Ohio Safety Isaiah Bell has pledged to become a Michigan Wolverine. He is so new on the radar that he hadn't been added to the recruiting board yet, though he was slated to be added in the next update. He is a high school teammate of LB Julius Ferrell and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.
Bell is a 6-2, 200lb safety who had been on the rise before his commitment to Michigan. As is the case with most Michigan commitments, this means his ranking will not rise that much more, and he will likely peak at 3 stars.
With all the regional games completed, the 2008 Frozen Four is now set. Both Sunday games turned out the way Michigan fans didn't want them to, but for now, that's too far in the future to worry about.
Thursday, April 10 6:00 PM Michigan v. Notre Dame. (ESPN2) Thursday, April 10 9:00 PM Boston College v. North Dakota (ESPN2)
Michigan v. Notre Dame CCHA foes meet up in the first national semifinal game. Michigan went 2-0 against the Irish this year, with a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Yost, and a 5-1 pasting the next night at The Palace. Michigan finished 1st in the conference to Notre Dame's 4th place finish. Top performers for Michigan against Notre Dame this year were Kevin Porter (2 goals), Travis Turnbull (1 goal, 2 assists), and goalie Billy Sauer (1.5 GAA). Michigan shouldn't expect to replicate either performance, and will likely split the difference between the two. 4-2 Michigan.
BC v. North Dakota The Sioux are always a team that gives the Wolverines trouble, so Michigan fans should be pulling for Boston College. In one game against the Eagles this year, Michigan notched a 4-3 overtime win in St. Paul, behind a 5-point night from the Caporusso-Hagelin-Turnbull line. In this matchup, both teams had 2-goal deficits in their regional finals, before coming up victors in overtime. North Dakota was given trouble by sub-.500 Wisconsin, but they are a team with championship experience. They will likely come up as winners, facing Michigan in the national title game. 3-1 North Dakota.
With two commitments and a few prospects down, it was a big weekend of change for the recruiting board.
Removed: KS LB Jaydan Bird. Committed to Oklahoma. Not a huge loss, as I don't think there was ever great mutual interest. He seemed like one of those guys who mention Michigan early in the process to make them sound like big-time prospects. TX OL Mason Walters. Committed to Texas. Not sure anyone but the Horns ever had a really legit shot at him.
Behind the spectacular play of netminder Billy Sauer, and another solid performance from soon-to-be Hobey Baker winner Kevin Porter (vote here), Michigan defeated Clarkson Saturday night to advance to the Frozen Four. Aaron Palushaj and Porter gave Michigan two goals, which would up being more than enough to get them the victory. Even a 6-on-3 advantage for the Golden Knights late in the third could not help them decode Sauer, who made 27 saves on the night.
The east regional team consists of four Wolverines, with Sauer and Porter (obvious choices) representing the Wolverines along with teammates Chad Kolarik and Mark Mitera. The Wolverines will advance from the regional to play in the Frozen Four in Denver on April 10th.
Also advancing to the Frozen Four are the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. They defeated Michigan State by a 3-1 count in the West Regional. Michigan will face them in the semifinal game. This works out best for Michigan, as State was one of the few teams that managed to give them trouble over the course of the year (Michigan went 1-2-1 against the Spartans on the season).
On the other side of the Frozen Four, tonight's games will determine whether North Dakota or Wisconsin and Miami or Boston College will advance to Denver. Michigan fans will probably be pulling for Wisconsin on the one side (a much worse team than North Dakota, and the Sioux have been a Michigan-killer over the past couple years), and Miami on the other (Michigan had a lot of success against Miami this year, with the only non-win being a Shegos-reffed tie). Michigan also beat Boston College in October, but did not have a chance to develop consistency in beating them.
OH DB Justin Turner moved to committed. Free Press article. MI RB Teric Jones moved to committed.
New Information: MI WR James Jackson wants to do football and track in college. Have him talk to Morgan Trent. FL WR Andre Debose Track fluff. OK RB David Oku plans to decide on his birthday (October 10th), if possible. IL DE Craig Drummond won't take visits until after his ACT is done with. Top 5 of M, IL, USC, Kstate, and Tennessee. NC S Devonte Holloman will decide after official visits, and maybe early.
Detroit Cass Tech RB Teric Jones (rhymes with Eric) has pledged to become a Michigan Wolverine. He joins his high school teammate, DT William Campbell in the 2009 Michigan recruiting class.
Recruiting Story Jones finished his junior year with Michigan and Michigan State as the two favorites. After a very good performance at the Army All-American combine, he vaulted into the consciousness of several more prominent schools. When more-highly ranked instaters Larry Caper and Edwin Baker committed to MSU, Michigan became Jones's favorite.
Jones visited Michigan for a spring practice this morning and received his Michigan offer. He committed to Michigan shortly thereafter.
Player Notes Jones ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the 2008 Army junior combine, but has been timed as fast as 4.39. He was considered a top-10 prospect at the combine. Compared to his fellow instate backs Larry Caper and Edwin Baker (both committed to Michigan State), Jones lacks the polish of a multi-year varsity starter, but has the measurables to be the best player of the three.
Jones is a 5-10, 190lb runningback who will probably play a versatile role out in the slot as well. Jones's exposure to this point has been low, as he played behind Indiana freshman-to-be Cortez Smith as a junior. By the time the final rankings come out, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up a lowish four-star.
Ahhh, it's been a while since I've had such a headline, and it feels good. Sorry for the delay on the news (I was watching the hockey game at The Arena per Brian's suggestion), but better late than never, right?
OH DB Justin Turner has pledged to Rich Rodriguez. Turner, a 4-star from Massilon, OH (Washington) is the second member of the 2009 class. Michigan was his early leader, but lost ground during the coaching change. However, after a visit to Ann Arbor with his dad, Turner was comfortable pledging to the Wolverines.
Turner projects as either a safety or corner, measuring at 6-2, 200, and running the 40 in 4.4 seconds. For some video on Turner, we consult our friends at Scouting Ohio:
By the way, thanks to reader Obes. Without him, I probably wouldn't have gotten to this until tomorrow.
Added: GA WR Braxton Lane. He has been offered by Michigan. He is a blazer (4.31) who seems perfect for the slot. He also likes teh baseballz. OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint. He has apparently earned an offer. A high school teammate of linebacker prospect Julius Ferrell, Youngstown Liberty has another player who may be added in the next update. Will the school be this year's version of the Trotwood trio? MN CB Varmah Sonie. Friend of WR Bryce McNeal.
Current Texas backup QB Sherrod Harris may be considering a transfer, according to several sources, including the Dallas Morning News. Harris is a true sophomore who would have to sit one year, and be eligible to play in 2009 and 2010. A likely target would be Michigan, with an offense that fits his skills and a dearth of quarterbacks.
Harris is an exception student-athlete, who graduated with a high school GPA of 3.96. He was a run-pass threat in high school, described as similar to Antonio Bass (slightly more developed as a passer, with slightly less athleticism). At Texas, he has been limited due to injury and depth chart, and has yet to attempt a pass (despite playing in two games in fall 2007).
Harris is not allowed to contact school of interest until he receives his release. Texas coach Mack Brown stated that if any player approaches him regarding transfer, a release will be granted.
First and foremost, I am glad the Athletic Department has gone back to using yellow student shirts after the (horrible) year of blue in 2005. The yellow looks infinitely better, as documented by the Hoover Street Rag (also an interesting post on other points, and I generally agree with it). However, the new issue I raise is the task of actually getting students to wear them.
The TShirt Option The first mistake the administration makes in this respect is allowing the purchase of a shirt to be optional with a student ticket purchase. By simply bundling the shirt with the tickets - no option - the department would guarantee that everyone in the student section at least has access to one maize shirt. At the very least the option to buy the shirt on the ticket order form could be checked by default - I would much rather have students accidentally buy the shirt than accidentally not buy it (which I did in both 2004 and 2005 - I didn't bother buying the terrible blue thing in 2005 after I mistakenly didn't order it originally).
Maize Outs Another area in which the athletic department fails is marking a select few student tickets (last year, it was two games) with the "Maize Out" distinction. In the student section, every game should be a maize out. IF the department would like to mark tickets in other sections, by all means go ahead (I don't know if they currently do, but by the results of past maize outs, I would assume not). Telling students that a couple games will be maize outs gives the impression that other trips to the Big House have no unofficial dress code, when in fact they should.
The Greek Community Aside from arriving any time after 7:00 in the first quarter, and leaving in the mid-third the Greek Community at Michigan also serves as a detriment to student section glory. I'm not talking about the seemingly endless supply of Mike Hart and Tom Brady (who they hadn't even heard of before Super Bowl 38) jerseys available at AEPi and Pike fraternity houses, but rather the "Show Your Letters" shirts that are always worn in the fall by Greeks. Most (all?) chapters require their members to wear these shirts on football Saturdays, and they are always blue (or in some cases, pink for sororities). The athletic department should reach out to the Interfraternal Council and the Panhellenic organization to work toward having shirts that accomplish the missions of both the Greeks (advertising) and the AD (uniform yellowness).
Maize Jerseys Finally, I know it is not a popular idea among many Michigan fans (particularly the traditionalists), but a maize jersey for the football team (for example, during a maize out night game, novl idea, I know) would go a long way toward assisting in a maized out student section with regularity. Those same people who insist on wearing their OMG TOM BRADY jersey to the game would have an OMG SAM MCGUFFIE option that would not hinder the chromatic continuity of the student section.
So what does the grand exit of Justin Boren mean to the team? Well, the best offensive lineman is now gone, and one of the two starters who was returning from a talented-but-underachieving 2007 group. Jake Long and Adam Kraus graduated, and Alex Mitchell left the program (he would likely have not made it through spring conditioning, and may have seen the writing on the wall). Now, only Steve Schilling is back for Michigan's o-line. The reason I only planned for pre-spring and post-spring depth charts (until fall camp, of course), is because of the unpredictability of events like this. A lot of freshmen will likely have to play in the fall.
Unless Rich Rodriguez is able to work some magic and bring Boren back to the team, the unit will be very shaky in 2008. However, given the language Rodriguez used when speaking about Boren (or avoiding speaking about him), it is unlikely that we will see Justin back. This also means that his younger brother Zach is probably out of the picture for the 2009 recruiting class. Boren's departure will also affect the 209 recruiting class by forcing Rodriguez to take a second very large class of offensive linemen. If they can get production out of the younger players, there will be a very experienced line in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Ending two days of speculation, Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed at his press conference today that Justin Boren has left the Michigan football team. Boren was projected as a starter at one of the guard positions in the fall, and was likely the best lineman on the team. This defection leaves the team dangerously thin along the line. Boren's father, Mike, played for Bo in the early 80s, and his brother Zach is a 2009 defensive end/fullback/nose guard prospect.
Boren is the latest in a long line of players leaving the Michigan program since Rodriguez was announced as head coach. Wide receivers Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington opted to forgo their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft. Quarterback Ryan Mallett transfered to Arkansas, and linemen Alex Mitchell and Jeremy Cuilla left for personal reasons.
Thanks to a couple guys who e-mailed me about new prospects, and always to Brian, for unearthing a few I hadn't heard about yet. I checked out these guys and added the ones I found to meet the arbitrary criteria I established for the board.
Added: OH DE Devon Curtis. A high school teammate of Patrick Omameh.
One of the great allures of the bowl season is being able to see evenly-matched teams duke it out on a neutral site. However, is that perception or reality? Of course, the teams aren't always evenly matched (see USC v. Illinois), nor is the site ever truly neutral (see USC v. Illinois). Fans of the SEC are always quick to cite their good record in bowl games (and any other stat that perpetuates the OMG SEC AWESOMEZ myth). What they are failing to mention is that the SEC has a de facto home game for many of their games. What other conferences are favored? Let's take a look.
2008 bowl season winning percentage by conference:
Average Distance from Bowl Site (in miles as the crow flies) tells us, on average, how far each conference team had to travel to get to their game. However, this doesn't tell us the whole story. If two teams are both very far from the bowl in which they will be playing, there is no real home field advantage ceded for either one. To give a better idea of home-field advantage, it would be better to look at how much location may favor one team over the other. Delta distance measures how much closer to bowl site a team is over their opponent. The conference numbers are sums of all of these (in miles as the crow flies). As you can see, the PAC-10 and SEC are heavily favored by this, as is the Mountain West conference. Perhaps not coincidentally, these have the highest win percentages of any conference. Of note is the fact that every single SEC team had a positive Delta distance. That is, they were all closer to their bowl site than the opponent.
Of course, the sample sizes are very small, so it is hard to draw any definite conclusions, but it is apparent that some conferences are favored rather heavily by the locations of their bowls. If anyone would like this data to work with the numbers a bit more, drop your contact information in the comments.
Michigan Senior Kevin Porter has been named to this list of Ten semi-finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey's top individual honor. Porter leads the nation in scoring. Here's what the Hobey Baker folks have to say about Kevin:
Kevin Porter – Michigan, Senior, Forward, Northville, Michigan Consistency defines the nation’s leading scorer as the Wolverine captain has produced points in all but six of the 38 games he’s played. Porter helped guide his team to the CCHA regular season title and is a finalist for the league’s Player of the Year award and Best Defensive Forward award. He was also named to the CCHA First Team.
In 38 games, has 28 goals, 28 assists for 56 points – 14 PPG is third in nation
Second in the country in goals and tied for ninth in assists – 16 multi-point games
Was third in the nation in scoring last year – Phoenix draft pick
To vote for Porter in the Hobey Baker semifinals, visit the official website. Porter and the Wolverines will take on Miami in the CCHA finals tonight at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Fans can catch the game on FSN Detroit at 7:35.
...a post about a team that wasn't even close to getting there!
Michigan's 2007-08 season was a disappointment by almost any standards. Not only did Michigan not make the postseason, but the Wolverines were well below .500, and lost to opponents both superior and inferior. A lack of senior leadership (Ron Coleman was the team's only graduating player) and overall depth (Michigan had only 9ish scholarship players after several Wolverines left the program) were key factors leading to the poor outcome for the team. A lack of players who were capable of running John Beilein's offensive system, which is heavy on three pointers, was also a stumbling block.
The future, however, is much brighter. Michigan loses only Ronald Coleman as a scholarship player, and has three incoming freshmen who are better fits for the Beilein offense than the players left behind by Tommy Amaker. Ben Cronin, a big man who can shoot, and a pair of shooting guards with long range capabilities in Stu Douglass and Zach Novak spell a brighter future for the team. Additionally, Arizona transfer Laval Lucas-Perry will bring additional talent. Losing Coleman is not a big hit. Though he was recruited as a shooter, he could not hit from the outside consistently enough for Beilein's system.
Roster Analysis - 2008-09
Class of '12
Class of '11
Class of '10
Class of '09
With 13 scholarships allowed for the team, Michigan will either be able to take one more freshman next year, or bank the schollie for the following recruiting class and give it to preferred walkon Eric Puls. Please note that the roster on MGoBlue is terrible, so this may not be entirely accurate.
Minutes Played: Top 4 return. (Harris, Sims, Udoh, Grady). Points Scored: Top 6 return. (Harris, Sims, Udoh, Grady, Gibson, Wright). Steals: Top 5 return. (Harris, Sims, Udoh, Lee, Grady). Blocks: Top 6 return. (Udoh, Sims, Gibson, Harris, Wright, Shepherd). Assists: Top 3 return. (Grady, Harris, Lee).
The main scary part is assist-to-turnover ratio. While the top two (Kelvin Grady and C.J. Lee) return, Coleman was third, and at 1.25 the only other player with more than one assist per turnover. Fans can take heart in the fact that two of the top three Michigan players in terms of turnovers (Manny Harris and Kelvin Grady) were just freshman, and it stands to reason that they have nowhere to go but up.
Locus of Control is a psychological term referring to whether a person believes that, in a given situation, they control the outcome (internal locus of control), or if they are being forced into a given outcome by the circumstances (external locus of control). Here, it is applied to college football defensive coordinators.
Defensively, belief in an internal locus of control would lead a coordinator to create a system and scheme wherein the defense attacks the offense, and forces them into making adjustments to the defenders. Belief in an external locus of control would consist of soft zone teams, and schemes that are primarily based upon a read-and-react ideology. Of course, offenses go into every given play with either a run or pass called, so the defense does not have quite the autonomy that an offensive team might have.
Defensive coordinators who believe in a scheme that places faith in an external locus of control are those who run almost all zones, and believe that their superior execution can prevent opponents from moving the ball down the field and scoring. In defensive fronts and linebackers, former Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann's "read and react" ideology is the perfect example of external locus of control. By definition, you think the offense controls the play, and you hope to stop what they are doing after it begins its progress.
At the other end of the spectrum is the internal locus of control. Defensive coordinators that utilize heavy blitzing are certainly believers in this. The blitzes are designed to force the offense into changing what it wants to do. For running, that would be cause the running back to say "oh shit, I'm screwed," and for passing, it would be either sacking the quarterback or forcing him to make a bad throw (or one that doesn't get his team a first down). Along the front, internal locus of control coordinators would like their defensive linemen to play downhill and get after the quarterback or running back.
So which type of defensive philosophy is better? It really all depends. If a team has superior athletes, it can easily sit back in a zone and play bend-not-break principles. On the other hand, it can also play aggressively, and rack up a lot of negative plays for the opposing offense - but likely give up a big play or two the other way. With inferior talent, it will be hard for defensive linemen or blitzers to get through blockers (without sending so many men as to risk giving up an easy big play to the other team), so they are more likely to play soft, and hope they can not break, or come up with some stops. Like pretty much everything in football strategy, a mix of the two ideals is preferable.
In 2006 and 2007, Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English played with a balanced defensive system. From some games, it is apparent that he preferred to attack, believing in an internal locus of control. However, over the course of both seasons, it seems as though he wasn't always allowed to run the defense the way he wanted, and the overall coaching philosophy of the program was to play it a little more safely.
In 2008, new Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer will run a defensive scheme that believes wholeheartedly in an internal locus of control. His teams will blitz heavily, and place an emphasis on getting into the backfield to take down the running back or quarterback. This aggressive philosophy (especially with Michigan's veteran defensive front) will allow Michigan to rack up many tackles for loss, but could also result in big plays given up to the opposition. However, as he told me earlier this year, the scheme will also react to what the offense is doing (though I believe he meant that as more of a formational adjustment, not an adjustment to the plays the offense is running).
Added IL QB Darwin Rogers - run-pass QB from Chicago. FL RB Vincent Smith - HS teammate of Martavious Odoms and Nu'Keese Richardson. May be close to a Michigan offer. GA TE Terrell Mitchell - He claims a Michigan offer. IL OL Chris Watt. He has a Michigan offer. OH LB Dan Fox. Michigan Junior Day attendee.
Removed OH WR Josh Jones. At this time, it doesn't appear that he will be a top prospect.
Nobody is surprised, but perhaps this could have a positive effect on Michigan's 2009 recruiting. The Russell Shepard competition may be over, but other prospects who have less solid commitments may waver, reconsidering Michigan. For any uncommitted dual-threat QB in the 2009 class, this event is almost guaranteed to make Michigan #1 (or at least in the top group) on the list.
Do I think Pryor made the right decision? Not really, because he's going to be in an offense less suited for his skills (Jim Tressell, in my opinion, is a mediocre-at-best in-game coach against anyone but Michigan), and NFL scouts and advisor Charlie Batch all thought Michigan was a better choice for Terrelle.
I won't look forward to the Wolverines having to face him in a couple of years, but this choice has been a foregone conclusion for so long that this doesn't really hurt. It will be interesting to see what Rich Rodriguez does with the final remaining scholarship in the 2008 class. Smart money says he saves it for next year's class.
Locus of Control is a psychological term referring to whether a person believes that, in a given situation, they control the outcome (internal locus of control), or if they are being forced into a given outcome by the circumstances (external locus of control). Here, it is applied to college football defensive coordinators.
On the offensive end, locus of control is not necessarily an indicator of aggressiveness or run/pass ratio. Bo Schembechler, for example, believed very strongly in an internal locus of control (note: this specifically refers to years when the option was not heavily featured). His philosophy was to run down the opposition's throat, and put a hat on a hat and beat the guy on the other side of the line. This was a very run-heavy offense. On the other end of the spectrum is the sort of team that tries to force the action by moving the ball downfield. USC's 2003-05 offense was a good example of this. With confidence in Matt Leinart, Norm Chow, Steve Sarkisian, and Lane Kiffin were able to throw down the field with great success. As John David Booty showed over the next two years, however, this method is less likely to succeed with lower talent at the QB position.
At the other end of the locus of control spectrum lies external. This would be coaches taking what the defense gives them. These types of offense can succeed with less talent (specifically at the QB position in passing offenses) , and excel with great talent. A run-heavy team that relies on belief in an external locus of control would be Nebraska 1995. With Tommie Frazier at the helm, the Huskers ran an option attack. The base belief of the option is to hand off, pitch, or keep, reacting to what the defense will give you. In a passing attack, Purdue under Joe Tiller and Hawaii under June Jones are perfect examples of belief in external locus of control. These offenses rely heavily on bubble screens and short routes that the offense is willing to give up to avoid allowing the ball to be hurled downfield. Nickel-and-diming to score is their focus. This type of offense can succeed with less success at quarterback (see: Curtis Painter, Colt Brennan).
The ideal offense is a healthy mixture of believing in external and internal loci. Setting up the play-action with the run (play-action incorporates both controls, by forcing th defense to react in one way, then breaking their expectations), throwing both downfield and short passes, etc., seems to be the best way to run an offense that is both explosive and consistent (explosive=internal, consistent=external). LSU in 2007, despite not having a great offense, was able to blend the two beliefs very well, resulting in a high-scoring but consistent team. While we're on the topic of LSU, going for fourth downs a la Les Miles would be belief in internal locus of control, rather than external, in which you take the field goal (which the defense is "giving you").
On to recent Michigan teams. Michigan has been a fairly evenly-balanced run-pass team during the Lloyd Carr era. However, especially with Mike Debord, there has been a nearly-singular belief in an internal locus of control. "Hey man, we're going to run left twice, no matter what you do" was the Mike Debord gameplan for seemingly every first down in 2007. Obviously, the Florida game was an exception, when Michigan had a nearly perfect gameplan: a healthy mix of run and pass, and a healthy mix of internal and external locus of control in both segments of the offense. For the rest of the year, however, Lloyd Carr preferred to adhere to an internal locus of control, while running the ball to "protect the defense."
In 2008, it can be presumed that Rich Rodriguez will bring an offensive style that is at least similar to the one West Virginia has run in past years, even though the talent isn't distributed among the skill positions in a similar manner at Michigan that it was at WVU. This means the offense will be slightly run-heavy (though there will likely be more passing than there has been at WVU in recent years), with a very strong belief in an external locus of control. This is an option offense that looks to capitalize on what the defense is doing, rather than forcing its will upon the defenders.
This is very much focused on taking what the defense gives you. So, look for Michigan's offense in 2008 to be a slightly run-heavy externally-controlled spread-option attack.
I don't think Patrick Roy or Dominik Hasek in their prime could have saved UNO tonight. In fact, I think the Weasels could have pulled Sauer at the start, gone 6-on-5 the whole night and won 18-5. UNO's only hope was that Sauer would have switched places with Charles, the WOLV-TV "sideline" reporter. Sauer probably would have been more informative on the webcast, and UNO might have scored enough goals against the reporter to make the game a little more competitive.
Poor Charles. He did kind of have "Boom goes the dynamite" potential though. At one point, I believe his report was, "Eric Elmblad is playing in his first game tonight. He had a nice hip check, though a penalty was called on the play. He really hasn't done anything else. Back to you."
Poor Charles, indeed. If you want to see better examples of his work, check out his blog.
Both the Detroit News and the Michigan Daily (featuring quotes from Mary Sue Coleman, the most obvious source in the world for a story like this!) have articles that essentially sate Jim Carty is nothing more than a gossip monger, trying to make a name for himself by making something out of nothing. In the Daily article, even Professor Paris, Carty's crucial witness, declined an interview because he wanted nothing to do with Carty's slam piece.
The only point I haven't seen Carty ridiculed on is his assertion that athletes were allowed to enroll in classes only a month before the semester ends, with professor permission. What Carty fails to mention is that this is the late Drop-Add deadline, during which any student can enroll in a class with prohttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.giffessor permission.
Added: NC RB Desmond Scott. Jim Stefani notes that he would be a good fit for RR's spread offense. MN WR Bryce McNeal. He has been offered by Michigan. UT OL Xavier Sua'filo. He seems like a top prospect, and has stated that he is interested in Michigan.
Removed: VA QB Tajh Boyd. This means Virginia Tech will be more likely to pursue Kevin Newsome even harder, making it difficult for Michigan to land him. New Information: MS WR Dennis Thames has been offered by Michigan. SC DE Chris Bonds has been offered. TN WR Marlon Brown won't decide until after signing day. OH OL Chris Freeman plans to attend several spring practices.
Brief summary of Carty's (again idiotic) points: 1. Athletes want to get their degrees (just like just about everyone else at the University). 2. They want to make getting their degree as easy as possible (just like most other students). 3. They go about getting their degrees in a legal and ethical way by taking an easy major (like about half of other students (I'm looking at you, fellow Comm majors)). 4. When one degree (kinesiology) became to hard to get, a number of athletes switched to a different, completely legal and ethical degree path.
Smoking gun, Carty still seeks. 0 for 2 so far. The main frustration for me is that real life journalists and ESPN journalists are going to take this drivel and run with it, giving Carty some sort of credibility that he is no where close to deserving.
I will not link to it, because it's mostly really crappy, but Jim Carty's long-awaited article (written with John Heuser and Nathan Fenno) regarding some sort of academic scandal involving student-athletes at Michigan has finally been published by the Ann Arbor News. The general idea is that a lot of athletes take independent study courses with professor Jon Hagen.
Brief Synopsis of Carty's Arguments: 1) There are easy classes at the University. 2) Some athletes take these easy classes. 3) Academic advisors help athletes pick their classes.
All of these points so far are like, duh. He is actually trying to criticize advisors for doing their jobs, which... what?
Brief Summary of Carty's sources: 1) Two disgruntled former University employees. 2) Student athletes, who describe their classes. 3) A guy in the psych department who got passed over by the professor in question for a promotion, and admits he is not an impartial source. 4) Not Mary Sue Coleman, who agreed to answer some questions over e-mail, and was turned down by Carty.
Carty also notes repeatedly that there have been repeated reviews of Hagen's classes by the psych department and the college of LSA, all of which has proven that his independent study courses are aboveboard. So, what's the problem? There is no Auburn situation here.
Apparently this is the first in a series of four articles on the topic, but if this is supposed to be the bombshell article, it was certainly a dud. This article proves nothing other than that Jim Carty is trying to make a name for himself, and will take a standard situation, and try to spin it into a controversy.
In Scott Shafer's presumably blitz-happy defensive scheme, Brandon Harrison will probably remain at designated-blitzer-defensive-back-guy. The starting safeties will be the biggest item of interest. Stevie Brown will probably be free (and will be better than he looked against App State, I promise), but will Charles Stewart be strong, or can a younger guy step up? I also wonder if Michael Williams has finally worked out all of his health issues.
Looking at this depth chart, it's somewhat surprising to see how big a DB class came in last year (and how few of them redshirted).
I'm of the opinion that, with the lack of speed defensive ends, you may see a player like Marrell Evans, who was a defensive end/designated rusher in high school, move down to the DL. The true freshmen won't be here until fall, so we won't know if one of them makes a similar transition (i.e. Marcus Witherspoon). Other things include the starting LB unit. Where does Obi Ezeh start, and how does this affect who the other starting LB will be?
There is a lot of depth at the SAM position, even before the freshmen come in. Because of this, most LBs will probably learn multiple positions.
Spring will be a good time to tell us a couple of important facts about the defensive front. First, is Jason Kates going to stay with the team? Conflicting reports have stated that he has quit, while other assert he is still with the team. If he doesn't participate in spring practice, we can assume he is gone. Also, a few positions will be ironed out. Adam Patterson, Ryan VanBergen, and Greg Banks haven't been established at one particular position, and we'll be able to get a better idea where the S&C has taken their bodies.
In terms of performance, I really want to know if there is any quality depth behind the starters, especially helpful to see who can step up as starters when three members of the D-line leave after 2008. Mike Martin and a top-notch freshman defensive end will not be around for the spring. Unfortunately, the defensive end will not be around for the fall either.
12:04 PM Tipoff is won by Iowa. 18:10 1H Iowa finally draws first blood on a drive to the hoop. Udoh get some post points to answer. 17:30 1H Iowa misses another open look for three. Michigan has given up a couple of those, they're lucky Iowa hasn't capitalized. 16:57 1H Another open Iowa look that Michigan is lucky they missed. Udoh draws the loose-ball foul on the rebound, 16:21 1H Michigan gets his first lead of the game on a Manny Harris jumper. Michigan forces Iowa to run down the clock and take a DEEP three that is missed. 14:34 1H Michigan's strong man defense puts a lot of pressure on the ball, forcing a turnover. Anthony Wright capitalizes on the other end with three. The defense is looking good other than the giving up of open threeball looks earlier. 14:33 1H Timeout. 10-4 Michigan. 13:41 1H Iowa nails a threeball, then there's a TV timeout on a Michigan foul when the Hawkeyes get the ball back. 10-7 Michigan. 12:37 1H More strong man defense from Michigan leads to a Hawkeye turnover. Deshawn Sims hits a jumper on the break. Fortunately for the Wolverines, Iowa is stone cold from the floor. 12:03 1H Three ball is good for Manny Harris. After a couple more missed Iowa FGs, Deshawn Sims is fouled rebounding the ball. TV Timeout. 15-7 Michigan 11:39 1H. 11:25 1H Manny Harris comes of the dribble-handoff screen and nails a fairly deep three. Michigan 4-7 from the arc. More good defensive pressure from Michigan. They knock the ball out of bounds with 12 of the shot clock and Michigan steals off the inbound, leading to more Manny Harris points. 9:56 1H Iowa gets a switch off a screen, adn Freeman uses a nice stepback move on Anthony Wright. 9:30 1H David Merritt makes an appearance! 9:10 1H Commentator notices that Michigan is showing much more hustle. the 22-9 lead is certainly evidence of that. 8:43 1H Where was this defense all year? Obviously the poor shooting so far by Iowa has helped, but Michigan is causing turnovers left and right. this time, it's a 3-second violation. 7:52 1H Really nice play by Iowa to get Michigan scrambling, then a fake shot to feed down low for an easy deuce. 22-11 Michigan 7:23 1H. 7:01 1H Not a great offensive foul called, drawn by Ekpe Udoh. I'll take it. Deshawn Sims gets a three on the other side. 6:19 1H A better call this time, as Justin Johnson's shoulder is lowered and the forearm extended. You really don't want to get an offensive foul that far from the basket. 5:35 1H Loose ball foul on Iowa, though I think the play should have been called out of bounds off the top of the backboard first. 4:43 1H Michigan is coming back to its regular form, as they turn it over for the second consecutive trip down the floor. Iowa is getting a chance to stay in this game. An and-1 for the Hawks does just that. 4:25 1H The first free throw for either team is missed. Manny Harris gets a deep 2 on the other end. TV Timeout. 3:54 1H 27-15 Michigan. Iowa shooting 2 when we get back. 3:15 1H Cyrus Tate heads to the foul line once more. This time it was a pretty bad call, as Ekpe Udoh kept his arms completely vertical the whole time. Tate gets both. 2:55 1H Ekpe Udoh's second foul comes on an illegal screen. Michigan's at-least-once-per-game scoring drought has begun. 2:24 1H Zach Gibson ends the drought with authority, getting a big dunk and the foul. He does work on the other end as well, accepting a charge from Tony Freeman. 1:53 1H Michigan's strong defense again forces a bad shot by Iowa. The ricochet of the rim ends up out of bounds, off the Hawkeyes. 1:08 1H Gibson nearly blocks a runner off the glass, but it drops for Iowa, and they are back within 8. 0:39 1H Offensive rebound, true hustle play by Gibson. Tate fouls Deshawn Sims. He'll shoot 1-and-1. 0:18 1 H after a good half of defense, Michigan lets a three ball shooter get wide open again, and this time Iowa capitalizes. Zach Gibson finishes the half with a field goal. Halftime. Michigan leads 34-25.
With Mark Dantonio's early success in 2009 recruiting, it's important for Michigan to nab a couple of high-profile prospects from the state to slow down the momentum. Candidates for this I think would be:
Dion Sims TE/DE **** Orchard Lake St. Mary's (offer) James Jackson WR **** Grand Blanc (offer) Hersey Jackson RB/MX *** Allendale (no offer) Teric Jones RB/Slot *** Detroit Cass Tech (no offer) Zach Matthias OT *** Hemlock (no offer) Cameron Gordon WR *** Inkster (no offer) Reid Fragel TE/OT *** Grosse Pointe South (no offer) Thomas Gordon QB *** Detroit Cass Tech (no offer)
Of those, the only one who is a pipe dream to commit is James Jackson. Sims is also unlikely, but possible. I believe any of the others could commit if offered, along with lower-ranked state prospects if they get offers.
Out of state prospects who could be candidates to commit:
Zach Boren LB/DE *** Pickerington, OH (no offer) Morgan Newton QB **** Carmel, IN (no offer) Justin Turner DB **** Massilon, OH Washington (offer)
I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan got upwards of five commits, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Rich Rodriguez ended up with no pledges.
If you only check this blog once a day, make sure you don't miss out on the post about Junior Day, directly below this one. The Recruiting Board has been updated slightly to include headings for each column. This was based on the requests from a couple of readers. Also, OK RB David Oku now has an offer. A request regarding said recruiting board: Do readers prefer Hometown and School fields OR State and Hometown/School fields? Leave your response in the comments to this post (and any other requests/suggestions you may have for the board, while you're at it).
The Big House Thing Various fans and members of the blogosphere are up in arms about Michigan Stadium's capacity being below that of Beaver Stadium during the next two years. Personally, I think it is no big deal.
While having the largest stadium in the nation is something nice to be able to hang your hat on, I'm pretty sure avoiding constant litigation is more productive for the athletic department. Being able to get on the good side of the ADA also holds Michigan to the higher moral standard that I believe is an important aspect of our Tradition, and rids us of the annoyance of John Pollack, who Brian dubs (not-so-affectionately) "The Hero of Tienanmen Square."
It's also important to note that Michigan Stadium, despite announcing it was the home of "the largest crowd watching a football game anywhere in America today," did not in fact hold this distinction on two Saturdays. The September 8th contest against Oregon was outdrawn by Notre Dame's visit to Happy Valley (109,733 to 110,078) and Michigan and Penn State's respective beatdowns of Eastern Michigan and Iowa had the attendance battle go to the Lions as well (108,415 to 108,951). The top 15 most-attended games in '07 were all in Ann Arbor or State College, with the top 4 taking place in the Big House.
It is important to note that Michigan Stadium was not at or below official capacity (107,501) once in 2007, nor would I expect this to be the case in 2008 (at 106,201). With a new headman in Ann Arbor, and a lot of media interest surrounding this change, it is likely that there will be many members of the media in attendance, at least for the first game. Media and other game services personnel account for the difference between capacity and attendance. Penn State is also the only school in America who averaged more than Michigan Stadium's projected new capacity (other than Michigan, of course). An exciting style of play, as Michigan is expected to have, will only help the case.
So, do I think this is a lot of hand-wringing about something that won't greatly affect anyone? Yes. There is little practical reason to have a dick measuring contest in terms of attendance. It won't impress recruits (they will still be awed at the sheer expanse of Michigan Stadium, and think that Beaver Stadium looks like an erector set gone wrong (for the record, I like the stadium, but it is far from aesthetically appealing)).
Recruiting Woes Speaking of fans being irrationally concerned over matters, many are starting to express worry over the lack of Michigan commitments so far in this class. There are a few points that people will need to take into account before they start jumping of bridges.
Rich Rodriguez and staff had to play catch up on 2008 before they could worry about 2009. While other staffs had their 2008 classes completed, and were sending out feelers to 2009 prospects, Rodriguez had to first secure all of Lloyd Carr's previous commitments, then get more players to sign with the Maize and Blue (Hill, Floyd, Feagin, Roundtree, Shaw, Robinson, Odoms, Barnum, Omameh), almost all of whom were four-star prospects. Odoms's recruitment even stretched out past signing day, and Terrelle Pryor's is obviously still ongoing (even if many Michigan fans have given up, don't think for one second that Rodriguez has). Thus, other schools (including Michigan State) had a head start on Michigan.
Mark Dantonio's class is looking good, but the players haven't signed anything yet, and some of them might not fit Michigan's new system. Brian covered this yesterday.
Michigan is one of the last schools to have its junior day. While schools like Texas get nearly their entire classes to commit at junior days, Michigan hasn't had an opportunity to hold its junior day yet. This is mostly because of playing catch-up (see above, in addition to the coaches getting to know existing players and each other). Junior Day is finally coming tomorrow, and with more offers likely being given out, and a good possibility for a commit or two, Michigan will jump back into the recruiting game with a vengeance.
Tomorrow night, Michigan will be holding its 2008 junior day. While past Michigan junior days have been held surrounding a basketball game, this year that is not the case.
Michigan will be holding its first annual "Night of Champions," likely taking its name from the famous New York Bodybuilding competition. "Night of Champions" is neither a novel idea nor name, taking place at such schools as Central Michigan, Idaho, and even reclassifying school Western Kentucky. However, it is certainly a departure from the way Michigan has operated in the past. As the name references, this event is a competition between members of the football team to show off their physical improvement from winter strength and conditioning.
Back to the topic of juniors, expect mostly regional prospects (in-state, Ohio, Indiana, maybe northeastern Illinois or western Pennsylvania) to attend. From the recruiting board (and some who have been removed/not added), that would include (my educated guesses on) the following prospects (and definitely several more):
Michigan QB Mike Schaaf - Not a dual threat, but could be a good baseball prospect that could pick UM and also play football. QB Thomas Gordon - A fallback prospect, though his teammates Will Campbell (committed) and Teric Jones (seeking an offer) will almost definitely come. RB Edwin Baker - He now has a UM offer, though his commitment to Sparty may prevent him from attending. RB Teric Jones - He may get his offer at RB or slot, and he is one who could commit if the offer comes through. RB Larry Caper - Committed to State, and new-UM hasn't shown tons of interest, but he could make it in. Hersey Jackson - He wants a UM offer. WR James Jackson - He has a Michigan offer, and Michigan wants him badly. WR Cameron Gordon - Prospect on Michigan's radar who is still looking for an offer. TE Dion Sims - He has an offer and Michigan wants him. OLSM BBall lost last night so he should be able to make it in. TE Reid Fragel - Potential future OT could hope for an offer. TE Mitch Kessel - Probably won't ever garner an offer unless our recruiting class starts (continues?) to suck late in the year. OT Zach Matthias - He is still an instate sleeperish type guy. OG Ricky Clemons - Could be looking for a future offer. OG Aaron McCord - Also a potential DL target. DT William Campbell - Michigan commit can recruit for the good guys at this event. LB Chris Norman - An MSU commit. S Brock Reynolds S Jamonne Chester S Shamari Benton
Ohio WR Josh Jones - Looking for big name offers. Can he make the long trip during a school day? OT Marcus Hall - Top prospect. Michigan would love for him to come in. OT Chris Freeman - From Trotwood-Madison. LB Zach Boren - Legacy recruit with no scholarship offer. LB Julius Ferrell S Justin Turner CB DJ Hunter CB Tony Graham - Another Trotwood guy.
Also, NC S Devonte Holloman's lovely mug is featured in the free portion of the latest Scout post about Junior Day, so don't be surprised if makes an attempt to come in.
**BONUS** If Trotwood guys come in, they may be accompanied by some of Michigan's 2008 commits from their school. Same story with Boubacar Cissoko and the Cass Tech guys, and maybe even BB commit Stu Douglass tagging along with Morgan Netwon? **Double Bonus** If Jordan Hall can make it in, may he bring along uncommitted 2008 uber-recruit Terrelle Pryor? I'm sure Michigan would be very pleased to have him in, especially if he brought his mother with him.
Defensive spring preview coming tomorrow, the last day before the start of spring practice.
The offensive line will be the area of least knowledge going into the spring for those not affiliated with the program. A new skill set will likely be required of Rich Rodriguez's offensive linemen than was of Lloyd Carr's. The existing players with the best fit will play under Rodriguez. Not-yet-existing for this spring are incoming freshmen Dann O'Neill, Rocko Khoury, Kurt Wermers, Ricky Barnum, Elliott Mealer, and Patrick Omameh. At the guard positions, it looks like at least one of them will have to play for depth this season.
While I think it would be good for Steve Schilling to move inside (both for his skill set and depth along the interior), I have heard he is being kept at tackle for now. Ortmann will likely man the left tackle spot, and Boren is a lock at one of the guard positions, barring injury. David Moosman and Molk will battle with Tim McAvoy for the remaining two spots. I have given the nod to those that I think are more likely to win the battles.
After spring, there will be a lot more clarity as to where certain guys will fit. Of note: Nobody on this depth chart will lose their eligibility following this season.
The only freshman who will participate in spring practice is Darryl Stonum. None of the others (Shaw, Roundtree, Odoms, Robinson, Koger, and Moore) will arrive on campus until fall camp. Position battles include Butler v. Massey at tight end (I see Butler excelling in the Rodriguez system - if he can make it through the conditioning regimen) and the #2 receiver spot is essentially up for grabs, along with slot receiver. Avery Horn is listed under slot (as well as RB), because it is unclear which position he is more likely to play (probably a combination).
Part 2 in the Pre-spring preview. Today will be the offense.
Threet (fFr) AND/OR Feagin (Fr)
Minor (Jr) OR Brown (Jr)
McGuffie (Fr) OR Horn (rFr)
Obviously Justin Feagin, Mike Cox, and Sam McGuffie are not going to be around until the fall, and will not participate in spring practice. Thus, the positional battles will not be fully settled until the fall. Battles of note: I think Vince Helmuth will become the starter in a system that places a greater emphasis on athleticism. Kevin Grady is listed at tailback on this chart, though it is possible that spring brings a change to the MX position, or at least learning both of the positions. Andre Criswell is more of a classic fullback (and is not even exceptional at that position); I'm not sure if he's much of a fit at MX. I'm starting to wonder if a player like him will ever find a spot on Rich Rodriguez's team.
I reranked the players in accordance with the latest set of Scout rankings, and moved a couple of guys' positions. There is new information on most prospects. I also added new fields for offer status and decision/enrollment timetables. Player/personal and recruiting information have been separated. Most of the new players come on the recommendation of Jim Stefani, who I owe big time.
Changed position: OH S Justin Turner had been at CB MS CB David Conner had been at LB AZ DE Corey Adams had been at DT TX DT Jamarcus McFarland had been at DE
Added: FL WR Andre Debose MA OL Brennan Williams AZ DE Devon Kennard MD LB Jelani Jenkins OH LB Julius Ferrell GA S Donavan Tate MI S Shamari Benton PA CB Corey Brown GA CB Ryan Campbell
Chesterton Indiana shooting guard Zach Novak (6-4, 215) has committed to Coach John Beilein of the Michigan basketball program. He is the third player committed to the Wolverines. His local paper does not like to spellcheck. Like, even for the name of the person the article is about. He was an Indiana All-Star as a junior. Novak is a three point shooter who will fit in well with the Michigan team, other than the fact that he is actually capable of making the occasional shot.
Mike Martin will be joining the Michigan football team in the fall, but he ended his high school days at Detroit Catholic Central with his other favorite sport: wrestling.
Martin was the 2007 state champion in the heavyweight division, and defended his crown successfully, winning a 7-3 decision over DJ Charneski of Hartland. Martin finished the year with a record of 42-1.
This will be the first in a series detailing team information as it as I see it before spring practice.
Prior to spring practice, nobody outside the Michigan coaching staff has a concrete idea of ANYTHING that will happen with the team. Several players on Michigan's squad will undergo position changes, either because their bodies have developed differently, or their skill set is compatible with a different position under the Rich Rodriguez system than it was under Coach Carr. Positions that are essentially the same, but with different terminology (i.e. FB and MX) won't be covered. As a side note, the eiligibility chart has been updated to correct a few mistakes.
Previously undefined positions Players who hadn't established themselves at any given position (usually freshmen or other young players) or had bounced around during the course of their Michigan careers so far (usually Andre Criswell).
Doug Dutch played a couple years at WR, then was a backup CB last year. He may switch back, or stay at CB as a depth player, or even move to safety.
Andre Criswell has been a fullback, tight end thingy, and various other things. He doesn't really have a natural position. The staff will try him out a couple different places in the spring.
Zion Babb recruited as a wide receiver, but he has played both WR and DB in his first year. He will probably be solidified at one of those positions.
Marell Evans came out of high school as a defensive end, then played linebacker and special teams in his first year. He could either learn the LB position better, or be Barwised into a true defensive end, where there isn't much depth.
Quinton Patilla is another guy who has bounced around, with stops at fullback (where players without a position go to die). He'll need to have his position defined in the spring.
James Rogers was a high school running back, who committed as a wide receiver. Then, he spent most of last year learning to play safety. He might stay there, but it's too soon to consider it set in stone.
Avery Horn played running back in high school. He is a speedy guy who will play slot receiver with some RB mixed in. I'd also be very surprised if he didn't get a chance at returning kicks.
Ryan Van Bergen is a defensive end who redshirted last year. He has the frame to switch to offensive tackle if he has interest in making the move.
Position moves Guys who have been playing a particular position that may see a change to something else.
Kevin Grady was a running back in his first couple year, then sat out last year with an ACL injury. With the seeming abundance of bodies, he might become an MX, with some major speed at the position.
Adam Patterson had been playing on the interior of the OL. With improved strength and conditioning, he might be able to move outside to defensive end.
Carlos Brown has been a running back, but he might switch to quarterback, and will likely take snaps at the position in the spring, even there is no plan for a permanent change.