Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State 2018 Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State 2018 Defense Comment Count

Seth November 23rd, 2018 at 11:57 AM

Previously: The Offense

Resources: My charting, OSU game notes, OSU roster, Bill C profile, CFBstats, 11W Snap Tracker

To be a college football fan in the Midwest in 2018 means moonlighting as Urban Meyer's sideline psychologist. The cameras are all too happy to oblige us, helpfully cutting to our patient's emotive state after every important event, capturing our client exhibiting all manner of worrying behaviors. He squats. He runs his hands through his hair. He paces. Squats again. Squeezes his face. Buries it in his hands. You have to wonder.

Since I happen to be married to an actual Psychologist I showed her the tape I've been analyzing for weeks, and asked the thing we've all been thinking since Brett McMurphy slimed through a noxious fissure named Zach Smith and revealed what's beneath the program that has owned our league since 2012: Does Urban Meyer look like he's losing it?

I'll spare you the professional details but the gist of her diagnosis was 1) Except in literally the most extreme case of megalomania with narcissistic personality disorder ever recorded, it's impossible to make a clinical diagnosis by watching a person on television, and 2) That's exactly what I look like when I watch Michigan.

Man Watches Sports is a controlled mental disorder. Our fake association with the outcome of a meaningless competitive event decided by randomness and an unequal system of advantages does in fact serve a few purposes. It's a way to belong, and a way to feel unmitigated success in a complex world where the payoffs of victory are abstract and delayed. The losing is good for a different reason: It is a way to break from the constraints of our rational lives and practice being in a state of distress. Your human brain is not wired to believe, on any given Friday, that today is the day you'll lose your livelihood, lose your dog, lose your dad, or find out your best friend at work has to retire at 30 from a disease that the social net doesn't even believe is real. The preparation you put in in practice will show on the field when it's your turn.

That wiring is also the reason that extremely lucky humans tend to mistake felicity for the natural way of things, and pout like spoiled children when they get a small taste of life for everyone else. Ohio State in the Age of Meyer has had it too good. The first time Urban coached The Game the elite athletes he inherited carried pharisaical Tressel off the field. He won a national championship two years later with the all-NFL defense Tressel left him, and a third string quarterback who meritocratically ought to have been starting over the other two. USC got caught lying about the same emolument schemes at the same time, and they're still in Clay Helton Hell to this day.

Urban's record in The Game is both a perfect 6-0, and extremely lucky not to be 2-4, despite a vastly superior team in all but one contest. Last year he again got ham blasted in every aspect of coaching except the recruitment of third string quarterbacks. It's no wonder that a man so favored by fortune should think he could tell bald-faced lies about the garbage assistant he covered for for years, then squeal at the unfairness of it all when the failed institution he so thoroughly corrupted could only get his fireable offense reduced to a week's vacation and three days off from televised therapy.

It's also the reason that Ohio State fans—including Meyer—are doing so much Man Watches Sports this year. Their offense, though schematically closer to the modern NFL than the college game Urban helped shape, is just as lethal as ever. This bad new feeling that's got Buckeyes pacing their living rooms and sidelines is all about having to work through what the common man's defense feels like. It's not a disaster like, say, Michigan's offense last year. Ohio State is 52nd in scoring defense, and 38th in S&P+, in a word: average. They've got a hole at boundary safety, and not quite enough first-class mercenaries trained up to cover for it.

But they're also already a lock to finish at least a game-and-a-half over their expected win total by coming out ahead in two coinflip games and two more dice rolls where they had to get a three or higher. One more catchable throw by a backup QB last week and Michigan's already the Champions of the East while Ohio State fans are left to grumble that the receiver was only open because an offensive lineman blatantly blocked his coverage. Every other sports fan outside of Alabama knows exactly what that's like; an Ohio State student today believes misfortune is having to spend a year with Luke Fickell in charge. Roll a five or a six tomorrow and the super-privileged will get to parade around in their gold pants yet again.

Probabilities, however, cannot account for individual mental states, nor the result of long-developing processes when the payoff has been artificially delayed. Judging by the last three years, Harbaugh's best offensive gameplan in 2018 will be tomorrow's, and the entire arc of his program has been toward preparing this year's charges to play the best game of their careers. That's no guarantee of a win—Michigan remains one snap away from another third-string quarterback, Runyan and JBB/Stueber get another elite edge test, and the interior of Warinner's reclamation project hasn't faced a pair of DTs of this caliber since their 2017 Orange Bowl practices.

I'm terrified, as any sane Michigan fan ought to be given the circumstances. But given what I've seen of Ohio State's defense on film, rationally, I think it's time that the Buckeyes to get some practice for life's real disasters.

The Film: Indiana because I wasn't going to waste last week actually watching Indiana, and Maryland because it's the most recent game against the most recent personnel, and because Maryland's offense is built around a running quarterback in an advanced, condensed, whipsaw scheme that mercilessly tests your assignments, and has to live with an offensive line of basically five guards. I also watched the rest of their games this year in the course of being a Big Ten football person.

The diagram:

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PDF Version, full-size version (or click on the image).

The Charting:

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[the breakdown after THE JUMP]

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Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State Defense

Fee Fi Foe Film: Ohio State Defense Comment Count

Seth November 23rd, 2017 at 12:00 PM

[Author: sorry. Previously: Ohio State Offense]

You can’t take the sky from me.

Ohio State is everything wrong with America. While most hardworking football teams have to struggle day-in and day-out to make ends meet opposing quarterbacks, the Buckeyes have so much wealth they can leave most of it cooling on the sideline, chatting with the next wave of 5-stars and Bosas. They won’t even let any of it trickle out to the NFL or, like, Cincinnati. Three out of the seven hellbeasts they rotate through on the defensive line turned down this year’s NFL draft, and a fourth would be a top-five pick next April except he’s still too young to go.

With national economy-breaking riches up front, they can afford to play a ton of Cover 1 and Man 2 low—coverages that jam the middle of the field with fast players and take advantage of their natural athletic advantages over everyone they play on the outside. You can’t run on them or pass deep because of that line. You can’t spread ‘em out and throw short because they’re up in your grill and expecting it, and anyway you’re only getting to one read before a DE has turned the corner and your pocket’s bulged inward from a snap-jumpin’ Leviathan.

So how the hell did Iowa’s offense drop 38 points on these guys? For one they got to go a half and a drive with Bosa out for targeting. They also got a friendly flag. And their quarterback had an uncanny ability to shrug off tackles, going so far as to set up and throw a form TD pass with Sam Hubbard hanging on his leg the whole time. And most of all their offensive line held up in pass pro long enough for him to hit drags and comeback routes. None of this is relevant to Michigan starting John O’Korn and a right side of the line that couldn’t pass pro against Minnesota.

What is relevant is the week after Iowa, the Buckeyes held Brian Lewerke to an 11.5 QBR and 3 yards per dropback by accidentally fixing their one glaring defensive issue (they had a spacebacker playing middle linebacker). I watched both games, and while I’d love to tell you we’re too pretty to die on Saturday, the main takeaway here is Ohio State’s defense has it so Alabama-good these days they don’t even recognize how Alabama-despicable they’ve become.

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Personnel: My diagram gets bigger with a click, and requires explanation:

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#higdonis>

Last year at this time I told you Ohio State’s defense this year was going to be a lot like Michigan’s defense last year. Had they not lost some guys early to the NFL that would be true. It’s still mostly true, especially up front; their second team front seven would probably be a Top 10 national front seven.

Part of that is they’re not starting their best front seven. DE Nick Bosa isn’t a “starter” in only the most technical sense—see: Mo Hurst last year—despite being their best player to PFF and the eye test. Backup NT Robert Landers, a scrappy-ass, undersized muck-a-muck, is again behind a more ballyhooed space-eater—this year it’s Godin-like Tracy Sprinkle instead of Michael Hill (who’s all but disappeared), but any crucial down will see Landers (#67) in, and for good reason. The other backup DE Jalyn Holmes came back for a fifth year despite plenty of NFL interest, and has barely any drop-off from last year’s B1G DL of the Year Tyquan Lewis.

The main weakness all season was they moved extraneous spacebacker Chris Worley to MLB, and he’s not one. With their two starting OLBs (Booker and Baker) missing time in the last few weeks, Ohio State moved Worley back to WLB and played MLB Tuf Borland, a 2016 high four-star who played for friend of the blog Todd Howard in high school. Worley is listed first in the “OR” and I imagine they’ll play him at WLB in their 4-4 look; Borland is the better fit.

Against MSU and Illinois they also played a freak athlete, true sophomore Malik Harrison, as their TE-destructor SAM spot. Harrison is now listed as a co-starter on OSU’s official depth chart, and I didn’t even have room for him on my diagram. The starters at OLB are Dante Booker and Jerome Baker. Both are Viper types; Booker would have been the starter last year but for an early season injury. Baker who’s about 20 pounds lighter, was a PFF fave-rave last year as a sophomore. Neither have any trouble keeping up with backs—Baker can “get skinny in the hole” as the coaches say, but he had some trouble with fullbacks in his first go-round.

The safeties are the weakest point. SS Damon Webb is a quasi-nickelback who’s solid at run fits but remains a liability in coverage. FS Jordan Fuller is not the superior athlete Malik Hooker was. They’ll sometimes replace him with Erick Smith, who’s more of a run-stopper. I imagine if Michigan’s going heavy Ohio State will prefer to remove one of these guys to get Booker, Baker, Worley, and Borland all on the field at once. CB Denzel Ward is one of the fastest players in OSU history—he got bodied by Simmie Cobbs in the opener and has been lights out since. The other corner spot rotates between Damon Arnette and JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield, both of whom rely on elite athleticism, which for Big Ten passing games is plenty.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown. Or don’t and go be with your family.]

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Friday Recruitin' Checks Frequent Flyer Miles

Friday Recruitin' Checks Frequent Flyer Miles Comment Count

Ace August 8th, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Mike Weber: Class Rankings Impact

After securing a commitment from four-star Cass Tech RB Mike Weber on Wednesday night, Michigan is at or near the top of the board on the recruiting services when it comes to the pure quality of their commits (taking quantity, admittedly also an important factor, out of the equation). The Wolverines are tied with Alabama at #1 in average star rating on Scout (3.90) and they're third on both Rivals (behind Bama and USC) and the 247 Composite (ditto). This is especially impressive given a kicker represents a full 10% of Michigan's class, and while Andrew David is a highly regarded kicker, specialists are lucky to get even two stars on the recruiting sites—that's what David merits on the 247 Composite.

With ten commits in a class that should get up to just 14-16 players, Michigan won't land atop any of the team rankings—for good reason, as quantity does matter—but that doesn't mean they're not doing well there, either. Weber's commitment shot them up six spots to #19 in the composite rankings, the highest placement of any program with ten or fewer commits. Florida is next in the ten-or-fewer club at #29, and then you have to scroll down a good deal to fine Ole Miss and Oklahoma at #42 and #43, respectively. Make no mistake: Brady Hoke is once again putting together a really good class, and it may be his most impressive to date when factoring in the preceding season.

Another One Coming?

Above is four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro, whom you can watch obliterating his teammates in practice if you click through to Gerry Hamilton's Twitter—including him lining up at running back(!) in the Oklahoma drill. Roseboro has long been thought to be a Michigan lean, though he's mentioned in the past that location would play a factor in his recruitment, as family is very important to him. When Roseboro talked to Scout's North Carolina outlet on Wednesday, he gave a very positive indication that this won't affect Michigan's standing one iota ($):

According to Roseboro, location won’t factor into his decision.

My parents, they’re going to come wherever I go,” Roseboro said. “We’ve already talked about that. They said, ‘Don’t go somewhere just because you don’t think we’re not going to make it. We’re going to be at every game.’ They’re in a position where they can do that.”

The UNC guy then asked a bunch of questions about whether Roseboro could be a package deal with fellow North Carolinian D-linemen Shy Tuttle and Jalen Dalton, both of whom are also announcing in the near future—they all hold UNC offers. Roseboro basically dodged those questions. This may be why...

Sam Webb has a "gut feeling" about ANOTHER recruit.

Yes, he's referring to Roseboro—you can hear it for yourself on the WTKA recruiting roundup from yesterday (segment 3, 5:40 mark). Roseboro will announce his decision on August 29th at 2:30 pm. If he commits, expect that Hello post to go up quickly.

KLS: Michigan Is "My Favorite School"

Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South broke down his top five schools to Rivals' Adam Gorney; I'll let you compare the Michigan and UCLA quotes yourself ($):

"I love the program," Lucier-South said. "It's my favorite school. The tradition there is insane. I've been watching them since I was a little kid. I can feel the vibe over there and that's why I chose them as my first official visit, too. I want to check it out. I really love Michigan right now."

The two Pac-12 schools are definitely major players. Lucier-South absolutely loves the UCLA staff and Oregon has impressed him with the comparison they're making about him.

"I really like (UCLA) because of the coaching staff and the tradition there," Lucier-South said. "It's a winning program there now. I see them building a winning program there. They were my first big offer, too, and I really respect that and that's why I really like UCLA right now.

That looks pretty promising, even if you interpret it as Lucier-South saying Michigan was his favorite school to root for growing up, and not necessarily the favorite in his recruitment. Oregon is a team to watch here—they're looking at him as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he seems quite open to that possibility.

Etc.

After visiting Michigan with teammate Mike Weber on Wednesday, four-star 2016 Cass Tech CB Lavert Hill told Steve Wiltfong "it feels so good" to be in Ann Arbor when he visits, and he's "looking forward to going to their games" in the fall ($). It'd be very surprising if the younger brother of current U-M safety Delano Hill doesn't end up at Michigan sooner or later.

Four-star 2016 IL LB TUF BORLAND told Scout's Eric Rutter that he's close to an offer:

“Actually at the end coach Mattison came up to me and said you’re really close to an offer,” said Borland. “That was exciting to hear. They said they’re really excited for having me up and they’re looking forward to the future and seeing us grow and get better and improve.” 

TUF's lone offer right now is from Illinois, and he says he's "sure there will be another" visit to Ann Arbor in his future; I like Michigan's chances if/when that offer comes through.

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Monday Recruitin' Races To First

Monday Recruitin' Races To First Comment Count

Ace July 28th, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Cole Commits, Plans To Enroll Early

Michigan's BBQ at the Big House proved a success even before meat hit grill when Saginaw Heritage WR/DB Brian Cole committed to the Wolverines on Saturday, becoming the ninth commit in the 2015 class and giving U-M a big head-to-head win over MSU for the top-ranked player in the state. Multiple outlets report that Cole will start out as a slot receiver in Doug Nussmeier's system, though with his size and athleticism he'll likely move around the formation a bit.

Cole didn't head into his weekend visit with plans to commit, but he told MLive's Nick Baumgardner the visit changed his mind:

"But everything felt right, everything felt like home," the Saginaw Heritage football star said Saturday. "This morning, I just felt it. Instead of wasting time going to the other schools, I just wanted to end it. This just felt like the place I wanted to be."

Fellow Saginaw native Roy Manning played a huge role in Cole's commitment—in the same article, Cole said "it seemed like I've known him my whole life." While the jury's obviously still out on Manning as a cornerbacks coach, there's no question he's a heck of a recruiter.

Cole also plans to enroll early, which should assuage fears that his commitment won't stick. His pledge moved Michigan up to fifth in the Big Ten (#29 nationally) in the 247 Composite team rankings, even though the Wolverines are tied for the fewest number of commits in the conference. Michigan's average prospect rating is best in the conference and sixth nationally, behind only Alabama, USC, Texas A&M, UCLA, and Florida.

#BBQMaizeRace Produces Leader: Michigan


Could Marcus Lewis (second from L) join Garrett Taylor (back) in the Michigan secondary? (photo via Taylor)

Michigan added some excitement to the BBQ this year with the introduction of the #bbqmaizerace, in which the recruits on campus were split into teams and had to run around campus, Amazing Race-style, to take photos at various campus landmarks. The race played out on Twitter, which proved to be an excellent recruiting tactic—at least one major target who wasn't in attendance took notice of the new twist on a campus tour:

The event also made a major impact on the prospects in Ann Arbor, of course, especially 2015 four-star DC CB Marcus Lewis, who entered the weekend as a Florida commit. Lewis struck up a friendship with fellow corner Garrett Taylor, and after the visit he made it pretty clear he could see himself lining up across from Taylor in the future, per Sam Webb ($):

Garrett Taylor… by far I definitely connected with him the most,” he said.  “We spent a lot of time together.  (We) just did different things and talked about different stuff.  He is a good kid.  We didn’t always talk about football.  We talked about school... just different types of things.  You could tell he is a really good kid, so we’re definitely going to get along.

That last statement may not be a slip of the tongue. While Lewis hasn’t yet made a final decision on which school he’ll ultimately attend, he has made a decision about where Michigan now stands on his list.

They’re definitely high,” Lewis said of the Maize & Blue.  “They’re at the top.  They’re right at the top.

Lewis told Webb that Michigan, Oregon, and Miami are now the three schools he plans to take official visits to—in fact, that's his new top three, in order, per 247's Ryan Bartow($)—and "that will probably be it" before he makes a fall decision. Unsurprisingly, given the above, it didn't take Lewis long to end his commitment to Florida:

Even if a commitment isn't imminent—Lewis told 247 that he wants to take his officials before making another pledge—Michigan looks to be in really good shape here.

That may not be the case with three-star Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson, who was considered by most insiders as a Michigan State lean heading into his BBQ visit. If that's true, Michigan looks like they'll be runners-up in this particular race, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):

“(Michigan is in the) same position as before I guess,” Thompson said.

“I’ve been thinking about everything (with my recruitment) these past couple days,” Thompson added.

Asked directly if he feels ready to make a decision and knows where he wants to go to school, Thompson answered swiftly.

“Yes,” he said.

While it was encouraging that Thompson made it to the BBQ before he announced his decision—a date/time hasn't been set yet, but one should come soon—either Michigan was in much better shape than most thought or he's headed to State.

Michigan did come out of the weekend still looking very strong for NC four-star SDE Darian Roseboro, who'll decide in about a month, as well as LA three-star WDE Jalen Bates, who told Webb that Michigan is "definitely" in his top five now ($).

BBQ: Weber Makes The Trip

In an encouraging sign for Michigan, Cass Tech RB Mike Weber took an early flight back from an unofficial to USC in order to make the BBQ. Weber pulled in a Trojans offer while out west, and they'll be a factor in his recruitment moving forward, as they made the top five list he gave GBW's Josh Newkirk after the BBQ ($):

After his visit to Michigan on Sunday, where does U-M stand in his recruitment?

“I would say they are still in my top-five,” Weber said of the Wolverines. He said Ohio StateMichigan StateWisconsin and USC round out his top-five.

Tennessee had previously been in his top five; the other four schools remain the same. While USC could definitely be a threat, the feeling surrounding Weber's recruitment is still that this is a Michigan-MSU battle, and the Wolverines seem to be building some serious momentum.

The Trojans already made a serious mark on Michigan recruiting last weekend, as they landed the consensus top player in the state's 2016 class, four-star Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker Daelin Hayes. Hayes received his USC offer while on an unofficial visit and jumped on it immediately.

BBQ: 2016 Commit Watch?

2016 Philadelphia (PA) Timber Creek four-star WR Cameron Chambers spent the weekend in Ann Arbor, and following the visit he's ready to make a decision, per 247's Steve Lorenz:

2016 Top100 wide receiver Cameron Chambers confirmed to Wolverine247 that he will release a top five on Monday and then will make his college decision on Friday.

Ohio State was considered the favorite heading into the visit, but the timing of the announcement—right after Chambers spent two days in Ann Arbor—is encouraging for Michigan. He announced his top five today and both schools made the cut, along with Alabama, Michigan State, and Wisconsin.

BBQ: Cass Tech Updates

Four-star Cass Tech DL/OL Michael Onwenu almost missed the trip to Ann Arbor, but thankfully his coaches and teammates knew he'd be getting good news and lit up his phone, per The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan ($):

"I was actually asleep, and I had forgotten I was supposed to go to Michigan today," he said. "Since Coach Crowell and the other guys [Donovan Peoples-Jones, LaVert Hill, and Mike Weber] blew up my phone I had an idea the offer was coming."

...

"The offer is for DL," he said. "Coach Hoke offered personally, and wants me to play the nose. He said I did great at the camp. I was light in my feet and my burst and strength is amazing. Even though he said that, I thought I could've done better.

As someone who once slept through a midterm because I confused the dates... I know that feel, Michael.

Michigan offered Onwenu's teammate—and the younger brother of current U-M S Delano Hill—four-star CB Lavert Hill last week, and he told Wiltfong he had a "great time" at the BBQ ($). Ohio State also joined the fray with an offer last week, though confidence is high that Michigan will land Hill sooner or later.

Joining Onwenu and Hill—as well as Weber—on campus was standout 2017 Cass Tech WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, who should turn into one of the state's top prospects in his class. While Michigan hasn't yet put forth an offer, Ohio State, Miami (YTM), Penn State, and a few others already have.

BBQ: More 2016 Reactions

Michigan also got a major in with top-50 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson, arguably the most coveted lineman in the Midwest, when his older brother Jack committed to the baseball program while both visited campus over the weekend. Ben told 247's Steve Wiltfong that the family trip to Ann Arbor was a great one:

"We are really excited [about Jack's commitment]," Bredeson said.

The football staff at Michigan was excited to see the 6-foot-4, 255-pound Bredeson back on campus, and no question they were pumped about the elder Bredeson committing to the school. It certainly can't hurt their chances with Ben, who had another positive experience in Ann Arbor.

"It was amazing as usual," Bredeson said. "I love coming here."

Michigan will get plenty of competition from Ohio State and Wisconsin, but only one of those schools has Bredeson's brother headed their way—we'll see how big a factor that plays as Ben's recruitment moves forward.

Another top-50 overall prospect, IL SDE Josh King, told Wiltfong that the trip was "amazing" and surpassed any of his previous visits ($):

King has been on a few visits to places like Iowa and Notre Dame but this was his favorite trip thus far.

"I'd have to say so," King started in. "The coaches were real. It seemed like the place to be. Just the overall experience."

Michigan also made inroads with a pair of four-star 2016 Indiana prospects. Four-star DE Auston Robertson pulled in an offer while at the BBQ, then gave his reaction to Wiltfong:

"Man it was great I got the offer," Robertson told 247Sports after leaving campus. He made the trip with friend, fellow 2016 four-star and major Michigan target in Top100 receiver Austin Mack.

"I love the coaching staff, but I'm going to stay humble and wait everything out with Austin."

Mack, who earned an offer earlier this summer at Michigan's camp, told Scout's Allen Trieu that 2016 U-M QB commit Messiah deWeaver is "my dude" and discussed the possibility of playing with Robertson at the next level ($):

"Yeah it's something that's definitely a key factor. We'd love to. Right now I'm talking with other schools to talk to him. We will work together to see if it's the right thing for us to do but we would love the opportunity to play together, so we'll see how that goes."

Package deals fall through more often than not, but for now this gives Michigan a solid recruiting pitch for both Robertson and Mack.

Four-star IL OLB TUF BORLAND also was in attendance at the BBQ, and while his offer list—Illinios and UMass—doesn't yet match his rankings, he feels that Michigan could help change that soon, per Sullivan ($):

"The visit went well," he said. "They said that they were really excited to have me up there, and they're really close to offering. They just said to keep doing what I'm doing, and that they'll be around my school soon."

Borland has been to U-M multiple times and only plans on visiting Illinois before his junior season begins; the Wolverines would have a very good shot with him if an offer comes through.

BBQ: 2017 (AHHHH) Update

2017 OLSM LB Josh Ross isn't getting pressured to commit yet, according to his father, but based on the vibe he gets in Ann Arbor it'd be a surprise if he didn't eventually suit up in Maize and Blue, per Allen Trieu ($):

"It's almost to the point come to those deals, especially Coach Mattison, we always see him, we always talk. We don't get into too much depth, just little stuff. Everybody comments on his size (6-2, 210) because the dude is so much bigger. Looking at him and he looks like somebody else, he doesn't look like my kid."

"It's like home up there," [father James Ross Sr.] added. "Not to say that's how we'll go with it, but with that group of guys up there, there's no pressure. It's family. It's how they do it. It's always laid back. They know and respect what kind of athlete he is."

Despite Daelin Hayes' commitment to USC, Ross is the reason I'll be scouting games at a blood-red field for the next few seasons.

Everything Non-BBQ

Happy trails to three-star 2015 Cass Tech DL Joshua Alabi, who committed to Ohio State at their Friday Night Lights event over the weekend. While Michigan offered Alabi relatively early in the process, mutual interest between the two seemed to wane over the last several months.

While 2015 NC DE Kengera Daniel didn't end up making the BBQ, he told Scout's Michael Clark that Michigan is one of the schools he's seriously considering ($):

“Right now, the main schools I’m looking at are Tennessee, Michigan, Miami and Alabama,” said Kengera Daniel. “Those aren’t necessarily my top schools, but those are the schools I’ve been looking at the hardest. Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky still have a chance, too.

Daniel plans to take all five officials; Michigan is fighting for one of three spots there, as he's already reserving two of those for Tennessee and Alabama.

OT commit Erik Swenson came in at #70 on the initial 2016 Rivals100.

For the love of all things sacred and holy, somebody please do this with a baby wolverine.

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Thursday Recruitin' Never Lost That Loving Feeling

Thursday Recruitin' Never Lost That Loving Feeling Comment Count

Ace February 27th, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Damien Harris: Not Gone, Gone, Gone, Woooooaaaahhhh

Sam Webb caught up with Damien Harris's mother in the wake of the former commit's visit last weekend; she had very positive things to say about Doug Nussmeier, and it sounds like her son still has Michigan on top ($):

“It was the same comfort,” Ms. Harris reported.  “I know for me it was.  I really haven’t gotten a chance to sit down with Damien and discuss it (at length) because he has been in school and practice since we got home.  I did ask him (Monday) night, ‘did the feelings come back that you had initially with Michigan?’  He was like, ‘the feeling never left.  I never loss [sic] any of the feeling that I had for Michigan.’

In fact, Ms. Harris went on to say that she believes her son's recruitment is a Michigan-OSU battle and the good guys have the edge. There are several visits yet to come—Alabama, Florida, FSU, Miami, and Wisconsin all got mentions—and a long way to go until Signing Day, when Harris now plans to announce his decision. Still, this is a very positive sign, and per 247's Steve Lorenz, Harris may be back on campus in the near future ($):

"I haven't talked to Damien about it yet, but I believe we will be back up in the spring, and possibly the summer too," [Ms. Harris] said. "There are other schools he's looking to visit right now, and if we're not able to make it during the off-season, we will be up for at least one game."

All indications since Harris's decommitment have been that Michigan is still his favorite school and he just wants to utilize the entire recruiting process to check out other schools and ensure he makes a well-informed decision. In my opinion, nothing has changed there; if anything, Harris developing a relationship with Nussmeier has only strengthened Michigan's position.

Speaking of top 2015 targets, in-state four-star ATH Brian Cole also visited over the weekend, he told Tim Sullivan what he's looking for in his recruitment ($):

"I'm just trying to find the truth," he said. "That's basically it, just trying to find the truth, see who's real and not real. I don't know how I'll figure it out.

"Everybody's even. Everybody's No. 1 right now."

Michigan State and Michigan have been his presumed leaders for a while, with the Spartans seemingly holding the edge. Cole had to cancel a planned trip to Wisconsin recently that he plans to reschedule; he's also fielding increased interest from Alabama and could visit there, too.

[Updates on Michigan's 2015 defensive back commits, a look at U-M's options at linebacker, and more after THE JUMP.]

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Thursday Recruitin' Was Born A Linebacker

Thursday Recruitin' Was Born A Linebacker Comment Count

Ace February 13th, 2014 at 4:11 PM

Damien Harris Visiting, U-M Still Leader

Next weekend's Michigan State game will double as a de facto Junior Day for the football team, and 247's Steve Lorenz confirmed a big-time visitor will be in attendance—one-time Michigan commit Damien Harris:

It will be Harris's first unofficial visit to Michigan since the Notre Dame game last fall, making it his first appearance since stepping back from his early commitment to the Wolverines. His mother has publicly stated that Michigan is still the top school for her son and that he just wants to re-evaluate his options.

Harris took an unofficial to Ohio State—his first visit anywhere in months—for the Michigan game and tweeted out some support for the home team. His coach, however, said U-M is still the team to beat:

Harris' high school coach at Madison Southern (Ky.), Jon Clark, told Rivals.com earlier this week that the Wolverines are still No. 1 on the list for the top running back in the class of 2015.

"Michigan is still his top school, but he wants to make sure," Clark told the site. "He's open to looking."

While Harris is still picking up offers—Auburn, Miami (YTM), and Wisconsin all entered the post-decommitment fray—this looks to be a classic Michigan-OSU battle with the Wolverines, at least for now, holding the edge.

[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of new offers, weekend visitors, and more.]

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