Tuesday, December 31, 2013

MLive: Kyle Kalis opens up about injuries, frustration

Nick Baumgardner has a piece on Kyle Kalis, why he got benched, and whether he thought about transferring.

Hit the jump for Kate Upton.

Review of 2007 Recruiting: The Quarterbacks

Jimmy Clausen, folks.
Ryan Mallett
High school: Texarkana (TX) Texas
Ratings: Rivals 5-star, #2 QB
College: Michigan Arkansas
Other notable offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida State, Texas
Scoop: Mallett committed to Michigan as the heir apparent to Chad Henne, and the youngster got a chance to play early and often.  Henne suffered a couple nagging injuries, and Mallett stepped in to go 61/141 (43.1%) for 892 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions as a true freshman. He might have been on his way out the door already, but the hiring of Rich Rodriguez after the 2007 season didn't help matters.  Mallett transferred to Arkansas, sitting out the 2008 season as a result.  As the starter for the Razorbacks in 2009 and 2010, he went a combined 491/814 for 7,296 yards 62 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions.  He was drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, but he has played in just four games, all in 2012. Altogether, he's 1/4 for 17 yards and 1 interception, with 8 carries for -9 yards.

Jimmy Clausen
High school: Westlake Village (CA) Oaks Christian
 Rivals 5-star, #1 QB, #1 overall
College: Notre Dame
Other notable offers: South Carolina, USC
Scoop: Clausen committed in September 2006 and enrolled early at Notre Dame in January 2007. He was starting by the second game of 2007, the earliest freshman QB to start at Notre Dame. He eventually started nine games that year, finishing with a 56.3% completion percentage, 7 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. The unquestioned starter going into 2008, Clausen started every game and completed 60.9% of his passes for 3,172 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. Improving yet again, he become a 68% passer in 2009 with 3,722 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year and many expected him to be a high first round pick, but he fell to #48 overall in the 2010 draft, going to the Carolina Panthers. He was given ten starts as a rookie, going 157/299 (52.5%), 1558 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. The Panthers hitched their franchise to Cam Newton, relegating Clausen to the bench, where he has spent the last two-plus seasons. They released him in August 2013 but re-signed him before placing him on injured reserve.

Peter Lalich
High school: Springfield (VA) West Springfield
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #5 pro-style QB
College: Virginia
Other notable offers: Miami, UCLA
Scoop: Lalich committed to Virginia in April 2006. He played sparingly as a freshman and sophomore in 2007 and 2008, compiling 74 completions in 135 attempts (54.8%) for 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. However, several alcohol incidents resulted in a transfer to Oregon State, where he redshirted during the 2009 season due to NCAA transfer rules. After yet another incident, he transferred to California University in Pennsylvania. As the starter in 2011, he threw for 3,725 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. In an injury-shortened 2012, he threw for 2,413 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He was not taken in the 2013 NFL Draft and appears not to be involved in professional football at this time.

Mike Paulus
High school: Syracuse (NY) Christian Brothers
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #4 pro-style QB, #82 overall
College: North Carolina
Other notable offers: Alabama, Miami, USC
Scoop: Paulus, the brother of former Duke basketball player and Syracuse quarterback Greg Pauls, committed in April 2006. He redshirted as a true freshman and then went 4/13 for 33 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions as a redshirt freshman in 2008. After sitting on the bench behind T.J. Yates in 2009, Paulus transferred to FCS school William & Mary prior to the 2010 campaign. He went 88/142 for 883 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions while playing a backup role. Once again a backup as a fifth year senior in 2011, he went just 28/72 for 267 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions. He now works at VCU in the athletic office.

In Lloyd Carr's final full class, he made offers to some very questionable people and football players. Mallett played one season at Michigan before transferring, and while he had a very good college career at Arkansas, he was perhaps not the greatest leader. Clausen was also not an ideal character throughout his college career, although he parlayed it into a decent result on draft day. Lalich and Paulus both stunk it up at the higher levels of college football and then had mixed success after moving down a level.

Biggest miss: Clausen. Like him or not - and I don't - Clausen had some physical talent and would have fit well with Carr's pro-style offense. Either way, the impending hire of Rich Rodriguez would have either resulted in a transfer for Clausen or a square peg in a round hole for a few years. In fact, none of these players would have fit what Rodriguez wanted to do, so it's quite possible that a commitment from any of the four would have resulted in a very similar situation for Rodriguez.

Biggest bust: Paulus. Ultimately, Paulus didn't find success at any level. As the #82 prospect in the country, he threw only 13 passes in his FBS college career.

Best in class: Cam Newton. The 2007 class was surprisingly devoid of any surefire stud quarterbacks, and even Newton had some bumps in the road before finding success (legal trouble at Florida, playing at Blinn Community College, an ineligibility investigation). However, Newton became a Heisman winner, a national champion, a #1 draft pick, and is having a solid career for the Carolina Panthers. Other options include Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, and Kellen Moore.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Detroit News: Fitz Toussaint says Michigan linemen simply need time to develop

Fitzgerald Toussaint talked about the development of the offensive line, his postseason plans, and the future of the freshmen running backs.

Hit the jump for a girl with nice abs.

Review of 2013 Season Predictions

Jeremy Gallon set several records this season.
Here's a link to my 2013 Season Predictions, which were posted at the end of August. This might be more fun for me than for you, but it's interesting to me to see how things played out this year.

Prediction: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 900 yards
Actual: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 658 yards
Thoughts: The offensive line was worse than anyone expected it to be, and Toussaint struggled to average 3.5 yards/carry. The next highest total was Devin Gardner's 483 yards.

Prediction: Jeremy Gallon, 1100 yards
Actual: Jeremy Gallon, 1373 yards
Thoughts: Gallon had an outstanding season and goes down in the record books with the top yardage output by any receiver in Michigan history, surpassing Braylon Edwards's 1,330 yards in 2004. I expected him to have a very good season due to the Gardner-Gallon chemistry, but this was more explosive than anyone probably envisioned.

Prediction: James Ross III, 90 tackles
Actual: Raymon Taylor, 86 tackles
Thoughts: It's bad news when a cornerback leads the team in tackles, especially when that tackle total is so high. Opposing quarterbacks completed a lot of passes in front Taylor. Ross missed the second half of the Iowa game and the entire Ohio State game, so I'm pretty confident that he would have led the team in tackles if he had remained healthy.

Prediction: Frank Clark, 8 sacks
Actual: Frank Clark and Cameron Gordon, 5 sacks (tie)
Thoughts: Clark started off slowly before turning on the jets a little bit in the middle of the season, but his season was somewhat of a disappointment considering all the offseason hype. Gordon started off quickly but lost some playing time once Jake Ryan returned midseason.

Prediction: Taylor Lewan and Jeremy Gallon
Actual: Taylor Lewan was chosen by the Coaches and the Media. Devin Funchess and Blake Countess were chosen by the Media only.
Thoughts: Lewan was an obvious choice, and Gallon was robbed after conference finishes of #2 in receptions, #2 in yards, and #3 in touchdowns. Funchess earned his accolades as a tight end despite playing mostly at wide receiver, and Countess might be the Comeback Player of the Year in the conference after tearing his ACL in 2012. Nobody else on the team really had an argument to earn First Team honors.

Prediction: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 12 touchdowns
Actual: Fitzgerald Toussaint, 13 touchdowns
Thoughts: Toussaint ended up scoring 78 points on 13 rushing touchdowns, while I thought he would score 10 rushing and 2 receiving touchdowns, leaving him with 72 points. Gallon was next with 54 total points.

Prediction: Jehu Chesson
Actual: Jake Butt
Thoughts: Chesson had an okay year with several devastating blocks, some nice plays on special teams coverage, and 15 catches for 221 yards and 1 touchdown. But I think Butt deserves this award as he improved as a blocker and became a reliable receiving target with 20 catches for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns.

 James Ross
Actual: I don't even know who to pick here. Perhaps the answer here is Blake Countess, but I don't believe I even thought of him as being in the running since he was a starter as a true freshman in 2011. You could probably make an argument for Ross, Cam Gordon, or Frank Clark, who are the three guys I mentioned considering back in August.
Thoughts: Ross nearly led the team in tackles and might have surpassed 100 if he had been healthy. Gordon and Clark tied for the team lead in sacks. I don't really see any other legitimate options here, although we saw glimpses of what Chris Wormley, Willie Henry, Ben Gedeon, and Jarrod Wilson can do.

Prediction: Jack Miller
Actual: Jack Miller?
Thoughts: Again, I'm not sure whom to pick here. Miller started the first several games at center before being benched, never to see the field again. There was lots of disappointment to go around due to the underachieving offense (Devin Gardner, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Taylor Lewan, Kyle Kalis, even Devin Funchess). I guess Miller wins because he was really the only starter to get permanently benched, but I'm open to arguments.

 Jarrod Wilson
Actual: Courtney Avery
Thoughts: This is another tough choice, but Wilson made some nice plays early in the season. Avery proved to be kind of a lost cause at cornerback and safety, where he didn't really make one significant play all season except half of a sack against Michigan State. Otherwise, he was invisible except when guys were running past him. He went from a good nickel corner in 2011 to an okay one in 2012 to a liability at two different positions in 2013.

Central Michigan:
Notre Dame: Win
Akron: Win
UConn: Win
Minnesota: Win
Penn State: Win Loss
Indiana: Win
Michigan State: Win Loss
Nebraska: Loss
Northwestern: Win
Iowa: Win Loss
Ohio State: Loss
Prediction: 10-2
Actual: 7-5 (7-6 after bowl game) 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

SB Nation: Buffalo Wild Wings chooses UFC over its own bowl game

Apparently, if you went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl between Michigan and Kansas State, you had to put up with mostly a UFC fight. This does not really surprise me, since UFC fights are huge at BWW where I live.

Hit the jump for a girl with a dry erase board.

Kansas State 31, Michigan 14

Quarterback Shane Morris got his first career start and did a solid job.
Shane Morris looked halfway decent. Don't get me wrong - I've always had pretty high hopes for Morris. But I expected him to look a little more high-strung in this game. Offensive coordinator Al Borges did a smart thing by starting Morris off with a bunch of screen passes. Unfortunately, by the time Borges thought about pushing the ball down the field, it was because Michigan was down and Kansas State knew it. One point about screens is that you want to suck the defense up and eventually throw over the top, but Borges wasted the opportunity. Morris finished the game 24/38 for 196 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception, plus he had 4 carries for 43 yards. You could tell his timing just wasn't there with the receivers and the offense. Some of his throws were late, some screens were slightly off target, and some of his passes were thrown too hard to give his receivers much of a chance to catch them. All in all, he played well enough that Michigan might have been able to eke out a win if they had semblance of a running game.

No semblance of a running game. Oh, yeah. About that. Well, despite what I think is a mediocre group of interior defenders, Michigan couldn't get any push up front. The young offensive linemen weren't whiffing on blocks like they were early in the season, but the Kansas State defensive tackles were controlling the line of scrimmage and letting the linebackers and safeties clean up. Michigan's coaching staff seemed to realize their struggles up front, and despite having a fair amount of success with the fake bubble screen draw in the previous couple games, the play was basically abandoned for a couple straight-up inside zones and a bunch of reverses, sweeps, touch passes, etc.

Rich Rodriguez stopped by to coach the defense. I like defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, and since I'm not an idiot, I don't think Mattison should be fired. But I thought this was a pretty dismal effort for what is actually a solid defense. The players just didn't seem inspired to dominate, and the game plan was poor. The guy you must  stop on Kansas State's offense is Tyler Lockett, and he abused Raymon Taylor time and time again (plus Blake Countess at least once). When he was singled up early in the game, I saw the formation and said "Slant." And there it was. When he was singled up later on the same drive, I saw the formation with Raymon Taylor lined up inside and said "Slant and out." Sure enough, Lockett beat Taylor by faking the slant and then beating Taylor with an out route. Lockett needed to be bracketed, and the corners needed safety help over the top. Elsewhere, guys like Cam Gordon were losing contain on the passing quarterback, as if they didn't know he could run a little bit. When I was watching film leading up to the bowl game, I saw Kansas State as a mediocre power running team with one good receiver, and they were still able to impose their will on Michigan.

Tyler Lockett is good. After seeing Lockett's highlights from the other twelve games and then watching him in this one, I think Lockett (10 catches, 116 yards, 3 touchdowns; 2 kickoff returns for 74 yards) could play for any team in the country. It was frustrating to watch him beat a fairly good duo of corners in Taylor and Countess, but you have to tip your cap to a player like that. Lockett's going to get his yards, but you can't let the other players beat you. Unfortunately, running back John Hubert (15 carries, 80 yards, 1 touchdown), quarterback Jake Waters (21/27 for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air, plus 12 carries for 42 yards), and the defense beat Michigan, too.

Ryan Mueller is just a guy. I mentioned this before the game, but I was not impressed with what I saw from Mueller on film. The Big 12's Defensive Lineman of the Year had just 1 tackle against Michigan despite playing against the Wolverines' second-best offensive tackle and chasing a freshman quarterback.

The running back situation. Redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes earned the nod at running back and turned in a nondescript performance. He caught 3 passes for 22 yards and had 1 carry for -1 yard, the latter of which seemed to be him just tripping and falling to the turf of his own volition. I believe Michigan's game plan involved trying to get the edge against a team that the coaching staff felt was too stout up the middle for the interior offensive line to handle. Unfortunately, Michigan has mainly recruited inside runners during Hoke's tenure (Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith, Thomas Rawls). Without a good tailback option, Borges tried to hit Gallon on jet sweeps and reverses, Devin Funchess on a double reverse, etc. When your pocket passer of a quarterback leads the team in rushing, and your running backs combine for 8 carries and 13 yards, that's a terrible recipe for success. It didn't matter whether it was Hayes, Green, Smith, Rawls, or Toussaint running behind that line, though - there was just nowhere to go.

No hurry-up offense. Michigan didn't really go to a hurry-up offense until their final drive, which was extremely frustrating. Would it have made a difference in the final outcome? Probably not. But it seemed like Borges and head coach Brady Hoke had basically decided to give up and try to develop the kids for next year. Maybe they just didn't feel their freshman quarterback could handle running a two-minute drill for such an extended period, but at least give it a shot. Even if you chuck the ball deep and it gets intercepted, at least you tried. The only play where Michigan truly attempted to go over the top was on a pass to Jeremy Gallon where he got interfered with after it seemed like Morris and the receivers thought they had a free play when a Kansas State player jumped (he didn't cross the line of scrimmage). When your quarterback is known for his cannon arm, you would think at least three attempts downfield would be warranted.

Head(s) should roll. Hoke and athletic director David Brandon need to make some tough decisions this offseason, and at least one staff change needs to take place. Hoke is a loyal guy, but I think Brandon will insist because he's a business-oriented guy and needs to make donors happy. Running backs coach Fred Jackson isn't the problem, but he might retire whether he's asked to or not. Offensive line coach Darrell Funk would seem to be the easiest guy to axe, because his position group was the worst on the team. Offensive coordinator Al Borges does things like score 41 points against Ohio State and call plays that result in record-setting performances (Gallon's game against Indiana, Gallon's season receiving record, Gardner's statistics against Ohio State and Indiana, etc.), so he's a tougher choice. I also think a guy like wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski might be miffed if he gets passed up for a new offensive coordinator. Rumors are that secondary coach Curt Mallory has been looking for a head coaching job at a smaller school, too. There could be a lot of staff upheaval in the coming months.

Congratulations to Jeremy Gallon. Gallon surpassed former Michigan receiver Braylon Edwards for two records in this game. Gallon caught a pass in 39 consecutive games (Edwards was at 38), and he also set the single-season receiving yardage record with 1,373 yards (Edwards had 1,330 in 2004). He had 9 catches for 89 yards in this game, 1 carry for -5 yards, and a pass to Justice Hayes for a two-point conversion, hearkening back to his high school days as a single-wing quarterback at Apopka High School.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Grantland: The Year in Prodigies

Andrew Sharp takes a look at the tradition of The Next Big Thing, including Vincent Smith-beheading Jadeveon Clowney.
Hit the jump for some girl with interesting attire.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Final Thoughts

I have completed in-depth previews of each of the position comparisons over the past couple weeks, and they're more exhaustive than anything else I've read in the blogosphere. I had hoped to do some play breakdowns, but the holidays and traveling got in the way. Here are the links to each section:

Running backs
Wide receivers and tight ends
Offensive line
Defensive line
Defensive backs
Special teams

The most significant injury news (and a change from the above preview) is that Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner will miss the bowl game with a broken foot, which he suffered in the Ohio State game. His replacement will be true freshman Shane Morris, who is 5/9 for 65 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception in very limited time this year. Obviously, this will be his first start. Morris came out of high school with a big arm, but he's not the most polished quarterback to come out of high school. He tends to stare down his receivers, and his accuracy has been questioned. In high school - even in 7-on-7 tournaments - the lefty seemed to throw almost exclusively to his left. I would expect Kansas State defensive coordinator Tom Hayes to blitz Morris endlessly, considering he's just a pup and, oh by the way, Michigan's offensive line has struggled mightily this year. That's a bad combination if you're a Wolverines fan.

In other injury news, Kansas State will get perhaps their best player back in the form of safety Ty Zimmerman. He was listed as questionable for the bowl game after missing the final two regular season games.

  • Kansas State has no players from the state of Michigan.
  • Linebackers coach Mike Cox is named Mike Cox(!). Also, he spent four years as Michigan State's linebackers coach (2003-2006).
  • Head coach Bill Snyder's son is special teams coach and associate head coach Sean Snyder. Sean Snyder's son (and thus Bill's grandson) is redshirt junior walk-on linebacker Tate Snyder. Tate doesn't play much, but it's still pretty cool to have three generations of Snyders on one team.
Michigan and Kansas State have never faced each other in football.

  • Kansas State blitzes Shane Morris non-stop to end up with 4 sacks. It would be more, but Morris gets antsy and chucks the ball in the air to be intercepted 3 times.
  • Michigan's competency in the running game continues to improve after the bowl practices and against a mediocre group of interior defenders for the Wildcats. The running backs combine for 28 carries, 160 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
  • The Wolverines' defense starts to wear out in the fourth quarter, allowing KSU quarterback Daniel Sams to power the ball down the field.
  • I would have predicted a Michigan win with Gardner playing, but . . . 
  • Kansas State 24, Michigan 17

Friday, December 27, 2013

Grantland: College Football Bowl Watching Fact Sheet

Holly Anderson gives a bare-bones look at each of this year's bowl games.

What's better than the linked article's picture of MSU players with roses? Daria Konovalova in her undergarments.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Special Teams

Kansas State returner Tramaine Thompson is dangerous with the ball in his hands.
Starters: The Wolverines are in pretty bad shape when it comes to special teams, but it could be worse. Fifth year senior placekicker Brendan Gibbons has been ruled out of the bowl game with a groin injury, and senior punter Will Hagerup has been suspended for the entire season, so all the kicking duties will be up to junior Matt Wile (6'2", 216 lbs.). Wile is pretty experienced for being a backup punter and kicker, but when it comes to kicking field goals, he hasn't been in many pressure situations. Wile is 1/3 on field goals this year, 5/5 on extra points, and averages 40.6 yards/punt. He's been the kickoff guy all year and gets a 49.3% touchback rate. Sophomore Dennis Norfleet (5'7", 169 lbs.) has 36 kickoff returns for 850 yards and a 23.6-yard average. Fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon (5'8", 184 lbs.) and senior Drew Dileo (5'10", 180 lbs.) have combined for 12 punt returns and 76 yards, so they're not much of a threat.
Backups: Redshirt freshman Kenny Allen (6'3", 226 lbs.) will be the backup kicker and punter, and he has 1 punt this year for 51 yards. Dileo has averaged 19.2 yards on 5 returns, and redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson (6'3", 196 lbs.) has averaged 18 yards on 2 returns.

Starters: The Wildcats have two excellent returners. One is fifth year senior punt returner Tramaine Thompson (5'8", 167 lbs.), who has averaged 20.2 yards/return this year with a long of 79 yards; teams respect him so much that they've only given him a chance to return 9 punts. Junior Tyler Lockett (5'11", 175 lbs.) is the kick returner with a 25.5-yard average, and while he hasn't yet returned a kickoff for a touchdown in 2013, he had 2 scores in each of the past two seasons. Redshirt junior Mark Krause (5'11", 218 lbs.) averages 41.3 yards/punt and has landed 17 inside the 20-yard line. Redshirt sophomore Jack Cantele (6'0", 193 lbs.) is 11/13 on field goals and 40/41 on extra points, but he was injured prior to KSU's final regular season game and may not be back for the bowl game.
Backups: Thompson has returned 2 kickoffs this year, but one was for a 96-yard touchdown. Backup kicker Ian Patterson (5'11", 233 lbs.), a redshirt freshman, is 2/3 on field goals and 8/8 on extra points; he has also taken over kickoff duties, where he has a touchback rate almost twice as high as Cantele's.

The Wolverines haven't been particularly strong on special teams under Brady Hoke, but they haven't been terrible, either. They did block a punt and return it for a touchdown against Central Michigan, and the game-tying end-of-regulation field goal against Northwestern was the #4 play in the Big Ten this year, according to BTN Live. Unfortunately, battle-tested Brendan Gibbons is out, and Wile has been erratic as a kicker and as a punter. Michigan's return games have been exciting but fruitless with Norfleet, Gallon, and Dileo. Meanwhile, Kansas State has a couple all-conference-caliber returners in Lockett and Thompson, and Cantele is a solid kicker if healthy. The Wolverines did allow a punt return touchdown to South Carolina's Ace Sanders in last year's bowl game, so they've been susceptible to special teams breakdowns at times. Wile might be able to negate Lockett's return abilities because he's pretty good at kicking touchbacks, and Michigan has some aggressive players on punt coverage, but overall, this is looking like an advantage for . . .

ADVANTAGE: Kansas State

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Detroit News: Jabrill Peppers sets sights on more titles, Charles Woodson's #2

Sam Webb profiles Michigan's banner recruit for the 2014 class, defensive back Jabrill Peppers.

Hit the jump for a girl with interesting jewelry.

Recruiting Update: December 25, 2013

Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake wide receiver George Campbell, Jr. may not be donning those gloves again.
Chicago (IL) Simeon offensive tackle Denzel Ward decommitted from Purdue. Ward was committed to Michigan at one point, moved to Florida without telling the coaches, decommitted from the Wolverines, then committed to Purdue, and is now a free agent again considering Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Florida, and Syracuse. I would hate to wait on him at a restaurant.

Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake wide receiver George Campbell, Jr. decommitted from Michigan. Campbell had been committed to the Wolverines since this summer, but he supposedly has some family members asking him to reconsider and stay closer to home. Campbell has a wide receiver teammate headed to Clemson, a quarterback teammate headed to South Florida, and an offensive lineman (Mason Cole) headed to Michigan. Cole will enroll at Michigan in January and may become less of a presence for Campbell, which is probably not a good sign for the Wolverines. The vibe from recruiting experts is that while Michigan will continue to pursue him and remain an option, things are not looking good for him to come to Ann Arbor. Clemson and Florida seem to loom large, and with Florida's terrible offense this year, I'm looking more at Clemson and their explosive offense as a likely destination.

La Mirada (CA) La Mirada tight end Tyler Luatua committed to Notre Dame. Luatua was vaguely interested in Michigan early in the process, but the decision reportedly came down to the Fighting Irish or the Alabama Crimson Tide. Luatua is the teammate of 2015 quarterback Kevin Dillman, who has been in contact with Michigan and may be an offer candidate down the road.

Monroeville (PA) Gateway safety Montae Nicholson committed to Michigan State. Nicholson was strongly considering Michigan at one point, but the Wolverines told him a couple months ago that they were no longer recruiting players at his position. Gateway seems to send a lot of players to Ohio State or Pitt, so the Spartans got their foot in the door of a pretty good talent pipeline. I was high on Nicholson as a strong safety type, so it will be interesting to see how he develops in East Lansing.

Bolingbrook (IL) Bolingbrook cornerback Parrker Westphal committed to Northwestern. Westphal was at one time considered a heavy Michigan lean, and various recruiting gurus thought he would be the next guy to commit to Michigan . . . but he never did. He seemed to cool on Michigan a little bit, and the reverse also seemed to be true. It was virtually the same situation as Grand Rapids (MI) Christian center Tommy Doles, although Westphal's recruitment dragged out longer than Doles's.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Democrat and Chronicle: Buffalo Bills get big boost on D from Alan Branch

Alan Branch seems to have found a home with the Buffalo Bills after bouncing around the league for a few years.

Hit the jump for a selfie.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Defensive Backs

Safety Ty Zimmerman is a potential game-changer at safety if he's healthy.
 The headliner of this group is redshirt sophomore Blake Countess (5'10", 182 lbs.), who's tied for #5 in the country with 6 picks and is #3 in return yards with 169, including a touchdown. He also has 42 tackles and 4 pass breakups to his name. Countess starts on the outside but will slide into the slot when Michigan goes to its nickel packages. The other starter at corner is junior Raymon Taylor (5'10", 183 lbs.), who's tied for the team lead with 81 tackles and has 4 picks and 9 pass breakups of his own. Taylor racks up a lot of tackles because teams attack him instead of Countess, but he's a solid tackler when receivers catch the ball near him. The other sure starter in the defensive backfield is fifth year senior strong safety Thomas Gordon (5'11", 213 lbs.), a guy who lacks speed and isn't a headhunter but who usually seems to be in the right spot; he has 49 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups this year despite missing two games. The likely starter at free safety is sophomore Jarrod Wilson (6'2", 200 lbs.), a potentially violent hitter who sometimes gets caught out of position; he has 45 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and 2 pass breakups.
Backups: Wilson has lost some playing time to senior Courtney Avery (5'11", 175 lbs.), who has bounced back and forth between corner, slot corner, and safety throughout his career; he has 30 tackles and .5 sacks on the year but looks to have lost a step after an injury over the summer and has been inconsistent. Redshirt junior Josh Furman (6'2", 202 lbs.) is a linebacker in a safety's body, and he has just 11 tackles and 1 pass breakup on the year, despite earning two starts and a variety of backup duty. He can be taken advantage of through the air. At cornerback, when Countess slides into the slot, he's replaced by one of two freshmen: Channing Stribling (6'2", 171 lbs., 15 tackles) or Jourdan Lewis (5'10", 170 lbs., 17 tackles, 2 pass breakups). Whoever has the best week of practice is the one who earns the role that game, so we'll just have to wait and see who gets the nod.

Starters: Fifth year senior safety Ty Zimmerman (6'1", 204 lbs.) is the leader of the group and has been a First Team All-Big 12 selection in both 2012 and 2013; he has 70 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions (2 returned for touchdowns), and 4 pass breakups this season. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, he missed the final two regular season games and is questionable for the bowl game. Sophomore fellow safety Dante Barnett (6'1", 186 lbs.) has 67 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 3 pass breakups. The Wildcats spend a lot of time in a nickel package, so the fifth defensive back - a safety/linebacker hybrid - is redshirt junior Randall Evans (6'0", 190 lbs.), who has 59 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 10 pass breakups. The cornerbacks are solid but did not earn any all-conference accolades. Fifth year senior Kip Daily (5'11", 180 lbs.) has 47 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups on the year, while fifth year senior Dorrian Roberts (5'10", 168 lbs.) has 37 stops, 2.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, and 8 pass breakups. Roberts is rather inexperienced after playing in junior college for two years, redshirting in 2011, and not seeing the field at all in 2012.
Backups: Redshirt junior Dylan Schellenberg (6'0", 189 lbs.) has been starting in Zimmerman's stead, and he has 19 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 interception on the year. Fifth year senior Carl Miles, Jr. (5'11", 190 lbs.) has 6 tackles and 1 pass breakup on the season, but he and the other backups are rarely used. Other than subbing Evans in and out for a linebacker, the Wildcats go with their starting unit almost the whole game.

Michigan is #62 in the nation giving up 238 yards/game through the air, but much of that is due to teams throwing instead of running on a stout run defense; they're #32 in passer efficiency rating defense. Kansas State is #24 in the latter category and tied for #47 nationally at 222 yards allowed/game. Two of KSU's worst three games against the pass were in recent games against TCU and Oklahoma before righting the ship against a pathetic Kansas Jayhawks squad. They rank #20 in the country with 16 interceptions on the year. If Zimmerman is unable to go, the Wildcats are without any real playmakers in the defensive backfield, though. Michigan is #17 in interceptions with 17 this year, and the two starting corners are the strength of the backfield with 10 interceptions and 13 pass breakups between them. The safety play leaves a little bit to be desired between a lack of discipline (Wilson) and athleticism (Gordon). Despite having a better defensive unit against the pass, the better group of defensive backs play for . . .


Monday, December 23, 2013

Bleacher Report: How a College Football Program Conducts a Coaching Search

I'm a not a big fan of Bleacher Report, but I did find this article pretty insightful about how coaching searches are done.

Hit the jump for a girl with a skirt.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Linebackers

Blake Slaughter (#53) helped seal a win against TCU with an interception and 39-yard return
Starters: Sophomore weakside linebacker James Ross III (6'1", 220 lbs.) leads the unit in tackles and is tied for the team lead despite missing the last 1.5 games with an injury; he has 81 stops, 5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Quick and decisive, Ross makes plays by beating blockers to the point of attack, but he's listed as "questionable" for the bowl game. Junior middle linebacker Desmond Morgan (6'1", 227 lbs.) is a thumper despite not being particularly big, and he has 73 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 highlight-reel interception this season. Morgan isn't the fastest linebacker around, but he can hold his ground in the run game. The "star" of the group is actually redshirt junior outside linebacker Jake Ryan (6'3", 240 lbs.), who has just 26 tackles and 4 tackles for loss; he tore his ACL in the spring and returned halfway through the season, so he has flashed his old athleticism but hasn't performed up to the standard he set in 2012.
Backups: Sophomore Joe Bolden (6'3", 225 lbs.) is fourth on the team with 50 tackles, along with 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He will likely be Ross's replacement if the starter can't go. Bolden has been the top sub at both inside linebacker positions all year in what was mostly a three-man rotation, thus the high tackle total. Freshman Ben Gedeon (6'3", 236 lbs.) took over Bolden's substitute role with Ross out, so he might see a significant amount of playing time; he made 14 tackles and 1 sack in limited duty. The other notable player is fifth year senior Cam Gordon (6'3", 237 lbs.), a fast and strong athlete who's been pushed to the side by Ryan's return despite having 38 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and 4 sacks on the season.

Starters: Fifth year senior Blake Slaughter (5'10", 227 lbs.) is the team leader in tackles with 103 and was honorable mention all-conference; he also had 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 1 interception. Despite being a little stouter than fellow inside linebacker Jonathan Truman (5'11", 219 lbs.), Slaughter's the one who bounces outside the box against trips formations and slot receivers. Slaughter was a little used linebacker in 2009-2011 and then redshirted in 2012 in order to help the team in 2013, which was part of the reason he was voted team captain this year. Truman has 85 tackles and 4 tackles for loss to his credit. He's a redshirt sophomore former walk-on.
Backups: Senior Tre Walker (6'3", 225 lbs.) is the outside linebacker when Kansas State is in a 4-3 look, and he has 26 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss this season. Redshirt freshman Will Davis (6'0", 223 lbs.) has 16 tackles this season but doesn't see a lot of playing time.

Michigan has had solid play from its linebackers for most of the year, and they generally tend to be technically sound. The Wolverines basically have five guys capable of starting (Ross, Morgan, Ryan, Bolden, and Gordon) with Gedeon as a pretty good fourth inside linebacker. The inside guys won't blitz often, but Ryan and Gordon can threaten the quarterback off the edge. In an admittedly limited study of Kansas State, I think Slaughter, Truman, and Walker are exploitable. Kansas State runs a lot of a 4-2-5 look, meaning their opponents are running at a six-man core that includes two linebackers who are the same weight as Michigan's linebackers but don't play quite as stout, in my opinion. They try to run around blocks and they have trouble disengaging. They are fairly quick, which might suit them well against some of the wide-open offenses in the Big 12 (Oregon State, Oklahoma, Baylor, etc.), but they might struggle against a straight-ahead running team that has power running backs in 240 lb. Derrick Green and 224 lb. De'Veon Smith.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grantland: Happy Trails to Mr. Football

Bryan Curtis writes an ode to Mack Brown, who stepped down from coaching the Texas Longhorns last week. I have a lot of respect for what Brown achieved in Austin, and while you never know what goes on behind closed doors, he has always seemed like a good, old-fashioned football coach.

Hit the jump for a tantalizing look at Genesis Rodriguez's profile.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Defensive Line

Defensive end Ryan Mueller had 18.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks during the regular season.
Starters: Junior weakside end Frank Clark (6'2", 273 lbs.) is the headliner of the group. As a Second Team all-conference selection, he started the season a little slowly but ended with 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The other defensive end will likely be junior Brennen Beyer (6'3", 250 lbs.), who has bounced from SAM linebacker to weakside end to SAM linebacker and now to strongside end. Despite starting every game this season, he has just 25 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks, so his playmaking skills are somewhat lacking. Fifth year senior Quinton Washington (6'4", 301 lbs.) is the nose tackle, and he holds the point of attack fairly well but has made just 19 tackles while being hampered by a nagging back injury. Senior Jibreel Black (6'2", 278 lbs.) is the 3-tech tackle and can give interior linemen trouble with his quickness, but generally, he lacks the bulk to hold up in the power run game, which could very well be an issue against Kansas State.
Backups: Redshirt sophomore Keith Heitzman (6'3", 280 lbs.) began the season as the strongside end but is more of a stopgap player with 8 tackles and .5 tackles for loss. Redshirt freshman Chris Wormley (6'4", 289 lbs.) has played end and 3-tech tackle, and while not a dominant player, he has flashed potential with 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Redshirt freshman Ryan Glasgow (6'4", 300 lbs.) has played a fair amount at defensive tackle but has just 2 total tackles to show for it, and redshirt junior Richard Ash (6'3", 314 lbs.) has 3 tackles on the season. The backup weakside ends are sophomore Mario Ojemudia (6'3", 250 lbs.) with 20 tackles and 1.5 sacks and freshman Taco Charlton (6'6", 270 lbs.) with 2 tackles and .5 tackles for loss.

Starters: Redshirt junior left end Ryan Mueller (6'2", 245 lbs.) is the star of KSU's defensive front, racking up 61 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries, and 4 forced fumbles this year. That performance earned him first team all-conference honors and mention on some All-America teams. On the other end is senior Alauna Finau (6'1", 258 lbs.), who has 20 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and .5 sacks on the year. Sophomore left defensive tackle Travis Britz (6'4", 293 lbs.) has 33 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Senior right defensive tackle Chaquil Reed (6'3", 309 lbs.) has 33 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks, and he runs pretty well for a big guy.
Key backups: Redshirt sophomore defensive end Marquel Bryant (6'3", 241 lbs.) has 13 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks, and junior defensive tackle Valentino Coleman (6'3", 285 lbs.) has 4 tackles as Britz's backup. The only other defensive lineman to play in even half of the Wildcats' games is redshirt junior defensive end Laton Dowling (6'3", 254 lbs.), who has just 3 tackles on the year, but that includes 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Michigan is #27 in the country in rush defense with 139 yards allowed/game, and Kansas State is #40 giving up 145 yards/game. Against the pass, Michigan is #68 with 23 sacks, and Kansas State is #48 with 27 quarterback takedowns. Statistically, there's not a ton that separates these two teams. In watching Oklahoma's 41-31 win over the Wildcats in game 11, I was not impressed with the defensive line. Granted, Oklahoma was the #11 team in the country, but Finau and Coleman looked particularly vulnerable in the running game. They don't flip their defensive line much, so Mueller has been able to rack up a lot of his numbers against teams' right tackles, who are generally inferior to the left tackles. Against Michigan, Mueller will face likely one of his best opponents this year in Michael Schofield. Britz and Reed might be able to get a little bit of penetration, but Michigan's improved offensive line play in the last couple weeks of the season should be sufficient to have a decent day. The Wildcats have the better individual statistics and perhaps the best overall player in Mueller, but with the way Clark, Ojemudia, Beyer, Wormley, Henry, Washington, and Black work together to funnel things to the inside linebackers, I think the advantage right here goes to . . .


Saturday, December 21, 2013

MLive: Hurst, Poggi turning heads in bowl practices

Nick Baumgardner has an article touting redshirting freshman defensive tackles Henry Poggi and Maurice Hurst, Jr. as the next big thing for the Wolverines. It might seem like a lot of hot air, but Baumgardner points out that last year's bowl practice buzz guys were Drake Johnson and Willie Henry, both of whom worked their way up the depth chart this year (although Johnson tore his ACL early).

Hit the jump at your own risk.

Forbes: College Football's Most Valuable Teams

Michigan ranks fifth, four spots behind the top-ranked Texas Longhorns.

Hit the jump for a good looking girl in a leopard-print something or other.

2013 CBS Sports All-America Team

CBS Sports released its 2013 All-America Team, and here are some notable players for Michigan fans:

Ka'Deem Carey - RB - Arizona#
Allen Robinson - WR - Penn State
Cyrus Kouandjio - OT - Alabama*
Anthony Barr - LB - UCLA*
Darqueze Dennard - CB - Michigan State
Mike Sadler - P - Michigan State

Tre Mason - RB - Auburn*
Carlos Hyde - RB - Ohio State
Sammy Watkins - WR - Clemson*
Taylor Lewan - OT - Michigan*
Jackson Jeffcoat - DE - Texas*
Tim Jernigan - DT - Florida State*
Ryan Shazier - LB - Ohio State
Chris Borland - LB - Wisconsin
Lamarcus Joyner - CB - Florida State*
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - S - Alabama*
Anthony Fera - K - Texas**

Jack Mewhort - OT - Ohio State
Spencer Long - OG - Nebraska
Ryan Mueller - DE - Kansas State
C.J. Barnett - S - Ohio State
Nelson Agholor - PR - USC*

*Offered by Michigan
**Committed to Michigan at one time
#Coached by former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Offensive Line

Kansas State center B.J. Finney is the Big 12
conference's top player at his position.
Starters: Fifth year senior left tackle Taylor Lewan (6'8", 315 lbs.) has been an All-American and First Team All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2013, and he's projected as a first round pick in next year's NFL Draft. Redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson (6'6", 295 lbs.) has played left guard, right guard, and right tackle this year, but none of them particularly well. He has decent feet but struggles at the point of attack. Redshirt sophomore Graham Glasgow (6'6", 303 lbs.) was the starting left guard early in the year, took over the center position against Minnesota, and will likely start his thirteenth game of the season on Saturday night. Glasgow had several bad snaps in his first weeks as the center, but the snapping issues have largely been eliminated in the last couple games. Redshirt freshman Kyle Kalis (6'5", 302 lbs.) lost his job after his early-season performance, but now he's back at right guard. He lacks the foot speed to be effective on zone stretches, and the offense evolved at the end of the year toward more of an inside zone running system to accommodate the likes of Kalis. Fifth year senior right tackle Michael Schofield (6'7", 304 lbs.) is a three-year starter and was named Honorable Mention all-conference this year, and some draft projections have him going as high as in the second round this coming April.
Backups: True freshman Kyle Bosch (6'5", 302 lbs.) started three games late in the year after redshirt junior Joe Burzynski tore his ACL. Bosch showed some promise but looked overwhelmed and eventually gave his job back to Kalis, who had been benched in favor of Magnuson. Redshirt sophomore Jack Miller started the first four games of the season at center and has not been heard from since getting benched for Glasgow. Redshirt sophomore Chris Bryant (6'4", 316 lbs.) made two starts at at left guard before getting benched in the middle of the Penn State game.

Starters: Fifth year senior Cornelius Lucas (6'9", 328 lbs.) was a First Team All-Big 12 selection in 2012, but this year he was just Honorable Mention. Redshirt sophomore Cody Whitehair (6'4", 309 lbs.) was Second Team All-Big 12 this season. Redshirt junior B.J. Finney (6'4", 303 lbs.) was named the best center in the conference. Redshirt sophomore Boston Stiverson (6'4", 312 lbs.) started a couple games as a redshirt freshman and is the team's top backup lineman this year, and he's been filling in for an injured Keenan Taylor at right guard. Senior Tavon Rooks (6'5", 280 lbs.) has been the starting right tackle for the past two seasons, earning Honorable Mention all-conference in both his years on campus.
Key backup: Fifth year senior Keenan Taylor (6'4", 290 lbs.) is questionable for the bowl game due to a knee injury, but he started all 13 games last year at right guard. Stiverson has been starting in his stead for the past few weeks, but Taylor should be in there if healthy.

Michigan is tied for 111th in the country with 35 sacks allowed, and they're #101 with 131 yards/game given up on the ground. The paltry 3.25 yards/carry average ranks them 114th. Kansas State is #54 nationally with 180 yards/game on the ground, and they're #51 with 4.53 yards/carry. They've also allowed 24 sacks, which is tied for #62 in the country. So while Kansas State is a wee bit above average, they're still a long ways ahead of Michigan in many ways. The Wildcats also have a few guys with all-conference accolades, while Michigan's Taylor Lewan has been pretty lonely when it comes to postseason accolades.

ADVANTAGE: Kansas State

Friday, December 20, 2013

Grantland: Thank You for Not Coaching, Week 14

I should have posted this last week, but these are always fun - Bill Barnwell looks at the best and worst coaching decisions of Week 14 in the NFL.

Hit the jump for Wayne Gretzky's model daughter Paulina.

Detroit News: Michigan MVP Jeremy Gallon battles for his achievements

Angelique Chengelis profiles the super awesome Jeremy Gallon.

Hit the jump for an impressive picture of Denise Milani.

Highlights: Oklahoma 41, Kansas State 31

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Receivers and Tight Ends

Tyler Lockett is the key to Kansas State's passing game.
Starters: The diminutive fifth year senior Jeremy Gallon (5'8", 184 lbs.) is the go-to guy, and he had an all-conference season with 80 catches, 1284 yards, and 9 touchdowns. He can be effective on just about any route - screens, hitches, square ins, fades, double moves, jump balls, etc. Aside from his lack of height (which he makes up for with his leaping ability and the timing of those leaps), he doesn't have truly blazing speed, so he sometimes pulls away before getting tracked down in a foot race. The other starting wide receiver is sophomore Devin Funchess (6'5", 235 lbs.), who made all-conference listed as a tight end but rarely plays it anymore; he has 47 catches for 727 yards and 6 scores. Funchess is Michigan's bubble screen guy, leaps over tacklers sometimes, runs an occasional end around, and can beat teams deep. The de facto starting tight end is freshman Jake Butt (6'6", 246 lbs.), who has come on late in the season to catch 17 balls for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns. Butt can do a little bit of everything between blocking, catching, and running.
Backups: Redshirt freshman Jehu Chesson (6'3", 196 lbs.) started a little bit early in the year before Funchess's blocking became too big of a problem at tight end, and while Chesson's playing time has dropped a little bit, he's actually improved his route running and ability to adjust to the ball in the air. He has 13 catches for 213 yards and 1 touchdown. Senior Drew Dileo (5'10", 180 lbs.) is the only other significant receiving threat, but he's a possession guy who usually works over the middle. Occasionally, senior Jeremy Jackson (6'3", 209 lbs.) or redshirt senior Joe Reynolds (6'1", 196 lbs.) will pop up for a catch, but they've totaled just 10 catches for 140 yards and 0 scores this year. Sophomore A.J. Williams (6'6", 265 lbs.) and redshirt junior Jordan Paskorz (6'3", 255 lbs.) are the "blocking" tight ends that struggle to block, and while they'll be on the field a fair amount, they have just 1 total catch.

Starters: The clear leader of the receiving corps is junior Tyler Lockett (5'11", 175 lbs.), who has 71 catches for 1,146 yards and 8 touchdowns on the season. Lockett has made a lot of big catches for the Wildcats and can be a real threat to the secondary on deep routes. Fifth year senior Tramaine Thompson (5'8", 167 lbs.) is also a big-play guy from the slot with 28 catches for 495 yards (17.7 yards/catch) and 5 touchdowns. Junior Curry Sexton (5'11", 183 lbs.) is the other receiver in K-State's three-wide attack, and he's been more of a possession guy with 36 catches for 409 yards. Redshirt junior tight end Zach Trujillo is rarely targeted, but he has 5 catches for 111 yards and 1 touchdown.
Backups: Senior Torell Miller (6'3", 213 lbs.) is a former safety who was expected to start this year in place of Sexton, but he's been relegated to backup duty and 11 catches, 106 yards, and 1 touchdown. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Klein (6'4", 210 lbs.) is a former defensive end who has 5 catches for 59 yards on the season. Fifth year senior Andre McDonald (6'8", 278 lbs.) is a mammoth blocking tight end who has just 2 catches for 19 yards this season. It's a very thin group of receivers.

Michigan has two guys who can be consistent deep threats, and another who has the speed to do so. Gallon has been outstanding this year and was one of the top couple receivers in the conference, while Funchess is simply a matchup nightmare. The other guys aren't very scary, but Chesson, Dileo, and Butt can all be good secondary targets and move the chains. Meanwhile, Kansas State has a guy who can blow up in the form of Lockett, plus a somewhat dangerous slot guy in Thompson. In a couple closely contested shootouts against Big 12 opponents, Lockett has gone over 230 yards (237 against Texas, 278 against Oklahoma), and he's the guy that quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams will look to if things get rough. If the Wildcats can move the ball consistently on the ground, they'll settle for trying to win the game without putting the ball in the air too much. Tight ends have hurt Michigan in a few games this year (Minnesota's Maxx Williams, Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz, Ohio State's Jeff Heuerman), but that shouldn't be a persistent problem in this game. It's a tall task to stop Lockett, but he's the key to their passing game.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Grantland: Just Another Day in Dallas

Okay, okay, I'm sick of reading about Dallas, too, but the rest of the article has tidbits about the Lions and Jamaal Charles and the Redskins and things more interesting than the Cowboys.

Hit the jump for a girl carrying dumbbells. Yes, there are dumbbells in the picture.

Detroit News: Jake Butt getting bigger, playing bigger role

Angelique Chengelis profiles freshman tight end Jake Butt, who's up to 246 lbs. with 11% body fat.

Hit the jump for a girl in a sports bra.

Highlights: Kansas State 33, TCU 31

All I could find was the full game for the win against TCU, and I can't even embed the full game from the 49-35 Kansas State win over Texas Tech.

247 Sports: 2013 True Freshman All-American Team

Upstart recruiting/college football site 247 Sports released its True Freshman All-Americans for 2013. Here's a look at the notable players for Michigan fans:

Christian Hackenberg - QB - Penn State
LaQuon Treadwell - WR - Ole Miss*
Laremy Tunsil - OT - Ole Miss*
Dan Skipper - OG - Arkansas*
Joey Bosa - DE - Ohio State*
Jaylon Smith - LB - Notre Dame*
Vernon Hargreaves III - CB - Florida*
Kendall Fuller - CB - Virginia Tech*

Marquez North - WR - Tennessee*
Dontre Wilson - RB - Ohio State
Adam Breneman - TE - Penn State*
Montravius Adams - DT - Auburn*
Eddie Vanderdoes - DE - UCLA*
Josh Banderas - LB - Nebraska
Sojourn Shelton - CB - Wisconsin
Su'a Cravens - S - USC*

*Offered by Michigan

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Running Backs

John Hubert (#33) is essentially Kansas State's only running back.
Starters: Late in the season, freshman Derrick Green (5'11", 240 lbs.) essentially took over the starting role and bowled his way to 265 yards and 2 touchdowns on 82 carries, a 3.2-yard average. Green looks to be the guy, but really, any of three players could garner the bulk of the attempts. He has some giddyup, but mostly, he's a between-the-tackles runner who won't make many people miss. The other likely option is fifth year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint (5'10", 200 lbs.), a scatback type who has been slowed a tiny bit since a broken ankle suffered in 2012. He's started most of the games this year and has 183 carries for 646 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, plus 17 catches for 203 yards. Toussaint has the best big-play ability of the backs and seems to have taken on more of the third down back type snaps late in the season. The starting fullback is redshirt sophomore Joe Kerridge (6'0", 238 lbs.), who has 1 carry and 5 catches on the season, mostly playing the role of a lead blocker.
Backups: Freshman De'Veon Smith (5'11", 224 lbs.) is the main backup after the first two guys, and he's a ball of churning legs who runs like I imagine a stegosaurus might: slowly but dangerously for anyone trying to bring him down. He has just 22 carries on the year for 110 yards, but his best game came in the regular season finale against Ohio State (7 carries, 57 yards). Redshirt sophomore Justice Hayes (5'10", 192 lbs.) is mostly a third down back and has spent some time at slot receiver; he has just 1 carry for 7 yards on the year, plus 3 catches for 18 yards. I do not expect to see him much. Sophomore fullback Sione Houma (6'0", 231 lbs.) has 1 catch for 9 yards and fills in occasionally for Kerridge.

Starter: Fifth year senior John Hubert (5'7", 191 lbs.) gets the vast majority of the running back carries and will likely surpass 1,000 yards in the bowl game; he currently has 182 carries for 968 yards and 9 touchdowns. He runs with a fair amount of power and quickness and has gone over 900 yards for three consecutive years. Look for Hubert to try to take advantage of cutback lanes out of the pistol, and he's quick enough to get on the edge with some option looks. The Wolverines are solid against the run, but Hubert presents a challenge and is coming off a 220-yard performance against Kansas. Redshirt freshman Glenn Gronkowski (6'3", 234 lbs.) is the younger brother of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and the starting fullback. He's rarely used in the running game, but he has 4 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns; his scores have gone for 67, 50, and 29 yards, so he can be dangerous out of the backfield.
Backups: Senior Robert Rose (5'4", 176 lbs. and no, that's not a typo) is the only notable backup, but he has 22 carries for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns. Co-starting quarterback Daniel Sams (profiled yesterday) is essentially Hubert's partner in crime in the backfield.

Michigan's running backs have yet to put fear into anyone this season, and despite a slight improvement in the running game over the past couple contests, the likelihood is small that Michigan blows the doors off KSU on the ground. Of course, much of that is the result of a young, underperforming offensive line. Meanwhile, Hubert has had more room to run than Michigan's guys, and he has a skill of elusiveness that . . . uh . . . eludes Michigan's trio of runners. We have seen the Wolverines come out with some innovative game plans in recent years (2008 against Florida, 2013 against South Carolina), but offensive coordinator Al Borges has limited options with what his line can block and what his backs can do. The Wolverines will probably do what they've been doing over the past couple games (lots of inside zones, bubble screen draws), and the Wildcats will also probably try to do what they do best and run inside zones and some powers with Hubert and Sams.

ADVANTAGE: Kansas State

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Heisman Pundit: An early Heisman list for 2014

There are no Wolverines on Heisman Pundit's early list, but it's still interesting to look at what college football players are expected to do great things in 2014. Obviously, Devin Gardner's the best candidate on Michigan's roster, and I wouldn't put it past him to win the thing if he can be more consistent. His performances against Notre Dame, Indiana, and Ohio State were awe-inspiring, and two of those opponents have pretty good defenses.

Hit the jump for Francesca Frigo at the beach.

Scout 300 for 2014 updated

Freddy Canteen is Michigan's big mover, jumping to #171 from outside the top 300
I don't follow Scout as much as the other three recruiting sites, but it recently came to my attention that the Scout 300 has been updated since my last post on their rankings. Movement for Michigan commits since July:

- Jabrill Peppers jumped from #6 to #4
- Drake Harris fell from #30 to #54
- Bryan Mone jumped from #96 to #90
- Freddy Canteen jumped from outside the list to #171
- Michael Ferns fell from #149 to #178
- Mason Cole jumped from #259 to #249
- Chase Winovich fell from #232 to #277

1. Leonard Fournette - RB - Louisiana
2. Cameron Robinson - OT - Louisiana
4. Jabrill Peppers - CB - New Jersey (Michigan)
5. Adoree' Jackson - CB - California
6. Juju Smith - S - California
7. Jamal Adams - S - Texas
9. Lorenzo Carter - DE - Georgia
10. Da'Shawn Hand - DE - Virginia (Alabama)
15. Quin Blanding - S - Virginia (Virginia)
18. Joe Mixon - RB - California
19. Andrew Brown - DT - Virginia (Virginia)
21. Solomon Thomas - DE - Texas
22. Malachi Dupre - WR - Louisiana
23. Myles Garrett - DE - Texas (Texas A&M)
24. Braden Smith - OT - Kansas
28. Casey Tucker - OT - Arizona
30. K.C. McDermott - OT - Florida (Miami)
33. Sam Hubbard - OLB - Ohio (Ohio State)
35. Nyles Morgan - MLB - Illinois

37. Jalen Tabor - CB - Washington, D.C.
38. Damon Webb - CB - Michigan (Ohio State)
42. Malik McDowell - DE - Michigan
43. Edward Paris - CB - Texas (LSU)
44. Marshon Lattimore - CB - Ohio
45. Jalen Brown - WR - Arizona (Oregon)
49. Bo Scarbrough - RB - Alabama (Alabama)
54. Drake Harris - WR - Michigan (Michigan)
57. Elijah Hood - RB - North Carolina (North Carolina)
58. Khairi Clark - DT - Florida (Florida)
61. Jamarco Jones - OT - Illinois (Ohio State)
63. Damian Prince - OT - Maryland
67. Erick Smith - S - Ohio
68. Kyle Berger - OLB - Ohio (Ohio State)
70. Josh Malone - WR - Tennessee (Tennessee)
71. Mark Andrews - WR - Arizona (Oklahoma)
72. Saeed Blacknall - WR - New Jersey (Rutgers)
75. Roderick Johnson - OT - Missouri
79. Jalen Hurd - RB - Tennessee (Tennessee)
81. Dante Booker - OLB - Ohio (Ohio State)
84. Christian McCaffrey - RB - Colorado (Stanford)
90. Bryan Mone - DT - Utah (Michigan)
104. Parrker Westphal - S - Illinois
105. Lawrence Marshall - DE - Michigan (Michigan)
108. Steven Parker - S - Oklahoma
113. Demetrius Knox - OG - Texas (Ohio State)
121. Dravon Henry - CB - Pennsylvania (West Virginia)
136. Sam Mustipher - OG - Maryland (Notre Dame)
141. Artavis Scott - WR - Florida (Clemson)
145. Bryson Allen-Williams - OLB - Georgia
147. Brandon Simmons - S - Texas (Stanford)
155. Nick Watkins - CB - Texas (Notre Dame)
157. Daniel Helm - TE - Illinois (Tennessee)
158. Bentley Spain - OT - North Carolina (North Carolina)
169. Shai McKenzie - RB - Pennsylvania
171. Freddy Canteen - WR - Maryland (Michigan)
175. Andy Bauer - OT - Misssouri (Missouri)
176. Adarius Pickett - CB - California (UCLA)
177. Wesley Green - CB - Georgia
178. Michael Ferns - MLB - Ohio (Michigan)
186. Demarre Kitt - WR - Georgia (Clemson)
190. Jeb Blazevich - TE - North Carolina (Georgia)
194. Richard Yeargin - OLB - Florida (Notre Dame)
199. Corey Holmes - WR - Florida (Notre Dame)
201. Alex Bars - OT - Tennessee (Notre Dame)
203. Montae Nicholson - S - Pennsylvania
205. Jacory Washington - TE - Louisiana (LSU)
209. Dexter Wideman - DT - South Carolina (South Carolina)
213. D'Andre Payne - CB - Washington, DC (Tennessee)
220. Devon Thomas - RB - Oklahoma (Oklahoma State)
231. Jay Hayes - DT - New York (Notre Dame)
237. Marcus Allen - S - Maryland (Penn State)
244. Ja'Von Harrison - WR - Florida (Virginia Tech)
249. Mason Cole - OT - Florida (Michigan)
254. Malik Hooker - WR - Pennsylvania (Ohio State)
264. Jackson Barton - OT - Utah (Utah)
268. Kiy Hester - S - New Jersey (Miami)
277. Chase Winovich - OLB - Pennsylvania (Michigan)
279. K.J. Williams - WR - Pennsylvania (Syracuse)
282. Jimmie Swain - OLB - Missouri
283. Kenny Young - MLB - Louisiana
294. Juwann Winfree - WR - New Jersey (Maryland)
298. Conor Sheehy - DE - Wisconsin (Wisconsin)

2013 ESPN.com Big Ten All-Freshman team

Jake Butt
Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg put together their Big Ten All-Freshman Team. There are a few notable guys for Michigan fans:

Jake Butt - TE - Michigan*
Dan Voltz - C - Wisconsin*
Kyle Kalis - OG - Michigan*
Joey Bosa - DE - Ohio State*
Willie Henry - DT - Michigan*
Desmond King - CB - Iowa#

*Offered by Michigan
#Attended Detroit (MI) Crockett

Highlights: Kansas State 41, Iowa State 7

Here's the whole KSU vs. ISU game. I couldn't find highlights, so you'll just have to watch all 2 hours and 24 minutes.

2013 AP All-America Team

The Associated Press released its 2013 All-America Team on Tuesday. There are several notable players for Michigan fans:

Ka'Deem Carey - RB - Arizona#
Cyrus Kouandjio - OT - Alabama*
Jackson Jeffcoat - DE - Texas*
Anthony Barr - LB - UCLA*
Ryan Shazier - LB - Ohio State
Darqueze Dennard - CB - Michigan State
Lamarcus Joyner - CB - Florida State*

Tre' Mason - RB - Auburn*
Taylor Lewan - OT - Michigan*
Sammy Watkins - WR - Clemson*
Anthony Fera - K - Texas**
Shilique Calhoun - DE - Michigan State
Tim Jernigan - DT - Florida State*
Chris Borland - LB - Wisconsin
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix - S - Alabama

Carlos Hyde - RB - Ohio State
Ameer Abdullah - RB - Nebraska
Jack Mewhort - OT - Ohio State
Greg Robinson - OT - Auburn*
John Urschel - OG - Penn State
Ryan Groy - OG - Wisconsin
Jeff Budzien - K - Northwestern
Ra'shede Hageman - DT - Minnesota
Max Bullough - LB - Michigan State
Denicos Allen - LB - Michigan State
Vernon Hargreaves III - CB - Florida*
Ty Zimmerman - S - Kansas State

*Offered by Michigan
**Committed to Michigan at one time
#Plays for former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview: Quarterbacks

Jake Waters (#15) and Daniel Sams (#4)
Starter: Redshirt junior Devin Gardner (6'4", 210 lbs.) started all twelve games for Michigan this year and had a roller coaster of a season. He put up pretty solid overall statistics (60% completions, 2960 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions), but the early part of the year was marred with interceptions and fumbles against some mediocre teams. Gardner is a very mobile quarterback in the mold of the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick, but he has been slowed by injuries suffered behind a poor offensive line. He has the physical ability to make any throw and to outrun most defenders (483 yards and 11 scores on the ground), but the confidence to make those plays waned after he threw 10 interceptions in the first six games. The ball security improved during the second half of the year, and he turned in a dazzling performance against Ohio State in the regular season finale (32/45, 451 yards, 4 touchdowns).
Backups: Freshman Shane Morris (6'3", 201 lbs.) played sparingly this year, attempting just 9 passes; he completed 5, threw for 65 yards, and had 1 interception. In one late-game series against Michigan State, he literally fell on his face while trying to scramble for a first down. Morris is strictly a pocket passer who has a strong tendency to throw only to his left. Redshirt freshman Brian Cleary (6'3", 209 lbs.) has barely played at all and is a walk-on.

KANSAS STATEStarters: The Wildcats have a two-platoon system at quarterback, with redshirt junior JakeWaters (138/233, 59% completions, 2198 yards, 15 touchdowns, 9 interceptions) being the thrower and redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams being the runner (38/52, 73% completions, 452 yards, 4 touchdowns, 4 interceptions. Sams has 784 yards and a 5.3-yard average, along with 11 touchdowns; Waters isn't bad on the hoof with 270 yards, 2.6 yards/carry, and 6 touchdowns. Sams (6'2", 207 lbs.) is a spindly-legged runner who runs a little like Devin Gardner, but he's more unrefined as a passer and can get spooked fairly easily, which isn't a terrible thing if you can take off and run. When he's in the game, look for single wing type of plays that are designed quarterback runs, with guards pulling and fullbacks leading up through. A Big Ten corollary might be former Purdue quarterback/running back Justin Siller. Waters (6'1", 210 lbs.) is a junior college transfer who was the National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Year last season at Iowa Western. He has a quick release and a strong arm, but he's not the most accurate guy and can force some throws. He can run a little bit inside, but he's not the type of guy to threaten the edge.
Backups: No other quarterback has attempted a pass this year.

Gardner is a better quarterback than Waters or Sams, but the Wildcats have a pretty effective combination. When Gardner is on his game like he was against Ohio State, he's virtually unstoppable because he can run and throw; when he's scared of the pass rush, he gets tentative, pulls his eyes down, and plays tight. His play is largely dependent on whether Michigan can establish a running game and protect him. Waters is coming off a poor three-game stretch where he completed 50% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 4 picks against TCU, Oklahoma, and Kansas; Sams barely played against the latter two, but had 109 yards rushing against the Horned Frogs. Michigan has done just enough against the two-headed quarterback system of Northwestern over the past couple years to eke out a couple wins. Sams at quarterback is pretty much a telegraphed run, so we'll see if the Wolverines can handle the Wildcats up front.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2013 MSA Sports Elite Eleven: Chase Winovich

Chase Winovich was named one of the elite eleven players in western Pennsylvania, along with other Michigan targets like Dravon Henry (West Virginia, Malik Hooker (Ohio State), and Montae Nicholson (undecided).

Hit the jump for a girl standing in a tub.

Highlights: Kansas State 35, West Virginia 12

Redshirts in the Class of 2013

QB Shane Morris: Morris was 5/9 for 65 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception in obviously limited duty behind starter Devin Gardner. He played a bit in the opener against Central Michigan and then one series against Michigan State, but generally, his snaps could have been handled by a walk-on like Brian Cleary. However, the most productive thing might have been Morris's snaps with the first and second teams in practice, which may accelerate his progress for when Gardner departs; furthermore, Morris might be needed in the bowl game if Gardner's turf toe is too problematic to overcome. Overall, this was a frustrating burning of a redshirt, but it was probably necessary since Michigan made a mistake in not taking a quarterback in the 2012 class.

RB Derrick Green: Green came in a little overweight, but we all knew he was going to play, and it was necessary. Starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has had just one healthy season in his career (2011), and the other backups hadn't done much in their time on campus. Green has responded with 82 carries for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns thus far.

RB De'Veon Smith: Smith is one of the more frustrating redshirt burnings on this list. While he did have a decent game against Ohio State, his production up to that point included 15 carries for 54 yards. His snaps probably could have been taken by Thomas Rawls or Justice Hayes, and that would have separated him from Green by a year. If Green leaves after his third year like many top-rated tailbacks do, Smith might have just one year as the lead back.

WR Da'Mario Jones: Jones is perhaps the biggest disappointment on this list. While I have high hopes for him as a receiver, he was limited to special teams duty. His only significant contribution was when he failed to locate a punt while blocking, which bounced off his foot and was recovered by UConn.

WR Csont'e York:
 York played as a backup in the first game of the year against Central Michigan and then didn't see any other game action. I'm guessing he'll end up getting a redshirt for this season, but technically, any amount of playing time burns a redshirt. I think York can be a decent wideout down the road, so losing a year of eligibility for a couple plays against CMU would seem silly.

TE Jake Butt: With Michigan thin at tight end, Butt was bound to play, and as the year went on, he earned more and more time. He ended the regular season with 17 catches for 202 yards and 2 touchdowns, saving his best performance for the season finale against Ohio State (5 catches, 85 yards, 2 touchdowns).

OG Kyle Bosch: Freshman linemen should usually stay on the sidelines, but there was a good chance that at least one of the six freshmen would see the field. Bosch enrolled in the spring and was the most college ready, so he entered the lineup once Joe Burzynski tore his ACL against Indiana. Bosch did an okay job, and while he eventually lost his starting gig, he did provide some competition that may have helped Michigan shore up the offensive line a little bit toward the end of the year. It's disappointing that Bosch needed to play, but this was necessary.

DE Taco Charlton: Charlton had 2 tackles and .5 tackles for loss throughout the year as the third-string weakside end. The team could have gotten by without him, but most teams need at least their top three guys on the defensive line to play at some point. It would have been nice for someone like Brennen Beyer to have been available and for Charlton to redshirt, but Jake Ryan's injury forced Beyer to play SAM linebacker.

LB Ben Gedeon: This coaching staff hasn't been shy about playing freshman inside linebackers, and all four guys in the rotation played as freshmen - Desmond Morgan, James Ross III, Joe Bolden, and now Gedeon. Gedeon leapfrogged sophomore Royce Jenkins-Stone for the #2 WILL job when Ross got hurt late in the year and ended up with 14 tackles and 1 sack of Braxton Miller.

CB Jourdan Lewis: Lewis and Channing Stribling were in a yearlong fight for the nickel corner job, with Lewis earning the slightly more impressive stats (17 tackles, 2 pass breakups). The Wolverines had a solid top two corners in Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor, but with senior Courtney Avery injured, somewhat ineffective, and needed at free safety sometimes, at least one freshman was going to be needed at corner. Lewis jumped over junior Delonte Hollowell and sophomore Terry Richardson for playing time.

CB Channing Stribling: Stribling put up 15 tackles and 1 forced fumble in a consistent battle with Lewis for the nickel corner job. He had some frustrating plays down the stretch in the loss to Penn State, but generally, he had pretty solid coverage and didn't look overmatched. Again, it would have been nice to see one of these two corners redshirt, but they both played decently enough for me to shrug my shoulders at the decision to play them.

S Delano Hill: Hill was exclusively a special teams coverage guy and ended the regular season with just 1 tackle. I don't like the idea of burning redshirts just for special teams, but it happens sometimes with safety/linebacker types. Hill looks the part of a college safety already, and he was around the ball more than his statistics indicate.

S Dymonte Thomas: Thomas flashed his talent in the season opener against Central Michigan with a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown for Michigan. He added 5 tackles on what turned out to be mostly special teams duty. It was a little surprising he didn't play more, because early practice buzz had him pegged as the starting slot corner. Overall, it's tough to argue with playing him.

FB Wyatt Shallman: With a scholarship fullback in the class ahead of him (Sione Houma) and an established walk-on starter (Joe Kerridge), there was no need to throw Shallman into the fire this year. He could also be a U-back player and compete against the likes of Khalid Hill for playing time.

WR Jaron Dukes:
 Dukes, whose weakness is foot speed, didn't really have the bulk to be a blocking wide receiver, either.

TE Khalid Hill:
 Hill was expected to redshirt coming into the year, and that's what happened after being beaten out by fellow freshman Jake Butt for the U-back position. It will be an uphill battle to get on the field next year, too, with all the tight ends returning and the potential for Shallman to take Hill's playing time.

OL David Dawson:
 Dawson was a freshman offensive lineman, and most of them redshirt. This was expected and likely warranted.

OL Chris Fox: Fox tore his ACL at the end of his senior year, so big guys coming off of knee injuries are unlikely to play, especially in their first year of college.

OL Patrick Kugler: Kugler had shoulder surgery in the spring, so most people expected him to redshirt. The fact that he plays center, one of the most difficult positions on the field, only further necessitated the redshirt.

OL Dan Samuelson: Samuelson, again a freshman offensive lineman, was bound to redshirt unless lots of bad things happened. And while a lot of bad things did in fact happen, it wasn't quite that  bad.

OL Logan Tuley-Tillman: Tuley-Tillman is a guy who came into college needing to reshape his body. He was up around 330 last winter, slimmed down to 285 by the spring, and settled in at 300 by the beginning of the year. Plus he was a raw prospect coming out of high school.

DT Maurice Hurst, Jr.: Hurst arrived on campus around 270 lbs., so it was pretty much inevitable that he would sit out for at least a year.

DT Henry Poggi: Poggi came in even lighter than Hurst, at 260 lbs. Also inevitable.

CB Reon Dawson: At 6'2", 170 lbs., Dawson was reed-thin coming into the year, and he was also deemed a raw prospect. Add to that the fact that Michigan had a couple established corners and a couple more refined freshmen, and the writing was on the wall.

CB Ross Douglas: Douglas had decent size at 5'10", 176 lbs. as a freshman, and was seen as a feisty competitor in the spring and summer, but his services weren't needed.

LS Scott Sypniewski: With fifth year senior Jareth Glanda handling the long- and short-snapping duties, Sypniewski wasn't needed this year.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Washington Post: Heisman Trophy Tales

The Washington Post  tells the story of the locations of the Heisman trophies that have been handed out over the years. Obviously, it includes the three Michigan winners: Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard, and Charles Woodson.

Hit the jump for a model wearing a bikini.

Highlights: Baylor 35, Kansas State 25

Recruiting Update: December 16, 2013

Glassboro (NJ) Glassboro wide receiver Juwan Johnson
Glassboro (NJ) Glassboro wide receiver Juwan Johnson was offered by Michigan. He's a 6'4", 196 lb. prospect with a reported 4.4 forty who also has offers from Arkansas, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, and Rutgers, among others. In the South Jersey championship game, he returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown and a punt 75 yards for a score. He's a 247 Composite 4-star, #16 athlete, and #156 player overall.

Chesapeake (VA) Oscar Smith defensive end Josh Sweat was offered by Michigan. He's a 6'5", 230 lb. prospect with offers from Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and USC, among others. He's a 4-star, the #5 weakside end, and the #56 overall prospect in 247's Composite rankings. This is a somewhat interesting development because Michigan has supposedly been telling St. Paul (MN) Cretin-Derham defensive end Jashon Cornell that he was their only target in the class for weakside end, but while Sweat is listed as a weakside end, he looks to me more like an eventual strongside end due to his size and some stiffness in his movements. Of course, it's also possible that Michigan is changing their strategy for 2015. I do not expect Michigan to be a major player in Sweat's recruitment, though. Oscar Smith also produced defensive tackle Andrew Brown in the 2014 class, a Michigan target who is a 5-star prospect headed to Virginia.

Peyton (CO) Falcon running back Kalen Ballage committed to Arizona State. This is about as soft a commitment as they come, with him saying ASU is "the school I can most see myself at." Ballage also went ahead with his scheduled visit to Nebraska this past weekend and plans to visit Washington, while Boise State and Michigan State were also thought to be in the running up until recently. Planned visits to Michigan never panned out, and while Michigan doesn't appear to be in the running anymore, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ballage signs somewhere other than Arizona State. I wrote up a scouting report on Ballage back in May.

Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic defensive end Garrett Dickerson committed to Northwestern. Dickerson eschewed offers from national powerhouses like Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State for the Wildcats, who garnered his interest with their academics . . . and the presence of sophomore wide receiver Cameron Dickerson, Garrett's older brother; the elder Dickerson has had 2 catches for 20 yards in each of the last two years' games against the Wolverines, and the 2012 game included his first collegiate touchdown. Garrett is the 247 Composite's #198 player overall.

Aliquippa (PA) Aliquippa safety Dravon Henry committed to West Virginia. Henry could play running back, receiver, cornerback, or safety at the next level, but the Mountaineers are expected to try him at safety. He's the 247 Composite #8 athlete and #110 player overall.

Wayne (NJ) St. Joseph Regional safety Kiy Hester committed to Miami. Hester was previously committed to Rutgers. He took an official visit to Michigan State at the end of November, and it was thought to be a three-horse race between Miami, MSU, and Rutgers, so Michigan somewhat missed a bullet by him going to the Hurricanes; he's a 247 Composite 4-star, the #17 safety, and #217 player overall.

Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter's Prep running back Jonathan Hilliman changed his commitment from Rutgers to Boston College. Rutgers has been leaking recruits during and after their 6-6 season. I wrote up a scouting report on Hilliman a little over a year ago, after his junior season highlights were posted online. He ended his senior year with a state title game loss to Paramus (NJ) Catholic and the duo of Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Jabrill Peppers, both of whom are committed to Michigan. On the plus side for Hilliman, he'll be joining a program that just watched senior running back Andre Williams run for 2,102 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Belmont (NC) South Point linebacker Tanner Muse committed to Clemson. Muse is a 2015 prospect who earned a Michigan offer not long ago, but he was considered to be a tough pull out of the south. He's a 4-star and the #337 player overall, according to 247's Composite rankings.

Here's a list of players who visited Michigan this past weekend.