Hello: Richard Ash

Hello: Richard Ash

Submitted by Brian on December 16th, 2009 at 6:21 PM

According to a text he sent to Tom VanHaaren, FL DT Richard Ash has committed to Michigan. Ash is a Pahokee kid, the fourth to sign on with Michigan in three years, and either a three-tech DT (ie: Ryan Van Bergen) or a strongside defensive end.

Early in the recruiting year he had a ton of tres impressive offers—Florida, Miami, USC—but his options dwindled as those schools filled up. He committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, but that was always shaky and Doc Holliday's departure to become Marshall's head coach was the final nail in their coffin.

More informative update on its way.

Defensive tackle lovers, rejoice! Michigan has extended the Pahokee pipeline into the Class of 2010 (Martavious Odoms was the '08 representative, and Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne hailed from the Muck in the 2009 class) by convincing FL DT Richard Ash to switch his commitment from West Virginia to the Wolverines.

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GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #48 DT 4*, #24 DT 3*, 77, #52 DT

The three sites don't quite agree on what they think of Ash's ability, and Rivals is definitely the outlier, as they give him 4 stars and say he's the 24th-best DT in the class. ESPN's evaluation:

Ash moves around the defensive line in high school and at this point he is a bit of a 'tweener between the tackle and end spot. He could start off in college as a defensive end, but in the long run we think he projects as a defensive tackle or...

Not too much evaluation of his ability, but rather just his eventual position. Scout lets Richard talk about his strengths and weaknesses:

“I’m quick off the ball. I have a good first step and have great hands. I use them good and have great technique. I like to play quick and fast.

“I want to run better and get faster in the forty. I’d like to be more explosive because that would help me get more sacks.”

So he's quick (understandable for a smaller DT), and claims to have good technique. He needs to get into better shape, from the sounds of things. Not sure how he can reconcile "I am quick" with "I need to get more explosive," but whateva. His coach, the improbably-named Blaze Thompson, praises his work ethic and athleticism.

Long story short: He's a moderate prospect with more upside (he's only played football since 9th grade) than immediate potential.

Update: duplicate effort here, but I've got some other quotes to throw in:

Ash was an obvious D-I prospect early; when he showed up at the Miami Nike camp Rivals' Barry Every praised his "great body structure and really long arms," calling him "easily the best-looking interior defensive lineman physically in the camp."

In June, the Miami Herald ranked him a meh 90th in the state, saying:

90. Richard Ash, DT, 6-3, 265, Pahokee: After a solid junior season, this gifted athlete continues to make a lasting impression this spring. Talking with college coaches, they just love his quickness, strength and knowledge of the game. Plays the run very well and knows how to penetrate the backfield. Has steadily become a major force for one of the premier teams in the state of Florida.

The Orlando Sentinel, on the other hand, had him the third best defensive lineman in the state and declared his "great speed" made him "special."

Ash went to Florida's camp and didn't do so well. This is from SoFlaFootball's Luke Stampini:

No one seems to know for sure [about Ash and UF], a lot of speculation. Some say UF has cooled on him, but I can't find a straight answer.

He came to UF's camp out of shape and tested poorly in the 40 and vert. He performed well in 1-on-1's, but certainly not to the level of Ronald Powell (All-World DE from Cali).

This is a theory that one Richard Ash also supports:

"I've been hearing things that Florida doesn't want me after I tested at camp because of my 40 and my vertical," Ash told GatorBait.net. "I did good in the one-on-ones but I guess the 40 and vertical lowered me on Florida's scale. … They didn't like me as much after camp. That's what I've been hearing."

Somewhat oddly, the USC offer came after the meh camp performances. Later, Stampini would follow up on that in response to a West Virginia fan:

I doubt [WVU pulled its offer]. Florida did for some reason (most believe poor 40 and vert at camp), but UF has had some screwy recruitments that I think will come back and haunt them.

Then FSU came out and said they dropped Richard as well, but it was interesting timing coming a day after Richard basically said he would not be going to FSU in an interview.

LSU and USC Trojans appear to want Ash to commit, and I thought WVU was in Ash's top 4 with USF also.

One defensive coach I've talked to loves the fact Ash has a good frame to add weight, long arms, moves very well for his size, is 16 yrs old still, and is from Pahokee. He feels he can take those characteristics, coach him up a couple years and have an All-Conference caliber player.

And a final scouting report from Stampini:

Well Florida and FSU offered him. UF really wanted him to commit early, but he went and worked out at their camp tested poorly, performed average and the Gators dropped him. Before that Ash did an article stating he wasn't going to FSU (for whatever reason he never liked them) and the next day it comes out FSU was no longer recruiting him.

Now Ash has all the physical tools to be extremely good, but it his motivation has come into question. If someone can get in his head to work hard, get in shape, go all out every snap, he could get paid to play the game. Sometimes lighting a fire under someones rear is easier said than done though. Another issue with Ash (and most of those Pahokee lineman) is his play did not improve from his JR year to SR year like most prospects.

So… yeah, the rollercoaster was understandable.

OFFERS

At one point Ash's offer list stacked up with anyone's. As early as May, when his stock was "exploding," he had 14 offers, some of them major. In June, Florida had offered and led. In early July, USC offered and moved into the lead. Plus when he committed the first time around he mentioned offers from Michigan, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, South Carolina, and UCLA plus a bunch of others. An absolute ton of schools were after this guy.

The weird bit is that when Ash committed these were the schools in his final five other than West Virginia:

The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle also listed USC, Rutgers, Minnesota and South Florida as three schools he was seriously interested in.

What a bizarre list. USC plus three schools that are Lilliputian recruiters relative to the Trojans. And no Michigan, the school he would commit to in two weeks.

So what happened? It appeared a bunch of schools cooled off on Ash after some uninspiring camp performances. By September, Ash was reporting that USC offer but mentioning that he hadn't heard from them in a while. Florida turned off their interest more explicitly, as Stampini detailed above.

The UCLA interest was sincere and persistent, as he went on an official there. LSU brought him in for the Florida game, too, and West Virginia and Michigan were both hot after him. So not everyone was turned off, just the two programs who can basically pick and choose perfect prospects all day.

STATS

His high school stats weren't explosive but this is a defensive tackle. Junior:

Ash had 80 tackles, seven for loss, four sacks, and one interception.

FAKE 40 TIME

All three recruiting sites have Ash listed in the 4.85 to 4.9 range, so there's some internal consistency at least. That's a believable time for a defensive end, but since Ash is expected to move to tackle, and admits he wants to work on his speed, it's worthy of two FAKEs out of five.

VIDEO

Ash is a defensive tackle, and therefore doesn't have any fil... wha? Here's the Richard Ash highlight reel:

There are also some impressive senior highlights, but I can't embed them.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Ash is not an immediate-impact type, and with Michigan's current depth on the defensive line, he won't be pushed into duty as a true freshman. A redshirt is in order to bulk up for the defensive tackle position or get into shape to be a big defensive end for 3-man fronts. Whichever position the coaches decide to let him play, he'll need a year under the strength and conditioning program to be ready to make contributions.

Ash is a boom-or-bust prospect. The up-and-down recruiting saga indicates a player with outstanding natural talent but some motivation and work ethic issues that USC and Florida don't have to take chances on. Thus the offers that ended up retracted. (The Florida State issue just appeared to be Ash not having much interest.)

Hopefully at Michigan he'll be more boom than bust, as he'll be around three other Pahokee kids who seem to be extremely hard workers—Odoms, at least, works like a dog on the field—and under the tutelage of Mike Barwis. If you end up at Michigan, you're going to end up working hard. He's also young for his grade, as Stampini mentions above, which gives him yet more upside. There's always a chance any prospect washes out entirely and Ash is farther away from his ceiling than really high-level prospects, but that ceiling appears to be about the same. If he puts in the work, he can be an all-conference player.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan now has two three-tech defensive tackles (ie, RVBs) committed with OH DT Terrance Talbott the other. That meets a major need since Van Bergen is coming up on his junior year and the only other player on the depth chart is fifth-year senior Greg Banks. Assuming that these guys don't decommit a la Dequinta Jones and Pearlie Graves last year, Michigan will have filled that spot with a couple of slightly undersized guys who will probably take a redshirt—Banks gives Michigan that luxury—and then start a long war to be the nominal starter once Van Bergen graduates.

Since MI DT Jonathan Hankins plays the nose, he is still an option.

Etc.: Maybe Ash ended up not committing to USC because he watched The Day After Tomorrow too much?

“I was worried cause they say they have earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires.”

How do any of those differed from riding out a hurricane in Florida?

“Oh, see that’s something I’m used to, I ain’t ever experienced an earthquake,” said a laughing Ash.

Wednesday Recruitin'

Wednesday Recruitin'

Submitted by Tim on December 16th, 2009 at 12:42 PM

Short Update this week, as the recruiting class is getting wrapped up in short order. All updates can be found on the Michigan Football Recruiting Board. Next week's update will probably be of the "class overview" variety. After that, the focus is very likely to shift to the 2011 class.

One Of The Best Defense... Plays

furmansad.jpg

For those who live under a rock, the heading references the gentlelady from Florida.

MD LB Josh Furman will announce his decision this Saturday at the Maryland Crab Bowl. He went on the local television sets to talk about the bowl itself, as well as his college decision and the extraordinary season he had at Old Mill this year. Furman's decision, between UM and Virginia Tech, is expected to go in favor of the Wolverines. He announces on the 19th.

Although FL DT Richard Ash committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, he visited Michigan the weekend of the 4th, and now Sam Webb has said on WTKA that he has a "strong gut feeling" that Ash will switch that commitment to the Wolverines. For those who don't regularly listen to the Recruiting Roundup (and I know it's become a lot more difficult since the WTKA website has been having technical issues for a couple weeks now), that means Sam has been told that this will happen, and it's not merely a guess.

Michigan will receive a visit from FL CB/S Rashad Knight later this winter ($, info in header). Knight was originally slated to visit for the Ohio State game, but missed his flight.

[editor jump-in]

A commitment from Ash coupled with the presumed silent commitments from Grimes, Murphy, and Furman would bring Michigan to 27 members of the class, leaving one slot open for any of the various players listing Michigan—CA S Sean Parker, CA LB Tony Jefferson, MI DT Jonathan Hankins, TX DT "Big Tex" Beachum, etc—unless there's a decommitment or a kid who is far enough away from qualifying that Michigan pulls a scholarship offer. Of those players, Hankins has seems the most likely but is currently rotating like a pulsar, having declared Florida his leader and then suggesting that commitments to Michigan and then Ohio State were imminent.

Jefferson is supposed to be a package deal with CA WR Kenny Stills and has dropped Florida, leaving both players considering Oklahoma and Michigan, with Oklahoma the favorite. No one really knows what Parker's up to.

[/editor]

Safetytown

For those worried about losing the commitment of LA S Carvin Johnson should an offer come from LSU, mgoblog recruiting guru TomVH provides a little peace of mind:

#Michigan commit Carvin Johnson told me LSU has not offered, and an offer from them would not change his commitment to Michigan.

Though Carvin's Rummel team failed to take home the State Championship this weekend, he was still named the game's MVP.

In other "committed safety championship game" news, Ray Vinopal comes in for some high praise from the coach of Columbus St. Francis DeSales, which dropped the Ohio State Championship to Vinopal's Cardinal Mooney team:

"Playing for Mooney, you know you're going to see kids that are disciplined, smart and technically sound, but you add in this kid's abilities and you really have something special," said Wiggins, who coached U-M's Patrick Omameh.

"You want to talk about a kid that can flat out run, though - Vinopal was probably the fastest kid we played against all season, and we had a very competitive schedule.

This goes right along with everything we've heard about Vinopal: well-coached, mentally ready to play the game. However, it also touts something that isn't usually praised, which is Vinopal's physical ability. Braylon Heard, Cardinal Mooney's feature back, is a West Virginia commit oft-praised for his speed, and DeSales also played a number of other guys with HIGHLY ACCURATE and not at all FAKE 40 times in the 4.4 range on Rivals. Very interesting point there, if it's not just lip service from Wiggins (which it may very well be). So far in this article we are seriously lacking white guy adjectives, though, right?

"He's tough and gritty - just a tremendous player."

Ah, that's more like it.

2011

krisfrost.jpgNC LB Kris Frost, a likely 4-star prospect in the 2011 class, is hearing from Michigan already.

"He's an energy ball," Butler quarterback Christian LeMay said. "He's always ready to play, ready to practice. I can't say enough about him. He's a piece of the heart of this team. He leads our defense."

I've added Frost to the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. (He's pictured at right, courtesy the Charlotte Observer's David T. Foster).

NY QB Ashton Broyld is getting attention from some schools as a linebacker, but he wants to play QB in college. Michigan is one of the schools that's talking to him (he was a 2009 summer camper), and he might be a good prospect for Michigan, if they can't get a top-top guy (i.e. Frost's teammate Lemay). That would give them a QB in the 2001 class, but leave open the door for an elite 2012 guy. For a little more on Broyld, check out his junior highlight film.

Etc.

Is Michigan back in the game for OH S Latwan Anderson? I'll believe it when he visits. Michigan is showing interest in FL LB Darrin Kitchens. If that interest continues, I'll add him to the board next week. AnnArbor.com fluff on WI P Commit Will Hagerup. More talking about early enrollees. The list is no different than last time we talked about it. Everyone at the Shrine Bowl seems to think SC QB commit Conelius Jones is destined for wideout in college.

Wed...er... Thursday Recruitin'

Wed...er... Thursday Recruitin'

Submitted by Tim on December 3rd, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Let's take a position-by-position look at recruits in positions that Michigan still has needs. Yes, they're mostly on defense. For reference, Michigan has 21 current commits, and there's still been no resolution as to whether they can accept more than 25 commitments.

Offensive Line

FL OL Torrian Wilson made a surprise commit to Stanford in the summer, but now he will visit Michigan this weekend. I had long assumed his commitment to Stanford was soft, but with no recruiting news until now, I had started to change my mind. It appears as though my faith has been reaffirmed.

hankins.jpgIn case it wasn't apparent from such events as "5-7," MN OL Seantrel Henderson is no longer considering Michigan.

Defensive Tackle

Thought to be out of consideration for Michigan, MI DT Johnathan Hankins (I've seen his first name spelled about a hundred  different ways, with no indication as to which might be right), has finally received his Michigan offer. Despite growing up a Michigan fan, Florida is still his strong leader.

Obviously, Michigan was similarly impressed, but their prolonged evaluation process has them currently trailing in the race for the three-star prospect's services.

"Florida is ahead right now," Hankins told Scout.com. "It was a great place. The players were great and the fans were amazing. The game (against Florida State) was great too. I feel comfortable there. They said I have a chance to play because they are losing defensive tackles. I'd have a chance to start. It's all up to me. After (visiting) Florida, I didn't want to take any more visits, but I rethought that and my coaches wanted me to take all my visits."

He visits Michigan this weekend, and Michigan will have the opportunity to outdo Florida then; there's also a chance that Florida might fill up (or "fill up") before Hankins has an opportunity to commit. He plans to decide before Christmas.

The increase in Hankins interest might be due to a couple other guys falling off, as last week a small Arkansas paper reported TX DT Big Tex Beachum might be solid to Arkansas. He still has not publicly reaffirmed his Arkansas commitment, so on the board he stays. Even The Recruiting Guy's follow-up doesn't have a quote affirming his commitment. FWIW, Sam Webb posted an article on Beachum that involved the words "clears the air($)," a universal signal that the article in question directly contradicts previously-reported information. He's still in play.

FL DT Richard Ash committed to West Virginia, which means Michigan is out, right? NSFMF, Tom reports that Ash will visit Ann Arbor this weekend. The Pahokee Pipeline lives!

Defensive End

Michigan has offered post-grad VA DE David Mackall ($, info in header), who originally committed to Maryland in the class of 2009.

The Wolverines are also the leader for FL DE Clarence Murphy. As Brian noted last week, Sam Webb has talked about a "gut feeling" on WTKA, which generally means a silent commitment.

Linebacker

furman.jpg

The biggest possibility for Michigan in the linebacking corps is MD LB/S Josh Furman, who will announce between Michigan and Virginia Tech at the Crab Bowl on December 19.

Both schools have strong academics, both have early playing time as a possibility, and Furman has established strong relationships with both staffs. With so many similarities between the pro

grams, settling on one sounds like a daunting task, but Furman has already done it.

"The location factored into it, along with the environment and the official visit," he explained.

As implied by that quote, a decision has been made and the coaches informed for each school. The location factoring could be interpreted as a bad sign for Michigan, but he did have tons of positive things to say about Michigan following his official visit. If the coaches have been informed, Webb's "gut feeling" is unimpeachable. Furman is putting up gaudy rushing numbers in his senior season, and is a huge prospect for the Wolverines.

Defensive Back

CA S Sean Parker still wants to take a Michigan visit. The Wolverines are in a final seven-ish also consisting of PSU, Notre Dame, UCLA, Tennessee, Washington, and USC.

Michigan leads for FL CB Tony Grimes and his teammate, DE Clarence Murphy.

Hollywood Hills defensive back Tony Grimes said he is leaning heavily toward the University of Michigan. When a decision to commit is made, Grimes said he and Hills defensive lineman Clarence Murphy will attend the same school.

"Michigan sticks out for both of us," Grimes said. "There we feel we can come in and play as true freshmen."

As noted above, the two are essentially Michigan locks, assuming the Wolverines stay on them until they announce a decision on Signing Day.

CA S Tony Jefferson is down to USC and Oklahoma. Michigan is still on the fringe of his recruitment, or even with the top two, depending on who you ask. Still, though don't expect anything further.

Don't expect FL CB Spencer Boyd to end up at Michigan: he's sticking with Notre Dame. [Editor's note: not so fast! Rivals threw up an image of Boyd in an article header indicating he will take an official this weekend.]

Also: Rivals AMP says Michigan is "re-emerging($)" for OH S Latwan Anderson, but kid goes to Glenville and ain't coming here.]

Commit Updates

gardnerlowell.jpg

MI QB Devin Gardner is ready to move on to his college career, after high school ended on a down note with a 27-6 loss to Lowell in the state championship game.

"I can't mourn this,” Gardner said after the loss last Friday. “I start getting ready for my future on Monday - lifting, throwing, watching films and getting better as a quarterback so this will never happen again."

Gardner was in attendance at last night's basketball debacle, and is firm in his commitment to Michigan. He no longer plans to enroll early.

MI RB Austin White is not wavering, despite a lame internet rumor to the contrary last week.

Further commit updates, including All-State team news, will be in next week's Friday Night Lights post.

[editor jump-in]

22 + 3 + er… more = er…

At this point we are operating under the assumption that Michigan can enroll no more than 25 freshmen this fall no matter how many scholarships it has open. This is unfortunate since any attrition is likely to see scholarships go unused again. It also means that Michigan has 22 commitments, three guys who are virtual commitments, zero spots left in the class, and about a dozen other guys they're still recruiting.

The conclusion is inescapable: expect attrition from the current commits. Whether it's a decommit or a gentle suggestion that maybe Player X would be better off in a situation with more opportunities for playing time, the way Michigan is recruiting suggests they're going to end up with a couple more commitments past the three expected ones. This will necessitate some current commits not signing or for Michigan to sign up to 28 with the intention of getting down to 25 by August.

Speculating about who is likely to depart in the former case is rude, but there are a couple of players who are reportedly not qualified yet and if they don't get there soon—ie, after this semester's grades are in—Michigan could be within its rights to say "sorry, but we can't take the chance you might not make it in." Your personal distaste for this sort of thing will vary. Mine is a six out of ten.

Possibilities in the latter case are grayshirting someone or expecting slight academic attrition from the incoming class. Some folks have proposed that MI WR Jeremy Jackson come in as a walk-on with a corresponding bump in Fred Jackson's pay, which is interesting, very definitely against the spirit of the rules, and possibly against the letter of them if Jackson received an official offer letter.

In any case, the next two months figure to be somewhat bumpy.

[/editor]

Etc.

Dave Birkett of AnnArbor.com interviews a couple of recruiting experts about Michigan's class thus far. Tom Lemming seems to be a bit higher on it than Allen Wallace of Scout. Both agree that it's a solid class, but won't contend with the nation's best. Lemming is very high on Cullen Christian, and both of them really like Gardner, because he's awesome.