The Ballad of Kevin Newsome

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

2009 Michigan Decommit QB Kevin Newsome Penn State

The Commitment
Kevin Newsome was, by all accounts, the Michigan coaching staff’s #1 quarterback target in the class of 2009 (after Russell Shepard’s very early commitment to LSU, of course). A track star in the hurdles, and a pretty good passer (though raw) as a quarterback, he had the game of Pat White, just ratcheted up a couple levels. Michigan fans paid very close attention to Newsome from the beginning, and things looked very encouraging when he visited for the Spring Game, even though it was a rain-soaked affair at Saline High School. Shortly after returning home to Virginia, Newsome gave off signs that he was a heavy Michigan lean. The tipping point came when he made the Eiffel 65 song “Blue” (lyrics: “I’m blue”) his background track on MySpace (sadly, I’m not kidding). Within a couple weeks, he committed to Michigan, giving Rich Rodriguez his first big-time QB commit.

The Decommitment
Though he initially said he was a solid commitment to Michigan, and even helped the Wolverine recruiting effort by calling other prospects, Newsome quickly started seeming a little soft in his pledge to Michigan during the summer. He stopped talking to other recruits as much, and even told some recruiting sites he was considering taking visit to other schools. Michigan fans were getting worked up over the idea of losing Newsome even before he announced he was transferring high schools for his senior season, and heading to Hargrave Military School to play on their post-grad team. They perhaps tried to talk themselves into being comforted by this fact, as Hargrave has a reputation for encouraging committed recruits to remain with their current schools. However, just a week before the 2008 season began, Newsome rescinded his pledge to Michigan and re-opened his recruitment.

The Impact
When Newsome decommitted, many Michigan fans simply thought “Tate Forcier, come on down!” However, Newsome was still a loss for Michigan (I still think what could have been if Newsome and Forcier had been the two commits, but I digress), as he has very good physical attributes for the position in the Rich Rodriguez system. Though raw as a passer, he has good size and a high ceiling, though his floor could be very low. Michigan ended up replacing Newsome with Forcier, so the dropoff from that position is not too bad overall, especially considering Forcier, with all his coaching, is likely more ready to compete right away. However, down the road, Newsome could be the best of the bunch – though he’ll do it for Penn State now.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

Recruiting Update: 12-26-08

Recruiting Boards, as always, are here:
2009 & 2010
and in the sidebar to the left.

Standard RichRod recruiting fluff from the Freep.

This is a little late, but Shavodrick Beaver has been moved from committed and completely removed from the board in the wake of his bizarre decommitment to Tulsa. His player page has been removed from the 2009 Commit HQ (also available to the left).

So what’s the upshot for the rest of the class from the Beaver commitment? Most likely a more intense focus on FL QB Denard Robinson, the only remaining quarterback on the board. The Sun-Sentinel had some kind things to say about his fit in the Michigan offense, and mentions his upcoming visit (more on that in a moment). The header of a Scout article by Allen Wallace is a little more specific:

Denard Robinson still plans to visit Michigan on Jan. 9, Kansas State on Jan. 16 and Central Florida on Jan. 23. “I like Michigan because the old coaches from West Virginia are there,” Robinson said. “Coach Rich Rodriguez is trying to install his system there and I think I’d be a good fit. They need a good dual-threat quarterback like me. I won’t be making a final decision until after my visits.”

…so it certainly sounds like Michigan is much more involved than they were a couple weeks ago, and are back to recruiting Robinson as a QB. Finally, there’s another Scout article, entitled “Is U-M near the top for Robinson?” This is the type of teaser to which the answer is almost always “yes.”

If Michigan doesn’t land Denard Robinson, there’s a good chance that guys like Tajh Boyd, Eugene Smith, and Raymond Cotton come back into play.

…and while we’re up in arms about who will fill the second QB slot, don’t forget about the quarterback still committed in this class. Tate Forcier was recently interviewed on WDFN (audio | transcript). What did he have to say about Beaver?

It didn’t really phase me, I wasn’t worried about him. I knew I was going to have to come in and compete regardless of whether it was against him or against Threet. Him leaving it didn’t phase me.

He’s also ready to go at Michigan, having already enrolled (as detailed here earlier this week), and he’s ready to learn and help Michigan win:

I’m actually heading out there in less than two weeks. Right away right when I get out there, coach Smith and coach Rodriguez both told me I’m going to be spending most of my time with them learning that playbook. And with coach Barwis getting me prepared for next season – that’s the main goal right now, to get ready and hope to lead Michigan to a good season next year.

And how is he going to help Michigan win?

I have everything you want in a quarterback. I’m not the tallest guy, but I know how to get the job done. I have a feel for the game. I feel the pressure. I have a great feel for everything. I have great arm strength. I have good enough speed. Overall it’s just the balance of me as a quarterback. I’m not over the top on anything, but that’s what the Michigan coaches are going to try to get me to do – be the best of the best… My goal is to be a little bit like Colt McCoy. It’s almost nearly the same size and speed. It’s possible I may have a stronger arm than him. That’s kind of a lot to say, but I think if I worked hard I could maybe follow in his footsteps and be the type of quarterback that he is.

And that should be just about everything in regards to 2009. Let’s stick with the quarterbacks theme, however, and move along to 2010.

Sometime early next week, I should (finally) have some video up of 2010 MI QB Devin Gardner‘s performance in theDivision III State Championship game (and of course, some film on his teammate, Michigan commit Cameron Gordon, but that doesn’t really fit with the QB theme, now does it?). Look forward to that somewhere within the next round of updates.

Virginia Tech’s inability to land Kevin Newsome this year may lead them to more heavily pursue another local product next year, in Phillip Sims. Despite his good speed, Sims insists that he wantas to be looked at as a pro-style QB. His current schools of interest (including UVa, BC, and Tennessee) seems to bear that out. Hell remain on the board until he says he’s no longer interested in the Wolverines or a spread offense.

Speaking of other QB prospects Michigan may be a little behind in recruiting, 2010 OH QB Spencer Ware will likely end up at a different position in college, but he’s an electifying athlete either way that Michigan would certainly love to have. The current list for Ware is Ohio State, some SEC schools (including Georgia, his favorite), then a bunch of slightly lesser-tiered schools (including the hometown Bearcats).

…and before I wrap up the QBs-only edition of the Recruiting Update, I may as well take care of a couple things not related to signal-callers:
Removed 2009 MD DE/LB Jason Ankrah. He has committed to Nebraska.
Removed 2009 PA LB Dan Mason, who will choose between Pitt, WVU, and Penn State.

Posted under Football, Recruiting

Recruiting Update 9-11-08

All information (past and present) lives on the board.

New Information:
VA QB Kevin Newsome. Still nominally considering Michigan, though Forcier’s commitment pretty much shuts the door on the Wolverines re-landing him. More on Newsome: Michigan isn’t one of the 3 locks to make his top 5.
OK RB David Oku. Spoke less-than-effusively about his Louisville visit. This is recruiting-speak for “I couldn’t have hated it more.” However, he rescheduled his announcement for next Wednesday. Without having visited Michigan, the Wolverines’ chances seem pretty low.
GA TE Terrell Mitchell. Michigan is still on him.
MI DT William Campbell. Some more information on his decommitment, including that he plans to enroll early wherever he chooses. Re-recruitment article from the Freep. Sam Webb discusses Campbell in the Detroit News. Quoth the mother:

“He’s still basically committed to U-M, but I said there is nothing wrong with going to visit a few schools. There is nothing wrong with that.”

This doesn’t sound too bad. Also, the article says he won’t announce his decision until the Army game, which would contradict a recent assertion that he will enroll early.
NJ DE Anthony LaLota. Michigan and PSU are widely regarded to be his de facto top 2. Also, Scout indicates that he is likely deciding soon.
MI S Thomas Gordon. The Cass Tech player has said he’d be a near-lock to Michigan were he to get an offer, and now he has it (info in header). Is his commitment just a matter of time?
FL S Jonathan Scott. His brother transfers from OSU. I guess coming to Michigan would no longer let them engage in sibling rivalry.
MS S Dennis Thames. Fluff, including top schools (Michigan still up there). His injury will keep him out 4-6 weeks.

MI RB Hersey Jackson. He is out for the season with an injury. He hadn’t earned a Michigan offer, and needed a big senior year to get one. So much for that idea.

Like I said immediately in the wake of the Campbell “decommitment,” nothing has really changed for Big Will. When he was “committed” he said he’d take 5 visits and probably pick Michigan, and following his “decommitment,” he’s saying… that he’ll take 5 visits and probably pick Michigan. On that basis alone, there’s nothing to freak out about (if we didn’t really have him before, did we really lose him).

NC S Devonte Holloman. He will take visits other than Clemson. Typical “not including elsewhere-committed prospects” rules apply, but keep in mind that one of them will be to Michigan. He is planning to enroll early, fwiw.
MI WR Commit Bryce McNeal. A bit of fluffy stuff.
TX QB Commit Shavodrick Beaver. Don’t forget, he plays on ESPN2 in a couple hours.

Michigan Targets Visiting South Bend This Weekend:
NC OL Xavier Nixon (though he’s not on the board anymore, could a strong game from the Wolverines rekindle his interest in Michigan?).
SC DE Chris Bonds (have seen a “maybe” next to this one).

Posted under Recruiting

Preseason Mailbag

Chen Geng (whose name can be pronounced in such a way that it sounds eerily/hilariously similar to “chain gang”):

Since it seems this season will go where the OL goes, what’s the injury history been for RR’s WVU teams? Did Barwis use chocolate milk to make their knees unbreakable?

Much thanks for the site.

It is my (and a generally-held) opinion that injuries are mostly freak occurences, and you can only prepare for them so much. That said, West Virginia has had a lot of luck (or injury prevention ability, if you believe in such a thing) over the past couple years. They bring back five starters this year, all of whom started most of last year except the right tackle, who started the final 6 contests.

Michigan, by contrast, started a smorgasbord of starting lineups, with Jake Long, Justin Boren, and Adam Kraus the only consistent starters (and even then Kraus and Boren trading starts at two different positions). Alex Mitchell, Corey Zirbel, Steve Schilling, Jeremy Ciulla, Mark Ortmann, etc., all started games as well. Of course, part of this was due to lack of production, rather than injuries (though they played a big part as well), but you can see that consistency is a big part of success.

So, it appears as though West Virginia has been mostly lucky in the past few years in terms of keeping starters along the O-line uninjured. If you believe that Barwis’s exercises have some sort of magical ligament-fortifying power (Corey Zirbel would tend to disagree), then the futur might look bright for Michigan offensive lines.

Tony in Markley (for the record, I love the use of dorm name for location, rather than, you know, where you’re from):

So, uh, what would a Forcier commit mean in comparison to Michigan just keeping Newsome committed?

Well, for the short-term, it is much, much better. Forcier is the most ready of all of Michigan’s quarterback prospects to step in a contribute right away. Like many of the SoCal QB prodigies (yes, including Jimmy Clausen), he has a private QB tutor, so his mechanics and reads, etc., are well ahead of your average high schooler. That, in combination with his predicted early enrollment, would mean he might be able to challenge for a starting job in 2009. That said, any true freshman is going to be a liability as a starting QB, but Forcier would be the best to step in as a true.

In the long-term, Newsome has a higher ceiling as a prospect. He is taller, faster, probably a little stronger in the arm department. That said, he is raw as a quarterback. Even an early enrollment (which he is/was also planning on doing) wouldn’t be enough time to get a QB like Newsome ready to play as a true freshman. However, he could have been an unstoppable beast down the road, once he became familiar with the responsibilities of the quarterback, and capable of doing what he needs to do to succeed.

I’ll also take this opportunity to give a WTF to the stated reason for his decommitment. Newsome’s father said he “heard” (ed note: this means the coach at another school, with no motivation to lie whatsoever) that Michigan wouldn’t give Kevin a legitimate shot at playing quarterback. Instead, he “heard” that they would give him one chance then switch his position. This does not make sense. The Newsomes believed the most obvious bullshit negative recruiting about THE ONE school that had no intentions of ever even considering making Kevin play anything other than quarterback.

Matt from Louisiana (since I’ve had parenthetical commentary on each commenter so far, I’ll disclose that I know Matt personally, and he wasn’t expecting my answer to come in mailbag form):


This individual was not the first to suggest such an idea:


But what are you thoughts on a SEC-Big 10 Challenge over Labor Day weekend (ala Big 10-ACC challenge on the hardwood)? As the NFL would not have started, you can have games on 3 days. You would rotate sites and let the 6th place team in SEC East/West (rotate) sit out. In the current state of college football, this is merely interesting fodder for discussion. However, upon moving to a playoff system (which will happen eventually), I think school presidents will value the growth of their sport (and ratings and revenue) over playing a really tough game (and a potential loss) the first weekend of the season.


Corso makes Gameday go. I can only listen to the smart Herbstreit talk college football for about 1.5 hours. But I will stick around for 2 hours to see that PLUS Corso’s antics.

Matt, as the proud proprietor of a blog, I reserve the right to condescendingly answer your question in mailbag form, rather than the simple e-mail that you definitely would have preferred.

However, from a strictly economic sense, I’m not sure that this would be a guaranteed way to make more money. Take the excuse of Bill Martin for not playing a tougher out-of-conference schedule (which, essentially, this would be forcing schools from each conference to do): they simply can’t afford it. Of course “can’t afford it” is secret code for “can make more money with a different system,” in this case playing Notre Dame and a rotating series of tomato cans. If you guarantee 3 home games, and shell out a half-million bucks to the helpless opponents (helpless unless, of course, it’s Appalachian State – too soon?), you are still netting more than going year-on, year-off in a home-and-home scenario, since you make the same amount off TV either way. Some teams, including those in the SEC, have neutral-site OOC games to make more money, but it is literally impossible to sell more tickets at any other venue than The Big House, Happy Valley, or The Shoe.

With the Big Ten locked into contracts with the Big Ten Network and ESPN, and the SEC’s recently-signed deal with the ESPN family of networks, there isn’t much of a way for the conferences or the schools themselves to make much more cash by playing a good OOC schedule. The networks can make more money by promising better ratings and charging more for ad time (which, technically, in the case of the BTN would make more money for conference schools), but this revenue typically doesn’t trickle down to the schools.

Also, there is the issue of coverage. Every weekend that Big Ten teams are in action, the BTN is guaranteed at least three games to cover. In SEC country, that would mean 3 SEC games that fans can’t see (and, knowing SEC fans, they wouldn’t even PPV the games, because they wouldn’t dare contribute money to the Big Ten).

While I think that such an idea would be good for college football, in addition to being downright entertaining (and perhaps being a yearly notch in the conference supremacy belt), when it’s all about the benjamins, a Big Ten-SEC Challenge isn’t an economically preferred system.

As far as the GameDay thing, Orson Swindle posted a pretty good synopsis of my feelings about it under his flesh name over at The Sporting Blog.

Posted under Mail Bag

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Recruiting Update 8-22-08

Huge update this week. There is actually more that will have to wait to Monday because this update is so JAM-PACKED. Anyway, here’s the board.

Moved to Committed:
TX K Anthony Fera.

A kicker category to the board. Thanks, Fera, ya jerk. Maybe in the light of more recent developments, I shouldn’t be calling anyone committed to Michigan a jerk.

Moved from Committed:
VA QB Kevin Newsome.

New Information:
CA QB Tate Forcier. August 30th visit (info in header).
GA WR Braxton Lane. Skipping football this fall to focus on baseball. Sounds unlikely he’ll hit the gridiron in college.
NC OL Travis Bond. His official visit is set for October 25.
VA DE Will Hill. Fluff.
SC DE Chris Bonds. Michigan and Notre Dame won’t move into his highest group until after he has a chance to see campus. They are still in his top 5.
OH DE Tank Carradine. Does he have an offer? He’s been working on his grades.
FL LB Brandin Hawthorne has set up 5 official visits, despite planning a decision before any of them. If Michigan is his choice on August 30, expect him to either forget about the other visits or not be given all the priviledges (i.e. having a spot saved for you) of a true commit.
OK CB Gabe Lynn. His friend (and former UM target) David Gordon is trying to lure him to Arkansas. Lynn’s junior highlights.

PA WR Todd Thomas. He may have trouble qualifying. That may explain why Michigan never really seemed interested, despite his early love for the Wolverines.

MN WR commit Bryce McNeal is a speed prospect, but is currently too skinny to be considered speed and size. Paging Mike Barwis, who will have McNeal built like an All-American in no time flat.
TX QB commit Shavodrick Beaver welcomes competition. I was so much more into this article when there was someone in the class for him to compete with.

Recruiting changes from the developing Newsome situation outlined here. On the defensive end front, Michigan still really needs people. Though Tank Carradine is now reporting an offer, his recruitment remains under the radar, likely because of qualifying issues of his own.

Posted under Recruiting

Apparently He Didn’t Appreciate the Practice Special

Kevin Newsome has decommitted from Michigan as per Scout (info in header). While this doesn’t necessarily mean that Newsome will go elsewhere, it is obviously not a good sign. Luckily for Michigan, even if Newsome does decide to go elsewhere there are two other high caliber guys (Tate Forcier and Eugene Smith) who are still interested and available.

More info later.

Non-Informative Update:
For those of you sad about Newsome, hopefully this helps:

Via Hoover Street Rag (who vias others).

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 8-11-08

New Information:
FL TE Orson Charles. He loved his Miami visit, and Georgia appears to be the only other school under serious consideration. He is teetering dangerously close to removal.
PA WR Todd Thomas. Pitt leads. He is also fairly close to removal.
MD DE Jason Ankrah. One local media video piece. Two local media video pieces.
GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore. Knows where he is taking all official visits (Michigan is one).
OK CB Gabe Lynn. Still no favorite.

Want to see Pahokee play in person (and likely Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne commit)? There are tickets available. Bastrop (DE commit DeQuinta Jones, WR target Rueben Randle) will have a game on the ESPN family of networks. Much annoyance to the abundance of articles talking exactly how many games are going to be on ESPN without saying which games. In case you’re curious, Western Branch is figuring what to do without Newsome. According to Sam Webb, Michigan may not be out of it for Oku. I’ll leave him off the board for now.

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 7-25-08

I forgot to link it Monday, but don’t forget that the board is here.

Moved to Committed:
LA DE DeQuinta Jones. The awesomely-named one is also added to the board in this update. Commit article.

New Information:
VA QB commit Kevin Newsome. Some glorious, glorious reassurance from Sam Webb that he is firmly committed, and recruiting other players to Michigan. Now in convenient print form! Newsome speaks with SI about transferring to Hargrave.
FL QB Eugene Smith. He made the Elite 11. And is performing quite well.
FL S Jonathan Scott. Michigan in his top 3 (info in header).
SC DEs Sam Montgomery and Chris Bonds. Both plan to take officials to Michigan.
FL CB Mywan Jackson. Michigan visit this weekend.
NJ DE/OL Anthony LaLota. Narrows his list to 7 (including the Wolverines).
NV DE Keenan Graham. Will he decide before getting a chance to visit Michigan?
MS S Rod Woodson. Now reports an offer.

AL DE William Ming. Alabama commit.
IN LB TyQuan Hammock. After not getting the Michigan offer he wanted, commits to Michigan State.

Hooray, a defensive end! Michigan will want at least one more in this class, likely a speed rusher. Other sources of celebration: Reassurance on the Newsome front! Hooray!

Posted under Recruiting

On Quarterbacks (Yet Again)

It’s time to respond to a post that I find to be completely off-base regarding Kevin Newsome. You may remember the author from giving us an insight or two on Newsome and Jelani Jenkins a while back, but I’m not going to link the source article, since it was particularly dickish when all I’ve done is give the guy hits:

For any of the folks from the Varsity Blue web site that as still visiting, let me say, to quote the great poet Henry Rollins: “HA HA HA, sucker! Sucker!” Did you really think you were going to get Kevin Newsome out of the 757? You are a total idiot for doubting me. His brother, rising junior standout Keevon Newsome, wants to go to Vah-tech, and Kevin Newsome is already concerned that Michigan is going to present some problems. You don’t leave your native school to go to Hargrave because your grades are above the line, so he obviously has some academic problems. Nobody is as accomodating of academic and behavioral shortcomings as Frank Beamer, and none of Rich-Rod’s shady, illegal recruiting tactics are going to change that. A lot of people with optics into this one tell me it is already done and that Newsome will formally back out of his verbal to Michigan and commit to Vah-Tech before the season starts. For all you Varsity Blue dorks, my prediction remains unchanged: Kevin Newsome will be a Hokie, and Jim Tressel will bitch-slap the Wolverines for another five straight years (at least).

I highly doubt Kevin Newsome would be the president of his high school chapter of National Honor Society if he had grade issues. Thus, it must follow that he is going to Hargrave for other reasons. Could one of these reasons be to get away from the pressure within the 757 to go to VT? It certainly follows logically, especially when you take into account that Newsome’s new head coach at Hargrave is particularly fond of making his players remain true to verbal commitments.

Also, Keevon is a big VT fan, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up there. However, if Kevin was going to do the same, wouldn’t he have taken the opportunity of the VT camp to take a visit (especially considering Keevon was there for the camp).

I won’t even bother to respond to the allegations of sady recruiting tactics (dumb) or the touting of Frank Beamer as a sketchy character. Both are laughable.

For more information on Michigan’s quarterback situation, check out the Free Press. Even if Newsome does back out of his verbal, Michigan has a couple slightly less-touted contingency plans.

Posted under Recruiting

Recruiting Update 7-11-08

Mega-full week. Some stuff may be held until Monday’s update.

IN OL Kyle Koehne. Top 4 of UM, MSU, BC, UF. Wants to decide before his senior season.
VA DE Will Hill. Visiting this weekend.

New Information:
VA QB Commit Kevin Newsome. May camp at VT. :(
MI QB/S Thomas Gordon. Nearly guaranteed to commit if offered.
MS S Dennis Thames. Recruiting fluff, +visited this week and subsequently named Michigan his favorite.
IN OL Zach Martin. Top 5 of UM, ND, UVa, UK, Ill. Wants to decide before senior season (not set in stone). Visiting this weekend.
GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore. Likes Michigan and plans to visit this summer (info in header).
NV DE Keenan Graham. Michigan in his top 9.
OK CB Gabe Lynn. Michigan would let him run track in college.
CA WR Shaquelle Evans. Michigan “high on his list.” He is expected to visit Notre Dame for the Michigan game.
GA CB Darren Myles. He plans a visit to the northern schools on his list sometime this summer. Michigan is on his list but not explicitly mentioned as one of the visited.
NC WR Jheranie Boyd. Recruiting fluff.

SC QB/S Stephon Gilmore. Michigan is out of his top group.
FL CB Brandon McGee. Has made decision plans, Michigan not among the schools considered.
IA WR Keenan Davis. Will not decide until signing day, no apparent M interest.
TN WR Marlon Brown. Trimmed list, no Michigan.
NC CB Terry Shankle. Michigan eliminated.

Etc.: TheWolverine’s Josh Helmholdt breaks down Michigan and MSU recruiting classes thus far.

Posted under Recruiting