Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense

Recruits In Retrospect: 2008 Offense

Submitted by Ace on May 31st, 2012 at 9:18 AM


David Guralnick/The Detroit News

Continuing my theme of getting super-meta this offseason, I decided to take a look back at the MGoBlog recruiting recaps from the class of 2008—hello, blogspot!—and see how they stand up now that those players have either moved on from the program or are fifth-year seniors. 2008, of course, was the franken-class of Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez recruits, a bizarre blend of pro-style plodders and size-challenged spread speedsters. While it boasted 17 four-stars among 24 commits, finishing a very respectable tenth in the Rivals team rankings, the class would prove to be an unmitigated disaster, ravaged by attrition and marked with disappointment.

So, let's go back to a time when Michigan fans still held out hope for landing Terrelle Pryor—when these were written, still holding out for a better contract mulling his decision a month after signing day—to spearhead this newfangled spread offense. Today, I'll take a look at Brian's offensive evaluations, and the defense will be covered next week. For reference, links to the original posts: Quarterback and Running Back, Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line. If you're anything like me, perusing those is a remarkably fun way to waste time.

Easy Joke Is Easy

With a major change in offensive scheme, Michigan was in desperate need of a dual-threat quarterback. Pryor was the ultimate prize, and Rodriguez was forced to hedge his bets with Justin Feagin, an under-the-radar athlete from Florida whose best offers were to play wide receiver at LSU or defensive back at Miami (YTM).

Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.

Namely, the inside of a courtroom. ZING! (Really, when it comes to the 2008 quarterback situation, dark humor is the only option lest you want to break down in tears.)

Ironically, it was his off-field actions that made Feagin one of the recruits Brian was "baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason," due to late-night workouts and multiple quotes expressing no concern about potentially having to compete with Pryor for the starting job. It was noted that Feagin required "a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback," which was readily apparent during his brief appearances as a freshman. Then came the cocaine stuff and subsequent boot, so we'll never know whether Feagin could've turned into a passable receiver.

NEVER FORGET

I started following recruiting seriously when a friend showed me Noel Devine's highlight tape during my senior year of high school. Since I had little understanding at the time about how recruiting actually worked, I was bitterly disappointed when Devine seemingly had zero interest in Michigan (and vice versa), eventually ending up at West Virginia. I swore never to get my hopes up about highlight tape heroes again.

So the next year, when another atom-sized running back took the YouTubes by storm, I had little hope that this Texan doing heel-clicks on the backs of linebackers would even consider donning the Maize and Blue. Even so, I'd watch his tape on repeat, sharing it with friends whenever the opportunity arose; seeing their eyes bug while asking what in the hell they just watched never got old. This is what they saw [NSFW audio warning]:

Then, of course, the impossible occurred: Sam McGuffie signed with Michigan, though not before nearly shattering our dreams during a signing day flirtation with Cal. Brian, however, was nonplussed, proferring this muted reaction to McGuffie's inclusion in the class:

General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.

Oh. Unfortunately, you all know how this one went. McGuffie showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman in 2008, but also the durability of a paper bag. After finishing the season as the team's second-leading rusher, he decided to transfer closer to home, ending up at Rice, where he'll be a redshirt senior in 2012. Not exactly what we'd all envisioned when the guy who frontflipped over J.B. Shugarts at the Army Game hit campus.

McGuffie wasn't the only back in the class, however, as he was joined by two other intriguing prospects. Rich Rodriguez earned the "snake-oil salesman" moniker for snatching Roy Roundtree from Purdue (more on him later), but his other signing day surprise was pulling Trotwood-Madison RB Michael Shaw away from Penn State. You'll never guess what Brian noticed on his film [emphasis mine]:

I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity.

And thus we find the origins of bouncebouncebouncebounce.

The final back in the class was a relative unknown from the football hotbed of Avon, Connecticut. Mike Cox's name required a disclaimer in the notes section of his profile—"Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)"—while his school's sporting pedigree invited a healthy dose of skepticism:

There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football.

Until reading the profile, I had completely forgotten that Michigan took Cox over four-star Detroit Country Day product and eventual Notre Dame commit Jonas Gray. In retrospect, I think it's safe to say that was a mistake, even though Gray wasn't a major contributor until his senior season. At least we got four years of stale dick jokes, though.

NEVER FORGET, Part Deux

Rodriguez's hire brought to Michigan the era of the waterbug slot guy, which promised to be great fun for a fanbase used to watching tiny track-star guys tear it up only for opponents. The recruit expected to come in and make a big splash early was four-star Terrence Robinson out of Klein, Texas, and all it took was one physics-defying play to see why:

Commits pulling Hakeem Olajuwon post moves at warp speed during a football game understandably cause a fair amount of excitement. Brian busted out the obligatory Breaston comparison and projected him to be in the mix at both returner and slot receiver. Robinson finished his Michigan career with one catch, two kickoff returns, and one punt return for a grand total of 94 all-purpose yards.

Michigan's other slot ninja was Pahokee's Martavious Odoms, whose profile contains endless testimonials about his rabbit-chasing speed. Brian's comparison is Devin Hester and also a version of Steve Breaston that actually catches the bombs:

General Excitement Level: Moderate++. He's never going to be Braylon Edwards but if he's as fast as his reputation he could be a dynamite returner and even a deep threat: remember Steve Breaston's ill-fated career as the target of bombs? Well, he was open by yards time and again because opposing players got smoked by his moves and always dropped the ball. Odoms looks like he's pretty good at hauling in deep balls.
Projection: Will press for time as a returner immediately and is 50-50 to be the designated bubble screen guy, with Terrance Robinson the other option. Starts off with an advantage on Robinson because he's spent the last four years as a receiver.

Evaluation severely lacking in mountain goat blocking praise.

Despite the excitement over the tiny slot guys, the biggest expectations were reserved for consensus top-100 receiver Darryl Stonum, who chose Michigan over Florida, Alabama, USC, and Florida State. Breathless hype part one:

Natural change of direction? Fluid hips? Comes down with jump balls? A mix of Braylon Edwards and Mario Manningham... which, like, dude.

And part two:

General Excitement Level: Maximal. The second most likely kid in the class to have a long, productive career at Michigan, IMO, behind Dann O'Neill.

Stonum's production disappointed, even after it was discovered that he'd been playing half-blind and needed contacts, and his career came to an untimely end after a string of alcohol- and driving-related arrests.

The last of the four receiver recruits was Roy Roundtree, another Trotwood-Madison star whose projection was the closest to the eventual reality:

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Never going to be a gamebreaker, but a likely contributor. Has to add a lot of weight to be an effective player.
Projection: Redshirts, plays sparingly his second year, and is 50-50 to emerge into Michigan's #2 WR.

Roundtree redshirted, then led the team in catches in each of the next two seasons, though this was more the product of the offense—Roundtree was the main beneficiary of QB Oh Noes—than him being a true #1 receiver, though he may be forced into that role this season.

Caveats Apply

The 2008 class also featured two four-star tight end recruits, though both came with significant question marks. For Brandon Moore, the third of the Trotwood trio, the question was whether he was the future star who earned top-100 rankings and big-time offers after a standout junior season or the potential bust whose stock slipped significantly during a disappointing senior year. Scout actually started out with Moore as their #98 overall prospect before dropping him all the way to three stars and the #43(!) tight end. The verdict:

General Excitement Level: High, with caveats. Moore is a boom-or-bust guy with much potential but a long way to go.
Projection: Great success, great failure, or somewhere in between. Specific cat is specific.

Barring an out-of-nowhere breakout season in 2012, bust it is.

Meanwhile, Michigan took a head-to-head battle with Ohio State for Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, but it was unclear whether he'd stick at tight end or eventually make a move to defensive end:

It must be said: Koger is widely regarded a prospect of equal or greater merit at defensive end, and with Nick Perry's escape to Southern Cal Michigan finds themselves with one defensive end recruit across two classes. Though it's possible one of the linebackers -- most likely Marcus Witherspoon -- could end up with his hand down, Michigan is critically short there.

A down-the-line move was projected, but that was largely based on the assumption that Moore would pan out. Instead, it was Koger who'd get the lion's share of the snaps at tight end for the next four years.

Brian's O-line Knowledge Has Come A Long Way

One of the staples of the recruiting recaps is the "YMRMFSPA" section, in which Brian compares the recruit's style of play to a notable former player (usually a Wolverine, but not always, as evidenced by the Hester comparison for Odoms). With Michigan pulling in six offensive linemen in 2008, coming up with the proper approximation got a little difficult:

Dann O'Neill: YMRMFSPA Jake Long. No pressure.
Kurt Wermers: YMRMFSPA Matt Lentz?
Elliott Mealer: YMRMFSPA Matt Stenavich(?)
Rocko Khoury: YMRMFSPA Uh, that other un-touted guard person.
Ricky Barnum: YMRMFSPA Rod Payne?
Patrick Omameh: YMRMFSPA ????

Dave Petruziello and Leo Henige feel very neglected, man.

As you can see above, before Taylor Lewan was the Next Jake Long, that distinction went to Dann O'Neill, a top 100 recruit from Grand Haven. Not only was O'Neill quite a talent, his services were desperately needed along a thin offensive line:

Dann O'Neill might be Michigan's most critical recruit. The only tackles in the last two recruiting classes are incumbent RT Steve Schilling, three-star Perry Dorrestein, and two-star sleeper (as in "only had offers from MAC schools" sleeper) Mark Huyge. Finding two starting tackles from that group once the Zirbel-Ortmann class graduates in two years was looking very risky.

Brian projected O'Neill to start "at some point, hopefully later (say, as a redshirt sophomore) rather than sooner (say, this fall)." Instead, he never played a down as a Wolverine, transferring to Western Michigan after his freshman year. He would eventually earn a start at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but as a member of the Broncos.

The other future washout on the line was Indiana guard Kurt Wermers, whose off-field hobbies were not exactly typical of a football player [emphasis Brian's]:

Wermers was also named to the stupidly named "Offense-Defense Bowl" in Miami. The OD bowl appears to be a sort of second-tier all star game. Big whoop, except for the press release announcing the selection:

"Wermers, a veritable renaissance man whose hobbies include weightlifting, playing guitar, singing, and reading, also enjoys spending time on the virtual field of battle in the wildly popular massively multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft when not battling in the trenches on the football field."

This dovetails with information from May about Wermer's participation in... an a capella group:

"I love it," Wermers said of singing. "It gives me a chance to get away from big jocky athletic guys and hang out with a different group of people."

I don't think we'll be having any discipline issues with young Mr. Wermers. It's just a feeling.

Wermers left the team before the 2009 season, saying he decided to transfer because Rodriguez was "bringing in a lot of different kids that were not my kind of crowd," and running the team like a business (Wermers signed when Carr was the coach, but obviously never played under him). It was later revealed that Wermers was academically ineligible when he announced his transfer, probably because he was playing WoW instead of going to class. Discipline issues: check.

The player who's actually panned out was the lowest-ranked among the six, Patrick Omameh, a two-star DE to Rivals and the #87 OT to Scout. There wasn't much comment on Omameh beyond addressing his sleeper status; speculation about his future position turned out to go 0-for-2:

There are conflicting reports as to whether Omameh was recruited as a center (where his intelligence would help with the line calls) or tackle; that will get sorted out somewhere down the line.

As you know, Omameh is entering his third year as the full-time starter at... right guard.

Finally, Ricky Barnum peered into the future and got a serious head start on his future team's biggest rivalry:

Various people are probably irritated with Ricky Barnum: Urban Meyer, for one. Also OH OL Zebrie Sanders, who tried to commit to Florida but was told to talk to the hand because Barnum and another player had filled Florida's OL quotient for the year. Sanders, also rejected by Georgia for the same reason, ended up at Florida State and Urban ended up short one highly recruited interior lineman. Not that anyone will ever shed a tear for Urban Meyer.

Well done, Ricky.

"What Happened Was A Violent Crime"

"What Happened Was A Violent Crime"

Submitted by Brian on August 14th, 2009 at 11:18 AM

I was content to drop the whole Feagin thing after that post Wednesday but two developments demand to be relayed.

What Rodriguez didn't know. Maize 'n' Brew has their own excellent take on the whole Feagin thing that's worth reading in its entirety, but its most useful bit comes when it digs up the Palm Beach Post's expose on Feagin's dastardly past:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records showed that Feagin has received two traffic tickets in Broward County, one in Palm Beach County and was charged with a misdemeanor in Palm Beach that was later dropped. Details regarding the misdemeanor charge are unclear.

That's the extent of the public records on Feagin's malfeasance. In that article, Heritage head coach Willie Bueno reiterated his ignorance about Feagin's shady past: "I certainly wasn't aware of any arrests while he was at American Heritage."

Feagin's record consists of a dropped misdemeanor and his head coach continues to assert he knew nothing wrong; the Palm Beach Post itself thought Feagin was enough of a stand-up guy to name him their small-schools player of the year when he was a senior. What, exactly, was Rodriguez supposed to do?

Meanwhile in the land of milk and honey. AJ Sturges, the hockey player on the wrong end of some portion of Glen Winston's anatomy, has released a statement. He's not pleased with the current state of things:

Last October, I was assaulted by Glenn Winston. This was not a fight, or a disagreement. I was in bed in my room and came downstairs after hearing the commotion caused by three cars pulling up filled with screaming and violent people. I was standing in my front yard trying to figure out what was going on when Glenn Winston punched me in the head from the side. I never saw him. I did not have any chance to protect myself at all. Neither did his other victims.

That night, I received a fractured skull, five stitches inside my mouth, and a subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain. I was not involved in a college fight, as this story is perceived. After having nothing to do with any events that occurred earlier that night, I was attacked in my own house.

As a hockey player, I know what a fight is. What happened that night was not a fight. What happened was a violent crime. Pure and simple.

This is not a fanciful account. Sturges' story is corroborated by multiple witnesses in the police report on the matter.

Which police report, by the way, is absolutely amazing. Remember our good and great friend Andrew Conboy? Conboy, of course, was a Michigan State hockey player until he and Corey Tropp—also reinstated, by the way, what standards this university-type substance maintains—brutally assaulted Steve Kampfer late in a far gone game at Yost.

It won't surprise anyone that he was involved:

A hockey player and one of White's friends began fighting over a woman, and White got involved in the skirmish. Hockey player Andrew Conboy intervened and he and White fought in the street outside the house. Conboy "won the fight," according to witnesses, and White left the scene.

Several minutes later, three cars arrived at the party, filled with mostly football players. Witnesses told police the men were looking for Conboy but began "beating up everybody they could."

Three cars of football players randomly assault a house full of people, all of whom not named Andrew Conboy and one other anonymous hockey player did nothing. AJ Sturges ends up in the hospital with a brain injury for trying to calm things down. Winston lied to the police about his involvement and still hasn't offered even a meaningless apology. And exactly one player, a walk-on, leaves the team.

The Free Press' reaction to all this is to have Drew Sharp write a column about Detroit Lions preseason games two days after he came up with this beauty*:

There's more drama down the road at the other school, but Michigan State doesn't mind the boredom.

Rich Rodriguez dismisses a wannabe drug dealer from Michigan and immediately there are suspicions regarding the tautness of his program -- procedural questions that were once mostly asked of Michigan State head coaches.

Yet on the same day, Mark Dantonio welcomed back a running back freshly released from a four-month jail term for hospitalizing a hockey player during a campus fight last fall. Dantonio placed unspecified restrictions on the player's return, reminiscent of Lloyd Carr's private penal policy at Michigan, and the actions barely raised a public ripple.

Roles are reversing. Perceptions are changing.

I'm not even mad. I'm impressed. Here Sharp acknowledges the double standard—at his own newspaper, in his own column—and uses it to criticize Rodriguez and praise Dantonio. He sits at A, takes a good hard look at B, and then leaps to Q. I hope he donates his brain to science. Meanwhile, Rosenberg is silent. He's written five of the last six Fridays.

ghost

ooooooo. Rosenberg, this is the ghost of credibility past: if you don't take the opportunity to abashedly retract your previous column and correct the matter, I die after a long illness. ooooooooo.

And so. I don't want the argument here to be chucking stones at glass shanties. This isn't really about Michigan State. It's about an incredible double standard offered up by the Free Press. The situations here:

  1. Player deals weed and attempts to broker cocaine deal or scams someone out of 600 dollars. He is immediately dismissed. He had traffic tickets and one dropped misdemeanor in high school.
  2. Three carloads of mostly football players drop in on a house party, wreaking havoc and hospitalizing someone with brain trauma. One walk-on is booted from the team and the guy who put someone in the hospital gets out of jail early to rejoin practice.

One of these qualifies as "boredom": the chaotic melee involving a dozen or more football players. One of these is evidence that the head coach is a nefarious win-at-all-costs villain, but it's not the unprecedented lenience shown to the perpetrator of a scary, violent crime.

If a hockey player falls at a party and the other program in town is run by a West Virginian, does it make a sound?

*(Right, right, the "it just gets them hits and ad views" argument: that link goes to the "print this article" page, which has no ads, and is nofollowed to prevent the googles from caring about it.)

Feagin Dénouement

Feagin Dénouement

Submitted by Brian on August 11th, 2009 at 1:44 PM

feagin-signing

You know, I liked Justin Feagin. As a guy thousands of miles away from the man in question and limited to assembling things other people wrote about him, I had just more than zero to go on, but I liked him anyway. He played both ways at a tiny school and smiled big and innocent on signing day and said things that seemed different and bouncier than your average bouncy, meaningless quote from a guy on or around the greatest day of his life.

He said this about Terrelle Pryor's potential addition:

"What if he does go to Michigan? Shame on me if I sit back and think he's better than me. If he wants to play quarterback, we'll have to fight each other for the job. If I win the job, then I'll know I beat out the No. 1 quarterback in the nation."

And I wrote this:

this is one of the recruits in this class I'm baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason. If you're so inclined you can see Feagin doing squats until two in the morning in his quotes. … Feagin sounds like the kind of guy who will thrive under the pressure of the Rodriguez regime and is clearly a high caliber athlete.

And this:

This is going to be a pretty stupid statement, but I like the kid's quotes a lot.

Apparently, the ability to give a good quote to a local preps reporter is not highly correlated with success on the field or off. Not giving a good quote to the police when you don't have to might be more valuable. This is noted for the future.

And so we re-evaluate after Feagin's sadly comical drug deal that wasn't and dismissal. User Big Boutros chips in an excellent diary that touches on the immediate "uh-oh" everyone felt:

I know what some of you are thinking. I thought it, too, albeit briefly, when the news first broke: An event like this would have never happened under Lloyd Carr's watch. And that's almost certainly true. Lloyd Carr was and is a uniquely gifted and genuine man whose priority has always been the peak mental and emotional acuity of the players under his watch, and I know I am not alone in expressing my gratitude for his immaculate representation of a university that likes to think of itself as superior to all others.

But this is not reality. An enraged Chitownblue, prompted by the idiotic diary that inaugurated the 200-words-or-more era, rounded up a dossier of 29 Michigan arrests of various sorts under Lloyd Carr. Lloyd recruited Kelly Baraka and Eugene Germany and Carson Butler and Chris Richards and Johnny Sears and Will Peterson and another, more internet famous felon chased from the team:

Even Lloyd, whom we would like to believe incapable of such an oversight, could only sit with folded hands as opposing fanbases across the country laughed at the dismissal of defensive tackle Larry Harrison, who was charged with four counts of sexual delinquency and suspected in 16 more. Harrison endangered fewer people than Feagin, certainly, but the fact remains that Rich Rodriguez does not stand alone among Michigan coaches who have seen a felonious embarrassment take place on his watch.

I'm not even sure Feagin endangered anyone. He admitted to getting into some trouble in high school, but the crime here—if he actually gets charged with one—is taking $600 from some burnout and promising to get him cocaine, then not getting him cocaine. The endangerment came when the burnout had his great arson idea. The offense clearly warrants dismissal, but as far as disgraceful acts committed by Michigan football players go it's somewhere between Germany running from the cops (and getting caught!) and Carson Butler's St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre*.

Meanwhile at Michigan State, a guy who put a Spartan hockey player in the hospital and was sentenced to six months in jail got an early release so he could make Michigan State's first practice. This is the way a sane person, in this case AnnArbor.com's Dave Birkett, reacts to the juxtaposition of these events:

…one coach took the proper actions with his troubled player and one coach took an unnecessary gamble for reasons I can’t explain. Sure, everyone deserves a second chance, but that second chance doesn’t have to be at the same school where you committed such a major offense.

So of course Michael Rosenberg's latest article is headlined "Win at all costs a poor formula for Rodriguez." This is because Rosenberg has completely lost his shit about Rodriguez, as detailed in this space before. Last summer Rosenberg threw together a pastiche of assumptions, omissions, and flatly incorrect statements and titled it "Embarrassing ordeal reveals ugly truths about U-M coach Rich Rodriguez"—the ordeal in this case being the lawsuit over Rodriguez's buyout—that permanently submarined his credibility about Rodriguez.

This one is no better. He cites Rodriguez's recruitment of Pat Lazear at West Virginia, who got ten days in jail and a suspended sentence for his role (driving) in an armed robbery (FWIW, the weapon was a BB gun), as evidence Rodriguez will take anyone not wearing an orange jumpsuit. He does not mention the Winston thing which hey pick out which quote here is about Lazear and which is about Winston…

Door #1:

"[Assistant Coach] and I have researched [Player's] entire situation over several months," [coach] said in a statement released by the school's athletic department. "We have talked to a number of people, and after a thorough review, I am reassured that [player] will be a successful student-athlete and a positive member of our university community. We are eager for him to join the [Mascot] family."

Door #2:

"[Player] has done everything that he's been asked to do from a judicial and a team standpoint. He has paid the penalty for his actions -- publicly, legally and athletically -- and he worked hard to maintain his academic eligibility while doing so. We regret the entire incident, however at this time it is important that we support [Player] socially, academically and athletically. He still has a lot of work to do."

…functionally identical except in Michael Rosenberg's eyes. Lazear, by the way, is entering his third year at West Virginia on the Academic Honor Roll. He has not been in further trouble.

And then there's this on Willie Bueno's statement that he didn't know of any trouble with Feagin:

Should Rodriguez have known about Feagin's transgressions? Well, Bueno said Monday that he didn't know. But frankly that raises questions about Bueno, and it shows the importance of relationships for college coaches. They have to really know the communities where they recruit, and they must be sure that coaches and administrators are informed and honest with them.

Christ. Rodriguez talks with Willie Bueno, who says Feagin is a good kid without issues because he apparently believes it, and it's up to Rodriguez to "be sure" that this guy isn't lying to his face. Feagin mentioned a couple of issues in high school that "nothing came of"; as a juvenile he wouldn't have a record unless something extremely serious went down. Nothing did, so even if Rodriguez checked up on that supposed record it would come up clean. Rosenberg suggests that Rodriguez should assume every coach is a liar and undertake investigations of everyone so that a bad apple doesn't arrive. This is obviously infeasible. Hell, Lloyd Carr made that mistake at least 29 times in his career.

To date Rodriguez has dealt with two DUIs (Grady and Stonum) and one coke-deal-that-wasn't in a year and a half. [UPDATE: There was also the Cissoko-yells-at-cop incident, a disorderly conduct.] Michigan doesn't even register on the Fulmer Cup scoreboard (2008, 2009—if Feagin gets charged with something Michigan will get points above their current one), and Rodriguez racked up fewer points in his last two years at WVU than Carr did over the same timespan at Michigan. The numbers say Rodriguez's recent behavior record is better than Lloyd freakin' Carr's, and the guy who just got out of jail and walked on to a Michigan State practice field say that there's one strict program in-state but it's not run by the guy who's an Upstanding Football Coach. But because Rodriguez doesn't stare at you really hard and talk the right way, he's running a renegade program. Right. Rosenberg's just another Drew Sharp now.

Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's transferring somewhere where he'll give a good quote and smile and maybe this time he'll come through on those. But probably not. It's tough to defy your surroundings.

*(The listed in approximate order: Baraka (weed), Sears (weed + performance in The Horror), Germany (possibly joking cell phone theft coupled from dumb running from police), Butler(assault), Chris Richards (assault, B&Eing his own dorm room), Peterson(assault + theft), Harrison.)

Unverified Voracity Doesn't Talk Much

Unverified Voracity Doesn't Talk Much

Submitted by Brian on August 10th, 2009 at 11:49 AM

Hopefully more zany Michigan-related stories come up. LSUFreek on the Armanti Edwards lawnmower incident:

Lawnmower_Man_Caught

It's the kittens that make it.

Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's planned transfer to Appalachian State is off. App St cites "academic concerns" and, you know, an attempted cocaine deal as reasons. Hopefully the academic concerns are just "you blew a scholarship because tried to broker a cocaine deal for a few hundred bucks and therefore can't be the sharpest tool in the shed" instead of an 0-for-2 APR departure.

UFER. It's less than a month before the season and I haven't heard a grown man lose his mind yet. Lame. Also fixed:

That comes complete with a frighteningly accurate reproduction of the play in NCAA that I thought would be lame going in but turned out to be dorkily impressive. Let's reproduce the :01 Manningham touchdown next.

Somewhere, Lloyd cackles over a snifter of brandy. Braylon Edwards has imbibed some terminology:

"The Browns and I are on the same page, and my team is on the same page," Edwards said. "I've never made any contract [demands], so I don't know where that would come from. That's just more rumors and hearsay to spark up more controversy."

It is very important to be on the same page, which Braylon Edwards is. Also he had one of the worst "catch percentages" in the league last year, which will surprise no one who watched Braylon on a regular basis but also includes passes to Tacopants and given the Browns' QB situation might not be his fault after all.

Aerials. Basketball? Why not?

bbscatter

That is a scatter plot comparing minutes returning to last year's Pomeroy ranking and is used as a rough estimate via which to predict the Big Ten by The Only Colors.  Limitations are acknowledged. For one: the chart doesn't take the fact that the vast majority of Michigan's lost minutes are two walk-ons and one guy buried on the bench when the season ended, or that OSU's recruiting class this year does not exist.

A couple of takeaways despite that: holy god Iowa is going to be bad, and if Robbie Hummel's back cooperates Purdue is your tentative conference favorite.

Back from the old testament. When Carcajous Attack(!) channels the departed spirit of Autumn Thunder with some charmingly horrible photoshop:

Laws of Mozes

That's Dan Mozes, four-year WVU starter, Rimington award winner, and newest Barwis acolyte, as Moses, prophet of the Israelites. Mozes on Barwis:

"Mike gave me the fundamentals to get bigger and stronger," said Mozes. "He gave me the strength to do all that stuff. Coming out of high school nobody wanted me, and I had that chip on my shoulder. That's really the first thing you need to have. People always want to throw in external motivation, pep talks and stuff like that, but you have to be motivated from your own heart. That's one thing I had. Mike gave me the tools."

Barwis on Mozes:

"He's a tremendous strength coach. He has a great ability to show kids how to do things and explain why we do things and how it relates to football. He's a high-energy, explosive and passionate guy, and his work ethic is outstanding. Dan Mozes is what Dan Mozes is, and he's going to be that way in any job that he chooses. If he wanted to be a typist, he'd be the best damn typist around, because he goes as hard as he can."

We can add this to the pile of former Rodriguez players who don't hate the warped beings they were tricked into becoming, yes?

Slipup? This is old, but it sat in my inbox for a while and no one else mentioned it, so here's Rich Rodriguez talking about a year two turnaround:

"But it’s a different scenario," Rodriguez said. "The biggest difference is I had a quarterback that was my starter the first year, Rasheed Marshall, who had gotten hurt but he had at least started some games and he came back and was very talented and fit the system."

Is this a giveaway as to Nick Sheridan's chances at the starting job? Rodriguez does have a quarterback who was a starter his first year. You can parse that statement many ways, but most of them point towards freshmen. That's not exactly a surprise, of course, but FWIW.

Etc.: Wolverines come in #1 on a list of "Animal Mascots Ranked by Uniqueness, Cage-Fighting Skills, and Eco-Friendliness," which is pretty much awesome. Yrs truly is e-nterviewed about Michigan's upcoming season on Blog Ten. The O-Zone's Michigan preview comes in at 5-7 but seems more positive than that through the bulk of it.

The Feagin Reveal

The Feagin Reveal

Submitted by Brian on August 9th, 2009 at 9:54 PM

Miami_Vice

Freep FOIA findings:

Feagin told investigators that “when I first started going to (Burke’s) house he had three big jars of weed up in his room. … One day T.J. was talking to me about some illegal stuff. He was under a lot of pressure because of his financial problems.

“I told him that I knew someone who could get him some cocaine. A few days later he asked me if I had talked to the person yet. I called right then and set up a deal.”

Feagin arranged to send $600 to a friend in Florida, whom he identified only as “Tragic.” In exchange, “Tragic” would send an ounce of cocaine to Ann Arbor.

It goes on from there. No cocaine ever showed up, this Burke guy tried to scare/murder Feagin by filling a bottle with gasoline and setting it on fire outside his dorm room, etc, etc, etc. You know, typical college stuff. Except Burke is 26. But whateva, TJ Burke does what he wants, which is apparently spend up to ten years in prison.

Feagin was a last-minute addition to Michigan's first class under Rodriguez when it became clear that Rodriguez wasn't likely to acquire a higher-rated quarterback recruit. He did not work out, obviously. The Freep article dryly notes that Feagin "struggled to learn the playbook" mere paragraphs after describing Feagin's extensive marijuana habit.

The onfield impact of Feagin's departure remains nil; the off-field stuff… well, at least when a Michigan player violates team rules he actually violates them. Woo spin!

But seriously: it's bad. It's also one guy that Michigan apparently didn't run as thorough of a background check on—or possibly any background check on—as they scrambled to reconfigure Rodriguez's first recruiting class. As long as the incident remains isolated, fine. Yes, Kurt Wermers, you get a point, which brings you up to negative four.

Unverified Voracity Imports KenPom

Unverified Voracity Imports KenPom

Submitted by Brian on July 31st, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Lines. Here are a bunch of Vegas lines, all of which are unfriendly to Michigan:

  • vs Notre Dame –2.5
  • @ Michigan State –4
  • vs Penn State –5
  • @ Illinois –7
  • vs Ohio State –6

Notre Dame is a touchdown favorite over Michigan State despite State's recent ownage in South Bend. This has given Jamie happy pants.

(HT: Get The Picture.)

A tempo-free start. Texas blog Barking Carnival has put together a listing of teams by "pace," which is a concept unfamiliar in football but should be known to all who have heard me rail on about how Ken Pomeroy is an American hero. It's basically the number of possessions in a game. Adjusting for that can radically change perceptions of who is best and by how much:

As we move forward, one important thing to keep an eye on is that according to the standard per game stats, which are of course all that most “analysts” are able to wrap their heads around, Oklahoma’s offense was just over 37% more effective in Big 12 games than our offense was. It’s hard to argue that they were better according to raw numbers, but 37%? Sounds crazy. …

Here we can see that Oklahoma’s offense is now rated a more reasonable shade under 11% better than Texas’ offense. And whereas Texas’ defensive advantage was nearly 27% it is now just over 8% in the new analysis.

Oklahoma's offense wasn't that much more efficient, it just moved at warp speed.

Notes on the national list:

  • Unsurprisingly, spread teams Oklahoma, Oregon, Houston, Troy, and Rice played the most possession-intensive games of anyone last year. Most of the top 20 are pass-oriented spread teams.
  • Gus Mahlzahn and his Ludicrous Speed offense was tenth.
  • Michigan was middle of the pack at 47; West Virginia was 69th.
  • Interesting teams towards the bottom: Virginia Tech (118), Ohio State (117), Georgia (111), Iowa (108), Alabama(107), and Florida (106). There does not appear to be much correlation between pace and excellence.

It's a good start, but there are a lot of limitations to the study. KenPom adjusts his official pace measures by the pace of your opponents. That corrects for situations like playing Northwestern's basketball team a lot. This study doesn't have it. Also, there's no shot clock in football* and game situations dictate hurrying up or slowing down depending on who's in the lead, so one reason you might find a bunch of good teams at the bottom is their ability to get in front and then boa constrictor the life out of a game.

I'm working on getting a comprehensive play database from Bill Connolly of Football Outsiders, and when I get that my first priority is to put together offensive and defensive rankings by drive efficiency instead of raw yardage.

*(There is a play clock but here we're looking one level higher.)

Sad Pandas. It's been a bad week for the Feagin clan. Justin, of course, got the boot from Michigan for reasons unspecified. His uncle is in much, much deeper trouble:

Meanwhile, Steven Feagin, who played at another Big Ten school, the University of Illinois, stands accused of breaking into a woman's home in Pompano Beach, knocking her out with a chemical, then raping her twice.

By no means do I want to imply that Justin's thing was anything similar, or try to draw some link between the two. It's just… it's just a bad week for Feagins, is all. Poor mom.

(HT: Big House Blog.)

Come on down. Er, up. Memphis SF Casey Prather, one of two plan A wings Michigan is pursuing fervently, should be taking an official visit this fall. Rivals' Jerry Meyer:

Michigan is very much in the running for Prather, who recently had a strong showing in the adidas Super 64 event. There is talk that Prather might visit Michigan the second week in September for the Notre Dame football game, but those plans have not been finalized yet. Regardless, Michigan is expected to get a visit from Prather. … Prather is intrigued by the opportunity for immediate playing time at Michigan.

Securing Prather would go a long way towards crushing this blog's previous skepticism about Beilein's ability to recruit at a Big Ten championship level. Also: the Trey Zeigler rumblings have shifted towards Central Michigan, where his dad coaches. Rumblings subject to change, as per usual.

(HT: UMHoops.)

Etc.: AnnArbor.com is actually linking out. The homepage needs the equivalent of radioactivity something fierce, though. Yost and Crisler lookin' swanky. Texas Monthly explains the Longhorn money machine.

2008 Recruiting: Quarterback and Running Back

2008 Recruiting: Quarterback and Running Back

Submitted by Brian on February 12th, 2008 at 5:51 PM

A disclaimer on the "You May Remember Me From Such Players As": YMRMFSPA is supposed to be a rough estimate of what kind of player the recruit could turn into if he pans out. It is not a projection. The players listed tend to be very good because no one knows what kind of player Doug Dutch is; we just know he can't get on the field. I am not saying that I expect Martavious Odoms to be Devin Hester, the best return man in the history of the NFL. I'm saying that Odoms is sort of like Devin Hester and if we roll a second critical hit on our critical hit roll he might be half as good.

End disclaimer. On with shew.

Justin Feagin

Delray Beach, Florida - 6'0" 190
Scout 2*, #93 S
Rivals 3*, #41 ATH
ESPN NR
Lemming NR
Other Suitors Rutgers, Syracuse, Miami (DB), LSU (WR)
YMRMFSPA Pat White, obvs. Or Reggie Ball with less fail.
Previously On
MGoBlog
Thursday Recrutin'
Notes Pronounced "Fay-gin." Like Faygo. He was destined to come up from birth. No word on if he likes ICP or not. Hopefully not.

Justin Feagin is Not Terrelle Pryor, and he is at the moment the only quarterback recruit in the class of 2008 and one of only three that will be on Michigan's roster this year. A small-school star largely ignored by the recruiting services, Feagin is the "dual" in Michigan's upcoming Dual Threet offense.* Zing!

I've said this before, but this is one of the recruits in this class I'm baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason. If you're so inclined you can see Feagin doing squats until two in the morning in his quotes. Feagin on Pryor:

"What if he does go to Michigan? Shame on me if I sit back and think he's better than me. If he wants to play quarterback, we'll have to fight each other for the job. If I win the job, then I'll know I beat out the No. 1 quarterback in the nation."

Feagin on... Pryor:

"I hope, and it would be better for me, if he goes to Michigan. That really lets me see where I stand as a quarterback and if I have really enough potential. He's a good player, and if he goes there that means I have to work twice as hard to get what I want."

This seems something other than the standard blah blah bleur bleur, and I've read a lot of blah blah bleur bleur in my time. Highlights:

Feagin was also heavily involved in his team's state championship, running for 200-some yards and getting burned for a couple touchdowns by Alabama recruit Melvin Ray. He finished third in Florida's Mr. Football voting this year despite playing in the state's smallest classification.

Feagin's recruitment got off to a slow start but by his senior year he had offers from a dozen schools, most prominently LSU (for wide receiver) and Miami (for defensive back). Feagin wanted a shot at quarterback and waited, at which point I think the big schools pulled their offers due to space concerns. (Miami was so full they were trying to jam Martavious Odoms in their class by offering him a track scholarship.) Michigan was left with Rutgers and Syracuse and won that battle.

Feagin sounds like the kind of guy who will thrive under the pressure of the Rodriguez regime and is clearly a high caliber athlete. However, he'll take a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback, especially at his height, and I expect that he'll serve as an insurance policy for Threet until such time as the coaching staff can bring in some more highly-touted guys, at which point he'll find a home at wide receiver or in the secondary.

*(Anyone wanting to fight me about that sentence is welcome to.)

Guru Reliability: Dude, like nil. I don't care if he's not an actual quarterback, anyone who has offers from Miami and LSU is not a two-star prospect, Scout. And ESPN didn't even evaluate him.
General Excitement Level: Moderate overall, meh at QB.
Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.

Sam McGuffie

Cypress, Texas - 5'11" 180
Scout 4*, #7 RB, #63 overall
Rivals 4*, #10 all purpose back
ESPN 79, #30 RB
Lemming #29 overall
Other Suitors USC, Alabama, Texas A&M, Cal
YMRMFSPA Noel Devine
Previously On
MGoBlog
The very first mixtape appearance.
McGuffaggedon is nigh.
The liveblog of his HS game.
Notes Good... bad... he's the guy with the gun.

The most obscure member of Michigan's 2008 recruiting class, little-known Sam McGuffie had a moderately successful junior year devoid of highlights, long touchdown runs, and Superman-like feats. Please enjoy this five minute compilation of three yard off-tackle runs:

Mmmm, second and seven.

Despite all of that above -- part of a remarkable junior season in which McGuffie ran for 3,121 yards and 43 touchdowns -- Rivals cited his size and controversially omitted him from their initial top 100, then several more editions of the list before relenting after a Nike camp where McGuffie impressed.

When the season rolled around, McGuffie picked up a high-ankle sprain and a shoulder separation, missing large portions of the first two games before blowing up for 500 yards in the next two. Scout shot him up into their top 50; Rivals dropped him down 100 spots. When McGuffie's nationally televised game rolled around, he limped through an entertaining loss to another team with the word "Cy" in it somewhere. By that time his shoulder injury had gotten so bad that his attempts at pass protection consisted of falling at blitzers' feet. when it looked like he was going to get hit, he spun away from it and went back-first into tacklers. It was weird, and disappointing until the extent of his injuries came out. He probably shouldn't have been playing at all.

Rivals dropped him out of their top 250.

I'm not one of those who scoffs at recruiting rankings, but their continued skepticism about McGuffie is puzzling. He has the offers (Michigan, Florida, USC amongst a host of others), the stats at perhaps the highest level of competition available in high school football, and reel after reel of jaw-dropping highlights. He has the fourth-highest SPARQ rating in the history of whatever the hell a SPARQ rating is because he showed up at a combine before his junior year of high school and ripped off a 4.32 40, a 3.83 shuttle -- I'm not exactly sure if my calculations are correct, but I believe this means he finished the shuttle before he started it -- and a 41' vertical leap.

Though the guys around McGuffie aren't exactly household names yet one, Josh Haden, just got done starting his freshman year as a Florida cornerback. And though McGuffie weighed in at just 164 pounds at that combine, this year he was supposedly up to 185. Stature didn't keep Rivals from ranking Noel Devine the #15 prospect of 2007.

I don't get it. Plenty of offers, spectacular performance when he's not injured, eye-popping combine performances, and the most electrifying highlight reel of the year equals diss. I'm with Scout and Tom Lemming: Sam McGuffie is awesome.

With McGuffie's supply of awesome established, we can turn to how he fits in the spread 'n' shred. Even skeptical Rivals gave McGuffie the nod as the year's best RB in space:

Other observers thought it odd he was going to Michigan instead of a place like Texas Tech that would spread the field and take advantage of his particular talents.

Uh... check.

Guru Reliability: Two warring camps, so low.
General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.

Mike Cox

Avon, Connecticut - 6'0" 203
Scout 4*, #35 RB
Rivals 3*, NR
ESPN 77, #69 RB
Lemming NR
Other Suitors UConn, Maryland, BC, Penn State(?)
YMRMFSPA Mister Simpson
Previously On
MGoBlog
Meet Mike Cox? Also there is a sort-of transcript of a Facebook interview.
Notes Degree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)

All that sarcastic stuff about McGuffie above actually does apply to Cox, who showed up at Michigan's camp a complete unknown and left a Michigan commitment. Cox grabbed a RB offer from highly touted instate back Jonas Gray despite Gray's blazing 4.3 forty. Gray was given an "athlete" offer; Cox was the guy Michigan wanted.

There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football. Adding to the uncertainty is a senior-year injury that kept him out of four of his team's measly eight games against the sweater-as-cape pricks of the world. We know the Michigan coaching staff liked him enough to offer him over Gray, but that was for Mike Debord's zone stretch extravaganza. Rodriguez runs a completely different offense.

Cox got offered by East Coast schools like Boston College and Maryland, so he's not a total flier, but... yeah, still pretty much a flier.

Guru Reliability: Nil. Cox hits all the potential sleeper checkmarks: injury, obscure school, overlooked part of the country, questionable level of competition.
General Excitement: Meh.
Projection: Cox had mediocre offers and guru rankings -- even the Scout 4* is a fringe one -- and was recruited to play an entirely different system. He seems the least likely skill recruit to contribute.

Michael Shaw

Trotwood, Ohio - 6'0" 185
Scout 4*, #29 RB, #215 overall
Rivals 4*, #6 RB, #102 overall
ESPN 78, #58 RB
Lemming NR
Other Suitors Penn State, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska
YMRMFSPA Antonio Pittman
Previously On
MGoBlog
Nothing, as he was a PSU commit forever.
Notes FWIW, "Takkle" ranks him #62.

(Shaw is listed here but only nominally, as the general consensus is that Michigan will bring him in as a receiver.)

The last signing-day heist to come in for Rich Rodriguez and his wizard hat, Michael Shaw is a guy stuck between two positions. Shaw was a running back for the Trotwood-Madison program that was so generous to Michigan this year, but most observers believe he's being brought in as a slot wide receiver by Michigan.

By June, Shaw had a ton of offers. Michigan was among them and was rumored to be the favorite for his commitment, but the presence (and skittishness) of RB commit Sam McGuffie caused Michigan to offer Shaw as a DB. He didn't like that and committed to Penn State in August. In November he made a brief cameo in the Rivals 100, though he eventually ended up just outside of it. He seemed content until Rich Rodriguez was hired at Michigan; in early January he announced he'd take visits to Tennessee and Michigan. He only took the latter, then went dark until Signing Day, whereupon The Drama unfolded.

That's been hashed and re-hashed. Currently un-hashed: what does Michigan have in Shaw? Scout on Shaw after seeing him in the Herbstreit game against Kentucky Highlands:

It was not like people did not notice him while he led Alter a state championship in 2006, but the move to the "Wood" guaranteed that schools could no longer delay in making him know that he was at the top of their priority list. He was considered by many to be a "system" back, but this game should quiet those critics. He is an explosive player that is multi-faceted. His hands are amazing, he has a feel for the defenders, he has good feet, and he is undoubtedly one of he fastest players in the Midwest.

Bob Lichtenfels' impression from the same game:

The four-star running back showed his electric hips and superb vision. Shaw is not only a great back, but he is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield.

ESPN disagrees completely, complimenting Shaw's ability to get "tough yards after contact" but expressing concern about his speed. He "lacks an extra gear." Which is, like... the exact opposite of what everyone else says. WTF?

I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity. He's clearly fast, sets up his blocks pretty well, and has that glide cut down -- thus the comparison to Antonio Pittman above. But virtually no Shaw runs were between the tackles. Tough yards after contact were few and far between. Maybe ESPN got the wrong film or the highlight reel misrepresents Shaw's strengths... but that's a lot of outside pitches. In comparison the Sam McGuffie tape is full of spins, slashes, hurdles, and wicked cuts both upfield and outside. I can see why Shaw's projected as a wideout.

Not like that will matter hugely, anyway. In the Rodriguez system the slot guys are half running back, frequently coming into the backfield to participate in a triple option, reverse, or end-around. Darius Reynaud, WVU primary slot receiver for the past few years, replaced Steve Slaton at RB when he left the 2006 Louisville game, and was a frequent target on screens that function as running plays and the occasional end-around.

Guru Reliability: High, with the exception of ESPN.
General Excitement: Moderate.
Projection: I don't know what position he'll play or how good of a fit he'll be at either. He seems to be out-RBed by McGuffie and out-slotted by Odoms and Robinson. His high school stats (around 5 or 6 YPC) are also a little lacking compared to most high DI caliber guys.

Position Grades

Quarterback. The below assumes no Pryor. If Pryor does pick Michigan, it's an obvious A+.

D. With Rodriguez's entrance Mallett's exit QB instantly shot to the top of Michigan's to-do list and Justin Feagin isn't sufficient when your other QBs are career backup David Cone and well-regarded but unproven Steven Threet. Don't get me wrong, I like Feagin in an irrational way, but I'd like him even better as the second quarterback who could pan out but no big deal if he does or not and not, like, the only athletic QB on the roster.

Rodriguez was handicapped by his late switch and what appear to be ludicrous demands on the part of South Florida signee BJ Daniels, but this remains a results-based charting service.

Running Back: A. Your personal grade will vary based on your opinion of Sam McGuffie's talents. He's Bill Brasky to me, so up goes the A. Picking up Michael Shaw is an excellent insurance policy/secondary recruit that almost guarantees Michigan will have a high caliber tailback from this class. Mike Cox has a funny name and could contribute.