Wednesday Presser 11-8-17: Greg Frey

Wednesday Presser 11-8-17: Greg Frey

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 9th, 2017 at 6:58 AM

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[Chris Cook]

“How’s everybody doing?”

Good. How are you?

“Getting cold.”

What have you seen from some of the younger guys at tackle, Stueber, some of those guys?

“They’re doing really well. That transition of coming from high school to college is going really good. You’re seeing them move around do things more natural now than six weeks ago, seven weeks ago, so really excited about the young group. There’s a good group and it’s going to be fun to watch them continue to grow and compete and prepare and the whole nine yards.”

Is that typically a pretty big transition coming from high school to college as an offensive lineman?

“Oh yeah, absolutely.”

What’s been the difference for Juwann [Bushell-Beatty]? He started out no. 2, now he’s in there moving people.

“Juwann’s—he’s really maturing in just his outlook and how he goes and it’s been really fun to watch and interesting to see, like you said, overcome some adversity early on and continue to battle and continue to press. Certainly not where we want him to be or where he feels he can be but I think he’s on that road and it’s been really fun to watch.”

He’s been moving people. Is the pass pro part still where you’re really—

“Yeah, it’s always because every defense presents different challenges, and so as a group and watching these guys, they’re attacking those challenges. Still making some mistakes. There’s still some things we’ve got to get where maybe a guy gets anxious or something happens where we’ve got to calm him down a little bit but he’s solidly moving forward to become what we think he can become.”

[After THE JUMP: how Frey approaches TEs, updates on Hudson, Newsome the player/coach, and a Maryland scouting report of sorts]

Preview 2017: Defensive Tackle

Preview 2017: Defensive Tackle

Submitted by Brian on August 30th, 2017 at 1:48 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End.

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in ur base [Eric Upchurch]

  Depth Chart
STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. 3-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Rashan Gary So. Bryan Mone Jr.* Maurice Hurst Sr.* Chase Winovich Jr.*
Carlo Kemp Fr.* Aubrey Solomon Fr. Mike Dwumfour Fr.* Luiji Vilain Fr.
Ron Johnson Fr.* James Hudson Fr. Donovan Jeter Fr. Kwity Paye Fr.

Here too the departures don't really start to bite until you dig down into backup snaps. Mo Hurst was the best interior DL on the team last year and one of the best in the nation despite being a very nominal backup; Bryan Mone was productive late and as a fourth-year player with plenty of recruiting and post-recruiting hype he projects as an above-average starter.

Backup snaps do happen, especially when your starting nose is a mountain, and those are all going to freshmen. The right kind of freshmen, at least.

NOSE TACKLE: TONGAAAAAAAAA

Rating: 4

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splat [Upchurch]

Now is the time for BRYAN MONE [recruiting profile] after two injury-hampered years. He missed the entirety of 2015 and went down in the opener last year. While he did return, he saw scanty snaps behind ironman Ryan Glasgow. When he did get in his play was indifferent for much of the season.

This was quite a comedown. Mone was famously—or infamously, depending on how this year goes—named one of Michigan's best three players at the dawn of Harbaugh's first season by the man himself:

"He was one of our top players last year. We ranked the team going into training camp from one to 125 and Mone was three."

That's a great googly moogly right there. At the time it would have been totally rad if Mone was one of Michigan's three best defensive linemen, let alone players. Mone was so hyped up that last year's edition of this post had a fusty paragraph about how you should stop bothering the author when he projects Ryan Freakin' Glasgow as the starting NT.

One thing is for certain: Mone is a tank. Here's the starting DL:

mone-weight_thumb

Gary says he's 288, and Hurst is probably pushing 300. Mone has 30 pounds on those guys—maybe more. That could be good; it could be bad. It's probably fine. Last year he told Scout that he was 330 when he was hewed down the first time, i.e. at maximum hype volume. He can play at that weight. He probably can't play as much as Glasgow, though, and given Michigan's depth that's a little concerning. Michigan's saving grace may be the fact that if an opponent wants to test Mone's endurance first they'll have to stay on the field.

As befits a tank, when Mone got on the field he did one thing consistently: clobber single blocking backwards. He did it early, against Hawaii, midway through, against Rutgers, and late, against Ohio State. He personally kicked OSU off the field on a second-quarter drive, first shedding a block from freshman Michael Jordan to set up a third and short:

And then whoopin' Isaiah Prince to force a punt:

He returned to the bench soon after that because Glasgow was still around; he'd made his point. A healthy Bryan Mone is going to pick up opposing offensive linemen and dump them in someone's lap.

With the talent around him Mone's main job is to demand double teams. Early returns are positive there, obviously. Mone demonstrated his clobbering last last year and when Michigan provided a glimpse into this year's version of the Oklahoma drill he did it again:

he's battling Cesar Ruiz FWIW

Yeah, the running back went around the carnage; Greg Mattison doesn't care one bit about that, as his reaction to Mone's bulldozer approach demonstrates. If Mone deposits an interior OL yards in the backfield the linebackers will clean up for him.

He's not Glasgow. He's not going to be much of a pass rusher—he pretty much does the same bull rush thing no matter what—and he's not going to force the QB to pitch on speed option. That doesn't mean he can't be effective in his own way. Mone is in fact perfect for this DL, which is stacked with one-gap pass rush terrors already and could use a beef machine.

Mone needs to draw and then stand up to doubles; his ability to do so is still somewhat in question. Mone got blown out some last year. Sometimes he was not:

Mone is the player just below the box, not the player in the box

How much the injury was responsible for that, and how much Michigan can expect him to improve at full health, is unknown. FWIW Webb asserted Mone was "never 100% last year and it showed."

Fall chatter has been positive, thought not incessant. Webb:

Bryan Mone is looking like the pre-injury Mone… He not just a space eater. Right now he is making plays.

JT Rogan:

"I've just seen a lot of really great things out of Bryan Mone. I've seen power, I've seen quickness, and I've seen speed. I think I have seen what Michigan fans had hoped to see for a couple of years now."

Hurst told the media that Mone is "by far one of the best nose tackles I've seen play" at Michigan. He's been locked in as a starter just like everyone else, and radio silence there is just fine.

Mone certainly has the attitude necessary. When they asked him where he was playing a year ago he answered enthusiastically:

"Strictly nose, baby! I enjoy playing nose. It's the gutter! You've got to play like you're in the gutter. Really me and Glasgow started that. We call each other 'the gutter boys.' That's our motto: play like we're in the gutter."

[After the JUMP: Mostly freshmen; also one 300-pound jetpack person.]

Preview 2017: Offensive Line

Preview 2017: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2017 at 4:07 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends.

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traaaaaaaaain [Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart


LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Mason Cole Sr. Ben Bredeson So. Patrick Kugler Sr.* Mike Onwenu So. Jon Runyan Jr So.*
Andrew Stueber Fr. Stephen Spanellis Fr.* Cesar Ruiz Fr. Chuck Filiaga Fr. Juwann Bushell-Beatty Jr.*
Grant Newsome So.* Andrew Vastardis Fr.* Phil Paea Fr. Joel Honigford Fr. Nolan Ulizio So.*

[Ed. note: Newsome is actually a true junior but we are assuming he redshirts this season so the listed year is more accurate spiritually. Also Paea is probably a DT this year but I ran out of OL anyone's heard of.]

Michigan lost three starters to graduation and will be without left tackle Grant Newsome after his scary injury midway through last season. And… eh. By the time the graduated had played out their eligibility it was clear that there wasn't much anyone could do to turn them into a crew of firebreathers. Ben Braden (-9.4 to PFF) was willing but the very definition of stiff. Kyle Kalis(-6.3) was a missed assignment machine to the last. Erik Magnuson(+9.1) was a solid player but never an impactful one. None were drafted, and they collectively plateaued three years ago:

Year Adj Line Yards Opportunity Rate Power Success Stuff Rate Adj Sack Rate
2013 118th 11th 120th 126th 112th
2014 50th 55th 32nd 67th 72nd
2015 53rd 107th 50th 33rd 13th
2016 64th 82nd 50th 81st 28th

Advanced line stats are a bit wonky because they also depend on the running back and style of offense, but the whole set tells a story. That story: mediocre players hitting their ceiling.

At some point it was clear they were playing mostly because Michigan didn't have any alternatives. When Newsome went out there was a brief dalliance with Juwann Bushell-Beatty at left tackle that went so poorly that Michigan flipped Braden out and brought in a true freshman in his stead. Everyone else other than Patrick Kugler, who was stuck behind Mason Cole, was some flavor of freshman as well.

So, they're gone and the replacements are incapable of voting. It's the end of the Hoke as we know it, and I feel fine. Except about the Newsome thing. That sucks.

TACKLE: COLE AND THE RANDOS

RATING: 2.5.

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there and back again [Eric Upchurch]

Last year MASON COLE moved to center because it was clear he was not a tackle. This year he returns to tackle because it's clear nobody else is.

Despite the somewhat awkward fit with Cole's body type, this foray should be mostly successful. At tackle, Cole was a near-elite run blocker, capable of overpowering and outmaneuvering defensive ends and linebackers. At center Cole's lack of oomph left him vulnerable to planet-sized nose tackles he couldn't move and gents like Malik McDowell who just wanted to bulldoze him.

Cole was better at the mental aspects of being a center. At the same time he was getting plowed by McDowell he was instrumental when MSU turned to their double A gap twist blitz. That blitz bedeviled Michigan for years under less competent coaches; Cole (and Harbaugh) throttled it:

The trademark MSU defensive playcall was comprehensively beaten. Finally. All of these plays feature the extreme aggression of the MSU linebackers being used against them, something that Michigan hasn't been able to do in forever. Can't block 'em? Run right by 'em.

The line just about maintained its very good adjusted sack rate with Cole at center despite suffering an injury to Newsome they simply could not afford. A large part of that goes back to Cole's ability to make the line calls. Bredeson's freshman biffs aren't on Cole's ability to organize, and Michigan was pretty dang organized in pass pro:

Zone running not so much, but more about that in Five Question and Five Answers. Michigan's frustrating inability to identify first level blocks on stretch plays all but removed those from the offense, so we never got to see if Cole could get his David Molk on. Getting a reach block is really hard and really good if you manage it and Cole had some promising upside in that department that never came to fruition.

[After THE JUMP: LARGE ADULT SONS, except not quite adult.]

2017 Recruiting: James Hudson

2017 Recruiting: James Hudson

Submitted by Brian on July 14th, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain, DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea.

Toledo, OH – 6'5", 295

                     009d548c-5433-476c-a54e-a50ffb970df9              

Scout 4*, #273 overall
#15 DT
Rivals 4*, #240 overall
#8 SDE, #9 OH
ESPN 4*, NR         
#30 DE, #14 OH
24/7 4*, #109 overall
#8 DT, #2 OH
Other Suitors MSU, UL, Neb, UK, PSU, Iowa
YMRMFSPA Willie Henry
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Committed to UK real early and then bailed, as one does.

Film

Senior:

In late August, James Hudson was a composite three star Kentucky decommit picking between Michigan and Michigan State without much other interest from top-end schools. In the days leading up to his commitment there was a lot of conflicting information about whether Hudson was even a "take" for Michigan, and your correspondent was… well, he kind of wanted to keep the spot open for guys with more whizbang.

Sometimes your correspondent is dumb. Hudson was indeed a take; Michigan took him, and then he blew up.

For real:

Hudson, who played both defensive end and offensive tackle, had 80 tackles, including 34 for a loss, and eight sacks as a senior. He helped lead Central Catholic to a 13-1 record with the lone loss coming in a state semifinal.

I've seen a lot of silly high school stats. 34 TFLs as a (mostly) 3-4 DE is way out there, man. His senior film above explains a lot. That is a very large man running through and around people. When I watch tape I'm not looking for technique. I'm looking for guys who shouldn't be able to move like that. Hudson shouldn't be able to move like that. And yet.

Senior year Hudson was a new man. Evaluations from before his senior year questioned his ability to stick on D despite being, like, Kentucky-related:

There is a question about explosion off the football, and that is probably why Kentucky sees him as an inside defensive player. People also think he will eventually have to move to the offensive line because he might be a tweener on defense.

Josh Helmholdt and Rivals liked him enough ("great football frame … huge kid but he's very athletic at that size") to put him in their top 250 despite Hudson's tendency to fade out of games:

"He absolutely took over the [Lima] game in the fourth quarter," Helmholdt said. "He had something like five tackles, three of them for loss, in that quarter alone. He totally dominated and collapsed the right side of the offensive line on almost every play. He completely took that offense out of what they were doing. But the two quarters before that he was a ghost.

"I’ve seen that every time I’ve gone to see him. Is that a motor thing? Is that, he just hasn’t learned how to dominate yet? Both of those are possibilities."

His high school coach more or less agreed with that sentiment until he was imbued with Senior Leadership. His take on Signing Day:

"He has a high football I.Q. and great motor. He went from having a lot of potential and showing flashes of greatness, to consistently showing it every night and every play."

Ohio scouting service MSR Ohio:

Seeing him for the first time last Saturday, my first comment – “How much weight have you lost?” Later, I found out that he has re-distributed his weight. He sure looks good. … Really athletic. Strong. Good bender. Good initial quickness. Stays with his block on offense. On the DL he has the same initial quickness. Uses his hands to separate from the blocker. … Like his basketball feet. Like his big powerful athletic frame.

The sites noticed. At least a couple did. Scout bumped him from a generic three star into their top 300 thanks to his "fantastic," "explosive," and "athletic" senior play. 24/7 nearly put him in their top 100 and named him their "senior film stud" because he proved he's "one of the nation's best big-bodied defensive linemen." ESPN didn't move him because ESPN, and Rivals didn't move him because no camps.

Part of this is Hudson's growth. He was initially listed at around 270, causing multiple evaluations to utter the dread word "tweener." Scout only made him a DT in the immediate aftermath of his Michigan commit; Rivals and ESPN never moved him from their DE rankings. Now 297 and headed for another 15 pounds of clubbin' meat, there's no question where he ends up. Michigan's current plan is to deploy him as a three tech.

In retrospect it's hard to see why this wasn't obvious from the drop. ESPN's evaluation virtually screams DT:

…'tweener at this stage, but good height with well-built frame and adequate-to-very good bulk … excellent playing strength and can be inconsistent but displays good first-step. Stout and physical defender that demonstrates he can fire out low and uncoil …. can hold ground one-on-one and at times against current competition even knock blockers back on their heels. When he shoots hands displays upper body strength to press and disengage, but can be quite inconsistent … Power is his strength at this stage and will likely be greatest asset … capable of delivering a big pop when engaging blockers …tools to develop into tough presence especially against the run.

Best as I can figure, his tenure at DE in high school and his vague plausibility as a college edge rusher caused the DE evals, and possibly some of the trepidation. Burst for a DE and burst for a DT are different things.

Now firmly projected to the interior, Hudson has the look of a very high upside player. Brandon Brown caught him early in his senior year:

He's long limbed, extremely quick off the line, and very light and bouncy on his feet for being nearly 300 pounds. He's ridiculously strong compared to other high schoolers and actually has pretty solid technique when it comes to rips, swims, and other hand-placement techniques on the defensive line.

Just a month earlier his coach called him "lean for his size"(!):

"He still has a lot of room to grow. He’s very lean for his size. He’s very explosive, which if he adds more size and muscle, which he will at Michigan, he’s going to be tough for people to deal with inside. That wingspan, that height, the explosiveness and athleticism at his size, he’s a rare combination."

After his senior season 24/7 marveled at his "new level of explosiveness and speed" and asserted he'd "turned himself into a rare combination of size and speed at a premium position"; Rivals asserted that "his physical characteristics are elite" and that "his combination of size, burst, quickness, and strength is rare"; their Kentucky site called him an "ideal DE in a 3-4" because he's "more athletic than defensive tackles and a lot bigger and more powerful than most defensive ends."

Hudson's already producing and appears to have a lot of upside left to explore. Despite being a consensus four star he looks like one of the more underrated guys in the class.

FWIW, Hudson played a lot of OT in high school and when he first popped up on the radar he was looked as more of an OL prospect. People were still throwing in the possibility he'd be an OL when he committed. With his senior year blowup and Michigan's depth chart the chance that becomes relevant is remote.

Etc.: Harbaugh story? Harbaugh story:

"Me and Coach Harbaugh, the day that he offered me, we were sitting down in his office, me and my mom, and we were talking about football stuff," Hudson said. "Talking about the depth chart and stuff like that. And he started doing math problems when he was talking to my mom! Me and my mom were looking at each other, like, 'What is he doing?!'

"He stopped, in the middle of him doing this, in his problem, [and asked], 'Am I talking too much?' We were just like, 'Go on Coach! You're fine. We've got all the time in the world.'"

Why Willie Henry? Henry was a beef machine three-tech who was at his best when he deployed his bonkers strength to bench press dudes off him. The ESPN evaluation above could be Henry word for word, give or take some technique concerns. Henry arrived much rawer than it appears Hudson will and had far fewer recruiting accolades. He redshirted and only got to an All Big Ten level as a redshirt junior; Hudson should be a year ahead of his pace. Henry did have some pass rush chops, with 6.5 sacks in his final year, and Henry could get there. He's not Mo Hurst in this department, but he'll offer something.

Other comparables include Wormley, again, and Alan Branch.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Despite the consensus four star status there's still a lot of range in there. Hudson didn't attend a single camp and didn't get to an All Star game, and he blew up as a senior. I mean… DE evaluations. Guy was healthy and pretty well scouted but the shape of his recruitment is one where the scouting reports don't always match the numbers.

Variance: Low-plus. Already 300 pounds and able to move like a much smaller man. Some slight trepidation that he has not played on the interior yet and this could prove a bugaboo.

Ceiling: Very high. Hudson is likely still underrated despite a couple of significant senior year re-ranks. He has a combination of upfield explosion and raw power that you don't see very often.

General Excitement Level: Very high. What can I say? If your last name is Hudson I'm all about your football skills.

Projection: Will fight with Dwumfour and others to back up Hurst this year and replace him in 2018. We've heard a lot of good things about Dwumfour and I think the other three-tech guys in this class are going to be useful players; I also think Hudson's the best bet to win the job as a true sophomore, whereupon his career will look a lot like Henry's.

Another possibility: he moves to nose tackle. Michigan has more 3-tech types in this class than NT types and might want the depth. If they're going to split snaps down the middle for their four interior linemen Solomon/Hudson at nose might be their most effective configuration in a post-Mone world. That'll depend on guys like Dwumfour, Jeter, and Irving-Bey coming through.

This Week’s Obsession: Most Desired Breakout Player

This Week’s Obsession: Most Desired Breakout Player

Submitted by Seth on May 8th, 2017 at 2:44 PM

image

You break out or I will. [Bryan Fuller]

The Question:

You get a magic wand to anoint any Michigan player an instant all-Big Ten, except an offensive tackle else we'd all just be naming backup OTs.

Brian: This might be dumb.

Ace: We’re all gonna go with CBs, right?

Brian: I'm going with Quinn Nordin?

Ace: Never mind.

The Responses:

Brian: I mean, #collegekickers, right? And if Nordin can hit them straight you've got four years of NFL range and accuracy plus kickoff returns that amount to "lol no".

Is that crazy?

Adam: I was going with Ron Johnson because please someone anyone D-line depth. and it'd be nice to have a guy that can play SDE and 3T.

Brian: I feel Ron Johnson is an invalid selection since to be All Big Ten you have to have some opportunity to play and TBH he does not.

 image
An instantly playable James Hudson could give Michigan a solid two-deep at DL.

Adam: But who are the backups?

Brian: Dwumfour and Solomon.

Ace: In terms of value added over another position on the roster, Nordin isn’t crazy. Dropoff from his ceiling to the backups is bigger than most any other spot on the roster.

Brian: Yeah, I mean it would be nice if Devin Bush was ABT but I'm not stressed if he isn't.

Adam: I'm going more for the principle than a specific player but I really haven no idea who the backup 3T will be. Marshall? Hudson? DIB?

Ace: I’d guess Hudson. He’s outrageously strong.

David: Maybe Gary if they can find snaps for a freshman at anchor?

Ace: Gary might slide inside on some obvious passing downs but he’d be better utilized on the edge. I think that’s a last resort that won’t be needed.

Seth: Kemp is the backup at anchor. Of all the backup DL that’s the spot I’m least worried about.

[Hit THE JUMP for more of us ignoring the offense because you really cut our legs out with this tackle rule.]

Friday Recruitin' Needs A Shruggie Macro

Friday Recruitin' Needs A Shruggie Macro

Submitted by Brian on January 20th, 2017 at 1:12 PM

Everyone finalizes their rankings

26_4547121

Vilain impressed

Tuesday's post covered the final Rivals 100; since Rivals has released all of its final rankings. Scout, 24/7, and ESPN have finalized theirs as well. We're going to ignore small moves down, since those are mostly drops based on other guys flying up the board and don't signify a change of opinion regarding the prospect in question. Guys who had significant moves on at least one site:

COMMITS: STOCK UP

  • CT WR Tarik Black got a ten spot bump on Scout.
  • FL OL Cesar Ruiz saw steps forward everywhere ranging from minor bumps (247 moved him up 12 spots to #54) to more significant ones (up 36 spots to 41 on Rivals). ESPN has him 28th (up from 69th), which would be five-star territory except ESPN is apparently only handing that out to 14 recruits this year.
  • OH DT James Hudson had a big rise on 247 from 237th to just outside the top 100.
  • VA DE Luiji Vilain surged to the cusp of five-star status at 247 (up 49 spots to 36th) and up 107 slots to #74 on Rivals. ESPN bumped him up to 69th (nice) from #95.
  • MI DE Deron Irving-Bey got a ~25 spot bump on ESPN and a 10 spot bump on Scout.
  • FL LB Jordan Anthony got a ~30 spot bump on Scout and was otherwise static.

COMMITS: STATIC BUT I'M MENTIONING THEM ANYWAY

  • MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones had a significant fall at 247 to 26th (from 8th) and minor bumps elsewhere. He's now in a very tight range.
  • MI CB Ambry Thomas dropped 30 spots to 62nd on 247; he gained about that many slots on Rivals but that only got him up to #146.

COMMITS: STOCK DOWN

  • CO QB Dylan McCaffrey took a nosedive. 247 moved him from 58th to 204th; Rivals slid him about 80 spots to land at #131. Scout and ESPN have him in that same range now.
  • TX OL Chuck Filiaga dropped about 60 spots to #175 on Rivals. He had a ~10 spot drop on Scout.
  • NJ LB Drew Singleton fell 21 spots at 247 to exactly 100th despite being laid up with an ACL injury. That's a grumble.

TARGETS

  • UT DT Jay Tufele jumped up to 14th (+25) on 24/7 and 37th(+64) on Rivals.
  • GA DT Aubrey Solomon jumped 11 spots to 20th on 24/7 and solidified his five star status elsewhere.
  • MS LB Willie Gay jumped 18 spots to 33rd on 24/7 and from outside the Rivals 250 to 73rd.
  • IA WR Oliver Martin rose to 47th (+23) at 247 and entered the Rivals 250 at #206.
  • GA WR Nico Collins fell about 40 spots to 200th at 24/7 and around 60 spots to 120th at Rivals

More positive than negative here, as the only player to take a major hit was McCaffrey; meanwhile three guys who are in the class (Vilain, Ruiz, Hudson) and four of the five major targets got bumps.

Aubrey Solomon trending to M, says everyone except Aubrey Solomon

636021822898148422-Aubrey-Solomon-and-Otis-Reese-2_thumb

Solomon with 2018 commit Otis Reese back in the day

Good news: Michigan's surge on 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon's crystal ball has continued unabated. Michigan's picked up the last 14 picks, amongst them another handful of 24/7 personnel including Steve Wiltfong. Further reports from the Michigan in-home are very positive as well:

“Aubrey’s mom was really impressed that he brought his daughter along,” Webb said. “The visit hit all the marks. Anyone doubting Michigan’s strong standing in the race just isn’t paying attention.”

I mean:

“It was one of the best in-home visits ever. It was just a different setting to see a coach,” Solomon said. “My mom loved it, too, and was just shocked how engaging the coaches were, especially with my baby sister. His daughter and my sister got a long so well, it was just heartwarming and a great visit.”

Wiltfong went as far as to say that a couple of sources indicated it was a Michigan-USC(!) battle, which would be excellent news indeed.

Bad news:

Defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) said Alabama still leads.

"They still lead big, but not by a huge margin," Solomon said. "I like the physicality they bring and their defense."

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That was Tuesday about an hour after the previous recruitin' went up; nothing about that statement has done anything to dissuade people from picking Michigan. The author of that piece, Ryan Bartow, is in fact the guy who was first to pull the trigger on a Michigan pick, and he remains unmoved.

Solomon says "right now I'm done" but that something could come up, because that's how this recruitment has gone. I go back to the UGA moderator who said Solomon might not even take in-homes with Saban and Smart. If that turns out to be the case Michigan fans can go into his Signing Day decision with a lot of confidence. If those guys do drop in it will be a nail-biter.

Elsewhere in five-star DTs, Lorenz has put in a crystal ball for UT DT Jay Tufele to Utah. That appears to be the consensus from both OSU and Michigan folks.

Oliver Martin will be going somewhere this weekend, or nowhere

That's how geography works. You're always in a place. You're never nowhere unless you're Michigan State and it's bowl season.

rimshot

Anyway, Michigan has once again put on a full court press for IA WR Oliver Martin, who they supposedly led for until a parting of the ways a couple months ago. That parting occurred when it looked like they'd get a dozen OL along with four WRs—I think you can assume that GA WR Nico Collins was a silent commit given the pattern here—and could not afford the space for a fifth. Martin is reputedly a Harbaugh fave-rave so the only reason they'd back off is if they thought they had no room.

With Collins now much more in play than previously thought and spots seemingly available, heeeere's Oliver again. Lorenz and Isaiah Hole flipped their crystal balls back to Michigan once pursuit was re-engaged in earnest, and Wiltfong might not be far behind. Lorenz:

I was around him all week at the Army game in San Antonio and there's definitely a bond between he and quarterback commitment Dylan McCaffrey. I also believe Martin would already be committed to the staff if they had the room earlier in the process.

Wiltfong told the 247 ND board that Michigan was going to make it "really, really, really interesting" and said he was on the verge of a flip in a separate article.

Martin has a couple of officials left, one of which can be to Ann Arbor since his October visit was an unofficial. Depending on which article you read you'll discover that he's headed to Gainesville, Ann Arbor, dunno, or nowhere (because he has a swim meet on Saturday). An official to Ann Arbor is probably game over for the other chasers, but it sounds like the Martins might shut it down and just take some in-homes.

The Becton Oversight

Mekhi Becton6

mean mug grade: A-

I've neglected to mention anything about VA OL Mekhi Becton the last couple times. This was solely because I didn't have any Becton tabs. Lorenz reports that confidence is still strong on Michigan's end and that the academic angle is important to him. That passes the smell test since Becton was reputed to be a strong Virginia lean for a while. Wiltfong, however, is hearing differently:

247Sports was told last weekend that it could be a Louisville-Hokies battle for Becton who is also considering Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Virginia among others. There’s confidence around the Hokies program the 6-foot-7, 345-pound Becton will end up at VT.

The UVA 247 site meanwhile says that sources at his high school are "still adamant that Becton should be considered a heavy UVa lean."

Aaand this appears to be a direct quote of a text from a UL commit that the Louisville site may have published a bit unwisely:

“Becton (didn’t) talk much but is debating between Michigan and us, which is pretty dumb with early playing time at Louisville but he doesn't follow me back.”

I have news for this young gentleman about the state of Michigan's 2017 offensive line.

Further complicating matters: Becton has a VT visit this weekend and Oregon the week after. So that's four schools with insiders swearing up and down that they lead with Oregon lurking on the perimeter. Anything could happen.

Elsewhere in OL news, Lorenz reports that while PA OL CJ Thorpe will official this weekend it would be an "absolute stunner" if he flipped his commitment.

Weird Guy Watch

Rivals projects VA LB Ellis Brooks to Maryland, but mostly because they have to project him somewhere. Their certainty level is low indeed. 24/7 latest update on him states that the last-weekend visit is now up in the air between Michigan and Penn State.

Clemson OT transfer Jake Fruhmorgen has a narrow list of Michigan, LSU, and Florida. Sam caught up with his dad, who apparently reads PFF:

(Jake can) get a redshirt, and good strong year (training) will put him in a strong position to compete at LSU. And they ranked #1 in college last year as a unit.

The only site out there ranking OL units is PFF. Anyway. Florida just lost their OL coach and Fruhmorgen and father have put great emphasis on position coaching in their decision, so they are likely behind the eight ball a bit. Drevno has tried to get in touch, so Michigan appears set to pursue Fruhmorgen in earnest.

Etc.

Matt Wenzel profiles GA RB commit Kurt Taylor, CO QB commit Dylan McCaffrey, and RI DE commit Kwity Paye. Paye, like Chesson and Darboh, is a refugee.

Isaiah Hole talks to 4* PA DE commit Donovan Jeter's coach about what he brings:

"Size and ability. I think the biggest thing out there, from a recruiting standpoint, is that they're looking for kids with size and they're looking for kids that can move. Donovan certainly possesses those intangibles. We saw a motor and an explosiveness from him in his stance"

Scout's John Garcia Jr clarifies that TN QB Jackson Gibbs is a PWO candidate at a few different schools and will be picking between M, Alabama, and UCLA. Reports a few months ago that he had gotten a bonafide offer never made any sense, anyway.

Michigan's top 2018 QB target, NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, told Maize n Brew that the Fisch move was a big deal for him:

“That’s a huge get,” he said, regarding UCLA hiring Fisch. “It’s going to be tough for schools to beat out UCLA for me making my decision.”

That would be a bummer. I'd love to see what a dual-threat can do with Harbaugh.

Various other 2018 names:

  • 4* TX CB D'Shawn Jamison (doesn't know anything about M, vaguely plans visit),
  • 5* NC DE KJ Henry ("definitely" plans a visit),
  • 5* FL DT Taron Vincent (IMG kid, formerly a protege of Biff Poggi, says M is outside his top 3 of OSU, Bama, and FSU),
  • 4* NJ WR Jahan Dotson (top ten, has been on an unofficial, knows Singleton fairly well),
  • 4* MO WR Kamryn Babb (M "absolutely" a factor per Trieu after recent offer)

Nick Saban is dropping out of helicopters on FL TE Will Mallory.

That shouldn't matter since his dad and both uncles played at M.

I will deign to mention that Michigan has offered 2019 MN OT Quinn Carroll, who looks to have the profile of a top 100 guy so far. There are a couple of big-timers instate as well as OH OL Nolan Rumler, as well.

Tuesday Recruitin' Apologizes For Putting A G In Recruitin' Last Time

Tuesday Recruitin' Apologizes For Putting A G In Recruitin' Last Time

Submitted by Brian on December 6th, 2016 at 11:52 AM

I'm rusty.

Jordan-Anthony-with-IMG-2015

Jordan Anthony: all but wrapped up?

The Big Weekend is upon us

Michigan's enormous visit weekend is in a few days. Folks who say they will be on campus:

  • 5* CA RB Najee Harris. You may have heard of him. 
  • 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. You may have seen him leap over a yeti to dunk a basketball. DPJ took a visit to FSU last weekend and came back with the same carefully positive take he's had throughout the process. While Michigan seems to have a strong lead he is the kind of guy who could shock the proverbial world because he's very reserved.
  • 5* CA CB Darnay Holmes. Holmes had to cancel an official earlier this year so he could get some test scores. With those in hand he'll be on campus. Nobody really expects much since he's got a strong family connection with UCLA, but at least Michigan will get its at-bat.
  • 4.5* NJ LB Drew Singleton. Singleton took a visit to MSU that nobody thinks will amount to much; Clemson chatter has faded.
  • 4.5* MI CB Ambry Thomas. Scattered reports that Thomas was at MSU last weekend. This is kind of like the Lavert Hill recruitment where Michigan people are very confident and MSU folks are alternately either the same or saying there's a chance. There's even a brief flurry of PSU optimism. It should end the same way. Sam's gut is rumbling. With Thomas enrolling early a decision won't take much longer.
  • Maybe 4* FL LB Jordan Anthony. Anthony—who just got a fifth star from Rivals—is planning to announce sometime in December. Lorenz reports that he did not make a scheduled official to Oklahoma. Maryland is expecting him this weekend; Wiltfong reports that Anthony "may" visit Michigan this weekend and would "like to" visit Maryland. This is the last visit weekend before the dead period and Anthony wants to announce this month. If he is in Ann Arbor it's a wrap. It's pretty much a wrap even if he does visit Maryland.
  • 4* PA S Paris Ford. Ford is a new name on the board; he committed to Pitt in October but claims a bunch of big offers and is a top 100 kid on the composite. This is the first recruiting activity he's undertaken since his Pitt commit, so unknown how soft he is.
  • 3.5* MI DE Deron Irving-Bey. Irving-Bey is coming off a trip to Maryland and is using his last official before his announcement on Michigan. MSU people still think they have a shot, and they may; Michigan people are confident.
  • Various commits: MA RB AJ Dillon, NM RB O'Maury Samuels, OH DT James Hudson, MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell—who will gently prod Thomas, MI OL JaRaymond Hall, and probably some more guys I'm forgetting.

As far as uncommitted recruits go this is just about everyone high on the board who has not already taken their official visit. 4* IA WR Oliver Martin, who apparently came in for an unofficial in October, and 4.5* FL OL Tedarrell Slaton, about whom more in a second, are the only players we have in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board who have available officials they are not using this weekend. 

December is going to be emoji fire lit did I do that right

Here's a list of players who have set definite commitment dates; will be a busy December and early January:

  • 12/9: 4* CA OL Aaron Banks. Banks is a mystery.
  • 12/16: 4* CT WR Tarik Black. Black is not, despite a recent 'Bama flurry.
  • 12/18: 4* FL OL Cesar Ruiz. Don't know who else is even really in on Ruiz.
  • 12/25: 5* NY OL Isaiah Wilson, who is going to greatly please one fanbase and displease the other given that date. A 247 UGA mod just put in a crystal ball for Michigan after hearing that Georgia's a distant third behind M and Alabama.
  • 1/7: 4.5* TX OL Chuck Filiaga, MI DE Deron Irving-Bey. Army game announcements.

Early-enrolling recruits with no set date who have to go off the board by the first week of January: Ambry Thomas, DPJ, and Najee Harris.  As mentioned above, Jordan Anthony also wants to get it done.

Rivals re-rank uncommonly relevant

Rivals went through their rankings and a number of Michigan prospects saw their stock change quite a bit. GA DT Aubrey Solomon and FL LB Jordan Anthony(!) added a fifth star. Anthony's a bit of a surprise. Rivals was already higher on him than any other service—the other three generally have him around #200, and they had him 70th. Now he's all the way up to 26th.

FL OL Cesar Ruiz also moved up 41 spots to 77th; GA WR Nico Collins dropped from 23rd to 59th, which is more in line with where everyone else has him. Other Michigan prospects were static or close to it.

My other brother Tedarrell

Yes, I've used that joke before.

We've been relatively down on Michigan's chances with FL OL Tedarrell Slaton based first on various vibe things and then a cancelled official visit. While it would still be a mild surprise to see him end up in Ann Arbor, Scout's Corey Bender has an article that makes things seem a bit brighter:

"I talk to Michigan every day," Slaton said. "We're just in the communication part right now. They're looking forward to me getting the scores and up for a visit as fast as they can.

"I like the coaching staff, and I've built a good relationship with all of their coaches."

Slaton hasn't taken any official visits and won't until he gets his ACT score back. That will be an inflection point for Michigan's pursuit of him: either they ramp it back up to previous levels or there's a parting of the ways. Slaton is 100% a guard, and there's definitely room for an Onwenu in this class—virtually everyone they're pursuing other than Ruiz is a tackle.

Solomon tea leaves

Aubrey Solomon 2

[Scout]

GA DT Aubrey Solomon took an official to Alabama last weekend. One of the 247 Georgia guys interviewed him and has separate posts about the Georgia and Michigan sections of that; the Michigan one doesn't have many quotes but here's a transcript of one section:

They showed my mom the reason why I did commit there, you know. I *did* know what I was talking about—that's what my mom said.

He seems sold on the Michigan degree, especially in comparison to a Q from the Georgia side of things about what'll take for Solomon to spend his last official on the Bulldogs:

"They have to show me the academic part really hard," Solomon said. "I know they have a good sports management program. I have been there a lot. They talk about football, football, football, but I want to know about the grades. What am I going to get in return?"

If this was a kid from Kentucky, done deal, Michigan. The hometown pull is still pretty powerful, though, and M will have to weather some storms if they're going to pull this one out. From watching the two interviews it seemed pretty clear which one had the edge with Solomon as of early December: Michigan.

Meanwhile the Alabama side of things:

"A lot of stuff they had, Michigan had," he said. "I'm not saying it was the same, but they had some sort of it. So that really hit me hard being closer with that. It really took effect on me."

So where does the Crimson Tide stand coming out of the visit?

"I really couldn't tell you that right now," Solomon said. "I'm not saying it's a tie, because I don't believe in ties, but Alabama really impressed me and my mom."

No video there, unfortunately. Alabama is always a threat.

I'm not too worried about January visits to Oregon(?!) and "maybe" USC; further Georgia visits would be the biggest red flags in the future. I'm not saying he's a lock but the difference in his demeanor when talking about Georgia and Michigan was so notable that even the Georgia 247 board was skeptical he'd end up in Athens.

James Hudson's senior film is all right

Skip the first minute of blindside blocks and witness Willie Henry 2.0:

That's a pretty high level of high school football he's playing and he's tossing people around like they are sacks of grain. Scout recently gave Hudson a fourth star—he's got the full set now. Their reasoning:

His film looked more explosive and athletic than it did a year ago and, as he has continued to grow, he has been evaluated more as an inside guy or an inside-outside guy rather than purely an edge prospect, which is what we ranked him as initially.

He does play a lot of end in high school but that's a DT all the way.

Etc.

Michigan reportedly offered CO DE Will Rodgers, a teammate of the elder McCaffrey, a grayshirt. Rodgers transferred from Saginaw Arthur Hill a year ago to play for Valor Christian; prior to that he was a 6'4" basketball center. He's barely got a 247 profile; we'll see where this goes.

AL OL Toryque Bateman has fallen by the wayside of late—I didn't even mention him amongst the OL Michigan was pursuing in the recent recruiting overview—but still lists Michigan in his top two along with Louisville. The Cardinals seem like a good bet at the moment.

Status quo with AL WR Nico Collins, who told Steve Wiltfong that Michigan was "different"; Wiltfong feeling good about his CB to Michigan. One complication: unlike a lot of guys on the board, Collins is taking his recruitment through Signing Day. Michigan will have to weather some officials.

Tom Herman gets after TX OL Chuck Filiaga. Texas people seem to think they have a shot; they are not as yet issuing that emoji with the cocked eyebrow.

2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese visited for the Indiana game and seems as solid as any 2018 commit can be. Michigan offers 2019 CO QB Luke McCaffrey, yes that McCaffrey.

Friday Recruitin' Is A College Program

Friday Recruitin' Is A College Program

Submitted by Ace on September 30th, 2016 at 3:25 PM

M's Biggest Recruiting Weekend Is Here

Michigan has stacked this weekend with visits, many of the official variety, and it's shaping up to be their most important recruiting weekend of the fall. TMI's Brice Marich has a free rundown of the top visitors on campus, and 247's Steve Wiltfong has an overview of the major recruiting storylines. Here's a quick runthrough with some additional notes where applicable.

OFFICIAL VISITORS

Five-star TX OLB Baron Browning: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, and UCLA appear to be Michigan's primary competition, and while the Wovlerines have been regarded as a fringe contender for much of Browning's recruitment, 247's Steve Wiltfong said this week his summer visit put M in better position than ND and OSU. Browning's brother played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, which can't hurt M's chances.

FIve-star FL OT Alex Leatherwood (Alabama commit): Michigan and Florida are trying to pry Leatherwood away from Bama, but Steve Lorenz has mentioned on our podcast that this is quite a long shot unless Bama OL coach Mario Cristobal leaves the staff after the season.

Four-star KY OT Jedrick Wills: Wills looked like he'd drop to Alabama before ever making it to Ann Arbor. While that didn't occur, Bama remains the favorite.

Four-star NJ OLB Drew Singleton: There's still a lot of optimism from Michigan insiders about Singleton—who's here for his second game this season—despite the buzz surrounding Clemson.

Four-star IMG OLB Jordan Anthony: Another linebacker prospect long considered a Michigan lean.

Four-star IMG OC Cesar Ruiz: As Lorenz said in this week's recruiting mailbag, Ruiz is arguably the most important target left on the board, and with Alabama seemingly out of the picture this is a race Michigan expects to win.

[This list is long enough to JUMP mid-section. As I said, it's a huge visit weekend.]

Tuesday Recruitin' Crunches Numbers

Tuesday Recruitin' Crunches Numbers

Submitted by Ace on August 16th, 2016 at 9:57 AM

Bama's Gain Is... Michigan's Gain, Too?

Alabama picked up two commits on the offensive line at the end of July, and they're expected to add five-star OT Jedrick Wills any day now. That may not seem like news that would lead a Michigan recruiting roundup, but word from multiple Bama insiders is the numbers crunch in Tuscaloosa will have a direct impact on at least one top Michigan target. Here's 247's Steve Lorenz on four-star IMG OC Cesar Ruiz:

I spoke with Hank South, our Alabama insider this morning, who confirmed that Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy Top100 offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz is NOT a take for the Crimson Tide, and barring more than one change to their current class, would not be regardless

When that news made its way over to the Scout board, their Bama insider, John Garcia Jr., confirmed he was hearing the same about Ruiz and added that four-star NY OT Isaiah Wilson could also get squeezed out by Wills:

Bama took in state OL Hunter Brannon on July 23, a kid who earned the offer at camp (UA wanted Ruiz to camp but he didn't make it). Numbers are tight and tackles are a much bigger need at this time. I'm not even sure they would take both Wills and Wilson should each want to join the class. Like with Nico Collins, a late spot may not be there for Wilson. Things can change but Bama feels good about each, the difference is Wills is much closer to ending his recruitment.

Alabama has been considered Michigan's primary competition for both Ruiz and Wilson. Ruiz said at the beginning of this month that Alabama, Michigan, and Oklahoma were tied at the top of his list; only a few days later, the Sooners landed four-star center Creed Humphrey. If Ruiz sticks to those top schools, his decision may have been made for him—he's also mentioned North Carolina as a school of interest recently but I haven't seen any indication they'd beat out Michigan.

Wilson, meanwhile, set up official visits to Florida State (Nov. 11), Michigan (Nov. 19), and Alabama (Nov. 25), with dates for Georgia and USC to be decided based on his basketball schedule—we'll see if those latter two materialize, as Wilson plans to make a decison in December. In the aftermath of his BBQ visit, he told Sam Webb that Michigan's "family atmosphere" stood out and played it coy about where the Wolverines currently stand:

These most recent Michigan experiences reconfirmed for Wilson why he has the storied program in his top five.  They’ve also caused those observing his recruitment to wonder if the Wolverines have moved up his list.

Said Wilson, “my response to that question is, Go Blue!’”

Take that how you will.

Yet another four-star lineman, CA OT Aaron Banks, is set to cut his list down to ten soon. After a better-than-expected BBQ visit, Michigan should make the cut:

"The trip to Michigan was cool," said Banks.  "It was nice.  It was better than I expected.  The school was bigger than I expected it to be.  I was with Coach (Tim) Drevno and one of his assistants.  We met up with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh but didn't get to spend as much time with him.  I met up with Jay Harbaugh some too.  Then we went to one of the stores and got some of the new Jumpman gear."

Banks plans to enroll early. Getting him back for an official visit will be of great importance if Michigan wants to push for his commitment.

Oh, and Scout's main analyst in SEC country, Chad Simmons, is projecting that Michigan will get four-star OG TJ Slaton:

This is probably the toughest one out of this group.  Slaton likes to keep to himself, a lot about his recruitment is unknown, and he could end up at a number of program.  Today though, over six months out, Michigan is the favorite.  The Wolverines landed his good friend, teammate Kai-Leon Herbert over the summer, and this only helps UM.  Herbert made his mind up when him and Slaton were in Ann Arbor a couple of months ago.  Clemson is in this, Florida State is there, and we will see what Slaton does this fall in terms of visits.

While Slaton isn't a lock, he's kept Michigan on top for a while now despite seeing other schools. There's a very real chance Michigan picks up three more elite O-line prospects, at which point one or two current commits might take a look around. No matter how it shakes out, it's hard to see a way in which Michigan doesn't have a great finish at OL.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

Tuesday Recruitin' Devours Leftovers

Tuesday Recruitin' Devours Leftovers

Submitted by Ace on August 9th, 2016 at 2:22 PM

BBQ Leftovers: Hudson Commits

Three-star OH DT James Hudson committed to Michigan yesterday, giving the Wolverines a head-to-head win over Michigan State. TMI's Brice Marich made his way to Toledo for Hudson's announcement and scored an interview afterwards in which Hudson detailed the reasoning behind his decision:

"Michigan is just a different type of feeling," he said. I could really connect with lot of the players there like Carlo Kemp and Rashan Gary, me and those two get along really well. Me and Rashan, we speak almost every day. We're great friends and we're going to be great teammates."

"I really spoke with Coach Mattison of course, DL oach, also spoke with Coach Brown and Coach Zordich. My relationship with Coach Matty is great. He's definitely my favorite D-Line coach I've met. Coach Matty has a plan for me and I like that."

That plan is for Hudson to play three-tech. Some sites still list him as an SDE, but he's reportedly up in the 290-pound range already. We'll (eventually) see what Brian comes up with for a YMRPFSPA; Hudson's impressive strength reminded me of Willie Henry when I watched his highlights.

The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with Hudson's high school coach, who in detailing what he's working on with Hudson this spring may have explained why Hudson's first step doesn't stand out on film:

"Here’s how good his camp’s been thus far. We’ve been focusing on his first step being a little bit too big. That gets him a little overextended sometimes. That’s it," Dempsey said. "His hands are great, his feet are great, his motor has been great. It’s been very limited in terms of what we need him to work on.

"The biggest thing is that we’re going to watch him since he’s playing both ways so much. The effort he’s been putting into offensive tackle has been just as good as what he’s been doing on defense. We’re expecting a lot so I’m glad he’s expecting a lot out of himself. He’s a disruptive force at this level. He’s really started to master his position so I’m very excited for his senior season."

If that gets corrected, I really like Hudson's potential; as we saw with Henry, overwhelming strength can make up for a lot.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]