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Varsity Blue

Visit the new Varsity Blue at http://www.umvarsityblue.com!

About a Board

Monday, June 30, 2008 by Paul

The new Recruiting Board is up, so I thought I should go over some of the new features.

When Tim and I were discussing what would be ideal, we started thinking something that was basically a message board with each prospect getting his own thread. The only problem there was formatting the information and making it look nice and convey the information quickly. And then there are the issues of maintenance and moderation inherent in message boards.

It seemed like a hybrid would be the best solution, so now you can comment on each and everyone of the recruits individually. Any info or articles, rumors you've heard, an opinion/gut feeling you have, anything that could give a more rounded picture of the prospect can be posted there. You have to register, but that is really quick and no personal information is required (the registration link is at the bottom of the board as well as under the comments section- Tim). This helps prevents spambots from doing what they do and gives troll another hurdle.

I hope everyone will contribute so we can have a super complete, informative source for the 2009 class.

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Recruiting Update 6-30-08

by Tim

Today's update will be a little behind because a bunch of stuff came out in the last 24 hours, and I'm still getting accustomed to the new board, and I don't want to leave you, the loyal reader, waiting. That stuff will either wait until friday, or find its way into a third recruiting update for this week.

Added:
Ain't nobody.

New Information:
MS WR/S Dennis Thames. Discusses possibly being a package deal with teammate Clayton Moore. More has committed to Ole Miss in the time since this article.
FL RB Vincent Smith. Fluff.
MA OL Brennan Williams. Top 6 of Mich, Duke, BC, Maryland, UVa, Wake.
FL TE Orson Charles. Midwest tour doesn't include Michigan.

Removed:
GE TE Jim Teknipp. Committed to UCF.
MI RB Malek Redd. Committed to Central Michigan.
PA DE Jack Lippert. Pitt commit.

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MDen Discounts Nike Gear

Sunday, June 29, 2008 by Tim

For those of you who are big fans of the Nike apparel that will no longer be donned by the Michigan Wolverines, your last chance to purchase officially-licensed merchandise from the MDen website is here:

Michigan fans - This is your last chance to buy Nike products on the MDen site. Adidas products will begin arriving in late July, so we have made final reductions on all our Nike clothing.

Screened replica jerseys 18.88.
Tackle twill replica jerseys 28.88
Authentic jerseys 48.88.

The official online retailer of the University of Michigan Athletic Department thanks you for your support of Michigan Athletics.
Visit the MDen site at MDen.com.

Labels:

Varsity Blue Podcast Episode 3

by Tim


UPDATE: I just update the podcast feed, so if you subscribe, you might have to tell your software to check the feed again. In the future I'll try to get it updated over the weekend. Also, I resubmitted it to iTunes, apparently it rejected it last time. If you want to manually add the podcast feed to your iTunes copy this:
http://www.panel-creations.com/varsity_blue/podcast/vblue_podcast.xml
Select Advanced>Subscribe to Podcast and paste the URL. It should then automatically update each week.

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2007-08 Director's Cup Final Standings

Saturday, June 28, 2008 by Tim

Michigan comes in third. They had been in second before the tabulation of spring sports, but UCLA was able to pass on the strength of their spring programs.

SchoolPoints
1. Stanford1461.0
2. UCLA1182.0
3. MICHIGAN1161.0
4. Arizona State 1146.0
5. Texas1129.5

This is a fairly standard finish for Michigan, despite relatively poor years in the two biggest sports, football and basketball.

In case you're scratching your head going "Stanford?!," just know that they always win. Always.

Labels:

Big Ten 2009 Recruiting Class Rankings 6-28-08

by Tim

(Tons of) Action since last rankings:
6-21-08 Illinois gains commitment from Greg Fuller.
6-22-08 Ohio State gains commitments from Carlos Hyde and Justin Green. Wisconsin gains commitment from Montee Ball. Northwestern gains commitment from Anthony Battle.
6-23-08 Ohio State gains commitments from Bradley McDougald and Corey Brown. Illinois gains commitment from Joelil Thrash. Northwestern gains commitment from Drew Moulton.
6-24-08 Michigan gains commitment from Jordan Barnes. Michigan gains commitment from DeWayne Peace. Ohio State gains commitment from Jonathan Newsome. Wisconsin gains commitment from Chris Borland.
6-25-08 Michigan State gains commitment from Micajah Reynolds. Wisconsin gains commitment from Brian Wozniak.
6-26-08 Indiana gains commitment from Nick Zachery. Wisconsin gains commitment from Travis Frederick.

New Rankings:
#1 Ohio State - 23 commits
DT
*****
Johnny Simon
LB
*****
Dorian Bell
DE
*****
Melvin Fellows
CB
****
CJ Barnett
WR
****
James Jackson
MLB
****
Storm Klein
MLB
****
Jordan Whiting
RB
****
Jordan Hall
OG
****
Corey Linsley
OT
****
Jack Mewhort
S
****
Jamie Wood
WR
****
Duron Carter
WR
****
Justin Green
RB
****
Carlos Hyde
CB
****
Corey Brown
S
***
Bradley McDougald
DE
***
Jonathan Newsome
TE
***
Reid Fragel
DT
***
Adam Bellamy
WR
***
Chris Fields
FB
***
Adam Homan
LB
***
Zach Boren
CB
***
Dominic Clarke
Huge week for the Bucks with tons of commits. Their remaining slots are probably reserved for specific guys they know they'll get (i.e. Marcus Hall).

#2 Michigan - 12 commits
DT
*****
William Campbell
QB
*****
Kevin Newsome
CB
****
Justin Turner
QB
****
Shavodrick Beaver
WR
****
Bryce McNeal
RB
****
Teric Jones
RB
***
Fitzgerald Toussaint
WR
***
DeWayne Peace
OL
***
Michael Schofield
S
***
Isaiah Bell
LB
***
Jordan Barnes
WR
***
Jeremy Gallon
A pair of three-stars in Jordan Barnes and DeWayne Peace for Michigan.

#3 Penn State - 12 commits
OT
*****
Eric Shrive
CB
****
Darrell Givens
DE
****
Sean Stanley
OT
***
Mark Arcidiacono
S
***
Stephen Obeng-Agyapong
S
***
Malcolm Willis
S
***
Derrick Thomas
QB
***
Curtis Drake
C
***
Ty Howle
CB
***
Stephon Morris
WR
***
Brandon Felder
OG
*
Frank Figueroa
Curtis Drake is being brought in as a QB unless the Nittany Lions get a top-notch signal caller in this class (in which case he will likely be a WR). Penn State has a quantity-over-quality class right now.

#4 Notre Dame - 9 commits
RB
*****
Cierre Wood
MLB
****
Carlo Calabrese
RB
****
Theo Riddick
DT
****
Tyler Stockton
OL
***
Alex Bullard
TE
***
Jake Golic
LB
***
Dan Fox
P
*
Ben Turk
K
*
Nicholas Tausch
Nothing new for Notre Dame. Is Charlie's gravity losing its pull?

#5 Michigan State - 9 commits
RB
****
Edwin Baker
RB
****
Larry Caper
SLB
****
Chris Norman
WR
***
Donald Spencer
DT
***
Blake Treadwell
QB
***
Andrew Maxwell
WR
***
Patrick White
WR
***
Dana Dixon
OL
*
Micajah Reynolds
Micajah Reynolds commits.

#7 Wisconsin - 9 commits
DT
****
Jared Kohout
OG
***
Ryan Groy
DE
***
Shelby Harris
QB
***
Jon Budmayr
OT
***
Zac Matthias
RB
***
Montee Ball
TE
***
Brian Wozniak
MLB
*
Chris Borland
OL
*
Travis Frederick
Montee Ball, Brian Wozniak, and Travis Frederick commit to the Badgers.

#6 Minnesota - 6 commits
QB
****
Moses Alipate
RB
***
Hasan Lipscomb
C
***
Ed Olsen
OT
***
Josh Campion
WR
*
Victor Keise
DE
*
Nick Rengel
Keise will probably end up a low 3-star/high 2-star. Same with Rengel.

#8 Illinois - 4 commits
DT
****
Lendell Buckner
OT
****
Leon Hill
CB
*
Joelil Thrash
FB
*
Greg Fuller
The Illini pick up two unrated commits.

#10 Northwestern - 4 commits
QB
***
Evan Watkins
RB
*
Mike Trumpy
DE
*
Anthony Battle
WR
*
Drew Moulton
Two unrated commits for Northwestern.

#9 Iowa - 2 commits
OT
***
David Barrent
FB
*
Brad Rogers
Ferentz's glory days in recruiting seem to be over. Barrent drops to 3 stars in Scout update.

#11 Purdue - 1 commit
S
*
Ismael Aristide
Not sure where Aristide will be ranked, but it has to be a more important commit than a long-snapper. He was on the verge of becoming a big prospect before a junior year injury.

#12 Indiana - 3 commits
DE
*
Josh Keyt
QB
*
Edward Wright-Baker
S
*
Nick Zachery.
Keyt is a long snapper/DE who will greyshirt, according to IUFootball (who deserves props: writing about Indiana football has to be among the most thankless jobs out there). Hoosiers grab Nick Zachery.

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Recruiting Update 6-27-08

Friday, June 27, 2008 by Tim

The recruiting board is all-new! If you have any problems with the new incarnation, e-mail me right away. If you have any suggestions, questions, etc., let me know.

Since it's still in the buggy stages, everything is still up to date at the old board as well.

Moved to Committed:
IN LB Jordan Barnes. Commit article.
TX WR DeWayne Peace. Commit article. He may be moved to another position as word comes out about where Michigan recruited him to play.

Added:
FL LB Jon Bostic. He apparently holds an offer.
OK DE Pearlie Graves. Awesome name, Michigan offer (info in header).

New Information:
FL LB Brandon Hawthorne. We already knew Michigan and USF were his top choices, now we know that Louisville, Tennessee, and West Virginia round out the top 5.
SC DE Chris Bonds. Top 5 of USC, USC, Michigan, ND, and 'Bama.
OH OL Chris Freeman. Article with no Michigan mention. He is teetering near the edge of being dropped.
OK CB Gabe Lynn. Audio interview in the radio, top 5 by end of summer.
OK RB David Oku. Nebraska official 9-27.

Removed:
PA CB Corey Brown. As expected, commits to Ohio State.
PA DE Juantez Hollins. Pitt commit.
MI TE Mitch Kessel. Cincinnati commit. He was a longshot to ever get an offer.

Analysis:
Losing Brown to the Bucks isn't that big a deal, because it was expected and prepared for, and means OSU is starting to run low on scholarships to give to other '09 prospects. Barnes is a Chris Graham-ish player, and he may see a move to MAX back. DeWayne Peace could be a good WR or CB.

Etc.:

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2008 Opponent Preview: Notre Dame

Thursday, June 26, 2008 by Tim

Notre Dame Offense:
QBs
After starting several QBs last year (with few positive results), the Irish are likely to turn to Jimmy Clausen full-time. Clausen was the class of 2007 uber-recruit, and if he is healthy this year (which he apparently wasn't last year), he can only improve on his performance. Evan Sharpley, who spent the spring at first base for the Irish, will return to the gridiron as the #2 guy. The distance between Clausen and Sharpley likely isn't that great. After Charlie Weis ran off all of ND's other quarterbacks, true freshman Dayne Crist might gain some playing time as #3.

Statistics:
Notre Dame Quarterbacks Passing 2007
Name
Comp
Att
%
Yds
TD
Int
Yds/Att
Jimmy Clausen
138
245
56.33
1254
7
6
5.12
Evan Sharpley
77
140
55.00
736
5
3
5.26
Demetrius Jones
1
3
33.33
4
0
0
1.33
Notre Dame Quarterbacks Rushing 2007
Name
Att
Yds
TD
Yds/Att
Demetrius Jones
12
28
0
2.33
Evan Sharpley
38
-95
0
-2.5
Jimmy Clausen
62
-187
2
-3.02

Analysis:
Demetrius Jones's stats were accumulated in the opener before Charlie Weis revealed that he had no intentions of actually , you know, playing him. Clausen should be improved, especially since most of his problems were due to awful protection. After he sat out two games later in the year, he performed well in the final three games (albeit against Air Force, Duke, and Stanford). His production against opponents with a pulse should be somewhere between that and how he performed earlier in the year.

RBs
Junior James Aldridge was the Irish's leading rusher last year, though he gained more than 100 yards only against Michigan State and Navy. He is a classic I-formation tailback, with enough size to take a beating between the tackles. However, he lacks elite speed. Backing him up is sophomore Armando Allen. Allen approached 100 yards against Navy (his best game). Sophomore Robert Hughes is a bruiser back, and he got a taste of playing time last year as well. Many think other schools didn't recruit him as hard as expected because of his plodding speed. Redshirt junior FB Asaph Schwapp returns to pave the way for the running backs. Walkon Luke Schmidt provides a bit of depth.

Statistics:
Notre Dame Running Backs Rushing 2007
Name
Att
Yds
TD
Yds/Att
James Aldridge
121
463
0
3.83
Armando Allen
86
348
0
4.05
Robert Hughes
53
294
4
5.55
Travis Thomas
27
58
5
2.15
Junior Jabbie
10
28
0
2.80
Asaph Schwapp
12
14
0
1.17
Notre Dame Running Backs Receiving 2007
Name
Rec
Yds
TD
Yds/Rec
Armando Allen
24
124
1
5.17
Junior Jabbie
14
123
0
8.79
James Aldridge
5
30
0
6.00
Asaph Schwapp
3
27
0
9.00
Robert Hughes
3
17
0
5.67
Luke Schmidt
3
16
0
5.33

Analysis:
While the Irish RBs aren't exactly game-breakers, their lack of success in 2007 was more on account of horrid OL play than a lack of ability on their end. They are adequate between-the-tackles types, and should have more success in 2008.

Receivers:
Senior David Grimes brings the most experience of the WR corps. He has been a role player for the past 3 years, and will likely stay out of the spotlight this year, as sophomore Duval Kamara will get the most balls thrown his way. Junior Robby Parris and Kamara are both over 6-3, and are likely to be jump ball threats. They led ND WRs last year. Freshman Michael Floyd should get significant playing time, and don't be surprised if he is starting by the end of the year. Tiny George West (5-8) will get some playing time at a slot-type position, and Golden Tate will look to augment his returning duties with more consistent receptions. He was electric when he could get the ball last year. At tight end, 5th-year senior John Carlson has departed, leaving junior Will Yeatman and true sophomore Mike Ragone to fill the void. Yeatman is a mountain of a man at 6-6, 263, but managed to get more receptions than Ragone last year.

Statistics:
Notre Dame Receivers 2007
Name
Rec
Yds
TD
Yds/Rec
John Carlson (TE)
40
372
3
9.30
Robby Parris
29
361
1
12.45
Duval Kamara
32
357
4
11.16
David Grimes
27
224
2
8.30
George West
21
172
0
8.19
Golden Tate
6
131
1
21.83
Will Yeatman (TE)
6
37
0
6.17
DJ Hord
2
7
0
3.5
Mike Ragone (TE)
1
7
0
7.00

Analysis:
Much like running backs, the main problem for receivers was the OL. If the Irish front five can buy enough time for the wideouts to get open, this should be a better year production-wise. Charlie Weis has to do a better job scheming to get Golden Tate the ball. He could excel from a slot position with two tall guys on the outside. I expect to see Yeatman and Ragone get about equal playing time. Yeatman's size should make him a great blocker (and, if last year is any indication, the OL needs all the help they can get), whereas Ragone is more of a receiver. Without a proven TE, I wonder if the young QBs' security blanket will be gone.

Line:
Mega lolz @ ND last year. They were far and away the worst offensive line in Division I football. Before ND apologists (like Charlie Weis) make excuses that they don't have the talent, keep in mind that the Irish started the following players:

Notre Dame O-Line 2007
LT
LG
C
RG
RT
Sam Young
Mike Turkovich
John Sullivan
Eric Olsen/
Dan Wenger
Paul Duncan
5-star
4-star
4-star
4-star
4-star
Sophomore
Junior
5th Year
Sophomore/
RS Freshman
Junior
13 Career Starts
15 Career Starts
33 Career Starts
Playing time as frosh/
none.
Backup 1st 2 years.

This was not an inexperienced or untalented line. Their lack of success speaks primarily to poor coaching, both positionally and from the offensive coordinator. With Weis ceding playcalling duties, they may improve in that respect, but their position coach remains the same. Fortunately for the Irish, almost everyone is back, except their best player, center John Sullivan. Wenger will slide over to take his spot, and the other positions should remain the same.

Analysis:
A year more experience will do the Irish some good, though losing their best player on the OL must hurt, especially when he was a leader like Sullivan was. Center will be the weak point of the Irish line, but they should improve in all respects. It's hard to imagine them being any worse.

Offensive Analysis:
The Irish offense certainly can't perform any worse than it did last year. With more experience everywhere, and only two key losses (Carlson and Sullivan), expect improvement. I question the position coaching pretty much everywhere (but mostly on the OL), but the Irish have talent. With Weis no longer calling plays, the sequencing should improve dramatically.

Notre Dame Defense:

Defensive Line:
The Irish are in the second year of their transition to the 3-4 defense. They lose both of their starting DEs from last year in Trevor Laws and Dwight Stephenson. Junior John Ryan comes down from a linebacker position to fill one of the needs, and senior Justin Brown will man the other spot. Pat Kuntz, a senior, returns at the nose. I question whether these three guys have enough size to be the space-eaters that the 3-4 defense requires its linemen to be. The ends are closer to linebackers, and Kuntz is more like a DE. Backing up the D-Linemen are Redshirt freshman Emeka Nwankwo, Ian Williams, and Morrice Richardson.

Statistics:
Notre Dame Defensive Line 2007
Name
Tackle
TFL
Sacks
Trevor Laws
112
8
4
Ian Williams
45
1.5
0
Pat Kuntz
43
2.5
0
Dwight Stephenson
40
4.5
1
Justin Brown
30
3.5
1
Morrice Richardson
7
1.5
1
Darrell Hand
3
0
0
Paddy Mullen
1
0
0

Analysis:
I'm not too concerned about the returners' lack of production last year, since the 3-4 scheme doesn't allow linemen to get a lot of stats. However, it's the aforementioned lack of size that is troubling for the Irish. I think opposing OLs worth anything will be able to discard the DL much more easily than the Irish would like, and the linebackers won't be free to roam. Another thing that Irish fans might be worried about is the semester-long absence of Pat Kuntz. He missed the spring, which may mean he needs a few games to get back up to speed.

Linebackers:
Notre Dame had approximately 6,000 linebackers play last year as they tried to find a set of four who were something other than miserable. Of their best unit, they lose all but Maurice Crum. Moving into starting positions will be sophomore Brian Smith on the strongside, and junior Toryan Smith at MLB, if he can fend off freshman Steve Filer. Sophomore Kerry Neal will take over on the weakside. Key backups lost include Anthony Vernaglia at the strongside, meaning ND is promoting a third-stringer to a starting role. Scott Smith, Steve Quinn, and Kellen Wade will by key backups.

Statistics:
Notre Dame Linebackers 2007
Name
Tackle
TFL
Sack
Int
FumRec
Joe Brockington
108
8.5
1
0
0
Maurice Crum
83
3.5
1
2
1
John Ryan*
39
5
2.5
0
0
Anothony Vernaglia
20
1
0
0
0
Kerry Neal
20
2
2
0
1
Scott Smith
18
0
0
0
0
Toryan Smith
14
1
0
0
0
Travis Thomas*
5
0
0
0
0
Steve Quinn
5
1
0
0
0
Kevin Washington
2
0
0
0
0
* Notes: Ryan has moved to the defensive line for 2008. Thomas alternated between RB and LB during his career, so his stats are included.

Analysis:
The 3-4 system is designed to feature the linebackers, and these guys didn't impress at all last year. Losing three starters certainly won't help them improve on their 2007 performance. These LBs are neither athletic nor tough enough to anchor a defense, and it appears as though Charlie Weis's genius switch to the 3-4 defense was not a great idea. With superior position coaching from Jon Tenuta, this group may be serviceable in '08.

Defensive Backs:
Terrail Lambert and Darrin Walls return at the corner positions. Lambert is a 5th-year senior, while Walls is a true junior. Between them, they started nearly every game last year, and Lambert was a starter in '06 as well. At the safety positions, David Bruton returns at free, while Tom Zbikowski (fyi, I've heard he's a boxer) will be replaced at strong safety by fellow slow white guy Kyle McCarthy. None of ND's returning players have impressed so far in their careers, while redshirt junior McCarthy is stepping into some big shoes (though Zbikowski sucked despite the hype).

Statistics:
Notre Dame Defensive Backs 2007
Name
Tackle
TFL
Sack
Int
David Bruton
85
4.5
1
3
Tom Zbikowski
80
1.5
1
2
Terrail Lambert
34
0
0
1
Darrin Walls
32
2.5
0
1
Ambrose Wooden
27
0
0
0
Kyle McCarthy
20
0
0
1
Raeshon McNeil
9
1
1
0
Mike Anello
7
0
0
0
Sergio Brown
7
0
0
0
Jashaad Gaines
6
0
0
0
Leo Ferrine
3
0
0
0
Munir Prince
3
0
0
0
Ray Herring
3
0
0
0
William David Williams
1
0
0
0

Analysis:
Though Terrail Lambert and Darrin Walls have played a lot, that unfortunately means little more than stepping onto the field and getting torched over and over again. Bruton was decent last year, though uninspiring. The experience of this group should provide the most comfort to fans, but the corners are slow, and McCarthy is no speed demon either. Matching up with speedy teams should be a huge problem.

Defensive Analysis:
Notre Dame, despite a lot of "solid, but uninspiring" comments from the likes of me, didn't perform too poorly on defense last year. However, one must call into question the caliber of opponent as well. Stanford, Duke, and Air Force are hardly formidable foes, and UCLA and Purdue had nobody fearing them most of the year (we won't get into the media overhyping of BC). They will take a small step forward this year, unless Jon Tenuta works some magic.

Special Teams:

Geoff Price returns as the punter. He got tons of practice last year (though Eric Maust also got 21 kicks in). Brandon Walker is the returning placekicker. He didn't have many attempts last year, and he was less than solid on them.

Statistics:
Notre Dame Kicking 2007
Name
FGM
Att
%
Long
XPM
Att
%
Brandon Walker
6
12
50.00
48
22
23
95.65
Notre Dame Punting 2007
Name
Punts
Yds
Avg
Geoff Price
54
2260
41.85

Analysis:
Kicking certainly isn’t a strong point for the Irish, and Walker had better improve or they are in trouble. Price is a good-not-great punter, despite all the practice he got last year (ZING!).

Overall Analysis:
The defense of Notre Dame shouldn't be significantly different from last year. I expect their pass defense to improve slightly, and their rush defense to decline slightly. It is on offense where they need to make huge strides. If the line can be anything other than terrible, and Clausen is healthy, the Irish should be far less pitiful in 2008. They won't be as good as they were with Brady Quinn, but there is no way they repeat last years nightmare.

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Keep Uniform Designs Coming

by Tim

I've gotten several submissions of alternate/new uniforms, however nearly all of them are... less than serious. Let's keep those submissions coming and who knows, maybe we'll see an actual design or two.

Coming later this afternoon: Notre Dame preview.

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The Newsome Thing

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 by Tim

As everyone likely knows by now, Michigan commit Kevin Newsome has decided to transfer from Western Branch High School, and will instead enroll at Hargrave Military Academy for his senior football season. Despite still being a high schooler, Newsome will participate on the post-graduate football team.

Most recruiting fans are only familiar with Hargrave Military Academy because of prospects who graduate from high school, but don't have the grades to qualify for college. Hargrave has a post-graduate program for "5th-year seniors" to improve their grades enough to qualify for college, while still playing football. Newsome doesn't have this issue because:
  1. He is going to Hargrave for his senior year, not after he graduates (the first time).
  2. He is a good student (NHS member, class president, etc.)
It seems like he has a good head on his shoulders, so I doubt it's because he needs to get grade or discipline issues sorted out. I would think it's something more along the lines of being prepared for college football (and Barwis!).

As for whether this is good for Michigan, I'm not sure. Hargrave seems to be pretty good about keeping college coaches away from already-committed players, but at the same time, they have a good relationship with Virginia Tech's coaching staff (3 cadets moved on to Virginia Tech just last year). Obviously, since Virginia Tech is one of the main competitor's for Newsome's services, that is slightly worrisome. However, Newsome's former high school coach seems to be putting some pro-VT pressure on Newsome:
"I thought when he picked Michigan, he jumped the gun a little bit, and I was disappointed," Johnston said. "I told him that."
"We're very close, and I've told him I'd like to see him stay closer to home," Johnston said. "I'm not going to push it, but there's something about playing in your home state."
It seems like Kevin might be trying to avoid those around him giving him undeserved grief for not picking their favorite school. Without knowing for sure why Newsome is moving to Hargrave, and how well-received Michigan's coaches are at that school (Rodriguez did get a commitment from a Cadet before moving on to Michigan last year), it is impossible to know whether this move impacts Michigan positively or negatively. Of course, down the road, it will be interesting to see whether this also affects Newsome's younger brother, Keevon.

And of course, the Free Press takes this as incontovertible evidence that Newsome's commitment to Michigan will not be honored.

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DeWayne Peace Goes Blue

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 by Tim

Completing the, uh, bi-fecta for the day, DeWayne Peace has committed to the Michigan Wolverines. Peace (6-0, 178, 4.68) is a DB/WR from South Grand Prairie HS in Texas. He becomes the 12th player in the 2009 class.

Commitment Notes
Peace was a somewhat under-the-radar prospect through much of his recruitment. Until early June, he favor the Texas A&M Aggies and the Kansas Jayhawks. That all changed with a visit to the Rich Rodriguez Football Camp, however. Peace and Michigan were mutually impressed, and upon Peace's return, A&M was out of the picture, and Michigan was in the top 2 with Kansas. DeWayne decided to end his recruitment shortly thereafter, and gave his word to become a Michigan Wolverine.

Player Notes
Peace has been impressive at both wideout and corner, and is known for good quickness and fluid hips. He moves in and out of breaks cleanly, and uses good routes to get open. At Michigan, it is unclear whether he will be a defensive back or wideout/slot.

Video

From the Super Jayhawk camp.

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Jordan Barnes Goes Blue

by Tim

Jordan Barnes, a three-star linebacker from Fort Wayne, IN, has given his word to become a Michigan Wolverine. The 6-0, 225 pound product of Homestead Senior High School, picked Michigan over Auburn and Alabama.

Recruiting Notes
Barnes grew up in the state of Alabama, and made it clear that the two in-state schools were his favorites early in the process. However, after attending the BBQ at the Big House, Michigan started making inroads. When he announced his intentions to have a press conference, it was clear that the Wolverines were in the running along with the two 'bama schools. Before he could get to a press conference, however, Barnes committed to the maize and blue.

Player notes
Barnes is a quick linebacker, and he uses his speed to make plays. His combination of good speed and slightly shorter stature make him a fit to end up on the weakside in college. His film shows that he could also move to the offensive side of the ball, where he could be a big, quick FB (MAX in the Rich Rodriguez system).

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2008 Opponent Preview: Miami

by Tim

Miami Offense:
QBs:
Last year’s starter, Mike Kokal, was pulled periodically throughout the year, before he was lost for the season with an injury. He was replaced by this year’s starter, Daniel Radabough. Radabough, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, while he wasn't the better QB, he wasn't a huge dropoff either, after working through a rough start. Radabough is an effective passer, but is not considered a mobile threat. Backing him up will be redshirt freshman Clay Belton. Belton has very good size, and is a better runner than Radabough. He may be able to overtake Radabough as the starter at some point during the year.

Statistics:
Miami Quarterbacks Passing 2007
Name
Comp
Att
%
Yds
TD
Int
Yds/Att
Daniel Radabough
209
382
54.71
2431
12
12
6.36
Mike Kokal
55
99
55.56
615
7
1
6.21
Utah Quarterbacks Rushing 2007
Name
Att
Yds
TD
Yds/Att
Mike Kokal
38
64
0
1.68
Daniel Radabough
38
27
0
0.71

Analysis:
Neither Radabough nor Belton is a game-changer, though Belton may be able to bring more to the RedHawk offense than his counterpart. He is inexperienced, but his mobility (and ability to throw on the run) can give him an edge. However, he’ll have to become a more complete thrower in order to replace Radabough.

RBs:
Last year, Miami’s stable of running backs was plagued by injuries, and most of their leading rushers have graduated. Cory Jones, Austin Sykes, and Brandon Murphy (the top 3) are gone, leaving #4 and #5, Sophomore Thomas Merriweather and redshirt sophomore Jamel Miller. They will split the load (Merriweather being the starter), with redshirt junior Andre Bratton serving as the backup. Freshman Dan Green will be expected to get a few carries.

Statistics:
Miami Running Backs Rushing 2007
Name
Att
Yds
TD
Yds/Att
Cory Jones
107
483
2
4.51
Austin Sykes
109
466
3
4.28
Brandon Murphy
31
201
2
6.48
Thomas Merriweather
40
143
4
3.58
Jamel Miller
22
95
1
4.32
Andre Bratton
17
72
1
4.24
T.J. Lattimore
13
36
0
2.77
Miami Running Backs Receiving 2007
Name
Att
Yds
TD
Yds/Rec
Cory Jones
14
115
1
8.21
Austin Sykes
13
88
0
6.77
Brandon Murphy
2
15
0
7.50
Andre Bratton
1
8
0
8.00
Jamel Miller
1
3
0
3.00
TJ Lattimore
1
0
0
0.00

Analysis:
Most of Miami’s backs are cut from the same mold: pretty short, pretty light, and not fast enough to make up for their deficiencies in the other areas. They aren’t game-changers by any stretch of the imagination, and Michigan’s linebackers should be able to gobble them up. This is especially true with the complete lack of depth they return.

Receivers:
The starters will be Dustin Woods (junior and returning starter), and Eugene Harris and Armand Robinson (sophomores). This is a very young group, but Harris and Robinson both got quite a bit of experience last year, as did fellow sophomore Chris Givens. Woods missed a couple of games, but still managed to be the team’s leading receiver. As is often the case with lesser-tier teams, they are shorter, but speedy. Woods is hailed as the team’s fastest player, and Givens brings the size at 6-2. Miami has tons of underclassmen WRs returning. Senior Tom Crabtree is the starting tight end, with experienced Jake O’Connell the key backup. They split starts last year, with Crabtree getting more. The two had 29 catches between them last year, and the tight end is not a huge part of the Miami offense.

Statistics:
Miami Receivers 2007
Name
Rec
Yds
TD
Yds/Rec
Dustin Woods
40
603
1
15.08
Eugene Harris
46
542
2
11.78
Armand Robinson
33
471
3
14.27
Chris Givens
25
430
2
17.20
Jamal Rogers
19
173
1
9.11
Jake O'Connell (TE)
14
152
2
10.86
Tom Crabtree (TE)
15
139
1
9.27
Sean McVay
18
108
0
6.00
Jared Elliott
9
105
0
11.67
Donovan Potter
10
81
0
8.10
Pat Shepard (TE)
2
8
0
4.00
Pat LaMonica
1
5
0
5.00
Miami Receivers Rushing 2007
Name
Att
Yds
TD
Yds/Att
Jamal Rogers
10
75
0
7.50
Eugene Harris
9
26
1
2.89
Sean McVay
3
23
0
7.67
Dustin Woods
1
5
0
5.00

Analysis:
Much like Utah, I don’t expect the short speedy receiver type to be a huge problem for Michigan’s defensive secondary. The top two corners are both 6-0+, and there is plenty of speed available there. Miami returns a lot of experience, despite their youth. This should be a solid, if unexceptional, group.

Offensive Line:
The RedHawks return 3 starters from 2007’s offensive line. Steve Sutter moves from right tackle to protecting the QB’s blindside, giving Miami a strong left side along with returning LG and fellow senior Dave DiFranco. Last year’s starting right guard, Josh Satterthwait is also expected to make a move, to center. This means that all three of Miami’s seniors and returning starters are on the left side. Redshirt sophomore Bob gulley got some experience last year, and is expected to start at right guard. At right tackle will be massive Zachary S. Marshall, who transferred from Maryland after redshirting in 2005. He will be a redshirt junior (and probably move over to the left side for the 2009 season).

Analysis:
The offensive line will have to excel to pave the way for new running backs. The left side should be solid in run blocking, and with the three experienced players on that side I expect much of Miami’s running to go to that side. In pass protection, they may struggle a bit, but if Belton is able to win the starting job, his mobility will help the O-line. I wonder if there will be continuity problems with two of the three returning starters at new positions.

Offensive Analysis:

With a new set of running backs, as well as a (somewhat) new QB, it will be interesting to see if Miami can get the ball into playmakers' hands on the outside. The Michigan defense should be able to beat on the RedHawks solely based on their superior talent.

Miami Defense:
Defensive Line:

Defensive ends Joe Coniglio and Travis Craven were #1 and #3 on the team in sacks last year. Coniglio, a senior and former running back, was third team All-MAC. Craven, who will be a junior this fall, was a defensive tackle last year, who is now moving to his more natural defensive end position. He is a big player at DE, and is likely to be more of a run-stuffer than a sackmaster (he had 3 sackas last year). At the tackle positions, They have junior Martin Channels back, after starting 5 games last year. He is short and big, at over 330 pounds. Sean Redwine is projected to start next to him. The sophomore is built more like a big DE than a true DT. He will try to get penetration in the passing game, and make stops in the backfield against the run. The depth is provided by junior Mark Paun and sophomore Morris Council. Both played spot roles last year.

Statistics:
Miami Defensive Line 2007
Name
Tackle
TFL
Sacks
Joe Coniglio
40
10.5
6.5
Craig Mester
23
3.5
2
Martin Channels
22
5.5
2
Jordan Stevens
22
3.5
2
Travis Craven
21
4.5
3.5
Alex Stewart
21
2
1
Sean Redwine
21
1.5
1
Ben Huddle
14
2
0
Morris Council
10
3.5
2
DJ Svabik
5
0
0
Nick DeBartolo
5
0
0
Mark Paun
3
0
0

Analysis:
Miami has a big defensive line, especially for a lesser-conference school. The defensive ends don't appear to be quick against the run, and only DT Sean Redwine appears to be particularly speedy for his position. This defensive line appears to be geared to stop a power run game, with a little pressure on the pass game. They didn't have a lot of tackles as a unit last year (and their rotation was smaller than one might expect).

Linebackers:
The linebacking corps is by far the strength of the Miami defense. They return all three starters, and the three led the team in tackles last year. Caleb Bostic, the least heralded of the three, returns on the strong side. Clayton Mullins, the defending conference defensive player of the year, roams the weakside. Joey Hudson is the man in the middle, and he had the least tackles of the three last year. Despite that, he was 2nd team all-conference. Hudson's backup, Chris Shula, is also a senior, and the outside spots are backed up by true sophomores.

Statistics:
Miami Linebackers 2007
Name
Tackle
TFL
Sack
Int
Clayton Mullins
143
13.5
4
0
Caleb Bostic
102
11
1
1
Joey Hudson
99
8
2
2
Chris Shula
54
4
2
0
Ryan Kennedy
9
1
1
0
Ben Bennett
9
1
0
0
Mickey Mann
4
0
0
0

Analysis:
With three returning starters, this is by far the strong point of the D. If the defensive line can keep blockers off, they should be able to make a lot of plays for the RedHawks. All have very good size to handle things on the interior. However, I wonder if that size is a blessing and a curse, leaving them vulnerable to the outside run. Mullins is almost 250 pounds on the weakside. If the quickness is there, they will be very good against the run. Still, I will question how well big linebackers can drop into coverage or man up on TEs. Also, with three returning starters (and little depth behind them) an injury could be devestating to the LB corps.

Defensive Backs:
The safeties for Miami are very experienced. Senior Robbie Wilson and junior Jordan Gafford both started every game last year. They ranked directly behind the three linebackers in terms of total tackles, but didn't seem to be big playmakers in terms of picking the ball off or breaking up a ton of passes. Their backups are both sophomores who got very little playing time last year. The corners are both juniors. Jeff Thompson makes it 3/3 for returning DBs who started every game last year. He is short at 5-10, but has good mass to make up for it. At the lower level, however, that will always make you question a guy's speed. He only broke up 3 passes all of last year. On the other side is new starter Wendell Brunson. The junior was the primary backup last year.

Statistics:
Miami Defensive Backs 2007
Name
Tackle
TFL
Sack
Int
Jordan Gafford
89
2
0
1
Robbie Wilson
75
1
0
1
Jerrid Gaines
43
2.5
0
2
Jeff Thompson
41
2
1
3
Wendell Brunson
18
0
0
1
Peris Edwards
17
0
0
0
Brandon Stephens
14
3.5
0
0
Brian Palazcak
10
0
0
0
DeAndre Gilmore
7
1
1
0
Bryan Roland
1
0
0
0

Analysis:
With a lot of experience in the secondary, Miami will be the second straight team Michigan faces that should be strong against the pass. However, their returners were solid, not spectaular last year, so it will be interesting to see if they make a leap to better production and playmaking. Going over the middle will be tough with a pair of good safeties, but I wonder if their corners have the quickness to cover the outside, especially with an effective screen game.

Defensive Analysis:

The Michigan run game will require a lot of quickness over brute strength to really take it to Miami. The passing game should be more successful if they are able to avoid the safeties. With the RedHawks using a lot of man coverage, expect to see mismatches used on screens to exploit the weaknesses in depth.

Special Teams:
Jacob Richardson is the returning starter at punter. He is entering his fourth year as the starter. He missed spring with an injury to his kicking leg. Fellow senior Nathan Parseghian (who is the great grandnephew of former RedHawk Ara) is the returning kicker. He had Gingell-ian struggles last year, connecting on only 13 of his 20 FG attempts.

Statistics:
Miami Kicking 2007
Name
FGM
Att
%
Long
XPM
Att
%
Nate Parseghian
13
20
65.00
51
18
18
100.00
Miami Punting 2007
Name
Punts
Yds
Avg
Jacob Richardson
68
3063
45.04

Analysis:
It doesn't appear as though the Miami special teams with be something to fear, though the punting looks to be stronger than the kicking. If Parseghian can improve, Miami's special teams should be solid enough to get by.

Overall Analysis:
Miami, a year after reaching the MAC championship game, is expected to finish second in the eastern division. They shouldn't be as strong a team as any others (except maybe Toledo) on Michigan's schedule. After the Utah game, this should be another opportunity to fine-tune the offense before Notre Dame, and hopefully develop the defense into a dominating unit.

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