Hello: Drew Dileo

Hello: Drew Dileo Comment Count

Brian April 30th, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Well… yeah, so this LA WR named Drew Dileo committed to us over… uh… Tulane, Stanford, and Rice. He plays in the slot so it's not like a totally crazy commitment. Informative update coming.

Informative update:


Drew Dileo

Scout Rivals ESPN
NR NR 75

Okay, so Dileo is a 5'9", 170 pound slot receiver from Louisiana. He's white.

Dandy Don, who must be taken seriously at all times about everything, ranks Dileo the states' 42nd best prospect. Tiger Rag is considerably more enthusiastic but wasn't exactly glowing:

19. Drew Dileo (5′9.5, 165, 4.5) Athlete Parkview Baptist HS - Dileo might not have as much bulk as some of the running backs in this class, but without question he has the heart. In 2007 he was selected as the MVP of the Class 3A championship game and in 2008 his role was not much different as he served as a running back, defensive back, and return specialist. Dileo’s size may be the only factor that keeps him from playing at the Division-1 level. However, there may be a team out there willing to give him a shot.

Heart: one gritty white guy descriptor ah ah ah.

ESPN's ranking is pretty meh but the writeup has some promise:

He is a good athlete with quickness and agility. … As a punt returner he fields the ball and accelerates while reading blocks on the run. Maintains balance even after being hit. Fights for every inch of return yardage and can make defenders miss in the open field. … Catches the ball easily in traffic and hauls in the pass even knowing he will be hit immediately after the reception. Can turn back across his body to make the difficult catches. As a slot, runs the counter and reverse to perfection. Hits and spins for extra yardage and is tough to bring down.

They end by suggesting he's "solid" and will be "sound" at any position he plays and "can be a very sure and productive player" and wow we're up to five gritty white guy descriptors (ah ah ah), four of which came in one sentence. Touch the Banner—which I have just discovered is run by frequent commenter Magnus—had a scouting report earlier in the year. In sum:

Dileo looks to be a low to mid 3-star player. He's a standout at a small school against weaker competition, but I question his ability to be fast enough or elusive enough to be a major contributor at the next level.

LSU message boards are also doubtful about his ability to play at a high D-I level, but he won the "fans choice" vote so we've got that going for us.

Coach quote:

"Any way we can get him in open space," Guillot said, "we're going to do it. He has great vision and is great at making people miss."

No white guy descriptors from the coach. Score for you, Mr. Guillot.


Well, he picked up an offer from Stanford after Michigan extended theirs. Given the way Harbaugh is recruiting these days that's a respectable letter to have. But… uh. Yeah. The local paper's commit article also claims a couple additional BCS offers:

Dileo chose the Wolverines with scholarship offers from Stanford, Virginia and Northwestern (Illinois) as well.

So not just Tulane and Rice. Not LSU and Miami, either.


Dileo was a jack of all trades for his team, rushing for 760 yards on 102 attempts (7.5 per) and catching 21 passes for 315 yards. Rivals doesn't have full return stats but they do have him averaging 42.2 yards on kick returns(!); he had four touchdowns in the return game..


4.5 is the number, which awesome NFL guys barely run at their combines. So probably not a guy who's other big offer was Stanford. I give it one FAKE out of three.


Highlights of last year's Louisiana 3A state championship game, of which Dileo was the MVP; he's #3:

Mmmm. Fumbles. Also: I think that reverse flea-flicker was in Super Tecmo Bowl.


Um. Well, this is not Kenny Shaw. Not to be a know-it-all but I'm not terribly enthused about Dileo's commitment. He's small, he's not ultra-productive or anything, and the other offers are teams Michigan should be recruiting on another level from with the possible exception of resurgent Stanford. Also, Fred Jackson's last obscure Louisiana wideout find was Laterryal Savoy, who Michigan took over Desean Jackson.


There are a lot of metrics that indicate Dileo isn't going to contribute. It's early in the year yet and maybe he'll have some sort of blowup senior year, but a guy like Dorrell Jalloh is probably Dileo's maximum upside.


They've got to be done at wideout, right? I mean: they've got five in the boat. Even if one—probably Jerald Robinson—is ticketed for the secondary, that's a lot of wide receivers in one class. I think they'd take one more slot if they really liked him, but that's unlikely.

As for the burgeoning class… well. One kid who has no major offers outside of Michigan is one thing. It's okay if the recruiting sites are enthusiastic about him, as they are with Robinson. But now we're up to like four (Kinard, DJ Williamson, Dileo, Tony Drake) players who don't have the offers or the rankings to suggest they're going to be anything more than serviceable if they work out. Trust the coaches and all that, yes, but at some point this goes beyond kids Michigan got on quick because they are awesome and just goes right to kids Michigan thinks they can get commits from after a 3-9 season.


Hello: Marvin Robinson

Hello: Marvin Robinson Comment Count

Brian April 17th, 2009 at 1:16 PM

At long last, FL S Marvin Robinson has committed to Michigan. Informative update coming.

Informative Update: That's right, kids: omg shirtless.



Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #14 S, #147 overall 4*, #99 overall 150 watch list

Marvin Robinson has been on Michigan fans' radar so long that people were worried the transition from Carr to Rodriguez would hurt Michigan's standing in his recruitment. His name first popped up after his freshman year of high school, when he attended Michigan's summer camp and was so ridiculously impressive he picked up an offer. Robinson was equally impressed with Michigan, naming M his leader early and late before finally announcing what he'd told the coaches at least as early as the Michigan State game last year: he's committed.

Michigan fans were ready to proclaim Robinson their big five-star catch whenever Robinson's commitment became official, but as you can see above… eh… not so much. Robinson's rankings were the most disappointing amongst a wide array of disappointments when they were announced. It's hard to see how he can go from this

On defense, there's no question after seeing Marvin Robinson of Eagle Lake (Fla.) Lake Region on Saturday and Sunday that he's going to be one of the best in the 2010 class. He made big play after big play in drills and then in one-on-one battles. He was the one guy who was consistently able to hang with both the physical and speedy backs in the camp.

…to this from another camp where he was a rising junior competing against seniors…

"Marvin Robinson has a lot of upside to him as far as his strength and motor," said defensive backs coach Eugene Jackson. "He was the best out there and he's very coachable."

Lining up at safety, Robinson asserted himself in one-on-ones and was one of the more physically imposing defensive backs.

…to the #5 rising junior in Florida to the offers you'll see in the next section to "eh, bottom of the top 100." About the only thing I can find that would point to a drop is the 4.6 40 time listed on his Scout profile and at ESPN.

One thing to watch is a potential move to linebacker. Another evaluation from that same camp from Rivals' Barry Every:

6-2, 205, OLB Eagle Lake (FL) Lake Region 2010
Assets: Has a tremendous burst and excellent ball skills.
What was most impressive at camp: For a guy who is making the change from safety to linebacker, he sure looked a natural.
Areas for improvement: He just needs to get reps at his new position because all the tools are there.
On the Hoof: Has good height, long arms and wide shoulders. Robinson's frame will fill out and enable him to play all three linebacker positions.

Robinson could be ticketed for this LB/SS hybrid spot. ESPN's strangely muted scouting report—I'm used to them saying things like "Isaiah Bell melts iron with his mind!"—mentions position versatility:

Robinson is a valuable athlete that rarely comes off the field. He is one of those athletes that may not be great at any one thing but is good at everything. He has good size both in terms of height and weight. Plays multiple positions and is a very talented skilled athlete. As a safety plays the fee safety poison well and doesn't get fooled on play action passes. Intelligent center fielder that recognizes combination routes and reacts accordingly.

Maybe he's great at being awesome, huh, ESPN? Did you ever think of that?


This article was published in June, ten months ago, before Robinson's junior year:

Robinson, who has been the top-safety prospect at two camps this summer, received his first offer from Michigan, then Ohio State offered and at the end of the May evaluation period, USC and Florida offered him a scholarship.

Tennessee had also thrown their hat in the ring by then. So: offers from Michigan, Ohio State, USC, and Florida before his junior year of high school. When he was 15! Damn.

If it matters, further offers came from BC, UCLA, Purdue, Nebraska, UNC, Clemson, and so forth and so on.


Robinson's junior season was fruitful, and multiplied:

Marvin Robinson, the 6-foot-1, 204 pound four-star safety from Lake Region High School in Eagle Lake, Fla., finished his junior season with 98 tackles, four interceptions, four blocked punts and two fumbles caused. He also had five touchdowns on offense with three rushing scores and two receiving.


As mentioned above, Robinson's 40 times are in the realistic for humans range and this may explain his unexpectedly low rankings.


The tubes… they have nothing!


Robinson is good and should show up college-ready after four years of starting and all those early offers. He'll be physically ready and about as mentally prepped as you can be as a true freshman; he, I believe, is also planning on an early enrollment. If he's going to step directly into the starting lineup, though, it's probably not going to be in the secondary, where Michigan currently has no seniors. People seem to want to move him to linebacker, and Michigan's got this new LB/SS hybrid thing Robinson might be good at. The tentative projection here is that he moves to that spot and is in a battle for the starting job immediately, pending Michigan picking up a couple of quality safety recruits to go with him.

As for his ratings: it'll be interesting to see what happens with them. It's possible he was just an early bloomer who got college ready super fast and has a lower ceiling than true five star sorts. It's also possible the recruiting sites are overrating a couple of 40 times to their detriment. I assume he'll end up at an all star game or two; the results will be interesting.


It doesn't really matter whether Robinson is a safety or a linebacker because Michigan would take either yes please thanks much. Given the depth in the secondary, where a true freshman starts at safety next to a converted cornerback and a redshirt freshman walk-on is on the two-deep at corner until the instant Justin Turner enrolls, this will slow Michigan's pursuit of other defensive backs in no way whatsoever.

There are at least three slots left for defensive backs and if they took five more I'd be okay with it. The good news is they've got a lot of excellent options heavily favoring them. Michigan is the public, heavy leader for PA CB Cullen Christian and FL CB Lo Wood, either of whom could drop at any time. MI CB Dior Mathis hasn't been as explicit but is also widely expected to end up at M, and then there's an array of other targets like FL CB Spencer Boyd and PA CB Brandon Ifill, Christian's teammate. Robinson's commit looks to be the first in a parade of four-star secondary commits over the next couple months.


Former Derby County striker jailed in 2000 for headbutting a woman now toiling in the Blue Square North, which is… uh… let's count… the sixth level of English footie. Life's been eventful:

His list of clubs, including a spell at Walsall, reads like a gazetteer of English soccer and he has suffered two broken legs and damaged his lungs.

Now, ten years on from that memorable Highbury debut, Big Marv has replaced the Premiership with the more mundane surroundings of the Blue Square North and home is now Redditch United’s Valley Stadium.

Congrats, Walsall: for some reason you're the club picked out to highlight Robinson's hard-luck life. Random biographical note that may sully your opinion of me but isn't as bad as Magic: The Gathering: I took Redditch to Champions League glory in Football Manager a couple years back.

Etc.: Gator Country "couldn't see him leaving the state" in September, when M was the heavy leader. Oops. TomVH interviewed Robinson in October; a more recent camp report.


Hello: Stephen Hopkins

Hello: Stephen Hopkins Comment Count

Brian April 13th, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Texas running back Stephen Hopkins did, as threatened, commit to Michigan over the weekend. Brace yourselves for Ohio State uniforms:



Scout Rivals ESPN
NR NR 77, no position rating

ESPN gives Hopkins a meh grade of 77 and provides a scouting report that makes him sound eerily similar to a current player:

Hits the hole fast and does a job getting north quickly; does not take a lot of wasted lateral steps but shows he can bounce it outside to daylight without losing a lot in transition. At his best when he plants and accelerates downhill behind his pads. Tends to run high but still is very sturdy and strong at the high school level and breaks consistent first contact. Determined back who keeps his legs driving in the pile and fights for extra yards. Difficult for smaller defensive backs to arm-tackle when he gains momentum through the second level. However, his high running style hinders his balance, often chopped down low, and yards after contact production.

Would you change a word of that if you were adapting it to fit Brandon Minor? I don't think so.

The Dallas Morning News named Hopkins the #1 tailback in the area for 2010, declaring him "the true definition of a workhorse"; he checks in at #76 on Inside Texas' statewide top 100. All these things point to a mid-three-star ranking. Given the extensive knowledge about Hopkins' game—he's racked up almost 600 carries already—that's not likely to change.

While those ratings and rankings aren't particularly exciting, there's an informative thread at 5ATexasFootball.com in which a variety of fans who saw Flower Mound Marcus grind their team into dust offer up homage. An admin:

He is a very impressive player. His size is rare with RBs today. He can run for speed and power. I didn't see him on one of his better production days, but he's one of those guys you know is a player just by watching him operate for a few plays. Physically, he is ahead of the game for his age.

And then:

When we played them in 2007 we got the ball first and went 3 and out, or close to that. They then ran about 9 minutes off the clock and scored. Pretty much every series was like that. When the other team has the ball for 9 minutes of every 12 minute quarter scoring chances are few.

The guys is IMO the best back in the DFW area. … The off-season between his sophomore and junior year saw him put on some size and gain in speed. He has developed into a very patient runner that will wait for the hole to develop and then explodes. His power is unmatched by any back I saw last year. …  Marcus added a inside/outside running game last year and was able to do that with Hopkins. The year before he was limited to getting his yards between the tackles due to not having the game breaking speed, last year that changed and Marcus was able to break the big one on sweeps, off tackles and power plays. One of his strengths is his ability to hold onto the football too.

That's echoed several times, with the only downer being someone who mentions he "lacks the speed to be an elite back"; I'll let this guy have the final word from the fans:

Hopkins is not that good. After he went over 200-225 yards against us he started to wear down
After he wore down, We stopped him COLD after only 7 or 8 yards.

Meanwhile, Hopkins' coach before his junior year:

"He's one of those classic downhill runners that gets stronger as the game wears on," Marcus coach Bryan Erwin said. "But at the same time, he does all the other things that you need from an every-down back. He can block. He can catch passes. Whatever you need him to do, he can do it."

And Hopkins himself:

"If you need me to pick up a first down in a short-yardage situation, I'm your man, but I don't want to be just a power back," Hopkins said.

"Adrian Peterson can run over you, but he can also take it 80 yards if he gets an opening. So I've really been working hard on improving my speed. I think you're going to see a lot more big plays from me this year."

As you'll see in the stats, he made good on that.


Hopkins' full slate as of a couple weeks ago, complete with pretty FAKE-ish 40 time:

Hopkins, 6-0, 220, 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has scholarship offers from Michigan, Texas A&M, Stanford, Kansas, Kansas State, SMU and Texas Tech. He's attended junior day at Texas A&M, SMU, Baylor, Nebraska, Connecticut, Texas and Texas Tech.

Though Michigan is clearly the biggest name on that offer list, that's a decent assortment for April.


The stats indicate a pounding, frequently-used back. This guy did the division for me:

But Marcus' Stephen Hopkins? That boy was proving it every Friday. Hopkins racked up 275 carries in 2008, netting him 1,689 yards and 22 touchdowns -- and that's just in 11 games! How many guys can carry the ball almost 300 times and still maintain a 6.0 YPC average?

In high school, probably lots. But it's a significant bump from Hopkins' sophomore stats:

The incoming senior has been making a name for himself since his sophomore year, when he rushed for 1,663 yards and 16 touchdowns on 343 carries for an average of 4.8 yards per carry.

That's a ton of carries. He's durable, and probably low upside, by which I mean he's not been overlooked for any reason. Recruiting gurus know all about him and say he's a middling prospect.


As above, 4.6 for a 220 pound high school junior. Eh… probably not.


Try to suppress your natural desire to see the man with the ball fumble, get blown up by the safety, or go on a crazy rampage with an armory's worth of guns, an axe, and a lint roller:

There's not a lot of wow there, but Hopkins isn't a wow sort of back. He picks a hole and runs through it as hard and fast as he can.


This one's easy: Brandon Minor. I've actually deleted Minor's name three different times as this post has come together and the redundancy became more obvious. Minor, a low four star, was slightly higher rated as a recruit, but everything else is almost identical.


Michigan now has one scatback and one thunderous moose to fill the slots vacated by Brown and Minor; a third back in the class is likely to keep the numbers up, as Michigan has already lost two tailbacks to transfer and will lose the aforementioned seniors and Kevin Grady after 2009. At this point you'd hope they'd sit tight and swing for the fences (GA RB Mack Brown, SC RB Marcus Lattimore) but if MI RB Austin White wants to jump aboard soon—doubtful but not impossible—they'd probably take him.

Is instate RB Nick Hill going to get an offer at this point? I think he'll at least have to wait for summer camp.


He was a Pilgrim, except not really since he wasn't a member of their goofy religious cult:

Stephen Hopkins (born about 1582 – 1644), was a tanner and merchant who was one of the passengers on the Mayflower in 1620, settling in Plymouth Colony.  … Hopkins was one of forty-one signatories of the Mayflower Compact and was an assistant to the governor of the colony through 1636.

Etc.: A lot of content at Prep Ticket on Hopkins. TomVH interviewed him just a couple weeks ago.


2009 Recruiting: Will Campbell

2009 Recruiting: Will Campbell Comment Count

Brian March 13th, 2009 at 3:05 PM

Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, and LB Brandin Hawthorne.

Detroit, Michigan - 6'5" 317
campbellthor_thumb4 Scout 5*, #6 DT, #35 overall
Rivals 5*, #5 DT, #26 overall
ESPN 79, #21 OT
Others --
Other Suitors Miami, LSU, Alabama, Florida
YMRMFSPA Gabe Watson
Previously On
Chaos. Otters. Hello.
Notes Early enrollee. Cass Tech.

Will Campbell is an extremely large, extremely nerve-wracking person in an extremely silly getup above. (He's "Thor"; there was some photoshoot with Michigan high school players themed to be comic book heroes. Which, guy who came up with that idea: thank you.) Here is a silly dance:


That is the Will Campbell commit dance, which he only executed after arriving at the Army All-American game and declaring Michigan to be off his list and LSU his leader. Let's just get it out of the way: yes, it is a little annoying that Campbell decided he needed to give me and a lot of other people a heart attack for purposes of self-glorification. Kids these days, lawn, baggy pants and the goo-goo eyeball glasses drinking their milkshakes and bler bler bler. If it makes you feel any better, Campbell seems like a lighthearted giant a la Terrance Taylor, not a raging narcissist. Or at least no more of a raging narcissist than the average enormous muscle-bound 18-year-old who is 100% sure he's going to the NFL.

Also something that should make you feel better are salivating reports like so from the Army All-American game:

6-0/310, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
He is a full grown man out on the gridiron even when compared to some of the nation's best offensive and defensive linemen. Most of the centers really struggled with the snap for two reasons - one they are new at it and two Campbell was bringing the most powerful bull rush they have ever seen. Just ask Nick Alajajian what it feels like to keep this future college star from getting into the backfield.

Campbell actually played both ways in that game:

"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."

Though he avoided some things:

Campbell is one of the biggest players in the Army game, but he's apparently not ready for the roller coasters when the teams visit Six Flags on Tuesday night.

"There's a weight limit on those things," he said. "I might be on the tea cups."

When it was over, Rivals named him the second-strongest DT in the country and the top run-stuffer. It's hard for defensive tackles to make a big impact at the Army game itself, but Campbell did swallow a couple guys whole. More from his Army AA coach:

"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."

Ok, scouts and a particular high school coach think he's a beast. That's nice. Now add the rest of college football to the list:

DT William Campbell, Detroit Cass Tech: LSU and Miami are getting official visits, but USC seemingly has this one right. The Trojans aren't pushing hard for Campbell despite his talent because they seem to be hearing what I am hearing: Campbell will end up at Michigan in the end.

A stat update from halfway through the season has some eyepopping numbers:

The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder anchors both lines for the Technicians and has proven unbeatable in one-on-one situations. That's why teams have consistently double-, and at times triple-teamed him. Despite all of that attention, he has managed to rack up 25 tackles, including 12 for loss and nine sacks, while also forcing two fumbles. He has been the engine for a defense that has pitched three shutouts in five games and given up only 13 points all year.

Campbell ended up tacking on officials to Florida and Alabama. Let's play Jeopardy(!). LSU, Florida, Miami, USC, and Alabama. What are five schools that desperately wanted to add Campbell to their class? Correct. We would also have accepted "a short list of the top five recruiting schools in the country." Everyone wanted the guy. (Perhaps the scariest mind-juju yet in USC recruiting was their decision to avoid Campbell simply because they didn't think there was much chance to land him. 1) Prescient. 2) Who does that? USC does.)

It is worth noting the dissenting vote from ESPN, which said he was a pretty good prospect but not the budding superstar the other two sites did:

We recognize he has plenty of talent, but he fell short of a 150 grade at this time. We also feel he is not a defensive lineman at the college level -- he will be a better fit on offense. He reminds us of former Cass Tech prospect Joseph Barksdale, a defensive tackle prospect who will be playing offensive tackle this year for LSU. Campbell may enter college as a defensive tackle, but we think, much like Barksdale, he will end up on offense. Campbell is a big, but raw prospect who needs to keep developing his game.

I've said this before, but a recap: the difference between Barksdale and Campbell is that a lot of colleges, including Michigan, were recruiting Barksdale as a tackle—that was part of the rift between he and Michigan—while Campbell was recruited almost exclusively as a defensive tackle. Also, while ESPN ended up right about Barksdale's collegiate position they were still wrong to rank him so low: Barksdale became LSU's starting right tackle as a true sophomore and is on track to be an excellent three-year starter.

Also detrimental to ESPN's cause here is their directive to totally ignore the Army game (which also them to underrate Justin Turner after his dynamite performance there). Campbell showed and impressed, as noted above, and justified his position high atop the Scout and Rivals lists.

Ironically, it was ESPN that provided the picture that had everyone thinking "schwing" or "oh god if he goes to LSU I'm going to shoot myself"; let it stand as Will Campbell's image until such time as it's replaced by one with a winged helmet:


Okay, so: five-star recruit with offers from everyone at a position where there is one obvious starter—sophomore Mike Martin—and then a Canadian who didn't see much time at all last year and people switching positions from defensive end or even fullback. Also the above picture. Initiate the Thor era now?

Eh… sort of. As is often the case with enormous manbeasts that you could slice open with a light saber and use as an emergency tent without them so much as noticing, Campbell has some weight issues. And running issues:

"The hardest part is the running," he said. "The first day, we ran like eight gassers and like eight 40's. That just killed me. That was the hardest."

Campbell, who is listed by Michigan at 6 feet, 5 inches and 317 pounds, said he actually weighs 335 pounds, thanks to too much eating and inactivity before arriving in Ann Arbor. Besides shedding 20 pounds, Campbell wants to put himself in position to be a starter this season.

But he's gon' work:

"I'm going to work hard, there's no doubt about that," Campbell said. "If I work hard enough, most likely I will be starting."

Concerns about raw technique are almost definitely legit, as Campbell could throw anyone in the PSL into the ballcarrier without learning about leverage. His early enrollment will help with both that and his conditioning; chances are he is not NFL ready just yet. A year of promise beckons; it's just too bad there's no one in front of him to take the tough minutes.

Etc.: He wants #73 and knows who Zoltan is.

Why Gabe Watson? Watson was an in-state man-mountain rated about where Campbell is; Watson also had some weight issues and nice-guy issues, and a lot of people thought he didn't quite live up to his rating, which is a little silly since he was two-time all Big Ten and is an NFL starter. Also, Campbell appears to be an enormous two-gap space-eater, who's not going to get after the passer much, which makes him more in the Watson mold than the Branch mold.

Guru Reliability: Well, outside of ESPN: high. All-star game and multiple combine appearances, and offers up the wazoo.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Ratings + offers = very high likelihood to be a multi-year starter and NFL draft pick.
Projection: Immediately into the defensive tackle rotation, probably behind Sagesse to start. Potentially works his way into a starting job by the end of the year; sophomore through senior year he should be somewhere between Watson and what Watson could have been if he was mean.


Hello (Again): Will Campbell

Hello (Again): Will Campbell Comment Count

Brian January 5th, 2009 at 11:38 AM

MI DT Will Campbell recommitted on Saturday. The dossier:



Scout Rivals ESPN
5*, #4 DT 5*, #4 DT, #25 overall 79, #22 OT

campbell-thor Will Campbell first became known to Michigan fans when he committed at Michigan's summer camp a year and a half ago, when he was a rising junior. An early commit like that presaged big things—offers, rankings—and when Scout and Rivals started publishing lists of these things Campbell was indeed awarded the coveted fifth star and took his spot as the top recruit in Michigan's class. Then he decommitted, took a bunch of visits, scared the crap out of everyone, and eventually rejoined the fold. Relief goes here.

Campbell's guru ratings are reminiscent of those given to a Cass Tech defensive tackle from a couple years ago who considered Michigan and LSU but came up with the wrong answer: Joseph Barksdale. Michigan told Barksdale he'd be best as an offensive lineman, which he didn't want to hear, causing a rift. Meanwhile, both Scout and Rivals ranked him as a five star DT; ESPN said "no!" and declared him a good, not great, offensive tackle prospect.

Who was right? Eh, both, sort of. Barksdale came to LSU a defensive tackle and instantly ended up on the other side of the ball—ESPN was right—but then established himself an immediate, excellent starter as a redshirt freshman—ESPN was wrong. That latter accuracy is likely to repeat; on one side you've got two sets of recruiting analysts and virtually every program in the country. On the other you've got a few guys with a track record of goofily leaving off one or two guys every year.

A position switch a la Barksdale is not likely for Campbell, even if he played both ways at the Army All-American game, for one glaring reason: Michigan's depth chart. Michigan returns every offensive lineman on the roster and adds two highly-rated tackle prospects this year. On the other side of the ball, though, Terrance Taylor and Will Johnson exit and the candidates to start next to Mike Martin are a Canadian (Renaldo Sagesse) who saw little time a year ago and a converted fullback (Vince Helmuth) who saw none. Yikes. At a position that usually sees at least three players contributing, that's a scary depth chart.

Campbell's been the subject of dozens of articles since his decommitment, but virtually all of them are like "eeee where's he going." Not many were useful after that became clear, but a few remain relevant. The first came around this time a year ago, when Campbell smoked a wide array of the country's top talent at the Army combine:

Campbell, who is ranked as the nation's No. 55 player for 2009, wanted to show he deserves a much loftier ranking than what he's at currently. He set out to destroy every offensive linemen that was in his path. He did that and more. Using an array of spin moves, bull rushes and pure agility, Campbell couldn't be blocked.

Player after player wanted to test their ability against him, but it didn't matter.

"I want to be an All-American," Campbell said. "I want to be a five-star. That's basically why I came down to San Antonio. I wanted to show that I'm the best defensive tackle in the nation."

He might have just done that.

"He's got great size and great power," Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barry Every said. "I'd like to see him trim up in the belly area a little bit, but he's got it everywhere else. I can't wait to see what he looks like on game tape. He's got the potential to be a five-star guy."

This time around, Campbell was the only player at the Army game to play both ways. His coach (Terry Smith of Gateway High in Pennsylvania, who you may remember from the Justin King recruitment) was very positive about him:

"Campbell is a true Warren Sapp kind of athlete," Smith said. "I saw him out there catching punts, catching passes and then he's making all those tackles on the defensive line. He's fast, he's strong, athletic and he's big."

He's the East team's best defensive lineman according to most. (He was also ranked #12 in the state by SpartanMag.com. ROR.)

More from Smith:

Massive Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech lineman William Campbell has been working with both the offensive and defensive lines during practice, and Smith said the 6-5, 317-pounder will probably go both ways.

"He's enormous, he's explosive and he's really athletic for a big guy," Smith said. "He's a fast learner. He's a fun-spirited kid who loves the game and that's why we're able to move him on both sides of the ball because he can pick it up. He just enjoys playing the game."

In the game, Campbell consistently drove back double teams and flowed down the line to make a couple tackles, but appeared to take a few plays off. He might have been spying on the QB, or just tired since he was also playing offensive line as well.

Cass Tech coach (and Michigan alum) Thomas Wilcher on his charge:

"I think he's had perseverance," noted Wilcher. "He went through his career here and kept up great academics. He kept up all his schoolwork. He worked out hard every year and he did whatever it took to become the best athlete. No matter what you asked, no matter what you told him, he always achieved that level."


Everyone except USC, and USC seemed leery not because they were skeptical of his talent but because they didn't think he would seriously consider leaving. The finalists other than Michigan were Miami, LSU, Alabama and Florida.


I couldn't dig up any, unfortunately.


Nor could I find a 40 time


Eeeeee he commits eeee:

And here's an interview from Scout:


Every signing day or thereabouts I run down the recruiting class in detail and provide a "YMRFSPA"—you may remember me from such players as—comparison. Sometimes these are a little flimsy. Jason Avant gets mentioned entirely too much. But here we have a rock-solid comparison: Gabe Watson. Watson was also a simply ginormous five-star defensive tackle recruit some thought would be better on offense. Watson also had rumored motivational issues, as is usual when you're talking about men with their own gravitational pull.

Watson was a slight disappointment during his Michigan career, but only a slight one. Instead of an All-American performer, he was an all-conference one—twice. He's currently contributing to an NFL playoff team.

Campbell's something of a goof but he's less of a softy than the legendarily nice Watson, and Watson's motivational issues were so extreme that he was benched in favor of Pat Massey for the first couple games of his senior year. He was close to the bad end of the effort continuum; Campbell is likely to be less frustrating.

Campbell's got some technique and Barwis issues to deal with, but is coming in early, which should mitigate his freshman unpreparedness considerably; with the depth chart looking like it does Campbell is at least 50-50 to start immediately and is a lock for considerable playing time as a freshman.


Well, if the other two DT recruits stick they're done at a postion of great need, and with great success. Unfortunately, it sounds like it's going to be a battle for both guys until signing day. OK DT Pearlie Graves has talked about a visit to Oklahoma for a while now. Recent scuttlebutt has been most positive, though. The commitment of Jamarkus "Texas Coke Orgy" McFarland helps, and may end Oklahoma's recruitment of Graves. It seems likely he sticks.

LA DT DeQuinta Jones, on the other hand, seems considerably more open. Keep in mind he's never actually been to Michigan's campus, committing unexpectedly after he figured out LSU probably wasn't going offer. That was seemingly because Jay Hopson is one suave dude. Hopson remains a suave dude, but Jones plans visits to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State prior to his Michigan visit.

Though the board doesn't reflect this, my current view of the situation: Graves and Campbell are commits; Jones is open but is probably going to Michigan. With no other recruits on the radar, his decision will determine whether M ends up with two or three DTs in the class.


Hello: Taylor Lewan

Hello: Taylor Lewan Comment Count

Brian December 15th, 2008 at 11:35 AM

An eventful couple days: first IN LB Jordan Barnes decommits, then Arizona offensive lineman Taylor Lewan commits. Informative update coming in a bit.

And by "a bit" I mean "tomorrow," but first thing!


Becca says "you are so hott," FWIW.


Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #25 OT 4*, #192 overall, #17 OT 80, #14 OT

Lewan, of course, is defensive end commitment Craig Roh's teammate; he transferred schools for a senior year that saw him shoot up the rankings a few weeks into his senior season. At his old school he was primarily a defensive lineman, at which position he didn't project to college; at tackle, however, it took all of two weeks for twenty programs to offer. Lewan's decision came down to Minnesota, where his dad briefly played before injury cut his career short, and Michigan, with The Correct Answer winning out.

The sites, as you can see, are close to unified on his potential: it's there, he's got a real chance to be an excellent player, etc. ESPN's rating is equivalent to a mid-four star on the other sites; he's the first OT outside of their top 150.

ESPN snippet($):

He is a tall and lean kid with a good build, but he is lean for an offensive tackle and will need to work to add more bulk to his frame. He is a kid who plays hard and is very productive. He makes good initial contact and will flash the ability to generate power from his hips and when he does that he can drive a defender off the ball. He is a tall kid though that needs to watch his pad level and focus to stay low. He is very good with his hands as both a run and pass blocker. He gets good hand placement and can be tough to beat once he gets locked on.

MGoBlog's own Tom VanHaaren provided an article in which the Hallowed Comparison was made:

They both told me about Taylor's favorite player: former Michigan left tackle and current Miami Dolphin Jake Long. Dave told me that every Sunday, “Taylor watches the Dolphin games, and actually rewinds every offensive play to see what Jake was doing, and his technique.” Lewan draws comparisons to the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Taylor plays left tackle, wears the number 77, is one of the smartest players on and off the field, and has based his game on strength. Coming out of high school, Long was a recent convert to offensive line rated about where Lewan is.

Obviously Lewan would have to absolutely maximize every ounce of his potential to even approach Jake Long's success.


Lewan gathered a wide bounty as teams saw him play tackle:

Staying in Arizona, there isn't a hotter offensive line recruit in the West right now than Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.) tackle Taylor Lewan. Lewan has been absolutely dominant this season and word is spreading fast among college coaches.

It seems a new offer rolls in for Lewan almost daily with Oregon State, Arizona and Nebraska being the most recent. Arizona State, Oregon, Nevada and Minnesota had previously offered.

 Miami, Wisconsin, and others also threw their hat in the ring.

And I have no idea how verified this voracity is but FWIW:

Chaparral offensive tackle Taylor Lewan could see his number of scholarship offers jump very soon. Lewan said Alabama, Florida and Ohio State will likely be offering after another highly regarded offensive tackle makes his college commitment.

AFAIK there's no highly rated offensive tackle with those three schools on his list, so I interpret that to mean "those three schools had one recruit they were waiting on and then Lewan was their guy"; for OSU that's obviously Marcus Hall.


Offensive linemen don't have stats.


Also they don't really have 40 times.


This isn't particularly relevant but it does exist, so here's five minutes of Lewan as a junior, mostly playing on defense:


You get too high on offensive line recruits at your peril, as the ratings at that position are the least reliable. That said, Lewan's sudden rise as soon as he found himself at his natural position, and the offers that accompanied that rise, are an excellent indicator for his future. You get the impression that the only thing restricting Lewan's further rise is his late switch to the offensive line, which leaves somewhat deficient in technique and size and makes him something of a risk. That risk is offset by serious upside.

Two comparison points for Lewan: Jake Long and Dann O'Neill. All three have prototypical left tackle bodies and were highly rated. Long started as a redshirt freshman and eventually became the top pick in the NFL draft. O'Neill showed up and immediately seemed like he needed two years to add strength and technique; his future remains all potential.

Lewan's got a definite redshirt in his future, and then he's likely to spend 2010 watching a senior Schilling and Dorrestein (or possibly or Omameh/O'Neill somewhere) play before being a serious threat for playing time as a redshirt sophomore.


Lewan is the second offensive lineman and second projected tackle in the class. Michigan probably wants to add one more offensive lineman. The two best possibilities are NC OL Travis Bond, who's a three-star recruit most project at tackle, and SC OL Quinton Washington, a guy who projects at guard and a couple of the services absolutely love (ESPN and Rivals; Scout not so much).

Both have taken officials to Michigan already and the indicators are encouraging. Washington hasn't scheduled any other visits yet, though he plans to take his four remaining trips in January. Bond looked to be leaning towards UNC but the Tar Heels are doing some Saban-level oversigning and may not have room. That would leave Michigan competing against NC State and then it's just a matter of whether he wants to stay home or not. Michigan probably gets one and then is done on the OL. Also out there: Trotwood-Madison giant Chris Freeman, who's a major project but with upside.

Etc.: If you've got a Scout subscription you should check this article from the Minnesota site, which is titled "Lewan commits to Big Ten School($)" but makes no mention as to which school that might be; this newspaper article does.


Hello: Vincent Smith

Hello: Vincent Smith Comment Count

Brian September 2nd, 2008 at 1:53 PM


This blog was slightly occupied last Friday when Pahokee, FL, teammates Brandin Hawthorne and Vincent Smith committed to Michigan, but better late than never. Everything the internet can offer on Michigan’s newest electron-sized recruit follows, now with organization and stuff.


Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #102 RB 3*, #60 RB 77, #60 RB

In a word: “meh,” but we are talking about a 5’7” player here who is a poor fit for a lot of offenses and doesn’t have much pro upside. ESPN scouting report($) clip:

Shows a second gear when he gets outside on the perimeter and can separate in the second level with good top-end speed. However, he does appear quicker than fast and is not the burner you hope for on film with his smaller size. Runs hard and is a tough, determined back, but yards after contact should diminish at the next level versus bigger more explosive defenders.

They say he could be a “productive change of pace back” in the spread, which is kind of damning him with faint praise.

His teammates and coach are a bit more positive, as you might imagine:

His production -- more than 1,000 yards rushing last season -- helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2B state championship and USA Today's No. 6 national ranking.

And then there's his build, which Thompson simply called ``that spread-offense body.'' …

''He can do a lot,'' Pahokee quarterback-to-be Nu'Keese Richardson said, ``as far as catching it out [of] the backfield, making guys miss and stuff like that.''

Added coach Blaze Thompson: ``When he goes to camps, he'll go from wide receiver to running back, wide receiver to running back.

"He runs great routes, and he's powerful.''

A slot move may be a possibility down the road.


Smith had two other major offers from Tennessee and Wisconsin. Minnesota, Iowa State, and Southern Miss also offered. In-state programs were not interested.

Okay, kind of meh too but it’s notable that Michigan’s offer went out fast:

''[When I got] my first offer from Michigan,'' Smith said, ``I knew then I was going to be good.''

He got it in early March, before Michigan offered a bunch of other high-profile guys. They IDed him early and had him high on their list.


Lot of yards, as per usual:

Smith, a running back, led Pahokee in rushing the past two seasons and rushed for 1,196 yards last year.

Sophomore numbers were impressive:

Just behind him [FL recruit Janoris Jenkins] is the "starting" tailback Vincent Smith. Smith, a sophomore who goes 5-9 and 174 pounds, has 85 carries for 925 yards (10.3 per carry) and 15 TDs.

Keep in mind that Pahokee plays at a small-school level in Florida and dominates the competition—they’re gearing up for a run at a fourth straight state championship—and the silly YPC above should be taken with a grain of salt.


Fake, fake, fake:

Indeed he is. Smith might come up short, height-wise (he lists himself at 5-9, although some have him at 5-7), but not in many other places.

His 40-yard dash time -- the high 4.3-range and dropping, he says -- is stellar.



This compilation of runs from last year’s state championship game—which they won 53-14— is uncommonly useful because it’s not a highlight reel; in it Smith looks A) tiny, B) shifty, and C) feisty.

And this has featured on the blog before, but here’s Smith narrated by Pat Summerall:

Pat Summerall, people! This kid is no joke.


If you want to argue this guy is a big deal, you’ve got Michigan’s lickety-split offer on your side. If you want to say “meh” you’ve got his other offers, the reaction of the instate schools, and the guru ratings. He’s obviously got a chance to be useful, but with four higher-rated guys in the last two classes, “useful” is a realistic upside.


Smith is Michigan’s third running back commit or second slot commit or third slot commit or something. To rephrase: Michigan now has four guys in the class who will play running back or slot receiver; they graduate no running backs or slot receivers. They’re done. There’s not even anyone on the radar anymore.

Etc.: Smith intends to enroll early; 108 yards against Vero Beach; Pahokee just blew a 47-20 lead by sitting out the starters… and a Smith fumble on a KO return.