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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update 4/28: Various things on FL QB Eugene Smith, including a wild brawl and profile, 7-on-7 video. Linked to video of MI WR Hersey Jackson and OH OL Chris Freeman, articles on AZ DE Craig Roh (from VB), TX WR Josh Gordon, IN QB Morgan Newton, OK RB David Oku, MI WR James Jackson (plus OSU speculation), GA QB Donovan Tate, a couple interviews with MN WR Bryce McNeal, note on CA WR Shaquelle Evans. Moved VA QB Kevin Newsome to committed. Added NC WR Jheranie Boyd, SC DE Sam Montgomery (ESPN), NC OL Xavier Nixon, MI LB Jeremy Gainer.

Apparently we just offered OH OL Corey Linsley, but I'm not adding him because I'd need to make some sort of super-nefarious Eduardo if I did; ticketed to OSU. (Update: he committed.) Removed LA DT Chris Davenport (dropped us), MN WR Fritz Rock (no mutual interest).

There's also this ESPN article with notes on OK CB Gabe Lynn and TX QB Shavodrick Beaver.

Editorial Opinion: Huzzah for the nation's #2 dual-threat quarterback, and double-huzzah because Kevin Newsome's commitment appears to have accelerated the timetables for other Michigan quarterback targets looking to have a seat when the music stops. As Varsity Blue notes, GBW's Sam Webb floated the possibility that Michigan would have QB #2 in the fold by the end of the week on WTKA.

Candidate #1: Texan Shavodrick Beaver, who was looking all wrapped up for TCU until Michigan stepped forth with an offer and caused TCU message boards to implode. A quick read between the lines indicates Beaver's offered some highly pro-Michigan quotes to the paysites, and time may be short for TCU to make up ground. Rivals teaser($):

For four-star dual-threat quarterback Shavodrick Beaver, a decision may not be too far off.
Scout teaser($):
Is Beaver Ready to Make the Call?
You may be thinking "whoop dee doo, a kid we might pluck from TCU" but Beaver is a member of the Rivals 250 and has done pretty well(video) in the Elite 11 selection camps. ESPN on his performance:
Initially Beaver looked unsure of himself and a bit shy as the Elite 11 kicked off, but as he moved into the second day and stayed for the NFTC event, Beaver began to just play and not think. His arm became more live, and you could see his confidence rise. He is still a project in the passing game, but he is one heck of an athlete and a dual-threat guy who will only improve as a passer.
He's not an afterthought.

Candidate #2: Californian Tate Forcier, he of the "we can get all the tight... WRs" myspace comment to Kevin Newsome. Forcier, of course, is the brother of former Michigan quarterback (and alternate universe starters) Jason. He's got a teaser of his own. The general opinion of the internet -- and something that's pretty easy to read between the lines -- is that Forcier is Michigan's #1 target now that Newsome has been secured, but if Beaver wants to commit they aren't willing to wait on Forcier. He might have to jump first.

Would he? There is some buzz that he actually would. Penn State is supposed to be a prime competitor for Forcier, which indicates a willingness to leave the West Coast and play in the Big Ten. As far as potential competitors go, a rudderless team that may or may not boot its coach this year or next and just finished turning Anthony Morelli from a five-star prospect into an "acutely undercoached," undrafted free agent is as good as it gets. UCLA and Oregon and some other West Coast schools are also in the running.


He reminds me of two different quarterbacks: Drew Tate and Jeff Garcia. Both were smallish scramblers with tons of moxie; Tate was exclusively a buy-time kind of guy while Garcia was prone to take off when it seemed like a good idea. Forcier is evidently in the latter camp with over 500 yards rushing last year.

Candidate #3: Floridian Eugene Smith. Smith was the subject of an immensely long article($) from, Rivals' program-agnostic Florida HS site, in which he had a lot of very nice things to say about Michigan. Smith seems like a nice, balanced kid in this video profile from the Sun-Sentinel even though his team gets in a wild "you don't come into the O.B."-style brawl towards the end. I believe that cost him and a lot of other players on his team three-game suspensions, but that hasn't stopped college recruiters from coming after him. Here's some fluff.

Smith is also a Rivals 250 member and is probably #3 on the pecking order behind Forcier and in front of Beaver. The catch with him is he does not seem inclined to make an early decision, so if all goes well Michigan will fill up before he gets around to it. At that point Michigan would have to make a hard decision about whether to spend a third slot in this class on a quarterback and somehow manage to keep all three. That's unlikely. (Michigan may bring in a third player who they have promised a shot at quarterback before a move to wide receiver or defensive back; Murray is a QB all the way.)

Non-quarterback items. I lie. One more quarterback item:
Western Branch’s Kevin Newsome could rank this weekend as one of his best.

Earlier this week, Newsome – one of the nation’s top quarterbacks – verbally committed to play football at Michigan. On Saturday, Newsome led the Bruins’ 400 relay to the large schools title.

The foursome of Jeffrey Artis, Tory Womack, Olimas Robison and Newsome ran 42.01.

It was the ninth fastest high school time of the afternoon. Nansemond River was in the same heat and ran 42.19 to place fourth.

Here's video of Newsome's team winning (also from VB); he has the anchor leg and pulls away from the pack with about 50 meters left.

Now: actual items about actual non quarterbacks.

Hopefully TX WR Josh Gordon is a really frickin' awesome player that Michigan hasn't had the chance to evaluate yet, because...

The Wolverines are definitely in the catbird seat here and Gordon went as far as to say, "if Michigan gave me an offer I'd commit."
...yeah. Gordon has offers from Texas A&M, Nebraska, Missouri, Arizona, and Houston and is a big (6'4") loping outside receiver type who would not compete with any of the zillion slot guys Michigan's recruited over the past few months; he plans on camping and will be a name to watch. Indications he might be kinda awesome follow.

He was amongst the most impressive wideouts at the Army All-American Combine:
Gordon, who checks in at about 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, [or 6'3" according to Rivals elsewhere or 6'5" according to Gordon himself... grade inflation -ed] was the most natural pass catcher of the bunch. He possesses soft hands and fluid movement. Defensive backs were helpless to stop him all day because he would either shield them from the ball with his body or leave them behind with precise patterns. Gordon also posted one of the top vertical jumps in the entire combine.

Gordon's performance was cut short when he got nicked up halfway through the one-on-one portion of the combine, but he had served notice long before that and should be one of the more heavily recruited receivers in the country before all is said and done.
He and fellow Michigan recruit Bryce McNeal were the receivers on the All-Combine team:
McNeal showed why he's already picked up some major scholarship offers with a strong showing throughout the entire combine. He was extremely effective in the one-on-one battles, and his combination between speed and hands make him a deadly target. Gordon was extremely impressive during the one-on-ones. He did go down late with a slight hamstring tweak, but that was about the only thing that stopped him. Using his amazing frame, he was a very difficult matchup for defensive backs, and he won almost every single one-on-one battle he went through.
Miscellania: this Houston Chronicle video of a 42-20 playoff victory doesn't have much in the way of spectacular Gordon plays but it is set to "November Rain," which has to be a first, and indicates that the Lamar mascot is some sort of horrifying version of Chief Wahoo in blackface; there's also this from Gordon's sophomore year, with two long catches, one a touchdown, the other a fumble, in a 17-16 loss for Lamar. (You know how I know Michigan's been recruiting a lot of kids from Houston? I recognize Sam Khan, the Chronicle reporter from these videos, on sight. "Oh, it's Sam Khan back to talk to me about a Houston-area high school football game," I think, and my mother weeps a little inside.) He claims to be feeling 'insubordinate' on his (shockingly tasteful) myspace page; he also claims to be 88 years old.

Speaking of Bryce McNeal, the Minnesota wide receiver floated up to #70 in Rivals' revised top 100, and I ran across a couple interviews with him at the "GopherHole," which is not Caddyshack porn but is rather a Minnesota fansite. One's from January and not that useful; the one from March, on the other hand:
GH: What are your top schools?
BM: I’ve been very secretive, all I can say is that Michigan and Minnesota are in the top 5.

GH: Tell me about your Michigan visit?
BM: It was nice out there, I was there for 4 or 5 hours on my way back from a 7 on 7 tournament in Akron, Ohio. I sat down and talked to Coach (Rich) Rodriguez for about an hour or hour and half. I also sat down and talked to Coach (Tony) Dews , who is the receiver coach. I sat in the receiver position meeting. I met the offensive coordinator, Coach (Calvin) Magee . I also talked to the strength and conditioning coach. They all seemed like good guys.

GH: Does it worry you that Rodriguez is in his first year at Michigan?
BM: No, not really. He comes from West Virginia which is also a good program.

GH: What did you talk to Coach Rodriguez about?
BM: We went over everything, football, life, and his experience with West Virginia, and also talked about where I sit in the offensive scheme.

GH: Where do you sit?
BM: I would start out playing the split receiver, and I would get a chance to learn the slot and other positions.

GH: Did he tell you you’d be able to play as a freshman?
BM: He said that if guys could come in and play well, they’d play. If you can prove yourself as a freshman, you can play. If you show them you can take on the offensive scheme, you will start, if not they’ll red-shirt you.

GH: What do you like about Rodriguez? How does he differ from Brewster?
BM: He and Coach Brewster are actually very alike. When it comes down to talking to them, they’re both energetic, good guys, and keep it real.
That block of M-related questioning is about 10x the length of passages on anyone else, probably a good sign. Also interesting that they're not looking at him in the slot. Also super-weird that he didn't remember Mike "Eeee" Barwis's name.

Later, McNeal mentions that his girlfriend, Tayler Hill, is also going through the recruiting process (the article does not specify for what; a quick googling shows she's a basketball player ranked #12 in the country) and that there's one school both are interested in. It's not specified, but it is mentioned that it's part of his "top three," which kinda implies that it's not either of the UMs. I know f-all about women's basketball but UConn's like the Darth Vader of it and she appears to be OMG tasteful nudity as a basketball recruit, so maybe that's it.

And you can interpret this however you want, but fellow MN WR Fritz Rock just saw his offer yoinked because he wouldn't commit. According to the GopherHole's main recruiting correspondent, Minnesota is looking for two receivers and has one already committed. Would you push a lower-ranked kid to commit, even going so far as to deliver an ultimatum, if you thought you had a real shot at McNeal? I dunno. That implies to me that Minnesota is getting a courtesy listing and McNeal is favoring Michigan significantly. This, of course, is speculation based on circumstantial evidence and should not be used as a justification to string me up should McNeal go somewhere else.

Rock, by the way, was dropped from the board since there appears to be little mutual interest between him and Michigan.

Other names are popping up; some clarifications and corrections:
  • On the two instate Jacksons: Hersey is just now gathering his first offers from places like Central Michigan and Cincinnati and appears to be a three-star camp offer type if he ends up getting offered at all. James is fast as hell and has offers from M, OSU, Alabama, Tennessee, UCLA, and others, but was pretty close with the previous Michigan staff:
    Jackson added that he might already be a Wolverine verbal if the former staff was still in Ann Arbor, "I got a really good vibe from the old coaching staff at Michigan. To tell you the truth, I probably would have committed there if they were still there. I have to get a better feel now for the new staff."
    You'd think part of his desire to commit to Michigan was the school and all it entails, but Ohio State fans are pretty confident. Apparently Bucknuts has picked up not one but two current OSU players/recruits (WTF is up with OSU and players interacting with recruiting sites?) who feed their free board with information. They usually keep it vague enough so that the recruits they predict commits from don't get baby's special day ruined, but they've been accurate in the past; they're legit.

    Anyway, both these guys have chimed in that they think Jackson ends up at OSU, as has Bill Kurelic. We'll see. Jackson is a small fast slot guy and might see a spot for him in Rodriguez's offense that only kinda-sorta exists at OSU. Looks like we have catching up to do, though.
  • As mentioned in the Newsome commit notification, the Rivals 250 came out without the presence of either Teric Jones or Fitzgerald Toussaint. This is not surprising with Jones; there's just not enough on-field production to go with yet. We'll see how he does as a senior. Toussaint, on the other hand, has a body of work to judge and it came up short. I've scaled back my expectations on him pending ESPN and Scout evaluations.
  • California five-star WR Shaquelle Evans now favors UCLA; longshot.
  • Recruiting seems to be going pretty well save two positions: offensive line, where Michigan needs quality and numbers even a year after taking six, and defensive end. There are no prospects at either position who seem to be favoring Michigan and have an offer. The state has a couple camp-offer sorts at OL who've expressed great fondness for the program and would probably be pickups if they prove worthy of an offer; there's no blue-chip guy out there. OL being difficult to project this isn't terribly worrisome, but it is a little unsettling. DE, on the other hand, is in full-on unease mode.