Thursday, February 28, 2013

CBS Sports: Why the sites get the rankings right

Matt Hinton discusses why the recruiting rankings accurately indicate future success.

Video: Denard Robinson on the Dan Patrick Show

Scouting Report: Kyle Berger

Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius linebacker Kyle Berger
Name: Kyle Berger
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 210 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius
Position: Linebacker
Class: 2014

Notes: Holds offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, and West Virginia . . . As a junior in 2012, had 44 tackles for loss and 10 sacks . . . Rivals 4-star OLB, #204 overall . . . 247 Sports 4-star OLB, 90 grade, #22 OLB . . . Attends alma mater of Michigan linebacker Jake Ryan and former Michigan players Pat and Mike Massey, among others

Strengths: Good speed for a kid his size . . . Quickness is impressive, but straight line speed is even more so . . . Has good length . . . Plenty of room to fill out to 240 lbs. or so . . . Uses hands well to shed blockers . . . Very disciplined player . . . Stays home and doesn't overpursue . . . Stays very balanced in pass rush and pursuit

Weaknesses: Has a tendency to false step . . . Needs to play more on balls of feet . . . Could work on hand placement and getting hands on inside of blocker's frame rather than outside . . . Would ideally need a year or two to fill out physically . . . Can get outmuscled in the run game

Projection: Outside linebacker.  Berger is too long and lean to play inside, but he looks like an ideal fit at outside linebacker in a 4-3 Under defense.  He has good pass rushing skills and would be a disciplined run stopper.  He's not the most explosive athlete, but he has good speed and plays with tenacity.  I like his demeanor on the field.  If he gets too big or is needed at weakside end, he could eventually play there, too.  He looks like a high level BCS player.

Reminds me of: Jake Ryan. I know it's kind of an obvious pick, but the frame and playing style are very similar.

Here are Berger's highlights on Hudl.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Derrick Green interview

Tom VanHaaren interviews incoming running back Derrick Green.

B-Ball Highlights: Michigan 71, Illinois 58

Nike Coach of the Year Clinic: Day 1

USC head coach Lane Kiffin
On Friday several of the other coaches and I left work early for the Nike Coach of the Year clinic in Pittsburgh, PA.  Due to some travel issues, we missed the first presenter (Pitt offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph).  That made me sad, because we were stuck with assistants . . .

Pitt QB coach Brooks Bollinger and WR coach Bobby Engram
In case you don't remember, Bollinger played quarterback at Wisconsin and Engram was a wideout for Penn State.  Both are pretty young coaches, so they probably deserve a little bit of slack.  However, neither one seemed particularly focused, so they ended up bouncing from topic to topic without saying much of substance.  Therefore, I didn't jot down any notes about what they presented.

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops
I got a lot from Stoops, who was Florida State's defensive coordinator for the past couple seasons, prior to being hired at Kentucky this offseason.  I expected him to be a little funnier and more fiery, but he was a pretty straitlaced speaker.  However, I got a lot from him.  He talked about essentially running a 4-1-6 defense against the spread, leaving just one linebacker in the middle.  If the defensive linemen read pass, they take one game and try to get to the quarterback, while the middle linebacker looks for screens and draws.  If the defensive linemen read run, they try to two-gap their man and get to the football.  Obviously, with only five guys covering six gaps, the defensive linemen need to help out the middle linebacker.  By putting just five guys in the box, FSU could cover the four (or five) wideouts adequately.

Connecticut head coach Paul Pasqualoni
Pasqualoni was the first coach to really show some fire, but he was a very serious guy.  He used to be the head coach at Syracuse and has since worked for the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys.  I have some philosophical differences with Pasqualoni, who prefers a 3-4 defense that eschews penetration from the defensive linemen in favor of creating an "umbrella" at the line of scrimmage and making it "muddy" for running backs.  He likes his defensive linemen to have a balanced stance (feet nearly even), take short steps, and get their hands on the opposing linemen's shoulder pads.  I don't know that I've sat through a clinic presentation by a defensive line coach who's more 3-4 (I'm more familiar with even fronts), so it was interesting.  It's all on the way to learning more and getting better as a coach, though, so maybe I'll be able to use his tips sometime down the road.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin
Kiffin walked in wearing a white T-shirt and jogging pants.  For whatever reason, I expected him to be shorter and a little pudgy, but he's actually a tall, very fit guy.  He was supposed to be talking about his version of the West Coast offense, but he ended up talking more about his coaching philosophy than anything else.  It was sort of an odd choice of topics, because he constantly talked about getting kids to believe in their coach, not BSing players, and telling them what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear.  That message doesn't really jive with his public persona, so I'm wondering if it was meant as a little bit of a public relations message.  Perhaps he's trying to rehab his image.  Regardless, he was a pretty funny guy and made several self-deprecating jokes like "Do you guys have any questions, maybe about how to take a preseason #1 team and run it into the ground?"  He also put together a list of questions he likes to ask about an opponent's defense each week.  Here's the list he shared:

  • Who's their best pass rusher?
  • What do the defensive ends do on nakeds?
  • Do they stem their defensive line?
  • Who is the best blitzing linebacker? What's his technique?
  • Do their linebackers Green Dog with man coverage?
  • Do they have defensive back pressures?
  • Do they use zone pressure, man pressure, or a combination?
  • What are blitz tendencies by down and distance?
  • What are blitz tendencies by personnel groupings?
  • What are tendencies by field position?
Overall, it was an interesting and informative day with Stoops and Kiffin the highlights.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Scott Sypniewski interview

Nikola Weiterova
Chantel Jennings interviews incoming long snapper Scott Sypniewski.

Initial TTB Ratings for 2014

For the last few years, I've been putting together ratings for Michigan's commitments.  When coming up with a rating, I generally try to picture how the player will fit into Michigan's scheme and depth chart.  Certain wide receivers might be all-conference at one school but second-stringers at another.  Here's a link to the explanation of the ratings.  I reserve the right to change these ratings throughout the recruiting cycle, but here's where Michigan's current four commits will start:

OG Mason Cole: 87 (commitment post)

LB Michael Ferns III: 83 (commitment post)

DT Bryan Mone: 79 (commitment post)

QB Wilton Speight: 77 (commitment post)

A Patriot for Life

Via the Washington Post
Tom Brady has reportedly signed a three-year contract extension with the New England Patriots worth an estimated $27 million.  Already signed through 2014, the deal makes Brady a Patriot through 2017 and the age of 40 -- almost certainly ensuring that he finishes his career with the same team that drafted him out of Michigan with the 199th overall pick.

Although $27 million dollars sounds like--and indeed is--a ludicrous sum of money, Brady is actually signing for much less than his true market value.  In turn, the Patriots immediately free up $15 million in cap space and retain more capital to build a better team.  For the sake of comparison, most expect Baltimore quarterback Joe Flaco to make around $20 million per year when he finally inks his new deal.

SI notes that this is not the first time that Brady has put his team first during contract negotiations.  His last contract, worth $60 million over six years, paid him about $5 million less per year than Peyton Manning at the time.  Although Brady's sacrifice is clearly a noble act that reflects his team-first mentality, there may be a secondary gain in order.  If the extra cap room results in an improved Patriot team and an additional Super Bowl win or two, Brady could stand to make substantially more money in sponsorship and advertising.  

Mason Cole, Wolverine

Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake offensive guard Mason Cole
Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake offensive guard Mason Cole committed to Michigan on Monday.  He picked the Wolverines over offers from Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC, among others.  He visited Ann Arbor over this past weekend.

I wrote a scouting report on Cole a few weeks ago, so there's no reason to re-invent the wheel.  Since then he has been ranked the #107 overall recruit by Rivals.

Since you can see my thoughts on Cole in the link above, there's not much more to say.  I really like Cole and think he should be a quality starter down the road.  He may have to wait a few years because of the talent ahead of him, though.  In addition to the value of his commitment, he also attends school with 2014 wide receiver offeree Artavis Scott and 2015 wide receiver offeree George Campbell.  Cole and Scott have talked about being a "package deal," so this would seem to help Michigan with wide receiver recruiting.

Cole represents the first time Brady Hoke has dipped into Florida for a commitment, and he's the first Floridian to choose Michigan since Tony Posada (who committed to Rich Rodriguez in the class of 2011 but quit football almost immediately).  Cole is the fourth member of the 2014 class.

TTB Rating: To be determined

Here's a link to his Hudl highlights.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Reon Dawson interview

Kelly Karloff
Chantel Jennings interviews incoming cornerback Reon Dawson.

Jerry Montgomery, ex-Wolverine

Jerry Montgomery (image via Detroit News)
"Defensive line" coach Jerry Montgomery left Michigan for the Oklahoma Sooners over the weekend.  Montgomery was hired by Brady Hoke when the latter came from San Diego State.  Immediately preceding his Michigan employment, Montgomery had been at Wyoming.  He had also previously coached at Northern Iowa and been a student assistant at Iowa after his playing days were over.  Montgomery was a four-year starter at Iowa.

Michigan's defensive linemen combined for 205 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks in 2012.  Those aren't great numbers, but consider that Michigan was dealing with some position changers and mediocre talent left over from the Rich Rodriguez era.  The defensive line showed a great deal of improvement from the years of Bruce Tall to the years of Montgomery, although some of that credit goes to Brady Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, too.

Montgomery also has value as a recruiter.  He's young (33) and the lead recruiter for all three of Michigan's current 2014 commits, as well as 2014 targets Da'Shawn Hand, Malik McDowell, Nyles Morgan, and Artavis Scott, among others.  He pulled in some excellent players in the class of 2013 with Jake Butt, Taco Charlton, Jaron Dukes, Derrick Green, Mike McCray II, and Henry Poggi.

At Oklahoma he will reportedly become the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.  In case you're wondering, Oklahoma is pursuing a number of players that Michigan has offered, including WR Mark Andrews, TE Tyler Luatua, OT Cameron Robinson, OT Andy Bauer, OT Damian Prince, OT Braden Smith, DE Myles Garrett, DE Da'Shawn Hand, DE Solomon Thomas, DT Khairi Clark, LB Dwight Williams, CB Jalen Tabor, CB Nick Watkins, S Jamal Adams, and S Brandon Simmons, among others.  So Michigan coaches will probably cross paths with Montgomery on the recruiting trail.

There are a few obvious choices to take Montgomery's spot on the staff.  It has been reported that Michigan won't necessarily hire a defensive line coach, but instead might hire someone to coach the outside linebackers.  One seemingly obvious choice would be former Michigan linebacker Roy Manning, who spent some time as a graduate assistant at Michigan, but Manning was just hired in January as the running backs coach at Northern Illinois.  He has also coached at Cincinnati.  Another option might be Steve Morrison, a former Michigan linebacker who has coached at Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, and Syracuse.  Other names thrown out there have been former Michigan player/coach Erik Campbell and former Michigan running back Mike Hart, but neither one has experience playing or coaching defensive line or linebackers.

Denard Robinson at the NFL Combine

Most people aren't too interested in watching combine drills, but Denard Robinson is probably an exception for most Michigan fans.  This was Robinson's first and best attempt.  His unofficial time of 4.34 was later changed to an official time of 4.43.


Height:  5'10''
Arm length:  32 5/8''
Weight:  199 pounds
Hands:  9''
40-yard dash:  4.43
Vertical jump:  36.5
Broad jump:  123.0
Three cone drill:  7.09
Twenty yard shuttle:  4.22

Recruiting Update: February 25, 2013

Naples (FL) Barron Collier defensive tackle Brady Pallante (right, making the tackle)
Paramus (NJ) Catholic offensive tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty was offered by Michigan.  He's a 6'6", 310 lb. prospect with offers from Florida, Florida State, and West Virginia, among others.  He's the #25 offensive tackle to 247 Sports.  His teammate is big-time cornerback prospect Jabrill Peppers, who also holds a Michigan offer.

River Ridge (LA) John Curtis wide receiver Malachi Dupre was offered by Michigan.  Dupre is a 6'2", 190 lb. wideout with offers from Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and UCLA, among others.  He claims a 4.55 forty and is the #59 overall player to 247 Sports.  As a junior in 2012, he had 36 catches for 816 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Greensboro (NC) Page defensive end Lorenzo Featherston was offered by Michigan.  Featherston is a 6'7", 220 lb. prospect with offers from Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Tennessee, among others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 58 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.  He's the #21 overall player to 247 Sports and #108 to Rivals.

Naples (FL) Barron Collier defensive tackle Brady Pallante was offered a grayshirt scholarship by Michigan.  Pallante is a 6'1", 275 lb. prospect with no other offers at this time.  A grayshirt is a scholarship in which the player pays his own way through school for a semester before getting a scholarship once some current players graduate.  For example, as a part of the 2014 class, Pallante would pay his own way through school and not join the football team until January 2015, at which time he would join Michigan's football team for spring practices and be on scholarship (potentially) from the 2015-2019 seasons.  Despite the lack of a great recruiting profile, Pallante is a solid nose tackle prospect.  What he lacks in size and athleticism, he makes up for in strength and technique.

New Orleans (LA) St. Augustine cornerback Jermaine Roberts was offered by Michigan.  He's a 5'11", 175 lb. prospect with offers from Florida State, LSU, Texas, Texas A&M, and UCLA, among others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 47 tackles, 9 interceptions, 13 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery touchdown, and 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns.  Roberts has good speed and change of direction, and he also shows an ability to play physically.  His teammate is fellow Michigan offeree Leonard Fournette, one of the top running backs in the country for 2014.

Westlake (LA) Westlake tight end Jacory Washington was offered by Michigan.  Washington is a 6'5", 210 lb. prospect who is committed to LSU, and he also has offers from Auburn, Alabama, Texas A&M, and UCLA, among others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 35 catches for 476 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Washington is keeping an open mind despite being committed to the Tigers.

Bethlehem (PA) Liberty wide receiver K.J. Williams was offered by Michigan.  Williams is a 6'2", 190 lb. wideout with offers from UConn, Pitt, Rutgers, and South Carolina, among others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 59 receptions for 986 yards and 11 touchdowns.  He's a big, physical kid with good speed who could also play safety at the next level.

River Ridge (LA) John Curtis linebacker Kenny Young was offered by Michigan.  Young is a 6'2", 215 lb. prospect with offers from Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, and numerous others.  He's a 4-star prospect to both Rivals and 247 Sports.  John Curtis is the alma mater of former USC star Joe McKnight and former Michigan target Robby Green (Alabama).

Manlius (NY) Fayetteville-Manlius tight end Tyrone Wheatley, Jr. was offered by Michigan.  Wheatley is a 6'6", 235 lb. rising junior who is the son of former Michigan (and New York Giants and Oakland Raiders) running back Tyrone Wheatley.  This is the younger Wheatley's first offer.  His father is the running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills.

Here's a list of Michigan's weekend visitors.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

CBS Sports: Denard Robinson explosive, versatile, worth risk

Kate Upton
Mike Freeman from CBS Sports writes about why an NFL team should take a bit of a gamble and draft Denard Robinson.

Former Michigan Athletes: 2013 Free Agents

Jake Long, first overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft
 2013 NFL free agency is scheduled to begin March 12, and several former Michigan athletes are up for grabs.  Here's the list:

Jake Long, OT
Steve Breaston, WR
Alan Branch, DT
Larry Foote, LB
Stevie Brown, S
Ryan Mundy, S
Charles Woodson, S

Kenny Demens, #25

Kenny Demens
Demens was a part of Michigan's class of 2008, committing in September 2007 before Lloyd Carr retired.  He picked Michigan over offers from Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, among others.  He attended Detroit (MI) Country Day with backfield mate Jonas Gray, who ended up at Notre Dame; Demens doubled as a fullback and linebacker for Country Day, and I had the experience of watching both of them play. Not knowing who they were, I said, "Wow, these guys are going to be playing Division I ball next year."  They turned out to be sophomores at the time.  Demens closed the 2008 recruiting cycle as a Rivals 4-star, the #23 outside linebacker, and the #8 player in the state.  Scout pegged him as a 4-star and the #23 weakside linebacker.

Demens redshirted as a freshman in 2008.  As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he played sparingly and notched just 7 tackles.  He was a backup middle linebacker in 2010 until Rich Rodriguez got fed up with the lack of development from starter Obi Ezeh, and Demens was forcefully inserted into the lineup, earning his first start against Iowa.  As a backup prior to that and a starter for the rest of the year, Demens outplayed Ezeh to tally 82 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup in just seven starts.  With the arrival of new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison in 2011, Demens started every game and led the team with 94 tackles, adding 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups.  He once again started all thirteen games in 2012, but he lost some playing time to freshman Joe Bolden due to early-season underperformance; Demens still finished with 82 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, and 1 interception.

266 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble

All-Big Ten Honorable Mention, Zatkoff Award winner (team's best linebacker) in 2011

I initially thought Demens was not a Michigan-caliber starter at middle linebacker.  I thought he was too slow and not instinctive enough.  But he was clearly a step up from Obi Ezeh.  He had a solid redshirt junior season in 2011, and I thought maybe, just maybe, he had met up with the right coaching staff to maximize his talents.  And maybe he did maximize those talents, but his senior season was just so-so.  While you can't expect a college linebacker to play every single meaningful down, he lost some playing time in key moments to freshman Joe Bolden, particularly against Air Force early in 2012.  Demens seemed to be on the rise, but instead he plateaued or even took a step backward.  He occasionally made a big hit and he was decent in pass coverage, but people probably won't be longing for the days of Kenny Demens in 10 or 15 years.  I applaud the work he put in for Michigan, though.  He was a steady force in the middle of a defense that improved significantly throughout his career.

. . . not being Obi Ezeh.  I can't think of a signature play for Demens.

I think Demens will sign somewhere as an undrafted free agent, but I don't think he has much of a future in the NFL.  While he is very thick and strong, he's not particularly fast, instinctive, or athletic, which limits his value even as a special teams player.  Since he lacks the speed to be a true 4-3 middle linebacker, I think the best situation for him might be if he gets signed by a 3-4 team as an inside 'backer.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Jaron Dukes interview

Lisa Ramos
Tom VanHaaren talks to incoming wide receiver Jaron Dukes.

Video: Denard Robinson senior highlights

Mailbag: Is Michigan's roster finally balanced?

Last year I wrote and asked you what you thought of Michigan's recruiting in terms of needs and balance at each position group against what a prototypical team should expect without regard to the quality of the recruits. So after another year, my question is the same; how is Michigan doing in terms of bolstering and balancing the team with numbers of players in each position group against a team model with the most desired number of players at each position? Are we getting there? Has Michigan restored the imbalance that existed in some areas (offensive line for example)? 
 Thanks, Mike.
For the first time in several years, Michigan should be at or near the 85-scholarship limit going into the 2013 season.  There will probably be a departure or two between now and then, but this will probably be as close to the number 85 you can get without going over it and joining the ranks of the SEC.  Here's a look at how the roster compares to an ideal one:

Quarterbacks: 4-5 desired, 3 currently (Devin Gardner, Russell Bellomy, Shane Morris)

Running backs: 6-7 desired, 8 currently (Fitzgerald Toussaint, Thomas Rawls, Justice Hayes, Dennis Norfleet, Drake Johnson, Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith, Wyatt Shallman)

Fullbacks: 1-2 desired, 1 currently (Sione Houma)

Wide receivers: 7-8 desired, 8 currently (Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, Jeremy Jackson, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York)

Tight ends: 5-6 desired, 5 currently (Jordan Paskorz, Devin Funchess, A.J. Williams, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill)

Offensive linemen: 14-16 desired, 14 currently (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield, Chris Bryant, Jack Miller, Blake Bars, Ben Braden, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Patrick Kugler, Dan Samuelson, Logan Tuley-Tillman)

Defensive ends: 7-8 desired, 8 currently (Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark, Keith Heitzman, Mario Ojemudia, Matt Godin, Tom Strobel, Chris Wormley, Taco Charlton)

Defensive tackles: 7-8 desired, 8 currently (Quinton Washington, Jibreel Black, Richard Ash, Ken Wilkins, Ondre Pipkins, Willie Henry, Maurice Hurst Jr., Henry Poggi)

Linebackers: 10-11 desired, 10 currently (Cameron Gordon, Mike Jones, Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Joe Bolden, James Ross III, Kaleb Ringer, Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray II)

Cornerbacks: 8-9 desired, 10 currently (Courtney Avery, Delonte Hollowell, Raymon Taylor, Blake Countess, Terry Richardson, Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, Delano Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Channing Stribling)

Safeties: 6-7 desired, 7 currently (Thomas Gordon, Marvin Robinson, Josh Furman, Jarrod Wilson, Jeremy Clark, Allen Gant, Dymonte Thomas)

Kickers/punters: 2 desired, 3 currently (Brendan Gibbons, Will Hagerup, Matt Wile)

Long snappers: 1 desired, 1-2 currently (Scott Sypniewski)

As you can see from the numbers above, Michigan is at or above the ideal numbers for most positions.  Quarterback, tight end, offensive line, defensive end, and linebacker are a little on the low side, but not dangerously so.  The Wolverines go more than three-deep at almost every position except quarterback, which makes me scratch my head, considering it's the most important position on the team.  But Coach Hoke said that he wants to take one quarterback per year, and he got his one in 2013 and 2014.  However, they're still dangerously thin after not taking one in 2012.

On the flip side, Michigan is a little on the high side for running back, cornerback, and kicker/punter.  Coach Hoke has expressed a desire to take numerous running backs in each class, because they can help at other positions (fullback, linebacker, cornerback, safety).  Cornerbacks can help out at wide receiver or slip over to safety.  Ideally, you want to err on the side of caution by having one or two more guys than can play, because then you have some guys playing on the practice squad, redshirting, and being groomed for the future.

Michigan is in pretty good shape going into the 2014 class.  Hoke has not suffered from the attrition and poor recruiting that plagued Rich Rodriguez, so the retention during the last couple seasons has allowed Michigan to get near the scholarship limit.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Grantland: In Defense of the College Football Recruiting "Hat Dance"

Gemma Lee Farrell
If you're a regular reader of this here website, you're likely familiar with the "hat dance" where players put a bunch of different schools' hats on a table and then try to trick all the viewers.

Visitors: February 22-24, 2013

Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake offensive guard Mason Cole
Kyle Berger - LB - Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius: Berger is a 6'3", 205 lb. outside linebacker with offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Tennessee, among others.  Most analysts seem to think that Berger's choice will come down to Michigan vs. Ohio State.  He attends the same high school - and is being recruited at the same position - as Michigan's current starter at SAM linebacker, Jake Ryan.

George Campbell - WR - Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake: Campbell, a 2015 prospect, is a 6'3", 180 lb. prospect with offers from Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, and several others.  As a sophomore in 2012, he had 30 catches for 766 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Brian Cole - WR - Saginaw (MI) Heritage: Cole, another 2015 prospect, is a 6'2", 180 lb. cornerback with offers from Michigan and Michigan State.

Mason Cole - OG - Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake: I did a scouting report on Cole a few weeks ago.  Michigan is one of his leaders (along with Notre Dame), if not the outright front-runner.

Shaun Crawford - CB - Lakewood (OH) St. Edward's: Crawford, a 2015 prospect, is a 5'9", 165 lb. corner with offers from Illinois and Tennessee.  As a sophomore in 2012, he had 66 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery.  He claims a 4.51 forty and a 10.8 time in the 100 meters.  Crawford attends the alma mater of Michigan offensive guard Kyle Kalis.

Michael Ferns III - LB - St. Clairsville (OH) St. Clairsville: Ferns committed to Michigan late in last year's regular season, becoming the first member of the 2014 class.  He put together some "Team 135" T-shirts that he plans to hand out/send to each of the other players who commits to Michigan, and he's combining with quarterback commit Wilton Speight to head up Michigan's recruiting efforts for the class.

Drake Harris - WR - Grand Rapids (MI) Christian: Harris is a 6'4", 180 lb. wideout with offers from Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Tennessee, among others.  He's currently "committed" to Michigan State because he originally intended to play both basketball and football, but he will likely end up elsewhere because he has recently realized that football holds a better career future.

Elijah Hood - RB - Charlotte (NC) Catholic: Hood is a 6'0", 205 lb. running back with offers from Clemson, Florida State, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC, and Virginia Tech, among others.  He will be visiting Michigan on Sunday right after a visit to Notre Dame, his current leader.  As a junior in 2012, he ran for 3,309 yards and 48 touchdowns on just 278 carries.  Hood is neck-and-neck with Joe Mixon for my most desired running back in the class of 2014.

Lawrence Marshall - DE - Southfield (MI) Southfield: Marshall is a 6'3", 225 lb. defensive end with offers from Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State, and he was committed to Ohio State for a few days recently.  However, he followed that up with visits to the former two schools and decommitted.  As a sophomore in 2011, he had 79 tackles, 15 sacks, and 4 interceptions.

Malik McDowell - DE - Detroit (MI) Loyola: McDowell is a 6'7", 290 lb. strongside defensive end with offers from Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, USC, and others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 63 tackles, 15 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  Michigan and Notre Dame appear to be the two front-runners.

Wilton Speight - QB - Richmond (VA) Collegiate: Speight committed to Michigan on National Signing Day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wolverine Nation: 2013 commitment survey

Katrina Bowden
Chantel Jennings and Tom VanHaaren sent out anonymous surveys to the Michigan commits about their recruitment, and this is what they had to say.

Site News: I'm Outta Here

Not for good, though.  Don't get your hopes up.

From Friday through Sunday, I'll be at a Nike Coach of the Year Clinic.  I have a couple posts set to go while I'm out of town, but if any news breaks over the weekend (like a commitment or a new Kate Upton GIF), I'll get to it as soon as I can.

If I learn anything worthwhile at the clinic, I'll pass it along when I return.

Steve Breaston Released by the Chiefs

Breaston looking bored
 As you may have heard, Steve Breaston was released by the Kansas City Chiefs.  Breaston played for Michigan from '03 through '06 and finished his college career with 156 receptions for 1,696 yards and ten touchdowns.  He also made a name for himself as an electric returner, racking up over 3,500 yards between punt and kickoff returns.

After college, Breaston was drafted in the fifth round by the Arizona Cardinals where he spent four years.  He appeared in almost every game, and averaged 60 catches per season in the years following his rookie debut.  In 2011, Breaston signed with the Kansas City Chiefs and continued his solid receiving production with 61 catches for 785 yards.  But for some reason, Breaston's numbers fell off a cliff in 2012, and he struggled to even get on the field, finishing with only seven catches.

It seems unlikely that at only 30 years old and after years of consistent production that Breaston has nothing else left to offer.  Here's to betting that the 2012 season was just an outlier and that he will find a home with another NFL team in the not too distant future.

Scouting Report: Andrew Brown

Chesapeake (VA) Oscar Smith defensive tackle Andrew Brown
(image via Recruit 757)
Name: Andrew Brown
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 292 lbs.
High school: Chesapeake (VA) Oscar Smith
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: 2014

Notes: Holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia,  Georgia Tech, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, South Florida, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and West Virginia . . . Rivals 5-star, #6 overall . . . Scout 4-star, #5 DE . . . 247 Sports 5-star, 99 grade, #1 DT, #4 overall

Strengths: Big body but not sloppy at all . . . Could carry another 30 lbs. comfortably . . . Quick first two steps . . . Shows effective pass rush moves (club, spin, etc.) . . . Speed and quickness to beat interior offensive linemen consistently . . . Violent tackler who could create turnovers in backfield . . . Shows speed to chase plays down from behind

Weaknesses: Does not use hands well to defeat blockers . . . Needs to improve inside hand placement . . . Has ability to stay low, but does not play low consistently . . . Does not move feet well when engaged with run blockers . . . If he does not beat you with his first two steps, he lacks proper technique and drive to fight through blockers

Projection: Defensive tackle.  He could play defensive end in a 3-4, but he looks more like a 3-tech defensive tackle to me.  Eventually, he should be playing at 310-320 lbs.  He will have to learn some technique, but the athleticism is there to be an elite college defensive tackle.  Wherever he ends up, he will likely play and make an impact early in his career.  I do have concerns about his maturity (he flexes and poses too much, and there have been incidents of his cockiness at camps, too), but that won't stop schools from recruiting him.

Reminds me of: Delvon Simmons (Texas Tech)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Exit Interview - Vincent Smith

M.C. Barao
Michael Rothstein interviews outgoing running back Vincent Smith.

There's a section that was removed (but posted on The Den) where Smith talks about how he thinks things would have been different if Rich Rodriguez had stayed.  Considering the trajectory of the defense, things probably would have been worse  for the program.  For Smith, who knows?  Personally, I think Al Borges used him about as well as possible in 2011, when he had a career high in receiving yards and yards per carry.  Smith wasn't a feature back, and it seems that he still doesn't realize that.  After the season Fitzgerald Toussaint put up one year later, you would think that Smith might say, "Well, we had another pretty good back on the roster."  I think Smith did some great things at Michigan, but he was an ideal bit player who got a starting role because of a weak roster and/or some poor coaching decisions on Rodriguez's part.  I hope Michigan is past the era of such a paucity of running back talent.

Roy Roundtree, #21

Roy Roundtree
Roundtree attended Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison and graduated high school with running back Michael Shaw and tight end Brandon Moore, both of whom would also select Michigan.  As a junior in high school, he had 48 catches for 851 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Roundtree was a 4-star to Rivals, the #44 wide receiver, and the #17 player in the state of Ohio.  To Scout he was a 3-star and the #89 wide receiver.  He had been committed to Purdue, but flipped to Michigan on National Signing Day of 2008, angering then Purdue coach Joe Tiller.

Roundtree redshirted as a freshman in 2008.  He played sparingly in the first eight games of 2009, but he exploded onto the scene during the final four games, each of which he started.  He finished the season with 32 receptions for 434 yards and 3 touchdowns, of which 30 catches, 390 yards, and all 3 touchdowns came  during those four starts.  His biggest catch of the year was the game-tying touchdown reception from Tate Forcier against Michigan State (a game Michigan would eventually lose).  He also had a 76-yard catch-and-run against Illinois on which he was tackled at the 1-yard line (and Michigan failed to score), so he received some flak for getting chased down from behind.  He was named All-Big Ten Second Team in 2010 when he caught 72 passes for 935 yards and 7 touchdowns, including a Michigan record 246 yards against Illinois on 9 catches with 2 touchdowns.  However, he was about to suffer a serious drop-off in production with the arrival of Brady Hoke, who moved Roundtree from slot to outside receiver, which limited him to 19 catches for 355 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2011.  The highlight of his redshirt junior season was the game-winning touchdown catch against Notre Dame.  As a fifth year senior in 2012, Roundtree snagged 31 passes for 580 yards and 3 touchdowns, earning All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.

154 receptions, 2,304 yards, 15 touchdowns; 1 kickoff return for 19 yards; 2 tackles

Prior to the 2011 season, I was in support of giving Roundtree the #1 jersey, not just for his performance in 2010 but because of his leadership, his blocking, and his knack for big plays.  Despite being scrawny at 6'0" and under 180 lbs. for most of his career, Roundtree was willing to battle in the air for jump balls and throw his body around to set up running backs and his fellow receivers.  Even when his production dropped from 72 receptions to 19, he said all the right things.  He came up in big moments, with big catches against MSU in 2009, Notre Dame in 2011, Northwestern in 2012, and numerous others.  And this is a guy who had five  70+ yard receptions.  To give some perspective, Braylon Edwards never even had one.  And nobody else in Michigan history has had more than one.  That's not to say that Roundtree was better than Edwards, David Terrell, Mario Manningham, etc., but this guy was a legitimate big play wide receiver.

It's going to be tough for Roundtree to make an impact at the next level.  He was not invited to the NFL Combine, likely due to a lack of great production over the past couple seasons.  He has a very slight build, he has had problems with drops in the past, and he's not an absolute blazer.  Although I do not expect him to get drafted in April, I would expect him to be signed as a free agent, and I could see him latching onto a team as a practice squad player.  I could see him being one of those types of players who pops up late in the NFL seasons after one guy gets suspended for drinking and driving and another guy tears an ACL.

Monday, February 18, 2013

ESPN: The ugly side of social media

Chantel Jennings writes a piece on the vile things that are said on social media about recruits.

Recruiting Update: February 18, 2013

Arlington (TX) Martin defensive end Myles Garrett
Ellenwood (GA) Cedar Grove linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams has been offered by Michigan.  Allen-Williams is a 6'2", 218 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, USC, and lots of others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 99 tackles, 22 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.

Arlington (TX) Martin defensive end Myles Garrett was offered by Michigan.  Garrett is a 6'4", 240 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, and Texas A&M, among others.  Early in the process, he's the #36 overall player to Rivals and #81 overall to 247 Sports.  Garrett attends the alma mater of Michigan quarterback Russell Bellomy, 2012 defensive end target Devonte Fields (TCU), and 2013 running back target Kyle Hicks (TCU).

Lithonia (GA) Martin Luther King cornerback Wesley Green was offered by Michigan.  Green is a 5'11", 168 lb. corner with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and USC, among others.  As a sophomore in 2011, he had 30 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 1 fumble recovery.

Southfield (MI) Southfield defensive end Lawrence Marshall decommitted from Ohio State.  He committed on Sunday, then visited Michigan State and Michigan, and was de-committed by Wednesday night.  The 6'4", 215 lb. defensive end has offers from all those schools and several others.  I reported just prior to his commitment that he was a Michigan lean, which I thought to be the case.  Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer supposedly told him that he may not have an offer from the Buckeyes if he left campus without committing, so it sounds like they really put on the full court press.

Here's a list of 2014 and 2015 prospects who visited Michigan this past weekend.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Michigan commits take quiz on school's football history

Nina Senicar
Tom VanHaaren asks a bunch of questions to the incoming freshmen.

Denard Robinson, #16

Denard Robinson's first snap - and first touchdown - of his career
2012 Season Countdown: #1 Denard Robinson

Robinson came from Deerfield Beach (FL) Deerfield Beach, which also produced Adrian Witty in that graduating class; Witty signed with Michigan but did not qualify academically.  Robinson, meanwhile, picked the Wolverines over offers from Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kansas State, Miami, Ohio State, and West Virginia; most schools wanted him as a cornerback except Florida, Kansas State, and Michigan.  He visited in early January and, despite the cold weather, committed to the Wolverines on National Signing Day.  Robinson was Rivals' #14 athlete and the #188 player in the country.

Robinson electrified Michigan Stadium on his first career snap, a play against Western Michigan in which he fumbled the shotgun snap, picked it up, sprinted around right end, split two defenders, and outraced everyone to the endzone for a 43-yard touchdown.  He finished the season 14/31 passing for 188 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions as fellow freshman Tate Forcier's backup.  He beat out Forcier by opening day 2010, earning the start against UConn and setting school records (soon to be shattered by himself) of 383 total yards and 197 rushing yards (most by a quarterback).  Including an exciting 87-yard touchdown, he rushed for 258 yards and passed for 244 yards in a win against Notre Dame, setting the school record of 502 total yards.  Robinson finished the season 182/291 passing for 2,570 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions; he also ran 256 times for 1,702 yards and 14 touchdowns.  As a junior in 2011 under new coach Brady Hoke, Robinson completed 142/258 passes for 2,170 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions; and he ran 221 times for 1,176 yards and 16 touchdowns.  His numbers declined once again as a senior, when Robinson completed just 89/167 of his passes for 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions; he ran 177 times for 1,266 yards and 7 touchdowns; and he caught 3 passes for 31 yards.  The decline as a senior was especially apparent during a 4-interception, 1-fumble performance in a 13-6 loss to Notre Dame.  An elbow injury knocked him out of the eighth game of the season (Nebraska), causing him to miss the next two games and preventing him from throwing the ball for the rest of the season, except for 1 weak incompletion against South Carolina in the bowl game.  As a result, he played some quarterback but also spent time at running back and wide receiver.

427/747 passing (57.2%) for 6,250 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions; 723 carries for 4,495 yards (6.2 yards/carry) and 42 touchdowns; 3 receptions for 31 yards (10.3 yards/catch)

All-American RB, Big Ten MVP, Bo Schembechler Team MVP, Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, All-Big Ten First Team in 2010; All-Big Ten Second Team, Bo Schembechler Team MVP in 2011; All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2012; first player to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a single season in 2010; set NCAA record for career rushing yards by a quarterback (4,495)

No player during the Rich Rodriguez era gave Michigan hope like Denard Robinson did.  The 2010 season was ridiculously exciting from an offensive point of view, because no one in football history had put up the numbers he did.  Fortunately for the program - and unfortunately for Robinson - Rodriguez was fired after that season, and Michigan hired Brady Hoke.  Robinson's numbers took a precipitous drop under Hoke, but the team went from 7-6 in Robinson's first year as a starter to 19-7 over his final two seasons.  I was never a fan of Robinson's quarterbacking skills, although it was impossible to dislike him as a runner.  He turned over the ball too much (5.2% of his passes ended up in the opponent's hands; fumbles were a problem) and, aside from a simplified passing attack in 2010, he completed too few of his passes (245/456 or 53.7%).  But the 43-yard run against Western Michigan, the two 80-plus yarders against Notre Dame in 2010, the 79-yarder against Air Force, the powerful 67-yard run against Ohio State in 2012 . . . all those and more were a joy to watch.  And he did it all with a smile on his face.  Despite being a flawed quarterback, he was perhaps the most exciting football player in Michigan history.

Robinson's chances of playing quarterback in the NFL are extremely slim, not just because of his flaws as a thrower, but because of his lack of size (he measured in at about 5'11" during Senior Bowl week).  He will have to play wide receiver or running back at the next level, and he has very little experience at either position.  As exciting as he was during his quarterback days at Michigan, his athleticism won't be quite as much of a mismatch at those positions.  Furthermore, his potential as a kickoff/punt returner might be limited by the fact that he has little experience there and could be a liability.  He will get drafted, but it would be a mistake to pick him higher than the third or fourth round, in my opinion.  If I were an NFL general manager, I would pick him as a running back, teach him how to pass block, and use him like the New Orleans Saints used Reggie Bush early in his career - as an outside runner and a receiver split out wide.  If he can add some bulk and become a reliable pass blocker, he might be able to develop into a full-time running back.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Jourdan Lewis interview

Chantel Jennings talks to incoming cornerback Jourdan Lewis.

Visitors: February 15-17, 2013

Detroit (MI) Cass Tech running back Mikey Weber
Joshua Alabi - DT - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Alabi, a 2015 prospect, is a 6'5", 245-pounder with offers from Michigan and Michigan State.  Cass Tech has also sent numerous players to Michigan in recent years, including 2013 prospects David Dawson, Delano Hill, and Jourdan Lewis. UPDATE: Alabi did not end up making the trip.

Jayru Campbell - QB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Campbell, a 2015 prospect, is a 6'3", 190 lb. quarterback with offers from Alabama, Michigan State, and Notre Dame.  As a sophomore in 2012, he had 2,000 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.  He led the Technicians to state championships in his freshman and sophomore seasons.

Daniel Helm - TE - Chatham (IL) Glenwood: Helm is a 6'5", 220 lb. tight end with offers from Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina State, Northwestern, and Tennessee.  Rivals recently ranked him the #201 player overall for the class of 2014.  As a junior in 2012, he had 44 receptions for 810 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Gary Hosey - RB/LB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Hosey is a 6'0", 225 lb. inside linebacker or fullback with offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, and Toledo.

Keith Jones - DE - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Jones is a 6'0", 240 lb. defensive end with no offers at this time.  He claims a 4.74 forty time and a 315 lb. bench press, both of which are impressive numbers for someone his age.  He's somewhat short for an FBS defensive end prospect, but he still has a couple years to grow.

Mikey Weber - RB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: Weber, a 2015 prospect, is a 5'10", 190 lb. back with offers from Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, and Syracuse.  As a sophomore in 2012, he had 1,700 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.

Parrker Westphal - CB - Bolingbrook (IL) Bolingbrook: Westphal is a 6'0", 186 lb. prospect with offers from Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, among others.  As a junior in 2012, he had 51 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery. He's a thick-bodied corner who is being recruited as a boundary corner and potentially a slot corner, but I think he also has the size to potentially play either safety position.  While he doesn't have great speed, he's fast enough to be a quality player at the next level.  Westphal has maintained throughout most of the recruiting process that Michigan is his leader, so it would not surprise me if he commits at any time.  His high school coach Todd Howard had 151 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 33 pass breakups as a cornerback for Michigan from 1998-2001.

Several class of 2013 signees are visiting campus, including Derrick Green.

Scouting Report: Da'Shawn Hand

Woodbridge (VA) Woodbridge defensive end Da'Shawn Hand
Name: Da'Shawn Hand
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 245 lbs.
Position: Defensive end
High school: Woodbridge (VA) Woodbridge
Class: 2014

Notes: Holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Boise State, Boston College, Clemson,  Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Illinois, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, and West Virginia . . . Claims a 4.6 forty . . . As a junior in 2012, had 78 tackles and 16 sacks . . . As a sophomore in 2011, had 84 tackles and 21 sacks . . . Ranked the #1 overall prospect by Rivals, Scout, and 247 Sports

Strengths: Plays with a low base . . . Shows ability to use hands well to shed blockers . . . Powerful defender capable of making plays while fending off blockers . . . Quick first step . . . Excellent speed for his size . . . Changes direction well . . . Delivers a blow when he reaches ball carrier . . . Hustles to make plays from the back side

Weaknesses: Anything I put here would be totally nit-picking

Projection: Strongside defensive end.  I haven't seen another prospect in the 2014 class who is better, so his #1 ranking seems to be deserved.  The guy has a good frame, moves well both forward and laterally, has good technique, and appears to be a high motor player.  It will be tough to run at him, and it will be tough for opposing tackles in the passing game.  Wherever he goes, he should be able to play early and turn into a dominant player at the college level.

Reminds me of: Da'Quan Bowers

Here are a few junior highlights posted on Rivals and some sophomore highlights from Hudl.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Maurice Hurst, Jr. interview

Chantel Jennings talks to incoming defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, Jr.

Final TTB Ratings for 2013

Maurice Hurst, Jr. made the biggest leap in
the final TTB Ratings
Here are the finalized TTB Ratings for the class of 2013.  Discuss!

Derrick Green - RB - Richmond (VA) Hermitage: 92 95
The more I think about the offensive line Michigan is building, the more I think Green is going to have a very good career in a winged helmet.  He could very well be the starter by his sophomore year, if not as a freshman.

Dymonte Thomas - S - Alliance (OH) Marlington: 92 89
I'm downgrading Thomas because I don't know that he's an All-American candidate, which is what a 90+ grade entails.  I think he will still be a very good player and turn into an all-conference player as a strong safety.

Kyle Bosch - OG - Wheaton (IL) St. Francis: 88
I'm going to leave Bosch right where he is.  He looks like an excellent guard prospect, and I like his nastiness.

Shane Morris - QB - Warren (MI) De La Salle: 89 87
Morris still has all the physical schools he has ever had - strong arm, decent athleticism - and has shown with his recruiting that he has some leadership skills.  It just seems like he has some limitations on seeing the whole field and making good decisions.

Patrick Kugler - C - Wexford (PA) North Allegheny: 83 86
With a couple years between Jack Miller and Kugler, the latter should have at least a couple seasons as a starter.  I liked what I saw of him at the Under Armour All-American Game.

Chris Fox - OT - Parker (CO) Ponderosa: 90 85
Fox's ACL tear concerns me some. He's still a big body who's pretty athletic, but I fear that this injury might put him behind some of the other linemen to begin..

Jourdan Lewis - CB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: 86 84
Lewis isn't the biggest, strongest, or fastest recruit out there, but he shows good change of direction and ball skills.  I like him as a college cornerback, but he might be limited beyond that.

Jake Butt - TE - Pickerington (OH) North: 82
I'm leaving Butt right where he is. He's not a "next generation" tight end who can run really fast and jump really high, but he's a very solid prospect.  He should have no problem turning into a good blocker at the very least.

Ben Gedeon - LB - Hudson (OH) Hudson: 82 81
I still like Gedeon, but I have slightly more confidence in Butt as a prospect.  I like turning running backs into linebackers, and he has experience at both positions.

Da'Mario Jones - WR - Westland (MI) John Glenn: 79 81
As Michigan's passing offense improves and they can find more ways to get the ball to receivers, I like Jones's skill set more.  He's not an absolute blazer, but he offers a dimension of speed that some other recent receiver recruits lack.

Henry Poggi - DT - Baltimore (MI) Gilman: 81 79
Watching Poggi in the Under Armour All-American Game, I still think Poggi looks like a good prospect for the college level - he played very well - but I'm not sure he'll have the size or explosion to be a serious NFL prospect down the road.

Maurice Hurst, Jr. - DT - Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers: 73 78
I always liked Hurst's athleticism, but I like his energy, too.  After seeing his senior highlights and his performance in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl, I think he has some potential to be a pretty good player down the road.

Csont'e York - WR - Harper Woods (MI) Chandler Park Academy: 79 77
York's rating doesn't change much, but I have less confidence in him than Poggi.  He still has considerable upside because he can go up and get the ball, but he's not a dynamic athlete.

Taco Charlton - DE - Pickerington (OH) Central: 75 76
Charlton has the speed to stick at weakside end, but he keeps growing and growing. I wonder if at some point he might be too heavy to play WDE and end up as a strongside end. Considering some lacking technique, that could be troublesome.

Logan Tuley-Tillman - OT - Peoria (IL) Manual: 79 75
I'm downgrading Tuley-Tillman a little bit because he's so raw.  He's helped by the fact that he's the only left tackle prospect in this class, but it's tough to get a feel for him.  Pass protection is still a huge issue for him as he learns.

Mike McCray II - LB - Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison: 74
This seems to be a pretty good spot for McCray. It's unclear whether he'll finally end up at SAM or MIKE. He's a good athlete, but I have questions about his ability to read plays quickly.  I might be in favor of putting him at SAM, where he would be in a position to attack more often than having to read and react.

Channing Stribling - CB - Matthews (NC) Butler: 73
I thought about bumping up Stribling, but I just don't think I can do it.  He showed his ability to make plays in high school, but I just don't think he has the speed to be a dynamic player in college.  Most of Michigan's good corners over the past 15 years or so have been fast or at least quick, but I don't see that in Stribling.

David Dawson - OG - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: 67 71
I'm bumping Dawson up a little bit, because I think he could be a starter later in his career.  Anyone who becomes a starter with the way Michigan is recruiting has to be pretty good player, but I don't see a particularly high ceiling for him.

Delano Hill - CB - Detroit (MI) Cass Tech: 71 69
Hill has lots of physical talent, but if he were a great playmaker, he would have been rated higher by the recruiting services.  He seems to be a guy who could be a very good special teamer and earn spot duty in college, but he's a man without a position - is he a corner or a safety? - and there's talent at those spots already.

Wyatt Shallman - RB - Novi (MI) Catholic Central: 65
I think this is a pretty good spot for Shallman.  I don't think he will ever be a starter at running back, although he could be a factor at fullback or U-back in the future.  He also has the ability to contribute on defense, but Shallman and the coaches have been insistent that he'll play offense.

Ross Douglas - CB - Avon (OH) Avon: 63
Douglas was recruited to play slot corner, and when you combine that with his lack of great size, I think he's somewhat limited when projecting him beyond college.  I think he could be a solid slot corner in the same vein as Brandon Harrison.

DeVeon Smith - RB - Warren (OH) Howland: 63
I thought about bumping Smith up because I truly believe that Michigan will be putting together some good rushing seasons in the coming years because of the offensive line, and not totally because of the talent of the running backs.  I do not believe Smith has the speed to be a dynamic running back himself, but he might put up good numbers as a backup and perhaps eventual successor to Green.

Reon Dawson - CB - Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison: 62
Dawson does have some potential to outperform this ranking, but he's behind some of the other guys in technical prowess.  The speed and size are there.  It just depends on how it all comes together.

Khalid Hill - TE - Detroit (MI) East English Village: 68 60
Hill can fill a role on this team, but he has talent ahead of him and his lack of speed or size sort of limits his upside.

Dan Samuelson - OG - Plymouth (IN) Plymouth: 65 59
I think Samuelson will be a quality backup down the road, who could make a spot start and be fine.  However, I think he's someone who might get lost in the shuffle with the rest of the linemen Michigan is getting.

Jaron Dukes - WR - Columbus (OH) Marion Franklin: 70 58
Dukes didn't have a great senior season, and I already had questions about him going into the 2012 season.  He doesn't have great speed, and he doesn't look like a lithe athlete who can make up for that speed deficiency with acrobatics.

Scott Sypniewski - LS - Ottawa (IL) : Incomplete
I don't know enough about long snappers around the country to offer an opinion here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Khalid Hill interview

Lucy Pinder
Chantel Jennings talks to incoming tight end Khalid Hill.

Bryan Mone, Wolverine

Salt Lake City (UT) Highland defensive tackle Bryan Mone
(image via Scout)
Salt Lake City (UT) Highland defensive tackle Bryan Mone committed to Michigan on Tuesday.  He chose the Wolverines over offers from BYU, Mississippi, UCLA, Utah, and Wisconsin, among others.

Mone is a 6'4", 315 lb. defensive tackle who had 70 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks as a junior in 2012.

Rivals: 4-star DT, #12 DT, #172 overall
Scout: 4-star DT, #7 DT, #111 overall
247 Sports: 4-star SDE, 93 grade, #8 SDE, #114 overall

Mone was Michigan's first offer for the class of 2014.  He maintained that Michigan was his leader almost all the way throughout the process, partly because rising sophomore fullback Sione Houma is an alumnus of Highland.  Mone took an unofficial visit to Michigan for the Northwestern game this past season.

Mone played a lot of strongside end for Highland last season, but his size and skill set suggest that he'll end up somewhere on the interior in college, either at nose tackle or 3-tech defensive tackle.  He has really grown in size from his sophomore season, when he was listed as a 255 lb. defensive end.  He's legitimately up around 315 now, and the weight doesn't look sloppy.  He shows good feet and an ability to stay low, which are both promising qualities for someone with his size.  Perhaps the most impressive thing about him is his hands; he shows an array of moves, and he understands hand placement to keep offensive linemen out of his body.  That's an important skill that kept someone like Quinton Washington off the field for his first few seasons at Michigan.

There aren't many weaknesses that show up on film.  Mone might not ever be one of the top two or three guys at his position in this class because he's not quite as explosive as some other defensive tackles that get ranked that high (Eddie Vanderdoes, Montravius Adams, Andrew Brown, etc.), but he does look like a player who could be one of the top five or seven defensive tackles.

When I watch Mone's film, I see Johnathan Hankins, the Ohio State Buckeye who is projected as a potential first round pick in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft.  Mone isn't extremely fast or quick, but he understands leverage and he carries his weight well.  There will be a step up in competition from the high schools of Utah to the Big Ten, and that may require an adjustment period.  But with his size, athletic ability, and the technique he has already shown, I think Mone could be an early contributor for the Wolverines.

TTB Rating: Pending until I finalize the 2013 TTB Ratings, which will be soon but I'm busy

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wolverine Nation: Channing Stribling interview

Tom VanHaaren talks to incoming cornerback Channing Stribling.

Rivals 250 for 2014 released

Gardena (CA) Junipero Serra linebacker Dwight Williams finished just outside the list of top 100 prospects
(image via ESPN)
Yesterday Rivals released its Rivals 100 for the class of 2014, which I broke down here.  Today Rivals released the entire Rivals 250.  Altogether, 72 of Michigan's 89 offerees are in the Rivals 250.  Neither committed quarterback Wilton Speight or former offensive tackle commit Denzel Ward appears on either list, a development that probably surprises very few of us.

101. Dwight Williams - LB - California
107. Mason Cole - OG - Florida
109. Saeed Blacknall - WR - New Jersey
111. John Smith - WR - California
117. Troy Vincent, Jr. - CB - Maryland
122. Sam Mustipher - OG - Maryland
132. Kevin Crosby - ATH - South Carolina
137. Dexter Wideman - DT - South Carolina
155. Devon Thomas - RB - Oklahoma (Oklahoma State)
157. Dravon Henry - S - Pennsylvania
158. Nick Watkins - CB - Texas
159. Shai McKenzie - RB - Pennsylvania
164. Jeb Blazevich - TE - North Carolina
167. Otaro Alaka - LB - Texas
172. Bryan Mone - DT - Utah
177. Garrett Dickerson - TE - New Jersey
179. T'Kevian Rockwell - LB - Texas
183. Roderick Johnson - OT - Missouri
189. Adarius Pickett - CB - California
195. Christian McCaffrey - RB - Colorado
200. Brandon Simmons - CB - Texas
201. Daniel Helm - TE - Illinois
204. Kyle Berger - LB - Ohio
213. Parrker Westphal - CB - Illinois
224. Corey Holmes - WR - Florida
228. Erick Smith - S - Ohio
236. D'Andre Payne - CB - Washington, D.C.
243. Melvin Keihn - LB - Maryland
245. Petera Wilson - LB - Georgia
248. Javon Harrison - S - Florida (Virginia Tech)
249. Jay Hayes - DT - New York (Notre Dame)

B-Ball Highlights: Wisconsin 65, Michigan 62

2013 Recruiting Awards

Derrick Green is dressed properly for the occasion
You can go ahead and glance back at my 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 recruiting award posts.

Best Overall Recruit: RB Derrick Green
Green is widely considered to be the top recruit in Michigan's class, and running backs are often fairly easy to scout.  Based on the way Michigan is recruiting the offensive line, I think there's a good chance that Green becomes an All-Big Ten player and perhaps an All-American.  That kind of performance at a place like Michigan would likely set him up for a high NFL Draft pick.

Best Offensive Recruit: RB Derrick Green
Considering the above paragraph, this is obvious.

Best Defensive Recruit: S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas is listed at 6'2", 192 lbs.  He has good speed and shows excellent hitting ability.  I was particularly impressed with him as a hitter/tackler during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  I think his long-term potential might be somewhat limited because he hasn't spent much time in coverage, and NFL teams love those ball hawks.  But as for playing strong safety in college, Thomas looks like an excellent prospect.  I'm excited about his future.

Recruit Most Likely to Make an Early Impact: RB Derrick Green
Until Green committed a couple weeks ago, I would have chosen tight end Jake Butt.  However, Green enters the program when Michigan is looking for a viable #2 tailback, if not a starter while Fitzgerald Toussaint recovers from his broken leg.  I don't think it's out of the question for Green to be the leading rusher in 2013.

Fastest Recruit: CB Delano Hill
Hill is a workout warrior who puts up good numbers, and while his speed doesn't always show up on the field, he did have a laser-timed 4.44 time in the forty.  There really aren't a whole lot of blazing-fast players in this class.  A couple of the cornerbacks - including Hill - might end up at safety, and a couple of the wide receivers are bigger, slower guys.  None of these guys has speed that jumps out at you, but there are a few guys who can scoot a little bit - Green, Hill, Thomas, Ross Douglas, Reon Dawson, and Da'Mario Jones.

Strongest Recruit: OG Kyle Bosch
Bosch is a big, thick kid who probably doesn't need to add much size before seeing the field.  He enrolled early at Michigan, and insiders are already saying that he might be in line for a little bit of playing time as a true freshman.  While I'm not sure that will be necessary (unless there are injuries), it's still a positive tidbit about his future.

Best Under-the-Radar Recruit: WR Da'Mario Jones
Jones is a 6'2", 185 lb. receiver with good speed.  He needs some polishing, but his speed should allow him to be a deep threat a little more than several other guys on the roster.  When he committed to Michigan, he was sitting on several MAC offers and one from New Mexico.

Most Overrated Recruit: CB Delano Hill
Hill is a 4-star to three of the major recruiting sites (ESPN ranks him as a 3-star), but I think he's closer to a 3-star prospect.  He is a very good athlete, but I'm not sure he has the football instincts and playmaking ability to justify those 4-star rankings.

Most Likely to Redshirt: OT Chris Fox
Fox, who tore his ACL toward the end of his senior season, will miss some developmental time while he recovers.  Additionally, Michigan returns both starting tackles (Taylor Lewan, Michael Schofield) and has a couple decent redshirt freshmen (Ben Braden, Erik Magnuson), so there's not much need for Fox to play this year.

Personal Favorite Recruit: S Dymonte Thomas
Thomas was a two-way star in high school who put up excellent numbers on both sides of the ball.  He also seems to be a heady kid who reportedly improved quickly during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, so I think he'll be fun to watch.  Jordan Kovacs was fun to watch over the past couple seasons, and Thomas should eventually take that strong safety position and play at an even higher level.