Monday Recruitin' From New Jersey To California Comment Count

Ace December 2nd, 2013 at 3:29 PM

Oh, Right ... That

Photo via

There hasn't been a recruiting roundup since Jabrill Peppers tweeted his intention to take official visits after the season, catching not only Michigan fans off-guard, but also his fellow commits and even his own coach, Paramus Catholic's Chris Partridge—notably, the man who sets up all of Peppers' visits. After the tweet set fire to this corner of the internet, Peppers released a statement through Partrige:

I am still 100% committed to the University of Michigan and that is the place where I want to go to college.  With the rumors about Coach Hoke possibly not being there I need to make sure that I have options and have seen other places in case the University of Michigan decides to go in a different direction.  For the sake of my future I need to make sure I have other options.  No need to look into it any further! Go Blue and beat TDS

Peppers reiterated that he's not decommiting and just wants to use any potential visits as a "security blanket," to Scout (via Sam Webb's latest column in the Detroit News).

Michigan has already begun efforts to assuage Peppers' fears, certainly with an eye on keeping him from taking any visits, which would put Brady Hoke in quite the bind as he balances the massive need to keep Peppers in the fold with the possibility of angering other commits—and displaying what could easily be interpreted as hypocricy by Michigan targets and their coaches—by not enforcing his no-visit policy. Dave Brandon's statement in support of Hoke specifically mentioned Michigan's national recruiting "from New Jersey to California, from Michigan to Florida." I don't believe New Jersey is in there by accident; in fact, the whole statement seems to be as much a response to the Peppers situation as it is to any fan discontent.

There are a few things working in Michigan's favor. Peppers and his Paramus Catholic squad play in the state championship game this weekend; the following weekend he's set to take his official visit to Michigan. Peppers didn't talk to Hoke when he made his statement last week—Hoke had a few other things to worry about—but he'll definitely find out where things stand when he's in Ann Arbor; if the coaches (and Brandon) can convince him that the program is on stable ground, it's entirely possible that this whole thing blows over without him ever setting foot on another school's campus.

Even if Peppers still wants to explore other schools after his Michigan official, the timing is tough; an NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period goes into effect after next week's visit, so he wouldn't be able to visit any school until mid-January, just a couple weeks before Signing Day.

For his part, Peppers certainly seemed committed to Michigan during The Game on Saturday, tweeting out his support multiple times during the game and indicating afterward that he'd be taking part in it next season, and not as a Buckeye. While the fact that Peppers even needs reassurance that Hoke will still be at Michigan next year isn't a good sign regarding his recruitment or the program, I don't think there's a lot to worry about here unless Peppers actually goes on other visits—for now, only his trip to Ann Arbor is set to go.

[After THE JUMP, Michigan drops the 'grey shirt' distinction for Brady Pallante, visit reactions from The Game, and a roundup of the latest on Michigan's commits who are still alive in the playoffs.]

Pallante Gets A Full Ride

After Michigan missed out on Da'Shawn Hand and Jhonny Williams eliminated the Wolverines and eventually flipped his commitment to Notre Dame, Brady Hoke informed FL DL commit Brady Pallante that he'll be on full scholarship next season, removing the "grey shirt" distinction and making him a full-blown member of the 2014 class, per Tim Sullivan ($). I think it's safe to assume that Michigan is turning their focus solely to Malik McDowell to round out defensive line recruiting for the '14 class.

In other commit-related news, the Daily has a feature on Wilton Speight's injury-delayed journey to becoming Michigan's quarterback of the future. Meanwhile, Scout's Dave Berk evaluated Noah Furbush in Kenton's state semifinal defeat; he's another potential replacement along the defensive line ($):

We’ve seen Furbush grow over the past couple of seasons and during the summer camp and 7x7 circuits. Friday night the Michigan pledge did not disappoint playing with an injury to his hand that forced him to wear a club like device, Furbush still caused problems during the game and recorded a couple of sacks. While listed as a linebacker, we still feel he’ll grow physically and become a defensive end at the next level.

At 6'4" and around 240 pounds, Furbush certainly has the frame to become a weakside defensive end if the need arises.

Moe Ways released his senior highlight tape on YouTube; he's improved a great deal in the last year, and it's evident on film.

Some great quotes from Swen Swenson, father of Michigan's latest commit, 2016 OL Erik Swenson, can be found in this CSNChicago article. Simply put, the younger Swenson couldn't see himself at any other school, and neither could his parents.

High School Playoffs Roundup: Campbell Dominates

Campbell highlights: first two clips, 0:55 mark, 3:34, 6:27

George Campbell was the primary beneficiary of a brutally efficient East Lake passing attack, catching six passes for 132 yards and three scores, to help the Eagles to a 49-15 win over Port Charlotte and a spot in the state semifinals.

The rest of Michigan's commits—aside from the Eastern Christian Academy duo, whose stats aren't available from another big win—didn't fare so well. Noah Furbush and Kenton's perfect season ended in the state semis, as covered above. While Shaun Crawford rushed for 119 yards, top-seeded and undefeated St. Edward fell in their state semifinal matchup against Mentor, home of current Wolverine DL Tom Strobel.

That leaves Campbell and his teammate Mason Cole, the ECA duo of Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, and of course Peppers and PC teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty as the only Wolverine commits still playing in the 2013 season.

Early OSU Visit Reactions

I'm sure more of these will come out as the week goes on; for now, a few early reactions from visitors to The Game, starting with a great roundup by The M Block that includes a new name for the 2015 Quarterback Offer Watch, IL QB Jimmy Fitzgerald:

Fitzgerald spoke highly of his most recent visit.  "It was awesome," said Fitzgerald.  "I loved Michigan!  The atmosphere of the Big House and the time I spent with the coaches [stood out] on Saturday."  Fitzgerald shed some light on the 2015 quarterback situation and how the staff, including coach Mallory, is approaching the topic of offering another signal caller.  "He told me the[y] will be recruiting 4-6 kids in my class and I'm one of them.  He either wants to come to school or he wants me to come up and visit every 2 weeks."  Fitzgerald said that he still has to figure out when to schedule a throwing session with offensive coordinator Al Borges, but he looks to be a priority for the Michigan staff.  [Brother Rice QB Alex] Malzone and Fitzgerald both appear to be in the 4-6 man group for Michigan in 2015, and I would venture that Kyle Kearns, Riley Neal and Nick Johns are also in this group as well.

Much like with the 2014 class, it appears Michigan will evaluate each quarterback they're considering in person before putting out any offers; with the regular season over, I'd expect that process to begin soon.

Another quarterback in attendance was 2016 OH QB Messiah deWeaver; based on this quote he gave to Scout's Bill Greene, it appears the Wolverines are at or near the top of his list ($):

"I spoke with Coach (Al) Borges and Coach (Mark) Smith, and they impressed me with how they handled themselves," deWeaver added. "I saw them after they beat Notre Dame, but everybody is cool when they win. I wouldn't say Michigan is my favorite, but I think a lot of the program and being there Saturday only made it better. They've mentioned a possible offer before, and I'd love to have one from them."

Michigan also hosted 2015 OH TE CJ Conrad, who came away from the visit with the Wolverines among a small group of schools he'd like to offer him, per Greene ($):

With eight offers to his credit, including Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Pittsburgh, Conrad has already hit the recruiting radar.

"Recruiting has gone great for me and I'm thrilled with my offers," he admitted. "The way I see it now is there are four schools really sticking out to me, and they would be Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan. Those are the offers I want most."

I'm sure more visit reactions will be in Thursday's roundup.

Late-Breaking Happy Trails

While I was writing this post, 247 broke the news that Michigan has missed out on their top DT target in the 2015 class, Denmark native Hjalte Froholdt. Making this even more painful is the program he chose over the Wolverines:

Based on the infallible theory of Recruiting Means Everything, this means Michigan is in worse shape than Arkansas (3-9, 0-8 SEC) ... but they're on level footing with top-ranked, undefeated Florida State! I'm assuming the BCS bowl invite is in the mail.



December 2nd, 2013 at 3:54 PM ^

i think we will have playmakers on O next year.  Funchess, Darboh, improved versions of Chesson, Green and Smith, and Freshmen Harris and Campbell.... Gotta figure 2 to 3 of these guys are gonna make some DCs miserable. (also, I shouldn't forget Jake Butt who seems like a long term contributor).


December 2nd, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

So let's say he visits UCLA at the end of January (his only opportunity to do so.  First, I think they take a crazy long Christmas break and the students aren't yet back by then.  Even if they are, Californians in January bundled up about as much as Michiganders do even though the temp will be in the 50s, so he'll miss the whole co-eds in daisy dukes thing that recruits like.  

Secondly, as I said above, it won't be all that warm out so he won't be shown the beaches (which will be empty anyway) or scantilly clad chicks that recruits eat up.  The weather will be nicer than Michigan (or New Jersey) but it's certainly not the "LA is one huge, sexy outdoor party" that he'd get in September or October.  

Thirdly, he'll get no game day experience (not that it's so amazing at UCLA, but still).  He will, however, still get to drive through an hour-plus of LA traffic to get from campus to the Rose Bowl.  I imagine the actual gameday stuff plus teh game itself is a huge seller for these guys.  He won't get that.  

Lastly - you want coaching security?  Wait until NFL jobs open up and see how many Jim Mora rumors there are.  Oh, and his alma mater (Washington) has an opening as well.  If Mora bolts, we're in.

In summary, even in the unlikely scenario that Peppers visits UCLA, I think we're in OK shape still.


December 2nd, 2013 at 7:24 PM ^

they drive up to the mountains for some beautiful scenery on the ski slopes.  Then there's that thing called the sun that becomes scarce around these parts in January.  January in socal can be mid-50's and rainy (bringing fresh snow to the nearby mountains) or 70 and beautiful.  You are very correct about the traffic thing, but that's not an issue if you're on or near campus.

Sorry man, you may live there now but I was out there for 15 years (Redondo Beach/Costa Mesa) before returning to A2.  I'm jonesing for some sun, sailing and motorcycling right now. With that out of the way, Peppers is coming to A2.  Carry on...


December 2nd, 2013 at 7:51 PM ^

Look - I'm not at all saying California isn't a great place.  But I'm talking about from a football player perspective, assuming these guys don't take long ski trips all that often.  There are plenty of benefits to SoCal, but the biggest ones, and the ones pertaining to a student/athlete, won't be there in January.  

And the traffic part was in reference to driving all the way across town to their stadium.  I would hate going to a school with a football stadium that far away.  


December 2nd, 2013 at 7:28 PM ^

I think you're selling the defense way, WAY short.  There weren't "playmakers" because they were so ridiculously raw that it was all Mattison could do to get them to execute basic assignments.  Not even JMFR was a barbarian out of the box.

There's a LOT of young talent on that team.  They weren't "playmakers" because Fr/So "playmakers" are usually guys that are OK on 3 plays out of five, OMFG on one, and way out of position on the fifth.  The key is to get to 3 OK vs. 2 OMFG or even 4 OK vs. 1 OMFG, but the OMFG isn't worth it if it comes with equal measures of AARRGGH.  Mattison hates AARRGGH so we didn't get to see a lot of OMFG this season.  WTF is the use of blowing through the gap for a sen-SAY-shunal!!! -5 yard TFL and then completely leaving a guy uncovered for 30 yards on the very next play?  I've seen enough of that in my time to never care to see it again.

If Peppers doesn't redshirt it'll be because he's a five-star recruit and CB is a position where it's easier to work them into the 2-deep early.  We are not desperate for playmakers on defense; the playmakers we have are still on short leashes for incredibly obvious reasons.


December 3rd, 2013 at 6:37 AM ^

Well, that's a weird spot to reading comprehension fail.  The ONLY reason to redshirt Peppers is injury.  I mean, what else is there?

But that's not saying we're so desperate for playmakers that we'd field him if in some hypothetical situation he's better off redshirting.

Benching Peppers for a year just because is a stupid idea.  But I'm not going to entertain the notion that our defense is in horrible shape.  They got torched by OSU but that offense murdered everybody this year.

Young John Beilein

December 3rd, 2013 at 9:45 AM ^

I don't think that is exactly what you are saying.  You clearly have a different point.  But I think we are short on the type of athletes that can contain offensive weapons such as Braxton Miller.  At times, Avery and Gordon simply aren't fast/ long enough to disrupt other offenses for example.  Healthy Jake Ryan can shed blocks, redirect, and make plays in space.  Who else has really shown that type of ability on our defense?  Frank Clark once or twice?  I agree they are young and will get better, but I also think the lack of talent has held them back from being a lot better than what they are.


December 3rd, 2013 at 10:37 AM ^

Well, the point was that we are not redshirting Peppers out of desperation for playmakers.  In all likelihood we're not redshirting him at all, but desperation is not the reason.  We're actually doing pretty well at CB.

"Healthy Jake Ryan can shed blocks, redirect, and make plays in space.  Who else has really shown that type of ability on our defense?"

Our MLB/WLB have shown the ability to make some heads-up plays in space that have on occasion bailed out the offense.  They're not shedding blocks because Mattison likes to rush four (for better or worse) vs. the pass and use his DTs to keep the linebackers clean on run plays, so generally a blocker there means a breakdown.  QWash has shown playmaking ability at DT; he commands double-teams and often holds his ground and that's all you ask for in a DT.  Black isn't a walking highlight reel but he's a troublemaker.  Our CBs are playmakers in the making.  They were in position for plenty of PBUs and INTs that they simply lacked the strength to finish; that'll change over the offseason.  We're a bit thin at safety but not every class is going to have a Jordan Kovacs.

No, they're not superstars but I think a lot of the heat they get is because Mattison's assignment-based "bend don't break" approach this season was frustrating to watch.  For much of the season, they were plenty good at keeping teams out of the end zone and that's all that matters.  Getting off the field faster so they're not quite so gassed in the 4th quarter is something to improve on, but with another year of conditioning they can probably cut another half-yard to yard off each play, which will make a huge difference over the course of a game.

I guess I just don't equate highlight plays with a great defense.  We don't have a top-5 NFL pick on defense but we have no glaring weaknesses either.  If everyone can execute their assignments the offense has to pick their poison, and Mattison is pretty darn good at making offenses work for their points.


December 2nd, 2013 at 4:19 PM ^

This Pepper's saga is pretty much the exact manifestation of my fear about this fanbase being so impatient and well, fickle. The kid seems genuinely committed to coming here, genuinely invested in the team and his future teammates, and now he thinks he needs to keep his options open in case Hoke gets run out of town. Where does that thought come from? It certainly didn't come from rumors within Fort Schembechler. My guess would be the entire blogoshere/twitterverse etc being a giant bitchfest all year long, and the FIRE EVERYTHING types influencing him. You know other suitors for his services are definitely playing it up for all it's worth.


December 2nd, 2013 at 4:32 PM ^

I'm sure there's tons of that going on, but without the grumblings of the fanbase to back it up, it sounds like sour grapes and wouldn't have the impact that it seems to be having on Peppers who, by all accounts, seems pretty level headed about the whole process.


December 2nd, 2013 at 11:08 PM ^

I"m certainly not going to suggest that this board has any impact on any recruit (or at least not one who a parents or coach) but I will say that the commentary here has been waaayyyyy out of line. 

As a reminder, our last coach's best year was 7-5 in the regular season.  Of the wins, Notre Dame, Indiana, and  Ilinois could or should have been losses.  Of the losses, not one was by less than 10 points.  We lost miserably to Ohio (37-7, and it could have been far worse if Tressel hadn't pulled the motor out of the water).  We went to the Gator Bowl, and got the worst beating I of a Michigan team I have ever season, losing 52-14 to Mississippi State. 

Fortunately, we have an athletic director who is calm, and focused, and knows the game, instead of a blogger.  I like Bill Martin, and I think he did wonderful things for the athletic department (see Crisler, Michigan Stadium, and John Beilien here).  Brandon is not about to jump ship on Hoke.  He sees the progress evident by watching the team, particularly now that we're approaching a Michigan Defense agai.  under probably the best defensive coordinator in the country.  The coaches aren't going anywhere anytime soon. 

What I am saying is that the people here, and otherwhere, who have claimed Borges, Funk, Hoke, or anyone else should be fired are out of touch, and typing without a clear understanding of the depth issues which faced this staff in 2013. 


December 4th, 2013 at 4:10 PM ^

Apparently you need a reminder. RR inherited a disaster on offense: one good OL, 2 good but often injured RBs and a small freshman center. On defense he inherited good starters on DL and at DB but no depth, the next year most of them were gone.

RR improved every year. The team that went 11-2 was his team. The team has steadily regressed under Hoke. In his third year RR had Lewan and Omameh starting and playing well. If Borges and Funk had done as well we would have had that 10-2  season Brandon was talking about.


December 3rd, 2013 at 10:13 AM ^

They are a minority, thankfully, but they exist and are vocal. Also, while much of the ire is directed at Borges, there are many here who say, if Hoke doesn't fire him, then Hoke himself needs to/will be fired. Maybe there haven't been serious challenges to Hoke's job now, but it's not hard to extrapolate what might happen if 2014 isn't all sunshine and magic.


December 3rd, 2013 at 11:33 AM ^

You do realize this program has lost 9 of 10 to Ohio and 5 of 6 to Sparty and hasn't won a BiG in a decade right?  Not sure what planet you're on that you'd expect the fanbase of the winningest program of all time, after a 7-5 season that showed 0-2 vs MSU and Ohio, a losing record in the lousy BiG conference, and set historic lows on offense, to gladly bend over, grab their ankles and smile while saying "thank you sir I'll have another."

Can you name me one top 10 traditional football power who's fanbase has ever accepted mediocrity?

The day this fanbase falls in line with smiles on their faces astride a coaching staff that produces a product like we saw this year is the day this program becomes Iowa - always OK, but always mediocre.  Sorry no thanks.


Ron Utah

December 3rd, 2013 at 3:40 PM ^

This game is easy!  Top Ten programs that have accepted your definition of mediocrity:

  • Alabama
  • Ohio State
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • USC
  • Florida State
  • Florida
  • Auburn
  • Notre Dame
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • LSU
  • Penn State

I could keep going, but hopefully you get the point.  ALL of these schools have had stretches worse than ours with Hoke so far, and for longer.  Maybe you're young, but Michigan dominated the Big Ten in the '90's and came up against one of the best coaches and cheaters of all time in Jim Tressel, that put us three points away from the MNC in 2006.

And this doesn't even mention that we hired one of the best minds in all of college football (RR) and went through three years of misery.

Give me a break.  Michigan has not accepted mediocrity, they have decided to be patient with a guy (Hoke) they believe could be the next great coach at U-M.

If Hoke hasn't turned the ship around by 2015, he'll be gone.


December 3rd, 2013 at 5:26 PM ^

4 out of the 9 losses to Ohio and 5 out of 5 of the losses to State can be attributed, at least in part, to messy coaching transitions. Wishing for a better product on the field dosn't automatcally and immediately make it so. If anything, constantly chasing short term fixes with coaching changes is what keeps programs in mediocrity (see ND after Holtz).

The FannMan

December 2nd, 2013 at 5:31 PM ^

I wonder how such a coach could prove to a recruit that the fanbase wants Hoke fired?  If only there was a place, maybe on the internet, where hunders of Michigan fans all ranted and bitched and called for people to be fired.  I bet such a place would be a tremendous help to a such a coach.


December 2nd, 2013 at 6:19 PM ^

It is a bit ridiculous. This program needs stability right now and that is what Hoke offers. He is recruiting at a high level and should see these guys through. Can't help it that those Ohio assholes hired a good coach and he walked in to a team already suited for his style and with talent.