash out. 

Instead, nobody panned out big. Bell washed out before annarbor.com died, Jones saw the field sparingly before playing his fifth year at Western, and Hawthorne topped out as a nickel linebacker.

I won't spend much time on these guys simply because there isn't a whole lot to talk about, but I will note that when a search for a player comparison goes like this, there's a pretty good chance you've got a serious tweener on your hands:

So he's just like Shawn Crable, if Crable was six to eight inches shorter. So he's just like Chris Graham, if Hawthorne was a stiff, clunky guy incapable of shedding blockers and not much for changing direction. He's not like either, actually. I mean, just look at the guy. Linebacker? In college? Er. There's a reason Hawthorne is well down in the rankings.

Brian suggested Hawthorne "may be better suited for a 3-3-5 than a more traditional D," and hoo boy did some bad memories just come flooding back. Quick, to the defensive line!

THORQWASH & The Crab Person


Between this and the legendary hood slide, we're all good, Big Will.

Justin Turner wasn't the only five-star recruit to the established recruiting sites to get some major skepticism from ESPN. Will Campbell's rankings went #35 overall (Scout), #26 overall (Rivals), and... #21 offensive tackle (ESPN). Another point for the Worldwide Leader. Like Turner, an outstanding Army game performance added to the hype, as did pictures like this...

...and, for entirely different reasons, this:

WE GOT THOR.

In retrospect, however, maybe we should've seen Campbell's future weight issues coming:

Campbell is one of the biggest players in the Army game, but he's apparently not ready for the roller coasters when the teams visit Six Flags on Tuesday night.

"There's a weight limit on those things," he said. "I might be on the tea cups."

Even though he didn't have the desired impact until a solid, though not five-star-caliber, senior season, Campbell always gave a hell of a quote. Brian's Gabe Watson comparison was pretty on point; though Big Will didn't come close to Watson's production, they were similar players—jovial, wildly talented, bull-strong, big fans of food—with similar hype coming to Ann Arbor. 

craaaaaaab people craaaaaab people

Michigan landed two defensive ends in the top-100 range in the class: Craig Roh (right) and Anthony LaLota. While Roh never became an edge-rushing terror, he managed to consitently produce and improve despite boucing between positions—not to mention different defensive schemes that didn't necessarily fit his skill set—for his entire career due to factors outside his control. This comparison both worked and, well, didn't work:

Why Shawn Crable? Crable was a 6'6" athletic terror with chicken legs who spent his Michigan career bouncing from DE to OLB and would have been the perfect player to slot in this spinner spot. Crable was also rated right around where Roh is. The comparison here is very tight.

The tweener aspect of the comparison was spot-on, but Roh ended up being a very different player from Crable, more disciplined and able to hold the point of attack but far less explosive off the edge.

As for LaLota, he received one of the most random YMRMFSPA comps in this blog's history:

Alain Kashama… except good!

Kashama was a total project at Michigan, coming in with little football experience—as did LaLota, who played just 12 games of organized football before hitting campus—before settling in as a reserve pass-rushing specialist, eventually totaling six career sacks.

That ended up being six more career sacks than LaLota recorded, as he transferred back to home-state Rutgers two weeks into his sophomore season, where he quit football to focus on his education after a move to tight end saw him buried on the depth chart.

We end with the class curveball, Quinton Washington, whom everybody evaluated as an interior offensive lineman—with most saying he had a ton of potential there, this blog included:

General Excitement Level: High. It's clear the coaches were nuts about this guy and he's got the offers and recruiting mojo to back it up. 
Projection: Though the coaches have suggested Washington might see the field this year—they think he's that ready—a redshirt makes more sense with Schilling's move inside solidifying the interior line. He'll have to fight Ricky Barnum to replace Moosman next year; if he loses that battle he'll be the odds on favorite to replace Schilling in 2011.

Steve Schilling, in fact, was his player comparison. Washington instead moved to nose tackle early in the 2010 season, worked his way into a starting role as a junior, earned the nickname QWASH, and gave the defense a proficient space-eater until his role mysteriously diminished last season.

The real answer is Roh, but one could make a reasonable argument that Michigan's most critical 2009 defensive recruit was a guy who never played a down for the Wolverines: heroin-laced carrot (seriously, Brian, how the hell do you come up with these things?) Adrian Witty.

Isaiah Bell Leaves Program

Isaiah Bell Leaves Program

Submitted by Brian on March 11th, 2012 at 10:53 PM

Liberty #4 Isaiah Bell takes off for a decent gain in first half action at Brookfield - chasing him is Brookfield  Taylor Broooks - blocking Taylor is #58 Anthony Gutierrez - robertkyosay

not with a bang

Mike Rothstein is reporting that LB/DE Isaiah Bell has left the program:

Michigan redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Bell is no longer with the football team, a Michigan spokesperson confirmed Sunday evening.

Bell never saw a snap at Michigan. Now that he's departed I can tell you that while he was still on the team this fall he was actually left out of fall camp because there's a roster limit there and Michigan thought it was better to spend that time on various walk-ons. He wasn't part of the plans going forward.

While his departure does technically open up another scholarship for Brady Hoke's monster 2013 class, he was one of the guys I was assuming would not return for a fifth year. It was already built into 20 that is the no-attrition baseline. So this is a non-event: a guy who wasn't going to play or take up space next year not being around is just like him being around.

Sail on, Isaiah. We'll always have your ludicrous ESPN scouting report.

Saturday Punting Demo Bits

Saturday Punting Demo Bits

Submitted by Brian on August 27th, 2011 at 2:57 PM

So the open practice on Saturday was not much use. They spent most of the day punting or kicking or running kneel-down drills. By the tenth kneel-down the boredom was crippling and I wished they weren't having it at all. I'd be surprised if it returned for a third year. I kind of hope it doesn't since I have to be there if it exists.

They did run about ten minutes of two-minute drill at the end. Impressions follow.

Ricky Barnum is injured. He dressed but did not participate; he's got a big ol' brace on his left knee. He was out there so it's probably not too serious. He might miss a week or two. In his stead Schofield drew in at guard. They initially played him at RG, moving Omameh to the left. The two Gs swapped positions late.

Raymon Taylor was also banged up and held out.

New numbers are confusing. That is all.

I don't think Isaiah Bell was out there. There was no 34 in white (defense). Unless he's just switched to a new number that would be a sign he might not be on the roster much longer. Either that or he's hurt, but Hoke just said they were basically healthy.

Woolfolk did position drills but did not play in the two-minute drill, FWIW. Bellomy didn't take any snaps.

The defense has a three-man-line rush package. We're going to see a Shafer-style okie package on passing downs with three linemen, four or five linebackers and DBs hovering over the opposing OL. The D zone-blitzed like mad from that unit, often dropping guys like Mike Martin into zones. The O did a pretty decent job of picking the blitzes up but Roh got in for a touch sack and Denard had to scramble around a bit.

Denard had a hard time finding receivers. A few crisp rhythm throws, a lot of ball-patting, scrambling, and difficult sideline improv throws. Not sure if that's on him or the WRs. Gallon twice ran comebacks that the quarterbacks expected to be fly routes, so they've got some pro-style sight reading in the O. Not functional sight reading, but sight reading nonetheless.

There was only one running play, a QB draw on the first snap that went for eight or so yards and would have gone for more if they weren't playing touch.

Non-Hagerup punters are C- types. It's not going to kill Michigan to have Hagerup out; the punting will be sub-average until he returns.

Gibbons hit a 42-yard field goal to finish. The crowd went wild.

Under center: not so much. There was no under center. Part of that is the two minute drill, but the passing skeleton was a 3x1 four-wide shotgun set as well.

Gallon didn't do anything horrible returning punts. So we've got that going for us. I still think Dileo should get a shot.

There are some weird players on the special teams units. Gunners included Vincent Smith and Fitzgerald Toussaint; Hopkins and Shaw were on the kickoff team. Junior Hemingway was one of the upbacks on the punt team. That's all of our fragile offensive skill players save Denard.

2009 Recruiting: Isaiah Bell

2009 Recruiting: Isaiah Bell

Submitted by Brian on March 3rd, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty and LB Mike Jones.

Youngstown, Ohio - 6'0" 209
Liberty #4 Isaiah Bell takes off for a decent gain in first half action at Brookfield - chasing him is Brookfield  Taylor Broooks - blocking Taylor is #58 Anthony Gutierrez - robertkyosay Scout 3*, #46 S
Rivals 3*, #26 OLB
ESPN 81, #11 S, #95 overall
Others #94 to Takkle.
Other Suitors WVU, Cinci
YMRMFSPA Prescott Burgess
Previously On
MGoBlog
Hello: Isaiah Bell
Notes Teammate of Toussaint. UA game participant.

Isaiah Bell's March commitment was one of Michigan's first of 2009. Bell was one of the few Midwestern recruits Rich Rodriguez had a pre-existing relationship with, and that relationship paid off:

"West Virginia was always one of my top choices, but then I found out coach Rod was leaving for Michigan, and that's what made them move up to No. 1 on my list," Bell said. "I remember it was real late at night and me and my family were up discussing which school was best for me and I said 'I'm going to sleep on it and when I wake up whatever college is on my mind, that's the school I'm going to commit to.' When I woke up, Michigan was there."

Offers as early as Bell's early usually indicate kids of significant talent, but he was just a random three-star safety/linebacker (and wide receiver and kick returner and punt returner) who happened to be the teammate of more exciting RB Fitzgerald Toussaint until ESPN saw fit to slather heaps of ridiculous praise on him:

I don't know if the "I" in Isaiah stands for interception or the "B" in Bell means big playmaker, but one thing for certain, this guy is a good football player. … Rules the secondary as a free safety. Has great instincts and plays outstanding zone coverage especially in the three deep. … A real competitor who can break a game wide open. … A magnificent kickoff return specialist … Can change direction without loss of speed or balance. Bell will be a big time player at a big time college. Just a little fundamental work is needed.

Emphasis mine: the laws of physics do not apply to Isaiah Bell! Get that weak shit out of here, physics!

Elsewhere in "ESPN loves Isaiah Bell":

  • Looked "good on the hoof" at his NIKE camp: "It's hard not to see a potential 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame in two or three years."
  • In ESPN's category rankings of safeties they declared it "astonishing" how someone Bell's size can play three-deep coverage; anyone who recalls the way the 2008 defense played underneath routes will be relieved to read this: "Besides quickness out of his break, he displays catch-up speed in running down receivers in the open field … he should be an excellent hook and curl defender."
  • ESPN would run a contentious chat later in the year that had a lot of questions like "Will Campbell and Justin Turner WTF?" from Michigan fans. Bell's name came up:

    As far as Bell goes -- we feel this is a kid with tremendous upside and a great blend of size, speed and ball skills at the safety position. He has a really long, rangy frame that has a ton of physical development left while retaining his good speed and athleticism.

  • In an article on ESPN 150 sleepers, he came in for major praise:

    Impressive now, but the No. 91-ranked player has a ton of upside projected to the next level, both physically and athletically. … His biggest recruiting dilemma, and perhaps the major root of his national obscurity, may be trying to figure out what position to play him. He rules the secondary as a free safety but is built more like an outside linebacker. His continued physical development should dictate eventual position and success. His great instincts and competitive nature will make him a valuable football player at the college level, regardless of position.

After all that, ESPN slotted Bell in their top 100 and gave him an invite to their All-Star game. Because obviously they had to.

Unfortunately, no one else thought much of him except "TAKKLE," which is associated with SI and rated him about where ESPN did. Takkle's been around for a few years now but I don't know how much credence to lend those rankings. I do tend to favor Scout and Rivals assessments, and as you can see above both were pretty meh on Bell.

Part of that may be position uncertainty, but Bell projects as an outside linebacker in college and impressed in that role during the UnderArmor game:

With the employment of a lot of Cover 3, this week's practice has showcased several safeties playing down in the box over slots -- and looking impressive. Black's Isaiah Bell (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) came into this game with a reputation for his great run-stopping skills, but he has surprised me with his ability to open his hips and turn and run with faster slots. On a few plays, Bell even mirrored a quicker Andre Debose (Sanford, Fla./Seminole) tightly out of his breaks and made plays on the ball.

Rivals also named him one of the best players on his team:

6-1/209, Youngstown (Ohio) Liberty
After struggling through the first practice and temporarily moving to linebacker, Bell found his rhythm starting on Day Two. A big safety, he was able to come up to the line of scrimmage and stop the run as well as cover the inside receivers. Though he could add some bulk and be a very good outside linebacker at Michigan, he has the instincts of a safety in the passing game. Sunday's game proved that as he finished second on the team with five tackles and also added a pass breakup. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

He slotted in just ahead of five-star all-everything QB Russell Shepard(!). Strangely, this impressive performance had zero impact on his ratings. He checks in as the #27 player in Ohio at Rivals, one slot below a guy going to Akron. He's not even close to getting a fourth star. So… top ten player at an All-Star game or not quite good enough to beat out a MAC prospect? I don't know.

Oh, hell, let's add one more log to the fire of confusion:

Simply put, Isaiah Bell is the best safety nobody is talking about.

He has the instincts of a linebacker against the run and is a very good sized safety. The 6-2, 215 pounds seems a bit on the small side. …

Bell has the wingspan of a lineman. In fact, I would not be surprised if he ends up growing into a linebacker. He has a nice frame and I have noticed these long limbed kids tend to fill out a good bit. He is big enough to take on blockers and still make plays but he is fast enough to make plays in the open field. Once he finds the ball, he closes like nobody’s business.

But Bell has such tremendous ball skills that he could just as easily be a free safety. He has the best ball skills I have seen from a projected safety in this class.

That's from Duane Long, an Ohio recruiting scout, in a blurb about the #29 player in the state. WTF.

So… yeah. Here's some video, you may as well make up your own mind. No one else is saying anything that makes sense.

As for yrs truly's opinion: I'm more excited about Bell than his ratings might indicate. In the new era of spread-mad football it's critical to have guys who can cover like Bell apparently can and not like, say, Johnny Thompson does. Or, more to the point, doesn't. No offense to Thompson; it's just he was born 20 years too late to be a linebacker. A guy with Bell's versatility could be a major asset if he pans out. Everything I've read on Bell is extremely positive, and there are more opinions out there than just that of sometimes-wack ESPN. I don't get the three-star ratings from Scout and Rivals given what even their analysts have said, and think Bell is one of the most underrated guys in the class.

Etc.: Google turns up weird stuff sometimes. Varsity Blue scouted a Liberty-Howland game in which Bell featured. He's got an NFL Draft Scout profile already?

Why Prescott Burgess? Bell isn't ranked anywhere near as high as Burgess, a consensus five-star recruit, was, but Burgess turned out to be somewhat overrated. In any case, both are Ohio safeties who are destined for OLB; Burgess was also pretty good in coverage. They're about the same size, too.

Guru Reliability: Low despite an All-Star appearance. There are two warring camps and no internal consistency with his ratings.
General Excitement Level: I think he's better than the three stars he's been awarded by the major sites outside of ESPN but he is definitely a project; I'd say high.
Projection: Redshirt, ,and then think he's the most likely of the OLB recruits to win a job early. High ceiling.

Monday Recruitin'

Monday Recruitin'

Submitted by Brian on January 12th, 2009 at 11:13 AM

There's a lot of news after an important official visit weekend, so it's back to Monday for the recruiting roundup.

Update 1/12: Linked articles on OH CB Mike Edwards (mention of OH OL Chris Freeman), SC OL Quinton Washington, FL CB Adrian Witty, MI DT Will Campbell, AZ DE Craig Roh, SC OL Quinton Washington, SC DE Sam Montgomery (two, three), OH LB Isaiah Bell, LA DT DeQuinta Jones, OH CB Mike Edwards (again), PA WR Je'Ron Stokes, PA LB Dan Mason, AL LB Tana Patrick, LA LB Barkevious Mingo, video of MI WR Cam Gordon.

Removed MD RB Tavon Austin (WVU), FL CB Mywan Jackson (UNC). Removed WR commit Dewayne Peace. Added OH WR Terence Davis.

VA QB Tajh Boyd: no. Are we recruiting DeDe Lattimore again?

AA Game highlights from Varsity Blue. ESPN revamped their rankings and the news is mostly good.

Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.

Big official visit weekend coincided with 8-12 inches of snow and, perhaps fortuitously, one of Michigan's traditions most likely to appeal to muscle-bound 17 year olds: a bigass snowball fight. Various posters participated; there's an MGoBoard thread. (Poster MGoAndy took one for the team in a delicate area, which sucks for him but hopefully means good things for the baseball team.) Barkevious Mingo was also spotted at the Saturday hockey game.

Anyway, on with the show.

Quarterbackin'

What say you, VA QB Tajh Boyd?

“They said they really need a quarterback and that I’d fit in really well and could play early,” he said. “I know it’s a big program, but I haven’t been looking into them much and don’t really know a lot about them or coach Rich Rodriguez. I’m really not considering them right now.”

Ah. You say "no." Moving on, then…

With rumors of a Eugene Smith visit proving unfounded the last real quarterback prospect Michigan has a shot at is FL QB/CB/WR Denard Robinson, who visited this weekend with teammate and FL CB Adrian Witty. Witty's got an offer now, and the hope is Michigan can sell the duo on a package deal:

“That’s a real good thing too, if we were both to go there, at least we’d know each other.  We wouldn’t feel left out.”

Given the number of open scholarships available and the situation at both QB and corner I'd take Robinson even if he cost two scholarships; getting a potentially useful guy at a position of need is a bonus.

Sam Montgomery!!!

SC DE Sam Montgomery is one crazy cat, man. As of a couple weeks ago Michigan was a solid fifth on an ordered list of favorites. Last week, Michigan was even-ish with LSU and North Carolina. This week:

Michigan will play host to Under Armour All-American defensive end Sam Montgomery (Greenwood, S.C./Greenwood) for an official visit this week and Montgomery said on Wednesday night that the Wolverines may have pulled ahead a little.

"I am really liking (Michigan) right now," Montgomery said. "But LSU is in there as well."

Wha? Time for party hats? NSFMF!

Montgomery said right now LSU and Tennessee are tied as his favorites.

Okay, no quote, but that's from Phil Kornblut, who's pretty reliable about these things over at PalmettoSports.com.

But wait! There's more confusion! Kornblut strikes again!

"I was impressed by the bond of the players. They were all family. I loved them to death. There's no selfishness. They are all on the same page. They are ready to win some games. And playing opportunity is there. I'm high on Michigan right now. They are two steps ahead of everybody. But I'll wait and make my decision after all the visits."

You're going to love my nuts!!! Head asplode!

Okay. Okay. Okay. WTF? Let's attempt to synthesize this:

  1. Montgomery says random things. Every year there are a few guys who either change their mind every two days or just enjoy the chaos they can cause with a quote; Montgomery is one of those guys. Michigan fans were introduced to him when he said something like "I'm from Detroit! I love Detroit!" in a recruiting article; his mom would later laugh that off with something like "that boy ain't from Detroit."

    Some crotchety folk might disdain this sort of showmanship, but I look on any Michigan recruit who might 1) be awesome and 2) give ridiculous, Irons-brothers-like quotes as a must-get. If his name lent itself to Mingo-stole-my-baby jokes I would cry if he went anywhere else.

    But the downside (given the very latest on his recruitment): any sort of lead Michigan might have is ephemeral.

  2. One thing that does help is the uncertainty at LSU. Though DL coach Earl Lane isn't officially out the door, LSU sort of  hired a guy to do his job. It would be awkward if Lane didn't, you know, do something else. And The Valley Shook is already talking like Lane is gone. There were a couple of damage control articles at LSU sites over the past few days in which Montgomery said more Things, but losing your recruiter is never a positive. All that stuff about LSU leading is at least doubtful.
  3. That is a really unambiguously "schwing" quote.

So. I think Montgomery is still more likely to end up at LSU or Tennessee or somewhere in the south than Michigan. If he gets through the next week without naming someone else his leader I'll feel much better; if he gets through an official visit without dropping a similarly schwing quote on another school I'll feel better still.

Jones on the roam

Elsewhere in uncertainty, LA DT DeQuinta Jones took a visit to Arkansas this weekend and offered up this less than reassuring quote:

"I'm still with [Michigan] right now, but I've been talking to my family," Jones said. "They've told me to make the best decision I can make for myself."

There is also this:

While Jones said distance to Ann Arbor, Mich., wouldn't be a factor in his decision, he said playing at Arkansas and in the SEC would allow his family to see him play more often and could factor into his decision.

As suggested earlier, Jones' commit is pretty soft.

Still more scouting

Last week's mondo scouting dump from the All-American games missed a couple stragglers. I thought OH LB Isaiah Bell wasn't going to get any traction from his showing at the UA bowl, but this may indicate otherwise:

After struggling through the first practice and temporarily moving to linebacker, Bell found his rhythm starting on Day Two. A big safety, he was able to come up to the line of scrimmage and stop the run as well as cover the inside receivers. Though he could add some bulk and be a very good outside linebacker at Michigan, he has the instincts of a safety in the passing game. Sunday's game proved that as he finished second on the team with five tackles and also added a pass breakup. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

Rivals rated him the #8 player on his team at the UA bowl, one spot ahead of ninja quarterback Russell Shepard(!). ESPN already liked him, and the UA game didn't change things. They said Bell "opened up everyone's eyes with his coverage ability." While there's no chance Bell passes Shepard in the actual rankings, it sound like he's due for another star.

Meanwhile, more praise for AZ DE Craig Roh, who Rivals named the #5 player on his team:

After a somewhat slow start to the week, the future Michigan Wolverine really turned things up. He is the definition of a pass-rushing defensive end. He was able to use his athleticism and quickness against the much larger offensive linemen throughout the week's practices and did not give the quarterbacks much time to throw. Roh also showed a bit of surprising strength in being able to bullrush the offensive tackles at times. He had one sack and three hurries in Sunday's game.

ESPN was impressed enough to move him into their top 50:

Michigan commit Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) had a great week in Orlando and proved to be a dangerous pass-rusher. He is smart and possesses a wonderful motor. He will need to add bulk to his frame once he hits Ann Arbor, but he is still tough versus the run. He is very good with his hands, and his spin and counter moves will make him a handful as a pass-rusher. Roh rose from No. 87 to No. 48.

With ESPN's inexplicable disses of Justin Turner and Will Cambpell, Roh's the highest-ranked Michigan commit to them. (It's clear ESPN had no one at the Army game, as every big mover in their top 150 attended the UA game. Cutting off their nose to spite their face there.)

AZ OL Taylor Lewan also rose in ESPN's rankings, ending up at the fringe of the top 150 (link ibid):

A late bloomer at the offensive tackle position this season is converted defensive lineman Taylor Lewan (Scottsdale, Ariz/Chaparral). Lewan, who wasn't initially on the radar, debuted in the ESPNU 150 at No. 147 thanks to his raw athletic talent and consistency in winning the vast majority of individual battles. He should be a very productive offensive lineman as he matures and his fundamentals sharpen.

Corners: yes-no-maybe, no (probably)

OH CB Mike Edwards named Tennessee his leader last week. This week, he claimed no leader…

"It looks like it will be Tennessee, Michigan or Cincinnati. I don't have a favorite. I've only visited Cincinnati."

…and then claimed Tennessee leader once more:

Tennessee solidified its standing as the top team on Mike Edwards’ list during an in-home visit from coach Lane Kiffin and running backs coach Stan Drayton on Thursday.

Or did he? That article contains no quote from Edwards to that effect, just a lot of boilerplate responses to stock questions. So, eh… eh? Eh. I call him mini-Montgomery.

Edwards will visit Michigan this weekend, at which point we'll have a much better feel for M's chances; at this point the declared Tennessee lead, even if it's been backed off on, seems convincing enough to me. And then there's the Glenville stuff. I'm slightly pessimistic here.

Meanwhile, this on FL CB Jayron Hosley is bad:

Jayron Knows Where He's Going

It is bad because Hosley just visited South Florida and that article comes from USFNation.com. The inescapable conclusion is that Hosley's headed to USF. He will still take the Michigan trip he has scheduled for next week. That's even more obviously a longshot than it was a few days ago.

It's even more likely now that Michigan takes a last-second flier on a corner with pretty meh offers.

Offensive linemen, once again

Everyone was very excited about man-mountain Chris Freeman earlier in the year, and since three of Michigan's teammates had just migrated from Trotwood-Madison to Michigan it looked like M had a pretty good shot. Then went months and months without much, if any, news on Freeman and now it looks like he and Michigan have parted ways:

"I know I want to go to Wisconsin, Missouri and Tennessee," Freeman said. "I'd like to get at least three visits in, but I don't know for sure. My favorite would be between Wisconsin and Tennessee."

That leaves Michigan with three shots at another OL in the class. One of them is SC OL Quinton Washington, who'll take a few visits and then decide:

Other programs have been working hard to establish similar relationships. They've also focused a great deal of effort on securing one of his remaining official visits. Three are now finalized -- Clemson this weekend, South Carolina on Jan. 17 and Tennessee on Jan. 24. According to Craig [Washington, Quinton's father], Michigan has set the visit-bar very high for those schools.

"I think for Michigan, being first was great," he said. "I am going to have schools that are going to have a lot of stuff to live up to. I don't know if anyone can do that. Honestly, I think Michigan has got just as good a chance as anybody right now."

Hard to parse that last quote: "I don't know if anyone can live up to his Michigan visit… they've got, eh, a chance." My general impression of the internet's general impression is that South Carolina is a slight favorite, but the internet isn't sure about that.

NC OL Travis Bond keeps waiting, but other schools aren't. Our semi-regular source on North Carolina recruiting chips in with this:

NC State is done with OL recruiting. They're out. Source said that Bond had been a silent commitment to UNC for a couple of weeks and would make it official after his 1/16 visit.

How in the hell UNC plans on fitting all these guys on campus, let alone in this recruiting class, remains unknown, but I'm sure it's totally on the up-and-up.

Finally, I have a well-elucidated stance on OH OL Marcus Hall: I will believe he is at Michigan when he is a redshirt sophomore living on Geddes. But I will point out that he did in fact take an official to Michigan and there is now a GBW article up from them asking "is there a new #1 for Hall?" and the answer to these questions is always yes. And then I'll point out that PA CB Corey Brown called Michigan his leader and then visited OSU and committed, surprising no one. Recruits will often shade their answers to please the person interviewing them. It's human nature.

But Bill Kurelic is a major Ohio State booster and, well:

Earlier today I posted the information about Marcus Hall after his visit to Michigan. Hall said the Wolverines may have pulled into a slight lead over Ohio State with Miami next.

Could this be something here? I'm not getting my hopes up but it's taking a bit more effort than it used to. One of the BuckeyePlanet mods says "think Campbell," FWIW, clearly implying that the shift in favorites is for drama only.

(Kurelic on a couple more visitors:

DE Sam Montgomery (S.C) told me Michigan is now in the race after his visit to Michigan, but he still has trips set to North Carolina, LSU and Tennessee.

QB Denard Robinson (Fla.) was impressed with Michigan, but did not commit. He says he is considering Michigan, Florida, Georgia and Kansas State.

Is that bad news on Montgomery since it's not as positive? Eh, maybe not, since the really good quote from Montgomery was given to a local reporter. It could be a representation of how negative Kurelic tends to be about Michigan and that means we're definitely getting Hall(!). Or it could just be way, way too much read into a random statement. (Hint: the latter.))

Stallworth, Stokes

LA WR Travante Stallworth also took a visit. Kornblut has an update but no quote, saying only his mother accompanied him and it was "a good time." MGoBlog's own Tom VanHaaren has a bit more:

I just talked to Travante Stallworth, and he was very excited about the visit. Terrence Robinson was his host, and thought he was a cool guy. Travante has seen snow before, and watched the snowball fight. He said the best part for him was how family oriented everyone was, especially the coaches. He felt very comfortable with all the players, and more importantly the coaches. …

He said that all the recruits that were there were all excited to be there, and they all had an awesome time. He said, "We all talked among ourselves about a few things," and he felt like the vibe was good.

I've been optimistic about Stallworth since Tom's interview earlier, but Auburn hired Gus Malzahn in the meantime—defying Chizik's previous claim to be a "smashmouth" devotee—and is a more serious threat than they were before.

Meanwhile, Penn State is also chasing nominal Tennessee commit and PA WR Je'Ron Stokes but this doesn't sound too promising for their chances:

Stokes will make official visits to Michigan the weekend of Jan. 16 and Illinois the weekend of Jan. 23.

“I’m going to try and squeeze in Penn State,” Stokes said.  “I won’t take more than four visits.  The other school is Georgia, but right now it looks like Penn State will be the fourth visit if I take a fourth one.”

On the other hand, that does sound pretty good for Michigan. Stokes seems leery of Tennessee now they've dumped both their quarterback recruits—and have no one in last year's class to boot—which would leave Illinois as the only real competition if Stokes doesn't take a fourth visit.

Etc.: Yet another Campbell commit article. PA LB Dan Mason (no offer) "pretty much down to Pitt and West Virginia". No mention of M in this article on AL LB Tana Patrick. LA LB Barkevious Mingo has a coach; said coach believes he's going to LSU.

Army/Underarmor Game Roundup

Army/Underarmor Game Roundup

Submitted by Brian on January 6th, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Oh my God. Three things combined to make this past week the most frenetic in MGoBlog recruit-trackin' history: Will Campbell, the rise of the UA game as a thing you have to pay attention to, and a flood of articles released for free on both games. Today I'm going to dump about 5k words on recruiting on you; I've split things up into two groups.

This is group one: scouting reports and impressions from the seven committed recruits who participated in All-American festivities over the past week. (There were actually eight but the Will Campbell stuff went in the Will Campbell post.) Group two is a standard, if mondo, version of Tuesday Recruitin'. That's later today.

OL Taylor Lewan

Rivals' Barton Simmons on AZ OL Taylor Lewan:

Lewan's body is still developing but it looks like he has the ability to really be a great offensive tackle. He is lean right now but is extremely long and looks like he has the ability to add weight. Lewan uses his hands well, stays back in his pass set and has the feet for tackle. Lewan will have an extremely high ceiling as he gets stronger and bigger in a college weight program.

Another take from the same guy:

It's hard not to like Lewan's potential at tackle. He is light in the pants right now and he's going to need a couple of years to develop in a college weight program but once he does, he has shown that he has some terrific tools to utilize. Lewan is an athletic tackle with a long frame who looks to be every bit of 6-7. He has good feet and balance and as he gets more weight behind him to allow him to handle power moves, he will be a tough matchup for any pass rusher.

Barry Every's (very similar) take:

ASSETS: Excellent height, long arms, and really athletic feet.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to gain at least 25 to 30 pounds in order to become an effective run blocker.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: His lateral movement and natural knee bend was probably the best of all the linemen on the White team.
CONCLUSION: Lewan has the ideal frame for the strength coaches at Michigan to work with. Lewan is almost definitely redshirt material, but after that watch out. The sky is the limit for this long armed mauler.

This is a consistent chorus: needs a redshirt and might need two years—when he's a redshirt freshman Schilling and Dorrestein will be seniors anyway—but has major upside.

Scout's Brandon Huffman:

"The first person that I saw that really stood out to me was Taylor Lewan," said Scout.com West Coast Regional Manager Brandon Huffman. "You look at him and you see a guy that is really reminiscent of Jake Long. He's ridiculously athletic. I saw him for the first time at a combine back in May. Physically he is as impressive an offensive lineman as you'll see in the country."

ESPN noted a practice battle between Lewan and Oklahoma commit Justin Chaisson, who had two sacks in the game itself:

It was an athletic draw between White offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and White defensive end Justin Chaisson (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) during one-on-one pass rushing drills, as both players showed great feet and quickness.

On the downside, Lewan's inexperience and lack of size were occasionally mentioned:

First-year offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) has exciting upside. Still, his limited experience -- he played D-line for most of his prep career -- is being exposed at times against this level of competition.

All told, it sounds like Lewan was better than expected and should be moving up somewhat in revised rankings.

DE Craig Roh

Every again:

ASSETS: High energy guy that plays with passion. He also has incredibly low pad level at the point of attack.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to add at least 25 more pounds to be an effective run stopper in the Big Ten.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Roh was really quick off the edge and took advantage of the fact that there was no real left offensive tackle on the White team.
CONCLUSION: Roh has a lot of upside but is most likely a redshirt candidate that needs to get bigger and stronger in the Wolverine weight room in 2009.

Some practice notes from ESPN have an approving mention:

Playing next to Brown, Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) has been very disruptive this week with his inside spin move. The heady defensive end showed a nice counter of that by coming back to the outside and having good success against offensive tackle Stavion Lowe (Brownwood, Texas).

Roh then went out and was perhaps the most impressive player in the UA game not named Matt Barkley:

Top Playmaker

TEAM WHITE: Craig Roh – The Michigan commit was constantly pressuring the quarterback. He is great off the edge, he has a big time spin move, and he never slows down until the play is officially dead. He will need to add weight and strength to become better against the run, but he is a pass rush specialist that could make an early impact in Ann Arbor.

Rivals' Jamie Newberg echoed those sentiments:

Roh got better as the week of practice progressed. He had a big first half. Once he gains some size to his frame, watch out.

And the Texas bloggers at Barking Carnival had no reason to mention a kid from Arizona going to Michigan but did anyway:

Craig Roh DE (Michigan)
Straight baller that showed a Dwight Freeney spin on Kelley for a sack and sacked/tackled Russel Shepard in space. Had a handful of QB pressures over the course of the game. Rich Rod got himself a good one.

Roh's pad level was repeatedly mentioned, as he has a unique stance in which he set himself up at nearly the offensive lineman's knees and shoots forward at the snap, which sets up his spin move as OLs are terrified of letting Roh outside of him.

Overall: sounds like a major leap forward for Roh, possibly into the latter half of top-100 lists that he's not too far outside of now.

DE Anthony LaLota

Every:

ASSETS: Excellent height, great frame and long arms.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Really needs to work on pad level at the point of attack. He cannot get by on size and strength alone against this level of competition.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Seems to be a high-effort guy that really wants to get better as a defensive end.
CONCLUSION: Most likely a redshirt candidate next season as he continues to learn his position and acclimate to playing against stiffer competition. His excellent frame is meant for long-term success.

…and that's all, really. LaLota didn't do much in the Army game, and while that's nothing approaching definitive not standing out means he's probably ranked a little high. There was a Lichtenfels mention that he was a "stock down" guy, but that's behind a paywall.

Lalota may slip some in the revised rankings but shouldn't see his fourth star threatened.

WR Jeremy Gallon

Gallon had a very good week despite being the leetlest man in all the land.

Gallon's coach this week is Terry Smith, who you may remember from the Justin King recruiting saga, and he's big (ha!) on Gallon:

At wide receiver, Michigan commit Jeremy Gallon has been far and away the most productive receiver. He has touchdowns catches in each of the practices and has a knack for getting open and sneaking behind the defense. At 5 feet 8, Gallon is small enough to creep through openings and then pop open for the pass.

"He's a pleasant surprise," Smith said. "We knew he was a good athlete but making the adjustment to receiver was always a big question mark. He's scored touchdowns in every practice and he seems to have the knack to get open and make the play."

When Gallon committed out of nowhere he was in the Rivals 100 because one particular analyst (Barry Every) was over the moon about him. He dropped out soon after for good reasons—he's a smurf and he projects to a position he didn't really play in college—but maybe his strong performance in the slot this week sees him re-enter; he's definitely due for a jump up the Scout rankings, where he's a three-star.

Scout's Bob Lichtenfels' take (warning: "stud" deployment):

"I think Gallon is a stud," Lichtenfels said of the 5-9, 175-pound pass-catcher from Apopka, Fla. "I think for Rich Rodriguez, that's the next Darius Reynaud. He doesn't have elite speed, but his quickness and shiftiness is just out of sight."

Gallon was named "best after the catch" by Rivals, which isn't surprising since he was the only slot guy in attendance, and the #10 player on his team:

Gallon was the star of practices all week and was effective in the scrimmage and during the game itself. He is tiny but he has great quickness and he is smart. He knows how to find space between the cornerback and the safety and catches almost everything thrown his way. He'll be a slot receiver at the next level and will be hard to cover, using his lack of size to his advantage.

Gallon's height will always give people an easy out when it comes time to rank someone else ahead of him, but he answered a lot of questions about his ability to play receiver over the week and should be seeing a bump.

CB Justin Turner

Perhaps the weekend's most encouraging development outside of William Campbell's commitment was the excellent play of OH CB Justin Turner. Though Turner got beat by Pat Patterson for a touchdown, he followed that up with a spectacular diving interception at the sideline. More importantly, during the practices he established himself as one of the best corners at the game. That's important, as if Turner struggled and looked like a future safety Michigan would currently have zero committed corners in a year they need two and would probably take three if they can find enough guys they like.

Rivals put him on his team's "hot 11" for his performance during the game:

Turner is a big corner who can move and support the run and he was all over the field in the game. He led the East with seven tackles, had a big interception and helped keep the ever-dangerous Rueben Randle from breaking any big gains. He's a rarity with his combination of size, speed and ball skills at his position.

Lichtenfels again:

"He's a guy from day one that I lobbied for as one of the top four or five safeties in the nation. I actually think after watching him this week that he can play corner. His skill set is just (unique). He can play safety, he's great in coverage, and he'll come up and he'll hit you. He could play cover corner in the Big Ten easily. Every coach in the country wants a guy that's 6-2 and can cover."

Turner was named the #8 player on his team by Rivals:

Turner is a big kid who was forced into playing cornerback for the East and did a very solid job all week. In the game itself he showed off his tackling ability and ball skills and showed he's either going to be a rare corner who supports the run well or a ball-hawking safety who isn't afraid to come up and hit. Either way Michigan gets a steal.

I don't know about "steal," since Turner had offers from Ohio State and many others early, but I'll take a good player. He was also named the #2 tackler at the entire Army Bowl by Rivals.

K Brendan Gibbons

Gibbons was 3/4 on extra points, with the miss a blocked one due to a combination of a poor hold (from Jeremy Gallon of all people) and a missed assignment, and 1/2 on field goals from 35 (the make) and 46. His kickoffs were long, though.

Kickers don't get much attention, but Gibbons did get a scouting report from an unusual source: NJ OL Eric Shrive, a Penn State commit and Army teammate:

Michigan lost kicker Anthony Fera when he decommitted and signed with Penn State a few months back. But Shrive says the Wolverines landed on their feet in the kicking department. Brendan Gibbons is the East kicker, and Shrive said he was teeing the ball up at the opposite 45-yard line and booting the thing through the uprights and onto the running track beyond the field. That's a 65-yarder with some distance to spare.

"Our kicker is nasty," Shrive raved.

Kickers remain a crapshoot; at the very least Gibbons looked the part.

OLB Isaiah Bell

ESPN is much higher on Bell than either Rivals or Scout and they were the only service to mention Bell this week. Here's a small bit from the UA practices:

With the employment of a lot of Cover 3, this week's practice has showcased several safeties playing down in the box over slots -- and looking impressive. Black's Isaiah Bell (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) came into this game with a reputation for his great run-stopping skills, but he has surprised me with his ability to open his hips and turn and run with faster slots.

Put thoughts of safety from your mind, as Bell showed up at 205 and should push 220 by his sophomore year: dude is a linebacker. But he may be one of a new breed of S/LB hybrid sorts that alternate between run-stuffing and covering slots and so forth.

Overall

My guess as to the relative stock levels of the guys performing:

  • STOCK UP: Lewan, Gallon, Turner, Roh
  • STEADY: Campbell, Bell, Gibbons
  • STOCK DOWN: LaLota

If the impressions gleaned here are accurate, that's a net uptick in Michigan's recruits with impressive performances from Turner, Roh, and Gallon outweighing the slight disappointment from LaLota. That goes double because LaLota's relatively new to football and most pundits still said he had excellent upside. We'll see when the rating services release their final revamp for the class of 2009 in a couple weeks.

Monday Recruitin'

Monday Recruitin'

Submitted by Brian on September 1st, 2008 at 2:03 PM

Update 9/1: Linked to articles on MI WR Dion Sims, NJ DE Anthony LaLota, CA QB Tate Forcier (second), FL LB Brandin Hawthorne, SC DE Chris Bonds, FL CB Mywan Jackson, SC DE Sam Montgomery, AZ DE Craig Roh, CA OL Michael Philipp, TN CB Marsalis Teague, MI WR Cameron Gordon, video of OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, picture I am going to use whenever MI DT Will Campbell is mentioned. Moved FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith to committed. Moved CA QB Tate Forcier to committed. Some links from Varsity Blue.

Video flood: FL WR Jeremy Gallon smokes Seabreeze, Fitzgerald and Toussaint against Niles, Bryce McNeal and DeDe Lattimore. Varsity Blue rounds up the high school action from Michigan commitments.

Do we really have an offer out to this guy?

Removed SC S DJ Swearinger (Tenn), MD CB Travis Hawkins (dropped us), MA OL Brennan Williams (dropped us), FL RB Jamaal Berry (OSU).

 

Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. I’ll cover the commitments in separate googlestalking posts over the next few days. As far as the guys who are uncommitted or already in the fold…

This is the most important thing you’ll see in this post:

campbell-thor

That’s wholly shirtless DT commit Will Campbell dressed up like Thor. I wish I could say this was some sort of surprise, but prep photographers get super bored from time to time and take the opportunity to make athletic guys who get all the girls dress up like goofs.

Meanwhile, my optimism re: MA OL Brennan Williams was ill-founded as he’s dropped M and plans to stay on the east coast—Varsity Blue wins this round. That’s a damaging blow for Michigan’s hopes for another high profile offensive lineman in the class; at the moment there is no one on the board that seems particularly likely to end up at Michigan. Michigan’s not graduating any OL this year and just took six, so the need is not critical; another decent prospect would be nice.

Elsewhere, there’s been some movement on the defensive ends we all crave. CA DE Craig Roh made an official visit for the Utah game and now Scout has an article indicating in the header that his decision will be coming shortly($). He likes Barwis, as all defensive ends should:

"He's out-of-this-world good," Roh said of Michigan's new conditioning guru. "He was the most impressive strength and conditioning coach I've seen. He's very outside the box. They don't just do ordinary lifting, and that really impressed me."

Roh explained the strength gains of one of Michigan's defensive ends.

"He weighed like 280 and benched like 300," Roh said. "(Barwis) stripped him down to 240 and built him up back to 270. Then he could bench 400 or something like that. That was just in five months! If you make those kinds of gains you are obviously doing something right."

Roh’s taken a second visit and is now accelerating his timetable, which either indicates 1) Michigan is it or 2) Michigan was the only school that might hypothetically snatch him from USC’s clutches and they didn’t quite get it done. They’re definitely in his top two. The premium sites have differing levels of optimism here; we’ll see.

Meanwhile, NJ DE Anthony LaLota was impressed by his visit and has decided to push out his commitment timeline until he takes in some official visits. Previously, he was planning to commit immediately after his unofficial to Michigan. Thoughts on his trip:

"It's a great place," he said of Ann Arbor. "The Big House is great and the atmosphere there is a lot of fun. I also love their tradition and history of winning.

"They are known for winning and I think they'll be great under coach Rich Rodriguez," LaLota said. "He's been a very successful coach and did great at West Virginia and I think he'll continue at Michigan. I don't think they'll have a bad season."

LaLota also plays on the offensive line, but says the Wolverines and others are recruiting him for defensive end. "They said that I need to come prepared because there's a good chance I could play early there," he said. "I really like how they always seem to prepare their players well for the next level."

Elsewhere in that article he has nice things to say about Rutgers and Notre Dame; Boston College, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State are noted as the best campuses he’s been to; previous Virginia was thought to be in strong position for him. Add it up and LaLota’s future destination remains extremely murky.

SC DE Sam Montgomery is close to narrowing down his favorites and Michigan didn’t get a mention in the Kornblut article detailing his process. But hey, he likes Yankee talkin’:

I like to keep you guys guessing," he said. He did say that he is getting a better idea of where he plans to take his official visits and that South Carolinians may be pleased with his choices. This summer, Montgomery visited UNC and NC State. He liked both schools. "North Carolina is a great school. They really impressed me. They have a great atmosphere and I fell in love with John Blake." He also spoke highly of NC State. "I liked their coaches and their accents. They talk like people from up north. They acted like really want to win." Sam says he still wants to visit LSU and Miami but has not decided if these will be official or unofficial visits.

Paging Scott Shafer’s Midwestern brogue on line one. Montgomery’s previously claimed Michigan was an official visit on the docket. Optimism here is low; he appears ticketed for somewhere closer to home even with the weird affection for northern non-accents.

Fellow SC DE Chris Bonds has Michigan in his top six along with USC, the other USC, ND, Alabama, and Tennessee and looks upon Michigan junior Adam Patterson as something of a role model:

Bonds remembers watching Patterson choose Michigan over South Carolina in January 2006.

“Adam, he was a cool dude,” Bonds said. “I was a young guy. He was an old guy. Good role model. Adam would always tell me, ‘Just don’t let it get to you. No matter where you go, if it’s here or its Alaska or Hawaii, just don’t let it get to you.’ “

That list looks set up for a full slate of official visits plus some unofficial ones to the local school; Bonds has yet to tip his hand about where he’s leaning. He’s also got former teammates at Notre Dame and South Carolina.

Meanwhile, FL CB Mywan Jackson seemed on the verge of a commitment before a visit to Auburn with teammates gave him pause. He now plans a full slate of official visits; Michigan appears to be the team to beat:

Jackson took unofficial visits to all of his finalists except Illinois and South Carolina this summer. His trip to Michigan is the one that stood out. Jackson described the school as being "a wonderful place."

A versatile talent, Jackson (6-foot, 178 pounds) said Auburn and Michigan have told him they would give him a shot to play quarterback. His other finalists have him projected to play cornerback. Either scenario is fine with Jackson.

"I'd give (QB) up," he said. "I just want to get on the field."

UNC and Louisville are the other two finalists along with M, Auburn, Illinois, and the Other USC.

Video! Plenty of highlights from the first week of high school action. Liberty crushed Niles behind impressive performances from Fitzgerald Toussaint and Isaiah Bell:

FL WR Jeremy Gallon went flapjack nuts against a Seabreeze team that was 12-1 last year and features Michigan safety prospect Jonathan Scott, though Scott didn’t play, running for 304 yards and four touchdowns in Apopka’s blowout opening night win. (Video.)

There’s also this fluffy bit on GA LB Devekeyan “DeDe” Lattimore:

I think Michigan will fade for Lattimore, as they already have 3 or 4 linebacker commits in the class with the recent addition of Brandin Hawthorne and the potential moves of either or both of their safety commits.

Etc.: Michigan and MI LB/WR Cameron Gordon appear to have little mutual interest. MI TE Dion Sims is still leaning towards college basketball; he just tore his ACL and is done for the year.