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Monday, May 05, 2008

Update 5/2: Moved TX QB Shavodrick Beaver to committed. Subsequently removed all QBs except for Tate Forcier and Eugene Smith, who are downgraded to red, and SC QB Stephen Gilmore, who was moved to safety.

Linked to video of FL RB Jamaal Berry, interview of MI WR Cameron Gordon, articles on MI WR Cameron Gordon, MS S Rod Woodson($, downgrade to red), OH OL Chris Freeman, VA RB David Wilson, TX QB commit Shavodrick Beaver, note on FL WR Steadman Bailey (downgrade to gray). old articles on NJ DE Anthony Lalota.

Added LA OL Chris Faulk, WI WR Kraig Appleton, FL S Vladimir Emilien. Linked to Sam Webb article on the QBs, and free Rivals AMP piece on them.

Removed SC S Stephen Gilmore (dropped us).

A couple old things on PA WR Todd Thomas: post-sophomore hype article, POW award with fluff article.

Editorial Opinion: First, the Bryce McNeal error. I think Vijay is right when he lays out what happened like so:

This news of a commitment was disputed by the "pay sites" (Scout and Rivals), and was generally categorized by most as "untrue", "premature" or "unofficial". Those three words mean three very different things, and I suspect the middle one is the most accurate. There's a variety of statuses (stati?) recruits fall into. There's commit (said so publicly), soft commit (said so publicly but seem to be wavering or at least listening to other schools), silent commit (told the coaches but isn't ready to go public) and "lean" (they have a favorite, but aren't ready to end the process). Even thought a commitment is not binding, there's some feeling that it is official, that a public announcement carries some weight. ...

The bottom line here is this; we have two sites each reporting that multiple people told them that McNeal has decided on Michigan. It could be that they are wrong, that it's an elaborate scheme to trick Michigan bloggers or that they independently made up the same story. All those explanations seem somewhat unlikely. What's far more likely is that McNeal likes Michigan a lot, reached some kind of tipping point and got chatty about it, and that these two blogs ran with a factually correct story that simply did not use the normal catchwords of the recruitnik. If those are the facts, McNeal is either a Michigan "lean" or (if he told the coaches what he told the friends) a "silent commitment".
(That post also contains an entertaining shot at loony NDNation blog "The Rock Report" if you're in withdrawal from that sort of stuff.) I think a post was warranted but it should have been phrased more cautiously. There's nothing to do except apologize and soldier on.

Soldiering on:

Not a lot of movement this week except for the McNeal stuff. Some players added to the board who seem ticketed elsewhere, some articles that don't provide much in the way of new information, and a couple guys that seemed like longshots get downgraded or dropped. What movement there is came from the wide receivers, notably:

MI WR James Jackson. An odd source of good news for the lightning slot guy: MSU Rivals guy Jim Comparoni. He called out five instate prospects the Spartans are keeping an eye on. One of them was Jackson, and he spake thusly:
Michigan is considered the favorite to land him, but MSU and Iowa are intensely pursuing one the fastest guys in the state.

Comp: "Early indications are that MSU's not the leader; he has major speed as a slot back. But we see him as a wide receiver."

There is also this from an emailer:
My good friend at Michigan is from Grand Ledge and [knows people close to his situation]. The kid told me that James asks all the time about Michigan and how my friend likes there, etc. She tells her son that James is very interested in Michigan and she’s pretty confident he’ll come to Michigan. This kid was high school teammates with James.
That was a month and a half ago; since then Jackson's given those OSU recruits the impression he was ticketed for OSU. I officially don't know what to think, other than it's OSU and Michigan with everyone else trailing significantly.

MN WR Bryce McNeal. Not officially committed, but sports blue for a reason.

PA WR Todd Thomas. Another week, another PSU message board thread with people bemoaning PSU's recruiting vis a vis Michigan. A weird mix of inside information and junk in there, but the upshot is that Thomas recently announced Michigan was his leader. This take seems accurate and encouraging:
He isn't going to Pitt. He said he wants to play in front of a big crowd, not in from of hundreds. PSU is running second behind Michigan. If the coaching situation were addressed, PSU would be leading.
Chances of that are extremely slim unless Thomas waits until after the season. I've bumped him to green.

I added OK WR Tracy Moore based on this article. Given all the other targets Michigan is pursuing I think he's unlikely to get his offer unless things go seriously awry, but I did want to point this out:

Michigan is a school that has just started to turn up the heat in Oklahoma under new head coach Rich Rodriguez. They have already offered David Oku and Gabe Lynn and have started to show interest in a number of other of the state’s top talents.

“Their linebacker coach came down one day and got with Coach Frid (Union Head Coach Kirk Fridrich) a little bit and got all of my information. I am just waiting to see how it plays out.

The linebacker coach is Jay Hopson, of course, and his name has come up more than any other in recruiting articles so far this year. Part of that is that we're poised to whiff on every D-I caliber prospect in Mississippi, but the guy gets out there. I wonder if we'll actually reel in any of the guys he's after.

In non-WR news, VA RB David Wilson is seeing his recruitment heat up:
“I got a message to call Florida today,” Newell [Wilson's coach] said. “I know Tennessee is in the mix. Ohio State’s coming Wednesday. Florida State’s in the mix. It’s going to get bigger before it gets smaller.”
Michigan's had an offer out to Wilson for a while. The last four big-time prospects at Wilson's high school all went to VaTech, but three were legacies and the other just wanted to hang with Michael Vick. At least publicly, Wilson remains open:
When asked if Tech is the team to beat for Wilson, Newell says, “I’m not going to say that.”

But, what if a sportswriter were to say Tech is the favorite for Wilson.

“He never has mentioned any one front-runner,” Newell said.

If you want to read between the lines like whoah, "I'm not going to say that" is not exactly the same as "no."

Michigan's continued pursuit of tailbacks despite having Teric Jones and Fitzgerald Toussaint committed probably means one or both is being looked at as a potential slot receiver. Jones' speed makes him the most likely candidate.

Another week, another skill-position filled set of updates. At this point it doesn't look like there will be much movement along the lines until Michigan's summer camp, when they'll identify a set of guys they like and send out a wave of offers; hopefully a couple will turn into quick commitments. One item of interest on Trotwood-Madison OL Chris Freeman:
The 6-foot-9 and 320-pound Freeman has made a dramatic rise up the recruiting charts. He did not play football until his junior year. Even then, after joining the team at the beginning of the season, Freeman did not actually play in a game until Madison's final contest of the 2007 season.

But recruiters saw enough in that one contest, coupled with Freeman's massive size and excellent potential, to make a pitch for his services.

Freeman says he has scholarship offers from Florida, LSU, Miami, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina State and some others.

Freeman has a dozen offers, including ones from the last two national champions, based on one game! Very Michael Oher, hopefully minus the almost complete lack of schooling.

Lastly, Kevin Newsome plans on enrolling early according to this free Rivals AMP piece on the Michigan quarterback commits. It's worth checking out; the Rivals guys have a different take on Beaver than his stats suggest, saying he's more of an athlete that will need significant polish than the thrower-with-legs I guessed he was. Beaver's actually ranked as a wide receiver by Scout, FWIW. Meanwhile, GBW continues writing articles about Tate Forcier, which, like... okay. That would be weird. But good.