Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Touch the Banner is on the move!

The day that we all have been waiting for has arrived. That's right. After a couple years of contemplation and a couple months of consternation, the new site has been created and launched. That's in no small part to the numerous people who have donated toward the site redesign. So as of today, I am officially abandoning Blogger for the greener pastures of Wordpress. You can find the new site now and forevermore at:

Monday, August 10, 2015

MLive: Jim Harbaugh wants to beat Ohio State...and everyone

Jim Harbaugh is competitive (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few beautiful ladies.

Recruiting Update: August 10, 2015

Covington (GA) Newton running back Kurt Taylor (image via Scout)
ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2016
Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy defensive end/linebacker Rahshaun Smith decommitted from Clemson. Smith is a 6'3", 239 lb. prospect who is high on Auburn, LSU, Maryland, and Miami, among others. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #1 inside linebacker, and #55 overall. He transferred from the Baltimore area to IMG Academy after his junior season, and he expressed interest in Michigan when he was first offered. However, I do not think the Wolverines will factor back into his recruitment.

ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2017
Covington (GA) Newton running back Kurt Taylor was offered by Michigan. He's a 5'9", 200 lb. prospect with offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, Rutgers, and Vanderbilt, among others. He's a 247 Composite 3-star, the #34 running back, and #464 overall. He claims a 4.48 forty. Taylor is compact, strong, and built low to the ground. He can grind out tough yardage and bounce off some tackle attempts. He doesn't have great burst, but he's decisive and gets upfield quickly. He visited Michigan for the BBQ at the Big House and was offered after the trip. He plans to return for the Ohio State game in late November.

Hit the jump for a new 2018 offer, several players who committed elsewhere, and some random bits.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Detroit News: Tolbert returns to old haunt, whipping U-M players into shape

Angelique Chengelis has a piece on new strength and conditioning coordinator Kevin Tolbert (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies, including a gif of a woman coming down the stairs.

2015 Season Countdown: #21 De'Veon Smith

De'Veon Smith
Name: De'Veon Smith
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 228 lbs.
High school: Warren (OH) Howland
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #4
Last year: I ranked Smith #21 and said he would be the starting running back with 150 carries, 700 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He made two starts with 108 carries for 519 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Last season was another fairly disappointing year for Michigan's running game. Sprinkled throughout the year were some good games intermingled with some bad ones. Furthermore, no running back was consistently the best. If you ask three different people who the best running back was in 2014, you'll get three different answers. Smith earned his first career start against Michigan State after Derrick Green broke his collarbone and finished with 11 carries, 39 yards, and 1 touchdown. Statistically, his best two games were the opener against Appalachian State (8 carries, 115 yards, 2 touchdowns) and against Northwestern (18 carries, 121 yards, 1 touchdown). He also had some real stinkers, including six games in which he averaged 3.1 yards/carry or fewer. Toward the end of the year, Drake Johnson took over the starting gig and looked superior to Smith.

The battle rages on to be the starting running back at Michigan. Justice Hayes was a third down back, but he opted to spend his fifth year at Southern Miss. Drake Johnson looked solid at the end of the year, but he tore his ACL in the season finale against Ohio State. Green was the leading rusher for most of last season, but he had that broken collarbone and isn't the most instinctive runner. Ty Isaac sat out last year after transferring from USC, and lineman Kyle Kalis recently said that the line couldn't wait to get Isaac on the field after watching him bruise people up in practices last year. Karan Higdon is an unknown quantity as an incoming freshman.

I'm on the record as saying Isaac is the most talented back on the roster, but I think Smith has the mentality that these coaches like the most. He's a tough runner who will break some tackles and drive his legs. He won't outrun anyone, and his vision isn't great, but he can set the tone for the team to be a smash-mouth unit. I don't think he will get a stranglehold on the position because there are other guys who are more versatile and better athletes, but I think Smith will get a long look to try to be The Man. Normally, I would expect to put a starting running back higher than #21 on this list, but nobody has emerged from the pack at any point during their college careers. In fact, I'll go ahead and replicate what I predicted for him last year:

Prediction: Starting running back to begin the year; 150 carries, 700 yards, 8 touchdowns

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Detroit News: Michigan's Peppers is quickly earning respect

Angelique Chengelis has an article on the extremely under-the-radar Jabrill Peppers (LINK).

Hit the jump for some beautiful ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #22 Blake O'Neill

Blake O'Neill
Name: Blake O'Neill
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 215 lbs.
High school/college: Melbourne (Australia) Peninsula, Weber State
Position: Punter
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #12
Last year: O'Neill played for Weber State. He punted 62 times for 2,737 yards (44.1 yards/punt).

The first of three graduate transfers to be ranked, O'Neill had the longest route to Michigan. Originally from Australia, he played Australian rules football and participated in the shot put to begin college in his home country. He ended up at Weber State in the 2014 season, where he averaged 44.1 yards/punt and was sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision. He also had a 23-yard run (Australian rules football, yay!) and a 17-yard pass (umm...shot put, yay?) to convert first downs on fakes.

To put those punting numbers in perspective, that 44.1 yard average is behind only Zoltan Mesko in 2009 and Will Hagerup in 2012 over the past seven years. O'Neill has a big leg, but he also has a penchant for putting the ball inside the 20-yard line. Other than 2011, when Brady Hoke could do no wrong, Michigan has been very vanilla on special teams. O'Neill and new special teams coordinator John Baxter should usher in some fresh ideas and a more modern approach to the punting unit. The combination of the two should give Michigan one of the top two or three punting units in the Big Ten. O'Neill should be backed up by redshirt junior Kenny Allen, whom I ranked near the bottom of the countdown simply because punters don't often suffer injuries.

Prediction: Starting punter

Friday, August 7, 2015

Welcome to the Weekend!

It's Friday night, so enjoy some beautiful ladies to begin your weekend, including SI swimsuit model Hannah Davis celebrating 'Merica.

John U. Bacon: Big Ten Media Days - The Harbaugh Effect Raises All Boats

John U. Bacon posted a piece on Jim Harbaugh's effect in the Big Ten (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #23 Bryan Mone

Bryan Mone
Name: Bryan Mone
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 325 lbs.
High school: Salt Lake City (UT) Highland
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #90
Last year: I ranked Mone #52 and said he would be a backup nose tackle. He made one start and had 9 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 fumble recovery.

Mone played a fair amount last season as a backup. Michigan had depth on the interior defensive line, so he was not needed as much as some teams might have needed a huge, freshman, 4-star defensive tackle. His one start came mid-season against Penn State, and he came away with a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss in the Indiana game. He was not outstanding, but he was not a liability, either. Worse things can be said about true freshman defensive tackles.

One guy standing in his way last year was Ondre Pipkins, who has since transferred to Texas Tech. Mone will now be competing mostly with incumbent starter Ryan Glasgow for snaps at the nose, perhaps with a little Willie Henry or Maurice Hurst, Jr. tossed in there. Glasgow has shown to be a solid space eater, but has not done much in the way of penetration or big plays. Mone is the second-heaviest player on the roster behind Ben Braden (331 lbs.), and with some work in the weight room this off-season, he should be even more ready to go for the upcoming year. While Glasgow is more consistent, I like Mone's explosiveness and have him ranked ahead of the incumbent. There is frequent rotation on the defensive line, so both will get plenty of snaps, and I think Mone will make his presence felt this year.

Prediction: Backup nose tackle; 20 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chris Fox, Ex-Wolverine

Chris Fox (right) with Jourdan Lewis, Dymonte Thomas, Derrick Green, and Jake Butt
at the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Chris Fox has called it quits after dealing with injuries over the past few years. A product of the class of 2013, he tore his ACL near the end of his senior season and has not been the same since. Listed at 6'6" and 303 lbs., he could never get back into great playing shape. He played in just one game during his career, which was last year's season opening demolition of Appalachian State. He will remain with the program as a student assistant while finishing out his undergrad career.

After committing to Michigan in February of 2012 (LINK), Fox was on his way to playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl as a high school senior but could not participate. As we have also seen with Ondre Pipkins, ACL tears for big guys can be very damaging. Fox was a 247 Composite 4-star, the #9 offensive guard, and #110 overall in 2013. Believe it or not, he was just Michigan's seventh-highest ranked recruit behind Derrick Green, Patrick Kugler, Dymonte Thomas, Shane Morris, Kyle Bosch, and David Dawson.

Michigan took six linemen and 27 total players in the 2013 class. Two of the linemen (Fox and Kyle Bosch) have left the program, and three total players (toss in wide receiver Csont'e York) have departed for various reasons.

Fox's departure, which I had been expecting since the spring, is the second of the two medical hardships I had previously mentioned; the other was Pipkins, whose transfer to Texas Tech apparently goes against the grain of Michigan's medical staff, who thought he should probably hang up the cleats. There are still other players who will probably not be on the fall roster, although all but Dennis Norfleet have been listed on Michigan's summer camp roster. The loss of Fox is also a reason that Michigan is looking to take such a large offensive line class in 2016. With Ben Bredeson, Devery Hamilton, Michael Onwenu, and Erik Swenson already in the fold, the Wolverines could potentially still take two more linemen in this class.

Yahoo! Sports: College football's 25 most intriguing coaches

You'll never guess who is one of college football's most intriguing coaches (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #24 Kyle Seychel

Kyle Seychel in the 2015 spring game
Name: Kyle Seychel
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 171 lbs.
High school: Brighton (MI) Hartland
Position: Kicker
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #31
Last year: I did not rank Seychel. He did not play.

When it comes to kicking, punting, and long snapping, I am by no means an expert. I can coach them a little bit, but figuring out whether a player has potential or not is best left to others. This is an especially tricky ranking in a year when the specialists over the last four to five years both disappeared at once: Will Hagerup was the primary punter for four of the past five years, and Matt Wile was a kickoff specialist for his entire career, plus being the full-time placekicker last year and part-time before that. The only kicker or punter on the roster who has seen game action at all is redshirt junior Kenny Allen, who has worked as a holder and also punted one time in the 2013 season opener.

That's where Kyle Seychel steps in. I have heard that he had a good spring, and the coaching staff trusts him going into the 2015 regular season. They appear to think that he will be their starting kicker this year, and he was the guy they sent in to kick the extra point in the spring game. As a class of 2014 prospect, Kornblue Kicking liked him and said he has NFL potential (LINK). During his senior year at Hartland, he averaged 42.8 yards a punt and made 6/8 field goals, including a 49-yarder (LINK). Also, 10 of his 12 recorded kickoffs went for touchbacks.

Other options include Allen, freshman scholarship kicker Andrew David, and freshman walk-on Ryan Tice. Let the best man win.

Prediction: Starting kicker

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

MLive: Jake Rudock's track record of success put him on Jim Harbaugh's radar

Here's an article on how and why Jake Rudock ended up at Michigan (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few good looking women.

2015 Season Countdown: #25 Ryan Glasgow

Ryan Glasgow shows off a mildly impressive big-man vertical
Name: Ryan Glasgow
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 297 lbs.
High school: Aurora (IL) Marmion Academy
Position: Nose tackle
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #96
Last year: I ranked Glasgow #54 and said he would be a backup nose tackle. He started eleven games and made 22 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.

I underestimated Glasgow last year. He made just 2 tackles in extended time in 2013, and he basically just held his ground at the point of attack or got washed out. I didn't see a reason to place him higher than about midway through the countdown. Somewhere between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, he figured out how to play football in the Big Ten. He was not a superstar last year, but he was strong at the point of attack and got some penetration for a defense that was pretty good. The highlight for him came against Indiana when he poked the ball out and recovered the fumble. It was good to see him take a step in the right direction with two years left to play.

Now Glasgow is a veteran starter in the middle of a good defensive line. I have underestimated him before, but my guess is that he will continue to be solid against the run and not much of a pass rusher. He can hold up against double-teams in the middle, and he can beat one-on-one blocks with some regularity. While I expect him to start at least part-time, Michigan is so deep on the interior defensive line that I do not see Glasgow as being irreplaceable. The Wolverines have a few capable nose tackles in Glasgow, Bryan Mone, and Will Henry, not to mention someone like Maurice Hurst, Jr. who can play in passing situations.

Prediction: Starting nose tackle; 25 tackles

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

ESPN: Jabrill Peppers is #69 player in college football

ESPN is doing a ranking of the top 100 players in college football, and somehow Jabrill Peppers made the list at #69 (LINK).

Hit the jump for some very good looking ladies.

Semper Fidelis All American Bowl Participants: Michigan

Mario Ojemudia was the lone participant in the inaugural Semper Fi game.
The next Semper Fidelis All American Bowl will be in January 2016.  It will be just the fifth year of the game, but here's the very short list of Michigan commits who have participated in the game:

2016
Ron Johnson, Jr. - DE - Camden (NJ) Camden*
Brandon Peters - QB - Avon (IN) Avon*

2015
Grant Newsome - OT - Lawrenceville (NJ) School

2014
None

2013
Ross Douglas - CB - Avon (OH) Avon
Maurice Hurst, Jr. - DT - Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers

2012
Mario Ojemudia - DE - Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison

*Will participate in the upcoming contest

2015 Season Countdown: #26 Scott Sypniewski

Scott Sypniewski
Name: Scott Sypniewski
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 224 lbs.
High school: Ottawa (IL) Marquette
Position: Long snapper
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #43
Last year: I ranked Sypniewski #32 and said he would be the starting long snapper. He started all twelve games at long snapper.

I would be fibbing if I told you that long snapper scuttlebutt abounds. The average Michigan fan probably couldn't tell you the name of Michigan's long snapper last year, and that's probably a good thing. I vaguely remember a lone questionable snap on a field goal attempt last season, but it was just a little low and those types of things tend not to make the news. I can say from personal experience that having poor play from a long snapper is extremely damaging to a team and can change a lot of game strategy, so minimizing mistakes is a huge deal. With a new, dedicated special teams coach, I would expect Sypniewski to remain solid. The lone backup long snapper listed on the roster is Andrew Robinson, a redshirt freshman walk-on from Troy (MI) Athens, but tight ends and linebacker types have often dabbled in the long snapping arts.

Prediction: Starting long snapper

Monday, August 3, 2015

Draft Insider: Scouting the Big 10

DraftInsider.net scouts out the Big Ten (LINK). Michigan has nobody projected to go in the first couple rounds.

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #27 Delano Hill

Delano Hill
Name: Delano Hill
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 204 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Safety
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #44
Last year: I ranked Hill #31 and said he would be a backup safety. He made five starts with 20 tackles and 1 fumble recovery.

It's hard to believe that Hill is already a junior. Much like Ben Gedeon, he seemed like a guy who could use a redshirt year to acclimate to the college game and then make an impact down the road. But last year indeed, he was a true sophomore who played a good chunk of time in the revolving door at safety. Five players made starts at the two safety positions, and injuries were not a major problem except in the case of Jarrod Wilson. The coaching staff simply didn't see anyone separating himself. Hill had an okay year but never stood out as a player, and his biggest impact came when he recovered a fumble against Michigan State.

Jabrill Peppers has moved to safety, and people are pointing to him as the quarterback and potential star of the defense. Unfortunately for Hill, they play roughly the same position. With Wilson starting at one safety and Peppers at the other, Hill should be a sub in nickel packages when Peppers bumps down to slot corner. Michigan will probably spend more than a third of their defensive snaps in the nickel, so Hill should get another big chunk of playing time. The word on Hill is that he's a very good athlete, but I have never seen great instincts or playmaking ability on his part, even when he was in high school. He should have plenty of chances to change our minds this year.

Prediction: Nickel safety; 25 tackles

Recruiting Update: August 3, 2015

Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy tight end Isaac Nauta
COMMITMENT
Upper Marlboro (MD) Riverdale Baptist cornerback Sir Patrick Scott committed to Michigan (LINK).

ADDED TO THE BOARD (SORT OF): 2015
Dallas (TX) South Oak Cliff running back Jordan Stevenson was not admitted to Wisconsin, so he became a "free agent" over the last couple weeks. Wisconsin's stringent admissions standards were reportedly a big reason why head coach Gary Anderson left town for Oregon State in the off-season, and perhaps Stevenson was a casualty of that system. It's not clear whether Michigan offered him or not, although there was word the coaching staff would be in contact. Regardless, he went ahead and committed to Nebraska, so he will still be wearing red and white in the Big Ten.

ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2016
New Orleans (LA) Riverdale defensive tackle Tyrus Butler was offered by Michigan. He's a 6'2", 300 lb. prospect with offers from Mississippi State and Tulane, among others. He's a 247 Composite 3-star, the #114 defensive tackle, and #1893 overall. As a junior in 2014, he had 67 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks. New offers to defensive tackles may mean that the coaches don't want to put all their eggs in the Rashan Gary basket.

Amarillo (TX) Amarillo defensive tackle Ivory Jackson was offered by Michigan. He's a 6'3", 275 lb. prospect who committed to Texas Tech in early June; he also has offers from Kansas and Kansas State, among others. He's a 247 Composite 3-star, the #88 defensive tackle, and #1513 overall. As a junior in 2014, he made 74 tackles and 6 sacks.

Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy tight end Isaac Nauta decommitted from Florida State. Michigan has always been in his top group, and he has maintained that he will take an official visit to Ann Arbor, so this would seem like a good thing for the Wolverines. However, he is expected to commit to Georgia, which is where he played high school ball before transferring to IMG Academy in the off-season. And in even more damaging news, now the Seminoles are looking for a tight end, which might push them ahead of Michigan for Philadelphia (PA) Imhotep tight end Naseir Upshur, who had been thought of as a Michigan lean. Upshur has since postponed his announcement date of August 8th.

Hit the jump for a couple new 2018 offers, some guys who went off the board, and some random bits.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sir Patrick Scott, Wolverine

Upper Marlboro (MD) Riverdale Baptist cornerback Sir Patrick Scott
Upper Marlboro (MD) Riverdale Baptist cornerback Sir Patrick Scott committed to Michigan on Sunday at the BBQ at the Big House. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Arizona, Kentucky, Michigan State, Pitt, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin, among others.

Scott is a 6'1", 175 lb. prospect.

RATINGS
ESPN: 3-star, #57 CB
Rivals: 3-star CB
Scout: 3-star, 77 grade, #40 CB
247 Sports: 3-star, 87 grade, #64 CB, #653 overall

Scott came to Sound Mind Sound Body in Detroit, and he attended Michigan's summer camp. Shortly afterward, he was extended an offer by the staff. The Wolverines jumped to the top of his list, and overtook the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. He set a visit for the BBQ, but it had been unclear if he would have a chance to commit before some other players got to the spot first.

Scott is a physical corner. He has long arms, and he does a good job of jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. He also does a good job of flipping his hips, turning to run, and tracking the ball in the air. He is not a big hitter, but he tackles well and plays fundamentally by holding outside contain. He tackles low and wraps up nicely.

Scott's athleticism is somewhat lacking, however. He does not change direction well, he takes some time to get up to top speed, and he does not have great makeup speed. There are a lot of "almost" plays on his highlight reel, and in college, I'm afraid the plays he is "almost" good enough to make in high school will turn into big plays for Big Ten opponents.

I am not enamored with Scott, but that is partly because I want the Wolverines to pull in a dynamic playmaker at the cornerback position. Especially with Jabrill Peppers playing safety, there is basically no heir to Jourdan Lewis's throne as a true cover corner. I think the Wolverines are getting a lot of mid-level guys who are big and physical, but perhaps that's not the best way to go in college. I think boundary corners are pretty easy to find, whereas field corners are rare.

Michigan now has 22 commits in the 2016 class, including three corners: Scott, Floridian Antwaine Richardson, and Canadian Benjamin St-Juste (who could reclassify to 2017). All three seem to be boundary guys or perhaps safeties. They will probably continue to look for a true cover corner in the class, and I assume they're done with boundary types.

TTB Rating: 68 (ratings explanation)

MLive: Ty Isaac has to prove himself to Jim Harbaugh

Nick Baumgardner talks about Ty Isaac (LINK). It may be noteworthy to a certain reader that Harbaugh says he only practiced for "a day" in the spring due to injury.

Hit the jump for some good looking girls.

2015 BBQ at the Big House Visitors

Detroit (MI) King wide receiver Donnie Corley
Michigan's coaching staff will be holding the annual BBQ at the Big House on August 2, 2015. The tradition was started by Rich Rodriguez and has normally been held in July, so this is a later date than normal. It could get interesting seeing how many players can travel from a long distance, because high school football practices usually begin at the start of August. Regardless, there are several players scheduled to attend, including a posse from Maryland and the New Jersey area.

2016
Ben Bredeson - OT - Hartland (WI) Arrowhead: Bredeson committed to Michigan in June (LINK).

Donnie Corley - WR - Detroit (MI) King: Corley is a 6'2", 180 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and USC, among others. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #18 wide receiver, and #114 overall. Reports differ on how seriously he is considering Michigan, but Michigan State and Tennessee seem to be high on his list.

Terrance Davis - OG - Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha: Davis is a 6'4", 305 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, and Michigan, among others. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #2 offensive guard, and #76 overall. He has been rumored to be a silent commit to Michigan, but Maryland and others are in the mix. UPDATE: Davis did not make it to Ann Arbor.

Hit the jump for several more prospects, including kids all the way through the class of 2019.

2015 Season Countdown: #28 Ben Gedeon

Ben Gedeon
Name: Ben Gedeon
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 241 lbs.
High school: Hudson (OH) Hudson
Position: Linebacker
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #42
Last year: I ranked Gedeon #38 and said he would make 30 tackles and 1 sack as a backup linebacker. He made 17 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack; plus he returned a blocked punt for a 32-yard touchdown.

Gedeon is one of those players who is hitting his later years on campus with fans thinking, "Huh? How is this guy so old already?" Despite not being needed, he played immediately as a freshman in 2013, making 19 tackles and 1 sack. The same sort of role recurred in 2014 when he made 17 tackles and 1 sack. Michigan had several more proven, more experienced guys ahead of him, but he played in all but one game during his first two years. His most impressive play of last season came when fellow linebacker Mike McCray blocked a punt; Gedeon corralled it, showed off his high school running back skills, and found the goal line 32 yards later.

Gedeon's a junior now, and he is arguably the best athlete in the linebacker corps. He has been pretty good when he gets playing time, but the path to the field is blocked by seniors Desmond Morgan, Joe Bolden, and James Ross. Gedeon will probably be the first linebacker to sub in, and an injury would likely give him a starting job. He has good size, speed, and instincts. Additionally, despite never being a starter, Gedeon is quite possibly the spearhead of the 2016 linebacker group, if not the entire defense. He has been a role player the past two seasons, but he should get more of a chance to shine this year.

Prediction: Backup linebacker; 35 tackles, 2 sacks

Saturday, August 1, 2015

MLive: Special teams preview

Nick Baumgardner previews Michigan's special teams (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #29 Patrick Kugler

Patrick Kugler
Name: Patrick Kugler
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 297 lbs.
High school: Wexford (PA) North Allegheny
Position: Center
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #57
Last year: I ranked Kugler #75 and said he would be a backup center. He played in one game.

Kugler has not lived up to the expectations some people had for him coming out of high school. A highly ranked player, the son of an NFL offensive line coach (and now the head coach at UTEP), Kugler was expected to compete for playing time very early on an offensive line that was not very productive. Some thought he would play as a true freshman or beat out Jack Miller as a redshirt freshman. Instead, he has never been higher than the third-string guy, and the one game he played last season was when part-time center Graham Glasgow was suspended.

Whether we like it or not, Kugler is a key backup this season. The Wolverines have not done a great job of recruiting the center position in recent years. It's perhaps the most important position on the offensive line, so it's dangerous to ignore. The danger level rose a bit this offseason when Jack Miller, who would have been a fifth year senior in 2015, chose to leave the program. He had been the starter for all of 2014 and part of 2013, and he had been a solid contributor. In steps Glasgow, who played center quite a bit in 2013 but spent most of his time at left guard last year. Glasgow ran into some more legal trouble this offseason, and I don't know if he can be counted on to be available for an entire season. The coaching staff tried left tackle Mason Cole at center this spring, but his snaps were very inconsistent. Backup interior lineman Blake Bars has also snapped the ball a little bit, but he can get overpowered and does not maintain leverage well. If anything happens to Glasgow, the easiest thing will be to insert Kugler, but he has a lot to prove.

Prediction: Backup center

Welcome to the Weekend!

It's Saturday morning, so enjoy some pictures of beautiful women, including a gif of a weather girl.

MLive: Defensive backs preview

Nick Baumgardner previews the defensive backs (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies.

Friday, July 31, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #30 Shane Morris

Shane Morris
Thanks to Benjamin and Tyler for the donations a couple days ago! If you would like to help out with the site redesign, please use Paypal (on the left sidebar) or shop the day away at Amazon (LINK). Gracias!
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Name: Shane Morris
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 209 lbs.
High school: Warren (MI) De La Salle
Position: Quarterback
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #7
Last year: I ranked Morris #25 and said he would be the backup quarterback. He started one game and completed 14/40 passes (35%) for 128 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. He also ran 9 times for 28 yards (3.1 yards/carry).

Morris had a very controversial season in 2014 that had to have been difficult for reasons out of his control. He started off the year as Devin Gardner's backup. When Gardner and the team were underperforming halfway through the year, head coach Brady Hoke turned to Morris to start against Minnesota. A lot of people - including me - were opposed to the idea of benching Gardner, but it wasn't Morris's decision. He rolled his ankle, got concussed, and was left in the game despite stumbling around while trying to get back to the huddle. The handling of that issue would lead to tons of criticism of Brady Hoke, and eventually, the handling of the matter became the last straw for athletic director David Brandon's tenure.

Hit the jump for more on Morris and the quarterback situation.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

MLive: Linebacker position preview

Nick Baumgardner previews Michigan's linebacker situation (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few nice looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #31 Taco Charlton

Taco Charlton
Name: Taco Charlton
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 273 lbs.
High school: Pickerington (OH) Central
Position: Defensive end
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #33
Last year: I ranked Charlton #38 and said he would be a backup strongside end. He made 19 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and 3.5 sacks.

For a backup defensive end, it's hard to argue much with Charlton's production last season. He started one game against Rutgers, but he was mostly a backup to Brennen Beyer throughout the season. He got to the quarterback against Maryland, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Appalachian State, and he had three tackles against the Buckeyes. It was a decent year, but it was also somewhat forgettable. Charlton did not leap out as a player who was forcing his way into the starting discussion, and Beyer was not a standout whose play demanded a starting position, either. Charlton was largely inconsistent, making a good play here followed by getting out of position there.

This season Charlton might find himself playing a backup role again. Redshirt junior Chris Wormley had a good spring by all accounts, and Charlton missed a chunk of time to injury, including the spring game. Wormley has been mostly a defensive tackle during his career so far, but the coaching staff thinks his speed can hold up on the edge. If that's not the case, then Charlton is capable of stepping in to play the position. The worry with Charlton is his inconsistency. He's tall and has put on some good weight, but sometimes he stands up too high, sometimes he gets out of his gap, and sometimes he gets too deep. Those are the reasons that he was behind Beyer last season, and those might be what keep him behind Wormley this season. Michigan does not have many options beyond Charlton, which increases his value here. Henry Poggi made a move to offense in the spring, Tom Strobel has barely played during his career, and guys like Reuben Jones and Shelton Johnson are small and freshmen. Charlton will get plenty of playing time, but his consistency needs to improve if he wants to force his way into the starting lineup.

Prediction: Backup strongside end

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MLive: Defensive line position preview

Nick Baumgardner previews the defensive line (LINK).

Hit the jump for some pictures of model Anna Faith Carlson.

247 Sports Top 100 for 2018 released

Oak Park (MI) Oak Park OG Marquan McCall is the top player in Michigan for 2018
(image via 247Sports.com)
247 Sports released their top 100 prospects for the 2018 class (LINK). This is very early, since these kids are about to start their sophomore season in high school. Michigan has offered a few 2018 kids, but I'll also list some other noteworthy players, including players from the Big Ten imprint:

5-stars:
1. Trevor Lawrence - QB - GA
3. Micah Parsons - DE - PA

4-stars:
6. Jalen Hall - WR - CA (teammate of 2017 targets Taariq Johnson, Greg Johnson, Joseph Lewis)
11. Christian Tutt - CB - GA (offered)
18. Taron Vincent - DT - MD (offered)
19. Jaelen Gill - RB - OH
21. Leonard Taylor - TE - OH
22. Jalen Preston - S - TX (offered)
23. Joey Gatewood - QB - FL
24. Ricky Slade - RB - VA
31. Austin Fontaine - DT - MD (teammate of 2016 target Terrance Davis)
33. P.J. Mustipher - DT - MD (brother of Ohio State OG Sam Mustipher)
38. Patrick Surtain, Jr. - CB - FL (son of former NFL CB Patrick Surtain)
39. Al Blades, Jr. - S - FL (son of Al Blades, nephew of Benny and Brian Blades)
44. Allan Walters - QB - NJ (offered)
46. Cameron Jurgens - TE - NE
49. Wyatt Blake - OT - IL
55. Asante Samuel, Jr. - CB - FL (offered, son of former NFL CB Asante Samuel)
57. Marquan McCall - OG - MI (offered)
60. Houston Griffith - ATH - IL (son of former NFL FB, BTN analyst Howard Griffith)
70. Antwuan Johnson - LB - OH
75. Jayson Ademilola - ATH - NJ (offered along with twin Justin; teammate of Allan Walters)
79. Amon-Ra St. Brown - WR - CA (brother of Equanimeous and Osiris St. Brown)
87. Emil Ekiyor - OG - IN (offered)
92. L'Christian Smith - ATH - OH
95. Daniel George - WR - MD

2015 Season Countdown: #32 Mike McCray II

Mike McCray (image via MWolverine)
I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but the new website should be launched sometime this week. If you would like to contribute to the site redesign, please use Paypal (on the left sidebar) or consider using this link to Amazon to do some shopping (LINK). Thanks!
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Name: Mike McCray II
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 242 lbs.
High school: Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison
Position: Linebacker
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #9
Last year: I ranked McCray #64 and said he would be a backup middle linebacker. He made 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 blocked punt.

McCray was not expected to contribute much last season with all of the competition for playing time at linebacker. First and foremost, he was behind star linebacker Jake Ryan. Second, the Wolverines had several more experienced 'backers, including Desmond Morgan, Joe Bolden, and Ben Gedeon. McCray was expected to play special teams, which he did well enough in the season opener. He made a leaping block of a punt against Appalachian State that was returned for a touchdown by Gedeon. Despite playing a fair amount on specials, though, the rest of his year was fairly quiet.

The depth chart has thinned a bit this year. Ryan matriculated to the NFL, second-year linebacker Michael Ferns transferred to West Virginia, and fellow second-year guy Chase Winovich moved to tight end in the spring. Those players don't necessarily impact McCray on the depth chart, but their departures from the position group elevate him in importance. McCray won't be a starter this year, but Morgan and Bolden will both graduate after the season, and it would be nice for McCray to get some significant playing time before he's counted on heavily in 2016. He had an upper body injury in the spring that caused him to miss a significant chunk of those practices, but he should be healthy for the beginning of camp.

Prediction: Backup linebacker, special teamer

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

MLive: Tight end position preview

Nick Baumgardner previews the tight ends (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #33 Ty Isaac

Ty Isaac
Name: Ty Isaac
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 240 lbs.
High school: Joliet (IL) Catholic
Position: Running back
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #32
Last year: I ranked Isaac #19 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.

Isaac committed to USC in the class of 2013 and spent his freshman season as a backup for the Trojans. He ran 40 times for 236 yards (5.9 yards/carry) and 2 touchdowns, and he caught 4 passes for 57 yards (14.3 yards/catch). As a recruit he was considered to be a kid who wanted to stay close to home, so it was a surprise that he chose USC in the first place. When he decided to transfer, it was unclear if it was the depth chart or a health issue with his mother (or a combination of the two) that brought him back to the midwest. He applied for a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately, and when I ranked him #19 last year, he was in limbo about whether he would be granted the waiver or not. His request was not granted, so he redshirted like most transfers do.

Fast forward a year, and he is probably not in the situation he expected. Brady Hoke was fired after the end of Isaac's redshirt year, and Hoke really recruited him hard out of high school. That was a coaching staff that loved his potential. Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh and company were mostly coaching in the NFL, and they probably did not have a clue who he was when he was churning out yards in Joliet, Illinois. This spring Isaac was dealing with multiple injuries (he had a cast on his wrist and battled a pulled hamstring), limiting him to just one carry in the spring game before tweaking the hamstring. Since then there have been transfer rumors and questions about Isaac's toughness.

I think Isaac is the most talented running back on the team. I was fairly high on Derrick Green coming of high school in 2013, but I would have ranked Isaac higher. He can do almost anything you want out of a running back - run between the tackles, run outside, run through tackles, make people miss, outrun some people, and catch the ball out of the backfield. The thing that has always been a question about him - and this goes back to his high school days - is his mental toughness, and that is a difficult thing to discern from watching him on film.

I have few doubts that Isaac is talented enough to succeed at this level, but he plays for a coach that demands toughness. So how far does talent take you on this Michigan squad? I have a feeling that De'Veon Smith will be the starter to begin the year because - let's face it - his best attribute is his toughness. Smith isn't going to outrun anyone or juke anybody in the hole, but he will churn his legs until he can't anymore. I think Isaac is a tough guy to keep off the field because he can create more on his own, he can break bigger plays, and he can catch the ball. Some analysts thought he could even play wide receiver in college. And despite questions about his mental fortitude, he does run with good body lean and gain some tough yards. I just don't know if his raw talent will be enough to convince Harbaugh to trust him as the bell cow.

Prediction: Backup running back; 120 carries, 600 yards, 7 touchdowns

Monday, July 27, 2015

MLive: Wide receiver position preview

Nick Baumgardner takes a look at the wide receiver group (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #34 Brandon Watson

Brandon Watson
Name: Brandon Watson
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 189 lbs.
High school: Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy
Position: Cornerback
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #28
Last year: I ranked Watson #73 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.

I did not have much of a feel for Watson when he was coming out of high school. Film on him was scarce, except for a couple plays here or there taken on the same video cameras that captured the existence of Bigfoot. He was a high school corner who played both safety and cornerback in practice last season.

Known for his physicality, Watson seems to have meshed well with the new coaching staff. He is not the biggest or fastest corner around, but he has long arms and can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. This was the best play of the spring game:
(image via MGoBlog.com)
That's Watson hanging right there with Maurice Ways, who gets clocked by Jarrod Wilson, jarring the ball loose for Watson to pick. This play, a couple other decent ones in the spring game, and some buzz out of the spring session suggest that Watson has made a move up the depth chart. It doesn't hurt that three corners left (Raymon Taylor, Delonte Hollowell, and Blake Countess), one guy moved to safety (Jabrill Peppers), and two others haven't done much with their opportunities (Terry Richardson, Channing Stribling). It seems like a bit of a toss-up as to whether Watson or Stribling will be the third corner, but I'm giving the edge to Watson because a) he played well in the spring game and b) his mentality seems to fit the new regime's.

Prediction: Backup cornerback, special teamer

Recruiting Update: July 27, 2015

Loganville (GA) Grayson quarterback Chase Brice
ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2016
Fort Pierce (FL) Central offensive tackle Stewart Reese was offered by Michigan. He's a 6'5", 348 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, and LSU, among others. He's a 247 Composite 3-star, the #35 offensive tackle, and #347 overall. Reese is an excellent drive blocker who may need to move inside to guard at the next level. He wants to study to be a doctor, which is a pretty big undertaking for a football player. Florida State seems to be in the driver's seat right now.

Hit the jump for a new 2017 quarterback offer, several players who came off the board, and a handful of random bits.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

MLive: Offensive line position preview

Nick Baumgardner previews the offensive line position group (LINK).

Hit the jump for some beautiful women, including a video of singer Andie Case.

2015 Season Countdown: #35 Channing Stribling

Channing Stribling
Name: Channing Stribling
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 178 lbs.
High school: Matthews (NC) Butler
Position: Cornerback
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #8
Last year: I ranked Stribling #46 and said he would be a backup cornerback. He made 7 tackles and .5 tackles for loss.

Stribling played a fair amount as a freshman in 2013, and that raised a lot of people's hopes for him, despite the fact that he was not very good. Last season he was anywhere from the fourth to the sixth cornerback behind starters Jourdan Lewis and Blake Countess, as well as Raymon Taylor, Delonte Hollowell, and Jabrill Peppers (pre-injury).

Four of the five players listed above are gone (Taylor and Hollowell to graduation, Countess to Auburn, Peppers to safety), but I still think Stribling will be the fourth corner or lower, depending on how you view the position. The starters are likely to be Jourdan Lewis and Wayne Lyons, Peppers is slotted in as the nickel corner, and even redshirt freshman Brandon Watson might have worked his way past Stribling. I am concerned that after two years of seeing a fair amount of backup time, Stribling has just 23 tackles, .5 tackles for loss, and 1 forced fumble. The cornerback position is about making plays on the ball, and he doesn't seem to have that "it" factor for a corner. He seems to be a step slow when it comes to timing, turning to run, finding the ball, etc. There's bound to be an injury or two, and certain packages will require more defensive backs, but Stribling seems to be on the outside looking in when it comes to major playing time this season. The one thing that bumps him into the 30's this year is a lack of proven depth at corner when so many teams in college football trot out four and five receivers. Beyond Stribling, Michigan has few options before people start having to shuffle positions.

Prediction: Backup cornerback

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Happy 20,000,000th page view!

Touch the Banner has now racked up 20,000,000 page views! Thanks to all of you who read on a regular or semi-regular basis. Below are some good looking women to help us celebrate, including a gif of Denise Milani.

Michigan Daily: The wet, hot Harbaugh summer

Zach Shaw talks about the whirlwind summer for Jim Harbaugh (LINK).

Hit the jump for some good looking women, including a gif of a girl doing some stretching.

2015 Season Countdown: #36 Matt Godin

Matt Godin
Name: Matt Godin
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 287 lbs.
High school: Novi (MI) Catholic Central
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #99
Last year: I ranked Godin #48 and said he would be a backup 3-tech tackle. He made 9 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 interception.

Godin struggled with some fairly minor injury issues last year, and that kept him off the field for a small portion of the year. He also had some pretty solid players ahead of him on the depth chart, and he was not greatly missed for a defense that did pretty well despite a struggling offense. When Godin did get on the field, he was not a liability. He lacks great explosiveness, but he does well with leverage despite being 6'6". He had a decent two-game stretch late in the season against Northwestern and Maryland when he made 3 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and that interception on a tipped ball against the Wildcats. But during the rest of the year, he made just 6 total tackles.

Godin should be healthy this year, but the depth chart has not cleared up ahead of him. He and Chris Wormley play roughly the same position, and Wormley got a lot of buzz this spring as a 3-4 end/4-3 tackle tweener. Meanwhile, Michigan has Willie Henry as a 3-tech tackle. Godin is looking at a backup role again, but he is a serviceable player who has done a good job of working his body into shape since high school. I think he is a player who can help get a push against smaller, more finesse-oriented offensive lines because of his length, but there are other guys who might fit into game plans against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Minnesota, teams that are looking to pound it up the middle. Unfortunately for Godin, Wormley and Henry are his classmates, so unless something happens to one of those guys, he may not be able to punch through into the starting lineup before his career is finished.

Prediction: Backup defensive tackle

Friday, July 24, 2015

Welcome to the Weekend!

Start celebrating your weekend with some good looking ladies beyond the jump, including a Marisa Miller gif.

SB Nation: Michigan has a lot to prove in Harbaugh's debut

Ian Boyd previews Michigan at Utah (LINK).

Hit the jump for a few good looking women and a gif that will make you happy.

2015 Season Countdown: #37 Drake Harris

Drake Harris (image via MGoBlog)
Name: Drake Harris
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 184 lbs.
High school: Grand Rapids (MI) Christian
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #14
Last year: I ranked Harris #71 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.

A redshirt was expected for Harris in 2014, and a redshirt was received. He hurt his hamstring pretty badly before his senior season of football began in 2013, and the same injuries continued to hamper him into last year. When it seemed like he was on his way back, he got hurt again. He was practicing with the team this past spring until he tweaked his hammy, so we didn't see him in the spring game, either. Harris was an early enrollee in January 2014, and we haven't even seen him play in a spring game since then.

I have heard rumors this summer that Harris was essentially given an ultimatum by Jim Harbaugh: Be healthy and ready to contribute by July 1, take a medical scholarship, or transfer. I have not heard that from a strong enough source to lend it a ton of credence, but it does sound plausible. When a lone injury costs you two-plus years of rehabbing and sitting on the bench, it seems rather natural to think that it might be career-ending. We've hit that two-year mark.

As for what Harris brings to the field, he's a 6'4" kid with good speed who can go up and get it. A healthy Drake Harris is a potential difference-maker. He hasn't played since high school, and I can imagine that blocking would be an issue at his current size (6'4" and 184 lbs. is very stringy, even though he's put on 10 lbs. since last year). But practice reports from his healthy stretches were positive, and he's a guy who can break big plays, including against a pretty good Michigan defense early this spring. He said on Twitter that he recently ran a 4.4 and appears to be healthy. Michigan has a lot of possession guys, but they have been lacking a big-play threat since Devin Funchess got hurt early last year. Even if Harris is 100% healthy this fall, I don't think he can be an all-world receiver after missing two years. But if he is at full go, then he could be a weapon that we will be looking forward to seeing more of in 2016 and beyond.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver; 15 catches, 225 yards, 2 touchdowns

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Athlon Sports: College Football's Top 25 Non-Conference Games

Michigan appears twice on Athlon's top 25 non-conference games list (LINK).

Hit the jump for some pictures of the lovely Diana Melison.

2015 Season Countdown: #38 Derrick Green

Derrick Green
Name: Derrick Green
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 234 lbs.
High school: Richmond (VA) Heritage
Position: Running back
Class: Junior
Jersey number: #27
Last year: I ranked Green #29 and said he would be a backup running back with 120 carries, 500 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He had 82 carries for 471 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 2 catches for 26 yards.

It was an up-and-down season for Green last year. He was overweight and out of shape as a freshman, and then he worked himself into pretty good condition for 2014. Things started off great with a 170-yard game (including a 62-yard run) against Appalachian State, went downhill against Notre Dame, improved against Miami of Ohio, went okay against Utah, went terribly against Minnesota, and then went pretty well at Rutgers . . . until he broke his collarbone, anyway. Up until that point, he was the starting running back and lead rusher by a long shot. He missed the final six weeks of the season and finished second in rushing to De'Veon Smith (519 yards).

I have had a hard time sussing out the running back situation this off-season. Drake Johnson looked the best to end 2014, but he tore his ACL in the season finale. De'Veon Smith looked the best in the spring game, but that's largely based off of one run and he has had plenty of opportunities in the past to distinguish himself, which he hasn't done. Ty Isaac was the most talented of the whole group coming out of high school, but he was nursing an injury this spring and rumors persist about his mental toughness. Toss in Wyatt Shallman and Karan Higdon, and nobody really knows what to expect.

So where does Green fit in? Green is not a guy who can create for himself. Despite being built like a bowling ball, he is more of a Nerf ball. Green goes down way too easily on contact, although if I'm being fair, his issues stem from lacking balance in the lower body. If he has a chance to lower his shoulders and square up a defender, he can gain extra yards. If the defender picks a dandelion and hurls it at Green's knees, Green will fall flat on his face. I think his vision is solid, his speed is decent for a big guy, and he has some nifty feet in the hole, but he needs a good offensive line. (He is also reportedly the best pass blocker of the group.) With a good offensive line, he can be a 1,200-yard rusher and earn some fringe all-conference accolades. With a mediocre offensive line, he will be what he has been. As of right now, I think Green is a very solid #2 back but not a guy who can put the team on his back and will it to victory. I don't know if Michigan has that guy right now. This will probably be a running back-by-committee type of situation when all is said and done, even though Jim Harbaugh has a history of picking one horse and riding him until the cows come home.

Prediction: Backup running back; 80 carries, 400 yards, 4 touchdowns

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Columbus Dispatch: Michigan transfer finds home at Ohio

Keith Heitzman is playing tight end at Ohio (LINK). And when I say "Ohio," I actually mean the Ohio Bobcats. I don't buy into that stupid crap about calling Ohio State "Ohio."

Hit the jump for some cleavage.

2015 Season Countdown: #39 Maurice Hurst, Jr.

Maurice Hurst, Jr. (image via MGoBlog)
Name: Maurice Hurst, Jr.
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 281 lbs.
High school: Westwood (MA) Xaverian Brothers
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #73
Last year: I ranked Hurst #41 and said he would be a backup nose tackle. He made 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 blocked extra point.

Hurst earned quite a bit of buzz during the spring of 2014 and in practice last season, but it never translated into a great deal of playing time. He appeared in eight games and made 3 tackles total. However, he was not one of those guys who made all his tackles against Appalachian State and then disappeared. His TFL came against Notre Dame, his extra point block came against Rutgers, etc. This is a player who appears to be working his way up the depth chart the old-fashioned way - by earning it in practice, having some success on the field, and showing why he should be on the field.

Hurst spent the spring game making David Dawson look silly and getting in the backfield, so that may mean good things are on their way. Unfortunately, Hurst plays a position where Michigan has a lot of depth, including redshirt junior Ryan Glasgow and sophomore Bryan Mone, not to mention redshirt junior Willie Henry, who can play nose tackle or 3-tech tackle. While nobody has proven to be a star just yet, there is potential for a couple of these guys to earn accolades and raise their draft status. I like Hurst as a situational pass rush guy, but his size is a question mark for an every-down player on the nose. I expect him to improve his stock incrementally this season.

Prediction: Backup nose tackle

Visitors: July 25-27, 2015

Egg Harbor City (NJ) Cedar Creek safety Ahmir Mitchell
Ahmir Mitchell - WR - Egg Harbor City (NJ) Cedar Creek: Mitchell is a 6'3", 206 lb. prospect with offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Rutgers, among others. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #6 athlete, and #78 overall. He visited Michigan a few weeks ago with a group of New Jersey prospects. He will visit Ohio State on Friday and Michigan on Saturday, and this trip will be with his mother. He is also scheduled to be at the BBQ at the Big House on August 2, although this trip may cancel that one.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Wolverine: By the Numbers - QB grad transfers

This was posted by Michael Spath back in April, but it's a good look at other graduate transfer quarterbacks and how they've performed in the past (LINK). It could inform your thoughts on Jake Rudock.

Hit the jump for a few good looking ladies, including a gif of a girl checking herself out in the mirror.

2015 Season Countdown: #40 Maurice Ways

Maurice Ways
Name: Maurice Ways
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Beverly Hills (MI) Detroit Country Day
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Redshirt freshman
Jersey number: #85
Last year: I ranked Ways #70 and said he would redshirt. He redshirted.

Ways was a bit of a late bloomer coming out of high school. Early in his high school career, he was splitting his time between basketball and football, and he thought he might make a career out of his court exploits. In his final two years, he decided to concentrate on football and realized that there are a lot of talented guys out there who are 6'4". It made sense to predict a redshirt for him last year as he continued his adjustment to playing wide receiver at a high level.

Ways is not lacking in physical skills. He has the height, the build, the speed, and the leaping ability to be a standout in the Big Ten. The biggest question mark about him has been his hands. He had a case of the dropsies in high school, and those problems have reportedly persisted in the early stages of his college career. Michigan's receiving corps is almost totally unproven, and I think Ways has the potential to be a major player going forward. That may not happen this year - or ever - but someone has to step up, so it might as well be him. One of this staff's strengths is supposedly their ability to coach up undeveloped players, and I think Ways's physical assets make him a prime candidate to benefit.

Prediction: Backup wide receiver

Review of 2007 Recruiting: Safeties

Jerimy Finch
THE ROSTER
Anton Campbell, RS Sr.
Brandent Englemon, RS Sr.
Jamar Adams, Sr.
Charles Stewart, RS So.
Steve Brown, So.

THE RECRUITS
Artis Chambers

High school:
 Fort Wayne (IN) Snyder
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #41 S
College: Michigan
Other notable offers: Indiana, Purdue
Scoop: Chambers played a bit as a true freshman in 2007, making 7 total tackles, including a 5-tackle performance against Notre Dame. He made 2 more tackles in 2008 before leaving the team in the middle of the season for unknown reasons. He transferred to Ball State and had to sit out the 2009 season due to transfer rules, but he was gone by 2010. He reappeared at Delta State University in 2012 and made 7 tackles in six games. His career appears to be finished.

Michael Williams

High school:
 Ventura (CA) St. Bonaventure
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #15 S
College: Michigan
Other notable offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Notre Dame
Scoop: Williams was a highly touted recruit out of California who redshirted as a freshman in 2007. The newly hired Rich Rodriguez used him as a box safety in 2008, when he made 18 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. He became a nine-game starter as a redshirt sophomore in 2009 and made 56 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 pass breakup. He appeared in just two games in 2010 and made 2 tackles before the last in a long line of concussions caused his career to come to a close.

Hit the jump for the scoop on the other guys Michigan targeted, including Ohio State-bound Eugene Clifford and one-time Michigan commit Jerimy Finch.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Wolverine: The Big Ten's best football players

The Wolverine's Michael Spath ranks the top 25 players in the Big Ten (LINK). Unfortunately, none of them plays for the Wolverines.

Hit the jump for a few good looking ladies to soften the blow.

ESPN 300 for 2017 released

Donovan Peoples-Jones and Michael Onwenu
ESPN released their top 300 prospects for the class of 2017 (LINK). There are no 5-star prospects on the list yet, so all these prospects are 4-stars and 3-stars. Four of the top six prospects are offensive tackles, and a fifth is a defensive tackle. ESPN is weird like that.

Anyway, hit the jump for all of Michigan's offerees:

2015 Season Countdown: #41 Khalid Hill

Khalid Hill
Name: Khalid Hill
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 252 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) East English Village
Position: Tight end
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #80
Last year: I ranked Hill #60 and said he would be a backup tight end. He started three games and made 4 catches for 37 yards.

Last year it appeared that Hill had made the move from an H-back type of player to a full-time tight end, but that turned out to be temporary based on some other personnel issues. When the season came around, he was playing H-back and lining up in various places off the line. He made some nice blocks in space, started three games when the packages called for an H-back, and made a few catches before tearing his ACL in the fifth game.

Hill seems like a good fit for the F-back position that the new staff is implementing. Unfortunately, he missed all of spring practice due to his ACL recovery. Depending on how that recovery goes, I think he is probably the best F-back prospect on the roster and should be the starter if and when he's healthy. He has soft hands, enough speed to gain chunks of yards in the flat, and can be a good blocker on linebackers, though he lacks the length, bulk, and technique to play on the line of scrimmage. My guess is that he will be starting by year's end unless someone else really takes a stranglehold on the position early.

Prediction: Starting F-back by end of season

Recruiting Update: July 20, 2015

Houston (TX) Westside defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (image via 247Sports.com)
ADDED TO THE BOARD: 2016
Allen (TX) Allen offensive tackle Greg Little decommitted from Texas A&M. He's a 247 Composite 5-star, the #1 offensive tackle, and #2 overall. It seems a little odd that Little is decommitting from the Aggies with their steady recent history of producing top draft picks at the offensive tackle position. Also, the school he will probably commit to now, Alabama, offered him back in January, so it's not like it's a new offer for which he had been waiting. Regardless, Michigan has no shot here.

Hit the jump for a few players who committed elsewhere and some miscellaneous bits.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

247 Sports: Ten quarterbacks who've "got next"

Kevin Flaherty looks at ten college quarterbacks from around the country who could be tomorrow's stars (LINK). John O'Korn makes the list, along with several familiar names for those of you who have been following quarterback recruiting the past couple years.

Hit the jump for a few good looking ladies.

2015 Season Countdown: #42 Royce Jenkins-Stone

Royce Jenkins-Stone
Name: Royce Jenkins-Stone
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 240 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Position: Linebacker
Class: Senior
Jersey number: #52
Last year: I ranked Jenkins-Stone #35 and said he would be a backup SAM linebacker with 20 tackles and 1 sack. He started two games and made 8 tackles.

When Jenkins-Stone was a recruit, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Greg Mattison told him that he could be the next Ray Lewis. Fast forward three years, and Jenkins-Stone finally made his first appearance in a starting lineup against Miami-OH. Playing mostly special teams throughout the year, he set a career-high with 8 tackles. He was recruited as a middle linebacker, and he looked like the type of kid who would bulk up and at least have the prototypical build of a MIKE, if not the skills of one. It appears that the skills were lacking, but he was listed at just 221 lbs. last year, which was six pounds lighter than the undersized, 6'0" outside linebacker James Ross III. Jenkins-Stone's career has definitely not gone in an expected direction.

Fast forward another year, and Jenkins-Stone is the biggest he has ever been at 240 lbs. Something finally clicked in the weight room or at the buffet table, and maybe it's the fact that he's entering what could very well be the final season of his football career without making much of an impact. Rather than being a middle linebacker, though, the new coaching staff seems to think of him as a quasi-defensive end. He played Buck linebacker in the spring game, which is the new staff's name for a weakside end. I ranked fellow Buck linebacker Lawrence Marshall at #43 yesterday (LINK). Both players will probably be backups to Mario Ojemudia, but Marshall is somewhat limited to pass rushing while Jenkins-Stone is more of a run-stopper, has some position flexibility, and has been playing special teams his whole career. At this point Jenkins-Stone is probably just a guy, but he can give someone a breather and maybe make an occasional play in the run game or on kick coverage.

Prediction: Backup Buck linebacker, special teamer; 18 tackles

What I've Been Reading


Tripwire  by Lee Child. This tells the story of Jack Reacher, who is at least temporarily happy working in Key West, being reminded of his past Army life. A former colleague passes away, and Reacher happens to fall in love with his daughter, a lawyer in New York. (Jodie Garber is a character who will be referenced throughout at least the next few novels.) Some of the deceased's dangerous business ends up falling in Reacher's lap, and he has to go about making things right for himself and for Jodie.

Running Blind  by Lee Child. As of this writing, I have read six of the Jack Reacher books, and Running Blind  was in some ways the least enjoyable. I liked the beginning and middle of the story, but the "surprise twist" ending was not a surprise at all. I had expected it for a while at that point. Anyway, the book starts off in New York City with Reacher beating up a couple thugs, and it continues as a cross-country hunt for a serial killer of sexual assault victims.

Echo Burning  by Lee Child. I think someone mentioned in a previous iteration of "What I've Been Reading" that the series really took off with Echo Burning, and I have to agree. It seemed like this one was a little bit more personal and riveting than others. Jack Reacher ends up in the middle of nowhere in Texas (okay, places like Pecos and Echo) with a woman trying to get him to off her abusive/criminal husband.

Without Fail  by Lee Child. The momentum from Echo Burning  carries over into Without Fail, as the death of Reacher's brother comes back to haunt him a little bit. The Secret Service starts to receive threats toward the Vice President-elect, and Reacher gets pulled into the action. The reason I first heard of Jack Reacher was when the movie came out a few years ago based on One Shot, but Without Film  seems like the most filmable novel of the series so far.

A Drink Before the War  by Dennis Lehane. I had been on a bit of a Dennis Lehane run before I got hooked on the Jack Reacher books, so I took a bit of a break to return to the investigations of Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. The two private investigators get a job that has them looking for a politician's house cleaner who stole some important documents. Unfortunately, Kenzie figures out what the documents are and realizes that maybe they shouldn't be returned. I have yet to be disappointed by a Lehane book.

Study Hall: College Football, Its Stats and Its Stories  by Bill Connelly. I just started in on this one yesterday and only got through chapter one, which talks about the reasons why college football fans are so, well, fanatical. I'm looking forward to getting back into it, though.

Please leave your commentary or reading suggestions in the comment section.