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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A disclaimer on the "You May Remember Me From Such Players As": YMRMFSPA is supposed to be a rough estimate of what kind of player the recruit could turn into if he pans out. It is not a projection. The players listed tend to be very good because no one knows what kind of player Doug Dutch is; we just know he can't get on the field. I am not saying that I expect Martavious Odoms to be Devin Hester, the best return man in the history of the NFL. I'm saying that Odoms is sort of like Devin Hester and if we roll a second critical hit on our critical hit roll he might be half as good.

End disclaimer. On with shew.

Justin Feagin

Delray Beach, Florida - 6'0" 190
Scout2*, #93 S
Rivals3*, #41 ATH
Other Suitors
Rutgers, Syracuse, Miami (DB), LSU (WR)
YMRMFSPAPat White, obvs. Or Reggie Ball with less fail.
Previously On
Thursday Recrutin'
NotesPronounced "Fay-gin." Like Faygo. He was destined to come up from birth. No word on if he likes ICP or not. Hopefully not.

Justin Feagin is Not Terrelle Pryor, and he is at the moment the only quarterback recruit in the class of 2008 and one of only three that will be on Michigan's roster this year. A small-school star largely ignored by the recruiting services, Feagin is the "dual" in Michigan's upcoming Dual Threet offense.* Zing!

I've said this before, but this is one of the recruits in this class I'm baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason. If you're so inclined you can see Feagin doing squats until two in the morning in his quotes. Feagin on Pryor:
"What if he does go to Michigan? Shame on me if I sit back and think he's better than me. If he wants to play quarterback, we'll have to fight each other for the job. If I win the job, then I'll know I beat out the No. 1 quarterback in the nation."
Feagin on... Pryor:
"I hope, and it would be better for me, if he goes to Michigan. That really lets me see where I stand as a quarterback and if I have really enough potential. He's a good player, and if he goes there that means I have to work twice as hard to get what I want."
This seems something other than the standard blah blah bleur bleur, and I've read a lot of blah blah bleur bleur in my time. Highlights:

Feagin was also heavily involved in his team's state championship, running for 200-some yards and getting burned for a couple touchdowns by Alabama recruit Melvin Ray. He finished third in Florida's Mr. Football voting this year despite playing in the state's smallest classification.

Feagin's recruitment got off to a slow start but by his senior year he had offers from a dozen schools, most prominently LSU (for wide receiver) and Miami (for defensive back). Feagin wanted a shot at quarterback and waited, at which point I think the big schools pulled their offers due to space concerns. (Miami was so full they were trying to jam Martavious Odoms in their class by offering him a track scholarship.) Michigan was left with Rutgers and Syracuse and won that battle.

Feagin sounds like the kind of guy who will thrive under the pressure of the Rodriguez regime and is clearly a high caliber athlete. However, he'll take a ton of developing to be a legitimate quarterback, especially at his height, and I expect that he'll serve as an insurance policy for Threet until such time as the coaching staff can bring in some more highly-touted guys, at which point he'll find a home at wide receiver or in the secondary.

*(Anyone wanting to fight me about that sentence is welcome to.)

Guru Reliability: Dude, like nil. I don't care if he's not an actual quarterback, anyone who has offers from Miami and LSU is not a two-star prospect, Scout. And ESPN didn't even evaluate him.
General Excitement Level: Moderate overall, meh at QB.
Projection: Someone's going to play Tebow to Threet's Chris Leak this fall; unless Carlos Brown locks that down, it'll be Feagin. I have no idea what to expect, but think his future is probably somewhere other than quarterback.

Sam McGuffie

Cypress, Texas - 5'11" 180
Scout4*, #7 RB, #63 overall
Rivals4*, #10 all purpose back
ESPN79, #30 RB
Lemming#29 overall
Other Suitors
USC, Alabama, Texas A&M, Cal
Previously On
The very first mixtape appearance.
McGuffaggedon is nigh.
The liveblog of his HS game.
NotesGood... bad... he's the guy with the gun.

The most obscure member of Michigan's 2008 recruiting class, little-known Sam McGuffie had a moderately successful junior year devoid of highlights, long touchdown runs, and Superman-like feats. Please enjoy this five minute compilation of three yard off-tackle runs:

Mmmm, second and seven.

Despite all of that above -- part of a remarkable junior season in which McGuffie ran for 3,121 yards and 43 touchdowns -- Rivals cited his size and controversially omitted him from their initial top 100, then several more editions of the list before relenting after a Nike camp where McGuffie impressed.

When the season rolled around, McGuffie picked up a high-ankle sprain and a shoulder separation, missing large portions of the first two games before blowing up for 500 yards in the next two. Scout shot him up into their top 50; Rivals dropped him down 100 spots. When McGuffie's nationally televised game rolled around, he limped through an entertaining loss to another team with the word "Cy" in it somewhere. By that time his shoulder injury had gotten so bad that his attempts at pass protection consisted of falling at blitzers' feet. when it looked like he was going to get hit, he spun away from it and went back-first into tacklers. It was weird, and disappointing until the extent of his injuries came out. He probably shouldn't have been playing at all.

Rivals dropped him out of their top 250.

I'm not one of those who scoffs at recruiting rankings, but their continued skepticism about McGuffie is puzzling. He has the offers (Michigan, Florida, USC amongst a host of others), the stats at perhaps the highest level of competition available in high school football, and reel after reel of jaw-dropping highlights. He has the fourth-highest SPARQ rating in the history of whatever the hell a SPARQ rating is because he showed up at a combine before his junior year of high school and ripped off a 4.32 40, a 3.83 shuttle -- I'm not exactly sure if my calculations are correct, but I believe this means he finished the shuttle before he started it -- and a 41' vertical leap.

Though the guys around McGuffie aren't exactly household names yet one, Josh Haden, just got done starting his freshman year as a Florida cornerback. And though McGuffie weighed in at just 164 pounds at that combine, this year he was supposedly up to 185. Stature didn't keep Rivals from ranking Noel Devine the #15 prospect of 2007.

I don't get it. Plenty of offers, spectacular performance when he's not injured, eye-popping combine performances, and the most electrifying highlight reel of the year equals diss. I'm with Scout and Tom Lemming: Sam McGuffie is awesome.

With McGuffie's supply of awesome established, we can turn to how he fits in the spread 'n' shred. Even skeptical Rivals gave McGuffie the nod as the year's best RB in space: Other observers thought it odd he was going to Michigan instead of a place like Texas Tech that would spread the field and take advantage of his particular talents.

Uh... check.

Guru Reliability: Two warring camps, so low.
General Excitement Level: AAAAIIEEEE! Man... this offense is McGuffie's jam, man, and the Church Of Barwis will excommunicate anyone who doubts his his's ability to get up to 200-some pounds without compromising his lightning quicks. Steve Slaton says what.
Projection: He's the man, man. Will battle Brown and Grady for carries at first; probably a Noel Devine role his first year.

Mike Cox

Avon, Connecticut - 6'0" 203
Scout4*, #35 RB
Rivals3*, NR
ESPN77, #69 RB
Other Suitors
UConn, Maryland, BC, Penn State(?)
YMRMFSPAMister Simpson
Previously On
Meet Mike Cox? Also there is a sort-of transcript of a Facebook interview.
NotesDegree of difficulty applies on all jokes about his name. (IE: please no "Mike Cox is huge" jokes.)

All that sarcastic stuff about McGuffie above actually does apply to Cox, who showed up at Michigan's camp a complete unknown and left a Michigan commitment. Cox grabbed a RB offer from highly touted instate back Jonas Gray despite Gray's blazing 4.3 forty. Gray was given an "athlete" offer; Cox was the guy Michigan wanted.

There's almost zero reliable data on Cox. His high school conference is well known for hockey -- read full of rich white guys named "Higginbotham" (no, literally) -- and is awful at football. Adding to the uncertainty is a senior-year injury that kept him out of four of his team's measly eight games against the sweater-as-cape pricks of the world. We know the Michigan coaching staff liked him enough to offer him over Gray, but that was for Mike Debord's zone stretch extravaganza. Rodriguez runs a completely different offense.

Cox got offered by East Coast schools like Boston College and Maryland, so he's not a total flier, but... yeah, still pretty much a flier.

Guru Reliability: Nil. Cox hits all the potential sleeper checkmarks: injury, obscure school, overlooked part of the country, questionable level of competition.
General Excitement: Meh.
Projection: Cox had mediocre offers and guru rankings -- even the Scout 4* is a fringe one -- and was recruited to play an entirely different system. He seems the least likely skill recruit to contribute.

Michael Shaw

Trotwood, Ohio - 6'0" 185
Scout4*, #29 RB, #215 overall
Rivals4*, #6 RB, #102 overall
ESPN78, #58 RB
Other Suitors
Penn State, Tennessee, Iowa, Nebraska
YMRMFSPAAntonio Pittman
Previously On
Nothing, as he was a PSU commit forever.
NotesFWIW, "Takkle" ranks him #62.

(Shaw is listed here but only nominally, as the general consensus is that Michigan will bring him in as a receiver.)

The last signing-day heist to come in for Rich Rodriguez and his wizard hat, Michael Shaw is a guy stuck between two positions. Shaw was a running back for the Trotwood-Madison program that was so generous to Michigan this year, but most observers believe he's being brought in as a slot wide receiver by Michigan.

By June, Shaw had a ton of offers. Michigan was among them and was rumored to be the favorite for his commitment, but the presence (and skittishness) of RB commit Sam McGuffie caused Michigan to offer Shaw as a DB. He didn't like that and committed to Penn State in August. In November he made a brief cameo in the Rivals 100, though he eventually ended up just outside of it. He seemed content until Rich Rodriguez was hired at Michigan; in early January he announced he'd take visits to Tennessee and Michigan. He only took the latter, then went dark until Signing Day, whereupon The Drama unfolded.

That's been hashed and re-hashed. Currently un-hashed: what does Michigan have in Shaw? Scout on Shaw after seeing him in the Herbstreit game against Kentucky Highlands:
It was not like people did not notice him while he led Alter a state championship in 2006, but the move to the "Wood" guaranteed that schools could no longer delay in making him know that he was at the top of their priority list. He was considered by many to be a “system” back, but this game should quiet those critics. He is an explosive player that is multi-faceted. His hands are amazing, he has a feel for the defenders, he has good feet, and he is undoubtedly one of he fastest players in the Midwest.
Bob Lichtenfels' impression from the same game:
The four-star running back showed his electric hips and superb vision. Shaw is not only a great back, but he is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield.
ESPN disagrees completely, complimenting Shaw's ability to get "tough yards after contact" but expressing concern about his speed. He "lacks an extra gear." Which is, like... the exact opposite of what everyone else says. WTF?

I am not a scout, but in the Shaw video at Scouting Ohio I saw a guy with a knack for catching the flare, good speed, and exactly one move: an upfield cut followed by a bounce-out that got him outside high school defenders with regularity. He's clearly fast, sets up his blocks pretty well, and has that glide cut down -- thus the comparison to Antonio Pittman above. But virtually no Shaw runs were between the tackles. Tough yards after contact were few and far between. Maybe ESPN got the wrong film or the highlight reel misrepresents Shaw's strengths... but that's a lot of outside pitches. In comparison the Sam McGuffie tape is full of spins, slashes, hurdles, and wicked cuts both upfield and outside. I can see why Shaw's projected as a wideout.

Not like that will matter hugely, anyway. In the Rodriguez system the slot guys are half running back, frequently coming into the backfield to participate in a triple option, reverse, or end-around. Darius Reynaud, WVU primary slot receiver for the past few years, replaced Steve Slaton at RB when he left the 2006 Louisville game, and was a frequent target on screens that function as running plays and the occasional end-around.

Guru Reliability: High, with the exception of ESPN.
General Excitement: Moderate.
Projection: I don't know what position he'll play or how good of a fit he'll be at either. He seems to be out-RBed by McGuffie and out-slotted by Odoms and Robinson. His high school stats (around 5 or 6 YPC) are also a little lacking compared to most high DI caliber guys.

Position Grades

Quarterback. The below assumes no Pryor. If Pryor does pick Michigan, it's an obvious A+.

D. With Rodriguez's entrance Mallett's exit QB instantly shot to the top of Michigan's to-do list and Justin Feagin isn't sufficient when your other QBs are career backup David Cone and well-regarded but unproven Steven Threet. Don't get me wrong, I like Feagin in an irrational way, but I'd like him even better as the second quarterback who could pan out but no big deal if he does or not and not, like, the only athletic QB on the roster.

Rodriguez was handicapped by his late switch and what appear to be ludicrous demands on the part of South Florida signee BJ Daniels, but this remains a results-based charting service.

Running Back: A. Your personal grade will vary based on your opinion of Sam McGuffie's talents. He's Bill Brasky to me, so up goes the A. Picking up Michael Shaw is an excellent insurance policy/secondary recruit that almost guarantees Michigan will have a high caliber tailback from this class. Mike Cox has a funny name and could contribute.