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Shepard Reaction

Of course, I made a very sad and/or angry post about Russell Shepard committing to LSU last night. A couple of commenters noted that this was an overreaction, which may or may not be true. My response, however, is that following recruiting in and of itself is an overreaction to following college football, is it not? Besides, for anyone who knows me, dropping the F-bomb 1,004 times and the S-word once is really no big deal. This is what Michigan is missing out on, in case you don't know.

Why I'm mad about (at?) Shepard
From the beginning of my following 2009 recruiting, it appeared as though Michigan was going to be in it for Shepard until the end. From the beginning, it appeared as though we were a close second, behind in-state favorite Texas. When Texas offered him only as a WR on his junior day visit, Michigan was presumed to be the leader. He said all the right things, including that he planned to camp at Michigan over the summer.
“I would say Texas is still up there, but Michigan is really at the top of my list, especially if they don’t get (2008 top recruit) Terrelle Pryor,” he said. “I feel like I could go there and play right away."
Then comes his LSU visit, after which the Tigers are considered the leader, and he promptly commits a week and a half later. Of course, Shepard seems to be a kid who has his head squarely on his shoulders, and everything he's said since the LSU commitment implies that the recruitment is definitely 100% over:
"Right now there is really no other place I want to visit," Shepard informed. "I know I haven't visited schools like Michigan or Florida, so this right here should tell them how I feel about LSU."
After promising to visit Michigan and other schools, we have no chance, and Shepard will head to LSU. This also means, in all likelihood, that Michigan will no longer have the opportunity to land Shepard's cousin, Craig Loston.

In the end, the reason that I'm mad about Russell Shepard's commitment to LSU is that he chose them without even giving Michigan a real chance, when it sounded all along like he would be fair to (if not was favoring) Michigan.

The Coach and Recruiting
Another reason I'm upset about Shepard's commitment is that he's the first prospect I really wanted since Rich Rodriguez has been the coach that has picked someone else. This applies only to recruits who we had a realistic shot at getting, and that Michigan had a chance to change once they had made their decision. This eliminates Nick Perry last year. While I would have loved to have him, I realized that once he made his decision, he immediately signed his letter of intent to attend USC, and his recruitment was over.

It's my subconscious hatred for losing, especially when I feel like I can win, that has me really upset. Will my anger help Rich Rodriguez sway Shepard? Definitely not, but conceding Shepard to LSU feels like giving up to me.

Additionally, though it is very early in the recruiting process, it seems like a lot of Michigan's targets are committing to other schools. Michigan will probably have a chance to snatch one or two back, but not all.

This brings us to my proposed:

Wizard Hat Ethics
Fans may say "well, Rodriguez stole Roy Roundtree from Purdue, and Michael Shaw from Penn State, so he can just steal Shepard from LSU." First things first, neither PSU nor Purdue is LSU, in terms of prestige, defending-champion-status, weather, etc. Also, there is a line at which I think the wizard hat and snake oil use should be limited.

If Michigan is in on a prospect, and that prospect commit elsewhere, his Michigan recruiter (or Rich Rodriguez himself) should give the recruit one last call. During this call, the recruit is asked whether there is any chance that his commitment could be changed, or if he is taking visits elsewhere. If he answers yes to either of these questions, he is not considered committed, and Michigan should continue recruiting him like usual.

However, if he says he is solidly committed, Michigan's coaches should tell the recruit that they enjoyed the experience of recruiting him, and to keep the Wolverines in the back of his mind in case anything changes. The high school coach should be informed that Michigan is requesting a call in case there is any wavering in the recruit. Then, Michigan should leave the recruit alone unless contact is made, or he publicly decommits from his school.

If a recruit decommits from a school and commits to another (especially if he claimed that the first commitment was solid), then that recruit should not be committed anywhere again until his Letter of Intent has been signed and sent in on signing day.

Another factor to take int account in this whole thing is whether coaches feel Michigan has been given a fair chance. This includes the prospect at least genuinely listening to recruiting pitches from his area or position recruiter, and the head coach. Another factor in this category is whether the recruit has been on campus, especially if he has previously stated that he would like to at least unofficially visit. Unless the recruit is as solidly committed as they come Michigan should continue recruiting until coaches believe they have been given a fair shot.

Of course, the degree to which coaches will pursue a committed recruit should hinge upon the level of the recruit. If Michigan only sort of wants a guy, and he commits to Indiana, they will probably just drop him. If the nation's #1 recruit has been flirting with Michigan for a while (even going so far as to unbutton his shirt a little bit and show Michigan his bra - or is that taking the metaphor too far?), and commits elsewhere without giving Michigan a fair shake, then by all means, he should be pursued.

Joe Tiller was obviously ridiculously naive when he claimed that Rich Rodriguez tricked Roy Roundtree into switching his commitment. The long story short is that Roundtree liked Michigan more, and if he was willing to switch, it was because he was not solidly committed to Purdue in the first place, and knew it wasn't the best place for him in the end. If Roundtree had reaffirmed his Purdue commitment even after being contacted by Michigan, I would hope, per my Wizard Hat Ethics, that RRod would have left him alone.

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“Shepard Reaction”

  1. Anonymous I love to hear myself type Says:

    I understand your frustration. You liked Shepard and wanted to see him come to UM. I have no issue with that. The bigger issue is that we are dealing with kids who say one thing and do another. After reading about Shephard and reading his own recruiting diary --which is a big warning sign for me when a recruit does this -- I just thought he is a guy who likes to hear himself talk like I like to hear myself type! His actions spoke louder than his words. He was just being cutesy with UM and that was it.

    My guy is Tate Forceir. I think it's a slim chance he comes to UM but I like him for his ability to run and pass.

    Besides, I was reminded that Shep's OLDER GF is at LSU. His little head seemed to have some influence on him! :P

  2. Blogger Charles Says:

    that video you showed didn't show him having a good arm. Clearly the guy can throw, but it looks like Darren McFadden could've rifled the ball better than Shepard.

  3. Blogger Tim Says:

    Throwing won't be secondary per se in the Rich Rod offense, but I'll take a guy who is a better runner than every other D1 QB than a guy who is a better passer than every D1 QB (assuming the other skill is serviceable for each, which Shepard's passing clearly is).

  4. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    As mentioned before, Shepard was not a great (or even very good) passer - completion percentages of 41% & 45% as a soph & junior don't lie. Also, doesn't his girlfriend go to LSU?

    My favorite prospect is Tate Forcier. I'd rather have a real passer who can run some than a great runner who can pass if needed. You can't spread the field vertically if you don't throw the ball downfield.