Hooooo boy a lot has happened since the last time I posted on here…November 18th seems like a lifetime ago. You would think that with all the time that I spend on a bus that I would have more time to read and write but alas, you would be wrong. Also, not surprisingly, when you work all day and are on a computer for most of it, you’re not in a gigantic hurry to get back home and start writing or staring at a computer screen. This is actually the first time I’ve turned on my laptop in a week. I’m going to try to be better about posting and to keep the same 10-12 things that I post about year-round in the future and will start the rotation soon with the Lions pre-draft plan and the Combine posts. The Senior Bowl posts will be on the chopping block
and I’ll go back to doing a Signing Day post for Michigan in the future, simply too much has been happening to just do a Signing Day post, especially two weeks after the fact. (JK, I did the Signing Day post, it’s at the bottom)
Harbaugh Year One
It’s almost not necessary to say that Jim Harbaugh exceeded expectations in year one. I had originally said that 9-4, 10-3 would call for an outstanding year and the 10 win plateau was reached. It seemed like that Michigan may not get there after Jake Rudock’s performance in the Utah game, but his development over the course of the season was absolutely incredible. He progressed on the fly unlike any quarterback I’ve ever seen before. I’m very excited for the future, but I will temper my expectations going into next year. After all, it’ll be time for a new quarterback again.
Warde Manuel Hired
If you follow me on twitter, which you all should, you’ll know that Warde Manuel was my first choice for Michigan’s permanent AD spot.
Might as well pump my own tires, right?
I have heard a rumor that Jeff Long was offered the AD position before Manuel and that Long’s wife did not want to move and so Long turned it down. He was also going to need a contract in the $3.5 million range and Manuel is on board for a 5-year deal that pays him around $800,000 a year. Big win for the budget there.
Warde Manuel managed a solid budget at UConn (and increased their operating budget), replaced Jim Calhoun with Kevin Ollie (Ollie won a National Championship) and did not let Dave Brandon strong-arm him into moving the Michigan-UConn game to Gillette Stadium. He’s also the first athletic director to be hired with Athletic Department experience since Bo Schembechler…which was six athletic directors ago.
I’m sure Harbaugh had something to say about the AD hire…after all, he played with Manuel. As far as I’m concerned it’s a good hire. Harbaugh runs everything football related and all Manuel will have to do is monitor the other sports and make sure not to plan anything that will upset the natives. As a younger guy, he’ll likely be here for a while and can probably relate to the students better. Michigan will be better off for hiring him.
Harbaugh Spring Practice IMG/SEC Civil War
You HAVE to love how often Harbaugh toes the line. He is an absolute evil genius when it comes to knowing all the ins and outs of the rule book and finding every loophole he can. Take your team on a one-week spring break trip to practice at IMG, which is LOADED for the 2017 Class. Sure you cannot really talk to them or recruit them, but they can watch your practices and see how you run things. On top of that, your players get a nice spring break trip out of it. The SEC and their commissioner Greg Sankey instantly whined about this and it is absolutely LAUGHABLE that they are doing so. On top of all of it, to pretend that they care about student athletes having a one-week spring break and are trying to act like it is not about recruiting is embarrassing. Fall Camp happens during summer break, Bowl Practices happen over winter break, Spring Practices on campus sometimes start during spring break…and this is not including the SPRING SPORTS that have their seasons going on over spring break. Guess the SEC wants to cancel all of their baseball, softball, track, tennis games/matches/meets that are over spring break then, right?
It’s okay though, I fully expect the whining to result in this loophole being closed sooner rather than later.
National Signing Day Recap
The whole year I was not really paying attention to which players Harbaugh was getting commitments from. Well…that’s not technically true. I was just not paying attention to their star ratings and Michigan ended up with its first consensus Top 6 class in forever…coincidence? I think not. Frankly, from what I had seen with less than a year on the job, and what he had done with the current roster, I was cool with accepting a commitment from any player that Harbaugh saw worthy of a scholarship…and I still am. But man oh man was it sweet to get Rashan Gary in this class. To be the first team north of the Mason Dixon line to get a commitment from the number one overall player since OSU got Terrelle Pryor in 2008 is massive. It’s a huge sign of things to come and getting Dylan McCaffrey for 2017 this week just further proves that.
But this is not about 2017, this is about 2016. I did not know how Michigan was going to find room for all of these guys, and there was some expected attrition, but by my count, Michigan is still 4 scholarships over the 85 man limit. I know they’re going to back log some, but there has to be at least 2 more guys on their way out. I’m expecting Jaron Dukes and Damario Jones to join the current crop of players that have left (none of which has been a surprise). That being said, they found a way to sign
29 28 guys (Dytarious Johnson is not signed) and now they have to make room for them. I have ZERO issue with Harbaugh pulling scholarships on players either, it happens all the time. I would prefer that they happen sooner in the year and not so close to Signing Day, because that is a huge dick move. But, recruiting is the wild west, it’s not a perfect system and Harbaugh is being paid to compete with the SEC. It’s not going to be all sunshine and daisies under his guidance. If players are not holding up to their end of the bargain regarding play, grades and what not, then so be it. It’s not like players do not de-commit from schools on Signing Day and leave them in a lurch. It’s not like Harbaugh is keeping his recruiting policies a secret either.
Now, let’s talk about the class. I tried to write about only a few of the key pieces, but I’m weird and cannot just ignore half the class and not mention them. The National reach of this class is quite impressive and says a lot about the Michigan staff and their recruiting ability.
Brandon Peters: Peters fits the mold of a Jim Harbaugh QB to a T. He’s an impressive athlete and has some very good size. On top of that, he’s got a quick release and a live-wire arm. He does not hold onto the ball too long and can make some big time plays. He will redshirt next year, but he’s going to be a good player.
Kareem Walker: Walker was an absolutely massive pick up for this class, especially taking him from Ohio State. Walker has ideal size for a running back and while he’s not going to blow any one’s doors off, he may run through them though. He’s strong and decisive as a runner. He can use some time to improve as a pass blocker, but I have yet to see a young RB be amazing in pass protection. In my opinion, Walker enrolling early almost guarantees that he won’t redshirt. Michigan needs as much help as they can get in the running game and Walker is going to be stud.
Ahmir Mitchell: With Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh set to leave after this season, it was important for Michigan to get some big time wide receivers into the fold and they did just that with this class. For my money, Mitchell is the best one of the bunch. While he does not have elite route-running skills, he has ideal size and catching ability for the position, especially with his speed. Now he could end up on the other side of the ball…but that would be a bit of a surprise.
Kingston Davis: Physically, he’s an absolute monster. He’s going to be a powerful and tough runner (that could end up at fullback) and will be the type of guy that does not go down on first contact. I would expect him to redshirt and I’m going to be curious to see how he develops as a runner.
Sean McKeon: McKeon is a little light right now for a tight end, but with such a log jam in front of him, I would expect him to redshirt. He does have to work on his blocking, but he’s got all the tools as a receiver to be an efficient pass catching tight end. Add a little strength/weight in the weight room and McKeon could be a monster.
Ben Bredeson: Quietly became one of the most important players in the class after Devery Hamilton flipped to Stanford and Michigan whiffed on a few other offensive line targets. He’s listed as an offensive tackle everywhere, but could very well end up at guard. He was widely regarded as one of the best offensive lineman in the country even though he can work on adding some strength and his pass protection. He has good athleticism and a bit of a mean streak, which Harbaugh obviously loves. Definitely expect Bredeson to redshirt.
Devin Asiasi: I had hoped to get Asiasi and Boss Tagaloa as a signing day pair/surprise but getting Asiasi was huge in its own right. Asiasi was the third tight end to commit to this class and he was the best of the bunch. He has an ideal frame for a tight end and does a good job of creating separation to complete the catch. He’s very coordinated for a guy his size and could develop into an elite tight end prospect like Jake Butt has.
Michael Onwenu: Another major piece to the puzzle for this class. Onwenu is an elite guard prospect and you simply cannot teach a man his size to move the way he does. The best way to characterize him is that he is a dancing bear. He’s a powerful player that hits hard at the point of contact and is going to be a very difficult player to play against in the future.
Dylan Crawford: Another one of the wide receivers in this class that is going to have a big impact down the road. He has elite ability to get down the field and is extremely shifty in the open field. He was a key pick up out of California that fills a major need and shows Harbaugh’s recruiting prowess. He will be a playmaker in college with his speed.
Brad Hawkins: Brad Hawkins is best known as a physical specimen. He’s not a blazer but he has some suddenness to his game that can create separation. He also showed that he is willing to make the tough catches in traffic and can take a hit. Definitely going to redshirt, but a very nice pick up for down the road.
Chris Evans: I’m still not totally sure where Evans is going to play, but I’m confident he has the best hair style of anyone in the class. Evans could either be a running back or a slot receiver and the Michigan graphic lists him as an athlete for a reason. He has fantastic hands and quickness, and his only real downside would be his size. That being said, slot WR/return specialist seem like a good spot for the track star.
Nick Eubanks: 24/7 Sports says that Eubanks has the most upside of anyone in the class and I’m inclined to agree with them. 6’6″ 230 lbs is awfully light for that height but he is a freak athlete. He’s not going to be an amazing blocker, but his speed and catching ability for his size make him a major problem to cover. If I had to guess, I would bet he gets lined up all over the field to create mis-matches in the future.
Eddie McDoom: A quick-twitch slot wide receiver with the last name McDoom? Perfect. A shoo-in for the All Name Team, McDoom is a slippery athlete. He’s a solid pass catcher and can run all of the routes that you will need him to run. He’s not a burner (according to the recruiting sites) but you do not need your slot receiver to be. You just need him to get open and McDoom does that well.
Nate Johnson: There was some concern that Johnson was going to flip to Notre Dame, but he ended up staying Blue. Johnson is another slot receiver and he has elite skills after the catch. His speed and route running ability are two major assets that help him get open. It’ll be curious to see if those two continue to be assets at the collegiate level.
Quinn Nordin: #1 kicker in the country…from Michigan…good pick up. Not sure what this means for Andrew David, but competition is always a good thing.
Stephen Spanellis: Spanellis is another big, aggressive interior offensive lineman that has very good power and strength. He can improve in his pass protection ability, but that will come with time and a guaranteed redshirt.
|Devin Bush Jr||LB||FL||4||3||4||4|
Rashan Gary: Gary is going to be a stud and he is going to be in the defensive line rotation from Day One. There is a zero percent chance that he does not come in and contribute. He is an absolutely massive human being and moves like a skill position player. He has rare size and explosiveness and is the definition of a freak athlete. He’s the consensus #1 player in the country for a reason and there is not much for me to say that you do not already know.
Carlo Kemp: Has very good athleticism and can play multiple positions on the defense. He’s played strong side defensive end and the weakside. His pass rush ability makes me think that he will end up playing the WDE spot in the Michigan defense, but with Harbaugh anything goes. You can never have too many pass rushers and 6’3″ 250 lbs sounds like the ideal size for one.
Devin Bush Jr: Bush was an absolutely massive pick up for this team. To snag the Florida State legacy from them and bring him to Ann Arbor was crucial. He fills a major need and will play a lot next year and right away. He has very good instincts, even though his pass coverage can use some work. He’s an explosive run stopper that will fit right in at ILB.
David Long: Another massive pick up, no I’m not running out of superlatives, these players were just very important to Michigan’s class. To get Long from California at a position of need is going to be big in the long run. He’s a very good athlete with good change of direction and anticipation. He could use some improvement in his awareness, but that’s to be expected out of most young corners.
Lavert Hill: I was convinced that Hill was going to end up at Michigan State, so to bring in Delano’s little brother was a very nice Signing Day gift. He’s a smaller corner, one of the few times that Harbaugh did not focus on length for a prospect and went for talent, but he’ll remind you of Jourdan Lewis. His coverage ability and instincts are elite and he will develop into a shutdown corner.
Ron Johnson: Ron Johnson is going to project to weakside defensive end at the collegiate level. He’s very athletic with a motor that does not stop and has good pass rushing skills. He’s not a big guy, or the strongest, but that strength will improve over time.
Khaleke Hudson: Hudson looks to be a strong safety at first glance and I would expect him to stay there based on what the recruiting sites say. He’s not a huge safety, but he has good burst and can play in man-to-man coverage. He’s a solid tackler and plays down hill very well and almost seems to be more of a nickel CB to me, but what do I know?
Elysee Mbem-Bosse: Mbem-Bosse is one of the guys that I know the least about. He has the prototypical size for ILB and definitely has the athleticism to play the position. It seems that he needs to improve his man-to-man coverage, but again, that will come with time.
Josh Uche: Uche is very, very raw. I’ve seen him listed as an ILB, WDE, OLB, but my guess is that he’s going to end up being a pass rusher. Based on what I’ve watched, he is excellent at rushing off the edge and he bends around the corner very naturally. He will terrorize quarterbacks at the next level once he gets some more coaching. After all, he did not play a full year of high school football until his Junior year.
Josh Metellus: Metellus is another guy that I do not know much about. I know he’s a teammate of Gil and Bush and that he’ll probably be a free safety. He appears to be very athletic and I’m very curious to see how he pans out.
Michael Dwumfour: Many people will say that Dwumfour was only brought in to help entice Rashan Gary. I personally do not believe that to be the reason. I think Dwumfour was brought in to replace Jordan Elliott (who was this year’s Chris Clark). Dwumfour may not have elite size (height) for a nose tackle, but he’s strong at the point of attack and has good body control. If he can become more polished in his technique, he will contribute down the line.
Devil Gil: The final prospect to discuss (since Dytarious Johnson did not end up signing) and he’s an interesting one. He has ideal size for a safety but not the cover ability. To me this means he’ll probably get moved to ILB. He does not have elite change of direction skills, but he can shed blocks and tackle. He’ll redshirt and the coaching staff will find a spot for him.
I would love to be able to tell you how many guys are going to redshirt and how many will not, but all I have are guesses based on almost zero evidence. I would have bet the house that Karan Higdon would have redshirted last year and he did not. What I can say is that Kareem Walker, Ahmir Mitchell, Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, Carlo Kemp, David Long and Lavert Hill will likely all play this year. Long and Hill will probably play just because Michigan will lose 3 cornerbacks next year and you will want to get some young guys some game time during the regular season. Bush and Kemp will play out of necessity/skill level and Gary will play because he’s too good not too. Walker will play with the lack of depth at running back and Mitchell is just a guess based on the fact he’s an early enrollee.
Seriously though, how great is it that Michigan ended up with a consensus Top 6 recruiting class across all of the recruiting sites? I cannot ever remember something like that happening.
And if you have a problem with the Signing of the Stars event then you need to get over yourself. It was a fun event for the kids, it raised money for Chad Carr’s foundation and it has never been done before. A very cool event that had a melting pot of celebrities and it actually worked well. I would recommend watching it if you have not already.
Thanks again to the tens of people that read this blog.