Monday, January 5, 2009

Recruiting 2009: Who's left? - Offense


So, Michigan finally got a recruiting drama to go its way. After Ronald Johnson in 2007 and Terrelle Pryor in 2008, we were finally on the good side of things, as William Campbell revealed he was joshing everybody and re-committed to Michigan. This is awesome for everyone: it's pokes a big hole in the Spartan propaganda that Rich Rodriguez is neglecting the in-state talent. After the fiasco-filled 2007 recruiting season where guys like RoJo, Barksdale, Allen and Colasanti split, and 2008 where Nick Perry slipped away, holding onto Campbell gives everybody a warm and fuzzy feeling about finally keeping the in-state star in-state. And perhaps most of all, it gives Michigan an enormous difference maker. The knock on Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and Terrance Taylor was conditioning; those guys were stars for Michigan. Watson and Taylor were All-Big Ten caliber. Branch was perhaps the biggest difference maker I've seen on the defensive side since Woodson. He freed up Woodley on the outside and Harris in the middle. But the thing about all of them was they were bulky space eaters and often a detriment because they weren't bulky with muscle; they were bulky with belly fat. With Barwis in charge of S&C now, Will Campbell isn't going to be scarfing down pizzas and cheeseburgers.

But I'm going off on a tangent. Point is, Campbell putting on the M hat is a recruiting victory. So now the question is, what happens with the rest of the class?

Since Shavodrick Beaver bailed for Tulsa, there's been a lot of hand-wringing over Tate Forcier being the only QB in the class. The feeling on the inside has been that the staff will not scramble to fill the void, and if any avenues they do pursue lead nowhere, they feel comfortable going ahead with just Forcier.

After QB, there are needs for another WR, one or two more OL, maybe another DE, a LB, and another CB.

So...lets look at what's out there, starting with offense.

Quarterback

Tajh Boyd
6'1, 208
Hampton (VA) Phoebus
Rivals: 4*, #3 dual-threat QB, #86 overall
Scout: 5*, #4 QB, #23 overall
ESPN: 81, #8 QB, #115 overall

Boyd's recruitment has been a weird one. He was offered by Michigan in the winter but committed to West Virginia in March. He decommitted in October, citing issues with the Mountaineers' offense. He then committed to Tennessee in early November, and then "decommitted" a month later. Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin basically told him to go away since Boyd isn't Kiffin's type of QB. Since then, Boyd has visited Oregon and Ohio State. He was initially expected to commit to one of those schools at the Army All-American Bowl, but decided to hold off. There is battling going on for his 5th and final official visit (he visited WVU in September and Tennessee in October). Boston College and Clemson are in the running, but if BC fires Jeff Jagodzinski like they're threatening to do, you have to figure Boyd won't consider them.

Boyd was the #1 guy people started calling for when Beaver bolted, but there was one problem: the consensus was that he was turned off by West Virginia because he views himself as more of a pocket passer and not a spread option quarterback. This seems to be contradicted by Oregon being close to landing him, since the Ducks are all about the spread and running their QB. And then Michigan kicker commit Brendan Gibbons told GoBlueWolverine this interesting tidbit:

Brendan Gibbons chats with Sam Webb about USAAB performance.


It would seem like as soon as the dead period ends this week, Michigan will call Boyd and make a large push for that final visit. So what's the deal here? Has Boyd loosened his restrictions on playing in a spread? From a biased perspective, it would seem like Boyd postponed committing to Oregon or OSU because as Gibbons says, he's interested in hearing from Michigan. From an unbiased one, it could just be a coincidence.

If the best possible scenario happens - Boyd hears from Michigan, reciprocates interest, visits, and commits - this would be wicked awesome. Not only would Michigan get the second QB they wanted, but it would be a prospect universally regarded as a better player than Beaver and Kevin Newsome. However, until more develops on this front, optimism should be restrained. Boyd was blown away by his visits to both OSU and Oregon. Even if Michigan gets in on him and gets that final visit, everything has to go perfectly to get into the driver's seat.

Denard Robinson
6'0, 179
Deerfield Beach (FL) Deerfield Beach
Rivals: 4*, #12 ATH, #179 OVR
Scout: 4*, #13 CB, #147 OVR
ESPN: 81, #18 ATH, #136 OVR

For the longest time, Robinson was on the back burner for Michigan. UM had either Beaver/Newsome or Beaver/Forcier at QB, and because they didn't need another, Robinson wasn't really interested and throughout the entire process, he was considered Florida's to lose.

After his official visit to Florida on December 12, there was no commitment, which left the door open. Couple that with Beaver's decommitment a few days later, and you have Michigan firmly in the picture, pushing Florida for Robinson and an official visit coming up on January 9th.

Robinson is an electric talent. He'd be Michigan's Pat White - he is dynamic on the run. Rivals lists him as the second fastest "athlete" in the entire class of 09, while Scout lists his 40 time at 4.38. The downside to him being Michigan's Pat White is that he is not a pure quarterback - his passing leaves quite a bit to be desired. While Tate Forcier is a definite QB who can run, Robinson is an athlete playing quarterback. While that is definitely beneficial in that he could become a very good cornerback, Michigan's chances at him hinge on giving him a legitimate shot at quarterback.

Unless something progresses on the Tajh Boyd front, Robinson is probably Michigan's last shot at getting a second quarterback in this class. There are a couple local QBs in the state, but they would be preferred walkons.

Wide Receiver

Je'Ron Stokes
6'1, 178
Philadelphia (PA) Northeast
Rivals: 4*, #13 WR, #67 OVR
Scout: 4*, #19 WR, #162 OVR
ESPN: 83, #8 WR, #56 OVR

With the possibility that Dewayne Peace ends up at corner and Cameron Gordon ends up at linebacker, the need for another wide receiver exists in this class, even with Ricardo Miller and Jeremy Jackson lined up for 2010. The #1 guy on the board (and no folks, Rueben Randle is not on the board. He's not coming here) is Je'Ron Stokes from Philadelphia. Stokes committed to Tennessee in April. When Phil Fulmer stepped down, he began to waver and was originally supposed to visit Michigan on December 5th. Once Lane Kiffin was hired, he seemed to re-solidify his commitment. But then Kiffin turned away Tajh Boyd, and when Stokes arrived in San Antonio for the Army bowl, he said he was "50-50" on his commitment to Tennessee, which might as well be a full decommitment. He has said he definitely plans to visit Michigan and Illinois, and is looking at Oklahoma, Florida and Georgia along with the Vols. As of now he is scheduled to visit Michigan this coming weekend, although it is not set in stone and could be pushed to the 16th.

Now, here's the part where I indulge in some completely random and dubious speculation. In one of the interviews he did with Rivals at the Army bowl, he discussed his plans to visit Michigan and his relationship with WR coach Tony Dews and he mentions "Tate". Now, I could just be grasping for straws, but when was the last time you heard a recruit mention another completely random recruit from a place 2500 miles away by his first name? We know Stokes has waivered on Tennessee because of the Boyd situation. Is it possible that he connected with Forcier a bit to learn more about Michigan?

If there is a prime candidate to perpetuate the "snake oil" concept this year, it seems like Stokes would be it.

Travante Stallworth
5'10, 180
Leesville (LA) Leesville
Rivals: 3*, NR
Scout: 3*, #121 WR
ESPN: 80, #21 ATH

Rivals does not list Stallworth as having a Michigan offer yet, but he is still scheduled to be visiting on the 9th. He is currently an Auburn commitment, but like basically everybody else in their class, he is looking around in wake of the coaching change. Gene Chizik is putting together a pretty good staff though, and if the rumors of Trooper Taylor joining that staff come to pass, you'd think Stallworth might stick with the Tigers. Taylor is loved by his players and has proven to be an excellent wide receivers coach at both Tennessee and Oklahoma State. He's also got his official visit to Auburn lined up for January 23rd.

Offensive Line

Marcus Hall
6'5, 290
Cleveland (OH) Glenville
Rivals: 4*, #8 OT, #75 OVR
Scout: 5*, #2 OT, #9 OVR
ESPN: 82, #11 OT, #78 OVR

This is just...annoying and amusing. Since basically July, Marcus Hall has dropped and added Michigan from his list of schools about five or six times. Entering Army bowl week, he was expected to commit to Ohio State, but during the week he nixed those plans and said he'll be taking four visits in January, starting with Michigan on January 9th.

This one ain't happenin', folks. I'd love to be wrong. I still have my doubts that this visit will even take place, but even if it does, the chances of Marcus Hall committing to Michigan are less than 10%. Yes, Rodriguez is working on rehabbing the relationship between Glenville coach Ted Ginn, Sr. and Michigan. The doors to Glenville are not sealed shut like they were in the latter years of the Carr era. Rodriguez and Ginn are on speaking terms, but that's not going to matter here. I'm not going to speculate as to what's happening behind the scenes. All I know is Hall is an Ohio kid playing for an Ohio coach, and he's going to Ohio State. If it were any other high school and any other coach in Ohio, I might take Hall's comments about being friends with Will Campbell as meaningful. In this case, I don't.

The day will come when Michigan lands a Glenville kid. But it's not gonna be this one.

Quinton Washington
6'3, 315
St. Stephen (SC) Timberland
Rivals: 4*, #16 OG
Scout: 3*, #19 OG
ESPN: 82, #7 OG, #79 OVR

Washington is another one of the perfect type of lineman Rodriguez is looking for for the spread offense. He's athletic and nimble on his feet. With Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield already in the class and Marcus Hall (lol) still on the board, offensive tackle doesn't seem to be a position of dire need. Washington is a guard though, so he's high on the board.

About a month or so ago, a poster on The Fort, Michigan's premium Rivals message board, posted info about Washington, saying he was close to the situation (friend of a cousin or something). He said that Washington and his dad were all but sold on Michigan, and that they were working on selling his mom. That coupled with the fact that Michigan has still been his only official visit seemed to bode well. Since then, everything has gotten quiet, and in a recruiting article from the Under Armour game a couple days ago, it was said that he is likely staying in state and going to South Carolina. Visits are scheduled to South Carolina on January 16th and Tennessee on January 23rd.

Travis Bond
6'7, 330
Windsor (NC) Bertie
Rivals: 3*, #27 OT
Scout: 3*, #33 OT
ESPN: 80, #18 OT

Bond visited Michigan for the Michigan State game in late October and did not return home complaining about the weather, so that's a plus. He is listed as a tackle by all the recruiting services, and he definitely has the height for it, but at 330 pounds, can he hold up against a speed rush off the edge?

He's visiting North Carolina on January 16th, and says he will decide right after that visit. It's been assumed for a while now that it will be a Michigan/UNC battle. The Tar Heels already have 26 commitments, and will go head to head with Michigan for both Bond and cornerback Mywan Jackson this month. It seems obvious they are willing to and plan to oversign. When you're going up against the home state team for a player who plans on deciding right after his visit to that home state team, you don't really get your hopes up.

Defense coming on Tuesday.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

What about Freeman from Trotwood - Any insight on him?