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.



May 2nd, 2011 at 8:00 AM ^

It is really nice to see some incredibly good defensive talent coming on board.

Give Mattison a couple of years and things should be interesting.

Welcome aboard and Go Blue!


May 2nd, 2011 at 11:26 AM ^


Towards the end, he talks about how he committed on Saturday.  Said he couldn't give Mattison a straight answer and told him he'd call him back.  He then said he talked to his dad about it, and then talked to Terry about it.  Then decided if he knew where he wanted to be then why wait so he did it.  So sounds like Richardson is warming to the idea of Michigan as well.

Six Zero

May 2nd, 2011 at 8:09 AM ^

Q for Tim, Tom or Magnus:

At this point we're essentially stockpiling talent at LB, and have to pretty much assume we're done unless a can't-miss-blue-chip decides he wants in at Mattison U...

BUT, we've got a lot of time left before January.  What's the chances one of these kids gets scared off by the pending competition, and if one of you had to guess, which one bolts?*


*Please don't get me wrong, Kaleb, Royce, Joe and James:  I WANT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU TO WEAR THE WINGED HELMET.  Just hoping we don't lose one of you.  Those who stay...


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:19 AM ^

I am not any one of those people that you listed, but perhaps I have some input.  From what I understand, Ross was one of OSUs top targets, and one of the few LBs they offered.  If they miss out on the few other LBs they are after, then perhaps Kaleb Ringer could get that OSU offer that he wanted earlier.  Now, I hope that ship has sailed and he's a Michigan Man through and through, but it would be an interesting development.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:36 AM ^

What positions can our four recruited LBs slide to in a pinch if it gets crowded?  Does Mattison have a tendency to go 4-4 in the box?  From what I've read, none of them sound like hybrids between LB/DE or LB/S.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:49 AM ^

In my opinion, Kaleb Ringer is the least talented of the four.  I'm not sure if any of them will be scared away, but the less talented guys seem to be the ones who "waver," whether it's their choice or not...

I don't necessarily think any of them WILL leave.  But hypothetically, that's who I would keep my eye on.

Space Coyote

May 2nd, 2011 at 9:23 AM ^

First, remember just because they come in the same year doesn't mean they all play at the same time.  A couple may redshirt while a couple don't.  Another likely option with the numbers that are being brought in is that one gets slightly more bulked up and takes a run at the 7-tech DE.  I think both will eventually happen to some degree, but thats just my feeling.


May 2nd, 2011 at 1:16 PM ^

Thought that was very rational and wise when I read it a while back.

"(Early playing time) might be a factor, but I kind of want to redshirt my first year to get used to the college life. As soon as I get used to it, I'll be straight."

Trieu also talks about how Ross and RJS complement each, would be great for one team to land both. 

"James Ross is a little more of a true middle backer. He's stockier, where Royce is a little longer and leaner. I think Royce is a little faster, but James is a little stronger. Their styles complement each other very well. It'd be great for someone to land both because they're both great players, but they would work together well."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101202/OPINION03/12020422/Cass-Tech-LB-Royce-Jenkins-Stone-likes-Michigan--but-will-weigh-options#ixzz1LDGmjvZO


May 2nd, 2011 at 10:29 AM ^

Recruiting rankings are one thing, but you never know who is going to pan out until the recruits all get here.  Deep, talented LB corps will ensure good competition and the cream rises to the top.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:15 AM ^

I think some of the guys are going to switch positions, but that is ok.  Let them compete, and the best guys come out on top.

Ross solidifies this class as for the state of Michigan.  We dominate the class this year.  

Welcome, Mr. Ross.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:17 AM ^

DL and OL, multiple, then at least one CB and one QB.   At that point, any top flight RB, Safety, WR would be more than welcomed!

I really hope we don't burn a possible redshirt on these linebackers if it's obvious they aren't going to be starters as freshman, and can spend a year getting bigger and learning under Mattison.  Of course, if we promised them not to redshirt them, then it's special team and mop-up duty as the post says.




May 2nd, 2011 at 8:23 AM ^

But is this the best linebacker recruiting class in U-M history? I said it had to be Ross, jokingly, because we needed two linebackers in a row. Don't know how they'll pull that off next.

And is Arizona State doing that well recruiting linebackers? Why are they in the latter group? Because their on field success hasn't been any better than Cinncy, MSU, Missouri or Pitt.

Oh, and MICHIGAN, All Your Linebackers are OURS!!!


P.S. You don't really have to lock a board thread covering the radio interview.  It's still ongoing, and they're talking to the parents now too.  Some of that info might be of interest, and I don't think you're transcribing it or anything for later. It's not a competition...you make as much money with clicks there as here.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:47 AM ^

Yeah, I guess ND as a power is a bit of a stretch at this point. But I was just accounting them as their past and status being credited. Not to mention they still have been recruiting pretty well, even if it hasn't shown on the field that much.


May 2nd, 2011 at 8:24 AM ^

Looks like he's pushing Terry to commit! OMG, If we're doing this with an unproven staff, what's going to happen when we start winning! Consistently!!!