J.B. Fitgerald goes Blue

J.B. Fitzgerald, as expected, pledged his commitment to become a Michigan Wolverine. Fitzgerald is the second linebacker recruit in the 2008 class, joining fellow New Jerseyan (Jerseyite? Jersish?) Marcus Witherspoon.

Fitzgerald, while only a four-star prospect, was the main focus of Steve Szabo’s recruiting push of late (Szabo is the linebacker coach, as well as Michigan’s recruiter for New Jersey). Fitagerald is the player for whom Michigan eased recruiting on such players as Steve Filer (ND) and Jon Major (still uncommitted).

At 6-3, 225, Fitzgerald is a Strongside or Middle Linebacker. More on Fitzgerald to come.

Posted under Recruiting

Comments Off on J.B. Fitgerald goes Blue

Tags: , ,

JB Fitzgerald Announcement Set

New Jersey Linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald has set his college pledge announcement for tomorrow night. Fitzgerald will announce at a press conference at his school, set to air during halftime of ESPN’s Thursday Night Football game, LSU at Mississippi.

Fitzgerald, considered a four-star player by both recruiting services, has reportedly narrowed his choices to Michigan and Rutgers. All reports indicate that Michigan will be receiving good news.

Posted under Recruiting

Position Preview: Special Teams

Special Teams
Gingell Wright Mesko Minor
or Lopata
Mesko Wright C. Brown Mathews
S. Brown
or Horn
C. Brown

This will be a rebuilding year for the special teams, as Michigan graduated the most prolific kicker and the most prolific kick returner in its history, in Garrett Rivas and Steve Breaston.

Kicks will be taken over (for now) by walkon Jason Gingell, with scholarship kicker Bryan Wright and fellow walkon K.C. Lopata still challenging behind him. Wright might step in to take care of extra-length field goals, as he has the largest leg of the group. He will also handle kickoff duties.

Punting will be handled by Zoltan the Magnificent, and I assume Bryan Wright would step in shall some form of kryptonite strike Mesko.

Returns will be handled by a bevy of the speedy players that Michigan employs. Johnny Sears will be the starter for punts, and Brandon Harrison will presumably team up alongside Brandon Minor (or it will be Minor and Sears) on kickoff return.

No proven talent here, probably the scariest position group for Michigan. 4/10

Posted under Personnel

Comments Off on Position Preview: Special Teams

Tags: , ,

Recruiting Board Update

Tennessee OT Preston Bailey removed, as he will announce for Tennessee tomorrow. Christian Wilson moved to committed. MI LB Kenny Demens is tentatively set to announce next Tuesday.

QB 1 Commits Presumed Leans Prospects Longshots
John Weinke
Steven Threet (07)
RB 1-2 Sam McGuffie
Mike Cox
Christian Wilson
OL 4-5 Dann O’Neill Trevor Robinson Zebrie Sanders
Elliott Mealer
Kurt Wermers
Rocko Khoury
WR 2-3 Darryl Stonum Deion Walker Michael Floyd
Jon Baldwin
Vaughn Carraway
TE 1-2 Brandon Moore
Kevin Koger
DT 1-2 Mike Martin
DE 1-2 Jamaar Jarrett Nick Perry Shayne Hale
LB 2-3 Marcus Witherspoon J.B. Fitzgerald Kenny Demens Jon Major
S 1-2 Brandon Smith Spencer Adams
Will Hill
Rahim Moore
CB 1-2 Boubacar Cissoko Marc Anthony Robbie Green J.T. Floyd
Ath Cameron Saddler

Posted under Recruiting

Comments Off on Recruiting Board Update

Tags: ,

Position Preview: Defensive Backs

Defensive Backs
CB FS SS Nickel CB
Trent S. Brown Adams Harrison Sears
Warren Englemon Stewart Williams Dutch
Chambers Campbell Woolfolk

The safeties look to be the strength of this unit, and certainly are in terms of depth. Jamar Adams has all-conference potential in his senior year at the SS position. Charles Stewart, a former conerback, will back him up, and Anton Campbell has thus far been a special teams player and little else. At the free safety position, Sophomore Stevie Brown is expected to step up and take the starting job away from Brandent Englemon, who earned starts last year. The loss of Ryan Mundy to WVU will probably be addition by subtraction. Freshman Artis Chambers enrolled in the spring, and despite looking a little stiff, impressed observers. He may not redshirt this year, but instead get spot duty in addition to special teams playing time. Freshman James Rogers is tiny, and will need to be in a year of strength training before he is ready to contribute.

The corner position is still a little scary for fans who weren’t impressed by Morgan Trent or Johnny Sears last year, because those two will be the starters in 2007, at least at the beginning of the year. Trent is a fast guy who is still learning the position after spending his redshirt year as a wideout. Sears looks the part, but hasn’t been able to put the mental part of the game together yet. He worked this summer with some alumni of his high school, powerhouse Fresno Edison. Doug Dutch moved to the position in the spring to provide some depth, but will likely still be learning it. Freshman Troy Woolfolk is a speedster, but small for the position. He will probably not redshirt his freshman year. The other freshman, Donovan Warren, will be thrust into action, and some experts expect him to be starting by the end of the year. He was a top-top recruit, and is considered the heir apparent to the lockdown corner crown that has been worn at UM by the likes of Ty Law and Charles Woodson.

The weak link of the defense, strong at safety, but weak on the corners without players stepping up 5/10.

Posted under Personnel

Comments Off on Position Preview: Defensive Backs

Tags: , ,

Position Preview: Linebackers

C. Graham
or Mouton
or Ezeh
Logan Panter Ezeh
or Mouton
Evans Herron

This is a definite rebuilding year for a linebacker corps losing two of three starters. Shawn Crable is the lone returning starter, and is expected to turn in an All-conference season. He is backed up by redshirt freshmen Jonas Mouton and Obi Ezeh at the SAM position. Freshman Brandon Herron also plays the SAM, and will probably redshirt.

Middle linebacker will be manned by both Johnny Thompson and Obi Ezeh. Thompson is a stronger player against the run, Ezeh against the pass. Junior College transfer Austin Panter does not yet have the strength to play against the run, but will likely earn some playing time this year. Thompson was a monster in the 2005 Iowa game in David Harris’s absence, but has not shown a whole lot in his other game experience. The other two players are relative unknowns.

At the weakside position, Chris Graham is expected to be the starter. Former safety Jonas Mouton, a redshirt freshman, is considered the stronger player in coverage, and may take over the starting role by the end of the year. Graham is a little guy at only 5-11, which may hold him back. Brandon Logan provides depth, and true freshman Marrell Evans will probably redshirt. In fall camp, he has looked impressive at the position, but needs a year of weight training to get up to playing size.

My completely arbitrary and meaningless rating: 5/10

Posted under Personnel

Comments Off on Position Preview: Linebackers

Tags: , ,

Recruiting Report: OLSM v. Cass Tech

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s took on Detroit Cass Tech today in Orchard Lake, and a number of Michigan prospects/commits were in action. I previously took in an OLSM scrimmage, and reported on two of their prospects here. Today, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s prevailed in a fairly lopsided game (the 28-6 score did not tell the whole story) where both teams tried (without much success) to run the ball much of the time. Cass Tech seemed to be the more athletic team, but not as well coached as the Eaglets.

Boubacar Cissoko Cass Tech WR/CB #2 Michigan commit ’08
Cissoko was Cass Tech’s do-it-all man, returning punts and kicks, playing corner on defense, and wide receiver on offense. Oh yeah, and the soccer player also handled kickoffs and punts for the technicians. In my previous experiences with Cissoko, I had been under the impression that his listed height was greater than the 5-7 he is typically reported to be. However, seeing Cissoko in action, it was obvious he was a tiny guy. As just a high school senior, it is possible that he is still growing.

On defense, Cissoko was not afraid to get physical with much bigger players, and he was frequently matched up against Dion Sims. Despite giving Sims almost a foot in height and close to 100 pounds, Cissoko showed no fear in jamming Sims off the line and downfield. Cissoko did get burned once deep, as he got his head around too late on a long pass, and due to his height, was unable to compensate. He did, however, make the tackle a couple yards shy of the endzone. As a tackler, Cissoko tends to focus on the hit, rather than wrapping up the ballcarrier. However, on the occasion that Cissoko wasn’t able to get a clean shot on the carrier, he wisely used his arms to take out the legs. Cissoko chased down two sweep plays in the backfield, one of them on a shoestring tackle.

Offensively, Cissoko impressed more than I thought he would. He ran crisp routes, and when he was open, he threw his hand in the air to demand the ball. Cass Tech’s QB, Thomas Gordon, only found him a couple of times as he was under pressure much of the contest. When Cissoko did get his hands on the ball, he was a breaston-like playmaker, using his quickness to get YAC. I actually liked him on offense almost as much as I did on the defensive side of the ball. Cissoko did get by a defender deep once, but Gordon overthrew him in the endzone.

On special teams, Cissoko returned a few punts and kicks, but was unable to make anything truly special happen.

William Campbell Cass Tech DT/OT #73 Michigan commit ’09
William Campbell was a man amongst boys on the lines for Cass Tech. He was a healthy 6-6, 310, and had at least 4-5 inches and 30 pounds over just about everyone else he played with and against.

On Defense, Campbell played both inside and outside. He was not quick off the edge, but could easily take on blockers to make plays. He helped Cass’s D-Line control the line of scrimmage (as both D-lines did on this day), holding St. Mary’s to negative yardage on most plays, except when they could scrounge out 1-2 yards, though OLSM did manage to break into the secondary on a coupld occasions. Campbell showed a willingness to chase down plays from the backside, though with his speed he was unlikely to catch anyone.

I liked Campbell on offense more than I did on defense. He manned the right tackle position for Cass Tech, and showed decent technique. He finished all of his blocks, and was a whistle-to-whistle player in the trenches. At his size, he projects as a tackle at the next level, with his long(ish) arms. I wouldn’t be surprised if Campbell played offense in college.

Dion Sims OLSM TE/WR/LB #8 Michigan prospect ’09
I still see Sims as a TE on the next level if he stays on offense, and if he goes to defense, he would be a defensive end, as he doesn’t play well with his hands, or make great reads, as a linebacker (view the previous OLSM report).

It was a wet day today, so the ball wasn’t thrown around too much, even though neither team could get consistent production on the ground. I don’t believe Sims was thrown to once all day, and certainly not was he was being defended by the lilliputian Cissoko.

Christian Brandt OLSM OT #77 Michigan prospect ’09
Nothing new on Brandt from the last OLSM report. He looked a little more in shape, thuogh that’s more likely my memory playing tricks on me, since the last time I scouted Saint Mary’s was a little over a week ago. He didn’t play on every down on offense. Neither offensive line had a good day, though OLSM was able to break a couple long runs.

Posted under Photo Album, Recruiting

Comments Off on Recruiting Report: OLSM v. Cass Tech

Tags: ,

Fan Day Photo Album


Posted under Photo Album

Comments Off on Fan Day Photo Album

Tags: ,

Position Preview: Defensive Line

Defensive Line
Graham Johnson Taylor Jamison
Patterson Ferrara Slocum Banks
Van Bergen Gallimore Kates

At Defensive end, Brandon Graham will hope to follow a less circuitous version of the Lamarr Woodley career path. The high school linebacker will likely never play that position in college, instead staying at defensive end his whole career. Graham has lost weight in the offseason, helping him maintain his speed, though he has battled minor injuries in training camp. The other side will be manned by Tim Jamison, a speedy penetrator who has been injured much of his career, which has kept him out of the starting lineup until now. He was widely considered the starter opposite Woodley last year until a freak ankle injury forced him to sit out and then take a backup role. The redshirt junior looks to finally put together a healthy season.

Backing up those two are a slew of unknowns in redshirt freshmen Greg Banks and Adam Patterson, after the dismissal of James McKinney. They will both be counted on to provide rest for the starters, as there will likely be more rotation this year to give experience to a wider range of players. True freshman Ryan Van Bergen is talented, but may sit out a year to get ready for the college game. LB Shawn Crable will step in on some passing downs.

Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor is the only returner along the defensive line, but he is a good one. Playing the nose position, he is a space-eater rather than a penetrator. He is a likely all-conference candidate. Next to him will be Will Johnson, who steps into a starting role after being a key reserve the past two years. In action last year, he impressed, and was only kept off the field by the exceptional players ahead of him.

Johnny Ferrara will back up the DTs, though he needs to work on his game fitness to be a true factor. The story is similar with Jason Kates. Freshman Marques Slocum will also factor in, as he is ineligible to redshirt after his bizarre academic sojourn to become a Wolverine (Slocum has been dinged up in fall camp with a shoulder injury, but he shouldn’t be sidelined too long). There is also a chance that he could be moved to offense down the road, as he was a VHT offensive tackle as a recruit. Slocum is in good shape, and is a strong player, in the style of a shorter Alan Branch. True freshman Renaldo Sagesse will almost definitely redshirt, as Canadian recruits typically do as he will need to assimilate into the culture a bit, and learn the game as it is played here. Brett Gallimore has been shuffled around during his career, and won’t likely be a factor anywhere.

With depth lacking on the edges, but strong in the middle, this unit earns a 7.5/10

Posted under Personnel

Comments Off on Position Preview: Defensive Line

Tags: , ,

Nonconference Matchups We Won’t See

Thanks to Brian’s link to College Football Resource, we have been afforded the ability to figure out some of the good non-conference games that we could have seen if not for the scourge of I-AA opponents. In the sake of bowl eligibility, money, and various other reasons, I-AA teams have been added to the schedules of many teams. To fix this, the NCAA must eliminate (or reduce) the ability of teams to schedule tomato cans.

Here are some of the non-conference matchups you won’t see. When picking them, I paired teams with similar prestige levels, geographic interest, or other reasons (i.e. The Michigan-Hawaii game on Sept. 1 was going to happen, but was nixed by Hawaii’s athletic department, as they are trying to sneak into the BCS this year, and didn’t want to risk a loss). When all the most interesting possibilities were used, I just paired up the remaining teams, which still allows for some paycheck games (Florida-Louisiana Tech comes to mind). Obviously, matchups between two teams in the same conference were not allowed.

Aug. 30
Boise State-Louisville
Cincinnati-New Mexico State

Sept. 1
Air Force-Kentucky
Fresno St-Rice
Florida-Louisiana Tech
Maryland-Texas A&M
North Carolina-South Florida
Northwestern-Ohio U
Alabama-Ohio State

Left out:
Southern Miss

Sept. 8
Connecticut-Georgia Tech
Idaho-Northern Illinois
Illinois-Iowa St

Left out:

Sept. 15
Alabama Birmingham-Baylor
Clemson-North Carolina St
Kansas St-South Carolina
Kent St-Marshall
Oregon St-Rutgers

Sept. 22
Central Michigan-UTEP
Eastern Michigan-Tulane
Hawai`i-Western Michigan
Mississippi St-San Diego St
Missouri-Virginia Tech

Left out:
New Mexico

Sept. 29
Boston College-Oklahoma St
Bowling Green-New Mexico St
San José St-Texas Tech

Oct. 6

Oct. 20
Brigham Young-Minnesota

Nov. 24
Houston-North Texas

There are still a few weeks where there is only 1 I-AA matchup, or the two I-A teams are in the same conference, but still, this is a far more compelling schedule than the way it shakes out in the real world.

Posted under Analysis

Comments Off on Nonconference Matchups We Won’t See

Tags: , ,