Former M commit Denzel Ward decommits from Purdue

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on December 16th, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Any chance Michigan gets him (or has room for him)?

Denzel Ward @DWard75_ 4m

Just decommitted from Purdue University, I appreciate Coach Hazell and what his staff has done for me it has meant a great deal. Best Wishes



December 16th, 2013 at 7:57 PM ^

We have 9 scholarship linemen on the roster that are currently Freshmen or RS Freshmen, with 2 committed in the class, and 2 RS/True Freshmen Walk-Ons. Shoving more numbers at the problem is not going to make our line any more experienced or productive, especially when Ward's rep is RAW RAW RAW 


December 17th, 2013 at 10:21 AM ^

It also decreases our chances of getting productive players at other positions.

You're right that there's no indication that all the freshmen, redshirt freshmen, and walk-ons will be superstars someday. How dare they not show up on campus with the perfect musculature, weight, footwork, technique, and strength to succeed in big-time college football!


December 16th, 2013 at 7:56 PM ^

Simply having "more" linemen will not change the problems you are listing, certainly not a guy who will be a (quite raw) true frosh next year.  We need our young guys to get more experience (which they're getting), not get more guys who are even younger and less experienced.  


December 16th, 2013 at 8:19 PM ^

We have strong numbers from the '12 and '13 classes, but those guys need to show they can play.  Until then, you're just crossing your fingers and hoping these kids pan out. Given that our offense emphasizes OL performance and values OL experience (compared to other programs), I think it would be wise to invest more scholarships at the position.

Many assumed Kalis would be a good starter this year but he struggled and was benched.  None of the 9 recruits were able to start and be effective this year.  Doesn't mean they won't be a great OL in the future but we just don't know. Those are the kind of assumptions we can't make.  OL is a very uncertain position to project into the future.  There will be busts, there will be attrition.

It's not about Ward per se as it is about getting more bodies (meat) at this critical position.


Blue in Yarmouth

December 17th, 2013 at 8:42 AM ^

I don't want to start a flame war regarding firing coaches, but if I looked at a roster with as many bodies as we have on the o-line, then checked their recruiting ranking and watched video to confirm that they were good prospects and finally looked at where they are now and determined that the stockpile we have aren't doing that well...I would have to qeustion the coaches ability to develop talent.

If that's the problem then it doesn't matter how many bodies you throw at the problem it isn't going to fix it because kids just don't come out of HS with the technical ability to play at a D1 level, coahces are what's supposed to get them there. 

Honestly, after watching this team for the past three years there isn't anything that gives me faith that the recruits we get along the o-line will ever live up to their potential, and the sad part is it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the coaching they are receiving (IMHE). Anyway, my point is numbers won't fix the problem in my mind.


December 16th, 2013 at 8:13 PM ^

We have 13 scholarship linemen on the roster for next year (counting Graham Glasgow, since he started the whole year). Two class of 2014 freshmen will raise that number to 15. Zero of those guys are scheduled to graduate, with the oldest being redshirt juniors (Glasgow, Bryant, Miller). You really don't want more than 15 linemen on your roster, and if things go according to schedule, we'll have 17 in 2015 (those 15 guys plus Runyan and someone else like Sterling Jenkins). You generally don't want to fill up your roster with 17 guys, many of whom are interchangeable between C/G and G/T.

Aside from the whole numbers thing, Ward is wishy-washy, doesn't know what he wants, and didn't inform the coaching staff that he was moving from Chicago to Florida in the first place. I like his athletic ability, but he can go play for some school that has reason to gamble on someone like him. He sounds a little too much like Chris Barnett to me.


December 16th, 2013 at 8:25 PM ^

They won't reach 17 because guys will leave the program.  But even if they do - so what?  If it takes 20 to field 5 good starters you find 20 and make due at other positions.  Lets take the pessimistic view and assume only 3 of the 9 in the last 2 classes pan out into viable starters due to attrition and recruiting misses.  The program can't have that for long, because the OL is so critical.

I agree that 15 is a nice target number in an ideal world but until Michigan has some stability the position should be prioritized.

My comment wasn't about Ward per se, but we do have a strong need for a protypical tackle.  Right now, we have a lot of swing guys who project as better guards than tackles.


December 17th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

I just don't understand your rationale for throwing poop at the wall to see what sticks. That doesn't make sense to me, and I'm guessing it doesn't make sense to the coaches. The offensive line was poor this year largely because of youth, not because of a lack of talent. These guys, many of whom were highly rated, will presumably be pretty solid players down the road. So what you're suggesting is that Michigan bring in 17-20 linemen and spend scholarships on them for four or five years just because redshirt and true freshmen couldn't get the job done in 2013; meanwhile, you'll be sacrificing depth at other positions at the same time.


December 17th, 2013 at 2:15 PM ^

The key here is the presumption that they'll be solid players down the road.  I don't think the position has been stabilized just because the numbers are there.  I don't think this program can risk having a struggling OL again. Our offense is reliant on solid OL play, more than most.  So, I'll sacrifice a scholarship at FB in favor of a walk-on FB, take one less RB that might be desired, and go under the optimal number of WR to ensure that arguably the most important position on the offense is addressed.

I think when you take 9 or 10 guys in 2 classes there is inevitably going to be some unhappiness and attrition.  We should anticipate that and keep adding bodies until we have the position stabilized. Each recruit increases the probability that the OL is a strength. We aren't there yet.


December 17th, 2013 at 2:41 PM ^

The problem with that theory is that you'd be blaming poor offensive line play on a lack of numbers. If you can't find a decent offensive line among 15 five- and four-stars (okay, and a couple three-stars), then the problem is clearly the coaching.

It's not about numbers. It's about experience and development.

I Like Burgers

December 16th, 2013 at 7:45 PM ^

Anyone that commits and decommits multiple times, I rather not have.  Good indicator of a head case.

And yeah, yeah, yeah...he's a high school kid.  They change their minds early and often.  But in the same way height, weight, and quickness are measurables that scouts look for, so are things like this.


December 16th, 2013 at 7:48 PM ^

I don't know about that.  The parents play a big role in this stuff.  Some recruits have great parents, and some don't.  I won't speak on Ward specifically, but when you're a young kid who is also getting poor advice from your parents, these sort of things can happen.  

I Like Burgers

December 16th, 2013 at 7:59 PM ^

Fair enough, but its still a red flag.  He's on at least his third school too.  And maybe that's on his parents.  Maybe not.  I met him last January in St. Pete and didn't have a good impession of him.

Regardless, he's a project offensive lineman.  And if you're taking one of those, you may as well avoid one that has as few red flags as possible.


December 16th, 2013 at 8:14 PM ^

Yes, things like that can happen...which is why it can suck to have sucky parents. But sometimes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I don't know about Ward's parental situation, but saying "Oh, he's flaky because his parents are flaky" doesn't negate the fact that he is indeed flaky.


December 16th, 2013 at 11:31 PM ^

It's common around here for everyone to say these kids are immature and do dumb stuff, etcetera etcetera. But If I'm a recruiter I'm going to go after somone who is wise beyond his years and has qualities like loyality and perseverance and such that are less common among 17 year olds. Immaturity doesn't make a kid bad but it also isn't bad of us to point out that's not necessarily a trait we are looking for either.


December 16th, 2013 at 7:46 PM ^

I 'm sure he's a good kid, but one day he's  on other guys about staying true to Purdue, the next day it's "#boomersooner."

I think it's safe to say Michigan moved on a long time ago.


December 16th, 2013 at 7:47 PM ^

They don't need another OL, especially one who has already decommitted once from them and from two other schools.

Going to guess he stays in Florida.  USF or UCF.


December 16th, 2013 at 7:50 PM ^

There were some rumblings on the Rivals boards that his trip to South Florida went well, in Ward's estimation, even going to far as to call Taggart "a mentor". Penn State supposedly came calling at his school as well. A very bizarre, meandering recruitment indeed. 


December 16th, 2013 at 8:02 PM ^

Something isn't right. I hope he finds someone who gives him good advice, and that he settles down. Perhaps the rush of being pursued is a motivation. I'm not sure what is happening. Right now, I think the least of our concerns are where he signs, but instead, that he lands in the right place and has the support system needed to mature and grow up.


December 17th, 2013 at 12:12 PM ^

Yeah, I wonder what advice he's getting now from his coaches. Something doesn't add up. I wonder what his parents are doing and saying. I hadn't thought about it much, but upon reflection, many of the kids coming to Michigan seem to have really solid parents with good heads on their shoulders. I applaud all the coaches out there, at Michigan and beyond, who serve as surrogate parents for so many athletes with challenging backgrounds.

I guess I resonate with this, because my wife and I brought twins into our home as foster kids at 10 months, adopted them at 5, and they are now healthy and cantankerous 12 year olds. (Their mean streak serves them well in football, wrestling, and soccer.)

Anyway, I realize there are so many lost kids out there, and I want them to be in a healthy family. A football team isn't exactly a family. Still, I think that a lot of what Hoke and wife Laura, along with Mattison, Borges, the rest of the coaches, and the wives, do, is to foster a safe family atmosphere, with boundaries, guidelines, love, discipline, and so much that so many kids miss.

That's part of the reason I think Michigan has been attractive to many kids. It is attractive to families who value family, and it is attractive to kids who need family. I don't know whether or not Ward has the skill and ability to be an asset to Michigan, but it really is too bad for him that he didn't end up here.