Hello: James Ross Comment Count

Tim May 2nd, 2011 at 7:48 AM

BECAUSE THREE LINEBACKERS SIMPLY ISN'T ENOUGH!!! MI LB James Ross has become Michigan's 8th commitment in the 2012 class, and the fourth linebacker. His announcement is happening live on WTKA as we speak (...er, I post?)



Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
4*, #2 MLB 250 Watchlist, NR LB 150 Watchlist, NR ILB 4*, 95, #2 ILB #84 Ovr

The sites, they like this guy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say he's probably the consensus top recruit in Michigan's class right now - he and Royce Jenkins-Stone are typically listed right near each other in-state, but 24/7 Sports is much higher on Ross.

Scout and 24/7 say James is 6-1, but Rivals and ESPN say 6-0. Having seen the kid play in person several times, I would say 6-0 is more likely to be the accurate number. He's also listed between 209 (Rivals) and 217 (ESPN) pounds, with the middle votes cast at 215. Going with the majority, 215 seems to be the appropriate number.

Though none of the premium sites offer evaluations, Scout has a couple free articles talking about his game. The first:

Ross has been as dominant a PAL player the city has had in recent years. He is already pretty filled out for a kid as young as he is and his footwork in drills was quick and fluid.

That's prior to his sophomore year of high school. "As dominant as the city has seen in recent years" puts him on par with or more productive than recent #1s like William Campbell, Lawrence Thomas, and Will Gholston. The next breakdown puts him in the top five most-likely candidates to be the #1 recruit in Michigan's class of 2012:

He may not wow you with pads off like a Lawrence Thomas or Will Gholston, because he does not have the size of those guys, but you put the film on and Ross is arguably the best pure football player in the state. Toughness, big hits, excellent instincts and football smarts. He has all the intangible qualities you want in a middle backer.

That seems to be the book on James: not tall enough to be a true physical specimen, but he makes up for it with his football intelligence and willingness to lay the lumber. Sam Webb's weirdly-NCAA Tournament-themed recruiting column for the Detroit News listed Ross as a 1-seed:

He has all the top colleges looking at him and he is a guy that consistently, from game to game, plays the same way every single play. He fought through injuries in his junior season and demonstrated great toughness in the process. He's 6-1, 215, with good enough speed. His best attribute, though, is he is bona fide football player. This kid thinks the game as well as anyone.

Again with the football intelligence. For the record, Michigan has landed another "#1 seed" (Royce Jenkins-Stone) and a 2-seed (Devin Funchess).


This kid's offer list is something to get very excited about. We'll slowly build, starting with some of his less-notable BCS offers. Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Purdue are some of the middling programs that have offered this kid.

Then, there are the schools that have either had excellent success on the field or on the recruiting trail, specifically with linebackers: Arizona State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and USC. The latter three all have legitimate claims to some sort of mythical "Linebacker U" distinction, and are keynote offers.

He also had interest but no offers from Alabama and LSU, which would have really sealed him as a top prospect.


Scout has numbers from his sophomore year (though they're listed with the wrong dates):

103 tackles, five sacks, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and an interception in his first year of high school football.

I haven't seen any more recent stats for him, but I'll be on the lookout.


None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for James, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.


Junior highlights:

There's also a partial sophomore reel, completed in part 2. You can also catch some glimpses of him in last year's Friday Night Lights feature on Chris Rock. He's fullback/tight end/linebacker #6 in red.


So Michigan has all these linebackers in the past couple classes, and though James seems to be one of the 2012 guys who's most ready to play immediately, all the new depth might mean he doesn't have to. If the coaches want to get the kid on the field, special teams and mop-up duty are an option.

Following a couple years of duty as a special teams and depth player, James should be able to work his way into the lineup as a junior (possibly a redshirt junior), and even have a star turn or two. By the time he leaves Ann Arbor, he could be a multi-year all-conference player. He has NFL potential, as long as teams aren't scared away by his lack of height.


OK, now they really have to be done accepting commitments from linebackers, right? The position is filled with two exceptional recruiting classes over the past two years. Although, especially given the haul in 2012, some of last year's guys may be due for position switches.

After the coaching staff picks up a couple defensive linemen, another good offensive lineman or two, and a quarterback, they should have the luxury of being very picky about who they pursue, and only going hard after the top guys.


Section 1

May 2nd, 2011 at 10:40 AM ^

If he hadn't gone to OLSM, where would Ross have gone to (public) school?  It gets confusing with some of these kids, as to where they are really from, with the implosion of so many high school athletic programs in the State of Michigan, and the attraction of magnet-type programs at OLSM, CC, Rice, DCDS, etc...?

Section 1

May 2nd, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

Working off the original post, questioning whether Ross is 6'0" or 6'1", and whether he is really 209 or 215 (Ross might not know himself, if it is right after breakfast), I'm not sure what "matters."  He might not be any of those numbers by the time he gets to Ann Arbor.

Actually, your telling us that his family moved to W. Bloomfield to be closer to OLSM is pretty good and interesting information; I didn't know that.  So I'm glad I asked, and I thank you for the answer.  I ordinarily wouldn't think that Ross would have had to move, to attend OLSM.  That his family did that is interesting.  I honestly didn't know if he had athletics-minded brothers, or sisters, etc.  Or whether he comes from a family that might have enrolled him at OLSM irrespective of football.  Or whther he's got tiop-rated friends at other non-magnet/private schools.

Somebdody else queried:

All 4-star Linebackers are belong to us.

Congrats and welcome Mr. Ross.  Feel free to call your buddies around Farmington Hills and Novi and let them know there's a new sheriff in town and you'd them to join you as deputies.

See, in the case of the actual Fab Five basketball class, it was kind of relevant that Jalen Rose and Chris Webber might have been friends (teammates?) in the PSL but for the fact that Webber went to DCDS and those kinds of connections are always good for recruting discussions.  I sort of presumed that Jalen Rose was the biggest reason that Webber committed to Michigan.  Bigger than Ed Martin.  An important example of recruiting "synergy."



May 2nd, 2011 at 8:32 AM ^

Q: Is this the best, top-to-bottom, LB recruiting class in the past decade?

Next, as for the concern about decommitments, I get the feeling these guys aren't just commiting to UM.  It sounds like they're joining a family.  It really seems like all of these commits are going to build strong relationships with one another and, as much as possible, current players.  These just feels so much different than guys the past several years (not just RR kids, but Carr kids as well). 

I think guys like Thompson are waiting because they really feel like this is bigger than just a verbal commit.  I think it would go a long way for current commits to reach out to him and build that relationship.

It's very telling to me that so far these are all guys from MI and OH so far.

True Blue Grit

May 2nd, 2011 at 11:20 AM ^

Assuming all sign the papers in February.  I've been following Michigan recruiting closely since the 1970's, and I've never seen a group as good as this one - on paper.  Obviously, we'll see how they develop once they get here.  But, after years of sub-par recruiting at this position, it looks like this coaching staff has recognized the need to turn things around in a big way.  I was extremely impressed listening to Mr. Ross on the radio interview.  He sounds like a very bright young man who "gets it".  I can't wait to see him wearing the winged helmet.  Go Blue!


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:41 AM ^

All 4-star Linebackers are belong to us.

Congrats and welcome Mr. Ross.  Feel free to call your buddies around Farmington Hills and Novi and let them know there's a new sheriff in town and you'd them to join you as deputies.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:43 AM ^

btw, had Woodley been primarily a college LB I would argue that the 2003 class of him, Burgess, and Crable would be the top class of the past decade.  All 3 guys have NFL experience.

If this class of 2012 can have careers like those 3 (although it would be nice if they didn't flounder for much of their college years until late, like Burgess and Crable) then they would be doing very, very well.



May 2nd, 2011 at 8:45 AM ^

BTW, as I noted in the Tom's "Just to let you know" thread, the recruiting guy (Sean Scherer) at Spartan24toLife posted last night at 11pm that Ross was a verbal to us. 

Was he being a douchey bitter rival by letting the cat out of the bag or was it fairly common knowledge that this was going down this morning?



May 2nd, 2011 at 8:53 AM ^

Let me know when "dog bites man".

And from that thread you posted in, I don't think that it was PUBLIC knowledge. Insiders like Tom and Tim may have known...but then they have the class to keep their mouths shut.

But it must hurt to go from hearing all that "dominating the State" nonsense, to completely getting pantsed in recruiting in 3 months.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:49 AM ^

recruit in James Ross. Coach Hoke and Mattison are kicking in the door and taking no prisoners. We are victimizing Msu now and it's sooo funny. Next it's the couple of recruits from Farmington Hills Harrison (msu land) and Terry Richardson and then the WORLD!!!


May 2nd, 2011 at 9:11 AM ^

There is no doubt that Michigan is dominating the in-state recruiting battles this year.   I bet Dantonio is steaming mad about what Hoke and his staff are accomplishing in recruiting so far.  


May 2nd, 2011 at 9:15 AM ^

I bet Dantonio is planning is exit from MSU.  When Hoke resurrects our program, there will be nothing left for State.  He's a pretty good coach, he has already put in his time at the lower-tier school, and is probably looking to move up to a top flight school soon.  I still say that he would be the top candidate for OSU when Tressel resigns at the end of the season.


May 2nd, 2011 at 9:14 AM ^

...Josh Helmholdt has stated recently that Michigan was talking to Ross about playing the SAM linebacker position.  Personally, I don't think that makes sense.  A linebacker who's 6'0" and 220 lbs. doesn't really fit the profile of playing at the point of attack.  He would seem to fit better at WILL or possibly MIKE.

But Helmholdt's the recruiting guru, so whatever.

In The Shadow …

May 2nd, 2011 at 9:37 AM ^

Is Coach Hoke really the reincarnation of Noah???  He has come in to right the ship and now he is filling it with commits two by two!!!!  Things are really looking good in AA.  Thanks to all the coaches for their tireless efforts and welcome to the family Mr Ross.

Stuck in Ohio 2

May 2nd, 2011 at 10:19 AM ^

 I can't wait to see these young players develop and play some good old fashion 4-3 smash mouth Michigan defense with a veteran of the game like Mattison at the helm.

Welcome aboard Ross and go blue!

Crime Reporter

May 2nd, 2011 at 10:27 AM ^

Welcome to the family, Biggs. Today is shaping up to be a good one.

Also, I am very impressed with this staff on the recruiting trail thus far. I like it a lot.


May 2nd, 2011 at 11:50 AM ^

Finally we have a coach that understands what it takes to build a champion.  You'll never win the Big-Ten if you don't play defense.  Defense wins championships.   

a non emu

May 2nd, 2011 at 11:08 AM ^

Anyone else know how to work the damn WTKA website? The new site is a complete disaster. I am trying to find links to the podcasts from this morning to listen to the announcement and have had absolutely no luck so far. If anyone can help, it would be much appreciated.

Number 7

May 2nd, 2011 at 11:16 AM ^

hard not to like this commitment. One starts to wonder, though, if there was resistance to RR/GERG's 3-3-5, how will people take to the apparent switch to a 0-11-0 alignment?


May 2nd, 2011 at 11:19 AM ^

I Love waking up to news like this! Bin Laden is dead, and we just got a stud recruit. Welcome, James Ross! Hail to the Victors, and Hail to the USA!


May 2nd, 2011 at 11:20 AM ^

Supposedly shortly after Ross committed on the air a kid called Sam Webb and said he wanted to do the same thing! Also it seemed that Terry was in-studio when Ross committed, he might just be #9.