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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Brionte Dunn - What lies ahead

The recruitment of Brionte Dunn has been a wild one already, but there's still so much to come in this saga. He's already spoke with Urban Meyer, and was impressed with what the coach told him, but there are still many issues to sort out.

Today, Sam Webb of scout.com tweeted that Michigan coaches were having an in home visit with Dunn today, and this is very important for the Wolverines. Brionte's mom didn't make either of the visits to Ann Arbor this month, so it's vital that she talks to the coaches today and gets an idea of what Michigan is all about. UM running back coach Fred Jackson will be there, and he's a very experienced recruiter, hopefully he can work some magic. Ohio State coaches will also be visiting him in the coming weeks.

Next on the list of issues facing Dunn will be the position of offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Urban Meyer has been known for running a spread attack at Florida, and with a talent like Braxton Miller already in Columbus, he'd be a fool not to run some kind of spread option offense, in my opinion. Dunn is more of a power back, so if Meyer brings in a spread guru or just anyone who hasn't run much from under center before, this could be a big advantage to Michigan, as we're moving towards a traditional power I running game.

Then we have the all important official visits. It'll likely just be one to each school; I don't see any other schools coming into the conversation. He visited Penn State this fall, but they've since had problems; to say the least. The official to Michigan should give his parents a chance to see the clearly superior academics (!!!) as well as an opportunity to speak in depth with Coach Hoke and offensive coordinator, Al Borges. He should be accompanied by good friend Kyle Kalis on this visit, and maybe Dymonte Thomas will go along too (just a guess there), which would aid Michigan.

My real worry is around his official visit to Ohio State. The guy has grown up as an Ohio State Buckeye, and no matter how bad things get, you'll always have that desire to play for your childhood favorite. He probably knows a lot of the players, and he's also got the pressure of the state wanting him to attend OSU, which can be a powerful thing.

Lastly, we have the NCAA sanctions against Ohio State, which are expected to be announced in mid December. Originally these were pretty important in his recruitment, as something like a bowl ban would have been a significant factor. But sadly, it looks like OSU will just get a slap on the wrist from the NCAA, and probably won't face any additional sanctions.

All of these events will have taken place by christmas time, so expect a decision to be made around then, maybe earlier if he can schedule his official visits quickly.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Recruiting Summary

So there were lots of top recruits on hand for the game yesterday, let's run through some of their reactions:

- Brionte Dunn clearly had a good time, "Dunn's 2nd UM experience better than the 1st" is a heading on michigan.scout.com's front page. ($ article)

- Scout also has a story on Jordan Diamond entitled "Michigan moves up with Diamond". Again, this is a $ article, so we can't get the full reaction, but the title really says a lot!

- Josh Garnett also had a great visit, capped off by this photo he got with former Michigan Wolverine and #1 NFL draft pick, Jake Long. Academics will be important for Garnett, and recruits usually rave about the academic tours at Michigan, but there is a long way to go in Garnett's recruitment, probably go close to signing day.

- 2013 CB Shaquille Wiggins (Atlanta, GA) said on twitter that he was close to committing. This might just be a young kid getting caught up in the moment, but still this is a very good sign this early in the process. 247 Sports has him as a four star prospect already, and also has Michigan as his leader now.

- 2013 WR LaQuon Treadwell was another prospect who was probably close to committing, ESPN recruiting expert TomVH said on twitter than Treadwell wants his mom to see Michigan 'immediately', which is a very encouraging sign. As I said last week, Treadwell is a good bet to be the 3rd commit in the 2013 class.

- Also, just a quick note to mention that Cass Tech smashed Catholic Central 49-13 in the Div 1 State final yesterday. Cass Tech is loaded with talent this year, including Michigan commits RJS and Terry Richardson. Catholic Central also has a UM commit, Matt Godin. Game summary here.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Hail to the Victors

If you predicted that scoreline, hats off to you; you deserve some kind of medal.

First off, whilst we don't like Ohio State, we do/should respect them as a talented football team, and we should respect the way their offense came out and played today. They played their tails off for Luke Fickell, and their gameplan was actually very good. I'll enjoy this victory for a long time, but Braxton Miller's rushing will haunt my dreams for a long time too!

Still, hail to the victors! Michigan finally wins the big one, largely thanks to Denard Robinson who turned in the best game of his Michigan career in my view. He will go down as a Michigan legend for ending the streak, as will all those seniors.

I was nervous before the game, but it was even worse during! The game never looked safe and after the officials blew that TD call from Tousiannt, I really did fear the worse. It was Michigan that was making the mistakes (fumble, bad  punt, bad penalties), but thankfully the defense finally sealed it at the end.

Now we just have to sit back, enjoy the day, watch some more college football maybe, and then wait for some recruiting stories unfold further - hopefully in our favor!!!

#GoBlue

Friday, 25 November 2011

Quick Recruiting Note

Just a quick note to say that four star offensive tackle Jordan Diamond will be at the game on Saturday, per his tweet this week. Along with Josh Garnett, that gives Michigan two top offensive lineman on campus and the Wolverines would settle for either one.

Michigan led for Diamond for most of last season, and through the spring and early summer this year, but have recently fallen back. I think Wisconsin could be the leader right now, but Michigan is certainly not out of it. Lets not forget that we still have his former teammate Chris Bryant on the roster, which could be a big factor. This visit will be an unofficial, so a good experience on Saturday followed by an official during the Winter could really elevate Michigan back into the lead.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

OSU Weekend (incl prediction)

A win would:
- Give us our first win against Ohio in way too long
- Probably send us to a BCS bowl game
- Make us believe that Hoke really is a god and that a national title in 2013 is a strong possibility

A loss would:
- Simply ruin our season, there's a big difference between 9-3 and 10-2 with a win over OSU.

The stakes are high, and as usual there will be a lot of very talented recruits on hand to witness 'The Game'. A lot of them will be 2013 kids, as well as a lot of 2012 commits, but there are going to be some big time 2012 targets that Michigan would love to secure a commitment from this weekend.

I'll start with arguably the most important, Brionte Dunn. He'll be on campus for his 2nd visit in as many weeks and despite being an OSU commit, many people (incl me!) feel that Michigan is probably the favorite. He's enrolling early so a decision won't be too far away, this weekend could just seal the deal for Michigan.

Amara Darboh is first of our official visitors on Saturday, and Michigan is also in a fairly strong  position for him. He visited Notre Dame last Saturday and it could well be a UM-ND battle, and I think UM will win this one.

Michigan doesn't necessarily need a 6th offensive line commit in this class, but if Joshua Garnett was to announce for the Wolverines, it would be very hard to turn him away. He's taking his official for the game, and I'm pretty optimistic about UM's chances here, especially after seeing a CBS recruiting analyst predict him to UM.

Jehu Chesson has flown under the radar recently in terms of Michigan's WR recruiting as the focus has largely been on Darboh, Payton and Diggs. But Jehu takes his official visit to A2 this weekend, and anything could happen here.

As mentioned above, there will be a lot of 2013 recruits at the game, but few of them will have an offer, unlike Laquon Treadwell. The WR teammate of Anthony Standifer has visited Michigan a couple times already this year and could be a good bet for the next 2013 commit. Shane Morris will be there, so if those two get talking, it can only be a good thing for UM.

Prediction
A lot of people are already asking the question of whether to storm the field, but that really is premature. Despite their poor record, OSU is still a decent football team and probably has a more talented team overall than Michigan (based on recruit rankings). A win for the Buckeyes would put them to 7-5 and actually make the season not a complete disaster.

I haven't watched much of OSU's games this year, but what I have seen gives me at least some cause for concern. Braxton Miller is not a great passer, but he has the ability to buy a lot of time with his legs and then find open receivers. Examples - last plays of Purdue and Wisconsin games in regulation time. Michigan has to keep him contained, force him to make the tough throws.

Apart from him, the rest of OSU's offense is basically Dan Herron running it. Michigan did a good job against Rex Burkhead last week, but Herron is probably a little better, so that's something to watch out for. Still, I have faith in Mattison and his players to get the job done and hold OSU under 20 points.

On offense, I think the key to victory is pretty simple; don't turn the ball over. OSU's defense is good but not great, so if Michigan plays smart football and executes, they should be able to put up 30 points, which will almost certainly be enough for victory.

If the game were in Columbus, I think it would be really close, but given the home field advantage, the superior coaching and greater motivation, Michigan should win this game by around 2-3 touchdowns. I think both defenses will come out strong before Michigan gets going on offense in the 2nd quarter, taking a 10 point lead into halftime. A quick flurry of 3rd quarter TDs, help Michigan to run away with it...

Prediction: Michigan 35 ; Ohio 17

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

New TE target

With the departure of Pharaoh Brown from the commits list, Michigan needs a new TE and they're hoping that Taylor McNamara (San Diego, CA) will be that guy. He's a former Arizona commit who's looking around now that Arizona fired their coach. Funnily enough they hired RR to be their new coach, so already we're in a recruiting battle with our old coach!

McNamara is rated as a four star prospect by ESPN recruiting (79 overall), so he's around the same level as Pharaoh Brown. He also just tweeted that he's considering Michigan for an official visit now. Other schools still in the mix include Cal, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Washington.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Monday Recruiting Notes: Bad

It's a bad start to the week:

- Firstly, Shaq Thompson has named a top three of ASU, Cal and Washington, and is unlikely to visit Michigan. This is a shame, but if Michigan does want another DB, Yuri Wright is a more realistic option anyway, and just as talented.

- Secondly, Jordan Payton visited Arizona State this last weekend, so that's another 'stay near home' option for him to take over moving to the Midwest. The longer his recruitment goes on, the lower my confidence gets.

- Now for the big news, Michigan has lost a commitment. Last week I mentioned that Pharaoh Brown would visit Oregon, but I said it probably isn't a big deal because he would have told Hoke in advance etc. Well word is that Michigan didn't know much about this, and no longer consider him a commitment. Scout.com no longer lists him as a commit, which is a pretty good indicator of where things lie.
Whilst I doubt the door is completely closed on Brown, I doubt either sides are too happy with each other right now, so Hoke and Co will definitely start to look elsewhere. If we assume A.J Williams will play OL at Michigan, then I personally think they really need another good TE in this class; one just isn't enough.
Perhaps they could take another look at Ron Thompson, now a Syracuse commit, or even Sam Grant, the teammate of Kyle Kalis. Maybe a new TE target will emerge now that Michigan are having such a good season.

- Scholarship numbers: Michigan will probably go to 27-28 in this class, if they feel like they can get some real talent in those final spots. If we consider Brown as just another recruit, then we have 23 commits, leaving 4-5 spaces. If I could choose my perfect ending to the class, I'd go for Brionte Dunn, Jordan Payton, Stefon Diggs, randomly good Tight End, and if a 5th space is available, Yuri Wright.
Note: A lot of people might take Amara Darboh over Payton because of Darboh's speed, but Payton is rated higher on recruiting sites for a reason, and if I were picking the commits, I'd already have a speed guy in Stefon Diggs.
Also, just to clarify, those 5 names above are my ideal scenario, in fact it's very unlikely that it will finish that way.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Post Game Review

The first half was a pretty decent performance, scoring 17 points and defensively we just had one bad play. But that second half...wow. That was something else.

Michigan well and truly dominated a good Nebraska team in all three phases of the game, and I literally couldn't stop smiling whilst watching. Perhaps most uplifting of all was the fact that Denard Robinson looked really good out there, and his form couldn't have come at a better time with the OSU game next week. Ok sure, the interception was bad, but it was also a very good play by that defender to deflect the ball upwards. Apart from that Denard was good both on the ground and through the air; the pass to Odoms for a TD was really, really nice.

As mentioned above, the defense did have that one bad play, conceding a 54 yard TD, but they still held Nebraska to only 260 total yards, and 17 points. They also contained Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez, allowing them to gain only 36 and 49 yards respectively; both were under 4 yards per carry.

And then we have special teams! Even those guys were making plays today, two fumbles forced and a blocked punt! This really was a great team effort.

Recruiting:

Brionte Dunn was at the game, and was seen taking a photo with 2013 commits Shane Morris and Dymonte Thomas (his cousin); can't be a bad thing. Dunn is coming back to Michigan next weekend for the Ohio State game, per Sam Webb, and Sam also said that Brionte will be enrolling early. This is seemingly great news, because will all the uncertainty at Ohio State that will probably go on for another couple months at least, would he really want to enroll early there? I doubt it, Michigan are now favorites.

Pharaoh Brown will be taking a visit to Oregon tonight for their game against USC, or at least that was the word last night. Not sure how Hoke feels about this, Brown will have already told him about it for sure, especially after the TR and RJS thing. Personally I doubt much will come of it.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Nebraska Prediction

This is a hard game to pick, mainly because Nebraska are so similar to Michigan this year; both 8-2 (4-2), both with limited passing games but fairly good running games, both with mobile quarterbacks and decent defense etc etc.

I watched most of their game vs Penn St, and I think Michigan's biggest problem will be Rex Burkhead. He's got over 1000 yards rushing on the year, and his general toughness makes him hard to bring down. Penn St has a good defense and he gained 121 yards on them with a TD, so this is worrying.

Michigan will probably (hopefully?) dare Nebraska to pass, and if they can get the same kind of QB pressure as they did against Illinois, Taylor Martinez should be forced into some mistakes. The concern though is if Michigan loses contain and allows him to scramble, he's got the speed to make the defense pay.

On offense, Michigan will no doubt start the game by just running Fitzgerald Tousiannt, seeing how good the interior DL of Nebraska is without Jared Crick. Personally, I'd like to see us do short and easy throws on first down to keep Nebraska off balance, stuff like a tunnel screen to Gallon. Michigan needs to get Denard Robinson into the game early, whether it be by rushing or passing, we need him to be confident, because when he is, he's very dangerous.

Michigan's offense has been good at home, but they haven't really faced a good defense since Notre Dame, so this will be a good test before the big game next week. Ultimately I think Michigan will pull out the victory, limiting their mistakes while our defense forces some turnovers.

Prediction: Michigan 31; Nebraska 21

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Brionte Dunn visiting

Michigan won't be hosting many 2012 recruits this weekend for the Nebraska game, but at least a big timer will be there! Brionte Dunn will be visiting Ann Arbor with his cousin, and current 2013 commit, Dymonte Thomas.

Not sure yet on whether its an official or unofficial visit, but given the lateness of this news, one would think it's an unofficial as they take less time to plan etc. Hopefully a few more Ohio commits will come up for the game now that they know Brionte is coming, someone like Kyle Kalis would be ideal.

As for Michigan's chances, the visit certainly helps but you get the feeling that his recruitment will be decided by factors such as the NCAA penalties for the Buckeyes, and who their new coach is, assuming Fickell is done. For example, if they got Urban Meyer, who is known for more of a spread offense, would Dunn fit in there?

Still, this is very good news. Let's hope Fitzgerald Tousiannt gets loads of carries on Saturday, and of course lets hope Michigan wins!!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Quick Hitters

Does anyone else have a blog with blogspot? If so, how do you post links nowadays, they've changed the format and I can't figure out how it works? Anyway, onto recruiting:

- Michigan LB commit Joe Bolden has been selected to play in the Under Armor All American game this January. Michigan already has one other commit in the game, Terry Richardson.

- Amara Darboh has scheduled his official visit for the Ohio State game the weekend after next. There is a lot of optimism surrounding Darboh and Michigan; he's visited before and seemed to really like it, so a commitment wouldn't be shocking after the visit. He's going to Notre Dame this weekend btw.

- Scout.com has updated their rankings, and a few Michigan commits have made some nice jumps. A.J Williams is now a four star OT, and Joe Bolden and Tom Strobel have jumped into the top 100 overall.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Stefon Diggs: The story so far

There's been a lot of talk about WR Stefon Diggs and Michigan recently, so I thought it might be useful to go over his recruitment, which has been a real roller coaster for Michigan.

Diggs first came on the radar of Michigan fans during the recruitment of his former teammate, Blake Countess. At the time, everyone was reasonably confident about Michigan's chances of luring the five star talent to Ann Arbor, and there were already early talks of spring/summer visits.

However over the off season it surfaced that Diggs had some academic issues and Michigan backed off. Of course most other schools didn't back off, and Michigan lost significant ground; but they still made his top 11 schools at the start of the season.

Diggs has since really improved in the classroom and is now by all accounts, set to qualify academically. Once Michigan got word of this, they were back on him. Fortunately, one Michigan man who never stopped recruiting Diggs was Blake Countess. The two remain very good friends and Diggs was encouraged to see that Michigan lets the true freshman Countess play over a senior (Woolfolk) at CB.

A random Twitter conversation between the two in which Countess says they should wear the #2 and #1 jersey's between them (representing the team's #1 WR and #1 DB) really caught the eye of Michigan fans and the buzz started to rebuild.

Now last week we have Sam Webb's article in the DetNews which suggests that Michigan has a pretty good chance with Diggs and that he's looking to set up a visit for after the season. He'll be narrowing things down to a top 7 shortly, which means two teams in that list won't get an official visit - Michigan badly needs one.

Right now I'd say Michigan definitely trails some schools like Cal, Virginia, maybe Miami too, plus there are the national powers that are still after him, Florida, Oklahoma, USC etc. So all in all, despite the recent optimism, things still aren't looking that great from Michigan's perspective. It's great to be back in the hunt, but Michigan have a long way to go if they want to win him over before signing day.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Payton decision almost here?

According to his Twitter feed, Jordan Payton has almost arrived at his college decision. He was originally scheduled to announce it a couple weeks back, but delayed it after visiting Notre Dame for their game against USC.

As far as I know, he hasn't taken anymore visits since then, which means Michigan is still the favorite in my book. If he chooses a Midwest school, chances are it will be Michigan, but if he decides to visit a California school in the next few days, like UCLA, Cal or even USC (where he was originally committed remember!), then we could be in trouble.

While we're on the subject of WRs, Michigan is seemingly back in the hunt for WR Stefon Diggs after Michigan reestablished contact with him. I'll be doing a fairly big post on him that goes over his entire recruitment and who the leaders are right now + Michigan's chances.

Also for the record, one of our other WR targets, Amara Darboh, will be visiting Notre Dame this weekend.

Defending Denard

In the comments section of the post below, there is a fair bit of criticism of Denard Robinson, and I've also had a series of email from someone (you know who you are! :P) saying that Denard should not be the starting QB. Personally I find all this talk pretty silly, especially when you look at the numbers Denard put up last year when he was in a comfortable system.

We have to remember that whilst Denard is a junior, this is his first year as a starting QB in Borges' system, and he's playing against some pretty good defenses on the road. If you remember he struggled to pass during his first year in RR's system, and look what happened his 2nd year. It's not unreasonable to think that Denard will make another jump forward this offseason.

At times we also have to question the play calling, as especially against Illinois it was painfully obvious whether we were going to run the ball or pass. But still, Denard actually put up some ok numbers through the air as he went 6/9 for 92 yards with no INTs, I'm giving him a pass for the hail mary play as that was always liking to end up as a pick.

You also have to give Illinois some credit, they brought a lot of pressure and their front four was very active in the backfield, especially Whitney Mercilus; our OL really struggled to block him at times.

Also, Michigan doesn't exactly have a great core of Wide Receivers. Hemingway is pretty good but prone to some easy drops, Roundtree has been non existent this season, and most of the others are undersized. Darryl Stonum's return next year should really help Denard to stretch the field.

Now let's look at Devin Gardner, who a few of you probably think should be the starting QB. He went 2/5 for 47 yards and a TD. I'll give Devin props for the TD pass as that was really nicely done, the OL gave him time and he stepped up and hit Odoms with a perfect pass. But apart from that his performance was still quite sketchy; I didn't think he looked comfortable out there.

I didn't watch the Iowa game, so I can't talk about Denard's performance there, but I watched every snap of the Illinois game and he was nowhere near as bad as some people are making him out to be. If you go back and watch the game you'll see him actually make some nice throws; if Odoms was taller he would have had a TD pass too.

The entire offense plays better at home, so it'll be interesting to see how Denard does, assuming he's healthy, against the defense of Nebraska, which is pretty good. I would like to see more, and better designed QB runs, and more short throws on 1st downs from Borges, as I think that would really help to build up Denard's confidence.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Halftime Review (Updated for post game)

Got to be happy with the defense, they have been truly dominant for two quarters there against a talented Illinois offense. But our own offense is seemingly holding us back by turning the ball over in FG range. The game should be out of Illinois' reach already, and yet they are only down 14-0 at the half.

Michigan's offense started off very well with Fitzgerald Tousiannt gaining nice yardage and Robinson running in a couple TDs. But then Illinois just starting selling out on the run, and yet we still called run plays on first down.

Denard has made some nice throws, it's just these negative yardage plays and turnovers that are killing us. I've also got to question the play calling in key situations. On the 4th and 1, personally I'd kick a field goal just to keep the momentum going forward. Either that or I would have run it out of a stronger formation, not 3 WRs when the defense KNOWS you're running the ball so they don't have to spread.

Post game review:

The second half wasn't really an improvement offensively. Michigan started poorly with the injury to Denard, and Devin didn't really look too comfortable in there. The defense showed up again in the 2nd half and J.T Floyd came up with a great play to make the interception; he deserved to run that back for a TD, shame he couldn't.

Towards the end of the game Devin made a couple nice 3rd down conversions through the air, one of which was a big touchdown pass that really iced the game. So props to Devin for that, but really Michigan still has a long way to go offensively.

Player of the game: This is a tough one. I thought Mike Martin and RVB played REALLY well together on the DL, and they had like three or four sacks between them. Fitzgerald Tousiannt obviously had a good game, but for me MVP has to be J.T Floyd. The INT was a real momentum changer, and he was very strong against A.J Jenkins in one-on-one coverage. I don't think Jenkins ever truly 'beat him' on a play.

Looking ahead: Nebraska will be tough, but I like Michigan's chances at home. Taylor Martinez could be hard to stop on the option though.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Illinois Prediction

I finally got round to watching the Iowa footage, and it wasn't as bad as first thought. Denard, although woeful on the deep pass, didn't appear to play that bad. However he could struggle this Saturday against a pretty decent Illinois defense.

Before the season I had this down as a loss, and I'm actually going to stick with that prediction. Illinois has lost three straight games, but they got a bye week to refocus and heal up; they'll come out firing at home and take a quick lead.

I like Michigan's D, but I don't think they'll be able to handle the option run of Illinois whilst trying to contain A.J Jenkins, at least not for four quarters on the road. On offense, Michigan will have to deal with the NCAA's lead sack specialist, Whitney Mercilus, who is likely to cause our RT all kinds of problems. I think Illinois will get pressure on Denard, and force him into some bad throws, and turnovers.

Prediction: Michigan 20; Illinois 24

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Quick hitters

- Firstly, defensive commitment Pharaoh Brown says he will be start as a tight end at Michigan. I guess this isn't too surprising given that A.J Williams is likely to grow into an offensive lineman, and Michigan really needs more tight ends after Chris Barnett left the program over the summer. This move shouldn't have a big effect on Michigan's current class.

- There's been a lot of talk about Shaq Thompson visiting Michigan. It sounds like it will happen eventually, but probably not for a while, and I wouldn't be too hopeful of it either. Yuri Wright is probably a more realistic option right now if Michigan wants another DB.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Where are they now: Jake Fisher

Name: Jake Fisher

Position: OT

Recruitment: Jake Fisher came on the scene as a raw but highly talented in state offensive lineman, who was quickly snapped up by Rich Rod before his senior season. However, after Rodriguez was let go by Michigan, Fisher decommitted and started to look at other programs. Despite strong effort from the Michigan coaching staff to hold onto him, Fisher found a new home in Eugene, Oregon.

Oregon: There are not many stats I can give you for an offensive lineman, so I posed the question to an expert: Charles Fischer of Fishduck.com, more on him later. The review:

"We have been surprised through the whole process with Jake Fisher. First we didn't know a thing about him when he decommitted, but Coach Kelly did and apparently others knew of his abilities considering the big-time offer list. He was a Rivals three star--so most of yawn, and say, "well that's nice," but it's not a huge thing one way or another.

Yet later when Jake committed to Oregon--Coach Kelly stated that Jake was one of the best Offensive Linemen in nation, or "he didn't know what he was doing." That set many of us back because his ability to analyze talent has almost become legendary in Eugene. He offered a small town QB from Texas a schollie on the second day of camp....and he hadn't done much in his HS career yet going into his senior year. He was later selected as Rivals National HS Player of the Year. He offered another QB on the second day of camp...and this guy hadn't even started for his HS team yet! Marcus Mariotta went on to be MVP of the Hawaiian All-Star Game and holds one of the most impressive videos of a HS QB yet. So Chip's comments got tons of attention toward Jake.

As a true freshman he has passed tons of upperclassmen on the Offensive line to be not only on the second team, but one of the top three players who come in as relief. As a freshman? And he has done well. Even when he gets beat he was smart enough to drive the defender BACKWARDS and the RB cut around him. This is stuff that OLinemen don't get about Zone Blocking until the light goes on mid-sophmore year. Jake's got it now, and we are pleased.

Oregon recruited a group of highly ranked OLinemen last year...and they all redshirted but Jake. All them got the pub...but Jake has the PT already. Oregon needs to improve the beef on the Offensive Line and we feel that last year's group of seven will be the line that beats some SEC teams in a few years. Jake is going to head that group.

Count us as lucky to have him and myself as grateful for him and Chip's ability to analyze and recruit."


What could have been: That's definitely high praise! To earn significant playing time as a freshman on the offensive line is certainly a big deal. One has to question whether he could do it at Michigan, where the Wolverines are trying to build a massive offensive line; i.e he would have needed to bulk up more for Michigan than the spread of Oregon.
Still, with Michigan's depth on the offensive line, Fisher was one of our key recruits in the 2011 class and looking back it's really disappointing that we missed out on him. Having him and Taylor Lewan as our tackles down the road would be pretty cool.


Extra: The review on Jake Fisher came from Oregon football Analyst Charles Fischer, who runs one of the top new football websites on the net: fishduck.com. His video analysis of the Oregon spread offense is really, really good and I'd recommend it to anyone who is keen on learning about the spread, or anyone who is trying to get better at NCAA12!

Links:
http://fishduck.com/
http://www.youtube.com/user/FishDuck83

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Commitment Profile: Drake Johnson

Name: Drake Johnson

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Position: RB

Ratings: ESPN – 2* (72), Scout – 2*, 247 Sports - NR*


Recruitment: As you'll see from his offers list below, this wasn't a big recruiting battle. Basically Johnson woke up one morning and discovered that Michigan had offered him, and with the Wolverines being his dream school, he committed instantly. Easy as that.

Offers: Michigan, Eastern Michigan.

Stats: Currently stands at 6’1 and around 205lbs, with a no reported 40 yard dash time. However he is a very successful track athlete and has set numerous records in that field, so we can assume he's fast, and at 200lbs, that's a very good sign. So far as a senior he's amassed 2757 yards and 37TDs according to one of our blog commenters!

ESPN Analysis: Johnson has the size and athleticism for the running back position at the major level of competition; it appears his frame is capable of handling additional bulk over time. Can run inside and out, possessing the ability to break tackles in the open field.

Has quick feet which combined with his good vision allow him to hit the holes fairly swiftly. Also has good hands and can be a threat out of the backfield as a receiver; does his best work on the outside in open space.

He's an under the radar prospect with the size and speed combination to warrant further evaluations later in the year; his current level of competition might be a cause for concern.

Improvements: It's an outrageously positive review for someone with a rating of 72; I guess his low ratings reflect the fact that he didn't show up to many camps/combines.

Film Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoNlxe8HgLc

Final Thoughts: As with all Michigan commits who join the fold with bad ratings, we pass them off as sleeper prospects who will eventually turn into great discoveries! With Johnson's combination of size and speed, there's no reason to believe he isn't a true sleeper prospect who could develop into a real football talent.

Playing time will be hard to come by for him early on, but apparently he's good at returning kicks and punts, so he could see the field that way. Rawls, Hayes and others will occupy the backfield for at least a couple years before Johnson challenges for a starting role.

Overall I'm generally always happy with a commitment, especially such an athletic one as this. However, not all evaluations of Johnson will be that good, after all there must be a reason why only UM and EMU thought him to be worthy of an offer. Is he a track star playing football? Or the other way round, only time will tell.

Michigan wanted a running back in this class, and this should be him. With only two theoretical spaces left in this class, I don't think Michigan should be looking at another RB. A WR and a DB/OL should be what rounds out the class. This of course means that there would be no place for Brionte Dunn; the only way he gets in this class is if Michigan has more departures and thus more spaces available.

While we're on the subject of Dunn, my optimism on his recruitment has died down dramatically after the recent surge of OSU. The Buckeyes are winning games again, and that can't hurt their chances with Dunn. He visited the Buckeyes for their game against Wisky and had a great time, and he still hasn't visited Michigan officially yet.

Commit #24: RB Drake Johnson

In state (or even in city) RB Drake Johnson has committed to the Wolverines today, shortly after receiving his offer from the coaching staff. I actually have a lecture to go to, so a commitment post will have to follow later tonight.

Just quickly, this all but certainly means Michigan is out of it with Brionte Dunn, as I doubt they would want to take two RBs with only a few spaces left in the class.

Secondly, Drake is having an extremely productive season and has earned his offer, in fact it was probably only a matter of time given his stats; more on them later!

Quick Hitters

As per usual, not much is going on with Michigan recruiting at the moment, but here's a few quick notes on CFB in general.

- The talk about an LSU-Alabama rematch is really annoying me! LSU beat Alabama on Bama's home field, so why on earth do the Tide deserve another chance? If you can't beat them at home, in theory you shouldn't beat them on a neutral site. Unfortunately I think the way it plays out is that the rematch will happen, because Bama stayed so high in the polls. Personally I'd rather see Oregon get a rematch, because if they cut out the silly mistakes, their offense could easily put points up on the Tigers when healthy.

- Jordan Payton still hasn't committed anywhere, and the longer it goes on, the more worried I am that it won't be Michigan. Is he having doubts about leaving the West Coast? If so, Cal will probably come back into it, and that would worry me more than ND do right now. Also in WR recruiting news, Jehu Chesson has lined up the UM-OSU game as his official visit date.

- TE Ron Thompson committed to Syracuse yesterday, which is a real shame in my view. Thompson is arguably one of the most talented pass catching TE's in the country, but for unknown reasons it just didn't work out with Michigan. Best of luck to him at Syracuse.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Tough times

What a mixed day! I had an unbelievable experience in the Directors Box at the Emirates Stadium today for the Arsenal-West Brom game, but my mood is now poor after hearing of Michigan's close loss to Iowa!

The loss pretty much kills Michigan's chances of going to the B10 title game, so now the only thing I care about is beating Ohio State. If I was offered an 8-4 season with a win over OSU at the start of the season I would have snapped up that offer, and the same goes for right now.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Mid Week game prediciton

I'm going back home from University tomorrow and will be busy for the next few days, so I'll do this week's prediction now. For the record, I was pretty close on the Purdue score last Saturday! Anyway, on to Iowa...

The Hawkeyes obviously had a terrible result last week losing to Minnesota, but that doesn't mean we are going to walk over them this week, especially not in their home stadium. Iowa is undefeated at home this year, and on paper has a talented enough team to cause Michigan some serious problems on Saturday.

Firstly, on offense they have a running back that went over 250 yards last week in Marcus Coker, and then they have a QB with a passing rating of 178.3 at home. Lets also not forget the schools all time TD receptions leader, Marvin McNutt. I haven't seen much of Iowa's O-Line, but from a skill position perspective, they look good on offense. Michigan defended the run quite well last week, but struggled against MSU in run D, so that is a concern.

For Michigan's offense, the key is getting Fitzgerald Tousiannt into the game early to take some of the pressure off Denard. The health of our OL is a concern here. If Michigan can establish the run early and not turn the ball over through passing, then I think they can put up a fair amount of points against this average Hawkeyes D who have conceded 27, 31 and 24 points to Pitt, NW and Indiana respectively at home.

Despite the success of our defense this year, I am worried about Iowa's offense this week, but if Michigan can force a couple of turnovers it should be enough to pull out the win. For this, having Jordan Kovacs back would be huge, but I guess we don't want to rush him back. In the end I think Michigan just does enough on offense to pull out a close win.

Prediction: Iowa 27 ; Michigan 30

Sidenote: Unfortunately I won't be watching the game this Saturday, as I've somehow got myself into the Directors box at Arsenal Football Club for their match against West Brom! Still, I'll probably be following the game on ESPN's scorecenter!

Carvin Johnson Leaves Program

Sophomore safety Carvin Johnson has left the program this week, becoming the latest in a long, long line of Michigan secondary departures.

I actually quite liked Johnson as a player, he showed a fair bit of promise even under Greg Robinson's watch, so I figured he would take the next step under Mattison. Unfortunately this hasn't happened and Thomas Gordon beat him out at free safety.

Like all other departures this year, this takes Michigan very close to the target of 26 scholarships available for the class of 2012 to take up. It also increases the likelihood that another one of those 26 spots will go to a defensive back....Yuri Wright we hope.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Basketball recruiting?

I very, very rarely talk about Basketball recruiting on here, but recent news forces me into this special post. Even if you're not that keen on basketball, this still is still major news because it should in theory have a very positive impact on the University as a whole!

Mitch McGary, who is the number two overall prospect in the class of 2012, is meant to be announcing his college decision this Thursday, and he's down to just Michigan, Duke and Florida. Right now, everyone seems to be saying Michigan will be the choice.

If Michigan were to land him on Thursday, it would really mark a step forward in Michigan's basketball program, which has been good/not great over the last 3 years. Usually a guy like McGary would end up at the traditional powerhouses like Duke, UNC or Kentucky, so for Michigan to steal him on Thursday would be something special, keep your fingers crossed.