Tuesday Recruitin' Is Fifty-Fifty On That Comment Count

Ace July 17th, 2012 at 2:02 PM

Today's recruiting roundup discusses a shift in the 2013 team rankings, Dymonte Thomas's 7-on-7 performance, the latest on Jordan Wilkins and Kendall Fuller, and more.

Consensus No More

Last week's recruiting mailbag addressed the possibility that USC could pass Michigan for the top spot in the team recruiting rankings; this week that came to pass on Rivals—and 247, which already had Alabama ahead of the Wolverines—following Jalen Ramsey's commitment to the Trojans. Because this stuff matters, man, Rivals lays out the scenario in which Michigan can reclaim the first position; if the Wolverines land a top-75 overall commit (to take a completely random example, Laquon Treadwell), they'll pass USC barring any other movement in the rankings or future commitments, and since it's July that totally won't... oh, wait. This is really stupid.

Of much greater use is Tim Sullivan's breakdown of the Wolverine commits who could rise in the rankings: Shane Morris, Jourdan Lewis, Patrick Kugler, Csont'e York, and Gareon Conley are all mentioned as potential risers for various reasons spanning from proximity to the next ratings level (Morris, Lewis, and Kugler), camp performances (Lewis, again), and sleeper status (York and Conley).

If you're basing your recruiting service preference on their ranking of Michigan, both ESPN and Scout still have the Wolverines on top, though in ESPN's case that's likely due to their lack of continual updates. Viva Scout, I guess.

The Forgotten Five-Star

Oh yeah, that guy.

Whether it's due to his early commitment or relatively quiet summer on the camp circuit, Dymonte Thomas seems to be the forgotten marquee player in Michigan's 2013 class. Last weekend, however, he appeared in the NFL High School Player Development 7-on-7 tournament, and Steve Wiltfong reports that he lived up to his blue-chip billing:

Playing safety for the Browns was Michigan commit Dymonte Thomas, who was as good as advertised. A good looking prospect on the hoof, the nation's No. 7 safety glides around the secondary, eating up turf to make deflections on throws to the other side of the field. On one particular play Thomas ran right, only to change direction when he saw the play was going the other way to get a pass breakup on a throw to the left side of the field.

Khalid Hill also participated with the Detroit Lions team and was mentioned as one of 2014 MN QB Ricardo Johnson's favorite targets. I'm getting the distinct impression, based on this summer's events, that Michigan could compete for the NCAA 7-on-7 title if that ever becomes a thing, which I guess means we have a contingency plan if concussions destroy the game of football as we know it (always looking on the bright side, I am).

2013 Options: Waning

While Michigan should have little trouble filling the last two spots in the 2013 class, the list of obvious candidates for those spots continues to shrink. TN RB Jordan Wilkins will announce his decision tomorrow morning, and according to Wilkins himself that choice will come down to Auburn (the favorite), Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. That leaves VA RB Derrick Green—who is slated to visit for the BBQ at the Big House—as Michigan's lone running back target.

Five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller has kept Michigan in his top three for a while now, but an interview with Mike Farrell indicated that they're on the outside looking in ($):

"If I am ready to announce in August then I would say it's a two-team race between Virginia Tech and Clemson," he said. "That's kind of where it is now, I wanted to visit Virginia Tech and Clemson back-to-back to compare them and see if I got a feeling one way or the other. If I decide to wait and decide at the U.S. Army All American Bowl then I will take official visits and Michigan will be one of them. Right now I don't know."

Don't hold your breath for that visit.

We can officially say "happy trails" to MD WR Paul Harris, who rather surprisingly chose Tennessee over USC($), the school long considered to be his favorite. Treadwell remains the clear leader to fill that last wide receiver spot, though Michigan did recently send out an offer($) to three-star NJ ATH Kyle LaPorte, who says he'd like to visit Ann Arbor in August. Unless things move very quickly on that front, however, it's still all about Treadwell.

For what it's worth, Cass Tech DT and Illinois commit Kenton Gibbs says he's still interested in Michigan($) and may attend the BBQ. If he's going to earn an offer, I'd expect he gets it much closer to signing day, as the staff looked at him during Michigan's camp and didn't extend one then; he'll have to step up his performance during his senior season.

Indecisive Joe Mathis Quote Of The Week

We haven't checked in with CA DE Joe Mathis in a while. Mathis, of course, was a one-time Washington commit who's named USC, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington (again) as his leader at various points in time. Has he shed his fickle ways? It doesn't appear so [emphasis mine]:

When InsideTheU.com last checked in with Upland (Calif.) defensive end Joe Mathis, he was pretty sure that he wanted out of California.

Now that Mathis (6-4, 250) has had a little more time to think things over, he has softened his stance on that issue.

It changed but then again it didn’t, I’m like fifty-fifty on that,” Mathis said. “I want to get out of state but USC, UCLA, or Cal could still be the best place for me. I’m not trying to shut myself off from those schools.”

Michigan, FWIW, is not mentioned in the article. We will now return to your regularly scheduled ignoring of pretty much everything he says until signing day.

2014 Updates

Despite most of the coaches taking a vacation—how dare they, right?—Michigan hosted OH WR Derek Kief for a visit over the weekend. Tremendous has his reaction, as well as notes from a radio interview pertaining to the visit; Kief's expectations were low due to a childhood love for Ohio State, but he said Michigan "had everything I was looking for."

Several top 2014 prospects will make their way to campus in the coming weeks, including mammoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr., who will visit this weekend after rescheduling from last week ($). Four-star FL OL K.C. McDermott will hit Ann Arbor on the 27th during a Midwest swing($), while MD CB Troy Vincent Jr. [LINK, $] and IL OL Jamarco Jones [LINK, $] plan to attend the BBQ.

Quickly: Tremendous introduces us to NM DL Desmond Branch, brother of the Morelli Slayer. Matt Pargoff compiles an early in-state top 12 for Michigan, topped by Malik McDowell and Damon Webb.



July 17th, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

I'll never complain about how great the recruiting has been going, but must say I am confused at how no five star RB has jumped at the chance to wear the winged helmet and run behind what may turn into the best offensive line the Big 10 has seen in a decade given how UM has recruited the last two years.  Wisconsin 2.0 baby.  Heck I'd bet my old 6'6", 220 lb ass could run for 3 yards a carry behind these maulers we are getting.


July 17th, 2012 at 2:33 PM ^

the staff is targeting big bodied north south runners to play in their new ManBawl offense. Those guys have yet to see our offense evolve from anything past a shotgun read option type of deal. Yes, we have recruited a stellar offensive line class so far and from last year, however most top tier schools targeting them can say the same.



July 17th, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

Hmmm, you might mean devolve.  I wouldn't take the Manball thing too seriously.  For one, Borges is a west-coast guy, and for another, Denard's replacement is best suited for a spread option offense as well. So we could still have 3 seasons before the Shane Morris' presumed coronotion as captain of the big blue beef machine.  Plus, the highest rated RB recruit in the last several classes is tiny Dennis Norfleet...


July 17th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

Michigan has had a screaming opportunity at RB for a few years now, yet people like Brionte Dunn have chosen to go elsewhere.  That made no sense to me, especially with Lewan/Omameh and others starting (and playing pretty well) very early in their careers.  That window has closed a bit with Fitz's emergence but that might be a one-year situation.

I don't think the OL recruiting class is such a big draw...yet.  It's going to take a couple years for them to develop into plus starters and in the meantime, the OL could be a team weakness.  That is to say I'd rather be in Fitz Toussaints shoes - running behind a interior line filled with seniors and Lewan and Schofield at tackle than the guy running behind green Freshman and Sophomores in the next couple years, no matter how talented they are.  That said, in a couple years, once Kalis, Kuegler, whoever between these two impressive OL classes emerges as quality starters who are going to be around for a few years - an elite back should see the situation as extremely welcoming...so I'm not going to fret about not getting an elite back in the '12 or '13 classes (though obviously, it would be nice.)


July 17th, 2012 at 2:40 PM ^

1.  We aren't the only elite program to bring in top notch lineman.

2.  Its not as easy to as you think to sell a new offense that hasn't been seen on the field yet.   The coaches sell recruits on the pro-style offense but all they can witness is Denard.   Put it like this, if I'm a restaurant, a pretty darn good mexican restaurant.   I then start sending out ads about changing to a pizza parlor.  Our ads show the elite chefs we have, the top of the line ovens, and ingredients from Italy.   But then I tell you you have to buy pizza from us every week for 4 years.   But sorry, you can't taste the pie until 2013.   Would you sign up for that kind of commitment?    Its a tough sell no?  so imagine a kid with plenty of offers (offers that are pretty good pizza parlors already) and having to pick UM.    Folks have to take the blinders off and realize that its not as confusing as you think why a skill position kid won't jump so quick to commit to UM.   Once we have a few years under our belt, I'm sure kids will be jumping, not yet though.


July 17th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

I like the pizza parlor analogy, but this staff hasn't been recruiting pro-style RBs exclusively.  And the recruits haven't just chosen pro-style offenses instead of Michigan's.  I think the uncertainty about style of play is a bigger deal than style of play. Recruits are weary of transitions in scheme.

Interestingly, that hasn't stopped them from recruiting QB, FB, WR, TE, and OL who fit the scheme they claim to be headed towards.  For whatever reason, it hasn't really worked at RB.

turd ferguson

July 17th, 2012 at 4:21 PM ^

I think it's small sample size more than anything.  We finished as the runner-up for a super-elite running back in 2012 (Dunn) and runner-up for another super-elite running back in 2013 (Isaac).  Along the way, we've been in on some big names - and landed a couple of pretty highly touted backs, too (Norfleet, Smith, etc.).  If this persisted for another five years, I'd probably be convinced that something's up, but I think we just have a classic sample size problem.


July 17th, 2012 at 4:35 PM ^

But it stands out as a significant outlier.  Not getting a great QB for a couple years after Gardner kinda made sense, but was addressed by Morris.  Similar situation at OL - whiffed on a few guys and a tough transition had people like Fisher slip throught he cracks, but then this staff nails the '12 and '13 classes.  While they haven't landed an elite WR yet, there have been quality players and I think most fans feel like Darboh and Chesson have firm 4-star caliber value.  FB and TE has been a bit of leap of faith and these aren't generally positions that get 5-star type players anyway.

Certain people like certain recruits at RB (Norfleet is my personal favorite) but the overall recruiting has been very underwhelming rankings-wise compared to the other positions.  Sleepers mostly. 

It's a little mysterious...and it predates Dunn/Issac, too.  There was Demetrius Hart's near commitment I suppose, but Rodriguez struggled to get an elite back even after the offense showed some promising signs in '09  (though of course that's very much subject to interpretation).  That year it was was Baxter and Clay we just-missed on.

Toussaint was the only recruit (since McGuffie's class) who was a consensus 4-star and he has panned out (other than being hurt a lot.)  The rankings have looked about right, so far, in that timeframe.


July 17th, 2012 at 8:53 PM ^

Not quite. The better example is if you said we were a pizza parlor that had been in business for a hundred years making some of the consistently best pizza in town, when some new hot shot Mexican place opened, so we dropped 100 years of pizza making to try our hand at making Mexican (even hiring a Rodriguez to run the kitchen) then decided after the reviews were a complete disaster, to return to pizza. We have a new cook, but the recipe and ovens and ingredients haven't changed.


July 18th, 2012 at 10:27 AM ^

I also like the pizza analogy, but I think the part you left out is not that they can't taste the pie until much later, but they won't be served pie until he, and the other young men recruited in your class, are ready.  For now, you just get the salad and break sticks....which, oh by the way, are pretty damn good. 


July 17th, 2012 at 3:35 PM ^

Is the truly elite running back's mentality. The best of the best backs play some as freshmen, dominate their sophomore and jr years, and then leave for the pros before they take too many hits. RB isn't a position where freshman don't/can't start, and they want to excel early and often. Our O-Line however... is a year or two away. A look at the giant lack of depth we have has to be at least a little worrisome for this year and next. Our line in 2014? One of the best in the country. But that would be Dunn's Jr year, when he should be on everyone's radar already. A 2013 guy should drop, but I'd be shocked if a stud 2014 RB doesn't see this line and think that he could get 2,000 yards his freshman year.


July 17th, 2012 at 2:30 PM ^

It is mildly stupid and irrelevant in February.  It's outrageously stupid and irrelevant in July. 

If you're going to attempt the endeavor, and want a meaningful indicator of how teams on very different timelines are doing relative to each other, you have to address opportunity cost. Using the same methodology in July as in February is lol-stupid.  It is tracking primarily the timing of commitments when, ultimately, the timing is irrelevant.  Yet, this is the approach each site takes because they don't want to change methodology or think too much about it.



July 17th, 2012 at 3:14 PM ^

Why do people keep forgetting about Deveon Smith? I really think this kid is going to be a good fit in our new offense once we get it rolling. He has the frame to get up to around high 220's-230's without losing much. He might not be a burner like Norfleet but he is a bruiser and is going to love running behind this line. Lets also not forget that Derrick Green is still deciding on us and Shallman is going to have an opportunity to play some TB for us. Also we are already in on some good '14 prospects. I, for one, am not worried about our running game. Rawls, Fitz, Hop, Hayes, Norfleet, and Smith is more than enough talent to give us a very potent running attack.


July 17th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

Said before (so it has to be worth saying again).  RB don't have to carry the load with an outstanding and balanced offense which is what we are moving towards.  Deveon Smith is an outstanding pure RB, Johnson has great potential, Rawls is looking very good as well.  As mentioned you have a hybrid guy with Shallman next year who will I think end up doing a number of things in the backfield.  Isaac is not the star he's made out to be.  I just don't buy it.  He'll be a good back and play, but will not be a 5 star in college.  

I think decisions by the supposed "elite" rb's everyone is whining about are also based despite what they say on where they think they can get on the field immediately in.  If I'm a RB and I look at Michigan I say: "gotta beat out Fitz, Rawls, then maybe a Johnson maybe Hayes, then compete with Smith and at times a Shallman".  


July 17th, 2012 at 4:41 PM ^

QBs don't have to handle the load if you have a great running game.  WRs don't have to make great plays if the QB is accurate and the running game a threat.  etc.  But SOMEBODY has to provide an elite threat somewhere and you hate to limit that pool from the outset.

I agree that a quality back will emerge but it's always nice to have a star that can contend for all-conference teams or heismans. So far, Michigan hasn't unearthed that kind of player since Hart and even he came in with a degree of 'watch out for this kid' hype that outstripped people like Johnson and Rawls.



July 17th, 2012 at 6:09 PM ^

Every good program will have competition at RB.  Most of these kids don't care unless you're going to a place like USC where they stock 5* RBs on the shelf.  These kids have been stars and scoring a bunch of TDs their whole lives, thus their opinion of their own talent is bound to be skewed.


July 17th, 2012 at 11:57 PM ^

I agree about Deveon Smith.  I think he's going to be a real monster in our backfield.  He's a big guy who runs with ANGAR.  And with the OL we're building, he'll be a real bowling ball in there.  He might not break a lot of 40 yard runs, but he'll churn out a lot of 8 yard runs, and it doesn't take many of those to build big time drives and set your passing game up really well.

turd ferguson

July 17th, 2012 at 4:26 PM ^

I can't find the clip, but in the interview in which Treadwell said he's 75% certain he'll commit to Michigan, he immediately followed that by saying that he's 70% certain he'll commit to Oklahoma State.  The interviewer noted that those don't add up to 100, but I'm pretty sure that Treadwell just estimates there to be a -45% chance that he ends up at MSU (another supposed finalist).


July 17th, 2012 at 5:08 PM ^

Interesting read. The only part that I really care about is the last paragraph...


"However, Brady Hoke and his assistants have put together a class that fills Michigan's needs, and for the most part with very highly rated players. Whether the Wolverines finish No. 1, No. 2, or No. 10 in the recruiting rankings, the talent level is high enough to compete with the best programs when it comes time to prove it on the field."


July 17th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

The last 2 recruits in our amazing class will be Treadwell and McQuay III. 

Treadwell tweeted that he was talking to McQuay about their decision to commit.  In addition, McQuay III already knows where he wants to go (per his twitter).

turd ferguson

July 17th, 2012 at 5:33 PM ^

I still don't really understand how to read Twitter, but I just looked at McQuay's profile (McQuay31), and if you're referring to his "I already know tho!!!" comment, isn't that most likely about which school JR7_Eagles will attend?