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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Update 4/21: Added FL RB Jamaal Berry, FL DT Antwan Lowry, FL QB Eugene Smith, and FL RB Vincent Smith based on this Sam Webb article in the Detnews. Added MD CB David Givens (though I think he's a longshot), OK CB Gabe Lynn, PA DE Kadeem Custis, GA WR Braxton Lane, IN OL Zach Martin($), TX QB Shavodrick (hur) Beaver($), PA LB AJ Fenton, AZ DT Corey Adams, TN OL Alex Bullard. Moved OH RB Fitzgerald Toussaint to committed.

Removed FL WR Duron Carter, who we don't appear involved with, FL QB Aaron Murray (UGA), VA RB Damien Thigpen (Tenn), MD CB David Givens (OSU), PA RB Jordan Hall (OSU), PA LB Dorian Bell (uh... OSU).

Stuff lifted from Varsity Blue: not getting OH OL Marcus Hall (Glenville, no surprise), mildly informative item on SC S Devonte Holloman, piece with quote from FL DT Antwan Lowery, VA QB Kevin Newsome's myspace page... encouraging!

Linked to articles on MS S Rod Woodson (bump from red to yellow), MS S Dennis Thames.

Editorial Opinion: Other than Toussaint's commit, the biggest news going down is this:

Recruits' myspace pages are to be taken seriously in no circumstances, but that picture of Newsome is from his visit to Michigan's spring game -- check the hoodie under his jacket -- and he is now making noises like he is going to end his recruitment sooner rather than later. Michigan followed up his spring game visit with an immediate "evaluation" visit to Newsome's school. (NCAA rules say you can visit a recruits high school twice during this period in an effort to determine if his academics are in order but a strict no-talky policy is enforced, and by "enforced" I mean "not enforced even a little bit, just ask Nick Saban.")

Virginia Tech, presumed to be the main competitor, has Tyrod Taylor two years in front of Newsome; if talk of redshirting the true sophomore comes to fruition it will be three. Signs point to yay.

If you are so inclined, here's ten minutes of Newsome's looping delivery and scrambling ability:

Newsome is currently the #39 overall prospect to Rivals and is on the ESPN 150 watch list. The only dual-threat quarterback rated higher is LSU commit Russell Shepard. He is very nearly shirtless. He's also HIGHLY RATED by TCU fans desperately seeking Shavodrick (hur) Beaver:
All it will take is a commitment from KEVIN NEWSOME (who is rumored to be very close to committing to MICHIGAN) or one of these other QBs and I think BEAVER will re-think all the talk he is hearing about being "an immediate freshman starter" at MICHIGAN. All the puppy love pillow talk, and sweet nothings that Coach RODRIGUEZ is whispering into BEAVER's ear right now, will seem mighty hollow when one of these guys commits before BEAVER does. I think Rodriquez wants 2 QBs in this class, but he knows he cant get two PREMIER QBs. BEAVER is 4 stars but isnt the elite QB who will demand that he is the only QB recruited that year for his college. So Coach RR is taking BEAVER as a 4 star "insurance policy" to sit on the bench in case he is needed in a pinch. But Rodriquez really covets NEWSOME and is targeting him as the starter not BEAVER. Course he aint tellin BEAVER that version. He is fillin BEAVER's head with delusions of competing for starter as a freshman -which will never happen. NEWSOME will be the man.

If both NEWSOME and BEAVER, sign at MICHIGAN, which one would you play? The 6-3, 208 lb guy who runs a 4.5 forty (NEWSOME)? Or the 6-2 172 lb guy who runs the same 4.5 forty (BEAVER)? NEWSOME outweighs BEAVER by more than 35 pounds, is taller, and has the same speed!!!! If I am Coach RR, I want NEWSOME !! Coach RR's previous QB who ran his spread offense with so much success (Wvu's PAT WHITE), is 6-2 200 lbs with 4.5 speed. He is looking for a QB just like PAT WHITE. Who do you think is closest in size to PAT WHITE? BEAVER or NEWSOME? If they both sign, it looks to me like NEWSOME plays and BEAVER sits.

That brings us, in fact, to Beaver, a Texas dual-threat quarterback who was on the verge of committing to TCU despite being a four-star sort until Michigan jumped in with a scholarship offer. By the general reaction on TCU boards you can infer that Beaver is highly interested in Michigan. You don't get that sort of panic and mass chaos unless some guy you've never seen play says he's no longer favoring your school but is instead likely to go to some other school. Michigan is definitely going to take at least two quarterbacks; at the moment he's the most likely to fill one of those spots other than Newsome.

Non-quarterback stuff. Many names added, a number removed. None of the removed seemed particularly likely to be Michigan commits at any point in the future except maybe touted PA LB Dorian Bell, who was apparently enamored with Ohio State. (PA RB Jordan Hall said some nice things about Michigan at one point, but once teammate Terrelle Pryor went to OSU the writing was on the wall.) I may as well answer this question here:
Is anyone concerned that OSU is racking up 4 and 5 star guys every day and we've only got two guys with stars and 3 guys that no one else was pursuing? I'm giving RRod the benefit of the doubt and am very excited about this new era but the recruiting results are a little unnerving.
It's never wise to be too concerned with the recruiting of your opponents. Talented players have to go somewhere, and Ohio State is always going to have highly-rated classes. There's nothing you can do about it. (Not that there's anything we can do about Michigan recruiting, but... whatever. We can fret.)

As far as Michigan: so far they have two top-fifty guys, about whom I assume there are no questions. This was about par for the course as far as top-50 guys under Carr, and Rodriguez looks likely to add another. Then we have the "unrated" guys, but they're only unrated because Scout and Rivals are locked in a rate-'em faster arms race and have been forced to throw lists out before they can get to everyone. I think it's likely both running backs end up with four stars; safety Isaiah Bell, meanwhile, received the sort of fawning praise from ESPN usually only seen in Tom Lemming's evaluations of three-star Notre Dame recruits. None of these guys are much of a reach.

Now... has Michigan recruited on Ohio State's level this year and last? Not quite. If you take opportunity cost and likely attrition into account OSU was probably the mythical recruiting champion last year, and they're off to an excellent start this year.

Recruiting is about building relationships with recruits, and nowadays that starts well before the previous class is put away on signing day. Heck, some schools have half of next year's class committed by the time this year's crop puts pen to paper. It's no coincidence that Michigan's existing recruits had a relationship (fandom, mostly) with Michigan already, and those players who committed or look likely to (add in MN WR Bryce McNeal, Beaver, and Newsome) who didn't are all spread-offense sorts Rodriguez was on from his days at West Virginia. Rodriguez's flashy offense allowed him to aim for the stars with offensive skill recruits.

Not so on defense, where West Virginia ran a weird scheme that allowed them to make up for talent deficiencies. The sort of kid that made an acceptable defensive recruit at West Virginia (or Stanford) would be at the end of Michigan's class; Rodriguez and co are attempting to develop relationships with a different class of kids, and they're a little slow out of the gate. The transition and scramble for another eight kids further delayed things, as Michigan was completely focused on the class of 2008 until the bell rang on Signing Day.

Long story short: given Rodriguez's finishing flourish in last year's class I believe he's a talented recruiter and by the end of the year the results will bear that out. Patience is warranted.