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Monday, February 12, 2007

Donovan Warren

Long Beach, California - 6'0" 175

Scout5*, #4 CB, #22 overall
Rivals5*, #3 CB, #25 overall
ESPN89, #8 CB, #86 overall
Lemming#5 CB, #73 overall
Previously On
(Useless) Donovan Warren?
NotesWOOOOOOOO; enormous Rivals article.

Finally: a big fish is in the boat and, unlike Jai Eugene, he's all contractually obligated and stuff. Warren went virtually unnoticed by all but the most wildly optimistic of Michigan recruitniks, as everything from insiders on both Scout and Rivals was a constant drumbeat: U-S-C. And who would dare go into noted Trojan stronghold Long Beach Poly as anything other than a waste of time?

Ron English, bitches! At the eleventh hour, rumblings to the effect that Warren was considering a second, unofficial visit came and went. This was good: he was interested enough to consider another flight out to Michigan just to confirm his feelings for the place. This was bad: he wasn't going to actually make the trip and would probably choose to stay at home. English sealed the deal anyway. English for God-Emperor.

The result? A polished, ready-to-go corner who spent four years starting at Long Beach Poly, seeing Cal star Desean Jackson and a top-100 2007 recruit every day in practice. The line on Ronald Johnson versus Warren was that Johnson was the better athlete, Warren the better corner. I'd take either, obviously, but if that's true than Warren is probably a better fit for a Michigan team that needs someone to step into the playing rotation now now now.

Guru Reliability: High. Small potential for USC-related overrating.
General Excitement Level: Wooo!
Projection: Marlin Jackson/Leon Hall path: nickelback quickly, starting by the end of his freshman year, gets expectations sky-high as a sophomore, and slightly disappoints.

Michael Williams

Ventura, California - 5'10" 181

Scout4*, #5 S
Rivals4*, #15 S, Rivals250
ESPN80, #10 S, #94 overall
YMRMFSPABrandon Harrison
Previously On
Commit article.
NotesSt. Bonaventure is the new home of totally shirtless 2008 RB Darrell Scott

English's other California catch, Williams was much less of a Christmas miracle. He was down to Notre Dame and Michigan very early in the recruiting year and it was a matter of tugging him away from a guaranteed disaster zone into what's merely a potential one.

Williams will come in as a "nickelback," which is evidently an entirely separate position in Ron English's scheme. Brandon Harrison is the current starter there, so Williams' duties will be to cover slot receivers and go on a lot of ineffective corner blitzes. Also he'll spur countless arguments about how tall he is (or is not). As you can see above, the guru services declared him a safety. There are still some questions about his ability to hang in man coverage against collegiate competition, though he showed well in the Army All-American game. Unlike a lot of this year's recruits Williams seems like a high floor/low ceiling type. He's usually lauded as a "flat out football player," a heady guy who is a solid tackler but may be somewhat lacking top-end athleticism. While he's unlikely to wash out he's equally unlikely to be an All-American or even all conference.

Guru Reliability: High. They saw plenty of him.
General Excitement Level: High-ish. He's the second-best secondary recruit we have and should be an early contributor, though one that people may mutter about.
Projection: No redshirt. Fairly high probability he starts as a sophomore when Jamar Adams graduates.

Troy Woolfolk

Sugarland, Texas - 5'11" 176

Scout3*, #44 CB
Rivals3*, #44 CB
ESPN73, #115 WR
YMRMFSPAMorgan Trent
Previously On
Two camp commits.
NotesSon of Butch Woolfolk

A project, Woolfolk can run really damn fast but will have to be molded into a defensive back. The Morgan Trent comparison above may be more apt than most: his success as a DB will hinge not on his ability to get up to top speed but rather his ability to change direction quickly. Trent's struggling with this, which is not entirely unexpected given his lanky physique and long strides. Perhaps some good news on this front:
He participated in a Michigan camp last summer after which the senior Woolfolk said, "(Head coach) Lloyd Carr told me Troy had about the quickest feet he'd ever seen and he'd offered him a scholarship on the spot. It took me sort of by surprise. I didn't think he'd be interested in coming up north. And, selfishly, I'd sort of hoped he'd stay in Texas so I could see him play more easily."
At least Troy isn't considering Ohio State.

"We got a letter from them," Butch said, "but we burned it."


The timing of Woolfolk's offer -- at camp, when it was widely assumed that Michigan would be hauling in both Ronald Johnson and Dionte Allen -- is a positive. Michigan was not in scramble mode, had a wide array of potential defensive backs to choose from, and has a history of wise camp offers. But there's no reasonable argument the gurus missed him and the other schools in pursuit (Nebraska, TCU) don't help matters. He is what he is: a hit-or-miss type of guy.

Guru Reliability: High.
General Excitement Level: Meh. Obviously one of those high ceiling/low floor types,
Projection: Redshirt, spends a year or two merely observing behind Warren, Sears, etc., may get in a year or two of starting depending on how well he comes along.

Artis Chambers

Fort Wayne, Indiana - 6'2" 185
Scout3*, #34 CB
Rivals3*, #41 S
ESPN78, #25 S

YMRMFSPABrandent Engelmon
Previously On
Commit note; RBUAS does it in style
NotesEnjoys chicken, golf.

An Indiana safety who actually understands what the meaning of the word "commitment" is. [Not bitter, not creepy, not bitter, not creepy... damn.] Chambers was a commit way back in the day, Michigan's second after fullback Vince Helmuth. He spent most of his career at Snider playing quarterback and -- with Michael Williams -- should be filed under "tortoise" if we're dividing Michigan secondary recruits into groups based on boom/bust potential (other groups: "Hare," consisting of Woolfolk and Rogers, and "WOOOOO," consisting of Donovan Warren). ESPN's negatives on Chambers (who they like better than Rivals/Scout, ranking him just outside their top 150):
Lacks bulk and consistent power at the point of attack. Has adequate speed, but is not a burner. Lacks explosive quickness to stay with top receivers in coverage.
So there you go. Though Joe Tiller was evidently impressed...
[When asked about players who "got away"] Tiller said Purdue's staff was most impressed by Fort Wayne Snider defensive back Artis Chambers, who signed with Michigan.
...his coach's description of him is telling:
"He's a rock-solid guy, he's a hard worker,'' Russ Isaacs said. "He'll pay his dues in the weight room and he loves to compete.''
But, hey, at least he's not a flake.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Position switch, early commit.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Should be decent, unlikely to be a star.
Projection: 50-50 on a redshirt. With few safeties in the pipeline ahead of him (just Steve Brown now that Jonas Mouton is a WLB), is likely to get a lot of playing time over the course of his career.

James Rogers

Madison Heights, Michigan - 6'2" 165
Scout4*, #17 S
Rivals3*, #68 ATH
ESPN74, #99 WR
YMRMFSPARemember that one
time David Terrell
played corner?
Previously On
Commit note.
NotesHigh school RB. Nice article.

A camp commitment, Rogers was expected to switch positions when he came in... except he was supposed to switch to wide receiver. His performance at Michigan's summer camp, where he caught everything thrown his way and blew the doors off more highly touted Taurian Washington, garnered an offer and a commit. In the aftermath Michigan displayed a hesitancy to extend a full offer to Washington or put a hold on a previously existing offer or temporarily withdrew his offer or whatever; there was a Michigan-Washington falling out and he ended up at Ohio State. This was widely accepted since Rogers kicked his ass. As Michigan had the opportunity to look at these guys in more detail than recruiting services, hey, this is a kid to get excited about.

Then Rogers announced the coaches were bringing him in as a cornerback. Um... okay. Given Toney Clemons, Junior Hemingway, and the gaping void that is the cornerback position, someone moving makes sense, but it was widely assumed that Californian Zion Babb would be the guy, since he isn't 6'2" and approximately 12 pounds. The upshot is the constant refrain of the class: Rogers could be a star or he could be a scrub.

Guru Reliability: Low.
General Excitement Level: Moderate? I was fonder of him at wide receiver.
Projection: Yet another boom-or-bust type of guy. Guaranteed redshirt, spends a year struggling at corner before moving back to wide receiver.