Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chris Rock, Wolverine

St. Francis DeSales defensive end Chris Rock
Six-foot-five, 250 lb. defensive end Chris Rock committed to Michigan on Friday. He's the first BBQ at the Big House attendee to commit this year, having visited Michigan for a cookout the previous weekend. While Rock hails from the nether reaches of Hell (a.k.a. Columbus, OH), he didn't have an offer from Ohio State. However, he did choose the Wolverines over offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Stanford, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

St. Francis DeSales is a private school of about 1,000 students, and the football team finished second in the state during Rock's junior year. As a sophomore, Rock had 60 tackles and 16 sacks. He nearly equalled those stats as a junior, racking up 15 sacks in the follow-up effort.

Judging from Rock's offer list, he looks like possibly a low 4-star prospect. Right now he's a 3-star to Scout and ranked the #49 defensive end, although rankings this early are questionable. Nonetheless, Rivals will be releasing its rankings later this week, so we'll see where he starts off in their listings.

To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield.

That being said, DeSales has produced a significant number of FBS prospects in the past few years. From 2008-2010, the school churned out seven FBS players, five of whom went to Big Ten schools; that includes Patrick Omameh from the class of 2008, a current guard for Michigan. When teams gameplan for the junior and senior playmakers on a team, that gives the unknown underclassmen a chance to shine. That might explain why Rock goes untouched in probably 75% of his highlights.

My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.

Rock is a strongside defensive end prospect. He reminds me a little bit of Anthony Lalota, another raw defensive end that Michigan recruited in the class of 2009. Whereas Lalota will remain at defensive end for the remainder of his career (in my opinion), I think Rock could grow into a 3-tech defensive tackle, much like what Ryan Van Bergen played in 2009. I think Rock's upside is rather low. He could be a decent college starter, but he doesn't have the instincts or athleticism to be an elite player for Michigan. This is a solid commitment because Michigan needs defensive linemen, but I don't think Rock is a game-changer.

TTB Rating: 58

Friday, May 28, 2010

If I had My Druthers . . . Quarterbacks

This is surely an exercise in futility, but here are the quarterbacks Michigan has offered, in the order of how I see them fitting into the system. This has nothing to do with their likeliness to commit, and it doesn't even mean that the best overall quarterback will be #1. I'm looking at how each player fits into the system. For example, Cardale Jones has a lot of potential as a quarterback, but he's low on the list due to his lack of sufficient speed for the zone read option.

1. Marquise Williams - Charlotte, NC
Good speed, good accuracy, good decision-making.

2. Braxton Miller - Huber Heights, OH
Excellent speed and athleticism. Needs to work on accuracy.

3. Brett Hundley - Chandler, AZ
Very accurate, excellent balance. Good athlete, but doesn't wow me.

4. Jerrard Randall - Hollywood, FL
Decent running ability and a strong arm.

5. Kiehl Frazier - Springdale, AR
Good all around athlete.

6. Cardale Jones - Cleveland, OH
Decent arm but too slow for Michigan's system.

7. Tanner McEvoy - Oradell, NJ
Solid 6'5" WR prospect, but he's an unknown quantity at QB. Calling the signals for first time this year.

Quarterbacks committed elsewhere: Everett Gholson (UNC), Christian LeMay (Georgia)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Bite My Thumb at You . . .

Alex Herron

As if the internet and the blogosphere weren't already awash in news and opinions about Michigan's proposed sanctions, I will toss my hat into the ring. And let me tell you, my hat smells like a hiker at the conclusion of the Appalachian Trail.

On Tuesday morning, the University of Michigan released its opinion on how it should flagellate itself. Essentially, it boils down to a few key components:

  • Michigan will lose 130 hours of football practice combined in 2010 and 2011.
  • Michigan will be on two years of probation.
  • Two quality control personnel will be banished from the staff. The other three will basically be banished from having anything to do with football-related activities.

In case you're wondering about how long 130 hours is, the NCAA limit for "countable hours" is 20 per week. That's essentially 6.5 weeks of practice spread out over two years, meaning the Wolverines will lose 3.25 weeks of practice each year through 2011. That may not sound like much, but ask any coach - any shortage of practice time is detrimental. Michigan is coming off two horrible seasons (3-9 in 2008, 5-7 in 2009) and still has a young team. They need all the practice time they can get.

The probation thing isn't a big deal in and of itself. As long as Michigan keeps its nose clean for the next two years, it shouldn't cause a problem. Unfortunately, due to Ed Martin stuffing $100 bills into Chris Webber's baggy shorts back in the early '90s, Michigan could be viewed as a repeat offender. If the University runs afoul of NCAA law again in the near future, it should be expected that MjĒ«llnir shall come crashing down upon our heads.

As for quality control people, Alex Herron ruined any chances of ever working his way up the coaching ladder. Not only was he fired because he's a liar, but he also spent extra time coaching Michigan's players and they still sucked. Seriously, if you're going to cheat, at least win at it. The only thing less effective than his extra coaching would be if Rafael Belliard used steroids.

Michigan's proposal will be heard by the NCAA on August 13, which means Michigan fans have almost another three months to fret.

All of this nonsense sucks. As a Michigan fan, it's disappointing. Frustrating. The lack of responsibility within the Michigan AD's office was astounding.

And yet, too many Michigan fans have spent time passing the buck, saying "Everybody else does it, too!" That's not a valid excuse (although Jonathan Chait disagrees). Not once in my life have I been awarded any kind of slack for that excuse. In fact, I learned at a fairly young age that such an excuse was ridiculous, self-serving, and completely lacking in the acceptance of responsibility. Sure, there are schools that do worse things. According to rumor, USC buys houses for recruits, and in the SEC, recruits get their very own stripper! And if they're ever fully investigated (as USC is) and found guilty, they should be punished to the full extent of the NCAA's law.

In the meantime, Michigan and its fans need to take their lumps. This entire investigation came about because of the Detroit Free Press, and they lied their way into luring the NCAA to Ann Arbor. Believe me, I hope the Free Press headquarters gets attacked by a giant alien dog fart.

But ultimately, this is the University of Michigan's fault. They screwed up. They hired a guy (Alex Herron) with outsized aspirations and let him do his undercover coaching. They failed to interpret/enforce the CARA reporting procedures. The AD office employed a couple guys who couldn't file reports at their bosses' requests. Regardless of why the investigation was started, it turned up some damning facts.

So here we are. Michigan's reputation has been sullied. Non-Michigan fans and national networks are cracking jokes at Michigan's expense. Potential recruits are hearing the jokes and thinking twice about being interested in becoming a Wolverine. As Michigan fans, there's nothing we can do except turn the other cheek, explain the situation to outsiders with the patience to listen, and hope that giant alien dog fart targets the Free Press soon.


Brian at MGoBlog proposes medieval punishment for the slackers who let this happen.

Bob Wojnowski at The Good Paper uses words like "measured" and "precise." Meanwhile, The Bad Paper scrambles for a dictionary.

The Free Press offers their take.

David Brandon joined The Huge Show for an interview.

Dr. Saturday offers a slightly different perspective.

Adam Rittenberg at ESPN blabs about stuff. What's got two thumbs and is glad his name isn't Dave Brandon? This guy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2011 Offer Board Update

Bryant Dubose (#85) rushes the midget quarterback

The 2011 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Kellen Jones (OLB) and Kiaro Holts (OG).

Added Austin Traylor (Quick end), Nick Vannett (TE), and Ryan Kelly (OG).

Moved Dondi Kirby from WR to CB.

Added Bryant Dubose (DE).

Moved Andrew Buie from SB to CB.

Added Michael Caputo (FS).

Michael Bennett (OG) committed to Ohio State.

Added Charles Jackson (CB).

Added Ray Ball (OT).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Scouting Report: Vincent Croce, DT - Olney, MD

Our Lady of Good Consel defensive tackle Vincent Croce

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 260 lbs.
Class: 2011
Position: Defensive tackle
School: Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, MD
40 Yard Dash: 5.17 (reported)
Vertical: 23"
Bench: 330 lbs.
Squat: 465 lbs.

Notes: Holds offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others . . . Attends Our Lady of Good Counsel, alma mater of 2009 Michigan target Jelani Jenkins . . . As a junior, had 30 tackles, 5 sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries . . . Also caught 4 passes for 55 yards at tight end . . . Played defensive tackle and tight end as a sophomore . . . Played defensive tackle, middle linebacker, and tight end as a junior . . . Tore meniscus prior to junior season . . . Gained approximately 30 lbs. between sophomore and junior year . . . Wore #89 as a sophomore and #80 as a junior

Strengths: Listed at 5.17 but seemingly plays faster . . . Ability to chase some players from sideline to sideline . . . Relentless pass rusher . . . Very aggressive tackler . . . Strong upper body . . . Uses hands well to deliver good initial shock and shed blockers . . . Good initial surge off the line . . . Relatively lean frame

Weaknesses: Not a natural knee bender . . . Stands too high . . . May get overpowered by strong run-blocking guards . . . Played significant time at linebacker, which may stunt growth as defensive lineman . . .

Projection: Could be a solid rotation player as early as second year in program

Reminds me of: Ryan Van Bergen

The following video is from Croce's sophomore year, when he was significantly lighter and a bit quicker:

Monday, May 17, 2010

2011 Offer Board update

Florida quarterback Jerrard Randall

The 2011 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Brett Hundley (QB).

Trai Turner (OG) committed to LSU.

Added Curt Evans (WR) and Jerrard Randall (QB).

Added Drew Owens (TE).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Self-Indulgent Post of the Week: Matthew Albanese

Matthew Albanese photography

The most recent Paste magazine highlighted the art of Matthew Albanese, a New Jersey native who creates landscape art from household items and the contents of his spice rack. True story. The above photograph isn't an actual twister blowing through the Great Plains. The miniature set was created from steel wool, moss, and ground parsley.

There's more neat stuff featured on Albanese's website, like a Mars scene made from paprika and a volcano built from tile grout and cotton. Since I have no artistic skill whatsoever, I'm often enthralled by people who make unique art. Mr. Albanese seems to fit that category.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Scouting Report: Cardale Jones, QB - Cleveland, OH

Is it just me or does that football look tiny?

Height: 6'5"
Weight: 217 lbs.
Class: 2011
Position: Quarterback
School: Glenville High School in Cleveland, OH
40 Yard Dash: 4.93 (reported)
Vertical: 29"

Notes: Holds offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Michigan State . . . Coached by Ted Ginn, Sr., a notoriously Ohio State-leaning coach . . . As a junior, completed 99/146 passes (67.8%) for 1,568 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions . . . As a junior, rushed for 264 yards on 56 carries (4.71 yards per carry) with 6 touchdowns . . . Wears jersey #10

Strengths: Stands tall in the pocket . . . Good play action fakes . . . Nice overhand delivery . . . Doesn't let elbow drop, even on the run . . . Keeps eyes downfield when scrambling . . . Has nice touch . . . Puts a good arc on deep throws . . . Superb accuracy for a high school quarterback . . . Above average speed for a quarterback . . . Good elusiveness in pocket

Weaknesses: Carries the ball loosely when scrambling . . . Sloppy footwork from under center . . . Doesn't have a rocket for an arm . . . Doesn't have great speed for a running quarterback . . . Quick enough to get out of trouble; not quick enough to be a big play threat in the running game . . . Trusts his athleticism too much, which could make for a rough early transition to big-time college football

Projection: Jones is a BCS-level quarterback who needs a few years to develop. He could become a solid starter late in his career.

Reminds me of: a weaker armed, high school-age Jamarcus Russell

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2011 Offer Board update

Linebacker recruit A.J. Johnson

The 2011 Offer Board has been updated:

Added AJ Johnson (ILB) and Jermaine McKinney (ILB).

Added Errin Joe (OG).

Added Deon Lee (Quick end).

Added Jeremy Reynolds (SR).

Added Lamar Dawson (ILB).

Added Darius Patton (WR).

Christian LeMay (QB) committed to Georgia.

Jalen Grimble (DE) committed to USC.

Nathan Hughes (DE) committed to Texas.

Matt Hegarty (OT) committed to Notre Dame.

Added Johnathan Aiken (SS).

Added James Adeyanju (DE).

Added Mickey Johnson (NT).

Added Sean Duggan (ILB).

Added Branden Jackson (ILB).

Added Delvon Simmons (DT).

Added Taques Franklin (TE).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scouting Report: Johnathan Aiken, DB - Hollywood, FL

Chaminade-Madonna defensive back Johnathan Aiken

Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185 lbs.
Class: 2011
Position: Safety/cornerback
School: Chaminade-Madonna High School in Hollywood, FL
40 Yard Dash: 4.49 (reported)
Vertical: 34"

Notes: Holds offers from Florida International, Marshall, Michigan, and South Florida . . . Brother, Kamar Aiken, plays wide receiver for Central Florida [Edit: Kamar is no relation to Johnathan]. . . Plays running back on offense . . . Wears jersey #21

Strengths: Great acceleration . . . Good mirroring instincts . . . High energy player . . . Seems to be one of team's emotional leaders . . . Solid tackler despite small stature . . . Squares up and wraps up ballcarrier . . . Great special teams player . . . Fearless in kick coverage . . . Has knack for blocking kicks and punts . . . Good running skills once ball is in his hands . . . Ability to change directions quickly . . . Excellent blitzer off the edge

Weaknesses: Does not run legs on contact . . . Leaves feet too often when making contact . . . Can be too aggressive at times without breaking down to tackle, leaving him open to missing tackles . . . Lacks ideal height . . . Good but not great speed, despite superb acceleration . . . Average ball skills when ball is in the air

Projection: Aiken has starter-level potential as a strong safety for a BCS contender

Reminds me of: current Michigan safety Michael Williams

Monday, May 3, 2010

Self-Indulgent Post of the Week: Baby Wolverine

Baby watches replay of Denard vs. Western Michigan

A college friend of mine forwarded this contest to me and asked me to pass it along to any friends who might want to vote. I thought, "What Michigan fan could resist voting for a future Michigan cheerleader in a cutest baby contest?"

So here's the link.

Go blue!