Exit Austin White

Submitted by Tim on August 22nd, 2010 at 2:12 PM

AustinWhite_MShirt.jpgMichigan's 2010 recruiting class is now down a fourth member, as spring enrollee Austin White is no longer with the team. When he wasn't listed on the Media Day roster, I asked Michigan Football spokesman Dave Ablauf about it, and his answer was short and sweet: "That's permanent." Coach Rich Rodriguez expanded a bit in his statements to the media:

"Austin White is no longer in the program. So, we wish him well, we'll help him in that regard, but we're - he's no longer part of the Michigan football family.

From the tone of both Ablauf and Rodriguez's remarks, it sounds like the decision was more in the hands of the program than White himself.

Fortunately for me, I spent most of last fall following White around, so here are some highlights of his senior season of high school:

As for impact on the program, it shouldn't be a big factor. White was a lock to redshirt in 2010, and even then he was looking up at several players on the depth chart. Michigan can fill the void his departure creates in 2011 and 2012 recruiting.



August 22nd, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

I agree. However, it is not like this is the end of the world when a player transfer due to being buried on the depth chart. Heck I greatly prefer the way Austin went out compared to milking it for a year like Turner. 

The crux of the issue comes down to Rich running a boot camp atmosphere vs. Lloyd's country club. In businesses and in sports, competition drives excellence. Therefore, I am zero percent worried about transfers on this team.


August 22nd, 2010 at 10:24 PM ^

1 player is not a problem for us-four is. We literally have no depth at any position other than arguably, RB and WR. And IMO the way RR runs a boot camp atmosphere is NOT the crux of the matter. The debate is whether RR is taking chances on too many kids that are backfiring on him, thus unnecessarily handicapping the rebuilding process we are in. I'm not taking a side on that issue because I'm not sure actually, but to boil it down to country club vs. boot camp, and to not seem to think it matters, is mistaken.


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:35 PM ^

that bust their ass and want to be here, those are the people I want on this team. Look at schilling, omameh, and martin, these guys are 300lb of solid muscle.

For running backs and dbs to be out of shape is just ridiculous.

Any violation of team rules is stupidity on the part of the player. He was given a chance and a scholly that is worth somewhere around $100K. if you cant get motivated off of that then I'm glad he was shown the door.

Nothing against him, best of luck elsewhere.


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:44 PM ^

Kids have been leaving UM and every program forever.  We just hear about it more now.  Good luck to Austin, but its not a big loss for UM.  One more scholarship for someone who wants it, and appreciates it.


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:52 PM ^

Teams have lost players during camp for years.  I think the biggest difference is the access to information.  20 years ago, there would not have been an interview with media during fall camp and instant posting on the internet if a freshman was kicked off or left the team? 

It's good to rememeber that society and technology has changed as well as personnel.


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:53 PM ^

It is important for team morale that a guy who does not hold the rope not be allowed to slide along.  If you allow 1 guy to violate the rules, what is that telling everyone else?


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

you young Mr. White,  I hope you land somewhere that is  a good fit for you and your team. And thus far it is good for you did not trash the team on your way out.


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:56 PM ^

Figured I would stop by the RCMB board just to see how much Sparty is celebrating, and was not disappointed.  The first post was to update the Roridguez'd page.  Just a bunch of fans who can't focus on their own team.  


August 22nd, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^

Meh, coaches probably won't care that much if RR wins.  I'm sure MSU will point out that White was kicked off the team, but I also suspect the coach fraternity in the state will know the reasons (I have no idea what it is, but it sounds like repeated violations of team rules) and will base their judgments on that.  For all the negative press surrounding UM the past few years, MSU really hasn't made inroads in-state except for a couple of kids who everyone kind of expected would go to MSU.  If MSU cannot pull in better classes than the past few with how down UM has been, then I think we can all see the ceiling for that program. 


August 22nd, 2010 at 8:33 PM ^

the top ten recruits in the state of Michigan would not crack the top ten lists of Texas, Florida, California, Ohio, etc. Why curtail ourselves in terms of talent by only targeting MI recruits?

MSU can have the recruits from MI because those are the only players they can pull. Meanwhile we are establishing ourselves down south.


August 22nd, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

There's no shortage of running-backs on the roster and White's departure opens up room for addressing greater needs in next year's (still small) recruiting class. Or, actually, it means that Troy Woolfolk's return won't reduce the size of the class still further. In other words: many worse things have happened to this school in recent weeks, months and, alas years.


August 22nd, 2010 at 4:09 PM ^

I've gotta be honest I'm getting pretty concerned.

Yes, this won't impact us this year.

Yes, this is something we can recover from.

Yes, attrition happens.

BUT....  It's getting to a point now where there's a pattern forming here, of highly regarded recruits - for whatever reason - not panning out.  

Whether we like it or not, that is a problem.  We can wish kids luck, and say, "Those who stay...", all we want when this happens, but, that doesn't change the fact this is a problem.  Whether its a problem of vetting recruits thoroughly, or, developing them once they get here, or, something else altogether, I don't know.  But to pretend like there isn't a problem, at this point, I think is ignoring what's in plain sight.

I dunno.  I guess I wrote a lot without really saying much in this post, but, I'm quite concerned about this.  Not White leaving in particular, but, the larger pattern it's a part of, which seems to be emerging.

Thoughts anyone?

turbo cool

August 22nd, 2010 at 4:19 PM ^

I've heard about past problems with Austin in high school but I do know that he was hanging around certain people in Ann Arbor that weren't necessarily the best influences. They also happened to be around Jerald and Tate quite a bit and it's no coincidence that those three all had wingless helmets to begin camp.


August 22nd, 2010 at 9:28 PM ^

Give them 5-10 years and they will regret wasting one of the biggest opportunities of their lives.  Sad really.  Hope Tate and others get their $hit straight.  I agree this attrition is getting bad, but at least we actually have some depth at RB.  Still I hope this tapers off...more offers for next year I guess..


August 22nd, 2010 at 4:26 PM ^

I never really thought of Austin White as a "highly rated recruit" but you still have a point.  Regardless of how highly rated they are, losing 4 recruits from a recruiting class that just signed their Letters of Intent 6 months ago is too much.  That's the bottom line.  I guess we're somewhat lucky that the other three never enrolled, because at least they don't hurt our APR, but still...this is getting ridiculous.


August 22nd, 2010 at 4:40 PM ^

I wouldn't necessarily count Kinard and Jones in that group, since those guys are technically just going to Juco and then trying to get back on the team.  I do agree that it hurts to see Dorsey and White leave, but I remember kids under Carr who stayed on the team but were buried for a couple of years as they worked through their issues.  So maybe RR just lets them leave and try to find a better situation.  I think the media attention, though, makes it appear like a steady train of departures.


August 22nd, 2010 at 7:12 PM ^

I'd be surprised if Kinard and/or Jones makes it on the team at any point.  Most non-qualifiers head elsewhere.

Regardless, it is a steady train of players leaving.  It doesn't just appear that way.  If you don't believe me, check the APR numbers that Brian posted not too long ago. 


August 22nd, 2010 at 4:36 PM ^

I agree that it appears there is a pattern of highly-recruited guys dropping out, but let's remember a few things:

1.  UM tends to recruit top-ranked kids.  Even the past few "down" years have netted quite a few 4* and 5* kids, so by its very nature guys who leave the program will usually be highly-rated.

2.  There is a natural inclination to remember the kids who leave and forget about the guys who stick around.  Look at the depth chart and you'll quite a few top players who did stick around, but you don't consciously think about them because nobody holds a press conference or a blog post pointing out they are staying.

3.  While a trend certainly exists, there also appears to be a trend in the kids who leave - Turner was apparently out of shape, White violated various team rules, Witty, Dorsey, Kinard, and Cornellius Jones could not make the grade, and Cissoko and Feagin were just bad apples.  Certainly that falls on the coaches to an extent when they recruit, but at some point guys need to man up a bit and follow the rules, work out, study, etc.  Part of me is actually happy that this turnover occurs, since it weeds out the guys who just don't want to be at UM.  Not saying they are bad guys, but why drag it out on both sides and create a poisonous environment.


August 22nd, 2010 at 10:34 PM ^

I agree that this is a problem in the sense that we are not deep and can't afford to lose too many bodies.  But, I don't think that you can say YET that there is a problem with the program until we know all of the facts (if we ever do).  When Bo first got here, juys were leaving left and right and people worried.  But that helped lay the foundation for some of what has made this program great and what many of us love about it.  If White's (and others) departure helps to set a winning tone for the program by setting expectations and raising the bar, then we may look back one day and say that there really wasn't a problem after all.


August 23rd, 2010 at 8:20 AM ^

You may very well be right, which is part of the reason I asked....  I've really only started following M football to a depth where I'm real aware of these things in the past couple years.  (Thanks mainly to this blog)  So, I probably lack the historical perspective of how this compares to Michigan in the past, and also the current perspective on how we compare to other teams in this regard.

But, it sure doesn't look good.  It really seems like there's more attrition than should be and seems to be becoming a pattern.  Maybe I'm wrong, who knows.  At the end of the day all we can really do is trust/hope in the abilities of the coaching staff.


August 23rd, 2010 at 11:13 AM ^

The reason they don't transfer in is the same reason we don't see JuCos but once in a blue moon: the University won't recognize the credits they've earned.

So unless you see an Ivy Leaguer decide he needs to give up his lottery ticket in order to wear the winged helmet, we will continue to not see transfers-in much/ever.  Just like it was under Lloyd, Gary, Bo, Bump.... 

It is a University thing, not a commentary on the coach or the football program.

I Blue Myself

August 22nd, 2010 at 5:14 PM ^

According to Rivals, Rich Rod signed 157 players at WVU from 2002-07, an average of 26.2 per year.  In order to keep under the 85 scholarship limit, he needed an average attrition of about five players per class.  (21.25 players per year * 4 years = 85).  If you want to keep any fifth-year seniors around, you need even more attrition.

By all accounts, Rich Rod runs a very tough program, and that will drive a certain number of players away.  He also seems to sign a lot of players with questionable grades and/or personal histories.  Sometimes, that works great.  For example, Noel Divine, or Pac-Man Jones, who apparently stayed out of trouble while at WVU.  But in some cases, the player will not qualify: Witty, Jones, Kinard.

Right now, it looks like Rich Rod is struggling to make his system work in a more difficult environment.  Michigan signed 123 players from 2002-07, an average of 20.5 per year.  In other words, virtually no attrition is built in.  This may be partly due to tougher admissions standards, so that fewer borderline qualifiers make it in, and some players who might have been admitted at WVU can't get in at Michigan.  (Demar Dorsey may fall into this category.  I haven't heard whether Louisville has finally been able to get him on the roster this year.)  At Michigan, you almost certainly couldn't sign 33 players in a class, as Rich Rod did in both 2002 and 2005.

Rich Rod's long term success at Michigan may very well depend on whether he can make his methods work at Michigan.


August 22nd, 2010 at 8:39 PM ^

Good points but I don't think it's a long term issue.  This is an interim period where we have struggled.  Once we are back to winning - starting next month - the top recruits will again be drawn to the program.

Given the circumstances I think RR has actually done a good job recruiting - the roster is getting where it is supposed to be and it will only get better.


August 22nd, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

Thanks for pulling these stats about signings over the 02 - 07 seasons.  When looking at these numbers, it is important to take into account other factors.  Such as what the state of the program was at the time.  If I am not mistaken, Michigan is still not at the 85 scholarship limit this year, so "running people off" to stay under the limit does not really apply.  I do not know, but Coach Rod could have had the same issue at WVU during that  02 - 07 time.  Likewise, that was still the heart of Lloyd's tenure so it is likely they were running against the 85 limit every year which would lead to smaller classes.

I Blue Myself

August 23rd, 2010 at 12:25 AM ^

I think your point about needing to bring lots of people in seems especially likely in 2002, when he was first getting to the program and probably needed to bring a lot of people in quickly.  Some of them might have been early enrolees.  But he still averaged over 25 recruits per year from 2005-07, when his program was up and running and should have been close to the 85 scholarship limit.

I'm not trying to accuse Rich Rod of doing anything improper while at WVU.  I don't know what was going on at the program at the time, and everything he did might have been totally legitimate.

To me, oversigning is not as problematic when it allows you to take a chance on recruits with a lower chance of qualifying.  I think Rich Rod has done a lot of good over the years giving a chance to kids who might have ended up in a bad place otherwise.  To me, as long as you're honest with recruits that they may have to gray shirt, and you're not forcing current members of your team out to make room for new recruits, it's not morally problematic.

SC Wolverine

August 22nd, 2010 at 11:42 PM ^

It doesn't sound to me like simply oversigning in a calloused sort of way.  It sounds more like RR's philosophy is to run a tough program, demand a ton from young players, and see who has the fortitude to stick it out.  With this in mind, he expects and accepts a few dropouts -- to him, this is how you weed out the moral weaklings.  This is not him being calloused, but rather is RR"s realism about young student-athletes.  This understanding would explain his almost cavalier attitude towards the players who drop out: "They are no longer part of the Michigan football family," etc.  Maybe RR figures that you can't tell enough about a player's emotional fortitude in the recruiting process, so there has to be a testing process early in their college career.  It sounds a bit ruthless, but there also may be something to it, and as people here in the South point out, Rich Rod has always been a winner.  Notice, too, that he doesn't shame the kids who drop out or even show any animosity towards them.  It is what it is, and RR builds this understanding into his recruiting process.


August 23rd, 2010 at 4:51 AM ^

"doesn't sound to me like simply oversigning"

Based on what?

From what you are saying it sounds like RR  takes time and effort to recruit someone, which may include having coaches travel to their schools and homes and visit, etc.,  only to try and push them out of the program once they arrive.   That doesn't make much sense to me. 

Also, I don't think it is fair to describe kids who leave as "moral weaklings."   What, they have no morality because they decide they're not happy here?

SC Wolverine

August 23rd, 2010 at 7:21 PM ^

Hey, I'm not agreeing with him.  I'm just trying to make sense of what I am seeing in RR.  He just seems awfully nonchallant about these departures.  Then you take in the pattern of large classes with built-in attrition at WVU.  Seems to me that his philosophy is to do some weeding in the freshman year.  Notice that you don't hear any talk of RR going the extra mile to help a young guy get over the hump.  Instead, it's "not ready - no wings".  Naturally, there may be lots that we just don't know about -- RR may be doing lots to help these guys, but that is simply not the vibe that he is giving.  As for "moral weaklings" I am not suggesting that they are immoral, but rather that RR may think they lack what coaches used to call "intestinal fortitude."  In all this, I am merely analyzing, not commenting on the virtue of it.


August 22nd, 2010 at 5:15 PM ^

But it's not as though previous classes didn't have their issues. A quick glance at our 2005 class has these names:

James McKinney (might have left due to injury)

Eugene Germany

Chris Richards

Marques Slocum (also listed as member of later class due to inability to qualify)

Mister Simpson

Chris McLaurin

Johnny Sears

Justin Schifano

If you want to throw in the 2004 and 2006 classes, you can include Keaston Cheathem, Marques Walton, Max Martin, Roger Allison, Quinton Woods, Cobrani Mixon, and Quintin Patilla who all left for one reason or another. That's a good number of guys to lose over 3 years.

As soon as I found out about Dorsey's past I thought RR was taking an unnecessary risk in going after him, and it's not as though there weren't issues with AW's character, at least in the eyes of some who supposedly knew him. Hindsight's 20-20, but I wonder if RR will make similar recruiting decisions in the future.

I also wonder if RR is quicker to toss guys than LC was. It's not as though everybody who played for Lloyd was a choir boy, and we're all pretty familiar with the whole "running the steps at 5am" stories about certain players.