Saturday, February 26, 2011

2012 Offer Board Update

California wide receiver/linebacker Jabari Ruffin

The 2012 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Wisconsin RB Vonte Jackson.

Added Colorado TE Evan Baylis.

Added Texas WR Kendall Sanders, who is committed to Oklahoma State.

Added New York DT Jarron Jones.

Added North Carolina OT Brock Stadnik.

Added Maryland DE Brent Wilkerson.

Added Colorado OT Shane Callahan.

Added Ohio OG Kyle Kalis, who is committed to Ohio State.

Added New Jersey QB Devin Fuller.

Added Georgia DE Dalvin Tomlinson.

Added South Carolina DE Martin Aiken.

Added Pennsylvania RB Greg Garmon.

Added California LB Jabari Ruffin.

Added Ohio OG Tyler Orlosky.

Added Joshua Garnett (OG).

Added Jake Rodrigues (QB).

Added JaQuay Williams (WR).

Added Mario Edwards (DE).

Added Jeremiah Tshimanga (OLB).

Added Yuri Wright (FS).

Added Aziz Shittu (NT).

Added Arik Armstead (DT), who is committed to USC.

Added A.J. Williams (TE).

Added Donovan Roberts (RB).

Added Ondre Pipkins (DT).

Added Ronald Darby (RB).

Added Paul Thurston (OT).

Added Kyle Dodson (OT).

Added Matt Godin (DE).

Added Camren Williams (OLB).

Added Peter Jinkens (OLB).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Suspected Position Changes Confirmed

Tight end-turned defensive end-turned tight end Steve Watson

A couple position changes have been confirmed by a paywalled article on Rivals:

1. William Campbell has moved back to defense.  Rich Rodriguez toyed with him on offense, which seemed silly in light of the considerable depth at the offensive guard position.  But unlike Rodriguez and his clunky defensive staff, Campbell will actually be playing the 3-tech defensive tackle position.  I can't imagine the conversations in the former defensive staff's meeting rooms.  "Well, we've got this 6'5" behemoth with loads of talent, but his one problem is that he can't stay low and get leverage.  We just can't figure out what to do with him.  What to do, what to do.  Oh.  My.  God.  I have an awesome idea!  Let's put him at nose tackle, the defensive line position where leverage is most important.  Surely our 6'2" center won't make him look like a fool on a daily basis!"  Perhaps that's reason #238 why Rich Rodriguez forcing a 3-3-5 on a bewildered defensive coordinator was a bad idea.

2. Steve Watson has once again become a tight end.  This is a good move for Watson and for the team.  He was buried on the depth chart as an outside linebacker and defensive end the past couple seasons, notching a total of 6 tackles in that span.  He'll probably still be sitting behind starter Kevin Koger and redshirt junior Brandon Moore, but this will allow Michigan to run some sets with three tight ends in short yardage and near the goalline.  The Wolverines pulled in a talented tight end, Chris Barnett, in the 2011 class.  However, Barnett is coming off a serious knee injury, needs to work on his body, and won't arrive on campus until this summer.  This move may allow the freshman to redshirt.

Attractive Michigan Girls of the Week: In Rod We Trust girls

If you have any pictures that you think should be featured, feel free to e-mail them to me at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review: If These Walls Could Talk by Jon Falk

Peg Canham (former A.D. Don Canham's widow) and Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk

Given to me as a Christmas gift, I recently finished the book written by Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk and author Dan Ewald.  Called If These Walls Could Talk, it covers the last four decades of Michigan football from Falk's perspective.

The narrative moves chronologically from the beginning of Falk's career at Miami (OH); to following Bo Schembechler north to Ann Arbor; to Schembechler's successors Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, and Rich Rodriguez.  Along the way, Falk shares many light-hearted stories about the four coaches and various players along the way.  But make no mistake - this book is an ode to Coach Schembechler.

I asked for the book because I thought Falk might share some inside stories about the Michigan football program, and there were numerous anecdotes about Bo, the Ohio State rivalry, and star players from Michigan football history.  But rather than making the book about Michigan football, it seemed to dwell on Falk himself.  And while I'm sure Falk is a nice enough guy, there seemed to be a lot of filler and fluff.  Ewald inserted countless tributes from former players and co-workers riffing on what a great guy Jon Falk is, how he develops an almost coach-level rapport with the players, and how former players and coaches always make a point to stop by and say hello to Falk when they're back in town.

This is not to say that the book is a pointless read.  There are occasional interesting tidbits.  But if you're looking for dirt on anyone, you won't find it.  In fact, the downest and dirtiest Falk gets is when he chastises Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn for badmouthing Michigan . . . and then praises Glenn for stepping up like a man and taking the admonishment in stride.

As one might expect in a book about an equipment manager, this book is intended for only the most hardcore fans, and since I write a Michigan football blog, I guess I count.  The biggest factor that kept me turning pages was the chronological order, which made me think there would be some juicy or interesting stories about the Carr or Rodriguez regime coming at the end of the book (there weren't).  But the fawning stories about Bo Schembechler and rivalry games made it a worthwhile read for me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Maize 'n' Brew: 2011 Recruiting Grades - Offense

Sofia Vergara will read it.  Maybe.

I put up a post this morning over at Maize 'n' Brew that hands out grades for the 2011 recruiting class.  Head on over there to check it out if you're interested.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2012 Offer Board Update

Miami cornerback/safety Deon Bush

The 2012 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Jordan Jenkins (DE).

Added Jody Fuller (WR).

Added Avery Young (OT).

Added John Theus (OT).

Added Bri'onte Dunn (RB) who is committed to Ohio State.

Added Mark Harrell (OT).

Added Armani Reeves (CB).

Added Kaleb Ringer (MLB).

Added Leonte Carroo (WR).

Added Jordan Simmons (OG).

Added Jordan Payton (WR).

Added Stefon Diggs (WR).

Added Adolphus Washington (DE).

Added Jarrod Wilson (FS).

Added Deon Bush (CB).

Added Taylor Decker (OT).

Added Kyle Murphy (OT).

Added Keith Marshall (RB).

Added Malik Gilmore (WR).

Matt Jones (RB) committed to Florida.

Added Se'von Pittman (DE).

Added Andrus Peat (OT).

Added Taylor McNamara (TE).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review of 2010 Season Predictions

Denard Robinson was the star of the show in 2010

One of the reasons I started this blog a couple years ago was to record my thoughts and predictions in order to go back, see what I said, and see if I was right.  With the 2010 season completed, I thought I would go back and check out what I said prior to the year beginning.

First of all, here were my 2010 Season Predictions.

And here's a rundown of how accurate those were:

Prediction: I said Denard Robinson would start the opener but that Tate Forcier would have an opportunity to take most of the snaps by the end of the season.
Actual: Denard Robinson started the entire season.
Accuracy: 50%

Prediction: Denard Robinson with approximately 800 yards.
Actual: Well, I was right on the player, but wrong on the yardage.  Way wrong.  Robinson ended up wtih 1,702 yards on the ground.
Accuracy: 100%
Prediction: Roy Roundtree with 60 catches for 900 yards
Actual: Roundtree had 72 catches for 935 yards.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Jonas Mouton
Actual: Mouton led the team with 117 tackles, beating out safety Jordan Kovacs by a slim margin.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Ryan Van Bergen with 7.5 sacks
Actual: Van Bergen led the team in sacks, but it was a down year in that category - he ended up with only 4.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: J.T. Floyd
Actual: Cornerback James Rogers and safety/linebacker Cam Gordon each had 3.  Floyd only had 1, but he missed half the season with a broken ankle.
Accuracy: Incomplete due to Floyd's injury

Prediction: Center David Molk and kick returner Darryl Stonum
Actual: Molk was the right choice.  However, the coaches decided to save Stonum for his offensive duties, giving the job to a couple mediocre returners instead.  With a surprisingly good season, Denard Robinson was also named to the first team by the media.
Accuracy: 33%

Prediction: Roy Roundtree
Actual: Running back Michael Shaw scored 9 touchdowns to lead this category.  Roundtree and running back Vincent Smith were second with 7 touchdowns each.
Accuracy: 0%

Prediction: Denard Robinson
Actual: Robinson was definitely the breakout player of the year on offense.  He was in the discussion for the Heisman, was the Big Ten Player of the Year, and generally wowed Michigan fans and college football fans in general.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Ryan Van Bergen
Actual: Well, nobody really expected much from the defense, and that's what they got - not much.  Van Bergen had a decent season with 37 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks.  But I think the real breakout star was middle linebacker Kenny Demens, who surpassed incumbent Obi Ezeh and finished third on the team with 82 tackles.
Accuracy: 0%

Prediction: Vincent Smith
Actual: I don't think it's a stretch to say that Smith was somewhat less effective than is expected from a starting tailback at Michigan.  He finished the year averaging 4.4 yards per carry and - other than a long run against Indiana - was generally ineffective as a complementary runner to quarterback Denard Robinson.  Roundtree might be an option here because of his play in the final few games of the season, but Smith was ineffective for the majority of the season.
Accuracy: 100%

Prediction: Cameron Gordon
Actual: While Gordon was a disappointment after all the hype he received in the spring and summer, he wasn't a complete failure.  He actually made some plays from the free safety position (3 interceptions), but he didn't have the speed or awareness to stay there and moved to outside linebacker.  But the bigger disappointment was Obi Ezeh, the fifth-year senior middle linebacker who lost his job mid-season to redshirt sophomore Kenny Demens.  Ezeh ended the year with 58 tackles, which is exactly 24 fewer than Demens . . . and 8 fewer than J.T. Floyd, the cornerback who missed half the season with a broken ankle.
Accuracy: 0%

Win against UConn
Loss to Notre Dame
Win against UMass
Win against Bowling Green
Loss to Indiana
Loss to Michigan State
Win against Iowa
Win against Penn State
Win against Illinois
Win against Purdue
Loss to Wisconsin
Loss to Ohio State


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Al Borges interviews

I meant to post these awhile ago, but I never got around to it.  Here's an interview of newly hired offensive coordinator Al Borges:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Jonas Mouton, #8

Jonas Mouton (#8) makes a tackle at Iowa

2010 Countdown: #10 Jonas Mouton

Linebacker Jonas Mouton played his final game for Michigan on January 1 against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Coming out of high school in Venice, CA, Mouton was a very highly touted player.  He was a 5-star recruit and the #6 safety in the country, according to Scout.  Rivals ranked him a 4-star player and the #3 safety.  At 6'2" and already a solid 210 lbs. or so coming out of high school, it should have been clear that he would bulk up and become a linebacker.  I'm not sure why Scout and Rivals didn't catch on to that.

Mouton arrived at Michigan and almost immediately became a linebacker.  He redshirted as a freshman in 2006 to learn the position and add some weight.  After the redshirt year, he backed up Chris Graham at weakside linebacker in Ron English's 4-3 system.  That year (2007) he made 5 tackles at linebacker and on kick coverage.  Once Graham graduated following the 2007 season, Mouton backed up Marell Evans for one game and then earned the starting WILL job in the second game against Utah.  He finished the season with 76 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.  As the incumbent in 2009, Mouton had a subpar year.  The defense was abysmal, and the inside linebackers - Mouton and Obi Ezeh - constantly looked lost.  Mouton ended the season with 66 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 4 pass breakups.  As a fifth year senior in 2010, Mouton led the Big Ten in tackles with 117.  He also had 8.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.

264 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 4 interceptions, 7 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 3 fumble recoveries

2nd team All-Big Ten in 2010 . . . Roger Zatkoff Award (U of M's best linebacker) in 2010

Mouton's 4-star ranking on Rivals was a bit more accurate than Scout's.  He turned into a solid starter and even earned All-Big Ten 2nd team honors as a fifth year senior.  However, I'm not exactly sure how a player leads the league in tackles, tosses in a couple sacks and interceptions, and doesn't get 1st team all-conference status.  If Michigan's defense wasn't the worst in the school's history, I have to believe that Mouton would have been 1st team.  In fact, if he played for Ohio State and put up those numbers, he might have been up for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.  So the lack of respect might have to do with Michigan's overall defensive performance.  It also might have been based on Mouton's underperformance.  With all the speed and agility Mouton has, he didn't make many spectacular plays.  Aside from the interception against Notre Dame and his pass rush on the final play against Illinois, he looked like just a guy.

Mouton ought to play in the NFL.  He has prototypical size (6'2", 240 lbs.) and decent speed in order to play several positions.  He could be an OLB or ILB in a 3-4, or he could be a weakside linebacker in a 4-3.  The coaching at his linebacker position was subpar throughout most of his career, but Mouton still made mistakes as a senior that he shouldn't have been making by that point.  Still, I expect him to be a late round draft pick for a team that thinks they can coach him up.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Maize 'n' Brew: 2012 Recruiting Needs - Defense

This guy will be gone after 2011.  Ruh-roh.

Over at Maize 'n' Brew, I put up a post about how Michigan should use its scholarships in 2012.

Check it out, yo.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

2012 Offer Board Update

Cass Tech cornerback Terry Richardson

The 2012 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Maty Mauk (QB).

Added Derrick Woods (WR).

Added Ron Thompson (TE).

Added Dan Voltz (OT).

Added Terry Richardson (CB).

Added Royce Jenkins-Stone (ILB).

Added Vince Biegel (OLB).

Added Aaron Burbridge (WR).

Added Devin Funchess (TE).

Added Mario Ojemudia (DE).

Added Tom Strobel (DE).

Added Zach Banner (OT).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Statistical Analysis of 2011 Recruiting: By State

Last year I became curious about how successful Michigan was at recruiting each state.  That curiosity has spilled over to the 2011 class, and the chart above shows the percentages of successfully recruited players from each state.  This is all based upon offers recorded on the 2011 Offer Board located at the top of the page.  I can't promise that it's 100% accurate, because sometimes reporting of offers is a little bit iffy.  But it's the best I could do.

It should also be pointed out that Brady Hoke's late hiring as Michigan's coach somewhat skews the numbers.  Players who decommitted (Jake Fisher from Michigan; Matt Goudis from California; Kevin Sousa and Dallas Crawford from Florida) would have changed the numbers slightly.

As might be expected, Michigan was the most successfully recruited state.  Nearly 50% of in-state offers were accepted; the decommitment of Fisher was the only thing standing in the way.

Texas was a bit of a surprise.  Michigan pulled in three commitments from Texas - a heavily talented state - while only giving out eleven offers.  But it's a bit curious that Michigan's coaches didn't pursue more players in the state.  Running backs coach Fred Jackson has some contacts in Texas, and even though several Rich Rodriguez assistants had connections in Florida (where Michigan tossed out 43 offers), the success rate in Florida over the past couple years has been abysmal.  Michigan went 3-for-46 (7%) in Florida last year, and that number looks like an unbridled success when compared to the 1-for-43 showing this year (2%).

After crunching the numbers for two consecutive seasons, it seems that Michigan's coaches probably wasted quite a bit of time recruiting the Sunshine State.  Maybe it was a risk-reward thing with Rodriguez (after all, Denard Robinson is from Florida), but a batting average of .020 is horrible, no matter how you slice it.  When you hand out 190 offers, you probably spend quite a bit of time talking to kids or the coaches of kids who have very little chance of attending your university.  Perhaps Rich Rodriguez and Co. would have benefitted from making more intimate connections with fewer kids rather than, as one commenter said, "carpet bombing" the country with offers.

Ohio was once again recruited with some success (37% in 2010; 24% in 2011), and Hoke will surely continue to work hard in the state.  Even though Rodriguez got a large number of 2010 recruits from Ohio, he didn't seem to hit the state very hard in his last season.  The percentage of accepted offers jumped significantly once Hoke was hired.  He reeled in four recruits in approximately three weeks on the job, including the likes of Tamani Carter, Antonio Poole, Keith Heitzman, and Frank Clark.  Prior to his arrival, Rodriguez had accepted only three commitments from Ohioans - Greg Brown, Jack Miller, and Chris Rock.

Altogether, Michigan offered players from 27 different states.  The Wolverines struck out in twenty of them, including:

Pennsylvania: 12
Louisiana, New Jersey: 8
Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina: 6
North Carolina, Virginia: 5
District of Columbia: 2
Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wisconsin: 1

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Rivals 250 to Watch" Released for 2012

Barry Sanders, Jr. probably won't come to Michigan,
but his dad is a former Lion and one of my two favorite
football players of all time, so deal with it.

The "Rivals 250 to Watch" list has been released.  This is a preseason list of some of the top players in the country.  Although star ratings haven't been meted out yet, there's a pretty good chance that the majority of these players will end up as 5-stars or 4-stars by the time the 2012 recruiting cycle winds down.

By my count there are 25 kids who have been offered by U of M, as well as 13 kids who attend an alma mater of current Michigan players.  It remains to be seen whether Brady Hoke will be as committed to creating pipelines from certain high schools to Michigan as Rich Rodriguez seems to be, but it's something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Players of interest to Michigan fans:

QB Connor Brewer (Scottsdale, AZ) - Attends same high school as Michigan defensive end Craig Roh and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan.  Committed to Texas.
QB Bennie Coney (Plant City, FL) - Offered.
QB Gunner Kiel (Columbus, IN) - Offered.
QB Cyler Miles (Denver, CO) - Attends same high school as Michigan defensive end Steve Watson.
QB Zeke Pike (Edgewood, KY) - Offered.
RB Warren Ball (Columbus, OH) - Attends same high school as Michigan offensive guard Patrick Omameh and 2011 signee Chris Rock.
RB Wes Brown (Olney, MD) - Attends same high school as 2011 signee Blake Countess.
RB Matt Jones (Seffner, FL) - Offered.
RB Barry Sanders, Jr. (Oklahoma City, OK) - Son of former Lions running back Barry Sanders.
WR Stefon Diggs (Olney, MD) - Offered.  Attends same high school of 2011 signee Blake Countess.
WR Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, MO) - Offered.
WR Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, FL) - Offered.  Committed to LSU.
WR Gabriel Marks (Los Angeles, CA) - Attends same high school as Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton.
WR Davonte Neal (Scottsdale, AZ) - Attends same high school as Michigan defensive end Craig Roh and offensive tackle Taylor Lewan.
WR Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) - Offered.  Committed to Florida.
WR Efe Scott-Emuakpor (East Lansing, MI) - In-state prospect.  Notre Dame lean.
WR Richard Smith (Long Beach, CA) - Attends same high school as former Michigan cornerback Donovan Warren.
WR Dwayne Stanford (Cincinnati, OH) - Offered.
OL Zach Banner (Lakewood, WA) - Offered.
OL Ty Darlington (Apopka, FL) - Attends same high school as Michigan receiver Jeremy Gallon.
OL Jordan Diamond (Chicago, IL) - Offered.  Attends same high school as 2011 signee Chris Bryant.
OL D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, NC) - Offered.
OL Kelby Latta (Battle Creek, MI) - In-state prospect.
OL Mike Madaras (Olney, MD) - Attends same high school as 2011 signee Blake Countess.
OL John Michael McGee (Texarkana, TX) - Attends same high school as former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett.
OL Dan Voltz (Barrington, IL) - Offered.
DE Devonte Fields (Arlington, TX) - Attends same high school as 2011 signee Russell Bellomy.
DE Tom Strobel (Mentor, OH) - Offered.
DE Ryan Watson (Olney, MD) - Attends same high school as 2011 signee Blake Countess.
DE Chris Wormley (Toledo, OH) - Offered.  Michigan lean.
DT Eddie Goldman (Washington, DC) - Offered.
DT Danny O'Brien (Flint, MI) - Offered.  In-state prospect.
DT Tommy Schutt (Glen Ellyn, IL) - Offered.
DT Vincent Valentine (Edwardsville, IL) - Offered.
LB Vince Biegel (Wisconsin Rapids, WI) - Offered.
LB Royce Jenkins-Stone (Detroit, MI) - Offered.  In-state prospect.
LB Deaysean Rippy (McKees Rocks, PA) - Offered.
LB James Ross (Orchard Lake, MI) - Offered.  In-state prospect.
DB Bam Bradley (Trotwood, OH) - Attends same high school as Michigan running back Michael Shaw, wide receiver Roy Roundtree, and tight end Brandon Moore.
DB Terry Richardson (Detroit, MI) - Offered.  In-state prospect.
ATH Deontay McManus (Baltimore, MD) - Offered.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What Could Have Been . . . Tate Forcier

Former Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier

Tate Forcier has decided to become a Miami Hurricane.  On top of pulling in former Michigan commits Dallas Crawford, Matt Goudis, and Antonio Kinard, coach Al Golden now has a former starting QB.

The ACC seems like a better fit for Forcier.

For more updates on former players and former commits, check out the Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia.

Mailbag: Where will Woolfolk play?

The demise of Troy Woolfolk's ankle crippled Michigan's defense in 2010.

Since we won’t have a chance to discuss this ad nauseum for the next eight months (sarcasm), I was wondering where you come down on Troy Woolfolk. Assuming he’s back in more or less the same shape, do you see him as a FS or CB? Last year he was playing CB seemingly out of depth concerns, but next year they’ll at the very least have a lot of bodies to throw out there, and FS would seem to be a role where his experience/leadership might be better leveraged. On the same front, do you think Marvin has the speed to play back there? We know he has the abs.
The deployment of Woolfolk has long been a hot topic with me because I don't think a lot of people respect the role and importance of a free safety.  With a lot of coaches I know, they take their best overall athlete and put him at free safety.  That's one reason why you see a lot of college cornerbacks who played free safety in high school, because they can make more plays from the middle of the field.  Who is Michigan's best overall athlete (speed, size, coverage, tackling ability, and awareness) in the secondary?  I would say it's Woolfolk.  He's 6' tall and 195 lbs. with high level Big Ten track speed (6.86 seconds in the 60 meters); a solid tackler; and the most experienced defensive back on the team. 

When Woolfolk moved from cornerback to free safety in the spring of 2009, his teammates nicknamed him "The Eraser" for how he cleaned up his defensive teammates' mistakes.  When that season began, he and cornerback J.T. Floyd were burned for a long touchdown pass in the opener against Western Michigan.  After that Woolfolk was solid at free safety.  (Ed: And don't even bother bringing up the missed tackle late in the 2009 Michigan State game.  Woolfolk suffered a sprained shoulder earlier in the game but stayed out there, only to have his bum shoulder fail him when trying to tackle Edwin Baker Larry Caper at a crucial point in the game.)  As the season wore on and the defense struggled, Michigan's coaches moved him back to cornerback during Iowa week and kept him there for the remainder of the season.  While playing free safety, Michigan gave up 23 points per game.  Once he moved to cornerback, Michigan gave up 37 per game (minus the Delaware State drubbing).  Woolfolk was still playing cornerback during August practices in 2010 when he dislocated his ankle, despite the fact that Michigan had virtually no experience, athleticism, or depth - and not much talent - to play the free safety position behind him.

Michigan's free safety depth chart at the beginning of 2010 looked like this:
1. Cameron Gordon (RS freshman), a 6'3", 207 lb. converted wide receiver who many projected to be a linebacker in college
2. Jared Van Slyke (RS junior), a 6'2", 196 lb. walk-on who transferred from Southeast Missouri State
3. Ray Vinopal (freshman), a 5'10", 197 lb. borderline 3-star recruit straight out of high school
4. Vladimir Emilien (sophomore), a 6'1", 204 lb. high school star who was hampered by knee problems since prior to his senior year of high school
5. Brandin Hawthorne (sophomore), a 6', 205 lb. special teamer who most projected as a linebacker

We all know how that turned out - Gordon got burned repeatedly and became an outside linebacker, Van Slyke missed the season due to injury, Vinopal was elevated to starter, Emilien transferred, and Hawthorne contributed on special teams and at linebacker.

I can understand why some might feel that Woolfolk was needed at cornerback in 2010, because the cornerback depth chart was arguably worse than at free safety.  But Michigan suffered from horrible defensive back play all season long (outside of Jordan Kovacs), and the poor free safety play hurt Michigan more than the play of its cornerbacks.  Vinopal was an upgrade from Gordon at the deep safety position, but I'm not convinced that he's the immediate or long-term answer.

As for what I would do with Woolfolk, I would put him back at . . . cornerback.  Yep, I said it.  I know this is a reversal of my previous stance, but it comes from a change in defensive philosophy.  Former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson ran a lot of Cover 3 out of the 3-3-5 defensive set, which meant that his cornerbacks didn't need to be in man coverage often.  That's why it would have been nice for Woolfolk to play centerfield, because he could have backed up his cornerbacks and made some plays on throws over the middle.

But go back and watch some film from the second half of the 2009 season.  Woolfolk was largely untested in those games, and opponents picked on then-junior cornerback Donovan Warren.  Woolfolk's speed and hip swivel allowed him to stick closely to wide receivers in a defense that was geared more toward man coverage than the 2010 philosophy.  New defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is going to run more man coverage than we saw in 2010, which means cornerback play will be emphasized.  The Wolverines have stocked cornerbacks in the past couple classes (Cullen Christian, Courtney Avery, and Terrence Talbott; plus the load of incoming 2011 freshmen), but none are ready at this point.  Avery looks to be the best of the returning sophomores, and a redshirt junior J.T. Floyd should return in the fall from his own ankle injury.  Woolfolk could team with Floyd (whose talent leaves something to be desired but now has the experience of being the #1 guy) or Avery (who has good coverage skills but needs to get in the weight room) for a solid cornerback combination.

Who's going to play free safety?  My guess would be either sophomore Marvin Robinson or the incumbent in Vinopal.  Vinopal won't wow anybody with his speed or physicality, but he's essentially a second helping of Jordan Kovacs.  I don't think Vinopal can be your free safety if you want to have an elite defense, but he's not a disaster, either.  Robinson is the wild card.  Last summer he was reportedly wowing fellow players with his exploits as a free safety in voluntary 7-on-7s.  When the season rolled around, he was backing up Jordan Kovacs, playing defense sparingly, and covering kicks.  There were questions about his speed coming out of high school, but as I watched him chase down some plays on special teams this year, I don't have serious questions about his speed.  Neither Vinopal or Robinson is Ed Reed, but Robinson's closer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Maize 'n' Brew: 2012 Recruiting Needs - Offense

Coach Brady Hoke

I put up a post on Sunday over at Maize 'n' Brew discussing Michigan's recruiting needs for the Class of 2012.  Take a look if you're interested.

Former Michigan Athlete of the Year: Tom Brady

Tom Brady had a great season in 2010

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a superb season in 2010, and I think he's reached a point where the media kind of ignore his statistical awesomeness.  Brady finished the season 324-for-492 (65.9%) with 3,900 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions.  His quarterback rating of 111.0 is the fifth-highest rating of all time, behind the likes of Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Joe Montana . . . and the 2007 version of himself.  It was so good, in fact, that he's the first player to win the NFL MVP by a unanimous vote.

Runner-up: Charles Woodson, the Green Bay Packers cornerback, finished the regular season with 92 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 13 passes broken up, and 2 sacks.  And his Packers just beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl, 31-25.

Second runner-up: Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley ended his regular season with 50 tackles, 10 sacks, 2 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 5 passes broken up, 3 fumbles forced, and 2 fumbles recovered.  His Steelers lost to the Packers in the Super Bowl, 25-31.

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 Recruiting Awards

Offensive guard Chris Bryant

This is something I do every year, and it's a fun exercise for me:
2009 Recruiting Awards
2010 Recruiting Awards

Best overall recruit:  OG Chris Bryant
Bryant has the size, strength, footwork, and athleticism to be a great offensive lineman at Michigan.  As long as he can get rid of some of his bad weight and stay well conditioned throughout his career, I think he'll be an All-Big Ten player by the end of his career.

Best offensive recruit: Bryant
See above.

Best defensive recruit: CB Blake Countess
Countess isn't the biggest or fastest kid out there, but he's got a good quality for a cornerback - sticky.  Receivers just don't seem to get away from him.  He probably needs to bulk up before playing (we all saw what happened to Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott last year), but he could be a slot corner early in his career before taking over on the outside after a year or two.

Recruit most likely to make an early impact: K Matt Wile
If former walk-on Seth Broekhuizen or redshirt sophomore Brendan Gibbons steps up his game, then Wile might not be needed as a freshman.  But those first two combined for 4-for-14 on field goals last season.  It's also entirely possible that Wile will redshirt as a freshman, but Michigan returns the vast majority of its two-deep from last season, so a lot of these 2011 recruits will probably be redshirted.  Wile seems like the best candidate.

Fastest recruit: CB/S Raymon Taylor
Taylor reminds me of departing cornerback James Rogers in many ways.  While Taylor is probably more physical, he has good straight-line speed and a smooth stride. 

Strongest recruit: Bryant
Bryant reports a bench press of 395 pounds and a squat of 420.  Even if he couldn't bench press Charlie Weis, all Bryant had to do with most high schoolers was get a hand on them and they fell to the ground, begging for mercy.

Best under-the-radar recruit: LB Desmond Morgan
Michigan has a good history with linebackers from western Michigan, and I like the fact that Morgan was a bulldozing quarterback in high school.  Quarterbacks just seem to understand the game better.  I think there will be a good battle for the middle linebacker job between Morgan and classmate Kellen Jones once redshirt junior Kenny Demens graduates.

Most overrated recruit: LB Frank Clark
The problem with this "award" is that nobody's rated very highly.  And while my choice if Rich Rodriguez were here would be Justice Hayes, I actually think Hayes will fit better in Hoke's system than that of Rodriguez.  I don't think Hayes is a threat to start anytime soon, but he could be a very good change-of-pace back.  So I'm going to go with Clark, who is only a 3-star.  But I haven't seen anything from Clark that shows me he's going to be a successful college football player, especially as a linebacker.  If he were rated as a 2-star recruit, I probably wouldn't bat an eyelash.  He has some potential with his size and speed, but he needs a lot of coaching.

Personal favorite recruit: LB Antonio Poole
This kid looks like the future at weakside linebacker.  He can run, he can hit, and best of all, he plays downhill.  He might have to bide his time for a couple years, but he might be the second coming of Larry Foote.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Statistical Analysis of 2011 Recruiting: By Team

Desmond Howard was one of many Michigan greats who grew up in Ohio

There's no real breaking news to report here.  It just gives you an idea who Michigan's biggest foes are in the recruiting world.  As you can see below, Ohio State is Enemy #1.  (For comparison's sake, not one of Michigan's commits this year had an offer from the Buckeyes, as far as I know.)  After that it falls off to Auburn, then Florida State, then a tie between Tennessee and Wisconsin, and then everyone else.

Below is a list of each school that pulled in at least one Michigan offeree.  For particular players, check the 2011 Offer Board:

Ohio State: 12

Auburn: 8

Florida State: 7

Tennessee, Wisconsin: 6

Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, USC: 5

Florida, LSU, North Carolina, Virgina, Virginia Tech: 4

Boston College, Clemson, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA: 3
Cal, Iowa, Mississippi, Stanford, Wake Forest: 2

Arizona State, Arkansas, Central Florida, Colorado, Georgia Tech, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kent State, Kentucky, NC State, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Purdue, SMU, Syracuse, TCU, Texas A&M, Troy, Tulane, Utah, Vanderbilt, West Virginia: 1

Brady Hoke has stated that he wants to get back to recruiting the midwest, and that means beating Ohio State for recruits.  You can see that Wisconsin's recent success has made them a formidable opponent in recruiting.  And with as much as Rodriguez recruited the state of Pennsylvania, they lost out on 10 total recruits to the big state schools (PSU, Pitt).

Michigan State, as you can see, did not win many recruiting battles with Michigan.  Brennen Beyer, Frank Clark, Justice Hayes, and Jack Miller were all kids with MSU offers who chose the Wolverines.  And there has been some disagreement about whether MSU running back Onaje Miller was actually offered by Michigan, although I include him because his Rivals profile says so.  Overall, I would say Michigan came out the winner against their in-state rivals.

The Wolverines still have an uphill battle to win recruits away from Ohio State, and that's tough to do because Ohio typically has more talent than Michigan.  But if and when Michigan starts winning some of those battles on the field, I expect more and more recruits from the Toledo area (which is geographically closer to Ann Arbor than Columbus) to take interest in playing for the Wolverines.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Statistical Analysis of 2011 Recruiting: By Conference

If you tally the offers above, Michigan handed out 189 offers to high school recruits for the Class of 2011.  These offers were reported by recruiting sites (Rivals, Scout) or news sources (such as local newspapers).  Surely 189 isn't the exact number of offers sent out, because some kids probably never bothered reporting their Michigan offers and some kids probably exaggerated on their recruiting profiles.  But this represents all offers that were made available to my attention, both from Rich Rodriguez and new head coach Brady Hoke.

For comparison's sake, Rich Rodriguez offered 190 recruits in 2010.

Although Michigan can receive National Letters of Intent until April 1, it seems that the class has been capped at 20 recruits.  So some quick math tells us that 10.6% of recruits who were tendered scholarship offers from Michigan actually accepted that offer (compared to 14.2% last year).  Combining those 20 recruits with the 34 who pledged to other Big Ten schools (including Nebraska), a total of 54 offerees chose the Big Ten.

The twelve-team SEC was actually Michigan's biggest competition, accepting commitments from 42 players who were offered by the Maize and Blue.  The ACC reeled in the same number as the rest of the Big Ten: 34.

Jumping down the list, five recruits remain undecided or might be headed to junior college: Jadeveon Clowney, Shawn Conway, Taques Franklin, Prince Holloway, and Dexter Staley.  As #1 recruits are wont to do in recent years (Terrelle Pryor in 2008, Bryce Brown in 2009, Seantrel Henderson in 2010, etc.), this year's consensus #1 recruit, Jadeveon Clowney, has yet to make a decision.  He will likely choose an SEC school (probably South Carolina), further cementing the SEC as Michigan's prime competition for recruits.

One player, kicker Connor Loftus from California, chose to attend the University of Pennsylvania, an FCS school.

Interestingly, this is the exact same order that appeared during the 2010 recruiting cycle (NOTE: last year's chart did not include Michigan commitments in the Big Ten's total).  The 2010 class even featured the Big Ten garnering 54 Michigan offerees, an exact replica of the 2011 class.  That's flippin' weird.  Anyway, the Big Ten was then followed by the SEC, then the ACC, Pac-10, Big East, Big 12, etc.

That, folks, is a pattern.  Or . . . well . . . at least a coincidence.

Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 Offer Board Update

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney

The 2011 Offer Board has been updated for nearly the last time.

A few prospects remain uncommitted, and the most notable one is the consensus #1 player in the country, Jadeveon Clowney.  He's likely to go to South Carolina, but he hasn't made anything official yet.  News is still pending on guys like receiver Prince Holloway and tight end/defensive end Taques Franklin, but at this point, uncommitted kids might be going the JUCO or prep school route.

For all the signing day updates and recent commitments, here's the list from Wednesday.

Meanwhile, I've started updating the 2012 Offer Board.  If you have any recruits to add to that list, please e-mail me or leave a comment.  Official offers can't be handed out until August 1, so all we have to go on right now is reports of verbal offers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chris Barnett, Wolverine

Boise State, eat your heart out.

Chris Barnett, a tight end from Hurst, TX, committed to the Wolverines on Wednesday.  Barnett was a bit of a surprise commitment on National Signing Day, because originally, he had planned to announce his commitment and sign his NLI this coming Saturday.

The 6'6", 245 pounder is a 4-star to Rivals and a 3-star recruit to both Scout and ESPN.  He reported offers from the likes of Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee, USC, and various others.  In addition, he had been previously committed to both Oklahoma and Arkansas.  The NSD switch from Arkansas to Michigan provides a small amount of consolation for defensive tackle Dequinta Jones, who switched from the Wolverines to the Razorbacks on NSD 2009.

I have my reservations about Barnett, despite his impressive offer list.  He seems to be a boom-or-bust type of player.  He has good speed and good size, catches the ball well with his hands instead of his body, shows decent agility, etc.  If and when he gives 100%, he should be a real threat.

But there's a good amount of film on him out there on the internet, and I see a general theme: he seems to be a guy who doesn't go hard all the time.  He jogs through camp drills at times.  He has some bad body weight around his middle.  He doesn't move his feet extremely well as a blocker.

He also doesn't seem to realize that he's six-foot-six and 245 lbs.!  Someone who's that big and that fast should be running people over, but instead, he tries to dance around defensive backs once he catches the ball.  He's athletic enough that it works sometimes, but he's got to learn to lower his shoulder and punish smaller players for trying to tackle him.  He shows flashes of a willingness to punish opponents, but it's just not consistent.  Hopefully, tight ends coach Dan Ferrigno can convince him how special he can be.

Barnett is Michigan's 20th commitment in the Class of 2011.  Brady Hoke hinted that the class might grow by "a few" when the number was at 19, so perhaps there's a lower level recruit out there who might decide for Michigan.  But the class is most likely finalized.  Barnett was an important recruit in particular because of the low numbers and lack of depth at tight end.  With Martell Webb running out of eligibility after 2010, that left only senior-to-be Kevin Koger and redshirt junior-to-be Brandon Moore as scholarship tight ends on the roster; there are also rumors that Ricardo Miller moved to tight end late in the season, but that has been unconfirmed. 

Barnett probably needs a year to redshirt and work on his body, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the field this fall.  Even a slight injury to either of the top two guys would likely necessitate an appearance by Barnett for the multiple tight end sets that Brady Hoke and Al Borges like to use at times.

TTB Rating: 82

Scholarships for Class of 2012

According to the 2011 Eligibility Count, Michigan ought to have 15 open scholarships for the Class of 2012.  Nine redshirt seniors and six true seniors will be graduating after the 2011 season, assuming Kelvin Grady is a scholarship player.  That also includes safety Mike Williams and defensive end Steve Watson, each of whom might depart before using up their eligibility (Williams due to concussions; Watson due to being buried on the depth chart).

That number will surely increase before February 2012 due to transfers, injuries, etc.  The Class of 2011 was originally going to be around 14, and that number has ballooned to 20 (and counting).  So the next class will likely be 20-ish as well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Frank Clark, Wolverine

Frank Clark is narrow.

Frank Clark, a linebacker from Cleveland, publicly committed to the Wolverines on Wednesday morning.  Clark had been rumored to be a silent commitment since the weekend of January 21st when he made an official visit to Ann Arbor.  Hailing from Glenville Academic Campus, the 6'3", 210 pounder is Glenville's first product to sign with Michigan since Pierre Woods in 2001; Glenville typically funnels its players to Ohio State or . . . well . . . anywhere but Michigan.

A 3-star prospect to each of the three major recruiting services, Clark chose Michigan over offers from California, Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina, and others.  But each recruiting service ranked Clark at a different position - linebacker, tight end, and defensive end.

In Brady Hoke's press conference today, he called Clark a linebacker.  So I'm going to assume he's a linebacker.  And I'm going to base my opinions on seeing approximately 60 seconds of film on Clark, who doesn't have a great deal of film out there in cyberspace.  So here we go:

I'm somewhat indifferent.  There's a quote from Ed Orgeron (the famed USC defensive line coach, Ole Miss head coach, renowned recruiter, etc.) in Meat Market that says something like, "You can't look at technique stuff when you're recruiting.  As a coach, you have to think you can coach him up."

Well . . . that's probably a good thing for Clark.  He seems to be a decent athlete (a reported 4.52 in the forty, which is a good time but probably a bit of a lie), but he's about as raw as raw can be.  As a defensive end, he gets his shoulders turned regularly.  He's not an extremely aggressive tackler.  He doesn't wrap up ballcarriers.  Maybe Glenville doesn't employ a defensive line coach.  I don't know.

To be honest, I can't really project Clark anywhere.  He could be a strongside linebacker, where he would be rushing the quarterback off the edge.  He could be a weakside linebacker, too, but I haven't seen him take on any lead blocks from fullbacks, fill any running lanes, etc.  He could be a career special teamer, since he's decently fast and might be able to hit hard. 

Regardless, he'll probably need a few seasons to bulk up and learn whatever position he plays.  My expectations are low, but Ed Orgeron probably has a lot of deep thoughts about a kid like Clark, thoughts that are unintelligible to northerners.  If you're a fan of The Office, take Andy Bernard's accent when he was playing Belles, Bourbon, and Bullets; lower his voice an octave; speed him up by 50%; and toss some kitty litter down his throat.  That's a pretty close approximation of Orgeron.

Or you can Youtube him.  That would probably be easier.

Yep, it was.

TTB Rating: 59

Signing Day Updates

I'll do my best to track the commitments of recruits of interest to Michigan fans throughout the day:

Darien Bryant (TE) committed to Vanderbilt.

Kevin McReynolds (DT) committed to UCLA.

Branden Jackson (DE) and Desimon Green (DE) committed to Texas Tech.

Shane Wynn (WR) committed to Indiana.

Cardale Jones (QB) committed to Ohio State.

Keith Heitzman (DE) has officially signed with Michigan.

Matt Wile (K) has officially signed with Michigan.

Chris Barnett (TE) has officially signed with Michigan.

Justice Hayes (RB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Darius Jennings (WR) has committed to Virginia.

Delvon Simmons (DT) has committed to North Carolina.

Antonio Poole (LB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Desmond Morgan (LB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Timmy Jernigan (NT) has committed to Florida State.

Darian Cooper (NT) has committed to Iowa.

Kellen Jones (LB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Chris Bryant (OG) has officially signed with Michigan.

Chris Rock (DE) has officially signed with Michigan.

Tony Posada (OG) has officially signed with Michigan.

Blake Countess (CB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Raymon Taylor (CB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Lamar Dawson (LB) has committed to USC.

Aundrey Walker (OT) has committed to USC.

Thomas Rawls (RB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Brennen Beyer (DE) has officially signed with Michigan.

Jack Miller (C) has officially signed with Michigan.

Greg Brown (CB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Tamani Carter (CB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Russell Bellomy (QB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Frank Clark (OLB) committed to Michigan.

Delonte Hollowell (CB) has officially signed with Michigan.

Jake Fisher (OT) committed to Oregon.

Why "Blue Chip Players" Chose Their Schools

Why am I including a picture of myself?  Shut up, that's why.

There was an article in the Detroit News that gave recruits a chance to explain why they chose their respective schools.  Many people on the internets have taken it to reflect extremely poorly on Michigan.  I don't really see that.   Here are some of the more interesting comments:

1. Lawrence Thomas, LB - Renaissance High School (Detroit)
"Why not Michigan? They had problems. There were some past experiences with other Renaissance players that I didn't like. Plus, Rich Rodriguez sent an assistant to our school to recruit me. He wouldn't even send the defensive coordinator, just an assistant. Then we'd hear that Rich Rod would be in Florida recruiting."

Interpretation: Some of the coaches at Renaissance think former Renaissance players were treated poorly at Michigan, even though TE Carson Butler was constantly in trouble and FB/DE Andre Criswell couldn't cut it on the field.  I can't stand it when troublemakers and subpar athletes aren't treated like royalty!

8. Taiwan Jones, LB - Anchor Bay High School (New Baltimore)
"Why not Michigan? When I went there to visit, I didn't think it was the right fit. Just the campus, the way they talked to me. I went to the UConn game (last year) and the crowd showed the other recruits all the attention, not me."

Interpretation: Michigan's coaches didn't recruit me, and the fans were jerks because they had no clue who I was.

Notice that when asked "Why not Michigan State?", the Michigan commits - Brennen Beyer, Justice Hayes, and Delonte Hollowell - essentially said "I just didn't see myself at Michigan State."

Perhaps the cruelest part of the entire article is when they ask recruits who were never really contacted by the Wolverines, "Hey, why didn't you choose the most successful program in the state?"  As if they even had a choice.

It would be like asking Halle Berry, "Why aren't you dating Thunder from Touch the Banner?"  What would they expect her to say?  The truth?  She wouldn't want to be dragged down into that pit of misery, not again.  To save face she would have to say that she wasn't interested. 

But in reality, I think Halle Berry is a little old for me.  She's probably got stretch marks from having a baby.  And frankly, I saw Monster's Ball - I don't want to touch anything that's come in contact with Billy Bob Thornton.  Sister, please. 

Emanuela de Paula and I are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thomas Rawls, Wolverine

Thomas Rawls (with ball) joins the Battles of the Stiff-Arm

Thomas Rawls, a 5'10", 210 lb. running back from Northern High School in Flint, MI, has committed to Michigan.  Rawls played high school ball for the son of running backs coach Fred Jackson.  He had long been a Michigan fan and it was well known that he would choose the Wolverines if given an offer.  Unfortunately, that took awhile, because his academic success left things a little bit murky.  Rawls needed a qualifying score on a recent standardized test to firm up the offer.  Once that happened Brady Hoke quickly sent him an official offer.

Rawls is a 3-star recruit to all three major recruiting services. ranks him as the #77 running back in the country.  He had other offers from Central Michigan, Cincinnati (where he was recruited by former Michigan defensive line coach Steve Stripling), and Toledo.  If Rawls hadn't received the offer from the Wolverines, he most likely would have become a Chippewa.

As a junior Rawls had 138 carries for 1,056 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Due to a senior year injury, he only played seven games; however, he still rushed the ball 150 times for 1,582 yards and 18 touchdowns.  That's 10.55 yards per carry and 226 yards per game.  He also caught 4 passes for 85 yards and 1 touchdown.  As a linebacker, he had 101 tackles as a junior and 37 as a senior.

Rawls definitely has some good qualities.  He's a big kid with thick legs, built powerfully and low to the ground.  He has patience and allows blocks to develop in front of him, which also shows good vision to see cutbacks and running lanes.  Perhaps the most impressive thing about him as a high school runner is the way he keeps his shoulders facing north and south when he makes his cuts; this allows him to break some tackles that other running backs wouldn't.

However, as mentioned above, Rawls is only a 3-star prospect to all three services.  For some odd reason, Michigan fans think his low star rating is due to his academic difficulties.  On the heels of the Demar Dorsey fiasco, I'm not sure how Michigan fans could get that confused about star ratings.  Scout, Rivals, and ESPN don't care about players' ACT scores.  If a kid is a 5-star talent on the field, he could be dumber than a fencepost and still garner a 5-star rating.  There are plenty of highly rated kids who go to prep school, junior college, etc.  I don't understand why the scouting services would suddenly be holding an academic grudge against a random kid from Flint.

Many fans want to compare Rawls to Mark Ingram, the Flint product who won the Heisman for Alabama in 2009.  Admittedly, Rawls and Ingram have some physical similarities.  Both are approximately the same height and even have similar gaits.  But Ingram (who was a 4-star recruit) is and was quicker than Rawls.  Michigan fans might not like me for saying this, but Rawls reminds me of Kevin Grady.  Grady broke state records for rushing, but he ended his four-year Michigan career in 2009 with 200 career carries for 783 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns.  He simply didn't have the speed or elusiveness to succeed in the Big Ten; luckily for him, his power got him on the field as a senior . . . at fullback.

Perhaps Rawls can contribute at fullback or in goal line situations at Michigan, but I'm not expecting Rawls to be a star for the Wolverines.  I would be glad to be wrong, because he worked hard to get qualified.  But he deserves his 3-star rating, and I think he's more of a role player than a feature back.

Rawls gives Michigan 18 commitments and a second running back (Justice Hayes is the other) in the 2011 class.  There are approximately five other players who might announce for Michigan in the coming days - Chris Barnett, Frank Clark, Darian Cooper, Jake Fisher, and Leilon Willingham.  According to some insiders, Michigan would take all five if every one of them wanted to commit.

TTB Rating: 68

Who's left on the offer board?

The nation's #1 recruit: Jadeveon Clowney
Aside from the six guys who might choose Michigan on National Signing Day this Wednesday, here's a list of the uncommitted players remaining on Michigan's offer board.  Obviously, many of these kids aren't interested in Michigan at this point, and many never were.  But it might still be interesting to see where these 18 players end up, with my random guesses in parentheses.  I haven't followed the recruitment of many of these guys since most weren't seriously considering the Wolverines, so don't be surprised if 100% of my guesses are wrong.

EDIT: Updated at 6:55 a.m. on February 3
Darien Bryant, TE - Pickerington, OH (Hawaii) - Vanderbilt
Jadeveon Clowney, DE - Rock Hill, SC (South Carolina)
Lamar Dawson, LB - Danville, KY (Kentucky) - USC
Taques Franklin, TE - Haledon, NJ (Rutgers)
Curtis Grant, LB - Richmond, VA (Ohio State) - Ohio State
Desimon Green, DE - Clairton, PA (Texas Tech) - Texas Tech
Prince Holloway, WR - Cape Coral, FL (West Virginia)
Branden Jackson, DE - McKeesport, PA (Pitt) - Texas Tech
Darius Jennings, WR - Baltimore, MD (Virginia) - Virginia
Timmy Jernigan, DT - Lake City, FL (Florida State) - Florida State
Cardale Jones, QB - Cleveland, OH (Ohio State) - Ohio State
Marqise Lee, S - Gardena, CA (USC) - USC
Devin Lucien, WR - Encino, CA (UCLA) - UCLA
Kevin McReynolds, DT - Washington, DC (Mississippi State) - UCLA
Delvon Simmons, DT - McKeesport, PA (USC) - North Carolina
Dexter Staley, LB - Williston, SC (prep school)
Aundrey Walker, OL - Cleveland, OH (Ohio State) - USC
Shane Wynn, WR - Cleveland, OH (Indiana) - Indiana