Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Battle of Michigan: 2011 and 2012

Part 4 and a continuation from the summer. Part 1: The Numbers. Part 2: The War of Perception. Part 3: The PSL.

In the almost six months since I finished Part 3 of the "Battle of Michigan" series, highlighting the ongoing battle between Michigan and Michigan State for the state's top high school prospects, much has changed. Both schools were burned by the loss of high level prospects previously thought to be near locks, and of course Michigan went through the change from Rich Rodriguez to Brady Hoke, a transition that is still causing ripples.

In Part 1, published on July 28th of last year, the 2011 instate battle looked as such:

And now we arrive at the present. Both coaches are coming off underwhelming, disappointing 2009 seasons on the field, and one of the two has some warmth under his seat. But at the same time, both are also becoming more entrenched in the state and building relationships with the coaches within the mitten.

Both UM and MSU have, at this moment, offered the following prospects this cycle:

1. LB Lawrence Thomas, Detroit Renaissance (Michigan State)
2. WR DeAnthony Arnett, Saginaw
3. OL/DE Anthony Zettel, West Branch Ogemaw Heights
4. CB Valdez Showers, Madison Heights Madison
5. DE/LB Brennen Beyer, Canton Plymouth (Michigan)
6. RB Justice Hayes, Grand Blanc
7. OL Jake Fisher, Traverse City West (Michigan)
8. LB Ed Davis, Detroit Southeastern

Eight offers apiece at the end of July is abnormally high, indicating a deep year in-state. The early scoreboard reads Michigan 2, Michigan State 1, and it will of course be much different as time passes. If I had to guess today, I'd say Arnett goes out of state, Zettel goes to Michigan, Showers goes out of state, Hayes goes to Notre Dame, and Davis goes to MSU. Those are 100% guesses though, no inside info.

Furthermore, Michigan offered these kids, but MSU didn't:

1. CB Delonte Hollowell, Detroit Cass Tech (Michigan)
2. WR Shawn Conway, Birmingham Seaholm (Michigan)

Until the class is wrapped up and everyone is signed, this number is purely cosmetic, but at the moment, Michigan's 2011 in-state recruiting is at 40% (4 for 10).

On the other side, here are MSU's offers this year with no UM offer:

1. RB Onaje Miller, Lansing Sexton (Michigan State)
2. WR Jake Duzey, Troy Athens (Iowa)
3. LB/S Taiwan Jones, New Baltimore Anchor Bay (Michigan State)

Again, it's early, but MSU's percentage this year is 27.3% (3 for 11). This number in particular will most likely change wildly if history is any indicator, as MSU will probably extend several more in-state offers before the class is finished.

Since then, Michigan landed Justice Hayes, MSU landed Ed Davis, and both schools lost Anthony Zettel, DeAnthony Arnett, Valdez Showers, and Jake Fisher.

Here is the revised list of prospects that both UM and MSU offered in the 2011 recruiting cycle:
  1. DE/LB Lawrence Thomas, Detroit Renaissance (Michigan State)
  2. WR DeAnthony Arnett, Saginaw (Tennessee)
  3. OG/DE Anthony Zettel, West Branch Ogemaw Heights (Penn State)
  4. DE Brennen Beyer, Plymouth Canton (Michigan)
  5. CB Valdez Showers, Madison Heights Madison (Florida)
  6. RB Justice Hayes, Grand Blanc (Michigan)
  7. OT Jake Fisher, Traverse City West (Oregon)
  8. LB Ed Davis, Detroit Southeastern (Michigan State)
In a bizarre twist, neither school offered the same instate prospect after the summer. These are the same eight players from July. The final head-to-head scoreboard for 2011 reads MSU 2, Michigan 2, with four going out of state. Zettel and Arnett were particularly damaging to UM and MSU, respectively. Zettel was a heavy lean to Michigan throughout the entire process, but had whispers in his ear that dissuaded any sort of early commitment, and when it became clear that Rich Rodriguez was a dead man walking, those whispers finally swayed him, and he committed to Penn State. Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison made a late charge, but Zettel stuck with his commitment to PSU. Arnett, on the other hand, favored MSU throughout most of the process, and as it turns out, MSU's coaches treated him as such, and ultimately dropped the ball. They took him for granted, and he slipped right through their fingers. After that, the numbers are a wash compared to the summer; Fisher dropped UM for Oregon, and Hayes was turned from Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, these are the final numbers for Michigan on 2011 instate; kids that UM offered but MSU did not. Shawn Conway is omitted because he is a non-qualifier.
  1. CB Delonte Hollowell, Detroit Cass Tech (Michigan)
  2. LB Desmond Morgan, Holland West Ottawa (Michigan)
  3. CB Raymon Taylor, Highland Park (Michigan)
  4. RB Thomas Rawls, Flint Northern (Michigan)
These numbers combined with the ones above give Michigan a final 2011 instate recruiting percentage of 50% (6 of 12).

Conversely, here are MSU's signees instate who were not offered by Michigan:
  1. RB Onaje Miller, Lansing Sexton (Michigan State)
  2. TE Jake Duzey, Troy Athens (Iowa)
  3. LB Taiwan Jones, New Baltimore Anchor Bay (Michigan State)
  4. DE Damon Knox, Muskegon (Michigan State)
That puts MSU's final tally for 2011 at 41.7% (5 of 12). Michigan's percentage bumped up from 40% in July to 50% in the end, while MSU's percentage went up from 27.3 to 41.7.

The final tally during Rich Rodriguez's ill-fated tenure in Ann Arbor, straight up, head to head with Mark Dantonio: Michigan 11, Michigan State 10. The 11 for Michigan:
  1. Boubacar Cissoko
  2. Mike Martin
  3. Kenny Demens
  4. Rocko Khoury
  5. William Campbell
  6. Cameron Gordon
  7. Thomas Gordon
  8. Devin Gardner
  9. Austin White
  10. Brennen Beyer
  11. Justice Hayes
And the 10 for MSU:
  1. Fred Smith
  2. Tyler Hoover
  3. Edwin Baker
  4. Chris Norman
  5. Larry Caper
  6. Dion Sims
  7. William Gholston
  8. Mylan Hicks
  9. Lawrence Thomas
  10. Ed Davis
Factoring in the complete 2011 class now, in the last four classes, Michigan offered 40 prospects in the state of Michigan, landing 18 of the 40 (45%). Over the same time period, MSU offered 74 and landed 39 (52.7%).

So...that book is now closed. The "outsider" Rodriguez is gone, and the perception that he neglected the state of Michigan during his time here will live on in the minds of the people who want it to live on. Unfortunately, as is often the case, perception is often reality, facts be damned.

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So now...here we sit, in early February 2011. Both UM and MSU have closed the door on the 2011 class and are in the process of diving head first into the 2012 class, especially in Michigan, where the overall talent level is probably the highest it's been since the loaded 2007 class. The last couple days in particular have seen a frenzy of offers going out instate from both sides, as Dantonio continues his mandate of making the state of Michigan #1 and Brady Hoke works to rebuild what Rich Rodriguez allegedly tore down.

Neither team has any commitments yet, but the list of prospects both schools have offered and are pursuing is impressive:
  1. LB James Ross, Orchard Lake St. Mary's
  2. WR Aaron Burbridge, Farmington Hills Harrison
  3. LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, Detroit Cass Tech
  4. CB Terry Richardson, Detroit Cass Tech
  5. DE Mario Ojemudia, Farmington Hills Harrison
In addition, Michigan has offered these prospects, but not MSU...:
  1. DT Dan O'Brien, Flint Powers
  2. TE Devin Funchess, Farmington Hills Harrison
  3. WR/TE Ron Thompson, Eastpointe East Detroit
...while MSU - but not UM - has offered the following:
  1. WR Dennis Norfleet, Detroit Martin Luther King
  2. OL Kelby Latta, Battle Creek Harper Creek
  3. DL Matt Godin, Novi Detroit Catholic Central
  4. DT Jabari Dean, Detroit Renaissance
  5. S Riley Bullough, Traverse City St. Francis
10 offers from MSU and 8 from UM - 13 prospects total - is a very, very large number so early in the process. It's a sure bet that both schools were certainly offer at least some of the kids the other side already has. And that's not even factoring in kids that neither have offered yet but are still evaluating and waiting to see in camp during the spring and summer.

It will be a very competitive year instate once again, and the battle lines are already being drawn. The general consensus among the "experts" and fans is that the top three are (in any order, really) Ross, O'Brien, and Burbridge. Cass Tech remains very friendly to Michigan, giving UM an inside edge on Jenkins-Stone and Richardson - and by extension James Ross at OLSM, who is close with the CT duo. Farmington Hills Harrison is still Spartan territory, and MSU has to be considered the favorite for Burbridge and Ojemudia (and Funchess if/when they offer). Bullough is quite obviously an MSU lock with his brother there and all the other connections, while Thompson grew up a big Michigan fan. O'Brien also grew up in a UM family and looks up to Mike Martin, but Michigan has some bridges to repair in the wake of the coaching change.

It's too early to make any sort of reasonable predictions about where these kids end up, how the numbers shake out, who wins the battle in 2012, but one thing is certain: the war of perception is over. Brady Hoke has already gotten back into the good graces of many high school coaches in the state of Michigan who were turned off or felt disrespected by Rich Rodriguez. You can argue the fairness of that until you're blue (or green) in the face, but the fact is, the outsider perception is that a "Michigan Man" is back in charge of Michigan, and the prestige and respect that that moniker entails is going to pay dividends, sooner or later.

2 comments:

Tim said...

I sincerely doubt Godin and Dean go without Michigan offers given Hoke's "new" focus on the midwest. TOB thanks for this series. May it RIP. Here's to actually getting a good look from Dean. Is there any hope?

James said...

Yea! Good to see your blogging return.

I think we can be reasonably satisfied with out recruiting performance in 2011, given what we've gone through. MSU fans have to be disappointing in their recruiting class. They didn't seem to capitalize on their strong season or their in-state rival's coaching change.