Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kevin Sousa, Wolverine

Kevin Sousa, a 6'2", 213 lb. quarterback from Orlando, FL, committed to the Wolverines on Tuesday. He received an offer just over a week ago and immediately scheduled a trip to Ann Arbor. Sousa has been on the recruitment radar for several months, but the coaches admitted to him that their higher valued targets (Braxton Miller, Christian LeMay, Everett Golson, Kiehl Frazier, etc.) were headed elsewhere and they were expanding their recruitment of the position.

Sousa's actual size is a bit of a mystery, since he's listed in various places to be somewhere between the above height/weight and 6'4", 235. Six-feet-four and 235 lbs. sounds a little big to me, despite the fact that his arms in the above picture look like WIFFLE ball bats. But however tall and broad he stands betweens those ranges, Little Tate Forcier this is not.

Sousa just started playing football as a sophomore, after being a soccer player in his earlier days. Furthermore, Lake Nona High School's program was in its first year when Sousa was a junior, so there's plenty of room to improve, both for him and his team. In two seasons as a varsity quarterback, he's thrown for 2,636 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 1,775 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also missed three games of his sophomore year due to a knee injury, so those numbers are slightly deflated. Also, all accounts point to Sousa being a highly coachable kid who's ready and willing to learn (video interview here).

Watching Sousa's highlight film, I see a lot of great things and several things that he'll need to improve. He's a great physical specimen with excellent size, good speed, and good vision. He has an above average arm to get the ball downfield. For being new to the sport, he's got a good head on his shoulders. He keeps his eyes downfield when he's scrambling and tries to find the open man. When he does tuck the ball and run, he can run around or through defenders. In fact, there are times where he tries to run over smaller kids rather than leaving them in the dust.

Mechanically, he has plenty to improve. He needs to hold the ball higher when dropping back, which will quicken his release. His windup is a little long, especially when scrambling. I also noticed that there were several times where he tried to escape pressure with the ball dangling from his right hand only; if you watched Tate Forcier at the beginning of the 2009 Ohio State game, you know that's not a good idea. I'd also like to see Sousa hop a little bit less. Most of his snaps seem to come out of the shotgun, and instead of taking steps to drop back, he hops up and down. Not only does it put him in a poor position to throw, but it also affects a quarterback's vision - the receivers and defenders are suddenly bobbing up and down in his sightline, as if he's standing on a dinghy. That was a problem in his junior season film (the first video) but seems to have been corrected by the spring game (second), so hopefully that problem has been fixed permanently.

Luckily for Michigan, Sousa should have plenty of time to improve. Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson, and/or Devin Gardner should be able to hold down the fort at quarterback through at least 2013. Sousa can redshirt in 2011 and continue to work on the little things. He's exactly the kind of quarterback that Michigan should be getting in this class, and realistically, Rodriguez and Co. couldn't have expected a much better outcome with QB recruiting. There are a few guys out there who are more polished, but not many with better physical talent. However, very few elite prospects would have wanted to come in a year after Devin Gardner and two years after Forcier/Robinson. Sousa is a great addition to the recruiting class.

Junior year:

Spring game before senior season:

Jack Miller, Wolverine

Jack Miller should fit in well on this team.

St. John's (Toledo, OH) offensive lineman Jack Miller committed to Michigan on Tuesday. He picked up a Michigan offer a couple weeks ago and hinted that his decision would come soon. Michigan was considered the heavy favorite, but it took Miller a little longer to announce his decision than he hinted at originally. Either way, he's a Wolverine now.

Miller has been ranked by the recruiting services as a defensive lineman, so his 3-star status and position rankings are somewhat irrelevant. Although he could play defense if a position switch is deemed necessary at some point, Miller was recruited to play offense and had lengthy discussions with offensive line coach Greg Frey regarding how he fits. Listed at 6'4", 270 lbs. he's likely an interior line prospect. Although he doesn't play center as a high schooler, he could be in line to snap the ball. After finishing a likely redshirt year, David Molk would be gone, Rocko Khoury would be a fifth year senior, and Christian Pace would be a redshirt sophomore.

First, a news clip:

Now, highlights from Scouting Ohio:

He's clearly an aggressive player, both on offense and defense. He likes to hit people hard. And when he does, he doesn't celebrate. To me, that means he's used to it. It's not an exciting novelty for him to punish somebody. It's just his job.

However, one criticism that I have of Miller is that he plays high. This is a problem both on offense and defense, and that concerns me, especially as an interior lineman prospect. Especially if he's going to play center, leverage is of utmost importance. And in my opinion, playing low is something that's very difficult to change. It's something that comes naturally or it doesn't. That's the difference between elite players and so-so players.

I like Miller's aggression, but I'm concerned about his technique. To be honest, I'm up in the air with this commitment. I don't really foresee him becoming a stud lineman at any point, but he could be a decent starter later in his career, a la David Moosman*.

*Please note that Guard David Moosman was significantly better than Center David Moosman.

2010 Countdown: #68 Josh Furman

Name: Josh Furman
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 194 lbs.
High School: Old Mill High School in Millersville, MD
Position: Linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction: Special teams action, limited defensive reps

Furman is a freak athlete with some growing and position-changing to do. He was a star running back and rush linebacker in high school, and his responsibilities will change greatly in the upcoming seasons. He was recruited to play SAM linebacker (Steve Brown's position last year), which involves man coverage on tight ends and slot receivers. Since he was mainly rushing the passer and stuffing the run in high school, zone and man coverage responsibilities might be difficult for him right off the bat.

With Furman's speed, athleticism, and decent size, I can picture him covering kicks and punts as a freshman, especially if he can get near or over the 200 lb. mark. Michigan's defense is somewhat lacking in linebacker-sized players with speed, partly because they're downright lacking in linebackers, period. But I think his coverage abilities will limit him to little or no time playing on defense. Defensive players typically move up in the defense (safeties become linebackers, linebackers become defensive ends, etc.), rather than moving back. But once Furman makes that adjustment, he's got a good chance to be an impact player for the Wolverines.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2010 Countdown: #69 Terrence Talbott

Name: Terrence Talbott
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 172 lbs.
High school: Wayne High School in Huber Heights, OH
Position: Cornerback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Scarce playing time

The younger brother of defensive tackle recruit Terry Talbott, Terrence is a small-ish corner. Despite graduating in the same class, the brothers aren't twins - their birthdays are separated by about nine months. Terrence is an excellent athlete, with good speed and great leaping ability. I'm afraid that his athletic skills don't quite translate into being a great football player, though. There's just a little something missing.

But this team needs help in the defensive backfield, and Terrence might be a little further along than Courtney Avery at this point. There's been some indication from insiders that Terrence's upside is questionable, and his ceiling might be limited to special teams coverage. I have a feeling that his situation might be similar to that of sophomore defensive back Teric Jones, who played scarce minutes in 2009 because the coaches didn't want to burn Justin Turner's redshirt. In other words, the coaches would rather have the player with less upside (Jones, possibly Terrence Talbott) use up his eligibility in four years rather than devoting a scholarship to him for a fifth year.

We'll see what happens, but I'm guessing we'll see Terrence on the field against Massachusetts and/or against other teams against whom the score gets out of hand.

2010 Countdown: #70 Courtney Avery

Name: Courtney Avery
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 165 lbs.
High school: Lexington High School in Lexington, OH
Position: Cornerback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction: Redshirt

Avery is a 3-star cornerback out of Ohio, who was also Lexington's starting quarterback. And a very good quarterback, at that. There has been some talk from opposing coaches that if Avery were a few inches taller, he'd probably be playing quarterback in college. Avery is just a good overall athlete, and has a chance to be a very serviceable corner for the Wolverines.

But that probably won't happen this year. The word is that the coaches really like his potential, but he's probably not physically (165 lbs.) or mentally (he was the starting QB) ready to play just yet. I imagine he'll have at least a year of sitting on the bench before earning some playing time. It's important for him to get to a decent playing weight of 180-185 lbs., but with Troy Woolfolk graduating after this season, Avery could battle for a starting job as a redshirt freshman.

Monday, June 28, 2010

2010 Countdown: #71 Richard Ash

Name: Richard Ash
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 263 lbs.
School: Pahokee High School in Pahokee, FL
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Ash is a big kid from south Florida pipeline Pahokee, the same school that provided Michigan with Martavious Odoms, Brandin Hawthorne, and Vincent Smith. That 263 pounds thing up there might be a lie. A State of Florida insider said around signing day that Ash was up around 300 lbs. at the time. If Ash maintains that weight, he'll likely be a nose tackle. If he can work himself closer to that 263, then he could have more flexibility to play 3-tech defensive tackle as well.

Ash's conditioning will be sorted out by Mike Barwis and Co., and I imagine that Ash's playing weight will be below 300. Observers from Florida also indicated that Ash played better when he was around 240 lbs., so I get the feeling that he's not someone who wears weight well. Regardless, Ash is probably headed for a redshirt this year to get his conditioning sorted out. I placed him somewhat higher on this list than I wanted to, but that's largely because depth on the interior defensive line is somewhat thin. The Wolverines have a solid four interior linemen (Mike Martin, Greg Banks, Renaldo Sagesse, William Campbell), but any injuries might disrupt that depth and force a freshman to play. Furthermore, both Banks and Sagesse won't be returning in 2011, so there may be a need to get a young guy some garbage time reps this season.

Conelius Jones, ex-Wolverine . . . kind of.

Well, it's kind of a good thing that Rich Rodriguez probably wasn't going to rely on incoming QB recruit Conelius Jones very much this year, because Jones didn't get a qualifying score on his SAT.

No matter what anyone says, Rodriguez has been recruiting a higher number of non-qualifying kids than Lloyd Carr was, at least in Carr's last half-dozen years. This is non-qualifier #3 this year, after Demar Dorsey (who qualified for the NCAA but wasn't admitted to Michigan) and Antonio Kinard (who will also try to get into Michigan after a year of prep school). To reiterate, it's rare for a non-qualifier to get into Michigan later. Most of them move on to other schools, like Adrian Witty (Cincinnati) and Quinton Woods (junior college, then Kansas).

For a team that's been short on scholarship players for the past couple years, this is not a positive trend.

2010 Countdown: #72 Devin Gardner

Name: Devin Gardner
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 195 lbs.
High school: Inkster High School in Detroit, MI
Position: Quarterback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #7
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Gardner was arguably Michigan's top recruit in the class of 2010 and ended the recruiting cycle ranked as the #1 dual-threat quarterback in the country, according to Rivals. Actually, the argument is probably null and void now that Demar Dorsey wasn't accepted to U of M and will be attending Louisville instead. But anyway, Gardner is good. Everybody thinks so. He has great size, very good speed, a strong arm, and excellent leadership qualities. He has a few mechanical issues, but plenty of time to fix them . . .

. . . because Gardner is going to redshirt this year . . . I think. He should, anyway, unless Forcier and/or Denard Robinson gets hurt. There's no reason to have three extremely talented quarterbacks over two classes. Redshirting Gardner would give him potentially two years to start once Forcier and Robinson graduate after 2012 - perhaps more, if he beats them out. The young man you see above could be our starting quarterback through 2014. But in the meantime, he should stand on the sideline and learn how to make complicated hand signals.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010 Countdown: #73 Ken Wilkins

Name: Ken Wilkins
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 244 lbs.
High school: Trinity High School in Washington, PA
Position: Defensive end
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Wilkins is a big-time defensive end recruit out of Pennsylvania. He probably would have been more hyped by Michigan fans, but he committed last June, so the excitement wore off. I can't find the article now, but I remember reading comments from Wilkins's high school coach about the youngster's work ethic - his strength, his lack of body fat, etc. It sounds like Michigan got a kid who will fit in well with the strength and conditioning staff.

Since he's already 244 lbs., I assume Wilkins will bulk up to play the strongside defensive end position. He needs to add about 20 lbs. to be a viable option on the defensive line, which might take him a couple years to put on. Normally I would rank his likelihood of playing early lower than a heavier guy like Jibreel Black, but Wilkins has some position flexibility. There's a small possibility that he could play Craig Roh's Quick position, whereas Black is strictly an end. I still think Wilkins will redshirt, but he has some versatility and could earn some early playing time if there's an injury.

2010 Countdown: #74 Jeremy Jackson

Name: Jeremy Jackson
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 196 lbs.
High school: Huron High School in Ann Arbor, MI
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #17
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

I struggled with where to put Jackson on the list. There's no question in my mind that at least one of the freshman receivers will play this season (Jackson, Ricardo Miller, or Jerald Robinson), perhaps more. Darryl Stonum and Junior Hemingway are the likely starters, but there's not much after that.

But I've never been a fan of Jackson's playmaking ability. As the son of running backs coach Fred Jackson, he's probably learning the offense quickly and is technically sound. He's tall and can probably grab some jump balls. But golly gee, he looks super slow in every video I've ever seen of him - game film, spring practice video, etc. Not only might that be a problem for getting downfield, but I even doubt whether he can be an effective blocker at this point. I feel like Big Ten cornerbacks would just dance around him to make a tackle. So out of the three freshman wideouts, I think Jackson is the least likely to play this season.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

2010 Countdown: #75 Jibreel Black

Name: Jibreel Black
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 253 lbs.
High school: Wyoming High School in Cincinnati, OH
Position: Defensive end
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

With as much certainty as an outside observer can have, I believe the players listed below Black will redshirt. That includes Christian Pace, Davion Rogers, DJ Williamson, Conelius Jones, Jordan Paskorz, Jake Ryan, Ray Vinopal, Drew Dileo, and Austin White. Their positions and readiness make that a near certainty, in my opinion.

But now we get into the murkier depths of the roster, the guys who have an outside chance to play this season due to a starter or rotation player getting injured, or perhaps due to the coaches wanting to get a guy some reps in preparation for 2011. That's where Jibreel Black fits. Ideally, he'd probably redshirt in 2010, giving him a chance to add some weight and get stronger. He's shorter than a prototypical defensive end at only 6'2", so he's going to need to make up for that deficiency in the strength department. But I've already compared him to Brandon Graham, so I think the kid's got some talent.

The starter at defensive end will likely be Ryan Van Bergen, who has proven to be pretty durable so far in his career. He's also pretty good. His rotational backup might be Anthony Lalota, but if Van Bergen does suffer an injury, I'd expect Greg Banks to flip to 5-tech DE with Renaldo Sagesse moving in at Banks's old spot. That's a big, fancy way of saying that I hope Van Bergen doesn't get injured.

Meanwhile, Black is probably the most college-ready DE in the class, and he's got a chance to contribute. With Banks and Sagesse departing after this season, the coaches might want to season a younger guy with some reps against UMass or Bowling Green. Ultimately, I don't think Michigan will need Black on the field this season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing in non-critical moments.

2011 Offer Board Update

Orlando quarterback Kevin Sousa

The 2011 Offer Board has been updated:

Kiaro Holts (OG) committed to North Carolina.

Added Kevin Sousa (QB).

Added Dexter Staley (ILB).

Added Paul Gaughan (OT).

Corey Marshall (DE) committed to Virginia Tech.

Added Jake Fisher (OT).

Jarrell Oliver (SB) committed to Utah.

Remound Wright (SB) committed to Stanford.

Devin Smith (WR) committed to Ohio State.

Added Jerell Adams (TE).

Added Jack Miller (OG).

Jerrard Randall (QB) committed to Oregon.

Added James Elliott (OG).

Friday, June 25, 2010

2010 Countdown: #76 Terry Talbott

Terry Talbott, Agent #9, Terrence Talbott, and Braxton Miller
Name: Terry Talbott
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 255 lbs.
High school: Wayne High School in Huber Heights, OH
Position: Defensive tackle
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Terry Talbott, the older and larger brother of Terrence, is a quick-footed defensive tackle prospect from the Worst State Ever. He's got the physical skills to be a dominant high school defensive lineman, but sometimes it's hard to project guys forward when they need to gain 30 or 40 pounds before they can sniff the playing field. As it stands, Terry has the quickest first step of any defensive tackle Michigan has brought in over the last several years. But as you can see in the picture above, he's got some filling out to do.

From my perspective, Terry needs at least a year to bulk up. He seems to be headed for the 3-tech DT spot, which means he can probably play at a weight between 280-290 lbs. But it needs to be good weight, not just additional blubber. Michigan has a fair amount of depth at those interior positions with Mike Martin and Greg Banks the likely starters. Renaldo Sagesse, William Campbell, and Adam Patterson will back them up. So as long as nobody gets seriously injured, the freshmen can probably afford to sit and watch for 2011.

2010 Countdown: #77 Austin White

Name: Austin White
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 196 lbs.
School: Stevenson High School in Livonia, MI
Position: Running back
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: #23
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Austin White is a very interesting prospect to me. Recruited to play running back, he has the skill set to play several positions - running back, slot receiver, wide receiver, or even safety. He also has the pedigree to play receiver, having two brothers who played receiver at Michigan State; older brother Blair was signed by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent in May. (EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that Blair is no relation. Mitchell and Myles White are Austin's brothers. To state the obvious, I guess I don't give a damn about MSU athletics or I would have remembered that.)

White enrolled in January, and he's got decent size at 196 lbs. Reports out of spring practice indicate that he was behind fellow early enrollee Stephen Hopkins, and for that reason, I think White will redshirt. The running back position is somewhat clogged, albeit with unproven players. I would not be surprised to see White change positions at some point in his career, but those things usually happen after a year or two of unsuccessful attempts at the original spot.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 Countdown: #78 Drew Dileo

Name: Drew Dileo
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 175 lbs.
High school: Parkview Baptist Christian School in Greenwell Springs, LA
Position: Slot receiver
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Another controversial Michigan commitment, Dileo will play slot receiver and potentially return kicks at Michigan. He played for a successful high school program and was a jack-of-all-trades type who played running back, receiver, cornerback, and kick returner. But he's small-ish and 175 lbs. might be on the generous side, as he has a pretty slight build.

Dileo's most likely contribution for the Wolverines will be as a return man, but that probably won't happen this year. He needs to put on some weight, and there are plenty of guys ahead of him. Martavious Odoms, Darryl Stonum, Jeremy Gallon, and Terrence Robinson appear to be the front-runners for the return jobs for now.

2010 Countdown: #79 Ray Vinopal

Name: Ray Vinopal
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 178 lbs.
High school: Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, OH
Position: Safety
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Vinopal was a somewhat controversial addition to Michigan's 2010 recruiting class. Fans weren't too excited about a small-ish safety that reminded many of current Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs, who made the team as a walk-on. And I don't mean to pass the buck, because I was one of those who lacked excitement. But he's a Wolverine now, so hopefully all Michigan fans are rooting for him to be successful.

That being said, Vinopal is probably going to watch from the sidelines in 2010. He's likely headed for the free safety position, which is currently a battle between Cameron Gordon, a buzz-worthy redshirt freshman, and Vladimir Emilien, a sophomore who's still recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in high school. Unless injuries and/or horrid play plague those two, there hopefully won't be a need for a third free safety. Then Vinopal can spend his time working on getting taller.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 Countdown: #80 Jake Ryan

Name: Jake Ryan
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school: St. Ignatius High School in Westlake, OH
Position: Linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Ryan was a late, under-the-radar addition to Michigan's class. While he reported being recruited to play Craig Roh's outside linebacker position, I feel that he would contribute best to the team at middle linebacker. Not only does Michigan have a shortage of inside linebackers, but I think Ryan does a good job of playing downhill and has the requisite speed for the position. I also think he looks like a WVU middle linebacker, which is where this defense seems to be heading.

Whichever linebacker position he ends up playing, he's probably due for a redshirt. He's a little bit light to play at the college level just yet, and the middle linebacker position can be filled by some combination of Obi Ezeh, JB Fitzgerald, or Kenny Demens. But I do think Ryan has a bright future ahead of him.

2010 Countdown: #81 Jordan Paskorz

Name: Jordan Paskorz
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 235 lbs.
High school: Hampton High School in Allison Park, PA
Position: Outside linebacker or defensive end
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Paskorz is one of the more interesting prospects in Michigan's 2010 class. When he was initially recruited, Paskorz stated that the coaches were recruiting him to play Craig Roh's outside linebacker position. But late in the process, Paskorz reported something that I had felt all along - if he puts on too much weight to play OLB, he'll play the traditional defensive end position. Since watching film of Paskorz for the first time, my impression was that he would be too stiff to play OLB. There are some things that Craig Roh did in pass coverage that would make Paskorz a serious liability, in my opinion.

However, at 235 lbs. Paskorz still has some growing to do, no matter which position he plays. Craig Roh was too light last season when he was 238 lbs. and has subsequently added 10-15 lbs. Meanwhile, to play strongside defensive end, Paskorz would likely need to be 260-plus lbs. So I think Paskorz is an obvious redshirt candidate in 2010, and his position will likely be re-evaluated year-to-year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

2010 Countdown: #82 Conelius Jones

Name: Conelius Jones
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 197 lbs.
High school: Spartanburg High School in Spartanburg, SC
Position: Quarterback
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Jones is a very athletic prospect that Michigan pulled from historically atypical Wolverine territory - South Carolina. Oddly, no Michigan players came from South Carolina prior to 1993. Assuming Jones makes it to campus, he will be the eighth South Carolina native to don the maize and blue. Five of them will be on the 2010 roster - cornerback JT Floyd, defensive lineman Adam Patterson, wide receiver Junior Hemingway, offensive guard Quinton Washington, and Jones.

Jones has stated that he would be open to playing whatever position the coaches want him to play. His allegiance to these coaches has been strong because they were the first ones to offer him. So while Jones was recruited to play quarterback, he could eventually move to receiver or defensive back. When I think of how Jones' career might pan out, I can't help but think of Paul Thompson, the former Oklahoma Sooner who bounced back and forth between receiver and quarterback.

I expect Jones to redshirt in 2010. He's an inexperienced quarterback, he played wide receiver in a South Carolina all-star game, and the local newspaper thought he would play defensive back in college. So he's got some versatility, but the phrase, "Jack of all trades, master of none" comes to mind. Hopefully he can find a position on which to concentrate and contribute a couple years down the road. In the meantime, Michigan has enough talented quarterbacks to get through the 2010 campaign.

2010 Countdown: #83 DJ Williamson

Name: Deaver (D.J.) Williamson
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 172 lbs.
High school: Harding High School in Warren, OH
Position: Slot receiver
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

When Williamson wasn't attempting to be Usain Bolt - both in speed and hubris - he was playing wide receiver for Harding High School. Despite his excellent speed, he's somewhat small-ish and raw as a receiver.

Williamson revealed on Signing Day that he was recruited to play slot receiver, a position that is jam-packed with veteran players, most notably Martavious Odoms and Roy Roundtree. It would be quite a feat for Williamson to even break the five-deep this season, so I expect him to redshirt.

Monday, June 21, 2010

2010 Countdown: #84 Davion Rogers

Name: Davion Rogers
Height: 6'6"
Weight: 210 lbs.
High school: Harding High School in Warren, OH
Position: Outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Rogers has all kinds of athleticism paired with the bulk of a wind sock. That's not a good combination for playing early. Recruited to play the "Quick" outside linebacker/defensive end spot, he'll immediately be behind sophomore starter Craig Roh and redshirt junior Brandon Herron. Along with those two, a big chunk of fellow freshmen were recruited to play Quick, all of whom have more college-ready bodies: Ken Wilkins, Jordan Paskorz, and Jake Ryan.

Rogers' best chance for contributing in 2010 is on special teams. He has the speed and athleticism to get downfield and wreak some havoc on kick coverage teams, but I still expect him to spend his practice hours in Mike Barwis' dungeon: bench press, front squat, chocolate milk, repeat.

2010 Countdown: #85 Antonio Kinard

Name: Antonio Kinard
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 210 lbs.
High school: Liberty High School in Youngstown, OH
Position: Weakside linebacker
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Prediction for 2010: Junior college

Okay, the reason Antonio looks so sad in the above picture must be that he's not coming to Michigan in the fall. The stupid thing about college is that you have to graduate high school first. Lame. Antonio, being from the Worst State Ever, has an Ohio Graduation Test to pass. This is the same test that prevented cornerback/safety Justin Turner from joining fall camp on time last year.

Kinard was likely looking at a redshirt this fall, anyway. He's too skinny and too raw to have played as a freshman, so it doesn't really hurt Michigan on the field in 2010. It does potentially hurt the Wolverines in 2011-14, though, because there's little to no depth at inside linebacker. Once senior Jonas Mouton graduates, that essentially leaves Mike Jones as the only weakside 'backer on the squad.

I am not optimistic that Kinard ends up at Michigan anytime in the future. If you look at the last few guys who have been non-qualifiers, all or most have taken their talents elsewhere. Demar Dorsey (Louisville), Adrian Witty (Cincinnati), Marcus Witherspoon (Rutgers before being booted), and Quintin Woods (nowhere, as far as I know) never stuck (EDIT: Quintin Woods currently plays for the Kansas Jayhawks). Marques Slocum attended prep school for a year, then came to Michigan only to get kicked off the team. He finished his playing career at Eastern Arizona and is currently fighting for a spot on the Washington Redskins after going undrafted in 2010.

So long, Antonio. We hardly knew ye.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

2010 Countdown: #86 Christian Pace

Name: Christian Pace
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 259 lbs.
High School: Avon Lake HS in Avon Lake, OH
Position: Center
Class: Freshman
Jersey: #64
Prediction for 2010: Redshirt

Pace enrolled early, so he's been at Michigan for a few months. But on Michigan's spring roster, Pace is listed at 259 lbs. He will surely add some weight between now and the season, but not enough to be a factor in the depth chart at center. David Molk should be back in playing shape after tearing his ACL last season, even if he won't be 100%. The backup from last season, David Moosman, has graduated and moved on. However, Michigan still has a couple options if Molk isn't ready. Redshirt sophomores Rocko Khoury, Elliott Mealer, and Ricky Barnum all have the ability to play center if Molk re-injures himself. I believe Pace will be a good center down the road, but it's rare for true freshmen to play on the offensive line.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Self-Indulgent Post of the Week: The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

If Harry Potter had "relations" with Hermione Granger, met up with a Bret Easton Ellis character, found a Portkey to the Wood Between the Worlds, and then faced off with a 'roid raging Lord Voldemort . . . that might begin to approximate the events in The Magicians.

A Brooklyn high school student named Quentin has an unhealthy level of interest in a magical place named Fillory, which is essentially C.S. Lewis's Narnia. With few friends and not much of a relationship with his family, Quentin finds a Hogwarts-like school named Brakebills. He finds that he fits in well with the school and some of the other students, and being infatuated with magic, Quentin devotes himself to the tedium of learning magic. Unlike J.K. Rowling's Potter, however, Quentin isn't exactly a leader or "The Chosen One." He's just a regular wizard with a shortage of self-esteem.

Amid love triangles, drug usage, and heavy alcohol consumption, a fellow student named Penny finds a magic button (sounds familiar?) that transports its possessor to the Neitherlands, an endless city of fountains that are gates to other worlds. Penny convinces Quentin and a few of their friends to visit the Neitherlands in the hopes of finding Fillory. Once Quentin finds the enchanted land that he thought was only the figment of an author's imagination, he's tasked with a mission to save Fillory's equivalents of Narnia's Aslan - two rams named Ember and Umber.

Holding degrees in comparative literature from both Harvard and Yale, Grossman doesn't attempt to hide the derivative nature of his novel. The appearances of some of his characters and, especially, locations are almost laughable at times. He might as well be Gregory Maguire elaborating on the story of Snow White. But I suppose Snow White having a sex drive and an addiction to painkillers might sully the children's story. The story was so dependent on the series by Lewis that I stopped mid-novel to familiarize myself with The Chronicles of Narnia, the reading of which had somehow alluded me as a child.

One issue I had with The Magicians was the inconsistent pacing. At 402 pages, there are bound to be a few slow spots. The vast majority of the novel takes place in Brooklyn and Brakebills, with only the last sliver depicting the more exciting Fillory. Only the occasional exciting event occurs at Brakebills, and while developments happen with sufficient frequency, there is a bit of a lull in the middle. Fortunately, the last section of the novel flies by at a breakneck pace, concluding with one of the most terrifying fantasy scenes I've read. Lord Voldemort could learn a thing or two from Grossman's villain.

Overall, The Magicians was a fantastic read. Not only did Grossman build an excellent amount of tension, but he also has an impressively deep vocabulary. I'm a fairly intelligent individual, but more than a handful of times, I found myself cracking open a dictionary to keep up with the language. The climax left me wanting more, which is the perfect time for an author to close up shop.

Monday, June 14, 2010

2011 Offer Board update

Lakeland wide receiver Javares McRoy

The 2011 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Ed Davis (ILB).

Added Javares McRoy, who committed to Florida (SR).

Added Nick Martin (OT).

Joel Hale (DT) committed to Ohio State.

Ben Kline (ILB) committed to Pitt.

Vincent Croce (DT) committed to Virginia.

Mike Bellamy (SB) committed to Clemson.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Scouting Report: Ed Davis, LB - Detroit, MI

Southeastern High School linebacker Ed Davis

Height: 6'4"
Weight: 215 lbs.
Class: 2011
Position: Linebacker
School: Southeastern High School in Detroit, MI
Vertical: 37.5"

Notes: Holds offers from Howard, Michigan, and Toledo . . . Attends Southeastern High School, alma mater of 2010 Michigan targets Johnathon Hankins (Ohio State) and William Gholston (Michigan State) . . . As a junior, had 103 tackles, 6 sacks, and 3 interceptions . . . Also scored 8 touchdowns on offense as a running back and wide receiver . . . 3-star prospect and #36 outside linebacker to . . . Wears #9 . . .

Strengths: Good size with plenty of room to add muscle mass . . . Plays downhill when opportunity arises . . . Careless with his body . . . High-effort player . . . Doesn't go down easily with the ball . . . Seems to enjoy chasing plays down from behind . . . Good speed . . . Looks more agile and athletic than the highly recruited Gholston on film . . . Attacks blockers with leverage rather than trying to dance around them

Weaknesses: Not a fluid athlete . . . Lacks some agility in open space . . . Production is a bit questionable, since stats were amassed with two high FBS teammates alongside him in the front seven

Projection: He looks like a good weakside linebacker prospect. He could also project to tight end or rush linebacker, but I'd start him off at WILL. The biggest thing he seems to be lacking is bulk, but he could probably play in his second year.

Reminds me of: former Michigan S/LB (and current Temple Owl) Brandon Smith.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

An Interview with . . . Me


Six Zero, a regular contributor from MGoBlog, profiled me in a recent blog entry over yonder.

If you're not interested in reading more about me, I don't blame you. You have better things to do with your life. Am I right? No? Then watch this:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I don't know what's going on . . .

Hey, this looks like fun!

For being June 9, the number of college football stories going on right now is ridiculous.

Between Demar Dorsey getting his scholarship release . . .

. . . and the sanctions of Michigan's football program . . .

. . . and all the conference expansion scenarios . . .

. . . my brain verges on explosion.

I just read a rumor that the Eastern State University Timberwolves, the Texas State Armadillos, and the Urbania Little Giants are joining the Big Ten in 2012.

Also crazy:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Written Scholarship Offers Must Be Written Later

Sorry, Greg Brown. Your offer disappeared.*

A new NCAA rule has been instituted that might affect the football recruiting world a great deal.

Then again, it might not.

A recent rule change has pushed back the date that NCAA institutions can send out scholarship offers. Through the class of 2011, the date has been September 1 of the player's junior year. That's why Fremont, OH, cornerback Greg Brown was able to "officially" commit on September 2, 2009. He received a written offer in the mail at the beginning of his junior year and committed on the spot, even though he wouldn't be able to sign his binding Letter of Intent until February 2011, midway through his senior year.

The new rule won't take effect until the Class of 2012. That means that kids who graduate from high school in 2012 won't receive written scholarship offers until at least August 1, 2011. So while Michigan fans might have been expecting Cass Tech linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone and Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker James Ross to receive written offers on September 1, 2010, they'll have to wait almost another full year.

The intent of the rule change is to cut down on the time that recruits suffer through the recruiting process. It can be grueling, and kids have been known to commit earlier than they want, if only to slow down the number of calls, e-mails, and letters they receive. Rather than being pestered for 16+ months, the NCAA hopes that the grueling part of the process will be pared down to a maximum of six months or so. The NCAA is also attempting to prevent decommits, which often leave a football program (think Michigan circa February 2009) hanging out to dry.

However, the effect of the rule change will likely be minimal. Kids will still offer verbal commitments early. It's a status symbol to say as a sophomore or junior, "Yeah, I'm going to play college ball at ___________." The difference is that their verbal commitments will only be in response to verbal offers, which don't always progress to the written kind. So once August or September of 2011 arrives, we might see some players making a mad scramble due to offers that never materialized. That probably won't affect many kids, but there will surely be a few.

The new legislation won't make a huge difference, but it's a step in the right direction for kids who don't want to deal with 16 months of bedlam.

*Greg Brown's offer didn't really disappear. The new rule won't take effect until next year.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

If I had My Druthers . . . Running Backs

I'm not sure what this guy's name is . . .
Okay, here's the list of running backs Michigan has offered. Players who have committed elsewhere are barred from my prestigious list. It's a dog eat dog world out there, my friends, and you're wearing Milkbone underwear.

1. Mike Bellamy
Only 5'9" but has good speed and is extremely slippery. He shrugs off arm tackles.

2. Demetrius Hart
He might be pictured above. He's fast, tiny, and will run you over if you're not ready.

3. Mike Blakely
Great speed and quickness, but doesn't break as many tackles as Bellamy.

4. Savon Huggins
Slightly above average speed, but runs hard and has tremendous balance.

5. Justice Hayes
Good speed and decent power. Good pass receiver, too. Runs a little high.

6. Bill Belton
Tiny, quick-twitch high school quarterback. Extremely elusive, but I'd like someone with a little more power.

7. Malcolm Crockett
Runs hard and makes cuts at full speed.

8. Remound Wright
Only average speed, but runs with purpose. Most impressive: the kid sprints through the goal line, even when nobody's close to him. I'd love to have him on my team. His video got me pumped.

9. DaVondrick Nealy
Very good speed and moves, but dances a little too much for my liking.

10. Quan Bray
Good speed, but very thin. Doesn't run as hard as I'd like to see him run.

11. Jarrell Oliver
Just doesn't have the explosion I'd like to see in a running back. Not the gamebreaker Michigan needs.

12. Demetrius Williams
Good initial burst, but not a natural breakaway runner. Seems to be running in quicksand when he gets into the open field.

13. Melvin Gordon
Decent size. Good speed. Could also play safety.

2011 Offer Board update

Outside linebacker prospect Ryan Shazier
The 2011 Offer Board has been updated:

Braxton Miller (QB) committed to Ohio State.

Added Ray Drew (DE).

Added Remound Wright (SB).

Kiehl Frazier (QB) committed to Auburn.

Chris Rock (DE) committed to Michigan.

Added Taques Franklin (DE).

Added Ryan Shazier (OLB).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

ESPN 150 released

Georgia defensive end Ray Drew

ESPN's recruiting department put out its top 150 list on Wednesday. Unlike its "watch list," there are only 150 players here, not 3,574. The following players have Michigan offers:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE - South Carolina
3. Ray Drew, DE - Georgia
4. Christian Westerman, OT - Texas (Texas)
6. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT - Maryland
8. James Wilder, RB - Florida
11. Quan Bray, RB - Georgia
12. Charone Peake, WR - South Carolina
13. George Farmer, WR - California
16. Braxton Miller, QB - Ohio
18. Steve Miller, DE - Ohio (Ohio State)
20. Jay Rome, TE - Georgia
21. Karlos Williams, S - Florida (Florida State)
24. Matt Hegarty, OL - New Mexico (Notre Dame)
25. Desmond Jackson, DT - Texas (Texas)
26. Hasean Clinton-Dix, S - Florida (Alabama)
28. Christian LeMay, QB - North Carolina (Georgia)
31. Savon Huggins, RB - New Jersey
32. Tim Jernigan, DT - Florida
33. Cyrus Hobbi, OG - Arizona
35. Trey DePriest, LB - Ohio
36. Bobby Hart, OL - Florida
39. Kiehl Frazier, QB - Arkansas (Auburn)
41. Ja'juan Story, WR - Florida
44. Curtis Grant, LB - Virginia
53. DeAnthony Arnett, WR - Michigan
54. Sammy Watkins, WR - Florida
61. Brett Hundley, QB - Arizona
63. Avery Walls, CB - Georgia
64. Nick Waisome, CB - Florida
67. Doran Grant, CB - Ohio
68. Jarvis Landry, WR - Louisiana
69. Wayne Lyons, S - Florida
71. Ryan Shazier, LB - Texas
75. Giorgio Newberry, OT - Florida
81. Anthony Chickillo, DE - Florida
83. Mike Bellamy, RB - Florida
87. Josh Turner, CB - Oklahoma
89. Nathan Hughes, DE - Texas (Texas)
90. DaVaris Daniels, WR - Illinois
91. Demetrious Nicholson, CB - Virginia
93. Brandon Fulse, TE - Florida
97. Darius Jennings, RB - Maryland
101. Andre Yruretagoyena, OT - Arizona
111. Brandon Phelps, CB - Maryland
116. Mike Blakeley, RB - Florida
117. Mickey Johnson, DT - Louisiana
120. Sheroid Evans, S - Texas (Texas)
126. Michael Bennett, DT - Ohio (Ohio State)
131. Bill Belton, RB - New Jersey
135. Lawrence Thomas, LB - Michigan (Michigan State)
136. Everett Golson, QB - South Carolina (North Carolina)
139. Jerrard Randall, QB - Florida
140. Garrett Greenlea, OT - Texas (Texas)
142. Dallas Crawford, CB - Florida
143. Kiaro Holts, OL - Indiana
149. Charles Jackson, CB - Texas

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rivals250 released

Virginia cornerback Demetrious Nicholson has dreads.

Following yesterday's release of the Rivals100, the website released its rankings for the top 250 players in the country on Wednesday afternoon. The following is a list of players Michigan has offered from 101 to 250:

101. Demetrious Nicholson, CB - Virginia
111. Dondi Kirby, CB - Pennsylvania
112. Quan Bray, RB - Georgia
115. Zach Debell, OT - Florida
117. Aundrey Walker, OT - Ohio
120. Nick Waisome, CB - Florida
133. Garrett Greenlea, OT - Texas (Texas)
135. Sheroid Evans, S - Texas (Texas)
136. Brian Miller, TE - Massachusetts (Boston College)
137. Chevelle Buie, RB - Florida
139. Mickey Johnson, DT - Louisiana
141. Deion Barnes, DE - Pennsylvania
147. Charles Jackson, CB - Texas
149. Travis Hughes, LB - Virginia
151. DaVaris Daniels, WR - Illinois
152. Avery Walls, CB - Georgia
156. Brandon Fulse, TE - Florida
157. Jordan Walsh, OT - Illinois
159. Kyshoen Jarrett, CB - Pennsylvania
165. Ryan Shazier, LB - Texas
172. Jalen Grimble, DE - Nevada (USC)
173. Darius Jennings, RB - Maryland
174. Nick Vannett, TE - Ohio
180. Brandon Phelps, CB - Maryland
185. Miles Shuler, WR - New Jersey
187. Brennen Beyer, DE - Michigan (Michigan)
195. Anthony Chickillo, DE - Florida
199. Kiaro Holts, OL - Indiana
200. Bryant Dubose, DE - Florida
205. Austin Traylor, DE - Ohio
206. Remound Wright, RB - Indiana
216. Brett Hundley, QB - Arizona
217. Melvin Gordon, RB - Wisconsin
218. Kevin McReynolds, DT - Washington, DC
226. Nathan Hughes, DE - Texas (Texas)
229. Terrell Chestnut, CB - Pennsylvania
236. Delonte Hollowell, CB - Michigan (Michigan)
240. Bill Belton, RB - New Jersey
242. Steve Miller, DE - Ohio (Ohio State)
247. Trai Turner, OL - Louisiana
250. Corey Marshall, DE - Virginia

By my count, 41 players from numbers 101-250 have been offered by the Wolverines. In addition to the 43 from the Rivals100 (I omitted Ray Drew from yesterday's list), that gives Michigan two commitments (Delonte Hollowell, Brennen Beyer) and 84 overall targets out of the top 250 players in the country, according to Rivals.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rivals100 released

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney
Rivals released its initial top 100 rankings today at 1:00 p.m. A cadre of Michigan targets litter the Rivals100, making it a very interesting list. To the best of my knowledge, these are the 42 players who have been offered by Michigan:

1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE - South Carolina
3. James Wilder, Jr., RB - Florida
4. George Farmer, WR - California
7. Cyrus Kouandjio, OT - Maryland
8. Curtis Grant, ILB - Virginia
11. Lawrence Thomas, DE - Michigan (Michigan State)
12. Christian Westerman, OT - Texas (Texas)
13. Mike Bellamy, RB - Florida
18. Jarvis Landry, WR - Louisiana (LSU)
19. Gregory Robinson, OT - Louisiana
22. Mike Blakeley, RB - Florida
23. Doran Grant, CB - Ohio
27. Kris Frost, LB - North Carolina
28. Hasean Clinton-Dix, S - Florida (Alabama)
30. Michael Bennett, DT - Ohio (Ohio State)
32. Matt Hegarty, OG - New Mexico (Notre Dame)
34. Demetrius Hart, RB - Florida
37. Karlos Williams, S - Florida (Florida State)
39. Sammy Watkins, WR - Florida
40. Jay Rome, TE - Georgia
45. Tim Jernigan, DT - Florida
49. DeAnthony Arnett, WR - Michigan
55. Josh Turner, CB - Oklahoma
56. Braxton Miller, QB - Ohio
57. Savon Huggins, RB - New Jersey
58. Anthony Zettel, OG - Michigan
62. Kiehl Frazier, QB - Arkansas (Auburn)
65. Christian LeMay, QB - North Carolina (Georgia)
66. Desmond Jackson, DT - Texas (Texas)
70. Bobby Hart, OG - Florida
72. Cyrus Hobbi, OG - Arizona
73. Tyler Moore, OG - Florida (Nebraska)
74. Brandon Shell, OT - South Carolina
75. Justice Hayes, RB - Michigan
81. Andre Yruretagoyena, OT - Arizona
85. Wayne Lyons, S - Florida
87. Marqise Lee, S - California
88. Andrew Buie, RB - Florida
91. Charone Peake, WR - South Carolina
93. Trey DePriest, LB - Ohio
95. Lamar Dawson, LB - Kentucky
97. Giorgio Newberry, OT - Florida

Michigan has a fighting chance with many of these players, but running back Demetrius Hart and offensive guard/defensive end Anthony Zettel are the only two that seem to have Michigan as their clear front-runner. If Michigan starts winning more, maybe their chances with more of these players will increase. Regardless, it's somewhat nice to see that Michigan's early offers align themselves with analysts' ratings, too.