Army/Underarmor Game Roundup

Submitted by Brian on January 6th, 2009 at 11:03 AM

Oh my God. Three things combined to make this past week the most frenetic in MGoBlog recruit-trackin' history: Will Campbell, the rise of the UA game as a thing you have to pay attention to, and a flood of articles released for free on both games. Today I'm going to dump about 5k words on recruiting on you; I've split things up into two groups.

This is group one: scouting reports and impressions from the seven committed recruits who participated in All-American festivities over the past week. (There were actually eight but the Will Campbell stuff went in the Will Campbell post.) Group two is a standard, if mondo, version of Tuesday Recruitin'. That's later today.

OL Taylor Lewan

Rivals' Barton Simmons on AZ OL Taylor Lewan:

Lewan's body is still developing but it looks like he has the ability to really be a great offensive tackle. He is lean right now but is extremely long and looks like he has the ability to add weight. Lewan uses his hands well, stays back in his pass set and has the feet for tackle. Lewan will have an extremely high ceiling as he gets stronger and bigger in a college weight program.

Another take from the same guy:

It's hard not to like Lewan's potential at tackle. He is light in the pants right now and he's going to need a couple of years to develop in a college weight program but once he does, he has shown that he has some terrific tools to utilize. Lewan is an athletic tackle with a long frame who looks to be every bit of 6-7. He has good feet and balance and as he gets more weight behind him to allow him to handle power moves, he will be a tough matchup for any pass rusher.

Barry Every's (very similar) take:

ASSETS: Excellent height, long arms, and really athletic feet.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to gain at least 25 to 30 pounds in order to become an effective run blocker.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: His lateral movement and natural knee bend was probably the best of all the linemen on the White team.
CONCLUSION: Lewan has the ideal frame for the strength coaches at Michigan to work with. Lewan is almost definitely redshirt material, but after that watch out. The sky is the limit for this long armed mauler.

This is a consistent chorus: needs a redshirt and might need two years—when he's a redshirt freshman Schilling and Dorrestein will be seniors anyway—but has major upside.

Scout's Brandon Huffman:

"The first person that I saw that really stood out to me was Taylor Lewan," said West Coast Regional Manager Brandon Huffman. "You look at him and you see a guy that is really reminiscent of Jake Long. He's ridiculously athletic. I saw him for the first time at a combine back in May. Physically he is as impressive an offensive lineman as you'll see in the country."

ESPN noted a practice battle between Lewan and Oklahoma commit Justin Chaisson, who had two sacks in the game itself:

It was an athletic draw between White offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and White defensive end Justin Chaisson (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) during one-on-one pass rushing drills, as both players showed great feet and quickness.

On the downside, Lewan's inexperience and lack of size were occasionally mentioned:

First-year offensive tackle Taylor Lewan (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) has exciting upside. Still, his limited experience -- he played D-line for most of his prep career -- is being exposed at times against this level of competition.

All told, it sounds like Lewan was better than expected and should be moving up somewhat in revised rankings.

DE Craig Roh

Every again:

ASSETS: High energy guy that plays with passion. He also has incredibly low pad level at the point of attack.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Needs to add at least 25 more pounds to be an effective run stopper in the Big Ten.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Roh was really quick off the edge and took advantage of the fact that there was no real left offensive tackle on the White team.
CONCLUSION: Roh has a lot of upside but is most likely a redshirt candidate that needs to get bigger and stronger in the Wolverine weight room in 2009.

Some practice notes from ESPN have an approving mention:

Playing next to Brown, Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) has been very disruptive this week with his inside spin move. The heady defensive end showed a nice counter of that by coming back to the outside and having good success against offensive tackle Stavion Lowe (Brownwood, Texas).

Roh then went out and was perhaps the most impressive player in the UA game not named Matt Barkley:

Top Playmaker

TEAM WHITE: Craig Roh – The Michigan commit was constantly pressuring the quarterback. He is great off the edge, he has a big time spin move, and he never slows down until the play is officially dead. He will need to add weight and strength to become better against the run, but he is a pass rush specialist that could make an early impact in Ann Arbor.

Rivals' Jamie Newberg echoed those sentiments:

Roh got better as the week of practice progressed. He had a big first half. Once he gains some size to his frame, watch out.

And the Texas bloggers at Barking Carnival had no reason to mention a kid from Arizona going to Michigan but did anyway:

Craig Roh DE (Michigan)
Straight baller that showed a Dwight Freeney spin on Kelley for a sack and sacked/tackled Russel Shepard in space. Had a handful of QB pressures over the course of the game. Rich Rod got himself a good one.

Roh's pad level was repeatedly mentioned, as he has a unique stance in which he set himself up at nearly the offensive lineman's knees and shoots forward at the snap, which sets up his spin move as OLs are terrified of letting Roh outside of him.

Overall: sounds like a major leap forward for Roh, possibly into the latter half of top-100 lists that he's not too far outside of now.

DE Anthony LaLota


ASSETS: Excellent height, great frame and long arms.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Really needs to work on pad level at the point of attack. He cannot get by on size and strength alone against this level of competition.
WHAT WAS MOST IMPRESSIVE IN PRACTICE: Seems to be a high-effort guy that really wants to get better as a defensive end.
CONCLUSION: Most likely a redshirt candidate next season as he continues to learn his position and acclimate to playing against stiffer competition. His excellent frame is meant for long-term success.

…and that's all, really. LaLota didn't do much in the Army game, and while that's nothing approaching definitive not standing out means he's probably ranked a little high. There was a Lichtenfels mention that he was a "stock down" guy, but that's behind a paywall.

Lalota may slip some in the revised rankings but shouldn't see his fourth star threatened.

WR Jeremy Gallon

Gallon had a very good week despite being the leetlest man in all the land.

Gallon's coach this week is Terry Smith, who you may remember from the Justin King recruiting saga, and he's big (ha!) on Gallon:

At wide receiver, Michigan commit Jeremy Gallon has been far and away the most productive receiver. He has touchdowns catches in each of the practices and has a knack for getting open and sneaking behind the defense. At 5 feet 8, Gallon is small enough to creep through openings and then pop open for the pass.

"He's a pleasant surprise," Smith said. "We knew he was a good athlete but making the adjustment to receiver was always a big question mark. He's scored touchdowns in every practice and he seems to have the knack to get open and make the play."

When Gallon committed out of nowhere he was in the Rivals 100 because one particular analyst (Barry Every) was over the moon about him. He dropped out soon after for good reasons—he's a smurf and he projects to a position he didn't really play in college—but maybe his strong performance in the slot this week sees him re-enter; he's definitely due for a jump up the Scout rankings, where he's a three-star.

Scout's Bob Lichtenfels' take (warning: "stud" deployment):

"I think Gallon is a stud," Lichtenfels said of the 5-9, 175-pound pass-catcher from Apopka, Fla. "I think for Rich Rodriguez, that's the next Darius Reynaud. He doesn't have elite speed, but his quickness and shiftiness is just out of sight."

Gallon was named "best after the catch" by Rivals, which isn't surprising since he was the only slot guy in attendance, and the #10 player on his team:

Gallon was the star of practices all week and was effective in the scrimmage and during the game itself. He is tiny but he has great quickness and he is smart. He knows how to find space between the cornerback and the safety and catches almost everything thrown his way. He'll be a slot receiver at the next level and will be hard to cover, using his lack of size to his advantage.

Gallon's height will always give people an easy out when it comes time to rank someone else ahead of him, but he answered a lot of questions about his ability to play receiver over the week and should be seeing a bump.

CB Justin Turner

Perhaps the weekend's most encouraging development outside of William Campbell's commitment was the excellent play of OH CB Justin Turner. Though Turner got beat by Pat Patterson for a touchdown, he followed that up with a spectacular diving interception at the sideline. More importantly, during the practices he established himself as one of the best corners at the game. That's important, as if Turner struggled and looked like a future safety Michigan would currently have zero committed corners in a year they need two and would probably take three if they can find enough guys they like.

Rivals put him on his team's "hot 11" for his performance during the game:

Turner is a big corner who can move and support the run and he was all over the field in the game. He led the East with seven tackles, had a big interception and helped keep the ever-dangerous Rueben Randle from breaking any big gains. He's a rarity with his combination of size, speed and ball skills at his position.

Lichtenfels again:

"He's a guy from day one that I lobbied for as one of the top four or five safeties in the nation. I actually think after watching him this week that he can play corner. His skill set is just (unique). He can play safety, he's great in coverage, and he'll come up and he'll hit you. He could play cover corner in the Big Ten easily. Every coach in the country wants a guy that's 6-2 and can cover."

Turner was named the #8 player on his team by Rivals:

Turner is a big kid who was forced into playing cornerback for the East and did a very solid job all week. In the game itself he showed off his tackling ability and ball skills and showed he's either going to be a rare corner who supports the run well or a ball-hawking safety who isn't afraid to come up and hit. Either way Michigan gets a steal.

I don't know about "steal," since Turner had offers from Ohio State and many others early, but I'll take a good player. He was also named the #2 tackler at the entire Army Bowl by Rivals.

K Brendan Gibbons

Gibbons was 3/4 on extra points, with the miss a blocked one due to a combination of a poor hold (from Jeremy Gallon of all people) and a missed assignment, and 1/2 on field goals from 35 (the make) and 46. His kickoffs were long, though.

Kickers don't get much attention, but Gibbons did get a scouting report from an unusual source: NJ OL Eric Shrive, a Penn State commit and Army teammate:

Michigan lost kicker Anthony Fera when he decommitted and signed with Penn State a few months back. But Shrive says the Wolverines landed on their feet in the kicking department. Brendan Gibbons is the East kicker, and Shrive said he was teeing the ball up at the opposite 45-yard line and booting the thing through the uprights and onto the running track beyond the field. That's a 65-yarder with some distance to spare.

"Our kicker is nasty," Shrive raved.

Kickers remain a crapshoot; at the very least Gibbons looked the part.

OLB Isaiah Bell

ESPN is much higher on Bell than either Rivals or Scout and they were the only service to mention Bell this week. Here's a small bit from the UA practices:

With the employment of a lot of Cover 3, this week's practice has showcased several safeties playing down in the box over slots -- and looking impressive. Black's Isaiah Bell (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) came into this game with a reputation for his great run-stopping skills, but he has surprised me with his ability to open his hips and turn and run with faster slots.

Put thoughts of safety from your mind, as Bell showed up at 205 and should push 220 by his sophomore year: dude is a linebacker. But he may be one of a new breed of S/LB hybrid sorts that alternate between run-stuffing and covering slots and so forth.


My guess as to the relative stock levels of the guys performing:

  • STOCK UP: Lewan, Gallon, Turner, Roh
  • STEADY: Campbell, Bell, Gibbons
  • STOCK DOWN: LaLota

If the impressions gleaned here are accurate, that's a net uptick in Michigan's recruits with impressive performances from Turner, Roh, and Gallon outweighing the slight disappointment from LaLota. That goes double because LaLota's relatively new to football and most pundits still said he had excellent upside. We'll see when the rating services release their final revamp for the class of 2009 in a couple weeks.



January 6th, 2009 at 11:33 AM ^

it seems that both of the de recruits will redshirt to add weight and pick up skills. what does that do to our depth chart for next year? is carson butler returning next year? i like how we are shaping up for the future but it seems that next year will be sort of slim for us on the d-line.

Yinka Double Dare

January 6th, 2009 at 12:26 PM ^

Butler is gone.

I think given our depth chart Roh will not redshirt and will at least be used as a situational player. I could definitely see him on 3rd and longs coming in as a rush end opposite Graham given his obvious talent for rushing the QB.

Presumably it depends on what the coaches see in practice, which we of course won't know until later.

Rush N Attack

January 6th, 2009 at 11:41 AM ^

(I mean these are Allstar games after all).

He consistently applied pressure on the qb, even when he wasn't getting a sack. Not sure how good those tackles were he was going up against, but they seemed to just downright tackle him a couple times after he beat them.

Lewan looked decent, and moved really well I thought. It seemed like he was trying to get to the second level alot. The thing that struck me about both Roh and Lewan was just how thin they actually looked.

I think Bell showed some pretty good ball skills on one of the pass plays. He was kind of trailing, and jumped with the receiver and broke up the play. That was nice to see.

Justin Turner was in great position to make a play on the pass where Patterson beat him, but Patterson pulled a Braylon, and jumped before Turner did, and kind of blocked JT from getting in the air. He WAS in good position though.

I don't remember LaLota doing anything exceptional, but maybe I just missed it.

Side note: Not sure where Gary Brown is committed (Florida maybe??), but he was unblockable at DT.

West Texas Blue

January 6th, 2009 at 11:51 AM ^

Good recap of All Star games, Brian. No worries on Lalota; once he bulks up and learns his position, he'll be fine. Love the upside on this kid. Excellent past weekend for Michigan recruits plus the addition of the Otter was much needed.

Gary Brown is committed to Florida, btw.


January 6th, 2009 at 12:02 PM ^

All these kids need to bulk up, we better hire a good trainer.

Gallon makes me very excited. Hybrid LB/S make me very excited. I see a plan falling into place. That makes me very excited. So does the otter.

J. Lichty

January 6th, 2009 at 12:08 PM ^

fortunately on the OL we can afford a few redshirts, but there will be freshmen playing on DL this year regardless of whether they need a redshirt or not - we are that thin.

I expect Campbell and Roh both to play this year.


January 6th, 2009 at 1:28 PM ^

...that because of our depth chart, one or both of the DEs will *have* to play. We thought that about our O-line this past year, right? And all 6 of the freshmen held on to their redshirt.

I think we're overestimating these kids' chance to contribute as true freshmen. There's a really good chance that both show up and simply aren't ready to play at this level. We've had two completely shit-kicking pass-rushers the last few years - Brandon Graham and LaMarr Woodley (both 5-stars, I believe). IIRC, Graham was in on a few plays at DT as a frosh but didn't really impress, and Woodley - while making a few plays and making it clear that he was going to develop into a shit-kicking ninja pass-rush demon - was an inconsistent contributor as a freshman.

Unless Roh is as good as Woodley - which is a remote possibility (wooooooo!) - I think we'll need to wait at least a year for him to play any meaningful snaps.


January 6th, 2009 at 2:33 PM ^

I do not think BG played DT as a frosh. In fact, he was recruited as an ILB.

More importantly, you really can't compare freshman contributing at DE to OL. O line almost never sees guys contributing as true freshmen, it is a very difficult position to do so. DE is a different story. I'm not saying that I think either of our DE guys will get lots of PT this year, but you can't use last year's O line as evidence. Apple and oranges.

Also, the D line sees a lot more rotation than the O line. It's typical for the same 5 guys to play the entire game on the O line. The D line sees a lot of rotation, so it is more important to have depth, even without injuries.


January 6th, 2009 at 12:37 PM ^

We still have Patterson, Banks and Saguesse on the D line that while not stars may hopefully pull a Rondell Biggs and show up for the end of their careers. I still think Ferrara could be asked to move back I thought he was serviceable even as a Sophmore. We'll see.


January 6th, 2009 at 1:05 PM ^

does anyone recall early in the game when the gentle giant fluker was manhandled by a mean and nasty undersized defensive end? just wondering who that was. my guess is either chris bonds or donte moss.

as for gibbons, I recall after the xpoint was blocked someone on the west team tried to return and was smacked down near sideline on a ferocious hit. could that have been gibbons? sorry for not being attentive as I was in a campbell selection haze.

Craven Morehead

January 6th, 2009 at 1:09 PM ^

Interesting phrase choice by the ANALyst. At least he didn't say he's light in the loafers.

My take on Lewan. If his body responds to lifting and he gets bigger and stronger, he's going to make many of us UM fans see a new beast in the #77 jersey not named Long.


January 6th, 2009 at 1:15 PM ^

I don't think Anthony Lolata will ever play a down on D. He needs a RS, our DL depth chart will be much better in '10, and IMO his natural position is on the OL. Having said that, I'm sure he'll have 13 sacks next year.


January 6th, 2009 at 1:58 PM ^

was actually, you know, a game, while the AA game looked like the Westminster Dog Show?

I saw attitude and aggression at the UA game. The AA game looked passive, like a high school Pro Bowl.

I used to think "Who needs another HS all star game? We've already got the Army All Star game." But now, other than the announcements, the AA game is excruciating to watch.

The AA folks better be careful, the UA game is coming on.


January 6th, 2009 at 3:08 PM ^

what really worries me is the possibility that the Wolverines enter the 2009 season with only Threet, Sheridan, Cone and Forcier as the QB options.

Michigan needs a strong second option at QB (and preferably a third) in order for RR to have enough "players to win with".

Why keep Sheridan and Cone on scholarship if they are not going to contribute?


January 6th, 2009 at 4:02 PM ^

is that I question the purpose of Sheridan and Cone on the Michigan roster. If you're going to have someone signal in plays and grasp a clipboard, why not have 2 guys that, at a drop of hat, can make a positive contribution and move the ball forward? There are 85 players on scholarship and 2 of them are wastes of space. And yeah, that is ridiculous.

And to answer your question as to who else plays QB for UM besides Forcier, Steven Threet comes to mind.


January 6th, 2009 at 5:21 PM ^

While I agree the team probably doesn't need to keep both Cone and Sheridan (I would keep Sheridan, since at least he has played a game in this system), going into a season with only a freshman and a sophomore with Exploding Elbow Syndrome is a recipe for disaster. Remember, UCLA wound up playing its 4th or 5th QB by the end of the season because of injuries. Stuff happens, and having backups at the QB position is going to be paramount to any success next year.

West Texas Blue

January 6th, 2009 at 5:24 PM ^

Oops, yeah for some reason that slipped my mind. Threet will be there, of course. Regardless, those two players' (Cone and Sheridan) scholarships aren't a waste of space; we offered them a chance to play football at Michigan and get a education, and they'll stick around to get the education at least even if they don't pan out or contribute. So by your logic, Antonio Bass would be a waste of space since he can't play football anymore and thus can't contribute to the team; should we drop him off scholarship so someone else can take his place? These are kids after all, not professionals.


January 6th, 2009 at 5:13 PM ^

Sheridan came here as a walk-on, so it's possible he could lose his scholarship if we need to give it out. Walk-ons generally understand that if they're lucky enough to be given a scholarship, it's often a temporary thing.

Cone, though, was recruited and offered out of HS. We made a promise to him and until he's been here four years (what has it been? Three?), he should have a right to it. The fifth year doesn't have to be offered, though.


January 7th, 2009 at 1:44 AM ^

Do you have examples of walk on's (particularly at UM or at WVU while RR was there) that got scholarships but then had them taken away?

I've always been under the impression, at least at UM, that once a walk on got a scholarship it wasn't taken away. If the guy gets a scholarship as a junior, it's there when he's a senior.


January 7th, 2009 at 3:40 AM ^

Technically speaking, I'm almost certain that no athlete has a guaranteed scholarship for more than one year and scholarships are offered on a year-to-year basis after the initial offer. However, most programs always give four years to the guys they recruit who display acceptable behavior and grades, usually regardless of their athletic contribution. IMO, this is the way it should be to protect the players and the university's image of the importance of higher education, rather than creating an amateur football factory of sorts.

Saban's Alabama and other programs, as controversially noted on this blog and elsewhere, seem to factor in not only behavior and grades, but also athletic contribution to the team. Non-contributors get canned in one shady way or another. I, for one, am strongly opposed to not renewing a players scholarship for simply not contributing on the field. Cone and Sheridan both deserve their scholarships and have contributed to the team in one way or another, have clearly displayed lawful behavior and represented their university well, and have maintained acceptable academic achievements.

markusr - At the end of the day, UM is not a football factory, it's a university. Like West Texas Blue stated, these students came in thinking they would be offered a chance to play football and graduate from UM and that should be honored as long as they do their part as good students and citizens, which both of these guys are doing. As for the guys being "wastes of space," why have OSU fans to rail on M players when we have fans as good as you?