Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Jim McElwain

Spring Practice Presser 4-16-18: Jim McElwain

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on April 17th, 2018 at 4:00 PM

mcelwain

[image via Maize & Blue News]

[Ed. A—Thanks to Orion Sang and The Michigan Daily crew for passing along audio]

This is kind of interesting for us.

“Is it?”

Just last year we were on the other side—

“Oh, that’s right, on the other—”

How’s it been for you?

“Uh, this has been just a great opportunity and coach Harbaugh has been a guy that obviously I’ve followed for a long time, and the opportunity to come and learn from him and kind of see how someone else kind of does it and puts it together, it’s really been a lot of fun.”

Can you take us through how he contacted you, and how long did it take you to jump on this offer?

“Well, kind of, maybe, I don’t know if he got the wrong number and I answered. You know, I don’t really know how it came about but we got a phone call and was obviously very excited to come and, if nothing else, just getting an opportunity to kind of stand in the background and see how something’s operated, and that’s what’s been really good. He extended the offer and I was really excited about that. My wife and I are really excited about being in Ann Arbor.”

Taking over the wide receiver group, what was the first thing you wanted to teach this group of wide receivers?

“Well, I think there obviously is a lot of talent there, and good, young talent. The thing I really enjoy is being in that room with them. They’re really good people, good young men.

“For us, one of the focus areas has been ability to, number one, get open, especially against all the press coverage that you see. They’ve really worked on honing their skills and trying to do what we’re trying to teach them to do, and yet we’ve got a long ways to go, but at the same time it’s really a fun group of guys and it’s great to be around them.”

[After THE JUMP: Curr Dogg, SEC speed, and how the basketball team could fuel the WR group’s success]

This Week’s Obsession: If There Was a Spring Game Part I: Offense

This Week’s Obsession: If There Was a Spring Game Part I: Offense

Submitted by Seth on April 12th, 2018 at 3:34 PM

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shoulda done it today [Patrick Barron]

THIS ARTICLE HAS A SPONSOR: It’s Nick Hopwood, our MGoFinancial Planner from Peak Wealth Management. If you’re at that point in your life where your blog actually makes enough money that you can think about how you pay for your kids’ colleges, and what you should be doing for your retirement, and what kind of investment strategy meets your level of risk, it’s really high time you set up that conversation . Also being proactive about this earns you major spousal points that can be spent later on attending Michigan games.

Legal disclosure in tiny font: Calling Nick our official financial planner is not intended as financial advice; Nick is an advertiser who financially supports MGoBlog. MGoBlog is not responsible for any advice or other communication provided to an investor by any financial advisor, and makes no representations or warranties as to the suitability of any particular financial advisor and/or investment for a specific investor.

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

The Question:

Things we would have wanted to see if there was a spring game but there isn't so let's all imagine

image
Imagine a version of McCaffrey that had soft tissue on it. [Chris Cook]

QUARTERBACK

Ace: Competency!

More specifically, Shea Patterson making some big plays, especially outside the pocket, and Peters/McCaffrey making fewer derpy mistakes.

Seth: I was really looking forward to seeing Shea Patterson doing things that fit the meter of Weapon of Choice.

Ace: …but going to class.

BiSB: I wanted to see Joe Milton throw a ball over those mountains.

Ace: His warmups would be a show. The game itself: possibly a different kind of show.

BiSB: But seriously, it would have been a first look at Milton, nearly a first look at McCaffrey, and a first Harbaugh Offense look at Patterson. There would have been a lot of mental YMRMFSPA recalibration based on this game.

Seth: The reports are all about Shea doing crazy athletic things. His first practice there was supposedly a 75-yard touchdown run that involved a footrace with Metellus, who is definitively not slow. And yeah, we still haven't seen McCaffrey, who's apparently thicc enough now that gravity has a fair shot against a strong gust of wind. I also was planning on watching to see which coach is talking to them between plays.

Ace: I assume Shea is doing a lot of stuff outside the offense because he doesn’t know the system that well yet, but that also could be critical based on… certain other position groups.

Seth: Yes might as well skip past position groups and go right to...

[after THE JUMP: hope?]

Preview 2017: Wide Receiver

Preview 2017: Wide Receiver

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2017 at 11:38 AM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back.

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gert orf me[Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart


WR Yr. WR Yr. SLOT Yr. SPREAD H Yr.
Kekoa Crawford So. Tarik Black Fr. Grant Perry Jr. Chris Evans So.
Oliver Martin Fr. Donovan Peoples-Jones Fr. Eddie McDoom So. Eddie McDoom So.
Nico Collins Fr. Moe Ways Jr.* Nate Schoenle Fr.* Ty Isaac Sr.*

They're gone, all gone. Michigan loses every receiver on the roster with more than 13 catches a year ago (Grant Perry). A couple of disastrous Hoke recruiting classes mean the chasm from the departed to the new generation is almost as large as theoretically possible. And Freshman Wide Receivers Suck™. Should Wilton Speight be shivering under his blanket at night?

Maybe. But maybe not:

pasted_image_at_2015_08_28_12_09_am

by the year 2047 this jpg will be replaced by preprogrammed electronic disco[Seth]

Wait wait wait that's not what I meant to copy and paste at all.

Ahem. BUT MAYBE NOT:

Last year at this time you talked a lot about Chris Evans being an emerging player. Are there any players in that vein that have impressed so far?

HARBAUGH: “Did I? This time last year I said Chris Evans? [/pulls a Kip from Napoleon Dynamite] I was right.

“Alright, I’ll give you a couple. The receivers are doing really well. DPJ and Oliver Martin and Tarik Black are making a lot of plays. They really are. They’re making some superb athletic types of plays. I’ve never seen freshmen doing it the way they’re doing it."

247 is reporting that Michigan's freshman quartet has been excellent and that a source says the WR spot is "in better shape than it has maybe ever been in." Maybe not all freshman wide receivers suck. Also there's a sophomore.

OUTSIDE RECEIVER: YOUNG, THE GIANTS

RATING: 3.5.

30814442105_f0074ae80f_z (1)

please don't forget the guy wearing #1 [Patrick Barron]

With the departure of Chesson and Darboh and Drake Harris's flip to defense Michigan returns all of nine career catches on the outside. Those are about evenly split between KEKOA CRAWFORD [recruiting profile] and Moe Ways, but only one of those gents is currently projected to start: Crawford.

As is usual for freshman wide receivers, Crawford's first year was mostly spent blocking guys. He had one bad drop early and one circus catch late…

…and thus ends data about his actual receivering. He did make a catch on a dig against Hawaii and a couple others, but they were routine opportunities that can only give you pause if they were dropped; they weren't.

The blocking was an immediate plus. He came in with a reputation in that department and upheld it:

He stood guys up, sought out defensive backs deep downfield, and on one memorable snap blocked a guy until he left a 20-yard furrow in the Spartan Stadium field:

He looks like a worthy heir to Darboh and Chesson in that department, at least.

With insiders orbiting the freshmen like sharks circling a school of fish, there's been next to no insider talk about Crawford this fall. I did pick up this bit in spring:

Kekoa Crawford lacks DPJ's explosiveness—as do most humans—and looks about like he did when he got on the field this year: very good blocker, big target, good routes. Strong belief he can be a quality #2 receiver this year, and an okay #1 if necessary.

Webb called him a "reliable chain mover" and "really physical," and there are occasionally asides after various freshman raptures that oh yeah, Crawford is going to start. It says something that the Black rapture alternates with the DPJ rapture and Crawford's just hangin' out during both, starting:

Earlier in the week we talked about the big play antics of freshman Tarik Black. Late in the week it’s Donovan Peoples-Jones. … he stood out the most in first-WR-group that consisted of DPJ, Kekoa Crawford, and Eddie McDoom.

If Crawford is feeling rather overlooked, fair enough. He was an Army AA himself, a high four-star guy ranked in a tight band just outside of everyone's top 100. He's not chopped liver. From his recruiting profile:

  • electric in and out of breaks. …quickness to separate …brings a lot to the table after the catch as an elusive player with good moves.
  • very competitive speed and slippery elusiveness… knows how to use his feet, hips and burst to gain separation. … athletic and precise and has a good feel for the game.
  • …does everything well. …solid frame and is much stronger than he looks. …nice burst, is a polished route runner and has good top end speed. …

He's already gotten some run and is holding his own athletically in college. Crawford won a couple of winter combine events and finished a close second to Donovan Peoples-Jones in a few more; the most notable results were a 4.49 40 and 35 inch vertical. That is in line with his top-ten SPARQ score from the Opening during his senior year. Crawford consistently tests in the NFL B+/A- range, and that'll be more than enough in college.

There's about to be several butt-tons of freshman hype in this post, but don't be surprised if Crawford emerges from this season as Michigan's leading receiver. Long term you're hoping he settles into the Avant sidekick role to one world-obliterating type; this year he should be the outside guy who is most reliably in the correct spot. If this sounds unimpressive, please review this site's abiding love for Avant.

[AFTER THE JUMP: seeking one freshman dude, maybe two]

Fall Camp Presser 8-11-17: Jim Harbaugh

Fall Camp Presser 8-11-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 12th, 2017 at 9:56 AM

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[Upchurch]

How’s practice been so far?

“Good. It’s been good. We had a good day. Our guys had more energy and were moving around better; [they] had a bounce in their step. This’ll be a big weekend. This is—guys are going to get done with training, get into playing positions. It’s a big weekend for it because we start making those two-deep rosters soon. Train’s already left the station and it’s picking up steam.”

Are you going to give us those two-deeps?

“Uh…no, I didn’t say that.”

You said 8-15 practices for the quarterbacks to--

“Still early.”

Has anybody stepped up? Is it still a three-horse race or a two-horse race?

“Yeah, John [O’Korn] and Wilton [Speight] have really stepped up. I think they’ve created a little bit of separation and they’re battling now. It’s going one with the ones and the next day the other’s with the ones and the other’s with the twos. We’re keeping a very close eye on it and it’s progressing well.”

Pep said the other day that one of the things he really likes [QBs to have] is command of the offense. As a former quarterback, what does that mean to you when somebody says they have command of the offense?

“Well, it’s just a process of knowing where all your players are and figuring out what the defense is trying to do to you or take away or give you or where they’re more vulnerable, being able to move the team in and out of the huddle, and make reminders is always another one.

“If a guy has good command of the offense he’ll be able to give other guys reminders, the running back or the fullback or a wide receiver or a tight end. He’s got it on the tip of his tongue and he just knows it cold; that’s having command of the offense.”

Is that the kind of thing that Brandon [Peters] has to do to get back to the same level as John and Wilton?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s just a process for him. He’s competing hard and doing good. Not to say that it’s set in stone right now. I think that the two guys have really created a little bit of separation.”

[After THE JUMP: right side of the line, the unblockables, young guys likely to contribute, and more]

2017 Recruiting: Oliver Martin

2017 Recruiting: Oliver Martin

Submitted by Brian on July 31st, 2017 at 4:23 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain, DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea, DT James Hudson, DT Aubrey Solomon, C Cesar Ruiz, OT JaRaymond Hall, OT Joel Honigford, OT Andrew Stueber, OT Chuck Filiaga.

Iowa City, IA – 6'1", 190

6_4664456

Scout 4*, #216 overall
#31 WR
Rivals 4*, #206 overall
#35 WR, #1 IA
ESPN 4*, NR overall
#60 WR, #3 IA
24/7 4*, #47 overall
#7 WR, #1 IA
Other Suitors ND, MSU, Iowa, UO, OSU, UF
YMRMFSPA Austin Carr
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Junior:

Opening one on one reps at :12, 3:03, and 4:11:

 

Senior:

One of the great Michigan traditions is yoinking every four star wide receiver out of Iowa, and in that Oliver Martin follows in the footsteps of Amara Darboh and Adrian Arrington. Unlike those two, he burst out of nowhere to do so. Martin was one of those guys without a picture on his profile when he showed up at an Opening regional, won the receiver MVP, and impressed the coaches there enough to get an invite to the big show. This was the state of his recruitment at the time:

In a wide receiver group with more high profile guys, Martin earned MVP with his excellent route-running and sure hands. Toledo, CMU, WMU and EMU have offered.

Things changed a bit afterwards.

Martin started picking up midlevel Power 5 offers in the interim and then heavy hitters came in when he lit some dudes up at the Opening itself. Michigan offered during the event more or less because Dylan McCaffrey and friends insisted on it:

This isn’t a kid that the Wolverines were heavily involved with before The Opening, but they are now. Thanks to some not-so subtle suggestions from the Michigan commits at The Opening, the Maize & Blue offered Martin a scholarship Sunday night.

His Hypercool teammates weren't the only folks to have their socks knocked off by the lanky kid out of Iowa. I summon the bulleted list to explain:

  • Allen Trieu, Scout: "great route runner with sure hands … consistently made catches in traffic … attention to detail and technical route-running separated him in the eyes of coaches." Also: "some of the surest hands in the Midwest."
  • 24/7: "so smooth and effortless as a  route-runner … great hands .. extremely strong. A quarterback's best friend."
  • Sam Webb, Scout: "just gets open … works the slot with the precision of a New England Patriot…combination of size, speed, quickness, and route running from the slot was tough to stop. …picture Grant Perry, but bigger, stronger, faster, and with more shake."
  • Trey Scott, 24/7: "…simply one of the best players in the entire 7on7 Tournament. … burned guys across the middle, down the field and toward the sidelines on corner routes. … just one drop, but he’s not merely a possession receiver. He made people miss, too … By the end of the weekend, he was the talk of the camp.
  • Matt Prehm, 24/7: "smooth route runner … constantly in the right place at the right time."
  • Tom Loy, 24/7: "…one of the day's true pleasant surprises. … snagged double-digit catches on the day including multiple first downs, a 15-yard touchdown on a corner route, and he shook five-star linebacker Dylan Moses on a quick pass." Also: "…fantastic performances in 7-on-7 play. … one of the top receivers in the country … superb route runner with excellent hands."
  • Barton Simmons, 24/7: "…one of the best receivers in this entire class. He was the steadiest pass catcher of the event. … He's a freaky athlete with a crazy ceiling."

24/7 named him to their dream team and declared him "one of the elite receivers nationally," which they backed up with their steadily-escalating ranking that ended up inside the top 50.

Martin developed a reputation as a technician over the course of his recruitment. So much so that I don't think I've ever seen a wideout evaluation anything like those that follow. Scout's 1,000 foot view:

Very skilled, technical wideout. Excellent route runner with great hands and ability to make catches in traffic. Smart and understands how to get open. Very good athlete with good quickness, leaping ability and body control. Competitive, hard working kid.

ESPN:

…good height and strength … more of a speed builder, not darter. … precise and sharp. Comes off the line with purpose and has an imposing, strong stride to get people to back off him. … some shake to avoid press at the line. … bit rough around the edges on speed cuts and sharp angles. … big, strong hands and can shield defenders from the ball. … reach and strength to pull the ball away from coverage … physically gifted player …very steady and reliable both in the slot and on the outside.

Rivals Oregon reporter Scott Reed:

… very good understanding of route running, setting up defenders, breaking off his route, and coming back to the ball. … variety of release techniques … very sharp on his cuts … very adept at using his hands to grab the ball rather than let the ball come to him and … very good functional speed on film. He frequently pulls away from defenders when he gets into open field and understands angles very well.

Barton Simmons:

“He’s just really crafty in the way he’s able to maneuver his body and track the football. He makes every catch look really easy. He’s also extremely athletic and can get open in a lot of different ways, whether it’s beating you on a route or outrunning you.”

Even the only note amongst dozens that has anything resembling a criticism is largely overwhelmed by "dang":

"Martin can have some issues getting separation when his top end route technique isn’t crisp and when matched up against more athletic defenders, but his route running skills are quite good and will only get better. His ball skills are top notch and he shows good body control, which allows him to make contested catches even when covered tightly. Martin has good vision with the ball in his hands, he can go up and out-play defenders for the ball and he’s a tough kid."

24/7's breakdown of his skills have him rare 10s in "hands" and "ball skills" and a 9 for route running. Evaluations almost always says something like he "just gets open" or he's "as natural a receiver as anyone in the class" or he "always manages to get open," etc. This is usually just before or after "catches everything," "you can't even hear the ball touch his hands," and so forth and so on.

I watched that whole dang set of one on one reps from the Opening and while there are only three from Martin they leap off the tape because he's running actual routes. Most of these guys are running playground stuff guaranteed to get your QB sacked: false steps at the start, double triple quadruple moves, routes that leave the QB baffled as to where he should throw the ball. Martin's reps see him torch guys on corner and slant routes; on the third he hitches up and then drifts away from a guy in good position to make the catch anyway. There is not a wasted step. This is a guy who means business.

Serious business. His coach:

“He’s a very humble player. He’ll never advertise himself. He just goes about his business working incredibly hard. He’s the most athletic and most talented kid I’ve ever coached and most humble hard working kid. What I see is a kid that’s fundamentally as polished as any kid I’ve seen in high school and that’s a credit to him. He works outside of our practice time and training time on his own religiously. His play does the talking."

His skill set alone is impressive for a guy with the athletic ability to run away from just about anyone in his home state. Add in the fact that he was a D-I baseball prospect with Big Ten offers and a college-level swimmer and it gets downright baffling. How can the most polished receiver in the country be a three-sport athlete from Iowa? Either he does not need sleep or he does not need leisure time.

Martin isn't Donovan Peoples-Jones but neither is he (just) a gritty heady gamer. His physical testing at the Opening regional was excellent, with an overall SPARQ of 112 thanks to a 4.6 40, 4.1 shuttle, and 38 inch vert. He'd run in the 4.5 range at the Opening itself and increase his vert to 42 inches, upping his SPARQ to 133. That was 12th nationally, second amongst WRs. DPJ topped out at 149 (as a junior, which is why he's a five star).

Evaluations consistently mention his ability to run by you. In addition to the above, "fine athlete with quicks and leaping ability"; "very explosive and very fast … can run strong, vertical routes"; "outstanding athleticism." At some point during Martin's career—possibly all points—a man on television will credit his success to the fact that he's a gym rat film maven. This will be correct, and also incorrect. Martin isn't a 4.3 guy, but that's about the only criticism you can level.

Despite the basically recruitment-cycle-long surge, Martin still seems underrated. The last piece of the puzzle is on-field production, and Martin had that in spades:         

…caught 85 passes for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns this past season, leading the Trojans to a 10-3 record and the Class 4A state final. Martin also averaged 26.1 yards per kickoff return and 18.8 yards per punt return.

As a junior he had 72 catches for 1200 yards.

And yet only 24/7 is over the moon about him. I get why. Martin played in Iowa and had no profile before his breakout. ESPN executed a fire and forget after the Opening, and Rivals skipped that camp, only cottoning on at the Army game. He is technical, athletic, good sized, and productive. He did all this without an exclusive focus on football. I don't know what more you want from a prospect inside the top 100, and side with the 24/7 ranking and expectations:

Wherever Martin goes, he's going to be one of the most productive players in that school's history. That's how highly I think of Martin and his skillset.

In the history of these posts Martin is the highest floor WR prospect. And he's got a high ceiling.

Etc.: Got divorced from Halle Berry recently. Sister just missed the Olympic team as a swimmer. Namesake of a very large gold nugget. Got Harbaugh to jump in a pool fully clothed. Teaches you how to do a Katana. Also provided an opportunity for Harbaugh to reconnect with… the guy who hit him with a car when he was six?

Half these things are true!

Why Austin Carr? The Northwestern wide receiver broke out as a jumbo slot last year with a whopping 90 catches. He's a y-cross merchant who has the quicks and route precision to play in the slot but at 6'1", like Martin, he's still a reasonably sized downfield target with sticky hands. He signed with the—yep—Patriots, where he's impressing. NFL.com:

"Touch it, catch it" target. Able to make the combat catches in traffic. … Uses good positioning and leverage in his routes. Finds optimal space in zones when working underneath. … big slot receiver who is best left to working on the first and second levels in routes that are more fluid and less angular.

Martin is a much bigger deal than the former walk-on and brings a lot more athleticism to the table. Both guys are slots who can get after safeties and linebackers downfield, not screen merchants.

As Webb mentioned above, route artisan Grant Perry is another comparable. A third: Drew Dileo after getting bitten by a radioactive spider. He's like all these guys, but fast! A fast version of these guys: former OSU WR Anthony Gonzalez, who was a bigger slot who found a home in the first round of the NFL draft.

Guru Reliability: High-minus. Martin showed out at both the Opening and the Army game and gets universally consistent scouting reports. Big spread from top 50 player to generic four star.

Variance: Very low. If Martin stays healthy he will be a productive contributor. He has the size, speed, and route chops already.

Ceiling: Very high. Martin isn't enormous and he's not DPJ but he's an A+ technical WR with an A- physical package. 

General Excitement Level: Very high. Martin is going to be excellent, the end. 

Projection: Figuring out what will happen with the receivers this year is difficult. Black and DPJ enrolled early and were extremely impressive. Martin is the most polished guy in the country and should be instantly useful. Collins should be a redzone weapon immediately. All could play, but I'd imagine you want at least one redshirt just to space things out a little.

You could make an argument for Martin being the redshirt because there appears to be a ton ahead of him at slot, his most natural position: Grant Perry, Eddie McDoom, Nate Johnson, and Nate Schoenle are all available and (sort of) experienced. You could make an argument that he should play because Michigan needs to roll all the available dice to see which guys hit in a year when they have next to no production returning.

Martin likely plays early, and on the outside given that slot depth. Michigan does not yet have a set two deep at outside WR and there will be room for a fourth guy to contribute. My money is on Martin over the veteran challengers. Also don't sleep on him as a punt returner.

This Week’s Obsession: The 2017 Redshirt Roundtable

This Week’s Obsession: The 2017 Redshirt Roundtable

Submitted by Seth on June 14th, 2017 at 4:04 PM

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[Bryan Fuller]

The Question:

Who’s gonna redshirt?

The Responses:

Brian: We should get the obvious redshirts out of the way: McCaffrey, Taylor, Paea, Honigford, Hall, Paye, Hawkins, and probably St-Juste, I think?

Seth: I figured we'd go down the positions. QB is obvious. Running backs?

Brian: We should just set aside the obvious play and obvious sits and talk about the rest. Obvious plays are Black, DPJ, Solomon, Hudson, Woods, JKP.

Ace: Vilain.

Seth: Ambry?

Ace: Not so sure on Ambry. He’s a twig.

Seth: So is JKP but I'm looking at a depth chart.

Brian: Watson and Washington exist.

Adam: JKP is not a twig in the same way as Ambry. I think Ambry sees the field in a "break glass in case of emergency" scenario.

Brian: We're doing the post before the post.

Ace: I think this is the post.

Brian: Oh.

Seth: We're in the post...right now.

giphy

This is now, now.

Ace: Was there anyone worth debating in my obvious sits list?

Brian: No.

[After THE JUMP: When will then be now?]

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Future Blue Derivatives: Oliver Martin

Future Blue Derivatives: Oliver Martin

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on January 31st, 2017 at 10:00 AM

oliver martin

[Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette]

The sinuous path of Oliver Martin’s recruitment has reached its end with Martin’s Michigan pledge last evening. Martin seemed like he might commit to Michigan at any time this past fall; after appearing to be a Notre Dame lean, 247’s Crystal Ball moved in favor of Michigan before moving back to Notre Dame and finally ending solidly in favor of Michigan. Crootin! With all the buzz around his name, I decided to look for a full game to scout. Thanks to Friday Night Lights’ youtube account, we’re able to take a look at the 4A state title game.

It’s still better to have a full game than a highlight tape to scout, but there are times—as happened here—where there are extenuating circumstances that limit a player’s productivity. Dowling bracketed Martin all game, and it wasn’t until late in the second half that West would try to duplicate the one successful target they had in the second quarter by having Martin run deep ins. On top of that, Dowling’s pass rush was too much for West HS; their QB often found himself scrambling away from one or two un/partially-blocked defenders and flipping the ball to a nearby safety valve. Even so, there were impressive parts of Martin’s game worth noting.

[Note: Martin’s typically lined up at the bottom of the screen. The easiest way to spot him, though, is to find the guy in the knee-high white socks.]

[Hit THE JUMP for Martin’s scouting report]

Hello: Oliver Martin

Hello: Oliver Martin

Submitted by Ace on January 30th, 2017 at 9:46 PM


[Brian Perroni/247Sports]

Michigan reeled in one of their top remaining targets when four-star Iowa City (IA) West WR Oliver Martin announced his commitment on 247Sports, going public with a decision he'd already made.

Iowa City (Iowa) West Top247 receiver Oliver Martin was soaking wet.

Having just committed to Michigan, the U.S. Army All-American receiver along with Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh and assistant Pep Hamilton jumped in the pool with their clothes on to celebrate.

Martin’s little sister Ruby, a world-class swimmer was in the pool getting her workout in as family surrounded the four-star recruit as he made the decision to play for the Maize and Blue.

Martin choose the Wolverines over Michigan State and Notre Dame, among many others.

The Spartans were, in fact, Martin's first major offer, getting in on him before he blew up at The Opening finals. Martin appeared destined to go to Michigan once they offered and began serious pursuit, then looked headed to South Bend when it appeared Nico Collins would take the last WR spot. Michigan rekindled interest as Collins looked more likely to stay in the South. At one point recently, 247's Steve Lorenz reported the coaching staffs at Michigan, MSU, and ND all believed they would land Martin. In-state Iowa was hanging around. Ohio State briefly emerged as a threat after Tyjon Lindsay's decommitment but Martin never made his planned official visit there.

After visits from Jim Harbaugh, the guy who once hit Jim Harbaugh with a mail truck, and Pep Hamilton, as well as a final trip to Ann Arbor, Martin decided to join the 2017 class. He's the 27th commit in the class and the fourth at receiver, joining Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Brad Hawkins. With the way his recruitment is trending, Michigan may very well add Collins to that number, too. They haven't had a better group of receivers in one class in recent memory.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #30 WR,
#216 Ovr
4*, #35 WR,
#206 Ovr
4*, 80, #60 WR 4*, 97, #7 WR,
#47 Ovr
4*, #28 WR,
#170 Ovr

Martin was a relative unknown on the recruiting trail until a breakout performance at The Opening last summer, which took him from a three-star to a nationally ranked prospect in most places. Scout and Rivals settled on ranking him ~200th overall and there's an outlier on each side. ESPN has him as a four-star but well outside their top 300 (the last WR to make the cut is 41st in the position rankings), while 247 shot him into the top 100 after The Opening and moved him up again after the Army Bowl.

Martin is listed at 6'1" (or 6'0.5" in 247's case) and 185-192 pounds on all four sites. While he's generally regarded as a slot, he could play inside or outside in college.

[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, impact on the class, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Is Just Two Days Away

Monday Recruitin' Is Just Two Days Away

Submitted by Brian on January 30th, 2017 at 1:34 PM

The board is narrow and looks set to stay that way. Let's get to it.

Oliver Martin: In The Boat?

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4* IA WR Oliver Martin did make his official to Ann Arbor. That knocks out a host of schools trying to get in last minute and restricts available options to the places he's been. It also probably means he's in the boat. Wiltfong is at the point where he would be "shocked" if it wasn't Michigan; Lorenz says it would be a "significant surprise"; Webb issued a gut feeling.

Most likely scenario: Martin is already committed and just waiting to announce. Silent verbals and all that, sure, but two days before Signing Day I like Michigan's chances to make that stand up.

Nico Collins: Uh, Same?

My operative theory on the way wide receiver recruiting went this year was: they wanted four. They had three guys who were committed, two silently, after Brad Hawkins re-emerged. They held a spot for Donovan Peoples-Jones no matter what. Thus those couple months where it looked like Martin would head to Notre Dame. Once noise about AL WR Nico Collins and Georgia started up, Michigan re-engaged Martin to get back to four.

Soooo then about this:

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Those are the main 24/7 Georgia writers pegging Collins to Michigan after an official to Athens on the last available weekend of the cycle. As far as crystal balls go that's pretty definitive: bad-news picks from plugged in folks late in the game are almost certainly on point. Mansell's explanation is pretty wishy-washy, unfortunately:

truthfully this is starting to feel that ends up somewhere else. That guess from me right now would be Michigan.

Nonetheless a flood of Michigan picks has triggered, including Wiltfong. Collins hasn't said much about his recruitment in forever, so it appears that nobody will be getting clarity until he announces on NSD. Wiltfong related that the Georgia crystal ball run was initiated by Collins's coach at Chalkville telling people that Georgia had surged when everyone was in San Antonio for the Army game; nobody appears to have talked to Collins himself.

That may be the crux of the swings here, with people around Collins saying things that don't actually reflect his mindset. Brown quotes a source:

"We are beginning to hear that the Georgia staff doesn't think they're going to land him," our source said. "I don't really know what happened but he looked miserable at the basketball game this weekend."

It was always odd that Collins, who had taken not just an official but three(!) unofficials despite living in Alabama, would be genuinely in play. Maybe he never was, but there were reasons to pretend like there were? Only thing that makes sense at this juncture.

Side note: What's the deal with five receivers? Michigan has the space, with 26 current commits and a class that can get up to 31 or 32 per reports earlier in the year. They're seriously chasing just six guys, all of whom get section headers in this post. A clean sweep of the five guys not named Collins is extremely unlikely, so the question is "do you want a 6'5" WR with offers from Alabama and Georgia or air?" That's not tough to answer.

[Update: Sam's latest update says Michigan has four slots left, but "could push it to five." A sweep of the offered guys other than Tufele would apparently shut Melifonwu out.]

Aubrey Solomon: status quo is good

Signs still point to Michigan for 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. Michigan fans are in a state of panicky anticipation about his recruitment—and to be fair it is that kind of recruitment—so occasionally someone must hold the fanbase's collective hand and reassure them. Sam did that last night, saying the word from down south was "still Michigan." He won't put the ol' gut feel on it because it's that kind of recruitment; it sounds like he's got a ton pointing the right way here.

Wiltfong's in much the same boat, telling the Michigan 247 board that Solomon's "always loved Michigan" and that he continues to hear Michigan is where he's leaning; Alabama and USC lurk. Georgia appears to be out. Brandon Brown reports that word out of Lee County was still M as of a couple days ago.

Willie Gay: status quo is not good, sayin' there's a chance

LSU remains the tentative favorite for 4.5* MS LB Willie Gay. Wiltfong currently has Michigan in third; Sam did clarify that a "VERY" well-placed source asserts that Michigan is #2 to Willie. The Compromise Pick scenario is thus in play since this is believed to be the situation:

PREFERENCES OF GAY'S MOTHER

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Michigan
  3. LSU

PREFERENCES OF GAY

  1. LSU
  2. Michigan
  3. Mississippi State

That's obviously a long shot. I would get your fists ready to shake at the Mississippi black hole.

FWIW, LSU's recent flip of 4* TN LB Jacob Phillips from Oklahoma is one that should help, not hurt, LSU. Phillips and Gay were on campus at the same time and reportedly hit it off; Phillips is 6'4" and 230 and projects to MLB. Gay is emphatically an OLB.

Mekhi Becton: cumong man look at the depth chart

Conflicting signals on 3.5* VA OL Mekhi Becton. Scout's Michael B Clark reported that Michigan had "gained momentum" after their in-home, which focused heavily on the depth chart and chance to play early. Michigan has been recruiting Becton hardest per a proverbial source close to Becton; VT and Michigan are supposed to be his top two.

That's hopeful for a badly needed option at tackle. The rest of it not so much. Wiltfong hears that VT and Louisville are the top two; with that previous report from a Louisville commit that UL and Michigan were the top two, folks reporting on Becton have hit for the cycle.

Ifeatu Melifonwu: I think I can pronounce it now

MA S Ifeatu Melifonwu did not immediately flip from Syracuse after his official; in fact, Wiltfong reports that he returned to Syracuse this weekend. It's unclear whether Michigan has offered at this point or if they're waiting to see how things work out with the non-weird guys on the board.

Either way, Melifonwu has decided to do a hat thing on NSD:

It's odd, but Melifonwu is a guy I'd really like Michigan to add. They don't have a lot of safeties, is brother is headed for the early rounds of the NFL draft, and Don Brown is familiar with the area and the family. I'd be more bummed about missing out on him than one of the WRs despite the WRs being highly touted folks.

Etc.

MI DT commit  Deron Irving-Bey profiled and hoo man:

Sitting in Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio’s office a year ago, Deron Irving-Bey couldn’t hold it back.

It seemed like the seminal moment in his journey.

“He surprised me with it,” Irving-Bey said of MSU’s scholarship offer. “We were on a little academic tour. He called me in his office and said he was going to offer me. That’s when I just started crying. I always thought I would have to go to a JUCO because I never thought I was good enough for that.

“Just the thought of Michigan State, one of the top colleges, I’m like, ‘This is a dream come true.’ ”

Been a rough crootin' year for our friends in East Lansing. Did you hear the one about the guy they flipped from Temple who took under a week to be like "nah, I'm going to Rutgers"?

Michigan is "heavily" pursuing FL OL/mountain Daniel Faalele, which is what I like to hear.

Walk-on commitments are beginning to roll in. Amongst them are former Air Force commit Sean Fitzgerald, an instate OG/DT with respectable size already. A college coach told Trieu that he "will play there at some point." Michigan also flipped Columbia commit Jack Young, a safety out of Pennsylvania. MI LB Adam Fakih announced a commit, as did FL TE Chris Hanlon.

FWIW, former Michigan TE commit Jack Carter Dunaway landed at Princeton.

Friday Recruiting Is Set To Spring

Friday Recruiting Is Set To Spring

Submitted by Brian on January 27th, 2017 at 12:46 PM

Solomon has decided, has not announced

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Chad Simmons talks to GA DT Aubrey Solomon:

"I feel like I have found out where I am going," Solomon said.  "It came to me on Wednesday.  I just prayed about it the night before and when I woke up, the answer came to me."

Football and graduation rate are the two things Solomon cited in his decision, and things are holding steady with the expectation it will be Michigan. The Georgia 24/7 guys still think it is Michigan:

Just talking to a few sources in the last 48 hours, I continue to feel like Aubrey Solomon is going to Michigan. Just too much smoke there. Alabama I feel like is 2nd from talking to most down South.

Brandon Brown reports that a source "very close" with the Leesville program says he is "all blue"; Lorenz says confidence remains high on Michigan's end.

Martin visiting this weekend

Michigan's renewed fervor in its pursuit of IA WR Oliver Martin appears to be paying off:

That report was confirmed by Allen Trieu and a local reporter, who noted that last week's supposed official to OSU basically never existed:

Martin returning to Michigan, a school he's already been to, instead of heading to one of his other suitors, speaks volumes about his recruitment. We've flipped our crystal ball back to Michigan in response.

Gay still somewhat up in the air

Sam caught up with MS LB Willie Gay's mother and talked about it on WTKA this morning. A reader paraphrases:

Long story short, it sounds like Willie Gay's favorite school is LSU at the moment. However, to say Mom would be disappointed in that choice is a bit of an understatement. The way Sam puts it makes it sound like basically LSU is not an option in HER opinion. Willie could still choose LSU obviously, but if her opinion has even a small bearing on his decision, then LSU better do something to sway her opinion.

Sam doesn't think Michigan is the favorite here; the most realistic scenario that sees Gay end up in AA is mom nixing LSU and Gay liking Michigan more than Mississippi State.

Sam has a couple of pieces on Scout with more detail:

My feel for this is Mississippi State is Mom's first choice followed by Michigan.  I think Willie is leaning to LSU and that she is really against it. I don't know who Willie likes more between Mississippi State and Michigan.

There's a window that Michigan can hit here but it looks like a small one. Lorenz reports that Gay will be a "tough pull" at this point.

Weird guy watch

MA S Ifeatu Melifonwu did make it to campus per Sam, and the odds that he'll get his offer are "really good"; a flip is naturally anticipated.

Other than that, all the various weird names have faded. Michigan look set to swing on their top targets and move on with a 27-29 man class unless they roll a critical hit. Lorenz did mention that Michigan is poking around OH P Brad Robbins, a Nevada commit. Robbins is "strongly considering" a visit the weekend after Signing Day; at that point Michigan will know if they have a scholarship spot or not. Survey says: very probably.

Guys like Dennis Norfleet do come out of the woodwork late. If there's a gentleman like that lurking about he's probably a low-to-mid three star instate kid like MI S Allen Stritzinger, who is also committed to Syracuse.

I may have to redefine Kaiju

2018 FL by way of Australia OL Daniel Faalele is turning heads at IMG because he is an absurd person.

He stands 6-foot-9, weighs 394 pounds and possesses a rare combination of power and speed. He is of Tongan and Samoan ethnicity and was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. He's 17 years old and wears size 18 shoes.

You may remember Michigan heading out to Australia last year for a satellite camp at which Faalele was the main attraction; Michigan offered a few months ago. That followed a half-dozen teams who did so despite the fact that Faalele has never taken a snap in anger. He's scheduled to do so this fall for IMG, and you should prepare yourself for a torrent of hype:

Wright recalls one memorable play when Faalele was responsible for trapping 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end Josh Kaindoh, a five-star recruit bound for Florida State, at the line of scrimmage. Faalele delivered a hit that sent Kaindoh airborne, and although Faalele sheepishly denied trying to do it intentionally, Wright isn't so sure.

"I stopped and thought, 'Did that really happen?' " Wright said. "Then I got in the huddle and said, 'Daniel, did you aim to do that, or did you just run into him?' Daniel said, 'Coach, what was I supposed to do?' I said, 'You were supposed to hit him.' He goes, 'That's what I did!' "

Michigan's obviously got an in here. Fingers crossed, because I need to see this kid next to Xavier Simpson.

Etc.

GA WR Nico Collins will take an official to Georgia this weekend; things continue to trend away in that recruitment. If Michigan does lock down Martin it's a wash.

Both GA RB Kurt Taylor and NM RB O'Maury Samuels reaffirmed commitments to Michigan. Taylor had said he would visit MSU; Samuels was still considering Arizona. With those two shutting their recruitments down, all of Michigan's commits are solid heading into the final visit weekend.

This isn't a surprise at this point but Sam says Michigan's pursuit of UT DT Jay Tufele is likely fruitless, with USC surging late and Utah though to be in front of the two Big Ten schools.

Michigan picked up MI LB/FB Tyler Plocki as a PWO. Michigan is bringing in a pile of guys this weekend as they continue to focus on their walk-on program. May the Kovacs be with them.

If you'd like to dwell, CA RB Najee Harris explains how close he was to flipping to Michigan.

Michigan offers 2018 OH LB Dallas Gant, cousin of former Wolverine Allen. They'll get a visit, etc.

Matt Wenzel profiles MI WR enrollee Donovan Peoples-Jones.