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.


RATING: 2.5.


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.]

Fall Camp Presser 8-3-17: Tim Drevno

Fall Camp Presser 8-3-17: Tim Drevno

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 4th, 2017 at 10:45 AM



Jim said during media days that the three of them [Speight, Peters, and O’Korn] are basically tied. What, in your mind, separates one quarterback from another? Not specifically, but whoever wins out, what’s going to be the difference for them?

“We feel that’s the best player for us to win football games with.”

What are your thoughts on ever having multiple quarterbacks play regularly?
”I think you could do that. At times you have different packages and things. Going into a football game you’re always trying to look for the best way to attack the defense and if that’s something that presents a problem for the team that you’re playing then.”

What do you think about this fall that being an option?

“I don’t know yet. It’s so early in camp. We’re still putting this thing together and putting the offensive concepts together and things we’re doing, so we’ll see as we go.”

Jim talked about maybe ten practices or so to decide, to really know on a quarterback. How about offensive line? How long into camp is it before you get a good sense of that?

“It just depends, you know. Could be practice ten, could be practice 12. We just put pads on yesterday and things change when you put pads on. You know, with the competition of hitting and physicality and moving people off the ball and things moving faster. As we go we’ll make that decision.”

[After THE JUMP: RT possibilities; finding OL six, seven, and eight; how the staff complements each other]

Unverified Voracity Converts Speed To Power

Unverified Voracity Converts Speed To Power

Submitted by Brian on July 13th, 2017 at 1:32 PM


Sponsor note! If you're headed down to Dallas for the Florida game, the alumni association has packages that may be of interest. The star: an air-conditioned, open bar tailgate with adjacent parking. They've got various packages available, including a ticket + tailgate combo ($300 for adults) and a travel package with two nights at the Omni Forth Worth, transportation, tickets, and the tailgate for $799. The deadline for that is the end of the month. 

Hit up the Alumni Association website for more details.

Bill Connelly preview time. That defensive radar though:


That's from Connelly's comprehensive preview of this year's edition of Michigan. It's good, read it. S&P+ projects Michigan 10th nationally but has them just on the wrong side of 10-2 versus 9-3.

I have but one semi-quibble: as he runs down the many departures from last year's team he notes that three all-conference OL are gone. This is somehow true—both Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden made the second team—but that's an artifact of the All Big Ten coach's selections being the SID's selections and their long tenure as senior starters on a good team. A more accurate measure of the departed players' prowess is that none of them got drafted, or even invited to the combine. I think most Michigan fans are expecting a step forward on the OL despite the departures. (As long as right tackle isn't a disaster.)

Speaking of that offensive line. This is a bit of a frustrating thing to hear in re: last year.

"This year has been a lot more serious," Kugler said. "We've been getting out there and putting in the work. We'll hit the sleds occasionally but that's more for fall camp. It's about getting the technique down properly and just running through blitz cards and stuff like that, getting ready to for what we'll see against Florida."

The level of seriousness is not dependent on Jim Harbaugh, that's for sure. In the offseason it's up to the players to do it themselves, and apparently this is another level from the guys who were more Hoke holdovers than not.

Here's an excellent definition of "speed to power." From Jon Runyan Jr:

"Rashan's going to be one of the best players in the country, going up against him in practice every day is only going to help everyone -- he's the measuring stick for everyone here," offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. says. "He'll do this thing off the edge, they call it speed-to-power. You think he's just speed rushing you and then he comes through with a bull rush and he blows you back five yards."

Also, Rashan Gary is good.

Still a good decision. DJ Wilson is impressing in the NBA summer league:

Through three NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas, Wilson is averaging 14.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 blocks in 27.7 minutes per game. Draining 5 of 13 3-pointers, throwing down dunks and guarding multiple positions, the 6-foot-10 forward has made a strong first impression with his new franchise.

"He's a specimen," said Milwaukee guard and 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year winner Malcolm Brogdon. "He's big, he's athletic. Very skilled. I really like him, I think he's going to be really, really good for us."

He also signed a contract worth six million dollars, so he's got that going for him.

In other Michigan-to-the-NBA news, Derrick Walton might stick with the Orlando Magic. The Magic just waived their backup PG before his contract became guaranteed. The current roster situation:

C.J. Watson is a candidate to be cut soon (his contract becomes guaranteed on July 10) and the Magic are likely shopping D.J. Augustin’s contract, so it is possible there will be an opportunity for Walton, although the recent acquisition of point guard Shelvin Mack complicates the logistics.

If the Magic indeed move Watson and Augustin, Walton would conceivably have a chance at a job as the third point guard on the Magic behind Shelvin Mack and starter Elfrid Payton (although Kalin Lucas of the Erie Bayhawks, the Magic’s G-League affiliate, might have something to say about that).

Walton isn't an NBA athlete unless he's going for a defensive rebound, but efficient pull-up three maestros can find a spot in the league despite other deficiencies. Hopefully he sticks. If not he can be a star in Europe.

More on Josh Norris. NHL gent scouting Josh Norris after his participation at the San Jose Sharks summer camp:

"One of those guys when they're first skating around, the first five minutes, you go, 'He can move,' " Sommer said. "And a lot of guys are like that, and then you put a puck on their stick and they slow down, but he skates the same way with a puck that he does without a puck. You can just tell he's like kind of above everyone else with his skill level."

Fun fact: he spent seven years in Germany growing up because his dad was playing and then acting as general manager for a German team. He's fluent in German.

There's no way this is what it seems like. I find this hilarious since Detroit City's motto is nigh literally "fuck you", but if you think about it for a half second it's probably not what it seems like:

Gores' Palace Sports files federal trademark for 'Detroit City Soccer Club'

I am not a lawyer but it beggars belief that DCSC would not be found to violate DCFC's trademarks. Same city, same undertaking, same name save one word that is a synonym. If it means anything—and it probably doesn't—it means Gilbert and Gores are covering their bases in case they buy DCFC. Or they're just trolling the supremely trollable DCFC fanbase.

Meanwhile in Detroit's MLS bid. Dan Gilbert has submitted a final proposal to the city for the fail jail swap. Key bits:

  • Gilbert pledges to build a 520 million dollar jail plus a bunch of other related stuff on East Forest avenue. Cost to the city: 380 million, with Rock responsible for any overruns.
  • There is a competing bid to complete the fail jail for 320 million, with no cost overrun assurances. It also appears to be a more modest project that only completes the jail without the various other stuff.
  • Gilbert makes up the 140 million dollar gap by getting the current fail jail site, where he and Gores want to build a billion-dollar stadium and mixed used blah blah blah.
  • Gilbert also gets "credits" for the savings that the city forecasts as a result of combining all the criminal justice things into one campus.

The jail was suspended after a whopping 91 million dollars of overruns on a project supposed to cost 220 million total. Meanwhile the city has been spending over a million dollars a month to maintain the existing construction site.

This is a very weird stadium deal and that makes it difficult to evaluate whether or not this qualifies as a public subsidy. The 520 million number may be largely fictional, in which case the Rock deal is the city paying 60 million + whatever the land is worth. It may be real, in which case it looks fairly even. The pledge to pay for overruns could be worth nothing, or it could be worth a hundred million dollars. These "credits" are loosely defined but appear to be a way for Rock to get back some of the gap between what the county will pay up front and their projected cost for the complex. They're kind of like property tax reductions cities will offer brownfield developments.

Shifting the downside away from the city is an attractive proposition after the previous debacle. And while stadium economic impact studies are without fail overblown hoo-haw, "jail plus nothing" is worse than "jail plus soccer stadium and condos and whatnot."

If Gilbert and Gores do get the deal done, Detroit will become a highly attractive target for MLS. The ownership group consists of billionaires. The market is large and there are many nearby rivals. Detroit has a lot of immigrants to appeal to and is generally an excellent pro sports town—people still go to Lions games! And one by one other cities are finding it difficult to bring together bids without public support that is not forthcoming. Previous heavy favorites St. Louis and San Diego are all but out of the running after votes failed. Ditto Charlotte and Indianapolis. Remaining realistic locations other than Detroit are Sacramento (the one bid that is shovel ready right now), Phoenix, Tampa, Cincinnati, Nashville, and San Antonio.  Four bids will get approved; all bids other than Sacramento have hurdles to clear.

Etc.: MSU hockey loses Mason "Larry" Appleton to the NHL. He had 31 points in 35 games for a struggling MSU team and qualifies as a big loss indeed, even if no one expects much out of Danton Cole in year one. Or year two. Michigan as autonomous driving hub. Shutdown Fullcast on the Big Ten East. Freeze lawsuits. David DeJulius profiled.

2015 Recruiting: Jon Runyan Jr

2015 Recruiting: Jon Runyan Jr

Submitted by Brian on August 3rd, 2015 at 3:35 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, S Tyree Kinnel, CB Keith Washington, DE Shelton Johnson, DE Reuben Jones, OL Nolan Ulizio, OL Grant Newsome.

Philadelphia, PA – 6'4", 276



Scout 3*, NR overall
#39 OG
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#45 OG, #15 PA
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#96 OT, #21 PA
24/7 3*, NR overall
#162 OT, #35 PA
Other Suitors None
YMRMFSPA Dave Pearson
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Son of—surprise!—Jon Runyan, Sr., Michigan All Big Ten tackle and longtime NFL player.





Don't let the "none" in other suitors put you off too much. When Jon Runyan, Jr., camped at Michigan in 2013, an offer came. Runyan took approximately 1.5 looks at his dad, Jon Runyan, Sr., and committed. Nobody else had an opportunity to take a crack at him.

All OL take a lot of projection; when Michigan took Runyan the squinting at the future was even more strained than usual. Hoke and staff offered a 6'3", 245-pound sophomore based on his camp performance and the guy next to him in the picture above. Runyan didn't go to many camps—I found a mention of him at a local Nike camp and nothing else—and isn't the kind of player to physically wow you, so recruiting sites filed him as a generic three star and mostly forgot about him.

With Runyan mentions over the past few years generally limited to a sentence or two here and there, by far the most useful item we have is a Tim Sullivan visit to one of his games when he was a senior.

The good news is that Runyan made up about half the difference between the sophomore version of himself and a Big Ten offensive lineman, adding 30 pounds. Sullivan also listed Runyan at 6'5", which is just on the edge of "plausible tackle" territory. Sullivan still saw a future interior OL, one that needed to up the HULK SMASH:

In the run game, Runyan was solid at standing up the opposing defensive lineman, but didn't always get quite as much push out of a player headed to Michigan… has developed the physical attributes needed to become a top lineman, but doesn't always know exactly how to use them. …. too willing at times to deliver a blow with his forearm, letting the defender take control of their individual battle, rather than using his hands to move the defender where he wants him to go. … his positioning and angles left him chasing the linebacker, rather than getting between him and the play, walling off and creating a big hole.

That would be the less good news. There's still a lot of projection there.

Judging by the fact it's followed by an "underclassman evaluation," ESPN's undated scouting report does seem to be based on senior film. Here are a few of the bits that don't seem to feature in every middling OL prospect's profile:

needs to add bulk while improving playing strength, pop and explosion when run blocking; his quickness, balance and agility allow him to play on his feet and adjust to tight space movement. …nimble feet and hand quickness are assets; sets quickly showing good flexibility; can bend and slide to the top of the pocket … needs to play stouter vs. the bull rush … athletic guy with a quick first step; can handle quick inside movement, protecting his inside gap; … initial pop and surge must improve;… effective trap blocker.

In that evaluation, Runyan sounds like a center, one that Rich Rodriguez would have enthusiastically recruited.

I'm not sure how much credence to lend scouting reports from 247 and Scout, as they are old. Brian Dohn had an evaluation post from October of 2013 that praised his athleticism and feet but notices that he is not 300 pounds. He's trying his best to project:

knows how to position his body and he does a fantastic job of recognizing whom to block, even if it is on the second level. …has the athleticism to play guard and be effective pulling as a lead blocker … His ability to move his feet and sit back in his base in pass protection is already an asset.

He took in a St. Peter's game last year as well, but was scouting a half dozen guys in that game. The resulting post only briefly touches on Runyan, mentioning that he was "solid, but not overwhelming" and offering a back-handed compliment that echoes what Sullivan said: "when he was able to engage the defensive player, Runyan did a good job of finishing the block."

Clint Brewster had a take based on junior film. His numerical evaluations are Lake Wobegone grades in which everyone's above average—it's a ten point scale and I can't remember ever seeing a 4 or lower—and the big question is right there first:

Size- 5

Frame gets a 7, though, so… yeah. Numbers are tough with recruiting because so many people are waiting to yell at you. More text-type stuff:

Runyan has plus athleticism but it looks as if he is still getting used to his body. … Very good footwork for a young player and always takes the right steps. He’s got a smooth kick back in pass protection and has pretty quick feet. He does great job of staying infront of his man in pass protection. …very smart player with high ceiling and great technique.

There's obviously some disagreement here about just how much of a technician Runyan is at this stage. Brewster's instant eval after his commit called him a "pure technician" who "does everything right with flawless technique," which is completely impossible. That was a discussion of a kid who had just finished his sophomore year of high school.

The more recent reports indicate a coachable kid who is going to need plenty of said coaching and time in the weight room. He has the genes; he's got a path to reasonable size; it is completely understandable that recruiting sites filed him in the vast pile of offensive linemen who have a chance but only a chance.


Etc.: If Runyan doesn't work out—or if, like, anyone doesn't work out, this will be your most longstanding ARRRGH BRADY HOKE issue. Runyan camped next to Chuma Edoga, future top 50 interior line recruit and USC commit, and Edoga was chomping at the bit to commit. But no offer came.

Why Dave Pearson? Pearson overcame some serious size limitations (he entered college 6'3", 240) to be a reliable, heady starting center in the mid-aughts. He was undrafted and had a cup of coffee in the NFL.

Pearson was actually a weakside end to recruiting sites before packing on the necessary weight to be an OL; Runyan has a head start on him in that department since he'll enter at around 275. Still, acquiring the necessary size and strength will be Runyan's biggest challenge.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Peripheral OL prospects don't get a ton of attention and a lot of the scouting here is really old. But they're all in approximate agreement and the things they say make sense.

Variance: High. Is OL. Is sleeper OL.

Ceiling: Moderate. Sounds like he's a better fit for a zone system; under Harbaugh he's probably a center and a center only, and one that gets by instead of being David Molk.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Those genes though.

Projection: Is OL, redshirt. Can compete for the starting C job as early as next year; more realistically that will be someone else's job—probably Patrick Kugler. Runyan's first real crack at time is likely to be as a redshirt junior, when he'll be big and strong enough to play for Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh Signing Day Presser 2/4/15

Jim Harbaugh Signing Day Presser 2/4/15

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on February 4th, 2015 at 7:12 PM



[Note: there were no microphones for media so I can’t get the questions verbatim from my recording. Instead I’ve gone with the gist of the question.]

Opening remarks

“Thank you. Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out today. Exciting day for us as a football program, for the families, and for the youngsters who work so hard to earn a football scholarship and to see that hard work come to fruition today is a very exciting day. We’re very pleased with our class. Very proud, really, and I think everybody that loves Michigan is going to be proud to call these youngsters their own.”


On how difficult it is to come in late in the recruiting process:

“It wasn’t difficult. It was a real joy. It was a real pleasure. Just the things that I learned about some of the players that were already committed under coach Hoke and his regime, and they did a tremendous job.

“You talk about some of those guys- Andrew Paul David. And his confirmation name is John, if you were wondering. Andrew Paul John David. You pretty much got the gospel covered right there. Grew up a Michigan fan. Great love of Michigan.

“Tyree Kinnel, somebody who was handed a Michigan football at birth, was committed here.

“Also, John Runyan Jr. I was told he wore a Michigan onesie when he was a year old.

“People have a love and passion for Michigan football. Grant Perry’s another who recently committed here and signed today. Grew up and Mark’s dad- Mark was a record-setting receiver in the state of Michigan. Over 13 records. But he grew up like me, Grant did. In the shadow of Michigan Stadium, getting autographs from football players and basketball players, dad was a coach. Mark was telling me that he’d bring Grant to practice and as a seven-year-old he always found a way to get a helmet, be running routes, [and] doing amazing things with the football at every practice that he went to. A winner. That’s what I’m really excited about in this class. Those two things; a lot of youngsters that have a real deep desire to be at Michigan and have won, and in Grant’s case he’s won at everything he’s ever done going back to little league baseball, basketball, and football, including three state championships at Brother Rice along with Alex Malzone, who’s also in our class.

“Did I tell you Andrew David was a really good short stop? Heck of a baseball player, too.”

[After THE JUMP: the pickle quote]

Tuesday Recruitin' Steps Out Of A Large Shadow

Tuesday Recruitin' Steps Out Of A Large Shadow

Submitted by Ace on September 9th, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Jon Daniel Runyan

I missed this last week, but it's a must-read; MaxPreps' Joseph Santoliquito wrote an excellent feature on Jon Daniel Runyan (you may know him as Jon Runyan Jr.) becoming his own man on and off the field:

"Playing football is something I liked, but something that I didn't really love until the last few years I'd say," Jon Daniel admitted. "I've had a lot of people tell me that I'm not my father. That's motivated me. I know who I am. Growing up, I did want to play football because my dad played. It's nothing my parents pushed me to do. It's something I wanted to do. I think it's why I put more pressure on myself than my parents do. I want to be the best. The goal one day is to play in the NFL. To do that, my father always tells me, you have to put everything into it."   

Football is not all Jon Daniel plunges added effort into. He maintains a 3.0 GPA at Prep, one of the most academically demanding schools in the Philadelphia area. He's done it through hard work, diligence and with dyslexia, which his father also has. 

In his formative years, Jon Daniel had comprehension challenges; auditory processing challenges. In grade school, teachers wanted to place limits on him, telling the Runyans that Jon Daniel couldn't handle a high academic environment. 

Jon and Loretta ended that. 

You're highly encouraged to read the whole thing.

As for commit updates from last weekend, Brandon Brown has you covered with a free roundup at The Wolverine. Standouts included Alex Malzone, who completed 7/9 passes for 119 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in a blowout win that was called at halftime due to lightning, and Mike Weber, who had a rather efficient 90 yards and a score on just two carries in a comfortable win for Cass Tech.

[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and several top 2016 prospects.]

Thursday Recruitin' Checks The Odometer

Thursday Recruitin' Checks The Odometer

Submitted by Ace on September 4th, 2014 at 2:00 PM

No Bad Plays

malzone-roseboroAs recruits turn their focus to the first couple weeks of their high school season, the recruiting news firehose has slowed to a trickle for the moment. Thankfully, scouting of Michigan prospects is in full swing.

The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with the head coach of one of the conference opponents of Darian Roseboro (right, with Alex Malzone) to get a view of his game from the other sideline ($):

There are a lot of things that Roseboro does well, that's been documented, but sometimes it's difficult for casual followers to find weaknesses. When highlights are viewed they are just that - highlights. Snider insists that a lot of times what you see is what you get with Roseboro.

"I think it's really tough to identify weaknesses with him," Snider admitted. "He's pretty tough to block. I think that as a sophomore he might've taken a play off now and then, but last year he didn't really do that. He was much more aggressive and tough.

Roseboro's highlights are, well, highlights, so if he's bringing that on a snap-to-snap basis, that's great to hear.

Reports continue trickling in from last weekend's games. Josh Newkirk spoke with LB commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. after he recorded 17 tackles, four TFLs, a fumble recovery, and an interception in his team's opener to discuss the improvements in his game this year ($):

At 6-foot-2, 226-pounds, Kirkland says he worked on his strength mostly this off-season and it showed in his game on Saturday.

I feel like my strength could be one of the key assets of my game,” Kirkland said. “Being able to shed blockers. That’s one of the biggest things I needed to conquer. As well as my quickness and my speed. Just not to be blocked by lineman, because some are very athletic. It’s helped me a lot. I have been covering sideline to sideline, and it’s really helped me in coverage as well.”

That extra work certainly appeared to pay off in week one. Kirkland also mentioned that he's struck up a friendship with five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South; both will be on campus for the Penn State game.

[Hit THE JUMP for Where In The World Is Tim Sullivan, the latest on Chris Clark, several 2016 prospect updates, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Hits The Field

Monday Recruitin' Hits The Field

Submitted by Ace on August 25th, 2014 at 2:20 PM

It's Football Season

As we prepare for Michigan's opener, high school football is already underway in several states, which means less recruiting news and more useful scouting information as prospects turn their focus back to the field.

2015 LB commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. earned the top grade of any player Josh Helmholdt saw in two games scouting Indiana prospects, as he turned in a four-TFL performance in his squad's seven-point loss to open the season ($):

Performance: Kirkland got off to a strong start in his 2014 campaign, registering four tackles for loss among his 12 total tackles. The Rivals250 prospect was lined up at middle linebacker, but was making plays sideline-to-sideline. He was at his best, though, when he was playing downhill, filling holes and coming off the edge to make plays in the backfield. Kirkland overran a few plays in the flats, but also made several impressive open field tackles on running backs trying to get the edge and made it difficult for Avon's offense to scheme around him.

Grade: A-

Scout's Brian Dohn caught 2015 OL commit Jon Runyan Jr. and his St. Joseph's Prep squad scrimmage against Philadelphia Imhotep ($):

Jon Runyan, OL, 6-4, 291
Skinny: Runyan, who is committed to Michigan, plays left tackle and was markedly bigger. He put on 20-plus and now has the strength needed to be dominant this season. He fired off the ball and did a nice job of getting his hands onto the defensive lineman, but he wasn’t as active as he was when in the midst of the grind of the season. He was [solid], but not overwhelming. When he was able to engage the defensive player, Runyan did a good job of finishing the block. 

At 6'4", 291, Runyan very much has the look of a future guard.

[After THE JUMP: Michigan's strong presence on the Freep's top 25 list of in-state players, updates on several 2016 prospects, and more.]

BBQ At The Big House Visitor List

BBQ At The Big House Visitor List

Submitted by Brandon Brown on July 12th, 2014 at 10:54 PM

The annual recruiting extravaganza known as the BBQ at The Big House is just a couple of weeks away on July 27th and already the list of visitors is quite star-studded. A blend of committed and uncommitted prospects from multiple classes will be in attendance for what has proved to be a huge recruiting tool in past classes. Below is who I’ve been able to contact in order to start putting together a list of who will be in attendance and who won’t be. Of course there are many prospects that are still unsure, they are listed as well.


Will Attend

CB Marcus Lewis
CB Mook Reynolds
CB Garrett Taylor
DE Kengera Daniel
K Andrew David
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Joshua McMillon
QB Alex Malzone
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
S Tyree Kinnel
TE Chris Clark
WR Grant Perry

May Attend

CB Iman Marshall
DE Darian Roseboro
LB Tyriq Thompson
OL Jon Runyan Jr.
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
WR Brian Cole

Won’t Attend

LB Asmar Bilal
OL Grant Newsome
OL Patrick Allen
OL Connor Williams
RB Alec Murphy
S Kahlil Haughton
WR Lawrence Cager


Will Attend

CB Lavert Hill
QB Messiah deWeaver
RB Elijah Holyfield
TE Luke Farrell
TE Naseir Upshur
WR Austin Mack

May Attend

LB Daelin Hayes
OL Ben Bredeson
OL Erik Swenson

Won’t Attend

CB Levonta Taylor
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Michal Menet
RB Kentrail Moran
RB Kareem Walker
TE Jake Hausmann
WR Binjimen Victor

A visitor list for an event like this is always subject to change and I know there are several others who belong in one of the categories that I just haven’t heard back from yet.  Unfortunately for the readers I am embarking on my honeymoon tomorrow so I won’t be adding or subtracting to or from this list for at least a week.

2015 Recruiting Picture

2015 Recruiting Picture

Submitted by Brandon Brown on July 10th, 2014 at 11:52 AM


JJ Rice vs CC FB
Malzone. [photo: MI Prep Zone]


Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Alex Malzone – Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice)  
Moving Forward: The Wolverines are all set at quarterback for the 2015 cycle.

Running Back

Total Needs: 1-2
Commits: 0
Top Candidates: Damien Harris – Berea  (KY) Madison Southern, Mike Weber – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Honorable Mentions: Jacques Patrick – Orlando (FL) Timber Creek, Johnny Frasier – Princeton (NC) Princeton

Moving Forward: With the transfer addition of Ty Isaac the Wolverines will probably be satisfied with just one running back commitment in the class. If both Damien Harris and Mike Weber decide they’d like to be Wolverines, I’m sure the coaches would find a way to let it happen. That being said, neither of them are sure things and Michigan could end up landing neither.  It appears that Weber has now become the top target while Harris may be leaning toward the Buckeyes. Either way, both have said that they will be in attendance for the BBQ at The Big House on July 27 which will be another huge recruiting event.  Jacques Patrick and Johnny Frasier remain longshots at this point, but both are still being recruited by the staff.

Wide Receiver

Total Needs: 1-2
Commits: 0
Top Candidates: Brian Cole – Saginaw (MI) Heritage
Honorable Mentions: George Campbell – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake, Auden Tate – Tampa (FL) Wharton

Moving Forward: This position group worries me more than any other on the board. The staff has offered 11 wide receiver prospects. Four of them are committed elsewhere and outside of Brian Cole, the rest don’t seem to be very likely options. Cole is probably going to be an in-state battle between the Wolverines and Spartans and the upcoming season of each school could prove huge in his recruitment. George Campbell was once a Michigan commit but that seems like ancient history at this point. He’s likely to remain somewhere in Florida. Fellow Florida-native Auden Tate holds Michigan in high regard, but pulling skill players out of Florida has always been a tough task. I haven’t had direct communication with Tate so gauging his interest level is difficult. If Tate visits for the BBQ that will be an obvious move in the right direction.

Clark: Committed to Power Words.


Tight End

Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Chris Clark – Avon (CT) Avon Old Farms)
Top Candidates: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Honorable Mentions: N/A

Moving Forward: The Wolverines could very well be done at the tight end position. Chris Clark was a somewhat unexpected pleasant surprise, at least timing-wise, and with him in the fold landing another tight end isn’t a must. Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is a legacy offer and told me that he was definitely offered by Michigan as a tight end. That being said, he’s a pretty solid defensive end as well so if he decides he’d like to follow his dad’s footsteps to Ann Arbor, the coaches could give him a look on defense if they felt they were set at tight end. If Wheatley Jr. decides to commit elsewhere, it’s likely that the Wolverines won’t look at another tight end.

Offensive Line

Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Jon Runyan Jr. – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s, Grant Newsome – Trenton (NJ) The Lawrenceville School)
Top Candidates: Patrick Allen – Reistertown (MD) Franklin
Honorable Mentions: Drew Richmond – Memphis (TN) Memphis University School, Connor Williams – Coppell (TX) Coppell

Moving Forward: Solid recent recruiting classes have allowed the staff to build some much needed depth on the offensive line. The coaches have been able to secure verbal commitments from two offensive linemen in the 2015 class already and would take one more if he’s a big-time talent. The staff is currently content with Jon Runyan Jr. and Grant Newsome as the lone linemen commitments. Patrick Allen has a top four in order of Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia, and Michigan. I doubt Michigan can pass the other three, but by default he’s probably the most likely to become part of this class right now. Drew Richmond is one of the most coveted linemen in the country who has mentioned he’d like to see Michigan for himself, but with no plans to do so as of right now, he’s probably a pipe dream. Connor Williams compares to Richmond in terms of his Michigan interest and is also a longshot at best for the Wolverines.

Defensive Tackle

Total Needs: 0
Commits: 0

Moving Forward: Michigan does not appear to be taking a defensive tackle in this recruiting cycle. Solid recent recruiting at the position and a limited number of available scholarships in 2015 have allowed for this position to be a non-priority this time around. They’ve offered five prospects but two of them have committed elsewhere and the other three aren’t going to drop for the maize and blue.

Defensive End

Total Needs: 2
Commits: 0
Top Candidates: Keisean Lucier-South – Orange (CA) Lutheran-Orange County, Darian Roseboro – Linconlton (NC) Lincolnton
Honorable Mentions: Kengera Daniel – Raleigh (NC) Millbrook, Jalen Bates –Kaplan (LA) Kaplan

Moving Forward: This position group has two of the more probable future Wolverines in it with Darian Roseboro and Keisean Lucier-South. Roseboro plans to attend the BBQ at the end of July and  Lucier-South already has an official visit planned for the Penn State game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Roseboro pulled the trigger while at the BBQ. Lucier-South has tentative plans to commit on National Signing Day, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the environment during his official visit to Ann Arbor was enough to get him to commit. Kengera Daniel and Jalen Bates both also like Michigan quite a bit but are both a little lower down the board compared to Roseboro and Lucier-South.


Total Needs: 2
Commits: 1 (Darrin Kirkland Jr. – Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central)
Top Candidates: Asmar Bilal – Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis, Tyriq Thompson – Detroit (MI) Detroit Martin Luther King, Joshua McMillon – Memphis (TN) Whitehaven
Honorable Mentions: Osa Masina – Salt Lake City (UT) Brighton

Moving Forward: Linebacker is quickly becoming Michigan’s deepest positional group on defense and the 2015 class could continue to build upon that. Darrin Kirkland Jr. is already in the fold and the staff continues to recruit several prospects who are very high on Michigan. Tyriq Thompson is the son of former Wolverine, Clarence Thompson, so he seems to be a very real possibility. Asmar Bilal is believed to be favoring Notre Dame but Michigan is right there for his services. Perhaps the biggest surprise among this group is Tennessee native Joshua McMillon. At nearly 250 lbs. he is massive for a high school linebacker but he has the athleticism to handle it. Our own Ace recently predicted that McMillon will commit to Michigan on 247’s Crystal Ball, citing Sam Webb’s recent optimism regarding McMillon’s comments about the Wolverines. Plucking McMillon from SEC country with a slew of SEC offers would be a big time get for the Michigan coaching staff. At one point Michigan seemed to be in pretty good shape with Osa Masina but recent developments indicate he might be staying closer to home.

Lewis is loosely tied to Florida at them moment. [247]


Defensive Back

Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Tyree Kinnel – Dayton (OH) Wayne, Garrett Taylor – Richmond (VA) St. Christopher’s School)
Top Candidates: Mook Reynolds – Greensboro (NC) Northern Guilford, Marcus Lewis – Washington (DC) Gonzaga
Honorable Mentions: Iman Marshall – Long Beach (CA) Long Beach Poly, John Reid – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s

Moving Forward: With two very solid commitments already in the fold in the secondary, Michigan can afford to be picky with any additional targets. All four of the potential future members of the class are highly coveted and two of them are actually committed elsewhere right now. Mook Reynolds is currently committed to Virginia Tech but will check out Michigan for the BBQ, while Marcus Lewis is currently considered a Gator. Lewis also plans to check out Michigan in the near future, possibly for the BBQ as well. There isn’t a lot of news out there on John Reid and I haven’t had much contact with him but he’s still on the radar and Garrett Taylor told me that he’s been recruiting him. Iman Marshall’s father told me that they are quite interested in Michigan and hope to check out Ann Arbor if it can be worked out. He’s another highly touted prospect from California that seems to be genuinely interested in Michigan, but probably won’t leave the west coast.

Special Teams

Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Andrew David – Massillon (OH) Washington)

Moving Forward: Michigan identified the need for a kicker, offered Andrew David, and he committed. There isn’t a need for any other special teamers in the 2015 cycle.

I’m going to predict that the 2015 class will be right around 16 members when it’s all said and done. As of right now there are only 4 remaining scholarships available but with inevitable attrition that number should go up to around 8 or so bringing the total to 16 for the class.