Fall Scrimmage Roundup: Yes, Denard

Fall Scrimmage Roundup: Yes, Denard

Submitted by Brian on August 23rd, 2010 at 4:05 PM

So I find myself in an extremely bizarre position: Michigan had a semi-public scrimmage on Saturday that I and a few hundred others attended after donating to Motts or buying the big baller seats. If you've been on the internet since Saturday you've noticed probably dozens of reports on message boards, the diaries here, other blogs, and one local radio host's (pretty inaccurate) tweets. Also there's a highlight video from the official site:

But they specifically told myself, MVictors, Scout, Rivals, and Craig Ross that "nothing was to be reported" from the scrimmage. This worked as well as you might imagine, leaving us on the sidelines as everyone with a username throws vague information around. So here's a bizarre roundup of things other people said on the internets and in my inbox that doesn't involve personal reporting. This lion is caged.

Quarterbacks

DenardRobinsonWMU

Popular sentiment holds that Denard is the man:

looks comfortable, made some nice throws, seems in charge of the O.  Wouldn't want to have to tackle him.

The man:

Unless something crazy happens between now and September 4, Denard Robinson is your clear starter at quarterback. The quarterbacks weren’t live today, but Robinson still managed to carve up the second-team defense (running the first-team offense, of course) with his legs and his arm. His made good decisions with the ball and his passes were on the money, and he took a QB draw 40+ yards to the house — only Denard makes that play, and he made it look easy.

The man:

He will absolutely start as he is clearly the leader on the team. He had the most energy during warm-ups, was the first one and the fastest one doing stretch drills, and was clearly the first-team QB of the day during the 'scrimmage'. He hit a nice 23-ish yard pass on a WICKED play fake to Grady. And then ran it in for another 25 or so on a QB draw, juking a DB as he went. Enough to even get the sidelines "ooh-ing".

The man:

Prior to seeing this scrimmage I was a fan of Tate and would tell anyone who asked, that Tate would be the starter. After watching the scrimmage, D-Rob will be the starter. He was much better in the pocket, made good decisions when faced with getting rid of the ball or being sacked with loss of yards, and his exchanges were very good. Think about some of the ball fakes that Juice Williams had. D-Rob isn't there yet, but he will be.

That longish pass was the a half-roll at about 2:00 in the highlights on which Robinson pulled up and nailed Terrance Robinson between the numbers and between levels in the zone. An emailer suggested that he wouldn't have believed it possible without the spring game. Also, at the end of practice they had the team run a lap around the field four times. It's "a little tough to tell" because each position group starts from a different place on the field, but 3 of the 4 times Denard was the first player on the team to finish. (Ray Vinopal seemed to win the last one.) That's "more a measure of endurance than speed."

Robinson actually got a lot less run than the other two quarterbacks, finding himself on the bench as Forcier and Gardner (and Jack Kennedy) alternated series late; when he did get on the offense would score quickly, further depressing his reps. To me that reads like the decision is already made and they are being somewhat cautious.

Conflicting reports on Gardner and Forcier. Ace's take:

Devin Gardner, running mostly with the twos, looked at times like a seasoned veteran, but he had a couple throws — including an ugly interception to Marvin Robinson — that reminded everyone he is just a freshman. His natural ability could lead to him seeing the field this year, but I think it’s safe to say he’s probably a year away from really pushing for the starting job. Really like his poise in the pocked and running ability, however, and it would have been interesting to see what he could have done if the quarterbacks were live. Tate Forcier started with the threes but saw snaps with the ones and twos as well — he looked solid throwing the ball, but made a couple poor reads on zone running plays.

Gardner came in for a lot of praise but a trusted observer in the inbox says "Gardner made a number of bad decisions under pressure." There that Marvin Robinson interception reminiscent of the slo-mo-nooooo plays last year; observer also cited a strong tendency for Gardner to panic and chuck off his back foot when blitzers got through. He suggested that in a scrimmage with more blitzing—it was exceedingly rare—Forcier would have probably looked clearly better than Gardner. While a few folk are saying there is "NO WAY" Gardner redshirts, TO thought he was at best even with Forcier and given that should watch from the sidelines. He made more big errors than anyone else.

In drills, Tate looked best, FWIW.

Running Backs

Hopkins was the name on everyone's tongue after a day spent running through arm tackles and showing surprising shiftiness. He "hit the holes and was a load to take down." Trusted Observer said he had a hard time picking out Hopkins before the scrimmage, as he looked like PJ Hill in the spring but after losing ten pounds and reshaping maybe a dozen others into muscle "now looks like a tailback" instead of a moonlighting fullback.

One negative note:

I didn't think Hopkins looked as great as everyone else did.  Not a diss on his play - he ran very hard - but I didn't see the world beater others did.  Much like the other scrimmages, all the RBs looked good, but none really stood out.  We have options in Cox and Shaw.  Though V. Smith, as reported, looks great - no noticeable effects from the injury.

Vincent Smith Ace and others also noted that Vincent Smith seems 100% healthy; you can see him dance his way down to the two in the highlights above on one of his better runs on the day. TO said it looked like he was tentatively first team with Mike Shaw second but "both those guys fumbled and I wouldn't put much stock in that."

Mike Cox continued to show that he might be the best athlete amongst the running backs, but on two separate instances he caused Rodriguez to "lose it" by cutting way back against the grain, turning a modest gain into nothing by dancing at the line of scrimmage. On one "there was a gap on the frontside but he cut all the way behind the backside tackle," losing yardage and causing RR to chew him out; on the second "RR just dropped his headset in disgust."

Toussaint did not play due to an injury.

Wide Receiver

If you're looking at playing time in this scrimmage as a signal as to which freshmen wideouts will play, your "leaders in order" are Jerald Robinson, Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, Ricardo Miller, and finally DJ Williamson. Yeah, Dileo, who looked "natural fielding punts and catching the ball in drills" despite being "fricking tiny." Robinson got a lot of playing time but "dropped everything."

As for the veterans, the nominal first team was the same it was in spring with Martavious Odoms spending a lot of time outside with Darryl Stonum; Roy Roundtree was in the slot but "did not play much" probably because "they know he's the guy." In his stead Robinson and Grady got most of the playing time, with Gallon around but "not doing much." Hemingway was on the second team with Stokes.

At TE, Koger, Webb, and Moore "seemed even," with Koger suffering a frustrating drop. Robinson added one, but otherwise the starting WRs caught everything that came their way. It was mostly underneath stuff, probably because of the open nature of the scrimmage.

Offensive Line

Not much here. Molk was in a green shirt and played only sparingly (this was "precautionary"); Khoury was his backup and there were several poor snaps, two or three of which led to drive-killing fumbles. Huyge (left) and Dorrestein (right) were tackles on the first team OL. Lewan was on the second team and played beyond the whistle to the point where he got a personal foul. TO noticed Quinton Washington struggling badly in the post-practice runs, finishing last. Someone, possibly Elliot Mealer, spent practice on the bike with a red jersey. Barnum was a second-team guard and the third-team center.

Coaches kept yelling at Schofield to keep his pad level down.

Defensive Line

TO says he spent most of the scrimmage watching the offense and didn't have much on the D. He did note that Mike Martin finished first easily in the DL group on the runs with Will Campbell lagging behind. Ace highlighted Jibreel Black, who looks like a quick contributor. Another emailer said "Martin is a beast" and didn't get much playing time for precautionary reasons:

“Defensively, Mike Martin has had a tremendous camp. We limited him yesterday because we know what he can do, but he’s been really good and probably our most consistent defensive player since camp started.”

Campbell seemed to be on the third team. Sagesse sat out with an injury, though he was in green, not red.

It does not seem like Martin is moving, so everyone figure out who Greg Banks's backup is.

Linebackers

That stuff about Moundros possibly starting looks accurate:

Moundros starts in the middle, looks like he's been playing there for a while.  A run stuffer certainly.  Middle zone coverage?  Not enough data.  Ezeh also stuffed the run and took on blocks at Mouton's spot.  Roh will be a beast, but given almost all of the throws were short, his pass rush didn't have time to get home.

Not much else here. Ezeh played WLB with Mouton in green. Davion Rogers is "a twig."

Secondary

Ack. Cam Gordon, from reports ranging from some guy…

Vlad will hit you, but we all knew that.  Cam Gordon is going to be very good, I think.  Big boy.  He was in position to make two great tackles, but unfortunately didn't wrapup and was pulled off the field.  Later returned with the 1's.  Going to take some time

…to the coach

“Yesterday probably wasn’t his best day practice-wise, but other than that he’s had a really good camp,” Rodriguez noted.

…to Cam Gordon's royal we

“We were in position to make plays - I was in position - but we didn’t wrap up,” Gordon said. “I think we were all a little excited, especially us young guys to show what we could do and we had a breakdown in fundamentals. But those are easily correctable mistakes.

“Something Coach [Tony] Gibson said to me after our scrimmage was, ‘Cam, every hit doesn’t have to be a big hit.’ That’s a key for me and for all the guys. Any tackle is a good tackle. I don’t have to level somebody because in the stat book they all count the same way. I’ll get better and we’ll get better.”

…did not have a good day. Corners… not much detail. There's this:

JT Floyd looks good, Rogers looks big.  Teric Jones and Christian are your 2's.  Talbott and Avery don't look undersized, and don't look overwhelmed.  Again, hard to judge corner play given the nature of the throws.  But Christian has a way of moving that reminds one of Woodson.

If only. Floyd was pulled early, again likely as a precaution. Robinson looks good, a "big hitter and good tackler."  Mike Williams spent a lot of time playing spur, not doing much of note. A push for a job or a sure starter (Thomas Gordon) getting held out of a high-contact scrimmage?

Special Teams

No worries at punter, where Hagerup's warmups were "just like Zoltan." The section of the practice dedicated to the punt team saw the punts "go straight" and were actually returnable. All were fielded cleanly except one fumble from Terrence Robinson. Here, too, Dileo "looked like a natural," executing a fair catch with aplomb and fielding an array of kickoffs and punts cleanly.

Field goal kicking was limited, with just two attempts. Meram missed from around 40, Gibbons hit from around 35. Kickoffs landed from the 2 to 10, which is about average these days. Kickoff coverage must be run at half speed because every one was returned to about midfield and then blown dead.

2010 Recruiting: Jerald Robinson

2010 Recruiting: Jerald Robinson

Submitted by Brian on August 2nd, 2010 at 1:24 PM

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

Canton, OH - 6'2" 185

jerald-robinson-camp

Scout 4*, #40 WR
Rivals 3*, #48 WR
ESPN 3*, 77, #99 WR
Others NR
Other Suitors Committed too quick to have any, but Pittsburgh definitely and maybe Ohio State(?)
YMRMFSPA Marquise Walker
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post; Tom broke that commitment.  Tim & Paul took in a Canton South game and came back with video, though Robinson didn't do anything in any of it.
Notes Early enrollee.
Film

If you prefer your highlights with more METAL this is your best bet.

Jerald Robinson was another recruit who committed during Michigan's early flurry of wide receivers. He had been beaten to the punch by Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson by the time he committed on February 9th. He, too, drew skepticism because of the lack of other offers but unlike Drew Dileo some encouraging early rankings and an impressive appearance at Michigan's summer camp muted those fairly quickly.

And that's about it as far as Robinson's recruiting story went. Saddled with a substandard quarterback, a team that graduated 20 starters, and a lingering injury, his senior season was statistically and visually unimpressive—when Tim and Paul went down to catch his season opener they came back with footage of one four-yard catch and a lot of disinterested ambling. Compounding his obscurity, he avoided the camp circuit:

''Jerald Robinson is an underrated player,'' said Steve Hare, a recruiting specialist for Rivals.com and the publisher of OhioVarsity.com. ''He committed early and didn't hit all the combines and camps like all the kids looking for scholarships. Michigan is certainly getting a steal.''

Robinson low profile saw him drop a bit in the rankings (he started out in the Rivals 250), and a lack of late drama  like Terry Talbott's UNC flirtation leaves him a guy sort of off the radar screen.

That's not to say he lacks promise. ESPN's department of redundancy department take($) says he's "extremely athletic and fluid as an athlete" and talks up his skills:

Possesses a lean frame that should continue to fill out nicely and complement his big-catch ability in traffic. Robinson will attack the jump ball and plucks it effortlessly with his long arm extension, soft hands, timing and leaping skills. Shows good overall concentration in traffic and body control adjusting to the deep ball. He often comes down with the difficult receptions in a crowd. … Consistently gains proper body positioning on one-on-one matchups by shielding defenders and utilizing a subtle push off to create space. Snags the ball smoothly in stride, particularly on difficult over-the-shoulder grabs.

His main drawback is a lack of top-end speed; ESPN complains they "rarely see him run by defensive backs or separate in the open field." They call him "crafty," which is a superb backhanded compliment. The lack of speed sees ESPN chuck him well down their rankings. Meanwhile, Rivals and Scout are basically in agreement (and considerably more optimistic) despite the star difference; Robinson is the first three star in the Rivals WR rankings and one of the last four stars in Scout's.

ESPN's take, minus the downers about athleticism, is echoed all over the place. Here's an interesting take from Bobby Swigert, a fellow Ohio recruit who Michigan recruited for a while but eventually settled on Nebraska:

So this season, Robinson often has to fight through double and triple coverage, or outleap defenders to get the ball.

''He can jump, pretty much, over me,'' Swigert said. ''He almost picked off about five passes last year [on defense], so he has a great feel for the game and is just an awesome football player, and I have a lot of respect for him.''

Some Tom Lemming heavy breathing:

This guy catches everything within reach and makes spectacular catches outside his frame. He runs precise routes, is a playmaker from the word go, shows good leaping ability, catches the ball at its highest point, and can create after the catch. … A very good all-around athlete, he may not have blazing speed but it is definitely workable speed, particularly when you throw in his great hands, concentration, and work ethic. He always snatches the ball out of the air instead of using his body to bring the ball in and is not afraid to go over the middle.

Meanwhile, his coach($) acknowledges that he might get caught from behind but when they chuck it 40 yards down the sideline he comes down with it "every time":

"He's such a natural at the receiver position," Daniska said. "He's got a basketball background – in fact I had to talk him into coming out for the team as a sophomore – and he can just leap out of the gym."

Robinson did hit the combine circuit as a sophomore, where he put himself on the map by making "incredibly acrobatic leaping catches" and catching "everything within reach." Soon after that Robinson found himself on Rivals's early watchlists, where he was declared "the most polished wide receiver" in the Ohio class of 2010. The usual praise for his hands and routes are offered. Devin Gardner's(!) assessment focuses on his ability to catch the ball: "when the ball’s in the air he attacks and doesn’t wait for it to get to him." Elsewhere, his coach praises his ability to "go up and fight for the ball." Some MGoSources who attended the Coaches' Clinic praised him as "rangy" and a guy who "knows how to get his body in position.

The evaluations here are all consistent, painting a picture of a guy like Marquise Walker or Junior Hemingway (if Hemingway could ever find himself on the field). He is a Leaping Twisting Jump Ball Guy; the level 60 version of Robinson is Larry Fitzgerald.

About that safety possibility: due to Robinson's widely quoted 4.59 40 (not even a little fake), the seven interceptions he had as a junior, his large frame, and the composition of Michigan's recruiting class people keep bringing it up. Lemming's breathlessness above continues by calling him a "potential All-American" at safety, and the opposing coach he victimized for three interceptions in a state playoff game reacted predictably in the aftermath:

"We throw the ball around pretty well, and I trust my quarterback completely, but in that first half, every time we threw to Robinson's side of the field we got burned," Ifft said. "At the half, I grabbed my quarterback and said, 'I know you've got pride on the line and so do I but we have to avoid this kid. You find No. 4 every time you drop back and you throw somewhere else.'

But he wants to play offense and when he showed at Michigan's camp most observers thought he was the most impressive kid($) around because of the hands and the leaping and you know by now. Afterwards, Michigan receivers coach Tony Dews told him he was playing offense($) "for sure." He's been on campus since January and has gotten more buzz than the other freshmen; with Michigan's two-deep at outside receiver guaranteed to have either a freshman or a slot playing slightly out of position Robinson's no farther from the field on offense than he is on defense. He's likely on offense to stay.

As far as offers go, Michigan was his first and his total disinterest in looking around

"But I have no second thoughts. Coach Rodriguez said if I wasn't sure, I didn't have to decide now. He said there have been a lot of kids de-committing lately, and he didn't want me to make a commitment I wasn't ready to make. But I'm not that kind of person. I'm a Wolverine now and I'm going to be a Wolverine for the rest of my life."

…limits information about how college coaches regarded him. We do know that Pitt was after him

"…the Pittsburgh coach called me after I told him I committed, he came to my school and I told him I committed. He told me that Michigan wasn’t the right place for me and that I could come there to get NFL ready."

…and there are a couple unverifiable claims out there about offers, including the Evil Empire. The article above in which Swigert talks about his ability to leap over high school kids in a single bound claims Robinson landed offers from "every Big Ten and Big East school," which latter okay believable, but the former? GBW's Signing Day capsule directly claims an OSU offer, and a couple of Robinson quotes suggest serious interest…

"Michigan offered me before Ohio State, and that showed me how much interest they had," Robinson told The Wolverine.com. "It's almost like Ohio State was waiting for something, and it's funny because I talked to my coach and he said the OSU coaches wanted to know if I was committing to Michigan because they were getting ready to offer."

…but I'm skeptical of an actual offer since there's an undercurrent of bitterness in his quotes. On the other hand, kid committed February 9th (and still managed to declare "Ohio State waited so long") so it's not like he was waiting for OSU with bated breath.

Etc.: GMBW eval. Game story from his junior year mentions a "brilliant one handed grab" and a 64 catch-and-run TD.

Why Marquise Walker? I've dragged Walker in previous years, as he's my default whenever there's a big leaping jump ball machine coming in, but this is a tight comparison. I mean…

Scouts for the professional football teams described Walker as a "Big physical receiver, who uses his size to muscle the ball away from defenders...Lacks explosive speed, but has exceptional body control and balance."In another scouting report he was described as a "Striding-type runner who is not quick or sudden. Dominates average defensive backs but has a hard time getting separation vs. a good corner."

…which are almost transcriptions of the above scouting reports for Robinson. Both are 6'2"; Robinson will probably exit Michigan around the 210 pounds Walker did.

There is a considerable difference in hype level, as Walker was part of the #1 overall Henson recruiting class and was rated the #2 receiver in the country—behind only future teammate David Terrell. His high school career numbers were ridiculous; Robinson's are meh. But if Robinson turns into a star player, he'll be a lot like Walker. One thing in Robinson's favor: Walker's hands weren't great after he took a hellacious shot from some safety or another, leading NFL teams to criticize his "double catching and body catching"; Robinson's evaluations make him out to be Avant on a pogo stick.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. They all say the same thing but Robinson was hidden in plain sight on Canton South, injured and saddled with a high school version of Sheridan and allergic to camps and combines after his sophomore year. The 4.59 commonly cited as his 40 is a two year old number; though the criticisms are being made on his tape
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Seems like the opposite of a boom-or-bust type. Very likely to be a reliable option as early as this year—either a freshman or a slot has to be on the two-deep—but a guy who will probably top out as a guy you'd really want to be your #2 receiver.
Projection: Plays this year, mostly on special teams, and racks up maybe 10 catches. Sees more action as a sophomore and has a good chance of starting in 2012 when Hemingway and Stonum move on.

Coaches' Clinic Tea Leaves: Offense

Coaches' Clinic Tea Leaves: Offense

Submitted by Brian on April 13th, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Michigan just let in all manner of heathens to observe a couple practices, ping various coaches for information, and take in a Saturday scrimmage; naturally, this has created a ton of internet chatter. Also naturally, large portions of it conflict with other portions of it. There's a faction of super insiders on Rivals declaring Denard Robinson to be a complete disaster and one focused here proclaiming him to be Pat White—except fast! Tate Forcier is either looking like a "walk-on" or the obvious starter, and Devin Gardner is either a total n00b or Vince Young—except fast!

So… yeah. I don't know. Here's my contribution to the melee. First, a non-crippling version of the latest Inside Michigan Football featuring all quarterbacks doing something awesome:

Whenever I hear one of the freshmen speak I get annoyed at all the Dorsey stuff. Yeah, Michigan is totally turning into Jimmy Johnson's Miami.

Anyway, in addition to the posters who got bumped to the front page over the weekend, MGoBlog had a couple of sources who took in the activity late last week. Observations gleaned:

Terminology, or: The Quick And The Dead

One of the toughest things to do as a guy who tries to figure out football and communicate it as a layman is figure out what to call something. Every time I decide to call something X, well meaning folk tell me it should be Y or Z. I tend to apologetically ignore them just so things are relatively clear for readers.

However, if the coaches are all calling something one thing and it's not counter-intuitive I'll go with it. So:

  • Michigan is calling the dual SS in the 3-3-5 "spur" (strongside) and "bandit" (weakside). Some 3-3-5 teams make no distinction between these guys, but it appears that Michigan will flip these guys strong and weak. This leaves the bandit as the guy who will be tested in the occasional deep half, about which more later.
  • The coaches were actually calling the deep safety "strong" for a while but they've reverted to calling him "free." There are good football-related reasons for that weird nomenclature but since they're gone, whatever. I'll return to calling Cam Gordon and other guys who line up there free safeties.
  • The north-south MINOR RAGE run that Michigan's used to good effect the past couple years is something I've been calling "veer," which has been the nomenclature that's drawn the most protests. Michigan calls this their "belly" series.

Spinner: dead. Quick: dead. With this jargon we will ascend to the pillars of knowledge.

denard-robinson-practice Denard Is Not Specious, Unless He Is

My initial reaction to the Denard Robinson hype was the same as Doctor Saturday, who has lumped Tate-Denard-Devin into a list of "specious spring quarterback controversies," but both observers gave tentative, caveat-laden nods to Robinson as the starting quarterback. The difference between last year and this year is vast. That falls just short of incredible since Robinson arrived without any ability to even run the zone read. Many of his plays were Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Zone Stretches run from an empty backfield. Robinson's high school coaching amounted to nil, so it's obvious that he would have a bigger leap forward than Forcier and his years of intensive training.

Robinson is still light years away from Forcier as a passer—his ability to "see and understand the field remains limited"—but in the open field he is ludicrous and now that he's gotten the hang of the zone read he gets in that space frequently. Craig Roh on Robinson:

"I hate Denard on the football field," Roh said. "I love him outside of football, but on the football field, he's just such a nuisance. The quarterbacks here are too fast, and Denard, I just can't catch him. It's ridiculous."

Observer A, a defensively oriented guy, said "as a coordinator you watch him come around the corner on the naked boot and you say uh-oh." Another high school coach told observer B that Denard "runs into traffic just to make defenders look silly." Robinson's athleticism will force defenses to overplay that threat and open up other opportunities.

Tate Forcier remains Tate. One of Michigan's coaches praised Tate's "great strides" in his understanding of the playbook, but what you see is what you get with Forcier: accurate on the run, good scrambler, shortish, meh arm strength. Meanwhile, the undercurrent of coaching discontent with his dedication as a freshman has added another pebble:

"Maybe some of the things that happened early in the season happened a little easier for him," Rodriguez said. "It kind of felt right to him. At the end of the year, he played more like a true freshman at times. And he got banged up a little bit and his concentration wasn't as sharp.

"As coaches, it's our job to make sure he maintains that focus."

The most worrisome thing I hear about Forcier is actually a positive thing related about Gardner. Gardner sets in the pocket and has less of a tendency to start running around than either of the other two quarterbacks, which allows him to go deep more regularly. The offense is a lot of broken plays with both of the short guys. While that's obvious with Robinson, I was hoping Forcier would get more comfortable throwing in the pocket.

Despite that, it will be all but impossible to pull Forcier in favor of Robinson full time when their skill sets are so divergent; a platoon beckons.

As for Devin Gardner, raves about his "incredible feel for the game" from QB coach Rod Smith were relayed via both observers. Other spring hype: "huge," "covers ground without seeming to move" like Vince Young and Terrelle Pryor, and… wait for it… "well ahead of both at this stage." Gardner is a "gym rat" who will happily spend all day watching film. However, he's "nowhere near" having a grasp of the offense and his throwing is erratic. When he's good, he can make deep throws with touch unlike either of the other two, but his overall accuracy lags because of the mechanical issues. His delivery isn't consistent yet. This will not be an enormous surprise to anyone who saw the difference between Camp Devin and Degraded Devin over the course of this high school football season.

This position remains a mess that will not be resolved until UConn, and frankly I'd be surprised to see a single game this year where Michigan goes exclusively with one quarterback. With two polar opposites at the spot, the nominal starter may depend on the relative strength of the opposing defense.

That's just this year. The vibe I got was that Gardner is the future of the position. Maybe not this year, but all bets are off in 2011. The position was described as "loaded," albeit young.

Running Back Battle

Zero clarity here as well. As mentioned earlier, Stephen Hopkins was impressive to Observer B; A was pretty noncommital about the tailbacks. Mike Cox has slipped for whatever reason. Observer B on Hopkins:

The guy is just a freaking monster and he breaks tackles. Now, I can’t say he can block, or knows the offense or can catch the ball. Plus, he fumbled twice (once he was hit at the handoff, on the other instance it might have been the QB’s issue). But man is he a tough tackle on the belly if he can get (even) a yard of momentum.

Shaw and Toussaint seemed like better runners than Cox, as well. This is another spot that will lack clarity until deep into fall unless Vincent Smith (who is jogging but limping badly) comes back fully healthy and establishes himself as the guy.

At fullback, Mark Moundros is playing mostly at linebacker, leaving McColgan the starting FB. He seems okay. Made a couple catches, made a couple blocks. Fullback isn't a huge priority.

jerald-robinson-canton Wide Receivers

Still hard to tell much of anything with two of the top three guys on the outside missing and Michigan focusing on the short stuff, but the freshman making the most of his spring is Jerald Robinson, who is "rangy" and "knows how to get his body in position." That's similar to assessments coming out of his strong summer camp performance.

Jeremy Jackson is also on par with expectations: smart, good routes, great hands, approximately as fast as a tight end. Could this be the guy who actually warrants the incessant Jason Avant comparisons I make? Miller didn't impress in the brief window provided.

Meanwhile, the guys in the slot are reputed to be extremely slippery. Terrance Robinson and Jeremy Gallon are described as "better than a pretty good Big Ten player" in Odoms as long as they're catching the ball. This is not assured: Robinson's hands were the main reason he didn't see the field last year and Observer B praised Odoms's hands while complaining about too many drops in the slot. Coaches were talking up Robinson as a potential contributor, FWIW.

Offensive Line

Offensive line being an esoteric position, I don't have much other than the general positivity even absent David Molk. Taylor Lewan could use another 15 pounds but is still holding down left tackle. Perry Dorrestein is nicked up, which may explain the move. More than likely this is an opportunity Lewan won't pass up and Dorrestein is going to have to battle for the right tackle spot. Insert now-default Jake Long comparisons here. Lewan's not likely to be the #1 pick in the NF L draft but his career trajectory is zipping along at the most optimistic level possible.

The most encouraging thing on the line is the depth. Even with Washington and Dorrestein nicked up there's almost a solid two-deep of players who Michigan could throw on the field without panic:

1. Lewan/Schilling/Khoury/Omameh/Huyge
2. Barnum/Ferrara/Mealer/?/Schofield

Getting Molk back will give Michigan a buffer of three or four competent backup offensive linemen.

Miscellaneous

Remember last year's complaint about Michigan potentially tipping their run plays based on the position of the quarterback? This was the setup position on a zone stretch…

zone-read-stretch

…and this was Michigan's belly (which this blog called "veer") series:

zone-read-belly

From the sideline shot it's pretty obvious what's going on here. QB in front of RB: north-south. QB behind RB: east-west. I'm not entirely sure a defense is going to be aware enough to make an adjustment based on this—it's a lot easier to tell when you're way far away on a sideline—but it can't help.

The coaches apparently have the same concern. They've moved away from this paradigm in favor of something they believe will disguise their intent better. What it is I don't know. It sounds like at the very least the QB is going to move late, like a split second before the snap, if not after. This strikes me as something that Debord would never do.

(FWIW: They did try to mix it up some after practicing for Illinois' zone read veer—which I think is, like, really a veer until someone corrects me on it in the next 60 seconds—but that wasn't successful and was abandoned. I wouldn't write it off entirely, FWIW. It's possible a newly capable Denard Robinson makes that crazy effective.)

Defense tomorrow.

Spring Practice Tidbits

Spring Practice Tidbits

Submitted by TomVH on March 25th, 2010 at 12:58 PM

I’ve talked to a few people about spring practice  and some of the early enrollees' progress. There’s nothing earth shattering, since we’re basically only 5 practices in, but here’s what I’ve been hearing so far.

-    Stephen Hopkins has actually lost 15 pounds; he’s at about 228 now.

-    Christian Pace has already gained 15 pounds.

-    Jerald Robinson has gained somewhere between 10-15 pounds, and has been mentioned quite a bit. A lot of buzz around him, and the catches he’s made.

-    Anthony LaLota is up around 260 pounds now. Unfortunately, he has an elbow injury.

-    Cameron Gordon is the most surprising for everyone. His name keeps coming up. I’ve heard that he tackles well and has really good coverage skills. The people I’ve talked to say he’s just a natural ball hawk. Good decision to move him to safety.

-    The offense looks more in sync than last year, despite Molk being out. It’s practice, though, so everyone looks good. It feels like there’s a lot of competition out there.

-    A lot of the early enrollees have a chip on their shoulder. They want to play early.

-    Pat Omameh has impressed everybody. Everyone has described him as “huge.”

-    Justin Turner is progressing as well as everyone has hoped. There is no reason for concern

with him. I think everyone had high expectations for him, and he seems to be meeting those.

-    Jeremy Gallon has been practicing really well. The person I spoke with about him said he’s really fast, and coming along nicely.

-    JT Floyd has been working really hard to see the field. He’s a case where he has more confidence this year, which will help. He understands more of what he’s doing this year.

Wednesday Recruitin'

Wednesday Recruitin'

Submitted by Tim on January 6th, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Boards of note:

Trench Warfare

hankins.jpgLots of changes on the defensive tackle recruiting front in the past couple days.

First things first, MI DT Johnathon Hankins picked Ohio State yesterday over the Wolverines. Allow me to editorialize for a moment here: This blog has a tag called "basketball recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich," but if half of the rumors about the Southeastern coaching staff's handling of Hankins's recruitment are true, we may need to expand that tag to football as well. Genuinely Sarcastic provides some angry detail.

FL DT Todd Chandler seems to be looking primarily at Louisville as an option outside of USF (where he is committed). Michigan might become a stronger option if his teammate, FL OL Torrian Wilson, visits Ann Arbor, but this one appears to be on the back-burner for now. Chandler's top schools have gone from the likes of Miami, Michigan, and Florida to Memphis, Louisville, and FIU, so he may have some issues—grades?—that are causing bigger schools to back off.

Wilson, by the way, is down to USF, Michigan, and Tennessee. Michigan could really use another offensive lineman in the class.

Cincinnati high school sports reporter Mike Dyer reports that Michigan visited OH DT/DE Jibreel Black both in-home and in-school on Monday. Black, who has been committed to Cincinnati, but is reconsidering after the Brian Kelly departure, will also visit Michigan sometime this month, probably the weekend of the 22nd. According to Dyer's full article, the Wolverines have replaced Louisville on his list.

Michigan has a couple defensive ends and a couple three-tech defensive tackles so all they need is a nose; if they pick up Black it's because they really like him.

All-Star Updates

More on his actual game performance in a delayed Friday Night Lights post next week, but MI QB Devin Gardner participated in the Under Armour All-American Bowl on Saturday. He impressed in practice:

"(Devin Gardner) really impressed me a lot," [Scout Florida expert Geoff] Vogt added. "He was bigger than I expected him to be. His arm was everything that people made it out to be. He was accurate... He clearly, in my opinion, is the top quarterback on that team... He'd be the No. 1 quarterback in Florida straight out this year and that's really saying something. I think he has a really bright future at Michigan."

Of course, being the clear #1 QB on the team got him by far the fewest snaps out of the 3 QBs, with Nick Montana and Phillip Sims getting more (the order was determined randomly, FWIW). That Webb article also says that Michigan is pursuing Tennessee commit LB Michael Taylor. I've added him to the board. Taylor remains a soft commit to the Vols.

FL CB Tony Grimes participated in last weekend's Offense-Defense Bowl, and MGoReader J. Lichty reports that opposing offenses mostly stayed away from him. He played both corner and safety. MGoBlog's own TomVH talked to Grimes last week, and he reiterated what we've been hearing for some time on both Grimes and his teammate, FL DE Clarence Murphy:

TOM: Are you and Clarence still planning on going to the same school?

TONY: As far as this point, yes that's the plan.

TOM: Is Michigan still on top for you?

TONY: Yes.

The two still both favor Michigan, and plan to announce on Signing Day. Tony also said that he didn't know there was a dead period between college coaches and recruits, and was wondering why Michigan wasn't contacting him as much. Sounds like other schools haven't quite been following the rules. THE NCAA WILL BE ALL OVER THIS!

This upcoming weekend is a little more notable for Michigan fans: Commits WI P Will Hagerup and PA CB Cullen Christian will play in the US Army All-American Bowl, and CA S Sean Parker who is down to Michigan, Cal, and USC, will also participate.

Early Enrollment

The semester started today, so we should finally have a good idea of which 2010 Michigan commits were able to get in for the winter semester and spring practice.

MI QB Devin Gardner is still trying to enroll early, but Inkster's semester ends really late and there are some issues with getting him accelerated. Michigan should know by the end of the week whether he will or not. Stephen Hopkins, Jerald Robinson, Ricardo Miller, Christian Pace, Jeremy Jackson, and Austin White are all enrolling, though as of Wednesday morning Robinson and Miller did not have UMich directory entries. Marvin Robinson is also making an effort to enroll early:

Robinson, who took 3 classes over the summer in an attempt to graduate in December, said the holdup stems with 2 classes he took last semester.

"Most likely things are going to work out where I can go up there tomorrow," Robinson said.

Even if things don't, Robinson said he's firm in his commitment and will sign with Michigan in February.

I don't recall if the Athletic Department announced early-enrolling prospects last year until after Signing Day, but hopefully we'll have the final data by the end of this week.

Meanwhile, FL CB Adrian Witty was also supposed to be a midseason enroller after not qualifying for fall but is not in the Michigan directory. It's looking grimmer for Witty by the day; from the sounds of it he is qualified in the eyes of the NCAA; Michigan's admissions are the holdup. The most likely issue is a radically improved test score that got flagged.

Persistent rumors that TX RB/WR Tony Drake is so far from qualifying that he shouldn't even be considered part of the class any more get stronger by the day.

2011

Maxpreps published its Junior All-American teams, with few prospect of interest for Michigan fans, outside of a couple pipe dreams. SoFlaFootball has also published its first 2011 top 75.

FL RB Demetrius Hart may not be the Michigan lock that we thought:

The 5-foot-8, 175-pounder has had the Wolverines out in front for some time and continues to do so, though he jokingly said that cold temperatures in the Orlando area recently may have him thinking a little.

So, yeah: That's not as negative as the headline "Florida Prospect Considers Local Programs" would make it seem. It would still be an upset for him to not land in Ann Arbor.

Michigan has offered a trio of prospects from Gardena Serra High School in California. WR George Farmer appears to be the headliner, holding offers from a who's-who of bigtime schools, including Florida and Oklahoma. DE Jason Gibson and S Marquise Lee have also received Michigan offers, along with scholarships from the likes of Miami (Yes That Miami), Oregon, and Washington.

Etc.

Michigan commits Tony Drake and Austin White come in at #8 and #10, respectively on Sports Illustrated's top running backs of 2010.

Canton South v. Dover

Canton South v. Dover

Submitted by Tim on August 28th, 2009 at 2:07 PM

Robinsonrec.JPG

Last night, Paul and I took in a game at Canton South High School, the home of 2010 wide receiver commit Jerald Robinson. The Wildcats took on the Dover Tornadoes, one of their big rivals in Ohio's Division 3. Since this was a pretty big game, the local TV stations were in attendance, and the game was televised live in the area.

The game got off to an unceremonious start for Canton South, as their first play from scrimmage was a snap over the quarterback's head, recovered by Dover near the 3 yard line. The Tornadoes easily punched it into the endzone, and Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff near the 30 yard line. Two plays later, lightning struck again, as their running back fumbled the ball, and Dover recovered yet again, easily converting another touchdown.

From that point forward, Canton South had to throw the ball to stay in the game, something that was tough to do with an overwhelmed quarterback in his first game. When I predicted whether Robinson would be able to move up in the rankings, I said the QB play would be a factor - so don't expect him to have much of an opportunity to move up.

Robinson was targeted a couple times early on slants, and ran one reverse for 7 yards, but later in the game, he was hardly getting the ball thrown his way at all, and oftentimes wasn't even running routes as the QB rolled away from his side of the field. I would guess that he got slightly injured early in the game (and he did have his ankle rolled at one point but got immediately back up), and couldn't cut as well as he'd like. Later in the game, when they started throwing his way again, it was almost exclusively on fade routes, which were mostly well-defensed or poorly-thrown. Defensively, he didn't always appear to put in the utmost effort, and though part of that may be a matter of scheme (don't let anybody get behind you, no matter what happens), he also seemed hesitant to tackle at times, and his better upside seems to be at wideout. He finished with 2 receptions for 6 yards, 1 solo and 6 assisted tackles, and one 7-yard rush.

The Wildcats mounted a valiant comeback effort on the back of two catch-and-run touchdown receptions by James Lucas, the team's #2 receiver, but the deficit was too much for them to overcome, and they ended up on the wrong side of a 27-14 result. The teams were fairly evenly matched (especially with South not being able to use their whole playbook playing from behind), and if they played again, the result could just as easily go the other way.

Video Highlights (Photo Gallery included in next week's Friday Night Lights feature).

Tuesday Recruitin'

Tuesday Recruitin'

Submitted by Tim on August 25th, 2009 at 9:57 AM

A pretty light week as most high school prospects are focusing on preparation for their senior season, rather than recruiting. Once official visits start rolling, it should get interesting again. All updates can be seen on the 2010 Recruiting Board.

Your Weekly Semi-Creepy Devin Gardner Update - Now with Co(r?)nelius Jones!

gardnerlift.jpg

Fluff on MI QB Commit Devin Gardner. It's nothing you've never heard before, if you're more inclined to not click Free Press links.

Inkster has eight road games and three brutal trips to Ohio to play against Cleveland St. Edward, St. Ignatius and Steubenville High -- all powers.

With no home games and needing to win five games just to make the playoffs, Gardner's situation is different from any top-flight quarterback in the state.

I've yet to figure out why the Vikings have no home games. There's a pretty good photo gallery by the Free Press, as well. There was video floating around the interwebs of Gardner's performance at a scrimmage last week, but it appears to have been taken down.

Rivals AMP caught up with QB Commit Cornelius Jones. They're currently not allowing embedding of said video, but Jones says he's 100% solid with Michigan. He's open to switching positions once he gets to Ann Arbor, but will come in as a quarterback. Jones's high school season began on Friday, and you can see how it went in this week's Friday Night Lights feature.

By the way - there's still some confusion about whether Jones's first name is "Cornelius" or "Conelius" (no 'r'). Alas, I've been unable to definitively clear that issue up, so I'll continue with option A until it can be settled once and for all.

Officially Visitin' (Or Not)

Hopefully once the season gets underway, I'll be able to devote an entire section of each recruiting post to that week's docket of visitors. For now:

OH TE Alex Smith has started talking about his favorites, despite being "committed" to Cincinnati. I think at this time it's fair to say he's no longer a commit to the Bearcats, they just lead for him. Wisconsin and UNC are atop his list behind Cincy, with Kentucky shortly behind. Smith's only scheduled official visit thus far is to Wisconsin for the season opener, and a Michigan visit no longer sounds like a lock.

WI P Will Hagerup had named his official visit to Michigan for the Western game on September 5, those plans are changing. He'll now head to Ann Arbor for the Indiana game on September 26th. This will be his last official visit before deciding, which is a minor boost to Michigan's chances.

Michigan will get an official visit from VA LB Aramide Olaniyan, currently a Duke commit ($, info in header). He's taking all five visits, so the Wolverines may have a chance to pry him away with Duke if they really want him.

Though there was talk about who would be getting Sharrif Floyd's official visits in the last update, he intends to change his plans for those visits ($, info in header). Since Michigan was not under consideration in the previous list, any chage is good for the Wolverines. No word on whether they're in his newly-adjusted plans.

Scouting Reports? Scouting Reports

Rivals covered a couple scrimmages, and talks about a couple M prospects of note:

S- Latwan Anderson- Glenville- After turning in a great performance vs. Elyria Catholic from the safety spot, Anderson put on a show at wide receiver against Cardinal Mooney. He made a spectacular catch above his head along the sideline against Braylon Heard. He also made a circus one-handed catch out of bounds that drew loud applause from the crowd. At safety, he forced a fumble at the goal line on Braylon Heard.

WR- D.J. Williamson (Michigan commit)- Warren Harding- Speed will never be an issue with Williamson, he can really glide on the football field. He is still growing into a natural receiver, but should really benefit from having a solid passing quarterback take over at Harding, transfer Jordan Miller. Williamson also played some cornerback, and showed good ability to break on the football.

Williamson sounds like a potential sleeper; you can't teach speed. Ohio HS Sports.com also took a look at a few players, including WR Jerald Robinson:

Jerald Robinson, WR/DB , Canton South -- Michigan commit is always a big-play threat and also had 7 interceptions last year. His three-year QB has graduated and he'll face double and triple teams, but he'll still produce.

So, hooray for that, I guess. A lot more preview-type stuff on Michigan commits in Friday Night Lights.

Defensive Backin'

OH S/WR Bobby Swigert has narrowed to a list of four suitors: M, Stanford, Nebraska, and BC.

If things go as planned, Cullen Christian may end up as the "Guy Everyone Took For Granted And Aren't Excited When He Commits" for the class of 2010. He's still saying good thing about Michigan, and will play multiple positions for Penn Hills this season:

"Michigan is No. 1, but I probably won't make my decision until sometime during the season. I don't know how close I am to pulling the trigger...

Teams didn't throw the ball to my side much last year. At safety, I can make plays."

He is taking official visits to UCLA, WVU, and Maryland in the first month of the football season. I would presume one more official visit, then hopefully a commitment to Michigan when he takes his final visit to Ann Arbor.

FL CB Tony Grimes has narrowed to a top 3 of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ole Miss. He does not plan to make a final decision until Signing Day.

Etc.:

CA WR Kenny Stills is still nominally considering Michigan. I wouldn't get your hopes up, though he may be taking an official visit. OH DE Derrick Bryant once favored Michigan, but now it appears as though he doesn't want to play in the Big Ten ($, info in header). He currently favors UCLA, Oregon, Kentucky, and North Carolina. MD OL Arie Kouandjio has named 8 schools on top of his recruitment, and Michigan isn't among them. He's bumped down to a Nefarious Eduardo, and is soon to be removed. Removed FL CB Eric Mitchell, who committed to Ole Miss.

Michigan Recruits: Movin' And Shakin'

Michigan Recruits: Movin' And Shakin'

Submitted by Tim on August 5th, 2009 at 3:15 PM

On Monday MGoBlog took a look at current commits unlikely to move up.

Rivals and Scout rankings are useful but imperfect, and early rankings are more imperfect still. Though Michigan freshman Taylor Lewan ended up a 4-star prospect to both major recruiting site, he entered his senior season virtually unknown. By the time final rankings had come out he was a four star well within everyone's top 150. 

The following players look to be this year's Lewan and have some upward mobility this fall. Not all will move up, of course, but look for one or two of the below players to gain a fourth star, or, in Devin Gardner's case, a fifth.

MI QB Devin Gardner

devin-gardner
  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating **** **** 150*
Ranking DT QB #2 QB #6  

Why Here? Devin has been compared to Terrelle Pryor and Vince Young, so it stands to reason that he is highly-ranked. He took his team to the state championship game (in which the Vikings lost to East Grand Rapids), and put together a solid junior campaign both on the ground and through the air.

All of the recruiting sites like Devin, but none of them love him yet. Barry Brunetti is listed ahead of him among dual-threats on Rivals, and Gardner is still chasing that elusive 5th star on Scout.

Prediction: This isn't much of a prediction. Multiple Rivals analysts have stated flat-out that Gardner will be their #1 dual threat QB and comfortably in the top 100 when they take the Elite 11 into consideration. He has shown off his athleticism—and willingness to compete—by attending various camps and combines in the summer before his senior season despite his early commitment to Michigan. He has shown potential greatness at QB, WR, and even defensive back(!); his versatility is not in question. He killed it at the Elite 11.

Unless he completely tanks this season, anything other than 5 stars will be a disappointment for Devin.

SC QB Cornelius Jones

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** ** 77
Ranking DT QB #24 QB NR  

Why Here? Cornelius Jones's junior season didn't go well. He got exposure during it, playing highly-ranked teams within the state of South Carolina in every game, but his team wasn't good. The competition (like Byrnes, the home of Marcus Lattimore, Brandon Willis, et al, who Spartanburg played twice) was. Jones ended up throwing just 1 touchdown to 12 interceptions.

Michigan extended an informal offer last April and followed through with an official offer in January. He was among the first QBs that the Michigan coaching staff extended an offer to, so they think highly of him despite the inexperience. There's something there.

Prediction: Jones' polish-to-talent ratio is very low, and his learning curve may be quick. A player doesn't have offers in the summer before his junior season if he's not talented (especially when he didn't even play as a sophomore). He's done much better in summer 7-on-7 camps, leading Spartanburg to a tournament final against Byrnes amongst a crowded field of quality programs.

Even if he can't prove his worth as a QB, the recruiting services might rank him as an athlete. If he can have a decent enough year in his senior season, he could end up a fringe 4-star guy. At the very least he should pick up a third star from Scout and get bumped up a bit in the positional rankings.

One heartening item: his high school coaching staff will have a year under their belt coaching as well. Last year was their first in Spartanburg.

TX RB/Slot Tony Drake

Tony Drake
  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** ** 77
Ranking APB #16 RB NR  

Why Here? Drake is the sort of guy who can excel in the Rich Rodriguez offense, but isn't likely to be considered for a high ranking by the recruiting sites. He's a speedy little bastard who performs despite his diminutive stature, and probably wouldn't last long in the NFL.

Drake was productive as a receiver as a sophomore, but was relegated to a backup running back last year.

Prediction: He is at one of the right programs to have success at: Skyline routinely pumps out a talent, and is one of the most visible high school teams in the nation. The stage is set for Tony Drake to take a big leap forward.

Now he just has to perform. Being named second team all-district at WR as a sophomore proves he might have the skill to get it done. I was pretty dubious on Drake's ability to move up, but there is an the opportunity in front of him.

OH WR Jerald Robinson

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating **** *** 77
Ranking WR #43 WR #68  

Why Here? Robinson hasn't gotten it done on the field yet. A bad QB situation may have played a role in that. He is also a multi-position player that nobody knows exactly where to place. Originally, most Michigan fans thought he would play safety. After an impressive camp performance, however, nobody knows quite where he will play. At the moment, it seems like he'll stay at wideout.

If the quarterback situation at Canton South doesn't get better, Robinson won't have a opportunity to produce. However, if it improves, he can move up with a much better year.

Prediction Sam Webb was really high on Robinson as the best wideout at Michigan's camp, which was also attended by the likes of Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson. That alone indicates that Robinson is an talent deserving of 4-star status.

With impressive performances this summer—and hopefully a better season as a senior—Robinson will have a shot at getting a fourth star on Scout, too.

OH WR DJ Williamson

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 77
Ranking WR NR WR #106  

Why Here? DJ Williamson is unknown. Though he has a highlight film on Scouting Ohio, the recruiting services either don't know much about him or didn't deem him worthy of even a 3-star ranking until recently. Williamson committed early and has not attended any camps, so his exposure is very low. Scout and Rivals both have him at three stars (finally), but he is way, way down on each of their wideout lists.

There is upside here: Williamson has decent size at 6-1 showed elite speed by winning the 100m dash in meet after meet on his way to the Ohio state title.

Prediction: If Warren finds a quarterback to get the ball to him, Williamson's size and speed alone should boost him up to a high 3-star. Four stars is doubtful for a guy who hasn't put in the time at combines and camps.

MI WR/TE Jeremy Jackson

FBH HUR V SAL 4 OF 8 EG
  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 150*
Ranking WR NR WR #78  

Why Here? The son of a coach, Jackson got early offers from the likes of Florida and Texas before ending his recruitment early. He is a polished player as a coach's son. He had good, but not exceptional stats as a junior.

Players who have received lots of coaching in their careers but aren't dominant in high school, usually don't have the physical talents to be elite players. And with Huron moving to a veer option offense, Jackson may not have a lot of opportunity to prove that he deserves to be ranked among the top players in the nation.

Prediction You may be taken aback at first by the fact that Jackson is listed as a WR/TE. Sam Webb has been saying on the WTKA recruiting roundup for quite some time now that Jeremy is still growing, and currently looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver. With Michigan's new focus on athletic tight ends, they might encourage a further move in that direction. Jackson may have more upside there, and if the recruiting sites make this change in position, he could move up to a 4-star prospect.

[Editor's note: I would have slotted Jackson in the other group; he's polished and slow-ish, two things that don't often result in big senior-year moves. Also: high school to run a veer. To be fair, Tim's basing his assessment on Jackson as a tight end.]

OH DE/LB Antonio Kinard

  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 77
Ranking LB NR DE #55  

Why Here? Kinard is the third in the trifecta of tweeners Michigan has committed on defense (the other two, Ken Wilkins and Jordan Paskorz, were listed as “Stuck in Neutral”). He doesn't stand out on film more than most prospects, which leads to his 3-star ranking. And with two classmates a year older heading to Michigan, he probably got at his fair share of scouting.

But Kinard is athletic, as evidenced by his huge TD run in the game that I scouted with VB last year, and Duane Long also thinks he's got serious athletic ability.

Prediction: Kinard wasn't highly productive on a defense last year that featured current Michigan freshman Isaiah Bell roaming the secondary. You'd think that an imposing safety like Bell would give Kinard more opportunities to make plays, but he didn't. He has the athleticism, though, the potential for big time production is there.

Unlike Paskorz and Wilkins, I think Kinard is likely to stay at LB. Still, I think he'll be a low-4 or higher 3-star prospect. A big move is unlikely for a tweener.

OH CB Courtney Avery

courtney-avery-2
  Rivals Scout ESPN
Rating *** *** 73
Ranking DB NR CB #23  

Why Here? Avery, a star for Lexington High School for the last three years, is not underexposed. The problem is that he has starred as a diminutive quarterback. Avery only started playing on defense just this past year, but couldn't go full time since he was busy tearing up opposing defenses on the other side of the ball. Now that he knows where he’ll play in college, that might change.

If Avery was a couple inches taller. He could be a Troy Smith clone (not that Smith was a giant) and use his pinpoint accuracy and athleticism to direct Michigan's spread offense. Alas, he's not, so unless he's used for the occasional trick play on offense, he'll be a corner for GERG's defense.

Prediction  Avery has some of the best upside in Michigan's entire recruiting class so far. Local observer Duane Long thinks Michigan got "a steal." Avery is just one year into his new position, potentially still growing, and was deemed good enough by Michigan's coaches to receive an offer at camp after a week of personal observation. If he can take enough time off from blazing through opposing defenses, he should be able to move up in the rankings. Avery's a quintessential late mover.

Tuesday Recruitin'

Tuesday Recruitin'

Submitted by Brian on July 7th, 2009 at 2:02 PM

Update 7/7: Video of FL RB Cassius McDowell.

Linked to articles on MI DE CJ Olaniyan, OH S Latwan Anderson, OH DT Terry Talbott (second), WI P Will Hagerup, FL RB Cassius McDowell, FL CB Tony Grimes (second), OH WR Jerald Robinson, OH OL Andrew Donnal, OH OL Christian Pace.

Removed PA WR Andrew Carswell (Pitt), OH RB Spencer Ware, OH OL Andrew Rotheram, OH RB Roderick Smith(OSU), GA CB Darius Robinson (dropped M), OH RB Andre Givens, FL LB Zach Allen (Wake), GA DE Henry Anderson (Stanford), NY DE Dominic Easley (dropped M).

Dior Mathis stuff. More EEEE about Gardner from Lemming. The Daily Gopher is going all tracky on Seantrel Henderson.

Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. What happened this week? Nothing!

Well, not much. Things that did happen:

Happy Trails

Eh, a bunch of guys off the board as folks get serious about narrowing their lists in preparation for official visits and whatnot. The board is now thinning the herd. In groups:

  • Apparent plan B guys without offers or without, you know, commitable ones: OH OL Andrew Rotheram, OH RB Andre Givens, and probably PA WR Andrew Carswell since he's an ACK WR.
  • Guys who never seemed interested: OH RB Spencer Ware, IN RB Roderick Smith, GA CB Darius Robinson, and NY DE Dominic Easley.
  • Mild disappointments: FL LB Zach Allen and GA DE Henry Anderson.

None of these guys were in the core group of guys who have expressed serious interest, but Allen's commitment to Wake Forest just about shuts Michigan out of Pahokee this year. Anderson, meanwhile, was a strongside DE candidate with a nice set of offers, family from Wisconsin, and an academic mindset. He would have been a nice addition to Michigan's thin defensive line class; Harbaugh snatched him up for Stanford.

Hello Early

Michigan brought in a third of its last class early, and that trend isn't slowing down. OH OL Christian Pace plans on enrolling early, joining at least Ricardo Miller and Jerald Robinson. I thought I had seen a couple other commits announce their intent to show early, as well, but when I reviewed the board I only had EE markers next to those two. If anyone has additions to that list, the comments beckon.

While we're on Pace, I've mentioned his intelligence makes him well-suited to center in the past; his coach agrees:

“He’s very intelligent,” Shoremen coach Dave Dlugosz said. “Some players understand: I’ve got to block this player on this play. Christian can look at the defense and he understands the concept of the play, and he’s capable of making adjustments not only for himself but for the rest of the team as well.

“He plays tackle for us, but Michigan is going to move him to center, where he’ll be responsible for making most of the blocking calls.”

Aaand a little more quoteporn:

I had a number of college scouts tell me that might be the best senior lineman tape in the whole United States, it was that good,” Dlugosz said. “He’s a very, very physical player. He’s an individual that has tremendous footwork and he’s very agile. He loves the physical part of the game and he knows how to finish blocks.”

That echoes Rivals' assessment of the tape; the only thing holding Pace back is an overall lack of hugeness that makes him an imperfect fit for offenses other than the spread and limits his pro potential. Everything else points to a long-term starter. This is one of those guys you can credibly argue is a four-or-five star to Michigan even if the recruiting sites don't give him the gold star.

Pace will have a tough time unseating a then-senior David Molk when he's a redshirt freshman, but he's got at least a 50-50 shot at the starting job after that, as Rocko Khoury is the only sure center on the roster at the moment.

Speaking Of

Kurelic caught up with OH WR Jerald Robinson, who had a couple of interesting things to offer. Thing the first is a bunch of offers:

Since selecting the Wolverines, Robinson said he has added offers from Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Syracuse, Pitt, Cincinnati and a few others. The additional offers have not changed Robinson's thinking.

Some ammo for the theory that Rodriguez identifies talent better than others there.

Thing the second is some clarity on his position after Michigan's camp:

"At first the Michigan coaches were talking about defense," Robinson said. "But after they saw me at their camp (in June) they said they want me to play wide receiver."

Odd, since there were quotes from Robinson when he committed about playing receiver. Maybe the assertion was Michigan keeping the door open for a move to safety, rather than suggesting he'd definitely come in as one. Either way, that's off the table after Robinson caught everything in sight at Michigan's camp. He must have been extremely impressive given the current composition of Michigan's roster and recruiting class, which is heavy on receivers and light on safeties.

Weekly Gardner Eeee

Lemming reiterating his stance on MI QB Devin Gardner:

(Inkster quarterback) Devin Gardner is five-star player, and (Marvin) Robinson, a safety out of Florida, is one of the best. All of the other guys have one thing in common -- they are all really fast. They're all guys who fit Rich Rodriguez's system.

Getting Gardner was key, because he's an impact player. He's a great athlete, he's big (6-4, 200), and in the right hands, which is Rodriguez, he's going to be fantastic. He's going to be a great player. He needs to work on his precision as a quarterback, but he is a terrific athlete. And the quarterback out of South Carolina (Cornelius Jones) has a lot of potential. These are two quarterbacks who can run the spread.

That's the first I've heard about Jones from any recruiting analyst, by the way. Not that it's hugely useful or anything, but there you go.

Lemming goes on to say Michigan's locked down a bunch of good players and now needs just a couple positions: corner and defensive tackle. About that…

Wha?

So, yeah, Dior Mathis has a "new top two($)," and since Michigan was the presumed leader in the past this cannot be good news in their pursuit. The two leaders are now apparently Oregon and Michigan State, though the Oregon lead has to be flimsy since he's never even been to Eugene.

I'm not sure what to think about this. It sounds like Mathis has struggled considerably during the summer camp circuit—at every camp he and Mylan Hicks showed at, Hicks was mentioned first and foremost amongst corners—and Michigan has a number of other corners on the hook with better offers, if not ratings.

Here's one, FL CB Tony Grimes:

The 6-0, 170-pound Grimes reported this weekend that he will be making that official visit to Ann Arbor the weekend of Sept. 11, to coincide with the Wolverines’ home matchup with Notre Dame.

Grimes also plans officials to Ole Miss, Alabama, and Georgia, but those haven't been set yet. Miami is also thought to be a strong contender; he named UGA, M, and Ole Miss to SC-based Phil Kornblut when asked the "who's recruiting you hardest?" question.

Meanwhile at defensive tackle, the reason Michigan didn't react to MI DT Jonathan Hankins' Ohio State offer might be because he never got one. That would be more explicable than his wildly variant set of offers, which is basically "Oklahoma, Ohio State, and… uh… Virginia?"

Another name of note is OH DT Terry Talbott, who did well at Ohio State's camp:

A player whose name has come up on this blog has surfaced as a star of camp. Huber Heights Wayne defensive tackle prospect Terry Talbott has come in and put on a show. … He is just beating his opponents with elite level explosion off the ball. I have not heard measurables listed yet but the words "physical specimen" are being thrown about.

Michigan, UCLA, and Wisconsin have already extended offers; Ohio State appears to be waiting. Michigan has also offered Talbott's younger brother, a 2010 cornerback exactly nine months younger than him. (Which, like, whoah: you go, Father Talbott.) The elder Talbott is waiting:

"I'm going to wait it out," Talbot said. "I'm not going to make an early commitment. I'm going to wait until the football season is over before I pick a college."

Back to Deerfield Beach

Michigan's focus at tailback appears to be MI RB Austin White and FL RB Eduardo Clements, but if either or both of those guys fall through they could be in the market for someone else. FL RB Cassius McDowell, a former teammate of Witty and Robinson, has scheduled M as his first official, and JC Shurburtt says that Michigan is his leader.

Here he is in flight:

Eh? His style is weirdly lackadaisical. McDowell plans on waiting, so Michigan will be given the opportunity to pursue the aforementioned duo before McDowell makes up his mind.

Etc.: MN OL Seantrel Henderson will be tracked in excruciating detail by the Daily Gopher from here on out, FWIW. OH OL Andrew Donnal favors Iowa heavily($). OSU offered WI P Will Hagerup. MI DE CJ Olaniyan is cutting down to a top 5.