The Joe Flacco Question

The Joe Flacco Question

Submitted by Brian on November 7th, 2016 at 12:49 PM

11/5/2016 – Michigan 59, Maryland 3 – 9-0, 6-0 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

It actually wasn't any of the deep shots that really caught my attention. It was a slant to Darboh. Play action, linebackers suck up and recover, too late. Wilton Speight fired a rifle shot into Darboh's hands that allowed him to continue without breaking stride. I thought oh no, I have to say this is happening, because that was approximately the sixth eyebrow-cocking throw of the afternoon.

So. This is happening. Here is that column I couldn't write earlier this year. I am writing it now, after three games in which Speight has averaged 12 yards an attempt, after various stats have rejiggered themselves into eye-popping arrangements three-quarters of the way through the college football regular season, after Jim Harbaugh asserted that Jabrill Peppers wasn't the only Michigan player who deserved your Heisman consideration and was met with thoughtful recalibration instead of laughter.

You've seen it with your own eyes on spins out of the pocket and inch-perfect deep balls as Speight continues to refine the high school version of himself into a cross between John Navarre, Ben Roethlisberger, and a production of Swan Lake staffed entirely by bears. At one point Speight scrambled for a touchdown and did some sort of insane flying ballerina move as he crossed the goal line.

wheeeeeee this is fun I didn't know I could move faster than a koala

Your eyes are like "did I just see that" and your spleen is like

I DON'T KNOW!
YOU'RE THE LOOKING PART!
I JUST SIT HERE AND GET NERVOUS SOMEONE'S GOING TO PICKLE ME!

because spleens are like that man. Just venting, like Jim Harbaugh failing to get an extra yard on review after picking up second and thirty-four.

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BALDERDASH [Eric Upchurch]

Since your eyes are clearly not up to the task of confirming or disconfirming what the hell is happening at the most important position in football, here are some numbers. They are rather optimistic given that said eyes spent half the season worrying Speight was going to sink Michigan when crunch time came around:

  • Speight's 8.9 YPA leads the Big Ten by almost a half yard and is 11th nationally.
  • His 15-3 TD/INT ratio is second in the Big Ten to JT Barrett (21-4).
  • His passer rating is now five points clear of Perry Hills for best in the league and is 14th nationally.
  • He's fifth nationally in ESPN's QBR metric, which accounts for rushing yards and SOS.
  • S&P+ now has Michigan's passing attack third(!) in the country.

That latter measure filters out garbage time and attempts to adjust for schedule strength. For that to be an improvement on the raw numbers is rather something. A major reason is that they've played S&P+'s #3 (Wisconsin), #8 (Colorado), and #15 (Penn State) defenses. They got lucky with Penn State's linebacker issues, but Michigan kept Garrett Sickels in check just fine during that game and he was rampant against OSU.

Speight was again mostly clean in this game but hardly noticed pressure except to spin out of it and make something productive of it, whether it was a bomb to Chesson or a seven-yard scramble that is probably still ongoing or finding the guy who blew the protection for a first down. His receivers certainly help. But this was a game where he lost a fifty-yard completion to an offensive pass interference call and still posted ludicrous numbers.

-------------------------------------------

Is Wilton Speight elite? I don't know, man. This is a considerable improvement from "lol no" before the bye week and is trending in a spectacular direction. His last 72 attempts are elite, and with every game he moves towards a simple "yes." This is the second straight year a Michigan quarterback has muddled around for half a year before an exponential explosion in competence.

In addition to all the other ways Jim Harbaugh is a difference maker as a head coach he has this. There is no better quarterback coach in football. Every one of his charges exceeds expectations.  Often when he or they move on the player in question never recaptures his form. Is Wilton Speight elite? Ask again later. Is Jim Harbaugh elite? Cumong man, that's not even worth asking.

This team no longer feels like an elite defense with an offense scraping by, a la 1997. With Speight dropping bombs on all comers, it feels like... I have no idea. No Michigan team in my experience has spent an entire season bombing everyone they come across. Michigan has three top fifteen wins and the only reason any of those was within three scores was Kenny Allen having a miserable day against Wisconsin. You'd have to go back to the 70s to find a Michigan team that can end almost every game it plays in the first half.

Bo never managed to complete his task, because his quarterbacks were never state of the art. Jim Harbaugh emphatically does not have this problem. Ohio State? Bring 'em on.

HIGHLIGHTS

parkinggod:

AWARDS

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[Fuller]

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Wilton Speight had the greatest first half in the history of Michigan football quarterbacking, per statistics and Jim Harbaugh. He finished with an absurd 15 yards an attempt and is now the Big Ten's clear leader in passer rating and YPA; he also ran(!) for a touchdown that he finished with weird ballerina flair(!!!).

#2 Jourdan Lewis never gets on these lists anymore because for the most part nobody is trifling with him. A hat tip to Maryland for multiple shots down the sideline resulting in 3 PBUs, zero completions, and one uncalled OPI.

#3 Taco Charlton almost literally does not show up in the box score. He got a half sack and no other tackles. Do not let this color your opinion of his game: dude was on fire, repeatedly hammering into the backfield when Maryland ran inside and getting pressure on just about every dropback only for his friends to clean up most of it.

Honorable mention: Jehu Chesson had a breakout game with 112 yards; Jake Butt is now Michigan's all-time leader in receiving yards from a tight end; Deveon Smith managed 6 YPC with a long of 14, which is super hard to do; Maurice Hurst was a constantly disruptive presence; Ben Gedeon had three TFLs and did an excellent job on the edge.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland), Taco Charlton (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers),
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

The throwback bomb from Peppers to Speight to Chesson was entirely unnecessary, entirely awesome, and caused a purported journalist to descend into a hissy fit.

Also a great throw on a route that's not as open as it could have been on a trick play.

Honorable mention:

WGIBTUs Past.

Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

Either Channing Stribling whiffing on a reverse he'd put himself in great position on or Mike McCray getting juked and edged by Lorenzo Harrison, because both of those incidents confirmed issues from the Michigan State game and indicated a weakness in this defense.

Honorable mention: Maryland breaks the shutout with a field goal; Speight turfs a bubble screen to Peppers that would probably have scored; Michigan gets stuffed on fourth and short; that one time they almost punted.

PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs

Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.

[After THE JUMP: Happy Maryland fans.]

Wednesday Presser 10-5-16: Mike Zordich

Wednesday Presser 10-5-16: Mike Zordich

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on October 5th, 2016 at 6:03 PM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

Talk about the play last game of the corners. Those guys just seemed to be right on.

“Yeah, they’re playing well. They’re working hard in practice preparing themselves week in and week out and they just gotta continue, and it’s paying off in the games. So, we’ll keep on that same path and just try to keep building it.”

Lewis interception ranks where in the pick offs that you’ve seen?

“It’s insane. I mean, I haven’t seen anything like that from a defensive player. Seen a few guys offensively do it, but nothing like that defensively. That was a hell of a play.”

Besides that, the way that he’s closing in the run game and getting to the ball, just talk about how good he’s been.

“Yeah, he’s a complete player on the defensive side of the ball. The kid’s very competitive, very feisty, he’s very good at man-to-man coverage, very good at zone coverage when asked to drop, and he knows how to get off blocks and he knows how to make tackles. I mean, he can do it all. He’s a pretty good player.”

You’ve coached Jourdan now for a year and a half. How many times can you recall during a game where he made a technical mistake?

“Well, we all make mistakes and he has made a few. Even last week, him and Channing made a few technical mistakes that we’re trying to clear up and we will clear up. They’re few and far between with him. And the thing is, when he does it, he knows it and he gets pretty upset about it. He tries to figure it out real quick.”

Obviously not having Jeremy [Clark] you guys are kind of on thin ice with just two guys, even as good as they are. With the other two [freshmen], are they ready?

“I feel so bad for Jeremy. Really practiced so hard and played so well in the games he was in, and everybody’s talking about him and hoping the best for him. Brandon Watson had a hell of a camp. Really since spring. Played well in the spring, played well all through camp, and he’s going in, filling in just fine. Lavert Hill: extremely talented young man. He’s just got to grow and mature. He’s young. David Long, same way. His injury held him up a little bit, but now we’re starting to see some things out of him. It’s very unfortunate we lost Jeremy—you never want to lose a guy like that—but those guys, those three guys I think in time and if in need can fill in and play.”

[After THE JUMP: discussing soil conditions in the garden]

This Week's Obsession: 2020 Will Thank You

This Week's Obsession: 2020 Will Thank You

Submitted by Seth on September 1st, 2016 at 12:00 PM

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[Eric Upchurch]

The question:

Which freshmen do you NOT want to see burn their redshirts on Saturday?

The responses:

BiSB: The blindingly obvious answer is Brandon Peters, so I'm assuming we won't spend much time on him.

As far as players who might actually play, I'll go with Josh Uche. Sure, Michigan needs to develop linebacker depth in a big damn hurry. And sure, Uche is a crazy athlete and has serious upside as an outside linebacker or weakside end. But he's skinny. Really skinny.  He's listed at 6'3", 217 pounds. Remember how we all thought James Ross was too small as a freshman? He was 6'1", 225 pounds. But if Michigan wants some depth at SAM behind Peppers that brings some of the same pass rush and above-average athleticism, Uche might be it.  He might be a fun toy to bring unholy brimstone off the edge, but I think an apprenticeship/eat-all-the-sandwiches year would be more valuable.

[Ace is typing]

[Hit THE JUMP to see who wants to redshirt Rashan Gary.]

Preview 2016: Cornerback

Preview 2016: Cornerback

Submitted by Brian on September 1st, 2016 at 10:58 AM

Previously: Podcast 8.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line. Defensive End. Defensive Tackle. Linebacker.

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Are you not entertained by PBUs? [Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart

Boundary Corner Yr. Field Corner Yr. Nickelback Yr.
Channing Stribling Sr. Jourdan Lewis Sr. Jabrill Peppers So.*
Jeremy Clark Sr.* David Long Fr. Jourdan Lewis Sr.
Keith Washington Fr.* LaVert Hill Fr. Brandon Watson So.*

Last year's secondary was sort of good. Michigan led the nation in yards per attempt allowed at 5.4 and opposition passer rating. S&P+ had them 11th nationally because Big Ten quarterbacks were double plus ungood a year ago, but that's still near-elite.

There's about to be some hedging about non-Jourdan Lewis corners because they weren't straight-up killers when they showed up on your television, but keep those numbers in mind when expectations are (slightly) tamped. Michigan gets back five of the six guys who spearheaded those stats. If you consider Jabrill Peppers a member of this unit, which you should, you have to back to 1997 for a comparable.

CORNERBACK

RATING: 4.5.

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NOPE [Patrick Barron]

I'm about to write a lot about JOURDAN LEWIS, but you can skip it. The tl;dr version is "is Jourdan Lewis." He's an All-American. He's a perfect cover corner minus a few inches. He was all but impossible to escape a year ago:

He will be this again in 2016. The end.

Our probably unnecessary epilogue kicks off with an assertion from Don Brown that is both unexpected and extremely important:

This is a weird thing for Jourdan Lewis to be since his run responsibilities a year ago were 404 file not found. Lewis was constantly locked in man coverage and almost never involved in the opposition's run game, which turned out to be much to Michigan's detriment against good spread offenses like Indiana and Ohio State.

As a result I don't have much of anything in which Lewis is active as run defender. He had a decent play against Florida when he was forced into the Peppers role:

And he ended up mirroring a WR in space effectively on a screen in the Maryland game. That's it. If that seems like an incredibly small sample size, it is. Lewis had probably under 20 tackles that weren't a direct result of a guy managing to catch the ball on him. We simply don't know how he's going to do when activated against the run. 

Everything else is established. If you complete a pass on Lewis 90% of the time it's going to be like this:

Good luck creating an offense around that. For some reason, opponents kept testing Lewis despite this invariably being the result. PFF:

The top-graded cornerback in the nation last year at +22.3, Lewis broke out by leading the FBS with 15 passes defensed while surrendering only 36.7 percent of his targets to be completed, good for fifth-best. Perhaps most impressive was his ability to maintain his strong play from start to finish in 2015, despite facing 90 targets, 10th-most in the nation.

Lewis grades out like this because he is super quick and always in the pocket of whoever he's matched up against. By midseason I was clipping literally any completion on him that wasn't heavily contested for the sheer novelty. In addition to being impossible to shake, Lewis has mastered the craft of not quite interfering. One of his best traits is an sense of when to grab the receiver's hand such that his only option is to go up for a circus catch:

And that cat-quickness allows him to recover on routes that should be RPS minuses:

That should work. Lewis should not even be in position to get a little bit of hand on the waist and then extend through for a PBU. He is set up outside and has to make up a ton of ground in not much time. He does.

Lewis's main—only?—flaw is not being 6'1". A 6'1" version of Jourdan Lewis is a 15-year NFL All Pro. The 5'11" or 5'10" version is a good longterm starter. This didn't come up much last year. When Lewis was challenged by 6'5" quasi-TEs he won.

No fade route thrown on Lewis a year ago was not heavily contested, and their success rate hovered around 10%.

If it was a factor it was probably in Lewis's epic battle against Aaron Burbridge and Connor Cook. Lewis narrowly won that battle despite Burbridge going over 100 yards because it took almost 20 attempts to get there, but a hypothetical version of Lewis that is just as mobile and has another few inches of reach turns difficult completions into international-sign-of-no waving and punts.

Lewis's lack of size also occasionally figured in as opponents muscled through him, like on this completion in the bowl game:

Lewis has done an A+ job against lumbering 6'5" guys over the past two years but occasionally he will get ripped off balance by larger guys. That will continue.

Also in the tiny pile of areas for improvement is off coverage. Lewis wasn't bad at it, per se, but when opponents wriggled free it was often because they'd been issued breathing room.

Interceptions are not an issue. Some folks have asserted that Lewis got thrown at a bunch because he's not a threat to intercept the ball. He had just two a year ago, and one was against Maryland so that barely counts. I don't buy it; that feels like an answer to an unanswerable question. Q: Why do you do something that doesn't make sense? A: Well, here's something else that doesn't make sense.

Michigan's approach had a lot to do with the minimal INTs. Michigan rarely switched up their coverages and didn't run much zone, so opportunities to bait a quarterback a la Blake Countess were few and far between. Lewis ended up in a ton of trail coverage on which he could either secure a PBU or "get his head around" and potentially lose the plot.

It'll be fascinating to see how Don Brown changes this dynamic. Either way, Lewis is an All-American ticketed for the late first round of the NFL draft.

[After THE JUMP: Jabrill Peppers! Seriously this time!]

Mailbag: Brown Transition Costs, Let's Go Moo, Schedule Balance, Autobench As Cause

Mailbag: Brown Transition Costs, Let's Go Moo, Schedule Balance, Autobench As Cause

Submitted by Brian on August 4th, 2016 at 2:29 PM

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let me show you how we handle punks in the district, punk [Patrick Barron]

Hi Brian,

Everywhere I turn this offseason, it seems someone is writing another article lauding the aggression, complexity, blitzes, and disguises built into Don Brown's defense. These attributes have obvious upside, but are we overlooking what could be a very steep learning curve for this defense? Can we really expect these guys to flawlessly execute such a reportedly complex defense within the first year?

Best,

Stephen Bowie

There will be transition costs; there always are. When you're real good and have real good players those can be overcome. Last year's offense had a bunch of transition costs and still rocketed from 82nd in S&P+ to 30th; in FEI they went from 100th(!) to 33rd. This leap occurred despite weekly UFR diatribes about how various people on Michigan's offense still didn't really know what they were doing.

It going to be tougher for the defense to have anything similar since they were already very good. It's hard to improve much from 20th (FEI) or 2nd (S&P+). The leap from DJ Durkin to Don Brown is probably extant; it is certainly less grand than the leap from Brady Hoke to Jim Harbaugh. Meanwhile Brown's defenses have tended to tread water in year one:

Year TEAM YPP FEI S&P+
2008 Maryland 56 63 75
2009 Maryland 87 64 44
2010 Maryland 14 20 31
2011 Maryland 83 74 102
         
2010 UConn 40 40 63
2011 UConn 56 23 34
2012 UConn 8 22 38
2013 UConn 64 56 72
         
2012 Boston College 63 81 80
2013 Boston College 92 98 80
2014 Boston College 30 68 36
2015 Boston College 1 5 3

There's a ton of noise in that data since we're not accounting for returning starters and the like. It still suggests that a great leap forward should not be expected.

On the other hand, Don Brown has never been handed even half of the talent he's got this year and it's almost all very experienced. Michigan's starting D consists of eight seniors, a redshirt junior, Jabrill Peppers, and Rashan Gary. While these guys haven't worked on certain things Brown does, they've at least encountered them from time to time; they can also spend the bulk of their offseason working on that stuff since you can take it as read that they've got man free coverages down.

It is a concern, but the schedule is reassuring. I'll take a series of early biffs against teams Michigan beats by 21 instead of 28 if the payoff is a defense that is finally, finally, finally equipped with the state of the art in shutting down a spread n shred. The talent available should mitigate some of those hiccups—a coverage bust doesn't hurt you if the QB is running for his life—and once those get smoothed over, Michigan's ceiling is higher.

Let's go moo

Hello,

In my travels throughout the internet I came a cross a rather unique rendition of 'Let's Go Blue' that I thought should be shared. There is a man named Farmer Derek, a high level Bard no doubt, who serenades his cattle and posts the songs on YouTube. At the end of his version of Royals by Lorde he goes into Let's Go Blue and the cattle respond in kind. I don't know what should be done with this video, if anything, but I believe it should be shared and thought you should be notified. Cheers.

Sincerely yours in football,

PinballPete

This is a great service to the fandom, Pinball Pete:

[After THE JUMP: not cows responding to Let's Go Blue so why even bother]

2016 Recruiting: Lavert Hill

2016 Recruiting: Lavert Hill

Submitted by Brian on May 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long.

       
Detroit, MI – 5'10", 172
       

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Scout 4*, #97 overall
#7 CB
Rivals 4*, #176 overall
#14 CB, #5 MI
ESPN 4*, #278 overall
#21 CB, #7 MI
24/7 4*, #88 overall
#6 CB, #2 MI
Other Suitors MSU, PSU, Tenn, Clemson, UGA, OSU, Texas, USC, UCLA
YMRMFSPA Jourdan Lewis
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Brother of Delano. Army AA. Also national DB of the year. Nicknamed "Ghost," which is a good nickname.

Film

Senior:

Lavert Hill's recruitment ended the way you expect "younger brother of Michigan player" to end. Getting there was a bit odd. Hill fired off an early commitment to Penn State, but by the time last year's football season rolled around he was on Michigan's campus weekly and regarded as the biggest lock on the board… without actually decommitting. When he finally made the obvious official by declaring himself a free agent, Hill still managed to be the indirect cause of a ton of finger-pointing when Penn State brought him on the ice during a hockey game. For dessert there was a late, apparently unwarranted surge of optimism from Michigan State. (At his Signing Day announcement, his brother admitted he knew what the pick was for a "couple weeks.") Hill had a high-drama no-drama recruitment.

But all that's in the rear-view mirror now. Michigan did indeed acquire Delano Hill's younger brother, and in doing so they hope to set themselves up with a younger version of a guy currently on the roster: Jourdan Lewis. Former DB coach Greg Jackson's YMRMFSPA is also Jourdan Lewis, for one. The similarities are many, to the point where scouting reports could be about either guy. Scout's profile evaluation is a good example:

Has a natural knack for reading and jumping routes. Good, quick feet and ability to change directions. Technically sound and smooth in his backpedal and transition. Has the closing speed to makeup ground and break on passes. Must add size and strength. Solid wrap-up tackler, but must get stronger to improve in this area.

Or 247's take from the Army game:

…lockdown corner with elite feet, great speed and quicks. He competed on every rep giving the quarterback no option on his side of the field.

Or Rivals's Josh Helmholdt:

"Hill is a lockdown cover corner who has shown he can check the top wide receivers in the country," Helmholdt said. "He has a fluid turn, good top-end speed and an outstanding break on the football." … "The one thing he will have to work on when he gets to college is he tends to get a little handsy."

Or Sam Webb, also at the Army game:

…excellent press corner. … great speed, terrific hips, and cat-like quickness.  All of those things aid him in sticking with receivers when he lines up in their faces.  But he didn’t look as instinctive when playing off.  I thought he lined up too far off the ball Monday, giving receivers too much freedom to get into their routes.  He was much more aggressive and physical Tuesday and did a much better job of throwing off the QB-to-WR timing.

Or ESPN:

…Flashes very good recovery speed in the short-area and longer makeup speed if caught out of position vertically. … Smart, savvy and aware on the perimeter. Understands zone concepts and does a really good job reading the quarterback and feeling routes develop. … Shows good press-man technique jamming receivers with his length and retaining inside leverage . Will turn and run showing good speed and fluid hip turns. Mirrors with sharp footwork and balance; closes separation quickly out of breaks to undercut routes.

The scouting reports continue, and continue, and continue in this vein. Dude seemingly went to every camp out there for years, killing it at most of them. "In terms of instincts and man to man cover skills, you won't find many in the 2016 class better than LaVert Hill"; "fantastic as usual";  "won MVP at NIKE's The Opening regional with dazzling one-handed interceptions and lockdown cover skills." Etc.

Hill's speed is a major plus, with a 4.41 electronic 40 and a 4.10 shuttle at an Opening regional. He's not the biggest guy but has the ability to stay in anyone's back pocket; once there his timing and vertical allows him to make plays against strapping wideouts. Kind of like… yep. Even the drawbacks remind you of Lewis, who is at his best in press man and spent much of last year successfully toeing the line between legit coverage and interference.

Former Cass Tech coach Jermain Crowell directly compared the two when Hill committed:

Vert is more athletic than JD [ed: Lewis's nickname]. He’s faster than JD with them being the same age coming out of high school. His vertical is better. But JD has always had that edge, he doesn’t care who you are, he’s coming at you. JD will line up against a seventh grader and treat him like he’s the best receiver in college.

“Lavert might not necessarily do that. He rises to the challenge. He wants to go against the best of the best to prove himself. You have to be more consistent. Once his consistency gets there he’s going to be unreal.”

Let's explore that latter bit, the main drawback people mention about Hill. He got beat with some frequency in high school. When Ace caught him at the beginning of his junior year, he was very up and down:

Hill had an up-and-down day, giving up a long touchdown when he got beat on a post route and compounded his error by diving for a pick, then bouncing back to make a couple very nice plays on the ball—he got hit with three pass interference calls on the night, but I thought two of them were highly questionable.

Cass played him off a lot, and Ace also noticed that he was often uncomfortable doing so. 247 took in the same game and came away with the same take: physically capable but beat too often, like Vernon Hargreaves against Jehu Chesson.

Touch The Banner mentions in its evaluation that his high school production was often called into question and that he made his name largely on camps. That appears to be a criticism Hill is leaving behind, however, as his senior year was extremely productive. King assistant Terel Patrick told Steve Lorenz that Hill developed a great deal from when Ace saw him above to a 12-interception(!), 24-PBU(!) senior season that ended in a state championship:

His eyes are extremely disciplined from when you look earlier in high career. The athleticism has always been there, the playmaking ability has always been there, but honing in on the small things and working his craft and the eye discipline, and ability to stay locked in all four quarters is the biggest change I’ve seen in Lavert’s game from the start of his high school career to end of his high school career.”

Ace relates that Hill gives up long plays whenever he sees him play but that they were greatly reduced in frequency as a senior. Hill is no doubt still working towards the ideal here, but the trajectory of improvement is encouraging. Some struggles early are natural.

A second problem area is run defense. Per Ace, Hill "isn't much of a form tackler," and that's something ESPN mentioned in their evaluation:

Not a physical edge setter versus the run but will come quickly and make the low cut tackle. As a productive zone defender, he will need to continue physically develop to remain effective in those schemes at the college level.

Crappy tackling is to high school cornerbacks what pad level is to high school linemen, so it's not a death knell or anything. Hill's size and lack of experience in that phase of the game could be a hindrance to his playing time, especially in a Don Brown defense. Last year Michigan's corners were rarely—almost never—involved in run D; that will not be the case going forward.

Both of these drawbacks are fixable. Hill has already gone some way towards fixing the former. In contrast to David Long, the apprentice year Michigan can provide him is more necessity than luxury. Both guys have similar upsides and enticing futures.

Etc.: Whoops. Also whoops. He is not this dude in Dearborn who works in a steel plant. Scout All-American. Greg Jackson mentions his physical intangibles:

He brings those intangibles that you can’t teach: instincts, quickness, transition in and out of breaks and reaction skills.

I will die fighting on this hill. Favorite phrase is "pretty good."

Why Jourdan Lewis? See above. This entire post is "why Lavert Hill is a lot like Jourdan Lewis." FWIW, Hill's rankings are eerily similar to Lewis's.

Guru Reliability: High. Only thing that keeps it from "exacting" is a sizeable split in the rankings. It's not a massive difference, though. Hill was at the Army game and the Opening amongst a ton of other camps and has been on the radar for years.

Variance: Moderate. There's always a little worry that a player Hill's size will find the college transition difficult, and he has work to do.

Ceiling: High. See also: Jourdan Lewis.

General Excitement Level: High. Sounds like a guy who would be up and down as a freshman and hopefully hit it big going forward.  I do wonder if Don Brown's zone stuff and emphasis on run support from the corners might be a less than ideal fit for Hill (and Lewis), especially early on. I'll take it if it means Michigan can actually defend spread-to-run teams, especially You Know, That One.

Projection: Broken record time: Hill will play this year in preparation for a starting role in 2017. He's not likely to beat out the three seniors at corner; along with David Long he is a favorite to start as a true sophomore the year after. Hill does seem like less of a sure thing than Long, but I'll be surprised if anyone on the roster can displace him for a two or three year starting stint.

Hello: Lavert Hill

Hello: Lavert Hill

Submitted by Ace on February 3rd, 2016 at 2:03 PM


[Isaiah Hole/247]

Michigan added a critical piece to its secondary and tallied a head-to-head win over Michigan State this morning when All-American Detroit King CB LaVert Hill announced his commitment to the Wolverines at the PSL Signing Day ceremony. The younger brother of senior safety Delano Hill joins top-100 prospect David Long to give the 2016 class a top-notch cornerback duo.

Hill originally committed to Penn State back in January of 2015. He was a consistent presence in Ann Arbor during the fall, however, and backed off that commitment in November. While MSU made a strong push for his signature, Hill couldn't pass up the chance to play with his brother, as well as his good friend Jourdan Lewis, who happens to be a very similar player.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #7 CB,
#97 Ovr
4*, #14 CB,
#176 Ovr
4*, 80, #21 CB,
#278 Ovr
4*, 95, #6 CB,
#88 Ovr
4*, #12 CB,
#135 Ovr

Hill is a four-star across the board and a top-100 prospect on two of the four recruiting sites. His rankings rose over the course of a strong senior year that culminated in a state title and an appearance in the Army All-American Game.

One reason Hill had to work his way up the rankings is his size: he's listed at 5'10", ~175 pounds on three of the four sites, while Rivals gives him an extra inch.

[Hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]

Monday Recruitin' Battens Down The Hatches

Monday Recruitin' Battens Down The Hatches

Submitted by Brian on February 1st, 2016 at 11:58 AM

Announced announcements organized again

womensfashionhats-timelessstyles

Your slightly adjusted who-is-announcing-when primer:

  • 7 PM tonight: NJ CB Jordan Fuller. Michigan, OSU, ND.
  • 9 AM, NSD: MI CB Lavert Hill. Michigan, MSU.
  • 11 AM, NSD: MI K Quinn Nordin. Michigan, USC.
  • 1 PM, NSD: NJ DE Rashan Gary. Michigan, Ole Miss, USC, Clemson.
  • 1 PM, NSD: FL WR Pie Young. Michigan, Louisville, USC.
  • 2 PM, NSD: AZ DE Connor Murphy. Michigan, USC, Oregon, ASU.
  • 3PM, NSD: CA TE Devin Asiasi. Michigan, USC, UCLA, UW, Bama.
  • 3PM, NSD: CA DT Boss Tagaloa. Michigan, USC, UCLA, UW.

Fuller's decision tonight

NJ CB Jordan Fuller seems to have successfully kept everyone in the dark about his final destination until this morning when Lorenz CB'd him to Ohio State, reporting that Michigan's coaching staff does not expect to come out on top. Before that both sides of the presumed Michigan/Ohio State battle had more or less thrown their hands up and said "dunno." Bill Kurelic just yesterday:

In the case of Fuller things have become tighter since I did my Crystal Ball of Fuller to the Buckeyes right before Fuller’s in-home visits – Michigan has staged a rally and is a very real threat and Notre Dame has not given up in their chase.

He still thinks OSU but hedged that very hard. Webb related that this is a "dogfight" and that things are 50/50.

If Lorenz is correct that's a bit irritating. Yesterday Fuller retweeted a Michigan edit and then a bunch of tweets from Michigan commits showing him the proverbial love. And… uh… some guy playing Counterstrike with an MGoUser told said user that Fuller would go to M, so we had that going for us. I just wanted Counterstrike guy to be right, really.

Double silent commit is extra ninja

Brandon Justice set off a 600+ comment thread here by reporting a "surprising pickup" on the twitters:

He'd later reiterate that, yes, the gentleman in question has a commitable offer. Steve Lorenz reported that Justice's information was indeed legit but declined to steal the guy's scoop. In the aftermath everyone from TX OL Greg Little to USA ADM Chester A. Nimitz has been mentioned as a possibility.

6_3863931

viiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiic(?)

Of late most speculation in the non-ludicrous category has centered on CA QB Vic Viramontes, a former commit and MGo fave-rave. Webb posted a potentially-related note about Vic's resurgence on Michigan's board, as Harbaugh has a "special appreciation" for the guy. Sam says he'll be one to watch through signing day.

We're putting him back on our best guess list based on that chatter and because it hurts too much to keep tearfully deleting it.

Hello again: Nate Johnson

TN WR Nate Johnson's trip to Notre Dame was apparently as disastrous as Brady Hoke's most recent, resulting in a parting of the ways between the Irish and Johnson.

With ND out of the picture, Johnson's nominal commit gets far less nominal. He visited Miami, was committed to Purdue, and fielded an offer from in-state Tennessee; of those schools only the 'Canes seem like any threat, and there was minimal buzz coming off his official there. Wiltfong believes Johnson will stick in the Michigan class, and that makes sense.

The last hurdle there is whether Michigan wants to spend the scholarship, but NJ WR Donald Stewart committing to Stanford probably answers that question. As a reminder, yes, Nate Johnson can play football:

He's a guy Michigan went after with many other options available. It is very good to have him back in the fold.

[after THE JUMP: your very very last Gary panic of the week, admittedly speculative Bossiasi CB explanation]

Thursday Recruitin' Notes First Off That Babies Sleep For Like 16 Hours A Day

Thursday Recruitin' Notes First Off That Babies Sleep For Like 16 Hours A Day

Submitted by Brian on January 28th, 2016 at 12:57 PM

Announced announcements organized

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ma'am may i have this hat dance

Your who-is-announcing-when primer:

  • Sometime Friday: MO TE Chase Allen. Michigan, Nebraska, ISU.
  • 7 PM, February 1st: NJ CB Jordan Fuller. Michigan, OSU, ND.
  • 11 AM, NSD: MI K Quinn Nordin. Michigan, USC.
  • Noon, NSD: CA TE Devin Asiasi. Michigan, USC, UCLA, UW.
  • Noon, NSD: CA DT Boss Tagaloa. Michigan, USC, UCLA, UW.
  • 1 PM, NSD: NJ DE Rashan Gary. Michigan, Ole Miss, USC.
  • 2 PM, NSD: AZ DE Connor Murphy. Michigan, USC, Oregon, ASU.
  • Unknown, NSD: MI CB Lavert Hill. Michigan, PSU, MSU.
  • Unknown, NSD: FL WR Pie Young. Michigan, Louisville, FSU.
  • Unknown, NSD: TN WR Nate Johnson. Michigan, Miami.

Murphy's mom in Michigan's corner

AZ DE Connor Murphy got home and gave a couple interviews. He told Brice Marich that his mom was all about Murphy committing right then and there.

“My mom loved the visit,” said Murphy. “My mom wished I would have committed right then and there!”

Brandon Justice also got in touch. Murphy said Ann Arbor impressed:

"Since my brother played in the Pac-12 and I live on the west coast, I've pretty much seen all of the schools I've visited before, but Michigan I was clueless about," he said. "I know it was rated the best college town, and it lived up to the hype."

This is a situation where everything looks good but there's no certainty. He did talk to an Oregon site recently for an article that was vaguely positive. Murphy will announce on Signing Day. He cancelled a planned visit to Alabama this weekend. USC appears to be the main competition.

Fuller tea leaves

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NJ CB Jordan Fuller announced he would announce at 7 PM on February 1st. In-homes with his three finalists were completed yesterday, so word could leak out in the near future. Most say it's Michigan or OSU, with OSU a tentative but universal favorite. Fuller's recruitment is the inverse of Murphy's: expected to not end happily for fuzzy reasons.

In those circumstances a recent OSU offer is interesting. The Buckeyes, along with a couple other Power 5 schools, recently threw their hat in the ring for two-star Cinci commit K'Von Wallace. OSU is tight on numbers and was expected to take one more defensive back recruit. If that's related (and it is not necessarily so) that doesn't mean that OSU thinks they'll lose Fuller; it might mean they want to cover their bases.

Movin' on up with Bossiasi

6_3715168[1]

Ace informs be that I should have made this BAWSEiasi because of rappists

Let's make a sportsmanteau out of CA TE Devin Asiasi and CA DT Boss Tagaloa because this is one package deal that seems likely to come to fruition. Yeah.

Anyway you'll never guess who the Washington 247 mods believe leads for them. Yep: Washington, and they will fight you if you believe otherwise. Interestingly enough, they're under the impression that Michigan is the competition here, and that was before the duo's official to Ann Arbor.

After that official Michigan appears to be picking up steam. Webb posted a slice of promising information late last night:

A poster on the 247 board has information very similar to Sam's*: word around De La Salle is that Bossiasi is telling people Michigan is the pick. DOTMAN, a mod there, also suggested Asiasi is trending to Michigan. Circumstantial evidence: Tagaloa cancelled a midweek visit to Cal, and Asiasi is not going to Alabama.

But even if Michigan is the favorite of both guys the trick is convincing Tagaloa's family to let him go across the country. A USC visit this weekend also stands in the way. Lotta ins, lotta outs here.

*[He was put under suspicion since he said something right after that Webb article, but he pointed out a week-old post in which he said something similar. Credible? I think so.]

[After THE JUMP: radical reshift of Michigan's WR/TE board, a few visits, best guess list.]

Monday Recruitin' Keeps Deleting Chunks Of Itself Because People Are Committing Too Fast

Monday Recruitin' Keeps Deleting Chunks Of Itself Because People Are Committing Too Fast

Submitted by Brian on January 25th, 2016 at 1:33 PM

RIP to da servers

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Michigan was set to have a Signing Day unlike any they'd experienced since Signing Day became a thing. There are usually a smattering of commits and maybe a flip or two. This year was looking to maybe double that level of activity even before Michigan got it in their head to pull the ol' Bobby Bowden out:

Because of the Signing of the Stars event on National Signing Day, I am expecting most (if not all) of Michigan's remaining pledges to be silently committed to the staff until February 3rd. If they don't, it's either because Michigan believes it's their only chance to publicly secure said kid or the kid just doesn't want to wait to make it public.

Obviously that's not 100% with three commits in the last day. In Uche and Mbem-Bosse's case they had officials scheduled so the commits eliminate those schools as threats unless the recruits take the Nate Johnson path.

We have a plan for Signing Day, but if Michigan gets ten commits all bets are off. Let's hope RAILGUN™lives up to its badass name. In lieu of flowers please donate to a fund to investigate Ole Miss recruiting.

Visit weekend fallout other than three commits

NJ WR Donald Stewart declared Michigan his leader. With Nate Johnson trending to Notre Dame and the rest of the WR class comprised of smaller guys, the 6'4" Stewart brings a unique skillset and should definitely be a take. He just visited his two finalists, so Stanford has little ammo left to catch up with.

Status quo with NJ DE Rashan Gary but we have a little section on him below for the clicks.

Ditto FL WR Eddie McDoom. He did not commit publicly; he did tell various people things were going really well after saying that he would commit if things went, you know, well.

AZ DE Connor Murphy hasn't talked to anyone yet about his visit. Michigan is generally regarded the favorite; his mom came up with him.

We project all of the above in the class in addition to Uche and Mbem-Bosse. On to guys who are still relatively open…

NJ CB Jordan Fuller doesn't say much, and when he does say stuff it's carefully calibrated to not give anything away. He did tell Scout's Brian Dohn that Don Brown showed him "really cool stuff" and that Michigan's defense looked "really fun to play," but for insight you have to go to second-hand stuff.

So let's do that. Dohn says he "knows the job Michigan did with Jabrill Peppers" and "loves" Michigan's academics but that ND and OSU were ahead pre-visit. He cancelled his trip to PSU and is thus down to three; Wiltfong doesn't think ND is much of a threat.

Tim Sullivan notes that rumbles from both ends of Fuller's recruitment seemed positive:

The Michigan staff is feeling good, and perhaps just as telling, we've heard rumblings that the Ohio State coaches are worried about the progress Michigan has made there.

And Rivals mid-Atlantic analyst Adam Friedman on Gary and Fuller:

The Buckeyes have limited slots and just flipped a DB recruit from Louisville. They would likely still take Fuller. OSU 247 guy Alex Gleitman still thinks it's OSU but offers considerable uncertainty as he says that. Fuller is very much in play.

Finally, reports from CA TE Devin Asiasi and CA DT Boss Tagaloa and people close to them were highly positive, as they usually are. ESPN's Erik McKinney caught up with them. Tagaloa:

"It was much more than I expected. This visit was by far one of the best I've taken. They are really high on my offer list right now and there's a good possibility I could be going there, too."

Asiasi had similarly positive but not definitive statements. UCLA, Washington, and USC are all in play for both. The duo took trips together to the former two and have USC set for next weekend; Asiasi cancelled a midweek visit to Alabama. Lorenz reports that Michigan believes this is one package deal with a high chance of coming to fruition. I believe it. When you're taking all your officials as a pair, that means something.

Whether that's good or bad is in the eye of the beholder. West Coast folk tend to think Asiasi is much more open to departing than Tagaloa. Scout's Greg Biggins:

"…with Boss, it would still be a surprise if he left the state but not as much with Devin, he's very open to everyone right now and fits that Michigan offense really well."

Wiltfong also thinks Tagaloa will stay in the west, with Asiasi an option.

If this is indeed a package Michigan is hoping that Asiasi is the guy driving the bus here, as Michigan is school on his list most likely to let him play tight end for the duration of his career. At this point all of the finalists seem like they're in play.

[After THE JUMP: nothing at all has changed with Rashan Gary but you are still going to click through to confirm this]