Academic Progress

When Kurt Wermers left town, he tried to take a potshot at the Michigan coaching staff, comparing them unfavorably to Lloyd Carr’s (under whom he never played, for the record). This, of course, has a serious short term effects of making the media insufferable for about a week, and compounding the similar accusations made by Justin Boren on his way out of Ann Arbor. Long term, it may diminish offensive line depth, and even chip away at Michigan’s ability to recruit players (though it flies in the face of, like, everything that anyone else has said about the staff).

Michigan Wolverine Ohio State Buckeye Justin BorenPerhaps the most serious damage Wermers may have inflicted, though, is not in terms of what he did do, but rather what he didn’t: stay eligible. Michigan’s football APR has been declining slightly over the past few years, as the Carr tenure waned and now even more Rich Rodriguez has come into town with his demanding program. Several players – whether they didn’t fit the system, weren’t willing to put in the work, or just wanted to go to Ohio State in the first place but were guilted into Michigan by Bo and used a father’s plow service(!) as an excuse to leave Michigan – have departed since the new sheriff in town took over.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate is used by The Toothless Organization to determine which schools aren’t taking care of their student-athletes academically. It is calculated by a 4-year average of scores out of 1000, and if said score dips below 925, tTO will write you a strongly worded letter, then give no actual sanctions (though they’ve gained some teeth, and have punished even a couple BCS conference teams). So how has Michigan done over the past couple years? Take a look:

Michigan APR
Year APR Score
2006 958
2007 951
2008 947
2009 ???

These numbers have, as mentioned above, been on the decline for a couple years, and as higher-APR scores from years past move out of the 4-year average, and the more recent years (with worse APR scores) go into the equation, it doesn’t necessarily bode well for Michigan. Each player leaving the Michigan program costs the team 1 point out of 1000 in the APR calculation for that year. If a player leaves while he is ineligible for NCAA competition, it reduces overall score by 2 points. It’s unclear exactly when players count towards the next score: I believe those who left before the 2008 season have already been counted, and no others have.

Michigan Attrition
Player When Left Notes
Ryan Mallett Winter 2008 Arkansas transfer
Chris McLaurin Winter 2008 Medical reasons, unclear whether he’s still in school or will count against APR
Corey Zirbel Spring 2008 Career-ending injury, still in school and won’t harm APR
Justin Boren Spring 2008 OSU transfer
Marques Slocum Summer 2008 Likely ineligble
Marcus Witherspoon Summer 2008 Left after 2 weeks at school (does he even count against APR?), academically ineligible
Tony Clemons Winter 2009 Colorado transfer
Zion Babb Winter 2009
Artis Chambers Winter 2009
Avery Horn Winter 2009
Sam McGuffie Winter 2009 Rice transfer
Steven Threet Spring 2009 Arizona State transfer
Kurt Wermers Spring 2009 Ball State transfer, academically ineligible
Dann O’Neill Spring 2009 Western Michigan transfer

That means 8 players have already left the team since the end of the 2008 season. According to history, more may be on the way. With Michigan’s APR trending downwards, it appears as though the 2010 score will be more of the same. Will the Wolverines dip into the danger zone – below 925? They haven’t come close yet, though they’re certainly heading in the wrong direction. But hey, there’s always applying for waivers.

Posted under Coaching, Football, Misc., Personnel

Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings 4th of July 2009

Compare to the previous edition of the recruiting class rankings. Action since last rankings:

6-29-09 Notre Dame gains commitment from Chris Badger. Minnesota gains commitment from Zac Epping. Illinois gains commitment from Andy Gallik. Iowa gains commitment from Matt Hoch. Indiana gains commitment from Jibreel Black.
6-30-09 Minnesota gains commitment from Kip Smith. Indiana gains commitment from Marlandez Harris. Michigan State gains commitment from Nick Hill.
7-1-09 Penn State gains commitment from Levi Norwood. Ohio State gains commitment from Roderick Smith. Minnesota gfains commitment from Mark Lenkiewicz. Indiana gains commitment from Matt Perez. Northwestern gains commitment from Paul Jorgenson.
7-2-09 Ohio State gains commitment from Drew Basil.

#1 Michigan – 15 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Ricardo Miller WR **** **** 150*
Devin Gardner QB **** **** 150*
Marvin Robinson S **** **** 150*
Jerald Robinson WR **** *** 77
Ken Wilkins LB *** **** 77
Jeremy Jackson WR *** *** 150*
Christian Pace OL *** *** 150*
Jordan Paskorz DE *** *** 78
Stephen Hopkins RB *** *** 77
Antonio Kinard LB *** *** 77
Drew Dileo WR *** *** 75
Tony Drake RB *** NR 77
Courtney Avery CB NR *** 73
DJ Williamson WR NR *** NR
Cornelius Jones QB NR NR 77

No change for Michigan.

#2 Penn State – 11 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Paul Jones QB **** ***** 150*
Adrian Coxson WR **** ***** 150*
Evan Hailes DT **** **** 150*
Silas Redd RB **** **** 79
Mike Hull LB **** **** 77
Kyle Baublitz DE **** *** 150*
Miles Dieffenbach OL *** **** 150*
DaQuan Jones DT *** **** 77
Tom Ricketts OL NR **** 77
Luke Graham OL NR *** NR
Levi Norwood WR NR NR NR

The Nittany Lions grab Levi Norwood.

#4 Notre Dame – 9 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Chris Martin DE ***** ***** 150*
Blake Leuders DE **** **** 150*
Alex Welch TE **** **** 79
Andrew Hendrix QB **** *** 150*
Christian Lombard OL *** **** 150*
Daniel Smith WR *** **** 78
Bennett Jackson WR *** **** 77
Chris Badger S *** *** 150*
Lo Wood CB *** *** 78

Notre Dame steals safety Chris Badger from Stanford.

#3 Ohio State – 10 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Andrew Norwell OL **** ***** 150*
Jamel Turner DE **** ***** 150*
Roderick Smith RB **** **** 150*
JT Moore DE **** *** 78
Scott McVey LB *** **** 77
David Durham LB *** *** 150*
Taylor Graham QB NR *** 78
Drew Basil K NR *** NR

Ohio State picks up a bigtime RBin Roderick Smith and kicker Drew Basil.

#5 Michigan State – 7 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
William Gholston DE **** **** 150*
Joe Boisture QB **** **** 150*
Max Bullough LB **** *** 150*
Mylan Hicks CB *** *** 78
Nick Hill RB *** *** 75
Tony Lippett WR NR *** 78
Taylor Calero DE NR NR 76

The Spartans pick up Nick Hill, who had previously been presumed a hige Michigan lean (until not receiving his offer at camp).

#6 Minnesota – 9 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Jimmy Gjere OL **** **** 79
Lamonte Edwards Ath **** *** 76
Antoine Lewis WR *** *** 76
Matt Eggen OL *** *** 76
Tom Parish QB *** *** 73
Zac Epping OL *** *** 73
Mark Lenkiewicz OL NR *** 75
Kip Smith K NR *** NR
Allen Veazie CB NR NR 75

Big week for the Gophers as they snag 3 more commits.

#7 Illinois – 7 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Corey Cooper CB **** **** 150*
Chandler Whitmer QB *** *** 150*
Daniel Easterly Ath *** *** 78
Shawn Afryl OL *** *** 69
Andy Gallik OL *** NR 74
Mark Wilson LB NR *** 76
Dexter McDonald S NR *** NR

Andy Gallik commits to the Illini

#9 Wisconsin – 6 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Konrad Zagzebski LB *** **** 76
Marquis Mason WR *** NR NR
Frank Tamakloe S NR *** 150*
Bryce Gilbert DT NR *** 74
Jake Irwin DE NR NR NR
Dallas Lewallen OL NR NR NR

Nothing new for Wisco.

#8 Iowa – 7 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Matt Hoch DE *** *** 150*
Austin Gray LB *** *** 77
Louis Trinca-Pasat DE *** *** 76
James Morris LB *** *** 74
Mike Hardy DE *** *** NR
Jim Poggi LB NR *** NR
Anthony Ferguson DT NR *** NR
Austin Vier QB NR NR NR

Iowa picks up

#10 Indiana – 6 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Jibreel Black DT *** **** 78
Xavier Whitaker RB NR *** NR
Andre Kates CB NR ** NR
Logan Young WR NR NR 76
Leneil Himes TE NR NR 74
Matt Perez RB NR NR 74
Antonio Banks RB NR NR 73
Ryan Phillis LB NR NR NR
Marlandez Harris OL NR NR NR

The Hoosiers add Xavier Whitaker, and he becomes their highest-rated commit. Should Northwestern be ahead of them? Not quite yet.

#11 Northwestern – 4 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Shontrelle Johnson RB *** *** 77
Rashad Lawrence WR *** *** NR
Trevor Siemian QB *** NR 79
Paul Jorgenson OL NR NR 79
Collin Ellis LB NR NR 77

A decent QB joins the class for the Wildcats, along with a target for him to pass it to.

#12 Purdue – 4 commit
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
De’Ron Flood TE NR *** 74
Charles Torwudzo WR NR *** NR
Ryan Isaacs DE NR NR NR
Jeremy Cornelius WR NR NR NR

Oh my! A commit! Or 4.

Posted under Basketball, Coaching, Football, Recruiting

Comments Off on Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings 4th of July 2009


The Great Heisman Campaign: Stonum v. Roundtree

Darryl Stonum is one of the most explosive receivers on Michigan’s roster, though he’s only caught one touchdown in his career, against Purdue (to be fair, the entire team only had 11 TD receptions last year). He’s been cited as someone who has a lot of physical talent, but maybe has a bit of maturing to do before he can live up to his potential. Regardless, Stonum is definitely considered among Michigan’s best deep threats from the split end position in 2009.

Roy Roundtree was one of three Trotwood-Madison commits in Rich Rodriguez’s first recruiting class, and is the player who set of the now-infamous Joe Tiller rant. Roundtree has practiced at both wide receiver and slot in his Michigan career, though he redshirted last year to add some weight for the college game. Thus far, the highlight of Roundtree’s Wolverine career is the 50-yard touchdown bomb he caught from Tate Forcier in the 2009 Sring Game.

Darryl Stonum v. Roy Roundtree

  • 3 Darryl Stonum (57%, 363 Votes)
  • 6 Roy Roundtree (43%, 272 Votes)

Total Voters: 635

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The poll will remain open for 7 days, closing at 5PM next Thursday. Have your heart set on a particular candidate? Try to sway others in the comments. The full bracket is visible here.

Other Open Polls:
Gibbons v. Van Bergen.
Warren v. Stokes.
Schilling v. Emilien.
Mesko v. Ortmann.
Cissoko v. Toussaint.
Forcier v. Patterson.

Completed 1st Round Poll:
Minor defeats Sheridan, appx. 947-53 (numbers not final).

Posted under Coaching, Football, Misc., Personnel

Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings 5-31-09

Compare to the previous edition of the recruiting class rankings. After no commits last week (I think one of the first ever since I’ve been doing the rankings), there’s been plenty of action this time around:

5-25-09 Notre Dame gains commitment from Alex Welch.
5-27-09 Michigan gains commitment from Jordan Paskorz.

Mild disclaimer: I’m not going to be super-diligent about checking all 3 rating services, except in the case of new commits or if the “OMG SCOUT 400” is released.

#1 Michigan – 11 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Ricardo Miller WR **** **** 150*
Devin Gardner QB **** **** 150*
Marvin Robinson S **** **** 150*
Jerald Robinson WR **** **** 77
Jeremy Jackson WR *** *** 150*
Stephen Hopkins RB *** *** 77
Antonio Kinard LB *** *** 77
Jordan Paskorz DE *** *** NR
Tony Drake RB *** NR 77
Drew Dileo WR *** NR 75
DJ Williamson WR NR NR NR

Jordan Paskorz (hopefully) gets the defense train rolling for Michigan. Michigan’s got lots of commitments from slightly lesser-ranked guys, limiting their upside for the rest of the class. I’d be shocked if they finish the year at the top of this list.

#2 Ohio State – 5 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Andrew Norwell OL **** ***** 150*
Jamel Turner DE **** ***** 150*
JT Moore DE **** *** 78
Scott McVey LB *** *** 77
David Durham LB *** NR 150*

No change for the Buckeyes.

#3 Penn State – 5 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Paul Jones QB **** ***** 150*
Adrian Coxson WR **** **** 150*
Silas Redd RB **** **** 79
Mike Hull LB **** **** 77
Luke Graham OL NR *** NR

Penn State passes Notre Dame, as their commit list is far more impressive overall at this time.

#4 Notre Dame – 3 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Chris Martin DE ***** ***** 150*
Alex Welch TE **** *** 79
Christian Lombard OL *** **** 150*
Daniel Smith WR *** **** 78

Notre Dame picks up a pretty good tight end in Alex Welch.

#5 Minnesota – 4 commits
Name Pos Rivals Scout ESPN
Jimmy Gjere OL **** **** 79
Lamonte Edwards Ath **** *** 76
Antoine Lewis WR *** *** 76
Tom Parish QB *** NR 73

Antoine Lewis gets 3-star ranking from Rivals.

#6 Illinois – 3 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Corey Cooper CB **** **** 150*
Chandler Whitmer QB *** *** 150*
Shawn Afryl OL *** *** 69

Nothing new for the Illini.

#7 Michigan State – 2 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Max Bullough LB **** **** 150*
Tony Lippett WR NR NR 78

Lippett still unrated. ESPN ranks him higher than most of Michigan’s commits, which like, wow, you’re dumb.

#8 Iowa – 3 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Austin Gray LB *** *** 77
James Morris LB *** *** 74
Jim Poggi LB NR NR NR

Gray and Morris each get 3-star ratings from Rivals.

#9 Wisconsin – 2 commits
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Konrad Zagzebski LB *** *** 76
Marquis Mason WR *** NR NR

Zagzebski and Mason still the only Badgers holding it down.

#10 Indiana – 1 commit
Name Pos. Rivals Scout ESPN
Andre Kates CB NR NR NR

Indiana grabs JuCo Andre Kates to get on board.

Northwestern, Purdue – 0 commits.

Posted under Basketball, Coaching, Football, Recruiting

Recruiting Philosophy, Pt. 2

A couple weeks ago, I posted about the apparent desire by Michigan’s coaches to offer every prospect under the sun. Of course, like any strategy, there are certain advantages and downsides to this technique. What is most striking, perhaps, is the difference between what Michigan is doing, and the methods employed by arch-rival Ohio State on the recruiting trail. The post (as it was intended to do) drew a ton of responses, and I went even one step further by asking a few questions of Jim Stefani, who was more than happy to answer them.

What is going on

According to Jim Stefani, Michigan has as many as 130 offers to high school prospects outstanding thus far. Many of these, however, might be from kids that they don’t really want to commit. According to Jim Stefani, “In a sense, many Michigan ‘offers’ are not really firm offers but more or less strong indications of interest by Michigan.  Take that for what you will, but it is how many schools are now approaching recruiting.  Look at the DB who wanted to verbal to U-M last week [Travis Williams] but was told to wait.” Florida, a school that uses a similar technique in throwing around a lot of offers, had a similar situation, and they had to tell a defensive back outright that the offer he had been given was not “committable.” It appears as though the main point of contention here, then, is what an offer really means.

Shouldn’t an offer, by definition, be “committable?” Isn’t that, after all, what an offer is? Wolv54 offered a hypothesis in the comments from the previous post:

The only potential problem the shotgun approach creates is that you have a finite number of schollies and you have to slow play some guys waiting for the higher ranked guys make their decisions. I would compare it to trying to get a prom date; whereas you ask the hottest girl you know and hope she says but if not, you can always take that girl that plays in the band, right?

Michigan seems to be offering both the “hottest girl” and the “band girl,” and hoping they can get the less desirable option to wait for the hotter one before making a decision. However, with a Michigan offer now just meaning that the Wolverines have strong interest in a kid, the techniques might have to be adjusted. According to Stefani, “they need to be careful that they get the right kids to commit of those 130. Believe me, even though a kid has been offered does not mean that Michigan wants him to commit right away (or, perhaps, ever).”

So why do they offer guys without actually wanting them to commit? This hasn’t always worked out, as people (like Travis Williams) try to commit, without the staff wanting it. That can lead to one of the problems that Michigan fans fear, according to Michigan4204,

I mean damn dude, were beating out schools like TCU, Tulsa, SMU, and Baylor for some of these recruits. Players used to come to Michigan because they produced pro-level talent. You have to have that talent first of all when you arrive on campus, and half of RR recruits simply don’t have that talent.

There are certainly ways out of this (and schools like florida use them as well), but it’s not always the cleanest break, as Stefani points out, “It backfires when a kid wants to commit and the verbal is not accepted or commits and then a few months later Michigan stops contact.  That is because it will upset the prospect and, more importantly, his high school coach.  If the prospects is from a program loaded with D-I talent every year it could definitely hurt.” Michigan seems to be willing to risk this.

The Contrast with Ohio State

Ohio State, as mentioned above, is using a recruiting method that seems to be diametrically opposed to that of Rich Rodriguez and staff. Jim Tressel has given out very few offers, and has many fewer commits than Michigan, though most of their commits are more highly-rated than some of Michigan’s guys. Like Michigan has its reasons for the current recruiting strategy, Ohio State also has reasons for theirs. They already have a deep talent base, and this year, they have very few scholarships to hand out. Stefani’s take:

The longer a school waits to offer, the more time it has to evaluate prospects and decide who they want to offer.  With schools in the midst of May evaluation, combines going on every weekend and summer camps coming up in June, the Ohio State coaches will have a LOT more info at hand when it comes to making their offer decisions than the school that have offered many prospects early based on sophomore year camp/combine performances and junior film.

The Buckeyes also give themselves another advantage: “many of the elite players like to wait things out, which only helps the schools who have not picked up too many early verbals.” Of course, Michigan will wait on top-top guys who have interest, but does accepting a lot of early verbals limit their ability to do so? Probably.

As shown above, Michigan fans aren’t exactly unanimously enthusiastic about the new approach. Michigan4204 was the most harsh in the comments of the previous post, using the now-old adage “Just because it worked in the Big East doesn’t mean it’ll work in the Big Ten. Trust me I hope it does, but I’m pessimistic.” When it was pointed out that there is no reason to expect any different result simply on a different conference, he was quick to point out the talent difference between the Big Ten and Big East, which, unfortunately for his argument, seems to ring a little hollow.

Players in 2009 NFL Draft
Cincinnati 6 Illinois 3
Connecticut 4 Indiana 0
Louisville 2 Iowa 4
Pitt 4 Michigan 2
Rutgers 5 Michigan State 1
South Florida 1 Minnesota 0
Syracuse 2 Northwestern 0
West Virginia 3 Ohio State 7
Penn State 5
Purdue 2
Wisconsin 4
Total/School 3.38 Total/School 2.55

So, yeah. That argument certainly doesn’t hold water. Complaining about Rodriguez’s tactics on the basis of a talent difference between conferences is bogus. Of course, that doesn’t stop ontblue from agreeing with him:

Tend to agree with Michigan4204. You can take RR’s 3/4 star guys and I’ll take the USC/Florida/Suckeyes 4/5 star guys and we’ll see how things stack up in 5 years. By the way, since when did adding a marginal guy ever add to depth? It just adds another cheerleader.

Obviously, Rich and staff think the commits that they take will be guys who are able to contribute, or they likely wouldn’t waste their time. As bouje noted, “Who are the players that are really lighting it up in spring practices? Vincent Smith 3* out of Florida. He can obviously pick the 3* recruits.”

The reasons for this approach

So why does Michigan have to recruit the way they are? For one thing, they’ll probably have a lot of scholarships to fill, unlike the Buckeyes. “[L]ast year Ohio State signed a full class of 25, so they have limited schollies to hand out this year and are being very selective,” Stefani said. “On the other hand, after expected attrition Michigan is in a position to sign between 22 and 25 kids this coming year, so the Wolverines have a lot more flexibility when it comes to making early offers.” The early offers also help Michigan get their foot in the door with some guys:

Being aggressive with their early offers means that Michigan gets on a prospect’s radar earlier than those schools that have not offered.  the old adage ‘the early bird catches the worm’ applies here.  Moreover, actually picking up early verbals gets the whole process rolling as they can market their “great” (haha, excuse me) class to other prospects, as can the kids who have already committed.  They can now tell a lot of the Ohio kids, we love you but Ohio State doesn’t.  that carries some weight.

The early offers also mean that the class fills up quickly, as pointed out by Derrick, “Wouldn’t this approach force some kids to make a decision before all the offers were gone? If a kid really wants to play for michigan or any school he knows there are only so many offers available and he should be proactive in making a commitment.” Still, fans aren’t necessarily all on board with this approach, as sebaskrator said, “I’m willing to give RR the benefit of the doubt for now. Has has been able to get pretty far finding some gems before. That said, if he is able to juggle commitments around for someone he’d like more later, great.” It’s an endorsement, sure, but I’d say that’s far from ringing.

The Future

So, when Michigan’s talent base is built up to where it used to be, at least with the types of players that Rodriguez wants, will we see this strategy continue? It’s highly likely, though a school like Florida, which has had several top-tier classes in a row now, continues to use it, as AC1997 points out “I find it interesting how Urban Myer is offering everyone and their brother too, being from Utah he had the same problem that Rich Rod did (and probably worse).” The key thing that needs to happen before Michigan can audible the recruiting strategy is to show results on the field, according to Stefani, “First and foremost,once Michigan starts winning again it will become a magnet for national kids and be able to hold off on offering second-tier kids too early.” Ohio State obviously doesn’t have this problem right now, as he points out:

Ohio State is a top-tier national program that has gone to a couple consecutive BCS championship games.  They are an elite school that a LOT of kids want to play for, be they in-state kids or national kids… They can afford to wait on a lot of in-state kids because they know that they can get them later in the recruiting timeline if they finish second on some of their top national targets.  Michigan, on the other hand, is in a rare rebuilding mode and is not longer a “hot” school with national prospects.

In the future, once Michigan (hopefully) starts having on-field success again, this argument will all become moot.

There are still benefits to Michigan’s technique, as Stefani says “The risks [for an approach like OSU] are that by waiting too long to offer a prospects you have ‘bigger fish to fry’ you will lose out on him to another school (e.g. Devin Gardner to Michigan).  Once prospects are offered bythe Buckeyes, they will often have to do a ‘catch-up’ job in showing them the love.” However, It seems that Michigan will likely never go from the extreme that they’re currently occupying all the way to Ohio State’s, wherein they offer very few prospects early. In the end, a happy medium is probably most desired. AC1997 probably sums it up best: “Maybe he feels that 3-9 means he has to do that.” In another year 3-9, hopefully, will no longer be an issue.

Posted under Analysis, Coaching, Football, Recruiting

The Spread Offense, Wide Receivers, and the NFL

Ah, the tired maxim of the spread offense’s alleged inability to get high school prospects into the NFL strikes again:

Speaking of recruiting — in this case the negative variety — check out this quote in the Palm Beach Post from Pahokee receiver De’Joshua Johnson.

“I dropped Florida and West Virginia because of the spread offense,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to play in the spread offense. I’ve seen how it affected receivers in the NFL draft.”

Johnson is reportedly leaning to Florida State and is considering Tennessee.

For his part, Pat Dooley has a decent and brief retort, though it comes off as Florida-homer rebuttal, rather than rebutting the actual claims themselves:

He might want to check his facts.

Didn’t Percy Harvin go in the first round? Chad Jackson? Meyer has had five receivers drafted from Florida during his tenure (six if you count Cornelius Ingram), the most for any school in the nation. FSU hasn’t had a first-round skill player in seven years and two receivers taken in the draft during Meyer’s tenure. Tennessee has had three during the same span.

This is a good start, but it doesn’t really hit the point at the very crux of this matter: You are what you are. Percy Harvin didn’t get drafted where he did because of the spread offense, he got drafted because he has Size X and Skill Set Y, which the NFL interprets as NFL Potential Z. Harvin has had Size X and Skill Set Y at his disposal, and would have had them regardless of where he went to college (we can debate the minor-ish point of a different strength coach at some other school helping Harvin achieve his potential to a different degree, but that’s outside of the discussion of offense – though I’d contend that some spread schemes demand a better strength coach).

The main things that an offensive scheme will affect are:

  1. Production. Depending on the type of spread, a receiver may play a larger or smaller role in the offense, affecting production. One of the the things that the NFL might look at is “Well, he has X and Y, but his production hasn’t matched that. Does he have a good excuse for this, or does he not bring it on game day?” Spread offenses are even more creative in terms of ways to get receivers the ball, in Harvin/Johnson’s specific cases.
  2. Preparation. Sure, a college QB who runs exclusively from the shotgun won’t be quite as ready to play right away in the NFL, and a receiver might run fewer or different routes, and have simpler reads of defenses playing in a spread offense. These players don’t come to the NFL ready to compete on day 1, perhaps. However, I’ll let Mike Leach take this one:

“I only need a three-hour window. I’ll have a great clinic for all the NFL coaches who are so horrible that they can’t teach a guy to take a snap under center and go backwards.”

Yeah, so Mike Leach is awesome, and an offensive scheme doesn’t have a huge effect on where a player is drafted (and oddly, this is especially true for receivers, whose responsibilities probably change the least out of anyone on the offense with a spread v. pro-style offense).

Let’s take a look at every receiver drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft. I’ll vaguely lump their college offensive schemes into “spread” and “pro-style.” This may seem a bit simplistic at first, but then, isn’t the criticism of the spread offense writ large simplistic itself?

Player Pick # School Offense
Round 1
Darrius Heyward-Bey 7 Maryland Pro
Michael Crabtree 10 Texas Tech Spread
Jeremy Maclin 19 Missouri Spread
Percy Harvin 22 Florida Spread
Hakeem NIcks 29 North Carolina Pro
Kenny Britt 30 Rutgers Pro
Round 2
Brian Robiskie 36 Ohio State Pro
Mohamed Massaquoi 50 Georgia Pro
Round 3
Derrick Williams 82 Penn State Spread
Brandon Tate 83 North Carolina Pro
Mike Wallace 84 Ole Miss Pro
Ramses Barden 85 Cal Poly 1-AA
Patrick Turner 87 USC Pro
Deon Butler 91 Penn State Spread
Juaquin Iglesias 99 Oklahoma Spread
Round 4
Mike Thomas 107 Arizona Pro
Brian Hartline 108 Ohio State Pro
Louis Murphy 124 Florida Spread
Austin Collie 127 BYU Spread
Round 5
Johnny Knox 140 Abilene Christian 1-AA
Kenny McKinley 141 South Carolina Spread
Jarrett Dillard 144 Rice Spread
Brooks Foster 160 North Carolina Pro
Round 6
Quinten Lawrence 175 McNeese State 1-AA
Brandon Gibson 194 Washington State Pro
Dominique Edison 206 Stephen F Austin 1-AA
Round 7
Demetrius Byrd 224 LSU Pro
Manuel Johnson 229 Oklahoma Spread
Sammie Straughter 233 Oregon State Pro
Jake O’Connell 237 Miami University Pro
Marko Mitchell 243 Nevada Spread
Derek Kinder 251 Pittsburgh Pro
Freddie Brown 252 Utah Spread
Tiquan Underwood 253 Rutgers Pro

Take a look at that! 13 Receivers from spread offenses and 17 from pro-style offenses were selected, with 4 from 1-AA teams, which I didn’t include because 1) I don’t know what type of offense most 1-AA schools run, and 2) If they’re taking a guy from a 1-AA school, offensive scheme is probably not on the forefront of NFL GMs’ decisions. Considering that more schools run a pro-style offense (particularly in power conferences, from which most NFL players are likely to come), that’s not bad at all. In the first round, the same number of players from each offensive type (3 apiece). When you consider that some schools that I placed in the “pro style” category also have some elements of spread offenses, such as Ohio State, LSU, and Oregon State, it’s a complete wash, at worst. And I guess that brings me back to my main point, which is not that the spread is inherently better for a wide receiver prospect’s chances of making it to the NFL, but rather than the offensive scheme on the whole is irrelevant.

So what’s the course of action? Obviously, a 17-year-old kid didn’t come up with this (bogus) assertion by himself. No, based on reputation, and the schools entering and exiting De’Joshua’s list, this almost certainly comes from one Lane Monte Kiffin. Of course, do I expect Rich Rodriguez to bore a kid to death with charts and whatnot? Probably not, but dispelling a meme, using whatever evidence is available, will certainly help.

Posted under Analysis, Coaching, Football, Recruiting

Gotta offer ’em all

This recruiting cycle, it’s become particularly evident that there are different recruiting methods regarding how many offers to hand out. Jim Stefani has mentioned this several times already this year. Ohio State has given very few offers to 2010 high school prospects, whereas Michigan seems to have offered everyone under the sun:

The Michigan coaching staff had better be on top of their scholarship management when it comes to the Class of 2010. They have about….

….125 offers out there, and with 9 early verbals that leaves room for probably about another 13-17 commitments. They are handing out…

…”offers” like candy this year. It is a fine balancing act between offering kids early to maintain interest and being selective enough..

…..to hold out for the top kids. RichRod nd staff will need to be master jugglers this year. Interesting thing is that Ohio State….

…is taking the completely opposite approach and has been more selective than any other school in the nation in making early offers.

Also: Jim Stefani doesn’t understand the point of Twitter.

I’ll explore this in further depth later, but for now, I’d just like to point out that there is no “right way” to do it. Florida, for example, seems to offer everyone, much like Michigan. Texas, like Ohio State, is very selective with who it offers. Both schools are riotously successful in the recruiting game (as is Ohio State, and Michigan will hopefully get there with a little better product on the field).

So, I ask you, fair readers: What do you think? This discussion may be colored a bit by the semi-controversial commitment of Drew Dileo, but I’m interested to hear what the fans think.

Posted under Coaching, Football, Recruiting

Tuesday Quick Links

OK, I don’t feel guilty doing it today, since there is plenty of good content already published and upcoming, and I don’t have an Unverified Voracity-like Substance to throw random interesting things into.

  • After running a 10.44 100m dash last week, incoming freshman QB Denard Robinson ran a 10.28 over the weekend. At this pace, he should be teleporting to the finish line in 0 seconds by the time he gets to ann Arbor in the summer. So, as established, Mr. Robinson is fast. I would expect the coaches to have a package of plays designed for him to run this fall.
  • After announcing his plans to transfer from the University of Miami, QB Robert Marve had Michigan on his list of five schools to which he would consider transferring. This was confusing to Michigan fans, because the Wolverines have little use for a pocket passer with 2 years of eligibility remaining. Rest easy, as he’s removed Michigan from his list of options, and replaced it with Arizona State. He cited “crowded QB situation” following the commitment of Devin Gardner, rather than the obvious “they probably couldn’t use my skill set.” Being afraid to beat out a true freshman (who is, by his own admission, a bit of a project) is something of a concern, especially for a guy who’s been the starter at his old school. Best of luck to Marve in the future. 
  • After Brian’s discussion of GERG’s potential 3-4/4-3 hybrid mega-confusing defense, noted X-and-Os expert GSimmons85 has given it his shot to educate the Michigan fandom on defensive fronts, alignments, and what it all might mean for the Wolverines’ D next year. 
  • Michigan Sports Center keeps you update with Alumni Flag Game rosters.
  • In the St. Paul Pioneer Press, you can find a truly touching story about former Michigan baseball player Mike Watters, his son’s struggle with cancer, and his meeting of a parentless young cancer patient named Victor (via MVictors).
  • Maize N Brew Dave gives his take on what the death of the Ann Arbor News might mean for the Michigan blogosphere, and how the role of the blog is likely to change fairly radically in the very near future. His take seems a little more dire than I might expect, and I think blogs will continue having the same ability to come up with content that we do now, but perhaps with even more access, which is definitely a good thing. Be honest, how often do most Michigan blogs link the AA News as the basis for an entire post? Not very frequently, in my memory. Maybe a Jim Carty column or two from back in the day, but that’s about it.

Posted under Analysis, Baseball, Coaching, Football, Spring Coverage

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Recruiting Update 3-11-09

I was going to try and hold off a bit longer between recruiting posts, but with the latter half of this week likely stuffed full of baseball and (hopefully) basketball, this will run now. I’ve been forgetting to link it of late, so be sure to visit the 2010 Recruiting Board for all the updates.

SC DB DeAndre Hopkins, who committed to Clemson, as predicted.

Standard Information:
OK QB DeMarco Cobbs has been offered by basically every school as a wideout, but Michigan is giving the likely 5-star a look at QB. He’s been added to the board, but not yet with an offer.

FL LB Jeff Luc is sporting a Michigan offer, and he can’t decide which National All-Star game in which he’d most like to participate. Florida is his favorite, but he plans to wait until at least fall before he makes a decision. Frequent commenter “i know nothing” also brings his video to my attention, which I present for your review:

The dude looks like a heck of a player, and a very violent presence at linebacker. His offer sheet and invitations to both HS All-Star games would speak to this, and Michigan would certainly love to have him.

Michigan has offered FL CB Spencer Boyd. The 5-10, 160-lber also plays running back in high school. Boyd plans to wait until after his senior season to make a final decision. He’s been added to the board. Speaking of Boyd, Jim Stefani gave his information on some of Michigan’s new offerees:

Spencer Boyd DB/RB/WR 5′10 165 4.31 Cape Coral Florida

One of the top junior DBs and RBs in Florida. I have him ranked as among the top 58 DBs in the nation. As a junior, despite being injured part of the year and playing in just 8 games, he had 104 carries for 620 yards, 30 tackles and a 104-yard INT return for a score. Projects as a college CB. Has very quick feet and exceptional change-of-direction. 225 bench, 385 squat as a sophomore. Honorable Mention All-U.S. Army Combine at DB. Impressive on the 2008 combine circuit (4.31 forty, 4.25 shuttle). Named a team captain as a junior. “He’s kind of like our Marshall Faulk – he does a little bit of everything,” [Head Coach] Goebbel said. “He has the speed to take the ball up the sideline and the power to run between the tackles. We can put him out at receiver and he can catch the ball and make things happen that way. “He’s really one of the best overall players around this area.”

Caleb Lavey LB 6′3 225 4.56 Celina Texas

I have him rated as among the top 25 LBs in the nation. As a junior LB he recorded almost 200 tackles, 5 sacks, 4 FFs and 2 FRs. Nice-sized linebacker who has a great frame and runs well. Good nose for the ball and instincts. 275 bench, 27 vertical. 3.9 GPA. His father attended Michigan and was an equipment manager for the football team. 6-3, 225. One of the top junior prospects at the 1A-3A Texas 7 on 7 Tournament…………..2007 1A-3A State Passing Tournament Top 33 Recruits.

D.J. Williamson WR/DB 6′1 180 4.45 Warren Harding Ohio

I have him ranked as among the top 75 WRs in the nation. Sophomore track times: 10.82 100 meters and he qualified for the state meet, 21.7 200 meters. Great speed and nice size for a receiver, Excels as a return man. 270 bench, 315 squat, 32 vertical

Jim has a ton more information on all three of these guys on his site (I’ve trimmed it down significantly), so go check it out if you’re interested. I’ve also added D.J. Williamson to the board. Per the Junior Day updates listed below, he plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Junior Day this weekend. Webb’s update gave the not-so-subtle implication that a commitment is highly likely while Williamson is in town, so be on the lookout. The internet scuttlebutt is that Williamson grew up a huge Michigan fan, and agrees with the “likely commitment” sentiment.

Now, a slight transition into Junior Day talk:
As was the case last year, Michigan’s first Junior Day of the year will coincide with the Night of Champions, a team-wide competition serving as the official end of winter conditioning, and therefore the beginning of spring practice. Of course, the junior day isn’t the first time Michigan has invited 2010 prospects to campus this year, and several players, such as Jerald Robinson (who offered his commitment), William Gholston, and Devin Gardner have already taken in basketball games in Crisler Arena.

So which players are planning to attend this weekend? As Josh Helmholdt reveals in the Free Press:

Among the in-state prospects who’ve stated they plan to attend are Detroit Southeastern defensive end William Gholston, Detroit Cass Tech cornerback Dior Mathis, Inkster quarterback Devin Gardner, Warren Fitzgerald linebacker Austin Gray, Charlevoix offensive lineman Bill Ivan and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s quarterback Robert Bolden.

Spartanburg, S.C., quarterback Cornelius Jones (6-2, 197 pounds) is one of those who is trying to work out a trip to Ann Arbor for the event. He was offered by U-M in January. Flower Mound (Tex.) Marcus running back Stephen Hopkins (6-0, 220) has also said he wants to visit Michigan that weekend.

(Ivan added to the recruiting board). There are also a few more recent updates:

  • Sam Webb said last Friday on WTKA that he also expects MI CB Mylan Hicks and MI DE CJ Olaniyan to make it in, but that Cornelius Jones probably won’t have a chance to visit until the spring game.
  • Monday, Sam’s WTKA recruiting update included information that DJ Williamson will attend (see above), and SC OL AJ Cann is also going to try to make it up for Junior Day, along with “a few guys from out in Western PA.” I assume that refers to CBs Cullen Christian and Brandon Ifill.
  • This Rivals header states that instate RB Austin White will be in attendance as well.

***UPDATE*** Gardner also plans to announce a commitment decision Monday, after (presumably) coming on the Ann Arbor visit. This can certainly be seen as a positive sign, though it’s not guaranteed that Devin Gardner will commit to Michigan.

Posted under Basketball, Coaching, Football, Recruiting

Where Does the Offense Go From Here?

Much to the delight of Michigan fans (or maybe just bloggers), Smart Football has taken a fairly serious interest in Michigan since Rich Rodriguez has been the headman. Of course, part of the reason that the Wolverines get mentioned time and again is the fact that everything is not all sunshine and lollipops in Ann Arbor. Of course, Rodriguez has never taken a significant interest in the defensive performance of his teams, so surely the focus of Smart Football is on that side of the ball, no?

Not So Fast My Friend. It is in fact the offense that Chris has taken an interest in. More specifically, it is the idea that Michigan’s offense is not as diversified or systematic as perhaps it should be. This is not an old issue for Chris, who has brought up the point before that the passing game is not conceptually designed. In the more recent post, he goes a little more in-depth:

If Rodriguez wants his offense to be truly elite again, it’s the passing game that has to be the source of innovation. The run game tools are largely in place. There’s some room for improvement all around, but, last season with general inexperience — and without a legitimate running threat at quarterback — the lack of a viable downfield passing attack worked to help cripple the Rodriguez offense. But the fact that this aspect never developed over the course of the season was what really troubled me.

There’s much more to say on this topic, but for now suffice to say that Rodriguez is in danger of falling behind in the spread offense arms race in terms of sophistication. I discussed that phenomena with Purdue as a pass-first spread team over the last decade, but it’s of a slightly different order with Michigan.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Passing Game
Smart Football sez:

But Rodriguez is a bright guy and his passing game originally derived from (though is a long way now) the old run and shoot. So you’d think he could remedy this. Yet with nothing but true freshman, that evolution will have to wait. The longer they wait, however, the farther behind they fall. The only hope is the increased athleticism masks these deficiencies.

Brian’s take on the matter is that Rodriguez hasn’t been forced to have a complex passing game, because with Pat White at the helm, a dominating run game and simple pass game will work just fine, thank you. I tend to agree with that assessment, and it better be true, because, as noted by Smart Football, the Wolverines are likely a year away from being able to add any complexity to the passing game.

With Pat White able to run the ball like he did, and probably not able to pass well enough to have a full pass game installed, it’s easy to see a potential reason the pass game stayed stagnant. Rodriguez’s recruiting has shown that he’s more interested in being able to throw the ball, however, and Tate Forcier may even be a better passer today than White, if not quite the runner:

Running Game
Smart Football:

Compare their offenses with Rodriguez’s: there’s not much difference from a run-game standpoint (though Meyer and OU mix up their sets a bit more and use more tight-ends now), but the passing games have seen a wide departure.

All due respect to Smart Football (and I may be wrong here, because he knows a hell of a lot more about the game than I do), but I’d be willing to say that even Rodriguez’s ground game, at least as implemented last year, is simpler than other spread teams, most notably Florida and Oregon. Again, part of that might have been players who were less-than-optimal for the spread offense, particularly at the quarterback position.

In the future, however, a diversification of the offense, perhaps including innovations like Meyer’s use of the H-back as a shovel option, or more counters, even the triple option/throwback pass that WVU used in the Meineke Bowl. Having better fits at the QB position, and not having to install just that base offense all offseason, will certainly help that in the future.

The Future

Perhaps Pat White got a bad rap as a passer, or maybe Bill Stewart actually knew what he was doing for WVU’s offense, thoughthe stats don’t agree – and that’s in a year where a senior Pat White was supposed to lead WVU to one of the most prolific offenses ever. However, with White looking more like a quarterback than a wideout or return man at the NFL (for better or for worse), it looks like Rodriguez’s schemes will be able to develop more complexity down the road.

As far as diversifying schemes goes, Chris points out that Oklahoma is an example of a spread team with a much more complex (and effective) passing game than Michigan’s. The use of the tight end is pointed out specifically. In fact, Rodriguez has reportedly planned to visit Oklahoma’s coaches in the offseason to trade information on the passing game, particularly the use of tight ends (of which Michigan has many who aren’t getting very much use).

In the future, I would love to see visits to Florida as well, for diversifying the running game a bit, along with figuring out other ways to use the tights ends effectively in the spread offense.

And, as pointed out by Smart Football, Oregon’s offense is one of the best-designed as well. I’ve pointed out in the past that I don’t think Michigan’s schemes are as creative as Oregon’s, and that’s one area where there is room for improvement. Perhaps in the future, Rodriguez can pick the brain of Chip Kelly.

And, most importantly for the future comes recruiting. Rodriguez has more resources available at Michigan than he ever did at West Virginia. White’s emergence as a possible NFL QB has to help recruiting as well. Even if he didn’t tweak his offense at all, if he continues to recruit like he has for the past two classes (or, more likely, improves it by having more success on the field), He could be able to usurp the quality of his offenses in Morgantown. With minor improvements to certain aspects of the offensive side of the ball, an outstanding offense is likely in the future of Michigan football.

Posted under Coaching, Football