Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Allen Gant, Wolverine

Sylvania, OH safety Allen Gant

Allen Gant, a safety from Southview High School in Sylvania, OH, committed to Michigan publicly on Tuesday morning.  He committed to Michigan's coaches last Wednesday.  Gant selected Michigan over offers from Ball State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Stanford, Toledo, and West Virginia.

Recent measurements supposedly size Gant at 6'2", 210 lbs. and running in the 4.6-second range.  He's listed as a 3-star safety to Scout, but Rivals and ESPN each list him as a wide receiver.  247 Sports lists him as an "athlete" which isn't helpful at all.

Gant's father is former Michigan safety Tony Gant, who played in Ann Arbor from 1982-86, making 150 tackles, 11 pass breakups, and 3 interceptions for Bo Schembechler.  The elder Gant was 6'2" and 180 lbs. until his senior year, when he shrunk by two inches.

A few months ago, I was asked whether I thought Gant would get an offer from Michigan, and I said I thought he would be a guy the Wolverines might offer late in the process.  And although the class seems to filling up quickly - thus bringing the coaches closer to being "late in the process" than anytime in recent memory - I was still surprised when Michigan's offer came through in mid-May.

Gant isn't an elite athlete.  His biggest assets seem to be his size and strength, which is fine except Michigan seems to be rife with guys who have the size to play outside linebacker, but the speed to play . . . outside linebacker.  Each of Michigan's safeties has toyed with playing linebacker, and here's another one.  When you watch the film below, highlight #1 shows a kid who gets off the line like he's running in quicksand.  By the end of the play, he has failed to outrun a nondescript, short, white kid.  Play #2 is on the highlight film because Gant makes the interception, but that backpedal isn't smooth and he gets the pick because the ball is underthrown.  The bottom line for his high school team is that he made the play, which is kind of the point of playing football.  But when the receivers are faster and the quarterbacks are better, Gant won't be able to get away with plays like that.

As I said above, his size and strength are the aspects of his game that have garnered rave reviews.  He seems to have thickened up since his junior season ended, and one message board poster who claims to have intimate knowledge of Gant's training regimen relates news of 10-15 lbs. of added muscle this off-season and a 36" vertical jump.  Those numbers are all well and good, but it causes me a little bit of concern when it seems that Michigan's current safeties are lacking somewhat in speed, ball skills, etc.  Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison insists that his safeties must be able to play both safety positions, but I can't imagine Gant trying to cover the middle of the field without putting the defense in jeopardy.

The coaching staff has done an excellent job in recruiting so far in the 2012 cycle, but I can't help being a little wary of the pursuit of Gant.  Perhaps the fact that his father was a Wolverine played a part in his recruitment.  To put it another way, I don't see another safety on the offer board who's quite as limited athletically as Gant seems to be.  But perhaps it's just a coincidence that the least athletic safety on the board happens to be the son of a former Wolverine.

Gant is the 13th public commitment for Michigan in the class of 2012.  The Wolverines should have at least five remaining spots to fill before February, but that number is bound to swell like always.

TTB Rating: 59 (Click here for the rating system)

Greg Banks, #92

Defensive end/tackle Greg Banks

2010 Countdown: #22 Greg Banks

Banks graduated from Montbello High School in Denver, CO.  As a senior he had 120 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and 4 pass breakups.  That was good enough for Rivals to rate him as a 3-star prospect, the #5 player in Colorado in 2006, and the #42 strongside defensive end in the country.  Scout put him as a 3-star and the #40 defensive tackle in the nation.  Banks chose Michigan on December 15, 2005, over such programs as California, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Washington.

Banks redshirted as a freshman in 2006.  He played sparingly as a redshirt freshman in 2007, contributing 7 tackles as a special teamer and backup defensive end.    His 2008 redshirt sophomore season was spent as a backup once again, and he totaled 6 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.  As a backup again 2009, Banks' production fell off even further to 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.  But as a fifth year senior in 2010, he earned a starting spot in Michigan's new 3-3-5 defense as a 5-tech tackle/end.  He capped off his career with 38 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 pass breakups during a season in which he started 9 games.

43 games played; 9 starts; 56 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 pass breakups

I was never a huge fan of Banks' abilities, but I thought he was solid backup material.  You can see in the link above that I thought he would be a starter in 2010 (and my projection of 30 tackles and 2 sacks wasn't far off from his actual stats of 38 tackles and 3 sacks), but that was largely because of a void on the defensive line.  Other options at his end/tackle position were undersized underclassmen, underachieving classmate Adam Patterson, or Renaldo Sagesse.  Banks could have even been the forgettable starter on a good defense, because he wasn't that bad.  He didn't overwhelm anyone with his strength or athleticism, but he was usually in the right place and holding firm at the point of attack.  Unfortunately for Michigan and for Banks, many Wolverines fans will probably forget his name in a conscious effort to erase the 2010 defense from memory entirely.  But much like fellow fifth year guys Adam Patterson and John Ferrara, Banks stuck with the program for five years and his efforts are appreciated by those who follow Michigan closely.  Unlike the aforementioned pair, Banks' infrequent playing time early in his career ended on a high note for him with a starting position and some decent statistics.

Banks was not drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft and likely won't continue his career at the next level.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Programming note: Memorial Day

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

It's a little bit late here on Monday night, but first I want to extend a warm thanks to all those who have served the United States Armed Forces throughout the history of our country.  As the son of a veteran, I grew up aware of those who contributed to our freedom and lost their lives for our country's cause.  However, I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to put my life on the line day after day.  Thanks to you and your families.

In honor of those who have put themselves in danger, I will be donating 50% of this week's ad revenue to the Fisher House Foundation.  The program provides housing and support for the families of sick or injured veterans.

I will also be making a blood donation to the Red Cross later this week.  I encourage you to donate blood sometime if you are able.  The needle doesn't hurt much, it takes about 30 minutes from check-in to completion, and they give you cookies afterward.  Plus you can help save up to three lives with every pint of blood you donate.

Lastly (and unrelated to any of the above), I would like to convey some information regarding upcoming programming for the site.  With all the news about Ohio State, I've had a couple people comment or e-mail asking for my thoughts on the topic.  I generally try to limit my coverage to Michigan and its recruiting.  After all, I'm only one guy, a guy with a full-time job, a regular workout regimen, coaching commitments, and other interests and hobbies outside of Michigan football.  Therefore, I don't really consider my site to be a "news outlet" in any way, shape, or form.  I'm more of an analysis/editorial type of guy.  So while I appreciate the fact that some people respect my opinion enough to inquire - and by no means am I discouraging it - I just don't want people to be disappointed if I'm a little slow to report or weigh in on events around college football.  I do intend to have a piece up about Ohio State soon, but it won't be immediate.

Recruiting ratings and the 2011 Season Countdown will be commencing later this week, so there's a lot on tap.  It should be fun for me, and hopefully you enjoy it, too.  Maybe you can read the posts on your smart phone with one hand while your other arm is busy pumping out blood at the Red Cross.

Go (Red, White, and) Blue!

Final Player Rating System

Charles Woodson would have been approximately a 1,000

Last week I proposed a player rating system that received some positive and some negative comments.  Sifting through the comments and using my own preferences/judgment, I liked the idea of adding a letter grade to the numeric rating, but it seemed too complicated for people to easily understand.  I reserve the right to tweak the system at some point, but this is the jumping-off point:

100 = Best prospect in the country at his position; high likelihood of 1st round NFL potential
90-99 = Outstanding starter in Big Ten; likely All-Big Ten and All-American; high likelihood of NFL draft potential
80-89 = Very good starter in Big Ten; good chance of All-Big Ten; some NFL draft potential
70-79 = Solid starter in Big Ten;  some NFL draft potential
60-69 = Average starter in Big Ten; little NFL draft potential
50-59 = Below average starter or good backup
40-49 = Average backup or solid special teams contributor
1-39 = Below average backup or special teams contributor

I realize that the scale probably won't rate many players in, say, the 1-20 range, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.  No scale is perfect, everybody has good reasons for an argument, etc.  This gives me eight different categories in which to place players, so that already makes it somewhat more refined than the 5-star rating systems used by recruiting sites.  And in the meantime, it prevents me from having to say some poor high school kid is a 10 out of 100.  I'm cold-hearted, but not heartless.

Also, some people were against using a scale of 1-100, but this system allows me to place two players in one category (for example, the 80-89 range) while also highlighting which player I might prefer by a slim margin.

This rating system will be permanently placed on a page at the top of the screen, allowing for easy access whenever someone needs a reference point.

Some initial ratings will be out later this week.

Happy criticizing!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2012 and 2013 Offer Board Updates

Class of 2013 safety prospect
Tray Matthews
The 2012 Offer Board has been updated:

California QB Jake Rodrigues committed to Oregon.

Added Tennessee OG Blake Bars.

California OT Max Tuerk committed to USC.

The 2013 Offer Board has also been updated:

Added PA tight end Adam Breneman.

Added NC linebacker Peter Kalambayi.

Added GA safety Tray Matthews.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thanks to Six Zero!

In case you haven't noticed, Touch the Banner  now has its very own banner.  MGoBlog reader/commenter Six Zero generously offered his designing talents, of which I have none, and designed the banner you see up top.  So thanks to him for helping out a random guy on the internet.

It looks pretty damn cool.

Here, enjoy a beatdown of Michigan State:

I especially enjoy the Clint Copenhaver interception at about 8:53 and then watching Sedrick Irvin's terror at having to tackle a linebacker.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Attractive Michigan Girls of the Week: "Go Blue M" House

If you have any other pictures of girls wearing Michigan gear, feel free to e-mail me at touchthebanner@gmail.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Poll Results: Most likely All-America linebacker?

Terry Richardson, Shane Morris, Mario Ojemudia, and James Ross
at the Nike Football Training Camp in May (image via MGoBlog)
Last week I put up a poll about Michigan's four linebacker recruits for 2012.  I asked the question, "Which of Michigan's four linebacker commits is most likely to be an All-American?"

The results:

44% James Ross
37% Royce Jenkins-Stone
12% Joe Bolden
5% Kaleb Ringer

In case you haven't been able to tell from my comments and commitment posts, I voted for Ross.  He's the best athlete of the bunch, and while he might be the smallest (Ringer is listed at the same height but a few pounds heavier), that doesn't matter a whole lot in college football.  In fact, this voting finished in the exact same order that I would rank these players.

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Mailbag: Why so little love for Funchess?

I was kind of surprised Rivals didn’t give Devin Funchess a fourth star. Which isn’t to say I think they SHOULD have, since I know very little about recruiting and try not to be an “OMG They Didn’t Give Ricardo Miller Nine Stars” guy. But he looked to demonstrate some acrobatic receiving ability in his video, while also being a good prototypical size. What do you think held him back?                - Ben 
Tight end/wide receiver/H-back Devin Funchess committed to Michigan a little over a month ago.  So far Rivals hasn't given Funchess a star rating.  For comparison's sake, Scout gave him 4 stars and ranked him as the #6 tight end in the country.  247 Sports gives him 4 stars and rates him a 90 overall.

I've been a member of Rivals for a few years, and they often downgrade players without clearly defined positions.  At 6'4" and 215 lbs. (or lighter), Funchess' future position is a little murky.  Some think he'll develop into a full-fledged tight end, some think he might have the speed to play wideout, and some think he'll be an Aaron Shea-like fullback/tight end.  Without knowing what position a certain player might occupy at the next level, it's difficult to say that he'll be a high-impact guy.

Also, keep in mind that the recruiting services figure in NFL potential with their ratings.  Especially at Rivals, 5-star players are considered to be potential first rounders, 4-stars are thought to have good potential to be drafted, etc.  Tight end isn't a premium position for the NFL, and H-back is even less so.  Since 2004 the only two tight ends to receive 5 stars from Rivals were Martellus Bennett (2005) and Kyle Rudolph (2008).  Consider that there were five 5-star running backs and nineteen 4-star running backs in the class of 2011.  Meanwhile, there were zero 5-star tight ends and only sixteen 4-star tight ends in the same class.  If the NFL doesn't value tight ends as highly as other positions, high school recruits are going to be slightly downgraded as a result.

So this is probably what Rivals is thinking:

a) What's his position at the next level?
b) Does he have a lot of potential to get to the NFL?

Personally, I think Scout and 247 Sports have it right.  Putting on weight should never be a problem for a player who desires to do it, and I have heard no questions about Funchess' work ethic or coachability.  I would rather take a good athlete and bulk him up than a take a big guy and try to make him more athletic.  In my experience, the latter tactic will rarely pan out.  Funchess can run, jump, catch, and adjust to the ball in the air.  Michigan just saw a 2007 recruit who had similar size coming out of high school leave as a 6'4", 268 lb. tight end who excelled at blocking.  But Martell Webb was a 4-star and the #29 wide receiver in his class, so you can see that the ratings aren't consistent.  (I will admit, though, that Webb was probably a slightly better athlete coming out of high school than Funchess is today.)

Don't be too surprised if Funchess works his way up to 4-star status with a solid senior season.  He has plenty of athleticism to move up to that next step, and if he remains on the 3-star level at Rivals, I think he'll outplay that rating by the time all is said and done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

D.J. Williamson, ex-Wolverine

D.J. Williamson

It seems that wide receiver D.J. Williamson has left the football program.  Though there has been no official announcement, he no longer appears on the roster, and there were rumors all spring that he had decided to transfer.  Williamson was a class of 2010 player who redshirted as a true freshman.  Rivals ranked him as a 3-star and the #53 player in the state of Ohio.  Scout ranked him as a 2-star and the #165 wide receiver in the country.  Other than straight-line speed, Williamson didn't seem to offer much as a player; furthermore, there were rumors that he dropped a lot of passes in practice and turned the coaches off with his unreliability.

This leaves the Wolverines with 11 wideouts on the 2011 roster but only 7 remaining for 2012.  I can't help but wonder why the new coaching staff turned away class of 2011 receiver Devin Lucien, who would have been a Wolverine if the coaches hadn't him to play defensive back instead.

Check out other departed Wolverines in the Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Feedback Requested: Potential Rating System

Denard Robinson - Image via MGoBlog.com

I have been toying with creating my own ratings system for a while, and the increased readership here at Touch the Banner - although far short of being a college football blogging juggernaut - has made it a more realistic option.  I'm somewhat flattered that people trust my analysis and observations to the point that some are requesting even more information, but this is just as much an entertaining endeavor for me so I can look back at my ratings in a few years and see whether I was in the ballpark.

Moving beyond all that, I'm requesting any feedback you might have on the rating system I'm proposing below.  The 5-star systems used by Rivals and Scout make very little sense to me (sometimes the 30th-best player and the 300th-best player both have a 4-star ranking), and ESPN's 100-point scale is somewhat ridiculous, too (even though ESPN has 100 points to play with, virtually all recruits seem to fall within the 77-81 range on the scale).

Therefore, I'm proposing using a rating system loosely based on . . . EA Sports' NCAA Football series, because everyone understands it and there's more opportunity for differentiating between prospects.  Here are my thoughts for rankings:

100 = Prospect could immediately be star in the NFL
90-99 = Prospect has high likelihood of developing into All-America or first round NFL draft pick
80-89 = Prospect has high likelihood of being an all-conference player or mid-round NFL draft pick
70-79 = Prospect has high likelihood of being solid starter in college or fringe NFL draft pick
60-69 = Prospect has high likelihood of being a career college backup or occasional starter
50-59 = Prospect has little chance to make an impact at FBS college level
0-49 = Prospect has little chance of tying shoes without falling down

Please leave comments or e-mail me if you have any suggestions for tweaking the rating system, or if you just want to say, "Looks good, so get on with the ratings!!!!"

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Maize 'n Brew: May 22 Recruiting Update

Hello, Kate Upton

Over yonder at Maize 'n' Brew, I put up a weekly recruiting update with news and notes on players won, lost, and in between.

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

2012 Offer Board Update

Land O'Lakes, FL tight end Kent Taylor (#1)

The 2012 Offer Board has been updated:

North Carolina TE Mark Harrell committed to Notre Dame.

Added Texas CB Will Hines.

Michigan CB Terry Richardson committed to Michigan.

Pennsylvania OT J.J. Denman committed to Penn State.

Added Utah FB Sione Houma.

Added Florida TE Kent Taylor.

Georgia LB Raphael Kirby committed to Miami.

Added Illinois DT Faith Ekakitie.

Added Tennessee WR Drae Bowles.

Georgia LB Dillon Lee committed to Alabama.

Added Ohio S Allen Gant.

Texas FB Dominic Ramacher committed to Oklahoma State.

Added Massachusetts OT Eric Olson.

Added Virginia DE Eli Harold.

Added Ohio CB De'van Bogard.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Attractive Michigan Girls of the Week: On the Beach

If you have any other pictures of girls wearing Michigan gear, feel free to e-mail me at touchthebanner@gmail.com.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Terry Richardson, Wolverine

Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Terry Richardson

Detroit cornerback Terry Richardson committed to Michigan on Thursday morning.  He selected the Wolverines over a long list of suitors that included Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pittsburgh, UCLA, and USC, among others.

Richardson stands 5'9" and weighs 160 lbs. while listing a 4.5 forty.  He's a 4-star recruit and the #195 overall player to Rivals.  Scout also lists him as a 4-star and ranks him as the #10 cornerback in the country.  Upstart site 247 Sports has the best opinion of Richardson, giving him a grade of 97, ranking him as a 4-star, and putting him at the #3 cornerback and #31 overall player.  So the recruiting sites like him.

There are varying reports on Richardson's statistics, but Scout says he had 35 tackles and 12 interceptions as a junior.  I've also seen interceptions numbers listed at 9 and 8 for him, so it's hard to tell what's right.  Regardless, somewhere between 8 and 12 interceptions is pretty dang good.  He also had 20 tackles, 16 pass breakups, and 4 interceptions as a sophomore.

I have stated before that I think Richardson is the best of Cass Tech's midget cornerbacks in recent years.  The Technicians have produced a slew of 5'6"-5'9" cornerbacks like Boubacar Cissoko (Michigan), Teric Jones (Michigan), Dior Mathis (Oregon), Delonte Hollowell (Michigan), Kishon Wilcher (Toledo), and now Richardson.  He has the "it factor" that I can't really explain, but he always seems to be around the ball.  One of my reservations with Cissoko was that, despite all of his technique and physical skills, he only had 3 interceptions in his junior and seasons combined.  In some ways, Richardson is the polar opposite - lacking some technique but making big plays.  However, the hip swivel is there for him to turn and run with receivers in an instant, and some good defensive back coaching from Curt Mallory should help him in that respect.

Obviously, Richardson's size is a concern.  Big Ten corners can do just fine at 5'9", but he's awfully thin and needs to bulk up before he gets a chance to play.  I think Michigan fans had enough of the reed-thin cornerbacks in 2010 with Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott on the field.  Richardson also won't blow you away with his speed, but he has enough to get the job done.

Overall, I'm a fan of Richardson's recruitment at Michigan.  He's a smooth athlete with a nose for the ball.  And sometimes having a knack for finding the football is more important than being 6'0" tall and having blinding speed.

This is Michigan's twelfth commitment for the class of 2012, and recruits have stated that the Wolverines would like to take three cornerbacks overall.  Richardson would be the seventh commitment from Cass Tech in the last five recruiting classes (2008-2012), six of whom will be on the roster together; Cissoko was dismissed from the team in 2009, but Richardson would join William Campbell, Thomas Gordon, Teric Jones, Delonte Hollowell, and class of 2012 teammate Royce Jenkins-Stone.

TTB Rating: 85

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Self-Indulgent Post of the Week: A Visit from Todd Bradford

Maryland defensive
coordinator Todd Bradford

As a football coach and fan, I had an interesting experience today.  University of Maryland defensive coordinator Todd Bradford (official Maryland bio here) stopped in to our school to visit our head coach.  When he walked in, I immediately recognized him from the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, which I attended back in March.

As coaches often do, he was in the area doing some recruiting.  I had a few minutes to chat him up.  We talked a little bit about his presentation at the coaches clinic, I asked him how his spring practices went, etc.  He had some interesting things to say about the team's preparation.  Maryland opens the season on September 5th with a televised night game against Miami, which ought to be exciting for the Terrapins, who don't frequently get a chance to play in prime time.

Coach Bradford asked if I'm from the area originally, and I told him I was from Michigan.  He asked where, and when I told him, he said, "Yeah, I know where that is.  I used to coach at Eastern Michigan.  Ypsilanti."  I said I went to school right next to Ypsilanti at the University of Michigan.  His response was, "I always wanted to coach there.  That's a great place.  I used to work their summer camps, you know, but once I went to Wisconsin [where he coached defensive backs from 2000-01], I couldn't work the camps anymore, since they're in the Big Ten."

We talked a little bit longer about recruits at my school and in the area, but obviously, that's not conversation that should be relayed here.  Shortly afterward, I left him with the head coach and carried on with my day.

As you might know, college coaches spend a lot of time on the road trying to create relationships with local programs and schools.  There was a great article about the life of college basketball recruiters in last week's issue of Sports Illustrated.  We've heard about Darrell Funk, Mark Smith, and Fred Jackson making school visits in recent weeks, and those are the types of things they do when spring practices and the fall football season aren't in full swing.  They hit the road and visit every school they can, hoping that relationships built will help them land a recruit or gain some support in the coming months and years.

Nothing earth shattering happened and the more interesting parts of the conversation should remain undisclosed, but it's not every day that you get some one-on-one time with an ACC coach.

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Martell Webb, #80

Martell Webb looks like a defensive tackle
 2010 Countdown: #37 Martell Webb

Webb graduated from Pontiac (MI) Northern High School in 2007.  He was a 4-star recruit and the #20 receiver in the country to Scout.  Rivals ranked him as a 4-star and the #29 wide receiver.  During his senior season, he had 31 catches for 862 yards (27.8 yards per catch) and 12 touchdowns.  He also returned 11 punts for 301 yards (27.4 yards per return)

Webb burned his redshirt in 2007, playing sparingly in 10 games.  Most of his playing time was on special teams, where he assisted on 3 tackles.  He played a bit of tight end, but did not catch a pass.  As a sophomore in 2008, he was deemed even less ready.  Webb played in 3 games and only on special teams.  People began to wonder if he would ever contribute, but in 2009 he played in all 12 games, earning 1 start and catching 4 passes for 44 yards and 1 touchdown; he had developed into the team's blocking tight end.  More of the same was to come in 2010, when Webb started 2 games and played in all 13.  On a team that didn't utilize the tight ends much in the passing game, he caught 5 passes for 67 yards and 1 touchdown while backing up Kevin Koger.

3 starts; 9 receptions, 111 yards, 2 touchdowns; 3 special teams tackles

Even back in 2007, I was frustrated that Webb was burning his redshirt.  In the summer prior to the season, I saw Webb at a Blockbuster store in Ann Arbor, and he looked like the wide receiver/tight end tweener that he was coming out of high school.  Then a month later, I saw him on the field as a freshman.  It didn't make sense then, and it doesn't make sense now.  He barely played that season.  Had he redshirted that year, he might have had a good shot at being the starter going into 2011, although his battle with Koger would have continued.  Now Michigan has a dearth of tight ends (unless you like walk-ons, position switchers, or a guy who we've barely seen on the field in Brandon Moore) to back up or complement Koger, who would have been ideal for the H-back role this year.  Webb reportedly suffered from the dropsies in practice during his first couple seasons, which is why he rarely played early on.  And when he did play, he rarely saw the ball come his way through the air, although they ran behind him plenty.  How could you not run behind a 268 lb. tight end?  Perhaps the play I'll remember most is the one pictured above, which was a short throwback on which Webb was completely unencumbered by the diminutive defender climbing up his back.

There was an outside chance that Webb would be drafted in the April NFL Draft, and that chance remained outside.  Whenever NFL teams are allowed to sign free agents, though, I expect Webb to latch on as an undrafted free agent.  He has decent athleticism, especially for a guy who's 6'4" and 268 lbs.  If nothing else, he could be a cheap blocking tight end for an NFL team, not unlike former Denver Bronco Dwayne Carswell.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Spring Game Statistics, Part Deux

Here's a contribution from reader/commenter ironman4579, who went back and tallied Michigan's spring game statistics.  There are a few somewhat minor differences between his and those from Rivals that I posted last week, but he adds a more specific breakdown that might be interesting to you.  Kudos to him for his work:

I messed up somewhere on QB rushing, so I haven't included those numbers.  I've included a passing breakdown of short (under 10 yards) intermediate (10-20) and long (20+).  The yards after catch and run after catch numbers might seem off (Mike Cox has more yards after contact than yards), but I went with the place a guy was first hit (or caught the ball) as the starting point.  Obviously if he was hit 3 yards in the backfield, and managed to get back to the original line, he shouldn't get 0 YAC.  Also tackles are basically just the guy I felt was "most" responsible for the tackle.  I didn't break it down into half tackles or anything.  The receiving numbers should be off by one.  Gardner completed a pass to a guy that I never got a look at.

As a final note, I only included the guys that we all actually expect might see some time this year, or were at least somewhat well known prospects.  The odds of a guy like Teric Jones seeing much action probably aren't great.

Denard Robinson- 5/14 (35.7%), 66 yards, 1 INT (completions of 7, 28, 20, 11, 0) (Short: 4/6 (66.7%), Intermediate: 1/7 (14.3%) 1 INT, 1 throwaway)

Devin Gardner- 6/12 (50%), 113 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT (completions of 48, 10, 10, 5, 11, 29) (Short: 2/3 (66.7), Intermediate: 2/4 (50%) 1 INT, Long: 2/5 (40%) 1 INT)

Mike Cox- 4 carries, 82 yards (20.5 YPC) 1 TD (runs of 68, 10, -1, 5), 84 Yards After Contact, 3 broken tackles

Mike Shaw- 3 carries, 39 yards (13 YPC), (runs of 9, 5, 25), 11 YAC, 1 Broken Tackle

Fitzgerald Toussaint- 7 carries, 14 yards (2 YPC), (runs of 2, -2, 5, 0, 5, 2, 2), 3 YAC, 1 Broken Tackle

Stephen Hopkins- 6 carries, 16 yards (2.7 YPC), (runs of 2, 4, 3, 0, 3, 4), 10 YAC

Vincent Smith- 1 carry, 0 yards

Kevin Koger- 1 catch, 7 yards

Vincent Smith- 1 catch, 28 yards, 25 Run After Catch

Junior Hemingway- 1 catch, 20 yards, 17 RAC

Roy Roundtree- 1 catch, 12 yards

Darryl Stonum- 1 catch, 0 yards, 3 RAC, 1 Drop

Kelvin Grady- 1 catch, 10 yards

Jeremy Jackson- 1 catch, 10 yards

Jordan Barpal- 1 catch, 48 yards

Je'Ron Stokes- 2 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD

Mike Jones- 3
Jordan Kovacs- 2
Tony Anderson- 2
Mike Jones- 2
Mike Martin- 2
Carvin Johnson- 2
Marvin Robinson- 2
Thomas Gordon- 2
Kenny Wilkins- 2
JB Fitzgerald- 2
Richard Ash- 2
Terrence Talbott- 2
Quinton Washington- 2
Craig Roh- 1
Jibreel Black- 1
Floyd Simmons- 1
Jake Ryan- 1
Jordan Paskorz- 1

 Tackles For Loss
Craig Roh- 1
Carvin Johnson- 1
Jake Ryan- 1
Marvin Robinson- 1
JB Fitzgerald- 1
Thomas Gordon- 1

Carvin Johnson- 1
Jake Ryan- 1
JB Fitzgerald- 1

Carvin Johnson- 2
Jake Ryan- 1
Marell Evans- 1

 Pass Breakups
Tony Anderson- 1
Josh Furman- 1

 Missed Tackles (basically just broken tackles)
Jordan Kovacs- 1
Brandon Herron- 1
Floyd Simmons- 1
Jake Ryan- 1
Courtney Avery- 1

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Perry Dorrestein, #79

Perry Dorrestein

2010 Countdown: #25 Perry Dorrestein

Dorrestein played high school ball at Plainfield Central High School in Illinois.  He was a 3-star prospect and the #43 offensive tackle to Rivals back in 2006.  Scout ranked him as the #81 offensive lineman and a 3-star prospect.  He committed to Michigan on December 4, 2005, over offers from Duke, Illinois, Iowa State, Nebraska, and Northwestern.

Dorrestein redshirted during his first season on campus.  He played sparingly in four games as a redshirt freshman in 2007, backing up starting tackles Jake Long and Steve Schilling.  In the merry-go-round that was the 2008 offensive line, Dorrestein started 3 games at left tackle, 1 game at right tackle, and sat out 4 games completely with no explanation, mostly watching Mark Ortmann and Schilling.  By the 2009 season, Schilling had moved to left guard and the right tackle job was a battle between Dorrestein and Mark Huyge.  Huyge began the season as the starter, but was eventually replaced by Dorrestein, who started 8 of the last 9 games on the right side.  As a fifth year senior in 2010, Dorrestein had solidified his position as a starting tackle.  He started 9 games at right tackle and 1 on the left, missing 2 games mid-season with a knee injury.

31 games played, 22 starts at offensive tackle

As you can tell from the 2010 Countdown linked above, I was never really a fan of Dorrestein's ability.  He wasn't athletic enough to be a left tackle, he was too tall and lacking the athleticism to play guard effectively, and he was just a so-so right tackle.  His 3-star ranking by both major recruiting services was pretty accurate.  However, I was pleasantly surprised with Dorrestein's play in 2010.  He wasn't an obvious weakness for a line that paved the way for one of the nation's best rushing attacks, and the offensive line allowed very few sacks overall.  He still lacked the ability to get movement on opposing linemen consistently, but I thought Michigan's offense tended to be a little left-handed in the running game, using the left side combo of Taylor Lewan and Steve Schilling to gain most of its rushing yardage.  That was probably a smart move on the part of Rich Rodriguez, but Dorrestein played solidly for a productive unit.

Dorrestein was not selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, and frankly, I would be surprised if he latched on with an NFL team, even in a practice squad capacity.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Maize 'n' Brew: May 15 Recruiting Update

This Tyra Banks picture is still awesome.

Over at my weekly Maize 'n' Brew posting, I discuss this week's commitments, Chris Wormley, and the Rivals rankings that were released last week.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2012 Offer Board Update

Florida DE Tyriq McCord

The 2012 Offer Board has been updated:

Added Texas WR Jalen Overstreet.

Michigan defensive end Matt Godin committed to Michigan.

Added Florida defensive end Tyriq McCord.

Michigan defensive end Mario Ojemudia committed to Michigan.

Ohio defensive end Pharaoh Brown committed to Michigan.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Matt Godin, Wolverine

Novi Catholic Central defensive end Matt Godin committed to Michigan

Novi, MI, defensive end/defensive tackle Matt Godin publicly committed to Michigan on Thursday morning. He had been a silent commit for a few weeks. If you missed the obvious, glaring hints that all pointed to Matt Godin as the silent verbal, then you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Scout ranks him as a 3-star and the #39 defensive end in the country. 247 Sports gives him 4 stars and puts him at #239, barely slipping him into their "top 247" list. Rivals and ESPN are non-committal.

Godin is 6'5" and 253 lbs., runs a 5.03-second forty, and runs a 4.66 shuttle. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Boston College, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Michigan State, Missouri, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. As a junior for Catholic Central, he had 66 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison told Godin to prepare for playing the 5-tech defensive end/defensive tackle position. The 5-tech lines up on the outside shoulder of the strongside offensive tackle, where he'll have to stand up against the run. In particular, he'll have to stand up to double-teams on power runs. His position will be occupied by Ryan Van Bergen in 2011, who was coincidentally almost Godin's exact same size as a recruit - 6'5", 260 lbs. Van Bergen was a quasi-linebacker in high school, playing virtually every position in the front seven for his Whitehall football team. And although I wasn't extremely high on Van Bergen - who has trumped me by turning into a solid player - I'm even less a fan of Godin's game.

Yep, this is one of those recruits about whom I dare to say . . . meh. I'm inclined to give Mattison (and Brady Hoke) the benefit of the doubt when recruiting defensive linemen, because they've coached good ones - great ones, even - and been a part of some great defenses. They're clearly good at what they do. But occasionally there's going to be a guy who doesn't excite me. Most of these 2012 guys get me excited about Michigan's future, but here's why I have serious questions about Godin:

His "highlight" reel includes several plays where he's a half step behind everybody else when getting off the ball. You can watch his (presumably less heralded) defensive line mates get out of their stances before him, and that's a concern for me. Defensive (and offensive) line coaches everywhere say that the first guy to get his second foot down will win the battle. I would guess that Godin only wins that race 50% of the time, although he wins the battle more often than that because, well, he's 6'5" and 253 lbs. and it's his highlight reel. I've played against Detroit Catholic Central enough - and seen them in enough state championship games - to know that the players they put on the field are as strong as oxen, and Godin does his fair share of pushing people around. But I see all kinds of fundamental issues that will get him beat at the next level: standing up too high, getting off balance, using a spin move against running plays, allowing himself to get reach blocked, etc. The litany of errors on a highlight film scares me a little bit.

Another concern for me is his production level, albeit against good competition. A good pass rush from a strongside end - who's essentially a 3-4 defensive end - should be considered gravy, because those guys aren't really put on the field for their ability to get to the quarterback. Getting sacks is the job of the 3-tech DT, the weakside end, and blitzing linebackers. But as an FBS prospect against high school competition, he ought to have more than 2 sacks. And he probably ought to have more than 66 tackles. There may have been some mitigating circumstances, but those numbers aren't spectacular. Some Michigan fans have suggested that Godin could grow into a 3-tech defensive tackle, but that 3-tech has to create a pass rush, whether by pure force (hopefully Will Campbell) or by quickness off the ball (think John Randle). I'm not sure if Godin posses the pure strength or quickness to give us anything from the 3-tech. Furthermore, CC has enough talent on its football team that Godin shouldn't necessarily be the focus of an offense; his highlight film doesn't suggest that he's facing constant double-teams.

Ending on a positive note, the last guy Michigan got from Catholic Central was Mike Martin, who has turned out to be a very good player. If Godin can take a page out of Martin's book and become a beast in the weight room, then some of Godin's fundamental problems and lack of athleticism may be mitigated. He doesn't have to be a superstar if he can hold his ground against the run. And with his size, he doesn't have to be a freak athlete. Hopefully, he can turn into a solid player in Ann Arbor.

Godin's commitment gives Michigan 11 players for the 2012 class, which is six short of its projected size of 17. That number will surely increase, but in the meantime, expect the coaches to pursue commitments from two or three more defensive linemen (one more strongside end, plus a couple defensive tackles).

TTB Rating: 65

Thursday, May 12, 2011

John Ferrara, #74

Offensive guard John Ferrara

2010 Countdown: #53 John Ferrara

Ferrara attended Monsignor Farrell High School on Staten Island.  He had 173 tackles and 28 sacks in his last two seasons in high school and was ranked as a 3-star recruit to both Rivals and Scout.  Rivals made him the #46 strongside defensive end in the country, and he was the #58 overall defensive end to Scout.  He committed to Michigan on October 22, 2005, choosing the Wolverines over offers from Michigan State, Mississippi, Northwestern, Penn State, and Rutgers.

As a freshman in 2006, he redshirted and played defensive tackle in practice.  As a redshirt freshman in 2007, Ferrara had become the second-string defensive tackle, beating out bigger and more highly touted recruits Marques Slocum and Jason Kates for playing time.  Ferrara played in all 13 games (12 at defensive tackle) and made 2 tackles with 1 tackle for loss.  The terrible, terrible shortage of offensive linemen in 2008 caused a position change for Ferrara.  When it became apparent that offensive guard Cory Zirbel's career was finished due to injury, Michigan need further depth.  Ferrara would have been a backup on defense again, anyway, so he made the switch to offensive guard in August, just prior to the season.  He played on special teams throughout the year, but also earned 5 starts at left guard, including the last 4 games of the year.  More of the same occurred in 2009, when he played special teams and started 1 game against Eastern Michigan at right guard.  As a fifth year senior in 2010, Ferrara never played offense, contributing only on special teams and missing several games due to a hand injury.

2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss; 6 starts at offensive guard

Academic All-Big Ten in 2008, 2009, and 2010

Ferrara was a glue-type player that exists on every good football team.  Despite not getting much playing time, he stuck around for all five years.  It's entirely possible that he would have started - or at least played significant minutes - at defensive tackle in both 2009 and 2010.  All that stood in his way in both seasons were an underachiever (Will Campbell) and a few underwhelming veterans (Greg Banks, Renaldo Sagesse, and Adam Patterson).  However, he was doing his duty as a backup offensive lineman during that time, and for that he should be commended.  It seems that one reason for his lack of playing time would be his inability to get any heavier than 286 lbs.  He spent most of his career in the 270's, which is very light for an offensive lineman.  Personally, I thought he played fairly well in the second half of 2008, and probably should have earned more playing time as a backup in 2009.

Ferrara probably has no future as a professional football player.  However, he has a degree and is/was rumored to be dating Kristy Bojazi, a Michigan cheerleader who was profiled at one time on CNN/SI.

Kristy Bojazi

So he seems to be doing well for himself.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Shane Morris, Wolverine

Class of 2013 quarterback Shane Morris committed to Michigan on Tuesday

Warren, MI, quarterback Shane Morris, a class of 2013 prospect, committed to Michigan on Tuesday.  He's a 0-star recruit to Rivals, but Scout thinks he's a 0-star.  However, 247 Sports is the outlier here and gave him a 0-star ranking.  ESPN was too busy working on its poker coverage to bother acknowledging Morris' existence.

He's 6'3", 183 lbs. with a 4.63 forty, a 4.6-second shuttle, and a 28" vertical.  Morris selected Michigan over offers from Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Syracuse, and Toledo.

He finished his sophomore year 102-for-180 for 1,150 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, in addition to 2 rushing touchdowns.

It's very, very difficult to project a player as a sophomore in high school.  Kids hit growth spurts, their bodies fill out, sometimes they mature, sometimes they plateau, etc.  However, it's easy to see why Morris would have garnered so much interest this early in the recruiting process.  He looks like a very mature passer.  He doesn't panic in the pocket, he goes through his read progressions, etc.  Obviously, only highlights are available, but the thing that sticks out to me most is the touch and accuracy he puts on the ball.  When a ball need to gets to a receiver in a hurry, he rifles it in there.  When he knows he can put some air under a throw, he lays it out there for the receiver to go get it.  That's somewhat rare in a young passer, many of whom want to throw the ball 100 mph every time.  In that respect, Morris might be even more advanced than freshman Chad Henne or sophomore Denard Robinson.  I'm also impressed with the quickness of Morris' release.  He doesn't hold the ball at a consistent spot, which is something that I'm sure he'll work on in the future; however, even if he lets his arm drop, he gets the ball out quickly.  There's just something unique and smooth about a lefthanded quarterback's throwing motion, and he's no exception.

Morris moves fairly well within and without the pocket, but this is not a kid who's going to create many plays with his feet.  He's comfortable throwing on the move, but the speed and creativity probably won't be there to make him a consistent running threat.  His footwork is a little sloppy in the pocket, which is another thing that should improve with time.  I would also hope that Morris continues to thicken up and get stronger, although it's hard to knock a 6'3", 183 lb. sophomore in high school for a lack of size.

Honestly, I don't have a good grasp on where Morris will be ranked next year or what his future looks like.  And if anyone claims they do, they're fibbing.  This is rare territory for Michigan.  A few years ago, I was on a message board with Michigan fans who were talking up a safety from Florida who liked Michigan.  They said he was 6'3", 220 lb. freshman with 4.4 speed and would be a surefire 5-star.  As you might have guessed, that player was Marvin Robinson.  You know, the 6'1", 200 lb. Robinson whose speed (or lack thereof) puts him in a constant discussion to potentially move to linebacker.  So when you read these projections that Morris is going to be super awesome and such, take them with a grain of salt.  He's far from a finished product.

I do like Morris.  He has some impressive physical qualities, and from everything I've seen and read, he seems like a quality individual.  I would guess that he will be highly ranked, but without being up to speed on all the quarterbacks in the 2013 class - which very few people are - it's hard to say whether he's a top five or top ten quarterback.  I would be surprised if he's not a top-10 quarterback recruit by next year, but honestly, that's just a semi-educated, wild-ass guess.

Morris is the first commitment for the class of 2013.  In fact, since it comes approximately 21 months before National Signing Day, this is the earliest commitment Michigan has received since Rivals started keeping track.  This is a way too early projection, but the class of 2013 looks like it will start off at about 18 players.  Once you figure in attrition and potential non-renewed fifth years, that's going to be a pretty big class.  Morris would be the first Michigan player from Warren De La Salle since Mark Torzy back in the mid-'70's.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2012 Rivals 250 Released

Michigan commit James Ross is the second-highest Wolverine on the list at #143

Yesterday Rivals released the Rivals 100.  Today just before noon, they released their top 250 prospects.  This puts five state of Michigan players in the country's top 250, including Royce Jenkins-Stone at #87.  Altogether, 108 of Michigan's 153 offers (or 70.6%) are to the top 250 recruits in the nation.  Michigan offerees on today's list are:

101. Peter Jinkens - LB - Texas (Texas)
103. Max Tuerk - OT - California
107. LaDarrell McNeil - S - Texas
108. Deontay McManus - WR - Maryland
112. Elijah Shumate - S - New Jersey
118. Ty Darlington - C - Florida
123. Connor Brewer - QB - Arizona (Texas)
124. Bri'onte Dunn - RB - Ohio (Ohio State)
126. Raphael Kirby - LB - Georgia
129. Dalvin Tomlinson - DT - Georgia
130. Evan Boehm - OG - Missouri
133. Bryce Treggs - WR - California
134. Aaron Burbridge - WR - Michigan
137. Paul Thurston - OT - Colorado
139. Wayne Morgan - CB - New York
140. Jaleel Johnson - DT - Illinois
143. James Ross - LB - Michigan (Michigan)
147. Devonte Fields - DE - Texas (TCU)
148. Michael Starts - OT - Texas
152. Kyle Dodson - OG - Ohio
154. Dan Voltz - OT - Illinois (Wisconsin)
156. Brent Wilkerson - DE - Maryland (Penn State)
157. Matt Jones - RB - Florida (Florida)
165. Brock Stadnik - OT - North Carolina (South Carolina)
167. Joe Bolden - LB - Ohio (Michigan)
170. Jonathan Williams - RB - Texas (Missouri)
176. Michael Moore - DE - Maryland
184. Greg Garmon - RB - Pennsylvania
185. Ken Ekanem - DE - Virginia
187. Armani Reeves - CB - Massachusetts
190. Sean Price - TE - Florida
191. Shane Callahan - OT - Colorado
192. Jarontay Jones - DT - Georgia
194. Amara Darboh - WR - Iowa
195. Terry Richardson - CB - Michigan
198. Ryan Watson - DE - Maryland
209. Jordan Diamond - OT - Illinois
210. Jody Fuller - WR - North Carolina
211. Leonte Carroo - WR - New Jersey
214. Reginald Davis - WR - Texas (Texas Tech)
215. Troy Hinds - DE - Utah
221. I'tavius Mathers - RB - Tennessee
222. Danny O'Brien - DT - Michigan
224. Cyrus Jones - CB - Maryland
230. Mike Madaras - OG - Maryland (Maryland)
231. Tom Strobel - DE - Ohio
232. Dillon Lee - LB - Georgia
238. Darius Powe - WR - California
240. Latroy Pittman - WR - Florida (Florida)
242. J.J. Denman - OT - Pennsylvania
243. Camren Williams - LB - Massachusetts (Penn State)
246. Ondre Pipkins - DT - Missouri
247. Deaysean Rippy - LB - Pennsylvania

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2011 Spring Game Statistics

I haven't seen these posted anywhere and struggled to find them through a Google search, so here are the statistics from Michigan's spring game on April 16, as tallied by The Wolverine:

Denard Robinson: 5/14, 71 yards
Devin Gardner: 5/10, 99 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Steve Wilson: 0/2
Jack Kennedy: 1/2, 10 yards

Michael Cox: 4 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD
Denard Robinson: 6 carries, 48 yards
Michael Shaw: 3 carries, 39 yards
Stephen Hopkins: 6 carries, 17 yards
Fitzgerald Toussaint: 7 carries, 14 yards
Jihad Rasheed: 3 carries, 10 yards
O'Neil Swanson: 3 carries, 5 yards
Steve Wilson: 1 carry, 1 yard
Vincent Smith: 1 carry, 0 yards
Jack Kennedy: 1 carry, -3 yards
Devin Gardner: 4 carries, -9 yards

Jordan Barpal: 1 catch, 50 yards
Je'ron Stokes: 2 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD
Vincent Smith: 1 catch, 33 yards
Kelvin Grady: 1 catch, 10 yards
O'Neil Swanson: 1 catch, 10 yards
Kevin Koger: 1 catch, 7 yards

Jake Ryan: 2
Carvin Johnson: 1
Craig Roh: 1

Carvin Johnson: 2
Marell Evans: 1
Jake Ryan: 1 (returned for a TD)

Seth Broekhuizen: 0/1 (missed from 30 yards)
Brendan Gibbons: 0/1 (missed from 48 yards)

Will Hagerup: 2 punts, 79 yards

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Monday, May 9, 2011

2012 Rivals 100 Released

Royce Jenkins-Stone is Michigan's only commit in the initial 2012 Rivals 100

Here's a rundown of the players on the Rivals 100 who have been offered by Michigan:

1. Dorial Green-Beckham - WR - Missouri
2. Mario Edwards - DE - Texas (Florida State)
3. D.J. Humphries - OT - North Carolina
4. Eddie Goldman - DT - Washington, D.C.
5. Darius Hamilton - DE - New Jersey
6. Ellis McCarthy - DT - California
7. John Theus - OT - Florida
8. Stefon Diggs - WR - Maryland
9. Nelson Agholor - RB - Florida
12. Aziz Shittu - DT - California (Stanford)
13. Noah Spence - DE - Pennsylvania
15. Andrus Peat - OT - Arizona
18. Kyle Kalis - OG - Ohio (Ohio State)
19. Gunner Kiel - QB - Indiana
22. Joshua Garnett - OT - Washington
23. Arik Armstead - DT - California
28. Kyle Murphy - OT - California
29. Tommy Schutt - DT - Illinois
31. Zach Banner - OT - Washington
32. Durron Neal - WR - Missouri
34. Erik Magnuson - OT - California
36. Jonathan Taylor - DT - Georgia
37. Devin Fuller - QB - New Jersey
38. Avery Young - OT - Florida
40. Zach Kline - QB - California
41. Yuri Wright - CB - New Jersey
43. Avery Johnson - WR - Florida
45. Jordan Simmons - OG - California
46. Jabari Ruffin - LB - California (USC)
47. Geno Smith - CB - Georgia
48. Ifeadi Odenigbo - DE - Ohio
51. Tee Shepard - CB - California (Notre Dame)
54. Kendall Sanders - CB - Oklahoma (Oklahoma State)
55. Keith Marshall - RB - North Carolina
56. Jordan Jenkins - DE - Georgia
61. Se'von Pittman - DE - Ohio
64. Ronald Darby - CB - Maryland (Notre Dame)
65. Deon Bush - CB - Florida
66. Dominique Wheeler - WR - Texas
67. Jarron Jones - DT - New York (Penn State)
69. Chris Muller - OG - Pennsylvania
72. Zeke Pike - QB - Kentucky (Auburn)
74. D.J. Foster - CB - Arizona
75. Brian Poole - S - Florida
77. Kwon Alexander - LB - Alabama
81. Derrick Woods - WR - California
82. John Michael McGee - OG - Texas
84. Taylor McNamara - TE - California
86. Adolphus Washington - DE - Ohio
87. Royce Jenkins-Stone - LB - Michigan (Michigan)
88. Greg McMullen - DE - Ohio
93. Dwayne Stanford - WR - Ohio
94. JaQuay Williams - WR - Georgia
95. Vince Biegel - LB - Wisconsin (Wisconsin)
96. Jordan Payton - WR - California (USC)

You can compare this to the Scout 300, the Tom Lemming Top 100, and the 247 Sports 247.

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Pharaoh Brown, Wolverine

Pharaoh Brown (left) is multi-talented (image via Cleveland.com)

Lyndhurst, OH, defensive end Pharaoh Brown committed to Michigan on Saturday.  He joined Mario Ojemudia, a fellow defensive end from Farmington Hills, who committed on the same day.  Brown chose Michigan over offers from Arizona State, Boston College, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisville, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia, among others.

Brown is listed as a 6'6", 220-pounder.  He plays both quarterback and tight end for the Brush Arcs, which is a very odd combination.  I honestly don't know if I've seen a high school quarterback double as a defensive lineman.  And this comes on the heels of a class that included Desmond Morgan, a quarterback/linebacker from western Michigan.  Scout ranks Brown as a 3-star prospect and the #45 defensive end in the country, while 247 Sports ranks him as a 4-star and the #10 tight end.

Rivals says that Brown is a strongside defensive end, but I disagree with that.  He's pretty skinny at only 220 with that height.  And if you look at him, he doesn't seem to have a whole lot of junk in his trunk.  Sometimes you can tell whether a guy has the frame to add weight by looking at his hindquarters, and there's just not much there.  The kid should be able to bulk up to 250 or so just by developing his upper body and thickening up, but counting on him to be a 280-pound 5-tech defensive end is asking a lot.

As for his play on the field, he's another kid who's extremely raw.  It's okay that Michigan's coaches are taking a risk with an undeveloped player here, because there's plenty of talent ahead of him in the form of Craig Roh, Jibreel Black, and Brennen Beyer.  Brown is long and lean with good change-of-direction skills and the ability to explode into passers.  He runs very well (my guess is he would be in the 4.6-4.7 range, since I haven't found any 40 times for him) and should be able to pressure the width of the pocket based solely on his speed.

Brown does, however, have a tendency to play very high.  That might be a problem for him, especially while he tries to bulk up over the next few years.  At 6'6" he's probably taller than just about everyone he faces in high school, but nowhere in his highlights have I seen an awareness of pad level or an attempt to use leverage. Part of that is probably because his speed prevents him from having to outmuscle opponents very often, but that technique will have to be learned before he gets on the field in college.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison told Brown that he would be playing the hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position.  Not that I expect it, but there's always the possibility that he could play tight end, too.

I like the Brown recruitment.  He's clearly a superior athlete, and with his size and speed, the sky is the limit.  There are several areas that need to be honed (size, strength, shedding blocks, pad level, etc.), but the depth at weakside defensive end gives the coaches the luxury of recruiting a project like Brown.  Hopefully the kid is able to harness that talent, but all of Michigan's eggs aren't in Brown's basket.  Low risk, high reward.  Furthermore, he's a quarterback.  I like kids who play quarterback in high school, even if they end up on defense.  Quarterbacks understand the game, because they have to think the game on every single snap.  They also tend to be leaders, because they've been put in front of a team, coaches have said "You've got to set an example," and other players have been looking up to them for years.  That's not to say that every quarterback is a great leader, but most seem that way.

This gives Michigan 10 commitments for 2012, with a projected number of 17.  However, that number will probably increase in the coming months due to a small trickle of attrition.

TTB Rating: 82

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mario Ojemudia, Wolverine

Farmington Hills (MI) Harrison defensive end Mario Ojemudia

Farmington Hills, MI, defensive end Mario Ojemudia committed to Michigan on Saturday.  He picked the Wolverines over Central Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Missouri, Stanford, and Syracuse.  Those offers add up to a 4-star ranking on Scout (who rank him as a DT because they're napping) and a 3-star ranking on 247 Sports.  Rivals and ESPN zzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

Rivals lists him at 6'3", 215 lbs., which I'm going to accept because I don't want to believe that the coaches would recruit a 6'1" defensive end (the measurement 247 Sports gives him).  His Rivals profile also credits him with a 4.65-second forty yard dash, a 4.43 shuttle time, and a 30" vertical.  He also benches 275 lbs. and squats 475.  As for on-field statistics, Ojemudia made 103 tackles, 6 sacks, and 2 fumble recoveries as a junior in 2011.

Along with his Harrison teammates, Ojemudia was presumed to be a Michigan State lean early in the process.  However, he's the second one to drop for the Wolverines, following tight end/H-back Devin Funchess.  The third Harrison teammate being pursued by Michigan is wide receiver Aaron Burbridge.  Harrison won the state championship in 2010 with a 14-0 record and will send at least three players to FBS football programs, so there's some talent in that program.

He will likely be headed for the weakside defensive end position currently inhabited by Craig Roh and Jibreel Black.  He might get up to 225 or 230 lbs. by his senior season, but he'll have to add even more weight before he gets a chance to play in college.  Both Roh and Black are in the 250-260 lb. range.  Barring unforeseen circumstances, he's almost certainly headed for a redshirt in 2012.

As for Ojemudia's talents, I think he has a long way to go.  He mostly played defensive tackle and occasionally rushed off the edge, so it's a little bit difficult to project him going forward.  He's obviously athletically superior to his opponents, but 215 lbs. is fairly small for a defensive tackle and he's a tough matchup for opposing offensive linemen.  He's quicker and stronger than those guys, even if he is giving up some size to them.  He also runs pretty fluidly and has good speed, although it remains to be seen how well he will run when he adds another 25-30 pounds.

However, I have some reservations about his athleticism.  First of all, the talent level and coaching across the board at Harrison makes it look like opposing teams aren't really concentrating on blocking Ojemudia.  Double-teams seem to be scarce, and his highlight film is full of him taking advantage of awkward blocking schemes or plays in which it seems that nobody is assigned to him at all.  Secondly, he doesn't use his hands very well (or at all, really), instead using his strength and quickness to bull his way past blockers.  That works in high school sometimes, but it won't work in college.  He will have plenty of opportunities to learn to use those hands with noted defensive line coaches Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison on staff; he also seems to have a large wingspan, which might compensate for his relatively short stature for a defensive end.  And third, I don't see consistency in his technique.  Sometimes he plays low; sometimes he doesn't.  Sometimes he has a quick first step; sometimes he barely gets out of his stance before an offensive lineman gets on him.

I have previously mentioned Tim Jamison as a comparison for Ojemudia, but as I went back and watched some clips of Michigan recruits in recent years, I think Adam Patterson might be more apt.  Patterson (255 lbs. or so) was bigger than Ojemudia in high school, but he was another guy whose technique was inconsistent and whose size and relative quickness overwhelmed opponents at times.  Patterson played a fair amount as a senior in 2010, but poorly and as an undersized nose tackle.

I'm not overly impressed with Ojemudia's film, but that negativity can be mitigated somewhat by the realization that Harrison products have turned out to be pretty good college players in recent years.  Over the past decade or so, Coach Herrington has turned out players like Michigan safety Charles Stewart and Michigan State "stars" Drew Stanton, Agim Shabaj, and Mark Dell.  Stewart was a nondescript defensive back for the Wolverines (83 career tackles, 1 interception), but the other three were solid.  Stanton was drafted by the Detroit Lions, Shabaj notched 29 catches for 308 yards in 2004 (before being declared academically ineligible for his senior year), and Dell had 133 receptions, 2,136 yards, and 12 touchdowns before going undrafted in last weekend's NFL Draft.

If Rich Rodriguez had offered Ojemudia this early, I would probably be annoyed.  But I'm admittedly still in a honeymoon period with Hoke and Mattison, both of whom have solid track records with defensive linemen.  So I guess "guardedly optimistic" would be a good description for my feelings about Ojemudia's commitment. He should have plenty of time to sit on the bench and learn how to play the game.  Roh will be a senior in 2012, Black will be a junior, and Brennen Beyer should be a sophomore or redshirt freshman at that point.

TTB Rating: 67

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