Tuesday Quick Hits

I swear, I’m really trying to avoid doing these posts with any regularity.

  • Ricky Barnum has sprained his ankle, and will miss a few spring practices to get wrist surgery. His wrist was (apparently) pretty damaged, and he was working through it before. While it sucks that he’s sustained another injury, at least it gave him the opportunity to get the wrist taken care of.
  • Denard Robinson 100m 10.44 seconds Michigan QBDenard Robinson has claimed the 2nd-fastest 100m dash time in the country so far this year for high-schoolers. The incoming QB ran a 10.44 time, and expects to run in the 10.3s when track season gets underway in earnest. (Photo by Tom Ervin for the Miami Herald).
  • Devin Gardner plans to publicly commit to Michigan either Thursday or Friday. He apparently did so silently at junior day, but wanted to finish out his basketball season before worrying about dealing with the press.
  • Darryl Stonum has debunked the rumors that he’s intending to transfer from Michigan at the end of spring practice.
  • VB (Paul and Tim, at least) plans to be at todays 3:05 PM baseball game at the Fish. Feel free to say hello to us.

And, in site news: If you take a look at the top of the right sidebar, the subscription options have changed slightly. You can still subscribe via RSS, but there are now other possibilities. There is now an official VB Twitter account to which you can subscribe @VarsityBlue. You can subscribe via e-mail, which will inform you whenever there is a new front page post on Varsity Blue. And, perhaps what we’re most excited about, we’re going to start rolling out a VB Newsletter, which we’ll send out once a week (you can help us determine which day when you sign up), and will include a recap of the week’s action on Varsity Blue, along with a bit of information that may not have made it to the front page, and even a preview of what is coming in the next week. It might start out a little spartan in design (no pun intended), but we’ll be beefing it up in short order.

In other site news, we plan to debut a couple new features on VB in the coming weeks, though they’re not quite ready for public consumption yet. I’ll keep you posted when everything is ready to go live.

Posted under Baseball, Blog News, Football, Personnel, Recruiting, Spring Coverage

Weekend Recap: Iowa

I’ve had a really busy weekend full of umpiring and school related things, so this was pushed back a day.  Just a reminder, Michigan is at home today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3:05pm for a pair of mid week games again Bowling Green and Oakland respectively.  Get out and support the baseball team! –FA

Game 1

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 4 8 0
Iowa 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 1

W – Chris Fetter (4-1) L – Schatz (1-1) Sv – None

The team sputtered out of the game, collecting several hits, but never having the big inning. In the first inning, Iowa start Nick Brown went 1-2-3 through the top of the order on just 13 pitches.  Cislo, who is ranked nationally for fewest strikeouts per at bat, and Fellows both K’d to start the game, and LaMarre was robbed of a single by Brown who showed he can also field his position well, grabbing a line shot right at him.  Chris Fetter even came out in this game looking a little shaky.  Fetter gave up 3 hits (one double) and a walk in the inning, allowing 3 runs – all earned.  Iowa came out swinging but Michigan wasn’t going down without a fight.

In the top of the second, Michigan answered right back, capitalizing on a Hawkeye error to open the inning.  The tone was set on the opening pitch of the inning when Mike Dufek lined a hard grounder at the first basemen, who couldn’t come up with the ball.  McLouth followed up with a single and Oaks walked to load the bases, setting up John Lorenz with a big RBI opportunity.  Lorenz fell short of the RBI, but in name only.  Dufek would score when Lorenz grounded into a 6-4-3 double play (double plays negate RBIs).  Timmy Kal closed out the scoring in the 2nd with an RBI single to score McLouth.

Fetter also came out more focused in the second inning.  Over the next 8 innings (yes, he threw a complete game), Fetter would allow only 2 more base runners, both from singles; one of those base runners was caught stealing, therefore only causing Fetter to face 25 batters in 8 innings.  Fetter was absolutely dealing.  He struck out 9 batters on the day while inducing 10 ground ball outs.  That’s a pretty solid total.  He’s definitely the player of the game.

Michigan got the go ahead run in the 8th after starter Nick Brown was relieved by Schatz.  Schatz didn’t give up a hit in the inning, but he did have two hit batsmen and a walk, allowing Kevin Cislo to fly out just deep enough into center to get pinch runner Nick Urban in safely.

I think Coach Dahm at Iowa explained it least best:

“We didn’t make many mistakes tonight, but the mistakes we did make they (Michigan) capitalized on them.

Yeah Coach, that makes a ton of sense.

Notable Stars

  • Chris Fetter – 9 IP, 3 ER, BB, 9 K, CG, W
  • Mike Dufek – 2/3 RBI, R, 2 BB

Notable Goats (stretching for these)

  • Kenny Fellows – Only player not to reach base
  • Jake McLouth – Stranded 4 runners

Other Notes

  • Iowa Press-Citizen – Iowa put up a fight but was no match for Fetter
  • The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) – Iowa played tough and is getting better, still not good

Game 2

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 0
Iowa 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 6 0

W – Turnbull  (1-0) L – Eric Katzman (3-2) Sv – Schurz (3)

The weather went cold and so did the bats.  This game was a pitchers duel from start to finish, with neither team appearing particularly loose.  Michigan had their chances, stranding 1st and 3rd in the 2nd, being picked off at third with a runner at first in the 3rd, stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 5th, and stranding runners at 1st and 3rd in the 7th for a total of seven left on base.

It seemed like Michigan could never get going unless there were already two outs in the inning.  Of those innings where we stranded multiple runners (or were picked off in the 3rd), all 6 runners reached base with two outs.  Only in the 7th were we able to string enough hits with two outs to score a run.

Two players were charged with 6 of the total LOB, Toth (4) and Kalcyznzki (2).  While Kalcynzski will do this from time to time, Toth generally doesn’t leave that many on base.  Part of what contributed to this problem was Coach Maloney moving him back into the 2-hole, reversing the switch from the Akron game.  It appears with the recent success Toth has had, and the slight slump Fellows was facing going into this game, Maloney wanted to try and spark the offense.  So much for that idea, huh?  FWIW, Coach did switch them back in game three, the results of which are forthcoming.

On the mound, Katzman had a pretty damn good game.  He went 6 1/3 innings, givnig up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9.  That is a little bit better than your normal Katzman, so Coach has to feel good about that.  Matt Miller and Tyler Burgoon came in relief of Katzman.  Miller only faced one batter, walking him.  Burgoon then came in, walked a batter, then threw a wild pitch, allowing the second run of the game to score (Katzman’s runner).

For Iowa, their starting pitcher, the freshman Hippen pitched a great game.  The lefty has the build to be a good starter, especially if he can get some support around him.  We’ll be seeing much more of him in the next 3 years.

Notable Stars

  • The Pitching Staff (Katzman, Miller, Burgoon) – 8 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 5 K

Notable Goats

  • The offense – 6 H, 1 R, 12 K

Other Notes

  • BTN.com – Iowa played well today, Hippen will be good

Game 3

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 2 0 7 12 3
Iowa 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 5 8 5

W – Travis Smith (4-2) L -Freie (2-2) Sv – Burgoon (3)

The good news is we won and the top half of the order decided to make up for the lack of production in game 2 with a huge effort in game 3.  The bad news is the radio broadcast was cut out due to technical difficulties. Blast – but I’ll take the win, even if its with a temporary snow fence in the outfield:

Because of the snow, and how it affected the non-covered warning track, a temporary blue construction-like fence was put in place to eliminate the warning track from the field of play, shortening Banks Field anywhere from 14-18 feet.

Mike Wilson started this game, but couldn’t make it out of the 3rd inning.  His first inning was solid, his second inning he escaped trouble, but things fell apart in the third.  In the inning he allowed three hits and a walk for a total of three runs.

Travis Smith entered here and did very well.  Over the next 4 1/3 innings, he’d only give up one unearned run on 2 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts.  I’m wondering if the last two appearances won’t get him a bid back into the starting rotation.  He’s done fairly well in the long relief behind Wilson, but the fact we are forced to go to long relief behind Wilson may signal the end of Mike’s stint in the Sunday starter role.

Burgoon also made an appearance in this game, working the final two innings to earn the save.  Burgoon did pretty well despite the run scoring.  He gave up a lead off double followed by two ground outs, the second of which scored a run.  He induced 5 ground balls and struck out a batter.  You can tell Burgoon is on by the higher ground ball to strikeout ratio.  He tends to have a bit more bite on his slider and keeps it down, while his fastball cuts downward slightly.

On offense, Coach Maloney switched Fellows and Toth back into the 2 and 9 hole respectively.  I think Fellows got the message from Maloney that he needed to produce.  Kenny went 4 for 5 on the day with 3 runs and 2 RBIs.  Monster game for Fellows.

Cislo consistently set up Fellows in the right situations, going 2 for 4 with a walk and 3 runs.  LaMarre followed up nicely after Fellows going 2 for 4 with a walk, and Mike Dufek did some cleaning up… in the clean up spot… with a 3 for 5 day and 3 RBIs.  Other than Toth’s 1 for 4 with a run, the rest of the lineup was silent.

Something I found peculiar was Alan Oaks being pulled from the game in the second inning.  He had just struck out (0/2 2 Ks), so I’m not sure if he was being pushed to the bench for his recent lack of offensive production or if he hurt himself.  I sent a quick email to the booth, but they weren’t quite sure what happened either.  We’ll see what sort of playing time he gets the next two days, then we’ll know for sure.

Between Oaks, his replacement Aspinwall, McLouth, Lorenz, and Timmy Kal, the bottom middle of the lineup went a combined 0 for 18 this game.  Toss in Toth and its a whole 1 for 22.  So… Is Nick Urban still sick or what?  Berset can’t get that hand healed fast enough.  We definitely need a kick in this area of the lineup.  It’s been plagued with inconsistency.

Notable Stars

  • Top 4 in the Lineup – 11/18 6 R, 5 RBI, 2B, 3 SB
  • Travis Smith – 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Notable Goats

  • Mike Wilson – 2.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Defense – 3 errors? are you kidding me?
  • Anthony Toth – Unearned run from a fielding error, separate throwing error

Other Notes

  • Michigan Daily – Weekend Recap, we’re scrappy, glad the running games going.  I fully expect anyone who reads that article to make a comment about David Eckstein.

Wrap Up

So we finished the weekend 2-1 which has us tied for 2nd place in the BigTen behind Illinois and tied with Ohio State.  That’s a pretty good start.  I think we really needed to sweep this weekend though.  I don’t think it will cost us a spot in the tournament by any stretch, but every win will be important this season with the stiff competition forming.  Iowa probably wont finish any higher than 7th in the BigTen this year, and that may be generous.  I pegged them for 8th before the conference season began.  Like I said, we really should have swept, but the stranding runners and making meh pitchers look great caught up to us again.  Blame the cold weather, the bus trip, whatever.  It’s gone now and all the boys can do is continue to work hard to win more games.

Next weekend we get a step up in competition with Penn State at home.  The Nittany Lions are a middle of the road BigTen team, I’d place around 5-7th place range.  They have some quality pitching, but don’t quite have the hitting prowess.

As for today (Tuesday), we face Bowling Green at the Fish at 3:05pm.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Coach Maloney’s former program Oakland.  I’ll try to get some sort of preview out by the game, but I’ve been swamped by things the last two days (hence this being late as it is).

Posted under Baseball

Recruiting Update 3-30-09

The 2010 Recruiting Board can be found here.

Added to the Board as Committed:
Michigan 2010 RB commit Tony Drake

TX RB/Slot Tony Drake, who received an offer and committed immediately. Tony Drake Commitment Post. Jim Stefani posted an information dump on Drake, from which these are the highlights, translated into coherent thoughts:

Overshadowed by several D-I prospects at Skyline, including receivers Mike Davis (LSU) and Joe Powell (Oklahoma), but a legit big-time talent with 4.4 speed. Projects as a slotback in college. Drake combined for 605 rushing and receiving yards as a sophomore, and averaged 10.5 yards per touch. As a sophomore starter at WR he was a second team All-district choice and had 260 yards receiving, combined for 605 rushing and receiving yards, and averaged 10.5 yards per touch.. As a junior back-up RB to senior James White ([3-star] Iowa State signee), he was second on the team in rushing with 55 carries for 429 yards (7.8ypc) and 3 TDs. He added 7 receptions for 73 yards.

So, yeah.

From Jim Stefani‘s Twitter feed:

JimStefaniLook for Devin Gardner to offically go public to Michigan in the next 10 days

That was Friday, so keep an eye out in the next few days. Gardner said he would be announcing as soon as basketball ended, and his team lost 63-56 to Patrick Lucas-Perry (yes, that Lucas-Perry)’s Flint Powers team over the weekend. Thus, the announcement should come any time now.

SoFlaFootball brings the recruiting fluff on FL QB Stephen Morris (he recently got his first offer, from FIU). Also, Morris’s junior highlights:

Stephen Morris from SoFLAfootball.com on Vimeo.

OH QB/Ath Spencer Ware has been selected to the Army AA game.

While we’re on the topic of QB recruits, FL QB Christian Green is favoring Florida State (this is not earth-shattering news, so much as common knowledge by this point. However, he does say that he wants to play in a spread offense. Conventional wisdom also has him wanting to play WR, not QB, at the next level.

After stating in no uncertain terms that Michigan would be getting an official visit from him, SC RB Marcus Lattimore has released a top 10 list, which does indeed include Michigan. It also includes Georgia, Florida State, LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina, and Duke. He has also stated that his Michigan official will be for The Game on November 21.

OH WR commit Jerald Robinson has been named 2nd team all-state in basketball.

GA WR Tai-ler Jones, a teammate of QB target Blake Sims, has narrowed his list of potential choices to 7:

“I made a top seven. It’s Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Cal, UCLA, North Carolina and Stanford. I wanted to name a top five, but I just felt like I couldn’t decide which two to cut. So I decided on a top seven.”

No Michigan. With a decision coming by the end of April, the Wolverines don’t have much time to get back in on him, so he’s been removed from the board. Unclear whether this will have any effect on Michigan’s pursuit of Sims.

Added to the board because he’s been offered (info in header): NJ OL Jake Kaufman.

MN OL Seantrel Henderson still has to be considered a longshot for Michigan to land, but he “was especially impressed” with his unofficial visit last weekend.

2010 Michigan Linebacker William Gholston

Josh Helmholdt sees your fluff, and raises with more fluff, Mr. Webb. I’d still consider the Wolverines a heavy underdog to land MI DE William Gholston, but they’ve been able to make some progress in recruiting him. As Helmholdt says in the Free Press, he’s been on campus a lot lately, and has seemed to really like Greg Robinson, particularly the “spinner” position, which would fit his skill set perfectly. Gholston does not plan to make an early decision, which is probably good for Michigan. The longer he waits, the more opportunities he’ll have to visit Michigan’s campus, realize Mark Dantonio is a douchebag, see that 2008 was an aberration, not a trend, etc.

IL DE Chance Carter, long thought to be a Notre Dame lock anyway, has eliminated all but four schools from the running for his services: Notre Dame, Stanford, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. With an early commitment pending (he plans to decide by May), Michigan doesn’t have much of a shot to get into this one, and I’ve removed him from the board.

2010 TX LB Caleb Lavey

Sam Webb’s weekly recruiting column in the Detroit News focused on TX LB Caleb Lavey this time around (particularly, his dad’s having been an equipment manager in the 70s). Lavey, who recently visited Ann Arbor and enjoyed himself greatly, grew up a Michigan fan (pictured at left touring the Michigan locker room in 2002, at approximately 10 years old), and is carrying the Robert Tate Forcier Memorial Chilhood Michigan Fandom Picture torch for the class of 2010. With Michigan having offered few linebackers to this point, and Lavey one of them, I’d assume that he is one of their top LB prospects, and perhaps the one with whom they have the best chance this early in the process. He’s currently in the process of unofficially visiting just about every school in America, so don’t expect him to make a decision until the summer. For personal info on Caleb (including his schedule of visits), you can always check out his website.

Gholston photo by Matt Pargoff for the Detroit Free Press, Lavey photo from a family collection.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

Lacrosse Weekend Report

Another weekend, another sweep for the men’s Lacrosse team. The going wasn’t quite so easy this time though, as rival (and national #4-ranked team) BYU came into Oosterbaan for the Saturday contest.

Michigan Lacrosse Josh Ein v. Central MichiganCentral Michigan
 The Chippewas put up more of a fight than Michigan’s former CCLA opponent to date, Eastern (whom Michigan defeated 33-8), but still couldn’t hang with the clearly-superior Wolverines, who downed them by a count of 21-4. The Wolverines’ fast start was key to their dominance of the game, as they took a commanding 5-0 lead within the first 6 minutes of the contest. Anthony Hrsovsky opened the scoring, then Trevor Yealy and Kevin Zorovich each scored back-to-back goals. The Chippewas didn’t manage to get on the board until just before halftime, but they already trailed 10-0 by that point. Anthony Hrsovsky (4), Trevor Yealy, Kevin Zorovich, Wes McGowan, and Josh Ein all netted hat tricks in the beatdown. Faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 12 of his 13 opportunities, and Andrew Fowler and Mark Stone split time in the net for Michigan.

Brigham Young
For those who don’t follow Michigan Men’s Lacrosse, having a team from Utah as one of their biggest rivals may seem a bit odd. However, take into account the number of games they’ve played in recent years (and the  potential impact of those games):

Michigan v. BYU Since 2001
Date Game Event Final Score Notes
4-7-01 #3 BYU @ #2 Michigan Reg. Season M 10-5 BYU Cougars defending national champs.
3-2-02 #4 Michigan @ #3 BYU Reg. Season BYU 12-9 M Michigan’s first televised game.
3-14-03 #4 BYU @ #6 Michigan Reg. Season M 10-7 BYU First upset in the recent series.
5-8-03 #3 Michigan v. #5 BYU USLIA Tournament BYU 12-8 M Cougars get revenge in national tournament.
2-28-04 #5 Michigan v. #3 BYU Reg. Season (Orlando, FL) BYU 8-6 M Neutral-site matchup goes to the Cougars.
3-5-05 #5 Michigan @ #3 BYU Reg. Season BYU 7-6 M Michigan drops an away match to BYU
2-25-06 #4 Michigan v. #5 BYU Reg. Season (La Jolla, CA) BYU 11-10 M The Cougars take another neutral-site contest.
5-10-06 #4 Michigan v. #5 BYU USL-MDIA Tournament BYU 14-9 M BYU knocks Michigan out in the national quarterfinal.
4-14-07 #1 BYU @ #5 Michigan Reg. Season BYU 15-9 M Wolverines can’t win one at home.
3-1-08 #7 Michigan @ #1 BYU Reg. Season M 12-9 BYU On the road, Michigan breaks streak of 6 straight BYU wins.
5-16-08 #1 Michigan v. #4 BYU MCLA Tournament M 11-7 BYU Michigan wins semifinal on their way to the national championship.

So, it’s pretty clear that there is legitimate material for a true rivalry here. With Michigan’s 28-game win streak on the line, the stakes were even higher. In a game that ended 14-11, however, it never seemed like the Wolverines were in serious danger of losing the contest.

Svet Tintchev and Matt Asperheim scored Michigan’s 1st two goals within 12 seconds of each other 3.5 minutes into the game, and the Cougars were playing catch-up the entire contest. When BYU’s Justin Hier scored the next goal, it was the closest the Cougars would ever get to Michigan, as the Wolverines rattled off two straight before BYU would put another goal on the board. Michigan’s eventual game-winner would come with 2 minutes still left in the 3rd quarter, as Kevin Zorovich put the Wolverines up 12-6 (while completing his hat trick). Sophomore Andrew Fowler played the whole game in net for Michigan, making 11 saves. Tyler Yealy (4), Kevin Zorovich, and Anthony Hrsovsky all netted hat tricks.

One of the highlights of the game, oddly enough for a contest one by Michigan, was a BYU goal. The Cougars’ Elliott Grow scored on Fowler by shooting behind his own head, surprising not only the keeper, but just about everyone in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse.

Up Next
The home schedule comes to an end next weekend, as #7 Minnesota Duluth and #8 Colorado State come to Ann Arbor to make an attempt at taking down #1. Friday’s game is at 8:00 PM against the Bulldogs, and Saturday’s contest against the Rams is at 7:00 PM. Both games take place in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, and tickets are $3 for students, $6 for non-students.

Ein Photo by Martin Vloet.

Posted under Other Sports

Big Ten 2010 Recruiting Class Rankings 3-29-09

Compare to the previous edition of the recruiting class rankings. The Scout 300 has been released, so a bunch of prospects achieved or changed ratings.

3-26-09 Michigan gains commitment from Tony Drake.

#1 Ohio State – 4 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Andrew Norwell OL **** ***** NR
Jamel Turner DE **** ***** NR
JT Moore DE **** NR NR
David Durham LB NR NR NR

No change in the Scout rankings for OSU’s commits..

#2 Notre Dame – 3 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Chris Martin DE ***** ***** NR
Christian Lombard OL NR **** NR
Daniel Smith WR NR **** NR

Lombard knocked down to a 4-star by Scout.

#3 Michigan – 6 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Ricardo Miller WR **** **** NR
Jerald Robinson WR **** **** NR
Jeremy Jackson WR NR NR NR
DJ Williamson WR NR NR NR
Antonio Kinard LB NR NR NR
Tony Drake RB NR NR NR

Robinson picks up a 4-star ranking from Scout. Surprising that none of Michigan’s other commits have been evaluated yet (mostly Jackson, who was considered to be a very likely 4-star, what with very early Florida and LSU offers). Commit-in-waiting Devin Gardner is a 4-star to both sites.

#4 Penn State – 2 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Paul Jones QB **** ***** NR
Mike Hull LB **** **** NR

Jones picks up a 5th star from Scout. This is… surprising based on what I’ve heard about him.

#5 Minnesota – 3 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Jimmy Gjere OL **** **** NR
Konrad Zagzebski LB NR *** NR
Antoine Lewis WR NR NR NR
Lamonte Edwards Ath NR NR NR

Scout drops a 3-star ranking on LB Konrad Zagzebski.

#6 Michigan State – 1 commit
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Max Bullough LB **** **** NR

Bullough gets 4 stars from Scout.

#7 Illinois – 1 commit
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Corey Cooper CB NR **** NR

Rivals and Scout disagree on Cooper’s position (Scout says he’s a WR). Without further research, I’ll continue trusting what Rivals says.

#8 Iowa – 1 commit
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
James Morris LB NR NR NR

Still no ranking for Morris.

Indiana, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin – 0 commits.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

The Ballad of Bryce McNeal

A series exploring the commitments (and subsequent decommitments) of Michigan’s lost members of the class of 2009. 

The Commitment
Michigan fans knew about McNeal for quite some time before he committed. He was offered in March, and the Wolverines quickly moved near the top of the list, along with the in-state Gophers. After being invited to participate in the Army All-American game, McNeal stated that would like to announce his final decision at that time. However, Michigan fans were given an early present when he committed on May 1st… or were they? He later came out and said he had not in fact committed to the Wolverines (though most fans believe that a silent commitment was given at that time). Within a few weeks though, on the verge of a visit to Ann Arbor, Bryce made a public commitment to Michigan.

The Decommitment
Over the summer, McNeal made some comments to the effect that he would like to take some visits to schools other than Michigan. The coaching staff, understandably, wasn’t so keen on this idea, and quickly informed him that, if he were to remain committed to Michigan, this was not an option. However, when October rolled around, he reiterated his desire to go on other campus officials, and thus began the souring of his relationship with the Wolverines’ coaching staff. He officially decommitted from Michigan on October 16th, and opened up the recruiting process to other schools.

The Impact
In the end, McNeal got what he wanted all along: an official commitment at the Army All-American game, in which he chose Clemson. Michigan obviously wanted to hold onto McNeal’s commitment, hence the restrictions on his being able to visit elsewhere, but he wasn’t such an important recruit that they just let him do whatever he want in terms of visits, while still remaining committed to the Wolverines (as they were willing to do with William Campbell, before his “decommitment”). McNeal’s spot in the class was filled by Je’Ron Stokes, a more highly-rated guy, and the rest is history.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

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Ceilings and Floors

The third annual post in which I approximate the baseline and potential of each Michigan commit for the Class of ’09. Of course, it goes without saying that these are estimates, and don’t take into account any extenuating circumstances (i.e. transferring to Arkansas/Ohio State, etc).

Ceilings and floors are on a different scale from each other (yes, this is different than past years, and I probably should have said something about it the first time around, since it’s no longer a strict “floor/ceiling” measure). Floor is a 1-5 scale of readiness to play right away, while ceiling is a 1-5 scale of overall potential.   

Name Pos Floor Ceiling
Tate Forcier QB 4 3
Tate is as well-coached at the QB position as any prospect in the country. Rich Rodriguez thought he was ready enough to play immediately that he didn’t beg Steven Threet to stay. His ceiling, on the other hand, is somewhat limited. He doesn’t have ideal height, and questions about his arm strength persist, though we won’t know for sure until he hits the field. As of now, his potential could be enough to get him to the NFL, but it would be a mild upset, at the least.
Denard Robinson QB 2 4
What if Robinson can’t throw all that well? Hell, what if he can’t run all that well? His stats in high school weren’t as impressive as you’d think for a guy who was so highly-recruited (of course, many were recruiting him as an athlete), so perhaps he isnt’ as ready to play as he may need to be. In terms of ceiling, part of me says “not tall, weak-ish arm,” but the other part counters with a very convincing “Pat White clone.”
Fitzgerald Toussaint RB 4 5
Maybe it’s because I saw him in person, and maybe it’s because of his impressive video and stats, but I really think Toussaint has what it takes to be a star. His current physical buildup is more solid than a lot of people realize, and should be able to contribute shortly after arriving on campus. He has great speed, balance, and vision, and plays a more physical game than several people as short as he is.
Vincent Smith RB 4 3
Smith comes from a very successful program and has enrolled early. Those two factors should mean he is ready to play right away. He is a speed back who doesn’t have elite speed, and he is just a tiny little guy, so his upside may be limited.
Teric Jones RB/slot 2 4
His readiness to play might be quite low, as he didn’t even start as a high school junior, and might need to move to a different position when he hits campus. However, his upside is good, as the fastest 40-yard time at the Army Junior Combine has to mean something.
Jeremy Gallon Slot 3 4
Switching from high school QB may require an adjustment, but he also plays some wideout and running back, which may help out a bit. He’s a little guy, so he may need to bulk up to avoid injury. As far as potential, he has great balance and legendary ability to avoid tackles in the open field. A lack of top end speed prevents him from being very highly-rated.
Je’Ron Stokes WR 3 4
Stokes was a starter on one of the Army All-American teams for a reason, so he should be ready to play. Learning multiple wideout positions (split end and slot) will slow down his process getting onto the field. I don’t see him as having elite size for the wideout position, or optimal shiftiness for the slot position, so his potential might be slightly lower than hoped.
Cameron Gordon WR 2 4
Gordon has a reputation as a heck of an athlete who isn’t yet a football player. He’ll get a run at wide receiver, where he may be a step slow, but his better potential is at linebacker, where hopefully he won’t hesitate to bring the physicality that his 6-3 frame is capable of.
Taylor Lewan OL 2 5
Lewan has great measurables for offensive tackle, and an admirable mean streak. However, he’s only been an offensive lineman for one year, and he played defensive tackle his entire high school career before that. Once he has time in a strength program and a bit of coaching from Frey, one of the best in the business, the sky is the limit for Lewan.
Quinton Washington OL 4 4
Washington was a multi-year starter for a dominant program in South Carolina, which is a pretty good high school football state. He should be as ready to play immediately as any offensive lineman. Of course, that still means a redshirt in nearly every case.
Michael Schofield OL 3 3
Schofield has good size and a decent attitude towards blocking, but like every offensive lineman, he’ll need a year to gain size and strength. His video is not nearly as impressive as that of the other two freshman OLs, and while he may end up starting in the future, he doesn’t have “Future All-Conference” written all over him like the other two have the potential to accomplish.
William Campbell DT 1 5
The comparison for Campbell coming out of Cass Tech was to former Wolverine Gabe Watson, which explains both the floor and ceiling numbers. When motivated, Watson could be a truly dominating defensive lineman. However, it was getting him motivated that was the issue. I’d like to think Campbell is a little more mature mentally than Watson (though who really knows?), and that this staff has a better ability to motivate. Having a starting spot all-but-assured as a true freshman might not force him to work his ass off like he might need to.
Anthony LaLota DE 2 4
LaLota has only been playing football for a little more than one year, so he wont be as able to play as many other players, and he’ll almost certainly redshirt to mold his body and learn some technique. Enrolling early should help him a bit. As far as potential, he has very good measurables for the position, and if he can learn as well as he should be able to, he’ll be pretty good down the road.
Craig Roh DE 3 4
Roh isn’t quite ready to play this year, because he’s very light for a defensive lineman, but he may get some spot duty in the Memorial Wasted Redshirt position. He has an unorthodox style, but good technique, and with his speed and quickness on his feet (spin move is awesome), he should have the ability to be stellar once he builds up his body.
Brandin Hawthorne LB 2 3
A tiny guy out of high school, who, despite enrolling early, has a lot of bulking up to do. Even then, he’s a sub-6-foot linebacker. Even if he has very good speed, it’s hard to imaagine him being an all-purpose backer, rather than a pass-rush or pass-coverage specialist.
Isaiah Bell LB 2 4
He’s a high school safety who needs to learn a new position in college. That alone will require a likely redshirt year, and he’ll need to adjust his body pretty significantly to be able to play at the next level. Once he’s acclimated though, he’ll be a very speedy linebacker, with the skills to cover the pass better than most of the players Michigan has now.
Mike Jones S 2 4
A similar situation to Bell. His body isn’t quite as naturally big as Isaiah’s, but he also has enrolled early to go through the Michigan weight training program. He’s coming off a series of nagging injuries his senior year, so he might take some time to get back into game shape. After that, he was a little more highly-rated than Bell, but that may be mostly by virtue of where he’s from.
Vladimir Emilien S 1 4
He missed much of his junior year with an injury, and isn’t even sure if he’ll be able to go through spring practice at full speed. Hopefully, once that gets worked out, he’ll be able to return to his ball-hawking safety ways.
Thomas Gordon S 2 3
He is a short guy with non-blazing speed. That doesn’t bode well for his long-term potential, but he’s certainly capable of surprising me. As far as his floor, he’s only played safety for one year, and the former high school quarterback will have to continue learning a new position when he comes into college.
Justin Turner CB 4 5
A tall defensive back who still has the hips and feet to play corner is a very rare thing, indeed. He acquitted himself well in the Army All-American Game (despite giving up a TD), so he’ll probably be fairly ready to play right away. Down the road, fans are expected to see Charles Woodson, but would, say Marlin Jackson be soimeone you turn away for not being C-Wood?
Adrian Witty CB 1 3
A little guy who missed his entire senior year with a knee injury probably is not going to come into a BCS-level program and contribute right away. Even after that, Witty doesn’t have great height (listed as short as 5-8), and the only thing really keeping his potential afloat is the state,ent by his high scl coach that he was faster than Robinson before his knee injury.
Brendan Gibbons K 1 5
Kickers are generally a crapshoot. Gibbons could awful, he could be awesome. Hopefully the latter is true.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

We Have History: Iowa

The Michigan baseball team got off to Iowa on the bus sometime around noon yesterday. The Michigan Baseball tweet doesn’t sound so certain about playing, but the guys are headed there anyways:

Getting ready to board the bus for Iowa and hoping the weather man is wrong about the 2 inches of snow there Saturday!

As a last little bit of information going into the series, I’ve compiled all our current players past performances against the Hawkeyes.  The chart after the jump is listed first by Michigan Hitters, then followed by Michigan Pitchers.  The player order is by first appearance.  So for example, Cislo was the only player to appear in the 2006 series, so he shows up first on the chart.

I’m not sure if I’ll have this for each Big10 opponent, but I’ll try to get it out.  It’s time consuming to gather it information and then chart it all out.  I had planned to do the Purdue team against Michigan, but yeah… no.  Besides, who cares about them anyway?

A few of the stand outs:

  • Cislo is batting .500 for his career against the Hawkeyes with 8 runs and 14 hits in just 11 games.
  • Chris Fetter is 1-1, but has a complete game (7 innings) with 18 Ks in 19 innings.
  • Ben Jenzen is 2-0 in 3 appearances, pitching 5 innings while giving up 4 runs (only one earned).
  • Burgoon earned his first career win against the Hawkeyes in an extra inning game last year, going 2 shut out innings striking out 2.
  • As a team (just current players), we are 11-1 against the Hawkeyes.

Full Chart after the jump Read More…

Posted under Baseball

Press Conference

Paul is attending the Rich Rodriguez press conference currently underway, and sending me updates to relay. Check back as I update this post with new information.

  1. Nick Sheridan has suffered a non-displaced fracture of his leg that will not require surgery. He will be out 4-6 weeks, and will be back with the team in time for summer workouts.
  2. To help deal with the dwindling numbers at the QB position, Justin Feagin (QB last year, slot this spring) will continue taking snaps at the quarterback position in Spring Practice.

End relevant information. Paul will update with video shortly.

icon for podpress  Rodriguez Talking about Sheridan: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Posted under Football, Personnel

Tony Drake Goes Blue

Michigan 2010 RB commit Tony DrakePer both premium sites, Michigan has received a commitment from RB Tony Drake out of Dallas’s powerhouse Skyline High School. Drake is a little guy (5-8, 160) and could end up at either RB or slot.

Recruiting Notes
Drake’s recruitment moved quickly, to say the least. Most Michigan fans hadn’t heard of him before today. However, Rich Rodriguez and company had, and after evaluating his film, they offered Drake, who accepted almost immediately.

Player Notes
As mentioned above, Drake is a little guy (listed anywhere between 5-6 and 5-9), and with his skill set and size, he could excel as either a quarkback or a slot receiver in the Michigan offense. His measurables call to mind Jeremy Gallon, though Gallon was more proven at the time of his commitment last year, having been a multi-year starter at QB for Apopka, whereas Drake has been on the bench for Skyline, behind James White (3* Iowa State commit in the class of 2009), and second-leading rusher QB Chris Frazier (a 2* who signed with SMU). He finished the year with 429 yards on 55 carries (7.8 ypc) and 3 touchdowns. Receiving, he had 7 receptions for 73 yards (10.4 ypc).

Drake is a high school teammate of Scout/Rivals 4* LB Corey Nelson. Though he hasn’t shown the Wolverines much interest yet, Drake’s commitment might help them get their foot in the door with Nelson.


Photo by Milton Hinnant of the Dallas Morning News.

Posted under Football, Recruiting